Episode 103 – Dave Finklang

October 11, 2017


Dave flies his way to better client connections

 

Dave Finklang achieved what most little boys only dream of – becoming a pilot. He flew for Chautauqua Airlines for several years before retiring to pursue his accounting career. Dave decided to pair his Aviation degree with a minor in Accounting because he grew up around a small business that his father and uncle owned, so he saw first-hand how accounting was used in making business decisions.

In this episode, Dave and I talk about the direct correlation between being a pilot and a tax accountant, including how to manage people with different personalities, quick thinking skills, and the methodical nature of planning. Thinking ahead of his clients is not much different than thinking ahead of an airplane midflight. And it’s allowed him to have a huge advantage when talking to clients. He said, “When you use your hobby as an ice breaker, it let’s people remember you and differentiates you in the marketplace.”

Dave Finklang is a Senior Manager in Tax Services at Anders CPAs + Advisors in St. Louis, MO.

He received his B.S. in Aviation and Accounting from the University of Central Missouri. He later went to Webster University for his MBA, Accounting.


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Other pictures of Dave

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Pre-flight shot with his wife Lauren.

Cheering on the Blues!

A day on the lake.

Getting the gear ready to go scuba diving.


Dave’s links

 

Transcript

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    Welcome to Episode 103 of the Green Apple Podcast where each Wednesday, I interview a professional known for a hobby or a passion, making them stand out like a green apple in a red apple world. A lot of people ask me “John, why the apples?” It’s because when I tell you to imagine an apple in your head, I’m sure for most of you, it’s red, right? Because in school, remember that picture, “A is for apple”? Always the red apple, because that’s the stereotype.

    The interesting thing is that not only are there over 7,500 kinds of apples, but all apples actually start out green, and then over time, they turn red, turning into the stereotype. Just like these apples, all of us have something deep down inside – a passion for something other than our jobs. Sure, we’re really good at our jobs, but we’re really passionate about some other things. That’s what I love to shine a light on each week here on the Green Apple Podcast, and as I speak to firms and companies and conferences all across the country, it’s so great to spread this message.

    Thanks so much to everyone for subscribing and leaving ratings and comments on iTunes and other Android apps. I’ve never thought of actually doing this before, but I guess it’s how the algorithm works to suggest the show to new listeners, so thanks for taking just 20 seconds to give it a five-star rating, maybe a comment. It’d be really, really awesome, so thank you so much.

    Okay, now it’s time to introduce you to this week’s guest, Dave Finklang. He’s a senior manager with Anders. It’s a really, really cool firm in Saint Louis. I’m just going to jump right into it, Dave. Thank you so much for being with me today on the Green Apple Podcast.

    Dave: It is my pleasure. Been looking forward to it for many weeks now. Can’t wait to chat some more.

    John: Oh, I’m so excited myself, man. Being a Saint Louis guy, you know, the Cardinals – let’s hope they can at least hang in there.

    Dave: Did you happen to catch the game last night?

    John: I did not. Was that the one with the cat?

    Dave: Our new theme in Saint Louis as of last night is “rally cat”.

    John: Right. Well, there was the squirrel a couple years ago in the World Series.

    Dave: Yeah. With the squirrel back in I think it was ’11, now, we’ve got the cat.

    John: Nice.

    Dave: I haven’t been to a game probably in two or three months, and I happened to be at the game last night, and it was the cat game.

    John: That’s hilarious. That’s so funny. That’s so funny. Yeah. I gave everyone an introduction, but maybe in your own words, it’s be best. Where you’re at now and a little bit of how you got there.

    Dave: Absolutely. I get the somewhat unique opportunity to introduce myself as Dave the retired airline pilot turned CPA with the mission of helping entrepreneurs in startup companies focus on their businesses and growing their businesses, planting a foundation, and really scaling and growing their companies into – a lot of these companies want to be the next Google. That’s the cool, fun thing to say, but that’s a lofty goal for a lot of companies.

    Our goal is to help these entrepreneurs really build the company that they want to meet the goals of themselves and their families, whatever those might be.

    John: Yeah. That’s fantastic, because when you’re dealing with those small businesses, you’re a lot more hands-on. I think that you can make a bigger difference and see it firsthand.

    Dave: Absolutely. A lot of folks ask me why I focus on entrepreneur, why I focus a lot of my efforts on startup companies, both my technical day-to-day I work just an absolute ton of startup companies as their CPA and as their adviser, but then I also do a lot of volunteering within the startup community. A lot of my time either day-to-day for my professional or my volunteer hours go to these startups, and a lot of people ask me why.

    I think one of the biggest reasons is I grew up in a small business family. My dad and my uncle own a small company. Like it or not, as a kid in a small business family, you’re working in it. From about the time you can walk, you’re doing something.

    John: There’s no labor laws for that, right?

    Dave: Your picture’s out on the poster. No.

    John: Right. That’s awesome, man. That’s very cool. What made you want to get into accounting? I mean, retired airline pilot. That just doesn’t happen on accident, either.

    Dave: No. Growing up in the family I did, in the small business I did, I worked in every single possible job function. Everything from guy that cleans the toilet and sweeps the floors to the accountant, the marketer, the advertiser, the mail runner. You name it, I did it.

    For one reason or the next, one of the functions that really resonated with me was the financial function, the accounting function, because I really saw how what we did in that function drove the business and allowed the owners – be it my dad and my uncle – to really make decisions and grow the business. Accounting had always sort of resonated with me, and when I was in college, I went to college for aviation. It was recommended to me by several industry insiders, several pilots, several in the management function, that it’d be good to have some level of backup plan, if you will, just in case the industry ever hit hard times, which it has since I got into it or was in it.

    I kind of stumbled into the business program, into accounting, and when I thought about it, when I was doing a little bit of accounting events for my father’s business, really fell in love with it in college, and I have no idea how or why, but it spoke to me, and I spoke to it and just kind of continued on parallel paths both in the aviation program and in the accounting program.

    John: That’s awesome, man. That’s awesome. Then you graduate, and then you go work for a commercial airline?

    Dave: Yeah. Absolutely. When I graduated, I had the accounting background, the aviation background. I had actually been teaching for about three and a half years as a flight instructor for a university. I had a lot of experience built up in the aviation side and came to the decision that I could probably at any point in my life get into the accounting profession or business world by going back to school or going to a graduate program, but so much of aviation is based on your recency of flight experience.

    Here I was coming out school. I had thousands of flight hours, had all this great experience. There was no better time than ever than when I was 22 years old to go fly for an airline, because if I went into the business world first and ten years down the road tried to get in the airlines, it would probably never work out or be much more difficult.

    John: That’s such a cool story, man. What’s it like, flying? Everyone asks, I’m sure. How much is it autopilot, and how much is it actually your flying the plane?

    Dave: That’s a great question. I think a lot of people, especially my friends and family, jokingly always say that. “Man, you job must have been so easy, because you had the autopilot. The autopilot did everything.”

    The autopilot is generally engaged when you’re in level of cruise flight on the way to your destination. When you’re in St. Louis to LA, once you get up in the air, you’re pointed in the right direction, then you turn the autopilot on, or it kind of handles the grunt work of keeping the airplane straight and level.

    But in terms of everything pre-flight, all the planning, getting the aircraft ready, and then the most difficult two parts of the flight, the takeoff and departure, and then the arrival and landing, are all done manually – or for the most part, manually. The most labor-intensive parts you’re doing old school stick and rudder, and then the in between is when you’re letting the autopilot do the grunt work.

    While the autopilot’s doing its job, the crew members are handling everything else. As aircrafts get more and more complex, there’s more and more systems at play that you have to monitor. You’re always monitoring your systems, troubleshooting issues as they come up. Even though you have autopilot on, you still have to navigate from where you’re leaving to where you’re going. You’re still handling all the navigation, making sure if you’ve got GPS, the GPS is doing the right thing.

    There’s still a lot to managing the flight that the autopilot just can’t do. The autopilot’s taking a small thing off your plate to allow you to focus on all the other things.

    John: You never think about it that way, because I’m not a pilot. So it’s like, oh, well, clearly. That’s fascinating, man. If only there was autopilot for accounting, right? That would be great.

    Dave: To some degree, there is. The comparison I make for the folks at least in the tax world that I’m in is think about your different tax software, or in the case of the auditors, your audit software, your financial statement software, you’ve got software that you can hit the button and it’ll do all the calculations for you and make it all look pretty, but you still have to know how to program the software and to input the software. You have to know what you’re looking for.

    You have the software that is there as a tool to help you, but if you don’t know what you’re doing with that tool, it’s completely worthless. Same thing with your aircraft autopilot. Yeah, it’s there as a tool to help you, but if you don’t know what you’re doing, you don’t know how to program it, you don’t know what its outfits are, you’re worse off for having autopilot than if you hadn’t.

    Same thing in the tax world. If you don’t know what you’re doing with it, you’re better off preparing tax returns by hand than trying to use the software.

    John: Yeah. You’re more dangerous, actually. That’s an excellent parallel that you bring up.

    What were some of the cooler, most rewarding experiences from when you were a pilot? There had to be some pretty neat airports that you fly into or landing strips or things like that or smaller planes maybe that you were flying in training.

    Dave: Oh, absolutely. That’s what I get asked all the time is “What’s the coolest aircraft you’ve ever flown? What’s the coolest airport you’ve ever been to?”

    Albeit the airline jets that I flew are some of the most state-of-the-art, some of the coolest aircraft out there, they’re actually kind of boring when it comes to a true pilot’s passion to go out there and yank and bank and poke holes in the sky. The airline jets are great. They’re kind of big buses. You get them taking off. You point them in a direction. You just go. There’s not a whole lot of glitz and glamour in the sky paths there.

    My favorite aircrafts to fly have been the ones that aren’t airline jets. In fact, they’re smaller private planes where you can fly low and slow and yank and bank and do some fun maneuvering. Always the smaller airplanes that have been the funnest to fly. It’s honestly the smaller airports that I’ve been to that have been the coolest to go into.

    John: Is there one particular that stands out?

    Dave: Yup. I’d say – not to get terribly political on a hopefully not political podcast, but – prior to the old Mayor Daley of Chicago tearing this airport apart in the middle of the night, there was a great airport in downtown Chicago called Meigs Field. Right off Chicago is this big lake called Lake Michigan. Plopped right on the shores of Lake Michigan off downtown Chicago was this – it was about a 4,000- or 5,000-foot runway called Meigs Field.

    When you flew to that airport in Chicago, you’d be flying right around downtown Chicago, right over Lake Michigan. In terms of domestic airports, it was probably the coolest airport I’ve ever flown into. I got the opportunity either four or five times when I was in college before they ripped it up, but it was by far one of the coolest airports, especially in a small airplane.

    Then down in Florida, Pensacola, Florida has a pretty neat airport. The airport itself is pretty plain Jane, nothing exciting about it, but as soon as you take off, you take off right over the gulf. It’s pretty awesome when you’re flying low over the beach, you can wave and see all the people down there having their snacks, playing in the water, surfing, and whatnot.

    John: That’s awesome, man. That’s so cool. I imagine it just gives you a different perspective of the world.

    Dave: Oh, it absolutely does. One of the coolest things is when the weather is just kind of gloomy out and kind of terrible out, and you walk outside your house, and it’s cloudy. It’s rainy. It’s cold. Kind of one of those gloomy days.

    When you’re in an airplane, as soon as you take off and pop through those clouds, all the gloom and the rain and the cold and the dingy is gone. You pop over the clouds, and the sun is bright and shining. It’s clear and it’s blue. Once you get above the clouds, it’s a whole new ballgame. That’s probably one of the neatest experiences in flying is getting to leave all the yuck behind and climb out above it and just be out in the open blue with the sun going or at night with the moon and the stars.

    Those are some really fun nights when there’s a full moon out and you pop above the clouds, and it’s just you and a full moon. You can see as far as the eye can see. You can see hundreds of miles out there. It’s pretty unbelievable.

    John: That’ fantastic. My 16th birthday, I actually did a Cessna – like a trial flight thing, because I always thought that I wanted to be a pilot. It was pretty cool. The doors are like, an inch thick, maybe.

    Dave: Oh, barely.

    John: It was such a great experience, and really fun. I just kind of went up and flew around a little bit – obviously, with the instructor and all that. It was really neat.

    Dave: I tell anybody that hasn’t been in a small airplane that has the opportunity to, or if not the opportunity to find the opportunity to go fly in a small Cessna or a small Piper, it is just the coolest experience. It’s kind of a tiny cockpit, but it’s just you and the pilot, or if you are the pilot, just you and a passenger, shoulder to shoulder, flying a couple thousand feet above the ground. It’s a pretty unbelievable experience.

    John: It’s crazy. It’s like you’re actually outside. It’s like you’re sitting on the wing, almost, you know? It’s pretty awesome. It’s not in the big fuselage where you’re insulated and all that. You feel everything. The ups and downs and the wind and all that.

    Dave: What people used to love is if we were flying a Cessna and we’re flying through the clouds on a rainy day, you can pop the window open in a Cessna, and you can reach your arm out, and you can actually feel the clouds. You can run your arm through the clouds. You never get to do that in your Boeing 737.

    John: They get angry at that. That’s for sure. Do you feel like the skills from learning how to be a pilot translate to being an accountant?

    Dave: Yeah. Absolutely, it does. I get that question a lot. Most people are kind of snarky with the question. How could being an airline pilot or how could being a pilot in general translate at all to what you do? They can’t see the correlation.

    Well, in my eyes, there’s a huge correlation. Obviously, the technical aspect of flying an airplane and the accounting profession is totally different. Me knowing how to fly an airplane from Saint Louis to LA has nothing to do with doing a tax return, right?

    John: One would think. Right.

    Dave: But it’s all this other professional and managerial and people skills you learn in the airlines and you learn flying that directly translate to our industry. It’s all of the quick thinking and the planning and the very methodical nature of flying that translates very well to our industry.

    One of the best examples in the flying world or in the airlines, you’re taught as a pilot to think ahead of the airplane. In other words, don’t just be looking an inch ahead of the airplane. You need to be thinking a hundred miles ahead of the airplane. What kind of weather is out there? How far away is my airport? What kind of arrival procedures do I need? Is there anything I need to be aware of?

    You’re thinking not just minutes, but 30 minutes, an hour, two hours ahead to always know what’s coming, to always anticipate what’s going to happen on that flight. If you translate that to the public accounting profession, for example, some of the best public accountants I know, some of the best consultants I know, are somehow able to think ahead of their clients.

    Translate that “thinking ahead of the airplane” to “thinking ahead of your clients”. Knowing your clients’ needs before they call you or even knowing your clients’ needs before they know they need them. Being able to think months and years ahead for your client, for their business, to help them better plan, to help them better execute things. Just that one skill of many of thinking ahead translates directly into what we do in our world.

    John: Yeah. That’s so fantastic. So many examples there. The people that ask you in a condescending way think that, oh, being a pilot’s just kind of a throwaway, whatever. It’s a same muscle group that you’ve been exercising for years. It’s just you put on a different uniform now and same muscle group that you’re able to exercise and use. That’s fantastic, man.

    Dave: Absolutely. There’s not better customer service and conflict resolution training in the world than flying an airplane for an airline, because we all know that flying these days is nothing like it was 30-40 years ago. It’s a whole bunch of people crammed into a flying tin can and tempers run short. It’s just a very tense environment to be in.

    If you can handle difficult passengers and conflict in a tin can flying through the sky, any type of client issue that could start on your way on the ground is nothing. If you can manage something in a very high-stress environment, there’s not many client issues that I’ve been tossed that have really gotten me that frazzled.

    John: I can believe it. That sounds like a lot of technical skills that you’re able to bring to the job, but it’s also like you were saying – customer service, conflict resolution. I imagine client relationships, coworker relationships as well.

    Dave: Absolutely. I think our industry – the public accounting industry or just accounts in general get a really bad rep for being introverted. All they want to do is sit at their desks all day, and they don’t want to interact with people, they don’t want to talk to people, they don’t want to be seen by people.

    Number one, I think that’s incredibly false. It’s a horrible stereotype, and I think it’s incredibly wrong. But in terms of just the skills needed to interact with clients, to interact with people and think on your feet, there’s no better training ground for that than in the airlines. It’s so customer service-oriented. In any given day, if I had five, six, seven flights, I might interact with 500-600 people easily in a day. To learn how to deal with that many personalities and interact with that many different personalities when times are tough, when the weather’s delaying things, to know how to think on your feet to handle that, to have the extroverted personality at times you need to handle those – that translates directly to our industry.

    That’s what I love the most about public accounting in particular is just the interaction with clients, interaction with the community, interaction with nonprofits. The more I can translate those skills gained in the airlines being public facing for the firm, for my practice, for the groups I’m involved with – that’s when I’m the happiest at my job.

    John: That’s so great. Plus, it’s kind of cool that it’s like “Hey, I was a pilot.” That’s a cool thing that a lot of people have I’m sure a billion questions to ask. You get a lot of the same ones that I’ve been asking you as well, I’m sure.

    It’s a cool thing. It’s a cool icebreaker. Once people find that out about you, they’re not going to easily forget that.

    Dave: Right. Obviously, I have the flying airplanes thing which people tell me is unique. I don’t think it’s that crazy, but people tell me it is. But so many of my colleagues here at Anders and so many of my colleagues across the profession have just cool, unique, neat things that they have about them. Maybe it’s a personality trait. Maybe it’s a hobby. Maybe it’s a past professional life.

    They have these neat things. So many people want to keep them bottled up. They don’t want to tell people about them. They’re scared to. I’m the exact opposite. I don’t run around town telling people I was a pilot. I don’t want to be bragging about that, so to speak. I’m not sure what the right word is.

    But I don’t want to just lead with that. But if somebody asked in a conversation “Hey, what’s your background?” What’s a natural way for me to talk about that interest and that past life? You want to talk about one of the best icebreakers there ever was? The best conversations starters there ever was? Talking about flying airplanes. People, like you said, they have tons of questions about it. They want to know the ins and outs of the airlines. They want to know how airplanes fly. They want to know how we get from Chicago to New York. They want to know all these things. It’s just this great conversation starter.

    I think a lot of people have those. It doesn’t have to be flying airplanes, but when you use your hobby as an icebreaker, it lets people remember you and differentiate you in a marketplace. So many people remember me not because I’m great at my job, but because of the flying thing. That’s going to lead in to new organizations, to new clients, to new referral sources. As long as I can back that up with good quality work, which – knock on wood – so far, we’ve been able to, it’s a great thing to have.

    John: Really, once we all have a base level of technical skills, let’s say the CPA exam, then really, another certification or another degree or whatever – I don’t think that that’s really going to fast track you to anything special. Over here, it’s just a little bit of your personality and who you are. That’s just leaps and bounds ahead of everything else. It’s assumed that we’re all good at our job. I mean, you don’t have to prove that.

    Dave: Right. That’s, in fact, how you and I were introduced originally from the Rainmaker folks, but that’s a big tenement of the Rainmaker program is as a CPA – really, any profession, but especially us with those three letters – people assume that if they’re talking to us that we’re technically competent for whatever it is they’re talking with us for.

    What it comes down to then, in making a decision of who they’re going to work with for their company or their individual tax and accounting and planning – they want to do with business with people they like and whom they trust. It’s all of these relationship-driven things that we do. It’s the interesting things about us. It’s the hobbies. It’s the flying an airplane. It’s whatever it is. That’s how we engage with our prospects or our clients.

    That’s how they get to know us. That’s how they honestly get to see us for more than just an accountant. They get to build some life. They get to trust us if we’re a little more open and a little more sharing. That’s how a lot of people make buying decisions. If we’re all assumed to be technically competent, there’s got to be some other differentiator, right?

    John: Right. Yeah. Absolutely. What do you think it is that makes people not want to open up and share?

    Dave: Do you mean people in general or people being public accountants or accountants?

    John: I guess professionals in general, but especially accountants.

    Dave: Okay. That’s the thing that frustrates me the most is the definition of the stereotype, I agree, is 100% upside down, and yet the people that believe that stereotype the most are accountants themselves.

    John: It’s like, how is anyone else going to believe us if we don’t believe ourselves? What are you guys doing?

    Dave: Yeah. I think there’s a couple things that I’ve noticed, especially in public accounting. I don’t have as much experience in industry, because I’ve not been in industry, but one of the biggest things I think is that people let the stereotype precede them.

    They assume that if accountants are supposed to be boring or accountants are supposed to stay in their office, accountants aren’t supposed to talk to people, accountants aren’t supposed to talk about anything but debits and credits, they just assume that that stereotype is true and that that’s what people expect, so they don’t open up.

    They don’t feel like they can have a conversation with a client or referral source or somebody in the community about something else other than their job. They let the stereotype kind of get in their heads, because that’s what’s expected of us. If that’s what’s expected of you, that’s what you do, right?

    John: Yeah. Are there things that you do specifically to show the new kids, if you will, that hey, you don’t have to be that way?

    Dave: Absolutely. The second big thing I think that leads people to act that way which is something that we try to do different as a firm and I try to do different is that I think, especially within public accounting, our archaic billing system of billing by the minute or billing by the quarter hour –

    John: Every six-minute block or whatever.

    Dave: Whatever the firm does, I think staff members think that, my gosh, if I’ve got to bill this client for every minute out of my time, there’s no time to talk about the weekend or talk about vacation or talk about our hobbies or to build a personal relationship. I’ve got to be billing for every minute. Every minute has to be technical.

    Well, if that’s the way a firm’s billing system is built down, it’s kind of forcing the staff’s hand to just talk about business. What I do differently and what I think we do really well as a firm is, yes, one of our biggest productivity measures for our staff and for our employees is the realization percentage, but that is not the only thing that we judge our staff and our employees on. With a lot of firms, that’s the number on measurement is that’s what your raises, your promotions, your bonuses are based on. How charged were you? How many chargeable hours did you have?

    Well, if that’s all you measure people on, that’s all they’re going to worry about. We have a number of other metrics, a number of other systems in place that encourage being more than just a boring account. It encourages you to take your clients out for lunch, encourages you to be involved in nonprofit organizations, encourages you to speak, to write, and trains you to do all those things. Because we encourage you and we train you to do those things, we have systems in place in order to capture all the non-technical things that you do in your day-to-day.

    John: That’s great.

    Dave: We have this pretty cool system in place called My Path. What My Path is there’s – I don’t know if it’s 100, but let’s say almost 100 different activities that our marketing department has put together that are non-technical-related but very crucial to the job.

    Let’s just use taking a client out to lunch for example. If you take a client out to lunch, you don’t bill your time to that client. That’s not really fair or ethical. But you still get to bill your time to the firm as a non-charge code. Then also, once you take that client out to lunch, you go into this My Path system, and you log that lunch in, and you get a certain amount of points in the My Path system for taking that client out to lunch.

    All these different things have a point value associated with them. At the end of every six months, when we do our evaluations in the summer and in the winter, one of the big metrics used in the evaluation season is the My Path program. We look at how many points somebody has in different categories. We don’t measure people against each other. We measure people against themselves.

    If somebody had 100 points last year, if they had 120 points this year, that means they’ve been more involved in the community, that they’ve been more involved in client development. They get rewarded accordingly.

    That’s just one example of a system we have in place to encourage people to not just be boring accountants that charge time all day. We want people to be out there, be active, and not be afraid to build a relationship with their client other than just doing their tax returns.

    John: Right. That’s exactly it. You created points. You created charge codes for things that you want to have rewarded. I think that that’s the old way was there’s only charge codes and then admin, which is kind of the garbage disposal of time codes. It’s really cool that you guys created this to encourage people, because that’s the thing. If you don’t provide that framework, then people aren’t going to fall in line with it and aren’t going to work hard towards that. That’s awesome that Anders is going that. That’s really cool.

    Dave: Not necessarily the My Path program specifically, but that culture is really what attracted me to the firm, and that’s been a huge recruiting tool for us, not just for university hires, because I wasn’t a university hire; I was an experienced hire. It’s worked well for the college recruiting, but it’s worked really, really well for our experienced hires. People that maybe are the more traditional firm that the chargeable hour and the chargeable percentage rules – for those people that that doesn’t work, we’ve had some really good success bringing them over to the firm with this great culture we’ve built.

    John: I love it, man. It’s so cool. Some of your videos that you guys do are hilarious. It doesn’t always have to be work 24/7. What makes you think that it’s okay to not be billable all the time or to take a minute to do a funny video or to have a little bit of a break? As a partner, how do you look at that?

    Dave: Honestly, I think it starts with literally the top down, and it started at the top with one of our founding partners, Mr. Robert Minkler Sr., our founder – one of our founders – and his son, Robert Minkler Jr., our current managing partner. But Mr. Minkler the founder – one of the founders – his goal in life was to make the firm, even as big as we’ve gotten, feel like a family. Family first and people first.

    I think a lot of organizations say clients are their number one priority and employees are their second. I would argue our mantra is the other way around. Employees are our number one priority. Clients are our second. But by treating our employees as number one, our clients get better service than if they were number one priority anyway. You treat your employees better, they have more fun at work – they’re going to treat your clients better. It works out really well from a firm standpoint.

    Our founder, Mr. Minkler, has always been about family, has always been about people being treated well, being able to express themselves, being involved in the various organizations they want to be whether they’re the State Society, the AICPA from a professional standpoint, or whether it’s any number of nonprofit organizations that ring in their heart for some reason. It’s absolutely started at the top and encouraged at the top.

    John: That’s fantastic, man. It’s so great. Even as you’ve grown, you’ve been able to maintain that, because you have a strategic goal for that.

    Dave: Absolutely. I’ve been in a number of meetings with senior partners. When it comes out of one partner’s mouth, you’re like, oh, okay. That’s one person’s opinion. But when you hear numerous partners, numerous different partners, on numerous occasions say that that is a huge priority of our firm and the legacy of our founder who still comes to work every day, which seems crazy to me, but I don’t want to be at work when I’m 80, but he loves it.

    I think that it rings throughout the firm. People see just how much he loves the firm and loves the people. That in and of itself resonates throughout the firm. When you have senior partners saying and quoting our founder and saying that’s how we’re going to be forever no matter how big we are, that’s pretty powerful stuff.

    John: Yeah. I know. That’s so huge. I’m secretly glad that I didn’t start at Anders, because I probably would still be there.

    Dave: You probably would be.

    John: It’s like the Hotel California of accounting firms, man. It’s like, why would you leave this? This is so fantastic. I’m sure a lot of the first years and second years, they don’t know any different. You guys have no idea what else is out there. That’s cool. There’s no reason why other people listening and other firms that are listening can’t replicate that and can’t make it the same. That’s really cool, man. Very cool.

    This has been so fantastic, but I do have my 17 rapid-fire questions that I like to run you through, Dave, before I get on a plane to fly to Saint Louis to then get into another plane and fly with you. That would be kind of how that would work.

    Let me fire this thing up here. Here we go. I’ll start you out easy. Jeans or khakis?

    Dave: Jeans all day long.

    John: All day long. How about are you more of an early bird or a night owl?

    Dave: Both. Wow. Look at you. You’re a machine. How about more Star Wars or Star Trek?

    Dave: Oh, man. I’m going to get booed for this one. Neither.

    John: Neither? Oh, man. Any trilogy? Rocky? Lord of the Rings? Something?

    Dave: Let’s go Rocky all day long.

    John: Rocky. There you go. How about when it comes to computers, more PC or Mac?

    Dave: PC.

    John: PC. When it comes to a mouse, are you right-click or left-click?

    Dave: Left-click, I guess.

    John: Left-click. Making decisions. How about more pens or pencils?

    Dave: Pens.

    John: Pens. Yes. Sudoku or crossword puzzles?

    Dave: Sudoku.

    John: Okay. All right. How about do you have a movie that makes you cry?

    Dave: A movie that makes me cry…Tommy Boy.

    John: Tommy Boy. Okay. How about more oceans or mountains?

    Dave: Mountains.

    John: Mountains. Yeah. How about do you have a favorite tax form?

    Dave: None of them.

    John: None of them. That’s actually the right answer. How about do you have a favorite color?

    Dave: Orange.

    John: Orange. Oh, wow. Interesting. How about a least favorite color?

    Dave: Least favorite color…white. It’s kind of boring.

    John: Yeah. It is. It is pretty boring. How about a favorite place you’ve been on vacation?

    Dave: Turks and Caicos has been pretty awesome.

    John: Oh, yeah. Hard to argue that one. That’s for sure. How about as an accountant, do you have a favorite number?

    Dave: Nine.

    John: Nine. Yeah. Is there a reason?

    Dave: That’s the default number that if you repeat it enough times and put it in some tax software, it tends to let you do things that you might not otherwise be able to.

    John: Okay. How about do you have a favorite TV show of all time?

    Dave: All time’s a big one. Family Guy.

    John: Family Guy? There you go. That’s a good answer. How about do you have a favorite actor or actress?

    Dave: Tim Allen.

    John: Tim Allen. Solid. Last one – favorite thing you own or the favorite thing you have.

    Dave: Favorite thing I own is my drum set.

    John: And you play drums. What? That’s awesome. This has been so fun, Dave, and so rewarding for everyone listening. A lot of takeaways here. Thank you so much for being with me on the Green Apple Podcast.

    Dave: Hey, man. It’s my pleasure. It’s been a blast. I love listening to the podcast and can’t wait to hear who you’ve got on next.

    John: Well, thanks, man.

    John: Wow, that was so great. I loved how Dave said when you use your hobby as an icebreaker, it lets people remember you and differentiates you in the marketplace. That’s how this whole podcast started when I had a partner who remembered me 12 years later as the guy who did comedy at night. That’s crazy. Not only that, but differentiating you in the marketplace is exactly what it’s all about. We’re all good at our jobs. Why not be good at our jobs and have a little bit of a personality? I also loved how Dave said that too many of us allow the stereotype to precede us, so we just act the way that we think others are expecting us to. On behalf of everyone, please stop. Just be yourself.

    If you’d like to see some pictures of Dave and connect with him on social media, please go to greenapplepodcast.com. While you’re on that page, please click that big, green button there and do that anonymous research survey about firm culture. Really going to help the book I’m writing that’ll come out in April.

    Thanks again for the five-star ratings on iTunes or whatever app you use and for sharing this with your friends so they get the message that we’re all trying to spread, which is to go out and be a green apple.

     

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