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Omonike Odi: The Thing About Peanuts!

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The thing about peanuts is we all take them!
I’ve worked for peanuts. In fact, I’ve worked for less than peanuts- I’ve worked for nothing just paid in full with big, mushy, exaggerated, tears-in- my-eyes “Thank Yous”.

One time I was paid with just the credit to my name for hours of writing epic content for a column. Now someone could erroneously assume “this girl don hammer” to have been featured on so and so, but I did it for nothing. Months down the line it paid me big time when an international organization asked me to write more epic content, because they had seen what I’d written for those guys.

I’ve sat listening to a reputable magazine publisher who carried the full page advert of a multi-million dollar company for nothing, because he knew their competitor would see it and advertise. In the alternative, another company could see it and think if so and so is advertising with you then you are big.

I’ve also sat in the office of a television content producer worth his salt in the industry, who showed me the total contract sum from a big television network for cast, set, wardrobe, guests, staff, welfare, equipment, studio time, montage, production, and post production for 12 episodes of programming. The entire thing came down to what the producer would pay a presenter for one episode.

This guy was eating peanuts or “rip-off nuts” clear eyed for a reason. He knew the effect to his business in the long term. He knew he needed more credibility to get him from local to global.

So when I meet some young start-outers who demand to be paid what their “contemporaries” are being paid, I wonder how much less demanding these  young folks will be, if they knew their more established contemporaries were sometimes paid nothing or less than the true value of their work.

There is nothing wrong with making demands, as long as you understand how making demands works. You use it only for effect. Then you turn around and take the peanuts. You state your demand to establish your market value. You let the person know this is what so and so has paid you before.

You state your demand to gain goodwill- that thing that makes them call you one year or ten years later to give you big deals or connect you with someone who can.

You let the person feel they can’t afford you but you will work with them because you are “humble”, “good”, “reasonable” and all of those things that add up to the goodwill they should feel for you – as a result of this “huge discount” you are giving them.

The other thing about peanuts is you can take peanuts or you can refuse to take peanuts.

So you don’t take the peanuts. But your competitor down the street does.

I sat in the office of a person who narrated with growing dislike the story of this young contractor who was bidding for a contract in his office. When he was told what the organization would pay he said in no uncertain terms, complete with a foreign accent that the N2,000,000 being offered was an insult. The person called in a second contractor who agreed to the price and after the deal was closed, the first contractor came back to renegotiate saying his wife was about to have a baby and they needed the money.

It takes the wisdom of hindsight to acquire a taste for peanuts. The unwritten rule of peanut taking is: take the peanuts if you need the money!

When I meet start-outers across the ladder – from professionals to the vocationally skilled – with the attitude of demanding as much as possible from every sale, I wonder how less demanding these people would be if they knew their competitors sometimes sell at minimum prices, making up the difference by robbing Peter to pay Paul.

I’ve often jokingly asked hairdressers, dress makers, cobblers, cab drivers  as well as web masters, production companies and business consultants if they intend to buy a house from the cut throat prices they have quoted for one service that their competitor down the street is willing to take much less for.

Now there’s nothing wrong with quoting prices, as long as you understand how quoting prices works. You use it only for effect. Then you turn around and take the peanuts! You use it to profile the customer to see how much they have and how much they are willing to pay not how much you think they can afford. For instance, you may bill a corporate client the full value of your services to make up the minimum billing you’ve charged a one man business who has less to pay.

The thing about peanuts is that it’s not about taking them or refusing to take them, it’s about knowing when to turn them down and never look back and when to take them and act like you’re being paid a million bucks!

That’s the thing!

Photo Credit: beyondblackwhite.com
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Omonike Odi is a freelance writer and a media content provider on all media platforms. Read more from her on her blog at http://omonaikee.blogspot.com or follow her on twitter for daily inspirational quotes at https://twitter.com/omonaikee or contact her –[email protected]

Omonaikee creates media content on print, online, tv, radio, social media and for events. Her work has been published in Cosmo, Bella Naija, Ynaija, Imbue Magazine, Metropole, +234Next magazine and True love west Africa. She blogs at www.omonaikee.blogspot.com.

34 Comments

  1. @edDREAMZ

    March 12, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    This is english, yu for kuku come down for my level nw….. To be frank i dont understand anything here but the previous once were understandable…..
    .
    .
    .
    ***CURRENTLY IN JUPITER***

    • Blossom

      March 12, 2014 at 5:38 pm

      Hopefully, there are schools in JUPITER. Help yourself out and go to one. Thanks.

    • John de Beloved

      March 13, 2014 at 1:27 pm

      heheheheheheheehehehehheeheh Lwkmdooo @Blossom @Ed Dreamz, this is isnt LIB… Chill a bit.

    • vee

      March 12, 2014 at 6:03 pm

      I sincerely do not think you need to make a comment on every article on this website…The comment you stated above shows your level of ignorance

    • amaa

      March 12, 2014 at 6:37 pm

      There is something called cyber bullying Vee and that is what you have just done. As much as I am gob smacked almost all the time I read ed’s comment he is entitled to his opinion and he has clearly stated that the level of English used in the article is above him. Let him be please he has a right like you and I to express his opinions in this forum as long as it is not derogatory and hurtful to someone else

    • Iris

      March 12, 2014 at 6:44 pm

      I’m convinced you’re an internet troll, for surely with all the bashing you’ve taken on this blog you would not seriously come here and type this!

    • Geebabe

      March 12, 2014 at 7:19 pm

      The previous ONCE!! Ha Ha Ha!

    • kilipot

      March 12, 2014 at 8:50 pm

      These guys from LIB have finally come here.

    • eddreams is an idiot

      March 12, 2014 at 11:39 pm

      if u like call this cyber bullying i dont care…. there was a story on a blog about a 14 year old girl that travelled to lagos to see her aunty and was stranded and had to sleep in front of a store and she was raped…. our dear ed.. dreamz had this comment to drop

      “God, why was she sleeping outside at that time of the hour knwing fully well it is dangerous.. She brought this upon herself but the rapist still needs to be arrested and persecuted…..”
      .
      .
      .
      ***CURRENTLY IN JUPITER***

      i am so angry ehen… imagine is he was among the people who found the girl, am sure that would be his opening statement to her. Blaming the victim Olodo!

  2. Motola

    March 12, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    Can’t agree more Omonike… value negotiation is indeed the key to taking peanuts.

  3. Dr. N

    March 12, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    What a brilliant piece! You must be Nigerian! Kidding. I was brought up by parents who believed u should even ask for peanuts. Who u be? When your worth goes up, u will be begged to accept more. The reverse is d case these days. This article should be drummed into many ears. You have to pay your dues. Many are starving cos they don’t want peanuts. drnsmusings.wordpress.com

    • John de Beloved

      March 13, 2014 at 1:31 pm

      heheheheheheheehehehehheeheh Lwkmdooo @Blossom @Ed Dreamz, this is isnt LIB… Chill a bit.
      @ Dr N, True talk “people are starving cause they dont want to take Peanuts” nice one…

  4. Concerned_Boyfriend

    March 12, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    This sums it all up for me “It takes the wisdom of hindsight to acquire a taste for peanuts.” Every “start outers” should read this. Well written and informative article.

  5. darkchildlovethyhair

    March 12, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    This is the best article I’ve read this week. Its so true on too many levels. May we live and learn

  6. Myne Whitman

    March 12, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    Nice article, but one has to be careful that the peanuts you accept does not mean you under-deliver.

  7. Blossom

    March 12, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    Love the piece. Only thing is many people preach this but when they are faced with the choice, the philosophy goes straight out the window.

    Took a massive pay-cut for my current job and I know I’m being grossly underpaid for what I do. But, I’m not worried because the platform it gives me (and will give me in the the future) is way more than the extra cash they are saving for themselves by underpaying me.

    Hopefully people take your advice seriously. Good work!

  8. notaplayerhater

    March 12, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    Great advice for folks in de services business just starting out! Right on time!

  9. www.graciemama.com

    March 12, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    Nice article Omonike…..too many deep thoughts for me. I see graciemama.com getting bigger

  10. solar

    March 12, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    Well written!

  11. Baby Giwa

    March 12, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    Nice article. Even though i’m still in school, i really did learn from this. God bless you.

  12. Nuna

    March 12, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    I love this! Honestly a lot of young people who r jst starting out need to know that you gotta pay ur dues! Especially young people in Lagos.

  13. Nuela

    March 12, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    Very thought provoking. Nice article Omonike!

  14. Que

    March 12, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    I was having a lot of different thoughts till i read d closing line about knowing ‘when’ to take them….. the thing with peanut is that, in naija, in an undefined professional environment especially one where pple every nuisance off d street claims to be an expert, nigerians are ready to insist that peanuts are all u deserve till dey see ur obituary! I believe there is a place for peanuts so long as the people giving the peanuts fully appreciate that they are getting a great deal…. but if they believe its their birthright because iya sikira sells jollof rice too, by all means go to iya sikira.
    In addition to doing my job, I recently took up another complementary role in a different company, now it was without pay, but I had mentioned they had to incur any operational costs, and I would occassionally self promote via their company and we agreed this was acceptable…. time to incur their costs, story started getting long and complicated even though I had already delivered some work from my own pocket…. as a person who has worked @ some point in my life for 5000 /month and moved on from that stage, I understand peanuts so I wasted no time in folding my table n leaving them with their confusion…that kind of life is for a period in ur life….sometimes u must stand up to USERS who hide behind such philosophies to disguise their greed and inability to abide by contracts!

    Please do not get it twisted in this nation of ours, USERS are REALLLLLL!

    Same way my cuz worked with an estate company for bout 10mths, using peanut philosophy, no pay or benefits, just occassional stipends when oga was in a good mood…. I spent my rising breathe daily convincing him to leave n guess what he eventually did n his BOSS drove to our house to come find him….. if he was convinved that his ‘peanutness’ was just, why didn’t he just compensate accordingly in d first place??

    I read Myne’s comment bout underdelivering, and i believe its a possibility in some scenarios, but personally, I dont believe one should do that, even though frm personal experience I can say d temptation to under deliver can be great, especially if ur circumstances are faaaar frm ideal! But i believe that if I accept a job for peanuts, I accept d responsibility to deliver sumthn good cos that carries my name with it. What I do in some cases is refuse to accept peanuts and rather educate u on what you’re getting from me, and get u to see why I might be better than my competitor. A line I read in a book ‘Jesus in Blue Jeans’ sums my attitude on some of those days, it reads…’some will, some wont, so what, someone’s waiting’……. not every peanut is mine to accept.

    • HoneyDame

      March 13, 2014 at 8:54 am

      May God bless you for this comment. In Nigeria where there arent even public salary structures…..every employer tells you the story of “It’s not that fantastic out there….just take this one”! Minimum wage is not so minimum…people still get offered/paid below minimum wage..Graduates o! USERS are VERY VERY VERY real in this country of ours…. We all know that when it comes to employment offers, the take-home is one aspect, the other fringe benefits (medical, banking, bla bla bla) is another, the stress is another, the peace of mind is another…yet, a lot of these people wont even give the peace, benefits and what not, yet want to lord over you over peanuts…*shivers*

      I was also typically shaking my head in disapproval until that line which you also mentioned.

      I am a strong proponent of the saying “anything worth doing at all, is worth doing well”. That said, if one has agreed to be paid peanuts, it is ethically wrong to under-deliver. If one feels the need to under-deliver, one might as well take a walk from that job

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      March 13, 2014 at 11:19 am

      Thank you Que. I wanted to type up something in response to Dr. N’s comment above but decided to scroll down first…

      You’ve spelt out the essence of what my comment would have been. To the good Doc, I was going to say that it’s very true that when you’re starting out professionally, you need to pay your dues. I speak to a people starting out their careers (whether self-employed or otherwise)who seem to have these lofty ideas about earnings but don’t quite understand the concept of needing to build their brand first. However, there has to be a time you stop paying your dues and start receiving what you’re due. People will use you if you let them – whether it’s customers or your employers and you need to know (as the writer’s pointed out already) what you’re getting out of any particular transaction.

      @Que, those users are not just in Nigeria, they’re all over the world. There’s always the recurring story I hear from friends about how they were in the same job for years and tried to get a promotion or pay rise, nothing was forthcoming from the employer. Na the very second wey the person vex go find job outside, na that time you go suddenly see HR and senior management springing into action and making counter-offers, sweetening the counter-offers with additional benefits, wanting to have a “discussion”, and so on and so forth. In fact, a friend of mine (after complaining to them numerous times about not getting enough internal opportunities) just handed in her notice and if you see her Oga At The Top’s own oga suddenly calling meetings with her, you go fear temptation. When they showed her the new contract they’d drafted with a change of role, increased salary, revised pension package… I tell her say make she no stay oh. All that one na wash, dem don show her their real colors.

      People will use you in a professional context and it’s okay when you’re getting a benefit (experience, name-brand advertisement, exposure to more clients/projects/opportunities). If you’re not, please get out there and find someone who’ll appreciate the service you provide.

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      March 13, 2014 at 11:36 am

      Yes and those tempters offered a £10K retention bonus as well if she takes up their counter-offer (I still advised her to rebuke the god of money and leave them). This is just to let you know that a lot of users who offer peanuts are often aware of exactly how much you’re really worth.

    • John de Beloved

      March 13, 2014 at 1:37 pm

      ” Que your comment was almost more enlightening than the post itself, nice one… but 5k a month? HOW YOU TAKE SURVIVE THAT TIME? well its alright now, bigger you…

    • John de Beloved

      March 13, 2014 at 1:49 pm

      Pretty awesome article. This is one of those posts that makes me go I LOVE READING BELLA NAIJA’S ARTICLES… (if to say BN na woman, she for fine pass Agbani and get brain pass Chimamamda 🙂 ) @ Omonike Odi, you are an Awesome writer and the delivery of this article was awesome, it was like a talking voice in my head. Bigger you.Anyways, i just feel that Accepting Peanuts is not a sin, but NEVER ACCEPT THESE PEANUTS FOR TOO LONG. Have a time plan and a Target no matter how comfortable the job gets, or how many N5k raises you get. @ EdDreamz, stop Jonezing at Jupiter, and come back to Earth before you have too many BN enemies. Udo.

  15. Ebony

    March 12, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    I once accepted peanuts and would do so again under similar conditions because the per diems I got were crazy!!!!!!!!!!! This job was 80% travel and what I was given as per diem surpassed my salary I was able to make ends meet with per diems alone. From what they gave me a quarter of the total amount was enough for me to live on per day and don’t get me started on the travel allowances….too bad it was a non renewable contract for a short project 1 year.

  16. stella

    March 12, 2014 at 10:23 pm

    Nz write up,I would never receive peanut even if I starve if my client do not appreciate or. See that am doing them a favour,striking a balance is necessary here.peanut clients would also refer you to more peanuts clients in future.

  17. yeske

    March 13, 2014 at 1:10 am

    One of the best articles I’ve read on bn. Nigerians are notorious for overcharging and underdelivering…it drives me mad. I can even tolerate cut throat prices if i know for sure the quality of the work is guaranteed…but this is never the case. I can go on and on and on
    Article is spot on. Also like maybe said…cause you are accepting peanuts doesnot mean you shouldn’t deliver….

  18. xtsy

    March 13, 2014 at 2:13 am

    If I accept ur peanuts u would have to agree to remove every clause I deem undesirable from my contract. I would still maintain the quality of my services but best believe I am using you as a stepping stone. i.e. my loyalty was not part of the bargain.

  19. Uncle (http://thisgrownman.tumblr.com)

    March 13, 2014 at 9:40 am

    I like this. Strong message! Peanuts are not obligatory. However, when you eventually take them, just ensure you come out winning.

  20. frances

    March 13, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    I liked this, message gotten…

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