Nothing bugs me more than dropping the ball on a promise.
A couple of months ago I "promised" I would return to my two recent series ("Making Meetings Matter" and "Crisis Communications") in late November / early December. The "Crisis Communications" series resonated with leaders who find themselves confronting unexpected crises, lacking the skills to communicate effectively with their clients or communities. Likewise, the "Making Meetings Matter" series seemed to register a positive note with people who really hate it when high level meetings suck wind.
Well, life threw me some curve balls in early November.
Owing to the crummy state of the economy and an lack of paying clientele to keep my consulting firm alive, I found myself forced to head back into the full-time workforce. Part of me was relieved. After all, I thrive on the dynamic of team leadership. As a consultant in a small, start-up firm you just don't find many people willing to work for free, so being back in the salaried world with a real team to lead is comfortable territory.
Don't get me wrong. I didn't give up on consulting because I couldn't find clients.
I gave up on consulting because the kind of clients I like to work with – non-profits – are sucking wind right now. They're struggling. Donations are down and they just don't have the kind of money it takes for me to keep my family of five fed, clothed, and college educated.
Nothing gives me greater joy than helping non-profits adopt best-of-breed leadership principles and communications methods. They just can't pay for that kind of expertise.
In November I walked into a firm that a friend told me needed some help and and gave them a little pro-bono consulting on improving their web image. We talked brand identity and positioning for a couple of hours. It was like throwing a drowning man a life preserver. At first they flailed wildly in the water. Pretty soon they got a good grip on the life preserver and managed to throw a leg over the transome.
I still have a dream that some day some eager benefactor will step up to the plate and say something like this…
"Hey, Steve, I like what you guys are trying to accomplish. I'm going to give you that $250k of seed money you need to crank up a leadership consulting firm dedicated to pro-bono service to the community. I'm going to help you take that gig on the road to every hurting non-profit all over the country. I'll help you get the RV gassed up and keep your family fed so you and your partners can go out there at low or no-cost and help build the team leadership skills it takes to achieve organizational success as a non-profit in today's world."