Tending to "client zero"
We all know how important it is to pay close attention to "patient zero."
That's the index case: the guy or gal or wee one who starts the spread of a communicable disease.
From Typhoid Mary, to HIV, to the first identified Zika carrier, scientists have closely monitored the behavior and biology of the individual at the heart of any outbreak.
So as I zero in on signing my first client for Flamingo Strategies, I have thought about "client zero." Who will that be? And how will client zero begin to define my business?
Last year, I had the good fortune to work with an executive coach. Earl and I spoke every week for an hour, to help me achieve next-level leadership during a time of disruption. He taught me to face some of my professional demons. For starters, my need to please and be liked (honed over many years in client service). Also, my habit of overly conflating who I am with what I do. I can sacrifice my most creative self in service of making money.
From Earl, I also learned a bit about the resilience of dependency-based systems in the context of interim authority. Despite my best effort, I was simply passing through.
Let's just say that Earl—a trained clinician with a PhD in organizational management who meditates daily—has skills. And because we connected on a level that transcended his hourly fee, he checks in on me from time to time.
Earl called on Thursday to see how I am faring in my first month as a solopreneur and head of Flamingo Strategies. As my hyper energy crackled through the phone, he let me go on.
Until he had enough rope to hang me.
"I have no doubt you will sign clients and grow your business," he said. "But are you taking care of yourself?"
Of course he was right. As the acceptance begins to gel—readers follow my blog and prospective clients respond to my emails—it is so easy to forget about my own emotional and creative health.
And then BOOM! The very next day, mindless driving led me to rear end a much larger car than my own. I was hungry and distracted. My monkey mind was churning. No one was hurt (thank goodness) and all the damage was to my car (ditto, but expensive). But I wasn't paying attention to me.
So now I get it. I am Client Zero. I need to pay attention to her and tend to her needs. Her creative health will be at the root of all I do, professionally and personally.
If Flamingo Strategies succeeds, we will be able to trace the spread of the idea to me.
And if it fails, it will be because I failed to notice when I am getting ahead of myself.