233 FS Meddling Clients

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  • The Indecisive Carpenter
  • You be the expert. 4:15: Communication
  • Set goals for the project with the client.
  • Don’t ask the customer’s opinion. 9:15: Staff augmentation
  • Behaving as an employee
  • Become a consultant or advisor instead. 16:20: Consultant vs. employee
  • Ron Baker
  • Expertise translates into advice. 21:30: Client wants to be involved more.
  • Run any request past the business case.
  • Keep the project on course. 30:00: Target businesses without your capabilities in-house.
  • Do more than just your craft.
  • Ask the right questions.
  • Establish yourself as an expert. 39:40: Maximize your profit.
  • Not just revenue.
  • Don’t give away your knowledge for free.
  • Value is contextually defined. 45:45: What to say to clients.
  • Find out the business goal.
  • Communicate about progress.
  • Ask for more information about customers.


Mike Monteiro Keynote (Jonathan)Shard Keychain Tool (Jonathan)Design Is a Job (Philip)Start With No (Philip)How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big (Reuven) hired.com/freelancershow


Reuven:         Hi everyone and welcome to episode 233 of the Freelancers’ Show. This week on our panel we have Philip Morgan.Philip:           Hello.Reuven: And Jonathan StarkJonathan: Hello.Rueven: I’m Reuven Lerner. Jonathan, why don’t you describe what we’re going to talk aboutthis week?Jonathan: Okay, great. There’s this Seinfeld Clip for this certain Seinfeld Clip episode, there’s a clip on YouTube called the Indecisive Carpenter, which you can Google for. To be honest I haven’t seen the whole show but this segment, about a minute long and Jerry has hired a carpenter to come in and redo his kitchen. It starts off with Jerry sitting in his tables, he’s trying to do his bills and the carpenter keeps interrupting and he’s like, Jerry listen, do you want this hinge or that hinge? And Jerry’s like, “It doesn’t matter, either hinge.” And he’s like, “Well, they’re not the same thing. This and this like this, this and this like that.” Jerry’s like, ‘Idon’t care. Just pick either one.” The guy looks at his hands and Jerry saysleft and so the guy’s like okay, he used the left hinge. Then the cuts toanother scene where Jerry’s trying to leave, he’s trying to go out with hisfriends and the carpenter is like, “Jerry, Jerry before you leave I just wantto ask a couple of questions about…” And Jerry interrupts and he says, “Justfinish it.”It’s hilarious logical extreme of what I see so many developersdoing with their clients, designers too. Designers are famous for this, where theyare invading the clients into the sausage factory way too much. I used the clipto illustrate that sort of morale or I was like you be the expert, you do. Don’task your customer’s opinion or your client’s opinion about which hinge to use.They don’t know. You have to educate them about the differences between the twohinges and how you’re wasting their time and you’re wasting your time becauseultimately they’re going to do what you recommend anyway. Just do it.I found myself, as I drilled into this topic a little bit more, because I set it up my list and wow, it really touched a nerve. Lot of people almost angrily emailing back like so my clients shouldn’t be involved at all in the decision making process? Things like that. Because people are billing this and they can’t imagine what else do we do, what they would do instead. So they’re like, what else would I say? I cannot ask what hinge to use o which font to use or what color to use or how big to make the logo or where to put the button or how big to make the button, if they like this or if they like that and most people probably do this and think that is what we’re talking about when often advocate having a lot of client communication but I think that’s a mistake because really what you’re doing is asking your client for uneducated opinion that you are far more qualified to provide. If you just do the thing, you pick the hinge, you pick the logo size and so and so forth, just do it.If you get to a point that you are developing you design, you’re like I wonder if I should do this or this? Just do one. And then if you really want to in your design review, I wouldn’t even bring it up. In your designer view you can just present it and if they say, “Why do you go with that hinge? Why’d you go with that color? Why’d you go with that font?” Don’t ask them in advance. Just present what you think is the best thing and if they bring it up and maybe you can have a discussion, maybe they are educated on it. But I would even move farther and say you shouldn’t do that but let’s baby step here.The idea for today’s show is start there and have a conversationaround what sort of input should you be getting from your customers when you doa designer view or have weekly stand up. And what shouldn’t you ask. And ofcourse how does that translate into your career, your fees, in making yourbusiness better growing, that sort of thing.Reuven: Client communication is always crucial, you want to be talking to them all the time. It sounds like  what you’re talking about is, there are certain things that you should be communicating and there are certain things you should not be communicating. You should not be asking for, I like the way you describe the uneducated advice or uneducated opinions. You are the expert. And yet I feel like in many cases, if it’s on the software the software side, right? Because I am a developer and so forth. They come to me and say, you know I’ve heard this no SQL thing is really great. You should be using MongoDB for everything. I definitely have sort of opinions and arguments against that. That’s the sort of thing where I feel like they should have no opinion. I’m not just so that I could ask them. I don’t think anyone have ever challenged me on that sort of thing. That said, there are plenty of these especially when it comes to design. I definitely could see they have strong opinions and they will express them, and they want the website to work on this certain way.Philip: A client has literally never come to me and said, you know, we organized a Git repost, seems a little strange to me.Jonathan:        I know that. It doesn’t happen. Or you’re building an API, it doesn’t happen. Developers are insulated from a lot of this because a lot of their work is below the water line. Once you get above the water line, where most designers are operating, some frontend developers. Developers definitely inhabit the space, you get opinions and we’ve talked about this in many shows.Before the project even starts you need to set goals for the project. We need to agree with the customer or the client what the goals are. This would be business goals not goals like finish this feature list, implement this feature, that’s not a goal. It’s not a business goal. You want to get business goals from the customer or the client and once the project starts and somebody says, “You know I’ve been hearing a lot about MongoDB or could you make the logo bigger. Either you say, why? You make them make a case. You don’t bring it up, do not bring it up. Do not say, what do you guys think about a [00:06:31]? What do you think about the size of the logo? Do not bring it up. If they on their own bring it up, you ask them why they brought it up. If you are really the pert and they really aren’t, which is usually the case. They’re the expert on their business. They’re not the expert on what you do. If they do bring it up, and you are the expert, you won’t be able to make a case. You can say, I don’t see how this achieves a project goals, you don’t have any kind of argument how this achieves the project’s goals. Let’s put this on the back corner and focus on the stuff that we know achieve the project’s goals. If we have time and money left over later, resources left over later, we can either ab test these things or put them in or we can put them off for a phase too.This is the key I think to managing scope creep is to have business goals to find and not ask them for their opinion on stuff that you are the expert on. They’re paying to do it, that’s why I thought the Seinfeld episode is so funny because Jerry was so annoyed, the customer is asking for his input. He’s asking Jerry to make decisions that Jerry was not qualified to make. And I think if we will just do that as almost the defense mechanism, you told me to use this hinge. Well, the door’s falling off. You’re the one that picked it. By the hour you can get away with that.Philip: I can see both sides of this. I am going to throw out a situation that occurredto me earlier on in my freelance career and I really would love you guys inputon this. I cannot my build myself as a technical writer when I started out,that was my market position. That’s how I describe what I did. As a result, thekind of gigs that I would get, I would kind of feel the backup plan and here’swhat I mean by that. With writing as a little bit unique this way, I think it’scertainly different in software development, although this shows up also inbigger companies you as a freelancer feel like a backup plan because you’redoing something that the client could do in house and probably would if theyhave the bandwidth for it. like I would get hired or write a white paper forexample and maybe this is kind of me projecting my insecurity on the situationbut I often have feeling that a client would do an in house if they had thetime, if they had the capacity if they weren’t under the gun for big productlaunch or whatever the specific situation was. It would have one of their inhouse subject matter experts to it and they’re off to the marketing departmentto be polished and I will never have gotten hired for that. For me that createthis but again the insecure feeling of like oh gosh I really needed to do it totheir specs like they’ve designed the blueprint and I’m the carpenter in herewho’s executing on it or the assembly line worker who needs to follow the spec.And that really led me to feel like I needed to get a ton of client input allthe time throughout the project.Jonathan:        Yeah. That’s totally fair. What you’re describingin the developer world is staff augmentation.Philip: Right and it’s a fine way to pay the bills and keep the lights on but it’s no way tobuild a business. If you’re going to do that to just get cash flow and youmight be the employee just like the economic sort of slightly difference sothey don’t see the need when you’re long term. You’re basically behaving as anemployee where you need to get the approval of your manager at all times. It’sunderstandable for people who are in that situation are be confused by what I’msaying with the carpenter example.                      Once you have that base line of financial security and you are looking to grow your income profits and your revenue you want to start saying things like client comes to you and says hey we want you to write this with you and you want to say why? That’s the goal of the white paper. And you’ll probably say shut, hang up, see you later, we’ll just get someone do it for us. But a good prospect for you or someone in that situation would be like the reason that we want you to make papers were trying to attract leads to the website. How many leads you want to attract? While you’re looking to do it. At the end of the conversation you have done a diagnosis of their melody so they have some either some opportunity they want to capture, some problem they’re trying to solve. If you just say okay, I’ll write the white paper for you without finding out what the melody is or what the opportunity is. Doing the white paper it changed nothing meaningful for them. If you want to move into that realm, it’s farther from freelancer and closer to consultant or visor and you want to start asking those questions. I don’t thinks it’s really push backyou were just asking questions like maybe the white paper is the best approach.I just want to make sure before I write this thing for you that your money thatyou spend with me is going to be a good investment to you because in that willbe longer relationship for both of us. And they might say we really just wantto get more leads and if you have somebody to do that we’re all ears. That’s agood client, possibly a good client. Okay, I get some of their ideas aboutthis, I’ve been doing this for five years. Or maybe you could just spend a fewbucks on Facebook as in be done with it or whatever. And head them from a moreconsultative approach.Reuven: Yeah. I’m glad you said that. I’m trying to imagine what the folks at home arethinking. You’re not likely as a newish freelancer or you’re new to thisapproach, they’re not going to say let us set up a meeting with the CEO for youand the CEO has just some questions for you. They may just say well, we just dowhat we always do in our product launch. We just always write six white papersto support the product launch or of course we want to sell more products buteven getting that kind of answer, even if it’s not the right answer or the bestanswer for those kind of why question. It’s incremental progress in yourmovement out of being a hired pair of hands and towards being access to yourbrain which is where, as we all know, where the real money is, right?Philip: And figuring out and getting better and better at working your way up to the truedecision maker. Because you’re right. If you’re just starting, it’s highlylikely that the person attempting to hire you or hiring you toward the whitepaper, they don’t know the answers to these questions, some are just told themto do it and they don’t want to tell you to do it so they can get it off totheir to do list so that in their weekly meeting they can yeah, that’s someonewriting the white paper. They don’t know why. That is not a good relationship,it’s not good, that’s too vague. It’s not a very profitable relationship foreither party. To push for greater wealth creation for all involved, you can askquestions to a person like this, who if they’re having a good day will indulgeyou and say you know that’s a realty good question but they really don’t knowthe answer. And in a good situation, you could say, who does know the answer? Idon’t really want to take this on not knowing if I really helped the overallbusiness. It’s difficult but you can try to work yourself up theentrepreneurial chain of commands must speak to get those questions answered.Illinois has a pretty specific advice on this where he got thistwo stage approach to it. One where he just sort of says like what I just said,well if you can answer these questions, you can and then if the person wants toact like a gatekeeper and sort of prevent you from talking to their superiorsthen you can say something like well, if this project goes probably wrong, youkid of threaten them. It’s not going to be my fault, it’s going to be yourfault.I don’t think either one of us wants that. So I think it’s in yourbest interest to let me talk to your boss. He’s operating, he’s not writingwhite papers. He’s operating on a different level, of course. I don’t think itmatters what level you’re at, as long as you have this understanding, this sortof world view, this mindset that could be your head. Don’t think of yourself assomeone who writes white paper, think of yourself as someone who solves aparticular problem and you happen to do it by writing white papers. And focuson the problem that you’re solving from the business and come up with the otherways that you can solve it or further up the value chain. Takes time to do it,of course but you want to get to a point, I have to put some really good wordsto the mouth of the thousands of listeners but personally you’re listening tothis because you want to make your business more profitable and the way to dothat is to go further of the value chain. You’re going to do that is to ask whyyou want to do certain task and to do that, you would probably lose out on somework. Eventually, you’ll start getting better work for better and betterclients. Like before, create this baseline of income where you’re trying outwhite papers and you’re asking what chains to use. But the while trying toattract better clients while you have these keep lights on gets going.[00:15:58] their clients further up the food chain to grow your business andeventually you can stop doing the [00:16:04] work stuff. And do more advisorytype of engagements.Reuven: It’s a major mind shift and I think it’s only recently that I understood acompletely. The difference between a consultant and an employee is not justyou’re paid differently, it’s not just leader relationship. Is that you beingcall as an expert on very specific thing and so it’s normal for me to go to myaccountant and say and ask questions about how should spend money, save moneyand so forth. I’m going to ask him those questions. I have a dialogue about it,right? But I’m not say have this types form, have a bad tax form. First of all,the day that I do that would be a crazy day. You know what it’s like? It’s likethose people go to their doctor and the doctor says well, I think you have suchand such. But I read on the internet. The difference is that with a realconsultant, with someone who’s bringing authority there, they’re coming in forthat sort of advice which is wildly different mindset wise, then what have onan employee and so as an employee, yes you always have to be checking with yourboss and making sure it’s the right thing because it’s the boss’s name who’sgoing on it. It’s the boss who is responsible for because you’re doing the workbut their name is on it. And here, it’s your expertise, it’s your ideas andyou’re name is on it. And if it doesn’t work out well then you’re out not them.You still have those conversations, I mean Jonathan, you said at your podcastat some point, by the way I’m forgetting his name, you guys have been doingvalue based [00:17:50] for a long time. I just read the interview with them,it’s great.Jonathan: Ron Baker.Reuven: Ron Baker. I think you gave the example like when you go to your doctor, you’re notgoing to tell them how to do the open heart surgery. That really clicked forme. And yet so often it’s so easy to get sucked in that kind of conversation,right? You want to still please the client, you want to make them feel like youcare about their opinion because you do. That’s a fine line to some degree inmany cases.Jonathan: I love the accountant example. Because I imagine that most people are not into, they don’t have this earning desire since theywere a little kid and to like be all up in their own finances. It’s one ofthose things that’s highly personal, it’s very emotional, their money and whatit can do for you and what enables you to do or not do, or lack of it thatprevent you from doing. My relationship with my accountant is just like whatyou described, I say I describe my situation, I got this many kids, they’rethis old, my wife blabla. This many cars, office. What should I do?Ask the client relationship that you want to foster as a freelancer moving intoconsulting round. You want to find client who’s going to look at you and say,here’s my situation, what should I do? Not look at you and be like, clientlooks at you says, “Do these 15 things.” That is the thing that will pay the billfor you because you know how to do those 15 things, you know how to create areactive [00:19:26]. You know how to slice a photoshop document and so on and so forth. Recognize that those things are never going to get you anywhere you need to move away from those things if want to increase your income. You love those things, your craft, you labored over them, you have a sense of mastery over those things, they’re not going to get you to the higher levels of income, those things. You need to transform those mastery into advice. Your understanding of how photo shop works or what’s possible with react or even in a web browser in general. That expertise can translate into advice. Where people are like we have this high risk situation, our competitors are destroying us, we know we have to undertake this massive redesign, if we screw it up my head is going to roll and probably the business is going to go down under. We need somebody who we can look at and say here’s our situation, what should we do? And you tell them, and they do it. Learning PHP or React or photoshop or illustrator leads to that.That’s what I did. I started out with PHP and work my way up to dothat, do this. And I tell that to a  lot of people and they freak outbecause they’re absolutely in love with their craft and having the semi colonsand keyboard shortcuts for photoshop and so on and so forth. Eventually, ifyou don’t leave that behind, you’re going to hit that income ceiling veryquickly and it’s going to be around $140,000 and that’s you’ll ever make therest of your life for a year. If you want to go that $140,000 ceiling, you haveto go up a level and use the expertise that has accumulated from while you’redoing the sort of implementation things.Reuven: What about when the client wants to be involved more? Let me just give me examples. I work for them in years, I really love them, they’re great people, interesting and everything. And they’re on a market where Airbnb is sort of a similar market. Not exactly but some more. Whenever we bring in design, I’m not the designer at all, so this does not affect me directly. One of them would be likewell, this is not like Airbnb, and he’d be like they have so much more money,and they have so much more markets space, they have spent time researching it.It’s clear that whatever Airbnb is doing is the right thing to do. We just makea book like them. They have bigger photos, we shoot bigger photos. They havedown the line and soJonathan: We’re working like that.Reuven: Often times I get that in sort of Facebook area where somebody else client will say,well Facebook done all this user research, we should just copy whateverdecision they made about the hamburger menu or how to do a navigation orwhatever. My answer to that is always, you’re not Facebook, you’re not evenclose to Facebook. Now these guys they are close to Airbnb or they’re trying tobe but I would ask without presuming the answer, I would ask is copyingAirbnb’s design really the fastest way to the goals that we’re trying toachieve here? What are the goals we’re trying to achieve, Airbnb is not a goal.They must have specific business goals or hopefully they have specific businessgoals and it’s highly unlikely that copying Airbnb’s design is going toautomatically work to get them to these goals. Like you can see why someonewould think that. It will look like Airbnb. What if we make it look like craigslist,what’s our competitive differentiator?Jonathan: The argument is a little more serious, the area was not just like aesthetics. The argument was, they’ve done AB testing andthey’ve published on their blog. That doing aesthetics wise and more effective,thus let’s just take that research and go with it.Philip: It’s like somebody else to do work for free.Reuven: Like I said, I wouldn’t presume to know what the correct answer is but I would runany design decision regardless of any decision or anything that they are sortof any place where it feel like the customer is trying to do your job for youor micromanage you or something like that. I always say the same thing. I saywhat’s the business case?       We need to do integration with segment.io. What’s the businesscase? Well, we’re trying to get the single for all our leads to be collected,why don’t we send it them all in [00:23:59] integrate with it. Oh we can dothat? Yeah, we can do that? Yeah, just do that.I think you’re doing your customer and yourself this service ifyou skip over the diagnostic phase of any request. They make some specificrequest, use that hinge.Philip: Alright. We can totally use that hinge. Why do you want to use that hinge? Why do you even care which hinge we use? I thought that you just care that your kitchen was better for entertaining lunch parties? Yeah but I read this thing on[00:24:27] that said that that hinge is a blablabla and then you might say,whatever. Those get in my nose, you can use whatever hinge that you wants. Oryou could say, you know, this hinge actually is five times more expensive thanthe other hinges and you got 45 of them in this kitchen. Which means that wecan afford average hinge if you want to stick to the budget. It’s kind of apriority thing, resource wise. Would you rather have this hinges or the averagehinge or we want to increase the budget? You got to keep them honest.I feel like when I’m in a project, there’s me, there’s the clientand there’s the project. Project’s like this other entity that both of us needto protect and effect to me protecting it. And at the end the idea is that Iwant to be a gigantic success because that’s how that customer’s going to gaugetheir satisfaction with me. We need to know upfront what success looks like andthen by hook or by crook into the nail brought the project, I do everythingthat I can in my opinion that’s going to keep the project on course. You ask mefor something that I think has no effect one way or the other, I’ll just do it,but if think it’s going to have a major impact one way or the other, I’m goingto raise that issue. And say look, this is a tradeoff. Somebody says, we want aclassic one with flame design. There’s are always in the middle of the projectsaying [00:25:54] more analytics, [00:25:55]. And before you know it you have55 JavaScript include 65 network request which pull down God knows how manyother network request. And they’re all slow and not of them, are mobilefriendly and so at the beginning of a project knowing that’s usually a problem,I’ll say what’s the goal of this project? And a lot of times they say we wantthis to be really snappy on mobile, when it’s finger friendly, it’s mobilefriendly, we want to be super fast. Okay. It’s good to know. And then sixmonths later. When they’re like yeah, I’ve throw in overture and add words anddouble click in Drip and Facebook. Alright, we decided that we’re going to havea maximum two second load time called cache on these pages. Is this worththrowing that constraint out? Or should we pick and choose a little bit addingthis things [00:26:47] they have no impact on the performance [00:26:49] to atime.Jonathan: I love that you call it diagnosis. I love it because it really gets me at least into the mindset of a doctor, right? What’s the case here? Let’s figure out what’s going on. What’s necessary? And always, always asking them, what’s the business case for this? I feel you can’t go wrong asking that question.Philip: It’s malpractice if you don’t. I often wish that this software consulting professionhad a sort of AMA type of body that you can be kicked out off.Reuven: I’m sitting here scratching my chin thinking about this transition from sort ofthat staff augmentation mindset which is really a great way to describe how Ithought about working with a client once I started out to this more advicegiving consultative mindset. It’s not easy, if you don’t feel some feeling ofconfidence in your own judgment. It’s really hard to make that transition. Haveyou seen yourself go through that? You don’t count Jonathan because apparentlyyou’re confident about everything you’ve ever done.Jonathan: I’m often [00:28:03] but never in doubt.Philip: Which is kind of nice. What about you Reuven?Reuven: I now that I went through that transition. I definitely felt like for a number ofyears [00:28:22] would turn to me and say what do you think about X and I thinkI don’t even feel like I was responsible for telling what I thought about X.They weren’t necessarily asking. That was my position, I need that fellow. Butit was not obvious when I start consulting to that was necessary to all part ofthe job. Fortunately I don’t even want. Staff augmentation is definitely what Iimaging consulting to be, when I started at it. That was 100% what I thought itwould be when I started at it.Philip: I think a good approach for people who do have that fear or maybe it’s a littlemore positive term like [00:28:59] to say what they should do. A useful tacticis to target business that don’t have your skills in house and don’t want it,like an accountant, I don’t want be good at that. I don’t want to hire someoneto do it internally. I’ll completely want to outsource that. It’s distastefultask in my opinion or to me. I’m probably a great customer for an accountantbecause I don’t want to get in their business at all. Now imagine if you werean accountant and you were going to do the books for another accountant orsomeone fancy themselves as an accountant. I’ve certainly have projects with folks who fancy themselves as developers or that’s bootstrap their way with enough technical skills to be dangerous into a successful business and then realize that they’ve over their head once they’ve got the revenues stream. Makes financial streams to I come in, they have a hard time letting go of the fact that they know how they did it and they have this pledge on when they patch together and it’s hard for them to switch that off. The better clients you can do that, the other ones eventually probably just let them go becausetheir constantly asking you question and they never take your advice. They justsecond guessing you and micromanaging all time or questioning decisionendlessly. Very tedious. The point I’m getting at is if you do a thing and you want to move away from staff [00:30:39] or you want to target businesses that don’t have your capability in house and want it. If you are a React developer, if you’re going to go offer your technical services to like a valley startup that has 5 other developer and staff. They’re not impressed with your skills, they’re not going to be impressed with your skills. They have 5 other guys that do what you do, or 5 other girls that do what you do. They just need another pair of hands, that’s how they’re going to treat you. But if you’re an amazing Mac developer, you could target, what I always say, dentist or you could target somebody who’s never going to have React developer on set. You can target a market who’s never going to hire a full time React developer and find problems that they have that you can solve with your skills and you will be an expert. The dumbest thing that comes out of your mouth about React is going to be 100 times better than anything that they’ll ever think of. So [00:31:39] with myaccountant, my accountant would be an idiot, I have no idea. I am not smartquestioning her judgment. I just met her, I trust her, a friend recommendedher, I just trust her, and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that Iknow absolutely 0 about accounting and I always outsource. One way of sayingexpertise is relative. The thing that you’re an expert at is in supply thosecurrent customers are probably never going to really value you that highly. Youprobably want to find customers who don’t [00:32:13] more of you in house andwho probably never will. And you’ll feel much more confident because everythingyou say will be like, ugh, that’s a great idea. Go ahead and do it.It gets back to a question we got last week in the Q&A. You have to be willingto use something other than just your craft. In other words, you’re building abusiness based on expertise then you have to be willing to do that business-ystuff like talk to clients. I think if you want to just do your craft 24/7 andbe around other people who are also craftsman that’s much more like being anemployee than it is like being a consultant.Jonathan: Absolutely.Reuven: When you move out of that staff augmentation, the stakes do go up and one the ways that I started getting more comfortable with at was too just simply when I was having a meeting with a client to as  soon as possible in that pre-meetingchitchat time to say how’s business going? Instead of how was your week end?Which is fine or whatever, right? To say how’s business going? For me it wasjust an easy low stakes way to start trying to get outside the scope of theproject and hear from the client in their own words, how’s business going? Justthe one simple thing I can advise to folks at home. If you’re in that positionof like, oh my gosh, this sounds so risky. You’re right it is. The most riskything you can do is be a pair of hands where somebody else makes a decision.And Jonathan’s salary cap numbers pretty consistent with what I would say aswell.                    It does involve risk to get away from being a pair of hands but I think there are ways to do it gradually. It’s not like an overnight transition, because that’s really setting yourself up for failure if you just expect to be able to ask the right two questions then the world open up to you and all of a sudden you’re getting triple the amount of money you used to. Doesn’t really work that way or at least it didn’t for me. Maybe I’m just slow, though.Philip: It takes time. You have to learn how to do it. How to ask the right question.Which people you want to talk to. Who are the one’s worth talking to. All ofthis takes a long time to get right.Reuven: It’s a risk or reward thing. If you are happy capping out with $140 or something and you’re just comfortable, cool. That’s cool. Not saying it’s bad. But if youwant to go past that, you’re going to have to take some risk. Let’s put this ina bigger scheme of things like, what are we talking about risk wise here?You’re not wrestling an alligator. A lead comes in and you try to handle it ina way that you’ve never handled it before. The way that we’re describing. Youdo a diagnosis, you push back, you don’t jump to offer the lowest price. Maybeyou don’t get it for the first time. But what did you really lose? And if thatnext gig is like if you need to get it, your mortgage or your car payment orwhatever. Don’t do it on that one. Wait till you got a little bit of cushionand when you’re feeling comfortable, then that’s time to try it a little bit differentway to have a wide conversation, which matter. Do a diagnosis. You’ll beshocked what happens. You’ll be setting yourself apart from virtually everybodyelse they’re talking to. Because no one else is going to be like, [00:36:59] isthis, yes, yes, yes. I can do everything you want. I can start tomorrow. Theother way that they’re really have to compare them, a group of people like thatis like giving the lowest hourly rate. But if you’re the one that says, oh Ican do that for you but what are you trying to achieve because it’s hard for meto see where a company like you would benefit from this thing that you’reasking me to do. And they’ll sit back, well, okay, this is what we think. Itget some engaging at a completely different level, a more of a partner level.And you’ll screw up the first few times but what else do you get to do?Philip: I guess I’ve done three roadmapping projects from people now. And first of all,I found that laughable at the beginning that anyone would blame me to that sortif estimate. Because really, it was certainly more thorough that the otherestimated I’ve done for clients in the past. But [00:37:57] that much morethorough. I mean, for crying out loud, it was like, 10 page instead of 5 pagesor 6 pages. And they were paying me for crying out loud. And the thing is, Iwas very so nervous about asking, I have sort maybe not the best kind but asort of wide conversation, asking them.If you like to describe a job that at least why this and why now.I didn’t really get to the why me because it was a road map and I think theywere fascinated that anyone was taking an interest in this. The way they wastalking about their organization and wanting to hear them justify what theywere doing. I don’t think they’ve ever stepped back and thought about it. itthink they were very pleased to have to be able to have the opportunity to dothis thinking and filter things out and this is important and that’s notimportant. And the definitely sort of putting in their eyes as an expert.Yesterday, I got an email from one of the people from where I done the roadmap. Where they decided not to sort of go with me for the development but juststick with their existing [00:38:54 parable ….] company and they wrote to meand say you know we were so happy with the work that you did there. We like tobring you and tell us how to construct a technical staff in house. You have togo with it. There we go. Basically, because these questions I was asking andbecause of the way I was communicating with them about what are the goals? Ittotally worked to my advantage in the long term.Reuven: Look where you put yourselves in their minds they don’t see your highest value as adeveloper anymore it is as an adviser.Jonathan: Yeah. That’s going to be the more profitableproject anyway, right?Philip: Here’s the thing. For the audience. Let’s make it super clear what we mean buyprofitable because it’s not more revenue, it’s more profit. A software project,an implementation could be 3, 6, 9, 12 months long. That’s a lot of revenue.Your overall gross sales would be a $100,000 for a 6-month project easily.That’s high revenue but it’s usually low profit because you’re either payingemployees, you’ve outsource some of the labor or you’re doing it yourself andall of your time, you have to subtract your time as a cost. It’s not thatprofitable. It’s stable, good income overtime but it’s not that profitable. Ifyou write a 10 page report or something and they pay you four figures for it,that’s far more profitable. It’s only a $1000 or $2000 but you did it in threehours and you’re positioned in this client's line as someone’s that operates ata higher level, who can tell them what they should do. And so you can create amuch more profitable in terms your price minus your cost, that’s profit. Youcan create much more profitable offerings for these people. You need to do alot of them because it’s not a 6 month thing, it’s like a one week thing. Itmeans that you can work for four hours a week. And make a good weekly income,if you get a lot of these. Overtime, you’ll start to get a lot of these andthen you’re like wow, I’m working 20 hours a week, $300,000 a year.Reuven: People talk. I guess they talk in all industries but I feel like especially in hightech and maybe it’s double especially in Israel where it’s like a very smallcountry. Everyone talks to each other. Maybe it’s not a coincidence actuallythat I was contacted by this organization and on the same day the one whomwhich I was in touch, her husband runs a company called me up and said hey Ican use some software advice on things and maybe some development. Right?Basically it’s amazing, it’s a total different image you write then being thesoftware developer to my turn. Even though this sort of way to get to wherethey wanted involves software [00:41:44].Philip: The funny I find with people who picture themselves as developers that anythingthat’s easy for them, they feel like has no value.Jonathan: Hahaha. That’s right.Philip: That’s exactly where all the value is. It’s the thing they give away for free. They’relike somebody says to him, I’m considering using phone gap versus native iOS.If somebody said that to me, I would ask some six questions and I tell himwhich one to do. With 100% confidence. And it would be so easy for me, airquotes “easy” because I’ve been studying it for 10 years. It would be so “easy”for me to answer that one question which could swing a $1,000,000 one way orthe other for that company, they could do a $1,000,000 project using the wrongchoice and end up finding out at the end that it was a huge mistake. How muchdo I charge him for that? It’s a good question, depends. But it’s certainlyhighly valuable and it adds something that you want to be giving away for freeall the time. Nothing to feel bad about charging a fair price for.Reuven: Let me put that in a [00:43:01] a contrast.Philip: I’m sure you’ve heard that before.Reuven: I need that. This road mapping that people would call me back now easily like aquarter of the time was me explaining to them that on a website, like webapplication, you need to have a database server and a web server and thebrowser and how they work together. And I think most developers will be like,what? You charge the money to explain that the web works, are you kidding me? Yes, and not only did I. But they’ve loved it and they were [00:43:35]about it, and they’re asking for more. And that is 100% the sort of thing thatI would give away in the past. I’m like well, clearly everyone should know thisif they are going to a web project the after we have been on that we can talkreal stuff. For them this is real stuff because it’s all new. The fact that wedo it every day doesn’t make it less new to them.Jonathan: Just point out that value is completely contextually defined.Reuven: Yes.Jonathan: And this is where I was talking about before where the Garden Variety web developer who has been doing this for three years maybe has like a CS degree has way more information about the basics of like the puzzle pieces involved with creating say an ecommerce store. Then a billion potential clients, at least millions. If you target clients who already know all that stuff that you already know, then you’re going to be perceived as not an expert. But if you target someone who knows nothing about that because they’re an accountant and they don’t care about that stuff other than what it can do for them, they don’t care about what’s under the hood. And you will be like an expert and if they click with you personality wise and you just have a good relationship and they trust you and you’re a reasonably good communicator, they’ll cling onto you like a life preserver. And you will treat them with respect and trust and you will not make them feel like an idiot when youexplain the difference between http and https and they will love you for it andthey will gladly pay you for it because it’s valuable to them. Anyway, thispeople which change to use.Reuven: What do you think about the NAV? Like if that ever comes out of Freelancers’ Show listener’s mouth?Philip: [00:45:18] and my shoe. Or the internet [00:45:22].Jonathan: I think we should start wrapping up but that seems like such a natural question for someone to ask. You show enough what you’ve done, right? You’ve created this magnificent design, you’re showing it off to your client and instead of saying what do you think? What should you be asking, do you think this fairly captures the business goals or achieve a business goal we want? Is that what we should be saying?Philip: You asked the wrong guy because I put up proposals were, like you are not allowed any input on the design of your website.Jonathan: You really say that to your proposals?Philip:               I did one proposal where I explicitly said. Basically I said, you can give meyour input but I have to retain veto power because a lot of design decisionsthat people tends to make, business owners tends to make are counter to thegoals of this project. You’re going to ask for bigger crisp images, you’regoing to ask for more images, you’re going to ask for more tracking and all ofthese things are going to decrease the stated goal which is to increase saleson mobile. It was sort of a rare project in the sense that we had our veryclear bottom line [00:46:33 metric]. They’re usually not that clear and so inthat case I was like, I’m not taking this risk unless I give myself the powerto veto design decisions because they will affect these stated outcome. I don’tusually go that far but this was such a clear outcome and I want going to outmyself out for that.Reuven: What should you do in designer view, I think the most important thing when I’mcommunicating with the customer, there are two things really that getcommunicating, one is that we’re making good progress or not. Basically aprogress update, we had some surprises with the offline support on mobileSafari we’re working on it. I think we have solution but I’ll keep you posted.That’s taking longer than expected. Or we say everything is going great.Progress is right on track. Here’s the timeline and here’s where we are, here’swhere we end this. We’re making progress.                      And then the other thing I will do in those meetings is I will say something wecame to a fork in the road, I might not even tell them what the fork is but sayI came to a fork in the road and it led me to ask this question and I will askthem a business question. I’ll say something like there’s a design decisionthat we’re considering. This every [00:47:44] the two possibilities to themI’ll ask the question that is like is it more important to target 18-25 yearold males or females or is it going to be both? I won’t even get into like thewhole, well if it’s going to be female, it should be red. If it’s going to bemales, it should be green. I'll just be like we came to a point where we didn’thave enough information about your business, usually it’s about theircustomers. That’s usually the question is like. What do your customers prefer?How savvy are your users?  Should we do something really slick or really,really [00:48:22]. Do we really down it down and make everything just spelledout in the interface? Give me example of a typical user. [00:48:33 Do theyunderstand] double click, do they know how to drag and drop? And sometimesthey’ll get people like my customer don’t understand if somebody say drag anddrop my customer would just stare at me.Jonathan: Really? Wow.Reuven: I had a question the other day that was like, I spent 15 minutes on the phonecall the other day I will say okay, data site is up, you guys can test it. Youcan imagine all the things say, and you’ll give me all your email address, I’llcreate the accounts, I’m going to change your passwords, here’s something theinterface works… I tried to make it as straightforward and non-technical aspossible and I get questions like I’m doing the screen share to group thepeople and I get questions like is that the URL that it’s going to be at? Andquestions like what browser should we use for this? It was like an internaladmin, like almost like a WordPress administrator on Facebook. What browsershould we use for this? Is this going to work on our PC? I’m like wow. It waslike 16 people on the phone that were like asking questions. I don’t want tocome across like I think they’re idiots because I don’t. They’re great at theirthing which has absolutely nothing with web developer.Philip: Which makes them such great clients because they appreciate your expertise. They’re not going to second guess you and the questions are coming from ignorance not stupidity and in many ways I find this sorts of clients are often easiest to work with. I guess that what you’re saying easy to work with, appreciative and often offer insights that I never would’ve thought of myself.Reuven: You can be a superhero to them.Philip: If you respect them. Problem is I think a lot of people start to disrespect them.And they’re like oh these clients are so stupid or these clients are horribleor client will ask for something that on the surface it is an idiotic requestand if you’re the type of the person to just take orders from your clients thenthat can get really frustrating. The ramifications of the client later would beoh, this ramifications are horrible like well you ask me to do it. But ifinstead they going to ask you that’s sort of idiotic on the surface and you saywhy do you ask that? What’s the business case for that? Why do you want that?Why did you bring that up? Why did that occurred to you? And you can get at theroot because they are totally over their heads, out of their depth. You canusually explain the question away. Like oh, that one matter because and say orjust install chrome, can you guys install chrome on your machines at work? Youhad it? You have it? Okay great. You’re all set, just use chrome.Jonathan: I seem to remember Patrick McKenzie tells a story about when he was doing bingo card creator. This was like an applications for elementary school teachers, maybe middle school teachers. And he got some teacher asking him why does it work when I’m using the green google but not the blue google? He was like what the heck? Any technical person or most type of people would sneer at that and ignore that. But he beyond understand that if I’m not to say that was a different browsers and of course no clue about different browsers. Just in the browsers like explain things in different colors. And through that he was able to bug it and won a customer for life basically.Reuven: Anybody listening to this show, you’re an expert compared to somebody. Find them. Be their champion. They will gladly pay you for it.Philip: About that. I feel like I’m on like crazy on this show so we should probably.Jonathan: This is good. Any last thoughts, Philip? Anything more to say before we’re going to picks?Philip: That was a perfect note to end on. Really just that the most vague level we’retalking about. Really, we’re talking about how to manage a project but it kindof boils down to where you can create the most value because if the valueproposition is compelling, you get a lot less. You just inherently in theproject get a lot less micro-management but I found this to be true for myself,it’s really is how you behave. At least for me, most of the problems came frommy own behavior as a freelancer. Start there, when you’re looking to improvethings. Go slowly. It’s a change, it’s not going to happen overnight.Reuven: That’s nice. Jonathan, got any picks for us this week?Jonathan: I do. Let me see if I can find that actual name of it. Mike Monteiro, this is especially for the designers in the room. Mike Monteiro does a fabulous canoe, [00:53:00] give it a few times that very much hammers on a lot of these same notes. But he’s very much focused on designers and I think designers are the ones that suffer from this sort of make the logo go bigger problem for the most people. They might get the idea like yeah, you’re right but what do I actually say it can be tough when it comes right down to tactical situation. Wonder [00:53:29] what I actually say and if you want more of this look for, go to the show notes, I’ll have the link to it but there’ll be a Keeno video of Mike Monteiro. I think the Keeno is called “You’ve been lied to” It’s great. If you read every word of it and as always sort of cranky old man presentation style which is great.Philip: I don’t know if I have seen that one but I definitely saw, I think it was thatone plus one or two others of this. He’s a great speaker.Jonathan: Yeah. He’s one. Just sort of a random pick. Mulling to the holiday season and I have this thing that has been a trusty companion in my bag that I got from everyday carry old Gerber Shard. That’s like this little medal multi tool that does like, it’s like a bottle opener, a screwdriver. It’s kind of like the single metal that you can put in your keychain as no moving parts and I got to tell you, I use this thing all the time. Especially when I’m travelling because it’s TSA approved and in our house we’ll have a Christmas, we have a whole bunch of toys with batteries, they have this little Phillips head screw on the battery compartment and this thing is really [00:54:48] I’m going to have it in my pocket that has a Phillips headthat I’ve been using endlessly on Christmas days. By the time this comes outmaybe it will be too late for Christmas but whatever holiday you celebrate butthis is a great little tool to have our new keychain. And I recommend it.Reuven: This is not made by Gerber like the baby food company. It’s a different Gerber.Jonathan: Gerber knife, I think. I don’t know if that’s the same company. Baby food and knives, that’s kind of a weird line extension.Reuven:            Philip, you got any picks for us this week?Philip: Jonathan’s pick is hilarious. I earlier on the show wrote down a note to do a pick for Mike Monteiro’s book Design is a Job. I bet it’s a real similar content to thatKeeno talked about. Really, really good book, when I read it the first time Ithough, this is not going to be probably for me, this is for designers. But itwas recommended whatever, turned out it was a great book for anybody whoprovides expertise for clients or billed things for clients. I agree with a lotof what’s in there. It really is talking a lot how to make that transition frompair of hands to adviser or consultant and gives a lot of practical advice forhow to do that.                         I got another book recommendation for my second pick which is a book called Start with No by a guy named Jim Camp. I read over the past month or so and that’s another book I was really expecting to just be like I don’t know. But it wasrecommended to me enough times it got over the threshold of I’ll read itanyway. Even though it seems like it’s not for me and it’s just amazing. It’san amazing book on how to do negotiation, a part that resonates with me andactually kind of connects back to something Jonathan said where each requestthat clients gives you, you need to have a sort of separate micro discoverysession for that request. Which could just take 10 seconds where you say okay,why do we need to do that? Why do we need to make the logo bigger? Or why do we need to add those fields to hat form or whatever it is. That connects to thisbook because Jim Camp talks about how every little tiny aspect of a longerrelationship a negotiating partner is the term little negotiation and again thething that resonated with me, he talks about trying to uncover, he uses theword advisory to talk about who you’re negotiating with. Kind of uncover theirpain, the thing that you can help them solve and use a negotiation conversationas a way to find out what that is. It’s just completely opposite all of theother advice I’ve ever seen on negotiation and all that other advice reallyseem to me to be about power and giving what you want rather than helpingsomebody else to get what they want at it just so happens a premium right forthat and Jim Camp’s approach just made a lot more sense to me. The book’scalled Start with No and that’s my second pick for this week.Reuven: I got one pick for this week. I’m sure all those kids are familiar with theDilbert Cartoon. It’s got Scott Adam who draws it. I just read how to fail withalmost everything and still win big kind of the story of my life which is abook by Scott Adams and I see it recommend, it thought okay, I’ll take a lookat it. I would say a good quarter of it found just sort of silly andridiculous. But a fair amount of it is was actually quite interesting, I thinkin particular he says I serve more start of term that we would normally use,set up systems. Right, this is something that we talk about the show quite abit and we heard from the people whom we interview that if you set up a systemin your life and you’re more likely to do it and achieve something. And ittalks a lot how to do that do that in different areas of your life, not just inwork. It’s very encouraging for people who fail at things which is basicallyeveryone. And he goes out of his way to mention all of the stupid things he’sdone or many of them. And how he was able to turn some of those bad things andturn them into good things. And of course he’s kind of funny too. So Idefinitely recommend taking a look at that.I guess that is our show for this week. Thank you Philip and Jonathan. And thanksto you all out there in podcast land from listening and we will talk to you allnext week. 

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