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How Vertical Specialization Allows You to Punch Above Your Weight with Wolfram Moritz

April 30, 2021
Episode 6
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!.

You sometimes hear David vs Goliath stories in business, so when Wolfram Moritz told me how his 7-person firm beat a competitor with over 200,000 employees I wasn’t shocked but I had to know more about how they differentiated their firm.

In this episode, Wolfram and Alastair discuss vertical specialization and how to become the authority in a billion dollar industry. 

Show Notes

I love Wolfram’s story. It’s yet another example of how specializing in a single industry allows a tiny company to punch well above their weight class, in this case beating out a company that has over 200,000 employees. It’s astonishing.

There’s quite a few gems in what Wolfram told us today, here are 3 take-away points for me:

  1. The first point is how a key client for them was an industry association. In Wolfram’s case working with them was serendipitous, but I think this is one you can take control of –  if you want to work with dentists, can you first do some work for the “National Association of Dental Practices” or whatever it’s called where you are. Look for associations and organisations where your ideal client congregates.
  2. My second take-away point is how they did a lot of research, which he mentioned was unpaid, without compensation, but in reality I think it was paid for after the fact by the projects and clients they got from the intellectual property and how that research helped them be known at the European Union level.
  3. And finally – and if you know me you knew this was coming – the biggest take-away for me is the power of vertical specialization, that is focusing your business on just a single industry. It allows a tiny company to dominate.

Learn more about Wolfram and his expertise through these links:

Guest Bio

Wolfram is Partner and General Manager at MPW Institute LLC. MPW have been dealing with the areas of energy law and energy services for over 15 years, particularly development of off balance and balancing strategies, energy performance contracting and the use of renewable energies and innovation.


Wolfram Moritz  00:00

That’s part of the first research you need to make you need to find out who are the circles where those where the industry meets. And you need to know which conferences are these people attending who is organising those those conferences you need to have that and you need to know what journals are they reading? What in what journals? Do you find anything about that particular subject?


Alastair McDermott  00:27

Hello, and welcome to Marketing for Consultants! This is the podcast that helps independent consultants and subject matter experts to get more clients without having to beg for referrals or make soul destroying cold calls.  I’m your host, Alastair McDermott and today my guest is Wolfram Moritz, from MPW Institute. “MPW: Thinking Energy Ahead.”  This is a very specialized business in the energy sector. And they deal with energy, electricity, tax reimbursement and development of off-balance and balancing strategies. And honestly, I do not have a clue what that means. But I do know that it is a hugely successful business. So that’s what I’m going to ask Wolfram about today. So to start with Wolfram, can you give us a bit of background about how you got into working in the energy sector?


Wolfram Moritz  01:17

Yeah, I’m happy to do that. So we started off, or I started off my professional career, just as a regular tax consultant, accountant, auditor, you know, the usual stuff, you’re doing financial statements, tax returns, accounting, that type of stuff. And when I finally got out of out of employment, and started my own firm, that’s what I wanted to grow in, I wanted to be a local hero in the, in the accountancy world. So that was the starting point. But I quickly realised that, hey, this is this is a business where a lot of people are are in and, and a lot of people are trying to sell their services, the rates are, were going down at that time, it was it was not a time of prosperity in Germany was actually declining a little bit. So it was getting harder and harder. And at a certain point, I had a connection to an association, who was just trying to promote a certain business model. And that business model was heat supply. Now we all know heat supply from from district heating for for almost centuries, I would say that’s that’s a known model. But what they were specialised in and what they had their focus on was heat supply in building by building. So a company would come in would instal a new heating system, and would sell not the heating system, not the energy, but the heat. So they would meet or the heat and would sell, basically heat as a service. And I thought this is this is quite interesting. And I dug a little bit into the into the subject myself found out that that in the beginning, when when first energy was sold, pretty much that was the business model in the beginning. So when when Thomas Edison started selling electricity, he didn’t sell kilowatt hours, because nobody knew what a kilowatt hour is, and what that means and what is it doing to you. So he was selling the service by light bulb.


Alastair McDermott  03:27



Wolfram Moritz  03:28

So every light bulb had a charge. And that was the way he was selling, he was selling the service of electricity. And I thought this is actually this is a pretty, pretty interesting, interesting idea. So that connection to that to that association was, was actually pretty nice. They first just asked me a couple of Tax Questions, they wanted to know certain things that were unique to that business, accounting questions, how to put things on the balance sheet, how not to put things on the balance sheet, what is off balance on balance, all these things? And, and that made me thinking about what’s the future of my business? Where do I want to go with my business? Do I want to be the local hero in tax consulting and financial statements and stuff? Or do I want to go on a specialisation that is on a certain type of clients?


Alastair McDermott  04:18

At this point, were you just solo yourself? Or did you have stuff?


Wolfram Moritz  04:21

And at that point, I think we were about 10 in the office was about the size.


Alastair McDermott  04:29

Okay, so two people who are solo that’s very big to people who are big. That’s quite small. So yeah,


Wolfram Moritz  04:36

yeah, exactly. So it was it was a and at first it wasn’t like the whole company switching over to this to this new business model. I would say eight out of the 10 we’re still working on on on financial reports and and accounting stuff.


Alastair McDermott  04:53

So you were you were a local General Services accounting firm at that point. Exactly.


Wolfram Moritz  04:57

Exactly. So But then, of course, the problem you’re running into is the first problem is how to get how to build people trust in you. How do how do businesses who are interested in that business model? Think about you when they think about that business model? Of course, when, when helping out this association with with a little bit of expertise on the tech side on the accounting side, that made me known a little bit. But at the same time, you’ve pretty quickly understand that you don’t know enough about how this business works. What’s the particularities of this business? And how can you connect your expertise to that, so that’s, that was actually when I started to, to, to think about, Okay, I need to I need to come up with publications in journals, I need to make sure that I’m visible in any conferences they have, and things like that. So that was that my my goal to to be visible on the on the scientific, more or less scientific side or the side that that provides, provides consultancy, and scientific knowledge to this community? And as well under their conferences.


Alastair McDermott  06:16

Okay, so I just want to recap here. So, you had a, you had a general accounting firm, you got a Was it a whale client or just a standard client? Or do you get a couple of different clients all in this one sector at the same time? How did that happen? Was it


Wolfram Moritz  06:35

the clients actually came came actually later than then that that worked for the association. So the starting the starting point, was that connection to the association they were looking for someone doing doing actually their tax work.


Alastair McDermott  06:49

Right. Okay, that


Wolfram Moritz  06:50

got me involved into into their, their actual core business as well. Okay. And that time, I have no clients in that area.


Alastair McDermott  07:00

Right. So yes, that’s very interesting. So, so you got in on the ground floor with with an association where where these, these clients are actually collecting together? Yeah, yeah. I think that’s key. Actually, that’s, that’s a really, that’s a really interesting point. And so you decided, thinking about your business, you decided, hey, this, this looks like an opportunity to specialise, and be something other than that kind of a full services local hero, as he called us. Yeah,


Wolfram Moritz  07:28

exactly. And at first, I was thinking that that might be an interesting add on. That was how it started, that might be an interesting add on. But I wasn’t thinking about completely abandoning the, the regular tax and accounting work at that point in time. But, but then, over time, when this actually grew, and more and more clients were coming, so they were, they were seeing me and my colleagues on conferences, and we wrote articles, and they read the articles had questions about the articles. So all of that then led to, to first one, then two, then five clients in this area, which actually then code totally changed the, the way we did work, because in the past, as you know, accounting work is very much this is a this is industrial work, you know, you need to you need to have your processes in place, and everything needs to need to work to certain standards. But when you’re when you’re going into into the mother consultancy business, almost everything’s a one off. I mean, you You certainly can can apply certain standards, but it needs creative thinking. It needs communication skills, that completely changed the way we the way we approach things. And, and that led then, at one point after I think about five, six years to the question, so what are we going to do? Do we do we stay in both? Or do we actually sell the accounting business? And only do we only do the consulting business for those companies?


Alastair McDermott  09:02

And so, so, okay, I just want to to focus on something you mentioned there. You talked about actually changing the work that you were doing from this industrial worker, he called it to strategy and consulting. I think David Baker calls this the headroom and the hands room. Are you familiar with that? Yeah. Yeah. So so he’s talking about, if you come in the door of the hands room, which is where you’re doing implementation, it can be very hard to move up a level to the to the strategy work, which is in what he calls the headroom. And so what you’re talking about is you’re you’re you are now going in in the other door to where you’re doing that more strategic work that more valuable work. Right, exactly. I mean, you’re not doing the kind of the boring implementation, process driven stuff. Right.


Wolfram Moritz  09:51

Exactly. And it was it was interesting, because at first I thought this is a nice way to actually attract clients to my usual business. So get their accounting work, get their financial statements, their tax returns. But actually, that never happened. I mean, rarely, there were one or two over the years who actually asked us to actually do do some, some work some handwork, as you say, but most of them strictly differentiated the two, they had someone either in house or outsource, who did the audit the accounting work, but they asked us for very specialised strategic consultancy, and, and there was the there was the point where you have to decide you can’t do both at the same time and a company that maybe at that time when we had those discussions were 20 people, okay, even even having 20 people is is, is too small, to run two divisions at the same time with a completely different mindset. And that’s where we were, we had to decide what are we? What are we going to do? What are we going to focus on?


Alastair McDermott  10:57

Okay. And so, what was the decision about about selling that the implementation work?


Wolfram Moritz  11:03

It was, it was hard at first because the the fear, obviously was we’re losing this, this this nice cushion that is coming in every week, you know, every week the work comes in, right? We monitoring as well, yeah, it’s it’s recurring, it’s happening every year, it’s happening every month is very, very much predictable. And it gives you a nice feeling of security. But at the same time, it gives you a lot of headache, because even in that business, it’s not easy. And we had a lot of young women who are doing most of the work. And and they change their lives, you know, they have they they change the priorities, you have changed personnel all the time. And it’s and it’s not that easy. So, but the fear was definitely, we’re not going to make this you know, when we’re, we just need to make two or three false steps. Everyone knows about it. And then we’re done in the business. But at one point, we had to, had to make the decision. And I’m very glad that we actually said no, let’s sell the, the the accounting business. And we did that at the end of 2008. sold it completely. And that was the end of this, that kicked out 15 of the by then 22 employees or members of the team. So we downsized from 22 to actually seven.


Alastair McDermott  12:25

Wow. Okay.


Wolfram Moritz  12:28

But very few people.


Alastair McDermott  12:29

Felt felt very, very scary.


Wolfram Moritz  12:33

It did. I mean, we kept we kept our offices the same. So the offices were completely oversized at that point in time. But anyway, it gave us a lot of room to breathe and everyone. Everyone had had a huge office. We were in an old old building with high ceilings and and that was it was deliberating it was deliberating. Okay. So after that switch, we only had we only had specialised lawyers, text consultants, strategy consultants, only people who are doing just head work. And we had just two secretaries that was that, because everyone was doing his own secretary work.


Alastair McDermott  13:12

Again, all of this is just purely related to the energy sector.


Wolfram Moritz  13:15

Right? Right.


Alastair McDermott  13:17



Wolfram Moritz  13:17

At that point in time, it had already morphed a little bit, just from that, from that heat, heat supply model, to other things that became important. cogeneration became important, renewables became important. All that had to be included. But we realised very quickly, the questions are evolving around similar subjects. And as long as you understand what these guys are doing, we’re all not engineers, we have no idea how technically, all of this works. But you need to have an understanding of that business, you need to have seen a cogeneration power plant, walk around it and ask a couple questions in order to understand what this really is. And that was, that was then I think, what distinguishes us then from other companies, even large companies, were doing similar work.


Alastair McDermott  14:05

Yeah, absolutely. And so you are now and when you when you develop this expertise in the in these other sections that as he said, they became important, is that because you realise they were important, because you had become you had become specialist, you knew the sector better, you knew what issues were coming up, or, you know, what, was that just an environmental change? Or was that something that you had kind of discovered through just knowing your clients better?


Wolfram Moritz  14:33

It’s, it’s a little bit of both. I mean, you have the situation where clients just simply asking you questions, and at first you’re like, I have no idea what he’s talking about. I don’t even know why he has that problem. And I need to, I need to dig a little deeper. And, and of course, that that, that triggers a lot of research that you don’t get paid for, because nobody pays your education, right. You need to do that. yourself. But but once once you have it, you realise Oh, there’s there are follow up questions, there are things that I can bring up, and that I can now raise. And and then it was interesting to see the clients thinking about those things and saying, Well, yeah, that’s that’s actually something we haven’t thought about. And it’s really good to, to, to, to think it through, which again, help building that trust. You need to educate yourself. Yeah.


Alastair McDermott  15:29

Right. And so at this point, you’re six or seven people. Right? And you are now known in at least in in, in Germany, you’re now known as the, the energy industry specialist consulting firm. Right. So, I know at some point, two things happen. I know that you, you beat out a large organisation for for a contract? And can you tell us a little bit about that first?


Wolfram Moritz  15:59

Yeah, the competitors in this area. For us, we’re all the big the big accounting firms, the usual names and the big law firms. So that’s usually either the consultancy that the company has been using so far, or that is bidding on the same on the same type of work. And, and we were, we were able several times to, to actually knock out the knockout the big, big companies. Like, like the big accounting firms, I don’t want to mean to mention any names, but everyone knows those, those firms around the globe.


Alastair McDermott  16:36

So let me let me just say this, because I was prepared for this. And I looked up the one that you mentioned to me on our previous conversation. And as of 2019, they had 284,000 employees, which is astonishing. So you beat this company, where they have 284,000 staff, and you’re 6 or 7 people in this in an office in Germany, and they’re in 160 countries. That’s just astonishing to me, that – that to me is is the number one kind of indicator of this power of specialisation.


Wolfram Moritz  17:12

It is. Because you need to realise, yes, there are there are 200,000-300,000 people working for this company, but who of them has the expertise that you have? And that’s that’s what we were trying to find out. We’re trying to find out how, how big is the group in that company, for example, who is specialised in the energy business, and who of those can actually compete with our, with our competence with our specialisation. And we realised that even in those large firms, the group that was that was working on this particular subject was even smaller than ours. Right. So it doesn’t matter how big the company is, of course, they can draw from all kinds of resources. If if the subject branches out into mergers and acquisition into into certain specialised things on the on the accounting side or on the on the legal side, but at the same time, they will, they will not be able to beat you on your knowledge of the business and of the business environment in a particular area, if the niche is small enough, number one, and number two, the niche is not yet fully developed. So I wouldn’t I wouldn’t try and do that in in any type of oil industry, for example. Because that’s well established that has been done for for 100 years. Nobody. I mean, it’s very, it’s very hard to build to build up something in this area where all the claims are taken.


Alastair McDermott  18:43

There’s already a lot of specialists there. And then even the big generalists they do have specialised divisions, just for it for those companies. Right, right. So I’m interested in your thoughts then on the different types of specialisation, particularly if you’ve gone down a vertical specialisation model, where you work in one particular industry. And it sounds like you do all sorts now of different different types of strategy for them. So your your actual services are quite broad, but you’re you’ve got this narrow industry. Focus, right.


Wolfram Moritz  19:19

That’s pretty much exactly it. So after we’ve, we figured out how the industry works, it was easier, for example, to come up with specialised with specialised audit offers for them. A lot of the energy business needs to be audited in Germany because we have all these subsidy schemes, the the feed in tariffs and stuff like that everything needs to be audited according to the law. And again, if you want to do that, as an auditor, you need to you need to understand the business more than you need to understand auditing. And and again that that sets us apart and we have the ability to provide our IT services at ad rates were the were the big companies, the big audit firms have problems competing with us. And at the same time, we’re still making good money with it. Because we have this down to down to a pretty good science.


Alastair McDermott  20:14

Right? Because you’re you’re working only with those types of companies over and over and over again.


Wolfram Moritz  20:19



Alastair McDermott  20:20



Wolfram Moritz  20:21

So in total, then we’re probably doing more than then most of the big firms are doing more of these audits than most of the big firms are doing. But at the same time, it’s it’s still a small niche.


Alastair McDermott  20:32

And just to close a loop I opened earlier on, I mentioned that was there was two things that the other thing was you were actually asked by the European Union? Are you did you publish something for the EU? Is that right?


Wolfram Moritz  20:43

Yeah, that’s, that is right. Because we always try to, to, to to do some more to play not not not National League, not Premier League, but Champions League. If you want to do that, you have to, you have to see where are the competitors? And where are the people who know something about this on the on the European level and on the global level? So yeah, I tried to then attend first conferences, that the European Union organised on energy services business, tried to get in contact with the people there, saw what they needed. And and what we did then was we we, we launched the study on the energy services business in Germany. And that fed into the the European study of the of the energy services business in Europe. So there’s a I think it’s bi annual, the European Union tries to look at this energy services business and tries to see is it growing? Is the regulatory framework still, right? There’s something need to be changed. And and and that’s the European Union needs those studies. So we were able to feed in for for almost four, I think, even six years into into those into those studies. And we were we were the ones quoted for what’s the what’s the market size in Germany, what’s the Yeah, what is going on?


Alastair McDermott  22:03

Right. Okay, so so the EU are now quoting you, you and your research, I think it doesn’t really get much better than that in terms of credibility. Right.


Wolfram Moritz  22:12

Yeah. And, and again, it’s not it’s not because we’re the smartest and greatest in the world. It’s, it’s just because we were there when it was needed. And, and we were willing to put out the work without compensation. I mean, that’s Yeah, that’s what you have to realise. If you want to go down that path, you will be working a lot. Without without any compensation. You can’t blame anyone for that.


Alastair McDermott  22:33

This is so this is a this is the learning about this, about this niche. The the research that kind of work, right?


Wolfram Moritz  22:41

Yes. Yeah. Okay. And, and studies like the like, for example, figuring out the market size and figuring out the main players, and where are they going, and so on. That helped not only fitting in that study of the European Union, it helped us a lot, because we learned a lot about the about the industry, apart from our work with, with, at that time ago, already a few associations who were who were kind of helping those those companies in that area.


Alastair McDermott  23:11

Right, so. So you talked about attending conferences, and you talked about doing research? Can I just ask what is marketing to you now, like, when you think of doing some marketing activities? What does that mean to you? And how would you go about it?


Wolfram Moritz  23:25

It means it clearly means I have to write articles, and I have to attend conferences. If if there’s a particular conference I want to speak in, because it’s, it’s the greatest conference in the area, then, sometimes I first have to attend, talk to the right people, and then hopefully get a speaking assignment later on in. Okay, so, networking, networking, and but always making sure that I have a chance to present my expertise.


Alastair McDermott  23:55

Hmm. Yeah. And so and that’s targeting. And Jonathan Stark would say, it’s writing and speaking, writing and speaking,


Wolfram Moritz  24:03

Writing, speaking.


Alastair McDermott  24:04

Yeah. And so then the other part of that is, is obviously there’s some networking there, but because you’re so tightly focused, you know, where to write, and you know, what conferences to attend? Right?


Wolfram Moritz  24:17

Yeah. That’s part of the first research you need to make you need to find out who are the circles where those where the industry meets, and, and in Germany, a lot of is, is arranged around associations, and even on the European level, it’s arranged around associations who have certain have a certain focus, you need to know which conferences are these people attending? Who is organising those those conferences you need to have that and and you need to know what journals are they reading? What in what journals Do you find anything about that particular subject.


Alastair McDermott  24:53

And this again, because this comes back for me to the vertical versus horizontal specialisation thing because Because a lot of people are fearful of vertical specialisation, because with vertical specialisation, you’re saying we’re only going to work with this one industry, or this this one group. Whereas with horizontal, you’re saying we’re going to focus on this this particular problem for everybody or for all for you know, for a very large group. And so with horizontal, it doesn’t feel as much like you’re, you’re turning away opportunity. Whereas with vertical specialisation, it really feels you feel the squeeze of Okay, we’re turning right, everybody except the energy industry, which is, you know, it’s got to be, you know, a couple of 100 companies write something like that. I don’t know what your market size is in Germany, or, or the EU.


Wolfram Moritz  25:41

Yeah, I mean, in Germany, the market size, because it’s a lot of small, small utility companies that are that are owned by by the local municipality, you have about 1500 to 1500 companies in Germany, Europe wide, I think it’s a it’s about 4000.


Alastair McDermott  26:00

Okay, so that feels like a pretty small number compared to the millions of businesses that are organisations that are out there. But because you have this vertical specialisation, you know which conferences to go to, and you know, which which journals to write, write for. And you know, which people to network with.


Wolfram Moritz  26:20

Yeah, which is a lot harder when you do the horizontal specialisation because there are already people who are thought leader in certain subjects, especially when you’re talking about our area of tax and, and, and legal consulting. Man, there are legal firms, who are specialised, we have the horizontal specialisation already done 15 years ago, they are known for their expertise in this area. And to find a new niche on the horizontal level, that’s pretty hard, there’s not a lot going on. And, and, and you’re running the risk of, of pretty much losing that with with by the blink of an eye, because because the niche all of a sudden doesn’t exist anymore. People are moving on to other to other subjects, or it’s eaten up by other ideas, that is a little bit different when when you do the vertical specialisation because this industry, the people then you know, they are, they are moving in certain directions if if the business model you have been focusing on is not on Vogue anymore, and they need they need to move on, you can move on with them. But you know, the community, the community, and I learned that pretty quickly, the community doesn’t change. Of course, you have people moving from here to there, but they always stay connected somewhat. And the end and the core team of I would say maybe in Germany, it’s it’s maybe 200 people. That doesn’t change a lot.


Alastair McDermott  27:49

Yeah. So so the, the network that you’ve built up the knowledge that you’ve built up, even if the problem changes, even if the technology changes, all of that is still still work, yeah, invaluable.


Wolfram Moritz  28:02

And we had it, we had a very, very defining experience regarding that we had, we had specific tax rebates in Germany up to the year 2011. And we were very specialised in getting those tax rebates. And we had, we had a steep up climb in the years prior to 2011. Because we were so specialised in these in these in these tax rebates. Right. And all of a sudden, the the government decided to cut these completely back and they don’t exist anymore after 2011. So that was that was the defining moment for us. Will we survive that shift? Will we be able to help the companies who were focusing on on on getting those those tax incentives in order to finance their services? Will we can we help them to move on to a new business model a different business model? And the answer is yes, we were able to because it was it was a group effort. Everyone in the industry was interested to move to something else. And we knew the problem and we could talk to them about the solutions. So it wasn’t we were left on our own and they moving on now to to other people and have other people all of a sudden consulting them. No, no, no, they stayed with us because we were able to help them of course then then you start your education process again when you’re talking about about new subjects may be in the industry, but it’s it’s not that steep anymore because you have all the connections you know the people you know the industry, you know their problems. Now, it’s just making yourself comfortable with the new legislation, for example, a new type of regulation maybe that’s a lot easier and for for lawyers and tax consultants. That’s that’s what we do all day. So that’s, that’s not a big deal. And we manage that pretty easily. That was there was a turnaround within one year, and we had no drop in revenue actually.


Alastair McDermott  30:00

Wow, okay, that’s, that’s that’s pretty incredible actually. Yeah. So there was something else I just wanted to, to come back to, which is this industry association that reached out to you at the start. That So first of all, what was it luck that they reached out to you? Was that just sheer sheer luck? Or was there? Was there something else? Like? Did you target them in some way?


Wolfram Moritz  30:25

That that was good luck and coincidence? Okay, not nothing else. Because the I, a friend of a friend of mine was was asked by them, hey, he was doing their textbook and they asked him, can you speak at one of our conferences about this particular text problem? And he said, I’m not I’m not I’m not speaking to anyone. I’m not doing this. This is not my I’m not presenting. But a friend of mine, who is also a tax consultant. He can do it. So okay. He introduced them to me. And then that was the starting point.


Alastair McDermott  30:54

Yeah, just so so it was somewhat look, but it was also that you were open to the opportunity when it when it came up.


Wolfram Moritz  31:01

And and open to the opportunity. I think that’s a key word. Yeah, you need to look around and find those big because we all stumble across those those opportunities. But 99 out of 100, we just let go by, because we don’t we don’t see it as an opportunity. It’s it’s and and you can see something like this as a chore. You can say, Well, now I have to give this talk that cost me, I don’t know, 20 hours in preparation. And it’s half an hour talk and they don’t even pay for it. Yeah, what’s that worth?


Alastair McDermott  31:30

There was there was an interesting study, done, I think it was actually by a magician for for TV in the UK. But basically, what it showed was that people who felt that they were unlucky, actually did not see opportunity when it was right in front of them. Somebody who who self reports, as I’m lucky, you know, they pay a 20 pound note on his doorstep, and he steps over, but he’s going out and he literally doesn’t see us, you know, things like that, you know, so I think there is a there’s a big part of it is to actually being open to that opportunity. The other part of that is the Industry Association. It wasn’t just one client in the industry, you actually got in on the ground floor with a group. And I think that’s really important as well, because if it was just that you picked up a client, a single client, in the industry sector, I think you probably would have gotten that a bit differently. Do you think that’s


Wolfram Moritz  32:22

I fully agree, I fully agree. Of course, if you have a client right from the beginning, it’s the advantage is that you at least get paid for your for the education a little bit. So I I didn’t get paid for my for my own education in this area for for I would say almost two years. But but at the end, you get right into the as you said, you get right into the head work, you don’t have to go through the, through the through the handwork, and, and yeah, and build your build your relationship up, you’re starting there, because you’re already a renowned expert in this area.


Alastair McDermott  33:00

Right. And by the way, just just for anybody listening, there’s another way of thinking of the head work enhance worker strategy and implementation. I can’t remember who came up with this, or if it’s been around for a long time, but it’s, it’s it’s diagnosis, prescription implementation reimplementation. Just another way of thinking about that as the the different type of of work that you can do. I know in web design, which is the world that I came from, it was, you know, your marketing strategy at the top, and then building your website, and then maintaining that website. And that’s kind of the different layers and and you’re dropping in value each time. Because the maintenance work is very, very low value. It’s essential, but it’s very low value, you don’t get get to charge a premium force. But for the marketing strategy work, yeah, you should do because that’s where you can really move the dial.


Wolfram Moritz  33:54

Exactly. Exactly. And that’s, that’s why it’s so important to get in to get into that type of work. And and it’s worth investing in it. No, that’s that’s the other thing. Or sometimes people are afraid Well, I have to do a lot of work. And I have to spend a lot of hours in order to get that expertise to write an article or to prepare a conference. Yeah, that that is a lot of work. But even if it doesn’t pay immediately it It builds your reputation. And that’s the important thing, because people need to build trust in you and need to see you as the expert in a certain area. And I just want to mention, I wanted to mention on the on this opportunities. I had a I had a saying that every time we had we had we had talked to a client and maybe it was even a difficult discussion. So I always said to my partner when we were back in the car and driving home, or back in the train and driving home. I always asked the question So what did we learn today? There was always my question, what did we learn today? It’s not It’s not about Hey, great. The client was happy. It was what did we learn? What what element did we learn about today that we didn’t know before. And what opportunity did we identify that we didn’t know about before? So it was always the question after every, each and every little appointment that we had, what do we learn today? We didn’t learn anything, it was a waste of time, actually, even if it was paid for.


Alastair McDermott  35:16

That that’s really interesting. And that is literally being open to opportunities is asking that question. Yeah. So. So if you were talking to somebody who is a generalist, a generalist consultant of some kind, and they want to niche down, or they’re considering it, the vertical specialisation concept scares the crap out of them really does, because you’re turning away everybody else. So can you what advice would you have, for somebody who’s thinking about that?


Wolfram Moritz  35:46

I would, I would say, try it, I mean, you need to smooth them, there’s, there’s no way to, to have a big a big switch and just move into another another direction, you need to first develop that openness. See the opportunities, try to develop them, and be willing to fail. I mean, if it if it doesn’t work a certain area doesn’t, doesn’t develop the way you think, well then look for look for other opportunities. And I would also say, look for something where you’re, where your heart gets involved. Yeah, where you have where you go, you can develop a certain passion. Because then that was there was something I also learned that if you are passionate about something, then it’s a lot easier to convince people about your expertise. If it’s boring to you, or you don’t like it, or it’s, it’s, you know, you can you can have the greatest knowledge about a certain subject, people will always be like, Yeah, I don’t know if he’s the right guy for us.


Alastair McDermott  36:50

Yeah, yeah, you have to be able to speak from the heart about it,


Wolfram Moritz  36:53

Yes. And then when the action is available, and you have the right opportunity, and to develop into it, try to develop it and and reserve reserve a portion of your time in developing these opportunities. And that, and once that develops in the right direction, and you get a better feel for it, then you might be willing to really pull the switch.


Alastair McDermott  37:19

And I think this is why specialisation takes some time, because it does, you need to let things develop a little bit in front of you. You can’t just say, Okay, this is the new direction. Let’s go.


Wolfram Moritz  37:31

Yeah. Yeah. And, and, and we made, we made twists and turns over the years that I would, if you would have asked me 15 years ago, I would have probably laid out this completely differently. So right. But again, you have to be along the way you have to be open for the opportunities that come along the way and then twist it and turn it a little bit in order to get it get it into the right right direction.


Alastair McDermott  37:56

Okay. Okay, let me shift gears then. Is there any Is there any business books that that have really inspired you? Or that you that you really like? is there is there any kind of resources that you that you, you like podcasts, maybe or anything like that,


Wolfram Moritz  38:12

I, I tell you, I tell you the truth, I read a lot of business books over the years, and they all had their time. But they all failed at certain points. When it comes to when it comes to general advice about about how to how to do arrange for your business dealings, I go, I go actually back to a very old book, I go to the Bible. And there are certain things in there that are very simple, like treat other people as they as you want to be treated. Yeah, that’s a business advice. Actually, that’s that’s not just that’s not just something that is that is something to be said from a from from a church. This is this is this is good business advice. If you treat other people as you want to be treated, that will always come back positively. So things like that I think you can find you can find certain things. In that book that is perfect business advice. Time proven.


Alastair McDermott  39:10

And do you have a fiction book that you like,


Wolfram Moritz  39:13

I wouldn’t say a book, but it goes into the same direction. I love Star Trek. I love Star Trek. And I like the like the society model that is portrayed there, which is basically everyone is contributing to something that the society in general wants to do. Nobody’s nobody’s expecting a monetary return. But it but everyone’s taken care of at the same time. And and I thought that is a that is a nice model for a company I want to work for. And I want to work with and I want to be part of that you have people around you who are actually driven by their willingness to support to support the entire thing, and they are not, they’re not promoting themselves, they are promoting the greater good. And I and that is something that, that I particularly like in Star Trek, the way they work together they collaborate in order to get something done without asking for for personal compensation. And, and, and that’s important, especially if you want to if you want to go down that route of vertical specialisation because there will be phases in the middle where it’s not paying off. And you have to get you have to get through that or at least be willing to take that on for the entire organisation to grow and and to prosper.


Alastair McDermott  40:43

Absolutely. Is there a question that I should have asked you that I haven’t asked you today?


Wolfram Moritz  40:50

I don’t I don’t think I think you you you will last time you asked the question of how much of your time are you spending on on on client work? And how much of your time are you spending on marketing marketing, which in my case, in a lot of these cases is writing and, and preparing conferences and thinking about new ideas that you don’t get paid for. And and I would say my average is around 30%. And I think that is the right thing. So 1/3 of your time should be focused on something new, something you haven’t done before, something that you want to present without asking without asking anyone to pay for it. So and that might be I mean that that 30% is nothing that I look for in a week. It’s not even something I look for in a month, but it look it’s something I look for in in the six month period, for example, because you have ups and downs you have you have important clients coming in and you need to, you need to work a lot. But then you have downtime, and you’re working a lot on the other stuff. So on average, I think it should be 30%. If it’s less than that, probably your company will not making any will not be making any progress. If it’s a lot greater progress, but you will be you will go hungry maybe. Right.


Alastair McDermott  42:05

So you’re talking about some sort of marketing, innovation, experimentation? Yeah.


Wolfram Moritz  42:10



Alastair McDermott  42:11

Excellent. Excellent. I love it. Can I ask you just where people can find you online if they’re interested in connecting with you if they’re interested in following up?


Wolfram Moritz  42:19

Yeah, so we have we have a website that’s MP w dash, net dot d, it has an English version as well. So you can you can click on the English version can contact us. But you can also find me on LinkedIn. That’s also no problem and on crossing that that’s the the German equivalent to LinkedIn.


Alastair McDermott  42:40

I’ll put links to all of those in the show notes for this episode. So wolfrum, thank you so much for being with us here today. I really appreciate it.


Wolfram Moritz  42:48

Thank you, thank you for having me.


Alastair McDermott  42:53

One of the great things about the research project that I did was that it put me in touch with people like Wolfram. And I have to admit that if you use go, I never thought that I would have what I consider to be a fascinating conversation with somebody who is effectively a tax accountant for energy companies. It doesn’t really sound like a very sexy, interesting topic to me. And yet this stuff is really fascinating. And I can see how it applies to lots of other consultants and businesses. That’s one of the really cool things about doing podcasts like this.  So if you know anybody who you think would make a good guest who you’d like me to have on the show, please let me know you can reach me by email at or you can leave an actual voicemail, which we can play on the show. If you go to  Thanks for listening and don’t forget, hit the subscribe button!