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Contribution & Contribution (Reading Notes 8.18.18)

Resource: You don’t need confidence, just contribution.


Focus on doing work that’s meaningful to you and that makes small differences in the lives of a few people. Your projects don’t need to be earth-shattering and revolutionary in order to be worth doing.

If you’re going to learn something, find a way to share what you learned. Don’t selfishly bottle up your interesting discoveries.


“Learning without doing is wasted. If I don’t use what I learn, then it was pointless! How horrible to waste those hundreds of hours I spent learning, and not turn it into action. Like throwing good food in the trash: it’s morally wrong.”

“This isn’t about me. How I feel in this moment doesn’t matter — it will pass. Nobody is judging me, because nobody is thinking of me. They are just looking for things to improve their own life. The public me is not the real me anyway, so if they judge my public persona, that’s fine.”

“The work is the point, and my work is unique. If I can do something that people find useful, then I should. It doesn’t matter if it’s a masterpiece or not, as long as I enjoy it. I’ve got my own weird angle on things that’s a useful counter-melody in the big orchestra of life.”

Resource: All other things being equal (simple contribution analysis for pricing)


The price you charge is a signal of your own perceived worth.

Your price is not only part of the product you sell, it’s part of the story you tell.

When you think about your prices, you need to think about what it takes to make the existence and growth of your business sustainable.


“If you make a product that costs $5 to produce and package, how much should you charge for it? I don’t know. But there’s a simple bit of arithmetic you can do to understand sensitivity in pricing. Should you charge $7 or $9? Well, if you charge $7, you make $2 a unit. If you charge $9, you make $4 a unit, or twice as much. Which means, all other things being equal, you’ll need to sell twice as many at $7 as you’ll need to sell at $9. It doesn’t feel that way, but it’s true. 100 sold at $9 is more profitable than 180 sold at $7. And to take it a step further, you’ll need to sell 800 at $5.50 to make as much as you would have made at $9. Eight times as many.”

“No one knows what your demand curve is going to be like, no one is sure what impact your pricing will have on all the other items you sell. But be honest with yourself about contribution. Price is a story, it’s a story we tell ourselves and others about what we have to offer. But price is also the path to being able to stay in business.”

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