The Frienemy Market

You can’t do great work if you’re being pulled down.

Photo by    Cameron Clark

Photo by Cameron Clark

In my travels as a speaker and wedding business consultant, I've found that local wedding markets can be described in one of two ways:

  1. A market where some groups of wedding pros are truly friends with each other, seek to collaborate, and let the other groups live and let live

  2. A frienemy market

A frienemy market is exactly what it sounds like: most of the wedding professionals pretend to like each other, but in actuality can't stand one another. "I love your idea!" they'll crow, with their fingers crossed behind their back. They never share real ideas for fear that you'll steal them, even if you've never stolen anything in your life. They'll dismiss your accomplishments as no big deal, even if they are a very big deal and will try to guilt-trip you into thinking that you shouldn't be so proud of whatever it is you may be celebrating.

As a professional speaker, it's pretty easy to tell which markets are which. During the conference cocktail hour in both types of markets everyone is best friends, posing for Instagram, and making small talk about each other's kids. During the Q+A sessions however, people in a frienemy market will ask very few questions but deluge the speaker with questions via email afterward. When other speakers and I exchange notes, the markets this happens in are always the same.

It's also worth noting that the markets with the least creative ideas, the least innovation, who harp the most about the “good old days” – but who also have the most ego – are frienemy markets.

Frienemy markets produce mediocrity. If you're in a market like this, develop some Teflon-like skin and do whatever you can to not get sucked into the trap. You can't do great work if you're being pulled back down with every decision you make.

Originally published July 2012

Creating A Loyal Team

People want to be valued, heard, and accepted. We all know that this is the core of what a brand should focus on when it comes to connecting with consumers.  

We also need to apply it to the people we work with — both to employees in our office and to colleagues we collaborate with — and to ourselves. 

If all your attention is going to keeping the squeaky wheel happy, the people who show up and deliver for you without demanding extra recognition or VIP treatment will leave. 

This is especially true for millennials (the generation born between 1979-2000, so any adult currently 39 or younger). Contrary to popular belief, millennials don't need extra special treatment, but because they were raised in a school system that in the early 1980's switched to prioritizing group work and all-in collaboration over independent study, they do need to feel heard.

Millennials will rarely tolerate being overlooked because of high-maintenance colleagues. If you aren't actively showing them that you value what they bring to the table, this group — who were also repeatedly taught never to settle or waste their life — will find a table that's more welcoming to true team players. 

Claiming that "no one is loyal anymore" is a lazy way of excusing your role in the matter. If a millennial stops trying to help you improve your company, it's because they've lost respect for you and feel they're now wasting their time. Loyalty is bred out of respect and that respect starts at the top. Respect yourself and others will respect you — and they'll stick around.

Originally published August 2016

What Collaborating With Passionate People Requires

Passionate people — people who want to see the world changed into a better place for themselves, their children and for others — often don't fit the status quo. Because of this, passionate people are often misunderstood. They're often accused of having malicious or self-serving ulterior motives when in reality there are none. 

Surrounding yourself with passionate people means you will have to work harder on your relationships. It means taking the time to understand what drives them. It means asking better questions. It means less assuming and deeper listening on your part.

This investment of time and energy is worth it.

Originally published June 2014