Jennifer B. Davis
Here is a fun thing to do on a Friday, go Yearbook Yourself to see how you'd look in the hairstyles of different eras. My best ones are posted here. Hilarious! Be sure you to comment and include a link to where yours can be found.

Does make me wonder why a styling products company hasn't created a website like this for trying out different hairstyles (like the famous hairstyles of celebrites like Jennifer Aniston, Posh Beckham, Peggy Fleming, Mary Lou Retton, etc). This exercise sure teaches me that I should avoid perms, bleach blonde coloring, and pin curls.

Jennifer B. Davis
"In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is."
- Jan L.A. van de Snepscheut

"I could never start or run a company. I don't have the killer instinct. I'd rather observe and criticize those who do."
- said jokingly by a friend (a business strategy professor) at a recent dinner party

Perhaps I am letting this entrepreneurial bug bloom into a full-blown infection, but I have a growing concern about business professionals. That as a group, we don't know much about business.

I think there are some great marketeers out there (I consider myself one of them) that fail to realize the importance of sales channels, innovation, and who have never talked to a customer to find out why they bought and what would make them recommend the product or service to a friend.

There are great product designers, who are still designing products. Widgets who do some function or the other (usually designed by using the rear-view mirror of pre-established categories which can be analyzed by third-party researchers and are supported by big name consultants), but not solutions that fundamentally change industries or have a real meaningful impact on the people who use the products.

There are fantastic accounts, quality managers, documentation control professionals, IT managers, and "do-ers" all over the company that define what "doing the right thing" is for their respective functions, but may miss the mark entirely in terms of understanding how their role fits in to the value chain that customers are willing to pay for.

However, having these guys read a book or attend a presentation where the executives try to define the business levers of the business doesn't quite solve the problem. What people need is real experiential learning. In order to know how to run a business (and most everyone in an organization does to some extent as they influence the outcome of the whole), people should run a business.

I think every academic environment should have an entrepreneurship class where people have to develop a real product and sell it to real customers by the end of the course. Not talk about it. Not read about others (although this can be useful), but really do it.

Google and 3M both have well publicized programs where they let their engineers spent some portion of their time on undirected research and development aimed at bringing new innovations to the company. I am wondering if the same thing couldn't exist in other functions. What if a company's marketing team had to spent 10% of their time marketing a non-profit to learn guerilla techniques and how to write more passionate copy? Perhaps everyone in roles which naturally add more structure and process to the company should spent time in sales roles trying to navigate through those layers of progress once they are entrenched, and likewise, someone in sales had to spend some time helping to design the new product introduction process to ensure quality products at the end of the line.

Entrepreneurism teaches a pragmatism, a sense of urgency (impatience), and prioritization that would be quite a culture shock to many professional business people. Is it "killer instinct," or is it just business?
Jennifer B. Davis
MarketingSherpa recently posted a quick quiz to determine whether or not you had the chops to be a consultant. Take their little survey yourself here.

I could answer "yes" to the questions here which was a fine start, but frankly didn't think that is all there was to it. Here are a few more I would add to their list.

#6. Security
Consulting professionals, especially those starting out, have feast or famine existances. This is typically because they are building a client base and have limited resources to spread over servicing current clients and finding new ones. This leads to lumpy and inconsistent revenue. To consult for a "living," one must consider it like any start-up business and expect a bumpy ramp.

#7. Expertise
The best consultants (and the ones that claim the most success) specialize. They don't try to be all things to all people. They are not a temp labor agency, they are supposed to be adding real, differentiated value to their clients. So, there are manufacturing consultants and there are "Lean manufacturing consultants." They are IT project management firms and their are "ERP conversion " consultants. Pick a niche. Dominate it. Read "Crossing the Chasm" and specialize.

#8. Find Clients First (then quit your day job)
I'd highly recommend any would-be consultant read "Never Eat Alone" by Keith Ferrazzi. Fantastic, motivational book on networking in which he outlines a blueprint for starting a consulting a few clients and then strike out.

#9. Treat Your Business Like a Business
I'd recommend you read David Maister. He writes about professional services companies and his work (now in print with his new book "Strategy and the Fat Smoker", his podcasts, his videocasts, and his blog) is just great.
Jennifer B. Davis
I won't even try to add commentary to the things that Smashing Magazine put together in a post called "10 Beautiful Things for a Beautiful Life." Check it out!
Jennifer B. Davis
The folks at geekhouse bikes in Massachusetts, can build you a custom bicycle to your specifications. Pretty cool stuff. But, not as cool as something they have called "sublimated powder coating," which is a processes that allows any digital graphic to be fused into a powder coat on a bicycle. See inset picture for an example of how complex the designs can be.

So, you can create your own sleeping bag or blanket. You can personalize Kleenex boxes or M&Ms. Why not trick out your entire last-chance summer get-away by designing a custom bike with your graphics on them?

Jennifer B. Davis
Thanks to the power of Google Translate and Mloovi, this blog is now available in a number of different languages!

Subscribe to the Spanish feed here.

Subscribe to the simplified Chinese feed here.

Subscribe to the Hindi feed here.

Subscribe to the Finnish feed here.

Subscribe to the French feed here.

Subscribe to the German feed here.

I am hoping this works well, as I wasn't able to test mloovi's beta system fully (and I wouldn't know if the translations are all that acurate). I welcome feedback on this.