Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – September 14, 2004
Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – September 14, 2004 – I was up before the sun this morning – not by design – but because Augie decided that six o’clock was a good time to go out for a walk. He usually stays in bed until I come downstairs, but for some reason, known only to him, he thought this morning should be an early one.
It actually worked out well for me, because I got a lot done at my desk before eight, and then attended my sales meeting at nine-thirty. It was the first meeting of the fall selling season and a lot of agents attended. It’s great to get caught up with everyone and to talk about what’s happening in the real estate market. Larry – our illustrious broker – always conducts an excellent, well planned meeting that generates plenty of banter, a bit of clever conversation and a lot of market information.
He mentioned that he’d updated our office computer system over the summer months and this reminded me of the computer leasing scandal that is currently plaguing the municipal government at Toronto City Hall. I can’t keep track of all the sordid details but numerous people are being called to testify. I’m sure most of them would rather be elsewhere. The question seems to centre around leasing contracts, computer sales people, consultants, a relative of a well known hockey player, trips on jets and who authorized what – when, where, why and for how much.
Why is it that “consultants” often seem to be at the centre of really, big business ventures? How do you get to be a consultant? My official, professional title is “sales representative”. Not very sexy is it? I’m also called a “real estate agent”. Talk to a dozen people who are in the throes of buying or selling a piece of property, and they will refer to their “agent”. That’s not half as much fun as being a “secret agent” or an FBI agent. Think about how important it sounds when you discuss a “security consultant” – an “aviation consultant” – a “consulting engineer” or a “design consultant”.
It would be more impressive if I was a “real estate and property consultant” – then I could carry a badge in a handy flip-case. I’d have business card made of the finest linen card stock, with my name in silver foil. I’d casually give them out at cocktail parties, secure in the knowledge that my status as a “consultant” immediately elevated me above the common horde and the hangers-on.
Then I got to wondering why it is that “bunk baffles brains” and why consultants are often paid an embarrassing amount of money for doing precious little. Recall almost any government scandal and who is at the heart of it – none other than a consultant. Someone who probably had a real job at some point in his or her life, left it for any number of glorious or ignominious reasons, then thought – “I bet I could make a lot of money as a consultant”.
Five years later a yacht is docked at the boat club, a Porsche sits in the driveway and our illustrious consultant works half days on the golf course and the other half at business lunches.
I’ve only had one personal experience with a consultant. I was working in the fashion industry at the time and our store had one of these helping hands on board. He met regularly with our management team. At our first morning session he announced in front of the group, “Rosemary – I take my coffee black, one sugar”. The thought went through my head that I needed to nip this behaviour in the bud. I sauntered over to the sideboard, prepared my coffee in slow motion, returned to the table, sat down, and took a sip, “Don’t worry”, I said, “There’s plenty left for you”. Archie didn’t bother to mess with me after that – he was cordial – never friendly. I didn’t understood his role – he came in each week, collected a pay cheque and departed. I’m sure his brilliance was in evidence behind the scenes – it just never manifested itself in our sales figures.
Which brings me to this realization – it’s still not too late for me. I’m convinced that given the right idea – the aforementioned snazzy business card and just a bit of the blarney, I too could be a consultant. I have an interesting professional background. Advertising – computers – fashion – real estate. Somewhere in there beats the heart of a great consultant. I need to find a niche and fill it. However, while I’m plumbing the depths of my creative genius for a “consulting idea” – I think I’ll hang on to my current career. It keeps the wolf at bay and allows me a measure of independence that may be hard to come by once I’m a successful consultant.