In my years in the corporate world, I’ve attended many corporate self-help type sessions on how to or increase leadership, creativity, and innovation. There are many young consultants who are starting their careers off helping us to develop new skills in these areas, so I thought I would provide some helpful tips to get started. Enjoy!
- If you are going to do consulting or presentations on innovation and leadership, it’s very important that you have never led anyone or invented anything. Rather, you simply need to interview people who have done those things. A lot of them. Two or three thousand. Actually, even if it’s only been 10 or 11, just say you’ve interviewed two or three thousand innovators or leaders. This is called “research.”
- It’s especially important, if you are teaching career technology people how to innovate, that you loathe technology and cannot even upgrade your iPhone without help. Remember, they may understand technology, but you understand how to innovate! Two different things.
- You’re going to be making claims that are either wrong, or so obvious they don’t bear repeating. Remember that you need to do several things to make those statements credible:
- Begin by citing unverifiable claims from evolutionary biology as the basis for your statements. Be sure to mention that we used to live out on open plains where we were at risk for being eaten. Also be sure to mention “fight or flight.” Bad: “Strong leaders need to cultivate loyalty.” Good: “evolutionary biology has shown us that, back when we lived on the plain and were vulnerable to getting eaten by lions, our brains developed a need to be loyal to a leader.”
- Next, cite the latest neuroscience to substantiate your claims. In fact, it doesn’t have to be real neuroscience. Remember, nobody will ever check! Just say “the latest research on the brain has shown…” and leave it at that. Bad: “To be innovative we need time to think.” Good: “The latest neuroscience has shown that our brains can’t innovate when they are overwhelmed and don’t have time to reason properly.”
- Remember, if you’re going to be hired by corporations and paid thousands of dollars in speaking fees, you need to state obvious truths in a technical way that makes you seem smart. Invent new terminology so when you regurgitate to people what they already know, you sound authoritative. For example, instead of saying, “criticism hurts people’s feelings and can cause them to leave,” invent a “criticism-despair cycle.” Make a diagram with arrows showing “criticism->rejection->despair->attrition”. See how much more impressive you sound already?
- It really helps if you are a “Doctor”. There are many unaccredited diploma mills that will send you a Ph.D. based on your “life experience.” Or better yet, just start calling yourself “doctor”. Do you really think anyone will call and verify your doctorate?
Remember, the most lucrative careers don’t involve building skills through years of hard work, but telling people who know better than you how to do their jobs. I hope you have a rewarding career as a consultant!