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How’s That For Timing?

Stuart Armstrong, the CEO of a digital marketing company in New York City, posted a video on YouTube. Not a promotional message, though. Apparently Stu, a successful executive, always contemplated life as a stand-up comic. Evidence being his seven-minute debut at the Gotham Comedy Club, captured for posterity online.

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Striding the stage, Stu intones that his stand-up routine was the culmination of a comedy class in which he learned the importance of timing. “Timing,” he repeats. Then he pauses, looks at the crowd and admits “I’m 58 years-old and this is the first time I’ve tried stand-up. How’s that for f*ng timing?” The crowd roars.

Why? Partly because it’s a well-crafted line, delivered with precision. And partly because Stu is up there on stage leading by example.

We all know that the biggest barrier impeding our pursuit of happiness, joy and success is ourselves. Simply casting off our mental shackles and taking a few bold leaps could transform our consulting practices. Or our lives.

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The fact is it’s never too late. No matter where you are in your day, your year, your career or your life, you can embark on a courageous mission or tackle an audacious task. Not every leap has to look like Evel Kneivel’s attempt at the Grand Canyon. For some folks on some days simply picking up the phone to call a prospect is a business-altering accomplishment.

What bold leaps can you take on? Below are a few thought starters for your consulting business:

  • Get into consulting full time
  • Renew relationships with a prospect who’s fallen out of touch
  • Adopt a ritual that will enhance your clients’ experience on every project
  • Get help with a business-building best practice that you’ve read about but struggled to implement (e.g., asking for referrals)
  • Make one more (or your first) phone call today, this week, this month, or this year
  • Change your pricing model to use higher-margin structures
  • Invest in one-on-one mentoring
  • Learn (or vastly improve) a critical skill such as speaking or writing
  • Take a bold, controversial, public stand on an issue in your industry
  • Capture your knowledge in a diagnostic that will inform others (and attract prospects)
  • Improve and test your “Fishing Line”

Here’s one more for you: Post a comment on a blog. This blog. Briefly describe a leap you made—whether it appears bold in retrospect or not—that had a meaningful impact on your business. Reading about your experience could be exactly what another consultant needs to jumpstart his practice, so take a minute and post your thoughts now. (Alternatively, post a bold leap you commit to taking soon, and tell me why.)


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9 Comments
  1. Chevine Anderson
    December 17, 2014 at 8:47 am Reply

    Your post is very true. I began writing to have articles to fill my press kit to pass to selected leads but began venturing into publishing then in multiple places to increase my credibility.

    I also decided to start public speaking in what I wrote about and I was obviously nervous when I read my first speech but everyone still enjoyed and applauded me. I have new contacts who want to learn more of my thoughts and methods for accomplishing what I wrote and experienced. Take care David.

    • davidafields
      December 17, 2014 at 9:17 am Reply

      Great examples, Chevine. Submitting your writing for publication and then taking your views into onto a public platform are huge steps forward for any consultant. You pushed through any fear of rejection and have the rewards now for your courage. Thanks for posting!

  2. Karen
    December 17, 2014 at 10:39 am Reply

    I appreciate the overall message of the article: it’s never too late to move towards a better future and try something new to get better results. There is always something we can do to improve our business situation. It’s a good reminder to stay positive and hopeful so we can be motivated to make new efforts and not give up.

  3. Nils Davis
    December 17, 2014 at 1:04 pm Reply

    Just today I am trying to recover an engagement that I haven’t executed on as well as I’d like. I just need to keep working it, and making it happen. I think I made good progress today, and even though it’s later than I’d like, I think the engagement will end up successful for the client because of the work I’m doing today.

    • davidafields
      December 17, 2014 at 2:12 pm Reply

      Nils, first of all kudos to you for recognizing and admitting when an assignment has gone sideways because of your own execution. We all have underperformed at one time or another. What’s most important is that you’ve recognized it and, rather than being resigned to a poor outcome, you’ve stepped up to the plate and taken on the hard work of turning the project around. That’s a terrific example. Thanks for posting.

  4. Bill Crews
    December 18, 2014 at 12:21 pm Reply

    One of the tried and true methods to get you “name” out there is by writing, articles in a magazine, a book, blog posts and then thee is LinkedIn’s groups. For the longest time I felt lie I really didn’t have anything to “say”. So in some of my first attempts I sought out group members asking for advice. BANG!! Consulting!!!!

    I am a big believer in conducting projects for clients that are needs based. If your not meeting your clients needs what the heck are you doing? Too often I see posts in the groups I monitor that go like this, “Can anyone tell me the best widget I can use to help my client to this …….”. I try to stress to the questioner, what is the clients expectation of the problem you are trying to solve? What I hope to spark is to “think” about what your doing. Don’t just open a box, bolt something to the wall and say “I’m done.”

    The end result for me in these postings is people looking at my LinkedIn profile, then connecting with me, and further conversation about possible engagement. Win, win, win.

    • davidafields
      December 18, 2014 at 12:37 pm Reply

      Bill, it sounds like the bold leap you’ve taken is getting out there in the world and asking for advice. That’s a terrific lesson. So many consultants feel like they have to know the answer to every question and the solution to every problem. Giving others the opportunity to help you is often a great way to create value on both sides. Thanks for posting!

  5. Jaime Campbell, CPA, MBA
    December 18, 2014 at 9:39 pm Reply

    Today I asked the owner of a bookkeeping practice if I could offer her client base a free, valuable service. She agreed in principle and now we’re working on what accounting or business intelligence service makes sense to offer in this context. Perhaps a “Cash Finder” service or a custom executive dashboard.

    • davidafields
      December 19, 2014 at 11:37 am Reply

      Excellent, Jaime. I’ve seen your work as you have grown your consulting/advisory practice and you are a great example of someone who takes bold leaps. Thanks for posting!

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