The headline and subheader tells us what you're offering, and the form header closes the deal. Over here you can explain why your offer is so great it's worth filling out a form for.
We all aspire to read more, but then life happens and our daily race to keep up with our over-extended schedules leaves little to no room to actually do it. That's why, if you do manage to find the time to read, I'd like to recommend the following books.
Why did I choose these books? Because they fall into one of the three categories of themes that I believe consultants should strive towards:
Here you go...
David C. Baker starts off by establishing the value of an expert. They are insights specialists.
From the backflip of the book: Their main focus is on identifying patterns in a sea of data and then using these insights to develop a unique offering that doesn't yet have suitable alternatives on the market.
The experts' value grows exponentially when the application of their expertise delivers desired results. Having defined the term 'expert' and their function, Baker dedicates the rest of the book to tracing experts' evolution of success in a marketplace.
He identifies the role of expertise in a developed society, the interplay between expertise and fulfillment, the relevance and sustainability of expertise, the differences between vertical and horizontal expertise, and more.
Luk's big picture
Nobody else can explain it like David does: your expertise flows from your focus (on 1 expertise domain) and your focus flows from your (narrow) positioning on the market. If there's only 1 thing you could take away from this book: the tremendous importance of a narrow focus in your consultancy work and the incredible impact this has on the depth of your expertise and the growth of your visibility and your authority.
David's book has had a big impact on my thinking about expertise improvement, narrow positioning, staying upstream and the power of authority.
My 4 biggest take away's
My favorite quote #1 "Your narrow positioning is an exercise in irrelevance. The more irrelevant you become to non-ideal prospects by turning your positioning away from them, the more relevant you become to your chosen target clients. But that requires courage and discipline."
My favorite quote #2 "If you don't know what to say, you aren't an expert. If you don't know how to say it, you haven't practiced enough. If you find too many audiences when directing your writing, you haven't focused enough."
In this book, Sonja Jefferson and Sharon Tanton argue that creating high-quality, relevant content is the strongest business development strategy.From the backflip of the book: Such a strategy will get clients coming to you, significantly reducing (if not eliminating altogether) the need for outbound efforts.
Jefferson and Tanton share practical advice on creating and sharing valuable content in the form of website posts, white papers, blog articles, newsletters, video, and social media as well as via more traditional marketing channels.
They offer numerous examples, action lists, and goal-driven explanations. Their advice is applicable to a wide range of audiences, from sales and marketing teams in large corporations to small business owners and solo entrepreneurs.
(PS. Sonja and Sharon have helped me in setting up 'The Visible Authority'):
Luk's big picture
Marketing has changed enormously over the past decade. People buy differently, so we need to sell differently. Marketing with valuable content has developed as a way to bridge the gap between the way people like to buy - researching online and via recommendations from social networks - and the way smart businesses like to sell - by demonstrating expertise, empathy, purpose and usefulness, not by shouting loudest.
My biggest take away
This incredible book helped me to thoroughly understand what the successful content marketing companies are doing:
My favorite quote #1 "Educate your buyers, show them best practice, tell them what to look out for, give them valuable tips on how to achieve success, demonstrate how you have helped others in their shoes."
My favorite quote #2 "Valuable content is supercharged content. It's content with a bigger purpose, useful information created for a particular audience, content that hits the mark".
This book addresses the needs of business professionals whose product is their set of skills. As such, it is a perfect read for consultants.
From the backflip of the book: Tom McMakin and Doug Fletcher point out a very common problem - consultants are trained to do their job (assist clients within their area of expertise), not sell. Yet, the skill of selling yourself and your services is crucial irrespective of how high your level of expertise is.
McMakin and Fletcher encourage their readers to forget everything they are accustomed to think about sales and the sales process. They offer an alternative approach to selling - one that consultants may find more natural and authentic.
Luk's big picture
Consulting and Professional Services are 'credence businesses': selling consulting and professional services therefore is hard because clients/prospects have to trust us before they buy. Clients must believe the expert will diagnose their problem correctly. Clients must believe the expert will prescribe an effective solution. Clients must believe the expert can and will do the work in a way that will achieve the outcome they want. Clients have to believe the expert will fairly price the service based on work actually done.
My biggest take-aways
My favorite quote #1 "Stick to your segment. Focus is your friend. You want to be known as a dominant and consistent voice in your industry".
My favorite quote #2 "Better to be a big fish in a small pond than a small fish in an endless ocean of near competitors. If you can't say you are the largest or best in a category, make your market definition smaller. Shrink the pond until you dominate your niche".
My favorite quote #3 "Business development is not an event and it's not a 'sometimes' thing. It is a process that I spend time on every day. If you want your firm to be consistently successful, you have to make a personal commitment to working at it each day".
My favorite quote #4 "Your expertise will sit alone, shipwrecked and starving on a distant desert island, unless you stand up and start calling attention to the work you do and the problems you are committed to solve".
Cal Newport offers a guide to developing the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task - "deep work."
From the backflip of the book: Newport first explains the benefits both individuals and companies will derive from mastering the skill. He argues that it's the antidote to the sporadic, highly-distracted schedule we are accustomed to, where a never-ending flow of emails and social media keeps us from getting the sense of true fulfillment.
Having established the value of deep work, Newport explains the path individuals can take to develop the ability to focus. This training regiment calls for a transformation of how we think and act in order to be successful.
Luk's big picture
Between alerts on your phone, a never-ending onslaught of emails, the dog needing to be walked, another idea you need to write down, the next article to read and any number of other things, it’s easy to get distracted in today’s world. I know the importance of carving out time to work ON the business, not just IN the business.
I am damned serious when I say that 50% of my past success in my consulting role was my state of mind to make it work: 20-30% of my time was and still is spent on business development. Always. And yes, I am extremely passionate about ‘mindset improvement’ and 'deep work'. Cal Newport has been an essential guide to me in the past years.
Cal's book was and still is a great inspiration and toolbox for me to continue to deliberately schedule deep work.
My biggest take-away's
My favorite quote #1 "At the start of every workday, create a schedule that's divided into blocks of at least 30 minutes. In this schedule you should set both work and personal tasks like time to relax, eat or catch up on email".
My favorite quote #2 "Instead of scheduling the occasional break from distraction so you can focus, you should instead schedule the occasional break from focus to give in to distraction".
Next is a book that explains how to maximize the value of our contribution.
From the backflip of the book: It provides a step-by-step guide to breaking from our standard way of thinking and behaving in order to be able to identify the most essential goals and tasks and eliminate everything else.
Essentialism - a systemic discipline rather than a time management technique - is about pursuing less, but making the time and space to pursue it with all our strength.
It's about learning to make different choices and using this ability to reclaim our control.
Luk's big picture
While Cal Newport teaches us how to get rid of our daily distractions, Greg helps us to identify the essential things in life and what we can do to cut out everything else.
Greg helped me with making the right (essential) choices to be able to perform my most vital tasks to the highest possible standards. He was another guide on my journey to develop my new business. Because I have created a very precise positioning for myself, I can trim the fat around the non-essential things.
For example, I do read a lot - mountains of books, articles, papers, case studies, interviews, videos, online training programs, you name it. With my laser-sharp positioning and detailed business plan as my first guide and 'The Essentialist' as my other guide, I only consume those things that are relevant to deepen my expertise and achieve my goals in the next 3-5 years. It became really easy to say ‘No’ to all non-essential clutter.
My biggest take-away's:
My favorite quote #1 "Giving yourself space to escape and seeing the bigger picture will help you pick out the vital from the trivial".
My favorite quote #2 "Becoming an essentialist requires you to identify what's slowing you down and then eliminating it, rather than simply finding ways to work around it".
My favorite quote #3 "The way of the Essentialist means living by design, not by default".
My favorite quote #4 "Do you tend to say 'I have to' rather than 'I choose to'? If so, then you are following the non-essential path".
How to accomplish more by changing your Mindset, Motivation, and Methods - this book is a must-read.
From the backflip of the book: Jim Kwik is a veteran coach, having worked closely with successful men and women such as actors, athletes, CEOs, and business leaders from all walks of life to unlock their true potential.
This book is about flipping your mindset to identify what you want in every aspect of your life, so you can move from negative thinking to positive possibilities; igniting your motivation – the key to opening up mental capacity, and; mastering the method - training yourself to learn at an accelerated pace.
My biggest take-away:
Anyone can unleash his/her superbrain using Jim's model of combining the right
Reminding me of the model every day, helps me a lot.
My favorite quote #1 "So often the answers we want are there, but we’re not asking the right questions to shine a spotlight on them. Instead, we’re asking useless questions or worse, questions that are disempowering."
My favorite quote #2 "Often when you put a label on someone or something, you create a limit – the label becomes the limitation.'
There are people who don't chase clients, clients chase them. In a world of endless choices, why does this happen? This is the question this book addresses
From the backflip of the book: Have you ever queued for a restaurant? Pre-ordered something months in advance? Fought for tickets that sell out in a day? Had a hairdresser with a six-month waiting list?
This book is a recipe for ensuring demand outstrips supply for your product or service, and you have scores of customers lining up to give you money. It explains how to become 'oversubscribed' in a saturated marketplace. It is full of practical tips and inspiring examples.
My biggest take-away's:
My favorite quote #1 "Too many business owners focus on the entire marketplace. They are deeply concerned by what the majority will pay rather than finding the small group of people who really value what they offer. But if you focus on the wider market price, you’ll always be average."
My favorite quote #2 "Creating your own market is about solving bigger problems for people than others do. Being unique is not about performing a task at a high standard; it’s about having a unique ability to get things done."
If you’ve ever been stuck as a consultant, James could maybe help you. Why? Because he has been there himself (being stuck). And he can explain how he freed himself.
From the backflip of the book: "Change is the only constant," writes James Altucher. "Companies decay, technologies disappear, governments change, relationships change and opportunity is a shifting landscape. Reading the stories and learning the critical skills taught in Reinvent Yourself is how I found my own way through the chaos of change and onto the path of new opportunity and success."
You probably don't know James Altucher. Time to get to know him as you can learn a lot from him. I am a big fan of James since a few years and I've learned a lot from him.
My biggest take-away's:
My favorite quote #1 "Reinvention is life. This is the call to adventure that constantly whispers to us. Do we answer it? Do we take the call?"
My favorite quote #2 "You are not just the average of the five people around you. You’re the average of the five habits you do, the things you eat, the ideas you have, the content you consume, etc."
Master the evergreen traffic strategies to fill your website and funnels with your dream customers in this timeless work from the $100 million entrepreneur and cofounder of the software company ClickFunnels.
From the backflip of the book: The biggest problem so many entrepreneurs struggle with is not creating amazing products or services, but rather getting customers to discover them. Russell Brunson explains to his readers how to get your message out there and have it heard by the right audience. It's about understanding exactly who your dream customer is, discovering where they're congregating, and throwing out the hooks that will grab their attention to pull them into your funnels
My biggest take-away's:
My favorite quote "Waiting for people to come to you is not a strategy. But understanding exactly who your dream customer is, discovering where they’re congregating, and throwing out hooks that will grab their attention to pull them into your funnels (where you can tell them a story and make them an offer) is the strategy."
Any other book recommendations? Feel free to let me know! firstname.lastname@example.org
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Hello, I’m Luk Smeyers and I’m guiding consultants through the journey of growing their business by helping them transform into visible authorities. I have been in consulting businesses for almost 20 years, in very different roles: as European CHRO in a global consultancy, as a startup founder in an analytics consultancy, and as a leader in a 'Big 4' consultancy, post-acquisition of the startup. I had the privilege of achieving global visibility as a consultant and I never had to sell, persuade, or negotiate as a result. I have now bundled all those experiences, expertise, know-how, research, reading, successes, struggles, and failures from managing and growing that visibility in the past years.
The Visible Authority is a brand of:
Luk Smeyers BVBA
Offices in Leuven (BE) and Munich (DE)