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103 Year-Old’s Message for Consultants Like You

I hope to be old. Someday.

Old enough that no one at any age could look at me and call me a whippersnapper. Nobody calls me a whippersnapper now, but they could.

When I finally reach those platinum years, what will I know that I wish I had known back when I was running my consulting firm? Fortunately, I’m able to get a glimpse at the answer to that question. Watch the video below.

Barney was right. Equanimity is important. Especially in independent consulting, where the swings in fortune can feel extreme.

What’s the biggest threat to our equanimity? I don’t think it’s the occasional project you don’t win, or negative feedback or even a prolonged dip in revenues. The biggest threat to your equanimity is the feeling of being lost. Of not knowing why you’re not winning more projects and how to consistently bring in more clients.

Being lost can feel extremely frustrating, and scary. When it’s not clear how to generate a consistent, predictable income for yourself and your family, the financial stress and overall anxiety can be overwhelming.


How do you remain equanimous when you’re lost? How do you react? The three common reactions are:

  1. Ignore the situation. Forge ahead in whatever direction you’re already pointed. It feels a lot like persistence and perseverance. It can also lead you deeper into the financial quagmire.
  2. Flail. Head in whatever direction appears best at the moment. You get the reassurance that you’re being responsive and taking action. Even if you’re spinning in circles.
  3. Ask for directions. Solicit help from someone who’s been where you are, has made it to the future you envision and sees the whole picture.

Barney was always willing to help others. In that way he was a lot like each of us. Imagine a 103 year-old man, moving other residents’ walkers within easy reach and helping others out of their chairs. Gotta love that.

But where Barney really stood out was his willingness to ask for help. In almost 20 years of volunteer work with the elderly, no one asked me as many questions as Barney. He was never shy about requesting clarification and direction.

When he needed something or wasn’t satisfied—whether it concerned his meals, his failing vision, or his family—he didn’t internalize the problem or flail. He found someone who could assist him.

The lesson from a 103 year-old to make our businesses stronger is simple: Ask for help.

Who’s asked you for help? Please share your thoughts in the comments selection below.


  1. Robert Keteyian
    August 3, 2016 at 8:23 am Reply

    For several years, I had the only counseling practice in a small town. Gradually, others began hanging out their shingles and asking for my help in getting established. Although, I had a little voice expressing fear that these new competitors would take business from me, the opposite happened. I found it very gratifying to help others get established, shared resources, referred potential clients to them, etc. They, in turn, continued seeking my help and guidance, and referred more people to me for the next 25 years.

    • David A. Fields
      August 3, 2016 at 8:32 am Reply

      Bob, you’ve surfaced an incredibly important lesson that many consultants struggle to learn: “competitors” are good for business. Good for you for being open to others’ input and for taking the time to help others succeed. I have no doubt you and your small town are better off thanks to your outlook.

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