In the fourth take of Client Horror Stories, we receive Roger Parent from Digital Position, with a tale that could be classified also as an Employee Horror Story. Today’s narrative includes everything from betrayal, drama and friendship, along with over 10 lessons on managing not only clients and employees, but also every human being relationship you have.
Our story begins with a guy bursting into tears in a desperate ask for a job, and our guy Roger really trying to help him, even when he could not afford him. So an unexpected solution came in the shape of a new client who also had an open position in his business, who’d work side by side with Roger’s agency: A win-win-win situation, right? Well, if that was the case then we would have no story to tell.
Roger’s narration involves budget blow ups, account destructions, ghosting, contract-escaping manners, and even the creation of a brand new separate strategy. However, as we reach the ending of the story, we end up with the sour taste in our mouths that even the most loud and chaotic stories can end up really quiet.
As this tale develops, we’ll have the opportunity to be a part of Morgan and Roger’s moral debate on human nature and expectations, as well as taking advantage of everything that there is to learn here (and I don’t just mean management tips, but also Shakespearean quotes). The bottom line we end up with is pretty simple: Mental health, teamwork and happiness always have to come before money.
“How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is. To have a thankless child.” - William Shakespeare, King Liar.
“Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds.” - William Shakespeare, Sonnet 94.
In our third episode of Client Horror Stories, we have Jason Pittock, CMO of ClickGuard, telling us a passionate and gripping story about making huge deals with big fishes while you are still a reckless (and naive) 21-year-old.
Filled up both with a British accent and Argentinian slang, this story takes us to 6 years ago in the streets of Palermo, Buenos Aires. Back then, Jason, who was a very ambitious and smart young man, happened to land this millionaire deal for the company that he was working for and didn't hesitate for a second before he agreed.
From the beginning, we have a feeling that bad luck was chasing him down: A surprisingly pregnant project manager, broken elevators on delivery day, and a fully flooded storage basement were only the first signs the universe sent Jason to tell him to back off. However, being a persevering and responsible person, Jason continued to do everything he could to accomplish this deal until the very end, when a lawsuit for 50% of the job value arrived.
This story includes everything from lawyers with food stains in their shirts, clients stalking you at the beach, and even calling your dad for some advice. Reaching the end, Jason leaves us with some very valuable lessons on boundaries, mental health, and the importance of telling someone to back off when needed.
In take three of Client Horror Stories, we have Manar Hussain telling us an unbelievable and soap-opera worthy story about a client who showed up on a Friday afternoon saying: “I need to launch on Monday” and ended up, not only with no launch but also hidden under a desk.
Manar and Morgan agree, from minute number one, about how much of a red flag is that someone comes in with an emergency of those characteristics because it makes very obvious the fact that someone before made a really huge mistake. However, being the nice guy he is (and considering how worthy the payment was), Manar said let’s do it and jumped into it.
Decided to focus his entire attention on achieving this goal, Manar got together a team and signed just one work condition: Giving his best efforts to make it happen. Everyone was working crazy and meetings continued happening every two hours to make sure that term was accomplished, when, all of a sudden, they lost access to the servers and were completely ghosted by the same client that started up as the neediest and thankful in the entire world. Having realized that they had been kicked off, Manar and his team got into this intense “Geek-Moral debate” and stress crisis about how much effort they should put given the situation that could have easily been avoided with a simple “Stop working” text.
This story’s dramatic twist includes not only what they learned from it but also a bunch of gossip they learned the days after the incident: “Geek moral debate”, “Hiding under desks” and “reputation of not paying until a lawyer’s involved” are just some of the keywords. Manar here leaves us with some very important business lessons: Decide prior to the beginning what you will do if at some point you don’t get a satisfactory answer and always sign a contract.
The last highlight here is that, if you pay attention, you’ll notice Manar called this experience “the most fun he had had in months”.
In our second episode of Client Horror Stories, Chris Johnston from L2D, tells us a both passionate and unbelievable story about a young start up that he worked with almost ten years ago (but that he remembers as if it’d been yesterday).
From the first moment, Chris and his team developed a very close relationship with this group of young guys with a great idea that they believed in. However, beginning from a surprise move-in that he chose to go along with, bombshells just never stopped coming. Even when Chris and his partners tried to handle them all (because, of course, they happened to be the nicest people ever), things just started to get unbearable.
This story includes everything from employee-kidnap to crazy announcements that required a pizza party to be made, and even a fist fight for a chair. All of this leading to an ending you never expected: Having your company absorbed by someone that began as your super nice StartUp client.
Chris finishes his experience with a couple of very valuable learnings: How to read people outside of the actual content of their words, realizing when it’s time to push the “stop” button with a client (and anyone) and that sometimes you need to prioritize your mental health over money. To conclude, Morgan and Chris give us a bottom line on the importance of writing things down and getting paid on a regular basis, no matter how nice everyone involved is.
In our first take in Client Horror Stories, we have Artur Maklyarevsky from Design2Dev, who’s been in the Startupland for years, sharing with us his heartbreaking (and also very recent) story. You’d think after a long time working with the same type of projects, you are probably going to have everything under control and have a full automated StartUps scientific method, right?
However, Artur here shows us how easy it is to leave aside the key factor when it comes to this field: The failure probability. Yellow flags, unwritten conditions and arrangements, lack of information in a contract that was later used against him, are just a few of the tags this episode could answer to. On and on, Artur kept telling the client what could go wrong and what improvements needed to be done, and on and on his client kept ignoring him, until the least surprising thing ever took place: Every failure that Artur predicted happened. Only this was at their launch party, in front of 300 people.
In this Client Horror Stories episode, we’ll have the opportunity to learn through Artur’s experience on how an idea that seemed very exciting and fun to pull out with a friend turned out to be a conflict-of-interests nightmare that lead to the worst finale: Having a bunch of strangers taking over your project and your team due to a serial of yellow flags you decided to ignore, and a “Don’t worry man, I won’t stiff you” as a Kiss of Death.