Purging Toxic People (and customers) from Your Life

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Awhile back I told the story about my last Dilbert Cube job, and how I would get into fights with my boss, “Nick”.

Originally I liked Nick a lot. He and I would have these hilarious conversations on the phone. Eventually he became my boss.

Then one time I did something that really hacked Nick off (long story, I’ll tell it some other time) and in hindsight, I realize that Nick swore revenge on me then. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was true.

One day a week or two later, I’m at home on a Sunday afternoon and Nick calls me on the phone. Nick has been looking at my sales forecast report and he is unhappy with it. He feels it’s in terrible shape, it includes deals that are really dead, it omits other things, it’s incomplete.

Slowly as the conversation develops, he starts grinding me down, twisting the screws tight on me, slowly and methodically bashing my head in. This guy really knows how to wring me out like a dish rag.

I endure this for 45 minutes or an hour and at the end of the phone call, I say, Nick, thanks for bringing this stuff to my attention, I appreciate the discipline that it represents.

I was totally sincere. Like, I really thought I needed Nick to be some sort of sparring partner for me, that he was straightening me out; that he knew far more about business than I did; that I needed Nick to pound some slag off of me. I believed that this was good for me. I was eating my broccoli. Taking my vitamins. Nick was prepping me for the real world. So I thought.

But as the next couple of days went by I realized I myself was seething with rage. Nick had just called me on a Sunday afternoon and bashed my head in about, of all things, my sales forecast reports. Stupid Excel spreadsheets that were mostly a waste of time anyway. He was filled with contempt and he was trying to pound it into me.

No wonder I felt miserable afterwards. He was trying to slice my fingers off one joint at a time. He had a belly full of rage and he was transferring it to me.

Bottom line, Nick was an abusive person and I was just now beginning to realize it.

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Now the interesting thing is, we had another guy Jim. Jim was one of my very best buddies and we worked there together. Jim had Nick figured out in about a week.

It took everyone else a year, but Jim had him nailed in a matter of days. Jim recognized him for what he was and Jim declared outright war on Nick. Once Jim brought this to my attention, I could see the pattern very clearly.

After that I was no longer under Nick’s spell.

Eventually, Nick was expunged from the company. Good riddance.

Many entrepreneurs are so concerned with delivering value to their customers and clients that when a disagreement erupts, they take the blame for everything. If a customer’s not happy, their first impulse is to say something like, Oh, I’m sorry, I’ll take 20% off the price or something like that. Or he/she spends a ton of time and money fixing some niggling little problem in hopes of making the customer happy.

Mr. or Ms. Entrepreneur doesn’t realize, this isn’t even about the transaction, it’s about someone else, somewhere else, and Mr. Customer is just taking it out on you.

In the process what Mr. Entrepreneur has just managed to do is give all the time and money for the summer vacation back to the client.

So, guess who doesn’t go on vacation? That’s right, the hard working guy and his wife and family take the hit. He deserved the vacation, they deserved the vacation, but the demanding client conspired with the entrepreneur’s people-pleaser personality to rob him of what he deserved.

If you’re a people pleaser, then that’s a good thing.

But don’t let guilt and manipulation turn your people-pleasing skills into a weapon that can be used against you.

Don’t be afraid to fire toxic customers, toxic employees, or any other kind of toxic people from your life.

Either we get rid of this person or we all drown.

Yes, it takes courage… exactly the kind of courage that builds strong businesses and brands. Take courage and do what you need to do – now. And celebrate a happy Friday.

Strength and Honor,

Perry Marshall

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About the Author

Perry Marshall has launched two revolutions in sales and marketing. In Pay-Per-Click advertising, he pioneered best practices and wrote the world's best selling book on Google advertising. And he's driven the 80/20 Principle deeper than any other author, creating a new movement in business.

He is referenced across the Internet and by Harvard Business Review, The New York Times, INC and Forbes Magazine.

47 Comments on “Purging Toxic People (and customers) from Your Life”

  1. On the subject of emotional house cleaning:

    Here’s a really big one, from the “25 things” on my blog entry
    http://www.perrymarshall.com/25-random-things/ :

    19. Conversing with my inner child: Most productive way I’ve found to do that is asking myself a question with my dominant hand (left hand for me) and writing the answer with the “wrong” hand. If you stream freely without editing or judging what comes out, this is how you get in touch with the weaker side of yourself. The effort of trying to write legibly occupies the rational side of your mind, freeing the other side to say what it’s been trying to tell you all along. It’s a great way to get to the bottom of compulsions, addictions and old emotional wounds. Abby Rohrer taught me this. Not only has my inner child told me a lot about myself, he’s also given me valuable insights on a number of other people. The little guy in there is very perceptive and always on the alert. I am now listening to him and giving him his due respect.

    This is actually VERY powerful, it’s one of the best things I’ve learned of all.

    When I feel myself getting triggered by things other people do, and I know my reaction is out of proportion, I curl up with a notebook and start asking myself questions using this non-dominant handwriting technique.

    Most of the time the emotion is identifiable but the memory behind it is not. Not that I have “repressed memories” like some people do, but there is a lot of stuff that gets buried.

    This technique works most easily when I’m really agitated.

    I ask God to help me be truthful with myself. I start asking the weaker side of me what’s bothering me. As much as possible I talk to the inner child like I would talk to any child. Like if I know it’s something that happened when I was four, then I talk to 4 year old Perry.

    Sometimes it’s unproductive and goes around in circles… but sometimes really useful stuff comes out. He tells me a whole story. I often catch myself starting to dismiss what he says because at first I don’t know where he’s going.

    Or sometimes a picture comes to mind and I have to slow myself down and not dismiss it and move onto something else. This is really a function of getting in touch with my intuition and inner emotions.

    So a picture comes out. A story of some kind. It’s kind of like emotional excavation.

    If I have done a thorough job, it’s all out on the table. And I usually have a lot of strong feelings about it that are now simmering.

    At this point the job is now HALF done.

    (Note that a lot of times people argue about the “current version” of a problem or disagreement – say, with a spouse – and never get down to the “original” one which is usually a very similar wound from childhood. Some old button that gets pushed over and over. That button needs to get dismantled for good. This technique gets you to THAT level.)

    But again you’re only half done at this point.

    The next step is:

    FINISH the emotions that are still there.

    Here’s an actual example:

    For a long time I had this dark, depressed sad feeling that could come over me – especially when I tried to sing. It was this stuck feeling, like a lump in my throat. It would come and go for months and months and I could not figure out what it was.

    I finally sat down and did non-dominant hand writing exercises to find out what it was about. I asked myself, “Perry, what is this about? Tell me.”

    An image of a highway embankment quickly flashed through my mind.

    I almost ignored it and went on to the next thought.

    But I’d done this enough to go “whoa, wait a minute, back up… what was that???”

    One of the most important things I learned is that when you do stuff like this is, do NOT ignore the first thing that comes up, however brief or seemingly insignificant. It’s probably the most important clue. Back up and dig it up.

    Here’s the story as I told it to a friend:

    “I did the left hand/right hand writing exercise and asked myself what the suffocating feeling was about. The first thing that came up – so easily I almost skipped right past it – was “Mitsy gets hit by a car.”

    I was 6 years old and our cat Mitsy who’d recently had kittens just kind of disappeared. About 3 days later we found her body on the highway a few blocks away totally flattened.

    I took it very hard, I was very upset all day, then I remember that night I went and talked to my parents about it and after that I didn’t feel bad anymore and I went on with my life.

    OK, so what is that suffocating tickle feeling? Oh, I remember now. I’m walking up the highway embankment and coming up to the pavement. That feeling, it’s…. it’s… the feeling of revulsion that I felt suddenly seeing Mitsy’s flattened body on the highway. I remember my dad scraping it up with a shovel, putting it in a bag and burying her.

    Finish the feelings, finish the feelings — I just figured this out yesterday, last night in the middle of the night I went into that feeling and just kind of laid right there with it for a long time. The disgusting sight of her body, which was barely recognizable as her. Fell alseep.

    This morning I notice, hey, that feeling has disappeared. I think there was just a very little bit of grieving about the cat from age 6 that wasn’t done. I finished it there laying in my bed.”

    So in other words, I still wasn’t quite done grieving the dead cat. So those feelings and those negative emotions stayed there for more than 30 years until I found a way to pull the string and get them out on the surface.

    Many times there are powerful emotions which come up, that you need to finish sorting out.

    There may be anger. Sometimes you need to go do something physical.

    I have a friend who just found out his wife has been lying to him for a year and cheating on him. She’s unwilling to change her course, she’s putting their kids in danger, and he is understandably very angry. So he started taking Tae Kwon Do and I think 3-4 classes a week are a really good way to deal with that anger. Anger is often something that is physical in your body and it needs to be released. Martial arts is a non-destructive, useful way to channel those emotions and get them out of his system.

    There are usually people you need to forgive. Including yourself.

    I’ve found that trying too hard to forgive someone too soon is just a way of covering it up. You need to deal with all those feelings and not try to dress them up in fake forgiveness.

    Most of the time, traumatic childhood events have this way of bringing lies along with them. Your parents got divorced (that was painful enough) but you also believed it was your fault. That lie got buried along with the pain and the thing is, the lie is still alive and active even if the rest of it is long dealt with. You pay interest on lies like that until you get rid of them.

    I think prayer is very important here. I ask, “OK God what do I believe about this that is not true? Will you show me? What do you want me to believe about this – what is the truth of this? How do YOU see it?”

    This, by the way, is the whole basis for Theophostic Prayer. Find the emotion – which leads to the memory – which leads to the LIE that is continuing to cause pain – which leads to it being replaced by the truth.

    I have a very good friend who was raped by his dad when he was four years old.

    The sexual abuse he experienced when he was young caused YEARS of ugliness. Migraine headaches, a porn addiction, sexual problems, all kinds of horrible feelings of unworthiness.

    He used theophostic prayer to get to the bottom of it. Now when he remembers the incidents with his dad, he no longer feels anger or negative emotions. The feelings are finished and the lies have been uprooted. His life is no longer controlled by this stuff. (Sexual abuse tends to produce incredibly complex side effects in peoples’ lives.)

    This process of emotion -> memory -> lie -> truth is very simple, especially when you ask for Guidance. You can apply it successively and untangle years of accumulated emotional garbage.

    One of the benefits I’ve gotten from this is, the more layers of junk come off the more clearly I can sense and trust my intuition.

    Honestly this is some of the hardest work you will ever do. It’s not easy and it’s not fun. But in my opinion, you either face it and deal with it – or you continue to bury it and pretend it’s not there. Pretending it’s not there is exactly why my friend’s wife had an affair. She preferred to anesthetize the pain rather than face it. But you can do this work and save yourself (and others) all that heartache.

    Perry Marshall

  2. Jessica made a great point that
    people usually do not change,
    and with healing or therapy, they sometimes change.

    I think this is very true and this insight has a lot of consequences. It’s huge.

    I want to add some thoughts to this in the hope to give an outline of the scope of this statement.

    First, yes, healing and therapy may change people, but then they rarely change in a way which other people wish them to change.

    Example: If somebody is a great empatic listener ( which is usually liked by other people ) and at the same time has some issues with passiv-agressiv behaviour ( which is usually diskliked by other people ), therapy may change that person into somebody who has his passive-agressive behaviour healed while at the same time he refuses to listen to other people’s problems anymore. Instead, he politely ( or directly agressively ) tells them to take their issues into their responsibility, get professional help if needed, but overall, leave him alone with this kind of cr*p.

    So, hoping for other people to change the way you want them to change is futile in 99.99999% of all cases, i.e., don’t count on that. You will be disappointed.

    But, fortunately, there are some workarounds. :-)

    1. There is one person, everybody can change: him/herself.

    It is not easy at all to change oneself and therapy is usually required and lots of time is usually required, too.

    Example: To cut to the core of my issue with toxic people, as outlined in one of my posts above, has taken
    almost 10 years of psychotherapy.

    So, it’s hard, but it’s possible and it’s doable.

    2. While it is not possible to change other people, it is possible to change their behavior. I explain how:

    Most behavior is controlled subconsciously, and this is especially the case for abusive, destructive behavior.
    (Cutting to the core, leaving all rationalizations and excuses aside, of course.)

    The subconscious mind basically works with reaction-patterns, which usually do not change, i.e.
    pretty much carved in stone for an adult person. ( This is overly simplistic but usually a good working model. )

    A reaction pattern is a rule which consists two components:

    a) An activator which is a pattern-matcher which defines which kind of received information triggers that rule.

    b) And then there is a reaction (or program) which is a set of instructions which is executed when the rule is triggered. Instructions usually include which emotions to create. For the subconscious, emotions are just parameters, information… No big deal for the subsconsious mind, It does not care how much emotions can hurt. If the rule says to create an intense fear, or intense anger it will be created, no exceptions, no ceiling for the intensity. It basically works like a cold-blooded computer: if the program says it, it does it.

    So, if you know the set of rules of some person, you may change the behavior of that person by sending the kind of information to that person which triggers those rules which you want to get triggered.

    This sounds simple but usually it is not simple because:

    a) It is hard to get to know the exact set of rules of another person.
    Heck, it is already pretty darn hard to know your own set of rules.

    b) Most information you send to another person is sent directly from your subconscious mind to the subconscious mind of that other person. That’s a real broadband connection. Yes, and this broadband connection is even intact if you communicate by email with that other person. So, email is not a sufficient workaround. :-)

    c) Programs in other persons are triggered by any kind of information imaginable. Besides the broadband connection between subsconscious minds, it may be triggered by your clothing, by your hairstyle, by the color of your eyes, by telepathy, by the tone of your voice, by whatever.

    d) So, if a program is triggered in somebody, you never know *what* has triggered it because you nevery know which information out of the big amount of information available at all time, is the essential kind of information.

    3. There are ways for changing other people’s behavior without knowing all rules of other peoples subconscious minds:

    a) If you heal the issues in your own subconscious mind, it will usually send different information to other people’s subconscious minds. And that different information usually does not trigger abusive or destructive behavior anymore.

    Of course, there is no guarantee for each specific case, but overall the effect is very significant.

    My own experience tells me that this is the most effective way of reducing abusive or destructive behavior in other people with respect to you. (It is hard to grasp for our conscious minds and feels more like magic than a sound strategy but that’s just an indication on how much our subsconcious minds differ from our conscious minds.)

    b) Most subconscious minds are pretty similar (that’s why splittesting works), and if they are different,categorizing them into several groups ( such as “narcissistic” ) usually provides an idea about their set of rules which is usually good enough as a working model for developping useful strategies for dealing with those kind of people in a business setup.

    That’s why info like from Perry’s last comment on how to treat and not to treat narcissistic people is *very* valuable. That’s also the reason why I have purchased Jeff’s eBook and started to read it…

    ( Warning: That kind of crude classification together with associated strategies is not applicable for closer relationships such as marriage… You have to be much more differenciated in close relationships. )

    c) If you meet with somebody in person, your own clothing can have a significant effect.

    Here’s why I think this is the case:

    Most subconscious programs are formed in early childhood based on interaction with the child’s parents.

    So, if you wear the same clothing as their parents did at home, this may contain the essential info for triggering a program in them. It may be tiny details in that clothing which trigger it.

    If you manage to wear clothing which is completely different from clothing which parents usually wear when being together with their children, you can eliminate all similarities and therefore reduce the amount of subconscious rules triggered in other persons.

    Usually, parents wear casual clothing at home when being together with their children.

    So, everything which is not casual may do the trick:

    * Guess why business persons often wear suits and neckties, even if they hate to dress like that?

    * Guess why police officers wear uniforms?

    * Guess why most people (except software engineers) usually dress well for going to work and usually have a good-looking, tidy hairstyle?

    But, beware, this may not work in all cases: For some people, seeing somebody in suit and necktie triggers a childhood experience of a parent preparing for a long business trip. In those cases, suit and necktie will trigger a program like: “You will abandon me, you are not reliable, I create intense anger, I create intense grief, I don’t want to let you go, You don’t love me, you don’t care about me, you are not trustworthy, …”.

    If you trigger such a program in a client, you have a setup for big problems. And, the program has been triggered before anybody has spoken the first word. Bad framing from the start on…


    So, you see, the issue is complicated and quite a huge topic.

    Some final thoughts on how this can be related to Adwords, splittesting etc:

    It may work to optimize your splittesting not just for increasing your sales but to optimize it for getting sales without getting toxic people. (This works under the condition that people’s reaction to ad-copy or the keywords they enter into Google is correlated with the set of toxic rules in their subconscious minds. And I guess there is at least some correlation… )

    If 80/20 applies to that, I guess that 80% of your toxic customers come from 20% of your keywords and from 20% of your Google Ads, … And that some headlines on your website will trigger more toxic programs in your customer’s minds than other headlines…

    So, with proper tracking and splittesting in place you may not only have a great tool to increase sales but you may use it for other optimizations as well such as reducing toxic behavior of your clients… It’s just a statistical opimization process and you can decide what to optimize with it.

    I hope this info is useful for some of you,


  3. @ Perry and Jeff,

    I must say that this is the most powerful,engaging discussion I have ever had online.

    Up till now, I had ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA how “scary this is”.

    If I hadn’t come across this topic, I think I would have messed up IF I WERE TO DEAL WITH A TOXIC CLIENT.

    No one else talk about these stuff /client management in the Internet Marketing circle.

    Oh Shoot!

    I had to double check the definition of “Narcissistic personality disorder” from Mayo Clinic. May be this def. might help others reading this thread. Sorry Perry!


    Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. They believe that they’re superior to others and have little regard for other people’s feelings. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism.

    Narcissistic personality disorder is one of several types of personality disorders. Personality disorders are conditions in which people have traits that cause them to feel and behave in socially distressing ways, limiting their ability to function in relationships and in other areas of their life, such as work or school. In particular, narcissistic personality disorder is characterized by dramatic, emotional behavior, in the same category as histrionic, antisocial and borderline personality disorders. Narcissistic personality disorder treatment is centered around psychotherapy.

    Hey Jeff,It’s been a sobering discussion and Perry, thanks a billion.

    Whao, did not really know how deep this is. It is bigger than I thought

    I am not trying to take this discussion further.

    I think if there is a way to filter a prospective toxic client, I would rather do it that way than to deal with them in the first place.

    And to support perry point, if your marketing system/lead generation system is as solid as a rock, then you can actually refuse as many PROSPECTIVE toxic clients as you SO DESIRE!


    Thanks guys

  4. The most dangerous thing you can do to a narcissist is back him into a corner; or threaten to publicly humiliate him. That’s a good way to get a giant retaliation. He’ll do all he can to smear you, because the thing he most fears is also a likely tool that he will use against you.

    The best thing to do is gently disengage without insult. Do your best not to injure him or his ego in the process. Jeff, I think your approach of using “I statements” and giving him the options is the most peacekeeping approach. As Solomon said, “A soft answer turns away wrath but harsh words stir up anger.”

  5. Not only possible to fire a client tactfully, but also necessary. I call these “soft landings.”

    If you can imagine what you might do if you felt you were treated poorly by a vendor. How angry you might feel. How many people you might tell of your terrible experience.

    Then magnify that by factor based on a toxic clients hold on reality (which is pretty loose). Perry touched on this when he spoke of Narcissistic Personality. A narcissist can make it highly damaging to disengage.

    The key is to make it safe for the Toxic to leave the relationship. Better still if you can give them the choice to leave.


    Had a toxic client who would become disproportionately enraged when things didn’t work out how he wanted. After the third such episode, I waited a day after and called. Used “I” statements and observations (rather than conclusions). Kept asking if my observations were agreeable.

    With his agreement, I was able to frame a service level that he could agree to. Then admitted it was beyond our offerings.

    I was able to leave him with a choice. He made the decision to leave. He did so peacefully. Actually thanking me for my candor. And, get this . . .

    Sent me a few referrals (which I politely declined). But, at the very least, I didn’t leave him in a place of setting my reputation on fire.

    I assert that this is not only necessary, but also the most responsible. You have a role in your Toxic relationship. A soft landing acknowledges your role.

  6. @Oritseyemi

    Sometimes people change. With lots of healing / therapy. Sometimes.
    Ever noticed that when a person changes, often the patterns of interaction that were initially created are the ones both parties revert back to?

  7. @ Good question Shelly!

    Where were you all along? Just kidding!

    I don’t think anyone in this forum actually thought about how to fire a toxic client tactfully.

    Toxic being what it is. I think we all looked at it from “you dogged me, now I am the opportunity to get rid of you”. And I don’t care how I do that?

    For me, I think once I know that I am now in a better position to really negotiate or renegotiate the terms of business;

    Once I now know that I am not dependent on this toxic client anymore, I will tell you where I stand- unequivocally.

    That is to say, you either take it or you leave. This is how I am going to do things now henceforth. Preferably in a letter to the client. I will put that toxic thing in a position where he/she would be the one to actually leave- uncomfortable position I guess.

    Have you ever received one of those lovely letters from your credit card companies where they SUDDENLY CHANGE THE RULES OF THE GAME I.E “whether you accept these NEW terms or not, this is what is going down”

    Now my question to this ever going topic is this.

    Do toxic folks have change of heart? Do they stop being toxic?

    People change right?

  8. Oritseyemi,

    Interesting point.

    My rational mind agrees with you that location is relevant for getting credibility.

    My spiritual mind thinks that this is delusion.

    So when I combine those two I come to the conclusion that location is one additional challenge to overcome for becoming successful in business, out of maybe 1000 or so challenges. The danger may be to overestimate that single challenge and to associate all problems with that one single challenge instead of giving all other 1000 challenges their due attention.

    (It is understandable to fall in that trap and I have fallen into that trap all the time. In my most extreme case the one single challenge which I concentrated on was not location but problems with specific people. These problems had an impact but I overestimated it and due to this overestimation I was blind for a lot of other challenges which were much more severe and handling them was vitally important… I burned about EUR 60000 before I got *that*. Touching that state of “being broke” can sometimes be a blessing in disguise: You have to stop deluding yourself and start thinking the right way. )

    As to the topic of credibility in the marketing consultant business:

    My impression (and how I handle that both on me being a customer as well as me potentially being a marketing consultant) is that the most important thing before you can successfully and believably claim credibility as a marketing consultant is the following:

    You must have been responsible for the marketing side of a non-marketing-consultant-business making at least one million dollars per year in sales with at least quarter of a million in profit. ( more sales and profit is better, of course )

    Plus, ideally already have helped others to do the same, plus ideally have built other successful businesses outside of the marketing-consultant-business.

    Perry fits those criteria. Dan Kennedy and Bill Glazer both fit those criteria, and there are some more who fit those critera.

    And that’s one of the reasons why I became a client of them. And from my experience with them I am very confident that I made the right decision by applying those selection criteria (plus some more criteria including listening to my intuition etc )


    I haven’t yet succeeded in meeting those criteria myself. And I think that before I even think about starting to seriously offer marketing consulting, I should create a success as describe above. Creating such a success will teach me lots of stuff which I can use to help my clients, so I will be able to offer real, solid value.

    (I am not sure whether I will/want to become a marketing consultant some day, but it is possible. I have passion for marketing…)

    Best wishes to you,


    P.S.: Interesting that you mention Arnold Schwarzenegger’s accent. He comes from the same country which I live in, i.e. Austria. Though our accents are probably very different because he is from a different region of Austria with a very different dialect of German. Since Austria is a region with lots of mountains, dialects vary a lot between area which are only 100 kilometers or less in distance…


    Since you mentioned the phone:

    In my business I work almost completely without the phone. Not because of my accent but because of time-management issues and because of past experiences with the phone where the phone was *the* major tool used in the adult-time repetition of a childhood abuse pattern, which I have not yet resolved completely, so there’d be serious danger to have that abuse pattern rule my business, which, obviously, I do not want to occur.
    (abuse pattern: Being the free, always available psychotherapist/listener/helper/”regulator of emotions” for people. That can drain you of energy in a really serious way if you let it happen.)


    From my experience it can be dangerous and/or cost lots of efforts/energy/money to first define the business you are in and then try/force to make it work.

    I think it’ll work better to look at what’s possible with resources currently at hand, within the challenges, test markets and then do what works. So, defining the business you are in is kind of the last step, not the first step.

  9. Listen, I understand that location is irrelevant in most types of businesses.

    In my business model, I talk with my prospective customers.

    Check this out.

    I don’t care even if you are the “pope”. It will take you a much longer time to convince the world that you are NOT fraudulent if you are a consultant living in countries such as Nigeria, ghana,etc http://www.connectingwatches.com/forums/cfmesview.csp?OBJID=14593 etc

    What you do while you are working at that “convincing time” is what I am saying here.

    Why do you think a lot of these folks from countries such as India, ghana, accept whatever is kind of thrown at them until they are able to find a way out?

    I know a lot of them are able to use a US based company as a FRONT hence they are able to compete as well as US based companies. Of course they have to pay certain percentage of the profit to the us based companies.

    Those in the philippines are doing the same thing now. Using US based companies to front their businesses.

    If your marketing-consulting business demand that you “talk” with your prospective client, and to worsen the matter, your accent is as beautiful as that of Arnold Schwarzenegger, you have more hills to climb no matter how stunning your result is;

    It is going to be more difficult if you are based in counties such as ghana, nigeria most especially with all those stupid letters that they spam the world with?

    Listen, they say marketers sell results. I believe they sell more than results. It has a lot to do with trust also.

    I have to trust you before buying your result.

    Even if you are as “holly” as the pope, and you unfortunately reside and operate from those countries; no matter how much integrity you posses, people still stigmatize you no matter what. They are afraid! But what do you do before convincing them?

    ps: I am currently here in the usa – but for those who are currently operate from there.

    Listen, I am not making an excuse here. I just want folks to know that at times you do what you have to do with ethics and integrity if you find yourself in situations where they have no choice but to deal with a toxic person UNTIL YOU ARE EMPOWERED”

    Listen to arnold’s story, also that of Stallone.
    They had to put up with a lot of crap that were toxic to an extent before they had their break through.

    Stallone had a speech issue, Arnold was a foreigner with that accent of his.

    Were they stupid? In my own opinion, no! In all of that,they still maintained their integrity while they were dealing with their own toxic clients UNTIL they were empowered to kick them to the curb!

    Anyway, it seems as if no one is looking at the other side of the coin here.

    All I am saying is for a second, look at the other side of the coin.

    That’s all!

  10. Oritseyemi,

    As to my experience, your physical location is irrelevant in most types of businesses.

    Today, thanks to the Internet and Google Adwords, you can run many types of businesses on the global market.

    For example, my demorecorder.com business:

    I live in Austria ( which is in Europe ).

    I have no customers in Austria.

    More than 50% of my customers are outside of Europe.

    My Google-campaigns run worldwide, except for some campaigns which exclude specific countries where the numbers are not good, based on evaluating reports.

    I use my old US-based brokerage account to handle US$ based transactions in order to avoid double currency conversions, …

    My online shop and credit card processing is outsourced to a US-based company.

    In fact, if you live in a region where cost of living is cheaper than in the US or Europe, you have an advantage because for covering your cost-of-living you don’t need to make as much profit in the same market (the world market) as someone who lives in high-cost-of-living areas.


  11. @ Perry,

    “I most certainly understand that some people find themselves in situations where they have no choice but to deal with a toxic person. That’s exactly what Nick was. I could NOT get rid of him. I was nearly powerless.”

    The point that I am trying to make here is that when you do not have the power to get rid of a toxic client(power in this sense is knowledge of how things are supposed to work)you have no choice other than to deal with a toxic client until you are well equipped to get rid of them.

    Case in point.A lot of folks who are new to marketing are probably using lead generation systems that are not producing any result. So they probably still hang in there until they are empowered to get a better system like yours.

    Now as soon as they stumble unto your program(s), then they can easily get rid of that “toxic client”. But they had to hang in UNTIL they finally got the power to kick the toxic client to the curb. In this sense, knowledge from a trusted source.

    Do you know how much a lot of folks -mostly new entrants pay for all these marketing courses that don’t seem to produce any result?

    For example, I never even knew of the system seminars by Ken until recently. Ever since I knew of Glen Livingston,even though I don’t have his program yet, I honestly believe that I can conquer the world with that “proven-research system”. Imagine having Glen’s system and researching a market for your client to let them know where they are leaving a lot of money on the table. Then use your lead generation system to structure a lead generation system that produce customers like a steady flow of water from a spring – for your client?

    Best part of a module like that is that you structure it such that you get a portion of the profit that you generate from such deal.

    How can any one go wrong using such a business module that will get you a portion of whatever profit you make for such a client?

    But what do you until you stumble unto Glen’s proven system

    What do you do until you stumble unto Perry’s Hall of Fame lead generation PROVEN system?

    What do you do until you stumble unto Ken’s system seminar that expose you to the latest marketing technology.(not that I have attended one before. Just listening to the past attendees convince me that it is worth it’s weight in gold)

    keyword here is PROVEN!!

    Now I know combining these proven systems will enable you or anyone to stand on a solid rock-marketing wise.

    A lot of folks have spent thousands of money buying courses upon courses until they finally stumble upon your system and that of glen’s.

    Respectfully sir, here is my point. A lot of your students probably have an edge over others who are till trying to figure out things(marketing wise) Because your students are using proven systems that work over and over again.

    But what you do before STUMBLING that avalanche of gold – is my point.

    What you do before you model your system to work in those developing counties is my point. I know I have been quietly studying how companies like Ogilvy operates back there.

    I know in direct marketing, you test, test, test until you get it right. I know adwords make it easier and faster -online.

    What you do before you get it right is my point.
    What you do before you are fortunate to stumble on systems like yours is my point.

    Personally,people like Nick actually bring the best out of me.

    I was in an ugly situation in Boston. Now I am currently here in Racine, Wisconsin. (Although the situation was not as deep as that of Nick) I don’t even wait to get that ugly before I start making moves.

    I realized that the best way I could get my self out of that situation was to instantly doing whatever I had to do to get out of it.

    I enrolled and completed a programming course in client server development program that would taken me 9 months part time; I demolished it within 3 months. I moved from working as a security officer to becoming a database programmer within 4 months specializing in VB, Power builder and Oracle.

    During the dot-com imbroglio , things got messed up.Lost my job, I quickly learned clinical data management skills within a time frame of two months which again in it’s self is not bad!

    Now I am soaking all that I possibly can with proven marketing systems and at the same time studying how companies like Ogilvy does it in Africa.

    Respectfully sir, I don’t do the “why me stuff”. Trust me, it might take me longer time to figure things out.

    The “why me” is not part of my DNA. Just like it took me longer time to get to know about your program, glen’s, Ken’s and Clayton Makepeace.

    But what you do before then is my point.

    Thanks a lot for shedding light on this.

    Really appreciate it and God bless.

  12. Oritseyemi,

    I most certainly understand that some people find themselves in situations where they have no choice but to deal with a toxic person. That’s exactly what Nick was. I could NOT get rid of him. I was nearly powerless.

    As a matter of fact, one time I and the three other sales guys in the company marched into the office of the president of the company on a Friday afternoon and said, “You either get rid of Nick or we’re all quitting. We’ll be back on Monday to get your answer.”

    He relented – he took Nick out of sales.

    But Nick still meddled in the sales department anyway, without consequence. I suspect that because Nick was an investor in the company he was impossible to get rid of. He would have sued us blind and taken the whole company down. The president of the company was between a rock and a hard place. So we still had to deal with him, albeit to a lesser degree.

    (By the way, people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder often devise exceedingly clever mechanisms that make it impossible for other people to get rid of them without destroying everything valuable in the process. When this happens in families – like evil manipulations schemes using the kids – it is truly awful.)

    For the four of us, quitting that job would have been a pretty unattractive option. The way I saw it, Nick would take us all down sooner or later anyway though, so at worst it was lose-lose.

    I had loved that job for a long time and slowly I grew to hate it. All because of Nick.

    Had it not been for Nick I could conceivably still be working there today, instead of doing what I’m doing now. Nick pushed me over the edge and caused me to resolve to never be in a position where I could be forced to be stuck with an evil, toxic person. That has a lot to do with me having the impetus to strike out on my own in 2001.

    BUT: if I had allowed my business to plateau at a point where I was still forced to accept a toxic client, that would be no better. Actually it would be worse because I would have ALL the disadvantages of owning your own business with none of the advantages.

    At least when you’re an employee there are certain ways that an employer at least takes care of you. Things you don’t have to worry about.

    Well here’s the point: If your marketing does not bring you new customers in sufficient quantity and quality to permit you to fire ANYONE who you need to fire, ANYONE who is toxic, then your marketing is failing.

    And frankly I don’t care if you’re in the US or Europe or Asia or Antarctica. It’s still true.

    Also, Oritseyemi, the tone of your posts has this victim mentality – “I live in Europe so I have to live with toxic people and if you disagree then you just don’t understand, just ask Drayton Bird…”

    Well, sir, I seriously question that. I don’t see how the continent you live on automatically consigns you to a life of abuse and gloom. It’s still YOUR choice. Marketing and getting new clients is YOUR job. Do it well and you’ll be in charge.

    Above all, don’t give your personal authority to anybody else. It is yours and yours alone.

    Perry Marshall

  13. If you remember the story of Hadasseh (Esther), she is told by her uncle to go before the king of the Persian empire without being summoned. Beth Moore points out:

    “Sometimes we fear that fighting for what is right will kill us. Then again, it occurs to us that to stand by and do nothing out of self-preservation is to be dead already.”

    Obviously, timing is an important factor to evaluate. Nevertheless thinking you have to be poisoned to stay alive is death already. Just as in the life of Hadasseh, we don’t always write the last chapter.

  14. That reminds me of an agency that I once worked for in Boston Mass.

    One of their clients was a pain in the you know where.

    But she was very powerful and highly connected public figure. She had a lot of these public, powerful officials wrapped on her fingers.

    My agency had to patiently deal with this lady for years. I have no idea why they stomached all her crap for that long anyway.

    But as soon as they stood their ground all a lot of issues, guess what happened?

    They lost that contract. It was not easy. I had no idea how powerful that lady was until then.

    And this happened right here in the usa.

    My point is this.

    While I respect the expert’s stand on this and other issues, you have to read these whole books, modify things most especially when it concerns human behavior.

    While I totally respect your opinion, that of the other experts; while I look forward to reading jeff’s book, a part of me still believe that “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” – if you are in those developing countries.

    In the us, it is easy to kick any toxic client to the curb and still survive big time. But in other countries, even if some parts of Europe, trust me, you want to think twice.

  15. This is what I think a lot of folks should really understand.

    While I totally agree with you and perry.

    It is not really a black or white approach at times.

    Here is a scenario.

    Let’s say you are the husband of that lady that just had 8 kids. In total, the family pack is 14. You were not expecting to be flooded with 14 kids overnight. Your grandparents are all dependent on you. Your junior ones are all still struggling to make ends meet. It is a terrible situation.

    You missed a couple of mortgage payments. You are at the risk of loosing your home. Are you with me?

    You just started your consulting practice things are not that palatable.

    You are very smart. You planned very well before you jumped in the business of consulting.

    All the money saved for rainy days seems to be going faster than you’d expected.

    To worsen the situation, all these happened in a third world country where you cannot run to the government or any other source for some kind of assistance from the government.

    Perry have been to some of these developing counties before. He probably have an idea what I am talking about.

    You’d set up your marketing strategy in such a way that they/prospective clients will come running to like bees get attracted to nectar, right?

    Guess what happened?

    No one showed up for some weeks. All those rugrats need to eat, your wife is not working(she’s got to take care of the kids), the whole world around you seem to be collapsing. You wondering if you should swallow your pride and go back to working for your former boss. Or do almost anything to put food on the table for your family.

    You wondering if God ever existed. You are expecting some kind of miracle to happen!

    Remember there is no salvation army or any form of welfare to ask for assistance in that part of the world. Not even a bank to assist you.

    You got the picture?

    Finally, here comes this toxic client from hell. Really toxic. But he’s got a big contract for you. He’s got the money to pay you.But he is really toxic.

    What would you do?

    Would you let him go, not knowing where the next client will come from? (remember you did not have client for months/weeks before then) and all the ugly scenario as painted above!

    ***let’s even say you had some clients before and somehow you have not been able to catch up with your expenses because you just started. As at that time, no contracts. Nothing seems to be happening as envisioned!

    I am sure you will agree with me that in any business, we go through this kind of “ugly situation”

    Here is my one million dollar question?

    What would you do?

    Would you take the this toxic client, make lemonade out of the toxic lemon(make the best of the very ugly situation), hopefully make some quick money. Take all the crap you can take from the toxic clients, then kick him to the curb or walk out the door without knowing when you next client will show up.

    I think you folks you understand that direct marketing, the way it works in the states and certain parts of Europe e.g UK, does not work that same way in other parts of the world -like that. I know this for a fact.

    Believe me, I know this for a fact. Experts can write as much as they can, it is not that clear cut at times. At least when you look at it from a global perspective.

    Believe me, these things happen.

    I respect perry’s insight on this. I respect Jeff Simon’s insight on this. I totally respect your stand on this as well but if you are in the scenario that I described above and in one of those other countries where direct marketing still need to be modified a little bit before it can work – the way it works here in the states, trust me, you will be forced to think twice before letting go of that toxic client at that moment.

    Believe me, you will embrace that toxic client as if he/she is an angel sent from above, do your very best, get paid, then kick him or her to the curb.

    Worst part of this whole thing is that toxic clients are the same all over the world!

    Trust me, I know this for a fact!!

    This is where a lot of patience, perseverance, etc kicks in.

    I think this is where Jessica was coming from.

    I don’t have a problem letting go of toxic client. But at times, depending on the situation, you have to think twice before you let them go.

    You see, this could go one and on but I trust you will agree with me if you look at it from a global perspective.

    Even drayton Bird did a piece on the difference between direct marketing here in the states, UK and some other parts of the world. http://www.draytonbird.com/


  16. I have to agree with Perry. This is a business not husband and wife relationship. Let’s put Perry’s words into context please.

    I stepped into the business world to have ownership not be pushed around by clients or anyone else. One doesn’t need to worry on pleasing anyone when they know they have marketing strategy and know the value they have.

    I fired four customers last week and good riddance and in doing so, I recieved major contracts because I can focus on those who are nit picking and really want to make business work.

    Ownership is ownership. Business isn’t for someone who loves pleasing to win a client. If you have to do that, you haven’t got a business. You got a job on your hands and I didn’t start a business to be in the same political enviroment and nit picking business.

    I choose who I do business with and I choose who are my clients, period.

    We like to romantise business and how we deal with clients. If you haven’t got posture, if you haven’t got marketing strategy that doesn’t need chasing clients, and if you are not willing to say, “no” when someone steps over the line, then don’t bother stepping in business world.

    Either stay as an employer or self employed but don’t bother stepping into the “Business Owner” world. Business owner is different and one needs to have courage.

    No such thing as walking away. It’s a decision and that’s were many differ. It’s a decision to say, “hey, I don’t need to take this. Bye, bye. There’s the door.”

    The moment I changed and had this attitude, is the moment my business grew fast and with clients I like doing business with.

    Good one Perry.

  17. I totally agree with you.

    We are quick at throwing labels at things that make us red indeed.

    How would we have patience indeed if are quick at walking away from things that situations that would have made us to grow indeed?

    Good luck and God bless.

  18. @Oritseyemi

    Interesting thoughts about diplomacy, I’ll have to read up on the Yoruba’s.

    Regarding gentleness: my comment was directed towards those who are walking closely beside a person who is dealing with a toxic relationship, especially a loved one. For me this was my husband and a family member. I couldn’t make the choice for my husband to ‘let go’, all I could do was speak truth into his life. But gently, so that I didn’t lose a hearing in the process.

    There is a big difference as well, between someone who is toxic and someone who is extremely annoying. Sometimes we want to toss labels at things that make us see red, often those are the relationships that show us our own issues! When we walk away from those we loose, because we walk away from growth. Growth rarely feels good at the time.

  19. @Jessica,

    Here is the deal.

    I am tempted to think/believe that there is a very thin line here when it comes to holding on to toxic people in your life.

    In a business relationship, I think it is safe to let go of that “toxic customer who is from hell” even if you don’t have any back up. I had to think deeply after I read Jeff Simon’s reply.

    Although a gentle approach could still do wonders. While we are on the subject of gentle approach, I think some folks just won’t get it no matter what.

    Now on the subject of being in a toxic relationship with someone you love.

    I think it is depends on how it is defined- i.e if you are married to someone who is really toxic(you going to have to define the extent of how far you want to go with him/her).

    Here is the def. of toxic http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/toxic

    But if it is not a marriage, I think one have to weigh the positive vs negative. That is, even though this person is toxic, am I benefiting more in this relationship,enough to stay in it or ???

    I am tempted to believe that even a toxic person have some good in them. No one is completely bad!

    **** Now this is where culture kicks in. In some cultures, you are actually taught to dine and wine with the devil without having your final objectives unattainable.

    That is, the toxic person believe he/she is winning but the fact is that you are winning.You are in the relationship because you have chosen to be in it and whenever you are ready to pull the plug, you just do it.

    It does not mean that they can in anyway slow you down either! You have your goals defined. You have long suffering, patience, perseverance,etc

    This is the highest level of diplomacy!

    The British, Yoruba’s, are very good with that.

    I like your website though.

  20. Most people feel the need to hold onto the toxic people in their lives until XY or Z occurs. It could be a family relationship, it could be a business relationship – either way, the person being damaged has some goal to achieve before they think they can let go.

    Often those goals are very, very good. The smart thing (like having a backup customer) or righteous thing (like honoring a parent) to do. What is hard to understand when you’re in the situation is that by holding onto the toxic relationship you become increasingly unable to achieve the very goal which you are holding out for. The toxic person is poisoning you, and distracting you from being able to move forward.

    Having watched a spouse walk through this, I can only say that it is very important to gently speak the truth to the person you care about, even when they don’t want to hear it.

    5 An open rebuke
    is better than hidden love!
    6 Wounds from a sincere friend
    are better than many kisses from an enemy.
    Proverbs 27:5-6

  21. @Jeff Simon

    I guess I have never had to deal with a toxic client before hence I did not look at the issue that deep.

    Thanks for shedding more light on it.

    ps: I Checked your website. Good stuff! I already bookmarked your site. Will buy the book.

  22. Oritseyemi said,
    “Before you fire your toxic customer, I think
    1. You must be damn good at whatever you are doing. Really good and be sure of yourself.
    2. Don’t fire them until you have some back up. That is make sure that you have at least a few other customers in your funnel before getting rid of the toxic ones.”

    Respectfully, I must disagree.

    In my experience, the notion that you have to have a replacement client in place before you expunge a toxic client is a vicious fallacy and a death spiral.

    It’s like refusing to let go of a log caught in a current heading for a huge waterfall because you are afraid you will drown before you make it to shore.

    Drown or fall, the result is the same.
    Let go and swim for shore, you still have a chance. And you might find a resolve you didn’t realize you had.

    Toxic clients diminish you. They make you less of who you really are. You can’t be “damn good at whatever you are doing. Really good and be sure of yourself.” with a Toxic client on board.

    Even if you have to retain such a client, attempting to hold on to the relationship for fear of losing the income opens you up for tremendous abuse.

    It’s a vicious cycle.

    First, your client behaves badly.

    Second, you do not sanction the behavior (whether it’s because you are a people-pleaser, have acceptance issues, want to give a reasonable benefit of the doubt, don’t want to rock the boat, or are caught up in another priority, the effect of unsanctioned bad behavior is still the same)

    Third, the standard of your client’s behavior has been set to a new, more toxic standard.

    Fourth, your Toxic client will actually test his new re-set limits. Encroaching ever further across your healthy boundaries each time.

    Fifth, go back to beginning and start again.

    The longer you hold on to that log, the further it gets away from solid ground, the closer it gets to the falls.

  23. Hey Perry,

    Check this out.

    Before you fire your toxic customer, I think
    1. You must be damn good at whatever you are doing. Really good and be sure of yourself.
    2. Don’t fire them until you have some back up. That is make sure that you have at least a few other customers in your funnel before getting rid of the toxic ones. Kind of be diplomatic about it

    About your wife’s dislike of Nick:
    “She can’t quite explain it. Not to his satisfaction, anyway. He argues with her, tells her why she’s “supposed” to like the person or the situation or opportunity. And he wins, because he’s got “logic” and all she’s got is her intuition”.

    One of my most favorite books is the book of proverbs.

    Check out Proverbs 31:10-31.

    Let’s take it a step further. I think there are a lot of things we can actually learn from that book; which can help us as entrepreneurs to skyrocket our businesses.

    That book is such as powerful book, don’t you think so?

    Sorry I had to relate it to the Bible!

  24. Jeff,

    As to marketing your toxic-clients eBook, my intuition is that this could work well with affiliates as a backend product for them.

    I looked at your site (and I consider purchasing your ebook) but I didn’t find any links for affiliates to sign up. ( you should probably add such a link at the bottom of the page where you have those small links to other pages… )

    I am also interested to become an affiliate for your eBook because I am currently working on an ebook for pancreatitis patients and I have an educated guess that there may be some significant correlation between pancreatitis patients and victims of toxic people.

    This has to be tested of course but my guess is based on depth psychology and some knowledge about connections between psychology and physical sicknesses, plus personal experience, so it has some chance to work out…

    In general I think that victims of toxic people will primarily search for solutions for the symptoms of the harm that has been caused by allowing toxic people into their lives.

    The big problem of victims of toxic people is that they don’t realize the problem, so they will not directly look for solutions to the problem but rather for solutions for their immediate symptoms such as physical sicknesses ( the special kinds of which are primarily the consequence of that psychological pattern ) or problems with lack of time or energy, getting not enough done, etc etc etc

    So, potential customers for your ebook have to be captured where they are and then they have to be educated about the problem before they are aware that your ebook can help them.

    Therefore I guess that integration marketing with affiliate partners who offer solutions to the immediate problems such as coping with sicknesses will work best in that situation.

    These affiliate partners probably have to build some high levels of trust with their customers before being able to educate them about the possibility that they may have an issue with toxic people. ( BTW, Perry does a really great job with this education based on high levels of trust from his customer base. Just, look at this discussion. I hope it waked up many of our fellow, silent sufferers.)

    Hope this helps,


    P.S.: I’d appreciate if you tell me how to sign up for the affiliate program for your ebook.

  25. Fun Toxic Boss Story:

    Reg, the #2 guy in our company, but with the El Prez title, had an office on the opposite coast. He was preparing a mailing to sell a client company of ours to 500 of our most precious prospects. He was having the mailing assembled in our office by the clerical pool.

    Reg was big on cheap. Refurbished inkjet printers. Recycled ink. This was back in the early 90’s when the technology wasn’t as good. Short cuts. Short cuts. Short cuts. (Probably why his personal net worth was slightly north of $10M.) Don’t suppose he used recycled spark plugs, filters, and gasoline in his personal Cessna. :)

    For this mailing he decided to spare no expense by getting expensive heavy card bond paper for the intro letter. So, what do you think happened when this expensive card bond paper met cheap recycled ink?

    They didn’t “meet.” At least not where the heavy card bond was folded so they could be stuffed into envelopes. I noticed this coming in from lunch. I actually saw what looked like 12pt, san-serif letters LYING on the table next to the mailings.

    So, I thought I’d be a good soldier and let Reg know he had a problem. Wasn’t my project. I even had my own deadline. I was foolish enough to think I’d get an atta-boy for saving Reg the embarrassment of 500 prospects opening up an attractive sales package only to find 12pt, san serif letters falling into their laps.

    There was a series of calls between us. Where I became responsible for his project and for taking the bullets that he should have shot at himself. I remember this one call distinctly. He started yelling at me. I matched his volume and intensity. He escalated. I escalated. Eventually, I started to recognize what was going on.

    So, I started to de-escalate. In response, Reg escalated further. In each of my responses, I got quieter, calmer, more measured. In response, Reg got angrier, louder, and his language got nastier.

    I realized in that moment, I had solved Reg. Reg, all 5 foot 2 inches of him, was all about bullying and intimidation. He wanted a whipping boy. And if he couldn’t have that, he wanted the intensity, the battle for superiority. He wanted the gun fight. When I calmed down, I had taken both away from him.

    Finally I told Reg, we have 30 minutes until Fedex arrives. Do you want to continue this or did you want to get this mailing out today? He said, “Fine. But, we’re not done. Not by a long shot!” I said, “Whatever you say, Reg.”

    First thing, Monday morning our CEO (the real El Prez, who was out of town, but worked out of our office) showed up. I walked into his office and asked if he heard what happened. He said he had. I told him that was the last time anyone would be speaking to me the way Reg had. I told him that if that was a problem for him, he could fire me. It was an absolute deal breaker for me.

    Strangely, that meeting with Reg never happened. And I didn’t find myself assigned to any of Reg’s projects. A year later, we parted ways.

  26. This topic is close to my heart as well. So close I wrote a book about getting rid of Toxic Clients a few years ago.

    (If you Google “Toxic Clients”, my book sales page is #1, but you will also notice there aren’t any listings on the right. So, No, no guest spots on Oprah, No breakthrough marketing success stories. Undoubtedly, there is an audience for this material, but it looks like it’s an “interruption” audience. Thoughts?)

    I’m heartened to see you getting the message out, Perry. It’s a valuable one.

    I second the recommendation of Hendrix’s books. Primarily because they can be very helpful for finding what in you is attracting them and vice versa. There is a certain sense of freedom from using an 80/20 principle for wiping toxic clients out of your life, but as you can see from some of these comments, Toxic people can slither into your life without you realizing.

    *Here are a couple more tips for ridding yourself of Toxics:*

    – Focus on observations rather than conclusions. (Example: “Perry won’t agree to let me pick his brain over lunch for free” is an observation. “Perry is greedy” is a conclusion.) The better your information the better your decisions. Works in relationships just as well as Adwords. The benefit of focusing on observations is that it takes “you” out of the discerning-what-is-real equation. Projection, guess, past relationship patterns, insecurities, and needs can distort your discernment.

    – “Take them where they want to go” Basically, all behavior has an “intent.” Behavior is at its most basic granule level about need fulfillment. When the Nicks of the world call you up on Sunday to grind you about your spreadsheet, they’re just trying to get their needs met. So, just walk them through the door they want to walk through.

    If you can take your feelings out of the interaction for a moment, you might be able to discern what the intent is. If not, you can ask some direct questions. Try it sometime. “What do you need, Nick?”
    “What does the end of this conversation look/sound/feel like to you, Nick?”
    “Nick? What happened on a beautiful Sunday to get you on the phone this upset?”
    “Boy, Nick. You sound really upset. What happened?”

    If you can ignore the deafening sound of your heart beating upwards of 120/minute for a moment, you can learn a lot in the answers to those questions. One of the most Toxic people I ever knew would go from manic to catatonic with one simple, “What do you need.” Hint: when that happens, it’s not about you!

    – Journal your observations whenever you have a distinctive interaction. Record the particulars as soon as possible. Don’t worry about the order. Right it in bullet points as the observations come to you. This can help you assemble the pieces to the puzzle.

    – Think “Soft Landings” When you figure out you have a Toxic on your hands, don’t get emotional. Don’t light them on fire. Don’t think payback. Remember something in you attracted something in them. You have a role in this little tryst. Honor it! It will significantly quicken your learning curve. (Read: stop attracting Toxics much, much sooner)

    Make the dissolution as safe for the Toxic as possible. We don’t make good decisions under siege. Imagine the options a Toxic will use if they don’t feel safe. Better to be dismissed and ignored by a Toxic than hated.

    – Turn yourself into a finely tuned discernment tool. Yea, I know easier said than done. *Toxics are REPELLED by those who can see what’s real.*

    If you want more info, drop me a line, or start a thread on the Google group.


  27. Perry,

    I was almost in tears when I read your comment…

    You are also hitting it right on the nail on many points with some interesting angles on the effects of this issue.

    There are so many similarities:
    Like, the high-integrity mother with psychological problems, and the repetition of the pattern with not-so-high-integrity people.

    Also I had a boss who first adored me ( but only because he thought that I’d solve some of the company’s problems on a technical level and he’ll get all the praise for that ) and later that turned into demonizing me when he discovered that I was not a magician but just a talented engineer.

    The demonizing especially started after he got a cut of his bonus pay due to problems with cost estimations on a project where additional requirements were added after the initial cost estimation plus my people-pleaser personality has caused me to do cost-estimations on the low side in order to achieve instant people-pleasing, plus I have accepted to engage in negotiations about cost estimations, which is none-sense because that’s like a meteorologist allowing negotiations with him on how the weather will turn out… This may change the weather-forecast but it will not change the weather.

    Actually, most of my colleagues disliked this boss from start on (and I didn’t understand why, back then, I rather wanted to defend him…) and his initial “adoration” of me turned some of my colleagues against me due to jealousy. (Ugly details omitted)

    Anyways, in the end, everybody was happy when he was fired in a diplomatic way during a restructuring. ( But I have forgiven him in the meantime…, though I wouldn’t want to work together with him again… )

    Now, after having healed a major part this topic, my current employee job works out pretty well: Especially, there are no problems with this kind of pattern whatsoever. Actually it’s quite nice there, usually very interesting, too, but also a little bit boring sometimes and the pay is at the low end of my expectations but still somehow OK. So, for a job, I guess it is as good as it can get and compared to my past it’s almost like paradise… :-)

    And running my start-up-businesses besides it works quite well, too, because the job just needs the kind of energy it is supposed to need, and I am productive there. ( major increase of energy-to-result efficiency: same or better output than before but less energy required to achive that. )

    So, even when I will be full-time entrepreneuer again, I do not need to have any fear of needing a job due to business problems because with most of this issue healed, I *am* employable. And this lack of fear is a good for my business projects because fear usually blocks success and lack of fear usually helps with success. (There is just this valley of laziness between fear-driven action and vision-driven action.)


    Your description of the cosmic matchmaking service which matches people-pleasers with narcissists hits it right on the nail. That’s how the world works, not only with this issue but with almost all issues. Better accept it and act accordingly rather than complaining about it. (I guess, you know that already, Perry, but I am writing it for all of you who are not aware of it in its full scope…)


    There is also a positive side to the people-pleaser’s experience:

    Once you have figured out the underlying abuse pattern both on a rational and an emotional/intuitive level, you still have the skills which you have learned in your people pleaser’s “career”, such as a good and very differenciated intuition about what people want and desire etc. These are all skills which are very helpful when you are a marketer. So I guess that many marketers have a similar psychological background…

    Which may explain why, to me, the marketing part of my business projects actually feels like being easy as long as I have the basic howto-information.

    The hard part is to prioritize stuff properly, getting the most important stuff done first, putting more energy into pleasing the patient, understanding, thankful and well-paying customer, as I should, instead of putting my energy elsewhere…

    Because on a subsconscious level that “good customer can wait ’cause he is so patient.”

    Bad habit and bad thought.

    It should be done the other way:

    This kind of good customer has to be served first, with highest priority or else, these good customers will leave
    and what’s left are demanding, impatient customers who don’t pay that well ( or not pay at all ).

    About two weeks ago I started to engineer a turnaround in my main business in order to do better in that respect.

    So thanks especially for your topics related to 80/20, where you often bring a new interesting angle and viewpoint to it.


    P.S.: Marketing has some other interesting relationship with the people-pleaser’s pattern:

    Becoming a marketer helps with healing this issue:

    Learning about some aspects of marketing and persuasion techniques helps to identify the manipulation patterns used by narcissists.

    Because narcissists have a rich repertoire of manipulation patterns and always find a new way to get access to your energy.

    A new way which you haven’t yet identified and figured out how to protect from.

    So, without protection and awareness you figure out the problem rather late, i.e., when you feel your energy-level has fallen below some critical threshold or when some aspect of your life gets out of control…

    Therefore, a book like Mark Joyner’s “Mind Control Marketing” ( which is off the market ) can be a real therapeutic reading experience for a people pleaser.

    But beware when a narcissist reads it. That’s why Mark has taken it off the market.

    P.P.S.: I could continue to write on and on about that topic but if I’d do that beyond reason ( and potentially if you did, too ), then we’d repeat an energy-drain pattern without any narcissist on the scene ( that’s possible, too… this personality trait can be wicked at times … ).

    I think that a constructive way for an extensive covery of this topic may be putting that kind of info into an eBook, maybe even a membership program with continuity, I don’t know. If done right, this will actually help people and may be a good business as well. Maybe I’ll get around doing that sometime, when I have available resources… maybe I should start collecting brainstorming material for now… such a product may or may not be a collaborative work by multiple former, healed people pleasers …

    Sales-letter would probably be easy ( “How to protect yourself from energy vampires sucking you dry”, “7 manipulation techniques frequently applied by vampires which you are probably not aware of and strategies for protecting yourself from these techniques”, “5 case studies”, … )

    Getting traffic would be hard because people pleasers don’t look for direct help for their problem. Instead, they suffer quietly until their body gets sick (of it) etc etc. Could be a good backend/affiliate product for health related stuff or business related stuff, though, and/or doing clever advertising on the content network could work, which needs a lot of insight into the psychology of people pleasers to be done right. )

  28. To sam and the guy like sam,

    I feel for both of you.

    Actually, I know that it is also possible to turnaround a relationship like that, but it is a road that leads right trough hell (for both partners), and intense professional counseling is a must if you want to do that.

    But it may be worth it: You get very strong in the process and you are virtually guaranteed to heal the core issue in all possible aspects, if both partners stay together during the whole process and if you manage to survive it both financially and on a sanity/health level.

    The easier way, for sure, is to terminate the relationship, get the issue healed while in a safe environment and only engange in a new relationship after the issue is really healed on a deep level.

    Best wishes to all of you…

  29. Sam,

    You’re not the only one who has been in this kind of abusive relationship. It happens to many. Did you know that men are physically abused by women more often than women are physically abused by men? Several studies indicate this is the case. And nobody listens to them in the court system and most are too ashamed to admit that it has happened.

    This is not an unusual kind of scenario for a man who is involved with a “Borderline” woman.

    Patterns that have happened once keep coming around again. Until you heal the core, original wound.

    I would guess that this situation probably has a lot of parallels to something that happened to you in childhood.

    This is a situation where you have to stop listening to what she SAYS to you. You must ONLY watch what she does. Which obviously you have done.

    She does not love you. She only loves you in the same manner that an drug addict loves crack.

    I understand that you have feelings of love for her. That is a virtue. You should not be ashamed that you have cared about another person. Even one who has abused you. It is still a virtue.

    But do know that this virtue has been exploited. Hijacked and used as a weapon against you. She still needs to be expunged from your life.

    The only way you can deal with this is to get with some close friends and a counselor. Tell them the whole story. Develop a set of rules and a script for dealing with this woman. Set firm and definite boundaries. She obviously has none.

    You can’t trust your heart to navigate this.
    You need rules and accountability from other people.

    Here are a few books that may help you:

    “Controlling People” by Patricia Evans.

    “Boomerang Love” by Melville.

    “Venus: The Dark Side” by Sheppard.

    “Keeping the Love you find” by Hendrix.

    “Get me out of here: My recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder” by Rachel Reiland.

    Those books will tell you more about the nature of the problem than how to heal it. The healing comes from a spiritual source.

    I suggest healing prayer, such as described at http://www.theophostic.com.

    The Psalms in the Bible are also extremely helpful. As are Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, because they have numerous descriptions of women who grind men to shreds there.

    Congratulations with making a good decision.

    The last time you broke up with her, that WAS the last breakup. You are not going back. Every time you feel like doing so, go inside. Ask yourself, where is that thirst for love REALLY coming from? It’s something much older.

    You can go back and love those parts of yourself. God loves those parts of yourself. You will find if you take the high road, this will lead you into a healing journey. You just need to follow it.

  30. Perry:

    Of all the emails you have sent me over the past 6 months. This one has been the most important. I needed to read the comments. I was thinking I was a fool for falling under the spell of a toxic person, but if it can happen to Perry Marshall it can happen to anybody.

    Toxic people will destroy you. I was in a 2.5 year toxic relationship and every time I would move forward 3 steps in my business. My girlfriend would do something to set me back 5 steps. She destroyed property, hit and cheated on me. What hurt me most was the constant verbal abuse such as her telling me how all of her ex boyfriends were better than me in some way physically or financially. How she was just settling for me.

    I have always been a super achiever but after my divorce 6 yrs ago I lost everything. This person came into my life two years later when I was attempting to rebuild. I broke up with her over 20 times. Each time I would take her back she promised to change and the make-up sex was great. From Dec.15th 2008 until Jan.31th 2009 my business went nowhere because the level of lies and abuse rose to a new height. She lied and verbal abused me knowing that would run me away form our home in Atlanta and I would just go spend the Holidays with my family in New Jersey. While I was away she brought another man into our home during the New Years Holiday. They shared the week together. When I returned I found his shower gel. She verbally abused me for accusing her of cheating. I found his number in her cell phone and when I called him he was honest and felt used himself because he thought they were in a relationship as well. She still said they were just friends and blamed me for the whole incidence – I was insecure. She went on a rant for 2 hours about every little fault and thing I did wrong in the relationship. I drank a whole bottle of wine to drown her out. I left her last Sunday Feb 1st 2009 at 1:30 am. I drove all the way to New Jersey. After I left she sent the other guy a email blaming him and asking him how could he share imitate details of their relationship with me. She professed her love for him and said she wanted to be with him. He forwarded me the email he felt I should have the truth.
    She got so deep into my head that I still love her and parts of me wants to run back and say I forgive you let’s try again. But my mind says you are a fool if you do.
    So I have been healing day by day and Monday is the first day I go back to running my business since Dec 15th.

    So Perry you are right toxic people should be removed from your life sooner than later.

    You were a great guy to me before Perry but now knowing you rose above abuse from Mom and Nick you have become my hero and I look forward to the day I can afford to sit at a roundtable meeting with you.

  31. Dear Perry,
    This story certainly hit a nerve with me. For each activity we perform in our business we track the time spent against the customer. Each year we rid ourselves of al least 5 customers that have been unprofitable during the year before. When we tell them they cannot believe we have the audacity to let them go. They get into a bit of a rage and ask to speak to the boss. I tell them “You are”. Now what are you going to do about it !!! Life is too short. Look after the 95% of customers you can make continue to satisfy rather than the 5% you never will.

  32. Chris,

    How right you are. You hit the nail right on the head on a whole bunch of points. Bravo for digging deep and figuring this stuff out for yourself.

    I think there’s a yin/yang north pole/south pole attraction that happens in the world, where people-pleasers get matched up with narcissists. The results are really ugly.

    In the case of Nick, he talked a good game (and in many ways played a very good one too) but I thought he knew more than he actually did.

    I thought he was more competent than he was.

    I thought he had more to teach me than he really did.

    Truth is, he had much to teach me, but not in the way that I thought.

    I only learned so much from his competence. I learned much more from his incompetence.

    I gave my power away to him. At the time I was a twenty-something sales manager trying to grow a small company, with no road map. My head was pretty much screwed on straight, but Nick made me unsure of myself. He convinced me he knew vastly more than I did.

    Much later a strategic partner of our company gave me a little talking to. He said, “Perry, Nick thinks he knows how to run this business. Wrong. Perry, YOU know how to run this business. Nick thinks he knows how to treat customers. He doesn’t. YOU know how to treat customers.”

    It’s only been in the last year or so that I’ve come to fully understand what was really going on with Nick, why the dynamic was the way it was.

    Nick was actually like my mom. I only recognized this years later, though. Also, my mom is a very high integrity woman with a chemical imbalance. Nick was actually a highly unethical man. I do not mean to dishonor my mother in any way; I’m just sharing what I discovered.

    My mom went bipolar when I was twelve years old. I am guessing that Nick has Borderline Personality Disorder, which is somewhat similar to bipolar.

    People with BPD are usually extremely gifted and intelligent; they do everything with drama and flair; they crave adulation from people pleasers, who feed their narcissism; and they have VERY deep insecurities and fear of rejection and abandonment.

    They are prone to fits of rage and tirades of verbal and emotional abuse when threatened or cornered. They will grind you to shreds if you let them.

    They can dish it out but they can’t take it. They can swing from adoring you to demonizing you with contempt and jealousy at the drop of a hat.

    There is always a trail of dead bodies in their wake. The people pleaser initially thinks Mr. Borderline must have just been misunderstood by all those other people who can’t stand him anymore. The people pleaser thinks he’s going to be the exception.

    He is very wrong.

    For awhile, the people-pleaser blames himself or herself, assumes responsibility for the problems in the relationship, tries to fix everything, and internalizes all of this damage until he or she starts to become sick or unable to function.

    Push eventually comes to shove. You can only swallow so much poison. Either you begin to figure out the pattern and make corrections or else something somewhere is destined to shatter. Or maybe both.

    I could regale you for hours about the damage Nick did to our company. He was an insidious force of evil. He made some great contributions, but he also nearly took us down.

    EVERYONE was relieved to be rid of him, after he left.

    While I was going through it, it was pure misery. I’d wake up in the morning, open my eyes, look at the ceiling, and think, “What evil deed has Nick already committed, that I will now discover when I arrive at the office today?”

    The battles I had with Nick were eventually a blessing in disguise. The process of confronting Nick built up my armor and prepared me for the challenges I would face as a consultant. After dealing with Nick I wasn’t afraid of anyone.

    What I have discovered about this is: Until you get to the core of the original pattern, it keeps repeating itself in various scenarios. The quicker you recognize it and seek out the healing you need, the faster you get the Nicks of the world off your back and you can get on with the real business of life.

    Perry Marshall

  33. Perry,

    I was in business for 20 years and 6 years ago my company went down the tubes. For 20 years the title on my business card read “President.” So although I dealt with difficult customers at times, I was shielded from the viciousness many employees experience from customers who have a chip on their shoulders.

    After losing my company I had to get a job in sales and that’s when I experienced the nasty side of humanity towards the common worker.

    You see I was no longer “El Presidente.” I was now a regular Joe with a business card title of sales consultant. Well, in one year I experienced more abuse and condescending treatment from customers than in the 20 years I was in business for myself.

    To add insult to injury I even questioned myself when I was told by one of my employers that I had a problem “adapting” to my new situation. Honestly, my problem was not adapting to my new status as an employee, but adapting to take crap from a** holes.

    Well, I never did adapt. After two years of Dilbert’s cube I flew the coop and launched my first info product.

    I’ll tell you what I did adapt to. I adapted to accepting the fact that as an entrepreneur I am unemployable.

    My story came to mind when I read a post above by Frank Tibbetts who fired his client Jerry for pushing one of his customer service reps to tears. My hat off to Mr. Tibbetts for doing the right thing.

    Early in my sales career I was told the customer was always right. Nonsense I say! Not when it comes to disrespecting an employee making an honest living.

    Frank Prieto

  34. I know from experience that, if you have people-pleaser personality, it is *really hard* to cut contact with abusive people, even hard to just say “no” to some specific things, without cutting contact completely.

    The reasons for that is a deeply engrained fear of what happens when you say “no” to abuse.

    In a self-destructive people-pleaser personality, this fear usually is rooted in childhood in the following way:
    In this case, you had to please your mother or father or both in order for them to be able care for you.

    In other words, the setup was weak parents who you had to support as a child in order for them being somewhat psychologically stable, so they can care for you.

    And as a child, you know or believe that your *survival* depends on your parents being able to care for you.

    So, you do *everything* to keep them stable.

    And you will never ever dare to say *no* if they demand your energy, because you know that they may fall as a consequence and you (and your siblings) are left over without care.

    Plus, you consider that situation as *normal* because you know no other way to deal with people. So, you not even notice that this was abuse.

    Such a childhood experience usually transforms in you being very *valuable* to certain kinds of abusive people, so you attract them like a lamp attracts flies in the dark.

    This leads to you spending all your energy for abusive people, which means that as a result you are expunging those people who are good for you because you are wasting all time and energy for abusive people.

    This means that, even if you sometimes meet and get to know people which you really enjoy working with or being together with, chances are high that contact with those people gets lost because your constant struggle with the ever increasing stream of abusive people entering your life, does not allow to keep contact with people who you like to work with or who you like to be together with.

    Life can become quite a mess if you allow this to happen. Trust me, I know from experience.
    You may feel like a desert-flower, who blossoms in a beautiful way, about once every 10 years, for a few days. And between those rare occurrences, is in constant struggle of survival.

    But there are also positive aspects to it: A true people-pleaser personality usually has so much compensation power, that for some time, some levels of success can be achieved despite these personality traits. That’s why lots of people-pleasers end up in high paying employee jobs or having businesses of their own.

    The high compensation power is a result of you having had to emotionally support your parents, even as a one-year-old child. If you can do *that*, you gotta have some serious amounts of power and you have got some *intense* training in maximizing your own power. After all it was perceived as a life-or-death issue.

    However, this compensation power is limited, wears out, leads to severe crisis and sickness. And what’s especially tricky: the amount of compensation power available to a person *declines with age*. And that decline starts approximately with age 20 or even earlier. It’s no coincidence that some percentage of successful people end up having pancreatic cancer or similar severe, life threatening health conditions.

    In my case, I started a turnaround 10 years ago, and I am still struggling with those issues but I am starting to get awareness on the whole scope of this issue. It’s *huge*.

    Since I started the turnaround when still below 30 in age, I didn’t get pancreatic cancer, but *just* pancreatitis about five years ago and I healed it completely and even managed to develop ways of creating well-tasting meals despite a very strict diet-regime during the healing phase.
    ( I will write and sell an eBook on how I did *that*… )

    Nowadays, my life is just a semi-mess and it seems that I am on a track to resolve the remaining mess, too.

    So, to summarize, the topic of Perry’s post is very important and if you have issues with not being able to say *no* to abusive people, you have to make it your *number one priority* to resolve this issue. You may need to get professional help in form of a psychotherapy. Actually I highly recommend to do that.

    Hope this wakes up some of you,


    P.S. My feeling is that “ADD” is just a special form of symptom which comes out of this kind of abuse-pattern. I was never diagnosed ADD but I know that my attention in school was at times very limited, but I managed to compensate with intelligence, so nobody noticed. :-)

    Actually I think, that some of the symptoms of mild “ADD” are really an attempt to regain sanity. Especially in school, you know that your time is wasted most of the time, especially if your intelligence is above the bottom 20%. Yeah, school is 80/20 rule in reverse: 80% of the time is spent to explain stuff in a way that even the bottom 20% get it. This means that 80% of the children get their time wasted, which *has to* feel like abuse.

    The other symptoms of ADD ( i.e. putting your attention to every distraction ) is a pattern which comes from pleasing this distraction with your attention because you also had to please your parents with your attention, such as listing for hours to the psychological problems of one of your parents. And giving that kind of attention to one (or both) of your parents also was a distraction to your own personal development.

    So, don’t try to cure ADD by forcing attention or by training attention –> this will make things worse because it repeats the abuse pattern.

  35. Hi Perry,

    Right on! As always. To work in some environments and with toxic people can be lethal. Physical and psychological. It is a serious matter. As you say, there is no time, or we all drawn. thanks, happy Friday to you too.

    Here is my story…

    “You are not allowed to talk about behaviors any more,”, said my boss, a couple of weeks before my resignation.
    Read more…sorry, is a little long to post here…


  36. Hey Perry! Long time reader, first time poster…

    I encourage everyone to take the obvious next step and shovel out as many foul relatives and in-laws as you can.

    It can be tough, but I’m here to tell you that you can’t believe how much better you feel once you haul up your slacks and let em’ have it.

    For years, my wife’s family had treated our house as their own, not realizing that they we’re just visiting their daughter and sister, they were visiting US.

    The father in law is one of those chaps who passively aggressively picks away at little things and they stack up on you until you snap…and you look like an overreacting orge because it was such a minor point.

    It finally came to ahead where he blew his stack over, of all things, our TV remote, and began peppering me with names and language that was vaguely biblical in tone.

    Finally! An opportunity to get this situation fixed up!

    You see, one does not address me, in my house, in front of my 3 year old son, like that.

    He managed to catch a little air going off the top step, and it’s been fantastic ever since.

    No pop in’s. No snippy comments from the peanut gallery.

    And everyone knows to mind their manners and remember they’re guests in someone else’s home: if we don’t condone behavior like that from toddlers, we shouldn’t put up with it from adults either.

    The mother in law is always welcome (she’s a pretty terrific grandma, I should say), but Dingus has been banned.

    I’ve made my point clear that I have no desire to hash this out and point fingers and recriminate, but he does need to come up with something along the lines of “You know, I’m sorry about how that all happened”. I’d shake his hand and fill him with bread and salt, as it were.

    But he never will. And we’re okay with that too.

    Once word had spread to our families, life became a lot easier.

    No more guilt trips about driving 500 miles through a Canadian winter with 2 toddlers to spend Christmas with relatives who, quite frankly, one wouldn’t associate with on a bet if not related.

    No more uninvited ‘loved ones’ dropping in and using us as some kind of all inclusive resort and taking up space which we require for other purposes.

    No more guilt trips about coming those 500 miles and helping with ‘family tasks’ like painting houses and shingling roofs.

    No more relatives barging in an interfering with ‘family tasks’ like painting houses and shingling roofs. (kidding, we outsource, but you get the idea)

    And perhaps best of all: no more unsolicited advice or belligerent questions.

    All is very polite, very cordial, and very pleasant.

    We’re free to live our lives according to the values we’ve chosen, as opposed to defaulting to the erratic mess we grew up in.

    We celebrate it like the French celebrate Bastille Day! :)

  37. Perry,

    This very thing forced me to start my own business. My last employer would take any and all clients and literally force them on me and my staff.

    Of course, the employer got the same amount of pay for the same amount of work (virtually all and none, respectively) regardless of the endless hours and ridiculous requests of many of these clients. It simply didn’t matter to them: they got theirs whether it took us 15 minutes or 15 hours to complete (all for the same pay.) Talk of firing a customer was tantamount to slapping the Pope.

    Employee turnover was high, the system archaic and within a year, the company went under. And I made a move to salvage what I could.

    Loyalty isn’t taken, it is only given and it is a two-way street. If you want sub-standard performance, treat employees as sub-standard assets. Mediocrity is an easily achievable goal.

    My business hand-picks clients as well as sales associates to assure only quality business crosses the desk. I act as the buffer between client/staff. If I determine I spend too much of my time dealing with “problem” clients, I cull them. It’s a balancing act between good customer service and abuse.

    There is no money in nonsense. It hurts the bottom line and the morale of the organization. As the leader, it is my job to assure both clients AND service providers are kept happy. That is the way to develop durable brand and reputation on both ends of the same stick.


  38. Billy,

    All the major toxic people I’ve had in my life: One thing they’ve all had in common is, even though I liked them, my wife didn’t.

    Very common scenario with men: The man likes someone or some thing or some business or some opportunity, but his wife doesn’t.

    She can’t quite explain it. Not to his satisfaction, anyway. He argues with her, tells her why she’s “supposed” to like the person or the situation or opportunity. And he wins, because he’s got “logic” and all she’s got is her intuition.

    But… in the end, she turns out to be right anyway. Heaven only knows *how* she knew, but she did.

    I hope I don’t ever make that mistake again. (Laura didn’t like Nick and there’s been a short list of other people she also didn’t like. I can think of one instance where a person she didn’t like turned out to be really beneficial. But she didn’t OBJECT to him, she just didn’t personally like him. The other ones, she specifically objected to.)

    The “hey bub, listen to your wife” bit of wisdom.


  39. As you mentioned in the article your friend Jim picked up on Nick’s issues immediately. I too have been in groups where one person is trouble, disruptive, always causing problems and find myself amazed that others do not pick on this. My solution is to just remove myself from having any contact with the person. Not so easy when you are in a work situation. But I agree, cut the loss, remove the thorn, wipe them from your life. Some people live to aggravate you, if you allow them.

  40. Amazingly I have been told by bad clients that “you can’t run your business with rules like that” and my reply is ” Oh yes I can and I will” “Please go find someone else to work with.”
    Set your business boundaries the same way yoou set any other boundaries and stick to them. You definitely can and should do that. Your reward will be the good clients you deserve.

  41. Besides toxic customers and bosses, it’s critical to expunge toxic friends and even family members. My time is increasingly scarce. So after hanging out with people, I have to ask myself, “Was this an energy boost or an energy drain?” If it’s a drain, I’ll have to be busy the next time they call…and the next.

    Toxic people aren’t always mean. They just have different values, beliefs and attitudes.

    Thanks for the reinforcement with this post.

  42. Perry,
    I can spot them a mile away now. When you’re young and stupid (you’re basically stupid in your twenties), you think you need all those customers and people in your life.

    By getting rid of them you open up your “Kingdom” to those worthy of you.

    Get rid of the energy, time and money sucking people in your life. I did.

    Thanks for letting me rant,
    Greg Colosi

  43. Hi Perry, In my former life as President of a Protective Coatings company, I had one of our customer service reps., Ann, come into my office in tears after getting blasted by Jerry, a client. I calmed her down, got the details and called Jerry back. He was very pleasant to me but my decision was already made. I said “Jerry, you always want the best price, want the product yesterday, have trouble with the product, take too long to pay and now I discover are nasty to the girls trying to be helpful.” I am asking you to do us all, including yourself, a favour! Take your business elsewhere and good luck.” “Have a great day Jerry.” …and Ann’s nightmare was gone.

  44. I’ve increased my wealth due to cherry picking and even turn down prospects that approach my telecoms company who are “toxic” time and resources wasters.

    Something I was afraid to do in the sence that I thought I’d be throwing away perfectly good business but in truth I have focussed on my top 20% of clients and as a result they have become more profitable and have recommended me onto others like them!

  45. Good morning Perry,

    Yes, I agree. And expunging IS the word for it.

    Here’s how I see it. Life is too short to get a personality transplant to try and please all people. Let those that don’t fit fall away. I can’t get my arms around them, too.

    That goes double for whiners, complainers, pessimists, and malcontents. There just isn’t enough room here on the parade float, right?

    I enjoy your insight. Sure hope we can meet one day. :) (There is a special swivel chair here at the front of the float with your name on it. You may have to duck periodically for the dancing bear though, OK?)

    Sincerely yours in parenting success,
    Debra Sale Wendler

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