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Wow, check out this guy's comment
233 points by jmtame 3272 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 101 comments
I wrote a short blog about Mark Cuban and his journey to becoming a billionaire. Not surprisingly, he was motivated by money. I always have disliked money as a source of motivation, I still do. Tonight at dinner I was caught off guard when my brother and both parents said "well of course everyone is driven by money... you mean you thought they were driven by something else?" Regardless, a guy came to my blog and posted a comment that I found inspirational:

---

This is the first time I have read a blog and of course the first post of any kind. As a 36 year old plumber I have been fired from every plumbing company I have ever worked for. All of them fired me after about a year. The reasons have all been the same, they asked my opinion about their problems and I told them the truth. It seems every company always has some sort of problems they deal with but never know the answers. The last job I had was running a new hospital project and after 9 months I was asked by management to get rid of half the plumbers and replace them with non-plumbers to drive down cost.

The short story is I said no way, it’s illegal and I want no part of it. I then said if they go over my head I will turn them in to the state dept. of health. Well, I was fired….With the economy the way it is no jobs are available. So with a family of 4 and a new house and $300 in checking I started my own plumbing company. Anyone who cares to listen here is what I have to say. Weeks went by with no customers calling and I didn’t know what to do.

We were out of money and my wife gave me a choice of getting a wal-mart type job or get out. That night I freaked out and was up all hours of the night just thinking and thinking. Then it came to me. My problem was simple, I was going about this backwards. Money is a stupid motivator, customers are the real motivator. So here is what I did. I went to a printer and had them print up a 1000 $50.00 gift cards on heavy paper stock all of them with code numbers. The next thing I did was go door to door and meet people one at a time. Ya, it was crazy at first but the people were blown away, they loved it. As of right now I am the number one plumber in a town of about 40,000 people and am looking to hire another plumber.

So whats the secret? Give people what they want. All these years I was right, most people let money motivate them and that creates poor decision making. I let the customer decide. The economy is tough so just give the customers what they want, money. People were so blown away they thought it was a joke. Think about it for a moment, have you ever heard of a business come to your door, shake your hand, and while looking in there eyes tell them you would like to earn the business and by they way here is a fifty dollar gift card that can be used anytime for any plumbing service they need.

When it’s all said and done I wished I would have done this years ago. I enjoyed the article about Mark Cuban but I think money is just a poor motivator, money is the result of good business practice. My wife by the way thought it was crazy to give $50 to everyone I meet, she was wrong, but now she is my biggest fan. That $50 is nothing when you consider a customer spends thousands during the course of a life time, not to mention they spread word of mouth business like fire. Mike




A very nice story. I think, however, he overlooks the power of humanity in his story. It's not down to that $50 voucher. It's because he became a real person to the people he visited - a local guy, someone they'd seen in real life. It really seems all down to pressing the flesh. The other points don't make any logical sense, for example:

All these years I was right, most people let money motivate them and that creates poor decision making. I let the customer decide. The economy is tough so just give the customers what they want, money.

If it were really about him giving them "money" (a discount voucher isn't money, but we'll ignore that) and money creates poor decision making, then choosing him based on that offer is poor decision making.


It's really a combination of pyschological effects. The effect of FREE, whereby they are getting something that no one else was giving them. Also, the act of giving triggers a response of obligation on the part of the recipient. His presence there is a big deal in enhancing that effect.

I also think there is something to be said for meeting the person that's going to be doing the work. People make more confident assessments when they meet someone in person. It's certainly better than picking names of companies out of the phone book, or internet yellow pages, based on how "plumbing competent" their names sound.

As far as future prospects, the job is nominally scalable, and he can hire assistants to do the work. But he might be a terrible manager.

What I would do next is go to the places where all of the shoddy work was done and market there. There's probably a lot of work to be had fixing up that hospital.

If the plumber was a Chinese manufacturer, would we accuse him of "dumping"?


If it were really about him giving them "money" ... and money creates poor decision making, then choosing him based on that offer is poor decision making.

Yes, but it is well-known that customers make illogical decisions. Recognising that a user interface that's strictly logical may, for illogical reasons, be less usable than one that panders to the user's "irrationality" is a good business decision. Basing your business decisions around the recognition that people make apparently random choices is a Good Thing(tm).

You say that the humanity has been overlooked, but choosing someone because you've looked them in the eye and pressed the flesh is less logical than choosing someone based on their references and an objective evaluation of their work.

Any business that overlooks the human factor, including customers' potentially irrational/illogical decision making processes, does so at its peril.


How do you do an objective evaluation of a plumbers work? Most plumbing work that needs to be done is pretty small. I call the guy. Talk to him, if I like the attitude he gets to do a job. If he is good he gets a second bigger job. Evaluating based on references would only work for me if I had a big job to get done. But for small jobs, the $50 voucher and a small job from the guy who came and said "hi" would pass my first test. He would get the small job, that leads to bigger jobs.


>Most plumbing work that needs to be done is pretty small. I call the guy. Talk to him, if I like the attitude he gets to do a job. If he is good he gets a second bigger job.

How do you arrange this short of sabotaging your plumbing after the first job? Major job are rare enough that I've never needed one in over a decade of living on my own, and in 3 different countries at that.


Agreed, it's the "look them in the eye, shake their hand, and tell them you want to earn their business" part that really gets them.

The $50 voucher is the thing that gives the future customer "permission" to follow up on their gut feeling of "Wow, I like being treated like a HUMAN BEING."


I really doubt this. I live in a neighborhood where people come by all the time. They don't offer $50 cards or really anything, they just drop off their business card. Which I usually just throw in the trash. Obviously your going to call someone if you have a $50 gift card with them.


I think it is the combination that does it. I have lots of "discount vouchers" for all sorts of things, which I never use. But I need a plumber and this guy would be it.


What serves this purpose with a web app? Is it a stock photo of a person? (Doubt it.) Some bit of humor that a corporate marketdroid would never write for fear of pissing off his boss? The developer blogs? MySpace or Twitter presence? I suspect that most of the time, most of these things don't succeed.

Perhaps this is part of the power behind "Viral Marketing" in the old days when its effectiveness wasn't diluted by so many trying the same thing.


A real, honest to goodness, here we are, this is my desk, good-and-bad blog?

I signed up with Dreamhost because I truly felt they would care - their site is very good at giving that impression. Their service was poor, so I left, but that's another story.


Twitter presence is a new thing, but it certainly helps.

In the past I've found having an IRC room or a forum to help. I've chosen hosting providers this way and it's worked out every time. If they can answer my question on their IRC channel and have a bunch of dedicated followers (dedicated enough to be sitting in their IRC channel anyway!) that's a really good sign.


It's my personal feeling that most people can tell the difference between "calculated humanity" and real humanity. Most businesses and startups go for calculated humanity because real humanity is something they either don't believe in as an aspect of business, or are afraid to show because omgz what if somebody says something the readers don't like?

Real humanity means being vulnerable and talking about negative stuff, and risking people not liking you. But the people who don't dislike you will like you more. It means being genuine, not just "authentic."

When I left my parents as a teen, I partially supported myself with a Mac news/opinion site. Everybody told me that there was no room for another one, blah blah, but I decided to write like a real (& funny) human being instead of pretending to be a professional journalist like the rest. I earned $600-1000 a month in ad impressions, so it clearly worked.

Same thing worked for my current web site & information products I've created. I'm totally famous in the niche, and I'm not the best or brightest with the actual programming aspect. But my oldest tutorial from 2005 still gets about 15,000 views a month.

When it comes to my new SaaS that I just launched, it's the same thing. The blog is "real humanity" and I answer support requests myself.


When I mowed lawns I got a lot of work, not by being the best at what I did, not by being the cheapest, but by being a person. I would get most of my customers by going door to door and knocking on doors where I saw people with high grass. In my area it was rare for a highschool/college kid to have a job at all, much less one requiring real effort. It also helped that I was the one doing the work, not a crew of people working for me.


> my wife gave me a choice of getting a wal-mart type job or get out

"...to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health to love and to cherish, from this day forward until death do us part."

It's reading things like this that make me appreciate my wife more than I already did. Get a 'walmart type job' or get out? My wife would _never_ say that to me, especially in such bad times. At the very least she'd suggest we _both_ get walmart jobs, not threaten to leave.

:/

How depressing.


Are you kidding? She helped him out big time. He was just sitting there hopelessly waiting for the phone to ring for a plumber, which wasn't going to happen, and she realized it. She gave him the motivation to at least try something, and she apparently didn't kick him out during the time it took to print out all those cards and pass them out.

Sometimes helping someone means a good swift kick in the ass. That lady is a hero.


As I get older, I am not sure if life is so simple anymore. Although I guess ultimately it boils down to this: women want to have children, and children cost money. The time in which women can have children is limited, so they can't sit around and wait for you to get a hold on life forever.


Fortunately for me there will be no children involved to cause this sort of problem.


People do many things in desperation.


Exactly - also - not sure how kicking him out would resolve their financial situation.

Sounds like things will just get worse for him again.


Yeah, fire the wife!! How come she says that instead of supporting you?? I guess she didn't contribute with anything to your success but probably swallows money like a shark.

But then you have 4 kids with her :(...you're kinda trapped there.


You're a lucky man.


Cuban was motivated by a love of business.

Before Broadcast.com, he sold garbage bags as a kid, gave disco lessons to sororities in college, threw parties as a quasi event planner, started a computer company (MicroSolutions) and ran a hedge fund. After Broadcast.com, he bought the Mavs, started HD Net, formed a charity (Fallen Patriot Fund), actively invests as an angel and cofounded numerous movie production & distribution companies.


So true. I love business and would do it even if I had to wait tables to do it, for free, in my spare time, with no chance of personal financial gain (but a nonzero chance of success). Just seeing businesses start and grow is reward enough, even if I don't make any money.


What really struck me about that story is how one great idea executed well can make the difference between bankruptcy and roaring success. It's something that I've seen first hand, and probably the reason why being stubborn is so important. If you don't give up you'll eventually stumble into a strategy that works - after exhausting all possible alternatives. :)


I hope to not be "that guy" but wasn't this plumber's ultimate motivation money? I mean he was out of it and needed it. He was willing to work at a loss(or lower profit) so he could get business. He innovated and won. If he had had customers immediately then is he suggesting that his motivation would've been the love of money? Given his track record of honesty I would guess not.


The reason this comment is so striking for HN is that most people here who would describe themselves as "motivated by money" don't foresee themselves having to do gruntwork such as door-to-door sales, giving the customer what will really appeal to them, to earn that money. They think that it will be easy and hassle-free, somehow.

It's like Puritan Work Ethic porn.

edit: Also, he passed over the easy money (e.g. violating his ethics/the law) which got him fired to begin with.


Reads like a completely made up story to me.

Nice, inspirational and all, but that was not written by a plumber after reading first ever blogpost in his life.


I tend to agree with you. I did get that "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" vibe from it, and that was a made up story.


The usual arguments against using money as motivation are that (a) money is not enough to keep you motivated during the "darkest of times" and (b) even if you get there the money will probably not make you happy.

But Mark Cuban _was_ motivated enough to take his company public. And Mark Cuban likes to make extravagant purchases (e.g. The Dallas Mavericks). In a nutshell - he seems to enjoy the billionaire's lifestyle. So money was probably the right motivational force for Cuban.


my wife gave me a choice of getting a wal-mart type job or get out.

Is it really this way in the US? As a foreigner I'm curious.


Despite what others here may have to say, we women are not a bunch of money grubbing whores. Thanks, HN, for downvoting the outrageous comments.

Here's a different view of what may have been going on: man has a family both he & his wife work full time to support. He cannot, for whatever reason, hang on to a job for more than a year at a time. This becomes frustrating to the other spouse, because they can't ever seem to get ahead of the bills, etc. He starts his own business, but can't get it off the ground. Meanwhile, she's working as hard as ever, is probably looking at getting a second job to support the family (a "walmart-type" job), and sees him puttering in the basement all day, every day. They have a fight, she's close to breaking & if anyone is going to get the crappy second job, it should be the guy hanging around the house with nothing to do all day.

That kind of stress will destroy a marriage. We're not talking about alimony or welfare queens, but ordinary middle class families that struggle to stay middle class.

Happy ending: he finally gets his business going.


Being freaked out was the final motivator to get him to really think up of something and act on it. She still stuck by him even though his solution seemed crazy to her. He would have had to pay for the 1000 heavy-stock paper from somewhere. Even if it costed $10.00, she must have been thinking that's another ten bucks that could have fed the kids.

It may have appeared that she gave up on him, but she obviously believed in him enough to give him another chance.

I think the story is awesome. I think the idea is great.


d, you're supposing an awful lot about how the situation might have been. Fact is, there are a lot of women out there who want what they think is the status quo: husband away during the day, providing plenty of money, newish car(s), family going out to eat once or twice a week, cable tv, buying whatever you want at the grocery store without regard for price, big X-mases, no stress about being able to pay bills, etc., and if hubby doesn't provide it, he's thought of as inadequate.

Yes, there are many women who are shortsighted and only realize after the divorce that life doesn't work the way they thought.

cousin_it, in the US, women have all the advantages when it comes to marriage. If they want a divorce, almost by default the legal system provides them with the kids, house, alimony, and child support.


Thing is, don't women somehow deserve it, too? Women are needed to bring children into the world, so men are competing to make women bring THEIR children into the world. If husband doesn't provide said benefits, woman is missing out because other men are probably waiting in line wanting to provide.


You guys are so literal... Out of all the interesting material in the guy's comment, why is everyone focused on the "get out" comment?

Chances are, it was an off-hand comment. It is similar to saying, "my wife would kill me if I forgot her birthday." Rest assured, if I forget, I do not need to worry about being stabbed to death in my sleep. I hope...


@cousin_it

I also grew up in Russia (25 years between Siberia and Moscow) and have lived in the US for the last 12 years. From my experience, the typical Russian attitude of moral superiority (Americans = materialistic, Russians = spiritual) could not be farther from the truth.

Perhaps I am reading into your comment a bit, but it seems to me that you were essentially trying to assert the above, even if you phrased your assertion as a question. Unless you are very, very young or very, very naive, I doubt that you were truly simply curious to find out whether every single woman in the entire country is a cold-hearted bitch who would kick her husband out when he can't find work, especially based on just one man's story.

If I am mistaken and your question was really a question, then the answer is no, it is not really "this way" in the US. Believe it or not, even in big bad America there are people who understand love and other human feelings, just like "foreigners".


I'm sorry. Of course similar things happen in Russia all the time. My comment was just a knee-jerk reaction to a phrase. At least it sparked an interesting discussion.


Maybe in some situations, but it would be a shitty situation as a walmart-type job does not provide enough income to live on. Some epithet towards the wife is probably appropriate.


A lot of people don't get this. When I was failing at running a small business in semi-rural Alabama, nearly everyone around me told me I should just get a job at walmart or a convenience store, even though that wouldn't have been enough to live on. For many people, a job seems to be something of a talisman, rather than a source of a certain amount of money.


This is true for me in semi-rural Ohio, too.


I'm in SW Ohio, you? I do not think there are many Ohioans on HN, and we ought to find each other!


Bowling Green


Waterville, visiting family. We should meet up.


a walmart-type job does not provide enough income to live on.

I lived off a job where I was paid minimum wage in a small town and did just fine. I worked at a army surplus / outdoor store.

I was able to go to college, travel the world (backpacking and hostels) and do a lot of rock climbing and hiking locally all with this job. This was in the late 90s. I lived with 3 or 4 other roommates and I had no TV, a computer that barely functioned (internet access was through the university and already paid for since I was a student) and a car that got good gas mileage back when no one cared about gas mileage. More often than not I took the bus or walked. Not necessarily because it was more affordable but because it was more convenient.

Here is the breakdown from what I remember. I made about 600 a month. Food and shelter was about 60% of my income. My car was about 10%. I cut almost all unnecessary expenses. I lived in an appropriate location. I gave up perceived necessities like a telephone and cable TV.

Yes, I lived in a community where it was pleasant to make minimum wage. We had a university, a bus system and very low cost of living. I know a number of people that still make minimum wage, or close to it. They have lived in a number of locations and have made it work, including higher cost of living locations.

I can imagine many scenarios where it would be difficult. 1) Kids or other dependents 2) A location with high cost of living 3) Taking on expenses that you can't afford 4) Requirements to drive without appropriate compensation (likely a small town rural situation from stories that I've heard). I was always told that the purpose of minimum wage was to provide an appropriate starting wage for people with little or no experience. From my perspective it was appropriate. It was never meant to be a wage to support a family or pay for a cell phone or car insurance. I agree it would be very difficult, or possibly impossible, to make minimum wage and support a family on a single minimum wage income. But then again that is not what minimum wage was intended for.


"a walmart-type job does not provide enough income to live on"

Sure it does. My ex-wife did it while supporting my step-daughter. Even had medical benefits for ~$20/month. She had to watch her spending and get a roommate, but she did it with zero .gov assistance (food stamps and the like).

While the unskilled jobs may not pay much, they pay more than nothing and will keep you fed and dry till you find something better.


There are enough cases when the man goes bankrupt and the wife is leaving him instead of supporting him until he recovers. But also there are cases when the wife is supporting the man until he gets on his feet...I've seen both.


I'm curious about what exactly "get out" means. Can anyone elaborate?


It sounds like his family was probably having money problems (they owed more than they had in the bank, or they weren't able to support their lifestyle).

In that context, perhaps his wife was threatening him to "get a stable job that provides us income, or else I'm doing to divorce and leave you."

A good movie to watch on the subject: "The Pursuit of Happyness" (2006)


Where are you from? I think it is like that for a lot of people in most of the world


"To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part."

I'm from Russia. Don't know about y'all, I wouldn't want to marry someone with a different attitude.


I agree, neither would I.

But you have to consider the other perspective; they have 2 kids to support and his business hasn't received any custom for weeks. I think the statement "get a job or leave" is more of a generic "something has to change" statement not something completely literal.


Those words should never leave her mouth - only the worst of relationships involve threats of one side leaving. You either hang in there or you split, threats to get things done don't do any good, and are indicative of a very, very wrong relationship.

I would've had said "get a job or get some business, your choice". The concept of divorce should never be hung over anyone's head to spur them to action.


That's ridiculous: you're saying that either she puts up with a bad situation, or she leaves. What she did was basically say that she wanted a change. Doesn't matter whether or not those were her exact words: people say things they don't really mean when angry or frustrated and in this situation I'm sure she was both.

It's a pretty fair bet that the statement "get a job or get out" wasn't the first thing she said about the situation! And in any case we only have his version of what happened.


Perhaps she can get a walmart job.


I wanted to comment on cultural differences, though via brief googling I found out that US and Russia have actually very similar divorce rates. In both countries almost half marriages fail. Interesting.

http://www.divorcemag.com/statistics/statsWorld.shtml


@bd

Just wanted to mention something that you may not be aware of. In most russian cities, housing stock is in very short supply (thanks to the legacy of centralized city planning) and people often stay together because otherwise they would have nowhere to live. I believe this skews the statistic in favor of the US, i.e. I believe that the russian divorce rates would be even higher if more people were able to live separately.


The rates also don't capture the cultral differences n the realm of dating and marriage. A south-Asian country that features pre-arranged marriages might have a lower divorce rate but it won't mean the people are any happier.


Then it is even more surprising, at least for me. I had Russia associated with strong families, people sticking together and so on.

And it doesn't even seem to be a recent phenomenon. It looks like already in 1970s divorce rate in Russia was very high (40%):

"Even in Communist times, the unhappiness of Russian families was hard to hide. The divorce rate in the 1970s was 40 percent; now it is 51 percent. In the past, sociologists blamed Soviet life, its regimentation, oppression, and lack of individual freedom, for men’s alcoholism and apathy to work and family. Today, the major factor appears to be an economic free fall that humiliates men who cannot provide for their families, to the point where they just walk away with little social censure. An estimated 15 to 20 percent of all Russian families are now headed by a single parent, 94 percent of whom are women."

http://www2.hu-berlin.de/sexology/IES/russia.html


Hmm. It's kind of hard for me to reconcile those stats with my personal experience. Growing up in the 80's and 90's, there were hardly any divorced couples in Russia. A number close to half seems completely off. I have to question where they got their numbers... although the more current numbers are probably more on target.

What's also interesting though is who initiates divorce. I believe in the US, roughly 70% of divorces are initiated by women, while in Russia the opposite is true.


Ah yes, I also found this information when I was looking for historical divorce numbers. It indeed seems that there are structural differences considering marriages/coupling in US vs Russia.

From what I read, it looks like in US divorces are a way for people to try to find a better match. People shuffle themselves among marriages.

While in Russia, it looks like there are some men which leave behind them trail of divorced women (with children) that do not remarry. Thus there must be many men that never marry/reproduce. If this is true, it would be rather disturbing, as it would create unstable society.


I'm from Russia too. In my experience this "till death us do part" attitude changes to "get a lot of money or get out" pretty fast. Right after marriage. Women are women everywhere.


Dude, this is not a US thing. It is more an evolutionary thing. Men hunted, women raised the kids. If the man isn't hunting enough, the woman is going to find a better hunter. This is simply evolutionary anthropology. The pressure is on the male to "hunt", or to make money. This is not a good or a bad thing, it is just Darwinian reality. At the end of the day, I think there is really no such thing as "romance" or whatever, it is more just cooperation to help the genes survive, since we are after all gene carrying robots, nothing more or less, and I am serious, this is not sarcasm. We are here to serve the selfish gene. "Love" and "to death do us part" are quaint, deluded notions from the childhood of our race, much like the God delusion.


In the world where a non-hunting home-maker (ie. woman, as you posit) found a better hunter when the hunter she was with didn't do well, the hunters probably didn't feed the women when they stopped being useful. Hunters most certainly fucked everyone they possibly could, to maximize their gene transmission. Marriage prevents this. Hence the expectation that your SO sticks with you when the times are tough... Especially when the times are tough.

Even murders can be 'justified' by evolutionary biology but the court tends to put an end to further propagation of that gene :)


Being convinced one way or another about the situation is itself an exhibition of delusion, just as much as any other "God delusion." We are endowed with cognitive facilities that give us ideologies.

It could very well be a US thing (I am not asserting one case or another). It could also be a self fulfilling prophecy. Unlike most other gene carrying robots, prophecies apply to us.


It's not just in US. In the majority of the world, women are extremely materialistic. Sad reality.


A bad assumption here. It could have simply been that his wife didn't want to see her children go to bed hungry or for them to lose the roof over their heads.


And if she kicks him out, she can go on welfare.


... and the kids don't get to see Dad much anymore.

Kids need to come first, and they need both parents. Mom and Dad: work it out -- for their sake.


Not necessarily a bad assumption. However I think the word "materialistic" is being thrown around without considering its deeper meaning. Women must provide for their offspring, the survival of our genes depend upon it. This concept of "providing for their offspring" has historically meant choosing men who can help with this difficult task.

Materialism is a perfectly reasonable evolutionary outcome. It is nothing to be ashamed of or scoffed at. It has serious implications at the evolutionary level. If you have children you have to provide for them so they don't die.


Smoody, I so wish I were wrong. But I am so right that if you search for the top reasons why relationship fail you would find that money is always first or second.

Women have cried for centuries to have equality (vote, salaries....), which I totally agree with. Now on the flip side, they still expect man to be the provider, the protector etc...If you do not provide anymore, like Mr Pumbler, you can be sure that you will soon be out of the picture.


PEOPLE care about money because it is important for survival, even more so when you are in a family of, like the guy mentions in his comment, 4.

Also, I'm still curious as to how you inferred from said story that his wife wasn't also working to provide for the family since her husband couldn't hold a steady job. It was a stressful time for everyone involved, and when there are kids to provide for in the picture, even more so.


Ok, so what about when the guy tells his wife "If you do not loose weight I will leave you"? How is that different?


A job provides income that pays for the house and the food on the table and clothes for the kids and more. Doesn't matter who tells who to get a job. It's a necessity.

Losing weight is what is truly materialistic, as unless the person that needs to lose weight is morbidly obese and their health is directly at risk if they do not do so, it's something that does not directly affect their ability to get and pay for day-to-day necessities. It's nice if it happens, but it wouldn't directly threaten their ability to shelter their kids, for example.

The two are just not comparable.

If the guy told his wife who did the same thing as this plumber did ($300 in savings at start and no customers for weeks) that he'd leave her if she didn't get even an undesirable job soon, it wouldn't be unreasonable, and would be a more apt comparison to bring up instead of this losing weight nonsense. However, it would be crass for anyone in the relationship to threaten to leave, but you know it happens in a lot of them. :(


This is the wrong assumption as to why the wife wanted him to get a job at wal-mart or the like. Sometimes any additional income is better than no income, especially when it comes to having food on the table or not.


That's an interesting anecdote about business practices, but I don't understand what it has to do with the pro/con virtue/evil desirability/undesirability of being motivated by money.


He was successful despite not selling out his principles and succumbing to the motivation of money.


How is he not motivated by money in this post? Is plumbing his love and passion, or is he trying to provide for his family? And what's so wrong about being motivated by money, except for that it offends the secular liberal religion?


Yes he was motivated by money, but in the same way that you're motivated by food. It's important for accomplishing your goals, but there are more important things.



I'm wondering the exact same thing. I only posted that on hacker news, so he either saw it on wordpress or he reads hn.


maybe someone emailed him a link or something.


I really loved this post.

It brings out one of the obvious truths in economics or business if you will.

Customers are not that interested in paying you to help you out. They are interested in getting what they want. Money is just a reward for getting what they want.

Too many businesses focus on getting paid, they lose track of why customers are there in the first place.


I just don't buy this. Most small business are really bad at collecting their Accounts Receivable, and it is one of the number one reasons for small business failures. I agree with what someone else wrote, there may be a kernel of truth to this, but it's too polished and too neatly tied with a bow to be true.


The success of the plumber was really marketing, which is the success factor for any business. He never gave away $50, he offered a discount on his services (how many plumbing jobs cost less than $50?). Also, he was driven by money, just not for greed's sake, but for the sake of supporting a family.


I went to a printer and had them print up a 1000 $50.00 gift cards on heavy paper stock all of them with code numbers. The next thing I did was go door to door and meet people one at a time. Ya, it was crazy at first but the people were blown away, they loved it. As of right now I am the number one plumber in a town of about 40,000 people and am looking to hire another plumber.

This is just good marketing. Small businesses do this all the time.

My mother owned a small business and did this sort of advertising at least yearly. I used to have to help hand out flyers as a kid. We would also go around and get permission from the property owners to attach flyers to car windshields. I always thought it was a waste but there is a reason people do it - it works.


I don't get it. Is the $50 only against his labour charges? If the customer pays nothing for the parts too, then he can't subsidise the scheme for long enough to start being paid one the coupons run about by his, now loyal, customers.


If he charges x dollars for "up to the first hour", and y dollars for every hour thereafter, where x >= 50, then there's no problem.


Yes there is, depending on the type of job he's hired for with the vouchers, and whether the voucher covers parts as well.


Not so: In my scenario, the labor for any job would eat the entire voucher. (I'm assuming he's got a "limit 1 per customer" clause in the small print).


Sure, you can pick a job like that. But similarly, the voucher recipients could pick jobs that cripple the plumber financially.


Perhaps I'm not following you completely. Please give an example where that could happen, given the scenario I outlined above.


Think about it for a moment, have you ever heard of a business come to your door, shake your hand, and while looking in there eyes tell them you would like to earn the business and by they way here is a fifty dollar gift card that can be used anytime for any plumbing service they need.

Why is it that so many people seem to think direct sales is some kind of new idea?


Perhaps he'll be the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_C._Baker of plumbing... :)


Sounds just like "How to Win Friends and Influence People"


i think in a way... money was the motivator for the plumber.. if he could afford his bills... he wouldnt have spent that one night thinking and thinkingg...


Great stuff. All companies have moved away form this, I hope that the current economic situation will force companies to care about their customers again.


my brother and both parents said "well of course everyone is driven by money... you mean you thought they were driven by something else?"

What the fuck? They really think everyone's goal in life is to buy as much crap as they can?


Money isn't an end goal, it's a means to something else. Who said the goal would be buying crap? A better use of money is financial security for raising a family, having free time, buying things you really value, retiring early and enjoying life. Money is an excellent motivator, but it's indirect, the real motivator is your values and your life.


Then that's like saying you're motivated by food, water, shelter. I see money as just one resource that I need in my life to maintain my lifestyle, like I need food/water/shelter. It would be nice to solve the money problem once and for all by doing something to accumulate a large pile of it, but only so that I can stop expending my energy on generating money and move on to the things I really care about.


people are motivated by the "reward" their efforts may reap them. For some people this "reward" is money or power, for others it may be acceptance from peers or loved ones, for the plumber it was the ability to take care of his family.


Well it's a good thing someone can profit from a shit gone awry!




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