Skip Navigation
Episode #150
Josh Long

How To Break Past Revenue Plateaus In Your Consulting Business

Subscribe On

Do you own a business, but finding it hard to break past revenue plateaus? A lot of business strategies claim to make your business grow and increase your profit margins. Unfortunately, most of them don’t work, wasting your time and money. Josh Long joins Michael Zipursky on today’s show to share his Bottleneck Breakthrough Method. A self-labeled coachsultant, Josh helps businesses identify the bottlenecks in their businesses and cross that seven-figure mark. Tune in to this episode to learn how you can improve your systems a lot better so you can get a piece of the upside.

I’m with Josh Long. Josh, welcome.

Thanks, Michael. I’m glad to be here.

Josh, you’re an author. You have a podcast. You speak, a coach and a consultant. You’ve been running Bottleneck Breakthrough, which is your company where you work with mainly B2B businesses to help them to grow beyond the plateaus that they’ve hit in their revenue. A real focus seems to be working with companies that are above $1 million or so in revenue. I know you’ve worked with many that are way beyond that, but you have experienced working closely with leaders like Tony Robbins, Perry Marshall, and a whole bunch of others.

I want to get into how you got to where you are, lessons learned along the way, and have you share some of those best practices that can help out the audience here of consultants in the community. Let’s start off with something that I almost have to read twice because I thought it was a spelling error and I wasn’t sure what was going on, but you call yourself a coachsultant. It’s a clever combination of two words, coach and consultant. Where did that come from and why did you decide to create that title for yourself?

As a consultant, a lot of business owners would see me and under the consulting label, it’s great. “I’m going to give Josh this. He’s going to take care of it and he’s going to give it to me on a silver platter.” Out of the fulfillment done-for-you, specialty hired the gun type of thing. I’m good at that, but then there’s this other side of coaches that draw out the best of us, that challenge us to become a bigger version of ourselves. I realized after a couple of years, I did both. There was no way I could distinguish the two. It was impossible. I enjoy coaching. I played a lot of sports growing up. I was always the team captain. I led teams like old man softball, I always say. In college, I ran two teams with my friends and I was always the organizer and always helping guys fulfill their potential it seemed in whatever I’m helping with.

That’s the coaching nature of me but then I bring subject matter expertise that you can’t coach people towards. It’s mileage. The experience you’ve got, the reps you’ve had, the number of variables you’ve seen makes you a subject matter expert. That’s a consultant. I thought when people would always ask, “What do you do?” I was like, “Let me ask some questions and then we’ll get there.” I thought a coachsultant is such an easy label and it makes people stop. It interrupts their pattern and it lets them ask, “What does that mean?” It would always lead to meaningful conversations. It’s not necessarily great positioning, like worth modeling after, but it’s what’s stuck for me that’s made it easy for people to wrap their heads around the different ways I get involved in their company.

It’s smart because one of the most important parts of messaging is to get people’s attention and interest and to have them go like, “What do you mean?” Tell me more about that. How do you do that?

That’s the marker of anything. If somebody says, “Tell me more,” you’re getting in the ballpark of some offer, pattern interrupts, and messaging that attracts.

How To Break Past Revenue Plateaus In Your Consulting Business With Josh Long: Podcast #150 Click To Tweet

This is important for everyone reading and consuming this to think about it and start to hit on or be open to capturing. Every time you hear someone say, “Tell me more,” ask yourself or think like, “What did I say?” Try and model that or repeat that because as Josh mentioned here, and I’ve seen firsthand over the years as well, it means that you are onto something. The other thing too, to offer as a bit of an action item for everyone here, Josh as coachsultant, what can you use? What language or messaging could you put together about your core advantage or expertise that would get your marketplace to say like, “What do you mean by that? How does that work? Tell me more?” Test it, try it, you might be pleasantly surprised.

You may suffer from things that I’ve suffered from. I call it Smart Guy Syndrome where you make it too complex and people go, “Huh?” You’re obviously missing the mark there. A confused face it’s not, “Tell me more.” I got this one leaning in on the different positioning from a friend of mine who did wealth planning, but if he was at a party and he didn’t want to talk to people. They say, “What do you do?” He says, “I sell insurance.” Instantly, nobody wants to talk to him anymore. It’s over with. A good antithesis to this is you want to make sure that you’re not instantly lumped into some category that they don’t want to deal with.

Unless you’re a business nerd like myself, where I’d probably say, “What kind of insurance? Tell me about that, how do you get paid? What’s your commission structure?” I’d love to break that stuff down.

You and I are nerds but we’re not his target audience. We’re just nerds.

For everyone that’s reading this going, “Are Josh and Michael related?” No, we’re not. We might look alike. We have the same hairstyle and the same shirt or something like that. Let’s get into this idea of bottlenecks and breaking through them because that’s the title of your book. Your company all connects to this. What are some of the most common bottlenecks that you’ve seen, Josh, whether it’s from your own business or from other businesses that you’ve worked with that you feel wouldn’t apply to the independent consultant or small consulting firm owner?

I think more from the B2B side of things and the consulting business model is more of a lifestyle business that fits our brain type, our nerdy curiosity, our willingness to help others and it tends to not be as scalable. The companies that I deal with are all running past that $1 million plateau. I like helping them cross that seven-figure. I’m calling it a seven-figure desert. You either want to stay at $1 million to $2 million and make it a cash cow, or you want to scale it to $10 million and make it something with leverage that can either become something worth selling or where you get massive time leverage on it. From a consultant perspective, some of the bottlenecks are engineering your offering where it requires too much genius in too heavy of a dose without enough leverage on the compensation.

The kiss of death for a lot of smart providers is they can never eliminate things off of their plate and they can never get any leverage, but they can’t charge enough to make it worth their while. It’s this static threshold where maybe they’re in the $15,000 to $20,000 a month range. They’re making a good living, but they’re working 40, 50, 60 hours a week or more than they want. There’s no way to get leverage on it because the deliverable they’ve engineered is either too complex to ever train somebody. I realize I don’t want to grow a consultancy around the Bottleneck Breakthrough Method or my process because I can’t train somebody in to do all that I do because it is a natural gift. It’s a unique ability.

What do you do then in that situation? Here, you want to grow your business.

CSP 150 | Bottleneck Breakthrough Method


I keep refining my offer and keep looking for clients where the same outcome and effort produce a multiplied outcome. For example, I was talking with a friend. She’s a real brilliant consultant. She’s got an agency as well. She was telling me that she stopped in the past, but she was doing $50,000 one-on-one days. She did have at least once a month. All it was she focused on a guaranteed offer that it would add at least $100,000, a quarter in new profit ongoing. She said she didn’t have to say her price was $50,000. It was almost like, “If we could add $100,000 a quarter and ongoing new profits, what’s that worth to you?” The general consensus number was somewhere between $30,000 and $50,000. She says, “How does that sound for the fee?”

You move into more meaningful outcomes. A great example, I hate charging hourly. I don’t like it. I don’t know if it’s something broken in me, but I’m like, “If I’m charging an hour, this hour I gave you is only worth $20 but this hour is worth $10,000. How do I charge for that?” That was always my problem. I had a few friends and a few clients that were past clients that wanted a spot call here or there. One of them said, “What’s your hourly rate? I need an hour of your time.” I’m like, “Let’s throw it on $250.” I had 3 or 4 guys that would call me about once every 3 to 6 months and they’d pay me $250. I was like, “I don’t enjoy these calls.”

I had one of them reached out to me in January of 2020 and we hadn’t talked in over a year. He’s a nice guy, a guy I like, and he’s like, “I was thinking, I’m looking at doing some of this something else and can I get an hour of your time?” I’m like, “Yes, but it’s $500 now.” I wasn’t being a jerk. I wasn’t trying to posture. It’s like, “Let me try it.” He goes back and he’s like, “That’s a little higher than I remember.” I said, “I want to make sure that I’m working on meaningful stuff on these calls when there’s no commitment.” He’s like, “I’m going to pass.” He sent me a long email explaining. He says, “Warning. I’m going to ask for your advice. You could delete it if you think I’m trying to abuse it.”

It took him twenty minutes to write this email. It took me a minute to read and 30 seconds to reply. I was done with it. I was like, “Yes, I didn’t want to waste an hour on that call.” I’ve since moved my threshold up. A one-on-one random pickup, the phone call was $1,000. It’s not that I’m so genius and my time’s worth so much. It’s I don’t want to interrupt my client load. I don’t want to interrupt my free time. I don’t want to interrupt the other projects I’m working on if it’s not worth at least $1,000 to that business owner. That’s the reframe for me.

Two things you mentioned that stand out to me in terms of the opportunity for people to grow because I want to make it tangible for everyone reading is that you said, one, you need to look at your offering. How do you restructure the offerings so you can get more leverage out of it? The other thing that you said, which I thought was powerful and true is honing on the real ideal client. Because to take two different clients and you provide the exact same output, deliverable, time, and energy. If one of them can receive significantly greater value by implementing it, then your compensation can be significantly greater because there’s a greater value there. For people to not accept that all clients even in the same industry that people aren’t made the same. If you can truly identify those where you can have a much greater impact, then right away, that becomes a big point of leverage for you to be able to earn more because it’s going to create greater value. Is there anything that you would add to that, Josh?

I’ve said it multiple times and I’ve stopped working with startups. Unless they’re venture-backed, which I had never been able to work with one that’s venture-backed, but all other startups are ten times the work 1/10 the pay. I don’t want to sound like a mercenary. It’s opportunity costs. I only have me. That’s it. It’s my time and I want to make sure that I get the maximum leverage on it as possible. Perry Marshall and I were close and we’re partners and stuff, we were talking and we’re like, “We’re both way too smart to not be getting paid more for our knowledge and expertise.” The only reason we haven’t up to this point is we’re too nice and we try to help everybody that comes across our plate. You can sound like a jerk. You can sound like a mercenary saying, “No, it’s not big enough for me to help or you need to pay me $1,000 a call.” It may come across cold or distant, but it’s opportunity costs.

Two things for you to think about when we said it was considering the offer and how can you restructure to get and create more leverage? The second thing is to dig deeper into that hyper-responsive client as Glenn Livingston used to call it. Where can you create a much greater impact, more value, therefore, greater compensation? Let’s talk about your business. In terms of what you do to get clients, what from a marketing lead gen perspective is working best?

I’m the absolute worst person to ask this question.

Keep refining your offer and keep looking for clients where the same effort produces a multiplied outcome. Click To Tweet

I don’t mind. I still want to know, how do you get your clients?

This is one of the reasons I’ve never created a certification program around the Bottleneck Breakthrough Method because I don’t have any path to get clients consistently. It’s all networking. I’m an extreme extrovert. When I worked for Chet Holmes from 2008 to 2010 as his marketing director, my network exploded because that guy knew everybody. I’ve worked with Dan Kennedy prior to that and Bill Glazer closely in 2006 and 2007, then ’08 to ’10 I’m with Chet. I get to know Jay Abraham in 2010 and then Perry and I crossed paths around then, and then get closer in 2013, ’14. I have no concern of looking a fool, being caught as a fraud or any of that. I’ve had insecurities, but it never stopped me from throwing myself out there and getting to know these guys. The biggest thing that I realized people have asked me, “How did you get so close with all these big guys?” I don’t name drop. They’re just guys I’ve worked closely with and I’ve gotten a lot of clients through association with them.

The biggest factors are that one, I’m an extreme extrovert. Two, I never asked for anything. I never show up and say the worst kiss of death is, “I worship you. I’ll do whatever you say. Put me to work doing whatever.” I’ve watched them feel all of those and it’s bad. It’s like some desperate person in a romantic situation walking up to you at a bar. You look at him like, “You’ve got some mental issues.” It also puts a strain on them. They don’t know your talent. They’re already trying to manage their organization and people will say, “They already have all this money. They already have all this opportunity.” They have it because they’re diligent with it.

Josh, it sounds like you’re saying, “I wasn’t intentionally reaching out to build my pipeline and so forth.” What have you been doing to build the network? What actions did you take to get yourself in the right place?

With Chet, I was on the heels of bankruptcy. My mortgage brokerage had gone under in a ball of flames and I was doing a webinar series in summer of 2008, licking my wounds, trying to figure out what to do. I interviewed a girl named Loral Langemeier on it. It was a financial thing. I’d come out of the mortgage business. She said she had gotten, started selling Kiyosaki’s board games, and got close with him that way. I thought of reaching out to her because I liked her a lot at the time, but I thought, “I love Chet’s book, The Ultimate Sales Machine. I’m going to figure out if he’s hiring anybody.” He had a little path, little recruiting thing and I sent an email in. I got picked up right away. I talked with Mitch Russo, his recruiter at the time. We talked for an hour and a half on our first call. They hired me. I made all noise. I pointed out all these flaws in their business. I made a mess and then I quit after three weeks because it was a mess. Chet emails me directly, “You’re smart as hell. You can do whatever you want, take a pick.” I point things out, try to fix them and try to help. I’m not being a jerk or anything. I’ve been called a prima donna plenty of times because I won’t sacrifice for a paycheck.

What’s the lesson in that? What I’m getting is you get clear on a result that you want. In the case of getting a job with Chet’s organization, that’s what you want. You want the job with Chet’s organization, you want that experience. A lot of people would look at that and go, “I need to build stuff, prepare, and put all this stuff in place.” It sounds like from what you’re saying, that you reached out, you took action right away.

When I taught at Fresno State for those couple of years too, I taught entrepreneurship, business planning, and opportunity feasibility analysis. I had about 40 students this semester at juniors and seniors in entrepreneurship. They’re writing business plans. Inevitably, I’d have half a dozen or so students every semester that I could connect them with somebody that could help them figure out their business or take a big leap up. I gave them numbers. I introduced them via email. Not a single one ever followed up and made that call. I have never understood that because I’m the exact opposite. I’ll chase somebody down. I’ll find them out, figure out their contact info, email them cold.

There was a startup I was working on. I don’t remember what it was. It’s some personal finance thing. I found a guy who was the founder. He was now working at Google. I reverse-engineered their naming structure of the email. I emailed him, I said, “I’m asking about this.” He wrote back, “That’s pretty impressive. You’re dogged about this.” I don’t care. We all put our pants on the same way. We’re people. My parents never said this, but a friend of mine said this to his kids. He says, “Strangers are friends you haven’t met yet.” I’m like, “That’s a great reframe. I’m not afraid of reaching out to anybody.” I’m very comfortable with uncertainty. I’m not a litigator. I couldn’t be Johnnie Cochran in the courtroom. I can’t tap dance that quick of objections but if I’m meeting somebody I’m comfortable having a conversation and going deep.

CSP 150 | Bottleneck Breakthrough Method


How important do you think that is, Josh, to your success in getting to where you are? That ability and that mindset to not worry about the potential for what some people say “failure,” but taking action right away. How critical is that to where you are?

For my personal unique path for where I’m at now, 100%. This is my unique journey that is wired for me. That’s perfectly fit for me. Being an extreme extrovert, loving, connecting with people, and not being afraid of them thinking I’m some weird psycho that needs a restraining order.

Let’s flip it. What would you then say for someone that doesn’t feel like they are as extroverted as you are? Maybe they hesitate to take action to reach out. They know they’re good at something. They know that they can help people but they’re not naturally comfortable taking action without having more things, more of the plan in place? What advice would you offer them or what can you share?

I’ve had lots of friends that are in that spot that I’m close with that are consultants. The biggest thing that I tell them is, get something that’s easy for you to lead with whether it’s a white paper or it’s some value add that you feel like, “I can walk in. I can stay focused on delivering this piece of value and sharing it and seeing if the door opens.” That’s first. The second thing is when we’re dealing with companies we want to be providers for. When we’re dealing with decision-makers, the biggest concern is that you feel like you’re pestering them, but you feel like, “They didn’t get back.” I flip it over 100% around. I still have to tell myself this sometimes, “It’s our job to be delivering maximum value for them and interrupting their fires that they’re putting out all day because they can’t keep up with everything that’s most important.”

As long as you are aligned with some outcome that’s important to them and you’re checking back in and I hate the check-in of, “Wondering if you’ve seen the proposal yet? Are there any other questions I can answer?” Get out of that breadth because you put yourself in a passive, subservient role. If it’s like, “It’s been a quarter since we’ve checked. I looked at your stock price. It looks like you are taking a beating. I’m imagining your goals have changed. Is there something we can meet on to see about changing the proposal that I sent or see if your roadmaps changed?” Be proactive of how you would help them if they were already your client.

Let’s go back to the story. You’ve used your comfort level of reaching out and taking action to create these initial relationships or at least to get in front of a lot of people that you wanted to work with or get to know over the years. You’ve gone beyond that. Once you’re in a place or connected to them, you clearly have made a mark to the point where they are not comfortable referring your business. The one key thing you said is that you don’t ask them for anything. You’re not saying, “Can you refer me a business?” You’re not making those requests. Is that correct?

One hundred percent.

What are you doing?

Unless they're venture-backed, all other startups are ten times the work and 1/10th the pay. Click To Tweet

I pour so much goodwill on their head.

What would that look like?

It reminds me of a Michael J. Fox movie, which I can’t remember the name of it. It was in the mid-’90s. He was a concierge at a high-end hotel. People would try to give him tips. He’s like, “No.” There was this one character where he’s like, “You’ll know when to pay me back.” He wowed this guy’s wife with some trip or some surprising thing and then the guy gave him part ownership in his property or something, that’s it. It wasn’t a conscious thing for me, but I always want to be giving so much so that when I do ever ask, it’s a no-brainer or they can’t help but start referring or giving back. For example, Perry Marshall is the best example I got on his radar more intentionally or directly because one of his Roundtable members hired me and invited me to the Roundtable as a guest. I co-ran that Roundtable meeting with Perry because I couldn’t help myself.

You started talking. You helped to facilitate essentially that environment.

I got more Roundtable members out of that. They came to me. After a couple of years, I had 7x Roundtable members as clients. Perry and Brian is a partner in all of it. I heard they were brainstorming how to revamp Roundtable and I messaged them on, “I might have some insight. I’ve got seven of your X Roundtable members as clients.” It was December of 2015 or something, and we’re on a phone call. I gave them free advice and consulted with them. I remember Perry pausing and you know him well, he can think quite a while, but I didn’t know him that well. I’m like, “Did I lose you?” I’m in the middle of the call and he’s dead stone silent. I’m like, “Does he hate me?” I kept joking.

I told one of my clients and she’s like, “I’ve got my monthly call with Perry, but I don’t know what to ask him. What should I say?” I’m like, “I don’t know.” She’s like, “I’ll tell him you’ve got it taken care of.” I’m like, “No, don’t say that. He’s going to mail me a pipe bomb thinking I’m stealing his clients or something.” Their biggest need was they needed help with somebody to do the implementation for their Roundtable members. About May of 2017, Jack Born and I were talking and he’s like, “Go back to Perry and tell him you’ll handle it.” I was like, “You’re right. I can, I’m comfortable.” They gobbled it right up. I flew out, spoke at their next Roundtable event in June of that year, and then it goes from there.

What I’m hearing is you put yourself intentionally in the right position for where you want to get to, and then you focused on delivering value. You don’t remain silent. You’re active. People know that you’re present but you’re leading not with commentary that is self-serving at all. It’s all about the community, people, and offering value. Naturally, as a result of doing that, people know who you are, what you do, they start then funneling opportunities towards you because you’ve established yourself as an expert in that area.

It’s the micro play of what McKinsey does. Victor Cheng and I talked back in 2009 and he was on track to be a McKinsey partner. He told me their playbook is they take a partner. They put them on the board of a nonprofit where the CEO of a Fortune 500 company that they want to work with is on that board. They do a bunch of free work for that nonprofit over a number of years. After 2 or 3 years, the partner approaches the CEO and says, “We’ve got some research for your industry. I’d like to have dinner with you.” They go for the value of giving this insider research that’s millions of dollars and at this point, the CEO can’t do anything but hire McKinsey.

CSP 150 | Bottleneck Breakthrough Method


They’re planning a 2 to 3-year game.

They are. I have bills to pay and never that intentional or strategic. If I gravitate towards these guys that I like, we get along and I like helping.

Let’s move up a little bit in your journey. You have two core parts to your business. You have the coachsultant. The coaching and consulting work do you do with these B2B companies. You also have a sales management where you have a base fee plus compensation or performance. Share a little bit more about what that looks like and how you arrive at your pricing structure? A lot of consultants, Josh, are looking for ways to create more leverage to essentially earn more without having to work more. What’s been your experience in that sales management side? What does it look like and how do you structure it?

It’s evolving. I started out by closing for clients because I enjoy it. It’s something I’m good at.

When you say closing for everyone, you essentially mean to convert a prospect from a conversation into a paying client?

You’re right. Closing is a defined part. I don’t do prospecting. I don’t do lead gen on that front as a sales rep. I’m not entering data in their CRM. I’m not coming up with all that stuff. In most businesses, I find in the funnel that right around the close, there are a lot of things that can be optimized. It can make revenue quicker and then we work our way out if they need to improve their marketing or rework their way back if it’s some fulfillment or handoff. The closing situation tends to fit where my brain goes. Jack Born helped me realize that I like setting the strategy and getting the clients on board. I like delivering the vision and the certainty of what the outcome could be, but I don’t like a lot of the fulfillment. Project management, copywriting, and things that come in with a lot of marketing-related consulting work that I was starting out in. He says, “There are guys in Perry’s world that you can close for because they’re great at the technical side, but not on the client-side or closing side.” I started there and it was effortless. It was easy.

I got away from it moving more into an interim marketing director over a few years. I realized I don’t like being the marketing director. It’s so much work and pressure to save the company in a sense. In summer 2019, I cut back. I stopped all project management, copywriting, and felt infinitely better. I cut my scope with a lot of clients and I started moving back more into some sales and sales management. The thing that I realized was I’m good at managing salespeople and helping improve sales processes. I was always a marketer first and sales, I was insecure about. Because I’m working with Chet, there were some big sales trainers there and I was early in my career. I got pigeonholed as the marketer, not the sales guy. I realized like, “No, I’m not going to go toe to toe with big Sandler Sales Training Organization.” For 95% of companies out there, I can make a massive improvement in their sales team side. Going through the door of sales comes with less pressure than going through the door of marketing.

What do you mean by that?

The less you are doing something you don't like, the more you get new stuff. Click To Tweet

If I show up to a business owner and they expect me to fix all their marketing because most business owners aren’t good at marketing, they abdicate everything on me. They’re like, “Figure out our avatar, funnel, ads, and all of it.” As you can imagine, the management of marketing is super complex and gets overwhelming fast. Especially in under-resourced companies where there’s not a big enough team or not enough money to hire. I found when I go through the marketing door, small business owners under $10 million tend to want to dump everything on me. When I go through the sales door, most small business owners are decent salespeople. They’ve hustled their way up to $1 million. They can close deals themselves, but it’s not their highest and best. Coming through that door is less pressure because they’re like, “I understand it anyway.” The beauty of it is when the lead flow stinks, I can point to that and say, “You need to fix that,” and it’s not my job to fix it because I’m not wearing the marketing hat. The other leverage point for me is there are a lot of decent salespeople out there that with the right coaching and guidance and improve systems can close a lot better so I can get a piece of the upside.

Is that what you do then? When you say the sales management and you’re taking a performance fee at a high level or in as much detail as you’re comfortable sharing, how do you structure that? How do you approach? What’s your typical base and service fee?

I don’t have a typical yet. I’ve only had a couple of these. It’s all negotiation. I’ll share one that blew up because of the Coronavirus. In February, I charged them $3,000. It was a give me fee because they’re a referral from Perry. On assessing their sales and marketing, I found a million things. It only took me two days. I dragged it out for three weeks because I wanted them to feel like they got their money’s worth. That whole effort versus fee thing is hilarious. I delivered my recommendations. It was 23 points. I prioritized them. I used my profit-priority process to weighted scale them. They said, “We love all of it. We agree with all of it. Our fiscal year ends in the next four months.” They’re in Australia so their fiscal year ends in June. They said, “We don’t want to do it. Do you want to do it?” I’m like, “Sure, I’ll put my feet to the fire.”

The negotiation was that I would step in overseeing their existing sales and marketing leaders and teams and then out of the upside, I would get 50% of new revenue because they had monthly recurring revenue. My fee was $7,500 a month for four months. That was a great deal. I had no concern of hitting the goals, but then two weeks in Coronavirus hits and they were fearful. They blew up the organization, fired a bunch of people, cut everybody back and my deal was out the window. The funny thing is the two salespeople that have remained outdone them March and April have been bigger than their biggest months prior.

That’s a learning experience. One other thing that you mentioned there, Josh, is you said you cut back. You stopped doing a lot of the project management and copywriting. It’s a whole bunch of things that you used to do and I would guess that for a while, you felt like you needed to do.

It was a catch-22. I did copywriting project management because nobody else could do it. If it wasn’t getting done, then the rest of the stuff I was trying to get done couldn’t get it implemented.

I want to hit on the feeling of what that was like and the mindset that you were in the conversations you were having in your mind. A lot of times consultants know deep down inside, they shouldn’t necessarily be doing everything that they’re doing, but they don’t want to stop because it’s “paying the bills” or what happens to revenue. What did you go through? Was that a concern that revenue would go down? How do you think about that?

It was getting to a point where I’d seen an email come in from Reich or some project and I’d be like, “It grown.” I was talking to my wife about it and I’ve got the best wife in the world who’s grown and gone through bankruptcy with me and grown through so much financial crap. She’s like, “Stop doing it.” She gave me permission to look at it. I’m a blunt guy in life, a big guy. I’m 6’1″, 250. I’m friendly, I’m caring. That’s my natural personality and my friends find it funny that in business, I haven’t been as blunt and as direct with my clients. I’ve realized it’s because at the deep down subconscious and I’ve cleared a lot of this stuff, emotional traumas or beliefs, I was afraid that if I said what I felt that they’d take their ball and go home and then they fire me essentially.

CSP 150 | Bottleneck Breakthrough Method


I learned this with Chet because he was a hard guy to work for and the more I’d punch back and stand up for myself and not care what happened, the more respect I get, the more I get what I want, the better the outcome is. I don’t like working with people that I have to do that with on a long-term basis. That was the big shift was realizing, “I don’t enjoy this anymore. I need for my own sanity to say no.” I had two clients that I was on some sizable retainers and I told them both and one of them gasped. I wasn’t worried about him firing me, but he understood. He’s a great human being. I wasn’t concerned about that. He’s like, “I miss you doing all of that because I’m doing it now. This is a lot of work. You were right to cut it back.” The other one was fine. The fee did go down and there were some lean months, but I felt so much better like it didn’t matter the money side. The sanity was there.

That’s important because in business, especially in the early days when people were getting things going, you feel like the money is the most important thing. You do whatever you can to hustle and to build it up. You get to a point hopefully sooner, rather than later, that you realized that even if you’ve accumulated all this money, but you don’t have your health or you’re not happy every day or you don’t have good relationships with your spouse or loved ones or whatever it might be like. Money doesn’t matter.

Victor Cheng and I have swapped notes on this. He left McKinsey, he moved to Bainbridge Island near Vancouver Island. We both said like, “We’ve made massive career decisions that are outside of the norm, but we’ve made more money because of it.” The less I’m doing crap I don’t like the more I get new stuff. It’s that whole window closing and door opening. I don’t remember the analogy, but you make space for something better to replace it.

That’s a great way to end this conversation. Josh, it’s real pleasure. Thank you so much for coming on here. I want to make sure that people can learn more about you and your work. Let us know where’s the best place for them to go?

The best place is Facebook. I’ve got a free Facebook Group called the Bottleneck Breakthrough Method. I share this stuff regularly. I’ve got a podcast, Bottleneck Breakthrough Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, wherever podcasts are. We get out about weekly. The website is The book, you can get at Amazon, Kindle, Audible, but Facebook group is the best. That’s where I’m the most active. I realized I don’t email my list. I don’t get anything back. I never send anything. The interaction in the Facebook group is great.

Thanks again, Josh. 

It’s my pleasure, Michael. Take care.

You too.

Important Links:

Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share!
Join the Consulting Success Community today:

Leave a Comment, Join the Conversation!