Consultants - Ask for Feedback!

Video Transcript: Hi, my name is Stephanie Chacharon. And I'm here to talk to you about Rockstar rule number nine, ask for feedback. Now, when I worked with Lisa Hufford on her book, work your way, I got a masterclass in consulting, it was so effective, and sounded like such a great way to work that I quit my full time job working for Lisa, and became a consultant. I'm now a marketing writer helping with the tableau marketing team over at Salesforce. Now, feedback is incredibly important part of consulting every team, every company have different ways of doing things. So while you may have known the perfect way to do something, with your last client, on your last project, each team has nuances and how they approach things. So ask, understand how they do things and get feedback to help you dial in to those client expectations. And sometimes they won't tell you until things bubble up. And then it's too far past. So ask early, ask often, and learn how you can work and create a product. That is exactly what your client is looking for every time. I know it can feel personal. So I try to remind myself, it's not personal, it's about the work. And trust me as a writer, it feels very personal. But it's about the work. How can you do better work that better helps your client reach their goals. So ask for feedback. And you can guide your clients to providing the right type of feedback that you're looking for. For example, when I'm sharing now, a v1 draft for review. I don't want copy edits, I don't want my client to look at cars substructure, I want them to think about macro issues. Looking at the structure of a piece, the main topics and ideas is the speaking to the audience. Does the voice and tone feel like a good fit for your brand? Are there any large gaps or unanswered questions? As a reader? Do you have the background information you need to understand the material being presented? So I tee that up with my client when I share drafts for feedback. Here's what type of feedback I'm looking for. As a reminder, here's the audience. Here are the goals for this piece. Here's what we're trying to accomplish. Please frame your feedback. With that in mind. Now back to that masterclass from Lisa. I use all of her tips. But this is one that I especially use in every one on one with my clients. So on every meeting I asked what do you value them doing? And what else can I do? This shows your client that you're are eager for feedback. So by asking, What do you value that I'm doing, that gives you the information you need to really focus on those key areas and then build and nurture those strengths. So if your client says, "Hey, I love the way you digest this information from other folks on the team, and turn it around to do X, Y and Z," great! Keep doing that and do more of it and bring that to other areas of your work. And when you ask what else can I do that shows your client that you are there first and foremost, to help them be better in their job and help them reach their goals. And by asking that over and over again, they will be continuously reminded that you are there as their secret weapon.

Setting Boundaries for Balance in Consulting

Video Transcript: Transcript: What do boundaries mean to you in your personal life? Do you have them? Do you stick to them? Hi there, this is Krissi Thomas coming at ya. I have been with Simplicity's since 2008. I've also had my own marketing company since 1999. So consulting has been a thing for me for a very long time. And I am here today to as part of the work your way series to talk to you about something super important, which is boundaries. Before we start, I have a question for you guys to think about, which is, what do boundaries mean to you in your personal life? Do you have them? Do you use them? Do you stick to them?

The reason I ask this is because you have strong boundaries for yourself in your personal life, it translates quite easily into work life things like, Do you get up at a certain time every day? Do you stick to a boundary because you know that your day is going to be better because of it, whether that's reading your book every day, whether it's working out, it really doesn't matter. It's really a self boundary. So if you are honing in on those, it's going to work really well for you.

When you're consulting, what are boundaries in a work context? It's basically how are you setting yourself up for that positive outcome that you want to have with your client. That is sometimes the scariest part, what I would encourage you to do, even in the interview process, to be quite honest, it should start even then let your client know who you are and how you operate. You work really great early in the morning, or do you work really great late at night? Are there certain things that you absolutely cannot be at meetings at a certain time of day because, I don't know, maybe you have to go pick up your kids from school, once you land that contract is to reiterate those boundaries and communicate them very clearly as forward. You're kicking ass, you're doing great. And then you start to see that scope creep. So what happens when your client actually infringes on those boundaries? Well, it's up to you to be really strong and go back to the original boundaries and just say, hey, you know, that's not going to work for me. And here's why. Remember, we talked about it, do not waver, because if you do, it'll happen again, really honor yourself and those boundaries. Last is remember why you chose to work your way. Remember why you did that? It's so that you probably could have more flexibility in your life. It's probably so you could hone in on the skills that you know you're really good at. It's so that you can vary up your work so you can change it up a project by project. Those are usually the reasons why we choose to go into this field of consulting, remember, you own it and love what you do.

Manage your Personal Brand

Kelley Moore

From Work, Your Way by Lisa Hufford:

Here at Simplicity, we genuinely value the importance of building your personal brand! This is an ongoing process that we implore all of our consultants to take part in - without a personal brand

Learn more about working your way at www.simplicityci.com!

Video Transcript: Hi, I'm Kelley Moore. And I'm coming to you from my boat, where I work for Simplicity as a consultant. And today I want to talk to you a little bit about building your personal brand. I read Lisa's book, "Work Your Way" and one of the things that really resonated with me is when she talked about putting your strengths and your passions together to build your brand. I couldn't agree more. But when I built my brand, I also took it up one other level and I thought about what are those snapshots in my life that I was happiest and how do I translate that into a career? Well, actually it took me back to when I was 8 years old and I threw a surprise party for my mom. I thought - she was happy, her guests were happy. And at the end of the day, it seemed like everybody connected to build a memorable moment. That took me into a career in event planning, eventually television, and now storytelling through video. Then I realized I was going to have to communicate the essence of my brand in a quick and concise way. So I came up with a mission statement and my mission statement is to create an event, share a story and video that connects people and brands in a creative, impactful, and meaningful way. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to be direct and clear. For instance, if I get placed in a role and I'm working with a client and it isn't exactly what I do or I don't think it fits their need then I'm direct with them and I let them know what my skillset is and why I feel like they need me. The last thing I can't emphasize enough is to be authentic. People connect with people. Share your story like you're at a party - casually. Don't worry about being perfect. Just be you. Build your brand. Do what you love. I did, it's completely worth it.

Ensure a Successful Contract Close-out

Simplicity Consultants are known for working hard to help their clients shine - from kick-off to close-out, and part of the value we bring is ensuring that the transition is smooth. In other words, ending each contract on a high note (for both the consultant and the client)!

From Work, Your Way by Lisa Hufford:

"Leave the team better: When you end your contract, you should be able to definitively articulate how your work and contributions made the team better."

Video Transcript: Hello, my name is Lisa Giles, a Simplicity Consultant specializing in communications and project management. Today, I want to highlight one of Lisa Hufford's rock star rules from Chapter Eight of her book, Work, Your Way. This is rule number 10: End On a High Note, and these are the three things I recommend ensuring a successful contract close out. Number one, create a detailed transition document. Number two, connect your work back to the client success. And number three, let the client know that you are grateful for the opportunity to bring positive impact to their team. My goal as a consultant is to put frameworks and processes in place that empower the client to shine and focus on the aspects of their business that most need their attention. My skills and talents enable me to take over the comms and planning piece, so they have an open runway for success. I view the closeout of the project the same way, I provide a transition document that houses all of the links to documents, protocols and processes that I have developed to ensure the team can continue successfully. It also contains additional recommendations and next steps. Not only does this leave them prepared, but it acts as an impact statement of your contribution to the project and how you set the client up for future success. As I was closing out my last project, that client thanked me for providing the team with a way to put their impact into action for providing a pathway for all of their plans to come off the page and come to life. Give your best so that you can leave the best impression behind. Not only does this leave the client satisfied, but it drives positive referrals for you to land your next project.

The ultimate goal is to show the value that you delivered and conclude the project with gratitude, positivity and professionalism.

Wishing you all great success as you close out your next project on a high note.

Elevate your Consulting Career

Erin Sanchez always raises her hand when we ask for expert advice on the how-to's of being an incredible consultant, and we loved learning her advice on how to end a project on a high note (to keep that referral engine chugging along!!).

From Work, Your Way by Lisa Hufford:

“How you start is how you finish, remember? Now that you are in the end of your contract, continue to deliver value and conclude the project with positivity and professionalism. Be consistent in your delivery to ensure client success and create raving fans."

Video Transcript: As a consultant, it's incredibly important that you end every contract or project on a high note. In fact, that's one of Lisa Hufford's rules in her book, Work Your Way. I'm Erin Sanchez, and as someone who's been consulting and working my way since 2014, I can attest to the importance of this rule. For example, I like to make sure that when I'm rolling off a project, I leave really thorough documentation to make the transition as smooth as possible. That document includes things like current projects, items that are in flux, various tools I've used along the way, and different contexts for different parts of the project. Now, why do I care? I'm leaving anyway, right? The reason I care is because the easier I make that transition for my client, and for the next person stepping into the role, the better the impression, I leave with my client and successor, and that means they're going to think about me the next time they need help with a project. And it's going to make it a lot easier for them to refer me to other people too. The more people you leave with this sort of lasting impression, the more potential referrals you have at your fingertips. And don't stress about the bumps or hiccups along the way. We've all experienced those and will experience them again. But if you end on a high note, that's what people are going to remember. That's why Disney World has a 20 minute fireworks display at the end of every single day. When people leave Disney, they aren't thinking about the long lines they waited in or the $10 Pretzels they bought. They're thinking about those peak experiences. That's what they're carrying with them long after they've left. So if you want to elevate your consulting career and build a network of really strong references, I highly recommend you follow this consulting rule. Wrap up your contracts on a high note and stick in people's minds in the best way possible.

Add Value Every Day

Meet Kerry, one of our rockstar consultants working on an extremely complex brand unification project for one of our enterprise clients. She's passionate about adding value to her team and her client every single day - watch to learn how!

From Work, Your Way by Lisa Hufford:

“Great consultants have a high EQ (emotional intelligence). They successfully blend hard and soft skills to demonstrate competence and character and add value."

Video Transcript: Transcript: Hi, my name is Kerry and I am a Simplicity Consultant. I am so grateful and proud to be part of a company that supports their consultants and finds them great work. In work your way founder Lisa Hufford outlines that part of delivering excellence is how you show up at work, and do the work that results in a successful outcome. A sign of a great consultant is one that encompasses her rock star rules. And while there are several rules to follow to be a rock star consultant, 10. In fact, the one that I use every day with my clients, and that resonates most with me, is rule number four, earn trust to build relationships. Over my career as an ft and a consultant. This is the one area that I feel is very important, and perhaps my superpower How do you earn trust by producing good work and connection, show up for your client and provide well thought through articulate work? In my most recent contract, I spent time learning and understanding the business and dynamics of the team asking a lot of questions and organizing my thoughts. And when I was asked to present to various teams, I gave them enough detail and information for them to get their job done, but not so much that it was overwhelming. A connected team helps drive collaboration and promotes a good working relationship. The more connected we are, the more that we share with each other. I make it my goal to take the time to get to know each of my fellow consultants and clients, both professionally and personally. Be a little bit vulnerable. share things about yourself without getting too personal. Be curious and authentic and ask thoughtful questions. This helps build rapport and trust between yourself and the client. I heard this quote once that rang very true for me.

"Your smile is your logo. Your personality is your business card, and how you leave others feeling after an experience with you becomes your trademark."

Adapt to your Client's Needs

In this installment of the Work Your Way Learning Series, we're featuring consultant Nicole Brodeur - storyteller extraordinaire! Here, she explains how she adapts to her client's needs ever day to deliver excellence, and help her team achieve heroic success.

From Work, Your Way by Lisa Hufford:

“Being agile and adaptable to your client’s needs is a powerful skill…Harness your superpowers and understand the role you need to play for your clients at any given time.”

Common Roles:

Video Transcript: I came to Simplicity after a long career as a journalist, and I'm using those skills as a storyteller in corporate communications. It wasn't a smooth transition. For a while there, I was swimming in acronyms, and the learning curve was steeper than the stairs next to a broken escalator. You know what I mean? But adapting my skills as a reporter to what my client needs has helped me get immediate and meaningful results. It always starts with listening, asking the questions that perhaps haven't been asked in a while, and not only have the client but of the people I'm writing about. I don't know if I'm an advisor, but I do help my clients see things in a new light and see the value of taking complicated concepts that they may be comfortable with, and making them easier for other people to understand. I also offer ideas for new ways to approach stories and how they might be received on the other end. My background also helped me with cross group collaboration. Just as I worked with editors, photographers and graphic artists in the past, I'm now working with managers and PMS, collecting stories, data, photos and graphics. And working in media made me a doer. I am organized, focused, adaptable when things change on a dime, and still able to deliver on deadline. It was just part of my DNA. As for being a problem solver, while being a consultant has given me not so much a license as a learner's permit to raise issues, recommend solutions and remain objective, while also wanting the best for my client. I want them to succeed so that I may continue to be part of what's become a pretty wonderful adventure. I'm learning something new every day, but I'm also learning that I bring value to the team, fresh eyes and proven skills.

Introducing the Work Your Way Learning Series

We're celebrating the anniversary of the launch of Lisa Hufford's THIRD book by kicking off the Work Your Way Learning Series, featuring Simplicity consultants doing the work they love, and sharing tips on how they deliver excellence every day!

Follow along on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, LinkedIn, or wherever you like to spend your time online - and if you have a question for us, email us to request a video response!


Choose your own adventure...

Get Back to Work Your way with Lisa Hufford, Nancy McSharry Jensen, and Sarah Duenwald

Learn proven strategies to re-enter the workforce and how to do the work you love as a consultant. Led by authors of “Back to Business” and “Work, Your Way”, Nancy McSharry Jensen, Sarah Duenwald, and Lisa Hufford will provide insight and actions for you to get back to work.

Get Back to Work Your Way

About our speakers: 

Nancy McSharry Jensen is CEO and Co-Founder of The Swing Shift, the destination for women in career transition. Nancy loves to take new and emerging businesses off the ground.

Sarah Duenwald is Co-Founder of The Swing Shift and over the past 15 years has focused on business development and sales operations in the software and high-tech consulting industry. She co-authored Back to Business with Nancy McSharry Jensen.

Lisa Hufford is the founder & CEO of Simplicity Consulting—helping companies optimize their marketing programs at speed and scale to accelerate growth. Her books include Navigating the Talent Shift, Personal Brand Playbook, and Work, Your Way, available for purchase here.

An Alternative to Traditional Hiring, Featuring Melinda George, Simplicity Consultant

Melinda George, a highly-skilled professional consultant specializing in project and program management shares her views on the traditional hiring model with Carrie Morris, VP of client service, marketing, and operations for Simplicity Consulting. In this short video, Melinda shares her experience working as a professional consultant.

“… consulting just made sense. It allowed me to pursue interesting, challenging projects, live where I want to live."

Melinda George, Simplicity Consultant

As a former FTE at Microsoft, Melinda discusses the consulting lifestyle as a new, flexible, and viable way to work, but more importantly, the opportunity to make a significant impact on her clients’ business.

Tune in and get a glimpse into the work Melinda is doing today, as a full-time consultant.


Watch Melinda and Carrie's discussion on an alternative to traditional hiring here:

To learn more about this topic, visit our blog where Carrie Morris reviews 3 reasons why traditional hiring is broken.