Ask For The Story

In my personal life I do quite a bit of work with kids. More often than not, when I ask a child a question and they begin to answer, a well-intentioned adult will interrupt and give a succinct explanation, ending the conversation.

The adult's behavior is easy to understand: the child's answers are often long-winded, hopping from point to point, never really touching on what I initially asked — at least not at first.

I often have to tell the adult, "I was asking because I am interested in the story, not the answer."

When you ask a child a question and then give them space to talk, you'll learn much more. More importantly, it shows them that their opinions and perspectives are valued and that they have a right to voice them.

The same thing applies to conversations with adults.

In our impatience to tick a box on a checklist, in our desire to have everything nicely tied up in a bow, in our drive to find the most efficient solutions and increase our productivity, we settle for surface conversations and miss out on the joys and benefits deep listening brings.

There's a quote I love because it proves true over and over: "A good listener helps us overhear ourselves."

Ask people questions and then give them space to talk.

 


Originally pubilshed January 2015

5 Things I Personally Look For When Hiring A Business Consultant

These days, there is no shortage of business consultants who are happy to help you. As a business consultant myself, here's what I look for when hiring one – for myself:
 

1. They've hired a business consultant themselves.

I'm not interested in learning from someone who isn't interested in learning from others. Someone who is convinced they personally have "all the answers" usually doesn't. 
 

2. Their expertise goes beyond Google and the latest books.

I've hired consultants several times over the course of my career. Some were useful, some helped me shift my perspective on certain things even though their advice didn't actually work, and some were terrible – reciting paragraphs from books that I had already read, with zero knowledge beyond that. 
 

3. They earn enough to be the primary breadwinner, even if that is not their family role.

Supplemental income is awesome. Being able to take your family on vacations and creating lifelong memories together matters. Even paying half the expenses in a dual-income family is great. However, being able to grow a business that generates enough revenue to completely support your family and the families of your employees requires a different skillset (and mindset) than running a business that only provides excellent supplemental income.
 

4. They spend both quality and quantity time with their families.

Travel is great and goodness knows I've racked up the miles, but at this point in my career I am not interested in learning how to build a business that takes me away from home on a frequent basis. For me both quality time and quantity time are important. 
 

5. They work smarter and harder. 

They don't claim to make a full-time salary by working "only three days a week" (I automatically nope right out of someone's Instagram page if I see this) but they also don't kill themselves or their team by never allowing their phones to be switched off during lunch. They work hard. They work smart. They rest. They make time for people. And they allow others to do the same.


Originally published April 2017

When Others Dismiss You

Some people will be threatened by your ambition.

Some people will be threatened by your work ethic.

Some people will be threatened by your talent.

Some people will be threatened by your personality.

Some people will be threatened by your intelligence. 

Some people will gossip to anyone who will listen that you’re irrelevant as a way to protect themselves from being seen as irrelevant. 

Some people will try to define you by work you did ten years ago as a way to dismiss your creative growth. 

And, in the short term, their tactics may work. People may listen to and believe them. In the long term though, their actions to dismiss you will backfire. People will see your work speak for itself. 

Keep pursuing your goals.
Keep showing up.
Keep innovating.
Keep developing your creative muscle. 

If the work you do makes life more enjoyable or easier to navigate, then the work you do makes the world a better place. 

Ignore the noise. We need you.
 


Originally published March 2016