Archives For July 2013

fuse box by ortonesque on

But If I Flip A Switch, Will Lights Come On?

You want to be trustworthy. Being honest is a part of that, but if you go too far to PROVE that you’re honest, you may come across as scummy. You don’t want to do that.


A mumbling mechanic tried his best to explain, but I just left angry.

The Honda Civic I was driving needed fixing, and it was going to cost a lot. When I asked him a simple question: “is the car drivable without doing this?”, he gave me his answer.

“Well…mumble mumble needs to mumble mumble, then mumble your mumble.”

I didn’t want anyone going near my mumble.

If someone who can speak clearly starts to avoid doing so, then they are likely hiding something.

Speaking Clearly Communicates Trust

The lesson was clear. By explaining things in a step-by-step manner, you will make people more comfortable when they do business with you.

But Can It Go Too Far?

Like any new lesson, I went overboard with it. The more I explained, the more honest I was – or so I thought.

In my last job, I helped businesses take credit cards without being charged a high fee.  My job was to help business owners lower their costs by switching to us.

One client, a merchant who sold products online, was going to work with a better-known competitor. Thanks to some persistence, and constant reassurance of what we could do, he went with us instead.

Two days later, he gave us a call asking what was going on?

We told him during the appointment that it would take three days to get up and running.

I tried to reassure him, explaining the step-by-step process of how it worked.

“Well, your account is created, but until you update your website with your business address and an about page, it is in probation status. We’ll send you an email with instructions this afternoon so it will get out of probation and into active-approved status.”

It seems simple here, but this was explained in a 30-minute phone call filled with intense back and forth.

He became furious.

I thought I was doing him a favor. Instead, I confused him with details that didn’t matter.

He fell victim to over-disclosure.

Too Much Explaining Creates Doubt

If I am going to shake someone’s hand, and I have clean hands, do I need to explain how I washed my hands, and the previous two days’ history of what I touched? No, because it does nothing but weigh the other person down with details that don’t matter.

So what would I have done different?

“Your account is created. Like I said, you’re on day two of three in your set-up. This afternoon, you’ll get an email with instructions on how to turn it all on and get the service up. Then tomorrow you can start taking customers.”

The more you explain things that don’t hold much meaning for a person’s life, the more you prolong their frustration. They see that you’re not giving them a straight answer, when in reality your response is straight, but a little heavy. It makes them feel like you are being dishonest, even though you aren’t. The effect is no different than if you mumble when explaining a car problem to the car owner.

Does it drive? Yes, it will tomorrow.

campus life by bcnunnery on

University of Texas at Austin

Hundred of people apply to the Radio-Film-TV program at University of Texas every year.

Many of them do this because they want to learn to direct.

Hopefully, whether they get in or not, they will learn the real truth about valuable skills: It doesn’t work that way.

Directing is not a skill. It is a combination of skills.

A novice can look at Face/Off and think, ‘Man, I could never direct like John Woo. He is SO much better than I’ll ever be.’

Directing is not just directing. It is audio recording, cinematography, writing, storytelling, location scouting, organizational leadership, scheduling, human resources, set design, shot choices, editing, special effects, lighting. I could go on.

If you were asked to direct, it could put you in panic mode.

However, if I asked you to read a book about writing, and you learned that most plots have a three-act structure, you’d be better at writing stories.

If you spent a day on an independent film set listening to a sound engineer, hearing her explain that you have to record a few takes of background noise on each shooting location, to mix into the movie later when all you have are the recorded voices and a soundtrack, you’d know more than before.

You’d be that much better at sound recording.

So, since you just got better at writing and sound recording, and those two skills make up the multi-disciplined craft of directing, you became a better director. It’s still scary, but you closed the gap – just a little bit.

Advertising and marketing is no different. There are multiple skills involved.

  • Being a team player
  • Coming up with ideas
  • Determining which ideas have enough merit to pursue
  • Developing those ideas
  • Working with the client (especially if you own your own agency or are an account exec)

You may even need to know CRM, Graphic Design, Market Research, A/B testing… AAAH!!

If you get anything out of this post, it should be this: If you find yourself paralyzed with how much farther you have to go in order to achieve your true calling, break that calling down into chunks small enough to handle.

I am no expert blogger, but if you combine this blog with an earlier blog, and some freelance posts I’ve done helping other businesses, I’ve written over 100 posts! A few years ago, I didn’t think I’d get that far. And I know I’ve got a long way to go!

So you do. So break it down, and do what you can in a few days, or a week.

See you later.