Protected: Don’t Mess With Their Rice Bowl: Seven Business Lessons from Ten Recent Workshop No-Shows

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About Tad

  • colleen

    Hi Tad. Awesome article. I can so relate as I worked 20 years for Canadian Blood Services, just retired a couple of months back and in the past year 2014, the no shows were at their highest ever. People commit an hour of their time to give blood to save peoples lives…we, CBS so heavily rely on those units and commit those units to the hospitals for people who are in great need in order to survive. To just blow it off as its nothing and say I will go another time and not even call in advance so that they can find a last minute donor to fill the seat, is so disheartening and also so frustrating and discouraging!! Staff spend countless hours understanding exactly what is required for the hospitals and then all the time spent to book donors all across the country. Then each day a dedicated team drives to locations all across Canada, through bad weather, and work long hours to ensure they get the necessary units needed to reach the daily goal. We go to the donors!! A lot of time and money is spent to pack up a team of health professionals on a bus to go to a town that has committed, say 100 units and only 30 show up….can’t describe the daily frustrations they all feel. The people I work with, especially out in the field, are beyond committed and do this job because they deeply care and most of the donors are deeply committed too….but I am not sure if it’s a generation thing or people are just so busy these days that they don’t even realize that by backing out and not informing in advance that they can’t make their appointment that someone’s loved one, a child, a sibling, a parent are lying in a hospital, with their only hope of survival, is by receiving those precious units of blood!! People need to be conscious of their actions when they commit to something and don’t follow through.

  • amen brother. just wove some of your words into the blog!

  • ha. just sign up at on the side bar :-)

  • welcome :-)

  • Mónica M. Arias

    Wow Tad! What a great post! I enjoyed it so much. I also appreciate your
    honesty: we do not know how to do things right every time, and definitely do
    not have “all set up”, thus sometimes we simply make mistakes.
    And, yes, we make one which is mortal to our business and our self esteem: we
    believe people will act and show with the same level of respect and
    responsibility than we would. Oh no…Gosh no! Something inside of me resonated
    with the way you were feeling as I was reading the paragraphs…Something
    aligned with the truth of your words and the description of your
    disappointment. Thank you for sharing this bitter experience and your point of
    view. You really helped me a lot to realize that we, responsible and sensitive
    business owners around the world, are not alone…Kind regards, Mónica

  • Monica, thanks for reading it <3 we all become more real by being more real with each other.

  • Kay Gillard

    Yes! Completely agree x

  • Mónica M. Arias

    Yes we do. Thank you :)

  • Lindsay Rose

    Tad, this was a brilliant blog post. Sucks you’ve been having this no-show struggle, it definitely doesn’t feel good when it happens. I agree with you 100% in the value of appreciation and acknowledgement. Acknowledging when we’ve wronged someone, and appreciating their time, energy and value in the process.

    I struggled with last minute cancellations and no-shows when I started my Reiki School. Classes were $200, and I only required a $50 deposit ahead of time. In the end, this structure wasn’t resonating with me for the amount of time and energy lost in the process, so went on to requiring the full payment up front.

    I was inspired by the wording of Alexandra Franzen, who offered up this cancellation/no-show policy for us to tweak and use, and since implementing it, my no-shows are nearly non existent. (Students have to tick the box indicating they have read this before payments are made.) Here is my version:

    “When you register and make your first payment, that’s my cue to block
    out a seat — and shoo other folks away if the class will be full. I
    prepare your 40+ page manual. I start crafting your name tag and
    graduation certificate. I start brewing and meditating on your journey
    that’s just beginning and holding you in my mind while I’m stuck in

    I invest in you — just like you invest in yourself, by investing in
    this class. And that’s why, with exception of tsunamis, earthquakes,
    tornadoes, avalanches and unforeseeable grief-stricken situations, I do not offer
    refunds for cancellations —which, to my delight, are fairly infrequent.

    If you are in dire straights and need to reschedule your training to a later date, please please get a hold of me (via email
    or phone) as soon as possible — out of respect for me and my
    time to re-jig the class, and most importantly out of respect for those
    other fine souls I may have to turn away if a seat is not available. If a
    rescheduling happens in advanced, I will hold your payment until you
    are able to join me again. Because commitment is sexy, and extra time +
    energy goes into the process, an additional fee of $50 is
    charged to reschedule to another class. If less than 48 hours (2 days)
    notice is given, you will forfeit the entire $225 and rescheduling will
    happen with another full payment.

    That, my friends, is my Karma-Friendly Cancellation Policy.”

    Thanks again for sharing your experience with us, Tad. May the energy of it shift in your favor for all future classes. You definitely ARE valued by so many of us in the community. Thank you for being you.

  • Riesah Prock

    Hi Tad, you sure laid it on the line and said so much that I go through in my own head around similar situations. A most recent one is with a supposed-to-be working partner in a volunteer community where we have undertaken leadership roles. He consistently bites off more than he can chew and hasn’t come through with the goods on any count, unfortunately. I feel deep compassion for him, as I know a bit about his history, but when he’s been given even the minimal to do, that too fell apart. He tried to offload the jobs to others at the last minute and then, when given the chance to own his part in the thing, well, nothing was said or changed.
    There are some in the community who keep covering for him, saying it’s important to serve all the members well, so there the rescue happens over and over. It is especially difficult for me, as I work with the conviction that our truth comes from love, that if we are honest in how we feel with each other, we who are holding space for everyone else (in this case, for the community the truth will set us free. I’ve yearned to sit down with him to share my feelings, how it feels when let down by his non-action, but he evades, making himself scarce, and so in the best part of this year, I still haven’t had that important conversation with him and to my knowledge, neither has anyone else.

    When it comes time to collaborate, I feel like someone vacuumed out my guts and I need to fund the effort with a whole new supply of super octane energy, just to get through it. It is hard to remain open-hearted, present, cordial, generous, willing and non-controlling when we have to show up as partners in an event “we” supposedly planned together.

    I consider that it’s better to let someone fail inside the safety of the community and to let them see in the reflected honest mirrors of those people around him who had to let him fail, how much we care, how much we are supporting him and how much he can learn about taking responsibility and being accountable for both what he does and what he doesn’t do, It’s hard to hear him quoting Stephen Covey!!

    It all comes down to talking the talk, walking the talk, and finally walking the walk.

    As you can tell, your well thought out piece here stirred up a lot in me. I appreciate your honest and forthright way of tackling the subject and your clients with your truth.

  • be

  • Your truth would be a blessing to him. Just because his feelings are understandable, doesn’t mean that his actions are excusable. You might also enjoy this:

  • thank you for sharing that! I’ve woven that wording into the blog post. so useful to see a real example. and, for the most part, I don’t have no shows. It’s just these past two workshops.

  • colleen, that’s a powerful story. I’ve woven it into my blog post. thank you for sharing it.

  • Yes, indeed, Tad, you’ve said it very clearly, beautifully, while weaving in your stories and learnings. I’m touched by how deeply you explore your thinking and feeling. Thank you for pointing me to these notes.
    Please know that if I may ever be of service to you, you only need ask.

    Many blessings for peace, laughter and love.

  • Graham Roe

    Hi Tad, just read the first part of your post but this thought came to me …

    What if you viewed all your customers from the perspective of lifetime spend ??

    So those who were no shows might still be on the journey of becoming a ‘paying customer’ so even though they got a video of value they might be compelled to join the club down the road?

    So instead of feeling slighted that someone was a no show and got some kind value at no cost, celebrate that a future ‘paying’ customer may just be on the journey to being a life long customer.

    I’ve been reading ‘Reinventing the wheel’ – ‘The science of creating lifetime customers’ by Chris Zane — It has some interest concepts … some are Inzane …

  • Kathy Whitham

    This is one of the most profound discussions I’ve ever heard about boundaries, community and speaking up. Besides being a wake-up call for my own unconscious behavior, Lesson #1 – Don’t Tolerate Bad Behaviour From Clients (can’t get rid of bold now?) could just as easily be a relationship manifesto -which btw is how i am already using it…and it feels SO empowering. Yes! Other people’s bad behavior does impact us, and speaking up is not only is service to me, but also, I believe in service to them: Here’s how your words became real for me in an email to someone that I wouldn’t as easily have had the courage or words for before:

    “The thing is…when you disconnected/disappeared (perhaps insert’ “acted like a dick”) last winter it HURT.

    did a good job using the opportunity to grow and quite dramatically be
    “done” with old fear driven habits that excuse bad behavior in the name
    of understanding and grab for connection, over wholeness and self-love.
    Old habits that find something familiar in the roller coaster of
    connection – disconnection, where “sorry” feels meaningless.

    Friday night when I sat across from you in the circle I actually felt
    the hurt and I didn’t speak up. I may have felt betrayed by you, but the
    worst betrayal is what I do to myself when I silence my own voice.

    I say these things to you, for me – not because I’m looking for anything from you. It feels quite free of expectation, actually…

    I do also believe it serves you too and that I diminish you
    when I treat myself like my feelings don’t matter, and you like your
    actions don’t matter, like we have nothing to do with each other – we

    So what you did mattered. It wasn’t just about you. And I choose to voice the words that want to be spoken …”

    I very much look forward to implementing your advice in a bunch of workshop that I have scheduled over the coming months. THANK YOU, TAD

  • Alanna Prather

    This is a great offering Ted, and an excellent review/lesson in how to problem solve by examining your part in the process. Way to be personally accountable and stand up for yourself. Going into workshopping now myself (in Edmonton no less) I will absolutely defer to your experience. Thank you very much for the insight and great examples. Perhaps we will cross business paths soon — your approach is a most welcome one but for the idealists among us, it is obviously going to take more to refine trends in personal accountability. Great strides on your part.

  • Natalie Kent

    This is brilliant Tad, thank you so much for writing this blog. It is so necessary to educate people through ‘the eyes of the entrepreneur’ as much as through the eyes of the client. I especially love the practical ways of establishing trust and credibility when we offer something of value, I needed to hear this now!

  • Janet Matthies

    This is one of the most intense, valuable, insightful important things I have read in a LONG time. There is so much embedded in what you are writing about!!! I love how you pointed out value for the community and how valuing our self is our default mode. All month I have been honing in on valuation of myself, other people, services, relationships, communication … it’s really pretty simple if we just get out of our own way! You are so brave and your honesty and directness is so so so valuable!!! Go tad!!!!

  • thanks so much :-)

  • Heather Small

    Hi Tad, WOW! This is the first post of yours I’ve read and I’ve just been schooled, big time. I’m more than a little shaken, because what you so strongly said was so pointedly for me, both as a business owner and as a no-shower. I literally quaked while reading. Just so you know, that’s not normal for me. It was fear. Because I was actually considering backing out of the very first commitment (2 days from now) that I’d made in re-opening my business after a failure and long hiatus. A tiny, almost nothing commitment, maybe no-one would even notice…oh, man. It’s true. After reading this article, there’s no way I can mess around like that anymore. Thank God you had the guts to write it just as you did, and that I just happened to read it today. Now I have to have the guts to keep going.

    I matter. My presence matters. My input matters. My work matters.

    I’m posting this before I can change my mind and delete it. Tad. Thanks.

  • thank you so much for taking that all in so deeply. it encourages me to keep writing <3

  • Anastasia Semerok

    Tad, insightful and clearly worded article on issues that many of us are facing. Thank you!
    I wanted to offer an additional perspective on the reason of the no-shows in the particular case that you’ve mentioned. I hope that it will be useful.
    In essence, what you have asked your participants to do is to prepare (watch a video). Now, most people will fail to do that, and will also feel guilty about it. This feeling of guilt is mostly unconscious, and difficult to admit to. After all, it’s a failure to do something simple and basic for which there is no real excuse. People feel bad, people feel guilty — and they will feel afraid of how you (the trainer) might react. To avoid these feelings, they will do practically anything, and bailing out of your workshop is the easiest option.
    The other aspect is that in your offer you mentioned that you will be answering questions on applying the information in the video. Well, if they have not watched the video, then they will probably feel that once they get to the workshop they will be so behind the rest of the group that it does not make sense to come at all.
    I have seen this time and time again in my own training programs: grown-up mature people with well-paying jobs will turn red and apologize to me for not doing their “homework”.
    I am not offering an excuse for the no-shows, whatever the reason may be. I only hope that my experience will help others to create their workshop programs so as to minimize no-shows.
    Bottom line: do not make the preparation or “homework” a hard prerequisite for attendance.

  • Sue

    Great post Tad. I am familiar with no-shows as I teach a qigong meditation practice. For a time I did PWYC, then I charged $10, but nothing was pay in advance. The no-shows were horrific. There is a Meetup site and people just push a button to indicate they will attend. But I accepted the no-shows. I was willing to accept this behaviour because this practice is new to Edmonton and I felt it necessary to accept whatever attention it could get. Even though I had to travel 2 hours to lead the practice and I have extensive training. Also I had a bit of difficulty sharing a healing, heart-opening practice that could help people feel better and ask them for money. It’s hard to explain, but I felt something like love should take care of everything and whatever was meant to be for me and whoever showed was all…love. Not true! Who am I serving with that attitude? Not me!
    With the ability to register online without any financial investment, I think people lose integrity. Perhaps they feel anonymous without the personal connection of a voice or knowing the person. I also think no-shows hurt more for those of us who’s life purpose is meshed with their business or occupation. Our hearts are in everything we do, open and ready to give; but we also expect to receive. Giving is what we do, it feeds us; but I think receiving acknowledgment and respect from those we serve is what validates us. No-shows take the wind from my sails (and sales).
    More recently, I have been have qigong sessions at a yoga studio that requires on-line pre-payment to register. The owner of the studio feels we need to step into what our time is worth and ask people to commit upfront. I also have to charge more per class now because I am renting from her. It took a while for some to catch on, and many stopped coming. But every month the studio is full, or close to it. Asking people to commit to themselves and to you is good all around. But this is also how we find our people. By setting standards and being clear on our policies and expectations from our clients, we will attract those that are in alignment with us. Those that don’t like it, I don’t want to work with anyway. Considering it a sorting bin. We don’t want everyone with a pulse in our business. You are right about not accepting this sort of behaviour; and I agree we need to address it to protect and foster community. We are all better for it! Thanks for sharing!

  • Dear Tad! I am so happy to see these posts on your website as well. Now I can follow your inner travels again after having left FB. What an excellent piece! I know the feeling all too well.

  • Trudy

    What started out as a rant, became philosophical – I read the whole post :-) Two things – 1.I’ve been a business owner since 1980 and probably have been a no-show as a customer and certainly had some no-shows at my workshops in the past. Since my (debilitating) stroke in 2005 though my belief has become that whether your reason is “life or death” it doesn’t matter. That includes natural disasters and health issues when they’re yours. Everything else is just a reason.

    2. I hold a network for women solopreneurs every month and in my email I ask for an RSVP – common sense right? There is no deposit – people pay at the door. When people don’t show (maybe 10%) I’ve always accepted that as normal – but after reading your post I’m going to add something about how it affects the speaker and everyone else around them too.

    Something to think about. As Mark Victor Hansen says, everything you said gives you “itchy brain cells”.

    Thanks, Tad :-)

  • When I think of “conscious business,” this is the kind of thing we need to spread to everyone. (I teach my own variations of consciousness thru my business software apps & templates.) Good for you for articulating the nature and consequences of this phenomenon. Thank you for writing it. It’s an issue for hosting parties too — it’s crazy-making when ‘friends’ won’t rsvp yes/no.

  • Thanks Tad, I’m a trainer and I’ve had this too, though not so many in one go. There is a thing about people not valuing training but it also made me think about people not realising their importance, ie no one will notice if I’m not there. We are about to put on a big free event that, when we break it down, would cost over £100 per person. I want to say if you book and don’t show we will bill you, but the others don’t feel ok about it (we are English!)

  • :-)

  • Valerie Gilman

    Hey Tad-one of the things I love about your work is that while you are talking about business- the lessons are human and the parallels to other social interactions are abundant. I find myself thinking of what you are saying in the context of my troubled romantic relationship, and my own bad behavior in cell phone etiquette- getting busy and putting the phone down and not noticing that she responded to my last question or comment and is waiting for me to respond to her. I get frustrated that she expects me to keep attending to her when life is going on over here, and she gets hurt that I do not care enough about her to respond. I know it is a radically different situation, and in some ways of magnitudes smaller, but the issue of trust that you talked about is the same and the relationship is being eroded by the growing lack of trust- which is no small thing in my life, her life and our respective kid’s lives. If she cannot trust that I care about her, and I am always having to prove it- this is a disfunctional relationship! I want to yell at her to not take it personally- as your colleague said he does not take no-show’s personally- and that she needs to change her tactic…. but I also need to step up- If I want to be a trusted member of this community of love- then I need to be respectful and responsible to her needs. Or I need to recognize that I am not in a good position to continue this thing- and let her find someone who is and can be there for her in the way that she needs.

  • Susan Kuhn

    This is a post I have saved to read again. Partly because I am guilty as charged. Partly to minimize these dynamics in a new business I am starting. It’s a very thorough and comprehensive view, personal, business, and societal. Thank you for all the work you put in to making it so.

  • that my suffering can make some sort of a difference to someone like you means the world.

  • Susan Kuhn

    You know, there is another level to this. Our capitalist system is designed to *not* have to rely on community in some senses. We build no-shows into the calculus. We only market to those who are financially qualified. We require payment in full up front. These are all ways to work around a lack of trust. “It’s business.” I really don’t know where to go with this, only to say that advocating for a higher order of trust perhaps is always a radical position.

  • Theresa

    This has been a major problem in my business. Back in the day, I would get a LOT of no-shows. Often from people who assumed I had “nothing better to do” because my office is in my home. They didn’t value my time. Their excuses were often “I forgot” or “my cell phone died” or “I couldn’t find a babysitter” or “I am too tired”. It was rarely, if ever, a true “emergency”.

    They didn’t stop to think about how this impacted my life or my business. Sitting around waiting for someone who doesn’t even have the common courtesy to call or email is not a great feeling. And sadly, I have almost always have a wait list but without proper notice, I am not able to fill those spots – so my other clients are also inconvenienced. Plus that time could have been spent answering emails, running errands, working on a blog post, marketing, meeting with my accountant, doing paperwork, making dinner, lunch meetings, etc, etc, etc. Just because I’m at home doesn’t mean that I’m not running a “real” business.

    After years of being stood up, I finally got tough and instituted a hard-core policy: “24 hour notice or your payment is forfeited. No show and we don’t work together again.”

    This pretty much eliminated the problem. It’s rare that I get a no-show these days. RARE. The people who feel my policy is too “mean” don’t bother to book with me and the people who book with me treat my time with respect.

    Thanks for a great post. You said it way more eloquently than I ever could.

  • Debbie Helm

    Hello, I am new here, I want to say, I liked the post and learned a lot. How would you suggest, I transfer all of this great information to a professional caregiving (senior, child, assisting with pets, house management, house sitting)?
    I have been doing it for 10 years, so the marketing part, is pretty slam dunk, people know me in the community, and I have a list of about 20 people waiting for me at any given time.
    Question: One of my I guess you would call it faults is when it comes to “making a difference” which is my true gut feeling, as I quit my corporate high paying job to care for those in our community that needed at that time Senior care. My mother is in late stage Alzheimer’s.
    When people see the “making a difference”, they are aghast that I am charging $20 – 30 per hour, based on the needs of what you are looking for.
    Any advice?
    Nice to meet you, and I learned a lot by the Rice bowl. What about the Chop Sticks. The bowl is the sustainable.??? :-) Happy Day