In this article, we're going to explore some of the uses and theories behind social currency, which is greater than money on its own. If one were to lose a fortune, but maintained high social currency, new fortune is never far away. Take Kanye West, for example, who lost $13 million of his own money on his initial failed clothing line attempt. He then leveraged the Yeezus tour to a $25 million gross, plus a new, more lucrative and creatively free venture through Adidas.
I'm here to demonstrate that through a strong identity, sense of purpose, finesse and craft, you can build or become a part of a community that forms a tribe around you.
Fans and supporters find an identity through the affiliation with an artist, tribe, or brand. Their subsequent conversation is based on the shared reality that gets created by an artist's world. There's utility to the art and the music (or whatever the product may be) — the tribe uses it to get by, to celebrate, to drive and so on. Advocacy comes in the form of support, of spreading the word, of coming out of pocket for concerts, merchandise, and whatever other way the tribe can extend itself on behalf of their leader. This is why Chance the Rapper, for example, is able to tour and build wealth without a record label, or without even actually selling music. Chance redirected the conversation and chose his terms in the form of advocacy from his crowd, and the decision has paid him well. Of course, crucial to all of this is a means for your tribe to share and receive information. In our era, we're blessed with social media, which allows us to access and build our tribe in new and streamlined ways, but the psychology behind social currency is as ancient as we are.
Even the Medici family was aware that money alone would not protect and prolong the wealth of the family. Something else was needed in the mix: social currency. Through the funding of the arts, humanities and architecture, the Medici clan would win over public favor that would've turned to malice against their considerable wealth and political influence. They aligned their brand with lofty ideals, on which the conversation and advocacy became based.
Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson may be a favorite case of mine for social currency. After going through a few different character phases — the "Rocky Maivia" phase, the "Nation of Domination" phase, and a run as a heel, the Rock would find the ultimate sweet spot in a role that embodied all of his best qualities. Even when booked as a "heel" or bad guy, the crowds would cheer for him. This would lead to merchandising of all sorts, too many headline spots to count, and the Rock rising to the top of his profession. But Dwayne Johnson didn't stop within his industry. Because with social currency, you connect with people on a different level. The Rock's tribe would follow him beyond professional wrestling. He leveraged the social currency into a world record $5.5 million for an actor in his first starring role, a New York Times # 1 best seller, and a bevy of other boons. All this is possible because of "the millions and millions" that constitute the Rock's tribe, huddled around his mission to entertain and to inspire.
Social currency is more powerful than money by itself. Presidential elections in America are prime examples of this. Barack Obama would use this and the strength of his tribe to leverage a shoe string campaign budget into the millions needed for success. And even the act in itself, of the tribe rallying together to achieve a goal for their leader achieves an upping of the stock of said leader.
And the loss of social currency is worse than the loss of money. This is not to say that lost social currency can never be won back. But it is a great and difficult undertaking. Even Machiavelli would have to use his own exile to rebrand himself and create the type of social currency that would leave his name echoing through the annals of time.
So what about one trying to build social currency from the ground up?
There are two young ladies emerging from the NYC scene who are prime examples of social currency at its finest use. DJ Boston Chery and Chelsea Reject are crushing the scene and using that to build their tribes and take themselves beyond.
I know firsthand how Chery's charming personality has made her magnetic. Her parties continue to be ever growing family affairs. Everyone there is an up and coming celebrity and everyone is family. She's been uniting different brands, different artists, different movements, all under love and through music. She's the quintessential "Charmer" as described in Robert Greene's The Art of Seduction. Greene's annex to that book, The Soft Sell, which focuses on seducing the masses, is what Chery does from the heart. From carefully selecting venues to curating the artists who perform, she sets and controls the vibe for her tribe to which to rock and grow. She's just focused on doing her thing. And of course, her tribe feels that, and they rally behind it, because it's real.
And then we have Chelsea Reject, elusive but powerful. Chelsea has a way of keying into the struggle and the soul's desire to overcome it, which instantly connects with people. And her shows and events seem to bring people together so that they can share in that same hope. Her tribe rallies around her own rise, as it represents the hope that we all can. Her elusive nature only feeds into the frenzy. There's an anticipation you can feel in any crowd as her tribe anxiously sits through the other acts, waiting for their leader to come set the stage ablaze. Both Chery and Chelsea are leveraging their growing social currency into opportunities that see them traveling and excelling in their craft all around the world. I'm excited to see what they continue to turn it into.
Build your own brand, based on the principles and values that mean the most to you. Do what you love and focus on the people who love what you do.
The greatest user of social currency that I know of, once convinced his tribe of over 250 million people to rally around his cause of a bloodless revolution. They'd go on to defeat the most powerful army of the time, without a single bullet flown. The key to wealth, power, influence, access, and even large scale change is social currency. And to quote the great Ghandi himself "Be the change you wish to see."
When people think of gifting, they tend to think of the winter holiday season.
Suddenly, every store offers gift wrapping and the internet is a cornucopia of gift guides. I get super into it, making lists — like Santa himself — of who’s getting gifts r and who’s getting nuffin because they scorned me last time around. Black Friday and the winter sale season have trained me well - I’m now in the groove of saving in advance, prepping my budget, and keeping an eye out for major sales.
But with all that anticipation in winter, there’s almost nothing of the sort in spring. And, after going through my spending last year, I realized why I felt like all my money was going down the drain from April to June: this is a holiday-filled season too!
At first, I blamed it on hot-girl summer — and maybe in part, this was the case. Buying new clothes to refresh my stale pandemic wardrobe, and admittedly getting carried away with my post-vax excitement for going/doing/seeing everything all took hits at my budget.
In the future, I’ll make sure to prep more for summer because every year brings new exciting things to spend money on – especially outside.. Plus, as travel becomes more and more seamless with fewer restrictions, having a “summer buffer” will let me dip into my savings for trips that may come, not into my credit card balance.
I told myself I’d make those financial decisions for the summer, but it wasn’t just the summer. The whole spring was a financial pit and I didn’t completely understand why. After all, isn’t spring for cleaning, decluttering, and even making money by ditching things that aren’t serving you? Why then, did I keep watching my accounts get drained?
The answer is gifts. From Easter in April, Mother’s Day in May, Father’s Day in June, and more, spring is a parade of little holidays that sneak up on you with their obligatory gifting. And it doesn’t even end there for me – I have a ton of friends’ birthdays during these months! With Tauruses being known for their materialism (or maybe that’s just the ones I know), I always splurge on their presents. This leaves me with an empty checking account … kind of by surprise.
In the winter, I prep and save and budget. In the spring, I scramble and overspend. But not this year. This year, I’m very aware that it’s gifting season and I am planning accordingly.
Adele, a Taurus, courtside in all designer. See what I mean? Does she LOOK easy to impress? No, this is why I'm broke
How to Save For Short Term Goals Using Sinking Funds
According to personal finance blogs, one of the keys to saving enough for seasons like this is starting early. Establishing what is known as “sinking funds” is the most efficient way to consistently save for short-term goals. From everything to impending vacations to holiday gifts, sinking funds let you start planning early and reinforce good spending habits. No longer will you be surprised by recurring bills or how much a vacation really costs – the money will be saved, waiting for you to enjoy.
TIME defines sinking funds as a special kind of savings account. “A sinking fund functions similar to a savings account, but with a purpose and approach all its own,” says TIME. “A sinking fund is money you set aside for a specific upcoming expense. Unlike a general savings account or emergency fund, a sinking fund has a clear purpose attached to it — whether it’s to save for a vacation, down payment on a home, or a big-ticket splurge. The financial educator Haley Sacks has a sinking account just for astrologists. If you have a big expense coming up, you might consider creating a sinking fund to take the stress out of saving for it.”
I’m taking notes — and even considering starting my own astrology sinking fund — and I already made one for “Spring Surprises.” For any savings goal, keeping a separate savings account apart from your checking account is the first step to making sure you’re actually contributing to it. Seeing that number get closer to your goal is great motivation. For sinking funds, I make many different savings accounts, all with specific names according to the goal. I even add the goal amount and the month it’s “due” to the account name so I know when each is coming up. This gets me excited to see the fruits of my labor and keep contributing consistently. It also makes it easier to budget for my sinking funds each month with a dedicated amount.
Sinking funds are great cash flow tools that keep you in control of your purchases. According to Clever Girl Finance, a popular personal finance blog for women: “When you don't have a sinking fund, you may be forced to make these purchases through another source of funds, i.e., your emergency fund, your savings account, or your credit card. A sinking fund helps you to plan for large purchases. It also helps you stay on track with your savings goals, keeps your debt low, and allows you to make purchases freely without feeling the pinch.”
This added security lets you spend money on gifts guilt-free. Once it’s in your sinking fund, you can spend it for its allocated purpose without having to worry about other expenses or going into debt. You’ve planned for this. And now you can be generous without the unexpected stress of draining your checking or even your own spending money.
What to Buy This Spring
With all the little holidays that accumulate during the season, it can be easy to be surprised by them. Sinking funds take care of the financials, but an extra step of planning never hurts. Figuring out what you actually want to buy in advance lets you track prices and take advantage of sales, rather than buying whatever marked-up mother’s day bouquet you come across last minute.
Be the best gifter of the season by simply being prepared. You can find unique gifts for all your loved ones on Uncommon Goods.
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Never spiral out of control when spring comes again. Make a smart purchase decision for you, your lucky giftee, and Ukrainian refugees by choosing Uncommon Goods for all your gifts this season.
Kim K is acting up again — nature is healing.
After Kanye West recently went on an online tear trying to win Kim back by … weaponizing his fans against her and her boyfriend — the logic is flawed, especially since West was simultaneously parading his relationship with Julia Fox — a judge declared Kim Kardashian legally single. Silly me, I thought this would be the end of the whole ordeal. I naively hoped that I would get some peace, quiet, and respite from the Kardashian/Jenner/West/Barker/Fox/Davidson/whoever-else brood for at least a little while.
Once again, I was wrong.
Kim Kardashian recently made it Instagram-official with Pete Davidson in a very on-trend photo dump. And — predictably — this went viral. This is … whatever. Good for them. However, at the same time, a video of Kim’s advice to business owners also went viral.
In an interview for Variety, the magazine asked Kim for her "best advice for women in business." In response, Kim said — in all seriousness and without a hint of sarcasm or self-awareness — “Get your f—ing ass up and work.” She continued: “It seems like nobody wants to work these days. You have to surround yourself with people that want to work. No toxic work environments and show up and do the work. Have a good work environment where everyone loves what they do because you have one life.”
If this sounds like bad advice, it’s because it is. In fact, none of it really means anything substantial. At best, it’s vacuous and unhelpful. At worst, it's ignorant and completely insensitive.
Emerging from a global pandemic that ravaged the economy with high rates of unemployment and confused work boundaries for those who could work, Kim’s assessment of people “these days” is outrageously out of touch.
In fact, most people are working more. Studies show: “Nearly 70 percent of professionals who transitioned to remote work because of the pandemic say they now work on the weekends. And 45 percent say they regularly work more hours during the week than they did before.”
While the rise of remote work promised more freedom and flexibility, it actually placed increased pressure on employees. They face rising workloads — especially in shrinking departments that laid off some employees due to budget cuts — and less ability to advocate for themselves. So, even if Kim is right and people don’t “want to work,” they’re working anyway. And they’re working more than ever.
According to Paul McDonald, senior executive director at LA-based staffing firm Robert Half, "While remote work affords employees greater flexibility, it also makes disconnecting extremely difficult. Many people feel pressure to keep up with rising workloads and are putting in long hours to support the business and customer needs.”
This pressure, combined with hastily-set-up remote systems means employees have been left in limbo, clocking in at the end of the world. “Simply handing an employee a laptop and downloading Zoom or some other collaborative software is not enough to help employees manage their work and lives through the pandemic and beyond,” says Cali Williams Yost, a nationally recognized expert on workplace flexibility and founder of the Manhattan-based consultancy Flex+Strategy Group.
Due to the prevalence of hustle culture, these boundaries are even more blurred. Unfortunately, the glorification of non-stop hustling was omnipresent during the pandemic. Remember when we first started lockdown and everyone was like, “write a book,” or “get a six-pack.” Somehow, that expectation still stands, and now those who got crypto-rich or exploited people’s pandemic vulnerabilities are looking down on the people who didn’t.
Kim is the latter. Her various business ventures all depend on selling consumer insecurities back to people. The self-image she constructed for her brand is one that promises her fans they can get a piece of her life, her success, her looks if they only spend more and more money.
According to Kim, her job is burdensome. She defended herself, saying: “When you do product shots (or) when you (post) things that are work-related posts, it's still a job and it's still really hard. Success is never easy. If you put in the work, you will see results.” But once again, this is overly simplistic, oblivious, and ignorant.
Not to say that she hasn’t leveraged the privileges she’s been given, but that’s just it. Kim Kardashian was born in proximity to wealth and fame, all of which provided her with the opportunities she has now leveraged for her success. And some of these opportunities have come at the cost of other people — i.e. her whole aesthetic and how it was built on a foundation of anti-blackness. As a fair-skinned woman, Kim was praised and uplifted for embodying aesthetics that Black women have been shamed and degraded for. So her success is not merely a result of her desire to work, her individual actions. Rather, it’s because she had all the prerequisites to success. But not everyone can just reach out and choose a life of access, ease, and abundance.
To be honest, the Variety question was kind of a setup. Kim’s relationship with work is not like most people’s, so no advice she would have given would be relatable. Sure, it didn’t have to be so shallow or perpetuate toxic ideas about work. But the lesson here is clear: don’t take work advice from Kim Kardashian.