No. 25 Consecration – An Ode to Truth

For a gift to be properly accepted it must first be properly given.

The Japanese understand this instinctively. Even the most minor offering must be beautifully wrapped and presented. There is a formal perfection that accompanies, and even supersedes, the mere content of the gift itself.

This is how it must be with a gift of love. The form, the moment, the ritual of the presentation itself must be planned, thought through and designed in detail to achieve the maximum effect, the deepest truth.

It should not be fake or, false in any way. The rite of giving must be real, the ceremony must be genuine. Ultimately what one is seeking is a natural sacrament. I know all this theoretically.

One must avoid some predictable, customary, habitual or routine formal procedure devoid of meaning.

There is natural flow to the dedication of a gift wherein the outer expresses the inner. There is a harmony of form and content, essence and appearance, where language and movement merge into one single stream of being and consciousness and love is expressed completely.

It is like a Hindu dance, performed to perfection where all the movements are known and understood, steeped in tradition and a common symbolic language, yet the specific performance is always fresh and new and exquisite.

These things I know full well, but they are beyond me. I cannot pull it off. Or rather, to be strictly accurate, I very much doubt I can pull it off. I am not the creative sort. I am analytical, and reductionist and logical, lacking in flair.

She is the opposite of course. She is wild and Celtic and auburn haired. She is the embodiment of the music of Pan, played to the syncopation of a cloven hoof, in a hidden dell, deep in the Wicklow Hills, one star-bright summer’s night.

I am not for her. I know that now. I am not of her ilk. She is out of my league. I do not understand why or how we became lovers. I have no idea what she sees in me. These things, you will appreciate, are an impediment to a really good gift-giving. I am shipwrecked upon the shores of emotion. There is no logical way out.

And yet, I may have found a way for all that. A reasonable, common-sense, rational solution to an irrational problem. If, as the man said, the heart has reasons reason knows not of, then surely reason must be afforded the same privilege – whatever that may be.

The truth is the key, finding a truth that unlocks both doors, to the heart and to the rational mind – that is the solution. And in truth, I know the truth already, all too well.

She is an idealist of course, full of causes, opposing everything and anything that deviates one scintilla from the one true path. I am a realist I suppose, I see many paths. I am not a joiner by nature, I am an observer, not a man of action, a yogi rather than a commissar.

Yet even the most died-in-the-wool theoretician, can, at need, take up the sword. Even if I am not worthy of her, who is to say that I cannot become so. Even if not by my own lights, then at least by hers? Who is to say that I cannot become a better person for her? At least by her criteria, if not by my own.

I will take up a cause, something muscular, something that invites an inference of machismo, even if it does not necessarily impart it in fact. I will invest in khaki clothing and stout boots. I will buy one of those large-faced watches with lots of dials, waterproof to fifty fathoms, or whatever the apposite measure might be. I will strike poses.

Or maybe not. Perhaps I shall take up the pen in preference to the sword and write swingeing polemics. I shall vanquish her opponents with crushing argument. I will deny them even the very possibility of rebuttal. I shall overcome with cogent argument and fact-based analyses. I shall marshal the proof, the facts shall be my friends and I shall master the science. There’s always some science or other to master nowadays.

Environmental issues are always great when it comes to the science. There are always alternative interpretations of facts, the failure of computer models to predict, or indeed in any way to match objective observations taken in the field, and the wonderfully besmirching effect of funding on professional integrity.

On the down side, environmental issues can be a bit lacking in the human element. They are by nature somewhat objective, left wanting when it comes to true human interest and the inevitable, insoluble human condition.  They are more about crisis than cruelty, cockup rather than conspiracy.

Perhaps something more visceral, accompanied by sound bites and TV news packages. The masses, starving or in flight, famine and war are good, refugees, tent cities and the harried looking representatives of non-governmental relief agencies.

Whatever, I’ll think of something. She’s bound to jump on some new cause soon.

I will write a letter to the editor, or a blistering article, something that will get quoted a lot, responded to angrily by politicians, or positively by those self-same harried NGO workers, and syndicated across the news rooms of the world.

I’ll need to find a new angle of course. Something original and creative. Some line of reasoning that will appeal to her simple take on things. Nothing too convoluted, and certainly nothing too dependent upon a single, or potentially easily refuted argument. Something that hinges on human frailty, pride and the denial of truth.

I will dedicate the work to her inspiration and vision. I shall position her as my muse. Never underestimate the aphrodisiac power of a well-constructed compliment.  Our love making will be consecrated by the justice of our cause, blessed by the virtue of our actions and hallowed and made holy by the goodness and love that will inevitably flow from it.

This will be my dedication and devotion to love.

The down-trodden shall be lifted up and the meek shall inherit the earth. Yup.

No. 6 The Four Point Method – The downs and ups of starting your own consulting company

The Four Point Method – The downs and ups of starting your own consulting firm

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that any organisation in possession of substantial cash reserves must be in want of a consultant.

However little known the requirements or challenges of Sydney’s leading corporations on first acquaintance, this truth was so well fixed in my mind, that I considered their consulting business to be my rightful province.

This was certainly my assumption a mere twelve months ago when, upon leaving Microsoft after thirteen years, I set up my own Consulting Pty Ltd, a Sydney based consulting firm of the very first water.

I would focus on Cloud Transformation, Corporate Governance, Adoption Change Management, Program Management and Business Analysis. My deep and extensive knowledge and expertise in these areas were, I felt certain, both widely known and fulsomely acknowledged.

I would place a well-formed shingle adjacent to my home-office and wait for the telephone to ring. Or the emails to ping. Or the text messages to arrive. Or at the very least for offers to be pasted on my Facebook wall.

Despite endless endorsements on LinkedIn, frequently from people I don’t know, often for skills I don’t possess, the offers did not flood in. Neither did they flow, nor even trickle.

There was instead a kind of silence – not, sadly, the silence that comes before the storm, not the silence after a deep intake of breath portending imminent action, nor even the silence that punctuates the moment prior to performance of a great work. No. It was the forlorn silence of a deserted office block, in a down-at-heel neighbourhood on a bank holiday weekend.

Surely some mistake? I called my various friends and acquaintances, drew down on my network, and, in all earnestness, sought first to understand.

At last an ex-colleague put to me the crucial question. What, he asked, are you doing about getting work?

Doing? DOING? I was incredulous. I told him about my Facebook page and my LinkedIn profile and my very impressive shingle.

Yes, he said, but what was I actually doing?

‘More than that?’

‘Yes, definitely, more than that.’


And then he gave me the following advice which transformed my fortunes within a few weeks, and which I would like to share with you:

(The Four Point Method)

  1. Edit your resumé to cover the specific requirements of each role or contract you apply for. Like you, I thought this sounded like an awful lot of bother and was by no means convinced.
  2. With each application, send a new cover letter addressing the specifics of the role and highlighting your suitability for it. I agree with you – what’s the point of the resumé if you have to say it all again in a cover letter?
  3. If a number (better still the name) of someone to speak to about the role is provided, call it, and call it before you edit your resumé or write your cover letter. No one relishes the opportunity to talk to a recruiter more than I, but actively seeking one out? Really?
  4. Keep constant watch on the job and contract advertising sites and apply for anything interesting the same day it appears. Like I have time to waste browsing job sites!

I thanked my colleague politely and was preparing to hang up, when he asked me if I’d like to know why these four points were important? I couldn’t very well say ‘No’…

  1. Recruitment companies receive so many applications that they have implemented filtering software to reduce the burden of selection. The software parses your resumé looking for the key terms and phrases used in the advertisement. If you use a generic resumé you are unlikely to have covered all these points and you will be filtered out by a machine before any human being has an opportunity to take a look at you.
  2. Recruiters expect a good quality cover letter that explicitly calls out why you are the best person for the job. This saves them time, and time is money.
  3. By calling the recruiter you can make a human connection and become a person rather than a resumé. You can also gain important additional information that the recruiter is happy to provide privately but does not wish to include in the advertisement. By sending in your resumé and cover letter soon after speaking with them, the recruiter can make the connection with you and will probably take the time to read your brilliant writing.
  4. Recruiters work in a highly competitive environment. They need to put their best candidate in front of the client as soon as possible. Same day turn around gives the recruiter, and therefore you, a distinct advantage.

If you follow steps 1 to 4 you make it so much easier to represent you and prioritise your application.

I had to admit, he had a point.

Having previously applied for dozens if not hundreds of contracts, within a couple of weeks of adopting the Four Point Method I had my first few contracts.

Winning contracts, I soon discovered, was only the beginning. But that’s for another time.

For now, a year has passed since I started my own company, and I feel I can say, with a certain minimal authority, the clichés about working for yourself are largely true.

I trust you had a good 2014 and wish you and yours a wonderful and fulfilling 2015.