Archive for July, 2013

Do it now.

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

This morning I learned about the death, at far too young an age, of a lovely woman, a photographer, one of the thousands of you who never got famous, never got rich, but continued to make her work because she loved it. One of her colleagues called her “the Weegee of weddings” and although that sounds virtually impossible, her ability with black and white warrants such praise.

“A short battle with cancer” says her obituary.

This morning, before I learned this, I ran again for the first time in a while. I was starting (again) an exercise and diet program. Day 1. I had decided over the weekend that it was important to me to lose the few pounds that have been bothering me and to get more exercise. It matters and I needed to stop putting it off.

We put things off, thinking we can do it later, tomorrow, whenever. We always think there will be time to quit smoking, to make and send promos, to shoot that personal project, to take that vacation, to tell someone you love her/him. At the same time, we check email, Facebook, tweet about nothing that really matters, watch every episode of whatever tv show we like back-to-back on Netflix, and surf the ‘net for more. Somehow we make time for the unimportant, but the stuff that matters we put off.

Don’t wait on the important stuff. Maybe it’s hard stuff, but do it now. Maybe it means facing your fear, but do it now. Maybe you’ll be the only person doing it, saying it, being it, but do it now.

Commit to your life.

If it matters, do it now.

New Rule on © Transfers

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

Today, the US Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit issued a ruling that includes the following:

We therefore hold that an electronic agreement may effect a valid transfer of copyright interests under Section 204 of the Copyright Act.

This is a very big deal for any copyright owner… more so than it may at first appear.

As many of you may know, you cannot transfer ownership of your copyright without a signed writing. Until now, most read this to mean that you needed an actual piece of paper with an actual signature. Not according to this court.

Under this ruling, the court says that it is possible now to transfer your ownership by clicking “Yes” or “Agree” on a properly drafted Terms of Use/Service agreement that includes a copyright transfer (there is a footnote, number 13 in fact, that speaks to that “properly drafted” bit, if you want to get picky). This ruling says, in essence, that the E-Sign Act, which permits electronic signatures on most documents, applies to copyright transfers.

So now, when you click “yes” or “agree” on a Terms of Use/Service and uploading a photograph, you could be giving away your ownership of that photo.

Yes, this is only one circuit, but other circuits can follow that ruling so, as they used to say on Hill Street Blues, be careful out there.

What it’s like in your client’s shoes

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

I recently had one of those moments when one suddenly realizes how important it is to explain things you think are really obvious to your client. That is, as we become more expert in what we do, we forget that our clients don’t know what we know and that can lead to unnecessary stress, and sometimes worse.

In my case, it was a legal client I’ve been working hard for. It’s a complex matter and I’ve spent a lot of time and effort for my client, so I was more than a little surprised to hear some of the complaints. As I listened to my client, however, it became clear that I was not doing my best job in informing my client of all the details. Oh sure, I’d given regular updates, but I was missing information that (in retrospect) I should have been sharing. Stuff that seemed spectacularly obvious to me was, to the client, completely unknown and unknowable. Without that data, it was perfectly reasonable to complain!

So I (and my colleague) explained that what the client was feeling was totally understandable, then went on to explain the bits that the client didn’t know. Some of it seemed like stuff the client didn’t really need to know–technical stuff, for example–but better to give too much information than too little, particularly if there was any chance in helping the client understand and, by extension, feel more in control. And yes, as soon as we shared that information, you could hear the difference in our client’s voice. In a very brief time what had been some pretty serious anxiety and frustration melted away and the end of the call was a very different tone from the start.

We’ve all been in that client’s shoes. Who hasn’t been frustrated by (for example) some doctor who doesn’t tell the whole story? If the doc is smart, s/he will politely fill in the blanks and then even not-great news is better tolerated. But if the doc is a jerk, s/he acts like the patient is an idiot for not knowing something that to her/him seems obvious and the patient gets angry and frustrated.

Same thing can happen in your field. When a client gets pissy, take a second to really listen to the problem and see if maybe you are “assuming facts not in evidence,” so to speak. Maybe it’s not that your client is being a jerk at all, but rather that you aren’t being fair to your client by not sharing all the relevant info. What you think is relevant or important isn’t the same as what your client thinks is relevant or important. Listen to him/her. Put yourself in her/his shoes. Your client might not need to know (in your opinion) the steps involved in getting a permit from the city for a shoot, for example, but once you tell him/her about the whole process s/he won’t expect you to have it in 30 minutes.

Listening is, in short, the best way to be able to manage client expectations and restores a sense of control to your client. None of us like that out-of-control feeling, especially when money (or one’s job) is on the line.

When you take the time to think about what it is like to be in your client’s position and really see the situation from her/his perspective, mostly by listening to her/his concerns (and then addressing them rather than judging them), you are much more likely to have a happy (and repeat) client.

Forward

Monday, July 1st, 2013

Today is the first of July.

The year is half-gone, but rather than look back at what you may not have done that you intended to do in the first half of 2013, be here now and, if anything, look forward.

I know whereof I speak, as they say: my first half of the year has not been what I hoped in some respects. There are some things I meant to get done that I didn’t do, some things I had no control over that impacted the bottom line, some things not started. This is all pretty normal, but in looking back it’s easy to get sucked into the negative of “failure” if you are not careful. Instead, I suggest recognizing the past but, like one does in meditation, see it for what it is (the past) and bring your focus back into the present.

Now is, well, now. It’s a clean slate. Just as you are the sum of your experiences to this moment but can’t go back and change any of them, so it is for your business. Everything from the past has informed the present; but, it all remains in the past–done deal. Over. Right now, you are in control and you get to choose what to do with the next 2 minutes/hours/days/years/decades of your (business) life.

Today is the first day of the month, first day of the work week, first day of the second half of the year. Today you can do whatever you choose to make it the first day of a better second half of 2013. Starting from now, this moment, make a choice to do something that would be positive for your business or choose not to do something negative that you have been doing. Choose to do things like (and the dates/days are only there to show you how to fame these active goals):

  • to start doing all your paperwork for the week (invoicing, paying bills, etc.) on Wednesday mornings
  • to shoot for yourself every Thursday afternoon
  • to call 3 targets a week on Tuesday mornings
  • to let go of trying to please those lowball clients you actually hate working for
  • to turn OFF your computer at 6pm every day
  • to blog every Friday
  • to register your copyrights every month on the 15th
  • to read a book just for the pleasure of informing your mind (that is not for work)
  • to stop hating that guy who gets the fabulous projects even though his work is only meh
  • to say no to at least one thing that you know is bad for you every day (like taking that project you will hate)
  • to give yourself time off (totally off)…

You get the point.

You are in control of what you do now. You always have choices but sometimes we forget that as we get caught in the panic of what we call our busy lives today. Even when you feel like you are drowning in the list of stuff you should have done already this year, you have total control–because you can choose to be present, to be here now, and to make choices about what to do next.

Today is the first. What shall you make of it?