The hardest money to earn

by tkos on August 14, 2012

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In my life, I’ve been lucky enough to always have the opportunity to earn money.

I had my first source of independent income at 11 years old where I rose at 5:30am every morning for three years to stuff newspapers in 65 different letterboxes in a suburban Melbourne neighbourhood. I haven’t stopped earning money since. I’ve never been anything close to wealthy, but have always been adequately comfortable in supporting my adequate lifestyle.

Saying that, I have never given to charity. Never sponsored an African child, puppy, polar bear or granny. Not so much because I cannot afford it, just more because I never really trust where the money is going. Same way as I don’t really give money to people on the street, regardless of age or limbs missing. (Except that one time I gave homeless Kevin a jumper and £20 for Christmas, but it took me three months to get to know him).

My good London friends, never shy to get a beer in

The vast majority of our friends aren’t shy to get a round at the bar in. And sometimes these rounds can cost up to and beyond £50. They are not the type of people to keep tabs as to who’s round it is and will more often than not fight you at the bar to pay for the drinks. They are not rich people but generosity at the bar is cultural in the hospitality industry.

And I have lots of friends. At least 400 on Facebook and Kimmi more than 800. It shouldn’t be too hard to raise £10k or £20k. Even our closest ten friends will easily pledge £100 each. Company sponsorship. Regular customers of the City financial district. Family from both sides of the globe. This is going to be easy.

Maybe it was because we were a little vague as to our cause. Maybe because it was our ‘own’ charity. Maybe it was because we were yet to leave. But, it didn’t take long to learn that there is a big difference between pledging money to charity and actually taking it out of your account and handing it over.

Money dribbled in through our website. We updated our ‘accounts page’ and shouted about our complete transparency but it did nothing to speed it up. Ten pounds here and there and from the most random of people. Old school friends from Australia that I haven’t spoken to in more than 17 years seemed to be quicker to show faith in our new founded charity than our closest friends and family.

I worked for a company with 38 different high profile bars, mostly around central London. That’s 38 different General Managers with 38 oversized, inflated, testosterone fuelled ego’s. Some of them friends, some of them colleagues and the rest of them somewhere in between. So many opportunities to raise money, yet so little actually converting into the bank. How many times can you ask a friend for a donation?

The 38 General Managers, a few company directors and myself were attending a conference in Barcelona to go through the annual company performance over a few noisy beers. It is also the time to announce the General Manager of the year.

“And the General Manager of the Year, winning £10,000, goes to ……….” I sat nervously half off my seat, eyes fixated on a spinning, blurred floor as I awaited the announcement. I had handed my resignation in, so I knew it was unlikely that I could win, but this was about the year prior. I knew I was on the short list as I had some of the best financial performances in the company. Could it be me? Could it be….. The company was yet to pledge an amount of donation and this could be the perfect opportunity for them….. Could it be me?! The day dream brought a stupid smile to my face as my eyes glazed aimlessly passed the floor into oblivion. I was plastered.

Mr Aaron Lumb, General Manager of the Year

People were clapping and cheering! Everybody was standing! Champagne corks were flying! I had no idea what was going on! Then I heard my name! I looked over at the stage and saw Mr Aaron Lumb, the General Manager of Loop and the newly crowned General Manager of the Year, halfway through his acceptance speech. I stood there with the same stupid smile on my face and felt the oblivious glare of everybody staring at me. I heard Aaron mention my name again and I quickly tuned in. “I think what Brett and Kimmi are doing is absolutely amazing. I believe in The Kindness of Strangers and think that everybody here, including Novus, should get right behind them and their charity. I will start the ball rolling and personally pledge £2000!”.

In the light and sobriety of the next day, I thanked Aaron and gave him a hangover exit, should he wish to back out with no hard feelings. And true to his word, Aaron maintained the pledge and followed up with a full deposit two short weeks later.

And I still wore that same stupid smile.


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