Tis’ the Humorous Season: My 5 Habits of Highly Unproductive Proposal Professionals

French schoolchildren still read the fables of La Fontaine. One of his most famous is the “Ant and the Grasshopper,” which drives home the moral that the ant’s busy industry is rewarded with comfort and a full larder, while the grasshopper, who sits on a blade of grass singing to the sun, cannot provide for […]

Want to be a Better Proposal Professional? Take (More) Naps!

We proposal professionals take great pride in the number of consecutive hours we can work on a proposal. Sit down with proposal managers, and inevitably we start telling stories about our incredible physical feats of wakefulness. “I worked 24 straight hours on a proposal with only breaks for meals,” one person will say. Another will […]

Should We Judge Proposals the Same Way as We Judge People?

Should We Judge Proposals the Same Way as We Judge People?

Should we judge proposals the same way we judge people? Perhaps the answer should be “yes.” According to Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist in the Harvard University Business School and the author of Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges (2015), first impressions are very important. People size us up in seconds, but […]

How can Proposal Professionals Learn to Shift their Perspectives?

How can Proposal Professionals Learn to Shift their Perspectives?

Bookstores are full of business advice books about how to become more creative. Although the advice varies, it usually involves learning to shift your perspective so that you see your tasks and challenges in new ways. For proposal professionals, this often involves brainstorming meetings about win themes, proposal strategy, storyboarding, and the like. However, there […]

Want to be a Better Proposal Professional? Learn to be a Great Listener

I meet few people who claim to be below-average listeners, but in our most candid moments we probably all admit to ourselves that listening is a great skill that we probably could do better. Why? The answer is easy – listening has a great effect on our job performance. If you cannot listen, you cannot […]

Good Strategies for Winning Proposals in 2016

Good Strategies for Winning Proposals in 2016

We are all prognosticators, and advice has always been easy and cheap, indicating that often it of little value. Nonetheless, there are trends in Federal contracting that do point to several clear-cut winning proposal strategies in 2016. My advice, inexpensive as it is, comes from the January 2016 “Practitioner Perspectives” of Wolf Den Associates in […]

Tis’ the Humorous Season:  My Ten Ironclad Rules for Writing a Truly Bad Proposal

Tis’ the Humorous Season: My Ten Ironclad Rules for Writing a Truly Bad Proposal

Because this is a relentlessly upbeat time of the year, I would like to pour a bucket of cold water onto anyone who thinks they have mastered the art and science of writing a good proposal. Bah, humbug, as Scrooge might have groused. And in the spirit of Scrooge, I have decided to provide ten […]

Want to Become a Better Proposal Professional?  Lace Up your Sneakers

Want to Become a Better Proposal Professional? Lace Up your Sneakers

On LinkedIn and other web sites, I see many articles about the traits and characteristics of successful proposal professionals. While I usually agree with their advice – who would not benefit from listening more and talking less? – most of them miss an important point. If you are not healthy and happy, you are unlikely […]

How to Meet Tight Proposal Deadlines — Take More Breaks!

How to Meet Tight Proposal Deadlines — Take More Breaks!

The proposal profession is a milestone- and deadline- driven profession. We are constantly producing documents and making decisions based on tight calendar schedules. As a result, proposal professionals often spend long – and odd hours at night and on weekends – responding to RFPs. For many of us, these means keeping our bodies in chairs, […]

The Past is Prologue:  How to Win With Past Performance

The Past is Prologue: How to Win With Past Performance

In a typical proposal to a federal agency, companies must demonstrate that they (1) have a sound technical solution or product that will address the challenges described in the Request for Proposal (RFP); and that they (2) have successful experience in previous contracts doing similar work. In other words, proposals are finely balanced between the […]