The Consulting Thing – Part III

By Lyle R. Hill

To be totally candid, I wasn’t quite sure how these “Consulting Thing” articles would be received. After all, who am I to be telling anyone how to run their business or their personal lives for that matter? But to my pleasant surprise, they’ve been well received and have even generated several comments. And not just ordinary comments either, but comments from some very bright and influential industry leaders. People like Tom O’Malley, Don Keller, John Wakefield, Art Langston, John Keating, Heather
Crews and Doug Studt sent e-mails, and others called to encourage me to
keep up this Consulting Thing series. A few of them even sent in suggestions.
One, from Doug Studt, was “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.” That’s pretty good, but of course you would not expect anything less from Doug. He’s a very bright guy. John Wakefield, also a very bright guy, took exception to a couple of my suggestions, but he’s from Arizona so I ignored him … all that sun and heat does stuff to you. With all of this in mind, I’ve decided to add one final round to this series thing and then I will move on. Here we go …

1. Always Tell the Truth … and I do not mean “half-truths,” which are often as bad as lies. A reputation for honesty will take you a long way. Remember this saying by George Bernard Shaw … “The liar’s punishment is not in the least that he is not believed, but that he cannot believe anyone else.” Good stuff there!

2. Always Maintain YOUR Control and Composure … In other words,
keep it professional (KIP) at all times. I know there are times when you would like to scream at someone or maybe even smack them in the face, but never let yourself get to that point. When you lose control of yourself, you have lost any chance of controlling the situation.

3. Keep Pedaling … my father, Lyle Alvin, knew more cute little sayings
and platitudes than anyone I’ve ever known. When I was a kid, one of his
favorites was “the only time you can coast is when you’re going downhill.” I
quickly responded with the concept of coasting on level ground with a brief
explanation of the laws of inertia to which he simply replied, “you know
kid, sometimes I worry about what’s going to become of you.” By the way,
Lyle Alvin was the kindest and most honest man I ever knew. I had great respect for him.

4. Don’t Waste Your Time … on bad people, bad customers or bad suppliers. My good friend John Luckett has a saying that he often puts at the bottom of his correspondence that says “I don’t regret my past, I just regret the time I spent with the wrong people.” That’s priceless!

5. Enjoy Life … and if you are not enjoying your job, quit and try another
one. Like now!!!

6. Chase a Goose Every Now and Then … a wild goose that is. You might be surprised at how it turns out. There have been probably eight to ten times in my life when I went after something where the odds were incredibly against having any success. But it all came out quite well. As I type this, my son, Patrick, and I are chasing a bit of a wild one and I think we’re going to get it. It will be a good reminder to me and a good lesson for him. Also, even if nothing is caught, sometimes the chase is worth the fun.

7. Make the Call … be a decision-maker. Often a bad decision is better than no decision because the sooner you find out something you’ve decided to try isn’t going to work out the way you thought it would, the sooner you can move on to the next possible solution. I really don’t like dealing with indecisive people. They will burn you out in no time.

8. Expectations … try to manage the expectations of everyone you deal
with—and of course your own. Be honest, forthright and, most of all, do
what you say you are going to do. Under promise … over deliver.

9. The Extra Mile … another of Lyle Alvin’s sayings was “you’ll never find
much traffic on the extra mile.” Actually, I think he used to say “you’ll never
find a traffic jam on the extra mile,” but either way, you get the picture. There were times when I used to think he was a little wacky, and maybe he was. But for a guy with only a ninth grade education, he was probably one of the wisest men I ever knew.

10. Read Ecclesiastes … in part two of this consulting series thing, I suggested you read the twentieth book of the Bible’s Old Testament (Proverbs) and nobody complained or criticized me for this, so I will push the envelope one more time and now suggest you read the twenty-first book which is Ecclesiastes. I read this book (which will take you 15- 20 minutes or so) at least twice a year. Good for my mind and my soul.

Okay … done with the consulting thing. Thanks for reading and now please go live your life!

Lyle R. Hill is the managing director of Keytech North America, a company providing research and technical services for the glass and metal industry. He also serves as president of Hill has more than 40 years’ experience in the glass and metal industry and can be reached at

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