Dog Days

Weiss Advice Issue: 178, July, 2018

There are hundreds of thousands of dogs in New York living with people. You see them walking on leashes sniffing and looking around, but keeping pace with their owner. The don’t pull feverishly to go off in some other direction. Sometimes you see professional dog walkers with four dogs each on two leashes. They all obediently stop while the walker scoops up anything deposited on the pavement, in conformance with very strict New York laws.

New York dogs don’t bark, not as passersby or at other dogs, not at fire engines, not at mail carriers.

They don’t try to raid the food venders’ carts, and they placidly wait with everyone else at the corners for the light to change.

This is all unsurprising, because New York dogs are acculturated. To act in any other way than what I’ve described would be to make them unwelcome and punished. They adhere to the unspoken rule of their kind in the big city: They are never disruptive, which would be anathema in the crowded, polyglot streets.

I disperse these nuggets of wisdom to apprise you of the fact that your clients, too, are acculturated to their places of work, organization, and industry. Financial people are conservative, advertising people are not, by a long shot.

If you want to fit in with a prospect’s or client’s culture, you have to make adjustments, not expect them to make adjustments to you. Some places you wear a suit, some you dress casually. In some you use first names, and in some you use honorifics.

To be successful in your marketplace, be flexible enough to adapt to different environments and cultures. Don’t expect the client to adapt to you, the outsider. In so doing, you’ll be accepted and appreciated, because you conform to the norms and don’t cause a ruckus with inappropriate barking.

This helps you to be successful in any environment, even in the harshly competitive Big Apple. If you don’t believe me, just ask any dog.