Monthly Archives: May 2011

Don’t wake up at 60 wishing…

Adding a new category to this blog — Encouragement. The original intent of this blog was to provide “nuts and bolts” information for those considering making the JumpToConsulting. You know — if you just knew how to do it (or how others had done it), the rest would be a piece of cake.

But recently it hit me that fear and uncertainty were even bigger issues. Not that I’ve never been afraid, but I don’t recall being paralyzed by fear either. Particularly in business situations — after all, as Bob Parsons (founder and CEO of GoDaddy) says in his Rule #4 , “…if it doesn’t work, they can’t eat you…”

The epiphany occurred at a recent one day workshop by Alan Weiss, the Million Dollar Consultant (TM.) It was part of his Friday Wrap (TM) program, which I enjoy as a thought provoking weekly tonic on the consulting business. When he brought up the importance of self-esteem, however, the floodgates opened.

I sat there amazed as several very successful and intelligent attendees confided their irrational fears. Some were concerned about achieving success (Can I do it?), and some were concerned about handling success (Do I really deserve it?) One even confessed fears about losing it (What if I can’t repeat it?)

Thus, the new category — Encouragement. No, this won’t be rah-rah stuff, but I’ll occasionally share some ideas, along with some helpful references.

To kick this off, here is a reply to a recent posting by Chris Gullibeau at the Art of Non Conformity (a favorite blog of mine.)

Chris tells of Rachel, his young seat mate on a recent international flight. She was very successful, but quite discontented with her job. The problem —  it was a “good job” and thus hard to leave. If nothing else, what would people think? After all, she had spent years to get two financial degrees, and was now jetting around the world for her employer. She was a “success,” but clearly unhappy.

Judging by the numerous replies, many others felt the same. So, to offer some encouragement, I submitted the following:

  • It seems like only yesterday I pondered these questions. One guiding principle for me – “I didn’t want to wake up at 60 and regret not even trying…”
  • So I made changes. Scary at times, but most worked out fine.
  • At age 30, left a comfortable job as an engineer to try sales. Scary at first, but had fun. Made some new friends. Learned a lot.
  • At age 34, left to join a startup. Fun a first, less fun later, lost money. (Even got fired one day.) Learned a lot.
  • At age 36, started a consulting firm. Failed. Crawled back into a corporate job. Learned a lot.
  • At age 38, went back into field sales. Great fun, made good money, made more friends. Learned a lot.
  • At age 41, started consulting company again. Market crashed the first day in business. Succeeded anyway. Been a blast. Made more friends. Learned a lot.
  • Age 64, still consulting. No regrets. Financially secure. Also raised two sons, married 43 years. Still learning, still having fun. But where has the time gone?
  • Big lesson to share Life is way too short to waste doing something you no longer enjoy! Don’t wake up at 60 wishing…

In short, I did it, and you can too. No horn tooting here — just offering some encouragement.

So let me know if you found this helpful. And remember what Franklin Roosevelt said the day after Pearl Harbor — “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” True in 1941, and still true today.

© 2011 – 2013, All rights reserved.

Resource Review – Enchantment (and more)

This resource review covers three books by best selling author Guy Kawasaki.

The original intent was to review his latest book, Enchantment. But after reading it, I decided to include two more books: The Art of the Start, and Reality Check. These three nicely combine both the practice and the philosophy of starting businesses.  They are recommended for anyone contemplating a business — consulting or otherwise.

Guy is an entrepreneur supreme. He started as a technology evangelist at Apple, and was very instrumental in the success of the Macintosh. Later he co-founded (an on-line magazine rack) and Garage Technology Ventures (a venture capital fund.) Along the way, he wrote ten books. In his spare time (???), he plays hockey and enjoys life with his wife and four children.

Guy also graciously shares his insights and experiences. When I mentioned him in a previous blog post, he responded with an offer of his new book, Enchantment, just hot off the press. When it arrived, I couldn’t put it down — it was truly enchanting!

Having already read Reality Check, I then decided it was time to read the Art of the Start too.  It had been on my “To Read” list for a while anyway. Glad I did. Here are my comments on the three books:

  • Enchantment is about changing hearts and minds to create an affinity for your products or services. The early chapters address issues such as likeability and trustworthiness, followed by chapters with practical marketing information. Finally, you don’t need to be on our own — he even includes a chapter on enchanting you boss — and more. A quick and worthwhile read.
  • The Art of the Start is a practical guide for anyone who wants to start anything. While the sections on pitching and raising capital are not directly applicable to consulting startups, the details on branding and rainmaking are very relevant. Good business advice for any small business.
  • Reality Check focuses on critical strategies for startups, with chapters on innovation, marketing, selling, communicating, competing, and even beguiling. While much of the focus in on product firms, the lessons are applicable to service firms too. Almost 500 pages of great stuff.

As you may have noted, his books are aimed at small business startups in general, not service firms in particular. The details on marketing and sales, however, are invaluable for anyone  considering a JumpToConsulting. Remember, this is the Guy who put the Macintosh on the map against some pretty stiff odds.

Guy also shares his expertise on line through his blog at the AMEX Open Forum. Visit his home page at for a link to his blog and other resources. I’ve not met Guy, but certainly look forward to meeting him in the future.

All three books by Guy Kawasaki:
-Enchantment – 2011- Portfolio/Penguin – ISBN 978-1-59184-379-5
-The Art of the Start – 2004 – Portfolio/Penguin – ISBN 1-59184-05602
-Reality Check – 2008 – Portfolio/Penguin – ISBN 978-1-59184-394-8

© 2011, All rights reserved.

Location Independent Consulting

Sick and tired of your daily commute? Ever dreamed of running a consulting firm from a cabin in the mountains or a condo on the beach? Or maybe an RV, or even an overseas location?

Well, some people are doing that already, as “location independent consultants.”

Thanks to the Internet and other advances in technology (powerful lab top computers, cell phones, satellite access) the dream is not only feasible, but practical as well.  By relocating to a less expensive area, you could even save  money and make your start up more financially viable. Here are several examples of people practicing location independence.

The Woodwards ( – When Lea and Jonathan Woodward got fed up with the rat race in the UK, the decided to set up their own Internet based business. Lea had started out as a London based management consultant, and Jonathan was graphics designer.

Both had gone through some rough times, including the death of a parent and a job loss.  Either of those events can cause you to take a fresh look at life, and where you are going. Looking for less expensive digs, they left the UK in 2007 in search of a new home and a new lifestyle.

Then the unexpected happened — they discovered they liked being nomads, and ended up living and working in the Caribbean, South Africa, and Thailand. They started a blog and newsletter about their experiences, and wrote several detailed guides (all available on their web site.) The guides sell for a nominal cost, proving you can also make a living as trailblazers, helping others to follow your lead.

Geeks on Tour ( – Since 2003, Jim and Chris (along with Odie the perfect poodle) have lived full time in their RV as they toured the country. No, they are not retired — they run a popular computer consulting and training business serving the RV community.

In addition to their information packed blog, they provide computer seminars at RV parks and rallies, on line video tutorials, and install the popular Datastorm satellite dishes. As full time RVers themselves, they are both knowledgeable and well respected within their “target market.” What an interesting niche for a couple of fellow geeks!

As they state in their blog, they are still dependent on their savings, but they are on a path to a self-sustaining lifestyle. In the meantime, they are living their dream, not just thinking about it.

Your truly –( – As part of a two person engineering consulting firm, my business partner and I often joke that we may be the smallest company with two corporate headquarters — one in Minnesota and one in Arizona. Yet, thanks to today’s technology, our dispersed firm works very well. With broadband Internet and FedX, it is not much different than being down the hall or down the street from each other.

But wait – there’s more.
On a recent plane trip, I discovered my seat mate was a fellow consulting engineer. He was heading back to his single person office in China, where he was part of a  mechanical engineering firm with single person offices in China, Singapore, India, and the US.

When I asked what led him to China, he explained that after working with a client there, he decided to try living there for a few years. Incidentally, he was about 60 and had escaped from corporate life a few years back. No rocking chair retirement for him – he was now having a blast.

So, if you have the wanderlust or just want to try a new location, location independent consulting might be right for you. Check it out.

© 2011, All rights reserved.

Management vs. Technical Consulting

Consultants come in all types of sizes, shapes, and specialties. However, most fall into one of two broad categories — management consultants or technical consultants. While both provide services and advice aimed at helping the client, there are some significant differences.

As a consulting engineer, I am more familiar with the technical category. Nevertheless, I’ve known and worked with a number of management consultant over the years, so I feel comfortable sharing observations on this category as well.

Technical consultants are usually problem-oriented, and typically live in a “concrete” world. Most are specialists by education (engineers, doctors, lawyers, accountants, architects, etc.) with years of advanced professional education and experience.

  • Most technical consultants focus on solving technical problems or addressing compliance issues. (Think doctors, accountants, lawyers, and most engineers.)
  • Other technical consultants, however, focus on creating new ideas, concepts, and products. (Think architects and design engineers.) They all apply hard science, logic, and even art to achieve results.
  • Technical consultants often need to be licensed by government boards before they can offer their services to the public. The licensing requirements are strict, and require in-depth examinations combined with suitable professional experience. As such, they can confer a high degree of credibility.
  • A word of caution. Non-licensed professionals can be censured or even jailed for practicing without a license. Don’t even think about practicing medicine or law without a license.

Management consultants are usually process-oriented, and typically live in an “abstract” world. Most are generalists by education (business, liberal arts) but may have extensive experience in business specialties (marketing, advertising, personnel, etc.)

  • Most management consultants focus on solving business problems or improving business processes. Profitability and ROI are major measures of success (or failure) for management consultants.
  • Management consultants are typically more “people oriented” than technical consultants, and often apply soft science (psychology or market research) and emotional appeals to achieve results.
  • Management consultants rarely require specialized legal licenses, but may still need simple business licenses.
  • In order to enhance credibility, many  management consultants pursue certifications by nonlegal entities. Depending on the client, these credentials may or may not have meaning, so choose your credentials with care.

Two different types of consultants — two different cultures. In my experience, the two types sometimes even distrust each other, but much of this is due to misunderstanding. Personally, I have great respect for both types of consultants. Hopefully this post has promoted some tolerance regarding these cultural differences.

As a final thought, consider opportunities where the two cultures collide. For example, if you have a technical background combined with marketing or finance experience, you’ll have a big advantage with high tech clients over the liberal arts major.

The same is true if you have management background combined with legal or medical experience — you’ll have much more credibility in your core community than a generic consultant. I’ve seen successful examples for both.

The bottom line — understand the differences, and then build on your own unique strengths and experiences.

© 2011 – 2012, All rights reserved.

Resource Review – Rainmaking Conversations

For this month’s resource review, I’ve selected Rainmaking Conversations by Mike Schultz and John Doerr. This brand new book describes a sales approach based on their proven RAIN sales model. Well written, this book should be on every consultant’s bookshelf (after reading it, of course.)

The authors are co-founders of the Rain Group, a sales training and sales performance improvement company. Their customers include professional service firms and other companies that sell complex products and services (technology, pharma, medical devices, etc.)

As such, they certainly understand the unique challenges of selling intangibles like consulting. They also co-authored Professional Services Marketing, which nicely complements Rainmaking Conversations.

Incidentally, if you are brand new to consulting, rainmakers are those who generate new business. In large firms, a few rainmakers often bring in most of the business for everyone to work on. In a small practice, however, everyone needs to be a rainmaker!

This book uses their RAIN model that shows you how to:

  • Build trust right from the first contact (R – Rapport)
  • Uncover both problems and dreams (A – Afflictions/Aspirations)
  • Make the economic case for purchase (I – Impact)
  • Paint a vivid word picture for the future (N – New reality)

The book emphasizes sales conversations, not manipulation. In short, selling consulting should NOT be like selling a used car — but rather like talking to a friend or colleague. When placed in that context, selling consulting services can even become enjoyable. (It is for me…)

In addition to the books, the Rain Group has a strong on-line presence. They host a couple of free blogs and a fee based membership web site . The latter offers numerous reports, white papers, webinars, podcasts, and other useful resources. The current annual fee is $299, and is well worth it.

The Rain Group also offers a two day seminar based on the RAIN sales model. Last year, they turned their popular seminar into an on-line class, complete with forums and monthly workshops.  If you like the book, you may want to consider their on-line program for even more depth.

One caveat for geeks – the book focuses on business consulting rather than technical consulting. As such, RFPs (Requests For Proposals) are not covered.  RFPs are often mandatory for technical consultants (like engineers and architects) who deal with government agencies (local, state, and federal.) Certainly not a show stopper — the rest of the material is excellent.

I recently met Mike Schultz (loved the bald head), and have been a RainToday member for a year. I also took their on-line selling class and enjoyed it. After 23 years of consulting and 10 years in high tech sales and marketing, I still picked up some useful ideas.

The books and other services by the Rain Group are highly recommended.

Rainmaking Conversations by Mike Schultz & John Doerr
John Wiley & Sons, 2011 – ISBN-978-0-470-92223-1 –  RainMaker BlogRain Selling Blog

© 2011, All rights reserved.

SIGN UP here and get FREE copy of "So You Want To Be A Consultant?"

*Required Fields

FREE Webinar
Coming Soon…
  • FREE Monthly Teleconference