Businesses in different industries are facing unprecedented challenges during this time of pandemic and consulting is no exception. How can professionals in the industry pivot their services and products so that they can continue to thrive and reap success in the midst of all the uncertainty? This is the theme of Michael Zipursky’s latest book, Act Now, which he talks about in this interview with Melanie Parish. Michael is the host of Consulting Success Podcast, where he interviews thought leaders in the industry, and author of Amazon bestsellers, The Elite Consulting Mind and Consulting Success. Now is a good time to rethink your consulting business so that you can thrive in these uncertain times. Learn about what Michael can offer you to help plus his personal insights on being an experimental leader.
Listen to the podcast here:
The Essentials Of Consulting Success: How To Thrive During Uncertain Times With Michael Zipursky
I'm here with Michael Zipursky. He's the CEO of Consulting Success and coach to consultants. He has advised organizations like Financial Times, Dow Jones, RBC, and helped Panasonic launch new products into global markets. More importantly, he's helped over 400 consultants from around the world in over 75 industries add 6 and 7 figures to their annual revenues. Over 35,000 consultants read his weekly consulting newsletter. Michael is also the author of the Amazon Best Sellers ACT NOW: How successful consultants thrive during chaos and uncertainty, The Elite Consulting Mind and Consulting Success, the book.
Michael, I'm super excited to have you on the show.
Melanie, thanks. It's great to be with you.
What work are you doing in your life now?
It’s the same work that I've been doing for several years. I’m very connected to what I've been doing for many years, which is first growing consulting businesses and the last several years helping consultants to grow their businesses.
What are you up to specifically in your business now?
We're number one working with our clients, those in our coaching program and working closely with them. Helping them to look at different areas of their business from their messaging and putting marketing systems in place to different ways to grow and build their team, create more impact, more leverage, and optimize their business models. I spend the rest of my time developing new training materials, best practices, jumping on our podcast and interviewing great people, which is wonderful to have you as a guest on that show. That's Consulting Success Podcast and then writing books. I put out a book not too long ago, at the height of everything going on in the world and COVID, and a lot of uncertainty.
I interviewed six thought leaders, people like Rita McGrath, Jill Konrath, Perry Marshall, Martin Lindstrom, and others on what they were doing in their businesses, how they were shifting and what they thought. It was all great information and very consistent, which when you study high performers and people who have achieved success, you see a lot of parallels and a lot of lines that run through and the people share. I published that book with the team as a big team effort to get out as quickly as possible. From concept to having published on Amazon, it was three weeks. We've now had many thousands of people access that book. I mentioned to you before jumping on and happy to make a free copy available to all readers. The goal of that is to help people. We're in a challenging time. It's still a lot of uncertainty. I'm doing what we can to support the community.
What were some of the takeaways that you had with those people that you interviewed? What were the things that you said a lot of the advice was the same? What were some of the key things that you learned?
We can break it down into three parts. The first part is about surviving. It's what can you do as a business owner or as a leader that can help you to survive and manage. That's simply looking at things within your business or your organization and thinking, “Where's their inefficiency? Where's their waste?” What can you cut that isn't that necessary to give you more room, more time to figure things out or expand your runway or increase your profitability? Put yourself in a better, whether it's a financial position or a resource and time and focus position. That's the first thing. A great exercise that people can go through is looking at, where are you spending your money and where are you spending your time?
Ask the question of, is the outcome or benefit that you're deriving from this valuable? You should not go down the path of cutting things that are creating value. Whether it's a direct return on investment. You're seeing sales growth from it. Don't cut it. Even something that if you're not seeing direct sales from it, but you're feeling better because it's in your life, don't cut it. There's a lot of waste that we all accumulate. This is a great time to look at, where is that waste? Where's that inefficiency? Getting rid of it. That was number one in terms of a big theme.
Number two was about doubling down to connect and add value for those that you serve. In our case, our world is consultants. I spent a lot of time still now, but especially at the height, of things happening, working closely with our clients. I spent, for example, Saturday mornings, on many weekends calling clients not to talk business, but to talk about them, their lives and their families, and how are they doing and their kids doing? How's everyone handling things? It’s a great opportunity to add more value to every relationship that you have. That's with your existing clients or those in your world, but also the larger community. I spent a lot of time free educational webinars or videos or live streams on YouTube or LinkedIn.
The whole idea behind that is what can you do to add value to those that are in your world, even if it doesn't create more money right away, what you're doing is planting the seeds for the future. The third big theme was that because there's a lot of uncertainty, a big excuse that many people make is the way no one's buying now. There's no commerce. There's no trade happening. That's not true. Your clients are those that you are looking to serve and to add value for, their problems didn't go away. If anything, their problems increased. They have more problems now than they had before. This is not a time to back down.
This is a time to lead through a demonstration. A great way to do that is to figure out how you can add more value to people. It's a big opportunity to look at how do you adjust your existing services or products so that they fit. They directly connect with the problems that people are having now. One example that I share in the book is your price point on a product or a service may have been X and maybe X is $1,000.
You might need to be a little more flexible with that, but flexibility doesn't mean discounting and having a $500 option although that might make a good sense. It's also about realizing that some people are going to need more support right now than before. Maybe you have a $10,000 offering where you never had that before. Thinking about how you can be flexible with the marketplace and the community that you're serving and making offers, finding ways to support them is more critical than ever before. People again have more problems than they've ever had before.
I liked the three different buckets that you've named on how you start to think about changing the way you do business or pivoting in uncertain times.
People always think when something like this happens, you have to discount. Stop making offers, or you stop selling. It's important that we all bring empathy to those that we're looking to connect with and ultimately engage with. You can't ignore what's happening in the world. Now more than ever before, we know what we're all thinking. Before, you'd have a guess of what your ideal clients are thinking or those that you're working with. We know that everyone now is thinking about the uncertainty and COVID in one form or another. It's important to address that or to at least become compassionate or empathetic with that. That being said, you need to step up and not be shy to connect with people, find ways to add value for people. Whether that is a project or an engagement that happens now or down the road, this is not a time to sit back and wait. This is a time to act, which is why we call the book ACT NOW.
I always like to talk about experimenting. What are you experimenting with within your own business?
The book you could call an experiment because from start to finish three weeks, we put it out. We didn't know what would happen to it. The goal was not to generate money and sales. We're giving away for free. We've given away thousands and thousands of copies of it in digital form. However, it is available in other print and Audible. That's an experiment. Another example is coming up, we're running a new campaign for one of our programs, which is for those that want to transition from the corporate world or being an employee to becoming a consultant. That program is called Momentum.
We've had hundreds and hundreds of people go through that program, but we’ve never done a concentrated campaign with different partners and people that we know. That's something that we're going to be doing for the first time. We're excited about that. With everyone on our team, what we're always looking to do is how can we grow? How can we try new things? There's always a big part of experimentation and learning new things. If you're doing the same things over and over, then you're not growing.
What do you do to collect data when you try something new? How do you know if it's working or not?
We capture the numbers. There are lots of different ways. If we're talking about sales, then we'll track numbers on how many applications did we receive for the coaching program? How many people visited a specific page? How many calls happened? What was the conversion rate of those calls? If it’s connected to, for example, a free resource that we have on the website. We're tracking how many people have downloaded that each month and how many people have joined our list each month? We look at a lot of different analytics in our business, and we also work with a company that manages a lot of our advertising. Although most of our growth has been organic over the years.
We do some targeted advertising on a small scale. They create a spreadsheet for us. Every Friday morning, they update that. I go in once a week and take a look. There are a lot of different rows and cells of data in that. We're big on data. The one challenge with collecting data is that sometimes people get focused on what's called Vanity Metrics. Numbers that don't mean that much. It’s like in the social media world, people are focused on how many likes did I get? How many comments did I get? How many shares did I get?
You can do that stuff all day long, but if it's not translating to something more meaningful for you, like did you land a new client or did you make an impact in someone's life in some form or fashion? We try not to focus on the numbers. We look at what is the outcome that we want and then are the numbers moving in the right direction? If they are, we do more of it, and if they aren't, we figure out what can we change or try differently, and then run another test around that to see what improvement we're seeing.
What do you do to take care of yourself as a leader?
I'm big on exercise. Every morning, I go for a run for 7 days, maybe 6 days a week, but I like to try and do every day if I can. I find number one, that morning run or even that exercise, I was going to the gym a lot before, not so much these days. Going for a run is a great way to clear my mind. It's the only time that I can multitask. I heard that there's no such thing as being able to multitask. People think that they can, but they can't. This is one instance where I truly feel that I can because I'm running. I'm getting the exercise benefit, but I'm listening to podcasts as I'm running. I'm learning as I'm running. I'm able to do two things at once, which is amazing. I get ideas.
When I'm exercising and when I'm out for a walk, essentially when I'm out of the office is when I have some of the best ideas or the biggest sources of inspiration. For me, I do that for that side of it, the business side, the idea side, the learning side, but also the health side. I feel better when I'm exercising or when I'm doing some weights. I also try and eat well in terms of being healthy. My wife makes a delicious morning smoothie that we sit down with the kids. We all have that and have our breakfast each day together.
In addition to that, I feed my mind. I'm constantly consuming podcasts in terms of learning new information, hearing different people being interviewed and reading books. For me, reading books, listening to podcasts, it gives me a lot of new information and helps me to collect best practices. Sometimes something motivational or inspirational. Other times it's something that I can pull out and go, “That's an interesting approach or strategy or tactic. Can we somehow use that in what we're doing? Sometimes we can and sometimes we can’t. That's how I approach feeding my mind, my body and overall health.
What are some of the things you've been experimenting with at home with your family?
My wife and I do date night, which is something that we're not always successful with young kids. We do carve out time once a week where we can spend time with the two of us. That might mean dropping the kids off with my parents. They get to hang out with the grandparents, which they love, and we'll go for a coffee or a walk, catch up and talk about life or it might be an evening where we can sit down and chat. That's something that we weren't always able to because we didn't always do it, but we found that was going to be important for us. We have it on the calendar.
My cousin, business partner Sam came by the office and he looked at my account. He said, “Why do you have hearts in your calendar?” I said, “That's my time with Rica. That’s the time with my wife. It's in there and has a little heart.” That's an important time. The other thing too is fairly I've started with both of my daughters. Saturday mornings is my time with my daughters. It was time for Rica, my wife, to do some stuff herself, to relax or to do things in the house or whatever it is that she wants to do. I have time in the morning with my two daughters on Saturday morning. For example, the last time we went to a local park and we put one of these sunshade tents that we go out. We hung out. We kick balls around, ate some snacks, and had some fun. Those are the newer things that I've been doing and enjoying.
What are you scared of at this time? What's scary to you in the middle of the night when you wake up?
Nothing. I don't find this time to be scary. It's because I choose not to focus on what could be scary. From a young age, I’ve been a positive person. That doesn't mean that there's no negativity in my life or no challenges and hardships. There certainly are and have been. I talk about what’s in ACT NOW, this is one choice. All of us have the same choice every single day. It doesn't matter where we are, where we come from, our backgrounds, any of that stuff, we can choose to wake up in the morning. I know for some of us, it can be harder depending on our circumstances. We can either choose to put on those negative lenses, where we look at any situation and go, “There's something wrong here. What's missing?” Not feel good about it and feel negative, or we can choose to put on those positive lenses and go, “Regardless of what situation we're confronted with this is happening for me, not to me and look for what's good in it. I spend no time watching or listening to the news. I don't allow myself to get pulled down in something negative. If I hear something negative, I'll try and either move away from it and focus on something that is better or I'll look for. That's a challenge. That's something negative, but how do we make it better? There's nothing that scares me about what's going on now.
I see it as a time of great challenge. There's a lot of uncertainty, especially from the health perspective. That part is probably the most concerning. I'm concerned about that in terms of my family's health and especially my parents' health. They're older, but I'm trying to be as positive as possible and keep things moving. If history teaches us one thing because they're having another challenging time like this, not the same as this. Things will get back, not necessarily to normal, but things will improve. Those who huddle and hope that things will get better and waiting for things to pass and there they're focused on all the negativity. They're talking about that with people that they're not going to have much to show for it. While those who use this time to learn something new or to find ways to grow or to take action, they're going to come up much further ahead because they're making great use of this time.
There's so much opportunity at this time.
There's an opportunity that has probably the levels in many different areas and many different industries, the level of opportunity is greater than some people say it might ever be. There’s a small window for some amazing things to happen. It's only if you take action on them.
What do you have as a big dream for yourself for the future?
I feel often like I'm living the dream. Not the things can't be different or better, but I feel fortunate, happy with my life. I have a great family and close to all my family members. I live in a place that is relatively safe. We have access to drinking water, warm sheets. There's so much that I'm like, “This is it." It's a great question, Melanie. I think when this was going on like the challenges early on with COVID. What I said to a lot of people, “There's a lot of hardship that's going to come from this.” Even at this time, most of us are still way better off than the majority of the world is at the best of times.
We have access to clean drinking water, a place to sleep and some money for food and all these other kinds of things. I'm happy and I feel fulfilled with what we've created. I have a great team, a great business, amazing clients. My family is wonderful. My health is good, but I'm always working on it. I feel fulfilled and I feel fortunate, but it doesn't mean that I'm settling. It doesn't mean that I'm saying, “I have everything that I want.” We continue to expand, continue to grow, continue to try new things. For me, that's the most exciting part. The big dream is to continue learning and continue to challenge me and our team to create more and more value and to have higher levels of success, however, you want to define that. I know it can be different for everyone, but we're going in the right direction. That's what I'm feeling fortunate about.
Where can people find you?
It’s ConsultingSuccess.com. It’s the home of everything, but I would also be happy to connect with people on LinkedIn. If they want, look me up, Michael Zipursky on LinkedIn. I mentioned the ACT NOW book, which is ConsultingSuccess.com/actnow.
It has been great to have you on my show. It's been such a pleasure to get to hear what you're up to, what's next for you, and what you're happy with in your life. Thanks for coming on.
Melanie, thank you. I appreciate everything that you're doing to spread the love, the knowledge, and help people to become great leaders.
Thanks. It's fun. I love having these conversations.
I've enjoyed talking with Michael Zipursky. I love his latest book where he talks about three different possibilities in leading in chaotic times. He talks about surviving as the first bucket. He talks about adding more value as the second bucket. Thinking about the customer and what they need, not assuming that the customer is buying less, but figuring out what the customer needs. It may be offering them more. It's important when we start experimenting like we are now to think about what we're considering. What's our end goal? If our end goal is to add value, cut costs, or try and meet customer needs, all of those frames the experiments that we're doing. We can collect data because we know what the goal is. All of that in the experimental leader falls in the realm of intense. That's important. All of these are strategic intense thinking about each one of these buckets. It's been great to have Michael on my show. Go experiment.
About Michael Zipursky
Michael Zipursky is the CEO of Consulting Success® and Coach to Consultants. He has advised organizations like Financial Times, Dow Jones, RBC, and helped Panasonic launch new products into global markets, but more importantly, he’s helped over 400 consultants from around the world in over 75 industries add 6 and 7 figures to their annual revenues. Over 35,000 consultants read his weekly consulting newsletter. Michael is also the author of the Amazon Best Sellers ACT NOW: How successful consultants thrive during chaos and uncertainty, The Elite Consulting Mind and Consulting Success®, the book.
A public speaker, consultant, workshop leader, author, and Master Certified Coach through the International Coach Federation, from whom she received the Prism Award, Melanie is an expert in problem-solving, constraints management, operations, strategic hiring, and brand development.