Posts Tagged ‘ethics’

Small Rocks Can Transform the World

Friday, April 8th, 2011

James Marshall was a carpenter from New Jersey, born in 1810. In the late 1840s he was hired by John Sutter to build a sawmill near Coloma, California. The sawmill was being built to provide lumber to the Sacramento Valley.

As Marshall and his men worked to build the sawmill in the American River, they soon realized that the water in that particular section was too shallow. There wasn’t enough water coming through to turn the wheel which powered the saw. They had to shut the water off to dig a deeper trench for the water to pass through.

On Monday January 24, 1848, Marshall was inspecting a section of the river below the mill when he spotted shiny metal flakes resting on some exposed bedrock. He took the metal back to Sutter where the two tested the metal privately. It was gold.

Between 1848 and 1850, the population of San Francisco increased from 1,000 to 25,000. People poured into Northern California. Merchants popped up everywhere, supporting the miners with goods and services. And as the gold became more difficult to find, technological advancements helped the miners move and sift through an enormous amount of dirt. The gold rush truly transformed California and, over time, the entire country.

Here are a few applications from this story:

  • Only a small percentage of miners actually struck it rich, and yet people kept coming to California because of the allure that gold has. How can you better market and promote your goods and services in order to generate an increased level of appeal?
  • No one goes into the mine looking for dirt. They go in to look for gold, and yet there’s a lot of dirt that has to be moved in order to reach the gold. Ultimate success for you depends on your level of commitment, patience, and positivity. You will have to dig through some dirt, but don’t stop until you hit the gold.
  • That one speck of gold that Marshall discovered in 1848 was a small ripple that eventually generated a tidal wave of transformation throughout the country. You, your employees, and your company also have the potential to make a big impact on more people than you realize. The small investments you make today in your business can pay enormous dividends in the future. You never know. So, be aware of the kind of brand you are building. Be mindful of the people you surround yourself with. And be careful in how you treat others.
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The Video Won’t Be Done in Time

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Before the project even begins, you realize that you are under a tight deadline. The client needs the video to be completed quickly, and you commit. You are confident in your ability to meet your client’s timetable. Unfortunately, you don’t get very far into post-production before realizing that it will be impossible to get the video finished before the deadline. What happens now? Last year I wrote an article entitled, “Deliver What You Promise,” which stressed the importance of fully evaluating the size and scope of a video project before committing. However, this hypothetical situation is different. In this situation, you are already knee-deep in the project and no longer have the option to turn it down. What can you do?

  1. Be honest with the client – This item is listed #1 for a reason. It is imperative that you call your client immediately and tell them what’s going on. They will certainly be disappointed that the project isn’t progressing as planned, but your client will respect you much more for being honest than they will if you waited until the very last minute to tell them of the problem. So, keep your client in the loop. Tell them what you’re seeing from your end. Tell them what you’re up against.
  2. Find out if the deadline can be pushed – Sometimes a client will pad out the schedule, knowing that certain unforeseen problems could arise. Therefore, if your deadline is the 15th, you might actually have until the 22nd. Talk to your client. Find out when the actual make-or-break point is.
  3. Break up the project into smaller, more manageable sizes – This is the moment when you start farming out portions of the project to other editors in your area. Look through your contact list. Examine your network of video professionals. Is there anyone on that list who could help by editing certain portions of the project while you edit other segments?
  4. Offer your client a discount on the work – Sometimes you might have to take a hit on your hourly rate in order to maintain a good relationship with your client. So, take responsibility. Face up to the fact that you over-promised and be willing to finish the video at no extra cost to your client. Or, offer them a discount, either on the current project, or a future project (assuming this is a repeat client).

These situations are never easy, and it causes major stress for both you and your client. However, there is always a solution to the problems that seem insurmountable.

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Keep That Business Card in Your Pocket

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

Getting started as a freelancer or small business owner in the creative field is definitely exciting. Whether you are in video production, graphic design, photography, web design, etc. emotions become a mixture of anticipation and anxiety. As you grow your business, you will always be on the lookout for new relationships and new opportunities. But as you promote your busines, it’s important to keep some ethical guidelines in mind.

At some point in your career, you will be hired out as a sub-contractor for another company. You may be hired to go out and shoot some b-roll footage or you might be asked to shoot some stills of a particular event. During these jobs, you are representing some one else – not your own business. You should never use it as an opportunity to hand out your own business cards and gain clients for yourself. This can be difficult to do, especially if you are first starting out and the client is pleased with your work. Remember, how would you feel if you had an established relationship with a client and a freelancer you hired was on location promoting himself and not your business?

In other situations you might be brought in on a project because you have a specific skill set. For example, let’s say a marketing project manager has a client who requests video production work in addition to the website that’s already being designed. The project manager might pull you in to handle that aspect of the job. In this particular scenario you should try and meet with the client only when the project manager is present. Remember, it’s the project manager’s client, not yours, and he/she should definitely stay in the loop. If you have to email the client directly for any reason, always Cc: the project manager. There are two more things to keep in mind with this particular arrangement:

  1. Never discuss payment terms with the client. That’s between you and the project manager. Remember, you are a vendor.
  2. Never accept payment directly from the client, unless you have permission from the project manager. Usually a project manager will include a markup into the budget to cover his/her time and overhead. Never give the impression that you are trying to conduct business behind the project manager’s back.

I know that as a freelancer or small business owner, it’s important to be zealous in your marketing efforts. But what’s more important is that you remain ethical.

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