3am on Front Street

By Arya Abawi 

Consulting | Technology Strategy & Architecture (2015 Summer Student)

Once upon a time I was a rickshaw runner in downtown Toronto. For those of you who may not be familiar with this--a rickshaw is one of those rickety looking bright orange pedicabs. If you have been to Toronto, you might have seen them on Queen Street during the summer or outside of nightclubs/bars around last call. The person you seeing pulling those things, that’s the rickshaw runner.

The number one question I always hear is “How did you pull all those people around!?” Cardio is my answer. When you’re 18 years old your strength is very malleable, so that was the easiest part. The hardest thing about that job was convincing people to actually get in those things, and spend their money on the trip. To convince a passerby into giving you money, they need a reason (real or perceived) to do that. Observational skills are necessary here. Is a gentleman’s date wearing heels? “Sir you’re not actually going to make her to walk all the way in those shoes are you?” The Blue Jays just lost again? “Twenty bucks and we’ll race you to the bar!”

What you’ll notice in those instances is that you see a characteristic and make a polite, but playful, implication. This immediately takes down a barrier with the person and opens the dialogue into something more real. So after some conversation, they are in the pedicab and you’re taking them to where they requested. As you are running you still need to talk to them, and this is easy because they are also interested in why you are even doing this. You talk about what they are doing here in Toronto and they ask questions about the job. Regardless of how engaging the conversation is, you never stop counting the blocks you have travelled because it is a per block fee. When you drop them off you tell them the price, how you got to it, and say your goodbyes.

So now that I am in the professional world I need to network. The only problem is I hate networking. I cringe reading the questions that all “Networking 101” articles advise because I don’t feel authentic asking them. However networking is very necessary for landing the jobs you want, so I decided to apply the methods of a successful rickshaw runner into my networking practice. Networking is all about making a connection, applying the following rickshaw techniques is a different approach to accomplishing the same end goal:

  1. Observe: identify a quirk or a unique feature about the person
  2. Comment: make a quick joke or implication on that quirk politely
  3. Connect: use their retort to deduce a common ground
  4. Counting blocks: don’t forget why you are having this conversation
  5. And the total is: briefly outline how you got to where you are
  6. See you later: exchange contact information for follow up

Remember these and you should be fine. If “standard” networking tips aren’t working for you, this is something new that you can try applying.

One final note, this can also be applied to dating.

Arya was a 2015 consulting summer student with our Technology, Strategy and Architecture team. He is currently completing a double major in Finance and Information systems at Carleton University.

Did you find this useful?