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I read with some amusement about the IRS’s attempt to kick off a training and leadership conference with a Star Trek themed video, and now members of Congress are criticizing them for misspending taxpayer dollars. You can see the video for yourself at CBSNews.com.

 

We had a similar issue three years ago, when we were looking for something fun and interesting to do as a kick off to our annual State of the Firm meeting. This meeting takes place just before busy season, and is designed to update and motivate our staff about our firm, with about 450 people in attendance. One of our partners, Dan Vitale, saw a lip sync video done by the Today Show to the song, “I’ve Got  Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas, and forwarded the video link to me and our Director of Marketing and Practice Growth, Rhonda Maraziti, thinking it would be something fun to do to ‘boost morale’.  Rhonda came to me with the thought that doing something similar would make for a great meeting opener, and convinced me that her team could pull this off.  I must admit, I was hesitant in our ability to deliver – hey, we’re accountants! – but you can view the fantastic results of our inaugural video here.

 

Now, three videos later, WithumSmith+Brown has become known nationally in the accounting circles as “the firm with the cool videos.”  They likely accomplish everything the IRS was looking to achieve in their not-so-successful attempt, having morphed into great motivational and team-building tools for our staff.  On video filming days, the excitement is palpable, as our hard-working professionals get a half-day reprieve from the norm to reach outside of their comfort zones and do something new and different. What makes it special is that our staff don’t mind laughing at themselves, truly enjoying the experience and having a good time. The videos have helped with our recruiting efforts; increased our profile in the profession; and amongst clients, we are thought of as a progressive firm willing to think outside of the box.

 

You can view our second and most popular video to date here (52,000 hits).  Our newest video can be found on the home page at www.withum.com.

 

So, after viewing the IRS video, I can sympathize with those who made the decision to move forward on this project, understanding what they were trying to accomplish and recognizing the monumental task at hand to create something that would motivate and energize the leadership of their massive organization. Of course, since they are a government agency, they can’t help but overpay for everything, with the cost of the Star Trek video being almost double the cost of all three of our videos combined.  Then again, we didn’t need three bids to get ours done.

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