How did You Get Started In Consulting? (long version)

This is the introduction to a series of valuable and short videos on consulting done as an interview between Rocco Luongo, founder and coach at GoRocco.Pro and Jason Bell, a seasoned leader with a long career. At the time of this interview, Jason was finishing up his Master’s degree in Organizational Development and exploring options for developing consulting as a next-stage career choice.

In this video Jason and I discuss how I got into consulting, from which industry I came to consulting from (engineering) and my definition of a coach vs. a consultant. This longer version of the video also digs deeper into my education, both undergrad in New Hampshire and my master’s work in Germany, along with some additional detail of my start-up experience and development as a leader and manager.  Full transcript follows:

 

Transcript of Video

 

Jason Bell: Well thank you Rocco I appreciate your

time today.

 

Rocco Luongo: My pleasure.

 

JB:  Awesome so we’ll pretend we haven’t

known each other for 20 years and like

it’s a more of a brand new interview

okay but very excited to hear your

insights today on the field of

consulting and to get started why don’t

you tell us a little bit about yourself

your background how you got into this.

 

RL:  Okay well my name is Rocco I got into

consulting through an engineering

background.  I did my undergraduate in New

Hampshire and sold a table saw to the

right guy. I had to swing a lot of hammers and

build houses to pay for undergraduate

so I sold the table saw to the director

of a subsidiary of a German

manufacturing firm that had just

recently opened in New Hampshire right

next to my apartment and he offered me

an internship.  He liked the technical way

that I described a table saw, so at first

I thought yeah sounds cool but

internship sounds like free work and when

he came back in to pick it up he

asked how come I hadn’t sent him my

resume and I said well because it sounds

like free work I’d really like to . . . but.  He

says no it’s not free we pay pretty well

and when I talked to him about it, it

actually paid twice what I was making at

the hardware store so I immediately sent

him a resume and was working there in a

couple weeks. It was really fun so

then that took me to Germany.  When I

moved to Germany, I hadn’t finished my

degree when the whole rest of the group

went so they put me into a different

program where I was able to do my

masters while I was working in Germany

and I started managing right off the bat.

 

So, I didn’t really speak the language

and so I had to start managing people

directly.  An engineer at a big company in

Germany is a de facto manager I had a

couple of drafts people working under me

and also, because I was in product

development, it was up to me to manage

people from other departments

whether it’s sensors, flow control,

infrared imagery, slow motion camera

whatever it would be,

so there was always a management

component but I didn’t speak the

language and so I

learned early on in my career to manage

by listening.

 

So I listened really intently and I think that

quality has helped me dramatically throughout

my career and especially being a good coach

and consultant in that because I never

had the language tools early in my

management I never had the compulsion, or

frankly never the ability to just talk

too much to my people.  I just let them

talk and tell me what they were going to

do and that may well have been a very

good skill to have learned early.

 

I also learned German fluently while I

was there, as you know, and from there left

Germany was recruited by a spin-off of

WSU that’s Washington State University a

spin-off of their technology they

brought me in to help commercialize it

because I had a patent in pneumatics and

acoustics and mass production and so

they wanted that kind of help with this

product.

 

That product was really fun, we

ended up raising 180 million dollars in

that company and commercialized a different

version of the product. From there I spun

off my engineering and management

consultancy and I do sort of mix of

consulting in general for product

development, I also do some technical

engineering work most of that now is

checking high level calculation, product

strategies and how it aligns with

manufacturing, and expert witness work.

 

I just recently in the last two

two-and-a-half no, no longer now, three

years branded a separate entity out of

my company specifically for business

coaching, allowing me to reach down into

other fields and it’s been really fun.

I’ve enjoyed it, I’ve learned a lot and I

draw the distinction between coaching

and consulting like this: if you hire me

to coach you because you want to become

a great marathon runner – I don’t run laps

for you.  I help you accountability, I

help you set up programs, I give you new

perspectives, I work with your motivation.

We deal with the human aspect of maybe

blockers why you’re not getting the

things done that you already know you

should be doing, but I don’t run laps for

you.  Consulting is all of that plus I

contribute specific, actionable, tactical

skills as well and so that’s the rough

way I draw a line between those

things and that’s how I work in my

business.

 

JB:  That’s a great distinction.

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