Today we visit Founder of Whittle & Partners , Jeff Whittle
Brings value to clients
I work primarily with leadership teams, CEOs and business owners that are looking for a way to get to the next level. They either don’t have the tools or sometimes it’s the team or sometimes it’s simply the operating system or structure. I’m very lucky that I get to work with business leaders that are eager to do the hard work that they’ve got to do to get a good result. I’ve been very, very fortunate and I enjoy it very much.
Consultants are usually the smartest guy in the room about something, and I’m never that guy. A consultant is someone you pay a bunch of money to know an answer that you don’t know. It’s more like I’m a counselor or, I hate to say, coach, because that term has been abused and bastardized over the years. There are some components of teaching, and so, I guess there is an element of consulting. More often than not, it’s facilitating and cajoling and coaching and helping and holding people accountable.
It’s hopefully going to be an increasing source of new business. We made the commitment last year to formalize a structured arrangement with blogging and other social media outreach and have been working with a person that I really enjoy very much. She is very good and it takes time to translate that effort into a specific piece of business, that you can attribute to that source and no other.
I’m meeting with people now who say, “I like your blog. I would like to talk to you about this or that.” It certainly took time, but it was an investment that we needed to make. I’m beginning to see the flight wheel move a little more quickly and consistently with people who have come specifically from the blog to reach out to us because they like to visit.
How he sticks out from the crowd
We try to give people actionable advice, something that they can use now to make their business better. Many of our blogs originate in larger pieces of content, ebooks and whitepapers. What we try and do with our blog is to, first of all, make sure that the concepts and the issues that we’re talking about really are relevant to the people that we’d like to work with.
And then secondly, we almost always have an opportunity to dig deeper from a content standpoint and then we blog about it if our audience is interested. The two ways I’d like to think we’re different is that number one, we’re truly trying to provide actionable help, something somebody can turn around and use right then and that it’s almost always backed up by a deeper and broader level of content that allows people to go on a deeper dive.
Favorite Cloud Service
My favorite is HubSpot. I use HubSpot as both a cloud service and as a marketing tool. I have been using the CRM component of it and if we’re focused on specifically marketing business-related applications, HubSpot is quite a good one. It’s not inexpensive, but the CRM is part of the package and the elegance of being able to more accurately track the source of inquiries or what people are following and what seems to resonate with people. I think it just helps us make better decisions.
The Microsoft Office suite of products is what I’ve used most of my professional life and I’m very, very comfortable with them. I do have Apple products. I like my iPad. I like my iPhone.
I’m sort of on multiple platforms there, but just in terms of working and communicating, I would say Office is the platform that I like the best and that has been the one that I use more than anything.
Word is ubiquitous and PowerPoint is really a fabulous tool. OneNote is one of those things that I keep hoping I will use more diligently. I’ll get flashes of commitment and then that will land. But in terms of just a suite of products that supports what I need to do, I can’t think of anything better than what Microsoft provides.
My favorite business book is The 4-Hour Workweek. There’s no pretense to it. It’s interesting alternative ways to think about running a business. I just love the idea, for instance, that if you really want to be successful, you have to make sure that every single role in your business has been completely flushed out on a piece of paper. Everything that happens is on this piece of paper and there’s a name in each box as to who is responsible for it and your name is not in any of the boxes.
Also a book called Traction by Gino Wickman. It’s really quite good. In fact, I would put that over The 4-Hour Workweek. The 4-Hour Workweek is more entertaining. Traction is simply a recipe. It has a very simple operating system and it introduces the system called EOS, the Entrepreneurial Operating System. It’s all about helping businesses get through the chaos that occurs after they’ve grown to a point where they need more structure, but they don’t know what to do. They don’t know what systems they need to put in place, that they don’t really understand process. They know they’ve got people issues, but they don’t know how to attack them. It’s just a playbook and I would really recommend that people who are growing businesses read it.
How he keeps a work-life balance
The things that I do primarily is I’m not a wonderful athlete, but I do make sure I’m doing something most of the time. For years, it was running. I still enjoy running, but my run in New York marathon with my daughter- at about mile 20, I realized I wasn’t having any fun. So since then I’ve been studying Tae Kwon Do and I really enjoy that.
I schedule most of my classes in the middle of the day. It forces me, first of all, to not sit down and have a big lunch, but, more importantly, it makes me carve time out most days to do something that has nothing to do with the business. That works for me.
His advice to fellow entrepreneurs
You’re not as smart as you think you are and you are not as stupid as you think you are. It’s very tempting to think that because you’ve started your business, you know a lot about it and you are the person that knows everything there is to know about it. The fact of the matter is, there is this huge quantum of information that you don’t know and you’re going to learn it the hard way. That’s just kind of the way that is.
At the same time, it’s easy to look at starting a business as being so daunting. The fact of the matter is there are plenty of people who figured it out and just about everybody is capable of doing it. So no matter how stupid you think you are and committed that you can’t do something, the fact is you can. Just understand that you’re somewhere between those two poles all the time. You’re not as smart as you think you are and you’re not as stupid as you think you are.