This is a new segment I’m thinking of introducing to the page, simply titled: Book of the Month (BoM). Pretty self-explanatory. I’ve done a couple book reviews in the past, but want to make this more of a consistent piece by quickly going over the best of what I have read over the course of the past month. The objective is to provide insights from each book that can be useful and applicable in your life, not review the actual subject matter or writing style of the books. Its about finding the nuggets of wisdom from the pages, not just general information. So without further ado:
Million Dollar Consulting
Potentially the most straight-forward title I have seen on a book in a long time, Million Dollar Consulting is a book written precisely on that subject. Written by Alan Weiss, a very successful consultant in his own right, this book details how to create and grow your own successful consulting practice, with an emphasis on a personal practice, not forming a company. It is not the most beautifully written book, and can be very repetitive at times, as if the author anticipated that people would jump from chapter to chapter. But what it lacks in prose, it makes up for in substance. Writing beyond just the consulting industry, the author details out the mentality that is required to become a self-made millionaire, a mindset that is valuable to have whether you actually want a million dollars or not
As I mentioned, while the book is technically written on the consulting industry, there is a lot of value to be taken away that can be applied to any area of life.
The major concepts in this book are that to have success, you have to have integrity, build relationships, and focus on growth. Form your own personal strategy for what you want in your life, and stick to it, no matter what other opportunities may come your way.
“ Your philosophy or view of your business may seem like an abstraction, but it’s the rudder that keeps you on course. Don’t get carried away by a particular sale or success. I’ve seen too many consultants become trainers or facilitators or something else they had no intention of becoming merely because they followed the path of easiest money and/or least resistance. Follow your own path, no matter what the competing allure”
In order to do this, you must always operate from a position of strength, which involves creating meaningful relationships with the people around you. Strengthen these relationships by always acting with the utmost integrity in everything that you do.
“There is simply no growth mechanism in our profession as dramatic as a trusting client who wants to use your services, believing that you will provide a reason not to if you can’t accommodate the request”
Relationships are founded on trust – the more character you show, the more people will trust you, and the stronger the relationship will become. It will grow, and so will you along with it.
Lastly, to be a million dollar consultant, you have to know that you are worth a million dollars. Whether you actually have a million dollars or not, operate from this mentality. The author advocates that you don’t get a million dollars by cutting back, by worrying about saving $5 on your flight, or by settling for less than you believe you are worth.
“[Y]et the last thing to do in bad times is to pull in your horns and try to eke out an existence by reducing expenses ‘until things get better.’ In most cases, things don’t get better unless you do something to make them get better, and you don’t make things happen by doing less – you must do more”
“You are what you believe. You behave in the manner in which you talk about yourself. That can be either frightening or invigorating. That’s for you to determine.”
- Be Proactive, Not Reactive This is related in the book to marketing and branding efforts, a concept the author calls Marketing Gravity. It calls for making potential clients aware of you before they ever need your services. This involves lots of writing and speaking to get your name out, but it’s all about being proactive. Don’t wait for things and people to come to you. Go to them.
- Act From a Position of Strength “There are no chapters in this book on desperation because you must always deal from a position of strength if you are to be successful.” When you’re proactive, you are building options for yourself in the future at a time when you currently don’t need them. That way, when times get rough, you still have control. As soon as you acquiesce to someone and take a short-term gain at the cost of your long term objectives, you have lost that control. You don’t need this job, or this specific car, or whatever. Be prepared to walk away if your interests are not met
- Success Comes From Relationships, Not Skill There will always be someone better than you. You may be very talented at what you do, but ultimately your skills and abilities can be replaced. What can’t be replaced is the relationship you form with someone, which the author relates to buying a car. You buy from a car salesman because they treat you right and you connect with them, not because their car was better. The car is the same. It’s the relationship with the particular salesman or dealership that makes you buy
- Don’t Be A Lone Wolf A part of forming relationships, but worthy of mentioning on its own as this can be a major weak point for many introverts. You need people who you can confide in, who can provide constructive feedback on your ideas. People you can practice building relationships with: “Lone wolves don’t have much opportunity for exploring emotional issues with trusted peers.” Being a lone wolf naturally makes you a very reactive person. When times get tough, there is no one there to reinforce you and provide support
- Believe You’re Worth a Million Dollars Or $50,000 or $200,000, wherever you are at in life. The point is you have to believe you have the skills and value that warrants the amount of money you want to make. If you are applying for a job that could pay $80,000, but you would take $60,000, it’s time to look in the mirror and assess how you value yourself. Don’t back down on what you think you are worth.
- There Are Two Ways to Assure Growth The first is to cut the bottom 15% of your activities every once in a while (author recommends every few years). This leaves room for growth at the top of your activities, the activities that are producing the best results for yourself. Secondly, make sure you are failing every once in a while. If you never fail, you never know where your ceiling is regarding your abilities.
- Growth Comes From Investing, Not Cutting Back The author explains in this way: cutting back on your daily Starbucks will not make you a millionaire. Instead of depriving yourself of something you really want (White Chocolate Mocha!), find ways to make the money to cover for it. Focus on investing in yourself and growing, not trying to cut back. He calls this a ‘poverty mentality,’ a mindset where you don’t believe in your abilities to grow, which stagnates your proactive mentality, and eventually becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
- Results, Not Actions Don’t let your day-to-day actions get in the way of achieving results. Eliminate unnecessary tasks and to-do lists that keep you busy, but keep you away from the really important work, like building relationships or in this case delivering a result for a client. The example used is writing a report that the client hasn’t asked for. This makes more work for you that, while it does make you feel more accomplished, doesn’t move the needle forward for either yourself or the client.
- Your Name is Your Brand. Act Accordingly Have integrity in all that you do. Always act in the best interest of everyone, as if Big Brother was watching you. If you can’t do a certain task, and it wouldn’t be reasonable for you to learn how to do it quickly, refer someone else who can do it better. Don’t overpromise and under-deliver. This is the surest way to lose people’s trust in you
- True Wealth is Discretionary Time At the end of the day, you’re not after the money. You’re after the lifestyle that money can afford you. The peace of mind. So keep perspective. Don’t neglect the rest of your life. In fact, the author states that “You don’t have a work life and a personal life. You have a life.” Personally, I disagree in the sense that I think you have to compartmentalize aspects of your life. Wherever you are, be there, don’t be thinking of work when you’re with friends or family. But the point is that everything you are doing is your choice, and it all builds together to form your life. Build the life that is perfect for you. Don’t just build your perfect career or perfect family. Build both to be perfect, and you will make your perfect life.
Million Dollar Consulting is an excellent book that details out the mindset that you need to have to eventually reach the upper echelons of society. If you’re interested in going into business for your own, regardless of being consulting or not, this is a great primer. But it’s also an excellent look at how to think on a million dollar level, and what it takes to sustain that level of activity. You have to form a sustainable strategy, pursue meaningful relationships (not just networking with business cards), act with integrity in all of these relationships, and always look for ways to grow and expand your personal horizons – all things that introverts thrive upon. If you can commit these things to habit, you will be well on your way.
Additional July Reads