Les Gold’s Book

For What It's Worth: Les GoldAs a third-generation pawnbroker, Les Gold grew up in the business, dealing with customers who could be unruly and violent as often as they were friendly. He became good at selling just about anything and at buying items for what they were worth.

In For What It’s Worth: Business Wisdom from a Pawnbroker (Portfolio, June 13, 2013), Gold takes you inside some of his weirdest, wackiest deals and steals. From the monkey his dad once took in to pawn to the deal he made for a stripper pole, Gold has no boundaries for what he considers to be part of his business. You can hear more of his stories in a recent TED Talk.

Readers will learn:

How to tell an emotional story when you’re selling—and take emotion out of the transaction when you’re buying

Why judging your customers before you know them can kill a potential deal

How to deal with risk, both mental and physical

How to communicate with employees (even if they’re your own kids)


Les Gold owns the fifty-thousand-square-foot American Jewelry and Loan, which serves more than 250 customers in Detroit every hour. He also stars in the truTV reality show Hardcore Pawn, now in its seventh season, with more than 3 million weekly viewers. Les is available for speaking events and training — learn more at his SPEAKERS PAGE.

Quotes from the Book

Business Wisdom from a Pawnbroker

  • Today, the grandson of a onetime rag picker and the son of the sometime pool hustler, I’m running a million-dollar business and starring in a reality TV show. It’s amazing what you can do in this country if you’re willing to work hard and smart. America was built by entrepreneurs, and it still rewards those who have the initiative, drive, and commitment to build something new.
    Les Gold
  • Make it easy for people to do business with you. Know your business inside and out. Know what happens when the customer walks in your door. Know what your competitors are doing and what you’re going to do differently. And most important, know what problem your business is solving. Everything else you’re doing is in service to solving that problem.
    Les Gold
  • Not everything is quid pro quo; that doesn’t build trust. The only thing you can do is deserve trust every day. Your reward will come eventually.
    Les Gold
  • Your reputation is ultimately your most important possession. That’s the legacy you’re going to leave when you’re gone. And if you focus on relationships every day, you’’ll end up leaving the legacy you want. The most important thing I can reach the next generation about this business is that its more than dollars and cents. It’s more than profit and loss. Every single deal I make, every single dollar I earn, is a dollar that’s feeding my family and my employees’ families. Love is a fuel that makes my business stronger. And for me, that’s the beauty of a family business.
    Les Gold
  • I hope my story will encourage you to face your fears, risk failure, and let your fears push you forward instead of hold you back. I hope you’re inspired to conquer self doubt and find supportive voices that will help you keep striving. I hope you’ll look for ways to find passion for your work. I hope you’ll be willing to change the rules for yourself. I hope you’ll find the confidence to try to negotiate. I hope that when you hit an obstacle you can’t get past, you won’t give up will figure out a way to get around it. I hope you’ll aways pay as much attention to your reputation as you do to your bottom line. And most of all, I hope my story inspires you to see your work as something more than a way to earn a pay check. You’ll find you actually have more passion for your work when that comes second.
    Les Gold
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