I’m a details man and that’s how I like to think of myself. Some might refer to me as a bit obsessive, while others might call me a pain in the neck. Guilty as charged. However, at the end of the day, I’m kind of proud of any of those names you might want to call me… as long as it insures the job you’ve asked me to do is done right.
When I work for a speaker’s bureau, it always makes me smile when I catch the clause in almost every contract that states this: “The speaker must be in the room one hour before the presentation is delivered.” One hour? I can’t remember the last time I didn’t allow for at least two hours before the presentation. No matter what time my presentation is during the day, I am always in the room at 6:30am to make sure everything will be right when I do speak. Coincidentally, that’s when the hotels, and the companies that handle the AV and set-up, are getting the room ready. There’s always the risk of technical issues and that’s the time to address them. As an aside, I haven’t had a mix-up or significant problem with the AV for my delivery in over twenty years. You would think, with the thousands of presentations I’ve delivered, I’d have at least one significant malfunction, but I guess I’m just lucky.
For presentations that are afternoon deliveries, bureau contracts state I can fly out the morning of the presentation as long as I have a back-up flight. Fly out the day of a presentation? Whether it’s for a bureau or a workshop I’ve sold, I always fly out the day before a presentation no matter what time the presentation is being delivered. There’s always the possibility of airplane delays, and/or weather issues to work around, and leaving the day before significantly decreases the risk of not arriving on time. It also means I’ll be rested and ready to go. Although this may seem hard to believe, I haven’t missed a seminar delivery in over twenty years. Again, I guess I’m just lucky.
One of the trickiest aspects of what I do is getting the material to line up and fit the client’s needs. There really isn’t a lot of guesswork here; it’s more a matter of flushing the information out from my clients, and continuing to poke and question until I’ve got it just right. To clarify this point a bit, it’s never the intent of my clients to forget to tell me critical information. Often, my clients have no idea what it is I’m looking for. It’s my responsibility to get the details just right, and that often means I have to ask my clients a lot of questions until I am absolutely sure I understand their expectations. Surprisingly, even though I’ve worked with hundreds of different companies and organizations, I can’t think of a time in which there was a mix-up in what was requested, and what was delivered. More blind luck, I suppose.
That’s why I had to smile while preparing for this week’s seminar in Boston. You see, I was coordinating an event with people who approach their work much like I approach mine. We were working on a half-day workshop for his company, and we spent a lot of time getting it right. There were drafts and re-drafts of agendas. There were case studies that required multiple rewrites, and shifting logistics. At one point, during a flurry of emails, one of my clients apologized and wrote, “I am just nutty about the details.” I quickly explained how appreciative I was that he was as nutty about the details as he was! Quite frankly, life would be a whole lot easier if everyone was as nutty about the details as this company was.
So, as with any good BLArticle®, the message turns to you. Are you nutty about details? Are you willing to be the person who might be considered a bit obsessive to make sure you get it right? Are you willing to show up a day early rather than an hour early? Are you guilty of sending out a flurry of emails to avoid what some would call, “bad luck?” If you are, I’m willing to bet you’ll see luck favor you.
I’ve always been a fan of Thomas Jefferson’s quote regarding luck: “I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”
To me, it’s all about the details.
(As a side note, on January 28th at 3pm I will be conducting a free, one-hour webinar titled, “Redefining the Art of Persuasion.” The program is scheduled to last one hour and is sponsored by HR.com. If you would like to listen in and throw some questions my way you can register for the event at http://www.hr.com/stories/1383845706255)