Deeper Weekend 2014

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REFM -  Adrian Photo Square - CATOBSystems are so important as enabling mechanisms. Sometimes I like to call them “structures of freedom.” I’m reminded of a quote from Tim Williams at Thriveal’s Deeper Weekend last fall, “Process is the architecture for getting things done.” Even creative processes, like transforming your firm, require some level of scaffolding to help you see it through from concept to realization.


Systems can compete with each other too. The system you know and use now will almost always beat out the one that’s fledgling or undefined. This is why it’s almost always easier to spend hours replying to e-mails than to change your firm. There’s a system for e-mail, but not for transformation.


So our goal is to develop a creative system for our firm, shield it during its fledgling stage, and then let it grow to become part of our way of doing things, that stands its ground and evidences its value as part of our firm’s operations.


Cracking this nut is not easy. But I feel like I took another step earlier this year in my own personal system.


–I’ve chatted before about how I use Evernote to capture ideas.


–Last year at some point, I also started using Evernote to create an overview of my week, including both personal and business items (this came from the “aha” moment that I couldn’t have a separate system to manage the two — things were getting lost in the shuffle).


–Earlier this year I ran across a blog post on the Evernote site by Michael Hyatt on how to use Evernote to achieve your long-term goals. There, he describes a system of creating a master note of your goals for the year. Then linking them to sub-notes that contain your key motivations for that goal, the next actions, progress reports to yourself, and random notes you might collect along the way of accomplishing it.


–Add to that the smartphone app, Swipes, and I was cooking. Swipes is a daily productivity app that “helps you collect, organize, and take action on the right tasks at the right time.” Swipes also has a basic Evernote integration, which is a nice bonus.


So my process became:


  1. At the beginning of the year, I laid out my big 3 goals for the year. I made a master note in Evernote, and linked those to sub-notes which contained a checklist of the items I needed to accomplish to complete that goal.
  2. Each week, I laid out the next seven days in my weekly Evernote template, with a focus on managing my personal energy wave, not just listing to-do items. If that week I was going to accomplish one of the strategic items from my big 3 goals, I’d include that too.
  3. At the beginning of each day, I typed that day’s items into my Swipes app and used its slick interface to prioritize, clear, remind, and/or schedule them. If one of the days included a strategic item from my big 3 goals, I used the Swipes integration to link it to the related Evernote note so the additional information was at my fingertips.
  4. And during the day, I used Swipes to manage the ebbs and flows. I really appreciated its adaptability, and how its design aided in keeping me focused.


The thing I learned (or re-learned from the above, is that we’re managing multiple time zones, and we need a system for each. We’re managing the long-term, the medium-term, and the today-term. My big 3 goals are my long-term. My weekly overview are my medium-term. And my daily tasks are my today-term. I finally had a system for each, and they were becoming enabling mechanisms. Structures of freedom.


And then one of the first TED Talks I had seen came back to me: The Psychology of Time by Philip Zimbardo. A fascinating talk, if you have the time to watch.
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Adrian G. Simmons is a CPA innovating ways to put money in its place. After working as an auditor out of college for KPMG, he joined his father in public practice in 2002, and now acts as the Chief Creative Designer there. With the team, he looks for ways to help their customers become financially strong, so that they can focus on what truly matters in life. Adrian likes tech, uses a fountain pen, successfully attempted a half-marathon (and may try another), and prefers dark over milk chocolate.

Greg Kyte 2“Live a life worth commenting on.” – Pete Holmes


Science fairs suck. They’ve always sucked, and they suck even more now than when we were in school. Because the Internet. No elementary school kids are asking real science questions that they really want real answers to. Kids come home with a list of requirements, and parents Google the cheapest, fastest, and least-lame way to help their kid get an A.


But this year at my house, science fair did not suck because my daughter is awesome. She asked a real science question that she wanted a real answer to: How long does it take for an egg to blow up in the microwave? This like all great science fair projects was inspired by America’s Funniest Home Videos. And we got more science learning done than we bargained for because we also discovered how many eggs it takes to blow up a microwave. Read more

CPA firm, Innovation

Jason BlumerI’m a Peter Thiel fan. He is a contrarian, and there is power in contrarian thinking. In his book Zero to One, Thiel talks about Secrets in Chapter 8. It’s one of my favorite chapters.




In his book, Thiel contrasts secrets between conventions and mysteries. He contends that conventions within business are easy to uncover (like, you should use a CRM to manage your client’s information), and that mysteries are impossible to uncover (like, you will make a lot of money if you can predict what the stock market will do tomorrow). He makes a point that secrets are not easy to discover, yet they are not impossible. You will not stumble into secrets – if they are to be found, then you must search for them.

Read more

CPA firm, Customer Experience, Innovation

Greg Kyte 2Moe Szyslak is a crappy entrepreneur. He’s crappy at lots of things, but he’s a really crappy entrepreneur. The only reason his tavern hasn’t gone out of business in the past 26 years is because it’s not real. That being said, sometimes he comes close to not sucking.


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In the middle of Season 3, Moe says to Homer, “Business is slow. People today are healthier and drinking less. … If it wasn’t for the junior high school next door, no one would even use the cigarette machine. … Increased job satisfaction and family togetherness are poison for a purveyor of mind-numbing intoxicants like myself” (“Flaming Moe’s”). However, people’s aversion of rats, cockroaches, and Hepatitis B are also poison for Moe’s business. His bar is a dump, but he pins the problem on the business environment. It’s easy to blame business troubles on external forces: competition, stupid consumers, changing regulation, etc. Read more

Jason BlumerI’m reading Peter Thiel‘s new book, Zero to One. Wow. He is truly a contrarian as most of his ideas fly in the face of doing business in any type of traditional way. Some would even say his ideas are scary. One overarching idea I’m noticing in the book is about his focus on building the future. He is dead set on investing in things now that have far reaching future-focused results. I’m glad he has made this his focus. This sums up the struggle in our profession – we do things for immediate results instead of investing in the future. Truly, creating a future-focused firm is hard for a number of reasons:


-You have to commit to a future that you think you can create. The future is not here yet. Peter Thiel believes the future will be here when we create it. Many people avoid thinking about the future, as it brings uncertainty and fear. What if we don’t like the future that we create?

Read more

Book Review, Business, Innovation
Jason BlumerI am very interested in changing the profession of public accounting. This task will probably mark the rest of my life’s work, in some form or other. How do we take on the big task of changing the profession of public accounting? 3 simple steps.

First, we have to transform how public accounting does its work. This is a big picture goal, but one that is being accomplished by many Thriveal firms across the planet. Firm owners are now believing that they run a strategic business, that they can have the kind of firm they want, and are starting the hard work of building the kind of company that can transform their customers. Public accounting firm owners are pricing for value, making mistakes, serving a niche, taking daily risks, pivoting their business models, operating as virtual firms, traveling while they serve their clients, working in their pajamas, saying no more often, coaching and consulting with their clients, fighting commoditization, leveraging technology, and enjoying the lives that their firms afford them. Firm owners are now acting like entrepreneurs.

How are public accountants transforming their work? Through communities! Communities are the 21st century’s platform to alignment and transformation with their strategic enterprises. Communities like Thriveal, Rootworks, The Boomer Technology Circles, RAN OneBMRG Advisory Group, and Sleeter (and others) are all making headway into creating communities where like-minded people can affect change in bigger ways. Communities bring mass power, and this mass power can be leveraged for greater (and faster) change.
Innovation, Leadership, Other Thoughts