It’s been said a million times the web over, that it’s not about the money; and yet somehow there’s always someone new popping up for whom it IS about the money.

At the same time, I’ve been learning a lot about Lean methodologies, and how they apply to startup and product life.  So I wondered if it might be useful to look at the lack of money as a problem, and apply the famous Five Why’s to solving for the root of the problem and see what results could be.  We’ll start with the classic phrasing of the macro-problem:

  1. I need more money.
  2. Because I need to buy “x” or “y” or “z”
  3. Because I need to have food, shelter, clothing, a Bentley, jewelry, etc
  4. Because I need
    • food, shelter, clothing to survive,
    • _______ goods, Bentley, jewelry, etc, to
      • feel better about myself
      • demonstrate my worth or superiority to others
      •  because it’s something I’m entitled to
    • to increase value for others (entrepreneur?)
  5. Because it will make me happy

I hope I’m not doing this wrong, but it feels to me like #5 right there gets to the heart of non-survival, or non-professional related quests for money.

Because it will make me happy.

I think the one most depressing and freeing thing I learned early-on in Hollywood, that some of the richest people I met, were the most unhappy.  It was really a revelation.  In some ways, I think knowing that put up a roadblock to me learning that I could derive satisfaction from a financial return until later in life.  Once I met some people who were wealthy AND well-adjusted, it because a lot more clear that money really, honestly, has little to do with being happy.

So the next time you catch yourself being All About the Benjamins, run a quick “five why’s” and then put the results to use. I suspect that in most applications, it’ll speed your way towards really being happy.