Getting Your Money's Worth

On the flip side of the whole issue regarding people who can't make a living doing nails managing to make a living telling ME how to make a living doing nails is the issue of highly talented techs who choose to educate.

It's hard to educate. Some of the very finest techs I have ever had the privilege of fawning over in person have turned out to be mediocre educators at best. I've found myself in positions of this nature too; just because you can DO something, doesn't always mean you have a knack for teaching it. Which is just a cryin' shame when it comes to trying to learn how to do the perfect set of sculpted pink-and-whites. I just don't understand why I can't absorb Tom Holcomb's or Lynn Lammer’s talent via osmosis? It's just not fair!

Which is not to insinuate that either Tom or Lynn specifically fall into that category of not being great educators. It's just that, in many cases, no amount of education can compensate for A) genuine talent and B) practice, practice, practice.

And today we're talking about people who can teach. I was just ranting (Yes, I do it in my personal time too!) in an e-mail about this very problem; many of the industry's greatest talents have found that there isn't a sufficient amount of money in educating. Especially when it involves significant amounts of travel. I don't think this has to do with supply and demand at all — it's more a matter of price.

There is an Italian artist who I would give up a year's earnings to study with — if I could afford to give up a year's earnings. Sadly, I have the option of spending several thousand U.S. dollars to travel to Italy to take one of her courses (and mind you, the course costs $1,000 euros — I have no idea how to make the little symbol for euros on my keyboard). Or I can find 12 students here in the U.S. who are willing to put up 1,000 euros each (last time I did the conversion, that's just shy of $1,500 U.S.) in order to entice her to offer a course in the States.

Imagine a picture of a devastated and heartbroken Maggie right here.

I suppose it's not impossible that I could conceivably put my Starbucks habit on hold — and probably several other expensive habits (like eating) — and save enough money to go overseas to take her course.

But ... why?

And this is the problem: What practical business sense does it make for me to invest that kind of money into taking a class to learn how to do artwork that my area has no real market for? How would I hope to recoup my investment?

On one hand I, personally, am willing to spend the money because I, personally, desire the knowledge and skill. But, from a purely practical perspective, I'm kidding myself if I think that it would be an "investment" in my skill set that would ultimately result in higher earnings here at home. Because there's a very narrow market that's even available to support high-end service prices in this area — and that market is not likely to pay those premiums for even the most exquisitely crafted 3-D rosebuds.

Alas. And there's one of the great problems that we face. Highly skilled educators simply cannot command the price they are worth because their market simply won't bear it. Or rather, my very narrow market for premium services is reflected at the other end as well. Only a limited number of highly skilled educators are able to command premium fees for their classes because most of us understand the ratio of what we invest in our education to what we can realistically expect to recoup from it.


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