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Why should you and I care about the Mathew effect?

The rich get richer and the poor get poorer, this is what the Mathew effect is.
In 1968 the sociologist Robert K. Merton coined the phrase while looking at social advantage, the Mathew effect. It takes its name form the Bible chapter of Mathew and more specifically the parable of the talents.

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In the Parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14–30) Three servants or staff are given talents, a sum of money, based on there ability to use that money. The staff member who was given the most not surprisingly achieved the most.

 In business we see that all the time as an unfair advantage and we then create a bias thinking that someone else has gotten ahead or gotten to where they are because they have more to begin with. While it can be true the more you start with the bigger your starting advantage will be. 

For an entrepreneur, the startup is not the only defining factor for success, and you can't let a limited startup define the limits of the success you will achieve.

In this 2000 year old story there is a key point that is often missed, the staff were given according to there skill. This would suggest that different people have different ability to work with what they have.

We are no longer limited like people were 2000 years ago. In fact because you are reading this now you must be able to read, and therefore have the ability to increase you capacity through learning.

Upgrade your skills

In today's connected, digital age there has never been a better time to gain new skills and increase your capacity to earn. Websites like Udemy, Skillshare and edX make it incredibly simple to learn what ever you have an interest in or a requirement for.

 As you increase your capacity through knowledge, you can increase your capacity for everything until you hit the level of critical mass that you need, and then, the Mathew effect will kick into for your advantage.

Critical mass can also easily be achieved through social proof, this is what others say about you.
When shopping online i’m sure you have seen the “others have also purchased” section. This is all about creating the feeling for you that you as a shopper in your PJ’s at home are not alone.

But rather you are part of a tribe and that tribe is also interested in things like X,Y and Z this list of X,Y and Z items are other things that you may also want, they can be matching shoes, handbags, supporting technology, screen protectors or anything.

The entire purpose of the section is to create evidence that your behavior is acceptable and others are doing it too. This created social proof is invaluable to the consumer who wants to “keep up with the Jones's”.

Studies have shown that fake feedback positive (or negative) has a huge effect towards social proofing and the more something is liked, the more it will be liked even more, critical mass, otherwise known as the Mathew effect.

So, what are the things you need to be doing to get the Mathew effect to work for you?

  1. Get better educated, the more you know the more you can leverage, find a mentor or coach someone who can see where you want to go and has the ability to help you get there. Spend time on YouTube, Udemy, Skillshare etc. Subscribe there rather than Netflix.
  2. Get a partner, an affiliate, someone to work with the bigger you are the more notice people will take of you this is why there is forwards by another reputable author in the field in most book’s, it’s about having someone acknowledge what you are doing as valid. Subscribe to others, blogs podcasts whatever will work best for you, connect with others doing what you are. Everyone is an example, sometimes just an example of what not to do. learn from your competition or join them.
  3. Think left and right, where you are getting your audience from may not be your only clients. I have a friend that wholesales agricultural equipment a few years ago he took a pump out to a mine site to demo it. The mine was not interested because it was the wrong color and to cheap. Farmers had pushed the sell price down so far that that was why he was looking for new markets. The mine looked at the sell price and considered it junk. He got the pump painted yellow (rather than farmer green) for the mine, tripled the sell price and they wanted it. Your current market may not be the only one you have a product for, get into the habit of thinking where else can this go.
  4. Get feedback and reviews, the more feedback and reviews the more evidence that new customers will find to get on board, and join the tribe too. Encourage this, create a culture of connecting. Antonio from realmenrealstyle.com does this brilliantly, get onto his content and watch how he makes that happens.
  5.  Find evidence of your success. The more you believe you can do something the more likely you are to take action. We have been conditioned through years of school that failure is bad. It’s not bad, failure is feedback, it tells you what you need to change, what you need to improve on. Create an environment for yourself that highlights positive results from everything. Even if it was just learning how it doesn't work. Seek evidence of success and know that as an entrepreneur you are on a constant growth trajectory.

Summary:

The Mathew effect is simply giving a name to what we already know, it is stating the universal truth, the more you have the more you will get.
To have more, create more, write more, build more, DO MORE. Laziness is never rewarded. To do more, create more, write more etc. you need to be in what Gary Vaynerchuk and others call flow.

Takeaways:

  • work on your skills
  • look around for outside influence
  • seek feedback and act on it
  • seek evidence of you success

Scott Fleming

I am a Counselor, Coach, Business trainer, passionate about getting people to a new level of productivity.