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The Road to Consulting is Paved with Sticky Notes

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Jul 12, 2021 | Blog

Like most children growing up on the Canadian prairie in the 1980s, I always dreamed of being a planning consultant in the not-for-profit sector. Kidding, of course. This is the kind of work that people tend to fall into because they have an interest in social impact, in how people organize in groups to make that impact, and in how groups articulate what they want to achieve so that they can convince others (funders, partners, volunteers) to get on board.

My route to Vantage Point is rather circuitous. In my youth, I spent a lot of time travelling the country, working at jobs ranging from blueberry picker to industrial recycling waste sorter. Ever the pragmatist, I eventually went to university to study literature and languages. Simply put, I was interested in humans and their words. I parlayed that education into a career in adult language education and freelance writing. In South Korea, I spent several years in teaching, management, and corporate communications. Back in Canada, I applied my entrepreneurial spirit to establish two businesses, one bricks and mortar (a language school) and one virtual (a consultancy in language education).

However, as I started freelance writing for not-for-profit organizations and volunteering on boards, and then facilitating community planning processes, I found something I needed more of: meaning and connection. The meaning came through social impact, in making changes in the community and the broader world. It somehow felt like an extension of the political and cultural activism of my youth. The connection came through working with groups of others – staff, leaders, community organizers, boards – to make that impact. I also discovered sticky notes.

Fast forward to January of 2020, when I sat down to make annual goals for my independent consulting business. By that time, I’d been working for several years in the greater Kamloops region supporting not-for-profits with strategy and governance, talking about how clarity and cohesion can lead to greater impact. At a time when “social distancing” wasn’t yet entrenched in our lexicon, I decided that in 2020 I wanted to a) expand my geographical reach throughout BC, and b) collaborate with others more fully and intentionally. Oddly enough, the pandemic – and widespread adoption of tools for virtual work – helped make those goals a reality.

In October of 2020, I excitedly joined the Vantage Point team. It wasn’t the first time meeting several team members. I’d discussed governance and provincial outreach over Zoom with some of them (yes: Vantage Point was using Zoom in the Before Times!). And I’d worked with Maria Turnbull to submit a joint proposal for a large strategic planning engagement. I had a sense of how the team worked, with each other and with people outside the organization. So, when the opportunity arose, I decided to leave 15 years of self-employment behind.

At Vantage Point I’ve found the same spirit of abundance that guided my independent work for years. I’ve found an amazing and diverse team of people from whom I learn new things every single day. And I’ve been able not only to collaborate more fully and completely, but also to serve new client organizations throughout the province (and country), of all sizes and stages, doing truly impactful work. Besides helping our client organizations plan, articulate, and activate ideas for change and impact, I play a role at Vantage Point in sector development. I convene and connect organizations, bringing not-for-profit leaders together to formulate sector-wide aspirations.

Author

JP Baker

JP is our Planning Consultant, ready to support organizations strategize the most effective ways to reach their goals. JP has extensive experience as a facilitator, consultant, researcher, and writer. As a consultant, JP is sought out for his expertise in governance, organizational culture…

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