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Episode 140: Lessons from 2021 and Improvements in 2022—with Deb Zahn

Deb Zahn: Hi, I would welcome you to this week's episode of the Craft of Consulting podcast. On this podcast, I'm going to take a look back at 2021. And I'm going to talk about some of the big lessons I learned. I picked those lessons that apply to people who are trying to start, build, or grow their consulting business. And then I'm going to look forward to 2022, which I'm sure we're all looking forward to being over or at least we were ready for 2022, and I'm going to talk about what I'm going to do differently. I'm going to kind of weave that together as we go along. And again, I picked things specifically that I think that would be helpful as you start to think about your consulting business as we head into the next year, and you think about your life as we head into the next year.

I'm going to start with a super happy one, which is probably the best decision that I made, just before 2021, was Mom Time. Let me tell you what Mom Time is. And you're going to have your own version of things that are super important to you in your life that you want to prioritize. Maybe you're not quite sure how to make it work. But you know, it's important to you and you want it to work. So I'm going to give you an example of what I did. And then you can steal from me to make it work for yourself. So Mom Time, for folks who haven't been following because I do post sometimes on social media, is basically where I decided that every Wednesday, from 9:00 am until noon, three solid hours, my mom who lives right up the road from me, gets dedicated time with me. In that dedicated time, we can go do something fun. I could fix something at her house. I could help her with appointments. I could go to her with appointments, and I could do sort of anything that she needed to get done. And she knew that she had dedicated time with me every single week.

Now that doesn't mean that was the only time I saw her. I see my mom every day. Again, she lives the road. She turned 81 this year. If you have sort of a vision in your head of you know what an 81-year-old woman looks like, cut off about 15 years. And that's kind of how my mom acts. She bikes. She kayaks. she does all this really cool stuff. But she, it made her life better to know that she had dedicated time with me all the time.

It actually made my life better. And it was important to me because one of the reasons that I want the flexibility to be a consultant is to be able to do things with her when she wants to or when I want to. I tried previously, to just sort of say, “Oh, it's important to me.” But then I didn't do anything to actually position it as important in my life so that I knew that it would actually happen. What I did instead is I said, “OK, I'm going to we're going to do Mom Time. We're going to have this dedicated time every week. We did it for 52 weeks this year. I'll just shy of I think when this comes out, we'll just on the 52nd one. And there were a few times where we changed the time, a few times where we changed the day. But we did it every time we treated it as something that was absolutely and completely sacred. It made her so happy that we did this, and it made me really happy.

For anybody who has aging parents, you know that at a certain point, it can get to where all you're doing is doing logistics around doctor's appointments. And I didn't want to do that. I've done that with one parent. I didn't want to do it with another parent. I decided that I really wanted to set that time aside and if I was going to live truly the life that I wanted. Then this would just be a normal part of it. So it was Mom Time. And we had an Instagram account @momtimeadventures where I would post videos every time. She is not a social media person, but she got so into it. And she kept thinking about what her fans would like which is hilarious because we have like 55 people following us! But anyway, single best thing I did.

I did something a little bit different than what I typically do. Typically, when there's something important and I'm know that you know something in my schedule is going to change. I figure it all out ahead of time. I figure out the logistics, I figure out how I'm going to make it work and all of that good stuff. I actually didn't do that this time in this. So this is the lesson, I want you to take if this is helpful to you, is I just decided it was a priority. I decided that this is how we were going to position it as a priority in my life and in her life. And then I just said, and we'll figure it out as we go along. Like, I didn't know how three extra hours of life was suddenly going to become free. But it didn't matter. I said it was important. So I just figured it out. And I did have to figure it out. I you know, I had to go on to my schedule. And I had to block off that time, I had to make sure that my clients and my team knew that that time is no joke that that is Mom Time. And unless you want a whole heap of good old fashioned Catholic guilt coming your way, then don't mess with Mom Time, which by the way, could come from her or me at any given time.

I had to block it off in my calendar. I had to keep it sacred, I had to make sure that it was a recurrence throughout the whole year, when things got really busy and a little busier than perhaps I expected. I didn't matter. I still did Mom Time. I had to organize things around it. I had to figure out how to make it work. And so I never wavered. We never dropped it because we decided it was important. And I knew that part of what I would have to do throughout the year is figure out how to actually make it work within all of the other things that I have to do.

That's advice that I would offer to people, particularly people who tend to be preplanners like me, like exactly how is this thing going to work before I jump in and do it. This was important lesson for me because as I said, I decided, I held fast to it, and then I figured it out. And you can do it that way instead of doing it in the reverse. It's not like my life just got less busy. But it just meant that this was a new variable that I had to plan around. And it worked out fine. It worked out fine. From a scheduling perspective, it wasn't always easy. Absolutely not. Was it worth it? 100%. So that's the first thing that I want to share with you because that was a really big deal. That was something brand new that I did last year, we have videos to prove what a fun, goofy time we had. And like I said, sometimes I'm changing light bulbs in her house. And sometimes I'm going to appointments with her doesn't matter that was sacred Mom Time. And we're going to continue that in 2022. And we're going to do it the same exact way. Because it works so well. And so and now I have my systems down. And once I have my systems around it, everything gets easier. So that was the first big one.

The other lesson that I'm going to share with you, and I'm going to be kind of vulnerable here because I think it's important because I've been hearing this from so many people is I underestimated the impact of the prolonged pandemic, generally the state of the world, and other things that were going on in my life. I think because I have a background in public health, I've been talking about the coming plague. In my in my 20s I didn't know would come in my lifetime, but I read enough and knew enough about it that I knew that there was likely going to be something. And I thought because I'm an introvert. And I thought because I don't have kids that this was fine because there were certain things that a lot of other folks were struggling with that I wasn't struggling with. So I thought I was OK. I didn't pay as much attention to what I was experiencing and the sort of the accumulation of the stress and the impact that it was having on me and on my mental health. And part of that stemming from I was worried about my family. I was worried about my loved ones it was I was constraining my choices in life which you know, once or twice is not that big a deal but when you're doing them on a daily basis, it wears a you. I was watching some people I really care about. I was watching some family members get COVID. I was watching them deal with prolonged symptoms, and some of them are still dealing with those symptoms like fatigue, loss of smell, things like that. And because, again, because I have a public health background, I was also looking at choices that a lot of folks were making and it was just me provoking a tremendous amount of anxiety.

I'm really good at managing my mental health. I pay very close attention to it. I do what I call, you know, practicing mental health hygiene, which is on a daily basis, I pay attention to what my state is, and the things that I need to do to keep myself as an even keel as much as possible. But I underestimated the impact that this was having on me, given how long it's lasted in the fact that it's still lasting. And add to that, other things happening in the world. To add to that, and I'm not shy talking about it because I think women should be talking about it, add to that menopause and the fact that my, you know, body and brain were going haywire every single day. I felt like you I was taken over by an alien. I couldn't rely on the coping mechanisms that I typically rely on to keep my mental emotional stability. And I couldn't rely on my energy.

This is one thing that I've heard from so many different folks in the consulting world and in other spaces, is just having way less energy than they typically have. So we're trying to keep doing all of our good work and working with our clients, my clients are fried, I'm fried, the other consultants around me are fried. And it's just harder to get anything done and you're still needing to bring in incoming, you're still trying to do the good work that you want to do. So that was a big lesson for me. And there is no reason for me to think. And again, this is the conversation I've had with some other consultants that 2022 is necessarily going to be any different. So, at this taping, we have a new variant that is arising, I suspect, we will have other variants that arise in the future. And the world is still a really uncertain place. I think we're going to be dealing with this going forward. So what I know that I have to do is I can't say, All right, well, I'm just going to rally, and it's going to be great. Because guess what, I've rallied. I've rallied many times. We are post-rallying. There is no more anything inside of me. My neurotransmitters are maxed out. There's no like, “Oh, I'm just going to pull it out and do it!” I was able to do that when I was a whole lot younger, I'm not able to do it now. And I'm not able to do it over this sort of prolonged really uncertain, stressful time we're having.

So I need to get more creative. And I need to do something that's a little more that radical, but very different than what I've done before. And I can't do it haphazardly. This is where I'm actually going to do some pre planning. So one thing I know that I have to do is I have to adjust my time block. So one of the things that I rely on, because I'm still a practicing consultant, but I also have the Craft of Consulting business. And I also have a life that I really enjoy. I like putting blocks of time in my schedule, that are for particular purposes. Well, because of the stress, because of the low energy, what I'm finding is, is everything's taking longer. So instead of just saying, “Oh, I'm sure that all I'm sure that'll be fine in 2022,” I'm not taking any chances on of actually expanding those time blocks to adjust for the reality that I'm currently experiencing. So my time blocks are going to get expanded, I am going to also have to say no to things because I need to carve out more time where I can sit down and do concentrated work, because along with the low energy is the brain fog and difficulty concentrating and all of those stuff. And I know I'm saying this, and there's people out there who are probably nodding going yep, yep, that's my checklist to there's probably other few things on there as well. So if I know that's real, then I want to plan for the expected not plan for what I hope happens, but plan for the expected. So I'm going to say no to more things. And one of the things that I'm going to do is I'm going to look at my businesses, both consulting and the Craft of Consulting, and I'm going to assess what's actually working. And what I mean by assessing what actually is working is what is actually generating revenue. What do I enjoy, and what increases or depletes my energy. So I'm going to actually have a set of criteria that I'm going to use to make decisions about what I'm going to do and what I'm not going to do.

And one of the things if you listen to last week's podcast, fabulous podcast with Octavia Conner where she was one of the things that she was talking about is looking at your conversion rates. If you're going out and doing all of this business development, and your hit rate for actually turning folks into clients is 10%, or 20%, or 25%, then that's a really good time to stop and say, I need to make some changes to what I'm doing. Because my conversion rate converting leads and prospects to actual paying clients needs to be higher than that. One number she mentions is, you know, at least 50% that then can tell you OK, how many clients do I need to try and go out and get if I'm only going to get half of them? Now, my conversion rate in consulting tends to be 90%. And the reason for that is, is that I don't go for things I shouldn't go for that I don't think I'm going to get. And I also obviously do a lot to make sure that it's more likely that they're going to say yes to me more then no. So one of the things to consider, and I'm certainly considering is what's the work I'm going after, what do I want to do in the Craft of Consulting, that is actually doing good. I'm still doing the work that I want to do. I'm still doing things that are helping people. But I know that it is more of a direct path to generating revenue. I know it's something I enjoy. I know it's something that either increases or is not extremely deplete my energy. And so I'm going to be saying yes or no to things. In fact, I recently told a client that I'm going to be working with next year now, and this was before the very end came out, that I'm not going to be traveling. That's something that depletes my energy. And it makes my life harder. And it makes, you know, making Mom Time work much harder. Because anytime I'm traveling, it's usually driving. And that means I can't do work while I'm doing that. And so I said, I'm not going to travel. And we've certainly proven over the last year that not traveling actually works. Not always optimal, but it works. And you know, now with the variant, it's obviously easier.

Those are some of the choices I'm making that I'm telling people. What it really comes down to is I need time to not just get things done, but I need time to recharge. So I'm going to be looking at five to 10% of what I'm currently doing, at least that may end up increasing because I'm going to give that a shot. So I'm going to pick 5% or 10% of things and I'm going to stop doing them. I'm going to see if that works. If that works great. If it's not enough, guess what that's going up to 15%. These are things that I've been doing, or I could be doing that I'm just flat out going to say no to because I know that I want to stay as intact as possible to be able to function. And I don't want to shut off from the world in ways that are helpful to myself or to my family or to my clients or to the world. I don't want to just jump into my cocoon. And you know, dread Monday coming. I need it to actually work differently. But the only way it's going to work differently in the circumstances that the world is and the circumstances I'm in is if I make deliberate choices about what I'm doing and what I'm not doing. So that's a huge lesson for me. I think I just tried to take just keep going. Because I thought 2020 was the bad year, right? And then 2021 was challenging. And I think 2022 is going to be challenging. There's only so much we can take. So I underestimated it. I'm not doing that this year. And I'm going to do the best I can to keep as much balance and ability to function as I can. So that was a huge lesson now related to that.

And I said this in 2020. And it's still true. And since 2020, I've actually done this more. So big lesson to me is that systems will save me. Now they don't save all of me. And they don't fix everything. But they do tremendous things. So having systems and I would say also having help. So this is so important. Again, I said it in 2020. But I got to repeat it is I had to embrace that I don't have to do everything myself. And I want you to embrace that you do not have to do everything by yourself. Even if you are an independent consultant, you don't have to do everything by yourself. As much as possible. The goal is to get to the point where you and I are both doing the things that only we can do. Now that requires time to figure it out that requires money to support it. I understand all of that. So it's not something you might be able to like flip a switch and you can do it right now. But that's the goal that I would suggest to aspire to. So one of the single best things that I did is I had someone who I'm just going to keep shouting out because she's amazing. Danielle McGinnis who's from Cutting Edge Ops. And she put together my customer relationship management system. I use Dubsado. There are other ones that work as well. She loves Dubsado. So I'm all in on that, as well as set up Asana, which is my project and process management system. So given what I said about depletion, brain fog, and all that stuff, on a normal day, like when none of that's happening, I have a hard time remembering things. And you've, you've heard me joke about this, before that I had a secretary that used to call me Etch-A -ketch. Because if I moved my head, things would be gone. Well forget about it now. Now, if anything sticks, it's a miracle. And that's why systems were so helpful to me these last couple years, and we've amped them up recently. So anything that is an automated, repeated task, I don't want to overtax my brain, trying to remember all of the details and trying to remember to do things. So we have automated so much of that, so that if I, and we're about to do more actually, so if I am going to be talking with a lead or talking with a prospect, or onboarding a client, or anything, sending proposals and getting those electronically signed, and invoicing and all of that stuff, a good chunk of that can be automated. So that it happens without you having to do a whole bunch of work that frees you up to do those things that only you can do, which is to do the good work you do, and to get clients. So those are things that I've been doing. And I will tell you, if I hadn't, I may have cracked. It might have just been too much the last couple years, and I wasn't able to do it.

We're now looking for other things, and saying, what are those other things that really don't make sense for me to be doing that could be baked into some type of a system. And that CRM system, generally, I have to do something, but I have to do far less than what I have to do today. So that's a big deal. And then finding someone who's fantastic, I'm going to give her a shout out Rae from Shaka Designs, who whenever I need something changed on my website, she does it. I used to do it. I do not do that anymore. And she's so much better at it than me. It's not even funny.  And having somebody who's scheduling my social media, someone who's doing my podcast stuff. Keeping as much as possible in other people's laps who are much better at it than me and know what they're doing.

So one simple simple thing is you have expenses when you have a business or you need to track invoices and make sure that our people opening to them, are they actually paying them in the period of time that they're supposed to. It really helps to have someone who can pay attention to that and alert you when they need to alert your can enter your expenses for you. So you're not just keeping things in a shoe box or a virtual shoe box, and then you enter it when you hope that you have time. Because you need to be looking at your business from a business perspective and a financial perspective on an ongoing basis. So having someone and having systems that help you do that. So having a strong financial system, and then people who can help you maintain it. And it doesn't have to be all of that doesn't have to be an accountant. I have an accountant, thank goodness. But also having someone like a virtual assistant help now can I do those things? Absolutely. But again, I want to spend my time getting clients doing excellent work for them and being the boss of my consulting business. And I can't do that if I'm doing a whole bunch of busy work that somebody else should do. So I do suggest looking for those systems and things that you do on a repetitive basis and setting up setting up systems that can actually do those things for you or do a chunk of it for you. And I do suggest having a team I don't know what I would have done without the team that I have around me. So at minimum like Yeah, have to have an accountant. If you have legal work, you have to have a lawyer. But the first hire I would always suggest as a virtual assistant, even if it's just a few hours a week to take some tasks off of your plate and let somebody else do it. And you're in your expensive scheduling social media, like whatever it is that you don't need to be doing and take time away from you actually generating revenue is what I would encourage. So start with a virtual assistant.

I am looking for more things that I can have other people do into 2022. And again, my goal is to free up my time, and to free up my brain power. So again, I'm only doing what I can do. So that's going to be a big one.

This next one, I feel like this next one is kind of a confession, but not entirely. So in 2021, I still did some projects that were based on hourly billing. Now, if you've listened to any of my stuff, you know, I'm not a huge fan of hourly billing. There are times when I do think that it makes sense. So if there's a really complex projects, it's a multi-year project, it's a big team that you're having to manage hourly might be to your advantage, if it's a government contract, typically, you have to do hourly, because that's the only thing that they would accept. So there are certain circumstance, I'm not going to say it's always bad, oh, my gosh, never do it. But I do know that my value is more than my time. And I do know that as I have gotten more experience, I am more efficient over time. And since I'm more efficient over time, it takes me less time to do things and you see where I'm headed with his switches. That means that if I'm charging an hourly rate, I would get paid less to do something now, when I'm far more valuable, and the output is probably going to be far more valuable than I would have a few years ago, when it took me longer to do something because I wasn't as efficient. And that's just on its face wrong. It's not, it's not a way to build a sustainable profitable consulting business, but it also devalues you. So but there I was, I did some circumstances where I did some hourly billing, when I didn't have to, and I felt the pain of it. And I'm going to, I'm going to share that with you I have now I still did great work for my clients, because I always do great work for my clients. But there was there was one client I did with I obviously not going to say who it is, that was kind of on the fence. Like, it wasn't terribly complex, but there was a lot of uncertainty, there was a lot of moving parts and sort of moving personalities. And so there was enough uncertainty that it made me at least put hourly billing on the table. But I also knew that the value of the work I was doing with them was extraordinarily high, like there was a lot of risks associated with this not happening or not happening well. But I didn't know the client, this was the first time I was going to work from them, it was in a market that I didn't know extremely well. So I prioritize the uncertainty rather than the value. And you know, had, I had a great time working with them. But we had done hourly, and I had estimated a budget based on how long I think it would take. And because again, I'm efficient, and I'm good at what I do, it actually took a lot less time. And so this thing that they highly valued, I ended up charging about half of that. And they were willing to pay that higher amount, and they were willing to pay that higher amount because the risks were so great, and the value was so great. And they got they would have gotten every ounce of value out of that.

I made the mistake because again. I was sort of on the fence. I was debating, and I did hourly. And so when I had estimated I had done my you know my budgeting, I had assumed that it was going to be double what it was and it ended up not being double and I wasn't going to make up work for me to do for them. So it's just what it was. Now you think I would have learned my lesson by then. And for the most part I did.

A number of my other clients, I have moved to a retainer I have done value-based pricing. But there was another client that I work with who I knew extremely well. Now when you know someone extremely well, even if there's some uncertainty, even if there's drama, even if there's you know, anything along those lines, you tend to know what it is when you're going into it. And again, this was another situation where the value was very high and the risks were very high. Now when the value is high, and the risks are high, that tends to suggest doing some type of a valuebased pricing. That's a perfect time to do that. Even if you know in many circumstances, it's kind of hard to put dollar value to it. There are a lot of ways that you can actually tease that information out of the client in terms of what it's worth to them. But because in the past—I've worked with them for a really long time—and I've always charged hourly so I just defaulted to it. And I didn't actually give it much thought I was trying to get the proposal out the door quickly because I was really busy  that all kinds of excuses of why I did this.

I underestimated how efficient I was going to be and how well I knew them so that when I started to see and hear things, I didn't have to spend a whole bunch of time sorting through it. Because I knew what it was, I knew the people involved, I knew what was going on, I knew what was happening in the larger environment, because it was an industry that I knew extremely well. And so again, same thing happened is I had budgeted a certain amount, because I had based it on the amount of time I thought I would work and I ended up getting half of that. Now again, was the client delighted that I came in half the budget. Yeah, sure, they were absolutely delighted. And that's a nice thing. But the value of the total number was 100%. absolutely worth it to them. And so what it did is it threw off my numbers, but it also just taught me a really valuable lesson of people really, really are willing to pay for the value of the outcome that you achieve for them and not the hours, not the hours because even the client felt like they got a huge bargain. And they did get a huge bargain because they got tremendous value at what ended up being a really low price.

So here's my vow to you as I'm done with billable hours. Now again, there might be a circumstance where I do it if I'm doing work for a government entity, and I have to if something is complex, big team, multi-year, things like that, there would be reasons I might say yes, but I am no longer going to default to it, I'm no longer going to default to it, even in when I'm working with clients that I've worked with for a long time. And it can be if you haven't worked with clients a long time, it can be a little difficult to switch to either retainers or to value based pricing. But in some senses, it should be easier, because they already know how valuable you are. They already know how good you are.

I had one client who I've worked with a long time, and I basically said I'm only doing retainers at this point for this type of work and didn't even hesitate didn't have a problem. She's just delighted that it would work. And then by the way, throughout the process, absolutely delighted that we weren't watching a clock, go and tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, and then oh, boom, we have to do a contract amendment because we've gone above our hours. She loved the flexibility that we ultimately had of doing this under a retainer arrangement. And she got a ton of value out of it. And I made sure that she got a ton of value out of it. So this year, that's it. Unless it's one of those other circumstances, I'm done with hourly, I have learned my lesson. And instead of you learning that lesson, I want you to learn from my mistake. So just skip it and start to switch to an even experiment with other payment models.

I was working with someone recently who we were worried about the uncertainty of a particular project, she still wanted to charge a retainer, which I thought made a lot of sense, you get paid up front, it's you know, income that you know, you're going to get, and it allows for flexibility. And in this engagement, it needed flexibility. But she was worried about sort of all these add-ons that might come along. So you do have to manage the scope really carefully. But I said, “You know, one thing you could do is you could do a mix. You could have an as-needed bucket of hours that don't require you to do a contract amendment. And if you have an as-needed bucket of hours, it signals that you're this is for things that are going to be outside of the scope or that require, you know, more effort than what we originally agreed on. And but we have it and if we need it, we're going to dip into it. That's where you charge your full rate.

Generally, the clients like it because they don't really like to have to do contract amendments either. And they know it's there in case they need it. They know that you're not just going to use it because typically, I like to put a stipulation and that essentially says it's with permission. So they feel like that they have some control over that because they have to control their budget. So it's OK to do a mix sometimes. But please learn from my mistakes. Your value is not your time. Your value is the outcome that you can help clients achieve. And you should be paid for every ounce of that value, not for a unit of time. Because again, the better you get, the more efficient you're going to get. And if you're still charging by unit of time, you're going to end up getting paid less and that's going to be devaluing yourself.

So that was a huge, huge, huge, huge, huge lesson for me. I vow, and I will tell you at the end of If I stuck with it, but I guarantee, I'm going to stick with that because that was a, that was a bit of a painful experience, especially to have happened twice.

Alright, so next big lesson is, as I was out doing client work, even though I am not a diversity, equity and inclusion consultant and, by the way, I have the greatest respect for the work that they do. But even though that's not what I do as a consultant. I don't have the skills or ability to do it. But I know enough about the work. And I have, you know, dear friends who do this type of work, who talked to me about it, that I was in positions where either something happened, and it had to be addressed. And I had to have the skills to address it in the moment, or there was an opening an opportunity that I could contribute to a good outcome happening for organizations that are trying to be more equitable, inclusive and anti-racist. And if I just sat back and said, “Oh, well, I'm not a DEI consultant. That's not really my job. I'll let them handle it,” it would have been a missed opportunity or a situation.

As I said, would have come up and I wouldn't have handled it well. And I would have caused harm. I believe it's critical for consultants to not cause or contribute to harm. So one thing that was a big lesson for me is it even consultants who do not do DEI work, and I never suggest faking it, if is not what you truly have expertise in, I'm not suggesting anybody fake it. But you have important roles to play. Companies and organizations that hire you, things will come up, or there will be opportunities, like I experienced in this happen more this year than it's happened any other time. Now, my hope is, is that because folks are paying more attention to this work as well, they should pay more attention to this work. But not everybody is out there doing it thoughtfully, skillfully, or they're trying their best, and they don't fully know what they're doing. And they haven't brought in an expert who can really help them. But all of us who are doing consultants can contribute when it's best for us to be able to contribute to that.

I know that it is going to cause me in 2020, to learn more and to pay better attention so that I see those needs and those opportunities when they arise. And I can support, to the best of my ability, the DEI workers who are out there doing this really hard work and can communicate and consult with them to see how I can best play those roles. But to step up and be willing to say what needs to get said when it actually happens. And I am I've said this on a previous podcasts. But I think this is so important because, I do strategic planning. I do other things. I work with a lot of CEOs. And often I can have conversations with CEOs, particularly because I'm white and if they're white, we can have conversations where they can talk about their frustration, uncertainty, discomfort, or anything along those lines. And we can ever really real conversation about it. And I can use that opportunity to contribute to good things happening, not just being a place where they can vent, but actually be able to say things like, “Look, this is really important work.” “Yes, you really need to bring in an expert.” Or “Yes, I know the easiest thing to do is just to hire the way that you've always been hiring, but that's what's contributing to the problem. So it's worth bringing an expert in who can help you make better decisions about hiring better decisions about inclusion, anti-racism, all of that.” I'm in those positions where I can actually say that and have those conversations. I need to be ready and prepared for when those things happen to be able to do it as skillfully as I possibly can.

I also am going to make mistakes, and I 100% know that that's going to happen. It's important for me to own up to it, recognize it, do what I need to do to to either make amends for it or, help the situation towards a better direction. Again, not trying to replace at all what DEI consultants are doing. I am in awe of the skill and the fortitude it takes to do that work. I have a role to support them. I have a role to contribute and, if I'm not contributing or I cause harm, my role is to step up and do the right thing and a

Again, I've seen this come up more than I've ever seen this come up before. And sometimes it surprised me, sometimes it didn't. But I think that it's my job to have the courage and develop the habit of opening my mouth and saying what needs to be said at the time it needs to be said. So I do encourage other folks, if you've also been seen in your work, learn more. There are a lot of tremendously wonderful and smart people out there who are talking about this all the time. And you know, books and movies and all kinds of things. Take the time to learn more about how these things actually work and operate and how they show up in organizations. And what a good role for you to play as relative to that. If there are DEI consultants that are also working with your clients, it's worth having a conversation with them to find out ways that you can be supportive. So that to me is a big deal.

I got two more that I'm going to do. And the first might come as a bit of a surprise, but as you may have heard, is that I got a giggle about it, because I think it's so goofy, but that Facebook, which is also Instagram is now Meta. And they're going to create a Metaverse and I just I can't. I just can't with Meta. For a long time, I've had a bit of an uncomfortable relationship with some social media, some of it because they beaver allowed harm to happen, or because they have been knowingly doing harm in the name of profit. And I'm not going to jump on a big soapbox about this. I have no judgment about people who decide to use social media to build and grow their business. I totally get it. I've been doing that. But I had quit Twitter, and I had quit Facebook for business. If you go on Facebook, you will see me because it is truly the best way to find homes for cats and kittens. And if you want one, please tell me but

otherwise, yeah, I haven't I stopped doing those. But I kept doing Instagram, partly because I like it I'm a visual person. So I like pictures, even though I knew Facebook owned it. And that's not an organization or company that I do not want to support. And I remember in right after I watched the documentary, which what I would encourage folks to watch, The Social Dilemma, I wrote in a newsletter to the folks that subscribe that I still felt like social media was doing more good than bad. And then I was really embarrassed when I heard almost the same exact sentence come out of the CEO of Instagram’s mouth when he testified in front of Congress.

I've been doing a lot of soul searching and asking myself, “How is it I want to do my business?” So my announcement, which I think is, you know, not that big of a deal, but I'm going to be quitting Instagram next year. I'm doing a transition plan right now.

Do I think it will impact my business? I don't know. Maybe. Now I've been paying attention to obviously, because I said earlier, pay attention to what's actually supporting your revenue in your business. And does it? yeah, a bit, not a lot. But even if it was, even if it was a main source of my income, I have built my consulting business, and I've built the Craft of Consulting on the principle of doing the right thing is always the right thing to do. And so I'm not really thinking about the business consequences of it that much. I'm kind of doing what I did with Mom Time, which is I'm just making the decision because it's important to me, and then I will figure out the logistics of it.

Again, I have no judgment for anyone else who still uses those platform. I will tell you that I am going to miss it because I have been able to interact with some of the smartest, funniest, most fabulous people from all over the world. And I get to interact with them regularly and see what they're doing and celebrate them. And I'm going to miss that. And I hope that there'll be a few folks that miss me too. I know you're going to miss my gardening and my kitten videos.

If you're following me on Instagram, what I would encourage since I am going to stop it is to subscribe to the Craft of Consulting. In the show notes on my website, there will be somewhere you can click to do that. What I do is every single week I send the folks who have subscribed to me who are part of my community really valuable content, I'm going to do more of that in 2022 and find other ways that I'm going to be able to serve more and serve better, but to do it on platforms and through mechanisms that I actually feel good about.

Now if you still need to see kitten videos, or you still need to see a garden video, just email me, I'll send you one. Goodness knows I always have them. So I'd be happy to send you one.

But in the meantime, I'm not getting rid of all social media, I'm still going to do LinkedIn. I'm still I'm going to do some more on YouTube. That may change in the future. But for right now, that's where I am. And again, that's one of those things that I had to reflect, I had to decide what's important to me. And now I'm going to figure out, you know, what I'm going to do and what its going to look like, instead, that's a great way to do it.

Now, the last thing I'm going to say this one I'm so excited about is I was extraordinarily fortunate this year. And, and truly, I felt blessed. And I felt honored to work with some amazing people to help them start and build their consulting businesses. But I had a wake-up call, which is that someone who was looking at purchasing my course Get More Consulting Business Faster, which also includes group coaching, reached out to me before he was going to buy and wanted to know if I thought this would work with consultants that serve nonprofits. And he was really surprised when I told him that most of my clients are nonprofit organizations. I do work with some for profits, but most of mine are nonprofit. I built my consulting business doing mission-oriented work, work that just is exactly the type of work I want to be doing because I think it makes the world a better place. And I realized by him asking me that question, that I was not communicating correctly. If somebody wasn't sure of the answer of that, that means that I'm not saying the right stuff.

I have no judgment against folks who work for for-profits or businesses. I do that also, I tend to gravitate towards ones that I think are doing good things in the world. And that can be really fulfilling work. But that's not all consultants have to pursue and do. So, in 2022, I realized I had, I have to fix that mistake that I've been making. So I'm going to emphasize helping do gooders do well because the folks that I have been coaching and I have been working with, do really just tremendous, wonderful things in the world. And I want to help them be able to go do that good work. I want them to do well, financially and in their lives while they're doing it. I think, especially with everything going on in the world, right now, that's all about making the world a better place, I want them to know and to be able to actually create that profitable consulting business, one that doesn't cause them to overwork or burn themselves out. Because that can happen. That can happen quite easily with any type of consulting work, but I've seen it a lot in the nonprofit sector. I want to help them not undercharge their clients. But I want them to be able to embrace and articulate and get paid for the wonderful value that they provide to their clients.

So if that's you, and if you're somebody who's out doing work, that you think is really important work. And again, it doesn't have to be with nonprofits, you could be working with, you know, businesses, and others who are who are just doing good things, supporting their communities, you know, helping fix things in the world, whatever it is, if that's what you're doing, I want to help you be able to do that and to have the life and, ultimately, the business that you want to have.

So you're going to see me talk about that more in 2022. And to have some additional resources and a lot to say about how that's possible. And I know it's possible, because I've built my entire consulting career doing that.

So those were my really big, big, big lessons from 2021, including some of my mistakes, which I don't mind telling you I made and the new things I'm going to do in 2022. And I'm actually, I don't think everything's going to be perfect or easy in 2022. But I'm definitely looking forward to it because I personally feel clearer because I stopped and I did this assessment. So I am now much clearer about the 2022 that I want to create within the boundaries of what I actually have control over. And I don't have control over everything. But where I do have control. I want to practice as much agency as possible to make choices that match who I want to be in the world and what I want the world to be. So that's what I'm doing. And I will see you in 2022.

Thanks so much for listening to this episode of the Craft of Consulting Podcast. I want to ask you to do actually three things. If you enjoyed this episode or if you've enjoyed any of my other ones, hit subscribe. I got a lot of other great guests that are coming up and a lot of other great content and I don't want you to miss anything. But the other two things that I'm going to ask you to do is, one is, if you have any comments, so if you have any suggestions or any kind of feedback that will help make this podcast more helpful to more listeners, please include those.

And then the last thing is, again, if you've gotten something out of this, share it, share it with somebody you know who's a consultant or thinking about being a consultant, and make sure that they also have access to all this great content and all the other great content that's going to be coming up.

So as always, you can go and get more wonderful information and tools at Thanks so much. I will talk to you on the next episode. Bye-bye.

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