Dog day afternoon

Jan 11, 2018

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I was bitten by a dog this week.

Not seriously and, given the circumstances, I don’t expect to be foaming at the mouth anytime soon.

And, in the dog’s defense, it was mostly my fault.

I was visiting my client Paul at his office Monday afternoon. As we were exchanging greetings, I was happily surprised to see a smallish, black dog stroll by.

I’m a big fan of clothing-free workspaces and so I leaned over to scratch him (the dog, not Paul).

He seemed to like it, so I did what I always do with my dog: I put my face right up to his while scratching him behind both ears.

In hindsight, pretty dumb with a dog I didn’t know. But still fine.

In fact it wasn’t until about ten minutes later, when the dog walked through our meeting and I put my hand out, that he nipped my arm.

Nothing terrible, but enough to leave a couple of marks, right through my heavy sweater.

That’s when the obvious finally dawned on me: Not all dogs are the same.

My dog Abbie, for example, is not the least bit aggressive.

You can pull on her ears; play tug of war with her favorite toy; insert your favorite child and/or body part in her mouth, and she will make no move to harm you.

And so over the past 10+ years of living with Abbie, I’ve literally let my guard down around all dogs, resulting in Monday’s incident. (Note to Paul: You will be hearing from my attorney.)

One bright spot, though: It woke me up regarding my business.

Here’s what I mean…

Over the past 15 years working as a solo, I’ve come to do things a certain way.

I have a consistent approach to the way I write proposals, organize my web site, market my products, invoice my clients, package my services, publish my newsletter, etc.… most of which haven’t changed – or even been thought about – for years.
There’s some efficiency in this, of course; you’ll never get anything done if you have to reinvent everything, every day.

But, like a man who’s come to treat every dog the same – regardless of size, type or circumstance – there’s a cost to the “that’s the way we do it around here” tunnel vision that I’ve developed.

It means I overlook potential improvements; ignore new opportunities; and continue to do things that, while they may have once made perfect sense, no longer do.

And that’s why I’ve decided that I will no longer bite visitors to my office.

Not only that, I will focus on reinventing the way I do business, with a particular emphasis on breaking old patterns and seeking new, previously ignored, opportunities.

I expect to get more done, earn more money and increase my overall work satisfaction. I’m kind of looking forward to my new adventure too.

Michael Katz is a Boston-based marketing consultant and founder of Blue Penguin Development. He specializes in helping professional service firms stand out from the pack by positioning them as Likeable Experts. Get a free copy of his report, "The Professional Service Provider's Essential Reading List - 11 Recommended Business(ish) Books," here: