Typing this out on my flight from Manila to Hong Kong….airplanes always get me to be a bit “reflectional” (emotional in a way)…maybe its that humming sound as the plane zips through the air, transitioning from one destination to another.
Tonight I’m reflecting that I’m so happy to have met Gillian Muessig Founder and president of SEOmoz.org back in 2009 at a TimeV China SEO conference. Since then I have tried my best to keep her up to date with my business developments. Touching base with her a couple months ago led me to attending the digitalfilipino E-commerce summit, and getting some quality catch up time with her.
Yes, you heard this right….there are times you have to selectively eliminate clients that are not giving you a ROI and/or causing you and your firm stress. I’ve also read this in the 4 hour work week, that you need to focus on important clients, constantly firing bad clients. Just because someone is a customer doesn’t mean they are a good customer. And especially in the service industry, you need to
This came up because I’m dealing with a new e-commerce consulting client where I’ve already invested at least 2 weeks of my time and some of my team’s time….without payment upfront (stupid, stupid, stupid I know…I got pushed around) and he keeps pushing more and more of my team to pick up where it says clearly in the contract it is not my responsibility.
I fired him and, at the request of Gillian, I CC’d my team on the project and BCC’d her.
Protecting Your Team
In a continuation of the above “firing your client”, its also about protecting your team from these bad projects. Having bad clients puts a bad stress and strain on your team…and therefore makes everyone’s life less interesting. It will cause a “bad vibe” in the company, and when I am upset about the project and show it to my staff…this will make me look bad.
My job as the “boss” is to protect the company team from getting entangled in bad deals and bad clients. I am their “shepard”.
Also note, by CCing my team when I fire a client, it demonstrates I am protecting them.
Dealing with Poachers & Trolls
Business can get dirty sometimes. And when someone, especially your consulting client, tries to poach your staff, YOU LAY DOWN THE LAW immediately. As we said above, firing your client, as well as protecting your team come into play.
Gillian gave some examples of trolls (people who hide their identity and leave nasty blog comments) and poachers (people who try to recruit your trained staff away from you) that gave me some perspective, as well made me realize its not just me dealing with this stuff. But she says I have to be more aggressive to show these people I am not going to put up with it, and also show my team that I am protecting them,
Building Confidence in your Team
By following those pointers above, you should show your team that you are a leader who will represent them well. Money isn’t everything to an employee…and if it is, then that isn’t a staff you should have on your team.
Over time, your team will enjoy working in your firm, and even if there are chances where they get better offers at other firms, they will not as easily consider leaving if they are confidence in the leadership of their current company.
Attracting Quality People To Your Team
If outsiders see you have confidence, and a happy and effective team, more people will want to join you – as customers, as suppliers, as staff. It all starts with protecting your team and building confidence that you have vision and will lead them down the best path.
Be More Confident Michael, don’t forget where you came from
“You have knowledge & experience very few have”, Gillian keeps banging that into my head every time I meet her or have a call with her. I remember during my taxi ride to the Manila airport with her feeling like I am losing base of being an American….she says I cannot lose that, that I need to remember where I came from, my family, my heritage, my ideals….if I lose that…then I am nothing. I got a bit emotional…but I agree. Maybe I need to take more trips to see USA and my family, to keep my bearings straight?
Maybe one reason I like SEO is because customers find me, they contact me. I don’t have to go out pushing for customers. I am humble, I don’t like to boast. I have to change…I have to find a happy medium that I can accept.
Don’t Bargain on Price, You Are Not a Commodity
Yes, even in China I shouldn’t bargain my price. Be the diamond, not the glass.
Another part to add, that is a bit outside of the CEO coaching developments with Gillian is during my talks with Leon here in Manila. He noticed during our e-commerce team building session that I am being too nice trying to accommodate everyone as we build out a new plan for management and scalability. But I do want to keep people happy.
LEON MADE AN AWESOME POINT. That he has worked with “nice clients” who take such good care of their staff and everyone else around them, that they end up not making money, and therefore having to let the whole team go….and normally “out of nowhere” to the knowledge of the staff….as they are used to seeing the nice side of the boss, never seeing any alerts or stressed passed down to them…just all of a sudden one day the operations are dead.
….that hit me a bit, because I have done that before closing my Shenzhen office back in mid 2010
I can feel myself changing after this Manila trip…when I arrive back in Shenzhen…I have a list of things to do to focus myself, the company, and personal development growth.