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Consulting Isn't Eating What You Kill

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Brad Bawmann, The Bawmann Group Brad Bawmann is the founder and President of The Bawmann Group, Colorado's 14th largest public relations firm, according to the Denver Business Journal.

I met Brad in the early years of his career, coached him some, and we've been close friends and trusted advisors to each other ever since. Many years ago, Brad spoke to CareerLab's executive career management group, and his topic was "Consulting Means You Eat What You Kill." With 10 more years of hyper-success and fast growth under his belt, he has revised his perspective. Here's how he sees things now.

I was wrong. Consulting isn’t eating what you kill.

Ten years ago I penned a piece for my friend and mentor, Bill Frank, career coach master, which traveled the world via the Internet. I wrote: consulting would mean taking what you get, scraping by, eating what you killed. “Some days we eat pigeon. Some days we eat chicken. Some days it’s mac-n-cheese. Occasionally, we enjoy filet,” I opined.

But not long after I started my communications practice, I decided I’d rather starve than eat bad food or suffer bad accounts. I had a change of heart. It just took me nine years to set the record straight.

Don’t get me wrong, we’ve made mistakes and still, rarely, do. Client selection — like selecting a consultant — can be tricky. And there are a few dishonest suits who try and steal our ideas and time.

But there is no trick in bringing absolute integrity to work. There is no magic in being true to oneself. There is no illusion in being honest about one’s passion for a particular product or service. Or lack thereof.

There is only courage to say no to bad projects and difficult people who expect the world to embrace their inferior products and overlook their bad attitudes.

I have been lucky to remain true to my vision of doing great work for great people. In the end, the courage to be conscious about my choices has made our firm successful.

Today, our team of more than 14 professionals remains focused on helping great companies grow their influence the world over. All we ask in return is the favor of their candor when things might not be going so well, when they have questions or when they’re concerned about the voodoo we do.

Ironically, turning down work and firing bad clients hasn’t resulted in my family living under a viaduct. Quite the opposite, in fact. The pickier we are about who we represent, the more we thrive.

    Say no; make more.
    Suffer less; relish life.
    Limit our partners; grow our practice.
From humble basement beginnings, we’ve become one of Denver’s fastest growing integrated marketing communications firms. Still, a million dollars in annual revenues is not something I take lightly.  

Everyday, I learn a lot about the business world. I’m constantly rediscovering my own values of treating people fairly, of working hard, of giving my best each and every day, and, finally, of letting go of my own exaggerated expectations. Because, at the end of the day, I really only control what I hunt and what I eat.

Let it be the filet of honesty and integrity.

Copyright 2008 The Bawmann Group | www.morethanpr.com

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William S. Frank, M.A.,
25 Reasons I love consulting.
by William S. Frank
  1. Brand. You are your own brand, and you can define it any way you want. For many years, I provided outplacement to the ex-employees of Schlumberger, the world's largest oilfield service corporation. When departing employees left the company, they didn't request outplacement in their severance package. They said, "I want Bill Frank."
  2. Demand. The world will always be full of terrible problems that need solving.
  3. White Hat. I can be a helper and get paid for it.
  4. Pay. I can be paid to do things I'd gladly do for nothing.
  5. Variety. Every day is different.
  6. Happiness. At this stage of my career, I only work for people I respect and care about. If a client micromanages me or is otherwise no fun, I complete the assignment and replace them.
  7. Talent. I'm using 110% of my talents and stretching myself to the max.
  8. Change. I can change my focus any day I want. If you're a McDonald's franchisee, you don't say, "Hey, I've got this great idea for a meatball sandwich—let's try it out today." In consulting you can adjust your focus hour-by-hour, as long as your clients still understand and appreciate what you do.
  9. Income. No one else would pay me as much as I pay myself.
  10. FUN. I can't think of anything I'd rather be doing.
  11. Retirement. I can write and consult as long as I am physically and mentally capable. Peter Drucker worked into his 90s, and when asked which book was his best, he said: "My next one."
  12. Job Security. Although clients come and go, no one can come into my office and say, "Pack up your stuff . . . You don't work here anymore." In 29 years, I've only had one employer: ME.
  13. Travel. I don't have to travel unless I decide to. I travel if it's both FUN and profitable—or at least FUN.
  14. Commute. I live five minutes from my office, a corner office in an upscale six-story tower. In winter, I leave a heated garage at home and drive to an underground heated garage at work. There's seldom time to hear even one song on the radio.
  15. Vacation. Consulting is more fun than vacation (except on Wailea Beach in Maui).
  16. Friends. I have developed hundreds of close acquaintances and several lifetime friends.
  17. Time. I can work as much or as little as I like: four-hour days or 18-hour days. (Of course, my income will reflect that.)
  18. Employees. I can work with employees, subcontractors, partners, or alone—I've done it all.
  19. Passive Income. I've developed several products that provide "mailbox money." I earn while I'm sleeping.
  20. Ethics. I've never had to violate my values or personal code of ethics. I've never had to lie, purposely deceive or harm others, or promise things I can't deliver. I go to bed with a clear conscience. That doesn't mean there's never any conflict. But the conflict is conducted according to generally accepted business practices.
  21. Virtual. My career is fairly portable. With the Internet, e-mail, cell phone, and FedEx, I can work nationally, even internationally from my office—or anywhere in the world.
  22. Purpose. I make a difference in peoples' lives every day. I see it in their faces, hear it in their voices, and read it in their thank-yous.
  23. Experience. Every painful or joyful life experience makes me a better consultant. So does every person I meet or book I read. Grey hair can be good in consulting.
  24. Structure. I have to work very hard, and the clients expect superb results—but I get to structure my days, weeks, months, and years.
  25. Boss. Most of the time, I love my boss.
As I was posting these letters online, I realized I want to communicate my love for consulting. It's just a great business. The single letters, taken together, may create a picture of enjoyment, but in a burst of creativity I listed some of the reasons consulting is such a good fit for me—and perhaps for you, too. They are not prioritized; this is just how they came out.