On asking a waitress a stupid question

I’m reminded of this story today:

Back in 2005 I used to walk over to a bar that was across the street from my apartment. One night I was talking to a waitress and wondered out loud whether I’d be happier working a job that I enjoyed that might only pay $30K to $40K per year — as opposed to my current job, which paid a lot more but wasn’t making me happy.

She said, “Don’t look at me honey, I don’t make that kind of money,” then turned and walked away.

This is a page from my book, “A Survival Guide for New Consultants”

How I started my consulting career

“The beginner’s mind should never be lost.”

Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki

If you're a new consultant thinking about going to work for a small consulting company, I'd like to share what I went through in the first three years of my consulting life, in particular my thought process about the revenue I was trying to generate. Hopefully there are some valuable lessons in what I went through way back then.

Consulting: Working late and overtime pay as a consultant

One of my favorite things about working as a consultant is that managers treat your time with respect. As a regular salaried employee, managers will say, “I need you to stay late tonight,” with the implication being, “suck it up.”

As a consultant who’s paid by the hour, when a manager says “I need you to stay late tonight,” you can always say, “No problem, I don’t mind staying if you don’t mind paying double time (as stipulated in the contract).”

In reality you rarely have to say anything like that. Good managers realize that when they ask you to work overtime they’re also saying that they’re going to pay your overtime rate. But if you’re dealing with a first-time manager you sometimes have to say something to that effect to make sure they understand what they’re asking for.

I can’t tell you how many times a manager told their regular employees that they had to stay late, and then they’d look at me and say, “Not you. You go home.” You might think the salaried employees would be angry at you for this preferential treatment, but I’ve always found that they understand that it’s part of the system. Back in the day when I was a regular employee I wasn’t angry with the consultants, I just found myself being envious about their situation.

(I write more about lessons like this in my book, A Survival Guide for New Consultants.)

Learning Scala can get you a significantly higher salary

A website named says this about learning Scala: “Depending on your line of work, there are certain in-demand skills that — should you possess them — can equate to a bump in pay compared to the average salaries in your professional field. Mastering these skills will likely help you earn a higher salary.”

How much are you worth to your employer?

A long time ago -- 1991 to be exact -- a friend of mine named Joe was a contractor for the aerospace company I worked at. Just like a consultant, Joe was paid by the hour.

At some point Joe decided he was going to leave that company to take a permanent job elsewhere, as he had a medical problem and wanted to get better insurance. Upon telling my employer of his plans, the employer came back and said, “What if we make you a full-time employee here?”

Why do you work?

When talking about work yesterday, a friend said something like "It's all about the money, right?" Thinking about that last night, it quickly leads into a question of "What's important in your life?"