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Values

Customer service no-nos

I don’t care what industry you work in. If it involves working with people, you’re in customer service.

When meeting or talking with a potential customer or client:

  • Stop asking leading questions simply for the sake of appearing smart as you reveal your answers. They trap your potential client and make them feel dumb. If they knew the answers, they probably wouldn’t be talking to you.

  • Stop waiting for your turn to speak and start listening with the intent to understand the person in front of you. They’re talking to you because they have a problem and you (might) have the solution. Let them tell you what they think the problem is.

  • Stop using industry jargon and buzzwords that confuse people. If you truly understand what you’re talking about, you will be able to break it down and make it accessible to anyone. Even your grandmother.

  • Stop making assumptions even if they are only your mind. You may think you know the person you’re talking to, but in reality, you don’t. They are different from every other potential client you’ve met in the past. Treat them as such.

  • Stop focusing on short-term results during the conversation. If you do your job right, they’ll come back, even after talking to others. When you’re narrow-minded, it shows.

The 85 Percent Solution

I recently finished reading I Will Teach You to Be Rich by Ramit Sethi.

I know what you’re thinking, “Wow, you got suckered into buying and reading a book with that title?!”

First of all, it was gifted to me after accepting my first full-time position and second, I honestly wish I would’ve read it a decade ago.

After moving past the seemingly shallow title, I learned so much about:

  1. Optimizing credit cards

  2. Setting up no-fee, high-interest bank accounts

  3. Opening investment accounts

  4. Creating a conscious spending plan

  5. Automating the entire process

  6. Learning how to pick the right investments

Outside of these six steps, one of the most helpful insights I learned was “The 85 Percent Solution.”

In Ramit’s words, it’s basically the idea that “getting started is more important than becoming an expert.”

After reading this, I realized that this not only applies to finance, it can be used in any area of life.

Whether you’re a writer, a freelancer, or a new entrepreneur, putting something in place that works is much more important than getting it “right.”

Your idea doesn’t have to be fully fleshed out in order for it to be valuable to someone else.

In fact, I bet there are plenty of people out there who need an imperfect solution now instead of a perfect solution later.

85 percent isn’t 100, but it’s better than zero.

Practicing leadership

At this point in my life, I’m ready to be a leader.

You might be wondering, “What makes you qualified to lead others? The fact that you’re yet another white, entitled male who feels as if he deserves it?”

I promise it’s not this simple.

From freelancing full-time to co-founding companies with others, I’ve spent the past decade fumbling through the process of creating my own path and I’ve learned a few things along the way.

First and foremost, I’ve learned that leadership isn’t about dominance or having the right answer - quite the opposite.

Some of the best leaders take a much different approach.

Instead of telling others what to do, they lead by example. They know their actions speak louder than any of their words and they do their best to align these actions with the things that truly matter.

Instead of taking credit for the accomplishments of their team, they know that credit for one person depletes ownership by many (Thanks Scott Belsky for perfectly capturing this idea using these words).

Instead of being the first and loudest person to talk, they listen first with the intent to understand. They are self-aware individuals who strive to be empathetic towards everyone, especially the people on their team.

These are just a few of the many ways in which great leaders facilitate great teams and honestly, I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and show that these things truly matter to me.

Being an ally

I’m lucky that I get to work with a company that values having intentional conversation around what it means to be diverse and inclusive.

Each month, some of us meet at a different coworker’s home for an event called Homecoming where we discuss specific topics and share personal stories.

Last night, we talked about what it means to be an ally.

As someone who usually falls into the privileged majority in almost any situation (a straight, white, cisgendered male), I want to be an ally for individuals and groups who aren’t so lucky.

Admittedly, I don’t do nearly enough, and usually for one reason - I struggle not with what to say, but how to say it.

Sure, I understand that in the real world, you don’t get a gold star for doing the right thing. Speaking up for others (when that is in fact what they want) should be a given and we should just be able to do it.

The thing is, I also understand that we’re human, which means we’re messy, imperfect creatures that fall back on habits when shit hits the fan.

I’ve learned that if you really care about making a change, you have to consider the habits that drive (or don’t drive) your actions.

In my case, I’m focused on developing the habit that when I hear or see something that could be considered discrimination or injustice, I first ask the person being discriminated against, “Hey, are you OK? How do you feel right now? What do you need?”

As we talked about last night, not everyone wants or needs to be saved. As someone in most majorities, I’m sure it can be much too easy to default to a savior complex.

I’m looking forward to continuing these conversations and doing what I can to become a more effective ally.

Values

I think about values a lot.

In fact, one could say it's part of my job.

When I started my career in freelance design, I choose to focus on branding.

As many "creatives" can tell you, everyone's process is different. As a professional, it's part of what makes you who you are.

For as long as I can remember, I've always started my branding process by identifying the values of the client, whether they are a company or an individual.

In my mind, a brand isn't successful unless the individual pieces reflect its values and beliefs. 

Naturally, this fascination with values has made its way into my personal life.

Even though people tend to connect over shared interests, joining fantasy sports leagues or book clubs, I've noticed deeper connections when I share values with someone else.

This doesn't mean we completely align - I would argue that this is unrealistic.

Usually, this connection follows one of the following trends:

  1. We share one or two of our most important values
  2. We share many values that aren't as crucial

If I had to guess, first-time conversations don't usually reach this level of depth. Some people may even find it off-putting in the beginning.

If you ask me, life is too short to spend it with people who don't share your values.