Tell a Different Story: “I’ve Been Doing THIS for X Years”

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Tell a Different Story: “I’ve Been Doing THIS for X Years”

Does it really mean anything to say, I’ve been doing “this” for 10, 20, 30 years, therefore you should consider me an expert? Can you think of one “this” that hasn’t changed dramatically in the last decade? Heck if you’re talking about technology or business, you only have to go back about six months to find tectonic changes that basically disrupt the whole landscape.

We have to tell a different story. If you’ve been doing the exact same thing for twenty plus years, I would not recommend you lead with that when you’re trying to sell your services. Change is the only thing that has been consistent, the rate of change is the accelerant we are all dealing with. How do we evaluate people based on what they can do today, instead of what they did yesterday? I think this is the REAL value in content marketing. Don’t tell me you know what you’re talking about – show me through the content you have published, the customers who talk about you on social media, and the success stories your customers tell.

I have been in this business forever… that makes me think you might be tired and bored of it. Maybe start with what you’re passionate about and if you’re truly passionate about something then write, speak, communicate about it in a manner that GIVES to the community – then you don’t have to sell yourself at all.

I am now of the age that I too can say, I’ve been doing “this” for a long time. I never lead with that – I always lead with what I have learned lately, and how that learning can apply to making my customers more successful. Change is nothing but opportunity, but it requires a tolerance for a steep lifelong learning curve. Stop telling me what you’ve been doing, start telling me what you’ve learned and how you’re applying it to help your customers succeed.


  1. Gary Peeling on February 25, 2014 at 9:00 am

    Great advice Jennifer, already shared with me team, you know that would have taken me a long time 25 years ago 🙂 I use the tinterweb now

  2. Jennifer Matt on February 25, 2014 at 9:14 am

    Gary – we all fall into this trap. Experience is an asset of course just because the longer we’ve been dealing with things the better we get at putting things into perspective.

    In our industry (like many others) change is so prevalent that our ability to adapt is more important than our build up of knowledge in one particular area. Adaptation means we have to be willing and able to be beginners again (even if we’re in the “prime” of our career).

    The rate of change makes everyone beginners, when things just got invented six months ago – can anyone really be an expert yet? 😉

    I think the most important characteristic regarding experience is your ability to keep changing as the environment changes. Adapt to thrive.

    Hope to see you in Florida for Dscoop 9 Gary!


  3. Melissa Sienicki on February 25, 2014 at 11:54 am

    Wow, what a great, unique perspective on how you can share your experience with others. Thanks, Jennifer!

  4. Jennifer Matt on February 26, 2014 at 10:31 am

    Melissa – thank you for your comment. In the face of change I think the best light you can put yourself in is as a “learner” – change is pervasive so learning has to be just as pervasive. People buy/partner/collaborate with people who can help them get something done (do a task, solve a challenge). Its a way better story to show your willingness and aptitude to learn vs. your years of service (which to me always sounds like “time-served” (aka prison sentence 😉


  5. David Watson on February 26, 2014 at 11:35 am

    Thanks for a moment of clarity Jennifer.

    I too am in the “I’ve done this for a long time” category. Years ago, that would have been considered an asset. It would have meant that I had a broad understanding and a solid grasp on the inner-workings of a commercial print shop and printing in general.

    What’s it worth today? Not much. I think it works against me since the consensus seems to be that the older you get the less adaptable you become.

    Personally, my passion is learning so the constant technological change is great. I thrive on learning new technology. I like understanding and solving problems in new ways. What motivates me is when I don’t have all the answers. However, I hesitate to put what I do and learn “out there” until I really understand it. That somehow, sharing imperfect knowledge would be a disservice. Obviously, the problem with that is that by the time I really understand something it’s time to move on to something else.

    Thanks for your candid view. Most people want to appear as masters of whatever it is they’re talking about. It helps to hear somebody say we are all constantly learning.

  6. Jennifer Matt on February 26, 2014 at 11:41 am


    As I say when I’m training sales teams, the best answer you can give is “I don’t know” – because it immediately builds trust, and then you follow it up with “but I’ll find out for you” which builds a relationship.

    How can any of us consider ourselves experts? the older I get the more I realize I don’t know shit about almost anything. Yes I’m learning all the time (from almost everyone I talk to) but there is so much out there to learn.

    Its liberating to accept your limitations and to let go of the idea that you have to know the answer to everything – its then you can establish trust which is required before people will pay you (my sales cycle: know me, like me, trust me, pay me).


  7. Greg Goldman on February 28, 2014 at 11:41 am

    Jen, the post is spot on. Technology is moving so fast these days that no one person has all the answers. In helping my clients understand the communications landscape and technology options available to them, I am finding more and more it comes down to PEOPLE skills. The technology portion is easy, the hard part is implementing the technology across an organization and in order to be successful takes people skills and leadership. Perhaps that is what people should be leading with rather than “I have been doing this a longtime”. In the end, clients expect that you can execute and help their business move forward. That is regardless if you are an employee or an outside consultant. You may need technology to execute, but in the end it is people, teams and processes that drive the evolution of businesses.

  8. Jennifer Matt on February 28, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    Greg – agreed. With people comes the ability to make good decisions. I think there is a unique weirdness around technology decisions. People seem to accept that there is a lot of waste there. I’m sure you’ve experienced this – I come to help a printer and they tell me how they have bought 6-figures worth of software which they have never used and then they turn around and argue about my rates to help them PREVENT the further waste 😉

    We wrote a whole book called: Make Great Software Decisions to help printers make better decisions and to shed some light on the common mistakes. The book is available from (all proceeds go to this great charity).