When you meet people “in person”, the conversation changes

When you meet people “in person”, the conversation changes

When you meet people “in person”, the conversation changes

I set up my business as a 100% remote, virtual business. 

I did this for efficiency reasons, for a lifestyle choice. I wanted to work from home. Have flexibility. Be able to go where I wanted to go and not be bound by an office. 

Also, I don’t really work well in an office (I discovered). I worked as an auditor when I was just out of university – the typical, tiny cubicles with no natural light or fresh air. Like being in prison basically. When I moved to Scotland, I had to contend with office working combined with the shockingly depressing six hours of daylight in winter. 

At first it was just me, so I worked from home. Me, and my little MacBook Air, and the second bedroom of my little flat, looking out to a car park. (And trying to ignore the postman when he could see I was in and wanting me to come pick up a parcel, but I was running a webinar for a bunch of accountants..!!!)  Just me, and a few outsourcers and freelancers.

As the business grew, I began to replace the outsourcers and freelancers with full time employees. Then a few more, then a few more. 

Fast forward to today when my company has 14 employees, and clients all over the world. Everything still initiates virtually – and our clients come to us via our website and content, and we deliver the work online. Video calls and messaging, Slack conversations, online payment forms, Google docs. 

And whilst I’m really grateful for what all that technology enables me to do, over the last year or so I’ve started to fall in love again with the impact of getting together with my clients live and in person.

It’s happened quite naturally, from sending PF team members to events and conferences, or from going myself (or being a speaker). I would start using my travel opportunities to meet up with clients who were in the area.

And I discovered something. I realised when I (or my team) meet with clients in person, there’s a whole different level we get to. 

  • We talk about more personal things. Being productive and efficient is excellent and is needed when you’re on a video call and everyone wants to use the time well. But when just two of you are chatting, the sense of time changes and the topics change too. It’s more relaxed, more personal, and it feels a little more private (since the ‘record’ button isn’t flashing so ostentatiously in the top left hand corner!). 
  • We see their offices – and we notice things. We see a comic book art display book and discover they’ve got comic book canvas prints sitting in a back room, and we laughingly pull out the hammer and nail and get those things up on the wall. 
  • We meet their families. One time I had near-constant events before the weekend and after the weekend in London, so instead of rushing back to Scotland and back again, I stayed with a client who lives nearby. I got to meet all her children and step children and dogs. We had dinner together and went round to their local pub. I sat at her dining room table on Saturday morning and sketchnoted things while looking out at her garden. 

When these things happen, a different level of relationship happens. 

It’s stronger, less clinical. 

PF is not merely a company they’ve hired: it’s full of people they can talk to about anything in their life. Health issues. Family problems. Concerns about clients. Financial issues. Problems with a kitchen remodel or what new house to buy. 

And victories, too. Achievements they or their children have had – awards, medals, qualifications. Weight they’ve lost. Relationships restored. 

The business side improves too, but only because of all that. We end up talking about what else their accounting business needs – not in an overly formal or salesy way, but naturally, based on what they actually need. I’m beginning to lose count of the times a client says, “Oh, I didn’t know you did that!” And that opens up a whole new conversation. 

Rather like me and Emma, represented in my sketchnote today. (I admit my sketch feels like a rather horrible attempt at a beautiful image, and our eyes look all squinty and it looks like I have no legs, but hey, I did it.)

She’s a client who lives near London and I got to meet up with her in person this week. I took the train to her town…her son brought his camera equipment and took video for us…we wandered a gift shop and beautiful gardens…we talked about life and business and employees and family. Even after three years of having her as a client, I got to know her just that little bit better today. 

I know these posts are sent out to everyone on an email list, and on the blog: but I assure you I personally read any reply you send to them. Because I like getting to know you as a person, a human being. 

What I’d love for you to reply with today is:

What’s the hardest thing going on in your life right now?

After all, I’m a safe place to talk to. I may not have all the answers, but I’ll listen. And next time I’m in your area, we might even be able to meet in person!


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Well. So. Small update.

Was out hiking on mull and slipped on a rock crossing a burn, and broke my ankle. (I remember hearing an audible “crack” as I went down.)

No signal on phone. Managed to climb down a ravine to get to a more open place and hopefully signal. At that point still convinced it “wasn’t that bad”. Tried to walk along the path and realised yes, it was that bad.

Phoned coast guard, who were utter legends. Sent a boat AND a helicopter. Sun was setting and they didn’t want me sitting in the dark. Oh my word it was cold. Helicoptered out to fort William hospital (nicest people ever), then down to airdrie where I got a cast.

Ankle broken in one place. Doctors pleased (as much as you can be!) it’s a clean break & lining up well. I’ll be down for 4-6 weeks.

I’ve repeated myself a lot over the last few days so here’s the short version to all the questions, with appreciation for the care.

Yes, I’m okay. I’m also utterly exhausted & have hit the “damn, this is going to be a long road” phase. Taking it one day, one hour at a time. 

I’m being looked after. Very kind friends and things being delivered. My amazing sister @secondsunrise2 flying in tomorrow from america to be with me for a few weeks. SO grateful.

What do I need? I’m good on the basics. There have been unexpected costs and more coming so if you want to PayPal monies for deliveries or getting my car & belongings back or all the taxis or whatever, feel free. I’m hardly destitute so only do that if you want to send something useful and aren’t sure what. PayPal username karenlreyburn. Amazon wishlist in bio. Random care packages also happily received!

My car & belongings are up on mull. I have people to help and we are working on timing. But if you’re on mull and want to return a car near Glasgow, let me know :)

Shout out to the Coast Guard for being so swift, & that beautiful combination of sympathy and practicality.

Download the @what3words app. Literal lifesaver.

That’s all for now. All the love. Oh - and no, I don’t hold this against mull at all. It’s still my happy place. Things happen & the mull community has been beautiful. Shout out to @treshnish who couldn’t have been kinder. ❤️
Morning walk. I stood and watched the ferry come in and the sun lighten this little edge of the world.
Been going through old photos and letters - the last of the boxes i had stored at my sister’s house in america. 

When I first moved to Scotland, I only planned to live here for a few years and then go back. Then after a few years I wasn’t ready yet…then I got my residency…still not quite ready….then started a business…then Scottish citizenship…bought a house …finally accepted this is my home and I wasn’t moving back. 

And with every visit back to the states I would go through more boxes, more photos and letters and memories. I’d keep some and throw others away; take photos out of frames and give away the frames; and as time went on I was able to distinguish between the ones I definitely wanted and needed to keep, and those which were lovely at the time but didn’t need to be saved anymore.

Over twenty years on and this past trip I went through the very last of the boxes. I joked to my sister that I’ve now officially settled into Scotland 😆 

This photo of me and my Gramps is a fave and definitely a keeper. Most of the photos and letters I’ve kept are those of family - parents, grandparents, sisters, nieces and nephews. And as much as I love taking landscape photos, I noticed that 20 years later it’s the people photos I am more likely to keep. Thankful for the traditions and patterns of seeing family every year or so since moving to Scotland. They’re small things - baking Christmas cookies and going for walks and going for road trips - but it’s the time together and the continuing family jokes and the memories which remain. And a few photos.

My grandfather (and all my grandparents) have now passed on, but I remember with fondness sitting around at their kitchen table, eating fresh vegetables from the garden, playing scrabble, laughing and talking and drinking coffee.

It’s the small things, and the rhythms of family, which last. ❤️ 
#family #memories #grandparents #oldphotos
Made fresh mince pies for the first time ever. Over twenty years in Scotland and I’d never tried to make them from scratch, so I figured…now is the time! I’m doing lots of thanksgiving baking (yes, we stretch it out here so I’m still prepping!) and decided to buy the ingredients. 

Dried fruit…mixed peel…lots of spices…and Venezuelan rum :) I made up the mincemeat last night, and then today put it in the little pastries and even cut out the wee stars to go on top!

I think I can safely say they’re the best mince pies I’ve ever had. Fresh out of the oven sprinkled with icing sugar and with a glass of said rum alongside :) 

Now we are curled up with a Harry Potter marathon, with plenty of mince pies AND a thanksgiving feast still to come. Happiness! 

#mincepies #homebaking #maryberry #maryberryrecipe #happythanksgiving #happychristmas #harrypotter #hpmarathon