I had a message from an Angry Stranger this morning. On my website, I invite prospective clients to book a free call with me to help us both decide if we are a good match to work together, and I ask them to fill out a small questionnaire first. I won’t name her just in case she didn’t use a false name in her form, but this is what Ms Angry Stranger felt moved to write to me, and this is my open response to her:
Dear Ms Angry Stranger
To recap your responses to my questionnaire:
1:What’s the biggest problem you have right now that you’d like me to help you solve?:
Who the heck are you? What are your qualifications? Apart from being born with a silver spoon in your mouth? I think you should be ashamed of yourself. I have no doubt in my mind, you are in the “have money” deserve to have more…off the backs of hard workers struggling. Working their arses off just to survive. And pay ridiculous sums of money to idiots like you instead. I actually feel quite ill. Dont be silly. I wouldnt waste money on a hussler like you.
2: Are you running an established, profitable business?: No
3: If you don’t own your own business, do you hold a senior position in your company?: No
4: Are you open-minded and willing to do things differently?: Yes
5: How committed are you to taking action to solve your challenges immediately?: 100%
6: How did you hear about me?: LinkedIn
Let’s look at the positives first: You’re open minded and willing to do things differently. You’re also 100% committed to taking action to solve her challenges right now.
However, there are a few misunderstandings I’d like to clear up. Let’s look at your comments and address them:
1: Who the heck are you? Hmmm. That’s a tough question to answer briefly. It depends on the context in which it’s asked, but in this instance, I’m Vicki LaBouchardiere and I’m an executive coach.
2: What are your qualifications? Excellent question for anyone looking to work with me. Maybe I didn’t make it clear on LinkedIn but I have a coaching diploma that took a year of study including a residential module where I worked face-to-face with a leading coach and her team. It wasn’t a $7 “Become a fully qualified coach in 7 hours online” type of qualification. I’ve also been running small businesses since my 20’s, and I’ve been a professional coach for 13 years which has given me an expert understanding of the mental and practical struggles of business owners.
3 Apart from being born with a silver spoon in your mouth? (I know it’s part of the previous sentence but it warrants its own response) Looks can be deceiving Ms Stranger. You couldn’t be further from the truth. My parents weren’t at all rich, they were hard-working business owners but they weren’t financially successful. They ran a pub, worked all hours of the day and night and rarely went on holiday. I was quite a difficult child to rear, and through no fault of theirs I was a single mother of two children by the time I was 17, and the financial situation became even harder. I’m very grateful they provided a roof over my head for me and my babies for a couple of years, but when I was 19 I was fortunate enough to to be offered a job by a family who could genuinely be described as in the Silver Spoon Brigade. They were English aristocrats and they gave me a job as a cleaner in return for accommodation in a cottage in the grounds of their mansion. They didn’t pay me very much on top of my rent and I had to rely on benefits to bring my income up to survival level. Did I feel hard done by? Not at all. I was overjoyed to have a home of my own. In my mind, I had made it! It didn’t even enter my mind that one bottle of champagne in their cellar cost more than my benefits for a year. I just felt very lucky they’d given me a job and a house to live in. Is that wrong? Perhaps. But it didn’t upset me, and it gave me motivation to earn nice things for myself one day. No harm done.
Interesting fact: The aristocrat I worked for was a lovely boss, and he always made time to talk to me and my children. He sadly took his own life when he was 46. Having money means jack shit if you aren’t happy – that’s something I talk to my clients about regularly.
4: I think you should be ashamed of yourself. Your uninformed opinion of me is none of my business.
5: I have no doubt in my mind, you are in the “have money” deserve to have more…off the backs of hard workers struggling. Working their arses off just to survive. I get your gist, Ms Stranger. You think I, and people like me, exploit hard working, poor people. I have yet to meet a business owner who delights in exploiting their employees. I’m sure such monsters exist, but they aren’t the majority. Most of the people I work with feel a huge sense of responsibility toward their teams and often feel guilty for buying nice things for themselves, or even taking holidays or days off when they are tired. Unlike their employees, they can’t shut off at the end of the day, and the pressure of running a business can destroy their personal relationships. There are also a very high number of business owners who go without paying themselves in order to pay their teams, but they knew that was part of the risk when they decided to work for themselves, and they’re probably deeply embarrassed about it so you rarely find them moaning about it in public.
I agree there is inequality in the world and we can all do our bit to help others in need, but attacking people who provide jobs is very shortsighted.
By the way, your sentence “I have no doubt in my mind…(about the sort of person I am) is a great example of how thoughts are often mistaken for facts. Seeing me on the internet has obviously sparked bad feelings for you, Ms Stranger, but that’s not because I’m a bad person.
6. And pay ridiculous sums of money to idiots like you instead. You have no idea how much I charge because we haven’t had our call yet, but my fees are only ridiculous if my coaching doesn’t provide value for money. I’ve been a coach for 13 years now and my clients wouldn’t keep paying me if they weren’t getting results. They aren’t idiots.
7: I actually feel quite ill. Dont be silly. I wouldnt waste money on a hussler like you. When I had no money in the 1980’s I went to the library and read books on personal development. You’re even luckier. There are many great free resources on the internet to improve your thinking. You will hopefully feel much better if you find the right help. I suggest you start by looking up “The Strangest Secret” by Earl Nightingale.
Sadly, you don’t qualify to work with me, and this has nothing to do with your ability to pay my fees. I just don’t feel the chemistry will be there between us despite your open-mindedness and total commitment to change, so I will be cancelling the Skype call you booked with me.
However, thank you for providing me with an excellent subject for a LinkedIn post.