Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

“Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” is a phrase used to suggest one should relax, chill out, and not worry about the little things, things which sometime seem out of one’s control. Well, that’s great. But, our “day job” as trial consultants doesn’t allow it. Neither does my prior advocation, photography. For example, when photographing people at events, the photographer has to watch the person’s expression; if it is a group of people, it is even more challenging. The photographer has to look at the eyes, the smiles, the hands, feet, etc. Ensuring things are in focus and that there are no distracting details in the background, or foreground, are all a part of capturing an image for a professional photographer. In our work as trial consultants, we have to watch the small details. Are the lunches ready? Did the catering folks get the order right according to the banquet event order – the contract? Where are the chips and the condiments? Are all the cables connected for the video cameras to record the session? Is everything working? Have all the cables been taped down to prevent tripping? Are the notepads on the tables? How about pens for everyone to take notes? Is the A/V working to project PowerPoint or similar images? Are the mock jurors arriving on time? Do we need to call the recruiter to track down late arrivals? What time is dinner to be served? There are seemingly an endless number of variables, small stuff, that go into a mock trial. We’ve done these long enough to have our own, well refined, protocols, but it involves sweating the small stuff. I often sweat the arrival of the first quorum of jurors. We recruit extras, but until we have the required 6 or 12, I’m nervous. Sweating the small stuff is, in my opinion, something we have to do to ensure clients are satisfied that we’ve done everything we can to make their days a success and that they are getting what they pay for when hiring Magnus (and we don’t work cheap). And, ultimately I believe that is why clients so often compliment us on the research days.

This topic, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff,” came up recently during a slightly heated debate David and I were having about the proper way to prepare something we were having for dinner.  (As the reader might imagine, David and I have many debates, some over trivial matters, on an almost daily basis.)  I don’t recall the specifics of our disagreement, but I attempted to end it by asking David not to sweat the small stuff.  He laughed, and as soon as he regained his composure, he said, “We always sweat the small stuff.  It’s just what both of us do, about almost everything.”  I stopped what I was doing and replied that he was absolutely correct.  David and I almost always sweat the small stuff.  Doing so is part of what differentiates us from most of our competitors in business, many of whom lack the education, intelligence, or foresight to ensure all the details, in every client’s research project, have been thought of and handled with excellence.  For example, when we are recording the mock jury deliberations, we are aware that annoying sounds, such as the sound a bag of potato chips makes when opened, will destroy the audio portion of the recording for the duration it takes to get the bag open.  Knowing this, we ask the mock jurors to open their bag of chips, then pour out the chips onto their plate, before the video camera is turned on.  Overlooking this seemingly minor detail, when multiplied by 30 or 40 mock jurors in 1 day, can ruin an otherwise fine client deliverable, thus, we truly must sweat the small stuff.  Neither David nor I are perfect, but we try hard to rise above other people in similar situations by doing everything we can to ensure all details, large and small, are addressed so that our clients are assured the intricacies of their cases will be handled with nearly perfect results, time after time.  Other people may be fine when they don’t sweat the small stuff, but David and I will keep striving to be the best we can be.  Now, about that recipe…

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