Marriage is one of life’s greatest adventures. You can never be too prepared for it. Half of marriages end in I don’t. A healthy percentage of the other half aren’t any healthier. So on my wedding day I wanted to cram in one last bit of preparation. I scheduled breakfast with my three marriage mentors, my dad and my two grandfathers (who would all laugh me off the family tree for calling them my marriage mentors). At the time my parents had been married 32 years. My grandparents had been hitched 61 and 63 years.
After we sat down at Emma Krumbies in Wausau, Wisconsin and worked through some Northwoods pancakes and sausage I decided it was time for the knowledge share. I asked The Paternity, ‘What is the key to making a marriage great?’ With 156 years of experience at the table I felt like I just lit the fuse on a 4th of July fireworks grand finale. This was going to be an amazing show. So I sat back to take it all in.
Then my maternal grandfather, Kenny Sprau, crossed his arms, leaned back in his chair and said,
‘Keep doing what you’re doing.’
Um… WTF Grampy? 61 years of trial and error, nine kids and a World War, and that’s all you’ve got? I wanted to give him a mulligan and see if he could hit it past the women’s tee this time. But he went on. ‘You have to keep doing the things that got you to this point.’
Over time I’ve come to understand what Grampy was saying. When we are dating we are at our best. The unfortunate tendency is to drop the hard work, the energy, the attention, and charm we put into the relationship after the contract is signed.
This advice holds true in business as well as marriage. Treat your potential partners well. Act as if you would like nothing more than spending the rest of your time together. Listen. Make them laugh. Show them you are interesting, kind and thoughtful. Get the contract signed. And then keep doing what you’ve been doing.
If you are a creative it is easy to get precious about the work you do. It’s easy to throw hissy fits (although the best place to grab the hissy to throw it is hard to determine). It’s easy to be combative. Oh, and it’s easy to go out of business. The statistics aren’t good.
But in business, as in marriage, listening and collaborating are valuable approaches to your growth strategy. Clients and spouses alike really like that stuff. Crazy right? When you respond favorably to a client’s request they generate something called ‘good feelings’ about you. And these ‘good feelings’ make them want to see you more and work with you more. And the result is business growth.
The opposite is also true. If you are the all-time best seller at The Jerk Store no one wants to be around you. This is true of both the individual and the organization.
If you recognize complacency, apathy or combativeness between your organization and your clients stamp that out like a flaming bag of dog poo on your front porch. The behavior may feel justified today. But you’ll regret the justice leveled tomorrow when you’re trading the offspring in the McDonald’s parking lot.
At the Perfect Agency Project our goal is to treat our current business like new business. We never want to take them for granted. We are trying to re-win them every day. Even after we put a ring on it. Thanks for the wise advice Grampy. Me and Grammy miss you.