10 Characteristics of a great consultant

As information explodes and new technologies such as cognitive computing become a reality,  certain professionals, subject matter experts and consultants may well ask what skills and capabilities they really need to continue to add value in the future.


After all, most technical queries can be answered through a simple online search so who really needs to pay a consultant to repeat what can easily be found online? (more…)

The important difference between leading and managing

There is a crucial role for both managers and leaders in a software project environment.  These two different roles are complimentary and involve different skill sets which need to come to the front at different stages and for different reasons in a project.    They could even be held by the same person. The role of a leader is not necessarily more desirable than that of a manager – in many situations the focus must remain on getting things done and focus on deliverables is often a good thing.  



Online learning – the future of professional development?

As e-learning continues to evolve we might ask how will online training develop in future, how relevant e-learning will become to  professional development,  and how the e-learning industry itself will develop?

Professional Development

e-Learning is an already established way of using technology to facilitate the learning and development process.  It is particularly suited for professional development.   But far from being a stable, mature field, e-learning is in fact still evolving rapidly. As new technologies become ubiquitous, people are becoming accustomed to learning new skills in a range of situations; both at work and outside of work. Professionals are increasingly using e-learning for their own development.  New content providers are emerging all the time and a whole new industry is forming around online training courses.
Mobile devices have recently made it possible to easily deliver rich media to almost any device that has a connection to the internet. This enables learning and development to take place even while commuting, while exercising, at your desk and in the office.  In fact, in the crowded busy life of a professional, arguably the only time for development is while commuting or exercising.


How to write for the web

Yesterday I was having coffee with a friend who has been very successful in growing a technology business based on training and SharePoint consulting. During the conversation she revealed that she rarely, if ever read business books to completion.

“There is no time”.

Life for working professionals is just too busy to read articles at leisure, whether you are a “solopreneur”, an entrepreneur or even if you are working for an established company. I could relate to what she said next – “when reading a article on the web I rarely get past the third paragraph”!

Me too!


How to prepare for an important presentation

Most people are really anxious about any form of public speaking. Yet presenting to an audience is not optional for any professional, and it is vital for leaders.  The speaking platform offers you the opportunity to connect and impact people with your message.   It is a chance for you to communicate something important.   It will certainly sharpen your leadership skills. When asked to present an important presentation (and you will),  you will  probably feel simultaneously exhilarated at the possibilities, yet at the same time you will be fighting the fear of speaking in public. This is normal.


In the days preceding an important presentation you will have the opportunity to prepare a message that is powerful, relevant and impactful. How do you go about making the most of this time to prepare? My own experience of public speaking has been a series of highs and lows, and after many years both volunteering and being asked to speak I want to share with you the way I personally go about preparing for an important presentation. This might help you when faced with the same situation.

Much of what I describe below is common sense and there are multiple resources on the web to help speakers. I will focus on the critical preparation stage.  If you are well prepared then you will enjoy yourself more, communicate more effectively and come across more professionally.


How to build your personal brand

All hat and no cattle

In Texas there is a great expression “All hat and no cattle“, referring to someone who pretends to be more than he is worth through exaggerated outward signs of wealth and prosperity.  Getting the balance right when building your own personal brand is something that will increasingly pay dividends over and over again.  Yet most people don’t pay any attention to this aspect of their professional lives.

Hat and cattle

Last week I had the interesting experience of attending a free seminar for business owners and entrepreneurs.  The seminar promised wealth and a “life changing experience”.   I’m not really sure why I went, perhaps curiosity got the better of my judgement.  Although I rapidly came to the conclusion that this particular “wealth coaching” was not for me; the experience was nevertheless useful because it highlighted several misperceptions about a personal brand that I think are important to share.

The mainly young audience at this seminar was encouraged to “dress up” to impress and many did. There was a display from which you could buy really expensive “power ties”. You could get your photograph taken next to a so called “celebrity figure” (who I had never heard of before). Name dropping successful billionaires and American movie celebrities was the order of the day. Many in the audience seemed unable to withhold their unsupressed desire to become rich quickly.  Flying first class, homes on the ocean, a jet-setter lifestyle, owning multiple businesses and brands across the planet.  All you need to do is play the part, the rest comes easily.  (Not).

I found the whole experience rather shallow and left early.  Wealth does not come because you start wearing a suit.   But I believe that your personal brand does matter.  Here’s why: