In 1989 Stephen R Covey wrote the seminal book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. It has sold 25+ Million copies and has been rated one of the 25 most influential business books of our time.

He died just a while ago after complications with a bicycle accident.  He was 79 years young.

He will be long remembered for his words, inspiration and legacy. His 7 habits shaped my life and many others I know: (in brackets my definition)

1) Be Proactive (get on the front foot and lead the way)

2) Begin with the end in mind (start at the end and work backwards to today)

3) Put first things first (get focused on what matters now – not the trivial crap)

4) Think WIN-WIN (think of the other person when doing a deal)

5) Seek first to understand, then to be understood (listen first, then give your opinion)

6) Synergize (magnify you via others)

7) Sharpen the saw (measure twice and cut once – get the skills you need to not make mistakes)

My business is called the “Proactive Accountants Network” for good reason.

He will be sadly missed. Most off by his family. RIP Stephen R Covey.

I’ve been too busy to post every day since arriving into the UK on Monday night so here is a summary of a great 6 days in the Olympic city.

Day 1 – Tuesday. Started with a 7 hour breakfast with the world famous Thomas and Penny Power. Fabulous time catching up and solving the world. Then off to a cocktail party with Virgin Galactic. Busy first day.

Day 2 – Wednesday. Off to the Farnborough airshow as a guest of the world famous Sir Richard Branson. It was awesome to see the (replica) spacecraft that I will be going into space in. Richard announced some new space/satellite initiatives which had a swarm of press in a frenzy over. It was absolute hoot to meet some other “Future Astronauts” (FAs) like me. Around 120 of us FAs there + partners.

The airshow was a sight with a low flying A380 which was busting some moves over head. I’ve been on the A380 10 times and never knew it could move like the late Michael Jackson! Unbelievable. The other jets where impressive but the star of the show was definitely the Virgin Galactic spaceship.

Then off to a legendary Virgin party that night. Got to spend some time with Richard & caught up with his mum again which was cool. Mrs Branson told me her book is finished called – “Mums the word”. Full of juicy details she said.

Day 3 – Thursday. Wee bit seedy after a BIG night at the Virgin party. Off on a bus trip to get a behind the scenes tour of the Olympics. It was fascinating to hear how  the area where many of the games will be held (Stratford) had very little infracture 7 years ago. Today is has the largest shopping centre in Europe, new accomodation and 5 new sporting stadiums.

Our tour guide said that a train every 14 seconds will be arriving at Stratford International train station bringing spectators to the games. Also met with the world famous Giles Brennand who is interesting in taking our business to Hong Kong later in the year.

Day 4 – Friday. The world famous Colin Dunn & I did some market research and met with a bunch of  Accountants and would be licensees of ours all day. Great to know that our business is directly transferable to the UK – just need to find the right people.

The world famous Nat Nixon started her 3 day “how to be a great speaker” course with the equally world famous Joanna Martin today. We’re starting a charity next year, which Nat will head up, so she is learning some new skills.

Day 5 – Saturday. I flew up north to see my awesome (and world famous in Northumberland) Grandfather. He is 91 and we all reckon he has at least another 9 years in him yet. Still as whitty as ever. Great to see him and his wife of 24 years – my step grandmother (who too is world famous in Northumberland) – Nancy.

Day 6 – Sunday. Did very little. Nat was at her course all day (I did pop in and say Hi to the group and tell a quick story) so I was on my own. Had a very long breakfast, went shopping, had a massage at Harrods (that was cool) and then went to Hyde park for a walk. Off to dinner tonight at a swish restaurant with Nat. Looking forward to hearing all about the course.

Off back to Australia tomorrow. Nat is staying on for the Olympics. We have a friend competing. The very talented (and who actually is world famous) Natalie Cook. It’s Nat’s 5th Olympics in a row (Beach volleyball) which makes Australian Olympic history. She’s won gold before – time to do it again!

Grandad

Flying high over London

Richard and me

FarnboroughAir force muscleNice jetA380What a circusSpaceshipPowers

Our company theme for the year is “Revolution”. This is what we are getting all of our Proactive Accountants Network member firms around the world focused on.

Specifically revolutionise …

  • Your clients – only work with the clients you want to work with, make sure they are properly serviced and you are efficiently doing the work.
  • Your team – only have the “A” team on your team, make sure they are well looked after and in return make sure they perform.
  • Your time – as an owner of an accounting firm make sure your time is focussed on 3 things only 1) extremely high end work, 2) nurturing existing clients (sales) and 3) leadership – driving performance and looking for new opportunities.
  • Your cash – clean out your work in progress, clean up your accounts receivable and make profits (dare I say it obscene ones) that are in line with your intellectual property and value!

Are you ready for the challenge?

Revolution

    Below is the June 2012 and financial year to date results of a very high performing Accounting firm. Through our network of 300+ firms we monitor their performance every single month through our cloud based monitoring system. I have circled the keys to this firms success. It is a 3 partner firm in the suburbs serving small businesses.

    As you can see their ‘lock up’ needs some attention but other than than they are doing exceptionally well. Our strategies work for small firms and large firms. This firm is a shining example of implementing our strategies. Make an enquiry if you are looking to revolutionise your financial performance!

    High performing firm

    Recently Nat & I were with Sir Richard Branson and a small group of future Astronauts (I am flying with Virgin Galactic soon) at Richards private retreat – the fabulous Kasbah Tamadot in Marocco.

    As I am giving a testimonial for my space flight Richard creeps through the bushes and scares the living daylights out of me. About 1.10min in. Enjoy!

    I have been asked by an editor of a publication to answer 2 questions on the accounting profession. In case my words are twisted, deleted or otherwise changed –  here are the 2 questions and my direct answer.

    What kind of a year was it for the CPA profession in 2011?

    The accounting profession hardly moved in performance due to the fact that (in general) it did not start being proactive with marketing and servicing their existing clients with value added services. If the only strategy is to reduce costs then, yes, profits will increase, however new clients and much needed services to existing clients will not eventuate. The profession could be wiped out by internet based accounting systems. It needs to step up and take it’s rightful place as the trusted advisor

    What kind of a year are we expecting in 2012, given that the year is half over already?

    The proactive firms are doing well. They always will. The reactive firms will always turn in a mediocre result. This year will be a ‘same same’ year as last year. The profession makes too much money too easily and as such apathy creeps in. I think most partners of firms are lazy – especially when it comes to servicing clients properly by offering value added services. A tsunami of change is on the way with internet based accounting systems. Firms need to get ready for a reduction in annual tax work over the next few years. I am a big believer that this needs to happen. To remain relevant innovation and new services must be introduced – otherwise many firms will go the way of the dinosaur.

    Very quick 4 day trip from Australia to the USA. Arrived Wednesday afternoon on Qantas (via LAX) and then right into tourist mode. Went down to the world famous Fisherman’s Wharf for a quick bite and then dinner out with the world famous Alex Goldfayn & Freda Valassakis.

    On Thursday did lunch with the world famous Simma Leiberman and John Weathington, bit of work then dinner out with some lovely guests from North Carolina (Steve & Karen Moss) and some old work buddies from the 90’s. It was awesome to dine with the world famous Natalie Nixon, Colin Dunn, Wendy Gleeson & Shannon Vincent.

    The reason I was here was for Friday when I presented my “7 figure business coaching” model to a bunch or people who had flown in from all over the country. The feedback was awesome – they loved what I do – and more importantly a bunch of them want to do what I do – 7 figure business coaching.

    On Friday night I booked a private room at ‘The Boulevard” restaurant for 8 of us. Truly magical to be with many including the world famous David Lingle.

    On Saturday it was all being a tourist. Met up with our dear friends and the world famous Mark & Molly Smith to spend the day together. We dined, went on the rocket boat, cable car, union square, out to dinner at an awesome restuarant then caught the live show of Christopher Cross (Sailing, Ride like the wind, Best that you can be) – simply awesome.

    Sunday was very subdued, lunch at Fisherman’s Wharf then a taxi out to the world famous Cliff House restaurant on the Pacific Ocean.

    Time to go home knowing that what we do in Australia is directly transferable to the USA. Very cool few days. Enjoy the pics.

    Bay bridgecable carhanging out the cable carOne in and one outpacific ocean beachStinky sealsRob & Nat Cliff houseChristopher Cross


    Why do you lose a client and why do you win a client?

    The answer is the same. I am talking to business people and Accountants every day and the answer is one or both of these:

    1. Service. Customer service,  limited relationship, rude, not proactive, not returning calls/emails/correspondence, no love, no phone calls, visits etc
    2. Services. Range of services, value for money, didn’t know how much it was going to cost, don’t know what it all means, I need more help etc

    They are the same 2 reasons they leave you. Just ask the next one that leaves. Or ask the next new one you got – “why did you leave your current Accountant?”

    If they say “they are too expensive.” That is not the real answer. The real answer is “they did not value add to what I am already paying”.

    You can stop the bleed by focusing on service and services. You can gain new clients by being an ace at service and services. At the end of the day your clients do not know if you are a good Accountant or not. They just know if they know you, like you and trust you!

    Last week I was in Bahrain at a leadership conference for Entrepreneurs Organisation (EO) for 4 days – well the conference was 1.5 days. I am proud to be a board member of the Brisbane Chapter of EO. The Brisbane chapter is one of the fastest growing chapters in the world. In Bahrain we had 350 EO leaders from around the world gather to learn and share experiences. I had never been to Bahrain before so I was looking forward to it.

    Day 1:

    I flew over on Etihad business class which was ontime, pleasant, flat bed seat but nothing real remarkable. By the time we got to the Hotel – 21 hours after leaving Brisbane – it was 10am local time. So off to a massage at 10:30 and then hit the golf course for a 1:30pm tee off at the Royal Golf Club Bahrain. It was very weird playing golf with oil pipes running past the fairways and oil pumps actually pumping oil when you are playing. The course also had the worlds biggest bunkers! I shot 82 off the stick which included 3 birdies so I was happy with that. I won the day and the money!

    We pushed through the jetlag as acclimatized to local time. That night I met up with some other EOers and had dinner and few drinks.

    Day 2:

    My mate Matt and I were able to book a charter boat and “dive guide” to go pearl diving with scuba gear on. By the time we had gotten to our destination (30 minutes off shore) we had seen dolphins, sting ray, a US Aircraft carrier and countless oil tankers. It was an awesome experience hunting for pearls. They grow in wild oysters so we were literally hunting on the ocean bed for them. We caught about 100 oysters, shucked them and got absolutely zero pearls. I have a feeling we went to the wrong spot – particularly when our guide told us afterwards that this was the first time she had been pearl diving!

    We got to see a bit of the architecture which is just amazing. I suppose when money is no object you can build what you want.

    We got back to base just in time for the conference to start at around 3pm. The conference was at the Bahrain International Circuit – home of F1 in Bahrain. After the opening sessions we had a cocktail party / dinner then “after hours” – which means a drink (or 5) at the bar.

    Day 3:

    Started the day with a photo on the start / finish line of the grand prix circuit. You don’t get to do that every day. Then it was into conference all day and then finishing with a gala dinner in the National Museum of Bahrain. We were the 3rd ever group to have a function there – very cool. Conference over. More “after hours” and little sleep.

    Because of the riots a few months back the police station themselves (just before dusk) at every intersection and roundabout with massive SWAT type 4WD vehicles. That didn’t stop a fire bomb going off in front of some friends of mine in a taxi as they came back from the night club.

    Day 4:

    Decided to play another round of golf in the searing heat and howling wind. We were in the middle of a sand storm that had blown in from Saudi Arabia. Not at all pleasant – we gave up after 9 holes. That afternoon a bunch of us went go kart racing at the F1 track. As you’d expect I won the day and the money – bit of a pattern going on here! I am not sure that my very tall German friends appreciated been beaten by an Aussie!

    We were about to head back to the hotel when we were able to talk our way into the neighbouring drag racing track. The security guard with the big gun was not that helpful but when one of our shuttle busses turned up we had some leverage to get in. This thing was amazing. It did 0-100km in 1.6 seconds. 1050 BHP and covered the 1/4 mile in 8 seconds reaching 250km at the end. It felt like your eyes were put in the back of your head as it accelerated. It was a 3 seater special with the driver at the front and then 2 passengers. They are planning a proper F1 car with 2 seats so you can experience real F1. Might have to go back for that one.

    After 2 hours sleep it was wake up, limo to the airport and then fly Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, Singapore, Brisbane – another 20 hours or so to get home. Awesome trip. Full on but very enjoyable – and the conference was worthwhile as well. Enjoy the photo’s.

    Golf in the desertMassive BunkerOli pipes and rig while playing golfPutting next to oil rigWinnerOil refineryCool buildingOn the F1 trackWinner again3 seater drag carThat's a lot of horsesJust been very fast