After hanging his solopreneur shingle, Isaiah McPeak learned some quick lessons about building a consulting practice. Most careers in tech include a consulting phase. Isaiah’s lessons learned will help yours.
Selecting a consulting delivery model
Structuring a consulting practice and partnerships
The “product approach” could be the most important way to work in the tech space. Isaiah McPeak is an experienced product manager who cut his teeth in product before he earned the job title. In this episode, Isaiah reflects on how to approach many kinds of work with product thinking. He also tells us when product thinking is the wrong approach to your work.
Isaiah McPeak took the helm for this instant-classic episode of live coaching with Cory McCain. After hearing about Cory’s new podcast about fitness and health, Isaiah helped Cory with software sales challenges. Cory runs WeStrive, a software platform for fitness trainers (westriveapp.com).
Software sales challenges they covered:
How to scale by adding salespeople without losing performance.
Deciding the in-source vs. out-source as you scale a software company.
Why demoing software is a bad approach, and how to use the tabs-menu approach to make “demos” live and dynamic.
How to land the choose-your-own-adventure software demo with a value-finding question.
“My co-workers are too nice. How can I get useful feedback?,” “What’s the best place to practice professional communication?” In this episode, the hosts answer listeners’ questions. Tune in for solid advice and practical insights.
The show opens with a great clap track. Our guest Steven Tomlinson is an Acton MBA master teacher, a playwright, and a communications coach. He joins us to talk shop as a fellow coach of people with messages. Steven consults business people (among others) with coaching techniques both Isaiah and Nathanael have heavily borrowed from. Reconnecting with an old friend and mentor makes this episode a delight.
Isaiah opens with a quick time machine to remind us why the pod is called “own your platform.”
Steven jumps into the drivers’ seat of the pod, asking your hosts questions.
Nathanael quotes Steven’s definition of communication, referencing stick figures drawn on one of Acton MBA’s massive whiteboards, “land on their island.”
What to do about weaponized communication: when people think of communicating as just wanting to win an argument.
How Steven starts his coaching in a human, honest place, with a generous intention.
Learn about the one secret tool that makes communications coaching work: a camera, allowing the client to see themselves.
Isaiah and Nathanael welcome a guest to the podcast. He’s a business owner with a specific challenge: how to pitch his service to new clients. Isaiah and Nathanael help him identify the kinds of potential clients, and figure out what to bring to pitch conversations. Of all the things a salesperson can say, what should they bring up? How can sales pitches be playful, generative, and helpful to all participants?Isaiah gives you a few playbooks to take to your next pitch, all under the heading of making the pitch more of a dialog.
Other notable moments:
We learn just how many debate partners Isaiah had–and where some of them are now.
Why “pitches” aren’t really pitches, 8 out of 10 times.
Get a peek behind the curtain of how Isaiah McPeak coaches entrepreneurial communication.
Nathanael picks up shattered pieces of his ego after returning from the Marketo marketing conference. He and Isaiah analyze what went wrong during his presentation, why it went wrong, and how to improve.
Isaiah coaches Nathanael for an upcoming presentation. Listen to part one to hear how Isaiah coaches; listen to part two to discover how the coaching worked for Nathanael and why Isaiah made the coaching decisions he did.
Isaiah opened with a seemingly random story: Isaiah’s Dad attended his trumpet playing lessons. He then actually connected the story to this episode’s theme: real live coaching.
Nathanael has a nice gig coming up: a breakout speaking slot during the Marketo Marketing Nation conference in San Francisco. His slides are locked, but he has some concerns about what to actually say and how to own the platform.
Bonus lesson learned: why did Marketo pick Nathanael’s talk? Clickbait in the wild—or ‘conference bait,’ according to Isaiah.
The process Nathanael used to develop his presentation may be interesting—if you ever wonder how people come up with what to say—it involved conversations, audio recordings thereof, and hand-drawn visuals.
While Nathanael is retrospecting on the exciting development of his presentation, work he’s already done and is happy with, Isaiah jumps in with a stunningly clarifying yet simple coaching question.
Isaiah helps clarify Nathanael’s goal—being memorable—and offers two recommendations to accomplish the goal.
First: the crux of the message should be a single memorable, quotable phrase (employing a figure of speech). Isaiah’s analysis on why this should be the case will apply to the next thing you say, no matter what the platform. He also, helpfully, explains how to develop these phrases.
(Quote of the episode “I’m excited, I now have homework!” —Nathanael)
Second: as a workshop presented, deploy a menu of real tactics that engage the audience in the topic, breaking the “I’m the presenter; you’re the audience” mold. This will create energy in the room and make the workshop memorable. Isaiah then offers a guardrail on how not to do this: don’t ask questions first, as a warmup, that’s an immediate ask of the audience, with nothing offered first. Nathanael has a few ideas to deploy in the talk.
PART TWO: Debriefing the Coaching Session
After the 18.5-minute coaching session, Isaiah asks for a net promoter score. Nathanael answers yes!
The presentation has created some trepidation and fear for Nathanael, most of it irrational. Talking with Isaiah about the workshop itself, using objective facts, helped Nathanael realize what will be gained by giving it his best shot.
Isaiah wonders if the talking aloud about the presentation was as helpful as talking through the presentation, and Nathanael thinks it was the most helpful. He developed a “swing thought.”
The hosts decide that OYP has no official position on the moon landing. However Isaiah does recommend a reading a related speech for inspiration.
Nathanael offers a Powerpoint study from the non-profit world that helped him make his presentation; Isaiah tells him why he remembered the title of the study.