These Are Only Bad Times If You Say So
I was sitting at the pool earlier today when a thunderous roar broke out somewhere behind me. I figured it was another flight of the jet fighters at the air show in Quonset, about ten miles south, a fixture every July at this time.
It wasn’t a fighter. Looming over me in the next few seconds was a giant B-52 bomber, at perhaps five thousand feet, making a landing approach to the military field. It’s unusual to see one in flight if you don’t live near a military base or aren’t being bombed by one of them. The last of the Cold War huge bombers, it first flew in 1952, and has been continually on active service (being rebuilt continually) for over half a century. It was used in both Afghanistan and Iraq. They haven’t build a new one in perhaps 30 years.
No one expected the longevity of this thing to span two generations or more, but there you have it. Some things, services, ideas, approaches, just work well, and do so amidst economic, societal, technological, and a myriad of other changes.
We’re currently experiencing a partial market meltdown; sagging housing prices; the virtual dissolution of GM (“What’s good for GM is good for the country”—let’s hope not, it’s been dreadfully led.); high oil prices; and various other uncertainties. You can crawl under the bed, put your hands over your ears, and start babbling, or you can realize that your talent and your value really ought to prevail.
There are companies, professions, and industries which need your help. The best organizations are also those—no irony here—that understand the need for external resources. Smart people are buying depressed stocks right now. Others are taking advantage of housing bargains. Still others are pursuing vacations that were once untouchable. And many businesses are investing in their own future.
The self-help market, also, is vibrant and fertile. (I’m just finishing updating “Value Based Fees” and “Getting Started in Consulting” and we’re discussing a fourth edition of “Million Dollar Consulting.”) Alternative travel to the airlines and to high oil prices is very popular. Amtrak can’t find enough railroad cars to put on its northeastern corridor, and pubic transportation is experiencing record volume. Pet supplies and care are strong. Try to get a good hotel room in New York. In Providence, the best restaurants are filled to the gills on weekends. Europeans, Canadians, and Asians are reveling in the purchasing and travel that accompanies a cheap dollar.
This is not a time to pull back in the consulting business. Nor do you have to spend money you don’t have to be aggressive in the marketplace:
• Start calling and writing everyone you know, remind them of your value and ask if you can be of help to them and/or to anyone they know. Create a triage system, and personally call those whom you’ve helped in the past.
• Create new services based on your expertise, so that you can coach, consult, facilitate, speak, train, and sell products. Stop worrying about your title and what you call yourself—just focus on your ability to improve the client’s condition.
• Offer your opinions and insights to others through third parties: newspaper op ed sections, letters to the editor, online publications, trade association publications, interviews, your web site, newsletters, and so forth.
• Speak for free at association meetings, service clubs, chambers of commerce, educational offerings such as The Learning Annex, and civic events.
• Target key buyers in organizations which: are doing well; have a history of hiring consultants; need your kinds of value; are geographically proximate. Then find someone who knows someone who can introduce you to that buyer. (Cold calling is still a poor investment of time.)
• Volunteer for pro bono work where you’ll be rubbing elbows with potential buyers and superb resources while working on common passions.
Not one vacuum tube manufacturer went into transistors because the former saw themselves as the manufacturers of a single product that, of course, eventually became obsolete. IBM would have disappeared if it saw itself as a punch card processor. I have counseled high level people who were distraught because they identified with their former job titles instead of the output of their talents.
That B-52 roused the two eagles who live just over the tree line to the south, and they began circling, figuring, I guess, that the noise would drive some rodents out into the open, and they might as well capitalize on the unexpected racket.
Those eagles are in a lineage must older than that bomber. And I’ll remind you that my favorite creature, the Tyrannosaurus rex, was part of a group that lived for about 140 million years, eliminated only by a rare, galactic event.
The current times, too, will pass, and in the near future the stock market will rebound, housing will climb back, and oil prices will retreat. Then, all of that will become threatening once again! Get used to it.
The only person who can create stability for yourself is you. Take a stand. Promote your value. There are 6 billion people on earth, many of them in need of what you can provide. Start circling.
© Alan Weiss 2008. All rights reserved.