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TAG: Consulting

The incredible story of a spurned IT consultant

Unhappy IT Worker

The unusual story of Jim Kubicek, an IT consultant and business owner in Cumming, Georgia captured my attention recently. Due to a disagreement with the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce having unpaid bills, Jim’s company KIT cut off its services. What followed was the local Sheriff charging Jim with “theft by extortion”, “computer theft”, and “computer trespass”. All of these felonies could conceivably see Jim spending 45 years in jail. Incredibly, this is a small town with a population of 5,613, so I’d expect people like Jim are known to a large number of people in his local area. This is becoming a far-too-common cautionary tale we can learn from.

The Elevator Pitch

@jimayson on #SmartDevNet elevator pitch

Photo Credit: Flickr

2013 has been an interesting year for myself, and Calwell. It has been a good year to be involved with technology consulting, and we’ve has helped solve a great deal of technology challenges. During the year, I’ve also seen a great shift. More prolific blogging about real products and ideas. More companies and individuals interested in having me be a part of ideas they’ve created. I have had a few ideas of my own over the years; but I am now in a better position than ever to support and invest in other ideas.

What connects all of this is Calwell’s continued growth. Through the great number of challenges faced and starting with almost little support and less investment – Calwell was not supposed to succeed. Over the years, however, a great deal of amazing folks grew to support what I was doing and that grew to something I’m proud of today. Sure, it’s ongoing, but I’ve learned a lot about this thing called “independent contracting”. Today, many see this as something they want to do. On an average day, I see a number of elevator pitches from various companies and individuals – many of them I have started to invest in.

What Does It Take To Be A Great “IT Consultant”?

penguinI am an Information Technology Consultant. Yes, that’s my day job. I manage, maintain, repair, and work with all kinds of technology in the Greater Toronto Area. I’ve, in the past, mused on the different aspects of what it takes to be a Consultant (self employed or not), whether it be the dark side of the craft, various essential tools, or tips on how to work better. But, one topic I’ve never broached is: What does it take to be a great IT Consultant?

What are kinds of skills and qualities do you want to work at to be the best you can be in this (at times) difficult line of work? Are you interested in starting your own business in IT and wonder if you can do it? Well, you’ve come to the right place.

Consulting – What Do You Do With Downtime?

Downtime

In the life of a person who consults, there will clearly be many struggles and stresses – but, one of the biggest will be what he or she does with the time that they aren’t actively working or pursuing work. To most of us, this time is called “down time”; a time to get away from work and do other things. But, to a consultant, this can be some of the most important and valuable moments.

I wanted to explore some of the things I’ve done and how to best make use of these very important moments.

First off though, I’d like to tell you one of those “I learned the hard way” kind of stories. Early on as a consultant the work was plentiful and the downtime was not. I would be working sixty or more hours a week and, when it came time to stop, I would find more things to work on – extra paperwork, more programming, working on other projects. This downtime was essentially erased by more work. What happened wasn’t well understood at the time, but it was plenty powerful. It started off slower – I would sleep and find it difficult to wake up – and then become a mess and spend a complete day in a daze. This had to have been burnout.

Consulting: The Enemy Of My Enemy Lacks Clarity

Stop SignSo many in technology and consulting are amazing at what they do. They can figure out things no one else can. But, they, like the rest of us are at war with one of the most difficult obstacles. Is is their own internal dialog? Is it the other companies that want the business? Is it the client that second guesses them? No, they’re at war with the one thing that levels the playing field. You might call it clarity, understanding or transparency, but with this simple piece missing, the most brilliant person is reduced to ineffective.

Consulting: The Circle Of Empathy

empWhile reading Jaron Lanier’s fascinating book named You Are Not a Gadget, he speaks of a very interesting concept that I think resonates with all of us. This concept, the Circle of Empathy posits that we all have a circle of people, places, and things that are most important to us – and everything outside of that can die without us worrying too much. The question is, from day to day, what fits inside of this circle and what should be placed outside of it? That’s a tougher questions to answer than you might think – everyone is different in how they would answer. When related to Consulting, the idea of a empathy circle has to be inflated for you to succeed.

IT Consulting: The Hollywood Complex

Hollwood-ComplexI warn you, this post has nothing to do with movies or hollywood per se. This post is about the users you support as a consultant and an interesting complex that starts occurring over time. This complex happens when the user, needing help, thinks he or she has something of unique and glorious significance (although it’s likely not anything more than a mundane issue). This interesting complex, one that I call the hollywood complex, can really skew the way we support clients – and even make solving issues more difficult.

Consulting: How NOT To Be Taken Advantage Of For Your Talents

Consulting-MoneyThere is a time in any skilled freelancer/consultant’s life when someone they know comes up to them and says “Can you help me with ” and said person expects you to do that for nothing. Even worse, they may give you the runaround or play you more as you’re doing something to help them. Here are some simple rules to follow when you’re gut’s telling you the person looking to you is after “something for nothing”.

Consulting: How Long Can You Keep Working?

Retirement-LaneRecently, I met a 70 year old former engineer, who by all accounts was in great shape for his age. I remember thinking I’d like to look that good at 70. He had been a mechanical engineer for more than forty years and recently left the industry he enjoyed to retire. These days, he tells me travel and leisure take up a good portion of his time. We struck up a conversation about length of work, working on what you love and why he left. This gave me great perspective on work, the future of the work we do, and how long I might continue to be an IT Guy in an industry filled with younger folks.

Consulting: Is The Customer Always Right?

Question
Photo Credit

I run a small business. I handle customer service and I’m also a customer to other businesses. Often, the phrase “The customer is always right” is mentioned in passing or sort of in jest when someone talks of a customer/business disagreement. There is actually a history to this phrase that dates back to the early 20th century. But I wanted to talk about whether, as a consultant and a business owner, is it really true that the customer is always right?