The Ideal Client, Part 4

Everyone should love a fight. Now, before you click to the next thing on your agenda, let’s dive into that. Whatever the vision of your organization, business-related or not, ideas matter. And ideas happen in community. The things that are quick to sink relationships are usually rooted in poor communication, and so it follows that the best relationships are ones where you truly engage and enjoy the process. Lively, spirited discussion and debate in service of a common goal will always push you forward and reveal your best. Like sharpening a knife, it’s a friction that will lead to deeper refinement. 

The ideal client isn’t afraid of a fight.

Nate Smith, OpenArc Marketing Director
One of the best pieces of advice my father ever gave me was this: “Always make sure to have a few people in your life that aren’t impressed with you.” Aaron Sorkin, writer of A Few Good Men and creator of The West Wing, puts it another way: “If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people. If you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.” Be willing to be persuaded. Be willing also to challenge. When you are, you will inevitably hone your focus and goals, but also your audience – leading to better work and increased impact. 

I am certainly not without flaws in my professional relationships, but I continually challenge myself to be an ideal vendor and partner for my clients. A dear colleague and former boss of mine was fond of saying, “Life is too short to do boring work.” This should be a call to arms regardless of your field or industry. Throughout my career, I’ve witnessed this simple truth: if you’re listening and your client is listening, there will always be places where you can find common ground – which leads us to tomorrow’s point:

The ideal client will not, under any circumstances, work without a contract.

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