In no business can we do everything ourselves alone. One of the secrets to success is delegation, not only that but also finding good team members and, most especially, good leaders to entrust your business. Without the need to look for them further, Michelle Weinstein and guest, Jason Blumer, talk about helping your team transform by leading with a heart-centered model. Jason is the founder of Thriveal, which helps entrepreneurial CPA firm owners connect, learn, and grow. Here, Jason extends that help to us as he shares his idea of abundance, people leadership, and a good hiring process. He also shares how they build their team up, be in alignment with them, and then help them transform—moving them from one pole to the other. Listen in on this conversation as Michelle and Jason go further into the topic while tapping into implementing a leadership team and more.
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Jason Blumer – Leading A Team Being Heart-Centered
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Welcome. If you’re one of many accountants that I’ve talked to that come to me because they’re tired of giving away their knowledge for free or even their expertise. If that sounds like you, I want to invite you to join my complimentary masterclass created for accountants who want to build a practice with premium clients who eagerly pay you what you’re worth and not what you think they can afford. You can sign up for free right now over at TheAbundantAccountant.com. Once again, totally free. Pop in your email. You’ll join the webinar at whatever time works best for you over at TheAbundantAccountant.com. We have a special guest. We’re talking about some awesomeness. He founded Thriveal in 2010 as a way to help the entrepreneurial CPA firm owners connect, learn and grow not only with their lead teams, but with their clients.
He serves as the Visionary and CEO at Thriveal. Since that time, Thriveal has helped many small firms grow by providing community coaching services, webinars consulting, and live events. He’s even got a deeper weekend in the annual live event by Thriveal. Our special guest is also the CEO of Blumer & Associates, CPAs. It’s a firm of one of the first that went totally virtual in 2012. They serve as an advisory firm for design marketing and agency creative services as their niche. He and his partner focused on business coaching and consulting with firms and agencies. He’s got only 30 clients. They only work with 2 or 3 he mentions in the show over the year and focuses to meet their team needs on the technical and compliance needs of their client. Now let’s welcome our special guest, Jason, to the show.
Michelle, it’s awesome to be here. Thank you for having me on the show.
Thank you for taking out the time, Jason, to be here with us. Before we dive into our conversation, can you share with all the other accounting professionals reading, what is the firm that you created? You’ve got a book and you’ve got a podcast. Can you give us a little glimpse of what Jason has created?
I started leading my dad’s from back in 2003. I’ve been leading that. My partner has been with me for about eight years after that point. We run an advisory firm with a team of about twelve and we’re a virtual firm and we focus on creative, digital design agencies all over the US. We do coaching and consulting a lot of growth restructures team structures, business structures, and things like that. Of course, all the financial pieces. Those are the things we do in the firm. My partner and I have a consultancy called Thriveal. It’s a community for entrepreneurial firm owners all over the world, but most of our community members are in Canada and the US and we have mastermind groups and events. We run incubator bootcamps and things like that. I have foundational principles of leading an advisory firm book that you can download online and that’s DW.Thriveal.com/guide.
Jason, you’ve got a podcast.What teams really need from us as leaders are our care and our commitment. Click To Tweet
We have the Thrivecast. My cohost, Greg Kyte, and I have been doing that for years. He and I are good friends. Once a month we interview somebody and then he and I talk about the ups and downs of firm ownership and how firms respond to the market that we operate in and have a lot of fun try to learn a lot together while we do that. We’ve had that for a while. That’s a lot of fun.
I am excited to have our discussion and I’m honored that you took out the time to be here to help others, but a lot of accounting professionals I’ve heard have a hard time finding good team members and let alone having the patience to be a good leader. I know that you’ve got a few good golden nuggets that I think will help them have that fulfillment of abundance because when we have a good team, we have good leaders on our team. That means we could have more time for ourselves and relax and do fun things. I know a lot of what we’re going to talk about is about transforming people and help people transform. If we can’t do that, then everything’s going to sit on our shoulders. I’m excited to dive into that. Before we start, Jason, what is your definition and what does abundance mean to you? I know that you come from a very different place than for everyone reading, we’re going to get out of the analytical side, that left brain, and we’re going to transform onto the right side of the brain. That’ll be a good one.
It’s through my own journey of having a getting into the depths of running two companies. At some point, how that crushed me. It overwhelmed me to try to do all that on my own and then bringing in a partner and through the process of how she approaches teams and how she and I have developed teams together has been to make more of a sacrificial commitment to the people that we work with. We feel our calling is to do the thing we do. This consulting, coaching, these leading people, this whole abundance to us is not having any closed mindset as to any person and what they can be. Different people are in different phases. We have newer accountants on our team. We have leadership team CPAs that have been there for many years in our firm and they’re all learning.
What they need from us as leaders are our care. They need our commitment. Our team knows that we love them. We give our life to them. This firm that we run and Thriveal that we run, it’s not a money thing, but we have to make money. We value price and we’re an expensive firm to work with. Part of our goal is to allow us to work with 30 clients and allows us to work with twelve people in small events, small community members so that we can go deep into the lives of people. Probably an abundance definition for us is that there is nobody with limits. They can become anything they want. They have to step up and do a lot of that work, but my partner and I, we dedicate life to helping them.
We will go deep in their life. We see a lot of people transform, crying, hurting, breaking out of wrong beliefs in their own lives that bleed over into their companies they struggle with, so we help unlock a lot of those fears they have through the coaching and consulting. We don’t believe there are limits around people. They can be whatever they want, but it takes a lot of hard work and they need somebody that loves them to walk along with them. That’s what we’re committed to doing. People leadership probably is how we’d say it.
Let’s dive into people leadership, and I want also to point out if you missed it, your idea of abundance is that money’s not the thing, but you have to make money. You said you value price and that you keep the groups small. You only bring on 30 clients or you only have 10 or 12 in a group. When you do that, not only you help in the people leadership part, but you’re able to dive deeper into those clients, which then you’ve charged more. That is my definition of abundance too. I love that. We align. Let’s talk about people leadership. If you had to say 2 or 3 things that help you with developing people leadership, finding good people, because that is the massive complaint that I hear about quite often. How do I delegate stuff to someone who doesn’t care? These new people, new CPAs, and help on the team, they come and go. The turnover is high. What are 2 or 3 things that you could that someone reading can actually put into action and actually see something change as it relates to their people leadership and to help others transform of the people they bring on their team?
Probably we would say in this is what we do in a lot of the boot camps and the entrepreneurial incubators that we run for firms, which is basically they have to start with a foundation of some vision and purpose in their firm and then core values, which are internal ways they live out their purpose internally with the team, which is what guides and leads the culture for that company. I think getting that established as a foundation in a firm, you stand on top of that when you’re building teams. When you have team members who don’t want to be there, or they love being there, two different sides of that spectrum, it’s because of what company you’re running I think a lot of times. It’s funny, a lot of times we want to work on leading people, but what we have to do, that’s a lot of times a presenting issue, a lot of the root issues we’re struggling with is we, as owners, even know why we exist. What is our purpose?
What are the values that we espouse and live by that we hold dear that we won’t give up on? What are the things? When we know those things, people align with that. They either choose to want to be there or they say, “This is not for me,” and they’d leave. That’s happened to us many times, we’ve hired and fired many people because some don’t want to be part of the culture we want to lead and some do. People self-select a lot. They self-select in, or they self-select out as long as you are true and purposeful about why you’re doing things and the core values that you expect people to believe and live by in your company. Those foundational things are important. We have 2 or 3 steps within our hiring process where we teach them our purpose and core values.
We have them answer questions about our core values and we’re basically putting them on notice. These are the things you have to believe to walk into our company. It means we’re not for everybody. That’s okay. I think getting it right with people, leadership has a lot to do with walking them in that front door the right way. The front door is the most strategic door in the firm, as we’d like to tell a lot of the people we lead. If you don’t get things right as you have a client or a team member walk through your front door, then a lot of things are going to go wrong if you’re misaligned on the inside. I think that’s where we try to get it right. On the inside, when we’re trying to do a people leadership move, like calling them to some higher thing or challenging them, they’re going to hear us in different ways when they’ve already bought into our values and our purpose. That’s probably the foundational thing I would say we try to get.
If someone’s reading and like, “I hear you. Why do you exist? Why do you keep going?” You’re not giving up on this. Figuring out how to put that in 1 or 2 sentences, share with us, pretend you’re going to hire me. How do you incorporate those 2 or 3 steps into the hiring process? I know one of you is saying, “Michelle, can you please have Jason tell us how to do that? I don’t understand what he’s talking about.” Right? It’s easy for you, but pretend you’re going to hire me. How do you incorporate your core values, the foundation of your vision and purpose and how this leads the culture of the company, but incorporate it into your interview process? I think this is an actionable step that someone can do when we hang up. A lot of people don’t think about their vision. They don’t think about their purpose. They don’t think about their core values as they’re creating their firm. We’re busy with the stack of taxes to do. It’s like, “I got to do this to get the right team members,” because this is what will create the abundance in your firm and only have you work with 30 clients, Jason, and then you can get rid of the rest. Hire me and let’s hear how you incorporate those 2 or 3 steps.
The first thing we do is my partner and I make a vision and values presentation to our team at the beginning of each year. That is a reminder of our purpose and our vision for that year. We typically go over 2 to 3 themes that we want to see happen that year. We remind them of our love for them and for our clients. Some of the growth we can expect, some of the changes, a team retreat coming up, branding, whatever things we want to tweak and change. We have a vision and values presentation, so that exists. We have a process to create that every year. First, you want that. That’s an alignment presentation. Here’s the stuff you have to believe to be in a relationship with us is what that’s saying.
Now we use that when we hire. We originally created for our team to share with them and lead them. That’s part of how we do leadership. We remind them who we are and who they are. We care about them, our purposes or values. We have them answer questions related to our core values. That’s for our team. When we hire somebody, the second and the third step in hiring is a required on-camera presentation. We make a presentation to them and our presentation to a new team member, somebody we haven’t hired yet, that’s going through the process is we show them our vision and values presentation. The one we showed to our team internally. That puts them on notice in a huge way. It’s a great door to ask them to walk through.
Some people go, “This is crap. I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to be involved in a firm that’s doing that.” We are trying to be polarizing when you’re hiring. That’s a key because you want people to love you or hate you. You don’t want any fence riders in any work you do with clients or with team. You want them to make a decision with their heart and make a commitment to you. A vision and values presentation during the hiring process is what gives them a real sense of who you are. When you lead them internally that way, you’re committed to your core values and you call them out on those core values constantly, which we do every week in our weekly team meetings, we have people calling out others as they catch them doing the core values in the firm.
We want our new team to walk into that feeling comfortable with how dedicated to those things we are, because we believe those are the foundations of how we run a healthy firm. That’s what we believe. Those are some things we teach too. Walking people through that process while hiring, and it takes a couple of times because the vision and values are long. We want to preach at them a little bit. They get it, they hear us and they say, “I’m in.”
It’s almost like how you do it with prospects on the client-side too, which I’m sure is how you got and narrowed down your roster to only 30 clients.Abundance is where nobody has limits. They can become anything they want. Click To Tweet
That’s the exact same process. You want to be polarizing to your potential clients too.
What does polarizing mean to you if you had to define it, Jason? Someone reading might go, “What does he mean by that?”
You do this to your marketplace too, to sift through and chop up a market properly to help them align with who you are and whether you can serve them is to be polarizing. That means you state your beliefs very openly. It could be what you believe about your position, how you serve your purpose and the statements you make online, whether in social media or in the content that you write or to your team is polarizing in a sense that they move people to the polls is basically what they’re doing. You don’t want anybody in the middle going, “I’m not sure you’re for me.” You want people going. “I am so clear that you are not my firm, I won’t even go through the process with you.” We’ve sifted through a market about being polarizing in our positioning, so to speak.
We’ve moved out the people who are fence riders are kicking tires. The people that love it, they love it deeply. They’re like, “You are the firm I have to use. Whatever the price is, I’m going to have to get through that somehow because you’re the firm. I know it now. I believe what you believe. I’m aligned with you.” They’re on the other pole, so to speak, the North and South poles. They’re on a different pole to pole of, “I can’t do anything but use you, guys.” It’s like, “If we’re aligned, then let’s do this thing. You got to pay a lot of money to work with our firm.” Polarizing helps people. It’s a gift to a team that you’re trying to hire.
It’s a gift to a client that’s trying to hire you, not to make them wonder what you stand for. Polarizing is moving them from one pole to the other, helping them decide. A lot of times your content or the statements you make online are the things you use to be polarizing. Some people can hear polarizing is negative. I don’t mean it to be a butt hole or write in weird ways. I mean it to be super clear. It’s clear from the perspective of what you believe and why you want to run a firm the way you do. It’s us not trying to tickle anybody’s ears or make them happy. It’s trying to be super clear about what firm we’re running. If you want to be part of what we’re doing, then we welcome you. If you don’t, we’re not mad at you, but we don’t want to hurt you either by having you come into a firm that you won’t be happy. We have to be clear.
This is such a good visual. For all of you that correlate to something visual, you’ve got your two ends of the pole and we don’t want anyone at the three-quarter mark, the half mark, or the one-quarter mark. You got to choose 0 or 100 and that’s it. Your messaging, the core values and the visual presentation to a client or to a team member will have them make the decision because it will be a polarizing presentation of some sort.
If you went through our vision and values presentation, some people might go, “That’s not too polarizing.” What it is, is super clear about who we are. That’s all we mean by polarizing. Hopefully, that helps if we’re right for you or not. That’s the goal.
Is there anything else actionable? That was actionable. I love that. I know people reading will too. That has you help people transform. This goes for your team or clients. Singing up the right clients and also how to lead the leaders that you bring on. Even if they’re an employee and they’re working for you, I see them as the leader because if they can step up, that frees you up.
Probably another practical thing is we use rhythms a lot in consulting and in leading our own firm. Basically, by rhythms, we mean these are habitual things we put on calendars that are recurring. Rhythms are a safe way for human-centered organizations to operate. By human-centered organizations, I mean service-based companies like firms, accounting firms or creative digital agencies. Basically, the knowledge being sold comes out of the mind of a human and you’re selling it to other humans and you’re delivering it to other humans. There is a lot of human-based interaction going on. Any human to human interaction has a lot of friction-based in it. You have to create a lot of safe places for the team to speak up, to be transparent. Rhythms are a thing that creates a lot of safety for people.
I’ll give some examples of those. Team members that come on, a new team member for six months, we meet with them on a recurring rhythm every month, my partner and I, privately and confidentially. We don’t do performance reviews. We’re always meeting on such a regular basis. They know I get the ear of Jason and Julie every month and it’s the same rhythm. It’s like a rhythm in a family. Dinner time is at 6:00 every night and we don’t fight it. We do it. It’s a safe place to congregate. Our team knows that our team meetings are every Wednesday at noon on camera. You turn your camera on. Everybody knows that. They don’t fight it. They roll deep into the rhythm. What it does is it produces a lot of healthy cultures. There are rhythms that we have in consulting too.
If you want to build a leadership team, you have to meet with a leadership team every week, we would say, at a minimum. We have our leadership team every Wednesday at 11:00. If we’re working with another client and they’re trying to implement a leadership team, we want to implement rhythms that go along with the service and care of those people. You can’t say, “There’s my leadership team and walk out the door,” which a lot of people want to do. They want to put a leadership team. They’re busy. If you want to lead leaders or lead people, you have to commit your time to them. You have to give a rhythm. You have to carve a rhythm out of your life and give it to those people. The resulting safety is immense. This works for your clients too.
One of our highest packages we sell comes with a weekly stand-up meeting. It’s a commitment they have to make as a client to our team. Our team of three people goes to that meeting. It’s the same time every week. When we bring on a large client that’s doing these weekly team meetings, that’s one of the first rhythms we get in place. It’s like, “We’re going to meet every Thursday at 2:00.” Nobody misses that meeting. Every now and then, things happen and we have to reschedule and that’s okay. It’s the rhythm that’s important. The client goes, “I am important and it’s worth what I’m paying because they’ve committed their whole team to this rhythm that they’re going to give their time to me every week.” These rhythms drive a lot of sense of safety and health.
Those rhythms, those places where you’ve carved these rhythms out on your calendar, these are the places where leadership happens. It’s moment by moment where you say, “That call you made in the internal office chat system was probably not the right call on that tactical move. We want to privately tell you why we would have done something different and help them align to a core value.” Say, “We want to align that move probably to this core value we care a lot about. You weren’t exhibiting that. We want to help you do that. Here’s a reminder.” It happened inside of that rhythm. If we hadn’t had the rhythm, we probably never would have mentioned it or trying to get somebody into a meeting is such a pain in the butt. That is hard.
If you have the rhythm scheduled, then it’s automatic.
Sometimes that barrier of creating meetings is heavy, rhythms take those barriers away. You’re always rolling into these rhythms and that’s where a lot of your health is created inside of those rhythms. Whether with clients, with leadership teams. My partner and I, we have our own partner rhythms, all of these things create health. That’s probably another key way leadership happens in the rhythms that you build on your recurring calendar.
It doesn’t sound like a meeting. You’re replacing a word. I’m all about sales, but if we call it enrollment, it doesn’t sound so bad.A vision and values presentation during the hiring process is what gives your team a real sense of who you are. Click To Tweet
Using a different term that helps.
It does. Polarizing is a lot nicer than shit or get off the pot. That’s true meaning. Jason softens it for us. We’ve got polarizing audits. We’ve got setting your rhythms. I have to ask about one last thing, because prior to us being here, we were talking about how you’ve come from a heart-centered place and that the model that you use is heart-centered. Can you share with us, number one, what does that mean to you? Also, how did that help you increase revenue? I’m all about increasing top-line sales. The first thing on anyone’s P&L is sales or revenue. How did that make an impact on your top line?
It may mean different things to different people, but for us it means we’re going to commit our life to the people we work with. We’re going to make sacrifices of our personal time, which takes sacrifice to lead a human-based company because you’re committing yourself to people and people are messy. They are not clear. They’re messy. They come with a lot of issues like we do. We’re inviting all of our team into our firm personally, all of their work, and we don’t want them to try to him off or cut off a personal self with a work self. We don’t believe that’s possible. We believe a person as a whole person, no matter where they are. Michelle is Michelle always. On a podcast or at home. That is always the same person. She brings every part of her to everything that she tackles. That means our good and bad. To our team, we say, “We want all of you. We want your good and your bad. What we want is you. We wish you didn’t bring your bad, but we’re humans and you’re going to deal with my bad. Why don’t we commit to the whole person, everybody?”
That means when some of your crap bumps into your work, we’re going to be here for you. We’re going to call you to that higher purpose of doing your work. You’d also don’t have to fear that that blow up at home is going to wreck your work because we have blow-ups too. A heart-centered model is saying, first of all, we love the people we work with. We’re going to give some type of commitment to them. We ask in return that they make a commitment of them hold their whole selves to us in our firm and don’t hold anything back. We have private sessions where we want our team to be very truthful. We want them to share openly about, “How are you doing in your work? What are things that are holding you back?” It can be anything. You don’t have to share it if you don’t want to, but you don’t have to fear sharing those things. A heart-centered model is being committed to the whole person, their good and bad all of their life. Everything about them, we want to bring it into the firm because that’s what is going to create our great, strong, safe, transparent culture. That’s probably one thing.
We sell this same care to our consulting clients, and you could interview any of them to say, “Does Julie and Jason Love us?” We do deeply love the people we are consulting with because they are the brave people who have said, “I need help. I need a transformation. There are some struggles I can’t steer clear of.” We can go in and run through our processes of interviews and assessments and insight delivery to these consulting clients. A lot of times, it breaks them down. Some of them end up crying, being freed from a lot of things that they’re fearful about, but through it all, we’re committed. We say we’re never going to leave them. We’re going to walk with you through this process. For us to commit our sacrifice and our time to a client like that, they’ve got to pay a lot of ass money.
That’s how it ties as to revenue. We can consult with about 2 to 3 groups per year. For you to get that amount of time, which takes us about eight months to a year to walk through a process of consulting, you’re going to have to pay a lot to have our complete, full focus. You have to pay a lot to do that, and we’re not ashamed of it. It’s because you get this deep level of commitment of our lives to you. That’s what it comes with. I love it.
Thank you for sharing that and how you see it as a heart-centered model and how impactful that is not only to the people you’re helping. If you tie it into regular life when you meet and get married, it’s not like you want to bring your half and they have their half. It’s two wholes that have to come together. It’s messy. This isn’t any different. Jason, thank you for sharing with us. It was an honor to have you here and thank you for being a gift to many.
Thank you. We talked about a lot of fluffy stuff, Michelle.
What an amazing show with Jason. There were many great golden nuggets that not only apply to your team building and getting the help that’s required in order to grow and have that firm of abundance, but how this correlates directly with your clients. I hope you took notes. Everything from the rhythms and the North and South pole and understanding that when we’re communicating in our messaging, it’s similar to how I communicate with you. I only work with committed accountants who are extremely resourceful and dedicated to the art of getting past the fears and barriers as it relates to sales. How when we change our languaging and get confident in this area, it not only improves your relationship with your clients, but it improves the relationship to yourself and your top-line revenue in your P&L and knowing your numbers.
If you are like one of my many accounting professional clients that come to me because you’re sick and tired of giving away your knowledge or expertise for free or you want to get the premium clients like Jason has and have them eagerly pay you exactly what you’re worth and not what you think they can afford. Make sure to join my complimentary masterclass over at TheAbundantAccountant.com. It’s completely complimentary. I would love to have you there and see you there and get to know you even at a deeper level. Lastly, make sure to check out Jason’s podcast. I would love a written review. Tell Jason, “I like 1 or 2 takeaways,” or the hot moments that you had. How is this going to impact the way you do things?
Maybe what’s one shift that you can create a new process for your vision, for your core values and how you can communicate that with clients and the people that you hire to increase your top-line revenue. It will happen. It’s happened for Jason and many other people that I’ve worked with. Put in the review if you’re on Apple Podcast. What’s the one takeaway you got? I’d love to read it. I’d love to see it. The review will help another accounting professional colleague of yours find this show. I wanted to say thanks. It was an honor to be here with you and I’ll be with you in the next episode.
Thank you for joining me here in another episode. It is always an honor and pleasure to be here with you. As the business owner, I know the number one thing on your P&L is revenue, which means growth and steady growth comes with great customer experiences, which start from that first phone call. Let’s not miss out on any opportunities because 85% of people that call you, if they reach a voicemail, will hang up and get frustrated. Let’s capture those opportunities and without having to pay for a full-time receptionist. We can use Abby Connect. Abby Connect is unique. They will give you a small team of receptionists that actually customize all the call handling for you. Unlike competition out there, they’re not going to nickel and dime you. They’re part of the Abundant Accountant family. You’re going to get a free trial along with a very special offer. Head on over to AbbyConnect.com. Mention the Abundant Accountant Show when you set up your trial and let’s focus on that growth and that experience. I’ll see you in the next episode.
- Blumer & Associates, CPAs
- Apple Podcast – The Abundant Accountant
About Jason Blumer
Jason founded Thriveal in 2010 as a way to help entrepreneurial CPA firm owners connect, learn, and grow. He serves as the visionary and CEO of Thriveal. Since that time, Thriveal has helped many small firms grow by providing a community, coaching services, webinars, firm consulting, and live events. Deeper Weekend is the annual live event by Thriveal.
Jason is also the CEO of Blumer & Associates, CPAs. The firm was one of the first to move from a traditional office to a virtual environment in 2012, where they serve as an advisory firm for the design, marketing, and agency creative services niches. He and his partner focus on business coaching and consulting with firms and agencies, while their team meets the technical and compliance needs of the customer.
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