GENII Magazine’s review of Sign Here

Reprinted from Genii Magazine’s November 2014 issue, written by Danny Orleans

Sign Here
Todd Neufeld $30
: Easy-to-read 200-page book for freelance entertainers on how to write contracts for gigs. Written by a professional variety entertainer/New York lawyer. Great tool. Great investment.

TWO YEARS AGO, a Fortune 500 client of mine shuffled their tradeshow marketing directors around and I got a call canceling four trade shows. I was very disappointed, but so glad that I had signed contracts because, without even so much as a letter from my attorney, they respected the contracts and paid me a cancellation fee of $16,000.

That’s a lot of money—and a rare example. But it’s also just one of a whole bunch of good reasons why any freelance entertainer, full or part time, should have a legal contract with his or her client, whether it’s for a kid’s birthday party or an upscale corporate gig.

Thanks to Todd Neufeld, you can now create a great contract without having to pay a lawyer a fat fee. Todd is the only full-time balloon twister/ magician I know that passed the bar and still maintains credentials to practice law in the state of New York. And he’s written a straightforward book with many sample contracts, templates, and important clauses to choose from. In short, he’s made it easy to send your client a customized contract for any type of gig.

What you’ll like best about this book is that it’s written by a variety entertainer, for a variety entertainer. Even though Todd is a (non-practicing) lawyer, there is a minimum of legalese in this book. At times it’s actually funny! And you can read the whole thing in less than two hours. He totally understands the communication issues that we have with real-world clients about private parties and special events. He knows that contracts for most gigs can’t be too complex. He shows you how to think about contracts in sections so you can easily draw from a “bank” of clauses to customize a contract for a specific client.

There’s more. His book shows you how to actually use your contracts as a marketing tool to further promote your business. He starts at the beginning, defining what a contract is, the different parts of a contract, mistakes to avoid, payment terms, fine print, and a whole lot more.

If you read my column, then you know that I review items from the perspective of a working pro that deals with real-world performance and business challenges on a daily basis. If you are a performer that gets paid for gigs, I not only recommend, but I insist that you buy Sign Here and read Todd’s advice on how to create and use contracts to increase the accuracy of client communication, your business efficiency, and your income.

Sign Here • Todd Neufeld • $30 •

Is being right worth a dollar?

The deli near my office at the Brooklyn Creative League is fairly upscale and well-stocked.  I (used to) pop in a couple of times a week for lunch.  Yesterday, I pulled out a fancy-looking bagel from the bin.  The bins have a $.75 price tag, which seemed like a good deal for a bagel with cheese and some cut up stuff melted on it.

The cashier rang it up for $1.75.  My “uh, the sign said 75-cents” objection was steamrolled because only the “plain” bagels are seventy-five cents.  Didn’t I know that?  It turns out I did not.  And while I wasn’t going to start a fight over a dollar, I didn’t leave happy.  I felt like I had been hustled.

Back at the office, the bagel didn’t taste as fresh or yummy as I thought it might.  And I remembered yesterday’s thai noodle salad might have been too tangy.  And kinda chewy.  And overly oily.

This afternoon I walked to the corner and couldn’t bring myself to go back in.  In fact, I don’t think I ever will again.  I asked around, and there are lots of other lunch options within a three-minute walk.  The deli definitely won the battle — they have my extra dollar.  But in the process they lost a cheap but regular customer, losing the war to their competition.

The cashier didn’t do anything wrong.  Her job is to collect money.  She was absolutely correct.  But for me, something changed.  It doesn’t feel right anymore.  So I moved on.

This experience scares the bejesus out of me.  How many customers have I let down by being right?

“Sorry, only one balloon per person.”

“No, I don’t make swords.  I’m a nonviolent person”.

“Sorry, but I already made on of those today.  No repeats.”

“No, I don’t have those agate balloons, they are too expensive.”

“Sorry, but I have to leave now.  No balloon for you.”

It’s a slippery slope from being correct to being wrong-headed.  You want to be fair to all, while still cultivating a relationship with each.  When we are at our best we slide down the slope gracefully, handling objections with skill and making exceptions with discretion.  When we are at our worst we win the battle, but lose the war.