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Gary Boomer Shares 5 Lessons for Accounting in 2021 - Lyle Ball, CEO and Co-Founder of Avii Responds

In a nutshell: Think now, rather than react later

The time to pause, think and log your satisfaction of workflows and processes (and the technologies that drive them) is while we power through each seasonal swell of demand and activity calendared by our accounting requirements and deadlines...not in the weeks following each major deadline. When the rush of an accounting season is over, and we’ve recovered physically, emotionally and socially from its costs, one of the last things we want to do is to go back to that season and think deeply about the pains and distractions and root causes of our deliverables and profitability. Think now, while you are on the battlefield of an accounting season, then once the season ends, you will be better prepared to act quickly on the change management and technological evolutions required to improve your personal life, advance team performance, and elevate firm outcomes.

Recently, Gary Boomer, Visionary and Strategist for Boomer Consulting, Inc., shared 5 lessons for the future from the Peter Diamandis Abundance 360 Conference that was held in January 2021 as a hybrid event in Culver City, Calif.

Each of the lessons holds merit for the accounting industry, which, like every industry, has gone through substantial changes during the COVID pandemic.

Lyle Ball, Avii CEO and Co-Founder, shares each of these lessons today with additional perspective from Avii’s own point of view, as follows, which we believe you’ll enjoy.

Could we have imagined a year ago the great leaps in telemedicine, live streaming of church services, school and university courses and virtual court (will any of us soon forget the hapless attorney who borrowed his secretary’s laptop only to discover onscreen that a whimsical Zoom filter had turned him into a cat?) Interestingly, all professions have been confronted with weaknesses and opportunities in varying measures over the prior 12 months. Accounting was not alone, as Boomer notes and BallLyle agrees.

A significant share of the U.S. workforce has now experienced working from home. Leaders have learned to manage these forces in new ways. Many don’t intend to return to the office in full force, and some not at all...leading to seismic changes in the nature of homes, home offices, requirements for network bandwidth and security and even wardrobes, fashion and recreational choices and sports.

Says Boomer, “Why didn’t we do this before the pandemic? The technology (toolsets) and (skill sets) were already available and being used by innovative businesses.”

The “a-ha moment” is this, he notes: “With the right mindset, the profession has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to lead the business community with a mindset of abundance rather than scarcity.

Notes Lyle Ball: “The experience we’ve lived through has led entrepreneurs to ask and answer the ‘magic question’ – ‘What does this open up for me? For my firm? For our clients and for their customers?’”

From this perspective, both Boomer and Ball acknowledge the accounting profession should be proud of having gone virtual in many cases within the space of 48 to 72 hours.

Prophetically, Dr. Diamandis authored his book “Abundance; The Future is Better Than You Think” in 2013.

The Abundance 360 draws world technology experts from all over the world and was conducted as a hybrid event with participants attending live or remotely, as they chose or were required. It was a huge success, Boomer reports. But this year, according to the NY Times, the event brought something additional as well. Eighty of the participants and staff attended the California event live. But despite all precautions, including attendees providing negative COVID tests and staff taking frequent instant tests during the conference, in the days afterward some 24 attendees and staff including Diamandis himself, contracted COVID during the event.

The lessons learned by Diamandis (who holds a medical degree from Harvard), as he told the NY Times, was that negative tests and rapid testing can create a false sense of security that can cause us to let down our guard. (Thankfully none of the cases were serious and all have recovered.)

Some key questions from Boomer for us all to consider:

  • How would you plan your life and career if your life expectancy (quality life) was extended to 125?

  • Where would you choose to live if bandwidth were unlimited and housing costs were 50 percent of where you live now? More important, where would your employees choose to live?

  • How much time would you spend on upskilling?

And now for the five lessons from Abundance 360 we should all be considering right now:

Lesson 1, from Dan Sullivan, founder of The Strategic Coach:

“Your eyes only see, and your ears only hear, what your mind is looking for.”

From Boomer: “I urge you to think about the innovations in 1921 versus 2021. The big innovations 100 years ago were: the discovery of insulin, epidural anesthesia, the polygraph, the automobile headrest, crop dusting, the overhead door, and the first use of the term ‘robot’ in a play by Karel Capek. Training and developing our mindset is critical to sustaining success and remaining future-ready.”

From Ball: “Confirmation bias is pervasive. When our mind expects to see trauma, we find it. When we expect to see opportunities, they are everywhere.”

As Ball notes, at the beginning of the pandemic, entrepreneurs were as concerned as anyone, but instinctively leaned in, to find the ways for their firms or small practices to innovate, to improve and to shine in the face of disruption. Others, however, instinctively reverted to anger and blame. Still others froze in their fear and became apoplectic. Neither of these ends of the continuum were a pathway to power. But by looking for opportunity with emotions in check (even when adrenaline was high) many in the accounting profession have flourished.

Lesson 2, Joe Polish, founder of Piranha Marketing:

Via Boomer: “A person has a million dreams, but without their health, they have only one. Longevity, diet, exercise and sleep advancements are key. Most in our profession are not getting the recommended eight hours, especially during the busy season. Behavioral norms must change to attract and retain top talent and keep them healthy. Excessive charge hours are no longer a badge of honor. Virtual work has opened the world to talent, and other resources.”

From Ball: “We can argue there is no such thing as full achievement of sustained work/life balance. But we must always balance our priorities in the day, the moment and the season to protect our health, as Polish says, but also our relationships with family and cherished friends and associates as the highest treasure we will have grown and protected at the end of our lives. This is now more possible than ever due to virtual work options, self-management and the implementation of deep automation of tasks, workflows and communications...all leading to improved client experiences, improved employee experiences, increased profitability and better lifestyles for accountants. A dream? Yes. But one you can live out with existing technologies and change management principles.”

Lesson 3, Jeff Wilke, CEO of Amazon Consumer:

Via Boomer: “Jeff tells a very compelling story about the Amazon supply chain and the impact of COVID. His most important piece of advice was to write your press release first and then work backward. He also focuses on continuous process improvement and emphasizes that failures occur during innovation. His advice: Separate the project from the person. This applies to many processes in an accounting firm.”

From Ball: “As an executive whose bachelor’s degree is in public relations, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of beginning with the end (the press release) in mind, engineering the process backward from the ideal outcome, and then innovating as many times as required to bring the successful outcome about. And fewer words have ever been wiser in the process of workflow design: ‘Separate the project from the person.’ Always. Visualize the dream. Document it. Then carry out the required change management to bring that dream to life.”

Lesson 4, Marc Benioff, founder and CEO of Salesforce:

Via Boomer: “We are now in Stage 3 of the cloud: work from anywhere. The pandemic advanced us from Stage 2, which focused on mobile. Before mobile, we were in Stage 1, which focused on hardware and software as a service. I am particularly impressed with Benioff’s business acumen and his focus on social issues, and how businesses can drive change in their communities.”

From Ball: “The Cloud changes everything in many industries. The accounting profession has historically been slower to adopt than many other industries, I think largely due to overvaluing the reduction of risk brought by change in lieu of the benefits gained by making the change itself. However, if one is allowed to identify a benefit that can emerge from a pandemic, the accounting sector is rapidly pivoting to cover new ground. This past year has been a powerful instrument in breaking through the upper walls of resistance to change management, and propelling deep technology automation, change management and resulting big-data-driven business intelligence.

Lesson 5, Keith Ferazzi, author of “Leading without Authority”:

Via Boomer: “Keith started his career with Deloitte but is now focused on co-elevation, consulting, speaking and writing. He stresses that most people are terrible managers and desperately need upskilling. This problem is widespread, and firm leaders must focus on their own behavior to recognize cognitive bias. He also spoke about the sourcing trend and reminded the audience to focus on sourcing tasks and not roles. Virtual has expanded a global market for many tasks. Job descriptions need change, and the use of agile processes will increase. Ferazzi’s words are especially relevant to the accounting profession and the need for significant changes in mindset in order to leverage the new tools and skills.”

From Ball: “The need for continual upskilling is perennial. The current pandemic has served in many ways to make these needs more apparent and more urgent than ever before. The need to up-level, as I call it, is present for all of us, from organization leaders on down. The access to greater resources and the willingness and ability to learn, adapt and modify quickly will continue to be one of our most important areas of focus for the balance of 2021 and beyond. In the end, advanced technology automation should be removing all less-strategic and repetitious actions from the life of the accounting professional, and should empower them with actionable data and focused time to grow their personal ability to deliver value and advice to their clients.”

In Conclusion

In all, a focus on the mindset of abundance will be critical in our firms and our personal advances in 2021 as well as our continuing progress in advancing the accounting industry overall, Ball remarks. And in the words of Gary Boomer: “Think, plan and grow!”

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