Outcome: Deeper expertise in the business; more authority in the market.
Method: Structured challenges and experiential learning.
The path to your first advisory services client involves cultivating valuable expertise. The right kind of expertise, cultivated in the right way, creates a “side door” you can enter rather than dealing with the obstacles placed at the “front door”.
Very ordinary people can do this with a combination of focus and discipline applied over time. You don’t need to be a big 4 consulting firm alumni or have an MBA to create value by selling your thinking rather than your implementation.
The problem though, is that what you need to do to cultivate that expertise is often in direct conflict with what you need to do to serve clients today. I can help you navigate that tension. Part of the solution is what I’ve observed in interviewing experts for my The Self-Made Expert research: financially successful experts see attracting great clients as a second-order consequence of making something else their #1 priority.
Getting from where you are today to the place where you are generating advisory services leads is a transformation that usually follows this path:
After you’ve specialized, you can shorten the path to your first advisory services lead by investing in something other than client work. This often looks like scrappy, self-directed research combined with publishing frequently. This future-focused investment will often be in direct conflict with executing on the client work you need today to generate short-term revenue. Cultivating the right habits is one of the keys to resolving this tension. Getting support with this transformation is another.
Folks who work with me can choose between pure workshops or a group challenge. Both emphasize experiential learning. Consulting or coaching is an option for special cases.
A challenge-based community of practice.
In TEI, we learn by doing. As a group, we face a series of 3 challenges, spending 3 months focusing on a challenge before moving on to the next. The challenges produce both the substance and artifacts of economically valuable expertise. The substance is a fluid command of your area of expertise, a point of view you can comfortably articulate, proprietary research, and valuable intellectual property. The artifacts are a body of work, an audience that sees you as an authority, and talks or podcast guest appearances.
Experiential learning for indie consultants.
Much online training is ineffective for people seeking to build a differentiated, profitable, expertise-driven services business because it’s adapted from the world of products, or it emphasizes teaching rather than learning. The Core Skills workshops offer experiential learning based on principles that work broadly and effectively within the context of a differentiated, profitable, expertise-driven services business.
My work produces both applied insight for my clients — who tend to be independent consultants — and generalized insight for the broader tribe of self-made experts. I periodically formalize that generalized insight into tools that I hope help you move towards greater success as an independent consultant. I share the in-progress insight via a daily email list.
Recently I put together a 7-part email course that speaks to many of the issues you’ll face as you become a self-made expert. A significant theme of this email course is that many of us enter the world of consulting through the side door, meaning we’re not handed the credibility we need as a result of parachuting out of a job at a big consulting firm; instead we have to build that credibility (and the underlying expertise) ourselves.