10 years old

On July 1st, 2005 (10 years ago for the math challenged out there like me!) I decided to “go out on my own” and become an independent consultant.  I was 32 years old and had $5,000 or so cash in my savings account and thought I could figure this thing out!

Well – I could figure it out.  And I did.

But I learned so much more than I ever thought I would.  And I have had so many opportunities beyond my wildest dreams along the way.

My mission ten year ago was simple and straightforward:

  • To improve the quality of instruction of every teacher that we come into contact with
  • To make things simpler for teachers so they feel like they can be successful
  • To dig deep and help struggling readers learn to read
  • To tell the truth about what needs to be done and not beat around the bush

That’s still my mission now.  And I hope it’s still the same mission ten years from now.

I’ve learned lots of lessons along the ten years and here are a smattering of them:

  • If you are willing to work harder than anyone around you, you’ll get exactly where you want to go
  • Front end work and hours eventually pays off big time
  • Take the earliest flight out on the way to see your client
  • Get a great attorney
  • Get a great accountant
  • Get a great editor
  • Don’t travel the week after Thanksgiving
  • Be liberal with taking vacation days
  • Don’t send your email to you phone – set a strong boundary between the work and fun
  • Go to dinner with your clients even when you’re exhausted – they are the best part of the job
  • Stay the course on the content
  • Specialize – don’t be a general practitioner
  • Write as thought you’re talking directly to people
  • Own your own materials
  • Listen to the bad feedback and look for truth in it but then let it go
  • Don’t look at what the competition is doing – just do you
  • Listen to your dad’s business advice – 99% of the time he’s right on
  • Don’t use your email inbox as your to-do list – you’ll waste time
  • Write a book – for some reason people think you’re more legit when you’re an author
  • Use your miles for upgrades, not tickets
  • Never check a bag
  • Keep your organization simple and bare bones so that you can focus on the content
  • You don’t have to have a business plan to be super successful
  • If you put out necessary content, you don’t have to have a slick marketing plan
  • Word of mouth will MAKE your business
  • Don’t freak out when technology doesn’t work
  • Travel is not fun even though most people think it is
  • Never stop getting into schools – it’s where the content is richest
  • Say yes to all of the work in the beginning – you never know where it’ll lead
  • The perceived decision-makers are not necessarily the real ones making the decisions – many times the quiet ones behind the scenes push the big wigs to get things done
  • Read trash magazines on the plane – you can’t work all of the time