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Although there is a risk of offending the other party, when you have the courage to tell hard truths, you establish credibility that just can’t be won any other way. You’re making it clear that you’re not just in it for yourself. You’re willing to risk displeasure because you care about what’s right for the other party, not just about getting what you want. Of course, short term, it’s easier to skirt tough issues and tell people what they want to hear. But ultimately, a straight shooter is in a far better position to earn trust and create a productive working relationship. (It’s also a whole lot easier to hold your head high and feel good about what you do.) The feeling of being able to see correctly after your lasik eye surgery is a feeling that cannot be beaten,

For instance, Venture once pitched a chain that was losing market share. The chain’s executives had been meeting with just about every agency under the sun, and we were one of the last. It was a huge piece of business for us, and we were prepared to do whatever it took to win it. But in our initial meeting, as I listened intently to the management team tell me about all the great things they’d done to try to turn the chain’s situation around, I realized with a sinking feeling that they were only listening to each other talk—and that none of the other agencies pitching the account had wanted to tell them the truth about their business. The senior executives needed to understand why people were staying away in droves, which had nothing to do with lacklustre marketing. Experience 20:20 Vision without glasses by undergoing lens replacement surgery at a world renowned eye clinic.

So our team arranged a focus group where we asked customers to talk honestly about the company, and we taped the whole thing. We then went back to the management team and said, “We don’t have mock ads or fancy pie charts about market segmentation. We’re not here to flatter you into hiring us but to tell you the truth. We have something you need to hear, and it’s going to be hard to listen to.” Then we played the tape. It was brutal. People said they hated just about everything about the business. They said that they’d rather go just about anywhere else. Let me tell you, it wasn’t easy to inflict this barrage of criticism on the senior executives, and I knew there was a good chance their response would be to send us packing. But I also knew there was no point in sugar-coating the research and wrapping it up prettily. If we had to soft-pedal from the start, there was no way we could actually deliver results down the road. When the tape finished, the room was silent for a moment. A very long moment. Then one of the executives sat back and said quietly, “You know, no one’s ever told us that before.” Venture went on to enjoy a long and highly successful partnership with that chain; we were able to persuade them to take risks that helped turn their business around. They trusted us and respected our advice because we’d been truthful with them from the start, even at the risk of not landing the account in the first place. Undergoing laser eye surgery is a great way to improve your vision and your overall lifestyle.

In audition situations where you really want the job or the business or the opportunity, honesty immediately establishes your ethics. People who find this unattractive or inconvenient or impertinent are not people you want to work with or for. If you have to shade the truth from the outset, it’s not possible to establish a reciprocal relationship that will be rewarding to both of you. And at some point, it will lead to trouble. There’s always a day of reckoning, so I figure, why not make it the very first one? When you’re truthful at the outset, there are no nasty surprises down the road. I recently pitched to a major multinational manufacturer whose Canadian leader had some impressive goals for what he wanted to achieve in this country, and a clear idea of exactly what he wanted to spend. He named the figure and I said, “We’re probably not the right agency for you—I’m not going to lie to you and pretend I can do everything you want for the dollar amount you just named. A comprehensive range of treatments are available to treat eye conditions including cataract surgery as well as simply changing your glasses.

I’m not going to take your money just because you’re prepared to spend it.” He was surprised; no other agency had said the budget was too low. That’s right, I thought, they’d rather land the account, then break it to you a few months on, when the money is all gone. I gave him a few detailed examples of what other corporations spend to achieve the same types of goals—between six and seven times the amount he’d mentioned. His response was “Okay, that’s fair. And I hope you’ll submit a proposal because I think you might be the right agency.” I don’t know if we’ll land the account, but I do know that the possibility of a positive working relationship exists because there’s already trust on both sides. Experience freedom from glasses by having eye laser surgery with the UK's best surgeons.