In my career as an executive advisor, I’ve learned a number of things both about myself and about business.
As for myself, I realized early on that I needed to embrace an ongoing process of self-development and self-improvement. This ongoing process is a way in which I could become a better version of myself and, consequently, a better asset to my clients. This process of self-development and self-improvement is what I use with all my clients. Living it myself has made me more effective in helping others embrace and live it.
From a business perspective, the most important thing I’ve learned is how to build authentic relationships. I spend a great deal of time going to different events, meeting different people and discovering who they are, what they’ve learned and what I might be able to learn from them. When I look at building relationships, I don’t think about it from the standpoint of whether I am going to get work from it or not, I’m thinking about it largely in terms of connecting with other individuals. The result, interestingly enough, is that almost every relationship has been of value; whether in a personal way, or helping me build a successful business.
For the past seventeen years, I’ve done the bulk of my work advising life sciences executives and it’s been exceptionally rewarding. I have learned what it is to work with dedicated scientists and engineers building products that affect the lives of millions of people. It is an industry where I’ve also built lasting relationships and learned about the complexities of leading pharmaceutical and medical device companies, lessons that are applicable to other industries as well.
Finally, building any business is challenging. Being an executive advisor has given me a vantage point to understand the challenges a wide range of issues and challenges that executives face in building their businesses. A somewhat unique challenge to my work is getting the business community to see the work of an executive advisor as a need to have rather than a nice to have. In learning how executives change other people’s assumptions, I am learning how to change assumptions about executive advising related to real value. I have learned that my work needs to be focused on metrics and results. All the work I do has specific outcomes that we hold ourselves to. I discuss that with the client on the front end. I measure throughout the process. And I measure at the end. I want to demonstrate that the executive advising makes a fundamental difference in their business.