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A Business Lesson in Human Nature

More for adventure than education,

I once spent a summer in Tunisia studying Arabic.  After a brief orientation in Washington DC, I headed with a large group of soon-to-be classmates to the airport.

Having traveled extensively before, I fearlessly marched through the airport in search of the right airline desk.  Realizing that I had headed in the opposite direction of where I needed to go, I quickly turned to walk in the other direction – and realized that all twenty-something of my classmates had followed me.  Each with a summer’s worth of luggage in tow.

Turning around this unintentional human train was quite humorous – a lot of “huh!?  what’s happening?” followed by the clatter and scraping of perhaps 80 suitcases reversing direction.

This was not the first nor the last time something like this has happened to me.  All of which has reinforced a powerful lesson on life and human nature:

Stride confidently in any direction, and people will follow.  

It’s true in life, and it’s no different in business.

If you move confidently, people assume you know what you’re doing, and they follow.

If you timidly ask people if they could please hire you, if you waffle and apologize for your style, if you bend and sway to what you think people might want….you’re wasting your talents and your time.  You’re setting yourself up for someone more confident than you to take over, whether it’s your sales session, your photoshoot, or your business.

In my educational career, I’ve rubbed shoulders with a lot of big-shots in every industry you could name.  They were as diverse as you can imagine, but they all shared one trait.  Confidence.  They marched in a direction, not caring if it was the “right” one or not.  If they needed to turn around, so be it – and when they did, they found they’d had a trail of followers behind them all along.

Their common attitude was simply, “I’m here.  This is what I’m doing.  Deal with it.”

Few things are irreversible, even fewer are fatal.  When you don’t know what to do, pick a direction and start marching.  Learn as you go, not as you sit.

No one will follow someone who is parked on their rear end, wondering what they’ll do next.

But people WILL follow someone who is up and doing.  No matter what they’re up and doing.  No matter if they even know what they’re doing, or if they’re doing it the ‘right’ or ‘best’ or ‘fastest’ way.

Count on it.

Melissa - “I’m here. This is what I’m doing. Deal with it.”

This describes exactly what I’ve been feeling lately. The area I live in has a very strong “gimmie a deal” mentality that drives me up the wall. My husband and I are always discussing how I *could* discount to try and get more business but I don’t want to, I like where I’ve set my prices and I love what I’m willing to offer clients.

If they don’t see it than it’s their loss. Someone is bound to come around who appreciates what kind of business I’m running and what kind of experience I can offer them.

Thanks again for your blog, it’s like you’re in the back of my head milling around and drudging up all the things about my business that I’m thinking and lots of things that I’ve put on the back burner :)

Lori - I read A LOT of blogs. TONS. Yours is my new favorite. Every post is so very helpful and insightful! Just wanted to say thank you!

Jenika - Thank you so much, Lori! I’m so happy to hear that you’re enjoying it! :-) You’re most welcome, have a great day.

Marcia - Thank you for posting this. I so needed to read this right now. :) Your posts are always thought provoking. Sometimes it’s an affirmation that I’m on the right track but more often it’s a loving kick in the seat.

Jenika - Your attitude is totally right on as far as I’m concerned. I’ve talked to a lot of business owners in and out of photography, and they’ve all pointed out that you simply can’t stay in business if you’re not making money. Especially when you’re feeling overworked and undervalued. There’s no two ways about it. There are people who value your work and appreciate you, people who don’t care, and people who genuinely can’t afford it right now. We can still love the latter two groups, but if we try to cater to all of them, we won’t stay in business to serve anyone at all! I wish you well as you go to find clients who value what you do.

Jenika - Marcia – your comment made me grin! I would never want to give someone a kick in the seat that wasn’t loving ;) hee hee. I’m so glad it’s helpful to you. Have a beautiful day. Onward and upward, right?

Unkle Buck - Everything is negotiable. The key to negotiations is: a win-win philosophy. Even those wanting a gimmie may be able to give you something you want in return. As long as everyone gets what they want, everyone should be happy. Money is not the only thing having value.

Great blog! You are very insightful.

Buck

Melanie - Love this!! I am sharing it with my almost 19 year old son! Learn as you go,not as you sit. I’m going to write that on his dresser mirror! :-)

Jenika - Agreed. Very good point, and a great topic for another post actually. Clients very often want to “haggle” – which from their point of view is often getting you to lower your prices for no reason other than they want a lower price. But negotiating means both give and get. If a client wants a lower price, they have to give something. I hadn’t thought of it that way before…

Jenika - Haha ;-) Thanks Melissa!

Beryl - What a well written article. And oh so true. This is something I am constantly trying to instill in the studens I mentor. Thanks for sharing. xo.
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Kimberly Anderson - I agree with Lori; yours is my new favorite blog! Haven’t found someone addressing this side of photography business…super interesting!! Great article.

Jenika - Thanks Kimberly! :-) So glad you’re here.

Kelli - I love your posts, always so inspiring :) I love the quote “Learn as you go, not as you sit.” I am SO guilty of being afraid to make the wrong move, so I just sit in place and waffle. Next time, I’m going to channel this quote!
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Jenika - Woo-hoo!!! :-D

Peggy/DogBreedz.net - Love your blog and thrilled that I stumbled upon it (and happy to have you linked from mine, so other artist friends can find you, too). I strongly believe in the psychology of business (of life, actually)! I very much appreciate this post. I firmly believe in it. I spout similar rhetoric all the time – when talking to OTHERS. I need to remember to give myself the Talk on occasion, as well! Now that I’m a (small) business owner, I of course see things from This Side of the fence. But I do remember being the consumer and remember running a non-profit for almost 8 years. The “it never hurts to ask” and the “you don’t know if you don’t ask” are not only good consumer sense – they are a must for many people in today’s economic climate. I liked the previous reader’s comment on the “give and take”, since I am always open to hearing the requests – I may not be able to accomodate them, but I will listen. Maybe hearing something more than once will help me move my business/marketing plan in slightly different direction, based on what people want. Who knows until I listen? But I DO stick to my guns – I can’t say yes to everyone, nor do I want to. Confidence comes from many directions – from what we do as well as what we don’t do.

Thank you for a FAB blog – you’ve got an online follower here!

Kristen Fickes - What might someone want other than a reduction in price? I’m not sure they even would know, since people are conditioned to try to spend less on what they want. Any ideas, guys? I’m confused on this.

Jenika - People want to feel pampered, fabulous, stylish, amazing – and they want other people to admire them. Status. Power. Image. Emotion. Big factors that generate big sales.

People are loyal to people who pay attention to details that make their life better.

Some people are eternal bargain hunters, sure. But people will suddenly decide they can afford all sorts of things when they want it badly enough…
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Lynn Clark - This is brilliant information. I’m working on reorganizing my business and my brand, focusing it before I quit my day job and take the leap into full time photography. Pampered, fabulous, stylish and amazing are some of my new brand values. I love your site, and plan to spend some great time here.

Jenika - Thanks Lynn! I hope the info is helpful to you, thanks for taking the time to leave me the kind note! :-)

ashlee - “Stride confidently in any direction, and people will follow. ” – I love this – you have no idea how awesome your blog is -

Lucía - I´ve just read this post and it explains a lot. Since I was an 18 year old photography student I have been wondering why my talented classmates and colleagues, some of whom have attended the very same classes with the very same teachers and read the very same books always come to me with questions as if I knew a lot more that they do. I always try to read and photograph as much as I can, to be better everyday, but after reading this I can see that is my confidence and enthusiasm what makes me someone they trust. I will apply this to my clients as well. It´s great to know I´m doing something right!!

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