Cultivating a Mindset of Imperfection Action: Interview with Consulting Success Founder Michael ZipurskyMar 27, 2018
Betsy Jordyn: Well hello there everybody it's Betsy Jordyn of the Consultants Institute, and I am so excited to finally be interviewing Michael Zipursky of Consulting Success. So Michael and I met how many years ago was it, Michael?
M. Zipursky: Oh, wow.
Betsy Jordyn: About three years? Four years ago?
M. Zipursky: It's been awhile. Is it? Time flies.
Betsy Jordyn: So he was so gracious to interview me for his podcast series, and I've been waiting for an opportunity to return the favor, and this is my opportunity. So without further ado let's just jump in. So tell me a little bit about you. So you have your own business consulting success. So tell me about this business.
M. Zipursky: Yeah, ConsultingSuccess.com is where we work with consultants to help them to attract more clients with us and support them with many marketing systems into their business as well to support them in increasing their fees, winning more proposals and ultimately scaling their businesses and creating more of what I call meaningful success. So as consultants most people get into business not just to make more money but really to create a lot more freedom and flexibility in their business and so by supporting them with the systems and through the program that we run for consultants people are really able to see some very significant growth in their business, and that then translates into them being able to enjoy life a lot more. Spend more time with loved ones, travel, do whatever is most meaningful for them.
Betsy Jordyn: That's great. So how did you get into starting this business? Do you have a consulting background yourself? Or is it just something that you've been interested in? So how did you—what made you think of Consulting Success?
M. Zipursky: Yeah, from the trenches really. So I've been building successful consulting businesses now for over 18 years. Started off 18 years ago with just one consulting business that my cousin Sam and I started and from there that led to another one. I ended up going over to Japan and opening up a branch office for our company. Had the opportunity to work with many billion-dollar organizations. [inaudible 00:01:59] Panasonic and Dow Jones and Financial Times Japan, Royal Bank of Canada and a whole host of others.
So along that journey made a lot of mistakes, a lot of challenging times and especially being business in a global environment. That for me—at that time I was quite young, so it was—I learned a lot, and in talking with Sam we thought what could I do to share these stories of both what was working and what wasn't working. And that's really how Consultingsuccess.com was started.
It was different even back then. But it was a place for me to share what I was encountering both the highlights but also the challenges and the things I was coming up against. Lessons I learned from that, and that's really how it got started.
Fast forward to today we have about 50,000 people that come to consultingsuccess.com each month. We have 29,000 plus people on our weekly newsletter, so we've really been fortunate to cultivate this community of very dedicated consultants.
Betsy Jordyn: So your background is that you ran—you were a part of consulting organizations and consulting businesses, and so you've applied that learning to your own business. Did I get that right?
M. Zipursky: Yeah, so it was always my own consulting business that I started with. So my cousin Sam and I we would run several businesses together over the years. We're like brothers. And we're very close.
Betsy Jordyn: And you really like each other right?
M. Zipursky: We do, and at times we want to kill each other, but it's a lot of fun so yeah we've always had our own businesses, and so I was the—either the founder or the co-founder of these companies and that was really my role. So it wasn't that I was a consultant with him. Say one of the big three, four, five consulting groups. Just more solo, small consulting businesses but had the opportunity to work with very large organizations as clients. And that's really our focus, right? We're not working with consultants who are looking to just become a consultant within let's say a large consulting firm. Our focus is really helping the sole, the independent or the small consultant firm owner to grow their business because that's been our experience and we've become very good at it.
Betsy Jordyn: Because you're a serial entrepreneur.
M. Zipursky: Yeah. I don't use that term because every time I hear serial, I think of cereal like eating when I was a kid but yeah if you look at my background. Yeah, sure we've had the opportunity to build many businesses to sell several of those but really what I'm most passionate about and where I spend most of my time these days is working with consultants in our programs and helping them to grow businesses. That's what gives me the most joy.
Betsy Jordyn: So tell me about your most successful client. What are some of the attributes you would say your most successful clients have in common?
M. Zipursky: Yeah, there's two things that we look for. In terms of we're very selective in who we work with but it's—we are because that's translated into helping people get the best results. And so the two traits that we always look for number one is this person a real expert? Can they deliver real value and results for their clients? If they can then that's wonderful. If they can't then, we're just help them to get more clients or to build a business where they can actually serve and add value is a disservice to the market and a sign that we just wouldn't feel good about. So number one they have to be very good at what they do.
In our case, in terms of consulting, we work with [inaudible 00:05:32] groups either the consultant who has been running a consulting business for quite some time, and they already have that expertise but just want to grow to the next level
Or there is someone who has come out of the corporate world or is making that transition has a lot of experience and can really add a lot of value but just doesn't really know how to grow a consultant business. So that's number one is that expertise.
The second is dedication, commitment and really a can-do mindset. This idea that you're going to be adventuring out into the waters of the unknown whether you are new to consulting or you are want to grow your business to the next level. You're going to need to do things that you haven't done before. And that can push people up against fear, push them into places that feel uncomfortable.
But the most successful clients and just the most successful people in general that we've worked with or had the pleasure of getting to know they're always people who implement. Who take action. They're not looking for excuses. They're focusing on if something doesn't work out they don't just see it as oh, I failed and I should give up, and I shouldn't jump over to the next shiny object. But no, okay I've learned something from this experience. That means I'm now one step closer to actually getting the ultimate result that I want and they keep working at it.
And so through that I mean when you—what we've found I mean it's my observation that when you have those people who have real expertise and have that mindset of imperfect action that I talk a lot about where they're just implementing take action people can see results very very quick in some case. For others, it can take a little bit longer, and there's just no question. They're going to be successful if you know what it is you need to be doing, and you work at it.
A lot of people—I've seen this, and I've talked a lot about it in my book, and I talk about these days which is I think a lot of people focus on tactics and strategy. They are always looking for I wonder what I need to do? But if they really think about it they probably know what they need to do. To win a client, it's not about just doing some random marketing online. It's you have to have a conversation with someone. So learn to have more conversations with people. Now there's more hectic ways to make that happen but deep down inside I think a lot of people actually know what they need to do but they hold off or they find reasons not to do it.
And so those two things are the qualities the traits that we look for most often, and when those two are present, we see we feel we have the greatest level of success.
Betsy Jordyn: Yeah, it's so interesting. In my mentoring a lot of times I'd talk about forward movement is more like an ice skater. Where you actually have to move side to side to move forward. But you have to move. You can't just go out there, put something out there, let the market tell you if it works and then course correct. Rather than waiting and waiting and waiting for it to be perfect and you think it through to ad nauseam. It's like you don't know. You have to throw it out there and be flexible otherwise you don't move.
I want to talk about this can-do mindset because this seems to be such a really important theme with the people that I work with and it just seems like anybody who wants to take action on big dreams. When you say, can-do mindset is that it when you're talking about the right mindset or is there something bigger when you say what this big mindset is. I know you wrote a book on it but is it just the can-do aspect or are there other aspects to this mindset?
M. Zipursky: Yes, so I mean you're right. That's the reason why I wrote the book. It's called the Elite Consulting Mind where I share 16 ideas and just observations that I've had both from my own consulting businesses that have grown over the years as well as from our clients who seem to have really been able to great transformations in their businesses. There are 16 issues that just seem to just keep coming up. And so there isn't just one but if we talk about this idea of action taking we can use the example of what I call imperfect outreach.
So if we think about our marketing and just use that as an example again people know, or often you can find out from someone if you're working the culture reading the book there's things you should be doing to move your marketing forward, right? Reaching out to people, doing follow up. Maybe it's making a call or doing a follow-up call. Or it's writing an article, or it's going to a trade show. There's things that we all can do to move our businesses forward.
But what happens most often is that people have this mindset where it's like things need to be just perfect. I have to wait until my website is done and until my messaging is just perfect or I need to get my headshots for my LinkedIn profile. We just find these most ridiculous reasons and listen I know what it's about. I've been there and done that. I'm seen people go through it. I've worked hundreds of consultants through this process so I know it can be challenging for many but again it's about you have to take that action. Don't wait for it to be perfect because the best way you're actually learn what's working and what isn't working is getting that feedback from the marketplace.
And so it's so critical that people don't wait. The best thing you can do from a marketing perspective is just take action. Learn from what's working and what isn't working and then course correct from there. So from a marketing perspective that's probably one of the biggest mindset which I see people have, but there's other mindset issues that come like whether it's around your pricing or it's around even sometimes people have a concern about their age. I'm too old, I'm too young. There's a lot of different challenges or issues that I think people encounter and that's really what I spoke about in the book. It's just trying to address those most common ones because I believe that once people can understand and see the bigger picture, they get to really realize their potential. Everyone has—if you're a real expert you have this deep potential within you to do, so much.
But I think that more than tactics and more than strategy will really hold you back from ultimately getting and reaching that level of success that they want. It's the mindset. It's just that they're thinking too small or they're looking at what might not happen instead of what could happen and those are the kinds of things that when we learn how to shift your mindset and see the bigger picture and know there's other ways to think about things or there's a better approach to it that's what can really help people to unlock and realize that potential within you.
Betsy Jordyn: So let me play devil's advocate for a second. Because there might be some people who are listening in and saying well, okay that's great for you, but you've run your own businesses for the past 18 years. You might just come to the table naturally wired for risk-taking and action but what about me? This is brand new. I've never done this before. Is this action can do mindset is it something that you just are born with? Or is it something that you can cultivate and develop?
M. Zipursky: Oh 100 percent you can cultivate it and develop. I mean Rome wasn't built in a day, right? Everyone likes to say that, and it's the same thing so you can look at where I'm at right now, but the reality was it wasn't always like that. When I got started, there were many different challenges, many mistakes that I made. Many areas that I had stress or anxiety or just were very uncomfortable.
But how did I get to where I am today? How did I reach a level of success that I've reached? It's common because I've gone through those things. I think the characteristic or the trait for the mindset that has helped me and our business the most over the years is this one of just not giving up. Of just consistently working toward the goal. Finding a wise meaningful for me or for us as a company and then figuring out what do we need to do to reach that goal? And then work towards it.
And are you going take challenges? Are there going to be roadblocks? Of course. But even as you build more successful and bigger businesses you're just going to encounter a new set of challenges and new set of roadblocks. The only thing different is that you now know as you developed over time and had more experience going through the process you just now become more comfortable with those challenges and roadblocks. It doesn't mean that they disappear. It doesn't mean you actually have less challenges or less problems it's just that they don't bother you the same way that they used to. So an example I'll share with you a story.
When I was in Japan, I remember we had a very large client. It's one of the largest ad agencies in Japan. We were doing work for a billion dollar technology company, and I'll never forget because I got a call early one morning. It was very unusual for me to get a call like 7 a.m. from our client. They said they had a really big problem. This client is—this technology company is very upset. There's something that went wrong with this ad, and I was young at the time, and I was freaking. Woah, what is this all about?
I remember I had to jump into a taxi and go down to the office and have a meeting and we got on a bullet train and we had to the bullet train up to Tokyo because I was based on Osaka at that time. And we had a three, four hour meeting to resolve it all. I remember I had to come back later that day so I took the bullet train back down and then I had to meet some family who was flying in. I was just a mess. And at that moment in time I was thinking am I—is this really what I should be doing? I started having all these doubts. This is very, very early on. And I had all these doubts, and I really started wondering should I be in consulting? Should I be running my own business even though, it wasn't the first business that I had that.
But what is interesting is that at that time I was really having all these questions. But to put it all into perspective a few days later, or weeks later or months later and years later who cares? It wasn't really a big deal, but for me, it was a big deal, and I think that all of us have those kind of situations where we focus so much on the short term of what's happening right now that we actually forget the long-term. We're in this—most of us and I believe, and I hope are in this not to just make a quick buck and to reach success overnight. We know that that's not the reality. The reality is that we put in the work. We're going to be in it for the long-term. And if we have that mindset and that view then it's okay.
Yeah, we're going to have some challenges. We're going to make mistakes. Things will go wrong. But that's ultimately how you learn from it. There's this saying that failing fast is actually the fastest path to success. Learn very quickly what isn't going to work, and then that puts you that much closer to actually arriving at what does work best.
Betsy Jordyn: It's so interesting because as I hear you talk about can-do attitude, I would reframe it as risk failure tolerance. Having a high-risk failure tolerance and using my ice skating analogy the most powerful moves that an ice skater can make is when they go backward. That's when they get the momentum. So it seems like what you're saying is can-do is really that it's okay that I fail and it's okay to make a mistake because I know it's going to be a learning opportunity. It's really a reshaping of how you perceive the risk and failures. Did I get that right?
M. Zipursky: Yeah I would actually call it—I can you mentioned can-do quite a bit, but I would really call it imperfect action is the way I talk with my clients most often. It's this idea that it's okay to and in fact, the more that you learn whether that’s the result of something that is negative in terms of you didn't actually get the result that you wanted or that it was a home run right away. Whatever happens, you're still moving forward. You're still gaining feedback which then helps you to ultimately get to that next or take the next step forward. So it's just the idea of imperfect action of not holding back, not finding reasons to try and delay but instead move forward. Take action. That momentum it picks up. It's like a snowball. You need to get that initial momentum going so that it can then pick up steam for you and you can actually start seeing much greater progress as a result.
Betsy Jordyn: I know one of the things that I've gotten a lot of personal benefit from doing the interview with you all those years ago. People ask me because you label my story like my zero to 300,000 story in 18 months and so it was a really nice headline. Thank you. I never really thought about it, but it forced a question around it like how did you do this? And I think through all of my tactics and all the different things that I did but underlying it is I had—I trusted myself.
So I went into an organization, and I trusted that if this succeeded or failed I knew that if I didn't get the gig, I could handle it. And if I did get the gig and it was a brand new company and a brand new time frame and I don't really know what's going on I trusted myself to handle it either way. It seems that that is part of the beauty of this imperfect action is trust that I put my best foot forward. I trust myself that I can manage it if it doesn't work out because I perceive it differently as a learning opportunity.
M. Zipursky: Yeah and I think that that kind of confidence or self-esteem is something that a lot of people don't have. Especially in the early days. But I know in listening to one client who literally went from zero to just transitioned out of a corporate role into consulting. No clients. No consulting experience. No revenue and within about five weeks added over $100,000 in new business. If I think about his situation, he had a lot of doubt. He had a lot of stress and a lot of worries and a lot of concerns.
But he didn't let that hold him back. I know even today he is still a client and his business is growing tremendously. But I know he still worries. He still has concerns, and I wrote a chapter in the book called worry you well because there's actually some good—there's good things that can come from worrying. That's a natural tendency that entrepreneurs have is to always have these doubts. Or to have these concerns. Or to have this worry.
But you can't allow, or I shouldn't say you shouldn't allow that worry or that doubt to hold you back. That's really what's most important is to recognize that all these feelings, all these things that are going through your mind that you're encountering they're normal. So don't let them hold you back. Keep taking action. Learn from that action, and you'll see great results.
Pricing is a really good example of that. I think a lot of people deep down inside know or want to earn more. They believe that they deserve to earn higher fees, but they have this fear of charging greater fees because they're worried that they're going to lose existing clients or that people will say no to them. Well, here's the reality of it. What is the fastest way to increase your income? It's not just getting more and more clients. It's actually just charging higher fees. You can make a lot more with fewer numbers of clients.
Now how do you do that? Well of course you have to create more value. You have to focused on the ROI that you're providing for clients and looking at the outcome and results and not the deliverables. There's all that kind of stuff but ultimately what do you need to do beside that to earn higher fees? Increase your fee. You have to say— so I'm thinking of one client who was already charging fairly good fees. He was going on a daily rate and he's Michael I have to charge much more for what I'm doing. Well, let's talk through it. We had some sessions through it and he said okay, I'm going to go for this. You're challenging me and I'm going to go for it.
He increased his fees 60 percent on the exact same service offering. He didn't do anything different. He's not spending any more time delivering a service. All he did was increase his fees because he was already delivering value. He just wasn't confident that he could charge more. He had a lot of concerns. And I think that so many people probably some of your listeners who right now could be earning significantly more than they are if they just knew how to shift their way of thinking and actually went for it. So I'm not suggesting charging more for value and not delivering. But if you're delivering value you can certainly earn more from it.
Betsy Jordyn: Well some of it is you gotta get out of the time-based fees and look at more value faced fees. I remember when I was starting out, and I was playing around with my fees in the first place I challenged myself to put a little extra zero at the end of all of them, and then that works. So sometimes you just gotta play around with it but it's really an inner play with your confidence.
So I really want to get back to—because some of it is tactics. There are some—you and I could probably do an entire half day to full day just on pricing. But it still goes back down to mindset. How do you recommend that somebody who doesn't have it or isn't necessarily wired like your consultant—like your client who can just worry well? How does somebody get out of that tiny feeling of anxiety around can I do this and all of those mindset things to having this mindset where they're okay with imperfect action? What would you recommend tactically they do?
M. Zipursky: Yeah, the first thing—so I would suggest if I can do a little self-promote for a second. Read the Elite Consulting Mind because it will help you with that. Obviously, we don't have the time to go into all those details. It's very reasonable on Amazon, so I don't make great money from it. But there's a lot in there so I would suggest that. But really a tactical step Betsy is simply to take action.
If they're concerns—we use an example of maybe they feel like they want to get more clients, but they don't know—they feel they're not making progress on it., So there's a lot of things that we would look at. First of, all who are your ideal clients? Do you have real clarity on that? Next is, do you have the right messaging that's going to get the attention interest of your ideal clients? But once you identify those then you figure out okay I know who my ideal clients are, I have messaging that's going to resonate with them. Then the next step is actually getting that message in front of that? Well, how do you do that? There's many different ways to do that. You can do it through advertising. You can do it through speaking. You can do it through articles or other kinds of content. But you can also just find them and reach out to them. Connect with them and try to start to build a relationship with them.
So if people are thinking to themselves I'm worrying about doing that. What if they don't like what I say? Or if my message is off? How are you going to know that if you don't actually put it out there? That's one of the really interesting things about online marketing is that you can do a lot of stuff these days by testing ads and actually seeing very quickly what works and what doesn't work. That—the best marketers in the world in terms of online marketing they are very prepared in the beginning to invest a lot of money and not see any return direct financial return from that money at the onset because they're simply learning. They want to find out what is going to work and what isn't going to work so that they can then optimize and make adjustments and then go all in on what's actually working.
Even if you're not doing online advertising embrace that same mindset for your consulting business which is you want to have a target you want to know what you need to be doing. Get some support around that are helpful or whatever you need to take those steps. But then take the step. And just it's better to get shut down and have people say no but if you don't reach out to say ten or 20 people maybe even if out of that 20 people 18 don't respond or don't say yes or they say I'm not interested or stop spamming me or whatever it is the response is.
Some people freak out with that kind of stuff. What if one person or two people actually said hey, that's really interesting. I'd like to talk with you about that. And so if you worry so much and hesitate so much that you didn't take that action you wouldn't have gotten that result.
I mean there's so many people out there especially authors who have these stories where they've gone out to try to get their book published, and they've gone to 50-100 different publishers to get the door slammed in their face. But at the end, they land the deal and then it becomes a best seller. The whole Harry Potter series that's the story. And there's many many examples like that, but it's the same in your own consulting business that you take that step in the right direction and keep doing it. Learn what's working . Adjust so that you can course correct and you'll get there.
I mean there's—I remember one of my early mentors said to me we're in Hawaii at an event. We are sitting at the bar, and we are just talking, and he said to me you know there's—you know Michael there's only one place that you're going to go as long as you stay focused on the path. I said what do you mean? He said well you're only going to go up. And I thought it, and I was that's really interesting because it's true. If I'm committed to investing in myself if I'm committed to ongoing learning in excellence and just honing my craft for an ongoing basis forever, and I'm doing it consistently, and I'm getting the support that I need why would I ever go down?
Sure, I might dip, or there might be some challenges along the way, but ultimately, I'm going to go up because that's the only way to go. I mean I'm not going to ever have less than what I have right now in terms of knowledge, experience and that's the same for everybody. If you surround yourself with the right resources and you have the right mindset, there's only one place and one direction for you to go and that's up.
But that's only going to be true if you're really committed to ongoing success and taking the action that is required to get there. You can't say well I'm committed to success, I want to build a successful business and then sit back and find reasons to delay getting out there. Say oh yeah, I have a friend who wants to meet for coffee, so I'm not going to go in and make those phone calls. And there's always excuses that we can create, but if we're really committed to excellence, and we put in the work, then we're going to get the result. If it's not today if it's not tomorrow, it's going to come.
Betsy Jordyn: So the best way from your standpoint to captivate—I mean not captivate. Cultivate this success mindset, and the mindset that you're talking about is one they can get your book. You said it's on Amazon, but you went really quickly. What can you—
M. Zipursky: I was trying not to be too promotional because that's not really my style, but I did want to—that's why I wrote it because—
Betsy Jordyn: So the consultants and I forgot the byline.
M. Zipursky: No, yeah so, it's the Elite Consulting Mind. It's called 16 proven mindsets to help you to increase your income, achieve more meaningful success. It is on Amazon. So you can type in my name or type in The Elite Consulting Mind. But back to what you were saying yeah, it's about learning first of all so whether it's from this book or from other resources that you have Betsy or just that are online or through others that are out there. It doesn’t matter where it's from but obviously educate yourself. Once you have that knowledge then—knowledge itself isn't what's going to create success for people. It's the application of that knowledge. It's the implementation of it, and so that's really the key. It's to take action. If we could boil it all down for people, it's really about taking action.
Betsy Jordyn: So the way—it's like I picture that study that they've done where if you stand in a Superman pose for a certain period of time you're going to feel more confident. In a similar—something neurologically happens if you stand in a Superman pose but similarly in your own consulting business you have to when you're struggling mentally put yourself in Superman pose or Superwoman pose. Wonder Woman pose. And just take action. So it's almost like you're—the number one attribute is having that mindset of imperfect action and then to cultivate that imperfect action is just to take imperfect action. And that's the way to cultivate what you need to cultivate it by doing it. Doing what needs to be done and just dealing with the consequences later.
M. Zipursky: The way I talk about in the book is that in order to reach success you need to two things. You need competence, and you need confidence. So if we think about that competence is knowing what to do. So I'm not suggesting that you go out and just take action. Take the wrong action. Usually, you take the right action you need to be focused, and you have to have a good plan in place. But once you have the right plan in place then the next thing in order to actually have success is confidence. Because if you know it's good, but you don't do it then you're not going to get results.
Well, why—what holds people back from not doing it typically is because they don't feel confident that they're going to get a good result. They have self-esteem issues, or they have confidence issues. Most often it's because they have a fear of the unknown or it's uncomfortable or whatever it is. How do you get confident?
Well, the best way to become confident with something is to do it. It's not to just think about it. It's the actually do it because the moment that you do it you feel more comfortable. We see this time and time again. People that are uncomfortable whether it's speaking on stage or it's making a phone call, or it's having a conversation, or it's charging higher fees.
The moment that you take action on that you then feel a little bit more confident and even if the result of taking that first action is that you—it's not the ultimate outcome that you want you then learn and then you can take one more step. And as you take one more step you become to start feeling more and more confident because you've experienced, you know what's going to happen so then now you put the competence and the confidence together and that ultimately is what helps you to make a lot more progress. You feel more momentum and reach greater levels of success.
Betsy Jordyn: Well, on that note that was fantastic. That was a fantastic end. I'm so glad that I'm going to get this transcribed because I'm sure that we're going to want to capture and remember that last bit because that was an amazing motivational speech. I think what you and I share in common in just a commitment to helping people create consulting practices not consulting perfect. And I think that that is what this is all about. And the secret to success if just taking action and moving to seeing what happens and just being very committed to your growth. And to your own success and that's what's going to make all the difference. So that's—this has been great. Anything that you'd want to share and I just didn't ask you the right question?
M. Zipursky: No. I'm really honored to spend time with you Betsy, and hopefully, your listeners will find this of value. Of course, if they want more information they can check out consultingsuccess.com. There are a lot of articles and resources and interviews podcasts and all that kind of stuff. The book is on Amazon The Elite Consulting Mind, and I'd love to connect with anyone, and you can reach out and find me there or on Linked In or anywhere else.
Betsy Jordyn: Sounds fantastic. All right Michael. Thank you so much for your time. Have a good afternoon.
M. Zipursky: My pleasure Betsy. You take care.
Betsy Jordyn: All right. Bye bye.
For additional support on how to cultivate your elite consulting mindset, check out Michael's new book "The Elite Consulting Mind: 16 Proven Mindsets to Attract More Clients, Increase Your Income and Achieve Meaningful Success."
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