top of page


Episode 28: Making Deliberate Life Balance Choices—A Group Exercise with Deb Zahn and Guests

Deb Zahn: Hey, folks. Welcome to Episode 28 of the Craft of Consulting podcast. I am so excited for this episode, because I'm doing something brand new. The first brand new thing is that you're going to get access to a free tool, so that you can do what we actually do in this podcast.

And what we did is, again, the other new thing, is that I recorded my first live podcast. I was in a room with three fantastic consultants, and we did this step-by-step life balance exercise, so that at the end of the exercise, we had really concrete plans for how we were going to bring more balance into our lives.

When we got done, they told me, "Hey, you should really make this available to folks. This would help a lot of people. Put it on your website, attach it to the podcast, so anybody who listens to this or anybody who wants it can get access to it." That's what I did, because it was so helpful to all of us, including myself. I want to make sure that you can do the same exercise.

Here's the thing I would say is, you can do exercises on life balance by yourself and it will do you a lot of good. I got so much more out of being in a group of people, that I could be honest with and I could be authentic with. And I could listen to what they're struggling with. I could listen to what solutions they came up with to address it, and I got so much more out of it.

I would encourage you, if you have a small group of folks that you really trust and you can be yourself with, and they don't even have to be consultants. Because it's life balance, so it applies to pretty much anybody I can think of. And you probably can think of other folks in your life, too. But if you do it with a group, you'll get a lot more out of it.

I was in a room with Jan West, who is a fantastic executive and leadership consultant and coach. I was in the room also with Ann Stuart Zachwieja, who is the co-founder and COO of Globig, which is a wonderful marketing firm, that helps people launch and expand their businesses. And then Diana Crabtree Green, who is a past guest. She is a financial and accounting consultant and entrepreneur, and then I was there. We all did this exercise together.

Let me say a little bit about what the exercise is, because then it'll make the rest of it make a lot more sense. What we did is, and it's perfect, because it's close to Halloween, is that we identified work zombies and vampires that we actually either wanted to kill, or we wanted to change something up, so it had less of an impact in our lives.

What do I mean by that? Let me start with vampires, and I have a blog on this on my website, actually a two-part blog that goes into much more detail about this. The first, vampires are those things that suck away your time, energy and focus, but they don't really add any value to you, and they don't add any value to your clients.

There's two really big types of vampires. The first are people vampires, so these are folks, and they're everywhere, that will suck away your time and energy and your emotions. They come in a lot of different forms, but these are folks who are just adding stress to your life or diverting your attention from the things you want to do, and it's not even a real relationship. It's really about them just being able to suck up your time and energy.

There's also what I call distraction vampires, so those are those things that grab your attention and distract from what you're doing and they just suck away your time and they suck away your energy. Social media is obviously a big one of those, but there can be a number of things, like multitasking and other things that just pull you away from what you want to be doing. The problem is, is you still got to work to make a living. You still got to put in that time, so usually, if you get swept up in those things, that time comes away from the rest of your life.

There are also zombies, and we are going to talk about what our zombies are. Those are those living, undead activities that you just keep doing over and over and over again, even though, again, they add no value to you or your client. One of the most obvious ones are what I call zombie meetings, and you know which ones I'm talking about. They're the meetings, whether it's your colleagues or your clients, and being there in meetings doesn't really do anything to add value to what you're working on. And often, they can be so irritating or stressful, they kind of have a half-life, so it lingers even after you walk out of the meeting.

There is also things like zombie travel, so travel that you really don't have to do, but for whatever reason, you just keep doing it, because you haven't stopped and made a deliberate choice about it. There's zombie proposals. These are the sort of Hail Mary or the panic proposals often, that consultants do, even though they don't have much of a chance of getting them. But they keep applying for doing work that they're never going to be able to do, because it's really not a fit for them. But doing those proposals takes up a whole bunch of time, a whole bunch of energy, and it ends up being usually time and energy that you take away from your rest of your life and not work.

Those are the types of things that we considered in this exercise and essentially what we did is we started with identifying vampires and zombies that we wanted to get rid of. We then talked about, if we got rid of them, what would we get back in our lives? Or, what would we actually do with that time?

Then, the next thing we did is we identified things that we would have to overcome, or would be challenges to be able to get rid of them. We also then identified things that could help us get rid of them. So that's where we really got into some of the strategies.

And then the last question we answered is, so now that we've figured this out together, what are we going to do with this information? What are we going to do with this plan, so it really makes a difference in our lives? So you'll hear all of us go through this exercise, I think you'll get a lot of great ideas out of it. And don't forget, download your free version of this exercise, so you can do it too.

And you can make sure that while you're consulting, you have a rich and full life and you have the life that you want to have. So hope you enjoy this episode as much as I did, thanks.

So the first question is, and this is all in the exercise of being able to decide how we're going to have more life balance by making deliberate choices about what we want to do and not do. And one of the ways to do that is to pick which vampires and zombies we want to kill, or we want to do something to change it so they actually can't get to us in the same way that they have before.

So the first question in this exercise was, to identify what those vampires and zombies are, that you want to either kill or do something different, so they can't get to you. So how did you answer that question?

Jan West: Okay, so I have four of these. And the first one is commute, which is a whatever, vampire or zombie, I'm not sure. But I, nine years now, have been working for a certain place, doing some onsite work with varying frequency. It's 100 miles from my house.

Deb Zahn: Wow.

Jan West: So that's really a travel gig. So I'm driving, I'm delivering work all day. Maybe I'm staying overnight, maybe I'm delivering the next day, then I'm driving home. It lays me out. And it lays me out ever more because there's more construction and there's more cars and I have to drive earlier and earlier in the morning and I don't get enough sleep. So wrestling that into submission is really important to me, really would change my life.

Deb Zahn: That's great.

Jan West: Another one is, certain work colleagues that I consider complainers, who tell the same kind of trouble every time I see them. Well, the company did this, that or the other thing, or why can't we just... And I think, who needs to know that? It's not me.

But dealing with them in a more active way, instead of-

Deb Zahn: Listening to it.

Right, because there are strategies to get out from under those time vampires and energy.

Jan West: For sure.

Another one is the email alert and checking emails too often, because it interrupts my train of thought. And especially if there's something that needs it, like actually is, I can't get on this call for five minutes, because I'm blah, blah. That is, we used to call it variable response rate. When something actually is urgent that I catch, it makes me do it even more. So it's just not good to do that. It gets in my way.

And here's one to admit, boring clients with a low learning curve.

Deb Zahn: Oh my goodness.

Jan West: Drains me, done. Don't need to know that any longer or teach that anymore... So there you go.

Deb Zahn: That's great. All right, what do you got?

Ann S. Zachwieja: Well, now we're beginning to have some themes here. So I have five cards. The first one is the notifications thing. And that is, the phone dings, the Slack dings, whatever that might be. I've turned a lot off, but I have enough, and it's sort of like, it is kind of the dopamine rush. There's a little bit of, squirrel. It's kind of fun and what's going on now, and so it's a way to distract.

And going along with that, I noticed that a lot of these things have to do with focus. When we lose our focus, it's multitasking. You're trying to carry a lot of different things at once. So another thing is thinking everything is urgent. There are rarely things that are truly urgent.

It gets back to the notification. Oh, maybe that's something I really need to deal with right now. Very rarely is it. Multitasking, common. We all deal with that. Having the phone as a constant companion, because every time it lights up, something new comes through, it lights up. What was that, what was that?

And even if you have your notifications turned off, so I've turned off the dings, perhaps, but it lights up. And then I think oh, did somebody just follow me on Twitter? Oh, did an interesting New York Times article just come through? Oh, did my daughter just text me? That sort of thing.

And then another one for me that I'm sort of thinking about these days is feeling the need to respond to something that feels unfair, or not fully formed without taking a beat to think about how I want to respond. So I might end up either sounding defensive or I might not really answer in the way I want to, and just to take a moment, take to beat, maybe ask a question...

Because then I perseverate, perseverate, perseverate afterwards about I should have done this, I should have done that.

So taking a beat, you don't have to answer immediately, and giving it some thought before I do reply.

Deb Zahn: That's great. Because you're right, the half-life of making a choice that you're not happy with is now time sucked out of your life. Oh, that's great. I like that one.

OK, so mine is saying yes to projects when I have no time to do that project. And the reality is, I know, I won't admit it, but the reason I do it is I am... It's ego, that they come to me and they say, you are the best person to do this. We don't want anybody but you. Can you please do this?

Sometimes it's because it's super interesting and it's a puzzle that needs to be solved. I get really intellectually stimulated by it. But if I'm really honest, there's plenty of puzzles out in the world. It's generally because I'm so complimented, and I get hooked into the fact that they came to me, and they're asking me for it.

And what happens, of course, which is no big surprise, is if I say yes, and now I have too much on my plate, because I'm intrinsically motivated to always give my clients the best quality that I can, that time has got to come from somewhere. And so I don't want it to come from my husband. I don't want it to come from my mom. I don't want it... So it's got to come somewhere and it usually comes from my health.

So it usually means I'm going to exercise less, I'm going cook less food, and when I cook food, I cook really healthy food. It's going to come out of sleep, it's going to come out of the things that are part of my baseline, that keep me well and happy and able to not just do consulting, but also to live the life I want. So that's a huge one for me.

And then the other one, I admit, it's social media, it's social media and emails, so I turned all my alerts off, and that was life changing. It was totally life changing. But I got out of the habit, and then recently for some reason, I got back into the habit of checking work email when I'm still in bed.

So I wake up in the morning, and I'm just curious, I guess. So I check work email, or I'm looking to see if somebody thinks I'm important enough to email me. And now I'm in work mode. I'm in work zone, and maybe I see something and I'm like, oh, I should answer that or oh, I have a thought about that. And it sucks me in before its time.

And so I used to, and I'm now trying to get back into the habit of saying, here's my start time, I've deliberately picked my start time, and nothing comes before that, nothing work-related happens before that. So then I have time to meditate, I have time to write, I have time to exercise.

And then social media is the same thing. Actually, my husband put it a really good way, which is, if we check social media first thing in the morning, we're basically having junk food for breakfast.

Jan West: Nice.

Deb Zahn: I love that way of thinking of it. And so the way I've been trying to stop myself is, by thinking of it exactly that way is, do I want to start my day with junk food or do I want to start my day by going and giving my husband a kiss, hanging out with my animals, meditating, and doing the things that actually bring the balance to my life? So those are my big ones.

Ann S. Zachwieja: Hallelujah.

Deb Zahn: All right, what do you got?

Diana Green: Hi. My first one that comes to mind is high maintenance clients, to what you said, have a low learning curve, or who are somewhat helpless and want to be spoon fed information. I've got several examples, but the biggest example is, I have some clients that want several meetings throughout the year. Not just to check in and do an estimate, a tax estimate, that makes perfect sense. But they've got a question about something. Can we get on a call?

And is there an energy credit for the windows they just put into their house? And what about this and what about that? I've got two clients this week that want to schedule calls, and scheduling to me is so precious. Like as soon as I say, yes, I've got a call at 2:00, that means I have got to be sure that I'm in my office at two o'clock that day and I've got nothing else going and I'll go stop whatever I'm working on, to have a complete shift in focus to get on this phone call for this person. So it doesn't just cost me 15 minutes or a half hour to have a phone call. It cost me a whole lot more. This is a big one for me.

Constant email checking is a big one too. Almost all of us mentioned it. I'm real bad about it, even right up to the end of the day. And for me, it's I'm important. Somebody needs me for something. Oh, yeah. Dopamine. If in fact, it's anything problematic at all, or that requires any kind of brainpower, I take it to bed with me. And now it's just costed me a whole night's sleep or a good night's sleep. So this is a real problem for me.

Facebook I dealt with and maybe I can talk about it later. Because I'm actually on the successful end of this one.

Deb Zahn: Yay.

Diana Green: I'm going to skip that. In my house, so I have a domain and my husband has domains, we kind of separate the roles in our house and I happily take care of the most of the domains on the inside of the walls of the house. He takes care of things on the outside, and I'm happy with it. I understand that happens to align with old gender stereotypes, but I'm cool with it.

Except when I'm sitting on the couch in the morning, reading, easing into my day, and he says, what are having for breakfast? No fault to him, by the way, he's not insisting that I get up and make the breakfast, but I feel like it's my responsibility, because it is the domain that I've taken on. He's fine if I say, “Hey, babe, I'm in the middle of something. Would you go make yourself a bowl of cereal? Yeah, cool.”

But I have a problem with boundaries on this. Because I do feel like it's my responsibility and I want to step into that responsibility. And the same thing on the back end of the day, when I really should get the meal done, right about 6:00 I should be thinking about it. I should get it done by 7:00 because Cheyenne has to get to bed on time for school in the morning.

So now I've got to stop my day at 6:00 to shift gears again to this thing, that is my responsibility, that I'm happy to take. And this is a messy one, because there's a lot of resentment kind of baking in here, which is mine, by the way.

Deb Zahn: That was a good one. All right, so now we're going to go through and we're actually going to go back the opposite direction. And we're going to talk about, so if you killed those zombies or vampires, or if you switched things up, you have all of that time and energy and effort that now is available to you. What do you want to do with it?

So let's start over here. What would you do with all of that?

Diana Green: Almost all three of mine come down to the same things, and that is me owning and controlling my time and my schedule and my attention and nobody else having the ability to come in and demand it or derail it. Focus, recalendar, attention, that's where all mine come out.

Deb Zahn: That's great. So mine are all health related, because that's the place where I feel like I've been slipping the most, and feeling the effects of it. So my joints are a little more tired, I've gained a little bit more weight, my sleep isn't as great as it was before.

So the first thing I wrote down is kayak with mom. So my mom loves to kayak, loves it, and she's 79 years old, and she's like this awesome, badass kayaker. And she will go by herself, but I want to go with her. So I want the connection with her, because we have a great time when we do it. But it's also, I mean, peaceful, serene, I'm out on a lake and it's just gorgeous. And it's exercise and it feels good.

And so I often, one of the reasons I wanted to be a consultant, one of the reasons I also went recently independent, is because I wanted to have, just like you said, the flexibility of my time and owning my schedule. So if mom's like it's a Tuesday, the weather looks great, the wind is not too bad, let's go do this, I can say yes to it.

And then the other two things are exercising and cooking. So when I cook, I don't make unhealthy things. I go out to my garden, I grab fresh stuff and I come in and we have gorgeous vegetables that we're eating. And if I do that, I'm more likely to exercise, because those go together to me, in some very specific way. So if I exercise, I want to eat right, and if I eat right, I want to exercise more.

And I love doing it. So it's not like, it doesn't feel like a chore to me. It comes down to time and energy. And so if I let social media or projects that I don't have time for, all the things that I talked about suck that up, then I do this less. So if I kill those vampires and zombies, I get my health back and I have promised myself and promised my husband that we're going to live a long, healthy life together, because we love being together. And that's the only way it's going to happen, is if I free up time and energy to do it.

Ann S. Zachwieja: So for me, a lot of these things have to do with focus. And it's doing things one at a time, instead of like a squirrel, being pulled off in different directions, and then I'm thinking half about this and half about that. So by turning off those notifications or putting this phone upside down or whatever that is, being able to focus, which then means that I'm more productive, which means I can A, get more done and B, have that quality time to do other things.

So for me also, I love walking and I mean walking hard, walking fast, I love walking my dogs. My sister and I have a trainer that sometimes falls by the wayside. So the thing that goes is taking that hour or two to exercise and take care of myself, which I really, really love. And I always feel better when I do it.

Also, there's a sort of anxiety, beat myself up component. So the beat myself up component is, again, if I don't take a beat, think about how I want to respond to things and respond thoughtfully or ask questions or just give it a little bit of time before I feel the need to immediately respond. Then, I don't have to give it so much attention later about what I should have done. I wish I would've said that, I wish I would have done it this way, I didn't get my point across. I lost an opportunity.

And then with the constant, I'm kind of a Twitter fiend these days. Like I really love New York Times, I love Washington Post, I read those a lot and now I've kind of got into Twitter, because it's this whole other universe with other things. And of course, you kind of tend to pay attention to the people who think like you. Then, I get sucked into this quagmire of where we are in the world today.

And that's also anxiety, creating, I feel helpless sometimes, I'm angry. It's not a healthy place to be. A healthy place to be is focusing and then out exercising and enjoying outdoors, maybe I call up a good friend as I'm walking my dog, that sort of thing. So it gets back to that balance.

Deb Zahn: Yeah, that's great. I love that. All right, what about you? What do you get back?

Jan West: So mine have to do with being intentional about how I spend my time, which what I get for that, is more opportunities for creativity and renewal. So those could look a lot of different ways, the creativity, maybe I write more, maybe I play the piano more, maybe I walk along and think my creative thoughts more.

And the renewal kit for me usually turns into being outside. So that can be dog walking, or if I smush things together, I can run out to the ranch, or even for a night. So I get back things that actually feed me, instead of drain me.

Ann S. Zachwieja: Yeah. Yee-haw. Nourishment instead of junk food.

Deb Zahn: Absolutely.

Diana Green: That's what it's all about.

Deb Zahn: That's right. That's great. So let me ask one quick sort of a lightning round question, which is, what's the... actually, I'll ask two questions. What's the biggest obstacle that you would have to overcome to make that change and what's the biggest thing that would help you?

Jan West: Obstacle: some version of fear? Like I don't want to miss anything. Or, oh my gosh, what if I miss a contract? What if I... Like sort of this over attentive thing, that's actually fairly low quality. And there's a bit of, like with the commute, the more I give that up, the less time I have with people I actually like in that workplace, so there's going to be an actual loss there. And that's just how it is.

What would be the biggest help?

I think sometimes process like awareness, and then making an intentional decision. Okay, what's really going to help me next? Or what's really going to be the best use of this 20 minutes? So it's probably doing that slow down to speed up thing, where I slow down, and make an intentional decision to do that.

Deb Zahn: Right. Yeah. That's great. What about you?

Ann S. Zachwieja: My biggest obstacle I think is that I'm an information junkie. So I have all these ways that I can be bringing in information. It might be email, it might be New York Times, it might be Twitter, it might be, wherever that might be coming from, I'm just an information junkie. So I have a hard time saying no to information.

But I think that probably, the best help to that would be scheduling things out. There's a time for everything. Maybe first, I have a cup of coffee and that's when I read the newspaper. And I maybe look at Twitter for a little while or something. I'm not doing Twitter, it's not like Facebook, I'm looking for, say, political, economic, social information. So there's a time for that. And then I focus and I do one thing and I do it well, and I complete it. And then maybe I give myself a little break and I do something else.

And so I think it is sort of that discipline around, there's a time for everything. It doesn't mean you don't do it, it's just you pick your times and schedule it out. We've talked a lot about that, scheduling things out, blocking out time in your calendar for work things and life things. And so this is part of that too, is just this constant barrage of information from everywhere makes everything more crazy and hard to focus.

So I think for me, that's a really big one. And just slow down, calm down. Take a beat.

Jan West: I love to take a beat. I'm going to steal that. I like that.

Ann S. Zachwieja: It's not really mine. You won't be stealing it from me.

Deb Zahn: That's okay. So my biggest obstacle, the big one is always the one that always is, which is ego. Which is, and I'm thinking particularly of saying yes to things that it's really not the right choice to say yes to it, is to enjoy the compliment without having to crave more. The craving it, I think is part of the problem.

And then the indulgence is a big obstacle, like that's what the social media is. It's like, oh, I'll just take a little look. So it's indulging and it's lying to myself, which is, I'm just going to take a quick peek. There is no such thing that I've experienced as necessarily a quick peek. I know that about myself. So part of it is just honesty with myself. Those are the big obstacles.

Now, the biggest helps, so this is like taking a beat. So I used to be a women's self-defense instructor and one of the things that we taught were what we called space makers. And that was basically if someone is in your physical proximity, too close, there are certain maneuvers, both verbal and physical maneuvers that you can use to create space.

And I think the same thing works with this. So one of the space makers could be, if somebody asked me to do something, is don't say yes right away. I don't need to say yes the first time they reach out to me or talk to me. It's just to get into the habit of saying this sounds really interesting, let me look at my schedule and see if it's something I can do for you. And then I will give you a call in an hour, I will send you an email, something that just interrupts my desire to say yes quickly, and to sort of have space makers like that.

And then the other, I've read this, it's a no brainer. Don't have my phone by my bed. I won't eat junk food in the morning of social media if I don't have my phone, but there is no reason to have my phone by my bed. Except for that reason, like if my mom needs something, I'm going to hear the phone ring and she's two minutes away from us.

So yeah, just like be honest with myself. I have it besides the bed, because I want to, before I go to bed and when I wake up in the morning, to consume junk food. So there you go. That's mine. What about you?

Diana Green: Give me the question again exactly.

Deb Zahn: So the question is, what's the biggest obstacle to you making this change and what would be the biggest help?

Diana Green: Right, my biggest obstacle to the high maintenance client issue, as well as the meal prep issue, by the way, is disappointing people, letting them down and also not being liked. So it's a need to please people, even these high maintenance clients, that I would be better off without. I'm very aware of this issue.

I think the thing to make it better and help me get over that obstacle is to be really realistic about what the consequences are about putting down the boundaries. I have had some good experiences with that, for instance, a client who hit me up with a question that we had already been through, and I was very direct to go back through my emails and pull up the email where we had dealt with it before and send it to this person and say, this is where we've dealt with this before. And it was fine. They were apologetic.

In another case, I responded back and put down my boundary and said, this is outside of the proximity of what we do. I suggest you go do this. I didn't hear from them again and they didn't come back to renew. And I got to tell you, it was an absolute favor, because I was ready to be done with that client, and I didn't have to fire them. I only put down the boundary and it allowed them to turn around and go the other way.

It's not always going to work out in my favor, or maybe it will. I don't know, these are high maintenance clients and I am really realistic about the consequences, then every time I put down that boundary, I have to know the consequence is I may lose this client. And I'm putting down this boundary because I'm okay with losing this client because they're demanding too much.

Deb Zahn: Or they'll switch up and they will become a different client, which has also happened.

Diana Green: Yes. Right.

Deb Zahn: Well, you're going to have to before the podcast airs. The clients are going to listen and say, wait a minute.

Diana Green: Oh, my God she's talking about me.

Deb Zahn: Well, so let me ask you, as a last question, because I just thank everybody for doing this, but then we started talking and I had to hit rerecord. So what are you going to do with this information?

Jan West: I am going to put this by where I sit, my calendar on my desk, and look at it and particularly to focus on the creativity and renewal piece. Because that is a draw to me. And if I think about, what can I do to get more of that, I get excited. I get energy.

And so I'm like, that could be on the other side of these things. So it feels like it pulls me forward. Instead of, stop this, it feels like get this.

Deb Zahn: That's right. Because if you got an emotional payoff, doing what you were doing before, and now you've got a visual that shows you, oh, hot damn, that's the emotional payoff I actually want, then you've got something extra. That's wonderful.

Ann S. Zachwieja: Right. I would agree. The visual reminder taping it up by my desk or having it next to me, maybe I'll rewrite it and make it kind of pretty, maybe I'll use colored pencils around it. I'm not really sure but it does really help to literally have it written down.

I also at the beginning thought, I don't know, I've taken care of a lot of these things, I can write down what I have already done and then I start writing and go, oh, wait. I'm not as groovy as I thought I was. I think just having it there...

Deb Zahn: I'm going to need to put take a beat, in beautiful like calligraphy letters, pretty colors, might not get the tattoo yet, but I think I need to put it up by my computer to just... because that's a space maker, is taking a beat.

Ann S. Zachwieja: It is, make some space, take a beat.

Deb Zahn: That's right. Love it.

Ann S. Zachwieja: It's a big one.

Deb Zahn: So I'm actually going to put some things up, but also talk to my husband about it, who the benefit of being married to an actual behavior change expert, I know, right? Is to be able to ask for reminders and good, gentle reminders, like I'm not looking for the shame game. But he's very good at reminding me that all choices are relative choices, that when you're saying yes to something, you're saying no to something else.

And I want to talk to them about what I really want to do, because he's next to me in bed. So if I start to pick up the phone, or I plug the phone in at night, I want a gentle reminder of, do you want to eat junk food in the morning? And just ask me to make some of those choices. But then to get that support and doing it.

Ann S. Zachwieja: You can get a tattoo.

Jan West: On your forehead?

Diana Green: Yes. Definitely. I'm going to implement firm policies, which I will declare right now. I'm not going to check my email after 6:00 p.m. Done. So the phone, I can look at text messages coming in, I can make phone calls, but no email after 6:00 p.m. Done.

And as I look at my client list and renewing all my clients each year, which I do for the start of each tax season, I'm going to look at those clients that are higher maintenance clients, and I'm going to renegotiate those rates, because those clients are taking a lot more of my time. And by renegotiating that rate, that allows me to come to a crossroad with that client right now, where they recognize they are requiring more. And that's either worth their money, worth that higher rate that I'm establishing or not.

Likewise, on the backside, when I get that call from that client, I can remind myself, hey, look, I negotiated a higher rate, and I can justify taking this time out and putting this on my calendar.

Deb Zahn: Yeah. The other thing that occurred to me, just as we were talking, so I have a new virtual assistant who is fantastic. And in our first call where we were discussing whether or not we were going to work together, she told me what those boundaries are. She's got a family. She does not work on weekends. She does not read emails after this time. Before I did anything, she didn't ever have to correct me. Because she told me at the beginning, these are, just so you know, before you say yes to me, these are the ways in which I operate.

If you're comfortable with that, then everything else seems great and we're a fit. If you're not comfortable with that, we're probably not a fit. I was so impressed by the fact that she was smart enough to say all of that upfront, and she probably is because she's had to correct so many folks.

But it was a lesson for me in establishing boundaries at the beginning and just even verbally saying, I just want to give you a heads up.

Diana Green: You did a podcast that I listened to that was, it was the one about establishing boundaries with your clients. I thought about that a lot and I think it applies to pretty much everybody here, in that there's a price for everything. We've talked about a lot today with, I will white label that, and here's the price for it. Because there is a price where it's worth it to you.

Deb Zahn: That's right.

Diana Green: And so to think about what is the price that it's worth to do that for me? And I clearly understand that, so you can say it and you can accept if they say, no, I'm not going to do that, and then you've made a choice. You are clear what's it worth you and it's up to them whether it's worth it to them or not.

Deb Zahn: But what's interesting about that strategy is then that actually enables you, if you're getting a higher price for something, it enables you to say no to something else. So you can actually free up time and energy somewhere else. Because I've said yes to this, I'm getting a premium price. They're delighted to pay it, because they're getting value. And now, I'm going to say no to another gig.

Diana Green: Or, you have enough resources to pay somebody else to do that for you. Because maybe that's part of the price you factored in, is I'm going to need somebody else to do that for me. What will it take for me to pay them to do it?

Deb Zahn: Love it.

Diana Green: And maybe have a little markup.

Deb Zahn: Love it. Love, love, love it. So does anybody have any final words of wisdom that our listeners can take and enjoy as they figure this out for themselves?

Ann S. Zachwieja: I think for, again, several of us said this, your first impression might be I've handled a lot of that. And then just sit with it for a minute, and see if maybe there is something else that you could still be doing.

Diana Green: I think there's layers of zombies and vampires. Like I bet all of us in this room have had some like giant-sized ones that we've had to slay previously, which can cause us to think, I've got this under control. I've got only unicorns and fairies. So yes, I think when you stop and realize, just because you slayed some big ones doesn't mean there's not some little ones lurking around. Or, some bigger ones even kind of in the shadows that you're just not giving attention to.

Deb Zahn: There could be a chihuahua vampire.

Ann S. Zachwieja: They can be vicious.

Deb Zahn: Nipping at your heels, the vicious little ones.

Ann S. Zachwieja: Those are the worst ones, by the way.

Deb Zahn: All right. Well, thank you again, everybody. This has been absolutely fabulous.

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 you've enjoyed any of my other ones, hit subscribe. I got a lot of other great guests that are coming up in a lot of other great content. I don't want you to miss anything.

But the other two things 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.

bottom of page