Consultants are a truly mobile workforce. Give us a chair, a table, and a power plug, and we can get going. (I have worked without a chair, without a table, and without power in some cases, but not with all three missing so far…)
In a post about buying travel gear I promised to give you all an inside scoop to my portable office – today is the day!
This is gonna be a long post, because I got something to say on almost every item. For those short on time: Look at the pictures, see what you might be missing, consider adding it. Done.
What does a consultant have in his briefcase?
The laptop plus charger is a given, I didn’t take a photo of it. Then there is always some amount of paper you carry around – though I have been able to minimize this since I use the iPad at work. I exclusively take notes during meetings with the iPad now, and most documents for review are handled there as well. Works great!
But what about the details? Let’s start with the cables department.
You got a meeting with a client scheduled. Maybe just a “if you have five minutes, would you swing by my office? Thanks!”-type of event. If you don’t present something on screen, don’t bring your computer. Keep your phone in your pocket, and have it on mute (without vibration, that’ll still be audible and sound like… well, other things that vibrate). Client time means that you give your client full attention. So – bring nothing? Wrong.
The two tools that you need in every client meeting are – you might have guessed it – pen and paper.
I have tried coming up with good examples that enforce this point, but they all seemed terribly stupid. I mean – how hard can it be? Bring something to take notes whenever you sit down with a client, full stop. I recently switched to using an iPad with a stylus and the NotesPlus app, but it is the same thing really.
You’ll be amazed at the results: No more “I forgot we agreed on that”, and your clients will have the good feeling that your conversation matters to them. Even if you don’t note much more down that the date and time, the name of your counterpart and the general topic of what you talked about, they’ll feel good about it.
Got it? Wonderful. Now back to that “end of the weekend” glass of red wine!
I’ve been going through the subscription list of my feed reader today. There are many blogs by consultants that I once subscribed to, but they all seam to be dead by now:
Consultingreality.com seems to have moved on to a land without blogging:
ConsultingQuest seems to have gone undercover:
Consultize.com has become a dead landing page with ads on it…
This piece of advice is simple, but it can save you a lot of trouble.
Oftentimes, when you are assigned new work, you do not necessarily have to start working on it immediately – maybe the deadline is still far away, or you know it won’t take a lot of time, or some other topic needs to be finished first.
When you get a new piece of work – do a report, prepare a market analysis, crunch some numbers in Excel, etc. – whatever it is, try to get the first draft done as quickly as possible. Even if it is a shitty first draft (either because you don’t have time to do a better one, or because you don’t have all the necessary information yet, still waiting for parts from a colleague, etc. etc.).
Do that shitty draft. Quickly.
The concept of the “shitty first draft” is not mine – it is from the book Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. It is a simple argument: acknowledge that the first draft will be rubbish. This actually makes it easier to get started. Better to do something that needs a lot of rework than not doing anything at all.
In a way, this principle works in consulting as well. Seeing how something comes to be – your calculations, your report structure, your storyline – will help you to…
- make necessary adjustments – While it is still easy to do
- quickly see what questions you still need to ask – before it is awkward to do so, because you reveal how long you waited to tackle the problem
- identify what additional research needs to be done – while there is still time for it
So: get going on the first draft of any deliverable as soon as you can. It can save you a lot of trouble.
This is a time sensitive matter, and unfortunately it only applies to those in the EU:
Vente Privee, the online privat sales giant, has a sales event for TUMI bags and briefcases starting tomorrow, Friday 15th 2012, 7am CEST (UTC+2). It will run for approximately three days, but the best deals go very fast, so you gotta be quick!
I scored my beloved TUMI briefcase last year the same way, and I paid less than 50% of the regular price. I have been very impressed by the sturdiness, the quality and the little details of the bag – it really is the road warriors’ choice. Plus, many of my former and current colleagues swear on TUMI luggage… so many consultants can’t be wrong 🙂
I checked Vente Privee US, but they don’t have the same offer on schedule. TUMI was only on sale one time last year – so my best guess is that you’ll have to wait twelve months before it comes around again. I have not seen TUMI discounted so much anywhere else in Europe – so if you always wanted to replace your laptop bag or suitcase with “the real deal”, tomorrow is the time!
If you are not a member of Vente Privee yet, you can use my invite code:
(Disclosure: I get a 8 EUR voucher from Vente Privee if you sign up through this link, but no further commission or anything else)
This public service announcement has been brought to you by the KillerConsultant 😉
Tell you what: I might have been awfully silent on this blog for a while, but I sure haven’t been sitting around doing nothing… Oh no.
Last March, I made a move and went to work with SCHICKLER, a boutique consulting firm based in Hamburg, Germany. There, I am specializing on the media industry – newspaper publishers, TV and radio networks, and of course a lot of online business as well. Also, I am heading the Social Media practice, where we help our clients make strategic sense of all the buzz. (Views on this blog are still all my own – just thought I’d let you know, because the firm is swell and I like working there a lot!)
This has kept me quite busy for sure – but I still got a big heart for the KillerConsultant, and it is far from done. Oh no – as I see it, we are just getting started!
The first new thing is the (Killer) Consultants’ Manifesto. It is a draft, a first outline. It is not MECE. It is exaggerating. It is not politically correct. That is why it has been so much fun to write!
Have a look at version 0.1. Comment. Tell me what parts you agree with. Call me out on utter BS (it is in there, for sure!). I’m looking forward to refine this. Because really – apart from some bad jokes, prejudices and anecdotes – has the spirit of what we do really ever been covered on one page? See – we need a manifesto! 🙂