Merlin's Frequently Asked Questions > Hiring Merlin > How do I book a gig with you?

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If there’s a good match between your needs and my modest abilities as a speaker, writer, advisor or what-have-you, you’ll find I’m astoundingly easy to hire and work with. Functioning as an independent everything, I am available for hire either on a freelance, contract, or retainer basis, all depending on what works best for you.

Let’s talk about your needs

As far as the specifics of what those fancy Operations people call “engagement,” everything starts by finding out those needs of yours, and then deciding together whether we’re the right fit for one another in terms of devil details like timing and budget.

Easiest way to get the ball rolling is for you to contact my assistant. Lickity-split after hearing from you, she’ll respond by asking some questions about your specific needs and interests in working with me.

In particular, don’t be startled if she tries really hard to have you answer any of four alarmingly cheeky questions before offering to schedule a call or worksession with me:

  1. “Do you have an idea of the kind of work you need from Merlin and when you’ll need it?”
    • Is this for a scheduled event that takes place on a specific day and time?
    • Have you a rough estimate or range of possible dates for your event?
    • What are the dependencies to finalizing the dates you’ll want Merlin to block out on your behalf?
  2. “What’s your total estimated budget for working with Merlin?”
    • Even an orders-of-magnitude estimate is very helpful
    • Are we talking $50? $500 $5,000 $50,000?
  3. “Who will make the ‘buying decision’ on this project?”
    • In other words, who decides whether to approve your project with me?
    • Related: who will cut the giant novelty-sized check for any contracted work?
  4. “How soon will your buyer be prepared to make that decision?”
    • Are you kicking tires or looking to book something for tomorrow?
    • Hint: Someplace in-between is optimal.

The line that is dotted

As far as paperwork and administrivia, I prefer working as light as humanly possible. Since I’m congenitally incapable of signing anything I don’t understand (and hate paying lawyers to explain words to me), the majority of my client work is sealed on a handshake or a one-page Letter of Engagement. I’m not averse to plain and fairly-worded contracts, but it doesn’t behoove either of us to treat a one-day visit like the building of the Pyramids.

James Bond stuff like NDAs and indemnification and other lawyerly junk is usually okay as long as every word is 100% mutual and doesn’t change an iota of what I own or how I work. If I agree to do anything to the contrary, my lawyer hits me repeatedly with a large stick. On the other hand, stuff like non-competes are way, way tougher to land on; unless you have insane boatloads of cash and operate in a vertical I’ve never heard of. Which is entirely possible.

Dollars and cents

Finally, specific terms on payment are mostly negotiable after successfully completing our first gig, but, since this is our first time working together, please do be prepared to front a non-refundable deposit of one-half the total fee plus expenses at the time of engagement (balance due on or before the day of your event/our visit). The kids call that a “kill fee,” and Daddy gets to keep it whenever his client skates on a scheduled event without immediate rescheduling. Because it does happen. A lot.

Getting all Tom Joad

Apologies for the voir dire and all the talky demands, but, apart from the able, part-time help of my talented assistant, I am truly a one-man operation. That means all the risk is on me if anything goes south for any reason, forseeable or otherwise.

That’s one reason I believe it’s critically important to be as clear as possible with one other about what we need, what it costs, and what we each tacitly give up or reject in order to make our thing go. Such clarity is, in my experience, the sole way to ensure that any work we undertake together  gets done well, on time, and on budget. And, just as importantly, that whatever we decide to do can happen without disrupting or displacing any of our existing commitments. Because I, you, and every other client I work with deserves that same sober consideration.

So, go hire me already, big shot.