Bartenders make $500 a night in tips. Baristas make $20.
Their drinks are equally complex. They serve similar numbers of clients.Â They perform the same job, but during different hours and in different settings. Why do bartenders make so much more?
It isn’t performance. Some bartenders are sloppy, and some baristas are excellent, but their compensation will never go up or down enough to reach the other, no matter how good they are, so quality has very little to do with it.
Could it be an issue of how much we order? Bar patrons order several drinks, but rarely have as many in a Starbucks. Would baristas get better tips if the size of drinks were smaller? Maybe, but that doesn’t seem right either.
To be treated, and paid, like a bartender you should act and put yourself in the context that bartenders are in. After all,Â we feel like bartenders deserve their dollar, but it’s the rare individual who’d tip a barista the same.ï»¿
Bloggers have the same problem with speaking events. They work for whuffie but aren’t sure how to be taken seriously or get paid. They move from one Podcamp to another, hoping to make it onto a bigger stage but often, it doesn’t seem to work.
I think I have an answer as to how to make it happen, but it doesn’t involve doing more speaking events, though practice helps. It’s about gaining credibility, changing context and applying leverage.
Method 1: Testimonials/Word of Mouth
A few weeks ago, I was introduced through Twitter to Erwan le Corre. Erwan is the founder of MovNat, an exercise method which is founded in evolutionary principles and usually goes hand-in-hand with my paleo diet. I already thought it was cool stuff but my opinion was changed when I found out that Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the author of The Black Swan, had done it.
This, of course, is totally irrational. Taleb is a smart dude but the system itself doesn’t change based on whether he knows about it. He isn’t even in good shape, really, but I’m still influenced. I can’t help myself. I hold it in higher esteem because some famous dude did it. You might too.
What we can learn from this is that the more passive the method through which other people find out about you, the better. If you make it look like you worked for it, it cheapens the recommendation, but if you are just sitting back while someone else hears about you, you’re doing great.
Word of mouth is actually how I get the majority of the speaking gigs I do. This method works, but only if people really do think that you’re great, are willing to talk about it, and those people are highly credible in other circles. This brings us to #2.
Method 2: Your Easy = Their Difficult
I love how impressed we are by movie stars, how we feel that they’re talented, etc., no matter how they got there. In a way, it gives the impression that the end justifies the means despite the fact that all our moral teachings tell us otherwise. Sons and daughters of movie stars, specifically, are clearly not selected by talent but rather by proximity. This is the same thing I’d like you to take advantage of, in your own way.
What is easy for you that’s hard for others? If you’re loaded, fly everywhere and meet everyone– it’s comparatively difficult for others, so you’ll gain an advantage. If you have a ton of time, produce more content than others so you’ll get on people’s radars easier. It’s all about the gates you can cross but others can’t.
One of the big lessons from this method is that it isn’t impressive for you to be a social media expert in the social media space.. everybody can do it, so nobody cares. You have to bring your expertise to a place where it’s magical, and show them stuff that’s bleeding edge to them, but normal to us. As Arthur C. Clarke said: “AnyÂ sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.ï»¿” What you do isn’t magic in your circle, so you have to go somewhere where it is.
Method 3: Be Aggressive
I loved this so much when I saw it on Put This On, so I have to share this advice with y’all as well. Often, you are already speaking at an event or getting asked to come, it becomes a kind of “well, we have no budget, etc. etc.” conversation that heads back down the slope of free. You have to fight this with an actual belief that you are worth paying for. Here’s the best quote from the post:
Pretend youâ€™re giving it all up and going back to school in a year. Act like you have one year to make it work before you give up and try something else. What havenâ€™t you done? Where arenâ€™t you being aggressive enough? Go do it and embarrass yourself with your pushiness- after all, youâ€™ll be doing something else in a year anyway, so who cares what people think? Push until you feel uncomfortable, and then double it.
I wouldn’t go as far as this, but it’s still great advice. We are so shy about doing what we do, and not being self-promotional, that we often sell ourselves short. We become the unsigned hype instead of becoming Jay-Z, all because we refused to hustle.
This final method is a third form of social proof, one that completes the equation with the other two: proof from others, proof from the environment, and proof from yourself. When you put together all three, you have evidence on all sides telling everyone that you’re worth a premium. Apply enough pressure on each of these, and you’re golden. But don’t apply enough, and there will be a lack of congruence when people look around, so they won’t believe it.
Here’s the thing though: You actually have to be good at this thing you’re doing for free. You can be average and apply all of these methods I mention and still get paid, but people only feel good about it once they’ve gotten great value from your work. So you might be able to convince a few people, but then you’ll quickly go back down the ladder again. When you start to get paid, realize that you need to up your game very seriously and it’ll keep you up there. That’s when it’s even more important to work your face off.
Have you ever had success with any of these methods, or others? How did you make it work for you?
(Hat tip for inspiration: Taylor Davidson)