• Ben Barber

Putting People First

Updated: Mar 29

How #empathy put me in the position to launch the #mediacompany of my dreams.

Something I have often gotten criticized for from my friends who are not entrepreneurs, is my tendency to give away too much. To give away my time, to give away my money, to give away services to people who need them. They have a point, to some extent. You can’t give from an empty cup, of course.

But for me personally and professionally, it’s always been about putting people first.

I have a tendency to overpay for services provided for me and to undercharge for services that I provide for others. That is a delicate dance, and one that I am improving on in ways that still align with my core values, but the principle behind my choices I think is very solid. Empathy.

Empathy for others is a superpower and something nearly all of us have an abundance of. It’s just about knowing when to tap into your empathy and when to know that boundaries are necessary. For me, empathy has led me to work with many amazing non-profits, to help out in situations where it wasn’t clear for me or my business what the “ROI” was at the moment we decided to help… but let me tell you, it was always worth it.

At the beginning of the pandemic I was in the extremely fortunate position of being “in-demand.” Someone with a skillset in virtual events, livestreams, online content creation, video and audio editing and social marketing all of a sudden became extremely valuable to every business, organization, municipality and more. My phone was ringing off the hook with churches, state and local officials, non-profits, chambers of commerce and small businesses looking for help. I had the ability to name my price and being in the smallest state with very limited options other than myself, none of these people would have had a choice but to pay me whatever I asked. I didn’t do that though… Instead of asking for what I could have, I charged what they could pay.

This wasn’t because I was rolling in money and didn’t have a care in the world. For the 15 years before 2020 my main job was taking care of my parents. Shopping cooking, taking my mom to doctors appointments, yes I started and ran a few businesses but my first concern was always family and my bank account definitely showed that. In January of 2020, both of my parents went into the nursing home, which added new levels of stress and financial burden… if ever I was going to capitalize on a situation to overcharge clients and take advantage it would have been then. When I say it never even crossed my mind, I mean… it really never did. These were organizations and businesses and leaders who were struggling the same way I was… So I charged a rate that, yes, professionally was too low for my services. Putting people first was the priority.

It was a choice that profoundly effected my next 18 months. My name was passed from organization to organization faster than any amount of paid marketing would have done for me. One day I was producing a press conference for a member of the town council and a few days later I was producing an event for the Governor, then Congress. Hosting and producing county fairs that helped over 2 dozen non-profits. I was live-streaming up to 8 church services a week. The list of things I got the opportunity to do goes on and on and it is something I am extremely proud of.

Did I become rich off of the last year and a half of unprecedented personal/professional growth… no. Did I leave a ton of money on the table in nearly every single one of these transactions? Most definitely. Would I have changed it? Not for a second.

This is not a manifesto telling everyone who is reading it to undercharge and not ask what they are worth. However, putting people first put me in the position to launch #32OneMedia with a fellow entrepreneur and friend. Building up others and filling my network with empathy has allowed me to prosper personally, and now financially without changing who I am.

Nice guys don’t actually finish last. They might be bad at sprints, but lucky for us this is a marathon

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