Smith & Howard Panel Focuses on Leadership Challenges Facing Women in the Workplace
Nov 27,2019
Three high-profile businesswomen took the stage at Smith & Howard’s Vision 2019 at the Cobb Energy Center November 7, 2019 to discuss leadership and obstacles to success in corporate America. Moderated by Julie Barnes, Smith & Howard’s Director of Marketing, the Leading with Power and Influence panel featured Becky Blalock, the Managing Partner of Advisory Capital and former Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer for Southern Company; Dr. Eloisa Klementich, the President and CEO of Invest Atlanta; and Virginia Hepner, Corporate Director with Cadence Bank and former Woodruff Arts Center CEO. Each faced critical decisions and challenges early in their careers. For Hepner, it was accepting a promotion in banking in a division she knew little about and was outside her comfort zone. Dr. Klementich applied for job after job heading up economic development, only to lose out to men who were less credentialed. A CEO told Blalock if...
Five Practical Lessons for Business Leadership from Michael Coles
Nov 25,2019
Michael J. Coles is one of Atlanta’s best-known business success stories. The poor kid from Buffalo, New York, who started working at the age of 11 to help support his family while still in school, went on to co-found the $100 million Great American Cookie Company (eventually renamed Great American Cookies), led a turnaround as CEO of Caribou Coffee and endowed a business school at Kennesaw State University. Even with an impressive list of achievements behind him, including world records in transcontinental bicycle races, Coles is far from done. He recently co-authored a book, Time to Get Tough, about his life and business experiences. At Smith & Howard’s Vision 2019 event, he delivered the closing keynote speech and offered 5 common-sense lessons to help business leaders at every stage of their careers. Lesson 1: The difference between success and failure does not lie in your preparation. It lies in how...
Holy Cow!
Oct 24,2016
As I started to write this, the Chicago Cubs were preparing to play the MLB Championship Series against the Dodgers. And now, they are IN the World Series! Holy Cow! What, you might ask, does this have to do with leadership and why does it belong on a leadership blog? If I answer honestly, I’ll have to say nothing and it probably doesn’t belong here. I could figure out a way to weave the importance of leadership into the Cubs' long, hard road back to success and the leadership of their team (e.g. Epstein, Maddon, etc.) I could talk about what a never-say-quit approach means when it comes to players, management and fans…how being without a World Series appearance since 1945 (or a win since 1908) affects management decisions in ways that are sometimes good, but sometimes desperately bad. And how when there’s finally success after such a long drought,...
Smith & Howard Celebrates 45 Years
Sep 15,2016
Forty-five years ago today is the day it all started – Joe Smith and Jim Howard created what would become a top CPA firm in both the state and nation. As we reflect on our 45-year journey many things come to mind, but growth has been our biggest reward. We grow stronger together and are proud that our growth hasn’t been in just the traditional sense of revenue or employees (though those have grown significantly). The growth we are proudest of is that of our people. While the number of employees has grown from two to over 100, it is the professional and personal growth of the individuals of Smith & Howard that will truly leave a lasting mark.  Our client family continues to grow every day. It has been our pleasure and honor to work with some of the most respected businesses and individuals in Georgia over our 45...
Qualities of Leaders: Having a Positive Attitude and Inspiring Others
Aug 30,2016
This is the third in my series on 10 Qualities of a Leader, taken from a list published by Forbes. In this segment, I’d like to touch on Having a Positive Attitude and Inspiring Others; they are connected and one affects the other. In fact, Wade Boggs, former professional baseball player and Hall of Fame Inductee says, “A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes. It is a catalyst and it sparks extraordinary results.”I have days where I am pelted from all sides with problems, challenges and issues that could create a downcast, frustrated or simply tepid approach to my day and to people I am around.  I’m not unique in this – my guess is when you read that last sentence, you said, ‘Hey, that happens to me, too. It’s not just you, John!” A leader – whether it’s a leader of a business,...
Leading Through Leisure: How a Hobby Can Build a Stronger Career
Aug 10,2016
For the last five years, I've had a new passion. I'm not quite sure of its genesis, but I suspect it was related to a problem I needed to solve that was a bit out of my comfort zone.Storage space in our home was woefully inefficient for all the mystery boxes and belongings my wife and I had accumulated over the years. Somehow I decided I could master a do-it-yourself project which I was pretty much unqualified to undertake. Imagine our surprise when we actually ended up with functional, attractive shelving in our home.OK, I admit to being pretty smug about that success, but thinking back, it was the process of transformation that launched my interest. There's something about the feel and the smell of the wood, the stress of frequent failures and adapting to them, and the pleasure of a finished project that has gotten me hooked on woodworking....
Creativity and Intuition in Leaders: Hard to Define, Important to Possess
Jul 28,2016
Creativity and intuition are probably the two qualities that are the hardest to define but are key to a leader’s success. In my last post, I introduced 10 qualities of a leader, as presented by Forbes magazine. The first two that I explored were confidence and communication. In this post, I will cover creativity and intuition.CreativityAt Smith & Howard, our values state that we emphasize creativity and imagination in all we do. That might seem like an odd value for CPAs to live by, but putting the challenge out there for each of us to strive for every day definitely sets a high bar for each of us. A leader may not always be the most creative person, but they must practice creativity and as importantly must allow and encourage creativity in the company culture.A conversation I recently had with a professional in a creative field made me realize how difficult...
A Closer Look at the Top 10 Qualities of a Great Leader
Jun 30,2016
I recently came across an article on Forbes’ web site that listed and described the top 10 qualities that make a great leader. A link to the full article is at the end of this piece, but I wanted to talk about a few of them here, from my own perspective. The ten qualities from Forbes are:HonestyDelegateCommunicationConfidenceCommitmentPositive AttitudeCreativityIntuitionInspireApproachIn this post, I’d like to touch on confidence and communication, as they can be two of the most difficult for leaders to display under trying circumstances, but may be two of the most important with honesty being #1.Confidence: While it is pretty easy to be confident when things are going as planned, it is equally easy to lose that confidence with plans go awry. As in any situation – business or personal – unexpected turns of events can make even the most stalwart individual find reasons to doubt their original plan. As...
Are You The Leader or The Facilitator?
May 31,2016
Are you the leader or the facilitator? There’s nothing wrong with being either one. But if you think you’re a leader and you’re really a facilitator, you need to reexamine your roles and your goals. A leader is most focused on where a group is going, or as blogger John W. Richardson says, “the definition of leadership is to turn around and see if anyone is following you.” I’ve written before about the role of leaders and how everyone is a leader at some point. This post will discuss more about the role of the facilitator and will give you two simple tips that we use at Smith & Howard to get things done more consistently.A facilitator helps the group reach the goals. Inherent in the role of facilitator is project and time management. The facilitator is all about getting things done. As that same blogger said about facilitators, “If...
Leading When Successful: Four Ways We Do It
Apr 26,2016
Google is such a great way to see the topics that are trending. If you search for “leading through” topics, you’ll find a bevy of “leading through adversity,” “leading through change,” and “leading through tough times” subjects. You won’t find quite as many results when you search for “leading when successful.”From my observations, I believe that leading when you are successful provides unique challenges and potential for big stumbles if it isn’t done well. Why? Often, the lack of leadership focus in good times is the result of complacency (Everything is great, let’s just ease back and relax.) or arrogance (We made it! Nothing can stop us now.) Woe to the leader who takes this approach. Learning from your success is every bit as important as learning from adversity and tough times. This allows you to develop a strategy that capitalizes on the reasons for your success and to move...

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