How Your Scarcity Mindset is Actively Blocking You from Abundance

Having a scarcity mindset prevents you from committing to specialization. Specialization leads to abundance, in ways that you can't predict or expect.

This post is about the value of specialization and how the scarcity mindset actively blocks you from attempting to become a specialist. Read the previous post in my series on scarcity mindset here.

Niches and Pitches

For people getting started as influencers and content creators, the conventional wisdom is to select a niche—a narrow subset of people with a specific problem or interest—and to produce content for them. I received similar advice regarding pitching my business when I first started out as an entrepreneur. A successful elevator pitch usually takes this formula:

“I help [customer] achieve [result] by [solution]”

What the content niche and the elevator pitch have in common is a narrow focus on a specific type of customer. The customer is never “all people” but rather “firefighters” or “independent bakeries” or “CPG product managers.”

In both business ventures and content, I initially resisted narrowing my focus. Here’s an example:

Some of you know I teach an independent Finance 101 class on Zoom. The first two cohorts were people from all walks of life who happened to know me, so those cohorts filled up without any marketing. For the third cohort, I decided to actively market the class with a focus on a smaller niche:

I got one signup for this cohort, again, someone who came as a very strong referral so didn’t need any marketing. I realized “entrepreneur” was not a clear enough niche, so I decided to narrow it down even further:

Can you see the difference? The new niche is not just “content creators” but rather gaming content creators. Even though the page doesn’t say gaming, the copy and images are chosen with a specific person in mind, a 22-35yo male who makes a living playing or commenting on video games on the Internet. That is much more specific than “entrepreneur.” It’s also a much easier person to market to.

How the Scarcity Mindset Gets in the Way of Specialization

A person with a scarcity mindset tends to view money, opportunities and resources as limited, and whatever the person can scrounge together won’t “be enough.” The underlying emotion is fear. The fear directly impedes identifying and attacking a niche, because saying that “I want to serve gaming content creators” implies that I won’t be serving any other kind of entrepreneur.

The scarcity mindset hates this.

When the scarcity mindset dominates, there aren’t enough opportunities, gigs, jobs or sales to begin with, so the mind does not want to contemplate the possibility of turning down any sale.

Especially at the beginning of a new venture (or job search), when sales (interviews) have not materialized and customer (employer) demand is uncertain, we don’t want to risk turning away any potential customer. It makes sense—instinctively, people don’t like to narrow down their options.

The Paradox of Abundance—Saying No to Some Opportunities Leads to Yes from Others

I recently met a career coach named Lucia Csoma. When Lucia gave me her pitch—“I help people navigate the first 90 days of a career transition, either at a new company or a promotion into a new role”—I had an “aha” moment about the power of niche. Lucia’s value proposition is so narrow and so clear that it’s easy for me to 1) remember and 2) refer people to her. If I meet someone who is at the beginning of a career transition, it’s easy for me to say “hey I know a coach who specializes in this exact thing you’re going through. No idea if she’s good or not but can’t hurt to book a free consultation with her.”

I know a lot of life coaches. By contrast, the others don’t have a pitch/niche that stands out in my mind. I haven’t worked with any of them, so I can’t speak from personal experience if any of them are good enough to refer, and moreover, they kind of all blur together in my mind. Lucia told me that her goal in having a very clear niche was to “be referable.” Well, Lucia just got her message out to the several hundred readers of this blog without even asking for it!

Why the Abundance Mindset Lawyer Is Fighting an Uphill Battle

I want to return to the analogy of abundance vs. scarcity mindset as two opposing lawyers in a courtroom.

The abundance mindset lawyer has an inherently harder case to prove because of how the human mind works. Based on my experience on Wall Street, the mind is bad at comprehending large numbers on an intuitive level. I’ve read that at any given time, your brain can only keep track of relationships with about 400 people—because that was the size of the typical clan/tribe structure that ancient humans lived and evolved in. If I’m attending a wedding with 100 people, I intuitively know what that feels like, and I know how it’s different from a wedding with 20 guests.

By contrast, it’s hard for the mind to grasp the meaning of very large numbers. If I attend a huge wedding, I can’t really fathom the difference between 1000 and 5000—I only understand that I won’t know most of the guests there.

The Internet has brought the cost of distributing informational products and services down to nearly zero. This means your potential reach is no longer people in your clan or tribe, but rather everyone who is connected to the Internet. With real-time translation technology improving every day, they don’t even need to speak your language anymore. There are 7 billion people on Earth—can anyone really comprehend what 7 billion people means? This is a huge number that doesn’t intuitively make sense to the human mind.  

Let’s say your niche is gaming content creators. Even if your niche is 0.01% of the total population on Earth, that’s still 700,000 potential customers. If you are selling live educational services, that is way more people than you can ever serve in your lifetime.

That is super abundant! Yet, the mind has a very hard time grasping this reality, so the scarcity mindset lawyer tends to win these arguments.

This is true even if you aren’t an entrepreneur or content creator. If you are product manager at a consumer packaged goods company who lives in Chicago, thanks to remote work, the “market” for your services is no longer CPG companies in Chicago. It’s every CPG company on the planet. If you explicitly specialize in a sub-niche of some aspect of CPG, let’s say bottled non-alcoholic beverages, that may help you stand out in the mind of potential employers the way that Lucia stood out in my mind.

Specializing Is a Commitment, But It Isn’t Permanent

I’ll conclude with a final point about fear.

Specializing in something—whether teaching finance to gaming content creators, branding yourself as a non-alcoholic bottled beverage product manager, or anything else, requires you to make a commitment to that niche. Commitments are inherently scary—“what if I don’t like it, what if I’m not good at it, etc.,” (fear of making a mistake) in addition to the “what if I miss out on the things I didn’t commit to and therefore starve” (FOMO + scarcity mindset).

The key point here is that professional specializations (and indeed most commitments) are not permanent. The first product you sell won’t be the last product you sell. But you do need to sell something first, and that requires people to notice you, and that requires you to do something that stands out.

In my case, a finance class for gaming content creators is not the only product I sell. It’s just a landing page for marketing purposes. Since the underlying educational content is the same, I can just as easily offer a class for fashion influencers and tech product review people—they will just get different marketing aimed at them. I am also an advisor to an independent bakery—the type of financial analysis needed there is somewhat different from an online content creator, but just because I’ve declared to the world that “I teach finance to gaming content creators” doesn’t mean that I can’t continue doing other stuff on the side. I just won’t advertise it.

Finally, specializations and niches have way more room to run than you think. They naturally evolve and grow over time. My favorite example is a dude named George Motz—a cooking show guy who makes videos about the hundreds of regional variations of the traditional American hamburger. It is about as specialized a niche as you can find within the cooking show space.

Two points about George Motz:

1)      In addition to making YouTube videos, documentaries, and probably a cookbook somewhere, George Motz recently opened a hamburger joint in NYC. It looks awesome and I want to eat there. From a money perspective, I am sure you can imagine what the potential upside is of a burger joint with a strong brand?

2)      Motz’s enthusiasm for his hyper-specialized niche oozes off the screen and makes him a magnetic and likeable character. If you go through his YouTube comments, you’ll see a lot of stuff like “I wish I loved something as much as George loves hamburgers.” Motz’s viewers don’t love hamburgers as much as he does. They love that he loves hamburgers as much as he does.

Pretty abundant, yea?



Journal on the following or discuss with a friend.

1)      Noticing

When the topic of specializing or committing to a niche comes up, what do I feel? Which lawyer is winning the argument in my mind—the scarcity mindset lawyer or the abundance mindset lawyer?

2)      Inquiry

In what areas of my business, career or life am I trying to be all things to all people?

3)      Hypothesis Generation

Temporarily adopt the mindset that you are a scientist conducting an experiment about what your future financial path could be. You must first generate a hypothesis. Since you are a scientist, you are open to the experiment showing the hypothesis to be wrong, in which case you will generate a new hypothesis.

Review the work you have done:

What patterns do I see in the types of people I have helped and the types of problems I have worked on?

Which people did I enjoy working with the most?

Based on past results, which problems am I best at solving?

Based on these answers, what is my hypothesis on how I can specialize, or which niche I can serve? It's fine if the hypothesis feels limiting or scary. I can always update my hypothesis later as I collect more evidence.

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