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Episode #202
Michele Benton

Creating A Harmonious Work-Life Integration in Your Consulting Business

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A business owner’s success is typically measured by their revenue growth, the number of followers, and overall reputation. However, one important element is usually ignored: a proper work-life balance. Michael Zipursky delves into this topic with Michele Benton, President of lime, LLC. She explains how rejecting the devoted worker mindset allows her to adjust her career according to the lifestyle, not the other way around. She talks about its impact on her team-building strategies, leading to a two-way support system. Michele also shares insights about streamlining processes surrounding life sciences, which for her is a pretty neglected industry.

I’m excited to have Michele Benton with us. Michele, welcome.

Thank you. It’s great to be here, Michael.

Michele, you are the President of lime, a life science marketing strategy and capability consulting firm. I’ve been fortunate to witness firsthand the amazing work that you do with your clients, the career that you’ve had to get to this point which we’re going to dig into. You’ve been accomplishing some great growth within your own business. Before we get to all the exciting things of how you’ve been growing your business, the transitions and challenges, and the experience that you’ve been having as you’ve been accelerating your growth and building your team. I want to go back because I want to hear the story behind the name of your company, lime. Where does that come from? Why did you choose lime for your firm name?

It started off as I was getting ready to leave to defend my dissertation. I’m getting ready to leave the country in two days and one of my colleagues called me up and said, “You have this opportunity with this very large Fortune 50 company, but Michele Benton LLC isn’t going to cut it when it comes to the credibility. Is there any way you can position yourself?” I needed to come up with a name on the fly and was trying to keep it simple and apply all of the marketing and branding techniques that I’ve picked up over the years.

I got to what the core premise was of what we do. This notion of enhancing what’s already there. There are so many uncontrollable in our business life. We can’t control the competitors, the market, the industry, external environments, and factors, but we can take what we have and figure out how to make it better. Like someone might add lime to the soil to adjust the pH, likewise, it would be adding lime. Green’s my favorite color. It all made sense. We had a lot of fun with it. Hence, lime was born, I flew out two days later, and there you go.

The other thing I found interesting about the name is when you and I went through some of our conversations, you’ve done a great job of taking the name and finding ways to bring life and illustrate the name to make it more tangible, to build a story around it. Is that something that you had from the beginning? Has it been something you’ve developed over time? How have you gone about taking this concept of lime and start to build a story around the name?

In my early days of consulting, I viewed it as concept testing. Rather than a traditional way, which is, “I’m going to develop my plan. I’m going to work it out and go from there,” I took much more of a nimble approach. I said, “These first two years, I’m just going to concept test. Let me see what the market wants. Let me talk about a lot of different ways. Let me see what services people are interested in. Let me listen to it.”

It was very much an experimental time for me. I didn’t set out with it being the star of the show. I wanted coherence and a name I could leave behind and it made sense. When I was picking it up, those boxes were checked. Over time, it was interesting how that started to become more of the value proposition and more of what unique benefits we brought that perhaps some of my competitors do not. It became a place to start to differentiate.

It’s not the star of the show, but metaphors are a really powerful way to help explain and bring to life sometimes complicated concepts. It has become a very powerful metaphor and has also helped me focus in terms of things perhaps to drop off or what we’re all about. It started off as something more superficial and it’s evolved to something which has helped us make strategic choices. In a lot of ways, it’s our beacon.

The market cannot be put under anyone's control, but you take what you have and figure out how to make it better. Click To Tweet

I want to bring that to life for everyone with us. I want to make that more tangible in terms of how you’ve leveraged that into strengthening your value proposition, strategic offers, service offers, and all that kind of stuff. Before we get there, you mentioned that the first couple of years, you were very open to just testing. Make that more tangible for everyone. What were you doing? Was it having conversations? Are you asking certain things? If you could offer a few examples, Michele, of how you went about testing the messaging, testing the offers, how do you go about it?

The first thing I did was take the constraints of having a plan. Someone who has been in marketing myself for over two decades, we value good solid strategic planning. I have to say there was a lot of personal discomfort in moving into an experimental mode when this is going to be your business. The first step is giving yourself permission and saying, “I need to concept test just like I do with early stages of marketing on a product.”

The first thing I did was remove those constraints and a lot of it was being open to hearing what was coming to me. Being in tune to, “What were people coming to me for? What were the problems that they had? What were they asking me to do? What were the tasks they were looking for help?” It was interesting because early on, I haven’t had to do cold call marketing at all. 100% has been people coming to me because of my reputation, referrals or, “I heard you’re doing some consulting. Can you help out with this? I’m not sure.”

There were a lot of those conversations. I was listening to what those problems were. I had the experience from my own time being in the seat of marketers and commercial excellence leaders but it was also listening and being in tune. Rather than pushing my agenda, it was truly that outside in where you want to hear what’s coming in, listen for it, adjust, and not hold anything too tightly. A lot of it was in your head more so than it was in specific actions.

There’s that common saying that, “One of the traits or characteristics of the most successful consultants is their ability to ask great questions, and then listen.” It’s the same thing as, “One of the best ways to build your business is to listen.” Often, people are rushed to try but they’re not thinking about what’s going on. You have a conversation with somebody and take a moment and note down afterward, “What did that person say? What did they ask about? What was the real problem?”

After that, probe, and the more you do of that, the more clarity you’re going to get around what the marketplace wants, which allows you then to make better decisions and take more powerful actions. You talked about your career a little bit, working inside of organizations before you went out into consulting, give us like a 30, 40-second timeline from university age into just before you went out and started your own consulting business. What did that look like for you? Where were you working? What were you doing? What’s that career progression?

I’m not going to go into the long story but as I was organizing a few things, I came across my stack of scholarship applications from when I was seventeen years old. There was one application where we had to say, what our future plans are and what we wanted to do when we grew up right after college. I had typed in my little Brother typewriter, we didn’t even have it on the computer then, and I had typed, “Run my own consulting company in the space of employee relations.” I totally forgot about that. I had been driven by that at a young age.

I went to university and majored in industrial labor relations. This people development type of stuff. As I went through college, finish that, and started my first job, it was interesting, I witnessed two separate things. The first thing was, my dad at the time, was trying to start his own company. My dad is brilliant. He’s a National Foundation scholar and an expert in his field. He was trying to parlay into a consultancy but what he didn’t have were the tools to run the business.

What I witnessed is that just because you may be an expert in your field, there’s a separate task and effort of running your business. That perspective wasn’t there for him. I know that it was very difficult watching him struggle through those challenges and then ended up going back to Corporate America because it wasn’t something that worked out. That struck me. At the same time, I was starting my first job out of college and I was watching all these consultants come in working 80 hours a week, no life, on the road all the time. All of these factors, I’m like, “This isn’t for me.”

CSP 202 Michele Benton | Work-Life Balance


I set all that stuff aside, dove into corporate life. I worked in marketing in the US. I worked in emerging markets, launched products, took products off-patent, everything in between, all the customer types. I love marketing. About halfway through my career, I got tapped to lead marketing capabilities. We had never had that function in my company so I was starting it up and I realized I love teaching it even more. That started the second phase of my career.

They often say that chance favors the prepared, so after a lot of thinking, I was getting my PhD at the same time as raising my family. It’s crazy times but there was a moment where I could step away and it gave me an opportunity to start my practice, experiment out a little bit, and see if consulting was for me. Applying the lessons I saw from my dad, as well as what I didn’t want, led me to build the business now.

One point I’d like to make about that, because it was important to me in this consultancy, I didn’t want an 80-hour a week, run your nose to the ground, be a slave to everyone, and have no life. What was important for me was crafting. This consultancy chapter for me was about crafting the lifestyle that goes with the impact that I can make. I found that you don’t have to trade-off. That was what I wanted to see. “Can I make an impact with my clients, and at the same time still have integration, family, time to work different hours or do different things, and have that flexibility so I could have that joy and satisfaction in life?” That became something very important to me as I was building the business early on and now.

This is one that we share in our show and say that you and I have talked a lot about over our work together. It’s such an important area where you’ve been very focused from the get-go of your business that you just don’t want to have a business that is often contradicting that apex of the triangle. Many people put their business at the bottom, which means the lifestyle has to make changes to support the business.

I’m a believer that what you want for your lifestyle is the apex of the triangle and then for the business below so that you can figure out what adjustments you can make within your business and your structure to support your lifestyle. At the end of the day, that’s what matters the most. What have you done for those specifically, Michele? I want to dive into your mindset. People can say like, “I travel or I balance my time with family.” These are all things that are easy for people to say but what are you doing to accomplish it?

Take us back from the onset of your business. You started your consulting business in 2015. What do you do early on and then I’d love to hear what changes you’ve made, both from a mindset perspective and then in terms of blocking and tackling the structure? Walk us through what you feel had the biggest impact on you being able to travel, spend time overseas, have that real balance, or that sense of lifestyle while still running a successful consulting business.

The first step is rejecting this devoted worker ideal. If you go back to the Industrial Revolution, their view was, “If I can extract extra effort out of people and not have to pay them more, if I can get their discretionary effort, I can increase my productivity and not invest any extra costs and my profits do better.” This whole machine evolved from the turn of the century until modern organizational psychology. I listened and studied it in college. I was a student of that and embracer of that early on. That makes you believe, “Meaning and purpose through work. You must work hard. If you aren’t putting the effort in, you don’t deserve the satisfaction.”

There’re these beliefs that are hardwired to so many of us in Western society, at least. The whole process of it is starting to see what that is, which is a ruse to get you to give more at the same price. Your salary minus a little bonus might be a little different but at the end of the day, the company benefits and your family suffers.

Work-life integration, we talk about that. Work has done a great job integrating into our lives, but our life isn’t allowed to integrate back. COVID, to some extent, has shone a spotlight on that and perhaps gave some more bounds but now we’re into recovery, it’s back to normal and challenging that in a lot of companies and a lot of respect.

Providing the greatest amount of value is the best form of currency. Click To Tweet

The first step is deciding whether that narrative is working for you and is hours worked the value of joy, satisfaction, and impact? That’s the first thing. The second thing is being ruthless with your time. For me, I’m a morning person, and I know what I need to accomplish in a certain fixed amount of time. I become very driven and focused on it and I want to make sure I’m clear on what the client wants from me, what’s going to make an impact, and speed.

This is what I think about our conversations, why hourly billing doesn’t work for consultants, because our value is in how fast we can do things. With the twenty years of experience I have, I allow customers to get there faster in a more efficient way. There’s a value base to my offering as opposed to a time base. Time doesn’t have to be the currency. Impact and value, that’s the currency. Thinking about, “What’s going to provide the greatest amount of impact?”

It’s a lot to have practical scheduling. I try to chunk my work. For instance, I try to keep certain days for my strategic planning. One day maybe for administration and then I try to block client calls or client meetings and work sessions into certain periods of time. Obviously, once in a while, we need to move it but the more you can chunk your work, you can be more efficient. Other small things like turning off those email notifications. Minimizing distractions and getting into that flow can help you do your best work.

The final thing is this relationship with technology. Stillness is an okay thing. If I’m standing in the grocery line or waiting at a doctor’s appointment, do I need to be scrolling on my phone in constant frenetic behavior or am I trying to sit and think, “Maybe I could find a new pattern of doing something. Maybe there’s an insight that connects for me?”

Stealing moments of where I can have stillness, do some thought, or make sure that I’m engaging in self-care along the way. It’s a variety of things. I wouldn’t say I’ve mastered it, but for me, the most joy comes with the connection to my family. I need to be energetic. I need to show up, be there and be fully present. I can’t do it if I’m on my phone.

How do you approach travel? You got back from a recharge. There is still some work happening but for quite a period of time, you were also at the beach spending time with family. You do spend time also overseas, yet your business is still successful. Walk us through your mindset around travel. What are the preparations or the approach that you take to be able to still travel?

A lot of the work you’ve been doing has been as a solo consultant. You’re now handling a team and I want to get into that because it’s been tremendous how you’re able to move quickly in that direction. What do you do when it comes to travel? What are some of the best practices when you think about the balance of how to have time to travel? To some people, if they’re especially solo consultants, they don’t travel. They don’t take holidays and then they suffer and they tell themselves that they can’t for whatever reason. How do you approach it?

It gets back to the mindset again. We have this belief of, “Taking a vacation?” There’s this bravado that comes with, “I haven’t taken a vacation in five years. I haven’t been away from the office for a week.” Take three weeks away. I have done that. I will block it where I can work from anywhere in the world so I just plan to say, “I know these weeks will be my vacation time. These weeks will be my work time.” I’ll try to block and organize it ahead of time so that I’m planful for it. That’s something that’s important, thinking through and planning, but also not feeling like there’s something wrong with it.

That was something that I struggled with like, “Am I getting away with something here by being able to do these things?” What’s wrong with it? If I’m making a tremendous impact and I’m meeting my client’s needs, I can do that from any place around the world and not being apologetic about it or feeling like there’s something wrong with it.

CSP 202 Michele Benton | Work-Life Balance


What about the mindset or the belief that some consultants have like, “No, my clients need access to me. I can’t just go away. That’s going to cause issues?” How do you communicate to clients that you’re going to be away for, let’s say, 2 or 3 weeks?

Maybe it’s the belief that, “My clients are paying me for brilliant thinking and new ideas. If I don’t feed my creativity and my soul, if I’m not in strategic renewal, then how do I give that back to my clients?” My value is my creativity or my new ideas or my ability to see a client’s business a different way than they see it. I need to be able to have the mental space to do it.

I’m straightforward. I’m like, “I’m going to be unavailable from this time to this time.” No one needs to know what I’m doing or whether why I can’t make a meeting. I’m doing my best to meet their needs. Even while I’m away, I may take a device break for a few days, but you can check in, but when you’re sitting having a cup of coffee, looking out at the ocean, and checking a few emails, you don’t have to respond but you keep a pulse, things work out.

It’s the sense that life will go on. I always challenge that thought, “They need access to me.” It’s about impact, and they have my cell phone. If it’s an emergency, they can call me, if it’s something that they have to do. Part of what I’m doing with my practice and with my clients is helping them realize how to manage their capacity.

It’s surprising like while I’m looking at marketing strategy and how to make for better marketing actions and practices, a big chunk of it is, “How are marketers taking care of themselves? Do they have the capacity to think? Do they have the capacity to learn? What space are they making for themselves?” If I’m preaching that, I certainly have to practice that. I do believe that is the solution to managing in our fast-moving times. We’ve got to be thinkers. It’s not about knowledge workers, it’s about creative workers. We’ve got to come up with new ideas and so we’ve got to show up differently, take care of ourselves differently, train differently, and engage in different practices.

You were in some of the organizations of the life sciences area, how is that decision to focus on life sciences impacted your strategy to go to the market, your messaging, and your overall brand building? What impact has that had on you from a mindset and business perspective as well?

That is something that is probably one of the most important shifts that I made this 2021 was creating that focus. I had been reluctant, too, because as I was listening to the market, I saw needs in so many places and I had successfully helped lots of different types. The problems are the same sometimes in different places.

In marketing we teach, “Prioritize your customer segment.” Again, practice what you preach. Narrowing down to an ideal client and focusing on life sciences creates more potential. The reason for it is because you can focus and deliver that extremely well. It has amplified lime. Think about it. It’s taken the lime metaphor into the life sciences. It even makes that much more sense. It strengthened the value proposition. It’s allowed for us to do some interesting things in our service offerings and it is a very special place.

Life science marketing is neglected. You got people who are great at sales. There’s a ton of support for sales and sales training. There’s a lot of investment made in training the sales team. For marketers who are making billion-dollar decisions and affecting millions of patients worldwide, we don’t train them, they come up and learn by chance and that’s not fair to them.

Creative workers have to show up, take care of themselves, and train differently than other people. Click To Tweet

I feel passionate about helping this unique need and being able to do so because I sat in their seats. Being able to toggle between, “I’ve been there,” but also, I’ve learned some practices and we have some new methods that might not only help your patients, physicians, and everything better but also your own life and being more satisfied as a marketer in the industry.

Every time that you and I speak, it shines through. When we talk about this idea of specializing in life sciences, the whole concept of lime, I’ve seen you birth life into this concept. One of the things that I’ve found so interesting is the way that you’ve been able to navigate. If you go back, let’s say, 6 months, 8 months, 12 months, you had a lot of different capabilities. A lot of we’ve looked at. Fast forward to where you are now, it seems like you’re much more focused. You have a lot more structure right around your offering.

What are some of the big breakthroughs or ideas that you feel have the biggest impact on going from this place of a lot of different things that you could offer, to narrowing in and creating those best-in-class programs specifically for life sciences organizations? What were the big takeaways and breakthroughs that you’ve had as you’ve gone through that process?

It’s a lot like making whiskey. You start with a lot of corn mash, and there’s a ton of distillation that has to come down. It’s that ruthless simplification and distillation. What helped was the process of putting everything down on paper and seeing how overwhelming it was. More isn’t necessarily more. Being able to streamline it and being committed to, “Let’s cut this.” Even though it’s hard to do, continuing to cut and to streamline, to get to that distillation and the essence of what’s there.

The other thing is being clear on the problems to solve. One of the big differentiators for us is that we’re not necessarily, “You want this particular solution or this training course. Design me a program,” but there’s a lot of other things in play. It’s not just building the skills of somebody but are the institutional pieces in play? What are the inter-relational ways in which leaders and peers interact with each other? There’s a lot of other factors.

We created a diagnosis approach so that it saves us a lot of time rather than delivering and then realizing there’s a mess to clean up, and then clean it up. Instead, let’s take a big picture view, something we call The Soil Test, again, playing to lime, and then we can figure out what treatments make sense. What’s fit for purpose for the organization, what’s the soil, what’s the climate, what’s the flora, the fauna, and then be able to come up with something.

You get a lot of efficiency in doing that. It helps the clients to bring them along to say, “There’s a lot of things at play here. Let’s try to get this right out of the gate.” Also, being able to offer that different perspective. A lot of times, we’ll see the answer like, “This and this is wrong,” but we’re in a change management job, we have to help our clients see that, too. Let’s meet them where they’re at. Let’s look in and take a deep dive and then be able to specify treatments from there, and then narrowing it into just a few offerings.

We know customization is something that’s important. Everyone wants a customized learning program. There are ways to do that in an effective way that perhaps other consultancies can’t. We’ve focused on, “How do we streamline this customization so that it’s fit for purpose, but at the same time it’s something that adds a lot of value and isn’t labor-intensive for the team as well?” It’s striking that balance.

How about for you? In your mind, what would you say has happened for you as an entrepreneurial consultant, as an owner of a consulting firm with team members? What has narrowing in and I would call, subtracting, you could. Some people think you need to add in order to grow, and in fact, no, you need to subtract to be able to grow and get more focused so you can find more leverage and build more systems and processes around what you’re doing. That’s what you’ve been working through now. As that consulting business owner, how do you feel different about the business and offerings now compared to before, where you had a lot of different things and you’re offering a lot of different services to different people?

CSP 202 Michele Benton | Work-Life Balance


You feel more in control. I go back to the example with my early 20s when I started working and was watching these consultants have no life and working 80 hours and redoing their work. We’re not doing that. We’re coming in where we’re able to add value. There’s this huge amount of control, impact, and satisfaction that’s there.

This clarity has been surprising. It’s like pruning. We go back to the lime metaphor. You’re pruning off these little shoots of growth to focus so that you can make what’s important standout. I was hesitant to do pruning because I’m like, “We should be creating it,” but the best horticulturalists are pruning and making sure that we’re taking care of what’s there so that you’re allowing and amplifying.

We talk a lot about amplifying the value proposition. How do we take what is good and amplify it and do more of it, rather than try to spread the peanut butter and end up being nothing to anyone or not being anything interesting or differentiating? It’s so powerful. It helps when you talk about balancing life. You can plan better when you know we’re working through the process. We’ve made these best practices, we know what the soil test should look like, we know what treatments work, what treatments don’t, and the right combination. That clarity helps us move more effectively for clients and, first of all, allows other team members to step in and pick up pieces. It’s not all on me.

I don’t want something to happen to me and the business to go away. We have an important mission to take care of our life science marketers so they can take care of patients. At the same time, it can’t just be on one person. That for me was the biggest shift this 2021, is how to move this out of, “It’s just me,” into, “How do we do this on a wider scale with wider impact?” Having the clarity, a clear client, and a clear value proposition, making choices and pruning, systematizing things create efficiency, power, and an impact with customers.

Going into it, you wouldn’t have imagined it but it’s peaceful. Yes, it’s crazy busy. We still have lots of things as we’re in the evolution and transition process but there’s also peace in that I know the things that need to happen and we’re on the right track, the vision of it, and what we need to do. That peace is something that is irreplaceable. That’s been the best value for me.

Michele, if you were to identify what held you back from building a team earlier, what was the conversation in your own mind? What were some of the hesitations that you had, faced, or considered that held you back from bringing people on earlier than you did? Others may also be experiencing some of those. I’d love to hear from you. What was going on? When did that switch flip? What was the turning point for you to go, “I see that now I need to do this?”

2020 was a very disruptive year for everybody but it also was a year where there was a lot of erratic work, and it was very intense work. I was getting to the point where, after 4 or 5 years, with each year, we were growing at a nice double-digit rate, I was able to continue clients and referrals. Business was going great. I was working a reasonable amount. I had my travel. I built the lifestyle I wanted. I realized at the end of 2020, I can’t grow anymore. It’s almost like there’s a roof on top and a plant can’t grow anymore. With just me, there was only so much that I could do. As I was having my recharge over the holidays, I was like, “I can go 1 of 2 directions. One could be, ‘This is great and this could be my lifestyle to the end,’” but that’s not me.

It goes back to that mission of life sciences and life science marketing. It’s so important, what the industry does for society. These people care and they deserve the skills, personal growth, and satisfaction to be able to do well to meet what society is expecting from them. You see this empty field waiting for growth. For me, that became a turning point to say, “Maybe there’s a way to parlay this into something bigger.”

For me, the challenge was how to make that transition because I wasn’t in a position from a cashflow standpoint that I could feel comfortable bringing lots of people on or doing that, but by doing it in small projects, and doing it stepwise and again, experimentation, concept testing, let’s see what works. Rather than feeling like, “I have to go out and hire five people.” Let’s just test some things out, see what works, start to evolve, and systematize the business. We’re still in the evolution phase, but it’s being patient and also being okay with experimentation versus feeling like you’ve got to have it perfect out of the gate. Don’t let perfect get in the way of good.

There's nothing wrong with doing a bit of experimenting. Don't let the perfect get in the way of the good. Click To Tweet

The first hire that you made, who were those first people that you brought on in terms of the roles? Why did you decide to fill those roles first?

Two main roles were the priorities. One was just having some assistance because I was doing everything. I’m still transitioning. I will be fair that I’m on my growth curve, too. Progress over perfection. It was a business manager to help with systematizing, capturing the flow of work, handling some of the blocking and tackling, working with my calendar. Some of those things that I used to have support when I was in a big company, had transitioned and done on my own. I needed that to get back and be the president, not necessarily be doing everything.

The second big hires were around the actual content creation. How we do content creation, learning, and innovation because that was a place where we simply were having a lot of workloads that I couldn’t handle on my own. Bringing some different expertise in which also will help improve the quality of the offering. Hiring a few other folks who had life science experience to bring that perspective, but also could share the workload and we can divide up projects so it’s not all on me and I can spend part of my time running the business as consultants should be doing.

I could still do my client interaction, strategy work, and things that I love, but also another piece, which is, I love running my business. This has been a nice shift. You talk to lots of different people. It’s an ongoing process and it’s been good. I’m so excited about what’s ahead of us. We’ve got a big team meeting where we’re going to do some future planning as a team and think about how we can make this work for everyone.

The other thing I wanted to mention, too, is that it’s not just the consulting work, but it’s also creating this future-forward workplace. Personally, I might have come to a place where this is how I want my lifestyle to be while a consultant but this launch, relaunch, or next generation of lime is also about creating this future-forward workplace and answering the call to say, “How do we structure our workplace? If this old way is no longer working, how does the new way work in a global, social, digital world?”

There are a ton of amazing talent, that quite frankly, with a society that’s not set up for a two-partner household working, that wants to do great work and deliver incredible client value, but can’t be on the road twenty days a month or work 80 hours a week. We need to adjust it differently and we want something else from our lives than just the grind. There’s a ton of untapped talent that is being left behind in these old outdated workplace models. Becoming this future-forward in the way we run our consultancy is something that I’m very proud of and will be a big differentiator for us in the future.

With so many consultants that we work with, initially, there’s a hesitation to bring people on because it feels like, “We’re going to have to manage people. Go through hiring, training, and it’s faster for me to do it myself. It’s out of my pocket.” All these stories that we tell ourselves. Every single consultant has gone down that path of being strategic about putting people in place. Whether full-time, part-time, contractors, or freelancers, but starting to build a team around you when you start to see the potential to make a greater impact on society, the marketplace, or whatever it is that you want to serve and those clients. Also, you get to make a great impact on these people that are now your team members.

For me, it feels great to have a great team that’s doing great work, and you know that you’re also supporting these people in their lives, and they’re helping to support more people. It’s this beautiful cycle that opens up so much potential to make an impact and, at the same time starts to buy back some of your time. It frees you up and allows you to spend more time to be strategic, traveling, or doing other things.

I’m so glad that you’ve chosen this path. If you were to share one breakthrough, is there anything that’s been surprising for you as you built a team or anything where you feel like, “This has helped and I wish I have done this sooner?” Is there anything that stands out for you related to building a team?

CSP 202 Michele Benton | Work-Life Balance


It’s this mindset of seeing it like I’m running my business. It’s a subtle shift but it’s one that’s so powerful where, “I’m a consultant for hire and I’ll do this different work,” as opposed to, “I have a company and I’m running a business.” Looking at my business, practices, and work I should be doing or not doing or where I spend my time, through that lens, opens up so much more potential. It goes back to the story I told about my dad. No one ever talked to him about that. You’re struggling and trying to figure that out on your own and I’m so fortunate to have resources and the time we’ve been working together and exploring ideas and being able to see both sides of it. Seeing it, I can do great work but also, I need to run a business.

Fortunately, with my marketing experience, it comes a little easier to me. I have sympathy for people who may not have it but it’s a learned skill. As long as you’re aware there’s that business piece of it, you tap into resources, and you look in that area, that can make the shift of being able to create something great. I know my dad would be proud of me now.

It makes me smile when you say that and talk about your father that way. It’s beautiful. What you’re hitting on is what we often refer to as the difference between a consultant and an entrepreneurial consultant. A consultant is someone that can work or they’re oftentimes working as a contractor even though they might call themselves a consultant. An entrepreneurial consultant is a consulting business owner or someone who sees themselves not just doing the work but building a business. That then incorporates all the different things that you’re mentioning from marketing to systems, processes, and team.

If you want to have a team, it’s not necessarily for everybody, but for many people, it’s certainly a good opportunity. That’s an important distinction to make, know, and see because, once you embrace it, it starts to shift your mindset and allow you to make much better decisions as you’ve been experiencing. Michele, I want to thank you so much for coming on talking about lime, what you’ve been up to, and what you’re working on.

I want to make sure that people can learn more about your work. I know you create a lot of great content and insights. Even for those of you who are not in life sciences, you can still pick up a thing or two from what Michele and her team are putting out at lime. Where’s the best place for everyone to go? Point us to where people should go to learn more about you and your work.

That would be the website, You’ll be able to type that in and that talks a little bit about our services and our practices. Also, people are welcome to follow me on LinkedIn. I do a lot of commentary around the space of strategy and innovation and work life. Real true work-life integration, as those are important themes. Feel free to follow me on LinkedIn as well.

Michele has a real passion for this stuff and some great insights based on a track record of success and working in the trenches. I highly recommend that you reach out, connect, and follow. If you do, send Michele a connection request. This is the best practice for anything in the world of LinkedIn. Add a little note, if you’re on mobile, you can click a little button that says options. Don’t click connect right away because then, all of a sudden, you’ll send a connection request without a message. It’s something like, “More,” or whatever. From there, you can say, “Add a message with your connection request.” If you’re on your laptop, that’s an option for you. Send her a note. Let her know that you learned about Michele and her work through the show and get in touch. Michele, thank you again so much for coming on.

Thanks for the opportunity, Michael. It’s always great to talk about these exciting things. Thanks a bunch.

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