Greg’s 5th Annual Consulting Update
It’s that time again!
Greg’s annual business update.
If you’ve been on the list, this is number five in a series. Yep, I’ve just completed the fifth year of solo consulting. Each year I’ve take a day or two and sketched out my biggest learnings from the year and I share them with you.
Past editions have included learning how companies define consulting, the importance of distance, using everyday stories, and the market value of predictable revenue. (I have links to them at the bottom of this note.)
This year, I have a few stories to share, plus I did an extended cut with a video if you’d rather just watch that.
On to the lessons:
1. This year I was called in to repeat a board workshop for an organization. When the caller said, “They loved you and want you to bring in a few more exercises for them this year,” I couldn’t let go of the first part of that sentence.
They loved me.
I knew this group well because I had slaved over a three point workshop that broke through some tough communication barriers and uncovered a great insight from a quiet participant resulting in an audible gasp from the boardroom. It was, I remembered, a transformative experience for them.
“What did they like best?” I said, “was it my China communication story or the fast strategy tool?”
She thought for a second and said, “They didn’t mention those things but they did say you finished early, and got the meeting right back on track.”
The lesson reinforced my claim that people don’t remember your tactics as much as they remember your intent. Double check your intent. “Why am I doing this?” If it’s for your ego, re-evaluate.
2. The more I try to move away from lead generation projects, the more of them I get. A firm brought me in for an assessment of their marketing spend. We poured through the data, set an objective, agreed on where they would see results, set a timeline between two to four months, and put a price on it. I helped their marketing staff with some experiments, gave them some language to use with their vendors, and, as sometimes happens, got lucky. Inside the first six weeks of activity, two of their biggest pieces of business ever came through the door. For the most part, we were done. Mission accomplished.
The call came from the senior partner. “Greg, when are you coming back in town?”
I didn’t have any plans to go back, the project was done, so I said, “I’m not sure. What are you thinking?”
“Well, we thought this was going to take longer. . .”
The conversation wasn’t pleasant as we revisited the reason they had reached out to me (marketing budget spiraling out of control) and the results we were after (lower spend, better results, new markets) and I had to pull out an old plumber value story to justify my fee for his results.
The lesson is that for as much as everyone says they want results, we still over-value effort. I’m not sure if it’s a leftover from our old factory mindset, “an honest days work” or something, but it’s there. Serendipity is real, but we don’t like to admit it.
3. My future self wants to do more things like fishing. Fly fishing to be exact. This year I learned there are some world-class trout streams in Iowa, so I checked it out. I didn’t want to embarrass myself on a busy weekend, so I went on a quiet Monday. The area around tiny Dorchester, IA is beautiful and the streams are as advertised. I spent a morning stalking fish and struggling to get a bite. I could see them approach my fly, but couldn’t catch one until BAM! What looked like a big trout grabbed my little fly and dove to the bottom of the river, taking my line under a log or something. I had to wander out and free the line/fish or whatever. I was wearing waders but it was warm so I had rolled them down to my waist. The river was a little deeper than I expected and when I reached the log I could feel cold water rushing into my waders as I struggled to free my line. Now I’m sloshing around, kicking up silt and ruining the fish habitat as I try to make it back to the bank. I toss the rod up on the bank and try to haul myself out of the river. In addition to my heft, I have goodness knows how many gallons of water holding me back. As you can guess, I made it up, dumped out my pants out and sat there, feeling something like accomplishment.
The lesson is that when I think back on my year, I remember little experiences like that more readily than I remember cashing big checks or buying cool things. Invest in experiences.
Bonus lesson: the only way to get better at something is to try. I will probably never be a trout whisperer, but I can sit on the bank with wet shorts and read a book with the best of ‘em.
Year five was a good year.
Here are some 2016-17 stats.
I finished a commercially published book (50,000+ words at the publisher)
That took 80 free-writing sessions (releases ideas from my brain)
and 8 book proposal revisions. (the next one will go faster)
52 weekly Right FIT newsletters
32 blog articles (most popular “Why do companies hire consultants? My list of reasons why.”
1 Amalgamate booklet
1 co-written booklet
4 coaching engagements (1 on 1 engagements)
8 mentions in the press
When I add it to my last five years results, I’m able to account for over ten million dollars in added value to readers and clients. More than most provide, less than others offer, but effective nonetheless. After five years, I can say my approach isn’t for everyone, but it works.
Tell your favorite growing business about me and if I can help you, let’s set up a time to talk!
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Past editions of Greg’s Annual Update:
Year 1 – Greg Chambers updates you after 1 year of consulting
Year 2 – Greg Chambers updates you after 2 years of consulting
Year 3 – Greg Chambers updates you after 3 years of consulting
Year 4 – Greg Chambers (yes, same guy) updates you after 4 years of consulting