What I Have Learned From Clients

I’ve been self-employed for 18 years now, and I truly love being self- employed. What I love about it, though, may really surprise you.Key to Success It’s not just the freedom to work when and where I want to work. Or even the chance to work on a variety of projects. Or even how much I learn about my client’s products and services as I am helping them choose the best solution for their needs. Although all of those factors weigh in, there is something way more powerful about the work that I do with my clients.

What I love most about being self-employed is helping my clients figure out what they REALLY want and seeing their delight when the solution exceeds their expectations!

Having worked with big Fortune 100 companies and teeny-tiny startups, with mid-level managers and C-level executives, I have seen over and over that MOST clients have no idea what they really want.

That may seem shocking, but when clients contact me they THINK they know what they want. They ask for it directly. Then, I begin to ask them intelligent questions on how they want their idea implemented, and I really listen. I connect the dots and make sure I am understanding them correctly. That is often where the disconnect is revealed, if there is one (or more). Yes, professional butts have been saved. Repeatedly.

If they had hired a less-experienced person, then they would have gotten only what they requested, and would find out later that it was money wasted (for design and materials implementation). Heads would have rolled.

Some of my clients have been shocked when, upon realizing a disconnect so large it didn’t make sense for them to hire me, I suggested they use another vendor. I am not sure why this surprises clients. Why wouldn’t I do that? I am building long-term relationships with my clients! Steering them in the wrong direction just so I can make money would be short-sighted. Making sure my clients are successful is a win-win that helps everyone.

In addition, I pride myself in being professional, skilled, resourceful, reliable, and a huge asset to the clients who hire me. Creating a long-term, positive relationship with them is also a reason why they speak so highly of me. You can read some of their testimonials here. When you do, ask yourself: do we feel this good about the creative person we hire?

Embracing the Power of Nice

Have you always believed the adage that “nice guys finish last”? If so, you might enjoy reading this book and it may even change your mind.

Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval are CEO and President, respectively, of the the Kaplan Thaler Group in NYC. In 2006, these advertising execs published a book entitled, The Power Of Nice: How to Conquer the Business World with Kindness.

As a person who is often told I am “too nice”, I took notice of this book when I saw the authors discussing the book in a YouTube video. When I found the book at my local library, I decided to read it for myself.

One of the first things I realized when I started Barry-Jansson & Associates in 1994 is that business is personal and true success doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Businesses grow because of people (inside through employees and outside through customers). Therefore, operating with kindness and respect, and following the golden rule is more important to your business success than you may realize. In an age where competition seems cutthroat and egos want to be in control, it may be tempting to get in line with this behavior, but it won’t help your business.

Across 10 chapters in this small book, the authors share real-life examples where being nice or choosing kindness over other options made a big difference. It reminds us that the nice stories are rarely on the nightly news and often not shared in the work environment. With so many positive stories, the book is very uplifting, and many chapters end with suggested exercises to practice ways of being nicer. For example, getting out of the habit of gossiping, looking for things you can appreciate about even the most difficult people, finding the courage to be honest. I have enjoyed reading this book and am even more convinced that being nice is very good for business.

Listen to Linda and Robin explain it in their own words:
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yOkqXBZT1w?rel=0&w=420&h=315]

Have you read this book, or do you have examples where being nice helped your business? Share your thought and stories below…