Humans as we are, we are constantly striving for growth. Yet, when the next step is about trading the life we’re so used to with something that is a lot risky, we can’t help but have that hesitation. In this episode, Michelle Weinstein interviews Thomas Gorczynski to talk about making that transition in this industry. Thomas is an EA, a USTCP, and a nationally known speaker and educator on federal tax law matters. With his expertise and experience, he shares his own story of how he decided to quit working in a law firm and leave that life of billed hours and went full force by owning his own. He lets us on the mindset work that goes with that transition and how he does not let the fear block him from making that important change. Join Thomas in this episode as he takes you inside of yourself to evaluate how you can move forward towards an abundant life.
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Transition: Setting Fear To The Side, Being Proactive & Mindset With Thomas Gorczynski
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Welcome to the Abundant Accountant Podcast. This is where accountants like you come to learn all the ways to grow your firm. If you’re in doubt, my guest and I are here to help you out. If you’re ready to learn and ready to grow your firm, then you’re in the right place to sharpen your skills and increase your revenue so you can feel more confident positioning yourself as the expert. Get consistent, high-quality clients that you always wished you could find and easily get your prospects to say yes to paying exactly what you’re worth, and not what people think they can afford. Let’s jump into the episode.
We have a special guest. Our special guest is Tom Gorczynski. He is an EA, a USTCP, and is a nationally known speaker and educator on federal tax law matters. He’s also the Editor-in-Chief of the EA Journal, which he shares in a special story. He’s the co-author of PassKey Learning Systems EA Review Series and co-owner of Compass Tax Educators. He’s an enrolled agent, a certified tax planner, a National Tax Practice Institute fellow, and admitted to the bar of the US Tax Court as a non-attorney. Let’s say he’s done it all. He also has a Master’s in Science and Taxation, and a Certificate in Finance and Accounting from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He also lives in Arizona. That is one of the fun things that I know about him. He’s got a whole bunch of other things but we’re going to get into the episode.
Before we dive in, I do want to share one thing and the one thing is as an accounting professional, I know you feel frustrated and stressed trying to get the quality clients. It seems you have no control over who you work with or how much you can charge and it looks like charging a high monthly fee engagement is not even in the realm of possibility for you. None of this is your fault. I know that nobody is training you on how to fix these problems and connect the dots. Up until now, only my high-end clients have had access to this information. I’m excited about sharing this with more of you.
I am offering a free coaching session to discover the possibilities that you have within your firm. The system is all about getting ideal clients that are coming to you so you can finally get paid what you’re worth, you can build a dream practice and still have the time and money to enjoy with your family and kiddos. If you’re sick of the way it’s been going and want to jump two feet in and discover what’s possible because you’ve been doing it the same way over and over again and it’s not working, and you feel you have no confidence when it comes to sharing your fees or what you want to charge a client.
Lastly, you don’t believe you could ever double your revenue, then this free coaching session is for you. I only work with five accountants at a time now so let’s explore what’s possible together. Go over to AbundantCall.com. You will have a call with me. Denise is on a hiatus. If you guys have had a call with her before, she is taking a break now so your call would be with me. We only work with five accountants at a time. To explore more, head on over to the AbundantCall.com. Let’s welcome Tom to the show.Working in a law firm is difficult because, like in an accounting firm or traditional accounting firm, it's billed by the hour. Click To Tweet
Thank you, Michelle. Thank you for having me on.
I’m super excited to have you here on the show because if anyone has created a life of abundance, it’s definitely you.
I’d like to think so. It’s always a work in progress.
It is. I would say you’re in the progress of the Making it Happen and Thinking About It Department. A lot of things that we’re going to talk about is the fear that people have of transitioning, changing, letting things go, being afraid of the past and our mindset. Those are all the fun topics we’re going to talk about. However, I’ve already done your intro, but it’s always good if you introduce yourself. Share with us who you are, why you’re so amazing, and why you’re here.
I’ve been in tax for several years now. I got started as a part-time gig at H&R Block when I was working as a higher education administrator. That was my first career and I ended up loving it. I took the risk and I left a full-time career that I already had to move full-time into the tax field. That alone was a scary change for me. I had set myself up by getting a Master’s in tax in the early part of my career to facilitate that. From then on, I’ve had different experiences working at tax controversy law firms. I’ve had my own practice part-time that I took my own practice full-time and left working for other people. In the last couple of years, my business has even transitioned into more of an education-focused enterprise and helping other professionals while still doing that tax work that keeps me current. You could say I’ve faced the fear of transition three times now in my short career.
I acknowledge you for the transitional anxiety that comes with it all because making the transition, taking the leap of faith, jumping in two feet in, instead of dabbling one foot out, it takes some cajones. I acknowledge you for that and going all-in because that must be liberating now. It must feel you’re on top of the world because now you get to do the things that you love. You’re doing the tax work to stay current, but yet so much of your time is educating. Everyone reading should learn from Tom. Can you share how they can learn from you and where to find you so I don’t forget because I’m super excited? I don’t want to miss that.
There are three main ways. If you go to Thomas Gorczynski on Facebook, on Twitter, @TGorcz, or my website, www.Gorczynski.tax. All those of you can find and connect with me or learn about what I’m doing.
I’ve got a question because I know everyone reading is like, “How did he transition three times?” Can you share with us that story? You had a part-time gig at H&R Block as a higher education administrator. You had your full-time career and you transition to the full-time tax field. What about all the people reading who might be in a job, who might have a $100,000 or $200,000 salary job and they’re like, “I don’t want to work that much anymore. I want to put in all this effort and recoup it all for myself.” Share with us that transitional moment and instead of being reactive, how did you take the proactive approach?
The most applicable to that situation is my transition when I was working full-time at a law firm and I switched to being my own practice full-time. That was tough because I was making good money at the law firm. I was doing some side work. I had some side clients. I was growing. It became almost two full-time jobs at some point. It was too much. Working in a law firm life is difficult, because like in an accounting firm or traditional accounting firm, it’s billed by the hour.
You could do great work for your clients and help them through some challenging situations. At the end of the day, if you didn’t build a number of hours the partners or owners expected you to bill, you failed in their view. Even when you’re looking at your billing rate times the hours you charge, you’re like, “I’ve covered my salary at least triple with the work I’ve done.” They still want to see the billable hours and that’s not how I want to live my life so I decided that it’s time to change and make a transition.
If I go at this full force, I have the confidence to know that abundance will come to me and that I will be able to make it happen. Every time in my life, I face that transition, whether it’s moving from my prior career to tax or from working for somebody else to being my own full-time employee for myself. I’ve always succeeded because I let it happen. If I had tried to piecemeal it, not make it happen or resist it, I feel it would never have come together for me. I had to take the leap forward to work.
That goes into the mindset stuff. With that type of mindset, I have a similar mindset, where you have the confidence to know that the abundance will come to you and you’ll succeed because you will let it happen. How did you even get to thinking that way? What did you have to let go of or some beliefs from before to shift into that mindset? You did not want to live that life. You weren’t going to live billing these hours to make these partners happy.
That’s the traditional way of doing it. How did you make that mindset transition? For someone reading who’s like, “Tom, that sounds great. That’s exactly what I want. That’s what I’m aspiring to be like.” I’ve seen how you’ve grown. Maybe they followed your journey. What are some actionable steps or things that they can do now? Why wait? I’m always about the now. There’s no time better than the present that they could implement that you found extremely helpful for you as the accountant EA that you are?
There are a couple of things. The first thing I would say is, one, you have to acknowledge that the resistance at its core is fear. It’s a fear of change and a fear of the unknown. Until you recognize that it’s fear, you don’t know how to move past it. The second thing that you need is a plan. I don’t mean a ten-year plan, because a 5 or 10-year plan are ways to further resist the change. It’s like, “I want to get this done, but I’m going to do it over five years. I’m going to do a slow transition.” That’s not doing it in my opinion.You have to acknowledge that the resistance to transition at its core is fear. Click To Tweet
Grab the bull by the horns, as they say, and do it. When I say make a plan, make a one-year plan. I’m not saying you walk into your office, put a resignation letter on your boss’s desk and say, “I’m going to create my own firm,” and walk out and say, “What do I do now?” You need to have a short-term 6 to 9-month plan, a year at the most, but have action steps along the way every month. How can I meet this goal of transition with monthly benchmarks?
If you don’t hold yourself accountable each month to moving towards that vision, you’re never going to reach it because you’re always like, “I have a new client that wants to pay me $5,000 to do this work. I’ll take care of this transition later.” Money and clients distract us. World circumstances and our families, they all can get in our way of making this change. You have to commit to it. This is the first thing I need to worry about every day. It’s how I’m going to implement this transition and what are the actionable steps I can do now within this month to move me towards my long-term goal.
To recap, number one, acknowledge the resistance, which is the most important thing, because at its core is fear. It’s a contracting thought. There’s a small percentage of people that choose to move forward and thrive now, Tom, or in general. The majority of people are in a contracting mindset. I have a lot of enrollment calls with all of you reading and I hear it. It’s like, “I’ll wait a few more months.” It’s like, “How long have you been waiting?” That’s what Tom is talking about and that’s the grab the bull by the horn.
You do need a plan, but I even think 3 to 6 months. Look how fast the world turned upside down in 2020. If you plan anything more than 6 to 12 months out, all of that could change. I like how you’re sharing that you have to hold yourself accountable. It’s like you have a meeting with your clients. I have meetings with myself. I’m like, “What did I say I was going to do?” I do that weekly. Do you have a third thing as to how this abundance came to you?
The third thing to consider is don’t let a fear of lack of money be your block. Whenever we make career changes, we have resistance on many levels for why we don’t want to do it. The one reason, at least I told myself the most and probably many readers would feel the same way is, I have a fear that I’m going to make less money. I have a fear that I’m not going to make it. I’m going to struggle to pay my bills to do this or to do that. My experience has been to acknowledge that there is always a risk whenever we do make a change. I’ve always found that when I’ve let myself go enough to go ahead and make that change, money, clients and a successful attitude in the new venture or the new phase of my business has always come naturally to me.
I feel strongly about releasing the past and those negative perspectives that a reactive approach naturally brings what you’re seeking to you. I know that sounds new-agey or something like that, but it’s the way my life has always been in practice. There’s always been a fear. The fear has always been around money. I’ve always done better financially for having made the shift. You can’t let the fear of going broke, having less money and clients at the beginning restrain you from where you could be, which is 2, 3, 4, 5 times the amount you were making in the old reactive way, or if you’re working for another firm.
I have the same mindset. I even started this venture with $100,000 in debt and got rid of that in about a fourteen-month period. The fears are always there. They’re not going to go away. When you share that you still have the fear of being broke, or the fear of always not having enough money or a lot of money, that resonates across every person reading. If I’m wrong, feel free to send me an email and tell me, “Michelle, you are wrong.”
Tom, what did you do with the accountant hat because I could share my stories all day and you all know I’m not an accountant? How did you say, “I’m going to risk this. I’m going to take a risk, make the change, and see what happens?” I always know that betting on yourself has higher odds than going to Vegas for the stock market because you have full control over the results. This fear of being broke instills in your head. It’s how you are ingrained. This stuff is from our childhood that is ingrained in us if you have similar fears to Tom.
Are you listening to meditations? I know you’re talking a lot about new age stuff, but someone reading might be like, “How do you get rid of that? How do you acknowledge it and set it aside?” It’s something you can’t get rid of. Sorry to bring the bad news to you all, but that’s always going to be in the back of your head. It’s more of how do I take it and say, “Fear of being broke, yes, that is an accurate one. That was from about ten years old. I’m going to move you to the left and I’m going to go right and keep moving forward.” What do you do?
When we live in fear, we live in our heads. We overthink and overanalyze situations. That’s what paralyzes us from moving forward. For me, what has been helpful is leaning more into my gut and to my heart. Rather than overthinking things, “What does my gut say?” That gut feeling is an instinctual feeling. It’s a warning system that we have in our bodies that tell us what we’re doing. What does my gut say? What is the right way to go in this situation? Is it to stay and working 70 hours a week and stressing ourselves out or is my gut saying, “I can do this and I can move forward on a different path?” When we get out of our heads and focus on other centers of intelligence and those other feelings that we have, we can let go of some of that fear.
We have to acknowledge the fear too because the fears are legitimate. There is a risk and that’s okay. That’s why I say, “Go with your gut,” but be smart and lead with some type of short-term plan to make your transition as least fear-based as possible. You’re always going to have the fear. It’s always going to be there. We always have this scarcity mindset for when we were kids. The only way to get around it is to acknowledge it, plan for it and to lead instinctually where we think we can do best for ourselves and our clients.
It seems overwhelming for you all reading, it seems scary and it is. Welcome to entrepreneurship. Tom, can you share a story about how it’s gotten in your way, even in the last couple of years. You’ve transitioned more into education and you’re teaching a lot. I’m sure even with that transition so people know that you and I are like them. We’re not any different, by the way, but can you share a story of how this fear of transition and having to let it go creeped in on you? Maybe what you had to do mindset-wise to let it go and share with us that story as you transition your firm into more of the education side.
Back in 2016, when I left law firm life full-time, I was focusing on building a tax practice but at that point, the practice was going to be what I would call traditional tax practice where you do returns. I might do some resolution or controversy work. The only way to make more money in that situation is volume. You’re working. You overwork. In ‘17 or ‘18, having worked with some mentors in the field, I realized that I want to move from a reactive to a proactive working style and not having volume, but having value instead with fewer clients. I did not follow my own advice in this one circumstance. I have, in other areas, but I decided on the slow transition. I’m going to do it over a couple of years. I made that and I cut over the last few years my client lists from almost 100 down to 25.
You only service 25 clients now.Don't let the fear of lack of money be your block. Click To Tweet
The benefit of that is it leaves more time for me to do money-making activities in the other areas of my life. It could be speaking at a seminar or writing articles, for example. Did my tax practice income go down significantly? It turns out when I doubled my rates, which is why I did after the first year, did I lose clients? Yeah, but I made about the same amount of money. The second way I left some clients was I’ve decided that they don’t have the same working style that I do because I want easy to work with clients who provide good value for the fee I can charge for their work and don’t cause me anxiety.
To me, that’s the most important thing. You could be a lucrative client, but if you take up a lot of my time, you cause me anxiety, taking up time in a good sense is you want to be proactive about your tax work, that’s fine. If it’s not good energy or vibes even if it is a high-value client, I’m not interested. The one thing I’ve learned to do over the last couple of years is and this is my new mindset, everything new I take on means something else has to go away.
It’s like you’re cleaning out a closet.
For example, I was appointed Editor-in-Chief of the EA Journal, which is the publication of the National Association of Enrolled Agents. I knew this was going to be a time commitment. Before I accepted it, I accepted it to myself and I made a decision, “What piece of what I’m doing now am I going to let go of?” As accountants, we tend to accumulate clients and accumulate work, but we never consider letting them go. I want to stay at a certain level of work for my life-work balance. I will try not to work on weekends when I can avoid it. I try not to work past 5:30 or 6:00 when I can avoid it. That’s the way I want to work. In order for me to take on new and exciting projects, that means I have to let things go that I don’t necessarily want to do or it could be things I do like doing. The reality is, I only have 24 hours in a day.
You’re not special. You don’t have extra.
I wish I did. I can’t spend all 24 hours working, nor do I want to because when you have too much on your plate, nothing gets done well. Everything gets done poorly or in a mediocre manner. I would rather have much less get done at the quality that I expect of myself. If you take that mindset of my career, my work is a plate and there are boundaries, you can’t put more on there than can be supported by the actual plate itself. If I’m going to put more on, something’s got to come off. The idea is I’m taking off things that are of lesser value, and putting on things that are higher value and that could be monetarily or it could be because it’s how I view my career. I may do something that’s not necessarily of high monetary value, but it’s going to bring value long-term to my career. We have to make those judgments as well because it’s not all about dollars and cents sometimes. It’s about the long-term perspective on what you’re doing.
In this case, when you took on the EA Journal, what did you let go of? I know everyone reading is curious. I’m curious. Was it monetary let go? Was it a time let go? Was it a non-passionate let go? I’m super curious to know what it is that you let go and I love the plate analogy. Think of this like Thanksgiving. You can only throw so much on that plate and a lot of you have a full plate now like it’s Thanksgiving time. We have to remove the mashed potatoes or you have to move the green beans to put more turkey or ham on the plate. What did you let go of?
I had one big client that I had been working with for many years, but I stopped enjoying the work a few years ago mostly because a lot of the work is bookkeeping base. I don’t enjoy or care to do any bookkeeping-related work. It’s not in my skillset so I let that go in 2020. I’m wrapping that up and the reality is I’m going to have fewer tax clients in 2021. I’ve decided to further that ratchet down the number and increase my minimums so that I have fewer tax clients so I can take on some of these other things.
Thank you so much, Tom, for sharing this with us on the show. Are there any other things that we didn’t chat about that you feel could help them remove something off their Thanksgiving plate, set fear to decide after you acknowledge it, or anything that we spoke about?
Yes. What I’m going to suggest is, if you want to change and make change, it’s two things. One, write it down because if it’s in your head, it doesn’t exist, but if you put it on paper, then it does. The second thing I want to suggest is to tell people about your goals, make them hold you accountable. Once you’ve told people and people are aware of what you want to do, you feel that you need to start working towards that goal. Accountability is key in many ways.
When you tell people, you’re automatically held accountable. I would say from talking to a lot of EAs and CPAs and doing a lot of enrollment calls, when you all put your goals down on paper, that’s when they end up happening. It’s when we grab that yellow notepad that you’re always writing in and make one for your goals. If you do want to change, it happens by taking small baby steps of action. Thank you, Tom, so much for being here with us. It was an honor to have you. We’ll have you back again one day soon.
Thank you, Michelle. I look forward to it.
Thank you all so much for joining us here on the Abundant Accountant Podcast. If you want to follow Tom, you can go to his Twitter, Facebook, or you can go to www.GTAX.biz or you can also go to www.TaxCoachSavings.com and follow his journey. I’m excited to see what his next fear block is going to be and what he’s going to have to take off your plate. If there’s anything that you took away from this, I’d love to hear about it. Feel free to post a review on Apple Podcasts and share with us the one thing you learned that you’re going to put into action.
If you have a Thanksgiving plate full of stuff, because a lot of you are super overwhelmed, I talk to a lot of you. There’s never enough time in a day, you’re working 12 to 16 hours a day, you’re pretty much sick of it, you’re almost burnt out. I hear a lot of that stuff. Do you have to remove the green beans? Do you have to remove the mashed potatoes? I won’t remove the protein because that’s your high-value work but what, in your business, maybe you need to let go of because you kept accumulating it. You’ve got a Thanksgiving plate a hoarder would have and we don’t want any of that because that’s not how we have the life and firm of abundance. What is one area or one thing that you can remove from your Thanksgiving plate?There is always a risk whenever we do make a change. Click To Tweet
If you’ve read in the beginning, you’re one of those accounting professionals and you feel frustrated and stressed trying to get the quality clients. It seems you have zero control over who you work with, or how much you can charge because you go based on what you think the client could afford. You don’t think charging a high monthly fee engagement is in the realm of possibilities for you, then we should explore what’s possible working together. You can book a free call as long as you’ve been in business at least two years over at the AbundantCall.com.
I only work with five accountants at a time so if this resonates with you, I would book a call. If you’re sick of the way things have been going, and you’re ready to jump two feet in and do what Tom talked about, which is take action. If you take action, what are the things you need to do? You need to write it down and tell some people about your goals. I want to talk to you if you want to discover what’s possible because maybe what you’ve been doing isn’t working anymore and you’re ready to set the fear to the left and move over to the right.
If you have zero confidence, I love talking to you because confidence stems from the action and we put some good action into place. Even if we explore what’s possible, I can promise you that you will learn a lot. If you never thought that you could double your revenue then you can watch some of the testimonials over at AbundantCall.com when you book your call. All of them have doubled the revenue and they’ve removed some green beans and mashed potatoes off their plate to add in some more ham and some turkey. I will see you in the next episode.
- Google Play – OnTheClock
- App Store – OnTheClock
- EA Journal
- PassKey Learning Systems EA Review Series
- Compass Tax Educators
- Thomas Gorczynski – Facebook
- @TGorcz – Twitter
- National Association of Enrolled Agents
- Apple Podcasts – The Abundant Accountant Podcast
About Thomas Gorczynski
Mr. Gorczynski’s practice focuses on developing advanced tax reduction strategies for individuals and privately-held businesses as well as helping taxpayers resolve complex IRS tax problems.
Mr. Gorczynski is an Enrolled Agent and is only 1 of 300 non-attorneys nationwide admitted to practice before the United States Tax Court. He has a Master of Science in Taxation from Golden Gate University and is a Fellow of the National Tax Practice Institute.
Mr. Gorczynski is a nationally-known speaker on federal tax matters. In addition, he currently serves as editor-in-chief of EA Journal and is co-author of the PassKey Learning Systems EA Review Series.
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