Your Edge: Not Always What You Think

Your edge. It’s what the marketplace values most about you (and your firm). It’s why clients hire you and your tribe refers you. Are you clear on yours?

A lot of professionals assume their expertise is their calling card. You are an amazing corporate bankruptcy attorney. The expert on executive compensation. The wizard of SAP implementations.

You may indeed be a genius in your field, but few clients refer you solely on your expertise. One notable exception: when they need a “bet the company” solution and personality becomes secondary to immediate, tangible results. Or, you’re a brain surgeon.

So unless you're in that rarified territory, your edge is not your expertise. It's just the price of admission.

Your real edge is how you do what you do. Not your methodology but your humanology. Are you genuine? Do you really care about the results you’re creating? Are you likable (but not a sycophant)? Do you use humor effectively? Do you get clients the answers they need and help them feel good about working with you? Even when—especially when—you’re doing tough, game-changing work?

What's your edge?


  • Perry

    Thanks for this post. I have learned that my edge is not what I do, but how I do it.

    It's important to ask the question of your clients at some point. When you know what they see as your edge, you can hone it so it becomes invaluable.

    My edge?

  • Rochelle Moulton

    Thanks for your thoughts Perry–Who can't use some unflappable? I like that you've got it down to 1 word. Crisp and clear…..

  • Mike Van Horn

    1st, where do I get one of these gadgets? I've got to have one!

    2nd, even if I've got Expertise, Methodology, and Humanology down, there's still one leg of the stool missing–how we let people find out about us and our expertise, methods, and human touch. In my experience, this is the biggest single challenge. Certainly is for me.

  • dogear6

    My edge is passion. I find people are drawn to me when I talk about my job and how I do my work because I have passion about my experience and my expertise. People love hearing stories that are interesting no matter what the topic is.

    – Nancy

  • Rochelle Moulton

    Hi Mike,
    Your new favorite gadget is the Wenger Giant Swiss Army Knife. A mere $1005 and it can be yours 🙂

    Yes, our challenge is being visible and recognizable to the right audiences. More on this in future posts.

  • Rochelle Moulton

    Welcome–and good "edge" word–Nancy! Real passion draws people in and powerful stories keep 'em engaged….

  • Richard Clayman

    Exactly right – I guess that's why you're "the" consulting chick. As a director, I've learned that it's only primal behavior which affects others deeply. Assuming you're one of many experts at what you do, kindness, compassion, and innocent curiosity are what will indeed set you apart.

  • Chris Haug

    Michelle, once again you cut through the clutter and get to the essence of client relationships. I follow you with great interest and have yet to run across an instance where I disagree even slightly. You are a shining star in the industry.


  • Rochelle Moulton

    Thank you Richard and Chris…I like your "primal behavior" concept. Most professionals are taught that it's about the right answer, when it's much more about being a real person. Humanity does count!

  • Robin Dickinson

    Thank you, Rochelle. Excellent points.

    My 'edge' is the trust and respect of confidentiality that all my clients experience. Sounds boring, but it's like a golden elastic band that has fuelled a wonderful stream of repeat referral business for years.

    Best, Robin

  • Rochelle Moulton

    Ah Robin,
    Like you, I never find repeat referrals "boring". Good for you for building such great relationships!

    Best to you,

  • Marian Kerr

    What a great post Rochelle. It's not what you do, but who you are that really makes the connexions.

    My edge is providing a still point; a space for others to safely examine their life and step up to being the person they have always wanted to be, and experiencing an increase in confidence and happiness in the process.

    Woow – I think I just created a new elevator speech – provided I take a deep breath 🙂

  • Ellen Jaffe

    I love the "still point" concept. That paragraph is so exact that I want to be your client. Use it!
    And Rachel, you made a really strong point. Like in most areas of business, education, and life itself, the key is relationship, relationship, and relationship as well as competence at what you are doing.
    This is my 11th year in business, and the key is old clients and new clients – the relationships and competence yield referrals, referrals, referrals.

  • Rochelle Moulton

    Good work Marian–you obviously have struck a chord with your "still point". And Ellen, it's always about the r&c as you point out.Competence only takes us so far–it's how we make others feel that builds relationships and referrals. Thank you both for adding to the conversation!

  • Tony Coffey

    My edge? Gravitas and credibility.

  • Rochelle Moulton

    Thanks for your additions, Tony…..

  • Tim Haveron Jones


    Your post reminds us of a crucial concept – that as consultants or advisors, we are all only as good as our personal 'brand' proclaims us to be.

    About ten years ago I was advising a consulting firm who were struggling to compete, despite having some very good people. Turned out that they were positioning themselves in the market on the back of brand attributes like quality, competence, trustworthiness…..and they hadn't stopped to think for one second that those characteristics were simply 'qualifiers' and not 'differentiators'.

    Your point reminds us that individuals, as well as firms, need to consider their own 'differentiators'. And I'm not talking about fancy spectacles or smart shoes! Often enough, these differentiators are not in the 'what' – which is often a commodity – but in the 'how', the 'when' or the 'with whom'.

    Thanks for the post!

  • Rochelle Moulton

    You've stated the issue perfectly Tim. Many advisory firms(regardless of size) are stuck on the "quality, competence, trustworthiness" mantra. It just isn't enough to distinguish anyone today–it is simply the price of admission. Real advances happen when we have the courage to break out of that rut and claim our singular niche…..

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