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What brands do you love? Apple? Nike? Billiam (a local favorite)?
Why are you attracted to that brand? Something draws us to fashion, food, and locations that have been bold enough to take a stand for who they are for, and what they believe. Brands make humans feel heard or understood. Brands do a lot to help humans navigate our world in ways we enjoy and love. Your world is ordered and driven by branding. Not completely – I just mean branding is a signpost that directs you in ways you already want to go. You have a proclivity towards the things you love. All humans do.
When you’ve watched Michael Phelps compete, you’ve probably thought to yourself, “That guy reminds me of Greg Kyte.” It makes sense because I, too, am a swimmer.¹
I started swimming competitively when I was eight years old for the Mountlake Terrace Lemmings. My stroke was the butterfly because for some reason doughy kids do better at butterfly; that’s just science. I didn’t really have the eye of the tiger for the sport, so when I joined my high school swim team I was a hotshot freshman who progressed to become a very mediocre senior.
There are a few modern day authors that capture my attention. When these authors come out with a new book or presentation about a topic they have recently researched and assembled into useful ideas and theories, I take note. Cal Newport is one those authors that has challenged my thinking over the years, and his latest book, Digital Minimalism, was another great idea and topic to challenge myself again.
The aim of the book is to apply the concepts of minimalism (the art of knowing how much is enough) to our personal technology lives. Now, in fairness, I am not on the leading edge of social media use. I do not use my Facebook account, I count a total of 37 Instagram followers, at best I tweet 2x a month, I tried Snapchat for about a month, and the speed of my texting is shameful. With this framework in mind, I consider myself someone who has a good handle on social media use. However, as I worked through the concepts in the books, participated in a 30 day digital declutter, and honestly assessed the attachment of my smartphone, I realized that I had a lot to learn about using technology as a tool to support my goals and values, and gain better control of my life.
I remember when I realized our firm could operate virtually back in 2011. Our firm was started by my father in 1997, and I had been leading the firm since 2003. I was always interested in technology and innovative services, so shutting our office seemed like the next ‘cool’ thing to do. I decided to take the leap in 2012 and closed our brick and mortar location in Greenville, SC, fully becoming a virtual firm. We began operating with no offices, and with no physical access to clients and team members. Since first learning about our ability to operate virtually in 2011, we immediately began to seek out software that would allow us to operate virtually in the cloud.
The beginning of that virtual journey was rough as there were not that many cloud-based products to support a full firm that never saw their clients or their team. I didn’t realize I had to figure out how to allow our team to use tax products, and a phone system, virtually (two rough spots in our journey). What has been the result of our firm’s journey in the cloud? We are still a small virtual team serving a handful of larger clients around the US from an advisory perspective. Cloud technology has changed our firm for sure. But we see more of a need from our clients for care, advisement, counsel, and accountability to run their businesses than ever before.