Don’t let an algorithm decide what you read »

Running a Consulting Business with Molly Angel

January 24, 2022
Episode 49
The Recognized Authority Podcast Cover

The podcast that helps experts & consultants on the journey to becoming a recognized authority in your field, so you can increase your impact, command premium fees, work less hours, and never have to suffer a bad-fit client again!.

The business of independent consulting can be challenging, no more so than for a change management consultant in the healthcare industry in the midst of a pandemic!

In this episode, Molly Angel and Alastair McDermott discuss what it’s like to run consulting projects in challenging times. Molly shares why she hired a business coach for her business despite having an MBA herself, some big mistakes she’s made, and why it’s important to loosen your grip on the reins in some circumstances.

They also discuss podcasting for consultants, and how to create an abundance of content ideas for your writing.

➡️ Learn more about Authority Labs:

➡️ Learn more about the webinars:

Show Notes

Guest Bio

Molly is a change management expert with extensive experience in operations and change management specializing in implementation of healthcare, technology and for other complex environments.


people, podcast, pandemic, business, healthcare, client, process, learned, work, questions, organizations, understand, hired, middlemen, big, management, find, absolutely, health care, alastair

Alastair McDermott, Molly Angel


Molly Angel  00:00

Let’s focus on that. And we probably spent a good month or so just getting all that all figured out and getting that all put together before we then turn to sort of what I thought we would be mostly doing, which is okay, how do we create the kind of business that’s going to be, you know, sustainable and attractive. And so I credit my business coach with really being that person who kind of got me fixed in the right direction first, which is figure out the money.


Voiceover  00:28

Welcome to The Recognized Authority, a podcast that helps specialized consultants or domain experts on your journey to become known as an authority in your field. So you can increase your reach, have more impact, and work with great clients. Here’s your host, Alastair McDermott.


Alastair McDermott  00:44

Hello and today, my guest, I’m really delighted to speak with Molly Angel. Molly is a change management expert. She’s a consultant with extensive experience in operations and change management. She specializes in implementation of health care, technology, and other complex environments.  So Molly, I want to talk about something that we talked about in the pre show, which was future proofing and tight, loose tight, can you explain that to me?


Molly Angel  01:09

Sure, I have really been engaged, lately, with a lot of teams who naturally are kind of still reeling from the vagaries of our current pandemic, you know, that sort of gets better than it gets worse. And then you know, people are trying to plan people are trying to really understand what can be known and how they can be prepared to adjust. So a lot of what change management is, is looking at the human factors of change, really putting people right at the center of what it is that you need to do in order to be successful in your business.  So we’re already as change management experts teed up to be very helpful in this regard. And one of the things that I’ve been helping my teams with lately around future proofing is really helping them to understand that knowing the answers is not really our condition very typically, anyway. Okay, so we don’t have pandemics, we don’t have something of this nature. Frequently, thank goodness. But there’s always that uncertainty, you’re never going to have perfect knowledge of what the future looks like, you’re never going to have a completely stable environment in which you’re working. So developing what I refer to a lot as the tight, loose, tight strategy of helping teams be effective, be productive, feel secure, and moving forward, even in the even in the absence of certainty, is the methodology that I’ll kind of walk you through here.  So tight is, the first tight is the how, excuse me, is the why. The first type is why are we doing this? Why now? Why is this important, total clarity about the purpose of what it is that you’re trying to change about your process, your technology. When people understand the why that’s when they will be able to do the second, which is the loose, which is how are we going to do this? Theoretically, you have hired the right people with the right competencies and the right mindset, and, you know, the right social skills to work together as a team. So don’t over prescribe, don’t over manage, don’t over, you know, how shall we say, helicopter hover over your team in terms of the how. Give them the, the the space that they need to really address what you’re trying to accomplish.  And then the second type is the what? Make sure that people know how they’re going to be assessed how the outcome is going to be measured, what the KPIs are, what the OKRs or whatever. And that vernacular you use in your company, so that people can keep that on their radar. And so that is the three components of the tight, loose, tight– Why are we doing this, let people then develop their own how using their skills using their team based training, and then the what, again, tightly establishing how people will be assessed and evaluated. And that really, for me, is the key to future proofing.


Alastair McDermott  04:09

Right. Okay. I love it. Very, very simple framework, and the loose reins, but be very clear about why you’re doing it and what the measures are. Yeah, really interesting. And you’re working a lot with the healthcare industry, you actually specialize in the healthcare industry. Is that right?


Molly Angel  04:24

Yes, I do. So the healthcare industry all over the world has just been really at the forefront of the sort of response and impact of COVID. And so there is a lot of hard lessons that have been learned. There’s a lot of change that is being experienced on a daily basis. We’re much further ahead than we were two years ago when all this started. I mean, clearly, the onslaught of every new variant is just dialing people up and down the the response, as it were, by changes that have been taking place in health care have been, you know, immense.


Alastair McDermott  05:08

Yeah. As we record this in in very early 2022, do you feel that we’ve gotten out of that firefighting mode and people are settling into, it’s still in firefighting,


Molly Angel  05:20

Still absolutely a firefight. And I will tell you why it’s pretty clear that that this is a virus that has got a lot of unique capabilities in terms of its survival. All viruses are ever want to do is find a host and replicate and find more hosts and, and some viruses are so efficient at that they kill everybody in their path, Ebola, and so they don’t tend to become pandemics they they’re, they do such a good job of, of transmission and illness that they burn themselves out over kind of experiencing with COVID is not that kind of a virus. It’s somewhere on the along the continuum of an extremely successful virus. But it keeps itself right at the pace where it’s always looking for new hosts and always having the opportunity to amend its processes so that you’re not quite ready for the new variants. So I think we’re gonna be in the firefight for a little while. Certainly not a public health perspective, just my own from years of being in healthcare. But I think that we got to keep our, our foot on the gas pedal for a while still.


Alastair McDermott  06:32

Yeah, yeah. Well, I don’t want to make this all about the, the pandemic and stuff because I don’t think anybody needs to hear more about that.


Molly Angel  06:41

If somebody says to me, unprecedented one more time, right? I’m getting around screaming into the street.


Alastair McDermott  06:47

Yeah, absolutely. But um, it is interesting to get the perspective of somebody who’s working in, you know, in that field at the moment. Let me ask you about something that you were talking to to another friend of mine, Jonathan Bailey, on his podcast, you were talking about the perils of relying on middlemen for counsel, can you talk to that for a couple minutes, just tell us about that?


Molly Angel  07:11

Yeah, I can speak to a very specific failure that I experienced recently, because of not properly assessing my relationship with some middlemen. As an independent contractor, especially working with really large organizations, they all require that someone have gone through the process of vetting so that they have a master service agreement with them. That’s very hard to do as an independent. So you end up relying on organizations that, you know, kind of run the gamut in terms of how they’re structured. But essentially, they have the, the organizational heft, to be able to have the kind of insurance have the kind of guarantees and in health care to have what they call the business associates agreement, here in the United States that is so important. So all of those kinds of things, make it really imperative that you as an independent consultant, have a good relationship with the right kind of middlemen, as I’m calling them to be able to do the work with larger or larger organizations.  And the perils of that is that not all organizations are created equal. Some of them are really great at establishing a clear partnership and collaboration so that you can be successful. So they can be successful, so that your mutual client is very successful. And those, those organizations are a delight to work with, you get to take advantage of some of their greater maybe resources and greater experience with having worked with many different companies. So as an independent, you gain a lot from working with middlemen, or you know, agencies that kind of bring you into the fold. And, you know, their relationship with you is just as you know, important to them as it is to you. And it can, it can be a very positive situation.  But what I experienced the summer was the situation that I tried to warn people about and how I fell into it. Well, who knows, probably a little pixelated about the work that I was being asked to consider, which was something I was really interested in. And the thing that happened to me, which is kind of why it’s a cautionary tale is that the middlemen organization had this very sort of fixed and dilated view of what it was that I should be doing. They wouldn’t let me connect with anybody in leadership at the client side because they wanted to control all aspects of the work and felt that if I didn’t sort of stay in my lane or stay like very low on the organizational totem pole that I would, you know, somehow inadvertently be problematic from their relationship perspective. They had so many layers within their own organization of people that I had to work through and work with, and fundamentally, they didn’t understand what it was that they had actually hired me to do.  And as I kept kind of trying to have conversations with them, and the client, the interpretation with all parties just got so complex and got so convoluted and, you know, absolutely no one was happy in the equation, because I wasn’t being you know, given the opportunity to do what I do best. The client was like, what’s going on? And then these middlemen who, on one hand, were very sort of prescriptive of what that I wanted, what they wanted me to do, but also completely clueless about what it really was or what value it was just kind of muddied the waters for for both both parties, myself and the client.  So I actually, at one point, just realized, I’m not making any progress here. You know, I’m not doing anybody any good, and had to really just pull the plug. And it’s the first time I’ve ever had to do that. And boy, did I lose a lot of sleep over that. But I can tell you that after I actually, you know, made the decision and had the hard conversations that night, I slept like a baby.


Alastair McDermott  11:18

Yeah, yeah. So that was one of these was one of those kind of umbrella consulting firms that that kind of brings in, like a big team of consultants of independence underneath.


Molly Angel  11:28

Yeah, yeah. And they’re very, they’re very tech focused. So that’s like their, you know, long, strong suit. And I’ve worked a lot in tech. I mean, one of the, the jobs that I’ve had as a an employee was to work with a healthcare technology startup firm. So I have a pretty deep background in understanding tech. I’m not in the, I couldn’t code to save my life. But, you know, I understand the tech world. And so they sort of saw everything through that lens. And the human factors have changed, like I talked about a little bit ago with change management somehow that just, you know, although they wanted somebody to be focused on change management, didn’t actually really want any change management work, if that makes sense.


Alastair McDermott  12:14

No, not really.


Molly Angel  12:16

It was very confusing time.


Alastair McDermott  12:17

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Sounds like it. But I do want to ask you about, you know, the concept of working through one of those businesses and, and just in general, you know, with your own consulting firm, how do you typically do your new business development, what’s the source of your leads?


Molly Angel  12:34

So I spent, as you’ve noticed, I spent many years and healthcare operations I had responsibility for open heart surgery programs, and ICUs, and pharmacy, and all kinds of operational aspects of health care. So pretty deep knowledge of how all of this works, and you know, who’s all involved. And as I was transitioning to the software development company, they asked me to take on the responsibility of helping them develop products that would be helpful to people who are in healthcare operations. So it’s still like the continuum. But at that point, I’d already recognize that boy, you could on paper you could have on time and on budget, but you could have people crying in the bathroom. It’s like, wait a minute, we’re missing a step here. So I had already started my transition from being what I called, at this point, a recovering lean engineer, to learning about and then getting certified, certified in that discipline of change management.  So when I came into the software development firm, which was focusing on how to build software to do things like manage the operations in an emergency department, you know, queuing people up triaging people making sure that their stay in the emergency department will, you know, met all of the criteria for getting good care but didn’t take any longer than it needed to like the waiting time in the and the gaps in terms of like, people being seen and being discharged all those kinds of things in the ad the Maximus, treat him or Streatham, so the ability to to do that more effectively and have people feel like they’ve gotten good service that was a tool that they were building.  So my focus instead of being just on all of the elements of you know, when does lab have to be notified? What about radiology? You know, how about the console to an impatient that like, all of those were things that I understood from having worked in healthcare, but what I really tried to bring to that organization and to the development of the product was how are the people going to be brought into understanding any changes in the process? How are we going to make sure that we’ve properly, you know, Kim, gotten the commitment we need from people to do anything that might be different than what they’re used to doing.  So, the third notion of kind of coming buying process and technology with a real focus on and and central perspective on how humans are successful in that environment is really what I’ve, what I’ve kind of evolved my practice to so because I spent so many years in lots of different health care organizations, I still get a lot of business just by word of mouth, people know what kind of work I’ve done, I had a lot of responsibility for connecting, especially to the software development with lots of different types of organizations. So I would say the first two or three years even, it was mostly all of word of mouth, sort of scenario, I got hired at one organization, and then they keep me on for several other engagements within the same organization, for example, because it was like, Oh, you can do something with our pharmacy, because you understand pharmacy, or oh, you’ve got the, you’ve got the skill set around the EDI operation.  So there’s a lot of credibility when you spent time actually doing the same kind of work, right. So that probably was the biggest bizdev sort of advantage I had for a while, but I knew that wouldn’t last forever. And you know, you want to move on and on and beyond. I’ve now done work in pharma, in pharmaceutical companies, and even outside of healthcare completely, I’ve done some projects for folks like Microsoft, and I’m doing some projects for big telco company now. Because people are people, right. And what I’ve been told by a couple of different folks who have hired me outside of healthcare is, man, if you can do health care, you pretty much know how to do anything, because a more complex environment is hard to imagine.  And quite frankly, the fact that health care does have all of these real, rigid regulatory issues, and that I know how to navigate those, those stand me in pretty good stead for outside of health care. So I’ve been trying to develop quite frankly, a better bizdev approach to expanding my, you know, visibility outside of healthcare, and it’s and it’s been working.


Alastair McDermott  17:09

Yeah, I see that you, you know, you do some podcasting, you have, you’ve got email signup on your site. So, you look fairly advanced in your kind of inbound process.


Molly Angel  17:20

Yeah, and I do, I do a newsletter. And what I’m evangelizing a bit is how people can use the principles and the practices of change management. Regardless, you know, there, you don’t always need to bring in a change manager. Some of it is just teeing up your project with a little bit more attention a little bit more thought about how is this going to affect the people that I’m asking to do their work differently. And, you know, there’s, there’s simple things that anyone can do to make their project, you know, much more, get their people much more committed to the outcome. So that’s what I tried to do is kind of share that.  And then also bring forward stories from folks who have had to make a big change had to make a big pivot, especially women, entrepreneurs, because we’re kind of the ultimate swiss army knife, I mean, you got to have a lot of different capabilities to, to succeed as an independent woman, consultant. And so, you know, just sharing the stories of how people have done the kind of work that that I do is really what I’m about. So that’s what I’ve been working on. And, you know, trying to use all of the social media platforms effectively, one thing that somebody told me a while ago was, you know, focus on one don’t try to be all things to all people. So I’ve worked to develop a, you know, a series of posts, and sometimes connected to articles, sometimes just post themselves on LinkedIn, that really is my main platform, where I share content and share share the kind of work I do


Alastair McDermott  18:54

When you’re creating content when you’re writing those posts, how do you find the process of actually writing and creating that content and kind of planning the content? Is does that come easy? Or is that difficult?


Molly Angel  19:06

Oh, I love my process, I happy to tell you about it. So I am very blessed to have a creative group around me who just becomes like my, my sounding board or my you know, sort of writers room that I can ping things off of. And so once a week, we’ll have an hour long call that we record, where we’ll throw out lots of different topics, lots of different ideas, I’ll bring forward examples of things that I’ve seen lately or talk about circumstances or situations that I’ve been involved in and we just kind of riff from there and every single week when we do this, it just it’s it’s a wealth of content, it’s a wealth of ideas to kind of you know, take and go in many different directions so that I love my I love my process. I don’t know if it if it’s a super replicable for everybody because you got to find that right group of people. To be your, you know, your, you know, your writers room, but I’m very fortunate that I do.


Alastair McDermott  20:05

Yeah, I find that just in general as, as an independent, I find that having these small groups, these small kind of, maybe you call it a mastermind or you know, it’s a peer group or whatever you call it, but just having a small group of trusted people who have a similar background or you know, that just kind of can bring some peer feedback to the table. I think that’s really useful. So yeah,


Molly Angel  20:30

Yeah. And they’re, and they’re the kind of group that will tell me, huh, yeah, no, that has not gone anywhere.


Alastair McDermott  20:36

Yeah, yeah.


Molly Angel  20:36

You know, to take table that idea.


Alastair McDermott  20:39

Yeah, a bunch of Yes. Men is no, no used to you need the new people are gonna push back a bit. Yeah.


Molly Angel  20:43



Alastair McDermott  20:44

Yeah. What advice would you give to somebody just starting out trying to build their own build up their own consulting firm?


Molly Angel  20:50

Yeah. So I was lucky in the sense that I had a little bit of like a nest to get a launch from the last company that I worked for, let me go independent contract and, and remain on their payroll, not payroll, they’re on their books, I guess. They let me transition from being an employee to a contractor. And that’s a pretty, that’s a pretty generous thing for a company to do. And I really credit them with giving me the, you know, the gumption to go ahead.  And, you know, go out there on my own, I would say that the thing that I learned right away, because I hired a business coach almost immediately, which was kind of a funny process. You know, people were like, Well, gee, you got an MBA, why do you need a business coach? And I’m like, do you think I can truly be objective about myself? I don’t think so.  So she was really the first person who sort of outlined for me, you know, you’ll hear a lot about marketing, you’ll hear a lot about bizdev, you’ll hear a lot about websites, first get everything right about the money, figure out all the you know, what do you need to live? You know, your life? How do you need to organize, getting the right accountant, the right attorney, the right business structure, let’s focus on that.  And we probably spent a good month or so just getting all that all figured out and getting that all put together before we then turn to sort of what I thought we would be mostly doing, which is okay, how do we create the kind of business that’s going to be, you know, sustainable and attractive. And so I credit my business coach with really being that person who kind of got me fixed in the right direction first, which is figure out the money.


Alastair McDermott  22:31

Right, right. That’s good advice. And I have a business coach, actually, I have several business coaches, really. One of whom I work with on the ongoing, regular basis, and then others who I talked to every so often, I think it’s great, just to get that kind of just that external perspective. Again, even like the peer group, if, if you can’t afford a business coach, well, I think that you should invest in it. But having that external guidance, and somebody who can call you to account, I think it’s really useful.


Molly Angel  23:02

Well, I mean, writing the check for that first business coach, that was a scary thing. I mean, the only other the only bigger check I’d ever written was to buy a house. So


Alastair McDermott  23:10

Wow. Right. Yeah.


Molly Angel  23:12

And, you know, I really did my homework, though. And I was fortunate, I had several people that I could turn to and get, you know, sort of advice or, you know, be able to do the evaluation of the person that I chose to be my business coach who’s still a wonderful friend. And you know, I do tap in and you know, pay for time with her now and again, because I just find her advice. So invaluable. Her name’s Lenora Edwards, and she has been doing this for, I don’t know, 15-18 years.  You know, she her guarantee is it within three months of working with her her program is six months long, you will have captured enough clients that it will be three times what you’ve paid her and I thought, if for nothing else, I want to see if this is going to happen. Oh my gosh. 100%. She blew through that number easily. I had my first book of business, like within just a few weeks of working with her so but the point I’m making is exactly the one that that you have landed on, which is having a great business coaches. It’s there’s really no substitute for it. And if it’s if it’s a big expense, yeah, find other ways to get that that level of advice.


Alastair McDermott  24:25

Yeah, absolutely. Now, I’m also lucky I get to have great conversations with them with great people. I can pick people’s brains on various different topics every week. That’s the great thing about hosting a podcast and,


Molly Angel  24:38

That is quite an advantage.


Alastair McDermott  24:39



Molly Angel  24:39

I do like that about hosting a podcast. You meet a lot of interesting people. I’ve learned Allister


Alastair McDermott  24:44

Yeah. Tell us a bit about your podcast in case anybody’s interested to check it.


Molly Angel  24:48

So it’s called “The Change Manifesto”. And as I said, I really had sort of established my goal with the podcast to really talk about change management help people understand how approachable, it is what the elements and tenants and methodologies were, so that anyone could improve their adoption of new product and new process and new technology by just really learning the techniques and incorporating them. And I did do a few little, you know, little three podcast series on the pandemic, and you know, the changes in the world and tried to tie together a few lessons in the past about big changes in in the world.  And you know, how I thought things might go with the changes that were being brought about by the pandemic, but then my most recent series of podcasts have really been talking to women entrepreneurs, and learning not just about how they’ve had to zig and zag through the, through the pandemic, because again, stuff changes all the time, really how they have learned to adapt to changing their approach, or their practice or their process, to either take advantage of opportunities, or to move away from, you know, maybe something that they had really set their hearts on, but it just didn’t pan out. And so what did what did that journey look like? So, mostly in the interests of as I said before, really providing people with a wow, you know, that’s kind of where I am now.  There’s somebody I can learn from and somebody that I know who’s out there who’s, you know, maybe a touch point for me to learn a little bit more about how they have navigated some kind of a change in their business. So, the change manifesto is really about helping people you know, make change, understand change, get their arms around that use some tried and true techniques that has changed management folks know, that can be incorporated by anyone.


Alastair McDermott  26:45

Cool. How have you found growing the podcast listenership has not been easy for you has been difficult.


Molly Angel  26:51

You know, I have got this really funny sort of listenership, I have a lot of folks who are in Europe and who are in Mexico and in South America, I have participated in a lot of different events as a presenter all over the world and my podcast listenership tends to follow like, it’s sort of like, you know, little seeds getting planted as I do that. So I have like a lot of listeners in the Netherlands. I have a lot of people who listen in Mexico, a places that I’ve done presentations.  So it’s, it’s really clear that it is podcast listenership, I think is driven by two factors, the topic and how pertinent it is to people. And then just if somebody has met you, or learned a little bit about how you’re doing things, that’s the kind of person who starts to tune in and wants to learn more. And I get interesting emails from people who’ve listened to episodes and want to know more, or want to connect with the people that I’ve interviewed. And so it’s a great conversation No, like, pipeline is what I’m finding to really connect with people in a way that I don’t know that I had envisioned on the front end.


Alastair McDermott  28:05

Yeah. Do you find that it has brought your business?


Molly Angel  28:08

I would say that I hear from my clients that they’ve listened to my podcast, but I would not sense that it’s like a go-no-go kind of a thing. I think it just helps. In terms of establishing credibility. When you’re an independent consultant, you’re the product, people are hiring you. So the more people feel that they know who you are, and how you approach things and what your personality is, it really creates a comfort level that would be hard to quantify. But I think it’s there. I think that as people hire me, who are aware of the podcast, they they probably have a you know, higher comfort level because they kind of know who I am already.


Alastair McDermott  28:50

Yeah, absolutely. It creates this, this level of trust. And I think the technical term is parasocial relationships, these one one sided relationships where people people know you and feel like they know you really well. So I’ve heard from,


Molly Angel  29:04

I love that, parasocial. I like it.


Alastair McDermott  29:06

Yeah, parasocial relationships. Yeah. Is Is there anything that you wish that you had known before you started your consulting business?


Molly Angel  29:15

Yeah, there’s lots of things. And probably the biggest one is that I was really concerned that as people wanted me to come on to a project that I had to accept their their definition without question about what it is that they force. You know, we’re sort of explaining to me, this is what we need. And at first, I was sort of like, okay, that’s what you need. That’s what I’m going to work on. That’s what I’m going to deliver. And I wish I had been more confident on the front end to say, you know, I hear you say that what you need is a red Toyota rav4, you know, with these capabilities, but what I hear your outcome is, is that you want to get to Seattle. So can we talk about other ways to accomplish that outcome besides The Toyota rav4.  And it’s just a, it’s been helpful to learn a better way of approaching the work on the front end, especially as you’re developing statements of work because other people know a lot about where they want to go. Sometimes they’re just filling in the, you know, what they understand about a process that would be helpful to get somebody there. And, you know, I wish I had known at the front end not to just accept, without question, what people were asking me to do, rather than focusing more on where are we trying to go?


Alastair McDermott  30:33

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And, you know, asking a lot of questions really important. I think. Dr. House says in the in the TV series, he says, patients lie, everybody lies, you need to dig deeper. But um,


Molly Angel  30:47

I use, I use a process that I call pear, P-E-A-R — people, environment, artifacts, and relationships. And I do a lot of observation and observational listening to understand what those four components are kind of coming through in a, in a conversation or in a description. Because if you ask people, What do you do, they will tell you what they think you want to hear. Or they will admit a bunch of stuff that they’re like, yeah, they don’t need to know that they just need to do these high level points. And so by using that pair process, I start to ferret out more substantive information that then I can go back into your point, you have to be a good not only listener, but you have to ask really good questions, because people will answer the question that you’ve asked to them. But they may not go beyond that. So you got to ask the right questions. And once I sort of fill up my pair framework, and I have a pretty good notion of how those four attributes are being, you know, sort of developed within a processor within a problem, then I have more of a way to really reach out and ask what a help are really helpful questions.


Alastair McDermott  32:02

Yeah, I think it’s, it’s a skill that you will develop over time. One thing that I always found useful was to actually have a sheet with printed questions on it in front of me when I’m literally going through and going through the question because otherwise, sometimes I would forget to ask something important. And, you know, that’s,


Molly Angel  32:19

that’s a great technique, I’m sort of guilty of not doing that as much as I should. So that reminds me that I got to do better at it. I just did a whole series of I also teach at the University of Washington and the Masters in healthcare administration program, I teach a course around transformation in healthcare. And so I’m always trying to get good examples of current problems and current issues from the point of view of project managers in particular, so they usually have the responsibility for the overall health of a project or a process. And so I always just asked them two questions, which is, you know, tell me about a most recent problem that you have, and you know, what, what happened? And then how do you stay up to date with your profession? And I find that by asking just two questions, people tell you a lot, because it doesn’t matter to me how they interpret that. I mean, I’m looking for them to tell me what’s important to them. So I have kind of honed in on a process of that specific scenario of questioning that I’m pretty happy with. But I think you’re right in terms of really learning from people as you’re just first meeting them, and first trying to get your arms around the work that they’re trying to do. Yeah, write down the questions. That’s good advice, Alastair.


Alastair McDermott  33:39

So I asked you, is there anything you, you wish you’d known? You said, there was a, there was a few things. Is there anything else you can tell us about?


Molly Angel  33:45

Yeah, I wish that I had known that there’s always work out there, you know, that sort of fear that oh, my gosh, oh, you know, I’ll be sitting around twiddling my thumbs, and there won’t be any money coming in, that really has never, never manifested itself in any kind of, you know, problematic way. I mean, they’re right at the beginning of the pandemic, everything sort of changed very radically in terms of how people were doing their work or how they were thinking about their work. But the fact of the matter is, I think that having established like a really good outreach process and continual conversation with people has probably stood me in better stead than I understood on the front end. And I wish I hadn’t spent so much time worrying about that.  It was not something I needed to worry about. I mean, I’m not trying to be, you know, make light of or be flip about the fact that you have to always have prospects in the pipeline and so forth. But it’s not as big a problem as I thought it would be. I you know, I think about like those memes where you see, you know, as a kid, I thought quicksand was going to be a much bigger problem, and it’s kind of that kind of thing. It’s like, you know, you hear about it so much that you’re like, Oh, this is this is really something I got to focus on and it has not been, you know, maybe not good.


Alastair McDermott  35:01

Is that because you had such a big network to start with?


Molly Angel  35:04

Maybe. It might be just that I was sitting in the catbird seat. I’m not sure. But the thing that I,


Alastair McDermott  35:11

Yeah, I think starting with your former employer as a first client as well, I think that that made a big difference.


Molly Angel  35:17

Yeah. I mean, no, there’s no doubt about the fact that I credit that opportunity a lot for, you know, feeling confident about launching to because it was something I had wanted to do for a while. But if they hadn’t given me that, that, you know, sort of safe harbor, I’m not sure what the analogy is. But yeah, that that really made a big difference. And I, you know, I, I don’t take that lightly. But yeah, I, I have, I have been surprised and delighted that it has not turned out to be the problem that I thought it would be.


Alastair McDermott  35:49

That’s, that’s great. And you did say a few things. So I’m gonna, I’m gonna ask you for another one, just at random three, because everything should always be in three. Right?


Molly Angel  35:57

Okay. Okay. Well, one other thing that I wish I had done is that my business coach kept advising me don’t take on any more than, you know, I think her number was like, 25 hours of client work a week, because you’re going to need the rest of the time for, you know, bizdev, and so forth. And I was always, like, who works 40 hours, I don’t work 40 hours. So you know, that’s crazy. I can do I could do 35 or 40 hours of client work and still have time for bizdev.


Alastair McDermott  36:24



Molly Angel  36:25

Yeah, she was right. She was so right. And I have a client, I’ll have clients every once a while, say, Well, do you have more hours available? And I’ve learned to say no, because I get no, it’s it’s true. You just need time for your own business. And that was one of the few things that she said that I disregarded and at my peril.


Alastair McDermott  36:48

Yeah, yeah. So and did you find that you were burning out with that?


Molly Angel  36:52

Yes. Well, what I found is that, okay, like, frequently, I’ll have two clients at a time, and each be booked for, you know, maybe 15 hours or, you know, maybe once 20 hours and once 10 hours. But guess what, nobody wants to meet it Friday at 6:30pm. Everybody wants to meet at Tuesday at 10am. So balancing two clients, if you don’t have enough bandwidth to really accomplish, that doesn’t work. And it’s not for any other reason, then, you know, like I learned with doing surgery scheduling, you know, patients and surgeons don’t want to do surgery at you know, six o’clock at night, they want to do surgery at 7am on, you know, Wednesday. So, surprise, everybody wants the exact same hours. So, yeah, really, you know, there’s just no getting around that, that rule.


Alastair McDermott  37:39

And so that that begs the question, do you work on an hourly rate basis, all of the time we do fixed price projects, or how do you do?


Molly Angel  37:46

As much as possible, I try to do fixed pay fixed price projects didn’t realize that was going to be a tongue twister. Because then you’re not as much of a you know, sort of like having to submit a timecard for goodness sakes, are trying to fill out some kind of report with justifying specific hours. I explained to people, here’s the number of hours I need for stage one or phase one. And I tried to adopt their lingo, because if you come in with a bunch of your own terminology, it’s like, that doesn’t work. So if they call it phase one, I call it phase one. So I tried to just explain to him, here’s what the deliverables will be. And here’s about how much time need in duration to get this done for you. And does that work for you? Do you need, you know, fewer deliverables for faster? That kind of thing. I just find that that’s a better conversation than “How many hours can you give me each week?” And you know, that’s sort of like measuring the wrong thing?


Alastair McDermott  38:44

Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And in terms of, kind of the consulting process of first having a diagnosis phase, and then diagnosis and prescription and then implementation, sorry, then then kind of strategy and then implementation. So that do you work mostly on that strategy part? Or do you do a lot of implementation as well?


Molly Angel  39:05

No, I’m not big on the implementation. Well, for one thing in change management, what you’re always looking to do is identify people who are your change evangelist, your champions, the sort of subject matter experts that everyone is going to listen to, and everybody will be happy to learn from, because they’ve got a lot of credibility established with a group and your change agents, the people who will take responsibility for kind of moving the ball forward on making sure that people are, you know, comfortable with a new environment or comfortable with a new process.  So I identify people like that early in the process and between setting up a communication plan and a training plan, they really take the implementation forward for change management themselves. There’s a lot of the agile process that really works well for implementation from the perspective of change management because you always want to create that feedback loop and change management to understand what is and what isn’t working for people, so that you sort of smooth out that process, and you, you know, you give people the opportunity to adopt and commit, which are the goals of change management, because they are only working with people that are already credible to them, then it’s not a stranger in their midst telling them, you know, something, you know, I couldn’t possibly do justice to telling a software development engineer exactly what to focus on.


Alastair McDermott  40:29

Yeah, yeah. So so you’re helping you’re helping the client to, to implement themselves, but you’re kind of in that supervisory role.


Molly Angel  40:38

Yeah, as I say, you know, talk about the tight, loose, tight. I mean, it’s really helping leadership, understand, absolutely imperative that they get the why communicated extremely clearly. And it’s funny, because I’ve run into leaders in many organizations that they’ll tell you the heck out of the what, man they’ve got that dialed in. But when you say, but why are you doing that? It’s like, huh, huh? It’s sometimes it can be a little bit hard. But once you have that breakthrough, and people understand why they’re doing it, and why now, because, you know, there’s a lot of things that are important. So why are we doing this? Now?


Alastair McDermott  41:15

That sounds very similar to, to what Jonathan Stark talks about. These are actually three of the questions I have on the on my sales questions sheet, yeah.


Molly Angel  41:23



Alastair McDermott  41:24

Why this? Why now? Why me? So why are we doing this? Why are we doing it now? Is it urgent? And then why me as in, you know, what? Why have you picked me over somebody cheaper? So those are those three questions?


Molly Angel  41:35

Well, yeah, there’s always so much to do that. You got to answer why now?


Alastair McDermott  41:38



Molly Angel  41:39

Why? Why is this a priority over the other 30 things that we know could be getting worked on? But anyway, yeah. You know, so that’s why implementation is not really where I go.


Alastair McDermott  41:51

Yeah, I’m just watching the clock here. So can I ask you, is there a business failure that you’ve experienced that you can tell us about what you learned from it?


Molly Angel  41:58

Probably the biggest failure that I learned. And it was very early on, fortunately, and made a big difference is with a client, who was so you know, passionate about what they were trying to get done. They had a software that they had implemented years years ago, and did all that initial training, but really had never optimized it and hadn’t kept there. You know, new people, as they were coming in, as well trained is that initial bunch of very typical, but they were super passionate about addressing all of these problems, and really getting this all fixed. And so back to my analogy about you know, we want to go in a Toyota to Seattle, it was like they were really clear about what they wanted me to do. And I didn’t really question it. I just said, Okay, well, this is what we’ll do you want these kinds of meetings, you want this kind of process, you want to use these existing channels, and so forth, I can help you with that.  It turned out to be the exact wrong way to approach their overall problem and their overall issues. And even worse, they had some really not very good folks trying to deliver on it, you know, not like evil people, but people who just really didn’t have the skill sets. So having to go back to them and say, You know what, it can’t be done the way that you want it to be done. And I’m so sorry that I just didn’t, you know, tell you that right at the beginning, because I don’t think I understood it. Well. Yeah, I guess you guess you didn’t get to finish that job.


Alastair McDermott  43:25

Yeah, it’s tough. But at least you held up your hand. So but yeah, I can imagine that’s a that’s a tough situation to be in.


Molly Angel  43:32

So I learned.


Alastair McDermott  43:33



Molly Angel  43:34

I learned.


Alastair McDermott  43:34

Yeah, I think, you know, I was talking to, well, everybody who I’ve had on the podcast, I’ve asked that question. And everybody has answered, you know, well, I have so many mistakes and failures in the past. Which one should we talk about? That’s because everybody successful has failures in the past. You know, that’s just the way it goes. So,


Molly Angel  43:51

It is. Absolutely.


Alastair McDermott  43:53

I want to ask, is there any book or resource or anything that recently that’s inspired you or be useful for you?


Molly Angel  43:59

Yeah, I tell I tell the story. Well, my number one book that I recommend for everyone, is by a woman named Patty Azzarello. And it’s called “Rise”. And it talks a lot about how to be successful in a corporate setting. But there’s so many lessons for all of us. And it’s really about being you know, an advocate for yourself, quite frankly. And, you know, just a book that I recommend routinely. And I wish she had written it 30 years ago, but that’s that’s the way it goes. I’m glad I found it now.  But the other book that recently has really captured my attention is “Who Not How”, and it talks a lot about, you know, maybe the reason you’re procrastinating is because you’re not particularly good at something. Hire somebody to help you do that. Don’t keep you know, twisting around in the wind, find somebody who can help you. And so the whole idea of “Who Not How” has really had a big impact on me.


Alastair McDermott  44:52

Yeah, that’s Dan Sullivan. And I read that book last year and it was, it was, that was really crucial for me and just thinking about that, the way that I hire and I took on somebody full time after having a lot of part time and subcontractors I took on somebody full time for the first time last year. So that was that was important. And the other one then was “Rise” by Patty Azzarello. Yeah, “Three practical steps for advancing your career sending out as a leader and liking your life”. I love it. So we’ll link both of those in the show notes for folks.  Is, do you like, do you like fiction? Do you read fiction books?


Molly Angel  45:25

So I’ve got like this weird fixation on Scandinavian murder mysteries.


Alastair McDermott  45:31

Okay, cool.


Molly Angel  45:32

So I can I can tell you a lot about authors like Yo Nesbo and Henning Mankell and I have no idea why that all appeals to me. I couldn’t tell you, Alastair.


Alastair McDermott  45:44



Molly Angel  45:44

But I love I love Scandinavian murder mysteries.


Alastair McDermott  45:47

Yeah. Well, we tend to watch a lot of that well, because we’re in Europe, but we tend to watch a lot of the European and particularly Scandinavian TV, you know? So yep. Yeah. I would recommend go check it and Netflix for that kind of stuff.


Molly Angel  46:00

So that about the bleak landscape. Settle down.


Alastair McDermott  46:03

They have amazing landscape up there. That is true. Awesome, awesome.  Okay, Molly. If people are interested in learning more about you, they want to find out they want to find out your your podcasts, they’re looking to sign up for your email list you met you mentioned, where can they go to find you?


Molly Angel  46:18

Yeah, there’s my website, which is And there’s the ability to sign up for the email list and get the newsletter. And also, I always post the most recent podcast there can also find my podcasts on Spotify and Apple and so forth. But I also have a weekly email,


Alastair McDermott  46:39

That’s the change manage, The Change Manifesto podcasts.


Molly Angel  46:41

The Change Manifesto podcast, yeah. And that I actually offer a Week to Change, w-e-e-k-t-o-c-h-a-n-g-e newsletter, and it’s a, it’s a series of emails that you get for five days to kind of tee you up to be able to learn about and use some methodologies of change management in your own practice.


Alastair McDermott  47:04

Cool. Okay. Well, Molly Angel, thank you so much for being on the show.


Molly Angel  47:08

You’re welcome. Lovely to meet you.


Alastair McDermott  47:13

If you would like some help with the journey to authority, I have a free webinar available at TheRecognizedAuthority/webinar, and there’s a link to that in the show notes. You can sign up for the live webinar. If you can’t make it, there will be a replay available. It is purely an informational webinar. There’s nothing for sale. It is just a webinar to help you take that next step on the journey to authority. I’ll have some free downloads and tools to help you with that available if you sign up. So that’s at


Voiceover  47:47

Thanks for listening to The Recognized Authority with Alastair McDermott. Subscribe today and don’t miss an episode. Find out more at