Move Into Advisory Services Work

I’d like to help you learn how to generate leads for advisory services

My Indie Experts email list is a place where I do that. If the transition from getting paid for implementation to getting paid for your advice is interesting to you, please join. Two ways to get this insight:

    [Indie Experts] A different sort of opportunity

    An Expertise Incubator ( participant recently got invited to deliver a half-day workshop at an industry event. The pay is acceptable, and the opportunity to build credibility and access is solid.

    This opportunity just landed in his inbox. He didn’t use outreach or special industry connections to generate it.

    A year ago, he was unknown within his target market. Now, his first teaching opportunity is a paid one (travel covered too) at a venue created by an institution that has legitimacy and access that will benefit this TEI participant through a halo effect. It’s an impressive debut (though he’s been building to this for a year with phenomenal consistency and dedication).

    When I try to model what got him here, I come up with this triad of things working together to create this opportunity:

    • Proactive Service: This is a combination of drive and empathy that finds you saying to yourself: “Things could be better in this market and I’m willing to invest and take some risks to contribute to that improvement.” This leads to…
    • Vision for Impact: This is a mental picture of how things could be better in the market you’re focused on. The gap between the current state of the market and your vision for its future state leads to…
    • Data or Research: This is the raw material you collect to pave the road from the market’s present state and your vision for it’s improved future state. You ask yourself what stands in the way of your vision for impact and then, if data or reduced uncertainty or other resources would help remove that impediment, you set about collecting it. Then you share what you’ve learned, which is a form of proactive service.

    This triad creates visibility, which can lead to the kind of opportunty this TEI participant is enjoying.

    All it takes to start this cycle is the proactive service part (though you can enter at other points). That, of course, requires focus — the more narrow the better.

    Client work trains us to be reactive. Client need + client budget = we make things better.

    The Expertise Incubator is merely an invitation to reverse that. To decide what you want to make better (the daily writing challenge helps flush that out of the bushes of your thinking) and start making it better (the research challenge can play a role here), and to do those first, before a client asks for it. The client opportunity almost always follows, though often on a 1-year or more delay.

    But when it does show up, it is a distinctly different sort of opportunity.

    It’s often clients wanting the opportunity to work with you. The opportunity to benefit from the insight you’ve been cultivating for some time now.

    That’s a different sort of opportunity:

    • The old kind of opportunity: the opportunity to be chosen by a client to do some work for them.
    • The new kind of opportunity: the opportunity to grant prospects access to your thinking, insight, and method for improvement.

    The old kind of opportunity is an opportunity to follow.

    The new kind is an opportunity to lead.


    Have I mentioned I’m running a workshop on point of view next month? I think maybe I have a few times here 🙂

    Consider it! The homework assignments are some challenging work that makes you smarter. You’ll learn way more in this workshop via experiential learning and discussion than you could from a book.

    It’s online, limited to 20 people, meets weekly at 10am Mountain time March 6 – April 24, is introvert-friendly, gives you lots of support in exploring and formalizing your points of view, and costs a mere $700. If this is of interest, you can learn more here:

    I think I’ll close down registrations this coming Monday, so do not tarry.

    [Indie Experts] How to provide value?

    For a while now, I’ve had a post opt-in survey (fuller description of that: I recently changed it up, refocusing my questions around vision and blockers to achieving impact.

    This question came over the wire recently via that survey (I sometimes copy/paste anonymously-asked questions here w/o attribution):

    I’m not sure how to provide value in the niche I chose

    I was moved by the honest vulnerability behind this question. I too, sometimes wonder how to provide value to y’all. Or how to provide a more useful form of value. It’s a very worthwhile pursuit, and there’s room to grow no matter where we are in our indie expert careers.

    “Quick, Philip… how many forms of high level value creation can you list in the next 5 minutes? Go!”

    1. Insurance – reducing risk or hedging against loss
    2. Building – building something you or someone else will use
    3. Designing – planning what will be built
    4. Deciding – choosing which of multiple options to apply resources to
    5. Insight – making the world less mysterious and more comprehensible to yourself or others
    6. Coordination – working to make a building process happen with less error, waste, chaos, or cost
    7. Entertaining – making or distributing art that makes life more enjoyable
    8. Importing – making it possible to consume or enjoy foreign creations
    9. Imagining – making it possible to do something that’s never been before in quite the same way

    That’s probably enough. If I gave myself more than 5 minutes, the list would certainly grow.

    Every single one of those forms of value creation can be relevant to business buyers.

    The usual path starts with Building and that’s probably for good reason. Knowing how things are built keeps designers from designing un-buildable stuff, for one.

    But once you’re ready to move beyond Building into some form of planning or deciding or inspiring, there are multiple options. As you make this move, keep your eyes open for the following:

    • Change creates as much opportunity as it destroys. Not for the same people, of course. Some lose while others win. Try to remain flexible and alert to change, because it signals the presence of opportunity.
    • Putting down the tools of the Builder and starting to be involved in value creation elsewhere in the so-called value chain feels weird as hell, at first anyway. If people start asking you for advice about how to do something you’ve done as a Builder, assign yourself this homework: outline a fixed price service offering that you could deliver with both of your arms cut off (like the mean guy here, but with BOTH of them cut off: Maybe you put the service offering in a folder and never look at it again, but I bet you two burritos (you have to come to Taos and dine with me to collect on your bet) that the act of sketching out this service offering changes something for you. Makes you more likely to consider charging for your advice. That kind of thing.
    • Sometimes the value you create and deliver is not the value you market and sell. If you came down with flu-like symptoms right now, would your doctor be delivering a cure for that flu, or the assurance that you don’t have the COVID-19 virus?
    • Finally, value is contextual. The more you can understand your clients’ context, the better you’ll be at predicting what they value. This will never remove the “black swan” forms of value, but it will give you a better nose for opportunity.

    If you don’t know what will provide value in the niche you choose, do one of the following:

    • Find a fast-moving object of considerable size (a rising star platform like AWS has been over the last 3 years, for example) and stumble around there. You’ll probably get lucky. If you do, don’t become too dependent on the platform. “Do not, my friends, become addicted to water. It will take hold of you and you will resent its absence.” — Immortan Joe
    • Copy someone else’s well-functioning form of value creation. Don’t start yet another LinkedIn lead generation service, for example, but do notice what doesn’t change very much on the service provider side of the market and look for things you can copy there.
    • Get to know the natives. Cultivate as much insight as you can into your chosen niche and — if you’re brave and moderately resilient — invent your own form of value creation. It’s super hard and incredibly rewarding.


    Have I mentioned I’m running a workshop on point of view next month? I think maybe I have a few times here 🙂

    Consider it! It’ll make you smarter. You’ll learn way more in this workshop via experiential learning than you could from a book.

    It’s online, limited to 20 people, meets weekly at 10am Mountain time March 6 – April 24, is introvert-friendly, gives you lots of support in exploring and formalizing your points of view, and costs $700. If this is of interest, you can sign up here:

    [Indie Experts] Daily email blindness?

    An excellent question from a TEI member, and an attempt at an answer from me, on the topic of daily email “blindness”:

    I wonder how the pattern of new CEOs having limited time to try bold things plays out in terms of a daily newsletter. Like, if you have a leadership team that is hearing from you in their inboxes almost every day, does the clock start ticking on potential impact you can have from day 1 that they’re signed up? Or from the first consultation and then the daily emails start to maybe slowly become noise?

    IOW, how much time do you have before your writing practice starts working against you in a sense. Know what I mean? Or maybe it’s an unfounded concern.

      • • •  

    Such a great question. I think it’s possible for constant presence in the inbox to lead to recipients setting up a filter, either physical or mental. I think this is more likely if the constant presence is irrelevant or unwanted. I think of pre-flight announcements on airplanes; what new thing am I possibly going to get from those? For me, headphones block them out every time.

    This is why I worked for several years to make my emails entertaining (“infotainment”). I felt that it would reduce the likelihood of my emails getting filtered in that way. I don’t mean spam filtering, but rather whatever version of “banner ad blindness” might happen with daily emails that aren’t all that interesting.

    My initial thinking about daily emailing was in the context of direct response marketing. In that context, the email is a response-getting tool, and so everything’s optimized around that imperative.

    Some time in 2018, I started to see daily emailing as a practice that accelerated cultivating expertise. Not in the same way stacking lots of similar client work can, but in a complementary way, by acclerating the point at which we hit the wall and quit or go deeper with our thinking, and accelerating the formation of points of view.

    And in 2019, I started to see a tension between direct response marketing and the expectations around expertise.

    All this has led me to a place where I see things a bit differently, at least in the context of selling expertise services:

    • Daily emailing’s primary benefit is most likely to be cultivating expertise more rapaidly. It’s less likely to be an ideal way of earning visibility, though it may be an ideal way of earning trust and offering a way for prospective clients to become actual clients. It’s not that daily emailing can’t earn visibility, earn trust, or provide a path by which prospects become clients. It’s just that those will be secondary benefits relative to the expertise cultivation benefit.
    • When I think about my clients who are self-made experts and are successful at selling services that apply that expertise to “expensive problems”, I model it this way: impactful/memorable experience of expert’s expertise/POV + prospect’s awareness of need/opportunity = engagement between expert and client.
      • This is more consistent with the brand marketing model, where something happenas to make the expert memorable to the prospect, and when the prospect becomes aware of a matching need/opportunity in their business, they connect with the expert. The direct response marketing model would operate by trying to agitate the prospect into taking action, and might use daily emailing the way password crackers try zillions of combinations of characters to attempt to crack a password.

    This raises the question: what’s the best way to create an impactful/memorable experience for prospects?

    • A good talk (IRL, remote, or via podcast) certainly works
    • A book can work
    • Can daily emailing work?

    It can. Even if someone was on a daily email list for just a few weeks and then unsubscribed, that might be for them an impactful or memorable experience. Would it be equivalent to experiencing an impactful talk or book? Not exactly, but their time on a daily email list might have sufficient emotional/mental impact to live on in the memory of that person, waiting for the day that prospect needs the expert’s help.

    This brings up an interesting inversion of how we feel about unsubscribes. If you’re giving a live talk, you’re not dissapointed when attendees walk out of the room after the talk is over. It’s expected they’ll leave after the talk ends. Yet most of us feel a sting when someone unsubscribes from our email list. But what if they chose to “leave the room” of our email list after they’ve gotten what they wanted out of the experience? That’s not much different than someone leaving after a talk is over, and not smething to feel dissapointed about.

    I think there certainly are potential issues with daily emailing. Everyone in TEI at some point wonders what the fuck to do with all the output they create. 🙂 If nothing else, it creates a content organization problem on their site if the emails also live on their blog.

    If you use an infotainment style as I did for years, I do wonder how that might work against building a brand as an expert. It’s fine for experts to be funny, but I don’t know how silly they’re allowed to be by the culture.

    You mentioned the possibility that the “3-month CEO clock” might apply to us, and the clock might start the day someone subscribes to our list. Maybe. But when Marissa Mayer became CEO of Yahoo, did her years at Google subtract from how long she had to make drastic changes at Yahoo? (bad example I know because her impact at Yahoo might not have been very positive)

    I think where I land is this: email daily for as long as you find it helps accelerate or sharpen your expertise. If you find that benefit tapering off, then start to think about how you use email to engage with your prospects from the perspective of brand marketing: how can email be the most generous possible gift to them? How can it create an impactful/memorable experience for some of them? That might lead you to a non-daily publicatiojnn frequency for your emails.

    Again, this is all in the context of selling expensive services that apply expertise. If we’re selling ebooks or low-priced digital products, we’re playing more in the direct response context and can expect a different set of benefits and tradeoffs from daily emailing.


    Reminder: I’m running a workshop on point of view next month. It’ll make you smarter.

    It’s online, limited to 20 people, meets weekly at 10am Mountain time March 6 – April 24 (12 days from now!!), is introvert-friendly, gives you lots of support in exploring and formalizing your points of view, and costs $700. If this is of interest, you can sign up here:

    [Indie Experts] Rockets, The Earth, and risk

    Mike Hughes just died 🙁

    The point of view worshop begins in 13 days, on March 6:

      • • •  

    Longtime list members know I’ve been fascinated with Daredevil “Mad” Mike Hughes.

    He was a Flat Earther, but I respected him in a very specific way.

    Generally, I think Flat Earthers are intentional dumbasses. I say so in v3 of The Positioning Manual:

    A polarizing POV is one that intentionally separates people into one of two camps: those that agree, and those that disagree. “The Earth is round, not flat” was a very not-polarizing POV for centuries until the Internet connected a critical mass of dumbasses, and now this POV (a fact, if I’m being careful with my language) is somewhat more polarizing now.

    It required a communication media as frictionless as the Internet to create the critical mass of dumbasses known as Flat Earthers. How else could a group of people so bent on being dumb otherwise get together?

    Being intentionally, obstinately dumb is costly, leaving little surplus time and energy for connecting with others for the purpose of being dumb in a group setting! Thanks, Facebook, for helping change that! 🙁

    Mike Hughes built and flew inside of steam powered rockets in an effort to prove to himself that the earth is flat. He reckoned that if he could get up high enough, he’d observe a flat disc of earth rather than a curved one… I guess?

    He (and other Flat Earthers, I suppose…) rejected photographic evidence — even self-collected ones that they think the Illuminati or whatever haven’t tampered with — because I suppose they dumbly believe the lens causes distant straight lines to be distorted into a curve? This does happen — it’s called barrel distortion or moustache distortion — but only with vastly cheaper or less sophisticated lenses. Lenses that do not have this problem have existed since 1866 for goodness sake!!

    Cause let me tell you… sending up a weather balloon with a camera attached would have been way less risky for Mike than what he did instead.

    Weather balloons would have been an ergodic risk.

    There’s a sciencey word for the situation Mike created for himself: non-ergodic.

    Nassim Taleb explains ergodicity in a way I’ve always found challenging to follow. Here’s a better-crafted explanation:

    And here’s the super-simple leaving-out-some-details-for-the-sake-of-simplicity explanation for a non-ergodic system: Actions with an uncertain outcome that can result in a game-over or disasterous scenario if repeated enough times by an individual are described as non-ergodic.

    Assuming his work wasn’t merely a publicity stunt, I respect Daredevil “Mad” Mike Hughes for trying to discover things for himself. For using experiential learning.

    I think he was a dumbass for a) being a Flat Earther in the first place and b) setting up his experimentation within a non-ergodic system where the probability of a game-over scenario was quite high.

    RIP Mike, you fascinating weirdo:

      • • •  

    An email list member asked if he should make the leap to self-employment or hang out in his FTE job for a while longer and build runway. He provided some context, so I was able to suggest how to think about this decision. In my response, I shared my general POV on risk:

    People like us should take as much risk as we can just short of flinching.

    My correspondent asked:

    Can you expand on “just short of flinching”?

    Here’s what I said:

    Maybe. 🙂

    Business decisions are not bets. Bets are gambles that are relatively quickly resolved by a process we have no control over after we’ve placed our bet. The roulette ball lands wherever it is going to land; the sports team plays however it’s going to play and the bet is resolved.

    For businesses like ours, a business decision can take months or years to resolve into an outcome. During that time — the implementation phase for the decision — we have tons of opportunities to change course, hesitate when we should move forward, be tame when we should be bold, etc. These are all forms of flinching. Two small business owners could embrace similar levels of risk and get different outcomes simply because one flinches in some way, the other doesn’t.

    Bets don’t have feedforward loops. Risky business decisions do.

    My suggested approach to risk is this:

    1. Avoid uncertain situations where the potential for harm is both a) likely and b) serious enough to take you out of the game long-term.
      1. This said, there are many potential hedges against this kind of risk: 3 months or more of burn in savings + living in a high opportunity area + being willing to re-enter the FTE world for a year or so to get back in the game, having a spouse/partner with a steady FTE gig you both could live on in a pinch, living modestly in a low cost of living area + investing in a hot skillset that is also remote-friendly, etc.
      2. With smart hedging, very few risks can actually take you permanently out of the self-employment game.
    2. While you’re avoiding those “likely-to-take-you-out-of-the-game” risks, embrace every other form of risk you possibly can, except those where your emotional discomfort with the risk will cause you to flinch during the implementation phase.
      1. Favor risks that are primarily social in nature (“I might embarrass myself”) but if they pay off they reward you with visibility or valuable forms of access to opportunity.
      2. Favor investing in your own expertise even if that reduces your ability to generate maximum revenue now because if you’re cultivating valuable, somewhat rare expertise, you can use that to drive significant future profitability, which I prefer to even a high-revenue/income scenario that looks like a treadmill rather than monetizing an asset.

    Ergodicity is a difficult-to-remember word for a very useful concept. It separates risks into two buckets: ones that could take you out of the game eventually (an extreme example:: playing n rounds of Russian Roulette by yourself where n is the number of chambers in the revolver), and ones that can’t. Non-ergodic vs ergodic. Potentially ruinous vs not potentially ruinous.

    Business owners like us face both kinds of risk, but my sense is that we systematically mistake risk that is not potentially ruinous for the other kind, and that causes us to play things too safe.


    Reminder: I’m running a workshop on point of view next month. It’ll make you smarter.

    It’s online, limited to 20 people, meets weekly at 10am Mountain time March 6 – April 24, is introvert-friendly, gives you lots of support in exploring and formalizing your points of view, and costs $700. If this is of interest, you can sign up here:

    [Indie Experts] Resources on cultural change?

    Do you have any resources on cultural change within organizations (mostly businesses)? If so, could you please tell me about them? This is a thing I want to learn more about.

    Resources could include:

    • Books on the topic
    • Books on a different topic that surprisingly inform you on the topic of cultural change
    • Experts you know about
    • Email lists I can follow, videos I could watch, etc.

    You get the idea. A quick reply with tips/leads would be much appreciated!

    Reminder: I’m running a workshop on point of view next month. It’s online, limited to 20 people, meets weekly at 10am Mountain time March 6 – April 24, is introvert-friendly, gives you lots of support in exploring and formalizing your points of view, and costs $700. If this is of interest, you can sign up here:


    [Indie Experts] Why bother?

    When the going gets tough, why bother?

    When you’re investing more than you’re “monetizing”, why bother?

    When you’ve seen one too many dissapointments in a row, why bother?

    When you’re learning how to earn visibility and trust and getting feedback that your learning hasn’t gotten you all the way there yet, why bother?

    When you have a vision for change that’s more profound than your clients can allow themselves to see, why bother?

      • • •  

    Because you picked something that matters, and every such commitment goes through ups and downs.


    If you’re in the pre-picking-something stage, please consider picking something that matters.

    Google can find somebody else to help them sell more ads.

    Facebook can find somebody else to help them sell more ads.

    Apple can find somebody else to write buggy software.

    McKinsey can find somebody else to help them do… whatever they do.

    If you’re in the post-picking-something-that-matters stage, keep going.

    The world needs more people doing work that matters.

      • • •  

    Reminder: I’m running a workshop on point of view next month. It’s online, limited to 20 people, meets weekly at 10am Mountain time March 6 – April 24, is introvert-friendly, gives you lots of support in exploring and formalizing your points of view, and costs $700. If this is of interest, you can sign up here:


    [Indie Experts] The barbell, yet again

    “All the world’s information.”

      • • •  

    I get so frustrated with people calling the Internet “all the world’s information”, and thinking of smartphones as access to “all the world’s information in your pocket”.

    These phrases are marketing pablum, and a painful oversimplification of the reality of learning, knowledge, and expertise.

    No less careful a writer than Ben Thompson has annoyed me by calling the Internet “all the world’s information”.

    Where on the Internet will I find the name of the person who brought the first corporate anger management training to market? What was the story of that going from non-existent to a thing corporations now spend money on? I’m certain there was a time when no mental category for “anger management training” existed at all. I care because I want to interview this person for The Self-Made Expert.

    I think about the difficulty of accessing this kind of information all the time. Yes, I’m a weird person, but the difficulty I face in finding the information I seek is not an isolated, weird, non-problem. It’s endemic, and it undermines progress in important domains.

      • • •  

    Information Wants To Be Free. Information also wants to be expensive. …That tension will not go away. — Stewart Brand

    Is this just a manifestation of Stewart Brand’s observation?

    In other words: “Of course you can’t easily search for who brought the first corporate anger management training to the market, Philip! That’s the part of information that wants to be expensive!”

    Maybe. As the Internet matures, I do wonder if there’s an additional sorting that’s happening. Using Stewart’s quote as the framing lens:

    Low-quality information is OK with being free. High-quality information wants to be expensive.

    If this is becoming true — and I’m not 100% sure that it is but I suspect it is — then discerning consumers of information are going to start seeing information value as a function of its price. Price of $0 = zero value.

    Officially going out on a limb here: if this is becoming true, then content marketing will break. It’ll cease to function the way it traditionally has. Traditionally, the price of the outputs of content marketing (free articles, lead magnets, emails, webinars, etc) is set to zero in order to achieve maximum reach and earn the trust of some of those it has reached. In a new world of collapsed trust in free information, this lack of trust in free information would limit its reach, and prevent those you hope from reaching from ever noticing your free content.

    I think that some amount of regular publising is the table stakes for an expertise-driven business. Most of us set the price of our publishing output at zero and distribute it via an email list.

    In the future information landscape I’m describing here, we’d need to set a positive price for our publishing output. Books and paid access to more frequent publications (newsletters, email lists, etc.) would become the table stakes. Perhaps rigorously curated free information would at least partially bridge the gap between low-quality free information and high-quality paid information.

    Again, I’m not at all certain this is how things will move, but it’s a possible future I think we should be prepared for. Publishing a lot now with the price of your output set to zero is a pretty low-risk way to prepare for whatever future norms around the value of information come into play. It’s excellent practice no matter how the rules of the game change.

    If your work is about frontiers, edges, innovation, and creating the future, the Internet is not all the world’s information. It is a useful tool in building the future, to be sure. But thinking it’s all right there and you’ll easily get to it via a search engine misunderstands the norms around and trivializes the actual value of actual expertise.

    Reminder: I’m running a workshop on point of view next month. It’s online, limited to 20 people, meets weekly at 10am Mountain time March 6 – April 24, is introvert-friendly, gives you lots of support in exploring and formalizing your points of view, and costs $700. If this is of interest, you can sign up here:


    [Indie Experts] Brand marketing example

    Here is a good example of a brand marketing gift:

    As with all brand marketing, of course there’s a commercial purpose behind it, but there’s also real generosity at play. That’s what makes it a gift.

    On the topic of brand marketing and gifts, here’s a useful excerpt from a draft of a book I may or may not ever publish:

    What Is Brand Marketing?

    Brand marketing is art with a logo on it. Not the kind of art you’d find in a gallery. Instead, brand marketing is the kind of art that is a gift or a challenge to a specific culture.

    A culture is a group of people with a shared identity. Seth Godin might call them a tribe.

    We’re going to look at brand marketing through the lens of tools and genre expectations. Like all art — brand marketing is as much about the feel and nuance of how it’s done as it is about specific objective qualities, so you may find my description of brand marketing less crisp and objective-sounding. This is a domain of subtleties, so bear with me.

    What is brand marketing?

    Especially for consultants like us, what the heck actually is brand marketing?

    If you’ve ever been through an airport terminal — at least here in the US — you’ve certainly seen brand marketing from a big company like Accenture. You’ve seen those trying-really-hard-to-be-interesting posters.

    The ones this guy is making fun of here:

    Or if you watched TV at all in the 80’s, you probably saw this campaign, from the US Army:

    And most of us have seen the archetypical form of brand marketing, Superbowl commercials:

    None of this stuff is what brand marketing for small consultancies looks like. But it is all art with a logo on it.

    Brand marketing for small-size consultancies is also art with a logo on it. It is expensive relative to direct response marketing. It is potentially inefficient relative to direct response marketing. But it does not represent an expense on the scale of a Superbowl commercial. And — critically — brand marketing is not in tension with the expectations around expertise.


    As with direct response marketing, brand marketing tends to make use of a certain set of tools. As a quick reminder, the tools of direct response marketing are: Clear calls to action, forms, gated content assets, low-priced product(s) as segmentation mechanism, events as a front-end to promoting something, email sequences, long-form sales copy, moneyback guarantees, testimonials, and engineered pricing.

    Here are the tools of brand marketing:


    Have any of these lodged in your memory?

    This is how brand marketing functions as a gift. It gives more than it takes.

    Direct response marketing “gifts” — things like lead magnets and content upgrades and “free bonuses” bundled with info products — are not given as freely. There’s almost always the requirement of an email address in return, with the implication that you will be marketed to following providing your email address. Calling this arrangement a gift is pretty disingenuous.

    Brand marketing, on the other hand, sometimes gives what could truly be thought of as gifts. Not always, of course. Some brand marketing efforts are not very good gifts. And some are just sloppy efforts at selling something under the guise of making a gift for the culture. But brand marketing generally trades in the currency of gifts.

    In our world, that of the small consultant, brand marketing gifts can look like the following:

    • A talk where you share generously with no expectation of getting business directly from the talk
    • Something like Basecamp’s free books
    • Any book, in fact, where the ROI is dramatic
    • A very good podcast series
    • An email list like Corey Quinn’s Last Week in AWS

    A truly good gift is one we’re delighted with because the giver combined their affection for us with creativity. This is true in brand marketing, and in life.

      • • •  

    More of that book draft if you want it:

    Reminder: I’m running a workshop on point of view next month. It’s online, limited to 20 people, meets weekly at 10am Mountain time March 6 – April 24, is introvert-friendly, gives you lots of support in exploring and formalizing your points of view, and costs $700. If this is of interest, you can sign up here:


    [Indie Experts] Tools to avoid

    Two kinds of bad.

      • • •  

    I had a small woodworking project recently. Precision wasn’t important (or so I thought) and I wasn’t quite ready to invest in the 10-year tool for the job. I decided I wanted the cheapest possible way to handle it.

    Regret. It was an offensively bad tool.

    You’re a self-made expert. As you’re choosing tools, how do you choose?

    Avoid both offensively bad and excessively powerful tools.

    Avoiding offensively bad tools is pretty easy, and it’s pretty obvious why you’d want to do that.

    What about excessively powerful tools. What’s the harm in using those?

    I think it’s the cognitive overhead of wrestling with those tools. Several times I’ve seen folks — myself included — get dazzled by the capabilities of an excessively powerful tool, adopt it, and then face a painful migration away from that tool later after they get frustrated with the ongoing effort of actually using the excessively powerful tool.

    The migration path away from a powerful -> simple toolset is harder than the simple -> powerful migration because the more powerful tool will tempt you to try lots of shit (most of which you don’t need) and you’ll have to touch and simplify all of that complexity on the way out the door as you migrate away from the more powerful tool.

    I’ll mention a few specific tools to avoid:

    Infusionsoft: both offensively bad interface and excessive power. If you need all that power, you’re probably not running a solo consultancy based on real expertise.

    SharpSpring: offensively bad user experience. So offensively bad that whatever potentially excessive power it offers is out of reach unless you’re a dedicated masochist.

    There are several categories of tools I think you should really scrutinize before adopting because their additional complexity is very questionable in the context of an expertise-driven consulting business:

    Marketing automation tools: When a company promises to help you use fine-grained segmentation and personalization to help you sell more stuff, they are adapting techniques that were developed to sell products of questionable value to bored people who want to spend their way out of boredom. If your message isn’t relevant and isn’t generating interest in your services, then you have a problem that segmentation, personalization, and fancy marketing automation won’t solve. All that said, some amount of marketing automation can be useful for selling info products or lower-profit productized services.

    CRMs: Please understand; I’m not saying you don’t need a CRM. You probably do! But the default way in which CRMs model the sale is possibly a bad match for you. Your sales process might be more idiosyncratic and complex than many CRMs expect. Or it might be stupidly simple, like “if a C-level person reached out to me, go straight to a sales call, if anyone else reached out to me, throw the lead away because this will never go anywhere”. Keep all this in mind when choosing a CRM. The more powerful ones will offer all sorts of automation it can be painful to extricate yourself from if you choose to migrate to a simpler or more suitable tool.

    The background POV at play here is this: the more bandwidth you have for cultivating valuble expertise, the better. What interferes with this is low-profit services (they pin you down with delivery) and shiny objects that don’t deliver much real world value to your business.

    Excessively powerful tools can be just such a shiny object.

    Reminder: I’m running a workshop on point of view next month. It’s online, limited to 20 people, meets weekly at 10am Mountain time March 6 – April 24, is introvert-friendly, gives you lots of support in exploring and formalizing your points of view, and costs $700. If this is of interest, you can sign up here: