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Discovering “Value Creation” at Boot Camp!

This is how I discovered my most powerful business and personal "ally"

After graduating from business school, I started out as a CPA. For 20 years I applied accounting knowledge mechanically to help my clients manage their businesses. My only “muse”—if you could call it such—was the “despot” who dictated how financial statements, tax returns, and reports to banks, investors, and governments should look, but were of little help to my small business clients. I couldn’t see it, but in mid-career I was burned out and depressed.

When I met Ric Payne and Paul Dunn, I was a standard “government issue CPA,” checking boxes and filing reports. But, Paul was a genius at talking about “value creation” and Ric’s principle insight was that measuring small changes in the components of “value creation” can have major impacts on both profits and on the value of a business.

Here’s how it happened. When going through a stack of junk mail. I came upon an invitation to attend a gathering called the “Accountants Boot Camp.” Puzzled, I called an 800 number and listened to a tape recording of what I could expect. It described an intense four-day, 12 hour-a-day challenge, at what I thought was an outrageous price: $7,500 for a four-day meeting!

The tape also said that if I didn’t feel I’d gotten my money’s worth, they would hand me back my check at the end of the conference. Hmmm… figuring I had nothing to lose except four days at a Tahoe resort, I sent in the check—planning quite definitely to attend and then claim my refund.

About halfway through the conference, though, it slowly dawned on me—that these ideas represented a new way of thinking about what I did. “Creating value” in business was a radical shift in my perspective—a “wake-up-call” to a new vision for myself and my clients.

And—strange, even to myself—was the growing feeling that I might not want that refund after all. I saw that I was being taught how “value is created and measured,” not just in my business, but in any business. As a result, I found myself brimming with new ideas, “hits” that were coming from a new helper—even though I didn’t yet have a name for this helper.

Using the tools, I learned at that conference, over the next several years I earned many times the fee of $7,500, in addition to what I typically earned from my accounting business. Even more satisfying than the money, was the satisfaction I got from seeing my clients prosper.

In the years since, I have created additional tools using value-creation concepts that I articulated on my own—as well as those that I learned at the Boot Camp. Finally, I was able to understand how my most successful clients produced extraordinary results—and I began to look for the source of their creative ideas.

In the end, I surprised myself by walking away from that “outrageous” check for $7,500. With an intuitive leap, I sensed, without being able to say “why,” that these powerful ideas were in fact a “gift that keeps on giving.” My depression evaporated as I looked to the future.

Also, I began to ask a secondary question: “Where do these value-creation ideas come from?” And by seeking to answer that question, I unwittingly began to spin what I call my “golden thread” by cultivating a relationship with an internal helper, what I now call my “Ally.” To my delight, once I had established a mode of communication with this Ally, he responded. I’ll write more about my Ally and communicating with this helper in future posts.

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