Rants

On Competitive Advantages and other Buzzwords…

Time for a mini-rant, against advice often promoted by those wanting to sell you something.

For years, it was very popular in marketing circles to identify your USP (Unique Sales Proposition.) Large management consulting firms and their MBAs loved the term.

Later, that morphed into the UBP (Unique Buying Proposition) as the marketers realized the focus should be on the customer, not the product or service. At least it was a start.

Today, I read yet another marketing blog post that emphasized more buzzwords. (Be Unique, be the Thought Leader, blah, blah, blah…) The post segued into Positioning, Differentiation, Branding, etc. It even offered a comprehensive course on the topics.

But does all this apply to the small consulting firm? Often not, in my opinion. In fact, I suspect the overemphasis on buzzwords may prevent some considering consulting from actually jumping in. Paralysis by analysis.

Consider a surgeon. Does he/she need to be unique — the only specialist in the field or the most highly renowned surgeon in the world? Of course not. The surgeon simply needs to be able to help the patient. Isn’t that what consulting is all about?

Like the overworked Thought Leadership term, these attributes are not be necessary to start a small consulting firm. All you really need is Visibility & Credibility. These can be easily achieved with a bit of effort and some simple lead generation techniques.

So don’t let the fear of not being Unique, Differentiated, or Positioned stop you. While the buzzwords may apply to large consulting firms, they may not apply to you.

Pick your niches, start your marketing, and jump in. Time better spent than mastering another buzzword.

<End of rant>

P.S. Still not sure? Jump in part-time as a side-hustle. I did that for almost ten years, which greatly facilitated my full-time JumpToConsulting thirty years ago.

© 2017, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Saving for retirement…

Time for a financial rant – based on a recent news article.

One of the first things to do upon making your JumpToConsulting is to set up a retirement account. Trust me — years later you will be glad you did. I am!

According to a recent on-line article by CNBC, about half of US families have ZERO retirement savings. Nearly 70% of adults have less than $1000 in retirement accounts. Not good…

So take this important step right away, even if you are moonlighting. You can do it as part of setting up your business bank account, with automatic transfers to savings.

Better yet, set up automatic transfers to an IRA with Fidelity or Schwab.

We did this soon after starting EMIGURU. We first set up Fidelity IRAs. Several years later, our accountant suggested a Keogh, which let us put aside up to 25% of our income.

The best part is that 25% is tax deferred. In the meantime, compounding does its magic.

We use a financial planner with who manages the Keogh (and other investments) through Schwab. Fees are based on a per-centage of the portfolio, which in my opinion is the only way to go. As such, he is a fellow consultant and fiduciary, which means (unlike a broker) he puts my financial interest first.

Why not do it yourself? You can, but I prefer having a professional manager, letting me concentrate on making more money at what I do best. The same reason I use an accountant, lawyer, and other professionals.

Here are some savings guidelines/suggestions from the article:

  • By age 30, have your annual salary saved.
  • By age 35, have twice your annual salary saved.
  • By age 40, have three times your annual salary saved.
  • By age 45, have four times your annual salary saved.
  • By age 50, have five times your annual salary saved.
  • By age 55, have six times your annual salary saved.
  • By age 60, have seven times your salary saved.
  • By age 65, have eight times your salary saved

Fidelity simply recommends salary saved by age 30, and ten times your salary by age 67.

When younger, I must confess I was lax about this myself. Fortunately, my business partner insisted we do this. We started at age 45 for me. Never missed the money, and after 25 years at 25%, we both ended up with nice nest eggs.

Now at age 70 and starting to draw on the Keogh, I’m so glad we did this!

It is never to early (or late) to start. Do it TODAY – whether you are consulting or not!

End of rant. Remember, Uncle Daryl wants YOU to find your freedom too!

P.S. Stay tuned. The long promised Newsletter is about to launch, along with a free white paper based on a recent magazine article. If you have not done so, sign up now.

© 2017, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

A Thanksgiving Day Rant…

Time for a rant. This post was precipitated by a hate inspired event in my hometown – no doubt a direct result of the recent election.

Last week, fellow AZ blogger Pam Slim was a victim. Read here. It sickens me.

Then I asked myself why?   

Some say the election was economic backlash, but I don’t buy that. Maybe for some in the Rust Belt, but that doesn’t explain the rest of the country – particularly the affluent suburbs and the more prosperous rural states. No, something else is going on.

We live in one of the richest countries in the world, in one of the richest times in history. Ours is the land of opportunity – if you are willing to pursue it.  But you must be willing to work for it yourself – not blame others – particularly those different from you!

Maybe the reasons lie here. Too many people want “jobs”, but they don’t want to work. Or they live beyond their means, and suffer the consequences. Rather than take responsibility, they want to blame others for their failures. 

So when a demagogue comes along and tells them what they want to hear (not what they need to hear), they rally behind him. History tells us the same thing has happened before.

Sadly, this give rise to violence. Acts of hate are way up. Swastikas appear on churches and synagogues. White school children taunt their immigrant playmates. Little kids playing soccer hurl insults they don’t even understand to people they don’t even know.

But let’s be positive. What can WE do? As Pam put it, we can combat the hate with love and compassion.

  • We can work together to build community, as she and her Navajo husband Darryl are doing in Mesa with K’e, a place of kinship to nurture small businesses – and souls. Bravo, Darryl and Pam!
  • We can teach our children (and grandchildren) to show compassion. To love, not hate. To respect each other, and treasure our differences – not exploit them.
  • We can teach our children (and grandchildren) to show gratitude for what they have. To be satisfied –not constantly wanting more, and more, and more. To appreciate what is enough.
  • Finally, we can create our own success (consulting or otherwise) if we are simply willing to try… to work hard… to share… and to care.

So as you sit down to Thanksgiving dinner this year, forget the narcissistic jerks. Rather, give thanks for those in our communities who DO care!

Peace — Uncle Daryl

P.S. Sorry –I promised myself I wouldn’t go political, but the incident with Pam Slim was too much. Now, back to our regular programming…

© 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.

Avoid snarky political comments…

Time for a mini-rant.

With the political season in full swing, the snarky comments flow on the Internet. But as a consultant, not a good idea to publicize your views, no matter how tempting.

This post was inspired by a recent comment on a popular business blog. One guy took a cheap political shot totally unrelated to the discussion. Not only did it contribute nothing, it made him look like an immature fool.

Just out of curiosity, I visited his web site, thinking it might explain things. The site (a book store) was not political, so he unnecessarily alienated half his prospective readers/buyers.

As a strategy, leaving snarky comments might make sense if you were trying to attract those who share your views. For example, if you were selling a political book or raising political funds. Or perhaps as a political  “consultant”…

But if not, why take the risk?

Best to avoid politics, religion, and other volatile topics. And just good manners not to dump on another person’s website.

End of mini-rant.

P.S. I considered commenting on this breach of etiquette, but decided not to feed the trolls. Suggest you not feed them either 🙂

© 2015, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

Thought Leadership – Is is really necessary?

The short answer — NO! 

But you DO need to be able to help your clients. Time for a mini-rant.

If you are like me, you are probably weary of hearing about how you MUST become a though leader to succeed in business. Unless, of course, you are pitching books or programs on thought leadership.

But let’s back up. Just what is thought leadership, anyway? Wikipedia says a thought leader is “an individual or firm recognized as an authority in a specialized field, and whose expertise is sought and often rewarded.” Gee – that sounds like a consultant to me.

My big concern is the concept may hold people back. As in, “If I’m not a thought leader, how can I break into consulting?” Don’t let this business jargon bamboozle you.

Think about it. You doctor has specialized expertise that can help you. But do most doctors consider themselves thought leaders? I doubt it. Most just consider themselves professionals doing their jobs — helping their patients.

Now some doctors, such as specialists, may be considered thought leaders. When my wife had an unusual kidney condition, we consulted with one of the world’s experts at the Mayo Clinic. He fit my definition of a thought leader. Even then, he was modest to a fault. (Incidentally, he quickly diagnosed the issue, while ruling out any serious problems.)

There is nothing wrong with aspiring to and becoming a thought leader. But it doesn’t happen overnight, and you DON’T need it to get started as a consultant.

You DO need to identify your niches, and you DO need to be competent and experienced in those niches. In certain areas, you may need to be licensed.

OK, so I don’t need to be a thought leader to start, but how can I eventually become one anyway? Writing and speaking are two good avenues.

Magazine articles and white papers are a good start. A book is even better, preferably published by recognized publisher.

Speeches and seminars also good avenues. All these take time, however, so don’t expect to be vaulted overnight into a thought leadership position.

But don’t overlook just doing a good job for your clients. Experience is a big part of becoming a thought leader, and the only way to get experience is to  DO it — over and over.

Malcom Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours to really master a subject. Some pundits dispute the numbers, but the fact is it takes time and effort to become an expert – or a thought leader.

As an example, we started Kimmel Gerke Associates almost 30 years ago as a couple of reasonably competent engineers. To market ourselves, we started writing magazine articles and doing technical presentations. At that time, we did not consider ourselves though leaders.

Over time, this eventually led to 200+ articles, three books, hundreds of consultations, and training 10,000+ students through public and in-house seminars.

At some point, I suppose, we became thought leaders in our field – not that it really mattered to either of us anyway. But that came later, not right away.

NO, you don’t need to be a “thought leader” to make your JumpToConsulting. But the sooner you do make the jump, the the sooner you can become a thought leader – if that is even your goal in the first place.

© 2015, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.

How to piss off a prospect…

Time for a rant. This was precipitated by an unsolicited phone call early one Sunday morning, from a so-called “marketing firm” run by a so-called “consultant.”

Too bad he is giving consulting such a black eye.

Normally I’d let the phone ring, but for some reason I decided to answer. Actually, I was kind of curious as to what kind of jerk would call early on a Sunday morning.

Here is a short summary of the conversation:

Who is calling please? –Mumble, mumble, mumble.

Who? –RKX Research. (Not the real name*)

And who are you? –David.

David who? –Sorry, I can’t give you my last name for confidentiality purposes.

OK, David. And just where is RKX Research located? –Sorry, I can’t give you that for confidentiality purposes. But you can Google it.

OK, David. Then who is the CEO of RKX Research, and what is his number? –Sorry, I can’t give you that information for confidentiality purposes. But you can Google it.

OK, David. Did you know we are on the DO NOT CALL list? –(Haughtily) We’re a market research firm, and we are excluded from the FTC rules on DO NOT CALL requirements.

OK David. So does that give you the right to call a complete stranger on a Sunday morning?
— Well yes, legally we can call…

OK David. I don’t really give a damn about your legal interpretations  For your information, I consider your call legal harassment. — Uh, would you like to talk to my supervisor?

Sure, put him on. — Pause

Who is this? –Yohan.

Yohan what? –Yohan K…

Well, Yohan, if that is your real name, I just talked with David, if that is his real name.  I explained that I don’t really like getting unsolicited phone calls on a Sunday morning.
— Well this is a marketing research call, and we are exempt from FTC rules..

OK Yohan.  As I explained to David, I consider your calls legal harassment and will take legal action if you ever call again.  Are we clear? –Do you want me to remove your name from our call list?

Sure – you go ahead and do that. One more thing. Who is the CEO of RKX Research, and what is the address? — Sorry, I can’t give you that information …. but you can Google it.

END OF CALL…

So, I decided to Google the mysterious RKX Research.  Here is what I found:

  • RKX Research is located in New Hampshire.
  • The owner is KM. Had to hunt a bit to find this, but yes, you can Google him.
  • The web site is self aggrandizing. No list of owners or executives.
  • The FaceBook page has not been updated since January 2013
  • The Twitter feed has one tweet in 2012.
  • LinkedIn. Forget it. At this point, didn’t feel like paying LinkedIn to learn more.

Kind of interesting. If this company is a legitimate marketing company, why so little Internet presence? Why so evasive about ownership?  Perhaps they are not proud of what they are doing?

So what can we as consultants glean from this? Lets look at it upside down.  Imagine you want to break into market research consulting, and you really want to piss off prospects. Here are seven quick ways to do that:

(1) Ignore common courtesy. Call complete strangers at odd hours. Sunday mornings are particularly effective.

(2) Hire snotty kids to make the calls. Then teach them to be obnoxious and patronizing.

(3) Prevaricate. Tell people you’re just doing “market research” even if not completely true. This lets you hide behind a technical loophole.

(4) Be difficult to reach. Hide your identity and personal email address.

(5) Don’t monitor/upgrade social media for years at a time. This has the added benefit of showing how (in)competent you are at marketing.

(6) Ignore common sense.
After all, most people are just waiting for a thinly disguised sales call from some stranger – particularly early Sunday morning. Their time or privacy are not nearly as important as you are.

(7) Brag about what a great outfit you are on your website. Who knows? Maybe your mother will believe it. Or maybe not.

Would YOU hire these clowns to piss off your customers or prospects?

Finally, I’m not opposed to market surveys.  I regularly participate in those sent by email from companies and organizations I know and trust. I do NOT respond to fishing expeditions from strangers, particularly on a Sunday morning. Nor should you.

End of rant.

* Decided not to include the real info on RKX Research as originally planned.  No need to hurt or humiliate anyone – even though they might deserve it.  Rather, decided to share this rant as a lesson on how NOT to act as a professional consultant.


© 2015, jumptoconsulting.com. All rights reserved.