As you head out into the market to find food to feed your business, what drives your success?

I believe it’s all about your passion, honesty, openness and owning your story.

So what’s my story in trying to find success in what is a challenging and disruptive world, and why do I use nature and landscape images to illustrate my journey?

What I’m looking to do, is link my passions and what inspires me .

My core passion is all about what is around us.  From an early age I’ve loved being out and about exploring the world around me.  My education took me to agricultural college to study conservation and environmental management, and then I headed to university to read agricultural business studies.  My passion took me to the US where I worked for Utah State Wildlife Resources as a ranger, and then onto the Massachusetts Audubon Society where I studied Box Turtles.

Then the direction of my journey took a significant turn when I found a business card on the floor of pub and decided to call the person.  By taking ownership of my journey, I found my second passion – helping individuals and businesses to be relevant.

For the next 20 years I owned my journey which took me to nearly 90 countries on 6 of the seven continents – sadly there are not many businesses seeking support in Antarctica!

My journey allowed me to meet and visit with thousands of business leaders and the opportunity to listen to their stories.  I’m hugely grateful and fortunate for the experiences I’ve gained on my journey to date.

In April 2020 I lost control of my journey, and to some extent my story, when others decided that I was surplus to requirement.  12 months earlier I’d decided to leave a role where I’d been for over 10 years and which I’d loved, but I felt I needed a new challenge.  Do I regret my decision to leave?  Absolutely not.  I’ve learnt more about myself and the world around me since leaving, what in hindsight, was my comfort zone and look to challenge myself.  Since last April, the opportunity to learn has only increased as I’ve looked to build my own business and ‘Brand Me’.

Many talk about B2B, B2C and other derivatives of these.  My focus is on H2H.  People do business with people they know, like and trust.  By being open and honest about your passion(s) and story, can only help to connect you with others and to explore opportunities.

I hope my story resonates with many, and encourages them to reach out to explore how we might partner and share our journeys ahead.

So back to the question of why do I use nature and landscape pictures to illustrate my story and journey? 

Firstly, I want to combine my two passions.  I truly believe that we can all learn so much from both the beauty and wildness of nature, and understand how we might be impacting it in an ever increasingly negative way.  Individuals and businesses alike, need to become more sustainable to remain relevant to those they share, employ and serve and the world around them on their journey ahead.

Secondly, even if for whatever reasons you don’t agree with my views, hopefully the images I use will allow you to escape your here and now, the confines of the four walls around you and your Zoomed out/Teams filled days and encourage you to simply stop and enjoy the images that don’t normally appear in a business context on social media platforms.

Regarding the picture of the Northern Carmine Bee-eaters used on this post – if you haven’t seen it already, I strongly recommend you watch BBC’s A Perfect Planet – Weather.  Whatever your views on the relevance of our impact on the world around us, the story of the Bee-eaters is one that I believe resonates to the challenges we’re all facing in navigating our place and relevance in the world of today and tomorrow. 

We all need to change the way we live and work to deliver our long term relevance.  To achieve this we all need to own our story and journey ahead.

Do you know what your clients are looking for to meet their hunger for growth?

The ever changing demand on the delivery of relevant accounting services

Leadership within the accounting profession are continually being told that they have to change to remain relevant, and that the days of those firms that focus on providing traditional services are over.

The reality is that there is a lot of misunderstanding about this transition of offering which most commentators and consultants see as a small step for mankind, but for the majority of the firms the experience is more of a giant leap for the profession.

The accounting profession has seen much change in 2020, the majority of which was enforced rather than strategic, but the general opinion is that as a profession it has done better than most.

As 2020 comes to end, firms are reviewing what they will look like in 2021 and beyond on many levels, not least how they will work (i.e. in the office, at home or a hybrid model) but also how they can best support their clients.

‘Now is the time to be innovative and creative in the way accounting firms look to deliver true value’

Now is the time to be innovative and creative in the way accounting firms look to deliver true value to both their teams and clients alike, as both are questioning the true value and relationship they receive.

My fear for the profession is that it is going to lurch from what is a fairly bland and undifferentiated position of the provider of compliance services to a maybe less bland but similarly undifferentiated world of provider of advisory services.

From the results of two recent independent surveys on potential advisory offerings and needs, it is interesting to see that there does not seem to be total alignment in terms of what the profession believes are the top priorities of the market and what the pains and/or needs of market (i.e. what CFO’s who are reaching out to the profession for support) actually are.

For many, these are challenging times but there are real opportunities out there for those that have a true close relationship with their clients and are really listening to, understanding and then delivering relevant support offerings.

Leadership within the accounting profession need to take ownership of #yourjourneyahead, and the primary focus needs to be a shift from being seen as historians and the keeper/purveyor of past data and transitioning to being seen as futurists.

This transition does not mean throwing away what has got them to where they are today, rather the need to be open to listen and learn from others on what their relevance might be tomorrow.

‘leadership within accounting firms need to stop thinking like accountants when building their firm’s strategy’

When planning #yourjourneyahead, leadership within accounting firms need to stop thinking like accountants when building their firm’s strategy to be more market relevant.  When you consider how other sectors build strategy, they reach out to their accountants and other external advisors to gain insight, support and guidance – so why do the majority of accounting firms not follow this example?

As already mentioned, 2021 and beyond offer real opportunities for those with the right mindset.  Accounting firm leaders need to take ownership and reach out to others (outside of your firm) to help understand and live their story of #yourjourneyahead in delivering greater client relevance and value.

So what is leadership?

Many people have looked to define what leadership is in more books than anyone can find the time to read.

In the world we find ourselves in leadership has never been more important, but what defines a true leader?

“The only definition of a leader is someone who has followers.” – Perter Drucker
“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” – Warren Bennis
“As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” – Bill Gates
“Leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.” – John Maxwell
“Leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal.” – Kevin Kruse

Kevin Kruse highlighted the above quotes in a Forbes article back in 2013

7 years on, and as businesses seek to deal with the challenges and opportunities of what can only be described as one of the most disruptive periods in a generation or (potentially more), true leadership has never been more important.

Developing from the themes above, my view on leadership is that it is a process of social influence founded on shared values that empowers others to individually excel while looking to maximise their combined efforts in achieving a clearly defined purpose.”

What are your thoughts?


It’s not just goats that need to be agile in today’s world

In response to Covid-19, professional service firms have had to adapt to new ways of work that are now the ‘new norm’. 

Agility is now a key success factor to the continued relevance of many firms but agility has not historically been associated with operational success of (in particular) accounting and law firms.

Agile firms can quickly redirect their people and priorities toward value-creating opportunities. McKinsey  & Company have identified five operating-model dimensions to drive agility:

1.      Strategy – a shared purpose and vision embodied across the organisation

2.      Structure – a network of empowered teams

3.      Process – rapid decision and learning cycles

4.      People – dynamic people model that ignites passion

5.      Technology – next-generation enabling technology

Considering a clearly defined strategy as a starting point, many accounting and law firms are quick to promote and talk about their purpose, values and vision (story) but rarely truly live to these ideals. All to often leadership teams look to these critical foundations to success as a DIY/tick box exercise.

By failing to get the purpose, vision and story right, they fail (among other things) to ignite and sustain passion within their people and in turn do not have empowered teams. Accounting and law firms tend to focus too much on technology and process because these are within the comfort zone of the technical mindset/competencies of most firm leaders. 

Get it right on purpose, values and having a relevant story, your firm will be agile (by creating firm wide engagement and trust towards change) and this will also lead to increasing your reputation and visibility within your market(s) as a firm of choice.  

These are challenging times for business but they also offer a real opportunity for true leaders to shine.

Rachel Cutler theGrogroup Ltd. recently wrote: ‘We are not returning to what we know; we are departing from what we knew. If the message is conveyed without ambiguity, with honesty and with a sense that it will be a shared experience, they have a better chance to take everyone with them into this brave new world of work’.

All business leaders need to banish any talk of ‘Norm’ and look to take ownership of their respective new way. Don’t always look to rely on/blame others (i.e. governments) – this should just be seen as a source of guidance and validation that you’re on the right track! The last 6 or so months have radically impacted the way we live and work. Reality is that we are really only in the early stages of Covid-19. Recent news in the UK is that Government/scientists are predicting 3 times more than the current 45,000 Covid related deaths in the coming months. More lock-downs will come so businesses need to develop an agile workforce and working practices and look to new ways and opportunities for their market offering(s).

There is no denying that these are challenging times for business but they also offer a real opportunity for true leaders to shine and bring real value, purpose and support to those around them. #management#innovation#yourjourneyahead

Far too many business sectors have delayed decisions that could and should of been made some time ago.

‘The old way of retail has been dying for years and Covid-19 pushed it off a cliff. But a more resilient retail industry is shaping up right in front of our eyes. The future of retail is already here, it’s just hiding in plain sight’ Tien Tzuo

The word ‘retail’ could be substituted by most if not all other sectors (e.g. professional services, property, hospitality etc…).

As a business owners/leaders, what are you doing to navigate #yourjourneyahead to give your business and clients 20:20 vision?