Strange attractors – thoughts on Tom’s post

Tom Critchlow wrote a post about his thoughts on how he generates leads as an independent consultant that resonated strongly with me

I dont know how I would have proactively got more leads for my consulting. I tended to let people know if I was free and work would come around. I’m a happy mix of working on long term goals while being fine with short term chaos

I feel this way of working, which is similar to Toms’, is very authentic to me as a person – so the way I work and who I am are in tune, which I feel then amplifies all the possibilities for work and life while helping me feel content about the quality of what I do

My website rarely gets any love because the only leads I ever got through it were terrible; the best leads were from contacts, clients and ex-clients

I often tell people if this is a job that you know 5 other people can do it, I’m probably not the right person for it. But if you cant think of anyone who could do this, I’m probably the right person the job

I think if people know that you are up for a challenge, then you fit into quite a small select group in their minds, irrespective of your other actual skills

I embrace chaos because it is where the truth comes out. I have so little ability to handle bullshit that being a consultant was literally also the last way I could make a living

I find time and again, that the place where bullshit gets stripped away and people are finally forced to confront their own egos and be honest, is when companies are in trouble

So I thrive in these chaotic situations, where everything is on fire or they tried so many ways to solve something that they gave up and I’m the last roll of the dice

Some lessons I had to learn along the way:

One of the reasons I started consulting and left agency life was so that I could say no. And that if I said yes, I could say yes on my terms

I think this creates a feedback loop that works in your favour

A lesson I am learning more is to stick to my process and not jump into the middle of someone else’s or get pulled in the direction that the clients want

I have always been impressed by Leon and Tadhg at Elsewhen.com in how crazily they stuck to working in only the way they wanted to work. This meant turning down work but also meant they built up an impressive list of clients and successes – while also being rewarding for them to do the work in a way that felt right to them

Their business always felt like a true reflection of them

Tom has a capabilities deck as part of his process to make sure things get off on the right foot and that clients are generally asking for the right things from him

I have a 1 day starting consulting session where I spend half a day asking questions and getting educated, and then we spend the 2nd half of the day together, working out what we will do together

1 day is a small enough commitment that most people will do it, and a long enough time to know if you will work well together – it de-risks the engagement from both sides and lets you build relationships

So in that 1 day we learn about each other, and even if it doesn’t go further, they still know me and the way I work well enough, that I will often get recommendations from clients I only did that 1 day with

It gets a bit weird if a company asks for a pitch deck or proposal, its just not in my process. I would normally tell people to work with the other companies then.

But mostly I’m never in competition with anyone else for the work I do

I learned to stop a consulting gig if it wasn’t working out. I get leads and intros from past clients who I decided to stop working with, because it allowed me to maintain a good relationship and I think showed them an honesty about the way I work

I now see the work I do as a search for truth, and the ways of working I have created have this search for truth as a fundamental structure, which I find is a toolset that I can apply to any situation and any problem and emerge with a solution

So one of the reasons I can take any job is that I know I can contribute to solving it. This also means I can take on a wide variety of tricky jobs, that keep me intellectually well fed

I think there is something about authenticity and truthfulness that creates it own gravity, bringing you the right work and making you right for the work