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3 min

The most valuable lessons I’ve learnt in the last 3 years of consultancy

Leaving a large corporate multinational business and moving into small (in comparison) business consultancy has been stretching but in the most positive way. It’s been a steep learning curve and one that hasn’t tapered off. The more I learn, the greater I recognise the distance I have to go. Some of the lessons to date may seem obvious but hopefully, there are one or two things that are of value to you…

Stay hungry

Always be learning. Sign up to courses. Read books. Listen to podcasts. Find a mentor. Do whatever works for you but stay sharp. The more value you can add the more valuable you’ll be.

Ask better questions

Before I joined Form, I’d never been told… “That’s the wrong question.” It was humbling. It’s taught from a very early age to ask questions. However, taking a moment or two to think about the question can be the difference between getting a problem cracked in 30 minutes or half a day. A great question can help everybody.

Adding value beyond the content

Always be on the lookout for ways to add value. It may be a referral of work. An introduction to a supplier. A book that’s relevant or a simple card of congratulations. These gestures are not only kind things to do, but also build currency that can make life easier when you have a need. Live generously.

Be an expert in two things

I first heard this from Tim. He recognised that people who rise to the top of their professions generally excel in two core areas. One of these is a subject, this could be in anything from cooking to graphic design. The second is one form of communication, written or spoken. It seems simple and relatively obvious now. However, it was a strong prompt not to get lost in the learning of a subject and forget about making it accessible to others.

80/20

This is otherwise known as the Pareto Principle. Vilfredo Pareto noticed that 80% of the land was owned by 20% of the people. Joseph M. Juran then noticed that this reoccurring principle translated into lots of other areas in life and business… 80% of the time you wear 20% of your clothes. 80% of revenue comes from 20% of your clients. 80% of the progress can be made in 20% of the time etc. This is a helpful mechanism to create significant change with limited resources.

Relentless prioritisation

There are SO many demands on time. Colleagues. Clients. Projects. Initiatives. Meetings. The list goes on. If we don’t own our diary, someone else will. We’ve got to relentlessly prioritise what needs to be done and ensure that we make, not find, time for it. The cost of not doing this is just too high. For you and the business.

Essentialism is a great resource.

It’s not about you, it’s about them

Customers don’t care about your product or service. All they are interested in is how your product/service will help them achieve their goals. Your product/service needs to be positioned in such a way that it supports the customer in their goal, rather than the product/service becoming the focus of the goal. Listen first, talk second.

Donald Miller has some wise words

Bring clarity

Greater clarity helps everyone. If something is not clear you then it’s probably not clear to others too. A lack of clarity costs enormous amounts of time, money and emotional energy. Ask the question. Challenge the assumption. There are often three key areas that will lack clarity. The inputs. The process. The outputs. Always ensure that you and others are clear on all three.

Journey with the good people

We’ll spend approximately 100,000 hours working in our lives. This may seem like a lot but ask anyone who is further into their career and it goes in a flash. Spend as much of that time with people that draw the best out of you, push you further forward and challenge you to become the best version of yourself. It won’t always be perfect, because people aren’t, but be deliberate around where you choose to invest those precious hours.

Create a plan with accountability

‘What gets measured gets done’. If you want a plan to succeed, then the most helpful thing you can do is to make yourself accountable to someone. Create clear outputs and get a date in with someone to ask you the difficult questions. Knowing that someone is going to hold you to account can be the difference between progress and stagnation.

Accountability increases the chance of success to 95%

Do one thing well

This is the mantra of David Hieatt and I can’t help but see the world through this lens now. The companies, individuals, brands and third sector organisations that I see attracting the brightest talent, most enjoyable clients and impacting the world greatest are not only highly disciplined in doing one thing well but are also super clear on WHY they are doing that. It does mean saying no to great opportunities, but the cost of clarity, momentum and fulfilment is worth it. I promise.

David doing one thing well.

Compounding is real

A 1% improvement every day will see a 37x growth in 12 months. Think, £1,000 on day 1 turns into £37,000 in 365 days. This is the reason we should pay into pensions earlier, read books, listen to podcasts, hone our craft and choose the path that will cause growth. Small gains on a regular basis build up over time into something much, much larger. How is what you’re doing today making tomorrow better?

Read more here.

I’m a work-in-progress and if it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert then I’m only 6,240 into that journey. However, I hope there is some value in the above and you’re also able to take a moment, now and again, to pause and take a look back on the distance you’ve come.