Things I hate: People with Formulas

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Instead of doing a “how to be great in 2015” series, like many do, I decided I would do a “things I hate” series – a four parter that started yesterday:

Well, today we're on part two – Formulas.

People with Formulas

You know what I'm talking about:

  • Lose 50 lbs in three easy steps
  • Grow your coaching business to $1,000,000 in 2 months
  • Five steps to personal freedom

Let's be honest – if I figure out a simple formula that anyone can use, to do some amazing and incredible, am I really going to tell it to you for

  • signing up for my email list?
  • buying a $9.99 ebook?
  • coming to my free webinar?

Not a chance. I'm going to sell it. For cash. And lots of it.

And that assumes that a formula even exists.

Are there things that 40 different people, in different stages of their lives, can each do, and all get the same result? Yes.

You can all drive 100 mph on a road with a speed limit of 25, in front of a cop, and get a ticket (and maybe go to jail).

But that's not what we're talking about, right?

If it took you 5 years to gain 50 lbs, why do you think it will disappear in 3 simple steps? It's likely that it won't (unless the steps are eat less, eat better, and exercise more).

But I don't just hate the false promises in these formulas. I hate that there are people out there pitching them. Because it preys on people's hopes and last dreams.

Trust me, we all want to be thin, rich, and never have to work again. But the manual for that has a lot of stuff in it that we don't really like doing (or costs we don't like paying). So the folks out there promising that you can get rich quick annoy me, frustrate me, and bother me – all at the same time!

Don't do it!

Are you a freelancer? Don't show up with a formula!

I've got nothing against a set of principles that regularly work.

I've got nothing against hard work and consistency.

I've got nothing against your experience and how it might translate to your next client.

But please, oh please, don't boil it down to a three- or four-step formula that you promise to your clients will magically work.

On Clarity I regularly hear from business owners who have been sold on formulas and then experienced the harsh truth of reality.

Be people who help

I can't tell you the number of times I've said “it depends.” Because every situation is a little bit different. But that doesn't mean you can't have some strategies and tools ready for your clients.

Here's what I do:

  • I collect my own stories (of what's worked and what's failed)
  • I collect other's stories (and do research to get details)
  • I work on truths from these stories that others can leverage
  • I share these stories and takeaways with people

This lets them make their own decisions based on how they see themselves in these stories. And more importantly, it lets them pick which stories (and truths) ring true for them. Because each person and their situation is different.

I could tell you how I built up a company and sold it. But you likely couldn't do exactly the same, because there was a lot of nuance to my story.

You could tell me how you recently accomplished something amazing, but I likely couldn't repeat it – because I'm not you.

So collect the stories. Share the stories. Help people. But don't turn into the people who run around with a “proven formula” because there's the chance that your formula only works for you (because of who you are).

Let me end with quick illustration

Another simple way to think about things (at least for me) is to think about hair cuts. Sure, when my son goes to Supercuts, he sees the books filled with photos of people's cool hair styles. But his head and hair won't do what you see in most of those photos.

The job of the stylist is to help him get a look that works with his face, head and hair. Sure, it may take inspiration from a photo, but it's not a simple copy job. Because that doesn't work.

And if Supercuts can do it right, I'm sure you can too!

About Chris Lema

Chris Lema has been working with WordPress since 2005. Over the years he's been a blogger, a speaker at WordCamps, a coach for WordPress product companies, and the founder of the conference for WordPress business owners, called CaboPress. Today he's the VP of Products at Liquid Web, where he manages the world's first managed platform for WooCommerce stores.

Chris Lema

Chris Lema has been working with WordPress since 2005. Over the years he's been a blogger, a speaker at WordCamps, a coach for WordPress product companies, and the founder of the conference for WordPress business owners, called CaboPress. Today he's the VP of Products at Liquid Web, where he manages the world's first managed platform for WooCommerce stores.

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