Why I ‘m Starting My Own Consulting Business

Once upon a time, I was recruited by the biggest independent global public relations firm and offered what I thought was my dream job. I was asked to become the Vice President in charge of the firm’s Western Regional Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Practice. I was told it was an opportunity to make a boatload of money and make the world a better place. I also was told that gazillions of corporations were just dying to do the right thing and become model corporate citizens. And I was going to show them how to do it! They were going to do exactly what I told them to do because everyone would want to do business with them as soon as they saw what Good Guys they were!

Apparently, I was the perfect candidate because I had spent nearly nine years as the San Francisco Communications Director for an influential national environmental group. During this time I fought on the front lines of successful campaigns to pass California’s three landmark global warming laws. People were finally taking notice about climate change, but instead of just wringing their hands and crying about doom and gloom, they were seeing opportunities to usher in a bright new era, the age of the Clean Energy Economy.

I still believe that climate solutions are going to make the world a better place… in ways we haven’t even imagined. Unfortunately—the part about corporations lining up to do the Right Thing—well, it didn’t exactly turn out that way. It’s true that most companies want to “look” like Good Guys, but a lot of them don’t want to actually do anything that’s expensive or difficult. Turns out, they’re not such Good Guys after all. And the Big PR firms? Well, in my experience, they’re not all they’re cracked up to be either. In fact, most have a tacit agreement with their clients that goes something like this: “You pay us a monthly retainer fee of $30,000 – $50,000, and we’ll make you look Real Good. Now the money you pay us for your Public Relations Plan is nothing to sniff at, but we promise we can make you look Real Good for a lot less money than it would cost you to actually do something meaningful.”

With this kind of inside knowledge, you might think I’m crazy to start my own consulting business. The thing is, I honestly believe people can accomplish big things if they’re willing to put their money where their mouths are. I also believe you don’t need a lot of money to make a difference. Sure it helps, but I see people of modest means doing amazing things all the time. It’s my belief that these are people who have strong convictions about making the world a better place. They’re willing to take risks, and the rewards they have in mind aren’t about stroking their egos. These are the kinds of clients I’m looking for. So if you have any Big Ideas, let’s talk. Send me a message at craig@craignoble.net.

4 thoughts on “Why I ‘m Starting My Own Consulting Business

  1. John H Noble Jr

    Yes, I’m biased, but your experience parallels mine in the government and academic worlds. “Going along to get along” involves lots of hypocrisy and smoke and mirrors, which is the stable of the PR industry’s bottom line.

  2. Roma Hanlon

    Ah, yes, the bottom line is always the issue! I think it is easier when companies grow out of a culture that embraces the “do good” attitude from the start. Probably makes a difference who’s at the top too.


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