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Archive for May, 2011

When our children are born we look at them as raw; yet to be shaped and developed. As a parent, my hope has always been that each of our four children would grow up to be good citizens. It doesn’t matter if they become a physicist or garbage collector, so long as they enjoy their profession and can earn a living that makes them comfortable by their standards, and can enjoy healthy relationships with their loved ones and peers.  It is then when I feel that as parents, we can declare, “Mission accomplished.”

I had the pleasure this past weekend of witnessing our second son’s college graduation. While I know that these exercises can be quite boring if you don’t have a loved one in the show, sitting there for four-plus hours was an absolute joy as our family took in all the pomp and circumstance. As a parent, recalling all the trials and tribulations of grammar school vocabulary tests, high school term papers and – to a lesser extent, because we only hear stories from our children once they are at college – the all night cramming for finals, there is a feeling of pride because we witnessed how hard our son had to work for this accomplishment. There is also a feeling of satisfaction that as parents, perhaps we did more right than wrong in this child-rearing process. We actually instilled in our son a solid work ethic and a proper moral base. But in the end, all we can do is attempt to provide a positive influence; the work must be done by our children and they must receive the credit.

The work, though, for our son has just begun. That’s one of life’s cruel jokes….we are never finished. On to creating a career and further development into a young, responsible adult. While as parents, knowing we will always be there for love and support and our influence will continue to wane, our comfort lies in the pride we have that our son is well on his way and his parents didn’t mess him up too badly.

“There are two lasting bequests we can give our children.  One is roots.  The other is wings.” – Hodding Carter, Jr.

Bill

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There is only one boss. The customer.  And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else. – Sam Walton, Founder of Wal-Mart

I had the fortunate experience last week at staying at a five-star hotel. I was struck by management’s attention to detail and the service attitude of the staff. If we asked where the restrooms were, the staff not only pointed us in the direction of them, but offered to escort us. When my wife commented that she enjoyed the free banana bread with breakfast, the waiter brought her the recipe. With every question and service request, the answer was never ‘no’ and there was never any hesitation in offering a solutions to our requests. We were floored by the quality staff who made us feel like the most important people in this 250 room hotel, which not surprisingly, was full during our stay.

This brought home to me the importance of client/customer service in all of our businesses. Too often we tend to feel like our job would be great without the interuptions and demands of our clients/customers. We forget that without them…… we don’t have a job!!

Client/customer service needs are to be constantly managed and in the forefront of our daily activities. However, there are definitely lines that need to be drawn; for instance, we cannot do something illegal for a client/customer. However, we need to remind ourselves of the importance of taking care of the people paying the bills. When confronted with client issues, I have always felt the most important thing we can do is first clearly understand the goals of our client, then properly communicate the issues and offer creative solutions.

The double-edged sword of technology is that clients know that we receive and obtain information constantly in the same way as they do, and therefore they demand that we react almost instantly to their requests. We need to be mindful of this and align our service delivery to meet their expectations. Otherwise, we are just another service provider and will fail in distinguishing ourselves within the market place.

Bill

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Part of the core values and beliefs of our firm is to give back to the community. When I passed the CPA exam in 1981, the managing partner at the time, Fred Withum, took me out to lunch.  Aside from congratulating the kid sitting across from him, he also enlightened me to the fact that it was time to get involved with a community organization. When I began exploring my options, I found that there were many opportunities.  However, as a 24 year old, I wanted to do something that was relevant to my peer group. Thus, I joined the Toms River Jaycees, which at the time was known for its good works in helping the local community and raising money for scholarships and other worthy causes.

Now, 30 years later as I look back over the many organizations I have been involved with, I can see the many advantages that community service has engendered upon me. Humbly, I can say I have been a part of organizations that have benefitted the community, either through raising social awareness and assisting those in need when they are most vulnerable, such as the AIDS patients serviced by the Hyacinth Aids Foundation; or by assisting artists in practicing their craft and in turn nurturing the economic development of the community in which they are based, such as what has occurred  during my tenure with the George Street Playhouse and New Brunswick Cultural Center. I like to think that the community is a better place because of the support I have been able to give over the past three decades.

However, through all the time and dollars spent on these and many other activities, I can honestly say that I have received more than I have given. Being involved has allowed me to interact with wonderful people who are socially minded and committed to their communities, many of whom I am proud to call friends. These experiences have helped me develop leadership skills by participating in board and committee meetings, and have taught me how to plan and lead projects and manage conflict resolution.  I can truly state that the effort was gratifying and well worth every dollar and every hour committed over the years.

In the current business climate where we are challenged by a slow growth economy and the demands of our jobs keep us struggling to come up for air, it is important to remember that our communities need our involvement for us to stay relevant as a vibrant, democratic society. But it is also important that we remember that to be well rounded citizens, we need to force ourselves off the couch and away from our video games and get involved in organizations that can draw out our passion and make us individually relevant, as well.

Bill

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