The Future of Consulting: Opportunities to Advantages with Michael Zipursky #045

Show Notes:

Michael Zipursky has helped over 500 entrepreneurial consultants in 50 industries around the world grow profitable, predictable and strategic consulting businesses, adding six and even seven figures to their annual revenue. He is the CEO and podcast host at Consulting Success and the author of four books on consulting and business growth.

His recent book was the amazon bestseller Act Now: How Successful Consultants Thrive During Chaos and Uncertainty and I’m pleased to announce he has a new book out now called, The Future of Consulting: How to Turn Today’s Opportunities into Tomorrow’s Business Advantage.

Mike is offering the book free for a limited time. The link is below.

For some of you Mike may be familiar from the recent Expert Panel: Becoming Limitless, where he appeared with Nina Cooke and Steve Gordon.

Topics explored:

  • At the start of covid, many were like deer in the headlights
  • Don’t bury your head, act now
  • What is the future of consulting? Not next year, but 3, 5 or 10 years time
  • Interviewed lots of successful consultants; what seeds their planting now to benefit them in the future
  • The most successful ones had a lot of assets already in place
  • Where can I create points of leverage that will serve me and my clients?
  • We truly believe people can be better prepared for future uncertainty
  • It’s not a question of will it happen, it’s only a matter of when
  • Where are you weak or susceptible to attack? Where can you strengthen?
  • All to create more leverage and more opportunity to grow
  • Lean in to your strengths, but ask questions around your weak points
  • If 90% of your business is through referrals, you might see that as a weakness
  • Then you have to ask what can you do about it?
  • The people who suffered the least in this industry had a big list or a community
  • What if things completely changed, how would you navigate it?
  • Better to figure it out before you’re under fear, stress and uncertainty
  • Whether you act on it or not, it’s helpful to have a contingency plan
  • Not just to future proof but spot opportunities in your business today
  • If it’s easier to deliver is it worth less or worth more?
  • Think about any challenge from a different perspective and not just accept it as a setback
  • The way b2b buyers are actually making decisions has changed
  • A lot are making purchasing decisions virtually for far greater sums
  • Lack of focus and being a generalist, huge problem for consultants
  • Most of the people who consistently get work have created content
  • The more steps you take the build your brand, to get content out there, gradually the less you need to specialize
  • To compete at the beginning you need to say, they do five areas, we specialize in just this one, they don’t, so that’s where your advantage is
  • Many establish themselves through simplifying their offerings, not offering too many things to too many different groups at once
  • How do you demonstrate value before even talking to a potential client? Content!
  • Lessons in showing you’re ahead of the curve and you care, from a mentor in Kyoto, Japan
  • Consulting Success podcast has over 45,000 downloads a month


Al McBride 0:07
Welcome to the dealing with goliath podcast. The mission of dealing with goliath is to sharpen the psychological edge and negotiation and high impact conversations for business leaders with skin in the game who want to be more effective under pressure uncover hidden value and increase profitability.

Al McBride 0:25
With expert guests from across the business spectrum we deliver gems of wisdom delving into their methods their thinking and approach to business life and problem solving this is the grand cup of insight long form podcast interview where we take the time to delve a little bit deeper into our guests experiences stories and get those priceless nuggets.

Al McBride 0:46
I’m your host Al McBride and my guest today is Michael Zipursky, Mike has helped over 500 entrepreneurial consultants in 50 industries around the world grow profitable predictable and strategic consulting businesses adding six and even seven figures to their annual revenue he is the ceo and podcast host at Consulting Success and the author of four books on consulting and business growth.

Al McBride 1:16
His recent book was the amazon bestseller Act Now: How successful consultants thrive during chaos and uncertainty and i’m pleased to announce he has a new book out next week called the future of consulting how to turn today’s opportunities into tomorrow’s business advantage as i say that’ll be available from april 6 so the time recording that’s next week so mike great to have you on the show.

Michael Zipursky 1:45
Yeah Al, thanks for having me and great to be with you always enjoy our conversations

Al McBride 1:49
Absolutely and just to reference back i very much enjoyed our expert panel discussion there a few months few weeks back and so i’ve been very keen to have you on the show so thanks thanks for joining us.

Al McBride 2:02
Tell us that’s a very interesting book title is it really sparking some interesting thoughts my head there talk us through what the premises and what what’s in there why you felt the need to write it too

Michael Zipursky 2:18
Sure so i’ll take us one step back april of 2020 you know kind of the height of COVID at least in north america where we saw a lot of people just really acting almost like deer looking into the headlights of a car right frozen a lot of uncertainty a lot of chaos a lot of fear not knowing how to navigate the the challenges presented in the business environment and this is you know was certainly true throughout the whole world at different times as COVID started to really extend its tentacles you know throughout the globe and at that time i knew i really truly believed that the best path forward was not to wait was not to you know put your head in the sand and hope that things get better.

Michael Zipursky 3:03
The best path forward was to take real action you know hence the name Act Now for the book and so in about three weeks together with our team we went from concept of the book to getting the book and publishing it and putting it out there into the world in about three weeks time and that book was really a collection of interviews and best practices of what people were doing you know and what we were also doing in our own business to navigate the challenges during that that really you know challenging time.

Michael Zipursky 3:34
And so here we are you know almost april of 2021 right one year later and i think a lot of people are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel certainly many places you know across europe and elsewhere are still locked down are still you know with a lot of roadblocks in front of them.

Michael Zipursky 3:55
But other places in the world are certainly starting to open up and i think that as vaccinations rollout right people are starting to kind of see that light now that’s exciting and it’s wonderful and it’s you know hopefully we can celebrate that. However i think is also dangerous and the reason why i say it is dangerous is because very often people are now already thinking about their startup kind of think a little bit about the future.

Michael Zipursky 4:17
But they’re not necessarily thinking about what are the lessons that we can learn from what’s just happened over the last year and so the whole idea of the future of consulting is to really help people get clear on what can the future potentially look like. So i’m not talking about 12 months from today i’m talking about three years five years 10 years down the road.

Michael Zipursky 4:34
What are the business of professional advice and professional services whether you’re in coaching consulting or you know art dealing we know what might that dynamic look like and and then what can we learn from what’s happened over the last 12 months or so and so the whole premise of the book where we you know compiled a lot of data.

Michael Zipursky 4:52
We interviewed a lot of successful consultants and asked you know what are you what have you changed in your business but what also are you thinking Thinking might the future look like? And what do you do to start plant? Start to, you know, what are you doing in terms of planting seeds now that can benefit you down the road and in the future? And so the idea is how do you future proof your business?

Michael Zipursky 5:10
How do you take the steps today that will not only benefit your business now, but will really set you up for a lot more stability in the future. Because if I look back, and kind of analyze the most successful people that I know, or just people who have been successful throughout this pandemic, to this point, they’re people who didn’t just start taking action at the time that the pandemic started.

Michael Zipursky 5:13
They’re the most successful people are those that had already planted the right seeds, in terms of relationships, or their business structure, or they had already moved things online well before the pandemic started. And so they already had a lot of these these assets in place. And so they were able to weather the storm more, you know, much more successfully. And without all the bumps in the road that others had, it doesn’t mean they didn’t have challenges they certainly did. But they were able to overcome them. The future of consulting is about getting very clear on when we think about the future of this business. What can you actually start doing today? From so for example, you I’m gonna kind of go into view of the

Al McBride 6:14
So if someone was in that in that position, whether however, well they weathered the storm, as you said, they’re they’re somewhat entrepreneurial consultants. And they’re thinking, yeah, now I’m, as you say, things are brightening up, we’re coming out light at the end of the tunnel stuff, right? I want to do something now that will, that will, will build good things for me going forward in the future, as opposed to what I have been doing maybe up to this point,

Michael Zipursky 6:44
work, because here’s the other thing, right? I mean, there’s been economic collapses in the past, there will be economic collapses in the future, there’s been pandemics in the past, there will be another pandemic in the future. And so I think, for people to only, you know, look at the the light at the end of the tunnel now and go, Oh, we’re, you know, we’re getting through this, it’s back to business as usual, or at least I can just kind of continue operating without thinking about, and identifying what are the potential weak points in my business, that I can work on strengthening now?

Michael Zipursky 7:14
Or where can I create greater leverage that will not only serve my business, but of course, you know, my clients and, and set me up for success in the future. That’s what the future of consulting is all about. And that’s why we want to get that out into the world. And we’re offering the book for free when we first get out there, because we really believe that people can be significantly more prepared for future uncertainty.

Michael Zipursky 7:39
And it’s not a question of, you know, if it will happen, it’s only a matter of when, and so looking back at the people who were again, able to navigate very successfully, they’re the ones that took steps to think about the future and set themselves up for success. And I think now is a really great opportunity for everyone to look at what that I maybe not do that well, or what area My business is susceptible to, you know, to an attack or to, to some weakness?

Michael Zipursky 8:05
And how can I start to fortify that and how to kind of start to strengthen that and put the right, you know, strategies, processes systems in place. So that there’s, I have a lot more leverage, and I have a lot more opportunity to grow. And so that when those challenging times do come back, because they will, you’ll be significantly ahead of others in the industry, which will not only allow you to, you know, deal with those moments a lot better, but you’ll actually be able to grow.

Al McBride 8:32
Absolutely, you’re reminded me of, you know, Nassim Taleb, his book, anti fragile, was talking about, you know, fragility, and the opposite isn’t resilient, because resilience is like, you know, bamboo, it just cracks back to where it was before, which is pretty good, better than being fragile. But then he talked about anti fragile, which gives the example of as muscle.

Al McBride 8:54
So with work, it actually grows, it doesn’t stay the same or go back to where it was. And that’s what it sounds like you’re doing is making businesses more robust, but actually to be able to take advantage of these situations. I would suggest also, I would add to just, you know, you know, the next pandemic could be decades and decades away, hopefully. But it’s just any industry uncertainty. Right?

Al McBride 9:23
You know, like, a huge as you have the perfect example, a huge amount of people who are used to working in person and not moving a lot of their stuff restructures to work online, just as you said, like, I was looking at a lot of people to contract with me that we do quite a lot of trainings online, and that’s what we were able to move into that. So it’s a little bit easier than a lot of others. So, and that’s just one example that as you said, so it’s it’s fascinating stuff.

Al McBride 9:50
So what are the things can people do what else comes out in that book, so we’ll get the idea if they’re on board with future proofing and they’re on board with being anti fragile. One thing I would just ask you on actually, so just before I forget, was you were talking about bringing up and improving people’s weak areas. And this is more of a general philosophical question. But where do you feel they should, at compound their strengths versus bring up their weaknesses? I need to ask.

Michael Zipursky 10:20
No, I mean, it’s a really great question and it’s one that I talk with clients quite a bit. And the idea is, I do believe that it’s much more effective to focus on your your strengths, rather than trying to compensate for your weaknesses, right. However, at the same time, this exercise is not so much about looking at your, your personal weaknesses, or, you know, so for example, if you’re really great at videos, but you really don’t like the eye, you know, you’re not good at writing.

Michael Zipursky 10:27
I’m not, I’m not suggesting to you try and get better at writing, because you’re already good at videos. That’s right. So lean into your strengths. Don’t try and compensate for your weaknesses, this exercise is to ask yourself, you know, what happens? So let’s just take the example with with COVID. If your business 90% of your revenue is generated from giving in person talks? Well, if you did an assessment on that, you might think, well, what happens if I wasn’t able to give an in person talk?

Michael Zipursky 11:13
What would I do? And so now we can say the same thing? Like, what if I’m generally most of my business online, and most of my business comes from, you know, meetings that I that I have been going to, or most of my business just comes through referrals, and my network, like, 90% of my business comes from referrals of my network, you might identify that as a weakness. And so because what if all of a sudden, you know, there’s a big challenge in an economic challenge, and those referrals start to dry up, or you decide to move someplace where those referrals aren’t gonna be beneficial to you.

Michael Zipursky 11:47
So just as an example, you might identify them, that would be the weak point. So what would you then do to overcome that, so that then the exercise would have you think, Okay, well, one way to overcome that would be to start to build a community, so that you aren’t so reliant only on referrals, and and your network, you start to create a community where you are seen as a leader, where you can demonstrate value, where you where you can have regular contact with people who actually want to help and serve.

Michael Zipursky 12:12
And that now accelerates and amplifies the amount of referrals that you can get, but also the amount of people who are your ideal clients that you are in, you know, quote, unquote, direct, whether it’s virtual or in person, but but direct contact with on a regular basis. And this is just one example, where we saw play out, where the people who suffered the least in the last 12 months are those who actually had a big list, right, they had a community that had a way to tap into, or to connect with those that they want to do business with, there wasn’t much tension or friction, in order for them to reach those people.

Michael Zipursky 12:46
Whereas those who did not have a list, who had typically gotten their business, just from word of mouth, or referrals, or through some other agency, and whatever it might be, if they didn’t have already a captive audience, if they didn’t have a community, and they just had to start building it, it took them a lot longer to start seeing results. Whereas, you know, if you’re able to like, in our case, we have an audience, we’re able to send an email.

Michael Zipursky 13:09
And if we want to offer some kind of online training, or we want to offer an event, or we want to offer a new program, or whatever I be, we can do that at any time. And we know that we’re going to, you know, we’ll make sales from that we’ll be able to, to get a positive impact, you know, how positive depends on what the offer is, and so on and so forth. But having that community is, is the asset and so that that’s the whole idea of this exercise, to identify, you know, where what’s working in your business? and ask yourself,

Michael Zipursky 13:35
Well, what if that didn’t work? What if something completely changed? How could we navigate it, and the idea is not that you have to necessarily make the changes. But even just being in a position where you are prepared to make the changes, you’ve thought through those changes, you have a plan of action, or a backup plan that you could bring to the table is really powerful. Because, you know, imagine if that situation does happen, and you you’ve never thought about it, you never spent the time considering?

Michael Zipursky 14:02
How could you navigate that? Well, now you have to spend the time, and that could take a long, you know, a long while to actually think through and figure out. And then you add to that, that usually when you when you’re in that period of stress or kind of you know, there’s fear and there’s uncertainty, you don’t do your best thinking all the time, right? You’re, you’re just trying to how do I cut costs?

Michael Zipursky 14:21
Or how do I save? Or how do I, you know, have enough cash flow and, and all these kinds of things that start to pop up, you know, deal with a team and so forth. But if you already have a plan of action, you’ve talked through it with your team, or if you don’t have a team you fought through it, it’s much easier to put that into action. So whether you actually act on it, or you at least prepare for it. This is something that most business owners don’t do. Therefore, it creates an advantage for you well into the future.

Al McBride 14:44
It’s a very interesting exercise because it’s something that with a lot of my one to one clients, I’d worked them through the business model canvas. And in that one page, they often say, Oh, wow, I’m really vulnerable right here through maybe it’s the channel for their clients or whatever, maybe it’s a major supplier of one of the things, you know, if maybe they’re not consultants, but you know, there’s it shows where suddenly Oh, this huge opportunity over there, though.

Al McBride 15:12
So it’s that same psychological approach, isn’t it, it’s where you’re, you’re seeing, oh, I’m vulnerable here. But hold on, there’s a massive opportunity here, actually, that not enough people are doing just yet. So it sounds like you can quickly flip some of these, some of them here as again, are okay, they’re making you safer to have that contingency plan. But I’d imagine, maybe I’m jumping the gun here, but it actually highlights some pretty big opportunities to does it,

Michael Zipursky 15:38
it does. And that’s why the exercise can not only be beneficial to, you know, to future proof your business, right, you know, for the future, but but also, you can get benefits and value from it today. You know, it can be extremely empowering, to see things differently, you know, sometimes people I’ve had many conversations with, with clients in our coaching program, who will, you know, they have shifted to doing online work and their initial kind of status quo mindset is, oh, I have to lower my fees, because I’m delivering, you know, virtually, I don’t have to, you know, now, travel, I don’t have to, you know, actually go and deliver.

Michael Zipursky 16:16
Therefore, the value somehow might be less, but it’s the exact opposite. I mean, you know, by by shifting how you think, and looking at every situation and not going with the status quo, and just, you know, looking at it from a different perspective, and actually asking yourself, Well, what could be the strength here, what could actually be the advantage here? And so if we take the example of you, maybe you used to go and do a lot of corporate training, and now you’re doing it virtually?

Michael Zipursky 16:37
So you might think, initially, well, I’m not doing the in person training, therefore, it’s, you know, more efficient, and so I should charge less, and so on, so on. But But hold on a minute, by, you know, delivering corporate training, do you now have the undoing of virtually Do you not have the ability to, to break it up? And so rather than doing a full day, where everyone’s exhausted by the end of it, what if you can now break that up over a few days, right? Does that actually increase the value? And what does that now because your virtual gives you the ability to add some ongoing coaching or some check ins, because and so does that add value?

Michael Zipursky 16:38
Well, of course it does. Because oftentimes, with training, right, you deliver something, people consume it, but the next day, or the next week, they forgotten or out of it, right? Yeah. And so implementation is a really big challenge. And by by now being virtual, it means that you can actually provide a lot more implementation support a lot more advisory services, a lot more guidance. And so the value that you’re actually able to create and deliver increases, it doesn’t decrease.

Michael Zipursky 17:32
So even if someone isn’t going to apply this idea of what kind of pricing strategy or pricing mindset, I would just encourage people to think about any challenge or any belief that they have, from a different perspective, and not just go Oh, yeah, I guess we have to lower this or change this, you know, how can you do it differently? Be creative, be open minded, this is oftentimes what what helps you to identify the biggest opportunities for improvement in your business?

Al McBride 17:58
It’s a great point. And just to reiterate, on that training example, you really hit the nail on the head that way I couldn’t do for their trainings, they wouldn’t. Nobody wants them, they It’s exhausting on zoom. So 90 minute blocks, but as you said, What’s the advantage of that? Well, you get people to do reflect even just reflection work, nevermind an exercise between them, and it embeds the stuff.

Al McBride 18:21
So it makes it more likely that they’ll actually apply it and use it over time, which makes it a more effective training. So that if that’s what you’re getting paid for, you’ve just made your your whole working model more effective, just by separating them out nearly rather than having to add anything new. So, no, I’m completely with you on that one. So when when you started to write this? How did that develop? I mean, did it was pretty much exactly what you thought it would be all the way through? Or did you actually just like this it? What did you as he went through, did you notice opportunities yourself to actually explore down different avenues in the book?

Michael Zipursky 19:01
Yeah, I mean, so a lot of it was just coming from what we were observing in our own business, as well as working with with many clients throughout this whole process and seeing where the opportunities were, where the potential challenges were. And then in addition to many of the conversations that I’ve had, with colleagues with other successful consultants, and so part of this, you know, there’s part a lot of research in terms of just different statistics and what different organizations are seeing in their studies that we can pull on and we can actually say, this is not just an idea, this is actually happening, the waves of another one example that we found was, you know, the way that b2b buyers are actually making buying decisions has changed.

Michael Zipursky 19:41
You know, previously the way that buyers that you know, that someone would not necessarily make, say yes, to a large you know, order virtually right without meeting in person for for 50,000 or $500,000 or euros or whatever it might be, but but the number of b2b decision makers who are actually Saying yes or and making decisions virtually has increased significantly, right. So this now allows for so much more opportunity. It’s just a different way of doing business, people’s mindsets.

Michael Zipursky 20:13
And the way that they operate has actually shifted. It’s not just, you know, going back to normal things have changed. And we see that there’s so many organizations around the world big and small, who are have shifted to virtual, like, they’re not going back to the way that things were. You know, Shopify is one great example of this, or there’s many, I think that many companies have come out and said, We are not going back to full time in office, you know, 1000s of people, that’s gone, it’s done. And so this creates all kinds of new opportunities, all kinds of new dynamics. And so this is, these are the kinds of things that we wanted to introduce to the reader so that they can start to think about how can I benefit from this? How can I, you know, learn from this?

Michael Zipursky 20:57
How can I apply what I’m seeing here. And so we did that summons from the research and studies, some, it’s from our own experiences, stories from clients, and then other parts is taken from interviews and conversations with other successful consultants in terms of what they’ve been doing, what they’ve been seeing, and what they believe the future will look like. And so we we’ve taken all of this together, and then kind of condensed it into here’s what you should start thinking about, here’s what the future will look like, here’s what you want to, you know, prepare for, and consider and do now.

Al McBride 21:28
Wow. going on there, just as a step, step back for just one moment on that into the boot camps, because you’ve known a huge amount of consultants at different stages in their business evolution, if you will. And you’ve been, as I said, in the intro, a catalyst to a lot of people making substantial leaps in their in their revenue progress, at the very least. What do you see as opportunity when you meet consultants? And, as you said, a lot of them I would imagine, are living by referrals, which is a bit a little bit quite precarious. And maybe it’s usually that that they have a problem when they see whoever when they see. And they want to get out of that precarious situation? What are some of those common misunderstandings that they, when they arrived here that they often have? Yeah, I

Michael Zipursky 22:21
mean, we we need a whole day session and more right to go over all them. But I think you know, so there’s many, you know, One very common one is, is a lack of focus. So, you know, starting off and being too much of a generalist, and not really committing to an area of specialization, an area, an area where they can stand out, and I believe that this will continue to become more and more important, because the number of competitors, the amount of noise in the industry, and just, you know, in the world has, has increased, and it will continue to increase, because it’s easier than it’s ever been, for people to create content for people to, you know, put kind of put their shingle on the door and say, I’m open for business.

Michael Zipursky 23:07
And so the more noise there is, the harder it is to stand out. And the way that you stand out is, is not by being a generalist, right is by kind of putting your, you know, your, your pitch into the ground and saying this is this is what I want to be known for, this is my area, what I you know, I really wanted to demonstrate value and be a leader. And that’s, that’s one big one. Another one is, I would say, failure or resistance, and hesitation when it comes to marketing and sales. And so I’m not talking about being a hardcore high pressure salesperson, nobody likes that, especially in the consulting industry, because that’s an industry really based on developing relationships and delivering value.

Michael Zipursky 23:49
But when you look at those who are truly successful, and are able to weather, you know, challenging market environments, or or downturns, there are those who have really taken the steps or they’ve taken action, they’ve planted the seeds, when it comes to, to marketing and to promoting, not themselves, but promoting content promoting value.

Michael Zipursky 24:14
And that I think, is, again, something that a lot of people hesitate on, they try and kind of get by, they go Yeah, I don’t really, I don’t really want to write articles, or I don’t really want to, you know, have a podcast or do videos, I just kind of want I just want to do the work or you know, and so they know deep down inside that the marketing and sales is important, but they don’t fully commit to it. And while we can always find examples of people who have done very little marketing, right, they’ve been successful. They just get referrals.

Michael Zipursky 24:42
There’s always people like that. However, if you really dig deeper below that what you’ll find is most of those people have also created content. Maybe they’ve written a book, maybe they have a podcast, maybe they’ve they’ve put out white papers or articles, but but they’ve done some form of what some people call thought leadership and then Got it pretty consistently. And so that is, I think the big opportunity for a lot of people is to just look and say, Yeah, you’re going to need to do that at some point or another. And if you want to see results sooner than then lean into it.

Michael Zipursky 25:16
So if you know, we kind of think about a bit of a scale or a diagram here, it’s like Higher, higher levels of input early on, right will get you the result that you want, sooner or faster. And if you put lesson, you’re going to have to do less for a much longer period of time, right in order to get the result that you want. So you can just choose, right, if you really want to see results sooner commit to putting in the work, if you don’t want to put in that work early on, just know that it’s going to take longer.

Michael Zipursky 25:46
But I do believe that there will be a real separation or a bigger gap between those who have success and those who don’t, because those who truly demonstrate leadership and are able to build a community and to build a brand will receive an exponential amount of attention, then therefore business. And this is not just I think it’s I don’t believe that’s just my belief, because if we look at science, if you look at nature, you know that the Pareto principle right 80 20 proves the scientific, ethically that it’s always going to be that in any given market, this can be a very small percentage of people who will dominate that market and receive the vast majority of the business, and everyone else is kind of left fighting for the scraps. And so that’s the opportunity for people is to go, Okay, what market do I really want to own? Even if it’s something small as a starting point? What do I What do I want to dominate

Al McBride 26:37
Blue ocean strategy? Yeah, absolutely. Don’t don’t compete, carve out your own market, known it? Yeah, absolutely. 100%. And so

Michael Zipursky 26:45
that would be my encouragement. And I know I’m making it a long path to get to answer your question here. But that’s where I see the opportunity for for people. And I’m just, I really hope that people will grasp that embrace it and act on it.

Al McBride 27:00
It’s very interesting that the thought leadership and the what a friend of mine would always refer to as vertical specialization, we always have this discussion slash argument on what level of specialization is required, but that I’m completely with you. Because this you know, this is why I am not a negotiation trainer, I am not a coach, I am a I am a coach in this psychological edge of negotiation.

Al McBride 27:27
So it’s a quite a split particular niche, you know, and that was exactly that thinking. And that’s where the podcast came from, as well. So I, I’m completely with you on that one. Just on that idea of vertical specialization. I know, again, it’s a huge topic. But how do you how would you encourage people to go well, how do I know when I’m specialized enough versus maybe even too much dare I say,

Michael Zipursky 27:53
Yeah, because we get to that question, the way that that I think about this is, the more energy, the more effort, the more that you create. So the more that you really take steps to build your brand to get content out there out there to be known, the less that you actually need to specialize. So I’ll just I’ll reword this, to say the idea of negotiation, right?

Michael Zipursky 28:18
There’s a lot of consultants or firms out there that you know, work in the negotiation space, and you can find probably the most successful of those don’t only work, they don’t just offer like negotiation for, you know, police departments, like, you know, they’re they’re doing a lot of things, well, how can they do that, if you look at how they can do that, it’s because their brand is recognized, they’re known in the industry, and how have they gotten there?

Michael Zipursky 28:40
Well, they got there because the key person has written a best selling book, or they got there because the key person or you know, the brand, or someone in volved, in the organization does a lot of speaking, or because they were used to work at a big company and have a vast network. So there’s something going on, that allows them to, to receive the majority stake of the market share and have the attention, which therefore allows them to, to really win business without being as specialized.

Michael Zipursky 29:13
But now imagine that you have to compete with that same firm. Well, saying that you can offer the exact same service services as that firm isn’t going to work very well because they already have that, you know, the the advantage, they’re already better known than you are. So in order for you to compete with that firm, it would be wise to think about what can you either do offer or position that is different from them, you can then say as an example, yes, they do negotiate negotiation for these five different industries, we only focus on this one we specialize, which means that we spend all of our time all of our attention all of our research, you know, so on so on, so on, in this which provide, which means that you’re gonna have the latest, the greatest the best, you know, so on so on, so on.

Michael Zipursky 29:55
Therefore, now you’ve created an advantage that they don’t have, but if you Try to say, Hey, we’re the small guys, we only, you know specialize in this one area. And someone else’s like, that’s what I’m getting is you can’t necessarily look at the success that somebody else has where they’re a little bit broader and more general and say, if they’re doing I can do it too, because you want to reverse engineer and think about how do they actually get to where they are.

Michael Zipursky 30:20
And most likely, it’s because they’ve invested a lot more time energy, right, and probably money as well into taking the brand and the business to that higher level. So it is more recognized. And that’s why you will also find in most cases, but the most successful firms, companies in any different industry start off with a very specialized offering. And as they had more success, they started to add on additional offerings, but they started with with something very, very focused. And there’s a great book on this topic called it’s called simplify by Richard Kosh. He’s also the same guy there. Yeah. Okay.

Al McBride 30:58
I see the chairs over.

Michael Zipursky 31:00
Yeah, there’s a lot of great examples and case studies of businesses, who essentially did that that exact same thing, the way that they were able to create that advantage was because they simplified they didn’t try and do too many things at once.

Al McBride 31:14
It’s, it’s a, it’s a fascinating area. And yeah, thank you for that. That deep dive explanation there because it is one of those things, where does people hear these terms? They and the what, what we talked about before the people are reluctant to let go of things that seem to be working. You know, as you said, the referrals, referrals work when people hand you money handling clients, and how did you Gosh, that’s great.

Al McBride 31:42
It’s the fact that you’re, you’re on thin ice is the fact that it’s not reliable, that we’re talking about, it’s just it’s very interesting how you’re brought in the thought leadership again, it’s another term that’s, that’s, that’s thrown around a lot these days. Okay, it’s about creating content. But what else do you feel is required for someone to become a thought leader? Yeah, the term but the point is to gain the benefit of being recognized in your space, we’ll put it that way. But what does one need to do to get that kind of to be seen in that way?

Michael Zipursky 32:19
Yeah, I mean, I think there’s there’s several factors. So one we talked about is content, right? The more content you put out in whatever format, it’s in content is essentially one of the best ways to demonstrate your value and your expertise before you have a conversation with someone. So when you work with a client, of course, you can demonstrate your value and expertise because you’re doing the work. Another way, is to have a conversation before someone becomes a client when they’re a buyer, because you can ask really great questions. And you can again, demonstrate value and expertise.

Michael Zipursky 32:46
But before you engage before you actually can talk with the buyer, how do you how do you demonstrate value and expertise? Well, that’s content. So content would be one factor. The other factor is relationships, right? So the stronger that you, you develop a relationship, the more that you kind of strengthen that and cultivate it and foster it. That also helps you to, to position yourself because you become a trusted person, right? If if you have a relationship with someone, there’s trust there. Then another factor is just being known as, as someone who is able to see around corners.

Michael Zipursky 33:18
And what I mean by that is, I’ll give you a quick kind of example, when I was building our business in Japan, one of my mentors, and it was more yes on. And he was the managing director of a large Japanese advertising agency. And this was many, many years ago, but he would go and he would clip out newspaper articles, you know, every morning, and he would either fax them over to clients or prospective clients, or he would take them like I remember going to a meeting at a company called shimadzu.

Michael Zipursky 33:44
Once in Kyoto in Japan, and he we sat down at the table talking to them about, you know, some work we were going to do with them. And he just took out like a couple of articles there. Oh, yeah. Look at this, I wanted you see this, that of course, he’s building a relationship, of course, he’s providing value. But what he’s also doing is he’s showing them that he is ahead of the curve, and he’s able to, you know, he’s on top of what’s going on in the industry.

Michael Zipursky 34:07
And that’s a really great way to quote unquote, sell because you’re not selling anything, but the buyer or prospective buyer sees you as a true authority in that industry as a real expert, because you’re bringing value to them that others aren’t. You’re empowering them right you’re helping to see things and think about things that they likely haven’t thought about or seen themselves.

Al McBride 34:27
Finally, just have a what I want to hear when you’re saying that is exactly that, that so many people are stuck in reaction. Then there’s people who just taking action and then they’re at the top of every field of human endeavor. It’s those who anticipate so exactly that seeing around those corners. Yeah, fantastic stuff. Well, thank you so much, Michael. It has been a fabulous conversation.

Al McBride 34:52
Great energy and I’m very much looking forward to having a deep dive read into that book. So I will post the links to it under this under the podcast and under the video and i think everyone should read it if you’ve any interested in consultancy or working consultancy it is hugely valuable i’ve read some of your previous books and they are super so best to look with it

Michael Zipursky 35:16
thanks so much i really appreciate it so

Al McBride 35:17
just to say where can people learn more about you if they if they want to follow up with you

Michael Zipursky 35:22
yeah so consulting is kind of the home base for everything if you want a bit of a deeper dive into some of our best content that we’ve kind of compiled over the years you go to consulting success calm forward slash blueprint and that’ll get you a 47 page guide with some of our top articles and you’ll also get a few emails after that where i go deeper into my story of building consulting businesses and you feel free to unsubscribe from that for those emails you know if they’re not relevant for you but i think you’ll find them pretty amusing i get pretty open about my experiences the good the bad the ugly so yeah that’s over at consulting ford slash blueprint

Al McBride 36:03
excellent and don’t forget the podcasts of course

Michael Zipursky 36:07

Al McBride 36:08
we got some success podcasts at supercell

Michael Zipursky 36:10
you’ll you’ll find them you find that out on any podcast here but if you also want to consulting success calm you can see the podcast there and yeah i mean we’re just really loving where where that’s going and feel pretty surprised and and you know excited and honored admins i think we had over 45,000 downloads a month last month or in the last little 30 days and it just keeps growing every month so it’s it’s really exciting

Al McBride 36:37
photo stuff best of luck mike thanks talk to you soon thanks so much cheers

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