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Were You Taught to Earn The Wheelbarrow Way?

Unraveling Inherited Ideas about Work and Wealth.

Douglas Kruger




They can’t be blamed. They were doing the best they could with what they had. But when past generations handed their wisdom on to us, more often than not, they gave us a blessing and a curse. And most of us can’t spot the difference.

Here’s what happened in my family:

My grandmother worked in a manor house in Manchester. Arriving early at work each day, she wore the full maid’s uniform, carried the feather duster, and had all the accessories that we associate today with the sexy French maid stereotype. But it wasn’t like that.

This was a woman who had calluses on her hands, and no voice in the face of authority. This was a woman whose means barely outstripped her needs for the duration of her lifetime. She was what Dr Graeme Codrington, expert in generational norms, calls ‘The Silent Generation.’

And so, when it came time to pass on wisdom about the world of work to my father, she went rummaging around in her mental filing cabinets and selected two things. The first was a Protestant work ethic, and that was the blessing. The second was ‘working class ideas about wealth and earning.’ And that was the curse. And I’ve spent the last twenty years trying to unravel it and escape it.

The wheelbarrow way

The working classes are taught the Wheelbarrow Way. They teach it to their children, and so the ensuing generations remain poor. Hard working. But poor. TheWheelbarrow Way goes like this:

‘My son, you are young and healthy. Pick up your wheelbarrow. Go and fill it with bricks. If you want to earn coins, you must push your wheelbarrow for a number of hours. Each hour you push your wheelbarrow, my son, you will earn a coin. If you want more coins, you must push your wheelbarrow for more hours.”

And so the trap is set.

Working class ideas about wealth are interesting. At their core, they teach that work is noble, but money is not. Money, in fact, is shameful. And it is entirely possible to follow working class ideas to complete poverty. In their thrall, you can work very hard indeed, and still die bone-grindingly poor.

The working class solution to poverty is interesting too: “If you’re not paying the bills, then you are not working hard enough. You must get a second wheelbarrow, and in the evenings, you must push it around for more coins. “

The Epiphany of the Wealthy

High-earners and entrepreneurs quickly realize that the trick is to dump the bricks and carry gold. In other words, they see the importance of raising the value of their labour, the value of their offering, so that less hours equates to more coins.

That’s the key to wealth. That’s the key to escaping working-class income levels. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Most people will never have that epiphany. And that’s why they’ll stay poor.

So how do you practically go about raising the value of what you do?

Here are two options:

1. Become More Valuable Per Hour

Your first option is to raise the worth of your hourly labour. You can do this by studying further, taking courses, or investing in learning, so that your qualification entitles you to more money for the same number of working hours. Additionally, as you gain experience in your job, you may get pay increases.

But you can also increase the value of your labouring hour outside of traditional employment, by positioning yourself as an expert. Become the big name in your industry, and the deals and the money start coming to you. Moreover, a prominent public profile changes the scale of your remuneration. The average business consultant might earn x for his input and ideas. But Richard Branson will earn x plus three more zeroes, simply because he is Richard Branson. He has raised the value of his name, and it alters his remuneration.

2. Escape the Hour-Concept Entirely

Individuals who sell and do deals have learned that that one important hand-shake can be worth half a years’ salary. And so their emphasis is not on ‘putting in hours,’ but on ‘landing deals.’

Others have learned to develop passive income streams, for example, by selling books. While they sleep, people pay them money, and as such, they have escaped the hours-equation. Certainly, they had to put the hours in initially. But after that, their gains simply continue, and often grow exponentially.

And you needn’t think about selling anything as boring as widgets. Take Charles M. Schultz, the creator of the comic-strip ‘Peanuts.’ He sold a three-panel comic strip, over and over, to newspapers around the world, for fifty years. Forbes lists him as the 4th highest posthumous celebrity earner for 2012, ahead of John Lennon!

Others still have learned to scale up what they do. Once they discovered that there was market value in their offering, they hired others or created systems that could multiply their effectiveness.

Raising your value is not as difficult as it may sound. You need to solve important problems, which are worth money to people or organizations. You need to sell en mass. You need to create things that keep selling after you have input your labour. You need to raise the intrinsic value of your name and brand, through enhancing public perception of you. You need to scale up the valuable thing you do, so that you are not limited by your own capacity. You need to offer more to those who already like what you sell or do.

Above all, you need to question the thinking that was handed down to you. Can you remember hearing phrases like, “Get a trade, and you’ll never go hungry”? Or, “Get a steady job, be grateful and don’t make waves”? Or, “Money is the root of all evil”? If so, you have inherited unexamined ideas. They’re like racism. We can accept them without question. Or we can unravel them, extricate what value they may have, dismiss the rest as outdated, and move beyond them.

Personally, I’m dumping the bricks and carrying gold. How about you?

Watch a video on this topic:

Douglas Kruger is the only speaker in Africa to have won the Southern African Championships for Public Speaking a record five times. He is the author of ‘50 Ways to Become a Better Speaker,’ published in South Africa and Nigeria, ‘50 Ways to Position Yourself as an Expert,’ and co-author of ‘So You’re in Charge. Now What? 52 Ways to Become a Better Leader.’ See Douglas in action, or read his articles, at Email him at, or connect with him on Linked In or Twitter: @DouglasKruger



  1. Lerato Sentle

    Jun 10, 2012 at 23:05

    I am also dumping the bricks…

  2. Lucas

    Jun 12, 2012 at 15:22

    who would still be carrying the bricks after reading this? i think it is a great article with workable ideas. thank you and keep us inspired.

  3. Mareli Csabai

    Jun 14, 2012 at 08:41

    amazing! !!!

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Personal Finance

(Infographic) The Financial Advice Millennials And Gen Zers Want To Know

Having a grasp on your financials is tricky, but it’s crucial if you want to be successful. And that starts with getting the right advice.




Whether it’s saving for retirement or paying off credit card debt, money management can be a challenge. Of course, different people have different concerns – and that often comes with age. While a 60-something baby boomer might be organising their savings for retirement, your 20-something millennial might be focused on paying off student loans.

In a recent study, financial intelligence company Comet surveyed more than 1 000 people to uncover the top financial concerns of various age groups, as well as the financial advice millennials and Gen Zers want to know and what they hear instead.

Overall, saving for retirement was the top concern across all age groups, with saving for an emergency and affording monthly bills following in second and third. However, it’s no wonder these are some of the most pressing worries – according to the research, 23 percent of people admit they don’t have a savings account, and 43 percent reported not being on track towards their retirement goals. Perhaps that’s because they didn’t hear the right advice growing up. At least that might be the case for Gen Zers and millennials.

According to the research, these young people want to learn things such as how the stock market works, how to manage an investment portfolio, how to invest in real estate and how to build credit. Instead, they’re simply told how to create a budget, save for retirement and pay credit card bills in full every month.

Related: 7 Critical Things Your Financial Advisor Must Meet

Having a grasp on your financials is tricky, but it’s crucial if you want to be successful and comfortable. To learn more, check out Comet’s infographic below.


Related: Financial Wellness Coach Nelisiwe Masango Shares Retirement Wealth Advice

This article was originally posted here on

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Personal Finance

14 Ways To Make Quick Cash On The Side

If you need money quickly, here are some solid ideas.



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Need to make some fast money on the side, whether it’s to pay off a credit card or to make your rent?

Keep in mind, making quick side cash isn’t about making a lot of money or getting rich. It’s about getting a shot of capital to help tide you over and put something extra in your pocket. However, some of these side-income ideas can build up your wealth over time. There’s many ways to accomplish this: By participating in the gig economy, the sharing economy, online sales networks, passive income techniques and more.

If you’re looking to make extra money in a relatively short period of time, check out these 14 slides.

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Personal Finance

Take Advantage Of Financial Democracy Made Possible By The New Stock Exchanges

Why should financial democracy matter to entrepreneurs?

Etienne Nel




Because it creates a society able to afford products and services. Without it, even the innovative products and services that are entrepreneurs’ bread and butter will fail.

What is financial democracy, exactly?

It’s both the right and the ability of the (wo)man in the street and business people to make the decisions that affect their financial circumstances.

Financial democracy does not automatically follow political democracy. For almost 25 years after South Africa’s political transformation, the exclusiveness of our financial markets continued to deprive the vast majority of South Africans of the means to invest, save, and build wealth. South Africa has, therefore, never developed a retail stock exchange environment. So, it has deprived the majority of small and medium sized business of access to capital.

For entrepreneurs to truly flourish, they need a mechanism that easily and seamlessly connects the investor pool with every size of business. And, they need affordable ways to enter both the retail and institutional market.

In short, they need stock exchanges. Ones on which listing takes weeks rather than years, doesn’t break the bank for listing fees, and provides the shortest route to the largest possible potential investor base.

That’s not been possible in the stock exchange monopoly that existed for six decades. Now, it is.

What’s changed?

We now have four new stock exchanges. The resulting competitive environment will significantly reduce the cost of listing – and the cost for investors of buying and selling shares.

Instead of restricting share trading to people or organisations who already have tens of thousands of rands to invest or millions to spend on listing, by licensing four new stock exchanges, the Financial Services Conduct Authority (FSCA, formerly the FSB) has recognised that most financial decisions do not call for high levels of education.

Related: The Role Of Foreign Exchange In The Economy

Most people know how to spend their own grocery money. Most know that it’s better to keep their R1 000 monthly income in a coffee jar than spend R50 of it on bank account fees. People who can barely read and write are immensely skillful at manipulating air time deals to their advantage.

There is significant financial savvy in all social strata.

In the same way, although the mechanics of bookkeeping and accounting may be unfamiliar territory to many entrepreneurs, most have a clear understanding of the difference between profit and loss.

The FSCA has therefore enabled democratisation of the financial markets by enabling the broadest possible spectrum of entrepreneurs and investors to use stock exchanges to participate in and contribute to the economy – on their own rather than prescriptive terms.

How do you take strategic advantage of this democratisation?

  1. Base your business strategy on people’s instinct for making decisions in their own best interests. Trust financial decentralisation, such as one sees in crowd funding and in digital environments such as block chain, where people would far rather trust one another than institutions and governments. This is democracy innately at work in the financial environment and it’s accelerating organically as digital technologies give people more means and the confidence to help themselves – to information and opportunities. Ride the wave.
  2. Tap into people’s desire to innovate. Consumer organisations have proved that letting people interactively help them develop products is a powerful growth engine. Apply the principle by letting people grow your business by buying shares in it, giving you capital and themselves a platform on which to build wealth.
  3. Remember, the ultimate loyalty reward is equity.

Your financial democracy business plan

Look to list on an entrepreneurial stock exchange; one that was founded by entrepreneurs on entrepreneurial principles.

That means: A stock exchange that is already built on financial democracy and decentralisation. One that has, at its core, a single operational concept that keeps things simple for you, automatically gives you an immediate competitive advantage, and, ensures that no matter what your business needs in terms of attracting capital, the exchange can provide all the options in the same, consistent way.

What does such an exchange look like?

It has fintech capabilities. So:

It slashes your listing costs. It achieves this, among other things, by enabling you to populate an electronic prospectus, demonstrating your financial viability, and self publish.

It gives you control by having the granularity and agility to impose relevant governance right down to the individual investor. You get to decide the types and quantities of investors you want to attract. This also enables you to achieve black economic empowerment in perpetuity.

It leads the world by clearing and settling trades in T+0. No-one in the value chain has to hold large sums of money for days following a transaction. Small transactions become profitable. Investors don’t have to risk their life savings on a single large trade. A retail market is opened. An investment and savings culture is entrenched. The economy expands. Your business grows steadily.

It enables anywhere, any time trading via a mobile app that allows investors to see share value in real time. See economy expansion point above.

It integrates processes and procedures, simplifying them and ensuring rapid onboarding of issuers and, therefore, speed to market with new concepts and alignment with the digital economy.

It operates a principles-based regime. So:

It treats you, as an executive, with respect. It’s not prescriptive. It does not insist on excessive oversight, allowing the Companies Act to guide you to sustainability.

It does not attempt to squeeze your company into a pre-defined business or listings format. It recognises and works with your uniqueness.

It obviates the need for expensive specialist listings advisors.

It focuses on financial inclusion and access. So:

Shares can be bought and sold for no more than R1 000. See economy building point above.

Related: 27 Of The Richest People In South Africa

The new world of stock exchanges is integrated, synergistic, holistic, organic, self-fulfilling

Decentralisation of financial control, democratisation of opportunity leads to a whole new economy. One in which, for instance, a taxi operator can finance a minibus through a company in which his purchase gives him shares. A single purchase gives him two benefits: a vehicle on which to found his business and a longer-term investment in shares that he can trade. The funding company gains liquidity through access to a wider base of investors while being able to control who buys and sells and the conditions on which trading takes place. Increasing black equity in business becomes an organic, natural, self-perpetuating process.

Everyone wins in a decentralised, democratised financial market. And it’s the stock exchanges that drive the process.

As an entrepreneur, can you afford to ignore the acceleration that listing could give your business growth?

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