6 Business Tips for Millennials (and anyone who needs a refresher course in how the world really works)

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I get that if you haven’t been alive very long you may not yet possess the necessary business acumen to dominate in the business world. Trouble is, I meet a lot of people, young and those who should know better, who confuse bluster, bravado and bullshit with business acumen. Darlings, it is not the same.

While nothing compensates for hard work, there are a few things in addition to breaking a sweat that will ensure your success.

1.  Be nice to the client.

Client, n. a customer.

If you perform a task for which someone pays you, even though in every other conceivable way you imagine yourself to be an equal, in this particular case, where she is the one who pays and you are the one who does the work, you are not equals. She is the customer, the boss, the big cheese—the most holy one, never to be insulted, disregarded, talked down to, irritated, made to wait, or god forbid, told she is wrong, even, and especially if, she is wrong.

There are hieroglyphics in a cave in what was once Mesopotamia that archeologists tell us depict the words “the customer is always right” through imaginative rendering of stick people with wheat bundles on their heads and a fat Babylonian in a suit, smoking a cigar.

2. Be nice to the client even if he is an asshat.

“When do I get to tell a client he’s an asshat?” you whine. Well, when you’re at the very top of the food chain and there is no one above you who can do you harm, for example…

I’m thinking…

I got nothing. Even Bill Gates has to answer to consumers and shareholders, and the Pope has someone lording over him (see what I did there?).

No. Wait! Bob Dylan. If you are Bob Dylan you may call out an asshat any time you want, anywhere you like.

3. Make the client happy.

So you’ve got a client. Lucky you! You’ve been nice to him, now what? You must keep the client, and making him happy does this. I see you ramping up to a good pouty pout, but I am here to tell you that clients are not a dime a dozen (unless you are the inventor of the Chia pet, a physician or a coroner, in which case the clients are pretty easy going).

How do you make the client happy, aside from being nice to her? Be courteous, punctual, do good work and employ high standards of hygiene. Nothing gets in the way of customer satisfaction like stink mouth or the smell of onions and meat emanating from the region of your armpits or feet.

4. Listen to what the client tells you.

When a customer tells you she does not want the cheese in the Loaded Veggie Omelet, please do not stare open mawed like she is metamorphosing into a lizardperson right before your very eyes, and squawk, “For reeeeeeeal? No cheeeeeeeze?” Assured the desire not to have cheese is in fact, for real, do not then bring a Loaded Veggie Omelet Hold the Cheese to said client, absolutely oozing with Swiss cheese, then hiss like an ostrich when she sends the fucking omelet back.

We all get distracted, but nothing says, “I don’t give a crap about you, you asshat client” like hissing, rolling of the eyes, various statements of disgruntlement, such as “whatever,” “ugh” and “I shoulda spit in your food,” said under the breath, yet loudly enough for the customer to hear, and then expect the customer to leave a tip. Like, for real, beeeeeeeeeeeach? 

The Listen Rule applies to businesses across the board. No one wants a lap band when they asked for a lap dance, and vice verse.

5. Please for the love of all that is good in the world do not be a know-it-all.

Operate on the slim chance that the person who is the client/customer/payer of the bills, just might possibly know something that you, the person whom the client is paying, does not.

When you take the bullet train to Smartypantsville, all high and mighty and sure of yourself, you’ve invited the powers of the universe to focus the laser beam of humility on your head, and there is a very good chance you will become Asshat of the Century. It will be another 84 years before you can pass that baton, so you might think about it before going Kanye-on-Ellen in an attempt to school a client.

6. Respect the client.

When you get old, like, over 30, you might find yourself with a client who is younger than you. Resist the urge to treat him like a subordinate, or worse yet, a buddy, a pal, bro, bae or boo, and especially not “sonny,” “lil shaver,” “Shirley Temple,” or “Dutch.” You don’t have to call him sir, or her Ms., but they have elected to spend their money with you when they could have spent it elsewhere, and that deserves some manners, brahski.

Other ways to respect a client include but are not limited to hitting spellcheck before hitting send, keeping your phone pantsed during meetings, taking the gum out of your mouth, keeping your feet off the furniture and not commenting on the hotness of a client’s son or daughter should you glimpse extreme hotness in a nice silver frame on the client’s desk. It is equally bad form respect-wise to ask whether the client’s assistant is single, and might consider Netflix and chill Tuesday night.

If you find these tips helpful, let me know. I’ve got lots more to share!


Check out David Clark’s fascinating interview with Pam Ferderbar on the Different Strokes for Different Folks show.


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