Our very own Phil Vecchione (AKA – DNAPhil) has started GM4Hire  which is a new consulting business where clients will receive personalized support from Phil for their own GMing projects. I interviewed Phil via Skype (and recorded it for a possible future podcast) to learn more about what GM4Hire is all about, what he will offer, and why GMs should turn to him for help with both designing campaigns and personal improvement of their GMing skills.
“This is a way to gain access to an experienced GM.” says Phil, and that experienced GM is Phil himself. Not taking those words lightly though Phil has provided his Gamer Resume  for prospective clients and the world to see in PDF format. For us old time gamers there are a lot of classic titles in the RPG Systems Proficient section, a list which began for Phil back in 1982 with the 8th printing of Basic Dungeon & Dragons. Yet as a GM I was more impressed with the Campaigns Game Mastered section due to the length of some his campaigns. His resume makes it clear that Phil has a diverse background with RPGs on both side of the screen.
Yet if you are like me you don’t want to spend money on a consultant just because that person is passionate about their own interests. I’m a hard sell for any consultant not because I am against consulting, but because my experience in the corporate world is that there a lot of bad consultants out there. And despite Phil being a fellow gnome you better believe that I am not giving the thumbs up to any consultant until I am sure that they can deliver more than just expertise. Any consultant worth hiring has to make a project better than you could have done on your own with the same level of investment. Expertise is not enough to be a consultant.
So can Phil do that? If I were to spend X amount of dollars for his services would I end up with a better product than if I were to invest my own time at the same rate? I believe that he can.
Phil may have a passion for gaming, but he makes his living as a project manager for a CRO in the pharmaceutical industry. Anyone who has ever worked with a good project manager will tell you that it makes your job so much easier, and I think that too often GMs fail to treat their campaigns as projects. Defining the purpose, scope, and desired outcome of any project gives you a huge advantage in delivering great results and these are the kinds of steps that a project manager will help you through.
Phil also is a practitioner of David Allen’s Getting Things Done  which I did not know at the time of our interview. I am a huge fan of the GTD system and have had great success using it myself. Organized approaches to problems, whether they be in gaming or business, increases the likelihood of success. Knowing that Phil makes use of a system that I already employ because it works tilts the odds in his favor that GM4Hire will be something of value.
I must add that I have read many of Phil’s blog articles on GMing and have attended one of his presentations. Phil is not someone who just decided one day that he was “good enough” to be a consultant. Phil has put in the time and energy up front to earn his credentials long before deciding to take on this new endeavor. One of the reasons he wanted to consult was because he couldn’t give the audience members of his seminars enough personalized attention at his presentations. With GM4Hire Phil can provide that to his customers.
Finally what makes me think that GM4Hire will be worth you looking into is that Phil is realistic about what he is providing his customers. “I really want to work with just two to three people at a time.” says Phil. “I want to get them through whatever issue it is that they are having, and then I will pick up other clients after that.” Plus Phil is not delusional about how much a GM consultant can make. At $10 an hour (he will also barter for other goods and services in exchange for his own) he won’t be able to quit his day job with this service. This is still a gamer doing what he loves, but in a format that allows him to bring value to other people’s games as well.
So Phil, good luck with GM4Hire! With your gaming experience, professional credentials, and level-headed approach I am sure that you will be providing your clients with something of real value. In fact, you will probably be hearing back from me soon as I have plenty of GMing projects that can use a second set of eyes to help polish the final product with. And while I have learned that you should be critical before hiring anyone as a consultant, I’ve also learned that you keep a healthy relationship with the good ones.
That is my opinion on the matter, so what is yours? Leave your comments for others to read and share your own experiences with me and other members of the Gnome Stew community. And no matter what happens, don’t forget that the GM is a player too! Have fun with it!