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Scaling A Multi-Million Dollar Consulting Firm With Jennifer Brown: Podcast #122

The journey to scaling your business can be quite complex, but with the right guidance, you will eventually get to the top. Today, Michael Zipursky chats with Jennifer Brown of Jennifer Brown Consulting about running her multi-million-dollar consultancy and working with clients like Adobe, Samsung, and Coca-Cola, to name a few. She shares how she shifted from delivering her expertise to building and scaling her own business. Learn from Jennifer as she explains her best practices in building a team and booking conferences, and gives advice around content and thought leadership.

Listen to the podcast here:

Scaling A Multi-Million Dollar Consulting Firm With Jennifer Brown

I’m excited to have Jennifer Brown joining us. Jennifer, welcome.

Thank you, Michael.

Jennifer, you run a multimillion-dollar consultancy working with clients like Adobe, Coca-Cola, Samsung, Starbucks, Hilton, Google, Novartis, many Fortune 500 brands that people who are reading this would be familiar with it. I want to get into that. I’m interested in hearing your story of how you got into building the business. Before that, take us back to the beginning. If I’m not mistaken, you were an opera singer, is that correct?

I was and how did I get from there to here?

Take us through that. You had vocal injuries or otherwise. Walk us through what that life was like. Except listening to a bit of opera every once in a while when I get into the office. Introduce us to that world.

It’s a crazy world and it’s as difficult to make it in that world as they say. I had to figure that out on my own though. Through the course of training, I injured my voice. I had to get a couple of surgeries and had to ultimately reinvent. What I like to say is, I was pulled along by ex-performers who loved being on stages but had translated into the leadership development world. I didn’t know that was a thing at the time, but I followed their lead. I ended up getting a second master’s degree after my vocal performance degree in organizational change at Fordham University here in New York. I found my passion and my calling. I loved the work. It was so humanistic. I loved facilitating a lot because as a performer, that’s a comfortable place for us. I also learned about the ins and outs of organizational change, effectiveness, leadership, team development and group dynamics.

It was so eye-opening. I ended up getting HR roles in a series of corporate environments. I thought maybe I’d be the head of learning and development, but I got laid off at one point. I said, “I want to be external. I want to be a consultant.” I read Peter Block’s book Flawless Consulting, which I’m sure your audience knows about. It dawned on me that I could get my expertise utilized in this way, be super creative with it and get paid to do it. That ignited everything. I started my own company. I hung out my shingle, got my first couple of clients, started to build my team and found this niche in this corporate consulting world with leadership development.

When you made the transition from the opera world, you went out and got another degree, was that where you start to develop your skillset around organizational development? Was it when you were in the workforce and doing the facilitation that you developed it as part of that?

You learn the theory in the classroom. Our program was taught by working consultants. They literally brought in their contracts with clients. We would use that as a teaching tool so we could see how do you use the concepts that Peter Block talks about. How do you construct the relationship? How do you put the boundaries? What is the statement of work? How do you price your services? That was a huge a-ha moment. The application of it was when I then subsequently would become a trainer and I delivered one year of over 200 programs in soft skills.

That was the meat on the bones of how this is talked about in the classroom. How do you facilitate adults through the process of talking about how to lead or manage teams or manage time? I taught twenty different topics. Becoming a consultant was yet another leap from being a trainer. Trainers deliver programs, but facilitators are curious about the dynamics in a group.

Were you working internally? We’re you an employee at that time when you were delivering the 200 sessions a year?

Trainers deliver programs, but facilitators are curious about the dynamics in a group. Click To Tweet

I was a trainer for hire. I worked for a small training company that designed all the programs for me and then I would go forward and deliver them.

That’s interesting because a lot of people find themselves in similar situations. Essentially, it’s almost you’re a contractor to a degree. You’re not having to do any of the business development. You’re getting the clients, you show up, you deliver and you get paid for it. A lot of people feel and they call themselves consultants. They might be doing consulting work, but they’re working more like a contractor. They don’t have a business. They have their expertise that they’re delivering. You made that shift from delivering your expertise to deciding to build a business. Talk to us a little bit about what was going on in your mind. Why did you decide? What made you think, “I don’t want to rely on just one source of business?” What was it that made you do and go ahead and build your own business?

If you’d asked me before I built JBC if I wanted ever to be the boss who’s responsible for everything, I would have said, “No way.” I want to go in and deliver and have somebody else administer, sell and invoice for the work and I was just the talent. I loved being the talent for a long time and that was where I cut my teeth. It was ten MBAs in the space of a couple of years. Once you’re in these corporate classrooms enough times, you become knowledgeable. You know exactly what people are going to say. What happened was I’ve got this giant client of my own and I stopped subcontracting and I LLC. I thought to myself, “I’ve got more work and service than I can handle.” I didn’t want to say no to the work.

How did you get that first client?

It was a family connection. Believe it or not, it was a next-door neighbor of my sister who worked for Cisco Systems. What a first client to have. They said, “I have a team in supply chain. We’re all over the world. We do off sites all over the world, four times a year. Would you come and be our team development and coach person?” I said, “Yes.” He’s like, “Can you get on a plane in two weeks? You could teach them anything you want. Here are my goals.” Here’s where I need them to develop.” He gave me the rundown on each leader. He talked about the team. I could take this group, teach whatever I wanted and structure the program. I had them for two days in the classroom. It was training but I was designing it, delivering it, managing the relationship and I was doing all that stuff. I was a team of one so everything was my responsibility. You know that’s not scalable. You could have ten of those and you’re literally out of bandwidth and running all over. It’s not productive.

CSP 122 | Scaling A Consulting Firm

How do you price that project? It was your first piece of business that you were running yourself. There was no middle person there. How did you decide what the fee should be for that first project?

I knew what I had been paid is as a subcontractor. I knew how much I was being marked up in the previous scenarios. I took what I had been paid and tripled it, did that markup and then I counted the number of days I’d be in the classroom plus days for prep. Traveling to Asia and Europe, you do charge for travel. What I did is roll an amount together that I felt would cover all that and then put that price in front of them. At the time, they had these incredibly deep pockets. I was so lucky. They didn’t blink. I was often running and that was the a-ha moment for me to say, “Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to run the company and not be the one in the classroom.” That was subsequently what I would then build it.

You’ve got the first client, that’s going well. It gives you some insight into what things potentially could be for you. You built a team that’s grown considerably since then but talk to us about how did you go from having that first client, which is a well-known brand name, to going out and getting your 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th clients. What did you do to start ramping things up?

I knew that having a client that was responsible for 80% of your revenue is never good. I’ve been paying attention, so what I did is I leveraged my relationship with them to write some white papers and some thought leadership. Some of which are still out there that you can find. We did a paper on employee resource groups in the diversity space. I also presented a lot with my clients at industry conferences. For new consultants, if you’re trying to build your legitimacy and credibility in these big companies that you have contracts with that love you, you should tell that story because that’s the most powerful marketing you could ever do.

When you say tell a story and make that a little more tangible for them. What do you mean? What should they be thinking about when you say tell the story?

If you have a client that loves your partnership and what’s coming out of it, you should use that as a marketing vehicle to present panel ideas to conferences where you talk about it. It’s a case study of what you’ve accomplished together. You’re in this teaching mode of, “Not only did we do this work and we had these great results, but we’re now going to use it as a case study to teach to the industry.” You’re giving back but you’re doing it together with the client. Which is cool because other clients in the audience see you and say, “We want to work with Jennifer.” Clearly, we want what they have. It just went this way and I also moderate tons of panels. I would always do that for free. I’d always offered to conferences like, “Sign me up.”

If you are going to grow your company bigger, it means you're going to have to take yourself out of the day-to-day. Click To Tweet

I remember I had Toyota and Genentech on one of my panels once on generational diversity. Neither person I knew and both of them ended up becoming clients from one panel and continuing to be clients and friends all these years later. It all started in a conference setting. I’m such a fan of conferences. They’re the best marketing you can ever do. To me, it’s the easiest lift. Being seen in front of audiences with current and potential clients and having a strategic conversation, it plants the seed in people’s minds. They say, “Who was that person that helped that company? Maybe we should give them a call.” One thing led to another. On my follow up, I follow up all the time from conferences. I literally get business cards and ask people if they’d like to stay in touch. We’ve built our mailing list that way as well.

Tell us more about the conference side. It sounds like this is probably your go-to marketing strategy or what you employ to generate leads and inquiries. What does that look like? If you can break it down to steps, how do you approach? Anyone can attend a conference, but there’s a lot of people who go to conferences and don’t walk away with leads. What are you doing specifically that’s working so well for you to say the conferences are the go-to?

I believe in contributing back to the industry. That means thought leadership, going the extra mile and not getting paid to tell the story because you’re giving back. I prepare well. I never go to conferences where I’m not presenting.

That’s the key, where you can be visible. You’re not walking the halls, taking notes and grabbing a coffee. You’re there, center stage or at least, in front of a lot of people. How do you think about which conferences to go to? Are there certain characteristics or criteria that you use to decide whether or not you’re going to try and be on a panel or speak at a conference?

There’s a big difference between entrepreneur conferences that I enjoy, but they’re not helpful for my business. It’s all about the audience. It’s putting yourself to swim in the same pool as the people that you want to hire you. I use that criteria and I also noticed where are my competitors speaking? Where do my clients gather? Where do they go so that I can make sure that I can apply? Six months earlier, when they do the call for speakers, you have to be organized. My team maintains a spreadsheet and we get those applications in. We also pitch a lot of creative ideas. It’ll be my keynote and there’ll be a panel on this emerging issue or a panel with other leaders on this emerging issue. Sometimes we’ll pitch 3 or 4 ideas with different combinations of clients and people in my network. The organizers will give the green light to usually 1 or 2.

What if someone’s reading this and going, “Jennifer, this works for you because you’ve done it for a while. You’ve written a book and you have these big-name clients.” Take us back in time if someone maybe doesn’t have a well-known brand as a client, but they’re doing well in their business or they might be even getting started. What would you suggest as a way that they could start getting into conferences, being on panels or speaking at them?

CSP 122 | Scaling A Consulting Firm

You always know 1 or 2 friends that share maybe a passion around something that’s not being covered in an industry. What would make your message unique? It can be a case study, academic research or a workshop that you build. I’ve built a ton of stuff for conferences and run it for the first time. Conference attendees are always willing to learn and they want to play, be interactive and network with each other. I find it to be an energizing audience to pilot things with. I also would say cozy up to the organizers.

Always know the head curator of conferences if you can. You earn that by going to the conference and finding that person, introducing yourself and putting yourself in front of them and applying perhaps the next year so that they have a name with a face. Unique value proposition, make it interactive and solve the curator’s problem. Every conference organizer is always trying to make sure that they are covering the industry. If you bring up something that you’ve done your homework on to say, “I don’t see a lot of speakers on this or on this, let’s do something. Let’s put something together.” That can get you in the door.

You landed your first client then went off and got the next few clients. At what point did the business model change for you? At what point did you decide, “We’re delivering these trainings, but I want to go beyond that.” When did it change to a different format? How did you start scaling the business?

I tried for many years.

What did you try? Tell us about that.

The Cisco clients said to me one day, “You don’t have to be the one that comes and delivers. You can send somebody else in.” I was like, “What?” That was the seed. I was like, “Okay.” Now, I’m going to start working on the business, not in the business, as I often say. I’m stealing that from The E Myth. I can then focus on marketing, sales, building relationships, thought leadership and our brand. I started to send people in. I started to hire operation staff. I always had a CFO, COO, marketing assistant and social media people.

Conference attendees are an energizing audience to pilot things with because they are willing to learn and be interactive with each other. Click To Tweet

What stage was that? Where were you in terms of the number of people and revenue when you started to bring on those more strategic roles?

If your revenue is $500,000, you have the wherewithal unless you need to pay yourself. That can be your choice. For me, I paid myself and I always underpaid myself which is probably not good, but I did. I took every cent I had and put it towards teams. I put it towards people who would build the processes and systems behind us, get people paid and do contracts. The things that I wasn’t good at, I knew I needed to make sure I had people doing it. I started with part-time people. It wasn’t always full time, it was not employees, it was 1099.

I built and I started to have 2, 3, 4 people in those early days. When you cross $1 million, you can start to have a bigger team. You can start to have maybe 7 or 8 people or maybe even more, depending on if people are part-time and full time. The team switched over the years. I have client-facing consultants who are always 1099 because they’ve got other projects. I still have that now. They’re professors and deans of colleges. They’re splitting their time and they love that and I love that. I want them to be in the world and having that variety so that when they do work for our clients, they’re fresh and current.

I have a whole infrastructure team of senior people and junior people. The senior people are critical because they’re the ones that manage the consulting business, so I can go write a book and keynote. I have a whole separate team that assists me with my speaker business. Even though it all rolls up to the same. We bifurcate it between my brand as an author and a speaker and the work that the consulting company can do. They feed each other now. We have a team of 25 people or so. It’s working well. What I love about it as a speaker and an author, you can plant a lot of seeds. I love that we have a fulfillment mechanism where we can follow through and do the work that I’m talking about on the front end. To me, that feels like impact. It’s not just a shiny object. We’ll roll up our sleeves and help you build this and make it happen.

There are a lot of consultants who are in a similar place. Their revenues are growing. They’re feeling they’re starting to hit capacity, but there’s fear in terms of going out and bringing on new people. It’s like, “Do I have the ability? Is this going to be sustainable?” There are lots of challenges that people have around building a team. What have been some of the best practices? If you were to give some advice to someone who is doing well but they’re getting to that place of capacity. They want to hire someone or several people, but they don’t know how to go about it or they’re facing some fears. What advice might you offer someone in that position?

A lot of founderitis might be that you always have to be doing the work yourself and that you’re a control freak. That is not me but it’s a ton of founders. I was lucky that I was tired of the work a bit. I did want to work on the business and grow it. Other people were happy to come under my banner and do the work because they didn’t want to sell the work. It was this nice synergy and you have to be honest with yourself. If you are going to grow your company bigger, it means you’re going to have to take yourself out of the day-to-day. Some people would cry if you took the work away from them. That’s why they exist.

CSP 122 | Scaling A Consulting Firm

Did you ever feel that the revenue wasn’t there to support hiring? Was there ever a place where it’s like, “Do we hire this person or do we wait until we get a little bit higher?” Did that conversation ever go on for you?

We went through the recession in 2008. I had to tuck my wings in, lay off most of the team and had to dial for dollars and deliver the work myself because I couldn’t afford anybody else. I had to go back into the classroom, which was hard and heartbreaking because you don’t expect that to happen. You’ve got to maintain a variable structure so that you can tuck in and God forbid if we have another recession. Hopefully, it doesn’t get back to that point, but every time you go through these troughs, hills and valleys, I hope that you maintain your basic infrastructure.

You should always be planning, “How could I make this company half the size it is tomorrow if I had to.” You always have to be ready for that. My topic and field are discretionary, it’s such a nice thing to have. A lot of businesses are like, “We can do away with that” or “We can stop doing this for a while.” We’re subject to budgets, economy and how comfortable people are with their jobs. It’s scary but that’s why you keep a 1099 portion of your team. That’s why you should always have a plan B to say, “If I do need to get more hands-on and I do need to do things myself, what would that look like?

That message would resonate with a lot of people in terms of discretionary. You’re playing in the fields of inclusive leaders and adversity. Others might be in different fields, but also maybe their work is not sales growth or cost reduction. It’s not as hard. What have you found is critical from a marketing or a messaging perspective that this has been most successful for you in terms of being able to win business even though you’re dealing with something that is discretionary? It doesn’t need to be maybe the key to the growth of the business or at least not top of mind for a lot of leaders.

It’s so hard. Our field is small and I know most of my competitors. Maybe our differentiator is expertise and the reputation that I have worked hard. Not every founder and company has books. That’s another way to distinguish yourself. White papers being quoted in major media or in research papers and having an amazing team that has a great reputation, which we do and we’ve worked hard to have. That precedes us. I’m always speaking and people are like, “I saw her here and I saw her there. I heard her interview her and having a podcast.” I have one and I’m on them all the time. We’ve invested in getting the word out in multiple channels.

It sounds like thought leadership is big for you.

Thought leadership is critical for service-based businesses because all we are is what's in our heads and how we solve problems. Click To Tweet

It’s big. When you’re selling people and knowledge and not widgets, you’ve got to create a reputation that’s strong. You’ve got to give into the field. You have to be a trailblazer so people look to us to say, “What’s next?” We’re writing about what’s next all the time. We’re trying to document that. I’m weighing in and thought leadership is critical for service-based businesses that have people at its core. All we are is what’s in our heads and how we solve problems. That’s our value proposition. The other thing is how many companies you work with.

Leveraging your broad industry know-how and what you’ve seen. A lot of our currency is knowing how this is going to turn out, “For your company, I thought that over here and maybe you could try it here with some tweaks.” That is not book learning and it’s not learning from a certificate program. It’s having seen things work out or not in the trenches and understanding if we take this and put it over here. Businesses are always leveraging best practices. That’s the whole thing. If you have a bird’s eye view on that, it builds your credibility because at the end of the day, they’re all competitive with each other.

What you’re talking about right now, it sounds like you almost went from success to success in terms of thought leadership. There’s a lot of people that might be in a position where they’ve gotten business coming in. They’ve never had to go hunt for new opportunities. There have been referrals to their network. They wake up one day and go, “I need to generate more business. My pipeline is drying up.” They look at content and thought leadership, but they go, “I keep hearing this stuff takes time. I don’t know if I should be doing this?” What was your experience? Did you have any quick successes with thought leadership and content? Was it speaking? Is there any advice you’d offer people around the content and thought leadership?

I always say you could do a blog on Medium. It doesn’t need to be in Forbes or whatever. You can always be writing about your experience and you can always tell even one successful story or successful implementation if you can get the client to agree to tell it publicly and run through all legal and whatever you need to do. You can still get it out there. You can self-publish a book early in the process. Books legitimize your message. I always say I’m the same consultant I always was, but the book changed everything.

The book put us on the map. It’s something people can hold in their hands. It can reach way more people than my talks or our workshops can. When you think about your social media outreach on LinkedIn, for example, tagging people in your industry to draw their attention to certain things that you write or an interview that you did. You’ve got to be working all these channels because you don’t want it to dry up. What you’ve got to do is be investing even in flush times. Never assume that you can stop feeding that front end of the pipeline and generating more interest. I wouldn’t say leads because leads are hard to get. You generate attention, interest, add value and be this consistent voice. When somebody has an opportunity, they’ll say, “I have read everything that Jennifer writes. Why don’t we hire her? What about their team?” It’s that study drip.

I say this a lot to our coaching clients, “It’s easy, especially when things are going well, to become complacent.” You go, “I need to deliver. I’m so busy, I don’t need to market as much anymore. I’ve gone beyond that.” What ends up happening is the pipeline does start to run dry. The seeds that you plant today often don’t show results for 3 to 6 months down the road. You’ve got to always be planting the seeds consistently so you can keep benefiting from them going forward. Between 2017 and 2018, your company grew by 70%. You can correct me if that’s wrong, but I’m wondering if that is correct. What had been the biggest impact on your growth during that time?

CSP 122 | Scaling A Consulting Firm

I’ve got a fabulous couple of new team members. A dedicated sales team is huge. To be able to afford that is amazing. I feel relieved because that was part of my job for many years back and forth. Having a team where all they do is do proposals and RFPs. It’s a hard job for sure and it was a job that I did for a long time. I was happy to have a team that could do it. I’d say that and then the response to the 2016 election and a lot of things that happened subsequently has galvanized corporate America to pay attention to this topic that we focus on.

Whereas before, it was struggling to say how relevant and present it is and what a problem it is for business. Now also with Millennials coming in huge numbers in organizations, there’s a tidal wave of expectation that companies do this well and they know that they don’t do it well. Who are they going to call? I think that, plus me having the first book and a second book, which came out in August of 2019. That also gave us a huge lift. We got in front of everybody, the podcast started a few years ago. I have 7,000 downloads every month, which may not seem a lot for some people, but I’m thrilled with that. It’s ramping up of the sales and marketing side that I was lucky enough to be able to do. I’ve dug deep. It’s not that this was excess cash that I’d had lying around that I paid for this with.

Talk to me about the sales side, especially. A lot of people, when they get to a level where they’ve been generating all the sales themselves, but they want to get more done. They want to reach further. Hiring a salesperson for a lot of people is certainly a challenge. There are a lot of unknown around compensation. When did you know that it was the right time to hire a salesperson or a sales team?

There are creative ways you can structure a sales person’s comp so the risk isn’t so major. First of all, if you can find practitioners that are also comfortable with selling, you’ve got a nice hybrid model. They can sell the work, get a commission and then do the work as well. That never worked for me because in my experience, consultants and trainers don’t love to sell and they don’t want that. They’d rather have somebody do it for them. That was a perfect marriage when I found out that recipe, it worked. With dedicated salespeople, industry background, contacts in the industry ideally, culture fit, it’s hard. I failed over and over again with salespeople.

How many times do you have to hire someone?

I paid this one guy. He was a Chief Diversity Officer of a large company that I thought would be perfect at this because he had the Rolodex and whatever. I paid him tens of thousands of dollars for two months and I realized it was not working. He couldn’t write an email. He was too used to having an assistant to do everything. You’ve got to find people that are scrappy, that don’t have an ego about stuff, that are willing to step in and do everything. They need to be workaholics in my book because I am. They also need to respect the brand. The other thing I’ve encountered is sometimes talented salespeople would be building their own stuff on the side and working across purposes with you. I’ve had people steal clients from me. It’s going to happen. Some of that’s going to happen. When you trust people to lead your business, there’s no way you can protect yourself 100%. You can have all the contracts.

A team of one is not scalable because it is not productive. Click To Tweet

Did you have a non-compete or anything like that?

I do but are you going to go to court about this stuff to fight for that client realistically? You get $10,000 into legal bills and it becomes so painful. It’s like, “Just take the client.” It was heartbreaking because you trust people, you bring them into the fold and they do that. It sucks, but I hope those days are behind me. I hope we have the controls in my business now where that’s not going to happen. I have a vigilant CFO and strategic advisor. Everything goes through the senior teams so there’s no funny business. If somebody is pitching their own business at the same time as they’re working on our business, I’m going to know about it because we have those checks and balances.

When I was first building the company, I couldn’t be everywhere at once. I didn’t have people looking out for that side of the business and making sure that everybody was behaving appropriately. It’s difficult. Particularly, I’m sending people on planes to go into classrooms and deliver our stuff. I have had held the vision, but it has felt risky what I’ve had to do in order to build my company to the point it is now. It’s risky financially. I’ve made huge investments. Some have backfired and people’s stolen clients. Now, we are in this great space where everything is finally working after many years.

Knowing what you know now, if you could go back in time, would you hire a salesperson earlier? Do you believe that it was critical that you were doing the sales, marketing and that you were leading that up to get it to a certain point first? That understanding is what ultimately led you to be able to get the right people in place.

I did a ton of the work for years. I didn’t like it and it was a necessary evil in order to reach the bigger vision, which was to have a bigger footprint and have a bigger impact, which is what gets me up in the morning. Unfortunately, or fortunately, it has to be you doing everything. For me, the easiest thing to start to job out where the delivery piece because that I feel like I could manage. What I was a deficit for is not knowing what a good salesperson looked like or not knowing what a good COO should be doing or not knowing whether I have a good CFO or not. As I started to build, I had lots of fits and starts with the wrong people. Also knowing when do you need to cut somebody loose because it’s not working. When you’re a new leader and you haven’t been down this road before, how do you know when somebody’s not the right fit? You want them to work so badly.

What have you found? How have you gone those answers? Is it trial and error? Have you been reading books? Are you working with coaches and mentors? Are you tapping with your network connections? How have you been able to get answers to those questions?

It’s all those things you said. It’s trial and error and it’s trusting your gut. If your gut is telling you that something’s not right, but you want to believe that it’s right, you need to listen to your gut. You need a board of advisors that only has your best interests at heart. I don’t know who those people would’ve been. If you have the opportunity, get people that have your back, that have been down the road before. They believe in you and your vision and who you can run new hires and run comp strategies by.

Think of it as the people who are going to keep you safe so that you don’t make those costly mistakes. Make sure that it’s not only your eyes that are seeing everything. You’ve also got several points of review and listen to those people. That would’ve probably helped me a lot. With each person that was a failure ultimately, I still learned a ton about what I wanted versus what I didn’t want. Over the years, you get closer and closer to the ideal people. I’m not sure there’s a shortcut for that.

There usually isn’t. Short cuts don’t exist even if you want them. You talked about brand briefly, but your company is called Jennifer Brown Consulting. Some people advise against using your name in case you want to sell it or exit the company. What are your thoughts on that?

We’ve talked about that for many years and gotten a lot of conflicting advice. Accenture at one point was mentoring us as a company and said, “The Jennifer Brown name is where all the equity lives in the marketplace.” We’re like, “Well let’s keep the full name.” We were referred to as JBC though in our casual conversations in our work with clients. At some point, we may consider that name change to differentiate it and take the person out. Many people ask me, “Don’t people expect you to walk in the room when it’s your company because your name is on the door?”

We’ve transcended that. Several years ago, nobody expects me to walk through the door. The team is so great at saying, “Here’s what Jennifer does over here. Here’s what she costs. She’s mostly keynoting. If you have the session that’s appropriate for her, let’s talk about that.” We have this amazing team and they’re experts at what they do. You can get over it fast. We have two different websites. We have Jennifer Brown Speaks and Jennifer Brown Consulting. Jennifer Brown Speaks, we created when the book launched so that people have a separate place to go and my brand could be connected but distinct. Future-wise, I’m not sure if we’ll conjoin them again or keep them separate. It enables me to have a bit of a difference in a broader voice than just talking about the consulting we’re doing all the time.

You have to play with if you have multiple businesses and you’re across them doing that brand analysis. At some point, we’ll probably shift the name. I want the company to be able to stand on its own, I want it to have its own identity to a degree. I want the consultants to be front and center and the stars of the show. I am in service of them. I feel like all the work I do is to enable them to have as much work as they want so that they can go and do their goodness in the world and I’m behind that. I have a different mentality as a founder that I don’t always have to be the top subject matter expert. I’ve never been the only and the best. My team knows so much more than I do and differently. They would solve problems differently than I would if I were the one in the classroom dealing with the client. I love that and that high trust is something that probably a lot of founders are uncomfortable with.

I’m also not a rubber stamp boss to say, “I want you to solve problems in the way you would solve them, not in the way I would solve them.” In my work, it’s Peter Block. There’s no one answer. There are a lot of different ways you could go. I love that dynamic. I feel like I work for the team members. I’m out here trying to generate as much business as I can, so we can make more of an impact. We can have as many arms and legs as we possibly can, so that we can influence the whole conversation which is the goal.

You answered my second question, which is where should people go to learn more about you and your work? Is one of those websites better than the other? Where should we direct people? Is there one that people should remember?

Your audience is a lot of consultants who are building their own businesses. They may be less interested in Jennifer Brown Consulting because it’s more of the B2B and mostly corporate website.

Jennifer, thank you so much for coming on.

Thank you so much. I’ve enjoyed this a lot. Thanks for asking all these great questions.

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