Consulting 101: Be a Sponge

I haven’t been at this consulting thing for very long but I can already see huge personal growth in my self. I contribute this to being a “sponge”.

What do I mean?

When I say “be a sponge” I’m not talking about the fry cook from Bikini Bottom. I’m talking about absorbing as much knowledge, experience, information and advice as possible.


Close your mouth and open your ears. Listening and observing are the keys to absorbing as much as you can. As consultants and employees we’re paid to have opinions and sometimes we’re all too anxious to share them. Be patient and let the other half of your conversation express their views. And listen. Instead of assuming you know what they’re going to say and then be seen as rude, let the other party tell you what they think needs to be said. This is important for two reasons: 1. the speaker feels listened to and understood before you begin to construct your response; 2. you can observe a lot subtleties in how a person presents their point of view.

Be inquisitive.

And ask more questions. The more questions you ask, the better you get. You’ll begin to start asking the “right” questions and learn more.  I don’t think college grads ask enough questions. They’re too intimidated or scared. They don’t want to seem unintelligent or uniformed. But in my experience, it’s the opposite. When new employees, especially college grads, don’t ask any questions it’s concerning for managers. It is your responsibility to get clarification when you’re unsure of some aspect of your work. When you begin to ask better questions, you become more informed.

So be a sponge. Eat some sponge cake. And welcome to the club.

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