Questions – About You, About Them

“My greatest strength as a consultant is to be ignorant and ask a few questions.” ~ Peter Drucker

One of my StrengthsFinder themes is Input. People with this strength collect and archive all kinds of information that may prove useful to others. Case in point, I recently read two articles that focus on questions intended to provide clarity. I found them useful for gaining clarity about the value we provide to organizations and determining the challenges that require the value we bring.

Questions About You

Many of you know that Chris Brogan is a business hero of mine. Chris writes a weekly newsletter for small business owners. It’s the first thing I read every Sunday.

One of the key things Chris emphasizes in his writings, webinars, and coaching is clarity. As a business owner, I have to be clear about what I sell. It’s often easy to get distracted from this. We can think we can do a lot of things and take on a lot of projects. We may have a good idea of what our business is, but it may not align with what our customers think our business is.

Brogan notes, “there’s what you know your company does (or your role) and there’s what other people think your company does. They almost never line up.”

He offers three questions that people should ask themselves about what they do:

  • What’s a three word (or less) answer to what you do or sell?
  • How would you tell a six-year-old what you do?
  • What’s a way to talk about what you do that you could say to someone at a family reunion?

Chris’s questions also apply to folks who are trying to convey their value to prospective employers. So, if you’re getting ready to look for a new job, or thinking about moving up in your career, you need to answer Brogan’s three questions.

In his newsletter, Chris wrote his responses to the questions, so I’ll share mine:

  • Three words or less answer: Career advisor.
  • Six year old: I help people decide what they want to be when they grow up.
  • Family reunion: I provide individual and group coaching that helps leaders advance in their careers.

Questions About Them

I’ve recently started following Mark Schaefer’s work on marketing. Mark’s most recent book, Known: The Handbook for Building and Unleashing Your Personal Brand in the Digital Age, is one of the best marketing books I’ve come across.

Schaefer is a college educator, author, keynote speaker, and strategy consultant. He recently published a blog post entitled “Five of my best insights on becoming a great marketing consultant,” in which he related lessons he learned while studying under the late great management consultant Peter Drucker.

Mark wrote that Drucker’s biggest contribution to management consulting may have been five questions:

  1. What is your mission?
  2. Who is your customer?
  3. What does your customer value?
  4. What are your results?
  5. What is your plan?

These five questions are what you should ask the decision makers you interview with for new positions. In other words, think of yourself as a management consultant and the interviewers as your clients.

Schaefer notes in his blog that you can’t have a business strategy without knowing the answers to these questions. If a hiring manager can’t answer these questions, he won’t know what he needs you for; and you won’t know what you’ll be held accountable for.

Questions For You

Many of today’s top business writers mention that we all have to think of ourselves as our own business. We need to understand the value we bring, who our customers are, what their needs are, and how we can meet those needs.

Most jobs last three-to-five years. You have got to be prepared for new opportunities, whether they arise willingly or not.

To be ready, ask yourself the questions above. Chris Brogan’s three questions are designed to get you to understand your value and articulate it simply to others.

Mark Schaefer’s questions, from Peter Drucker, are intended to determine what your customers/bosses need so you can respond to those needs.

How do you respond to Brogan’s three questions?


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