Campfire Tales Series: Assessing your Fitness as a Consultant | David Cooke

Nothing beats sitting around the campfire, sharing a laugh and a story with friends old and new. To harness this feeling – minus the smoke in your eyes! – we are launching a new series here on the AME blog called ‘Campfire Tales’ where members can share adventures from the field, lessons learned in business and finance, or tales of narrowly averted disasters. Our goal is to provide AME members with a voice and a platform to share stories that will guide, console, amuse and inspire fellow members.

Our first tale is an excerpt from AME Life Member David Cooke’s book, Reading the Rocks. Cooke self-published his story in 2017, detailing the twists and turns of a 50-year career working mainly in British Columbia. Throughout the book he recalls the geologists he worked and travelled with, the deposits he visited, the lessons he learned about finance and investing, and the process behind the decisions he made along the way.

The section we have chosen outlines how he assessed his fitness to be a consultant and the skills and experts he sought to help him on that path. We join Cooke in the mid-1980’s. He has been working as a geologist at Cominco for about 14 years and is approaching 50 years of age. In September 1983, Cooke arrived at a fork in the road of his career when he and Cominco parted ways.

In his words:

I spent the next 6 months unemployed and collecting unemployment insurance benefits. I soon tired of doing nothing – it was boring – and I gradually became convinced that I could earn more money consulting. And so, in the spring of 1984, I started working again as a mineral exploration consultant. I became motivated to find ways of turning my knowledge of rocks into money in order to survive.

During the next few years, I devoted a good deal of time to learning how to effectively plan and manage my professional life. This began with attending a program that Cominco sponsored to help terminated employees successfully learn how to transition to life outside of the “big company”. Most of the advice was similar to that offered in the book What colour is your parachute?” A few years later, I attended the Phoenix Seminar, a two-day seminar sponsored by my wife’s real estate employer. The theme was ‘Rising from the Ashes and Being a Success’ The seminar, which was written and moderated by Brian Tracy, helped me formulate a plan for the future. After diligently completing the written exercises, I decided to start with 4 objectives and to eventually concentrate on the most successful one.

The four possible directions were: mineral exploration consulting, evaluating junior resource stocks and publishing a newsletter, investing in the stock market, and organising exploration limited partnerships to acquire and deal mineral properties to VSE-listed companies.

Along the way I picked up other ideas an habit that I put into practice for the next 30 years after reading Lee Iacocca’s book Talking Straight – I adopted his habit of making a list every Sunday night of the 10 things to be accomplished the following week. From Brian Tracy, I learned to compile a yearly and a monthly plan. Whenever I had difficulty making a choice or decision, I used Tracy’s ‘20 Idea Method’ and wrote down 20 possible solutions. Soon, I had more ideas than time to accomplish them. I added two items to my weekly to-do list: two lines for “family” and one for “new ideas”. Years later in 2002, I indulged in another disciplinary exercise: I spent half an hour each morning for four and a half months writing free composition and my thoughts which I titled “Morning Pages” – 234 pages. These notes could form the basis for my next book.

Born in Montego Bay, Jamaica, Cooke carved out a successful mineral exploration consulting career for himself in British Columbia, filled with technical and financial success. Although he officially retired in 2005, he is still an active investor and member of the mineral exploration community in British Columbia.

If you are a consultant yourself, think about the training, conversations and resources you used to take the leap.

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Click the photo for full bio.

By Kylie Williams.

Cover photo credit: Matt Fraser.