August 19, 2020

“I need that carrot”

Fellow list member Nick G and I had an email conversation recently that I think will be of interest to a number of readers.

It started with Nick’s concerns about the negative effect 100% up-front payment terms would have on his motivation, and ended with him having a breakthrough about leveling up his service offerings.

Here’s our thread (shared with permission):


My only worry about charging 100% upfront is the complete and utter lack of motivation to finish the job. I need that carrot.

But I love the way you approach this, made me rethink a few things.


Thanks for the feedback! I find your answer fascinating. Can you tell me more?


I’m not sure how you’d like me to expand on that. What made my answer fascinating?


I don’t think anyone has ever told me that they wouldn’t be able to do their work if they already had been paid.

So, I’d be curious to know more about why it’s that way for you.

Maybe there are more people in the audience who feel this way than I know.


Oh yeah for sure.

It’s not so much that I couldn’t, it’s more that getting paid is a huge motivator to finish. I’d get it done but would be pushing myself.

I think it’s an attribute of my personality - I like starting things, great at talking to clients, but don’t like the “work” work. But that’s why I get other people to do that bit.

I’d imagine it would be semi common if you have people who like to start new things (or have adhd).

Happy to answer any questions you have dude. Getting your message to more people is a very good thing to do.


What kind of work do you do?


Web design and marketing mostly


Gotcha. Do you enjoy that work? Do you feel a sense of mastery from executing those activities? Or do you find it boring or tedious? Or something else?


Good angle; yes there is definitely a sense of boring/tediousness in web design and marketing activities.

Starting is fun. Talking to the client, understanding what’s going on, figuring out the solution that they need. Problem solving - that’s where the sense of mastery is for me. Although I feel that a lot of that usually happens as part of the sales process.

The actual delivery of the work.... well I used to enjoy it back when I first started. But as time went on, and I did it more and more, I became less and less excited by it. Like most things, there are fun parts and there are tedious parts of the job. The "fix" for me in avoiding burning out has been doing less of the tedious parts and more of the fun parts (problem solving). I’ve been bringing other people in to handle the tedious parts, which is working out okay as long as I keep getting more clients (and charging appropriately).

Lately I’ve been pushing more into having a few workshops as part of the engagement - unpacking more from the client to gain more of an understanding of their audience, their strengths, weaknesses, messaging, etc. Trying to deliver better results by doing the stuff I enjoy the most.


What if you stopped doing execution and moved into doing strategy and innovation? Would you still need the carrot?


That is an amazing question. And you’re right. If I wasn’t doing the execution (which, to be fair, I’m not doing as much), I definitely wouldn’t need the carrot.

You son of a gun (I mean that in the nicest possible way), I’ve got a huge smile on my face now.


Glad to hear I gave you a smile 😊