22 Dec QTIP & Freelancing Pitfalls People Don’t Talk About
People who say they’ve never had a project go sideways or never had a client from hell are either lying through their teeth or they haven’t done much business. The anagram QTIP, i.e., quit taking it personally, can help us leave the 💩 we sometimes deal with at work, at work. In this episode, I want to talk about not taking it personally as well as the freelancing pitfalls that the toxic optimism and fake positivity crowd ignore.
Links I discuss:
Brian Scott’s videos I mention:
Need more? Email me: https://causeyconsultingllc.com/contact-causey/
Transcription by Otter.ai. Please forgive any typos!
Welcome to the Causey Consulting Podcast. You can find us online anytime at CauseyConsultingLLC.com. And now, here’s your host, Sara Causey. Hello, Hello, and thanks for tuning in. In today’s episode, I want to talk about the anagram Q tip, as well as some of the pitfalls, problems and challenges that you very well may face. If you decide to own and operate your own business, freelance or participate in the gig economy in any way. I feel like in this social media, mindless scrolling world, keeping up with the Joneses that we have going on, people are so desperate to maintain appearances. And this most certainly extends itself into the business world. In the same way that you might find a couple on social media posting date night with the honey, oh, look at us look at my cutie. And then a week later, they file for divorce, or they’re going on some extravagant vacation, they’re posting all of these pictures, and then you find out that they actually just went to the local days in, got in the pool with some drinks and pretended that they were at a resort. Okay, that kind of thing happens in the business world too. And I feel like there are people that buy into this sense of pressure, I need to always project an image of success. I can’t ever talk about problems, I can’t ever acknowledge that sometimes things go sideways in the business world, I have to be perfect. I have to act like I’m a billionaire. It’s almost like somebody being held hostage, I have to read from this script, or else I have to project an image of wealth and constant success online. Oh, no, that is not real. Anytime I see that stuff, I know that either the person is completely and totally full of it, or they just haven’t been in business for very long. If you run a desk, own a business, freelance, whatever your arrangement is, for any length of time, and you do any volume of business, allow me to assure you that there will be times when you encounter people you flat out don’t like and who flat out don’t like you, you will have projects that go sideways, you will have people that pull the plug on things, and you don’t even really know why you’ll also encounter people who, unfortunately, do not respect the gig. One of the reasons why I’ve been so passionate in saying I think it’s important, I can’t tell you what to do. I’m not up here, like the Lord Almighty making commandments, all I can really say is, from my perspective, in my opinion, it is so important to do business with people who not only respect you, but they also respect the gig, because there are plenty of people out there who do not. And they will treat a freelancer or a consultant or a 1099. And I’m using employee and air quotes, you’re a 1099 person on the outside of the company as a second class citizen. What’s the deal with that? Well, I’m so glad that you asked. Because I can’t wait to tell you, in my opinion. Part of this is going to always boil down to control. When you are not a W two employee inside the company, when you are a 1099 consultant or contractor, you’re a freelancer on the outside of the organization, you work for yourself. And I think those of us who really draw clear boundaries of what we will and won’t do, what we will and won’t put up with. Some people really do not like that. Some people are embroiled in the customer is always right. Or, you know, I posted that article before from the lawyer that was talking about I am the client, you know, even if a client comes in a lies to you to your face, and it could completely jeopardize their court case, they may still have this arrogant attitude of I get to do whatever I want. I get to say whatever I want because I am the client, you’re going to find those people in the business world. Even though that is an outdated, outmoded way of looking at the relationship. They don’t care. That’s how they feel about it. You’re also going to find people who are jealous. Point blank all say, I don’t care. I’m telling you the truth here. You will find people who look at your situation, and they are green with envy. There was a woman that I had to deal with on and off on a project that I had last year and yeah, she was an interesting individual. She did tell me flat out I really wish that I could do what you do, I would love to have more flexibility, I would love to have more power and control over the way that I run my day who I work with and who I don’t, but I just can’t do it. And then she went through her laundry list of excuses about why she couldn’t do it. And I’m not trying to hate on anybody. Because there are people who do not want to be entrepreneurs, there are people that don’t want to freelance. And I respect that this life is not for everybody, you hear something else that people really, I think, don’t tell you. When you freelance when you gig, you own and operate your own business. And it has really become like, the main way that you generate your income, or the only way that you generate your income. It’s a lifestyle change. All this stuff you read in on websites or in corporate magazines about work life balance, and oh, I shut the laptop at 5pm Walk off and screw it, who cares? That’s not really going to be what your life is like who do you freelancer, you own and operate your own business. If you’re trying to build up a brand, if you’re trying to get your name in front of the right people, you’re going to have to do some hard work and some heavy lifting. If nobody’s told you that I’ll be the one to burst your bubble and tell you that’s the case. But the thing of it is, you know, someone that you meet in passing, or some client that you deal with on a project for a few months, they’re not seeing all of that. They don’t see all of the work and the time and the energy and the blood, sweat and tears that it has taken you to get your freedom. No, no, they’re just seeing the fact that you’re free. And you’re not plugged in in a company but in seat working for some boss, who at any point in time could pull a lord Elon, and treat you that way. So this woman tells me Oh, I can’t do it because of XYZ. I’m just not in the cards for me right now. But hey, maybe someday. And because she was jealous of me and my situation, she treated me like dirt on that project. And I was so relieved. When everything was finished, all of the i’s were dotted, all the T’s were crossed, and I never had to see her or deal with her again. Because she was just, in my opinion, rude, and jealous and mean spirited. There was a definite edge of like, because I’m jealous of you. I will punish you on this project. I will gripe I will nitpick and any opportunity that I can take to try to undercut you, I will. But see, these are the things that we’re not supposed to talk about. We’re supposed to get on social media or go online and be like everything is peaches and cream. I have never ever worked in a bad situation. I’ve never had a project go sideways. To me, it’s the same kind of drivel as what the real estate agents and the brokers have said we would just never have another 2008 These loans are so solid, right? Sure. But yet now we have more and more people getting upside down on their mortgages. The housing market bubble is popping. Realtors and brokers and bankers are getting laid off left and right but sure we’ll never have another 2008 It’s the same thing with the hot air. And the BS that you see people posting online. Oh, I’ve just never had to fire a client. Oh, I’ve never had a client that was rude to me. I’ve never I’ve just never well, you’re either flat out lying through your teeth, or you just don’t have very much business experience. You’ll encounter people like blame the blame gamer who want to use you as a scapegoat. They may have micromanaged and tried to control all of the processes involved instead of just outsourcing the project to you and letting you do what you do best. They may have been a total micromanager and a nitpicker. But then when the project fails because of their methodology, by the way, they want to point the finger of blame at you. Some of them will treat you like a second class citizen in that they just don’t value your time. They don’t value what they’ve told you in the intake call they don’t they’re not true to their word. I had an individual once who had signed me up for this project I’d agree to all of it all the paperwork was done and I had gotten started I worked two hours on this project before he pops up via email and says oh hey, you can go ahead and put together a bill for whatever time you’ve already worked but our CFO just killed this haha he decided we don’t really need to do this right now and I didn’t know he was going to do that. So just go ahead and turn in a final invoice. No apology just haha thought the whole thing was cute and funny. And I’m like, huh, yeah, yeah, haha. It’s real funny. I was counting on doing this. It’s not like I needed that money or anything. It’s not like I turned down other opportunities because I had already committed to this one. It’s infuriating, but you will have people who treat you that way. So we have to as best as we possibly can have some type of funnel and intake process that will draw in individuals who respect you and respect the gig and will also repel out individuals who don’t. If you don’t want to deal with Mike the micromanager, Ned, the needy, Nancy, the nitpicker, etc. Hopefully, your sales funnel, your marketing the language you use the way that you handle yourself on an intake call, hopefully those things will work in tandem so that you attract in the right people and repel out the wrong ones. So when I’m talking about respecting the gig, what exactly do I mean by that? There’s a blog I’ve linked to before I’ve talked about it on the air before I really think it’s a great blog post by Casey Zeman, where he talks about respecting the gig. And one of the things that he is discussing in this article is okay, if I’ve attracted the wrong customers, how do I start to attract the right ones? The number one piece of advice that he gives in his blog post is raise your prices? Yes, I know, you might be saying, Casey, if I raise my prices, I won’t get as many customers coming through. Yes. But is that necessarily a bad thing, it has been statistically proven that the more customer pays, the less hand holding and qualifying you have to be to that client. It doesn’t mean you don’t provide customer service when raising your prices, it means that they are a higher paying customer. And they can appreciate one’s time. Because chances are, they would want to be treated the same way. They respect the gig, fewer customers that pay more can often eliminate 40% of your wasted customer service on those customers who will bleed your time and not care about your value. It’s all about setting expectations and true value proposition for your product that is well understood by your customer. I absolutely agree. They have to have to have to respect the gig. Because if they have this idea in their mind that freelancers or people who gig are automatically second or third class citizens, and you can just throw them away and treat them however the hell you want with no consequences is that somebody that you want to saddle up with on a project. Nevertheless, I am going to tell you that no matter how good your funnel is, and no matter how good your intake call process is, you will still occasionally encounter a Jekyll and Hyde scenario. I have been there and done that and it sucks. Someone who says and does all of the right things during the intake call. And then after all the paperwork signed and everything’s agreed upon, they turn into a complete and utter jerk, or you get the old bait and switch, the person who pretends that you’re going to be interfacing with them. They’re sweet as a peach, you get along swimmingly, and it’s wonderful. Oh, but then they drag out some bridge troll. And they tell you how this person has been hidden in the shadows. They’re terrible. They’re absolutely awful to try to deal with. They’re going to be working with you on this project. Now we hid them from you during the intake process, because they’re a bridge troll. But they’re your problem now. Been there done that a couple of times, and it sucks to. So what I’m trying to tell you is nobody’s perfect. And if sometimes some strays come through that don’t really hit the radar, and you’re like, oh, no, don’t take it personally. And don’t blame yourself. If you need to tighten up your defenses. If there’s something that you can tweak, do it. But don’t beat yourself over the head like you’re an epic fail because some weirdo managed to get through your sales process. And now you have to deal with them. Guess what, that’s the business world. Now all of this had me thinking about the anagram cue tip, quit taking it personally, as I think about my business goals for 2023. That’s been really important. Because you’re dealing with the long haul, Rona. You know, when you’re laid up in the bed, sick as a dog, and you’re pretty sure that you’re gonna die, or that you may already be dying, a lot of things come clear to you and your priorities begin to change. There are just certain things that are not worth the money. There are times when we have to step up and do what the crisis demands. And I get that I’ve talked about that on the air. And on my blog, many times, you may have situations where you have to take on a client and you really just have to hold your nose the whole time you’re dealing with them, you don’t like them. You don’t enjoy the work that you’re doing, but it pays well or it’s money. It’s money at a point in time when you need money. I get it. But believe me, I get it. But then at the same time, if you have an emergency fund if you’ve been able to set aside some rations, so to speak, to get through a difficult period of time, where you need to rest you need convalesce. It’s not your money that’s keeping you warm. It’s your money that’s paying your hospital bills let’s be realistic here but it’s it’s not money. Money does not become the be all end all. If your life I don’t think anybody’s gonna get to their deathbed and say, I wish I had worked more hours, I wish that I had given my heart and blood and soul to accompany. I don’t think so. So I’m thinking about this anagram quit taking it personally. And I used to know this guy who had this side table where he kept like some books and magazines and a box of tissue. But then he also had a box of Q tips. And I remember thinking that was odd. I thought maybe he just has a lot of problems with earwax, because it seems awfully random to have a side table in an office with Q tips on it. But his shtick was, if he felt like you were taking something personally, and it was not personal, you got handed the Q tip until the anagram quit taking it. Personally, we find this quite a bit in therapeutic and counseling environments. Because here’s the deal, something will happens, something will happen, we get triggered by it. And then we start exploding in our temper. And or we start making up stories about it. It’s like those memes where it shows somebody crying or looking mad. And they’re like me imagining fake scenarios or fake arguments in my head and making myself upset. We’ve all done that. He’ll be involved in that. So I’ve been thinking about quit taking it personally, in these situations where we encounter a Jekyll and Hyde client. If somebody manages to worm their way in and they turn out to be a weirdo, somebody turns out to be a micromanager or a royal pill, or a project doesn’t go as long as it was promised to you. Now the two hour deal, okay, let’s just all universally agree that guy was a jerk and the way he handled it sucked. But let’s say that you have a client who said this project we think is going to go on for six months, and then it ends at the three month point, you have a choice there as a freelancer, you can either bust your gut and get really mad and pissed off. Or you can decide, You know what, I’m going to feel the way that I need to feel about this, which is probably disappointed and frustrated. But at the same time, I’m not going to take it personally, I don’t have any control over the economy. I don’t have any control over these people’s budgets. You know, I don’t control all the inner workings of their business. And who knows, maybe they promised me it was going to go for six months, and they really meant it at the time. Maybe they were lying at that time. I don’t know. What is taking it personally. And flagellating myself and whipping myself across the back. What is that going to do to change the situation? What is it going to do to better the situation? Probably nothing. I’ve been listening to some of Brian Scott’s videos lately. I feel right now, when we’re headed into this economic poop storm, we really don’t know what’s about to happen, or how bad it could get. I’ve been listening to his videos about every crisis is an opportunity. obstacles can be used to your advantage. And I’ve really been working on this mindset shift of when some poop happens. How can I step back from it and say, All right, is this a warning of some kind? Do I need to clean up my side of the street? Do I need to make some necessary changes? Can I learn something from this? Is this purely just a poop happens moment that happens indeed, to all of us. The rain falls on the just and the unjust. I think of Rabbi Kushner his book when bad things happen to good people, not if or maybe they’ll happen. But when bad things happen to good people. Because that’s life. Sometimes the good guy is not going to win. And likewise, sometimes great things happen to bad people. And you’re sitting there with your arms crossed going, well, that guy is a complete a hole. How on earth did he win the lottery? Or how on earth did he managed to find this awesome person to date? He’s a butthole. We see that sometimes too. And it happens in the business world as well. So really, I’ve really been trying to get into this like Jedi mindset of okay, when these things happen. How can it be an advantage? How can it be a learning opportunity? What can I do to clean up my side of the street a bit better? Because that’s like the story I told him one of the Saturday broadcasts about you know, I can’t tell you what to do. But I don’t think it would be a bad idea to check things like your banks policy, debit card policy, credit card policy, and so on. Because some of these companies that you think have 24 hour fraud protection, don’t. You may have to do everything online, by yourself. Or you may have to call in to some automated hotline and hope that it shuts your card off. That was eye opening. When I had that experience on my birthday. No less. We want a kick in the teeth, right? Happy birthday to you fraud. When I had when I had that experience, man. It opened my eyes. It really did. And it it helped me to make some better financial choices. So even though in the moment it was stressful and I was hopping mad, it did help me to clean some things up. And to realize certain dangers that I just didn’t, I just didn’t know they existed. Because I was living in this naivete of will every credit card company or every debit card company, every bank has a 24/7 Fraud Protection, where you can call an actual live warm blooded human and talk to a person. No, they don’t hate to break it to you, you know, if you were like I was, and you still thought that you might want to really check your bank’s policies and find out rather than learning the hard way or having to go through a really terrible debacle. But there you go, how can I use this crisis to my advantage? How can I somehow turn this obstacle into a triumph? What can I do about that? I really think as we head further into this poop storm, that’s going to have to be the question does your because we’re going to have some struggles, we’re going to have some tough times, I guess, unless you’re a fat cat or a power broker, you’re somebody that can go and beg the government for taxpayer money, the rest of us the average working class, people are going to be in for a hell of a ride. I think on top of that, if you can’t use the Q tip method, then you’re going to be in for a lot of headaches. As I said before, there will be times when you have to deal with somebody because you need the money. And you may have to hold your nose the whole time. And you may not be very happy about it, you may have a calendar on your desk, counting down the number of days until you’re set free. But you may have to do it in order to get the money. And it will go a lot smoother. And in my opinion, you’ll sleep better at night, if you can quit taking it personally. So there’s an article about this, I’ll drop a link to it on the center for empowerment, that where they talk about some scenarios, I’ll read, taking things personally is almost everywhere these days, just listen to the news or listen to our political leaders shouting at one another, taking every comment or tweet personally. Here’s a few other examples of where you might take things personally, a client didn’t return your phone call from last week and you feel disrespected. Your Facebook post didn’t receive many likes a package from Amazon that you expected and needed today did not arrive, a friend invited you over for a visit on her deck, and she only had red wine. You took it personally since you are sure she knows you only like white wine. When you take things personally, you literally make up details about the event. In effect, you are allowing your interpretation of events, often without facts or the other person’s perspective to become your truth and quote, yes. And we can do that. And it can become so fast. That’s why if you don’t retrain your brain and interrupt the pattern, you can wind up on a spiral. Oh, they ended this project early. Well, I guess they’re just going to do X, Y and Z. Oh, they’re going to hire somebody full time. Instead of farming this out to a freelancer. Well, good luck with that. I hope they quit in a month. Right? And we can, we can really go down some dark pathways instead of just hey, I’m gonna brush it off my shoulder and move on, you know, you do you boo. Mazel tov. Good luck. And then and then just move on. Because you don’t know the whole set of circumstances that I want to really pull the curtain back here on freelancing and gigging and owning and operating your business and tell you that all of this Razzle and dazzle we see on social media is largely hot air and Bs, you’re gonna have struggles, you’re gonna have tough times. And believe me, there will be times when you feel like a client has pulled the rug out from underneath you. And you have to make that decision. Am I going to take this personally? Or am I going to step back? How can this obstacle or how can this disappointment be transmogrified into an advantage? Perhaps this is an opportunity for me to get rid of some detritus and find something better. Perhaps this is an opportunity for me to get rid of somebody that’s paying me X amount of dollars and bid the next job hire mean, at least taking some kind of optimistic viewpoint is better than going into a very angry, dark, bitter place. Because you may think that you’re hiding that from other people. But I assure you, really you’re not. There’s another article that appeared on float on counseling blog, and it was written by Joe Schmidt. And because he brings up anger management, I want to talk about that. Now. Some of the earliest work I did when starting off as a therapist involved running an anger management group for people that were court ordered to do so. And let me tell you, many of them were not happy about having to be there, at least until they got to see that I wasn’t that bad of a guy. One of the questions I’ve asked myself is what is the main difference between the person able to just brush things off, versus the guy or gal who reacts so intensely or perhaps even aggressively when they’ve been wronged one way or another? The main difference I found, aside from the fact that one is way more likely to spend time in jail than the other is that the latter tends to take things personally, very personally. There are certain other biological, environmental and personality trait related factors that play into one’s response to stimulus around them. But the way a person thinks or has learned to think is huge. I’m reminded of something I learned in another one of my first real therapist gigs, I was working at a residential facility that provided therapeutic services to kids and teens struggling with some pretty major emotional and behavioral difficulties. During orientation on one of my first days there, the facilitator brought up the acronym Q tip, quit taking it personally, he essentially pointed towards the exit sign leaning towards the parking lot and told the group of new employees that this was not the place to be working if you had any issue with being called any combination of colorful names on any given day. Or if you could not accept that this was not the kind of place to take everything said or done to you personally. We were all braced to hear it. And we did. So some of his suggestions to Q tip are, question your assumptions about what has happened and consider alternatives. Challenge or change your expectations. Recognize your own insecurities, extend empathy. Remember why trolls are trolls and ignore. Remind yourself that people will be the way they are, whether you are there or not. Oh, I love that one. Keep your power. I’m going to go back to remind yourself that people will be the way they are, whether you are there or not, and read that troll, rude clerk and aihole and traffic are going to be the way that they are whether you are there or not. Our ego makes it feel really personal when it’s not in quote. I love that. And I really think that that’s so true. You may have heard the expression before, if they’ll do it with you, they’ll do it to you. If someone will cheat on their spouse with you, eventually they’ll cheat on you too. I feel like in this in the business world, we can draw some similar analogies. If someone is willing to cut you off at the knees and treat you poorly because you’re a freelancer or because you didn’t turn water into wine like Jesus, or you weren’t willing to work for pennies on the dollar. They’ll do that to other people, too. They’re just not good clients. They’re not people that most freelancers or business owners are going to want to deal with unless they’re just totally desperate, or they don’t know any better yet. It’s not personal. There, they would do it to anybody. It’s not like they singled you out, they decided to be Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to us specifically as part of some paranoid conspiracy. Unfortunately, that’s just who they are. So I think as we go on, people experience more layoffs. And so they set a shingle out and call themselves a coach not having any idea how saturated that market is. And quite frankly, how frustrating it can be at times, you have more people turning to the freelance or gig economy’s not really because they want to, but because they have to, out of economic necessity, they will encounter these pitfalls and have to make these decisions for themselves about where their boundaries are, and what kind of rules of engagement, they will draw up and then enforce. And I’m telling you, there will be people who will be resentful because you have those boundaries. The I Am the client, the customer is always right. You should be up at 3am. And you should answer my emails in 10 minutes because that’s what I come and those people are out there. You have to decide for yourself how you want to handle them. In the meantime, what I will say is I am really working on the Q tip method, as well as what Brian Scott talks about in his videos. How can I use this obstacle as an advantage? How can I use this crisis or this challenge to better myself? How can I transmogrify it, so that instead of being a negative, it’s now a positive? In the meantime, stay safe, stay sane, and I will see you in the next episode. Thanks for tuning in. If you enjoyed this episode, please take a quick second to subscribe to this podcast and share it with your friends. We’ll see you next time.