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Flattery will get you everywhere - thanks Catherine!
2 weeks ago on Online Marketing: What Not to Do
@wroehovey Eloquently said Wendy! (For those who don't know this commenter, Wendy Roe Hovey was my mentor as a therapist, is well-respected in the community here, and is the font of all wisdom.)
4 months, 1 week ago on Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway? Not so Fast.
@jshuey I like your framework a lot - and I really like Marcus Buckingham. Realistic optimism is awesome in my book. Buckingham is a strong proponent of positive psychology, which has nothing whatsoever with positive thinking. (The former has an Ivy League research center and a strong evidence base, the latter is generally the domain of motivational speakers and the like.) Thanks!
7 months, 3 weeks ago on Escaping the Positive Thinking Trap
@TheRelationshipInsider Yes!! The cover is incredibly important. And, by corollary, the title: for example, when Tim Ferriss came up with "The Four Hour Workweek," his work was more than half done in my view. Both are a good metaphor for how we package any product or service.
1 year, 1 month ago on Going By the Book
Great post! As for #3, my secret is that I always work on a time-and-materials basis. If I'm, say, ghostwriting a book or developing a training intervention, I quote my hourly rate with an accurate project estimate, shake their hand, and tell them that they can use me for as few or as many hours as they wish. (Usually it's many.)
Yes, I know, you can probably pack more added value in a project estimate. But those few times I've been talked into fixed-cost projects, I have always - always - lived to regret it. Hourly or daily rates = happy clients and happy consultants!
1 year, 1 month ago on 6 Kinds of Nightmare Clients
@TheRelationshipInsider Good point Sheryl, and one that has an important cultural context as well: in some parts of the world, having a senior person present the apology is considered an necessary sign of respect. Thank you!
1 year, 2 months ago on How Not to Apologize
@writeahead Thank you! And P.S. feel free to send them the article :).
@PointA_PointB You're the best Catherine! And it never ceases to amaze me that there are people out there who get paid to write these stilted, infuriating apologies. One of my favorite topics. Thanks!
@marylynn3 That's horrible! Travel is often the worst offender, because it is so stressful to begin with - and sadly people aren't always trained to do good service recovery. I would react exactly the same way. Thank you so much for your kind words!
@TheRelationshipInsider Excellent point, and I totally agree with you!
I may have put the emphasis on the wrong syl-la-ble here. Learning new skills and mastering new areas is awesome. My advice is aimed at people who hold themselves back, or put themselves down, because of some perceived weakness - not realizing that we all have them, even in our chosen professions.
I remember one classmate in engineering school - never met him personally - but every year my alumni news would talk about how he would keep trying to do standup comedy, public access TV, etc. while working as an engineer. How did that end up? He became Bill Nye the Science Guy. He succeeded in his way, and I'd like to see everyone succeed in theirs too. Thanks for some very thoughtful comments!
1 year, 3 months ago on Your Slice of the Pie
The dirty secret of small business is that they often can't think like customers, and then wonder why they stay small. Too bad, they're off my list too.
1 year, 4 months ago on How to Gain and Lose a Customer in 24 Hours
This blog should be framed on everyone's wall.
1 year, 4 months ago on Making Your Dreams Happen
@TheRelationshipInsider Nicely played!
1 year, 5 months ago on Let's Call Off the Engagement
I recently read the best book (besides The Entrepreneur Equation of course :) about this - "So Good They Can't Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love" by Cal Newport.
Beyond your solid point that passion often equals failed businesses, he claims following your passion doesn't make you happy either. He looks at people who followed their bliss, joined monasteries, etc. and were, in fact, less happy than when they started. His prescription (and mine): succeed by getting really, really good at something of value. Great blog!
1 year, 6 months ago on Too Many Entrepreneurs Drink the Passion Flavored Kool-aid
@TheRelationshipInsider You've nailed it perfectly! Especially the last sentence: to me, the key isn't trying to justify higher prices, it's to build such great client relationships that supply-and-demand raises your prices for you. Thanks!
1 year, 6 months ago on Getting a Premium Price: Communications Secrets of the High Earners
@writeahead Thanks writeahead! I presume you are a writer, and I am also (mostly ghostwriting and editing, when I am not speaking). Here is what is ironic: I personally am very noncompetitive -- and therefore do not price myself aggressively high -- but over time, great service and great client relationships have naturally pushed me past the low-end competition. When you are strongly solution-focused your *clients* put you in a better price bracket, because you are too busy to do otherwise. So good luck and let nature take its course!
You are the best - great recommendations - thanks Lou!
1 year, 8 months ago on Your Holiday Video Shopping List
@PointA_PointB @wesley koelewijn @gallagherPOC Totally varies with the couple. I've even heard of people divorcing and *then* starting a business together! Good for you Wesley that it's working well. My wife's parents ran a family business productively as well. As for me? I joke about getting to kiss the vice-president every morning, but in reality I pretty much run the show (and she is retired and gets to chuckle at me).
1 year, 9 months ago on What Bickering Couples and Business Partners Have in Common
*Great* post. And a key point is to never presume that someone is an extrovert because they are outgoing. When I was a corporate manager and administered personality tests to my team, the most back-slappy types often turned out to be introverts. When people meet my wife and I - she is affable and articulate like me - few would ever guess that I am an alpha extrovert and she is an alpha introvert, but we react very differently to the same social situations. A lesson for all of us: read people and follow their lead about how much contact they are comfortable with.
1 year, 9 months ago on Networking for Introverts
Wow - this is sooo on-target. So many consulting firms say they will empower your vision and vision your empowerment - and they should all read this blog. Thanks Steve!
1 year, 11 months ago on There Is No Audience For 50 Shades of Grey Marketing
Great article as always Catherine!
Here is my contrarian view. In 15 years of consulting, I have never been stiffed once (!), but especially since the 2008 crash, lots of otherwise nice people have been slow-rolling their invoices. I am always carrying around a lot of receivables, and joke that my epitaph will read "net 90." :) My view is that my flexibility lets me keep a lot of great client relationships - who eventually always pay - that other people couldn't have.
I believe if you are going to consult for major organizations (especially, cough, a certain North American government), it's prudent to have a few months living expenses in the bank - or your retirement fund - or whatever - so that you don't panic through a few extra weeks of "the check is being sent shortly, heh, heh." To paraphrase Wayne Gretzky, you need to be able to be checked into the boards once in a while to play this game.
Or better yet, have a cash-up-front business like yours (or my part-time therapy practice, where people usually show up with payment in hand) and not have to worry about it. Thanks!
2 years ago on I’m Your Consultant, Not Your Lender
@PointA_PointB Fascinating point Catherine- notice how much more willing people are to admit wrongdoing when you are sympathetic! That's why empathy is actually a very powerful interrogation technique (think of the "good cop, bad cop" approach). P.S. Great to meet you this week!
2 years, 1 month ago on Customer Service: How to Banish Negative Customers Forever
Love this Adrian. Agree 100%. Just to expand your last point a bit: what is fundamentally "in it" for your part-timers?
Years ago I was one of 70 volunteers on a suicide prevention crisisline. What could possibly motivate that many people to go through 100 hours of training and give up 15-20 hours a month? Almost all were wannabe therapists, including me. So appealing to helping others didn't get them anywhere near as far as offering skills, continuing education, and good recommendations to grad school - all cost free but high value to us.
In my neck of the woods in upstate NY, the Wegmans grocery chain is famous for offering scholarships, a big deal for its army of high school employees. So what adds value to your part-timers and volunteers, besides helping you?
2 years, 1 month ago on Be a Part-Timer Lover
@Lena_M Sadly you are right Lena - and if you look at even some recent books and articles on selling, some people clearly haven't gotten the memo about being invasive. Thanks!
2 years, 1 month ago on Why I Don’t Read Your E-mails
@rdopping Great point Ralph, and a subtle one at that: even *good* advice isn't always welcome. (Think of, say, your parents telling you what you should do about something.) Michael Port makes the case about "being there when someone is ready to buy," and that is my philosophy too. Thanks!
@philgerb Hey, appreciate your kind words Phil! You put it so well about being "real" faster. I am always trying to frame things as clearly as you do! Thanks and take care.
Oooh, my favorite subject - great blog! Agree 100%.
I'll add my two cents: to me, the most important skill in handling difficult customers is to *hear* them and to *get* them. One of the greatest discoveries since relativity is that you can acknowledge people even when you don't agree with them. This gives you more power, not less, even when you enforce boundaries, charge more, or fire them. (P.S. I'm talking to you readers, not Carol - she gets this!)
I truly believe that almost any difficult customer can be calmed down and worked with. And a lot of it simply boils down to linguistics. Good stuff here.
2 years, 2 months ago on Customer Service: 4 Easy Ways to Deal with Difficult Customers
@Lena_M Good point about collaboration versus competition Lena, I agree - these are part of a common core philosophy. Thank you for some very thoughtful comments!
2 years, 2 months ago on The Prima Donna Factor
@philsimon Depends Phil. Some people want a little editing and polishing, some want an entire turnkey book. It's like any other labor-intensive product produced by humans. Most of my clients have been executives where time is more important to them than money. Thanks!
@HilaryMarsh Thanks Hilary! You "get" this. I believe everyone would be collaborative instead of competitive, if they realized how profitable it was.
2 years, 2 months ago on Competitor Schmetitor
Great article Jim. I hope you spur more people to take the leap and get into print. A lot of people don't realize that in many fields nowadays - public speaking for one - there is no stigma at all for being a self-published author. And you raise very good points about rights and profits, especially when you have good sales channels. There are some real success stories being made in self-publishing nowadays.
That said, I want to chime in with Carol on a deeper and often unspoken issue - how people perceive your book. Look at most royalty published books, and then look at many self-published books. See a quality difference? I often do. While for many of you reading this, I am sure that *your* book is excellent, you may confront the perception that you *had* to self-publish - for exactly the same reason that most of the music on your iPod is from major labels and not unsigned indie artists. If you want to sell books in the thousands, get reviewed in Businessweek or on CNN, or have the Fourth Estate pay serious attention to you, it is often a lot easier with the channels and connections of a royalty publisher.
When people quote-unquote "can't get a book contract," it might be the market's way of saying that they need to keep writing and learning. Mere mortals can and do get contracts if they study the market, understand the genre they are writing in, and keep polishing their writing chops. Almost everyone I know who is serious and professional about landing a book contract eventually gets there. My publisher is always *looking* for good projects, even as most of what they receive frankly doesn't cut it. So by all means choose self-publishing if it works for you, but understand the pros and cons on both sides.
2 years, 3 months ago on Should I Self-Publish or Get a Book Deal?
@PointA_PointB Yes, me! That's what I love about this blog - how often do you think Forbes or BusinessWeek would categorize people as "having their head up their ass"? Great post.
2 years, 3 months ago on 3 Entrepreneurs You Never Want to Meet
@rosemaryoneill I agree (and am surprised) about the surprise part. One radio host once said that I was the only guest to *ever* write him a thank you note (and had me back on again ASAP). Thank you for your kind words Rosemary!
2 years, 3 months ago on The Most Profitable Thing That You Will Ever Write
@skooloflife I feel you (and the book) have hit the real purpose of this - the connections you build with people. How often do we get to see the great things in other people, and then say something about it? Thank you!
@AntonyBerkman Thank you Antony!
Great post! Here's my "worst" story, from back in corporate life. My company sends me to train in Germany. I get picked up at 10:30 AM in Stuttgart for a 2 PM talk in Munich. We arrive an hour late after driving 100 MPH on the autobahn. No one there. Why? "Sir, the materials never arrived from America." No problem, I say, I can photocopy my set. "Sorry, the copier is broken." OK, so where is everyone? "They are all off having a bier ..."
The materials did arrive the next day and we were off to the races. But I still smile about my first international speaking gig. Thanks Catherine!
2 years, 3 months ago on So, You Want to Be a Speaker?
@Rob Thomson_RiverHomes I agree, Rob, that is the real key - being extremely good at what you do. Especially in your business, where your customers are going to live for years in what you are selling. Thanks!
2 years, 4 months ago on My Secret Sales Weapon
@ElaineJoli Perfect! This is exactly where the rubber meets the road. I can't tell you how many times I tell people that I know a better speaker on X topic, that I am a ghostwriter but there are better speechwriters, etc.- and over the years these multiply into long-term relationships with respect and credibility on both sides. (And as a bonus, the people I refer others to often return the favor.) Nicely played!
@Louisa Leontiades Wow - love this! Great minds think alike. Sounds like you have a great sales consultant, who in turn has a great boss. Thanks!
@Wayne Spivak @SBAConsult Go Wayne! I feel hiring is far and away the most important place to be authentic, on both sides. (As a longtime hiring manager, I often say people rarely if ever "blow" interviews, because their goal is to accurately see who you are.) I bet your hires are "keepers." Thanks!
@rosemaryoneill Nailed it perfectly Rosemary - you are selling your integrity first. Thanks!
This is the most accurate description of social media I have ever seen!
2 years, 4 months ago on Social Media: It Can Help Your Business Suck Faster
Excellent post, Chris - and nice link at the end. Just want to chime in that depression is a *treatable* problem, and getting the right kind of help is in my view a matter of good business judgment. You can't simply will it away through strength of character, but most people who seek appropriate treatment feel much better. Thanks!
2 years, 5 months ago on Even the Champions Suffer
@NicoleFende Amen to all of this - thanks!
2 years, 5 months ago on You’re Hired! (But I May Never Pay You)
Great article Nicole!
Here is my contrarian view. Lots of my clients are big organizations (corporations, a certain North American government, etc.). They *always* pay me. And they *always* pay late. Net 30 often means "wait two months for the contract to get all four signatures, then we will 'process' your invoice in a month, then maybe a month later we will tiptoe over to the mailbox with your check."
Meanwhile, the people I am actually doing the work for have little control over either their deadlines or their bureaucracy. So my choices are to play, or let the gig go to someone more flexible. So the way I see it, my reward for waiting patiently is often good long-term customer relationships and lots more work!
So here's Rich's corollary to Nicole's (great) tests: if the client is big or dependable enough, you might thoughtfully *choose* to be a pushover in some cases and build your market share. Thanks!
@wilsondan Good catch Dan! Although I could have technically been thinking of an insurance company ... :)
2 years, 6 months ago on How to Infuriate Your Customers with Purple Prose
@PointA_PointB Thank you Catherine! The pleasure's all mine. Here is what truly amazes me: *we* get it - why don't the people who write these bon mots? Thanks!
@PointA_PointB@philgerb Cool!! Love your stuff, welcome to the club Phil!
2 years, 7 months ago on The Company You Keep
Amen Catherine - great blog, and honored to be among *your* company!