(Spoiler: Sometimes I don't! =)
Last week, I composed part I of a blog entitled "What Makes You Think You Know Better?"
In it, I defined the silliness that some people put themselves through, by continually refusing to place their trust in other people that are proven industry experts. The Lawyer, the Accountant, the Doctor, and even the Web Developer - such as ourselves, RocklandWeb - are here to ultimately make people's lives easier, not more difficult.
In this second part of the blog post, I ask myself the question: "What makes ME think I know better", than a trusted business advisor?
I, like all of us, am prone to making mistakes from time to time. I want to make sure you fully understand the inner and outer workings of finding the right people to accomplish your needs. In the last post, I focused on other people's capabilities - experts - to get the job done. In this post, I explain the possible inner mental/emotional workings of what might prevent you from trusting an expert.
To start off, I need to admit something to you: While posing my question last week "What Makes You Think You Know Better?", I needed to take a hard look at myself. Because I'm not perfect. And I did not want to be disingenuous in my writings.
Take September of 2019, for example. I and many colleagues of mine had been promoting a major event - called The Big Boat Ride - for Rockland Chambers of Commerce, regional networking groups, and elected Government officials. We had arranged for the use of a beautiful, 180-person yacht, had nearly 20 sponsors in advance, and tons of pre-sale tickets.
The weather was looking to be a perfect 70 degrees on the evening of the event. Even our County Executive Ed Day had confirmed his attendance. It was also promoted amongst seven Chambers of Commerce, sponsors, and on numerous Facebook local community and business groups for months, as well as on LinkedIn, in Rockland news publications, and at multiple networking and Chamber events I attended in the months prior. I tirelessly and shamelessly mentioned the event to everyone and anyone. (Yes, I was personally invested in this effort. I like boats.)
Here is the flyer I generated for the event:
Everything was looking great. Our visibility for the event was amazing. See below - Facebook Event stats.
However, two weeks before, my colleague George Mollo from the Nanuet Chamber of Commerce - indicated to me that based on his analysis, by the week of the boat ride, we would not have enough ticket sales to justify the boat ride.
George wasn't just working on instinct. He was also working off of years of exerience in business forecasting and projections. He also provided a detailed Excel spreadsheet that he composed, full of custom formulas, and the ability to see end results based on numerous scenarios of sponsorships, ticket sales and evening expenses (the latter of which totaled approximately $15k for the evening). He gently kept trying to (gently) point out the logic of the likely end result: we would have to cancel the boat ride, or lose a lot of money. We might as well do it now.
Just a few weeks prior, George and I had left the Piermont Village Board meeting with the likely approval of a docking permit in the Village, for the night of the boat ride. We dropped by a local pub up the street for a pint, and I verbally stated to him "I think you are awesome with numbers and analysis". That is an added bonus, in addition to being able to work with him as a trusted, fellow business professional (he has decades of successful business experience, working with Fortune 500 companies. He's also a very down to Earth person, and always willing to help). I meant it.
But despite his correct guidance, I kept on finding ways to override his analysis, and rather look at my interpretation of the "bright side", telling him that based on my own data (at that point we had about 17k ad impressions on Facebook, 550 marked interested, and 45 tickets pre-sold of an available 150), we would be fine. Based on my analysis, any event of this size that gets 17k people viewing it, it is bound to be a success, right?
As it turned out, by Monday September 16th, it was painfully apparent that George's analysis was correct. We only sold a total of 65 tickets online, and another 20 offline. If we launched the Big Boat Ride on September 18th, we would have lost thousands and thousands of dollars.
It was time to give up, and cancel the event. I called the boat organizers, thanked them for their patience - but admitted that we could not conduct the event. They were very graceful in their acceptance, and we left off on a good note. I do hope to do business with them soon.
Here's the point: If I had weeks earlier followed my own words, rather than my desire to be "right", and trusted a person that definitely knows better than I do when it comes to numbers, I might have saved ticketholders a bit of a hassle on the Monday before the boat ride. Because ultimately, we had to cancel the ride at 2pm on that Monday, due to what George had predicted two weeks prior: We won't have enough ticket sales to justify the boat ride.
Of course, George and I both had good intentions all the way throughout. We both wanted this event to happen, and we worked tirelessly all the way through the process, beginning in April of 2019. But in this case, the logic at the end of the process should have been adhered to (or at least better considered two weeks prior), instead of the week of the event. If I had listened better to someone who clearly knew better than me in the skill of numbers analysis and projection, I would have at least prevented the need for people to shift their schedules for an event that ultimately got cancelled. Sad face. =(
The good news is that even though it took me two extra weeks to get George's truth into my silly head, I was indeed still able to cancel the boat ride, refund all the ticketholders and sponsors, and notify our elected officials (County Executive Ed Day and Town of Haverstraw Supervisor Howard Phillips were some of my first messages) that we will not be holding the event this year. Many were disappointed, and I was ever-so-slightly devastated. But thank God, nobody else is any worse for economic wear - all refunds to ticketholders were processed within 24 hours, and sponsorship monies were returned to all stakeholders.
It was just time that was lost. And a little egg in my face gained. But I highly value my time, and I'm sure you do, too.
I should have listened to the expert a little sooner.
So, when we do the boat ride next year...I will make sure that I listen very, very closely to George, and trust his wisdom, his instinct, and his numbers. I might even ask a few extra questions of him, to see how we can leverage the numbers to make 2020's Big Boat Ride a majestic evening, for all of us to enjoy. And on that evening, as we look over the Hudson River and the new TZ Cuomo bridge I look forward to toasting George, on a job mutually well done.
Sometimes, I don't know better than the experts of a given topic. I hope the lesson I learned will help me to trust the advisors a little closer. So I'll also look for a few other trusted advisors - ones that are invested in the idea (almost) as passionately as I am, to create a wonderful evening of professional networking and enjoyment for Rockland, Westchester Orange and Bergen - on the Hudson River.
More importantly, I hope that the lesson I learned, and this blog post series will encourage you - in given situations - to come to the right answer of the question "What makes you think you know better". Business is much more fun when working with people that you can trust, and are looking out for your best interests. Trust the advisors that you already know are experts in their chosen field. It can be a Lawyer, Accountant, Doctor, a Pest Control Company, a Cleaning Company, and yes...even a Web Design, Marketing and Hosting Company such as ourselves. =)
If you are looking for some trusted business advice, I suggest starting with your local Chamber of Commerce, or a reputable business network in your area. Meet with your colleague of choice, and prepare to ask a lot of questions. S/he may or may not have answers. Either way, listen and ask lots of questions. If after your voir dire you are ultimately confident in the person's ability to help you (that is, if s/he wants to work with you =), then shake hands, and go for it. Let that person do what they do best, so you can do what you do best.
Note: If you are a trusted business advisor, I encourage you to connect with me via our Facebook Business page. You might be featured in an upcoming blog post or podcast. That is...if I trust you. ;-)