A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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“A consultant is someone who lives out of town” (7/25)
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“No one gets sick on Wednesdays” (7/25)
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Entry from July 25, 2014
“A consultant is someone who lives out of town”

"Consultant” is often defined as someone who lives out of town—or at least 50 or 100 miles away. The consultant is called in, says the obvious, and then leaves. “A consultant is someone who lives more than 100 miles away, hired to tell your company what you already know and who supplies a copy of a report you wrote” is one definition.

Elzy Wright (1908-1984) was employed by the California Motor Vehicles Department in 1959 when he included this definition in a short monthly bulletin article explaining administrative language:

“‘Consultant (or expert)’ is anybody with a briefcase who is more than 50 miles from home.”

The “briefcase” part of the definition has been mostly forgotten.


20 January 1959, Middletown (NY) Daily Record, pg. 18, col. 3:
Gobbledygook is translated
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (UPI)
A man “headquartered” in California has “finalized” a survey of gobbledygook.

Elzy Wright of the California Motor Vehicles Department compiled the true meaning of some of the expressions used by organization men, and had them printed in the department’s monthly bulletin. Here are some samples:
(...)
“Consultant (or expert)” is anybody with a briefcase who is more than 50 miles from home.

3 March 1959, Rockford (IL) Register-Republic, “Off the Beat” by Bryan Baxter, pg. 10B, col. 2:
“Consultant (or expert)” is anybody with a briefcase who is more than 50 miles from home.
(From Elzy Wright of the California motor vehicles department.—ed.)

9 February 1961, Richmond (VA) Times_Dispatch,"Charles McDowell Today: Notes and Observations,” pg. 11, col. 1:
AT LAST, A DEFINITION—THe world is run by organization men, and organization men are run largely by consultants. This is generally conceded, yet “consultant” remains a difficult word to define. The dictionary definitons, which vary, are all inadequate because they fail to catch the true spirit of the word “consultant.”

A man named Elzy Wright, who works in the civil service in California, has been brooding about all this, and has come up with the following definition which we hereby accept: “Consulant...Anybody with a briefcase who is more than 50 miles from home.”

Google News Archive
27 March 1963, The Blade (Toledo, OH), The Bystander: The Duties of Consultants” by Charles McDowell, Peach Section, pg. 1, col. 4:
People known as consultants are playing an increasingly important role in this country, yet everyone is not sure just what a consultant is. Maybe we can clear this up.

A consultant has been defined as anyone more than 50 miles from home carrying a briefcase. That is not a fair definition. All consultants do not carry briefcases.

Some consultants carry attache cases.

Google Books
Texas Highways
Volumes 17-18
1970 (Google Books date may be incorrect.—ed.)
Pg. 22:
People known as consultants are playing an increasingly important role in this country, yet everyone is not sure just what a consultant is. Maybe we can clear this up. A consultant has been defined as anyone more than 50 miles from home carrying a briefcase. That is not a fair definition. All consultants do not carry briefcases.

Google Books
The Best Is Yet to Come
By Betty Jane Wylie
Toronto, ON: Key Porter Books
1985
Pg. 101:
For some (usually male, usually executive level), it’s easier because they can become “consultants” (a consultant is someone who lives out of town). They can hire out by the day for a fee plus expenses.

Google News Archive
15 December 1989, Gainesville (FL) Sun, ‘The pro from Miami” (editorial), pg. 10A, col. 1:
It must have something to do with the old joke that, by definition, a consultant is someone who lives more than 100 miles away.

3 September 1995, Sandusky (OH) Register, “Our Opinion,” pg. A-4, col. 1:
Can we consult on the consultant?
There’s an old joke about how a consultant is a guy who does the same job you do but lives 50 miles away.

Google Books
Our Emperors Have No Clothes
BY Alan Weiss
Franklin Lakes, NJ: Career Press
1995
Pg. 236:
There is an old adage in my profession that says, “A consultant is anyone with a briefcase more than 50 miles from home.”

The World This Week
MONDAY, JULY 31, 2006
“Old Time Values”
(...)
We all know that a consultant is someone who lives over 50 miles from the problem area and receives a nice sum of funds to tell someone else what needs to be done. Then the consultant is free to leave town.

Google Books
The Six Sigma Toolbox:
54 Improvement Tools and When to Use Them

By Jerry W. Wishes
Toronto, ON: Productive Publications
2013
Pg. 41:
It’s an old joke that a consultant is someone who lives fifty miles or more from the company. People tend to listen more to an ‘outsider’ even if they are bringing the same message as management.

Twitter
Michele Pegoraro
‏@mikyjpeg
http://amzn.com/k/1M8meWQ2THGEXseaCeZYAg … A consultant is sometimes defined as someone who gives advice more than 100 miles from where he or she lives.
10:02 AM - 6 Jun 2013

Tomahawk Take (Atlanta Braves blog
February 12, 2014
The John Hart Effect
by Fred Owens
(...)
“A consultant is someone who lives more than 100 miles away, hired to tell your company what you already know and who supplies a copy of a report you wrote.” (Anonymous)

25 July 2014, Baltimore (MD) Sun, “The presentation dilemma” (Commentary):
We know the old joke: a consultant is someone who lives at least 5,000 miles away.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWork/Businesses • Friday, July 25, 2014 • Permalink


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