TOP 10 WAYS FREELANCERS CAN DOMINATE THEIR CLIENTS

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SHOW DATE: JULY 25, 2014

You’re being taken advantage of, and you don’t even know it.

One out of three workers in America is a contracted worker, or freelancer—meaning they get a 1099 instead of a W2. Or they get paid under the table.

HUGE problem: most of these freelancers walk through the door saying, “please use me ANY way you please. I’ll do EVERYTHING you want me to do.” Basically, they act like they haven’t gotten their freelance cherry popped yet.

How you begin your relationship with a client or company determines whether the gig is going to fall through or thrive. Will there be insanity along the way? Or will the seas be calm and steady?

Before you even breathe, there’s that split-second where the client (or prospect, or employer) knows, unconsciously or otherwise, whether she can miss a few scheduled meetings, not pay on time, and basically hold you by the balls.

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The dirty truth? You get taken advantage of because you want to be liked, and this absolutely DESTROYS you and your dignity in the long run.

In fact, a worthy employer or client can tell how submissive a contractor will be from the cover letter.

We’re using a combined 50 years of work experience to compile a list of absolutely VITAL advice that will help prevent you from bending over backwards (or forwards) for your client or employer.

1) NO EFFORT and NO CREATIVITY spells DEATH: STOP transcribing your resume onto your cover letter. It’s redundant, annoying and shows no creative thought process. You don’t have to list where you’ve worked when it’s clearly displayed in greater detail on your resume.

2) Tell a STORY: Can you paint a picture of who you are as a hire by describing ONE moment where you excelled at what you do in an unconventional and exceptional way? There ya go, you’ve got the start of a GREAT cover letter.

3) Focusing on ME ME ME: Yeah, we get it. You’re hot shit. But what about us, as clients, or employers? What will you do for US? This is where you fall through the cracks to join the heaps of rotting bodies of unemployed 1099ers. Start expressing what you can do for OTHERS, not just yourself.

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4) Puppydogs don’t get jobs: Calm yourself. If you’re hyperventilating from happiness or nervousness that someone actually CHOSE you, start cultivating a less reactive, more authoritative personality. Fake it till you make it if you have to; desensitization comes naturally with time and MANY interviews and sales pitches.

5) If you’re promising me the MOON, I’ll know you’ll give me the CHEESE: And by cheese we mean crap work based on bullshit claims. Get realistic and don’t offer everything on your plate and then some if you’re not sure you can provide at least half of what you’re claiming.

6) Look AMAZING: Self-explanatory. People like to pay people who keep up hygiene and look their best. End of story.

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7) Always leave a paper trail: Have a contract and some kind of schedule to keep track of your time that you can show the client. This brings you respect, shows that you’re organized and fronts you as the lion in the relationship, not the gazelle.

8) Watch the clock: For those who have clients coming in late on a consistent basis, make sure they know from the get-go that if they’re ten minutes late, they lose ten minutes from their time.

9) Scraping the bottom of the barrel: This one should get you VERY excited. If your prices are low, hike those suckers up. A moderate-to-high price shows that you respect yourself, that you take yourself seriously, and that you’re willing to take the time to put in the effort instead of doing a bait-and-switch and pawning your responsibilities off overseas. Imagine you’re on old 42nd street in New York City, and you have your standard selection of, um… hookers. How would you react is Candy offered you a quickie for $10? Exactly.

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10) GET PAID IN ADVANCE: You’re terrified to ask for money in advance. But if they’re struggling to pay for even an HOUR in advance and take their chances, WALK OUT. Fish in bigger ponds and don’t undermine yourself by grunting away regretfully for someone who can’t even drop a few bills for your skills.

Be powerful. People stop their nonsense and listen to you when you’re able to stand up for yourself and value your time and your money. Trying to be liked will only get you ONE place: broke, sobbing and alone.

SIMPLE FACT WHY YOUR JOB IS EXACTLY LIKE MARRIAGE

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When you work with people long enough, there are things you should just know and adjust to accordingly. Your boss is a neat freak? Then don’t leave half a sandwich out in your cubicle. And yes, your co-worker Sue is always ten minutes late. So, when she says 2pm, know that she means 2:15pm. Wrong or right, you know who she is. Style, procedures, practices, and personalities: if you’ve been there a year and still don’t have all of these down? #ForReal? Fire yourself.

If you’ve been there a year and still can’t anticipate your boss’s and co-workers’ needs, likes, and dislikes, you don’t deserve to be there. Jobs are like marriage: after a year, there are no surprises.

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I had a client who wrote an algorithm to figure out when his boss would need a latte each day. He didn’t have to ask, his boss didn’t have to tell him, and everyone knew where he was from 11:15 until 11:33 each morning. Anyone who didn’t wasn’t at that company for long, and guess what? That client got promoted, and now he has an assistant who’s (hopefully) figuring out his algorithm.

One of the reasons you got hired is because you’re really good at what you do. Therefore, it shouldn’t be hard for you to anticipate what your boss or co-worker wants, because you already know. You just don’t know you know. Here’s how you find out. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and ask yourself: “What would I want in this situation?” (Example situation: your pants are down around your ankles and there is no toilet paper.)

Some things to remember:

  1. Know where everything is
  2. Know what’s missing
  3. Know what’s needed
  4. Make sure you can answer any question asked
  5. Be one step ahead of everyone

The bottom line: just get things done.

#BLADOWWWW

P.S. This blog is by Katherine Kennedy, who has worked with Auntie Evan for eight years. (There’s always toilet paper.)

Email Snafu: Fixing Errors When Emailing Foreigners

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My secretary, Todd, recently copied me on an email he sent to a potential client in Beijing. (Let’s call her “Emma,” since every Chinese person I know seems to give themselves a Tweedy English name).

Here’s how the email read:

“Hi Emma,
I’m a rittle confused. Did you mean 10 am or 10 pm EST for the Skype call with Evan and David?
Best,
Todd.”

Rittle?!?!? When I saw it, I was, of course, mortified. (Maybe I giggled a little). Was Todd mocking Emma? Was it just an honest typo? Or is Todd a big racist? (I can imagine him thinking “rittle,” not intending to actually type it…and then OOPS).

So what do I do? Fire Todd? That goes without saying. I do it twice a week. But what do I do about Emma? What’s the business etiquette reboot? Is there one? How could we, well, save face?

Do I:

A) Make Todd send an apology?

B) Correct the mistake and send the apology myself?

C) Ignore it and hope that Emma doesn’t catch the mistake? I mean it’s not as if I don’t often have to guess what she means in her emails: Just the other day she wrote: 并把相应的航班行程和价格发给您,如果没有问题咱们就出票. Translated by Google, this means: “And the corresponding flight itinerary and prices sent to you, we would have no problem if the ticket…” That was clearly meant for somone else, but it was later followed up by another email—in English—that read: “China is limited but his leaves all of us working for the Chinese families. A room to have the families well informed of the US education.”

WTF?

It took a few minutes of going through old emails for me to figure out what the f*ck she was talking about, but I eventually got it.

Now, I want to be clear: This is not just a Chinese issue. I have had some of the strangest emails come from France, Portugal, and Germany—not to mention Scarsdale—that have been completely unintelligible. And I am sure my attempts at responses in Spanish et al haven’t been much better. Still, this email from Todd—unintentional though it was—bordered on racism. I think.

To that end, I have this to say: Slow down when writing emails. And always reread them—no matter what. But you didn’t this time, so here are some possible ways to fix the tres raciale mistake:

1)     Arriba, Arriba! Andale, Andale! (To quote Speedy Gonzalez):  The second you realize the faux pas (or slip-up, en Français), just send the exact email with the correction. Don’t bring any attention to it. Sometimes menos is mejor.

2)    Short and Sweet: Still worried? Ok. Ok. So, you’re too worried to say nothing. So, make a joke out of it. By this I mean, Make fun of yourself for the error—followed by an apology—in front of everyone copied on the email: “Oops, I meant to write ‘little’! Damn carpal tunnel.”

3)     WWJD?: You’ve dealt with this colleague (Emma) before and she’s not forgiving. In fact, she’s a real asshole. Well, you’re just going to have to bend over and—as Jesus would say—“turn the other cheek.” Don’t even wait until she realizes the error. Preempt her anger with an apology…plus the corrected version.

Of course, there’s always lying. Send out a BCC email that looks like an apology form letter. Lead with “During this very busy season [even though it’s mid August], a small number of emails may have been sent to you with misspellings. They were in no way intended to offend the recipient…” You get the point, but this is really a last resort, and should only be implemented if you receive an angry response to the original email—and/or you’re a damn coward.

–Auntie Evan

Top 10 Mom Habits That Translate To Stellar Job Skills

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Motherhood gives you all the skills you need to lead (or get a job).

Today one of my best friends told me that she does not have a job. I’ll call her Olivia. For recognize-ability’s sake. Each day, this single mum (she’s a Brit) wakes up at dawn, makes sure her two boys are up, makes their lunch, organizes their after-school schedule, makes sure they are clean and pressed (well maybe not) and heads them off to the subway, like the postman neither snow, nor sleet, nor—you get the point—she gets the job done.

Then Olivia returns home to make sure their finances are in order by running an in-home office so she can greet them in the afternoon and make their dinner, help them with something called Algebra and Earth Science, make their dinner, order them off the TV—six times—and wrestle them to bed, teeth cleaned, bodies scrubbed. But she says she doesn’t have a job.

Here are some other things Olivia does:

  1. Negotiates. They are always trying to manipulate bed time, play time and homework.
  2. Teaches communication skills: Please and thank you, say hello to your neighbors and write thank-you notes. (I think that’s called employee development.)
  3. Admits when she is wrong. “Maybe slapping him across the face was a bad idea. I will go and apologize.” (I did not claim she was perfect) And sometimes, as Auntie Evan always says: “Sometimes ya gotta be a bitch.” All top leaders know this.
  4. Responsibility: Admitting to who, when, and where he lost his retainer and makes sure he’s the one to find it.
  5. Is willing to be “the bad guy.” No, you may not stay up past 10.
  6. Is a role model: Shows up on time and also hangs out with cool, gay people like me.
  7. Takes them to foreign countries to understand and interact with other cultures. (Again, I think that’s called employee development.)
  8. Does her best not to speak ill of bizarre family members—like their father.
  9. Talks about them behind their backs (lot’s of bosses do that to let off steam)
  10. Asks for advice on childrearing from friends and professionals like teachers. (Sometimes she even listens)

So, in short, I’d say she has a job that teaches her all of the skills a leader needs to have. I wonder if we can hire her at Forster-Thomas Inc.? Why—because above all else, she is passionate about what she does!

–Uncle David

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Co-Worker on Vacation? Time to Prove Your Mettle

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SHOW DATE: MARCH 26, 2014

If your co-worker or supervisor is going on vacation, let your evil side come out and use the their absence as a way to get a promotion.

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Did we say evil? We meant EFFECTIVE.

It doesn’t mean steal their job necessarily–although Auntie Evan has done that before–but this gives you a great opportunity to prove your mettle.

In fact, while working as a guidance counselor for a nonprofit, Auntie Evan got to prove his worth when a co-worker went away for vacation. The nonprofit liked his work so much better that they promoted Auntie Evan to a supervisory role.

Instead of taking it easy when your co-workers are on vacation, step it up, especially if it’s your supervisor that’s away; they’re nervous about everything staying in order while they’re away, so once they come back and see how you’ve maintained peace and avoided snafu, only good things will come.

Freaking Out About Work Pre-Vacation? Let Us Soothe Those Nerves

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SHOW DATE: MARCH 26, 2014

Uncle David and Auntie Evan are getting out of town. Way out of town. All the way to China and Japan.

Ni-how, konichiwa and whatnot.

They’ve been planning for ages. Now that they’re almost there, Uncle David is having a freak-out.

He’s starting to get really nervous. While Auntie Evan is getting excited over oriental liquor and staying in communication with the team overseas, Uncle David is getting worried about not having a vacation at all with all the micromanagement he might have to do out of his hotel bed.

We’ve all been there: setting off for a vacation with a head full of impending job tasks and inevitable call-ins. And, of course, our main topic for today: the nail-biting subject of your stand-in.

Here is Job Talk’s counter-argument: can’t there be a balance between checking in and throwing your feet up and sipping the sake?

Auntie Evan says YES.

Are you experiencing guilt over leaving your post? What if something goes wrong? Will the vacation be ruined?

Here’s the thing: you’re afraid somebody—whether it’s your stand-in or those under you—is going to screw up without you. And you’re just afraid to admit it because you don’t want to undermine and disempower your team or freak out your co-workers with your nervousness.

Let’s say you do sales at your company. And you know if you step out and your stand-in screws up, it’s going to cost the company thousands, maybe more.

Here’s something you might not want to hear: this is the perfect time for those left in charge of your position to fail up and learn.

You’re groaning.

But if you know they’re great, yeah they might lose some money, but something more important is going to come out of all this: you’ll be establishing a legacy and molding a future leader. Now, unless you’re a narcissist or the jealous type, this is a great thing. This an opportunity for them to rise up and make the company and your position more than just individual parts.

Somebody once told us: “The mark of a great leader is not how well the company runs when she’s there, but how well the company runs when she’s not.”

We can see that you’re expressing doubts. What if somebody asks your stand-in a question they can’t answer during a sales call?

Okay, for this one, we do in fact have an exact response, courtesy of our stand-in, Cousin Tom:

“Well, that’s one of the things we discuss once you begin working with us. The objective of today is to clue you in a little bit how we work and for us to find out a little bit about you, but it would be premature and quite honestly foolish to sit down and nail some of these things down in concrete before digging a little bit deeper.”

That’s our little bone for today. It’s your job to make sure that sort of response is ingrained before you go on vacation, and it’s your responsibility to leave the office a well-oiled machine that needs as few check-ups as possible.

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THREE LEADERSHIP TABOOS TO AVOID ON YOUR RESUME

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SHOW DATE: MARCH 19, 2014

Yeah, it goes without saying that leadership is the big cheese on your resume. As employers, we want to see that you’re not the average narcissistic employee and that you care about the world around you.

But there are three areas you need to be careful about, and it’s the same three areas considered dinner-table taboo: politics, religion and sexual orientation,

You might want to be careful declaring on your resume that you’re a volunteer for a certain political party, or that you’re involved in a church or a gay rights group.

Generally, these are good things to put down, but you have to be smart when and where to use it. You’re not going to apply to Chick-Fil-A with a section on your resume saying you were a volunteer for the Democratic party, or a fundamentalist church saying that you’re a gay rights leader.

 

 

Why Paranoia Will Keep You From Getting Fired

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SHOW DATE: MARCH 19, 2014

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has been missing for the past few weeks. Nobody knows where it went. How in 2014 can an airline vanish completely? It boggles our mind and makes us wonder who needs to be fired.

How can something have gone so wrong? The answer is people. And a more specific answer is people not double/triple/quadruple-checking; either their own work or others’ work.

It’s called a healthy dose of paranoia. Remember Murphy’s Law? Everything that can go wrong will go wrong.

(Healthy) paranoia is power.

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The loss of a 777 is an object lesson for employees all around the world.

Assuming things will wrong is not negativity. A healthy dose of paranoia a day keeps ridiculously absurd and unprofessional 777 disappearances away. Simple as that.

Think it slows down your schedule? Try going hands-free and relying on your autopilot systems to run the show and you’re inevitably bound to hit a snag due to human error.

Double-confirming people before a meeting, triple checking if you sent that vital email; all these things people say “uuuuughhh, again?” to—we call it the two-seconds-extra rule—is what ensures you don’t lose that 777; aka your client.

You think repeating back a client’s name and number is a waste of time? Recently our top-notch office manager had that rare fluke where he fell back on “proven” systems, and due to human error, forgot to get a working callback number from a client. Those two extra seconds potentially cost our company thousands.

This happens to everybody. Unless, of course, they have that healthy dose of paranoia.

Straight from the horse’s mouth, our office manager gives his ace guidelines on healthy paranoia:

1) Don’t assume that when you train someone, they’re going to do it correctly. For example, if you teach someone how to do filing, don’t take it for granted that they won’t make a mess. This happened with one of our interns, and when we finally checked the cabinet, it took a chunk of our time to rearrange everything.

2) Stop worrying about people not liking you. Being a pain in the ass because you’re making sure people do their jobs should not be a veritable concern when you’re managing a project. There’s a difference between being a nag and being horrible.

3) Check your equipment: monitors, printers, Skype, anything you might use during your meeting or client call.

4) Have a pen-and-paper checklist going to make sure you know what to check back on. If you rely on your memory, you’re going to forget it.

5) Have others remind you of what you need to do. Ask a co-worker to be a partner in paranoia and nag you about tasks in exchange for the same service.

Fire of the Week: Justin Bieber

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SHOW DATE: MARCH 12, 2014

Bieber’s body guard was recently sued for beating a photographer.

He was called in as a witness, and, of course, his usual disposition garnered some hyena journalism.

This isn’t anything new. The reason why he’s our fire is that his attitude reminds of the countless young employees we’ve seen and worked with over the years.

These are workers in their early-to-late 20s who cross their arms and attempt to make themselves feel better by putting up a cocky front when their actions are being reprimanded.

Young professionals need to grow up (and grow a pair) and take the high road and listen before they get ego-hurt.