Tricks of the Trade

Tricks of the Trade I don’t remember how I first came across the site Tricks of the Trade. But I’ve kept it bookmarked and occasionally return to it because I think it’s pretty cool. (Unfortunately it’s not updated too often.)

The site is basically a list of tips & tricks for all kinds of random things, like how to make mayonnaise or get a ride home from a pizza delivery guy after a night of heavy drinking and no means of transportation. Or, as the site’s tagline says, “Professional secrets from those in the know.”

The author is Matthew Baldwin, of defective yeti fame. I don’t know him or anything, but I’ve heard of his site (again, I don’t remember how) (I probably should get my memory checked, eh?).

If you’re familiar with Haley’s Hints or Haley’s Cleaning Hints, this site is just like that. If you’re not familiar with Haley’s Hints, they’re a collection of household hints, like how to remove stains or construct a satellite radio/microwave using toothpicks and vinegar. Or something like that.

Tricks of the Trade goes beyond household hints though. Here are a few business-related ones:

For Managers: If you manage a large number of people who are always offering suggestions, insist that feedback be submitted in writing. Blame your faulty memory, if you want to be diplomatic. The bad ideas will be discarded before you hear them, as the employee won’t want to go through the effort of writing them out; the good ones will be more complete and better articulated, as the submitted will have to think his idea all the way through before sending it in.

For Bartenders: When serving alcohol, card every woman who looks like she’s in her 30’s or 40’s. They will to tip better. (Mike’s note: BTW, I was a bartender once, and this is certainly true!)

For Meeting People: If you are unable to remember someone’s first name, simply ask them: “What’s your name?” When they reply with their first name, laugh and say “Oh no, I knew that, of course. I meant your last name”. This is a much more acceptable thing to forget–and you still get their full name.

For Partiers: If you need a ride home after a wild night out, walk into a pizza parlor that delivers and order a pie to be sent to your house. Then ask if you can get a lift to your house — hey, they’re going there anyway! (Mike’s note: This isn’t really a business-related tip, but it’s a good idea!)

For Office Workers: If you are sending an email with an attachment, add the attachment first, then compose the message, and then add email addresses tothe send line. Now there’s no chance you’ll have to send the ever-popular “whoops, forgot to attach the file” follow-up. In fact, it’s a good practice to always put the email addresses of the recipients in last, to ensure that an errant carriage return or mouseclick won’t fire off the message half-baked.

For Salespeople: If you’re calling a business to speak to someone specific and you get a receptionist, it’s often helpful to say “I’m returning a call for such-and-such,” instead of just “I’m calling for…”. It will typically get you transferred in with less fuss.

For Business Travelers: Always ask for a business discount. You may not have a business, but you work for one–and even if you don’t, how would I know? The worst that will happen is someone will say no. Most motel and hotels have corporate discounts. Nobody tries very hard to find out how legitimate people’s business claims are, and most of us secretly don’t care. In fact, when buying any product or service, try asking for a discount. You’ve got nothing to lose, and you’ll be surprised by how often it works.

Matthew was solicited to write a book with these tips a couple of times. Unfortunately, none of them panned out. But he hasn’t given up on the idea. So if you have a tip or trick, submit it and maybe you’ll get into his book! Or just check out his site for some amusing tips & tricks.

Author: Mike Lee

An idealistic realist, humanistic technologist & constant student.

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