This transcription belongs to Episode #31, please watch the complete episode here!
Morgan (Host): Hey everyone! Welcome to the latest episode of ‘Client Horror Stories’. I’m excited about today’s episode. Today’s guest is a little bit like Madonna and Jesus, only goes by her first name, Timmy. Timmy, welcome to our show what are you drinking today?
Timi (Interviewee): Thank you so much, Morgan! You are setting the expectations too high comparing me to Jesus and Madonna, but I try to live up to that. And I’m drinking white wine. I’m enjoying the Spanish sunny days on the Canary Islands. So, white wine is for me. Cheers! What have you got?
Morgan (Host): I’ve got some Ballantines’ whiskey today. I mentioned Madonna, the singer, not Madonna, Jesus’ mother.
Timi (Interviewee): Okay, I will say I was thinking back where did this conversation go? Did I miss misunderstand the whole concept here?
Morgan (Host): So I’m very excited to hear your client’s story and then share what lessons we can learn from them so others don’t need to make the same mistakes as us. I’m not in the Canary Islands, but I’m pretending to be in a forest. Let’s jump in. I’m excited to hear about your disaster.
Timi (Interviewee): Let’s do this. Let’s get this horror story off my chest.
Morgan (Host): Get it out of there.
Timi (Interviewee): So is the whiskey good? It is not too cold, not too warm?
Morgan (Host): It is at the perfect temperature. I’ll do the next podcast from the actual jungle behind me. That would be funny! So let’s jump right to the story. Let’s start from the beginning. I’m all ears!
Timi (Interviewee): So this happened back in sort of early 2020. That’s when I started my own business. I was in that startup phase, so I said yes to everyone. I just wanted to have as many clients as I possibly could. I wanted to build my portfolio and gain more experience running my own business. So, one of my friends heard about what I was doing, and he needed someone to help him with his branding, marketing, and the whole vibes that come with building an entire business. And I had this little voice in the back of my head telling me to not work with a friend of mine. “Don’t do that. It is not going to go well.” But having that little phase in my life with my business not having enough customers at the very beginning. I said agreed. What could go wrong, right.?
Morgan (Host): Yes, what could go wrong? So let’s pause there and remember that this concept of the voice in your head is really interesting. Because so often, the voice knows better than we know consciously. And the interesting fact is that it is surprisingly hard for people to listen to it.
Timi (Interviewee): Yeah, and that voice starts screaming at you when you keep repeating the same mistakes. My learning was hard-won, but it’s not just that, I try not to always rely on just logic and using my rational mind. That’s what I’m working on within the spiritual industry because this is quite acceptable to be more intuitive. But it’s sometimes these things still pop up when your rational mind takes over and decides to take you to go down different paths versus what your little voice is telling you internally. So yeah, I completely agree with you.
Morgan (Host): I think that’s a good point. My rephrasing of your same point is that there are many things that we don’t know the patterns of, like when we recognize patterns but don’t have the language to describe them. My thinking is the voice in your head plays a role when you subconsciously notice patterns and things are not right, but you do not yet have a way to express it to your clear mind. That’s what the voice is, and I believe it challenges many people who see themselves as rational and logical: they search for a clear logical argument, so having that inner voice is easy to ignore.
Timi (Interviewee): Exactly! It’s like understanding your translation process because you’re saying that perhaps you realize some patterns and certain things or maybe they just repeat in your business or your personal life. However, if it does happen in your business life, especially with your clients, then something is wrong, and you’re not paying attention.
Morgan (Host): by the way, in all the episodes I’ve done so far, the little voice never really comes up. I was trying to get at least one new lesson per episode, so now at least I can go retire on the beach of the Canary Islands right now.
Timi (Interviewee): So, I have to finish the episode for you to go to the beach. That’s all now.
Morgan (Host): Yeah, finish the episode. We have not even started yet.
Timi (Interviewee): We are done. Cool story!
Morgan (Host): But I do think that was an important point in our desire to be logical and data-driven; our instinct drives different people to ignore the little voice. But there’s wisdom there, and the wisdom isn’t in this spiritual way. It’s more just that your mind has not yet logically explained the pattern that your subconscious is putting together, so listen to that voice.
Timi (Interviewee): It is like a machine. Your brain has accumulated all the data you have fed into it over the years. Human beings aren’t that special or that difficult to the cortex, so if you understand how to use your brain, you could take advantage of it. Your brain has been bombarded with all this information throughout 10, 15, 50, or 100 years, whatever your age. So when you have to make a decision, do you use your logic or take a step back and see what happens inside your head? What does the internal voice tell you after searching zillion boxes from your brain? Taking the information you have put into your brain, analyzing it, and then letting it generate a result is your inner voice, your gut, your instinct, and your intuition.
Morgan (Host): I love your point!
Timi (Interviewee): It’s not magic. Sorry to ruin this for highly spiritual people. I am highly spiritual as well, but it is not magic. There’s a lot of science to it.
Morgan (Host): Yeah. I’m totally on board. We have different words for expressing the same sorts of concepts.
Timi (Interviewee): Absolutely!
Morgan (Host): So now we’re not going to end the episode here but instead will hear the story. So you heard this voice, working with a friend but did it anyway?
Timi (Interviewee): I completely ignored that little voice. So that was my first mistake and my first lesson because I love making mistakes. Call me crazy, but I love making mistakes because that’s how I can develop and correct things and do things differently. I think when people start looking at mistakes from this perspective, it can teach them a lot. So that was my first mistake there and then, not listening to that inner voice. Then, as we began to work on the project, more and more bombs started popping up, from the crazy bits to the stressful ones to the uncomfortable ones. My client and I went through all the possibilities of what could go wrong with this project itself, and everything went wrong, even things that were outside of my control.
Morgan (Host): I think a lot of power of these stories comes out from specific details. So, although the story is unknown yet everything went wrong. Describe three of the biggest things.
Timi (Interviewee): Most importantly, I have lots, and I’m going to take you all to them so that you can get a better understanding of what happened. Maybe some of you out there can relate to a few of them too, or maybe you can learn from my mistakes so that you do not make them yourself. That’s the whole point of having this conversation. I said yes to this client because he was my friend, and he needed a complete branding concept for his brand-new company. I said yes to this client because he was my friend, and he needed a complete branding concept for his brand-new company. So I was involved in coming up with the whole branding and goal, the name, the colors, the logo, the website, or the whole that comes with it. So when it came to developing the website, I outsourced the development part of the work since I’m not a developer in the conventional sense. While I love creating concepts, I outsource this kind of work to others. I found this amazing contractor who had a great portfolio and a great attitude. He clicked well, character-wise as well. Everything seemed great, and I was thrilled to find the developer of the century.
Morgan (Host): That is also another risk factor if something is too good to be true, it is probably not true. If someone doesn’t have any imperfections, what that means is there are imperfections, you’re just not seeing them.
Timi (Interviewee): You’re so spot on that as well because that imperfection that came up was quite a big one. Then my mind started to click when I realized why everything seemed so good initially, and that’s when that little voice came back and asked, “How did you not see it coming?” It was so obvious, and then looking back I realized the signs that led up to it. As much as I could go on for hours about just this one hiccup, this amazing developer suddenly disappeared. He stopped replying to my emails and stopped picking up my phone calls.
Morgan (Host): Oh, I need to drink to that!
Timi (Interviewee): Yeah, it’s almost like they disappeared in a void and we couldn’t track them down. At the same time, I had a deadline with my clients to deliver the website which was not even half done. I just had the concept. Everything seemed to be on Track timeline-wise until this guy completely disappeared. So it took me about good two weeks and a lot of stressful days and nights trying to find a replacement and find out what happened. Turned out this guy had an existential crisis. In our conversations, we often discussed self-awareness and purpose in life because we connected character-wise, but it led him down that path when he had a breakdown, and he shut down everything.
As a result, I respect that and won’t be pushing if that’s happening since your mental health is more important than anything else. However, it was having such a negative impact on the entire situation I was fighting for my credibility and my trustworthiness with the client because that was also what he expected of me since we worked together before in the same company. So he knew that my top quality was being reliable and trustworthy. So when those things happened, everything went out of my control. And I was late with delivering the website, which undermined my credibility and my trustworthiness straight away. So that was the smallest hiccup along the journey.
Morgan (Host): So, let’s talk about that. I would say that the most important lesson I would give anyone from the ‘Client Horror Stories’ episodes is that the failure to communicate about a problem is almost always worse than the problem itself. It’s perfectly fine if you’re having an existential crisis or being unable to work, as long as you tell us so that we can tell you about it, otherwise, you’ll lose those two weeks and cannot solve problems. So the problem wasn’t the existential crisis. The problem was him not communicating with you about what was happening in his life.
Timi (Interviewee): There was no information at all because it was impossible to make assumptions, especially when you are already in the middle of a project and you can’t manage things just by assuming that the other person will understand what is going on with them. It would have been great if this person had told me about these things as soon as he realized them because these things kept coming up throughout our conversations. Even though we were supposed to be checking on the project itself, we would end up having a much longer chat about his life and the problems he was facing. In addition, there were a lot of things coming with his crisis, which I could have picked up on and asked him there and then.
I think what that taught me personally was to always look at what’s happening in the person’s life, especially if I’m outsourcing something to someone, and to prioritize my personal life over my professional life, even if that’s not the best long-term strategy. I think in long term, it is much more efficient than short-term gains. However, not many businesses would do that. Rather they look at quick profits and let the project go. I would prefer to work with someone I know is in the right frame of mind. My biggest lesson there was to check in with the person before I started working with them. That’s how they can go over and beyond what’s expected of them. Like, how is everything? What’s going on with you?
Morgan (Host): So, I think that’s a great lesson. A big company has a lot of advantages over a small company, such as a one-man software development company, as opposed to a software development company with 1000 employees or one lawyer versus a huge law firm. Because what I mean is that we need to become drunk with this, and I appreciate that you’re taking a sip of wine. The reason I say that is that with any small company, there is always a risk that the company could collapse at any moment. It could be one person having a breakdown or it could be three partners fighting for whatever business reason. Years ago, I ran a company with me and my partner, a software developer, died in a car crash. So people die. Speaking of spirituality, we prefer work more than our life. There is one key difference between big companies and smaller ones: large companies have extra people sitting and other people watching them so that there is an instant continuity when any individual breaks down, leaves, or quits. That’s one of the reasons why big companies charge five to ten times more!
Timi (Interviewee): I completely get that. I used to work with big corporate companies as well. And one of the tasks that I was doing with them is setting up the processes into one best-way format so that if someone would leave, like one cog of the machine would go out, then you can easily replace it with someone else. Despite that, when you are starting your own business or if you are self-employed, you need to deal with all of the administration, getting clients, marketing, finances, and all of that stuff, especially in the beginning. You don’t have any luxury. Having a right-hand person to delegate to and having these people in the system should be the standard. Otherwise, you could have more issue that needs to be dealt with. What would you do if you would be the one having an existential crisis? What if you suddenly wake up and ask yourself, is this the business I want to be running? then what happens?
Morgan (Host): Why do I exist? Do I even exist?
Timi (Interviewee): Is everything even real? What is happening? So yeah, that could also happen. As for this guy, I did file for him, but I also got upset and brought a lot of emotion into the process, which maybe wasn’t the best thing to do. I got upset because I did not have the information about what was happening, which would have allowed me to easily come up with a solution, and I would have easily said, “Okay, I wish you all the best. Let’s talk when you’re feeling better.” And that’s it. Instead, he ended up wasting my time and the client’s time as well. In the end, I had to look for an alternative which also meant finding reliable developers with a very short notice period which was not that easy.
You probably know being in that sector previously yourself. So when I did find an alternative to replace this poor chap who was having this breakdown, I had to pay extra for him to deliver things fast. So in the end, my set of profit on that side of the project was nonexistent because I prioritized the client’s experience over my profit. After all, he didn’t know what was happening. I didn’t have the information to tell him because no one was telling me what was happening. It was still a good experience to walk away from that client since I still made half of the profits on the other side of the project, but that’s another cool aspect, and it cost me both money-wise and time-wise. That’s why I decided that’s more important for me with this client.
Morgan (Host): I want to share two processes that I do to help minimize problems because I’m a small company owner. I’m not high as Google. First, the way I work with my teams is, I insist on complete transparency. For every communication, we use a system that I’m in love with, Base Camp, where every conversation is public. Every document is public within the team that’s working on it. As an example, if you’re creating a Google Presentation and it’s in a shared Google Drive, everyone can see it with the stream of updates. This is great because if someone disappears, has an existential crisis, or stops working, you will see them instantly because none of the dots they were working on have been updated since that date.
As a result, you get a feel rather than saying, “Oh, I’ll contact them in a few days.” You see immediately that there’s been no action, and you can only see that if you have transparency. The second thing I do is have different people do the same job in different positions in the whole company. So I have a few writers, and a few different web developers and the power of that system is if one of them disappears, I temporarily get more work from the other two until I find someone else to replace that one. So it makes things much easier. And by the way, I had many people disappear like that. That’s why I built this system explicitly to avoid having such problems.
Timi (Interviewee): It’s a stressful situation as well, and on top of that, it created all the problems that I described, but on a personal level, it also made me doubt my abilities. Why was I not in a position to be able to get this information out of him? Why did he feel that he couldn’t share this information with me? So at the end of the day, it made me question myself as well. Did I create an environment in which he couldn’t open up enough? Did I create too many expectations, or were the deadlines too unrealistic for him? So I looked at it from that perspective, as well to see and explore, was it me creating the situation because of my expectations?
Morgan (Host): And what conclusion did you come to? Are you now creating different environments?
Timi (Interviewee): I wasn’t me. Specifically, in that case though. I’m always willing to learn, and one of the things I enjoy doing is creating the kinds of environments where people can just be themselves and speak up to anyone at any time. I always believe that when you nurture that kind of environment at work, if someone has a better idea than you do or you’re wrong about something, that person will speak up. This is true whether I’m working for my own business or for previous employers who were managing teams at director-level positions.
And in that kind of setting, clients and customers will also have a positive experience because if something is wrong or could have been done more effectively, but I’m not aware of it, I’d like to know about it and I’ll give credit where credit is due. I enjoy thinking more intelligently than I do. I like that you are better than me. I don’t have to be the best at everything just because I had an idea. You should surround yourself with people who are better than you in some things and let them enjoy their fields of expertise. If you’re a leader, a business owner, or have clients, your job is to run the whole thing, have the vision, and move things forward. Have your people there, let them play with it and let them create that transparent environment, which I have since that situation.
Morgan (Host): So, it was the first problem that the software developer disappeared. Now tell us a different incident that happened.
Timi (Interviewee): I think that should have been my big clue to stop the project but instead I carried on.
Morgan (Host): You didn’t listen to your gut which probably told you to stop the project.
Timi (Interviewee): I kept on pushing it. Then another thing happened that I found odd. I was only responsible for the branding in the market as I explained earlier, and then one day, I kept getting emails from the team of company, telling me that their email addresses were not set off, and were not working. And I was completely confused about what was happening. Why were they asking me all these IT-related questions? I had nothing to do with setting them up on their email servers and this and that. And it got to the point that the client of mine, my friend, just ended up telling his team to contact me she will help you with this. So, maybe I didn’t set those boundaries.
It was my responsibility to explain to his team and to my client where my responsibility ends. In the end, I went like, “Okay, I’ll do that too, don’t worry. Yeah, of course, you can ask me these questions.” Until it got to the point that I was getting these IT-related questions that had nothing to do with me or marketing at all. And those guys on the team were getting a bit upset with me like why is Timi not helping us? Because that’s what my client was telling them, “Go and ask her. She will help you set up your email accounts.” To me, that had nothing to do with the task. Is that something that you came across as well?
Morgan (Host): Only every day in my life but Yes. Boundaries and expectations are important. Before I speak my thoughts, my question is how did you address that situation? How did you do it? Did you ask them to pay you more because you were working more? Or you told them that it was out of your scope? How did you do it?
Timi (Interviewee): I knew that I don’t enjoy personally getting involved with IT-related tasks. So I outsource this to someone else. It was not going to be good for me as I was not enjoying it. I recommended some people out there who specialized in those fields instead, and I also sent them the information I found online, like how to set these up on your investor, which they could have done themselves, but it was an odd situation that they had to deal with. So I clearly explained to them that this, unfortunately, had nothing to do with my sort of scoop here with the project, and it was not even marketing related. How do you set up your business email accounts?
They should have someone in the company to manage their networks and email accounts, and all of these things. So I nicely directed them in a different direction. Strangely, I was experiencing the same problem as the developer guy; I wasn’t receiving information from my client. The information was not coming through. Instead, I was being contacted directly by his team, without the client telling me to expect that they would contact me. They became frustrated because they didn’t know that I wasn’t the real person who was going to fix their problem for them. So, it goes back down to lack of communication or miscommunication again. With better communication, we would have avoided a situation like that.
Morgan (Host): So why do you think your friend didn’t tell you that his team members were going to reach out to you?
Timi (Interviewee): Because of that boundary issue! I knew that because I hadn’t said ‘No’ before, and there had been a lot of smaller bits leading up to this point. And I kept saying yes out of respect because he was my friend. I helped him even though things were out of my project scope. I was supportive and trying to be helpful, which was not creating a good separation at all because he was expecting something completely different than the actual setup. As a result of this experience, I now have a very clear understanding of what I can do for someone when I work with them. So these things do not happen again. It is all about communication. A lot of the mistakes that you encounter in business can be easily avoided if people were better or stronger communicators. That’s usually the key there.
Morgan (Host): It can be interpreted more or less cynically. If we’re not in a cynical mood, we can communicate about anything. Perhaps the more cynical take to imply is that occasionally stronger parties will take advantage of a weaker party by declaring, “I don’t want to hire someone.” She has supported me. She was always eager to help. Why not simply offer her these this, this, and this? It’s similar to when someone intentionally tests your boundaries.
Timi (Interviewee): Yeah, exactly, that’s what was going on there because he knew his mark in his ways, and I can’t blame him for that, since it would have taken him less time to run this past me. I don’t blame him for trying to do this at all. In general, it just goes against my core values, and I try not to push people too much if I know what we agreed to. Let’s stick with it and let’s figure out how to make things fair.
Morgan (Host): It’s interesting that your friend was…
Timi (Interviewee): We are not friends anymore!
Morgan (Host): Oh, now I see that!
Timi (Interviewee): This whole project damaged our overall friendship. We didn’t even speak for about a year after that happened. We even ended the project early in the end. We decided to stop this because things were not working out at all. And I should have done that when the developer had a breakdown. We were not on bad terms, but we did not communicate much with each other after that. So, I won’t call him a friend anymore; he was someone I used to know. But this is one of the other lessons as well. It all begins when you decide to take on a friend as a client. Since I know you are the client or the contractor, or the other way around, expect your dynamics to change within the friendship because one of you will be over and below the other.
The dynamics will change, and if you are not completely saturated, which many people aren’t, it could affect your day-to-day friendship as well. Perhaps you are talented enough to completely separate your friendship from your business project, but I’m not sure what the right word would be. I don’t want to do that anymore. I realized that it’s not a good combination. Like why not just keep friends and just have fun with them? Even if things go bad, let’s do business with people who are my high end and don’t do two things at once because it doesn’t lead down a happy or fun path. Well, yeah, you were right that it was a bit of a power play there.
Morgan (Host): Yeah. Working with friends is powerful because you can see their strengths and weaknesses. If I were you, I would make a stronger version of your argument, where you are not saying you don’t want to work with them, or that you are not prepared for the dynamics to change. It’s just you have to be prepared to lose that friend. So the question is always, is this project more important than this friendship? And by the way, there is no right or wrong answer. It’s about degrees of friendship. If you are just an acquaintance from parties then it is not a big deal, but if it is your best friend since childhood, it can be disastrous.
Timi (Interviewee): It also means that every time you work with your friend or take him on as a client, this will happen. It is not just my case, I have heard similar stories from other people as well. So I know that it’s probably more likely to happen than not likely to happen. Maybe that’s what it is. But it’s a different story. It might work out if you partner up with a friend who is on the same level as you and you both run the same business, but you perform different functions. Because as you also mentioned earlier, if you know each other’s strengths, you can know how to let the other person do what they do best. The dynamic shifts when one of you is above the other one, and then you have different sorts of expectations of the other person. As you said, if things go wrong, just be prepared to say goodbye to that friend if the project is more important to you, but nowadays, I choose people over projects and so far I haven’t had any problems.
Morgan (Host): I would answer that It’s not clear to me that it might be less risky if you’re a business partner, as opposed to a vendor contractor. Having a vendor relationship is easy because you just pay them what you need to pay them when things don’t work out. If someone is a partner, and they have 50% equity, or they’re underperforming, or they’re on vacation, it’s much more difficult to fire them. It’s also harder to judge a partner objectively. As well as a partner, you expect them to do different things, whereas the vendor just makes fun logos.
Timi (Interviewee): You are covering some good angles there as well. Maybe I haven’t explained my point of view well enough. But I can see what you mean as well. When you have shifted dynamics, there is more likelihood of these issues coming out. Because if there is going to be an issue, it doesn’t matter what level you are in the company, the issues will occur, and yes, your friends might be impacted by it. The likeliness of these things happening is a lot more often. I mean, for example, working in the same company and having your manager as a friend will have an impact on work. The likelihood of these things happening is a lot higher when you’re above one another in the business hierarchy.
It might not even happen very often, but it’s more likely. It’s more likely that these things will come up and these dynamic issues will be exposed versus if you and your partner have the same authority and responsibility level. If things go wrong, it’s uncomfortable. I agree with you that if things go wrong, it will be much more difficult to part ways if you are both partners, 100%.
Morgan (Host): Yeah, that makes sense! An old English saying, “Good fences make good neighbors”. And I think it’s a useful phrase to remember when you want to work with your neighbor. Keep a fence between you. You stay on one side, and your friend stays on the other. That is an excellent way to minimize problems with Friends whom you are doing business with.
Timi (Interviewee): I believe that if there are clear expectations, boundaries, and communication, those things can eliminate problems even before they arise.
Morgan (Host): I have a question, “Why do you think so many people don’t set clear expectations and clear boundaries?” While your point is well taken, I wonder why so many people do not set clear expectations and clear boundaries. What do you think?
Timi (Interviewee): I think it comes down to self-confidence. To be able to speak up and say, “Okay, this is where my work ends, here’s what you can expect from me,” that takes a certain amount of confidence and determination as an individual. To present that level of confidence, you need to be aware of both your strengths and weaknesses. My goal isn’t to take on roles or activities that will expose my weaknesses, so it comes down to understanding yourself as well as your character in the business. Whether or not this is the end of the sort of project or the end of my thoughts, I can’t say for certain. If not, then why am I not mentioning if things go wrong? Why do I keep taking on more work or keep dealing with this client?
And just listening back to some of your previous episodes, many of us had this sort of issue of not letting it go. So, why are we not speaking up? Maybe it comes down to self-confidence and also letting go of the fear of losing that project and client.
There was probably another big factor. Especially if your company is still in its early stages, you don’t have a lot of customers, or you don’t have enough income flowing in. He was one of my first few clients, thus in my situation, that was one of the reasons I wanted to build my portfolio. That was the key motive for my statement that I knew he was a friend. It would be best if I worked with him to learn. It could have been a fantastic company to include in my portfolio. In my situation, that’s probably why I wasn’t speaking out enough and kept saying yes to all these odd requests. If someone is concerned about not generating enough revenue in a quarter or a year, that could be another reason why they don’t speak up or set clear boundaries because the risk is always there.
How is the client going to react if I speak up? What is the client going to say? Would they finish off the contract early or drop me? You get all of these concerns. However, if I had some data, I would have loved to dig into some of it, and that’s my rational mind thinking since I love data too. Please share any data you may have with me if you are listening to this and I would love to know what the top reasons people would not stand up for themselves are. If I had to bet on it; I would go with the lack of confidence in your abilities to say no to someone. I’m not sure what you think.
Morgan (Host): Well, I have developed a theory in my head.
Timi (Interviewee): Oh, is it about me? I’m curious!
Morgan (Host): My theory is about two minutes old, which means it’s likely to be completely wrong, but I will share it anyway. I think the whole modern world or modernity is all about breaking down boundaries. You probably think that your grandparents used to be like this, but in so many ways the old world was all about fences. This is there. That’s on the other side of the fence. It’s just how it is, but in every way, the modern era is the same as the pattern of man’s evolution. Oh, there’s this big immigration debate going on everywhere. Describe immigration.
There are two countries — this one and that one — and a border separates them. Simply put, immigration is dismantling it. It’s 2022. Transgender issues are significant. 100 years ago, it was either man or woman. The line between the so and so is being blurred in this modern environment. One of the things we were getting to in our episode was that boundaries are wonderful, and you have to do them, and that’s the whole point. Growing up, everything and the media, TV, and the people around you, don’t seem to have boundaries or have bad boundaries. Even though in a business situation where a boundary is important, your little voice will tell you that this is bad. The problem is that you’re going to feel bad for setting boundaries, but you want them, so you won’t talk about it. What do you think of this?
Timi (Interviewee): Yeah, it’s an interesting theory, and it makes a lot of sense. That’s probably why people would also do it because it is quite a complex thing with, many subconscious signals involved. It could be a combination of what you’re saying, what I’m saying, and many other things that we have, and how they all come together. But I also believe that it’s up to the person in that situation and why they don’t set clear expectations or how they don’t set the right tone in more of a black-and-white way. This is how I work as well. Furthermore, there could also be a lot out there that could also affect this, especially the people who are driven to create something, and those are the ones who usually start their businesses.
Those who are ambitious have this drive to leave a legacy or to make a difference. People who are either self-employed or own their businesses will go through that phase when they think that’s what I am here for. I’m here to help my customers. I’m here to help my neighborhood. My company is here to help. In addition to the other factors we discussed, there may also be the factor that I don’t know much about the world, society, or anything else, so that may also be a factor that indicates I need to serve the client. The client is always correct. I’m here to help with a variety of things.
Morgan (Host): it seems to be a combination of both your analysis and mine. Here’s a variation on your study in which it’s typical for many people to value confidence. I also believe it to be an issue of experience. Once you reach the age of 40, you have likely done this long enough to be familiar with the process. When you’re 20 or just starting and have no understanding of what’s meant to happen, it consequently becomes a lot difficult to do. Professionally, I suppose it’s just experience, but I believe this is another aspect of your expertise. Confidence and age frequently go hand in hand.
Timi (Interviewee): Absolutely! Your business age is a vital factor too. Your business age is your new age. It is your new birthday when you start your home business. You go through the same development process with your business as you went in your real life. The same way you learned how to read and write as a child, you need to learn similar things in your business life, like how do I recruit? How do I find customers? How do I pay my bills? All of those things.
Morgan (Host): This metaphor never occurred to me before, but I like how it goes through different stages that could be compared to growing up.
Timi (Interviewee): There are always examples when you see, for instance, unicorn startups. That’s a different story. What if we discuss the typical or average type of business that exists and takes some time to expand rather than starting with a huge growth spike before exploding? However, it is rather typical; they develop, stagnate for a while, then pick up steam once more before blasting off in two to three years. They go right up and then start scaling. So that’s the type of example I’m using to illustrate my point. These milestones do exist.
Whether you are a solo entrepreneur or running a whole company, as a business owner or a self-employed person, you will go through the same teething problems as anyone else. As a result, although people will listen to these episodes, and they will learn a ton of these things that they should avoid, something else can come that we haven’t talked about here. This is also a possibility that you say yes to the client instead of your friend and still ended up clashing. It is also possible to compare this to, for example, working and then going to school and graduating.
Morgan (Host): It might be a fun article to write. So back to the start; you heard the voice in the back of your head, but you went to this project; everything that could go wrong went wrong. We deep-dived into the specific examples. Now, I know you’re no longer friends. Was there a big failure like what ended up happening?
Timi (Interviewee): It led to the point that I realized that I needed to end this project before I came to that conclusion. I went through this phase internally as a person and as a business professional. It led me to start questioning my ability and my entire business. So the full circle is quite funny. I ended up having a mini existential crisis because I started questioning my passion, intentions, and my skills. I knew what I love to do, and I enjoy what I’m doing. There were a lot of bumps in the road along the way, and these are just the two major ones I mentioned. All of these things added up until I started to question myself, and then it affected my personal life as well. So I started feeling de-motivated. I started slowly going downhill and questioning if was what I wanted. Like is it how this is going to work? Is this what this means to have a business like maybe I don’t want to deal with this. Maybe, I do not want to have these many stressful days and nights and stay up until midnight or 1 o’clock just to complete some quick tasks for this client.
So yeah, I went through this phase internally when I was questioning things and my abilities, and then I had to force myself to take a step back. I didn’t have clarity around the project itself. And I wanted to do a bit of analysis to see what happened from the moment the project started. What were the hiccups? And where were the problems? And then what could I have done to avoid these? And how could I make sure that this doesn’t happen again? And that’s when I realized that many of these things were out of my control.
And even though these bumps came up, I handled them so well, like finding another developer so quickly who managed to deliver the project even better than how the first draft turned out. So that was my internal little crisis before I realized, “Okay, this is not having a good impact on me, and I need to end this project.” Because if I carry on with this project, it would feel forced. I didn’t feel that I was enjoying the process anymore. And that was the entire reason why I started my own business to have fun and to make a living out of what I love doing. Very quickly, I ended up in a situation where I wasn’t loving what I was doing. It wasn’t a great scenario. So I decided I needed to cut out this project, so I could focus on more aligned customers that I would click with.
So the funniest thing about how this happened; this was on a Sunday. My mind was running through this decision when I realized that Monday morning I’m going to email him to set up a meeting and let’s see where we stand and whom I would recommend to him. In the morning, I woke up around eight or nine, to email, and I could see an email coming from him literally as I was typing the email to him, telling me the same thing. So for some magical reason, we both ended up coming to the same conclusion. We still had that connection between us because we knew each other so well, even though it hurt our friendship. We both realized this was not going to work out and we didn’t want to force it anymore since it had already negatively impacted our friendship. So we had a nice conversation. I told him my perspective, he told me his perspective.
Once we realized we couldn’t do this, everything else was perfectly handled, so there were no pending payments or projects. I delivered what was still pending. He sent all the remaining invoices, so there are no issues there in the end. But it had that bad feeling. It left that bad feeling in me and also the fact that I started questioning my ability. That was the biggest wake-up call for me. And that’s when I realized that this was not the project I needed. If a project makes you question your abilities, something’s wrong with that project.
Morgan (Host): So that’s interesting. I’m happy there’s a happy ending, even though you’re no longer friends, so it’s as happy as it could be. Everyone is different in their way. I think there are healthy and unhealthy ways to question your abilities. My experiences have taught me that in healthy projects, I usually do not question my capabilities, and that’s what forces you to up your game to reach the next level.
Timi (Interviewee): That’s a different story when you take stock of where you are and where you want to be. The moment you begin to question those abilities that you’re 100% sure are your strengths, then you realize something is wrong. So this was not the greatest experience for me from that perspective, but that’s exactly what I needed. And I’m so grateful that this happened, the entire thing with all the stressful, crazy moments and even the fact how it impacted my friendship because it taught me so many things that otherwise would have taken me maybe 2,3,5 years to learn. After running that project for six months and dealing with those things, I learned this.
And, you know, it did make me question what I wanted moving forward. In addition to that, it also helped me refine my audience to create a much better customer avatar, knowing who I would enjoy working with. And since that moment, I never had a bad customer or a stressful customer. All of those people that I’m working with for the last nearly two years now; I love every moment of it. Despite that, I am not experiencing any conflicts or issues because I learned my lesson quite early on, for which I will forever be grateful. If I had to take anything away from the entire project and experience, it would be that it accelerated my business and personal growth as well as my skill-sets. The experience taught me to brush up on my existing skill set to take me one level up at that time, as you mentioned.
Morgan (Host): Yeah, humans only grow with challenges. So we need to be in the sort of hard situations to learn. In my opinion, the challenge is you should always be in situations that are just difficult enough but above your level so that you can learn from them. However, if it’s too much, then that’s when it becomes a true disaster.
Timi (Interviewee): Yeah, exactly! And I think that as well. I don’t know any business or business owner who’s never had a difficult situation. I wish that was not what business or life was about. As a business owner, the only thing you can control is when these things happen when these challenges arise, there is only one thing you can control in those situations, and that is how you react to them. Would you react in a way that would make you angry, upset, or frustrated or would you start having arguments with your contractors, your team, or your customers?
Instead, take a step back and realize this might teach me something. Let me see what I can do differently. Let me see why is this happening. Let me understand the other side. Why is the other side doing this? What’s happening here, and what is the root cause of the problem? If you just do a simple root cause analysis, you can get to the bottom of things, which usually is miscommunication. Just to recap, no communication and no boundaries are the main issues. So it’s always worth stepping outside of that scenario for a bit.
Morgan (Host): I think it’s great when you do a simple root cause analysis because when I tend to do analysis, it often goes too deep into questions like why, why why? Why it always ends like this? Why do I even exist, and why am I doing a root cause analysis? It always takes us back to existential crises, which makes things more difficult.
Timi (Interviewee): I tell you that what works well for me is that I have created a concept, and I teach this to my clients as well. Instead of creating a vision or a mission statement For their business, I ask my clients to make an impact statement. I ask them to come up with a statement to summarize or articulate what kind of positive impact they want their business to have. Their personal impact can be anything, from changing the environment to improving their industry or serving their customers better. What’s the point of reminding yourself about your mission and vision statements that nobody ever reads back once they’ve been written? As a human being, you use your impact statement because when these things happen, you have to go through a root cause analysis, and then you reach an existential point.
You have to ask yourself, Is this in line with my impact statement If I do this, will it help me make the impact that I want with this business? If the answer is no, you have to leave. Keeping an objective eye on the situation while still maintaining your personality that isn’t influenced by your current emotions is the best way for you to remain objective. I am sure there are a lot more methods out there as well. It’s something that I find easy because it’s not quite complex, and it’s something you can always pull out of the bag whenever it’s needed.
Morgan (Host): I’ve never written an impact statement, and I’ve never even heard of that before, but I might try.
Timi (Interviewee): I came up with it, that is why!
Morgan (Host): I think I’ll try it at least once. I’ll adopt that, and we’ll see how it goes. I’ll keep you updated.
Timi (Interviewee): It’s exciting. Just coming up with your impact statement is fun as well. I know what my impact statement is because that’s how it helped me as well to understand where I want to grow my business and even what kind of clients I want to be taking on. After that, I became quite selective with who I work with because now I realized that it’s much better to work with the kind of people that you’re quick with. So my impact statement for my business is that my business empowers large crowds of change-makers to make our world a better place, but it doesn’t include how. It could be anything, but it tells me that this is the direction I should go in and the kind of audience I should target. This is why I’m doing it. If I empower large crowds of change-makers, it will make the world a better place. It would make my business a better place. It would make so many things a better place. So I might, as well, make a living out of doing something that fulfilling.
Morgan (Host): I love it. I think it’s great. It has been a fun conversation!
Timi (Interviewee): I know. We could talk for 10 hours probably.
Morgan (Host): But I liked how we deep-dived into a few different parts and got a few different and surprisingly good lessons out. We even went back to the existential questions, why they exist, and came up with best practices for many problems. And thank you for coming. And thanks to everyone who’s made it to the end. Thank you for making it this far. I hope you had as much fun and you got to see what we got as well.
Timi (Interviewee): And thanks for having me. It was super fun to be here!
Morgan (Host): Thank you! Bye, everyone!
This transcription belongs to Episode #31, please watch the complete episode here!