Consulting advice: Be, do, say

By | July 20, 2014

Be. Do. Say. I heard this for the first time 3 weeks ago. It resonated. In the overly-marketed world we live in, there is incessant advertising noise and not a lot of authenticity. Through the clutter, which brands and people can you really trust?

Companies and products all purport to have the solution. They talk about unique selling propositions, value chains, core competencies and other MBA babble. Perhaps a more authentic and long-view question to ask is, “Who are you, who are you becoming?”

Be do say

Be.  Rather than talking a big game to prospects about what you can do for them (SAY), why not focus more on yourself? Man in the mirror. If you are so good that they cannot ignore you (plug for Cal Newport’s book), then you have a chance of making it.

The best marketing is always a great product.

Employee satisfaction = customer satisfaction. I remember reading that customer satisfaction starts with, and cannot ever exceed, employee satisfaction.  How will you delight customers, when your staff is unhappy? Grumpy staff = grumpier customers.

Dave Ramsey, financial radio coach and entrepreneur advocate, says that it’s important to have a team, not employees. “Employees come in late, leave early, and steal stuff while they’re here.” (laugh, but true). Instead, you want “a talented team with members who are dedicated to a common vision. . . He’s learned that what’s on a person’s resume isn’t always as important as what’s in their heart.”

This is doubly true in consulting since our product is our people. Are our teams smart, aware, fun, and eager to do great work?  Are we giving our people the direction, tools, feedback, support, and honesty for them to continually get better?

As Gandhi implied, BE the change:

“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.”  – Gandhi

What is the master idea?  Joey Reiman, a branding consultant, talks alot about the “master idea” that motivates, inspires and holds organizations together. It is a deep-seated need to have purpose. It is almost Joseph Campbell in proportion.

Joey talks about BE.DO.SAY here and reiterates the fact that companies spend $500 Billion a year on marketing and advertising . . . and in reality talk is cheap.  A lot of this money should better be spent on BEING better and DOING better.  Not just talk.

Counterpoint: For consultants to innovate – bring new things to market and our clients – we need to have a tolerance for failure. It is impractical and unprofitable to refine our offerings to the point of academic obsolescence. Analysis paralysis, right?

Key question: how to judge when we are focusing on BEING and DOING better, and when are we just wasting time with R&D and over-thinking?  As Muhammad Ali said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.”

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