Able and Willing

Able and Willing

We want what we don’t have.

If we have it, we don’t want it.

Granted, there are a few individuals, who purport that they have risen to a higher level of existence, by not wanting anything. They claim to be perfectly happy with nothing.

Making the best of whatever the situation, in which we find ourselves, is different than doing nothing. Those who do nothing are stuck in a rut, regardless of the rationalization for their inactivity.

To lead ourselves and others to higher levels of awareness and success, we must grow.

We grow and become of greater value in service only as much as we choose.

Each and every day, each and every decision, our choices are determined by the answers to these two questions:

  • Can I do IT?
  • Is IT worth it?

In other words:

  • Am I Able?
  • Am I Willing?

Am I Able ~

All we do begins with a thought. Change nothing and nothing changes. The easiest thing in the world is to find reasons why something can’t be done, which results in no leadership and no growth. Simply, by believing IT can be done, our minds begin finding ways to achieve.

Am I Willing ~

Where there’s a will, there is a way. Our willingness is governed by two raw emotions: Pain and Pleasure. Given enough pain, our will becomes stronger. Offered enough pleasure, our will finds a way. The beauty of will is that IT resides within our sphere of influence.

A mind changed against its will,
Will be of the same opinion still.

How do we persuade our minds to choose the greater motivator of pleasure?

One way is to tempt it with Riches. The better way is to feed it with Purpose.

Oh, I know, that money trick is a quick-and-dirty way to get our attention. To hold it, though, requires the intrinsic higher rewards, which originate from doing the right thing.

Sometimes, we know what that Right Thing is. Other times, we struggle to DO IT, right. That’s when we remember the Three-E Formula: Enlightenment, Empowerment, and Encouragement.

Enlightenment is the catalyst for believing we can do IT.

Empowerment is the motivation for choosing to do IT.

And – from time to time – our confidence is bolstered by the Encouragement, of family and friends, to be Able and Willing.

www.kimfoard.com

Plan To Do Good

Loyalty and Kindness

All we do begins with a thought.

The gift of thought raises the human condition above the animal kingdom.

Without the ability to think, we would react as all animals do — with instinct.

With the freedom to choose, we are able to be the Captain of our own destiny.

Although able to choose, the question remains,
“Will we?”

Able and Willing are two entirely different concepts. The first is an inherent gift. The second is, literally, a moment to moment decision. Often, the next step is taken with furrowed brow and gritted teeth. By sheer determination and courageous will, action follows thought.

In other words, the ability to think and talk must be followed by the willingness to blink and walk. Thought without action is simply a fleeting fantasy of imagination.

The bridge between thought and action is a plan, a blueprint, if you will. Great plans result in great results.

If you plan to do good, you will receive unfailing love and faithfulness.

A certain amount of brick-and-mortar is necessary for a comfortable life. Food, clothing, and shelter are the basics to survive. What is required if we want to thrive?

The surprising answer is not something we accumulate for our own comfort. Yet, we benefit the most by giving them to another: Loyalty and Kindness.

Never let loyalty and kindness leave you!
Tie them around your neck as a reminder.
Write them deep within your heart.

We must choose to believe in the merit of these two words and all they can produce. Constant in our thoughts, they are of value only when practiced. Knowing and Doing are as different as Able and Willing. Education and Experience are required to draft the next great plan of action.

If you search for good, you will find favor.

Mother Nature abhors a vacuum. The only way to displace the unpleasant is to fill the vessel with goodness. That requires a conscious thought, a plan of action, and a commitment to do.

Your kindness will reward you.

As the uncertainty of current events swirls around us in a torrent of conditions beyond our control, let’s focus on the jewels around our neck and the journals of our heart. Two words can be a constant reminder of our life’s purpose: Loyalty and Kindness.

Let’s plan to do good!

www.kimfoard.com

Flights of Fancy

Baby StepsI have a memory of something, which I don’t remember.

Since all we do begins with a thought, I must have been thinking, “That looks like fun. Take the next step.”

I was learning to walk. Walk at one; Talk at two: I must have been approaching one year old.

We’ve all heard the expression, “We learn to walk by falling down.” Never to do anything according to societal norms, I took that idea to a whole new level: the Basement.

Yep, I rode that baby walker down a flight of steep stairs and sailed onto the concrete floor of the basement. Don’t remember a thing; yet, I had recurring scary dreams of the event into my teen years.

All we do begins with a thought.

This last week, I had a phone conversation with a fellow, who wants to find purpose for his life by looking to others for the answer. His approach is, “I’ll know what I’m supposed to do when I feel it.”

So sorry; It doesn’t work that way. In fact, feelings flow from what we do. In other words, do the work; then, there will be the appropriate feelings.

What work?

All we do begins with a thought.

For a toddler, the thought was, “That looks like fun. Take the next step.” Unaware of the lessons waiting for me, I learned much. Among the take-a-ways, “What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger.”

As older kids, we forget that lesson and stunt our own development.

This last week, I was honored to engage in a Coaching Session of a young entrepreneur, who has asked for me to share my thirty years of business experience with him. In the course of our time together, these words captured the essence of his success, “Dan, the reason you learn so quickly is because you are willing to make the mistakes.”

That is the essence of success: Make mistakes and Learn from them, quickly.

Does that mean we become loose cannons, blasting away, hurting others in our quest to learn? Simple answer is, “No.” What it does mean is that we plan and prepare to make mistakes. “We don’t know what we don’t know.” If we want to know It, guaranteed, we will make mistakes in the discovery process.

Flights of FancyOh, and those scary dreams of bouncing the walker down the stairs, to land upright?

They became much more fun, when I let go of the fear, pulled back on the yoke, and soared into the unknown.

Go ahead, just, Do It. Strap on the knee pads, buckle on a helmet, pull on a pair of leather gloves, slip into your favorite flak jacket and take a Flight of Fancy.

www.kimfoard.com

Creating to Creation

Creating to CreationSince we learn by doing and the fun is in the doing, learning is fun!

Doing is the secret path to discovering happiness. In fact, the power of “ing” brings into existence the “ion“.

All we do begins with a thought. Good judgment comes from experience; experience comes from bad judgment.

Thinking produces action, doing produces education, and creating produces creation. One is the process; the other is the result. From its Greek origin, ion is defined as something that goes.

The premise of this treatise is that any accumulation of stuff during our lifetime will go, away.

To continue this thought experiment, we will consider a two-word phrase: Building Empires. The first word, Building, is the process; the second word, Empires, is the result.

Let’s begin by experiencing the feelings, which flow through us, when thinking about an Empire. What a headache, right?! Who protects it? Who maintains it? What do the subjects need and the royalty want? Where are the borders and are they secure? How many turf wars are there between the politicians? When will enough be enough? The answer: Never.

In fact, we are encouraged to remember:

Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich.
Be wise enough to know when to quit.
In the blink of an eye wealth disappears,
For it will sprout wings and fly away like an eagle.

Now, let’s experience the feelings from thinking about the process of Building. Oh, what excitement! There is the initial sense of adventure and discovery. Then comes the dreaming, the planning, the preparing, and drawing of blueprints. Anything is possible! Next, begins the actual construction. Messy at the beginning; yet, still exciting: the hole in the ground, the ballet of activity to pour footings and foundations. And, on it goes, until: we have a new creation.

If we focus on the doing, the learning, and the growing in our individual lives, it is guaranteed that action, education and a new creation will emerge. By engaging in the process of creating, creation will be the result.

We learn by doing; the fun is in the doing. Let’s, continue to, have fun learning!

www.kimfoard.com

Surf`s Up

Surf's UpBrace yourself; serious erosion is on the way!

Predictive models rely on probability. This is not a prediction; it’s not even rocket science. It is number relativity, with a 100% guarantee of occurrence because “SURF’S UP”: Silly Us Rabid Followers Swallowing Useless Platitudes.

Contrary to the storms of nature, we have the opportunity to push this tsunami back over the horizon; to turn the tide of human events. Since we get what we allow, it is reasonable to believe that we have the power to manage that which is within our individual control.

In fact we do it every single day: we live within the budget of a net paycheck, or net profit, from a business. Net is the secret, here; because what happens to the Gross is, well, simply, no other way to say it: ugly!

What we live on is a percentage of the whole earnings pie. If taxes take a 20% slice of the pie, we live on the remaining 80%; if taxes take a 40% chunk, then, yes, we can visually see the gaping “hole in the whole” and the, smaller, 60% share for us. What if, though, we need the 80% to feed our families?

Let’s pretend that we need $40,000 after taxes. By now, your mind is running wild with the calculation of: how big is the total pie, right?! Lucky for us, I was pretty good at 4th grade math. $40,000 divided by .80 equals $50,000; taxes are .20, or $10,000; and, we are left with $40,000. Ah, the family eats well.

Pretending further that prices never increase and our family is happy with $40,000; yet, considering the wall of taxes headed straight for us, something and somebody has to give. How much will the “gift” be? Just a little more division and we can multiple our knowledge, and that, my friends, will empower us to calm the winds of catastrophe. $40,000 divided by .60 equals $66,666; taxes are .40, or $26,666; and, we are left with $40,000, for our family.

In the mail yesterday, I received notice that my Health Insurance premium was going from $300 per month, up, to $400. Every other day for the last few months, I have been notified of other price increases on a variety of goods and services. If the question is: Why? The answer is: Families need $40,000.

Folks; Pogo was right, “I have seen the enemy and he is us.” It is true: We get the government we deserve. After all, isn’t the founding concept of our government: Of the people, By the people, and For the people? Yes; that is a question mark. Do we believe it? More importantly, are we able and willing to accept the mantle of leadership and take individual responsibility for our families?!

A simple, “YES”, in word and deed, is all that is required to make a difference in the world, today. We can turn the tide by declaring, “GIG’S UP”: Get Ideas Growing Splendidly Using Passion.

www.kimfoard.com

5 Minute Business Plan

BlueprintsBlueprint For Success

A seasoned carpenter shared this secret to success: “You must begin; and begin again.”

For the dreamers among us, the question is: “Where do I begin?”

The purpose of this article is to provide the parameters for a quick analysis of an idea to determine its possibility, and probability, of actionable success. As with any legitimate construction project, we build it on paper, first.

This is our blueprint.

Owner Compensation
The concept of beginning here is novel for a Business Plan. Yet, this number will keep our attitude right and provide the Retained Earnings for business expansion. One of the principles of success is: Begin with the End in Mind.

Debt Service
Unless adequate funds are available for start-up, the early years will include a Banker for a partner. The goal is to buy them out as quickly as possible to retain their share of profits, paid out of our business as Interest.

Taxes
Self-employment, Federal income and State income taxes must be paid timely. Because of severe penalties for non-compliance, governmental entities are a bad source of financing.

Overhead
This is the delivery system of providing value to the marketplace. It is everything from the brick-and-mortar to indirect expenses; it is the price we pay to have a Company.

Direct Costs
Each project and customer will want, and need, something different. The flexibility to “Wow!” them requires additional expenditures.

Productive Units
All of the above is accomplished by understanding the finite number of units available for distribution. For service enterprises, this will be a reservoir of “Hours”; for a products company, this will be the capacity of the “Shop”; and, for an inventory business, this will be the “Goods”.

Formulas:

Net Income = (Owner + Banker) / (100% – Tax Rate)
Value to Customers = Net Income + Overhead
Sales Price = Value to Customers + Direct Costs

Example Variables:

Owner Compensation: $80,000 ~ [For the Family, after taxes]
Debt Service: $40,000 ~ [Loans $200,000; 5 Year maturity]
Tax Rate: 40% ~ [S/E 15.3%, FD 20%, ST 4.7%]
Overhead: $144,000 ~ [Ads, Insurance, Rent, Utilities, Etc.]

Solution:

(Owner $80,000 + Banker $40,000) / (100% – 40% Tax Rate)
Is same as: $120,000 / .60 = $200,000 Net Income
$200,000 Net Income + $144,000 Overhead = $344,000 Value

For those providing Services to the marketplace, the final step is to divide Productive Units into the Customer Value. Full-time employment is 2,000 hours per year; entrepreneurs will work more than that, with only a percentage actually billable to Customers.

If our Start-up Enterprise team can be 86% productive, after allowance for those duties of internal and external management, it has an annual reservoir of 1,720 billable hours.

$344,000 Value to Customers / 1,720 Hours = $200 per Hour: Price for Value

Those providing Products, or Inventory, for sale to customers, will factor in the Direct Costs. In fact, they will consider the number of meals (if a restaurant), or suits (if a boutique), as their Productive Units and establish their Mark-up, accordingly.

Now, step apart from the crowd and consider the most important variable of all: “What is my passion: the one unique thing about me, for which the world waits?”

The rest of the story from our successful builder, quoted at the beginning of this article: “Find something you love to do and do a lot of it.” If we are able and willing to tap into that passion and grasp the foundational principles of a Business Plan, quite literally, we are 5 Minutes away from a new beginning!

www.kimfoardcpa.com

Blinkin` Thinkin`

Blinkin' Thinkin'Only in my wildest imaginations might I have guessed that the answer to making the world a better place would come from a Ford Service Advisor in a dealership far, far, away.

In her opinion, the problem with people is a warranty. You know: An Entitlement.

She went on to explain, “Regular customers want their vehicle serviced, or need something fixed, and they are able and willing to pay for it. Warranty customers are demanding and are usually disappointed in something we say, or do.”

I’m glad it was a telephone conversation, because I cringed. It was as if I had crested a hill and the sky was alive with emergency flashers, blinking wildly: This is important; pay attention. At least once a year, I struggle to keep my emotions in check. The last time involved an episode over a warranty.

Last year, I purchased a brand new, redesigned, Ford Lariat F-150, pick-’em-up truck. One of the first things I noticed was that it cornered like it was on rails. In making one of those corners, I reached across the padded center console to get a grip. What I felt was other than smooth.

As I got home, parked, and went over to the passenger side to take a look, I found a break in the leather upholstery. Just a flaw in the material, I thought. The local dealership took a look, listened and agreed with my interpretation of the situation. After receiving photos taken by the dealership, Ford Motor Company said, “No. Looks like abuse by the customer.”

Now, many times, after putting 80,000 miles on a rig, I have been teased about that new showroom look, by friends. Strangers will hop in and make a comment, “Well, I can tell: no kids and no dogs!” (Been there; done that: another story for another day.) Never have I been accused of vehicle abuse!

Since I’ve been working hard for the last several years to build a better me, I was able to practice keeping my words gracious. I’m pretty sure my facial expressions, body language and tone of voice were all screaming like a toddler.

All because of a bad belief, that: I was entitled to special treatment.

Every day, we hear reference to Entitlement Programs designed by our Government to help us:

  • Like Unemployment Benefits: really, is it a benefit? I thought having the skills to work and provide value to the marketplace, with or without a job, is a benefit.
  • Like Social Security: really, is it security? I thought tapping into a passion for life and using our unique gifts for the benefit of others is always in style.
  • Like Public Education: really, is it education? I thought preserving our individuality and creativity, to discover new and better ways, brightens each step of our journeys.
  • Like Health Care: really, is it care? I thought Customers only care about what Professionals know, after they know how much we care, by carefully listening.

Who, really, cares the most about you and your family? Yes; you do.

In the strictest sense of the word and as we break it down into its true meaning, the word “En-title-ment” simply means: to give a Title, raise in Rank, assign to a higher Position. For those into Pedestals, good luck with that. For the rest of us, please, with help like that: who needs it?! In fact, Government can be explained in the words of Pogo: I have seen the enemy and he is us!

Each of the social programs was created with pure intent: to provide a bridge to opportunity. They can never be a way of life. Life does not come with a warranty and intelligence does not arise from legislation; to believe so is pure, unadulterated, stinkin’ thinkin’. In fact, to live so is to remain immature. In this case, though, no one is available to change the diaper.

There is a story about Henry Ford wanting a V-8 engine for his automobiles. He asked his engineers to make one. After several months, they returned to say it couldn’t be done. Henry explained why it was important for families to travel in safety, with the increased power of more horses under the hood.

Off the engineers went, to try, again. After many more months and with conviction, they reported that the task was impossible. Henry said firmly, “Boys, you don’t understand. You can either build me a V-8 engine, or I will find someone who can.” They built Henry his V-8.

In recognition, comes this quote: Whether you think you can, or can’t, you’re right.

At the crossroads of life, when you come to the moment of decision, remember your choices: Stinkin’ Thinkin’ or Blinkin’ Thinkin’.

Please, choose wisely!

www.kimfoard.com

What We Want

What We WantAs a door-to-door Cutco® knife salesman in my freshman year of college, I learned that people buy what they want; not, what they need.

When asked for several knives to sharpen, one couple would present broken blades so dull soft butter was a challenge. While giving me hearty nods of approval that they were in need of knives and enjoying the presentation of tricks performed with the sharp knives from my sales kit, they would politely say, “No. No, thanks. We don’t want what you’re selling.”

The couple in the next house would struggle to find any dull knives in the sets of fine cutlery displayed in their kitchen. As they apologized for not being able to play along, I would make a little conversation, reluctantly begin the show, and then quickly navigate my way through the script. Without even asking for the order, my focus was on an exit strategy. They would reach over, touch my arm and exclaim, “Yes! We want to buy the biggest set.”

Only years later, when studying one of the greatest salesmen, Zig Ziglar, did I learn, “You can get everything you want in life, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

This is my story.

The days of my childhood were spent horseback in a sea of cowhides with a Dad who knew the way to confidence was by doing what others said was impossible. The evenings were spent in epic tales of adventure with a Mom who knew the portal to opportunity was by learning from the stories of others.

After high school, I turned down scholarships to pursue my dream of being a cowboy. Fifteen months later, I knew I didn’t have the same love of horses and cows as my dad. Yet, all of those years living the notion, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way” came in handy for a poor kid with a new dream of going to college. In the course of managing my fledgling business as a twenty-something entrepreneur, the counsel of an older Client cut short my whining as he said, “Kim, your problem is not that you were born poor. Your problem is that you were born with ambition. Many are born poor and stay that way. You want something else.”

Another facet of the “something else” was eventually discovered twenty years later in a book written by Ronald J. Baker, Professional’s Guide to Value Pricing (with CD), Edition 3, published by Aspen Law & Business, 2001.

By starting with one client in a little Montana town of 2,500 population, appropriately named Roundup, the cowboy in me was enjoying the gathering of a small herd of loyal clients. They understood from the very beginning: I was in the business of selling dollars. I didn’t understand Value Pricing. I did understand the importance of finding 5 to 10 times my fee in benefit for them. In the early years, there was an Exit Conference with every single client to explain what had been done. That made quite an impression and they would say, “No one has ever cared enough to spend time with me, like this.” Spend time? Heck, no! I was investing time with them. I wanted a long-term relationship.

Then, one day, time had taken its toll on a ranch family and they were in the process of transitioning the next generation into the accounting function. I remember vividly the excitement of working with the new twenty-something CFO, as we set up QuickBooks® and enjoyed a day’s worth of coaching and visiting.

In the course of adding families, processes, and infrastructure to the ranch operation (right in the middle of a seven year drought), there was a Net Operating Loss to be carried-back: Many thousands of dollars of benefit for a thousand dollar fee. To my surprise, I received a call from the new CFO, who had questions about the bill.

Remember, this was before Value Pricing, Fixed Price Agreements, Retainers, and crystal-clear Communication at the beginning of every project.

Sure enough, he was right. There was a line on his bill, and every other client’s bill, that read:

Photocopies and Assembly ­— $75.00

Made perfect sense to a bean-counter. We have overhead. After a few years in business, we have a history of expense. We can project that cost into the next year and we can reasonably estimate the number of projects for a given year. So, we do the math. $75.00 was a good number. All clients paid the same on any project and it, definitely, was a Fixed Cost, to me. Not to the client. He wanted to negotiate that amount, downward.

In fact, he had counted the number of pages, and fasteners, applied the going Office Supply Store rate for those commodities, and arrived at his number of $7.50. In his mind, he had been overcharged by a factor of 10. Ah, that “Perfect 10.” Yet, this time it was viewed as being in my favor, not the client’s, and it was causing harm to our relationship.

He thought I was cheating him. I thought he was behaving stupidly. We were, both, on to something!

The value provided to the family for the last twenty years didn’t matter at that moment. In essence, he was a “new client” and deserved my respect. So, we began at the beginning.

Having read enough of “Professional’s Guide to Value Pricing” to think differently and having found the CD in the back of the book with templates, I approached this “new beginning” with fervor. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain — a relationship hung in the balance.

There must be a better way to build relationships than: Work Hard ~ Send Bill. For twenty years, I had done what I had been trained to do by my accounting mentors. It worked, most of the time: 95% of the clients understood the value and were willing to be surprised by the bill. For a competitive perfectionist, that other 5% was the challenge; and, at that moment, I had one very irate customer on my hands, and my mind.

Change nothing; Nothing changes.
Insanity is repeating the old and expecting something new.
Easy is hard; Hard is easy.
We get what we allow.

It was time for a change.
The insanity was tiring.
A new path was needed.
I had created this mess.

A single line on a bill was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

One more witticism became the mantra of the day, “Fake it until you make it!” At the time, all I had was a page of script titled Questions You Should Ask The Customer During The Fixed Price Agreement Meeting and a burning desire to find a better way.

Through the years, those questions have been customized and internalized until they are at the center of every new beginning and potential client relationship.

The conversation is structured around:

  • Why do you believe a great Partnership might be possible?
  • Which attributes of Character are most important to you?
  • How can we ensure dynamic Communication?
  • What is the passion at the core of your Commitments?
  • What growth plans do you have?
  • How do you define quality service?
  • Is a results focused Service Guarantee important to you?
  • What do you consider as timely response to your requests of me?
  • Why are you changing professionals?
  • What specific objectives do you want to achieve?
  • How will you measure our progress and accomplishment?
  • Are you Able To Pay for guaranteed exceptional value?
  • Are you Willing To Pay a retainer in advance and the balance upon completion?

Forget about Perfect 10s; these are the Lucky 13!

As accountants, we will eventually need, and want, to answer this question:

  • Are we Relationship Builders, or Paper Shufflers?

Paper, as a commodity, is cheaper by the case.

Relationships are priceless.

For those who want to debate whether the glass is half-full, or half-empty, trading in commodities might be an excellent career choice. For those of us who wonder why so much attention is given to half of anything, “Creating and Capturing Value” is quite a noble profession.

Wholeness comes from tapping into the Universal Principle of abundance. Our real potential is unlimited. Yet, this isn’t about us.

Communication is what the listener does. Are we listening to our clients? Do we really hear and understand what our customers want?

Oh, sure, they will grudgingly accept bills for the compliance work they need to have done. When they understand how much we care about them, demonstrated by how we actively listen to their dreams, they are open to new ideas. As they consider all of the many menu choices available to them (with a clear pricing structure designed to express the value of each one) and ultimately commit to partnering with us, the want is palpable.

Yes, that new CFO in charge of the family ranching heritage understood the Value in the Price (when I covered up the detail of the bill) and wanted me to understand that he wanted more of that simplicity. Why did it take me so long to get the horse in front of the carriage? Answer: Good judgment comes from experience; Experience comes from bad judgment.

Disciples of Value Pricing never hear “The check’s in the mail.” In fact, because the checks are in the drawer, we manage risk, schedule our days, attract quality clients, stumble into opportunities, enjoy open communication, reap financial rewards, and tie Ribbons & Bows around each and every project on our way to building relationships.

I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.

In our world of technological advances, “www” has become the gateway to infinite possibilities. If we will decide “What We Want” and, then, offer that with passion to others, the result is guaranteed to be a “Win Win Win”: for Customers; for Us; and, for the Whole Wide World!

www.kimfoard.com