Status Report

Since starting my new gig I have written proposals for about a half million dollars in projects and assisted in the production of about a million and a half more. My proposals have become a sort of de facto standard for proposals in the company and are widely imitated.

As I think I’ve mentioned before the pretext under which my services were retained and the reason I was retained are two very different things. I think they have a genuine need for what I’m doing but if I were the owner I wouldn’t pay me what they’re paying me to do what I’m doing. It’s one of those paradoxes. As I’ve experienced with any number of customers I’m doing things they should be doing themselves if they had the background, experience, and inclination to do them.

At this point I can see three potential scenarios. Under one of the scenarios in six months they’ll be so happy with what I’ve been doing and I’ll be so indispensable that they’ll want to keep paying me. The next scenario is that in six months they decide I’ve done what they needed and that will be that.

Under the third scenario they’ll be so nervous about the money bleeding out to pay me that within a couple of more weeks they’ll call it quits.

I’ve already accomplished enough that I’d be satisfied with any of those outcomes. Not the least of those is demonstrating to myself that I’ve still got it. That’s very energizing not to mention gratifying.

3 comments… add one

  • jan

    Dave, you give very honest appraisals of your work — a commendable trait!

  • Guarneri

    “I think they have a genuine need for what I’m doing but if I were the owner I wouldn’t pay me what they’re paying me to do what I’m doing. It’s one of those paradoxes. As I’ve experienced with any number of customers I’m doing things they should be doing themselves if they had the background, experience, and inclination to do them.”

    Tee-he-he. Become a private equity guy. Actually be the owner. Do what has to be done. Like so many things in life, its not brains, its big brass balls. Yes, a certain amount of acumen and experience is required. Especially, about people – see next paragraph. I often refer to our firm as just being business consultants or business doctors.

    So look. Most well trained monkeys, as I like to say, can evaluate markets and market potential. The manufacturing footprint and efficiency and potential. Competitive threats. Infrastructure. How to measure “how we doin’?”

    Now. Stop being a staffer, and start being an owner. Who the f…. is going to make this happy-crap plan happen? Its all about people. Who’s good, who’s a pretender? Who’s a good senior manager, who’s a pretender? I’m a freekin’ closet shrink. A people evaluator. Do it right, provide the right guidance and we can make businesses sing. And everyone makes money and gets jobs and pays taxes and…………. Do it wrong, and lord knows I have scars, ……….not so much. And that can be a real bitch, and take years off your life fixing it. Oy.

    You go, Dave. All God’s speed and well wishes. Business, like all the topics on this website, are easy to talk about while having a cigar and brandy; doing it is a bitch.

  • I never had doubts about your still having it but your having them is understandable given how long you’ve been self-employed and the unfortunate recent downturn in that business.

    I’ve spent virtually all of my career working in-house for a paycheck; the only exceptions were a couple years as a DoD contractor and a year or so doing the blogging thing full time during the short window when it was exceedingly profitable. Consulting and contracting have always struck me as odd for the reasons you allude to: they’re almost invariably outsourcing work that’s so fundamental to their business that they ought to be doing it themselves.

    It makes sense to outsource, say, janitorial services. But, for example, at the Defense Information Systems Agency they had a huge number of contractors doing core engineering and other IT work that should have been their bread and better. For legal and cultural reasons, government employees, whether uniformed military officers or civil servants, had to be in the decision-making posts. But or the most part the contractors knew so much more about the nitty gritty of the projects that the government types were essentially rubber stamps, having little choice but to take the contractors’ advice. It struck me as sheer madness.

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