Staple Yourself

Alan Webber (of Fast Company fame) found a new use for HBS Professor Ben Shapiro’s “staple yourself to an order” concept: applying it to solve social problems that plague us. Think about eliminating hunger, homelessness and child abuse in our time. He’s got some great ideas well worth a look.

But why limit yourself to social issues? Your consulting, advisory or coaching practice could benefit from stapling yourself to a critical issue or two. Consider the big 3:

  • Attracting the right clients. Staple yourself to your potential clients’ experience. Are you, your team and your marketing collateral focused on your sweet-spot? For whom do you produce your best results? Are you repelling the bad-fits early in the attraction process or are you wasting valuable time on non-starters? What happens to prospects who become clients? Do they become apostles for your brand or do they fade into the background while you are dazzled by the next opportunity? Ask tough questions and be very attentive to the answers.

  • Boosting margins. Take a closer look at your business model. Staple yourself to that. Do you have pricey partners (including you) doing low billing rate work? Your senior talent could be waiting for the right moment to bolt. How well are you leveraging your intellectual capital across multiple platforms? What investments are you making in fostering innovation—creating white space and higher margins? If you were on the outside looking in, would you buy your business? A stable, growing enterprise with a deep story is worth far more than a series of one-off projects. How much of a marketplace premium would you command?

  • Courting media attention. So, you’ve got a killer concept and figure the media should be beating a path to your door. Not happening? Bring out the staple gun. Whose attention do you want to attract? Why should they care about you? What are you doing that is newsworthy to their audience? Are you investing consistent time and effort developing—and sharing—interesting, media-friendly content? Recycling the same old ideas will not get you headlines or influence. And how quickly do you respond to media inquiries? Do you come off as smoke and mirrors or the real deal?

Attracting the right clients, boosting margins and courting media attention. Staple yourself to those.


  • Mike Van Horn

    "What investments are you making in fostering innovation–creating white space and higher margins?"

    Rochelle, what do you mean by "creating white space" in this context?

  • Rochelle Moulton

    Hi Mike,
    I see "white space" as all about innovation–in this case, creating an area of practice that hasn't been done before. It could be what you practice, how you deliver services or to whom.

    Continuing to successfully innovate–even if true white space isn't attained–is what makes a great firm or soloist. It allows them to grow and charge better margins than those who are merely good.

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