Questioning The Expected

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While on my travels in San Francisco, I discovered two wonderful examples of people getting more of what they wanted by questioning what is expected. 
 
The first example occurred when I looked into hiring a bike to cycle the Golden Gate Bridge. I typed ‘Bike Hire San Francisco’ into Google, and the first search result was a company called..
 
‘Basically Free Bike Rentals’
 
What was more interesting than the name, was that they didn’t make their money by renting bikes.
 
It turned out that for $40, you could hire a bike for the day but when you returned the bike you got given a voucher, of the same value, to spend in their clothing store. 
 
The store contained a series of great brands including Nike, Patagonia, North Face etc. In essence, ‘you got the bike for free’ because you were able to spend the money in the store instead. 
 
The only thing, is how many Patagonia jumpers can buy for $40? But because you now had a voucher for $40, there’s a psychological feeling that it’s as if you have a $40 off voucher, and so people end up spending $70 – $100 and doing so happily because they feel as though they’ve saved $40. 
 
It’s a genius piece of psychological manipulation that results in customers spending three times as much as they would have first anticipated when seeking to rent a bike.
 
The second fascinating story is of a dish called the Hang Town Fry, which is an omelette containing eggs and oysters.
 
The story goes that during the Gold Rush between 1848 – 1855, men who were condemned to death would request the Hang Town Fry as their last meal. The reason, was because it would take a few additional days for officers to seek the ingredients, giving the condemned a few additional days of life.
 
It’s always been expected that the condemned would order what they most craved in that given moment, but how clever is it to instead request an unusual combination of ingredients that will give the prisoners what they really desired, additional time.
 
I guess what both of these examples show, is that by questioning what is expected, you can often find ways to get a greater return. So the next time you work on something where there is an expected way of doing something, maybe take some additional time to question if it could be done differently. You never know, you might be able to get more by innovating.

Ricky Richards