Hire Out Your Brain: Charge $200,000 a Day

Organizations have plenty of information, but too many lack the raw brain power to be able to frame their data in ways that would give them a competitive edge.

That's where you can come in -- as a brain for hire. Top consulting firms in this niche charge as much as $200,000 a day to train about 25 employees in outside-the-box thinking strategies.

In The New York Times Magazine, David Segal describes the role of this new kind of consultant: brains-for-hire. In this field you have the option to work solo, launch a small firm, or join a group already operating in the space. Companies currently offering this type of consulting include Jump Associates, Ideo, and Kotter International.

There are some very simple reasons why organizations have difficulty thinking on their own. Basically it comes down to the very human tendency for workers to frame or perceive the world around us according to what's been hammered in to them at school, or the mental models held sacred by their power structure, or the formulas that worked in the past but probably won't next month.

Incidentally, financial markets expert Nassim Nicholas Taleb became famous by explaining this compulsion to superimpose conventional narratives on just about everything. In his book 'The Black Swan,' Taleb says this tendency drives the herd to repeat the same ways of analysis, and he argues that this sameness is contagious. Remember how so many invested in things like real estate, a law degree, or a Bernie Madoff's fund?

If you're looking to get involved with this type of consulting, then the price for entry is a track record for success. You don't necessarily need any special credentials or training, you just need to be free of the addiction to the usual mental-models. You can obtain such a track record by knocking on the doors of some organizations that seem stuck and offering your re-framing skills, either free or on a commission basis (should you produce results).

Once you've had some successes under your belt, write up a brief case study of what the organizations and you have accomplished together and get some endorsements from those clients. Then, with these testimonials in hand, self-promote!

If you want to be on your own, you can generate appropriate public relations for your own start-up through the client's communications vehicles, as well as through PR Web-type releases, blogs, tweets, the wall of your Facebook page, videos posted on YouTube, and with any other vehicle you deem appropriate. Alternatively, you could apply to a job with a company like Jump Associates, already active in this niche.

As long as you can avoid traps of conventional thinking, you could be in business.

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