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Collecting From Friend

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This wasn't really a bad debt, but it was a finesse colletion. It's tricky working for friends. You like them so much it's hard to ask them for money. Dianne has been a career client for many years. I've helped her achieve ever-higher career moves so that now she is a senior vice president for a global financial services company based in Europe. In the last year, she's sent me a dozen postcards documenting her European travels. This is a longstanding friendship.

Dianne approached me to prepare her daughter, Valerie, for a critical interview. I spent 2.5 hours in three separate phone calls briefing Valerie. I didn't want to invoice Dianne at all, but quite frankly, we needed the fee. Three e-mails follow: Dianne's telling me to bill her. My e-mail explaining my billing rationale, and Dianne's e-mail asking for the routing numbers to my bank.

Bill, This is my expense. I've got you covered.  Take as much time as is necessary to put her in the most advantageous position that you can.  Much appreciated, Dianne.

Thank you so much for these wonderful cards from Zurich, Spain, and Helsinki. They mean a lot to me. I treasure them and keep them close. It's a delight sharing your world travels, because I doubt I'll follow in your footsteps any time soon. As you know, your friendship means the world to me.


Here is an invoice for my work with Valerie. I hate to charge you anything, and would gladly do it for nothing, except that I have a business to run, and consulting depends on billable hours. I've discounted my current rate by 33%, and hope this seems fair to you. I had great sessions with Valerie, and like mother, like daughter, she's a wonderful person. She told me she thought the interview day went well, and we're on to step two.

Let me know if this fee is in line with what you were expecting to pay, and if not, we'll come to agreement. As I said, I hate to charge you anything at all.

I have a U.S. account and what works best for me is to wire payment directly into your CareerLab account.  Can you provide me with wiring instructions?  If so, the funds will be wired to your account immediately thereafter.

Thanks again for your prompt assistance with Valerie.  She is in need of a change, and this opportunity would be perfect for her, so fingers are crossed.

Also, I just dropped a small gift in the mail for you, probably will get there in a week or so.  I think you'll enjoy,


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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.