In a recent feature I saw on LinkedIn, the author talked about purging your life from those that make it miserable. “Buzzkills” she called them.

Well, in the business world, I call them “Vampires.”  I wrote this feature about 12 years ago when I was pretty new at this blogging and social media thing, so I thought “What the hell, let’s see if I actually knew what I was talking about.”  Surprisingly, “Vampires” are always relevant.

I hope you enjoy. 😉  (This post was originally published at

business vampires


This morning, while still sound asleep (where I do my best thinking), my eight-year old son walked into my room. Of course, he doesn’t nudge me, or say a thing, but I knew he was there. I shot up (as best I could for four in the morning). “What’s up, Bubba?

“There’s a Vampire in my room.” His voice trembled. He was sniffling and I could see traces of tears that had been wiped away. My shoulders dropped.

“Let’s go look…” I rolled (literally) out of bed, put my hand on my son’s ruffled hair and walked him to his room. “… Now, you know there’s no such thing as Vampires, right?”

“uh-huh…” sniff.

I turned on the light and looked around the room. “Now, did you invite any Vampires over last night?” I asked him.

“No.” He just looked up at me like I was a complete “Gomer” (Common in my house).

I smiled and started to explain a simple story that my mom told me over 30 years ago…

Jump ahead a few hours.

So, there I sat in my office this morning somewhat disturbed, with thoughts of night stalkers, bats, misty apparitions and blood sucking swimming through my mind. His fear was close to my heart, and because I had such an aversion to Vampires when I was his age, I could almost feel that anxiety and crippling panic well up in my (now almost 40-year-old) body.

Check email. Yeah, that will dilute the situation – get my mind on work…

Here’s what I received:

“Hey Andrew – I think we had a misunderstanding. It was really our intention to get some free marketing advise from you (sic). Although our marketing coordinator had been struggling with (this project) for some time now, and the ideas we discussed helped, I don’t believe we ever discussed compensation for consultation. We also didn’t expect to be placed on your marketing list or to be solicited for future work. We have a marketing department that handles all of our collateral.

Please take us off of your calling and e-mail lists.

Thank you, ‘Nosferatu'”

Now I’m disturbed AND angry… My first reaction – write a post about those so-called clients that I liken to my son’s Vampire. Yep. They suck – on multiple levels.

Not only do they drain time, energy and creative from you and your company, but they also, in your efforts to build a “rewarding” relationship, suck the joy, inspiration and will to live from your soul.

This really started out as a rant, but with my son’s situation in mind, a simple solution my mom gave me in 1976 stuck in my mind.

“A Vampire can’t enter your house unless they’re invited.”

This is a factoid that I’ve trusted and lived by for years (seriously, look it up). Although some across the Web have debated it, I like to hold true to mom’s advice. Of course, I also blamed vampires for sneaking into my room and messing up my hair at night… Not as deadly, but just as creepy.

So, how does this apply to this morning’s email?

I invited this “Vampire” into my house. I opened my collar, tipped my head back and posted a flashing sign saying, “Fresh AB-Negative Free For The Taking!”

In business, we’ve all run across these “Vampires.” Whatever you may call them, they’re going to be there, lurking at our doors, waiting to be invited in for a complimentary cocktail. My first mistake was not defining the purpose of the meeting(s) nor defining expectations for the guy across the table and myself.

After 20 hours and a lot of emails and phone calls, I learn what?

  • Define your intentions.
  • Discover the customer’s needs.
  • Reveal (that you can provide) the solution.
  • Commit yourself to the customer.
  • Define the perameters of the job, including cost.
  • Ask for the job.

Simple? Yep. If they want the solution, they need to understand that, because this is your profession, they’re expected to pay. In my haste to “establish a relationship” with this client, I forgot the necessary steps to “business relationships…” And, in my naiveté, I lost out on a lot of hours and money.

Lesson learned.

Tell me, how do you react when confronted with “Vampires?” Does your discovery process eliminate the potential of the engagement SUCKING?

I’d like to hear. Tell me your “horror stories.” Comment on mine.

Until next time – Keep Cooking!
Andrew B. Clark”
The Brand Chef


Image Credit: Andrew B. Clark (