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November 2, 2008

A Million Dollars worth of Advice from Alan Weiss

There are not many superlatives left to describe Mr. Alan Weiss. 

Alan is The Master Consultant of our time, and the inspiration to thousands throughout the world through his books, his blog and other works

Alan is the only person I know of who, as an independent consultant, achieves a 7 figure income while working twenty hours a week.

He was kind enough to spend some of those twenty hours with some advice for consultants on leveraging their time, fees, and some concise advice for engaging 
clients who are facing difficult times. (On the weekend no less!)

You are well known for generating a seven figure income on a 20 hour week as a independent sole consultant. A phenomenal effort. How long did it take to get to that level, and what specific advice would you give to consultants wanting to follow your example?

AW: I was fired in 1985. I wrote Million Dollar Consulting in 1991. But it took me until about 2000 or 2001 to seriously reduce my labor intensity while making more money, thereby increasing discretionary time, which is the real wealth. 

Advice: Focus on outcomes, not tasks; never let the client dictate your methodology; never charge by a time unit; don’t fall in love with your own methodology; remember that the easiest way is usually the best (Occam’s Razor).

CP: I have read and applied your gravity concepts of marketing. And it works, undoubtedly. But what marketing advice can you give to people who need to get their pipelines full today? People who don't have the time it takes to build a "gravity focused" approach to generating a brand.

AW: That’s a fallacy. You’d better make the time WHILE you’re also looking for short-term cash, or you’ll ALWAYS be looking for short-term cash.

The only really quality ways to generate short-term income: Call everyone you know and ask if they need your value or they can give you the names of people who do (most consultants are too embarrassed or have low self-esteem); organize a breakfast or lunch with prospects where you do nothing but provide value; find a firm or other consultant who needs subcontracting work. This is not a good profession for short-term cash.

CP: The people you see in your mentoring college (Million Dollar Consulting® College) are self selected. They are motivated people who have thought through this enough to seek you out. Can everybody who has that level of motivation do this?

AW: I don’t understand this question. The people who seek me out for any of my programs, e.g., zero to $300,000, realize that they need to invest in their own development, and they need to do so with someone who has personally and obviously had that success.

There are too many “coached” who are only coaches with no track record of success. Would you learn to ski from someone who has never traversed a hill? My Mentor Program has had over 700 participants, which is a lot, but what about the other 200,000 consultants? Life is short.

Why take five years to learn something you can in five days, or why have ten years of experience which is the same year repeated ten times? 

If as a solo you are not making a minimum of $300,000 in this business with ample free time for yourself, you’re just kidding around. And your business is on shaky ground.

CP: You are the thought leader on Value Based Fees. An approach aimed at charging as per the value that you deliver, not based on the work required to achieve it. How do you deal with clients who want to tie your revenue (payment) to the results? What is your opinion on these risk sharing approaches?

AW: I tell them that I can’t control the variables, such as key people leaving or competitors’ technology, those are strategic concerns and that’s why THEY are being paid what they are. I don’t like “performance fees” for that very reason. I’ll deliver my value and you pay me. Why should I incur risk that is not within my control to influence?

CP: With the economy tightening up, and some sectors already starting to see contractions many of our readers are feeling challenged. You have written and spoken a lot 
about finding work in tough times, but what is the value that consultants can offer now to companies that are really feeling the pinch?

AW: Don’t start preaching survival, preach how to thrive. Use your normal value to show that this is the time to gain on the competition. I recently did a teleconference on How to Accelerate Business in a Dismal Economy. It sold out (downloads are available). 

But I’m shocked that not every consultant making under, say, $250,000 didn’t try to get on that call. A lot of millionaires were on that call. You have to be aggressive, and learn the best techniques from others.

I discovered Alan's work through How to Establish a Unique Brand in the Consulting Profession and it changed the course of my life. 

Suddenly it was obvious that my career choice could be so much more than lots of travel and interesting work!

If you haven't read any of his work yet then I sincerely recommend that you check out Value Based Fees, Million Dollar Consulting and Getting Started in Consulting as a bare mimunim!

People with the intellectual depth to be able to continually present new ideas and approaches - who have the experience and scars to back up their stories - are very rare. Take advantage of this one.