Leadership does not start with managing a team. It starts the moment you hire someone. So how do you improve your hiring strategy and retain an effective team? Jackie Meyer, founder of TaxPlanIQ and Meyer Tax Consulting, is here to answer that. She joins host Michelle Weinstein to share valuable insights on leadership that will help you manage your employees with trust and love. It took going past the breaking point for Jackie to take the leap and finally hire her first employee, then her team. Listen in as she shares the lessons she’s learned and the mistakes she’s made along the way. Plus, Jackie explains Meraki Leadership and emphasizes the critical role core values have for any organization. Tune in to learn all about it.
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How to Improve Who You Hire: Hiring Strategies and Leadership Skills To Manage An Effective Team with Jackie Meyer
In this episode, our special guest is Jackie Meyer. She’s the CPA, CCA, and a Doctoral candidate. She is the President and Founder of Meyer Tax Consulting LLC in Southlake, Texas. She is also a top-rated speaker and one of the few female thought leaders with 4,000 members in her Accounting Firm Influencers Facebook group. Make sure to join that. Her passion is combining technology with unparalleled client service. It came to her at the young age of 27.
She is one of the youngest female CPA owners in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Giving back is one of Jackie’s top priorities. She works with local and global nonprofits as an educational and equality initiative leader. Jackie has 2 kiddos, 3 dogs, and her loving husband, Mark. She attends Life.Church and travels the world as much as possible.
Before we welcome Jackie to the show, I know that a lot of accounting and tax pros think that increasing their fees to their current clients will lose them clients, resulting in lower revenues. I’m sure that discounting your fees, getting as many clients as possible, and sending out proposals and quotes might work.
That’s for anyone who wants to increase their firm revenue by working a lot harder and taking on new clients slowly and with a lot more struggle. The simple fact is that the clients I work with at the Abundant Accountant empire triple their base fees and get paid first and upfront without ever having to chase clients down for payments or having accounts receivable ever again.
If you want to see how other accounting and tax pros are doing this, register for my brand new masterclass at TheAbundantAccountant.com/Masterclass. It’s an investment now to provide a lifetime of increased revenue without taking on more hours or having to get more designations and qualifications. It’s a completely free training. Make sure to register as slots fill up quickly. Let’s welcome Jackie to the show.
Welcome to the show, Jackie.
Thank you so much for being here with us again. For anyone who might not know you, could you share who you are, where your firm is, and also that you have this amazing Facebook group for accounting professionals?
The Facebook group is called Accounting Firm Influencers. We have almost 5,000 accountants that have organically grown where we talk day-to-day about best practices, tax planning, and all kinds of things related to the accounting world. Thank you for bringing that up. My name is Jackie Meyer. I’m a CPA. I’ve owned my own little boutique CPA firm for several years now in Southlake, Texas, which is a suburb of Dallas.
A couple of years ago, I decided I was done with running a traditional block practice. I completely converted with the help of my business coach, Chuck Bauer, to value pricing packages around tax planning. I’m a big tax planning geek. We were able to triple fees based on that and equally decrease my time to where I’m now only spending a few hours a week in my firm. With all that extra time, I decided to start coaching other accountants. I have my Certified Concierge Accountant Coaching Program. During COVID, I developed a software product called TaxPlanIQ. I have 3 businesses I run, 2 small children, and a wonderful husband. I’m trying to keep up with it all.
I always called Jackie that she’s like a superhero, super mom, and super three business owner. She’s the super leader. In this episode, that’s what we’re going to be focusing on. A lot of people reading struggle with, “I have so much work. I need to hire more staff. I need to hire more on my team. I can’t find any good talent. There’s no one like me. I have to do all the work because otherwise, they end up reviewing everyone else’s work, and it’s never right. I shouldn’t have hired anyone anyway. I will do it myself.”
We have these conversations in our heads. This conversation will be interesting and valuable for each of the readers. Make sure you have a pen and paper because we’re going to talk about how love can help in this department and leadership in something special called Meraki Leadership. That’s what we’re going to dive into in this episode because staffing, hiring the right team, and doing it a certain way has an art form to this.Make sure and align your leadership style with the people that you’re leading. Click To Tweet
Jackie, I’m super happy to have you here again on the show, talking about this important topic. You didn’t want to keep clients around for cheap, and you’ve raised your fees. You tripled them and have been able to step away. A lot of people want to be able to deliver more productivity in a much less amount of time, and how they can be compensated the same to do that.
It could be even better, which is what happened when I did that conversion. There is a lot to say based on this little introduction so far. I have a team of a dozen staff. They’re all virtual across the US. I have learned the hard way from doing everything wrong on how to become a good leader. A couple of years ago, I decided that I was tired of trying to figure this out on my own. I’m going to pursue a Doctorate in Strategic Leadership. I’m still doing that.
I became obsessed with these ideas around what makes a good leader. Leadership theory is something that is hard to define. What’s a good leader? What’s a good follower? How does this all come together? Through my studies and all my writing, I have to write 3,500 words a week doing this. I’m such an introvert at heart, and I love writing. It’s a great way to get those words up on a page. I’ve developed my own leadership theory called Meraki Leadership.
It’s all about love leadership, which is so counter-intuitive to our industry for us left-brain thinkers. We’re so task-oriented, but I know even for myself, as an introverted left-brain accountant, I have got to refocus on the love and integrate what I care about with my work. What Meraki is all about is pouring your heart, soul, and love into what you do and having your team do the same. I’ve learned several different lessons along the way there that we can talk about.
I want to talk about the lessons you’ve learned because it’s important to understand that you learned the hard way. If you had to break down and bullet point for all of the left-brain readers now, can you share all of the hard ways you had to make or how you learned these lessons? Also, have you thought about what those lessons cost you that said, “I need to make a change,” and go into this deep dive that you’re on this new journey now? Can you share with us 5 to 10 of those lessons that you had that you’re like, “This isn’t working,” and you got so frustrated to the point where now you’re getting your Doctorate in Leadership?
I don’t know if I have an exact 5 to 10, but I’ll try. The first thing that comes to mind would be the fact that I tried to retain control and do all the work myself for way too long. It almost drove me insane. The only thing that got me out of that was having a family, to be honest. I could have been a workaholic until the end of my demise if I hadn’t have had children. I had my first daughter in December of 2013 and a wonderful, supportive husband who was able to take some time off.
I didn’t take any time off. I was breastfeeding. I was trying to work 4 or 5 people’s jobs at one time and not hiring the people I needed to hire to have an appropriate staff level. I ran myself ragged. I developed some mental challenges, brain fog, and things that I’ll probably never recover from, but things that I’ve tried to overcome since then. I realized how much I needed a team, trust a team, and make sure I aligned my leadership style with the people that I’m leading as well.
When you realized that, how come you didn’t think you wanted the team or needed it when you tried to retain control over everything in every element in the business? A lot of people who have a firm or are in a job with a firm on the side are thinking, “I can’t do both for much longer.” How did you relinquish that control and realize that you can’t work yourself to death? You still have maybe some brain fog leftovers or some other leftovers that have trickled in. What do you think that is that has you want to hang on? This is the biggest thing I hear from most accounting and tax pros.
For me, it goes back to the way I was raised. My side of the family definitely has had struggles. I didn’t have a great solid family system growing up. Trust was not something I ever knew or understood. Trusting people in my team would be the last thing I want to do. I just want to do it all by myself. No matter how you were raised, we all have a bit of trust-level issues there. That’s why I kept trying to retain that control. I then realized that, “This is going to drive me crazy. I have to stop doing this. I have to trust other people.”
I was forced into it too. I keep saying I was forced into it as a child this way, but sometimes you need those big rock bottom moments to get on a better path. I didn’t hire a tax manager until 2019. It is when I finally get handed off the reins to running the company. That was forced too because my only sister fell and had a severe brain injury. She was in the hospital for six months, relearning to walk and talk. She was in Florida. I was in Texas. I was going back and forth to visit her. I realized I had to step away from the company to help her and get her better.
I interviewed Veronica, who’s our tax manager to this day, sitting at my sister’s bedside for her to learn how to talk again. She would never remember that because she was in an induced coma at the time. I was forced to trust Veronica. Luckily, it all worked out. We do a lot of personality testing to make sure in our company that our strengths align, and we are not all exactly the same. You mentioned, “No one can do it just like me.” Of course not, but you don’t want everyone to be just like you. You want to focus on everyone’s different strengths and bring things to the table together.
Otherwise, it would be boring. Everyone would butt heads if everyone was identical and the same.Leadership is not about the efficiency. It’s about the effectiveness. Click To Tweet
I don’t need another Jackie. That’s for sure.
That would be a lot of energy in one place, even though you say it, “Jackie says she’s introverted.” We’ve met many times in person, not at all. She’s out on the dance floor, talking, and at all the happy hours. I’m like Jackie. I’m more introverted. I used to be 100% extrovert, but now I’m a hybrid. Share with us some of the other lessons learned that came to the top of mind so we can then transition into this love department and trust. Not everyone gets forced into it. You did with the tax manager and had to slow your roll with your two kiddos. What other lessons learned did you have where you said, “I need to make a shift in my leadership?”
I thought that leading was all about tasks and efficiency. That’s easy to do as an accountant, but leadership is not about that whatsoever. It’s not about efficiency. It’s about the effectiveness. The way to get effective workers is through this Meraki Leadership concept. Leadership is more about wholeness, loving ourselves, those closest to us, and those in our organizations as well.
We need to normalize the word love in the workplace. It has become this taboo thing where you feel like it’s romantic or something. There’s nothing romantic about it. It’s about going back to who we are as core human beings. We all want to be loved in the workplace or outside of the workplace. That’s how my team has grown and been loyal.
It’s realizing that it wasn’t about just all the tasks and efficiencies, which we think it is, that would be the logical thing, and realizing it was about the effectiveness. If you can recall back to when you were very task-oriented and is this efficient or not, did you have a lot of turnovers? What were some of the costs you had where this lesson’s like, “I get it. I see it. I have to make a change. I can’t keep going this way. It’s just not working?”
When you’re hiring people to be efficient taskmasters, you’re not aligning your why. You’re just hiring and firing and just going and trying to get things done. That’s never going to have anyone stick around. I’m a huge fan of Simon Sinek’s TEDx Talk, Start with Why. When I first heard it, I thought this is what’s been missing at work in my life and everyone’s life. It gave meaning to work. He stated people don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it. That was profound to me. It helped me re-analyze, “What is my why? Why am I here? What am I doing? Does that why align with my team?”
We hire, fire and promote based on our core values at the firm. Core values are a funny thing because it’s so corporate, and people think, “I hate corporate stuff like that.” It’s so imperative to get out on paper or to other people because they can’t read your mind what the core values are of the company. What are those minimum standards for someone to work for and with you? We developed those. It took a while for us to get those right. We measure everybody based on those.
You can get a plus, minus sign, or equal, whether you’re meeting the different core values of our company. Meraki is one of them. We’re all in. You get us all every time. We’re passionate about the tax industry and what we do. If you’re interviewing a new hire and say that, you’re going to run off all the people that have no passion for what you do and could care less. They’re like, “This is way too intense for me. I’m out.”
Can you define what Meraki means for everybody reading?
It’s pouring your heart and soul into your work or what you’re doing. One of my staff told me about it several years ago. We were all chatting on instant messenger or something. She’s like, “Jackie, this is so you, Meraki.” I’m like, “What is that?” It’s a Greek word. It means to pour your heart and soul into what you do. I was trying to think of like, “What is this love leadership theory that I’m trying to put together here?” It all came back to that one word, Meraki.
When I was in Essence, I didn’t hear that word. I must have missed it. Why don’t we transition into Meraki and what you do to hire, fire, retain, and lead your staff into some actionable steps for someone reading who’s having this struggle with their team or lack of team? They feel like, “There’s no good talent out there, Jackie. I don’t know how you found twelve great people. They all work remotely. No one does the work like I do,” when you’re task and efficient-oriented versus effectiveness-oriented.
They’re thinking like, “I just have to do it all.” They weren’t forced into something else like you were with your kids and what happened with your sister. You were forced into letting that trust go into someone else’s hands to show you that they can take some stuff off your shoulders. What would be the first actionable thing someone should do now? I heard, “Write out your why.” That’s one of them. I also heard your core values. Can you share some of your core values, so we have some examples?Hire, fire, and promote based on your core values. Click To Tweet
These are our minimum measurable standards for who fits in at our companies. The first one is no status quo. We resist the acceptance of the status quo. Our business is built on innovation. We aren’t going to do things because it’s always been done that way. You got to be innovative to work with the Meyer Tax, TaxPlanIQ, or Certified Concierge Accountant teams. Number two is getting it done well. We get things done using the best and the brightest. Your time and our time are valuable. Strategy is always used, and we embrace technology.
Number three is being kind. Upright kindness matters the most in our relationships. Every human being should be respected. We’re not going to move or operate in gray areas there. Humble candor is practiced. Next is Meraki. We’re all in. You get us all every time. We’re passionate about our industry. The fifth one is having a positive perspective. We try to enter every situation with that positive perspective, and gratitude is practiced as much as humanly possible. We share those with any potential hires. You could even put it in your job ad if you wanted to kick off on the right foot.
It’s to not waste any time with any people that will probably discount and disqualify themselves that you don’t even need to waste your time with them.
I remember one time I did a job ad, and I was like, “Here are all the things we don’t want. We don’t want someone that’s going to do this and this.” It brought some good candidates because they’re not going to waste their time with you if they know that you’re not going to put up with nonsense. You got to align all that. That’s the first pillar. There are these two pillars to Meraki Leadership. One is aligning your why and those core values. The second is cultivating trust. That’s important because, at the end of the day, you can’t do it all. You need a strong and competent team behind you to accomplish the company’s vision.
You do that by giving people freedom. Trusting employees and staff to do the jobs they were hired to do is important. This is funny because honesty and trustworthiness are different things. I didn’t realize this before. My personal ethos is that I want to be extremely honest with everybody. I want to be an honest, transparent person, but that wasn’t coming across with my team because I wasn’t being trustworthy with my actions. Let me give you an example of that. I would assign work to a team member, and then I would swoop in, undermine them, and try to do part of the work myself.
I thought I was being a hero. I thought I was helping them, but it was completely undermining them in their role. They didn’t feel responsible for the work, and they didn’t feel safe that they could get the work done effectively. It was completely backfiring on me. I realize that I have to give my team their own freedom to get the work done that I’m assigning them to do and let them run with it. Things have changed drastically at the company in regards to who owns what, making sure everyone’s on the right seat on the bus, and that if you own and keep it, you’re going to get it done. That’s been a big change for us.
I’m curious. How did that create abundance in your firm?
Everybody feels like they are contributing now. Everyone feels like they’re making a difference because they’re assigned things, and they’re getting them done themselves. They feel like they’re accomplishing and making a difference. It has changed our whole culture.
Has it affected your top-line revenue?
Value pricing in itself tripled our revenues. I can’t say enough good things about value pricing and tax planning. It’s the best way to have a win-win relationship with all of your clients.
Especially from the team aspect, implementing Meraki, doing the two different main pillars, aligning with your why, the core values on the hiring side, trusting others that they can fulfill the tasks and projects that you give them, and giving people that freedom which allowed you to start not only your firm, but the coaching company and the software.
For me, it’s not about top-line revenue. It’s more about net revenue and how many hours I had to put into everything. If I were still trying to run the show, I would be working the same 60 hour weeks or whatever the typical tax accountant works and be miserable. I had to give up that control and follow these different leadership lessons to regain my time and be able to focus on things I’m passionate about.Hire, fire, and promote based on your core values. Click To Tweet
Having your team be able to contribute and make a difference is the abundance factor because you’re no longer doing those 60-hour weeks. You were able to scale growth but also scale yourself back while having this team of twelve. It’s pretty impressive. Is there anything else that you would like to share with the readers any other actionable task-efficient steps that they can take now in making the shift for their own firms, so they don’t feel like they’re a slave to their own firm or feel like, “How did I get myself stuck into this job?” You know that feeling.
I remember it all too well. We’re in what we call the Great Resignation now. Ninety-five percent of people, as per Monster.com article this summer of 2022, were looking or re-evaluating for new jobs, which is insane. Ninety-five percent of people are rethinking their life. COVID had a lot to do with that too.
We have to think outside of the box when it comes to leading our practices, think outside of this task driver efficiency thing, and think more about how we can be effective. I would encourage everyone to take to heart what I said about bringing love into the workplace. Love for your neighbor is what all that I’m advocating for and we all want on a day-to-day basis to get and keep some of the best talents that you possibly can.
That article is crazy, 95% of people. It also shows that if you can capture that 95% who are looking for something better, get clear on your why and what you don’t want, create a different job ad that you’ve never created before, and get clear on core values, you could capture someone who isn’t satisfied with their current position. I’m sure there’s a lot of people here reading that might feel that way in their corporate job now, at the firm you’re in, being worked like a dog, or whatever it may be. People want not only freedom but a sense of autonomy within the workplace to be autonomous yet be a contribution to the bigger vision.
Thank you so much for letting me share these ideas with you.
It’s always great to have you here, Jackie. This is an important conversation for this time in what people are going through, the struggle that a lot of firm owners are having with the talent and the team in place. You shared a lot of great insights and actionable steps to make it happen, put your new job ad up on Indeed, and focus on your leadership. I can’t wait until you have your Doctorate. We’ll have to have you back and talk about what other insights you’ve learned. Thank you so much for being here with us. It’s always an honor to have you.
Thank you so much, Michelle.
What an amazing episode with Jackie talking about all that stuff we normally don’t talk about. As Jackie reiterated, 95% of employees are looking for something else. They’re looking for something richer, and they can be a part of, so they can be heard and understood. I can’t agree with Jackie more. I’ve mentioned this a few times on the show that I volunteer one day a week at the suicide hotline. There are a lot of people out there that are not heard and understood. They’re judged. A lot of employees will feel the same exact way.
I know my work every single week on the hotline that if 95% of employees are looking elsewhere, they need to be heard, understood, not be judged, and have that trusting environment so that they can come to you as the firm owner or boss and be able to share anything and everything that’s bothering them. I’ve learned and seen that so many people keep their thoughts and feelings inside. It becomes a volcano, and that volcano will explode. If there’s anything we’ve learned in the years with the pandemic and anything else is that depression is a real thing.
If people are spending most of their time anywhere from 8 to 9 hours a day working with you, it better be enjoyable. Make sure to take this episode to heart and write out your why and your core values. Go to your latest job description, flip it on top of its head, list out all the things that you don’t want in a team member, and have these new interviews and conversations from the place of love and that you’re going to be that trusted leader to hear them out. I truly believe you want a good staff, pay them 2 to 3 times what you’re doing.
If you’re having a hard time increasing your fees, profitability, and revenue, then I’m your gal because I know everybody thinks the way to get more clients is to do some free work, and they’ll pay you higher fees later or discount your fees to your prospects and current clients, thinking that in the future, you could raise them, and it will be totally simple.
The accounting pros and tax pros that I work with increase their monthly reoccurring revenue just like Jackie did by as much as three times with few clients and a simple method. If you want to see how other accounting and tax pros are doing this, register for my new masterclass at TheAbundantAccountant.com/Masterclass. It’s an investment now to spend the time and have your notepad ready, but for a lifetime of increased revenue, so you can afford and invest in the best employees. Once you have figured out your why and your core values, you don’t need to get more designations or qualifications to increase your firm’s revenues. Make sure to register and watch the whole thing from start to finish with your notepad and pen. I will see you there.
- Meyer Tax Consulting LLC
- Accounting Firm Influencers – Facebook
- Certified Concierge Accountant Coaching Program
- Start with Why – TEDx Talk
About Jackie Meyer
Jackie specializes in providing innovative tax strategies and coaching programs to executive clientele for a high return on investment. She leads her own team of top-tier public accountants spanning across the US operating with 100% virtual workflows and is a top-rated speaker, business coach and social media influencer with thousands of students and followers.
She served on the Intuit Tax Council (2016-2019) and the Forbes Finance Council (2019-present). Recent honors include 40 under 40 CPA Advisor Winner (2018/2019) and AICTC (American Institute of Certified Tax Coaches) member of the year (2019). Jackie is a proud proponent for lifelong learning and will complete her Doctorate in Strategic Leadership from Regent University