You Don’t Get Big Bucks For What You Do, But What You Know

You Don’t Get Big Bucks For What You Do, But What You Know


You Don’t Get Big Bucks For What You Do, But What You Know…

I might be late to the table, but I had some recent thoughts on the fast food workers versus $15 per hour wage debate.  For those of you who might not be familiar with the debate, the fast food workers in the United States have been demanding a pay increase to $15 per hour.  My thoughts began when Evelina and I went on our New York road trip and a McDonald’s location had a ton of self-serve kiosks.

Listening to the fast workers argue for more money reminded me of something a friend of mine told me many years ago.  He said, “You don’t get paid big bucks for what you do, but what you know.”  At that time he was a pilot and I was a golf pro.  He made a great salary and I made an average salary.  His point was that he got paid big dollars not to fly a plane, but to keep it from crashing.  He had knowledge that the common person didn’t have; that being how to fly and land a jumbo jet full of passengers.

I on the other hand was a golf pro and golf pros are a dime-a-dozen.  There was no particular knowledge that I possessed that any other golf pro didn’t possess.  And when you work a job which isn’t based on specialized knowledge, you put yourself in a position to have your pay limited.  And you shouldn’t be surprised when it is.

Most jobs have a pay ceiling.  If I walked into my bosses office tomorrow and asked for twice the going rate for my position I better be one heck of a sales person or get prepared to have my request denied.

Once I recognized the value of specialized knowledge I dedicated myself to developing specific skills in my current role and voila, an opportunity presented itself.

I have recognized that if I want to make 4, 5 or even 10 times what I make now, that I must know something that others don’t know; especially something my company wants that I possess particular knowledge about.

No offense to fast food workers, but there is no particular, specialized skill set needed to perform their duties.  And because of this fact, their pay will always be capped.  Even if they get a raise to $15 per hour, how long will it be until they demand $18 or $20 per hour?  At this point we are talking simple economics; the pay will eventually exceed the value of the job.

Don’t make the same mistake, make sure what you know is incredibly desirable and sought after, not ordinary and commonplace.



17 thoughts on “You Don’t Get Big Bucks For What You Do, But What You Know

    1. To be clear, I never said “talent”. I said “knowledge”. The 2 are very different things. And the income to inflation issue is a real thing. It doesn’t change the fact that most jobs have a pay ceiling. If you owned a restaurant, would you pay a fry cook $50 per hour? You would find the truth to be that if you did, you wouldn’t be in business long as the margins in the restaurant business are incredibly tight and profit is thin.

      1. By talent I meant ability. If someone has limited mental or physical capabilities does that mean their income potential is fixed forever?

      2. But my post specifically mentioned “knowledge” not ability or talent. These things are completely autonomous of one another; 2 completely different conversations. I don’t mean to be argumentative, but I think it is important to recognize the exact topic of my post. But to address your comment, I believe people are only limited by the limits they place on themselves. I cite John Cronin of John’s Crazy Socks as a perfect example. Or even myself as I battle MS each day.

      3. I would say “Yes and No” in this capitalist society that we have. “yes” in as much as it’s just economics, having limited skill sets for the market place or being in an antiquated profession. mental and physical handicaps can prevent opportunities if you can’t perform the duties of the profession or don’t have the capacity to learn and retain new skills. “No” in as much as it’s been demonstrated that physical handicaps and even some mental handicaps can be overcome the question essentially comes down do you have the desire and motivation to overcome obstacles in your way?

      4. I think it’s harsh to assume your determination can project you to a point when you don’t have the money or mental ability to improve yourself. I think I’m looking at this the wrong way, can’t explain myself well.

      5. I think it is important to note we are speaking of people who don’t have disabilities and or mental impairments. That is a completely different conversation. My thoughts are focused more on the larger percentage of the population.

      6. But your point is fair. And the problem with minimum wage jobs is the fact that they will always be minimum wage jobs. And minimum wage jobs will always have a low ceiling. When I was younger and gaining work experience I had to work 3 jobs to make ends meet.

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