What type of consultant am I?

Apr 24, 2010 @ 14:29

There are many ways of defining oneself as a consultant. The traditional consultant is normally somebody who is an expert in his field with either a long career behind him or very specific specialized knowledge that is not common in a field. He is hired to resolve specific issues by clients or “consulted” when his client need information on some topic that they are an expert.

The term is also used for people who do contract work in a specific field. They usually work one contract at a time and they will build something, or deliver a project for their client. This used to be called a contractor, but these days the definition is getting fuzzier as a lot of  “Consulting” firms are normally placing “Contractors” at their client’s sites and calling them “Consultants”

More and more self-employed workers, or workers moonlighting in their spare times are now calling themselves “Consultants” though they might not be doing much actual consulting or contracting work.

This confuses a lot of people looking to hire external resources as a lot of people are calling themselves “Consultants” and actually offer a wide variety of services only some of which are actual consulting. It is a good thing for people who which to hire external help, consultant or other, to make sure before they start looking that they know what kind of help they are looking for.

Coming back to the main topic of this post. I started in the mid 1980’s as a traditional consultant in the food and wine business. My various clients hired me for my specialized knowledge and consulted me on various topics and I would also do specific contracts for them on a regular basis like travel to various places worldwide to purchase various things for them or just analyze what was available in the market. I started during that period doing consulting work in computer graphics and animation which was a new field in those days and then I started to consult more and more about IT using the knowledge I had as I trained as a mainframe programmer at university ten years earlier.

In the early 1990’s I was doing more and more IT consulting for local clients and prior to the advent of the Internet, in the old days of the original CompuServe network of which I had been a member since around 1986, I started consulting with many clients worldwide from my office at the edge of a lake in Northern Quebec. I also started doing more and more contracting for various large companies in the United States and elsewhere. I spent most of the 1990’s traveling over 6 months of the year to work onsite with many clients worldwide. The rest of the year was spent either consulting or contracting, as I do differentiate, for my clients from my office in Quebec.

In the late 1990’s during the time of the big Internet crash, I started developing my own line of software products for retail business management, point of sales, ticketing systems, kiosk systems, and decision support systems. In 2003 I moved to Mexico City to promote some of my products and to get away from the cold of Quebec as my Mexican wife was feeling somewhat unaccustomed to the long winters and isolated over there.

Today I am back to being a traditional consultant full time, though I still work regularly on my software products and actively promote and find new markets for them. I continue my IT consulting as always and consult with businesses looking for new markets or with startups looking for advice. I also do contract work developing innovative software, integrate software with hardware, and of course I still do consult in the food and wine industry, my first love.

My motto has always been since I was a kid that I need to learn something new every single day as if I do not that day is wasted. Since I have been in the consulting business for so long, and tried hard to not waste any day of it, I have accumulated a lot of knowledge over the years. This is why for many years now that I love to teach and give conferences to pass this knowledge to others. I tend to be very passionate about this, as I have always love to educate people and convince them that they should learn something new every day. My wife Norma always says that I should have been a preacher, but what I am really is a traditional consultant that likes to share is experience and knowledge with others.

Don Luc

Why Consult Ants?

Apr 22, 2010 @ 19:23

As you main have noticed the blog is launching its new look today. I spent the last hour creating a quick and dirty theme for the blogs with a few simple graphics and over the new few weeks I will probably refine the look when I have a bit more time.

Some of you might be wondering why I named the blog “Consult Ants”. Besides the obvious bad pun, the name reflects my view of what the consulting business has evolved over the last decade. When I started as a consultant over 25 years ago, the profession was very different and was guided by some standards, which of course a lot of consultants were not following and giving a bad name to the profession, but it did meant something to the users of our services as the consultants that were doing a good job were respected in the industry and by our clients.

Today it seems that everybody and their cousins is a consultants, and just mentioning the name “Consultant” brings a bad connotation to a lot of people’s minds. It used to be that one would rise to the top of their field and then become a consultant, but now I see teenagers that label themselves consultants and want to sell their services at $5 an hour. That is not good for them, their clients, and for all consultants. I will rant and rave about this at length in the future, but this is what brought the name of this new blog to my mind. It seems that in lots of people’s minds us professional consultants are like a bunch of little interchangeable ants that are just running around in circles doing work and that every ant is doing the same job mindlessly. I want to bring this piece of information to the surface and dispel it, thus the name “Consult Ants” is there to bring it to the attention of most.

Since this blog will not be a structured one and will be more of a stream of mind type of blog, I am not sure exactly where this will lead, but bear with me when I try to find its directions and feel free to participate in the comment section.

Don Luc

Welcome to our new consulting industry blog!

Apr 20, 2010 @ 12:35

I have been blogging for over 5 years now in other venues and I thought that it was time to post my thought about what has been my main business for over 25 years. I started as a food-wine consultant back in the early 80’s. I was also active in the emerging field of computer graphics and animation at the time and also started to be more and more involved in the IT world as I had trained as a programmer at university. By the dawn of the 90’s I was a full time IT consultant/programmer/graphics/animation specialist. Then the industry changed rapidly with the event of the big Internet crash of the late 90’s and I became a software developer and launch my own line of products. Now I am back where I started and I am a Business/IT/Programmer/Hardware/Robotics/Graphics/Animation/Web/Food/Wine specialist.

I have seen many trends come and go, good and bad, and lived through many major industry changes. I do deplore some of the current state of the industry, and applaud some of the new trends. My wife had been telling me for years to write about the the industry as we discuss things a lot and she always tells me that I was born to teach, or preach when I get excited about a subject. Since my motto has always been to learn something new daily, and that a wasted day is one where you learn nothing new, I decided to share some of that hard-earned let’s call it “wisdom” for lack of a better term.

I know that I am considered as a dinosaur in this business where you are considered old when you hit 25, but there are some of us old fogies at over twice that, that are still active and can still provide a full contribution to this or these fields.

Don Luc