Enlightened Conflict

not charging and getting paid

December 8th, 2015

paid dollar bills


“Most people work just hard enough not to get fired and get paid just enough money not to quit.”


George Carlin









hope to money-bags-sticky dreamstimeI am not sure if there is anything I get more shit about from business people <friends & acquaintances> than how I don’t charge people for helping them and their business.



My philosophy elicits a lot of discussion around ‘my worth’ and ‘value I provide’ and lots of ‘people will take anything if it’s for free.’

All well intended thoughts grounded in some aspects of truth.



Simplistically I avoid most of the thinking they all bring up because … well … I am not charging what I am worth because I am not charging anything.



Here is what I say on my LinkedIn page <which it seems I have to send gobs of people to as I try and explain how I charge what I charge … uhm … or don’t charge>:




I assist anyone who asks – in any industry and with any project. Compensation is only received if I provide value. I don’t believe in being compensated for something that has no value to them <even if I thought it may have had some value>.

Projects have included assisting small business operations, chamber of commerce assistance, advertising new business, creative thinking, organizational behavior, key note speeches, think tank opinion papers and provided thought pieces to assist published authors on a variety of topics including foreign affairs, capitalism and the youth, business leadership, education and the internet, youth unemployment and obesity.

Apparently, by doing what I am doing, I am breaking some common sense business rules.


1 – Offering services for free <at least initially>.



2 – Not offering a specific service or expertise.

However, because I am breaking both rules at the same time I would suggest there is some logic.



I am certainly a wandering generalist which burdens me under the cloak of generality … but certainly not a commodity. My generalist services, while difficult to offer in specifics, is clearly not something anyone and everyone can do which makes it a non-commodity. Therefore … I can charge some premium rates if I am engaged in a compensation discussion.



And while I get shit I clearly see the danger and the opportunity.you guys are getting paid



The main danger resides in the fact I am not a specific solution for a specific problem/issue.


The opportunity resides within the danger … I become a known quantity for solving shit that ‘specialists’ seem to struggle resolving.



The secondary danger is that … well … I never get paid. But I could argue, and I will later in the post, that danger only exists if I suck.






I certainly cannot argue with those who coach specifics as the path to selection & success. It is certainly the easier path.
In addition it aligns performance & payment neatly so that I could most likely offer an invoice upfront and earn the money as I went along.



So many times I see people jumping into a niche and being vague about what it is they do. They’re a marketing consultant. They’re a life coach. They’re a writer. The thing is, people don’t hire wandering generalities.

They hire outcomes. They pay for specific solutions to specific problems, and if it’s specific enough (and positioned correctly), they pay premium rates.

Dave Navarro

<The Launch Coach>

– note: he offers some good solid advice –




My path is … well … my path.



On my path I clearly understand any value that I do, or may, offer is basically a function of two things:



– The value the potential payer sees


– The value in terms of the ultimate outcome <if it generates sales, revenue or some measurable aspect>


work flintstones

Note neither of those pertains to my labor … solely value received <perceived and actual>.



Also note that neither of those is reflective of hours.






Time <labor> is a component but haggling over will it take 5 minutes, 5 hours or 5 days seems silly when the outcome is the prize.



I clearly understand the amount of money I could help make the potential payer. Present outcomes as well as future outcomes. And it’s because of that the reason I take the jobs that I do is typically because I see the potential and I enjoy making potential reality. I assess if I CAN help them, and only consult those I think I can bring real value to.



Ok, frankly, invoicing someone or charging someone is a shitload easier if you have provided something they value and they can envision the final value of the service provided <rather than speculated or ‘hoped for’ value>.



And, frankly #2, if they don’t see the real value of services provided most client people feel a responsibility & obligation to pay for the effort and will typical default to the “I want to pay you for the time you invested.”

Notice the default is ‘time.’

Default is labor and not thinking or ‘incremental value above just doing.



But I imagine the real point is I actually get to charge what is basically a percentage of what the other person gains from my time and output – that is real value.






I certainly have no fear of charging.



How I go about business may mean I ‘give away’ more free 15 minute increments than I do charge 1 hour increments but as long as I feel the ‘asker’ has valued what I brought to the table I am happy to help.



I also find if my advice & solutions & work is ignored … well … then it actually does feel like wasted time and it swiftly moves from ‘no charge’ to ‘I have no time’ <or if my time is actually demanded for some reason – because why would anyone demand time they don’t see value in … but some do – I will charge>.




Do I leave some income on the table? Sure. I am sure I do.



Do I feel full value in the money I do earn? Absolutely. Because I didn’t set the value … the person who receives the services did.



Does this create value in myself … as in my esteem or belief in myself? Absofrickinlutely.
I am confident in my business abilities but that doesn’t absolve me of any doubt … in fact … I tend to believe the good confident people HAVE a strong thread of doubt which keeps them grounded from being arrogant business fools.


Getting paid not just because I cranked out some invoice permits me the luxury of external stimulus directed feedback.money earn rain dollars



Do I recommend this business philosophy to everyone? Absolutely not.



But I get to speak with more people in a wide variety of industries then almost anyone I know.


Sometimes that ‘speaking’ is 15 minutes of ‘here is what I would do’ and sometimes it is 15 hours of in depth research and output.



And sometimes I get paid <without charging>.



What I do know for sure is that opening my email inbox every morning is fun and never boring.


December 2nd, 2015


yes yes yes yes

Why is the word yes so brief?


it should be


the longest,


the hardest,


so that you could not decide in an instant to say it,


so that upon reflection you could stop


in the middle of saying it. “



Vera Pavlova


I am a self-admitted lover of “no” in the workplace. I am because I learned at a very early age in business the power of saying a clear cut ‘no.’ In addition I have an inherent distaste for ‘yes people’ and have built a healthy fear of yeses that create a false sense of positiveness in suggesting the impossible is possible.



No has the power of stopping therefore it can afford to be concise.

In fact … in its conciseness it actually can often represent the sharp cleaver which cuts the cord to wasted energy and wasted actions.



And while ‘no’ in and of itself is incredibly powerful … ‘yes’ in its abruptness seems … well … too abrupt.


Too short.


Too simple for a word that does anything but encourage stopping … it more often is the initial push to movement <not necessarily forward but in doing something>.



Yes. <unstated … we should do something.yes type


Yes. <what?>


Yes. <as a statement … as an agreement>



Let’s face it … yes, just like thinking in general, is a quagmire.



It is a quagmire because far too often the majority of yeses are asked without either party <or one of them> truly understanding the problem therefore they have no right to be asking for a solution.

Business is all about choices – making them or agreeing to them or shutting choices off.



Simplistically every yes is a no to something else.



Saying yes as a ‘can do’ person or organization or simply because it is “the mantra” simply means you will continually fail to recognize limits.


Mostly the limits you fail to recognize are the “truth” ones you blast through as you blindly commit to something believing “you will figure it out as you do it.”





Sometimes you can figure it out.


But most of the time you do not … or at least not the way it should be done.


Of course the ‘yes sayers’ hold up completion at the end to justify the ‘yes’ ignoring the clumsy process on the path to completion or even the compromised solution which is represented in the completed action.


yes no hands

I tend to believe at the core of the quagmire is that there is actually more positive thinking & attitude in a ‘no’ then there is in the typical ‘yes’ … yet on the surface a ‘no’ appears negative and a ‘yes’ appears positive.



No’s … and I mean ‘non-lazy’ or ‘non irascible contrarian’ no’s are positive in their ability to sharpen whatever else is about to happen.


Yes’s are more about … well … the energy of obligation. An obligation or a commitment to a larger thing than a simple ‘yes’ often communicates.



And maybe that is where I think Yes fails us the most.


It should be longer, more complicated and less brief in its utterance. It should be reflective of the obligation, the responsibility and the choice of the moment.


It should be larger in its reflection of its overall impact not just on the moment of its utterance but also in the ripples of its effect as it reverberates almost infinitely through a business decision.



I do not have research on this but my guess, based on years of experience, is that more businesses fail and more businesses have lost money, people and wasted energy based on ‘yes’ more than ‘no.’



I am not suggesting we never say yes.


For god’s sake … the fundamental bedrock of a business is based on a ‘yes.’


Yes. Let’s go do it.


Yes. We will implement that idea.


Yes. We will hire that person.



But I am suggesting, even as you ponder the flippant three examples I just gave you that yeses echo in eternity. yes common area work


And while yeses embrace possibilities & opportunities & hope … they also are wrapped in cloaks of vulnerabilities.





After reading those last two sentences … kind of makes you think that yes “should be the longest, the hardest, so that you could not decide in an instant to say it, so that upon reflection you could stop in the middle of saying it. “

Being a gentleman

November 29th, 2015

gentlemen dying art


I saw this image on weheartit <posted by a young female I believe> and I paused to think about it.



Being a gentleman IS becoming a lost art.



It seems like it may be so as the unintended consequence of the increasing <good> discussion about female empowerment and equality.


The rampant discussion is translating into men stopping being gentlemen.



It’s almost like we use the whole women discussion as an excuse for not being a gentlemen.



The real male assholes say something like “well, they want to be treated equally? Then I am gonna treat them like just another asshole.”




The confused male starts doing … well … nothing. They are not sure where the boundaries are and therefore they don’t do anything.



The overcompensating male starts treating women like buddies and pals.

management stress


The nostalgic male dials up the ‘gentlemanness’ to a point where they seem out of touch with today’s world <albeit a portion of the audience view it as ‘charming’>.



The oblivious male just farts and belches and does whatever they have been doing, or not doing, as they have since Adam decided peeing in the bushes was easier than walking over to the designated sanitation area.



The gentleman … well … remains the gentleman. And you know what? it is just not that hard. And it is almost like guys have forgotten what is at the core of being a gentleman. It really isn’t about treating a woman as if she is some delicate flower which cannot handle the inclement weather of Life unless a man is there to protect her … it is about respect.

Respect of someone’s space and place in the world.



Do I sometimes still open a door for a woman?

Sure I do.


But I also open doors out of courtesy in a variety of situations. But mostly I am courteous to waiters & waitresses, listen when others are speaking and help an elderly person who seems like they could use a moment of help. I don’t treat a woman as a special act of courtesy … I treat women courteously as I do everyone.


And, frankly, that is what I believe a gentleman is.



And, yeah, some women chafe at acts of courteousness because when viewed in isolation it can appear as if a man is treating a woman as someone incapable of doing shit on her own. But a real gentleman isn’t offended … they just keep on being courteous & respectful.


It is the ‘posers’ who get aggravated.



Gentleman get measured by the consistency of our actions and … well … we gentleman know this. We recognize single acts can be difficult for someone to assess and therefore forgive single responses. Mostly because being a gentleman is about seeing the bigger picture. Gentlemen recognize they will be measured by their actual deeds.



What I do know for sure is that being a gentleman is becoming a lost art. And I worry a little bit about it because it is a reflection less of maleness and ‘gentlemanness’ but rather overall courtesy.


If we encourage courteous behavior I imagine there will inevitably be more gentlemen in the world.


But, maybe even more importantly, we would simply have more courteous people in the world.



As for what I believe?


There should be more gentlemen in the world. I struggle to believe there could ever be too many gentlemen. I cannot envision a scenario where being a gentlemen would ever be a bad thing <even if it were not completely appreciated>.



I think this is a man’s world issue.

This is something men need to teach boys and young men should be encouraged to ‘be’ regardless of their situation and lot in life.



And we need to do so despite the fact even some women will be ranting over the archaic nature of ‘gentlemen.’i am a gentleman


And why do we need to do so? Because being a gentleman is not about women.


It is about men … and how they act … and what they believe.



Courtesy is at the core of the concept of ‘gentleman.’ And that is a piece of art which will never go out of style regardless of time & space.

living in defiance of all that is bad

November 5th, 2015

blanace greater good matters do


“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic.


It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.

What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives.

If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places — and there are so many — where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.

And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future.


The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”

Howard Zinn


“Choice, not chance, determines human destiny.”

Robert W. Ellis


body making a live for




What a great thought … Living in defiance of all that is bad.




These days I sometimes worry we focus, and dwell, upon the things that could be construed as ‘bad’ in life. Let’s combine that worry with a general belief that things are worse than they are.


The former are things like not liking your job or maybe getting caught up in the grind of life <and feeling like there could be more>.



The later are things like war in Syria or someone shot in a city somewhere in your country.



But both seem to be rooted in some form or fashion of … well … a desire for some grand utopian future.



That may sound too grandiose for what we everyday schmucks actually think about and desire … but it isn’t really.

It isn’t because while we always want things to better our version of better … those things are most typically not viewed in increments but rather substantial change.


Therein lies the ever unreachable grand uptopian future.



Let’s be clear … “better”, all by itself…  is a slippery little fellow.


Better always seems somewhere other than where we are … physically as well as in time. At least it can feel that way sometimes.better blob



I sometimes think this uncomfortable feeling is a reflection of a natural desire for wanting to know what the end looks like … and yet the end hasn’t even been written.




“I’m afraid we’ll always be a book with the end pages ripped out.”

Madisen Kuhn





I do believe many people feel uncomfortable being a book with the end pages ripped out.


Not only can they not read the ending but they also feel the inherent incompleteness in their own story as well as Life.



And, yet, within that incompleteness Life requires us, no, demands us to make choices … day in and day out … through an infinite amount of presents.



And sometimes you will need to make decisions that direct the course of your life and that decision will not be associated with a smiley face or some positive quote you can find on pinterest or facebook.




It all sounds so frickin’ overwhelming.


All these ‘presents’ and ‘choices’ and no smiley faces … well … not just overwhelming but possibly just bad <as in not how I would prefer to live my life>.





This is where defiance comes in.



Unless you can live defiant of bad and see the happiness which is not only inherent within life itself but intertwined in the infinite succession of presents you are certainly doomed to thinking everything is bad.



And if you are defiant I can almost guarantee you will see quite a bit of happiness intertwined throughout your Life and the world’s life.
Because if you are defiant you will not overlook the little events.




“For most of life, nothing wonderful happens.

nothing bigger than the littleIf you don’t enjoy getting up and working and finishing your work and sitting down to a meal with family or friends, then the chances are that you’re not going to be very happy. If someone bases his happiness or unhappiness on major events like a great new job, huge amounts of money, a flawlessly happy marriage or a trip to Paris, that person isn’t going to be happy much of the time.

If, on the other hand, happiness depends on a good breakfast, flowers in the yard, a drink or a nap, then we are more likely to live with quite a bit of happiness. “

Andy Rooney






While I have written about the fallacy behind “manufacturing happiness’ or the whole idea of ‘purposefully creating happiness’ I do tend to believe you can affect your happiness.

It helps if your happiness is more likely dependent upon some realistic expectations … or maybe … viewing the little moments within the larger grind that is known as Life instead of seeking some larger more grand utopian vision of happiness and big events to define happiness.



Let’s say that happiness is built on discrete moments of now.



Uh oh.



This means that happiness is driven not only by awareness but some common sense and clarity … and there is no secret code.




No secret code.



Unfortunately … without a code I have to offer the unfortunate truth about happiness … you have to do something to gain happiness. Make choices. Choose to go somewhere. Choose to do something. Choose to explore something or somethings < including ideas and opinions>.


Defiantly choose to choose.



And choose to live in defiance of all that is bad.






I remember reading that JFK once said: “I look forward to an America which will not be afraid of grace and beauty.”


Replace America with people … and I agree.


Grace & beauty.




Seems awful hard to think about those things if all you see is a bad world in turmoil.



Philosophically … the way to beat bad … is… well … in that infinite succession of moments idea.


The world can look pretty frickin’ bad when looking at the larger picture <which is a little weird because while bad things do happen in the larger scheme of things there is less violence in today’s world than almost any time over the past 200+ years>.


letters to myself note to future selfThe only way to make things NOT look as bad is to manage life in that infinite moments way … that awareness in the present permits you to have some clarity with regard to the good that exists in the here & now.


I mean … well … if you always have your eye on the future or the larger picture you are either living in something unreal <an unwritten but hoped for future> or viewing all things around you assessing threats <the bad stuff> to maintaining your existence and reaching your desires.



Simplistically … if you avoid the succession of moments you have no chance of seeing what exists in that moment.



Defiance is not easy.


It is much much easier to not push back but go along for the ride … wishing it were better than it seems to be.



Defiance is a choice.



And that is why I opened with the quote that choice defines destiny not chance.


If you are defiant, and push back, you are more likely to control the destiny of … well … your happiness … let alone anything I imagine.



The person and life you want to be DOES exist you just have to be defiant in the pursuit of it.



One Tree Hill Quote:

“There are moments in our lives when we find ourselves at a crossroads. The choices we make in those moments can define the rest of our days.”

“And, of course when faced with the unknown, most of us prefer to turn around and go back.


But, once in a while, people push onto something better.

Something found just beyond the pain of going it alone. And just beyond the bravery and courage it takes to let someone in.

Or to give someone a second chance.

Something beyond the quiet persistence of a dream.

Because, it’s only when you’re tested that you truly discover who you are.

“And, it’s only when you’re tested that you discover who you can be.”

“The person you want to be does exist; somewhere on the other side of hard work and faith and belief. And, beyond the heartache and fear of what lies ahead.

There are moments in our lives when we find ourselves at a crossroads.

The choices we make in those moments can define the rest of our days.”


=====defy word defiance



Living life in defiance of bad.



Or maybe we should say ‘defiantly pursuing good in life.’

For if you are defiant and seek the good … the good can, and will, be seen.

the difference between breaking a rule and breaking a stupid rule

May 31st, 2015

breaking rules Hagy


“The world is full of rules. Be the exception.”



“To every rule there is an exception—and an idiot ready to demonstrate it. “

Vera Nazarian


“Any fool can make a rule

And any fool will mind it.”

Henry David Thoreau





This is a business thought.


This is about rules, breaking rules … and how tricky it can be to communicate a thought well in advertising.

thin line business


Suffice it to say professional communications is always about walking the thin line of connecting with your audience thru visuals & words … and teetering over into the abyss of ‘just missed.’

Professional communicators are paid dearly to be smart enough to discern the difference between things like a ‘break the rules attitude’ <which is burdened by rebellious irresponsibility> and a ‘break stupid rules attitude’ <which is often an attribute and precursor to ‘someone who gets good shit done’>.






It is sometimes a very very thin line and sometimes bad shit happens even with good intentions.





And this is a HUGE but.



Professional communicators, PR people & advertising people & marketing people, get paid to walk the line and walk it well.



So when someone does something stupid you have to scratch your head and wonder how the hell something like that happens.



To be clear.


This is different than simply doing bad advertising.


This is different in that it is more a reflection of bad thinking … or … let’s call it misguided execution of what was probably a good idea <once>.



I would imagine the intent was correct.



I envision business people eating M&M’s sitting in a room discussing strategy and someone saying something like “people who drive our car are the ones who are not comfortable being a sheep in society … and try raising their family to think for themselves” … which is a nice thought.



And someone else said … “lets figure out how to show everyone they aren’t sheep and just do what everyone tells them to do.”



And then some brain dead person said … “they don’t follow rules.”



Dohtrain going off

<insert mental image of train going off the tracks>




I saw an Audi TV commercial that made me think of this.



Well crafted.


Kind of humorous <using some excellent hyperbole>.


Beautiful photography <as you would expect from a car manufacturer>.
And then … oops … it teeters off that fine line into ‘missed.’




One young boy with the gumption to challenge the very fabric of our society has cannonballed into a pool less than an hour after eating.

The world is full of rules, break them, challenge those in charge, and drive an Audi.

Audi TV Spot ‘Swim’:









I did not have a visceral response like this when I saw it:



“I just saw the commercial twice.

Thank you Audi for undermining everything we need in society. Rules. Now you should try to teach this kid in class when the parents helps undermine the process too.

It’s called ethics. Try it sometime. No Audi for me.”


Steve Nordwick



Hugh's Missing the Point

Hugh’s Missing the Point

But I did say “shit, they missed the mark with this.”



I clearly understand what they were trying to do and say.


It was tongue in cheek.



They clearly tried to use an old wives tale ‘rule’ to make a point.


It was hyperbole.



But … well … there is a huge difference between breaking rules and having the attitude to eye rules with some question rather than blindly following them.



And that is where they miss.



They want people who don’t simply follow rules like a sheep but rather look at rules with a discerning eye of ‘stupid or smart.’



And maybe that is where they truly miss the mark.






Smart people don’t encourage breaking rules.

Smart people encourage breaking stupid rules.


SmartBaby answer

Smart people don’t break rules for the sake of breaking rules.

Smart people assess rules and break them when appropriate.



I am not sure I like the message which suggests kids should not only ignore a safety rule but ignore an authority figure.



And I absolutely do struggle with depicting a parent who seemingly venerates and applauds a child flaunting not only rules but figures of authority <even a lifeguard has some responsibility and authority>.



I worry a little about its misguided judgement all within a ‘creating an entertaining commercial’ construct.







I do believe you can encourage individualism in some other way than ‘The world is full of rules. Be the exception.’





I KNOW you can encourage individualism and ‘smart behavior choice even in the face of rules.’





I’m sure I am over thinking this but valuing some sense of order thru rules … and personal accountability toward rules … is kind of what makes civilization run.



And I feel like this communications goes beyond just breaking the rules … the parent is teaching him to disrespect rules <and smart rule breakers respect rules but recognize stupid rules>.



And more disrespect?



While I am clearly in over thinking mode … the pool is not theirs … it is a rules followingcommunity pool with a lifeguard … which means it comes with some choice to assume some personal accountability within society guidelines if they elect to use the pool … which then assumes they are respectful of the rules, obey the rules posted by those who grant them the privilege to use the pool.



Yeah yeah yeah … that is overthink.


But … and this is a big BUT … I have written a number of times that advertising and marketing can affect behavior and attitudes. And if I truly believe that <which I do> then even some of the smallest things should be eyed with ‘responsibility’ in mind.




Look <part 1>.



Some rules are good.


And rules intended to keep a child safe <even if it is a stupid rule> is good.



Telling a child that it is good to break the rules, no matter how seemingly small or stupid, suggests a bad lesson to a child.




Look <part 2>.



Beyond society … in business I know breaking stupid rules is sometimes necessary to get things done.



Excellent effective leadership actually seems to come with an unwritten responsibility to cut through rules that act as barriers to achieving what needs to be done <for the overall betterment of the organization>. I could argue that truly great leaders get where they are because they can do exactly that … legally of course, when the rules tell us otherwise.


Some people call this cutting through the red tape.


I call it the ability to weave your way thru the organizational bullshit and get shit done.



I can guarantee that if you look throughout any successful organization you will always find some ‘smart’ rule breakers who work diligently to overcome or circumvent the rules, regulations, and policies that unintentionally hinder progress and make it difficult to accomplish shit that needs to be done.






I mention that because creative people sometimes get mixed up between what they see in a business environment and what happens in Life environment. Lie isn’t always a Dilbert scene and Life SHOULDN’T always translate from some rules everyday existencebusiness perspective.



The mom in the commercial may be one of those professional ‘break stupid rules smartly’ people … but ‘managing’ her child takes a different skill.



A professional communicator should recognize that.






Close … but they missed the mark.

Enlightened Conflict