These aren’t my words. Still Crazy After All These Years is the fourth studio album by Paul Simon. Recorded in 1975, the album produced four US Top 40 hits, “Gone at Last” (#23), “My Little Town” (#9, credited to Simon & Garfunkel), “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover” (#1) and the title track (#40). It won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1976.
These words remind me of the faces I saw as I told my colleagues I was giving up my safe, secure, and reliable pay check back in 1986. That’s the year I went over the corporate wall and started my first consulting practice. They all thought I was crazy. My company morphed over the years as did technology. Computer Graphic Solutions, Inc. changed it’s services and name to Leavy Consulting, Inc. and then again into ComputerHelp, Inc. As the web started taking over the technology world we changed again from John Leavy, LLC. to our current moniker InPlainSite Marketing, LLC.
If you haven’t read Spencer Johnson’s “Who Moved My Cheese” you had better download it and read it over the weekend. It’s a quick read chock full of good advice. It talks about the importance of changing in changing times.
And these times are changing more than some of us want. The economy seems to be good for some businesses and horrible for others. For me, the economy is a personal thing. If I have room on my debit card to fill my gas tank and my iPhone is loaded with enough money to buy my morning tall, decaf Americano my economy is not on the brink of collapse.
I think our business is strong right now because we’ve learned some things over the years. Here’s a brief list:
1. If your clients and you are not talking, there’s something wrong. Either you think you’re too busy to talk and are ignoring them, they’re upset and don’t want to hear the sound of your voice or they are fed up and are looking for a change. There’s no good reason not to stay in touch with those that are paying your salary.
2. Be thankful you’re employed. If you’re one of the lucky ones who have work these days enjoy the season, work hard, deliver your products or services early, exceed their expectations and never take your clients for granted.
3. Stay away from opportunities that are not really opportunities. When we get hungry for work we tend to fall into the trap where we think we can do anything. No one can do everything well. Don’t let yourself fall into this trap. Stick with your core competencies and do what you do best.
4. Stay engaged with your connectors. Who or what are your connectors? They are those people that seem to always refer you to others when you talk. One of the best things I’ve done over the years is to develop a list of my ten connectors. Each time I meet with one of these people and tell them what we’re up to they always seem to say…Hey, you need to meet so-and-so. Develop a short list of these people and stay in touch: in person, by phone, by email or with social media – they’re invaluable.
5. Don’t hide out. When work is lean is not the best time to stay out of sight. It’s no fun telling your peers that times are tough or work is scarce. Networking with people turns over leads. Networking means listening and not talking. Ask people what their companies are up to. What issues are they trying to over come? What barriers are keeping them from being more profitable? Perhaps you can do them a favor and connect them with someone that can help. Later on, they may return the favor.
6. Mentors are invaluable, critical to your success. After 26 years in the consulting business I still value my mentors. I have formed lasting relationships with a few business people I can confide in and seek their advice. No one can build their business in a vacuum. Ferret out these people and ask for their help. Most people that have made it are always willing to give the next guy a hand up.
I hope what I’ve learn over the years helps you. I guess that’s why I’m still crazy after all these years. Crazy to do what I love – help people understand and apply technology to their business problems.
If there’s a valuable lesson that you have learned and I did not mention, comment here and let us all share in your experience.