The #1 Secret For Being A Successful HR Consultant, Coach, Speaker or Writer

by Alan Collins

Everyone in HR at some point in their career thinks about becoming a speaker, writer, consultant or coach.

It’s an awesome and potentially lucrative way of capitalizing on your HR expertise — either part-time, full-time or in your spare time.

In fact, a few months ago I posted 30 Great Side Hustles For HR Professionals — many of which include becoming a speaker, writer, consultant or coach.

If this idea has ever crossed your mind too, you’ll find this article especially valuable.

Why?  Because if you ever decide to speak, write or consult, there is ONE secret you must embrace.

I stumbled upon this unexpected revelation years ago when I first launched this Success in HR blog and started coaching others.

When I got going, what I quickly discovered one stumbling block…

It was very difficult for me to talk or
write about anything personal.

So I avoided doing that.

I thought that HR folks were NOT interested in me as a person.

I believed all they wanted was my HR expertise.

And that WAS true. 

Yes, they did want my know-how.   

But that ALONE wasn’t enough.   

I wasn’t attracting a decent number of readers and clients because I wasn’t delivering EXACTLY what they wanted.

So I sought out the help of one of my HR mentors — a former CHRO of two large organizations and now a phenomenally successful HR consultant and coach.

He immediately saw what my problem was.

And he delivered his advice to me with the force of knockout punch right to my face.

He strongly suggested that I open up more and let people into my world.  He urged me…no, he begged me to be…


  *   *   *

To be honest, at first I resisted.

I thought hey, my personal life is my personal life. Business is business. 

And nothing changed.

But, out of necessity and gradually over time, I reluctantly took his advice.

I took down my wall and began sharing more of myself.

I got more personal.

I started disclosing both my HR successes — as well as my struggles, screw-ups, frustrations and failures.

A little bit at a time.

I began offering up my brutal truths more often…whether people agreed with them or not.

I stopped pretending to be this robotic, impersonal HR “expert” who had all the answers and no faults.  Because I discovered, my clients didn’t want that.

Instead, they wanted a trusted HR advisor — someone blessed with lots of battle scars and lessons learned — and willing to share them openly bluntly, candidly and authentically without being pretentious.

So I started doing that.  And what happened after beginning to make this transformation, SHOCKED me!

My HR writing, speaking and coaching results immediately improved — and my career has never been better.

More opportunities, awesome clients, better feedback, deeper relationships, better compensation for my work and much more respect!

And in return, I learned an important lesson…

HR expertise is NOT enough.
AUTHENTICITY is the #1 secret for becoming a MORE effective coach, speaker and writer in Human Resources.

To be even more specific:

You’ll find these statements to be true whether you write, speak or coach full-time…or even if you do them as part of your HR day job.

I learned these lessons, after much pain and agony, over eight years ago.

Since that time, I have done everything possible to bring the more human Alan, the more personal Alan, the more authentic Alan, into everything I do in HR — and it’s made a huge difference.

I’m still not pitch perfect at being authentic.

There are still things I’ve yet to do or should share.  One thing I want to do, for example, is to do videos to reveal more insights and to open myself up more in the coming year.

It’s not easy because I hate seeing myself on video, so I’m continuing working on overcoming this hurdle.


It’s all part of my personal journey towards being more real and authentic in my own client relationships and communications.

*   *   *

What does this have to do with you?

In a word:  Everything!

Why not start your own personal journey towards being even more authentic?

Here’s why:

When you refuse to hide behind a mask, but instead speak about who you are and share your truths as an HR professional – I predict your clients, colleagues…and yes, even your boss…are going to respond more favorably than you’d imagine!

What does this actually mean you should be doing differently?  Well, it means…

Speak and write more authentically. There is no reason to use big words or fancy language.  As a tiny example: I avoid using the pretentious word “human capital.”  I use words like “people,” “talent,” “workforce,” or “human resources.”   In your case, try to write or speak plainly as if  you were speaking to a friend who you care deeply about and are pretty familiar with. Speak to express, not to impress.

Share more powerful opinions even if you think some of your clients or colleagues might disagree (especially if you think people might disagree!). Share perspectives that need to be said, but others are afraid to say. Scary – perhaps. Powerful – definitely.

Tell more stories from your own life experience. People love examples and stories that allow them to extract what’s useful to them and their own lives.  Share yours more frequently.

In other words…

Be more YOU — include all the rough edges when you write and speak to the people in your life, your HR colleagues and business clients. 

By doing this, I firmly believe you’ll begin to feel better about yourself and will be rewarded with more income, impact and influence in your HR career.

And there’s one last benefit to authenticity, especially if you’re looking for a way to differentiate yourself from the rest of the HR pack, remember…So try it.

You might like it.


Feel free to add your comments and thoughts below by clicking HERE.


If you’ve ever wanted to start writing about your own HR expertise, can write e-mail length messages and like sharing your ideas with others…then you’re in a great position to capitalize on your very own HR blog.   For more details, check out. START YOUR OWN AWESOME HR BLOG: “The Absolute Beginner’s Guide To Launching Your Own Outrageously Successful Human Resources Blog …Easily, Quickly and Simply!”  

You can get all the specifics by clicking HERE.


If you want more ideas for getting MORE from your current HR day job, then check out:

WINNING BIG IN HR: 100+ Powerful Strategies For Accomplishing Great Results Faster & Getting Your Clients To Rave About You As A Human Resources Professional!

For more detailed information about this book, go HERE.

About the author: Alan Collins is Founder of Success in HR, Inc. and the author of a variety of best selling books for HR professionals including WINNING BIG IN HR and START YOUR OWN AWESOME HR BLOG.  He was formerly Vice President – Human Resources at PepsiCo where he led HR initiatives for their Quaker Oats, Gatorade and Tropicana businesses.

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7 Responses to “The #1 Secret For Being A Successful HR Consultant, Coach, Speaker or Writer”

  1. wayne Says:

    G’day Alan
    Correct – being authentic or, as I like to say – natural – is critical. Not just in HR or in coaching or mentoring but in one’s occupation or trade. Just be the real deal! Yes, and do open up; be vulnerable, share your stories.
    Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind – DR SEUSS
    Compliments of the season – Wayne in Oz

  2. Alan Says:

    Wayne, thanks for weighing in – love the Dr. Seuss quote! – and the overall vibe of your comments. Extremely well said.

  3. Francis Ferdinand Cinco Says:

    Hi Alan,
    Thanks for this gem of a learning point in becoming a better HR consultant. Indeed, years in the corporate world has made me ineffective for reaching business owners. I am slowly finding out that sharing my personal experiences that resonate with clients’ current problems is a great way to build rapport with them. Also trying to replace big words (to impress) with plain words (to express). Truly appreciate you sharing what took you 8 years to learn. A great Christmas gift for folks like us.
    thank you again Alan

  4. HIsham Zubair Says:

    Dear Ala,

    As always, what a nice read and learning. though late, I take this opportunity to thank you for all these wisdom you’ve been pouring and helping us succeed in our line of work.

    I hate people being behind the mask and showing a tough face with employees. lets be authentic and natural in our approach and simple

  5. Muhammad Tahir Says:

    Thank you Alan! One should be his/her original self at all times.


    Hi Alan,

    Just wanted to take a few minutes to thank you for the many gifts you give our HR community all year round and wish you a very Happy New Year and a fabulous 2021!


  7. Anjana Says:

    Dear Alan
    It s great for me to read in year end.being here dry one wants to speak but how this gives a glimpse.
    Thank for honest suggestion
    Looking forward for more in new year
    Happy holidays