Are You Proud of What You Do? I Am. You Should Too.

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Image by CarbonNYC

The perhaps most important factor at work, independent of industry or kind of employment, is pride.

You have to be proud of what you do in order to create value and be happy.

Zen Buddhists and other beings not of this world will tell you that pride is not good though. Politicians will tell you that you should be humble and be satisfied with what you have. They will insist that you should be proud of your country instead even if you get treated like “human resources”.

There is one kind of pride which is indispensable though, the “you are what you do“-kind of pride.

Many people for instance approach me with prejudice or sometimes even some kind of disgust for what I do, mostly of out their own ignorance. While others regard SEO as some kind of dirty work, yes even SEOs themselves do it, thus they call themselves black hat SEOs, I don’t. The hats are black so that you don’t see the stains.

At the end of the day they might be able to buy more than I can but when their kids ask them what they do to earn money they will cringe or outright lie.

When my 5 year old daughter asked me what kind of work I do I explained to her with pride that

I help people finding stuff or being found on the Internet which is so huge that otherwise people would get lost.

So I ask you, are you proud of what you do for a living? You can ask yourself the following 10 questions to determine that:

  1. Do you hesitate when asked at a party what you do for a living?
  2. Do you use a job title that does not really reflect what you do?
  3. Do you want to tell others what yo do by yourself?
  4. Would you write a blog about what you do professionally?
  5. Do you define your status a) by the things you do or b) by the things you buy?
  6. Do you want your kids to do the same job you do in future, can you recommend it to them?
  7. Do your friends (real friends not virtual ones) recommend you as a specialist in your trade?
  8. Do you want to explain your trade to others?
  9. Are you so proud of your achievements that you want to display them?
  10. If you could choose your profession again, would you take the same a second time?

The right answers are no, no, yes, yes, a), yes, yes, yes, yes, yes! I hope you have at least 5 correct answers.

So this week I was approached by an international company from Scandinavia. The CEO (not SEO!) ;-) approached me by himself. He was in a constant hurry, I guess many CEOs are. So we talked very soon and he told me that he likes my style of presenting myself and he looks for a SEO who is 110% white hat. I told him that I’m 200% white hat, which is true and that because of this I am the right man for him.

The he told me a few things that made me suspicious though:

  • He works with 20 other SEO companies all over Europe and elsewhere, well, nice to meet someone who knows what SEO is about [I thought]
  • He will send me his contract, well, OK with me
  • He wants me to review the contract and reply ASAP (meaning next day, as he understood it), I will as soon as possible but that doesn’t mean instantly
  • The contract should be OK “for a white hat SEO”, well, so no problem with me here or is it?
  • He wanted me to work parallel or together with another German SEO company, well, others wouldn’t but I’m more into cooperation than competition
  • He wants to make millions after one year while he wants to pay me by the hundreds, well, hmmm, I’ll have to take a second look, sounds strange
  • He wants to pay 15 hours but he wants me to work 30, 50 or 50 hours in the first month so that he can see results, well, hell no, I won’t do that, sorry, I told him

So today I reviewed the contract and what did I see?

For the little money I would have to guarantee a full refund for almost any circumstances of not working according to fuzzy “industry standards”, while the contract reserved almost no rights for me.

I wasn’t allowed to let anybody help me to do the work, I had to return or delete any data after the project ended. I would have to work clandestinely and wouldn’t be even allowed to mention the client in my portfolio among other cruelties.

I had already collected two pages of annotations to this “contract” when I realized that I was furious as how somebody can even approach me in such a disrespectful manner.

What’s most ludicrous: Basically the cost to let my lawyer rewrite this contract to fit even my most basic needs would probably excel what I would earn before taxes for the first month.

Pride is also the most important factor in gaining respect and becoming an authority.

Nobody will ever believe you in you don’t believe in yourself.

I learned to be proud of myself the hard way but in my thirties I know who I am and I’m proud of what I do so you can’t approach me in a condescending manner.

If you treat me like a dog I will bark at you. I will even bark so loud that all the other underdogs will hear me.

As nobody knows on the Net that you are a dog though you don’t have to behave like one. Be proud of what you do or change it. Do not let people disrespect you out of low self-esteem.

I don’t care who you are when you approach me. I want to know what you do and how you do it so that I know if I can be proud of working with you. I do not want to hide working for you and I do not want to be treated like “human resources”. Treat me in a respectful manner so we will both prosper.

In fact I reject probably more clients than I work for in the end and I will reject even more in future as I get renown beyond Germany recently. If you want human resources go to SEO India, if you seek SEO Germany don’t offend me.

It’s also not about the money you spend. The other day a sound designer called me saying that he only has 100 Euro (approx 150$) to spend. I told him no problem I can sell him some consulting on the phone to enable him to optimize his site himself, as he masters HTML or I can set up an XML sitemap etc. for “search engine submission” for instance.

The chance that you can work with me is even better for small business as I wouldn’t work for most corporations anymore anyways, for ethical reasons.

If I can’t be proud of what I do I won’t do it. Are you proud of what you do?