Larry Preston

Champion of Endless Optimization (CEO) at Digital Opera & Raceday. Happy stoic, aspirational minimalist, recovered big hair 80’s rock star. Author of “Star Fire Kids – Midnight Blue Express”.

The Value of Distraction

I’ve learned a great deal about running a business from my clients. These are sharp people who in many cases have already “been there” and “done that”. One of the most valuable concepts imparted upon me by our client, and my friend, Dave Larsen was “The Value of Distraction“.

Simply stated, what’s it worth to you to pursue a particular opportunity? What’s it worth to you to be distracted from your own goals to help others achieve theirs?

A short time ago, I ran into a situation where I learned exactly what it’s worth to us – and what it’s not.

Podomani was recently approached to help out on a very large marketing/design/development and Ecommerce project. I was pitched that it would mean lots of work to us, and lots and lots of money with a super-mega-potential client. They said we’d get big exposure, and even though their budget on this deal was limited, there was big potential for more lucrative work down the road.

It took me all of 24 hours to dive into the details, think about it, weigh the potential outcomes, and then promptly turn it down.

What? Turn down a potential huge job? You bet. And we couldn’t be happier about it.

First of all, it was easy to see the client had unreasonable expectations. What they wanted was the internet equivalent of us buying and developing a square block of down town Manhattan – for the price of about four fully decked-out Hummers. They also demanded that a large part of the site be built to integrate with some third party software that was yet to be developed – at no additional cost. Frankly, the project looked to be a fantastic train wreck just waiting to happen.

But more distracting for us was this project was to utilize a whole slew of dead, or dying technologies. So for a year or more, we would be focusing our skills on tools we would never choose to use again. And no where in the project would we be helping a client “make the cultural shift to a world of instantaneous, on-demand information” which we’ve set out to do.

Even if we put an outrageously high bid on it and the accepted – the value of the distraction would have been too steep of a price to pay.

Then there is the matter of the 24 hours I spent on the project to turn it down. That’s three full business days I could have spent in many other ways… but I chose to pay the price of this distraction. While I mourn the loss of the time, I’m comfortable knowing it could have been much worse.