FAQ

We believe that you have a right to as much information as possible about how we think and work ahead of any decision you might make. On that note, the primary factor in who you hire should be whether or not they can solve your problem. Once you've identified that source, the money should be secondary (your time should be more important than your money, anyway.) It would actually cost quite a bit more not to hire that person than to hire them. Against that background, we've collected these frequently asked questions so that you can make the right decision. Feel free to ask for any clarification you'd like, but please do read them. We feel like every one is important to set your expectations fairly, largely so that we can meet them and keep you satisfied and grateful:

  1. I'm not ready to use ReCourses yet. How can I stay in touch and keep up with what you are doing and offering?

  2. Where do all the pictures on the front page come from?
  3. What size are the firms that you work with?

  4. I have one big issue I need your help with, but I don't see a package dealing specifically with that, and the larger packages cost more than I want to spend right now. How can we work together?

  5. How can you help me from Nashville?

  6. How do we work together after you leave?

  7. In a consulting relationship, will we have a regularly scheduled call? Are you like a coach in that regard? What does the implementation period look like?

  8. If I sign up as a client and decide that I want more assistance after that initial "implementation period" period has ended, how do we continue to work together?

  9. Can we get together and meet first? This is a big decision and I’d like to get a feel for how we’d work together.

  10. What really sets you apart from the other management consultants that specialize in serving this field?

  11. What would you consider your "unique ability"?

  12. Before engaging you, would it make sense to first fix some things that I know need to be done?

  13. What are the typical deliverables in a working relationship?

  14. Can you cross out any confidential portions and then show me sample recommendations?

  15. What are typical payment terms?

  16. Who at ReCourses will be working with us?

  17. Do you have some references we could contact?

  18. How would you describe the ideal ReCourses client?

  19. Speaking of expectations, can you explain further what mine should be?


I'm not ready to use ReCourses yet. How can I stay in touch and keep up with what you are doing and offering?

The best way is to sign up for our free, regular, content-rich emails at one of the forms scattered all over the site. One of those forms is to the right on this page.

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Where do all the pictures on the front page come from?

I was born in Michigan, but moved to Costa Rica when I was four, where I learned Spanish. After one year, we moved to Guatemala and lived there for thirteen years. We lived in a very remote Mayan indian village called San Miguel Acatán--no electricity, no running water, and so on. What I did have was photo subjects galore, lots of time, and a pile of old camera equipment.

My favorite cameras to date: Olympus OM-4T, Mamiya 7, Canon 1Ds Mark II, Canon 1D-X, Canon EOS M, Leica M9, Leica M Monochrom,, Lytro, Gigapan Epic PRO, and the inevitably fun GoPro 4. My pocket camera is a Leica D-LUX 6 or the Canon N.

I've had lots of hobbies over the years (flying airplanes and helicopters, motorcycles, fine woodworking, and so on), but the only constant has been photography. I typically take four international photo excursions every year to countries I've never visited, capturing images, mainly. But I become thoroughly immersed in everything that goes into doing it artfully and speaks to my soul. It's so immersive that it crowds all the rest of life out, which seems to be the only way I can relax.

I don't know if you'll enjoy any of these images, but I hope one or two of them make you smile or remind you fondly of something in your own life. Or, maybe one of them will help you reconnect with life (or death) in an authentic, real way.

Thanks for stopping by, and feel free to browse many more of my images at ReTake.

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What size are the firms that you work with?

We have performed most paid services, including the Total Business Review, for firms with 1-200 people. Our entire consulting practice is built on knowing the differences between firms of different sizes. If you have only two employees, we can help you at the current stage and tell you what is coming next. If you have sixty people, we know your unique issues. We even know when it is time to downsize and get some of your life back.

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I have one big issue I need your help with, but I don't see a package dealing specifically with that, and the larger packages cost more than I want to spend right now. How can we work together?

Our smallest consulting package is the “Single Issue” package, either remote or in Nashville. We don't work on an hourly basis: this is how we limit our client base in a manner that allows us to do effective work for the clients we do have.

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How can you help me from Nashville?

We can’t, in many cases, until we’ve worked with you on-site or here in Nashville at our office. That’s why many programs require that. But once we have—or if the program doesn’t require it—the working relationship is quite effective. Of our client base, 80% are in the US, and the remainder are in Canada, Australia, Europe, Latin America, and the Carribean; Nashville is just our home base. But hire us because you think we know what we're doing and not because we're close. In fact, if there’s a management consulting firm nearer to you that has the same expertise and experience in serving firms like yours, it would make more sense to hire them.

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How do we work together after you leave?

In all engagements, what follows the on-site portion is termed the “implementation period.” That includes a set number of significant phone calls or emails, and then some short calls and emails, too, which we don't count. These are usually initiated by you when there's something you want help with, but sometimes from us if we feel like you're avoiding us or may have lost some momentum. The implementation period is defined for each service, denoted by a set number of calls over a set number of months, whichever comes first. We would deem an interaction significant if it take a fair bit of time, there's an agenda, preparation is needed, etc. Another way to look at it is this: we're in the business of solving huge, unsustainable problems that are keeping you up at night. We could help solve the smaller issues, but that's boring and there's little money it!

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In a consulting relationship, will we have a regularly scheduled call? Are you like a coach in that regard? What does the implementation period look like?

Our approach is not like that of a coach, prodding you to make weekly progress. There are much better (and cheaper) sources for that, and we can refer you to coaches who specialize in this industry, even. But our work is more issues-based. If you are facing a particular hurdle, we'll craft a suggested engagement, assess the situation, give you our best solution, and then answer questions as you implement it.

The implementation period is framed in two ways. First, there is a period of time during which the implementatio is active and we are at your service. That is expressed in months. Second, we offer up to a set number of significant phone calls, lasting longer or involving more preparation. We don't count quick phone calls or emails against that total. There is more information about this in the previous answer.

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If I sign up as a client and decide that I want more assistance after that initial "implementation period" period has ended, how do we continue to work together?

Obviously you (or your staff) could attend one of our seminars, roundtables, or conferences. Another option is to do a checkup on site again. We just call that a Management Summit, and the issues we address are personalized to your situation. That sample agenda is never what the actual one looks like.

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Can we get together and meet first? This is a big decision and I’d like to get a feel for how we’d work together.

We won’t work hard to make this happen because it requires time that we could have been spending in our work for clients (instead of prospecting). We will spend time answering questions by phone or email to give you a comfort level with how we’ll approach working for you. This site also contains lots of valuable (and free) material that will provide insight into how we think.

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What really sets you apart from the other management consultants that specialize in serving this field?

Three things:

  1. We’ve developed unique processes that help surface the issues and then solve them quickly and more reliably. These center around measuring your firm’s performance, crafting a positioning that gives you power in the marketplace, putting systems in place that move you from a deadline-driven firm to a profit-driven one, and structuring roles well for each individual (with some proprietary scientific research underlying each, based on our usual practice of undertaking an original research project every two or three years, each costing $200,000-$350,000).
  2. We’ve been doing this same work for a long time with hundreds of clients. In fact, we'll reach a thousand firms shortly.
  3. We are very direct and candid, holding nothing back (though it's always done with kindness). Someone said recently that "David doesn't think all babies are cute" and that's a good way to think about it. If he thinks you'll be a good client, that includes an assessment that you want the truth and solutions that match. You will be amazed at the speed and accuracy in absorbing the issues, and then how tailored the we provide.

We are simply not a good fit for most firms. It's always a good idea to explore working with other talented consultants to this field. Here is a list of our competitors, with no implied endorsement. Some are good and some aren't as good:

  • AdMedia Partners
  • Blair Enns
  • Tim Williams
  • Ron Baker
  • Joe Grant
  • Rick Gould
  • Tony Mikes
  • Dave Wood
  • Henry Corona
  • Mike Carlton
  • Robb High
  • Stuart Sanders
  • Sheila Campbell
  • Brent Hodgins
  • Shel Perkins
  • Ilise Benun
  • Emily Cohen
  • Pam Bryan
  • RaShelle Westcott
  • Marcia Hoeck
  • Peleg Top
  • Jay Pryor
  • Karl Sakas

There are some other competitors who will soon remind us that we've left them off the list! Be thorough in looking for a consultant—first, figure out who can solve your problem and then consider the cost. If you've figured out the first, it's likely that the cost of not hiring the right consultant is more expensive than hiring them.

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What would you consider your "unique ability"?

That's sort of a strange question, but the wording is borrowed from Dan Sullivan's Strategic Coach model, which David went through for himself. The idea was to ask that question of ca. 40 people who all know you well, but in different contexts. The answers come back very united in their emphasis.

Our unique ability is to actively engage others through grounded assessment to quickly build consensus around authentic, seductive solutions that mobilize them beyond difficult transitions to focus on their own unique opportunities.

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Before engaging you, would it make sense to first fix some things that I know need to be done?

In some cases it would, particularly if there are no questions about what needs to be done. Where we’d strongly urge you to hire us first would be in areas like positioning and staffing, as decisions you make there are more difficult to reverse. Other areas are fine to work on first, like systems issues.

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What are the typical deliverables in a working relationship?

First, do you hate that word "deliverable" too?

We are thought leaders in this field, and our energy is expended in ways that maintain that position. Stated otherwise, our main deliverable is insightful analysis and transformative advice. The focus is not on long reports or even reports at all, and in fact our recommendations are short, concise, and only in outline form (we provide handouts in order for you to take notes). We can then expand where that would be helpful. This approach doesn't work with consultants who aren't comfortable being naked and alone with just their ideas. That morphs into hiding behind toner on chunks of trees. When a prospect uses this word, it's usually just subconscious on their part (in other words, they always ask it), or it's a sign of skepticism. Either way, we'd gladly fund a campaign to banish the word from any discussion involving deep change or the delivery and application of expertise!

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Can you cross out any confidential portions and then show me sample recommendations?

No.

It’s too much work. It guts the essence of the recommendations. It’s giving away our work.

And if this is important, you may be too skeptical to benefit from a client relationship. We’d recommend that you read everything that interests you here to get a feel for how we think and work with clients and then just go with your gut.

If you decide that we are not a fit, we still welcome you to benefit as much as you can from the information here.

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What are typical payment terms?

All services are prepaid and there are no refunds.

The reason is not cash flow. Rather, it gives us the freedom to be completely transparent with you, not harboring any fear that you'll be upset and withhold payment.

This policy is applied uniformly with every client—even Fortune 500 companies when we work with their in-house departments.

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Who at ReCourses will be working with us?

David C. Baker does all the consulting. More about his background here.

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Do you have some references we could contact?

Of all the FAQs, this is the toughest one to answer and there are so many ways that you might misunderstand this or write us off because of it.

When prospective clients asked, we used to give them a dozen or so. We've worked with so many firms that the logistics of it are no problem.

After twenty years of doing this, we don't and here's why:

  • Our clients have not signed up to give you advice, and that's usually what happens. So they'll be on the phone giving you an outline of the great solution that worked for them, in effect consulting you, and there's no mechanism for payment. Or even any assurance that what worked for them is applicable to you.
  • This isn't always true, but in most cases asking for references is a sign of skepticism. That wasn't true in the early days of ReCourses, when it was a very fair question. But we've infiltrated so many areas under the marketing umbrella that there can be no question about our effectiveness (if it's a good match). Pretty much just ask anyone.
  • There have been a few cases of abuse. First, some prospects would send out the exact same email to all the references, asking them each more than a dozen questions. Why should a non-paid reference bother? Second, they've had an assistant do the calling. If you don't have the time to check us out yourself, we won't be a good fit.
  • In many cases the work we have done for a client is confidential, as our work with you will be.

We'll sometimes make exceptions to this, but rarely. When we do, we'll trade references so that each of us can call the other party's references.

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How would you describe the ideal ReCourses client?

The ideal client...

  • Is facing a hurdle or transition that is significant to them. We usually picture this as something literally keeping them up at night, or maybe a sense that  there has been a role reversal and the business now thinks that the principal is the bitch, rather than the business existing to serve the principal.
  • Is hiring us primarily because of our expertise (it's unparalleled in the field) and not our bedside manner (a mix of Gregory House and Simon Cowell).
  • Is willing to let us (1) decide which symptoms are relevant; (2) diagnose the problem accurately; (3) and suggest the best solutions that can lead to real change but minimizes disruption as much as possible.
  • Is willing to be engaged from the very beginning, listening and reading with intense focus, and then jumping into implementation with gusto (and a mix of exhilaration and terror). We're here to help, but we don't do "needy" or "helpless" very well.
  • Has no hesitation about our fee against the background of the possible impact on their firm, and submits it promptly without reminder. They do so because they know, subconsciously or otherwise, that not hiring us will be much more expensive than doing so.
  • Is open to a different perspective, though likely testing each piece of advice rather than accepting it blindly.

The vast majority of our clients are ideal clients, and we are very grateful for them. They are smart, funny, hard-working, and really care. It has been a fantastic ride. They have enabled us to build a thought-leading consulting practice, and there is no feeling quite like being part of lasting change on their behalf. We have a folder with notes of unsolicited "Thanks" and currently there are more than 750 of them!

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Speaking of expectations, can you explain further what mine should be?

Our work is not a panacea. What clients appreciate the most, though, is an outside perspective on how they are really doing (without pulling any punches), or how to accomplish something without reinventing the wheel. They realize that change is still dependent on them, but they want to be pointed in the right direction based on what has been successful for other firms. We will never know as much about your firm as you do, but we will likely know more about your firm than any other consultant that you work with.

Sometimes we picture this as you standing in a thick fog, not even knowing all the options, much less which one might make the most sense. Because this is famililar ground, we'll walk towards you, grab your hand, and safely lead you out into a place where you can see.

The solutions are not formulaic. On one hand, we are not very likely to see something new in each engagement, but we've seen hundreds of different elements and what's unique is not the elements themselves but how clients have combined them into their own unique form of dysfunction! So your situation will require a unique answer, which is sort of like pulling just a few—but the correct—tools from a very large toolbox.

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