be the client you want to see in the world

In building a business, creativity, freelancing, inspiration, relationships by Jay Clouse

Between my junior and senior year of college, I decided it was time for me to get some experience in the service industry.

Well, to be totally honest, the two (very different) internships I applied for at Bridgewater Capital and MNML Design Studio both fell through in the eleventh hour.

So, I decided to learn to bartend and serve for a summer.

I think working in the service industry should be required as a rite of passage into adulthood. Some countries require that you spend some time in the military, and I think we should require at least a summer of serving in a restaurant.

Especially if you’re not working at a high-end place, there probably isn’t a faster way to get a real cross section of what people are truly like.

People generally seem to understand that a 10% tip is a minimum, 20% is more like par, and some folks tip closer to 30% (especially former servers).

Every now and then, you’ll have a guest who will tip 100% or leave some inordinate amount of money for you with a kind note.

But you also have the folks who are rude, harsh, and tip below 10% (or nothing at all). Way more of them than you’d expect.

Ever hear the phrase, “don’t shoot the messenger?” Well, in the restaurant word, the server is the messenger. We didn’t cook your steak or fry your potatoes.

Besides getting a much better understanding of people by serving, you really learn how to communicate too. It probably doesn’t surprise you to hear that being kind, thoughtful, pleasant, and responsive generally meant a better tip.

The same is true working in the creative world.

None of us truly work in isolation. And the majority of us work directly with other people – whether employees, coworkers, contractors, or clients.

And I’m sure you prefer to work with the kind, thoughtful, and responsive individuals. The professionals.

Your clients want the same.

And it starts with you. Hate late payments? Pay your people on time. Don’t like bad direction? Give better instructions.

Hate when a client crushes your creativity with poorly-informed revision requests? Don’t take creative license away from your contractors either.

Be the client you want to see in the world.


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