The question I have is about letting everyone know what you do to serve humanity and making friends with many people. If I make friends with someone, won’t I look like a greedy guy to ask full charge to a friend? What would you do, Sir? Would you give a discount for friends?
I don’t think a lot of people understand the concept of making money being a good thing. So for that reason I ask you the question.
Thank you in advance.
We’re delighted you are reading our books and, since some Ask the Rabbi readers may not have done so yet, we’d like to give a little preface to our answer.
In the books, as in our other business resources, we encourage people to share their skills and professions with friends, acquaintances and those they meet. This is how you let people know the way in which you can serve them. We note that many Jewish last names—a relatively recent phenomenon — stemmed from how people benefited society. Wasserman was the water carrier while Silverman was the silversmith. The Cooperman family descends from barrel makers while the name Melamed means teacher in Hebrew. It was an early form of advertising, about which Winston Churchill said, “Advertising nourishes the consuming power of men. It sets up before a man the goal of a better home, better clothing, better food for himself and his family. It spurs individual exertion and greater production.”
Many people share your concern. We are certainly not suggesting a cynical and self-serving approach to winning new friends. We recommend an organic and authentic expansion of your circle of friends. And we agree that befriending someone to ‘trick’ them into using your services or products is reprehensible. However, that is entirely different from what we are encouraging.
The first basic principle is that you should be doing something that makes you proud. If you are peddling shoddy merchandise or you are an incompetent tradesman, you certainly should not share your profession with anyone. In fact, you either need to improve or get out of that field. However, let’s say you are a talented and principled locksmith. By sharing that information, you are giving me the option to turn to someone I know, like and trust when I need the locks in my house changed rather than needing to select the services of a stranger. You aren’t making a heavy pitch or trying to scare me into using your services; you are simply sharing an important part of your life and letting me turn to you if I do need help. What is more, I have friends who often ask me for recommendations so little by little, the word spreads that you are a reliable and courteous provider of the goods or services required.
The second principle you raise is whether you need to offer a discount to friends and relatives. This is where your own attitude makes all the difference. If you sound apologetic and embarrassed about presenting your fee, your friend will also feel uncomfortable. If you are matter-of-fact, your friend will follow suit.
We were once out of town when one of us (Susan) began feeling not well. We turned for help to an acquaintance who was a doctor. Because of our relationship, she saw us right away. When she presented her bill, we were glad to pay it. Could one offer a “friends and family” discount? In some ways that might cause more trouble as you need to define what those terms mean? Second cousin twice removed? The woman with whom you share carpool? It is actually neater not to get into that discussion and to simply confidently and politely present your bill.
Certainly, we each have some people to whom we may want to provide free or discounted services. These may be especially close friends or relatives. But that is a free and voluntary decision and should not be expected or demanded.
Oscar, we suggest practicing naming your price until you do it casually and with self-assurance. If you are uncomfortable, reach inside yourself and ask whether you believe that you are providing a good service for a fair price. If you are, accept payment with a clear conscience.
You forgot to tell us what you do!
Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin
We’ve lowered the price on our
Digital Download Library Pack