Anecdotes & Musings

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Consulting Fee Study…

Here is a link to a recent fee study by Consulting Success.

While this blog focuses on general business consulting, technical consultants should find this of use as well.

FYI, typical fees at Kimmel Gerke Associates were project based. Typical projects were in the $5,000 – $20,000 range and up. Typical annual compensations exceeded our corporate salaries, plus providing retirement funding, profits, and tax benefits.

As such, we did better than staying “employed.” Plus we had a lot more fun and freedom.

Not bragging — just saying it can be done. But it doesn’t happen overnight or without some work. You first need to build “credibility and visibility.”

Never too soon to start the process, so ask “What can I do TODAY?” Best wishes…


Here are three posts to help you start…


P.S. May slow down here for the summer, but stay tuned as I continue to share  thoughts on making your own JumpToConsulting.

© 2017, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

That’s what partners are for…

Two years ago this week my good friend and business partner of 40 years passed away from cancer. Time has softened the pain, but the sense of loss is still there.

While I generally recommend against partners, our partnership worked very well. We often mused about why it worked, when we had seen so many others fail.

Were we just lucky, or was there more?

Upon reflection, here are seven reasons:

(1) Respect – Neither of us tried to “boss” the other – it was a partnership of equals. We respected opinions, even when they were different. We checked our egos at the door.

We recognized the old saying, “If two people agree on everything, one of them is redundant.”

(2) Maturity – We were both in our 40s when we went into full-time consulting. We had achieved a level of business maturity. Not saying you can’t consult at a younger age, but a few gray hairs (or even no hair) can actually make age a friend.

As the late Howard Shenson said, “The forties are a good time to start consulting. By that time, you know what you are good at and like, and what you are poor at and don’t like. The secret is to focus on former, and ignore the latter.”

(3) Experience – We both brought unique experiences to the firm. Although we were both Electrical Engineers with similar technical experiences, Bill had management experience and I had sales/marketing experience.

As such we complemented each other in those two critical areas. Over the years, we both learned a LOT from each other as well.

(4) Honesty – Having both been burned by unscrupulous colleagues in the past, we pledged never to do that to each other. Nor to our clients. Integrity matters.

We followed the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

(5) Longevity – For ten years, we worked together part time. So by the time we went full time, we already knew we worked well together.

We knew each other’s strengths, so we could take advantage of them. We also knew each others jokes 🙂

(6) Humor – Very important, we shared a sense humor. Often mildly cynical, neither of us took things too seriously. We joked and laughed a lot — even after the occasional disaster.

Our wives would often shake their heads as we rehashed some of those disasters.

(7) Support – On more than one occasion, we backed each other up – with very little notice.

When Bill lost his voice midway through a class, I was on a flight that night to rescue him. When my mother-in-law had a stroke, he jumped in and rescued me.

No apologies were ever needed. As Bill was fond of saying, “That’s what partners are for…”

So what final advice can I offer on partners? Proceed VERY carefully — I’ve seen too many cases turn into disasters. Use the seven reasons above as a checklist.

But I’ve also seen successes. My attorneys, my accountant, my financial advisor, and my doctor are in small practices and enjoy the camaraderie and support of congenial partners.

 Like a good marriage, if you can make a partnership work, it can be wonderful. But like a bad marriage, the disasters can be devastating. 

P.S. With Bill’s loss, I decided to cut back on the consulting. His passing was a grim reminder that life is not infinite. But I have great memories with my business partner, and would not trade them for anything.

© 2017, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Urgent vs Important…

Got this from a newsletter to HOA (Home Owners Association) board members(*). Struck me as such a good idea I decided to share it here.

It is called the Eisenhower principle. In a 1954 speech, US President Eisenhower said:

I have two kinds of problems: urgent and important. The urgent are (often) not important, and the important are never urgent.

Eisenhower recognized one must be effective as well as efficient. We need to spend time on the important things — not just the urgent ones. To wit:

  • Important activities have outcomes that lead to achieving our goals.
  • Urgent activities demand immediate attention, and typically involve somebody else’s goals. However, the consequences of not dealing with them can be critical.

To use this principle, list all of the activities you need to address, no matter how unimportant. Next, prioritize the activities (1-10) Then put each activity in on of the four following categories.

Schedule activities based on the following:

  • Category I – HIGH urgency and HIGH importance — DO IT NOW
  • Category II – HIGH urgency and LOW importance – DELEGATE IT
  • Category III – LOW urgency and HIGH importance – SCHEDULE IT
  • Category IV – LOW urgency and LOW importance – DUMP IT

Eisenhower was highly productive his entire life. Prior to being the 34th US President (1953-1961) he was the Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe (Five Star General), served as President of Columbia University and was the first Supreme Commander of NATO. And he still found time to golf and paint.

This simple tool is useful to both you (as a consultant) and your clients. Thanks Ike!

P.S. Visited the Eisenhower Library in Abilene KS last year. Well worth the visit if you are a history buff like I am.

(*) About to move my HOA responsibilities to Category IV. When all people want to do is whine but then do nothing, it is time to move on. Just like dealing with bad clients.

© 2017, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

It’s not enough to solve problems…

Got this pearl of wisdom over dinner with a client.

A fellow engineer who had become a director for a defense contractor, we were discussing how engineers were attracted to solving problems. He paused, and said:

“It is is not enough to merely solve problems. We must anticipate them as well. Something I always emphasized to engineers working for me.”

Although I had never heard it stated that way, I realized he was absolutely right.

This insight applies to consultants as well!

— Thanks Bert Newman (who eventually started his own firm in retirement.)

© 2017, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

On handling “stumbles”…

Here is a reply I left at one of my favorite blogs/web sites —  Pamela Slim — a champion of starting and building small businesses (not just consulting.)

In her post, Pamela discusses how to react after a “stumble,” including her own examples.

She asked for comments, so I shared mine:

One of the best pieces of advice I got on “stumbling” was shared with me almost forty years ago. As a brand new sales engineer (I had pivoted from ten years of design work) my boss sent me to a sales training class.

During a break, I asked a a more experienced classmate how he handled losing a sale.

His reply was “Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move on. ”

He went on, “Furthermore, if you’re not failing (stumbling), you are not trying hard enough. Every failure is a learning experience. After twenty years, I still lose sales but I’m doing just fine. ”

Ten years later, that advice was invaluable when I started my own engineering consulting firm. Actually, I started twice, and the first time I stumbled badly.

But I tried again later, and then the first day in business (1987) the stock market crashed. Scary, but I succeeded anyway.

That same advice sustained me again when my late business partner and I started a training operation in conjunction with the consulting. It took us four times to get that right.

We eventually ended training over 12,000 students in hundreds of multi-day classes around the world. What a blast! Glad we didn’t let a few stumbles stop us from that adventure.

Pam is so right! Don’t stop – just step back and figure out what to do next — and next — and next. It took Thomas Edison hundreds of trials until he got the light bulb right. But when he did, he lit the world.

Yes, I’ve discussed this topic here before, but it is worth hearing again.  Remember the jingle we all heard as kids, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

But before you do, back off and evaluate.  You may need to try something different. As Albert Einstein said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.”

© 2017, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

What if it doesn’t work? At least you tried…

Probably the NUMBER ONE QUESTION if you are standing on the edge of the cliff, about ready to make your own JumpToConsulting.

So, what if it doesn’t work? The brother of Go-Daddy founder Bob Parsons once told him, “Well, if it doesn’t work, they can’t eat you.” Parsons is now a billionaire.

Incidentally, web registration was the backup plan for Go-Daddy — the original plan was on-line tax software. Always good to have Plan B!

Full disclosure — my son (a catalyst for this blog) was their Controller when Go-Daddy was just starting out. He has great stories about working for Parsons, and might have stayed but moved back to Minnesota for personal/family reasons.

My son has since gone on to several more entrepreneurial adventures – including a stint consulting – which ended when a client made him an offer he couldn’t refuse as a VP of Finance.

Probably the simplest solution is to climb back into the corporate womb. I did that myself after a false start. Got laid off (fired actually) from a startup, so I hung out my shingle.

Not good planning. After three months, it was clear this was not going to work — at least for now. My “Plan B” was to find another job, which I did.

But the itch was still there, so three years later I tried again — and succeeded — even though the stock market crashed the first day in business. Thanks to the first try, however, I was much better prepared.

But what if you are successful, and just don’t like it? There is no law that says you must stay a consultant forever. As a bonus — you are likely valued more by your new employer.

Here are two more examples:

Dave specialized in EMI/EMC engineering (electromagnetic interference and compatibility) as I did. He started several years before me, and built a successful practice.

Shortly after I made my jump, I ran into him at a trade show. He was now working for a company. Concerned, I asked him why.

“Why the move?” I asked. “And is there something I need to know?”

“No, not at all,” he replied. “A client made me a very attractive offer. Besides, I was getting tired of having to hustle for business. This new move is a dream job for me, but I only got it due the visibility of consulting.”

Dave did quite well in his new position and enjoyed in immensely.

Steve, another engineer, was a talented writer and editor of a technical magazine. We met through my efforts to write articles (a favorite marketing method) and stayed in touch.

Several years after I started JumpToConsulting, Steve hung out his consulting shingle as technical marketer. We shared ideas, and thanks to his talent, hard work, and contacts, he was very successful within a year.

But then Steve stopped consulting. Concerned, once again I asked why.

“What happened,” I asked.

” Well,” he said, “I discovered I really like working with a team, and not all by myself. I miss the camaraderie.”

So like Dave, he went to work for a favorite client. He quickly moved onward and upward in his career.

Some lessons learned here:

  • You don’t need to be a consultant forever.
  • You may be seen as more valuable for your experience.
  • You have visibility to many more opportunities than had you stayed where you were at in the first place.

The downside is that once having tasted freedom it may be tough to go back. (It would be for me.) But given the right opportunity, maybe not. Careers can be funny that way.

P.S. Tagged this post in “Success Stories.” Even though all three examples eventually left full time consulting, they did so after trying and succeeding. No doubt they could do it again!

“Better to have consulted and quit, than to never have consulted at all.” 

© 2017, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Consulting as a choice….

As we begin a new year, it is time to reflect. Here are some thoughts on choices.

We all make choices in life. Among other things, I chose consulting — it did not happen by chance. I’ve long been inspired by this popular quote:

Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost

Choices once made rule out other choices. That is what paralyzes many – the fear of giving up options. But even if you do nothing, you have still made a choice.

Looking back on seven decades, here are some choices I’ve made:

  • Chose to study engineering – As a teenager, I was interested in many things. But my fascination with ham radio let me to choose Electrical Engineering. That choice ruled out other choices that also held my interest.
  • Chose to go into RF design – After graduating with my BSEE, I chose to go into RF (Radio Frequency) design. My first job was working on communications systems. At the time, computers (not RF) were all the rage. But I chose RF.
  • Chose to move to Minnesota – After being laid off (and losing my engineering innocence), I chose to move to Minnesota where my wife was born and raised. This ruled out other choices in warmer places (but I eventually made it to Arizona anyway.) This choice led me into EMI (Electromagnetic Interference) which later became the focus of my engineering consulting firm.
  • Chose to drop an MSEE – After seeing highly educated engineers laid off, I chose to drop an MSEE program. Instead, I chose to spend my time and efforts on more practical pursuits. This included a Master Electrician’s license and a PE (Professional Engineer) license, both beneficial for consulting. Later dropped an MBA program to focus on building my consulting firm.
  • Chose to move into systems engineering – After several years as a back room engineer dealing with EMI issues, I chose to make a job change. I sensed it was time to become more involved with customer problems, not just technical problems. It was also time to break out of the comfort zone. As a bonus, met my business partner.
  • Chose to teach & moonlight – After working in systems engineering, my business partner recruited me to teach an evening electronics class. I chose to accept the challenge, which led to other moonlighting projects, and eventually our own engineering consulting practice. That choice meant giving up other pursuits, such as vegetating with TV shows.
  • Chose to go into sales – After the itch to consult festered, I chose to change career directions again, and became a sales engineer. It required a lot of effort, but I knew I needed the experience if I was to eventually start/run my own consulting firm.
  • Chose to go with a startup – Along the way, a customer recruited me to join his startup. Seeing this as an opportunity to work in a small business, I jumped in. While the experience was good, this choice was not so good. Withing two years, I was replaced by a friend of the customer who lacked the cojones to jump in at the start. As is often said, it was a learning experience…
  • Chose to hang out my shingle – After losing my job, chose to hang out my consulting shingle. Timing was bad, funds were short, and I soon realized there was more to learn. So back into the corporate womb I went.
  • Chose to try marketing – After faltering with the initial consulting attempt, I chose to pursue a technical marketing position. It was interesting, and I learned a lot from my boss and colleagues. But I missed being in the field, so I chose to accept another sales engineering job. It turned out to be a good choice.
  • Chose to hang out my shingle again – this time older/wiser After several successful years as a sales engineer, chose to try consulting again. The itch was still there, and the timing was right. Or so it seemed, except that the first day in business (1987) the stock market crashed! But this time I was prepared, and I succeeded.
  • Chose to stay with it for the next 29 years -After the scary start (the first day in business was the worst day in business), things continually got better. Sure, there were some ups and downs, but overall it has been a very rewarding way to spend a career. If you are so inclined, I highly recommend it.
  • Chose to start this blog – After being asked many times about getting started in consulting, I started this blog five years ago. The goals were to share experiences and advice, and to inspire those who are truly interested in consulting. I’m happy to report that I’ve now helped several make their own JumpToConsulting.

Hope this post has given you some food for thought. The choices you make today will affect you tomorrow. But NOTHING will happen unless YOU choose to MAKE it happen!

Best wishes on YOUR choices in the coming year — Uncle Daryl

© 2017, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

A special invitation to women…in the age of Trump…

This post was inspired by “A Letter to Young Women, in the Age of Trump”. Very well said, but sadly, too many comments by trolls reflected the bullying Trump mentality.

One piece of advice she offered:

Think about starting your own thing.

This is what’s exciting; we have the ability to start our own businesses today, in a way we didn’t in the past. Why not take our marbles to our own playgrounds and build great businesses and cultures?

Our mothers couldn’t do this because the cost was so high – but the costs of everything-about-starting-a-business, including technology, people (i.e., freelancers), real estate (co-working spaces) and support services are coming down.

And then no one can relegate you to the less-interesting jobs.

So I want to extend a personal invitation to any woman reading my blog.

Please know you are most WELCOME here, and most WELCOME to join the independent consulting ranks. In fact, many of you already have. Some examples:

  • Pamela Slim(pamelaslim.com) /Successful consultant, author, speaker, and advocate for small business (and of of my favorite people in the world.)
  • Lynn Rausch – Successful nutrition consultant to the Native American communities in Arizona (started in retirement, but now fully retired.)
  • Susan Baier -(www.audienceaudit.com) – Successful market research firm, and the organizer of Laid Off Camp Phoenix. (Hope to feature Susan here soon.)
  • Joanna Hill – (JPHill, LLC) Newly minted engineering consultant. She attended my consulting talk in Ottawa, and we met again last night met at a professional meeting. (Her shingle is out… she has business… congratulations Joanna!)

A common thread among most of these successful businesswomen was not being recognized and appreciated for their contributions. So they took matters into their own hands, and build successful practices. Way.To.Go!

Nothing like the revenge of sweet success.  And it drives the “losers” nuts.

I understand those feelings. Although a guy, more than once I felt the same way. I did deal with some bullying, but at least I wasn’t battling sexual harassment.

So if consulting might be your gig (check out the GIG economy), join us here as I ramp back up. Everyone is welcome — regardless of gender, race, religion, nationality, sexual preference, or ???

As it should be. After all, as consultants we should be working to make the world a better place. In the age of Trumpism, we will need to work even harder!

P.S. To my two granddaughters –You Go Girls!–To my four grandsons–You Go Boys!–And to all six of you– be kind to everyone– and NEVER be a Trump bully!

© 2016, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

How big is the GIG economy???

Bigger than you think. According to a recent study by McKinsey & Company, between 20-30% of the working population in the US and Europe are free lancers (doing gigs.)

That translates to over 160 million people. Not too shabby, I’d say.

Rather than wade through the 148 page study, check out this latest post at Consultants Mind, a favorite blog of mine on consulting.

Although aimed at management consultants in both large and small firms, I find this blog well written and useful for solo-professionals too (including us technical consultants.)

To distill the data even more, here are some key points from the blog post:

  • Most consultants CHOOSE to work independently. More than 70% surveyed do so because the want to — not because they have too. This group is happier too — no great surprise.
  • One in six traditional workers say they would like to go independent. But many don’t because they lack the ideas, ambition, or grit. (If you have the ambition and grit, stick around and I’ll help you with ideas…)
  • Digital platforms enable freelance work. Thanks to the Internet and computers, it is easier than ever today to start and run a consulting business — from anywhere in the world. But you do need to develop your on-line presence to make this work.
  • This is NOT new. According to the author, 100 years ago 45% of the population was self-employed. As small farmers in rural Nebraska, all my grandparents and great-grandparents fell into that category. Furthermore, the author predicts the percentages will rise again in the next century.

The author was pretty critical of the original McKinsey report, saying the 148 page report was about 100 pages too long. He’s right – brevity is always better.

So save yourself some time and hop over here for more details.

Finally, the author challenges “retirees, students, and caregivers” to jump back into the economy – even if partially. If consulting is YOUR gig, follow me at JumpToConsulting and I’ll share my ideas on how to make your jump.

Consulting is a great life for those who choose it. I’m glad I chose it almost 40 years ago!

© 2016, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

On Not Being a Good Corporate Rat… the Interview…

Even at a young age, it was becoming apparent that I was not destined to be a good corporate rat. I just didn’t realize it at the time…

As a junior in Electrical Engineering, it was time to interview for a summer job. Rather important, for if successful, you would likely receive a full time job offer upon graduation.

It also increased your attractiveness to other companies. Plus you made a few bucks, always of interest to a college student.

Interviews were a new experience, and I was still trying to figure out the game. Fortunately, most of the interviews were simple — you talked about the company, the potential job, and what the company was seeking.

But then came the BIG interview, with the BIG prestigious firm. An industry leader with world famous labs and technology. Landing a job with them was a real plum.

Or so I thought. The interview started badly, and went down hill from there.

Rather than an engineering manager, the interviewer was a young HR lackey in a three piece suit. It was apparent he was pretty full of himself. Trust me, that sort of snotty attitude never sits well with engineers – including student engineers. (We don’t suffer fools.)

The interview began with the first of three questions. They were designed, the lackey assured me, to see if there was a “fit.” Here is how it went:

HR – “So what did you ever do that made you feel good?”

Me – “Say what?”

HR – “You know, something that gave you a sense of accomplishment.”

Me – (In my head – OK, I’ll play your silly game.) “Well, there was a class I was not interested in and and was on the verge of failing. So I dug in, worked hard, and ended up with a B. It was very satisfying.”

HR – “Wonderful.” Then after jotting some notes, he said, “What else?”

Me – To this day, I can’t believe what I said next. Something just snapped in my head. “Well, there was this girl once…” I had nothing specific in mind, but I was just pissed.

HR – “Oh, I didn’t mean to be personal…”

Me – Twisting the knife, I added, “That’s OK – I felt pretty good about it.”

HR – “Uh, let’s just move into the technical details.”

Me – “Good idea.”

Later, my engineering buddies were all grousing about the three dumb questions.

Me – “What three dumb questions? I was asked only one.” Then I told them what I said.

Buddies – “You didn’t really say that, did you?”

Me – “Sure did. And I have no regrets.”

The result – several buddies got summer engineering jobs. I got to spend the summer parking cars in the hot sun. So much for getting a head start on my engineering career.

Now for the second chapter. When the same company appeared on campus next fall,  I didn’t even bother to sign up for an interview. Based on the first interview, I figured there was no way they were interested in me.

But I was wrong. Not only was my GPA pretty good, but I suspect somebody actually liked my answer. Showed some spunk and originality.

So I got a call inviting me to interview, preceded by a steak dinner for all the interviewees. As a college student, I could be had for a free steak dinner. So I went, dinner and all.

The second interview started similar to the first. Another young self-important HR lackey in another three piece suit.

But upon opening my folder, he paused and said,

“Perhaps we should dispense with the preliminaries, and move right into the technical details.”

“Good idea,” I said, trying to read some scribbled notes upside down.

In spite of my non-conformist attitude, I did get a job offer. But I turned it down, as it was obvious to me I simply wasn’t going to “fit” their culture. Probably a good decision for all.

So looking back, it makes sense that I ended up as a self-employed consultant. Not the best choice for everyone, but it sure was for me. And if you share my independent approach to life, maybe the best for you too!

P.S. Celebrating seven decades on the planet today. Been a great ride with no big regrets. And very glad I made MY JumpToConsulting several decades back.

So I hope you enjoyed this personal anecdote — it is who I am 🙂

© 2016, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Afraid of selling? Don’t be…

This post was inspired by “Fear and Loathing in Sales” at Trusted Advisor. The author addresses the irrational fear that professionals often have about selling.

I once shared that fear. But realizing that if I wanted to be in business for myself, I needed to overcome that fear – or at least get some experience. So I sought out -and landed – a job as a sales engineer (Tektronix.) And did it again later for another company (Intel.)

What a pleasant surprise. I quickly realized that technical sales was different – in spite of some canned sales training programs to which I was subjected. I discovered it was not about manipulation, bur rather about helping the customer or client.

I found it to be fun –another set of engineering problems to solve. Not unlike consulting. 

It was really about having pleasant conversations with technical colleagues — about what they were doing, and how my company might help them. Sure, I had to deal with contracts and purchasing agents, but by the time they got involved, the buying decisions had been made. They were there to handle the business/legal details.

As a professional, you are like a doctor, not a car salesman. You are there to diagnose and prescribe, not to wheel and deal. You are there to help.

If you are still unsure and want to build your confidence, consider spending a year (or more) in sales as I did. No, you don’t need to be an extrovert. Many of the best sales engineers I’ve known were quiet introverts who were genuinely interested in their customers and their problems (and/or aspirations.) Just like good consultants.

But there is a process, which I first outlined in the Seven Steps of Selling. I’ll soon expand on each of those steps in a short series on selling consulting services.

Finally, don’t fear the selling process — embrace it. It is the essence of professional consulting. And remember FDR’s advice, “The only thing we have to fear…is fear itself.”

© 2016, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Opportunities Abound When Ecosystems Collapse…

This post was inspired by a 2011 post by Pam Slim (Avatars, Ecosystems, and Watering Holes), where she discusses creating you own healthy business ecosystem.

But what happens when an ecosystem collapses? Most people panic, but a few recognize the opportunities — often excellent for starting a consulting practice.

Scientists tell us every major extinction event was followed by an explosion of new life. A prime example is the asteroid that destroyed the dinosaurs, which gave rise to the mammals and ultimately the naked apes known as homo sapiens.

When an ecosystem collapses, the balance of nature is upset. Those at the top of the food chain (the huge dinosaurs) are displaced, and new opportunities explode (for the tiny mammals.) But eventually a new equilibrium is reached, and evolution resumes its slow grind.

So it is with business. Sudden changes give rise to new opportunities, at least to those willing to pursue them. The inertia of the dinosaurs often prevents them from doing the same. In fact, the dinosaurs usually fight the changes and thus miss the opportunities.

A minor engineering ecosystem collapse helped launch our consulting firm.

  • Thanks to the personal computer explosion, by the early 1980s electronic interference problems to radios and televisions were increasing exponentially.
  • As a result, the Federal Communication Commission issued new regulations.
  • But there were few engineers that understood the problems, and how to fix them.
  • Most of those engineers were well entrenched in the defense industry, and not interested in tackling commercial electronics.
  • Thus, the engineering ecosystem for addressing these problems collapsed.

Recognizing the opportunity, we jumped in with both feet. But the economy was teetering too, and the first day in business the stock market crashed (October 1987.) A double whammy. But thanks to multiple opportunities with very limited competition, we did very well.

A second collapse occurred in the mid-1990s. Driven by the same interference problems, the European Union passed strict laws on interference on a wide range of electronic devices. If you could not demonstrate compliance, you could not export to the EU.

  • Once again, many big players (the dinosaurs) missed the changes (the asteroid.)
  • Once again, the engineering ecosystem suffered a minor collapse.
  • Once again, the little guys (the tiny mammals) like us did very well.

This is when we launched our training business, which took off like a rocket. This time, people were hungry for both help and knowledge. We often joked that while the consulting paid the bills, the training funded the retirement.

Would we have the same quick success today? Probably not, unless the ecosystem again collapsed. The growth would be much slower under today’s more stable conditions.

So, don’t fear the changes. Rather, seek them out. Remember, when the ecosystem collapsed, the mammals proliferated and the dinosaurs died out.

© 2016, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Three Favorite Lifestyle Bloggers…

Scored the hat-trick*… meeting THREE of my favorite bloggers/authors/philosophers all in one week. How great is that?


Chris Gullibeau – Art of Non Conformity Chris was in town promoting his latest book, Born For This, already #5 on the NY Times nonfiction list.(To be reviewed in a future post.)

Like his earlier two books, this one focuses on figuring out your mission in life — and then doing something about it. He stresses the intersection of Joy-Money-Flow. Similar to my personal philosophy of Do Some Good – Have Some Fun – Make Some Money.

Chris also stresses the importance of quitting. Sometimes things just don’t work, and it is time to move on and try something else. Good advice, but counter to the conventional wisdom that “Winners Never Quit/Quitters Never Win” I agree with Chris — check this.

Along with his three books and other projects, Chris has visited every country in the world — a quest he completed by age 40. An interesting person, and worthy of reading his books and following his blog.


Pam Slim – Escape From Cubicle Nation & PamelaSlim.com – Pam was at the same book event to introduce Chris, a longtime friend. He claims her as his inspiration. I share the same sentiment, as Pam was an inspiration for JumpToConsulting.

Pam has two books under her belt, and has a third underway. Like Chris, she also focuses on careers and the world of work. As her first book name suggests, she is an entrepreneur and has helped many make their “escape” from soul sucking corporate jobs.

Her second book mellowed a bit, as she share insights about succeeding in the corporate world — at least if you are so inclined. After all, not everyone should be a solo entrepreneur. We still need big companies for big enterprises. I mean, would you fly on JumpToConsulting Airlines? I wouldn’t.

But the best part of seeing Pam again was simply getting a big hug from this very caring fellow Arizona blogger. Thanks, Pam.


Bob Lowry – Satisfying Retirement Journey – Mary and I had lunch today with another fellow Arizona blogger and his wife Betty. Bob was forced into an early retirement fifteen years ago, and started blogging about it at Satisfying Retirement Journey. 

Like Chris and Pam, Bob has a book under his belt along with hundreds of advice-filled blog posts. It is one of the more popular retirement blogs, and for good reason.

In addition to blogging and writing, Bob and I share interests in ham radio and RVs. In fact, as we traded RV stories, by the end of lunch we were both ready to head out for some new RV adventures.


A common thread shared with all three — along with blogging — is that all three have been consultants in past lives.

  • For Chris, it helped pay some bills starting out, but he soon moved on to group events like the World Domination Summit which now draws thousands every year to Portland, OR. Like training, he figured out how to leverage his unique talents.
  • For Pam, it was a transition from corporate life to that of a solo entrepreneur. She used the consulting fees she earned to be her own venture capitalist. She loves to tell the story of being pregnant, puking in the gutter, and then getting on a plane to visit clients – multiple times. Talk about dedication to starting a business!
  • For Bob, he ran a successful one-person consultancy for many years. He traveled all over the country as a radio advertising consultant. This was a natural for an ex-DJ and he had a great time. Joy-money-flow indeed. Then the market changed, and the business dried up. But he realized that he had enough stashed away, and that he no longer enjoyed getting on a plane every week anyway. So he switched gears, and started blogging, writing, and just enjoying life.

Three inspiring author/bloggers who have trod the consulting path, and who now share their advice and life experiences with their followers. It is a sincere pleasure to share all three with you!

When you’re done here, hop over to their blogs:
The Art of Nonconformity – Chris Gullibeau
Escape From Cubicle Nation/Pamela Slim – Pam Slim
Satisfying Retirement Journey – Bob Lowry

*A natural hat trick occurs when a player scores three consecutive goals, uninterrupted by any other player scoring for either team. The NHL record for the fastest natural hat trick is 21 seconds, set by Bill Mosienko in 1952 for the Chicago Blackhawks. — Wikipedia

© 2016, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Time to forge a new path…

It was a year ago this month that my business partner passed away from cancer. To say the past year was stressful would be an understatement.

Bill and I were good friends and business partners for almost 40 years. I miss him every day.

But life goes on. The fog is lifting, and the paths ahead looks bright. The big question is “Which path to take?” After much soul searching, the new path becomes clearer each day.

When a colleague recently inquired about my future plans, I gave this answer:

After much consideration, I’m winding things down here. I’ll soon be 70, so I decided to kick back. Twenty years ago I’d be a bit more motivated.

Been referring consulting jobs to several younger guys which is working fine. Still doing training, which I really enjoy (and which pays well.)

However, I limit myself to no more than one class a month. In the old days it was not unusual for each of us be on the road 30-40 times a year with consulting and training projects. Lot’s of fun, but I don’t have the energy for that anymore.

Still tying up a few loose ends, but ready to move on. I’ve been doing the JumpToConsulting blog for about five years, and plan to ramp that up.

I’ll be doing a presentation “So You Want To Be A Consultant” at the IEEE EMC Symposium in Ottawa in July, which I may expand into an on-line class. There is a book in the wings too.

My overall goal is to slow down and enjoy life. Goof off more. Travel in the RV. Spend time playing with the dog and the grandkids.

Bill’s passing was a reminder that life is not infinite. We had a great time with our business, but as a recently retired consulting colleague said, “It’s time to forge a new path…” That idea appeals to me too.

So how about you? Is it time to forge a new path in your life?

My consulting business was only one of several paths I forged. And I am happy to share my experience here, in the hope that it may help others forge – or at least explore – their new path as a consultant.

© 2016, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

A political rant and “thought experiment”…

‘Tis the political season, and all the mudslinging, lies, outrageous proposals. Not sure about you, but it makes me weary, and even a bit concerned. What really scares me is that so many blindly buy into all the political BS.

Maybe it is time to put this in perspective with a little rant. Allow me to share a thought experiment from an engineering consultation twenty seven years ago.

It was 1989, and I was doing an engineering class for the Kuwait National Petroleum Company. It was in between the Iran/Iraq war and the invasion of Kuwait. I worked with a great bunch of Kuwaiti engineers, and I hope they all survived.

Another US company was teaching a class at the same time at the same training center. Since we were housed together and shared many meals, I got to know my colleagues. As veteran travelers, they shared their insights and perspectives.

One of the trainers grew up in the Netherlands, and emigrated to the US as a child right after World War II. He told chilling stories of the Nazis rounding up Jews, not realizing at the time that he would never see his childhood friends again.

He had been a naturalized US citizen for many years, and one evening over dinner he posed this interesting thought experiment:

Suppose I take 100 unconditional US visas to any city in the world. I stand on a corner and offer them to anyone who is willing to return in an hour with only a suitcase and their family. In return for giving up their current citizenship, they will become US citizens.

How long will it take to get rid of those 100 visas?

Now, suppose I take 100 unconditional visas for any other country in the world. I stand on a corner of any city in the US, and make the same offer. Give up your US citizenship to become a citizen of another country.

How long will it take to get rid of those 100 visas?

This is not meant to wave the flag or brag on the US, as there are many other fine countries in the world, and many people change their citizenship.

But it does serve to put in perspective what we have here in the land of opportunity. I’ve known many immigrants who took advantage of those opportunities, with the US much better off as a result. Some are even consultants.

So maybe it is time to stop bitching, and start showing some gratitude. And maybe it is time to start acting like adults in the voting booth!

End of rant.

 

© 2016, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Follow your passion… NOT…

Too many “entrepreneurial” bloggers suggest you simply “follow your passion.”

Unfortunately, that alone is not enough. You better be able to make money at it! Here are two stories that illustrate the point:

The Ice Cream Store…

At a professional meeting some years ago, one of my colleagues said to ask Dick about his ice cream store.

“Ice cream store?” I responded. “We’re a bunch of consulting engineers. What’s with the ice cream store?”

“Just ask,” he responded with a twinkle in his eye.

So I did. As engineers, we often like to twist our colleagues’ tails, and I was pretty sure that was what this was all about. But it turned out there were some valuable lessons in the story.

Dick told how his daughter had long wanted to have her own business. Being a good dad, he agreed to help her. With stars in her eyes, she decided to open an ice cream store. Not a franchise, but an independent store, that she could decorate and run how she saw fit.

How cool is that?

Unfortunately, this was her first business venture. No customer surveys, no location research, no marketing of any kind. Build it and they will come, right?

With some luck, the store was moderately successful. Enough so that soon a second ice cream store opened up down the street. Another would be entrepreneur with stars in her eyes also thought it was a cool idea, and jumped in.

The net result. Neither store now made enough to break even. Within a year both stores went bankrupt.

There are a couple of lessons here:

  • Make sure there is a want or need for your products or services.
  • Make sure there are some barriers to entry.
  • Make sure there are enough customers able and willing to pay.

Just because it looks cool, doesn’t mean it is a viable business!

Roto-Rooter isn’t particularly cool, nor was our consulting practice. Like Roto-Rooter, we fixed problems that others did not care to handle.

And while our consulting practice was not as cool as an ice cream store, we enjoyed it — and we made a darn good living at it.

The Country Doctor…

In an earlier post, I told of my great-uncle’s medical bag, and how a few simple tools coupled with the right knowledge and experience saved lives in the early 1900s. His medical practice spanned a half century. A successful professional consulting career.

His first passion, however, was music. As a young man, he dreamed of being a concert violinist. But he realized the odds of making a decent living playing the violin were not good.

So he made a career out of a second passion. Healing people through the practice of medicine. Music became an avocation, not a vocation.

He found great satisfaction in both. He was an accomplished physician, and also an accomplished musician. Thanks to his decision, he lived life well.

I heard this story years later from his wife, my great aunt, who was also his nurse. Since he passed away when I was young, I hardly knew him. But I always found his decision to be very wise. Find something you like to do, AND with which you can make a living.

You can always make a hobby of other passions.

So before you quit your job to follow your passion, make sure there is a need, there are barriers to entry, and there are clients willing/able to pay. Otherwise it is just a hobby.

© 2016, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Are you an Ambivert?

Here is a reply I left on a LinkedIn discussion, titled “Are you an Ambivert?” The post was by Dr. Travis Bradberry, the co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0.

In his article, Dr. Bradberry challenges the conventional pigeon-holing of personalities as either introvert or extrovert. Rather, he points out that most of us are a combination of both traits. Furthermore, those traits may vary depending on the situation we are in.

He shares research showing those in the middle are often more successful, as they can better relate to both ends of the spectrum. He also points out that this flexibility can be learned through increased self-awareness.

My comments follow:

Great article! Please let me share a personal story,

Forty years ago I moved from engineering to sales. As most engineers are introverts, I was a bit concerned. After all, Dilbert is a documentary.

At a business workshop, we had to do short self-assessment. On a scale of 1-10, where 1 was an introvert 10 was an extrovert, I came in with a 4.

The instructor then asked for a show of hands for those ranking 8 or greater. His comment was, “Most of you are in sales, right?” I was crushed – thinking I was a round peg in a square hole.

Then he asked, “Any sales engineers here?” My hand went up alone.

He said, “You’re a 4, right?” I was amazed. Then he continued, with a grin, “You engineers just can’t get the needle above 5 no matter how hard you try.”

I stayed in sales engineering for about 10 years, and then started an engineering consulting practice which I ran for the next 30 years.

So thanks for finally pointing out I’m an ambivert. I always just assumed I was an engineering misfit 🙂 Who knew?

In my experience, most consultants (both management and technical) trend slightly toward introversion. After all, we’re thinkers and observers. So don’t let being an introvert stop you from making your JumpToConsulting.

Besides, if you are interested in consulting, you may well be an ambivert anyway!

© 2016, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

What excited you at ten years old???

You’re intrigued by consulting, but you’re bored with your job. The idea of the same old grind has little appeal. So what else might you try?

Ask yourself, “What excited me at ten years old?

Many of you pursued a career that really didn’t interest you, but did it because it was the “right” thing to do. Maybe there was pressure to follow a parent’s footsteps, or maybe you were simply advised to “be sensible.”

If you are considering a JumpToConsulting, take a look at what once REALLY excited you. After all, if you are going to make the jump, it might as well be fun. Here are two stories:

A survey of engineers…

Many years ago, my late business partner mentioned how he was intrigued by a science fiction story about a machine that could think. He was ten years old. This eventually led to a career in Electrical Engineering. He also mused how disappointing it was to find out later that computers were really dumb. But he was still hooked on engineering.

My experience was similar. At nine years old, I build a crystal radio. Hearing the local radio station in the headphones was pure magic. Like my business partner, I was hooked. I later got into ham radio, and ended up as an Electrical Engineer.

Based on this observation, we started surveying our clients and students. When asked when our fellow engineers (both men and women) first became interested in things technical, it was often around ten years old. The answer was consistent hundreds of times.

A ham radio story…

In the mid-1990s, I had a client who was also a radio ham. Both of us had recently jumped back into the hobby, so whenever we met, we discussed our latest radio adventures.

One day I asked him, “Why is the appeal of this hobby, anyway? It is really kind of dumb. Why spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to talk to complete strangers, when you can do the same thing for free on the Internet?”

He thought for a minute, and then replied, “You know, when I sit down to the radio, it only takes five minutes and I’m ten years old again. It’s the magic.”

So what excited YOU at ten? Can you turn it into a business? Give this some thought if you are contemplating a JumpToConsulting, or any other career change.

P.S. Maybe you were lucky, like me, and discovered a passion early. Only later did I realize how many people did NOT follow a passion–often to their regret. But is never too late…

© 2016, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Happy New Year 2016…

Welcome to a brand new year! Most years I am a bit sad to see the old year end, but this year I am happy to see 2015 out and excited to see 2016 in. The past year has been rough — but life goes on. Even in sad times, life is a grand adventure.

To put things in perspective, here is a list I received from my financial advisor (a fellow consultant.) Fun to read. It compares life in 1915 to life in 2015 — lot’s of changes in the past 100 years. I added a few of notes of my own.

In the Year 1915… (when my father was 3 years old…)

  • The average life expectancy for men was 47 years (now 76, and 81 for women.)
  • More than 95 percent of all births took place at home.
  • Only 6 per cent of Americans graduated from high school (now 81 per cent.)
  • Only 14 per cent of homes had a bathtub.
  • Only 8 per cent of the homes had a telephone.
  • The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower.
  • The American flag had 48 stars.
  • Fuel for cars was sold in drugstores.
  • The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.
  • The average US wage was 22 cents per hour.
  • Sugar cost four cents a pound.
  • Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen.
  • Coffee was fifteen cents a pound.
  • Canned beer had not been invented yet (Official “birthday” was 1935.)
  • The average US worker made between $200 and $400 per year.
  • An accountant could make $2000 per year. (Financial consultants did well.)
  • An engineer could make $5000 per year. (Technical consultants did even better – Thanks to Edison et al, engineers were giants in those days 🙂 )

Is this the year to hang out YOUR consulting shingle? If so, start NOW to make it a reality. Don’t wait 100 years. If you are already consulting, congratulations!

Either way, hang out here and I’ll share more ideas on how to start, build, and maintain your small consulting practice. Check on Mondays for the latest post. 

Happy New Year from Uncle Daryl!

© 2016, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Three choices…Accept … Change … or Leave…

On the fence about whether to stay or leave your present job? Here is some advice I was given many years ago as a young engineer.

In any situation, you have three choices … accept things as they are … change them … or leave…

Really quite simple. I applied this test several times, and several times ultimately ended up leaving. But only after trying to change things for the better. But as my career progressed, I eventually realized I was never going to be a good corporate rat.

Not all cases of leaving were precipitated by an inability to change things. To wit:

  • Laid off once when the company fell on hard times. Couldn’t change that.
  • Fired once when the boss decided to replace me with a buddy who didn’t have the cajones to join the start up at the beginning. Should have left earlier.
  • Left to make a career change from pure engineering into sales. No way to make that change with the current employer.
  • Left after a “less than stellar” review suggested my efforts (and changes) were neither fully understood nor appreciated. Decided not to accept it.
  • And finally, made my JumpToConsulting, leaving a company I liked but driven by the opportunity to follow a dream – and to make my own changes without the politics.

In the end, this simple “test” helped me make several critical career decisions. No agonizing — just applied logic and analysis.

Hope it helps you too – whether you are making a JumpToConsulting or not.

© 2015, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

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