Earl R. Smith II. PhD

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I get approached by consultants who want to expand their business. They have been profitably (most often) supporting a small staff for some years. But the 'bigger' bug has been whispering in the principal's ear for some time.

I believe it was Nietzsche who observed, in criticism of western philosophers, that although they build castles in the air they tend to live in the tool shed on the ground.  My first step - even before I engage to help - is to seek the answer to the question suggested by Nietzsche. Are the consultants living a life that avoids their own wisdom? Many of these consultants are providing advice to a range of clients on how to grow their businesses. They often have organized programs that focus on how to expand - how to scale - how to move from a sole proprietorship to a 'real company'. Whether it is focused on organizational development, team building, business development or any of a wide range of essential areas, they offer advice designed to support the growth of a company - its expansion - on how to establish a pattern of growth.

The core question is "how good are these consultants at taking their own advice". "Physician heal thyself!" I have found that asking this question divides the profession into two broad groups.

There is the "do as I say, not as I do" crowd. Or, more properly, "do as I say but I'm not going to do as I say". They are long on advice and short on taking it as their own. They develop plans to expand their clients' businesses but don't see those plans as relevant to their own expansion efforts.

The second group has a tendency to take their accumulated wisdom and professional advice seriously. They develop and implement a plan that looks a lot like those developed and implemented by their clients. But that may not be the panacea that it seems. What is interesting is the parallel results between their efforts and the results generally achieved by their clients. Here is the test of how good they really are. (This may be a reason that the first group avoids taking their own advice - a suspicion of "inadequacy"?)

Consultants who have real value to add tend to have clients that are benefiting from that advice. Their businesses grow. They prosper. Such consultants also tend to be sucessful in their efforts to expand from a small consulting company to a larger one. Consultants who add little residual value tend to have clients who are either stagnating or declining. Those consultants tend to remain small operations.

So what is the Consultant's Disease? It is the inability to learn for yourself and implement effectively the lessons what you are expecting your clients to learn. It is to see the world through a perspective that exempts you and your organization from the realities that you insistently suggest others face. And it is the tendency to overlook the correlation between the high value you put on your experience and advice and the results being achieved by your clients.

I have worked with consultants who have build very large organizations. They seemed to have done it relatively effortlessly. I have also worked with consultants who have spent frustrating years trying to find the formula that will allow them to do the same. My conclusion is that recovery from the consultant's disease must come first.

© Earl R. Smith II, PhD

It's the most amazing experience I have ever had. I needed to find a new path. A friend recommended Dr. Smith. From the first, it was clear that he and I were going to get along. What was most amazing was the wisdom and perception that he brought. New vistas have opened up and, as a result, a new chapter in my life. There's no way that I could put a value on what he has contributed to my life.

Mentoring Client, CEO and Serial Entrepreneur

Chief - That is how Dr.Smith was introduced to me and, based on our work together, I have come to understand why he was called so. He helped me focus on the possibilities that I had been missing in my life. He guided through developing a new vision for my life. Truly he would be my "Chief" anytime and I will always value his guidance and wisdom. My life is richer because of working with him.

Mentoring Client, NPI Team Lead

Earl is a very wise individual with a lot of experience. He truly understands business and professional development. Earl has a great way of explaining things and getting you to look at things from another perspective. Earl is a tough mentor, but if you can learn just some of what he knows you will come out ahead.

Mentoring Client, Deloitte

“Dr. Smith is a very different kind of mentor. If you’re looking for a warm and fuzzy adviser, this is the wrong guy for you. But if you are dedicated to change and want to be challenged by a very experienced mentor Earl may be just what you are looking for.”

CEO of Croix Connect and Host of ABC Radio’s ‘Taking Care of Business’

“I consider Dr. Smith to be a truly revolutionary thinker and leader. His mentorship has been of great value and inspiration to my own personal and professional development. I was at a point in my life where I felt the need to take a new direction. He helped my sort out the possibilities and showed my ones that I never considered. Working with him has been a truly life-changing experience.”

Partner, IT & Telecom, Defense Solutions

“Dr. Earl Smith is a very gifted and talented thought leader and strategist. I had an opportunity to work with him on various occasions, and found his analytical thought process to be the most creative and illustrative in the industry. He is a great asset in developing business solutions from complex problems and chaos in the every day world.” Executive Director, Global Innovation Summit,