Archive : March 2013

Giving Away Your Ideas to Win New Business

Posted March 28, 2013

A few people are going to steal your ideas.

Not a lot, and certainly not as many as people might think, but a few will.  Yet whatever that number is, it pales in comparison to the number of people who will hire you, recommend you, and rave about you as a result of the ideas you shared freely.

Expert writing on wall

When you’re in a service business, there are few ways to land a new client more powerful than being given the opportunity to show them how smart, creative and innovative you are.  You’re showing them you’re a thought leader, and people like to work with thought leaders.

Unfortunately, many people are so worried the client will take their ideas and have a competitor execute them, they clam up in a presentation meeting.  They focus on past work, show their portfolio, maybe get to know the client and the project details, but they hold back on sharing any new ideas.

I’ve got some great insights and ideas for you,” they’re saying, “but you’ll have to hire me first to find out what they are.” 

Whey I ran my event company, I would have loved to follow a competitor like that in a pitch meeting.  After I’d impress the client with my thinking, show them how much I understand what they’re looking to accomplish and freely brainstorm with them, the competitor didn’t stand a chance.

Yes, you should get paid for your ideas.  And I did – only after I got hired.  It seems strange, I know, but the truth is many times we’d land a job largely based on ideas I’d already given the client for free.

No one will argue that it’s unethical for a client to take your idea and have someone else produce it.  Morality aside, however, it’s simply bad business, and it’s counter-intuitive to the client’s best interest, which is why so few actually do it.  After all, they’d be taking a risk that the competitor will be able to execute your ideas properly.

But the deeper reason is that the client’s more likely to bond with you, be inspired by your passion, and want someone with your creativity by their side during the execution phase.

Plus, think about how the different confidence levels speak about a company’s expertise.

  • One vendor is saying, “I know others can execute my ideas, so I’m worried you won’t need me if I give them to you.” 
  • The other is saying, “The ideas I’m giving you now are only part of what I bring to the table.  I may modify them, change them, or give you even better ones while we work together.  And in any case, no one can execute them the way I would.  I’m not worried about your ability to find someone else to run with my ideas, because they’ll never measure up to what I can do for you.”

It takes a bit of a leap of faith, and you have to believe in your value, but once you start thinking this way, you’ll see what a powerful way it is to win new clients.

Confessions Of A Blogger In Hiding: Lessons In Losing Your Creativity

Posted March 14, 2013

My name is Howard Givner.
I’m a blogger.
It’s been 13 months since my last blog post.  (This is where you all say in unison, “Hi Howard”).

As I write this, I feel like I’m at the podium at an AA meeting, pressed to explain why I haven’t posted in over a year.  In thinking about it, I can break it down into a 3 step process.

  1. Short Term: Too Busy.  At first I needed to put blogging on hold for a month as things with the Event Leadership Institute heated up.  I suspect many bloggers fall into this category as they land a big new project, or have their personal or work schedules suddenly become very busy.  It’s an easy decision to put off blogging for a period of time, since no one is putting a gun to your head to blog on a regular basis.
  2. Intermediate Term: Expectations Become Too High.  One month became two, then three.  As time ticked on, I kept raising the expectation for myself.  If I haven’t blogged in three months, I thought, my next post better be really great.  Eventually this thinking can cast an intimidating shadow.
  3. Long Term: Creativity Dried Up.  When I would sit down to write, a funny (OK, not so funny, really) thing happened: I had nothing.  It turns out that creativity is not something that can suddenly be turned on like a switch.  The creative muscles in your brain begin to atrophy due to lack of exercise, and it can take a while to work them back into shape.

Paradoxically, it was coming to that realization that brought me back from the abyss.  The fact that it was so much harder than I’d anticipated to jump start my creative blogging juices was an insight that finally warranted sharing.

Observations In Creative Capacity

  1. creativityUse It Or Lose It.  Anyone who’s in a creative line of work should know that it’s a skill you can’t take for granted.  It’s not riding a bike.  The more you use it, the easier it comes, and vice versa.  Organizations that seek to foster creativity among their employees thrive when they build it into their DNA, when it infuses the layout and design of their offices, their work policies, the kinds of people they hire and nurture.
  2. Practice Makes Perfect.  During this past year, conversely, I’ve given a ton of presentations, both in person at conferences and events, as well as online with webinars.  And the more of those I did, the faster and better I got at doing them.
  3. The Limits of Brain Focus Capacity.  Combining those two observations convinces me that we all have a limit to the number of things our brain can focus on at any given time.  I’ve read articles that true multi-tasking is a myth, that you can’t really do two things equally well at the same time without your proficiency at one of them diminishing, even if only slightly.

For example, over the past few years as I’ve gotten better at doing the NY Times crossword puzzles, I’ve simultaneously started having more (premature) senior moments, where I forget random things I know I know. I remember that a five letter word for “shoelace tip” is an “aglet”, but forget why I walked over to a colleague’s desk.  Of course, I feel silly forgetting what I wanted to discuss with her, but on the flip side, it’s pretty cool to know what an aglet is.