Special edition of The MECE Muse Unplugged where Christie reflects on the current state of the show since launching on July 7, 2017. She also gives a special announcement on the future of the show, and shares highlights of upcoming episodes for the next month.
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I’m super excited to do this special edition. I’m actually going to call this The Bench. If you’re in consulting, you know what the bench is. For some types of firms, it’s maybe called The Beach, but for those that are new to consulting, The Bench or The Beach is usually when there’s downtime. You may be in between a project, looking for new engagement, or maybe doing proposal work and you’re waiting for the next round. In the spirit of consulting, I called this episode The Bench. I really want to take time to reflect. If you think about great consultants, they’ve really maximized their bench time. We’re going to maximize that with our episode. What’s on the agenda? I wanted to take a moment, take a time to reflect. I wanted to recap some of our past episodes, just to give you a snippet for those who may be new to the show and then give you a little bit of a preview of what’s to come over the next month. I decided to do that for a couple of reasons.
One, I wanted to thank you my go-getters. It’s just been so crazy. I launched the show. I’m a recovering perfectionist, I will say. For me it was like, “I’m going to put the show out.” I didn’t focus on it being perfect. I really focused on the content and making sure I really provided that insight to you, and people responded. It’s pretty remarkable. I think the last we checked, we’ve been trending on iTunes. Thank you so much for your support. I continue to get an outpouring of thanks and support and people that want to be part of the show and people that have reached out to that’s more than willing to help out. It just makes me so excited to see this much momentum and we’re not even about a month end. When I started the show, I said it was going to be a bi-weekly show. I’ve actually decided now to actually make it a weekly show. There’s just so much going on and so much great stuff with the response from my go-getters, so we’re going to do this weekly. We’re going to go for it. I’m super excited to announce that now.
I also wanted to just highlight that some of the shows that we’ve had over the last three or so weeks, we’ve had so many new listeners. I don’t know if everyone’s gotten a chance to really listen to what we’ve put out there. We’re going to go down memory lane. I want to just play key snippets of each episode and talk to you about a little context of each of the episodes that we have out there so far. Then like I mentioned, I will pivot and just give you a preview of what’s to come. Given all the excitement and momentum and fanfare we’ve had with the show, I decided I’m going to try to probably step it up a little and get a little bit more official. You’re going to hear maybe some slight changes in the format, but not too much. I want to keep the format as much as I can, but based on feedback that I’ve been getting, I definitely want to make sure I refined. We’re definitely in refinement mode.
If you’re a consultant, you know what bench time is, you get it. It’s all about getting ready to gear up and ramp back up for your next adventure. In that spirit, I wanted to now go down and talk through the different episodes. I’m going to play different highlights of different shows starting with episode one. With Episode One, with those who may have missed that. That was actually my intro episode. In that I really talked about the show and what people can expect. I did like a Q & A type of format. Then towards the mid to end of the show, I then pivoted and talked a little bit about my own personal career and journey and what led me down this path.
“What do you as the listener can expect from this show? I wanted to take the MECE approach and have so many different types of guests for a couple of reasons. That’s why I use the word variety show, because I really want to make sure every time you listen to an episode, you’re taking away some type of key nugget. I want you to be informed, to be entertained, comforted, challenged, and inspired. I want you to take the nuggets that you get from the show and you use them in your life or you pay it forward. You may have known a colleague or someone that needs this information and you pass on an episode or pass on the information to them. That’s what it’s about. It’s really about helping others and really making sure that people get the information they need to make informed decisions and to live the best life they can towards their journey to greatness. That’s what this is all about.”
In Episode Two, I take it a step further. With episode two, I share the different interview formats as I mentioned. This is a pop-up podcast and it’s a variety show. I wanted to make sure everyone had the context of the types of interview format that we have on the show. I give a little snippet of that. I share some of the key rules of our show. We want to make sure we’re not naming firm names and we’re not naming client names. We really want to focus on the journey of great consultants and so I share that. Then I pivot. I did a recent podcast interview where I shared a little bit about The MECE Muse story about my book, and I played that episode. I want to just play a quick highlight of that episode as well.
“I wrote a book from the lens that I had. Growing up, I knew since college I wanted to be a consultant. I just got exposure to that line of work in different internships. When I came into consulting, I learned really quickly that being that I was first generation American, I’m the first college grad, there was a lot of resources and information I didn’t really have access to. You got to consider back then, there wasn’t a lot. Google wasn’t really prevalent and the whole world we live in now just wasn’t around. The resources were not as accessible. The first five years of my career, I didn’t really have a lot of mentors. I had colleagues and clients and things to do, but I didn’t really have someone that was taking me under their wing to say, “Christie, here’s how you do things,” and because of that I did struggle. While I had really good experiences, it’s just not the same when you have someone that’s taking you under their wings. Fast forward now in my career, I do have mentors and guys and I’m just at a really good place now. I’ve learned from so many different opportunities and I said, “I want to write the book in a voice of a mentor.” I really want to be the mentor that I wish I had.”
I’m going to move on to Episode Three. In episode three, I had my very first AMA interview. AMAs are fireside chats. I got a chance to connect with Aija Rose. She’s not only a seasoned consultant, but she’s also a blogger. Her blog is called BossChix Network. In this show, she really provided a little bit about her career journey, how she got started in consulting, and why she enjoys the profession as much as she does. During the show, I did share with her that one of my mentees did not get promoted as they expected and was exploring their options. I’m going to play a little bit of that where Aija and I gave my mentee some advice on the next steps and things to consider.
“Given the scenario and I feel like as a consultant, I hear this at least couple times a year where someone is up for a promotion, for whatever reason there’s a lot of varying reasons, but for whatever reason they don’t make it. They’re so upset. They want to either leave or they want to go to another firm. I know for Jennifer, me knowing her for the last five or six years, I know that one of her end goals is to stay and make partner. She’s not one of those individuals that is in consulting just to get some really cool experiences in a short amount of time. She’s in it for the long haul. What advice do you think when you hear this scenario? What comes to your mind, Aija?
One of the things that come to my mind with this scenario is just being very intentional about getting a detailed debrief. Do not let this be a surface conversation where your counselor is just giving you your review and saying, “Do you have any questions?” Probe and ask questions. “What could I have done differently? What were the differentiators? What is it about my body of experience when this past year that was not enough? What was enough? Give me examples of individuals who were promoted. What was enough?” I would say this is not the time to short it back and just take it. Yes, you weren’t promoted but find out as much detail as possible what were the differentiators? What made the difference? If it’s just not your counselor who’s going to tell you, have a conversation with your partner, your engagement partner, your practice partner, whomever, and just find out what was lacking in terms of the support. I know at least for the company or the firm that I’m with, you need partner support for that promotion and if you have partner support, most times it can happen for you. Just be very diligent about finding out why you did not make it this year.”
With Episode Four, it was another AMA, Ask Me Anything interview. I have the utmost pleasure of connecting with Natalie. Natalie, she actually was a seasoned consultant herself. She decided to leverage her consulting experiences and actually got a double promotion. She’s really doing really big things. She got a double promotion. She’s now got a really lucrative, non-profit healthcare consulting career, but she did that purposefully. I’m going to play a little bit of a snippet of that episode. In that one, we also did give one of my mentees advice. She’s new to consulting. She was getting ready to give a really big senior executive presentation and wanted some pointers on how to prepare for that presentation. I’m to play a little bit of episode four for you.
“One of the things about consulting as well is they say, one year in consulting is like doing it for three years. I didn’t want her to be in the private sector for so, so long. I had this desire to get back to the international work and bring those skills with me. I thought consulting would be a good opportunity to get a lot of diverse experience without having to spend as much time investing in building that up. I definitely got a lot of that. It’s also diversity of experience in terms of not having to do the same thing every day for month after month, year after year. I never got tired. I never lost interest in. If I did lose interest, I had an end date of a project and I think I would be doing something different. That would be very desirable as well.”
In Episode Five, this is actually a Crossroads. Crossroads interviews are when I get a chance to connect with somebody that’s either going in or out of consulting and we have a conversation about that. Either they ask some questions, they share their stories, and we just talk that through. For episode five, I did a crossroad interview with Xuan. She is actually a recent PhD graduate and she’s got a really strong quantitative background. She decided that she really wants to get into the consulting space and she came to me. We’ve been talking for quite some time as one of my mentees and she really wants to figure out how to differentiate herself as a candidate by building up her qualitative skills in time for recruitment season. I’m going to play a snippet of that.
“If I understood it correctly, it sounds like a good performance, we all share some basic proficiency in terms of being able to structure a problem and being able to solve it. What truly takes a candidate from good to outstanding is the ability to be innovative, to kind of show his or her unique personality and do that or articulate that in a very crisp and a compelling way. Is that correct?
It’s innovative compelling, but also simple. There’s a lot of power in being able to take something that’s a very complex and being able to simplify it. Find ways that you’re able to talk about a business problem in layman terms. That’s also can come off really compelling because people don’t have to really try to interpret or understand what you’re saying as much when you’re using more common language. I see another thing sometimes with candidates is that they get so caught up in using these big fancy words, that may not resonate. Knowing the fancy words is one thing, but knowing when to use them is another. Being able to have that professional maturity really can make a candidate shine.”
In Episode Six, drama in the team room. I got a chance to connect with Nitya. I’ve known Nitya for several years now. It was a really heartbreaking story and some of the painful lessons that she learned in her first consulting experience, but what’s interesting, Nitya is such an amazing, incredible individual. She’s super smart. She was able to leverage that experience and catapult it into a really great consulting role now where she’s really enjoying her work and she’s really on her path to greatness. In this interview, Nitya shares some of the lessons learned and how she overcame those obstacles.
“I was let go from that project but not from the company.
In other words, Nitya, if I can just recap what you just shared, you were put on this project. The client expected a lot more from you. It sounded like their project manager also expected a lot more from you than you were actually able to deliver in their eyes, given that you weren’t coming in as a business analyst, two, three years industry experience, first time consulting and what you’re saying is that you essentially got rolled off of that first engagement. How long did it take from when you started the project to getting rolled off?
Three to four weeks. There was holidays in between. It was pretty quick and I honestly did not understand what happened. Because when we were returning from the holiday break, right the day before the person who has hired me into the company that called me and was like, “You don’t need to go back to that site again.” He was nice about it. He didn’t really let me know what happened basically directly. After that phone call, I didn’t go back to the site, but eventually I had to talk to the project manager and returned the materials. It was just a really weird, strange situation.”
In Episode Seven, this is another AMA, Ask Me Anything, I have the utmost pleasure of connecting with John Robinson. He is the CEO of Backup CEO. In episode seven, John really peels back the layers of the onion. He really talks about how he leveraged the power of detachment and he used that to really transition from having a really lucrative marketing career to becoming a consulting and starting his own company focused on CEO leadership coaching. He’s got a really powerful story. He’s also in the midst of setting up his passion project called Minorities Network. I’ll give you a little snippet.
“It had to do with a bunch of research that I was doing on vulnerability and leadership. We all know that we struggle sometimes to ask for help. I know I do. A lot of times, I struggled to ask for help. When it comes to painting, I am quick to make a phone call to call a painter, but when it comes to other things, it takes me a bit of time. I was doing a lot of research on vulnerability and leadership and Enron happened. I thought, “Why did that CEO not have someone around him or a team around him that would hold him more accountable to higher values or that would challenge him to make him uncomfortable?” I thought Most CEOs hire people that they like, hire people that are speaking the same language and if that’s what they’re hiring, they’re just hiring themselves.”
In Episode Eight, again another AMA, As Me Anything, I connected with Sowm. She is also a seasoned consultant and she really did a nice job sharing her own career journey and consulting and what she loves about the profession. In this episode, her and I gave advice to one of my mentees who has some colleagues of theirs that were driving them crazy, trying to steal, take the credit for their work, trying to position themselves for promotion. Let’s hear what Sowm had to say.
“Given that, Sowm, what would you say makes a great consultant based on your experiences?
The way I look at consulting, Christie, is a little bit different. For me consulting has more to do with people than projects because it’s such a huge component, like a human component associated with it. We work with people every day and we are helping them. That’s how I look at consultants. I think the biggest thing would be to find meaning in what we do. I think in my opinion, for a great consultant, they should know why they’re doing what they’re doing. I think finding that line is very important. Yes, they could be testing a software and if that’s all you see, you’re missing out because you’re making bigger impact and that you might be testing a software that’s going to be used in a hospital and could save somebody’s life one day. Know what impact you’re really making. It’s always bigger than what you see.”
In Episode Nine, this is another Crossroads Interview with Joan, and Joan is interesting. She’s got an interesting story. She’s a very successful, high-performing consultant, and she’s really gotten to a crossroads where she wants to really do more meaningful work in the non-profit space potentially. During the show, we explore and discuss some options for her. This was such an incredible episode because in that moment, you can really sense that Joan was discovering what really mattered to her when it comes to owning her career.
“I think a lot of that does have to do with maybe me not trusting myself enough and wanting to go out for external approval, whether it’s speaking with family members or friends. In some ways, I do think that it is felt universally. It’s not just me, but I think that it’s really needing to have to deal with that situation of I need to trust myself enough to make this decision and not worry about what others think of me making those decisions.”
I’m so thankful that you got a chance to listen to those snippets and if you have not listened to the episodes I just recapped, please go to www.MECEMuse.com. When we started this show we were on SoundCloud and iTunes. We’re also on Stitcher and I think we’re also on Blubrry as well. A couple other avenues you can definitely check this show out. Again, thank you so much for all of your support.
I’m going to pivot for the rest of this bench episode. I’m going to share a quick highlight of some episodes to come so you can know what to expect. I’m going to start with Episode Eleven. We get a chance to do our first Quick Wins. Quick Wins are essentially interviews where we have an individual come in and showcase either a product or service that they offer that would really be beneficial to consultants. I call it consulting toolkit types of information. For episode eleven, with our Quick Wins we have Luis Vazquez of MightyIntrovert.com. In the episode that we do, Luis really shares insights of how introverts can really bring their authentic self into their work, and create influence without really changing who they are. That hits home for me. I’m an introvert, I’m going to play a quick highlight of some of the thoughts that Luis had to share with us.
“What would you say is one of the common pitfalls you see with introverts that can impede their success? I know with your course, it seems like you’re very interactive. The people that take your course. There’s that feedback loop which is great. What are some of the common threads that you see as people are trying to figure out what their introversion mean and how to really leverage it?
The most common pitfall that I see and probably the most important one to address, whether an introvert wants to admit it or not, is the lack of confidence. A lot of introverts, they don’t do things because of a lack of confidence. In reality, the way we can gain confidence, it’s not even only introverts, but even consultants, everyone, is just by understanding things better and by asking the right questions. Once you understand, you get that information that you understand, you become more confident in applying it or implementing it. We’re all in sales whether we like it or not. Consultants especially, since they’re constantly interacting with clients, they need to convince someone that this is the best strategy, and that this is the best way to go for you to get the results that you’re aiming to achieve.”
For Episode Twelve, I did my first ‘Where Are They Now?’ The ‘Where Are They Now?’ are interviews where I get a chance to connect with one of my favorite colleagues that was rock star. They have the brand of a rockstar when we were working together at the firm. I really loved working with them so I got a chance to connect. I’ve had a couple of colleagues that I’m going to be connecting with the show, but for episode twelve, I got a chance to connect with Ron who’s doing great things. In this episode, actually Ron gives one of my mentees advice on how to deal with peer pressure drinking, which he experienced himself. I’m going to play a snippet of that.
“I actually have a situation where I was actually in that same predicament. Actually, it was the first project I worked on in my consulting career. I was the youngest on the team. I was 21, 22 at the time and the other gentleman on the project were 40 plus. They liked having me around because I knew where the girls were. I knew all the hangout spots. I knew where the party was and that’s what they wanted to do while they were away from home on this particular project. I was pressured into drinking quite a bit of alcohol and not only after the work day, but also during lunch where they will make sure that I went to lunch with and we’ll have a couple of cocktails or a couple of bottles of wine and we would all go to dinner together.
At dinner, we would have bottles of wine, a few cocktails there. Then we’ll go to a either a wine bar or some type of dad bar or a regular bar or a club after we would leave dinner at night and continue the drinking where we would have tabs in the thousands of dollars and I’m talking about this was taking place three or four nights a week depending on what our deadlines were and how long we needed to be at the client site that particular week. The first month of so, I was fresh out of college. I was used to drinking heavily, used to partying all night long, but what happened to me was that I would tend to oversleep. Instead of getting to the office at 8:00 like everyone else, I would get there between 9:00, 9:30.”
You want to check that episode out. There is so much we talked about in that episode that tease up for future additions. Make sure to check out episode twelve. Episode Thirteen is another Crossroads Interview. It’s actually with Michaela. I call it a special Crossroads because this one, Michaela actually just accepted her very first consulting firm offer. I was super excited. I had been connecting with Michaela and coaching and supporting her recruitment process. When she let me know she got her first offer, I was so excited. In this episode, she really shares what she did to prepare and to really differentiate her candidacy and then I share little bit of a guidance on things she should consider going into her first role.
“What were some of the things that you felt that you did? You mentioned earlier about case interviews, what were some of the things that you did to prepare that you felt really helped you and differentiate your candidacy versus others?
I was pretty purposeful. I knew that there were certain elements and boxes that I needed to check. It honestly isn’t just one thing. I think all of these things are absolutely necessary. It was the case prep, the networking, the internal experience, the external experience, and then the general biotech news. I’ll go through each of these. For the case prep, I started probably about six months ago doing a case a week with our local cases practice group.”
For Episode Fourteen, I do an AMA, Ask Me Anything interview with Ed. He is a seasoned consultant. He’s on the partner path and he really gives advice to career consultants. People who, like myself grew up in consulting. What are ways that you can create more breadth and depth to your experience?
“For people that may have been in consulting and they built what I call a career consultant, they grew up in a specific firm or doing this type of work, what type of advice would you give an individual like that knowing that you have both the industry and have that expertise and coming into consulting? What advice would you give them that they may not see given that they’ve had more of a linear path?
“One that I always argue about is that career consultants are really strong at all of being a consultant. They’ve got great people skills. They know how to marshal resources. They are able to lead. They got all the great top skills and abilities. As a career consultant, don’t lose side of the fact that you haven’t operationalized your recommendations. When you go to the client and say, “You should do X, Y and Z,” you haven’t actually done the work so to speak to actually implementing your recommendation, to actually see what the outcome of it is. There’s a lot of value to having had the business side of it, having to actually operationalize some of what we’re recommending, because then you see all the downstream effects.”
That wraps up now’s bench episode. As you can see, we’ve already got nine episodes down. We’re gearing up and heading into our second month. I can’t wait to see where this brings us. Please continue to share us your feedback, share questions, MECEMuseUnplugged@Gmail.com. With that, I would like to thank all of my go-getters for tuning in. This is Christie Lindor, signing out for the MECE MUSE Unplugged Popup Podcast. Here’s to your journey to greatness.
Thank you for listening. I hope you enjoyed our episode. This pop-up podcast was inspired by my upcoming book, the The MECE Muse : 100+ Selected Practices, Unwritten Rules, and Habits of Great Consultants. I have people asking me over the last year many questions about this book, but the one question that comes up constantly is, “Christie, you have such a demanding career. How did you find time to write this book?” Honestly, the answer is simple. I really sought to become the mentor that I wish I had earlier in my career. In the beginning of my career, I didn’t have many mentors and mental maps of what success really looked like. I really struggled with that in a lot of different ways. What’s nice about struggles is that I overcame them. I grew stronger and more competent and I’m so excited where I am now in my career.
I just want to share what I’ve learned and be able to help you. I wrote the book with my years of experience, but I also had an amazing opportunity to connect with over 50 or so consulting partners and leaders across the industry, sharing their stories. They are antidotes, their resources on how you can be a great consultant yourself. Do me a favor, pick up your phone right now. Go to www.MECEMuse.com. I’d love to hear your feedback on my book as well as the podcast. Thanks again for listening and here’s to your journey to greatness.
Links from today’s episode: