I spent the last couple of my teenage years working in a restaurant. This was in 1997-ish, so long before social media and ubiquitous smartphones. For some reason, the owners of the joint saw fit to promote me to assistant manager. Probably for lack of options.

When we evaluated our performance over a given period of time, we looked at two things:

Even a couple of decades later, I’d be willing to bet that most restaurants use similar metrics to gauge success or failure. Because, at the end of the day, money is the yardstick we’ve all agreed on for figuring out if a business is working.

Here are a few things we didn’t track (at least, not carefully):

These are the equivalent of likes/hearts/whatever on your favorite social network. The size of your email list. How much overall traffic you get on your website.

Not completely meaningless, but as true measurements of success, they suck.

They suck because they don’t represent any kind of meaningful action on the part of the person issuing them. It takes basically zero effort to click a link, tap a heart icon, or smash a share button.

If you want to see how much a person values what you’re offering, ask them for money in return. Offer a true exchange of value and see who actually takes you up on it.

Once a person is put in a position where they have to sacrifice in order to get what you’ve got, then you can see if what you’re offering is truly valuable.

Just don’t spend your energy trying to satisfy arbitrary—and ultimately meaningless—requirements.