Saturday, November 29, 2008

Persistence in customer service

On the day before Thanksgiving, I was expecting a FedEx delivery. Late in the day, the ominous words appeared on the internet tracking page: UNDELIVERABLE WRONG ADDRESS. I was pretty confident that the problem was a courier who didn't understand the odd numbering scheme of our street. A quick call to customer service confirmed my suspicion--and indicated that deliveries were done for the day. The agent handled it well, apologizing profusely, but letting me know I'd be out of luck till Tuesday after the holiday. Bummer.

Lo and behold, a pleasant surprise: After we'd hung up, the agent called me back about 5 minutes later and said that he'd reached the delivery person (who was new on the route) and she'd be on her way before 6 p.m. Sure enough, she showed up and dropped it off.

The lesson was a contrast in persistence: The driver wasn't terribly resourceful in trying to find my house...she apparently gave up after a quick drive-by. The customer service agent, on the other hand, could detect my obvious displeasure, and made the call to make things right. On balance, he created a win for FedEx.

Side note: I've always thought that FedEx trucks should have a delivery slot on the side--that way, if you're sitting next to one at a stoplight or see one parked, you can just drop in your package. Obviously it would be a liability nightmare, but how convenient!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Catching a tailwind

Writer's block happens to even the most prolific wordsmiths. For me, the "block" usually isn't not so much that I can't fill the paper, but that I can't fill it with something I like or that a client would approve, let alone love. Equally frustrating, maybe more.

There is a yin to the yang, though: Those blissful days when you can jam out a couple thousand words with seemingly no effort, and all of it (at least on first blush) pretty decent stuff. You can never predict when they'll come, but suffice it to say: When you catch a tailwind, keeping tapping as fast as you can for as long as you can.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Other "F" Word

Every once in a while, I stumble across a commenter who's trying to eliminate the words "freelance" or "freelancing" from the lexicon. The point is well taken--freelancing can be an ugly word, conjuring up fly-by-nighters who couldn't hold a square job--but you have to admit that it's a quick and easy descriptor.

Commercial copywriter, professional writer, creative pro, solo artist, independent contractor...these all have their place, but sometimes they elicit a "Huh?" (e.g., lifestyle entrepreneur?!?) or require further explanation. It also makes a difference whether you're talking to someone in the creative biz or outside it. I'll often say, "I'm a freelance writer who specializes in corporate copywriting." Two birds, one stone.

Ah, maybe I'm channeling my inner Don Quixote. My ultimate preference would be that those of us in the freelance world could rehabilitate the word, through good work well performed, to its former nobility. It is, after all, derived from the days of knights in shining armor.

NOTE: I've written an update to this post over at my Dr. Freelance blog: When freelancer is the other "F" word.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Creativity is where you find it

I twisted my ankle pretty severely last weekend, and other than the effect of setting back my training for PF Chang's half marathon (can I still go sub 2:00?), it's had a negative impact on my creativity. Why? Because going out for a run or a bike ride always seems to be the best way for me to come up with good ideas. I always think of clever headlines and story leads out in the great wide open. Even a good, long walk would be nice. Being stuck at a desk reminds me of the bad old corporate days.

I wonder if that's a primary reason that creatives chafe at being in a "regular" office environment--you can't free the mind without freeing the body. Even with Nerf basketball hoops and chair races down the hallways, that always struck me as a bit artificial. (On the other hand, I do remember fondly the golf tournaments we used to have at Golf Illustrated.)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Trying something new--Twitter

As a freelance writer, one of the most rewarding experiences is the chance to talk on a daily basis to people with ideas outside your usual MO. I'm no Luddite, so I'm aware of all of the various social networking tools out there, but I've always figured, who needs another time-waster, right?

Well, I had the great good fortune to interview Denver-based professional speaker Gina Schreck the other day. Check out her "Gettin' Geeky" video blog, and you'll see that she's acting as an ambassador to a wide range of online stuff for people who haven't made the leap yet. The article will be coming out in the next issue of Speaker magazine.

So, as a result of talking to Gina, now I've added Twitter to my existing Facebook as well as this blog. Whodathunkit?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Let's try again

After a long drought, back at it. At some point, this will likely become the freelance creative blog to accommodate my book. In the meantime, let me ask anyone who happens to happen upon this site: If you're a freelancer, what's your favorite aspect of it? And what keeps you up at night?

For me, the answer to the former is two-fold: freedom and variety. For the latter, I'd have to say invoicing. Ick.