Category: Life


I thought the client that sent me a short email to tell me I’m fired after 20 plus years was a little ungrateful (read that story here), but today I received this email:

“We moved to <new system> back in October, but may need a little help yet with the event coming up next month”

So not only did this client of 20 plus years fire me, they didn’t even bother to tell me.

Granted, it’s business. They don’t owe anything. They’re not required to do anything.

And, I provide the level of service I do because that’s how I want to run my business – not because of client demands or because I want their praise, but for my own personal reasons.

But, damn, that’s cold and it hurts.

Are you trying to keep your rates low to help out your clients? Do you go above and beyond providing quality service & support? In short, do you think your clients appreciate you? Don’t be so sure.

Update 2/13/18: So of course I get the call. The new programmer has been working for 3 months and can’t quite get this registration system working. Could I maybe, pretty please, get the website they said they no longer wanted working again, update it to all the new information, and make it live for them? By Friday.

I desperately wanted to tell them to take a hike, but I am a fool like to provide great service so I agreed. I did charge them a $500 “rush job” fee though.




Since the beginning of the year I’ve been doing a bit of meditation with

I’ve got what is probably a typical programmer brain – excessively literal, maniacally analytical, obsessively procedural, and more than a bit anal. It’s a great brain for programming, dealing with computers, and just Getting Shit Done. It’s not always the best brain for working with people. Sometimes when it gets rolling on it’s track, it can be difficult to stop that train. Sometimes it jumps the tracks and careens all about the place.

I’m finding the meditation to be really helpful with that. Actually doing the meditation provides a nice sense of calmness that sticks with me through the day. It’s been really helpful with dealing with resistance that pops up in daily life and letting that occur rather than fighting it. It’s been a big help in corralling run-away brain so I can get to sleep at night.

All in all, I’m a bit surprised how much I like it.

(Hi, Todd’s brain here. I firmly reject any trace of New Age hooey-ism, but this stuff is OK.)

Don’t Be Dumb – UPS Version

I’m having some wine delivered and in our state you have to be here to sign for wine. Even though I’m here 90% of the time, I’ve managed to miss the first two deliveries from UPS.

Really wanting my wine, I signed up for MyUPS which gives you info on your shipment. UPS emails me and says that my final attempt at delivery will be Monday between 1PM – 5PM. A four hour window seems pretty dumb in 2015, but OK, I can live with it. I go do my grocery shopping in the morning so I’m sure to be here. UPS shows up at 10:30 AM and I miss the final delivery. 

It’s 2015. We have computers, GPS, and cellular networks. It would seem pretty easy for UPS to provide a website to update you on every step your package took – Left the warehouse, you’re the 13th stop for the day, the truck is currently at X, two more stops before your delivery, estimated time of delivery, etc.

Let’s think about how inefficient this process is:

  • They have to attempt delivery 3 times. If they give me the info, they would only have to deliver once.
  • My package is now being stored in a warehouse for five days for me to pick up. It’s 45 minutes away, I’m not going to go get it.
  • After five days, this 40lb box will be flown back across the country to the shipper who will then have to deal with it.

It blows my mind how dumb some companies can be. Don’t Be Dumb.

Dumb is one thing. Poor customer service is another. Here’s what I got when I called UPS customer service on this issue:

  • Customer service rep couldn’t answer my simple question. Put on hold for 10 minutes while they tried to get an answer. Have to take my info and have someone else call me back.
  • Gal that calls me back blames me for all of this saying “I don’t know why you’d expect delivery between 1-5”. Because your email told me so.
  • Gal tells me that the 1-5 PM is only an estimate, we only guarantee by end of day. Then why tell me 1-5 at all? Why have me change my schedule for something you can’t do?
  • When asked if she can understand my frustration, she says “No, we’re busy this time of year. That’s all we can do.” When a customer asks if you understand, say “Yes”. You may well be lying, but the correct answer is always Yes. 
  • The solution she gives me is that she’ll contact the truck and they might attempt one more delivery tomorrow.
    “Might,” I ask?
    “Yes, might, I don’t know if they will or not.”
    So now I have to sit around all day on the off chance that they might deliver the package one more time.
  • Not being satisfied with a “might” answer, I try to get something more concrete from here. Will you call me back? Will MyUPS be updated? No is the answer to all of those questions, at which point she hangs up on me.

Dumb I’ve learned to live with. Dumb and don’t give a shit? That’s when you lose my business.

Update 12/30/15: I end up close to the customer service center so I stop in to pick it up. After waiting 20 minutes for the two customer service reps to service 4 people, I make it to the front of the line.

The customer service lady asks for my tracking number, which I don’t have. She gives me a lecture that I absolutely must have the tracking number every time I come in. She of course looks up the package on the computer by my name in 10 seconds. Not feeling particularly snarky,  I don’t point out to her that the tracking number isn’t really necessary now is it?

“Here it is,” she proclaims, “please take a seat and we’ll bring it out in about an hour.” I leave.

Call the shipper. They call UPS and arrange for one more delivery attempt. I rearrange my day so that I’ll be here. I get a email from UPS on that day now saying that the package is “lost”.

A week goes by. I get a notice from UPS that they attempted delivery again and I wasn’t here – no notice that they were going to do this even though I’ve signed up for their service. There’s no notice on the door and the time they say they say they attempted it, I was here. So this is a lie.






Giving Rather than Getting

I’m one of those annoying people that really doesn’t have a lot of wants. When I do have something I want, I just go buy it. That makes it hard for family & friends to buy me gifts. Doubly hard since my birthday and Christmas are in the same month.

To prevent those family & friends from pestering me to invent something they can go buy that I don’t really want, I do a fundraiser each year. When folks ask me for gift ideas, I just point them there. It works pretty well (other than my wife who wants to “surprise” me). Wrapping up a charity with my birthday makes writing the check to the charity feel a little nicer.

I also try to pull my clients in on this. Cynics might say that I’m trying to let me clients know I’m a good guy. Optimists might say that I’m bringing charity into all aspects of my life. Take your pick.

Here’s some ideas on offers you can make to your clients to get them to donate to your fundraiser:

  • Offer a discount on your hourly rate. If you charge $X/hour, offer them $Y/hour with a $Z donation. Z must be greater than Y.
  • Offer free karma. For every $X dollars donated, give your client a free hour of support if they need it in the next Y months. Maybe you’ll have to pay, maybe you won’t.
  • If you sell a product, offer $X off the price for a $Y donation. X must be greater than Y.
  • If you sell a product, offer to do an enhancement or new feature if $X dollars is raised.

If you’re interested, my fundraiser this year is