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Monthly Newsletter for the Rochester Professional Consultants Network - August 2023

A monthly newsletter from the Rochester Professional Consultants Network.

RPCN Has a New Home

The understatement of the century has got to be, “COVID changed things.” That certainly has been true for RPCN.

  • In early 2020 we were forced to switch to meeting virtually every week using Zoom instead of in person at the Pittsford Library, Five Star Bank, and other locations.
  • Gone instantly were the casual conversations before and after meetings, setting up chairs and tables, handing out the calendar/advertising sheets, making coffee, signing in guests, and more.
  • Added were things like joining meetings at the last minute (or a few minutes late), having breakfast while attending, and even (we assume) not being fully dressed for the day while attending RPCN meetings.
  • We also began experiencing people attending from outside the Rochester area, something that continues and increases to this day.

For many members, the changes imposed by COVID represented only a loss; for others, simplicity and flexibility were new-found benefits. It seemed like most members had the feeling that RPCN had become “homeless,” as we did not have physical locations where we were settled.

As COVID restrictions and threats gradually eased last summer, several members of the RPCN Operations Committee began looking into what it might be like to have a “home” where we could hold the in-person portions of our meetings, store our Library, and even have our mail delivered. As all our previous haunts were still not allowing in-person meetings, we looked into whether we could own or lease office space, whether co-working facilities might suit our needs, and other options. For several months we tested hybrid (virtual and in-person) meetings at the Irondequoit Library so we understood and became proficient at making all attendees feel welcome and included.

Late last year, we found a wonderful opportunity and a highly synergistic relationship with the Al Sigl Center here in Rochester. Not only did the Al Sigl Center have a meeting room that served our hybrid meeting needs very well, but they could also provide storage for our Library and supplies, and they had facilities we could use to make coffee for in-person guests. There is much more than a landlord-tenant relationship between Al Sigl and RPCN – we both have “service to others” as our primary objective. After eight months of renting meeting and storage space, in June the RPCN Board decided to change our official address to the Al Sigl Center at 1000 Elmwood Avenue in Rochester. After three long years without an official home, we finally have one, and we fit into the neighborhood perfectly.

David Finger
RPCN Secretary and Immediate Past President

ChatGPT’s answer to “Will AI Replace Consultants?”

After writing my July 2023 RPCN Newsletter article: “Will AI Replace Consultants?”, I asked ChatGPT this question: “Will AI Replace Consultants?” I didn’t tell it anything else.

The following is the June 9, 2023 ChatGPT response. It’s a small sample of the power and possibilities that AI offers to consultants or anyone else. The message is: Learn what AI can do for you and your business

Here’s ChatGPT’s verbatim, unedited answer to “Will AI replace consultants?”

The role of AI in consulting is an evolving topic, and while AI has the potential to automate certain tasks and augment the capabilities of consultants, it is unlikely to completely replace them in the foreseeable future. Here are a few reasons why:

1. Human judgment and expertise: Consultants bring valuable insights, experience, and expertise to complex problem-solving. They possess a deep understanding of business contexts, organizational dynamics, and industry-specific nuances. While AI can provide data-driven analysis and recommendations, it often lacks the ability to fully comprehend the intricacies of human interactions and make complex judgment calls.

2. Relationship building: Building strong relationships with clients is a crucial aspect of consulting. It involves trust, effective communication, and understanding client needs beyond the scope of the specific project. These interpersonal skills are not easily replicated by AI, as it currently lacks the emotional intelligence and empathy required to establish and maintain meaningful client relationships.   

3. Adaptability and creativity: Consultants often deal with ambiguous and unique challenges that require adaptive thinking and creative problem-solving. AI, while capable of processing vast amounts of data and identifying patterns, typically operates within predefined algorithms and models. It may struggle in situations that demand unconventional thinking or the ability to explore multiple alternatives.   

4. Contextual understanding: Consultants are trained to analyze problems within the broader organizational and industry context. They consider various factors such as company culture, market dynamics, and regulatory frameworks, which may not be readily captured or understood by AI systems. These contextual insights play a significant role in developing effective strategies and recommendations.

However, it’s important to note that AI can enhance and support the work of consultants. It can automate repetitive tasks, assist in data analysis, provide data-driven insights, and help consultants make more informed decisions. The most likely scenario is a collaboration between consultants and AI where consultants leverage AI tools to augment their capabilities and deliver more comprehensive and efficient services to clients.

ChatGPT is just one of many powerful AI resources, with more to come. The message again: Learn how to use Artificial Intelligence to build and improve your business.

(To compare this article written by Chat GPT with the one written by Bob Lurz in the July 2023 RPCN Newsletter, click here.)

Bob Lurz

Books and Podcasts for Consultants and Business Owners

Mark Fling, RPCN President, and several other RPCN members have recommended the following books and podcasts.


  • Start And Grow Your Own Consulting Business From Zero: A Proven 7-Step Guide To Turn Your Expertise Into Income, Win Clients Fast And Develop A Mindset For Success by Mathew Robson
  • The Irresistible Consultant's Guide to Winning Clients: 6 Steps to Unlimited Clients & Financial Freedom by David A. Fields
  • Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek
  • Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown


RPCN’s Work with Simon Vision Consulting Program Continues

The Rochester Professional Consultants Network’s (RPCN) program of providing mentors to the University of Rochester’s Simon School of Business, Simon Vision Consulting (SVC) Program (Simon Vision), recently concluded our eleventh highly-regarded semester. We’re already preparing for our twelfth semester of helping Simon Vision.

Simon Vision had 16 client projects last semester that were successfully completed.  RPCN supplied 12 mentors, and they provided assistance to all 16 projects, as a few of our mentors helped with multiple teams.

If you are unfamiliar with Simon Vision, well you’re in luck. On August 11th, the current president of Simon Vision, William Zoratto, will give a presentation telling you all about the program, how you can become a mentor, and even how you can become a client of theirs.

  • Not to give away everything that William will be telling you, but the brief answer to the question of what is Simon Vision is that the program is an effort to increase experiential learning opportunities for Simon’s MBA and MS students.
  • It is a student-run program that usually has four to five student members per team.
  • Each team typically provides consulting to a local small business for 8 - 12 weeks which is one semester.
  • In the semester that follows, Simon sometimes has another student consulting team take over the next part of the project for the same company.
  • Participation in the program is voluntary for the students and is not part of the regular Simon curriculum.
  • In addition to the RPCN mentors, there is a faculty adviser who helps the students run the program and he actually joined RPCN this past spring.  How cool is that?

We’re expecting there to be 15-20 projects in total this Fall, so ideally, we’d like to find 15-20 RPCN members to be mentors. If you’d like to become a mentor, please contact me. My contact information is at the end of this article.

We’re also helping Simon Vision look for new projects for the Fall semester. They have several client projects already lined up but are still looking for a few more clients to get that full slate of 15-20 projects.  If you, a client, or an associate have a well-defined project that could be outsourced, Simon Vision could be a great resource to get your project completed.

  • As mentioned above, projects are typically staffed with four to five Simon Vision consultants and a project manager.
  • Ideally, projects in the Fall semester last about 10 – 12 weeks.
  • Projects are vetted by the Simon Vision student governing board and they will work with you to define a project that can be successfully completed within these constraints.
  • If your project isn’t selected for inclusion in the Fall semester, don’t lose heart. It still could be accepted in the Spring semester.

The project can be any business problem and Simon Vision teams have successfully completed projects focused on marketing, business strategy, financial planning, operations, competitive analysis, and so on. Examples of completed projects include reviewing ways to decrease seasonal fluctuations in sales, developing a financial plan to solicit funding, and exploring new marketing channels. As you can see, the projects can take on a wide variety of topics and the student teams work for FREE!

If you are interested in having an SVC Project Team perform work for you, would like more information about the program, or if you’d like to volunteer to be an RPCN member mentor to a student team, please contact Dave Bassett at

RPCN Video

Watch the introductory video here.

Upcoming RPCN Events

Visit the RPCN website for a list of all upcoming events.

Technical Forum
Friday, August 4, 2023
8:00 - 9:30 a.m. 

Simon Vision Consulting: "A Mentoring Opportunity"
Presented by William Zoratto
In-Person or Virtually
Friday, August 11, 2023
8:00 - 9:30 a.m.

Enhancing Human Capital Lunch N' Learn
Getting It Right & Getting Along
Thursday, August 17, 2023
11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Business Forum
In-Person or Virtually
Friday, August 18, 2023
8:00 - 9:30 a.m. 

RPCN Board Meeting
Everyone is welcome to attend.
In-Person or Virtually
Friday, August 18, 2023
10:00 - 11:30 a.m.

Hanging Out For A Living: A Revolutionary Approach to Doing Business
Presented by Theresa Oschmann
In-Person or Virtually
Friday, August 25, 2023
8:00 - 9:30 a.m.

Did You Know?
Use the FAQs for RPCN Questions

Have you ever had questions about RPCN such as:

  • Who are the RPCN members and which professions do they represent?
  • I’m not sure about starting my own business. How can RPCN help me decide whether consulting is the correct path for me?
  • What is RPCN all about? How can it help me?
  • Will RPCN help me market my business?
  • In addition to information learned at presentations and forums, what skills and experience can I receive at RPCN?

These are just a few examples of questions asked every day about RPCN. There are many more too.

  1. They can be found by clicking on the ABOUT option in the scroll bar on the RPCN Home page.
  2. Then scroll down to FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions).

Try it. You’ll learn things about RPCN you didn’t know before. In addition, when potential future members ask you what RPCN is all about, the FAQs are a great place to send them for the information.

If you think of an FAQ that you would like to comment about or a new FAQ you would
like to have added to the list, there is a place for that too.

  1. Select the Make an FAQ Suggestion button at the top of the page at
  2. Email the address shown on the Contact Us page that opens up at
  3. Your input will be reviewed.
  4. If accepted, your question and RPCN’s answer will be added to the list.

Just think – you will be adding information to a valuable RPCN resource!

Steve Royal

Where to Find Statistics

Many of us may find statistics useful in planning and running our businesses. Here are some new, recently-published sources:

  • Proquest Statistical Abstract of the United States 2023 (The National Data Book) published by Bernan Press and ProQuest
  • Business Statistics of the United States 2022 – Patterns of economic change, 27th edition
  • Patterns of economic change by state and area 2023 – Income, Employment, and Gross Domestic Product, 10th edition

See 800-462-6420, or check out your local public library or college libraries to see if they have these and other resources.

Ruth Balkin, RPCN Librarian

Meet the new Members!

Cynthia Smith

Volunteer Opportunities

Member Outreach Volunteers

The RPCN Membership Committee is looking for members who enjoy expanding their connections and learning about other industries. We are looking for two Member Outreach Volunteers. The Membership Committee has been increasing our interactions with members in several new ways, and the first area where we could benefit from additional hands (and ears) is to learn about the current business goals of your fellow members. If you’re a curious type, you will easily discover the keys that the member believes will be critical to their success, any potential challenges the member can foresee, and how RPCN may be able to help. Your minimum time investment would be just 30 minutes a week and should never exceed three hours a month.

Interested, curious? Reach out to the RPCN Membership Chair, Tom Fecteau, or 315.447.0425 for more details.

We want your news!

The RPCN newsletter welcomes news, success stories, tips, resources, events, and other items that would be of broad interest to consultants. To submit a newsletter item, send an email with the announcement in an attached Word file to

Melanie Watson, Publisher 
Sandra Glanton, Copyeditor

The deadline for submitting material for our next newsletter is the 21st of this month.

Request from the Editors

When submitting material to be included in the RPCN newsletter, please:
1. Send the submission TO and not to individuals.
2. Include the words “For RPCN Newsletter” in the subject line. (Some people send articles to ALL RPCN members themselves, and it is often difficult to distinguish those that are being circulated independently from those intended for inclusion in the newsletter.)
3. Please attach a .doc instead of typing your submission within the email. 



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