A Big Brain is not Enough

April 13, 2010 by Wally Bock

You may be a super-smart consultant. You probably topped your classes in high school and college. It’s likely that you zipped through graduate school. .

That would make you exactly like the consultants that David Maister described in a recent interview. He called them: “highly intelligent people who value and celebrate that which is rational, logical, analytical and based on high intelligence.”

Brains are good, but they’re not enough. They’re not enough because “rational, logical, analytical and based on high intelligence” may not be what the client wants.

If you’re going to be a successful consultant, you need to learn to deliver what the client wants. You have to learn some other things as well.

You have to learn to speak the language. I mean the client’s language. It will be a bit of business and a bit of individual style. Pay attention to what matters to your client and how he or she describes what’s valuable and what’s not.

You have to learn to get noticed. It would be nice if great work and clever concepts were enough, but they’re not. Find ways to call attention to yourself without coming across like the proverbial “used car salesman.”

You have to learn to market and to sell. If you’re going to make partner in a big firm or make a success in a one-person firm, you have to come to grips with the fact that no one will come looking for you on their own.

You don’t have to become a recognized expert in something, but it helps. Experts charge higher fees and have an easier time getting hired in their niche.

The good news is you can still be super-smart and value the rational, logical, and analytical. But if you want to get the most out of that intelligence, you have to deliver what your client wants, learn to speak the client’s language, get noticed, and sell.

Wally Bock is a coach, a writer and President of Three Star Leadership.

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  1. Geoff Snyder says:


    Great article! I recently did a write-up on Emotional Intelligence and while reading through this, it reminded me of it. I’d love to collaborate some with you on this sometime if you’re interested.


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