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Episode 143: Balancing Your Time, Energy, and Revenue to Build the Consulting Business You Want—with Jodi Hume

Deb Zahn: I want to welcome you to this week's episode of the Craft of Consulting podcast. In this episode, I feel like it's a Jedi episode because we're getting into some of the underlying things that will actually make your business succeed or make your business struggle. We're going to be talking about time, energy and revenue.

How you spend your time, how you're spending your energy, and how that all relates to your ability to bring in the revenue you want and ultimately have the life you want. And I brought on someone who feels like I've known her for ages, and we go really deep into this. Her name is Jodi Hume, and she helps business leaders make decisions, which is a wonderful thing to be able to do.

Help them pick apart their problems and figure out what their path is going to be. And we get into the details of time, energy and revenue in a way that I think is going to help you, particularly as we're starting this new year to make decisions that are going to ultimately serve your life and your business. So let's get started. Hi, I want to welcome to the show today, Jodi Hume. Jodi, welcome to the show.

Jodi Hume: Hi. Thanks for having me.

Deb Zahn: So let's start off. Tell my listeners what you do.

Jodi Hume: Oh, man. That's my least favorite question, but it's my favorite thing. So I do something that's a blend between business coaching and business therapy. And it's all on-call. And I work with business owners with decision support and helping them figure out what to do next. It's very diagnostic around is this actually a business issue? Or is it more of like an emotional thing that's going on? Or frankly, sometimes do I need a nap? Which I'm not joking actually. That actually comes up way more often than you might imagine, so.

Deb Zahn: Hence, do you need a Snicker's commercial?

Jodi Hume: Yeah. No, seriously.

Deb Zahn: Which is true.

Jodi Hume: Seriously, yeah. No, yeah.

Deb Zahn: And we got introduced because one of the things that I also do is I help groups make decisions, particularly groups that are having a difficult time with each other in the room. But who introduced us? Say who cooked us up.

Jodi Hume: The one and only Laura Khalil.

Deb Zahn: Woo-hoo!

Jodi Hume: Yeah. No. She's one of those people if you've had an opportunity...the chances that you met her and were like, we are fast friends are probably high because I don't know, we both had that reaction to her, so.

Deb Zahn: Yeah. Somebody sent me a list of folks they thought she'd be on my podcast and I read hers and I'm like, yep, separated at birth. I have to have her on.

Jodi Hume: Oh, seriously. No. Yeah. I definitely had that experience.

Deb Zahn: Very good. So everybody listened to our podcast Brave by Design because it's fabulous. So today, we are getting into some juicy, juicy stuff. We're going to be talking about time, energy, and revenue. And we know because we talked before, and we know because we've been in business.

Those are really critical ingredients to having a successful business. But the proportions matter as with any recipe. So we're going to dive into that in a little bit. And the first thing we're going to talk about is time and revenue, and the balance between those.

But for folks that are hearing this going, time and revenue, I have neither of those. Let's say, why does that matter? Why do you need to pay attention to those two things together?

Jodi Hume: Yeah. So I think it's a couple of different reasons. I don't think it's a mystery to anyone that you only have a certain amount of time, and those hours that you have are how you make dollars, especially if you're any consultant.

Now, most people want to get out of the hours for dollars. So there can be some resistance to thinking about it hourly. And I certainly don't even necessarily encourage people to think of their business hourly, but it can be a really useful tool to check in on. Is this even possible? And I know you and I chatted about this.

I found early on when I was working with some growing companies that they would...there's this three-legged stool of time and revenue and what I call energy. But in that case, it's like how much time do you want to have off and whatnot.

And how much time goes to administrative. And how much time goes to, God knows what, in between calls or things that you have to need like time to think like the white space. You have to have that white space in between things. And there's this real temptation to say like, "Oh, I want to make X hundred thousand dollars."

And you divide that by the hours in the year that you can work and you're like, "That's easy. I can get clients for that." But you cannot work 40 hours. You can't have 40 billable hours a week as a consultant. You can't. In fact, it's a shockingly low number.

And so I just hated the frustration that I saw so often where people were taking it personally and thinking that they were broken or bad or just not doing a good job, when actually that three-legged stool just wasn't balanced out. It's not possible to make that much revenue if you're only working that many hours.

Or if you're only charging that many dollars for that program. And those three things have to match up. And then you go out and do a really good job at those things, but it has to make sense. Like the science behind your model.

Deb Zahn: Right. And doing the math matters, which of course, unfortunately, because this is audio for most people. We can't have you do the math course, like a Katie Porter whiteboard thing.

Jodi Hume: Exactly, yeah.

Deb Zahn: But what are the principles digging into those? The three-legged stool is a little bit more. What are the principles that you should adhere to when you're thinking through, how am I spending my time relative to my revenue?

Jodi Hume: Yeah. I take a couple of things off the top. First is all the administrative time that nobody thinks about. So when I'm first starting, when I have run through this...and I know I love the fact that you use the playground in your model or something play. Mine is like the model playground.

The play price. Right, exactly. Because you want to have that level of play and experimentation to it. And I have people start off with like, OK, what's the revenue you're trying to get to? How many hours per week are you imagining that you want to work?

And then to gross because this and the way I start to think about it with people is very broad brush, just to get the basic concept. We're not trying to plot out your every week down to an hour. It's just like on a gross scale, does this work? So the other question I have them ask on my little playground is how many weeks a year do you want off?

And so that's not just holidays and vacations. I used to use the example, especially when my kids were smaller, like mid-August to mid-September, it's back to school time and I end up working about half time. So for those four weeks, it's like two weeks off, essentially.

So you have to think about those things. And so it's not uncommon for that to end up being like eight, 10, 12 weeks. That doesn't mean I'm sipping cocktails in Aruba. Yeah, they are just the realities of how the year ends up working out. And so those are the three big things. And then the real discipline to it is the section on billable time, which is your administrative, your billing, you are thinking about things.

Especially with consultants who create content or create new programs, there's a real trap to imagine that if you are in a mastermind, or you're designing a new group program or working on a launch, I mean, those hours are important for your business, absolutely. But you cannot accidentally imagine that those are billable hours. The weight of your revenue has to come from some other hour. So there are just a few lines I have them go through and make some guesstimate about how many hours a week are you doing this? How many days and months are you spending working on content?

And then, when all that works out in mind, it ends up with a test hourly rate. And it's purely just as a test. Because if it says $1,200 an hour, well, that might be a really hard thing to work out. And if it says $20 an hour, well, you probably have some room to either make more revenue or take more time off.

So it's just getting that broad brush. And then, from there, you go into your actual income streams. Obviously, group programs are more cost. Because then, the nerd I get into there in my second tab is looking at each income stream and saying, "Oh, this income stream gets me 12% of my revenue goal, but it's taking up 42% of my time budget."

So what do I want to do with that? And that's not inherently bad, but something else has to come out better than that if that's where you want to be. And so it's just using the numbers not to restrict you, but it's like the structure that gives you the freedom to then…I've had clients realize that they actually only need one income stream, their favorite one. And they're killing themselves trying to have eight.

Deb Zahn: Because they think they have to.

Jodi Hume: They think they need eight. And then I said, "What if you just did this one? How many people would you have to sell into it?" She goes, "Oh, my gosh, probably a hundred." And I've never been so delighted in my life when I typed in the hundred because that was literally 14 times her income goal. We figured out if she could just sell 20 people into this one program, which was her favorite, by the way. That was all she had to do. And the weight that lifts off someone when they...because at the bottom, not everybody's great with numbers. And if the numbers are intimidating, you often don't look.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Jodi Hume: And so just finding ways. And that's why I know you and I try to keep it this light playful thing of just using the numbers to build out the space so you can move freely and do what you are really great at and not have to be fighting your business model.

Deb Zahn: That's right. And to do what you love to do. I was recently talking to someone who there was one thing in her suite of offerings that I could tell she made a face every time we talked about it. And I said, "So do you like that?" She's like, "Yeah, no, not really." And I said, "Do you want to take it off the plate?"

She says, "No, there's reasons why it's on there." And I said, "Do you want to double your price then?" Because then, it gets rid of anybody that it's not worth doing it for. And then, when you do it, you might not like it but you're thinking it's worth my time because of-

Jodi Hume: At least then, you're not also building a time resentment on top of it. The other thing too is we do not show up as our best selves when we are doing things we don't really want to be doing. And that's just a reality. That really plays into the energy piece too is when you are the magic that you bring to your company, your brain and your way of thinking, and your heart, and your skills and background and knowledge.

You really have to think of it like this precious machine that needs to be running at its best. I had a mentor early on say, "If you owned a golden goose, would you march it up and down the square in the freezing cold rain? No.

Deb Zahn: Oh, my gosh. I love that.

Jodi Hume: You would treat it really well and be really good to it, and make sure it had everything it needs to feel excellent. And she's like, "You are your golden goose."

Deb Zahn: Oh, my gosh. I absolutely love that. That's such a great analogy. Well, one of the things at the heart of what you're saying that I love so much is it's around agency and making deliberate choices instead of getting swept up in the tide of should that you think you have to be and you think you have to work so many hours.

You think you have to take every gig that comes your way. You think dot, dot, dot, there's so many. And this basically says, get on the playground and play with it until you get the version that you like.

Jodi Hume: Starting with what you want. I mean, that's the other funny thing. Especially, I think a lot of us that do anything in the realm of coaching and consulting and whatnot, you are somebody who often actually empowers other people with agency. So it feels like you don't have some of those barriers sometimes.

At least, I think intellectually it feels that way. But then, when you sit down to do an exercise like the spreadsheets we play around with, I don't know if you've seen this too. But I will often have people immediately start with compromise. They're either sheepish about how much revenue they want.

Or they're sheepish about how many hours a week they want to be working. Or they're sheepish about how many weeks...the first, trying to get somebody just realistically to say, no, at the end of the day, it's eight weeks that I'm not working.

And again, not always because they're on vacation, but you know what, maybe they're on vacation. Who cares? Getting them to just start with what they want is oddly one of the hardest things, but just then imagine it. Math is not some empathetic mind reader.

Math is going to do whatever you tell it to do. And if you start with compromise, then that means at best, your business model is going to give you some partial diluted water down version of what you want. And being a business owner is way too hard to until with something like half-baked. You might as well go for what you want.

Deb Zahn: Well, and it reminds me of the phrase garbage in, garbage out with data, which is, if you start putting variables into the mix that don't match the life that you ultimately want to have, then you are constructing—actually constructing—the life that you don't want to have.

Jodi Hume: Yeah. You're like ordering it all off of Amazon. You'll have like, I will take the overworked, underpaid…

Deb Zahn: Stressed out.

Jodi Hume: Not very interested model please and ship it overnight. I think the very first quote I ever saw that I recall is an inspirational quote, which I'm probably going to butcher. But it was something like, if you limit your choices to what is reasonable or possible, then all that's left is compromise.

And it's just a thing I always often check back in when I'm feeling off-kilter. I'm never present to the fact that I am starting with compromise. But it is just leaked in, in an insidious way through some doorway I wasn't keeping an eye on. And so I go back and I check with that.

I'm like, OK, where am I starting with something that isn't even what I was hoping for? Because the reality is going to have its crack at your system. And there will be, you may not be the example I said, there is a version of the math where you can make a million dollars a year working one a week, in the entire year, I guess, there is but…

Deb Zahn: We'll tell everybody once we figure out what that is.

Jodi Hume: Exactly. Yeah. But you might as well start with what you want and then let the shavings, that reality hits to it bring it down a little. Because even if you start with a compromised version, it will get shaved down even more for some reason, that works.

Deb Zahn: Oh, yeah. Because you basically have said to compromise, you've given compromise its first yes. And then, it's easy for the compromise to get its next yes.

Jodi Hume: That just gave me so many cold chills. You've already given compromise its first yes. I love that.

Deb Zahn: I prefer thinking about it as then you consider trade-offs, and then you make choices about trade-offs.

Jodi Hume: Conscious trade-offs.

Deb Zahn: Which would you rather have? What are you willing to do to not have to deal with that trade-off? Are you willing to do this other one?

Jodi Hume: And that changes sometimes. Now I have one son in college and a daughter in high school. And over the years in different phases, my trade-offs have garnered different answers from me. There are times where I needed different things from my business,vand I shaped it around what worked for me as those years changed. And which not everyone's like this mine actually looked like being way more involved than they were tiny. I really wanted to kick in and be around when they were in middle school so I pulled back in middle school. And then, once they got into high school, I ramped back up again. And that was what worked for me.

Everyone has different choices and that's the point. Your business, if you were going to start a business and work as hard as it takes to grow a business, it better reflect what you want for you specifically, and you're not growing up for someone else.

Deb Zahn: And you don't have to ask anyone’s permission for it. So I'm just going to reveal just so everybody feels good about the choices they're making. There is dedicated time off that I have already taken off my calendar in July and August for the purpose of planting vegetables in my garden.

Jodi Hume: That's lovely.

Deb Zahn: That's how that works. Because I know anytime I haven't done it, it becomes this mad dash of like, “OK, well, now I'm doing this thing I love and I freaking hate it because I'm trying to make it work in between all of these other things I'm doing.”

So at a certain point, when I went independent, I said, I shall just mark that time off. When I think about my time off that's part of what I think of. And guess what, I'm the boss.

Jodi Hume: Yeah. And I want to take this, like I've never found words that completely capture the amount of fist-pounding I have around this. But these conversations had a lot around like self-care and like be your best and whatnot. There is just so much neuroscience around why that's important. But I can tell you this. When COVID hit, I think most leaders and most owners of companies felt like the last thing they could do was pause. There were so many things to figure out. And that's a very legitimate. I wouldn't have necessarily said, go to the beach per week necessarily.

But you know what, I did have one client who could feel like when you feel that sense of overwhelm and where it just feels like you can't even get your bearings, she said, "I'm going to go away for two days." And it was maybe even three days, I don't remember. She went dark. She went off on her own. And she came back out with a plan that from that day forward, of course, so many businesses, there's so many variables. So it's not like there's just this one. But she does that routinely. When things get hard, she takes a step back. She gets clear. She doesn't participate in the frenzy. And I wish I could tell her stories, but they're not my stories. It is remarkable to see what happens when someone has the courage to actually pull back.

Whereas some of these other people, they didn't pace themselves. They didn't take time to think. They didn't take time to step back and really find that grounded center that they needed. And they were just whack-a-moling every little thing that came up. And they burned themselves out. It got harder and harder to make decisions which at best, they were hard to make.

There's a ton of uncertainty. But it was interesting to actually watch it in action and have comparative companies who like who was planning forward and who was actually taking that time to step back a little bit and get clear and make a plan, which is hard. It's counterintuitive. It feels like the last thing you can do, but.

Deb Zahn: Well, unless you look back at the last time you made panic decisions and the fruit of those panic decisions, then you're like, "Hey, stepping back might be a good thing."

Jodi Hume: Yeah. Well, actually, I feel like I have my own little scientific study last year because we had gone on a vacation. It was last summer, and you couldn't, not this one that just passed, but before that. So we went and did what we were doing here in this house at another Airbnb somewhere, but it was a getaway. But we were only gone a few days and it did not reset my system. But I'd been air quotes gone the previous week. And I came back and one of my clients wanted to go for a hike on Monday when we first got back. And I said, "Oh, I can't. I've been gone. I can't possibly.” I was definitely not feeling life that day. And he said, "Well, it's the only nice day. It's going to rain for like two weeks after this. 

And so I went but grudgingly. And here's the interesting thing. I love to take pictures, especially in the forest, I take lots of these and like closed pickups. When I got home, we were gone for three hours, I got home and I look at my camera roll, the first hour and a half of this, they're two pictures and they look like somebody said, "You are required to take two photos while on the forest." They're so boring, which is I don't even know why I took them. I'm like, tree, tree. And then, about halfway through, I start taking pictures. And the last 40 minutes, I have these just amazing photographs. And it felt like I watched on camera, in my camera roll, my wadded-up piece of paper of a brain uncrumple and unfold back into its like actual normal shape.

And for the rest of that week, that three hours did more for me than my entire school vacation. And for the rest of that week, I got more done. I strategized a whole new program that I went. And just there is so much value in that space, but it's so hard to take sometimes.

Deb Zahn: Well, especially if we don't think good things come from it. But that actually leads us really nicely into energy management. You said the term energy management to me, and I actually hadn't heard that before. And I thought I must have that t-shirt because I know how important that is. Not just because I'm an introvert or menopausal.

Jodi Hume: But also because.

Deb Zahn: But also because of those things. So what is energy management? Why should consultants be paying attention to that?

Jodi Hume: Yeah. Well, I'm happy to answer that question and I will tell you that I'm not even joking when I said that. I have been monitoring entrepreneurial energy management since I was five or six years old. Because I grew up and my mother was an entrepreneur, my grandfather and my grandmother both had companies. And my mom involved me in a lot of her decisions and conversations. I was with her a lot. My generation, we went around with her to do all of her things. I went to her office after school, go home with her. So I would talk things through with her. And very early on, I would get this, there was this sense like I had it very different.

Now, I know more like neuroscience around it at the time, this may sound very funny. It felt to me like a peanut M&M does. Except in this metaphor, unfortunately, chocolate is a bad thing, which makes no sense. But there's this truth of a thing. There's this peanut that would be inside of her issue. But especially if she was tired or if it had been like if she hadn't been resting, or if there was just too much going on. All this chocolate would amass around it. And I would end up having these conversations. We were like sorting through the difference between what part of this is a genuine issue that we really need to deal with and what part of this is emotional or psychological or energetic. You are tired. You're exhausted. I remember being in high school and in college and talking to her on the phone and saying, "You have to go to bed. We cannot discuss this again until you get a good night's sleep. If it's still a problem, call me tomorrow and we'll talk about it then." And it wouldn't be.

So it's a thing that I have known and watched and believed in and understood for as long as I can remember. And I didn't know that that would end up being a big part of what I do with my life. But when clients call with some indecision, they know they're stuck. They know they're spinning their wheels. They're not sure if it's them or if it's someone else or are they crazy? Are they off the mark? Do they think it's a bad idea? And there is this distinction. And if you listen for it in the people you love, you'll be able to be here too.

It is the difference between sometimes you drag your feet because down deep it's a bad idea. Like that sounds one way. You were talking about someone's energy when they talked about their product. You can hear the bottom drops out when somebody doesn't really want to do something. Versus there's a different energy to down deep, I know it's a good idea, but it's just scary. It's like a big decision. It's a big deal. That has a very different spicy but hesitant but still spicy energy. There is an energy to I couldn't decide between a hamburger and a cheeseburger because I am just stick-a-fork-in-me done. Sometimes it's a nap. Sometimes, you're beyond that. There's a bone-tired people get where sometimes you even have to at least explore business, hospice kinds of conversations. Just say, "What's happening here? Does the model need to shift? Has this thumb totally lost its flavor?"

There are different levels to that exhaustion. But the thing, you cannot ignore an entrepreneur's energy, it will bite you everywhere. It's non-negotiable because it is the thing. An entrepreneur is a machine. It's a furnace, that maybe even a better way to think about it. And that wood that is the fire that is burning in there is the thing that sustains everything else. And if you are faltering, then it is going to show up everywhere else, everywhere else.

Deb Zahn: What I love, love, love about what you're saying is I think a lot of people approach it whether it's consulting or some other type of business, where that's not a variable. And the assumption is, as long as the hours work, as long as the time works, the energy will be there.

And I think, I mean, certainly for me, one of my big lessons this year is my waxing and waning of energy has changed as I've gotten older. And I've been acting like it's the same as when I was in my twenties, which I'm a bit out of my twenties, it's not. And now, I have to make adjustments because of it but I can't ignore it. And when I try to ignore it, the wheels go off the bus almost instantly.

Jodi Hume: And it doesn't mean you're shutting down or something. A lot of times it's also just changing. I mean, that's the other thing we evolve. Sometimes, this has happened to me once or twice in my business where I build the business that I wanted and that's great for a while.

And then, there comes a day where I'm like, "Oh, I don't like the flavor of this gum as much anymore." I want something different. And you can't ignore that because it shows up in how well that you do all the things that you do.

You brought up the hours. This isn't a mystery. I mean, I started to say, think about two totally different kinds of things, but just even think about two different TV shows. There are shows you get lost in and you're like, "Was that really three hours? That movie?" Because I was transported someplace else. And there are other ones, you're like, "Oh, my God, has it been three minutes yet? This has been boring." This is different for everyone, but there are certain kinds of tasks in my...when I talk to clients that gives me energy, I can be in the drags of my energetic state and just like blah.

And I'll be having those moments where I'm like, maybe I don't even want to do this anymore. And then, I will get on a phone with the clients that I have, the really juicy vibe back and forth where they weren't digging into all their stuff, and I hang up and I could paint a house. I have all this energy versus ask me to fill out my quarterly payroll forms, which probably takes 12 minutes, maybe. I now pay somebody an embarrassing amount of money. I mean, it's not a ton of money. But for what it is, I should just do it myself, and I just cannot. Because I would rather pluck my own fingernails off. Because that drains energy from me. And your energy is your currency. That is the currency of entrepreneurship is your energy. That's what you have to invest in your clients and your company.

Deb Zahn: Yeah. Because your clients can also tell. You can be like wicked smart, the best at what you do, you can be all of those things. And if you don't have the juice, man, they can tell. And they don't like it because they often don't have the juice. And one of the things they paid for was the juice.

Jodi Hume: They're like, "I came here for juice."

Deb Zahn: What is this insipid thing that you're giving me? So where is it that you see business owners, the energy leakage? Where does that often pop up?

Jodi Hume: So sometimes it's just simply pushing too hard, that's one. Is if they're just not taking breaks. Most of the people I work with, they know, like that's a pay-to-play. We're starting there. Like, that's early on. So there's not a tolerance for that. But there's also a different version of it.

I actually think of it like a profit and loss statement. What puts energy in; what takes energy out? You are going to run with a negative balance sometimes. You're going to be in debt energetically occasionally, but you cannot operate in debt. It can't be the status.

And so one of the things I listen for my clients is knowing what are those things that are non-negotiable. I have a couple of clients who don't simply need to be working out. They need to be working out hard. That is a thing that is super important to them. And if they're not getting that, I can tell. I'm like, "When's the last time you worked out?" And they're like, "Oh, it's been 10 days." I'm like, "I knew it. I knew it." And that's part of their formula for staying profitable. If you think about that, that P&L thing.

The other side to it is allowing too many drains. And that takes a brutal honesty sometimes about whether it's the types of clients you're working with. A tough thing that I just had to come to terms with early, whether I liked it or not was, there were a couple times I had very profitable opportunities that I tried to do, but I just either I didn't like the people or whatever it is, it just, there was something that area didn't quite align with their values or something. But I went ahead and did it from the purely like, “Well, it's like really great revenue,” or “It'd be a great opportunity to move me into this.”

And it never, ever, ever works. I always regret it. I always regret it. And so I just know that. I'm like, "Wow, that is a very, very shiny diamond sitting there." I just need to leave it on the table because it is going to suck energy out of me. And especially if you are someone...the other piece to that is entering into client things that you know aren't going to work. A very wise person once told me, however a client is in their initial conversations with you.

If you have problems with them in the very, very beginning, they want a thousand tweaks to your proposal or they don't get back to you, whatever shows up then is going to show up, like the rest of the thing. And I have, again, especially early, on stepped over good red flags that I do…

Deb Zahn: Wait, what was that? Was that red?

Jodi Hume: Yeah, was that red? You know what I think, it's mauve. It's fun. And again, those things always end up...and so when you do that, I think then especially if you're really committed to things, you're like, "Well, I don't want to leave this on a sour note."

So I'll just add extra energy to this in hopes that I can get it to a place where I can walk away, but it's in a good spot. And that is quicksand I haven't seen anybody get out of. And then you have to walk away. I mean, it's even yuckier and it gets even worse.

Deb Zahn: I want everybody to rewind and listen to what you just said again because it's true. So my husband and I have a phrase that we use all the time, which is never override. I call it truth in advertising. Whatever you see is true. And if it's going to change, it's only going one direction, and it ain't the direction you like.

Jodi Hume: It's not going to get better, yeah.

Deb Zahn: So our phrase that we say to each other all the time when we're talking about should we do this, should we do that, is if we see the red flags, don't override them. They are real. And they are legitimate reasons to walk away. You can walk away respectfully. But yes, stay out of the quicksand. Man, I've been in this quicksand it was horrible.

Jodi Hume: No, it is. And you're like, "Well, I just want it to be nice so that, I just want to get it to a place where I won't feel bad" and it just gets worse and worse and worse.

I see that on the market, we're talking a lot about clients. I really see it a lot on the marketing side. All these things come back to being really clear about who you are and what works for you and only choosing by those things. For better or for worse, I routinely probably twice a year daydream about this super-scaled business where I have these huge group programs or something. And the fact of the matter is, I never had large groups of friends. I have a few good friends, and that's how I work. I put energy into them. I hire people who are going to help me stand up for these things. And I would not like having a 100 clients. I don't want a 100 clients.

And I forget that myself. And I get seduced into somebody else's dream or somebody else's version of what bigger and better looks like. Instead of just simply this, what can sometimes feel really indulgent, but is the only thing I would ever recommend anybody navigates by, which is what feels good? What feels exciting? What feels fun? What turns on that part of me that that almost feels like a superpower. I mean, I think you all feel like when you're in your zone, you hang up, you're like, "I am good at this work." This is great. That's the only thing you should be doing. And then you have to fill in pieces. You don't sit there with nothing to do as you're building a consultancy, obviously, there are some stair steps sometimes. But let's start there. Start there.

Deb Zahn: So I love the start there because if you say what really gets me going, and that's where you first start. And then, you take those steps that inevitably get you to who needs that, and who's willing to pay for that. Now you're building a business that matches what you want. Instead of “OK, well, oh, that would be great if I had that someday, but, in the meantime, I'm going to run towards this pile of suck and hope it works out.” Which it doesn't. But that's a different way to go about it is. Where do I truly rock? I feel the flow. I bring the best of myself. And then, who's out there that would make a huge difference in their lives, enough that they're willing to pay for it.

Jodi Hume: Yeah, exactly. And I think that is especially important to find whatever way it is that you need to continue like a tether back to that. If you are someone who is trying to build or do anything that isn't off the shelf, that there aren't 45 people who went before you, and you can just stomp in their footprints in the snow behind them.

If you're creating something a little bit different or trying to speak to something that hasn't been said as much or surface a new thought, you have to have resilience around that because you're not going to get validation from a lot of people because they will only be able to use what they have seen before.

And if they haven't seen your thing, they can't see as far as you. That is the other place where I most see energy draining out. And it's the hardest thing to find ways to plug the hole is. I work with a lot of people who are forging paths that have not been forged before. And so they are people who can see further than other people about that particular thing, and it is so exhausting.

I almost get really emotional talking about it. It's so exhausting being able to see further because you are constantly just met with people who can't see what you can see, and that means you're misunderstood. And you are not backed up. And you don't have people validating your vision. That takes enormous resilience and energy, which is just all...and the answer is not to find the people who do. You'll find some people who do, but that is not going to be the way you keep that part of your ship bolstered and solid. You have to be backfilling it with other kinds of energetic, that client that I said that takes the time off, she's one of the most like forward-thinking, going down paths, no one else is going down.

And I think the only way she's able to do it is she takes exceedingly good downright, luxurious care of herself because she has to. Otherwise, she'd be slugging in the mud, I think.

Deb Zahn: With vision but no ability to actually get there. Yeah. Cool. That is just beautiful. So let's talk about you for a moment.

Jodi Hume: OK.

Deb Zahn: So all of these things and I love that we've talked about time and energy and how they relate to revenue, and how they relate to building what you want. And there's all the rest of our lives and the things that we love. So how do you bring balance to your life however it is you actually define that?

Jodi Hume: Yeah. So a big part of that is my husband and I decided very early on that it was super important that not only for us as humans, but for what we wanted to model for the kids that we also be happy human beings.

Deb Zahn: What?

Jodi Hume: Yeah, I know, right? I want my daughter to see that you can be a parent who also not like be a good parent, definitely not a perfect parent, but I'm not trying to model perfection. I don't think anyone is. That being a good parent does not equate to being a martyr or just setting all of your wants and needs and desires.

Because much like we're talking with the business model, even with as much space as I create for me to do the things I want to do, which I'll say more about in a second. But even then, there is going to be a lot of compromise. There's a lot of times where I'm like, "Oh, OK, I guess, I'm not doing that."

But at least I was starting. If I was already diminished and I wasn't already doing some things I wanted, and then I'm having to put that aside, it doesn't make any sense. And the way I think about it is, is this really clear math to me I realized one day.

If my parents put aside everything they wanted in the world to like reach me as high as they possibly could. And I have children and I put aside my wants and dreams to reach my kids as high as I can, who exactly benefits from all this?

Deb Zahn: Yeah. It's like a reverse pyramid scheme.

Jodi Hume: Exactly. So over the years it has changed. But I sing in a band because that gives me energy in a big way. I too very late in life have found my way to some like more extreme athletic stuff. I did a strong woman competition once. This past year, I did circus classes.

And those are things that challenge me and keep me energized and keep me feeling, I mean, I'll be honest, they keep me feeling interesting. And for me, that's like Popeye's spinach. I need to feel like I'm doing interesting things that gives me energy, so I roll with it.

If it gives me energy, I do it. If it doesn't give me energy, I try and limit it. You can't but I'm not. So it's not I have some ridiculously privileged life where I don't clean toilets or whatever, like fill out tax forms. But I try and limit those things. Where can I bless someone else's business?

We'd love to do those things. And the way that I keep that though because those are all really big picture things. I have one little tool. I don't even know where I picked it up but it's all based on that very simple thing. Whenever you're saying no to something, you're saying yes to something else and vice versa.

And somewhere along the way someone shared this thought with me. Because you're at the end of the day, yes, my kids are the most important thing. In the middle of this conversation, I found out one of them fell and busted her head open, then I would immediately walk out of the room.

But that's not helpful on like a random Tuesday night when I'm trying to decide whether to go to a networking event or stay home with my kids. And so that really quick practice of, OK, if I go, what am I saying yes to, what am I saying no to? Key thing is you cannot put any shame or judgment on any of the things. Like I'm saying yes to getting new clients, whatever.

I'm saying no to being home with my kids, doing this, whatever. And the thing is that’s done. And then, the question is which one do we need more right now? And if we just came back from a week away, the whole family together, our tanks are full. I'm not dying.

They probably don't want to hang out with me, spend a whole week together. Versus, if I haven't seen them in a while and I'm just going to go to the network, and I really want to be home because I'm tired. And then, I go to the networking event and spend half the time either faking trips to the bathroom or talking to people I already know.

That's where the real time tragedy is in my book is when you don't make those conscious choices with your agency. And then, you end up cheating both those things out like not home. And I only went because I, let's make it up, I really needed a new client.

But then, I don't go and I don't talk to anyone, and I didn't do either thing. And then, that is lost time and nothing. Nothing grates my nerves more than like that wasting time. Good quality wasting time. I'm all over, like playing hooky.

Deb Zahn: Yeah. That's a different thing.

Jodi Hume: That's a very different thing. But that just senseless loss of time is what I try to avoid.

Deb Zahn: Yeah. And it adds up, so you got to pay attention to it.

Jodi Hume: And it becomes resentment. That's the only thing I watch for. If ever I want to say my kids and my clients and my husband, do you know what I had to do? I'm like, oh. Because resentments are always yours. They're always places you've let your boundaries get smooshed on.

Because my mom used to say, "You got to push your drawers in" with file cabinets or drawers. If you have too many drawers out, they'll pop all over. And so she's like, "You got to push some of your drawers back in."

Deb Zahn: Oh, my God, that's golden. So hey, where can folks find you if they want to find out more about this goodness?

Jodi Hume: So the easiest place is So it's J-O-D-I-H-U-M-E. And there’s a little treat though at a website that mentions my podcast that we just ended a few months ago. So you can ignore that. I haven't taken it off yet.

But, whenever I do these interviews, I make this link available to schedule just like a 20-minute phone call with me. And I want to be super clear, it's not a sales call. I will not, literally, will not discuss working with you. It's a little pilot program I'm running.

Seth Godin has a quote that says if you have a problem you can't talk about, now you have two problems. And I hate people not having that second problem. And so if there are things people just want to bounce off of another person who's maybe been there done that, it's 20 minutes yours for the using it. And I will not discuss working with me on that call. So there's a link on that second page.

Deb Zahn: That is fabulous. And we will put a link to that in the show notes so people can easily get to it. Jodi, we could seriously, and it wouldn't be wasting time, talk for a gazillion more hours. So I definitely want to have you back on because this is helpful to me as I'm going into the new year.

And I'm thinking about what different choices I want to be making about my time, energy and revenue. So if it's helpful for me, I know it's helpful for other folks. And I can't thank you enough for coming on and sharing all of it with us.

Jodi Hume: Right back at you. I wrote down that compromise already has its first yes. I was like, "Oh, that lands with a brick at the moment." So thank you for that.

Deb Zahn: You are very, very welcome. We're both walking away with some gems. That's the best way to do this.

Jodi Hume: Yes.

Deb Zahn: 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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