Turning Points: How I became a Consultant

It was on I-80 Eastbound. On the way home from a little father-son getaway with my fourth at the Great Wolf Lodge in the Poconos. After a day of water-sliding, a professional epiphany at 60 miles per hour.

For 9 1/2 years, I’d worked with a small company doing sales/marketing/biz dev in the pharmaceutical training field. Enjoyed it, saw the company grow, but came to recognize that I had fundamentally different perspectives than the owner on many business approaches. Though we got along in a pretty transparent relationship, there was the constant sense that we were pulling in different directions.

Suddenly, driving home through the Poconos, it came to me. I wasn’t going to change. He wasn’t going to change. It was time to go our separate ways. If I was going to fulfill my professional desires and drives, and add maximum value, I had to “create it myself,” and not vainly hope that someone else would conform their business to my ideals, or custom-create the perfect position for me.

And what I had found I enjoyed most, over the years, was not selling. It was consulting. This, after almost 20 years in sales! But now, I was finally ready. I had the knowledge, the desire, the network, and ability to market. Gradually, a niche business consulting approach emerged in my thinking.

Giving what amounted to 7 months notice, we de-commissioned my role in the company, and after 10 years, I launched out as a consultant providing training strategy and expertise, as well as a unique vendor-client “matchmaking” service. I long believed that the best chance for business success is by defining, creating and occupying a unique space, and this was my chance.

The first year was hard. After 9 months, I began really questioning whether this thing was ever going to get “wheels up.” But then business steadily picked up, and now, I am dependent only on pleasing my clients, not on fulfilling someone else’s agenda. Wonderfully liberating.

How about you? Where was your professional “turning point” that started you on your course? Write it up on your blog and share the story!

(Image credit)

(this post was inspired by Director Tom (Tom Clifford), who did a Twitter post about writing up the 7 minutes that changed his life in the direction of becoming a filmmaker [once his post is up, I’ll link to it]. Tom suggested a series called Turning Points – so, here we are! Readers are encouraged to write up their own, and I’ll link to any that participate!)

Here is CK’s take on her career…

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About Steve Woodruff
Steve Woodruff is a blogger, a Connection Agent, and a consultant in the pharma/healthcare industry. He specializes in helping people and companies make mutually beneficial connections.

11 Responses to Turning Points: How I became a Consultant

  1. >If I was going to fulfill my professional desires and drives, and add maximum value, I had to “create it myself,” and not vainly hope that someone else would conform their business to my ideals, or custom-create the perfect position for me.<

    Awesome words of wisdom, Steve. I’m going to print this one and hang it on my wall.


  2. Lewis Green says:

    I’ve often shared my story but the short version tells it all: I first started working for myself at 10 years old mowing, raking and delivering papers and except for about 8 years in the military and and 17 in the corporate world, I have continued working for myself, 12 of those years as a consultant. I like the boss.

  3. Hey Steve,

    Wow! You don’t mess around!

    I just challenged you to write about your “turning point” a few hours ago and dang….it’s up! Congrat’s.

    Love the story.

    Maybe we should call the series…

    “Twitter Turning Points.”

    Be great,

  4. compliancebranding says:

    My turning point was kind of a douh! moment. I was in a partnership for 20 odd years and noticed that my partner was getting lazy. I went through the books and quickly realized that I had been carrying him for the previous few years.

    If I was bringing most of the income, I might as well go it alone. Which I quickly did. We remain good friends and I never looked back. Sometimes you just get so passionate about what you do that you forget to stand back and take a closer look at what you’re doing.

    My ah ha moment was a realization of my own skills and determination. It has been a few years now, but I enjoy the fact that the only person I have to rely on is myself – and he’s a competent fellow.

  5. compliancebranding says:

    Steve, I noticed I am logged in as Compliance Branding instead of Ed Roach. How can i fix this?

  6. Chris Wilson says:

    As I’ve told you before in private dialogue, your story is inspiring to me. I see a lot of my own aspirations in what have achieved.

    Thanks for sharing further insight!

  7. Thanks, all, for the encouraging words. And Tom, thanks for the inspiration (so–we’re waiting for your story!)

    I would love to see others write up their story about decisive moments that set their professional direction. Do tell!

  8. Cam Beck says:

    This is harder to write than I thought it would be…

  9. Pingback: Ads on Napkins, Becoming a Consultant, and Get $1,000 to Quit « Brett’s Blog

  10. rickwolff says:

    I’m still looking forward to a turning point. It better come soon, or I may blow a head gasket.

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