It’s not business, it is personal


It’s not business, it is personal

It’s not business, it is personal

Relationships aren’t everything, but wherever you can, you should be work with people who take your work personally.

It’s not business, it’s personal.

Here in agency land, we place a lot of value in relationships – if we as a group were to get together, we’d probably admit we place a bit too much emphasis on relationships.  Agencies invest in relationships, we go to chemistry meetings, we talk about how relationships are going.  We obsess about where things are headed.  We want our relationships to work.

We’re not fools.  We know that we have to invest in our relationships and above all, we have to deliver the things that we said we were going to deliver.  Here, no-one is encouraged to under promise and over deliver, everyone is just asked to do what they said they were going to do for clients.  It’s a simple and fair promise.

As my career has developed and evolved, one thing has been consistent.  Whether I was a fresh(ish) faced Account Manager, a seasoned and worldly Account Director or as now, an agency MD and owner, I have always cared about what I was doing for my clients.  Their happiness has mattered.  Their investment in the agency has mattered.  Most importantly, their results have mattered.  The joy of a campaign that has delivered has been matched with the pain of an experiment that tanked.

To me, it always has been and always will be personal.

Because you’re worth it

I have never liked hearing the phrase “in business…” largely because it invariably stumbles from the mouth of a youthful fancy themselves entrepreneur ‘expert’ who has amassed the working experience of a mayfly.  The same can be said for that most terrible of phrases “It’s business, it’s not personal”.

I think that at the heart of it, I dislike this particular phrase because it fundamentally contradicts one of the other central tenets of professional existence.  That is that people buy from people.  If you can connect with the people you’re pitching to, then your chances of winning that client are far greater.  That makes the buying decision a very personal one.

So to hear that phrase as I move around my world, somehow it manages to change view of the speaker.  Somehow, it seems to be the stock phrase for the selfish and scruple-free operators who are thinking about themselves first and foremost.  It comes from the mouths of people who see themselves as being ‘on the way up’.  My experience is that it is seldom uttered by those who have climbed up.  In my experience, those people had the intelligence to realise that they didn’t make their climb alone.  They appreciate the help of trusted colleagues and professional friends.

It’s not ours, it’s yours

Not everything works, that is life.  The best thought through campaigns can fall flat.  But when they do, I want to be working with someone who cares.  Someone who takes it personally.  I know that our clients to do.  If it was just business and nothing personal, we’d just take a client’s money and run if things flopped.

We’re not going to do that because we genuinely care.  We take it personally and we know that our clients appreciate it when we do.

What he said

In 2012, the great Seth Godin blogged.

“It’s not business, it’s personal

It’s too easy to blame the organization and the system and the bottom line for decisions that a person would never be willing to take responsibility for.

Whenever you can, work with people who take it personally.”

I couldn’t agree more.

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