Join My Proposal Writing Crash Course (It’s Free!)

Take your first step and join thousands of professionals who improved their proposal writing with my free video course. Your privacy and email address are safe with us!

Why Are You Working Today?

why are you working today

It’s a simple question. Why did you come into work today?

Why do you get up every morning, get dressed, and commute to the job you have?

You could have any job. So, why do you, day after day, go to the one you have?

If you are sitting there without a clear answer to this question, now is the time to figure it out.

I learned my answer over a decade ago. To understand mine, and maybe get some perspective on your answer, I first have to tell you what I learned from a guy named Wing.

Wing’s Lesson

Wing was the Lead Mechanical Designer for an engineering firm I worked for. He had been there for many years and personified the definition of “company guy.’

He was the first one at the office in the morning and the last one to leave at night. Wing’s commitment to the firm was unshakable. If you were unlucky enough to go in over the weekend, you would probably see Wing there.

He was one of the most well-respected people in a 600+-person firm. Everybody loved Wing, including me. Even the President of the firm would happily share stories about Wing (like when David Letterman included him in a comedy bit).

Wing proudly displayed various pictures of his son and daughter throughout his office. Despite his success at work, these were his two crowning achievements.

Wing’s sense of humor and outlook on life was legendary. In fact, it helped me through a scary time in my early career.

My Probation

As a young marketer, I was tasked with conducting a marketing presentation for our office every quarter.

At that point, I was a terrible public speaker. Although I felt comfortable in everybody’s presence, once I stood in front of the office I became a bundle of nerves. My quivering voice and shaking hands made my lack of confidence apparent.

From the audience, Wing interjected, “Remember, you still on probation!”

I had been with the firm for three years!

But that was Wing’s way of telling me, “Hey, you are among family, this is no big deal.” To this day, once someone cracks a joke at me my nervousness goes away.

What A Robbery Taught Us About Work And Life

A couple months from that day, Wing developed brain cancer. As I said, Wing’s commitment was unshakable. He would still come into work. He was still the first one in and the last one out.

But we were seeing Wing slowly lose his battle against cancer. He lost weight. He underwent surgery but would still walk into the office with a giant scar around his head.

Chemotherapy was adding to the attack against his body. The admins would bring him food, but Wing was unable to eat.

Before our eyes, Wing slowly died. There was nothing we could do about it.

Practically everybody at the office attended Wing’s funeral. During the funeral, Wing’s daughter walked up to the podium. She was clearly distraught and inconsolable.

With tears streaming down her eyes she said, “I feel robbed today. My father spent so much time at work that I never got a chance to know him. Many of you people here know my father better than I do. So all I can feel is robbed.”

Among the rough and tumble engineers and construction professionals, there was not a dry eye in the crowd. As we walked back into work, my office cohorts looked like zombies. Reality had slapped everybody in the face, including me.

On that day, something became quite apparent to me as I questioned why I decide to come into work every day.

It’s For Our Family, It’s For Their Family

The reason we work has less to do with us and is more about the people we love.

Some people proclaim to “love what they do.” But if you really question them, they are most likely to admit that there is something that they would rather be doing with the ones they love that doesn’t involve marketing construction-related services.

Why is this important? Because your job is to keep the people at your firm employed. And like you, they work to support their families and the people they love.

That’s a heavy burden to bear. Heavier if you ever witnessed or conducted layoffs. And although it’s sometimes tough to put in the extra effort or get out of our comfort zone, we must not forget why it is we do what we do.

Work To Live

We also have to make sure we provide the appropriate attention to our loved ones. It’s import that we communicate the importance of this mission for our families at home and our extended families at work.

There is an old saying that goes, “You work to live, you do not live to work.” Truer words have never been spoken.

If you do not care about the people you work with…

…if you do not view and treat them as your family…

…if you do not concern yourself with their family’s well-being…

…find another job!

Someone somewhere entrusted you with the responsibility of helping to keep your co-workers gainfully employed. Therefore, you have a moral obligation to be effective and conduct every day, and every task, with the importance it deserves.

And today is the day to start.

Share Your Why

Now it’s your turn to share with the group. Why are you working today? There are no wrong answers.

Share yours by posting a comment below.

Why Marketers and Owners Don’t Always See Eye To Eye

How many marketers have rolled their eyes because a firm owner “just didn’t get it?”

How many owners have wished marketers would stop for a second to appreciate that they know what they’re talking about?

Today, I’m going to share why this division exists. Plus, I’ll explain how the late 80s hair-metal group, Extreme can help come to grips with this situation.

Shadow Boxers

I know what you are thinking. How can the love ballad, “More Than Words,” help here?


It can’t. No, we’ll have to dig deep into Extreme’s discography, deeper than anyone would ever care to go, to find our answer.

Hey, nobody can deny that More Than Words is a catchy tune. If back in the day, you bought the cassette single…nobody could blame you.

And if you decided to buy their album…well, maybe you thought you’d find some other catchy, toe-tapping, gems. Who can judge you for that?

But, if like me, you didn’t do any of that and made the conscious choice to buy their follow-up album…

…there is no way to justify that. And you better find a way to rationalize that $15 investment. It has taken 24 years, but I’ve done it.

It, in fact, provides the answer to this age-old dilemma.

3 Sides The Every Story


The concept behind Extreme’s “III Sides” album is there are three sides to every story:

  1. Yours
  2. His/Hers
  3. The Truth

Now, let’s apply this concept to marketers and owners.


As a marketer, you’re hired by an owner (or member of his/her leadership). Your job is to grow their business.

You’ve gone through four years of school. You’ve attended classes, read books, and sat through presentations about marketing. You may have even taken tests and been certified. Marketing is what you do. You live and breathe it.

But when you tell Owners how to market their business, what do they say? No.

“We will do it my way.”

Huh?!? What?!?

Let’s get this straight. They are a technical professional. They have a technical degree. They took technical classes. All day long, they work on management and technical related things.

They have NO marketing training. Zero. Zilch.

They think the choice between the shotgun and rifle approach is made based on the animal you are hunting. They think a vertical is a measurement of height.

And when you talk about marketing, they look at you like you are from Mars.

It’s shocking and disturbing that they’ve been in business this long without an ounce of marketing.

You give them the answers they need. But they don’t listen to you, which seeing that they hired you for marketing is incredibly ironic…

…monumentally stupid…

…and wasting everyone’s time.

You see other marketers, like that lady from the construction company. Her firm made her Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). They gave her a “seat at the table.” They listen.

Why are you wasting your time with your owner?

The audacity of these owners is only matched by their naivety.


As an owner, the first thing you do isn’t hire a marketer. No. You start small (maybe one or two people). Over a few years, you bring in clients, do great work, and build your business into a multi-million-dollar operation.

Only then would you consider hiring a marketer to assist you in further building that business. And you’re not hiring Seth Godin or David Ogilvy. No, you are hiring a kid a few years out of college.

So, this kid comes in and tells you that you’re doing everything wrong.


You’ve built a multi-million-dollar business.

What have they done?

What qualifies them to say their way is right and yours is wrong? A piece of paper and a few classes?

You’ve learned from real world experience. If what you do is wrong, you wouldn’t have been able to build a business big enough to hire them. Right?!?

Now the marketers want a “seat at the table.” But they are not professionals licensed by the state. In some states, giving them a “seat at the table” would make your firm INELIGIBLE to perform professional services. Why would you kill, or even jeopardize, the business you built just to make some kid feel important?!?!

The audacity of these marketers is only matched by their naivety.

The Truth

The truth is the third side. The truth is sometimes hard to hear, particularly because it doesn’t align exactly with the marketer’s or owner’s perspectives.

It is true. Those marketers haven’t built a multi-million-dollar business before. If they had, they wouldn’t be working for owners. They have to recognize, appreciate, and accept that fact. For any owner to blindly follow their direction would be foolhardy.

Marketers also have to recognize and appreciate that owners are not going to give just anyone a significant ownership stake in your business. Further, marketers have to understand whether that would even be viable in their firm’s situation.

On the other hand, owners have to recognize what they don’t know. Yes, it’s OK to ask your marketer to backup their advice. It’s OK not to blindly follow some kid’s advice.

But it is not OK to assume. It’s not OK to assume you know anything you don’t have solid written data to back up.

Yes, nobody knows your business better than you. But that’s like saying nobody knows your body better than you. It’s logical to feel that way. But if a blood test says you’ve got cancer…

…you’ve got to accept that data doesn’t lie.

Yes, your grandmother smoked three packs a day and lived till 107. But that’s not proof that cigarettes are healthy. It doesn’t justify ignoring your doctor’s data.

Owners like to think their business is unique. But the reality is that while every business is unique, just like every body is unique,

When your doctor, or marketer, shows you proof, you must accept it for what it is…


Why Owner’s and Marketers Don’t Always See Eye To Eye

You have to remember that there are three sides to every story. And while your side is right, it’s never the whole story. You have to look at every issue from all three sides.

3 Big Takeaways From Build Business 2016

Thomas Jefferson at Build Business

Last week, I attended the Society Of Marketing Professional Services’s Build Business Conference here in Philadelphia. It’s the biggest conference related to marketing and business development in the construction industry. Here are my three biggest takeaways from the week. Forget Hamilton…Be Like Thomas Jefferson (Or Maybe Michelle Martin) Before the conference even started, I participated […]

Continue reading...

Win More Shortlist Presentations

Sometimes contracts are won based solely on proposals. But more often than not, the final selection depends on your ability to win it during the “shortlist presentation.” Recently, I asked Erica Olson, author of Speak Simple: The Art of Simplifying Technical Presentations to give us some pointers on improving our shortlist presentations. Here’s a portion […]

Continue reading...

Why You Should Never Have To Fill Out A Form


I hate filling out forms. And it’s time to be honest. You hate forms too. When someone hands us a form to fill out, he or she might as well be stabbing us in the heart. And we’re left there wondering, “Why do I have to fill this out?” It just feels like needless work. […]

Continue reading...

How To Network With Older People

Networking with older people

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was in my early 20s and my boss expected me to network with senior people working for potential clients. These people were fifteen years older than me. How was I supposed to network with someone in a completely different age group? My kids weren’t entering into college… […]

Continue reading...

Are First Impressions Really That Important?

Are first impressions that important?

It’s an accepted fact, right? First impressions are critical in the business world. They are especially important if you’re trying to sell services. In seven seconds a potential client will determine whether they’ll buy from you or your firm. If your shoes aren’t shined, a hair is out of place, or you stumble on your […]

Continue reading...

How To Move People To Action

Last week, we explored why people make illogical decisions. And I explained the concept of the elephant and rider. Almost immediately, I got this question: “Matt, where are you going with this? What do I do with this information?” Ha. That’s a great question. I certainly want to give people actionable advice. What Action Should […]

Continue reading...

How To Finally Understand Illogical Decisions

Have you ever been frustrated by an illogical decision a client, coworker, or friend has made? You just look at it and ask, “What are they thinking?” They’d have to be insane to make that decision, right? It can make you want to pull your hair out. It can make you want to scream at […]

Continue reading...

Secrets of the Selection Committee

Secrets of the selection committee book

Did you ever wonder what’s going on in the heads of the people evaluating your proposals? Today, you’ll get some insight into what it’s like being on the other side of the equation. What is it really like to serve on selection committees? What secrets do these people hold? What are they not telling us? […]

Continue reading...