Consulting

My New Year’s Resolution? Simply Control Time.

I believe there is a higher percentage of columnists that write prediction- or resolution-themed columns in early January than there are people that actually make real resolutions nowadays. And to prove it, I will write a column with a resolution theme….

One of my favorite New Year’s traditions in broadcast media is the SyFy channel’s Twilight Zone marathon. Two straight days of some of the best storytelling and life-lesson reminders ever made. So many of these tales hold up today, at least in part. For example, there is this episode from 1961 called “The Obsolete Man,” where a librarian is sentenced to death for being obsolete since The State has eliminated all books. Watch the scene from 10:58-11:52 here and see if it reminds you of an extreme version of some website publishers’ feelings about Google when they change their Panda algorithm, like they did again last week.

But we severely digress. The episode that had me thinking about crazy New Year’s resolutions was one I saw on Tuesday, called “A Kind of Stopwatch.” It features an annoying executive, Patrick Thomas McNulty, giving me a constant reminder of how not to act around clients or management. First of all, like many leading male actors in the series, McNulty is supposedly my same 41 years of age, though he looks at least 10 years older. But more important is the greater message. McNulty meets a drunk in a bar and receives a stopwatch that stops time. Of course, he eventually realizes he can use it to steal, and the ending has a classic Twilight Zone twist of fate, but the concept of stopping time or changing the course of time has always fascinated me.

And having good timing in one’s career has been something I have either experienced or seen and thought about a lot over the years, such as:

  • Joining a startup too soon when “second-mover advantage” makes a similar company a hit three years later
  • Watching a top exec get fired, then land somewhere that gets acquired in 60 days with a big payout
  • Being at a company that pivots hard away from what someone was brought in to lead just five months after joining

Same thing can happen in consulting:

  • Being hired to start sales strategy and lead generation to close first revenue before the product is fully completed or defined properly for the market
  • Coming on board only to have someone else join full-time immediately after that disagrees with your recommendations or take on most of your responsibilities
  • Starting when a firm is going south and bringing you on as a last-ditch measure

Needlesstosay, timing is something that is hard, almost impossible, to control.

So my resolution for 2013 is to control when things happen everywhere, so I don’t make the same mistakes and can take on any new client or project at exactly the right time, when the team is most likely to use my recommendations. Or the product is built for just the right launch when the industry has the greatest need and finds the most value. Or when just the right management team is in place to leverage my skillsets to the highest potential. I know a few app developers that could build a stopwatch, but will take recommendations if you know anyone with this special kind of experience….

As for real New Year’s resolutions, I use the calendar change as a reminder to do the same things we should do all year, every year: be kind to others, be honest, eat well, do your best, work hard, and keep memories of tragic events like Sandy Hook in your heart.

Best wishes to all of you for a happy and successful 2013!

 

Matt Prohaska is the Principal at Prohaska Consulting, a company that helps leading digital media and advertising technology firms with their digital sales, marketing, business development, and operational strategies.

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