Magazine article Talent Development

Diary of a Consultant: David Steps Aside While His Other Partner, Wife Stacey, Shares Her Views on the Past Year

Magazine article Talent Development

Diary of a Consultant: David Steps Aside While His Other Partner, Wife Stacey, Shares Her Views on the Past Year

Article excerpt

A year in review...

For as long as David worked for someone else, he talked about owning his own business. When he was interviewed for the job with his prior firm, David was asked what his career aspirations were. Instead of talking about growing with the firm, David said his goal was to have his own consulting practice. David may wear the title consultant now, but I wished at the time he had checked with me before telling a company that was interested in hiring him that he was planning on leaving eventually. In spite of that, the company did hire him, and it was a productive relationship for it and David. The company figured out what to do with an instructional designer, and David internalized the elements he wanted to replicate in his own firm one day and identified those he'd discard.

He'd periodically grow restless, and we'd talk about whether the time was right for him (us) to take the mighty leap into business ownership. Invariably, fates would intervene and David would be offered a raise, a bonus, stock options, or some other reason to put starting anew on the back burner. I found ways to spend the added income, but I knew that was going to end at some point. When the decision was finally made for David and Jeff (their company let them go), it seemed unbelievable to me. All of the fear, excitement, and planning that seemed in the future became a reality.

As of June 2000, David and Jeff were in their own business. There wasn't going to be a reliable, steady paycheck. As much as we knew this day was coming, we really hadn't prepared financially. There was always next year to start saving for the hard times and always a onetime expense that wouldn't be a drain in years to come.

So, the pressure was on for Clow Zahn Associates to be a success from day 1. After many high-fives, rapid heartbeats waiting for the mail to bring overdue checks, and tears (rare) of frustration, CZA is successful. David often refers to it as "our" business and to the importance of my role, but I view it as his business. I've stayed away from the day-to-day activities, with the exception of once unknowingly passing a computer virus to his PC that generated emails to the entire database of clients.

So, we have a lot to talk about when we get together over dinner or after we put the kids to bed. We share the day's highlights and lowlights.

When David isn't traveling on assignment or at the office, he's in his basement office (a duplicate of his office one town away) in our house. That has required some adjustment from our boys and me. When the basement door is shut, we know to keep the noise down. When the door's open, I think it's because someone forgot to shut it. So, I'm constantly shutting the door and having to listen to the kids complain about not being able to visit their father. Complicating the matter, our cat can open the door by standing up and pulling on it with his paw. Consequently, I'm never sure if the door is supposed to be open or closed.

Now, we run the washing machine, dryer, and dishwasher late at night or early in the morning so they don't disrupt phone calls that may come in. David didn't ask me to do that, but I try to be considerate of his desire to sound professional on the phone and not have to compete with the sound of my canvas sneakers tumbling in the dryer. Fortunately, he goes on a lot of business trips, so I let the laundry pile up and do it when he's not around. …

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