My friend Nicole Orisich reminded me that I have to be accountable for my own actions. I'l admit, this is something I'm normally pretty good about, but I was apparently more bothered than I realized. It's times like this when I'm very appreciative of her New York candor.
Here's what happened:
For the last 3 years, and against my business preference, I've been pursuing a business relationship with a celebrity. I normally don't work with celebrities and I'll probably write a blog about why later.
The reason I've been extremely interested in working with this particular person is because I believe in his brand and message to the world. (Or so I thought)
When I met him in person 3 years ago, we had a chat about what I do. It was just conversation, at first. Then it turned into the possibility of me working with him.
The first time we discussed it, I was told that he was "genuinely interested" but due to financial reasons and some revamping within his organization, it would have to wait until after the first of the year.
The first of the year rolled around and I checked-in again. I was told that it's still not the right time.
For a very long while, I was busy doing other things, living my life and I forgot all about doing business with him until the beginning of this year when I found out we were in the same city at the same time. When he sent me a message with his cell phone number and told to contact, that's what I did.
We chat and it was a bit of a "You're exactly what I need" conversation. I was excited, as before, about the prospect of working with someone I respected.
For the last 10 months, we've engaged in a series of extensive chats and text conversations and the reason that the deal hasn't been sealed has varied from one thing to another.
In August, we had an extensive conversation (our first) about what his business needs are and the list was pretty extensive, but it was all things within my wheelhouse, which I explained. I talked about my experience and how I could save time and take care of all these things.
The end of the conversation sounded promising. He said they needed to discuss it with his wife, but he was "really interested" in moving forward; however, my fee was a challenge. Everything in business is negotiable and it has to be a win-win for all parties involved, so I was willing to negotiate.
Immediately after the conversation, as is customary for me, I sent an email to memorialize what we discussed including the scope of work and my fee.
I didn't get a response. But, he had already said he was terrible about following-up, which is why he had put all the responsibility on me over the years to stay in contact with him. (I'm guessing)
Then, he dropped the f-bomb. He said he wanted me to work for FREE so he could get familiar with my work. At this point, he may as well have used the other 4-letter F-word.
But, I said I was willing to talk about it. (What was I thinking?)
So, he didn't want me to work for free. He didn't want to pay me. He didn't want to negotiate. He didn't want to follow-up. He can't afford me. His money is tied up. He's busy. He's got other things going on.
In the midst of ALL THIS, he's saying "but keep checking in with me" or "call me next week" or "I'm going to call you in a minute" or something/anything else. The latest "reason" he gave me is that he needs to wait until after the first of the year.
My general rule is if I have to chase you to work with you, I'll probably have to chase you for payment. He seems to fit right into this rule.
This is where it hit the fan. With his last text message about not having the money, I told him that I'll resign the idea of us working together. (I mean seriously, it's been THREE YEARS!)
His response was a super-long text message that said I shouldn't take a business decision personally (which I didn't - business is business and I don't have another minute to dedicate to pursuing someone with more excuses than a kid). Then, he said something about pursuing Jay-Z for the last 7 years and he'll never give up (maybe if he had me on his team, I could get him closer - I do have some connections, after all). Followed by telling me that I've never put anything on paper, no scope of work in detail.
Which one is it? Are we not working together because you can't afford me? Because you want me to work for free? Because you have personal issues? Because you need a scope of work? Or, are we just playing games?
I responded and told him that I did send the scope of work, followed by a text message screen-shot of the email with time and date stamp and the email address I sent it to.
This has been absolutely absurd and again, I broke all my rules by pursuing a celebrity, negotiating from a point of weakness, and wasting too much time on someone who isn't actually ready to pull the trigger.
A lot of the trouble I've found myself in business-wise, is based on my failure to listen to my gut and follow my own rules. I'm not even mad about this. Not because it didn't work out. I am a little pissed by him questioning my integrity and accusing me of not sending the scope of work, just because he didn't check his email. But, I feel like he's grasping at straws and trying to poke holes in my business acumen.
Every experience is a lesson. Have you ever had an experience where you didn't listen to your gut and it got you into trouble?