Should You Pick Up Penny In The Street When Walking By? An Excercise in Time Management.

Before I begin let me give you the background history on this exercise.  I have always been a very hyper person and I was more hyper and inpatient when I was 8 years old in Cuba. One day my grandfather sent me to the grocery store to buy bread. I bought the loaf and I hat about “3 cenatvos” left and gave it to the owner as a tip. just because I was in a hurry to go play baseball. Now the thing is that no one tips at the grocery store and in a small town the news about me having tipped the owner got to my grandfather before I even reached home. He made me go back and pick up the tip and it was very embarrassing.

He went on to say how money doesn’t grow on trees and how the person could had even taken it disrespectfully, and how could I explain tipping with other people’s money. Let me remind you I was 8 years old. From that they on I never tipped cheaply or at a place where tipping isn’t expected.

The other thing that occurred was that every time I saw a penny, nickel, or dime on the street I would pick it up as I had the memory of my grandfather reminding me that money doesn’t grow on trees.

Nevertheless one day as I started reading more about leveraging time over money I had the following realization:

It takes the average human, to pick up a penny they just found in the street, about 1 second. I am referring to the motion of bending over and coming all the way back up. That means that if you where not allowed to use a broom to get the penny picking up system more efficiently the calculation of how much is picking up a penny worth will go as follows:

1 penny/sec X 60 secs/min * 60 min/hour = 3600 pennies per hour which = $36 an hour.

Now remember this is just to illustrate a point. Obviously we can squat faster or use a vacuum cleaner to pick up pennies faster, but rarely will you see 100,000,000 penny laying on a street corner.

The point here is that unless you make more than $36 dollars an hour it makes sense to pick that penny up, but if you do make more than that, then it doesn’t make any business sense as you will be losing time that if used correctly could bring you greater profit.

Now I still pick the penny up because my grandfather gives me a terrible guilt trip, but not because its the smart thing, or the business person thing to do. I use this exercise to illustrate how an entrepreneurial mind should do calculations on the fly when leveraging time and money.

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Roberto Torralbas

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