Dear reader, remind me to mention prices and values.
Right after April 1st I scheduled some time with my self, and then I called in some help. Sometimes the best person for me to talk to is myself. If that isn’t enough, I find someone else who can hear and help. Step one was listening to my own advice. The best investments are frequently internal. Investing in the stock market is appealing, but personal growth is much more enriching and can be more profitable too. I’ve told others that. I’ve told myself that. And now others are encouraging me to listen to my own advice. I’m expanding my consulting business because I enjoy it, evidently it helps others, and because entrepreneurship is an excellent invest the precious and perishable commodity of time and be paid in currency that can pay the bills.
Back in the fall I blogged about a session with a friend. She had a small windfall and wondered what to do with it. Should she invest in stocks, or bonds, or real estate, or, or, or? She’d asked others but she was confused. I asked her about what she wanted to do with her life, regardless of any financial investment. She has world-famous talents, and maybe investing in her own business would be more powerful than investing in some publicly traded corporation. She could either invest in a company where she had complete control, or she could buy a tiny slice of control of a mammoth entity. Some people’s talents aren’t as readily developed. Hers are.
Here’s an excerpt from that blog post – Invest In Self.
“A person investing in themself has an advantage that they can never match when trying to invest in someone else’s company. Knowing thyself is hard enough. Knowing the mind of management and the market is definitely harder.”
The first week of April was rare. I had five days with only a few commitments. I claimed a mini-staycation and decided to use half of it as a retreat. I’ve been working hard and enjoying lots of qualitative action, but little quantitative traction. I was busy and getting lots of compliments and promises of eventually being paid – maybe. For a few days I treated my self with a vacation (where “self” received a bit of a spiritual introspection), and treated myself as a client (where “myself” sat down with a consultant that happened to be me.) My friends and clients passed along encouraging feedback. I wondered what I could do for myself.
I won’t go into the details. Clients’ personal lives are to be handled with discretion. On the business side of things, I have about fifteen projects which have a possibility of providing a sustainable, thriving income. Like I said, I’m busy. Maybe I was already doing all of the right things. As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, I think the companies behind my portfolio are doing well enough that my portfolio may suffice if I don’t have to sell stocks to pay bills. But frequently my efforts seem almost, but not quite on target. My options settled out to:
- do nothing – and trust the market, or a windfall;
- do nothing different – and keep working on my projects, with a bit of trust in the 10,000 Hour Rule;
- do something a bit different – which is probably sales, because I usually send book buyers to the library;
- or take inspiration from Monty Python’s Flying Circus,
and now for something completely different.
Something completely different is always an option within introspection because, again turning back to that earlier post:
“A person investing in themself can also fall into a trap of being too close to the business. Good and bad things can be overlooked. Expansion opportunities may be just past the horizon, but others might have a better vantage point. Extrapolations from positive possibilities can create an exuberance that ignores dangers and cautions that are within arm’s reach but out of sight. Investing in self is powerful, but doing it amongst others is a very good idea.”
I listened to myself and called in some help.
Several of my friends are consultants. One in particular offered to consult with me about my consulting business. I took him up on the offer. Mike Thelen and his business partner, Michelle Bergstrom, were kind enough to sit down over a lunch and talk with me about me and what I could do. They were collaborative instead of competitive, and more interested in listening than talking. I was pleasantly surprised. After a while they produced a concise set of suggestions based on my interests and their observations. There are a few tools that they use which helped illustrate their points. They were sincerely encouraging.
Evidently, one thing I enjoy doing is what I’ve already listed on my consulting page. I enjoy listening. Their confirmation was welcome. They pointed out that consultants that listen instead of tell have a valuable talent. And then they provided extra value by adding nuance. They noted that I particularly enjoy listening to people with unconventional lives, creative ideas, innovative businesses – people for whom traditional answers probably won’t fit. It was so obvious to me that I had to hear someone else say it for me to hear it. They defined my niche that I was too close to see.
Let’s go back to my friend from the fall via a series of snippets.
- “She’d already visited a (financial) professional. And she came away from it with a thoughtful brow and many more questions.”
- “We started playing around with what she’d been told and what she wanted to do.”
- “She was smiling. Investing doesn’t have to be done with furrowed brows.”
I listened. We played. She smiled. We both here happy with the result.
Mike and Michelle took me back to that session and others, and pointed out the joy I have helping. I didn’t realize how rare that was. With a few questions and lots of listening they showed me how I can provide value and receive value in return.
As I wrote above, they aren’t the only ones. I know many consultants and all of them are encouraging people who are encouraging me to do more of what I do. I’ve listened to them.
So, if you’re trying to work through something, especially something that doesn’t seem to have an obvious or conventional answer, give me a call. We can sit. You can talk. I can listen. We can play, and maybe you’ll have something to smile about and we’ll both walk away with something of value. My site has a few more details; but not many, because unconventional situations are best handled with flexibility.
And if you want to work from a longer list (see what I said about the way I sell?) – here’s the quick list from my address book with guesses at their talents. They may prefer to describe themselves differently. Contact them to find out more.
- Steve Smolinsky (corporate cultures & international development) – with stories about Africa
- Mike Brady (generosity and wealth management) – check out his videos
- Chris Thorsen (leadership mastery) – aikido applied to business
- Molly Cook (writing and publishing) – ask about Red Sneakers
- Victoria Castle & Tim Morley (personal coaching) – necessary mischief
- Janice Eklund (decorating & design) – yes, some of us need others for style
- Gretchen Lawlor – (transformative astrologer) – exquisitely so
- Katrina Morgan – (LEED building) – with an understanding of changing cultures
- Gordon Morrow – (personal finance) – a Canadian voice
- Mary Jo Oxreider – (life coach) – with scrumbles
- Kari Gunderson – (design interiors) – and art buyer
- Linne Pullar – (author services) – networker and collaborator
- Russell Sparkman – (digital media) – a fan of co-working too
undoubtedly others as my eyes glazed over them amidst my address book
and of course
Mike Thelen & Michelle Bergrstom of UnTapped Assets – who usually work with businesses and corporations and were nice enough to work with me too. (And for whom I can’t find a web site!)
Thanks for listening. Now it’s my turn.
By the way, Steve Smolinsky’s main business page is: http://www.benariltd.com .
And of course, talking to him is much more interesting than emailing him, which is why we use these ancient technologies called telephones.
It is all good.
Update: Janice has a web presence!
Janice Eklund (decorating & design)