How many of you have attended a session at a professional conference and experienced the following?

The room is completely filled, with people standing in the back. The good-looking speaker is a nationally known consultant who wrote a best-selling book interpreting what a new trend means. This guru quickly tells you seven different stories all proving his or her hypothesis as many members of the audience nod in agreement. Statistics are given along the way, particularly from surveys. And there always are quotes from ancient philosophers and other consultants much better known then the speaker.

Then there is the recital of modern buzzwords such as "work/life balance" and "life planning" and the telling of personal anecdotes and jokes. An appetizer of one or two tips or strategies is provided thereby illustrating how a unique set of services can be offered to help clients cope with this "New World." This is normally followed by a brief mention of a program that the speaker offers to attendees.

Most importantly, when the session ends, as many around you enthusiastically applaud, you finally recognize what that feeling was gnawing at you for the last hour. You have figured out that you just listened to a modern snake oil salesperson.

It gets a little scary because you begin to wonder if you are living the professional version of "The Emperor's New Clothes" or is the professional world in which you toil is now passing you by.

Either way, don't worry, you are just viewing one of life's new experiences, which I call "The Age of Consultancy." Don't be too critical of it because after all your business card probably reads CPA/consultant anyway and it is a world in which you will be traveling much more extensively.

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