I’m very used to things going my way.  After all, clients hire me to solve the problems they don’t want to talk about.  My, our, job is to ferret through the excuses and find the real problem, offering up solutions in a way that makes the client think they stumbled upon it on their own.  We are agents of change.  But, what if a mistake is made?

What is the proper way to handle personal error.  Not an error of a team member, or the client.  The mistake is personal and it truly belongs to me.  A man I very much admire, said, “Bad news doesn’t get better with time.”

I saw it coming, raised concern that fell on deaf ears.  I changed the path, cleared many hurdles and saw no improvement.  Extra help arrived, scope was changed to improve the outcome, but the end was already written, so I smiled and continued as if everything was good.

Of course the deadline was compromised and I could only look at myself as the cause.  Man, did that hurt.  I own it.  There’s no deflection or spin that will change the truth.

I’m a professional, so I accept adversity with a smile and dive into the remedy.  New deadline, second chance, go overboard with communication, white board full of notes and progress goals, issues, assignments.  Regular meetings, and sequestered resources.  Everything is done like clockwork and the success feels good.

Hey, what’s that burn spot on my butt!!  You know darn well that even though things turned out, I took a hit with my peers.  Internally, my ego, my esteem are suffering.  Is my reputation still intact?  Do I really know what it takes to lead my clients forward?  Have I reached the point in my career where the ‘Peter Principle’ has taken hold?  There’s a fear inside that hasn’t been there since my first days in consulting.  I’ll wear this for a while, until a few more successes reassure it as unusual occurrence.

Adversity is a chance to grow.  Adversity is an opportunity to deeply review yourself.  Include those you trust most, and LISTEN (you can’t do an proper evaluation without outside help).  Don’t pass on responsibility to those who don’t deserve it.  Pick up your cross and learn the lessons adversity provides.  And don’t forget to keep smiling because one event doesn’t define who you are.

Sometimes you’re first
Sometimes you’re last
Then again you’re somewhere
In your “days of future passed”
If you can find yourself and know just where you are
Don’t let the wind turn you
You’re stronger than you think you are

Going Live

All the work, all the effort, all the workshops, configuring, testing, revising, re-configuring, customization, and now the client wants to panic because there are several more things that were forgotten in the process.  Sound familiar?

Every client does it.  This should be nothing new at all, yet every time it seems so unique and different.  The system isn’t the same as it used to be and there are always several important people who haven’t been involved in the process that now want to change everything.

“What if”, becomes the mantra.  Fingers and attitudes become pointed.  Suddenly, your ability is questioned because of the little things that pop up.  This is where your coolness and true leadership should come out.

  Address the clients concerns.  Document and address issues.  Work through contingency plans.  But, at every chance, reiterate that this has been a team effort and all the work is about to pay off.  The big picture is finished and beautiful, but some color changes are being made to the detail.  Sure, there’s this part that works funny, but look at these other improvements we’ve made!  Always throw in one or two positive remarks, at every opportunity.

Their jobs could be riding on this project.  Your reputation and referrals are certainly part of the equation.  There’s plenty to be concerned with.  But look at all that’s been put in through the process.  How many problems have already been worked through and redesigned.  They have shared the inner working of their company.  You have given them as much of your expertise as you can.

There’s so much that has been done that people want to forget in the light of last minute frustrations.  Be the friend, the cheer-leader, the calm in the storm.  Stay heads down and focused on the issues, yet smiling and confident of the result.  Seek opportunities to transfer more knowledge and work through new processes again and again with the client.  Build their confidence by reminding then of the new tricks they’ve inherited.

“Face piles of trials with smiles.”


At the end of every project comes the time that every independent learns to cope with – Roll-off.  It’s an end.  It’s a beginning.  It’s a process that is not nearly as comfortable as working with a client.  Here we work with our network, haggle with recruiters and clients, review our financials and try to make adjustments as needed.  It’s time to reassess our priorities, seek out training, make plans for the future, and breathe a little.  We also interview, interview and interview.

There are 3 stages to Rolling off that must be managed.  While they don’t always have definite beginnings and ends, and they transition in a very fuzzy way, each phase can be planned to ensure completion.

Stage One – Winding Down

The end of a project is not always easy to predict.  There’s normally a go-live date and maintenance after the fact, that you’ve built into your contract.  But then, there’s always extensions and possibly some additional sold work.  I always try to get a 2 month lead on what’s coming next.

When you know your date – it’s time to decide how quickly you want to start-up again.  Plan carefully!  You know that recruiters always have emergencies, or immediate needs.  So, just as you know your date for leaving, set a date for starting.  This creates an orderly transition and allows you to do more planning.

Now you can start working with the recruiters and your network to match your skills and timing with a number of projects coming down the path.  Don’t wait to get started as immediate need will limit choices and cost you money.

Make sure you get some referrals or testimonials from your client.  These become gold in interviews if you have them.  They also look really good on your web site, if you can save them out there in a generic fashion.

Close your project out completely.  Give the client the time they need and deserve, but don’t be afraid to work in job searching and phone interviews, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the clients needs.  You are running your business, while taking care of theirs.

Stage Two – Down Time

Remember the family?  They’ve put up with a lot of time away and they’ll be doing it again soon, so lavish them with your time and attention.  This is what life is all about.  If you’ve planned a vacation, there’s no better time to unwind.  Without work hanging over your head, your return will be about starting a new client, or continuing on your client search.

Down Time is where I package up all my work and make my business look a little more solid.  It’s time for bookkeeping, goal setting, branding of my documentation, updating my résumé and finding some training or seminars to attend.  This is also where I reconnect with my network.  Emails, notes, cards, phone calls, lunches, and dinners all serve to refresh contacts.

So how’d you do with your last project?  Take some time to evaluate your own performance.  Did you make the money you wanted?  Did you learn enough new things that you can change your role in the future?  Meet with your mentors or some friends and talk to them about your performance.  You could learn even more.

Stage Three – Begin Again

It’s a new day!  No matter what was done in the past, good, bad, or indifferent, your slate is again clean and its time again to take on more knowledge and share it with your new client.

Chances are, you still have some recruiters calling with offers, or some old clients that are trying to call you back.  Wind these down with as much candor as possible.  Let them know how long your new engagement is on the books for and that you will contact them again when your close to rolling off.  NEVER burn bridges!!  The forgotten phone call will come back to haunt you at some inopportune moment.  Carefully close each door.  You may have some opportunities here to help out some of your friends with unfilled jobs.

Just as a project has a process, the in-between’s do too.  Plan your work and work your plan.  the transition can be as long or as short as you want it to be.  There’s more work out there than you can ever accomplish and if you’re seriously looking, you’ll find what you’re looking for.


Keep on keeping on!

Spinning Wheels

I’m frustrated!  How about you?  Adsense is activated, but I can’t make it work on the pages.  Google Analytics is now part of the web site, but I’m confused on what it’s tracking, because nothing seems to be showing up.  Emails have been coming in saying that subscriptions are being made to the site (thank you all very much!!), but the statistics say no one has visited.  And worse yet, I want to respond to everyone making these subscriptions to say how much it. s appreciated, but I have no clue how.

My day job is a full 12 hours, so I’m burning the midnight oil to figure things out.  But many nights, I just fall asleep.  Each morning I look at what I’ve done by viewing the site on my phone and I see misspellings, and incomplete thoughts.  Is this really what I want to do?

Then somewher in the middle of the day, coming out of another meeting I realized how special it is to have something building that will give me control, let me call the shots, give me the options that just don’t currently exist.  When you first contributed to your 401k or IRA account, it seems like such a small sum and yet over time it grows and grows.  That’s our businesses!!  Every little step forward and backward is compounding for us into the future.  Without the effort, we’ll be just like the people without hope we see all around us.  Every success we make, energizes us and others as they see a brighter future is possible.

When you talk about your business with your friends, colleagues, loved ones, many will tell you it can’t be done, till you start making little successes.  Then they’ll get excited and remind you how much they care.  That’s not meant in a negative way, but in a motivational way.  It is the success of those around use that motivates us to go beyond what we thought we could do.  We owe it to our friends and loved ones to let them know they can be anything they want.  And we prove that every day, by blazing a new path for them to follow.

You, my friends motivate me.  I pray I can do as much for you.

Trusted Advisors

Proverbs 15:22 tells us “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”

If you are even remotely like me, you’ve done everything by yourself for your whole life and your private enough that others are very seldom involved in your decision making.  What if they steal your idea?  What if they think less of you because your not all that smart?  What if your heading down the wrong course and they have to correct you?

Do you hear the sub-tones of self doubt and echoes of self-esteem questions?

Business is about solutions.  No business is going to succeed unless you help somebody or solve some type of problem.  Look at your business plan.  It began with a view of helping clients/customers by using some unique method.  Did that idea come out of the blue, or was there a process behind the discovery.  Perhaps all your experiences add up to the solution or it came from someone saying something influential.  Either way – it didn’t drop out of the sky the way we had hoped ideas would appear.

That brings me back to advisers – who are they and why do we need them?

The first and most important advisor is yourself.  I know that may be contradictory to what you expected, but there’s a good reason for that.  We all have a lot of internal talk going on that guides us through each day.  It’s our conscious.  Whether you believe that God put it there or that it is our ordered neurons firing out thoughts, its there guiding us on right and wrong, good and bad, fight or flight, act or ignore.  You’ve heard the saying that ‘your first thought is normally right’ and there’s a reason for it.  Our mind knows instinctively what is best for us. We need to listen!!

And that the second thing about advisors;  we need to listen!!  As we find trusted people to reach out to, we have to step back from the boss role for a while to listen to other experiences and views.  There is nothing as powerful as the same situation viewed from a different perspective.  What I’m learning about advisors is that they never (literally) see things the same way I do.  They may agree with my choices, but they never see it in the same light.  The right answer is still the right answer no matter what direction you come from to get there.

Where do advisors come from?  I had plenty when I was young and I made new friends all the time.  Some led me in wrong directions, most helped me move forward.  Now, as I start something entirely new in my life,  I don’t have the network that was there in the past.  My new direction is a path not tread by my old buddies.  They want to help but they don’t have the experience I need.  So they put me in touch with new people or I find myself reaching out in a strange world for people I don’t even know.

Where are you at with your advisors – are you seeking?  Are you building trust?  Are you listening, evaluating and enacting?