Some People Pretend That Money Isn’t Important. Let’s Get Real.


“… Cash at that time is like oxygen. When you don’t need it, you don’t notice it. When you do need it, it’s the only thing you need.” 

– Warren Buffett


A few years ago, a headhunter called me and asked me if I was interested in exploring an opportunity at another company. I said okay. I proceeded to share what was important for me in my career at this point, and mentioned remuneration as one of the top three factors alongside great learning opportunities and potential for career advancement.

She reacted like as if I cursed the heavens in front of a pious monk. She said she couldn’t agree with the amount of importance that I was placing on $$, and even proceeded to say that she wouldn’t want to ‘help’ candidates to find jobs because they were seeking for more $$.

What an irony.

Firstly, as a recruiter, she pretty much works in sales. Her package has a large variable component to incentivize her to close more deals and therefore earn more commissions for herself. 

She may like the nature of her job itself, but I’d bet if her employer decides to halve her commission plans today, she will leave for another recruitment firm. Of course. She will feel under-appreciated and low-balled by the company…… and that’s what some job-seeking candidates currently feel isn’t it?

At the end of the day, humans want to feel appreciated. 

  • Money is a reflection of the company’s appreciation of an employee.
  • Salaries are always a function of an individual employee’s value (or perceived value) to the employer. The more you can add value, the more they pay you. 
  • To sweeten the deal, employers also throw in benefits like bonuses and medical coverage (which is $$ in a different form) to show that they give a crap about the employees.

So… seriously, f*ck that recruiter and her self-imposed sense of moral authority. 


In Defense Of The Importance Of Money

I am for the argument that money is not everything. I gotta like my work, feel challenged, get learning opportunities and don’t hate the environment around me.

But all these factors don’t always hold equal weight at all times.

  1. Bob has little education and skills. Will be happy to work minimum wage just so his kids won’t starve. Money is everything. Personal development and all that is bullshit.
  2. Sam has enough money and he won’t starve. He’s happy with a 9-5 job that he loves but doesn’t pay that well. Gets to spend quality time at the beach away from his wife.
  3. Tim has enough money and he won’t starve anytime soon. But he needs a higher paying job to feed his increasingly lavish lifestyle. He works like a dog.

Throughout all these examples, money is important to varying extents.

Each individual has his own minimum threshold below which, will make him or her discontented. The minimum threshold amount is dependent on the lifestyle that the individual wants to have.

Some can live happily on just $3,000 a month and some need at least $10,000 to live the life that they want. 

Above the minimum threshold, the satisfaction from money per se will slowly drop off as other factors come into play more strongly. Work satisfaction, meaning and purpose, etc.

Nonetheless, money is still important from each person’s perspective. Some people often say that it’s not about the money… until they don’t have it.

Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs

Think about Maslow’s Hierarchy. People need to fulfill certain basis needs first before they can even come close to talking about self-actualization. It’s similar in concept.


PS: Other Ironies About Money Talk

I’ve witnessed several other instances about money talk which I find to be pretty ironic as well. Couldn’t fit in with the rest of the article, but here it is for fun:

Situation: A young distant relative preached to me about the importance of passion and not money at all. Asked about my job interests in a rather scathing manner. Insinuated that passion trumps all. Went off to England to study fashion.

Irony: If her parents were not affluent, they wouldn’t have been able to afford the hefty study fees in the first place so she could pursue her desired career path. It’s because of money that she can even have access to that opportunity.

Update: Doing some office/admin job unrelated to fashion now.


Situation: An executive I once heard of did the following:

1) Incessantly drove the point about the necessity of hitting sales targets and achieving the company’s P&L. 

2) Regularly criticized others who left the company for ‘just money’.


1) The company’s P&L is important. We understand. It’s the private sector after all. But somehow, our own P&L don’t seem to matter at all. We were told to just be ‘passionate’ for our work and stop talking about $$.

2) She left the company for a higher-paying job (She will argue that the purpose and meaning in the role will be so much more at the new firm, but we know it’s hogwash)


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