When you meet someone for the first time, it is not uncommon for the question to arise “What do you do?” The answer that I should use is, “that we run a research company that informs business strategy in real estate for the capital markets, brokers, MLSs, REALTOR® Associations, and the technology companies that serve them.”
That answer would fly right over the head of most people and qualify as a non-answer. I retreat to a simple, non-descript answer that seems to satisfy most people, but is equally non-descript: “I am a consultant.” Rarely does someone follow up with “What kind of consulting do you do.” My consulting answer effectively allows them to categorize me in whatever their definition of consultant is, for better or for worse.
This year, I was invited to join the Board of Trustees for Shattuck-St. Mary’s, a preparatory boarding school for boys and girls with locations in Minnesota (where I attended) and China. My perspective of the school as developed over the years. First, I had the perspective as a new student. That transformed into my perspective as an “old boy -” referencing a student that attended multiple years – four for me. There is always a bit of a dark period for the relationship between students and the school that spans college, early career, and into marriage. Once alums get settled, they reengage with the school and re-tie the bonds childhood relationships that last a lifetime. This same dark period happens after college for most people. At some point, you start reaching out to your college friends and attend reunions. I have no idea what to expect about the new perspective I will gain as a Trustee, but I expect that it will be very rewarding.
Businesses need advisors. They are people that bring new perspectives. In our case, we bring decades of experience of working with companies to develop strategies for success from all corners of the industry. Most importantly, these perspectives are well researched. This post was inspired by Nick Stoneman, Shattuck-St. Mary’s President. He talked about how a little bit of change can give you a very different perspective. Have you ever switched hands with a hammer and tried to drive in a nail? It is very different for a right-hander to do it with the left hand. It is awkward, invites risk, and makes you rethink other ways to reach your goal. You hardly even think about it when using your dominant hand. He also referenced the new perspective he gained from changing up his morning run. He ran the route backwards on the other side of the street.
I remind people all of the time that they do not hire WAV Group to make decisions or to create your strategy. You hire executives to do that. WAV Group is a facilitator and a researcher. We work with your company and follow a discipline of making sure that companies are open to a variety of perspectives. We help you curate the strategy that is right for you – your strengths. WAV Group would only tell you to hammer in the nail with your left hand if we found out that you are left handed, and it was always awkward for you to hammer with your right hand. We would only advise you to change your route if you were taking the wrong one.
We spend a lot of time learning as much as we can about your business as a kick off to any project. If you are a broker, MLS, AOR, or tech firm, we work hard to understand what type you are. Often, we help your Board of Directors understand what you are good at and what you are not good at through surveys, interviews, and data collection. These things are hard to observe as an insider. If you have only done a thing a certain way, you cannot have any perspective on what it is like to do it differently. We bring that. We introduce the idea. We work with you to evaluate the idea. We help structure a pilot. We contemplate the ways to measure the success of the pilot. Through this process, your company’s leadership can measure the strategy.
If you want to be great, invite some new perspective into your camp.