If you haven’t seen the German film, The Lives of Others, stop what you’re doing and go rent it on Amazon. It’s set in 1984 East Germany and tells a surprising story of Stasi (“secret” police) surveillance of artists in their private lives. Many of the props used are actual remnants from the former police state.
Made in 2006, it won Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 2007. Production costs were $2 million. The actors were so committed to the project they took 80% pay cuts for their roles. The film went on to gross more than $77 million, as of 10 years ago.
The mission of the Mixonian is teach professionals how to create more value and make more money.
Yet it sometimes pays to make less. [Likewise it can be profitable to take on low profile projects at work.]
In 2012 I took a pay cut to work as a contract software trainer. The investment paid off as I learned the inner workings of the hot healthcare tech scene and what it’s like to work in a huge company. In the process I became the go-to communications person for technical professionals.
When I lived in Venezuela, I worked for dimes on the U.S. dollar in the local economy (as compared to cushy ex-pat pay.) The experience was priceless.
My husband, Ruben, moved here in 2010, leaving a cushy position at the most prestigious conservatory in Venezuela. In Charleston, he started off working part-time in the school music system, making $10/hour. While highly unusual for a Juilliard grad, this temporary job helped him acclimate to the local music scene and begin building Charleston International Music School.
Most entrepreneurs take a 100% pay cut when they start their new ventures.
Interns have frequently worked for nothing, but that’s normal. Going from senior engineer to junior in another company or industry or country is not normal…. but can be a clever move.
But what about the risk? What if you never make it back to what you’re making now? Or far worse, what if… you never try that thing that keeps coming to your mind?
Maybe you’re contemplating some of these:
- spend more time on a different project, which could include family
- learn a new skill
- work in a different industry…or country…or Charleston, SC 🙂
- work with a particular person (this might have to be for free)
- start a company but need a source of reliable income from a “bridge job”
- hire a professional coach, so paying her cuts into your take home
- train for that Iron Man or other extreme sporting event
Yes, you have bills to pay but living lean allows you to work on interesting projects for less from time to time. If you want help living below your means, Dave Ramsey is your man.
Even if you stay where you are, the freedom to choose other options is quintessentially Antifragile.
There is nothing that builds solid confidence than knowing you can work for less, even when you don’t. As Hugh McLeod puts it, “The best way to get approval is not to need it.”
Working for less for your own greater good is investing in yourself. That investment always pays.