Spring 2020 Issue
"Just believe you can do it, and you can." - Claude M. Bristol – The Magic of Believing (1948)
Like everyone else, in this time of the pandemic, life for the independent consultant (IC) has changed in material ways. The coronavirus threatens not only our health but our financial well-being. Although it’s not the first time we have hit a bump in the road, and not likely the last, the emotional strain can be overwhelming. In times like this, it is helpful to have a personal operating model the can help us concentrate on what is essential.
Over the years, I’ve developed a model that has helped me, in good times and bad, exercise discipline over my behaviour and improve my emotional stability and business success. To provide some context, I developed the first iteration of this model in 1988. One year later, my revenue had doubled. Since then, I have worked to improve it.
The model consists of establishing three objectives that are supported by three enablers. By repeating them over and over many times during the day, they become part of your subconscious.
The three objectives I have chosen are Healthy, Rich and Secure. You may select other ones, and you may wish to use less than three, but I’d suggest you don’t go beyond three as it becomes challenging.
Maintaining good health is a crucial enabler to success as an IC. By continually reminding ourselves to be healthy, we trigger our subconscious to keep this in mind as we make our daily decisions. It might cause us to eat less, get a bit more exercise, or even just relax. If we have health problems, it makes it difficult to address the challenges associated with life as an IC.
An objective of rich does not necessarily mean we are trying to become decamillionaires. It means having enough money that we are confident that our financial needs will be met. If we are worried about money, it is tough to concentrate on the delivery of excellent service. Lack of funds may also tempt us to make bad business decisions to meet short-term needs.
This objective involves having a sense of being protected and safe. It does not mean avoiding risk altogether. Taking chances is part of any business decision we make. All I’m suggesting is that we increase our awareness and take those risks that are in our best interest.
To support my objectives, I decided to use the same three enablers. If I’m working on an objective, such as being secure, I might ask myself where I’ve come across a similar situation and what knowledge can I apply to it. At times, I may choose to use all three enablers: Focus, Conserve and Learn. At other times, it might only be one.
All too often, we drift when working on an objective. We can easily be distracted and taken off-topic. For this reason, I’ve chosen to add focus as the first enabler. I find that continuously reminding myself through the mantra of “Heathy, Rich, Secure, Focus, Conserve, Learn” helps me avoid drift and the overhead associated with multitasking.
Another enabler that improves productivity is conserving work effort by asking: what is the value-add of the things I am doing concerning my objective? If it isn’t helping with one of my goals, then I try not to do it.
There are two elements to the learn enabler: accumulating knowledge and applying that knowledge. As you will have already gathered, I am a packrat and throw very little away. I am obsessed with learning. I spend time each day to read, and I work very hard to keep current.
Sticking With IT
For me, one of the challenges with the POM is sticking with it in good times. More than once, I’ve found things going better than my wildest dreams only to see things come crashing down.
Let’s face it; when things are going great, we often feel we don’t need the help of a model where we are continually repeating a mantra until you get very tired of it. The truth is, we all need help. This model may help you leverage your subconscious, which is one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal.
Wayne Balardo, CMC, is a semi-retired consultant who obtained a CAAT in Computer Systems Technology from Mohawk College - Hamilton in the early 1970s and then attended York University - Toronto to earn a BAS in accounting and economics in the early 1980s.
Before beginning a career in consulting, he worked in technology and project management during the 1970s and much of the 1980s. In 1986, he started his career as a consultant with DMR Group’s Toronto Office, where he was a Principal Consultant in the Technology Services practice. In the late 1980s, he left DMR to form Balardo Group, which was initially a one-man-band. Over the next 25 years, Balardo Group evolved into a boutique consultancy primarily serving the needs of the five largest Canadian Banks. In December 2016, he sold Balardo Group. After assisting the new owners with the transition to their brand, he retired in April of 2018.