Favors: Momo’s 9 Things You Should Know

Buona sera boys.

Favors. Some people love having them done for them, some people enjoy doing them, and others avoid them like a 200-pound stripper.

Somebody, somewhere, once said that a favor will kill you faster than a bullet (likely with a few bullets lodged in them already). Well, he was right. A favor is a very particular kind of request that means different things to different people.

In Momo's case, when someone says they need a "favor," I don't think of helping them on moving day or lending them my baseball bat. To me a "favor" is a quasi-business transaction, one that requires a repayment of capital and some "vig" (interest). It doesn't have to always involve money to receive a repayment of capital, but I do expect something in return -- and a premium for rendering my services. In my case, people usually know what I expect in return, so it never comes as a surprise to anyone when I ask for my premium.

Why a premium? Because you don't have to do a favor. You don't have to do anything. If you have to do something that involves getting out of your chair to accommodate someone, you should get something back for your time and effort. It's that simple. If a guy doesn't specifically ask you for "payment" (i.e. 10% "vig", first payment due a week from today, principal in three months, etc.), always give one anyways.

If a friend of yours lends you $13.71 for a cappuccino (which is what it will cost you in Milan), you don't give him back $13.71, you give him back a 20. It's repayment and a "thank you" for bailing you out of an almost embarrassing situation where the stacked waitress would've thought you were a "ham-n-egger".

If a friend of yours offers to come over and paint something in your house, you repay him with cash or something equivalent if he's the kind of guy that doesn't like taking cold, hard cash from close friends. This does two things:

  1. You repay your debt and reduce any bad will that is generated when debts are owed.

  2. It shows that you're a classy guy. Don't underestimate the power of class.

A Real Life Example

Let me give you a scenario that recently happened to me to illustrate another point about favors. Let me just preface my little story by saying that the guy asking for a favor was relatively innocent, if not naïve. I didn't think he was trying to disrespect me. He's guilty of being stupid, and not realizing whom he was asking for a favor and what I would expect in return.

On to the story...

Some Joe Blow I barely knew, but who had a reputation as a stand-up guy, contacted an associate of ours about having a "sit-down" to discuss some favor he needed. I agreed and told my associate (Carmine) to set it up at Malio's. Joe Blow was a big fan of Momos from the Ron & Ian Show, and was very excited to meet me in person.

Joe Blow came in with what looked like a box with a bottle of wine. He sat down and told me he needed my connections to get in touch with so and so, so that he can get some business deal done. I listened to what he wanted, offered him some general thoughts and ideas on his business, and then agreed to put him in touch with the people I knew could make good things happen.

Joe Blow was as happy as a little girl with her first training bra, so he shook my hand, handed me a box that contained some really expensive, old, full-bodied Chianti, and said, "This is for you, as a thank you for doing me this favor." The bottle was worth well over a grand.

I told him, "The gesture is nice, but this isn't how things work, Joe Blow. You see, my friend, I don't like to call up my "connections" like they were my bookies and bother them with requests every time some schmoe gets an idea in the shower. If I'm going to cash in one of my chips, I have to make it worth my while. I get 15% of the business if something is worked out with my connections. If nothing happens, I get 5% for my time and my future guidance. Thanks for the bottle by the way, I'll enjoy it."

What I did was lay down the law (and make the guy piss his pants). The message I sent out is, "I am a businessman, I don't waste time with nonsense, and working with me carries a price." I let him know that, in dealing with me, nothing comes for free. I also gave him a life lesson, for free, which basically involves being careful who you ask a favor from.

What happened next? The guy called me a week later saying that his idea was stupid and that he didn't want to do it after all. I can spot a bull-shitter faster than a retired Floridian can spot a lunch buffet special, so I knew he was lying, but I let him off the hook because I knew he was innocent in his mistake. But I wouldn't forgive him a second time.

What You Need To Know

Let's face it; we all need to ask for favors at one point, but most of you fail to think about the consequences of asking for them. Those consequences are pretty obvious when you owe your local bookie a few grand, but it's not as obvious when it isn't a straight cash favor, or the favor involves friends or family.

So here are a few tips I want you to remember when asking for a favor:

  1. A favor must be returned

    There is no such thing as an unreturned favor. Not only are favors returned, but they should be repaid with a premium. If a guy feeds your dog while you're on vacation, you return the favor by feeding his dog and cutting his grass when he's gone. Give him a free lap dance at the Mons Venus too. People have long memories when favors are unreturned.

  2. Remember the favor "premium"

    Take the premium into consideration when you ask for a favor. A favor should be a fraction of what's expected of you in return. If you can't fulfill your obligation, don't ask for one.

  3. When your favor involves money, know what the repayment entails

    If it's friends and family, be a man and a class act, and tell them how often you'll be paying them back, and set a final date for when everything will be paid off. Always include a "premium" even if it's only at the end. If you ask someone outside your immediate circle, expect a strict vig structure and pay up on time, or else...

    "Think long and hard" before you ask, you dumb stronzo...

  4. Consider your options before asking

    Avoid asking for a favor if you really don't need one, or you'll be known as the "moocher." Even if you return every single favor with a premium, people might avoid you because they'll think you want to ask for something.

  5. Return the favor quickly

    Don't carry a favor around like a 90-pound monkey on your ass. Cash your chips while the casino is still open. Return the favor at the very first opportunity you have. You'll love saying "we're even."

  6. Don't ask for favors when you're desperate

    A Wall Street hotshot who has been living the high life and then suddenly finds himself strapped can't go to his Ivy League country club, cafone friends for help. They'll kick him out of their imaginary club like a homeless degenerate. So he'll go to the wrong people for cash to maintain his bullshit lifestyle and next thing you know, he's a permanent resident of the East River.

  7. Negotiate the premium beforehand

    You'll be left with less surprises, and it will help you avoid blackmail and the good old "miscommunication" crap I keep hearing. It will also avoid your having to take on someone's loser niece in your restaurant as part of the repayment plan. It will also let you know where you stand so you can sleep better.

  8. There is no statute of limitations on favors

    If someone does you a favor and you don't repay it, don't think that time makes the favor expire. It doesn't for me. It shouldn't for you, either. Even things that were done for me when I was 14 years old, Momo always remembers and makes sure to repay. Don't be a fool and assume time makes people forget; it just makes them more pissed off.

  9. When favors are owed, friendship is worth less than a penny

    A sure-fire way to lose a friend is by borrowing money without ever getting around to returning his generosity of time and effort. In my business, it's straightforward -- you're only "good for it" for a few weeks before the shit hits the fan and legs get broken. Old time's sake means jack when you owe someone a few Gs from a poker game you got killed in.

That's it. Favors are like matches, don't play with them.

Watch your backs and keep your noses clean. And always remember..."think long and hard" my friends!