The Art of the Spin
Everyone remembers the Law of Inertia.
Physics 101: An object in motion will remain in
motion; an object at rest will remain at rest.
The Law of Inertia can be applied, ever so
loosely, to today’s accounting firms. A firm in
motion is continually moving and growing. A
firm at rest has failed to keep up with change
and finds itself at an exceptionally slow-moving pace or a complete standstill.
It takes a lot of effort to operate a successful
firm, including defining niche services, keeping current on technology and best practices,
recruiting and maintaining qualified staff,
and implementing dedicated marketing and
branding initiatives. Successful firms are doing all of these things to maintain a leadership
position and enjoy a growing client base and
generous profit margins. These are the firms
that have mastered the “Art of the Spin.”
BY Krist Y short
Accounting firms that stay in motion are those that will
continue to prosper.
How the best firms maintain momentum
THE SPIN THEORY
The Art of the Spin is fairly simple in concept.
Firms that are “spinning” move at a strong and
steady pace — always seeking new learning
opportunities to keep current. Only through
ongoing learning can firms expect to remain
up to date on technology innovations, inte-
grated solutions and leading practice trends.
Fortunately, there is no shortage of learning
opportunities. Just consider all the channels
available — trade shows, conferences, web-
casts, online training, networking forums,
peer-to-peer interaction, and so on.
Kristy Short, Ed.D, is president of SAS
Communications 360 ( www.sascommunica-
tions360.com) and a partner in Root Works
Communications ( www.rootworks.com)
— firms dedicated to providing PR, branding and marketing services to accountants.
Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Assessing your performance
Rather than giving the partners the questions they should answer, we suggested that
they come up with their own self-assessment.
Specifically, we wanted them to devise questions they could ask themselves each week to
evaluate how well they had performed.
Here’s what one of the high-performers
wrote about the task: “The exercise forced me
to redefine how I view a successful week. ... I
have always viewed success based upon what
closed or is likely to close, but this exercise
made me think more in terms of movement
We are not sure what he or the others will
do with their lists of questions. They might
forget about them — that’s what happens to
a lot of things that fill time in sales workshops.
Maybe they’ll pull them out after a long week
and see how well they performed using their
own criteria — and get something valuable
out of the process.
Or perhaps they’ll do something really
bold. What if each partner had a trusted colleague, spouse or friend ask them the questions, holding them accountable each week
for their critical behaviors? There would be
BY August AquilA And ned Miller
We recently asked a group of partners to think about what we
call the “mirror questions.” We all know that it’s easy to kid our-
selves about how well we’re doing. But when we have to look
ourselves in the mirror, well, it’s another story.
You need to ask the right questions
only one rule: Colleagues and friends could
only ask the questions. There could be no disapproving glances, no tongue-lashings, and
no critical comments.
Management guru Marshall Goldsmith
has 10 or 12 questions that he uses to evaluate his performance each day. Each night he
talks on the phone with a friend about his
professional pursuits, but also about whether
he’s done his sit-ups, eaten sensibly, done
something nice for his wife and children, etc.
It works for him.
Do you want to come up with your own
questions? If you do, stop reading here. If you
need some inspiration, here are the questions
that the partner quoted above asked:
Did I define my specific objectives for the
Did I add names to my prospect list?
Where did those names come from?
Do I have the right mix of businesses on
my prospect list?
Did I plan appropriately for each sales
Did I develop a follow-up plan for each
sales call? Did I execute it?
August Aquila is an author, keynote speaker
and consultant to the accounting profession. Reach him at aaquila@aquilaadvisors.
com. Ned Miller is a consultant to the
banking industry. Reach Ned at nmiller@