One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. You say potato, I say pa-tah-toe. In this ever shrinking world that we live in, the differences between people seem to get bigger and bigger all the time. The internet has given us the ability to engage other people from all over the world like never before. The potato vs. the pa-tah-toe divide is growing more and more visible every day.
For most of my career, I referred to my time at work as being ‘trapped in the box,’ because in this business we can’t just lock up and let everyone leave for lunch for an hour. In order for us to leave the store, we’ve got to pull the cases and do a full-blown, time consuming, shutdown. Once we flip that open sign in the morning, we’re all there for the duration.
Being ‘trapped in the box’ used to mean that you had limited interaction with other colleagues. In order to keep up with other like-minded individuals that share the same interests, hobbies and perspectives as you, you had to subscribe to their newspapers or newsletters. Well, the internet and social media has changed all that.
Over the course of the last several years, countless numbers of special interest groups have popped up on social media. All of these groups have one thing in common; there is always that one person that knows more than me. There is also that one person that is smarter than me. And do you want to know how I know they’re smarter than me? Because they say things like, “You’re a stupid idiot. Who let you in this group?”
In every group there’s always someone that makes more money, sells more diamonds, has more technical knowledge, and runs his or her business better than me. But, I’m learning it’s all about perspective.
Over the last couple of years I’ve joined several of these groups in various topics that interest me. I’m always amazed at the different ways that there are to get from point A to point B that I used to miss while being ‘trapped in the box.’ I’m also amazed at the number of people that insist that there is only one way to get there - their way. If you’re not doing it their way, you’re doing it wrong, simply because it’s not their way.
I’ve also learned there are lots of hot-button issues out there. In the jewelry industry, appraisals are one of those. I’ve been a part of a few appraisal groups, and have learned that, once again, there is only one way to do an appraisal. And, since I’m not doing it that way, I’m doing it wrong. I know that because I’ve been called out by 100s of other appraisers for not doing it their way. Of course most appraisers I’ve met can’t agree with each other as well.
It’s times like this where you just have to look at the situation from your own perspective. Did you do right by your customer? Will it hold up in court in the event of a loss? Can you sleep at night with the work you did? Sometimes in this life, you’ve just got to let those people do it their way and you do it your way.
I once had a pawn shop trade account that would ask me how much I was going to charge to size a ring down. I’d say $12. He’d say, “I don’t want to spend that much. Do $4 worth of work and just stop.” Mention this to one of those jewelers online, and let the carnage begin.
I always thought that request was kind of weird, until I saw the situation from his perspective. So, I’d cut the ring, solder it, round it and quit. Then, I’d return it unpolished, and he’d happily pay me. Then about a month or so later, I’d see the same ring again and it was being sized to a different size. This time I’d be told, “only do $6 worth of work.”
This particular pawn shop had customers that bought jewelry on Friday, and then pawned it on Monday. They never kept it long enough to worry how it looked on the bottom. And the owner didn’t want to spend the extra money to finish out a ring that he was going to buy back in two days and sell again in a month or so to someone else who would only keep it a few days before pawning it again. Like I said, it’s all depends on perspective.
When it comes to the world of promoting your business using social media, it turns out there is only one way to do that as well. Just ask that question in an online business forum and you’ll have 100 options that tell you the only way to do it. And let’s not pretend that these people are telling you how they do it. They are telling you how you HAVE to do it - or you’re stupid. Social media has me thinking a lot of people have this perspective of me.
When it comes to selling diamonds, I used to think I knew a little something something about the process, but now I’m rethinking everything. Apparently, if I sell anything under a 2 carat, VVS2, F-color, I’m a giant loser. How could I call myself a jeweler if I could only sell someone a ¾ carat, SI1, H-color diamond? I’ve been told I should just quit the business and start flipping burgers, where someone of my limited abilities might be able to excel. In all reality though, I do flip a pretty mean burger, and I probably made more on that ¾ carat than they did on that 2 carat. Remember, it’s all about perspective.
Now, if you want to have some real fun, post a picture of a diamond online and ask other diamond people what grade they think it is. Apparently ‘stupid and incompetent’ is a real grade nowadays.
Aviation has always fascinated me. I have taken many acrobatic flight lessons. Let me tell you something, that’s a wild ride right there, flipping upside down and falling out of the sky. I’m a member of a dozen or so aviation groups and I’m probably the least knowledgeable person in each of them. You wanna know how I know I’m the least knowledgeable? Because the experts have told me so, over and over and over again. I wish they knew my reason for being there is because I enjoy it, not because I’m an expert. Stop making it not fun for me.
I have a friend that is in the military and maintains their computer networks. He tends to be in the middle of nowhere for long periods of time on boring 12 hour shifts. His favorite way to pass the time is to go to social media groups that he has absolutely no knowledge of, and start posting as an expert, just to rile the members up and stir the pot. Then he just sits back and watches the chaos ensue. This is his entertainment while killing time on the other side of the world in a remote outpost. Whenever I see an argument online, I always want to say, “Justin, is that you?”
Usually, the things people say and post on the internet don’t bother me, but just the other day in an online group, I said something about how Bud Light is my favorite beer. Holy cow, I found out real quick that Bud Light is NOT REAL BEER! I can’t print here most of what was said, but I have a whole new perspective about Bud Light now!
I never knew they used human urine to make it!