Month: December 2013

Acumen – Or Just Dumb Luck?

People look upon other people’s success stories with awe. They hear or read about this or that accomplishment, and instinctively tack it up as, “That person must have been brilliant, I couldn’t have done that.” Then they read no further into the details to see if it was because of that persons brilliance they accomplished so much or, was it purely right place – right time.

Don’t misinterpret what I’m saying here. There are times that being ready, and preparing yourself as to take advantage of situations that others never seen coming can many times be viewed by outsiders as only “luck.” However we all should know as entrepreneurs the real difference.

Becoming a “gazill-ionaire” in real estate during times when anyone breathing (and at times that seemed to be not that important) could rack up debt of literally hundreds of millions of dollars. Then lose it all during the housing crisis. To then write books for others to follow in today’s economy under the guise of. “Make Millions In Real Estate Easily Like I Did!” is a little disingenuous at best. However, there are far too many of these types of books out there than I care to discuss. Many of these along with quite a few other “business” books I refer to as, “Romance novels.”
Here’s how I described such things in an earlier article:

“Some call them “How to Guides” I call them “Romance Novels.” Just as love stories are filled with a cacophony of fresh flowers, walking on clouds, and love forever after, most business books paint the world of entrepreneurship as if any haze along the path should be viewed as a cloud of perfume because once through it, you’ll come out smelling sweeter on the other side. For many whom made this jump, perfume is not the first scent that comes to mind.”

This isn’t to say all of them fall into this category. Many are very explicit in their details of what they had to go through or, what they had to do as to keep it. Honesty is usually felt throughout such books when you’re reading them. However, if you ever have that feeling as your thumbing through or thinking about spending valuable time in actually reading one of these. Here’s a quick metaphor that I use when I find myself wondering if it’s really worth my time. (I state this because I have read literally hundreds and had to come with my own quick reference to save my own sanity.)

What was the environment (as in economic climate, etc.) did this person operate or conduct all their successes? i.e.,

Can their successes fit within the narrative of a car that only had the gear selection of DRIVE? In other words, there really was no other choices because everyone was going down the same road in the same direction. No one really needed to know “how to drive” or “what to do.” All one had to do was just get in the car because everyone seemed to be on or following the same road. Or….

Was it a case where nobody understood how a car worked let alone as to drive one. Where even if you found yourself inside one out of happenstance, you still needed to understand whether to engage the shifter into DRIVE mode. And consequently if you didn’t understand what the little “R” on the shifter meant you could really get yourself into trouble and probably did so.

If I pick something up and I get the feeling it was more than just plain luck – I buy it. Regardless if the scenery on the trip might not be all that picturesque. For at least I can say I may never had ventured there personally but, I’ll know why I might need to visit it or – avoid it all together. Because, all I want to know before I take the trip: Is this a trip to no where? Or fantasy land?

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr

How To Work A Room? Don’t

One thing that turns people off in less than 30 seconds, is when they feel as if: “They’re the mark.”

Problem is, this isn’t an isolated predicament that happens to just one set of individuals. We all feel this way when we understand the only reason someone is searching us out, or speaking to us, is for the self-centered goal as to: Meet us, pitch us, close us, then abandon us in search of the next mark.

We all hate it. Yet, many do it thinking they need to as in, “that’s sales.” Well, it isn’t. It’s a strategy and tactics more in line with the con game than in real sales. No matter what is said in some so-called “guru’s” book under some guise of: 111 Sales techniques that are sure to bring you sales! Trust me when I say, all it will do is tick off everyone you ever try it with.

Currently there’s a meme being pushed to what I believe is complete and utter nonsense. The elevator pitch. If there is one thing that’s going to turn off anyone – anytime – anywhere you are seen entering a room, is if they know or believe they are going to be on the receiving end of yours. No matter how great you believe it to be. Period.

Whether you are new to sales, entrepreneurship or, a seasoned veteran. If you want to network as to have anyone find interest in both you as well as what you may have to offer, the last thing in the world you want to do is try as to “close the sale” when you’re first meeting anyone.

Today’s so-called “elevator pitch” is a derivative of what was once just a quick descriptor of what one was involved with that would peak interest for further conversation. Not what is being pushed today as some form of mental entrapment vehicle to foster closing a sale on that spot.

If you want to have an exponential rise in gaining worthy followup leads from any network event, here is just one thing to work on, remember, then utilize.

First things first: Drop the whole “pitch” garbage and have a 10 to 15 second expression (aka: value proposition) of what you do that is both interesting yet, vague as possible. Here’s an example using myself:

  • You: “So Mark, tell me what you do?”
  • Me: “I help individuals as well as corporate clients to re-define and align their aspirations for dramatic growth.”
  • You: “That’s sound interesting but pretty vague. Can you give me a little more detail?”

That is exactly what I want to happen. I want it to be vague. I want to elicit questions I can answer. Not push answers to questions that are not being asked. After all, any answers (or pitch) I give you that you haven’t asked, is just wasted breath is it not?

So how would I respond to this question? Would I then go into full-bore “sales” mode where I start trying to sell you some new and improved “left brain – right brain” extravaganza program that is available only for this limited time and, if you don’t purchase it now – the 20% discount I made available for this event will be gone so, “You better act now and what is your credit card number again?”

Sounds foolish yet that’s precisely what a great many of you will do and not realize it. What’s worse? That person will not only be looking for an exit – they’ll run for cover every time there’s even a remote chance of running into you again. So here’s how I would respond…

  • Me: “I know it can sound that way, so let me ask you a question to help explain. What’s one of the more challenging aspects or difficulties you may be having in this current economy?”
  • You: “Oh its sales, or hiring qualified personnel, or procrastination, or sticking to goals, or time management, or, or, or, or….”
  • Me: “That sounds interesting. Tell me how that affects you during any given day. Or better yet, give me an example of how that works into your day, and how you’re now treating or handling this issue.”

If you notice I am not talking “me” here. Nor, have I wasted time as in launching into something I have to sell. i.e., How I can help them if they would only act now and talk, “to the operators that are standing by.”
I am involved in conversation. Not pitching. I want to elicit a discussion where I should be able to give a brief, yet cogent response that demonstrates I have answers that can help.

However, the full answers, where details and instructions along with the direct benefits that I have to offer are to be discussed at the next meeting. The meeting that will take place when I follow-up with: “Why don’t we get together say Tuesday and discuss further on how we can possibly work together?”

That is true networking or “working a room.” Not what transpires today as groups throwing pitches at each other with neither a batter nor catcher present. Just looking at the field, is it any wonder why nobody gets on base at these meeting?

You, or anyone in attendance are more than likely there for no other reason than to network and gain leads. (Far too many are there to collect as many business cards as possible. As if more cards meant some form of prize. It doesn’t. That’s a losers game.) However, even though both of us are at such an event with possibly the same intentions. I am in control of any initial conversation as to whether or not a so-called “lead” is worth pursuing further. And, if that’s the reason for attending, then that’s what you should be doing successfully. Not gauging your success by merely counting how many times one exchanges cards or pleasantries.

As “you” elaborate to me an expression on what issues you may find challenging. I have the ability to listen and formulate whether or not I have something to offer.

If I started this conversation as far too many will. i.e., “Hi my name is Mark, and I sell motivational books and CD’s to help energize people to be the best they can be! And today I’m offing a discount of over 20% off my already low-priced set of ‘Motivating Yourself for Fun and Profits!’ Originally $129.00 but today only for this event, if you can act now you can receive it for only $99.00! But wait….There’s more!”
You would have tuned me out right after, “and I sell…” if not before.

Although the example is ludicrous, many of you will launch into a diatribe very similar only substituting the products and price. So – is it any wonder why when you go to most networking events you find they’re less entertaining than repeats on network TV?

Think this doesn’t apply to what you have to sell? Bunk.

Sell cosmetics? How about: “I help people tackle issues due to seasonal changes.”

Vague? Yep. However, when the second set of bullet points above begins to unfold. I don’t even sell cosmetics but my next line might be, “Tell me one of the issues you find challenging from summer to winter with dry skin.” Or, _________(fill in the blank.)

If I were to come right out like most using my above example, i.e., “I sell cosmetics that help people blah, blah, blah.” The first thing that’s going to go through your mind is: “I’ve got drawers full of them and what I don’t need is another drawer full.” Followed by: “Oh look! Excuse me, I see someone I need to speak to over there. If I need something I’ll call you, I’ve got your card, Thanks!”

You need to create your own compelling version to open a conversation as to move it towards whether or not you have anything to offer that a client will both use, and more importantly – purchase.

People buy value. So what you need is to have your value proposition ready at all times. And people will buy – if, you can demonstrate they need what you have to offer. But that won’t happen if you offer them something they may instinctively feel they don’t want or need more of.

It doesn’t matter how much of anything anyone may already have. It’s all about you offering “the right one.” The one that fixes or helps fulfill the promise of a fix. People want and need solutions to issues. And – they will pay for it. Price be damned if you can prove the value.

Here’s another. Sell jewelry? Well, you may open conversations with: “I help people pick the perfect expression to commemorate their affections or achievements.” Followed again by the second set of bullet points. I hope you’re grasping the concept here.

What you should want to transpire at any of these type events, is to qualify whether an actual potential sale is possible. And this only happens by qualifying people you meet through their own inspired or expressed dialogue. All the while you might simultaneously be seen as the most interesting person in the room because…

All anyone talked about when with you – was about themselves.

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr

Lest We Never Forget

In the early hours this day in 1941 Pearl Harbor was attacked in what is now known as “A day of infamy.”

Lest we never forget those that died that day and in the years following during that terrible time of war.

Mark

 

Blooms Fade No Matter The Rose

There will be times as an entrepreneur when things aren’t going as smoothly as you once thought or intended. You’ll contemplate throwing in the towel, or going back to “your old job” as to get away from all this complicated or demanding entrepreneurial stuff you were once so in love with. You’ll find yourself remembering all the ole “good times.”

Problem is – that’s all you’ll focus on remembering. The bad –  you’ll just skip over. Then you’ll get that far away look in your eye and think: “It wasn’t that bad. Hey, it’s worth a try. Why not?”

Then just like rekindling a once faded relationship, you’ll find yourself wondering, “What in the world was I thinking!”

Just as it happens in love, so too does it happen in business. There are times you just have to move on. But, like the old saying goes: “It’s better to have loved and lost – than never to have loved at all.”

So if you think you’ve started or run your last entrepreneurial pursuit. And, you’re contemplating just packing it in as to “get a job somewhere” because it just isn’t working out as you had hoped. Or, you just don’t know if it was the right one, fear not because…

“In the search for lost loves…
You might find something you like even more!”

Think about it.

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr

Perspective Is Needed More Than Just Numbers

Like many of you during the holiday break I also had varying conversations on a wide range of topics with either family members or friends. One topic that came up many times was where the stock market would end up by year-end. People gave their differing opinions for both higher and lower guesses. However, what seemed to be missing from any of the discussions was whether the rise was valid or not. In other words, just why was the market at these levels to begin with?

It seemed as if everyone intuitively knew the reason yet, because they knew, they didn’t want to say it. Everyone was happy about their now increased 401k balances but, (and it’s a very big but) they seemed to feel very insecure on discussing anything in greater detail in much the same manner someone who inherited great wealth feels uncomfortable talking to someone who earned theirs.

It seems for lack of a better way to express it. People understood deep down that they could claim no acumen in their stock picking. They just invested in the main indexes and have let it ride. And thanks to the Federal Reserve (Fed.) handing free money to the banks to use, the market has not only gone up, it’s rocketed to heights never before seen in the history of financial markets.

So not to beat a dead horse on such a subject (both you and many others know or have read my dissertations on this very topic) I just couldn’t help myself from interjecting into one conversation where it seemed the amounts of money being discussed represented only numbers such as zeros and decimal points. i.e., “Well the Fed. is pumping in $85 Billion now. They’ll probably cut back to $80 or $75 in the coming months. It’s really not that much of a cut back, it shouldn’t have much of an impact blah, blah, blah.”

Being both a business person and entrepreneur I was taken back on the casualness of the numbers. It’s as if Billions is just loose change. To talk real money we have to now talk Trillions. So as I usually do I added my two cents into the conversation to give some perspective of the difference that’s taking place currently and, what it would take to equal just the dollar value being pumped into the markets. And why this type of intervention in the markets is so perilous.

The main driver is: There’s no real economic underpinning such as job creation, goods and services free-flowing, or market expansions from a GDP expansion. No, what is taking place currently is with all this money pumping, the GDP and other economic benchmarks are contracting. Even Wall Street itself is contracting. And they are the ones getting the money!

So here’s a quick example I used to give perspective. This is not – I repeat – not an endorsement of what I believe we should be spending our money on. It’s just an analogy so one could wrap their heads around the differing circumstances. For if we are talking BIG numbers, you’re going to need BIG things to represent them.

Just talk about military spending and you will get people lining up as if they themselves are going to battle. One side will say we need less spending, the other will say we need more. Again, both sides will be passionate on their beliefs. Many of the reasoning’s will be sound, both for and against. “We need this or, we need that!” Butted against the opposing, “We need to reduce or eliminate this or that!”

All the arguments for or against will be buttressed around the argument of money. One way or another. And that’s a fair point however, let’s put a little perspective here as to get everyone on the same page when it comes to exactly how much money the Federal Reserve is printing and pushing into the financial markets with little to nothing more than an inflated asset class along with no economic activity to support it.

Bring up the subject whether they should or shouldn’t stop or taper and people seem to have no problem with spending or printing the $85 Billion month after month if that’s what it takes. Regardless if they understand what $85 Billion represents or not in any other form. It’s a fools way to look at it in my opinion. So here’s some perspective using items procured through the military.

If the Federal Reserve only cut their quantitative easing (QE) this month from $85 Billion to say $75 Billion. That cut would represent approximately the equivalent of building – FIVE – B2 Stealth Bombers. That’s per month. And that’s the reduction! Currently the Fed. is printing and pushing money into the markets as if we ordered (wait for it….) FORTY TWO brand spanking new B-2 Stealth Bombers – per month!

Let’s not forget Congress cut the building of the B-2 at a little over 25 planes down from the original 100 or so first envisioned because of costs. The Fed. today injects into the markets monthly the monetary equivalent to purchase double the existing force again – every month.

Want a better representation? In just 1 year, again just one year, the Federal Reserve has pumped enough money into the markets to have purchased, (Again, wait for it...) FIVE HUNDRED and TEN new B2’s. Remember – we now have somewhere in the mid 20’s. (I used 2 billion for each plane since that’s in line where they were when first ordered, however at that pace would a discount be in order? Just sayin’)

So again to make it clear – that’s just one year in planes. What would it be if we used say the most expensive and technological marvels on the planet? The Nimitz Class Nuclear Powered Aircraft Carrier.

Currently they have an approximate price tag of around $13 to $14 Billion dollars each. Based on the above math QE pumps into the markets the equivalent of purchasing SIX brand new state of the art Nimitz Class Aircraft Carriers – per month!

In just one year the same amount of QE dollars would purchase SEVENTY TWO. Again for a little perspective our current navy stands at around 19 commissioned ships. That’s both old as well as new combined. Once again in just one year, we could replace and expand our entire aircraft carrier fleet with the newest and greatest available nearly 4 times over.

Let’s just throw one more technological marvel in for the fun of it. One of my absolute favorite marvels the world has created. The submarine. Using today’s most advanced example aka “Boomers” or Ohio class. You could build approximately TEN per month at the pace the Fed. is injecting money.

At only $6 to $8 billion a piece that means in one year you could build nearly One Hundred and Twenty brand spanking new technological marvels. Again – in just one year. I believe that would replace all existing vessels also by multiple folds.

Now let me reiterate what I just outlined here again as to get some perspective on not only the dollar amounts but, what those dollar amounts truly entail.

In just 3 years the Federal Reserve has pushed into the financial markets via the QE programs the equivalent in dollar amounts to have purchased 510 B-2 Stealth Bombers, 72 Nimitz Class Air Craft Carriers, 120 Ohio Class Submarines. and I still have nearly 2 more years of money to appropriate where ever or for what ever I desire. i.e., Two TRILLION is still in my pocket left to spend. QE and its equivalents are now nearing 5 years.

I still have plenty left to buy the aircraft, to man them or, the missiles to outfit them. Heck, that’s just if I stop here. So far there is no indication the Fed. is going to stop and there’s also talk that the new Chairperson might be inclined to spend more!

Maybe we should add a few M1 Abrams tanks just for the fun of it. They’re about $7 Million a piece so we can get Oh let’s say TWELVE  THOUSAND a month. Yes that’s 12,000 per month or One Hundred Forty Four Thousand (let that number sink in – 144,000) in a year. Sounds like a bargain when I state it that way doesn’t it? And I would still have a Trillion left if they stopped printing today.

But here’s the real crux of this argument and why I stated it as such. Sure it’s a little hyperbole and the math is not exact. We would never do now nor would anyone ever approve of such a plan. However, think of where GDP and the economic output as to where it would be today as to employ the talent needed to build those marvels. The engineers, the skilled labor, the steel, the copper, the mechanized equipment, the hotels, restaurants, and more to feed those that just supply the day labor, never mind the industrial backbone of supply that would be needed and more.

If one thinks there is a spin-off in trickle up or down money in housing or cars – just think about the economic impact building one of these marvels entails. At the above run rate you probably couldn’t have an unemployment issue. The impact would be far too great across far too many industries. Yet…

The best the Fed. can now show for all it’s pushing of free money into the financial markets is a ball of string it can’t even get the cat to play with. And that’s why all of this is so dangerous to everyone in the end. Because even the cat knows chasing this piece of string is a fool’s errand.

What is indisputable is what would be taking place in this economy in terms of real sustainable growth if that same equivalent of money was transpiring because of real economic principles.

The only thing transpiring currently is “free money” is now flowing into bank coffers and buying up risky assets while having adverse effects as to the velocity of money. All while seeming to be leading us into further and further out into more treacherous waters.

All without the ships and planes to rescue us when we’ll need them most.

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr

Giving Thanks By Remembering

Now that the holiday is past I thought I would share with you something I was remembering and giving thanks for. It’s been a private reflection over the years yet, I’ll be incorporating it into my next book. So in some ways it will go from private to public regardless.

This story will be in the chapter,“You think you’ve been screwed?” Yes, I have enough stories from first hand experience to not only fill a chapter but rather, may be enough for an entire book. However, here’s one but, it’s rather important as well as a useful reflective for me.

This story and why I remember it often is because of a person that helped me when no one else would or could during a very turbulent time in my life. His name was Dave. There is far more to this story however I thought this was appropriate to share because so many think the road to the top of the mountain isn’t fraught with perils. As if people like myself or others were just “lucky.” Trust me, there were times where it seemed, if not for bad luck – there was no luck at all. On a side note Dave passed away a few years ago from heart disease. We were basically the same age. So it puts a lot of things into even more perspective for me when I reflect. So as I was saying, from the chapter noted above…

Early in my career I had hit my stride after overcoming some difficulties. I seemed to be firing on all cylinders. I was single, owned property, sold a business that was my first leverage buyout, and returned to a company I basically grew up in where everyone seemed to be my adopted family. I felt for lack of better words: “Home and on top of the world.”

I had multiple new cars, every status symbol credit card available, (with little to no balances) and life seemed to be mine for the taking. Then – The savings and loan debacle manifested and everything changed for everyone in a heartbeat.

To make a long story short the people who bought my business (that were renting my building) went belly up and closed without notice. The company I went back to work for went belly up and closed. Again, without notice. Local businesses that had been around for decades were closing as if a plague had hit the area. If you needed or wanted work in the field I had been a rising star in, that universe was being swallowed into some black hole never to emerge from again.

During all this turmoil, right smack dab in the middle of it, I met my wife. When we met I had 3 new cars parked in my driveway. A sports car, sport touring, and sedan. The town I lived in was and still is considered a wealthy city. During our courtship she thought that I was rich. (“Rich” is a relative term but, it’s fair to say I was doing very well.) Little did we know less than 12 months later – I would lose everything. And I mean everything!

I went from top of the world to bottom of the barrel when I had to leave the keys in my cars so the repo-truck didn’t need to break the windows or ignition when they came for them. (It was all voluntary and discussed with the banks, I didn’t hide like those on some reality TV show.)

I lost everything, my phone was disconnected and more. I went from deciding which car I was going to use that night – to riding a borrowed 10 speed bicycle. I had to pedal down to a pay phone downtown to call my then girlfriend of about 6 months (now my wife) to see if she was home. (there were no cell phones then like today) Then ride 3 towns over in the middle of winter.

Remind you, this is winter as in January, February in New England with temperatures in the below zero category. Where 6 to 8 inch snowfalls are the norm near weekly. At the same time this bicycle is not some mountain bike. Rather it’s a road bike with the absolute skinniest of tires made for fair weather racing. All this and I’m far from being some kid on a bike at this time. I’m 30.

During this very brief time I’m doing anything and everything to gain employment. However, every job and more I seemed to acquire was met with disappointment. One after another things seemed to go from bad to worse. Till suddenly I thought I finally was catching a break.

I was moving and moving fast, seeking opportunities where ever I could. Then I met someone I vaguely knew however, he was the older brother of two others I knew very well. The three were now partners in a growing local business. I knew his brothers very well and we discussed how things were going for them at their new location. He was excited because they recently took over a larger building and seemed to really be growing.

During our discussion he realized who I was from discussions with his brothers. (I was at one time a supplier to them.) After picking my brain for a few hours he asked if I was happy where I was currently working. At the time I wasn’t where I wanted to be so I said as much. He then said, “What would it take for you to come work for us?” I was a little taken back but then we entered into a discussion of what I could offer, ways of helping them grow, and what type of compensation package that would entail. “Fantastic!” he said. “We could use you. You’re exactly who we need to help take us to the next level.” 

With this taking place in an informal setting I asked if he needed to go over this with his brothers? He said he would and invited me down to view the new facility the next day. And so I went.

The next day I arrived and met both him and his brothers. The meeting was casual and cordial. We all made small talk then he took me off to view the facility leaving the others to go about their own business. Later we went into his office where we began discussing what we had previously talked about.

We went back and forth till I finally hit the point straight: “So, are you offering me a position here based on this criteria?” He said, “Absolutely!” I reiterated every detail: Salary, commission, quota, territory, expectations. etc. Not leaving one detail out without a confirming yes to the question.

Then I wrote every detail as we were speaking making sure that I was doing it visibly so to push the point if it was said by either of us an expectation of payment or fulfillment was in order. There are times where a “contract” can’t or won’t be offered. This was one of those times. And besides, I knew everyone here pretty well and this was about a job not a business deal. So I felt as confident as one could and stated I would give my current employer 2 weeks and start the following Monday if that was acceptable. He said, “Great! Welcome aboard, we’ll see you then!” And off I went.

The time goes by and that Monday I show up at the facility early and ready to go. When I arrive it’s very early and only one of the brothers is in the office at this time. I know him rather well and as I walk into the main office, he’s currently on the phone retrieving messages left from the overnight service. He looks up, sees me, and acknowledges me with a wave. I wave back and find a seat.

For near 30 minutes I sit as he finishes the call then begins in answering the now incoming orders customers are now phoning in. I just sit and stare around the office. After about another 15 minutes there’s a break in the calls and he turns to me and asks, “Sorry about that Mark. What can I do for you?”

I said, “Well I’m not exactly sure where you want me to go or, what to start with. So just point me in any direction or, I’ll just wait till you have more time.” He looks at me with a blank expression and says. “Huh? What are you talking about?” I respond with, “Remember? I start work today. Two weeks went by pretty quick right?” Again, a blank stare followed with, “What in the world are you talking about?” My heart begins beating faster than I ever remember for I know somethings wrong with this picture.

I reiterate my discussions and dealings with his brother. I state every word, every interaction to no avail. He doesn’t know of anything I’m talking about. He’s also being honest. Reason? Well, when I did come to the office and talked and toured, the actual discussion or topic of me coming to work there never came up. It was assumed on my part they had been filled in because his brother said he needed to before any finalization would be made. I was under the impression since I was asked to come down after we had discussed the idea, I wouldn’t have been asked to come down if there was nothing more too it.

It just had all the appearance that it had. And with everyone knowing each other it was easy for me to assume they knew why I was there just as it was easy for them to assume I was there just to “see” their new facility on recommendations from their brother. And then the laughs just keep coming…

I then ask where’s his brother? He said he’ll be in a bit later but, (and it’s a very big but) wanted me to know that I was not starting there on this day. I feel absolute panic throughout my body at this moment in time mixed with frustration, and downright anger. I can barely keep my composure. I’m furious. Then the second brother comes in. As I approach him the other puts down the phone and shouts across the office, “Do know anything about Mark coming to work here?” Same expression and words as the first brother came out. “Huh?”

I sit him down and go over everything once again as I did the first. The response? “Geez, that’s crazy. He never said a word about this. That should have never happened. But, (and again a very big but) there’s nothing I can do for you. Sorry.” And basically signaled the discussion was over.

I am in full panic mode at this point. I just left a job, albeit one I didn’t truly care for but, one that I was grateful for having because I needed it. I was just working myself back up from a bicycle to owning a car. It was a junker but it was something. However the worst part – I would not be taken back. My former employer was not the forgiving kind. No matter how good I might have been.

In full brain scrambling mode I ask, “Where’s your brother?” They say he’ll be in any minute and I plead, “Can we at least wait till he gets here so we all can find out what is happening here?” They agree yet insinuate that it wont change things. Again, I can barely stop myself from shaking I’m so frustrated. Then, in he comes.

He reacts to my being there as, “Hey, good to see you!” And I unleash. I sit him down along with his 2 other brothers and go step by step, line by line, promise by promise, along with all the terms requisites and others agreed to. At every single point I ask, “Did you say that?” Or, “Did you agree to that?” And at every one he nods and says, “Yes.” As he does I look at the other two brothers with a look of; “See, I told you.” Then move on to the next point.

At the end of this interrogation I turn to the other two brothers and ask, “So now what?” They look at each other, then look at the other brother and say, “Sorry, he shouldn’t have said or promised you that. However, that doesn’t change things. We not having you come aboard. We’re not ready for someone like you yet. Again, sorry.” And that was it.

Just when I thought things were going my way they went south in a hurry. What in the world was I going to do now? I was in full panic and desperation mode. Getting kicked in teeth would have felt sweeter than a kiss compared to what I was feeling a that moment. I just can not describe the sinking vortex I felt caught in. I went from thinking I acquired a great job to feeling I had more in line with the biblical Job. It was a perilous time for me.

Then a few weeks later I ran into the person I named earlier. Dave knew these brothers very well himself. He also understood my predicament. Dave himself owned a business but his was very small. A mere 3 person outfit. Yet, Dave gave me a job. We both knew in our heart of hearts it wasn’t going to work. What he was doing was not of a sufficient size to handle what would be needed to keep me but it was worth a shot for him. And besides, I needed the work, and I was grateful. So we tried,

It didn’t work however, that short period of time that Dave allowed to give it a chance saved me. For if he hadn’t at least given it a chance, I have no idea where I might be today. As I reflect it’s not that far removed to think I just might not have made or held on long enough for my next break had he not given me that opportunity.

David was one of those people you meet in life whom are more along the lines of a business acquaintance than a friend. Yet, from out of nowhere seem to offer or give you help, or something more when you most need it – your most trying of times. Times where it seems every friend or family member in the world has forgotten who you are or would rather not know who you are.

For as much as I have made and done in my life, without the helping hand that Dave offered at that critical time in my life, I believe it’s safe to say I probably wouldn’t be where I am today. He was that important at such a critical time for me.

So I say with all humbleness: I remember, and I’m thankful I had the opportunity to meet him while he was here.

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr

A Tip On Tipping

We were at a restaurant when the subject of tipping came up. i.e., How much, why, and so forth. I was quite struck with some of the answers and the reasoning behind them. So much so I was compelled to offer my views where if one were in doubt, one could follow these guidelines where you’d never feel or, allowed to appear “cheap.”

First: Waiters, waitresses, bartenders, and such work for tips. Their pay is based on a low set wage, while having the ability to increase those wages by earning tips, from you, as a performance based wage. They know that going in (as in taking the job) as well as anyone that considers themselves an adult knows this also (as in anyone going out to eat or drink). Leaving no tip under the guise of, “I don’t tip – they already get paid.” is an excuse to hide the fact either you’re just cheap or, you have never had the social dining or other public etiquette explained properly. Sorry if I offend anyone but, it’s the truth.

A tip of 15% has become the accepted norm. What does this really mean? Well I use this as a judgement: If the person has done their job in an acceptable manner, acceptable being just that, polite, maybe an occasional smile, tried to get your request done properly (as in you knew they were at least trying), a 15% tip should be left without hesitation. That fulfills a basic (though unspoken) understood social etiquette.

Never deduct for something uncontrolled by the server. (poorly cooked food, etc.) It’s not their fault. Many times there is no way even they can tell if somethings wrong till after it has been cut into or tasted.

If you’ve been served in an acceptable manner and the person shows they are going above and beyond you go up from there. Great smile, brings bread, wine, or tops off something without asking or bothering you during discussions or dining – you move up to 20-25%. Again, without hesitation. Over that is totally a judgement call. If you were served by someone who belongs in the “Hall of Fame” category, leave what makes you happy. Then tell all your friends to go there and request “them.” That is worth far more than any single tip.

If you’re going out on a 2 for 1 type special, as to try a new venue or something other, use the savings to increase the tip. Don’t use the now low total of the check to run your % calculation. Why? Because when you’re doing this, you’re really taking advantage of that server. They are still doing as much work as before only now they are getting squeezed.

Here’s a simple formula you should employ:
Let’s say you get a 2 for 1 special. If each plate was valued at $10.00 then normally your bill would be $20.00 plus a 15% gratuity equaling $3.00 for a total of $23.00. What you should do when the bill arrives is pay the $10.00 for the 2 for 1 however, split the cost savings of the free plate in half and leave that for the server.i.e., Instead of a $3.00 you would now leave $5.00 for a total cost of $15.00 saving you $8.00 off the original yet increasing your tip to the server by nearly 40%. Why would you do that you ask? Well…

When anyplace runs a special like that usually, it does exactly what the establishment wanted. It gets more people in yet the servers work just as hard if not harder in handling the increase in traffic. If the person serving me has done an adequate job or better I use the savings I’m benefiting from and compensate them a little more. It turns out in the end to be a win-win because, there is nothing worse than going into a place that accepts a coupon for anything and having an over worked server that knows they’re working twice as hard for half the tips because people are tipping based on the $10.00 check other than the $20.00 of value they received. i.e. a 15% tip that now equals $1.50.

Just don’t be miserly in your thinking when it comes to tipping. Believe it or not it hinders your own self-worth. Get away from a poverty mindset and think in terms of affluence. If you feel the need you have to break out a calculator to figure out what to tip you’re not thinking squarely. When in doubt leave extra. You’ll feel better about yourself, because after all…

Isn’t that why you treated yourself out in the first place?

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr