Welcome to The Mindstream Podcast, exploring the facts and the stories around mind-body-spirit pathways to greater health and happiness. I’m your host, Liza Horan.
In Episode 3 of The Mindstream Podcast, we’re discussing the money mindset of professionals who draw on their natural gifts as a vocation, like healers and creatives — those for whom the value of the goods and services they generate are initiated by tapping into their own natural or, some might say, supernatural abilities and expressing them for the benefit of others. It’s a very special episode of The Mindstream Podcast and we’ve broken it in two parts for your listening pleasure:
- Part I is focused on the facts and figures of freelancing in the UK and we look at the special concerns of those who work in complementary, alternative, and natural health therapies and spiritual growth disciplines. Then we move into an exciting discussion from professionals who have made the transition from employee to self-employed. They share their stories from self-doubt to self-confidence and how to navigate some tricky issues.
- Part II kicks off with the results of a survey that we did at Mindstream’s special event for National Freelancers Day, and then we pick up the discussion to hear some more stories on building self-confidence, setting boundaries and exploring when doing work for free is justified. We end with some really strong takeaways — you won’t want to miss this!
In these professions the line between your personal and professional personas can see muddled. Sometimes the boundaries can get blurred. Perhaps you don’t view your work as a job as much as a lifestyle. When it comes to money matters it can get complicated because we may feel we’re trying to put a pound sign on our intrinsic value. How do we evaluate our natural gifts and intuition? Is it right to charge something that was given to me?
Those who work in these fields can face added strains evaluating their non-commodity type of work. In fact, research shows that creative professionals lose out on more than £5,000 per year by giving away work in hopes of gaining exposure, and 20% of freelancers say giving away work for free is standard practice. This is according to a joint research project published in 2016 by The Freelancers Club and the Association of Self-employed and Independent Professionals (IPSE).
Is it because we undervalue our work or feel guilty charging money for our natural intuitive gifts? Or that our work isn’t recognised or respected by clients and customers? Or are we afraid of charging more, lest no one pays?
Lots of emotions can surround money decisions and this episode will bring together self-employed people whose creative work relies on intuitive and natural gifts. We’ll hear from people on their personal journeys, from uncertainty to confidence and how they navigated setting boundaries, building trust and making a living as your own boss. In fact, this independent workforce who have made the decision to leave the safety of full-time employment generally are seeking freedom, flexibility and a lifestyle of their own choosing…but they realize there could be a measure of financial risk to go along with this.
[4:23] The independent workforce has grown tremendously over the last decade and in 2018 workers contributed £275 billion to the UK economy. Did you know that there is a day each year devoted to independent workers? It’s called National Freelancers Day, and it’s organized by the Association of Self-Employed and Independent Professionals (which goes by IPSE). This year it was on the 20th of June and Mindstream hosted a special panel discussion and networking event to pull together people whose work draws from their natural gifts. The event was called, “Are you charging enough?” and it explored the dilemma of pricing work that springs for your natural gifts.
This is an important topic to Mindstream because our exclusive study of workers in the complementary alternative and natural health therapies revealed that 85% of them are self-employed, whether that’s on a part-time or full-time basis. Let me share some of the findings of our survey from 2017:
– 88% of them hold some type of certification or degree in the area in which they work.
– They all belong to a professional association.
– They feel very drawn to the work they do. It’s not a random choice — it’s deliberate, and in many cases it’s a second career for them.
– And they absolutely love their job. In fact, I’ve got a couple pages of quotes from people that were very exuberant! Here’s a few things they had to say:“It serves a real need.”
“I am doing what I love and helping people.”
“It is who I am.”
“It’s my life purpose to help people.”
“I do what I love and people benefit immensely from it.”
“It is what I was born to do.”
“I love to see the changes in peoples’ lives.”
“I help people to heal. One of my clients gave up her walking stick after years of using one.”
“I love to help people heal and become the best version of themselves.”
“Serving is connected with meaning and purpose in my life.”
“I am inspired by my clients and feel privileged to help them help themselves. I learn something new every day.”
“It’s my passion.”
Can you relate to any of these quotes?
- When it comes to managing their business the top challenges were admin, time, marketing, and the fact that they had to do every single thing in the business.
- When asked what the top challenges were to grow their businesses, one person said, “Costs, efforts and (my) beliefs,” another person said, “Grow the business? No time for that!”
These sentiments are very strong amongst mind-body-spirit professionals, but many of them are held by independent workers across the creative arts and other industries.
[7:49] The challenges facing these practitioners of complementary, alternative and natural health therapies and the spiritual growth disciplines is a priority for Mindstream because our mission is making it easy to discover and practice mind-body-spirit pathways for greater health and happiness, and this is directly related to the quality of those services and the wellbeing of the people delivering those services.
So, the question is, “How can we empower this special workforce?”
We begin with a discussion on money mindset for this workforce of people who rely on natural gifts for their work. We wanted to explore this in wider context because mind-body-spirit professionals are not alone. The questions they face are common to all independent workers so this episode is devoted to hearing from self-employed professionals.
And now we’re going to turn to the discussion with some self-employed professionals who do draw on their natural and intuitive gifts for their professional work. We’re going to hear their stories: How they made the decision to go solo and what their journey of money mindset has been.
Now let me introduce the panel:
- Adam Brewster (CGIllustrator.com) is an animator, illustrator and architect.
- Claire “Fairy” Colston (FairyWorldwide.com) is a storyworld developer and author, coach and speaker, and she creates educational entertainment that strengthens mental health, wellbeing and confidence in individuals and families.
- David Thomas Wright (Facebook.com/intuitiveicons) is an intuitive coach who supports creative and spiritual entrepreneurs to manifest their big vision. You may know him on Facebook and Instagram as Intuitive Icons.
- And Rose Strang (RoseStrangArtworks.com) is a painter, visual artist and professional member of the Society of Scottish artist. [View video interview with Rose.]
- I, Liza Horan, hosted the panel discussion. I have been a freelancer my entire career. first as a journalist, and I have been self-employed most of the time since the year 2000, so I have my own money mindset journey.
I am very pleased to welcome our guests and the participants who came to this discussion and networking event on National Freelancers Day, and I’m pleased to share this with you.
Let’s hear from Clairey Colston.
[11:00] Panelist Clairey Colston: My decision to go freelance was more of a situational circumstance. I basically had no choice but to go freelance. So at the time I was in a relationship with my partner and he was a director and I was working from home unpaid. I was writing things and I was writing stories and then our relationship broke down. And I find myself a single parent and with no income and struggling in many different areas. And so the first thing that I did was use what skills I had, which was photography, family portraiture and then I moved on to wedding photographs and, thankfully, I was able to bring in money from that.
My desire to write, however, was one of my dreams. It was something that I had since I was a young child, but I had serious confidence issues and self-belief issues, and this was impacted, as well, by the fact that I was now on my own and, you know, Could I do this?
So that was the situation that really spurred me to start looking at – and, obviously, earning the money from the photography — but then looking at, How do I actually bring my dream to life? How do I actually do what it is that I really desire to do in my heart? I mean that’s the whole story in itself with coaching and things, but initially what prompted me to go solo was the situation that I was in. I had to.
[12:29] Host Liza Horan: “Necessity is the mother of all invention” and so you found yourself in that situation, but it actually grew into something that just feels so aligned with who you are, yeah?
Panelist Clairey Colston: Absolutely.
Host Liza Horan: Great! Adam, can you tell us about your story, please?
Panelist Adam Brewster: Yes, I was working for a large organisation that did broadly the sort of things as I was interested in doing: the creative things. For those of you who don’t know me, I am now a digital animator and illustrator. So that sort of thing that I was doing, but not having to find the work I was doing because someone else was doing that for me. I was basically getting told what I have to do on a daily basis. And I could see ways that I would do it differently and I had passions that weren’t necessarily the shared passions of the directors that were passing me the work.
So I thought to myself, Well, maybe if I did this by myself it would be better for me. I’d be able to pursue the aspect of it that I was more interested in and work for the sort of clients — if I was lucky enough that would give me the sort of work that I was more interested in. I could develop the skills I wanted to. And quite often — and I don’t know if anyone else has had this experience: When you work in a large organisation, you kind of get the feeling that the management don’t really care about what’s happening. That they’re just trying to get stuff back out of the door.
[13:56] It didn’t really sit with me and I wanted to get more fulfillment from the experience. So I decided that it was probably time but I gave it a go. I had no idea whether it would work. And this is now 20 years ago. And I’ve had a little bit of a spell where I’d go back to working for someone else directly, and then come back to freelancing again in the last five year. And, so far, it is working very well.
Host Liza Horan: Great, Adam. So it sounds like there was a bit of an inner rudder that was telling you, This is not what it could be or I’m just not feeling as solid in my potential in this environment. It’s almost a moral dilemma, would you say?
Panelist Adam Brewster: Absolutely. Well, I mean, that sounds awfully high falutin’ or something, but I kind of just felt like I wanted that there was more that I wanted to get from what I was doing. That no one else could really see, so it’s down to me to get out there and do what I actually wanted to do.
Host Liza Horan: Great. Now, David, could you take us through your journey, please?
Panelist David Thomas Wright: Sure, thank you. So I have a background in two aspects of work, so some of that is conventional work — and it was sales and marketing and PR — and I certainly recognise what Adam was speaking about with the zigzagging between different aspects of work and what was kind of bread-and-butter versus aspiration and vocation. And in our family we are all very intuitive and very sixth-sensory. And it runs in both sides of my family, actually. My paternal grandmother was a working psychic, a working medium. And so that’s something that I just began to do. I wasn’t influenced directly by any family members, it just happened when I was about 11 or 12: An interest in spirituality and the tarot instead of working with people and guiding them. And so that was always one aspect, and that grew into other energy healing practices and coaching.
[15:55] And over the years I sort of developed my own style of working because I had an issue with some of the premises behind “fortune telling” or, you know, psychic work, which can be quite performative and I thought I’m not really interested in helping people to see the future — I want to have them create it for themselves. I don’t want to tell the future; it’s like, let’s make it, let’s create it.
And all this training was kind of sitting on the shelf, actually. I was in a 9-to-5 job: I was sick with stress, at the doctor, not making targets in that job, difficult corporate culture, bullying — I would say workplace bullying, which I saw play out with other colleagues and stuff — which is why I have empathy now for people who are trying to edge away from 9-to-5 work because of what can happen in those sort of environments.
And in one particular job, which was very stressful for me, I thought, Okay, I’m just going to reduce my hours to 2 days a week because then the expectation on me won’t be as great. And they weren’t happy with my performance anyway. So it was kind of, “Yeah, okay, right, you know, we’ll reduce you to two days a week.” And at that point, even though I had the training, I had absolutely no clue what the next step was going to be and I sat in the meeting and I (was) like, What the hell am I doing?
It felt like a leap of faith and then everything began to appear to fill the gaps in income. And some leaps of faith and some streams of income appeared, which weren’t there before, thank goodness, and it invited me to really commit to what had always been my truth or my way of working and to honor it as much as I could.
Host Liza Horan: What I’d like to talk about now is our journey on the money mindset. Can you tell us where were you before — whenever before was — compared to now, how you are on the money issue? Because it takes a good deal of self-esteem and confidence to be in a situation in life — at any time but particularly in business with people you’re trying to win favour from — to stick up for yourself. And to have boundaries. And to say, “This is what I will do and this is what I won’t do.”
And when we hear that over £5,000 are given away on an annual basis — that’s just the average — by people in these creative, natural abilities types of jobs, it takes a great deal of mettle and a strong constitution. So what I’d like to do now is hear any particular story of contrasting where you were to where you are now.
[18:43] Panelist Clairey Colston: Thank you, Liza. So for me this is been an incredible journey over the past five years only. Five years ago when I left a relationship I was completely co-dependent upon my partner. I had been to University and my background was in animation and games design and film, but I had never actually been out and got myself a job. I never applied for a job. I didn’t feel that I had the confidence to actually do that, so I began first seeing a coach who, when I was speaking to her about my writing, she began digging trying to find out, “Why won’t you apply for jobs, Clairey? Why are you not asking for what you’re worth?”
And this really was a journey of learning how to build my self-belief and how to build my confidence. I started using storytelling to actually do that with my coach and I began to recognise so much of my inner world starting to change and, as I noticed that changing, my behaviours began to change, how I spoke with people began to change, and the things that I did in the world began to change.
So when I recognised that, that was when I was like, Oh, my gosh, why am I not using my writing to teach people this stuff that will help them? And so this was where my first book was born because I essentially had a mental breakdown — to be perfectly honest — with the coach when I was working with her. And I was trying to write and I couldn’t express what was coming through, and I was like, I don’t understand? Why can’t I do this?
And she was feeding me these stories, these narratives of who I am that I did not believe, no one had ever told me before. And so when she was telling me these things I was, like, No, this isn’t me! This isn’t me! And after a while, she was, like, “Okay, let’s just see how you get on by yourself.”
[20:40] So I had sat down one night at a computer trying to write these stories. [I] find myself struggling. I had these thoughts coming into my mind that were just, like, This is useless. This is no good. No one’s gonna listen to my stories. No one wants to buy my stories. No one will care what it is that I have to say.
And the thoughts began getting louder and louder and before long I was crying at the computer and I was hammering off the keys, just like, Why can’t I do this? I’m so stupid! All of these really abusive thoughts that I was then screaming at myself, at the computer.
And I had this really very spiritual experience where — when I was in the depths of that, when I was completely consumed with anger and rage and fear and then all of the upset of not being able to do this thing — I had this moment where I sort of came out of myself and was able to see myself at the computer, swearing and screaming at myself and hammering off the keys.
[21:46] But my consciousness was outside of my body. And it was literally a split moment that it happened — and then I came back in and had recognised, Oh, my gosh, you know, this is in me. This is something that’s in me that’s telling me I can’t, can’t essentially do this.
And this is where I got in contact with my coach and I’d said to her: “I’ve just had this crazy experience. I don’t know what on Earth it is, but it seemed like there was this dragon that had taken over my body and my words and my behaviours. And it was stopping me from being able to do my work.”
And this was where, essentially, the first book, Cora’s Dragons was born — where I began to identify all of these voices or these thoughts that I was having that were trying to stop me from writing. And so this was really where the journey, where I began to write about that experience and how I then worked through that, and then how to help others to do that, too.
[22:56] Host Liza Horan: Thank you for sharing that, Clairey. It’s very internally driven. So what you were saying is you really didn’t have preparation or any formal schooling or training on the whole money and business situation, but that you went through this transition internally. And it sounds like it gave you a great deal of resolve for what came next. Is that right?
Panelist Clairey Colston: Yeah, absolutely! So it had really, like you said, driven everything that I then wanted to do after that. I then saw purpose and meaning and reason for writing and for creating something that could help in the world, that could help children, that could help parents, that could help families, too, overcome difficulties and be able to actually create the things that they felt they were born to create.
Host Liza Horan: Okay, so this is very mission-oriented for you. Do you do work for free or do you get paid?
Panelist Clairey Colston: Well, now I get paid for the work. I’ve produced the books that are now in Edinburgh primary schools and I coach and I mentor in schools and share the process of storytelling. And, yes, I get paid for the books and also for the coaching that I do, as well.
Host Liza Horan: Great, great, thank you. Okay, Adam: money mindset.
[24:23] Panelist Adam Brewster: Yes, so continuing on from where I was saying earlier that, working for a large organisation where you don’t have to find the work, you get into that mindset where you get your paycheck, you do the drudgery that goes with it and leave at the end of the day and everything is fine, but you’re not fulfilled. So once you’ve taken that leap of faith, and you find yourself in front of your computer, in your kitchen or your bedroom wherever you happen to start — I think mine was actually in the cupboard in my flat! — and you kind of think: “Right. What now? And how am I going to get this work?”
And somehow that comes to you. Well, not “somehow” you have to put in a concerted effort and you go out and you talk to lots of people. And you gradually find that some of them are actually interested in what you’re doing and see that what you doing is actually going to be useful to them and their organisation and they want to pay you for doing it.
That comes as a bit of a shock to start with because you’ve not got used to this idea yet, but you run with it. And I actually did believe in myself and I thought, You know, I can charge a certain amount for this. I knew that I was pretty good at it and the responses that people were giving me were, “Yeah we want to pay for this.”
There’s a situation where I put in a pitch for some work, and I’d worked really hard on the pitch, put in a lot of effort for doing a sample image that I hoped was going to impress the client. And the client came back to me and said, “Look, Adam, you are twice as expensive as the next most expensive person. We’re looking for something that we can actually afford.” They basically said, “But we love your stuff so much we’re gonna actually give you the job because we just want you to do this.
So that’s kind of where I started out in a way, which is highly fortunate. I doubt that many people that have gone into that situation so quickly get that sort of response.
[26:12] But over the course of what I’ve been doing over the years, the markets change that sort of thing doesn’t happen anymore, you know. With the gig economy there so many people that are prepared to do stuff at a decent enough standard for much less money that you have to be flexible, so I’ve learned to be flexible. And I’ve learnt to be creative in how I approach clients to sort of try and think, What’s in it for them? How can I give more value to what [is] the experience that I’m giving them so that they come back to me next time?
Host Liza Horan: David, can you tell us about how your money mindset might have shifted?
Panelist David Thomas Wright: I love talking about money. I love talking about money with clients because where there is a conversation about money, [there’s] this conversation about value. Thinking about the origins of my work — and it has evolved — but when we talk about work which is psychic or involving tarot or some sort of consultation of that nature, obviously [there are] very differing views upon that, which is fine. It is what it is.
I find that work to be very helpful and healing for people, and also subjective in whether people like it or not or get something from it — the way the arts is. And there were many people who would come to me when I was 17 or 18 who would not go to a counsellor — not because I was cheaper, but because the ideas around going to a counsellor, which I’ve obviously since trained in counselling, coaching, therapy, but that was different. So they would come to me quite anonymously, come to this teenager.
[27:55] You know I look back on myself now – as a 17-year-old – and I was thinking, You know, it’s sort of when babies can swim in water because they don’t have fear. It’s a bit of that because I look back on him, 17-year-old David, and I sort of think I just went ahead and did it, and my average clients, whose age was two or three decades older than me, didn’t even think about. That they didn’t think about whether I had life experience and could I talk from wisdom because I was 17. And it really didn’t matter because I was working with them intuitively. And that gave me confidence, I suppose: the referrals, the word-of-mouth. I never really had to advertise, only occasionally to bring in a new wave every now and again.
The question around money is interesting in that space because one of the first things I heard was, “If you have a gift you shouldn’t charge for it,” and maybe that’s used in other industries, but it’s certainly used in psychic, spiritual industries. And I have supported people who are gifted in that way and have had to deal with that belief — which is horrendous as a belief because the hours and hours and hours that some people would spend supporting people and giving their time and energy and expertise.
It’s very hard to be encouraging clients to empower themselves if you’re not doing it for yourself: If I’m suffering a 9-to-5 (job) which I hate, but then I’m giving someone a reading, as I used to call it, and telling them to go and kind of “live your truth,” I was thinking, Hmmmm, this isn’t kind of tallying up. It’s not quite right.
So the whole thing of “you shouldn’t charge” is just, for me, ludicrous. And I understand that it’s a controversial industry and people have different views upon it, but people have different views on Picasso. Earlier we were having a conversation about perfume — and I also think about antiques — because the perception of value can be very subjective and it can shift, and I think that’s healthy.
So perfume, which I really value, or cologne: It’s smelly water. And I’m not paying for the smelly water, I’m paying to the experience of how it makes me feel. The emotional experience of wearing it, what it unlocks within me. And it’s subjective, but I have paid quite a bit for cologne because I know what it means and I know what that’s going to give me, and the emotional effect that’s going to give me.
And it’s the same with readings or Tarot or art or books or creativity, because if it feels right to you, it’s good to just follow the impulse and just get the work done and share it with the world.
And allow yourself to be a bit crap. Do you know what I mean? So you might not actually be crap, but allow yourself the freedom to say, “I’m not very good at this, but I’m just going to do it anyway so I can actually build my craft and get the practice.”
Because you might have other people saying, “You’re not crap, you’re amazing!” But just to not let your inner critic savage you, and just get on with that — even if you think it’s a little bit crap yourself.
Where I am right now with money … and I support other people with money mindset, and I explore it all the time. I have or did have clients who were telling me I wasn’t charging enough. They were coming to me and saying, “You are not charging enough.”
They were telling me about what it meant for them emotionally and fundamentally; the shifts that we were creating together, which then enabled them to make huge changes in their lives which you can’t always put a price on apart, obviously, from great emotional and mental health. I’ve supported people who are in the public eye, who are creative in a very well-known way. I’ve supported people who work at high levels of industry and they were saying to me, “Why am I giving you x amount when I’m walking away and you’ve helped me to make intuitively guided choices which are going to bring me an x amount of revenue?”
It’s a fear of validity or lack of.
And I have trained in more conventional modalities, but I didn’t do that for validity, I just did that because it felt right. Actually when I did training, like CBT [cognitive behavioural therapy], I thought, Well, this is kind of what I’ve been doing since I was 16. You know, my language around it is different, but it was all about trying to shift perspectives and trying to get people to view their lives differently. I’ve been doing this since I was 16, so that made me realise the value of what the process can give to other people.
People were telling me that they were paying more attention if they were paying for it or paying something which was not a financial risk for them but felt like a conscious decision that would, therefore, honor because – I don’t know whether “stretch” is the right word, but they had to think about that investment and so they got the absolute most from it, and that’s very key to coaching because it’s about that participation. So it’s something I’m continuously working on.
[33:04] I actually offered something for free recently, which was an online resource, and I did that to actually build audience. It wasn’t necessarily that I had “iffy” money mindset, but what I’ve learned from that experience is, and from people telling me I should have put a price tag on it – like the users, the students of the online experience telling me I should have a price tag on it — is that the interaction would have been more robust, and people might have gotten more from it for themselves if I attached the price tag to it.
So I’m always learning. Price points, I think this applies to all of us, that if it’s a product — like Dragons Den and Shark Tank, where you think, Okay, it’s cost me x amount to put this together and have it produced — and then you kind of have something to work with in terms of the costing. But that’s harder in creative arts and it’s harder in intuitive arts, as well, to say, “How much is it worth?”
But I think that my tip would be to allow yourself the freedom to change pricing. And not to get too hung up on pricing. And not just experiment in terms of how popular it is with people, but see how it feels for you intuitively.
And even if you’re not “woo-woo” like me, as an emotional experience, how does that price feel for you? And does that feel like a fair exchange?
So, [the evolution of money mindset], it’s on-going. That’s why I was really happy to be here because the conversation of my own clarity about money and what it means to me personally and what it means to my clients is always ever-changing. That’s why I don’t get hung up on price points anymore and I just let it go. Every now and again I might change it or adapt it. I guess we all know that when you’re in the midst of the work and you’re high on the work that you’re doing, you’re not even thinking about money. I’m not — it just goes out of my mind, and I think that there’s something about that energy which means the abundance comes in anyway and the money appears anyway when you actually forget about it.
Panelist Clairey Colston: I think there’s, like, a two-way process, though, between valuing your work and also finding the right people who want what it is and can see the value in what it is that you offer, as well. And that was the difficulty that I found initially because I knew that there is great value in the work that I was offering, but I hadn’t yet learned, Who needs this? Who wants this?
And so I was choosing initially people who I thought really, really needed it, but they were actually in a position where they couldn’t afford to pay for it. I was then unable to sustain myself, although I was serving, and one of the things I had learned was, “If you’re not selling, you’re not serving.” You know, you have to be able to sustain yourself in order to be able to sustain others and so that mindset between what I have to give and finding those who really want and value what it is that you have to offer so, likewise, there’s a fair value exchange on both sides, and that was when you really got the best out of the interaction I feel.
Host Liza Horan: “If you’re not selling, you’re not serving.”
Panelist Clairey Colston: This is actually a quote. This is from Grant Cardone. Just thought I’d put that out there.
Host Liza Horan: I was going to credit you, Clairey!
Panelist Clairey Colston: I actually have it on my phone just remember myself everyday: If you are not selling, you are not serving! And if you’re committed to serving people you have to sell. You have to offer people opportunity to invest in themselves and in what they need to grow.
[36:49] Host Liza Horan: We should all be so lucky as you, David, having clients saying, “You’re not charging me enough.” That must be a nice problem to have! It’s so interesting because I think what I’m hearing in all of this is: We have to perceive, ourselves, our own value in a certain way before we can expect anyone else to believe it. And it is probably very much about your belief system and how you carry yourself, and the resolve that you have in dealings.
So I’d love to pitch this question to all of you: How do you balance being creative and commercial? How do you not “sell out”?
Tell us a moment when you said, “I can walk away from this” or “You know what? I’m saying ‘no’ to that.” Whatever scenario you might like to highlight.
Panelist Adam Brewster: So both in terms of money and in terms of my self-fulfillment — what enjoyment I was getting from what I was doing — the client that I was doing work for probably 18 years — one of my best clients – the work that I was doing for them had got a bit stuck in a rut. It was pretty tedious stuff. It was quite dry, technical engineering stuff. Lots of repetitive, seen-it-all-before stuff that I enjoyed doing up to a certain point, and I was trying to find the joy from it and I realised that the joy had almost completely seeped away from it. And I thought, There’s gotta be some way I can, for my own benefit — to bring something [joyful] back into it — and also for my client’s benefit.
So I had a think. The client had asked me to produce a video for marketing the range of their products to architects — that’s me! Actually, when I first started working for them 18 years previous, that was pretty much what they were trying to do at the time, except that I was the architect that they were selling their products to then. So I was given a brief and shown what they wanted me to produce, which is based on all of the things I’d been doing for them over the 18 years. And I considered, as an architect, what that would be like to receive what they are asking me to do and I just looked at it and thought, This isn’t going to cut it. I could give them something that would be so much more appropriate for what they were doing, and it would be completely different to their expectations as well.
So here was a risk. I knew this person I was working with for 18 years. I knew that I couldn’t actually scupper the whole deal from changing what I was going to do, but I wanted to go and risk myself and risk the situation to try and bring the joy back into this and also to re-stimulate the whole working relationship that we had.
I thought about it for a while and I thought, Okay, I’ve got the resources to be able to produce something really radical, really different that will really appeal to their audience in a way that they hadn’t expected. To give them something that they didn’t know that they could have, which is a sort of a mantra I have adopted over the years. To give clients something that they didn’t know that they could have.
So I went out on a limb. I called me client and said, “That thing that you’re asking me to do…I’m not going to do that. I don’t think it’s going to work, I’ll be honest with you.” I basically said, “It’s rubbish. It’s not going to work.” I said, “Give me two weeks and I will make you the perfect video that will sell your products to architects because I’m uniquely placed to do that. I know what these people are looking for and I know what’s going to get their attention and I can produce the things that will do that, and give you the perfect video that will do exactly what you want.”
Then I also said, “If you don’t like what I’ve produced at the end of the two weeks, then you don’t have to pay for it. We’ll go back to Plan A and we’ll give you what you asked for. If you do like it, then I want you to pay me what you think it’s worth to your business.”
I was really putting my balls on the line and saying, I know that I can do this — I was certain I could do this — but I want you to believe in it as well so if you don’t believe in it, then you don’t have to take it. If you do believe in it then back me on this.”
So there we were, with this silence at the end of the phone. I thought, Oh, maybe I’ve blown it.
[41:08] To my client’s credit she said, “Fine. I’ll run with you, Adam, on this because I trust you and I actually know you’re going to do a good job. It’s slightly uncomfortable for me, but it’s two weeks and let’s see what happens.”
So off I went. Two weeks passed. I delivered on what I expected to deliver on, and I was really pleased with what I did and I handed it over to them. And of course they were delighted with what I did, as well.
Host Liza Horan: Of course! [Laughter]
Panelist Adam Brewster: Well, I was never doubting that! There is that moment when you think, Can this actually work? But, yeah, they loved it. And I felt like I’d taken myself and my client to the next level and I’ve had this feedback from them since: They really appreciated that I took that risk and gave them the thing that they didn’t know they could have. So it works if you are on one [wavelength with the client]. It was a really good outcome.
Host Liza Horan: Wait a second – one more point here. You said they could pay whatever you they felt.
Panelist Adam Brewster: I know, I know! Okay, that one didn’t quite follow through because what happened was when my client says, “So would you like to invoice?” And I said, “Yes, how much would you like me to invoice for?” They said, “Oh, well, you can just decide what it’s worth, can’t you?”
“Well, that wasn’t the deal but, okay, if you really don’t want to do that then I’ll decide what is.” And I actually doubled what I would be happy with, thinking that we can have that discussion if they don’t like it.
The reply came, “Oh, is that all? We thought we were getting away with quite a lot.”
Crowd: Ohhhh! [Laughter, applause.]
[42:48] Host Liza Horan: That’s an amazing story, thank you. You talk about the trust, and the ability, the permission within that relationship, so it’s obviously a solid relationship that had been built over years. They wanted you to go out on the edge and they trusted you to do that. And, again, you were driven from within: You wanted something exciting, not boring, so that was a great risk to take!
We’re going to wrap up Part I right there. Be sure to tune in for Part II. That’s available now at MindstreamConnect.com/podcast where we’re going to delve into some survey results of the participants in the National Freelancers Day event and understand what their priorities and concerns are. Then we’re going to get back into this exciting discussion and hear some stories about building self-confidence, establishing boundaries that you feel good about, and understanding when doing work for free is justified. That and more in Part II.~~~ SPECIAL INVITATION TO LISTENERS ~~~
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~~~The Mindstream Podcast is put on by MindstreamConnect.com. Thank you for listening.
This is Liza Horan, signing off with love and light.
44:44 EndsJump straight into Part II now: