Stop worrying about what other people might think

A colleague of mine, Ian Brodie, writes a good email story. I’d thoroughly recommend checking him out. He sent an email out late last week telling a story which really hit home.

I care passionately about what people think about me and the things I’m associated with, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. However, I think you can worry too much – which is Ian’s story:

So, about 20 minutes or so into a webinar I was running for Momentum Club members yesterday on “How To Win High End Clients” and our doorbell rings…

It’s my parents. They’ve been visiting and have just come back from a vist to the shops. The doorbell rings again. The kids are supposed to answer the door but they don’t. Probably up in the loft on the Xbox. The doorbell rings again. I can’t leave my parents out in the cold so I have to apologise to the webinar attendees and head off to let them in.

A rather quiet 10 seconds later and I’m back on the webinar feeling rather embarrassed.

The idea that you could be perceived as ever so slightly unprofessional, don’t have a butler to answer the door on your behalf or hadn’t arranged for your parents to be more organised would have hurt me too. But guess what, you’re human…So, how did Ian respond?

I quickly realised that nothing bad actually happened. I’m pretty certain that no one on the webinar suddenly started thinking “well, Ian was talking sense about winning high end clients. But now he’s answered the door he doesn’t seem quite so credible”.

Like most people, I worry rather too much about my “image”.  About looking professional. Not having any hiccups. Sometimes caring about our image holds us back. We never finish that great article about a topic we think is important because we’re worried what other people might think.

Ian closes his email with some sage advice.

The truth is that if people like you, you have useful insights to share, and you do your very best to help them; then they won’t really care if you have the odd hiccup. In fact it kind of adds to your appeal. You’re fallible like them. Don’t let wanting to “look professional” hold you back.

My take?

Your Personal Brand is everything – how people perceive you, how they describe you when you’re not there will eventually determine your success as a coach or consultant. However, you can take this to extremes. Being human, is also important. No one likes to work with a robot.

It’s actually OK to tell people, “no – I’m picking my children up from school then”… or “no – I’m afraid I don’t work weekends” or “no – I can’t fit that in (you should have been more organised) I’ve other clients ahead in the queue…” Chances are they will respect you more for being human and for being honest.

It’s good to remind yourself once in a while that you can’t and shouldn’t be looking to please everyone all the time.

Thanks for that reminder Ian.

One of the best questions to ask your clients

I love working with smart people. It’s inspiring.

I’m working with someone at the moment who gets selling. He gets how to get inside buyers’ heads and he gets the concept of talking a buyer’s language and really – I mean – really figuring out what they are looking for in a service.

Adrian Evans is an author, headhunter and career coach and we’re in the middle of building something rather awesome for one of his clients. I know it’s awesome, because it’s going to be solving their problems and is really giving them something which they don’t have today which will move them forwards as a business.

How do I know all of this? Because he has asked just the right question before we even started.

“How will you judge this?”

So simple, yet genius.

He has got his client to lay out to him their success criteria, how they will feel when it’s right, how their senior management will react to something and what they’re expecting from a deliverable in one simple question.

I love it and I will be using it myself in the days and weeks to come.

The screenshot by the way is taken from the ‘thing’ we’re developing (logo blurred). That studio isn’t real by the way – it’s all done using the magic of greenscreen. You’ll find out more here.

If you don’t ask, you don’t get – part 2

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post called if you don’t ask, you don’t get. It contained a bunch of different examples of some surprising cases of people asking, and much to their surprise, getting what they asked for.

I thought it was time to start practicing what I was preaching.

My principle business, 8:45TV is a video production business. Once in a while, I have to get stuck in to an edit, despite having fabulous and far more talented people around me. It was time for an upgrade a couple of weeks ago. I’d had Adobe’s Premiere 5.5 for a couple of years and wanted to treat myself to the upgrade to v6. It seemed to be worth the money.

So – having done my research, I bought the upgrade from the Adobe website.

I own Adobe Premiere Pro 5.5 – therefore an upgrade here in the UK to v6 costs £112.00

Having downloaded the product, I’m prompted to enter the previous serial number, which I do, however it refuses to let me activate the software.

I get on the chat helpdesk, which is pretty good, and after I described the situation, I realised I own the Adobe Production Suite 5.5 (which contains Premiere Pro and is rather an expensive piece of software) however, there is no allowable upgrade path for just one of the products within it.

Really?

Is this licensing gone mad?

Here I am, giving Adobe £112 for a piece of software (incremental revenue with no costs to them) and yet due to a technicality, they won’t license it. The operator said I’d be entitled to a refund and explained how I should go about it.

I was cross.

And so fell back on the “If you don’t ask, you don’t get post“, and decided to test out not only that concept, but Adobe’s responsiveness to customer service – as let’s be honest, most corporates fail dismally.

Adobe does not.

I Tweeted the following…

Within 48 minutes, a very nice lady named Beverley had been in touch. She asked me for the order details and followed up with an email.

Within 15 hours, Adobe had bent their own rules for me. They’d seen sense, and someone somewhere had been empowered to make a customer happy, and importantly, both sides won.

I’m writing this post to firstly thank the nice Adobe people (who do get a bad press around licensing) and to show the proof of my own hypothesis – around the whole asking and getting thing.

The moral of the story is… Don’t get mad – try asking the right question, and you just never know…

Go on – give it a go.

The inspirational pinboard #7 – Winston Churchill

“Success isn’t final, failure isn’t fatal; It is the courage to continue that counts.”

An inspirational Winston Churchill quote.

Have a plan. Have a vision. Have a purpose.

Know where you’re heading and then focus relentlessly on those goals whilst helping others achieve theirs.

Only then, will you more easily be able to face the knockdowns and the hurdles that you will encounter along the way. That ‘courage to continue’ he talks about will then flow naturally through you.

I dare you to give it a go.

Click here to download the A4 pinboard poster.

Original photograph and words by Mark Copeman

Do one thing, and do it well

Last Wednesday night was pretty special. My wife and I headed up to London, on a school night, children kindly looked after, to attend a rather emotional awards ceremony.

After the ceremony, to say we needed food would be an understatement and we were fortunate enough to stumble across a very nice looking restaurant, just round from Farringdon station in Central London. It’s called Byron Hamburgers.

Until that point, we’d never heard of it, yet it turns out to be a rather successful chain of restaurants, and from what I can see is only available in rather well to do (Kings Road, Oxford, Putney) places. And why not – I think it’s to do with knowing your market.

I absolutely loved this place. It looked stunning, the staff were great and the food was excellent. It also turned out to be their very first night of opening – 2 nights before their official opening night on the Friday. We lucked out in a big way – we were presented the bill and the food was free. That was a surprise – and I’d hereby love to thank the Byron team for that unexpected and rather wonderful surprise, but that’s not the reason I’m writing this post.

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The reason I’m writing it is because of the final reason I loved the place.

The marketing.

Like all the best things in life – it was simple and straightforward:

“Do one thing and do it well.”

Possibly my single biggest challenge in life.

If they had said, “Put your eggs in multiple baskets and spread yourself so thin it hurts”, I wouldn’t have written this post, instead I would have smiled and barely noticed it – because it would have been a little too close to the truth for comfort.

Instead, it resonated somewhat.

Byron Hamburgers have grown from zero to 29 restaurants in 5 years.

How have they done it? By focusing on one thing, and doing it well.

I’m going to start taking a leaf out of their book. It won’t be easy – but I have a plan.

Do you?

PS Their video is rather awesome too – check it out below.

Byron_film from Byron Hamburgers on Vimeo.