Interview by David Powe, write-up by Ruth E. Thaler-Carter
RPCN charter member Dan Hedberg celebrated a milestone - turning "75 years old or young" - on the day he responded to a request for his recollections of the founding of the organization 25 years ago.
"Five to seven of us, mostly early retirees from Kodak, Xerox and Bausch and Lomb, met at an event at the Industrial Management Council (IMC) and got to talking about the number of early retirements that were occurring and what would be happening over the next few years," Hedberg recalled. "Most of us were looking to make connections and look into other kind of work or service. We also suspected that many more would be in this same boat as we were - wondering what the next chapter was."
For the RPCN founders, the question was whether there was "life after the 'big box factory' and what would it be - another job or starting a business or consulting or something else," Hedberg said. "None of us was quite ready for the rocking chair, so we decided to meet on a regular basis, at different people's houses, to discuss this opportunity. We all felt strongly that we ought to form some sort of group that could help people primarily coming out of the Big 3 to make the transition into their next chapter." RPCN was the result.
Deciding to find a place that was bigger than a home and could accommodate a large number of people, the group "eventually ended up at Brighton Town Hall for regular monthly meetings," he said. "We did some strategic planning and put together some information about ourselves - a brochure to explain what the group was all about - and each of us started to apply our expertise to the newly formed organization called the Rochester Professional Consultants Network (RPCN)."
Having worked as an organizational development consultant at Kodak, Hedberg focused on training packages to help those who wanted to go into consulting work. He was very active in the early days. As his business picked up, he slowly phased out of RPCN.
Hedberg has had a lengthy, successful career as a consultant. "Over the past 25 years, I formed, launched and operated my consulting business as Monad Associates and worked as a leadership consultant in the Rochester area," he said. "Leadership is my passion. I've worked with many businesses, educational institutions, health care institutions and government agencies throughout the Greater Rochester region. For a number of years, I was a facilitator for some training programs at IMC and now with the Rochester Business Alliance (RBA) and currently Leadership Greece."
Nowadays, Hedberg is slowly phasing out of the consulting business, not that he's slowing down much. "I'm playing more and more golf, traveling to different places and spending time with family and friends," he said. "I've been a Greece Rotarian for 13 years; a board member with Camp Haccamo, in connection with the Sunshine Campus - working with kids and young adults having special needs; and heavily involved in many projects with my church (Our Mother of Sorrows)."
Asked about the key to success for colleagues, Hedberg emphasized "networking and making connections," something where his RPCN involvement was a huge factor. "These are key in growing a business, especially a consulting business," he said. He sums up what he learned from his RPCN and business experiences as: "Be positive, patient and persistent with your work and always be proactive while being focused."
Hedberg's advice to colleagues who are still in the consulting role is to "continue honing your expertise, whatever it is. Learn as much as you can about the 5 Ws and H of consulting: What, Why, Who, When, Where and How. Develop a List of Masters for yourself - connections to the five to seven gurus in your field of expertise whom you continue to learn from." His gurus for the leadership niche would be Peter Block, W. Edwards Deming, Peter Senge, Stephen Covey, John Bennet, John Kotter, James Kouzes and Barry Posner.
Hedberg recommends Flawless Consulting by Peter Block as a valuable resource for those still building their consulting businesses. He still has some training packages on consulting that he would be happy to share, along with more than 250 summaries of management and leadership books that he would be willing to share with anyone who might be interested. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (585) 865-1453.