Saturday, October 31st, at about 6:30 pm, like any suburban mom in a flat neighborhood with houses close together, I sat braced for the onslaught of trick-or-treaters.  Would I have enough candy? How many times would the door bell ring and how long? What cute or scary characters would come to call?

We were fortunate in Portland this year – it was dry and not too cold.  The kids wouldn’t freeze and the parents walking them around wouldn’t either.  I wouldn’t be stuck with huge bags of candy to tempt me because of cold, wind and rain forcing kids to cut their trek short or go to the mall and get candy from store owners under the cover and heat of the building.

I think I had about 70 kids come to my door in a 2 hour period.  Some in pairs and others in packs.  During that 2 hours, as I am often known to do, I made a few business analogies from the experience.  Here are five things that come to mind:

  1. First impressions matter, no matter where they are made. It was Halloween so the kids were a bit amped up. Adrenalin going from the excitement of dressing up.  Perhaps some sugar starting to kick in.  They may have been in costume but I must admit, I made some assumptions about who they were based on a 30 second interaction at the door.  So next time you are at a networking mixer that involves alcohol, keep in mind that regardless of whether drinks are flowing, impressions are being made and keep your wits about you!
  2. Manners matter. I was amazed at how rude a few of the kids or groups were.  Overall, they were delightful but unfortunately, a few stuck out.  One little girl almost spilled my candy bowl as she semi-glared at me and announced, “Oh no.  I pick MY OWN candy!” and proceeded to pull the edge of the bowl and root through while others waited behind her.  Her mother beamed from the sidewalk… really? I can assure you if I were looking for someone to hire or work with, she would be at the bottom of the list.
  3. Courtesy is always appreciated. Now at the opposite of little Miss-No-Manners, there was a “Super-Girl” that also made quite an impression.  She said “trick-or-treat” with a smile.  She said “thank you” with another.  In fact, she said it twice, not leaving until I stopped handing out candy to others, looked at her and said “you are welcome” before she left.  She made sure I had heard her and skipped off with a smile – knowing, I am sure, that she had followed the trick-or-treat manner instructions the mother at the curb had given her before leaving the house.
  4. Creativity is noticed. Artists often wonder (dare I say – in this economy?) if new artists have a chance licensing their work, or if things are so tight that only established artists get the deals.  Both Paul Brent and I have talked about that in our “Ask” calls and both agree… if you come up with something new, creative and licensable, it will be noticed.  All the kids had costumes.  There were lots of scary masks and more than a few Disney princesses.  But when the girl across the street showed up as a full candy vending machine, I smiled.  Here is the costume that took time, thought and creativity.  Loved it! Her, I’d hire!
  5. Honesty is great too. I get bite-sized candy so I give kids two or three when they come to my door.  One little girl, probably about 5 or 6, looked at me in shock and said, “Oh no!  You gave me two!  I only get one at a house.” She then proceeded to put a piece back and even when I told her I usually give two, she said, “No thank you, one was plenty.”

Speaking of honesty – here is an interesting situation that has happened to me on more than one occasion.  It could be a case study in “Business Ethics 101” on any college campus.

I have received royalty money (or samples) that was not mine.  The check is addressed to me, the list of product is coded that it is mine, but I look and say, “I didn’t do this work.”  It would be quite easy to just cash the check and think, “bonus”!

Or it could happen that you don’t review the paperwork that comes with the check closely enough to even realize there has been a mistake.

But if a mistake is made, call and tell your client.  I can’t tell you the integrity and goodwill points I have earned with clients who have paid me someone else’s royalty by mistake.  I also have to assume that the mistake could go the other way and hopefully I’m setting up karma that the artist that receives my money will do the right thing as well.

Who knew I would have so many thoughts go through my head that could relate to my business while handing out candy after dark.  It is ‘food for thought’ that won’t add a calorie to your day, unlike all the chocolate that is calling my name from the candy bowl.

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara