There’s this saying I cherish “There’s life, and then there’s work”.
Adopted from one of my favorite television characters EVER, Don Draper in Madmen epitomizes civility and control in the context of client and creative.
What I love about this saying is that it reminds me every day that I choose to be this involved in my career, and I need to be aware of the pressing need to balance my time between my passion and my responsibilities the best of my ability.
Working for yourself includes a lot of minute details that are taken for granted in their significance in the beginning stages of building a business. These details, while most probably overlooked during the daydreaming phase– but made all too pressing by the daily grind of reality, create the differences between past times carried out by individuals, and businesses run by professionals. I make no mistake in informing those I work with, both clients and colleagues, about the hiccups in my day to day activities that could influence a future work schedule.
I can remember a few months ago I was mid client meeting- talking to a wedding photographer on skype in regards to the blog design. I told her I would be right back, and within minutes, I turned around from my computer to see my cat chewing on his back paw, with bloody evidence all around the living room. Of course I had to excuse myself, and told the client of the emergency, and she of course understood. How could she not? I communicated the situation, we had an exchange of horror stories dealing with the “wonders of pet ownership”, and the schedule was tweaked accordingly.
If I had not been mid meeting, and the opportunity to quickly address the situation with my client had not been readily available, would I be so quick to write an email? No, but at the end of the work day, I would set aside the 5-10 minutes to clarify any changes I would have to make. As I’m sure everyone could tell you by now, I am a huge prophet for communication. How can you know if people don’t tell you? Which brings me to my last point about all of this: Providing people the opportunity to empathize.
Over the past couple of years with working with Flosites, we have run into a handful of clients who abandon the process– for whatever reason they may have. In the optimistic outlook of things, most of the clients come back a week or two later with the sincere hope of explaining that they were overbooked, stressed for the holidays, or dealing with the unexpected and unfortunate tragedy due to sickness or loss, and we at Flosites will always understand- on the other side of the computer is a person!
The problem occurs when the emails/explanations are not sent, or equally as bad, they are sent 2, 3, or 6 months later. . After a particularly frustrating case of this happening, I thought long and hard about how I could explain what it felt like to be on the receiving end of all this. I often strive to imagine what someone else is going through, so in doing so I came up with the analogy, and I hope it explains my point from another perspective.
Follow my brain for a moment, will you?
Imagine that you are working with a bride who has just emailed you to book you as their wedding photographer. You accept their down payment, maybe you’ve had an introductory meet and greet, maybe you never have a meeting and have just been emailing each other back and forth- whatever the case may be, the bride has stopped responding. You’ve made a few attempts to reach her, but you are starting to get busy– new clients come in, with new meet and greets, plans, schedules and meetings. Six months down the road you get a phone call from the overwhelmed bride, demanding to know why you aren’t there, photographing her wedding.
Like the old adage dictates- you bring that horse to water, but you cannot force him to drink. The same holds true for people.
The best that I can suggest for these situations, for anyone who may have a hiccup in the road: Reach out.
It may sound too vulnerable to share the inner goings of what’s happening to someone you are working with, but it’s always better to err on the side of caution.
You may feel uncomfortable broaching the subject, but you are also allowing the possibility (and in all honesty, the total likelihood) of the other person empathizing with your situation, settling the anxiety and pressure of work so that the individual can deal with the problem at hand.
Provide someone with the opportunity to understand where you are coming from, and see how easy it is to have others work around it.
Like I love to say, there’s life, and then there’s work.
Until next time!