Earlier this year I had the honor to meet with two of our profession’s think tanks, chocked full of amazing leaders. My first thought was to give you a little recap or peek into what we discussed but I know that you will be seeing the fruits of our labors throughout the year on social media and in speeches and workshops from each of these incredible individuals. So I decided to take a different approach and share with you the “why” to the importance of meetings like this in hopes that it will inspire you to make a few changes to increase your personal intellectual capital.
Identify Your Gifts
That's right, the first thing I would coach you to do, if you were sitting with me today, is to make a list of your characteristics and traits that you are really proud to claim. By identifying your strengths, you will know what you bring to the table to share with others. As you develop a peer group or think tank, you want to be able to give as much as you get. The only way to really do that is if you are confident in your own skills and abilities. Confidence is the key word here. Be self-aware and show pride in who you are.
Identify New Knowledge You Need
Once you’ve identified your gifts, there is an opposite side of the equation. You need to understand where you could use some help and new knowledge. This list does not need to be long; in fact, I encourage you to keep it short. List one or two things that would really benefit you either personally or professionally. Everyone has something they could improve on, or a new skill or piece of knowledge that they would like to acquire. Think deeply about this step. It is possibly the most important. Knowing what you want to get out of the conversations and the relationships will help you stay focused and centered.
Identify Someone Who Can Help You Elevate
In my case, I’ve met with a group that I helped to start, The CPA Consultants Alliance, and a group that I have been asked to join, The CPA Practice Advisors Thought Leaders. In both cases I am surrounded by amazing individuals who, like me have families, a career we love, a passion to help others and a connection to this amazing profession. We also have one other characteristic that binds us together; we love to learn. We are hungry to find new knowledge and to continually grow in our intellectual capital.
That is the kind of people and groups you need to find for yourself. In my case, it started small with one-on-one meetings many years ago. Today, I still like my one-on-ones but I have also expanded to these larger groups. You may find your group locally by looking for peers among competitors or from similar professions. You may also find your group at a state or national level by working with your CPA Societies or with peer communities like those offered by our firm. Either way, find individuals who are smarter than you and find the courage to make the connection!
Identify a Plan for Implementation
Thinking about connecting is just not enough. You must make the time and take action! Use your calendar, to-do list or any other tool that helps you keep a commitment. You will find that individuals are really excited about sharing what they know and that they especially like to help others. All you have to do is reach out and set the meeting.
The bottom line is, hanging out with people who are smarter than you is the best way to insure success in your life. Take the challenge and start your personal thought leader initiative today!