Being a Top Workplace
May 15,2013
For the third consecutive year, Smith & Howard had the honor of being recognized by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as one of the Top 100 Workplaces in the region. Companies on this list are determined by results of a confidential survey of employees – this year, over 49,000 metro area employees completed surveys.Landing on this list for three straight years is a direct reflection on the commitment we have to providing an environment that is both challenging and rewarding for our employees and one that consistently reflects our values and culture. We sincerely care about the well-being of our employees and strive to provide them with an exceptional workplace, never losing sight of the other priorities in our statement of purpose, “We exist to be valuable to our clients, our people and our community.”As a business leader, I find this distinction particularly important for several reasons. First, satisfied employees are almost always loyal employees. This reduces turnover, which of course reduces costs incurred when hiring new talent. But it also makes our clients happy; they enjoy working with the same staff year after year. Happy employees + happy clients = success for everyone.When I discuss employee satisfaction and loyalty with other CEOs,...
Leadership Institute
Apr 13,2013
Since 2006, Smith & Howard has hosted an annual event for accounting students: The Leadership Institute. Each year, students from southeastern colleges and universities apply to be part of this multi-day event. Those who are selected get an inside perspective at a career with a public accounting firm and an opportunity to further develop their personal leadership skills.Aimed at students who have displayed exceptional leadership qualities, our program provides various sessions to help with the transition of student to employee. Some of the topics that my colleagues and I cover include: Networking, Finding a Job in a Down Economy, Transition from Academics to Work Experience, Differentiating Yourself in an Interview, Team Building, Identifying Your Strengths, and What it Takes to Get Ahead.I enjoy interacting with these students and welcoming them to our firm, each year. For some, this is their first time visiting an accounting firm and being exposed to a professional environment. It is refreshing to meet promising individuals in college that are passionate about their future careers.If you know someone who would be a good candidate for this program, please invite them to fill out an application on our website at
Succession Lessons Learned
Mar 27,2013
In this interview, I answer some questions about the challenges encountered and lessons learned when I transitioned into a leadership role that had been held for 40 years by my predecessor. I believe these succession lessons are valuable across all industries.John Lucht
Building Trust
Mar 06,2013
In my recent review of the book Getting Naked, I said the book emphasizes that the foundation of any relationship is trust and that trust can be developed by being vulnerable and operating outside your comfort zone. Smith & Howard employees put this theory to a true test recently – with each other. We all found ourselves vulnerable and operating outside our comfort zones – sometimes way outside our comfort zones. Let me explain.Each year, our group of managers develops a project that benefits the firm and its employees. Last year, their project was a leadership and team building exercise. This group decided to truly test our trust in each other and uncover new leaders in the process. Leaderpalooza was born.We met on a chilly morning at the Georgia Tech Leadership Challenge Course, divided into teams and spent a full day on seriously-challenging exercises. The height (no pun intended) of the challenge was embarking on the ropes course. With two levels – the highest 40 feet up – teams of five to six spent hours walking over and around barriers and across wires from one station to another relying only on the safety harness and each other. The reward at...
Book Review on Getting Naked: A Business Fable
Feb 20,2013
The title alone catches your attention (and by the way, I don’t recommend asking your assistant in an email to “please order 10 copies of Getting Naked”). If you’ve never heard of the book, the title may seem controversial:  Getting naked refers to allowing yourself to be completely honest and transparent with your clients. But it’s the message this book gives in a very quick read that sets it apart from other business books about passionate client service.The book emphasizes that the foundation of any relationship is trust and that trust can be developed by being vulnerable and operating outside your comfort zone. This message is delivered via a story about “Goliath” and “David” consulting firms and points to why the “David” has more effective methods of serving clients – and prospective clients.I enjoy discussing clients’ businesses with them and the practice of advising rather than selling truly demonstrates value to clients. When we offer advice without billing for it – even before someone is a client – we show we care about them. Sometimes, as advisors, we have to step right in the middle of uncomfortable situations and help clients deal with issues others are afraid to address, as...
Welcome to Pure Lucht
Feb 06,2013
A little over two years ago, I assumed the role of Managing Partner of Smith & Howard, an Atlanta accounting and advisory firm. Having been with the firm almost 20 years at the time I became Managing Partner, I not only understood the foundation for the firm’s success, but wanted to make sure that during my tenure, the firm would keep the foundation and build upon it.The transition into my new role was gradual, and I worked closely with our co-founding partner and then-Managing Partner, Jim Howard to make sure our clients, our employees and our leadership team were comfortable with Smith & Howard’s direction.The experience has been enthralling, challenging and at times exhilarating. More importantly, it has taught me valuable lessons that I hope to share with you in my future posts.The purpose of Pure Lucht is to provide readers with the insights into business (far beyond accounting) and being a “second generation” leader. My posts will focus on issues and topics that are in the forefront of the minds of thought leaders and C-level executives of companies, regardless of the industry. I plan to discuss succession planning, tips on leading a company, branding, how to empower employees and...