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The Science of Paying People

Ritchie Clapson, co-founder of propertyCEO, comments

I’m going to start this month’s article with a confession. I’m not sure it’s up there with the soul-cleansing variety, but it’s a confession, nonetheless. So, here it is; I’m not the world’s most avid book reader. There, I’ve said it. And I think I may feel better already. It’s not the reading itself that’s the issue; it’s more a question of having a low boredom threshold. I’m no good at investing time in things that have delayed gratification. Spending five hours getting information out of a book is too long for me. I want answers, and I want them now. Or at least now-ish.

When I played golf for the first time, my short attention span really came to the fore (see what I did there?) Not only did I find it almost entirely pointless, I realised that if I were going to be any good at it, I would need to invest weeks, months, and probably years practicing. There was also the issue of the challenging attire, plus a propensity to what my golfing partner at the time generously referred to as a pronounced fade, but which we both knew was a slice so large that it would have made Mr. Kipling salivate. In case you’re wondering, my second visit to the golf course remains an awaited pleasure.

But I digress; let’s get back to the books. The problem with many self-help tomes is that their core concept can easily be conveyed in a single page. It’s often a simple idea, sometimes a brilliant one, that should take five minutes to grasp and not much longer to act upon. But you can imagine the author’s conversation with their publisher, who’s just been presented with a single leaf of paper detailing said gem of an idea; “I love the concept; your fans will adore it. But, be a love and knock out another 199 pages of waffle so we can pad it out a bit, would you?” And therein lies my problem. No one writes a one-page book, so I need to endure 99.5% of padding in order to extract 0.5% of goodness. And frankly, I struggle with such a meagre rate of return.

Luckily for me, help is on hand. These days I manage to consume a book a day due to the rather wonderful innovation known as book summarisers. In fifteen minutes, I can read (or listen to) the key points of some of the world’s finest business and self-development books without any of the waffle. Then, if I like the book, I might buy it, but more likely, I’ll just read another book summary. The other benefit of book summaries is that you’re willing to take more risks with your choice of subject. If you know you’ve got to sink five or six hours into a read, then you’ll make sure it’s a good book before you start. But if you’re only investing fifteen minutes, you can afford to go off-piste and try something you wouldn’t ordinarily risk. And while it’s an approach that can uncover the occasional turkey, it can also open up your horizons in a rather illuminating way.

This principle of early gratification doesn’t just apply to fine-motor sports skills and book reading – it also extends to the rather sensitive issue of paying people. After all, when people are owed money, they not unreasonably want to get their mitts on the cash as soon as possible. And in the world of property development, the whole ‘paying people’ thing comes with a bit of baggage that we need to unpack. 

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