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Best of 2023 from the Virtual CPA Success Show

Published by Summit Marketing Team on 22 Feb 2024

Before you indulge on turkey and pumpkin pie this week, join us in reliving some of our favorite guests and business insights from 2023! In addition to sharing their Thanksgiving traditions Joey Kinney and Hannah Hood fill in to introduce highlights from previous episodes of the show. In this “best of” feature, you’ll catch advice from agency owners and thought leaders, such as David C. Baker and Tom O’Neil. Topics discussed range from AI and marketing to challenges of agency burnout and the value of lifelong learning in business.


intro (00:00:00) - Welcome to the Virtual CPA Success Show for Creative Agencies, the go to resource for agency owners looking to scale their business. Join us every week to stay ahead of the curve and position your agency for future success.

Joey (00:00:15) - So, Hannah, I know it's been a couple of years since both you and I were in school, but you remember like that one day a semester when you'd have the substitute teacher and they'd come, like, wheeling the VCR, like on the big thing, and you're like, oh, yes. We are watching movies in class today.

Hannah (00:00:31) - Yay! Yes.

Joey (00:00:32) - Do you remember that? Yeah. This is not this is not like that. But it's kind of close. Uh, we for the uninitiated. I'm Joey Kenney, that's Hannah Hood. We are the. I guess you could call us the hosts. You know, one third to one half of the young CPA success show, an Anders CPA production. And we're going to step in today and do some hosting today for Jamie and Jody and the crew here on the virtual CPA Success show to kind of get some fun content during Thanksgiving week, because as you as you know, sometimes the teachers need to take vacations too.

Joey (00:01:12) - And that's kind of what's going on with scheduling and getting everybody in the same room. So one of the things we love to do on our podcast, we're going to bring today is just tell some personal stories and just talk a little bit as, as friends. And with it being Thanksgiving week, I kind of want to know from you, Hannah, what what big like if you have any big Thanksgiving traditions that you look forward to every year.

Hannah (00:01:36) - Yeah. So our family has this tradition that's relatively new. But for Thanksgiving, my mom a couple of years ago decided that she wanted to do just more than us eating together. So she planned out some minute to win it style games for us. And the first year we did it, my brother and my husband on his wife were just kind of like, really? But then we just learned how competitive we all are, and it has become a tradition that we look forward to in terms of the minute to win it, sell games, see who's going to win.

Hannah (00:02:08) - She'll get us prizes and things of that nature. So it's a ton of fun and it's something that now we look forward to as a family on Thanksgiving. What about you, Joey? Do you have any. Well, Thanksgiving tradition.

Joey (00:02:20) - Well, first I've got I've got some follow ups here. Number one okay. Has anybody gotten in a fight because of the minute to win a game?

Hannah (00:02:28) - Borderline. Me and my husband.

Joey (00:02:33) - Oh. Okay. So internal fighting that actually makes that actually makes sense. We're not allowed to have game. My wife and I are not allowed to be on the same team. Because.

Hannah (00:02:41) - Exactly.

Joey (00:02:41) - That's why bad things happen. Fisticuffs ensue. Okay. And then what year number is this on the tradition?

Hannah (00:02:49) - This will be year 3.

Joey (00:02:50) - I'll see you. Yeah. We used to joke. If you do it more than two years, it's a tradition. So, you know, this is year 3.

Hannah (00:02:55) - There you go. We've made it. Yeah.

Joey (00:02:58) - We are a little bit nuts. We are that family that for whatever reason, just wants to go running on Thanksgiving Day. Don't know. I don't remember how this started, but it started back when we lived in Texas in like 2017, and I think we were training for something or something was going on and we were like, hey, do you want to just run a turkey track? Yeah, well, might as well make us feel better. And we won't feel as guilty about going to grandma's house and stuffing our face. And so that that was six years ago, and we've done one every year, including the one year that it snowed here in Albuquerque on Thanksgiving. It snowed like eight inches. And so we had to do a virtual five K from the garage that day because it was too snowy to go out. So that's the big tradition here. And then we always do like non-traditional food. I think this year we're doing like shepherd's pie I think is what we're making for Thanksgiving dinner.

Joey (00:03:49) - So just a little a little bit different, but for the most part kind of all the same. And then is it really Thanksgiving? Until the Cowboys lose that football game. Which every year just breaks my heart and I get my hopes up and I'm like, this is the year we're not going to lose on Thanksgiving Day, and we lose every year.

Hannah (00:04:09) - Yeah, exactly. Well, you know, us and our football veins run very deep in this family. So for us, it's Ole Miss and Mississippi State play on Thanksgiving Day. Yeah. Every year. So that's another part of our tradition is we're going to watch it as a family. And it's always a toss up in terms of who's going to win.

Joey (00:04:26) - There was one year a few years ago, I remember there was a certain endzone celebration where I was like, this game is unhinged. Yeah. So it's always high quality television.

Hannah (00:04:35) - It is quite entertaining.

Joey (00:04:37) - I also love the I'm a big college basketball fan and watching the Maui Invitational basketball games like the week before, because I always do it like the Monday through Wednesday before.

Joey (00:04:47) - And this is like the first year since college, and I'm really going to just have some time to watch some basketball the first part of the week. So that's always a good time, is that, you know, I think the game started like noon my time and it's like, man, all afternoon just watching hoops and getting ready to eat food and putting up all the all the holiday lights. And you know, we try not to do Black Friday shopping at that. Speaking of, fisticuffs like that usually isn't a good way to. Get it, get it started. So it's gotten to be too much for me.

Hannah (00:05:18) - Yeah, it is a little too much and there's so much that goes on online anyway, so I'd just rather be home. But speaking of food, something that y'all are going to get today in this compilation of episodes is what we likened to a charcuterie board. Pre meal. Pre meal is what you're going to get in these clips of the best of the VCPA. I messed that up.

Hannah (00:05:43) - See, this isn't even our show. I'm thinking the virtual CPA show. Is that what this is? That's what we're doing here.

Joey (00:05:51) - We should. We should have just played a movie producer. Rob. Yeah, it is the virtual success show, and there's going to be a lot of fun ones. Some little tidbits here and there from all the stuff we've done this year. You know, in terms of there's going to be some great stuff for agency owners. There's going to be some great stuff from thought leaders. And, you know, folks that we've talked about throughout the year, you're going to see plenty of Jody. You're going to see plenty of Jamie. I think I might be on a couple of these. Maybe we'll see kind of how that how that plays out on the show. But the idea behind it is we're going to give you some little morsels here. Little charcuterie board, just a little something to nibble on while you're thinking. And then if you ever decide you, you know, that sounds interesting or I'd love to learn a little bit more about that.

Joey (00:06:31) - All of these are from our archive, which is available on the podcast app of your choice. They're also available on YouTube, like subscribe, unsubscribe, resubscribe, all of the things. It all helps, I promise. It all helps and makes a difference. And yeah, we just hope you all enjoy the, you know, the quiet week and spend some time kind of recharging with your families and maybe listen to some podcasts as well. And we're looking forward to catching you all with your regularly scheduled, more traditional content after the break.

David C. Baker (00:07:04) - Some people really view their business in the creative field as it's sort of like Norm, you know, when he got a job at a brewery. From cheers, Norm from cheers. And he they hand him a paycheck after the first two weeks and he looks at it and says, what's this? I didn't know I was getting a paycheck, you know, and he's hugging the vats every morning. I think some creative folks are just so thrilled to be, to find clients who pay them for something that their expectations are lower, right? Whereas the really successful ones view themselves as a professional service.

David C. Baker (00:07:40) - They're an architect, an engineer, a CPA, a lawyer, or somebody in the creative field, and they don't feel like they have to make a compromise in terms of how much money they make.

Jamie (00:07:51) - Yeah, I think it's been fun to see companies go through that business maturity. Like you said, when you first when you're first doing your thing, you're like, oh wow, people are people are paying me for this and this is fun. This is what I've always wanted to do. And then, you know, by the time we first meet with them and then, you know, two years later, you can see the questions they're asking and how well they understand their business and all these parts of it. So you want to kind of talk about that path from that point where your point A, you're like, oh, this is I just love what I do, two point kind of C, D or Z or whatever it is, but you're like, oh, wow, I really understand my business.

David C. Baker (00:08:20) - Yeah. And I try to come up with ways that help them in a very simplistic way, figure out where they are. So I wrote an article recently about, if you want one single metric to figure out how your firm is doing, here are the eight options. And here are the pros and cons of each. And then I landed on one and I said, listen, here's the simplest one. Your fee billings per full time equivalent employee and 85% of firms are stuck in that 150 to 160 range. And once they see that, they're stuck there and how to improve that, all of a sudden the light comes on and they think about their business very differently. I think finance needs to be viewed as a way to tell a story, an interesting story that you can shape by doing things differently.

Jody (00:09:09) - It's kind of funny you mention that because when we bring a client on, the first thing we do is we put together a really in-depth forecasting model for them. And it's not one of those deals where you just said at the beginning of the year and you look at the end of the year and say, how did I do compared to that, that mystical number that I made up, you know, 12 months ago? It's one of those very robust things.

Jody (00:09:29) - It's very dynamic. Every month we're changing it based on what life is and what life happens to them. And the key is it's not just simply saying, hey, we're going to increase our revenue by 10% or 15%, or we're going to miraculously increase our bottom line by, you know, to 25 or 30% or where we should be. It's really breaking it down to the non financials. Right. You know. Hey how many you know. You know what do we have to do. How many people do we have to have. What. You know what's our billable rate. You know all the different non-financial metrics that they actually have control over to be able to make those decisions. And a lot of folks are like, wow, no one's ever brought it or broken it down. That’s simple for me to understand that I just can't miraculously hit a goal by saying and, you know, saying, you know, by labeling, hey, we're going to hit that 10% number. And it's kind of funny how many folks, you know, actually achieve or nearly achieve those numbers when they have that financial plan and forecasts put in front of them.

Jody (00:10:23) - And I'm assuming that's kind of where you're getting at with, with that. Is that you really can't just simply it's got to be based on you got to break it down to the non-financial, I guess is the big key.

David C. Baker (00:10:34) - Right. And somebody at the firm here, I'm assuming there's more than one partner, but at least one of the partners has to think that their one of their primary jobs is to understand and impact the financial performance of the firm. I mean, that's job one that's even more important than culture. It's more important than new business. And once you get that done, then and you may need outside help with that, obviously, then you can move on to these other things. But if the firm isn't performing, it doesn't matter how good your new business plan is. You won't need one.

Jamie (00:11:09) - No. Think the interesting thing you mentioned that that one metric. And think that for our for our listeners. What like what you said there is that finance is about storytelling. And so that's what I'm trying to train.

Jamie (00:11:20) - My CFOs and our team on all the time is when you're sitting into a financial statement meeting, you need to be able to tell someone what the story of this month was. And it's not. You don't want to be boring with it. You want to say, this is what happened this month and this is how next month can be better. So think that's I work with financial professionals on telling that story. But if I'm listening to this and I'm a small firm and can't really afford a financial professional, how would I go about looking for that story each month of the financials or each quarter? How often should do it?

David C. Baker (00:11:47) - Hmm. I the first piece of advice I'd give somebody listening in those shoes would be to figure out how you process information, and then adapt it to a way that makes sense to you so that you can get excited about it. Right? Like, and everybody, everybody has a really weird way to do that. Like, mine is sort of a mcaboy. I just think months to live.

David C. Baker (00:12:09) - So I add up what's in the bank, what's in savings, what's in accounts receivable. Divide that by what my monthly nut is. And I said, okay, got nine months to live, 11 months to live. And then I just track that. Right. So as long as it's basically on track, come up with something that works for you and then make this a part of how you think all the time, right? And report on it. Employees don't care that much about financial performance of your firm unless it isn't there. Then they start caring. But you have to care about it, right? And you've got to see far ahead because you've got to make really tough decisions. And in this industry, those tough decisions are almost always about people. They're not about facility or contractors because most of your expenses are with people. And those are really painful to make.

Simon S (00:13:00) - There is not one right or wrong commission structure. Just find the one that motivates your people. And it might even change over time.

Joey (00:13:10) - One you could. You could also end up having different commission structures for different people. I think that's an important thing. You don't have to, you know, if you have one person who does want to do the hunting and that person wants to be on a high commission structure, great. That can be very different from your project manager or ops manager, who is going to be more in charge of some of those gathering type things, finding existing opportunities within your client base so it doesn't have to be a one size fits all?

Simon S (00:13:38) - Absolutely. No. We have different setters, so we have setters and closers. We are also an agency. So we have setters and closers. The setters start the conversation and bring it to up to a booking a meeting on the calendar. The closers take it from the calendar. And. And we have different structures inside of the setters team. We have different structures because different personality types and also the closers have a different structure. Depending on seniority, personality type and what's best for them to perform their highest ability.

Joey (00:14:17) - So when thinking about obviously like we've, now built we've built a system, we've created an identity as a sales team. What sort of things need to happen in presentation in order to either because I think you could have the best system in the world, but if you're not presenting it properly, you're not properly. And I love the way you talked about it earlier, where we're looking at things and outcomes, like if we can get away from our clients seeing this as a cost and then seeing us as an investment because we're presenting our value properly, we're going to increase the odds that we're going to have a successful outcome with them. What sort of things are you looking for in presentation?

Simon S (00:14:54) - You mean I'm in front of the client and they are asked. They want to work with us and we start presenting what we do. Okay.

Joey (00:15:00) - Exactly. Yeah.

Simon S (00:15:01) - Okay. So the first step is don't present. Don't present. I see still agencies presenting. Ten minutes. Five minutes. One minute is too much.

Simon S (00:15:16) - So I show you what I do in order to not present. Because I like to talk. And if you ask me, hey, how can you double my revenue? My natural impulse would be to talk for an hour. And that's the wrong thing, right? We measure talking time in the sales course because, you know, zoom, etcetera. They have I mean while so you can live see. And our goal is to be below 31% speaking time. So we we track that. And in the weekly sessions we talk about it. If anybody is below 31%. Hey let's talk. And my helper. So if you are like me and you talk a lot, my helper is to have a list of questions in front of me and to have my talking points literally in front of me. So here are my talking points for the people watching. It's called repeatable says it's eight steps of eve ry agency sales. But here are my personal talking points and favorite questions. Because it shouldn't. It should never feel like a script, but it should always have talking points.

Simon S (00:16:26) - And you know, the important thing when we coach is you never jump like from step four to step five without making sure that you have validated. So each step has an assumption and the validation for example. You talk about the scope of work, then you talk about the budget. Scope of work. All right. What are the deliverables? And then there is budget stage. Step five in budget. There are two steps. Your assumption what their budget is, so what they want to invest. And then there is the validation that that's their budget. You don't move to the next step. Which is statement of work before you have validated their budget and there is a whole. There is a whole system how you extrapolate their range before you say any price. Because sometimes you can go much higher with the same thing. So you have to wait, wait wait wait wait until you know the real budget and then you will say the price. And sometimes it will be double the price of what you said to the other guy one day before, because they just have more budget.

Simon S (00:17:40) - And that's fine. So you explore the range and how do you explore the range? Is that you? As you make an assumption. About what they are able and willing to spend. But then you validate the assumption. So in the CRM for agencies, we literally have two different columns. And the one says budget estimated and the other one set budget validated. And you are allowed to move it to step six only after you have validated the budget. It's an example with double clicked into one of those eight steps to show you how seriously we take each step of the conversation. And because if you learn it once those eight steps, then it will be a natural flow. It goes. It goes like domino. Wow. You closed it in one. How did you close 25 K in one call and say, I just did the eight things that I always do. It's a natural flow and you have them lead and you help them decide and you help them buy. You don't sell in our method.

Simon S (00:18:56) - You don't sell anything. You help them buy. And that's the shrink. That's the shrink.

Joey (00:19:01) - And we we'd say something very similar to, to our team, which is the really, really good ones are able to ask questions without asking questions like, if you can get to a point where you're able to glean the information that you need through a conversation versus having what feels like a scripted set of questions, that's the magic where you're able to kind of get through those eight steps without them realizing that you're going through the eight steps.

Simon S (00:19:27) - The more natural, the better. The only problem is, if you skip one of those, you will get ghosted. Oh yeah, you will hear I have to talk about this with my partners. You will hear, oh yeah, sounds great. Let me come back to you. Which is that? It's over. That's game over.

Shanif D (00:19:46) - Yeah.

Joey (00:19:47) - Because I think that's the big fear that people have is like, oh my God, I is coming for my job.

Joey (00:19:51) - And it's like, well, again, if your job is very task oriented, yeah, maybe. But hopefully what that means is that and I think about this in terms of like the promise of technology in the workplace, because we've been hearing about the promises of technology for over 100 years. And every time the promise of technology is like, no, no, this is going to help. And you get to do those higher level tasks you get to instead of instead of in the accounting world, instead of doing a bank reconciliation, you get to analyze what that bank reconciliation means. What are the action items that need to be gleaned from this bank reconciliation? Instead of physically going in and saying, oh, here's this cheque and there's that deposit and all the things like that, which for me is very exciting because I hate doing the tasks. That's my least favorite thing to do during the day.

Shanif D (00:20:38) - And most people do. And that's why, you know, I can be really interesting for people who work in like, information and white collar fields, you can start to automate away a lot of the stuff that you don't like to do.

Shanif D (00:20:49) - I'm a software developer, and I use AI to do a lot of the tedious stuff that I don't like to do when it comes to coding. You know, debugging and tracing through stack error logs takes me, you know, saves me anywhere from 10 to 15 hours a week. And so this is where I can really help. It's really good at, at sort of automating the stuff you don't want to do. So you can start to do what you do want to do.

Joey (00:21:08) - Well. And that's the thing I love about AI to thinking about something like debugging or, you know, in the accounting world, like doing an audit, right, making sure you've got stuff coded correctly. The longer we do those tasks, the worse we get, right? There's a there's a diminishing curve of our abilities to do these things. Well, AI doesn't have that. So if you're doing something like debugging and saying, I want you to look for a specific piece of code that's written, it will do. It will never get tired of it.

Joey (00:21:35) - As long as it's connected to power in the internet, it will do the task the same way every time. And that's a huge benefit.

Shanif D (00:21:42) - It really is. You know, I find myself at the end of a long day of 8 or 9 hours of focus coding, and I'm sure accounting is the same way, just like heavily focused on something. I am burned out. And then if I have to fix a problem, I'm just kind of like, oh my gosh, now what I can do is just throw that problem into something like ChatGPT and say, hey, provide me the fix, and it takes me a couple of seconds. And so it makes a big difference on my mental sort of health and wellness, the ability to do things that I really don't want to do in a much quicker and more efficient way. So there's so many ways you can use AI. This is just one where you can improve your operations and your productivity by basically cutting down the amount of time it takes to search for something.

Shanif D (00:22:24) - But you can also do things like I mentioned, which is if you've got an engineering team, you can plug them into ChatGPT and they can start using this thing and save hours a week by not having to debug. If you've got a marketing team, you can use this to come up with content ideas about the next set of guides or articles you want to write and also edit. You know, if you've got a legal team you can use this to. This is something I was talking about with a couple of lawyers. If you've got a legal team, you can plug in all of your historical case documents and then use that to research which cases are most relevant to your current case. So there's so many things you can do. It's almost one of those things where I can almost guarantee, if you're working in the world of information, there's something that you could do with AI. It sort of depends on your business, but the areas I've seen that have had the biggest impact, like I said, are search, information retrieval, content generation and content editing.

Shanif D (00:23:15) - And so those are areas where you probably could get started right away.

Joey (00:23:19) - I think that's fantastic. And it's it's something where again, we're always and we joke about this all the time in our consulting. Right. Like whenever you go to do anything with consulting, you go to business school, you go wherever they teach you all the things you need to know, like you take 4 or 5 strategy classes, right? There's not a class that talks about operations, right? There isn't like a business operations class on like how to do Lean Six Sigma or how to do other types of management things. If you're going to use like an entrepreneurial operating system or something like that, you have to learn all that behind the scenes. And I think that's probably the biggest hole that I see in a lot of businesses is, you know, as they're scaling and growing, they're just kind of moving through and saying, like, I'm just going to see what sticks when I throw something at the wall, and we're just going to go with what works and try to build that way.

Joey (00:24:11) - And man, I think if you're someone who's trying to grow from like a couple of employees, maybe doing a couple million a year to to 2 or 3 axing that and really growing your business. Using some sort of tool like this to help streamline and automate is a great fulcrum that you can use to lever up.

Shanif D (00:24:31) - You know, it's totally true. I actually wrote something recently where I suspect that small businesses, midsize businesses are going to get a disproportionately larger amount of benefit from this stuff because they can automate away a lot of the things that they might have needed to hire for. They can automate a lot of the things that they originally took a lot of time to do. And I suspect, like if you're a small business and you're growing quickly, you're probably going to be able to use automation to really, really hyper charge your growth. You have to know how to do it and how to implement it properly. But if you're really focused on that, you can really get some really good productivity going.

Joey (00:25:04) - When I think about PMS in particular, right, most, most creative and digital agencies, and really a lot of companies in general struggle to figure out how to maximize the believability of their project management team, which, you know, is there's an operational question there, but there's also a work question to and if you can figure out a way to automate more of their your PM tasks and stuff like that. So they're not spending as many hours working on the administrative data, organizing and stuff like that, and they're able to spend more time driving value to your client. That's a very easy way to not only increase your revenue, but also move some of your resources from, from, you know, overhead below the line to something that's revenue generating in a higher percentage. That's a win for all aspects of your business.

Shanif D (00:25:54) - It's true, it's true. There's so many things you can do here. I'm really excited because I think that we're going to start to see a lot of areas where jobs are going to become more efficient.

Shanif D (00:26:04) - You know, some people are worried, well, they're going to become redundant. And that might be the case, but I suspect that it will also lead to brand new jobs that are being created. But for the jobs that exist and people who know how to use AI tools for them, it's one of those things where you're going to really start to see a lot of growth. I don't know much about the like the project management space. I've done a little bit of product management, and so it certainly could help in areas there. But I think it's a great time to be able to start embracing a lot of this stuff and learning how to how to use it so that you can do your job better.

Jamie (00:26:36) - Yet these agencies are.

Tom O (00:26:38) - Also saying that all of their people, people feel burned out and we feel like we're super stressed and man, it feels like we are working way harder than we need to. But then in the next breath, that CEO or founder or whatever, she'll say, like, but I don't want to get it because they're only recording like 38 hours a week on their timesheet.

Tom O (00:26:55) - You know, and it's like it's so common. But when you pull back a few layers of the onion, you see that they're still like running the whole agency on this like triage basis, that every single week they're trying to figure out what everyone's going to do for that week. Right. It's just so inefficient. It is so reactive. And so what needs to change is that we need to start thinking beyond this week, you know, and so to get very tactical with that, forget about parallax. You're probably doing your like resource planning in your project management tool. On a task level, you're probably assigning task by task to figure out what people are assigned to. You got to break from that bad habit and say, like, you know, keep using the tasks however you're going to do them. But like, let's just all agree here, it's really hard to do that level of granularity in resource planning beyond this week or next week, because it's so much work to do that, right? And this is where I usually say like precision is the enemy of accuracy.

Tom O (00:27:55) - When we're trying to be super precise like that, it's extremely hard to be consistent and frequent. And how often we update these forecasts. Right. Like it's really hard for us to get that super task level plan for the duration of the entire engagement. So we're doing it once a week or twice a week, right? But we're not realizing the benefit of scale. When we do that. We're still acting like we're five people and we need to triage every day. I think if you, like, took a step back and said, you know what? Like 8020 rule here, like 80% of our engagements are probably pretty easy to plan on, like a lower fidelity saying like quarter or half full time per week. What we expect, you know, the people to do on this project over time. And if we're not trying to be super precise, meaning like 8.4 in this week and 2.6 in that week, if we're trying to be like more like half time, full time, it's just so much easier to forecast out a lot further on an engagement and a person basis.

Tom O (00:28:58) - Right? Yeah. And that doesn't mean we can't still do the triage on the task basis. As a project manager that week, you could still do that whatever. But like having that forward look that shows a lower fidelity but more accurate because it's more frequently we update it. It's more consistent in the way that we update it. We can believe in like that's the fundamental that we're going for, right, is to to shift this like very reactive triage motion that's so typical in these agencies to something that's more proactive and planful, maybe a little bit lower fidelity than, than a normal project manager would expect because he or she is. So yeah, we're type A, we like to be very precise. Right? Right. But to back that up and say at a high level, we're trying to forecast differently.

Jamie (00:29:40) - Well that's a big part of growth too right. Like and I think so again I'm going to I'm going to use it the accounting world as an example because that's obviously the world I lead. But I obviously it's very similar to the agency world.

Jamie (00:29:51) - So I think if if I as a CFO was the only person on my account, okay, parallax is my client and I'm the only person on your account, and I have to do all the bookkeeping, I have to do everything. Then then I could make it work. I probably could only have two clients, right? I could work with parallax. I could work for one other company. But what these companies do to grow is they say, okay, let's let's separate the duties. But you can't you can't separate the duties completely. Right? So if I hire a bookkeeper to come in and take care of all that, like you said, all those details and doing all the work, and they're going to be the one who's doing all the journal entries. They're going to be doing all that. Yes, I can disengage from that, but I still need to know what they're doing it and how they're doing it, but they're going to do it day to day, right? They're going to say, okay, I'm going to do these five journal entries today and these five journal entries tomorrow.

Jamie (00:30:33) - Me personally, as a manager, I don't care when they do those lunches, as long as they're they're getting me the results I need. But I do need to understand what's going into those journal entries. But then as you grow even further, you know, say, okay, now I'm not the CFO anymore, now I'm the director of accounting. Now I need to bring another CFO in. And that CFO was doing what I was doing where they're just kind of seeing the high level details of what that bookkeeper is doing. But me, as a director, I don't really care what that high level accountants doing. I care what the cfo's doing. And I want to make sure the CFO can have as many clients as they want. So think you you need people that are in the minutia. But the problem is as you get bigger, you're going to be getting less out of those details and you're going to be more from a higher up standpoint, and you need to be able to look at those details.

Jamie (00:31:13) - Okay, I have I have nine CFOs and I have 60 accounts. How am I going to have those nine CFOs manage those 60 accounts? That's the level that I'm looking at. And understanding that all that minutia that was there when I was in the weeds is still there, but it's being covered by other people, and it's their job to make sure it's being done efficiently.

Tom O (00:31:29) - I agree 100%, and I think that as an organization, your team, I think reflects the best. Practice that we should note here, Jamie, in that in my opinion, and there's a lot of writing on this that a good professional services firm, whether you're a digital agency or a fractional CFO like accounting company, like you guys, like the best in class professional services firms, they do at least 80% of their revenue out of productized services, meaning that these are services that we can, you know, deliver consistently. That doesn't mean that every customer isn't super unique and that every engagement is not. It certainly is bespoke, but the methodologies that we use to, like, generally serve those customers.

Tom O (00:32:17) - I think there's a lot of consistency and pattern to that's what makes a best practice of productized services. It's a yeah, you're our agency partners. They need to start thinking about it that way. Like we don't need to like micromanage down to every single task necessarily on every single project. We need to like define a methodology that we want our teams to employ on a consistent basis. Give them the training and the, you know, enablement materials to, like, consistently deliver on that. That might be like an asana project with like templated tasks, maybe, but like we don't need to be super precise down to the half hour increment on those things. It's like a high level. Right. And then we should plan on those productized services based on a duration that the people are engaged and like, you know, how many hours per week generally should that role take that could fluctuate up and down through the course of onboarding or engaging a customer, or where there's, you know, certain parts of the methodology that require more time or different roles or whatever.

Tom O (00:33:22) - But starting to think about it that way, like, you know, what's the pattern at which we typically deliver this type of work? What kind of people in which roles, over time, at which distribution should we deliver this work? Start thinking about those productized services more. It really helps you like break out of that, like feeling that you need to like I call it micromanaging. I know that's not very nice way to say it, but like micromanage down to the task, down to the week specifically what everyone's delivering. You know, I think that's it's a practice that stands in the way of growth in my opinion. Yeah.

Jamie (00:33:53) - I think as a as an owner, as a leader, you need to know what level is success for you and what level am I looking at like again, if like use the journal entries, if I happen to do these journal entries in order of one, two, three, four and got it done, if the person that's doing it now is doing it in four, three, two, one and they're still getting the same result, I should not care.

Jamie (00:34:09) - I should be caring that the client's happy and that the results are accurate. Right. That's what it comes down to. So yeah. So the next question I'm going to turn it a little bit more towards towards pinnacle. And what pinnacle does. And I think there's two things to me that makes pinnacle unique. And I'd love for you to kind of expand on both of them and then talk about, you know, how you how you develop these two things. So obviously the first is the tools. So when we when Jody first saw the tools, he brought him home and he sent him to me in the mail and was like, Jamie, you have to check these out. This is what our CFOs need for training. They need to be this complete. They need to be this thorough. They really need to to work through it. So that's that's the first thing that I think pinnacle does really well. And I think the second thing is the team is the guides. Right? When I'm, you know, Jody and I have probably spoke publicly about 5000 times in the past couple of years.

Jamie (00:34:55) - And when I went to the pinnacle within the first day, I was speaking with these guides. I was like, oh my goodness, I just talked to all these intelligent people. How in the world am I going to get up on stage and teach these intelligent people anything, and went home and practice my speech by ten more times before the next day, because I was so nervous to.

Jody (00:35:11) - I've never seen it nervous in front of a speech.

Jamie (00:35:14) - It was it was like they're just people. Yeah, no, but the the guides that you bring in, I can tell you're selective and I can tell you really think through making sure that you have the right guides, to demonstrate those tools. So I'd love for you to kind of expand on those two things.

Greg (00:35:27) - So I'd go back to, you know, the tools. I've always been a reader, a prolific reader. I did not don't have an advanced degree in anything. I don't have a college education. And so I am from the school of like, you got to go out and learn it and teach it and do it to yourself.

Greg (00:35:45) - There's no Calvary, no one's coming to the rescue. And so I have read literally thousands of books. And I believe if you just look at the history of the world, right. We used to be if you had a strong back and I'm just going back to, you know, turn the century, even you had a strong bank in Minnesota. You went up to the lumber mills or you went down to the docks, right? And you just worked your back and you could make a living. And just fast forward now, we are definitely knowledge workers right today. And so it is information and it's and is access and it's not who do you know. It's who knows you right I mean it it's it has changed. And so with the speed of information and how fast it's doubling and tripling, you have to be tuned in today. And anybody who thinks they have the market cornered cornered on good ideas. I mean, it's just I mean, it's just it just falls. And if there is a good idea in the West Coast, it's on the East Coast by dinner, right? I mean.

Greg (00:36:36) - Someone comes up with something in the Midwest, it's on both coasts, right? I mean, it travels around the world, right? Somebody comes up. I'm talking about anything like we're going to have. I'm going to have a lobster roll that's deep fried. Somebody will love that. And it goes viral. Right. Type of thing. So I've always believed and this goes back to my peak performance days. We would bring in these thought leaders. And Harvey McKay would say practice makes, you know, perfect. And Brian Tracy would come up the week later and say, no, practice doesn't make perfect. Practice makes permanent. If you have a hook in your golf swing and you don't fix it, keep keep practicing your hook. You're going to have a gorgeous hook and you're going damn like he is, right? Right? Of course he's right. So these people just learn and build upon their information. I have some books here behind me in my bookshelf and they are well over 100 years old.

Greg (00:37:26) - I have books, you know, Orson, Sweat and Martin. Just go back, look about rhomboids and square holes and character and secret of achievement and mean just these amazing, amazing books. And I go back there because it's like truth, right? Truth is timeless. And the ideas that they had there and we just, you know, we have often packaged them up. So that's one of my source of tools. I'll give you an example. I was reading a biography of Napoleon Bonaparte, and it's one of those books where you're reading it. And if you ever had a book where it hits you so hard, you literally have to stop and close the book and think, so I'm reading this part. I'm sitting in my chair right over here by the window, and I'm reading this book, and he and he says, I have made a remarkable discovery. Men will die for ribbons. Hmm. And I remember closing the book, and I was thinking, man, that's still today the Peace Medal, the Nobel Peace Prize, the Olympic medals, the Medal of Honor, the medal, the Purple Heart.

Greg (00:38:25) - It's the service arms at the Olympics. It's my kids track and field. I mean, it's everything. Men will die for ribbons. And so, like, you know, just fast forward today to, you know, gift ology and rewards and recognition and egos and everything else. I mean, it comes back to that, you know, I'll get a badge, I'll get a like, I got my 10,000 steps. It's people will literally go do all that work, right, just to get the little trophy on an icon on their phone or whatever accomplishments. So I'm a good student that way. And then, of course, just looking at the current how people will come out and take an arrow. Now we're into specialized knowledge. So let's take a topic like gift ology or take a topic like Extreme ownership. And Jocko will go out and write a book on extreme ownership and really talk about like, what does it mean to be in a healthy team where everybody in the leadership team says, no, that's my fault, that's my fault, that's my fault, that's my fault.

Greg (00:39:17) - Instead of everyone's blames it on everybody else, right? Why they didn't get the rock down or whatever. So I am always looking for things that can really. I wanted to have an effect on the tools. Jamie and Jody. Like when you see that, see that tool and we do that level up exercise, for example, I want them to say, wow, I never even thought about it that way. I never I never saw I never saw that. And the tool is just there to have a conversation. Right? It's no different than anything else. Right. And the old joke is, if I only have a hammer, every solution's a nail, you know, so. So I don't want to have just a hammer, right. Today. You need to have a great toolbox today. You know, we just had a call from a fortune 100 company that has 19,000 employees, and they're looking to partner with a platform. At the end of our call, they're like, Greg, we love your philosophy and your approach, and we are very well aligned.

Greg (00:40:11) - And we'd love to figure out how we can do this. And they've spent, you know, tens of million dollars figuring out this platform. And that's where I'm focused. I'm not trying to be like anybody else. We want to be in the category of one, you know, that's what we're doing. And you're going to be in the category of one by not, you know, not looking at what everyone else is doing, but looking to say what needs to be done, what should be done, what is the right thing to do and keep evolving and changing. And as long as we're back to, you know, if the rate of change outside your organization is fashion, the change inside you're becoming extinct, right? You're becoming irrelevant. Yeah. And so as long as we are changing as fast or faster than the world around us, we're going to be just fine. Our clients are going to be just fine. Right? You know, the economy is going to be just fine if we keep doing that.

Jody (00:40:59) - So so okay, kind of reversing that then. So that's how you that's how you pick your guides and the people on your team. If I was a business owner out there, how would I pick a guide? You know what? I pick a guide versus all the different other organizations out there. What should I do? What kind of research should I do? I think I.

Greg (00:41:19) - Think those are the three big problems we're solving in the marketplace. Number one is there's so many systems, right? You go on Amazon, you buy a book and it says people bought this book, also bought these three other books. And so then you go down that rabbit hole, you know, trying to figure out which one is right for you. This one's more structure. This one's more disciplined. This is this is less framework. This is more about execution or cash or whatever. So there's lots of them. So the number one problem is what system should you use. And I believe that entrepreneurs should not be choosing their system

Greg (00:41:48) - I think there's a flaw in that. It's and the analogy I use, I go to the Mayo Clinic every year for my own, you know, physical. And if you had cancer today, prostate cancer, you you could go and try and figure out, should I get radiation, chemotherapy, surgery, homeopathic naturopath? Should I go to Mexico? Where should I go? Right. You could do all that. Or you could say, I'm going to go find the best oncologist in the world for prostate cancer. And if they think I should do surgery tomorrow, and then radiation. I think I'm new in surgery and radiation. I mean, that's one approach, right? Instead of me trying to figure it out. Right. So I don't think entrepreneurs should be choosing their operating systems or their the you know, what, what formula should do, but they should choose the guide, they should choose the guide. And the guide is really important. And it comes down to chemistry. Like you, you know, some, some, some guides are soft spoken and some people are full of energy and bouncing off the wall.

Greg (00:42:44) - And if you are, you know, a financial CPA that's kind of middle of the road. And I put you in a room with me bouncing off the walls all day long for eight hours. You will be exhausted by lunchtime, so you'll be worn out. But at the same token, do the reverse if you want energy and you are that high energy CPA, and I give you someone who's monotone and talks, that's not a fit either. So it's it's chemistry, it's background. It's experience. You want someone. Who's going to make you better? Who's going to stand up to you? Who's going to challenge your thinking, get you to think differently, and then when you're wrong, tell you you're wrong, and if you're right, support you as well when you're second guessing it as also. So I think the guide is really important. And then the guide should choose the operating system, right? The guide should decide should you have a scoreboard or a scorecard. The guide should decide, oh, you're you know, you should do profit first, right? That would be a great formula for you.

Greg (00:43:44) - Or you should have a separate account or you should do this right. The guide should be that person that brings the right tool to you and decide, hey, I can only go as fast as you can go, right? We use this analogy and I'm telling you, if you're a team of 25, 26 people that are all came out of the military and all, you know, Seals or Green Berets, you're going to run up that hill with a £100 ruck if you got them, who are 55 and 60 with bad knees, bad elbows, little SPF, and they're going to get burned, right. We're going to go a lot slower with those people because we got history and reasons why it's not going to work. And so I got to go slower. And so I'm always like, I can go as fast as you can go. And but in the end you do want to coach who can just say, hey, can we just go another half mile or there's a beautiful view or there's a great place to rest, or this would be a great place to stop or no, the snow.

Greg (00:44:36) - There's a snowstorm hitting us on the mountain. We are actually going down. We're going, we're going to, you know, do a reverse accountability chart. And we're laying off five people and we're going to get smaller to weather the storm. You want somebody who has that. I'm going to call them credentials or street chops or moxie or whatever. But they're comfortable. They're not trying to please you. They're here to do what's right for you. Right. Your doctor is not trying to please you. They're trying to do what's right for you. Right type of thing. So that's the trusted advisor role that I think we play is you can't be afraid you could lose the client. You're going to be afraid that I'm not going to get you to where you need to go. Right. And we're going to run on a runway. Is a is a is something that drives you. So that's kind of the that is a huge difference. Jody, I don't know anybody who's taken that approach to literally saying choose the guide, make sure it's a good chemistry fit.

Greg (00:45:26) - You will outgrow your guide. Like you'll outgrow your guide. Right. And that's okay. Like because it's an infinite game. So hey, the person you need it when you're smaller and now you're with Anders and you're like a much bigger, more complicated, you're going to exotic places, like you're doing bigger retreats or speaking opportunities or whatever. Like how I snuck that one in there, Jamie I did, yeah, I was on the guest list, but I will be back on the guest list. But like, as you grow, you need a different type of guide, right? So if you were in roll up mode, someone with mergers and acquisition would be great. Can you imagine hiring a guide? Let's say you're in your business and you get to hire a guide that has, you know, relevant experience building great operating systems and scaling companies and growing companies. And they were a great fit chemistry wise, right. Like you were similar in drive and alpha or what desire or goals or whatever.

Greg (00:46:18) - And they had industry experience. They came in and they knew CPA and financials and software and models and tax and they and like it would be the trifecta because usually it's one or the other. Right? I know my business, but I don't know yours or and I always say, you know, this is back to the cutco days with the vector. Right. And by the way, I had a lot of those people buy tickets Cutco Kirby because you guys were just pure sales organizations. If the guy couldn't sell, he was not a hanging around very long and actually.

Jody (00:46:50) - Was probably there.

Greg (00:46:52) - Yes. Listen. And the Cutco, like you guys were such pioneers like you guys, instead of lowering prices, you raise the prices and said, let's give them the forever guarantee the last Saturday night you'll ever need to own. Yeah, exactly. So I digress. So anyway, yeah.

Jamie (00:47:09) - So I guess the follow up question to that is, is if I'm listening to this podcast and I want a guide, is there a list on the website? How would I go about finding that guide? Yeah.

Greg (00:47:17) - Pinnacle Business Guides, Pinnacle Business Guides or Pinnacle Business Guide will both get you there. There's a map there in your state, and I would tell you to have a couple of conversations. Like I said, it's about, you know, it's not a beauty. It's not a beauty contest. Right, Jodi? It's not a beauty contest or. We are in trouble, but it really needs to be around, you know, let them ask you some questions. And and if a great guide is asking you questions you haven't thought about before. Right. And and they're asking you questions, you're like and you know, it's a good question because you're saying like, you know what? That's a really good question. No one's ever asked me that before, right, Joe? Like we should. When should you do tax planning? At the beginning of the year or at the end of the year? Right. When's your tax strategy work? Right. If they are asking you questions you haven't thought about, then you're like, oh, this.

Greg (00:48:07) - These are connecting with me. I've never thought about that. And yes, I think that person can help me evolve and improve our system. So Jamie would, I would say go there is a great is a great starting point. You know, we're happy to help you like target in if you don't want to have those conversations or you're still not sure, you know, just pick up the phone, give us a call. I'm happy anybody are my leadership team. Anybody in our community would be happy to try and help you find the right fit. We would like you to be with Pinnacle, but it's more important that you're with the right fit for the long term. Like our average relationship is five plus years that people will stay with that guide. You know, that's my experience and others, is that when you're doing great work, they're going to stay right. And I'm sure it's the same thing in your business, right? If you're happy and you have that trust advisor relationship and you just help them get through another whatever, they just bought a business, sold a business, change status and life moved on to retirement.

Greg (00:49:02) - They're not thinking, hey, we're done. They're just thinking, you, let's get back here again in six months, right? Or three months. So it's the same relationship.

Jody (00:49:11) - I think we're right in right in line with you guys. We're four and a half to five years right now, so I mean that's right there. And being a virtual platform, the last question I want to ask you is just about a word, and I'm hoping that you take it in the direction I'm hoping. But if, say the word change, what does that mean?

Greg (00:49:32) - Well, if you're if you don't like change, you're going to hate irrelevance. I have a postcard on my in my session room. Jody has got pictures of everything from. It was only ten years ago that we had computer labs, that if you were going to school, you literally had to sign up for the computer lab, and you went in there, you know, for 2 or 3 hours. Now, every kid's got two computers in their back, right? How would you like to be selling calculators? I remember when you guys probably still have calculators, but remember when everyone had a calculator, right? Like that was the big deal.

Greg (00:50:01) - Like was calculators, pagers. I was just watching the movie. He's got a pager on his on his hip and so on. Yeah, we are changing. We are changing Kodak and these companies that were iconic companies who didn't stay up with change. They are gone, right? Sears was the original Amazon. They were the original catalog. It was online. But you could buy just about anything you can imagine there. When you see the companies that just closed up like bath, bed, Bath and Beyond, right, is that we never changed fast enough. We did not keep up with it. Barnes and Noble waited ten years before they got into the selling books online. It's so hard to recover from those things, and so it's no different than everything else. You're going to drive your car today. You're going to fly in a plane? Yeah, soon. The plane is off course, 99%. It is constantly making adjustments. You're making adjustments on your way home all the time. And some people, for some reason, don't know where they got this is they're like, hey, I don't like change.

Greg (00:50:59) - And yet change is very positive. If I came in here tomorrow and said, you just won the lottery, we got to make some changes around here. No, right. No one would go like, oh my gosh, we don't want to make any changes. But if you come and say we need to make some changes around here, right? We're not as profitable as we should be or we've lost or we got more or I'm taking on 50 clients. We got to make some changes like, oh, we're growing too fast or whatever. So there is about messaging and communication. And I think today's leaders, you need to embrace change and you need to be really good to change management. And the narrow the narration of it. Everyone is good with change if it's goal directed. Right. Hey, you got to make some changes. You're retiring in Florida, you got to make some changes. You got to lose £20, right? You're going to make some changes. You've got grandkids, right? You're going to make changes.

Greg (00:51:42) - You just had a baby. You just got married. Everyone's good with that change because we think it's gold directed and we think we can control it. And as soon as we start talking about change that they like, think they can't control, all of a sudden people are digging their heels in. And I would just tell you it is we are going to change dramatically. The speed of change is actually picking up. It's not slowing down. And so I would just encourage everyone to like take, take like embrace it. And just like you're driving your car, you be the one that's directing that change. And and we're not I remember this I think this was a Jim Rohn quote is the reason birds fly south in the winter is because that's all they know how to do is fly south. And we are not birds. We can go north, we can go south, we can go west. We can go to the Caribbean. Mean we can go anywhere. And we should embrace that change, right? We're not a tree.

Greg (00:52:33) - If we don't like it, we can leave, right? We can just go do something else tomorrow, today with the labor market. And so nothing is the only thing I can tell you is 100% certain this thing's going to be just about the same as they've always been, except for change. Change is going to change and things that you are not doing. I just talked about remember I said the phone $0.50 a minute, was that one of my clients? And we were talking about change and I said the metered service model because they were charging by the word and by the hour and everything. Jody said, we don't want a metered service model anymore, right? We used to get AOL online, you know, for 600 hours on a CD. We. To get our phone by the minutes. We used to go get a rental car, and then you had to pay mileage for the rental car. Mean all those like metered services, and there's a few of them left, but they're all gone.

Greg (00:53:26) - Accounting itself. I'm trying to be nice to you guys. Versus it's on outcome and results. Right. Listen, if we can do it in two hours and somebody else takes five hours, I mean, should I be penalized because I could do it in two hours, you know, and make a little bit more money and they're going to take five hours to do, or they're going to use a yellow pad and a Texas instrument calculator, and I'm going to use a software program to import all your information. So that's all I would tell you. And I can't wait to see what the future has in store for pinnacle and for my friends and for our guides. And we are going to be the ones on that front line cheering right and and saying, what a great ride. This is amazing. And our lives are not going to be not going to be like busy. They're just going to be full of all the things that we want to embrace with change.

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