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What is more valuable than knowing how to value?

I knew someone who could found value in everything. Or so I thought. That someone used to tell us things like “I have a meeting with someone of value” or “I think they can be a valuable contact” or “He gave me a handful of valuable insights”. Out of sheer linguistic satiation, in a meeting that person said the word “value” so many times that it lost its meaning (do the exercise now, say a word many times and you will see that it loses meaning, linguistic satiation).

After realizing that, I wondered why so much obsession with “value”. It turns out that it was a “buzzword” of the moment, that is, one of those words that are said so many times in a medium that they acquire a special quality, a distorted meaning, such as “UX”, “Fintech”, “Entrepreneur” or ” Sustainable”. In many media, blogs, articles, conversations and texts I began, by selective perception, to find the term “value”, for example in:

  • “Always seek to give value to your customers”
  • “Give value to your collaborators, they will take care of your customers”
  • “Build value in every conversation of your brand”

And what is “value”? Well, I don’t know, but by pure intuition, also by linguistic, I assumed that it was something not common, even if you were looking for it. Like a holy grail of business, one notch above the price, quality and service. Something that in exchange for your money will bring you just what you need, not what you want, what you need.

And how can we give someone, be it a physical or moral entity, what they need, without first knowing them? For the need, contrary to desire, is not subject to a whim or tantrum, it is pure, it is innocent, just like the need for a baby for her bottle. This person who found “value” in everything, did it knew everyone deeply then? Was this possible with just seconds or minutes of interaction? If it was so, we had found a business genius person, and if not, a “charlatan”, a trickster of sorts. So I decided to do a simple test, I asked about the business of one of these “people of value” found. The answer was vague, and ended in an “I don’t know well” that dropped the charade.

From then on, many alerts in my mind are triggered by hearing such a word, “value”, but I do not judge words by what they mean but by who and when they said them, so I decided to accept it on my terms, because as Del Toro says, success is “screw it up on your own terms”, so either by intuition, imagination or bare-knuckle conversation I decided to get to know each client and collaborator, to really understand what they need, and add “value” to them, or, to let me be known so that they can do the same, always clear with the necessary precaution not to let some “charlatan” person see more than necessary.

Talk to your clients and collaborators, ask them how and for what they are going to use what they want (do they want?) To hire, why now and why with you, why in these terms and at these prices, and if they share a glimpse of what they need, embrace it and see if it is coherent with your offer, in order to then really channel that need towards your services, or better just refer them to someone else who can help them find, their version, of value.

Software Engineer and psychologist, founder and CEO of Inflexion Software.

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