I spent 30 minutes on the phone this morning with a new customer — actually a new contact at an existing, happy customer — who seems to be the alpha-male sort that needs to make vendors and consultants cringe at his feet and kiss his ass before he will listen to them (and then probably has no respect for us because we kissed his ass). I was hired by another part of the organization to create something on the topic of X; he’s the stated expert on X, so insisted on being involved so that we wouldn’t screw up the strategy that he’s creating for the company. Great, happy to have his input. But then I spent half of the phone call apologizing: first, because he misunderstood something that I said about the project and went off on a rant about a particular point of view that had nothing to do with what I said, and second, because I said the word “message” instead of “strategy” when I spoke about getting the word out about X. He threatened to go to the president and have our project cancelled because our material about X was wrong, at which point I challenged him by asking how he could do that when he hadn’t even seen our material.
At the end of it all, he was fine with what I’m doing, I think that he just had to make me understand who’s boss. A tedious exercise, all in all, and one that makes me glad that I bill by the hour.