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Transcription of Kelsey Knutson’s episode (That time when your client had a meltdown about her bridal look and you ended up not getting paid)

Transcription of Kelsey Knutson’s episode (That time when your client had a meltdown about her bridal look and you ended up not getting paid)

This transcription belongs to Episode #40: Kelsey Knutson bridezilla’s story, brought here for you by Our Beloved Host, Morgan Friedman. Please watch the complete episode here!


 Morgan Friedman (Host): Hey everyone. Welcome back to Client Horror Stories and a bit of a break because it’s busy season here in Morgan Land, but I’m honored and excited to be back with the one and only Kelsey Knutson.

Kelsey, did I pronounce your name correctly? 

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): Yes. Yes, you did.  

Morgan Friedman (Host): Gold star. Gold medal. We can end the podcast right here. I can go home now. 

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): That’s it.  

Morgan Friedman (Host): That’s it. Thanks for coming, folks.  

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): I mean, a lot of people get it wrong, so you should be proud of yourself.  

Morgan Friedman (Host): Oh, yeah. 

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): Yeah. 

Morgan Friedman (Host): Solving the important challenges in life. 

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): World-changing. 

Morgan Friedman (Host): World-changing. So, names are important. I will point out. For believers in the Bible and Genesis, God gave Adam the power to name creatures and name everything. So it’s like a God-given power to name things. So, I think it’s important to get names right. So I’m happy I did. 

And with that biblical epic intro, Kelsey, I’m so excited to hear your story. Tell us about your Client Horror Story. I’m listening away. 

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): Yeah, thanks for having me. I’m excited to have this conversation because it is a conversation.  I’m just going to start off by saying there’s things to learn.

There’s things to… for me to learn in this story, but it’s a good one. It’s juicy. It sticks out. When I first connected with you, Morgan, it was like, this is the one story. So, are you ready, listeners? Let’s dive in.  

Morgan Friedman (Host): I’m ready. 

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): At the time, I am Kelsey and I’m a hair and makeup artist who is building my clientele.

And that matters because the client who I had in this particular story was not mine. It was a friend of a friend who referred me, and that’s how we started off.  In the wedding world, you do a trial run. So we did a trial where you test things out, and we did that and it went well. The day of the wedding…  I like already have a pit in my stomach just reliving this. 

Day of the wedding, I show up. I think I had to start at like 5:30 in the morning. No one was awake. I knock on the door, all the brides, bridesmaids, everyone is still sleeping, so they weren’t ready to go, and so I’m just anxiously waiting for them to get moving so I can start my job  and… oh go ahead. 

Morgan Friedman (Host): I’m going to pause for a moment because I don’t even know what’s going to happen here, but now knowing what’s going to happen, there’s already a couple of interesting yellow or red flags that I think might be useful and interesting to the audience…

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): Yes. 

Morgan Friedman (Host): …to articulate. 

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): Okay. 

Morgan Friedman (Host): First, on the nature of weddings, what’s interesting about a wedding is it’s like a super high-stakes moment. So it’s going to be a moment when everyone is like, “I’m pressured, on edge, and so on.” Like if you’re just a truck driver driving a truck, every day, you do the exact same thing.

Okay. Today I’m delayed. But when it’s like the one and only big event, that will make everyone, especially the bride and groom, go a bit psychologically  unhinged. So that on its own  creates a very high-risk situation. 

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): Totally. And that’s why I include all these little details in this story because it does shape what happened.

And you’re right. It is a big day. When you’re new to the industry, you don’t realize how important it is to your clients. And then  there’s something called no like and trust in the business world. And when that’s not established and that’s not the…  

Morgan Friedman (Host): I’ve never heard of this phrase before. 

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): Really? 

Morgan Friedman (Host): No like and trust?

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): Yeah, so before you sell anyone, before you acquire a client, you have to… they have to know who you are, they have to like you, and then they have to trust you, and it’s this journey that most people go through. So all the brands we love, when we’re referring our favorite restaurant in town, we went through those steps even if we’re not aware of them.

Yeah, and so  because it’s… go ahead. 

Morgan Friedman (Host): The useful metric: know, like, and trust. By the way, when you first said it, I misinterpreted it. I thought it was know as in NO. I was like, no, like, trust? So I was like, I see it. You have to know, like, and trust someone before you… oh, this makes sense. This is  interesting.

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): Yeah, and the reason I bring that up is because, again, as I’ve said in the beginning of the story, it’s referred by a friend of a friend, okay? So, they have… her hairstylist and her have an established relationship of trust that they’ve built over time.  But she trusts her, so she referred her to someone else.

And then that is diminishing the level of trust because she doesn’t know this person who’s then referring me. So I am like the backup, backup, backup quarterback in this game. Like I am the third string.  Okay. Do we move on? Is there anything else we need to unpack here?  

Morgan Friedman (Host): But it’s an all-day unpacking, yes, but I want to also… I also want to mention,  emphasize what you just mentioned, where it’s like a friend of a friend of a friend, which is, I think, at first, you might think that’s high trust. Oh, yeah. My friend trusts them and I trust them. But actually, I think you just actually made a really important point that’s worth emphasizing, and you can actually even model this mathematically.

If your friend trusts the client 90% and you trust your friend 90%, then 0.9 times 0.9 is 0.81, which means there’s really only 80% trust or 81% trust between you and then client, and just due to how math works, that very quickly diminishes. And just because it’s a friend’s friend, it’s really hard.

You emotionally feel like you know them better than you actually do. So it’s really useful to just remember that in mind. 

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): Yeah, absolutely. And the math, that makes so much sense when you say it that way. These are things… by the way, as I’m telling the story, these are things I was not aware of in the moment.

But this is a lot of looking back, soul searching, using it to make myself better. And so  this is cool to kind of dissect. And I’m still learning from it. And this was 10 years ago, 15 years, no, 11 years ago. 

Morgan Friedman (Host): By the way, the best episodes on Client Horror Stories are the ones where you realize new nuances of what happened, which seemed like it’s starting to happen.

I think my strength is I’m good at overdissecting every tiny little detail. So, this is what we’re in search for the next 45 minutes. And with that, we can move on.  

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): I love that you’re sipping tea. It just feels right for this kind of conversation, but yes. We move on, folks. Okay, so, they’re not awake. They’re now they’re now awake because I’m there. 

And we’re already starting off late and chaotic, and they’re all hungover. 

Morgan Friedman (Host): Another risk sign on your own wedding. Starting late, hairstylist waking you up, being being hungover. It’s like they’re not approaching their wedding in a serious way. They’re just approaching it as a party. 

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): Yes. Yeah. I think the way that schedule worked is I’m pretty sure I had like 11 services to do by myself, which is a lot unheard of. 11 services on average, everything, each thing is 45 minutes, so 45 minutes times 11 was the amount of time I would be working in a row, nonstop.  

Morgan Friedman (Host): Wow.  

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): So, I’m working on bridesmaids and we’re having a good time. Everyone’s having fun. I’m getting connected with them. They’re all great. We’re bonding over people we know or colleges… Mutual college things. And then I do the bride’s hair and I finish with it. And I am proud. I’m so proud. I’m like, can I take your photo like this? I did a great job. I turn her around, and we’re in a hotel, so like kind of clunky office chair, turn her around and she just goes, “I effing hate it”  In front of everyone. Yeah.  Uh huh.  

I wish it ended there, but it doesn’t.  But,  yeah.  

Morgan Friedman (Host): Question just because I know absolutely nothing about hairstyles, industry weddings, or any of that.  Like, she hated it, but like, had she seen a model of it? Like, did you do a trial run? Like, did she like the exact same thing beforehand but changed her mind? 

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): Yeah. So,  that’s a great question, and I’ll try my best to kind of explain this for people who don’t know the industry at all, but the trial run I consider to be like a working document, like if you’re doing a drawing it would be like the pencil version where maybe there’s some eraser marks. Yeah, it’s fluid.

Maybe you’re trying a few things. So it’s a rough draft idea of what you’re doing the day of. And so the day of was the same thing we did but just a little more polished.  So the curl… like there was a lot of curls in it, and we wanted them to be more defined, and it was just like a cleaner-looking version of what we did.

And  like, technically speaking, it was great. I delivered that, but  people are funny. People in the business world, in the hair world, they’re not paying you to copy-paste, put something on them.  They’re basically saying, “Hey, this is what I view to be beautiful and what I want. And how do I get you to deliver on that?”

So just because I think something is pretty doesn’t mean that they think something is pretty or that that’s what they want. It’s a communication business, really, is what it comes down to, and how do we get on the same page to make sure we’re achieving a look that’s realistic but also what you want? And that clearly… just because it was technically good Everyone in the room said it was beautiful, I thought it was beautiful. At the end of the day, she’s the one that has to think it’s beautiful.  

Morgan Friedman (Host): Uh, okay. So, a couple of details to unpack there. First, it’s an important point that beauty, hairstyles, is fundamentally subjective, so that puts it…  it moves it out of the category of something like software development, like you built this… when you click this button, that happens or not, and puts it into this world of art where client relationship and client maintenance is much more challenging.

It’s like… like this is sort of like, imagine a client hires you to do a logo but you have to come to like the day of the launch of the brand and like do the logo three hours beforehand. So that adds to the pressure. And what I also want to mention is I really liked your metaphor of the rehearsal hair as a sort of rough draft because what’s interesting is I know nothing about the hairstyles industry, but being a professional and running Client Horror Stories, talking to lots of other professionals, a very common pattern is for everything you do, there’s like the rough draft and there’s the real thing. 

And even in software development. Even if it’s less more objective, you still have the document that outlines what’s going to happen and all these expectations. So it makes sense to me that there’s this same sort of concept in the hairdressing world as well. 

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): Right. Absolutely. And I think, I mean… the point of the story is hopefully you don’t be like me.  Hopefully, we can all come together and learn from this moment and, yeah, we’ll just… we’ll keep it going for now. But yeah. 

Morgan Friedman (Host): But before we decide whether we want to be like you or not, first we need to know what happens next. 

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): I was going to say, because there’s more.  

Morgan Friedman (Host): Oh no, so she said… I often hate it.  You turn white, then what happens?  

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): Uh,  so then, and again, so we already started late, I already signed up, I already it off more than I can chew, and we have a tight timeline, we are behind, and so I’m like, okay.

You need to go figure out what specifically you don’t like about it. Like, go… she had a friend who was… she was kind of talking through, and I was like, please, go look at photos that you like, you don’t like because to me, at this point, I’m not understanding. I’m not seeing what she’s seeing. So… but I had to keep working.

So I sent her off with someone else. 

Morgan Friedman (Host): Right, so from your point of view, this was very similar to the rehearsal, and it looked great. So you just can’t understand why she hates it. 

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): Right. 

Morgan Friedman (Host): Okay, okay. So that… 

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): So that, yeah, I continue working on other people. I’m doing that. She’s coming back to me. She’s crying.

She’s saying all these things, and basically, she just wants a really messy version of what it was. And I’m like, okay. We come to a place where we…  I can fix it. It’s fixable. So I’m finishing the bridesmaids. I squeeze her in. I finish with her.  

Morgan Friedman (Host): I just want to comment on that. I find it fascinating that she actually wanted a messier version because almost all human beings want, like, the neat, clean, nonmessy version  of anything. And I think that’s actually really powerful, because it teaches such an important lesson in life and client management, which is people are weird and want weird things and assume weird things. 

And like, you might assume having a messy bedroom is bad, so you should like have the children clean up their bedroom. But guess what? Maybe some people like the mess and actually want the mess. So, I think part of being a professional is knowing when to question your assumptions. I assume like being messy is bad, but maybe the client actually wants the mess. 

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): Absolutely. And  I mean, yeah, clarifying questions, making sure you understand. It doesn’t matter what I think. It matters what they think. And this applies… because I’m still in the business owner. I don’t do the same thing now, but it a hundred percent applies to what I do now. So  yeah, so that happens. I fix it. You know, it’s at this point, it’s kind of like, we’re doing the best we can with what we have going on. 

It would be like  back to like the sketch analogy. Imagine like a tattoo on your body that you’re trying to cover up. Like, you’re limited in what your options are for your cover-up work. It’s like that. Like, I’m limited on how much I can deconstruct and change things, aside from totally starting from square one, which was not an option. 

Morgan Friedman (Host): That makes sense because of like the time pressure. Like, in an hour, she’s walking down the aisle and you have what’s in the room in 60 minutes. It’s like a reality TV show. 

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): Yeah. Oh, yes. So yeah, I’m like, it keeps going. So then I somehow get everyone done in time, and there’s a point… I’m starting to… I’m beating myself up a bit. As I’m working on other people, I’m trying to still show up and be my best self, but I’m thinking. I’m replaying everything. She clearly was upset. 

Now I’m like, maybe I did mess up, but then I overhear her and she calls her grandma about who is like helping with wedding stuff. I don’t know if she’s setting up or what she’s doing. And she calls her grandma, who I met during the trial. Very nice lady. “I just need you to get the F over here right now. What the F are you doing?” And that’s when I realized, there’s some things I could have done different, you know, some things I own up to. But she’s just a crazy person a little bit too because how do you cuss out your grandma?

Morgan Friedman (Host): Oh, this is an interesting twist.

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): Yeah, yeah. 

Morgan Friedman (Host): So, a few thoughts on cussing at your grandma which I’ve never done. 

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): Same. 

Morgan Friedman (Host): In fact, it’s hard for me to even imagine doing it, but we can try. You know, I like my grandma. Speaking of grandma, my… I’m going to do a little 30-second tangent. It’s going to time. Like my, my grandma had a friend or my aunt had her like… my grandpa, who I didn’t really know, had a friend who was, like, married and divorced, like, 38 times, and was, like, insane. 

And at first, when I was a kid, I used to, like, wonder, like, why would anyone get married, like, more than 30 times? It makes no sense. And then at some point, I realized, “Oh, actually, there’s just some people, especially back then, who would kind of, like, treat marriage the way people today treat having sex,” like, oh, you have to be married before you can have sex.

So, like, marriage, divorce, marriage, divorce, the way people today would have 30 girlfriends, and that’s not a big thing. And I’m using this as a metaphor here because, like, to me, like, you know, cursing at your grandma, it would be terrible. But there’s just some people that just use the F word  just as though it’s in every other day in a word, like to you and me, it has this power to it the way getting married has a power, but the way the guy who got married 38 times, “Oh, whatever, we’ll go to the chapel on Sunday afternoon, and then we’ll get the worst next week.”

And it’s like, is this important for someone that says that way to your grandma that it probably means to her. It’s just not that powerful of a word. It’s just another word. And what’s interesting is these words change in strength over time. So, for example, continuing with the grandma thing, in my grandma’s era, the word damn and hell were like terrible, terrible words.

It was like considered really, really strong when you said, “go to hell” or “get the hell out of here,” while today, if you say “get the hell out of here,” it’s like the children’s word. You don’t care about it. But today it’s strong to say, “get the F out of here.” so it’s also interesting to kind of model her mind, like, “okay.”

So when she said to you, “I f’n hate it,” she’s just this person that exaggerates and uses a strong dramatic language, not because it’s particularly bad or big, but she’s a dramatic person and that’s how she acts. Okay, did all that make sense? 

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): No, you’re absolutely right. It was a way for me to understand her a little more.

It took it off me a little bit. I mean, obviously she was unhappy, but the level of unhappiness and the way she communicated, to be able to measure that to another conversation she had that same day made it make just a little more sense, if that helps. 

Morgan Friedman (Host): No, it totally does. By the way, I may or may not be related to people who may or may not for every little criticism, it’s like the world is ending for the the smallest thing. ” You’re home two minutes late. Oh my God, two minutes. Like I thought a car could have killed you.” So there’s just some people that communicate in this very exaggerated way.

And I think for people who are empathic and emotional, it’s difficult to realize that when they’re so dramatic, it’s not personal against us. They’re not angry at us. It’s just, this is how they communicate.

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): Yes, totally. And are you ready for the last closing action of this story? 

Morgan Friedman (Host): Oh no, oh no.

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): I never got paid. Mm hmm. 

Morgan Friedman (Host): So what’s the backstory there? Or like, what happened after the wedding when you tried to get paid? 

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): Allegedly… air quotes for people listening. The initial friend who booked me gave the bride the impression she was going to handle it or something. But I think she wasn’t happy with the work, so she didn’t pay me.

And, I mean, that whole experience completely changed. I actually stayed in the industry for years and years. It didn’t deter me from being in that industry. It taught me a lot, and moving forward, I would never work until I was paid up front. I mean, so many lessons from this moment. And that’s why I wanted to share it today. Yeah. 

Morgan Friedman (Host): Let’s talk about the ways in which you changed your practice afterwards as a result. 

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): Okay. Everyone, grab a pen and paper because I was able to build a successful business after this experience. Ways I changed: more clarity on who I love to work with and why. When I replay this whole interaction, there’s some questions I should have asked before I said yes to the project.

If I still would have taken something like this on, I made so many assumptions because it was a friend of a friend, so I made assumptions, and I think the bride made assumptions, and I think that led to a miscommunication. So, I would have done a more thorough job of just because you were referred to me doesn’t mean I shortcut what I would normally do in the onboarding process. And then the payment thing. You pay up half up front, you pay half before, the day before. 

Morgan Friedman (Host): By the way, to jump back a second, I really like… I wrote it down… your phrase: questions I should have asked before I said yes.

This is making me think what every professional needs is questions to answer before you accept the job. This should be a thing. We can go create the thing. And I feel like there are some… often people do a half-assed version of that. “Oh, yeah. Oh, look, we’ll discuss payment terms and this and this,” and like, they’re the easy and obvious things that you want to go for, but then that’s where talking gets hard.

Questions that you’ve asked is often they are things you have to ask yourself, not necessarily questions for them. So, for example, is all the stress worth the money? Or you could do things like, after you first meet them, you get a sense of their personality. Well, I have fun doing this because if it’s not going to be fun, then you may wanna either not do it or charge more money for it.

So I think the questions you need to answer yourself before you say yes is a very powerful concept. 

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): Oh, yeah. I said differently. I think saying no is powerful.  I think if something doesn’t feel right, something feels off, or you can feel that like anxiety kind of kick up a notch when you’re presented with an opportunity, even if that opportunity on paper looks good, I think there’s a lot of power in saying no.

Morgan Friedman (Host): So, question, when you first met her for that rehearsal, were there any signs as to her creepiness and this attitude then that you just didn’t pick up on before the wedding? 

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): Oh, yeah. Even… so the friend of the friend, and I know the original person, so it’s not like she was a stranger. I’ve known her. We’ve worked together. We are completely different people. We approach that industry completely differently. 

Our styles are different. And I should have just said no from the beginning because ( a) the time frame, meaning the stylist was agreeing to do the wedding up until I think it was like three months before and then she had to cancel last minute and then the next person had to cancel last minute, that should have all been signs that it was not… under that pressure cooker, I didn’t want to be the one performing.

Morgan Friedman (Host): Okay, so that’s interesting. So I think a very useful question to ask in a lot of professional context is what went wrong with the previous professional you hired? 

Like I’m a digital marketer, and when people come to me, it’s like when they say, “Oh yeah, my last agency, marketing agency, was terrible., And the marketing agency before that was terrible, and the marketing agency before that was terrible.” Like it reaches a certain point where either you’re the least lucky person in who you hire in the universe or the problem is in the agencies.

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): Yes. Yeah. I totally agree. And I think the more I was just picky about who I worked with as a hairstylist and then now as a business coach, and this still rings true, the more I’m picky about who I work with and I go off a feeling like, do I feel like we have a good connection?

That to me almost matters almost more than any of the other questions I asked. I kind of start there and then work backwards. And  if it feels off or if they feel a little bit kind of high maintenance, usually they end up being high maintenance. And just because someone pays me more, sometimes that’s not even worth it.

So I think the more you’re just aware of yourself and how to best match that to the right people, and you’re just confident in that. Saying no to that wishy-washy person with a big checkbook allows more room for that awesome person to come through who’s probably a better fit anyways.

Morgan Friedman (Host): So that’s interesting. I agree with that. So definitely, your gut knows, so try to trust your gut, ancient wisdom, Yoda, and so on. But what I’ll add to that is I feel like one reason why people in our modern society don’t trust their gut more is we’re taught math and numbers have supremacy over everything and you just can’t quantify your gut. So, as a result, everyone’s looking for objective reasons.

Let’s do the mathematical analysis. How long will, say, how much money, and all the creative factors to fit in. How do you do it? But there’s no way you can’t put a number to that. Oh, my gut uneasiness level is at a 62%. Like, that would be pretty funny if you could quantify your gut uneasiness level.

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): Well, I think the people who do it well… if you look at businesses where the business lives on past the CEO, I think it’s because those are the businesses that had seat founders who trusted their gut and continued to find people and bring people alongside them that operated that way, because if you’re just going for a dollar amount or quantifiable goals, you’re never going to be fulfilled because what happens once you achieve that goal? Your purpose, that’s not enough of a purpose or a calling for you to be really passionate anymore.

So then it becomes a logical thing versus a movement. When we think of some companies that have become, like Starbucks has become a movement. Apple, they’re trying, have become a movement. You know, there’s certain ones that really stand out for those reasons.

Morgan Friedman (Host): I agree. I agree. Okay. More ways in which you change your business and lessons you learned as a result of this.

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): Yeah, I do think it’s funny that this was like my intro to the industry and I stuck around.

Morgan Friedman (Host): Oh yeah, this is like your first big project? 

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): The first one that wasn’t like a friend or family, yeah. 

Morgan Friedman (Host): Yeah, friend or family. 

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): Yeah, and I think another big thing is just the willingness to check myself.

So when those, I mean, again, the reason we’re telling this specific story is because it’s that big and that has that much impact on my life. But there’s littler ones that have happened since then. And I think what I do and continue to do is I check in. So whenever there’s a situation like that, if something goes wrong, or I feel like I did a good job and the client isn’t satisfied, even though it stings a little bit, I always take time to assess why.

What could I have done differently? And I think that willingness is something a lot of people actually don’t do. That willingness to be like, “mm, I have to own a little bit of that.”

Morgan Friedman (Host): So, this is interesting. How do you check in with yourself? 

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): Mm, that’s a great question. When it’s When it’s off, it’s off. And I usually… I take a day to just process it.

I usually have to call and complain to someone and just kind of get it out, because we’re humans, you know, I’m just being honest. And once I take a day to just process it, then I try to just… I literally put time on the calendar just to kind of audit things, and I’ll think of things like that specific client, if I had said yes, are there things I could have done differently to have a better outcome?

Oh, you know what? It was my communication. I kind of broke down. I didn’t set the expectation from the beginning or no, really. There’s nothing I could have done differently It probably wasn’t the right client. When I think back to our first conversation were there things that were said that maybe, you know, I kind of brushed over, pretended didn’t happen, things like that.

So I set intentional time for those times to kind of reset. And then very recently, instead of being kind of reactive, having a situation and then processing, now I’m kind of moving into at the first of the month I block out the whole day for my business, I don’t take any meetings, and I literally assess what’s working what’s not so that way i’m actually creating that time and awareness practice so I can get ahead of it.

So hopefully… then I’m just more proactive in my approach to that kind of stuff. 

Morgan Friedman (Host): Oh, this is an interesting point. Two thoughts on that. First, you know, in intelligence agencies, there’s a concept called an AAR for an After Action Review. And what an AAR or After Action Review is, is when something happens, like you have to battle, you’re on a mission, and like, as soon as it’s done, mission accomplished or mission failed, but there’s always like, mission is over, as soon as it’s done, the first thing you do is reviewing what happened and taking out the lessons from it. 

And there are a few variations of the format you can use, but the essential core of it is asking yourself about five questions or your expectations going into the mission; were those expectations met; how, if they weren’t met, how are they different; what could have been done differently; and what are, what are the things that should be done, like, what are the processes that should be changed in the future as a result? 

There are a few variations of that, but I actually find this AR methodology very useful, and after any big project, I block out time just like you do. And also, I like this sort of structure because it gives some sort of structure to like the questions to ask yourself in order, rather than just thinking, “Oh, I should have done this,” thereby forcing you to think through, “okay, what were the signs that I missed?” and so on. 

Second point I want to make on this is  I’ve never heard your idea before, but I really like your idea to take the first day of every month, and for retrospective, what a lot of businesses do is, including mine, is I take the first of the month to do like all the financial reconciliations. So, you already kind of block out a few hours as soon as the month starts for the more numbering part. Remember what we were saying 10 minutes ago about there’s like numbers, but then there’s good instinct.

This is also saying, “okay, you do the numbers, and then, in the less number way, okay, what’s actually been happening in the business? How are things looking? What can we do differently in the next 30 days?” And I actually might adopt the Kelsey Knutson first of the month review. 

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): Thank you. And it’s funny you say that, Morgan, because mine was, same thing, mine started very quantifiable.

What was revenue? How much am I putting aside for a tax savings account? And then I realized there’s more either gut things or just feelings or conversations I’m having that also dictate what’s going on my business and I didn’t have a way to keep track of all that. 

So I just created it for myself. So to me, it’s both. It’s what happened historically this last month, what numbers I track, you know, what’s showing the success of the business, but maybe I had three new connections that, though they didn’t hire me for my service, were super fruitful or they helped me with my business, and I want to be able to pause and acknowledge those things.

So, for me, where am I spending my time, and is it getting me to where I want to go next? Yes or no? It has nothing to do with my story. Sorry. I just had to go there.

Morgan Friedman (Host): The best episodes are the ones we go off in tangents, but actually what’s interesting about this is often, the lessons in client-to-client horror stories are very specific.

Make sure you get the agreement in writing. So that’s a very common type of lesson. But what I like about what you’re doing in this conversation is you’re abstracting it out. And you’re saying, like, how do you set up your own processes in order to recognize these bigger issues in order to prevent them and improve them, such as a monthly  retrospective, the whole month. So it’s actually, in a way, it’s actually more important than, ” Oh, make sure you get the contract in writing.” 

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): I mean, get the contract in writing, but also do these things, and you know, communication. There’s things I can… you heard the story of how it all started off the day of. There’s things I could have done as the professional, “Hey, just a reminder, tomorrow, this is the time you need to wake up. This is how I need everyone to go. Our timeline.” 

Just those little reminders, I could have overcommunicated or, you know, made that more of a priority to ensure that they’re setting me up for success as well, which would have created more time. Who knows?

Morgan Friedman (Host): Who knows? By the way, I’m the kelly Knutson monthly review, what it’s might be interesting to combine that with the sort of AAR-like  questions.

So like, in the last month, what went well, what went wrong, how is this last month different than expectations, did anything happen in this month that should lead to any processes that we should change next month, and so on.

So these two concepts could be linked in an interesting way. 

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): I like that. Yeah. Maybe we’ll have to collaborate and create something.

Morgan Friedman (Host): Fun. We could do a model doc and put it on both of our websites.

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): The listeners didn’t know they were getting some extra bonuses on this episode. If nothing else, I mean, I think you got the gist of between Morgan and I, what we do. So, if you’re listening and this is helpful, create your own and run with it would be my advice. 

Morgan Friedman (Host): Yeah, definitely. There’s no secret sauce. There’s no, like, one question to put in that makes you get it. What’s important is the exercise. But what I also like about your idea of carving out time is my instinct is, and I’m just thinking out loud about how I might implement it for my own life, is to not just do it the first of every month but to change my physical location when I do that. 

And by that I mean, “oh, I usually work from my home or the coworking,  but instead I’ll go to this cafe on this other end of the city that I really like but I never go to” because something happens to me, at least I think it’s a human thing, but I’m not sure that when you change a physical location, you literally see things and think about things in a completely different way. Like, I’m wanting to think about it the last month but then sitting in the same seat where I did all my work in the last month, I’m gonna be thinking the exact same thoughts that I talked about last month. 

But physically changing the location really, really helps me think about things from this outside perspective, which is what you need to do, because that comes to the heart of the Kelsey Knutson monthly review. 

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): Yeah. Yeah. Brilliant. Definitely agree. I mean, for me, it’s the office. Then maybe I just do this on the couch. That’s enough of a change for me.

Morgan Friedman (Host): Yeah. Yeah. It could, it could be as simple as going to the roof  of the apartment building you live in because you go to the roof once every six months or something. But when we are on the roof, you literally see the sky and the air that may or may not be fresh depending on where you live, but at least you see this, like, this like that haven’t opened, which changes your perspective.

So it doesn’t even need to be going across the city. It could be in the same building or on the couch right in front of you.

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): Totally. Totally agree. 

Morgan Friedman (Host): Okay, so now, to wrap back to the story, any other lessons from the story or insights or postscripts that happened thereafter, or did we cover the key points? 

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): That story was the beginning of a big realization as, at that time, a new business owner, which is, I’m not sure everyone will agree with this, but this is what I’ve learned through it. There are people who run businesses who believe things just happen to them.

The economy is bad. It’s out of my control. People don’t have disposable income right now. They don’t want to spend on my business. So and so didn’t market the event that I’m selling at very well, so I’m just not gonna be busy and that… the story was like the beginning of a realization that to get where I want to go in my business and also my life, I kind of have to take some control of that. And yeah there’s other factors that will get thrown in the mix, but I think a true business owner, a true entrepreneur, is more proactive, more visionary, and more able to get out in front of these things and make adjustments if things feel like they’re not going your way.

And that’s something, I just didn’t have ownership. Really what it comes down to is I didn’t have ownership of myself. And once you do, and you’re able to just see bigger, be more agile in those moments, be more decisive in saying no to the things you need to say no to, I just think you have more peace of mind and I also think you’re a more effective entrepreneur.

Morgan Friedman (Host): So, I thought… there’s a lot in there. I definitely agree with that. What’s interesting is I feel like this sort of realization only comes with time. Like I feel like it’s too much to ask a 22-year-old recent college graduate that’s just starting their own thing to have that sort of self confidence because it’s only through trying this falling down, trying that falling down, and so on that you develop your own strength, your own decisions, your own understanding.

This is right. This is wrong. I do it this way. I don’t do that way. And it has to be that way because it’s a 22-year-old just took anything your eyes or anyone said as gospel and repeated it. It would just be a robot that repeating it. They wouldn’t be coming into their own as a professional, which is why I view part of the mission of Client Horror Stories, this conversation, and helping younger versions of ourselves, is not don’t fall down because you have to because you have to learn, but it’s rather here’s how you could fall down so it won’t kill you. So,, rather than losing a million dollars you’ll lose a few thousand dollars, but you but you still have to fall regardless. 

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): Oh, yeah. I mean, you know, our parents all gave us advice we didn’t listen to growing up, and then you get to the other side of adulthood and you realize some of that advice was probably actually pretty good, but you have to live it yourself.

Morgan Friedman (Host): Yeah, and the other point, I think it’s an important philosophical point that’s related to the whole story on this higher, almost existential level is taking ownership of yourself and your life.

So while I agree growing up and then growing, which is basically happens in your teens, and then growing up as a professional, which is what happens in your twenties, you do. So I agree with my last point. It’s too much to ask a 22-year-old to be a grown-up professional. Like, at the same time, what happens when you, when you are a grown-up professional is, what you realize is that when you take ownership of yourself and your decisions, it’s like… actually, here’s… I’m going to change mid-stream to say it in a different way.

I can’t stand to work with people who just blame others and don’t take responsibility themselves. And what’s interesting about that is that people who blame others Even when they are correct, even when all their criticisms are correct. The reality is there’s always something you can do unless you’re God, you’re not perfect.

So even if it’s 99% the other  person’s problem, there’s still that 1%  you could have done and that and that you could have improved and the people that are not willing to be honestly, sincerely introspective for that 1 percent to improve. They’re just going to cause problems because it’s all going to be the blame game, so which is why I think this is an important point on both levels because owning yourself, being responsible, even when you only have power over that 1%, because 99 percent is out of control, is what we need to grow into as professionals, but also from the clients, it’s the exact same thing in reverse.

The clients need to do the exact same thing, and the clients that refuse to do that, and will just blame, blame, blame, blame, blame, that’s a client for someone else, not for me. 

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): Yes. Yeah. And I think, to put it in like a more simple way, that gut feeling that next day when I felt just so small and really disappointed in myself, one version of me could have said, “this is just what weddings are like They’re just not for me.”

And then the other version of me said, “you know, that was a bad experience. I learned some things from it. I don’t want to do it that way again. So, how can I still do this, this thing I love to do, but do it differently.” And that’s the fork in the road I think we all walk down eventually. You know, you kind of, you choose and so many people in my industry, “oh, I can’t do weddings because brides are crazy.”

And that’s the point I was trying to articulate is it’s not necessarily that. Maybe, and maybe it’s not for you. I’m not saying all of this is for people, but where can you just step into that zone of owning your stuff, being confident in who you are, or trying to or learning along the way and instead of letting clients just be crazy and nasty to you, how can you make some shifts so that way you’re not having that experience? 

I mean, that’s the whole point of your podcast, right, is to have these stories, not just end in the negative ending most of them have, but to have a lesson in it and change for people. 

Morgan Friedman (Host): That’s a thousand percent. And then before we wrap up, what I’ll add to your awesome and say, and your a great way of phrasing it, is, I don’t, I forgot what I was going  to say…  but it’s going to be… I hate it when that happens. It’s going to be a world-changing, life-changing  point, but the the world might never know now. 

But, um… oh, I know. I know. Yes, I remember. It took me a second. I’ll say it before I forget it, which is on the higher level, we’re saying that you need to take responsibility for yourself and you want to work with people who take responsibility, but to bring that  down to earth, it’s an interesting aspect of a professional relationship.

I’ve never discussed it on in any episode before but it’s relevant here is who sets the agenda. And by that I mean, there’s one type of professional, where the client comes in and says, I want this I want this I want this. Yeah, I want my hair like this and this nice, and then a professional says “yes. I can do that.”

And then there’s another type of client relationship where the client comes in and the professional says, “okay, you’re getting married, here’s what we do. We do hair like this, prepare like this, the day before we do this, here’s the rehearsal draft version, that’ll happen this there, bam.” And then the client says “yes,” and then the client agrees and works within the framework and the agenda set by the professional.

I think this is an interesting way of thinking about it. I think a very natural progression of a lot of healthy careers is I think most people start out in that first type because like you’re young, you’re young, you don’t know what you’re doing and the client says this and you want to make the client happy.

So you say yes, yes, yes, yes. But as you mature and grow up as a professional and you understand the nuance and difficulties and you develop your own style and your voice and your approach and your own philosophy for what you’re doing, then you eventually reach a point where you can then create the agenda, the frameworks, that you then give to the clients and that shift is what happens when you’re doing well as a professional.

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): Yes, and I’ll add to that one more thing, which is if you are in an, I guess we’re just preaching to business owners, but maybe people who take on projects or something, this could apply. But if you are constantly working with clients who are bringing you down, have that negativity, are difficult to work with, are adding stress, and that is multiplied on almost all of them and you’ve tried these different things, you get to a point where you start to resent them.

And at that point, this is again, all of your clients are this way. They’re making you feel this way, then it’s a little bit on you. And I actually eventually got out of the hair world. You know, I spent years in it, I built up my business, built up my clientele. I had a lovely career in that industry, but I got to a point where I was starting to resent people and I had to check myself and realize it’s not their fault. They’re great people. 

It’s not that they want unrealistic things. It’s that I’ve changed and the way I serve people and want to serve people is different than serving them by doing their hair. And I have to acknowledge that and then act on it. So, there may be some people listening who are in that boat.

Morgan Friedman (Host): Great. Great advice. Well said. Yeah. And it’s often not that they’re crazy, but like. It’s your wedding. It’s the first time you’ve been married. You don’t know what to do. You’re really scared things will go wrong. So it’s just a very difficult situation for mere mortals to be in, and that just accentuates all the craziness.

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): Yes.

Morgan Friedman (Host): Wow. We got a lot of lessons in this episode and a possible Google Doc for like a monthly review outline that maybe we’ll put together and link and link in the show notes. I might put it together for myself anyway. I think I’m going to try this December 1st. Yeah, it’s too late in November. 

Kelsey, this was super interesting and fun. Thank you for coming on, and I’m happy you’re no longer dealing with these disaster situations. 

Kelsey Knutson (Interviewee): Yeah, Morgan, thank you for having this show and approaching such a specific topic in a way that can be fruitful for people. I just think that’s awesome. So thank you very much. This is fun.

Morgan Friedman (Host): And listeners, above all, if you’ve made it this far, I hope you’ve enjoyed listening to it as much as we have talking. Thank you. Until next time.


This transcription belongs to Episode #40, please watch the complete episode here!