The year is now 2010 AD. Doing business in person is OVER. It’s completely unnecessary, as well as a waste of time and billable hours. Let me explain to you how things work now.
When you go to work, what do you do? You sit in your cubicle and you type on your computer. How do you interact with your coworkers? O_o Do you get up and walk over to where they’re sitting and start running your mouth? No. You don’t. You click on your instant messaging program, such as AIM, iChat, gTalk, whatever, and you type directly to them.
If they’re logged in, looking at their screen and interested in chatting with you, they’ll return your communication at their earliest convenience. If you can’t get to them that way, you send them an email. If you can’t get to them *that* way, you send them a voicemail.
The point is that the people that you’re in the same office with don’t actually need to be in that office with you. They COULD have been on a different floor and you could have communicated with them exactly as efficiently. They could have been in a different BUILDING and you could have had the same interactions. They could have been across town or in another city, state or COUNTRY and you could have interacted with them exactly as easily as you did with someone that currently shares your physical space.
When you’re working on your computer and you want to show somebody something, what do you do? Print it out? Wait by the printer for your pages to be served? Walk your pages over to where your coworker is sitting and discuss them? Welcome to 1990. Nice business you have.
No. You share information with your coworkers via computer. You share documents, images, audio files, videos… It doesn’t make any sense to create something on a computer and then take it offline to show it to someone that has an online connection. Plug this into the aforementioned business model and you can share files and concepts with people in another neighborhood, borough, city, state or country just as quickly as you can share files with someone that shares your physical space.
Another technological advance that you should be aware of and taking advantage of is video conferencing. With the press of a button on your end and a press of a button on your coworker or client’s end, you can video chat with them, f2f (face to face) as if they were sitting across a table from you. You can hear them. You can see them. They can see and hear you. You can send them files or images for their review. You can collaborate with each other in real-time on sites like Google Wave and drop.io. You can exchange large files directly or via Usendit or FTP servers.
You can also share your screen with whomever you’re chatting with. This comes in handy so that you don’t have to send anyone anything. You give them access to your screen and they watch as you bring up images or documents or even edit a video while they give their opinions remotely from their own office or wherever they happen to be.
If you’re both on Macs and using iChat, you can even utilize machine control to “take over” the other person’s computer. The other day, I used machine control to change some effects on a client’s Final Cut Pro project on their own computer while they sat there and watched. I didn’t need to go to their location. I didn’t need to even see them, as they shared the screen with me directly and we communicated via iChat audio.
In fact.. Since I work via computer, *most* of my clients, I don’t see at all. They either send me physical materials or I receive them via internet. I work on them and then either post the new version of the video to the internet and send them links so they and their coworkers & clients can review it or I open a screen-sharing window and play it down for them while we discuss it.
Time Is Money
The work I do is based on deadlines. If something’s due next Tuesday, I might very well put in 14 hours on it for two days in a row and knock it out. I also might put in 2 hours a day for 7 days in a row. This means that I can make money at any time of the day that I’m physically awake. It all comes down to when I’m in The Zone and I feel energetic and efficient about knocking projects out.
As a freelancer, any hour, half hour or quarter hour of the day is potentially billable time. I might wake up at 4am and put in 3 hours of work before the client even wakes up. I might be ready to go party at 7pm and get an emergency call for a last-minute revision from a client and end up putting in two billable hours calling up their project, making the changes, rendering and uploading the new version.
Work is done, invoices are sent, money is paid… ALL without any of us ever being in the same physical space. Not only is it unnecessary, but movement wastes billable hours, and Time is Money. There’s no reason for us to TRAVEL somewhere to have the exact same exchange of ideas we could have just as efficiently remotely.
The only exception to that is when I need to do an on-site supervised edit. There are times when it’s not efficient for the client to send me tons of footage and I need to go to their location to sit with producers to create the show.
In that case, travel can’t be avoided. In other circumstances, the clock starts and stops when I begin and end concentrating on your project. If we decide to video conference for 30 minutes, you’re billed for 30 minutes of time. If you’re calling me on the phone, you get billed for that time. If I’m reading and responding to your emails, you get billed for that time.
WHENEVER it is that I’m doing something for the benefit of your project, you’re getting charged for it. It’s in your best interest not to add preparation and travel time to that. If I have to break down equipment, pack it up, transport it and set it up at your location and then do the entire process in reverse when we’re done, all that goes into your budget.
Anything that falls outside of the categories of “What I feel like doing” and “What I’ve agreed to accept money to do” is most likely going to be completely ignored. I currently have 11,498 unread email messages and 2,388 unread Facebook messages. Unread.. As in I never clicked on them. (As a side note.. Some of my friends would have had WAY more unread emails than I do, except they declared email bankruptcy and created an “inbox zero” condition by deleting all the emails they knew they were never going to go back and deal with)
I have too many people asking me for too many things to concentrate on the vast majority of them for more than the time it takes me to read the name on the message and the subject, which is approximately 3 seconds (entirely without sarcastic exaggeration). If I can’t figure out why I should read your email from the title, I’m not going to waste my time reading it.
Spending even 20 seconds per email, reading 3 of them wastes a full minute. Reading 30 of them wastes 10 minutes. In yesterday’s 24-hour period, I received 189 emails. At 20 seconds per, reading all of them would have wasted more than a billable hour of my time yesterday. That’s not considering the time it would have taken to think about and reply to all of those.
There’s too much going on with my day for me to waste time reading emails. This is the same thing I said about Twitter more than a year ago as far as people that claim to follow tens of thousands of people. It’s absolutely impossible because that would mean they were spending every waking minute reading and/or replying to Twitter posts, but that’s a different article.
Other than scheduling work, I don’t make plans. There are two reasons for this. The first one is that I don’t know what I want to do until I want to do it. The second is that if I agreed to do something with you on XYZ day and then something different comes up ranging from doing work for a client to having drinks with my best girlfriends to being asleep, that’s what I’m going to do during that time that I told you I was going to meet you. In fact, I probably won’t even remember that I agreed to do whatever it was you wanted to do when the time arrives.
Everybody that actually knows me knows that I’m EXCELLENT at doing what I want to do and HORRIBLE at doing anything I don’t care about or don’t feel like doing. I can’t tell you today what I’m going to want to do three days from now. When that day arrives, I’m most likely NOT going to feel like doing whatever we talked about. I’d rather do something else or nothing at all.
For that reason, I don’t waste other people’s time making plans with them that I might veto at the last minute. I might have a new client or a new girlfriend before that time arrives and whatever you mentioned to me exited my mind a long time ago.
Welcome To 2010
There’s a new format of business & social interaction going on, whether you’re aware of it or not. There are people I communicate with every single day via computer or text messaging and we’ve been doing this for years. There are people I do business with entirely efficiently & professionally without ever having to go somewhere to physically be in their presence.
The ability to multitask and switch gears on the fly when I feel my attention shift from one zone to another is what makes my days four times as productive as most people. I stay on my grind twice as long and achieve twice as much during each hour I focus on something.
Much of my efficiency is derived from NOT wasting time all day. I don’t waste time traveling places. I don’t waste time meeting with people in person when we could do it on the phone or via video conferencing. I don’t waste time doing things that I don’t want to do. I stay in my zone and when my focus switches, I apply myself to whatever the best current use of my time is. I don’t waste billable hours reading and answering random or irrelevant email.
I party hard and do my best to enjoy my friends to the fullest. I stay in touch with people in England, Japan, Israel, Hawaii, Texas, California and lots of other places around the globe on a weekly basis. The time of being limited to your current geographical region is OVER. We now have world-wide opportunities to do business with and socialize with anyone with whom we share ideas and/or ideals.
There’s too much to be done with our days to waste time on old business models of sitting down for drinks or traveling to conferences in other states or countries. Create and maintain your online presence. Stay in touch with current friends and meet new ones via Social Media. Propagate your business & social brands. Reduce the amount of time you waste every day and increase your efficiency.
Get with the program. Recognize the opportunities available to you TODAY. Work smarter, not harder. Open your mind and realize your true potential. Your friends & clients aren’t just down the street from you.. They’re EVERYWHERE now.
Welcome to the new world, Neo.