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Our 10 Guiding Principles: Inside Our Consulting Business And Life

Looking into what we really think, how we make decisions, and what gets us to act keep us in check. This is very crucial to know because what drives us as individuals is indicative of what is important to us and the direction that we want to take our business. This could also help you really focus on the few things that matter instead of focusing on everything and anything that’s out there, and working with a handful of people that you enjoy working with and know you can deliver results to. Check out and learn from the 10 Guiding Principles we’ve created and compiled on what drives us and what’s really important to us inside our consulting business and life.

Listen to the podcast here:

Our 10 Guiding Principles: Inside Our Consulting Business And Life

You are in for a treat. I have none other than my cousin and business partner, Sam, joining us. Sam, welcome.

I’m happy to be here.

This is exciting because typically I am interviewing other consultants and business owners for part of the Consulting Success Podcast. Sometimes you’ll find me on a solo cast but it’s not too often that Sam jumps on and joins in. I’m really excited to have him because Sam plays, at some points, a role that not everyone sees. He plays a very integral and very important part of the business, working with our clients, helping with our branding and our direction, and so much else that goes on. I am just excited to have you on here and for us to be diving into our topic which is sharing our guiding principles. We’ve been giving a lot of thought to what is important to us and the direction that we want to take our business.

Part of that, Sam and I sat down and we’ve compiled and created the Ten Guiding Principles, what drives us as people, as business owners, as a part of families and just global citizens. When we boil everything down to the essence of Sam and myself, ten themes, ten big ideas and ten guiding principles emerged and we both thought it would be fun and hopefully beneficial for you to hear what drives us and what’s really important to us. Let’s just get right into it.

1. Less Is More

The first principle is less is more. Sam, you want to maybe just explain a little around what less is more means to us?

I’ll speak for myself but less is more is really the way we look at what we do in life and what we do in our business. What we mean by that is that instead of focusing on everything and focusing on anything that’s out there, really focus on the few things that matter. Focus on the few things that are important. Focus on the few things that give us the most enjoyment or really give back the most. A good example would be clients, and even in our coaching program, and the whole way our business is structured. We don’t work with tons of different people, we work with a handful of people that we really enjoy working with and we know we can deliver results to. They get us, we get them. That’s one example. Another one would be around friends. We’re social people, we have lots of friends but really when I look personally at my circle of friends, I have five to eight really close friends that I spend a lot of time with. Less is more is a philosophy in business, it’s a philosophy in life. Even when I travel, I go to fewer places. I’d like to spend time in less places because I want to get to know the people. I want to get to know the place. I want to have a real experience there. That’s really my take on less is more.

Those are really great points. What I would also share is that what we’re going to be taking you through and opening up in terms of our observations to you, these are based on a lot of trial and error, a lot of learning experiences or what people call failures. Sam and I have been together for almost eighteen, nineteen years now in terms of building businesses together. We’ve launched multiple businesses. We’ve sold a couple of businesses. We’ve grown. This is all as part of growing seven figure businesses and so forth. This, in terms of less is more, has really been important for us. We’ve experienced what it’s like to have a lot going on, trying to manage complex businesses. At one point, we actually ran three different businesses at one time, and that wasn’t very much fun.

We learned that actually the most powerful way to grow a business is not through addition, but it’s really through subtraction. If you look at the most successful businesses of our times, they typically got started and also at their peak remain the most successful when they’re very focused. As I mentioned, we work with a small group of clients. Our approach as well to marketing and to business building is one where we’re not trying to do tons and tons of different things. We really don’t want to hone into what is going to work best and how we can get to the result that we want in the shortest period of time and in the most straightforward path. This for us, less is more, has certainly been a really important principle. Let’s go to number two, which is creativity. Why don’t you get a start on this one as well, Sam?

2. Creativity

I would say creativity is a huge principle and a huge area of focus within our company. Personally, creativity is what fuels me. My background is in branding, it’s in design, it’s in photography, it’s in music, it’s in strategy, and it’s in marketing. Whatever I want to do, I bring creativity to the table. I think Michael and I both do. When it comes to our company and the decisions we make, creativity plays a huge role. I’ll give you an example, the environments we work in. We really feel that designer environments, it even goes back less is more. In un-cluttered environments that feel creative, where you have the coffee machine brewing, you have good music playing, you feel focused, you feel inspired, and you feel energetic. Creative environments, for me, really defines creativity as one component.

Listening to good music as you work, obviously when you’re not talking to a client, but when you’re maybe doing emails or when I’m doing a design of a website or whatever it may be, I’m listening to good jazz. I’m listening to good hip-hop instrumentals. Mike and I are always sharing music. We’re feeling in a creative zone. When we travel, we get inspired by creativity. When we talk to clients, we get inspired by creative clients. Creativity in general really fuels the business and fuels the energy. Without creativity flowing, I don’t feel that a business can thrive and I don’t feel an environment is as healthy as it can be. Creativity really supports business and supports life and flow.

The other thing I would add to that is I think we’ve both seen that in business, allowing yourself to be creative and putting yourself in an environment that helps you to feel more creative is actually how you go from being in the normal zone, feeling like you’re just doing the day-to-day, trying to get through another day, to a place where you reach some call the state of flow, or an extraordinary zone where you’re very focused. Time seems to fly by. You’re very productive and you enjoy the process. You enjoy the work that you’re doing, and there are many different ways to achieve that. In some cases, I know both Sam and I enjoy going out into nature. We enjoy having good coffees, being in a nicely-designed environment, or listening to music. It can also be about just going for a walk down the street, or going to the gym, or ending up in a new country or a new city. These are all things that fuel creativity and also help us to find our best ideas or to look at challenges that we’re facing in a different perspective that can help us to solve it, compared to just staying at our desk or in our usual normal zone.

3. Excellence

Our third guiding principle is excellence. This is one that I believe every entrepreneur who is opt to great things or has the ambition to achieve great things is focused on. In most cases I believe it’s a conscious decision. Maybe sometimes you’re busy doing what you’re doing that it becomes a bit subconscious. It’s becomes like a habit. I know that for Sam and I and in our businesses over the years, we’ve always wanted to get better. We’ve never felt we’ve reached a place where we’re satisfied. We want to be grateful and appreciate our accomplishments, what we’ve done, and we want to look backwards and be grateful for that. Sometimes we’re not as good as we’d like to, we have gone through times where we’ve said, “We’re at this level, let’s get to this next level.” We get to that next level. All of a sudden, we’re already talking about getting to that next level without even actually appreciating what we’ve accomplished. We’ve made progress, but we’ve always been really committed to like sharpening our swords, our craft, and our skills. Sam, one thing that I know you’ve been very big into as well is investing into your own coaches or learning new skill sets. Talk a little bit more about what excellence meants for you?

A lot of the stuff that you just said, obviously we talk about this all the time but really a commitment to always be improving. I personally find that excellence to me means it’s part of the spice of life. I look at myself and I look at Michael, I look at us as lifelong learners, always wanting to improve, always wanting to challenge ourselves, always knowing that there’s room for us to get better. There’s a saying I say to people, I heard it many times in different books and different people I’ve spoken to, “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.” That always strikes a chord for me because what that means to me is surrounding myself with excellent people, meaning good people, good quality people, people that are positive, people that are successful, and people that want to move forward and really work on excellence together.

CSP 10 Guiding Principles | Consulting Business

I like to surround myself with excellent people. Mike, my cousin is one of them in my eyes. We do business together and have fun together, and that’s always motivating. Excellence is just a commitment to always moving forward. I liked how Mike started off there. What we look at is that we’re always grateful, but we’re never satisfied. I’m very thankful and very grateful for everything we’ve built, our clients, the people we work with, our families, our friends, and everything, but that hunger never gets satisfied. That’s the whole point of improving, continuous improvement.

That’s a really interesting point. I’ve often looked at very successful people by the typical societal standard of they’ve built a very big company or they’ve led large teams or they’ve made a lot of money. In the early years I would look at that and go, “When they have so much money, why do they need to keep doing what they’re doing? Why don’t they just hit the beach and take time off?” As the years have gone on, I’ve just recognized more and more that it’s not about the money. We’ll talk more about that in another principle coming up here, but it’s about excellence. It’s about the hunger. Real entrepreneurs and real business owners know that they’re going to continue hitting challenges, but hitting a challenge really just means that you’re learning something new, and that’s really what we’re all after.

It’s about ongoing learning and ongoing improvement because the moment that you stop trying to excel, which doesn’t mean that you have to be number one in the world, but it’s about having the desire to improve. The more that we take steps to improve, the more satisfied that we feel, the more positive that we feel, the more energy that we have, and the more that we want to go out and do it again. I think this is a shared trait among the most successful people, regardless of the industry or size of company. It’s a sign that I’ve definitely observed and in many entrepreneurs that I know who are just like they feel.

I’ll share this quote, I heard a podcast when I was at the gym by Ray Dalio and he said, “If you worry, you don’t need to worry. If you don’t worry, you need to worry.” That really spoke to me because I know a lot of consultants spend time, we could call it a worrying but it’s just thinking about how to improve and looking at situations in different ways. That’s really what this is all about. It’s all about excellence. The people who excel the most are those who are thinking about ongoing improvement and sharpening their craft.

We don’t want you to go and be worrying, that is not excellent. That is a good quote though.

The worrying comes out. This is a conversation that we’ve definitely had with a lot of clients, all entrepreneurs, all people in business. You and I have talked about even in our own business, it’s a sign, that even running a seven-figure business, we come up against this all the time. We look at a situation, we’re feeling at the highs of something, and the next minute we’re feeling the sign didn’t go the way that we want to, and we will feel a bit of a low. What allows us now continue to be more and more successful is that we just take that, and we just say, “Thank you for what we’re feeling right now. We’d have to figure out a way to overcome it.” There’s always an element of worry, but it’s about learning how to harness that feeling of worry and recognizing that is just part of a pattern of, “I’m going to now learn something, improve based on where I was before, and continue going on.” That’s what we mean by worry.

4. Global Citizens

Let’s jump now to our fourth guiding principle, which is what we call being global citizens. This a sign that I really respect and appreciate when it comes to Sam. While both Sam and I have a spent time in our early years growing up in different countries and different cultures. I don’t know many people that travel the world and work in different countries and cities around the world as Sam. In my mind, you’re one of the leaders in this area. Why don’t you get us started here, Sam, just talk a little bit about what being a global citizen means to you?

I think you said it best at the beginning. Mike and I both had grown up in Israel from young children. Our dads are actually twins. When we were in our younger years, we had both spent several years living in Israel. We learned the language and we came back to Canada. Ever since being children, I’ll speak for myself, I really got into global cultures and I’m interested in the world. I knew from a very young age, I don’t remember what age, but I did know from a young age that for me one of my biggest passions and interests in life was other people, other cultures, travel, seeing different cities, and getting that feeling of being in different places. Years ago in my twenties, I made it a goal that no matter what I had to do, and who I had to work with, at one point I would want to have a job or want to have a business that would enable me to be part of this world on a more regular basis, and not just go backpacking or traveling at older ages, but really go to cultures and countries and experience them deeply.

In the last several years, through consulting and through business, I’ve definitely had the chance to go work, to go travel, to really test out co-working spaces, to rent apartments in new cities, and based out of there. The whole thing for me is as long as the internet is fast, which is not a problem anymore in most places in the world, there’s no issue doing business. Sometimes you have to be willing to wake up super early or go to bed quite late to work with clients in different countries, but that’s all part of it. The way I look at number four, global citizens is appreciating the world, getting inspired by the world, understanding people, working with clients from all over, and really getting that blend of business and travel just right. We’ve brought that into our business. I know Michael loves it just as much and I’m sure he’ll speak on it, but every six months we do client events now with some of our top clients in different international locations. We’ve blended our passion and love for travel and the world into our business.

We’ve had events now in Mexico City and in Vancouver, our home base. We’ve had an event in Lisbon as well, and many more to come. I really think blending business travel and just getting a buzz off this international, lovely, beautiful and interesting world that’s out there, that’s always been a driver for me and continues to be. That’s how I would talk about being a global citizen when it comes to my perspective on that.

Sam and I growing up, we’re spending a lot of time together in our early years and continue to be very close, obviously as I work in the business. Even personally we’re like brothers, so a lot of what you’ll hear from each one of us is certainly reflected in the other. I share much of what Sam just mentioned right there. In my high school, I was surrounded by people who came from different countries especially from Asia, being in Vancouver, there’s a very heavy Asian population, being the one white guy in this section of the high school. Some people I remember, I would look at that and go like, “That seems a bit strange.” I just love it and I know Sam, you’re the same. I remember you talked about your group of friends growing up was like the United Nations.

If you look at a high school photo of me at the basketball court or whatever, hanging out with my friends, it looks like the United Nations. There’s a representative from 80 different countries.

That’s always been something we’ve been interested in. I think a good consultant is someone who really takes a true and genuine interest in people, in learning, and asking questions. For us it’s been culture. It’s been a country’s history, languages, food, drinks, and just all of those things that are connected to different locations for both of us that have been a really important. The other thing for me, like Sam, I remember in the early years we decided that we wanted to be able to take our business online to work with clients anywhere, and we’ve been able to achieve that. In the last year, I spent five months out of the country with my wife and my daughter. I’m traveling, seeing different countries, enjoying a great life, but at the same time being able to work very closely with clients and see not only our business do well, but see our clients’ business do extremely well, which is what’s most important for us.

The other part of it that I know Sam and I really appreciate is that we have many clients who have wanted to do the same thing. They wanted to work more international. They want to be able to spend more time with their family and their loved ones, still make a really great income, and create a lot more freedom and flexibility in their schedules. We consistently now see more and more of our clients being able to do that, where they’re able to go off travel to several countries with their spouse and their business is still doing well. They’re able to spend a lot more time at home with young ones, but they’re making two or three times more than they were when they were running a corporate role just pulling their hair out. For us, being able to work anywhere, anytime and still enjoy a lot of freedom and flexibility has been just so valuable and so important for us.

5. Connection

That then takes us in right now to our fifth guiding principle, which is connection. That really is directly connected to what we said before, which is helping others to achieve results. That is a really big thing for us. I know Sam and I enjoy the connection of being with other people, whether it’s clients or some who we just meet at a park or in a random situation. That’s one thing actually I’ve noticed about you, Sam. You have the ability to be almost anywhere. When we were in Rome, we are crossing the street, we are walking, we walked about ten kilometers a day, and we’re crossing a street and there was this older gentleman. You’ve got into a little bit of a conversation, and you’ve done that almost everywhere that we’ve gone and traveled. Talk to us a little bit about like what connection means to you and why you enjoy connecting with people so much.

Connection for me is really just what you just said. It’s making experiences meaningful, being close to people, and being a social being. That’s one of the parts I love about the work I do within our business. I work with clients very closely. I speak to them every week or every two weeks. I’m constantly checking in with clients. I love chatting with them. I’m talking to people about enrollment, talking to people about our coaching program, and talking to people about the live events. I help plan those out, and that’s from a business point of view. I like to be mentally stimulated and really social with people. Whether it’s talking with Michael about business, joking around, and having fun, that’s a connection. Whether I’m talking to clients or other people in our business, that’s a connection as well.

On the personal side, really just digging deeper, just enjoying life and enjoying people around me. Connecting with people on a deeper level, whether it be traveling, whether it be my friends, whether it be my family, whoever it is. There’s not too much to talk about on this point rather than just how important it is to stay connected. We’re in this connected world. We all know that social media can be isolating and can be not a true way of connecting with people. I speak for Michael on this point as well, that we value in person, whether it’s a phone call or meeting up for a meal, or whatever it is, but real people conversation. It even goes back to our less is more principle, but just making meaningful connections and making good impact through those.

One thing that we both noticed is that we spend less time on social media channels and platforms than what we used to years ago. We’re just not interested in the showboating. What people put out there, a lot of it is like a fake connection. I’m not saying for everyone; some people genuinely love it and it means a lot to them. That’s terrific. Technology is great and I know both Sam and I are into technology, especially finding ways to improve our lives and our business and all that. At the end of the day, technology is not a replacement for a real, true, and meaningful relationship. That’s why we’ve started to move a little bit away from spending so much time on social, not that we necessarily spent tons of time even before compared to some people, but just less interest in that and more interest in going deep with those that we love, our families and our clients, has been a trend or shift that I’ve observed us having over the last little while. The other part is I know that for us, more than a lot of other things out there, Sam and I are simple in the way that we just really enjoy. There isn’t much that gives us as much pleasure as sitting down for a really good meal with great friends or loved ones pouring some wine, having some nice food, and enjoying conversation. That for me and Sam for you too is probably one of the most enjoyable things that I can even think of.

Mike’s a better cook than me though. I like when he invites me to his place for that connection. I’m not going to lie. He has the good wine, and the good food skills.

I have been seeing your cooking skills improve over the years too. Let’s jump then to the guiding principle number six.

6. Wealth & Expansion

Wealth and expansion, number six. A lot of these principles are going to overlap because they’re the Ten Guiding Principles. Wealth and expansion, this one connected me to excellence once again. We have a big interest in growing wealth, not just for growing wealth. Of course, it’s nice to make money. It’s nice to get more each month. It’s nice to be able to invest. It’s nice to be able to do nice things, but really not for the sake of just generating wealth, but really to challenge yourself to go back to that whole excellence. One interest that I’ve really taken on in the last few years, and Michael too, is investing in different types of industries and different types of projects, and not even necessarily if they’re the most profitable. Just trying out things, what I like to refer to them as heart projects, and investing in thing, who knows how they’re going to turn out.

It’s fun to try new projects, to try new things, to help others, to Kiva. That’s something I would like to do. Investing in the micro loans for entrepreneurs in developing countries. You get your money back but you don’t make interests, you’re just putting your money somewhere where it’s fairly safe, not 100% but you’re investing in an exciting project for an entrepreneur in a developing country, and then you can get that money back and lend it to someone else. It’s a nice system. For me, that’s really what wealth and expansion is all about. Making money, saving money and investing in new ideas. The word possibility comes to mind when I think about wealth and expansion.

CSP 10 Guiding Principles | Consulting Business

If I go back from about the age of twelve or thirteen years old, my father taught me about investing and finances. It’s something that I’ve always done and been very focused on. What I’ve noticed, as the years have gone on, I’ve been less directly interested or propelled by money for the sake of money. It’s really about what does that allow us to do and how does it allow us to grow, to help others, or to impact others. Since my daughter was born a few years ago now, legacy has been something that’s been much more important for me, and just thinking about what that means, not necessarily just like leaving money for kids, or my wife, or family, or things of that nature. When I think about wealth, I think true wealth is freedom to do what you want and to spend your time how you want. I remember the reason I became a consultant way back in the day was just to do what I wanted to do and not to have a boss looking over my shoulder or someone holding my income potential back and putting up a ceiling or dictating schedule.

Anyone that knows me knows that I spend a lot of time working, but I do it because I enjoy it. We’ve been doing it for years, but we control our schedules. If we want to take a bit more time off to do something, we can. If we want not to work on a certain day, we can. I know for me, one big thing, I remember before my daughter was born just being able to take time off multiple times a week if I needed to go with my wife to the doctor or to go get an X-Ray or whatever without even having to think about it. That for me is a source of wealth, to have that freedom, to have that level of flexibility, and more and more as I’ve mentioned. As we’ve grown our wealth and grown our finances through successful businesses and sales and all that, it’s also opened up possibilities for us to do things that we haven’t necessarily done before and look at new kinds of investments and new ways that we can create projects that mean more to us.

That I think is really what wealth is all about, seeing that we both continue to study, we both continue to make investments, we both continue to think about what legacy is all about. Don’t get me wrong, finances and money is something that still is important to me, but it’s not nearly as important as it was in the early days because I think that my priorities and just what I’ve thought about has shifted a little bit in terms of what really matters. We’re going to that here in the upcoming guiding principle. Let’s first go to our seventh guiding principle which is this idea of long-term mindset. I would say in the early days that this is sign that we probably didn’t really appreciate. Sam, what would you agree with that?

7. Long-Term Mindset

I didn’t know what was long-term so I wouldn’t have labeled it long-term. I would have been more rushed. When I was around 21, I started studying internet business and design. I’m 40 now. Nineteen years ago, I knew somehow that in the future, which is now, I wanted to do business in internet and international and online. I didn’t know what it was, I didn’t know what it looked like, but even at that young age of 21, I was committing to the long-term. I was literally committing for life to a life of online business and internet and marketing and branding and design. I didn’t know what it would look like nineteen years ago, but I knew it was a long-term commitment and I knew I wouldn’t figure it out for a long time. However, I knew I was committed. That’s what really comes to mind first.

What I was pointing out was that in the early days of our first two or three businesses that we built together, we jumped around a lot more. We’ve got confronted with shiny objects and new opportunities. In the early days, we found ourselves saying yes to a lot of things that we probably shouldn’t have been saying yes to. As time has gone on, we’ve become much better at getting clear on what is our true goal and our destination and what is important to us; and then once we make a decision and a commitment, we create a plan around that and then we work towards it. Also, we understand that Rome wasn’t built in a day. We can do so many things so quickly now. We hit a button and something happens. Hit another button, something else happens. In business building, many people think that you can just transfer that over and make a business overnight. That’s why there’s so much hype out in the marketplace where people make these really big promises and they say that they can do all these things, and Sam and I are against that. Maybe speak to that for a minute, Sam. What are your thoughts on that whole long-term thinking versus short-term thinking and what you see and feel in the marketplace right now?

I do enrollment for our clarity and mastery coaching programs and I talk to a lot of very successful consultants each week. One thing I do notice is so many people compliment and that does make me feel good, but we’re being more and more open about this that I’m just so tired of seeing, “No experience needed,” “A million dollars in two weeks,” or “You don’t need a college degree,” or whatever it is. It’s just there’s a lot of hype out there. We haven’t been attached to this hype. Even when we were younger, I don’t think we ever really felt too much for the overnight hype and the overnight success and the magic bullet. We’ve known for a long time that building an exceptional business and exceptional lifestyle, good health, good relations, just a solid life, we know it’s a long-term commitment and we’re willing to invest in mentors, we’re willing to invest in coaching, we’re willing to read books, we’re willing to take time, and we’re willing to make mistakes.

We know this is going to take long-term. Now that Mike clarified what he originally had asked me opening up this principal was yes, I agree. In our earlier years, we did jump around a lot from business to business. We had some good successes, but we would often leave them even before they realized their full potential. With Consulting Success, it’s nine or ten years deep at this point. We’re not planning to abandon it anytime soon. It’s a long-term lifelong vision of creating the platform and training for consultants. That’s a big lofty goal. We know we’re going to do it but we also know it’s going to take a lot of time and we’re going to be spending that time and having fun along the way. That’s what these principles are all about. It’s a long-term commitment to build a good business, a good life, a good body, a good relationship, and a good family. We know this now.

I also have to give some credit where it’s due because one of the influences that sparked this thinking in the early days was my wife when I had a conversation with her. I remember we were in our apartment sitting, overlooking the city. It was evening, we were having some wine, and we were talking about what was going on. She was working at that time. I had a company downtown. We were either running two or three businesses at that time, Sam. I was explaining what we’re thinking about doing, new ideas, and she’s like, “Why do you jump around so much? Why do you need to do all these different things? Can’t you just commit to this and put more energy into it?” That was a bit of a wakeup call. I know we’ve talked a lot since then about this topic and we’ve really benefited from it. I guess it’s just the influence of the hype and the society that we’re in who think that they can achieve their ultimate goal in a really short period of time. I don’t want to say to people, “You can’t see great results in a short period of time in any aspect of your life or your business.” You can in certain cases, for sure.” 

That’s why it’s really important to find someone or something that can help you to get there so you don’t have to do it all yourself; but at the end of the day, when we open ourselves up to a longer-term mindset, we’re more open to realizing our true potential. This is because if you have a short-term mindset, the moment that you hit a snag or run into a wall or encounter a challenge, you’re going to feel like, “This isn’t working. I better change and look for that next successful path or that next tool or technology or service because what I’m doing isn’t working right now.” What really creates the greatest level of results is the long-term mindset, because then when you run into a challenge, yes, you ask questions; yes, you do a bit of analysis to identify what’s working and what isn’t working so that you can make an adjustment; but you know that you’re not going to be jumping ship. You’ve burned the boats. You know where you need to go. Now the long-term mindset allows you to realize your true potential because you’re not going to give up prematurely. You’re not going to allow yourself to quit. Yes, you might still feel a real sense of self-esteem that is lacking or has been knocked down; but with a long-term mindset, that’s all part of it. You just get up and you go back at it the next day. For us, that’s been really important to see things and to view everything that we do, whether it’s our business or relationships or how we handle investments. Sam, anything else to add to that?

Yes, just one final point here before we jump into point eight. When you were speaking right now, it just reminded me of an important story of the early years of this current business. Let’s take this back seven years ago. I remember I was having some tough times personally. I just moved back from working on a business in Japan and really having an insane experience over there, really fun and amazing. I came back to Canada, I was struggling a bit as we were building this business, and I remember at one point, I was really wondering what to do with my life. I didn’t even know if I wanted to continue on this consulting business at that time.

I remember, Mike, and I’m sure you do too, we had that chat on the bench after a workout or a pool session. I know we were exercising at your house and I told Mike what was going on and how I was feeling and didn’t know what to do. He said, “What you do is up to you and you have to think about it. However, I’m committed to this business for the long-term and I know what’s going to work in the future sooner than later. I’m committed. I want to do this with you, but at the end of the day though, you have to be happy.” I said, “I’m going to go off and think about it.” My ultimate decision should be obvious because I’m still here working on the business seven years later and it’s completely different than it was back then. I am glad that I had that chat with Mike. He said, “I’m in it for the long term, you need to be happy, but it’s up to you.” I went off for a week or five days. I thought about it. I talked to some people. I just said, “I’ve come this far, Mike said he’s down.” That gave me some confidence as well, I have to say. He said, “I’m for sure going to do this.” I was thinking in my head if I give up and he for sure does this, I will be upset later, so I’m not giving up either. We’re in it for the long-term. I remember we came back and we never looked back ever since that day six or seven years ago.

8. Memories & Experiences

That takes us beautifully into our guiding principle number eight, which is experiences and memories. What you just mentioned right there, Sam, living life in a way where you have no regrets is one of the best ways that you can actually live life from my experience. We now make decisions in our personal lives. I know because we talk a lot about different decisions and different situations, but also in our business. Everything that we do is based on the experience and the memory that it will create. 

My stepfather passed away from Alzheimer’s just a little bit over a year from now. Before that, he really started suffering and seeing the effects of Alzheimer’s and dementia take over his life. That was probably a little about four years ago or so. That was definitely a big factor for me as well as our family, friends, friends of parents, and so forth, who lost their lives and passed away and just really realizing how fragile life can be and how you never know. You have to enjoy what you’re doing because who knows? This could be the last day. This could be the last month. No one can really foretell and foresee the future. There are people who are extremely healthy and something comes up. There are people who do the craziest things you could imagine in life that you would think that something’s going to happen to them and it never does. No one can really know what’s going to happen.

If you live your life in a way where you’re following what other people tell you or you’re doing it just because of other people and you’re not enjoying the process and the journey, then you’re only going to end up later on with regrets. I don’t know who said this, but it’s something that I’ve heard multiple times, which is that when you find someone on their deathbed with their final breaths and if you ask them about their lives, they will tell you that there’s never a regret around, “I should have worked more,” “I should have made more money,” or “I should have accumulated more assets.” The things that they regret are always, “I should’ve spent more time with my children or with a spouse or with loved ones,” or “I should have not given way to this fear that I had about doing something that I always wanted to do.” For me, that’s a really big guiding principle because I don’t want to have regrets. I want to live life to the fullest in a way that’s balanced and thoughtful and meaningful. I’ve tried to bring as much as I can of that into our business and into our company. Thoughts from you, Sam, on that one or anything else to add? We’ll then move on to guiding principle number nine.

Not really too much. You said it the same way I probably would have. I agree, the lives we’ve been creating and the business we’ve been creating and the kind of people we spend our time with and the decisions we make are really based on daily experiences and memories and having no regrets. I don’t really have too much to add to that one. I think it’s very clear.

9. Enjoyment & Fun

You’re the joker. You like to get good laughs out of the situation and that takes us into the guiding principle number nine, which is enjoyment and fun. I know that when we’re together, we’re always having fun. Why don’t you talk us through why we wanted to include this as a guiding principle? 

As we were brainstorming this and talking about this, I think we’ve already realized that a lot of what we do is based on enjoyment and fun. This business we’ve created is very serious work and we work hard. Don’t get that part wrong or twisted, but it’s very fun. There are parts that aren’t fun about it; but in general, Mike and I are building these businesses. We’re working with our clients, we’re joking around, we’re checking out music. This crosses back over to creativity and I think fun and enjoyment is part of creativity and living life; but really, fun, joking, having fun, and not taking everything too seriously. We’re creating this lifestyle and this business and working with clients for a reason, to improve revenues, to improve systems, to really get ahead, but why take it so serious? This is something that’s coming more and more to light.

This is even one of the reasons we’re doing this podcast, because we want people to know who we are and feel they know us better. We want you to understand that we’re building our high-level consulting and coaching business here and working with very serious people; but at the same time, life is too short not to have fun. Mike and I are always calling each other funny names. He just called me a joker. We send each other little emoticons like, “What are you doing buddy?” We’re always enjoying life when we’re building the business together, when we’re hanging out personally, or just when we’re with friends or with family. Life is too short to not have fun and enjoy what you do. We’re not waiting until Friday to have fun. We’re having fun daily, whether that’s while we’re working or after work or whatever. It’s just enjoy.

CSP 10 Guiding Principles | Consulting Business

Definitely, a big thing is that we go back and forth. We switch a lot between being serious and joking or being lighthearted and having fun. That’s something that a lot of our clients appreciate and that a lot of our clients’ clients appreciate. At the end of the day, we’re all in business to help others and to make an impact. When you land a client, you land a client because that client likes you. There’s a relationship. There are very few situations where somebody will choose to hire you and they don’t like you. That just doesn’t happen very often. If you think about how does someone like you, it’s that they get to know you. It’s that they feel comfortable around you. It’s that they feel that you’re not so serious, that they can have an open conversation, that they can really trust you, and that they can have fun with you. If you can joke around with someone right away, that is probably a fast way to have both parties let down their guard and just feel more comfortable. 

Both Sam and I have spent years in Japan and there’s a term in Japanese called nomunication. Nomu is the verb, to drink, and then cation is just from communication. The idea behind this term is that one way that a lot of Japanese business people feel comfortable with each other and build relationships after a hardcore meeting is that they’ll go in and they’ll have drinks together and they’ll let down their guard. They get silly. I remember being just blown away in my early years in Japan where I would go and I’d see people who I’d spent sometimes weeks or months with always seem so serious in an office, but then I go drinking with them and they would be like falling on the floor almost. They’d have to almost be carried out of there. That would not happen very typically in North America because you’d look at that person the next day and say that person can’t handle their alcohol or something must be wrong with them. There, it’s just a way of relaxing and enjoying the moment. The next day they’d come right back. They’d be all serious at work. I think something behind finding ways to connect with people and whether it’s over a drink or telling a joke or it’s finding something that you both mutually appreciate, that has been really important in our experience and certainly a big factor of how we run our business on the day-to-day.

10. Health

Here we go. We’re now at the final guiding principle that really drives everything that we’ve done and the business that we’ve built and how we live our lives and how we interact with our clients and the programs that we run. Number ten is health. I know for both Sam and I, health has been a really important part of what we do. In our notes here, when we created this Ten Guiding Principles document, we said fit body equals fit mind. I know for myself, I go to the gym Monday to Friday, every single morning, set time, set location. Sometimes I’ll throw in a couple of runs in addition to that outdoors, depending on the weather and so forth. My mind gets clearer every time I’m exercising and I can’t imagine a life without exercise. In fact, when I don’t exercise for a few days, not only my body, but my mind really starts to feel more foggy and I don’t feel as positive or as energized. For me, it’s almost like part of the blood that my body needs.

Sam, talk about your approach and your thoughts on health because I know that you’re active in martial arts. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world and you travel a lot and you work from different places, but you’re always making sure that you stay active. Share some thoughts around what role health plays in your mind and how you think about it. 

About health as body, mind, diet, I guess those three come to my mind first. For me personally, I always have an extra ten pounds on me which I find funny. Of course, I enjoy my food, I enjoy my drinks; but that doesn’t mean that health is not a big priority for me. As Mike said, for the last four years I’ve been doing martial arts training in Muay Thai and boxing. Not at a competitive or sparring level, but really more for self-defense and fitness. I do that definitely four or five times a week. Also, as Mike said, I couldn’t imagine not doing it. Every time I do it, my mind is clear. I sweat, I meet with friends, I’m hanging out, I’m having fun, back to principal nine. I’m just really enjoying and I’m clarifying.

Even amazing business ideas hit me after I finish a gym session or I’m in the shower or whatever it may be. Really for me, at the core of my daily existence I would say, I even try and do a meditation or a breathing exercise every morning for five to ten minutes. It’s a guided meditation on an app that I could recommend called Headspace. There’s a free version. I got into that a few years ago. Really, fit body fit mind. I make a smoothie as much as possible. I’m not saying I don’t eat French fries and I don’t have burgers. I think Mike’s more strict and good around that than me that’s probably why I’m carrying these extra ten pounds. I definitely like enjoying good food and good wines here and there; but I’m also on a daily having smoothies, I’m going to the gym, I’m meditating. Without health, I don’t feel the same. I don’t feel as positive. I feel foggy. Mind and body is a part of life. Health is a pillar in success and a pillar in my life and I couldn’t live without health.

There’s not much more I can add to this tenth guiding principle.

Actually, there is one. I’m just looking at our notes about the quarterly recharges.

We can introduce that a little bit here. One thing that we’ve noticed is that it doesn’t matter where we are in the world, it doesn’t really matter the situation, we’re always working. We’re always on. Sam and I have thought about what can we do as we’re building a team and how can we still serve our clients, make an impact, grow the business, but also make sure that we have real time for ourselves to release from work, from email, and from things of that nature. One thing that we’ve just decided to do fairly recently here, and we’ll keep you posted on how this works but I’m certainly excited about this idea, is the quarterly recharge.

It’s funny because to some of might sound like that’s not really a big deal at all, but for us it’s a big one. That is every quarter, we’re going to just take a week off. A week off means no email, no communications, and no work during that time. We might spend some time writing a book or things of that nature; but it’s really meant to be a time, for example, to travel with family or spend a bit of time on self. It’s about time to let the mind and body recuperate and re-energize so that we can come back to the business, come back to work, come back to our clients, and play at a higher level. 

I know that’s something that a lot of people understand conceptually and it’s probably no big surprise; but I know for myself, I haven’t played that game. I’ve understood it, I’ve understood the rules, but I haven’t been a very good participant because I’ve been so busy working on stuff. It doesn’t mean that I don’t take time off. Both Sam and I travel a lot and spend a lot of time in different locations, but completely removing ourselves from emails or from work during that time has been something that has really lacked. Hence, this idea that we’re now implementing into our business is the quarterly recharge, which is a way to step back, but at the same time, take a bigger step forward.

I’ve often seen in our own business that when it comes to marketing or other areas, when we’re looking to grow, oftentimes it’s not just about pushing more, it’s about actually taking one step back. To put it another way, slowing down a little bit so that we can then go faster, because I find people who just try and go fast all the time often are the ones that make mistakes and have greater regrets later on. Where in our case, what we’ve tried to do is we’ve tried to slow things down at certain points so we can get a lot better clarity around what we need to do to be able to go faster. This is one way to allow ourselves to be able to make greater improvements, see greater growth, bring even more and more energy to our clients and to our work, by making sure that we’re taking time for ourselves and through that, our families and loved ones and so forth. That’s really what quarterly recharges is all about.

I would just add to that. For us, we’re trying it every three months where we take five business days off. I might still have to check emails but really what it’s all about is it’s getting inspired, it’s getting rested, it’s doing the things you love, and things where your mind is being used in different ways. Robin Sharma, a well-respected author and speaker, has spoken about this many times that the top performing people in the world, the top billionaires, the top athletes, the top politicians, they take these recharges. Whether it be once a month, they’ll take a week off or every half year, they’ll take three weeks off and just do something completely unrelated to the business, something that really inspires them and that recharges them. A mentor of ours was recently calling it a renaissance time, where you spend time in renaissance, spend time in areas you love, and then when you come back to your business and come back to what you do daily, you’re all that much more charged. You’re super-charged, you’re ready to hit the ground running, you’re refreshed, you’re creative, you’re all juiced up, you’re jazzed up, your ideas are fresh and you’re ready to explode.

Mike and I want to implement this and we’re looking forward to the next one. It’s still far away but it’s definitely something that we’ve been talking about. We’re excited to implement these quarterly recharge sessions and we’ll be talking more about that with our clients and our community because this is not just for us. We recommend that you try and implement something like this if it resonates with you. It doesn’t have to be quarterly. It could be once a year. It could be once every six months. It’s up to you. It’s just something that takes your mind away from your business and the daily of your business, gets you inspired, recharged, and when you come back, you’re more powerful.

There you have it, everyone. These are our Ten Guiding Principles. I hope that you’ve enjoyed hearing Sam and I share our take on these and really what drives us as individuals, as family people, and as business owners. These are what we use. These are what keep us in check. We really just opened up our books here, we’ve opened up our hearts a little bit, just to share with you what we really think. There is no right or wrong, but this is how we observe and how we make decisions and what gets us to act and what’s most meaningful for us. Hopefully, you found some value in this. As always, we’d love to hear from you. If you have any questions, if you’ve enjoyed this, please do reach out. We always appreciate hearing from you.

I really agree with Mike, I would love to also hear what you felt about this, but also what are your guiding principles. If you have, tell us what yours are. If not, maybe spend some time writing out what your five guiding principles or whatever it is. We’d love to hear what you thought and really love to hear what yours are, because this is really an effort to get to know the community better and better and open up and share what you have of your own guiding principles with us. If you can, that would be beautiful.

That’s why Sam and I worked together. What he just shared with you is gold, so yes, take action on that. I love to hear what yours are. If you don’t yet have them, a great suggestion by Sam is to work on these. It was a lot of fun for us and really helpful to go through this exercise of ours. I’m certainly glad that we did and that Sam and I were able to take some time here to share these with you. With that, we kihope that you are well and make a great one. 

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12 thoughts on “Our 10 Guiding Principles: Inside Our Consulting Business And Life

  1. Alan Chapman says:

    Loved this podcast guys. It’s great to see ‘glass box brands’ (as TrendWatching put it) being so transparent in this way. Here’s a rule I try to follow: get some culture. Read, see a movie, a play, comedy, exhibition, whatever. Few things make me feel more human or alive than art and culture.

    • Alan those are terrific examples and many of them resonate with me as well. Thanks for the comment and glad you enjoyed this podcast. I’m looking forward to doing more of these with Sam going forward.

  2. Great and inspirational information you’re sharing with us, Michael and Sam. As a consultant in the making, I have been following ConsultingSuccess and have gotten inspired to start my practice in the next 6-12 months.

    • Wishing you great success with that Sizwe and keep us posted on your journey.

  3. Indeed. There are many business principles that are enlisted throughout the web but these all listed here are the best principles giving boost to your business. This was really easy task for me as I consulted The Change Consultancy firm which by their best techniques and ways made it very easier for me to work and their team was really helpful in carrying out the whole task.

    • Definitely Helmut, these principles have guided and served our business and our lives personally extremely well. Thanks for tuning in.

  4. Refreshing Podcast Michael and Sam. Thank you. Its not very often you get such a very real, up close, and personal perspective on Life, Business, and Success. I love the real and approachable feel of this podcast. Looking forward to journey ahead!

    Marcus

    • Marcus thanks for joining and letting us know. It doesn’t get more real than this – Sam and I jumped on a call and let the conversation roll to share our beliefs and principles that have served us best.

  5. Really enjoyed the podcast. I have tried to summarize my core business principles into 5 statements – keep learning, stay robust and healthy, maintain a deep friendship with my wife (she’s my best adviser), live a life of hope and abundance, and always give clients my best. I consult in higher education, where long-term relationships define success and serious engagement across the arts and sciences is respected. I love the challenge.

    • Gene, thanks for sharing your 5 statements. Glad that our principles resonated with you as well and that you enjoyed the podcast. I count my wife as well as one of my best advisors 😉

  6. Nic says:

    Gentlemen, Thank You so much for this podcast…I’m now re-evaluating some things to improve me…

    • Nic, you are very welcome and thank you for letting us know! It means a lot.

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