If you mention to someone that you are a consultant, you tend to get a wide variety of responses. You can usually tell immediately whether the person has had a good experience with consultants by their response. If there is a pregnant pause as they try to think of something positive to say about consultants, it’s a sign that they are not impressed. If they abruptly change the subject, they either don’t know what consulting means or they have already decided that they hate you with a passion. Continue reading →
We see evidence of status all over the work place. The boss in the corner office; larger, more comfortable chairs for management; and cubicles by the window for people with more seniority.
There are companies who try to remove the haughty symbols of status in attempts to make everyone equal. I heard of a company once who, when redesigning their office space, made all of the offices the same size. That way, the CEO and the low-level manager had the same sized office. No status there. Except that the higher someone’s level in the company, the larger his or her office plant was.
The high status workspace seems to be the most visible status symbols in most offices. Some companies have policies regarding seating arrangements. Based on one’s level, there is a specified number of square feet the executive’s office should be. Continue reading →
I remember an old cartoon of a reporter asking a famous star, “How do you account for your overnight success?” To which the star responded, “Twenty years of hard work.”
In our current, reality-TV world, there are people who become household names in a very short time. I have found, though, that that type of fame is often short-lived.
Overnight success in the business world is rare. You might argue that there are people like Mark Cuban. He created a website, sold it for billions and is now owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team. He’s also a “shark” on the popular TV show Shark Tank.
While Cuban has become a poster child for internet success, his wasn’t overnight. He putting himself through business school at Indiana University. Then he worked as a bartender and a software salesman. After being fired from the software company, he started his own company. Seven years later, he sold the company, for which he made about $2 million. He started another company, Audionet in 1995, which became Broadcast.com. His company grew throughout the dot-com craze in the late 90s. He then sold it in 1999 to Yahoo for $5.7 billion. Continue reading →
The baseball coach was frustrated with his team. They just weren’t executing. When they were up to bat, they couldn’t buy a hit. The pitchers gave up too many hits. Even when the pitching was good, the fielders made errors that cost the team too many runs.
The coach hated it when the errors happened. He would throw his clipboard down on the ground, cuss, and yell at the offender, humiliating them in front of both teams and their spectators. Nobody knew if the coach thought that kind of behavior motivated people or if he just couldn’t help himself. He was a poor leader.
The frustrating thing was that he had won a lot of games in his career. Was that behavior what led him to achieve success? Or was it really success? Continue reading →
Early in my career, I worked for a small consulting firm as a software developer. I liked the company and I like the work. I had a very supportive manager. Perhaps because of those factors, and some credit to my small town, mid-western roots, I worked hard on my projects. I put in long hours and ate at a lot of food out of paper bags from carry-out restaurants.
I was there just short of four years before the company went out of business. Another consulting firm came in within days to interview anyone who was interested. I interviewed with them and was hired by them. I learned later that when they talked to my boss about me, he told them “Lew will do whatever it takes to get the project done right and on time.” Continue reading →
To some, a consulting career is a destination. You may target consulting firms as college graduation looms. If that attempt is unsuccessful, you may accept a job in another industry with the goal of acquiring a few years of business experience and applying with consulting firms again later.
While these are both valid strategies, like every industry, consulting isn’t for everyone. It is important to verify that you are willing and able to live the lifestyle of a consultant.
Before diving into a consulting career, ask yourself the following questions:
As you may know, the folk tale The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen is the story of two dishonest weavers who convince an emperor that they can make him a set of clothes which can only be seen by competent people.
When the emperor and his underlings can’t see the non-existent suit of clothes, they pretend that they can, to avoid exposing their own presumed incompetence.
A young boy, who isn’t clear on the concept, sees the emperor parading around naked and cries out, “He’s not wearing any clothes.”
It’s a common parallel in the business world. If the boss says something incorrect – or even stupid – in a meeting, few, if any, will point out the faux pas in public. Many will not even point it out to him or her in private. Continue reading →
In many consulting environments, we work in a team room huddled up working together. There are many reasons for this. From a practical sense, the client often doesn’t have cubicle or office space to house the entire team. They find a conference room or a single unused office, set up a large table and that room is now the team’s war room. Continue reading →