Echo chambers and LinkedIn police

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Lewis Kemp is the CEO of Lightbulb Media, a Manchester-based digital agency that provides flexible, affordable, and bullshit-free marketing to businesses across the UK.

Biggest fuck up?

My biggest fuck up was growing up thinking that being older or being in senior management meant that you knew what you were talking about.

I remember working in marketing jobs in my early 20s and listening to these sociopathic cock ends spouting absolute drivel and being absolutely terrified to put my hand up to correct them. Truth be told, some of the most out-of-touch people I’ve met in business have been in the boardroom.

I think that’s had a massive effect on how we operate now as a business. I know this is hard for some people to grasp, but the customer is not always right. If something’s shit, we’re going to tell you. Because if we try it your way and it doesn’t work, then WE look bad. And I’m not taking the fall for you being unable to accept criticism.

That said, I also expect it the opposite way from both clients and the team. Living in an echo chamber of positivity just leads to you becoming a colossal and disillusioned bellend, so I think it’s important to get rid of all the usual business schmoozing and just have open and honest conversations to get the best results. You won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s totally fine.

Rant

Many, many things. I’ll do my top three.

1. The “we’ve always done it this way” brigade

They call you up asking for help and then proceed to tell you how they want you to do the exact same thing they’ve been doing for the last 5 years with no success. The very definition of insanity. They’re usually the people that like to micromanage their team within an inch of their lives and think that maternity leave is a “work perk”.

2. The sudden explosion of coaches for every topic under the sun.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some talented people out there doing great work. But there’s also a bunch of con artists that essentially target vulnerable middle-aged men and women, usually with empty nest syndrome and looking to “pivot” into something new (usually also coaching) to earn a passive income/gain back control of their lives, etc. etc.

I just find it completely unethical, and I think it completely muddies the water for the genuinely qualified people out there. There’s usually no accountability, either. “Oh, it didn’t work? You must not have applied it right. Here’s a made-up testimonial that I got from my mate to validate how good I am”.

Get in the bin.

3. The LinkedIn police

Everyone knows who they are. Karen thinks swearing is unprofessional yet hasn’t had a new client in over a year, despite spread-eagling herself across “Open To Connect” posts and engaging in regular positivity circle-jerking with her pod friends. Neil works in asset finance, wears a suit and tie to bed, and thinks the gender pay gap is a myth started by those damned bloody feminists. If someone wants to tell a joke, post a video with their kids, or talk about something that’s NOT work *gasp*, then what the fuck has it got to do with you. If you don’t like it, just move on.

Useful advice 

Stop trying to be liked by everybody.

Attracting the right clients and partners to you is important, but it’s equally vital to scare away the ones that don’t meet your criteria. It’s so important to do this before you get to the meeting stage. How many times have you sat down opposite someone, and within 5 mins, you just know they’re not the right fit for you? But you still stay for an extra 40 minutes, pay the £6.50 for the large fucking macchiato they just ordered, and then spend the day catching up on all the stuff you missed whilst making pointless small talk.

Your time is incredibly valuable, so make sure you’ve got a solid pre-vetting process in place. Whether that’s via the content you put out on your social media/website or even just a 5-minute chat on the phone to get a grasp of what that meeting would achieve that can’t be done over the phone. If you’re naturally shy or worried about offending people, it’s much easier to leave a phone call than it is to stand up and leave a meeting.

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