… sat next to a client in a meeting.


It was a small, “CEO Roundtable,” in which she is a member and I was invited to speak.

At one point, she said very nice things about the work I do. And then, with a bit of a chuckle, described me as “quirky.”

I couldn’t have been happier – that pretty much sums up my brand aspiration.

Of course, some people hate quirky. That’s fine – they are not the people I want to work with.

If all you’re selling is expertise, you are easily replaced.

If you sprinkle it with something authentically you, there are bound to be fewer substitutes.


… received a follow-up email from my bank.


In just two short paragraphs, they managed to use the phrases:

“Let’s reconvene soon…”
“I apologize for any inconvenience…”
“Thanks again for choosing Bank of America…”

If there’s a Customer Service Cliche Hall of Fame somewhere (I’m guessing Cleveland), this note is in it.

Come on fellow small business people – if we can’t out-humanize the giants in the way we communicate, we are not trying hard enough!

P.S. Please listen closely as our menu options have changed.


… heard a radio ad for a rug company.


The man had a terrific, warm voice. It sounded like the vocal incarnation of walking barefoot on a fabulous rug.

He went on and on about the benefits of a quality rug, and he did a nice job.

But, given his business, he’s got a challenge:

Step 1: Convince me that I need a rug in the first place.

Step 2: Convince me to buy it from him.

Whether selling rugs or a professional service, if you have to first create demand in order to sell whatever it is you do, you are inserting a big (HUGE) stumbling block into the process.

A better approach is to find something people are already desperate for, and sell a solution. In that case, all you need to worry about is Step 2.

P.S. If you are constantly frustrated by your target client’s obliviousness to the benefits of what you do, you may be on the more difficult path.


… am watching my office building being painted.


They have been at it for three weeks – scraping, repairing, caulking. I’m told it will take two more (it’s a big, old building).

I’d be happier if it were done sooner, as would the building’s owner. He doesn’t care about effort … he cares about the result.

Charging by the hour may be easy to measure, but it doesn’t align with what those involved really want.

The more you can separate effort from compensation – even if you work less – the more satisfied your clients will be.


… told somebody my last name over the phone.


I was trying to place an order and she needed to find my account.

I made the mistake of saying my name out loud before spelling it.

Mistake, because when you say your name is “Katz,” and even if you spell it, as I always do, you’ve got a better than 50/50 chance they will hear either “catz” or “kats.”

People are going to hear (or see) what they expect, sometimes regardless of how clearly you communicate.

When it comes to marketing your business – your web site, LinkedIn presence, company name, business card, etc. – the question, then, is what do people assume about you before you ever say a word?