Consulting Notes on These Times
Some of my random observations that became too long for my note pad:
1. Always build, don’t destroy. The Democrats seem too intent, for example, on destroying the Republicans, who have done a pretty good job of doing that to themselves. When you work on a project, fix or improve the conditions, don’t assess blame or gloat about how the internal people blew it. Help the internal people to get it right the next time and you’ll be even more valuable and likely to prolong the relationship.
2. Stop thinking and act. Ninety percent of people who tell me they will “think about joining one of my programs” never do. They are just giving themselves an excuse not to act, usually out of fear of what they’ll find. We’re not talking about brain surgery here. Take action, and then fine-tune. Endless studies and the dreaded “needs analysis” rob you and the client: you of energy, the client of money, both of you of lost opportunity.
3. Get your approach in order. Engage the prospect in the diagnostic during the marketing process, then become prescriptive during the intervention, AFTER you have the proposal signed. Don’t become prescriptive at the outset, because the buyer will gag at the arrogance of your determining solutions in five minutes while the client couldn’t resolve the issue in five months, and don’t become diagnostic during the intervention because the client IS the one who screwed it up and needs an outside blast of air. Direction follows consensus.
4. Stop listening to overpowering bad news, take your eyes off the television, and look out the window. What do you see? People going about their lives. Go about yours. Our profession’s mission is to engage and help people and organizations to improve their condition, by providing powerful value. If you do that well, eventually the television news will change.
5. Engage in real and meaningful actions, not symbolism. If you want to volunteer at a shelter, contribute to a charity, or provide pro bono help to non-profits, that’s great. But refraining from buying a new suit, or taking a colleague to lunch, is just silly (and hurts the clothing and restaurant business).
6. Reducing your fees is not a required or intelligent move, it is an enabling move for those who use the economy as an excuse for their own inept management. You deserve to be paid commensurate with your value, and rending your garments or degrading your worth isn’t necessary or noble. Your duty is not to enable those who have poor habits. (Fortunately, we are not government agencies where poor management just results in more money being granted to cover our mistakes.)
7. Everyone I know who is doing very well—and that is a majority of people in my community—is diversified. I’ve been urging this for years, but now it’s mandatory. People who are solely non-celebrity, keynote speakers, for example, are desperate. Use your intellectual capital to consult, coach, speak, publish, facilitate, create products, train, and so forth. No one is going to do that for you. Pretend you’re your own client.
8. Get used to the ambiguity of the times. No one knows—in government, in universities, in the media, in the coffee shops, in think tanks, in executive suites, not anywhere—what is going to happen next. The current conditions could continue for years, or we may see a greater decline and a 5,000 DOW, or we might see a startling recovery in a year. No one knows. Get used to it. Focus: What is your value, who can best utilize it, how do you reach them, how do they reach you?
© Alan Weiss 2009. All rights reserved.
PS: “How to Accelerate Business in A Dismal Economy” was my most successful teleconference of 70 I’ve delivered. It’s available as a download on my site.
But keep you eye out for my next Special Event Teleconference: “From Panic to Profit: How to build your life and your business during tough times.”