Diary of a Madman

Going Against The Grain

Wading Thru the Bullshit

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When it comes to buying professional services, the greatest skill you can ever have, especially if you are playing with your own money, is being able to cut through the fluff, the puffery, the salesmanship, the total and utter bullshit that people will spew in order to removed your money from your wallet and put it in theirs.

You have a really short runway to take off from – you can’t screw up………that often 🙂

This isnt to say that all services are bogus, just saying that a lot of service professionals are full of shit. I’m not talking about lawyers and accountants, I’m talking management consultants, marketing “experts” and public relation “specialists” (although my favorite are “web experts”). You know, all those people who will “tell you how to run your business” or help you “take it to the next level”.

I am the first to admit that I know close to nothing and my experience is quite lackluster, but from what I can tell, I’m not that much different than most people, I’m just pretty crappy at spinning it.

I was in the process of interviewing marketing consultants to help me “take my business to the next level” (even typing that cliche garbage makes me wanna puke) and they were trying to pitch me on an email marketing campaign.  May work, may not.  But the problem is that these guys failed my real interview.

My real interview is really simple.  I dont assess you by the way you look (but a word of advice honey, the stripper nails and 7 to 10 rings you were wearing was a little less than presentable) or by the quality of you references – anyone can find 3 people to say good things about them.  I ask a simple question:

“Tell me about your biggest professional disaster/screw up/fuck up?”

In training for a previous career, I had an instructor who told me, “If you don’t get any complaints to your regulatory body, it means you aren’t seeing enough people”.

So If a potential hire can’t tell me about their biggest fuck up (and telling me that the mistakes alway happen on the client side just doesn’t cut it, sorry), it tells me one of two things:

a. You think I’m a total fool who will believe that you never make a mistake – Much like the job candidate who tells you their biggest flaw is that they “work too hard”.  I know the second something goes wrong, you’ll be pointing your finger everywhere but at yourself (my mom was sick, my computer crashed, my dog has hemorrhoids); or

b. You just aren’t busy enough and haven’t made your bones – and I’m the one who could be paying for your biggest mistake, Um, thanks, but no thanks.  I fuck up enough on my own, I don’t need to carry your sorry ass.  I’m supposed to be hiring someone who has skills I don’t have, not someone who wants to develop them.

In some situation, like web design, it is easy to guard against this.  Hire a couple of designers and pay them to do a mock up.  See what you like.  It will cost you a few bucks, but not much.

The real challenge comes with the big spends.  Part of the way I try to deal with with is to develop some hands on expertise (even if it is really minor) in the area I’m looking to hire a consultant in.

So it looks like im going to be spending some time building an email list campaign…. fun wow

So who knows someone who can…………

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Written by insaneentrepreneur

April 8, 2008 at 11:51 am

Posted in Management 101

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