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How to succeed at consulting without really trying [opinion]

Nine months ago, my brother retired. If you want to get technical, he went to lunch and never went back.

Now he is launching a second career. We only know about this because my sister-in-law was with him when he filled out a preregistration form at an eye doctor’s office.

My sister-in-law is a saint.

The form asked for his occupation. He entered consultant.

My brother has never worn a white shirt and tie to work, sat behind a desk or chatted up CEOs a single day in his life. Such a job would kill him. It wouldn’t be particularly healthy for those around him either.

As he filled out the registration, my sister-in-law asked exactly when he became a consultant.

“Just now,” he said.

She asked what he does as a consultant, to which he replied, “Whaddya need?”

He also said he would not further discuss the nature of his consulting until they first agreed on a fee.

A consultant is someone who has expertise and experience in a field, or numerous fields, and is willing to share insights and suggestions with others in need of advisement.

Upon hearing my brother has become a consultant, I realized that for years now, I, too, have benefited from the expertise of a consultant who shall remain nameless. Much of the time, I don’t even have to ask for a consultation; ideas and suggestions just roll like the mighty Mississippi.

Fortunately, my consultant does not charge a fee. Then again, if my consultant did charge a fee, I would refuse to pay it and maybe all the unsolicited consulting would screech to a halt.


As one good consult deserves another, I often counter-consult with my own suggestions, insights and commentary on projects my consultant is working on, ideas on how he might improve what he is doing. All this is offered without him even having to ask for a consult. That’s just how willing and eager I am to be of assistance.

There is a lot of consulting and counter-consulting that goes on in this house, and neither one of us would be willing to pay one thin dime for all the free advice.

I mean, consulting.

Naturally, my sister-in-law’s concern was what would happen if the doctor looked at my brother’s occupation and inquired as to what sort of consultant he was.

On second thought, she knew it wouldn’t go far because he would first require the doctor pay a consulting fee.

Lori Borgman is a columnist, author and speaker. Her new book, “What Happens at Grandma’s Stays at Grandma’s” is now available. Email her at

Source: Berkshire mont

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