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Influence - The Business of Lobbying
Getting in Touch With Your Inner Lobbyist
In short, you have to look the part.
But one woman is creating a consulting practice by focus-ing on the much less material aspects of lobbying and on balancing the career with life itself.
Beverly Jones, a longtime lobbyist, is reinventing her career at age 57. Her plan: to reinvigorate the careers of others.
"I think there's a real need for consultants to help people re-energize," says Jones, whose recent lobbying clients included Ohio University, her alma mater. "Sometimes you hit a plateau and don't have an easy route to keep moving. It affects your whole life-your relationships, everything."
Jones is a former vice president of energy company CNG, where she ran the Washington office, and most recently was a special counsel at Adams & Reese. She has just started ClearWays Consulting, a business venture that focuses on coaching lobbyists, lawyers, and executives who feel stuck in a rut or are burned out by the Washington grind.
Her work is based on personal experience.
Four years ago, Jones took an early retirement package from CNG after it merged with Dominion. She wasn't ready to actu-ally retire, though, and joined Adams & Reese on a part-time basis. And she embarked on a journey of self-discovery.
"I asked myself: What am I better at than anybody else? What is my gift?" she explains during an interview over lunch at Georgetown's Bistro Français. "It dawned on me very gradually."
Over the years, Jones says, her favorite part of her job has been mentoring and managing others-helping them find fulfillment in their jobs-and the idea of making an actual career out of it started to germinate. At first, she didn't take on clients, but instead took up causes.
Andrea Wilkinson, federal government affairs manager for Aventis Pasteur, worked with Jones at Adams & Reese.
"She really took me under her wing," says Wilkinson, who adds that Jones helped her identify the things she was good at-like networking-as well as the areas she needed to work on, like writing. "She is a beautiful writer. She brought my writing along years."
Jones was also able to help Wilkinson figure out what her goals were and how to achieve them.
"My goal," says Wilkinson, "was to build a lobbying practice at the job I was at-which I successfully did. She had me draft my dream job, where I wanted to be in five years, 10 years. . . . It's funny: Four years later, I'm at my 10-year mark. . . . Bev is like an Olympic athlete, and she can teach just as well as she can play."
Says Jones of her methods: "Once they can articulate where they want to go, we can identify the roadblocks and get them starting on a path. You have to challenge them and provide structure, and come up with a plan of action."
In August, Jones decided to focus full time on her coaching career and left Adams & Reese.
"Getting lobbying clients," she says, "is such hard work. It's a hustle." By contrast, she says, mentorees have come "before I was even ready."
In addition to skills coaching, Jones brings a new-age twist to her work. She's into yoga and meditation, and talks a lot about balance and organization in life.
In fact, some of her coaching tips include: clean out the clutter, change those negative internal monologues, start a fitness routine, and convert whining into a to-do list.
"If the unrelenting stress is getting you down," she suggests, "commit to spending a few minutes a day in developing a Meditation practice."
Jones has about six clients, including one executive on the West Coast whom she counsels by phone. She likes to help younger people set their path, but she also works with people who are at a later phase in their career. "This takes a lot of my personal energy," she says, "so I'm not going to take more clients than I feel is right. But I'm not sure what the number is yet."
Jones is not doing this for free. As in lobbying work, pricing and billing are issues she has to grapple with. "So far I've been pretty flexible," she says. "It makes sense to do a two-month minimum." But, she says, she's willing to charge differently.
Jones sees herself and her generation as pioneers who are looking to make work a part of their lives but in a manageable way.
"We're not going to put up with jobs that grind us down till the last minute and then go off and play golf," she says. "I can see myself working for another 20 or even 30 years."
© 2004 ALM Properties Inc. All rights reserved.
Reprinted with permission from Legal Times (1-800-933-4317 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Beverly E. Jones
Clearways Consulting LLC
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