May 09 2011

Creative? Risk Being Unliked.

As a writer, designer, teacher, 


artist, architect, landscaper,


jewelry-maker, stylist or stage


performer, if you’re not


risking . . . you’re not


being honest!


With special thanks to author Mary DeMuth for the three great words: “Risk being unliked” which were featured in her article, “A Smart Approach to MEMOIR” in the June 2011 issue of The WRITER.


Those of us who create for a living, who own, operate, or manage creative businesses understand immediately what the “Risk being unliked” message is all about. And does it apply to professional selling too? Absolutely.

Whether we create with computers or paint brushes; with crafts supplies, hair, or music; with classrooms or pen and paper, or with the ways we communicate our sales messages, we must –as Ms. DeMuth so aptly puts it– “Tell the truth as you understand it. If you’re a writer,” she says, “you have a moral obligation to do this.”

I propose that truth-telling applies to all businesses, even the least creative.


When your focus, your branding, your website, your messages, your employees, and most importantly YOU are all about telling the truth as you understand it, you are setting yourself up to cultivate strengthened long-term high-trust relationships. Those who unlike you for it are not those you want to deal with anyway.

Honesty is (still) the best policy!


I’m not suggesting any limitations here. What’s the best way to express this idea to people who earn their keep with their creative talents? Could there be any greater and more meaningful statement than the following six words from Shakespeare?:

To thine own self be true.


When you believe heart and soul that the line, the dimension, the color, the musical note, the arrangement, the word choice, the emphasis is what your gut, your intuitive experience, says it needs to be, go with it and don’t waste time worrying about winning a popularity contest. People will judge your authenticity, not your masks or apologies.

For ALL business pursuits, not fibbing to or misleading customers, employees, associates, partners, referrers, investors, professional advisors,  lenders, and the various communities you serve is just one chapter of your build-a-better-business book. Leadership transparency is another. Honoring commitments is yet a third. 

Delivering exactly what you say you’re going to deliver –and more– exactly when you say you’re going to deliver it is the standard by which others will continuously measure your business performance.


There’s risk involved in all of this, but as with the mark of true entrepreneurship, the risk is always a reasonable one. We’re not talking about harnessing creative spirit here. In fact, if anything, the suggestion is to set it free, and to recognize that the results produced by an honest free spirit outperform those born of smoke and mirrors.

Don’t throw the tending to details, business conduct, and tight-fisted money management out with the baby’s bathwater simply for the sake of being more expressive in the products, services, and ideas you create. But do stop cowering away from being straight-ahead with your work and with all those you come into contact with every day.

Your behavior is of course your choice. Where do you think your reputation comes from?                                            


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Hal@Businessworks.US or 302.933.0116

“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance!” [Thomas Jefferson] 

Thanks for visiting. Go for your goals. God Bless You.

Make today a GREAT day for someone!

2 responses so far

Apr 03 2011


The road to hell,”


we’re told,


“is paved with them”… so 

say what you mean and,


 yup, mean what you say!


Is that the same as walk the talk?


Anytime you lead someone on, set somebody up, promise results, or guarantee satisfaction (even if you only indirectly imply it, and, yes, even if you genuinely mean it!) by assuring or reassuring her or him, you’d better deliver or be prepared to banish your business to Chapter 11.

Like going to that place many think of as hell, people may not go straight there for a bad deed, but sometime soon, not delivering the goods, so to speak, can put you on that bad deed road headed for what’s popularly believed to be a very hot climate.

I’m not just talking about customer service. That’s only one piece of the pie. Have you promised something you didn’t deliver to your employees? To one employee? To your suppliers? To one supplier? To your investors or lenders? To a job applicant? To a sales rep? To a community, industrial, or professional group?

Hopefully, like jolting yourself awake in mid-snore at your desk, or catching your mouth in mid-yawn during a meeting, you moved quickly and decisively to cover it up and excuse yourself . . . and make amends. There’s really no excuse. Behavior is a choice. Not fulfilling on promises is equivalent to digging yourself a low-trust grave.

Why am I beating on this?

Because it happens every day, every minute of every day. And it happens to the best of us. We get lazy or forgetful or preoccupied, and simply overlook that even though we properly address the envelope and put the right postage on it, if we fail to mail the letter, both the letter and our intentions are meaningless.

So bottom line then is that it takes more than a calendar, more than a hand-held device reminder beep, more than an assistant’s verbal prod, more than a note pinned on our sleeve. It takes a high integrity attitude. It takes a constant state of awareness about what makes others perceive us as honorable, and living up to it.

Don’t make appointments

you can’t or won’t keep.

Pretty basic, almost insulting advice, right?


Did it make you think? Well? 

There’s no room for the lackadaisical attitude suggested by such behavior under any circumstances, but especially in such a consistently spiraling economy (and don’t think because the media and the White House claim otherwise that  the corner has been turned. In fact, there’s a perfect example of not meaning what you say!) because the person or group you mislead will simply cross the street and find a more honorable entity to deal with.

Surely you didn’t bust your butt all these years simply to blow off what you’ve achieved with a cavalier attitude, or by not coming across with what you’ve intended to do or said you would deliver. Be a person of your word. Promised performance counts for more than price, package, promotion. and personality combined!

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 931.854.0474 or Hal@BusinessWorks.US

Thanks for visiting. Go for your goals! God Bless You.

“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance!” [Thomas Jefferson]

Make today a GREAT day for someone!

One response so far

Dec 18 2010

False Promises

“But I have


promises to keep


     and miles to go


      before I sleep . . .”



NOTHING is more aggravating to a business professional than assurances from others that prove empty, guarantees that don’t deliver, and boxes full of promises with false bottoms.

These games waste time and money, drain energy, and create havoc for the person or organization on the receiving end.

I recently witnessed a guaranteed $1 million sale that ended up costing a great deal of anxiety and money to discover that the “sale” was a hoax.

Maybe a million dollar sale is hard to relate to, so here’s one I’m sure you’ve experienced:

An on-again, off-again client (Sam) once assured me my proposal to manage a very major (big fee) project was acceptable and that we should meet to wrap it up early the following week.

He asked me to call on Friday morning to set a time and date when we could meet and I could pick up a check.


With some overdue bills on the desk, that was a welcome thought. The accompanying feelings of relief were quickly muffled. On Friday morning, Sam was unavailable so I left a voicemail and doubled up with an email that I could be available to get together on Monday or Tuesday. Sam never responded. It was a long weekend.

I called again on Monday and had to leave another voicemail. I sent another email. Still no response.

In the meantime, the two teleconferences originally set for Monday that I had moved to Wednesday so I could be available for Monday or Tuesday were suddenly on the firing line. I tried Sam’s number to no avail three more times that day. At the end of the day Tuesday, Sam called to apologize for being very busy and wanted to meet on Wednesday.

I explained I had conference calls set up, and Sam then suggested connecting on Thursday. He had my check ready. I asked if he could put it in the mail so I could get started, and he said he needed to meet personally with me first to “go over a couple of minor points and sign off on the project.” 

One of the Tuesday conference calls (involving a dozen people) was last-minute rescheduled –you guessed it– to Thursday.


Sam, as it turns out, was “called out of town at the eleventh hour” on Thursday and didn’t bother to let me know until his email arrived two minutes after the rescheduled conference call that I was supposed to be in, was completed.

He sent me an email on Friday saying he promised he would be at my office first thing Monday. I took a deep exhale and shuffled my Monday schedule around so the morning would be clear.

Sam called at noon Monday to say he was sorry for not getting to me earlier, but assured me he would be stopping in later that afternoon, at 2pm. At 2:15pm, an email arrived announcing that the week had just become “too crazy” and would the following Monday afternoon be okay to meet. You know when you can feel the meltdown is on the way?

I politely told Sam to take a hike. I had to run double-speed to make up the lost time and attention to other clients and pay the overdue bills. This is of course all in addition to my churning stomach and missed sleep.

I know, I know, I did a lot of stupid things , but only because I start with trust, and expect people to keep their word. 

It’s happened before. It will no doubt happen again. I would never dream of being what I consider to be so “insolent,” so I have a hard time accepting that some people out there really don’t care about honoring their commitments.

“Promises are made to be broken” they might say. Well, I’ve learned the hard way to be more suspect of people who assure me of anything. It’s really not hard–especially these days– to communicate, unless a conscious choice is being made to confuse, confound, annoy, not deliver, take the high road, or pretend to be too busy to be concerned about other’s commitments. 

Show me. Don’t talk about it.


And when you miss the first shot and don’t call . . . don’t call! I’m not interested. Sam ruined it for both of us! Here it is: Demonstrate respect and follow through with what you assure others of, and you’ll never lose credibility, or business. And you stand to gain: a high-trust reputation. 


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302.933.0116    Hal@BusinessWorks.US

Thanks for visiting. Go for your goals! God Bless You.

“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance!” [Thomas Jefferson]

Make today a GREAT day for someone!

3 responses so far

Dec 23 2008

“High Trust” Delivers A Strong Economy? It’s Time!



     Staying with the “Low Trust” issue raised in yesterday’s post, have you noticed recent responses to this red flag? 

     I have.  There’s a sudden proliferation of “Trust Us!” and “Trust This!” marketing messages (even from the usually unsavvy Better Business Bureau with its “Start With Trust” branding theme) being used –wishfully, hopefully– to ring out the old and ring in the new.

     That’s great, businesspeople . . . the wishing and hoping . . . but without some substance to back up the slogans, you’re just digging the hole deeper.  Why?  The public is tired of lip-service.  Can you blame them? 

     Customers and consumers alike (note ther’re not always the same!) are looking for businesses to do business with that give solid performances, and that maintain solid track-records for having consistently EARNED trust and confidence. 

     Buyers have learned the hard way to be more selective.  Enough with all the politics and empty political promises!  The public is fed up with companies that claim to be “green” at their front doors while dumping ill-treated wastewater out their back doors into neighboring rivers and streams, then pass along increases to customers for the cost of upgrading waste treatment. 

     The public is sick of (and from) wake-up-in-the-morning coughs delivered to respiratory systems by subdued-in-appearance power plants that placate daytime observers by claiming to be technologically advanced as they spew toxic fumes into the night skies. 

     And these are of course the same entities that wage relentless battles with alternative energy proposals that will force them to clean up their acts.  You know who they are.  They’re also the ones who never hesitate to pass any expense increases they’re forced to comply with along to their customers.

     Talking about being trustworthy and earning trust are two different things.  One’s an inexperienced schmoozer; the other co-pilots your jet!  Customers want to deal with businesses that walk the walk!

     Trust and ethics go hand-in-hand, but ethics go beyond behavioral benchmarks into life and attitude value systems. 

     I work with a solid client company in a shaky industry.  In what is generally considered a fast-paced, fly-by-night industry (we’ll stay with the airplane metaphor), where average career tenure is generally measured in months, my client has employees who’ve celebrated 20 and 30-year anniversaries by keeping in step and up to speed, and earning public trust along the way. 

     How do career tenures like these translate to the public-at-large? 

     Stability.  Reliability,  Honesty.  (Ah, there it is.  Businesses that cultivate long-term employee relationships are regarded by most of us as “high trust.”) 

     But, wait!  There’s more.  These veteran employees have also built a reputation for community involvement and charitable support.  They are the same businesspeople who spearhead local fundraising campaigns, who donate generously of their time and money to needy organizations in the towns and cities that support their business interests. 

     Oh, so it’s a give and take scenerio?  No.  It’s a do-your-work-as-honestly-and-diligently-as-you-can-and-respect-the-community-you-do-your-work-in scenerio.  It breeds trust.  Trust breeds sales.  Sales breed profits.  Profits breed success.  Success breeds a strong enonomy.  It’s time.    halalpiar   

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