Being a paperboy taught me a lot of the habits of rich people. They always tipped me more than anyone else. Their monetary generosity then led me to give them better service than everyone else. I've found that it's very similar in life and business.
From this experience with rich people, I learned several valuable lessons to take me from a poor paperboy to being a multi-millionaire. Here are the lessons I've learned that you can apply in your life to become the type of person you can become.
Money greases the wheels.
The first lesson I learned is that money does talk and can be a motivating factor in certain situations. The primary reason I took a job is that my family did not have a lot of money. We struggled to get by. At 12 years old, the money I made was some of the only money coming in to buy food for my family to survive. Money is something essential that you can't do without.
A paper route was a good way to put money in my pocket, since my my parents couldn’t provide an allowance. It was the first real experience I had with the idea that hard work delivered money to get me what I wanted.
Across my various newspaper routes, I met people from all types of backgrounds who would give me tips. It was exciting to get that first tip, but it was something entirely more exciting when a customer handed me the equivalent of what I would have made on my route all week in one tip. That’s when I also realized there were some people who had a lot of money. For hours, I studied them and what they did.
I instantly felt the need to take care of that customer more than others. Of course, I wanted to do a good job, but let’s face it: If I kept doing a great job for the "amazing tippers," there would be more opportunities to get larger tips like the one he handed me. That’s not to say I didn’t take care of my other customers because they still deserved good service. I just didn’t want to lose the ones that always treated me so well. I use this same method when at a hotel. I always leave a $10 bill on the bed for housekeeping. I find that I have the cleanest room as well as extras left. I even have gotten free room service due to leaving amazing tips. It's the same at a restaurant, when you leave a good tip at the beginning, service goes up a lot.
Rich is calculated not just on money.
As I grew older and started my own business, this experience returned to my mind when I had to hire people. While money is one way to motivate others to really help you, overall I learned that the better you treat people, the more passionate and enthusiastic they will be about helping you. I refer many times to these as my "business habits."
Paying them for the value they added to the business was one way to show this and get their passionate help in return. However, I learned there are also intrinsic things people valued. It could be as simple as a compliment or a “thank you for the great work.” Or, it might involve asking for their ideas and offering them a larger role in the company. For me, it’s also involved opening up my network to my employees and sharing their talent with others.
The realization for me was that there are many ways to treat someone well, and almost every time I treat someone well, I receive help in return. As I became more wealthy from my business successes, too, I saw that rich people did not think about money the same way as many others do. It was more of a tool or resource that helped them get what they wanted. Those with money also tended to place more importance on taking care of people because they understood what type of return they could get for doing so. This isn't always a calculated, conscious decision, but a natural training that those with more tend to exhibit.
Many rich people can tell you just how well it works when you treat people well. Virgin entrepreneur Richard Branson said:
“A company is simply a group of people. And as a leader of people, you have to be a great listener, you have to be a great motivator, you have to be very good at praising and looking for the best in people. People are no different from flowers. If you water flowers, they flourish. If you praise people, they flourish. That’s a critical attribute of a leader.”
Treating others how you would like to be treated really is the Golden Rule, for life and business. The good you put into a relationship with others -- financial or otherwise -- typically offers you a return that is just as good, if not better.