Sep 08 2009

Economy killin’ you? Be a consultant. Who me?

Consultant: person


from 100 miles away


with a BlackBerry and laptop.


You better believe it  that clients give more respect to consultants from “out of town.” Besides that the out-of-town guy’s perspective is “totally fresh,” clients love to talk about the fact that they have a consultant who’s “totally hosing” them!

Why?  Who knows? And who cares? How to UN-do this unrealistic, warped mindset is what really matters. The best consultants are those who get the job done on schedule, pleasantly and reasonably.

And, by the way,  EVERY client loves consultants who are willing to work on a partial performance incentive basis! Hey, why not? Prove yourself. If you’re so sure you can solve the problem, you should be willing to bet part of your compensation on it, and of course charge more … especially where sales or savings commissions are possible! You can be fairly certain the out-of-town guy won’t do that.

First of all,  if you’re serious about wanting to do consulting work of any kind — regardless of your expertise — start with and communicate confidence (not cockiness!) by recognizing that you know more about the subject than any client, or your services wouldn’t be required.

Second,  roll up your sleeves and get to work being a consultant before you’re even hired to be a consultant. Show the client how you function be getting right to the heart of things. Take any minor issue raised in a discussion and ask questions. Listen carefully. Analyze and make recommendations. Do it in a relaxed manner.

And stop worrying  about giving away your expertise by solving problems that you’re not asked to solve and that you’re not being paid for yet. If you think you can do it, do it!

Avoid getting tangled up  in contracts, long-term agreements, petty lawyer-style compensation terms (Do you want to pay someone by the quarter hour for reading your email or letter or for listening to your phone call that outlines the basic logistics of what the working arrangements will be?) Like NIKE says, Just Do It!

If repeat business and referrals  are important to you (duh!), then focus on getting the job done, instead of telling how great you are. Track-records don’t produce sales unless you’re a major name athlete. Ongoing demonstrations of knowledge and know-how, and resources, and ability to communicate clearly will land the assignment AND solve the client’s problem.

When I started as a consultant,  I hired a consultant to “sit in” as my “assistant” and then later badger me with devil’s advocate questions to force me to stay tuned in and come to terms with my own problem-solving and communication skills. It was worth every penny! (Uh, you DO remember what a “penny” is?)

Bottom line:  There’s NOTHING can compare to working for yourself! If you’re out of work, have special knowledge and skill, have integrity, communications skills, and confidence … stop making excuses and go for it. You don’t need a BlackBerry and laptop. Just start with a phone, email capability, business cards, and determination!

# # # or comment below.

Thanks for visiting. Go for your goals! God Bless You!

Make today a GREAT Day for someone!


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May 30 2009

Successful Business Owners Listen Harder

Read My Ears!


     Like a lot of communication practices, it seems most of ustend to slack off, get careless, and periodically get to a point of not listening carefully. Y’hear? It’s normal for our minds to drift off every few minutes when we’re listening to someone else… attention peaks and valleys vary with each individual. [The average American’s attention span has been reported as 12 minutes!]

     If I were, for example, reading this aloud to you, and included a sentence that mentioned the word “football,” as in the size of my 100-pound Golden Retriever on the day I brought her home, your mind might zoom away to the touchdown you scored in high school, or the Superbowl game that cost you $87,934.56 per seat, or the neighbor’s kid’s football you just leather-pancaked as you backed out of the driveway.

     Okay, you say. You’re guilty, you say. Now what? you say.

     Maybe it’s a good time to take personal inventory in how you come across to others. Why now? When business is “off” you certainly want to make the most of your potential to succeed, to make additional sales, to make efforts more productive… all of that starts (and often ends) with maximizing communication skills.

     One of the best and most immediately productive tools available to get started with is because it relaxes your muscles and makes your brain more alert—the perfect combination for receiving and delivering effective communication.     

     Next, it makes sense to do a little survey of those who share the inner business circle of your life. To keep things abstract and impersonal (i.e., not threatening), you can, for example, ask each person privately what musical instrument she or he most identify you with in the ways you come across to others.

     Ask for clarification, but do NOT criticize any one’s response. Say thank you and smile and walk away, then study the list you get back. What does it tell you about yourself?

     You, for instance, may think of yourself as a versatile keyboard able to perform almost any type of musical message, and someone may tell you you remind him or her of cymbals, crashing into discussions with a finalizing punctuation point of percussion, or a flighty little piccolo that dances around issues while brightening everyone’s day, but not addressing real needs or solving problems. If this exercise doesn’t bear fruit, replace musical instrument with animal.

     Once you have a better sense of what others perceive as less than optimal, focus on ways you can change that/those assessment(s) for the better. Take a quick visit to and then initiate a plan of action for yourself with daily and weekly goals geared to disciplining yourself to come across better by listening more attentively, more actively, more responsively. Remember when you can respond instead of react, you can never over-react! 

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Input welcome anytime: (”Businessworks” in the subject line) or comment below. Thanks for visiting. Go for your goals, good night and God bless you! halalpiar  # # # 

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Dec 01 2008

99 OUT OF 100 MANAGERS . . .

What one thing


could you be doing better? 


     Before you start accounting for any business downturn you experience by blaming swings in the economy, in the stocks and bonds markets, in real estate, in interest rates, in politics, in government, in international relations, or anything else beyond your immediate control . . . STOP!

     STOP and reassess what IS within your immediate control that you’re not doing as well as you could be doing. 

     The odds are (assuming you’re willing to be honest with yourself) that one thing, if not THE one thing you could be doing better has something to do with communication.  Possible?  Or am I just imagining things?

     If you’re still with me, it seems fair to say that you probably agree that you and your employees could do a better job of communicating.  If that’s the case, then the liklihood is great that you and your employees most need to do a better job of listening.

     When you can become a more active, more effective listener, you set yourself up to be more in control of your business and better equipped to guide it through difficult times.

Take this little test . . . 

If you were the boss, choose one of the four choices offered (only one choice really works!) as to how you would most likely respond to the following situation: 

Disgusted with all the resistence given to suggestions offered, the disgruntled employee storms out of a meeting on how to increase sales, complaining loudly, “What the hell’s the point of coming up with innovative ideas around here anyway?” 

Should your response be A, B, C, or D?

A) “Don’t worry; you’ll come up with another good campaign.”

B) “I understand; I have trouble getting new ideas across myself!”

C) “Sounds like you’re discouraged about trying to change things.”

D)Can’t you re-think key aspects of the campaign and present it again next week?”

     If you answered A, B, or D, you chose a type of reponse that 99% of managers would have used.  While each shows good intentions (A is reassuring; B is sympathizing; and D is questioning) — they all represent roadblocks to effective communication with the troubled worker. 

     If you chose C, you may have an edge in effectively handling employee complaints.  A, B, and D represent expedient but totally nonproductive responses.  What’s going on?  Most bosses are in too much of a hurry to make the problem go away and aren’t willing to use active listening skills. 

(Test and conclusion from an American Airlines in-flight magazine article by Gage and Beuford)

     Partly because it takes more time, effort and energy to listen carefully and most people find it difficult to believe that it’s worth the effort.  Partly because most people (maybe even more than 99%) have no training in how to be active listeners. 

     When an employee complains, the instinct of almost all managers is to dispense with the problem as soon as possible.  These expedient kinds of responses are natural, but they don’t get to the heart of the issue, and, in fact, often deepen the employee’s feelings of not being understood, appreciated or accepted.

     Experiment:  Take one entire day and try to listen harder.  Make notes to yourself about what you think you really hear.  It certainly can’t hurt; it doesn’t cost a penny; and you might be surprised.    halalpiar 

Tomorrow: Active listening best practices that can impact your bottom line immediately

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