Everyone knows the quote, “spend money to make money.” The problem is, we tend to apply that only to “business situations,” and rarely do we realize the benefit of actually incorporating that quote into our lives.
The idea for this post came to me on a flight back from Punto Arenas, where I spent three days on a boat cruising through Patagonia, as a guest of Wines of Chile.
Since I was their guest, they booked my flight, and I found myself on Delta, connecting to LAN Airlines. LAN is with OneWorld, an airline mileage partnership with which I have zero status whatsoever, so it came as no surprise when I received my boarding pass and found myself in 26K, all the way in the back of the plane.
I had been hoping to write several blog posts on the plane, but sitting in the cramped space of an economy seat, (and a middle seat, to boot,) that wasn’t going to happen for two reasons: Even if the person in front of me didn’t recline his seat, I still couldn’t get my laptop to a full open position, and two, if I managed to, an he suddenly did recline, my laptop would be cracked in half.
So as I walked down the aisle to the hell that was the back of my plane for my flight (with a stopover) from Punto Arenas to Santiago, where I’d catch my Delta flight home the next day, I did some quick math. The flight (with the stopover) was just under four hours. Assuming I write four blog posts in flight, at one per hour, that’s four hours I can’t work. If you consider my keynote fee, or even my consulting rate, having to make up those four hours at another time would actually cost me a lot of money. With that, I found myself in front of a pleasant woman in seat 12A, an Emergency Exit row. On a whim, I said the following: “Ma’am, would you take $100 to trade seats with me? I’m in 26K.”
She looked up, asked me if I was serious, and when I said I was, her eyes nearly popped out of her head. “Of course I will,” she exclaimed.
She made $100 (or roughly $25 per hour,) for a little bit of discomfort (and she was short, so it probably didn’t even affect her that much,) and I was able to write my four blog posts.
The person next to me was shocked at what had just transpired, until I told him why I did it. As soon as he “got it,” you could see his brain whirring with ideas of ways to make money by spending money in the future.
So here are some suggestions on ways to do just that.
Airport Taxi Lines
Ever land at McCarran Airport during CES or The Home Show or the Jewelry Show or some other ridiculously packed show? Unless you’ve reserved a car prior, you’re at the whim of a ridiculously long (I mean, hours long,) cab ride. Unless you do the following:
Walk up to the front of the cab line, grab all your courage, and shout “IS ANYONE GOING TO (INSERT HOTEL NAME HERE?) IF SO, I’LL PAY FOR YOUR CAB IF I CAN JOIN YOU.”
Nine out of ten times, you’ll wind up with someone in the front of the line saying “Yeah, I’m going there, come with.” (And most of the time you’ll wind up splitting the fare anyway.)
The big question here isn’t “Can we do that?” But rather, “why doesn’t everyone do that?”
Cost benefit to you: What’s your time worth? If you’re spending less (much less) than your hourly rate on a cab, as opposed to waiting an hour or more for a taxi, why wouldn’t you look to share? Bonus? You just might make a new friend or even a business contact during the ride.
How much time do you spend in restaurants waiting for your table, long after your reservation time has passed? Well, until restaurants start to get their act together and create Zombie Loyalists, the answer is most likely “too much time.”
When I’m taking a client, or heck, even a friend out to a new restaurant, I do one simple thing: I stop in around the time of my reservation, the night before, and introduce myself to the Maitre’d . I explain that I’m bring a very important business client/job candidate/etc to dinner the next night, and if he’s working, would he possibly be so kind as to take care of us? Depending on his answer, I might offer him a “pre-tip” in advance of his good service.
I remember I once told someone that I did this, and they said “Oh, you’re just flaunting.” I was surprised, as I explained that if I WAS flaunting, wouldn’t I give the Maitre’d a tip in front of the client/customer/date? By doing it this way, you’re avoiding any awkwardness, setting up the waters in advance for a calm, stress-free dinner, and most importantly, giving the person you’re with one less reason to look back on your dinner with anything but pleasure.
Let’s face it – Even if you bill out at $100 an hour, a $50 in the hand of someone who can escort you to your table the second you arrive is simply good business sense. I imagine there will be people reading this similar to my friend above, and if you believe as he does, that this is just a move to flaunt, I invite you to join the debate in the comments below.
Like I said, I see it as nothing but good business sense.
Cost benefit to you: You’re putting the client/date/friend at ease right from the start – Everyone gets antsy when there’s a huge line. Plus, client/date/friend sees you on a first-name basis with the maitre’d, it reflects positively on you as someone who treats all people well, both above and below them. (Whenever I want to hire someone, I always take them out to lunch before I do – How they interact with the wait staff determines my final decision.)
The Crowded Bar
While I’ve never been a fan of crowded bars, there are times where you simply can’t avoid them. For me, the quicker I can get my drink, make whatever small talk I have to, then get out, the better. So how do I do it? Two ways:
The first way is to always open a tab. Bartenders hate having to make change. Plop your credit card down before you even order, and ask them to keep the tab open. Secondly, when you get your first drink, give the bartender a $20 dollar bill, even though you’re paying with a credit card. Simply ask him or her nicely to remember you when you come up for your next round. He or she most definitely will. Remember: Tips are lifeblood to service industry employees, and helping them make a little extra in an evening benefits not only them, but you, as well. (Especially considering that most crowded bars have way too many douchebags in suits talking down to the staff to begin with. Be nice, tip well, win it all.)
Cost benefit to you: You magically come back with the drinks in record time, even if the bar is six deep. That’s huge. Plus, you might even get a free round. If you’ve got more than two people in your party, that’s already paid for the tip you gave at the beginning.
If you’re at a hotel for one or two nights, and all you’re doing there is sleeping, I’m of the opinion that you take whatever room they give you, and don’t complain. As long a you get a bed that fits you, how many bedrooms do you really need when you’re fast asleep?
But – If you’re doing other things – Holding a meeting, perhaps, or inviting friends to join you, then by all means, it pays to take care of the front desk manager, or if you’ve established a good rapport with the person checking you in, there’s nothing wrong with offering them a “thank you” for “anything they can do to help you ‘get a higher floor,’” or “a better view,” or a “junior suite,” you name it.
Don’t expect $20 to magically upgrade you from the closet you booked on Priceline to the Presidential Suite with the baby grand, though. Need something that bad? Pony up and book the room, Daddy Warbucks.
For the majority of room requests, though, a smile and a nominal amount of money can benefit you.
Cost benefit to you: Extra room to work, entertain, or a connection to fix a problem, a noisy neighbor, or a non-working whatever.
Can you share some other ways that you “spend money to make money” outside the office? I’d love to hear them in the comments.
Thanks for reading.