4 things a consultant should always have with them

This month marks my 30th year as a consultant.  In that time I have consumed my share of articles and lectures on how to be a better project manager, facilitate client meetings more efficiently, and even how to take a client to lunch. While those skills are important, there are some fundamentals I frequently share with clients and colleagues alike.  

Top 4 Things a Consultant Should Always Have With Them:
  • Notebook & Pen – You never know when you will need to document a discussion, capture a client’s urgent request, or spontaneously have a thought or ideas for how to improve a proposal or presentation. Early in my career I learned that trying to remember everything is a fools errand, and that there is no faster way to damage a friend, colleague or client relationship than forgetting to follow up on a request or commitment. Over the years the tools and processes I use to capture, review and act on my notes has changed, but I always have a small notebook handy so the idea is never lost. 
  • Engaging answer to the question, “What do you do?” – Be prepared to respond with a sincere, engaging statement about who you are and what you do.  Every time you meet someone you are presented with an opportunity to establish a new connection. It is up to you to make that opportunity count. Develop an introduction that succinctly tells something about yourself, with an emphasis on how you provide value to your client.  “Hello, my name is Oliver Siodmak and as a Director in Deloitte Digital, I help our clients globally transform the way they market, engage and service their customers on the web.  I have helped companies around the world generate significant additional revenue and increased customer satisfaction through a well planned digital platform.” This is not something you develop just once.  Periodically review it so you keep your response fresh.  Test new phases and find out what best engages your listener and motivates them to want to learn more. No matter what role you have within our firm, you are an ambassador of Delotte. How the market views our firm starts with you and how you present yourself. 
  • Clean business cards – While the world has gone digital there are times where exchanging business cards is the fastest way to share your contact information with someone.  They should be clean and crisp so they make a good first impression.  My cards now include my LinkedIn profile so the person can learn more about me through my online profile.
  • Smartphone  – Laptops are so last decade. I am always on the move and it is not always practical for me take out my Mac to complete some quick tasks.  My iPhone 6+ contains a stable of apps, which allow me work productively on the go.  Being successful means making the most of the time you have available.  Don’t wait 6 hours to send off a follow up note to a colleague – take a minute before the next meeting starts to summarize a discussion and outline next steps.  Keep your tasks organized and look for opportunities to clear another task off your to-do list.  My smartphone is not just about email and texting.  I have also used it to deliver a Deloitte Digital overview sitting next to a prospective client on a plane.   I have connected it to a projector to delivered an entire proposal. I’m even writing this article on my phone as I fly back to NYC from a client meeting. While it has not yet fully replaced my laptop, it does allow me to be productive in places where a laptop is not practical. They key is to leverage tools that improve your productivity and demonstrate your responsiveness to your client and your colleagues.
Do you have foundational tools you use in your everyday work life?  Please reach out and share them with me at “osiodmak at gmail.com”

Update on June 23, 2015: “How to Use a Simple Pocket Notebook to Improve Your Life” published by Lifehacker on June 22nd reaffirms my 1st recommendation!!  It is a great article that I highly recommend reading.

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Chromecast vs Apple TV – The in-home test

Installed and configured Google’s new Chromecast content broadcast device on my 8 YO Sony 1080i HD TV tonight. Installation was fairly straightforward with only a minor process glitch when saving the WiFi login info during setup. [Note: The web app accidentally switches your WiFi connections back to your WiFi network before completing the setup. You need to switch it back to the Chromecast WiFi network to complete installation.] Once the device is configured I was able to easily launch Netflix from either my iPhone or iPad and send the show to the TV by clicking the new Chromecast broadcast button. OOTB I was able to use my Netflix and Youtube apps with the device but did not see the broadcast icon when browsing content via Chrome.

The biggest differences between Apple TV and Chromecast are that, 1) Apple TV is a standalone device, and 2) Apple TV has infinitely more content options available to you. With iCloud you can stream all your purchased Music, TV Shows and Movies to Apple TV. You can also “mirror” anything on your Mac, iPhone or iPad directly on your TV via Airplay.

Chromecast’s immediate advantage is the price and to some degree, size – although none of the Google ads show that you need to two connections to make the device work; HDMI for the image and USB to power the device. Over time Google will update more of their apps and others with the ability to broadcast content to the device. They are also rumors that HBO Go will soon be available (but don’t quote me on that).

The Google Chromecast offering is a good initial attempt but if you are invested in the Apple ecosystem (via iTunes) then Apple TV is still a better way to go. You can even pick-up a refurbished Apple TV for only $75 on their website.

Chromecast Broadcasting Screen

 

 

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(UPDATE) SOLD! — Apple iPad (1st Gen) w/ 32GB RAM, WiFi+3G – Includes case & dock!

iPad 1st Gen with accessories

Auctioning off my 1st Gen iPad w/ 32GB RAM, WiFi+3G (AT&T).  Includes Marware Exec iPad case, USB 30pin cable & USB charger and iPad 30pin dock.  iPad is in great condition.  Check out the auction at http://r.ebay.com/2vo2Qk.  

2012 12 21 11 53 48

iPad in case

 UPDATE: Auction is closed!  Keep an eye out for other great technology items for auction soon!

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Wait … I’m on the wait list?

iPhone 5

New iPhone 5

Just goes to show you .. you can’t believe the naysayers. Even with all the rushed reviews of the iPhone 5 and countless speculators indicating that the next version of the device does not contain significant enough improvements to warrant an upgrade – Apple sold out the 1st batch in less than 1 hour. Important lesson learned — don’t believe everything you read, go with what you believe.

BTW — getting 1 week after launch (and not standing in line in the rain for 3 days) .. I’m OK with that.

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