The Change Your Mindset Podcast

Welcome to the Change Your Mindset podcast, hosted by Peter Margaritis, CPA, AKA The Accidental Accountant. Peter is a speaker, expert in applied improvisation and author of the book 'Improv Is No Joke, Using Improvization to Create Positive Results in Leadership and Life'. Peter's new book, Taking the Numb Our of Numbers: Explaining & Presenting Financial Information with Confidence and Clarity will be published in June 2018.

S2E32 – Dr. Gleb Tsipursky | Never Go With Your Gut

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is a disaster avoidance expert with over 20 years of experience dramatically empowering leaders and organizations to avoid business disasters by addressing potential threats, maximizing unexpected opportunities, and resolving persistent personnel problems.

 

Gleb serves as the CEO of a boutique consulting and training firm, Disaster Avoidance Experts, whose clients range from Fortune 500 companies to mid-sized businesses and nonprofits. He’s also the author of a national bestseller on avoiding disasters in business, The Truth-Seeker’s Handbook: A Science-Based Guide, and an upcoming book, Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters, which is coming out November 2019.

 

Why Do People Make Bad Decisions?

 

Dr. Tsipursky has always been fascinated with decision making, and he kept asking himself the same question: Why do people make such bad decisions?

 

He first saw in his parents. They yelled at each other, they fought a lot, and it was always over stupid things. Then he came of age around the same time as the dotcom boom and bust – and he saw a lot of bad decisions being made then.

 

He saw people are pouring enormous sums of money, many billions of dollars, into online venues that, to him, “seemed really sketchy,” and then most of them disappeared in the blink of an eye.

 

Then, even worse, you have the big three in accounting fraud: Enron, WorldCom and Tyco. These companies also suffered as part of a dot com bust, but they used fraudulent methods to try to cover up the fact that they lost a lot of money. And then, they had accounting fraud scandals that screwed a lot of investors out of a lot of money. Seeing the fallout of the dotcom bust was a turning point in Dr. Tsipursky’s life, and it pushed him to study decision making in business contexts.

 

Personally, my first reaction to accounting fraud is that it’s just greed – people want money so they lied to get it – but Dr. Tsipursky tells us it’s actually not that simple.

 

Because, when you look at the people at the top, they already had millions and millions of dollars, so gaining a few million more was actually pretty negligible. However, it could make a huge difference to their legacy if people knew. Of course, covering it up and going to jail probably hurt their legacies more – so why didn’t they anticipate that and, well, not commit fraud?

 

“And if you actually look in-depth at why they committed this fraud, they committed it because they went with their gut reactions, their intuitions, and they did it because of their emotions, based from their feelings… So, they tried to cover it up as much as they could because they felt very uncomfortable, and they felt very bad about being perceived as losers, about losing face.” 

 

And research shows that most of us do the same: about 80-90% of decisions are informed primarily by our feelings.

 

What’s Wrong With Going With Your Gut?

 

Our emotions are short-term oriented because they evolved from the ancestral Savannah. And it really helped us survive in the wild because we didn’t really have an opportunity to invest into the long term. We couldn’t build a bank account. We couldn’t build a house. We needed to get away from predators as quickly as possible while hunting our food as effectively as possible.

 

But as a result, “these gut reactions, they really misfire very often in the modern world and bring down high-flying careers and big companies.”

 

So, how can we avoid succumbing to human nature? Well, it’s right in the title of Dr. Tsipursky’s book: don’t go with your gut.

 

Our gut tends to make really bad choices in our modern business environment (and in modern life in general, really). So, it’s important to see what your gut is telling you, but then always check that with your head. And in the book, you will find specific, structured decision-making processes that you can use to check with your head.

 

 

Transcript:

Click to download the full Transcript PDF.

 

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:00:00] So, what usually happens with mergers and acquisitions, where they go wrong, is that business leaders look at the products, at the strategy, and they don’t look at the people.

Peter Margaritis: [00:00:19] Welcome to Change Your Mindset Podcast, formerly known as Improv is No Joke, where it’s all about believing that strong communication skills are the best way in delivering your technical accounting knowledge and growing your business. An effective way of building strong communication skills is by embracing the principles of applied improvisation.

Peter Margaritis: [00:00:39] Your host is Peter Margaritis, CPA, a.k.a. The Accidental Accountant. And he will interview financial professionals and business leaders to find their secret in building stronger relationships with their clients, customers, associates, and peers, all the while growing their businesses. So, let’s start the show.

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:01:04] Welcome to Episode 32. And my guest today is the Disaster Avoidance Expert Dr. Gleb Tsipursky. Gleb has over 20 years of experience dramatically empowering leaders and organizations to avoid business disasters by addressing potential threats, maximizing unexpected opportunities, and resolving persistent personnel problems.

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:01:26] Gleb serves as the CEO of a boutique consulting and training firm, Disaster Avoidance Experts, whose clients range from Fortune 500 companies to mid-sized businesses and nonprofits. He’s author of the national bestseller on avoiding disasters in business and other life areas, The Truth Seekers Handbook, a science-based guide. And his Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters is forthcoming with Career Press in November 2019.

Peter Margaritis: [00:01:56] Gleb’s cutting-edge thought leadership was featured over 400 articles he’s published, over 350 interviews he has gave to popular venues that include Fast Company. CBS News, Time Scientific American, Psychology Today. The Conversation, Business Insider, Government Executive, Inc. Magazine and many others. He also has a strong research and teaching background in Behavioral Economics and Neuroscience for over 15 years in academia, including seven years as a professor at the Ohio State University with dozens of peer reviews and academic publications.

Peter Margaritis: [00:02:34] Our discussion today is about his new book Never Go With Gut. And you can learn more about Gleb by going to his website, disasteravoidanceexperts.com. And you can contact him through his email at gleb@disasteravoidanceexperts.com.

Peter Margaritis: [00:02:54] Now, before we get to the interview, Change Your Mindset is part of the C-Suite Radio family of podcasts. It is an honor and a privilege to be amongst some of the more popular business podcasts such as the Hero Factor with Jeffrey Hayzlett, Amazing Business Radio with Shep Hyken, and Keep Leading with Eddie Turner. You can find Change Your Mindset and many other outstanding business podcasts on C-Suite Radio by going to www.c-suiteradio.com.

Announcer: [00:03:22] This podcast is part of the C-Suite Radio Network: turning the volume up on business.

Peter Margaritis: [00:03:26] And, now, a word from our sponsor.

Sponsor: [00:03:32] This episode is sponsored by Peter A. Margaritis LLC, a.k.a. The Accidental Accountant. Are you looking for a high content and engaging speaker for your next conference? Do you want to deliver a story to stakeholders that will transform data dumping to engaging business conversations? Do you want to feel that the value a speaker provides your audience far exceeds the dollar value on their invoice? Then, book Peter for your next conference, management retreat, or workshop. Contact Peter at peter@petermargaritis.com and visit his website at www.petermargaritis.com. By the way, one of his Fortune 50 clients actually made the comment about the value he brings to your audience.

Peter Margaritis: [00:04:21] Now, let’s get to the interview with Dr. Gleb Tsipursky.

Peter Margaritis: [00:04:29] Welcome back, everybody. Today, my guest is Gleb Tspirusky, who I’ve known now for a little bit over a year or so because he’s a member of the National Speakers Association. And more importantly, he’s a member of the Ohio Chapter of the National Speakers Association. And first and foremost, I want to welcome Gleb. Thank you so very much for being a guest on my podcast today. I appreciate you taking time out on this absolutely stunning beautiful afternoon here in Columbus, Ohio something that we haven’t seen in quite a while.

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:04:58] Yeah. That’s so much. It’s a beautiful afternoon. It’s been a week of rain. So, it’s nice to have this difference. And thank you for having me on the podcast. I appreciate it, Peter.

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:07] I’m looking forward to this conversation. But before we get into the crux of it, can you give my audience a little bit of your background?

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:05:15] Sure, happy to. So, as you can hear from my accent, I wasn’t born here in the United States. I was born in Moldova, which is a country in Eastern Europe that is just to the east of Romania and southwest of Ukraine for those geography buffs who are listening in. And I came here when I was 10. My parents took me in 1991, just as the Soviet Union was about to collapse. The situation was bad. It became much more free to leave. The wall was falling down. And so, my parents left that part of the world to go somewhere where they have more freedom, independence, and opportunity for themselves and their kids.

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:05:59] And we settled down on York City. And so, that’s where I grew up since I was 10 until I think — I lived there and tell my early, like 21. I went to New York University. Then, I was in Massachusetts. I got a Master’s in Harvard. And then, I got a job at UC Chapel Hill. And so, that’s kind of my educational background before I settled here in Columbus where I got a job at Ohio State University. And I stayed there for about seven years until leaving a year ago to do full-time speaking, consulting, and coaching. That’s kind of my travel background.

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:06:33] Now, my professional background is that I was always fascinated in decision making. Why do people make such bad decisions? People make so many bad decisions. When I was a kid, I first saw this in my parents, to be honest. They yelled at each other, they fought a lot, and it was over stupid things, just kind of really random things. And I saw that, and I was like, “Why? Why are you doing this? This is not good for either of you. You live with each.” That wasn’t great.

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:07:03] And then, I came of age. So, I kind of became an adult, and I started looking at my society during the dot com boom and bust. And so, when people are pouring enormous, enormous sums of money, many billions of dollars into online venues that really seems sketchy to me, and then they all disappeared in the blink of an eye, most of them. I think Webfan, Petfarm. I mean, so many of them disappeared. And then, even worse you have people from Enron, WorldCom and Tyco who suffered as part of a dot com boom and bust, but they used fraudulent methods to try to cover up their suffering, the fact that they lost a lot of money. And then, they had that accounting fraud scandals, and they screwed a lot of investors out of a lot of money.

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:07:51] And that was just people suffered so much both because the dot com boom and bust and because of the fraudulent scandals. So, that’s really the turning point in my life, that period of time when I was becoming an adult pushed me to study decision making in business contexts and doing consulting, coaching, and training for business leaders on how to avoid the kind of disastrous decisions that lead to such harmful, harmful consequences. So, that’s a little bit of my professional journey outside of the academic realm. And academia, I studied the decision making. And then, I brought it out to the consulting, coaching, and speaking points that I train and help.

Peter Margaritis: [00:08:31] Yeah, bad decisions. And you mentioned the big three in the accounting profession around fraud. And we’ll start talking more about your book, Never Go With Your Gut. Excuse me, your new book, Never Go With Your Gut, that’s coming out in November. But my thought about the accounting fraud scandals are it’s just pure greed. And we may have, as you purposely said and very eloquently said, screwed up. But because of that greed and guilt, I want to keep things going. We perpetrated this ruse to try to cover it up. But as we’ve learned, and we’ll start with Nixon, but we learned coverups don’t work, and eventually will come out.

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:09:13] I hear you, Peter. And as an accountant, I totally understand why you’ve got the greed question right away. But when you actually — I look at the scandals in depth. And what happens is that people at the top, they did not need more money. They had many, many, many, many millions of dollars in their bank accounts. So, the question is given that they have many, many, many billions or millions, a few more million dollars wouldn’t make a difference, really, to their bank accounts. And it could make a huge difference in their legacy and the fact that some of them went to jail for 10 years. So, why did they do it? Why did they commit this fraud?

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:09:51] And if you actually look in-depth at why they committed this fraud, they committed it because they went with their gut reactions, their intuitions, and they did it because of their emotions, based from their feelings. They were afraid, Peter. They were afraid of being seen as losers. as losing face in front of other people who were their peers, in front of their families. They didn’t want to lose face. And so, they tried to cover it up as much as they could because they felt very uncomfortable, and they felt very bad about being perceived as losers, about losing face. And that’s the essence of what was happening there was driven by their emotions, by their intuitions, by their feelings, which research shows determine about 80% to 90% of what we do.

Peter Margaritis: [00:10:35] So, Gleb, help me here. Much of a rational thought around this. If they didn’t want to be perceived as losers, but we make these bad decisions based on emotions to basically cover ourselves to or insulate ourselves, but, we’re ultimately caught.

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:10:53] Yes.

Peter Margaritis: [00:10:53] We’re even bigger losers versus doing the right thing at the right moment. And we can go back in history. Even for the accounting professionals to go back in history and see, it continues to go. So, I think part of your conversation here, what about the ego? Does the ego just hijack everything?

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:11:15] Yeah, the ego. This is the ego. You don’t want to be perceived as a loser. Now, here, so we need to think about the gut here, our intuitions, our emotions. They’re very short-term oriented. If they weren’t short-term oriented, all the students in all the classes would turn their papers on time, right, and there wouldn’t be a rush. You work a lot with accountants. You know what kind of rush there is before tax day, before April 15, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:11:42] Right?

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:11:43] Well, things aren’t on time. People procrastinate because of their gut reactions, their intuitions, our emotions are very short-term oriented because they evolved from the ancestral Savannah. That’s what we evolve from. That’s what our gut functions as. It functions with tribalism. It functions with fight-or-flight response. So, it’s very short-term oriented. And it’s really helped us survive in the Savannah to be short-term oriented because we didn’t really have an opportunity to invest into the long term. We couldn’t build a bank account. We couldn’t build a house. We needed to get away from those saber tooth tigers as quickly as possible and to hunt down the deer, and bison, and whatnot. So, that’s where our lives are like in the Savannah. And the Savannah, that’s short-term orientation was great. You didn’t need to worry about cover-ups. You didn’t need to worry about journalists, and reporters, and bank accounts, and stuff like that. And so, these gut reactions, they really misfire very often in the modern world and bring down high-flying careers and big companies.

Peter Margaritis: [00:12:45] Wow, okay. I get that. And as soon as you’re talking of that, I get the aspect of why emotions drive decisions and the short-term nature of it. But in looking at your book, you cover all of this preface around emotions in the second chapter, like Who Wants to Be a Loser?

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:13:07] Yes. So, that’s a question about losing. One of the aspects that really drives us is not wanting to lose. So, we did some research on this, on not wanting to lose. Apparently, people, if they have an option between losing and gaining, they’re twice as averse, they’re twice as reluctant to gain money as to lose money. So, if you go if you give somebody an example, if you tell somebody, “Hey, how about I give you $50 right now or $60 in a year?” now, what would you do, Peter?

Peter Margaritis: [00:13:41] You’d probably take the $50 now.

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:13:45] Why is that, Peter?

Peter Margaritis: [00:13:48] Short-term gratification. I have 50 in hand.

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:13:50] Yeah. Well, let’s say that there’s a complete guarantee they place it in a trust for you, and in a year from now, $60.

Peter Margaritis: [00:13:59] So, I would go, “There’s no such thing as a guarantee.” I look at that as a pension. And I’d rather have the $50 now to spend versus waiting a year. Do they count the time, value of money, and stuff? I’ll take the $50 now. Then, I’ll give you my mailing address where you can send it to me.

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:14:14] Sure, okay. Well, only if you send me $60 in a year, Peter.

Peter Margaritis: [00:14:17] Let’s do that. You shoot me $50 now, and you’ll see if you get to $60 in a year.

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:14:26] Right. So, people, unfortunately, they don’t tend to think about the fact that, essentially, savings accounts, and checking accounts, bonds, they increase at that rate of 1%, 2%. But we hold all our money in a bank. So, if I tell you,”Put it in a trust fund, put it in an account,” you can trust that money will be there. But we intuitively tend to go for the short-term gains because we’re afraid of losing the money that’s in the hand versus the longer term gains.

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:14:57] Now, think about $60 compared to $50, that’s a 20% increase. Imagine if you can make an investment that can guarantee you a 20% increase in the year. That wouldn’t be a Ponzi scheme. It wouldn’t be Bernie Madoff. People would be all over it. This is a 20% increase of your money in a year; whereas, the average increase in the stock market is something like 5% to 7% with high probability of losses. So, that’s a great, great, great investment.

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:15:26] If somebody offered me that deal, I would totally take it. $60 in a year, absolutely. Why is that? Because I know that my mind is screwed up as is everybody’s to be more oriented to want to avoid losses. And this desire to avoid losses really harms us because smart financial companies and schemers really keep people out of a lot of money who are not oriented toward the long term, who take the short-term gains over the much higher, much better long-term deal.

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:15:57] And so, if you don’t want to be a loser, you want to think about the long term. You want to think about, “Okay. I don’t want to lose this money now, but how much more would I gain in the long term?” And so, that’s kind of balance we need to draw to avoid falling for the cognitive bias that’s called loss aversion. And people fall for it all the time. That’s why people stay so long in debt and jobs. I mean, I coach a number of business leaders who were really afraid, executives who were really afraid of jumping ship when they really should have. I mean, they were overqualified for their current jobs, but they were worried about switching jobs to a new company or trying to get a better job in their current company partially because of this loss aversion. They didn’t want to let go of what they had, and they made bad decisions. They didn’t want to let go of what they had. And so, they lost out a number of times. So, that’s one of the conversations that I frequently have with business leaders.

Peter Margaritis: [00:16:53] That’s interesting. I can relate to some of it. And, actually, some of the examples that you gave, I just read something very similar, the exact same example. I’m trying to remember the book I just read that in. I get it, yeah. We tend to have taken a short-term view overall in this country. We have quarterly analyst calls, and quarterly reporting, and so on, and so forth. So, we really should be thinking about the long-term investing. In your book, you have this chapter titled Who’s the Bad Guy? And so, I’m sitting here thinking, “If I’m making bad decisions, does that make me the bad guy?”

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:17:33] No, no, no. This chapter is about how we interpret others and how we interpret ourselves. Now, let’s say you’re driving on the road, and you see somebody cut you off like really bad. Then, you’re like, “Oh, that jerk. How can you cut me off? That’s terrible.” And then, you’re drive along, and then you switch lanes, and you just happened to not see somebody, and you cut them off, and you’re like, “Oh, I’m sorry. I just didn’t see that person, right. I’m not a jerk.” You don’t attribute jerkness to yourself. You tend to attribute jerkness to others. And that’s kind of the difference in what’s called the fundamental attribution error.

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:18:07] Now, it happens all the time in business settings. When you go to a meeting, and you see somebody who is behaving in a somewhat problematic way. Let’s say they’re being shifty, or they’re being uncertain, or ambiguous, you tend to not trust them because you think, “Oh, they’re being shifty. They’re not trustworthy.” But when you’re having a stressful day, you just had a plumbing accident at home, and then you need to change your clothing, and run out to a business meeting you’re not going to be so great. You’re going to be like worried about what’s happened in your house, and what’s going on, and your wife or husband are taking care of it or not. So, you’re not going to be really focused, and you’re going to appear to be shifty. But, of course, you’re not going to be not trustworthy in that situation.

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:18:53] And that’s a really frequent thing that happens where people interpret others, the behavior of others in the most negative way possible. It’s just the human nature to do so. That’s how we think, that’s how we roll, that’s how our brains work, that’s why we think that somebody who cuts us off is a jerk as opposed to thinking, “Oh, maybe that person didn’t see us,” or “Maybe that person is driving his pregnant wife to the hospital.” So, we don’t attribute more positive charitable motivations to others. And because of that, we tend to make a lot of mistakes. A lot of business deals don’t get closed because of these negative attributions. A lot of people who could be hired to a better position aren’t hired. And so, this is called the category of attribution errors where we attribute negative status to other people and, also, to groups of other people. We could talk about that. That gets into stereotyping. But I’ll stop now, so I don’t monologue.

Peter Margaritis: [00:19:48] So, okay. So, your analogy about the car. Two weeks ago I was driving from Atlantic City back down to Baltimore, and I swerved. I didn’t see the blind spot, and I almost hit the car. I came back, I’m very sorry, whatever. No kidding, 10 minutes later, somebody almost ran into me, and I didn’t calm him jerk, but I gave him another word. It wasn’t very nice. And I didn’t think twice about that. But then, I’m thinking now listening to you, like, “Oh, yeah. I get it.” And I don’t know why. There’s a joke that George Carlin used to say, when somebody flies by you, they’re speeding past you, “Look at that idiot,” or if someone is driving you off, “Well, what a moron,” you say.

Peter Margaritis: [00:20:38] But to your point, and I try to do more of this in my own personal life, when somebody speeds by me, I don’t know, they could be a jerk, but, really, they could be rushing to the hospital. Their parents might be sick, their kid might be sick, or they’re late for a very important meeting. But we make these assumptions, “Oh, look at that crazy guy. Look at the bad decisions that they’re making.” But you don’t know what’s going on in their head in their life at that time.

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:21:04] Exactly, exactly. And that’s what we need to be really worried about and afraid of. And that’s why we need to go out of our way to be more charitable toward others because our intuitions, as you so rightly point out, Peter, are to be not charitable toward others, to assume hostile intent. And that goes back to the Savannah environment as I talk about in my book, Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters, which is available from Amazon for preorder now in print, and e-book, and audio books formats.

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:21:33] So, in the Savannah environment, in the ancestral Savannah environment, which is what our intuitions and gut reactions are adopted from, which is 80% to 90% of what we think and feel are driven by these gut intuitions, it was very good to assume hostile intent. If there was somebody else who was coming from another tribe or even from your own tribe who was kind of looking at you sideways, it was very good to assume hostile intent because it was so easy to die in the Savannah environment. We didn’t have modern medicine. People fought. People killed each other.

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:22:06] Here, we write each other nasty emails or leave bad product reviews, right. Now, in that time, the conflicts were resolved by you beating each other into a bloody pulp. So, that’s the way that conflicts resolved back then. And you wanted to be extra, extra, extra careful to not be beaten into a bloody pulp. But even if you were cut when you were beating the other person to a bloody pulp, and you got a blood infection, you can’t heal it, so you died too. That’s bad. So, the only people who successfully survived and passed their genes forward are people who were very, very vigilant and strongly assumed hostile intent of other people and attributes.

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:22:45] So, this is the fundamental attribution error where we attribute to other people, especially people who aren’t part of our tribe, who don’t look like us, who don’t talk like us, who don’t have our cultural background, we attribute to them negative hostile intent. And that’s what we have to fight with every day in order to be successful in business and in life.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:07] Gleb, if you could find the secret to accomplish that, because there’s so much that in today’s society here even or even globally, I think you would be a very, very, very wealthy man because, I mean, you sit there — so, I’m Greek American, and the Greeks and Turks have fought for years, and still to this day. And the old joke is, you know what a Greek has for Thanksgiving? Lamb, because there’s no way he’s going to put a turk on his table.

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:23:43] Oh wow, okay.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:46] Yeah. But it is because of that, “They’re not of my tribe,” and because of evil, some things have happened in the past, we still equate them to today to some degree. At some point, it becomes sad. It goes back it goes back to the point of showing gratitude. We’re all people. And thank God we all don’t look alike. Thank God we don’t all look alike. And thank God that we are all different, but there’s some people that just can’t accept that difference. Because, into your chapter 4, What Color Are Your Glasses? I think some people are wearing shades. They’re black. They can’t see past. So, when you’re talking about “What Color Are Your Glasses?” are you talk about those who see the world in rose-colored glasses?

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:24:36] Indeed, indeed. That’s exactly right. And to answer your previous point, Peter, I think it’s very important for us to realize that we have these intuitions, which do cause other people who don’t look like us, especially those with whom we’ve had history of past, with whom our tribe has a history of past relations, like Turks and Greeks, and so on. There are many, many examples of that. So, that’s something that we need to be really afraid of, and worried about, and go against our intuitions, and be charitable toward others. More charitable than it feels like we should because it will never feel comfortable to do that because we’re going against our own intuitions. So, just on that point about how we use our gut.

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:25:14] Now, the rose-colored glasses, yes, there is a cognitive bias. One of those dangerous judgment that that we tend to make called confirmation bias. We tend to look for information that confirms our beliefs, and we tend to ignore information that doesn’t come from our beliefs. So, let’s say we are looking for information that says that we want to make a merger, we want to acquire another company. We Google why acquisitions and mergers are good. Now, what kind of information would that search provide you? It would provide you with, “Great. Acquisitions and mergers are great. Hire a company to do your acquisition,” right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:25:52] Right.

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:25:53] That’s the kind of information that would provide. Now, it won’t provide you the actual information that would be whether mergers and acquisitions create value or not create value. And, actually, research shows that about 80% of mergers and acquisitions fail to create value. They actually destroy value. So, it’s often a bad idea to try to acquire another company or merge with another company. But people who want to do the merger, to do the acquisition, they don’t think about that. They don’t look for that information. They look for information that only confirms their beliefs.

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:26:29] Same thing on a smaller level. Let’s say you’re looking to hire an employee, and you like this guy who you had an interview with, and he was great. Now, you really joked, and you really clicked. You’re not going to look for negative information about this person, and you’re going to be very likely to hire this person. And it will turn out, quite often, that the person is good at clicking with you but not good at doing the job, and you didn’t find that out because you actually didn’t look at information to just confirm your initial idea that this person would be good. So, the same thing with mergers and acquisitions, with hires, and any other business decisions, or personal life decisions. Don’t tend to make a lot of bad decisions if you look for information that confirms your beliefs or ignore information that doesn’t.

Peter Margaritis: [00:27:12] So, bad decisions with these mergers and acquisitions. I’ll use this example: United Airlines and Continental. Their merger, you bring in two cultures in that were very different from each other. And, usually, when you do that, there’s always some turmoil, and it’s big. So, when we’re making this decision to have this merger, we’re thinking more in the long term, it’ll be great, but we forget to look at the short-term aspect of it, or is it the fact that we know that there’s going to be a culture clash, we’ll work our way through it, and in hopes of when we come out of it, we’re going to be a better company. And I’m not quite sure if that last one really works that way because you’ve, now, damaged your reputation by the way you treated your passengers during this turbulent time. And passengers have a lot of choices to make. So, how does it equate to something like this?

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:28:11] So, what usually, happens with mergers and acquisitions, where they go wrong is that business leaders look at the products, at the strategy, and they don’t look at the people. They don’t look at how people will combine together. Like you said, culture clash is one of biggest reasons why mergers and acquisitions don’t work is culture clash. Number two biggest reasons is systems and processes that will-

Peter Margaritis: [00:28:36] [crosstalk].

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:28:37] That is absolutely true. You want to comment on that? I can go into that, but, yeah, go ahead. Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:28:41] No, I am sorry I laughed. I’m thinking of a company who had a lot of acquisitions, and the morale within the organization is completely destroyed because of systems and applications. But when you said that, I wasn’t expecting it. That’s why. That’s why I laughed.

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:29:00] The laugh means that you understand and you agree, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:29:03] Yeah.

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:29:04] So, the systems and processes. I mean, you gave an example of culture clash. Now, what tends to happen with culture clash is that because leaders don’t think for cultures and how they will combine, they just kind of go together randomly. They don’t have an single organized approach to what is going to be the culture of the new company, and the two cultures just end up clashing together, and not working together because each group wants to retain its own culture, what it’s comfortable with, it got used to it. That’s what their gut is about. They are comfortable with it.

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:29:35] That’s one of the problems with our gut reactions. And that goes back to the tribal environment. We tend to not want to change because in the ancestral environment, change was bad. Change meant really bad things. It was really going to be dangerous because we were living on the edge of survival. There was no way to stockpile resources for the future, and any change was likely to be a bad one. And so, we were really not wanting any changes. And so, in the current environment, when you’re used to a certain way of doing things – which is what it is a culture, it’s a certain way of doing things – you don’t want to change that. And so, if you don’t have a plan for how to combine the two cultures, you’re really going to kind of end up with a screwed-up system, as you mentioned with United. That’s one aspect of things.

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:30:23] The other aspect of things is systems and processes. And here’s the fascinating facts, one extensive, extensive research in behavioral economics and cognitive neuroscience, which is my area of background, that’s the research that informs my work, shows that internal systems and processes are much more important than business leaders who, actually, lead these companies merging. Internal systems and processes are a great source of competitive advantage and difference between the way that different companies do things. And they are the reasons that some companies succeed and others fail, not because of the people at the top because we tend to give way too much credit to individuals, not nearly enough the systems and processes.

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:31:07] So, if you don’t think through how the two systems and processes of your different companies will combine in a single system, a single process, you’ll end up, again, with two very different ways of doing things that people will bump into each other, they’ll clash, and they will not be able to figure things out. Now, the research shows that what you want to do with the systems and processes is to choose the one. It’s worse when you try to combine elements of both. You just want to choose one from one company or from the other and say, “We’re doing it this way from now on. We’re doing it this way from now on.”

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:31:41] Because the systems and processes, they’re are integrated together, and you, often, don’t see the ways that they integrate together, which is why you end up with bad consequences when you try to combine two different ones into a mishmash, a combined mishmash. So, that’s a bad idea. You want to choose one, and you want to say, “We’re going to go with that one, and we’re going to stick with it;” whereas, what most people tend to do when they merge companies is to try to do a mishmash of both systems and processes, and it just ends up being screwed up.

Peter Margaritis: [00:32:12] Exactly. So, for those of you who are listening and are in an accounting firm, as Gleb was speaking, it makes me think of current succession planning, and our profession is not growing the firm within. It’s buying other practices. So, think about this the next time that you’re considering buying a practice. Listen to his advice because it’s spot on about bringing two cultures that are already different, and trying to create a whole new culture, as well as the systems and processes. And if you’re CFO at an organization, and you’re going through a lot of mergers and acquisitions, make sure you use one system, not your system and let them have their systems, because there’s a few organizations that I know of that when that is done, the morale in the company, and especially in the accounting department, is just horrible. It’s not even bad. It’s just horrible.

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:33:08] Yeah, I can totally understand why that would be.

Peter Margaritis: [00:33:11] So, as we begin to wrap up, because I don’t want to give away too much of the book. I want people make sure they go and pick it up. As we wrap up, what would be the one big piece of advice that you would give somebody in this audience as it relates to how to avoid making bad decisions and creating a disaster?

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:33:33] Oh, it’s the five words that make up the book title: never go with your gut. Just simple. It’s as simple as that. Never go with your gut. Why is that? It’s a strong statement, never go with your gut. The thing is our gut tends to make really bad choices in our modern business environment. So, it’s important to see what your gut is telling you, but then always check that with your head. Never something go with your gut, never go with your gut intuitions. Check with your head when that happens. And my book describes specific, structured decision-making processes that you can use to check with your head.

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:34:09] Now, checking with your head, that’s a general piece of advice. It’s like a doctor telling you to lose weight, right. Not really going to be helpful if they don’t tell you how and here’s what you do to go for it. So, the book, that has extensive specific structured steps that you can go through, and that has everyday activity. So, things that take less than five minutes. Five questions that you could ask yourself when making a decision that helps you make a better decision. Then, a more complex eight-step model when you make a moderately important decision. So, say, which employee do you want to hire? And then, more complex, structured approach to major critical decisions that are embedded to the firm, like a merger and acquisition. You want to spend a lot of time deciding on that, like Peter said. So, that has a thorough approach and model. But the most general piece of advice is never go with your gut. Always check with your head.

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:00] I like how you say check with your head. Your gut might be telling you something, and you can’t ignore your gut on a lot of this, but you have to make sure that the facts marry up with what your emotions are telling you to make sure they’re in line versus, “I’m going to go with my gut, that emotion, and I’m not going to look at the facts, and check with my head.” And a lot of that had to do with Enron. It was great story, great emotion. And recently, with Theranos, great story. I really buy into it. I love that. And my emotions hijack my logic because I didn’t check the numbers. I didn’t validate the data. The two of them have to work together to make better decisions.

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:44] And Gleb, I appreciate you taking time. I’m looking forward to when the book comes out in November. This is a must-read for every business leader out there, so we can understand how our head and our emotions, make sure they’re in proper balance when we make these decisions, and make sure that we don’t lead into some type of disaster.

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:36:09] Absolutely, Peter. Yesm absolutely. I think that’s very wise. And thank you for suggesting that folks read my book. And those who want to learn more about me can check out Disaster Avoidance Experts, which is available, of course, on disasteravoidanceexperts.com. And my e-mail is there. It’s gleb@disasteravoidanceexpert.com. If you want to learn more about me, learn more about the book, talk about any of these topics that I brought up in the interview or others.

Peter Margaritis: [00:36:37] Thanks, Gleb, And enjoy this, hopefully, beautiful we can we have here in Columbus, Ohio.

Dr. Gleb Tsipursky: [00:36:42] I hope it stays beautiful. Thanks, Peter.

Peter Margaritis: [00:36:50] Now that you’ve listened to this episode, what will you do to make better decisions and avoid disasters? Will you try to keep your emotions in check and validate them with reliable data? Whatever you decide to do, make it a daily habit. Baby steps. It’s all about baby steps.

Peter Margaritis: [00:37:15] Thank you for listening. And if you’re enjoying this podcast, please subscribe and share this episode with a friend. Also, please visit wwww.c-suiteradio.com to listen to many of the excellent business podcasts they have in their network. Have a great week.

Announcer: [00:37:43] Like what you just heard? Because it’s c-suiteradio.com. C-Suite Radio: turning the volume up on business.

 

Resources:

S2E31 – Brian Wagner | A Radical Vision: Eliminate Your Blind Spots to Gain Clarity

My guest today is Brian Wagner, Founder and CEO of A Radical Vision, an organization with a powerful mission statement:

 

“It took a crippling disease for us to understand that we have no vision. Losing our sight allowed us to gain vision. That was the greatest gift that’s ever been given. We can’t hide from our adversity. Our goal is to help others recognize their adversity, go blind, and gain vision. This happened to us. And now, we want to help others have that same focus.”

 

A Radical Vision

 

When Brian was 10, he started to develop some health problems due to a cavernous malformation, which is a malformed blood vessel that can form anywhere in your body. Brian’s just happened to have formed in his brain stem.

 

So, as a result, Brian dealt with a variety of different issues throughout his life. Then, at the age of 43, it started to bleed, and bleed, and bleed. And when it bled, it put pressure on the nerves that control his vision, and he started to go blind. So Brian had to undergo a brain surgery in order to remove the cavernous malformation from his brain stem.

 

Brian still can’t see out of both eyes, but in other ways, he has more perspective and vision than ever before in his life.

 

What is a Blind Spot?

 

If you have learned to drive, you’re probably familiar with the driver’s blind spots. But Brian shares an amusing example of a simple physical blind spot that tickled me: when somebody comes out of the bathroom with toilet paper on their heel, that’s a blind spot. The point being that there are things that other people see that you don’t, and especially in business, those things can prevent you from improving or moving forward.

 

When a blindspot has something to do with an individual’s performance at work or leadership skills, for example, you can’t just look over your shoulder or look in your side mirrors to check your blind spot. You have to have someone else look at your blind spots and provide feedback because, most likely, you’re not going to be able to identify your blind spots on your own.

 

The Johari Window

 

 

Brian uses The Johari Window to help explain this concept. If you look at a picture of The Johari Window, you can see it is a simple 2×2 grid. The X-axis is labeled with “Known to self” and “Not known to self” and the Y-axis is labeled with “Known to others” and “Not known to others.” The intersection of what is not known to you but is known to others is your blindspot.

 

The whole idea of using this tool is to build self-awareness so that you can minimize your blindspots and maximize what you know about yourself. When you are able to do that, and when you are able to help everyone you work with do that, then you’re going to have a much more cohesive, productive, and efficient team.

 

This requires some tough conversations – and, critically, this requires encouraging people to solicit feedback – but it can make a world of difference in not just your productivity but also your overall satisfaction and fulfillment.

 

And an important thing to note about feedback is that it’s not only who you ask and how you ask, but also how you receive it. So, when you receive feedback, you need to make sure that you receive it as a gift. And every time you receive a gift, what do you say?

 

Thank you.

 

 

Transcript:

Click to download the full Transcript PDF.

 

Brian Wagner: [00:00:00] And you really don’t know what you’re passionate about. You don’t know what you’re good at. And nobody else does either. So, how do you get to a point where you actually do know? For that, it’s going to be a lot of trial and error.
Peter Margaritis: [00:00:22] Welcome to Change Your Mindset Podcast, formerly known as Improv is No Joke, where it’s all about believing that strong communication skills are the best way in delivering your technical accounting knowledge and growing your business. An effective way of building strong communication skills is by embracing the principles of applied improvisation.
Peter Margaritis: [00:00:43] Your host is Peter Margaritis, CPA, a.k.a. The Accidental Accountant. And he will interview financial professionals and business leaders to find their secret in building stronger relationships with their clients, customers, associates, and peers, all the while growing their businesses. So, let’s start the show.
Peter Margaritis: [00:01:10] Welcome to Episode 31. And my guest today is Brian Wagner, who’s the Founder and CEO of A Radical Vision. A Radical Vision’s mission statement is, “It took a crippling disease for us to understand that we have no vision. Losing our sight allowed us to gain vision. That was the greatest gift that’s ever been given. We can’t hide from our adversity. Our goal is to help others recognize their adversity, go blind, and gain vision. This happened to us. And now, we want to help others have that same focus.
Peter Margaritis: [00:01:45] In this episode, you’ll learn how Brian overcame the adversity of losing his sight in his right eye, how he embraces his uniqueness, and how he is helping business professionals to become aware of their blind spots so they can become more effective leaders. This is a very inspirational interview, and I hope you begin to think about your blind spots and how you can eliminate them in order to gain clarity.
Peter Margaritis: [00:02:12] Before we get to the interview. Change Your Mindset is part of the C-Suite Radio family of podcasts. It is an honor and a privilege to be amongst some of the more popular business podcasts, such as the Hero Factor with
Jeffrey Hazlitt, Amazing Business Radio was Shep Hyken, and Keep Leading with my good friend, Eddie Turner. You can find Change Your Mindset and many other outstanding business podcasts on C-Suite Radio by going to www.c-suiteradio.com.
Announcer: [00:02:42] This podcast is part of the C-Suite Radio Network. Turning the volume up on business.
Peter Margaritis: [00:02:47] And now, a quick word from our sponsor.
Sponsor: [00:02:52] This episode is sponsored by Peter A. Margaritis LLC a.k.a. The Accidental Accountant. Are you looking for a high content and engaging speaker for your next conference? Do you want to deliver a story to stakeholders that will transform data dumping to engaging business conversations? Do you want to feel that the value a speaker provides your audience far exceeds the dollar value on their invoice? Then, book Peter for your next conference, management retreat, or workshop. Contact Peter at peter@petermargaritis.com and visit his website at www.petermargaritis.com. By the way, one of his Fortune 50 clients actually made the comment about the value he brings to your audience.
Peter Margaritis: [00:03:39] Now, let’s get to the interview with Brian Wagner.
Peter Margaritis: [00:03:49] Hey, everybody. Welcome back. I’m excited today to have my guest, fellow NSA Ohio member, and that’s the NSA that speaks, not the ones that listen, Brian Wagner. And Brian has such a unique story. And I’ve heard it, but I don’t know it all, and I’m looking forward to learning more. But first and foremost, Brian, thank you for taking your time out of your busy schedule on this Friday afternoon at 11:00 a.m. Welcome, my friend.
Brian Wagner: [00:04:16] Absolutely. Thank you for having me, Peter.
Peter Margaritis: [00:04:19] Brian, I can’t do justice on giving your background. Some folks I’ve had on the podcast, I’ve known that I could probably give a decent job on describing or telling us a little about the background, but I think you can only give your
background the best. So, could you give the audience a little bit about yourself and your uniqueness?
Brian Wagner: [00:04:39] My uniqueness. So, 10 years ago — well, actually, when I was 10 years old, and I’m 51, almost 52 now, I started to have some problems with my brain, and my drainage of fluid from my brain. And, really, there was a long history of different issues that went on over the course of my life. And at the age of 43, which would have been about eight years ago, I had a problem with my brain, and it’s a cavernous malformation. So, a cavernous malformation is a malformed blood vessel that can form anywhere in your body. Mine just happened to have formed in my brain stem.
Brian Wagner: [00:05:23] And I’ve known about it for a while, but it did, and it bled. And when it bled, it put pressure on the nerves that control my vision. And as a result of that, I had to have surgery -a brain surgery – in order to remove the cavernous malformation from my brain stem. So, they actually went in in the back of my neck, and with an MRI-guided tool, and they actually picked that out of my brain stem. So, this is something that they told me for a long time, “Don’t ever let someone operate on your brain stem,” but it got to a point where the problems were only going to become worse and more frequent. So, that was what happened.
Brian Wagner: [00:06:07] And before that, I had gone blind. That was why the problem’s growing, and it had become worse and more frequent. Well, that was one of the resulting factors is that I’d become blind. Both of my eyelids would not open unless I lift them with a finger. Both of my eyeballs don’t go together, and they still don’t go together to this day. So, my one eyelid is still down. And, actually, it’s not a bad thing because it helped me from seeing too much double. I still see a little double out of my right eye, but my left eye is open for the most part, not as open as most people’s, but it’s good enough for me to be able to drive.
Brian Wagner: [00:06:48] So, that was eight years ago. I had that surgery. I’ve had multiple other eye surgeries since then. And have just come to a point where about 2-1/2 – 3 three years ago, I knew that — well, I knew this six years ago that my reason
for going through this was not that I should just have this condition and deal with it, but if I could get through this eight years ago when I had surgery, if I can get through this, I want to be able to have the ability to help other people that are going through their struggles as well. So, that’s what I’m doing. That’s why I’m doing what I’m doing.
Peter Margaritis: [00:07:30] So, let’s back up just a little bit more. I know that before you got into the speaking business, and I assume that these issues you were having because you were an IT salesman for a while, weren’t you, my friend?
Brian Wagner: [00:07:44] I worked for IBM for about 10 years. And then, for a number of other years, selling IBM products. So, that was what I did. And, yeah, I loved doing it. I felt very good about it. And that was who I was. I mean, that was my identity.
Peter Margaritis: [00:08:00] So, what was the point that you said — well, was it at the surgery or after the surgeries that you said, “That was my identity before, but I need to transform into this new identity, or embrace this new, or I want to go out, and that passion was so great that I want to go out and share this story to help other people”?
Brian Wagner: [00:08:22] Yeah. So, that took a long time. I mean, really, when I was going through the blindness, first six months, that’s when I knew that if I could get through this, I wanted to be able to help other people, but I really continued to drive because I wanted to have a source of income, which is important, I think.
Peter Margaritis: [00:08:44] Or you’ll lose your wife.
Brian Wagner: [00:08:46] Yeah. So, going through that, I wanted to be able to provide the income, and I really was passionate about that, but it just didn’t seem to work out as well. So, I went from job, to job, job. And I had some other people that I was relying on for coaching, and they told me never to quit my day jobs. So, I didn’t quit my day job until that last one where my day job quit me. And then, I knew that it was my time just to be able to do this speaking business. So, that’s where I’ve been ever since is all about building my speaking business. Now, there have been some other people that have
come into my life that have helped me to give me a day job. So, I have a little — I have some good income from that, but that’s not in IT sales.
Peter Margaritis: [00:09:44] No, that’s not. But it’s an interesting path. And it’s funny that you said that you had this, but it took your company to quit you before you make that move versus when you would quit a company, which I had a media flashback to when I was downsized, right-sized, re-engineered, laid off, or fired – I’m not quite sure which one it was – with Victoria’s Secret catalog.
Peter Margaritis: [00:10:07] I remember that feeling that I had. And I said, “You know what, someday, I’m not going let anybody have that opportunity to do that again,” because I’d never been fired before, but it left such a scar that it took a few years, maybe five years, after that until I went forth. It was actually 10 years after before I took the business full time, but that just resonated at the back of my head about that. And it’s like, “No, they don’t quit me. I’m not going to put myself in that risk position again for a longer period time.” And that’s how I took my part-time job took over my full-time job.
Brian Wagner: [00:10:45] Yes. Well, that’s awesome.
Peter Margaritis: [00:10:45] So, you talk about we all have blind spots, those things that deal — little things that we can’t see that or were unaware of. And what’s — when you’re out to talk to the audience, I would assume they all recognize that they have these blind spots, or is it just an aha moment for them?
Brian Wagner: [00:11:09] Not all of it. Most people identify, and they agree. They shake their heads and say, “Yeah, we all have blindness. We all have blind spots.” But when you ask them to identify their own or to talk about their own, then it’s a different story. They’re more apt to understand and be able to relate to you when they talk about other people’s blind spots. So, that’s easier for them to have a conversation.
Brian Wagner: [00:11:36] So, we have that conversation. Talk about one of the — a simple blind spot be somebody that’s just come from the bathroom, and they’ve got toilet paper on their heel, and they’re walking down the hallway. It’s not a big deal. Well,
that’s a blind spot. I mean, that’s a different kind of blind. That’s a physical one, but that shows them. And so, there are things that other people see that they don’t. And that’s essentially your blind spot. Your blind spot is anything that’s preventing you from doing something better, different, or worse, preventing you from moving ahead.
Brian Wagner: [00:12:16] And in a physical sense, it could be your blind spot on your car is where you’re over your back right shoulder. You don’t see through those blind spots through your mirrors. You have to actually physically look back there. So, with your blind spot, from a mental perspective, you have to physically have someone else look at your blind spots and have someone else tell you what your blind spot are because you’re not going to be able to — most likely, you’re not going to be able to identify your own blind spot on your own, or they won’t be considered blind spots.
Peter Margaritis: [00:12:49] Okay. So, remind me, we had this conversation a few months ago. And what was the principle? The Kobayashi? I know I’m butchering it but, hopefully, that juggles your memory.
Brian Wagner: [00:13:03] Oh, the Johari window.
Peter Margaritis: [00:13:04] Yeah, yeah. Kobayashi, Johari, yeah.
Brian Wagner: [00:13:06] Yeah, [crosstalk].
Peter Margaritis: [00:13:06] Yeah.
Brian Wagner: [00:13:06] Yeah, I knew it. It took me a little while, but yeah. So, the Johari window. If you think of a window with four separate panes, four different quadrants, in the upper right-hand corner of that window — and so, if you were to think of it in this way, along the bottom of the window, you can write the words, “Things I don’t see,” and “Things I do see.” And then, along the right-hand part of the window, write, “Things that other people see,” and “Things that other people don’t see.”.
Brian Wagner: [00:13:46] So, the corresponding quadrants to those will be in your upper right-hand quadrant, it’s going to be things that you see and that other people see. So, when I say things, you could think of characteristics, you could think of incentives, you could think of emotions, you could think of other areas of your life where you are setting off, you’re creating this energy in the world. It’s this work force. It’s whatever energy is out there. So, that is what that upper right-hand quadrant is. And all the quadrants will have in them are these different characteristics. So, upper right-hand quadrant is things that you see and things that other people see as well. So, that’s upper right.
Brian Wagner: [00:14:36] If you go to the upper-left quadrant, you’re going to have things that you don’t see but other people do see. That’s your blind spot. So, again, same characteristics could apply to that from an energy perspective, emotions, what you’re what you’re putting out in the world.
Brian Wagner: [00:15:01] Then, in your lower right-hand quadrant, you’re going to have things that you see but other people don’t, or things that you know that other people don’t. So, for example, you may know that you have a degree in accounting, but no one else knows that, or you may know that you have certain things going on in your life with a parent that’s sick, and they’re not doing well. But from a team perspective, if other people on your team were to know that this was going on in your life, it would make that team be more cohesive. It would make that team have more empathy for what it is you’re going through. It just would make your life much easier as a leader and as a team member. So, that’s really the hidden area is that lower right-hand quadrant.
Brian Wagner: [00:15:51] And then, in the lower left-hand quadrant, it is the unknown area. It’s where you have things and — things. You could take different items that you know that — I’m sorry, that you don’t know and that other people don’t know. Things that you don’t know and other people don’t know. So, that could be something like you’re coming out of college or high school, and you really don’t know what you’re passionate about. You don’t know what you’re good at. And nobody else does either. So, how you get to a point where you actually do know? For that, there’s going to be a lot of trial and error. You’ve got to be able to set yourself up in a position where you can do different
things in the world, and see how they go, and then pivot when they do or don’t work. So, that’s an important part to be able to make.
Brian Wagner: [00:16:45] The whole idea of the window, it’s to build self-awareness. And when you build self-awareness, you are going to make your open area bigger. That’s that upper right-hand quadrant that we talked about earlier where you have what you know and what other people know about you. So, the more they know and the more you know about you, the bigger your upper right-hand quadrant is going to be. That’s the open area. And you want to make your blind spot area, off to the left, you want to make that as small as possible. And then, of course, the same thing with the hidden area, down here on the bottom right.
Brian Wagner: [00:17:22] Once you do that, once you make your open area as large as possible, then you’re going to have a much more cohesive team, you’re going to have a much more productive team, and you’re going to have a much more efficient team. All those things are really going to add up to something that’s much more than what you have today.
Peter Margaritis: [00:17:42] To me, when I hear what you just described, and then you said self-awareness, which makes me think of emotional intelligence, in order to get to that nirvana, we have to be vulnerable.
Brian Wagner: [00:17:56] Right. And that really, mostly, I mean, can apply to the other areas as well. But it mostly applies to how you can make your open area larger and make your hidden area smaller. So, that’s the one directly below it where you have things that you know but other people don’t know. So, how do you — and being vulnerable is one of those ways that you will be able to do that. You’ll be able to make that hidden area smaller. So, as you’re vulnerable, you’re going to be able to help them, share with them what’s going on. And it’s going to make that team work so much better, and the leaders are going to be much more a part of the team as opposed to the person that’s dragging the team.
Peter Margaritis: [00:18:42] But it’s still hard for people to do that. It’s so hard for them to say — one, some people just don’t like to share because the philosophy, leave your work life at home. This is business, business, business. But that’s kind of an old school mentality anymore. And it is different personalities that come into play. And that’s hard to get somebody just to be more open and more vulnerable when they’re not accustomed to it because, now, you get the whole risk factor and fear factor there.
Brian Wagner: [00:19:09] Yeah, yeah. And, really, from the perspective of the Johari window, it is exactly to do just that. It’s to create that self-awareness. So, it’s something that the person or the team can have and show them, “Okay, So, I’m looking at my vulnerability factor or my hidden area, and seeing how large it is, and I can compare that to Peter’s hidden area, and I see all Peter’s hidden area is so much smaller because his open area is so much larger than mine.” And I think of what that means to me. And in my head, that means that I need to do a better job. And it’s going to stick with me for the next six months to a year. And I’m going to be able to be more intentional about making that hidden area smaller.
Peter Margaritis: [00:20:01] Yes. And when I think within a team, if the leader of the team doesn’t do it, and you try to share and become more vulnerable, they might shoot you down for that because that’s not in the wheelhouse, per se. And I think, the number of times that I’ve done the creativity workshop at a CPA firm, and I’ve asked the partner to say something, give an idea that’s just off the wall crazy, just bizarre, and they won’t do it because they don’t want to have that appearance of that. So, they don’t want to even show any vulnerability. And then, I usually ask them to leave because nobody else is going to do it if he won’t do it or she won’t do it. If the leader will do it, then I look for everybody else to follow them. So, I usually ask them to leave, and make sure the check still clears please.
Peter Margaritis: [00:20:59] I mean, that is — so, the blind spot. So, how do you — it sounds like if you want have a great team, we need to tell the other teammates where their blind spot or the blind spot that they don’t know, or they don’t see. That’s a tough conversation.
Brian Wagner: [00:21:18] That’s a tough conversation. It is. And so, when you do that, you need to solicit feedback, and you need to make sure that when you solicit feedback that you pick the appropriate person for the feedback. It’s probably not going to be your wife. It’s probably not going to be your son. It’s probably not going to be even your teammates. It’s going to be somebody outside of that but still someone that you would put in your trusted circle. And you want to make sure that you’re reaching out to those people for that feedback, and you’re pinpointing, “Here’s the kind of feedback that I’m looking for. Here’s the area that I want you to concentrate on. Here is what I want you to listen in for as you hear me speak and as you hear me work with other people in my team.”
Brian Wagner: [00:22:05] But what’s important about feedback is not only who you ask and how you ask, but it’s how you receive it. So, when you receive feedback, you need to make sure that you receive it as a gift. And every time you receive a gift, what do you say?
Peter Margaritis: [00:22:22] Thank you.
Brian Wagner: [00:22:23] Exactly. So, that’s how you need to receive feedback. That’s going to determine how you receive the feedback in the future and if you receive any.
Peter Margaritis: [00:22:32] So, as I said thank you, I’ve thought of some people who receive a gift, who’d also want to see, “Do you have the receipt because I want to take this back?”
Brian Wagner: [00:22:39] There is another option.
Peter Margaritis: [00:22:46] But when you say it’s a gift, and accept these gifts, I will bring it into the improv world, that’s a lot what the improv is about. What’s given to you, accept it as a gift, and you move forward with it. And a lot of people, when they ask for feedback, and when you give it to them, they can become defensive. Especially when you’re doing it right. Like you said, you make sure that you put parameters around that, but as you provide that feedback, they get extremely defensive. It’s like, “Wait. No,
you’ve asked for this feedback. This is time for you to not be defensive and just, ‘Okay, let me listen. Let me accept that. I don’t have to take it or not, but I’ve asked for it. So, just shut up and listen.'”
Brian Wagner: [00:23:28] Yeah, you’re right.
Peter Margaritis: [00:23:33] Don’t get in defensive.
Brian Wagner: [00:23:36] Yeah. And that’s, again, indicative of the leader you’re going to have. If they’re going to be defensive, well when they get feedback that they’ve specifically asked for, that’s unfortunate. And so, there’s other issues there at play that you need to work through or that leader needs to work through.
Peter Margaritis: [00:23:56] So, how do you convince a leader that they need to embrace this type of leadership style? Somebody who’s been out, who’s been a leader, or I’ll just say an assumed leader because they have the title, and title doesn’t always mean leadership, that they need to change or begin to mold their leadership style in a different way? And there’s a half dozen people that I know that their boss were sent to coaching in order to do this, but they didn’t have the DNA to change.
Brian Wagner: [00:24:29] Well, I mean, I would go to one area in particular, and I would just say, “Are you getting what you want from your team? Are you getting what you want from the company? Are you ecstatic? Are you happy? Are you delighted with everything?” And if they are, that’s one thing. I mean, if you’re satisfied as a leader, I don’t know many of the leaders that are ever satisfied. They’re not ever at a point where they can sit back, and sit on their laurels, and think that they’ve got everything taken care. This is as good as it gets. They’re always looking for ways to improve. So, that is the sign to me. One of the signs of a great leader is somebody that’s always looking to improve.
Peter Margaritis: [00:25:21] Yeah. It made me think of a few leaders who they want to still do it the way that it’s always been, and there’s no room for improvement because this worked in the past. Well, this isn’t the past. This is the present and the future. And
the world has changed. And it’s that inability to recognize it and move forward. So, when I think of those folks, I think they’ve got one huge blind spot that I’m not sure they will ever get past.
Brian Wagner: [00:25:50] Right, right. And there are lots of other tools that are available, I mean, beyond the Johari window. I mean, that’s just one tool that I use. And it’s easier to talk about. There’s other tools out there that can help leaders to identify that there is something missing, that there’s something that they’re not seeing. So, I go back to the vision perspective all the time, perspective, vision, sight. I think of all those things that if they’re not seeing, then they need to be able to see them. And if they can’t see them, think about what that would mean. Think about what that would mean to where they are. Think about what that would mean to their future.
Brian Wagner: [00:26:38] So, some of the tools are from a doctor named Tasha Eurich. She has a book called Insight. And that book has helped me to be able to understand that there are a lot of other tools out there that can help a leader identify what may be holding them back or maybe, at least, identify that something is holding them back, that there is more to life, and that there is more to their job. All those things that can help them go beyond where they’ve gone today.
Peter Margaritis: [00:27:10] What was the name of the book again?
Brian Wagner: [00:27:13] The name of the book is Insight by Dr. Tasha Eurich.
Peter Margaritis: [00:27:17] We’ll make sure we put that in our show notes. So, if anybody wants to go out and pick up that book on Amazon because, I think, when we’re done here, I will be picking up that book on Amazon because I love reading stuff. Like I look at leaders, and I look at the process, and that’s what’s missing a lot of times because just because you go to a leadership seminar doesn’t make you a leader, if they forget the process that they need to go through. And to your point, leadership needs to be worked on every single day. It’s not something that’s — it could be ingrained in most of us or some of us, but it always still takes work to maintain that.
Brian Wagner: [00:27:53] No, it’s not like a screwdriver that can use it once, and then put it in the drawer, and then it gets good until you pull it out again. And the screw, you’re screwed. I don’t know if I get to say it that way.
Peter Margaritis: [00:28:07] Well, you can because I’m-
Brian Wagner: [00:28:08] This is a good show.
Peter Margaritis: [00:28:08] I am going to make sure they don’t cut that out because you are. If you take this screwdriver as your leadership, and you can pull it out whenever that you need it versus you need it all the time because there’s so much involved in being that leader. I don’t know. And I’ve got a couple of friends who are deep in corporate America, and they are just absolutely frustrated. I guess, we are — I’m getting to that age, and a lot of my friends are talking about retirement, and they’re going, “I can’t leave. I hate it here. It’s a miserable environment. However, I have to put up with it because I want my retirement, and I get so many years to go.” And I’ve got a couple of friends who I worry about their health. I mean, they’re so twisted inside and outside, upside and downside. Is that really worth it? Apparently, it’s okay to have that leadership style within the organization, and it’s really just killing their people.
Brian Wagner: [00:29:20] Yeah, yeah. Oh, that’s awful. I mean, if they have that screwdriver-first perspective, and they put that screwdriver their back way, I mean they are screwed. So, they need to — I don’t know.
Peter Margaritis: [00:29:35] If you think about leadership, and I don’t remember, I did see this stat, and it was in a reputable periodical. I just don’t remember which one. But there was a stat that said 59% of employees trust a stranger more than their own boss or manager. That’s scary.
Brian Wagner: [00:29:59] Yeah. Oh, yeah because they’re worried about them trying to influence them or trying to persuade them in another way. Just they think they have bad intentions.
Peter Margaritis: [00:30:14] Because from that perspective, it’s not about the people that are working with me. It’s about me and about my agenda versus about the audience’s agenda. And I think that’s something that that I have learned in my time at National Speakers Association. It really shouldn’t be about me. It should be about my audience, and where do they need to go, and I need to know them, and try to take them down this path versus, “No, it’s about me. And I think these people need what I have. I think they need — I’m not going to ask because I’m sure this is exactly what they need.” And it’s not a two-way street.
Brian Wagner: [00:30:56] Right, right.
Peter Margaritis: [00:30:58] So, tell us more about this whole blind spot. When you’re out talking to organizations, what else do you discuss with them?
Brian Wagner: [00:31:08] Well, one of the other areas we discuss is their uniqueness. So, uniqueness is one of those things where you can identify it, and then you’ll be able to utilize it in a way that’s going to be different than what you’ve done, ever done before. But that uniqueness in the blind spot really doesn’t — and blind spot isn’t always a bad thing. So, there’s lots of blind spots where I’ve seen people that have helped students that they don’t even realize what they’re doing for those students, but they’re helping them. They’re doing a great service by spending time with them, by encouraging them, by just being their friend. All of those things are helping that student an awful lot. So, the blind spot is one of those things that can be a positive. And that’s one of the areas that we talk about is the blind spots and how they can be something other than just a negative, but-
Peter Margaritis: [00:32:14] Does it — well, you said the word uniqueness. This is another way of saying our quirkiness?
Brian Wagner: [00:32:20] Yeah, I actually call it weird, but I don’t think that comes off as well. I don’t think people appreciate me saying weird. So, I say uniqueness or quirkiness. Yeah.
Peter Margaritis: [00:32:33] I prefer a weird, by the way, but we all have our own weirdness, our own quirkiness. And I guess, your point was the more that we can embrace that, instead of kind of repel it.
Brian Wagner: [00:32:49] Yeah, absolutely. So, I do different things with audiences where I have pictures that I may have taken with them. I do selfies. So, it’s me and the other person. And i encourage them to wink. Actually, I make them wink. And so, they’re winking with me. And I tell them that it’s a lot easier for me to wink than it is for them just because of my quirkiness and my, I call it, weirdness, but what makes me unique is my face, for one, but really beyond that, it’s how I handle my face, and how I’m embracing what makes me different, and how I embrace what makes me different makes me different more, if that makes sense.
Peter Margaritis: [00:33:34] You’ve really embraced the winking with Wagner mantra. And I don’t remember when — this started within this past 12 months, I believe, or it exploded within this past 12 months because, I think, everywhere you go, it doesn’t matter, you’ll grab somebody, you’ll talk to them, and you’ll take a selfie, and you’ll post it. And I’m going, “He’s talking there. It is so cool, winking with Wagner.” And I will be — full disclosure, one NSA chapter members, board members, she kind of have dubbed you the nickname “Brian, the Wink.”
Brian Wagner: [00:34:09] And I’m okay with that.
Peter Margaritis: [00:34:14] And when you first joined the chapter, I mean, you really caught everybody off guard because you introduce yourself like you did the very first time at our chapter meeting.
Brian Wagner: [00:34:23] Well, maybe one of the first. I’m not sure what I exactly said, but, I mean, there’s lots of different ways to spell your name. I mean, there’s Peter and there’s Pete. But there’s no really mistaking how to spell my name. My name is Brian, and that’s with one I.
Peter Margaritis: [00:34:44] I still laugh.
Brian Wagner: [00:34:44] Now, if people don’t have a picture of me, and they can’t see me, they don’t appreciate that. But if they do, then they will.
Peter Margaritis: [00:34:52] Well, when we post this on social media, I’ll make sure that you send me your headshot, so they can see that, but yeah. But the funny thing was we had another guy in the class, and I guess he said, “My name was Brian with two Is.”
Brian Wagner: [00:35:08] Exactly.
Peter Margaritis: [00:35:10] But it was that that, I think, you told everybody in that room, “I’m okay with it. This is who I am.” And what a great sense humor with it that, “Which Brian are we talking about?” And the head would tilt, or the guy with one eye. And it’s such a refreshing way to go about things. It’s been so cool out to watch you do this, and how you’ve captured people’s imaginations in so many different ways just by — and the time that Kay Francis, and Dave Caperton, and you, me, and a few of the people were having dynamic dialogue. And I think you asked something about the link. And that just exploded into something even more. And in the coming weeks, I mean, I’m sorry, I think about you, which I see people winking at me.
Brian Wagner: [00:36:09] Well, that’s kind of scary.
Peter Margaritis: [00:36:11] Well, “How are you doing?” “I’m good.”
Brian Wagner: [00:36:13] I’m sorry, yeah.
Peter Margaritis: [00:36:13] Yeah, that’s it. Wow, but that goes to that uniqueness about you, but that uniqueness is contagious.
Brian Wagner: [00:36:22] Yeah. Yeah, I hope so.
Peter Margaritis: [00:36:25] Well, I believe it that people — well, if you can get strangers to take a selfie with you, it’s contagious and smile at the same time.
Brian Wagner: [00:36:38] They smile big, usually.
Peter Margaritis: [00:36:39] Yeah, they do.
Brian Wagner: [00:36:41] I’ve been to some campuses where I’ve had them taken ad the people are just having a great time with it. So, it’s worked out well.
Peter Margaritis: [00:36:50] But you’re also planting that seed because you’re not doing the Winking with Wagner before the conference. You’re doing the Winking with Wagner after you’ve given them your message. So, I think, by taking that selfie, you’re also planting seed ahead, or you’re reminding them about the uniqueness, reminding them about the blind spot.
Brian Wagner: [00:37:09] Yeah. So, the conferences, actually, where I go beforehand, and I’ll go to a pre-conference dinner or something like that with the board. And I will do some Winking with Wagner photos there. And then, I’ll upload those photos into the presentation. And then, when I give the presentation as part of the program, then I’ll pull those photos out, and I’ll show them the entire crowd. So, the entire crowd can see what the board is up to, and how they’re having fun. And maybe it encourages them to get on the board or do other things on the board or with the board. But then, I encourage them to come and wink with me. I wink with them, they’re in the audience, or I wink with them outside of the room after the program is over.
Peter Margaritis: [00:37:53] That’s great. And now that you going to be in this new leadership position at our chapter as Vice president, on your way to be President, I’d be interested in how you going to get our audience more engaged and get them with the Winking with Wagner. I look forward to watching you do that, especially with the new people coming to the chapter.
Brian Wagner: [00:38:13] Yeah. Oh, yeah. It’ll be a lot of fun. I’m hoping to continue to do what I’ve done in the past with the membership role, and in trying to increase our membership, and to make it more beneficial to all of the people that are there. So, to
have them embrace their own uniqueness, that’s what we want to do here. It doesn’t matter if you have a permanent wink or if you have one leg shorter than the other. It doesn’t matter to me.
Peter Margaritis: [00:38:40] Yeah, it doesn’t, but it’s amazing that in some places, it’s frowned upon, or you’re not supposed to be unique. You’re supposed to wear the khaki pants, the blue polo, and everybody look alike. And I’ve never subscribed to that. I remember the first time, I was working at Pricewaterhouse, I walked in one day. It wasn’t a blue suit. It wasn’t a red tie. I wore black suit, white shirt, with a tie. And everybody asked me, “Are you going to a funeral today?” And I went, “No.” And they go, “Well, why are you wearing black?” “Because it’s the fashionable color I like to wear.” And they looked at me like, “You’re nuts.”
Brian Wagner: [00:39:20] That’s something.
Peter Margaritis: [00:39:24] It is something. It, really, is something. So, as a parting remark, what advice would you give those who are listening about (1), embracing their uniqueness; and (2), receiving feedback?
Brian Wagner: [00:39:42] Embracing. From embracing their uniqueness, one piece of advice that I would give is to smile even when they don’t feel like it. That may sound like a strange recommendation for people there that are trying to embrace their own uniqueness, but if they can smile, and think about them, and their lives, and what makes them up, what makes them who they are, they’re going to smile. And they’re going to think about that. Whether they smile physically on their face or in their mind, that’s going to allow them to be able to embrace their uniqueness. And it’s going to help them anyway to embrace their uniqueness. So, that’s one thing.
Brian Wagner: [00:40:25] The next thing you mentioned was in terms of in terms of feedback, and soliciting feedback, or getting feedback. That’s a really difficult question to answer because it is certainly depends on the person that’s going through that, but I would suggest, and I’m not asking for you to pay me by any means, but I’m suggesting that if you go to someone for feedback that it’d may be someone really outside of your
friend circle, outside of your family circle. So, it may be someone within your circle, but they know you well enough to give you good feedback. If you can’t do that, you need to pay someone. You need to pay someone to give you feedback. And that is really what’s going to set you apart because the feedback you get from that person that you pay, it’s going to be honest and, hopefully, not brutally honest. Hopefully, they don’t knock you down, but, hopefully, they give you feedback that can be constructive.
Peter Margaritis: [00:41:31] So, two thoughts here. And I like the smile. And I love it. When we smile, that’s more openness, more embracing, but there’s times that we don’t think we can smile. I was in New York working with a company, they put us through this training program and had this actor come in. And it was working with breathing exercises and stuff. And then, we were supposed to do a three-minute presentation on the first person we ever kissed.
Peter Margaritis: [00:42:00] And this one woman comes out, and she’s telling the story, but she got this scowl on our face. And he stopped the class. He said, “Remember, Janet, you need to smile.” She goes, “I am.” “Okay, start over, come back in.” She comes back in, and start, and she still has a scowl on her face. And he said, “Followed me.” And he takes her out of the conference room. We can all see. He whispers something in her ear. She comes back, and starts the story, and she had this humongous smile on her face.
Peter Margaritis: [00:42:29] It blew us all away. We went, “What the heck did you say to her?” And the actor, his name was Craig Rowe, and he’d done some Law & Order stuff, and he said, “All I told her is to say these words in her head – I love you. But in a Southern accent. I love you. I love you.” But when you say those words inside your head in the southern accent, you will smile. And that was the best piece of advice because when I know that I need a smile, I know I’m feel like “I love you.” It sounds more like Bill Clinton going, “I love you,” but it’s not that southern accent.
Peter Margaritis: [00:43:13] And soliciting feedback, I think you have to understand who the person is and their ability to receive feedback. Judy Carter was one of my coaches for a while. And she said, “How would you like feedback?” And I said, “Right
between the eyes.” I said, “Don’t sugarcoat. I don’t like it when people sugarcoat. Just tell me the truth.” She goes, “Are you sure?” I said, “Yeah.” And first time she gave me feedback after she was done, and she gave it to me between the eyes. I mean my hair is blowing back and everything. She goes, “Are you okay?” I said, “That’s what I wanted to hear. Thank you very much.” She goes, “You’re weird.” I said, “Thank you.” Even to a point because most people, even when they ask for it, they take it personal. If you ask for it, then let them tell you. And then, you can decide, but don’t get defensive.
Brian Wagner: [00:44:02] Right, exactly. That’s what it’s all about.
Peter Margaritis: [00:44:05] To me, people get defensive. Well, Brian, with one I, I think about it, I think about you when I say that, and it just makes me laugh, but not at you, but kind of with you in this whole uniqueness aspect of it. And I’m so glad that you’re able to spend some time on the podcast. I’m looking forward to knowing you even more so these next two or three years as you begin to lead the chapter. It’s been great getting to know you, and I love the attitude, I love the perspective, and keep putting up the good fight, my friend. You’re doing one hell of a job.
Brian Wagner: [00:44:46] Thanks, man. I appreciate it. And if I’d leave you with one comment, I’m not sure if we’re doing the one comment yet or not.
Peter Margaritis: [00:44:53] Sure.
Brian Wagner: [00:44:54] My one comment is to just keep one eye on the road.
Peter Margaritis: [00:45:02] Oh. You did say earlier in the presentation, you said something about one eye. And then, I’m going, “What?” But, yeah, keep one eye on the road, everybody. Just, at least, one eye. Two if you can, but-
Brian Wagner: [00:45:16] Right, yeah.
Peter Margaritis: [00:45:17] You got another one?
Brian Wagner: [00:45:19] Well, there’s lots of them, but that’s good for now.
Peter Margaritis: [00:45:21] That’s good for now.
Brian Wagner: [00:45:23] I don’t want to inundate you.
Peter Margaritis: [00:45:27] All right, man. I greatly appreciate it. I’ll see you tomorrow at tomorrow’s meeting.
Brian Wagner: [00:45:31] Right. Sounds good. Thanks.
Peter Margaritis: [00:45:31] Bye bud.
Peter Margaritis: [00:45:38] Now that you’ve listened to this episode, what will you do to discover your blind spots? What steps will you take to change your mindset and eliminate your blind spots to gain clarity? What risks are you willing to accept in order to be prepared for tomorrow, all the while knowing that, in order to enact change, it takes baby steps?
Peter Margaritis: [00:46:04] Thank you for listening. And if you’re enjoying this podcast, please subscribe and share this episode with a friend. And also, remember, please visit c-suiteradio.com to listen to many of the excellent business podcast that they have in their network. Have a great week.
Announcer: [00:46:25] Like what you just heard? Because it’s c-suiteradio.com. C-Suite Radio, turning the volume up on business.

 

Resources:

S2E30 – Robin Thieme | Creating a Virtual, Outsourced CFO Solution

My guest today is Robin Thieme, the Founder of KBS CFO, which is an outsourced CFO and accounting department solution for growing sustainable and profitable businesses. She has over 30 years of financial and accounting experience, a passion for the efficiencies that new technologies enable, and a dedication to small businesses.

 

One of the things that really impresses me about Robin and KBS is that she was creating a virtual organization long before cloud computing was a mainstream term – and she takes the same innovative and thoughtful approach to establishing efficiencies and solutions that fit the current business environment for her clients.

 

The old mindset – although many still use it – is that having a CFO is too much money for a small- to medium-sized business. As it turns out, Robin says, small businesses have some pretty big problems or big decisions, too! And they may not need a full-time CFO, but they do still need someone to help guide them financially. “We’re really meeting a need of businesses that are struggling to run their businesses; they love what they do, and are really good at it, but just need some help on the back end.”

 

An Anticipatory CPA & Organization

You know Robin is a member of the Maryland Association of CPAs because she describes herself as an “anticipatory CPA” – something we’ve talked about in past episodes with Bill Sheridan, as well as other guests.

 

Robin defines an anticipatory CPA as “one who is looking out towards the future, anticipating trends, and is really focused on what’s going to happen next, instead of being a historian for our clients… And, ultimately, when you think about it, from its most basic elements, a successful business should always be thinking about where they’re going and not where they’ve been. So, I live in that world,” and we should all be living in this world.

 

Everywhere in the accounting and finance profession, and really almost any profession, people are having conversations about change; changing demographics, changing technologies, changing societal expectations, etc. And, especially when it comes to technology, our profession tends to see this change as a threat – but that’s just our fear of the unknown talking.

 

Robin compares this to autonomous vehicles, something that still feels futuristic and foreign to many of us, although there are already autonomous vehicles driving on our roads. Robin envisions a future where not only do autonomous vehicles become popular, but it might even become illegal for humans to drive because it will be a safety risk.

 

And you know what? That change doesn’t hurt our ability to commute or get places – it gives us more time! The same thing is true for the technologies that are going to transform the way we do work in our profession, although the transition might be difficult to wrap our heads around.

 

So, what will you do to become more future-ready? What steps will you take to change your mindset and get out of your comfort zone? What risks are you willing to accept in order to be prepared for tomorrow – all the while knowing that, in order to enact change, it takes baby steps?

 

 

Transcript:

Click to download the full Transcript PDF.

 

Robin Thieme: [00:00:00] Those visionaries that are envisioning that an accounting system will become populated in an automated way, the people that would work with that information are completely different than those that worked with that information 10 years ago.
Peter Margaritis: [00:00:25] Welcome to Change your Mindset Podcast, formerly known as Improv is No Joke, where it’s all about believing that strong communication skills are the best way in delivering your technical accounting knowledge and growing your business. An effective way of building stronger communication skills is by embracing the principles of applied improvisation.
Peter Margaritis: [00:00:46] Your host is Peter Margaritis, CPA a.k.a. The Accidental Accountant. And he will interview financial professionals and business leaders to find their secret in building stronger relationships with their clients, customers, associates, and peers, all the while growing their businesses. So, let’s start the show.
Peter Margaritis: [00:01:13] Welcome to Episode 30. And my guest today is Robin Thieme, who’s the Founder of KBS CFO, which is an outsourced CFO and accounting department solutions for growing sustainable and profitable businesses. She has over 30 years of financial and accounting experience, a passion for the efficiencies that new technologies enable, and a dedication to small businesses.
Peter Margaritis: [00:01:38] Long before cloud computing was a mainstream term, Robin built her own company, KBS, as a virtual organization. She takes the same innovative and thoughtful approach to establishing efficiencies and solutions that fit the current business environment for her clients.
Peter Margaritis: [00:01:53] In this episode, we discuss how she started her business in 2004 and how it has evolved into a virtual CFO solution with the help of embracing technology. She is very future-focused, and we discuss the changing role in the CPA profession, and how best to begin to develop those skills necessary in order to survive this change.
Peter Margaritis: [00:02:18] Before we get to the interview, Change Your Mindset is part of the C-Suite Radio family of podcasts. It is an honor and a privilege to be amongst some of the more popular business podcasts such as The Hero Factor with Jeffrey Hayzleyy, Amazing Business Radio with Shep Hyken, and Keep Leading with Eddie Turner. You can find Change Your Mindset and many other outstanding business podcasts on C-Suite Radio by going to www.c-suiteradio.com.
Announcer: [00:02:49] This podcast is part of the C-Suite Radio Network, turning the volume up on business.
Peter Margaritis: [00:02:54] And now a quick word from our sponsor.
Sponsor: [00:03:00] This episode is sponsored by Peter A. Margaritis LLC, a.k.a. The Accidental Accountant. Are you looking for a high content and engaging speaker for your next conference? Do you want to deliver a story to stakeholders that will transform data dumping to engaging business conversations? Do you want to feel that the value a speaker provides your audience far exceeds the dollar value on their invoice? Then, book Peter for your next conference, management retreat, or workshop.
Sponsor: [00:03:30] Contact Peter and peter@petermargaritis.com and visit his website at www.petermargaritis.com. By the way, one of his Fortune 50 clients actually made the comment about the value he brings to your audience.
Peter Margaritis: [00:03:47] Now, let’s get to the interview with Robin Thieme.
Peter Margaritis: [00:03:57] Hey, welcome back, everybody. My guest today is actually a listener, someone in my audience who has been listening for a while. She sent me an email about a couple of weeks ago and asked if maybe she could be on the show. And I said, “Absolutely, anybody who listens to my podcast.” So, it’s you and my mother. I haven’t interviewed her yet. But anybody who listens to my podcast, and as the background that you have, and can speak to the accounting profession, absolutely.
Peter Margaritis: [00:04:29] So, I’m so excited to introduce my guest today. It’s Robin Thieme. She’s out of Maryland. And thank you, Robin, because it’s Friday. Actually, it’s Good Friday. Happy Good Friday to you. And thank you for taking time out of your schedule to spend some time with me today.
Robin Thieme: [00:04:49] Well, I’m really excited to be here, Peter. And I am a fan. So, I’m kind of starstruck by being with you now. It’s been really fun listening to you the last few years and, now, to sit down and have a conversation is a real treat for me.
Peter Margaritis: [00:05:06] Starstruck. I’m the one that’s starstruck. I’m going to have somebody. And recently, people have actually come up, and I’ve made a couple — I made a comment in, I think, the last — this episode that’s coming up with Samantha Bowling about if any of my audience members have ever seen me out anywhere or they recognize my voice, come up and talk to me. And I usually carry books with me. I’ll give you a book, If not, I will send you one. So, please approach me. I think I’m very approachable.
Robin Thieme: [00:05:36] Yeah, it sounds like it. So, yeah, I’m looking forward to seeing you at our next conference together.
Peter Margaritis: [00:05:41] Exactly. So, Robin, tell everybody in the audience a little bit about yourself and what do you do.
Robin Thieme: [00:05:48] Well, right now, I started a business called KBS CFO in 2004. So, that’s what I’ve been doing and what I’m doing now since then. And we provide virtual CFO and accounting department solutions to growing businesses. And what that means is, basically, we are the new version of an accounting department that can work with a business, even though we’re not employed by the business. The old-fashioned accounting department for a small business has been a little bit displaced, and we can provide the solution of transaction capture through controller up through CFO-type services, basically, be a one-stop shop for the businesses that come to us.
Peter Margaritis: [00:06:48] Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. You said something interesting there. I’ve never — This is the first time I’ve heard of virtual CFO. I’ve heard of contractual CFO that shows up to a location, but you don’t show up to a location.
Robin Thieme: [00:07:03] We don’t show up to location. I have clients all over the country. And the majority of them do not reside in Maryland actually as it turns out in this day and age. And we conduct our business similar to how we’re having this podcast today, through the different web tools that are available to us, and everybody communicates through email, Slack, Asana, all these other tools. And so, we’re able to accomplish what we do without walking into the organization’s premises.
Robin Thieme: [00:07:40] So, it’s all thanks to a lot of good technology, but it used to be that the old mindset was if you identified, if you were able to identify that you might need a CFO or C-level type person, to employ somebody like that, then you would be like, “Well, that’s too much money. I can’t afford like a CFO for my business. I’m too small for that.” And it turns out, like small businesses have some pretty big problems or big decisions, and they just only need a part of us. So, I saw that that was doable. And I have other colleagues that are doing the same thing, but we’re really meeting a need of businesses that are struggling to run their businesses, love what they do, are really good at it, but just need some help on the back end.
Peter Margaritis: [00:08:41] So, 2004. The technology in 2004 versus 2019, night and day. So, what were you using in 2004 to be a virtual CFO?
Robin Thieme: [00:08:55] We were less of a virtual CFO at that time. I mean, there’s definitely — I had clients even then that we would be set up, where we would be able to virtually get into the accounting system through — there were businesses that were doing hosting of their accounting applications. There wasn’t as many what’s called SaaS-based applications as there are today, software as a service, where you could log into a website. But there was ways to — there was a way to get into people’s computers. So, one of the ways — I had to think about it. One of the ways that we used to be virtual is a tool that I don’t know if it even exists today, PC Anywhere. So-
Peter Margaritis: [00:09:39] I remember that.
Robin Thieme: [00:09:40] Yeah. So, I used that before 2004. So, when my son was born, I convinced my boss that I could work from home and use PC Anywhere. I would, in 1994, to get into computers at the office that we had in Washington DC when I would be at home. So, that was, I guess, one of the most commonly-used tools. I would convince a client. I’d say, “I’m going to help you. I’ll be very available. I’m just going to have to actually ask if I can tap into your computer.” And some clients didn’t like that idea. That’s kind of a freaky idea. And other clients were like, “You mean, I don’t have to see you?” And then, they’d be quite happy about that. So, I can just like — “Virtually, you can move my mouse?” But yeah, I guess it was PC Anywhere.
Peter Margaritis: [00:10:33] And you keep saying the word “we.” We.
Robin Thieme: [00:10:36] Yes.
Peter Margaritis: [00:10:37] How may people do you have on your team?
Robin Thieme: [00:10:39] Well, I have 12 people that work in this vicinity near Kensington. And then, I actually have two people that work for us in India. So, the we is-
Peter Margaritis: [00:10:53] Wow.
Robin Thieme: [00:10:54] … global actually. And I’m really excited about that. I started working with that part of the team about twelve months ago, but the “we” here in the states are people who also work for me virtually. I do have an office, and I’m speaking to you from my office outside my home. I walk. It’s about a mile from the house. I needed to separate work and home. And so, I decided to do this a while ago. And it’s actually a coworking space that people can come to, other people in the neighborhood.
Robin Thieme: [00:11:33] And so, some people come to the office, and they like to do that, and many other people work virtually for me. And they’re women. And my business model for hiring is that most of the people that work for me are 0.5 FTEs. They work 25
hours or so a week. And I don’t really keep track of that. They’re assigned a bucket of work, and they need to get it done, and meet every single deadline, but I really don’t keep track of when they do it, and where they are when they do it.
Peter Margaritis: [00:12:16] That’s interesting because there’s a company here in Columbus, Ohio. The name is Kaiser Consulting. And she started this some years ago. And other than being virtual, it’s built around that same concept. And her firm has grown from herself, and I forget how many years. I think she got like 75 people in the firm.
Robin Thieme: [00:12:38] Wow, I admire that. Wow.
Peter Margaritis: [00:12:40] And I spoke to their company about a couple of years ago, and at that time, they were like 35 or 40. It’s pretty fascinating, but it’s an interesting business model. Now, you’re in Maryland. Obviously, a member of the Maryland Association CPAs.
Robin Thieme: [00:12:57] Proud. Proud member.
Peter Margaritis: [00:12:59] And by the way, I’m also a member of the Maryland Association of CPAs.
Robin Thieme: [00:13:02] All right.
Peter Margaritis: [00:13:03] As much as MACPA, the Business Learning Institute have supported me and my business model. I became a member. I think I’m going on about a year now. But I read something in your bio that I knew that you were a member of the Maryland Association of CPAs because you described yourself as an anticipatory accountant. And I went, “Oh, she’s drank the Kool-Aid.” Could you explain what an anticipatory accountant is?
Robin Thieme: [00:13:34] Sure. So, an anticipatory accountant – I hope I do my colleague, Tom, justice here, and Dan Burrus, the one who really introduced that concept to MACPA – is one who is looking out towards the future anticipating trends and
really focused on what’s going to happen next, instead of being a historian for our clients. So, being focused on how you use the information that you’re involved with capturing, and what it means for the future. Just, I get — I guess it’s very redundant but just basically thinking about those things. And, ultimately, when you think about it from its most basic elements, a successful business should always be thinking about where they’re going and not where they’ve been. So, I live in that world.
Peter Margaritis: [00:14:43] And you live it very well because I’ve heard Dan Burrus and Tom speak over the years. But, basically, Dan was saying, there’s two types of trends out there – hard trends and soft trends. And I love how you describe it. I mean, take technology. I’ve got an iPhone 10. And on my next iPhone, am I going to buy an iPhone 3? No, I’m going to wait till that next model. So, technology will continue to evolve. I’m not going to get a dumb phone.
Robin Thieme: [00:15:16] That’s right.
Peter Margaritis: [00:15:17] I’m going to try to keep getting a smartphone. Same thing with demographics. Once we have this — I think, we’ve now got an idea of the totality of the millennials. And we can see them come through the system. Now, we got to start looking at Zs because we had a large baby boomer and small Gen X. We saw that, but we didn’t do anything about it. And then, there’s this hiring issue. And then, we got a huge millennial population coming through. And I lucked out. I heard Rebekah Brown from MACPA talk about the demographics, and firms were looking for a 35-year-old tax manager. And she said, “Do you know how long it takes to find a 35-year-old tax manager? 35 years and nine months.”
Robin Thieme: [00:16:06] Yeah.
Peter Margaritis: [00:16:06] They’re just not hanging of the-
Robin Thieme: [00:16:09] That’s right.
Peter Margaritis: [00:16:10] But you have that vision because you’re not going to go back in your business and go, “You know, the Zoom, whatever. I’m going back to PC Anywhere.”
Robin Thieme: [00:16:18] Exactly, yeah. No. I do try to look at what tools are put in front of us and how we can leverage them. I love learning about a new software and trying to brainstorm of what that software could potentially do to help a client. And then, at times, it might be that you look at something, and you realize that it’s really solving a problem that, at times, nobody needs to solve. But I think it’s fun.
Robin Thieme: [00:16:52] And they’ve done this at a lot of conferences, and I appreciate it, to just contemplate. Forget about accounting for a second. Put that on hold and just contemplate, Like the driverless car, and then think about all the innovation related to the driverless car, and then try to bring that back to the work that we do and how we could help our clients think about how to react to these things. So, if you’re a pizza place, like maybe a driverless car could come into play at one point or something like that where you might think those are two different things that should never meet, paths would never meet.
Peter Margaritis: [00:17:35] And I think those paths should meet. And, actually, I think I would be more productive in a driverless car than driving myself-
Robin Thieme: [00:17:45] Yeah.
Peter Margaritis: [00:17:47] … because I do some work here in the State of Ohio. And when I have to drive to Cleveland, I’ve had the driverless car, and I can sit in the back, and the technology will just pretty well sort itself out. That’s two hours of productivity I can gain.
Robin Thieme: [00:18:01] Right. So, we’ve been brainwashed. And we really love our cars, and I know people do. But all of a sudden, I started to think about, “You know what, at one point, it’s going to be illegal for me to drive.” And that’s a good thing. So, I was like — and I said that to somebody else, and this person I was talking to, they love
cars. And I really upset them. I was like, “Yeah. There’ll be a point where, literally, like, humans getting behind a wheel will be considered a safety threat, and that you won’t…” You know, that’s one of my visions.
Robin Thieme: [00:18:42] But I mean, other people have the similar idea, but it’s just like to think about it, it kind of — it makes sense to a certain degree that, like you said, we get distracted. We want to be working on our — you know, checking our e-mail. We want to do these things. But we, kind of, are trying to struggle with these competing things like, “That’s really strange for our car to make those decisions.”
Peter Margaritis: [00:19:10] Right. But if you think, I’m sort of thinking about when I get into later retirement years when I really should not be driving, and I would probably be like my father and mother, who would fight over giving up the keys. They’ve given up.
Robin Thieme: [00:19:24] Yeah, that’s right.
Peter Margaritis: [00:19:26] That could be the illegal aspect of it. If you’re over a certain age, you shouldn’t be behind the wheel. You should be in the backseat and have the driverless car take you.
Robin Thieme: [00:19:34] Yeah.
Peter Margaritis: [00:19:34] And people who are listening to this are going — Okay, some will go, “That’s pretty cool.” Some will say, “That will never happen.”
Robin Thieme: [00:19:42] Right, right. And I mean, we don’t know. So, I guess that’s where the skill of hard and soft trends comes in. And it being a skill, I love that idea, and that was something that the MACPA has really been focusing on sharing with their members is this concept that it sounds like our conversation right now that we’re having is outside of our work, but it’s really a part of it.
Robin Thieme: [00:20:09] It’s thinking — like having this conversation, and then saying to each other, “Is this a hard trend or is it a soft trend? Is there going to be a point where
it will be illegal for us to get into cars? And what does that mean for us? And how would that affect the business that we advised, you know, we provided guidance to, that’s decided to buy a fleet of cars for their employees because they think it’s a really great thing to do?”
Peter Margaritis: [00:20:42] So, let’s think about your business. So, when you started the virtual CFO, there’s probably nothing out there, and I don’t think you have a whole lot of competition out there right now. I don’t know. Do you have a whole lot of competition?
Robin Thieme: [00:20:57] Well, the competition is growing, and I welcome it because I think there’s a dynamic of it. First, I had to really spend a lot of time explaining what I do, but, actually, you do run into business owners right now that will say, “I’d like to hire a virtual CFO,” or they might not say virtual, they might say CFO or they might say fractional, or “I need an accountant. Do you know one?”.
Robin Thieme: [00:21:25] I know that the AICPA has really started to recognize that of all of the CPA pathways that this is the fastest growing and demanded service that businesses are looking for. They’re just completely overwhelmed by trying to run a business, and they’re really looking to accountants to help them. They kind of have heard all these years that we’re helpful, and we’re honest, and we care, and all these good things. So, they just kind of naturally want to pick up the phone and call the people and ask for help.
Robin Thieme: [00:22:13] So, I know that many public accounting firms or large accounting firms have definitely gotten into the term that the AICPA has definitely branded. Well, I don’t know. I don’t about legally, but client accounting services is a term that’s being used through the CPA world to describe this concept of being an accounting department for an organization. And we’re still really grappling with what’s the best term for what I do. I was messing with CAO, Chief Anticipation Officer.
Peter Margaritis: [00:22:54] I like that.
Robin Thieme: [00:22:56] I thought you might like that, but nobody knows what that means.
Peter Margaritis: [00:22:59] That’s even better because they have to ask you, what does that mean? We all know what a CFO-
Robin Thieme: [00:23:03] That’s true. I haven’t been able to make that one — get any traction on that one, but it is what I do. But it’s just, you know, [crosstalk].
Peter Margaritis: [00:23:10] I did to that point. To that point, I sort of do. I keep naming in my business The Accidental Accountant.
Robin Thieme: [00:23:16] I love that name. I love it.
Peter Margaritis: [00:23:19] Someone said, “Absolutely, because they’ll ask you a question, what is an accidental accountant?” They will ask you. “I’m a CPA.” “Well, we kind of know what that is.” So, I set that lead in the question to say, so what’s chief anticipatory officer, was it?
Robin Thieme: [00:23:34] Chief Anticipation Officer.
Peter Margaritis: [00:23:35] Anticipation.
Robin Thieme: [00:23:36] CAO.
Peter Margaritis: [00:23:36] So, what does that mean? And that leads into the story to bring the men, and talk about how the technology, and how your firm, and you yourself, primitive visionary because you saw this back in 2004, to some degree, and have been able to ride that wave to 15 years later. So, that leads me to my next question, how does your business — and I don’t use the word anymore. I’m trying not to use the word — change in the next five years? How does your business transform in the next five years? That transformation word was introduced by Daniel Burrus, who was a member of the
National Speakers Association and is the current chair co-chair of our annual convention, and the annual convention is about transforming.
Robin Thieme: [00:24:24] Right. Yeah, that’s really interesting. So, the transformation that I see is — I mean, this might be not very creative on my part, but just really an explosion in understanding and demand for the need of what we do in particular. A part of the transformation being very much centered around the capture of data and the fact that there’s a growing investment in that being done by robots and automatically.
Robin Thieme: [00:25:09] And, also, the way that those that are working with the data. I’m using the word data, instead of accounting transactions. And that the data really requires a data specialist, which is really like a data specialist field is really becoming the way to go where you’re not a person that walks into an office, and there is a stack of pieces of paper there in an inbox, and you sit down, and you open a system, and you start typing in data, and you were really smart, and you needed to know what to enter, and you needed to look at that piece of paper with great knowledge. That role is really transformed. And-
Peter Margaritis: [00:26:08] It’s gone.
Robin Thieme: [00:26:08] It’s kind of gone. I mean, I still live with it. I don’t live with the — we don’t have any paper. I’ve been paper lists since I started my business. So, there’s no paper. I see a lot of paper in the back there, so.
Peter Margaritis: [00:26:22] Yeah, I’m paperless too.
Robin Thieme: [00:26:22] No, sorry. But no. But in terms of the — I think there is a lot of talk about like the reduction of data entry. And I do see that to a certain degree, but it’s not quite the way people are describing it. But they’re the visionaries. So, those visionaries that are envisioning that an accounting system will become populated in an automated way, the people that would work with that information are completely different than those that worked with that information 10 years ago. And this concept of
like a reconciliation is going to look different than it did a long time ago. So, hopefully, there’ll be less of them.
Peter Margaritis: [00:27:16] And actually, McCormick, a Maryland company has two RPAs, robotic process automation, which is really a bot that reconciles supplier-vendor.
Robin Thieme: [00:27:26] Yeah.
Peter Margaritis: [00:27:28] And, basically, it reconciles, and then it provides, “This, we need to look at. These are, kind of, high-risk areas, and here’s immediate risk, and these are low-risk, but you need to take a look at this.” And it’s not taken days to do it. It’s taken seconds.
Robin Thieme: [00:27:44] Yeah. So, that’s kind of part of the transformation of small business. McCormick’s doing it today, and they’ll become affordable. And part of the Xero, and bookkeeping bots, and bench.co, and all these companies that are trying to make this affordable for small business will, basically, facilitate that.
Robin Thieme: [00:28:09] And so, that’s really — and then, of course, that changes the workforce, and looking for people that were really skilled that — I mean, this isn’t the case anymore, but I bet — I don’t know if your — how our ages match up, but I was quite good at that 10-key. I could do that really fast. So, it’s like who cares. But I mean, I did work in public accounting a long time ago. And I was at the point where you would rapidly type in numbers using a 10-key, and that’s just completely not needed anymore.
Peter Margaritis: [00:28:53] Hold on.
Robin Thieme: [00:28:53] Sorry.
Peter Margaritis: [00:28:53] Hold on. No, no. You’re going to get the people to wreck their car because, trust me, I asked this question. I go, “Is business today day the same as it was before?” And I show a picture of a 10-key. For those of you who are not accountants, a 10-key is an adding machine with a tape that rolls out the back. I asked
the audience, “How many of you still have a 10-key?” and 75% of that audience raises their hand.
Robin Thieme: [00:29:18] And they use it to check their Excel.
Peter Margaritis: [00:29:23] They do. They use it to check their Excel. And I told them there’s a support group for those people.
Robin Thieme: [00:29:28] That’s good. That’s good.
Peter Margaritis: [00:29:30] I go, “It’s time to-”
Robin Thieme: [00:29:31] Yeah, and-
Peter Margaritis: [00:29:33] “… put that away and move forward.”
Peter Margaritis: [00:29:34] And I think, if I can get like a little hippy dippy about it, we’re missing out at we being accountants and being part of this tribe of accountants. And CPAs, in particular, are missing out on what our clients are clamoring for. They want us to put the 10-key down. And they want us to sit down, and look at them, and actually speak to them, and learn of all the things that are going on in their business. And then, use all those brains to contribute. And it’s like it part of it is giving up the 10-key, so.
Peter Margaritis: [00:30:13] Drop the 10-key and take some steps away.
Robin Thieme: [00:30:18] Yeah, exactly.
Peter Margaritis: [00:30:19] So, you-
Robin Thieme: [00:30:20] Be safe.
Peter Margaritis: [00:30:21] Be safe. And hearing you and all the stuff that you’ve done, you don’t like staying in your comfort zone very much, do you?
Robin Thieme: [00:30:31] I I guess I’m comfortable with a mistake or two. So, in the company, as we’re making errors periodically, I have an expression, “Success is learning.” So, I do subscribe to that. And it’s a funny dynamic because when I go to CPA conferences, I was at the — I think it was a Digital CPA conference. But I was at a conference, and you’ll sit at a roundtable or sit with people, and there’s people there, they’d be like, “My partners, I cannot convince them to change this thing.”
Robin Thieme: [00:31:15] And then, it’s a joke in my company where they’re like, “Don’t change anything else, Robin. For the first quarter, if you could just please just leave it the way it is.” So, it’s this kind of a funny dynamic that people that work for me, they get a little stressed out because it might not be helpful at times. But I love — I do get enamored with the ability of a tool to do something that I hadn’t thought of. So, I do get caught up in that. And at times, I gravitate more towards that than looking at somebody’s balance sheets.
Peter Margaritis: [00:31:56] I see that in you, but like we were talking before we started recording, you’re a skier, and you share about moguls and how you have to kind of lean in because if you lean back, it’s not good.
Robin Thieme: [00:32:15] You’re going to fall.
Peter Margaritis: [00:32:16] You’re going to fall. If you lean forward and anticipate where you’re going, you’ll get to the end. So, that’s scary for a lot of people, that-
Robin Thieme: [00:32:26] Yes.
Peter Margaritis: [00:32:27] … leaning in. You lean in. You don’t lean back.
Robin Thieme: [00:32:31] When I’m in business, I lean in. Skiing, I struggle with the lean forward, but I’d aspire to it. Yeah.
Peter Margaritis: [00:32:40] So, this leaning in, that’s kind of like getting outside the comfort zone into that area that’s risky and scary, which is taking me down a path. You are now a graduate. I’ll let you explain it, but Robin went into a scary place just recently, and came out unscathed, and probably with a different perspective on a lot of different things. So, Robin, if you could share what I’m talking about.
Robin Thieme: [00:33:09] Yes. Well, I just graduated last Tuesday from my 10 weeks in improv class. And I just thoroughly thank you. And you are an inspiration to me, for sure. And I had been in enamored with the concepts of “yes and” for a while and from a number of different original pathways. But I definitely got a kick out of like thinking about how that applies to business, and it did speak to me.
Robin Thieme: [00:33:44] At the same time, I was going through caring for my mom who passed away last August. And I miss her quite a bit, but I really started to think about her as a yes-and person. And I did have to, basically, kind of scramble for a few years to figure out how to care for her. My sister is a big help with that. But I was kind of dealing with that and thinking about just basically putting everything else on hold and taking care of that. And I just basically, at one point, decided it was time to do something for myself, and learn, and grow.
Robin Thieme: [00:34:34] And so, my husband actually gave it to me as a gift because he had heard me talking about it so often. And then, I decided to push the button and walk into that improv class not knowing anybody and see what happened next. And, really, it was scary, and I was very much in awe and intimidated by the teacher. I thought she’s going to ask me to do really hard stuff. And it was, really, a very positive experience. And I’m looking forward to continuing with it.
Peter Margaritis: [00:35:11] So, where did you take the course?
Robin Thieme: [00:35:15] Where?
Peter Margaritis: [00:35:16] Yes.
Robin Thieme: [00:35:16] At the DC Improv in Washington DC.
Peter Margaritis: [00:35:20] And do you remember who your instructor was?
Robin Thieme: [00:35:22] Oh, of course, Anna Bethel. She-
Peter Margaritis: [00:35:23] That’s cool.
Robin Thieme: [00:35:27] Yeah. So, yeah. I mean, we just finished. And I just think she — so, I mean, not only — sorry, I get excited when I talk about this. But not only did I find that for two and a half hours, I’m not turning my phone on. I’m laughing hysterically at everyone. We’re really supportive of one another. I didn’t know anyone else in the class. All those things are really great. And yet, I felt that, ultimately, one of the extra cream on the cake or whatever was to listen to this really talented improv do her craft. So, it was like I was getting entertained by my teacher, and I just loved it.
Peter Margaritis: [00:36:12] It was an absolute blast. And, now, you’re hooked and-
Robin Thieme: [00:36:14] Have you been — are you still taking classes?
Peter Margaritis: [00:36:18] Actually, I try to. This winter, I was taking — I haven’t taken a level two in a while, which is more from the acting perspective. And I was commuting from Columbus to Cincinnati, and there was a couple of times the snow kept me away. So, I didn’t get — out of the six that they did, I was able to, at least, get three. But those three, I mean, I’m in nirvana.
Robin Thieme: [00:36:39] Yeah.
Peter Margaritis: [00:36:40] Yeah, if I’m driving two hours to take an improv class, that was nirvana. A friend of mine, who’s also a CPA, she’s in Michigan. Call out to Kristen RAmpe. We were talking about recently on email about trying to go to Chicago and see if there’s a three-day intensive course just because. And I’ve-
Robin Thieme: [00:37:01] At Second City?
Peter Margaritis: [00:37:01] At Second City.
Robin Thieme: [00:37:03] Yeah.
Peter Margaritis: [00:37:04] Yeah. I’ve done that a couple times. And that is, “What cellphone? I don’t have a cell phone.” It’s the-
Robin Thieme: [00:37:10] Right.
Peter Margaritis: [00:37:11] But that environment that they put you in, you were completely safe. There was nothing to worry about. It’s a very welcoming, very safe environment that, actually, they want you to fail.
Robin Thieme: [00:37:26] Right.
Peter Margaritis: [00:37:27] And you’ve mentioned something about this earlier, but I’ve learned — and it was outside of improv, but I’ve brought it into improv. There’s an acronym called FAIL, and it stands for first attempt in learning, because we have to fail in order to get better. And that’s the thing about improv, taking that risk. Failure, it’s okay. It’s embraced. A lot of times, out of that failure comes great ideas.
Robin Thieme: [00:37:52] Yeah.
Peter Margaritis: [00:37:53] And that’s the magic of it. And it’s not just a theater thing. You bring it into your business, you bring it into your life, and it’s truly magical.
Robin Thieme: [00:38:04] Yeah. And it can be kind of crushing to fail or make a mistake. I mean, nobody — it’s not like look you — we don’t plan it that way, but if you can like walk away from something and recognize that you played a part in the mistake
or failure but that there’s something to be learned from it is really — well, you kind of didn’t waste it. So, that’s to have. Like “Don’t waste this failure.”
Peter Margaritis: [00:38:32] Yeah, don’t waste. Just learn from it.
Robin Thieme: [00:38:35] Yeah, I love that. That’s great. And I think it is a really powerful lesson. And I’ve witnessed other people that really struggle with it, and they really are hard on themselves. And I mean, not that you want to ever, again, strive for making errors, but, at times, the experiments that you’re doing could really have great value. So, I mean, looking at it as an experiment, which is definitely, DC — improv, rather, is an experiment, and you don’t know what’s going to happen, and that’s really what the power of it is.
Robin Thieme: [00:39:15] And one of the things that I personally — like I do love humor. I mean, I really enjoy — like I love the Second City. I watched that for a long time and everything. And I love comedy. But I didn’t really like focus in with this improv on gaining great abilities to entertain others. I was really focused on like thinking on my feet, the concept of collaboration, this concept that we’ve talked about or that you’ve talked about with communication. And just also like reading what others around you want and need from you. So, you’ve got to figure that out in that improv. Like, what is it that you’re doing based on what that person just brought into this scene?
Peter Margaritis: [00:40:11] It makes you become a better listener.
Robin Thieme: [00:40:13] Yeah.
Peter Margaritis: [00:40:13] It really makes you become — and that’s — I talk about it all the time because, usually, the last words that come out of people’s mouths are the most important, but if we interrupt it, we’d never hear it, that’s with improv. Because if you interrupt your teammate, and they’re about to say something, or they say something, and you’re distracted, the scene falls apart. You’ve got to be actively listening all the time with your eyes and ears in order to be successful onstage and in business.
Robin Thieme: [00:40:45] Right. And I did struggle with that just like where I was like — I’m just — I’m very new to it, and you’ve been doing it for — like figuring out when is the right time to join in where you’re being supportive and when is it that you’re not basically doing a yes-and move. So, I kind of think about that and try to make sure I’m aware of it, and I’m not just like sitting there thinking while you’re talking about what I’m going to say, so.
Peter Margaritis: [00:41:24] It does take time. It takes time-
Robin Thieme: [00:41:27] Yeah.
Peter Margaritis: [00:41:27] … to sit there-
Robin Thieme: [00:41:28] Still learning.
Peter Margaritis: [00:41:28] Yeah, still learning. But you’ve got the tools. And it’s just — so, when I was telling you about how I do this podcast, a lot of podcasts will ask guests, “Send me some questions you want me to ask,” or “Here are some questions I want you to fill out and send back to me.” I don’t do that. I do my research, I do my homework, because that’s really about improv is gaining that knowledge. It’s not making stuff up, but it’s about taking the knowledge that we have, and apply it, and listening to the conversation that we have. It does take a little bit of time, but the more you do it, it becomes really magical. It’s almost like lucky charms. It’s magically delicious.
Robin Thieme: [00:42:13] Yeah. Well, I think, ultimately, what you’ve been able to do with this ability to listen is just create a really engaging discussion with your guests. And I think it can sound, when you listen to certain podcasts, you’re like, “Did they write that ahead of time?” and they’ll feel like you’re just part of it, and you just question how much of it is scripted, and so forth, and it’s not as interesting for the listener, I think.
Peter Margaritis: [00:42:46] So, you blend the improv into your business because you have people that rely on you, and you’re trying to motivate the team, and the ability to empathize with them. And instead of saying no and sort of them but, it’s like, “Yes, I
hear you. And let’s talk about some more,” or “Yes, I empathize with what is going on, and tell me more,” or “Have you thought about this?” It’s moving the conversation forward in a positive way. And I will say this, we have a stereotype, and I hear the word CF-No a lot. And so, if I had, “What are you trying to accomplish?” “I’m trying to accomplish the accounts to quit saying no all the time…”
Robin Thieme: [00:43:38] Yes.
Peter Margaritis: [00:43:38] “… and to say yes and.” But it’s about agreement but not always agreeing.
Robin Thieme: [00:43:43] Right, right. Yeah. And I have had some projects recently where I was working with different accountants. And I did find that there was, I guess, a level of arrogance that you just could tell it was a one-way conversation. And it’s unfortunate because you really don’t produce something that is quite as good, I think, that when you allowed two people to collaborate.
Robin Thieme: [00:44:10] And I think it is really — you talked about the transformation, and Dan Burrus, and all these things. And I think that because of the nature of both what happens in technology and just, in general, the way that our lives have changed, we need to kind of change our persona. And I, actually, one day — well, I think, I said this to Tom, I don’t know, or somebody at the AICPA. I was like, “I wonder if the word ‘accountant’ is problematic.” And I think they practically kicked me out of the room. But I was like, “It’s like are we counting anything anymore?”
Robin Thieme: [00:44:56] So, be pretty disruptive to change the term for what we go to school for, and proud to be a CPA, and those kinds of things, and the knowledge I’ve gained is really something that I use every day, but I just — you know, I think that the profession has so much opportunity, and people still they, they really want our help, but when we’re a CFO-no or those expressions, then they basically are going to seek elsewhere, seek help elsewhere.
Peter Margaritis: [00:45:32] Right, and-
Robin Thieme: [00:45:33] They’ll call the lawyer. We don’t want that.
Peter Margaritis: [00:45:35] No, we don’t like that. No, no. But they’ll find that person. They’ll find that firm. They’ll find an organization that will listen to them, that won’t say no to them, that will — you know, we use the word cost a lot in our — how much cost? I’ve been taught over the last three years. They said throw away the word ‘cost’ and say, “Where will this investment takes us?” And it gives it a whole new mindset.
Robin Thieme: [00:46:01] That’s right.
Peter Margaritis: [00:46:02] Cost has somewhat of a negative connotation. It’s now — it’s gone tomorrow, and an investment lasts for a period of time. So, where will this take us? And I do that with my business when I want to start a podcast, or I wanted to do some of the stuff that I do and say, “Okay, this is a …” or the books. The investment will be X amount of dollars, and all right. And how long do I think will it be until I recoup? But I don’t just want to recoup. Where do I think this is going to take me? It changes that whole mindset versus looking at that initial cash outlay.
Robin Thieme: [00:46:34] Yeah, yeah.
Peter Margaritis: [00:46:36] I’ve been wrong. I’ve been wrong.
Robin Thieme: [00:46:38] Sure.
Peter Margaritis: [00:46:38] Look, I’m wrong with that, but I’m getting better.
Robin Thieme: [00:46:40] But I mean, to frame those expenditures in terms of the — you know, a lot of times, when people are talking about operational expenditures, I’ll try not to use that word cost. So, there really — that is really like a common thing. We’re going to cut those costs and things like that.
Robin Thieme: [00:47:00] And one of the common ones that I struggle with communicating, and I’ve just been like — I just came up with a way to maybe make ground with this one is that it’ll be time for somebody to invest in their accounting system. You know, they basically — a lot of companies try to — you know, they find the concept of spending, you know, money on an accounting system. It’s looked at as a cost. It’s really, you know, hard to get out of that mindset.
Robin Thieme: [00:47:31] So, I was like thinking about it one day, and I have this one client that I can just see that it’s time to have the conversation. And I would say, “How am I going to get through?” And then, I’m like “You know what, the owner of that company drives a really nice car. And they spend — you know, that car probably cost 50K. And they made a smart decision in their mind, and, you know, I would never question somebody whose decision in terms of vehicles, but it’s like you invest in a vehicle, and you expect it to do its job. And, you know, people really are comfortable doing that overall. And they will be really uncomfortable spending like, you know, one-fourth, one-sixth of that on an accounting system, you know.
Robin Thieme: [00:48:30] So, it’s just a funny dynamic where that system is going to take you where you’re going, and I’m working on my parallels there. And I just was trying to think, overall, if somebody was — if you were to say to somebody, “This system is a really good solution for you to take you to the next step. It’s going to be $500,” and they’re like “What? You know, that’s a large cost.”
Robin Thieme: [00:49:03] But it’s a similar thing you’re not going to drive around in an old — you know, nobody’s driving around in a car from 1985 that has a tape cassette player and those things. They want the Bluetooth. They want these things. Why? Because they make your life work the way it works today. So, that’s my — as you can tell, it’s kind of a new one I’m trying to work through, the story there, so to speak, but I do think that businesses do struggle with that.
Robin Thieme: [00:49:35] And I was talking with the CFO of an accounting software. And I was saying that they — I was providing a little feedback and said that, basically, they should maybe invest in like a solution that will make it less difficult to convert
information. And she said, “Well, we’ve lost a lot of money trying to fix that.” So, it was like — she didn’t even use the word cost. She used the fact that they spent more than they took in. She actually used the word loss, which is not at all how I would describe investing in helping your customers to convert their data.
Robin Thieme: [00:50:19] So, it’s just — that’s the mindset that, ultimately, maybe, at times, we all need to be skeptics in thoughts. Think about the actual economics and not sign up for pyramid schemes, like you know. But, you know. I mean, at times, like you said, those investments take you to the next level, and it’s very hard, I think, for us to effectively communicate that to our clients in a way that they’re — marketing people are much better at it. I was on a sales call with a marketing guy, and I was like. “He’s so good.”
Peter Margaritis: [00:51:05] So, I’m thinking about your dilemma, and this guy likes his cars. So, maybe an angle is if you buy this investment into an updated accounting system, he’ll be able to process and do things in a faster manner as his business grows. “Would you like to, one day, maybe think that to be able to have a Tesla? Well, you might be able to get there a little bit quicker if your system is ran a little bit smoother, and you could process things easier in the system, and not get bogged down because if you’re using Excel as your accounting system, that’s back from the ’80s and we can get you to that next level that quick, and you can get into a new car.” Think about the new accounting.
Robin Thieme: [00:51:49] All right. I’m going to work on that one. Yeah. No. I mean, I think there’s something there. You know, basically try to draw a parallel in terms of the way people think about their car purchases versus how they want to spend next to nothing on their accounting systems.
Peter Margaritis: [00:52:07] It’s, “What do I look good in?” It’s the, “I’m house-rich and furniture-poor.”
Robin Thieme: [00:52:12] That’s right, that’s right.
Peter Margaritis: [00:52:14] I’m really rich, but you come into my house, I have no furniture because it’s all in the aesthetics out there. Robin, it is a bit an absolute pleasure having this conversation with you. This has been so much fun. Here’s what we’re going to do. Because I do speak a lot up at Maryland, if you’re ever at a conference that I’m speaking out, at some point during my presentation, you are going to come up, and we’re going to show them the power of improv. And you and I going to do an improv.
Robin Thieme: [00:52:40] Oh my goodness. I’d love that. All right. That’s a deal. I’m going to hold you to that.
Peter Margaritis: [00:52:46] Cool.
Robin Thieme: [00:52:46] That sounds good. Yeah.
Peter Margaritis: [00:52:48] Cool.
Robin Thieme: [00:52:48] Maybe we can rope somebody else into it too. But I think that’s a fun idea. And I think spreading the word amongst our fellow accountants about the power of it and how it relates to what we do is really something that you’ve been doing for a while, and I want to be there with you.
Peter Margaritis: [00:53:07] Cool.
Robin Thieme: [00:53:08] Yeah.
Peter Margaritis: [00:53:08] I’m looking forward to it. Thank you again. And let’s stay in touch. And I wish you all the best. I love the visionary that you are, and what you see, and how you’ve done, and what you’ve built. Yeah, you very much are very anticipatory. And keep thinking transformation.
Robin Thieme: [00:53:26] I will. Thanks a lot, Peter. And I just — I want to express my appreciation for not just the podcast and the messaging. So, I love the concept of
Taking the Numb Out of Numbers. I mean, that’s something I strive for, and being able to tell a story. So, a lot of the messaging that you’re trying to communicate is not going on deaf ears over here in Maryland, for sure. And I want to thank you for the positive impact you’re having on our accounting community.
Peter Margaritis: [00:54:02] Thank you very much.
Robin Thieme: [00:54:02] And everybody, yeah.
Peter Margaritis: [00:54:04] Perfect.
Robin Thieme: [00:54:05] Yeah. And I want to hear about — if you go to Second City and do a three-day, I want to hear about that. That’s really cool.
Peter Margaritis: [00:54:10] Well, maybe just look at your calendar and see if you can clear it out.
Robin Thieme: [00:54:11] All right.
Peter Margaritis: [00:54:13] And join Krista and I up there.
Robin Thieme: [00:54:15] I think, it’s a fun idea. I need to catch up with you though. I need more classes.
Peter Margaritis: [00:54:21] Absolutely. So, once again, thank you very much. I look forward to the next time our paths cross.
Robin Thieme: [00:54:26] Thank you.
Peter Margaritis: [00:54:30] Now that you’ve listened to this episode, what will you do to become more future-ready? What steps will you take to change your mindset and get out of your comfort zone? What risks are you willing to accept in order to be prepared for tomorrow – all the while knowing that, in order to enact change, it takes baby steps?
Peter Margaritis: [00:54:56] Thank you again for listening. And if you’re enjoying the podcast, please subscribe and share this episode with a friend. And once again, please visit c-suiteradio.com to listen to many of the excellent podcasts that they have in their family of networks.
Announcer: [00:55:17] Like what you just heard? Because it’s c-suiteradio.com. C-Suite Radio, turning the volume up on business.

 

Resources:

S2E29 – Phillip Lovegrove | Becoming a Needs-Based & Hands-On Personal Service for Your Clients

My guest today is Phillip Lovegrove, who’s a partner in the personal financial planning firm of Vorisek Financial Corporation.

 

Now, many of the financial planners that I’ve interacted with in the past could not or would not adapt their conversation to meet the needs of their clients. Instead, many only seem to be serving their own needs and, at times, come across condescending. Phil is just the opposite.

 

Phil believes in taking a needs-based approach and providing hands-on personal service for his clients – and I believe this is something that all professional service providers need to start doing, and soon. It helps your clients in the long term, and it’ll help your business, too.

 

I’ve been a client of his for just over a year and, during this time, I’ve had more conversations about my financial position and pending retirement than ever before. Albeit, I’m a lot closer to retirement than I was five years ago, but this is the kind of service that really adds value and increases trust. He is doing a great job, and it’s something we all can learn from.

 

So, do you provide a needs-based approach in your work life? If so, how can you help others become better in this approach? If not, will you develop the skills necessary to become a needs-based and hands-on personal service to your clients, customers, and employees?

 

Either way, sit down, devise a strategy, and work on it every single day.

 

 

Transcript:

Click to download the full Transcript PDF.

 

Phillip Lovegrove: [00:00:00] Because everyone has busy schedules, they’ve got their own careers, and families, and stuff. So, you’re trying to work this in amongst all the other commitments.
Peter Margaritis: [00:00:16] Welcome to Change Your Mindset Podcast, formerly known as Improv is No Joke, where it’s all about believing that strong communication skills are the best way in delivering your technical accounting knowledge and growing your business. An effective way of building strong communication skills is by embracing the principles of applied improvisation.
Peter Margaritis: [00:00:34] Your host is Peter Margaritis, CPA, a.k.a. The Accidental Accountant. And he will interview financial professionals and business leaders to find their secret in building stronger relationships with their clients, customers, associates, and peers, all the while growing their businesses. So, let’s start the show.
Peter Margaritis: [00:01:02] Welcome to Episode 29. And my guest today is Phil Lovegrove, who’s a partner in the personal financial planning firm of Vorisek Financial Corporation. Phil joined the firm in 2016 as a partner and financial advisor, bringing with him 14 years of financial service experience; seven of them, serving in the capacity of a certified financial planner. Throughout his career, Phil has particularly enjoyed the client relationships he’s developed along the way. His belief and needs-based approach that provides hands-on personal service for the long-term relationship is the best for both parties. And I thoroughly agree. To achieve his needs-based approach, Phil is required to become an effective and adaptable communicator to his clients, prospects, and associates.
Peter Margaritis: [00:01:52] Now, many of the financial planners that I’ve interacted with in the past could or would not adapt their conversation to meet the needs of their clients, but only serve their needs and, at times, come across condescending. Phil is just the opposite.
Peter Margaritis: [00:02:10] Also, I’ve been a client of his for just over a year. During this time, I’ve had more conversations about my financial position and pending
retirement than ever before. Albeit, I’m a lot closer to retirement than I was five years ago, but having financial conversations more frequently than quarterly, semi-annually, or even annually is all about the needs-based approach and the hands-on personal service. And he is doing a great job, and it’s something we all can learn from.
Peter Margaritis: [00:02:42] Before we get to the interview, Changed Your Mindset is now being distributed by C-Suite Radio. You can find Change Your Mindset, along with many other outstanding business podcasts, on C-Suite Radio by going to www.c-suiteradio.com.
Announcer: [00:03:00] This podcast is part of the C-Suite Radio Network. Turning the volume up on business.
Peter Margaritis: [00:03:05] And, now, a word from our sponsor.
Sponsor: [00:03:10] This episode is sponsored by Peter A Margaritis LLC, a.k.a. The Accidental Accountant. Are you looking for a high-content and engaging speaker for your next conference? Do you want to deliver a story to stakeholders that will transform data dumping to engaging business conversations? Do you want to feel that the value a speaker provides your audience far exceeds the dollar value on their invoice? Then, then book Peter for your next conference, management retreat, or workshop. Contact Peter and peter@petermargaritis.com and visit his website at www.petermargaritis.com. By the way, one of his Fortune 50 clients actually made the comment about the value he brings to your audience.
Peter Margaritis: [00:03:57] Now, let’s get to the interview with Phil Lovegrove.
Peter Margaritis: [00:04:06] Hey, welcome back, everybody. Today, my special guest is Mr. Philip Lovegrove. And man, that name sounds like a rock star name for back in the ’70s, doesn’t it? And Phil is a partner and Vorisek Financial Corporation. He is my financial planner, just full transparency. And Phil, as he’s going to explain, we met through a mutual friend. But as we were working prior to recording this, Phil is really a professional networker. And we’re have a lot of conversations around his ability to
network and generate business. But first, Phil, thank you so very much for being a guest on my podcast.
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:04:50] No problem, Pete. Thanks for having me. I’m looking forward to it.
Peter Margaritis: [00:04:53] And so, the audience knows just a little bit more about you. Unfortunately, you’re not that rock star, but you have that rock star name.
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:05:01] Yes, I’m a financial advisor. So far from it.
Peter Margaritis: [00:05:05] So, you’re financial advisor. You’re a partner in this firm. Give us a little background on how you got to be a partner in this firm. A little bit of that journey.
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:05:14] Yeah, sure. So, I’ve been in the financial services industry for about 13 years now, but I got started in the banks, a couple regional banks here out of Columbus, Ohio – Fifth Third Bank, and then Huntington Bank. And I was at Huntington. We had a lot of support staff helping us. And one of those folks got a job over at Vorisek, and she got more familiar with the firm and division for the firm. She thought of me, and reached out, and said I should meet with Tom, who is the founder of our firm. And she thought there might be some synergies and some likemindedness that would potentially lead to a partnership opportunity.
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:05:57] And so, it took about a year for us to get to know each other better, and come to understand where Vorisek was heading, and where I wanted to have my career, and finally decided it’s a good fit. And that was not quite three years ago that I leave the bank and joined Vorisek Financial as the third partner, and what will eventually be a transition strategy to help Tom, our founder, transition out of the business as well.
Peter Margaritis: [00:06:19] That’s cool, that sort of succession plan, and that you’re part of that succession plan. But when you came over to Vorisek, did you come over with was book of business or did you have to start from scratch at that point?
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:06:36] Yeah, great question. Some of both. Fortunately, as fate would have it, I was able to transition some of the clients that I was helping with at Huntington over. So, a lot of families I’ve gotten to know with my years over there. They followed me and became a client here at Vorisek. And then, I spent a good amount of time the first six to nine months really working through that process. And then, since then, fortunately, they’ve sent me a lot of referrals for my current client base. But then, yeah, it’s been doing a lot of networking and meeting people both through the community and through different events here in Columbus.
Peter Margaritis: [00:07:16] And do you even listen to my podcast? I tend to focus my conversation to the financial services and, really, a little bit kind of niched into accountants and the CPAs. And thinking about that, if you’re in a firm, an accounting firm, and your staff, and just join a firm, you really need to start thinking about networking now, if you have the aspirations of becoming a partner, because it just doesn’t happen overnight. And I’m sure you can attest to that because most everybody can attest that this takes time. There’s a reason why there’s work in networking.
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:07:50] Yeah. No, that’s well sad. And coincidentally, just in the last couple of weeks, I was meeting with someone I’ve gotten to know through networking the last few years. And she was in the telecommunications field prior, and recently just took a job as a business development for a large firm here in Columbus, a large CPA firm. And she was just making that same suggestion that they have a lot of folks in that manager role with some partner aspirations, and that it might be a good idea for me to connect with some of them, maybe through like a pizza event or something like that after the tax deadline here to kind of start building some relationships. And so, yeah, I think she was thinking along the lines of exactly what you just described.
Peter Margaritis: [00:08:36] Yes. I think that a lot of people look at networking from a negative perspective. I’ve always said that for those of you who do not like to network, I blame your mother because your mother always told you never talk to strangers. But at a business event, there is no such thing as a stranger. Everybody is a potential opportunity, or they might know somebody who can help you get to where you want to solve that problem that you’re working on currently.
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:09:04] Correct, yeah. And it’s been a big change for me. I’ve grown up in the banks. Most of our networking, the time was best spent internally, meeting with other partners or other resources within the bank as a financial advisor, maybe a business banker, or mortgage originator, or a personal banker, or private banker, executive in the bank who maybe has their own network. So, yeah. So, it’s definitely been a change now as a partner in a smaller advisory firm, and networking has definitely changed over for me here the last four or five years.
Peter Margaritis: [00:09:39] So, what associations or organizations are you involved in in Central Ohio that opened up that networking opportunity to meet folks who could use the services and probably need your services?
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:09:53] Sure, yeah. Columbus is growing quickly, and just driving around or driving inside the outer belt, or even outside the outer belt, there’s development everywhere. So, there’s lots of different ways to network. And I think part of networking, at least for me, has been kind of sifting through those and checking different ones out to evaluate what’s the best fit for how I like to connect with people.
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:10:16] And so, as it stands now, I focus a lot of my networking events here in the Worthington area. It’s where our firm is. That’s where my family lives. So, in case of a network networking involves evening or early morning commitments. And I’m usually just a few minutes from home to make those work and maybe still get back to the kids’ activities.
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:10:39] Specifically, within Worthington, I’ll be taking over as the Board Chair of a group called Leadership Worthington. And that has really allowed me
to connect with a lot of different people in the Worthington area, not just business professionals, which there’s certainly a lot of that, but folks in the different service organizations, people on government, people in the schools. So, it’s been a great way just to meet people, and get our name out, and get a better feel for what’s going on in the Worthington Community.
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:11:10] And then, as a byproduct of that, I met people who through the Worthington Chamber, and got involved here locally at the Worthington Chamber, and joined the board this year. So, yeah, there’s been a couple of organizations, those two in particular in Worthington that I’ve a lot of time with.
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:11:29] And then, the other area of interest to me is leadership. And so, there’s a group here in Columbus called Relay Leadership, and I’ve met lot of new people, similarly-minded, similarly-focused on leadership, in particular, servant leadership. And so, that’s been a great avenue for just making connections, not necessarily with the intent of trying to turn them into clients but just meeting other good people and seeing how we can support each other in different areas. And, sometimes, that leads the business, but most the time, it doesn’t.
Peter Margaritis: [00:12:01] You said the key word there, it’s relationship because networking is not about making a transaction. Networking is starting a relationship, building upon a relationship. And you never know, at some point in time, five years from now, something could happen, or the story that I’m going to tell us how we got connected is a gentleman by the name of Reuben Miner was in Philadelphia back in 2000 – and I believe it was ’14 at the National Speakers Association Annual Convention. He was sitting behind me in a breakout session, and he mentioned he was from Columbus.
Peter Margaritis: [00:12:36] So, we started talking and stuff. Then, after that, we would meet maybe once or twice a year for lunch or whatever. Then, we ran into each other. We were having lunch. And I made a comment like, “I’m looking for a financial planner. Do you know anybody?” And that’s when he gave me your name. And that’s how we got here. And this relationship that we weaved extends out to the people that we meet and
can give us that referral. And it’s worked out. I’ve enjoyed the relationship. I’ve had a better relationship with you as my financial player than the three or four others that I had fired in the past.
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:13:13] Yeah, yeah. No, it’s been great to get to know you. And the backstory for Reuben is we’ve been at the same church together. We go to a large church on the northeast side of Columbus but actually was big enough that we had never connected. And I was out with a friend I used to work with at the bank is an attorney now, and we were talking about our church, and he asked if I knew Reuben, and said we never crossed paths. So, he connected us. And Reuben and I got coffee, and got to know each other better, and has continued to maintain that relationship. He does leadership and stuff here in Columbus and asked me to come speak at that. So, there’s been some natural overlay there, but yeah.
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:13:53] So, I never once really anticipated or asked him for any type of referral for our business, but he thought of me when you guys were talking. And so, yeah, I feel very fortunate that I got a chance to meet you through Reuben, but, yeah, that would have never happened had I not made the initial networking connection, and then followed up with who he suggested I connected with, and then stayed in touch with Reuben, who then had me on his mind when you guys were having lunch.
Peter Margaritis: [00:14:28] Yeah. I always think the viewpoint of networking as the godfather approach. How could I help because some day, I might come and ask you for a favor. So, if I can do something for you and help you, then when it comes time that I need something done, then you’re more willing to, more or less, help as it reciprocated versus I’ve met people over the years who merely want me to help them do something.
Peter Margaritis: [00:14:57] And while we haven’t quite got that trust relationship built yet, and I feel like if I can help you with something, and I do that, I’ve increased that level of trust. I’ve initiated it. So, you’re more likely to be able to help me versus coming after me just immediately. That, to me, feels more like a salesperson.
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:15:17] Yeah. Yeah, you’re completely right. That’s certainly been one of the experiences these few years networking outside the bank is there are certain events that are geared towards that networking crowd, and some are valuable, some are not. But we’ve all met those people that are the handshake, the business card, the sales pitch within 10 seconds of meeting them. And, for me, no bigger turnoff. So, yeah, I agree.
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:15:42] My philosophy is always just try to make connections, see if there’s some value I can provide. And then, with the understanding that just meeting somebody once is probably not going to be enough to build a relationship. And so, maybe, I can connect them into one of the leadership groups or the Chamber. And then, we’ll see each other those type of events. And then, eventually, a relationship may or may not develop, and that may or may not lead to referrals down the line.
Peter Margaritis: [00:16:11] So, being a partner in a financial services organization, what’s your biggest challenge that you have in growing your business?
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:16:20] Yeah, that’s a great question. Right now, currently, our biggest challenge has been staffing. We’re in a growth phase. We started as a one-advisor firm with some support folks. And, now, we’re at a four-advisor firm. And so, I think, like probably some of the CPA firms that are maybe listening just going through some of the growing pains of trying to attract the right talent, the right people, the right fit for us culturally, and then, to retain them, and then continue to work through the ever-growing workload of bringing on
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:16:54] We think different parts of our firm. We’re up 70% last year. And other ones, 20%-30%. And so, that’s just a lot more work for our folks that help us on the support side or on the planning side. So, we’re just trying to continue to keep the pipeline full of folks that can help us from an employee standpoint, and then always kind of keep an eye out for other talented folks that may be able to help us in the future.
Peter Margaritis: [00:17:24] Yeah, I actually got an email in a database about these two positions that you’re looking for, the client service manager and associate planner. And I thought, my first response was, “That’s great. The firm is growing.” And in this marketplace, that has to be a challenge in finding the right people. Are you also reverting to your network to say, “Who do you know that you think that would fit well with an organization?”
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:17:51] Yeah, yeah, great question. That was sort of the intent of the e-mail, whether it’s clients or are, actually, two of our longstanding employees. We have a gentleman who has been at the firm 12 years, and a gentleman who has been at the firm seven years. And know for sure, but Eric, the guy who has been with us for 12 years, was a referral from a client. He helped the client some of his personal banking staff, and the client had called our firm and said, “You guys need to take a look at this guy. He’s sharp, and he’s gets it, and very conscientious.” And so, that was our introduction to Eric, who’s been with the firm for 12 years.
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:18:30] So, just like oftentimes, our best client relationships, the people we enjoy working with the most, people we feel like we can bring the most value to come from our existing clients or centers of influence, we thought, “Hey, we probably should reach out to the same folks, and maybe they could continue to point us in the right direction as far as some of our next staff as well.”
Peter Margaritis: [00:18:52] Yeah. I mean, that’s using your network for any type of support that you need, finding ,people finding opportunities, and your business as well as a CPA. There’s a long process, a long timeframe from going to prospect to clients. It doesn’t happen just overnight. And, especially, I look at your business and thinking,”Well, if I’m with somebody else now, but I want to come to you,” there’s a whole process of moving money into an organization. That takes a little bit of time to do.
Peter Margaritis: [00:19:34] As well as my perspective is (1), as a prospect, I got to feel comfortable with who I am transferring my moneys too. And that doesn’t happen. I think we had a couple lunches and a couple phone calls during that timeframe. And it’s
probably more than a couple lunches, more than a couple of phone calls until, finally, we moved the money and transfered the money from one account into your hands.
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:20:02] Yeah. No, that’s correct. I was just kind of laughing at myself as I was listening to you talk there. Yeah, I met with a couple here most recently on Friday who we had done some one-time planning work for back in 2017. And, really, for about two years, we’d see each other out probably every month or every other month. And probably, every third time we see each other, he’d mentioned he’s still considering bringing the funds over, and he’d ask us for more information, and I compare to what his current advisor is doing, and yeah. And then, eventually, here we are, almost two years later, and we’re just actually going to see him after we hang up here on the podcast, and I’m going to go and have him and his wife for some final signatures to bring them over as clients.
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:20:47] So, case, really, is just a referral. They come in, and you’re signing account paperwork at that first meeting because they had enough. They’re ready to go. They trust the person who referred them over. So, that does still happen. But more times than not, it takes months, and in some cases, even years to build that trust for them to bring their trust, and investments, and everything that goes with it over to you.
Peter Margaritis: [00:21:16] Yeah, as I was relaying that conversation we listened to, I know I didn’t take two years, but at least six to nine months I feel like in making the full transfer and move it into your organization.
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:21:34] Yeah. I would say we don’t have the data that say what the average is, but that’s certainly not way out of the norm. And then, oftentimes, even once you bring someone over, depending on the complexity of their situation, it could be another year or longer before you’ve kind of put everything into place that makes sense for their situation too because everyone has busy schedules. They’ve got their own careers, and families, and stuff. So, you’re trying to work this all the other commitments.
Peter Margaritis: [00:22:04] And I can imagine. So, when you meet folks, do they ask you the question, “So, what’s your vision of the market and how where it’s going?” Do you get that question a lot?
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:22:16] Sure, yeah. But whether it was back in the banking days or now with Vorisek, yeah, that’s common question. And it’s interesting too because people have different perspectives on asking that question. Some people ask it knowing that no one has a crystal ball, and they’re just kind of testing to see how you think through things. And then, especially, at the bank, some people would ask that question, and maybe even not realize it or just expect the banker, the financial advisor, to know everything that’s going to happen in the next 3, 6, 12 months. And so, it was interesting, the different viewpoints that people would bring that question forward with.
Peter Margaritis: [00:22:58] Well, you mentioned earlier in this conversation, you drive around, and you see a lot of things going on here in the Columbus, Ohio area. My days back in banking, I was a commercial lender, and my boss said, “When you see dirt moving, that’s good for the economy.” And I would say the Columbus, Ohio area, there’s been a lot of dirt moved in the last couple of years, if not more because I’ve seen more development even up here in the Westernville area than I’ve seen in years. I’ve been here for 24 years. So, right now, that the local economy feels like it’s pretty strong.
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:23:33] Yeah, I would agree. Two recent scenarios, a firm that would be — my son’s early into travel basketball. So, we spent several weekends in January through March going to different tournaments in Columbus. And so, there are some areas of town that I had not been to for several years. And yeah, every single one of them had multiple condo projects, apartment projects, and a strip mall. So, it was eye opening that no matter what part of Columbus we were going to. Whether it’s Hilliard, or Dublin, or Westerville, even out towards the outside the 270 Newark and some of those areas, there is just development everywhere.
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:24:10] Then, also, we do a fair amount of networking with commercial bankers. We, often, can provide value and vice versa to some of our clients’ own businesses. And I’ve met with several of them here. And maybe even in March,
they already hit their annual goal through March. So, they had some pretty good golf plans for the summer. But a lot of that, they’re all very adept and skilled at what they do. But they would be the first to admit, a lot of that’s just the growth, and everybody needing money, and the bank still being a big player in that space.
Peter Margaritis: [00:24:45] Yeah. I think of those here in the Westerville area as there are, I think, three to four projects, and they’re all focused on assisted living for retiring baby boomers. Every time I turn a quarter in this area, there’s another building or more building around those type of facilities, which I’m starting to think I’m not too far from that, but I think I want to go to a warmer climate.
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:25:16] Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. Yeah, good point. Several realtors that we do work with, they’ve kind of tried to develop a niche within the real estate market of specifically prospecting and specifically building out product sets, and events, and seminars, and marketing efforts to folks looking to downsize or folks that are looking to transition. And, now, a lot of the same realtors, to your point, have been getting duly licensed in places like Florida or different places because a lot of those folks are three to six months, but still maybe have grandkids here in Columbus or other family connections that they’ll spend part of the year in one of those communities or developments you’re just describing. And then, part of the year down in Florida, or Arizona, or South Carolina.
Peter Margaritis: [00:26:10] So, Phil, we have talked in the past. And a lot of your, let’s just say, lifelong learning has been coming through. You’re an avid listener of podcasts.
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:26:24] I am. I am.
Peter Margaritis: [00:26:26] And outside of your favorite one that I’m interviewing for right now, I have to tell you this because Phil contacted me, and one of the episodes, I don’t remember what it was, but he said that it was a Saturday, he was listening to it. And Saturday is fairly chore day around his house, and his chore is cleaning toilets. So, he had on my podcast, listening to it, and he said it made that job much more palatable
than without it. That’s one of the greatest compliments I’ve ever received. Somebody listening [crosstalk].
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:27:00] I’m glad you took it that way because that was certainly the intention. Yeah. Some of my friends and some other people at the firm, for us, podcasting – at least, for me, specifically – has really become probably my primary source of information. It was ironic, the week that we got together to help transition Vorisek, I met another business owner and entrepreneur, who also had her own podcast, and subsequently a few other clients have podcast. And it’s an avenue that we’ve been exploring some as a firm as well. I know some CPA firms here in town, you’ve turned me on to some of their podcasts.
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:27:41] But yeah, for us with young kids, and busy careers, and community commitments, and coaching commitments, it’s just a good way, whether it’s scrubbing toilets, or at the gym in the morning, or are driving in between meetings. And you can be selective on the content that you want to listen to. So, yeah, I try to have a nice mix of business, political, sports, and entertainment, but that’s really my primary source of information now.
Peter Margaritis: [00:28:11] What are you two favorite business podcasts that you listen to?
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:28:14] Besides yours?
Peter Margaritis: [00:28:16] Besides mine.
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:28:17] I really like — the Wall Street Journal has four or five different ones from the market money updates to more general news. They’re usually 6 to 10 minutes. So, I usually try to get those in each day kind of versus just pulling the newspaper up and scanning headlines. It’s kind of a good way to — and I know there’s several other publications that do that same thing, but I’ve checked out a couple of them, but I think the Wall Street Journal has been my favorite.
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:28:51] And then, just turned on to one recently I’ve really been enjoying, Planet Money. I’m not sure if you listen to that one. And then, there’s a couple within our industry that are catered towards financial advisors’s insight. I generally try to catch those each week as well.
Peter Margaritis: [00:29:15] Do you happen to know the name of those?
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:29:17] Yeah. One is called the Financial Advisor Success Podcast. I’d probably botch his last name, but Michael Kitces. He’s kind of a national speaker in our industry. And so, easily try to catch his each week. And then, there’s another one called Between Now and Success by Steve Sanduski. And both of them are generally interviewing other folks in our industry, and they’re talking about their practices, and they’re talking about the markets, and talking about what technology they’re using, and how they’re networking, or how they’re doing their business development.
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:29:55] And so, it’s kind of a nice way to benchmark, to get other ideas, to get other perspectives from different parts of the country, especially as our firm, more and more clients, to your earlier comment, that are retiring and moving to other parts of the country. So, it’s kind of nice to get outside of the Columbus bubble some too and kind of hear what some of the other firms are doing out there.
Peter Margaritis: [00:30:20] You said you listen to some sports podcasts. Just curious, what’s your favorite one?
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:30:28] Of all the podcast, I probably try to limit, that would be the one that I could go down the rabbit trail on. So, I really do try to put a limit. There’s one, being here at Ohio State and growing up in Grandview, just a few minutes the university, high state sports in general kind of dominate the news around here. So, there’s one that’s called The Eleven Dub Cast. It’s one that’s a couple local personalities that, for the most part, are talking about everything Ohio State. Certainly, football being the primary focus, but even through the basketball season. They’ll even touch on some of the other sports and what’s going on there.
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:31:08] So, probably, there’s one that I don’t miss each week. I usually listen to that one. I think one of the guys is actually, maybe, a history teacher here in town and writes for a local website called Bucknuts, and then, for Elevan Warriors maybe him. And then, other guys have been a local personality in the area for a while.
Peter Margaritis: [00:31:27] Because I’m going to asking what my guests more on what they’re listening to because, I think, that’s interesting. And it helps the audience go, “You know, the Planet Money might be something I might want to start listening to.” And I listen to the Wall Street Journal and a lot of a variety of different podcasts. But you said something. In listening to these podcasts, you pick up little nuggets that you can potentially apply into your business, as part of your business development that you may not have thought of before.
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:31:59] Yeah, yeah. I mean, there’s only so much time, but there’s always kind of a thought that would be great to go out, and find some these other firms across the country, and grab a beer with them, or grab lunch with them, and pick their brain. But there’s only so much time in a week. So, to be just in your car, driving somewhere, or at the gym, and to hear someone else having that conversation, and you just able to listen in, I think, for me, that’s one of the huge values of the podcast world.
Peter Margaritis: [00:32:29] Yeah, I thoroughly agree. And I think, it’s — people ask me, “Have we capped out? Have we reached the pinnacle in podcasting?” And other research shows that no, we’re not even close. It feels like it, but we’re not even close. And it continues to grow exponentially, but it’s that ability to have that intimate dialogue with the person that you’re listening to than you’re thinking through because you would never had that opportunity unless you were face-to-face, like you said, having lunch or something. So, the information you’d get-
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:33:03] Or at a conference or, yeah, somewhere elsewhere where you can’t always be at all the different conferences that look good or all the different trainings that are out there.
Peter Margaritis: [00:33:11] Yeah. And the one that I listened to religiously is from the National Speakers Association called Voices of Experience. And they interview a lot of folks in my field of the speaking business coaching, authoring, so on, and so forth. And every time I get off that podcast, I pick up two or three ideas I would have never thought of if I hadn’t listened to that episode.
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:33:34] Yeah. No, it’s, I guess, one of the disadvantages of driving. Sometimes, I’ll just stop the podcast or we use copy talk for our voice dictation. But yeah, I’ll just shoot to myself a quick message, and just try to keep track of all of it, and certainly understand that we’re not going to put every good idea into practice, but just to keep a kind of a list of them, and implement them when we can.
Peter Margaritis: [00:33:59] I’ll turn that into an accounting speak. You’ve got inventory of ideas, and you never know when you’ll need to go to that inventory, and see what you can pull out of that without — if you didn’t write them down, or you didn’t find ways to generate them, then you have nothing to work from. You’ve got a blank sheet of paper. But you’ve got a list. You’ve got you’ve got the inventories of great ideas. One of those ideas may be the game changer on the problem that you’re trying to solve.
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:34:28] Yeah. And that’s part of the intent on some folks, but agreeing to give up their time to do the podcast is maybe you’re just not sure what professional or what what person to connect with just to solve that problem or to help with that pain point. It gives you a chance to interview them a little bit to hear them for anywhere from a half an hour an hour and a half, kind of talk through how they think about things. And so, I know we’ve actually searched out some different vendors and some different thought leaders just based on the podcast. We’ve reached out to them to kind of continue the dialogue.
Peter Margaritis: [00:35:05] That’s great. Anything else you’d like to share with the audience? Anything about the firm, or the type of individual, or net worth that you’re looking to bring in? We’ll use this as a plug to simply generate business for the firm.
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:35:24] Sure, yeah. I’d appreciate that. And so, yeah, we’re a little bit unique from a standpoint, a lot of our competitors have a minimum client that they want to work with. For 30 plus years we’ve been helping people, we’ve never had a minimum. So, that’s allowed us to work with some of the younger professionals that maybe aren’t to a point where they’ve built up you know half a million, a million, two million dollars in assets. But we think, hopefully, we can help them even increase the speed to get into those numbers through some different planning strategies.
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:35:58] And then, our core bread and butter is still the retiree or near retiree. And we really feel like we’ve built a good process around income planning, around risk management, and really just kind of customizing a specific solution for each of our clients. So, with a lot of the young professional crowd, and then the baby boomers that they’re building those homes for that you are not ready for yet, Pete. But, yeah, I think those are kind of the most. I think we hope about 700 families right now. And most, not all, fit into two of those categories.
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:36:38] I would just make one other comment. One area we’re seeing a lot, as the economy and the marketplace changes, is we see a lot of people that are career changers or that are doing some type of transition from the corporate world to entrepreneurial world, or vice versa, or maybe starting second or third business. And one of their pain points is financially, how do they pull this off? How did they plan for it? And so, we’ve done quite a bit of work here in the last couple years with some of those folks. There’s a really talented career coach. His office is real close to ours. And so, we’ve been able to work with her on some stuff to really get some stuff in place for these people that are in transition mode.
Peter Margaritis: [00:37:21] That’s great. And I’m not mistaken, you listened to one of my episodes. I was interviewing a CFO of a company, younger guy. And I think you
were in the area and looked him up. And I think you’re building a potential relationship with him.
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:37:38] Yeah, yeah. I know a lot of your guests are not in the Columbus area, but I was real impressed with the interview, and knew the company. It was down by — in my banking career, we were down in that area of Columbus a lot. And so, I was familiar with the company, and just reached out to him about the podcast. And I guess it was good timing because they were in a position to look for a financial advisor. And so, we’re able to connect and start working down that path.
Peter Margaritis: [00:38:06] That’s good because I recently had dinner with them, and completely slipped my mind to ask him. But the next time I see him, I am going to make sure that I make a comment to him and ask him the question. Now, I would be remiss if we didn’t as we get close to ending this thing. You mentioned earlier in the podcast, you have a young family. You have a wife and two boys?
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:38:31] Yeah, we have. Our oldest is 10, and then we have two girls, 8 and 6.
Peter Margaritis: [00:38:38] Okay. So, I was completely wrong about that. I apologize.
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:38:40] Well, now, you’re close enough.
Peter Margaritis: [00:38:43] Yeah. And your wife’s name is?
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:38:46] Julie.
Peter Margaritis: [00:38:47] And your kids names are? What are there-
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:38:49] Oh yeah. I’m sorry, yeah. Julie. And then, we have the Zs. We have Zachary, Zoe, and Zadie.
Peter Margaritis: [00:38:56] Oh, the Z. Okay, cool. Well, I do like — you’ve got a lot going on. And you’re a husband, you’re a father, you’re a partner in a firm, and part of who you are is because of the people that are not so much behind the scenes but are there when you get home. And I always like to give a shoutout to the families. It’s something new that I’ve recently started because I think, I shout out to them because they’re there to help. It’s a team effort. And on the podcast, I just like the team all recognized, and accolades go out to everyone.
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:39:40] Great. Yeeah, I’ll let Julie know. As much as I love podcasts, she’s on the other side of the spectrum. So, maybe this will actually get her to finally listen to a podcast.
Peter Margaritis: [00:39:51] I hope so. So, if somebody would like to contact you, how could they reach you?
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:39:58] Yeah. Probably best through e-mail. They could e-mail me at plovegrove@vorfin.com – that’s vorfin.com – or they can check us out at our website at vorisekfinancialcorp.com.
Peter Margaritis: [00:40:16] Great. So, if you need some help, Phil’s the man. Contact him. And Phil, I appreciate your time. I enjoyed this conversation. I look forward to the next time that we’re able to get together. I think, it’s actually over in a few weeks to get together and have lunch. But I wish you all the best of luck. And thanks again for being on podcast.
Phillip Lovegrove: [00:40:39] Yeah, thanks for having me out, Pete. I’m looking forward to seeing you and Mary here in a couple of weeks, and for all you’re doing for the profession in the Columbus community at large.
Peter Margaritis: [00:40:48] Thanks, Phil. Appreciate it.
Peter Margaritis: [00:40:52] Now, that you’ve listened to this episode, do you provide a needs-based approach in your work life? If so, how do we become better in this
approach? If not, will you develop the skills necessary to become a needs-based and hands-on personal service to your clients, customers, and employees? Either way, sit down, and devise a strategy, and work on it every single day.
Peter Margaritis: [00:41:20] Thank you for listening. And if you enjoyed the podcast, please subscribe and share this episode with a friend. And, also, remember to visit www.c-suiteradio.com to listen to many of the excellent business podcasts that they have in the network. Have a great week.
Announcer: [00:41:46] Like what you just heard, because it’s c-suiteradio.com. C-Suite Radio, turning the volume up on business.

 

Resources:

S2E28 – Amy Franko | Cultivating The Modern Seller Mindset & Skill Set

My guest today is Amy Franko, who is a strategic sales expert, author, and keynote speaker. Amy had a successful business-to-business sales career with global technology companies like IBM and Lenovo before, in 2007, she pivoted into entrepreneurship and launched the training firm Impact Instruction Group. Now, Amy works with professional service firms, helping them grow business development results and build firm leaders.

 

Amy also recently released a book, The Modern Seller, which is not a book about prospecting or negotiating skills. It’s a book that explores the five skill sets that individuals and organizations need in order to become successful. In this episode, Amy explains each one of these skill sets in great detail, focusing on how they apply to the financial service industry. However, no matter what industry you’re in, the ability for you to develop these five skill sets is crucial in the disruptive business environment that we are operating in today.

 

So, let’s dig into the five skill sets of The Modern Seller….

 

A modern seller is agile.

 

Until the last decade or so, “agility” was something that you heard about in sports and athletic training, not a business concept.

 

According to the Center for Creative Leadership, which does research on the top skills that organizations are looking to hire for and build, agility really popped onto the radar about 10 years ago. And they think that, by 2022, things like adaptability and versatility are going to be in the top five skills that organizations are looking to hire for.

 

Amy says that they are also skills that we need to be thinking about when it comes to business development and growth – because our clients are expecting that of us! They’re expecting us to show agility as professional organizations, and in order to do that, we have to be developing agility in ourselves.

 

A modern seller is entrepreneurial.

 

Whether you’re a manager, a senior manager, or someone at the highest level in your organization, look at yourself and look at the people in your firm. Do they see themselves as employees, or do they see themselves as the founder and the CEO, maybe the chief bootstrapper, in their own book of business?

 

Because there’s a big difference there. When an employee thinks of their book of business or their team’s book of business as a business itself, they make different decisions. They look at the top line and the bottom line, and they look for the best opportunities.

 

So, we want to have people in our organization that are thinking entrepreneurially because that’s what’s going to help us grow.

 

A modern seller is holistic.

 

Amy says a modern seller is holistic, in two ways.

 

The first part of being holistic is the idea that, on any given day, we have a finite amount of resources when it comes to our time, our energy, our motivation, and our discipline. The way in which we choose to invest those resources on any given day directly impacts the results we get, and it’s the sum of those daily investments that determine whether or not we achieve those long-term goals or even those short-term goals. So, we need to be looking at how we invest our time and energy on a holistic level.

 

But we also need to be holistic when it comes to working with our clients and our prospective clients. Are we looking at the way we’re building a relationship with them? Are we looking at the entire ecosystem of our partners, internal or external, to help them reach their goals?

 

So, both the modern seller and the modern business needs to be more holistic.

 

A modern seller is social.

 

Amy defines social capital as, “The collective value that our networks are able to build.” So, if we are combining our networks together in the service of a greater goal, we are creating social capital because our two networks, combined, are more powerful than us just as individuals.

 

Social capital has probably never been a line item on a P&L, and it probably never will be, but the organizations that really understand social capital, that understand the power of strategic relationships and investing intentionally in the right relationships, are going to achieve their business development goals, and any other goals, more quickly.

 

A modern seller is an ambassador.

 

The ambassador skill set, in many ways, ties together being agile, entrepreneurial, holistic, and social. Because, if we think about it in a global sense, an ambassador is someone who is a bridge between countries and cultures. We are ambassadors in much the same way. We’re ambassadors from our organizations to our clients and prospects; we are a bridge into the greater community, into our industries, and into our associations.

 

So, when we start to think of ourselves as a bridge in that way, our job becomes building those relationships and opportunities.

 

Now that you know what a modern seller is, are you ready to become one?

 

Then you’re going to need to take some action.

 

So, what’s the next step in the pursuit of becoming a modern seller for you? Which of these five skill sets have you best developed? Which of the five skill sets is your weakest? Will you build on a strategy of strengthening your weakest and leveraging your strongest?

 

Devise a strategy and work on it every single day, even if it’s just for 30 to 60 minutes. It takes baby steps in order to change a habit.

 

“You can go to a training, you can read a book, but the switch has to be in the application; applying things, trying them, failing at them, and moving forward. That’s the only way that we learn.”

 

 

Transcript:

Click to download the full Transcript PDF.

 

Amy Franko: [00:00:00] We have to change the mindset or the language around business development and sales, so that we can create a culture that we want to create.

Peter Margaritis: [00:00:07] Welcome to Change your Mindset Podcast, formerly known as Improv is No Joke, where it’s all about believing that strong communication skills are the best way in delivering your technical accounting knowledge and growing your business. An effective way of building strong communication skills is by embracing the principles of applied improvisation.

Peter Margaritis: [00:00:37] Your host is Peter Margaritis, CPA, a.k.a. the Accidental Accountant. And he will interview financial professionals and business leaders to find their secret in building stronger relationships with their clients, customers, associates, and peers, all the while growing their businesses. So, let’s start the show.

Peter Margaritis: [00:01:05] Welcome to Episode 28. And my guest today is Amy Franko, who is a strategic sales expert, and author, and a keynote speaker. Amy built a successful business-to-business sales career with global technology companies like IBM and Lenovo.

Peter Margaritis: [00:01:21] In 2007, she took a pivot into entrepreneurship and launched a training firm, Impact Instruction Group. She has successfully built a book of business that includes some of the world’s most recognized brands, such as IBM, Deloitte, and BKD CPAs.

Peter Margaritis: [00:01:40] Amy, now, works with professional service firms, helping them grow their business development results and build firm leaders. In Amy’s new book, The Modern Seller, it’s an Amazon best seller and also named 2018 Top Sales Book by Top Sales World. The Modern Seller is not a book about prospecting or negotiating skills, it’s a book that explores the five skill sets that individuals and organizations need in order to become successful. These five skill sets are: agile, entrepreneurial, holistic, social, and ambassadors.

Peter Margaritis: [00:02:19] In the interview, Amy explains each one of these skill sets in greater detail and focus her thoughts towards the financial service industry. However, no matter what industry you’re in, the ability for you to develop these five necessary skill sets is crucial in your career development in today’s disruptive business environment that we’re operating in today.

Peter Margaritis: [00:02:43] Now, before we get to the interview, Change Your Mindset is now being distributed on C-Suite Radio. And you can find Change Your Mindset, as well as many other outstanding business podcasts, on C-Suite Radio by going to www.c-suiteradio.com.

Announcer: [00:03:00] This podcast is part of the C-Suite Radio Network, turning the volume off on business.

Peter Margaritis: [00:03:05] And, now, a word from our sponsor.

Sponsor: [00:03:09] This episode is sponsored by Peter A. Margaritis LLC, a.k.a. The Accidental Accountant. Are you looking for a high-content and engaging speaker for your next conference? Do you want to deliver a story to stakeholders that will transform data dumping to engaging business conversations? Do you want to feel that the value a speaker provides your audience far exceeds the dollar value on their invoice? Then, book Peter for your next conference, management retreat, or workshop. Contact Peter at peter@petermargaritis.com and visit his website at www.petermargaritis.com. By the way, one of his Fortune 50 clients actually made the comment about the value he brings to your audience.

Peter Margaritis: [00:03:57] Now, let’s get to the interview with Amy Franko.

Peter Margaritis: [00:04:06] Hey, welcome back, everybody. I’m excited today because I got a fellow NSA Ohio, O-H-I-O, speaker with me. Welcome, Amy Franko. And thank you for taking time out on this dreary, dull, rainy Columbus Day.

Amy Franko: [00:04:23] Thank you so much for having me. And O-H.

Peter Margaritis: [00:04:28] And Amy has just published a book back in October called The Modern Seller. And that’s going to be the basis of our conversation today. But before we do that, if you can give the audience a little taste of your background, how you got to this point that you’re a well-known, highly-published author.

Amy Franko: [00:04:49] Sure. So, the cliff notes’ version of that, if you will, is that the first 10 years of my career, I spent in technology and in sales. So, I’d call it a traditional B2B selling environment. I worked for IBM and for Lenovo. And then, for the past 12 years, I took a pivot into entrepreneurship.

Amy Franko: [00:05:10] 12 years ago, I founded a learning and development company, which that’s a whole other conversation in and of itself. But for the past 12 years, I’ve been in the learning and development field. And over the past five years, really niched down and got back to my roots in sales.

Amy Franko: [00:05:27] So, what that looks like today is I work primarily in professional services and work with organizations on business development and sales training. And then, also, keynote speaking, which is how you and I crossed paths at NSA Ohio.

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:41] Exactly. So, great sales background, great companies you’ve worked for. What was it about? And so, how you came with, “I need to write this book. I need to get this out of here and onto paper”? Was there a moment, that aha moment?

Amy Franko: [00:05:55] Yeah. Yeah. You know what, I’ve always loved to write ever since I was a kid. So, I think, reading, writing, those were things I absolutely loved to do. I was the kid who spent my days simultaneously at the pool, and then I would go to the library. So, I loved reading. I loved writing. So, I think that’s always been a part of me. And I enjoy writing. I’ve always enjoyed blogging and writing short-form posts. And so, that just kind of turned into a passion or a spark of an idea of wanting to to write this book. So, I kind of say that the book was, sort of, a 20-year dream and a 20-month project.

Amy Franko: [00:06:35] The catalyst for the book though, and maybe for someone who is in the midst of they’re evolving their career or maybe changing their career, the catalyst for the book came at the time when I started to really niche down into sales and wanting to create something to build additional credibility, additional visibility in that field. So, that was part of it. Timing was a catalyst.

Amy Franko: [00:07:00] And then, as far as the material for the book, as I was doing more work with clients and sales, I was seeing this need for these skills behind the skills. So, it’s not a book about prospecting, or presenting, negotiating, closing. Lots of great resources out there, and those are still much needed skills, But I wanted to dig into the skills behind the skills.

Amy Franko: [00:07:23] So, the book gets into five skill sets or capabilities that I see individuals and organizations needing to build. So, the catalyst was part-timing, and part content, and seeing what was happening in my own clients.

Peter Margaritis: [00:07:36] What are the five that you just referenced?

Amy Franko: [00:07:39] Yeah, yeah. So, a modern seller or a modern business developer, whatever you happen to do in your firm, they are agile, they’re entrepreneurial, they’re holistic, social, and ambassadors. So, the book digs into those five, and what does it look like in your firm or with your clients. And, most importantly, I like to think of it as a field guide. How do you actually build those in yourself, or if you’re a partner, a leader, how do you build them in your team and across your organization? So, looking at it from a couple of different angles.

Peter Margaritis: [00:08:14] So, agile. When I think of that, I think of adaptability. I think of moving and grooving.

Amy Franko: [00:08:21] Definitely.

Peter Margaritis: [00:08:23] And being out there, along with entrepreneurial. And when I think entrepreneurial, I think of fear because I don’t think there’s a lot of entrepreneurs out there that doesn’t live with it, but that’s motivating kind of fear.

Amy Franko: [00:08:35] Yeah, absolutely.

Peter Margaritis: [00:08:37] How do you explain this to, let’s say, the accounting profession?

Amy Franko: [00:08:42] Yeah. So, if I were to dig into it agile, it’s a place to start. Agility is something that wasn’t even really on the radar up until maybe about 10-15 years ago. It’s something that you heard about on the sports field, agility drills, but you really didn’t hear about it in a business sense.

Amy Franko: [00:09:02] Center for Creative Leadership has done research, and they’ve continued to do research on the top skills that organizations are looking to hire for and build. And agility really popped onto the radar maybe about 10 years ago. And by 2022, what they’re saying is agility, adaptability, versatility, those are going to be top five skills that organizations are looking to hire for.

Amy Franko: [00:09:29] And I would also suggest, they are top five skills that we need to be thinking about in business development and building because our clients are expecting that of us. They’re expecting us to show agility. And so, in order to do that, we have to be building that in ourselves.

Peter Margaritis: [00:09:45] What are some of these drills that you would suggest Because one of my favorite quotes from Simon Sinek says like, “Just because you went to a leadership seminar doesn’t make you a leader.”.

Amy Franko: [00:09:57] I know, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:09:59] Yeah. You got to put in the work each and every day. It’s those drills. So, what do those drills look like? What does one need to do?

Amy Franko: [00:10:06] Yeah, yeah. And if I could come back to that Simon Sinek point for just a moment. When we were talking a little bit before we get on the podcast, this idea that you can go to a training, you can read a book, but the switch has to be in the application, and applying things, and trying them, and failing at them, and moving forward in them. That’s the only way that we learn. Leadership, business development, whatever that is.

Amy Franko: [00:10:35] So, for those who might be in a manager or a senior manager role, and you’re looking to grow to a partner level, growing to partner comes through a book of business, and making sure that we’re building a book of business.

Amy Franko: [00:10:49] So, back to your question about how do you actually build agility. So, a couple of things. One is building strategic speed. And yes, a strategic speed, I cannot take credit for that phrase. I first came across it from the Forum Corporation in some research that they’ve done, but strategic speed is the ability to work simultaneously toward the long-term and, also, creating momentum in the short-term.

Peter Margaritis: [00:11:16] Okay.

Amy Franko: [00:11:16] So, how do we build agility? Strategic speed is one of the ways that we can build agility. And I can’t take credit for that phrase. I first came across that from the Forum Corporation. And building strategic speed is simultaneously being able to work toward a long-term goal. Like, say, you’re looking at some kind of strategic initiative in the firm. Maybe it’s adding a new service line. Maybe it’s growing into a different geography vertical. That’s a long-term goal. That’s 12 plus months.

Amy Franko: [00:11:47] So, you’ve set something like that, but you also have to be able to create short-term wins, or quarterly wins, wins every six months to help you continue to build momentum toward the goal. So, it’s simultaneous. It’s almost looking in two directions: long term and short term. So, that’s one way we can build agility.

Peter Margaritis: [00:12:05] And you said a word. And it’s a four-letter F word, fail.

Amy Franko: [00:12:12] Yeah, right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:12:15] And nobody likes to fail, nobody, but that’s the only way we learn. And kind of like an DNA of a CPA and an accountant is failure is not an option.

Amy Franko: [00:12:27] No.

Peter Margaritis: [00:12:28] But that’s what changing their mindset is it’s okay to fail. It hurts, it doesn’t feel comfortable, but remember what you did, and try not to do that again, or try to look at it from a different angle, but the key is don’t give up.

Amy Franko: [00:12:48] Yeah. And I didn’t specifically say this when you asked me to share about my background but as people probably picked up on, I don’t have a CPA, accounting, finance background, whatsoever. So, even coming into this type of environment and building a book of business and professional services, there is a fair amount of failure that goes along with that.

Amy Franko: [00:13:13] And one of the things that I’ve picked up in my conversations with CPA firms is the idea that, sometimes, failure can be seen as, “If I make a mistake here, I may not be the trusted advisor in my clients’ and my prospective clients’ eyes, and we’re trusted to get everything right.” And so, if something doesn’t go according to plan, maybe you’re out there growing that new geography, growing that new vertical. If something doesn’t go according to plan, then we can internalize it, and we take it as a huge failure, but we’re not willing to take the risk again. And we have to be able to get past that.

Peter Margaritis: [00:13:51] Yeah. You got to get back on the horse if you get thrown off. And it hurts. I mean, we all know how it feels, but it feels so much better when we do succeed and, actually, see it through than given up at that point and walking away.

Amy Franko: [00:14:08] Yeah. So, sometimes, the things that don’t go right, the failures — and failure is not — nothing’s ever an absolute success or an absolute failure. There are things that go well and don’t go well about everything that we try. But part of agility is being able to pull the lessons out of that, and then you keep those lessons, and kind of let the other stuff go, and those lessons start to become your experience for the next time you’re faced with a situation that is completely unrelated. So, being able to apply our experiences to a new situation and figuring out what to do, that’s also agility.

Peter Margaritis: [00:14:45] Okay. So, talk about entrepreneur.

Amy Franko: [00:14:48] Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, the idea behind a modern seller being an entrepreneur, being entrepreneurial is if you are — so, whether you’re manager, senior manager, you’re someone partner level, at the highest level in your firm, look at yourself or look at the people in your firm. Do they see themselves as employees, or do they see themselves as the founder and the CEO, maybe the chief bootstrapper, in their own book of business? Because that’s a real different way of thinking.

Amy Franko: [00:15:21] When you think of your book of business or your team’s book of business as a business, you make different decisions. You’re looking at the top line, you’re looking at the bottom line, you’re looking at your best opportunities. You’re not just looking in what’s right in front of you. You’re looking at the much bigger picture, and you make your decisions differently. So, we want to have people in our organization that are thinking entrepreneurially because that’s what’s going to help us grow.

Peter Margaritis: [00:15:48] I’ve always said to partners and firms, when you have a new hire, and they come in, their cubicles, their area that’s their shop. And the more that you can get them to realize that the revenue and the cost associated with that, by the time they get to the manager, they’ll be further ahead than where we are now.

Peter Margaritis: [00:16:09] But part of the reluctance of doing that is I’ve heard from other parties, “But we don’t want to tell them everything.” You don’t have to tell them everything, but taking time enough to get started, and as they move up that line, the thought process of an owner, the thought process of an entrepreneur makes you more vested in what you’re doing than just, “I’m here just to collect a check.”

Amy Franko: [00:16:34] Yeah, yeah. And the more — so, to that point, the earlier on in their time with you that they can be involved in opportunities, go on business development calls, be a part of RFPs and pursuits if that’s something that’s part of what you do, the earlier they get involved in that, the more exposure they get to the business as a whole, and they see that business as a whole, and they start to be given that opportunity to start thinking like that owner.

Amy Franko: [00:17:06] The other piece on that transparency part, I can understand reluctance to, sometimes, share everything that goes on behind the scenes, warts and all, right. But part of engagement and part of retaining that top talent is having a level of transparency that they really understand all the good, maybe some of the things that aren’t working so well in the business because they may have your next awesome idea that’s going to fix that problem or catapult the business forward. And we need to give them the opportunity to develop those skills.

Peter Margaritis: [00:17:42] Exactly. And if they take the mindset of, “I’m investing into my people,” versus “What’s this training going to cost?” as well as — I still think — and I think you’d agree with me that when you think of business, when we go, and speak, and do workshops and stuff, that’s an event for us. We’re there, we’re gone. Now, it’s the responsibility of the organization to see it through and not revert. It’s so easy to revert back to the rut that we’ve been in because this is new, and hard, and different. Senior management, partners, whomever, have to be accountable to keep the message moving forward in order for it to be a success.

Amy Franko: [00:18:24] Right. That’s the reinforcement piece. And every time I am doing a speaking engagement, a keynote, or any kind of maybe longer-term learning initiative, it’s figuring out the most important ways to help them retain and reinforce, so that they can take it beyond that day. And I’m helping them to make sure that it’s getting embedded into their culture.

Peter Margaritis: [00:18:48] Yeah, exactly. I believe the third one you mentioned was holistic.

Amy Franko: [00:18:53] Yeah, yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:18:54] Holistic.

Amy Franko: [00:18:55] Yeah. There is one thing that you said that I wanted to come back to and make a point on. And this is something I’ve started to do for myself. It’s the language between cost and investment. And I’ve started to think for myself, instead of using the word cost for something, “This costs X number of dollars. This costs x amount of time,” it’s thinking about it in terms of an investment. I mean, “I’m choosing to invest this amount of time. I’m choosing to invest this financially.”

Amy Franko: [00:19:28] And that flip of the switch has helped me to think a little differently about the decisions that I’m making about where I’m investing my time and where I’m investing my financial resources. And I would encourage anyone in any role in a CPA firm to start thinking about these types of skills as investments versus costs and seeing if that language change helps propel you forward.

Peter Margaritis: [00:19:54] Oh, it will. It will. And I remember who introduced that concept to me, Steve Gilliland. And it served me well. And I share that with other CPAs about get rid of the word cost. It’s negative. It’s the investment. I believe the third one of the five is holistic, which I’m still trying to get my mind about what you mean by that, holistic.

Amy Franko: [00:20:22] Yeah. So, it really takes — I look at it two ways in this particular capability. So, the first part of holistic is this idea that, in any given day, we have a finite amount of resources when it comes to our time, our energy, our motivation, and our discipline. The way in which we choose to invest those resources on any given day directly impacts our business development results, whatever results it is that we happen to be going for, business development or otherwise. And it’s the sum of those daily investments that determine whether or not we get those long-term goals or even those short-term goals. So, that’s the one way that I look at holistic in the book.

Amy Franko: [00:21:11] The other way is holistic when it comes to working with our clients and our prospective clients. And are we looking at the way we’re building a relationship with them? Holistic, are we looking at it holistically in the sense of mapping their buying expectations to the way that we happen to develop business? Are we looking at the entire ecosystem of our partners’ internal or external to help them reach their goals? So, it’s a personal look and a business look.

Peter Margaritis: [00:21:43] Okay, got it. You keeping saying the word “business development.”.

Amy Franko: [00:21:45] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:21:47] And I was a banker at one point in my life, and that was my favorite part of the job was the actual business development, but it also scares people because, now, oh God, that’s networking.

Amy Franko: [00:22:01] It’s sales.

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:01] It’s sales and networking, and those words that we really like. And I ask them about networking, and do they like networking, most people don’t. And I look them square in the eyes and say, “I blame your mother.” And they look at me like, “What?” “So, what did your mother always tell you? Never talk to-”

Amy Franko: [00:22:21] Strangers.

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:22] Right.

Amy Franko: [00:22:23] Right, that’s right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:24] But there’s no such thing as a stranger in a business environment. They’re just potential opportunities.

Amy Franko: [00:22:32] Yep. And I like to think of business developments, sales, whatever we happen to call it, we have to build cultures, a sales culture, a business development culture in our firms if we’re going to continue to be successful today and into the future. And I like to think of business development as creating the right relationships. So, to your point, networking.

Amy Franko: [00:22:56] And, also, looking at it as I am helping my professional services clients solve some of their biggest challenges. I’m a problem solver and a trusted advisor, I’m someone who’s strategic to their business. And what I bring is valuable. And we’re creating a mutually valuable relationship. We have to change that mindset or the language around business development and sales, so that we can create the culture that we want to create.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:22] And the only way we can become better at business development, better at sales is do it every single day. This is the-

Amy Franko: [00:23:28] I love it.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:28] This is the pot calling the kettle black. I will be transparent. It is. This is something that I’m working on every single day as an entrepreneur. I should be working on content. When I’m working on content, I should be able to do marketing. It’s-

Amy Franko: [00:23:42] I know.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:42] But without the marketing, you’ll have the opportunities, so I won’t need the content. And it’s a key challenge to change that mindset but do it in small baby steps.

Amy Franko: [00:23:54] And to that point, one of the things that’s helped me is, now, I have CRM tools. I am actually looking at my desk. I have a good, old, handwritten notepad here with my prospecting list on it. And if we can invest as little as 30 to 60 minutes a day, if you have more, great, but to your point of baby steps, if we can block out 30 to 60 minutes a day of true focus on business development, we’re going to make progress. If we can block two hours a day on business development, we’ll make even more progress.

Amy Franko: [00:24:32] The idea – and this is around the holistic of where we’re investing our time, energy, discipline, motivation – is finding where we have the most energy in a given day and blocking our most important activities for those times of the day.

Peter Margaritis: [00:24:48] Exactly. And I’m doing a better job at it, and we all should do a better job at where do we invest that time, and what are we most productive. I feel, when I was writing the book, most productive comes first thing in the morning. So, that’s when I would write. I’m still doing some writing but, now, that first part of the morning, I invest in, okay, my marketing efforts, and what do I need to be doing because, then, I have the energy. Then, in the afternoon, I’ll do the other boring, tedious stuff.

Peter Margaritis: [00:25:14] Now, I was able to download a chapter from your book, and it was this fourth one on social. And I will say when I saw the word social, “Is she going down the social media path?” I’m going. But as I was reading through, you are not go down the social media path. So, it was very interesting. So, talk about social.

Amy Franko: [00:25:35] I get that reaction a lot is, “Oh, I’m ready for a whole section on social selling or social media.” And one of the things I really tried to steer clear of in the book was too much technology talk. Technology tools are enablers in a good way, I should say. They are enablers. And when we know the goals that we’re looking to accomplish, the relationships that we’re looking to build, the tools are out there to help us reach those goals. But I purposefully tried to steer clear of specific technology and tools for that reason because the tools always change.

Peter Margaritis: [00:26:14] Right.

Amy Franko: [00:26:14] The idea behind the social capability or the social dimension of the Modern Seller is social capital is never going to have a line item on a P&L. I don’t think it will anyway. I’ve never seen it. But the idea behind it is that individuals and organizations that really understand social capital – and I’ll give it a definition here in a moment – they really understand social capital, they understand the power of strategic relationships and investing intentionally in the right relationships because that’s going to help them accelerate their business development goals, any other goals. And you do it in a much more rewarding, impactful way when you approach a relationship-building with intention, and you’re very strategic about it.

Amy Franko: [00:27:02] And if I could give it a working definition to social capital, I see social capital as the collective value that our networks are able to build. So, I have a network. You, Peter, have a network. If we are combining our networks together in the service of a greater goal, we are creating social capital because our two networks are combined, are more powerful than us just as individuals.

Peter Margaritis: [00:27:31] Exactly. And so, how do you do that? Because I always look at you want to put the right people in your network. There is always somebody who I wanted to meet that I hadn’t met. So, I was always having to try to find someone for the introduction, or if I happened to be in an event that they were there, I would walk up, introduce myself, and try to start up a little bit of a conversation, and then follow up, and continue that have a drip, drip, drip campaign to build that relationship, to build that trust within the relationship. But once again, there’s no [indiscernible]. It just takes time. And a lot of times, we don’t have time.

Amy Franko: [00:28:09] Right, or we see that it takes time, and then we make a choice about whether or not we want to continue making that time investment. We have the time. It’s just choosing where we invest the time. But, yes, for really strong relationships, I would say that you can create good value in a short amount of time if you have the right intention and you know what’s important to them. And sure, we have to build that that longer-term trust over time.

Peter Margaritis: [00:28:45] Yes. And I want to go down a little different path with this because-

Amy Franko: [00:28:49] Yeah, sure.

Peter Margaritis: [00:28:51] … when we said invest, that’s part of the holistic aspect. So, I see how this is all tied in together. But getting the attention of folks who are protective prospects within business, and sometimes it’s hard to get past that gatekeeper. I’ve been challenging a lot of folks these days to when’s the last time they wrote an article on their expertise and had it published in some journal, some accounting journal, or in a newsletter within your organization to highlight yourself?

Peter Margaritis: [00:29:24] I had a former student of mine who has worked for Deloitte. She was on the tax side. When she got a new job, and she was writing, it was getting published in Business First. I’m like, “Holy cow.”

Amy Franko: [00:29:31] Great.

Peter Margaritis: [00:29:33] And then, we reconnected.

Amy Franko: [00:29:35] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:29:35] So, that’s another way. And to the point of I wanted to try to find somebody, there was a partner, and there was a firm called WithumSmith+Brown, and I wanted to meet somebody in that firm. I don’t know anybody in the firm, but I saw that one of the parties writes an article for Accounting Today. So, I got to them, I sent them e-mails, and I read, and just trying to get that door open, and it worked.

Amy Franko: [00:30:01] Yeah. And know, those are great door openers. I’m thinking of a prospect meeting that I have later this week that I was introduced to through Association for Accounting Marketing because I’ve done quite a bit of work for that association. I’ve done webinars, I’ve published articles, I’ve spoken at their conferences. So, I have, hopefully, proven my value by being part of that association. And then, an introduction was made for me by that association to this firm. And I would have never been able to open a door that quickly on my own, but that door was opened for me through a trusted relationship.

Amy Franko: [00:30:45] Now, that does not mean we’re going to necessarily do business together. It is simply an introduction for a conversation to understand more about what is it that they’re looking to accomplish. Could I be the right person? If so, great. Let’s continue the conversation. If not, maybe there’s someone in my network I can introduce them to. And that right there, if having your network and being willing to leverage your network in the service of others, that will keep the door open — that will open a door and keep it open every time.

Peter Margaritis: [00:31:15] Exactly. And I try to do that as well. If I’m not the right fit, do I know somebody who could be? Let me give you a referral.

Amy Franko: [00:31:22] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:31:24] So, last but not least is of the five?

Amy Franko: [00:31:27] Ambassador.

Peter Margaritis: [00:31:29] Ambassador. So, is this the one that’s going to tie all the other four together in, or is this just a thread that runs through all?

Amy Franko: [00:31:39] I think it’s a little bit of the “Yes and.” There is a — I love that [indiscernible].

Peter Margaritis: [00:31:46] Yeah, I love it. Yeah.

Amy Franko: [00:31:46] So, this one, it absolutely stands independently, but there is a thread. I would say that ambassador, in many ways, ties together agile, entrepreneurial, holistic, and social. Someone who is an ambassador, if we think about an ambassador in a global sense, an ambassador is someone who is a bridge between countries and cultures. We are ambassadors in much the same way. We’re ambassadors from our organizations to our clients and prospects. We are a bridge into the greater community, into our industries, into our associations.

Amy Franko: [00:32:30] So, when we start to think of ourselves as a bridge in that way, our job is to build those relationships, build those opportunities. Something that an ambassador is really, really good at, they are really great at being able to embody the values of their firm, but they also stand really uniquely tall in their own expertise, their own brand, something that makes them unique and stand out. They do not fall into the world of sameness. They absolutely stand out, but they embody the values of their firm too. And it makes them so valuable to the firm, to their prospects and clients, to the industry, et cetera.

Peter Margaritis: [00:33:14] So, thinking about the ambassador and how you describe it, it’s that visibility aspect. And I think a great way that’s underutilized about this ambassadorship is called volunteering or being part of a not-for-profit board, or volunteering at your state CPA society or association. And meeting everybody, but then building your brand, building that ambassadorship and thought leadership to a whole new level.

Amy Franko: [00:33:50] Absolutely. So, finding those organizations where you can stand out, and you can contribute. And I always try to challenge myself, for any organization that I want to contribute more to, what’s the highest profile, most impactful committee that I can find? And can I become a part of that? So, that’s absolutely one way that I look to grow my brand, and it’s through that association involvement.

Amy Franko: [00:34:18] And there’s a kind of a fine line. There’s so many associations that we can become a part of. And so, I kind of segment mine. I think about the ones where I am joining because it’s for my professional development. And then, I look at the ones, yeah, they’re still going to have a professional development piece to it, but I look at the ones that I can also say, “All right. Can this association, if I really provide value, can I become more visible to organizations that I’d like to do business with? Can I leverage it for business development?”

Amy Franko: [00:34:57] So, when I segment my organizations in that way, that helps me make better decisions about where I’m going to invest extra time to volunteer. If it gets back to being holistic, we have a finite amount of resources in a given day, and we have to be selective about where we’re investing those resources.

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:16] So, let me just sum up what I heard. Amy Franko is going to be the new president of the National Speakers Association Ohio chapter in the future.

Amy Franko: [00:35:26] Is that what you heard?

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:28] That’s exactly what I heard.

Amy Franko: [00:35:30] Did you all hear that if you’re listening? Did you hear anything?

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:32] I’m going to make sure that everybody at the chapter hears this.

Amy Franko: [00:35:39] I love it.

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:40] You would be an excellent, excellent president.

Amy Franko: [00:35:43] Thank you. I appreciate that.

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:47] Gosh. I’ve just — I mean — but you are investing. When you said professional development, you are investing that time into the organization, into the association, and to always continue to hone our skills. And I’ll tell you what, there’s no better place, If you ever do anything like we do – keynotes, training, or whatever – National Speakers Association around the country is a great place to invest your time into because that return on that investment is huge.

Amy Franko: [00:36:19] It’s such a high-caliber organization. I totally agree. And your last point about the return on investment, taking some time to think about what would you like that return on your investment to be for yourself, so that you can make choices about how to best invest your time.

Amy Franko: [00:36:38] I’ll use a quick example of something that has really helped me to develop business over time. And I think it falls well into the ambassador capability. I was part of the Association for Talent Development for a number of years. I still am. But at one time, I was very heavily invested locally, and I had created a couple of leadership forums.

Amy Franko: [00:37:00] And I ran these forums quarterly for a number of years, and I would use it as an opportunity to invite decision makers and leaders in my given spaces to come together as a networking opportunity and an educational opportunity for them. It was invitation-only, they had to be of a certain level in their organization, and there was no selling involved whatsoever. This is an idea anybody could adapt no matter what industry you’re in.

Amy Franko: [00:37:27] And I would bring these people together once a quarter over lunch. I would bring topics of interest to them. I would pull them, and I’d bring topics of interest to them. And that’s what we spent the time doing for 90 minutes once a quarter. Not once did I ever pitch my services or myself, but I can’t tell you how valuable it was for relationship-building, allowing these people to create their own networks with one another, and problem-solve with one another.

Amy Franko: [00:37:54] And it came back to me in spades in so many ways. Relationships, it did come back to me in terms of business development, business opportunities. So, that kind of winds a number of those dimensions together. It’s just one idea.

Peter Margaritis: [00:38:10] Yes, it does. You’ve just described something that’s been in the back of my head for a year.

Amy Franko: [00:38:15] Yeah?

Peter Margaritis: [00:38:16] Yeah. And, actually, I have thought about doing something very similar to that, to getting a group of partners and firms, and then also CFOs on meeting quarterly, but not as partners, and then the CFOs, and the partners, and the CFOs. And I’ve actually explored that idea. And I appreciate you bringing it up because I’d like to do a list again. It’s just that investment of time. But I will have to ask your advice on that when we’re done.

Amy Franko: [00:38:50] Yes, absolutely.

Peter Margaritis: [00:38:51] And what I was trying to accomplish. So, as we begin to wrap up, how do you put a nice bow on top of your book?

Amy Franko: [00:39:00] Yeah. So, how do I put a bow on it? So, one of the things, as I was writing the book and doing the research for the book, and this is very much a learning and development principle, we tend to learn in — I call it modular. We tend to learn in a way that’s modular, and we want things to build off of one another. So, anything that you learn, and then you pick up a new skill, you want those things to connect together.

Amy Franko: [00:39:24] So, the way that I wrote the book is that it’s in these five unique sections or dimensions. And as you were thinking about this conversation today, which one of those five really stands out to you the most? So, if you’re listening in to this, which one of those five caught your attention the most? That’s where I always recommend to start because when you start there, you’ll start to see other — you’ll start to see improvements in some of the other dimensions as well, So, that’s how I like to put the bow on it in terms of learning and development.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:00] So, the one that stuck out to me, and I’ll resonate on as well is the holistic side because that was probably the big surprise at how you described it. It wasn’t what I was expecting, but I’m a big believer in that investment and that time. So, where can they find the book, The Modern Seller?

Amy Franko: [00:40:22] Yeah. So, if you go to amyfranko.com, you can find everything that you need about the book. You can download a free chapter. And it’s also available on Amazon hardcover, Kindle, and in about 60 days, audible.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:37] So, let me just say it, Amy Franko, and it’s F-R-A-N-K-O, just to make sure everybody gets that, dot com. And I’m looking forward to seeing it come out in audible. And so, did you read it?

Amy Franko: [00:40:52] I did, yeah. I was the narrator. And after talking to a number of authors who had maybe they narrated it themselves or they outsourced the narration to a person, they all said, “Make sure to narrate your own book as the author. It’s your connection to your audience.” So, the narration out there is me.

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:14] Yeah, I narrated my book a couple of years ago, but I never uploaded to audible. It was shown up on my website, but I’ve decided the book has been out there so long, I’m going to launch it in audible, but I think I got it planned by June, the first book.

Amy Franko: [00:41:29] Okay, that’s exciting.

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:30] Well, congratulations on that. Thank you so very much, Amy.

Amy Franko: [00:41:33] Thank you.

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:34] I’m really excited about this book. I’d like to say, if you want to to get a hold of Amy, go to her website, amyfranko.com, everything you need. You can e-mail her. And I wish you all the best of luck and, hopefully, see you at a future NSA Ohio meeting.

Amy Franko: [00:41:49] Thank you, Peter. I appreciate it.

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:55] Now, that you listened to this episode, what are your next steps in the pursuit of becoming a modern seller? What are the five skill sets have you fully developed? Which of the five skill sets is your weakest? Will you build a strategy in strengthening your weakest and leveraging your strongest? Well, now is the time for action. Devise a strategy and work on it every single day. It takes baby steps in order to change a habit.

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:26] So, thank you for listening. And if you’re enjoying the podcast, please subscribe and share this episode with a friend. Also please visit www.c-suiteradio.com to listen to many of the excellent podcasts that they have in their network.

Announcer: [00:42:49] Like what you just heard? Because it’s c-suiteradio.com. C-Suite Radio, turning the volume up on business.

 

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