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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Consulting colleagues, I salute you

Before I set off on this speaker/trainer/facilitator/consultant course (there has GOT to be a more concise and evocative word or phrase for this) I called a few of the handful of people in that world I know and respect. I asked for half an hour of their time. Every single one of them instantly agreed.

My questions were pretty direct. What were the upsides and downsides? What was their opinion of the market? How did they advertise? What kind of work was out there? What did they charge? How did they advertise?

And here's the thing. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM answered those questions straight up. No hedging, no trying to lock me out of the market. Many also offered advice beyond my questions. Not one of them charged me for it (although in a couple of cases I offered). 

Why? There are several reasons, I think.

First, these are really quality people. They're smart. They're incisive. They are authentic. But more to the point, they are deeply committed to the proposition that they're supposed to make things better. I like them a lot.

Second, none of the people who work with libraries were worried in the least that the work is going to dry up on them. In fact, they all said that there's more work than there are people who can handle it.

Third, they all knew me. I've been around for a while myself, and I did approach them with respect.

That's not a blanket endorsement for all library consultants, of course. I'm sure there are duds out there, and folks who offer pre-packaged, boiler-plate solutions to problems that are always more complex than that.

It kind of goes back to one of my own tenets: leadership begins with listening. And intelligent questions. And more listening. Then a bunch of thinking.

At any rate, I wanted to give a shout out to the generous souls who have counseled me and welcomed me into their fold. I'm grateful. In particular: Carson Block, Pat Wagner, Nancy Bolt, Joan Frye Williams, and George Needham. Thank you.

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