But That's Just Me
Monday, December 20, 2010
By Kevin Berchelmann
Like many of you, I'm
frequently asked questions by new or growing consultants. The questions range from lead generation to
billing to creating a network... and many more.
I generally answer any
reasonable questions with as complete an answer as I can muster. But I end every
answer with a simple statement: But
that's just me...
Over time, I've come to use
that phrase regularly. There simply is no
magical 12-page guide to consulting.
There's no one way to do
everything in this business, only ways that have
or haven't worked for someone
else. Even more confusing, what doesn't
work for me may perform swimmingly for you.
Further, we may espouse one thing and then personally provide the
contradiction to that rule.
For example: I state clearly
that we should work solely through
the real buyer. The Grand
Poobah. In reality, two of my
largest clients have come from key influencers, not decision-makers. Go
figure. I break my own rule, make money
on the transgression, yet continue to promote my rule. Ours is a funny business.
I make this point for two
reasons: First, in spite of the countless experts, gurus, and self-proclaimed
thought leaders, there's not just one way to do this stuff. Many say that cold-calling, pain and all, is
essential. Others say that they would
die first. Some say that they build
business solely on referrals. Most,
however, never share the efforts required to get those referrals. This business is dynamic; there may be a few
over-arching principles, but by and large, we make our own path.
The second reason I bring
this us is to remind us to be careful with whom we accept counsel. Merely being in business for ten years
doesn't mean someone used a principle or "rule" effectively. Further, just because someone says they know
the answer doesn't mean they really do.
And finally, beware false prophets.
Especially those who cling to a credential as evidence of their worth.
Consultants have been around
for a long time. Some would argue we're the second-oldest profession; others
may even make some snide, not-so-humorous analogies to the oldest profession.
Ok, some of those are
Regardless, advisors have
been "advising" leaders for thousands of years. Not all
"advisors," however, are created equal. And here's a key -- merely
belonging to an important tribe, club, or company doesn't make the advice any
Almost 2,500 years ago,
there was a King called Xerxes, intent on destroying those pesky Greeks and
their armies. Surprisingly, the Greeks took exception to this, and were quite
formidable opponents. Just as the King
was preparing for a big battle, there was a total solar eclipse. Today, we grab
the kids, rush outside and say "ooh," and "aaah;" 2,000
years ago, people ran inside screaming "holy crap, the world is
Anyway, King Xerxes needed
advice about this new development. With no expert on staff, he brought in his
consultant -- called a "Magi." Think modern-day McKinsey by
lineage... Xerxe's Magi analyzed the eclipse (undoubtedly with PowerPoint
slides and 4-square models), and advised the King that he should proceed with
his battle. This Magi foreshadowed a great victory for King Xerxes.
King Xerxes, of course, had
his butt handed to him by the Greeks. It wasn't pretty. I'm certain the Magi, probably on retainer,
had good reasons for this marked lapse in effective counsel.
Why does this matter to you?
Simple: be cautious from whom you accept counsel. You didn't get where you are
today by buying snake oil, so don't buy it now when you get advice that (a)
doesn't seem logically thought out, (b) comes from someone who's biggest or
only credential is his or her "tribe," and/or (c) if it just doesn't
pass your "sniff" test.
consigliore, Magi... these have long been trusted positions of influence in
Kingdoms, businesses, and mafias (I leave it to you to decide which is yours);
they have a place, and are frequently a huge asset to our success.
Use care, however, when
But that's just me...
D. Kevin Berchelmann is
President of Triangle Performance, LLC.
He provides results in areas such as management strategy, and
organizational development, including compensation, succession planning, and
Leadership Development. Clients include
Archer-Daniels Midland, Sprint, and more.
His firm was recently awarded #9 on Houston's Fast 100, fastest growing
companies in Houston. You can reach
Kevin at KevinB@TrianglePerformance.com,
@TriangleKB on Twitter, and on LinkedIn.