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Today I have share with you a peak into my discussion with Trent Waskey, a marketing consultant to tech CEOs. He's based in Virginia. We recorded 30 minutes of amazing discussion on all things consulting. The full interview is available to Launch Pad participants. Click here to apply today.
The Trent Waskey Interview
How did you get into consulting?
First of all, thanks for this. I started by freelancing. Its was my very first kind of small introduction to consulting. It wasn't full consulting. But that was my my first experience with it. But I was introduced to what I call real consulting was when I met you, and you were telling me about it. And you were telling me that I had to get into it. And I wasn't so sure. So I took kind of a very small step, and I just made myself available.
I've always had imposter syndrome. So the first thing I did was I just told a couple people at work, I was like, "Hey, I'm going to start helping other people with what I do here." And the response is pretty much immediately, like ever, like, wow, that's phenomenal. Like I've got, you know, two or three people I can introduce you to. So not a week later, after that I was I was introduced to somebody, and they went on to become my first client.
At the time, I had no idea what I was doing. But it ended up being a website and a branding project, which is a big passion area for me. It was a great start. I'm getting paid for something on the side and making more money. So that was Yeah, that was my very first start into it.
And then when we finished that project, they were like, "Well, what do we do now? Like, can we keep working with you?" And I was like, Yeah, yeah, you can keep working with me. So I had actually quickly come up with an offer like a couple days later about what that would look like. But yeah, that was that was my introduction to it.
How do you describe your consulting offering to people who may have never heard of you?
I like to say that I help startups basically generate and capture demand for their product. Now, tactically, that could be a lot of different components. So it could be paid demand generation, it could be inbound marketing, it could be SEO, it could be branding. So there's all these components that make it up. But long story short, if you want the right people to know about what you do, and then drive them to action, that's where I can help.
And when you first started, who did you share the earliest versions of your offer with?
So I shared it with you, obviously. And then I also shared it with my previous CEO at the time, told him about what I was doing. He was interested, he had always kind of been interested in the sort of inbound marketing that we had done there. So he was very keen to listen and give me feedback and sort of tell me his perspective on it as well. So that was, that was great to have you too available as a sounding word early on.
You mentioned imposter syndrome at the beginning. And some people who might be reading this transcript or watching this, that are members of the club might think that, you know, they can't do it, something about them is saying they can't do it. Either they don't have the credentials from an institution, or they don't have the work experience, or they've never been part of a startup that has been acquired, or they've never worked at a big brand name, tech company that people know, there's all kinds of reasons we come up with, what what is what do you have to say to that? And did you have any of those thoughts given you were in a tech technology company that did raise capital, and you did get acquired? Right, you had all the things? How do you how do you explain that?
I would say that I had as much imposter syndrome as anybody out there. I don't have a formal education. I've never been to college. I was by far the youngest person in our company. So right from the get go, I had it. But I realized that it none of that stuff really mattered. I think it was me thinking outside the box, willing to learn, willing to try things and being methodical about how I did it, and documenting things that that's really all that mattered.
I still haven't gotten over it, there's no like, you know, there's no day that suddenly imposter syndrome goes away, you know, it comes back and waves here and there. You have bad days. But you know, overall, it gets better. As soon as you realize that people just don't care. They just want help getting to a result. And I knew I could get them there. So that's that's what I kept having to sort of refocus myself on.
So to kick it off when you first went out to market. Did you already have this one client. Would you say you already had clients and a large prospect list before you started really consulting?
No, I had nothing at all. I was a W2 employee. I got this one client, literally. Well, I wouldn't say it was as a fluke. But it was as a result of me putting myself out there and telling people that I was able and willing to do this. But yeah, nothing.
What were the specific moves you made to get those early clients rolling in with the new you?
So first of all, I, you know, coming back to imposter syndrome. I didn't even realize kind of the respect that my own co workers had for the work that I did. I think I took it for granted. So when I was talking to him about, you know, here's what I want to do, I want to help people do this, you know, I want to take the lessons we've learned and help them with this. Like, the feedback was so great. They were like, you totally should, like, look at this cool thing you did last week for us that, you know, that got us all these signups like I could totally see that helping somebody.
I was like, well, wait a minute, like people actually appreciate this stuff. So the yeah, the first thing was just socializing it amongst my coworkers, and just people that I had already known. This was not like, cold outreach on LinkedIn, or prospecting or anything, it was just telling people, this is what I'm up to. Now, tactically, when it actually came to taking calls, and telling people what I did, the first thing I tried to do, and not claiming to be an expert at this, the first thing I tried to do was focus on outcomes, and my personal operating framework.
So you know, in marketing and growth, there's all these tactics. So instead of saying, I can do SEO for you, or I can run paid ads, or I can help you create a content strategy, I quickly realized that a lot of businesses don't, they don't really know the tactics they need. My job was to help them figure that part out. So instead, I shared my framework of thinking on how I find the right tactics, which was, you know, aligning with your buyer, starting up experiments, measuring them testing things, all of that resonated so much more than saying, Oh, I will, I will do this one specific thing for you. So I think the framework and how it worked and sharing that with them was much more influential than the actual tactics themselves.
How do you maintain a feedback loop with your clients? You talked about, you know, helping them? How do you? How do you know it's working? What do you what things are you putting into place so that you can better get a sense of whether the work you're doing is actually the work that they want you to do? Or that in your case, the work you're doing is helping them get the outcome that they desire?
I have a weekly checking call with clients weekly, or bi weekly. And we'll review the actual results of what we're doing. So everything's documented, everything's clear. There's always a log of what's in progress, what the goal of what we're trying to do is, and then where we're trending towards, I think an area that I'm weaker in is less about getting feedback on the actual, you know, tactics or things that we're executing, and more on what it's like to work with me.
I think I'm oftentimes scared to ask like, how do you like working with me? You know, and I always have these, like, underlying fears. So that's something I need to get better with is just to constantly be checking in and saying, like, how is this working? You know? Do you enjoy this? Like, does this feel right? So that's, I think that's definitely an area I need to improve on.
You mentioned doing some freelancing and some light consultant, prior to meeting me. And then you say, like, Hey, you met me. And you started thinking about this idea of like, real consulting. So when and where did you discover the power of this consulting? Like, how did that happen? You remember which discussion it was with me or how that'll happen?
Yeah, it was. So it was after we started talking about it. And it was after I had gotten that first client, done the first one time project and delivered it. And they were like, well, how can you keep helping us? I was like, Well, wait a minute. Yeah, I can. And I would, you know, I remember on the first call, I would get on there and I was saying things in the back of my mind. I was thinking this is so basic, like, why am I even saying this? But then all of a sudden, their the reaction to it was phenomenal. They were like, this is crazy. Like, no one's ever told us this. No one's ever said this. And they were like saying all these wonderfully nice things. And I'm like, Well, wait a minute: That was easy.
I realized that consulting didn't have to be hard. You don't have to be. I mean, you've got to be creative. You got to show up for your clients. It could be natural. I think that was the thing that I realized that was pretty changing for me.
I've discovered that it can help you not only like, financially, but it can also give you the room to, you know, bring 100% of yourself to the work you do, and give you time to do the other things. have you discovered a version of that, or something similar to that?
Yeah. And I think that has only happened recently after I quit my job. So now that I'm doing consulting full time, and this is something I think we'll talk about a little bit later on. But I yeah, I think after I quit my job, I suddenly had all this time, I had all this flexibility, I had all this freedom to the point where I didn't know what to do with it was like, Well, how do I? How do I even structure my day, like, I don't have to show up to all these calls, and all these meetings that are set up by other people. And so yeah, there was a lot of newfound freedom for sure.
For people who are considering consulting what makes it effect ever special in your world in your view?
I think you get this opportunity to give focused value that you don't get as an employee. And hopefully that doesn't sound like too abstract. But I think as an employee you certainly have moments where you're able to add value and contribute, of course, but it's not focused, it's not concentrated, I would say 90% of what I did in my day to day was not adding tons of value. It was executing, it was all of these other things. And only 10% was like the really special sauce, right? Or even less maybe.
I feel like with consulting, you get to concentrate all of that. And every call you show up to you get to you get to solve a fresh challenge, you get to provide a new perspective. It's like all this focused value. It's all the fun stuff. I feel like even though I'm helping clients with executional stuff, I still feel like it's it's more concentrated value. I think that's the special part about consulting.
You talk about your first deal, aside from feeling like, wow, I could provide value. Were there any other lessons you took away from it?
I think there was. I think the way I structured the deal, I think I was, I wasn't clear enough on scope, I should have been more, you know, I thought I had to provide all of this extra stuff to make it worthwhile. And I should have, I should have boiled it down to keep it simple and keep it focused, ended up working out just fine because they were in an awesome client. But I that's that's probably what I would have done differently is distilled my offer made it more clear how to more simple scope, and that you don't need all of these extra things, you just focus on what provides the most value.
If you had to argue for like the downside of consulting, what would it be?
Yeah, so I mean, it's something I've been opening up a lot about recently. So I've one of the biggest struggles I have is I was diagnosed with ADHD as a kid. And I'm one of the 30% that doesn't grow out of it and adulthood. So I still have it pretty significantly and pretty seriously. And it's something I'm passionate about talking about. Because I think there's this misconception that it's something like, Oh, you need to just focus a little bit harder, or try a little bit harder, or you know, just stop getting distracted.
It's actually it's like a serious thing, it can be completely crippling to your productivity. And you completely lack the ability to control where your attention goes. So it doesn't it doesn't mean you're lazy or not smart, you physically sometimes cannot control your focus and your energy. And as it relates to consulting, you know, like I was saying before, with a W two you're expected to, you know, be on slack or be in the office nine to five, you've got your regular meetings, you've got this routine in the structure to the point where it's completely Monday, and that's why I didn't like it.
But then you become a consultant, and you've got all this freedom. So you can set your own routine. You can set your own schedule, you can wake up whenever you want. You know, and I think that almost became overwhelming to the point where I had to like refocus myself and say, like, no, I need a routine, I need structure. Otherwise, I'll just you know, things will get let go and I won't be able to provide a lot of values. So I think I, I quickly had to rein myself in because I'm, I'm certainly easily distracted. So I had to I had to create the routine and create the structure for myself. Because it wasn't there for me. Nobody's there on your shoulder saying, hey, show up to this call.
So that was the hard part.
What goals do you have for the future of your practice?
Yeah, I would say you know, my biggest goal Is productizing my knowledge, and it's something I hear a lot more now is people want to do a course or you know, a program or something like that. So on that same vein, what I'm creating now is I'm calling it an accelerator. And it's the reason why I'm creating it is because experimenting with growth is risky. So it costs money. So you've got to invest in marketing, you could be buying ads, it costs money to create content, it's risk for people.
And a lot of people haven't had the experience or they don't know what to do. And it's not that they're, you know, it's not that these things are crazy complicated. Again, it's just a risk and a cost time and money to figure out what actually works. So my idea is, if I can teach people the fundamentals, give them the best practices that I found upfront, and then give them support as they execute, I can provide basically the same amount of net value in the end, while you know, giving them a ton of a ton of opportunity to learn and figure things out.
What I'm doing now is, is working on productizing, my consulting and all my learnings into something that people can purchase in a 90 days, they're seeing results, you know, 90 days or less. That's what the accelerator is all about.
If you had to reflect on the last 12, 18 months, what's the most important decision you've made or taken?
I would say it's fully committing to consulting. You know, you know, as well as I do, I was going back and forth quite a bit. I knew I wanted to do it. I was like, Well, I'm about to get this retention bonus, you know, I've got stock options. I'm like, I got healthcare, I'm getting like $1,200 a month health care plan that's like, creme de la creme. Like, how do I how can I possibly leave such luxury and comfort? You know, my $125,000 salary. How could it ever get better than this? And of course, it can get a whole lot better than that. But you don't realize that when you're in it feels like, you know, how could you leave all that security.
So yeah, I would say the biggest thing was, was realizing that I had to commit to consulting and I had to quit my job, I had to cut the tie. And it was definitely the right thing to do. It was, you know, it was a little bit painful. But it absolutely had to be done. And I'm no worse for where we weren't hurt financially. It was, you know, none of none of my biggest fears came true at all, quite the opposite. And I think at the same time, it was almost cathartic in leaving, because now there's this freedom in, you know, showing up to fresh challenges on each client call and it's just, I don't know, I just feel totally refreshed. Getting out of this sort of mundane cycle of of a W2 job.
I'm definitely living the dream right now.
How can people reach you on the Internet?
I'm starting to tweet. So I'm looking to I'm looking to have people follow me if possible. I'm at @waskeytrent.
If you're interested in the accelerator, go to growthtakeoff.com growth, takeoff calm. So that's going to be the accelerator program I'm launching. And you're going to get a series of a couple really fun emails that I highly recommend you check out so yeah. You won't be disappointed.
If you made it this far I hope this interview gave you valuable insight into the world of consulting. Feel free to drop me a note.
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