At the latest Professional Consultant’s Association meeting, the topic of discussing during what we call a roundtable event was “Why The Cobbler’s Children Have No Shoes!” If you know the story, it involves a poor cobbler who makes shoes to sell to customers for food to feed his family, yet doesn’t make enough money to make shoes for his own children and never even thinks about doing so.
Our version of this was this question: What advice do you give to others that you don’t follow yourself all the time?
That’s a tough question to deal with, and even with consultants getting together to share their stories, there were a lot of consultants in the room who couldn’t quite pull the trigger on advice they themselves didn’t share. Like normal, many consultants instead doled out advice of things other consultants should do to be more successful in their business. This was very helpful by the way, but overall it showed just how hard a question like this can be to answer.
We did have some stories though. One consultant told the story of the guy who owned the first company he worked for when he got into the insurance business. The owner passed away, and it turns out he’d never bought life insurance for himself, thus his family suffered. He also talked about some learning experiences where he decided that if he was every going to recommend anything to anyone else he was going to test it first to see if it really worked or not.
We had a couple of people who admitted that there are things they tell others via their business that they themselves can’t stick to 100% of the time. The difference is that they know what they’re doing wrong when something does occur and knows where to go or what to do to get back on track; I was one of those people who owned up to that type of behavior every once in a while.
A lot of the conversation centered around the biggest problem that consultants have, which is the biggest problem most businesses have; marketing. Not sales but marketing, that being how to get people to even talk to us so we can find out their issues and have the potential to get paid to help them fix those issues. This opened up a lot of illuminating statements because, for once, we got to hear people talking about just how much prospecting they have to do to get business, and how one thing we need to think about it adding the cost of prospecting into what we charge; definitely a new idea for me.
These types of conversations are the best thing about being part of a consultant’s group. As I shared with the people there at the end of it all, it’s the main reason I joined the organization to begin with. The lessons learned are invaluable!