Help Yourself by Helping Others

GabeEconomics(ML), Mini Lessons

Read from Common Sense Economics eBook:

When you think of Steve Jobs, do you think of someone who was selfish? Greedy? Out to cheat you out of your hard-earned money by giving you a shoddy product? No, you think of a visionary designer, product engineer, and innovator. Yet he also became one of the wealthiest people on the planet.

The reason he became wealthy, is that he helped people. A lot of people. And he helped them a lot! If your goal in life is to get wealthy, that’s what you need to do as well.

Profit is, simplistically put, the difference between your revenue and your expenditures. It is measured in money, but can also be looked at as the measure of how much you have helped others. The more helpful you are, the bigger your profit.

If you make a loss, by contrast, it means you are taking valuable resources and turning it into something less valuable. Have you ever shopped at a “going out of business” sale? Some of the best deals are found there – especially on things like tables, chairs, desks, and other non-products. A business owner paid lots of money for them, but they are now often almost useless. He’s turned valuable stuff into less valuable stuff (and given you potentially a great deal!).

Of course, not all businesses are honest, and there is fraud, deception, and theft. But people engaged in these things don’t usually stay around long, and their story usually ends badly. People who get, and stay rich are those who find ways, like Steve Jobs did, to help lots of people.

  1. Steve Jobs excelled in creating and modifying new kinds of products and ways of doing things. But you can add value in much more common ways:
  2. When you babysit for a neighbor, how are you helping the neighbor? Assuming you negotiate a fair rate, are you both happy with the exchange?
  3. When you pay someone to help you with something – say changing the oil in your car – are you still being helped? Why do you think we usually only associate helping with charitable transactions?
  4. Often, even when one engaged in charitable acts, one comes away thinking that you benefited more from the experience than the person you helped. If you’ve had such an experience, describe how it relates to the topic of this lesson. If not, can you imagine why people say such things?

This reading is an excerpt from Certell’s Common Sense Economics eBook.  Certell offers curriculum materials and eBooks free of charge for students and teachers.  Click Here to download the Common Sense Economics Materials.

Image Citation:

John Templeton.  9, Feb. 2018, John Templeton Quote [Digital image].  Retrieved from <>