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Archive for September, 2015

In the coming months, I will share a series of messages covering each of the ten behavioral traits which define the Withum Way.  We introduced this list for the first time at the State of the Firm event in January 2012, having created it with the intent to define the core values of our firm’s people.  This is the way we think; this is the way we feel; this is what we do.  These behaviors go beyond office walls, beyond service and industry niche teams, as they spill over into the way we choose to perform, even in our personal lives.  As we grow as a firm, defining the Withum Way philosophy serves as a playbook for younger staff and new members of our Withum family on how to continue developing our culture, our brand and our business strategies, essentially institutionalizing our culture.

So, today, we begin with the first trait:

  1. Think Client Centrically.  The purpose behind most everything we do revolves around the betterment of our relationships with our clients. This is the impetus behind providing ‘world-class client service.’

Competition is fierce.  What sets our firm apart from its competitors, however, is our unwavering commitment to providing World Class Service to our clients, going above and beyond what is expected.  As stated in our Core Values messaging, our greatest success is derived from working alongside every client as a true partner, and watching their business grow and thrive. We are more than just accountants. We are business advisors who offer innovative solutions and alternative ideas to help our clients succeed.

To really make an impression with our highly valued clients, take the time to actually speak with them at least once a month, if not more often.  Pick up the phone and make a call.  Arrange a time to stop by their offices just to see how things are. Take your clients out to breakfast or lunch and discuss face-to-face what is keeping them up at night.  Make it a point to let your client know you value their business. And don’t be afraid of getting to know your clients on a personal level. Ask about their family; ask about their interests. You may be pleasantly surprised to learn how much you have in common. It’s the little things that go a long way in preserving your client relationships and solidifying your role as trusted advisor.  Frequent touches with our clients help to ensure they are our clients for many years to come.

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Happy New Year to everyone celebrating Rosh Hashanah.

As shared in previous posts, I enjoy reading books and articles on leadership and business topics as part of my own professional development. They often serve as inspiration for many ideas and initiatives which are currently established here at the firm. I recently read The Real-Life MBA: Your No-BS Guide to Winning the Game, Building a Team, and Growing Your Career, authored by Jack & Suzy Welch. Jack Welch, as you may know, is the legendary former-CEO of General Electric who was named “Manager of the Century” by Fortune magazine in 2000. His wife, Suzy Welch, is a bestselling author, television commentary and noted business journalist. The book is chock full of sound business advice, with six key learning opportunities which I felt are most applicable to every professional in our firm, relating to Team Alignment, Growth, Leadership, Marketing B2B, Building a Winning Team and Getting Unstuck in Your Career.  I’d like to share a little about each through this and five additional future messages.

Let’s start with Team Alignment, which means more than simply a group of people who are in agreement. Alignment reflects an active ownership on the part of the team members, with each individual understanding and contributing to the goals, vision, and solution of top challenges. And Leadership is the driver to galvanizing the kind of alignment that takes the grind out of work.  Here are a few points the Welch’s share to get your teams successfully aligned:

  1. Getting into everyone’s skincaring passionately about your people and understanding what makes them tick. If you want to inspire even more good stuff happening within your team, you need to truly get to know and care about your people as individuals. Your people give their days (and sometimes their nights) to you. They give their hands, brains and hearts. Sure, they are paid a salary to do so. But as a leader, you need to fill their souls. As a firm, we are more than happy to reimburse expenses related to lunches or activities with your staff with the intent to build stronger relationships.
  2. Serving as the Chief Meaningful Officer – using words and deeds to give your team’s work context and purpose. Remember, your people spend more than 40 hours a week working. If you’re not helping them make meaning of that investment, you’re wasting their time and their lives. Be aspirational in your tone with your team members. They want to be a part of something bigger than themselves.
  3. Removing blockages – clearing bureaucracy and other nonsense out of the way of your team’s path to results. A leader’s job is to sweep away those things which stand in the way of a team reaching its target. That includes people, too: the action blockers, the change resistors, the process obsessives. There’s always a way to create work-arounds for most anything so your team members can achieve their goals. And there are certainly plenty of people within our firm with a wealth of “people experience” to assist you in this area if needed.
  4. Demonstrating the generosity gene – going over-the-top in your desire and effort to reward people for great performance, using money, promotions and praise. One of my favorite things about the State of the Firm event is to recognize talented, loyal staff with our Strength Awards and Milestone Awards, also giving them a monetary gift. But remember, a simple ‘thank you’ or an announcement during a team meeting sharing praise about a job well done is free and goes a long way. And don’t forget about the Gotcha Awards!
  5. Making sure the work is fun – creating an environment of enjoyment and celebration. “Work Hard-Play Hard” is part of the Withum Way culture, and I think we do a pretty good job of having a good time while also providing the world-class service our clients expect. We embrace humor and candor; we do things outside of the office to build camaraderie; we do our best to adhere to our ‘no jerk’ policy and maintain a familial atmosphere. Every leader in our firm should help nurture this very important behavior.

I hope you enjoyed this first installment of the thought leadership coming from The Real Life MBA.

Have a great week!

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I hope you are enjoying this beautiful holiday weekend. It’s a bittersweet time of year, with Labor Day marking the unofficial end of summer. To many of you, it means getting ready for back-to-school, hosting that last barbeque party or getting in one more road trip for the season. To the business community, it generally means the relaxed summer mood is now over, Friday is once again a full 8-hour day, and it’s time to get back into the normal swing of things. And of course to our accountants, it means the September 15th deadline is only 8 days away.

Labor Day is a federal holiday dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers and is traditionally celebrated on the first Monday in September. Here are a few more things about Labor Day you might not know:

  • The first Labor Day observance was believed to have been a parade in New York City on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, organized by the Central Labor Union. 10,000 workers marched in the parade up Broadway.
  • By 1893 more than half of the states were observing Labor Day and a bill to establish Labor Day as a federal holiday was introduced in Congress.
  • On June 28, 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed into law an act making the first Monday of September Labor Day, a federal holiday.
  • Labor Day is the third most popular holiday weekend for barbecuing, after July 4th and Memorial Day.
  • Labor Day is the official end to hot dog season. According to the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council, hot dog season begins on Memorial Day and ends on Labor Day.
  • Labor Day is often referred to as the ‘unofficial end of summer’. Officially, summer extends through late September. This year, the first day of fall will be September 23rd.
  • 44 percent of the time, the NFL plays its first official season game the Thursday after Labor Day. This year, the Steelers and Patriots (with Tom Brady) play on September 10th.

Good #funfacts about Labor Day! Please be sure to take a well-deserved break and enjoy these last days of summer, appreciating all the things you have labored so hard to achieve. We recognize it is our dedicated staff who work hard throughout the entire year, helping put our firm, our clients and our communities in a position of strength.

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