How to Be a Successful Consultant: Circle of Fellows #59

What does it take to launch a communications consulting practice? What should communicators who have never been entrepreneurs know about going solo? Should they bring aboard partners? Staff? Most importantly, how do they become trusted advisers, delivering value and helping clients drive business results?

Four Fellows from the International Association of Business Communicators gathered on 16 July for a livestreaming conversation about entrepreneurship and how to be a successful consultant.

The next Circle of Fellows is scheduled for 12 p.m. EDT on Thursday, 20 August.

About the panel

Kellie Garrett, based in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, is a speaker, coach and strategist, as well as an associate professor at Royal Roads University. Before launching her own business, Kellie was senior VP of strategy, knowledge and reputation for Farm Credit Canada.



James E. Lukaszewski, America’s Crisis Guru®, is a bestselling author, national speaker and trusted strategic advisor to FPO and NPO business operators and leaders during crises, disasters, reputation attacks, contentiousness and when the boss’s future is at stake. Corporate Legal Times listed him as “one of 22 crisis counselors to have in your speed dial when all hell breaks loose.” For more than 30 years, he has confidentially guided hundreds of company leaders through tough, touchy, sensitive situations. Lukaszewski’s strategies inspire constructive, ethical problem resolving management behavior. A powerful and inspirational speaker, he teaches executives and managers the lessons he has learned. A prolific author, he is quoted and interviewed often as one of the most recognizable leaders in his profession. Lukaszewski is on the web at

Jim Shaffer is a business adviser, leadership coach, author and speaker. As leader of the Jim Shaffer Group, he helps organizations accelerate results through superior strategy execution. The Jim Shaffer Group creates hard business results by translating the business strategy to the people who need to implement it, aligning systems, processes and culture to make the gains sustainable. The firm has improved quality, service, sales, safety, turnover, productivity, speed and costs with some returns exceeding more than 1,600%. He designed and produced the IABC Academy courses “Managing Communication to Drive Results and Value” and “How to Add Value as a Strategic Adviser.” Some of his clients have included: Hallmark, ConAgra Foods, FedEx, IBM, Marriott, Mayo Clinic, Verizon, Owens Corning, Pfizer and Toyota.

Jennifer Wah, MC, ABC, has worked with clients to deliver ideas, plans, words and results since she founded her storytelling and communications firm, Forwords Communication Inc., in 1997. The company operates as a strategic alliance of hand-picked professionals, all renowned for work in their areas of specialization. This approach means the right team is assembled for each project; no more, no less. With more than two dozen awards for strategic communications, writing and consulting, Jennifer is recognized as a storyteller and strategist. She has worked in industries from health care to financial services to academia and is passionate about the opportunity for stories to inspire actions and reactions within organizations. In 2013, Jennifer was named Associate Faculty of Royal Roads University, and in this capacity continues to teach, coach and mentor others with an interest in business communication.

Shel Holtz

Shel Holtz, IABC Fellow, ABC, is director of internal communications at Webcor, a commercial general contractor headquartered in San Francisco. Before joining Webcor, Shel spent 21 years as principal of Holtz Communication + Technology. In addition to integrating technology into communications strategies, his expertise includes strategic communications planning, change management, organizational culture, business initiatives and communications research.

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