TOM CRITCHLOW

The Active Advisor

Creating momentum

“I like working with you” my client said, “because you’re not afraid to roll up your sleeves”

This moment was pivotal for my consulting journey. It’s why

“I think were we’re at is looking for junior folks more on the execution level but can definitely keep thinking on how best to work together.”

Consulting is a loaded term. And somet

For startups:

  • GTM
  • Finding product market fit
  • Building growth loops
  • Positioning
  • Strategy planning, OKRs, building reporting internally

For executives:

  • Articulation and positioning for key projects
  • Building businesses case for projects
  • Extending influence and the work around the work
  • Setting strategy, vision and communicating ideas
  • Sizing growth opportunities
  • BBuilding process
  • Assessing capabilities

https://www.howardgray.net/2023/12/19/strategy-execution-the-creative-producer/

Lead with a story about being uncomfortable as an advisor?

There are many situations where companies don’t have the budget or the bandwidth for a full consulting engagement. In these situations it’s tempting to reach for a coaching or advisor model. Something like “a one hour phone call every other week”.

I don’t like this model so I’ve built a new model that works better. It’s called being an active advisor.

A good advisor creates clarity and creates momentum. A bad advisor confuses and slows.

Typically “ideas” is not what you want. You want clarity and momentum. The ability to get shit done, and to help everyone understand what needs to be done. Clarity and momentum.

Consulting Is Not Smooth

Working with companies it’s not linear, there are moments where lots happens. Chronos and Kairos.

The Model of Active Advising

Here are the principles that I find works:

  1. Go to the work. Beyond just talk - open the doc, fire up analytics, get in the work.
  2. Get close enough for context. One phone call a week doesn’t give enough context and you don’t want to spend the time
  3. Room to ramp up and down. The engagement shouldn’t be billed hourly to enable fluid ramp up/down for context

Because of this:

  • Fixed price to enable burst / ramp up/down without negotation
  • Regular cadence (e.g. weekly meeting or weekly standup)
  • Access to slack or other chat platform for rapid async

Example:

What started with DoubleLoop as simple “advising” became much more hands on at critical moments e.g. bulding their new website in Framer.

Epic

Reviews.com


Anyway, I’m prototyping this kind of “active advisor” role for $6-8k / month. Ping me if you want to try it out.

This is kind of a standard model but it doesn’t work for me.

But there are many si

“There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.”

“Poker is hours and hours of boredom, punctuated by moments of sheer terror.”

I’ve been called many things: consultant, growth advisor, coach, partner,

As gig work gets more popular there is increasingly codified approaches to the types of gig work:

Freelancer consultant advisor fractional interim

The “Expertise as a Service” Spectrum

Fractional Executive roles fall somewhere between Advisors and Interim Executives — leaders who work at a company for a set duration of time. They are all former operators, founders, or executives with specific expertise, and often move along this spectrum.

And here’s a great interview with Elena Verna: https://medium.com/@s16vc/elena-verna-how-to-leverage-advising-for-the-growth-of-your-company-3662bcd6180e

Let’s complicate this a little more because I don’t think it’s so clear cut. Maybe the reality is something a bit more like this:

2x2

Actually - let’s complicate this even more because a typical consulting project might span several years and vary across all of the map!!

In one “consulting” engagement I might fluctuate between:

  • An hour long phone call once a week
  • 4 days in the office leading a team
  • Attending quarterly executive meetings

Here’s the rub though: these labels don’t map very well to the lived experience of doing independent work for companies.

There’s more transition, more gray area more nuance and so on.

Active Advising

In my work I’ve floated across the whole spectrum

The active advisor.

Where we don’t just talk - we do.

Move the conversation to where the work is.

Is there some analogy for how momentum doesn’t happen eavenly?

DoubleLoop -> advisory + spikey burst of videos etc Finder -> advisory + spikey projects

(spike is an agile PM term?)

Draw the visual