When we ask a carpenter, plumber or landscaper to stop by and do some work for us, don’t we expect them to arrive fully equipped? That is, all we are required to supply is the problem (a room needing work, clogged pipe or long grass) and the compensation to pay for their service.
Well, it is no different for a consultant. The absolute must-have tools of the power-consultant include:
- A Smartphone
- A High Performing Laptop
- ALL the Software
Let’s dive in to each.
In the prior post (Be Connected) I covered the importance of being connected and having ALL our critical information at our fingertips. In addition to being able to access our email and calendar, it is also important to ALWAYS have ALL of our contact information available.
The reason: we never know when a problem, important question or opportunity will come up (when we are FAR away from our computer) and we’ll want to be able to, quite simply, handle it – IMMEDIATELY. Having a smartphone fully loaded with our information, at our side, is absolutely critical.
My personal preference is the iPhone. In addition to owning stock in Apple, I simply love the product. It is extremely easy to use and is common in corporate settings. I keep mine in a Lifeproof case as insurance for when (not if) I drop it in the lake, on the pavement or a rock, etc. In fact, these cases are so good that my boys have taken underwater videos with their iPhone. I haven’t attempted that – yet.
High Performing Laptop
To continue demonstrating that we are highly effective and efficient, we must NEVER be the person in the room saying “Man, this machine is so slow. Give me a minute to reboot.” The reality: Reboots seldom take a minute. If we are in this situation, we are wasting our client’s time. Throw out that machine and get a new one – NOW!
My personal preference is the MacBook Pro. As of a few years ago, the capability exists to use a MacBook Pro in a corporate setting while being 100% compatible with our clients and co-workers. And, I’ve found the total cost of ownership to be much lower than Windows-based (virus-attracting) machines. Plus, again, I own Apple stock 🙂
ALL the Software
As you might imagine, the basic software we’ll want on our High Performing Laptop must include MS Office (Word, Powerpoint, Excel). In addition, other common packages we may need, depending on the nature of our services, include: MS Visio and MS Project.
Some “might” be asking: “How do you run these MS products on a Mac?”
Easy: MS Office is available in versions that run native on a Mac. And, by the way, my experience has been that they don’t crash as much as they do on Windows-based machines.
That said, there remain other packages (i.e., MS Project, MS Visio, etc.) that don’t (presently) have versions that run native on a Mac.
What is a person to do? Install VMware Fusion, Windows and these other packages on the Mac. Doing so provides access to ALL of our tools at the same time: they are only a “Command-Tab” away (on the Mac).
Some clients may offer up a laptop for us to use, during the course of their project. I have found that using my own equipment has been more effective as it enables me to fully conduct my business and personal life on “my” devices vs. segregating my brain between client A, client B., personal life, etc.
Keep it simple and be equipped!
Hi Craig – all good stuff here, but my experience with several clients is that they WANT you to use their laptop / desktop, as they can provide them loaded with their software /apps, they can better control access to their networks and they can monitor things easier than if they just let you hook in with yours. I always have mine with me (a Macbook pro as well), but 75 – 80% of the time I use client hardware.
Yeah, “most” of my clients desire the same. I’ve managed to negotiate this so I’m only dealing with my own laptop and not lugging around 2 🙂
For example, upon (politely) pressing a little on this I’ve found that my clients offer VPN connections (for both the MacBook Pro and iPhone) that provide access to internal resources while addressing their need for security. A win-win!
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