Don’t allow yourself to be misled or undermined by baseless myths in our profession. Examples:
• The summer is dead, don’t bother marketing. The thought that businesses stop and all senior people disappear for 90 days may be somewhat true in France or Italy, but not in the US. Even senior people take limited vacations and, in the north, really senior, wealthy people take their vacations in the winter, not the summer. If you stop marketing during the summer, you merely leave the opportunity for others.
• The majority of your communications in formal speeches in through body language and not the spoken word. This is a gargantuan falsehood, often spread through people at the National Speakers Association, who confuse the work that Albert Mehrabian, a psychologist, conducted in social situations. For example, he studied whether people in line would more readily excuse someone cutting in front of them if they smiled. No one bothers to look at the original source, and when this was misquoted, everyone began citing the secondary, ill-informed source. Words are our tools. Eye contact and dramatic pauses, no so much.
• You are often competing with the large consulting firms so you must be prepared to rebut such competition. The reality is that you’re usually competing with internal sources and the buyer is deciding whether to use you or do it with existing resources. You need to make the case that politics, turf, time, and priorities will always undermine that. And, of course, if internal people could do it, why hasn’t it been done already?
• If there’s no budget, you must get into next year’s budget as early as possible. Of course there’s no budget, but that doesn’t mean there’s no money. Money is not a resource, it’s a priority. You have to prove that the value and ROI you provide is of higher priority than where the money is currently being used. If you can, it will be shifted to you. Otherwise, you’ll eternally be waiting for next year.
• It’s easier to enter at a low level and do a good job, then work your way up to senior levels. It may be easier to enter at low levels, but you’ll forever be identified with them and never be accepted as a senior level resource. It’s rare for someone to take on a training project and eventually win a strategy project. But it’s common to take on a strategy project and be asked if you can also do work at lower levels. It’s easier to go down than up, so enter as high as you can.
Think about the myths, self-limiting beliefs, and inaccurate information that may be deleteriously affecting your ability to perform. Drop the baggage and throw it off the train.
© Alan Weiss 2013