I will say this: learning how to use time wisely, is an art. Learning to respect other people’s time, is a skill. Knowing when to commit to a task and when to back off, understanding what truly matters to a client (or a friend) and what doesn’t, learning how to prioritize, these are key to living a meaningful life – at work and at home.
As I’ve written before, I work for a project management company that specializes in construction projects. Most of our clients are public sector but a significant number are private sector as well. We’re talking law firms, technology companies, financial institutions…
At work today I met with the CEO of a large private sector real estate company. My boss presented our service offering to him and asked him for an honest assessment of our pitch. The CEO listened politely and then proceeded to dissect the entire exchange from start to finish. Did our message resonate with him? No, he said. At least he was honest.
His message was clear: leave behind the scripts you’ve used in the past and really listen to what your client is saying. Find your unique selling proposition – the one thing that makes you different from your competition. And by competition he wasn’t just talking about direct competition. He was also talking about companies that may specialize in something else but offer what we do on the side. For instance, why should a client pick you over an interior designer that also offers project management? Knowing when to step away is also a skill. It’s respecting your clients enough to trust that they know how to solve their own problems – even if it means hiring someone else to do it for them.
And never admit that you’re expensive. Say that you are not expensive at all for what you offer – significant cost savings overall. The kind of help we offer is priceless when it’s effectively executed.
He talked a lot about having a client focus. Client-centricity is about recognizing that your goal is to get beyond the superficial stuff, to connect with the decision-makers on an emotional, personal level. What they really want to know is: are you easy to work with? Do you make them feel good?
That last thought really stuck with me. Because it’s not just about business. Every relationship we build, every connection we try to make, is really about how we add value to the other person’s life. It’s not about being useful in some tangible way but in how you make that other person feel when they are around you.
When you hang out with your friends, do they feel good about themselves? Do they feel respected? Do they seek you out to have adventures? Either of the physical variety or through stimulating conversation? I know that I have struggled to make meaningful connections with people I truly respect because I feel that I am not worthy or useful or do not have anything to offer. Not surprisingly, the result has been that I have a very small circle of friends (a circle of friends, however, that I trust deeply).
What I would like to learn is be someone that people want to be around. Because I challenge them, ask tough questions, hold them accountable, but most of all, because I inspire people to be better than they think they are. I have had the privilege of having people in my life that have made me feel all of these things. And that has meant so much more to me than all the money in the world. Or so I feel.