When taking on a new project, occasionally I’ve found it tempting to “phone it in,” especially if I’m already on deadline with another client or, worse, not intellectually stimulated by the subject matter. Keeping an eye on the prize–whether it’s exceeding the client’s expectations, earning a decent living, or simply finishing the job to make time for something new–is key in this situation. To build my business and keep my reputation, laziness is never an option.
This rule especially applies to research projects. I’ve been in this business long enough to remember how research used to be, long before email, cell phones, and Google. Doing my homework required searching through library books, archives, microfiche (who uses that anymore?), file folders, and stacks of notes scribbled on bits of paper. And finding interviewees was even harder, often requiring in-person visits, hoping to squeeze some time out of their day. Technology has brought everything closer, made everything faster, and enabled much easier communications. But sometimes that same technology comes with red herrings–like selectively edited Wikipedia entries filled with misleading, biased, or incorrect information.
So if I do end up phoning anything in these days, it’s on the social side of life. My friends know what I’m talking about. And it’s not personal. It’s business.