February 11, 2017

Success story from reader Lee Carter

Reader Lee Carter wrote in to share a success story. I think you’ll benefit from our ensuing email thread:

(shared with permission, lightly edited for clarity)

Lee wrote:

Hi Jonathan,

Can I share a “success” story with you?

This is an atypical success story, one where I actually turned down a project.

It feels like success to me, though, because:

Thanks to what I’ve learned from you, I had the courage and confidence to say “No”.

By the way, if I’ve completely misunderstood you and your message, please feel free to set me straight.


Lee Carter

P.S. The project was a referral from a (FTE) developer friend of mine. I tried explaining to him why I didn’t take the project, but he’s not familiar with the value pricing mindset and just shook, and continues to shake, his head at me.

[1] the owner was looking for a website redesign because her competitors’ websites all looked more “professional” than hers. I tried to steer the conversation towards business outcomes, asking about the sales funnel on the website, what percentage of current clients came in via the web (it’s a physical business with a standard marketing site), etc, but she was adamant that all she wanted was just a nice redesign.

Jonathan wrote:

Hi Lee,

Thanks for your note.

Bad work leads to more bad work. Taking on a client who views you merely as a pair of hands is like slowly building a cage around yourself.

Well done!


P.S. Try telling your friend that it is unethical for someone in your profession to take a client’s money knowing that full well that the project would fail to improve their condition. Would a doctor agree to prescribe pills to a patient who refused to submit to a diagnosis, simply because the patient asked for them? Of course not.

P.P.S. You have not misunderstood me :)

P.P.P.S. It’s totally fine to say no but… would it be okay to share your story with the list?

Lee wrote:

Hi Jonathan,

Muchos Thank-You’s for your feedback - I feel better knowing that I understand the mindset correctly.

Absolutely, I’d be happy to have you share this story with your list.

And I’m totally committing this phrase to memory:

it is unethical for someone in my profession to take a client’s money knowing that full well that the project would fail to improve their condition

followed, of course, by a mic drop ala this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6X9tuwH9I5Q


Thanks for sharing, Lee!

Moral of the story

The Why Conversation IS NOT meant to extract the maximum amount of cash from your client.

The Why Conversation IS meant to ensure that your client gets a respectable return on their investment.