It Ain’t About the Money ~ or is it?

Edward Burns. Portrait by Leslie Hassler.

My daughter & I were singing in the car the other day (and dancing at the red lights) when this Jesse J. song came on.

Price Tag. Have you heard it? (I posted the video & lyrics below for you)  The first few lines of her song have been haunting me.

“Seems like everybody’s got a price, I wonder how they sleep at night. When the sale comes first, And the truth comes second, Just stop, for a minute and Smile ……
Why is everybody so serious Acting so damn mysterious Got your shades on your eyes And your heels so high That you can’t even have a good time”

Jesse J. is talking about the music industry but I think these words could apply to any industry.  They hit me especially hard because I recently walked away from a business because of this exact thing, some say; leaving a lot of money on the table.  But my gut was screaming at me and I had to listen.  For better or worse, I seem to have this built-in Bullshit Meter and once it goes off, that’s it.  Caput. It’s over. I can’t continue to do something that doesn’t feel right to me.

The more “well-known” or “successful” I became, the more Soul-Sucking the whole process became.  Mostly, because there were so many willing participants in the dance that would say and do just about anything to make a buck.

Listen, I’m not some Polly-Anna, New-Agey, whoo-whoo, up-in-the-clouds, girly-girl that preaches “just do what you love and money will magically appear”.  I used to tell my clients; “It all starts with a vision, you have to be clear, BUT you can make a vision board and meditate on it everyday and they will still come and take your furniture away… if you don’t take action.” I’m a realist about these things and extremely practical.

This song, Price Tag, got me to thinking.  If it’s not about the money (and I think most of us would agree IT (life) is not all about making money, until you’re NOT making money, then IT sucks, right?) ~  what is IT all about (Alfie)? :-D

Can you make a living or at the very least a fulfilling life making people happy?

Or as Jesse J. says in her song:  “We just want to make the world dance”. Can you do work you love and make money without selling your soul?

I want to make the world dance.  I want to make the world a little bit better during my short time here on planet earth. But I also have bills to pay and children to feed and gosh, it sure would be nice to take a little Va-cay now and then. Can we have both?

Can we figure out how to do work that feels important and meaningful and makes the world the better place AND support our families without selling our soul?

I think this may be the question of my life. The question I was born to figure out for myself this time around. Because it keeps circling back around to me, just when I think I’ve found an answer (or at least a clue) BAM! I’m right back where I started.   Perhaps a little wiser, but none the less, back in the circle again.  And oh, what a lovely dance it is.

I’m not going to pretend I’ve found the answer.  Lord knows, you’ve got to figure THAT out for yourself.  But I want to share some of the stuff that’s been catching my attention lately, stuff that seems to be pointing me in an interesting direction. (I was going to say the “right” direction, but that would mean there is a “wrong” direction and I don’t believe any of the directions I’ve gone in the past were wrong.  I believe everything serves, so I’ll just continue down the most exciting, interesting path in front of me).

Since I stepped away from my old business I’ve been immersing myself in new stuff.  It hasn’t been easy.  The world I was operating in is extremely incestuous.  Every time you try to put your head down and just ‘do your work’ you get pulled into someone else’s program, system or fabulous event that promises to rock your world and make everything perfect, right? But I’ve managed to walk away.  For me, it involved deleting my Facebook account and creating a new list of people in various industries that I see when I go onto Twitter.

I’d like to tell you about one of the people that is really inspiring me and making a difference in my journey.  And the good news is, he doesn’t have a program that’s going to fix you! He doesn’t want to sell you “the answer” for the price of a new car. (do I hear cheers? hooray! yippeeee!)

Edward Burns aka “Burnsie”, you may recognize him from films like “The Brothers McMullen”, “She’s The One”, “Saving Private Ryan”.  I started following him on Twitter a few months ago and I was blown away by the stuff he was sharing with indie filmmakers.  You can tell that he really cares about the process of making movies and he wants to share what he’s learned along the way. I’ve since embarked upon my own private Ed Burns Film School (watching the director’s commentary in his films) I’ve learned so much from this exercise and I still have so many films left to watch.  Like this: After Brothers McMullen made a big splash at Sundance, Ed was offered $18 million to make his next movie “She’s the One”.  He decided to make it for $3 million instead.  His reasoning was this – if he made the film for $18 million and it lost money, he might not get another chance to make a movie. If he made it for $3 million he’d have a better shot at the movie making a profit and then he’d have more opportunities to make more movies, which is what he loves doing. He just wanted to keep making movies.

Do you see the brilliance in that?  How many people do you know that would pass up an extra $15 million dollars?  Think about all the fabulous, shiny things he could have put in his movie with that $15 million.  Instead, he chose to make a movie that would give him his best shot at continuing to do what he loves.  In essence, he passed up the big bucks in the short term, to follow his dream further down the path. Burnsie is even further down the movie-making path these days, and he seems to be operating way ahead of the curve releasing his movies through VOD (Video on Demand), reaching out to his audience through social media and having a conversation with the people that will love his movies.  Forward thinking. Maverick. Rock Star, fer sure.

What I learned from Ed Burns (I should say, ONE of the things I’ve learned because there have been so many) is this:

Figure out what you love to do and go do it to the best of your ability.  Study it, get really good at it, give yourself completely to it. Don’t just go for the big bucks.  There’s something to be said for doing good work and taking pride in it and doing it to the best of your ability.

Ed happens to be in the business of story-telling, he’s really good at it.  He’s not the guy with the billion dollar summer blockbuster, his twitter profile says “I make those small talky New York movies about the Irish guys from Long Island”. He’s been successfully making those small, talky movies for over 15 years now.  He’s doing work he loves.  He’s connecting with people and inspiring them to go for their dreams.  His latest movie release “Nice Guy Johnny” is out on DVD and I highly recommend it.  Ironically, this movie is also about the decision to sell out and take a job that is soul-sucking just to make the big bucks OR to follow your dreams and do what you love.  Watch the trailer:

I’d love to know if “Burnsie” ever struggled with these questions and what he did and how hard or easy was it for him? Is it just my overactive, analytic mind that makes me feel so confused and crazy sometimes? Or does everyone struggle with these questions?

From the outside looking in, it sure feels like “Burnsie” is getting it right.  And he’s inspiring me to look deeper at what inspires me, what motivates me, what story do I want to tell with my life?

Thanks Ed.   For the inspiration.

Here’s what I’ve come up with so far….

maybe sometimes it is about the money when you’ve got to pay the bills, but in our pursuit of the cha-ching and the ba-bling, let’s pause to soak up some happy times and make the world (and our loved ones) dance a little bit.


Here’s the video for Jesse J’s song Price Tag and I’ve copied the lyrics below.

Seems like everybody’s got a price, I wonder how they sleep at night.

When the sale comes first, And the truth comes second, Just stop, for a minute and Smile
Why is everybody so serious Acting so damn mysterious

Got your shades on your eyes And your heels so high That you can’t even have a good time
Everybody look to their left (yeah) Everybody look to their right (ha) Can you feel that (yeah)

We’re paying with love tonight It’s not about the money, money, money We don’t need your money, money, money We just wanna make the world dance, Forget about the Price Tag Ain’t about the (uh) Cha-Chang Cha-Chang. Aint about the (yeah) Ba-Bling Ba-Bling Wanna make the world dance, Forget about the Price Tag.
Okay! We need to take it back in time, When music made us all unite

And it wasn’t low blows and video ho’s, Am I the only one getting tired

Why is everybody so obsessed Money can’t buy us happiness

Can we all slow down and enjoy right now Guarantee we’ll be feeling Alright.
Everybody look to their left (yeah) Everybody look to their right (ha) Can you feel that (yeah) We’re paying with love tonight It’s not about the money, money, money We don’t need your money, money, money We just wanna make the world dance, Forget about the Price Tag Ain’t about the (uh) Cha-Chang Cha-Chang. Ain’t about the (yeah) Ba-Bling Ba-Bling Wanna make the world dance, Forget about the Price Tag.
[B.o.B] Yeah yeah Well, keep the price tag And take the cash back Just give me six strings and a half stACK. And you can keep the cars Leave me the garage And all I.. Yes all I need are keys and guitars And its with in 30 seconds I’m leaving to Mars Yeah we leaping across these undefeatable odds Its like this man, you can’t put a price on the life We do this for the love so we fight and sacrifice every night So we ain’t g’on stumble and fall never Waiting to see this in the sign of defeat uh uh So we g’on keep everyone moving their feet So bring back the beat and then everyone sing
It’s not about the money, money, money We don’t need your money, money, money We just wanna make the world dance, Forget about the Price Tag Ain’t about the (uh) Cha-Chang Cha-Chang. Aint about the (yeah) Ba-Bling Ba-Bling Wanna make the world dance, Forget about the Price Tag.

21 Responses to “It Ain’t About the Money ~ or is it?”
  1. Justin S says:

    Awesome… Congrats on taking control of your destiny (Happiness)! Success is not success without happiness.

  2. Incestuous…. which is ironic, because I know the circle of which you speak and they all claimed to be pulling you OUT of the incest, no?

    Too funny.

    There’s a lot of this going around right now, me thinks. I am thrilled to see you’re following YOUR heart to do what really inspires you instead of just chasing something that might come easy, fill your pocket, but not your soul.

    Don’t be a stranger though. There are still folks out here that love hearing from you – whatever direction your road takes you. :-)
    Lisa Robbin Young recently posted..Give Up On Your Dreams

    • SandyGrason says:

      Awww Thanks Lisa. :-)
      I haven’t seen the latest tactic of using the incestuous nature as a selling tool, but doesn’t surprise me.
      I guess it’s a very good sign that I haven’t seen it. To me, it shows that I’m truly extracting myself from the part of the business that really felt like the wrong path for me.
      I am having so much fun immersing myself in new creative endeavors and learning a lot of new skills.
      One thing I know for sure is that everything serves, in some way or another. I am certain that I will use what I’ve learned in the last few years in some capacity in my future, whatever that might be. :-)

      I hope all is wonderful in your world.
      Thanks for reading & commenting, it’s nice to see your smiling face, dahhhhling.

  3. Jan Haas says:

    Thanks for a great post. I got online because I am loving your journalution book and this post made me think. Thank you.

  4. Sami says:

    This song/video to me is very ironic. The lyrics are very heartfelt and sincere and definitely convey a message/feeling. However, the entire style of this song is totally commercialized. Yes, it’s just music and creative, whatever, but it’s made on computers, auto-tune is used, it’s very typically pop in the sense that it comes across to me as manufactured for the masses, AKA to make $$. A highly produced video, a highly produced song. There is nothing wrong with that, but it just seems very ridiculous, given the context of this song. There’s no one playing instruments that they spent years learning, pouring their hearts into… I don’t know.

    • SandyGrason says:

      I don’t love this video either, Sami. I actually searched for a live one but didn’t like what I found either, for my blog.. I did find some cool videos of Jesse J. singing in the subway before she “made it big”. She can definitely sing. Not sure if she wrote this song or not, but I still love the words and the message of the song, but I agree that the video doesn’t really match the intention of the song very well. Thanks for commenting!

  5. Colleen says:

    Hi Sandy. Was wondering where you’ve been! Sounds like you’ve been doing a lot of reconnecting with YOU. Good for you! The thing that I’ve always loved and respected about you is your willingness to tell it like it is (your B.A.L.L.S. – ;D). Thanks for this post. XOXO -Colleen
    Colleen recently posted..An Apple a Day …

  6. Amy Miyamoto says:

    Hey Sandy,
    Just saw this post and wanted to chime in that I have been right there with ya over the last year (in terms of taking a step back in order to investigate the new energy path of money that is evolving) and have chosen to take alot of time for myself to explore my own solutions to these questions about the role of money in my life from this point forward. From what I have discovered over the last year, there is indeed a new energy of money that is being ushered in right now that is aligned with the (love) vibration that you describe in Ed Burns’ endeavors and decision making related to money (win/win’s) where a “win” is being redefined as having additional attributes beyond just the highest gross monetary profits. This is very different from the old energy of money (based on scarcity and lack) that is rapidly crumbling (as seen in recent events around the world.) And we are all smack dab in the middle of the transition getting the opportunity to choose which energy path we are going to align with as the days unfold. I have made my choice to pursue aligning with the new energy of money anchored in love…the trick (for me) is recognizing that this is a new road that has not been fully paved yet…hence no templates to follow or package and sell to others… ;) So this is also the path of trust and faith in self and the universe which has also been my growing edge to lean more deeply into both. (In fact, the money model that keeps bubbling up for me is one I have not yet seen before – so it totally means leaning into unchartered territory.) The other piece of the new money puzzle I have been dancing with is having the creative process be energy generating versus draining – so much focus has been devoted to creating my own replenished and vital self.

    The light of your BEing (rather than DOing) continues to shine so brightly that I have no doubt your new money path is already unfolding in divine timing. In fact, it sounds like all of the actions you have taken recently and new things you are learning is all part of your new money path foundation. Just wanted to let ya know I so get what you are talking about and am traveling a similar path over here along the Pacific. ;)
    Amy Miyamoto recently posted..August 4th – St. Bernard Beauty

    • SandyGrason says:

      Hi Amy,
      Thank you so much for this. Leaving that business felt a bit like walking away from the “cool party” to sit alone in my room and draw clouds.
      But it turns out that sitting alone and watching clouds is actually really good for your soul. :-)
      It’s nice to know I have a kindred soul over on the pacific.

  7. Christy B says:

    Wow, I’m so glad I thought to myself today, “I wonder what happened to Sandy Grason?” and found this post! I think this was the perfect time for me to be reading this. I loved what you said about the whole just when you put your head down to get to work there’s another shiny promise to pull you off track thing. I’ve been thinking recently that it is time for me to STOP gathering information and actually START doing the work I love. I’ve felt like 80% of my time has been spent trying to learn some perfect formula or how to write compelling copy, or creating that irresistible offer, but none of that feels as good as when I’m actually just in the thick of my work. I have learned many valuable things and there is at least one “guru” that I won’t give up because she delivers awesome content in a fun way and that inspires me. Maybe all the info gathering has done me good because my biz is really finally taking off, but I’ve also done a lot of deep inner work and getting more in touch with my truest self has been the most beneficial journey ever. Lots of love to you Sandy, you are an authentic, inspiring, divine being and I wish the best for you and all future endeavors!
    Christy B recently posted..Back to School for Space and Self – PART 3

    • SandyGrason says:

      Hi Christy,
      Not sure how I missed this – but thank you so much for reading & commenting!
      Would love to hear how the journey’s going for you.
      And thank you for the kind words. It is greatly appreciated. :-)

      • Rahul says:

        I think 陶杰的影评 sucks. He is a writer who azlnyaes movies from and only from a writer’s point of view. The story, the characters and theme, blah blah blah. What about the picture, the soundtrack, the technology behind everything?I believe I enjoyed the movie the same way as you did. Look at the part when Remy and Linguinie first collaborated. The slow motion, the warm steam, the gentle cut of a zucchini, those details are the part what truly makes the movie stand out of all pixar’s works. Talking about good stories and characters, Finding Nemo and the Incredibles are good movies as well. But neither of them achieved the details as much as Ratatouille did.

  8. Sandy daaaahhhhhling,
    I was beyond thrilled to see you pop up on my FB wall.

    Talk about synchronicity ~ I was listening to you on my iPod this morning!

    I swear there must be something in the moon cycles, or the water, or something, because there’s been so much “walking away” happening in my awareness.

    I’ve been dithering about doing the same thing … took a 3 week sabbatical that turned into a 2 month hibernation… and am becoming more and more aware of soul urgings to move out of ‘incestuous circles’.

    Leaving money on the table is hard.
    But leaving your soul out of your work is a killer.

    Glad you’re back, honey.

    Ooodles of bliss-ings,
    the goddess known as Jacqui

    • SandyGrason says:

      Dahhhling Goddess Jacqui,
      So lovely to see your smiling face on my comments. :-)
      I hope your sabbatical has been as good for your soul as mine was for me.
      Thanks for the Bliss-ings (love that!)

  9. Stacy Nelson says:

    I love this my lovely Virgo Sister. What a year of marinating… you went from Zesty BBQ to Sweet Teriyaki! And I get it. This past year I too walked away from a profitable business because I was ‘over it’, much to my hubby’s consternation. I thought it was to step into my soul’s journey and it was, but in a different way than I had imagined. I’ve been struggling with writing my workshop for ever – certainly FabU inspired me even more. But every time I sat down to create it, I felt disingenuous. The marketing and the website and the products I would sell and the fame I would attain was always a part of my creative process. And you know what? I couldn’t launch it. I got close many many times but it wasn’t quite in alignment – there was something, some little piece of me that said ‘No’.

    But then one day I sat for 8 solid hours writing until my hand was cramped up and my eyes were watering. And there it was – my baby. I purposely had to step out of the mindful planning and just create. Nothing else. No thoughts of who, what, when or why. And today I launch locally. And yes, I hope to make some money. Perhaps that’s the magical tipping point, where you keep the mind out of the creation and let it come from your heart then when you bring in the business side it’s in harmony, it’s not forced and it’s genuine. Heart first, mind second – not all jumbled together like we uber smart multi-passionate women usually think.

    AND then I can afford great new shoes… why fight that?

    • Sandy says:

      Dahhhhling! So wonderful to hear your news. I’m sending my most powerful mojo to you!

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