Random Thoughts

A Year As A Consultant

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People often ask me how much I travel and how I like this life style of being a consultant so seeing that I have just passed the one year mark of trying to make a living at presenting and consulting with schools, I thought I’d reflect on the past year and what’s yet to come.

First the rough numbers from June 17, 2012 – June 26, 2013:

  1. I traveled and presented roughly 122 days last year. Including 3 trips to London and 4 trips to Seoul.Β 
  2. I roughly traveled about 212,000 miles by plane.Β 
  3. It wasn’t all work though I also vacationed 31 days including Ireland, Switzerland, Stone Henge (England) and a cruise to Alaska.Β 
Working @ Learning2012
Working @ Learning2012

Overall looking back I can’t believe how busy I was in my first year doing this full time. I remember handing in our resignation letters in Bangkok and my wife and I looking at each other and thinking we were really going to do this. I remember that lump in my throat thinking what was I thinking leaving a perfectly great job at a great school to do this.

If you would have told me then that I would travel 122 days and be making booking into 2015 in my second year I would have laughed and said in my wildest dreams. But that is the reality. It has been an incredible year and one that I owe to all of you who read this blog, retweet things and help me spread the message. In September of 2005 when I created this blog I never thought it would lead to this. That eight years later I would be doing what I’m doing, I would have laughed you out of the room. It’s crazy to look back and know this all started with this blog and with you pushing my own thinking and learning in the process. So I owe all of this to you….the community that is the Internet.

Lessons I learned:

We all need down time

Admin explaining Horizon Report - Vietnam
Admin explaining Horizon Report – Vietnam

I love my wife and miss her a ton when I’m away. There is no way I could have survived this pass year without her constant support and encouragement.

Last October a trip lined up that I would fly around the world and be away for 4 weeks straight. At the time I was excited, pumped to be doing an around the world consulting trip. About two weeks into the trip I was spent and still had two weeks to go. The way the trip lined up I had only one day of not presenting or traveling and it came at the end of my trip with 4 days left before I flew home. By the time that day came around I was sick as a dog. So I learned I’m not Superman I need my days off and that four weeks is way to long to be away from my wife. Now we only schedule trips that last two weeks or less and have days off.

Take time to talk to people

It seems like a simple thing to do really…but on more than one occasion I had people thank me for taking the time to learn about the school before giving the presentation. It allowed me to tailor the presentation to the needs of the school. In all honestly I’m better at this with International Schools as I understand them better…but I’m getting better with U.S. schools and understanding what they want and need from me when I am presenting to staff and the organization at large.

Keynotes vs Workshops

Working with Alabama ACCESS educators
Working with Alabama ACCESS educators

I do love giving keynotes and have gotten more comfortable with them this year…what I don’t like is only doing a keynote. I feel like I leave to much out there and really enjoy doing workshops after a keynote where I can go deeper into some of the ideas I present on. But my overall favorite is getting to spend a whole day or even two or three with educators to really create change. I feel like I really accomplish something when I get to spend an extended amount of time in a school working with educators. That’s my goal for this next year, to do more institutes or multi-day consulting.

Looking Ahead:

Crazy October

So I learned my lesson last year and it’s not four weeks or around the world….no this year I am gone on a two week trip that goes from Seattle – Singapore – Iowa – Italy – Seattle. Yeah…..those are some crazy travel plans…..I’m still getting the hang of this and my schedule is to the point that I don’t need to say yes to everything that comes along rather I can pick and choose when it really does fit in my schedule.

My New Classroom

People often ask me if I miss the classroom. The funny thing is I’m usually still presenting in one. Not much has changed really other than the kids are full grown adults. What I love is getting people excited about learning, and then teaching them something that they find exciting as well. This past year I still got into classrooms doing lab sites at schools with actual students and by far my favorite part of any consulting trip is when I get to engage with students. It’s different but at the same time very much the same.

Getting Use to the Unknown

Another bucket list check off
Another bucket list check off

Mark Wagner told me something July that I have remembered throughout the year. He told me to be comfortable only knowing your OK financially for the next six months….and then welcomed me into the consulting world. He was right and you have to get to a place where that excites you rather than scares you. I think it also helps my to continue to push, to think, and to figure out what is coming next. Something that I need. I need some unknown in my life other wise I pack up, move, and create that myself (hence 5 schools in 13 years). It was wise advice and one that has driven me this past year.

Riding the Wave

How long am I going to do this? I have no idea! This all started with this blog in 2005 and ever since then my path has been a crazy one. Moving from school to school, country to country, helping to start a conference, and creating a graduate program, and now consulting around the world. I feel like I’m surfing on a mega wave and at some point the wave will end or I’ll fall off the board. If and when that happens I hope I’ll be able to look back at all of this and appreciate it for what it was….a truly amazing ride.

So here is to year two and wherever my travels may take me.

I started blogging in 2005 and found it such a powerful way to reflect and share my thinking about technology, this generation, and how we prepare students for their future not our past.


  1. Simon Higham (BIS Vietnam) Reply

    In a recent PM review, your input was cited as ‘career changing’. Powerful stuff!
    Hope the second year continues to inspire.

  2. Hi Jeff,
    I am moving to London from Dubai and will be doing a simliar kind of consulting position for a school in London part time. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  3. Hi Jeff,

    I can think of no one more deserving of the kind of success you’ve had. You work hard, think deeply, and are committed to doing good things for kids and teachers. May your successes continue for many, many years. Stay balanced.


    • Jeff Utecht Reply

      Thanks Doug,

      It has been a crazy year but I’m loving what I do so it makes all the travel worth it. As for staying balanced my next trip is to Nebraska and then a vacation trip to Chile and Easter Island. So starting the next year off right!

      Thanks for all the support through the years….you’ve been there…here…..from the beginning and I appreciate all the support you have given through comments, blog posts, and beverages. πŸ™‚

  4. Lauren Teather Reply

    Wow Jeff – Congrats for a super successful year! I’m so happy and thankful that we got to lear from you in Seoul this year … will you be coming back next year? I have get my “yearly” beer in — ha ha ha! You are just absolutely awesome at what you do and this is definitely your gift – opening eyes and minds, and getting others fired up! Keep at it!

  5. Thanks for your post Jeff. It’s interesting to see what your year has brought and try to put myself in that place and imagine all the amazing (and challenging) things that come along with the job. At least you should have some good frequent flier miles by now! Thanks for coming to ASL for the summer learning institute. I think everyone had an amazing time learning from you, and I hope to see some changes and improvements next year in our work with technology. Good luck.

  6. Hi Jeff

    I was lucky to have you come to our school in Switzerland to present. You’ve done great things via online Coetail. It’s been life-changing for me, already. Nothing can replace face2face learning, though, despite how wonderful online has been. I got so much more from your “real life” presentations and interaction.

    You have something unique and powerful to offer educators around the world, in person. I think it’s the right decision as its not something that everyone could do. If you can do it, then more power to you!

    What I remember from the day you visited our school might not be what you expect. The thing that impressed me the most was how you handled computer hiccups. You didn’t fall apart or get all in a flap. You just went with it. That was a huge lesson for me. Probably the biggest one I took from that day. If it’s alright for you when things “go wrong” with technology, then it’s OK for me too. πŸ™‚ That’s a lesson that’s hard to show unless you’re face2face.

    I hope it’s all “onwards and upwards” for you as you head into another year. Take time to rest and look after yourself and your wife. As an “expat” wife myself with a husband that travels the world, it’s easy to think it just “fine” when you’re in the moment and making the sacrifice, but it has a way of catching-up on you. Trust me. πŸ™‚

    I look forward to Coetail starting up in a few weeks!


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