Lessons From An Angry Millionaire

Lessons From An Angry Millionaire

Wow! Do I have a weird story for you today! On Wednesday, I got a random call during the afternoon that’s usually from a telemarketer. I answer my phone and an older gentlemen begins talking. He tells me he has some documents he wants to add some clipart to. All without telling me his name, who he works for, or when he needs it.

Shocked that it’s not a telemarketer, and a little confused, I ask if he’s attempted to use any of the millions of stock art companies that exist as a free solution to solve his clipart dilemma. Instead of acknowledging my suggestion, he begins to rattle off even more overly specific information about his project. He says that it’s ten or so documents of about twelve to fifteen pages each and that he wants an image on each page that corresponds to the information.

In an effort to clarify what became a firehose of information he was throwing at me I asked that he fill out my creative brief form on my website. Explaining that doing so will help us both see all his project information in one organized place. He said he’d do just that and we both hung up. No big deal right?

Oh, it was a big deal! To him anyway. On Thursday I get a letter in the mail. It’s the web form, printed out. On my form it asks for a ballpark estimate of your budget for the project. Evidentially he didn’t want to fill in that part of the form. The printed web form showed the blank and highlighted “Budget” field which spits out a typical “Please enter a valid number” message. Ignoring this field on the from is like asking an architect to build you a house without telling them how much or little money you have to build said house.

My most favorite part is the little hand written love note he left at the top of the page. It said,

“Clint- You (underlined) have annoyed a multi millionaire! Go read the following books The Millionaire Next Door and The Go Giver. Thank you.”


So yeah, I was a little confused. This morning I called the guy to get some clarification about the brief. At this point I figured he was old and didn’t understand that he had to fill in a valid number on the “Budget” field for the form to send properly. Man was I wrong!


Folks, this guy was upset! He answered the phone and I politely asked for his help in answering my question about the brief. He then cussed at me and began to tell me how much of a big deal he was and how rude it was for me to “blow him off” on the phone by sending him to my website.

I thanked him for the book recommendation and he asks me (in the manner you’d talk to say, your dog) if I read books. I said yes and I mentioned that not only have a read one of the books he suggested but two others by the same author. He made a harumph noise and moved on to his next topic.

He tells me that I’ll never be successful if I don’t learn how to treat my customers. And I agreed with him, that successful folks do in fact provide great customer service. At which point he swears and me again and tells me he’s not interested in continuing our call. So, I wished him the best of luck with his project and asked that he have a nice day and he hung up.

I can’t make this crap up folks. So, here’s some key thoughts.

Where I went wrong:

  • I should have walked him through my creative brief over the phone when he called, again he’s an old dude and old dudes and tech don’t jive.
  • I should have started our first call with some clarifying questions like, “What’s your name? And, “What organization are you with?”
  • I should have paid more attention to the call and invested enough focus on it to understand how best to help him.

Where he went wrong:

  • Assuming someone can randomly lose an hour on a call in the middle of the working day. Instead he could have called to schedule a longer call, or emailed to schedule a call.
  • Assuming that I was “blowing him off” when I was attempting to get more information about the project. He’s probably not used to folks not kissing his butt all day.
  • Choosing to get angry at a web form and transferring his anger toward me personally. Getting angry is okay, but getting angry at strangers is childish.
  • Choosing to cuss and swear at a complete stranger…over the phone.
  • Assuming I don’t read. Heh, again, I’m a complete stranger. He doesn’t know me so it’s no use to get upset at his assumption of me. By now you know about my reading habit.
  • Assuming it would have saddened me to hear that I had annoyed someone who’s saved a few dollars in the bank. Whoopity crap, so has my six year old. Try it yourself, it’s great!
  • Assuming I’m greedy and that his wealth would have motivated me to work with him after learning that fact. Kinda makes me sad for the people he DOES work with. If yer wondering I’m actually quite content with where my family is financially thank you very much. So no, your money does not enthrall me. There’s two people who don’t give a hairy booger how much money he has, Jesus, and me. From my perspective it all belongs to Jesus anyway.

Come on Clint, why bring Jesus into this? Because a quick Google search revealed that this guy is involved with a very nice Methodist charity in town that happens to do wonderful things. I just hope he don’t kiss his mother with that mouth.

Lessons Learned:

  • Treat every client (and potential client) like they have millions of dollars that they want to give to you for the product or service you provide.
  • Don’t be petty when you believe you’ve been treated poorly. Instead, put on your big boy pants and move along without looking back trusting that Karma is just.
  • Only get angry at things, never people. You can change a thing, but a person must want to change before they will, a process over which you have zero control.
  • Don’t try to change people, lead by example and be helpful when and if they ask you how you do things.
  • Assumptions can be right, which means they can also be very wrong. When you’ve made a poor assumption, own it and apologize.

So when I thought about this at lunch today, a Bible verse popped in my head. So instead of sending him a letter, I wrote this post.

P.S. I happily fed his little love note into my shredder…because screw that guy…in tha nostril…with Wiffle Ball bat.


2 Responses

  1. Tony says:

    I enjoyed the read. I do customer service – inside and outside – all day long.
    I remember your saying that you had hit some point where you could pick and choose your clients. Maybe you just choose not to work with self-important wealthy-ish dudes.
    I saw a bit of redundancy here. Somethings might need reiterated at the end of this sort of life lesson book.

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