We recently started a new series “Firmsconsulting Insiders share their thoughts” where you will meet selected FC Insiders, learn from their experiences and what they found works and does not work to ensure they make the most of FC training. In this video documentary, you will spend some time with a great client of over 4 years, Bill Graca, and his wonderful family. Bill is a management consultant at a boutique consulting firm and discusses his career journey. He talks about the way he has used Firmsconsulting content to both improve his work for clients and the community, and help his firm become more successful.
I’m Bill Graca. I am 33 years old. I’m a husband, I’m a father of three awesome kids. I work in Southeast Michigan, primarily in the Detroit area as a management consultant for a boutique consulting firm in strategy.
I had a great upbringing as a kid. I had two wonderful loving parents. Both were professionals. My mom was a physical therapist, my dad was an attorney by trade. My dad was actually first-generation college student so he taught me from a very young age that it was all about your work ethic, and actually, we had a little mantra in our family that was basically “nobody will outwork us, nobody’s going to outwork a Graca”. And so, from a very young age, from the age of you know four or five-six, it was really instilled in me as a core value that we were going, we as Gracas were going to work hard.
And I sort of took that to heart. When I was 14 years old I got my first job. I worked in a grocery store when I was 14, and from there I basically was able to save up to get my first car, to go to university, to pay for both of my degrees so that I left without debt, and so I was able to get from a local university, Oakland University in Rochester Hills Michigan, two degrees: I got a bachelor’s degree in business administration and I got a master’s degree in business administration as well. And from there I was able to kind of pursue some really unique and what I would consider cool work experiences. So I was able to kind of go into consulting and then go into various roles at large companies and now I’m back into the consulting space.
But it really all started with kind of when I was very young with my parents sort of instilling in me that’s this idea that nobody was going outwork me and to really pursue unique experiences that would allow me to learn and stretch my comfort zone and do unique things in life.
I got into the Firmsconsulting content in 2013 and I really started by listening to podcasts and watching The Consulting Offer videos, the case preparation videos, and really reading articles. And honestly, I got into this fast and I was ferocious about consuming this content. And the goal was that I want to make myself a better consultant, advisor. I just want to make myself a better person, to be honest, and I also wanted to learn the tricks of the best.
And so I went into this content thinking that if it was good enough to train somebody to get into a top-tier management consulting firm, McKinsey, Bain, Boston Consulting Group, that it was certainly good enough to teach me problem-solving techniques and it was certainly good enough to teach me how to be a better advisor and to catapult my career.
And so I got into it. And I listen to podcasts. I particularly liked the ones that kind of talked about the consulting lifestyle. That talked about how to travel, how to run effective meetings, these types of things. I read the articles, every article, pretty much the day it was released. I was on it, reading it, marking it up, highlighting it, talking to my wife, and saying “Can you believe this? This is this is what this article said about my profession.” Made me proud to be an advisor, to be honest.
And The Consulting Offer content I really just ate that up. It was great content. It was teaching me problem-solving techniques, it was teaching me how to go through cases and really interpret cases, and for me it was just a great way to say: “Listen, I’m learning the same tools and the same techniques that get people into big firms in my spare time and it was awesome.”
I chose Firmsconsulting for a couple of reasons. First, I never really had any formal training in the role that I’m in. I work for a consulting firm. Never had any formal training. And part of the reason that I chose Firmsconsulting is these are partners, ex-partners of really great top-tier consulting firms and I really wanted to position myself to be able to learn from the best and so that was part of the reason I chose Firmsconsulting is really just to be able to learn from the best.
To learn how consulting really happens, and to learn how cases are really executed, and to learn how studies are really run from people who have done it before and done it for a really top-tier consulting firm.
So I saw the content as one of a kind from Firmsconsulting. I saw it as explicitly unique. That this is a group of ex-partners of major firms that are teaching people how to do this.
I saw this as an innovative set of content as well. I could not find another place, even back in 2013 when I got my first exposure to this content, I could not find another place that was this comprehensive, that was laying things out step by step, activity by activity and being so detailed, and so thorough, and so training oriented, and so user oriented. That was a lot of the motivation is that I can’t find it anywhere else, it was it was just unique.
And then lastly, it was very easy to get engaged in this content. The way that the content was prepared and the way that the content was presented, it was easy for me to access it from, you know it is easy for me to access it from any device anytime no matter what I’m doing and for me this is big. I was investing in my future, I was engaging in content that was prepared by people who have been there and done that and I was able to do it wherever I was at, whether I was traveling, whether it was in the car driving around town, cutting the lawn, washing the dishes, that I had exposure to this top-notch content from top-notch partners no matter where I was at.
The quality of this content is just second to none. And as a Firmsconsulting client I really feel important. I feel like the content is actually directly for me, written for me. It’s almost as if they understand kind of where I’m at that day or where I’m at in my career at this very moment. And so I found that the quality of the content is great and it just keeps getting better. I’m excited about some of the new things that have just launched recently. Being able to consume this content on my Apple TV, having us having a Strategy Training app that I can get podcasts and videos and things, and I’m excited about the amount of video that’s coming: 4k high-def videos that’s coming for this content.
So I find that the quality is great and the attention to detail is fantastic as well and that’s important to me. In my profession, as a consultant, we have to pay close attention to detail. I am investing in my future and I am investing in this training material and for me the fact that the FC team just invests in making sure that every detail is covered off is fantastic.
And I’m learning a ton of new stuff as well. I am learning about how to run consulting engagements in ways that I’ve never known, I’m learning about how studies work, I’m learning about digital strategy, I’m learning about corporate strategy, I’m learning about the ins and outs of how those engagements work, and for me it just keeps getting better and I just keep getting something that, you know, I listen to a podcast or I’ll watch a video on a Friday and by Monday I can find a way to apply that to the work that I’m doing that week and so to me that is a sign of great content and high-quality content.
When I started getting exposure to the Firmsconsulting content in 2013 I was part of a new boutique consulting firm. No formal training, so it was up to me to make my own training and be proactive in pursuing what I needed to be successful. So I went all in on the Firmsconsulting content and in the last four years this has really had a profound impact on me as a person, but more importantly how I work and I how I think of my profession, and how I am passionate about making a difference in the world.
And it’s important to note, so as an example, I just listened to the other day a video about purpose. About your purpose and what is your purpose and how do you start to align your aspirations from a career perspective to the purpose that you have as a person. And I have to be honest that was profound for me. It caused me to sit back and it caused me to think about what is it that I want to do in this world. It helped me to reflect on what I’ve already done, and to be totally frank it challenged me to do more.
And when I started using this content I got extra doses of confidence. The way I conducted myself in meetings, the way I conducted myself with projects that I was working on was basically that if I knew how to solve problems like the greatest problem solvers in the world, in my opinion. You know, the people that work for top-tier firms that have been trained specifically how to solve complex problems, if I knew that same thing, man I could be… I could make a huge difference and I could solve big problems and I started to apply what I learned.
I started to apply what I learned in special projects at work, or more importantly, I pursued special projects, strategy projects, at my church. And so for me what I’ve gained from this has been outstanding and the confidence and the passion and the sense of purpose that has been reiterated in me and refreshed in me and sort of called out of me has been fantastic. And so that’s the intangible kind of benefit that I’m getting from this material is I can make a difference, I can do great things and I can solve complex problems in the same way that the best of them can.
So what’s one word that describes what the content and what I’ve been exposed to through Firmsconsulting means to me? For me that word is enlightening, and it’s a strange word to pick but here’s why I pick it: I believe that in order to be your best self, in order to really achieve your purpose, in order to just pursue your most ambitious aspirations as a person, in order to do that you have to have a light shone, and you have to have exposure to new insights and new ways of thinking and a light shone on things that you wouldn’t have otherwise thought of.
And so for me that’s what the Firmsconsulting content does. It’s exposing me, it’s enlightening me to new ways of thinking, new insights, and new opportunities. It’s really helping me think differently about what my purpose is. It’s helping me think differently about who I am and how I advise, and it’s really causing me to look hard at, you know, purpose and look hard at opportunity and look hard at ambition.
For me it’s this word enlightening. It’s really about exposing things for me that I would not have otherwise thought of, and really by digging into this content and by really making it a priority and by focusing on leveraging and getting the maximum value out of your investment, it’s enlightening and it allows me to think differently about things and allows me to be my best self and that’s important. That’s important to me, that’s important to my growth as a person, that’s important to me as a father and a husband, and just as an individual. So being my best self and defining and achieving purpose is what it’s all about.
So I found this content really enlightening and I appreciate it for that enlightenment.
How has Firmsconsulting kind of changed the way that I’ve looked at my career? Well, I think one way to kind of articulate a response to that is to basically say, “I’m not done yet”. And so I’ve certainly leveraged the content over the last four years to grow and to get proper training and to learn. But I’m not done yet. I’ve got some really substantial aspirations. I want to make a difference in the world. I want to be part of great change, I want to impact and influence change in the world, and so I’m not done yet.
And that’s a lot of why I continue to invest and that’s a lot of why I continue to engage because it’s not over. It’s not over for Bill Graca and I haven’t achieved everything from a career perspective, and I need content like this to continue to learn, I need content like this to continue to challenge how I view problems and how I solve and frame up solutions for meaningful problems.
So I’m not done yet and from a career perspective this has been tremendously beneficial to me. Building my confidence, it’s really given me the confidence to know that I can basically frame and help solve the most complex problems and I can do it as good as anybody else, maybe better, and that’s key and that’s critical.
So I operate with a new level of confidence and I have for the last four years since I’ve started to engage in this content. On a regular basis I get to go meet with people who are way more senior than I, they have much more complicated problems than I ever thought I’d be solving. And I can do it with confidence and I credit, I credit the content that Firmsconsulting has put out there and I’m excited, I’m super excited for the next round of content and the next round of programs that are coming from the organization because it’s great and it has made a huge impact on me, it’s made a huge impact on how I view my purpose, and it’s made a huge impact on how I solve problems. And so I am very grateful for it.
I can’t say that there is one moment or just one most memorable moment that I can point to in working with Firmsconsulting. But I can point to some events that have made a huge impact in my life.
So I came to realize that what was being offered to me as content through Firmsconsulting wasn’t just the consulting training, wasn’t just problem-solving training, it wasn’t just case training but it was actually tools that were valuable to life. And I remember a specific podcast that I listened to that was talking about how to fight fatigue and it made me really think and made me really assess my life at the moment and think through how was I fighting fatigue, how was I addressing stress in my life, was I positioning myself to perform best. And I had to do an assessment after listening to the podcast and had to really think through my life in that way and I had to make some changes and had to apply what I heard in that podcast in order to make some changes in my life to better manage stress, to better manage fatigue, to take better take care of myself so that I could be my best self.
And so that’s not a particularly memorable moment from Firmsconsulting perspective, but it was something that captured my attention and made me do something different with my life as a result of it. To me that’s the one thing that comes to mind: captured my attention, caused me to do something different, forced me, really, to think about how to apply this in my life and how to think differently about performance, and how I sleep and how I eat and how I take care of myself, which isn’t consulting training. It’s about life.
I can’t really point to one singular benefit that I’ve received as a result of working with Firmsconsulting. But I can say that it’s really given me a different perspective on my career, my future, even my profession. What I’ve realized is that advising, consulting, solving problems, solving meaningful problems is legitimate. It’s a legitimate profession, and there’s room for it, and what I’ve also realized is that I’ve got the skills to be able to do it, that I’ve got the skills to be able to solve meaningful problems, and that there are a lot of problems out there to be solved, and so I’ve got some confidence today that I didn’t have four years ago as a result of that.
And so for me the biggest benefit that I’ve really received from Firmsconsulting is this future view of the world. This is me knowing that I’m not done yet, me knowing that there are big problems out there that still need to be solved, me knowing that I can have a role in solving them, that I can make a difference. And I can make a difference for the world that my kids are going to be living in, I can make a difference for the world that I live in, I can make a difference in the companies and the individuals that I have the opportunity to serve and work with on a day to day basis.
And so for me that’s been the biggest benefit of Firmsconsulting. It’s helping me realize that’s what I do, that’s my profession, that’s what I have the opportunity to wake up every morning and do. So that’s the biggest benefit is that viewpoint, that line of thinking, that perspective, that confidence, that long-term vision that I now have that I really didn’t have four years ago.
If somebody was going ask me why should I do business with Firmsconsulting, I’d have a pretty simple response: because you get an immediate return for your investment with Firmsconsulting. And I could think of two specific examples where I was able to benefit directly from the content that was available to me and get really immediate return in things that I was working on right at that moment.
The first is I was asked to structure my first engagement as an engagement manager. And I had no formal training. I didn’t really know what to do. I didn’t know how to structure an engagement. And the first thing I did was go back to the lab study that I had watched at Firmsconsulting and that allowed me to kind of learn the ins and outs, the tips and tricks, the general process, and the general line of thinking for structuring an engagement. I was able to take that content and really immediately apply it to something that I was being asked to work on as part of my role, and it yielded immediate value for me.
The other example I can think of is just recently I was starting up with a new client, an energy and utility company, and I had done a lot of work in automotive up until this point, so I understood the automotive value chain and I understood how automotive companies work, but I really wasn’t clear on the utilities value chain and what were the ins and outs of energy and utility company.
So again what I did was go straight to the corporate transformation program that Firmsconsulting offered which really was cast in a utility. And I learned in that early content what the utility value chain was, what the utility model was, I learned some of the nuances of utilities by listening to that content and by looking at those videos. At the same time that I was coming up to speed with the client that I was working on, I was leveraging Firmsconsulting content that helped me understand the value chain and the business model, and the ins and outs of the industry that I was working within, which was brand-new to me at that time.
So Firmsconsulting, the benefit to me has been the immediate return that I’ve gotten on the investment. I really view it as an investment in me, an investment in my career, in my future and it’s yielded immediate return on in my daily work, in my daily life, and it’s allowed me to help others address problems, it’s allowed me to address some of the tasks and some of the issues that I’ve been working with on a day-to-day, week-to-week basis.
The biggest piece of advice for Firmsconsulting members, a couple big pieces of advice that I can give. First, really maximize the value that you’re getting out of your investment by engaging in the content. Really get serious about this. Take notes, listen to the content, follow it, engage in it, re-listen to it if it’s got value to you. So really engage in the content.
It’s really important to follow this content the way that it’s laid out chronologically. I believe that there’s a reason that things are laid out step by step and that studies are laid out step by step and The Consulting Offer content is laid out step by step and so follow it chronologically and make sure you’re getting the maximum value from it by understanding how different pieces of content fit in sequence.
And the second big piece of advice that I can give is learn and think of ways to apply it to what you’re doing today, now. I found great ways to apply this content to what I’m doing at work on the job, what I’m doing at church, what I’m doing for various things that I am doing in the community. So I would say apply this content. Find ways to apply what you’re learning, what insights you’re getting about yourself, and your career, and your profession, and how to solve problems. Apply it.
So I would say the two biggest pieces of advice that I can give to Firmsconsulting members are: engage in the content and apply the content. And I guarantee just by personal experience that the value that you get out of this will be tremendous. It will yield exponential returns in your career, in your personal life, and beyond.
In the past few years I’ve seen Bill become very confident in just the way that he’s conducted himself professionally, the way that he’s talked with his co-workers and his clients on the phone, the way that he’s just interacted with them in a professional level. I’ve also seen just a huge amount of confidence in him when he’s been at social events. Bill was a pretty strong introvert when we first started dating and in our first few years of marriage but I believe as he’s become more confident in his role at his job and just with his studying and his training. He’s been just able to open up more and he’s been able to conduct himself in a way where he brings a lot of wisdom and knowledge, but he’s also very personal.
So I’ve seen that when he’s been working at his job or if we’re in social settings at our church or just when we are around friends. He’s someone that many people have turned to for wisdom and advice, I belive, because he just loves to be educated, he loves to study and always better himself, and he’s just grown in so many ways that way and it’s just been very exciting and encouraging to see him grow over the past few years.
So would I recommend Firmsconsulting? I think the answer is absolutely, and here’s why. This is you investing in your future. This is you investing in your growth as an individual, as a human being. This is like an MBA or a doctorate of consulting, advising, problem-solving, and it’s you investing in yourself. And so, would I make the investment again? Absolutely. Would I recommend anybody to make the investment in themselves? Absolutely. Am I convinced that this is the best material out there? 100%.
And I say that because although I’ve never really met personally the partners at Firmsconsulting, I have an inherent level of trust because of the quality of the content that’s been developed, because of the way that it’s delivered, because it keeps getting better and better and better.
And so to me it’s hard not to trust an organization that continues to make great strides, great improvements and just puts great stuff out there. And so, would I recommend it? 100%, absolutely. I feel personally like it is my way of investing in myself, it’s my way of continuously learning, it’s my way of really preparing myself for the future, so it’s fantastic and so its highly recommended it from my perspective.
We hope by meeting our clients and learning from their experiences, you can increase the value from our library of training programs. Another reason we are introducing this series is we hope that every FC member will be able to find an FC Insider showcased in this series with whom they can particularly relate and learn from. For many members it is difficult to emulate a partner because the gap in development (and age difference) is so high. Meeting real FC Insiders who are closer to most members’ age and career development stage will hopefully help each member to find some practical advice, guidance, and inspiration that will make a material difference.
While we have an enormous amount of case interview videos, podcasts and articles, and continue to build that library, the largest part of FC & Strategytraining.com is the content for consultants, corporate managers and executives guiding them in solving complex problems to accelerate their careers and make a positive difference in the world. Clients like Bill Graca. FC content is streamed in over 150 countries around the world 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Bill is a remarkable person. He fits our value system, he is a wonderful father and husband, and he works every day to be the best he can be. When we think of the training programs to produce, we often ask ourselves, ‘What would Bill Graca need, use and find useful for his career, family and community?”
WHAT IS NEXT? Would like to watch another Meet FC Insiders episode? Meet Nerses and Denise. If you have any questions about our membership training programs (StrategyTV.com/Apps & StrategyTraining.com/Apps) do not hesitate to reach out to us at support @ firmsconsulting.com. You can also get access to selected episodes when you sign-up for our newsletter above. Continue developing your strategy skills.
PODCASTS: If you enjoy our podcasts, we will appreciate it if you visit our Case Interviews channel or Strategy Skills channel or The Business of Management Consulting channel on iTunes and leave a quick review. It helps more people find us.