turn the camera

Naysayers

Whom shall we listen, react, and respond to more? Is it the naysayers who–rightly or wrongly–criticize us and our project(s)? Or is it the people who most need the help that we and our project(s) have to offer?

Right. Let’s focus on the people whose businesses and lives are made better by our work.

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: What if we are our own biggest naysayer? Same deal: as focus on the people we help, all the criticism magically fades away.

 

Today’s photo credit: Go_OffStation cc

generous

Profit and Generosity

Profit and generosity go hand in hand. When one goes up or down, so does the other.

By being generous, we increase the value we provide. We can thus charge or ask enough of others for us to thrive. And the more we are thriving, the more we can be generous.

To get this virtuous cycle going, look for small ways to be generous with clients, partners, employees, and self.

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: This means squeezing and pinching is not a likely path to sustained profits. Nor is giving until it hurts.

Today’s photo credit: Peter Miller cc

consult

What to Pay For/Charge As a Consultant?

Consultants can earn anything from nothing to holy-moly-thatsalotta-dough. Generally, we pay a consultant roughly what we might pay an accountant or a lawyer. Whether we are considering hiring a consultant or becoming consultants ourselves, we can gauge fees based on these factors (in no particular order):

    • The industry or client: Rates are higher in some industries.
    • Competition from other consultants: Usually, the more sharply a consultant narrows and focuses on her niche, the more she can charge because she will have less competition.
    • The length of the project: Consultants often charge lower fees for projects that demand their full-time or near full-time attention and for longer-term projects.
    • Pro bono  work: Consultants occasionally reduce or forgo fees for charities.
    • The remuneration structure of the team: If a consultant works with other consultants, he will likely share some of his earnings with the team. One model for small consulting groups is “15% of every sales (not expense) dollar goes to the company, 15% goes the the person or people who sell the deal, and the remaining 70% is split among the people delivering the consulting work as per their skills and the time they spend.”
    • Sales and marketing: A consultant or consulting group can earn significantly more if they know how to market and sell their services with care and authenticity. Old-school selling depresses fees and drive up sales costs. New-school, “what-do-you-most-desire-to-achieve-and-how-can-we-help?” selling earns significantly more and clients are delighted.
    • The economy: It’s not the economy per se but how the consultant’s offerings relate to the economy. In an up economy, clients will consider and buy more of most everything. In a down economy, clients will continue to buy as long as the offer helps them save money or make money in that climate.
    • Age/experience: We pay different amounts for different consultants depending on the work to be done and how much we trust the consultant to achieve the promised goals (e.g. we will pay $350/hour to have a first-year law associate do legal research and writing; we will pay $2500/hour to have the senior law partner who is a specialist in this area do the negotiations for us.) But consultants really need to conservatively quantify the dollar-impact of their work for the client and charge some percentage of that. Startups and new consultants can struggle unless they focus tightly on their niche, sell well, and land significant work even before they “hang out their shingle.”
    • Discounts and packages: To address clients’ fears about “open-ended” projects billed at the consultant’s hourly or daily rates, consultants often sell their work at a discount (not recommended) or at fixed price for a project (recommended if priced well). Packages can be a good or bad deal for consultant and client.
    • Delivery: Even the best sales, offers, and rates won’t matter much if the project goes off the rails. Scope creep, poor relationships, chaos, and other unexpected surprises can kill a project, harm the clients’ business, lose money for consultants, and sour relationships. Clients and consultants do well to include clear contracting, project management, facilitation, and the associated fees in their project agreements.

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: Beware low fees. If we charge too little as a consultants, clients will discount our abilities. If we squeeze too much as clients, we will get and deserve what we pay for.

PS: If you choose to go into consulting, I highly recommend the books Million Dollar Consulting by Alan Weiss and Getting Naked by Patrick Lencioni.

 

Today’s photo credit: Matthew Burpee cc

other people's tasks

How to Deal with Haftadoos

We resist tasks that we think we have to do. We resist because none of us wants to be told what to do. Yet we somehow feel obligated when others ask. As with anything we resist, wresting with these haftadoos wastes our time and drains our energy.

Of course, we are happiest and feel most productive when we work on our wantadoos. But what about all the things everyone else wants us to do? Can we be successful by only ever doing what we want to do?

Sure! We just need to do some choosing. Doing tasks that others have requested from us is fun, exciting, and rewarding–they become wantadooswhen we have chosen to do them.

Imagine every request from other people landing not on your haftado list but on your coulddo list. Put everything else that you might want to do on that coulddo list, too. When it’s time to select the next thing you’ll do, scan your coulddo list and pick the most compelling thing.

You’ll be surprised to see how many tasks requested by others you will end up choosing to do. And how great you’ll feel doing them.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit: Trey Ratcliff cc

lemonade stand

Wantrepreneur Cure

Wantrepreneurs are people who deeply desire to start a business but don’t.

Fear is the main obstacle. We worry whether our idea is right, if we can navigate all the details, how we’ll make enough money, and what will happen if we fail.

There is cure for wantrepreneurism; you can start a business. The cure has four steps.

First, raise your buzz. You must feel good before you act. Make raising your buzz a daily habit.

Second, make sure the product or service you would offer matches your SweetSpot. Your SweetSpot includes what you’re good at, what you care about, and your needs for income and security. It also includes the types of problems that other people (or groups of people) experience that you find compelling and that they would pay to solve.

Third, get help. Don’t go it alone. You need not have partners or employees to start. Do beg, buy, or barter the help of others. Even before your start, grow and connect with your network to get the insight, support, and guidance you’ll need.

Fourth, start small and grow. Most ventures can start with little money and just a few hours per week. Test your ideas, learn from the tests, adjust, and repeat.

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: Yes, starting a business is more complex than that. But to get past wantrepreneurism and start your business, you need only these four steps.

Today’s photo credit: eren {sea+prairie} cc

yuck?

Even a Little Stuck on Yuck?

You know that mental or emotional tension we all–to some extent–seem to carry around? It’s like a base level of blah. It may come and go. It may be subtle or intense. We nonetheless can catch ourselves feeling it somewhere in our bodies.

Despite how familiar it is, it’s not actually supposed to be a constant part of our lives. That feeling is only an indicator. When we feel bad, this physical feeling is warning us that we are focusing on and heading toward something we don’t want. Our job is to then move toward more of what we want.

Yet, without intending to, we maintain a focus on bad feeling, unwanted stuff and get our indicators stuck on yuck.

When we focus on and move toward something we want, this indicator shuts off and another, good feeling one turns on. Looking around, now or whenever, we can see that there are so many things that we want and that feel good.

Why would we keep focusing on the unwanted? Probably just a habit. And we can replace that habit. We can carry around a feeling of being light, playful, growing, happy, and free. We start by raising our buzz.

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS:  Some of us hold that tension in our guts, chests, or shoulders. Some of us hold it in our heads, necks, legs, or arms. It will be a mild to intense physical feeling of tightness, pain, hollowness, exhaustion, or weight. For years, I walked around with my right shoulder two or three inches higher than my left one. Sheesh!

 

Today’s photo credit: Benoit Dupont cc

the point?

Getting It All Done Is Not The Point

Tasks, to dos, and emails.
Projects, meetings, and calls.
Documents, errands, chores!
So much to do. I’m so far behind.
How to get it all done?

But, kind friend, getting it all done isn’t the point. Please set aside the idea that you have to.

Doing what is the most compelling thing to do from all of the things we could do is the point. Try starting here.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit: Victor Trovo Afonso cc

longcut

Take the Longcut

We could take shortcuts. We could try to entice, lull, force, trick, or beg our clients and colleagues into doing what we want them to do. That can work–for a while–maybe.

Or we can do the harder work of win-win.

We start by going beyond what they say they want to what they really want and why. We ask them to do the same for us. Then we explore together how we might both achieve what we really want.

This will take longer than taking any of the shortcuts. It will require that we turn on our patience and wisdom. And in the end, taking this longcut will reward us with better, more profitable, and more enduring solutions than we could have dreamed up in any shortcut.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit: colebear cc