Andrew Curtis
July 14, 2022

Client Relationships Part 3: Be intentional about treating others well

"Every business decision is not just based on what I can put in an Excel sheet. You have to be able to have a relationship. You have to be able to connect with people at a human level."
Andrew Curtis, Owner and President, Fuel VM

Business success is tied to relationships. How we treat others. How much we care about what matters to customers and clients. Andrew shares his list of three beliefs being relentless about believing in people and that passion drives business success. Listen to the video or read the transcript below.

You know, if you want to think about business success, you can look at it just simply through the lens of wins, plus opportunities minus losses. But, how do we do that? How do we get real intentional with it? And I got a few ideas.

So, number one, always start from a place of optimism. I have this obnoxious habit. If somebody asks me the innocuous question, how are you today? I always say, I'm glorious. It's so annoying. And I love it. People eat it up and it's genuine. It is not that I've just trained myself to, you know, shout it like I'm a cheerleader. I genuinely believe it. And people feed off of that energy and that's very real and it's visceral and it's so wonderful because I can see how people can feed off of that. Use that, you know, out in your world, in your life. You've got to create relationships face to face. And again, with the biggest asterisk, understanding what the business world looks like right now, but I'm a Gen Xer. I'll let the millennials and the boomers kind of fight out cultural wars. But for me, it's really about how do you get face to face and, and by face to face, I realized that that means very many different things at this point, but that's how you build those relationships.

And what's been fascinating about watching what's happening in the business world is the inability to communicate. Even though I can see your face, you know, in, in a Zoom screen, the body language, the subtle nuance, the ability to just be present with somebody else, you can't replace that. So, go be a barbarian, you know, eventually share a meal, eventually be able to share coffee, you know, eventually be able to sit across the table with somebody, even if it's six feet apart, that's fine. But that's the only way you're going to build a real relationship. When you're trying to create a relationship with somebody lean into their needs, just for a second, stop trying to sell your crap.

It is so obnoxious. You know what? If you want people to gravitate toward you, find a way to help them. Actually take the time to care about what they're trying to accomplish, because the weirdest thing will happen...They will reciprocate. In human behavior, it's fascinating...If you go offer to buy somebody lunch, the first thing they'll do is was like, 'Hey, well, I'll get it next time.' That's so cool because there's going to be a next time. You know, the ability to just simply realize that there is now a relationship. So now there's a second version of this, but that's human nature. If I give you something, the ability to want to reciprocate is very human. So if you really want the business world, or if you want your personal life, in many ways, you know, reach out, help other people.

And there's a much better chance that that's going to come back to you. Help people find jobs or job leads or create connections FOR NOTHING. Just find a way to help other people. I do this really weird thing. People will send me a resume and say, 'Hey, I'm looking for a job.' You know what I do? Actually try. It is so not difficult to make introductions. You know, there's a currency of making introductions. That's not a recommendation. So just calm down. I'm not saying that everybody's gonna believe that you're saying everybody in the world is great, but there's a currency to just making those connections.

Next on the list is appreciate that your circumstances are gonna change someday. You know, look, I started out in business. I was the young guy. Now, I've had some success and I've had an ability to impact other people that gives me the chance to have a bigger network, but I still have young people that come to me and my hairdresser's nephew might send me a resume.

Well, that person may not impact my business world, but I want to make time and be intentional and purposeful about creating some sort of relationship and touch with them because situations may change. You don't know. Be selfless right now because someday you may need to be selfish. So, how this all kind of happens is I talk about the idea of cultivating alphas. You know, people in your world that are advocates for you. And the thing is, is that you don't know who those people are when you run across them in your life. You won't realize that that payoff happens for years down the road. I love telling this story because one of the great business and personal relationships I have in my life started because I just happen to overhear somebody talk about ABC sports. And I thought, well, I want to be in sports marketing.

So I invited him out to lunch and we go to a Pizza Hut buffet. It's Pizza Hut. But what ends up happening is over the course of years, we've poured into each other's lives and our business lives and over many, many dollars of business influence and helping each other. It's been this truly mutual relationship. And it all started over Pizza Hut. We had no idea what we were getting into that day, but it was because it was an intentional act I wanted to grow, and I'm always, always in the process of trying to have coffee and to just reach out. And, you don't know who the ones are in your life that are going to really make that impact. So, as long as you're intentional and you do it with, you know, 500 people over the course of your, you know, year or career, whatever that is, you're going to get the one you're going to get the one diamond, you know, relationship that's going to really lock into place.

And again, don't worry about whether that person is an alpha or not. You're not going to be able to know that upfront because, again, their situation is going to change, but it really comes down to human beings. You know, I've used the example all the time.... Every business decision is not just based on what I can put in an Excel sheet. You have to be able to have a relationship. You have to be able to connect with people at a human level. And if you do that, your odds of being successful are so much higher. So, to me, the whole point is just be intentional. You know, this has to become part of your DNA and not even so much about your personality profile and whether you're comfortable or not, but then it just becomes intentional in your relationships because I'm so hopelessly optimistic about just being hopelessly and recklessly, trusting in people and that the wins so far outweigh the losses.

Andrew Curtis, owner and president of Fuel VM in Indiana. FUEL VM, a digital strategy and marketing agency, connects you with YOUR customers to drive business GROWTH. Ready to elevate your business strategy? Let's talk. 

"I care more about relationships than I do necessarily the business because I also realize handling the relationships IS the business."
Andrew Curtis, Owner and President, Fuel VM

Building relationships at the heart of how we do business at Fuel VM. Andrew explains how failed business deal made him more focused on the value of client relationships. Watch the video or read the transcript below.

I have to get emotionally involved with people in my business world. Like they are friends because that's going to motivate me and my team to do better work.

The flip side of this is that I had a situation go badly, a business transaction and relationship went bad. I got screwed hard, like freight train-style screwed. And it was just very painful. I poured into this relationship and the situation just went South horribly trainwreck, bad in every dimension that you can possibly think of. I really thought that I could overcome some of the business core competency, skill deficiencies, and be able to, to kind of rise above it and be that trusted advisor. I was wrong. The first thing is really just, you know, you got to internalize that and go, 'Hey, what mistakes did I make? What did I miss? What do I need to change? What do I need to evolve?' Because you're not always sure exactly what's going to happen in any business relationship. And in this particular case, it just, it stung and it hurt. And it was very personal because that dissolved.

And, the problem wasn't that I lost a business or an account or anything like that, I genuinely felt like I lost a friend, and that hurt far worse thing to do with dollars and cents. But the biggest thing was to be able to take a breath. And I looked around at all the people who were angry for me and I got really angry, but that went away very quickly. That dissolved very quickly. And what was interesting was being able to kind of look around at everybody else's reaction to the situation. It had a very human element to it, of, of anger and revenge and justice. And I just went someplace very different mentally.

So when all this went down, I started thinking back to a project that in college, and we had to pick a famous quote and I will never forget this as Frederick Nietzsche quote. And it was, "Distrust those in whom the impulse to punish is powerful." And, that kept ringing in my head because I would have people around in the situation, like, 'What? You don't you want to sue?' 'Aren't you angry?' 'Won't you go get 'em?' You know, that kind of thing. And it was funny. I just let all that melt away and dissolve very quickly because that negativity wasn't going to help. I felt very beat up about losing that relationship far more than I did anything to do in the business. You know, being able to not let that impact what happens going forward has to be the point of all of this. This is intentional. I'm going to pour into people. It is really annoying thing. I dig people. I always want to be around people. I care more about relationships than I do necessarily the business because I also realize handling the relationships is the business.

As soon as you don't, as soon as you don't have that balance, you've missed the point. And to be honest, I'm not going to stop it. It's so Pollyanna, and it's so naive, and I totally get that. And I just don't care. You know, the, the ability to simply say, I'm going to pour into people, I'm going to pour into relationships has to supersede everything else that we're doing in the world. It has become, I hope part of our DNA. Anybody who has a chance to really kind of sit down and engage with me and the questions that I ask, even though we have work to do, there's robotic checklists, and project management and blah, blah, blah, blah....understood. But, but when it gets down to it, I have to be able to look somebody in the eye and say, 'Hey, I'm going to solve your problem.

I'm going to make you save you money.' You know, if we want to get real crass about it, but that, that has to be a part of it. And that that's what helps motivate me and hopefully motivates my team. And that that's just become part of our DNA. There no separation anymore about trying to anticipate needs and trying to serve as clients much more so than, 'Hey, did you see this cool logo we did?' Well. Yeah, that's great and all, but I want to be able to work with somebody two years from now. Not just right now.

Andrew Curtis, owner and president of Fuel VM in Indiana. FUEL VM, a digital strategy and marketing agency, connects you with YOUR customers to drive business GROWTH. Ready to elevate your business strategy? Let's talk. 

I think my superpower is making friends of clients." 
Andrew Curtis, owner Fuel VM

I want you to recklessly hopelessly believe in other people. My business model fundamentally changed as soon as I realized if I just poured into my clients and sat side-by-side and step-by-step with them over the course of time instead of just giving them projects. Guess what?! It was better for all of us! What this meant is that I didn’t have any clients, instead, I actually developed everybody into friends.

Check out the first of my three-part chat about relationships and the value of personal connections to maximize how you do business. Listen or read the transcript below.

Andrew: My name is Andrew Curtis. I own a creative agency called Fuel VM. But I'm not here to talk about my company today. This is really about a personal situation and how it evolved.

I live by the axiom to recklessly, hopelessly trust in other people. So again, today isn't about my company. Today's really about talking about relationships. But I got to talk about my company real quick.  I own a digital brand marketing company and we really shifted our business focus to be about retained relationships rather than just doing projects. What we really did was realize, hey, we're, we're so much more powerful if we stay on with clients rather than just giving them a race car, hey, we would help them drive it. And that was what really shifted and changed how deeply we could get into relationships with people.

To me, the whole point was, yes, the length of the relationship helped, but just having a human connection, you know, really understanding, um, and I talk about this all the time. I think my superpower is making friends of clients. And I cannot separate those things. It's just what happens. And it's not intentional, but that's just, how it evolves.

I have to get emotionally involved with people in my business world like they are friends, because that's going to motivate me and my team to do better work. Nine times out of 10 what happens is it's a much better relationship because there's a level of trust there. There's give and take instead of just thinking about it as hey, here's my order, and here we're going to support our order. That's ridiculous. You got to have a relationship. You have to have trust two ways to be able to get to the best product and the best solutions and the best results.


Let’s talk over a cup of coffee or the phone, but get started today.

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