Here’s a couple of things I’ve learned about recently.
I’m working with a client who has a lot of contacts, written up on index cards and stored in shoeboxes. She runs a catering company, but judging by the amount of data entry I have in front of me, it looks like what she mainly does is talk to people, get their numbers, and follow up like crayzy. I’m fairly sure this lady got into the business she’s in because she loves cooking and feeding people. What a noble goal. Yet she spends way too much time trying to remember who she needs to call, follow up with, keep track of, etc. When I need to see her I get ten minutes sandwiched between a meeting with someone else and her son’s soccer practice.
This is where the power of computers comes in – as much as I would love to be working on robots or spaceship brains or whatever, this an area where I can do a lot of good. Get all the contact info for everyone my client has ever met, entered in a database, tagged, dated, organized so well that she never has to think about it again, and she can spend her time on her true calling, which is food. I do that, and maybe she’ll cook me dinner. (I’m hoping. I really don’t get decent food often enough. Wooo, mac n’ cheese.)
Here’s another thing I’ve learned. Everyone is busy, all the time. Even me, and I don’t really even have a job.
So if you want someone’s attention, you have to bring something with you. My favorite author, James Altucher, recommends coming up with 10 ideas for the person you want to talk to. Send those in the email, and ask for coffee at the end of it. They’ll say yes more often. Or so he says. Ideas are hard to come up with!
Right now I’m trying to convince an MLA’s press secretary to have coffee with me. What have I got to offer? He’s pretty far ahead of me in both life and business. But if I can come up with some good ideas, perhaps he’ll make the time.
The converse of that is that since everyone is always busy, I can’t use it as an excuse. You make time for the things that are important – if you can’t make the time, you are sending a pretty clear message that the person in question is not important. So you’ve got to make some priorities and decide what, actually, should get your time.
For instance, I’ve been working on a sign for the bike shop I volunteer/work/hang out at for the past… like, 3 months. It’s taking rather too long. But I’m making it a priority right now. For the money? It’s not much. For the experience? Sign painting is not exactly my chosen industry. Then why? Cause I freaking love that bike shop, and all of the people who hang out there. Good enough reason.
I’m enjoying this busyness right now. It’s a weird new thing for me. But I think at some point I’m going to start questioning, what’s it all about, really, when you get right down to it? And take a lesson from my friend Aran Dunkley. As far as I can tell he got tired of being a code monkey and ran away to Bolivia. Go Aran. Maybe I’ll join him one day.
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