Who First Said “There is No Such Thing as a Free Lunch”?

Patricia Fripp at Recent Speech Coaching Camp with Coachee
Patricia Fripp at Recent Speech Coaching Camp with Coachee Dave Chase

Who first said, “There is no such thing as a free lunch”?

One of my UK speaker pals is Derek Arden. This July he was kind enough to drive me from Heathrow airport to Dorset for the start of my amazing vacation seeing family and friends. Derek has invited me to speak at the PSA (Professional Speaking Association) convention in October of 2014. This is the National Speakers Association’s sister organization in the UK. Derek made major points towards his goal of getting me to commit. Since then I am reading his newsletter called quite simply, Derek Arden’s Executive Briefing.

I hope you will be as interested as I am in this excerpt from Derek’s newsletter. How often do we repeat a well-known quote without knowing who first said it? Most of us never even wonder! Enjoy:

Derek Arden, Speaker, Author, Professional Negotiation Mentor, and Body Language Expert
Derek Arden, Professional Speaker, Author, Negotiation Mentor, and Body Language Expert

“We were in the Lake District last week and visited Brantwood near Coniston, the home of John Ruskin. John Ruskin is famous for many things as a 19th Century industrialist and philanthropist. For me I like his quote, “There is no such thing as a free lunch”, which I heard many years ago.The quote has stuck with me in my business dealings and my negotiations ever since. Nothing is free, there is a cost to everything and whatever appears free will be in the package. One of the reasons that giving things to people, whether they are a gift or throwing items in to sweeten a deal is; they create an obligation in the mind of the recipient, that they owe you something back.

In the psychology of influence, giving items or time unconditionally, for no charge is called reciprocity. People use reciprocity to create obligations. Manipulative people do it all the time – beware, if it “doesn’t smell right”, it probably isn’t right. After all  – if it is too good to be true – it probably is too good to be true.

The nicest way for us to use reciprocity, is to be the first person to buy the coffee or the drinks. Alternatively just put yourself out for the customer – many people never think to do that.

When I worked in banking often some of the clients used to give gifts at Christmas to their bank manager. The proper thing for the manager to do was to write back to the client thanking them for the gift and saying it would be distributed amongst the staff. This was as long as the item was only a small gift and something that could not be described as a bribe. (We now have the bribery Act 2011, thank goodness). If the gift was large, like I received a couple of times, the only thing to do was to return it immediately and say “We are not allowed to take gifts, thank you; but those are the rules”. This also told me something about the integrity of the customer!!!

My coaching clients include corporate leaders, celebrity speakers, well-known sports and media personalities, and sales teams. You can learn many of the public speaking secrets I share with my executive speech coaching clients with my online learning on Powerful, Persuasive Presentations FrippVT