As a consultant, your goal is to make connections and help clients realize that they can trust you to make the changes their company needs to make. This often means that you will be consulting through resistance. Kelly Roach came into the business of consulting by always hearing people around her saying “Who does this kid think she is, coming in here and telling us what we need to do?” Instead of forcing them into her team, she worked hard to earn their respect and trust. Her mindset of recognizing that she is not entitled to the trust of the company off the bat helped her build connections and showed the company that they can win when they link arms with her.
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Consulting Through Resistance with Kelly Roach
I’m very excited to have Kelly Roach joining us. Kelly, welcome.
Michael, excited to be here with you.
For those who aren’t familiar with you and your work, briefly explain and share with us what you do.
I’m a wife and mom first. During the day, I do business growth strategy. I help entrepreneurs, business owners and executive leaders to find the fastest, most efficient way to achieve their financial and business growth goals without compromising their quality of life. It’s all about team, leadership, efficiency, productivity systems and infrastructure to allow you to bring together your personal and your financial goals.
You began your career as a cheerleader.
I was an NFL cheerleader and then moved right from the NFL into the Fortune 500 world.
How did you go from being a cheerleader to transitioning into the corporate world? I don’t know many cheerleaders. This may be a very common thing. What did that look like?
When I was in college, the reason why I selected the university that I went to was because I was dead broke. My family didn’t have any money. I picked the school where I was going to be in the least amount of debt. It just so happened that the school that I went to didn’t have a Division 1 cheerleading team. They didn’t have a Division 1 dance team. For people around the world that don’t do their divisions the way that the United States does, Division 1 is the highest tier, the most competitive level of athletics in any realm at the university level. I had been doing highly competitive dance and cheerleading all through high school and I wanted to keep competing. I wanted to keep learning and growing and pushing myself. It was a decision between going backwards or going forward, so I said, “I’m going to go forward and I’m going to audition for the NFL.” An NFL cheerleader is as much a dancer as it is a performer, as it as a public speaker, as it is someone doing charity work and everything in between. You’re speaking, you’re on camera, you’re performing all of those things. I was a communications major, so it was a perfect fit for me because there’s so much to it.
I was the youngest girl on the team. I had just turned eighteen years old. It gave me the opportunity to have this incredible experience with a very high level of responsibility at a young age. It allowed me to hone my communication skills, get comfortable on camera and was a huge stepping stone into the world of sales. It was getting comfortable putting myself out there, taking risks, being comfortable on camera, being comfortable communicating with everyone from the average Joe to the CEO. That was a huge stepping stone for me when I got into the Fortune 500 world of sales.
Myself at a young age, about 21 years old, when I went over to Japan and opened up a branch office for our company over there and started working with some large brands like Panasonic, Dow Jones Japan, and a whole bunch of others, I certainly know that at that time I had a lot of insecurities, a lot of anxiety being so young and typically being surrounded by people in their 50s or 60s, CEOs, chairmen of organizations and so forth. What was it like for you? When you were eighteen, you were the youngest person in this environment and some people might be saying, “I’m not a cheerleader, how’s this relevant to my business?” Bring us in your mindset. What were you going through? I’m sure that you hit some tough times at that stage or you had some questions. How did you keep going?
When I joined the NFL and I was in that situation, I was surrounded by these brilliant, amazing women that were leaders, scientists, nurses, teachers, real estate agents, and everything in between on my team. I didn’t face a lot of adversity. However, once I got into the Fortune 500 world and I went from being this new college kid to all of a sudden being 22 years old and managing people that were my parents’ age and sitting in board rooms where my peers were the same age as my parents because I was promoted seven times in a year, in my twenties, I was doing what most people were doing in their 50s. I faced a lot of resistance. There were a lot of people that were like, “Who does this kid think she is? Coming here and tell us, what’s what?”
There’s a lot of people initially that didn’t want to report to me. They didn’t want to work with me and sabotage, throw tomatoes and all of that stuff. It was definitely a bit of an uphill battle there. In the end I was, “I will earn your respect. You don’t have to trust me off the bat. You don’t have to respect me off the bat. Watch, listen, observe and then see if you want to work with and for me.” People came around of their own because they realized, “Linking arms with this girl, I’m going to win. I’m going to make money. I’m going to get promoted. I’m going to be on the most successful team.” It definitely was not an easy, clean, upward climb.
Where did that mindset come from? There’re a lot of people that will resonate with where they might be even as consultants working within organizations and they need to rally some champions, some director or key people on the staff around an idea and they are initially facing some resistance. Where did that mindset that you embraced come from to say, “You don’t have to trust me. Let me demonstrate. Let me show you?” How did you get there from a mindset perspective and then put it into action?
It’s great that you brought up about being a consultant in a company because you’re doing exactly what I was doing every single day. Every time you take on a new client, you’re walking in, they’re like, “Who’s this outsider that you think knows our company better than we do, that you’re going to bring in here and tell us what we’re supposed to be doing?” That’s the honest knee-jerk reaction that human beings are going to have in any situation where they feel a little bit infringed upon by an outsider. My mindset is one of, “We’re not entitled to anything. No one has to trust you. No one has to respect you.” You don’t just get respect because someone else hired you as a consultant or because someone else promoted you. That’s great that someone believed in you and made that hiring decision or believed in you. Before I started my own company and promoted me, we all start at zero. In some instances, when you’re a consultant coming in to a company or you’re a new manager that just got promoted over someone else that’s been there twenty years, you’re starting at less than zero.
It is all about your mindset. If you go in with an entitlement mindset and you expect everyone to honor you, respect you, and to trust you without even knowing you, that’s a silly thing. It’s all about your mindset and how you approach people, and in you almost humbling yourself to understand from the other person’s perspective, that you need to earn their trust, you need to walk the walk and talk the talk and model the way and show them that they’re going to win by aligning themselves with you. These are people’s careers that are on the line. It’s fair that they’re going to have some resistance initially to any outsider that’s now been put either over them or in the mix with them or brought in as a change agent. Think about it from the standpoint of a consultant, a lot of times a consultant is brought in to change things. If there’s one thing that people are naturally inclined it’s going to be changed. To me, it’s that mindset of the opposite of entitlement. It’s recognizing you’re not entitled and going in with the mindset of wanting and having that desire to earn trust and the desire to build bridges and make connections and to show people that they can win by aligning with you.
What I would like to do is to make it practical for people. If they’re in a situation where they’re facing resistance, they’re inside an organization as consultants, not everyone is on board. It sounds like you’ve encountered that situation not once, not twice, but many times. What are some practical applications? How can people go into a new organization and get others to start rallying around them?
Putting yourself in the other person’s shoes and extending an olive branch instead of expecting them to. Sometimes when you’re the new person, you expect them to reach out to you. What I would recommend instead is to say, “I realize I’m new here and I realize that you do an amazing job already without me. You probably know more about what it takes to succeed here than I do. I’d love to learn from you and I’m hoping that you can also learn from me. Here’s what my intentions are and here’s how I can help you to make more money, have more fun, get better results, etc. I would love to know also how you feel that you can help me.” Just opening up and being the first person to take that first step to build a bridge versus expecting someone else to just because you’re the new person. You have to put yourself in the perspective and in the shoes of the person that’s sitting across the table or across the room from you.
You built up this career in the corporate world. You had seven promotions in eight years. You were creating results and performing well to do whatever you need to do to get to that place. Talk to me about what happened. What was the tipping point for you where you decide, “I’m going to go out and start my own business.”
One, it got to the point that I was not able to sustain or focus on my health. That was a big tipping point for me. Two, just a realization from a big picture standpoint that I would be able to accomplish maybe some of my financial goals in that space, but certainly never, even if I became a CEO would I be able to make the kind of money that I knew I could make on my own, given the results I was already producing for the company. I also knew not only could I not get to my ultimate financial goals, but that I would have to compromise more and more of myself, my time and my life in order to do it.
I was making all this money and I had no time and no energy to spend it. It wasn’t healthy anymore. I could dial the clock forward and say, “I might be 40 having a heart attack at my desk, and there’s more to life than that.” I wanted to create a life where I had room for family and for hobbies and for being involved in community, giving back and doing work that was making an impact on the world, having real relationships, and I wanted to be able to be successful as well. It’s not that I wanted to be lazy and not work, it’s that I wanted to be able to bring those two things together. I took time to evaluate that and it became very clear to me that the only way I was going to bring together both sides of the coin was in something that I constructed for myself versus going and relying on a company or an employer to create that for me.
That’ll certainly resonate with a lot of people who’ve been in similar situations or in that situation thinking about it. You mentioned that one of the areas that you help when you’re working with entrepreneurs and senior executives in organizations is systems that can help to support growth. Talk to me a little more about what those systems typically are.
Systems for everything, starting with how you manage your people, how you manage the money coming in and going out, your sales intake process and how you convert leads into paying customers, your marketing program, which should be highly systematic. There needs to be innovative and creative aspects of that process, but still needs to be systematic in nature. Those are some of the core ones: sales, marketing, money, people. Those are four of the big guys.
How do you feel that applies to the independent consultant or the small consulting firm owner? What does it look like for them? What are some of the systems, maybe even the case of your own business as you launched it? What are some of the integral systems that have helped you to grow to the point that you’re at now?
I have a team of seven, but even when I was on my own, I started off by developing a systematic approach to my week. Every single week, I followed a sales system, meaning there was a process for everything. There was a step-by-step process for taking someone from being a lead into a consultation, closing them when a conversation closed, the new client orientation to set up the start, and the follow-through. Everything was systematic and that’s why people always say it’s so difficult to delegate or it’s so hard to teach people to take over doing what you’re doing. It’s not hard when you’re doing it yourself. You do it in a systematic way.
What was going on in your mind about the time where you decided that you want to start adding team members and building out beyond yourself, an assistant or some contractors? What was the first person that you put into your organization and what role did they play?
I knew from day one that I was going to build a big team. I knew I was going to keep building over the years. I was managing a team of 100 in my Fortune 500, so I was managing seventeen independent locations, each one that ran like its own business. I was accustomed to managing a lot of people and I enjoyed that. Not all people enjoy that. Just because I do it a certain way doesn’t mean it’s right for anybody else. The audience might say, “I only want to have one assistant and that’s it.” There is no right or wrong to it. I enjoy managing, coaching, teaching, and training people, so that’s the direction that I want to go with my business. From day one, the first thing that I did was I got help with the techie stuff. I wanted to focus my time and energy on creating content, doing consultations with clients, and selling, so that I could get revenue coming in.
The first thing I did was hire someone to take my blog and upload it to my website, send out my email to my email list each week, do Facebook marketing for me. The fastest way to grow is getting help. People think you get help after you grow and that’s why people struggled to grow. The biggest piece of advice I can give for our audience is like, “I’ve been in a little bit of income rut. I can’t seem to get out of it.” You probably are maxed out and there’s definitely a very tight cap on what you can do and where you can go as one person and most of the stuff that you’re doing is stuff that a $10 an hour person can do anyway. That little bit of money that you’re saving by not hiring, you’re losing ten times that by not getting someone doing that work so that you can focus on being out front, getting more customers, building your brand, doing publicity, creating effective content that converts, that type of thing.
Too often, people will put things off like, “I’ll hire someone or I’ll delegate this when I bring in one more client or just a little bit more revenue.” It’s always a little bit later, and then it just never happens because then that little bit later becomes the next little bit later and how they’ve put off a lot longer than they need to. Your example there is a good one. That’s a definitely a big issue that people encounter. What other big challenges or nuggets can you share that you’ve seen from working with executives and other business owners that hold back their growth?
It’s an understanding of what your role as a small business owner actually is. Most small business owners, including consultants, get stuck in that tactician role where they’re like a super employee in their own business. It’s like they are the business. There is no separation between them and the business. The business is them and they are the business. The role of a CEO in a small business is to set the strategy, create the content, drive the vision forward, and then manage and oversee all of the core components of how this business will run like a well-oiled machine, sales, marketing, finance, etc. No one starts there. Everyone starts as a tactician, but the place where people get stuck is the understanding that to grow your business, you have to become a master of your craft. The mastery of your craft as a business owner is not the thing that you do.
If you’re a consultant and you want to have a small business working for yourself, you need to master sales and marketing. If you want to be a consultant and your interest in your passion is around mastering consulting, then you should work for another small business owner and be a consultant for them. It’s two very different things to master the craft of being a business owner and CEO that’s driving the business forward versus being a tactician that does the thing that your business does, and that lack of understanding keeps many business owners broke and struggling because they end up doing so much of the work that other people could do better, faster, and cheaper. If you don’t focus on mastering sales and marketing, which is the lifeblood, the energy, the oxygen that keeps the business going, that’s why 95% of businesses still ultimately fail.
In the consulting world, when you’re in a consulting business, the rule is you’re not in the consulting business, you’re in the marketing business, yet so many people are thinking that they’re in the consulting business. They’re focused on their consulting, but they’re not focused on what creates the client for them to do their consulting work. You have to do the marketing, you have to do the sales, you have to push all that forward and build enough momentum to see real progress so that you can bring the opportunity to work with clients where you can apply your skills and expertise. You’ve now built your business up. You have seven people working with you. What does your typical day look like now that you have this team around you?
My day starts everyday with my team sales call. The first thing I’m going to do is get on the phone with my team and talk about our strategy and a roadmap for the day, what their time blocks are, where they are versus their metrics for the week, where they are versus their sales targets for the week, and what their plan to get there is going to be. Then most of the week, Monday to Thursday, is split between calls, whether I’m doing one-on-ones with my team, radio interviews, podcast interviews, recording for my own show or doing video. I try to be out front as much as I can because the way that our brand is built is based on content. My team runs all the operations, they run all the backend stuff. They do the sales, they do the marketing. They keep the engine running but I’m the face of the business. I’m the CEO, so I’m out front.
I do private consulting. I work with organizations. I run a lot of programs. I have those calls all throughout the week for the different programs that I run: mastermind coaching programs, courses that I do live streams for and all of that good stuff. That’s pretty much it. Fridays are very strategic for me, so Friday is my CEO day. Friday is where I’m looking at the big picture of where we are from a 50,000 foot view and working on things like finance and working on roadmap for next launches that we have coming up and thinking about seasons of content, thinking about people are people plan and the development of my people, where they need to go next, what coaching I need to invest in for them, what resources we need and taking the time to think strategically about where we’re going and what we’re doing, so that I can be the best coach and the best leader possible to my team.
Providing that space to think clearly and work on aspects of your business that otherwise you’d just be caught in the day-to-day. Not enough people do it. They have all these great intentions and they’re worried about taking half day or a full day to think about their business at a high level and then get very detailed into it. Just creating that space, whether it’s from your home office or an office or you go to a hotel someplace or you take a walk in the park, creating that time where you’re not in your usual environment and not doing the usual stuff is where I find most of the good ideas come from.
One of the things my dad said to me when I was young, and this has always stuck with me, “Your life is like a canvas for a painting. If you feel every single inch of that canvas every single day and there’s no white space, there’s no room for opportunity. There is no room for something new. There’s no space, no breathing room, and so leave a little white space so that you can be open to what’s possible. If you fill every ounce of your day, every ounce of your energy, every ounce of your time with pre-determined things and there’s no room for creativity, for innovation, for thought, for something new and different to emerge, you’ve closed yourself off from what’s possible and accepted staying where you are.”
As business owners and for the consultants in our audience, reinventing ourselves and continuing to invest in our own education, improvement of skills, gaining and obtaining new ideas, staying sharp, and keeping that advantage is so important rather than just being stationary. What are you doing and what are you on to and excited about in terms of development of your own brand, your own business, and taking things to that next level?
The thing I’m most excited about is the growth and development of my team. We hired another person full-time. We have another person that has been interning for us that is joining our team full-time. She’s going to be doing full time PR role, so focused on television and radio. I’m most excited about the bandwidth that we’re creating and what’s possible given the overall development of our team and the new roles that we’ve added and just the space for what’s possible. We definitely have seen a huge surge in the last six months of people coming at us from all different directions with opportunities saying, “What are you doing? This online brand you’re building is amazing.” You can see the bigger and more robust our team gets and the more they develop their craft, whether it’s sales or marketing or podcasting or PR whatever, people are definitely recognizing that.
I’m most excited about continuing to build and grow and develop the team because we’re a little close-knit family. We’re all united on this mission together to go out there and help people accomplish their financial goals and to do it without compromising their quality of life. That is a very tiny, tight rope to walk. The work that we do is important and it’s something that people many times have struggled to achieve for quite a long time, whether they’ve been able to achieve the financial part but not the life part or the life part but not the financial part. The work that we’re doing matters and my team believes in that and I believe in that. I’m most excited to see them grow and for us overall as a company and a team to be able to help more people.
What’s the best way for people to learn more about you and your work and to connect with you?
If you are looking to grow and you are either in business or aspiring to be, you want to build your consulting firm, all of that, Unstoppable Success Radio, which is my podcast. We have three episodes go live a week and it’s just a place to help entrepreneurs and business leaders learn how to develop the mindset, the strategy, the tools needed to build their business faster and we do it in a succinct, efficient, and profitable way. That’s Unstoppable Success Radio. My home on the web is KellyRoachCoaching.com.
Kelly, again thanks so much.
Thanks for having me.