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Business 101

A kinder, gentler moment

There’s one in every building. Can be male or female, young or old, usually doesn’t work but has an equal or higher standard of living than you do. The one in my building uses an iphone, an apple computer to check his email and has a 50 inch television. (I work or try to find work every day, use T-mobile, a Toshiba and a 14 inch television.) The one in my building is actually a nice guy, and manages to avoid crossing the line from annoying to the list of blocked calls.

Today he sits on the front step of the apartment – a spider tending his web – watching to see who is coming in and going out, making his selection as to whom will provide a ride somewhere or some kind of entertainment he cannot provide for himself. He’s being cool today to me speaking as he always does but not looking at me when he does so. He’s pissed because I turned down his “offer” to take him to the pet store.

I’ve given him plenty of rides in the past to the pet store for cat meds, the antique store to buy green glass bottles for his decorating bent and yes, sometimes the market for food. He has never so much as offered a dollar for gas and has sometimes forgotten to say thanks. So sometimes I forget to be a good Samaritan and do kindnesses. It’s a little dance we do on occasion. He’ll get over it and so will I and he’ll ask for a favor and I’ll do it. But each time we dance, he gets a little cagier and so do I and recently I realized that I could learn a thing or two from him. Things that when you think about it, some of our most successful businessmen do.

1) Never pay for something if you don’t have to. I read Donald Trump said this. After his near bankruptcy, Trump was asked what he had learned from the experience. He replied, “Never use your own money.”

2) Networking. This is straight up Dale Carnegie who practically invented the “it’s not what you know it’s who you know” axiom. And, in fact, our friend knows everybody in the building and rotates his favor requests around so as not to overwork any one prospect. He knows everybody’s business and uses it to advantage – like keeping notes on a client’s hobbies or interests. Knowing somebody’s habits helps the strategic request. If apartment 412 shops on Saturday morning at 10:00am then he sits in the lobby on Saturday at 10:00am for a ride along.

3) Don’t hurry the deal. This is straight up Zig Ziglar. Don’t hurry and remember to blink, Ziglar used to advise. Blinking is the beginning of negotiation, it’s what you do instead of folding under to a no. I’ve sometimes had to say no several times to “are you sure you can’t take me to the store?” It doesn’t work all the time on me but it works more often than not. At least it used to – but I’ve learned.

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