I recently completed a busy week in Redmond, Washington where I was training some Microsoft employees on Applying Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 Core Features. I wrapped up the training around 3 PM on Friday afternoon and my flight didn’t leave out until 10:45 PM, so I had 5 or 6 hours to experience Seattle.
I visited the Space Needle and decided that I ought to visit the Pike Street Fish Market. When I worked for Allegacy, the FISH! philosophy was a major part of the organization’s culture. The general concept was that if these guys could enjoy selling fish then we ought to be able to enjoy helping people make smart financial choices.
When I arrived at the Pike Street Market area, I started looking for a parking space and wasn’t having any luck. A homeless looking man was directing me into an empty spot. I thought that was very nice of him. I expected that he would pounce on me–asking for a handout–as soon as I exited my vehicle. I was mistaken.
I got out without encountering the man, and walked over to the machine to pay for my parking. I was reading the instructions when this same man walked over and started explaining how the machine worked and what I needed to do. He also told me that since it was already 4:30 PM I didn’t need to pay for more than an hour-and-a-half since parking was free after 6 PM. I thanked him for his help and he very politely asked me if I could make a donation to help him out. Because he had provided a service to me, I was glad to give him a couple bucks. He had saved me at least $1.50 and it was certainly worth another 50-cents to not have to spend 5-minutes of my time trying to figure out how to use the machine.
I started walking to where I thought I needed to go and realized that I wasn’t quite sure. I walked back to this gentleman and told him I was looking for the place where they throw the fish. He pointed me towards a long flight of stairs and then told me that I would find an elevator at the top. I could then take the elevator up and that I would find the fish market area at the top. This probably saved me many more minutes of wandering around aimlessly, and a lot of anxiety. I handed the man another dollar for his service.
I tyipcally don’t give “street people” money because I realize that money isn’t the solution to their problem–their lack of money is typically a result of other problems that the ones I’ve encountered usually don’t want to be helped with. But this man wasn’t like that. He may have dressed like a street person and smelled like a street person, but he was an entrepeneur. He realized that he had some intellectual property that had value, and he shared that intellectual property for free. He seemed like he earnestly wanted to help me. Although he did ask for a donation, he was very polite, and I can’t help but think that even if I had refused he would have wished me an enjoyable afternoon.
I encounter so many people that are unhappy in their current employment situation, but believe that there is only one way for them to generate income–they either stick in that way, or generate no income at all. There are so many ways to generate income that there is no reason for anyone to be doing something that they don’t enjoy or to not be generating income at all. God has given all of us gifts and talents that can be used to generate income. This man is a shining example of that. Let’s look at what he did:
- He identified what he had to offer. This man had knowledge about available parking spaces, knowledge about how the parking ticket machines worked, and knowledge about where things were located in the Pike St. Market area. It may not sound like much to some people, but it doesn’t take a lot. Everyone knows something that other people need to know, or knows how to do something that other people want to know how to do.
- He identified a target consumer. He found people looking for parking spaces. Sure I could have found a parking space on my own, but he saved me some valuable time. Just because you don’t see value in what you know, or what you know how to do, doesn’t mean that others won’t see value in it.
- He wasn’t afraid to get out there and peddle his wares. He didn’t seem like he was out to make money–he seemed like he was out to help people. This goes a long way in helping us overcome our fear of sales. There is some way that you can use your knowledge and skills to help people. And when you do, they’ll likely compensate you for it.
So, if you feel stuck in a job you don’t like, or are just wanting a way to add a little extra income to what you have already, you can follow the same steps that this man did:
- Ask yourself, what do I know, or what can I do that others might want?
- Ask yourself, who is one person that might want that knowledge or skill?
- Make contact with that person and help them.
I’d love to hear your comments!