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« Is Your Friending Policy Rude? | Main | More Burning Questions About Surviving Corporate America »

September 21, 2009


Good article. I agree that you definitely do NOT want every customer you get, but in the beginning you should take whatever comes your way until you can afford to cherry pick clients. Over time you can weed out the bad customers and replace them with better ones.

@CLS: Yes, good point. Beggars often can't be choosers in the very beginning.

Good reminder as we move into a new round of fundraising. Thanks!

Your post is wonderfully relevant--and exceptionally meaningful to me.

I'm a specialist in performance improvement, working with officers, execs and senior managers in one-on-one relations...and occasionally with highly customized team training. When I first got into this business more than 25 years ago, a significant piece of the work was problem-oriented...and I decided that that was not the client I intended to work with. I left that client base to the industrial psychologists.

As a result, I made the decision to working with fast-track people,assisting in learning, improvement,etc. The shift was difficult because 20 years ago coaches were brought in to work with technically valuable "problem people," but over three or four years, I completed the transition.

My clients always make for a gratifying experience as well as a lot of fun. I don't announce it too loudly, but I suspect I learn as much from them as they from me. An Amex client told me to raise my fees. A McKinsey client defined my business for me. An architectural client made unbelievable demands--and taught me a lot. Those are the experiences that never go away.

It's rare to turn down a client, but I still do it. My reputation has gotten around so that now my service is viewed as an opportunity rather than, well. . . evidence of a disease.

Quite a few years ago an exec introduced herself to me near the elevator bank in the Pillsbury building--and told me she'd been pushing her boss for the funding to work with me for nearly three years, and now she had the money. She was fun to work with, fast-track, and a great learner. Oh yeah, she's now an exec at General Mills. . . and that kind of client is deeply satisfying for me. I work because I enjoy it.

@Whitney: I would love to hear more about the world of fundraising sometime. I bet that requires a special skill set.

@Dan E: Your journey continues to inspire me. General Mills, huh? I understand they are looking to become more competitive with young professionals. If they're looking for a speaker/trainer, I hope you'll send them my way!

Hey Alexandra. Great work. It is so important to understand the fit of the client exactly as the employers look for the right fit of candidates in jobs. I thought of this analogy as i beleive these are exactly the points to be considered while hiring a new candidate in a team. Despite all the skills and qualities a person has, it's important to understand the team dynamics and the psychological match of the people in the team.

We have discussed an important research paper on our blog in that context and i would love you to give me a feedback on it.

Here you go:

Take care Alexandra. Well done once again:)

Great topic with a group of core question on an issue that does not recieve enough attention. I work in the arena of Career Formation and am a free agent who understands that while many may "need" my services the clients that want what I offer are the best.
I appreciate you bringing this up and I want to be challenged by the tough question.


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