Life’s an Adventure – Right?
In consulting, there are words that begin many an adventure and many a consulting nightmare: “We have an opportunity…” Opportunities mean that someone (may be the sales person, may be so-and-so who knows so-and-so, may be “that biz dev guy” (who, really, do you ever know what he does?)) has sniffed out a lead on potential work. “Work” meaning potential for someone to pay us for our opinion and hopefully, also our expertise. Hopefully not, just to be the “yes man” (that does happen, just not as often as some portrayals of management consulting would lead you to believe).
In this specific case, said opportunity came from a meeting with Big Poppa from my parent company and a big (well, metaphorically big – can’t say for sure if this person is mass-wise big) Saudi guy. Seems there was healthcare gold to be found in the hills of sand of the KSA. And so, the email comes out: “We have an opportunity…” and I think, “Hmmm…could be interesting.”
A few months later, here I sit drafting up this post in the Frankfurt Airport Lufthansa business lounge outside of the gate that will deposit me on the plane that will take me to Riyadh. For a week in Saudi Arabia. To pursue this magical “opportunity” (consulting opportunities are always magical in my book – they are the rainbow unicorns that we all chase with dreams of cash-filled unicorn poo), has involved:
- Many, many 5am PST conference calls to discuss our strategy to win the hearts & minds of the client (and thus the business)
- Many, many PowerPoint presentations (cobblers make shoes, elves make toys, consultants make PowerPoints) to show the prospect our brand, our quals, or “what we can do for you”
- One trip to New Orleans for a wine (well, since Saudi’s don’t drink alcohol, “tea” is a better word) & dine event with our prospects
- Many more strategy discussions (a consulting sale is like dating: you agonize over how to get someone to like you – dissecting every word, gesture, email in order to decode what they really think about you)
- And then, the decision: you’re going to Riyadh in 10 days, get cracking on those tickets!