In business and in life we need to know what confidence is, what it isn’t and how to develop it. If I could hand down one nugget of wisdom to everyone who is self-employed, it would be that…
clients want to know that you will solve their problem, and not just solve it, but crush it!
When I started out in my musical journey I made a huge mistake almost every time I dealt with a client or met a new a client. I would limp in to what I did, what I offered, and often planted a seed of doubt in their head before we even got started.
When I would meet someone, I would tell them that I “try to master, or I am trying to mix, or that I want to produce" etc… This implies that I am not doing it and that I am not the thing I wish to be. This is a terrible way to present yourself.
Once I began to cut the fluff, and present myself as the thing I wanted to do, I saw growth instantly. One of the biggest moments that still sticks out in my head is when I met an artist years ago for the first time at a bar. He was describing his album, and it sounded awesome. Before I knew it, I blurted out, “I want to master it” followed by something like “Yea, let me master it, I would do an awesome job”. Now it may have been the three drinks talking, but I noticed a change in his response. He said “Sure, you can master it!”.
It was like a Jedi moment.
We still work together and he still talks about how unique that was.
Rarely does anyone go up to the client or person they want to work with and actually tell them, “I want to do this! Let me do this, I will knock it out of the park”.
After that night, I no longer limped into projects or clients. If I was a good fit, and that is key, I told them, “I want to do it and I am going to do a great job!”.
Now you may think, “This is cocky, ego driven, pride talk”, but it’s not when you solve a problem for a client and serve the client in the process.
We are in the service industry and people want to know things are going to get done. People at the high level don’t have time to waste. They need to know, that if you get the project, you will freaking crush that thing, on time and on budget. They don’t need, nor want to hear about how you may or may not be a good fit or how you may or may not be sure if you did a good job. They want to know that you’re stoked on it and it’s amazing!
You only get once chance to plant a seed with clients. You get to choose. Do you want to present yourself as the solution to their problem or do you want to present yourself as someone who might cause them more problems?
I’ve tested this theory with people I mentor, and as soon as they begin to cut the crap and focus on presenting what they offer at a professional rate they land more projects. There is value associated with confidence.
There is value associated with someone who doesn’t beg for work or say, “I hope I can work with you or it would be nice to be considered.” Those that go that route struggle to get clients because it’s too open ended. It gives the client a split second to think, “well do they want to work with me or not, are they the best fit or not?”.
This goes all the way to how you deliver files to clients. A lot of people approach file delivery with an open ended, “Here is the file, let me know what revisions you need or adjustments.” This implies that there are issues in the song you delivered. You have planted the seed that there needs to be revisions and adjustments.
The only thing that the client is going to be thinking about as soon as they hit play is, “What needs to be changed?”. Once I began to present my files in a way of confidence, I noticed less revisions and people were stoked already from the start.
This isn’t a game or tricking the client. Most of us care deeply about our work, what we send off we believe in, but we don’t have to put our work down or make the client think there are things to be changed.
Let them tell you what needs to be changed. Let them ask questions. I used to bring up issues with mixes when I would send back a master. The intention was good. I wanted them to get the best end product but it was based around needing to fix everything. Quick example, “Hey can you turn the kick drum down in the mix, it would get us a better end product”. Every time I did this sort of thing, the client would begin to question everything. It often would open the mix back up, and surprise, surprise, now were re-mixing the whole song, when in reality the kick drum was fine, they approved the mix, and I decided to open up a can of worms.
It’s my job as a mastering engineer to sign off on the project and say it’s ready for release. It’s also my job to honor the mix that everyone has approved of and slaved over. This doesn’t mean I am always passive, but over the years I have set my ego aside and laid down the burden to “fix” everything in the mix because it’s a moving target. If someone likes the mix, I should respect that, not force them to re-mix the song how I want to hear it. For those that are new to the industry this may seem lazy or not a great way to function, but it’s wisdom from mastering thousands of projects.
You get to keep things moving forward with confidence or you get to choose to move backwards and plant seeds of doubt.
For those that lack confidence, I often find that it’s because they truly don’t know who they are or what they are doing. This is normal. When you first start it’s hard to be confident because you think you need to have years of credits to your name, a Grammy, and a studio, to make any money and be able to claim “I am XYZ!” This then creates a person who needs to show off, name drop, and lie. I know this because I have witnessed it and also would find myself often exaggerating my actual reality in hopes of making people think I am worthy of working with.
The more someone tries to distract you from them and what they do, normally the more full of crap they are. They don’t want to be exposed, so they point you to “name drop” and lead you to “I am so busy” …
and then create these elaborate stories about how great they are and then the client often wonders…. “Wait why do they want to work with me, if they are so successful and busy?” The bull crap meter goes off and the client gets spooked.
Honesty and clarity is how you gain confidence.
When we are honest, we affirm who we are in actual reality. This makes us gain confidence. When we are clear about where we actually are at, it’s being true to reality and allows us to take on projects that are appropriate for where we are at.
Confidence comes from honesty. Confidence comes from accepting who you are, and acceptance that where you are at, is exactly where you need to be.
Name dropping, lying, showing off on Instagram leads you down a path of delusion. It paints a false picture to potential clients and leaves you as a split person at the end of the day. This is poison to confidence.
You will never work from a place of confidence if you’re always presenting a false reality.
We as humans can sniff it out pretty quickly. It’s built into us.
I want to encourage everyone that confidence comes from being yourself, accepting your lane, your path, and being honest about what you can and can’t do. It comes from trusting that the work you’re doing right now is exactly what you need to do to learn and grow.
The work is the reward. The process is the reward.
Making revisions, if they come up is accepted, and being honest if you need help or work is honorable. All these things lead to confidence and begin to create a person who will crush projects, execute time and time again, and if failure comes up, it is praised because it’s a chance to grow and expand the tool belt.
If there’s a client you want to work with that you’re a good fit for, plant that seed today. Tell them you want to work with them and you will do a great job. If there’s a project you’re sending off today, present it with confidence and let the client have space to respond.
Less is more.
We are often way more worried about things that clients never notice anyway. When you finish a project, send it off and know that whatever the result is, it’s all here to teach you something and build confidence.
Hit the heart button and share this blog with someone who needs it.