Ted Cline's Consulting Success Story

I'm Bill Frank, Founder of CareerLab, and author of this story. At age 48, Ted Cline had achieved a major milestone in his career as Director of Information Systems for Rose Medical Center in Denver, Colorado. As a result of his leadership, Rose Medical Center was named one of the top 25 hospital IT organizations in the country by a national trade group. However, that didn't guarantee Ted's employment, and he was laid off in a corporate reorganization, the first of many to beset the hospital.

His company sent him to CareerLab for outplacement, and we met in my office. After getting to know Ted, I told him we could find him another high-level corporate job in another hospital. However, the entire healthcare industry was undergoing continuous, ongoing radical change: Mergers, acquisitions, cutbacks, and layoffs. I was afraid that if Ted took another corporate job he'd be vulnerable to another layoff within six months to a year.

I suggested repositioning his career so that he could consult to the industry but not be stuck in any one company. The benefits for that are numerous: for one thing, it cuts out some of the corporate politics. For another, it gives you a flexible schedule and freedom to choose which assignments to take. Finally, if handled right, it gives you higher pay. In Ted's case, each of these benefits came true.

Ted was suspicious of this consulting model. It seemed foreign to him, but he agreed that he'd be highly vulnerable in another corporate job. That motivated him to give consulting a try.

Over several months, we put together marketing materials and a business plan. Although Ted completed his assignments for us, underneath he was suspicious of our marketing ideas and methods. To his credit, he persisted in the process, and together we breathed new life into his career. He renewed friendships with friends, business acquaintances, and past employers, and quickly found a demand for his services. Within six months he had replaced his former salary—and soon eclipsed it.

Ted wanted to be a sole practitioner. Although he had been a superb, well-liked manager, he didn't want the headaches of supervising others. In addition, he wanted the freedom to take his wife with him on business trips, and to partner with her as Administrative Assistant on consulting projects—which he did.

I met Ted in 1994. Since then he's had some long, high-paying engagements, and some time for fun in-between. At one point he took off several months make major renovations to his home. Consulting is sometimes a good option for business warriors who have tired of the corporate structure, or who are forced out in mergers, acquisitions, reorganizations, and downsizings. Here are Ted's comments in his own words.


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