I was having a networking Starbucks with a new consultant the other day. He was “picking my brain” as the expression goes about my career in consulting. Now getting your brain picked for free doesn’t really sound that nice, and the practice should be avoided at all costs by consultants. I am still learning that.
My new friend was new to consulting, but he was a guy with a lot of social currency so I invested my time. He was going that night to speak to a group I had spoken to years ago to help people in transition with personal branding who weren’t in marketing.
My Consulting Perspective
I shared some thoughts about what I had learned during my consulting journey. I have been a consultant for a decade or so. I have been paid for over 500 weeks out of my den surrounded with the pictures of my kids. They come in from time to time—through the dotcom bust, 911, the great recession, and the other challenges we all face in life.
Like many people in the corporate world, I hate my consulting boss at Blank and Associates. He works me like a dog. No benefits. No paid vacation. No perks. I have never had a yearly evaluation. No salary increase in years. Nada. Nothing. Rien.
A long time ago somebody who was in academics described a consultant as somebody who couldn’t get a job. Since I wasn’t in consulting at the time, it was only a remark. Then again it came from somebody who had tenure. Not very relevant in the New Normal. If you told somebody in academics to walk the life of consultant they would melt just like the wicked witch in the “Wizard of Oz.”
This brings me back to my friend the other day.
He was saying how long things seem to take to pay off on your investments in time, marketing, networking, and other activities. The time it takes to get the flow of financial currency.
The Kryptonite of Consulting
Worry, Confidence, and Consulting
On the way out of our Starbucks I gave him one piece of advice I know way too well. I told my friend that the Kryptonite of consultants is worry.
Worry. Just like a scalpel, it can cut away at the only thing you have to drive your success.Your confidence.
Sure your confidence grows when there is money in the bank.
But confidence is key. Here’s one way to look at things. I have run six marathons. That is over 150 miles of street, pavement, and concrete, one small step at a time. From that experience I learned how to look at life to a degree. When I had run the first ten miles in the race I could select some thoughts. First was that ten miles was one of my favorite run distances. Thoughts would enter my mind saying I have run my favorite length.
Then the opposite side of my confidence would say yes and you have 16.2 miles to go. If I went with that thought I would have not crossed the finish line, and I have crossed the finish line of every Marathons I have run. Not doing so would have betrayed myself.
When I ran my marathons, one of my songs that I listened to was a song by The Fabulous Thunderbirds. The song asks “Am I tough enough? Am I tough enough indeed?” I listened to the song running in Toronto, Chicago, and maybe some other places. I have seen The Fabulous Thunderbirds at the Doheny Blues Festival in Dana Point. It is close to my house. Their song was in the air, the Pacific Ocean was on the left, and my mind did sync. Am I tough enough? Short and sweet. It’s not about focusing on the money. It is about focusing on you.
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