At any point in time, there are usually a few people, products, or just topics in general that simply generate a ton of buzz. Lately, there has been a lot of hype over Tim Tebow, who you may know is a pro football quarterback who has been mentioned in the media quite a bit. This is a celebrity who seems to generate opinions and commentary from many fans and media, regardless of their views. As a personal finance enthusiast, I’ve managed to see this “Tebowmania” phenomenon and pull out a few personal finance lessons!
First off, this post isn’t about any kind of judgement on Tebow, or those who either like the hype or don’t like the hype. That’s outside the scope of personal finance and this blog. So, I won’t go there. Rather, what caught my attention – and what I’ll discuss below – are 2 money lessons that I think we can take from the Tebow hype.
Where there’s hype, there’s opportunity
This came to mind as I just happened to randomly come across a link to a story on Deadspin, which was about someone’s attempt to make some money off Tebowmania. Apparently, an ad was placed on Craigslist that offered for sale a set of 4 envelopes that were postmarked on the day Tebow was born – August 14, 1987. These envelopes seemingly have no actual direct connection with Tebow, other than having a postmark sharing that particular date. The way it was described, one had a Florida postmark, another was West German, another Dutch, and the final one was from the U.K. Again, they aren’t specific to the athlete – just postmarks from that particular date.
According to the article, the asking price was $90.
As I saw that, I thought “hey – that’s a real entrepreneurial, opportunistic move!”
Clearly, there’s hype, and it’s built up to the point where there’s a market for stuff like this. We’ve seen stuff like this before with products – beanie babies come to mind. Random stuffed animals were sold for astronomical figures and become “collector’s items” to many people. This happened with Cabbage Patch dolls many years ago too. We’ve also seen this with tech stocks in the late 90’s, and real estate in the early 2000’s. Some things just get red hot in popularity at certain times.
This reminds me of a story I read (or heard) a few years back, when gas prices shot up and people were concerned about prices potentially going up to astronomical levels. This increased interest in hybrid cars, and at that time where the buzz was around gas prices, some people were actually reselling used hybrids for a profit. That goes against conventional practices with cars, as they usually depreciate with use – and can do so quite quickly. But in that time of hype, some people capitalized by using these cars for a while and then selling them for more later. Pretty nifty, right?
If you ride the wave, you can profit from the hype! The hype may not be long-lived, and items may end up crashing in value and popularity quite suddenly. The wave doesn’t continue forever. However, while momentum picks up in the early to mid stages of it, you can jump on board and opportunistically make money!
The lesson: watch what’s trending, hustle, and you might find quick opportunistic money making situations!
Being Polite has high ROI
One thing I’ve noticed about Tebowmania is that no matter what people think of him, no matter how polarizing he might be, most people seem to acknowledge that he come across as being polite and well-mannered. He’s not foul-mouthed, surly, or getting in trouble like some other celebrities. That alone just has to help with popularity, right? There are other talented athletes out there who have been successful in their profession for years, but don’t seem to get this type of attention. Taking this to fan attention, just look at the example I provided above on postmarked items that were reportedly per that story being hawked for $90.
The lesson: if you’re likable, you open more opportunities than if you aren’t likeable. Being pleasant and personable doesn’t cost much, but can offer good rewards for minimal investment. So, why not be pleasant!
My Questions for You:
Have you ever taken advantage of any hype or buzz, and profited from it? This could include collectibles, real estate, or just about anything that was riding a wave of great popularity at any point in time.
Do you also agree that just being likeable can open up many more opportunities for a person exhibiting that characteristic? Do you see it as a high ROI action that most of us could take?