How I talked my boss into buying me a camera

...and how you can, too

Click to download the business case.
Click to download the business case.

I must admit I was nervous. Standing in the waiting area outside Chuck’s office, I tried to mask it by making small talk with his secretary, Paula. I’d asked for a meeting with the boss and my unease must have been apparent with my chatter.   

I wanted some new camera and video gear that I couldn’t afford, so I planned to ask Chuck to buy them for me.

I’d worked for him for a couple of years and always found him to be a fair, approachable manager. He was friendly and supportive to everyone on his staff but dispassionate about the numbers. To win Chuck over, I was going to have to make a persuasive, analytical argument that would make sense to him and that he could defend from his boss, should it come to that.

“Good luck!” Paula said as she sent me in.

I settled into the cushy chair in his office and took out the paperwork I had created for our talk.

“What’s going on, Lynford?” he asked, leaning back in his chair. He clasped his hands behind his head as he created his own makeshift headrest.

“Well Chuck, I’ve been thinking about some ways to provide better support to the organization and save us some money along the way,” I began.

“Really...? Tell me more.”

I went through my presentation and paused. He had listened intently, and I could see his brain churning.

“Okay, do it. Put it on the card,” he said.

For a moment, I wasn’t sure what to say. I was prepared for some more back and forth. I was anticipating having to defend why we needed to do this now or why I selected the specific camera equipment on the list.

“Anything else?” his voice jarred me from disbelieving daydream and back into the room.

“No, Chuck. Thanks so much! You’ll see this will be a good decision for us.”

“That’s what I’m counting on,” he said with a smile as I walked out.

I like to joke that early in my career, I talked just about every one of my bosses into buying me a camera. My eyes were bigger than my wallet, so I had to find creative ways of financing my camera wanderlust.

You can do the same thing, too, if you understand three basic tips:

  • When you ask, buying the camera will always be about them, not you.
  • You will have to use it to produce results for them.
  • It can be a situation where you both benefit.

What did I say to Chuck to earn such an easy decision? I laid out the case in a short PDF document. Your argument will break down to these elements:

  • The organization will have a demonstrated, measurable benefit from the increased coverage it will enjoy.
  • If you tried to accomplish the same benefit without purchasing the camera gear, the costs would be significantly greater.
  • The ROI -- both financial and performance-related will make this decision one your boss will never have to regret.

Download the PDF