Note: This post contains copious amounts of F-bombs, so if you are easily offended, STOP READING NOW and maybe grow a thicker skin; it will also help you in running an event business … or any other business, for that matter.
Say this with me … “I don’t give a fuck.”
Repeat … “I don’t give a fuck.”
Again … “I don’t give a fuck.”
Okay, now that we’re in the right frame of mind, I want to tell you why these five simple words can give you clarity and help you focus on the things that really matter.
This five-word phrase has become my mantra for anything not critical to running my event business or serving my customers. It sounds a bit extreme, but it should be, because it stops me from second-guessing myself and worrying about bullshit that’s beyond my control.
“I don’t give a fuck” is firm. It’s definitive. It’s brash. It’s severe. And it immediately turns your focus away from distractions and keeps your attention on more important matters. It’s like a light-switch, of sorts. Or a reset button for your brain. And, believe me, it works, even if you are just saying it to yourself (although it’s fun to say it out loud every once in a while, just to hear it ring).
Basically, “I don’t give a fuck” is necessary to keep you from going down unproductive, inconsequential rabbit holes.
But first things first … in order to say this with certainty and authority, in order for this phrase to work its magical power for you, you first must determine what you do give a fuck about.
For example, I have found there are certain things in running our event management software business that are critical to our survival and growth. They include:
- Providing the best support we can to each one of our customers.
- Making improvements to our event software that benefit the wide majority of our customers.
- Fixing any and all bugs or errors in the system.
- Generating new revenue streams based on customer/market needs.
- Reaching out to prospects using ethical, positive, consistent methods.
And each one of these main priorities that I give a fuck about includes its own short sublist. So for example, the category “Making improvements to our event software” includes giving a fuck about:
- Encouraging and collecting feedback from customers.
- Identifying recurring requests.
- Keeping tabs on competitors and their offerings (because you should always know what your competitors are doing).
- Assessing whether we can (technology decision) and should (business decision) add a heavily requested feature.
- Building new features so they seamlessly integrate into our software and don’t complicate the experience.
Do you give a fuck about being more productive and responsive to your prospects and clients? Well we do too, and our more than 2 dozen online tools will help any event professional stay focused and use their time more efficiently.
So where does the buck stop and I start saying “I don’t give a fuck”? Here’s an example…
I am browsing around the Interwebs one day and see a new competitor that has some features we do have and some we don’t have. I look at their offerings and make a note of them (along with items of interest to keep tabs on) in my “Competitor” spreadsheet. Then I tell myself “Now I don’t give a fuck” and move on.
You see, a natural reaction is to see what a competitor is doing, panic when you see that they have some features or services that you don’t offer and then have your team scramble to add these new features quickly. But the way I look at this is that these kneejerk reactions would be a waste of our valuable business resources (more on this in a moment) and would not align with our business objectives, which are to collect data and feedback from our users and only build a new feature when there is critical mass behind it and when it will contribute to our growth (either through customer retention or a new revenue stream).
So basically, I don’t give a fuck what a competitor is doing until I see they are providing tools that our customers have asked for; that would align with our business objectives; and that would drive more revenues.
(As a side note, I have found that constant “competitor watching” is a real waste of time and energy. Keep an eye on them but don’t let what they do dictate what your goals are. You are better served focusing your energy on serving your customers and following your vision … not always keeping up with your competition.)
Back to business resources … The reason you shouldn’t give a fuck about such ephemeral things is that, regardless of the size of the business, you have limited resources to accomplish your business goals. Even big companies (think Google and Wal-Mart) prioritize their efforts based on business objectives, and most of us run event businesses exponentially smaller than this. So we cannot afford to give a fuck about everything. In fact, we can only afford to give a fuck about strategically selected and prioritized things that drive the bottom line.
“I don’t give a fuck” brings you back to your priorities and allows you to allocate time and resources appropriately.
This scenario also brings up another good point about not giving a fuck … you shouldn’t give a fuck about something until you need to give a fuck about it.
Here’s a hypothetical situation. Say you’re an event venue. You have a particular client that has emphatically requested a podium for their small meeting. But until that moment, you had no such requests from other clients, and you don’t have a podium on hand. So you tell the client you do not currently offer this option but would be happy to refer them to a rental company that can provide this to them, or you call one of your rental companies and arrange for the rental yourself and add it to your client’s bill. You treated them with fairness and honesty and provided a solution to the problem, and after that you didn’t give a fuck … and it was the right decision at the time.
But suddenly, more clients start asking for podiums … it’s all podiums, podiums, podiums for some reason. Now is when you should start giving a fuck and seriously investigate whether you should make this a product offering. In the end, you may decide it’s not worth it and farm this out to your rental company partners, but you gave a fuck when it was appropriate, made the decision and moved on.
Honestly, one of the best things about not giving a fuck is that it liberates you from worrying about stuff that’s out of your control or that’s simply beyond the scope of your business. Without all that stuff weighing on your mind, you can move ahead with a clear conscience and not feel one bit bad about not giving a fuck about certain things.
So, to recap…
- Identify the critical business items/goals you should give a fuck about.
- Do your damnedest to accomplish these items/goals.
- Say “I don’t give a fuck” to everything else that would distract you from these goals.
Pretty simple in theory, but at first difficult in practice. However, it gets easier the more you do it and say it. And here are even more strategies for not giving a fuck.
Who knew something so direct and profane could be so freeing and inspiring.