October 23, 2021

The Leather Jacket Story

A student in my private coaching Slack asked about over-delivering on a client request.

His question reminded me of this story from my distant past...






In the early 90s I was in a rock band in Boston.

As budding rock stars often do, I went out to buy a black leather motorcycle jacket.

I couldn’t afford a new one so I went to a used store and found one that had previously been owned by the singer of a popular local band called Bullet LaVolta.

It was all beat up and broken in from touring and partying and whatnot and it was absolutely THE COOLEST!

But there was one problem... It REEKED of smoke.

It was so bad that I decided to take it to a place that cleaned leather jackets.

I asked the owner if he thought he could get the smell out and he said yes.


So I gave him the jacket, he gave me a slip, and told me to come back in a couple days to pick it up.

When I came back a few days later, I gave him the slip and he proudly told me that the smoky smell was completely gone.

And then he said, “And I also reconditioned it for you, free of charge!”

He showed me the jacket and they had shoe polished it or something so all of the worn out cool patina was gone.

It was like a brand new TOTALLY UNCOOL black leather jacket.

I was FURIOUS!!!

I tried to get him to reimburse me for the cost of the jacket because - as far as I was concerned - he had completely ruined it.

He was clearly confused by my reaction but there was no way in hell he was going to pay me for the jacket.

So, I put it on and moped my way back to the band house.

Here’s the thing...

Don’t assume you know what your client values.

Over-delivering on desirable results is probably a great idea.

But over-delivering on scope or deliverables or labor...?

Please don’t.