Podcast

Episode: 140 |
Jay Martin:
Project List:
Episode
140

HOW TO THRIVE AS AN
INDEPENDENT PROFESSIONAL

Jay Martin

Project List

Show Notes

Our guest today is Jay Martin, who’s got over 25 years of management consulting experience, including time at Arthur D. Little and IBM Global Services and nearly 18 years as an independent consultant.

Jay has done a better job than anyone I’ve met at maintaining an exhaustive list of all his projects – the document is 18 pages long and includes the details on well over a hundred projects.

In this episode, Jay discusses how he started building this list and the benefits of keeping such a document.

To receive a copy of Jay’s project list, sign up for the weekly Unleashed email.

To learn more about Jay, visit his LinkedIn profile.

One weekly email with bonus materials and summaries of each new episode:

Will Bachman: Hey Jay, welcome to the show.
Jay Martin: Thank you, Will, appreciate it.
Will Bachman: So Jay, I have here in front of me a 16 page bio of you and, I got to say, it’s … I mean, I see bios and resumes from a lot of consultants, I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone who’s, you know, been as professional and thorough as you in putting together a really impressive bio. 16 pages, the first page here, you have the little kind of mini kind of bio at the top of the page, your employer history, and then the real meat of it is 15 pages of project descriptions where it’s sort of a one-paragraph project description organized by functions. So supply chain operations management, there’s, I don’t know, 10 or so, 15 projects there, and then you have like transportation logistics, procurement, sourcing and supplier management, product lifecycle management. So I’m really impressed and thanks for coming on the show. Tell me a little bit about, like, how you … I’d love to hear you use this document and how you maintain it.
Jay Martin: Okay. Well, thanks Will, I appreciate it. I would tell you that the document came about as a hybrid between the Arthur D. Little format, [inaudible 00:01:11] who was one of my bosses, and also [inaudible 00:01:14] who is the chairman of DCG of India, and what they used to have was they used to have a small paragraph in the beginning and then they would have dozens or hundreds of bullets of projects and then sort of a wrap-up section. After I went to IBM, IBM had a little bit of the same thing, but then they had a one-page, kind of historical background with respect to, you know, what companies you’ve worked at, just so clients could see them. So I would own up to that my bio is actually a combination of Arthur D. Little and IBMs, and then just that I’ve kept up over the last almost 25 years.
Jay Martin: Getting back to how do I use it. Now, one of the major uses of it is as a repository for everything I’ve done. I actually started my first real corporatey job 32 years ago. I was in a CAD/CAM robotics lab at Lee Height University and then … I was sort of a consultant back then. Over the years, and I’ve just recently done a count, I’ve worked for more than 100 temp companies in seven countries on four continents. As you get older, you begin to forget all of the things you’ve done, and the bio serves as a excellent repository to keep track of everything that I’ve done, and then it also has a couple other uses.
Jay Martin: One, when I run into people who I’m not sure what they want or what they might need, I would give them the full bio, the 16 pages, about to grow to 18 pages, by the way, because I’m putting the last couple of years in, and it comes across as a little obnoxious, but the thing it does, because the structure is, per your comment earlier, that it has, sort of, a functional section so that very quickly someone can look at the half a dozen different functional sections, whether it be supply chain, product development strategy, and they can go and see the types of projects and engagements that I’ve done.
Will Bachman: Yeah, and I’ll just interrupt there, Jay. To me, it doesn’t come across as obnoxious at all. It comes across, to me, as, you know, here’s someone who really is … kind of managing career and is, you know, investing just that little bit extra of keeping track of things and it’s sort of the meta messages, hey, just like I’m keeping track of stuff in my career and, you know, documenting it all, I’m going to apply that same kind of rigor and order to the project if I work with you. So it has this meta message of, you know, someone who’s really squared away, and it doesn’t come across to me as obnoxious at all. It kind of just lays out your experience, you know, by each functional area, so … and it’s just super credible, right? As opposed to just someone saying, you know, just being … provide two bullets or having a one or two page resume, it’s saying, you know, here’s the high-level one, but I’ve done all this stuff, and you can’t just make that up in a day, it’s really impressive.
Will Bachman: So you sometimes will send out the full bio and then sometimes it also makes it easy, if you don’t want to do that, for a specific project opportunity, you can quickly customize it.
Jay Martin: Yeah, and you’ve probably seen this, as you, you know, you approach me with the different things. Usually what I do is I either have a bio that I’ve done for something like that, for example, for something like food and beverage or automotive or aerospace, I already have done that for someone else, and so I can quickly send those out, but in other cases I look at what the requirements are. For example, you had a venture capital one for the food and beverage industry. I would go back into my full bio, and it’s usually a two step process, actually three step.
Jay Martin: First thing is I cut out anything that I don’t think is relevant. Then, I look at the length of it and then I say to myself okay, I’m trying to get down to five or six pages usually. Then, I’ll take the five or six pages and I’ll start sorting them by A, B, and C, which ones do I want to bring to the top, which ones do I want to put in the middle, and it is important to get the exact order right, but it is important too, especially when you’re asking somebody to look at five pages, to bring the most relevant ones forward to kind of give them a taste of here are the most relevant things that you’re looking for. The third thing I do is I go back then and look at the length of the document, say okay, any of the Cs that I want to cut out, do I want to get it down to four pages, am I fine to leave it at five or six? I would tell you, I almost never get below four pages, it’s usually at least four to six. I almost never do more than six. And then, literally within 15 to 20 minutes, I can send the person who’s requesting it a perfectly tailored bio to what they’re looking for to best present my qualifications for whatever assignment they have.
Will Bachman: Some people might ask how do you approach the task of cutting it by function or by industry? So it seems that you’ve cut yours mostly by functional areas, so you’ll have like one category would be, I don’t know, supply chain management, right?
Jay Martin: Yeah.
Will Bachman: But it might be across different industries. Did you ever think about having kind of a second section where you’ve organized it by industry or how do you find industry specific examples if you [crosstalk 00:05:56] …
Jay Martin: Great question by the way. So I only sort it by function for the master bio. For the specific opportunities, I do it by industry all the time. So, for example, the one I just gave you, food and beverage, I would go into my master bio and I would go through it. Well, I usually start at the bottom. I start at the bottom and I go up and I say okay, keep, keep, delete, keep, keep, keep, and I pretty much keep anything that might be relevant to that industry, either from the industry or from a related industry.
Jay Martin: For example, for food and beverage, I might keep a food retailer or I might keep a pharmaceutical, as a highly regulated environment, might appeal to that client. Then, when I get down to the final ordering, in some cases I bring non-functional projects that are in the same industry forward above non-industry, same functional stuff. So that’s pretty much a judgment call when I’m doing the final, but I don’t keep a by industry bio, just because I’ve found that it’s not really that useful, right?
Jay Martin: One of my goals is to have a single document that I’m managing, and I would tell you, even that’s hard, right? I’m literally putting in all the projects I’ve done for the last two years in now, and even that takes a while to remember all the details and figure out how I’m going to word it in that, so I try not to maintain multiple documents.
Will Bachman: Yeah, that can be tricky. So you’ll typically kind of, you know, make an update to this every year or two, as opposed to trying to, you know, every time you finish a project, go and add the bullet for that one.
Jay Martin: Pretty much. I would say every year or two I’ll go in and I’ll write down every client that I worked with since I redid it the last time, and then it’ll take me … So I started this probably a month ago, it’ll take me … you know part-time, it’ll take me a couple of months to get around to digging up all the stuff, figuring out all the projects. Like I had a client that I worked at that hired me for two projects and had me engaged on 15. Alright, so the question of which ones of those 15 are worthy of a bullet and which ones I can combine, that actually is a lot of work. And the great thing is, once the work is done, you have access to that, you don’t have to rewrite it. One of the other things that I have I don’t want to deviate too much into is I also have a text file of groups of five, six, eight bullets so, in addition to a bio, I can quickly go to automotive or aerospace, something like that, and then pop out a list of bullets to drop into an email then to attach to the bio as well.
Will Bachman: And do you anywhere keep track of the actual client names because that’s been sanitized from this. So how do you kind of keep track of all … just the clients that you served?
Jay Martin: I originally had two bios, one that had the client names in parentheses, and I decided that was too much work and so I’ve moved that to Excel for a couple reasons. One, to keep track of everything, and two, so I can have the count. So once I got over 100 clients, that was like real exciting so … You know, a client I was just on of ours in Canada, you know, I told them, and I’m pretty sure it was either the 108th or the 110th client. I keep track of that in Excel because you’ll find, once you start this process, if you’ve got more than 20 years experience, you’ll forget.
Jay Martin: I mean, there was probably things that you did 15 and 20 years ago that, you know, were only a couple week projects. I worked for Arthur D. Little, and I remember one time it was in 1996 in January, I worked on eight different clients in one week. I had a bunch of active projects, I had a bunch of major proposals, and so when you’re involved in that many smaller things, a lot of these things will escape you.
Jay Martin: Now, people who work at big-four firms, you know, they go work on a Monday through Thursday gig for two years, right? But for those of us in the strategy consulting, and also have been on our own, keeping track of all the different little projects and little clients is hard, but again, once you sit down in the beginning and put it all in a single document, and get your arms wrapped around it, you have the access to that for the rest of your career.
Will Bachman: Yeah. So I was certainly super impressed by this and, by the way, you mentioned before we started recording here, that you were okay with actually including a link to download this in the show notes, right? So that’s awesome. So, in the show notes, if you want to actually see Jay’s bio, you can click on the link, so thanks for that. So you know that I think this is awesome, what sort of feedback have you received from people that you send it to?
Jay Martin: I always like to use and example, not just from myself, I get very positive reactions. So [inaudible 00:10:29], who was my former boss at Arthur D. Little, I always use him as an example. He had, I believe, 700 projects in a Excel file with 700 lines, and what he would do is, we would get a project, this is a real example, the Port of Caracus was asking us to help them privatize and so we called up [inaudible 00:10:45] and [inaudible 00:10:46] called a secretary and said key bullet 86, bullet 143, bullet 283, and she deletes everything else and comes back with a one or two page perfect bio and the client gets it and they think oh my god, this is the perfect person, and so I always think of that example. That was a real example by the way.
Jay Martin: I always think of that example as to what the motivation to keep this is, because the client gets my three or four page bio and they think Jay Martin’s the guy, right? And it’s two things. One, it’s to convince them that I’m the guy. The second thing is, from a standpoint yourselves and other people, they know if they reach out to me, that I’m going to get them something perfectly or close to perfectly tailored within an hour, and I would tell you it never takes me more than an hour. One, from a business development efficiency standpoint, it’s an excellent tool to use, and two, from a credibility and selling standpoint, it very much allows you to present yourself on the best foot with respect to the most relevant things, both from a functional standpoint in an industry, or other things that you think the client might be impressed with.
Will Bachman: Jay, this is fantastic. It’s definitely something that, you know, every consultant, whether you’re an independent consultant or working at a big firm, ought to be maintaining, and thanks for being willing to share actually your copy of it and thanks for coming on the show.
Jay Martin: Excellent, thank you. And people are welcome to reach out and contact me at my email, jmartin.dfw@gmail.com, and that’s DFW like Dallas/Fort Worth. Thanks very much, Will, I appreciate it.
Will Bachman: Man, you must love flying, dude. Like DFW, the airport. Hey Jay, thanks a lot for joining.
Jay Martin:

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