Red Velvet Ropes (plus a side helping of Mr. Spouse)

Apr 07

I think I was 2 years or more ago that I tried to lead a peer-group discussion around Michael Port’s idea of “red velvet rope” I was branded an elistist! Ok, really, it was more like a temporary tattoo, but even more temporary.policies.

Surprisingly,  the subject was a total non-starter – 2/3rds of the group branded the concept as elitist, exclusionary, snobby, and hurtful. At the time, I just changed the topic, and moved on, but I’ve never forgotten, and it’s been bothering me ever since.

Why? Because my own “red velvet rope” policies helped me shape the very peer group that now objected so strongly to the idea! The resulting paradox was more confounding than anything Marty McFly ever dealt with.

Plus, it gave me a headache.  I hate headaches.

But I may have found a  way to resolve the paradox, cure the headache, prove that “red velvet ropes” aren’t inherently elitist, and maybe even make you laugh at the absurdity that is my life.

Ready to hear about it? First, I’d better make sure we’re all on the same page …

Just What Is A Red
Velvet Rope Policy?

It’s pretty much what it sounds like… a policy that guides the right people inside your venue, and guides the wrong people away from your venue, so that neither of you waste your time, money or energy on something that’s not suitable.

Of course, before you can put a policy for that in place, you’ll need to figure out which people should be on which side of the rope. That means identifying not only your ideal audience, but also your wrong audience — the clients and customers who won’t be a good match, won’t inspire your best work, and won’t really get their desired benefit from your work, either.

That  second group?

They’re what Michael Port calls “dud clients” – not because they are duds as human beings, but because your business/creative relationship with them will be a dud.  A strong creative partnership between you and your ideal audience, customers or clients? That relationship should light both sides on fire – your work together should be electric, energizing, inspiring… the very opposite of a “dud”.

Dud Clients Are Dud CLIENTS,
Not Dud People.

Armed with that understanding, I tackled the “Dud Client” exercises in the illustrated edition of Michael Port’s book.  Which totally rocks, by the way, and you should check it out, even if you don’t do “client” work.  Most of the exercises and concepts can be adapted for other business models.

I started off by Identifying the least productive, most frustrating creative and business relationships I’ve had over the last 20 or so years – and let me tell you, there’ve been a lot of frustrations!  I was surprised at how easy it was to identify the projects that had resisted my charms, and refused to be lit on creative fire.

Next, I listed the specific frustrations common to those situations,  creating a profile of a fictional client who, based on past experiences, would be the sum of everything I found frustrating and unproductive in my creative work.

When I was done, I sat back, took a deep breath and reviewed the resulting profile.

And I Started Laughing.

And not a little laugh, either – this was no chuckle, but rather a full bodied laugh worthy of the best rolling-on-the-floor acronym you can think of.

Why?

My Dud Client profile? It TOTALLY  described MY HUSBAND!

Yes, you read that right… Mr.Spouse is my dud client. Seriously.

It's time for the newest hit game show... Dude or Dud!?!I can’t begin to explain how funny this is to me.

Mind you, he’s got lots of great qualities (including great taste in women, obviously). But beyond that, he’s genius level smart, incredibly loyal, open minded, ethical, honest, brilliantly funny, etc, yadda, going on for years.

But when I’ve tried to involve him in my projects and business? We both wind up frustrated, angry, and exhausted. Everything about how we work – the way we approach problem solving, our work patterns, our creative process and basic expectations of partnerships? They’re are just too different. He really is the poster boy for my dud clients, a living breathing avatar for the sort of customer that I need a red velvet rope policy for.

Obviously, this says nothing about his value as a person, and nothing about his value to ME.  I married him, and I’ve stayed married to him for 25 years. Obviously, I find value in our relationship.

But we don’t have a work/creative relationship. We will probably never have work/creative relationship, and that’s ok.

For my thinking, this pretty much disproves the whole “elitist” thing.  Red Velvet Rope Policies  really aren’t about judging clients, customers or audiences as “worthy or worthless”. They don’t say a thing about the potential of the individuals, but rather, they reveal the potential of our working relationship with them.

Outside of that creative working relationship, the “dud client” profile is irrelevant to my marriage, to my family relationships, to my friendships, even to some of my relationships with business peers.

Well, irrelevant except for one thing:  if I can identify a family or a friend as someone who belongs on the “other side of the rope” from my creative endeavors? I can stop expecting them to really understand what I do, much less be able to give meaningful feedback on marketing or offers.  It means I’m free to disregard, shrug off, or giggle about their attempts at advice or judgment, because they are NEVER going to grok that part of what I do… and that’s ok!

Because the really neat thing about my red velvet rope? It doesn’t keep me from crossing that velvet boundary and giving someone a hug. Or marrying them. Which Mr.Spouse is very grateful for.

Now if you’ll pardon me, I need to go show this post to him, so I can giggle affectionately at the confused look on his face while he reads it.

A Red Velvet Rope ala Michael Port -- Pretty. Not Scary.

Swoosh!

P.S. Speaking of Michael Port, he’s going to be the introductory speaker at Jennifer Lee’s virtual Right Brain Biz Summit this year!  The first segment starts… erm.. IN TWO HOURS FROM THE TIME OF THIS POST?

Sheesh I am so behind.  Anyway, you should totally sign up and attend, because it’s an incredible experience.  The energy levels and insights fly, plus, it’s Jennifer Lee and a whole bunch of other guests BESIDES the awesome Michael Port.

Also,  It’s FREE –>  Right Brain Biz Summit <—see you there!

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The Biz Viz Visualization: What’s It All Mean?

Feb 05

Why is the Ph of YouTube so stable? It constantly buffers!

That is one frickin' happy seagull!Quick Backstory:

This Business Visualization stuff? It’s something I learned from Jennifer Lee’s Right Brained Business Plan. The idea is to let go of expectations and let your creative process reveal new layers of what you want from your business, where you want to go, how you want to feel, and so forth.

Over the last few posts, I’ve rambled about feeling disconnected in previous visualizations, and I’ve shared the wacky results of a newly refreshed visualization.  Now, it’s time to look at what, if anything, it all means.  Mind you, not all visualizations need analyzing.  Some mean exactly what they seem to mean, and others just need to exist in their own existential, experiential space, without comment.

To be honest? My recent visualization attempts were likely the “Let them be” type, but I couldn’t resist.  So onward, fellow symbolism analysts and vision dissectors!

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Sky-Rats & The Man In Black (Big Business Visions, Continued)

Jan 17

Why is the Ph of YouTube so stable? It constantly buffers!

Back in October,  I wrote about a disconnect I’d discovered, having to do with the vision of my business – turns out, I wasn’t in that vision!  I sat down to correct the disconnect with a fresh visualization,  but the first go-round was unsatisfying. image

So I closed my eyes, and tried again.

Instantly, I was transported
to the seashore.

I sighed, in that long-suffering way usually reserved for characters in Jane Austin novels.   Why? Because this seashore image, like the previous studio-with-a-view one, had been popping into my mind quite a bit.

But I’m not a big ocean person, and the beach is hardly my dream work environment. I pushed ahead with the image anyway, to see what would happen.

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I’m Back! and With A Big Vision Visualization, Too.

Jan 16

Why is the Ph of YouTube so stable? It constantly buffers!image_thumb47

When last you heard from me way back in October,  I’d written a post about a problem with the long term vision of my business: I wasn’t actually *in* the picture.

So using one of the visualization exercises in The Right Brain Business Plan, I sat down to correct the problem.  I closed my eyes, and asked myself (and the dog siting beside me) what a picture of my success in business would look like, what doing the work would feel like.

The First Bit:

I saw myself in a beautiful, huge studio space, with hard wood flooring, glass walls, and a gorgeous view of trees and mountains in the distance.  It’s an image I’d had in my mind quite a bit recently, so it wasn’t surprising.

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The Curious Case Of The Biz Viz And The Missing Me

Oct 06

“People think dreams aren't real just because they aren't made of matter, of particles. Dreams are real. But they are made of viewpoints, of images, of memories and puns and lost hopes.”  ― Neil GaimanLately, a lot of my energy is going into the background work of the big picture & other bits of biz planning – basically, that means staring at the walls, consulting with cohorts & staying plonked down in front of creativeLIVE workshops for days.  I’ve added bucketloads of ideas into the plan, and edited even more of them out of the picture.

You know the picture I’m talking about, right? The really big, Big, BIG picture-window view of a project or business?  The business visualization (also obnoxiously reffered to here as ‘biz viz’ ) that encompasses an organization’s goals, values and mission? A future-proofed projection of where the project & its leadership are going, and why they’re going there?  The picture that’s supposed to guide my choices as a leader, and keep me inspired & motivated as I build this thing?

Yeah.

I suddenly realized I didn’t have one.

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Today, On Alien Monster… #37 The Bipolar Blanket Fort

Sep 18

It's Another Flourish

AlienMonster #37: May The Fort Be With You

Wondering what this is about? <—click here

It's Another Flourish!

While sorting through the archives of Alien Monster comics, this one leapt out at me – probably because I’m having a blanket-fort-kind-of-week around here.

And seriously, who doesn’t want to hide away from the world in their own way from time to time? How many of us might choose to stay in that fortress-of-solitude, if other needs didn’t force us back into the world?

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What You Didn’t See On The Circus Last Week…

Sep 12

Things go wrong. Even with ballooons. Sometimes *especially* with balloons.

Sometimes? Things go wrong. The popcorn won’t pop. The flying trapeze won’t fly.  The elephants are arguing politics with the tigers, the star poodle is in the dressing room crying over a bad haircut, and the clown’s nose keeps falling into his breakfast cereal.

Last Week? Yeah.
All of That Happened.

Ok, maybe not ALL of it, and not exactly those things… but stuff did go frustratingly not-right.   I thought I’d give you a glimpse of what happens behind the scenes around here, so you don’t feel so alone next time you feel like crying over the clown nose in your soup.

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