Earth Consultants

Applying Lean Six Sigma to the Environment

EC 024: From Corporate Job to Consulting

9 min read


On this podcast, I share my experiences with leaving my corporate job and moving into full-time consulting. I haven’t had a podcast episode in a few months, so I wanted to give an update to everyone on what I’ve been doing, and how I’ve been transitioning into working for myself.



It’s been awhile since I’ve last recorded a podcast, so I thought I’d give you guys an update on what’s going on. I’ve got a couple other topics I’m going to go through in my future podcasts, but I got a lot of info to share, and some of you expressed some interest in following my journey going from a long time corporate job to my own consulting. I thought I’d give you an update, and if you are not interested in that, you can fast forward and wait for the next one. So in July, end of July, I left my job at Rockwell Collins after 18 years. It was a great experience, I loved working there, loved the work and the people. I learned to so much there, and it was an awesome experience.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve been wanting to go out on my own for a while, and I just kept getting more interest in the Portland area, on topics that I was really passionate about, and really excited me. I gradually started to work my way out of there.

I had enough other activity going on with some training opportunities that came up that I was able to make that transition. Basically, I’m doing some training for another consulting company SixSigma.US, and that’s been a good transition out of full time employment to cover bills. It’s also be really great to get out and teach and talk to a lot of different businesses, a lot of different organizations, and kind of get into a different mode than what I’ve been used to. I’ve had some experiences outside of aerospace, but this has definitely opened up my eyes a lot more, and given me more things to consider and talk about (in terms of processes), and how lean and six sigma apply. So that’s been going well, I’ve been keeping busy with that. I’ve also been trying to build up some work locally, so I can start to pursue all the things we’ve been talking about with other organizations in terms of reducing environmental impacts, and trying to get people who have these skills to go and volunteer and help out these nonprofits, and other organizations that need the help.

I’ve been putting on quite a few free workshops, and I broke them up into 3-hour buckets. Some are just generic tool training around lean and six sigma, and then I got some around lean and green. I’ve also been partnering up with Kjell van Zoen, who you saw in previous episodes that I interviewed, also we presented with on some topics. We are both independent consultants and we have our own businesses, but we’ve been working together quite a bit lately. So we have been co-working at a space called Hatch (that I think I have mentioned before), and this month we’ve decided to go forward and actually get an office there, so that’s a big step up. So we share an office up on the second floor, and so we are basically full-time there, but we actually aren’t there all the time, but it’s nice to have a dedicated space. The intent was to record podcasts and videos, and just have a quiet place to take calls and do webinars and things like that. Plus, once you are in an office space like that, it forces you to stay focused. My work setup at home here is good, there are just a lot of other distractions, and I can easily get pulled away from work a little bit. They both work out pretty well, but it’s nice to have a formal space you can have people come and meet and have discussions. It’s a cool space, and a lot of cool stuff happening there.

So the free workshops, I’ll go back to that. I’ve been doing about 3 hour blocks, and getting pretty good attendance. Obviously, there are some people interested in free workshops, so that’s great, and it’s been giving me an opportunity to hone in on my training material. I’ve been developing this material over the years, but it kind of forced me (by scheduling these out and having people show up), it forced me to put them together, and the 3 hours was a good amount of time that I felt fit into everyone’s schedule pretty well. So basically we would go from 9 to noon, take an hour lunch, and if they come back for the second session, it’s 1 to 4 o’clock. So that seems to be a full day, but it’s not crazy, and you don’t have to wake up super early, and we aren’t done super late. 3 hours is right about the right amount the time I like teaching, and probably they like listening to me teach. Then there is a 15-minute break in between halfway through. I like that format, and I’ve been trying to build more workshops around that. So if you are ever in the Portland area, please check out my website, where I got a listing of all the free workshops I’m putting on. So that’s the more generic lean and six sigma training, and I’ve got courses and training materials and stuff for sale on there, and the site is specifically things around environment around lean and six sigma, obviously based on the name. So that’s the separation between those.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before or not, but I have a third website, and that’s all the other non-environmental, but focused around more around the social piece, where it’s healthcare related, it’s food banks, it’s donation services, it’s mission work, it’s anything that is more mission driven than profit driven (like most companies). So I kind of split those 3 areas up into their own sites, so is my business, and is the environment piece or the planet side of it, and then is the social piece, or the people side of it. So that’s the 3 pieces of sustainability. I thought about combining them all together, but I think that’s going to be a lot of content, and some people might have emphasis on one or the other.

I’ve also mentioned we had the wasted food podcast. I published a podcast around wasted food, which was a presentation at the Port of Portland, that was a couple of episodes back. We are going to set up another one, this time to get people who went through the workshop to come in and actually start working on a project, and learning some of the tools and practicing them, so I’m really excited about that. I’ll have an update on that in the next month or two. We are going to do something in mid-October, I believe.

I also set up a carbon offset program, since I’ve been traveling a little bit more, and I wanted to make sure I was taking care of my impact on the environment. Probably the next podcast I’ll do is explain how I came up with the logic behind this offset program. There are offset programs you can sign up for, but I’m taking the train, and I’m taking flights, and there isn’t an easy common one to go with, and I wasn’t quite sure where the money was going on those programs, so I wanted to control that a little bit. I came up with a real rudimentary version of that, and then from there, I donate my money to Everybody Solar, which provides solar panels for non-profits. So I’ve been supporting them. There might be a project near me that I can help out with down in Eugene that would be pretty exciting too, so more to come on that.
Also got a couple of potential projects that look really cool coming up that would be some paid work, and would be very sustainability focused, which would be something exactly what I’ve been hoping to get more involved in. Mission driven, not necessarily nonprofit, but not focused on just making money, so more to come when that becomes more finalized. I feel like a lot of the work I’ve been putting into it is starting to gain momentum and pay off.

I still got a lot going on with the Lean Portland group. We got 2, actually 3 clients in nonprofits that we’ve been working with right now: Rebuilding Center, Free Geek. They [Free Geek] get donations of electronic mobile devices and laptops and computers and other strange items, and they either recycle them properly as e-waste, or they refurbish them, test out and resell them, or donate them back to other nonprofits. Some other discussions with some other construction reuse organizations (nonprofits). I’ve also got Oregon Entrepreneurs Network, which is more office-based, but they’ve got a lot of good work going on there. I might talk about those individual groups later on.

Then finally I’ve got a WASTE Walks Challenge that I’m been trying to start up again in October, so if you’ve considered wanting to start a waste walk, then I’ve got a couple of links on the site, and I’ll add it to the show notes of this episode. But it will explain what the waste walk is, and there will be some online training you’ll have to go through, (which is pretty short) and then there is a checklist and a reminder system that emails you out as you are going along what steps you need to take next. It’s intended to be a nice guide for running an event, and then based on your feedback and how it goes, I can adjust the program. But that would be the intent, that you can basically set up and have a system that’s not only just a structure and a procedure to follow, but it’s actually something you can get reminders about, “OK, this is due today, you need to have your sheet filled out, your planning worksheet filled out and approved otherwise you’re going to be falling behind if you want to get this all wrapped up within a 90 day period.” I want to kick that off on October 1st, which is coming up pretty soon. If you go to the website, you’ll see a link to the WASTE Walks Challenge.

So, a lot of activity going on. Really excited about the progress towards this vision I have of the type of work I want to be doing, and I feel like I’m moving in that direction slowly, but I see the light at the end of the tunnel, and that’s really exciting!

Looking for the next podcast to be a little bit more technical again, but just wanted to give you an update on what’s happening, and I think some of you have expressed interest in doing something similar. I’m happy to talk and share what’s working, and what I’m struggling with. I don’t have it figured out yet, so I’m not trying to tell you this is the way to do it. Just sharing as I’m going along, and hopefully you’ll find value in that. Alright, I’ll talk to you guys later…

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