The Hustler’s Handbook – Lessons Learned From Mr. Lee
One interaction with him is all it takes. It’s something you’ll remember for life!
He understands what it means to be larger than life, and in some respects he could be considered a celebrity.
I don’t know exactly when my first interaction with him occurred, but it had to be close to 10 years ago.
He’s not an overpowering figure. He’s actually stands somewhere just over 5′ tall and can’t weigh more than 100 lbs. But this doesn’t diminish his ability to get, and command, the attention of all who are in sight.
Over the years, I’ve gotten to know him – probably as well as any of his “audience” has. And I’ve learned a lot from him, by observing what he says, what he does, and the way in which he goes about doing it.
Please allow me to introduce you to Mr. Lee.
The first time I saw Mr. Lee he was wearing a police badge, talking into his watch, while attempting to direct traffic. It was a sight to be seen for sure – especially considering he’s in no way associated with any law enforcement department.
Depending on the day – and his mood – the first words he says to you may vary….
The last words he says to you have been (and I suspect will always be), “You got any spare change?”
You see, Mr. Lee is a hustler. His mission is to solicit money from people… and from all appearances he appears to be very successful at it.
After 10 years of watching Mr. Lee in action, I’ve been amazed to observe his business acumen. I’d like to share a few fundamentals I’ve learned from watching Mr. Lee:
Don’t Scare Your Prospects
Think about the times you’ve been approached and asked for money. The person approaching you probably intimidated you, and honestly, probably scared you a little. Well, Mr. Lee is really good at minimizing the fear his prospects could face.
He always dresses well. Mr. Lee usually wears a suit. Sure, he likes to accessorize it in ways that most people wouldn’t – like wearing a sombrero, or some other ridiculous hat. His small physical stature also helps prevent him from scaring people.
It’s All About the Approach
Mr. Lee is a master at disarming people while he is approaching them. He’s great at using “ice breakers” – which he will vary based on whom he is approaching. He understands that people who like (and know) you are more willing to do business with you (or in his case – give him money).
If you’ve ever been asked for money from someone, they likely attempted to use a story to try and convince you to give to them. Usually something similar to: “My mother is in the hospital in X city, and I’m on my way from Y city to go see her… and my car ran out of gas… and I don’t have any money. Could you spare a few dollars?”
I’ve never once heard Mr. Lee use any of the common “asking for money” stories. After his “ice breaker” he’ll then simply ask, “You got any spare change?” No stories. No lies. He simply “asks for the order.”
If you give Mr. Lee any money, regardless of how little, he lets you know that he’s thankful. He verbally acknowledges your gift with a “Thank you,” and he also acknowledges your gift with his eyes. Even if you only give him a few cents, he’ll open his hand with the money and look down in wide-eyed amazement at your gift.
Even if you don’t give Mr. Lee any money, he still thanks you. He understands what Dale Carnegie taught – “People will forget what you say; they’ll even forget what you do, but they’ll NEVER forget how you made them feel.” Mr. Lee doesn’t make you feel badly for not giving him money, and I suspect it has something to do with the next lesson:
Mr. Lee is consistent. Almost every day, at almost the exact same time, Mr. Lee comes by to ask for money.
Depending on the day and his mood, you may find Mr. Lee doing any of the following: singing, dancing, arguing with himself, “reading” a magazine upside down, directing traffic, scribbling in his notebook, playing a guitar (not just any guitar, but a guitar with only 3 strings).
Mr. Lee is smart; he knows if his prospects are bored they’ll simply ignore him. By getting people to watch and laugh, he breaks the ice and warms the prospects up for his most important question… “You got any spare change on you?”
There are business lessons all around you to be learned. I’ve been privileged for the past 10 years to watch one of the true masters of hustling change from people. I’ve watched. I’ve made notes. I’ve implemented. And my life is better because of Mr. Lee.
What unexpected people and places can you observe and learn from? Leave a comment and share the most unusual place you’ve learned a business lesson.
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