Today was the big day. Cliff had flown in from Memphis to close a big deal, and as a favor to our mentor would spend an hour with us to give us advice on our newly acquired trade.
Cliff was a crisp man in his early forties — non-descript jeans, standard Gainsboro grey blazer (good for both summers and winters), sandy-haired, stubble-faced. He had the weathered look of somone that had done a lot of sales in his early years but come out alive.
It was an odd kind of business meeting. The three of us were huddled in the back of his Mercedes, or Lexus — I don’t remember. As per usual, throughout the long drive he rattled off tons of advice about the art of consulting.
“Start by just getting your first two clients,” he said as he stepped out of the car to pump premium unleaded gas. “With two clients…now you can focus on expnanding.” I could read between the lines, and knowing Cliff, the assumption was that you should be charging a rate where you can survive off of two clients.
Another eager junior asked a question while I was lost in thought. Cliff’s mouth was a motor. “Aim to deliver $100 of value in a day. It’s not something you have to do every day. But just make sure that when you do deliver value for your client, you deliver $100 worth of value.”
It was at moments like these that I stopped to reflect. These little throw-away nuggets would become the cornerstone of my success. Start with 2 clients. Deliver $100 worth of value. It’s always the seemingly inconsequential advice that takes you the furthest. 10 years from now, looking back, I would say that today was the big day.