Lessons from 16 Consulting Colleges
I launched the Million Dollar Consulting® College in 2006, and have run 16 on three continents. Our “home” for the past several years has been the extraordinary property at Castle Hill Inn in Newport, RI (though I did run a session in London earlier this year).
There have also been two graduate schools, and another in the works for early next year, and a home study version.
Over 200 people have participated (often more than once), the best of the best in consulting. Here are my thoughts on concluding #16:
• The toughest aspect of this profession is marketing one’s services. Most people are very fine consultants, coaches, facilitators, and so forth, and/or can quickly learn additional delivery skills. But people are not adept at marketing.
• There is a self-confidence “crisis” that undermines even the best of the best at times. I believe that’s because they don’t feel the common sense which is at the heart of pragmatic consulting is adequate to deal with executive egos, money, and power. And yet it is.
• Most true buyers are undamaged, healthy, and willing to listen to rational argument. They wouldn’t be where they are if they weren’t smart, wouldn’t be thinking of hiring us if they weren’t smart, and are often ridiculously portrayed by “consulting gurus” as evil, malicious, and as “the enemy.” That’s preposterous. This profession is collegial, not adversarial.
• As a rule, consultants undercharge and overdeliver. Worse, they spend far too much time with people who can say “no” but not “yes.” There is a hesitancy to risk not being liked, and to spend far too much time traveling down the dead end of low level people.
• The real difference starts as soon as you awake in the morning. You’re either of the mind that this is another tough day with horrible prospects and overwhelming challenges, or it’s another great opportunity to provide value to people who will profit from having known you.
• The profession isn’t about “selling” but rather about value. That means that a fundamental step is understanding clearly what your own value is for others, and articulating it clearly and readily. One of the problems for very bright, intellectually curious people is that they don’t like to focus on what they feel may be a delimiting statement.
• Solo consultants have done well before, during, and after tough economic times. That’s because the value we provide isn’t resident within the clients who need us.
© Alan Weiss 2011. All rights reserved.