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Jumping ship as a path to Consulting…

Here is a comment I made over at Abandoned Cubicle regarding making more money from your cubicle job. I mentioned Cubert once before, as he quietly (and anonomously) plots his course towards Financial Independence.

In this post, Cubert recommends negotiating your salary. Many people (particularly engineers like Cubert and me) can be reluctant to do so. But if you don’t ask, you don’t get!

He also recommends jumping ship if you are still unhappy. It took me a while to figure that out, but once I did it made a big difference. Thus, my story on jumping ship:

Good advice. By jumping ship into my last corporate job (over 30 years ago) I doubled my income the following year. And I got to work for a great company and a great boss.

How did I double? Moved back into sales engineering. My new base salary was the same as my old salary, plus I now got commissions, bonuses, and a company car. And it was great preparation for starting my own engineering consulting firm several years later.

So I heartily agree with jumping ship if you are unhappy with your compensation. And I heartily recommend technical sales or better yet, starting your own firm. Sure worked well for me.

The bottom line. We are all responsible for our own careers. If unhappy, take charge — don’t wait for others. And don’t be afraid to stretch yourself (as I did when I went into sales engineering — and later into consulting.)

For therein lies the path to Independence (Financial, Occupational, Location, and more…)

P.S. Interested in consulting?  Check out my FREE webinar recently done for the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers), my technical society.  Watch it Here. 

© 2018, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Free Recorded Webinar – So You Want To Be a Consultant?

Curious about consulting? How to get started? My FREE one hour introductory webinar on consulting is now available on line. Click here.  

Learn some basics on how to start, build, and maintain a small part-time for full-time consulting practice. I briefly address four key questions I’m regularly asked:

  • How do you get leads?
  • How do you set fees?
  • How do you decide what to consult about?
  • Last, but not least – How do I get started?

Sponsored by the IEEE Consultants Network (Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers – my professional society. This talk has been shared at several technical conferences and has been well received.

Coming soon…

  • “Consulting for Geeks”, an e-book from the IEEE.  Selected posts from JumpToConsulting.
  • “Consulting for Newbies”, a multi-module class that expands on the one hour webinar. *

*Soon to run a pilot class, with limited enrollment & personal interaction at a special cost. Interested? Contact me at daryl@jumptoconsulting.com

Sign up for the Newsletter for updates and announcements on the above.

© 2018, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

A epiphany on financial priorities…

Time for a mini-rant…

While walking the dog (Sami the Shih Tzu) a few nights ago, I was struck with an epiphany of sorts. It involved a neighbor and his vehicles.

Parked in his driveway were a new Cadillac Escalade and a new Audi, along with a pretty nice Harley motorcycle. Nothing wrong with that, except he has complained in the past about not being able to retire.

That is when it struck me. For the cost of those vehicles, he could have bought a rental property, which would increase in value with time (rather than decrease) and throw off cash in the meantime. He would own a cash producing asset, rather than cash sucking liabilities.

Which is what we did several years ago. We bought a rental property, and continue to drive two old vehicles instead (a 10 car old truck, and a 20 year old sedan.) I could care less about impressing the neighbors.

The cash flow is great — the property has increased in value — and we enjoy the tax advantages of being a landlord. It has outperformed many of our other investments.

Not bragging or criticizing here. Just sharing an observation.

Maybe my attitude came from starting and running my own business – or maybe it was a reason I was able to do so in the first place. Hmmm…

Too many people have told me they would like to start their own business (including consulting), but can’t afford to do so. Yet they drive fancy cars and more.

It is often just a simple case of financial priorities.

End of rant…

P.S. Remember – Uncle Daryl want YOU to find your freedom too — financial, occupational, and more.

Read more here:

© 2018, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Do The Hard Stuff … Not The Cool Stuff…

When trying to decide on what to consult… don’t go with the cool stuff that everybody else wants to do (and thus won’t pay for)… rather, go with the hard stuff that others don’t want to do (and will gladly pay for.)

We learned that lesson thirty years ago transitioning from part-time to full-time consulting. As engineers, we would hear about design projects that sounded cool. But those were the projects that in-house engineers kept for themselves.

On the other hand, clients were happy to farm out the not so cool jobs — such as EMI (electromagnetic interference), and area where we had years of experience.

So we decided to focus on the “table scraps” of EMI. But those table scraps proved lucrative, and we both made small fortunes doing what others did not want to do. And we got to do it as independent consulting engineers.

Another bonus was most clients did not need full time EMI help. So we moved from client to client, quickly picking up new experience and knowledge. We also escaped corporate politics, a major reason for making our JumpToConsulting in the first place. Freedom rocks!

Others have stumbled into the same solution. When engineering colleague Ken Wyatt approached early retirement, his original plan was to teach wildlife photography, a long time passion. But he quickly found little interest — although cool, nobody was was willing to pay serious money for something they could learn on their own as a hobby.

So Ken went to Plan B. (As engineers, it is a always good to have a backup plan.) He began consulting in the same area as his old job (EMI.) Was he going back to work? No, he was building a new business the has proved quite successful. And like me, he enjoys his freedom.

Incidentally, we were delighted to have Ken join us in the EMI fray. It was like having another doctor in a town full of sick people. With my business partner’s passing and my pulling back, I now regularly refer business to Ken. Would not have happened if had stayed with the cool stuff.

This is good advice for all — not just consultants. A recent magazine article told how high-tech companies often struggle to find programmers to work on the tough problems — while there is an abundance of those who can write simple phone apps. The former is hard — the latter is cool.

One last example — my older son, the catalyst for this blog. With an MBA in finance, he loves business and is now a CFO. At one time, he hung out his consulting shingle, until a client made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. A side benefit of consulting — high visibility into opportunities you might never see otherwise.

Early in his career, he worked for an accounting firm. Lacking his enthusiasm for finance, I commented, “People like me will pay people like you good money to do their taxes.” He just laughed. It may not be easy —it may not be cool — but it pays very well and he enjoys it.

Finally — as a consultant, remember that people will pay YOU good money to solve their HARD problems — but not their COOL ones.

Last year, millions of 1/4 inch drill bits were sold — not because people wanted to buy 1/4 inch drill bits — but because they wanted 1/4 inch holes.

Other posts you may find of interest:

© 2018, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

The Synergy of Training and Consulting…

If you are a consulting firm, consider adding training to your services… if you are a training firm, consider adding consulting. There is a strong synergy between the two.

I recently enrolled in a course on how to develop on-line training classes. Two goals:

  • JumpToConsulting – Develop a multi-module course for newbies (or choose just curious) on how to start/build/operate a small consulting firm. Always in the back of my mind, this is the thrust of this blog.
  • EMIGURU Put existing class materials on-line for engineers seeking information on EMI/EMC (electromagnetic interference & compatibility), the thrust of my engineering consulting firm for the last 30+ years.

Both are offered in the spirit of “do some good —have some fun – make some money.” Watch the blog for more details as both unfold.

A key point in the course building class is combining a personal touch with the training. That touch spells the difference between information and education.

When we started our engineering firm, our efforts were aimed at solving problems. But not long after starting, clients began to ask for help in preventing future problems. So we developed some training materials to address those wants and needs.

Eventually, the revenues from the training side of the business often exceeded the revenues from the consulting side of the business. But rather than abandon consulting, we kept both efforts going. And that decision was a key to our success in both areas.

First, the consulting often fed the training. After solving a problem, we asked if clients would like to prevent them in the future. The problems themselves provided fodder for the classes. Nothing like showing students how to identify and fix real world problems.

So developed and offered both in-house and public classes.

The latter came later, and were more tricky, as we had to master promotion in addition to presenting. We found targeted direct mail worked the best. We tried e-mail, but had poor results. Too much spam, I suppose.

The public promotions were not cheap — we typically mailed 50,000 to 75,000 mailers per year. It took a while, but paid off when we finally solved the promotions puzzle. As a result, I suggest you pursue in-house classes first.

Second, the training often fed consulting. This is where the public classes really shone. When students had problems, we were often the first the called for consulting.

If you don’t feel ready to do full promotions for public classes, consider free talks or workshops sponsored by professional groups or trade shows. While you don’t get paid, you don’t pay for the promotion. Such talks can still bring in business, while enhancing your credibility and visibility.

The synergy of consulting and training worked very well for my consulting firm. Training was often scheduled months in advance and assured future revenues. Consulting filled in the gaps. The synergy provided a nice balance in both time and money.

To kick off my consulting class, please join me on February 8 for a FREE one-hour webinar “So You Want To Be A Consultant” sponsored by the IEEE, my professional society. Hoping to inspire some engineering colleagues, but all are welcome. REGISTER HERE.

© 2018, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Webinar – So You Want To Be a Consultant?

Curious about consulting? How to get started? Join me for this FREE one-hour webinar.

Thursday, February 8, 2018 at 2PM EST

Register Here

Sponsored by the IEEE* Consultants Network

*Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers – my professional society.

Learn some basics on how to start, build, and maintain a small part-time for full-time consulting practice. I’ll briefly address four key questions I’m regularly asked:

  • How do you get leads?
  • How do you set fees?
  • How do you decide what to consult about?
  • Last, but not least – How do I get started?

This talk has been shared at several technical conferences. But you don’t need to be an engineer (or an IEEE member) to attend – it is general and it is FREE.

All part of my secret plan to help those interested enjoy the consulting life as I have for over 30 years as a full time consulting engineer.

Happy New Year! Is this the year YOU hang out YOUR consulting shingle?

© 2018, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

2017 Annual Review…

Another year gone… and once again time to reflect… and to look forward. 

Got this idea from The Art of Nonconformity, and have done it each year since 2011.

So as always, I’ll review three categories:

But first, a quick overview…

The JumpToConsulting project is now SEVEN years old. What started out in 2010 as questions from my son, has now expanded to over 250 posts on how to start,build, and maintain a small consulting firm.

Many of these posts are the result of your questions, so please feel free to ask. Your questions and feedback inspire me to keep going. And stick around — I’m hatching plans to expand things in 2018.

JTC has been a labor of love. After thirty years as an independent full time consulting engineer, I’m happy to share what I have learned — and am still learning 🙂

JTC has also been fun. A good way to learn more about about blogging and writing. That curiosity and drive to learn is what led me to consulting in the first place.

The EMI-GURU project is now almost FORTY years old (full time since 1987.) It also has been great fun, and quite successful. I made a lot of friends, traveled the world, and am comfortably “semi-retired” – whatever that means.

EMI-GURU  let me to practice my profession as an Electrical Engineer in a ways I could not even imagine as a college student or young engineer. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Much of what is discussed here is based EMI-GURU experiences. The stuff I talk about is not theory — rather, it is real world and based on those 40 years of consulting!


Jump-to-Consulting – The blog is now over 250 posts. The blog has helped several new consultants. That includes both genders – consulting is a great way to break ceilings and stereotypes. Along with a great way to become independent and free – the big driver for me.

Launched a bi-monthly newsletter. It both lists recent blog posts plus additional tidbits. Sign up here and you get a FREE copy of my white paper “So You Want To Be A Consultant?

Special thanks to Michael Katz at Blue Penguin Marketing for his excellent on-line course. (Disclosure — I have NO affiliation with Michael, other than I love his stuff.)

EMI-GURU – Continued to wind down the consulting firm, as it morphs more fully into a training firm. No longer consulting, I refer inquiries to colleagues. However, taught four live classes this year, with another one scheduled in two weeks.

Teaching is another love – nothing like seeing a student suddenly “get it.”

Personal — Continued the semi-nomadic life of heading north to MN in the summer (where there is family) and heading south to AZ in the winter (where there is no snow.)

Sami the rescue mutt continues to bring joy, along with daily exercise as a “personal trainer.” Hope you enjoyed her Holiday Greeting.


Jump-to-Consulting – Got some exciting plans. An e-book is about to release, along with an on-line webinar. Both are  in conjunction with the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers), my professional. Incidentally, both are applicable to non-technical consultants too.

Looking into expanding the webinar into a more in depth on-line class. Also considering other enhancements, and will stay blogging of course.

Watch the blog for more details. Better yet, drop me a line!

EMI-GURU – More plans here. Continue teaching technical classes, but not more than once month. At the same time, looking on-line training based on existing materials. About to sign up for a detailed class on the process.

Decided 2018 is the year to expand into on-line education, which rather excites me.

Personal – Along with learning and implementing on-line programs, spend time time reading, writing, and traveling in our little RV. Fire up the ham radio. Play with the mutt, and just goof off. Life is good here!

Wishing you all the best in 2018 — and THANK YOU for reading my blog!

© 2017, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Happy Holidays 2017…

Have a Merry Christmas … or else…

Thank you for your interest in my work at both JumpToConsulting and EMIGURU.  Wishing you the joy, peace, and happiness of he season, and all the best in 2018!

From our house to yours — Uncle Daryl, Mary, and Sami the Shih Tzu.

© 2017, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Just Say No…

Sometimes just saying NO is the best thing you can do. It worked for me when at a career fork in the road 33 years ago.

The post was inspired by Cubert at Abandoned Cublicle.  Cubert is a young family man on his quest to financial independence, who blogs about his journey. For obvious reasons, he keeps his identity private.

Here is my reply to his most recent blog post on saying NO: 

Here is a favorite personal “NO” story:

Started a new job with a great boss. Like me, an engineer, and who also had an MBA. He kindly encouraged me to do the same, as the company would fully reimburse for the MBA. The school had an excellent reputation, and many years later my older son got his MBA at the same school.

But I had this terrible itch to start my own engineering consulting firm. Not yet FI (financially independent,) I was seeking OI (occupational independence.) BTW, the OI soon led to FI. It also led to LI (location independence.) Funny how those things work out.

Back to the story. After one class, which I enjoyed, it was apparent my fellow students were primarily interested in climbing the corporate ladder. I was not. So I said “NO” to the MBA, and devoted my time to learning how to start my own firm while beginning to build a client base through moonlighting. (BTW, I was VERY careful to avoid conflicts of interest.)

Three years later, about the time I would have received the MBA, I hung out my consulting shingle. That was 30 years ago, and I NEVER regretted saying NO the the MBA. Instead, I said YES to what I wanted to do. Not only satisfying, it has been financially quite rewarding.

Finally, this is not a knock on MBAs or any other degrees. (Both sons have advanced degrees that have served them well.) But just make sure they will take you where you want to go. And don’t be afraid to say NO.

I had the pleasure of coffee with Cubert recently when in MN* – he is well on his way to independence. Way.to.go. If you are interested in independence (FI, OI, FI, or ???) hop over to his blog.  Stick around here and I’ll share my advice too.

* For 20 years , LI for me has meant winters in AZ and summers in MN – another bonus of saying NO.

Today’s Take-away – Saying NO to something means saying YES to something else…

Here are some past posts you may find relevant to this post:

© 2017, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Showing some gratitude…

Thanksgiving is here again, and it is good to show gratitude. Sadly, that seems to be lacking in today’s polarized world. But here are some things I am grateful for:

My parents — Although both gone, they poured their love into my brother and me, and offered us the encouragement to be whatever we wanted to be. Thanks, Mom and Dad!

My wife Friend, confidant, life-partner, and lover for almost 50 years. Without your support, I would not be writing about my consulting adventures. Thanks, Mary!

My sons —  You both make us proud, not only of your accomplishments, but also for the wonderful fathers and husbands you have become. Thanks Darren and Chris!

My grandchildren — You brought us joy, and the hope and promise of a bright future for the world. Thanks Raymond, Maxine, Thomas, Joseph, Chloe, and Charles!

My little mutt Who knew 18 pounds of fur could bring so much happiness? And who rescued who anyway? Keep wagging that tail, Sami!

My clients — It has been a sincere pleasure to work with you. Not only have you allowed me to live a dream life, you have taught me so much. Thanks to each and everyone of you!

My colleagues –– Your gracious sharing of information and ideas enhanced my abilities to serve my clients. Thanks especially to my late business partner Bill, may you rest in peace!

My advisors You guidance has kept me on the path to success and prosperity, which I now enjoy in my “golden years.” Thanks to all of you!

My friends — Last, but not least, thanks of all of my friends over the years – many who are in the above categories. Thanks for the simple gift of friendship!

In closing, here is a quote I recently ran across:

Gratitude, like faith, is a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it grows, and the more power you have to use it on your behalf.

If you do not practice gratefulness, its benefaction will go unnoticed, and your capacity to draw on its gifts will be diminished.

To be grateful is to find blessings in everything. This is the most powerful attitude to adopt, for there is a blessing in everything.

— Alan Cohen

Happy Thanksgiving to all! — Uncle Daryl

P.S. So what are you grateful for this Thanksgiving?

P.S. Here are three Thanksgiving related posts:

© 2017, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Veteran’s Day 2017…

Just hung out the flag – something we do each Veteran’s Day.  We do so to honor our veterans – two in particular – my brother-in law, and a college friend. 

  • Rest in peace, Sgt. Melbye. You can read a tribute to my BIL – A Veteran’s Day Story.
  • Rest in peace, Pvt. Novak. Vietnam took you way too soon – hope you enjoyed the pivo we poured on your grave at our recent college reunion. It just seemed right.

Thank you to all who have served!

© 2017, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

The Law of Triviality…

Ever been in a meeting where some jackass wastes everyone’s time with trivial arguments? Just happened to me at a recent HOA (Home Owner’s Association) meeting. Thus, this blog post…

As consultants, it is often our job to keep meetings on track and to keep clients focused on the important issues — not the trivial.

This is not a new business problem. Way back in 1957, C. Northcote Parkinson coined Parkinson’s Law of Triviality, or PLOT. This is the same Parkinson who created the more general Parkinson’s Law. In essence, PLOT says:

People argue most about the things that matter least.

Also known as the “bikeshedding,” Parkinson observed organizations give undue weight and attention to trivial issues. He demonstrated this with two examples: the cost to build a bicycle shed, versus the cost to build a nuclear reactor. While experts on reactors are rare, everyone feels knowledgable about building a shed.

Thus, minutes may be spent on a critical decision on the reactor, but hours may be spent on trivial decisions on the shed. Not only that, the less informed often feel the need to compensate for their reactor-ignorance by spouting off on their shed-expertise – trivial though it may be.

So how does one handle that as a consultant? 

Robert’s Rules of Order can help. But even when following RRO, so here are some additional suggestions:

–Have a printed agenda – If somebody goes off topic, gently bring them back by pointing to the agenda

–Send the agenda in advance – Insist that attendees review the materials ahead of time.

Resolve in advance –  If issues can be resolved off-line, do so and report the results.

Highlight decisions that need to be made – This keeps the focus on the important issues.

Limit speaking time – If someone blathers on, politely shut them off. (I suggest three minutes, but be flexible.)

Ask why – This is particularly useful if someone want to ramble on about “sheds.” Ask “why is this relevant?” or “why are we spending valuable time on this?”

 Does all this work?

Much of the time, but not all of the time. But my asking “why” shut down a showboater at our recent HOA meeting. She was upset, and let me know, but several attendees thanked me later for politely cutting her off.

Finally, if you are running a meeting (or even just attending), remember Parkinson’s Law of Triviality. Don’t let some ignorant jackass spout off about bike sheds.

P.S. Here is Parkinson’s better known law: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

© 2017, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Solve problems and report the results…

As a history buff, I found some real wisdom in a recent article about General George C. Marshall, a man highly revered for his management, wisdom, and consideration of others.

One week after Pearl Harbor, he placed then Col. Eisenhower in charge of military planning and operations. Here is Eisenhower’s recollection many years later.

Just before dismissing me, he gave me some brief instructions that I have never forgotten. I can repeat his words almost verbatim:

“Eisenhower,” he said, “the department is filled with able men who analyze their problems well but feel compelled always to bring them to me for a final solution. I must have assistants who will solve their own problems and tell me later what they have done.”

Although not at war, I had a similar experience in my career (before consulting.) Having just started a new job as a sales engineer, my new boss gave similar “marching orders.” Like Ike, I remember the words almost verbatim too:

“Daryl,” he said, “the only way you will get in trouble with me is if you sit on a problem too long. First, do whatever you need to do, but if you finally run into a brick wall, come get me. In the meantime, please take the ball and run with it and tell me about it later.”

My response was, “John, I think I’m going to like this job.”  And I did, only leaving the company to follow the dream of starting my consulting firm.

This is great advice for consultants too. It is not enough to merely identify problems. While you do need to keep the client “in the loop”, you must be ready to solve the problems and report the results!

© 2017, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Apologize… and fix…

A critical test of a business is how it handles mistakes. Done right, you will have a customer for life. Done wrong, and you will lose them forever. 

That is what is so perplexing about Donald Trump – who never apologizes. As a “successful” businessman, you would think he would know better. But apparently not.

The latest fiasco with Sgt. LaDavid Johnson, the soldier killed in Niger, is just another in a string of self-inflicted wounds on his credibility, and that of the Republican party. It was only compounded with General Kelly’s added comments on Congresswoman Frederica Wilson.

The simple solution for both is to man up, apologize, and ask for understanding and forgiveness. Not “punch back” or lie about it. Simple apologies would solve the latest crisis.

This was not meant to be a political rant, but rather a learning moment. If you screw something up, apologize and fix it — fast — even if you feel you are not completely at fault, and even if it costs you. Think humility, not ego.

I’ve done so several times over the years. Here are three examples:

  • When we misspelled a company name on a report (not entirely our fault) we immediately reprinted several hundred copies at our expense. Lost money on the small project, but future work made up for it.
  • When a student was given the wrong hotel for a class (not even my mistake as I was a contract instructor), I arranged for a local room, transportation, and took him to dinner. He went from upset to grateful and happy.
  • When my company (as a sales engineer) shipped a lemon to a customer, I yanked it and replaced it. At first my boss was upset (we had “procedures”) but later praised me for the decisive action. The customer bought many more products from us.

As a consultant, your future business depends on your reputation. It’s easy — just follow the Golden Rule. If you make a mistake, don’t be a jerk — just apologize and fix it! 

P.S. Consider this a quick test. If you are upset that I stepped on your political toes, I suggest you forget about consulting. Ego will kill your business even before it starts.

© 2017, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Happy Liberation Day!

It was 30 years ago today – the day the market crashed in 1987 – that I began consulting full time. Talk about timing! I’ve often mused the FIRST day in business was the WORST day in business. All that followed were better!

No, I don’t think Kimmel Gerke Associates caused the market to crash. But who knows? Maybe it was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. Doesn’t matter anyway — what DOES matter is that we took the chance —  and better yet, succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.

Yes, it was scary. But we survived, thanks to preparation and planning. I stepped out first, and a few months later, so did my late business partner. That was the plan — we didn’t want to sink our little start-up, but it was soon apparent it could support two of us full-time.

There had been a false start several years earlier. After three months, it was obvious the timing was not right, and that there was a LOT more we needed to know about starting and running a full-time consulting business. This after nine years of moonlighting.

This time, however, the timing looked good. Thanks to the personal computer explosion and new government regulations, the opportunities were there for our specialty — designing for Electromagnetic Interference & Compatibility (EMI/EMC). Quite the mouthful, right?

Already an esoteric niche, there were few other consultants, and most specialized in defense projects. We too shared a lot of defense experience, but decided to “go where the others ain’t.”  Pursuing an untapped market niche with needed experience spelled success.

Over the years we expanded into other niches – medical devices, industrial controls, vehicular electronics (planes/trains/automobiles/farm machinery), facilities, telecommunications, electrical power, and more. All the while expanding our computer (micros to super-computers) and defense niches (submarines to outer space.)

Eventually we also expanded from a local firm to a nationwide firm, even doing the occasional international project. This was aided by a book/supplement to a national engineering magazine, along with a seminar program teamed with a major test equipment company. The latter turned us into a training company too.

So how is the view looking back on 30 years? Absolutely beautiful, and I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. Not only was it great fun, we made many friends along the way. Including our financial advisor (another consultant) who manages the money we both socked away for our golden years. (Thanks, Tom.)

As many of you know, Bill Kimmel, my good friend and business partner passed away in 2015 from cancer. At my last visit with him, we reminisced about the good times and how satisfying it was to practice our engineering profession as independent consultants.

With tongue in cheek, Bill did wryly express one regret — maybe we should have made our JumpToConsulting even earlier!

So what next for me? I’ve cut back on consulting projects, and refer them to (mostly) younger colleagues. It helps them like I was helped 30 years ago. I still teach multi-day seminars, but at a reduced frequency. Next one in December.

Call it multi-person consulting, it is something I have always enjoyed.

I also stay involved with professional activities and other interests like the JumpToConsulting project. By year end, I hope to have an e-book on consulting available through my professional society, the IEEE (Institute of Electrical & Electronic Engineers.)

Small payback for the many benefits received over the years from this fine organization.

So please join me in celebrating my Liberation Day. And if you are so inclined, start planning yours!  Stick around here and I’ll do my best to help you out.

Peace — Uncle Daryl

© 2017, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Good Advice from the “Million Dollar Consultant”

Good advice from a consulting newsletter by Dr. Alan Weiss, the “Million Dollar Consultant.”  He graciously allowed me to reprint it here. 

I remember working in my early years as a consultant with a company that had a defective product problem. They responded by sending two of the products for every one returned. That’s right, they sent two defective products to atone for the original defective product. My company told them to find the cause of the defect, but they got all tangled up in blame and politics, and the company went under.

We often pride ourselves on “contingent” action. That is, we’re proud that we corrected ourselves once we found we were lost. Or we spend a lot of money on fire insurance. Or we jury-rig something to work that wasn’t assembled correctly the first time. And those are, of course, important traits.

But they aren’t the most important traits. We waste time being lost and may be late or inconvenience people. We won’t prevent fires with insurance, especially if we have poor building codes or allow people to smoke in dangerous settings. The jury-rigged will never perform as well as the original assembly’s integrity.

It’s important to do things right the first time, or at least to find out why we didn’t so we don’t repeat the error. That’s important with raising children, forming relationships, and determining your future. You want to steer your kids away from trouble, not have to “rehabilitate” or treat them later. You want to deal with relationship issues without have to wind up in a therapist’s office. You hope that the sprinkler system and fire insurance is never needed because you’ve been attentive to preventing fires.

Contingent action—which address effects, not cause—is expensive, time consuming, and embarrassing. And it’s nowhere near as effective as preventive action—addressed at possible causes. After the sprinkler system does what it must, the furniture is ruined. After you get back on the right course after being lost, you’ve still squandered a lot of time.

Take a look around. Do you find yourself, at home or at work, spending a lot of time dealing with symptoms and effects you’d rather have avoided altogether? If so, change your focus to preventive action. Stop fighting fires and start preventing them.

Copyright 2017 – The Balancing Act (R) Newsletter – Alan Weiss PhD

I’ve followed Dr. Weiss for many years, and made him one of my first resource reviews in 2011. He has written over 30 books on consulting, has several newsletters and a blog, and conducts workshops around the world.

Although his primary focus is business/management consulting, his ideas are valuable to technical consultants too.  Like a Dutch uncle, he can be blunt but his advice is always sound. Thanks for sharing, Alan!

© 2017, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Some marketing references…

Here are some marketing references from Michael Katz, the Chief Penguin of Blue Penguin Development, a marketing service firm for solo professionals. 

Although I’ve never met Michael, I have been a fan for some time. Last summer I even supported an on-line broadcast for the Blue Penguin Content Club.  

Unfortunately the Content Club has been discontinued, but you can still catch the broadcast here. (30 minutes on writing magazine articles.)

Full Disclosure — No affiliations with Michael, other than I really enjoy his newsletters (and his humor.) I recommend signing up for his newsletter. Also, check out his on-line courses. 

P.S. – Read my original 2013 Resource Review on Michael here.

© 2017, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Sales as a bridge to consulting…

Contemplating consulting, but unsure how to get the business? Consider a stint in sales as a bridge to consulting. That is what I did as a Sales Engineer, and am I ever glad I did.

Since sales & marketing are central to starting and building a consulting firm, the experience was invaluable. Without the sales experience, I doubt I would have made my own JumpToConsulting.

  • Prior to the jump, I spent seven years as a Sales Engineer, and three years as a Technical Marketer.
  • This after ten years in Design & Systems Engineering, where I learned the technical craft of EMI/EMC (electromagnetic interference/compatibility) – the focus of my consulting expertise.

Technical experience is often not enough- you need business experience as well. My combination of design, systems, marketing, and sales all contributed to my later success as an independent Consulting Engineer. 

For me, Sales Engineering was my bridge to consulting. Works for non-technical consulting too.

Read more in my recent magazine article “Sales Engineering — Is it for you?”

P.S. As an aside, I moonlighted during my sales/marketing time to keep my technical skills sharp. The key was to avoid conflicts of interest. 

© 2017, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Bigotry and business don’t mix…

Time for a mini-rant… While I try to stay politically neutral, this seems particularly appropriate these days… 

Don’t mix business with bigotry!

Last year I read about a pizza place that was under fire for saying they would not serve at a gay wedding. Then they whined that the press was out to crucify them. Really?

What if they had refused to serve Blacks…or Jews…or ??? Didn’t we get over that in the last century? (Based on recent events, maybe not…)

Furthermore, how foolish! With the country equally divided on so many social issues, why alienate half your potential customers?

But let’s be positive.

What would have happened if they said they WOULD serve such customers? Let me share the Pittsburgh Willy story.

In 2012, I wrote about Randy’s success as a successful Arizona hot-dog entrepreneur. Yes, he is not a consultant, but I love his hot dogs… and his stories.

One of my favorite stories was how Randy became a preferred vendor in the local gay community. Sorry to say, Arizona is not the friendliest place for gays. But when asked to support the Gay Rights parade several years ago, he readily agreed.

He and a friend even carried a banner. He joked they were a minority — perhaps the only two straight guys in the parade. Later he served gourmet dogs from his hot dog cart to a hungry crowd – the only hot dog vendor to do so. Pretty good business decision, huh?

In addition to being a good businessman, Randy is an very friendly and funny guy. So when asked to support a gay event in Bisbee AZ, once again he agreed. He was the only hot dog vendor invited to the event. As an aside, one of his gourmet hot dogs – the Big Willie – was a huge hit 🙂

Randy graduated from the hot dog stand, and has since opened a restaurant in Chandler, AZ. The dogs are great, and EVERYBODY is welcome there. Just good business!

So as a consultant (or any other businessperson) I suggest you do not tolerate discrimination or hate of any kind.  DON’T add bigotry to the mix! 

<End of rant>

P.S. If this post offended you, don’t consult. If you can’t look beyond your own views, you don’t have what it takes to succeed as a consultant.

(More here from folk musicians Peter, Paul, and Mary.) 

© 2017, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

An Interesting Quote…

Picked this quote up from a consulting blog I follow:

We learn from the top 10% of our highest performing clients. For the other 90% of clients, we need to lead.

While the author is a management consultant (and self-proclaimed non-technologist), it also applies to technical consultants.

P.S. Keep learning. And remember to feed BOTH bank accounts.  

© 2017, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

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