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Second-half-of-life thinking

By Darren Root, CEO

When I was a kid, one of my dad’s favorite sayings was, “You can’t put an old head on young shoulders.” I’m humbled by how strongly his words speak to me as I’ve grown older. This column is by no means meant to discount what young people bring to the table. In fact, it has been my youngest son Alex, now 26, who has kindled awareness of what I’ve come to refer to as “second-half-of-life thinking.” 

Second-half-of-life thinking has less to do with age; it’s more about how we challenge and develop the thinking that gave shape to our earlier lives—first-half-of-life thinking. As the term suggests, first-half-of-life thinking comprises what we learned in the first stage of life, like how we engage in relationships, how we approach our work, how we run our firms, how we embrace religious belief or non-belief, and even how we see other people as a whole. We tend to form opinions about each of these big concepts early in life and never revisit our thinking as life unfolds. 

If it wasn’t for conversations with people like my son and a couple of other trusted friends, I would probably still be stuck in that first-half-of-life thinking. I grew up in a mostly middle class, mostly white, small town in southern Indiana. I’ve been married to my high school sweetheart for more than 35 years, attended the same church for more than 30 years and live about 30 miles away from where I grew up. I have three adult children and two grandchildren who all live in the same town I live in. If anyone is prone to getting stuck in the first-half-of-life thinking, I’m a leading candidate. 

But I’ve also experienced a sense of restlessness whenever that which I consider to be my true self feels out of alignment with the way I’m personally engaging with the world. In the last few years, my restlessness seems to have increased. It’s due in part to deep philosophical, religious and business conversations with my adult children. And some of this restlessness has been the result of working with a new generation of young people and finally a couple of close friends with similar restlessness. 

My response to this has been to indulge in reading. I’ve been an avid reader for the majority of adulthood, learning and evolving much along the way. I discovered self-help books in my early thirties; books like The E-Myth from Michael Gerber and The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, by Steven Covey. Books such as these taught me a lot about looking at my work and personal life differently. Lately, I’ve doubled down on my commitment to reading. 

In poring over a couple of books a week. I’m learning that when we are not living out of our true self that there is an inner part of us that remains restless. I’m also learning that much of what we think we know about living is formed in the first half of life and that many people never come to the realization that it is only part of the story. Second-half-of-life thinking is about asking questions and challenging much of what we think we know about our first half of life. 

It seems that the first-half-of-life thinking is required in order to get to second-half-of-life thinking. There doesn’t seem to be any direct flights from childhood to second-half-of-life thinking. I’ve learned from my years helping people that you can’t force someone to move from first-half-of-life thinking either; many people get stuck there their entire lives. But generally speaking, second-half-of-life thinking aligns more with your true self. It’s a more holistic and inclusive way of seeing life. It’s the realization expressed by Steve Jobs, who said, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.” First-half-of-life thinking is thinking that was passed on to you that you internalized as your own. Second-half-of-life thinking is asking questions and seeking answers to what you learned in the first half of life. 

This topic is as broad and deep as the dimensions of our own lives. Suffice it to say, much of what we see as truths in our lives may not actually be truths, but rather other people’s thinking that was just passed on to us and accepted without question. The difference between those who stay in the first-half-of-life thinking their whole lives versus those who embrace second-half-of-life thinking is the desire and the motivation to be a true seeker. 

Do you ever have that restlessness about your firm? Do you ever think that your firm doesn’t truly represent who you are as a person? Do you treat employees and customers like real human beings with real lives, or are they just a means to an end? As a profession, are we just doing what has always been done in our profession, or are we actually changing people’s lives for the better? If you’re interested in seeking second-half-of-life thinking, these are just a few questions you should be asking yourself. Second-half-of-life thinking is chipping away—some might call it shadow boxing—each of the pieces of our lives that do not align with who we are at our very core.

All my best,

Create a positive client onboarding experience

 By Leah, Education Team

Hello Summer! We have missed you. Finding time to dedicate to projects between vacations and summer deadlines can be tricky, but now is the best time of year to be checking those projects off of your to-do list. It is also likely the time of year where the clients you may have pushed off onboarding for until after tax season are now being onboarded. Take a look at our onboarding guidelines to really make the experience a positive one with these new clients. 

  1. Identify your onboarding team.
    • The same one to two people should be responsible for onboarding new clients. Think of this person or team as project managers. They may be responsible for doing the technology setup themselves or ensuring that it gets done by delegating to others. This allows for more flexibility when assigning this role. Either way, the onboarding team should be detail-oriented and great with people.
  2. Always have a kick off call.
    • It is important that the new client engagement start off on the right foot. The onboarding team should schedule the kick off call as soon as the engagement letter has been signed to go over outstanding documents the firm needs and to reinforce the expectations on how you will be working together.
  3. Train your clients.
    • Don’t assume that your clients know how to download the apps you need them to use or how to best scan documents to provide to you. Patient training goes a long way to ensure that a client won’t fall back into old habits that may be easier for them but not as efficient in the long run for the firm.
  4. Touch base after 90 days.
    • Whether it is 30, 60 or 90 days, determine a timeline for checking back in with the client  after they have been working with their accounting services team for a bit. Hopefully, by that time, any learning curves have been worked through and things are going well. Use this is an opportunity to be proactive with any feedback provided by the client, and look for opportunities to engage more. Perhaps additional training or additional services could be provided as needed.
  5. If you’re looking for more guidance, check out our Onboarding Clients Lesson in the Online Learning system.

Decrease risk with Slack

By Chris Dickens, IT

We’re often asked why we advocate Slack for communications instead of email. When I’m asked directly, I sense that people expect a highly technical answer to come from the IT Professional. People expect me to tell them that its encryption is better, or that its login processes are more sophisticated than NORAD’s systems, or some similar answer. So firms are generally surprised when the answer isn’t technical at all. 

When you standardize on communication channels that are outside the most dangerous one—91% of all data breaches start with an email—it immediately lowers your cybersecurity risk profile. When all of our internal communications are through Slack, or Microsoft Teams, and when most of our client communications and data exchange are through an app such as Liscio, our staff are immediately distrusting, or suspicious, of emails that come from either staff or clients. As phishing continues to become more sophisticated, where more and more of these scams appear to come from people you may know or trust, moving those communications out of email leads to substantial risk reduction. 

Changing human behavior is the biggest opportunity to reduce firm cybersecurity risk. Changing how we communicate is an essential part of this behavioral change. 

Tips for creating effective communications

By Chris, Marketing Team

Summer is here, and for many that means family vacations, conferences and catching up on all the projects that were waylaid during tax season. Summer’s also an opportune time to create effective content/dialogue that stands the best chance of connecting with prospects and clients. When creating content, apply the following guidelines:

  • Relevance: The most important aspect of communicating your expertise is to offer content that has a direct connection to your audience’s needs, concerns and desires.
  • Significance: Present a message that has weight. Your content needs to offer your audience information that’s important to them—information and knowledge that has impact.
  • Simplicity: Be clear and get to the point quickly.
  • Reward: Give your audience content that leaves them thinking, “I’m glad I read/viewed/listened to that.”

By developing content that is relevant, important and to the point, you will have a much greater chance of leaving a lasting, positive and rewarding impression!

If you’re looking for a consolidated place to keep track of new things Rootworks is rolling out, check the What’s New in Rootworks channel in Connect.

Upcoming Webinars

  • July 11 – Staff Training: Fathom Part 1 of 2 – Setup and Basics. This class will cover the basics of Fathom; adding a new client, setup, adding KPIs and a review of the default dashboards.
  • July 17 – Staff Training: Advisory Services Class 3 of 3 – Business Management Services. This class will cover the Business Management Services product, which is our second advisory services product (Business Foundation Services was the first). The Business Management Services product is a recurring engagement billed on a monthly basis. Business Management is built around a series of pre-defined reports that track important information that a business owner should be paying attention to. 
  • July 31 – Staff Training: Fathom Part 2 of 2 – Configuring Reports that Support Business Management Services. This class will go through specific how-to examples of creating the Business Management reports.

Register in Rootworks.com under Learn / Events.

Sales Proposal Software 

Rootworks has developed a relationship with Proposable. Proposabale is a sales proposal software solution. Sales proposal software allows you to create, deliver and track professional-looking sales proposals that can be signed electronically. Here is an example of a proposal for accounting services that was signed electronically and then downloaded to a PDF.

If you are interested in sending professional-looking sales proposals, review our information on Proposable, including Rootworks package for our members who are interested in using Proposable.

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