The Hardest Weekend I've Had in Many Years

About two weeks ago, I had one of the hardest weekends of my career. Many things came together all at once and pretty much brought me to my knees.

  • Our wonderful, special dog Lucy has cancer. We rescued her from a very abusive situation and she's been a wonderful companion. She's fighting it well, but we don't know when and how the end will come. When we got her, she was terrified of men, terrified of newspapers, and had a bullet in her hip. Now she brings me the paper and is as sweet as can be. She's a Rottweiler and Labrador mix.
  • I was experiencing really significant pain in my neck. I've been trying to avoid my third spinal surgery, and so far nothing is working and that's discouraging.
  • I had just come off a very busy traveling schedule and was worn out. I was in an introspective mood.

I'm back to myself now, but that weekend will always be something to remember, for various reasons.

One of the revelations (resolutions?) that came from it is related to my business. It occurred to me like never before that I've been helping hundreds of clients sell more things for their clients, and much of the stuff they market for them is either shit we don't need or full of lies. That IS marketing, folks, except in rare cases when one of your clients accepts the notion of authenticity, honesty, and genuine concern for the world.

So how will this change my consulting practice? Well, I figure that prospective clients will still interview me over the phone to see if I'm a fit for their needs (that's a good thing), but I'm going to start interviewing them, too.

I've done it a half dozen times in the last two weeks, and the results have been fascinating. Here's the question I ask: "Why should I work for you? More specifically, what sort of work are you doing that changes the world for good?"

Even though we're on the phone at this point, I can "see" their eyes light up and they immediately (that was a surprise to me) tell me a story about a current client that fits the mandate I questioned them about. There was no hesitation, and nobody has been offended by it.

I have significantly more opportunity than capacity, so that makes it a tad easier to take this sort of risk. I'm just a little disillusioned by most marketing, which is full of lies and inauthenticity. As long as your client isn't evil, I think it's fine to take on that sort of work. But do what you can to nudge the client toward a better approach to marketing, okay? And toy with asking them why you should apply your significant skills to helping them sell whatever it is they do or make.

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Danielle Kristmanson

I started reading this blog as a means for improving my business. Somewhere along the line I started reading it as a means for improving myself. For what its worth, the second phase has been as rich and meaningful as the part you charged me for.
PS: Thanks also for the ability to comment.


David C. Baker

Danielle, your comment made my day. It's been great to know you better through the roundtables and not just that initial bout we did. Thanks for taking the time to comment.


Thomson Dawson

Inspiring post well done!

I've been a reader o your blog almost from the start. As a former design firm principal, I know too well the work involved in creating more opportunity than capacity.

It's of critical importance to your well-being that your work enhance your life not suck it out of you. You must be picky about what you involve your creative energies in.

For years, I ran a design business of hourly rates not value to the client.
In other words, the focus of my work was to manage process and implementation, rather than help my client's discover their best opportunities to grow their business.

Your thinking is always spot on...


Ian Rhett

Thanks for your comments this morning at eSpaces. I'm really appreciative of this new tact for your practice. I left the B2B marketing game in 2001 and haven't looked back. I may make half as much, but I'm twice as happy/satisfied, knowing that my life-energy is being applied in the direction of the change I want to see in the world. I really think there's nothing better than aligning your effort with your values.


David C. Baker

Thank you, Ian. It's a lonely road at times, but it's comforting to receive affirmation every once in awhile like this! Glad the talk was helpful this morning.


Darin Painter

David, this is a great post. We've spoken a couple times for articles I've written for HOW, and I hope you're doing well. I noticed you're at the PSDA Small Distributors Summit -- good group of people there. Thanks for the thought-provoking content on this site, and for reminding me to channel my energy in the right places.


Patty Hake

And David nailed it at the PSDA. I've been telling everyone that it's the best seminar I've ever attended. (I'm the sneezer...) I am enjoying navigating through your website(s) and have signed up for updates. A lot of value in the content. You are as interesting as a writer as you are a speaker. And to think that I almost chose another seminar that day...


David C. Baker

Patty, you made my day with that comment. Thank you so much!

Darin, I definitely remember my interviews with you, mainly because you always asked great questions!


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