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.

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.  

True leaders don’t rely on hindsight

The last 6 months have been transformational for us all, what with #Covid19 and more recently #BlackLivesMatter. Both have hugely negative sides and more unknowns than knowns, which society is still very much in the early tentative steps of understanding and dealing with. The big question must be where were the leaders, whether within government, business, or within the community/society before the outbreak in China and events in the US?

In a world which seems to be made more of followers than true leaders, how will the journey ahead look?

Governments seem to be stuck in a ‘sound bite political arena’ as they seek short-term relevance and electability within their term(s).

All too many within business and society are quick to react to the here and now. We all need to take a step back and ask whether more could/should have been done before they/we were forced to react. Hindsight is always a marvelous thing, but as we consider what the world used to look like we realise that the signs were there. True leaders were making their mark in those days.

Challenging times for all, but there is a real opportunity to make things better within the workplace and wider society, so it’s time to take ownership of #yourjourneyahead