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New Heights for Your Consulting Firm Available at the Dimfort Diner!

A consulting fable to help you achieve your greatest aspirations for your consulting firm…

Thad, the founder of Thadaway Consulting, felt a nagging dissatisfaction. While his firm had grown reasonably well over the past few years and delivered a comfortable income, Thad knew he hadn’t led his firm to the same level of success enjoyed by other consulting firms offering similar services.

Many an evening, he shared his discontent with peers over chocolate martinis at the Consultants Corner Bar. Other patrons frequently shared advice and tips but, Thad noticed, none of the other consulting firm leaders appeared to be achieving notable success either.

One fateful Tuesday, though, an elegant stranger ventured into the bar and, upon hearing Thad’s well-worn tale, suggested, “You need to visit the Dimfort Diner. The happiest, most successful consulting firm leaders all dine there. Corner of 4th and Grit Street.”

Intrigued, Thad wandered toward the diner. Even from a distance, Thad could see a partly burnt-out neon sign blazing Dimfort Diner and a surprisingly large crowd milling around the entrance.

As he approached, he noticed very few souls actually ventured into the diner and, oddly, many of those who entered quickly dashed back out, faces pale as if they’d seen a ghost.

Feeling slightly disheartened, and not spotting any top-tier consulting firm leaders in the throng, Thad wandered around the side of the building. That’s when he stumbled upon a side door, discreetly marked “Exit Only.”

Almost immediately, one of the most successful consulting firm owners in town emerged, joking convivially with a companion.

Approaching the couple, Thad introduced himself and inquired, “Can you tell me about this Dimfort Diner and why you eat here?”

The consultant laughed then offered. “Yes. I eat here quite often. In fact, it’s the entire reason my consulting firm has done so well over the years. If you finish your meal, you’re allowed to exit the side door and your firm grows. If you don’t finish, you’re escorted out the front door and you’re back where you started.

“Oh, and we call it Dimfort Diner,” the consultant continued, “but look closer because some of the neon sign isn’t working.

“It actually says Discomfort Diner.

The very next evening, Thad bravely bustled through the door of Dimfort Diner and was handed a menu seemingly custom-prepared for him. The choices featured Rejection Risotto, Payroll Pot Pie, and Networking Noodles amongst other unappetizing fare.

Looking around, he saw patrons struggling with their dishes, grimacing at every bite. Many looked overwhelmed, and quite a few who appeared to have stopped eating completely, were escorted to the front door.

Thad also noticed the helpful consulting firm leader from the previous evening determinedly working through an unsavory entrée. Thad shuffled over to the other consultant’s booth, then asked if he could join and, perhaps, receive some tips.

“Sure,” the friendly consultant smiled, “This is always easier with company. Usually my coach suggests the right entrée and helps me through the meal.”

As Thad seated himself, the consultant munched another bite of Cashflow Crumble, then counseled, “To make it through the meal and out the side door, you need three things:

“First, you have to harbor a strong ‘Why’ compelling you to reach the side exit.

“My Why is that I want to leave a legacy and start leisure traveling around the world before I’m 55. What’s your Why?

“Second, you need a plan.

“My plan includes small meals here almost every evening, eating the same dish until it’s no longer on the menu. Then I move onto a new dish. Other plans work too, of course.

“And third, you need some mechanisms to ensure you’re in action, measure your progress and hold you accountable.

“I have this bite counter, which I fill out every meal and send to my coach. If I go a couple of days without filling it out, or my bite count isn’t progressing, my coach calls and gets me on track.

“Those people milling around outside don’t have a strong enough Why,” the consultant continued, “and the customers who leave quickly or get stuck don’t have a plan or an accountability mechanism.”

Thad realized he wasn’t ready to tuck into a meal yet, and excused himself. However, he returned the next week, fully prepared.

Over the following months and years, Thad polished off quite a few dishes at the Dimfort Diner. He often exited the side door and basked in the satisfaction and rewards of leading Thadaway Consulting to heights that quickly surpassed his early ambitions.

For your consulting firm to make more progress, you’ll need to visit “Dimfort Diner” too.

What are you uncomfortable with? What dishes, if you consume them, will unlock growth for you and your consulting firm?

  1. Greg MacDonald
    September 20, 2023 at 7:14 am Reply

    Love this story, and especially: “eat the same dish until it’s no longer on the menu”

    • David A. Fields
      September 20, 2023 at 8:22 am Reply

      Yes, Greg, can you imagine piling your table with dish upon dish of discomfort? You’d leave the table feeling ill and without any progress made.

      I appreciate your feedback, Greg, and your highlighting the importance of working through discomfort area by area.

  2. William J. Ryan
    September 20, 2023 at 7:46 am Reply

    Probably one of your most creative posts yet David, had me a Dimfort Diner! Highlights the process of pain I think most of us go thru in terms of finding the right clients, projects, work to sustain and allow us to grow. My current dish of discomfort is the Nuance of Network with a side of partnership pie. I know it works yet this summer the chef must have changed, or my taste buds have been off. It might have been the sizzling system of speaking that filled me up but still left me hungry, hard to say. I am confident my why of wonder will lead me back to the side door soon and know, if you don’t mind, please pass the pepper of people – thanks!

    • David A. Fields
      September 20, 2023 at 8:26 am Reply

      Double bonus points for the on-theme comment, Bill! You’ve brought an important point to the table: sometimes you go in with a plan to face your dish of discomfort only to find that the meal is quite different from what you anticipated. Yet another reason it helps to not enter the diner alone.

      Thank you for your clever contribution, Bill.

  3. Aaron
    September 20, 2023 at 8:47 am Reply

    This is great. You should consider a follow-up post and say more about the Menu — what, in your experience, are the courses that taste nasty (liver!) but are rich in protein and nutrients? Which courses are tasty, but are empty calories (bread)? Etc.

    • David A. Fields
      September 20, 2023 at 10:45 am Reply

      Great idea, Aaron. Of course, every firm leader’s discomfort is different. For instance, many firm leaders are extremely uncomfortable with outreach to contacts; however, yesterday, one of our clients reacted to a plan we gave them by saying, “I get to talk to more people? That’s awesome! I can’t wait.”

      So, there are common menu items and also menu items that are very particular to the individual and to the stage of growth the consulting firm is in.

      I love the idea, Aaron–thank you for suggesting it.

      • Praveen Puri
        September 26, 2023 at 7:47 pm Reply

        I guess they don’t serve chocolate 😕

        • David A. Fields
          September 26, 2023 at 8:40 pm

          Don’t fret, Praveen. As I mentioned to Peter Korytko, frequent diners know that on the way out the side exit they’re handed a beautifully-wrapped chocolate morsel called “Sweet Satisfaction.”

          Good job pushing for the chocolate!

  4. Gabrielle
    September 20, 2023 at 11:55 am Reply

    Bravo, David! This is the best teaching fable I think I’ve read ever! I usually hate them because the storyline is not well written, which distracts me from the teaching points. Yours was excellent and flowed well. I love the point of, what I call, “Doing Hard Things” to get our business where it needs to go to hit our “Why”, one distasteful meal at a time! The tips on how to succeed are spot on.

    I agree with Aaron! You could do a series of blog posts to continue / build out this story, and heck, then it could be turned into your next book! (Maybe that’s the plan already).

    In any case, thank you much. It was a wonderful reminder as I have my quarterly ‘Business Strategy Day’ that’s blocked out for Friday this week and labeled as non-negotiable time to work ON my business… and as always, leading up to it, with such a heavy workload at the moment, I’m trying to ‘negotiate’ with myself to use the time instead to get client work done rather than entering the diner and eat my Dimfort meal! Thanks again for the nudge in the right direction, keep that dinner date, and do this hard thing. 🙂

    • David A. Fields
      September 21, 2023 at 8:41 am Reply

      Hooray for the right article at the right time, Gabrielle! You’ll find your Business Strategy Days (and trips to the Dimfort Diner) are easier, more consistent and more productive if you don’t rely on yourself alone. Get help–a mentor, a friend, a colleague–and have them hold you accountable for running a productive strategy session.

      Thank you also for your very kind words about the article. Feedback from smart readers like you is especially meaningful.

  5. Franziska R.
    September 20, 2023 at 2:06 pm Reply

    Through whichever door you’re exiting, make sure you don’t end up like the neon sign – partly burnt-out!
    Thanks for the well-written short story full of good-for-you metaphors, David.

    • David A. Fields
      September 21, 2023 at 8:47 am Reply

      Well said, Franziska. Interestingly, some consultants’ meals likely include a Relax Roux or perhaps some Chill Out Chili. Folks who let their business worries intrude 24/7 on their lives increase their risk while reducing the rewards of running a firm. You’re wise to remind everyone that balance is always needed.

      Thank you for adding your much-needed perspective, Franziska.

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