I’ll admit, I’m a giver. It’s in my nature to want to help others. I’m sure that nature was further developed by virtue of my parents, who taught and demonstrated to my siblings and me that “it is better to give than receive” and reward would come to us for our commitment to helping others and our unselfishness.
Time in voluntary service to others was rewarding, whether it was through our church, civic organizations or school programs. It still is. I enjoy being able to help someone. I enjoy seeing them happy, which in turn makes me happy. As a teen, our collective service to our community led to my family being recognized as “Family of the Year” by a local organization.
Unfortunately, my giving nature has cost me, not in the time or talent I freely give to help others who may need a hand up – we should all give where we can – but to those who want a handout. It’s cost me money; and lots of it!
“Take it. It’s yours. No, I don’t need anything for it.”
If you’re a professional, especially in a specialty area, you’re often asked for your insights and opinions, and more often than not, for your knowledge. FOR FREE!
Yes, free as in, “Please give me information I don’t have, so I can attempt to do myself what you do for a fee.” Essentially, you’re being asked to give away your knowledge and experience and most importantly, your time. Add them up and what is the value over your career: thousands, tens of thousands of dollars?
“I just need a minute.” “Can I ask you a question?”
We see it all the time. People ask doctors, lawyers, accountants, mechanics, PR and marketing professionals (like yours truly) and a host of others about things for which they have paid hefty tuitions, logged countless hours mastering their craft, and acquired unique skills. A minute of your time turns into twenty, thirty, sixty. Tick, tick, tick. A dollar down the drain, another dollar, another…
Over the years, my giving nature has led me to spend hours upon hours with people over a coffee or lunch, sharing my knowledge and experience. Multiply it at my hourly rate and I would be a lot wealthier than I am now. Not just in the time I spent giving away my talent but in the time I didn’t spend developing my business or allocating time to client work, that instead I ended up doing after hours.
Note to self: After hours work is reserved for the client that just had a catastrophe and needs crisis management, not for daytime work that I didn’t get done because I was out of the office for two hours.
I recently attended a bootcamp hosted by Joe and Dawn Pici. If you want a “life-changing, drink from the fire hose, take in so much knowledge that your head feels like it’ll explode” experience, learn more about these incredible people.
The title of the three-day event was Rapport Mastery and while we learned how to intimately understand and communicate with prospects to close more sales and do the same to build relationships and retain clients, some of the biggest takeaways for me were the secondary lessons: recognizing my value; determining going forward what is most important to me; and learning to say, “no.”
Joe has a great retort for someone who asks, “Can I take you out to lunch? I’d like to pick your brain.” He says, “Tell you what, I’ll pay for the lunch. You pay my consulting fee.” Guess how many people don’t seem so eager to know what’s inside his head when it costs them more than a few dollars for a salad or sandwich?
What about the client who asks you to do extra work outside of your contract or agreement? We often do it in an attempt to over-service and give extra value, thinking that will further endear us to them and they’ll stay with us. Even worse, maybe we do it out of a feeling that we aren’t worth what we’re charging or not providing them enough. We devalue our work and ourselves when we do that, and in the long term we shortchange ourselves and the clients whose work gets set aside (and we’re back to working after hours).
Stop doing this! You are worth it. You are valuable!
Gini Dietrich, the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm and one of the true influencers in the field of public relations, authored a recent article entitled “The Overservicing and Overselling Conundrum” that addressed this exact issue. In it, she states, “You want to deliver the best possible customer experience, and you want to add so much value that your clients never even dream of working with another firm… You end up working for free and you don’t have the capacity to bring on clients who will pay you for that time…because you’re too busy giving it away for free.”
If you’re like me, you don’t consider the impact that the free time you give is having on your cash flow. If you did, you’d realize three negatives occur: 1) you’ve spent time you’ll never get back nor be paid for; 2) you’ve given away your knowledge, which has great value, for which you’ll not be paid; and 3) you’re not bringing in new business or providing the additional service your clients need – and will pay for – and not making the income you want. Notice a trend here?
Timing is everything!
I truly believe what I need shows up at the exact right time I need it, and I needed that time with Joe. My Cash Flow GPS advisor and cash flow expert Larry Tyler and I have spent time recently talking about my priorities, valuing myself and my recognizing my worth, and establishing boundaries for what I will and will not do in my pursuit of financially getting and staying free. What I learned at the boot camp reinforced these conversations and exercises. It’s like a one-two punch of an awesome awakening!
Saying “no” has been one of the hardest words to add to my vocabulary (remember, I’m a “giver”) but it’s also one that I need to say more often, especially when it comes to giving away that for which I should be paid. Funny thing, the more you say it, the easier it is.
Take a look at your calendar for the last year and add up the hours you’ve given away for a latte or a lunch. The extra time that client’s “one little extra project” took. Add up the value of that time – never mind the money you didn’t make – and it may just be the eye-opener you need to re-evaluate where you put your priorities and where you say “yes” and “no.”
Don’t stop giving your time, talents and treasure to those causes you deem worthy. We wouldn’t be the wealthiest, most giving nation in the world if you did that. But do consider where you put that other time; the time that makes you the money so you can give your time, talents and treasures where they matter most.
Geo Ropert, APR is the president of Ropert and Partners Public Relations – Marketing Communications. His firm is providing strategic public relations services to CashFlow GPS. Geo is participating in our program to gain an in-depth understanding of how cash flow can be improved. He is writing these blogs based on his personal experiences and for the benefit of those looking to “get free and stay free!”