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How to Get 100,000 Views for your Consulting Blog

At its peak, Austin Ogilvie’s blog for Yhat, a data analytics company, was getting 100,000 views per month. How did he do it?

Ogilvie shared his story in an interview with Jon Krohn, on the Super Data Science podcast (#535). As Krohn was transitioning into data science, he noticed many of his Google questions featured answers from Ogilvie’s blog.

Ogilvie explained he started blogging when the data science industry was in the middle of a transition from packaged statistical platforms to open source platforms. Ogilvie started blogging on a personal blog.

Ogilvie’s goal for his blog was to share real-world examples of the work he was doing in this transition period. He had noticed an information gap in what was out there, and was able to provide high-value, cutting-edge information.

Krohn pointed out Ogilvie quickly developed a cache as a thought leader for these kind of cutting-edge questions. “I knew that if one of the top results for a data-science question I had was a Yhat article, it was going to be well written. It was going to be clear,” said Krohn.

Once Ogilvie started his company, he migrated the content of his blog to the new site. With his name out there, Ogilvie was able to attract investments in his startup.

Blogging Lessons Learned

  1. Survey the field. Ogilvie found the available information fell short of current developments. He could bring others into his fold by updating them on the new, state-of-the-art developments.
  2. Start small, but be sure to start. Ogilvie started his own, personal blog to share his experiences and information.
  3. Share your expertise. Ogilvie was a Liberal Arts major (2010 BA University of Virginia) turned data scientist, who went on to found two successful technology companies
  4. The sky is the limit. Be focused, be clear. Once content is written, this intellectual property (IP) can be further leveraged. For Ogilvie, he was able to incorporate it in his startup, allowing for further notoriety and leading to successful rounds of funding, and the eventual sale of his company. Ogilvie now owns Laika, a company filling the gap for software compliance, the next-big thing in the software development world.

While everyone’s blogging experience will be different, putting out clear, well-crafted content is the key to developing your own community of readers. ■


Consultants who made the Thinkers50 Radar list for 2022

One is a former Bain & Company consultant turned Columbia Business School professor, who proclaims every one should live life joyfully. Another is also a former consultant, who once advised clients expanding into in European markets for Four Corners Global Consulting, but has recently joined the faculty at Harvard Business School (HBS). Another consulted on leadership for the United States Department of Defense, but is now recognized as a global authority on leadership and coaching for young women. One consulted for Booz & Company, but now researches impostor thoughts (the impostor syndrome). And one is a former Deloitte consultant turned researcher, on the topic of how to harness valuable ideas.

Who are these former consultants? And what is the Thinker50 Radar list?

All are former consultants who used their experiences to springboard their curiosity into new careers in research, teaching, and thinking.

The Thinker50 Radar List is comprised of 30 emerging management thinkers to watch in the coming year, published in January by Thinkers50, an organization founded in 2001 by Stuart Crainer and Des Dearlove, to curate and promote the best ideas in management.

Former Consultants who made the Thinkers50 Radar List

It can take years, if not even decades for new ideas in management to spread from the discovery or research phase, to finally reaching widespread implementation. For example, there is much confusion in organizations about how and what should be digitalized? Companies are not sure how to architect their business systems in a way that makes sense. Failed digital implementations can result in the reliance on the greater use of manual processes, the opposite of what was intended. Data is frequently lost or never accrues any benefits for the organization or is never curated and analyzed.

New ideas, like those expressed by the Thinkers50 and emerging thinkers on the Thinkers50 Radar list, can help guide organizational strategy as management thinking evolves in the years ahead.

Congratulations to the former consultants who appeared on this year’s Thinkers50 Radar List. I look forward to learning more about their work in the year ahead. ■




The Best UK Consultancies . . . revealed

Who are the best consultancies in the UK? For the fifth year in the row FT (Financial Times), looked for an answer to this question by surveying both clients (about 1,000 senior executives) and their consultants (over 1,700 firms), and blending the resulting data.

The final outcome included both positive as well as “negative recommendations.” Says FT in their disclaimer, “The ranking comprises firms with a sufficient number of recommendations; a mention is positive and is a vote of confidence from the market. The ranking was created through a complex process. The quality of consultancies not included is not disputed.”

Essentially, if a well-heel consultancy is a niche player, for example, a firm providing only statistical analysis to a regulated industry as big pharm, they probably would not make the list, even though they do stellar work.

So the result are in, released on January 27, 2022 in the article entitled. “UK’s Leading Management Consultants 2022: the ratings.” Several firms immediately expressed their appreciation . . .

“Following another year of exciting growth, we are pleased to be recognized by the Financial Times as one of the UK’s leading management consultancies for the fourth consecutive year. We’re looking forward to another year of supporting our clients to generate lasting change.”

Richard Powell, Managing Partner of Argon & Co UK

“We are proud that this is the fifth consecutive year Moorhouse has been recognised by the Financial Times as one of the UK’s Leading Management Consultancies. . . .To be awarded bronze in Healthcare and IT Strategy is another great achievement. We work within a genuinely collaborative culture that creates trust with our clients and delivers exceptional, society changing work.”

Richard Brackstone, Managing Partner, Moorhouse Consulting 

“It is an honour to appear on the Financial Times’ list of the UK’s leading management consultants. We are delighted that the work carried out by the AFRY Management Consulting team has been recognised, and we will strive to continue providing for our clients and greater society. Congratulations to our whole team on this fantastic achievement”

Richard Sarsfield-Hall, Head of UK AFRY Management Consulting

Here are a few of the categories. In the IT, technology & telecommunications category, the top five firms were:

  • Accenture
  • Deloitte Consulting
  • IBM Consulting
  • KPMG Consulting (incl. KPMG Boxwood)
  • BAE Systems Applied Intelligence

In Data analytics & big Data, the top five included:

  • Accenture
  • Deloitte Consulting
  • Deloitte Digital
  • IBM Consulting
  • Acrotrend

In Strategy, the list was topped off by:

  • Accenture
  • Bain & Company
  • BCG – Boston Consulting Group
  • Deloitte Consulting
  • KPMG Consulting (incl. KPMG Boxwood)

All in all, 194 consultancies made this year’s list, spread over 29 categories. A mention in last year’s list was taken into consideration in the overall ranking. Says FT, “Reputation is typically built over several years and this list aims to reflect that longevity. Therefore, last year’s results were taken into account, attributed a low weighting.”

As well as some of the major players, some lessor known firms made the cut. For example, I see that our friends at Newton (see Newton’s Guaranteed Results) made the list. Three cheers for the up and comers!  

This FT list could be an excellent database to not only find consulting help, but for those seeking to broaden their work search, if looking for new vistas. ■




The Consultant’s Secret Weapon . . .

This week Mr. Moosa dropped a bombshell. I sat in on Faheem Moosa’s Zoom call on Thursday noon. Mr. Moosa helps consultants with marketing their services and growing their business through his firm Consulting Leap.

I have joined in a number of his live presentations and in each one I have gained useful information, be it new insights on setting up a marketing plan, or practical client-outreach tips like setting up a Zoom Community, or on loading a carousel on Linkedin, and great information on his own journey from being a consultant to now consulting with consultants.

This week was not any different. Mr. Moosa spoke on what he calls the three pillars of consulting:

  • What?

What is your expertise? What are your capabilities in the marketplace? What outcomes do clients desire?

  • Who?

Who can you get the best results for? Who is the best match for your particular expertise?

  • How?

How should your strategy look? How—based on the limited available resources will you get the best results and outcomes for your clients?

Talk was directed towards strategy and mindset. Both are intertwined. As the marketplace for consulting is never static, strategizing never ends. That is an essential mindset for growing a consultancy business.

After covering some business-to-business outreach tactics—using LinkedIn, podcasting, even cold calling, Mr. Moosa talked a little about doing some primary, customer-facing research, as well as using secondary sources.

During his presentations Mr. Moosa reserves time for a question and answer portion. I find these questions interesting as participants in the session are based not only in North America, but from around the world. Questions in the past have varied from “How do I narrow down an area to consult in?” to “What’s a ‘use case’?” to “How do I tip the conversation with the client in setting fees?”

The Bombshell . . .

Most of us, to one degree or another do this already. For some of us, it’s an inborn talent, a gift we are born with.

Others, like for example, Mr. Mike Gibbs, who trains ordinary people into qualifying for extraordinary careers as cloud architects, over the years have honed their skills. Mr. Gibbs’ career path took him from being an EMT to working in medicine, then to IT, and finally to becoming a master cloud architect. Along the way he picked up an MBA, and to practice his executive presence with high-level managers, he practiced everyday for two years in front of a mirror. These days he can be found on YouTube, sometimes two or three hours at a time, presenting or answering questions.

Another example could be Mr. Mark Tossell, an Australian engineer, who is passionate about solving problems with data. Mr. Tossell says his excitement over solving problems with data has led him to presenting “over 4,000 times in ten countries and 43 states of the USA.”

And then there is the case of Mr. Moosa himself. He exemplifies his own advice, from his LinkedIn postings, to his Zoom broadcasts, to his blog.

What is this consultant’s super power?

As we neared the end of the Zoom session, someone asked, what would be the number one activity for a consultant to grow his business?

Without hesitation, Mr. Moosa replied, “You must teach.” ■

Pariveda Solutions, Inc.: Combining Management Consulting and IT

Unless you follow consulting-industry media, you probably haven’t heard of Pariveda Solutions, Inc., a Dallas, Texas based management and IT consultancy. But if you have had similar needs as their current customers, you would likely be inclined to give them a call. The bulk of their business, about 85%, says cofounder and CEO Bruce Ballengee, is from referrals or repeat clients.

The company name reflects its philosophy, which in Sanskrit, means “gaining the benefits of complete knowledge.”

Growing organically, adding on new clients is not something that Pariveda Solutions worries about much. Since its founding in 2003, Pariveda has grown from an office in Texas to having over 500 employees spread over offices across North America.

What is Pariveda Solutions’ Secret to Sustainable Growth?

“In general, Pariveda is supportive and innovative. It operates with integrity. Mentorship is always provided and there is a clear career path laid out for you. I love working here and don’t see myself leaving anytime soon.”

LA Employee on Glassdoor

One point of differentiation from other consultancies is that Pariveda Solutions, Inc., has an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) that owns 48% of the company, with the goal of having the ESOP owing 100% of its stock. The company believes the ESOP helps their vested staff become more client-focused. Employees have the option to join the ESOP from the get-go, on their date of hire.

Another factor that contributes to its success is being close to their markets. With offices located in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington D.C., and an office in Toronto, Canada, one might guess Pariveda has intentionally located its offices in large, competitive markets. Locating in large, metro areas is part of their strategy. As an additional bonus, having a geographic focus means Pariveda is not deeply tied to any particular industry, which could slow its growth in the event of either a business cycle or economic slowdown affecting its clients. “One of our company’s goals is to become sustainable in 40 of the largest metropolitan markets in the world,” said Ballengee.

Another unique aspect of Pariveda are its “Findamentals” or values and “behaviors that show who we are and how to act.” Having adopted the dolphin as its mascot, the company employees refer to themselves as ‘Fins,’ referring to both the mammal’s intelligence and how it lives in pods (representing its tendency for teamwork).  A strong culture is the foundation of the founders’ goal for the institution to thrive for at least a hundred years and beyond.

The biggest factor in Pariveda’s success is perhaps its focus on developing talent. The key thing, says Ballengee, is not to focus on developing clients, as all clients will have some needs, whether they are aware of their needs or not, but to develop its internal staff. And not any staff. In vetting candidates, Pariveda is looking for what Ballengee calls the one-in-100 candidate he terms the “effective executive,” or, in the case of a recent college grad, the “proto-executive.”

“In my experience, the most impactful development happens not through formal programs, but smaller moments that occur within the workplace: on-the-job learning opportunities that are wholeheartedly catered to the worker’s unique needs and challenges.

Margaret Rogers

Insights into Pariveda training approach were shared by Margaret Rogers, a vice president at Pariveda. In an article for the Harvard Business Review, Rogers laid out five recommendations for better staff development:

  • Start by asking more questions to gain insights on employees
  • Create more on-the-job opportunities
  • Vary learning experiences
  • Provide regular feedback
  • Manage your time (by delegation, if feasible)

Although well over a $1 million is budgeted for training, time will tell, if Pariveda’s staffing development approach is enough to carry it forward in meeting its expansion goals. Talent development is essential today, especially in the fast-moving technology niche. For example, in researching Gibson Consulting, I found Gibson trains each consultant for at least 140 hours per year. There is much to be gained by not only advanced technical training, but in upskilling consultants in soft skills like active listening, questioning, presenting, speaking, and writing.

Summary of Pariveda Solutions’ Success Factors

Pariveda Solutions is poised for future growth. Their success is based on such factors as:

  • Referrals, based on customer satisfaction and delight
  • Employees having the option to become shareholders
  • A strong culture
  • The consultancy staying close to its customers
  • Making staff development a key priority

Pariveda Solutions’ challenge, like many other management and technology-focused consultancies, will be in trying to fill its talent pipeline to meet current and future needs. ■

What is consulting?

“You should know a word by the company it keeps.”

J. R. Firth

Consulting is a term sometimes used loosely, like many words in the English language. But unlike the French, with their Académie Française, there are no “immortals,” as members of the Académie are known, policing the proper use of the English language.

When it comes to consulting, the dean of consultants, Alan Weiss, in his 2010 article, Sorry, You’re Not A Consultant, took pains to clear the matter up and to help define who really is a consultant.

His main thesis is that one must do the things a consultant does to be considered a true-blue, bonafide consultant. Simply adding a tagline of consultant behind one’s name does not make anyone a consultant.

What does make one a consultant, says Weiss, are doing things that, “help improve the client’s condition,” making the consultant not only “distinctly attractive”, but in turn “draw people to them.”

A good consultant, by helping the client in an honest and forthright manner, by leaving the client better off then when they first met, will create a virtuous circle of prosperity around themselves, becoming a magnet for clients.

This is not an easy thing to do. The biblical phrase “Many are called, but few are chosen,” comes to mind.

For example, as the Enterprise Architect, Gerben Wierda, noted, many times we tend to simplify highly complex things to clients or management, and when the project falls short or fails completely, we look like complete idiots because we can’t even get a simple thing right. How could we then be trusted with more complex tasks? How could we have been trusted at all?

What should a consultant do?

Mr. Weiss listed (in bold) some of the tasks that makes for consulting, providing the client with:

  • ideas
  • advice
  • intellectual property
  • best practices
  • proprietary approaches
  • unique behavior, and
  • other interventions 

I would add to the above list:

  • dialogue
  • documentation
  • strategies and suggestions
  • information products
  • caring, reassurance, and helpfulness

Many of skills needed for consulting are learned along the way, but not really taught. Things like how to really listen? How to give advice or make suggestions without putting clients on the defensive or “on the spot?” How to build a high-level trust? How to effectively present information to the different strata of clients or their workforce, from line staff to upper management, and everyone in between?

Additional skills may be needed as the consulting practice matures. If only working with one or two clients, without sufficient time or resources or desire to take on additional clients, the consultant can find him or herself in a bit of a jam without a working new client development plan or program in place, as in the case of the consultant whose clients merged, with no further need of additional services.

You Should Know a Consultant by the Company They Keep

Then perhaps the real, ultimate goal for any “trusted advisor” or high-level consultant would be to have a number of clients on retainers, and prospects or new clients on a waiting list, so when one might fall off, another will take their place.

Ah, if it were only that simple . . . ■

Data Fluency for Consultants

The business of consulting consists of helping businesses find solutions to problems. Increasingly, this means not only being able to extract useful information from data, but being able to convey that information to decision makers in a coherent manner. In short, a consultant needs to be data literate, if not data fluent.

This is the one area in which we all should improve, according to Bruno Aziza, Google Cloud Analytics, is in the area of better data literacy.

What is data literacy? It is the ability to see, understand, and talk about data. Everyone should think about increasing their data literacy skills, says Aziza.

Learning more about data can result in data fluency: the ability to analyze, create arguments, and present data-based results. In a company dependent on technology and data (and whose organization isn’t these days?), about 35% of the workforce needs to be data fluent.

Finally, the end game is to use data in your organization to better innovate. About 10% of staff should be earning their keep by creating value from data, says Aziza. These are the data professionals, deploying advanced analytical skills. Aziza cited the example of DBS Bank, with twice as many engineers deployed as bankers.

If everyone in your organization is 100% data literate, and about 35% of the workforce is data fluent, and 10% are data pros, then this forms the basis of the 100-35-10 Rule. The acid test for the right combination of workforce data literacy skills would be in the amount of innovation and value being extracted from data.

Data literacy is the ability to read, work with, analyze and communicate with data, building the skills to ask the right questions of data and machines to make decisions and communicate meaning to others.—

QLIK Glossary

Free Data Literacy Help

If someone says “quantitative methods,” even knowing it only really means “math,” doesn’t stop some folks from breaking out in a cold sweat. Count me in . . .

When it comes to data literacy, free help is available from The Data Literacy Project in the form of eight, short, foundational courses covering the basics of data literacy.

An additional 20 courses covering advanced data fluency skills are available from QLIK, a sponsor of the Project. These run about $250 for their complete Data Literacy 2.0 program. This is probably much less than a similar course at a local college.

While I have not yet enrolled in these courses, they certainly have appeal for anyone looking to increase their data skills. ■

Best Quotes for the New Year

Here are some quotes I came across and jotted down throughout 2021 in the margins of my day planner.

January 2021

“Do the best you know how to do, so you can know better. Once you know better, you can do better.” Eric Perkins, Perkins Bros. Const.

“What calls you to be your best is the thing that is pushing you forward to manifest yourself in the world most fully. It is what you need.” Dr. Jordan Peterson

March 2021

“Let everything happen to you,

Beauty and terror,

Just keep going,

No feeling is final.”

Rainer Maria Rilke

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself. It is thinking of yourself less.” C.S. Lewis

June 2021

“The most common form of despair is not being who you are.” Soren Kierkegaard

“Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we might win by fearing to attempt.” William Shakespeare

“The best way out,

is always through.”

Robert Frost

September 2021

“The more you reason, the less you create.” Raymond Chandler

“You can’t know too much, but you can say too much.” Calvin Coolidge

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage.” Dale Carnegie

October 2021

“Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Old certainties and values have been replaced by cynicism and ideology.” Anon

November 2021

“A professional is someone who can keep working at a high level of effort and ethics, no matter what is going—for good or ill—around him or inside him.” Steven Pressfield

“Profession: a self-governed and self-guided institution whose defining measure was in achieving excellence by continuous practice, critical self-evaluation, and perpetually, relentlessly seeking improvements.” Col. Charles S. Oliviero

“Gather wisdom as data, to preserve and remember, organized philosophically.” Peter Kreeft

“When you have something to say, silence is a lie. If you cannot talk, you cannot think.” Dr. Jordan Peterson

“If you speak your truth powerfully, honestly, and clearly, someone will hear you, even if you do not know at the time who they are.” Carmen Medina

“Live life with confidence, knowing every step you take gets you closer to understanding the purpose of your life.” Carmen Medina

December 2021

“Your level of success will seldom exceed your level of personal development because success is something you attract by the person you become.” Jim Rohn

“Design adds value faster than it adds cost.” Joel Spolsky

“To win without risk is to triumph without glory.” Pierre Corneille ■

I hope you have enjoyed some of these quotes. Happy New Year to all!

Your Consulting Purpose

In our work training thousands of managers at organizations from GE to the Girl Scouts, and teaching an equal number of executives and students at Harvard Business School, we’ve found that fewer than 20% of leaders have a strong sense of their own individual purpose

Nick Craig and Scott A. Snook, From Purpose to Impact, May 2014, HBR

Whether you are consulting or are thinking about getting into consulting, everyone needs to answer a fundamental question. While there is no “wrong” answer to this question, there can often be an unclear or muddled idea on how to answer this. The question is:

What is my purpose?

All of us have a purpose. Defining one’s purpose helps us to stay on track, to establish a “footprint,” and, most importantly, a brand.

Michal Gibbs helps people to become cloud architects. He believes having a brand is paramount in advancing your career in a high-paying direction. Differentiating your purpose is essential. Too often, he finds experience tech people upskill and attempt to rebrand, but reach an earning’s plateau because they continue to represent themselves as who they were, not who they are or want to be.

The late Jack Welch would preach all the time about aligning mission (purpose) with actions and behaviors. (When Welch uses the term “behaviors” he means values, but he found “values” can be too abstract at times.) The alternative, said Welch, is stagnation.

Your mission/purpose can be aspirational, inspirational, and practical. Above all, it can be transformational, not only for yourself but for your team, your clients, and anyone in your circle of influence.

Articulating your Purpose

It’s not enough to know your purpose. You need to be able to articulate your purpose, as well, in simple terms.

My purpose is help clients (blank).

I don’t know how anyone could make that statement of purpose any simpler. Yet arriving at this point can be difficult—so difficult that many, if not most, do not get this far.

Some questions to ask yourself:

  • What is unique about me?
  • What activities bring me joy?
  • What gets me going in the morning?
  • What kinds of challenges do I enjoy doing?

Communicating your Purpose

Once you have nailed your purpose down, there is no need to keep it a secret. In fact, it is essential to intentionally communicate your purpose to clients, prospects, and suspects.

Your purpose can change, depending on whatever the context is and the role you are playing.

But there is no escaping the fact that you and your purpose are closely interconnected and intertwined.

A long time ago, there was once a doctor working on a great battlefield. He grew tired of the endless stream of casualties. He wanted to leave his position. Things seemed hopeless. No matter how hard he worked, there were more to treat. It was overwhelming. Finally, the thought struck him . . . I will continue at my post, because I am a doctor.

Our purpose is who we are. ■

Happy Holidays to all.

Consulting Challenges Ahead . . .

Whether we care to admit it or not, we live in a world of uncertainty, if not increasing uncertainty, the consulting industry being no exception. Perhaps one of the greatest unfolding mysteries is the direction the economy is taking.

Human beings tend to default to “doom and gloom.” From time to time, I catch myself looking over that edge. But, if you don’t keep your eyes focused on the road, doom and gloom will become inevitable. There are plenty of self-proclaimed economic gurus on social media currently taking this approach.

One indictor of future economic activity are the actions taken by the policy setting arm of the Federal Reserve (a.k.a “the Fed”), known as the The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC). On  December 14-15, 2021, the FOMC met and laid out their roadmap for the next few years. For a complete analysis of the recent FOMC meeting by Diane Swonk, Chief Economist and Managing Director at Grant Thornton, click here.

As in the now distant past, it seems very likely, due to concerns about inflation (now over 6%), the Fed will take action to raise the cost of borrowing money. In a consumer driven economy, this means, like everything else, the cost of credit will be increasingly going up. While some of us won’t notice it at first, many consumers will, and feel they likely have no choice but to cut back on purchases.

Personally, I believe the same effect, that is—to tamper inflation, could be achieved to some extent, by throttling back on federal spending, specifically, the new, massive, trillion-dollar government spending programs, designed to “help the economy,” But, if you notice on this map, the Fed is located only 1.3 miles from the White House, so a cut in federal spending is unlikely to ever be suggested, even though it is likely federal spending and the Fed, itself, is directly responsible for many of our inflationary woes.

What’s the big deal about inflation? After all, only recently wasn’t the Fed trying to raise inflation?

As one analyst recently said, inflation can lead to stagflation (the economy increasingly goes down as inflation rises), or dragflation (a stagnant economy). One problem is that the average business profit is about three per cent per year. Adding inflation to the mix could mean running a business at a loss unless one raises revenues (generally hard to do) or cuts expenses (also difficult).

How can consultants prepare for the emerging challenges?

While the Fed decides what specifically it will do, there are always going to be clients and businesses in need of help, to become more efficient, to provide more value to clients and customers.

  • If your in marketing and sales consulting, how can you better show your clients the value you add?
  • If you are in tech consulting, how can you bridge the knowledge and communication gap between tech and management?
  • If you are in operations consulting, how can you better streamline operations against current and future constraints?
  • And if you are in general consulting, how can you better communicate with clients to understand their issues?

So, no matter the direction the economy will take, there will be plenty of new opportunities for good consultants to prosper in the years ahead. It’s not all doom and gloom, although it can sometimes seem like it is. Even Covid doesn’t spread as fast as bad news. Become a messenger of good news. Your clients are depending on it! ■