Monday, May 31, 2010

Business lessons from Pawn Stars

From time to time I like to watch Pawn Stars on the History Channel. After watching a few episodes, a couple of clear business lessons emerge:

When in doubt, call in the expert

Every episode has the staff relying on the expertise of outsiders. Given the variety of objects they handle its impossible for any one person to know everything they need to know to make good decisions on a consistent basis. Takeaway from this that as your responsibilities increase in breadth and depth, get good people and rely on their expertise.

Let the other guy reveal his expectations first

Every job hunter has been told not to initiate the salary discussion. You don't want to leave money on the table, and you just might pay more or receive less if you break first. The Pawn Stars always ask, "So, what are you looking to get from this?"

Never take the first offer

You have the money. Someone wants the money. Chances are pretty good they want to get your money way than you want what they're selling. Use that. Find out just how badly they want or need your money by bargaining hard.

A good deal is a profitable deal - for you

For all the "training" we receive as business professionals about "yes-yes" deals, it's great when that can happen, but it doesn't NEED to happen. You're in business to make a profit, and there's nothing shameful about it. If you can't make a profit on the deal, deliver the news in a straightforward way and if the other party can't help you get to "YES", walk away.

Don't forget your manners

When these guys can't make a good deal, they shake the other party's hand, thank them, and part on friendly terms. Just because this deal didn't work, you never know if they'll come back tomorrow with a better deal. Or maybe they just have second thoughts and come back to you because you treated them with respect. No need to be a dick.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

My first-dibs-on-bestselling-books-at-the-library strategy

I love thriller, adventure, and mystery novels, and I don't like paying for them, so here is what I do to get to the top of the library's "Hold" list. Like everything else in life, it involves preparation, research, and an occasional sneaky-trick:

They track an awesome number of authors, including every popular current author you can think of, so you'll always know in advance of the publishing date for new books. I bet Amazon has a similar feature tied into their "recommendations" feature that will do the same. I don't know if it pushes you the recommendations, though. But, I love that SYKM publishes 2 newsletters/month - not too many, not too few... just right...

Get a library card


Nearly every library system of any substance has the ability to place holds on books over the internet

Policies on newly-published books may vary, but I've done this with three different systems and the only restriction was shorter borrowing time than standard checkouts. Many libraries use library software systems and already have catalog records established well in advance of publication dates. Read your newsletter, place holds on all the new books of interest.

You don't have to be the first hold, just in the first batch of holds

By the time the publication date rolls around, your hold has probably been queued for several months. Most libraries, when they see demand for a book in the form of a long queue, will buy additional copies. Once you've placed your hold, don't hesitate to suggest the same to friends, family, and your book club - generate demand so the library buys more books.

Don't forget to check the large-print holdings!

If the occasional title slips past you until its too late to get first dibs, or you discover an author that is new to you and you want to catch up on his or her past books and there are lengthy queues, check to see if there are large-print editions available (save the flame-comments and emails, AARP and vision-impaired: if there were a heavy demand for large-print books, it wouldn't be so easy to get them). Seriously, it works. Just a little nugget I learned from my sister-in-law librarian.

Enjoy your next book!