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June 18, 2010
Here Are Four Ways to Get Yourself Kicked to the Curb
Being kicked to any curb is no fun. It means you got dumped, fired, let go, or thrown under the bus. In the past six months, I’ve kicked some folks to the curb. Here’s the story and how to prevent it from happening to you.

I’ve been slammed. Not only have I been retooling and relaunching Oddpodz, but also I’ve been creating a new global eco-brand called Earthwise. It’s been fun and challenging as the client operates in a complex, industrial space.

My branding firm  is not huge, so like many small business firms, we’ve got to leverage other professionals along with my leadership and project management to handle big projects.

A few weeks ago, my team and I introduced a new brand to over 400 employees. It was a great success. The event was smooth, and my client was very happy. As part of the event, we produced a FLASH presentation on Earthwise, how the brand got started, what we had accomplished, and where we are going next. The movie highlighted our work, the new Web site, social media blogs, collateral, trade-show tools, PR, and media training. It was amazing to see what we had accomplished in less than four months being a fairly small shop. The secret to this high volume of deliverables was extending my core team with some very competent, specialized, and highly skilled contract service provider/partners.

So what makes an awesome contract partner or service provider? What lame-o experiences warrant being kicked to the curb and being removed from the national Do-Not-Call Registry?

Here’s my recap, and I’d bet my BMW that these simple acts are universal deal killers and will quickly kick anyone to the curb. While the examples below are business situations, if you are guilty of them, they will run off your friends, too.

Leave your crabby pants at home. It does not matter how skilled you are, the quality of your work product, or what big clients you’ve helped. No one wants to work with a whiny, negative, or grumpy person. If you are not sure whether this is you, hit the record button on your iPhone and play back a call from a recent client conference. Your phone voice should scream smiles and I’m here to help, not bitch and give 10 reasons why you can’t do something. This vendor got kicked to the curb.

Get over the poor-me, victim persona. OK, life is tough. We all have challenges; sometimes life truly sucks, and we know you are trying. However, no one wants to here about all that junk even if we are buddies. Here’s the reality: You don’t earn any points from this “woe is me” talk. It’s not cool, and this behavior will wear down a customer faster than you can say gone. This service provider got kicked to the curb.

Return phone calls in a 48-hour window. I don’t care how busy you are or what’s going on, and if you are that busy, you can afford an assistant to help you. If you have a working relationship with a company, you have a duty to get back to them in 48 hours via e-mail or phone call, even if this means setting up an auto reply, letting the world know you have some unusual circumstances that are preventing you from returning calls. Can’t figure this one out? Nothing makes me crazier than when someone who I have a contract with is missing in action, and I have to resort to threats to get his or her attention. This person got kicked to the curb. 

Read what you sign and take responsibility for what you agree to do. I hired a copywriter to do two jobs. We discussed the assignment, and the details were clearly put in writing in a purchase order. The contractor accepted the PO and project. Then, this person missed the deadline, failed to submit a sample page as requested in the PO, and after she did the job, moaned profusely about how the job took her much longer than she anticipated. Then, she wanted to change the agreement terms after she turned the work in. This one takes the cake, the cupcakes, and the pie. What a nightmare. She got kicked to the curb.

These are three tragic scenarios, especially in this challenged economy. All of these contractors are extremely talented but working with them was too much work, and the risk associated with partnering with them could jeopardize my relationship with my clients. And I’m not going there. All of these “kicked-to-the-curb” cases were completely avoidable and staring at a chunk of cement instead of a new business.

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Karen Post, aka The Branding Diva®, is an international branding expert, consultant, and speaker. She has been featured in a broad range of media outlets, including Bloomberg TV and radio, CBS's "The Early Show," The New York Times, The New York Post, NPR, Fast Company, and The Boston Globe. She is also the author of Brand Turnaround (McGraw-Hill) and Brain Tattoos: Creating Unique Brands That Stick in Your Customers' Minds (AMACOM).

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