Time, Part 02

Continued from “Time, Business & Handouts [Time, Part 1]”

In the very beginning of 2009, after I had aired my grievances with 2008 and was feeling, mentally, so fresh and so clean [clean], I ended up in a f2f conversation with a client one evening.

The reason I mention that it was evening is that I do my best work in the morning. By the time it gets to 7pm on any given day, I don’t give a flying &$#% about YOU or your project (even if I’m still working on it, hehe). The only think I’m thinking about by then are BREWS and CHICKS.

It’s nothing personal. I’m the same way about my own projects. The same thing that sounds like a FANTASTIC idea in the morning, that I can dedicate all sorts of TIME and ENERGY to, by the time it hits evening, I don’t care about my own ideas. I’ve learned this about myself and when I’m “eeh” about something that I think up in the evening, I shelf it until the morning to see what I REALLY think about it.

So that’s the state I was in when I happened to be f2f (face-to-face, IRL, in real life) with this client and I was nowhere NEAR in the mood to discuss ANY business other than what we were there to discuss at that moment. Here’s how the conversation went:

Him: So, what’s your schedule for [such-and-such-a-day]?

Actually, I have to stop there. 🙂 When he asked me that, first of all, I tried to mentally access the day he was talking about to see if I was booked for any work on that day. He was talking about the week ahead of the day we were talking, and I realized after a few seconds that I didn’t have anything booked for that entire week. Once I figured that out, I shut my brain back down and went back to thinking about brews & chicks.

So, this is how it went:

Him: “So, what’s your schedule for [such-and-such-a-day]?”
Me: [mentally accessing] “…………………………..” *shrug*
Him: [looks at me funny]
Him: “ok, So what’s your schedule for [such-and-such-a-day+1]?”
Me: [now knowing I had nothing booked that day either] *shrug*
Him: [looks at me funny]
Him: “So, what do you do?”
Me: [stopping thinking about chicks… AGAIN, and accessing]
Me: “…………………. Well… The other day, a friend of mine couldn’t get her powerpoint presentation to go to video properly, so I had her send me her files and I made the video for her and output it to several formats she wanted and gave her the links to download them………………….. I also spend a lot of time maintaining my internet presence……………”
Him: [looking at me like I’m stupid] “Nah. I mean, What do you do FOR MONEY?”
Me: [looking at him like he wasn’t listening] “That’s what I’m talking about.”

I know it was a hell of a lot funnier IRL, and you would have had to have seen our expressions during this exchange. 🙂 Most people would have thought *I* was trippin’, because I couldn’t (or, potentially wouldn’t) say what I was doing on a given day. Meanwhile, I felt like *HE* was trippin’, because I had just explained exactly what he asked me about very clearly, and he didn’t get that I was talking about BUSINESS. That’s my fault, though, because I hadn’t fully explained to him how BUSINESS works, as far as I’m concerned.

Here’s the bottom line…

*ANYTHING* that you *CAN’T* do that I *CAN* do is BILLABLE.

If you can’t get yourself in shape and I can train you, that’s BILLABLE.
If you can’t output your powerpoint presentation before your deadline and I can, that’s BILLABLE.
If you can’t figure out what happened to your website’s theme and I can, that’s BILLABLE.
If you can’t make sense out of the hours of footage you shot and I can, that’s BILLABLE.
If you can’t film an event and I can… that’s BILLABLE.
If you CAN film the event, but you want ME to film it in better quality… that’s BILLABLE.
If you want to learn how to achieve and maintain over 1,000 Facebook friends… that’s BILLABLE.
If you want to know what equipment your company should buy, that’s BILLABLE.
If you want music written, produced or mixed for your show, that’s BILLABLE.
If you want to learn how to edit, greenscreen or color correct something, that’s BILLABLE.
on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on…

That’s why I looked at him like *HE* was trippin’. I had just told him that I took a situation that was about to FAIL and turned it into a WIN for a friend of mine, and his first assumption was that I didn’t CHARGE. HER. FOR. MY. TIME!!!!! 😀 Trippin’. Why in the world would I waste my own time for free? If her presentation doesn’t get delivered on time, do *I* take a pay cut? Nope. Do *I* get a blemish on my professional record? Nope. So… What’s my incentive for handling someone else’s business for free?

The Closer

The best way to describe professional freelancers is that we’re “closers”. In a baseball game, you have the starting pitcher, and then you have the closers. The starting pitcher’s job is to keep the game as close as possible into as late innings as possible. WORK, WORK, WORK, WORK, WORK… Work the starting pitcher TO DEATH, and then bring in the closer to make sure that the situation ends on a positive note for your team.

Sometimes, the closer works an inning and a half. Sometimes, the closer works only two batters (2/3 of one inning). Meanwhile, the closer STILL gets PIZAID (slang term, meaning PAID. A. LOT.) This is because without the closer, you, your company and your investors ALL FAIL if you can’t handle a business situation on your own. The closer is the “Ace up the sleeve”. You don’t pull that ace OUT until you REALLY need it to guarantee the win.

Here’s an example…. The other day, I just HAPPENED to be available and near my computer & equipment around 2:45 in the afternoon. I COULD have been at the gym and not monitoring iChat/AIM or any other way people can contact me via Social Media. I could have been at a friend’s house “doing what I do”. 😀 I could have been booked that day and working on a project. I could have been in another state, entirely.

So it just so happened that I was “in position” when a client IMed (instant messaged) me talkin’ ’bout “Can you be on a client’s (his client’s) location by 3pm? :O”. That’s the only reason I know what time he IMed me. That’s when I looked at the clock and realized it was PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE for me to be where he wanted me to be within 15 minutes. I mean the only way would have been for me to walk out the door that second, without testing ANY of my equipment, get right into a magically-awaiting cab, have there be ZERO TRAFFIC in Manhattan, NYC, USA at 3 in the afternoon, have ALL THE LIGHTS TURN GREEN IN FRONT OF US, get right into the building, into the elevator, to the client’s floor and to their suite, where I had never been before. 😀 Impossible.

So I told him “Nope.” hahaha I told him “I can get there ASAP, but it won’t be anywhere near 3pm”. Since I was the only game in town, he told me to go for it. I arrived to my client’s client’s spot @ 3:45, handled the business and sent out the invoice. Closed. FTW (for the win).

Dynamic Life

This is why I can’t tell you what I’m doing on Wednesday. It’s not Wednesday yet. The only way I’d be able to tell you what I’m doing on any given day is if I know I’m already booked and confirmed for that day, which means YOU can’t have it.

This is incorrectly inverted by people who think that when you say you “don’t have anything to do” on a particular day, or you “don’t know what you’re doing” on a particular day that that means that THEY can take up your time on that day. No. What it means is, If an EMERGENCY comes up for one of my current clients, I might handle that. If I get booked the day before for a job on that day, I might be doing that. If I decide to spend the day drinking Cosmopolitans with my girls, I might be doing that. If I decide to travel to DC for a couple of days, I might be doing that. If I decide to hang out in the gym all day, I might be doing that. If I decide to write a couple of DatingGenius posts and a Social Media post, I might be doing that. If I decide to spend the day reading other people’s blogs and commenting and maintaining my internet presence, I might be doing that. If I decide to go act in somebody’s videoblog, I might be doing that…..

“The Spirit’s Day Off” – Indy Mogul Test Film
Indy Mogul: Behind The Scenes – “The Spirit’s Day Off”

That’s the DYNAMIC life… Not the STATIC life. The closer doesn’t pitch 9 innings like the other pitchers. The closer doesn’t go out in the field once per inning like the rest of the players. The closer doesn’t pitch in the 3rd inning, sit down and pitch again in the 7th.

The closer doesn’t 9-5 it. The closer doesn’t waste time and energy on minutia. The closer’s job is to be READY and SHARP, just in case the job needs finishing. What does the closer do during most of the game??? HANG OUT. That’s right. HANG OUT. You might see the closer head to the bullpen around the 6th or 7th inning to get warmed up just in case. Other than that, don’t bother the closer.

Do not ask the closer to pinch-hit. Do not ask the closer to carry bats. Do not ask the closer to help the catcher put his pads back on. Do not ask the closer to carry the drink cooler. Do not ask the closer to do ANYTHING other than be prepared to SHUT THE OTHER TEAM DOWN if need be.

Free Time

This is why there’s no such thing as “free time”.

The time that appears to be “free” to YOU is necessary to the closer in order to maintain the proper mental and physical state to do what I need to do when the time comes. If you see me at a party….. it’s because I’M PARTYING. It’s not an indication that I don’t have enough work to do to keep me busy. It’s not an invitation for YOU to attempt to further your own business interests at MY expense.

On top of that… 🙂 Another thing I find really funny is that EVERYONE seems to assume that they’re THE ONLY ONES that have asked me for a favor. SRSLY… It’s like “take a number and head to the back of the line”.

Just the other day, this friend of mine informed me at 6:30 pm that there was a party going on THAT EVENING and asked me if I could come through and videotape it………… Why in the WORLD would I want to do THAT? 😀 It’s really amazing. I think there’s a disconnect where people FAIL to put themselves in other people’s shoes. It borders on insanity. It’s like how when people get older, and their kids do EXACTLY what THEY were doing at that age, it’s like they completely FORGOT what they used to do and act like THE KIDS ARE CRAZY!

Let’s say YOU were about to enjoy a leisurely evening of popcorn and DVD movies on the couch with your wife/husband/SO/whatever, and I called you up talking about “Hey. Get up from your couch, bring your professional equipment, come to this location in the middle of the night and work FOR NO REASON AT ALL and NO PAYMENT. Thanks. Seeya There! :D”… Wouldn’t you think I was CRAZY? Like, out of touch with REALITY?

The “problem” here is that most people are pitchers, not closers. Most people scratch along and do what they can do to get some money and it takes all of their time and energy, so when they see someone enjoying himself, they figure he’s not working as hard as he COULD BE and that his free time could be best utilized to enhance THEIR lives.

No. It doesn’t work that way. 🙂 It’s like the Fire Department. You don’t see them running all over creation doing stuff for people, because THEIR JOB is to be ON POINT when the REAL ACTION goes down. You want that Firefighter to be able to lift that hose, axe that door, save that civilian, climb that ladder, rappel from that roof, run up that staircase and SAVE. YOUR. $&@#*#&. ASS. when you really need it. NAH MEEN?

So when you ask that Firefighter what he’s doing this Wednesday, and he’s like *shrug* “Playing cards down at the station?”, don’t look at him FUNNY, like as if he’s not DOING $*%& with his life. Recognize that he’s a CLOSER. He doesn’t LIVE like you do. He doesn’t WORK like you do, but TRUST & BELIEVE, just like the closing pitcher or the special forces sniper, when it *IS* time for him to go to work, you’re gonna see top-quality results, and you’re gonna be glad that a SPECIALIST was available to handle the business.

~Bill Cammack, January 19, 2009

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  1. killer post – I love the:

    “The closer doesn’t 9-5 it. The closer doesn’t waste time and energy on minutia. The closer’s job is to be READY and SHARP”

    You sir, are a CLOSER

    1. hahaha Thank you, sir. Just trying to write something that someone else might get something out of before it all fades into my “status quo” and natural way of being and is “forgotten”, like so many other things I’ve already internalized. 🙂

  2. Really awesome post, Bill. You so totally nailed it!!

    *ANYTHING* that you *CAN’T* do that I *CAN* do is BILLABLE.

    And loved the cameo in the Indy Mogul flick. 🙂

    1. hehe Thanks, Shane. The conversations I had with you and Rox were important and pivotal events for me. I’m used to being a complete PIONEER in EVERYTHING that I do, so it’s rare that I get to receive advice from people who have already been down the road I’m traveling.

      It took a bunch of months for the ideas to solidify for me. I understood what you were saying at the time, but it wasn’t internalized until I had a few experienced that made me sit up and say “AHA! THAT’S what they were talking about!”.

  3. Great two-part article, I could go into a lot of comments but I’ll keep it brief and say that I agree with many of your points and have experienced several situations personally. It’s inspired me to try and do a better job from now on managing my freelance time and “availability” for clients. I thought the fireman metaphor really drove your point about “closers” home. Looking forward to more articles!


    1. Thanks Kunal. 🙂

      I still didn’t really get to the POINT of my articles which is how I’ve now classified and qualified projects that are suggested to me. There was (probably still is more) a lot of background information that went into the decisions, so it would have been less-than-thorough to get into the hierarchy without background information on how I came to those decisions.

      There’s also been a funny side-effect of my utilizing my new style. The people that don’t really have actual business are self-correcting or weeding themselves out.

      It’s weird. It’s like being on the subway. When I’m on the subway, I never give people room. If you give people room, they’ll take it… and THEN they’ll lean on you when someone else pushes them, instead of holding their own position. So it’s not worth it to give them any space at all. Let them push you where you were originally standing. It’s the same result as far as they’re concerned, except that *YOU* are still comfortable while they’re all squished up. 🙂

      By properly prioritizing people’s projects (tongue-twister? haha) it keeps my time clear for the important stuff and I relegate what we would have called in our discussion @ Jeff’s “work for friends” to Dante’s Lower Rings where they belong. 😀

      Thanks for the comment. Cheers! 😀

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