What’s Your Value Imbalance?

(Listen to this post, here.)

Did you hear the recent story about Shaquille O’Neal?

Apparently, and according to the … let’s say, “journalists” … at Inside Edition, the retired basketball star was jewelry shopping at a store in Atlanta, when he overheard a young man talking with the salesperson about layaway terms for an engagement ring.

So, Shaq pulled out his credit card and paid for the ring.

I love that story – and not just because any video involving Shaq is an opportunity to gawk at how insanely large he is.

It’s just nice to see, and the kind of thing we all hope we would do were we also unnervingly rich.

But it does highlight the opportunity that arises when there’s a large gap between the value to one person and the cost to another, of a given thing.

Here’s what I mean…

The value of that engagement ring to the kid? Super high. He was definitely going to buy it, it was just a question of negotiating a payment schedule he could manage.

But the cost to Shaq of buying the ring? Effectively zero, given his wealth. To him, it was just a nice gesture, the way you or I might hold the door open for someone walking up behind us.

Look for the Overlap

When it comes to your business, these types of “value imbalances” (I put it in quotes so it wouldn’t sound like something I just made up 30 seconds ago) also present an opportunity.

In fact, it’s precisely within this overlapping Venn diagram – between what’s easy for you to provide and what your clients perceive as high value – where you want to situate your services.

Let’s use me as an example, since I’m sitting right here and I’m sure you’ve got better things to do.

I specialize in email newsletters, something I’ve been doing for nearly 20 years.

And while it’s true that I do other types of things for clients – web site copy, marketing coaching, training programs, etc. – all that stuff is actual work.

Newsletters, on the other hand? Those I find easy.

And enjoyable. And no matter how many hundreds I’ve written and published over the years, somehow, like looking at a photo of George Clooney, it just never gets old.

For reasons that I don’t quite understand, this one odd thing – not writing in general, not marketing overall – is a perfect match for what I’m both good at and what I enjoy.

And, thankfully, it’s perceived as both high value and not easy or enjoyable by the kinds of people I like to work with.

In other words, Value Imbalance. (This time I capitalized it, so now it really feels like a thing.)

Here’s the bottom line.

There’s nothing wrong with working hard; I would just rather not.

And besides, your clients couldn’t care less about your effort – all they want is a high quality whatever, delivered on time and as promised.

Your challenge, therefore, is to find your own Value Imbalance – the overlap between what’s easy for you and hard/confusing/distasteful/necessary to the people with whom you would like to work.

Figure that out, and everybody goes home with a ring.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Have you ever met Shaquille O’Neal? Send photos.
  2. How long did you spend looking at that George Clooney photo?
  3. Where is your Value Imbalance?

Share your answers below…

If you liked this article you’ll love the next one (I’ve been holding back on the good ones until you subscribe). Click here to sign up for future posts.

22 thoughts on “What’s Your Value Imbalance?

  1. Elly J van Laar

    1. Never met Shaquille O’Neal. Not sure if I know who he is, although the picture reminded me of Beverly Hills?
    2. George Clooney is handsome, but I spend more time gawking at my husband.
    3. Conflict resolution and mediatiing.

  2. Bob Keil

    1 & 2 never as for #3 I would like to know. I was happy running companies but I can’t do that anymore. We’ll see. I like writing, email and newsletters, I guess but not much work so far.

  3. Stacey Shipman

    1. Never met him
    2. Looked for a second (great smile!)
    3. Facilitating [networking] events/opportunities. Simple & rewarding for me, high value for others. And my “shed the formality” approach is what differentiates my work and ability to connect people from others.

  4. Jim Schaffer

    1. I was at Reebok Corporate one day when they were still located in Canton. Shaquille was also there that day, standing with his entourage in the same general area in which I was waiting for the person I was there to see. So, although we weren’t formerly introduced, we were all kind of hanging out together for a couple of minutes.
    2. Didn’t click on the link. Not my type.
    3. I love teaching salespeople how to deal with their jobs more effectively and, yes, turn pain into joy, by applying mindfulness principles.

  5. Don Sadler

    You really nailed this one, Michael. It’s great to see someone else admit he’d really rather not work hard if he doesn’t have to!

    I’ve also found this sweet spot of creating content (mainly blogs and articles) for industries (financial services and B2B) with high demand for what I provide. I’ve been doing it 30+ years so it’s relatively easy for me, and I’m good at it and, as you say, strangely enjoy it for some weird reason. So I try to stay in this niche as much as possible. When I go outside of it, the work gets harder, takes longer and is less profitable. And I get crankier!

  6. Craig Watkins

    Whenever I saw the dog poop picker upper truck across the street, I didn’t think Venn diagram but thought, wow, there’s a Value Imbalance niche. Well, I didn’t really know it was a Value Imbalance, but now I do. (I did try to get in the head of the picker upper himself as he went about his work, but then decided that wasn’t high-value thinking and that I was glad I didn’t have a dog.)

  7. Mark Walker

    Hi, Michael, another fun letter! The Venn diagrams were enlightening and hysterical!
    1) No, haven’t met Shaq(which would make quite a picture as I’m 5’2″) but I did have the honor and privilege to meet Muhammed Ali.
    2) Didn’t bother to look at George Clooney, he’s handsome but just an okay actor…
    3) When I went into graphics and illustration after slugging away in the theatre, I felt that value imbalance, then later when I could “phone in” a set design. Now, whenever I get paid to write I feel this. If you love what you do– it’s not work!

    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Great about Ali. Amazing!

      My closest brush with fame was two hours in a room alone with Ben Stiller (long story). He wasn’t famous yet, just a kid in high school.

  8. Halina

    This was my favorite newsletter of yours so far!

    1. Never met him.
    2. 2.4 seconds (not a huge fan, although I loved him in O’ Brother Where Art Thou)
    3. I’d say empathy and active listening. I ask a lot of questions and people really feel heard. Now that I’ve written it down, I can see more easily how I can use that in my writing…. thanks Michael!

  9. Jean Gogolin

    1) I adore Shaq but alas have never met him.

    2) Anytime you wish to post pix of George, I will look at him a looong time. Never mind Amal. Or the twins.

    3) What was question 3?

  10. Heather

    I’m still looking at it. Going to bookmark it and look at it again later after I figure out what my “ring” is.

    Thanks Michael!

  11. Carol Quinn

    1) I’ve never met Shaq. Seen a couple of movies he was in.
    2) George has a devilishly handsome smile! (enjoyed for a few minutes)
    3) Still trying to find my voice, and communicate effectively


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *