– by Albert Berkshire
I thought it would feel better in a different language.
I have, on occasion, asked myself, “Why did I just do that?” It may have been after I overstated the obvious when attempting to make a point. It could have been when I ordered fish when I really wanted the salad. It could have been when I used Hotwire to book a hotel knowing that I was risking a stay at the lovely, doily-appointed Sutton Hotel when I really wanted to stay at The Westin. It could have been when I had a beer instead of a much more enjoyable option like a vodka-club soda-lime. But until now, it had never been after I agreed to take on a job that I really, really…really didn’t want to do.
I compromised my principals.
I did a project for a client I really, sincerely, like; with a talent whom I never wanted to hire; for a fee that made me scratch my head.
Now, the fee part is my own issue. I have a client who has been here from day one. Always pays his bills, is always clear and concise with in expressing his expectations, and is genuinely appreciative of my time and work. And he always buys me dinner and drinks when we are in the same city. Without fail, he is a generous man.
But doing the job I didn’t want to do…well, that’s just a small thing about not wanting to hire a certain talent because of my own little set of rules. You put me in a difficult position once, and we’re done. I don’t risk my reputation, or my business relationships, for anyone. No matter how good you think you are at what you do.
You may wonder why I would take the job. Why anyone would. Why it matters. Why I would write about it. Why the sky is blue. Actually, I can answer the latter more easily than I can any of the previous self-inquiries. But like anyone like me who does what I do for a living…(actually, there is no one like me who does what I do for a living. Sure there are others who do a similar kind of work, or may seem to be similar to me in some way or another, but they are not like me. I am Albert. That’s who my clients hire.)…feels the need to write and explain and tell stories. It’s just what we – what I – do.
And then there’s the other, directed, or instructed, “do”.
We, business people, do things in the course of our daily business activities that astound us, and most certainly, the pundits and consultants (certified or otherwise) who observe that which we do. We make adjustments to our day to make a client, or even the housekeeper, happy. Some of us might even have a “drop everything for that guy” policy. It’s not always fair, wise or enjoyable, but that’s a part of doing business. It is, however, never unethical in my world. THAT’S where I draw the line. Yet, we never tell the clients we are doing something beyond the scope of our professional comfort zone (unless we aren’t going to do it, then it is a reason), we just suck it up and do it.
So at what point do we stop the bloated rolling medicine ball of commerce and say; “I’m sorry, but I’m not willing to compromise my better judgement, my sense of self worth, my personal time with my family, or my peace of mind to do that for you”?
Sidebar: I am quite certain that at “I’m sorry”, the response, or more accurately, the interjection, would have been, “Don’t apologize. Just get it done.” And this takes me back to the day back in 2005 when a fellow worker stood at my, then, desk tapping his foot waiting for me as I typed on my merry way down the cart path of the creative world in which my brain was vacationing at the moment, and then barked instructions at me in a less than polite way that ended with “just get it done”. That was the day I decided to quit my day job. I couldn’t imagine 20 more years of that environment…or that guy peering over the top of my 14-inch CRT monitor (yes, even in 2005) barking instructions that I knew would always end with “just get it done”. Jesus, I hope I either outlive him, or retire before him. Success, they say, is the best revenge.
So, anyway, there I was on my now faux vacation…working. Seated in my hotel room, laptop on the makeshift office desk, my family all sitting around having drinks, laughs, and snacks; and I’m sending work to a voice talent I didn’t want to hire, and getting ready to produce concert tour commercials for a radio campaign. All because a client I really like and appreciate – asked me to do it.
And I’m pretty certain I won’t be getting any Paul McCartney & Bruce Springsteen tickets in the mail for my efforts. I just know the voice talent I didn’t want to hire, will.
As a good friend likes to remind me; “The suckage ratio on that is pretty high.”
Albert Berkshire is a writer, producer and voice actor. He considers “time off” to be more than just a sport. It is the bridleway to regaining workplace sanity where the vehicles of business are not welcome. And as such, he vacations with vigour…even when there’s work to be done. Getting the job done, despite his crumbling fortress of self-imposed principals, has helped make his company, GreatCreative.Com, successful. To read about his professional side, visit www.greatcreative.com. And for a much shorter, and less frequent rambling, follow Albert on Twitter @albertberkshire.