Thursday, May 1, 2008

Consultants: Blogging Is Not a One Way Street

In the last 24 hours I have had somewhat of a tense dialogue over e-mail with a well-known consultant and author who shall remain nameless. If you go back to posts I have made in this blog, I have mentioned him and have even linked to his blog on several occasions.

The dialogue has been tense, mostly for me, because the consultant is a very confident man. He's very successful at what he does and he's not ashamed to show it in his words and actions. Confident people are like brick walls - good luck swaying them to your point of view. They won't budge!

I took this consultant to task on a recent blog post he made about how professionals should look, speak and act like a success. I couldn't agree more. What rubbed me the wrong way was how he immediately dismissed a woman he mentioned in his post as being someone worthy of doing business with him because she mentioned how high gas prices were. He also mentioned that if someone complained to him about the quality of service at Southwest Airlines, his reply is that he wouldn't know because he never flies an airline that doesn't have a first-class cabin.

I replied to his blog post and basically said, don't judge a book by it's cover. The woman probably has a business where gasoline is an overhead expense and it is cutting in to her profit margin. She knows the value of a dollar and what it can do for her and her business.

Rather than getting a response to my comment in his blog post, the consultant e-mails me directly. He tells me I missed the point entirely, that if you are talking about high gas prices you probably aren't doing all that well and that you probably don't hang out with other successful people so why should he do business with me or others like me?

No, sir - I got your point the first time. I just disagree with how people can be easily dismissed by you just because they were trying to make conversation with you.

When I received the consultant's e-mail I replied thanking him for his feedback and honesty, but I wished he would have posted his response to me in the comments of his blog post. This way, others can join in the conversation and choose to either agree or disagree with either one of us and offer their own thoughts and opinions. To which he replied, he doesn't reply to comments on his blog, it's not a forum for debate and he is not going to debate me any longer. Oh, and I also missed his point entirely - again!

Two things are apparent here:

  1. Blogging is not a one way street. If you are a consultant and intend to blog be prepared to take some heat and have a conversation with your readers. Listen to their opinions and defend yours if necessary. This particular consultant is a little late on the blogging scene. I've been blogging one year longer than he has and I already know that it is a forum for communication, not broadcasting.
  2. The attitude of this consultant and others like him is what I fear tarnishes our profession. I know of some business professionals (and I'm sure you do too) that would not do business with this consultant based on how he sees other people.
The consultant I speak of may or may not know I am writing about him or responding to our recent "conversation". He can call me a coward for not mentioning his name, but frankly I don't want to give him any more publicity. He does fine on his own. If he does visit this blog and read this post, I invite him to comment on this blog and I will respond to his comments on this blog. It is, after all, a forum for a respectful conversation.


Mike Fisch said...

I fly Southwest because it's cheap and reliable. It's a good thing I wouldn't find myself sitting next to this person because there wouldn't be enough room in coach for him and his ego!

Justin Beller said...

Ah, be careful there Mike. Using words like "cheap" might make me think you are a penny pincher and I don't know if I want to do business with you.

Kidding aside, some of the most successful people I know are that way because they know the value of a dollar and how to leverage it to their advantage. If you are successful, you certainly shouldn't deny yourself any luxuries in life. You worked hard and you deserve it, but success isn't measured by the amount of money you have in the bank.

Men like Idaho's own J.R. Simplot don't make their fortunes by throwing their money around. They know where their money is going and how it works for them.

I know you can't take it with you when you go and life is too short to live like Mr. Scrooge, but make the most of the short-term to have a better life in the long-term.

Kevin Berchelmann said...

Hmmm, I have a few thoughts here.

1. Having read your blog post on (you do understand the "contrarian" meaning there, eh?), I failed to see the "...took this consultant to task " you mention. In fact, if you truly disagreed, I'm not sure that even came out with your comments.

2. What Weiss wrote is correct... for successful, independent consultants. If gas is "eating into your margins," it's a function of weak revenue, not excessive costs. Fix the revenue problem, all else becomes trivial.

3. Your comments on blogging (not a one-way street) are likely accurate, though lost in the stream of defensiveness regarding Weiss in general.

4. Trust me, Alan Weiss does nothing to "tarnish the reputation" of successful consultants (there's that key word again).

Success begets success. I'm sure there are people that will not do business with me for some manufactured reason... I'm OK with that. there are enough who think otherwise to make that small audience inconsequential.

just my thoughts...

Kevin Berchelmann
Berchelmann's Blog

Justin Beller said...

Fair observations, Kevin.

I just want to make myself clear regarding my comment on Mr. Weiss' blog and my response posted here on this blog.

I was very disappointed in how Mr. Weiss chose to view the woman who made a comment to him about gas prices. She was easily dismissed as someone unworthy of doing business with him. My guess she was doing nothing more than trying to have a conversation with him. I feel sorry for this woman.

I've purchased two of Mr. Weiss' books (Getting Started and Million Dollar) and have recommended them to other consultants and those just starting out in the profession. I have mixed reviews on each and my opinion of Mr. Weiss, unfortunately, has changed considerably.

Since becoming a subscriber to Mr. Weiss' blog and reading his posts, listening to his podcasts and watching his videos, I have come to the conclusion that he and I are not cut from the same cloth.

When I say blogging is not a one way street I'm speaking specifically to Mr. Weiss' refusal to comment on his own blog. I'm sorry that was not clear and probably should have been stated earlier on. In my e-mail response to him, I said he was missing out on an opportunity to share his rebuttal with the rest of his readers by not commenting. This way, more people have an opportunity to learn and contribute to the conversation. If Mr. Wiess want to simply use his blog as a virtual soapbox, then he should turn the comments feature on his blog off. I comment on blogs to have a conversation not only with the author, but with other readers. If Mr. Weiss does not want to be the facilitator of the conversation, then he needs to remove his blog and go back to posting articles on his website. It his perogative.

Much of Mr. Weiss' published content is useful, but I now consume it with a grain of salt. It needs to be updated, especially for the age we live in (internet, websites, blogging, etc.). I guess at the end of the day, my attempt to make him see the error of his ways in how he relates to people failed. That's OK. It's not my job to do so.

If anybody is at fault, it is me. I chose to look up to someone I thought the epitome of consulting. I guess I was wrong.