The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Eyes Wide Open …
March 23, 2011, 6:13 am
Filed under: Comment

One of the things that always surprises me is how often people go into a meeting without any background information on the person they’re seeing.

I’m not just talking about their professional history, but also their personal beliefs, interests and views.

At cynic, prior to meeting any new client/colleague, we used to send a “getting to know you” questionaire that asked such things as:

Favourite film?
Most overrated film?

Favourite book?
What was the last book you read?

Favourite comedian?

Favourite music?
Favourite sport/team?

Favourite television show?
Program you feel sick about as soon as you hear the theme song?

Best meal you’ve ever had?
What food makes you ill?

Favourite memory?
What is your guilty passion?

Favourite gadget?
Your kids favourite toy?

Favourite brand?
Favourite ad?

Note nothing about their work or professional life, all about them.

What’s amazing is how open people were to answering this stuff.

Sure, some obviously gave responses that were designed to make them look clever/witty/sophisticated, but in the main, they were pretty honest with their answers and what that allowed us to do was not only get a better take on who they were, but also what made them tick.

You see while the questions were fairly broad, they had been designed [the ones above are only meant as a taste of what we did, they’re not the actual, final list] to give us a better idea of how to approach working with them.

Depending on their answers, we would know whether they were more functional or a more emotional kind of person.

We’d get an idea if they were favoured more image based, fact orientated or storyline focused communication.

We’d understand if they were a follower of more traditional values or had a more liberal view of the World.

We’d find out if they were egotists or open to learning.

In short, we would have a bunch of information that allowed us know what buttons of theirs we had to press to increase the odds of us getting the ideas/work we believed in most, to get through – even if on first impression, they flied in the face of what they normally went for – and whilst it didn’t always work, it definitely helped us forge better relations with our clients and so the next time you go in to a meeting, don’t think you’re going to be able to dazzle them with your wit, charm, intelligence and good looks … put in a bit of homework and before you know it, you might find you’re being given opportunities – or getting things approved – that you thought would never happen.

This isn’t about being sycophantic or only doing what the client wants, it’s about building trust … and while that ultimately takes time to achieve properly [not to mention a continuous run of positive interactions] … knowing how to understand, respond and communicate to your client [to get the best possible outcome] ultimately collapses the time it takes for that to happen and speeds up the process to do the things – or get the opportunities – you are the most excited by.

32 Comments so far
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are you going to give every fucking thing we did away. for fucking free. let the fucks work out their own ideas instead of stealing my fucking brilliance, even though youll say it was you as fucking usual.

i should take the piss but it worked a fucking treat except when wed find out the person we were going to meet liked mr fucking bean and then you and auntie would get depressed while id be excited because i was going to meet another real, live cock.

still not as bad as saying your favourite fucking band was queen.

Comment by andy@cynic

When I first joined and I learnt of your process I admit I was a bit dubious. It sounded interesting but I doubted clients would take the time to do it because they don’t take the time to brief agencies properly but I was wrong and I realised the best way to get a client to open up is to get them to talk about themselves and find ways to link that back to their job, not the other way around. I’ll never forget that and seeing how you guys used that information will be something I never forget either. Great post even if a lot of people will question just how useful this knowledge can be for them in their day to day role. The answer is “lots”.

Comment by Pete

why the fuck arent you praising me specifically pete? you still dont think those 2 planning parasites had anything to do with the greatest fucking time of your life. fucking fool.

Comment by andy@cynic

have you banned me from making comments because ive been trying for 10 minutes and the fucking thing keeps saying its down for fucking fixing. i can see through your fucking pansy ruse.

Comment by andy@cynic

Still think you should of found out their favourite beer and drug. You guys were too narrow minded sometimes.

Comment by Billy Whizz

that was definitely auntie and campbells fault. but you fucking knew that didnt you billy. word of advice, do not fucking answer back except in the affirmative.

Comment by andy@cynic

How did they accept to do this knowing it’d be used against them?

Actually they probably didn’t know it’d be used against them. Nice and evil.

Comment by Rafik

some things people need to know, some things they are better off being left in the fucking dark. or its better for us if theyre left in the fucking dark.

Comment by andy@cynical

I love this blog. Mostly for Andy’s comments. They are
“fucking” gold.

Comment by manchild

yep sometimes you wonder who this blog really belongs to……….

Comment by northern

dont fucking say this blog belongs to me because i dont want this shit. but campbell does, hes my bitch.

you have fucking good taste manchild. except in choice of moniker.

Comment by andy@cynic

Glengarry Glenross
Schindlers List

Kafka on the Shore
The Corrections

Larry David

Prince/The Smiths/Joni Mitchell/David Bowie (pre-80’s)

The Thick of It

Cassoulet at Daniels in Edinburgh, first weekend away with Mrs Northern

Swimming trip to Chicago 1988/my son being born
This blog

My kitchen scissors
His little cars


Comment by northern

back on the meths groper?

Comment by andy@cynic

How come I get typical abuse while Will gets analysis?

Comment by northern

you could slip into intellectual wanker territory. you were heavily influenced by the shit that was going on in your student days when you spent the night either at the student union bar or some shit pub surrounded by your student friends talking the sort of shit the average guardian reader likes to pretend they are the fucking worlds experts on while drinking a pint of bitter or some other wank. the thing that saved you from total cockdom is your big northern bastard soft as shit heart.

you get better as you get older.


Comment by andy@cynic

It’s a nice idea. At the very least it says to the client that you want to get to know them and forge a good working relationship.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

its a fucking basic idea mortimer, its just we fucking did it when every other fucker likes talking about shit.

Comment by andy@cynic

Favourite film? LA Confidential
Most overrated film? The Princess Bride

Favourite book? Keep The Aspidistra Flying
What was the last book you read?

Favourite comedian? Lee Mack/Frankie Boyle.

Favourite music? Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds/Paul Simon/Idlewild/Smashing Pumpkins

Favourite sport/team? Stoke City F.C.

Favourite television show? Peep Show

Program you feel sick about as soon as you hear the theme song? Big Brother.

Best meal you’ve ever had? Shrimp/Garlic Spaghetti in Portugal. Brilliant.

What food makes you ill? Kiwi fruit. Bleurgh.

Favourite memory?
What is your guilty passion?

Favourite gadget?
Your kids favourite toy?

Favourite brand?
Favourite ad?

Comment by Will

Oops, missed some out.

Favourite memory – A sunny day at the end of the first year of University. Just drank, played frisbee/football.

Guilty passion is golf.

Favourite gadget is a lob wedge.

No children, but childish toy – Xbox 360. 😉

Favourite brand is Adidas, favourite ad is either the Economist print (Jordan) work or Double Life for the launch of the Playstation.

Comment by Will

this tells me youre a schizo, lurching between reliving your student youth and acting like an old age middle class fucking pensioner. plus youre a planner which means you automatically qualify for fast track access to the not worth listening to or bothering with club. confuckingratulations.

Comment by andy@cynic

lob wedge sounds like the sort of shit conservative mps get up to when they think the news of the screws arent looking. theres hope for you yet.

Comment by andy@cynic

on the brightside, youre not campbell.

Comment by andy@cynic

Favourite film? American Beauty / Up
Most overrated film?

Favourite book? To kill a mockingbird
What was the last book you read? How not to run a nightclub – Peter Hook

Favourite comedian? Tim Minchin
Favourite music? Idlewild (good taste Will)/Deftones/The Cribs

Favourite sport/team? West Ham United (family) – Man United (local club)

Favourite television show? (at the moment) Lie to Me
Program you feel sick about as soon as you hear the theme song? Eastenders

Best meal you’ve ever had? Sushi – Genki Sushi in Mong Kok – Hong Kong
What food makes you ill? Fish in parsley sauce

Favourite memory? Wedding / Meeting idlewild
What is your guilty passion? Gaming

Favourite gadget? My synthesizer
Your favourite kids toy? When I was little – Lego

Favourite brand? Nintendo / Nike
Favourite ad? Tough. Honda Cog probably, most jawdropped an ad has ever made me feel

Comment by Rob Mortimer

how the fuck do you have a favourite family football club? what the fuck is all that about? that says more to me than all the other shit, which is fucking up itself jack the lad bollocks, only saved by your eastenders theme tune answer which means theres hope for you yet.

no more of this palm reading shit, campbell is the one who kissed mr profilers ass so hes the one who fancies himself as cracker.

Comment by andy@cynic

As in, it’s the club supported by my family, many of whom come from West Ham. That was pendantic even for you Andy!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

are you calling me doddsy?

Comment by andy@cynic

I love clever men except they seem to turn into little boys when they’re around me.

Comment by Jemma King

thats why you dumped billy then?

now answer this jem, if you like clever fuckers, why the fuck are you coming to a shithole like this, especially when you have my cell.

Comment by andy@cynic

Is Jemma fit then?

Comment by northern

that depends if you find a young claudia without the krautness hot and if you dont, youre a fucking idiot.

Comment by andy@cynic

Funilly enough you’ve just described my wife

Comment by northern

Andy – you are dead right, on all counts. 🙂

Comment by Will

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