The Ultimate Tip

This article concludes five years of the “hot tip of the month,” spanning categories from rebutting objections to establishing fees, and from professional development to marketing. I’m bringing it to an end here not because I don’t have more to say–a continuing stream of books, tapes, articles, and newsletters will attest to that–but because this forum is becoming unwieldy in its sheer volume.

This edition brings us to the 60th entry, one a month, unfailing, for our duration. All the tips will remain on these pages, indexed, for complimentary downloading, ongoing reference, and incentive for new readers.

This final “hot tip” is my ultimate tip, not just in the sense of being the final one, but in terms of being, perhaps, the most important.

If you want to be successful as a consultant, speaker, trainer, facilitator, coach, or entrepreneur in general, here is the ultimate tip: First be successful as a person.

As Popeye said, “I am what I am.” Robespierre observed that no man has the ability to step outside the shadow of his own character. You must be comfortable with yourself as a contributing human being if you are to be comfortable and successful as a contributing professional.

I’ve found very, very few good, hard working people who fail dismally as professionals. Similarly, I’ve found few conniving, insincere, unethical people who succeed spectacularly in their work. Oh, there are temporary anomalies, and we’ve all had bosses at one time or another who should have been lobotomized for the good of the company, but those are the exceptions.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably not an “organization man” (or woman). You’re an entrepreneur trying to do the best you can running your own practice or business. And, funny thing, I’ve long noticed that the harder I work, the luckier I get. The more that I plan and anticipate, the more the breaks tend to fall in my direction.

If you improve your own performance as a person, you’ll improve your business. Are you creating happiness, and not just consuming it? Are you a sincere lover, an engaging friend, a loyal colleague? Do you do what you say you will do, and is it predicated on what’s right and not just what’s expedient? Are you tolerant of honest differences but intolerant of unethical behavior and corrupt actions?

Your clients don’t have to like you, but they should respect you and admire you (and liking you, of course, doesn’t hurt). How does your family regard you? How do your friends react to you? How do your colleagues perceive you?

Ultimately, as Billy Joel sang it, we all have to get up with ourselves. Are you a person whom you would respect and admire as a friend? If not, what do you have to change about yourself? If so, then how do you also convey that in your business?

The job is merely a means to an end. Your life is that end. How are you living it?

– Alan Weiss
– October 1, 2001