Pure Lucht
Leadership Lessons Learned by John Lucht

You know that person. The person in your organization who makes you look organized when you aren’t. Who shows you how to do things on your computer (for the 100th time) you should already know. Who knows as much about the new fill-in-the-blank service or product you’re launching as you do. Who understands your customer’s quirks and preferences better than you ever will. Who is the gatekeeper for all those pesky calls. Who schedules their vacation around your vacation or conferences. Who meets you downstairs with that document you need but left in your office. Who does all of this with only an occasional thanks and probably an even rarer compliment. You know them. Your administrative professional.

This week is...

Lessons Learned on Starting and Growing a Successful Career in One Place

Contributed by Sean Taylor, Partner with Smith & Howard

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

If you are a poetry buff, then the first part of the title to this piece should stand out to you.  Robert Frost’s classic poem, The Road Not Taken, talks about coming to a fork in a path in the woods.  Our traveler is unsure about which way to go and wishes to have the ability to go both ways.  After examining the paths, our traveler cannot discern with clarity the difference in...

The dictionary defines a bulldozer as a “large, powerful tractor having a vertical blade at the front end for moving earth, tree, stumps, rocks, etc.” It also defines it as a person who “intimidates or coerces.”

A tiller, on the other hand, is a machine or person that labors, “as by plowing upon the land for the raising of crops and to cultivate.”

I could probably stop this post without further elaboration and readers would understand why one illustrates a true leader and the other doesn’t. But if it were that simple, there wouldn’t have been any readers who said to themselves, “Yeah. I am (or my boss is) a bulldozer.”

I think there are lessons in the two examples...

I recently read an interview from a Womenetics’ email (if you’re not a subscriber, you should be). The interview, titled “DeCan on Authenticity: Just Dance,” was with Maggie DeCan, the President and COO of HoneyBaked Ham Company of Georgia.

DeCan believes that vulnerability and authenticity are important qualities in leaders, and I agree. Her own willingness to be vulnerable and authentic – whether it is in the personal telling of the story of her mother’s death or dancing like a seahorse instead of a dolphin in front of 300 people and owning that dance – are traits that I see in many successful leaders. Vulnerability means you own experiences...

You win some and you lose some. How you deal with wins and losses will determine quite a bit of your success.

Billy Horschel won the FedEx Cup Tour Championship golf tournament in Atlanta this past weekend, pocketing $11.44 million dollars, a big victory for anyone. But just over a week ago, Billy made a blunder during another tournament that, had it gotten under his skin, could have cost him not only that tournament victory, but the opportunity to win the $11 million purse this past weekend.

When asked how he was able to get past the prior weekend blunder, Horschel said, “I don't dwell on things that are bad… I look at the positives. I'm a positive...

Guest post by Julie Barnes, Director of Marketing

When I joined Smith & Howard in late 1993, I was an administrative assistant, we had about 27 people, four partners and a small office in a small building on Peachtree Street. When I woke up this morning almost 21 years later, I was the Director of Marketing and was working for a firm that has almost 100 people, ten partners, has relocated twice in seven years due to growth and now occupies a large floor of office space in a Class A office building with a view of Atlanta that can’t be beat.

But what is really stunning is that we were just...

Guest Post by Debbie Torrance, Partner with Smith & Howard

I started my career in 1986 with no prior experience and a master’s degree in accounting from Clemson University. My first real job was at an international accounting firm where I worked my way up to Tax Manager before leaving five years later. My next stop (which turned out to be my last) was Smith & Howard - a top 25 Atlanta CPA firm in 1991 and still a top 25 Atlanta firm in 2014. As a Tax Partner at Smith and Howard since 1997, I have not only seen my own career change and grow but have also had the privilege and fun of helping others to...

I have mentioned before our “Never stop learning” philosophy. We provide comprehensive training – both hard and soft skills – to our entire staff throughout their careers through Smith & Howard University. Included in this training is a long history of reading books together. Jim Howard, our co-founding partner and former Managing Partner, created a culture of reading here, and it continues today. Most recently, our book club (lead by Jessica Yandell, a member of our Accounting group) read and discussed an intriguing book by Malcolm Gladwell, “Blink.” If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. In short, Gladwell discusses the many ways and instances in which we make significant judgments and decisions in the “blink” of an...

I recently hosted a panel discussion of a group of experienced CPA firm partners. The purpose of that group was to discuss best practices of our firms and of our roles. It was a good , productive discussion that benefited each of us. But what was particularly enlightening for me and others was the fact that, no matter how long we have each been in our profession or our current roles, we still:

  1. Have a lot to learn; no matter where we are in our careers, we can benefit from training
  2. Need to ask for and listen to the advice of our peers
  3. Must seek input from those outside our profession and recognize that
  4. ...

Deadlines (goals with absolutely end dates attached) require laser focus and cohesive teamwork. Accounting firms experience this through regulatory deadlines, April 15 being the most well known. In the  months leading up to April15, we have an "all in" spirit - we know the goal and we know how to reach it. Everyone gets on the same page and even though we wonder every year if it we will get finished "this time,", it does get finished and we do meet the deadline.

But what happens after April 15 is as important, and as the post from LeadershipNow (below) points out, post-deadline may be the most dangerous time of all. Using climbing Mount Everest as an example, the author notes...

Pages