Welcome To The Future, Part One Of An Infinite Series: Introducing inContract

Show of hands – who would like to make $300/hr doing executive consulting in Boston?

Perhaps that’s too far east and you’d be content with completely reinventing health care in Honolulu, Hawaii?

Or – you’ve got a role that needs a top-level management consultant like the ones above, and you are ready to enter a world where you can find someone of this level without having to screen, pre-screen, and *re*-screen applicants.  And without paying an agency.  And for free.  (For free?)  And possibly find an applicant who uses better grammar than *this* paragraph!

These are just ridiculous fantasies, right?

Good news: today those ridiculous fantasies can become your reality, because inContract is now live.

If you’re a talented freelance management consultant or a company that has been in need of one, you’ve felt the pain, and you’ve felt the difficulty of matching truly talented people to truly deserving roles.  So did we.  In particular, so did our CEO Kurt Wilkinson.   If you’ve seen his inContract profile, you can probably understand why so many companies have looked to him to help point them to qualified people.  Kurt had been almost buried alive by requests for referrals of fellow management consultants from the companies that desperately needed them, or even other freelancers that were looking for people to help them out on a project!

inContract is our solution to this problem – a professional network for pre-screened freelance management consultants and the companies interested in hiring them.

From our handsome “About Us” page:

“this is where we see the biggest gap in the freelance market. We are not the creators of the talent marketplace concept, but the large freelance markets that exist today are saturated with technical talent of varying quality, not pre-vetted management consulting talent. Our focus for inContract is quality over quantity, focused specifically on management consulting.”

I know, I know – you didn’t come here to read regurgitated yet excellent and well-crafted website copy that you can read anytime; you’re here for the insider perspective from one of inContract’s founders!  All right then, leave this between you and I: inContract is where the world-changers meet the world-changing.

Companies tell us that hiring good people is hard.  We agree.  We want to make it easier, and we want you to find great people.   Unbelievable, unforgettable people.

Consultants tell us that they want to spend more time actually doing the things they do best, without having to sift through 100+ “management consulting” results of which only one or two are even *relevant* to the talents they have.  We agree.  You’re very good at making companies more effective and efficient – why shouldn’t finding your next role be just as swift and productive as you are?

“This sounds amazing, and it’s free?  What’s the catch?  There has to be one, right?”  Well, the bad news (if you can call it that) is that inContract is focused exclusively on the management consulting industry *and* we pre-screen to ensure the quality of the marketplace, so it’s obviously not for everyone.  On the other hand, the fantastic news is that if you are a consultant or company that is part of that industry, then we are definitely for you, as you can say goodbye to having to sit down for several hours going through either unqualified applicants or irrelevant roles.   If we weren’t very confident of that, we wouldn’t have bothered building it for you.   And now it’s yours!

“Wait, you said part 1…what’s part 2?”

*laughs* Oh…if only I could *tell* you that without giving it away…trust me.  Have I steered you wrong thus far?

10 Minute Toughness – Buy This Book Or Risk Being Pelted With Garbage

TL;DR version

Buy this book, burn every other book you own, and replace them with copies of this book. BOOM, DONE.

Slightly more detailed version:

If you don’t own “10 Minute Toughness” by Jason Selk, go to Amazon now and buy the book.  If you’re making some excuse like “I need the audio book” or “I can’t read” then give me your phone number and I will *call you and read it to you in person*. “But Justice, I’ve got another 20 books in my queue” – SPOILER WARNING, Mr. Strong eats a lot of eggs and rescues the steamroller.   The rest of the series will be there when you get back, trust a guy who’s been there.

I just saved you twenty minutes
I just saved you twenty minutes

Your hero is all about systems.  This is because I am what professionals term THE MAN.  You should also be all about systems in your life because you’d *also* be the man.  Or the lady.  Or whatever.  So I *know* that I told you that this book would give you a stupidly easy system for your core ideals, your short-term and long-term goals, and your accountability to yourself you’d be all over it right?  Right.  And this, my friends, is that book.  It will change your life if you let it.

There are only about 5-10 touchpoints that I can truly say where my life truly changed forever.  Reading this book was one of them.    It is by far and away the 2nd best book I’ve ever read.   It will also be in the top 5 books that you ever read, and I can say this with complete confidence because you can’t risk the physical ramifications of this *not* being in your top 5 (see title, above).

Those who are reading this right now are either not at all surprised (or possibly, very surprised) that I’ve often been approached to mentor people towards being successful professionals.  While there’s all sorts of things you can do in my profession to develop future leaders (particularly in the technical arena), my first action is to give that person a copy of this book and have them do everything that this book says – highlight reels, success logs, etc.  Once they have done this, without fail it is like a light suddenly comes on and they are a different person.  Stronger.  Faster.  Hotter!  More alive.  If you’re astute you’ve noticed I just gave you a guide to mentoring people without charging you my normal hundreds of dollars an hour.  Okay, maybe it gets a little more in-depth than that afterwards but you can’t ask for a greater starting point.  Here are some of the anecdotes from people I’ve given this book to:


This literally changed everything for me”

“I could have saved myself the hundreds of dollars on personal coaching and just bought this book instead”

“You’re a beautiful and handsome husband but I really need you to take out the composting”  

You’re likely reading this because you’ve got some big dreams, some fantastic goals and you want to achieve them.  This book helps put practical steps in front of you to realize those dreams and take small steps every day towards the bigger picture.

It’s that last sentence that makes this book absolutely ideal for anyone in that elite group of people wanting to automate as much as possible so that you can focus on destroying every obstacle in your path. 10 Minute Toughness takes this to the next logical extension and automates goal-setting, visualization, into a process that takes literally about 10 minutes a day if that.   It’s basically a system to live your life and succeed.

From my own standpoint the book has completely re-sorted the way I approached everything.  I hate books with fluff and this book has none.  Every anecdote serves a purpose and every page has practicality.  After getting through the book I had developed three scripts: physical, professional, and personal.   These highlight reels are living – they change as I change.  As I accrue new successes they go in the highlight reel.  Statements that either I’ve used to describe myself or others have used to describe me that I like go into the personal or identity statements.  And I go through these reels *every single day*.  Call me a smelly new age hippie if you like but call me a *successful* smelly new age hippie!  Remember that I buy my own coffee nowadays padre!

Imagine thinking the same thought every day for years.   Now imagine that thought giving you energy at the times you don’t have it, turning you “on” when you aren’t, getting you out of bed when you want to sleep.  Imagine being reminded of every single significant success your life has ever had *every day*.  Who *wouldn’t* want that?

At a certain point, the whole centering breath – personal statement – highlight reel – identity statement – centering breath becomes *automatic*.    I’ve got these things so tied into me that I can hear specific pieces of music and get energized (what do you think I’m listening to while I write this? ;) )  I’m telling you, *this book is the way*.  But enough of that, I’m not telling you everything about this book because Jason Selk deserves all of your money.   I’ll make you a lifetime guarantee –

I’m so confident in this book’s quality that I guarantee that if you read this book and don’t get any benefit out of it I will never speak to you again, simply out of spite.

Some of you are still squeamish about the fact that the book is written from an athlete’s perspective.   Don’t worry about it.   You’re an athlete in the sport of *life*.  Get out there and compete by getting the advice of one of the best coaches around, one that changed my life and so many others.

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”  – 1 Corinthians 9:24

Time to get running.


How to Get Your Enterprise Running Like A Startup, Even If It Isn’t: An Exciting Prelude

If you have ever sat at your desk in your office or cubicle and thought any of the following thoughts:

“I wish our operation could be better, but we’re just too big”

“I wish our operation could be faster, but we’re just too big”

“I wish I could be an exotic dancer, but I’m just too big”

Well then congratulations, because this weekly series of posts is for you!  Yes, even the third one.   By the end of this series we’ll have talked about that too.  Really?  Really.  Would a guy you’ve probably just met on the Internet lie to you?  Never.

There are a lot of you out there reading this who work for a monolithic enterprise where release dates of products, systems, and functionality are actually measured in years rather than months or weeks, the earliest your next significant piece of work will see the light of day is 2016(!!) and you now figure your doctor will be delivering your grandchild prior to your company next delivering a successful release.   If reading this hits a painful nerve I want to give you some assurance:

  • it isn’t hopeless
  • your hero has been there.
  • I might know how to make it better.

That’s a bold claim, but tell me if this career journey doesn’t scream “credibility”:

  • start your career at a startup doing “development”, some marketing diagrams, some fetching of coffee, some washing of cars and occasionally coding
  • move over to the enterprise noting what worked well at your previous organizations, implement those changes, work your way up to masterminding the construction, release, and team leadership of multi-million dollar projects
  • leave those behind and join a startup again, doing some marketing diagrams, fetch your own coffee, wash your own car, occasionally code.  This time, however, call yourself a Chief Technical Officer.

I want to spare you that journey and give you everything that has made me successful at the organizations I’ve been and avoid the pitfalls that I’ve encountered or the mistakes that I’ve…*ahem* the lessons I’ve learned that obviously had *nothing* to do with me or my decisions whatsoever. This is my article, I can say what I like!!

Now, this preamble to a prelude out of the way, we should get some stuff out of the way first that *might* blow your mind:

1) Not every startup is an oasis of productivity.

While not listed on my LinkedIn profile (because these clients would obviously prefer to remain confidential), I have consulted for startups who are still struggling to get a release out the door even after months or even years of development.  I actually had a discussion with one notable Vancouver startup that will remain anonymous – we’ll get into them later in this series – that was still nowhere near a stable release despite running with a large team (I consider “large” to be anything beyond 5 people) for nearly half a year.  Unless you are building a functional space shuttle made entirely of chocolate and gold, 6 months is forever if you are dealing with a large team.

Obviously seven years well spent
Obviously seven years well spent

I find that people in enterprise often misconstrue “startup” to be at default some magical place where everything is fast-paced, highly productive, we all wear leather jackets with the words “Black Ops” emblazoned on the back and the day after a product is discussed, a fully featured application is out the door.  Not quite.  Don’t worry though – if you are the kind of person who thought this or assumes that “Agile” means “Let’s all hold each other while we burn our documentation and just…talk about stuff”

  1. I’m not going to hold it against you
  2. You sound like the kind of hippie that I’d love to consult for, please give me a shout so we can discuss rates

The reality, however, is that most of you have all seen what an *efficient* startup runs like, because at the time of this writing the preview for “Fast and the Furious 7” has aired and I want to assure you that minus the cars flying through skyscraper windows, this is pretty much how pineappl operates *every day*, give or take a broken window or two.

More importantly for you startup boys out there who are reading this and thinking “Hurr Hurr Hurr, I’m so glad I don’t slave for the *man* in the <air quotes>government</air quotes>”,

2) Not every enterprise is some lumbering beast that never gets anything done

Having had the experience of being *very* involved in the running of show at one of my more notable clients for several years, there were definitely significant periods where we not only significantly outperformed every other department with a fraction of the people in a fraction of the time, we had people from startups themselves who were amazed at “how fast you guys are…easily ten times as fast as we were at [X]”  You would be shocked sometimes at how fast an enterprise can actually be and over the course of this series I’m going to share with you the things that made my teams sleek like panthers – most of the time.  (Except at pineappl, where we are of course perpetually jungle cats, but enough about the hottest group of C-level officers in the world today, there will be time to discuss that later).

Artist's representation of the pineappl founding team, yours truly furthest on the left
Artist’s representation of the pineappl founding team, yours truly second to the left


3) Productivity is productivity and many things that are ideal situations in a startup can be replicated anywhere, regardless of the size of the enterprise or even the *type* of the enterprise.


BOO YAH.  This is what we want to be talking about in this series.

While I’d *love* to tell you that everything I have touched turned to productivity gold, the truth is that every organization I’ve been part of (save *possibly* pineappl, but I’m a realist and am certain we’ll hit that), whether startup or $20M enterprise project, has had times of ferocious productivity and also times where we ran much slower than we needed to, either because we made a choice that wasn’t great or we drifted too far away from the ideals that made us fast and lean in the first place.


You will not and cannot do this alone unless your “organization” is a team of one.

But, I will show you how to make sure you’re not.

“But Justice, I’m just a developer/admin assistant/car washer/exotic dancer, I can’t make those changes”

Good news, buckaroo.  I started there too.  And in the case of large enterprise, let’s not pretend that *anyone* ever gets a magic autonomy wand, starts waving it, and changes happen.  Every major decision I ever made in a large enterprise had to still go through an approval chain of C-level responsibilities, but trust a guy who has been there, the more credibility you build up, the more relative autonomy you get.  And the more you’re able to introduce what I’m sharing with you here, the more credibility you’ll have.  For example, just telling your co-workers and superiors that “I read an article by Justice Gray today” is a great way to start.  Trust an expert.

Some things you can look forward to in the coming weeks unless I decide to take a page out of the enterprise playbook and stretch this series out over the next decade:

  • How to Hire Like A Startup
  • How to Structure Teams
  • How to Meet Like A Startup
  • How to Work Like You’re At A Startup
  • Leading Like A Startup
  • Whatever Else I Feel Like About Being At A Startup, Baby

Next time: absolutely nothing to do with this series at all.  Well, unless you count a book that will most assuredly change your life and make you the baddest man/woman/force of nature/all of the above on the entire planet after reading it.  It might help.