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"To Have and Have Not" - Managing Clients

"Hemingway Lives" by Clancy Sigal is a great short read from OR Books, and I stand with Sigal in stressing the value in reading Hemingway today. Within the pages are life lessons we may apply. Hemingway has but a few qualities we may qualify as useful, as most of his life is difficult to resurrect when put under the microscope. Like Papa, his characters too are laced with actions of poor virtue, yet we may redeem elements.

I was at Shakespeare and Company in Paris when I added another Hemingway book to the collection, "To Have and Have Not". The novel was written by Hemingway between 1935 - 1937 as he traveled back and forth to Spain during the Spanish Civil War. While the novel is heavily influenced by Marxist ideologies, none of which I am endorsing, we can take a business lesson from the rough main character, Harry Morgan.

Morgan is much like every boat captain I have ever met: crass, impatient, and intolerant. The story begins with a brilliant example of a captain and his client fishing at sea. Morgan is irritated with his clients lack of knowledge, poor attitude, and unwillingness to listen and learn. You've had these clients.

Even after a failed fishing excursion due to his clients actions, Morgan continues to expect the best from the gentlemen. He provides him ample time to secure the funds and pay for the trip, only to learn his client took the first flight out of Cuba without paying his tab.

Throughout our careers we will experience difficult clients. Much like Morgan, but not with his crass approach, we must invest and expect the best.


Clients must know what they are purchasing and what to reasonably expect as a use or result. We must establish the realistic expectations. Our day and age will not stand for exaggerations.


Clients are turning to us as the experts in our product or field. Our responsibility is to educate. It is so easy today to provide incredible content for clients over media.


All clients large and small require a relationship. This looks different on a scale, but we may use a wealth of tools to accomplish real relationship development.


A client should know your expectation in the transaction and relationship. This is of course about timely payments, but more so about feedback and proper use or implementation.

When we care for our client the steps above our easy. If managing a difficult client...I always see this as a great opportunity to bring about a change.

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