"Anybody Can Be a Consultant"

One of the spokesmen of our times, the esteemed Usher Raymond, once sang, “these are my confessions”. Parts one and two. Let us rejoice and remember(feel free to click the link and listen to "Confessions" parts one and two as you read, for a true multimedia experience).

In above vein, here’s one of my own confessions, though far less salacious.

I have this one quality. It might be my greatest strength and my greatest weakness.

Two types of people: talkers, and listeners.

Two types of people: talkers, and listeners.

The fact of the matter is that – I’m awful at lying. The telling of the lie is the easy part. However, I find the act of sustaining a lie to be the single most tiring thing I can imagine. It’s too much work; life is too short to have to carry the continued presence of that lie around indefinitely.

Maybe that’s why I have a deep admiration for those that can seem to bend reality to their will. Steve Jobs comes instantly to mind.

Furthermore, to my knowledge, I’ve never been able to convince anyone of something that’s not true. I stopped trying along time ago.

In fact, I’m bad at even convincing people of things that are true. I usually wind up being vindicated later; I seem to usually be right. I’ve realized that I’m more successful if I propose an idea and then come back to it later, after the client has had time to digest it.

This can be a fatal flaw for a marketing professional. The ability to “spin”, and to persuade, are requisite parts of the job.

Maybe this reads like one long humblebrag, but I’m writing here to admit something:

I call myself a Business Consultant. I’ve been in business about a year. I still feel like a fraud sometimes, even though I honestly believe that this is something that I am uniquely qualified to do.

Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?

Actual image of a millenial praying to find a full-time poisition with health benefits that won’t lay them off in 3-5 years.

Actual image of a millenial praying to find a full-time poisition with health benefits that won’t lay them off in 3-5 years.

It seems like we millennials have three options: the gig economy, working as staff, or consulting.

I’ve never been a company man. Lord knows I’ve tried. That’s why I got into freelancing in the first place.

Consulting seemed like a natural step up from freelancing. All freelancers might do well to adopt a consultant’s mentality.

I decided to become a consultant after eight years freelancing as a cameraman, editor, and video producer. It’s commonly accepted that, most people last about five years in the film and video. I was burnt out after five but found good work, so I kept at it for a little bit longer.

I have lots of fond memories from my time in the trenches – it was a lot like what I’d imagine working in the circus might be. Lots of colorful personalities with fascinating stories, surreal sometimes blissful moments of filming in the twilight or watching an actor give a masterful performance, and also lots of backbreaking labor and eating cold pizza in your car driving home alone after midnight.

Eventually, it was time to look for greener pastures.

Bro, Are You Even Qualified?

Let me answer two questions here:

ONE: How did I become a consultant? I simply created a website and I started cold-calling INC5000 companies. That’s all there is to it.

TWO: Are you even qualified?

Let me answer that as earnestly and as succinctly as possible:

  1. 8+ years of experience working in marketing and dealing directly with clients, mostly small businesses, broadcast networks(A&E, Investigation Discovery, National Geographic) and corporate clients(Google, Republic Property Group).
  2. I put the client’s needs before my own. This doesn’t mean that I’m available 24-7 or that I’m always willing to drop whatever I’m doing and cater to the clients every whim. It does mean that I am honest in my assessments, to the point that I’m willing to be fired. My thinking is that, if I can’t be completely honest with a client, there’s nothing that I can do for them.
  3. I’m congenitally honest(see above).
  4. I am always looking for win-win situations for the client and myself.

While I do have expertise in technology and innovation, I am no digital transformation or CRM expert. I was never employed by Bain or Mckinsey. I don’t have an MBA, or even a bachelor’s(I dropped out to pursue a career in film and video after 6 years in college; I did graduate with an Associate’s Degree in Music Business).

And so – I call myself a Business Consultant.

I secretly dread the moment when I show up for my first in-real-life meeting with a buyer or executive. I’m worried that my suit will not be nice enough, or that, because I look young for my age, I will not be taken seriously by the high-income silver fox alphas that run the fiefdoms of corporate America.

I am also super excited for this, because, oddly enough, I believe myself to be uniquely qualified for this line of work, and I am willing to fail until I make it.

The Story So Far

I’m working with a few clients. It’s going well.

I offer free consulting to friends and family. I’m looking to do pro bono work with non-profits and am seeking to broaden my client base working with for-profit companies. As an artist and photographer, another one of my passion projects is helping fellow artists get paid for the work that they do.

My one goal is to tie all of my interests together – art, tech, business, service – and to work with people I like, people with whom I can be completely honest.

There’s always so much to do when you work for yourself. That’s obvious – especially to the others reading this who are self-employed. Just the same, there are many possibilities.

I wake up every morning and I look for the possibilities.

Mostly that means going against every introvert bone in my body(that’s most of them), and every day reaching out people that I know, and some I don’t, and asking thoughtful questions.

And that’s essentially what I do with clients.

That’s why I think I’m uniquely qualified to be a business consultant.

If you liked this post, or you completely disagree and I seem like a total fraud, please leave a comment below.