Biz Tips: If you’re good at something, do it for free

Biz Tips: If you’re good at something, do it for free


If you’re good at something, do it for free

If you’re good at something, do it for free

The Dark Knight © copyright 2008 Warner Bros. All rights reserved.

Before you start to judge me let me tell you a little story. During the 2008 Batman movie “The Dark Knight”, in what is now considered an all-time classic scene, Joker, the main protagonist — if I could say — , intrudes on a mafia meeting and tells them what they need to do to have their respect back in the streets. One of the mobsters asks him why he didn’t do it then, on which he replies: “If you’re good at something, never do it for free”.

To be completely frank, during a long time Joker’s phrase echoed inside me and I truly believed that you should price yourself accordingly based on the achievement. Experience taught me that I was wrong. Not only this is not true but also if I had paid attention to Joker’s actions instead of the movie I would get it.

The fact is, Joker is a mastermind and even more: is a hell of a seller.

Let’s go back again to the mafia meeting scene, where Joker is first introduced as himself. Let’s not forget that first impression matters.

He didn’t announce himself. Instead, he interrupts the meeting bringing the attention to him.

For a long time, I believed that Joker’s costume was all about madness. To be honest, what would be the best personification of crime? He dresses properly for the occasion.

Did he introduce himself? No. He acts. He goes directly to the point. When people want a solution they don’t really want to know about the person who is going to do it, they want to know how. And he tells them exactly what they need.

Let’s not forget one key part of this scene or you’ll get me wrong in the end. Before he tells his price and the solution to all their problems: He gives a sample of his work.

One of the kingpins of the table loses his patience and gives an order to one of his henchmen to get rid of Joker. And this, my friend, happens in real life all the time. People are busy, they don’t really have the patience to storytellers like Joker. They want to keep their practical world and keeping things the way they are. So here’s where Joker stands out as a storyteller, seller and whatever you want to call his genius. He then gives a free sample of his work. He offers a trick. A glimpse of what he can do to buy the attention of the other kingpins. By making the pen magically disappear in the head of the henchman he buys time to sell himself (and by the way, I’m not telling you to kill the concurrence ok, you’re smarter than that).

He leaves the room letting his contact and standing out like no other. And that, my friend, was one of the best presentations that you ever see in your life.

Of course, I’m not telling you to repeat exactly what Joker did but learn from his line of thinking. Not always people know who you are, so how come you can tell them that you are the best that they can have? You need to sell yourself the best you can. And this can also be by working for free. But work for free for your own sake. Self-marketing is still marketing. Personal branding has never been more in trend. Look at any of your peers here on LinkedIn, spending hours posting relevant content. Writing articles. Exchanging information with each other.

So go ahead, build your brand. Stand out. Show all that you got before they even ask. Because then they won’t need to ask. They will know that you do your job. And a hell of one. The big lesson here is making people know your value, not telling them.

But when it comes to Joker and real life, bad boys will never win. Even if they are really good at what they do.

And for your delight, the complete scene:

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