Magazines, Tattoos and $20

The neighborhood I live in is fairly expansive (as in, there are an absurd number of houses that stretch for miles), so what that translates to is us getting a lot of people trying to sell stuff door-to-door to us. It’s easy for them because they could spend days or even weeks in one neighborhood walking to each house and trying to pitch something.

Most of the time I just keep my mouth shut long enough to let them finish their pitch and then quickly tell them I’m not interested.

But recently, on a hot Saturday afternoon, a younger guy (probably 18-20 years old) knocked on our door. He had clearly been out quite a while and was sweating profusely and I just felt bad for the guy.

So what was this guy selling? Magazine subscriptions. As if anyone on the planet needs more magazines.

I wanted to hear his story, though. Why was he out in the blazing sun, walking door to door, trying to sell people magazine subscriptions?

Turns out, he was trying to pay for school. He was going to a local trade school to become a tattoo artist.

I can respect that and I’m happy to support that. So, I said, “I don’t want a magazine subscription, but I’m happy to give you some cash. Here’s $20.” His response? “No thanks, I really need to sell magazine subscriptions.”

What? Seriously? He went on to tell me about how he’ll get a $1,000 bonus if he sells 250 magazines and that’s what he really wanted.

But here’s the problem, and the real point of my post: that bonus was unattainable. He had been out selling magazines for months and had sold 20 subscriptions, but he needed to sell 250 subscriptions to hit that bonus. It could take him literally an entire year of going door-to-door for a $1,000 bonus.

What he needed was cash, and if he wanted to keep going to school, he needed it right then. So there I was, offering him the same amount of money he’d make from selling a dozen magazine subscriptions, and he didn’t want it. He wanted to keep trudging along for another year. He lost sight of his real goal because he was convinced that selling magazines for a year to get a one time, $1,000 bonus was worth it.

Don’t lose sight of what you’re really wanting in life because someone is dangling golden carrots for you down the road. Set your sights on the fastest way to get what you want, take no prisoners and run as fast as you can. That road is much shorter and much more rewarding.


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