I’ll get back to business in short order, but as we head towards the beginning of another new year, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on and share my appreciation for the amazing adventure that has been 2018.
I'm also here to celebrate a birthday—well, the anniversary of JHL Solutions. I incorporated in the winter of last year. Less than two weeks after I had left my corporate job. I hadn't even gotten my last paycheck—but I had a clear view of who I wanted to help.
I left “knowing” that I wanted to strike out on my own as a consultant. This “knowing” was informed by conversations with people I trusted and some online research. I focused in on phrases like:
“I wanted to take some time off, but projects just found me.“I’m totally an accidental consultant.”“You don’t even need to ‘do’ sales, have a website or business card or anything – it’s all about networking.”
Left and right, I felt like I talked to people with similar corporate backgrounds that hit the ground running in the world of consulting.
You might think that you know where this is going and you’re right.
While I wanted to believe my new endeavor was going to materialize fully-formed like a Barbie Dreamhouse on Christmas morning, in the back of my mind I knew I still had a lot of questions about the work I wanted to do and the value that I wanted to bring. Big ones, like:
How do I “be” a consultant?
How do I translate a 17-year career worth of experiences into a meaningful value proposition and menu of services?
How exactly do I pay my own social security tax?
So I did what any data-loving pragmatist would do. I got to work studying and learning.
Boy, did I network. I started with friends and colleagues who I knew from my previous life. And then I met colleagues of theirs. And people at networking events. And people at the kids’ swim lessons. A whole world of people to meet.
I was in professional learning mode. And what I learned came together less like a dream house, but more like building blocks, putting my business together piece by piece. Not those great Millennium Falcon or Ninjago sets that I give my nephews for presents, complete with pictures and instructions. It was more like the ice-cream buckets full of mismatched LEGO knock-offs that I played with as a kid.
And with every book I read, podcast I listened to, and person that I met with, I took away another handful of blocks. Things to consider, things to do, books to buy, classes to attend, networks to join and so on.
Sometimes I got those blocks at the perfect time and could take immediate action in using them to build my business and provide value to my clients. Sometimes, I needed to put them in the bucket and wait until I had the time, energy, budget, and pre-work completed.
Sometimes things came together quickly –sometimes slowly—but my business vision did emerge and began to take shape. Sometimes I got distracted by working on something fun like a cool drawbridge when I really needed to finish the walls and the roof, but I saw progress nearly every day and always every week.
I took the Alan Weiss approach: “Get 1% better every day... and you’ll be a new you 70 days.”
And now, as I come to the one-year anniversary of incorporating, I find it’s a perfect time to pause and reflect on how thankful I am that I have this work and this life. And even more important, to recognize how much I owe to all those who supported me so generously along the way.
So thank you:
to the people who supported me from the beginning
to those who gave their time and insights as mentors and coaches
to the peers, who helped to commiserate and problem-solve
to those that made amazing communities to join (BWN, BWC, The Coven)
to those that listened to my first sales pitch and said, “No thanks”
to those who let me write a proposal and then said, “No thanks”
and to those who trusted me to come into their organizations and make an impact
I can’t thank you enough.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I’ve written and said those words more this year than in any other of my life. (My mom’s mom would be proud.) And not just because I should say it (though I absolutely should) or just because I want to say it (and I so do), but because I need to say it. JHL Solutions wouldn’t be where it is today without you. And I wouldn’t be who I am today without JHL Solutions.
I realized something in the last year: I never asked for a Barbie Dreamhouse growing up. Not once. I had a great time with the slightly-dingy set of bricks that I could turn into just about anything. So, it shouldn’t have surprised me that I would have so loved putting my business together piece by piece, with your amazing support and guidance It’s been a long journey and nothing like I expected, but so very much more.
So, one more time, and from the bottom of my heart,
thanks for the bricks.