“Imagine a chessboard. Now imagine the squares on the board as days that you receive allowance. Suppose you are given two options for being paid. The first option, you receive $100 for every square on the board. The second option, you receive one penny for the first square, but your payment will double every day until the chessboard is filled.”
She waited a moment before asking “Who would choose option number one?”
Nearly every hand in the room shot towards the ceiling.
I say nearly every hand because mine was not among them. Before answering, I wanted to calculate the results of both options.
Option one was relatively simple: A chessboard has 8 rows and 8 columns, meaning 64 total squares. At the end of 64 days, when all of the squares were filled, there would be 64*($100), or $6,400 on the chessboard.
Option two was more difficult to calculate. Unaware of a more sophisticated way of figuring it out, I began to write out every day by hand:
At that point, it was clear that option two was better. In my excitement, I practically jumped out of my seat to triumphantly announce my answer.
Option number two!, I cried out defiantly.
The entire class looked at me in disbelief. I had dared to disagree with the majority, and as a result, most of them giggled at my foolishness.
My teacher silenced them before asking me for confirmation. “So Shaun, you mean to say that you wouldn’t want $100 a day?”
I explained that option one was better only up to a certain point. Though it initially seems like option two is worth less, over time it’s worth more.
She moved to the blackboard, where she wrote the following:
Payment Option One
Earnings Day 1: $100
Earnings Day 2: $100
Earnings Day 3: $100
Earnings Day 4: $100
Earnings Day 5: $100
Earnings Day 64: $100
Total Earnings: $6400
She stepped away from the board and reminded the class how almost everyone immediately chose this option. The class nodded, still content with their answer, practically licking their lips at the thought of $100 a day.
She returned to the board while saying “Now let’s see how much Shaun will be paid.” The class remained silent as she wrote the following:
Payment Option Two
Earnings Day 1: $0.01
Earnings Day 2: $0.02
Earnings Day 3: $0.04
Earnings Day 4: $0.08
Earnings Day 5: $0.16
Earnings Day 64: $92,233,720,368,547,800
Total Earnings: $184,467,440,737,095,000
The class looked at the value, dumbfounded. So did I. We were at an age where one hundred dollars seemed like a lot of money, and our teacher expected us to comprehend 184 quadrillion dollars. The fact that the value was beyond comprehension further emphasized the power of exponential growth.
Her lesson that day took permanent residence inside my head. Now, fourteen years later, I’m applying the power of exponential growth to my income.
How It Works
Suppose that for every person that visits LifeReboot.com, I earn a penny. Though this is a gross simplification of how a blog truly earns money, it will suffice for this discussion.
Now let’s suppose that I’m meeting someone for the first time. During our conversation, I’m asked what I do for a living. I explain that I’m a writer for a website called LifeReboot.com. I go on to describe how the site promotes articles pertaining to personal development, with a strong emphasis on reinventing yourself. The person I’m talking to tells me they’ll check it out.
Sometime later, the person visits LifeReboot.com, and I earn $0.01. There’s a chance that they won’t find anything of value and never visit the site again. There is also a chance that the person will enjoy the site so much they are compelled to share it with other people. This is where exponential growth comes into play.
From one visitor, I earn $0.01.
That one visitor tells 2 friends ($0.02),
and those 2 friends tell 4 others ($0.04),
and those 4 others tell 8 others ($0.08),
and those 8 others tell 16 others ($0.16),
and those 16 others tell 32 others ($0.32),
and those 32 others tell 64 others ($0.64),
and those 64 others tell 128 others ($1.28),
and those 128 others tell 256 others ($2.56)…
…and it continues in this manner as in the example above.
I’m not suggesting that I believe my site will eventually earn millions of dollars a day. I’m simply stating that more and more people are continuing to discover the articles on LifeReboot. New readers regularly leave comments on articles that I wrote months ago, and I think it’s fascinating.
It’s as if each time I publish an article, I create a permanent storyteller that tirelessly shares one story over and over again to whoever is reading at any particular moment. This storyteller is a part of me, frozen in time, that shares my ideas for me no matter where I am or what I’m doing.
In other words, this blog works for me, turning pennies into dollars on a daily basis whether I decide to work or not. I’ve written about this topic numerous times because I’m regularly surprised, excited, and anxious to share the latest results of my online experiment. As a result, I’ve gotten in the habit of publishing my blog’s earnings at the start of each month.
The thing is, some of my regular readers have indicated that they have grown tired of reading the same discussion month after month. So this will be the last time. In the future, if I want to provide an update the blog’s monthly earnings, I will just edit this article. (Updated 2-5-2008)
LifeReboot's Monthly Earnings
MAR 2007: $0
APR 2007: $42 (Average $1.40/day)
MAY 2007: $126 (Average $4.20/day)
JUN 2007: $171 (Average $5.70/day)
JUL 2007: $373 (Average $12.43/day)
AUG 2007: $693 (Average $23.10/day)
SEP 2007: $805 (Average $26.83/day)
OCT 2007: $522 (Average $17.40/day)
NOV 2007: $92 (Average $3.06/day)
DEC 2007: $549 (Average $18.30/day)
JAN 2008: $78 (Average $2.60/day)
Though I am proud of my earnings, the naysayers constantly view them as pathetic. They felt that averaging only $10 a day after five months of writing is laughable, as the following comments indicate:
You call yourself an entrepreneur because you make $10 / day after 5 months? If you ever make any real money on the internet you will look back at this nonsense and realize you were completely retarded.
$10 a day? How can you possibly live off that. If you consider an average 8 hour work day that would equate to $1.25 a day, grossly below minimum wage.
Even beggars enjoy higher income than you.
I don’t understand why they were so unimpressed.
Maybe they didn’t understand that the money is being earned without a traditional job. Maybe they didn’t understand that the site is a long-term investment. Maybe they don’t recognize how I’ve created a money-making system that requires no inventory, no employees, and (arguably) no work.
I simply do what comes naturally to me — I write, and I’m being paid to do it.
I won’t deny that I’m currently making diddlysquat. I even admit that any job paying minimum wage would likely exceed my current daily income. The thing is, I really don’t want to go that route unless I absolutely must.
To me, getting a day job is like choosing payment option one. You settle for earnings that are immediately beneficial, but ultimately linear.
Right now, I don’t want to settle. I want to continue experimenting with exponential growth. After all, imagine what would happen if it works.
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