It was close to the last day at my first job out of school
and I had to tell my staff I was leaving. It was so hard to do that because I loved them and I loved that garden. I explained where I was going and what I hoped to do at the new place. One of my ladies, the one who was most skeptical when I arrived, but cried when I hugged her for the last time (I cried too), said, “Oh, so you go places and you fix them?”
Guys, I was 26 years old. But that is what I had done. And what I hoped to keep doing.
I had arrived at a garden at the edge of the Adirondacks, a place with tons of potential, but with nobody who understood horticulture or children’s programs or fundraising to manage it. (It was a restored garden at a restored fort/history museum.) I left knowing that I had built the programs, lined up donors, and grown healthy plants. As long as they hired someone who could handle daily operations, it was ready for someone else to keep it going.
Now when somebody asks me what I do I say, “I drive a tow truck.”
With a name like “The Garden of Words,” I get asked “What is that?” a lot. The answer is actually really long and convoluted, if the person wants details. It’s different depending on who I’m talking to. But no matter WHO I’m talking to, I can always say, “I drive a tow truck.”
I pull you and your problem out of the ditch.
Whatever your problem is, if you raise your hand to me, I’ll grasp it and pull you out of the ditch.
-Dead email list? I’ll help you re-engage it and get you on a regular program so it makes money.
-Old website you can’t send people to? My team and I will re-do it for you, affordably.
-Email program not making money? I’ll fix that.
-Book manuscript that’s going nowhere? I’ll edit it and my team will package it. (And it might win an award, like this one did.)
Two reasons why being able to say I drive a tow truck is important to my business
1) It’s descriptive and memorable. I could say I do email marketing. BORING. Yes, I can do that. If I tell you that, will you remember I said it? Probably not.
But “I drive a tow truck,” now THAT evokes the feeling of “problem fixing,” which is what I’m doing more than any specific task and what most people need. What most people need is to feel relieved. “Katie is going to fix my problem. I don’t have to worry about it.” People might BUY email marketing, but they’re paying for increased profits, lowered anxiety, more time to focus on other things. They’re paying for me to get them out of the ditch.
2) It helps me hone in on what I really like to do and am good at.
I’m a fixer. I’m not a daily ops person. If I do my job well, in a couple of years, two, four, six, I’m out of a job. That’s cool, though, because it means I’ve left my clients in a good place where they can hire someone else less expensive or in house who is downright excited to run ops. I’ll even help them FIND a new person. HECK, I’ll TRAIN the new person. I’ve done it time and time and time again.
I DO NOT LIKE RUNNING OPS. I’m not going to manage your social media for a decade. You don’t want that. I don’t want that. Repeating that I’m a tow truck driver, not a bus driver, helps me keep that distinction clear in my mind.
I like walking into a burning building and putting out the fire. I’ll even help redecorate. I do NOT want to sit at the front desk and greet people until I retire.
However, I will not leave a problem unfixed, a client unserved, a system that isn’t running smoothly. I will fight to keep working on the planning and implementation until I’m sure that I can walk away and the revenue stream and the client will thrive.
OK, why do you care about this? Well, so you can answer questions 1 & 2 yourself.
1) If someone asks you what you do, can you give them an answer that is memorable, emotionally evocative, and succinct?
2) Does that answer laser point to your strengths?
If not, go think about it! It’ll help you get more work doing what you like and are good at and less of what just pays the bills.
Bookmarks of the Week
My favorite video conference software right now. There are free versions and it will record. You can share your screen so that you can explain things to people, visually. Love. It.
The Pursuit of Endurance
I talk a lot about sportsing (running in particular) because a lot of the mental toughness I need to finish a race or a long run is comparable to what I need in order to be a good freelancer. This book is by someone who set a FKT (fastest known time) on the Appalachian Trail and talks to other FKT holders about how they did and the qualities they needed in order to endure.
HEX Color Matcher
Trying to match email link colors to a logo? Canva text to part of the image on the graphic? You’re gonna LOVE this tool.
Hope the rest of your week is great! I’ll be at Cultivate this weekend. Give me a shout if you’re planning to be there, too. We can talk about tow trucks.