Survivors Sell — You Should Monetize Your Mess

Let other people learn from your mistakes.


Judith Valentijn

3 years ago | 4 min read

Two people offer you a course that will teach you how to become rich. Whose course do you think will offer the most value to you?

Person A was born into a wealthy family. They went to an Ivy League school and started their own company after graduation. The company was funded using a million-dollar loan from the family capital. Two years later, the company is worth 2 million dollars. In their online course “how to become rich like me” they promise to teach you how to double the value of your company.

Person B was born into a low-income family. Even though their parents worked two jobs, there was no money available for college. They worked fulltime as a burger flipper and used their free time to develop software. Two years later, they make $100,000 a year in revenue from selling their SaaS. They offer an online course “how to become rich like me” teaching you how to develop and sell your own software with minimal programming skills.

I don’t know about you, but I am going to pick person B. Even though person A managed to double a million dollars, I could never be rich like them because the foundations of their wealth look like this:

  • Have a rich family
  • Go to an Ivy League school
  • Start your business using your family’s means
  • Sell your products to your extended family and the CEOs who watched you take your first steps

No matter how hard I work or how good my business ideas are, I will never top that foundation. I could never emulate person A’s success.

Person B, however, started with the same mess as the rest of us. They started with nothing and built a successful company while flipping burgers. Their course applies to almost everyone, especially in this economy. The foundation of their success looks more like this:

  • Come up with an idea
  • Work consistently on your idea even if you are tired from your day job
  • Stay motivated
  • Find a target audience that will significantly benefit from your product
  • Learn the basics of programming and marketing

Person B is a survivor. They had the odds stacked against them and still came out on top. And if they can make it, I can make it too. His “how to become rich like me” course will have valuable information I can directly apply to my own life.

Survivors sell

For most of the world, life is hard. So we want to spend our hard-earned money on stuff that makes our life more comfortable. And because we don’t have a lot of money, we need to make sure that we spend it wisely.

And the wisest way to spend it is by giving our money to someone who has walked in our shoes and is now living the life we covet.

Who would you rather get dietary advice from? A supermodel who has been stick-thin her whole life? Or from someone who’s lost 25 pounds, gained back 30, lost 35 pounds, and is now on a healthy and stable weight for years?

Who would you rather get relationship advice from? The person who married their childhood sweetheart and never had to deal with conflict, trust issues, infidelity, or a broken heart? Or from someone who had a string of bad relationships, managed to break that pattern and is now in a healthy marriage?

Survivors sell because we all mess something up sooner or later. And to grow from that mess, we don’t need flawless people condescendingly explain why they never messed up.

No, we want to hear from people who messed things up badly, had an unfair disadvantage, and overcame tremendous obstacles. We can learn from their mistakes and accelerate our growth.

How to monetize your mess

The key to living a happy life is to learn from your mistakes and improve yourself continually. It’s a sweet but slow process. You can amp it up by learning from other people’s mistakes, though.

No matter if you are aware of it or not, we are continually learning from other people’s mistakes and misfortune. And that is how you can monetize your mess.

Did you make a bunch of mistakes buying your house? Write an ebook about it, so that people looking to buy their first house know what not to do.

Did you waste 17 years of your life living with a weak-chinned narcissistic cheater? Write a Medium article about what happens when you ignore red flags early in your relationship and make money from your misfortune.

Did you launch 50 startups, and 49 failed? Become a startup coach. You know better than anyone what it takes to make a startup successful and how to deal with setbacks. I’ll pay for a one-on-one Zoom call!

Is your kid in prison for selling coke and stealing money from the elderly? Make a YouTube series where you interview psychologists, criminologists, and other parents about what makes a child derail and how you can get through something like this as a family.

Did you get fired because your creative bookkeeping turned out to be illegal? Please make a Substack about proper bookkeeping and surviving prison. I’ll gladly pay you a couple of bucks every month to read your work!

Was your mental health seriously affected by your demanding job? And did you manage to become wildly successful and mentally stable? Become an online coach for young professionals who are also struggling with their mental health.

You can even monetize your literal mess — clean out your closet and garage and put everything on Craigslist. That one shirt that makes you look like a tank looks super cute on someone else.

In closing

We are social learners. And no marketing strategy is more potent than simply showing me you have been where I have been, and you are now where I want to be.

Look at your mess and turn it into a valuable message. There will always be people who’ll gladly give you their money, so they don’t have to make the mistakes you did.


Created by

Judith Valentijn

Failing Forward. Psychology Student. Certified Coach & Reluctant Marketer. Read me @ Medium:







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