In late February 2001 at 7.30 at night I got fired on the phone. As I remember it was raining. I was Executive Vice President and Partner of an advertising agency. Who cares? Four days later I had my Hank Blank business cards and my consulting career began. I knew a lot about working but I knew absolutely nothing about consulting.
Thus began one of the most interesting and exciting and frightening decades of my life as I totally reinvented what I do and how I do it. I have created ten years of income and self employment.
As readers of my blog know, I do a lot of networking. This is what I see. Some of the very capable people that I network with have now been out of work for going on two years. They face questions from hiring managers asking them why they haven’t been hired in a long time. If those hiring manager were in transition they could be in the same boat but since they have a job they get to ask the stereotypical questions not aligned with today’s reality.
It doesn’t appear things on the job front are going to improve or change in the immediate future. There are still jobs but robust job hunting may never return. This recession started in the middle of 2007 is entering its fourth year.
Ten years ago I started my career basically in a year of recession. It was a few months before 9/11. I have been able to survive for ten years, paid my mortgage, raised a couple of great kids but I had to totally reinvent myself. I was wired for working but not wired for consulting and creating a job for myself each and every day. I had to totally reinvent my skills to have a consulting practice.
The job I had in advertising ten years ago as a Senior New Business person doesn’t exist in large numbers anymore like many other jobs. It went the way of overhead machines, acetates, receptionists, and vacations. In ten years I have heard about two openings with that title. There are plenty of Junior jobs but not the job that I had.
I am going to write a blog or two on developing a consulting career. First consulting is not for the faint of heart. As I mentioned you have to create a job for yourself each and every day. A consultant is basically perpetually unemployed. That is why I relate to people in transition. They are constantly hunting for work and I am constantly hunting for work.
Then there are no benefits, no healthcare insurance and no vacations unless you succeed and can provide those benefits for yourself or your partner can provide them. No car allowance, no expense accounts, no bonuses unless you earn enough to provide those perks.
The first capability you need to have to succeed as a consultant if the ability to adapt and reinvent yourself. Recently I have been speaking in Calgary, Washington D.C. and Palm Springs on New Business Development and Networking. I will be speaking in Baton Rouge, Scottsdale, Orange County and other cities later this month. Ten years ago I didn’t speak to companies and organizations about networking.
I recently completed an agency review for a client. Ten years ago I didn’t do agency reviews. I had been in plenty but never been paid to conduct them. I have done reviews for companies such as Jenny Craig, Villeroy & Boch, Raley’s Supermarkets and Jacuzzi.
Reinvention is key to successful consulting. If my skills were the same as ten years ago I would be in dire straits. Are you reinventing yourself or are you staying the same and getting left behind?
More to come.
You can connect with Hank on Linkedin
Follow his updates on twitter @hankblank
Watch his videos on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/user/MrHankblank