How to be a Consultant

An entertaining article by Steven J. Friedl on how to be a Consultant. Here is an overview of his “Consulting maxims” but you should really read the entire article to get the finer detail:

  • You must give the customer The Warm Fuzzy Feelingâ„¢
  • “Trust” is your best job security
  • You have no job security, even if you think you do
  • A financially-struggling consultant does not give a customer The Warm Fuzzy Feelingâ„¢
  • You are in the “customer service” business, not the “technical” business
  • For a good consultant, “your voice” is comforting: Be very easy to find
  • Hourly arrangements of any substantial magnitude require that you have earned your customer’s trust
  • The best way to appreciate the value of a good spec is to do a project without one
  • Customers hate “unhappy surprises” much more than “timely bad news”
  • Churning by dishonest consultants is the single worst thing that has ever happened to honest consultants
  • Ongoing business is much more important than maximizing every billable hour
  • It’s better to give away some time than to throw away your reputation
  • Detail is comforting to a customer
  • If the customer doesn’t know you did work off the clock, you don’t get credit for it
  • If you routinely take ownership for your own mistakes, you’re much more likely to be believed when you claim something is NOT your doing
  • Your best advertisement is publishing of original, technical content
  • It’s a huge asset to communicate well — cultivate this skill vigorously
  • Your references are your reputation in the consulting world
  • Your customers cannot wonder where your interests are
  • Customers are comforted by consultants who don’t act entitled to their engagements
  • The customer is NOT always right
  • The internet never forgets: don’t provide dirt for your future
  • If you’re booked up solid, your rates are too low
  • Your long-term customers are your best customers
  • The best way to make a lot of money is to make your customers a lot of money
  • As long as you’re sleeping, you still have inventory
  • The fear of an empty pipeline is with most consultants constantly, even if they’re very busy
  • You must know how to read your customer
  • Your customers are buying your judgement, not just your time
  • Being known for your integrity is the Holy Grail of consulting
  • An open customer relationship cultivates The Warm Fuzzy Feelingâ„¢
  • If you have a reputation for stealing customers, you’ll never be trusted by other professionals
  • Your references and your experience are far more important than your certifications
  • Do not BS your customers
  • “Education” is one of the best investments a consultant can make
  • Don’t quit your day job solely based on what you read here :-)

Asterisk Open Source PBX

Voice over IP (VoIP) is an innovative and disruptive technology that has matured quite a bit over the last couple of years. But, as is usual in telecommunications, it comes at a price. Or not? Thanks to Digium there is the Asterisk Open Source PBX that will allow you to trial VoIP without the considerable investment that comes with solutions from vendors like Cisco. For a test setup all you need is a decent PC (Pentium III will do) with Linux, the Asterisk software and a soft- or hardphone. The Firefly softphone is quite popular and runs on Windows. The Polycom SoundPoint phones (model IP300, IP500 and IP600) are very popular given their attractive price and wealth of features. You can find a mirror of the Asterisk software here. If you would like to discuss a VoIP implementation based on Asterisk then do give us a call.

Learn about Free/Open Source Software (FOSS)

For all you executives out there trying to understand what the Linux and Open Source fuzz is all about. Here are some great links to documents that discuss the various aspects of Free/Open Source Software (FOSS).

    General Introduction Primer to FOSS

    FOSS Government and Policy Primer

    FOSS Education Primer

    FOSS: Network Infrastructure and Security

    FOSS Licensing Primer

Check the the website of the UNDP-APDIP International Open Source Network for more information and the latest version of the documents above.