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Local Knowledge: How To Create An Unfair Advantage In Life For Yourself

personal development
Local Knowledge: How To Create An Unfair Advantage In Life For Yourself

A couple of years ago Christmas came early and my wife and I spent the evening of 23rd December at a Stormzy gig in west London.

It was an intimate affair as he was playing at my favourite venue in Kingston, a place that has become a brand in its own right for hosting such memorable nights. It’s a 1200 pax capacity nightclub called Pryzm, and Banquet Records, Kingston’s local record shop, host album launch concerts there.


I've Got A Gig Habit 

As well as supporting lots of up and coming acts Banquet Records attract plenty of well established major artists. 

I’ve been lucky enough to see Elbow, Ride, Gary Barlow, Inhaler, Chvrches, Ride, Blossoms, James Bay, Nile Rodgers, Johnny Marr, Ride, Michael Buble, Sam Fender, Damon Albarn, Emeli Sande, Suede, Ride (obviously) and, get this, The Who.

That's a lot of luck right? Well, maybe it's not just luck you'll need, but we'll come to that soon.

The gigs are usually an hour long and the vibe is always amazing, making each event something to look forward to and post about on Instagram and YouTube, immortalising the night.

The ticket prices are an absolute bargain too, which is another reason it's my favourite venue.  To see The Who it was £16 a ticket and I think that included the CD. I paid more than that to see them in 1989!

The aim of the gig is not just to entertain but also to boost the sales of the artist’s new album and help them accomplish a number one record. You can buy one single ticket and for any further tickets you need to purchase a ticket package e.g. a ticket + CD, or a ticket + vinyl album.

For two Stormzy tickets + two CDs the cost was £35. It doesn't matter what you think about musical styles, that's an absolute bargain to see a bona fide superstar up close in such an intimate venue. 

Just one single day before the gig Banquet Records actually announced two Stormzy events for 23rd December. They announced an early gig at 7pm and a later one at 9pm.

They went on sale at 11am and 11.30am respectively and unsurprisingly sold out in mere seconds. I didn't get tickets for either of these two shows.


An Unfair Advantage

It can be very difficult to get tickets for these gigs. With such big names and the venue being relatively tiny, tickets sell out as soon as the website goes live. 

But because he’s a man of the people (and perhaps because he lives round the corner) Stormzy announced he would play a third and final gig on 23rd December. Tickets went on sale at 4pm and sold out immediately.

I found out about the gigs a few minutes later and bought six tickets.

That's right, you read that correctly. It sold out in seconds and THEN I bought six tickets.

How? Because I’ve got a little bit of local knowledge that gives me an unfair advantage.

Today’s Top Tip is to get yourself a little bit of local knowledge and create an unfair advantage for yourself. Local means in an area that’s important to you. Some information that can tip the balance in your favour.


The Full Story

Even with my local knowledge I was lucky to get tickets. Very lucky because I didn’t actually know they were on sale. I didn’t even know the gigs had been announced. 

By chance at 4.05pm I opened Facebook and there was a Banquet Records post promoting the third and final gig for 5pm on 23rd Dec. 

Straight away I clicked through to the sales page and could see that the gig had already sold out. The page counter showed around 97,000 people had visited the site in the past thirty minutes. So there was a lot of interest and competition for just 1200 places.

I headed briefly to Twitter. There were a few very happy people who had snagged their tickets.

There were also lots and lots of very upset people venting their frustration about not being able to get a ticket.

The usual moans were in full flow, continually grumbling that the sale was fixed, broken, hijacked by bots, sold out before 4pm, unfair or etc etc.

It seemed like the complaints were infinite and all seemed to be complaining about a lack of fairness.

But I got some even though I found out after the site had sold out. How was that unfair?

I'll say it again: Local knowledge.

So here's what I know.


Intelligence And Insight

When the sale of a big gig like this goes live, there are thousands of people who all try and click on the ticket links.

While the tickets are available a click sends the little oblong image of Stormzy floating up the page and into the shopping basket. When there are no tickets left the link image goes grey and there’s nothing to click.

With a big act that tends to happen in mere seconds. The transformation from available to sold out can appear instantaneous.

So here comes the first piece of my local knowledge. When the ticket goes into the basket it doesn’t actually mean it’s sold. Just that it's unavailable.

This is an important thing to know. The web page visitor now has ten minutes to make their purchase.

If after that ten minutes has expired the tickets have not been purchased, they end up going back onto the site. 

I think this happens for a range of reasons - maybe bots, maybe two or more friends all put tickets in individual baskets and then realise they don't need them, maybe people change their minds. The reason they don't get purchased isn't important to me. What is important is that I know in ten minutes or so a few tickets will end up going back on sale and available to click on.


Productivity 101

As luck would have it I learned about the gig just after 4pm. I spent about a minute on Twitter reading the complaints and then I headed back to my Banquet Records account where for the next ten minutes I sat at my desk, repeatedly pressing Command + R and constantly refreshing the sales page.

With my local knowledge I was able to respond appropriately. It allowed me to resist complaining helplessly that I'd missed my chance for admission to the gig and focus on my new job. My new job was picking up a return as quickly as possible before the sale did eventually conclude.

Over and over the screen would refresh with nothing to show for it. Then after a little while it began to show an odd ticket or two had become available.

I would quickly move my mouse over to the fresh link and click, only to be notified that the product was not available. I guess someone else got lucky with that one. 

This happened again and again and again. Numerous times the screen refreshed and tickets would magically present themselves and then just as quickly disappear as they were snapped up, giving those others who also had developed the habit of refreshing at the right times an unfair advantage. Remember that there were almost a 100,000 other visitors who were looking for a ticket. 

But crucially how many of them had local knowledge and were willing to hang around, staying put and constantly refreshing the page? Very few I bet. And that gave me an edge. An unfair advantage. 

I probably didn't merit this unfair advantage. I didn't get it from being more clever or quicker or better or more deserving in any way than anyone else. I didn't get it from having a more successful career or being loaded.

Some Twitter complainers thought tickets were being held back for the wealthy hoi polloi. I'm not a billionaire but it's not a lack of money holding people back from getting these tickets. My success came solely from having a tiny bit of local knowledge, that if you have anyone can benefit.

And also then having the patience and guile to act on that knowledge. Maybe some might see searching out that edge as being a touch entrepreneurial or having extra motivation. Maybe an unfair advantage in your career or personal life will be more likely if you have an entrepreneur mindset AND local information working in tandem.


Insanely Unfair

I got six tickets in the end. Four using my account and two in my wife's account.

One for me and my wife who really does love a bit of Stormzy, showcasing our habit of supporting our favourite artists together. Plus two tickets for both my daughters to go with a friend each.

A brilliant result and from a certain point of view expressed on Twitter, insanely unfair. And it’s all down to that little bit of information about how the sales process works. 

Where else can local knowledge give you an edge?

Are You Missing A Trick?

My dad was a policeman in York for thirty four years and he knows every street in the city. This helps him when he's driving round the busy roads, allowing him to barrel down lesser known shortcuts when the usual routes clog up. 

It also helped both of us when we headed into town for a beer a few years ago. There’s one incredibly small pub called The Blue Bell that he took me to.

We arrived at the entrance and I was dismayed to see a sign stuck on the door that read, “Private function this evening. Guests only. Sorry no public.

My dad blithely ignored this, walked up and straight through the door. I followed him into the smallest pub I’ve ever encountered.

“What's with the sign on the door?” I asked.

“That’s always there,” he laughed. “The locals don’t want tourists clogging this place up do they?”

Local knowledge is a strength and sometimes it's also a secret code!


Achieve The Best Results

Local knowledge means you know where to get the best cup of tea, buy the best sausages and who provides the best bike maintenance service.

A share moving from small cap status down to micro cap might mean nothing at face value. But if you also know that Funds that hold that stock have rules that mean they cannot hold micro cap companies then you also know they will have to sell their holdings at the end of the month. Regardless of the health of the share. That’s local knowledge.

With your knowledge you could maybe foresee that this could well occur, sell at a high price* and then when the price drops because of the forced selling you can pick up the same healthy stocks at a lower price.

Local knowledge means you know when the yellow stickers come out at Waitrose and when the meat counter does the big reductions.

Everyone knows how to use Excel a bit. But only a handful in each company know more than a couple of formulas. Or how to use pivot tables. Or how to employ conditional formatting. That's local knowledge and it can give you an edge. More than that and hey presto, you're an expert!


My Favourite Productivity Advice

This Top Tip is a suggestion to elevate your own local knowledge and give yourself an unfair advantage.

This is one of my favourite tips to get ahead actually, because there are so many things you can apply it to, the reward is something you're bound to enjoy and learning what you need to give you that competitive edge never feels like hard work. 

And let's be honest, in all likelihood you'd probably enjoy finding a way to exercise your creativity and get the upper hand. It can be fun knowing that you're creating an unfair playing field without having to cheat and just taking a more intelligent route to success.

It's about doing things a little bit smarter, finding a fun life hack and being able to avoid the innumerable disadvantages that people without your local knowledge might have.

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to think of a topic area in which you could improve the knowledge that could give you an unfair advantage. 

Perhaps something that could help you to become a KPI - Key Person of Influence - in your chosen profession. Nuggets of knowledge that could help you stand out from the crowd.

Or maybe it could be snippets of information that have no other purpose than to satiate your own curiosity. Whatever it is enjoy gathering the intel and have fun leveraging it into your very own unfair advantage.

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