Client Horror Stories

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That time your client believed that advertising was a magic solution, but still micromanaged the magician (with Collin Slattery)

In our 15th take at Client Horror Stories, Collin Slattery, founder, and CEO of Taikun Inc. brings us a story approached not too dramatically, but rather as a learning experience for everyone who was a part of it (and, obviously, us as well!). Today’s tale gives us a lesson on how good students are the ones that don’t need an atomic bomb of a client in order to pick up a bunch of good lessons on how to manage them. 

Collin’s narrative takes us to August 2020, very deeply diving into the pandemic craziness and a client who, no matter how hard he tried to change his mind, simply believed that advertising would solve every single one of his problems. But of course, advertising was not a magic success potion for their business, and so our story smoothly turns into micromanaging meets blaming marketing for everything mess. 

Today’s episode leaves us with a sour taste in our mouths, and more than a lot of lessons to take notes on, such as: “In some situations, techniques that worked for everyone else, simply won’t do it”, “ABT: Always be testing everything you do”, and our personal favorite “If a client wants to do something, even though you insisted that it was not a good idea, have them sign a document where they agree that the did it against your professional advice”. 

Literacy quotes:
“When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” - John Maynard Keynes

That time your mentor gifted you his house in his will, but removed you from it when you asked him for the money he owed you (with Will Rico)

In our 14th take at Client Horror Stories, we have Will Rico, CEO of CommonMind, along with a parade of mentors, telling us probably the weirdest yet most gripping and surprising story so far. Today’s tale is the compilation of horror, random, and sometimes positively surprising situations that went along in Will’s 9-year long relationship with his then mentor. 

Will takes us back to 2001, when he was just a 27-year-old starting a company and renting an office from his high-school boss, who couldn’t help but try to get involved in the young startup’s business. Little did we know that he would not actually end up being the trouble-maker, but actually the guy that he introduced Will to in order to create (what he thought would be) a fantastic deal. 

The narrative that Will walks us through has everything from drama, sweet-angel wives, sketchy guys with a lot of stories to tell, and even unexpected (and later on canceled) inheritances, to end up with very wise advice: Choose your mentors wisely, don’t take advice from just anyone, and learn how to say “no”. 



Will Rico

Morgan Friedman

That time your agency was hired only to prevent the partner who hired you from getting fired (with Anthony Highman)

Take 13th at Client Horror Stories is starred by Anthony Highman, along with an exclusive selection of what he considered his top-notch horror stories of many years in the industry. In a quick and easy short story method, Anthony walks us through the perks and quirks of what it takes to engage in a committed and beneficial for both parts working relationship. 

Anthony’s tales have everything that a captivative story needs: plot twists, cross-state driving, lawyers, conflictive exes (even the marketing world has them!), and the perfect amount of fishing metaphors. All the drama and random turns that today’s episode has are nothing compared to everything we can learn from them. 

Reaching the end, Morgan and Anthony agree that working with clients has three big and essential keys: Being able to explain your strategies and the decisions you make, understanding what your client’s real objectives are (even if they include firing the person who hired you), and building a trust-based relationship from the very beginning. 

Literacy quotes: 

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” - Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy


Morgan Friedman

That time your boss cared only about spending the client’s whole ad budget (with Rachel Smith)

In our 12th take at Client Horror Stories, Rachel Smith, PPC Manager at Platform 81, gets us involved in a tale where the actual horror ended up not actually coming from your client, but from your manager instead. Her story (which is told in an enchanting british accent, and accompanied by all sorts of fun british slang) has everything that a good story needs: Drama, hidden information, secret meetings, a really tall guy, and incredibly useful lessons.

Rachel’s narrative teaches us all we need to know when we are the new people in a legacy project, in a much valued client, and how crazy it can get when communication becomes a children’s telephone game. She also gives us some lessons on the type of managers who think that just because they know how to run a business they’ll know how to do everyone’s job better than them, on how to find your way around them, and how to force you into meetings you weren’t invited to.

Today’s story leaves us with a bittersweet taste in our mouths when we realize that, every now and then, we are just going to run into people who really need to be educated on the service that you are selling to them, and not just presenting a report once a month and hope that they understand all of it. In tales like this one, the key is to realize that not everyone can handle the same management style, and that there are moments where you really just have to stand up for yourself and do what has to be done.


Rachel Smith

Platform 81

Morgan Friedman

That time your client was so smoothly turning into your BFF, you didn‘t realize he had made up all his investors (with Jess McCarter)

In our eleventh take at Client Horror Stories, we have Jess McCarter sharing with us a story that started with a way longer meeting than necessary. One of those meetings where they discussed the solution to all the world's problems. And that was the start of many, many meetings like that.

Jess' tale takes us back 15 years when he was still a young start-up founder trying to climb his way in the custom software industry. He landed a massive client on the East Coast with a very ambitious idea that was way ahead of its time idea. Jess' team was blinded by the lights of this huge contract with an ambitious client. Previously they had worked only on small contracts with a fixed scope. But, of course, the team wanted a client with a vast open-ended project. It was an incredibly bright future, or so it seemed. Unfortunately, because due diligence ended up a very low priority, disaster lurked just around the corner.

With today's story, we learn a couple of lessons on managing clients, especially when we don't have so much experience yet, and when we actually believe in our client's project. And with that comes along one of our highlighted quotes of the day: "The only thing worse than no contract is a bad contract." And with that line, Jess pretty much summarizes everything there is to know about encountering the client version of the saying "Jack of all trades, master of none." 

Reaching the very end of this tale, we learn that not every lousy client is a bad person and that working hard and being honest really pays off. Even if it's a couple of years later. 


Jess McCarter

Morgan Friedman

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