Overheard At The 2012 Winning Is Everything Conference

Leaders across the profession attended the 11th annual “Winning Is Everything” conference in Las Vegas in January, presented by The Advisory Board. Below is a sampling of a few of the insights shared.

  • “I’m looking for advice.” SS&G MP Gary Shamis, who announced that he will be stepping down as MP, when asked what he will be doing next.
  • “Great leadership is hard to come by, so if you have identified someone in your firm who can be a great leader, utilize them!” Gary Shamis
  • “It’s packaging, not hours.” Gary Boomer, on identifying ways to communicate value. “Time does not have anything to do with value.”
  • “There will be a mega-mega merger that will rock the profession.” Allan Koltin’s “One Big Prediction” for 2012.
  • “Those with passion do. Those without passion try.” Gary Boomer on the power of passion in the workplace.
  • “We ride market conditions.” Gale Crosley describing the (inappropriate) default strategy for growth in the accounting profession.”
  • “Grab it while no one else is there.” Gale Crosley talking about opportunities to capitalize on ‘an international market’ that is virtually untouched by domestic CPA firms.
  • “We are a profession that has not learned how to define value.” Gale Crosley”
  • “When you look clear-eyed at this problem, the reality is that we have invested virtually nothing in people to succeed current leadership.” Gale Crosley lamenting the profession’s short-sightedness in dealing with succession planning.
  • “It’s a process, not an event.” Gary Shamis talking about the transition of the MP.
  • “Need to move from the individualized game like golf to the team game like football.” Gale Crosley describing the change in mindset many firms need to establish within their own culture to work more like a team and win the future.
  • “We require every partner age 55 and older to provide a non-binding retirement date estimate.” Charlie Hahn, MP of Baker Newman Noyes, on actions taken in the firm to help with succession planning.
  • “We were opportunistic.” Bob Glaser, MP of Freed Maxick & Battaglia, on the past successes of the firm. He went on to say that as MP, you owe it to your firm to look at all opportunities as they come up, even if its not part of the strategic plan.
  • “I’ve screwed up a lot of things over the years, but I don’t see any of it as having made a mistake.” Steve Mayer describing the need to learn from all opportunities and experiences.
  • “We never made a financial decision based on the cost of the investment. We made the decision based on the cost of the lost opportunity.” Steve Mayer on decision-making perspectives in the firm.
  • “Go backpacking.” Advice from Steve Mayer on finding the critical thinking time needed. It was on backpacking trips that some of the major innovations in the firm were initially conceived.
  • “IQ is not a determinant of success. Character and personality are.” David Maister on the notion that passion, drive and determination are more critical to success in professional service firms.
  • “To be a mile wide and an inch deep is no longer the path to success.” CBIZ CEO Dave Sibits on the need to specialize.
  • “You devalue an organization by failing to have a succession plan. “An observation by Dave Sibits, who examines dozens of acquisition prospects each year.
  • “We’re going to see a number of deals in 2012 among the Top 40 that will be rather shocking.” Dave Sibits, hinting that “by 2015, we may again be back to a Big Eight.”
  • “A very small percentage.” David Maister commenting on how few CPA firms actually put the client’s interests ahead of their own.
  • “Most successful people are the ones who make others want to be with them.” David Maister on leadership.
  • “You have to either please your clients, or come to the realization that these people are unpleasable and get rid of them.” David Maister on client satisfaction, retention and firing.
  • “There will be a day soon when a client asks his smart phone what the gross profit of his business was in the last quarter.” AICPA VP Jim Metzler on rapid advances in technology and the need for CPAs to lead the way.
  • “Businesses that have a cultural focus on “what’s next” will be more successful than those who focus on how we do things now.” Taylor-Made (golf clubs) CEO Mark King on a leaders need to always keep an eye on the horizon and empower the team to look for innovations. “Create an environment where every single team member takes responsibility for the future.”
  • “When you organize around the principle of everything running smoothly, you get no chaos. And with no chaos, you get no innovation.” Mark King on the need to shake things up.
  • “It’s easy to be incremental. It takes real courage to do something extraordinary.” Mark King on the rewards of bold action.
  • “We will pursue perfection. And along the way we will find excellence.” Mark King quoting legendary football coach Vince Lombardi.