This is something that I learned the hard way several years ago, and it popped up again recently with one of our project managers in one of their mastermind groups.

What is a Mastermind Group?

If anybody out there is not in a mastermind group, if you’re running a business and you’re not in a mastermind group, I highly, highly recommend it. It’s a group of peers, people that do similar kinds of things that all share their experiences, and hold you accountable, and help you grow your business.

What Happened?

But, this is something that happened recently for one of my project managers, is that she got started in her mastermind group. It was her first mastermind group with this particular group. She was showing the structure of the organization. Immediately, she got in talking about revenue, and profit and loss, et cetera, et cetera, for each one of the different entities within our organization. One guy in the group, and a couple other people in the group immediately jumped in and were like, “No, no, no. You’re messing it all up. This is not gonna work. This is not the way to do things. You’re not doing things the right way.” She got really, really, really disheartened. She was upset. She came to talk to me. She was like, “Oh my God, we’re totally screwing the whole thing up.”

You can’t understand the operations of a business in one hour.

What I told her was something that I had learned in consulting, years and years and years ago, is that if you’re looking at business that’s 20 years old, that’s running multiple different sub-organizations, there is no possible way you can understand what that business does, what happened, how the business operates, et cetera, in one hour. It’s not possible. You can’t do it. If you think that you’re doing it, then you’re doing it wrong. I mean, there are obvious things that you can look and you can be like, “Huh. Why is this a thing?”

How I got schooled, hard.

This is the mistake that I made years ago. I would go into a business and I would take a look and be like, “Oh, you’re doing all this stuff wrong.” There were a few times where I got totally, totally schooled, like schooled so hard, I looked like an idiot, because I came in making recommendations and I was completely wrong. I had no idea what I was talking about.

After that, what I did is I always started off by asking questions. If I saw a problem, rather than saying, “You’re doing it wrong,” I now come in and I say, “Okay, tell me about this thing. Tell me the story behind this thing. How did this thing get to be like this? Why are you doing it like this? Go through all of this with me.”

Then, after I have a really clear, thorough understanding of the business, and holistically what’s going on, then I make recommendations. But, if i don’t have all that understanding, if I start just making recommendations, I’m gonna look like an idiot. I don’t want to say that the people that were in her mastermind group were idiots, because that’s not the case at all. They’re smart people. But, they didn’t have a background in consulting.

After some thought, things changed.

After I sat down and we worked through what the people had recommended, she said, “Oh, you’re right. I just didn’t explain it properly. I did not do a good job of going through this with them to help them understand this.” But also, neither did they ask the questions.

The moral of the story

So, moral of the story: If you’re taking on a consulting gig, and that would be web and app development, that can be freelance, that can be creative, that can be all sorts of things, start off by asking questions.

Understand the situation as thoroughly as possible before moving on to make recommendations. Otherwise, you’re gonna get schooled and you’re gonna look like an idiot.

That’s today’s lesson. I hope this is helpful. Have a great day. Bye.