Consulting is not a 9-5 job

It’s a marathon.  The hours are long, and the schedule erratic.   It’s not for slackers or sleepy-heads.  Including travel, it’s easily a 70+ hour a week job.

Days start early.  This Monday, my flight was at 6:45am.   Same thing this coming week.  I live an hour from the airport, so essentially I wake up at 3:45am.  5:09, I am checked-in.

Check in Days end late.   On Tuesday, my team was in the lobby of the Marriott crunching data and cobbling together slides at 1:30am.  Business problems are fun, but also time consuming.

A few weeks ago, I found myself at FedEx at 4am.  Not glamorous at all.  Even though I submitted the presentation online for printing at 7pm, FedEx tells me they have a backlog and cannot complete order until 4am.  So that is what I do.  Go at 4am to pick up prints – with enough time to re-print if needed – before the 8:30 steering committee meeting.

Kinkos

Saturday and Sunday.  I probably work on the weekends twice a month.  Nothing crazy, but I will probably put in 3 hours today to work on a new client proposal and review a project plan.

Consulting is a lifestyle as much as “job” and a few things that keep consultants going.

  • Care.  If I am going to present it to the client, it’s going to be damn good
  • Learn. No matter how good you are, there is something you can learn
  • Eat.  Try new restaurants and enjoy the good eats
  • Laugh.  Work with people you like.  If not, find a new project or a new company
  • Call.  Don’t forget your wife, husband, children, friend at home.  Take time to call
  • Mentor. Share what you know with newbie consultants
  • Help. Make your clients successful.  They will say thank you and refer you business
  • Entertain.  Don’t be a bore.  Learn the art of conversation (Not just talking)
  • Forgive.  Show some grace to people you run across in your travels and work
  • Pray.  Take 2-3 min out of your crazy day, and re-focus on what’s important
  • Exercise. Pack the sneakers, and run at the gym
  • Write.  Put your thoughts on paper in words, graphs, or drawing
  • Trust. Work with your team.  Don’t try to do it all.  Allow other people to protect you

Good pay = work.  The kind of jobs you want are not the kind of jobs you sit at home, eating cashews and working 25 hours a week.  Investment bankers and medical residents work longer hours than we do.  After all, client service means working with clients.    

We are all pretty blessed. Just read an article where Bill Gates points out here that 30 million people live in slavery today. When I went to FedEx at 4am, there was a homeless guy sleeping at one of the for-rent computer terminals.  No time for self-pity here.

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7 thoughts on “Consulting is not a 9-5 job

  1. Interesting read. What are your thoughts on the PE/VC world? Are the hours as brutal as consulting? They seem to be well compensated but its hard to say for sure since there arent too many reliable figures out there.

  2. I have been reading this blog which btw gets delivered to my inbox. The information provided here is relavent to anyone interested in (management) consulting.

    I am sure you will end up writing a “best seller” book at some point.

    Thanks for taking time to share your insights.

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