In the first 90 days of Food Improved Consulting Group, I have learned a great deal. I can’t say most of the lessons were centered around food quality and safety, but rather they were centered around human interaction and camaraderie.
You have cheerleaders out there that you don’t even know exist.
A couple of things happen when you announce a new company on LinkedIn. Your closest colleagues will be the first to comment, like, share, and follow. They get your momentum going for the online algorithms. But who stokes your internal momentum? Those are your cheerleaders. They may be friends from grad school that call with well wishes and promises to send business your way. They might be professionals that you have worked with in previous roles that want to understand your business fully so they know when they can use you. Both are heartwarming. But there is a very special cheerleader that is your connection you haven’t heard from in 20 years but they have been watching your career from afar and have reached out to say they know you are where you need to be. We all have these cheerleaders and we are likely stalking someone ourselves and cheering them on silently.
I will say from experience, I will no longer cheer silently.
I will reach out because that quick note or phone call is an immense vote of confidence when you sit alone in your office and launch a new adventure. Thank you to everyone that boosted me up.
There is more than enough work to go around….it isn’t a zero sum game.
The first group in my professional network that I reached out to were other consultants. I wanted to hear their stories and understand their trajectories. They were excited for me and each shared lessons learned along the way. The biggest lesson being that there is plenty of work to go around. To build on that, during my first 90 days I watched as the tech sector led the way in layoffs and other industries also tightened their belts and let many full-time employees go. As sad as that is to experience, it doesn’t mean there is less work to do, but rather the opportunity to do it on a project by project basis. I was watching the labor pool shrink and the demand for work product remain the same. In my first week of work I farmed out 3 projects that were outside of my expertise but fit well with other consultants. Deposit in the karma bank: check!
Stage fright is still a real thing.
I’m woman enough to admit that I’m more of a watch the movie, rather than read the book kind of gal. The same goes for my penchant for creating videos rather than lengthy written LinkedIn posts. For me videos are the way I like to connect with people–you see, hear, absorb inflection, and register body language. I learned that I am definitely in the minority! So many people reached out to say they love the videos but they don’t think they could ever do it. My advice: market yourself the way you enjoy—those vibes come through! (And a good ring light never hurt anyone.)
Storytelling is a valuable skill.
Once upon a time, I sat through a number of storytelling workshops at professional meetings. They are usually centered around telling a story with your data, rather than reporting a bunch of statistical findings. That is a useful skill but I think that is only the tip of the iceberg. We live in an age of fast information and fast decision making. If the facts presented are two-dimensional they may be easy to understand, but fall short of communicating the magnitude of a problem or solution. However, if the audience can be immersed in a scenario where they can discover opportunities, stumble over hurdles, and bask in a success the facts will be understood, remembered, and register as much more impactful information. Storytelling gives strangers the ability to meet half-way, to try things on, and play out possibilities. The more we can storytell the smaller the planet gets, the more trust that is built, and the more collaboration happens. We all lived happily ever after. The End.