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Billing Unnecessary Time

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I was walking a CEO through a difficult termination, and he accused me of wanting to bill additional time unnecessarily. In fact, I was simply looking after his best interests. His comment angered me, and I sent him this letter. Susan Wrobleski was the person to be terminated.


During our phone call yesterday, you accused me of "milking your company" by wanting to meet to go over legal changes to Susan's contract.  I need to push back on you over that, because it is entirely inaccurate.

As you may have noticed, I have voluntarily stepped back from any involvement in your company.  With the exception of the Susan Wrobleski  issue, I'm not billing any more time, whatsoever.  This is what good consultants do-get in, make a contribution, and leave. Just the opposite of milking the company.

I accepted the work with Susan because I believe I can make a major difference in the outcome.  I've been through THOUSANDS of terminations, many handled badly, and none of my corporate clients has ever been sued.  I'd like to keep it that way.

You seem to feel that you have right on your side and you can move forward with a "take it or leave it" attitude in this matter. Susan feels pushed by you, even though the termination agreement gives her 21 days to sign, and 7 days to rescind.  While you have every right as the owner of your business to do anything you like, the consequences can be harsh, and could literally put you out of business.

On a scale of 1-10 in legal firepower, KDMA [the CEO's company] is a 3-4, and the employment law departments of HRO, Sherman & Howard, et. al.[big national law firms], are 9s.  It will cost you $10,000 to $15,000 in legal fees to open a complaint envelope from them.  If the case goes to trial, an award to Susan could go into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, or more.  I was in the courtroom recently, when an ex-employee was awarded $1.6 million in a case with less merit than hers.

Knowing the complexity of what you're dealing with right now, I don't think a lawsuit would benefit you.  The Susan Wrobleski case would not look good in front of a jury.

Therefore, my reason for wanting to meet with you to go over the proposed changes was not to milk you for more hours.  I want to help you keep a level, logical head through this, to make sensible decisions, and to walk away from it totally intact, so you can go forward with your business untroubled.

Let's continue to work together to put this difficult separation behind you.

William S. Frank

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William S. Frank, M.A.,
25 Reasons I love consulting.
by William S. Frank
  1. Brand. You are your own brand, and you can define it any way you want. For many years, I provided outplacement to the ex-employees of Schlumberger, the world's largest oilfield service corporation. When departing employees left the company, they didn't request outplacement in their severance package. They said, "I want Bill Frank."
  2. Demand. The world will always be full of terrible problems that need solving.
  3. White Hat. I can be a helper and get paid for it.
  4. Pay. I can be paid to do things I'd gladly do for nothing.
  5. Variety. Every day is different.
  6. Happiness. At this stage of my career, I only work for people I respect and care about. If a client micromanages me or is otherwise no fun, I complete the assignment and replace them.
  7. Talent. I'm using 110% of my talents and stretching myself to the max.
  8. Change. I can change my focus any day I want. If you're a McDonald's franchisee, you don't say, "Hey, I've got this great idea for a meatball sandwich—let's try it out today." In consulting you can adjust your focus hour-by-hour, as long as your clients still understand and appreciate what you do.
  9. Income. No one else would pay me as much as I pay myself.
  10. FUN. I can't think of anything I'd rather be doing.
  11. Retirement. I can write and consult as long as I am physically and mentally capable. Peter Drucker worked into his 90s, and when asked which book was his best, he said: "My next one."
  12. Job Security. Although clients come and go, no one can come into my office and say, "Pack up your stuff . . . You don't work here anymore." In 29 years, I've only had one employer: ME.
  13. Travel. I don't have to travel unless I decide to. I travel if it's both FUN and profitable—or at least FUN.
  14. Commute. I live five minutes from my office, a corner office in an upscale six-story tower. In winter, I leave a heated garage at home and drive to an underground heated garage at work. There's seldom time to hear even one song on the radio.
  15. Vacation. Consulting is more fun than vacation (except on Wailea Beach in Maui).
  16. Friends. I have developed hundreds of close acquaintances and several lifetime friends.
  17. Time. I can work as much or as little as I like: four-hour days or 18-hour days. (Of course, my income will reflect that.)
  18. Employees. I can work with employees, subcontractors, partners, or alone—I've done it all.
  19. Passive Income. I've developed several products that provide "mailbox money." I earn while I'm sleeping.
  20. Ethics. I've never had to violate my values or personal code of ethics. I've never had to lie, purposely deceive or harm others, or promise things I can't deliver. I go to bed with a clear conscience. That doesn't mean there's never any conflict. But the conflict is conducted according to generally accepted business practices.
  21. Virtual. My career is fairly portable. With the Internet, e-mail, cell phone, and FedEx, I can work nationally, even internationally from my office—or anywhere in the world.
  22. Purpose. I make a difference in peoples' lives every day. I see it in their faces, hear it in their voices, and read it in their thank-yous.
  23. Experience. Every painful or joyful life experience makes me a better consultant. So does every person I meet or book I read. Grey hair can be good in consulting.
  24. Structure. I have to work very hard, and the clients expect superb results—but I get to structure my days, weeks, months, and years.
  25. Boss. Most of the time, I love my boss.
As I was posting these letters online, I realized I want to communicate my love for consulting. It's just a great business. The single letters, taken together, may create a picture of enjoyment, but in a burst of creativity I listed some of the reasons consulting is such a good fit for me—and perhaps for you, too. They are not prioritized; this is just how they came out.