As a quick recap from my last blog post: last month I'd asked people to share some 360-degree feedback with me, sharing an image that to them best conjured up the image of what it was that I do, and how I do it.
Responses included a platypus, shoe, Howard the Duck, and an inflatable Christmas tree amongst others, as well as a gif of me fixing railway tracks while the train is still running on them!
But while those were useful in helping me better understand how people view me and how I approach working with them, they don't help me understand what makes me different to the other consultants, trainers, advisers, and cake-eaters out there. Which is why I also openly asked people:
consultant of 2018', what do you think my ‘niche’ is?"
The general gist of comments seem to show that my niche isn't as typically definable as it might be for typical consultant-types (i.e. a niche in governance for large organisations; or a specialism for equity crowdfunding; and such like). It seems people see my 'niche' as being more to do with how I can take what appears to be complex and confusing amounts of knowledge, and translate them back into ways that mean others can better get to grips with things that are useful and relevant for them. It seems I also do this in ways that mean people are more confident in being able to work with this new leaning too.
And as with the pictures people shared, I'm encouraged by this - niches are usually defined by a specific type of knowledge or particular skill, yet I've always maintained that any of us can learn any knowledge or skill once we see the point and need for them (I had to resit my maths exam at school but subsequently managed and grew enterprise loan funds; support groups apply for investment; and deliver an accredited course in financial management!).
For me, it's the relationships we make and work through are more important if we're serious about being inspired and motivated by our values. It's also through the relationships we have that we're able to gather the support and encouragement we need to achieve our aspirations in the way we want to, and ultimately change the world in some way.
In the interests of transparency I've include a full set of the responses below - although despite it being listed on my LinkedIN profile as one of my professional skills people can endorse me for, no-one mentioned my expertise in eating cake...
As a final thought, I'd like to thank everyone who took the time to reply to my open call for suggestions (and for making sure I could repost all your comments without having to edit them for swearing!) - as with lots of other ways I approach how I work, this way of seeking 360-degree feedback as part of my CPD is unusual, but seem far more enjoyable for all of us than the usual questionnaire type forms.
All responses received in response to the question: Adrian's niche is...?
I have always said you are good at promoting yourself. I would definitely say that is a strength. Some people will criticise self-promotion, but relationships are everything if you’re a consultant and this must be an element of maintaining networks and relationships by having a presence and trying to stay in people’s minds?
You use props to get attention, to engage, to play, to make light to make things accessible and it's in a way comedy and fun. but there is so much behind everything you do, the preparation, the observation the analysis. You walk this line between entertainer and ridiculously intelligent and knowledgeable scholar. And I think your niche has always been being so accessible and yet inspiring with awe how much you know and how readily you admit to what you don't. You are you and you empower others to be the same! A rare gem!
The third sector expert
Making complex things simple. Also you are most definitely "The acceptable face of Accounting"
Your niche: early stage small businesses....especially those who are scared into inaction regarding their accounts and book keeping
You share information, spontaneously and generously / you have a creative approach to what you do / you have strong values and a focus on strengths / you really know your stuff, but wear your 'expert' hat lightly
I would say that your knowledge and understanding of the sector and in particular how to prove the impact we have is the main strength of yours. Your ability to work with a range of people at different levels is also a strength.
Your written blogs and so on which are always valuable and help us learn more and debate things we probably need to get to grips with.
Remarkable ability to raise awareness of the critical issues affecting SMEs and the entrepreneurs and freelancers who run them. You are also good with plastic Christmas Trees and fairy light decorations. You are a super hero of endeavour, with a good sense of humour, and untidy shelves, full of stuff...