Stewardship is a phrase that upset some people yesterday, so I thought to explain the reasons for it again here. I believe that you need to know your basics before you learn advanced technique. This is true in anything. In martial arts you can’t perform complex strikes and throws until you understand your own balance points and structure. In finance, you cannot understand the risks of derivatives until you understand the underlying product and its own micro and macro influences. You simply cannot run before you can walk. Well, safely that is.
After a while, when you have internalized the basics you can absolutely be spoonfed. Once you have an underlying assessment system in place, and can cross check the new ‘gig’ against that. The reason that I don’t like people being spoonfed advanced deals on a wide scale is that there is no care shown to them to see if they are in that position or not. Allowing a complete beginner to run wild with a new gig is like handing the keys to your Ferrari to your teenage son. Not only is he likely to ruin the car, but also he could harm himself. Stewardship, a term that seemed to offend people yesterday, is the mindset that says they actually care about their son, and they actually care about the Ferrari, though arguably many care more about the Ferrari in this analogy.
Show something useful
This was the expectation from yesterday from some. Funnily, Western culture is that people want something they can pick up for a buck. ‘Drive through’ culture. I can certainly tell you what to do, but if you don’t actually study yourself you can’t do it. I can tell you (and show you) how to throw someone twice your size onto the floor with some swanky maneuver, but unless you drill it for thousands of times you’ll be unlikely to be able to do it effectively. Stewardship doesn’t mean not telling you because the information is so powerful, indeed, I think you should have all the information that you can to make a decision. But I can show you all day long, and if all you care about is the fancy gig, you’ll likely get yourself in a whole lot of trouble.
Before we go into this.. the blogger is often aware of risks that aren’t in a post
99% of bloggers will rip a gig from a Forum. When you read about such gigs, you will frequently see a lot of FAQs. In order for the Blogger to get the FAQ they copy and paste from Wikis created on FlyerTalk; ok maybe they reword a line or two….
Two interesting omissions from the FAQ that was spoonfed this week on AP, yet appear on Flyertalk are:
- Can you get shutdown? Yes.
- How do you get shutdown? No one knows. Anecdotes are found throughout the thread. Some suspicious behavior that MIGHT get your AP account(s) shut down is listed below.
What is missing from the Flyertalk Wiki is:
- What happens to your money when you get shut down?
This is what I call a ‘flash point’ in the process. I’m absolutely onboard with new folk using AP and am not trying to keep it all to myself. But here you have a complete beginner who was told by a blogger they love and trust that they can do this – but there is no talk of Shutdowns! What happens when this occurs? Because someone received information neatly packaged it comes with an expectation of working seamlessly.
It would now be perfectly within the new guys ‘rights’ to call up AP, and tell them “The Points Guy said I could do this”, and there was no talk of risk, and demand their money back. When people are acting within their ‘rights’ like this they don’t have a care in the world for the impact or fallout. If you look inside the world of the guys who are right on the edge of this stuff you will see a completely different mindset. Sure, some of it is scaly and involves shoving away new folks, and that is something I disagree with. But at the heart of it are people who want to keep the gig alive. The difference comes into play when they then interact with customer support – because they want to not risk the deal they go about achieving the needed result with an eye on this. It is very different from an entitled approach. However, there are times when you do have to put your foot down and know when you are in a bad gig too. The nuances of this are hard to be taught vs learn for yourself (and as part of a community to share ideas, risks and rewards on).
This is the reason I am against spoonfeeding – it isn’t that you get 1000 more people into the game, it is that I believe (and I could be very wrong) that a high number of these will not know the risks; or possess the skills or desire to resolve problems other than in their own best interests.
Lemming Syndrome doesn’t cut it
The excuse I most hear is that ‘oh that’s not really a secret because X posted it a year ago’. That doesn’t change anything on the above – each and every time that something gets posted without proper warning, another person is likely to call in and screw the pooch. It’s all about buy in and investment to the opportunity. I do firmly believe you can buy into the framework, and methodology to the game in general, and then you can plug a new gig in on the top of that.
Stewardship, as I understand it and want to perform it is not to restrict access, be mean, rude or exclusionary. It is to ensure that if someone is going to get involved in this game they have the skills and knowledge necessary to protect themselves, and keep the game alive. Like anything, there are good stewards and bad, there are people who know nothing other than what they copied from a forum and then claim ‘ownership’ of it over all others, its all a load of poppycock. Likewise, there are good bloggers and bad. Many will share very useful information, and most people who started in the game in the last few years started out with The Points Guy and Million Mile Secrets – so let’s not forget that they helped us out either. I’d love to see a bit more focus on the risks from those guys, but they are running businesses and who am I to judge how they should do that?
My next post will be an outline of how I approach a new gig, hopefully it will help work on the foundation better. I’m far from an expert at Manufactured Spend, but I do know when I find a deal that makes sense to me or not. Not everyone needs this, but I’m certain that there are too many people out there now trying to send $1000 via AP that haven’t a clue about the risk, and might well not be able to float the $1000 until it is released.