The Recovering Farmer

Thursday, March 17, 2011

On Being a Consultant

I have finally gotten to the stage where I call myself a consultant. It has taken some time and I still do not feel entirely comfortable with that tag. Aside from the story I am about tell you I suspect going from farmer to recovering farmer to consultant is a leap that may well require further therapy. Perhaps a support group. Who knows. The reason I feel hesitant about this is due to my experience with consultants in the past. In my involvement with Agricultural Commodity groups we often needed the assistance of consultants to examine and implement various business plans. I always felt that too much money was being spent on teaching these consultants what our business or commodity was about, before they could offer any opinions or advice on where we needed to go. So needless to say, when I came across the following story I felt validated about my feelings in the past and unsure of whether consultant was the right title for the work I now do. Before I go any further let me share that story with you. Not sure where it originates so I can’t really give anyone credit for it. Here goes.

It happens that a cattle farmer is out checking his herd one day when a BMW pulls up to the gate. The farmer saunters over to see what would bring a luxurious car like that down a dry, dusty country road. The gentleman driving the car jumps out, dressed in an expensive suit wearing expensive sun glasses exuding wealth. (I am making that part up because how would I know an expensive suit from a cheap suit) He asks the farmer, “If I tell you exactly how many cows and calves you have will you give me a calf?” The farmer, not thinking that there is any chance of this, agrees. Without hesitation the man pulls out his laptop, connects it to his cell phone and begins surfing the internet. In no time he calls up a GPS satellite which in turn scans the pasture. He downloads the information to an image processing program on his computer which in turn transfers it to an Excel worksheet and in a matter of minutes turns to the farmer and says, `there are exactly 1462 cows and calves.` The farmer has no choice but to acknowledge that the man is correct and tells him to pick a calf. As the man is putting the animal into his trunk the farmer asks the man, `if I tell you exactly what your job is will you give me back my calf?´ The man agrees and the farmer tells him, quite emphatically, that he must be a consultant. The man is rather surprised that the farmer guessed this and asks him how he could have possibly known that. Without hesitation the farmer replies, “ You showed up here though nobody called you, you want to get paid for an answer I already knew, to a question I never asked and you don’t know anything about my business. . . Now give me back my dog.”

So, as Paul Harvey used to say, now you know the rest of the story. I am going with it. I am a consultant. I will make this work. Now I just need to work on my self-esteem to be able to sell myself. Although I am reminded of the saying, “inside each self-assured person is a neurotic hoping to succeed before they are found out”. Make it a good one.

No comments:

Post a Comment