Last Friday I went to a seminar put on my my consulting group, the Professional Consultant's Association of Central New York. It was a great presentation by a local guy named Nasir Ali on the topic of entrepreneurship in the 21st century and what Syracuse University and local businesses are doing to try to keep local talent from leaving the area to create businesses that are both sustaining and adds jobs to the community.

I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.
Aristocrats-hat via Compfight

After that presentation, and a brief conversation with the group on that topic and other topics concerning consultants and our area, I found myself with about 90 minutes of time to kill because I had a dentist appointment in the city close to where I was and didn't want to drive all the way back home.

This left me a lot of time to talk to a guy named Steve Roberts. He used to be co-owner of a marketing company and now works on his own as a business strategy coach who calls himself a "musher". If you're unsure about that term, think about the Iditarod and the people who drive those dogs in trying to win that race, and that they're always yelling "mush" at the dogs to get them going.

We had a long conversation, and were joined by Dick Snyder, another local independent businessman who runs a business that helps other companies find ways of saving money on long term expenses. I was telling him about business and my own marketing efforts, and I mentioned this white paper I wrote on helping a hospital generate around $730 million of new revenue in one year and how I'd started marketing it, but that even though people download the paper had increased, it was slow going overall, and hadn't generated any new business yet.

As I talked more, explaining it all to him since he's not in health care, he eventually asked me an interesting question: "Why isn't your message getting across to the world?"

I had to think about that one, then I said "I don't know, but that's one of the many mysteries of marketing isn't it?" Well, overall it's not to him, even if he couldn't give me anything specific about my own business. However, in talking about another group he worked with long ago, he said he took the time to listen to what they said and what they thought they needed and had a much different version of what they needed.

He said he came up with a totally different idea, got to pitch his idea to the group after everyone else while coming in at the highest rate, and ended up getting the contract. He said that in two years the size of the organization grew from 8,500 members to over 50,000 members by changing their focus and giving them what they really needed more than what they thought they needed, and was able to convince them by showing them a different way, then staying quiet and letting them figure it out on their own.

Vision is an interesting thing. I'm good at finding vision for others. I can listen to what they're saying and figure things out pretty well. In the coaching sessions I've had the honor of conducting, I've been able to make suggestions to people that have helped them become better communicators, and in some cases generate a lot more income than they'd been doing before.

And yet, sometimes you just can't do it for yourself. Not that you don't have ideas, but you could be too close to it, holding yourself back because you know your industry too well, or the types of people you need to work with too well.

Sometimes you're hoping others will just find you without your doing much effort by trying to do good work. In a way, it's like finding myself on this list of top 50 leaders in leadership (I'm in 19th right now; yay!), where I literally haven't done anything special except write all these blog posts and create pages on my website on the topic... okay, I've done some seminars as well, but as far as marketing it goes, I can say I haven't done nearly as much as I should.

I'll ask you the same question he asked me; what is it that's keeping your message from reaching the world?" Or whatever your market is, or your goal is, or whomever your audience is; what's missing? It's my belief that if any of us can answer that one, we'll all end up being rich and fulfilled; who'd be depressed about that?