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Episode #209
Tom Tonkin

Corporate to Consultant: How Managers & Executives Transition to Consulting

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Stories of executives who transition to consulting are not that uncommon. But how does one successfully venture out of corporate? Joining Michael Zipursky is Tom Tonkin. Tom is the co-founder of The Sales Conservatory and CEO of The Conservatory Group, a management consulting firm where you help businesses with their management, leadership, and sales. Today he shares how he went from a stable corporate job at Oracle to starting his consulting firm. In addition, he shares lessons he learned from his transition journey and advises fellow executives looking to do the same. Plus, Tom shares future plans for his business and what’s next for him. Stay tuned!

I’m here with Dr. Tom Tonkin. Tom, welcome. 

Thank you, Michael. I look forward to the conversation. It should be a lot of fun.

You’re the CEO of The Conservatory Group, a management consulting firm where you help businesses with their management, leadership and sales. You also have a Doctor of Philosophy in Organizational Leadership. Prior to starting your businesses, you spent many years as a consultant and a director within different organizations. In one of those organizations. you were at for about twenty years. It’s a company with a name quite well-known around the world which is Oracle. In terms of Oracle, what did you learn in those twenty years? Are there any principles, tactics or mindsets that you still hold with you and had a big impact on the success that you’ve experienced to this point?

I would be foolish not to say so. What’s interesting is I think both Oracle and I grew up together because I took that job in 1996. If you go back to that era, from a revenue perspective to get some metrics out, Oracle was probably less than $4 billion a year, maybe $3.5 billion as I recall. Now, if somebody pulls up Google and types in ORCL as the stock symbol, they’re probably somewhere between $45 billion and $50 billion.

That alone tells you a lot about my experience because we grew up together. I have been out for years but for the longest time, even though it was generating billions of dollars, we had a startup mentality and spirit. The leadership there was very strong. You could tell leadership drove the success of the organization. Principle number one, leadership matters. It sounds trivial or mushy but I saw it in action and I saw it in both ways. Oracle, we had our good times and bad times. It did hinge upon leadership.

Larry Ellison has been and continues to be the leader there, but you had other lower-level people in the organization that came and went. Some were good and some weren’t so good. The good news is, Larry is a very strong leader and therefore, Oracle continues to prosper. Overall, even you had those dips, peaks and valleys, you still had somebody at the helm that made a difference. The history there speaks for itself.

A quick question for you on that because I want to make this practical and actionable for everyone. I do want to know how you grew your business. You mentioned that leadership was a powerful part of the growth and bringing people along. For all the consultants and consulting firm owners with us who are either actively managing or building their team, take us back into those days in Oracle. Any stories, examples or things that your leaders and superiors said to you that got you to rally around the team or take action? What stands out for you as part of that that others might be able to implement themselves?

I do think that the heart of what I learned was to have strong values and not succumb to the pressures that would expose or compromise your values. I’ll be very open here and frank. It was back in the days when Larry himself would come to meetings and he would talk. Sometimes he would make a decision on something. He was very open. We would raise our hand and say, “Why did you make that decision?” He would start by saying something like, “Let’s be clear, that decision was not easy. However, the values of the company or the values that I built this company are such that required me to make that very difficult decision.” That stuck with me.

If you were to look at it, most people look at other companies such as Oracle. Pick your Fortune 50 company and see potential lead decisions that don’t make sense. It was fun and good for me to be in that room, hear that and say, “At face value, it didn’t make any sense.” They all will say, “It doesn’t even look like you know what you’re doing.” He very much knew what he was doing and he wasn’t compromising on his values and beliefs.

You don't want to compromise your values because of something short-term. Click To Tweet

A principle in itself that your audience can take away is number one, do you have values and beliefs that shape your decisions? Do you find yourself having to compromise them to short-term? Sometimes people will compromise their values and beliefs like, “I’ll get that deal.” It will be a short term to a long term. After being in the business world, I consider myself a recovering executive. I could tell you that the long term always wins out because there will be another Q4, another fiscal year and another client.

I work with sales a lot and sometimes what happens is people try to sit there and go, “I’ve got to do this for this particular quarter or else I don’t make my number.” I’m like, “There’s another quarter behind it and another quarter behind it. You don’t want to compromise your values because of something short term.”

That to me is principle number two. It’s this idea of long-term thinking over short-term thinking. Often, as entrepreneurs, what we like to call entrepreneurial consultants are people who are not doing the consulting work but are actively thinking about building a business that will grow, prosper and make a big impact. As entrepreneurs, we are very focused on the present or a little bit into the future but not far enough. We judge success based on what happens yesterday, today or maybe tomorrow. We’re not thinking about next year or the following year or five years from now and allowing ourselves to grow into that.

The other thing that you mentioned around the values resonates because as a company, we at Consulting Success have gone through this over the last little while where we’ve started to focus on our values. In episode 200 of the show, my cousin and cofounder, Sam came on and we talked about our values. People can go to the Consulting Success website on Our Story page and you can see our four values there that we have put together.

Very early on, I used to always feel that values were only for big companies like Oracle. It’s not for the smaller, one-person consulting firm or a small team. You don’t need it, but what I’ve realized is that having values is not only important if you want to build a team, but also for the marketplace, your audience, and those you want to serve and make an impact on, and for them to know as well. It will draw in more people who have those same values or shared values. It’ll help keep away those people you probably wouldn’t want to do business with anyway.

You had some great experiences. It sounds like in an app Oracle years ago, you decided to start your own entrepreneurial and consulting journey. Talk to us a little bit about why you decided to leave the “safety of corporate executive life and venture into the deadly forests and cliffs of the consulting world.

It’s like any other relationship. It sounds silly but we grew apart, Oracle and I. I left on great terms. They’re a great company. They took care of me and gave me some nice parting gifts. It was a nice departure. The reason I did that was as I got older in life, there were a few things I needed to do for myself. They didn’t necessarily coincide with any company because I would have gone somewhere else if it would coincide that way. I thought that this is the time that I needed to do that and go do the things I need to do before I’m done. There are certain things I believe and things I want to leave behind, a legacy. Everyone will come to that. I’m a little older than probably most of your audience but eventually, everyone gets there. It’s a question of what is it that you want to leave as your legacy.

I don’t think you’re probably that much older than many of our audience. We have a very diverse and wide-ranging group here from all around the world. There are two things that come up for me as you mentioned that. The first is you mentioned that you left Oracle on very good terms. You left with some nice benefits, parachute or however you want to describe it. What tips would you have for those who are still working in the corporate world? Maybe they have an executive role, whatever it may be and they’re actively thinking about making that transition into consulting.

CSP 209 | Transition To Consulting


In one study that we did in 2021, we found that over 50% of consultants, one of their previous employers was their first consulting client. That’s one interesting data point that we identified in that study. I’m thinking more even tactically, is there anything that you did in your conversations and relationships with your employer to make that transition more successful? Anything looking back that you think, “I wish I would’ve done a little bit differently?” What advice would you offer to those who are looking to make that transition?

I was there for almost twenty years. I knew a lot of people. What happens at companies like Oracle is you grew up and you take different paths and different companies. I knew much of the senior leadership there personally because they weren’t senior leaders the whole time. They were workers like me many years ago and they just moved up. They were very successful. I maintain all those relationships. It’s an important part. They give you those introductions to other places. They could be your first customer but what they can be is certainly your biggest advocate.

There’s nothing more powerful than getting a new customer and someone says, “Where have you done those? What references then that you do?” You can go back and say, “Why don’t you go back to my previous employer and ask them?” That alone by itself means a lot. Sometimes, as entrepreneurs and consultants on our own, we are painting with the paintbrush head like, “We’re not happy and we left. We’re going to go do our own thing. We’re disgruntled and we’re difficult to work with.”

You and I both know that’s not necessarily true. However, there are plenty of people who don’t do what we do, who hire us, who want to know whether or not they’re hiring somebody they can work with. There’s nothing more powerful to say, “Why don’t you talk to somebody that I worked with previously, specifically my previous employer?” I still do and talk to many of those as well.

I want to go back to talk a little bit about the beliefs, values, mission and vision. As a management consultant myself, one of my offerings is to help people do a vision and mission. Most companies out there do not utilize the vision and mission properly. It’s probably one of the least utilized and least effective tools in senior management’s arsenal. Part of it is because it’s not done right. We all walk away with the idea that it’s this mushy thing. We all get together, buy some lunch, talk about aspirational things, and then we go play golf for the other half of the day.

Unfortunately, there are many times that that is true but it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s gotten to a point so much that I have a personal vision and mission as a person. It scales very nicely. It gives you the ability to then make those decisions in the future about your values and making decisions that are based on your values. You may know what they are. You may think of it, “I would never lie or I would never do this,” but then you’re faced with a situation. I’ve been faced with that situation where someone tries and says, “You need to lie to be able to better yourself and get this deal.” All of a sudden, you’re like, “I never thought I’d be in this situation.” Are you prepared? Do you have it written down? Do you have an understanding what your personal vision and mission, therefore, what your organizational vision and mission is?

That’s another idea or principle if we go down the list for your audience to think of. I’m talking fingers on the keyboard, pencil on paper and get clarity. Let me give you the other side of the coin, then I’ll pause. There’s another aspect of this that’s almost contradictory. It’s something that I have learned as an entrepreneur. One of the pieces of advice that I got before I became an entrepreneur is to have clarity on what it is that you want to do. Understand exactly what you’re going to do before you take the big leap and leave the big safety net of corporate life.

One of the things that I came across was a pithy saying that I’ll leave on the table for you to discuss, “Action creates clarity, not the other way around.” You have to move and do stuff to get that clarity. This was the hard lesson that I’ve learned years ago. You don’t sit down and go, “I’m clear. Let’s go,” then five minutes later it’s like, “Hold on a second. I’m not clear.” That’s okay. You’ve got to move to get some clarity.

You’re on the right show, Tom. We often share the phrase imperfect action. We’re very big believers in this idea that you need to take action. Action creates clarity and results. People often hesitate to take action because they don’t feel confident and they want to be clear. In order to get clear and feel more confident, you must take action to see what works and what doesn’t work. Let’s come back to your story. You left Oracle. What was the first thing that you did when you made the decision to start a consulting business? Walk us through the first couple of clients. How did you go about landing those clients? Where did they come from? What did that look like?

Most companies out there do not utilize the vision and mission properly. It’s probably one of the least utilized, least effective tools in senior management’s arsenal. Click To Tweet

I would venture to say whether directly or indirectly, all of my clients come through my network.

Are you actively reaching out to your network? Your stories of people who left their job. They send maybe one email or found out that they’ve left the job. They’re busy for a year or whatever it might be. At some point, the leads and inquiries do start to slow down, and they have to start thinking about marketing their business. Walk us through it. For you specifically, were you sending emails, making phone calls and going to events? What were you doing to leverage that network that you have?

I have to introduce this other part of the story that makes it very interesting. During the beginning part of my consulting firm, I was approached by one of my networks. I’m a PhD Statistician. I can build reliable, valid assessments and things like that. That’s one of the things I do but I had somebody in my network came up to me and said, “We want to create a networking assessment. How do people network? How good are you at networking? Give them, what we call at the time an NQ or Network Quotient.”

I didn’t know what I didn’t know but I said, “I’ll do it.” Through the rigorous process of interviewing people, doing the research and statistical analysis, I landed on an NQ. Like any old good researcher, I took the assessment for myself and found myself not very good. It was an eye-opener. I don’t necessarily know how important that was for me and for people in my position to understand networking.

Because of that assessment, I started working on myself. I started working on the follow-up, follow-through, how to follow up, and understanding influence. How do you influence people? How do you communicate with them better? It’s not just picking up the phone and calling somebody. Maybe it hasn’t hit anybody but it is, “How do I talk to people?” You can’t talk to everybody the same way. You have to have some level of reciprocity because it’s connected to networking. Meaning, “I do something for you. You do something for me,” but not in an expectant kind of way.

A lot of people, when they first get into the network goes, “I know people.” Number one, that’s different from networking. Number two, they pick up the phone and ask like, “Give me,” as opposed to giving it to someone else right out of the gate. When I network with somebody purposely, I always have a reason and I always bring value to the connection.

Can you offer an example of that? Let’s say someone is with us thinking, “I have people in my network that I have not had a conversation with and touched base on for a period of time.” What would be one action that you would recommend that they could take? What would the language look like that you’ve found to be effective?

The language has to be authentic. You can’t fabricate this thing. I’m a big reader and researcher in general. All of us as consultants need to do that. We need to be aware of our business. You find a piece of content or something. You think to yourself, “Who in my network might benefit from this piece of content?” You say, “It’s Joe. I haven’t talked to Joe in a few months.” By the way, it’s never a year. There’s got to be a hum in your networking.

CSP 209 | Transition To Consulting


Let’s say it’s been a long time. I say, “Joe, I trust all is going well with you. I was reading this piece of content. I thought you might find it of interest. I’ve attached it here. I would love your thoughts.” It’s simple as that. I will tell you that 9 out of 10 times, I get a response back. It could be as simple as, “Thank you,” or “I was thinking about you as well,” or “I find this interesting. Why did you connect this piece of content to me?” The next thing you know, you’re having a conversation. You’re going back and forth.

That’s the simple stuff that works. It’s not fancy. It doesn’t necessarily take a lot of time but you’re right. You’re leading with value, which is a big mindset that we have. These days, so many people are being inundated with all kinds of spammy messages, hype-filled promises, things that don’t resonate, especially when you’re talking about savvy buyers of advisory or consulting services.

One question that people might wonder is, how are you managing that? Are you pen to paper or in a spreadsheet? Do you have some kind of CRM? How are you tracking all these people so that it doesn’t turn out to be a year or longer that you’ve forgotten about them and you’re actively able to reach out? What’s working best for you in that department?

I use Salesforce but there’s an aspect of tracking and conducting work. It’s not like I go into Salesforce and say, “Who do I need to call next?” I start on the content side of things. I start on what it is that I do and I do well. As consultants, we all know that we can’t do everything but we can do a few things and we should try to be the best of whatever those things are that we do. I get immersed in that discussion, whether it’d be online, reading, dialoguing, writing books or logging, whatever it might be.

I’m thinking, “What people in my network might benefit from this?” Invariably, somebody does. I crack open either an email or LinkedIn itself, send the message, send the piece of content, and then in Salesforce say, “This is what I did for that person.” That’s it. You don’t get into a whole touch every 30 to 60, 90 days. You get too mechanical because it feels mechanical. It doesn’t feel right. Ever since I adopted this now, let’s not go back because it’s taken a while to build this up, I bet you I get as many emails back as I sent.

It was working for you.

If you networked with people that are good networkers, that’s the other thing too. Networking only works if it’s being used well on the other side. I’ll tell you what usually happens. I’ll get an email about once a week from somebody who says, “You don’t know me but… I got your name from so-and-so who knows you. I saw you somewhere. I heard you on a podcast.”

As a matter of fact, I did a podcast interview. I remember having this conversation, then I get an email from a prospect who heard me somewhere else and wants to engage. It’s a change management deal. I then said, “I did this other podcast that talks about what it is that you’re talking about.” An email later, I sent it and the person said, “This is great. I’m going to send this to someone else who that person and I have been talking about this in another company.”

Tom, how much time do you spend each week or each month on these kinds of activities? What’s your balance between doing the actual work, delivering for clients, working within the business, and then doing the marketing and networking to build the business?

Understand exactly what you're going to do before you take the big leap and leave the big safety net of corporate life. Click To Tweet

I’m very rigorous. I track my own time in an application. I run reports and figure, “Am I working on the right things?”

What application are you using?

I’m using Clockify. It integrates with a bunch of stuff, including QuickBooks, which is what I use. I do both billable and non-billable tracking. Also, if your folks are tool people, I use something called RescueTime. That’s connected to Clockify so it picks up those things that fall through the cracks.

To clarify for everyone, RescueTime is an application. You connect on your laptop or whatever and you sign up for that service. It will monitor which websites you’re going to if you’re spending time on YouTube, LinkedIn or in a Word document. It will show you that so that you can get back the time that you might be wasting.

It’s interesting to get the report because it’s almost like someone’s watching you and you remember that you need to do these things. It’s a little bit of a personal governor. My point is I then balance those things out. Let me use categories here. I have three categories. I have this idea of networking business development. I have the actual work and then the learning or improvement. I am a thought leader and an expert. I’m billed as such.

I better be an expert and that expert means I got to know a bunch of stuff all the time. I can’t rest on my laurels on what I did before. That’s a very important part. Sometimes we forget that. You have to know what’s going on in the business, who’s saying what to who and all that. Those three categories fluctuate but on average, I spend probably somewhere between 50% to 70% delivering.

The next more important that I see is my learning and development, and then lastly, my business development or whatever we want to be networking that communication. I don’t think I take more than 20% on that. I started thinking of days. You’ve got five days that’s 20% a day. We all work more than 40 hours so it’s easier for me to use percentages than if you did hours. That’s how it breaks out for me.

Out of each week, you might spend up to about a day on average working on the business in terms of business development networking, along those lines. 

That does not include any learning or anything like that. That includes sitting in front of a computer and thinking about what phone calls I need to make. Who do I need to sell to? Who do I need to connect with?

CSP 209 | Transition To Consulting


I want to shift our conversation for a moment because you have a very interesting setup in your business. I want you to tell me more if it’s actually separate units, companies or different people involved. You have almost an umbrella company, The Conservatory Group. You have the executive conservatory, the business conservatory, and the sales conservatory. Walk us through in as much transparency as you can. Why is it structured this way? Are there different people involved in each of those different things? Is it more a branding play in terms of you being able to offer but it’s mainly you? Tell us what that umbrella looks like and what those different parts are.

It is an umbrella group because there’s some commonality across everything we do. It’s the word conservatory. Those who are outside of the US may not quite understand that word but here in the US, the term conservatory means a place where you learn music, fine arts, that kind of thing. I know in the UK, it means sunroom so it wouldn’t make any sense. I’m a musician. As I got older through Oracle and a lot of the time I spent in business, I always harken back to those days of how to learn things.

Without getting into a lot of detail, The Conservatory Group uses a conservatory model to deliver on all those business units, whether it’d be the short-term stuff. What I mean by short-term is very transactional like, “Tom, I need you to do this and that.” Then it’s over and then we’ll see what happens. There’s the operational stuff. “I need to learn. I need some coursework and coaching,” or the strategic stuff, “I need that 3 to 5-year vision for my company.”

We use a conservatory model. I have some people that are common and some people that are specific to each of those business units. The punchline here is taking that conservatory learning model experience that I had as a musician and applying it to business. You contextualize it. If I would start talking to you in music terms, you’d be like, “What are we talking about here?”

What I do is I do the same thing on how somebody might learn music, their instrument or whatever it might be. I use business terms that people can understand. It’s a rather involved process within that conservatory model. These are nothing more than abstractions to the same model but nobody would be wiser. People would hear the terminology of business that they’re in.

You have the executive, business and sales conservatory, so three different units, departments or brands almost within the umbrella of The Conservatory Group. Is that done intentionally because you want the opportunity? Do you see the clients are moving from one to the other? Is it cross-selling or upselling opportunities? Is it because you can do all those things so you didn’t want to narrow in on just one? Walk us through why those three exists and not just go all-in with the sales conservatory or the executive.

One of the main premises of The Conservatory Group and how we engage is that our customer’s prospects clients are predisposed to engagement. They have a problem. They have a project. They have something. Language at that level matters. We’re in the middle of doing a revamp on, it’s one of the websites. If you were to go there, it would sound like a sales place to be.

Other websites that we’re developing have that abstraction because we have other conservatories that we’re working on purely from an opportunistic demand perspective. Number one, as an individual, you are predisposed to look for a solution. Number two, you’re using terminology that you’re familiar with. We want to be able to capture that and potentially think of it a little bit different. Let me give you a real example. One of the things we do in the executive conservatory around leadership is we have assessments.

These assessments give you some information but it gives us some information too. Not only that but also, the philosophy behind a lot of these assessments is different from what potentially you would find somewhere else, specifically, this idea of employee engagement. You might’ve heard of the term employee engagement. I am not a fan of the term employee engagement. As consultants or practitioners in this world, we have done a huge disservice to that word and to the people who think they know what it is because it has morphed into many different things.

Action creates clarity, not the other way around. Click To Tweet

Let me give you a little bit of a history lesson if you don’t mind. In the ‘70s, a bunch of social scientists like me came together and said, “What behaviors in organizations occur? Which ones are good and which ones are bad?” That’s a fair question. The ‘70s was a touchy-feely decade for a social scientist. They came up with this term. It was called Organizational Citizenship Behaviors.

It’s a good research. I’ve spent a lot of my time understanding that space. That’s employee engagement. What happens is practitioners get together and go, “That’s a wonky, big and mouthful word. Let’s abstract it to something else. Employee engagement.” The problem is when you disconnect the term from its origin, it no longer has any governance. I would venture to say to anybody that has taken two or more employee engagement surveys, it looked completely different because whoever owned it decided that it’s being something else versus this. There’s no consistency in the term.

At The Conservatory, what we’ve done is we go, “Let’s go back to the roots. Let’s go back to where that came from. Let’s bring that research forward.” If I were to tell you, “Michael, how would you like to take the organizational citizenship behavior assessment?” You’d be like, “Why do I need that?” What I do is I call it employee engagement. That’s the abstraction that I’m talking about.

Correct me if I’m wrong here, Tom. You have these three different units because you want to meet your clients where they are. If they are thinking more about sales, you want to have an option to come into the sales offering. If they’re dealing more with executive employee issues, it might be more on the executive side.

You used the word we several times. Some consultants have a hard enough time successfully running one business unit. Here, you have three and you’re talking about launching additional ones. How do you think about that? Do you have full-time team members? Do you have contractors? How are you running all this? It sounds to a degree that there are multiple businesses and websites, which can create complexity. What’s been your solution to removing complexity and growing the business from a team perspective?

I do have full-time people. Most of them are technologists. We use a lot of the same technology across all the different business units. Same website, same offerings, same hosting models and security architectures, all of that other stuff. I do have a part-time CFO. He jumps in when I need him and when I don’t, I don’t pay him.

Is he helping you with your business or on clients’ businesses?

My business. What he does is I call him. As a matter of fact, I spoke to him and we had a meeting. He helps me rationalize my vision and what I want to do into hard numbers. He comes back to me and says, “If you want to do these kinds of things, this is the revenue you need to generate. This is the model you should use.” Those conversations I have with him. He understands the model but I don’t need him all the time. It’s not a big company. They are part-time bookkeepers, part-time admin, creative people.

The majority of your team is you have a couple of people on the tech side that might be part-time, but you are the glue that holds everyone together. You’re the key point of contact for your clients and the key person delivering. Is that your intention and goal going forward or do you have any plans to increase the team? What are your thoughts? I’m interested specifically, Tom, in how are you planning to scale what you’re doing and maybe even have a desire to scale and grow beyond where you are.

CSP 209 | Transition To Consulting


I don’t have a desire to scale but I will tell you what I do have. I have a lot of people who want me to scale. I have investors who want to give me money because they think a lot of what I’ve done. I’ve got some trademarks and a patent on the table. I’ve got things that lend themselves to money-making things if I were to scale. With all transparency, I’d love nothing more than to ride off on the sunset, enjoy my golden years with my wife, write my memoirs and books, that kind thing.

I’m not looking to be a big company because I came from a big company. It isn’t something that’s appealing to me. What I am looking for is consistency. If anybody knows how to do this, send me an email but I’m trying to smooth out the peaks and valleys of entrepreneurship. There’s an aspect of investing in different things where something’s up, something’s down. I don’t know how to do lots of stuff. I know pretty much what I’ve told you so far on this show. It never was my intention to become big but I do want to be consistent.

I might have a few ideas for you on that. Before we do wrap up here, Tom, three questions for you. First, when you look at your experience up to this point and the success that you’ve had, when you think about one habit that you’ve created or part of your daily life, what’s one thing that you do pretty much every single day, if not, multiple times a day that you feel has had a big impact on your business or on your life? It could be a personal thing, food thing or anything but just one thing that you feel has a big impact on your productivity, performance, mental clarity and things of that nature. What stands out?

It’s journaling.

Do you journal in the morning or evening?

Here’s the interesting thing about journaling. I use journaling as a big word and then I have different types of journaling that I do. I have work and personal journaling. I sometimes consider a sticky note a journal. I also have a voice recorder.

Like a Dictaphone style, the old ones that doctors use?

It’s modern and small, about 1/3 the size of an iPhone. It looks like a stick. It’s in my pocket all the time. I consider that journaling as well and getting everything out of my head. What do I do all the time is I do both personal and work journaling in the morning. I usually go to my local coffee shop and do that for nothing more than just a change of place. Get some coffee, sit down and dump everything. I do work out of a paper journal throughout the day. I’m not opening things and seeing a bunch of stuff. What I do is I have a journal. It’s one page. Everything has to fit on one page. If it doesn’t fit on one page, then it has to be done tomorrow. It’s a physical constraint thing as well. Journaling would be the big answer.

Second question, in the six months or so, what one book have you read, fiction or nonfiction that you’ve enjoyed?

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I’m about to finish, which is silly because it’s an easy book and small. It’s a book by Seth Godin called The Dip. It’s about 80 to 100 pages. It’s not very long. I sat down, read half of it and go, “I can knock this out,” and I never got back to it. My big takeaway sometimes as entrepreneurs are that we suffer the dip. We don’t know what’s on the other side of the dip so we’re thinking, “Is this a cliff? What is it?” It’s probably a dip. It’s something that’s going to go down but eventually goes back up.

This comes back to how we started our conversation, in which you mentioned the importance of taking action and create clarity. That’s what often differentiates those who struggle from those who succeed. Those who struggle will look at that dip and find a reason to hesitate or back off completely and give up. Those who succeed look at that and go, “This looks a little bit scary but I’m here to learn and grow. Let’s keep going and see what happens.” They learned that it’s usually not that bad. Here’s the final question, Tom. Where should people go to learn more about you? You mentioned The Sales Conservatory but what’s one website if they want to connect with you and learn more about you? Where should they go?

TheConservatory.Group. That’s the umbrella website that has all the other stuff. There’s another thing that I am using that seems to be working very well and I’m open to it. I use Voxer. Are you familiar with that?

I’m not a user of Voxer but I know what it is.

Remember I told you that there’s the short-term, learning and then strategic. There are vehicles for each one of those. In strategic, let’s get on a Zoom meeting, talk about it and carve out an hour and a half. If you want to learn something, I’ve got some content I can send you. What people were doing was setting up a half-hour meeting to ask me a question. That didn’t make any sense. I looked around and found this thing called Voxer. It’s a synchronous-asynchronous voicemail type of thing that you go back and forth.

It’s interesting because I feel as if those three things have complimentary vehicles. If you have a question, you can go to and sign up. It’s free. Dr. Tom Tonkin is my username. Drop me a line. Ask me a question or want to get together, whatever it is. What I’ve seen with most people is, “I got this silly question I want to ask you and I want the answer.” That’s been nice because I feel that I have different communication vehicles for each.

Tom, thanks so much for coming on. I appreciate it.

Thank you, Michael.

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