Sunday, January 17, 2010

My Tomorrow

My day will start early tomorrow. A client has requested a two hour appointment beginning at 6:30 am to discuss an important strategy decision he is facing. I will then return to my office for our team’s regular 9:00 am Monday morning WIP (work in process) meeting. We are attempting to expand this meeting to not just go over what is on the agenda for the week in regard to projects in the office, but to also set each or our 3 biggest goals for the day/week.

A lunch meeting will follow with a potential new client who was referred to us and is currently simply looking for a second opinion related to the tax structure of his businesses. I will attempt to go much deeper than this with him. Tax structure is important but what is his ultimate vision for his operation? My experience tells me that he may not have a clear picture of his “perfect” operation or what the critical success factors are for him to achieve that vision.

At 2:00 another meeting! An investor group representative is stopping by to discuss several accounting issues, project management, and liquidation scenarios related to the ultimate sale of the project. This may not sound very exciting… but to these business guys the success of this project and ultimate “cash out” is very important.

Later in the day, 4:30 or 5:00 my wife and younger daughter have an appointment with her volleyball coach and mentor. Are we putting Caroline in the place of most potential to earn an athletic scholarship? Is this what she really wants? If so, what is our continuing strategy and action steps? These are some pretty big decisions and there is lots of information to gather.

After all of this “busyness”, I already know what I will be thinking at the end of the day. Did I do enough, did I really help anyone, what could I have done to improve on the day’s tasks? You see I am cursed with something I call “positive discontent”. No matter how good things seem. I just cannot allow myself to be totally satisfied or content. There will always be something that I could have done to “make it better” or I could have been more effective in some way.

I don’t think I am a perfectionist. I do enjoy the quality completion of tasks. But I think I enjoy examining and improving the process as much, or more, than getting to the end.

I am looking forward to tomorrow. Busy days like it don’t come along too often…thank goodness! There would be no time to get the actual work done. The planning days are the most fun. They allow days like tomorrow to happen with out unbearable apprehension. I consider my “positive discontent” an asset. It helps keep me sharp. I need every advantage I can get!

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Sometimes when talking with business owners I ask them where they see their business operation in 3-5 years. The most often response has to do with a financial position. When talking with my younger daughter about her life goals (she is 16 now) the most often response after “I’m not sure” is “Doing something that makes me happy”.

I see both of these initial responses as a sort of “leapfrog” answer. Though not wrong in any sense, the business owner and my daughter have leapfrogged over the details (cause) directly to an outcome (effect). I believe that we live in a cause and effect world, a sort of “reap what you sow” environment.

Most of my involvement with my clients revolves around “causes”. Once we have worked through defining a desired outcome or effect, we begin to explore together what may “cause” that outcome to become a reality. From there, implementing systems and processes to put the client in the place of most potential to achieve the outcome is our single minded focus. It is surprising that most business owners know exactly the outcome they want but have put in little time or effort in effecting processes that deliver what they desire.

As for my daughter, she must first discover what it is that makes her happy before she can leapfrog directly to happiness. My wife and I see our parenting “job” with her as one not unlike what I do with my business clients. I must help her discover the “causes” of her happiness. This can lead to some very interesting (and fun) conversations!

In the business world, owners tend to want to beat themselves up a bit about what they have not done in the past. This exercise is totally irrelevant to our task at hand of brainstorming causes. Sometimes we have a 10 minute “purge session” just to let them get it out of their system. We talk about all the woulda, coulda, shoulda’s…but only for a specified time. We then throw that list away. Irrelevant!

Where do you spend your time and effort? Are you thinking about the outcome (effect) or thinking about detailed strategies (causes)?

Leapfrog is a great game…but sometime it prolongs the ultimate “win”.