18 October, 2010


According to Merriams-Websters Dictionary, experience is defined as:

1a : direct observation of or participation in events as a basis of knowledge b : the fact or state of having been affected by or gained knowledge through direct observation or participation
2a : practical knowledge, skill, or practice derived from direct observation of or participation in events or in a particular activity b : the length of such participation
3a : the conscious events that make up an individual life b : the events that make up the conscious past of a community or nation or humankind generally
4: something personally encountered, undergone, or lived through
5: the act or process of directly perceiving events or reality

So in other words two people can go through the exact same event, yet there are two different experiences.

Why is this so important? Because in this down economy it is important and imperative to know what people are pursuing and avoiding from an experiential standpoint. In other words, what experience are people pursuing and/or avoiding and at what cost are they willing to pay.

Personal development courses always include a section on building material wealth. The top two foundational wealth books Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and Science of Getting Rich by Wallace Wattles say the same thing in that people will be compensated according to the value added to the goods and service they provide. Hill calls it "definite terms of service" while Wattles refer to it as "use value vs. cash value." They basically state the same thing. However I remain struggling financially confused over those statements.

Finally while studying from personal development pioneer Stewart Emory recently, it finally clicked. He theorized that people don't necessarily pay for goods and service per se as opposed to the experience they personally experience while using that product or service.

What does that mean?

Going back to Wallace Wattle's "use value vs. cash value," he used an example of trading for fur: a person could barter with a fur trapper a rare piece of art appraised in the millions of dollars for a hundred pounds of fur, but the fur trapper will not experience a use value for that trade. However if someone else bartered a $200 rifle for that same amount of fur, the fur trapper would experience a higher use value for that gun. If that piece of art work (sculpture or painting) does not add to the trapper's livelihood, it's unlikely that the trapper will consider that trade a positive experience. On the flip side, though the gun was less in cash value, if the gun adds to the livelihood of the trapper, then his experience of that trade will be more positive from his/her perspective.

Human beings spend their entire existence either avoiding or pursuing an experience. Even if we break it down to the basic necessities of food, clothing, and shelter, is there not some form of experience associated with even that basic need? Take no look further than a Yelp review. Restaurants are rated according to the reviewers' experience. What did they experience when they tasted the food at restaurant XYZ. What was their experience from the service level of the staff at XYZ.

The same thing with advertising. Are the products and or service really being sold on the commercial or is there a specific experience being associated with a particular product or service in that commercial being watched? Take a look at any fitness product. What's really being sold, the product or a possible experience of feeling attractive or more attractive?

Even as an actor. My job isn't just to create an authentic character based on the writing of the playwright or screenwriter and my personal physical and emotional attributes. I'm also responsible for the experience of not only my audience member, but that of the production staff and my other fellow actors involved.

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