Watching the tape--week 1

Philip Morgan

I got some super interesting replies to my question last week, which was: "What do you do to get better at producing value for your clients?".Replies are still trickling in, so I'll wait another day before I summarize and report back to you.Here's a bit of an intermezzo before I get to your ideas later this week...I got a range of responses to my admittedly scolding tone in Friday's email. A German appreciated the directness, while a few Americans apologized and told me why they didn't respond lickety-split to my question (travel, client stuff, etc.). One person said he was glad I don't know where he lives. ?Overall, I was relieved to hear that many of you do have systematic ways to get better at producing value for your clients.But list member Marcus Blankenship pointed out an opportunity for improvement in my approach. With his permission, I'm going to excerpt some of our email exchange here for your edification:------_Me: I'm really not trying to be an asshole here, but surely you more than just 4 of you have some way of systematically getting better at delivering value to your clients, right?_Marcus: Not sharing an idea is different from not having one. What really happening?  :)Me: I've gotten like 10 or more really thoughtful responses to today's email, so I think my scolding got people who have ideas to share them. Now I would bet money that's not the most effective managerial approach, but I'm more of a tyrant with my list than a good manger would be with their team. :)Marcus: You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar, but you still catch *some* with vinegar. ;) Do you see any alternative approaches you could try with your list to convince them it was worth the risk of sharing?Me:I could have taken 3 or 4 ideas for alternate approachesMarcus: Wonderful ideas!  I think all of them would move a different lever in people!  You should try them all! ;) I also think that when asking people to take a risk (and sharing ideas is always a risk), helping them understand the “why” is important.Me: That's a big goal for my email list: to be a community that shares ideas, successes, near-misses, and inspiration. You've got me thinking about ways to be more explicit about that.Marcus: I didn’t realize that was a goal of the list.  Most people have a list to benefit only themselves (by selling things).  Since you see things differently, being explicit might help people frame your emails differently, so they participate in new ways. Keep up the awesome work!------This was an incredibly helpful email exchange with Marcus. It helped me realize that I haven't been very explicit that one of my big goals for this email list is for it to be a sort of community that shares ideas, successes, near-misses, and inspiration.I think this purpose for the list is implicit when I get permission to share back to the list stuff that members have shared with me, but I haven't made this explicit.I'm at the center of this list trying to encourage you all to develop exceptionally valuable expertise, and trying to provide a high quality blend of information, inspiration, and yes, entertainment as you do that. But I hope that you feel like you're not alone as you travel on that journey.Because you're not. And I hope this email list helps provide evidence that you're not alone. You're in the company of thousands of other self-employed developers who want to have an easier time finding clients and want to create more value for those clients after they find them.I hope as you see others share pieces of their journey (and you hear them do the same on, you're encouraged to push yourself further to become the kind of highly valued expert you know you can become.Finally, I hope you see what a good coach Marcus Blankenship is. I love how he "leads the horse to water" by asking precision-guided questions. If you want to be better at leading developers and other technical people, you might check Marcus out: