I realize now that there is a certain caliber of proficiency and engagement that I require in order to be involved with a creative project. No longer am I willing to give people my time and effort once success has been sabotaged. I don’t pretend to know when something is going to succeed, but I’ve been on enough sinking ships to know when failure is inevitable.
If I’m sending you this link, it’s because I truly do want to play with you on your project. These are my terms:
- When you ask me for my opinion, I will give you my usually strong and often quite well-informed opinion. Other times I’ll say I don’t care, and I always mean it when I say it (I try to make this my default response). My approach to most anything is usually different than everybody else. I’m fine with that, and I expect you to be too.
- I don’t need to struggle and I certainly don’t need to win. Still, it is disheartening for me to be asked for my expertise and then have things go another way for reasons that don’t make any sense to me. I’m a big boy, I’ll be fine. Yet after some number of repetitions, I’ll probably be less likely to try and explain or get excited about justifying your idea. Then eventually I’ll wander off when it’s clear to me that I’m not needed.
- It is difficult have a problem-solving conversation with people who are emotionally attached. Never lead with your identity. I don’t care who I am or who we are, I care what the target people do. Let’s focus on that!
- Money is not what drives me, I would have a lot more of it if it did. However, clear agreements around compensation and commitments are critical. You can always be upfront with me, and you can expect that I will be with you. If you’re having trouble paying me for whatever reason, tell me and we’ll work it out. If you undermine our agreement (as opposed to renegotiating it), I will stop working until you address it. Simple.
- Here is what I ALWAYS want to know:
- Who is the target? The more specific the better, the more exclusive the better. All others are not the target, so don’t design for them. Other folks who are not the target group can still like the work and find plenty of value (it’s great when they do!), but don’t need them to in order to be successful.
- Does the target understand what it is instantly? If not, fail. If yes, proceed.
- Does the target understand what the desired action is and how to initiate it? If not, fail. If yes, proceed.
- How often does the target take the desired action? This is the most important success metric, without it I don’t think it’s possible to be professional/serious. There is a passive version, “How often does the target feel the desired feeling?” but it’s really just a lead up to the active version, and with a little work it will get there which always pays off way more.
- What does the target remember about the experience after the fact? This is also measurable, though not usually as easily. It is the next most important success gauge. It is critical for getting people to show up to events and buy again later and recommend to others and other important stuff.
If you don’t need my opinion and just need me to work, GREAT! In fact I’d often rather not have to slow down and explain a bunch of stuff that operates lightning fast in my head. Your way may indeed be the better way to go, if so don’t ask me to validate you, just give me clear direction. I’ll do my best to crank it out the work, you do your best to keep distractions at bay. I promise to stop and ask if I encounter an instruction that I don’t understand, and I’ll tell you if I’m not the guy for it or can’t squeeze it in or something. I’m not proud, you can count on me to tell you before I’m in over my head.