Listen to Andy's Answer
Actually, yes, there are several great questions you can ask when you’re working with a new company. And one of those questions I believe is, “When you’re looking in your area of expertise?” If you’re working with this company, if you’re consulting with them or you’re helping them, or they’re a new client of yours in one of the things, look at your area of expertise and asked them, “Hey, what is the best result you’ve ever gotten in this area?” “What is the best result, you’ve ever gotten?” And you can also, curiously, you can also ask, “Hey, have you ever been working in this area and been really disappointed with the result? What happened there?” You need to find out.
I will sometimes go in speaking somewhere to places that will have a speaker every single year, I mean, they have them over and over and over. And sometimes I’ll say, “Hey, who is the best you have ever had here?” “Who’s the best speaker you’ve ever had?” And when they’ll tell me, I’ll say, “Why were they the best speaker?” And sometimes I’ll say, “Hey, who was the worst speaker you ever had? And why?” And sometimes they say, “I’d rather not say.” And I’ll say, “Okay, well don’t tell me the name, but tell me why they were the worst speaker.” A lot of times those answers can be very informative, right? Sometimes they can, not be necessarily what you think they would be, in the worst speaker you ever had. Well, you hear a name and you go, really? I mean you’re thinking how could that person have been the worst? It turns out that they didn’t communicate what they were hired to communicate. To them it was the worst. It may have been incredible somebody else, but it just wasn’t for them. And so you want to find out. You can ask questions that will give you targeting opportunities.
I learned by a failure. I learned to ask this question of a client, “How will we know that we have succeeded here? What are we going to look for? What will you know? Where will be the point that you will know this has been a success?”
I accepted a client one time that I realized when it was too late, I realized there was no way to measure this. They had gotten me because they liked me and had heard good things but what they wanted; the result they wanted was just, in fact, I was told, they said, “well, we’re not really wanting to grow. We just want to maintain our presence and our reputation in the marketplace.” Well, as I think about that, how ridiculous was I to accept that challenge? What am I supposed to do there? How will I know? How do you measure that? But when somebody says, “We’re looking to grow 10% a year, or we’re looking to grow 15% a year. We’re looking to double.” Whatever it is. Well, you can measure that. But you better know what they’re measuring. So ask that question.
As you’re getting started with a new company, I would also find ways to ask noninvasive personal questions of the leadership. Okay. I’m not saying, “Hey, have you ever been married before?” You know, you don’t ask something like that, but you do want to say, “Tell me about your family” and find out where they are? What do they do? What are they like? What are their passions? You can find different ways to become valuable to that company, if you become valuable personally to that company’s leadership. Because people’s personal lives and their professional lives are so intertwined, it might as well be one. And so if you can become valuable in one, you are valuable in the other. And as a consultant or as somebody helping a company or working with a company as a guide, you want to just find ways to be valuable.