Income and Impact

Income and Impact

Lisa O'Neill

Lisa O'Neill

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Many people think that income and impact are mutually exclusive.


This past week, I started our Global Thought Leaders Roadshow. My mission is simple – to find experts and show them what’s possible when they put their experience and expertise through the Thought Leaders curriculum. For those of you who have already experienced the curriculum, you will know the answer. You are able to make an income and an impact! You are able to produce well-thought-out solutions that change the way people think, do or see.

Many people think that income and impact are mutually exclusive. That it is not possible to have both. Especially common is the theory that to make the social change, you cannot be seen to be charging for what you do. That bringing money into your endeavours taints the flavour. So many of us have a dysfunctional relationship with money. We have had beliefs handed down to us like ‘money is the root of all evil’, ‘that a big income is directly related to big ego’.

My favourite definition of money is that it is energy. I believe that the more energy I give, the more I should get.

Years ago I had a client that I did a lot of work with. We did big events. In one of the events we were planning, the number of people attending doubled. They were very excited about the fact that the numbers had gone from 250 to 500 people in the room. They were less excited when I suggested that I was going to double my fee. “But it’s the same work,” they claimed. But it’s twice the impact I replied!

The energy required to transform 500 people is much bigger than it is to shift 250. The expectation of a room of 500 is much higher. 500 people all wanting a slice of pie. I suggested to my client that I was an energy company. That I charged not on time but on energy. For the next few years, we had a running joke about how many energy units I would charge for different events.

I love the idea of making an impact. The word impact means to have a marked effect or influence. What you know and what you care about are the two most important clues to how you can make an impact in the world.

Once you identify what you know and what you care about, the third step is to remove all of your limiting beliefs around what is possible for you. You need to believe that you can have an impact and that you have the ability to have an influence on the world.

There are so many ways we can create impact. If you are an expert, it’s a great idea to combine your impact and your income. The ultimate value exchange is to get paid well for the contribution you make to people, organisations, and industries. Increasing your income will increase the impact you are able to make. It’s definitely easier to change the world if you are well-resourced.

Imagine looking back on your life knowing that you took your message to the world, made the impact you were born to make, and made an income that created security for your family and a difference to the people that you care about.

Will.I.AM, singer from the Black Eyed Peas, is one of the most remarkable examples of this. A global music artist, entrepreneur, and STEM education advocate. Will is obsessed with music and tech. He cares deeply about both of these things being available to everyone. Not only does he understand the impact of not having access to tech devices and web connection, he cared enough to do something about it.

Will knows how important tech is. He has changed his life by creating music and products using the advances in STEM technology. He cares deeply about ‘his people’. People like him, people living in the areas he grew up in. He has found a problem he wants to fix. He wants to make tech accessible to everyone. To help them to live in the future and not be held back by their circumstances. His “ Foundation” supports school STEM education programs for over 12,000 disadvantaged youth in Southern California. Will has donated £500,000 of his own income, including his fee as a judge on the TV talent show, The Voice. He uses his influence to raise money and awareness to solve a problem he cares deeply about.

The way to do this is simple.

  1. Identifying what you know.
    Write down all the things that you know. All the things you could teach someone. All the things you would like to share with others.
    What do you know how to do?
  2. Identifying what you care about.
    Who do you want to help? What do you want to change?
    What is the thing that really lights you up or pisses you off?
  3. Develop the conviction to follow your dreams.
    Steve Jobs said that “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” Having a person with an unshakable belief in its outcome is the greatest asset any idea can have. An idea is not enough. An impact requires expertise, energy and belief to happen. Conviction develops as a result of doing the work – it is the outcome you get after seeing your idea presented, platformed and discussed over and over. From taking all the ingredients on offer and refining them to get the blend you want.


I do not think there is anything more rewarding than getting well paid for doing work that you love. For making the difference you were born to make. From making cash from your crusade!


Lisa O’Neill

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