Why I don’t work with celebrities

A few years back I thought I had landed the client of a lifetime when a well known author, speaker, and “influencer” asked me to help them with driving more members to the community.

At first, I was blown away by the offer. 

I suppose it was a mixture of being starstruck, admiring and looking up to the person, and being asked by someone in the public arena.

And within about 18 months I managed (through his connections) to land two more well known personalities.

TV and internet types.

Not A-list, red carpet celebrities, but famous enough that you probably have one of their books around somewhere.

And I remember at the time being convinced that this was the moment that my business and career would skyrocket.

Looking back, of course, I should have seen all the red flags. But! We learn from our mistakes.

Now this whole person’s “thing” was how much money they have.

They were known for being wealthy and creating wealth.

He’d regularly boast to me about how much his business and books were making.

In fact, when I met him at a train station in London once, he drunkenly admitted to me just how big the signing bonus or advance or whatever was, for his next book.

I should add that it was about 5pm and he was pretty pissed (drunk) because he’d spent the day with clients at some sporting event.

Hours later he’d refer to his wife as a “solid 7/10” and “not the best looking woman he’s been with, but up there” moments before she joined us for dinner.


Despite the money and wealth and fame, it should have rung alarm bells when he said that his company didn’t have a lot of capital. So he’d appreciate mates’ rates on the work we did for him.

And I’m ashamed to admit that I gladly lowered our usual fee.

In my defense, I MASSIVELY looked up to this guy.

Also, it seemed like easy money, frankly.

Well known author, private community, he was capable and willing to create content.

Honestly, it seemed like a match made in heaven.

I was so proud.

I told all my family.

I finally felt like I’d made it.

The deposit was paid – it was like…£2000 or something, and I cracked on with the work.

I delivered the first round of the campaigns to him.


We had a few calls back and forth.

But the progress was…very very slow.

And this is when things started to turn sour.

The pattern I noticed was that I was on his timeline.

He could leave feedback or replies for days, weeks, at a time.

But as soon as he replied, he wanted a response immediately.

I tried to explain that I had other commitments and I don’t work like that.

But that wasn’t good enough.

What’s really awful is that that same year, I got married.

I gave plenty of notice.

Hell, even his wife told him to stop emailing and messaging during my wedding and honeymoon.

I’m very very glad to say that I focused 100% on my wife and family during that time.

But turns out leaving my phone off and email unanswered for a week or two was NOT good enough for him.

I’m a big fan of communication – I’ll gladly admit that I am not as good as I want to be and I’m always working at it.

In my experience there isn’t anything a phone call can’t fix.

Coming back to work I had emails, texts, answerphone messages and Slack messages.

All chasing me.

I tried to explain that we had project cycles and if he didn’t reply or give feedback immediately, which is fine, whenever he did reply it might have to take some time before we get around to it.

I was not at his beck and call.

That’s not how he saw it.

“That’s my prerogative!” he’d shout down the phone. “I get better customer service from my internet provider and I’m not paying them as much as I am you!”

Words like disgraceful and disgusting were thrown around.

Baring in mind – he’d paid £2000 so far. And, I had delivered 100% of everything we had agreed so far.

I was lost. 

I was distraught.

I was about to lose a client that I had worked so hard to get.

And worst of all. I had met my hero and he did not live up to my image of him.

I turned to a friend of mine, Gareth, who had run a very large agency.

He gave me some really really good advice.

Essentially, I wasn’t willing to work how this client wanted me to work.

If he wasn’t who he was, I would have dropped him.

“Sounds like you’re not that desperate to keep him on Mike” Gareth told me.

“My advice, is ask your wife.”

So I did.

And my wife told me that she doesn’t like who I am, when I’m around or working for this guy.

I’m either on edge, stressed, upset, or worse – a dickhead – when I’m around him.

I felt deep deep shame that my wife didn’t like who I was when I was with him.

We had a call booked the next day.

The ultimatum was pretty clear.

Either work at his beck and call, be more “accessible” when he needs OR we don’t work together.

I don’t think I’d even got through “I’m sorry, I can’t do that A–” before he shouted “Right then, you’re fucking fired” and hung up on me.

What I learned is that a bad client is a bad client.

And, based on my experiences with all three very VERY minor personalities and influencers – all of them thought the world revolved around them.

And mine didn’t.

If you ever wonder why I’m so obsessed with qualification.

Why I say qualification should be 90% of the sales journey.

It’s because one great client can make your day.

One bad client can make you miserable.

It doesn’t matter who they are – you need to make sure that you like them, they can afford you and perhaps more importantly, they respect you.

Mike Killen

Mike is the world's #1 sales coach for marketing funnel builders. He helps funnel builders sell marketing funnels to their customers. He is the author of From Single To Scale; How single-person, small and micro-businesses can scale their business to profit. You can find him on Twitter @mike_killen.