A Little R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Sometimes, it really is all about respect.

Case in point: NBC missed the cultural significance of observing a 9/11 moment of silence in favor of a Kardashian yakking about cosmetic surgery. Viewers (and non-viewers) for whom 9/11 marks a special day of remembrance felt disrespected and took to the airwaves to talk about it.

Respect matters.

Thankfully, consulting usually flies more under the radar—rarely do our bad decisions get aired on prime time (political consultants being a notable exception).

And yet, most of us are only one bone-headed move away from being splashed across the in-boxes of our target audience.

Cut bad publicity off at the pass by choosing your clients wisely.

Resist any temptation to make your selection criteria all about potential revenue. Instead, before saying yes to a new client, answer what I call the Aretha Franklin question: Do you respect them?

Not whether they are perfect—who is? But can you respect their vision, their goals, how they operate? Can you treat their big ideas and dearly-held beliefs with care? Do you know that when you hit the inevitable potholes, you will want to continue to guide them?

Anything less than “Hell, yes!” is a no.

If you can’t see the rock star in your client, you’ve got no business taking their money.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T is simple. Give it completely or move on.

Thanks Aretha.


  • Cannot disagree with this and, in an Internet era, bad news and nastiness can spread virally. Upset – unfairly or wrongly – can prove motivation for that twitter post or Facebook post, or worse. Rochelle’s advise makes sense. I have seen the impact on the political side.
    for those who might have expected a link to the Aretha Franklin song, enjoy!. Since more than a few know it not, I share the original version.

  • Respect is also a two-way street. I’ve had past management be pretty abusive to the consultants and it makes me cringe. It should be a collaborative relationship and that’s not how collaboration gets built. Not only should you be able to buy into a clients vision, but they should also be able to buy into yours and feel comfortable speaking up if they don’t agree with your guidance.


  • I flew round trip on American economy class to Baltimore this past weekend, into Dulles and out of BWI. I must say it is never fun in coach, but I certainly felt respected. On the way back (yesterday), I asked if I could get a blanket and received one. That was not the answer I expected. I was also seated near the very back of the plane where the food for purchase is often sparse. My flight attendant asked as many other servers as it took for me to get a Ceasar salad. Her cart was out.

    I want to say good things about the airline I fly the most because they are true. OK, I fly them nearly all the time( to accumulate miles) and I am a good customer, but there was no way that sitting in row 33 of coach anyone could have known I am a “frequent flyer”.
    I do want respect, but felt I received it.

  • Corey, Nancy and K.C. I love that you all have different, valuable adds to this! And I should definitely have included a link to the lyrics–thanks. For correcting that….

  • Thanks for this Rochelle – here in the UK we felt pretty much disrespected by NBC when they cut the most powerful and moving salute to the victims of our 9/11 – the bombs that went off in London the day after the Olympic Games were announced (talk about a shift from joy to tragedy).
    I’ve pasted the clip here: http://leadershipzone.wordpress.com/2012/09/11/top-ten-leadership-lessons-from-the-summer-of-sport/ at the bottom of my blog.

    When respect does happen – what a difference! So much more is possible – especially, in consulting terms – a more honest, truthful and ultimately more fruitful relationship between consultant and client.

  • Thank you Helen–I strongly recommend anyone reading this post to click to Helen’s link and watch the video she mentions. 6 minutes of hauntingly beautiful song and music tribute. So sorry we didn’t get to see it on opening night with the UK–NBC made the wrong cal on this one….

  • Hell, yes! Life is too short to do otherwise.

    Great post, Rochelle.

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