Apr 25, 2024

Lessons from One Year in Consulting

Lessons from One Year in Consulting

Lessons from One Year in Consulting

Nathan King

A rearview mirror with text superimposed that says lessons from year one
A rearview mirror with text superimposed that says lessons from year one
A rearview mirror with text superimposed that says lessons from year one

It's been a year since I left my corporate leadership role in April 2023 and launched King Strategic Consulting. I set out with a vision to provide executive coaching to help leaders build teams with increased creativity, better results, and improved retention.

But the first year brought a mix of coaching and consulting.

The Work I Completed in Year One


  • For a values-based care healthcare company,

    • led retention initiatives and created an executive dashboard to monitor turnover.

    • Developed a recruiting strategy for a centralized HR function supporting regional care teams.

  • Conducted a strategic assessment for a healthcare services company to identify and prioritize strategic initiatives.

  • Facilitated role definition for a healthcare technology company to align accountability and priorities.


  • Facilitated the OKR (Objectives Key Results) process for a healthcare technology company to improve accountability and focus in pursuit of strategy.

  • 1:1 Executive Coaching for executives in information technology and healthcare services roles.

Clearly, I expanded beyond the confines of Executive Coaching, and I'm glad I did. In fact, cautions about too focused of a vision is one of my top 3 lessons in the last year.

I share those lessons in hope that it will prompt some reflection of your own situation.

Lessons from My First Year at King Strategic Consulting

Lesson 1 | Take chances and try different projects

Don't commit too quickly to a narrow offering

When I launched my business, I had the firm intention to sell executive coaching services. But immediately out of the gate, I had consulting opportunities unrelated to coaching.

This set up an internal conflict. Am I focusing enough? Am I being too opportunistic saying yes to non-coaching projects?

I highly value focus. In the organizations I've worked in, I've often pushed to reduce the breadth of initiatives. I've been in companies where an infectious appetite to chase many initiatives lower the probability that anything gets done.

And yet, The definition of a startup is a temporary organization in search of a business model.

When I launched my business, I wanted executive coaching, but didn't have:

1. A clear operating model

2. Paying customers.

3. A list of qualified prospects.

Additionally, my background as a leader and purveyor of "knowledge work" results in a set of skills broadly applicable to any organization.

So behaving opportunistically came naturally. I took on consulting work.

Bonus: I discovered that I deeply enjoy consulting.

I loved the work of crafting a strategy and defining a marketing opportunity. I also enjoyed the challenge of having to quickly learn the company and the industry.

Which helps explain why consulting took half of my time in year 1.

Coaching opportunities came about 6 months in, and have continued to emerge. But going into year 2, I actively seek both coaching and consulting opportunities.

Lesson 2 | Shake and Bake

The more meetings you have and the more you put yourself out there, the more serendipity you experience.

Paying customers came from unlikely sources.

The customer I referenced above was prompted by a coffee with an old co-worker who had remained a friend. I didn't "pitch" him on anything. The most memorable part of our discussion was our love for the movie Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby and our shared enthusiasm for the deeper message underlying the film (side note: after that convo, I planned to write a blog post about the deep meaning of that film but never got around to it - maybe that will be the next email I send).

But that enjoyable conversation kept me top of mind for my friend when a need emerged at his new company.

Later in the year, I did land executive coaching clients, but in every case it was from unexpected sources.

In some cases, it came from someone who knew someone. In others, it was from someone I knew, who saw a post from me on LinkedIn (I've posted about twice a week over the last year).

This has helped me to adopt a mindset that I wish I had landed on at the age of 22:

Shake: spend lots of time meeting with people, discussing their lives, exchanging ideas on shared interests.

Bake: Make things happen. Let the juices marinate. Add a little spice to the seasoning. And by doing this, know that a few of those conversations will result in economic projects.

The paid projects that emerge from a small percentage of conversations subsidize your ability to have conversations with everyone you know, and aspire to know.

A delicious result when all the necessary ingredients come together at the right time.

Lesson 3 | The Inner Game is the Main Game

Tim Gallwey wrote The Inner Game of Tennis (and later the Inner Game of Golf). In it, the "inner" bit described the interference we experience inside of our selves. He said:

"The opponent within one's head is more formidable than the one the other side of the net.”

He even created an equation:

Performance = Potential - Interference

The solution is to create a set of practices to reduce the interference.

Internal interference is captured in the zeitgeist by the many references I hear about "imposter syndrome." The refrain goes something like:

Who am I to call up that CEO?

I would never win that deal.

If I post that on LinkedIn, people will laugh.

I can't ask that customer for a testimonial. They'd fire me instead.

This kind of inner talk leads to a zombie-like life of muddling through. The priority is to survive. There is no creativity. It's an approach where you realize 30 years later that your life has passed you by and now it's too late.

This struggle inside of one's head is as old as human kind.

The Bible frames what we moderns call "imposter syndrome" or "interference" as our primal enemy, the Accuser. He's a mortal enemy, a "thief" who comes to "steal and kill and destroy."

He enters the stage in the early days of the creation story, casts doubt and ruins everything.

Working for myself, that interfering accuser has become a noticeably loud daily feature. My courage in dealing with it dictates the quality of my day, each and every day.

Here's how I contend with it:

1. Ritual of reflection

1. Journaling - writing down events, distractions, intentions, and emotions. I don't do it daily, but frequently enough to help me separate myself from the moment and get clear.

2. Silent reflection and prayer - nearly every day, I sit down for at least 15 minutes. Some days I simply still my thoughts, and focus on feeling my feet on the floor. Often, I pray reflectively.

2. Accountability

1. Writing down exactly what I say I am going to do, and making it clearly measurable. Reviewing it often.

2. Asking friends to follow up with me on commitments I make only to myself. When I fail to meet them, it's painful and causes me to dig deeper. I am profoundly grateful to the friends in my life who make time to follow up with me and ask if I did what I committed to.

3. Support

In the last year, I've gotten support from 3 places.

  1. I sought training from the Center for Executive Coaching, and built friendships with several coaches. I have ongoing conversations with several people I met there, where we talk about our challenges and intentions. Open sharing is extremely helpful.

  2. Conversations with people further down the path. I have routinely met with coaches who have been doing this for 3-10+ years, which is extraordinarily helpful.

  3. Regular gatherings with friends to talk not just about work, but about life. I've been a part of a book club, a recurring meeting at a brewery for an evening beer, recurring coffees, etc.

The Dawn of Year Two

Now I am beginning year 2. I will continue to market coaching, specifically for leadership teams that seek strategic clarity and for middle managers bewildered by the many conflicting initiatives, personalities, and dilemmas (on LinkedIn, and through requesting meetings).

I will also pursue consulting projects that help organizations assess their strategy and overcome strategic problems.

And of course, I will focus on cultivating relationships with people in multiple areas of my life, which is the source of much serendipity and joy.




I help leaders and teams achieve clarity and alignment so they can reach their potential


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© King Strategic Consulting, LLC 2023