The Consultant's Desk

The Consultant's Desk
Poring over the details on your behalf

Sunday, November 11, 2007

How Do You Do It?

Recently, people have been emailing me and commenting on the phenomenal "things" I'm doing. They vow they will at some point have an opportunity to meet me and attest that they admire people who know their subject matter so well. They never actually point to anything specific. Given the feedback that comes to me from industry colleagues, I'm mystified but also flattered.

Last night I talked with a colleague. We laughed a little at the fact that we seem to be moving in tandem with one another. What precipitated the actual phone conversation was my accepting one request for a connection on a networking site. With accepting the one request, I was provided a river of other requests for connecting and networking opportunities. I shared this experience with the colleague. He confirmed that people have been waiting to connect with me because they admire what I've been doing and how I've been doing it.

The first step is learn everything possible about your industry. Learn the knowledge, the principles, the practices, the players. It's important to get to a point where you see relationships to what you're doing in everyday occurrences and can adequately articulate those connections.

Then, like going into a good dress store, start trying on the various suits and look at how they drape your form as it relates to the foundations that brought you to the recruiting industry. Not everyone does the same thing (thank God) and not everyone has the same specialty. Not everyone has the same interests or strengths. So get to know who you are in the spectrum of things. It's fine to start broad and then start narrowing. Most tailors do this in order to get the best fit.

The next important thing is to focus on the business side of things. Personality conflicts and competition have no room for life in this industry but they seem to be the mainstays of a large percentage of the industry. Focus on what you need to do and what you do. Produce commendable content and results. Charge a reasonable price for what you do.

With all of the factors surrounding your feet, it's time to start picking up the right things in order to create the correct suit for you and then wear and market it. As you go, you will meet streams of people. People, especially in the recruiting industry, are extremely important. They learn who you are, they talk about what you can do, they refer you or recommend you, the ask that you be assigned to work on a project. Thus, people are worth being more than a name in the rolodex, excuse me, contact list. It's important to build relationships with people.

Those who could be competitors can also be alliances, collaborators, who recommend you or help you complete an assignment because it cannot be done by one person. Sort out who is trustworthy and ethical. Form a good bond with them. Return the favor and courtesies.

There's probably more. That will have to come at a later date. This is sufficient for now.

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Friday, November 02, 2007

Gardening and Growing a Business

I'm trying to grow a few things right now. Sometimes there are growth spurts and sometimes there is drop off. I'm not happy with the results I'm getting. But as I contemplate the many efforts and their results, I remember the many times I started a garden. Then I remember the lessons of my Zen days and realize everything in this Life is akin to Nature and if we think in terms of how Nature deals with circumstances, we're certain to come up with natural solutions and success.

In the case of the garden, whether seeds or seedlings, there was the planting period after preparing the soil. After the planting was watering in order to help the new babies take to their new environment. Proper sunlight was needed as well as the correct temperature. And the most important element of all was the proper amount of attention.

Too much water would drown my babies. Likewise, too little water and they quickly turned into crispy crinkles for the dumpster. Watching them too closely amounted to wasting time. But I tried to tell myself that they were benefitting from the carbon dioxide I was breathing on them. My rational mind said that was a fallacy But leaving them unattended for too long was just about the same as forgetting to water.

During my Zen period, someone gave me three tomato plants. The donor insisted that we feed the plants as soon as they went into the ground so they would have a solid start. In order to keep peace and appease the person's ego, I acquiesced. The plants never got fed again. They got a weekly watering along with the other herbs and that was that. But the tomatoes grew to 2.5 times the size of a tennis ball. The vines looped over themselves three times. And I had tomatoes by the bushel. You might say their conditions were super optimized. They were larger than the neighbor who was a prize tomato grower. They were larger than the ones produced by the donor. It was obvious as you looked at their faces that they tried in vain to find something to say about the size of those tomatoes and their volume to cast a pall on their quality. There was no denying the quality in any regard.

On the other hand, I kept attempting to start impatiens in the edges of the rose garden. I used 4-inch pots. I used 10-inch pots. I used rooted cuttings. Healthy mounds were given to me in half-gallon pots. Nothing worked. It wasn't from lack of conditions. The gardener would hoe the rose garden even when I asked him not to do so and he would then chop up the impatien starts. I would show him where the starts were located and ask him to hoe around them. It did no good. I put notes on the plants and pinned them to the leaves with straight pins. It did no good. Sometimes you have people who are receiving instructions from two sources and one overrides the other. Nevertheless, the impatiens received too much attention with conflicting purposes.

As a consultant, there will be projects that seem to jettison themselves into outrageous success with the least amount of effort. Just some occasional attention is fine; the initial elements were properly prepared to allow their acceptance and growth. Those will be the cash cows. Be thankful for them.

There will be other projects that are like the impatiens. No matter what you do to protect and nurture them, they will be destroyed. Then it's time to examine which parties are involved with the project both internally and externally. Get rid of the external interference as quickly as possible. Be polite; be firm; stop the destruction. As for the internal party(ies), tell them you've decided to put the project exclusively into the hands of one person and no one else will have access. You may want to embellish a bit by letting them know they'll be considered for other projects in the future. However, your main focus is regaining control of the environment and keeping your product safe from destructive designs.

As for that one person who will be in control of the project, you're now wondering who that should be. Who do you trust most, more than anyone else. Yes, that's the person who'll be in control of the project.

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