FAQs: Have you ever been fired from a job?

(Office image via Madgerly)

Yes, unfortunately more than once.

The good news is that as my company grew and we gained better experience, it happened less and less.

One of the issues of taking on new design challenges is just this: at times, no matter what you do, you are not going to make your clients happy.

This, for me, was a very humbling realization.

I always thought that once I paid great attention to my clients, I’d be able to design exactly what they want and more. WRONG.

Years ago, when I was first fired, I was devastated. My client wanted to re-create a French garden with very simple lines.

Of course, my idea of a French garden was nothing but dramatic and this was where I went wrong. She was actually quite nasty about it. She managed to successfully push all my insecure buttons of not being educated enough to know what a French garden should look like.

Well, to this dear client, I say thank you. Since then, “French gardens” have been a great source of inspiration in many of my events.

I have learned to be aware of my egotistical “beast” in thinking that I can design for everyone. It’s completely unrealistic to think we are right for all clients. In my experience, thinking this way has always cost me sleepless nights and money.

Have you ever been let go from a job? Why? Have you ever had the gut feeling that a client is not right for you? What about the client gives you this alarm?

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  • http://exquisite-weddings.com Alexandra Jusino

    We have all been fired from a job. To say that you haven’t would be to straight out lie. I can honestly say I always open the door for my clients and let them walk thru so we can all walk away on a positive note. Most of the time that little voice in the back of our heads tells us from the start this is not a good fit. I’ve learned thru the years to listen to that voice and go with it. No matter how enticing or alluring the event can be. It is best to just walk away.

  • http://prizmatikinteriors.com Jonathan bates

    In my field as a Design Consultant for Interiors, quite a bit of interaction with the client is required. The wrong fit can exasperate the process, if not shut it down. For that reason, I’m always interviewing the client as they are interviewing me to determine if we’ll work well together. Up to now, for the most part, I’ve been successful. However, I’ve had some close calls that became “clear” to me prior to moving forward.

    I apply the saying, “When people show you who they are, believe them.” (Maya Angelou). It’s also important to pay attention to the nuances. So much is revealed through non-verbal communication. In the end, money can’t compensate for the inner turmoil and contention that comes from choosing to work with the “wrong” client. It’s just not worth it. In the end, we have to take off the “naive” shades (shades that help us to be eternally optimistic) so that we make sure that we see things as they are. At times, that equates to being “unworkable.”

  • http://YOURWEBSITE Sophia

    It was very comforting reading this blog post from someone as prestigious as you. If it can happen to someone like you then I realize it can happen to all of us. After all we are all human.
    95% of the time I am blessed with great clients but that 5% always makes me doubt myself. I tear myself up and self loathe. Although I know some people no matter what are unpleasing, I just can’t help but take it personal..
    I’ve walked away from a job once due to a difficult bride. It devastated me and I lost lots of sleep over that one. Looking back at it, I know it was the right thing to do.
    I’ve never been fired but I’m sure it can happen to me someday.
    Thank you for your honesty.

  • http://www.silverleafevent.com Navjot Kaur

    My learning lesson was when I drove six hours to the venue and without taking a break I kept working for more than 14 hours in a row. Due to lack of energy, I could not get the final touches right.
    My client was upset and I end up losing money. I do feel that it happened because I did not had a replacement for myself. It was a valuable lesson for the life time. Now, I always have one extra person.
    Each time you fail, you get back more than what you lost. It is important that one takes the disappointment in the same manner as we take pride in achievement.

  • http://www.debraflower.blogspot.com Debra Biagini

    Yes, on many occasions I have realized that a customer was not right for us. We are one of the MOST customer service designers in Italy. The local market is not used to Service and often they look at Customer Service as people who are slaves to their every whim. The second is the customer who really does not know the business but pretends to know it and is the expert at how to manage our business.

    While I listen to and appreciate advice…..I as the owner am the one accountable for the realizzation of our jobs.


  • http://teacupwedding.com/blog/ Paula

    When meeting a client and/or reviewing a job, and the client points out the many reasons why they no longer work with “this” particular person because they did “that” wrong, or “that” particular person because they did “this” wrong . . . and the list goes on . . . it is a blessing from the universe to be clued in to the fact that you will be next on their list if you take the job.

    In other words, some people are never satisfied, and as much as you would like to think that you will be able to work with them and have a good outcome, you can’t.
    Letting go of the client, as hard as it is to do at times based on the lure of the job or money, is actually healthier for you financially and emotionally, more so the latter.

    Sometimes you need to fire YOURSELF!

  • http://YOURWEBSITE Anonymous

    Thank you so much for this post! A few years ago, I was on my way to building a GREAT wedding planning business. I had such wonderful clients and things were going so well; however I allowed a couple of nightmare clients to stress me out to the point that I began second-guessing my skills and talent. All the signs were there to show my why I shouldn’t take on a particular client, but I didn’t listen to them. These unpleasant experiences made me not continue on with my business which I regret to this day.

    With all the lessons I’ve learned, I am considering the possibility of relaunching my business. This time I will definitely listen to those alarms and focus on what is best for my company and on whether or not me and a potential client are a good fit.

    Thanks to everyone for sharing your thoughts and advice!

  • http://www.blog.splendidaffairs.co.za Eve

    Hi Preston,

    This is a great topic! Thank you for sharing your experience.

    I agree, not every client is ‘YOUR’ client- there has to be a connection.

    This year, I had to give the money back to the client simply because it was not worth my sanity. When I saw this client’s wedding on a photographer’s blog I was glad, very glad I listened to my gut.

    It is best to part ways if things are not working out, and you are quite right… learn from experiences, ask yourself all the questions, answer yourself truthfully why the relationship failed but then move on and go ahead and create something amazing for a client who will appreciate your talent.

  • http://YOURWEBSITE Izzy

    I am guilty of thinking we are perfect choice for every client. It is true, people have different styles, different ideas… what I think is beautiful might not be what my client thinks it is exactly beautiful. It is just part of life and as a designer or an artist we just have to face that. It is good sometimes not to sacrifice your style or elegance in order to satisfy a client that has a different vision. It feels good to be able to make that decision and just walk away from the job.

  • http://YOURWEBSITE Gloria Brown

    WOW, Preston! You were so fortunate to be fired from the French Garden job because it pushed you to be who you are today!!! There is always a positive side to all negative situations.