Thursday, January 25, 2018

Letter to my 2015 aspiring author self :: reflections of a published author

Today is the day.  I finally launch my book, The MECE Muse.   A book that I thought into existence over 16 years ago under a conference room table picking up papers (long story – read more of the story in the MECE Muse preface).  A book that organically came to be after spending the last 8 years being the mentor that I wish I had earlier in my career. 

In celebration of this incredible life milestone, I decided to write a letter to my aspiring author self and share some reflections (while they are still fresh) of the writing and publishing process for those that may be in the valleys of their first book journey as well.   
Please enjoy.

Dear 2015 Christie,
I wanted to go back in time and write a letter to share some of the highlights of the journey that you are about to embark on with this book idea.   While I know that you are in the midst of wedding planning, there is whisper you have been hearing for quite some time.  It’s time to write that book.  I know you have been wrestling with the idea for years.  Well, it is time to answer the call.  And I want to be the first to tell you… you can do it.  And guess what?  You do not need another college degree, a specific title or promotion, or one more project under your belt before you can be considered a credible consultant and expertise.  You have got the goods, so stop second guessing yourself.    
You got this!  Before you get started, here are some other thoughts to keep in mind:  

  • Writing something every day will be one of the best decision you make.  That decision will pay off dividends in the future of your book because of the habits you end up creating. You will not only become a better writer & build more confidence, you will end up creating a blog to which 1000s of people will read your posts, and it will inspire you to create a podcast show.  One suggestion as you go down this journey is to consider creating an outline earlier on of the content in the book and while writing every day, have a compass as to what you need to write.
  • You are going to struggle with who the book is for because you are trying to help so many people.  I get it.  As you begin writing, consider creating an avatar of who you want the reader of this book to be.  Run your avatar suggestion to some of your close colleagues.
  • Every time you write a page, I recommend reading it out loud before moving on.  You will save yourself a lot of time during the editing process.
  • Start the outreach process for gathering interviews from consulting partners earlier in the journey of the book.  While that was another great decision, do not be so nervous about reaching out to others for help with the book.  You will be thrilled to know that people – sometimes perfect strangers – are going to be so excited to hear about your project.  Your passion will influence a lot of people to go out of their way to help. They will root you on, introduce to others that can help, and give you great resources.
  • Some nights and weekends are going to be tougher than others.  Embrace the suck.  I’m not going to sugar coat it, some days writing a book just suck.  Remember why you are writing the book and as needed, take breaks.  You will find that taking a couple of nights off to give you time to think through your next steps will actually help you write better and think with more clarity.  
  • After you finish writing the book, you are going to spend almost an entire year going through the publishing process.  Surprise!  Take the time to do research and plan it out, but let the process unveil itself.  Do not be in a rush because this is the crucial stage where you take a somewhat ok manuscript and polish into what will become a masterpiece.
  • Do not obsess over the aesthetics of the book or stress about it.  Your publishing team is going to do a great job and the book is going to be absolutely stunning to look at and feel to the touch.  Your book is going to be exactly as you had envisioned it. And you are going to be so proud of the day that you get to hold the final product in your hand.   
  • Do not stress over the fact that it is taking a long time to write and publish the book based on your original expected timeline.  You are going to meet John Kotter (yes, that John Kotter!) and he is going to share insights as to why your book was actually right on time.
  • You are going to inspire a lot of people just through your own journey.  Be proud that because of people watching your own walk, you will create a community of authors around you. Get ready because you will be attending a lot of book launches in the future!

Lastly, I am proud of the person you have become through this journey; your family, friends, and colleagues are too. Mom, dad, grandma, and all of your ancestors are beaming in heaven right now.  I look forward to seeing you on the other side.   

In the meantime, I will be right here rooting for you.

To greatness,
Christie Lindor  

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Hottest Jobs of 2040 :: uncut edition for the human capital, change, & OD community

I had a lot of fun contributing to the now very popular "Hottest Jobs in 2040" TIME magazine article published back in October 2017.  The article has resurfaced and has been trending recently.

In that spirit, I decided to dig through my archives and share the original, uncut submission that while some components didn't make the cut, centers on future jobs specifically for the human capital, talent, change management, and organizational development community.

Let me know what you think - and what predictions you have for 2040. Enjoy!

Hottest Jobs of 2040 - uncut edition for the human capital, change, & OD community

While none of us may know how the future will play out, I believe significant paradigms shifts and industry convergence will continue to accelerate. The old world economy is essentially being consumed by the new world economy right before our very eyes.   The overall theme for the new world is micro-entrepreneurship instead of people being employed by large corporations for long periods of time.  Below are the three jobs that I believe will be in demand in the next 20-30 years.

Reinventionists – as the jobs and professions of today continue to decline, the threat of mass unemployment becomes more real every day.  A lot of people will need significant assistance navigating a new landscape. Reinventionists are independent business consultants that are part career coach part technologists to help people create a path to employment in the new world through upskilling for the skills of the future, personal brand reinvention, all while learning how to leverage new technology in order to carve out a new career path or new business venture.  

Micro Gig Agents – We have a front seat to the beginning of the gig economy, which is making way for the new “gig employee”.   I believe people will have contractual “micro” projects of varying lengths of time instead of the full time, permanent jobs of today. We are already beginning to see this trend take shape with companies like Uber or Fiverr.  These micro-projects will lend way to the creation of new wave of employment agencies operated by Micro Gig Agents.  Micro Gig Agents will manage a portfolio of projects across a wide variety of organizations to help source hard to fill positions that bots are unable to fill due to the complexity of the roles.

Human Transformation Physicians, Scientists, and Psychologists- For many people, it will be somewhat shocking that the world as they know it -and livelihood - will become so obsolete so quickly.   Millions of people will need to learn how to adapt and become comfortable with the uncomfortable, which will be our way of being for at least the next century.   Currently it is not natural for most humans to embrace change, but it will have to become a skill that is developed and inherently encoded in our DNA if our future generations are to survive and thrive in the future.   This need will give way to a new study and breed of professionals, sponsored by large corporations, focused on the advancement of the human journey & neurosciences in order to help preserve the emotional, physical, and spiritual needs for human adaptation.  The study and application of the evolution of the human experience will emerge and be in demand over the next 20-30 years.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

10 "success" habits every consultant should own

In a previous article, I made an assertion that people should focus on building habits instead of focusing on achieving goals.  I personally like the concept of creating and developing habits because of the shelf life.  Habits are hardwired into your brain and become part of your everyday life, while goals might be achieved but they can be short term. 

How you spend your free time, who you decide to be around, and what type of information you consume can mean the difference between promotions, raises, or sponsorship if you are an employee. If you are an entrepreneur, success habits could mean the difference between winning and losing business, profitably succeeding, or scaling your business to the next level.

Here are 10 habits that every consultant should develop and own in order to take their skills as well as the breadth and depth of experiences to the next level. 

·         Be a team player.  The world is small. I have seen former teammates become someone’s boss or client.   Simply put, don’t be a jerk. If you worked with a challenging colleague, let it go.  Allow the universe take care of it. 

·         Have manners and etiquette.  This one is super easy (or at least it should be). Stop and take a moment to thank those around you that are working hard to make you successful. Put the phone down and look people in the eye. Don’t bark orders at anyone. Be patient. 

·         Become business savvy and learn the language of business. There are tons of online resources available.  As a consultant, you should be regularly consuming quality information that makes you better understand the business world around you.  Know how to interpret charts and graphs.  Understand how the financials flow within an organization. Learn how to dissect the impacts of an organizational structure.  Watch interviews with industry leaders to obtain various perspectives.  And where possible, join the conversation.  

·         Learn the difference between perfection and excellence. Begin to create an eye for creating something that is excellent versus striving to create something that is perfect.   Depending on contextual situations, the standard varies.  Always ask questions to manage expectations and work towards excellence, not perfection.  

·         Walk the halls and talk to humans.  You should not walk into an office, team room, or client building to only then put on your headphones and not look up again until it is time to head out for the day.  Every time you tune people out, you miss valuable connectivity time. Missed opportunistic moments accumulated over the course of a career can cost you dearly.  If you truly need down time to do deep work, arrange to work remote.  But when you are in the workplace with others, stop people in the hallway and say hi.  See how people are doing.  Walk to the conference room across campus instead of taking the call at your desk. 
          How you show up.  Don’t wait until you think you are close to becoming an executive to develop executive presence. Developing executive presence early on help you speed through the middle management layer, which many people get stuck in and never leave.  Make sure you look put together at all times (however “put together” is defined in your culture).  Grow your confidence and ability to convey messages. Practice having good posture, pausing, and smiling. 

·         Have intellectual curiosity.  Consultants at any level should always be playing sponge.  At all times. Everyday.  When you are asked to do research, find out why.  When asked to complete a deliverable, understand the challenge. Ask a lot of questions.  Do research and ask again.  Your new perspective maybe just the fresh air and innovation a project or clients’ needs.

·         Have at least one breakfast, lunch or dinner meetup at least twice a month.  Don’t isolate yourself on an island. Build relationships early and often. With all types of people, young and old, senior and new, clients and colleagues.  Two meetups a month means 24 meetups a year.  Repeated and accelerated over a 30 year career, that can be 1000s of strong relationships you have made. 

·         Be prepared to interview any day of the week, at any time.  This applies for the rest of your career in consulting. Because of the temporary nature of the work, consultants are constantly having to update their resume, portfolio, website, or obtaining referrals/recommendations.  You are constantly at a crossroads searching for your next opportunity while completing the one you are currently working on.  Being able to become an amazing interviewee is critical.  This means having multiple elevator pitches designed for different stakeholders. It means always being well read and well versed on a wide variety of topics. 

·         Getting out of your own way.   Despite the political noise or posturing around you, the only thing that really matters in consulting is value creation.   Your age, gender, who you love, your educational or socioeconomic background, upbringing, etc.…does not matter. Do not let those things get in the way of doing what really matters – creating value for your team, clients, and ultimately the marketplace.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

An eye opening mini-guide to internal and external consulting

What many people don't realize is that the world of consulting is generally split into two major categories: external (market facing) consultants and internal consultants.

External (market facing) consultants operate externally of their organization and their expertise is provided on a temporary for a pre-determined fee. Internal consultants operate within an organization but is available to be consulted on areas of specialty by various business units, leaders, and individuals.

Out of my 16 year career as a consultant, fourteen years were spent working as a market facing consultant and two years as an internal consultant.     Nothing brought more clarity to my career than the combined experiences.  Here is an observation of the similarities and differences of the skills needed for both types of consultants based on my experiences. 

Let’s start with the similarities.
·         Heightened sense of psychology.  As a consultant, you have to learn how to play sponge AND be a chameleon at the same time.  You have to have a grasp on how people think, how to communicate with them, and what triggers fear, motivation, or action.  You also have to learn how to read between the lines of what is verbally said (and what is not said).
·         Systematic approach of change.  Consultants, whether working internally or externally, have to have a keen understanding of the systems to change.  Change of people, processes, technology, and data. 
·         Ability to influence.  While influence looks differently for each type of consultant, the ability to influence is what elevates a consultant towards becoming a trusted advisor.
·         Commitment to lifelong learning.  Access to knowledge and technical expertise are key pillars of the value consultants bring to the table.  To do this well, consultants must have a ferocious appetite for knowledge and best practices.  
·         Have passion for the work they do.  Given the demanding nature of the role, passion helps make good consultants into great consultants.  Passion allows you to see the root cause of problems, helps you to sift through the noise, and helps you stay laser focused on what really matters – creating an impact for your clients.

Now…the differences.
·       Stakeholder exposure.  While internal consultants have the advantage to build longer term relationships with broad set of stakeholders and establish rapport and affinity more easily, external consultants are better positioned to take more high stakes organizational risks with senior leadership that can transform a company.
·         Different appreciation for cultural nuisances.   Internal consultants are likely to be accepted as an insider because they work for the company. Internal consultants tend to lean into the culture when making recommendations because they understand (intimately) what will work and what will not work.  External consultants bring an outsider’s perspective to a culture and might not always be attached to the recommendations made or empathetic to the impact of the recommendations.
·         How they position their expertise.  Internal consultant position themselves from a place of trust, while external consultants lead with influence, expertise, and a market place lens because they bring experiences from working with other clients.
·         Integrating with the rest of the company.  Internal consultants are able to connect the dots a lot of quickly to gauge how a recommendation could potentially have downstream impact on the company’s financials, people, processes, or technology.  External consultants may not always have the bigger picture of other programs, processes, or business line activities in mind when completing a project but is able to take on more risks with less repercussions.
·         Different agendas.  Internal consultants are seen as being an ally with more skin in the game given their personal allegiance to their company.  External consultants are objective and typically focused solely on the results than a personal affinity.

As an internal consultant you have an opportunity to learn how to better influence, navigate organizational politics, and build deep relationships, all while having an empathetic understanding of the motivational triggers of your stakeholder groups.   As an external consultant you have the opportunity to work on numerous client environments, business problems, and projects. 

In order to become a great consultant with depth to your expertise, I believe you need experience on both sides of the table.