Some things seems obvious after the fact. A trick to success in business and life is making productive and effective things happen. Today’s post is not about discovering bartering, which happens all the time. It’s about social and business skills — a major topic of this blog — and using them to create success. A one-time arrangement is nice. The ability to see opportunities and make them happen makes for a great career and life.
If things go as planned, the first stage of my new web page will roll out Friday afternoon. I’m excited about how it will look. Nothing crazy. On the contrary — simple, without changing too much from the current, soon-to-be-old, look.
Here’s a shot of the old look for posterity (click to enlarge).
How the new page happened
Readers email me. One guy I’d never heard of wrote me to tell me that he put stuff I wrote into practice, leading to major professional development results he liked — especially leading his managers to give him more responsibility and creativity at work.
Gratified and encouraged by his results, and honored and flattered he took the time to write, I asked if he wouldn’t mind writing a testimonial. He did — he wrote such an amazing testimonial, with links to specific pages that helped him, I couldn’t help but feel compelled to reciprocate.
I suggested if he benefited from my writing, if he thought he might benefit from one-on-one coaching, I’d offer some coaching in appreciation of the testimonial. Somehow not understanding I felt obliged to him and not the other way around, he then told me he had experience with web page design and suggested he could help with mine. I politely declined. We scheduled the consultation online.
When we met for a coaching session online we talked about the usual coaching things. In the course of the session, twice he suggested he could help with the web design. By this point I realized he was telling me something. I asked “Do you have specific ideas in mind?”
While he didn’t have specific ideas, he said he read a lot of personal development blogs and found my content consistently unique and helpful, but when he looked at the page design, he said it looked like any old blog. Someone who stumbled onto a post, no matter how valuable to them, might expect from the standard layout that the blog was just about random thoughts or my cats and not read more.
He had me intrigued about possibilities (and feeling good about how helpful my work was for him), but past web design projects I’d worked on took forever and I didn’t want to spend that time on it. But he clearly knew what he was talking about and got me to take a couple steps into the process of thinking of how the design could better reflect the page’s goals.
We didn’t take long to realize I valued his design skills — not just layout but asking effective questions and getting me to prioritize and think of my goals — and he valued my coaching. We decided to meet roughly weekly for two hours online. The first hour I coached him. The second hour we worked on web design, sometimes more of one, sometime more of the other.
With no money exchanged but lots of personal and web development going on, the lines got blurred and we became friends. I like how the page is coming along. Last Friday we said we’d move the testing site to the actual site this Friday, knowing we’d have to roll it out in stages because it’s not all done but it’s enough done to switch, letting us unveil new parts as we complete them. (I say we, but he’s doing more design work).
You could say we just set up a simple barter arrangement and say that that’s no big deal, it happens all the time. Maybe, but that doesn’t change that the arrangement is working well, benefiting us both, and took some effort to start. Or, more importantly for you, that people can create such arrangements all the time. Friendship is valuable. That’s about the best outcome you can hope for in creating a relationship.
That it happened took skills on both sides — social and business skills that you can use in many parts of life. He contacted me to thank me when he didn’t have to. I asked him for a favor. He commented he could help me back when I didn’t ask for it. I noticed he repeated himself and concluded he was communicating more meaning than I first thought.
These acts took skills of taking initiative, listening, offering, trusting, and so on. Things all relationships and business benefit from. Things we can all improve on.
Come back after Friday afternoon and check out the start of the new design, keeping in mind more will roll out over the next few weeks, being forgiving about bugs.
As always, constructive criticism welcome!
The main lesson is that business and social skills lead to better business and social relationships and that anyone can improve and use those skills.
On both sides: when you’re working with someone with experience, skill, and integrity, give without expectation of return.
Then enjoy the collaboration that inevitably arises.
Share your passions so people with experience, skill, and integrity know to find you.
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