Chris Johnson | Simplifilm Co-Founder

Do you even focus, bro?

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You wanted this, didn’t you?

Yes, but I didn’t think it would be this hard.

Well, what did you think?

I don’t know. Well, that I guess I could just cruise by on talent and pontification.  Running a business by answering Quora questions.

HA. You thought that? And how old are you?

38. Man, I just didn’t know.

How dare you. What made you think it would be easy?

It’s so easy for everyone. Their facebook pictures are white linen families, gourmet paleo dinners and likes.

Do you even focus, bro?

Man, I don’t know. It’s so hard sometimes. There are all these conversations happening.

Conversations. You mean the circle jerk that is TwitBook? Like they’ll miss you when you go.

Oh, they will. They all wait for what GenuineChris has to say. They are just dying to hear from me.

Answer me this, tough guy, how many projects you get offa facebook this year?

2. Just 2 so far.

MMm hmm. And how many projects you do?

About 60 projects, man. I like Facebook.

And Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Pinky Blinders. Civilization. Threes. You’re as bad as a cat with a red dot. Fucking focus.

But, look, I can’t work all the time.

Agreed. But are you even scratching the surface? Good parents, good brain, you got more than this, you son-of-a-bitch.

But see, I don’t get high fives when I do the boring shit. The sales calls, when I calm a project down or get someone to pay me. When I pay my people.

True enough. You get something else instead.

Money. I know.

Do you? You sure don’t act like it. Tell you what, you can send all your fucking retweets (and you’re not getting many anymore, are you) to Wells Fargo. See where that gets you.

OK. OK, I get it.

This year was hard man. Good people left my company.

I’m a fraud.

No, jackass. You’re not a fraud. You’re lazy. Just sometimes. Just when it gets hard.

You say that shit to yourself when you want a cop-out. You built Simplifilm. It wasn’t your first thing and it isn’t your last thing. But you only half built it. Because the rest of the work is scary. Of course they left. You weren’t all in.

Now stop talking to me, get back to work and finish your proposal, price sheet, & presentation. That stuff shoulda been done in June.

Fine.

No Facebook, texting or twitter till they are all done. It’s 20 hours work, but you’ll earn in January. Now, go.

Just because they didn’t say anything

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Just because they didn’t say anything doesn’t mean they didn’t notice.

They noticed you forgot to update them, you didn’t get them the email. They are aware that you missed the deadline. They are just polite. Making the best of a tough situation. Lectures don’t do any good.

We all do the same thing. They didn’t say a word about the fact that it was wrong/shabby/late or misshapen.

Nobody wants drama, but it happened.  So they pay their bill, they go on, and they quietly get you out of their lives.

The consequences to having a mediocre meal are indirect: we don’t complain to the staff. We just shake our heads, “what the hell has this world come to? Why bother if you don’t care…” and we walk out.

But they noticed, and you lost.  And that’s the hardest thing to understand. People expect lousy.  So it’s easy to exceed those expectations.  Everyone – just about – is an incompetent flake.

But they dream of competence. They yearn for it.  So instead of exceeding expectations – which have been pummeled by places like Chase and Comcast and Delta, let’s try and exceed their dreams.

 

Planning A Year (It Really Is This Simple)

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So you’re doing business, selling something, whatever.

You want to plan a year.

Laudible.

Let’s show you how easy that is to plan:

Revenue (how much money you’ll earn).
Units sold (how many widgets you’ll sell)
Average Price (how you’ll get there).
Closing percentage:  (What percentage of leads you’ll close).
# of leads you need: (units/closing percentage i.e. 100 units /.50 if you are a 50% closer)
# of subscribers you need (someone on your mailing list – usually 1/10th of those become leads for agency businesses).
# of blog posts /whatever to create subscribers.

That’s it.  That’s the soup-to-nuts version of how you do this stuff.  It’s easy enough to plan.

When you sell different things, like “cheap things” and “expensive things,” you  may need to then recalibrate a little bit and probably have a list for each line in cases where averages won’t make sense (i.e. I sell both Maybachs and Hyundais.)

But that’s a year. Most people get addicted to the shiny and do nothing.

Better left unsaid

There are so many times when you want to indulge yourself. Lash out, say what you really thought about your friend/wife/lover/partner/co-worker.

You deserve to be heard.

But what good – really – does this ever do?  Is there a weepy moment where you both realize you were right?  Did that lecture *really* do anything?

All that happens is we feel a little better.  For a minute.  We sure told them.

Then the other person gets a turn to talk.

Then they get to sure tell us.  And where does it end? What’s to be gained? It’s bickering and we engage. We wind up justifying our own actions:

  • Oh, but it was different, see.
  • I grew up never to back down.
  • My situation wasn’t like that.
  • You don’t understand, what it was like.
  • It isn’t about the money it’s about the principle of it.

Really?  It’s not your ego?

Better to shape our world through actions. Restraint is hard.  It’s hard to have manners in the face of rudeness.

It’s it’s harder still not to engage when the barbs  that sting and the passive aggressive slights come. But it’s critical, man, to let that stuff bounce off your chest. Yeah, it wounds. But responding to it is almost always a bad idea.

When you are considering unloading, consider also:

  • Will I be able to have a relationship with this person if they continue to behave this way?
  • Is this a hill i’m willing to die on? (It’s fine to end relationships – even close ones – for meaningful matters. But just because someone is annoying or…)
  • What do I want the relationship to be like after I say these.

These are better questions. Better than “how can I make him understand.”  You can’t.

There is no apology coming. People are who they are.

Covey said “seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

The first part was right. But the second part? Should have left that out of the seven habits.

A different system for freelancers

One of the things that freelancers do poorly is planning.

They feel like all work is good work (it’s not) and that the client is always right (they aren’t).

What I do instead is to create inventory.  My company Simplifilm will have 108 deliveries next year, at three different prices.

Each is schedule on a date, and each is sold as a unit.
That way you have something to sell.

That way you have real scarcity. “You’ve got 40 projects to sell this year, if you want this delivery, act now.”

The Clients You Deserve

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[THE CLIENTS YOU DESERVE]

It is so scary to say no to clients.

The hardest thing I have to do is turn away people who are willing and able to spend money.

It’s always the best thing when you do.

Both short and long term.

Every time you get that spidey sense, don’t ignore it.

Work hard enough to generate enough that you can say no, so that you can earn the right to be (respectfully) choosy.

Sometimes people are in a bad frame of mind. Sometimes they are crazy. Sometimes they aren’t yet a good fit.

Say no. Do it respectfully. But say no.

Sometimes I get it. You can’t. Bills, problems.

Yes, it’s really easier to find a good client than it is to say yes to a bad one. But it never feels that way.

When have to say yes to the type money that comes with a side of crazy, you have to bear it with grace.

When you have to say yes to a client that is going to wear you out, annoy you, it’s your own doing.

Why? Because your business is in a state where you had to tolerate mediocre clients.

You didn’t EARN the right to say no to the nonsense.

You didn’t generate good things so you have to tolerate it.

Embrace it. Let the nonsense wash over you. Laugh at it.

“This is the client I currently deserve. This guys lunacy is my fault. What am I gonna do to deserve better.”

Write it down. Mitigate the damage that the current client does, and move on to the next one.