Red Velvet Rope

by Megan M. on October 28, 2008 · View Comments (Blog) |

Yesterday the inimitable Trish Lambert did a show on BlogTalkRadio about the Book Yourself Solid “Red Velvet Rope” policy, which illustrates the utter importance of focusing on the clients that give you the most possible happiness to work with. I thought the show would be an hour long (wishful thinking!) but it turns out that it’s only a half hour. Thankfully Trish’s show runs every Monday, and she’ll be talking about the Red Velvet Rope policy at the next show too—so if you’re all about the crazy productivity and blissful work days, tune in again next Monday at 1 pm CST. It’s pretty neat.

I started this post because while I was listening to Trish’s show, I had a ton of relevant trains of thought and although I thought about calling in, I realized I would have to edit down my thoughts a lot to be reasonable about time… and it made more sense to write a post (or three).

Right now my work is split pretty clearly into two categories: 1) awesome people who hire me to help them, and 2) projects that align directly with my real purpose. Now, just because the folks in the first group don’t align directly with my real purpose doesn’t mean that they’re not fantastic and really great people—because they are. But it’s hugely beneficial for me, and for them, if I realize that we’re not quite on the same path. Working on excellently-aligned projects makes me more effective with my time, and better help to everyone involved… not to mention that I’m happier, and way more pleasant to be around. ;}

Pretty recently I decided to stop taking on new projects completely unless the project fits a very particular set of criteria. That particular set of criteria is still more a feeling than a manifesto, but it sounds something like this: The project is something that inspires, engages, and excites me. The client and I vibrate very strongly on the same frequency, and she is clearly very driven and passionate about the project. More than that, it’s a project that I might have launched all by myself, given the appropriate skill and talent, and it is lined up beautifully with what I believe, and what I want.

There will probably be occasional exceptions to this rule, like when I’m helping out a good friend in need. But the point is that the fewer exceptions I make, the more I can focus on doing the things that fundamentally increase my growth and potential and serve my essential nature as a Megan—and the happier and more effective I will be!

This has already become glaringly obvious in the time since I made the decision. My productivity is simply absurd. It doesn’t make any sense. In fact, I’ve been feeling under the weather for the last two weeks—and I’m getting three and four times as much work done as usual. And the point is that I love it. All of it.

It can be scary to make decisions like this, but it stops being scary the minute you realize the effect it’s had on you. You feel better, more real, more purposeful, and you really know what you’re doing with yourself (instead of feeling trapped into doing something you “have” to do). All I can do is tell you the difference it makes; if you want to understand, you only have to try it yourself.

Promise it’s worth it. ;}

  • Charlie
    Great advice. I only wish I had enough clients to put into groups. For the last few years, it's been "give a penny, take a penny." Every time I get a new client, an old one seems to find a reason not to use freelancers. It's very frustrating. Fortunately, my clients have all been those whose goals I respect, and the work has never been too stressful. And for that I am grateful.
  • Megan M.
    @Trish I'm probably going to squeeze a few more posts out of this -- I hadn't really considered posting about the whole experience and my thoughts on it until I was listening to your show and had SO! MUCH! to say! ;}
  • Trish Lambert
    Inimitable? How cool is that?

    Megan, I am THRILLED to have the privilege of catalyzing this thinking for you...and it is awesome to see such clarity in your words! And you say it all in the last paragraph.

    Like Rudi said, look at you go!!!!

  • Rudi
    I think it's awesome that you've come to these conclusions. As I am just learning, it's great to look at a model like this and understand where it comes from.

    Also, it could be to these awesome-people's benefit that you can no longer take on their projects, because what if THEY meet the person who can really embody what you are saying about their project?? I think it could work! And it takes lots of guts to do it, and look at you go!!!
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