How Come Every Time I Get Stabbed in the Back…

How Come Every Time I Get Stabbed in the Back My Fingerprints Are on the Knife?

…My Fingerprints Are on the Knife?

Just home after an amazing week in Sofia, Bulgaria, for the second annual WordCamp Europe. My brain is bubbling with all the things I learned and all the great conversations had. Before reflecting on the event as a whole, I thought I’d take a moment to follow up on the talk that I gave.

I’ve gone ahead and published my (very minimalistic) slides (yes, that’s blood spatter) and a full transcript of the presentation, which you can find here. The sound wasn’t great that morning (they seemed to work it out by the afternoon) and a lot of people who were sitting in the back weren’t able to hear much (bummer). But many came up to talk to me afterward – it’s clear that people want to discuss these ideas and have their own stories to tell that we can all learn from.

I invite you to share those stories here!

There were two questions asked at the end:

“If my company is already hurting, how can I say no?” That’s a tough question indeed. It’s true that at various stages of our careers we may not feel we have the luxury to turn away clients. There is no perfect answer to this. Sometimes even those who we think we’ve screened well can turn out to be difficult projects to manage and end up dragging us down. But the bottom line is, if you’re already down, what’s the point in being dragged down even further? There is always another client, another project. Sometimes the extra pain and effort can end up being worth it, each of us has to weigh our own personal limits with what’s at stake. Because it’s not just money at stake: it’s our health, our time, our reputations. Focusing on the money is a shortsighted view, and one that will not likely help dig your business out of a tough spot. My advice: focus on creating (notice I didn’t say attracting) good clients by being the master of your show.

“Is it important to have a contract?” The answer is of course: yes. A contract is legal protection against litigation. It also defines the rules and guidelines of your show. But the problem with contracts is that nobody reads them. It’s a strange phenomenon, but in my experience people generally do just look at the bottom line and skip the details. Think about it, when you buy something online and are first asked to check the “Yes, I have read the terms & conditions” checkbox before proceeding to payment, do you actually go read them? If you’re like me then probably not. So yes, have a contract, but also make sure to go over it point by point with your client, and make sure that the rules of your profession defined within are echoed for the duration of the project in your ongoing communications with him or her.

Have questions and/or good stories to tell? Please share in the comments below!


PS: The title of my presentation was borrowed from a wonderful and inspiring book* by the same name, which I would encourage everyone to read. Author Jerry Harvey’s ideas on anaclitic depression are fascinating. I’d love to discuss them with you and plan to do more writing on these topics.

*not an affiliate link.

Photo by Florian Ziegler