Today is April Fool's Day. Doesn't feel like a day to be pranking each other given the current global health and economic crisis. But that doesn't mean we can't celebrate the Fool archetype.
I am a massive fan of mythology and archetypes. In fact, I love the archetypes so much that I became a certified archetype consultant through Caroline Myss' CMED program. To me archetypes are a short-hand way to connect our individual stories to transcendent universal ones.
Archetypes the secret behind all the success of the movies that we love. We don't just watch Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter or Shrek go on magical journeys. We see the Hero and his journey in action. We love Tom Hanks because he is the Everyman that we all can relate to. Hugh Jackman is the Warrior that overcomes incredible odds for the sake of freedom - from Curly in Oklahoma, Valjean in Les Miserables and PT Barnum in The Greatest Showman.
Right now we're in the age of the Fool....
Oil...water, consultants...marketing. In general, consultants are not the biggest fans of marketing, even in the best of times. The marketing challenge is definitely exacerbated in times like these, when there is a massive threat to our global health and economy.
But here's the deal - how you treat your clients (those you already know and are working with AND the ones you don't know yet that you meet through marketing) could define your consulting brand.
If you say and do nothing, you might be perceived as out of touch and irrelevant. If you get super aggressive, you might be seen as an ambulance chaser.
So what can you do? Let me give you a few ideas:
As a business mentor to aspiring consulting and coaching business owners, I deal with people who have been laid off all the time. I sit with their shame and fear as they find their courage to pursue the entrepreneurial dreams that the layoff simply accelerated. It's hard enough when it's only your career that takes a hit. For many who are dealing with layoffs right now, it's a career hit, in the middle of a health crisis, in a market where no one is hiring.
Here's some advice that hopefully will help you cope and see the light at the end of this trial:
Getting laid off, even in times like now, is a shock to the system. The losses are on multiple levels that begin with money and fears around how you're going to provide for yourself and your loved ones. But the real shame that keeps many people stuck is the personal rejection after years of investing oneself and talents to help grow someone else's bottom-line. On a rational level you...
"Playing small" is making choices that put a lid on your true potential. It's the part of you that wants to protect your comfort, security and validation in the short-term at the expense of what is possible in the long-term.
These feelings are particularly acute for both new and seasoned consulting and coaching business owners which in comparison to other business owners, growing to the next level is personal because your business is based on you. Your ideas. Your expertise.
It's hard for everyone to step outside their comfort zone, but for you, it can be excruciating because it can feel that not just the business is at risk but everything you have worked so hard to achieve will come crashing down.
You're probably very well aware of the impact that playing small is having on your self-esteem and business results. You're not getting your website copy done, under-charging your clients, and taking work that makes you feel more like an employee vs. an advisor.
Do you feel overwhelmed by the issues and challenges your clients are experiencing? Do unhealthy work environments and power-over leadership practices burn you out and drain you?
If so, you might be an empath. An empath is someone with an extremely reactive neurological system which causes them to absorb both the positive and stressful energies around them.
I'm an Empath.
I didn't realize I was an empath for a long time. I started to suspect that I was when I was presenting some difficult feedback to a client about their sales practices. I had sat with over 100 focus group participants and heard story after story about the impact of the company's unethical sales practices on their lives. And I was heartbroken when the client disregarded the feedback.
Being an empath in a profession like ours, where you see the underbelly of organizations and leaders, can be hard. You have a superpower because of how well you understand the hearts and minds of everyone in your client...
Over the years there has been one particular roadblock that I watch both new and experienced consultants and coaches hit time and time again. The truth is, I hit the same roadblock when I first started.
We all know we have tremendous value to offer our clients.
We can see the transformation that’s waiting for them….
…But when it comes time to put that value into words and communicate it to those same clients?
Unable to quantify our value.
This is what I want to start to unpack for you in this article.
To do this, I have to first expose the myths.
Your value isn't found in your tools. It's in how you use your tools that matters.
A carpenter may have a hammer, screwdriver and drill and perhaps the best ones on the market. But as a customer we don't care about his tools. We care about how what he does with those tools to build something...
If you want to start or grow a profitable consulting and coaching business you need systems and processes to consistently attract, impress and convert a steady stream of ideal clients and deliver exceptional results once you land them.
To experience greater significance, isn't about doing different tasks but going about those same tasks with new eyes.
The perceptive eyes you need to cultivate includes reverence for your client's work and for your own. It's coming to a place of understanding and respect for the complexity that leaders manage when trying to guide human beings to work together. It's seeing your role beyond an "order taker" or "extra pair of hands" and owning your place as an essential strategic partner.
Here's 10 ways to perceive the significance of your role and why consultants and coaches matter.
If you really want to make money and a difference as a consultant or coach, you can't get there by being nice.
Nice on the surface appears more ethical and in alignment with one's integrity. A "nice" consultant or coach delivers what a client asks for. Doesn't get too aggressive with their marketing. And certainly doesn't push a client to pay them what they are worth.
But in reality - nice isn't nice. Being nice keeps feathers from being ruffled and maintains a surface experience of pleasantness while hiding or minimizing the real issues that are begging for transformation and the real reason why consultants and coaches exist.
Our profession isn't a new one. It's an old one. The office of an executive advisor was created thousands of years ago, at the same time the office of the king was established. In ancient stories, myths and spiritual traditions, the King always had a Prophet, Mentor, Magician, Guide or Jester that spoke truth to power. And helped the King...
You can look at building a consulting and coaching practice in one of two ways. You can think of yourself as a freelancer who simply is always on the lookout for the next job. Or you can think of yourself as a brand that attracts right fit clients for years to come. If you want a practice that consistently generates exceptional results then you, like all great companies, need to invest in building a strong brand.
Many people think a brand is nothing more than a logo. Or a trademark. Or that pithy tagline. The reality is that branding is all of those things and so much more. A brand in general is the promise you make to your future clients that you consistently deliver on. Your brand promise contains both the tangible and intangible value you create as well as the emotional connection they will experience when working with you.
There are five reasons why it is worth investing your time, money and vulnerability into brand...
One of the biggest mistakes that purpose-driven consultants and coaches make is pursuing a subcontracting business model.
Subcontracting is what you do instead of doing the hard work to confront your fears about marketing and settling for a business that is based on:
If you have no interest in being an executive advisor, speaking truth to power or becoming a thought leader or perceived expert in your industry - this model can work....
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