On the Gold Standard

During my state senatorial campaign last year I had the privilege of meeting some really great people from all around the political spectrum.

imageOne of the most interesting is Wayne Richard who ran for the Texas House from Plano. While he did not get his party’s nomination he has parlayed his run into a successful radio show, Stand with Wayne, which is broadcast Saturday mornings at 10am on KVCE 1160 AM here in Dallas.

Earlier this week Wayne posted what he called an editorial on Fiat Currency. Wayne calls himself a conservative not a Libertarian, so it is interesting in that this is one issue where I part ways with most Libertarians and, in this case Wayne.

While I am all in favor of auditing the Fed, I do not think we need to a) end the Fed and b) go back to a gold standard. What we need is to reduce regulations that would allow more competition for the Fed, i.e., private money. Some of this can be based on gold, but not necessarily.

The problem is that the gold standard (or any other metal based currency) is based on some false premises.

First, that the metal itself has intrinsic value. It does not. Many astronomists believe that most gold on the planet resulted from impacts of meteors, either as a delivery system or a result of the violent impact. Ask yourself this, if a giant all-gold meteor where to impact the Earth, would we suddenly become wealthier? No, those of us that might survive would not care about gold anymore. Gold has value because we mutually agree it has value, in other words for the same reason fiat money has value. Milton Friedman spoke eloquently about this in his series Free to Choose.

 

Second, metal monetary standards promote the idea of wealth being a zero-sum game because there is only so much gold we have discovered. This is wrong, but it is also dangerous. Wealth is a human construct. Wealth and money, for that matter, are spiritual goods. Note, not religious, but spiritual, they are based on a belief system. For more on this idea, I highly recommend Rabbi Daniel Lapin’s book – Thou Shall Prosper.

In all, I agree with Wayne’s distrust and diagnosis of the poorly run government run monetary policy, but I disagree with his implied prescription of returning the United States to the gold standard.

On Sensational Saturday for SAN Members

On Saturday, July 9, 2011 the Sage Accountants Network (SAN) is presenting Sensational Saturday at Sage Summit 2011 at the Gaylord National Hotel just outside Washington, DC.

The main draw is entitled, Tomorrow Is Today: The Accounting Firm of 2011 to be delivered by Darren Root of RootWorks and Ron Baker of the VeraSage Institute. (Oh yeah, a guy by the name of Ed Kless is going to be there to moderate the fireworks.)

imageDarren is the co-author (with Michael Gerber) of The E-Myth Accountant. Ron’s just released book is Implementing Value Pricing. While the two agree on many topics, including the need for professionals to set fixed prices for engagements, there are other areas where they are not in alignment. This, to me, is where the fun will begin.

imageThe presentation runs from 9am to 5pm and is dedicated to the possibility that accounting firms as we traditionally think of them are dying quickly. In order to ensure their survival, firms need to radically transform themselves. Creating such an organization is hard work and not for everyone and many firms will not be able to make the transition at all because this transition requires us to think differently than we have in the past about what it is that we do. You are invited to open a dialogue on a different model for creating success in a professional firm.

Click here for more information about the Sage Accountants Network.

Open Email to My Friends on the Left

(…especially Warren Buffet and Stephen King)

Hi all,

I just came across this wonderful opportunity for you. If you believe in bigger government, you can now directly help and the best part is you do not have to wait for the next election.

 

If your household makes over $88,030, you are in the top 20 percent of all households in the United States. In other words, you are certainly considered rich by the other 80 percent of your fellow citizens. And, without a doubt, you are among the super rich by world standards.

pay.gov logoSince you believe government needs to take care of those less fortunate, you have a moral obligation to go to https://www.pay.gov/paygov/forms/formInstance.html?agencyFormId=23779454 to make your voluntary contribution to reduce the public debt.

If you are not technically savvy, they will also accept a check payable to the Bureau of the Public Debt, and in the memo section, notate that it’s a Gift to reduce the Debt Held by the Public. Mail your check to:

Attn Dept G
Bureau of the Public Debt
P. O. Box 2188
Parkersburg, WV 26106-2188

My suggestion would be to send anything you make over $88,030, because you must believe that a government bureaucrat can spend your money more wisely than you, otherwise why would you think I need to pay more.

Any questions?

Super Sunday Sales Session at Summit

(A lot of alliteration, huh.)

My friend and colleague, Rob Johnson, will be speaking on what we at Sage have deemed Super Sunday. His topic is 5 Steps to Radical Business Growth. Here is the abstract:

Creating an environment of sustained superior growth within a business isn’t easy. In fact, it is hard. The result of that hard reality is that most businesses fail to achieve the business growth and success they desire. If you’re not reaching your full potential; either as a salesperson or a business owner—and you want to achieve greater success—plan on attending this dynamic session. To change the arc of your business’s potential, and achieve the results you desire, you need to follow a few simple plan—a 5 step plan. Attendees will receive an autographed copy of Rob’s book, a serious success plan, and the skills and tools needed to a make 2011 the most successful year ever.

 

imageRob is a 14 year veteran of Sage. Currently, he serves as head of our channel programs and readiness. Many of you know him from the Sage Sales Academy, an award winning training program that has helped thousands of salespeople change the trajectory of their careers.

Last year, Rob authored and released the book Kick Your Own Ass; The Will, Skill & Drill of Selling More Than You Ever Thought Possible.

If you have any thoughts or questions for Rob about his session, feel free to email him at rob.johnson@sage.com.

On Atlas Shrugged – Part 1

It didn’t suck.

No, really, that is actually a compliment. Perhaps the biggest fear of fans of the book (of which, I am one) was that it was going to be a horror show and not in a Stephen King sort of way. It was not.

I just returned from the 8pm opening day showing of Atlas Shrugged-Part 1 at a suburban Dallas theatre and can report that the theatre was at least three-quarters full. One of my fellow Libertarians quipped, “If the all would have voted for us, we might have won.”

The acting was quite strong among all major characters, especially Taylor Schilling as Dagny Taggart and Grant Bowler as Hank Readon. Although some of the minor roles could have better portrayed, most were very well cast. I really liked Rebecca Wisocky as Lillian Readon and Michael O’Keefe as Hugh Akston.=, but perhaps this is because they are both are Law & Order “repeat offenders.”

The pace is much faster than the book and would have to be to condense 338 pages into 1:46. Major sections of the book were sliced including all of the childhood sequences of Dagny and Francisco.

One cut I did not like was of any reference to composer Richard Halley, but perhaps this is for the best because, quite frankly, I found the musical score to be the weakest part of the production.

The best addition to the story was the device used to introduce the idea of train travel in a modern setting. (The year of the movie is 2016.) In the interest of not spoiling, I will not go into the details.

All in all for the budget, Atlas Shrugged-Part 1 did not disappoint. I am sure it will be panned by some who are both critics of Rand and fans who were wanting more. I believe however, the production is quite solid and it did leave me wanting for Atlas Shrugged-Part 2.

Two Tools for Fighting the ABH

This week, two tools for fighting the ABH (almighty billable hour) appeared.

This first is this great video created for Aries Technology Group by Greg Kyte. For those of you who do not know, Greg is a part-time stand up comedian and the G. Robert Newhart Non-Value-Added Fellow at the VeraSage Institute.

I spoke with John Shaver this week and he said the video has already helped him close a deal. Kudos!

imageThe second tool is called Lawyer Clock (although it works equally well for accountants and IT vonsultants).

You simply enter the hourly rate, the number of billers at the meeting and the percent of time spent on topic and the  site will calculate cash burned, time lost and cash spent off-topic.

Enjoy!

Sage Summit Customer Awards 2011

Attention Sage Partners: If you have not done so already, please carve out a few minutes this week to nominate one or more of your customers for the Sage Customer Awards Program.

This program gives partners the opportunity to recognize their customers for their outstanding achievements through the use of Sage solutions. Nominations are being accepted in the following categories:

  • Best Use of Multiple Sage Solutions
  • Community Stewardship
  • Extraordinary Customer Experience
  • Healthcare Best Practices
  • Innovation
  • Lifetime Achievement

You can nominate your customers by visiting –> http://www.sagenorthamerica.com/Customer-Resources/Customer-Awards-Program. Nominations end May 3, 2011.

Winning customers and partners will be recognized during the 2011 Sage Summit conference on July 10, 2011 in Washington D.C.

On the Loss of Manufacturing Jobs

Earlier this week, reason.tv released and excellent piece on what I will call the Made in China Myth. You can view the video in its entirety below, but the gist of it is “Who cares if the snow globes of US landmarks are manufactured in China?” Apparently, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)does.

 

He should not, and nor should you and here is why – a loss of manufacturing jobs is not the same as reduced manufacturing output as this graph clearly indicates.

We are not losing our manufacturing ability we are just manufacturing higher value products with fewer people.

In the late 1700’s 98 percent of Americans were involved in agriculture, now it is less than 2 percent, yet our yields are higher. We don’t lament the loss of agricultural jobs. Maybe some do, but I sure don’t.

Frankly, I am glad to not have to farm or work a production line. Both of these are noble pursuits, but I would rather read, write and think for a living in my air-conditioned house.

Thoughts?

On Advanced Consulting

In January, I posted about session I am doing on the Sunday before Sage’s annual conference, Summit starts. In the post I called for your ideas and some of you were kind enough to reply.

As we get closer I want to begin to refine the idea so here is a short video on where I am at right now.

 

What do you think about the proposed topics? Are there any others? What songs should we sing? Yes, we, I would love for you to participate.

FYI – Here is the information if you want to sign up.

Session code: P-CHN15 | Ed Kless’ Session on Advanced Consulting (or Beethoven’s Night Out) – Singer Billy Joel recently posted a Q&A session he did in 1996 in which he spontaneously invented a back story to Beethoven’s Third Symphony. It reminded me, how very memorable improvisation could be. Then I got to thinking about this Super Sunday session for Sage Summit. I could write an abstract which would fulfill the requirement but be so obtuse as to mean absolutely nothing. However, I won’t insult you that way. Instead, I’ll tell you the truth—I have absolutely no idea as to what I might talk about during this session in July. It would be presumptuous to even try. I do promise it will be thought provoking and contain material that you have not seen me present before. If you are interested in suggesting topics for the conversation, please email me at ed.kless@sage.com.

The ABH is not an ECE

image“Would you want to buy from you?” I asked this somewhat rhetorical question at a recent Sage ECE (Extraordinary Customer Experience) Workshop I delivered to Sage business partners.

I continued, “Would you want Sage to bill you by the hour for support regardless of the outcome of the call?” The reaction was clear. “HELL NO!” one participant shouted.

Yet, the majority of Sage partners (and all professionals for that matter) that I encounter still bill their customers by the hour. Some have even twisted the idea into thinking it is the right thing for a customer. “You will only pay for what you need,” they claim.

imageI am here to tell you using the ABH (almighty billable hour) is not an ECE (extraordinary customer experience). Sage partner, Sonia Gray, once told me that after she switch to fixed price agreements, one customer told her, “I am so glad you price this way now. I always thought the billable hour was a license to steal.” Wow!

Here is a list of just the customer experience reasons to abandon the ABH, based on Chapter 7 of Ron Baker’s treatise Professional’s Guide to Value Pricing.

  1. It creates a conflict of interest between the consultant and the customer (the very person you are trying to help). It is the customer’s best interest to reduce the number of hours; it is the consultant’s best interest to increase the number of hours. Hmmm.
  2. It focuses on the efforts, not the results. Your hours are the inputs, not the output. The output is the solution to the customer’s problem. Focusing on hours would be like counting the number of swings a batter takes in baseball and ignoring the hits or lack thereof.
  3. It puts the risk of the engagement back onto the customer. This is lunacy because the customer is paying you to reduce the risk, billing by the hour transfers this risk back to the customer, no wonder they don’t want to pay your bill. When you reduce your risk, you also reduce you potential reward, meaning your potential profitability. Being in business is a risk, embrace it.
  4. It creates a corporate welfare system. Often times it is the C and D customers who complain most and are granted relief of, at least part of their payment. In order to make up for this in the aggregate your company must do something in order to remain profitable. The something is, ultimately, charging more to the A and B customers who complain least and rarely do not pay. You are, in effect, subsidizing your C and D customers, by taking more from your A and B customers. You are giving to the have nots at the expense of the haves.
  5. It makes you a lazy project manager. Because the customer is “paying for what they need,” scoping and change requests become a non issue. Why bother? They are not paying for a scope of work, they are paying for your hours. This allows you to a) not scope the work properly in the first place and b) assume every change requested by the customer to be in the “new” scope. Partners then complain about scope creep. This is nonsense because, in my opinion, you never really had scope in the first place.
  6. Lastly, it does not set your price upfront. An hourly rate is not a price unless you are only selling one hour. A range-of-hours proposal (always couched with “this is an estimate”) is a guess. Worse still the customer will only look at the low number, whereas, you will only look the high (plus 10 percent). Customers, like you when you buy stuff, want a price. It is a rational request, honor it.

Have I missed any? I am sure I have.