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December 2018

A monthly newsletter from the Rochester Professional Consultants Network.

President's Letter

My message this month is to remind everyone that we have a wonderful Holiday Party lined up for Tuesday, December 11, at Lillian’s on Penfield Road.  It’s a terrific night of food and camaraderie. Check the website for details and to make your reservation.

The next exciting thing I’m pleased to announce is the theme for our conference in 2019 entitled, The Power of Collaboration.  Stay tuned to this space for more details and to find out with who we are going to collaborate to make this a memorable event. 

The very best to you and your family in this joyous holiday season.

Joyce Curran, President
and the Board of RPCN

It’s not too late to sign up for the RPCN Holiday Party!

Been putting off registering for the RPCN Holiday Party? It’s not too late to sign up. Registration closes on Wednesday, December 5, 2018, so visit our website and plan on joining RPCN as we celebrate the holiday season!

Our annual  Holiday Party will be held on Tuesday, December 11, 2018, at Lillian’s, 2200 Penfield Rd (corner of Rtes. 441 & 205) in Penfield. 

We start at 6:00 p.m. with cocktails (cash bar) and a delicious buffet dinner. Our buffet consists of Chef Carved Certified Angus Roast Beef, Chicken French, Garden Vegetables, Rice Pilaf, Baked Penne Pasta, Fresh Salad Greens, Homemade Rolls & Butter, Sherbet, and Coffee & Tea.

The event costs $25 for RPCN members and $30 for non-members. Register here by Wednesday, December 5, 2018.

Alumni News

RPCN former members have won back-to-back 2017 & 2018 American Chemical Society Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. Mike Molaire was an active RPCN Board member. Ken Reed was a graduate of the RPCN Consulting Business Boot Camp.

The Rochester Business Journal links are below.

Mike Molaire (2018)

"The Rochester section of the American Chemical Society next week will honor a Rochester business owner with its 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Michel Franz Molaire founded Molecular Glasses Inc. in 2015, following nearly four decades at Eastman Kodak"

Ken Reed (2017)

"An Eastman Kodak Co. alum and serial entrepreneur has been selected as the 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year by the Rochester Section of the American Chemical Society. He spent three decades in Kodak research laboratories."

Got a message or an idea?

We have been thinking about inviting a more broad representation of the membership to share their expertise and knowledge or make recommendations for topics and speakers. SO consider the following questions:

  • Have you identified a topic that we seem to have missed in our offerings?
  • Have you been to a presentation or a conference where a presenter did such a good job, that you believe RPCN should hear him or her?
  • Have you been so inspired by a topic but you thought you could better?
  • Would you like to cover a topic of your own?  

If you answered yes to any of these questions, as a member, RPCN may be the place to make your suggestion, recommend a speaker or a topic, or try out your material.  

Make your hour in the sun, the best it can be. To hone your speaking skills and develop your story-telling talent, we’ll even give you feedback as you compose your presentation, slides, and speech.  

While you’re thinking about it, check out the speaker guidelines here.

Drop us a line at or if you have a topic ready to go, fill out the form here.

Hope to see you at the podium at an upcoming RPCN presentation.

Here’s to your success!

Michael Van der Gaag, RPCN Program Chair

Consultants Don’t Have the Answers
(They Have the Questions)

by Bob Lurz

We expect consultants to have “The Right Answers” to our problems. Instead, we should first expect them to have “The Right Questions”. Clients look to consultants to analyze problems, find solutions, etc. But, before making proposals or giving advice, good consultants won’t jump to conclusions. First, they’ll:

  • Ask clients investigative questions. 
  • Probe and listen carefully for underlying facts and reasons.
  • Use a client’s answers to build a reality-based approach that meets the client’s real needs.

Caution: The “right” questions are critical, especially when clients are misled by their own assumptions about the cause of their problem. They think they need a specific expertise for a solution - that’s why they call in a consultant with those skills. 

Example: A company has high employee-turnover, costing $100K per year just to recruit and onboard new people (plus costly interruptions in the workflow). To reduce turnover, they call in a team-building consultant to train employees to work collaboratively. They assume this will make employees feel engaged and valued as part of the organization (and not leave the company). 

It’s tempting for a consultant to just implement the requested training program. But, before making a proposal, this consultant first asks the potential client:

  • When did the problem start? Is turnover increasing or decreasing?
  • What is the impact? (Costs? Work interruptions? Low morale? Increased training? etc.)
  • How many people have resigned? What is the percentage of voluntary vs. involuntary separation? 
  • What have you done to reduce turnover? What were the results?
  • What is the most probable cause of your high turnover?
  • What do supervisors say about why employees leave? 
  • What have those who voluntarily left the company given as their reason for leaving?  

Next, the consultant interviews employees and supervisors, and finds that a major reason for the turnover is supervision’s dictator-type management style (starting at the top). So, instead of first doing team-building training, the consultant proposes a project that will aim to change management’s behaviors (to be more participative, respectful and empowering).  

It would have been easy to just train the employees in team-building, and “take the money and run”. But, the consultant asked the right questions to get at the cause of the client’s problem, then made recommendations that best fit the client’s situation. (Good consultants do this, even if they are not the right consultant to implement the solution). 

Another Caution: Some consultants can be blinded by their own success and expertise. When invited by a potential client, there can be an unconscious temptation (bias) for consultants to view the situation as something that can be “cured” by applying their “specialty”. (An old adage: “If all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail”). 

Conclusion: Consultants must ask good questions, listen and probe deeply enough to reveal underlying issues (and put their biases aside when interviewing and analyzing answers). Clients must ensure that consultants ask the right questions to reach objective conclusions and recommendations.

So, to get the “Right Answers”, consultants and clients must ask the “Right Questions”

RPCN Video

Watch the new introductory video here.

RPCN Podcast

To listen to an RBJ podcast in which RPCN's David Powe and Laurie Enos talk about our great organization, click here.

Upcoming RPCN Events

Visit our website to register for any of these events.

Technical Forum
Friday, Dec. 7, 2018
8:00 - 9:30 a.m. 
Pittsford Community Library

3 Cures for the 800 lb. Phone Syndrome
Presented by Larry Berger
Friday, Dec. 14, 2018
8:00 - 9:30 a.m.
Five Star Bank, Citygate

Business Forum
Friday, Dec. 21, 2018
8:00 - 9:30 a.m. 
Pittsford Community Library

RPCN Board Meeting
Everyone is welcome to attend.
Friday, Dec. 21, 2018
10:00 a.m. - Noon
Pittsford Community Library

There will not be a meeting on Friday, December 28th due to the holidays.

Of Interest

RocGrowth Coffee
December 7, 2018
7:30 - 9:00 a.m.
Carlson Cowork
FREE. Register to attend.

Need to save money for retirement?
3 quick tips to help.

1. Live below your means but within your needs.

2. Test your spending, Is this a need or a want?

3. Get as much pleasure out of savings as you do with spending.

Tina Rohring, Financial Services Professional 

Help Wanted!

RPCN is looking for a volunteer Barista to be responsible for managing the morning coffee operation when we hold events at Five Star Bank. The position involves managing the supplies, brewing the coffees, and cleaning up after the meetings. You would need to be at Five Star at 7:30 am twice per month and be able to stay for cleanup until approximately 9:45 am. This would be a great experience for someone interested in understanding their clients in the foodservice industry. If you are interested, please contact Bob Manard at

Program Ad Sheets

At every RPCN meeting, and at our events and tradeshow booths, RPCN distributes the Program Ad sheets.

Ads are inexpensive and support RPCN. The cost for members to advertise is $20 for 2 months. For non-members, the cost is $40 for 2 months. The deadline to get your ad included in the January/February 2018 calendar ad sheet is Tuesday, December 11, 2018. Sign up for your ad here.

Sponsor an RPCN Meeting

Would you like to promote your business at RPCN meetings? You can do this by sponsoring an RPCN meeting. 

As a meeting sponsor, you will choose a Friday to bring donuts (or other morning goodies) for 30 people to the RPCN meeting of your choosing. RPCN will provide the coffee (included in your fee).

Benefits of being a Meeting Sponsor:

• The sponsor will get up to 3 minutes to talk about your business to the audience before the presentation starts at the RPCN meeting.
• Your logo will be on display at the refreshment table to acknowledge your sponsorship.
• Your logo will be displayed on the page of the event that you choose to sponsor. Your logo will have a link back to your website.
• With enough advance notice, we will also place your logo on the RPCN calendar ad sheet next to the date you chose. The RPCN calendar ad sheet is distributed to all attendees at each of our weekly meetings.

Click here to register at least 2 weeks prior to the date you want to sponsor.

New members

RPCN welcomes the following new members:

Mark Fling

Not an RPCN member? You can join RPCN now to receive great benefits, including free admission to RPCN presentations, a listing in the RPCN Member Directory, and discounts to RPCN events. Click here for more information on joining RPCN.

We want you!

The RPCN newsletter welcomes news, success stories, tips, resources, events and other items that would be of broad interest to consultants. Submit a newsletter item to for inclusion. 

Steve Royal, Publisher
Melanie Watson, Project Manager 
Diana Robinson, Copyeditor

Please send content for the September newsletter by November 28th, 2018.

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