Rihanna Vs. L. Ron Hubbard: Battle Of The Role Models
Perhaps you have seen this piece making the rounds about “The Prosperity Gospel of Rihanna“? It’s pretty great:
Money is unclean. Cash flows; as it slips constantly out of debtor’s hands into creditor’s, fingerprints, stains, emotional and moral significations muck up the paper—over time, cash even builds up its own scent. That musk rarely transfers onto polite women anymore, who rarely touch dollar bills in the age of Venmo and sugar baby feminism. Rihanna still wants it in cash. Bad Gal, unmoored and uninspired by American dichotomies of cleanliness and defilement as she is, prefers her payment liquid and solid to the touch. …
Sprawled amongst her earnings, the moneyed black girl is an enlarged version of herself necessarily taking up the space of her debtors, she’s an image of material liberation. #BBHMM [Bitch Better Have My Money] is Rihanna in situ.
Does this mean we’ve forgiven her for the mess that was the Rihanna plane? Probably. It’s been long enough.
But if you prefer to draw inspiration from other sources, allow me to offer another successful self-made entrepreneur as a model: L. Ron Hubbard.
According to this Lifehacker profile, there is much to learn from the man who started Scientology.
Hubbard was unquestionably prolific. He holds the 2006 Guinness World Record for the most published works by one author, at 1028. Hubbard was not a perfectionist doting upon manuscripts for years—he put words on the page and shipped. And, while the quality of Hubbard’s writing can be debated, there’s something to be said for getting to work rather than waiting around. Too much perfectionism only leads to more procrastination and stifles your productivity. …
Scientology was a sort of rebranding of Dianetics after the initial enthusiasm for Dianetics had waned, and charging for lectures and lessons slowly and surely grew the coffers of Hubbard and the church. Simply put, he found a unique perspective of how to help people improve their lives—while charging for it. The exact phrasing of a notorious Hubbard quote varies upon the source, but he famously said “You don’t get rich writing science fiction. If you want to get rich, you start a religion.”
When pursuing your own work, whether you’re a freelance writer or full-time office worker, you need to identify what makes you unique, what you’re good at, and where you can add value that will actually have demand. If you’re one of a thousand doing the same thing, then people won’t seek you out. Hubbard knew he had a unique ability to spin compelling stories on the fly and and entrance people with his charm, and he ran with it—to admittedly extreme levels—but in doing so, he found a widespread audience and effectively monetized his niche. In a smaller way, we should all aim to do the same with our own work.
I guess money is by definition amoral, and we shouldn’t concern ourselves overmuch with how it comes our way. Still, I don’t think I could feel good about money that I got from conning strangers, even if it turned out I was a very talented con artist.
“Monetize your niche,” though — that’s good general advice. Though right now, to my ears, it also sounds a little dirty.