Dave Cain: Welcome to unsuitable on Rea Radio, the award-winning financial services and business advisory podcast that challenges your old school business practices and their traditional business suit culture. Our guests are industry professionals and experts who will challenge you to think beyond the suit and tie while offering you meaningful, modern solutions to help you enhance your company’s growth.
Dave: I’m your host, Dave Cain. Now that we’re coming up on the end of the year, what do you have to show for all that hard work you put in over the past several months? Did you set any personal goals? What about business goals? What about family goals?
Dave: I don’t know about you, but goals are some of the most deceptive things ever. For most people, the simple act of goal setting turns are relatively simple aspiration into a pipe dream within a matter of months. I mean really, what made me think I could reduce my handicap by five strokes by the end of the summer.
Dave: Anyway, today’s guest is going to tell us what the heck we’re doing, so hopefully we can get better the next time we set a goal and we don’t fall flat on our face.
Dave: Our guest today is Jeremy Senften. Jeremy is the CFO of Rea & Associates, 12 offices in Ohio, over 300 plus employees. When Rea does a strategic plan, Jeremy is front and center and consults with many members of our team regarding strategic plan in goal setting. So, what a great guest to have for the topic, which is called Greatness is a Journey, Not a Destination. So welcome back to unsuitable, Jeremy.
Jeremy Senften: Thanks Mr. Cain.
Dave: What do you think about that introduction?
Jeremy: Blown away by it. It was excellent.
Dave: It was one of my better pieces of work.
Jeremy: Could you follow me around and just say that every once while for me?
Dave: I can. I can.
Jeremy: Thank you.
Dave: So, I do want to ask you a question. Where do CFOs hang out? Where do you guys hang out?
Jeremy: I can tell you where COOs hanging out, but maybe CFOs too. So, we hang out on the golf course. We hang out out on the lake. We like to be entertained, places like that. Maybe in the office every once in a while.
Dave: Yeah. Make a deposit so the checkbook’s looking good.
Jeremy: Well, you got to make payroll.
Dave: So, I’m glad you brought that up because you wear so many different hats for Rea & Associates. Like you mentioned, CFO, COO, strategic planning, very talented employee and colleague, and I want to appreciate you for all the hard work.
Jeremy: You’re making me blush.
Dave: Okay. Well, you know what? That’s good. Always got you where I want you.
Dave: So, today we’re going to talk about goal setting, and I know that is a passion of yours, and you have spoken many times in front of our team about goal setting. So, that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to talk about goal setting.
Jeremy: Let’s roll.
Dave: You up for it? So, let me kind of give you maybe an example, and you can help me set some goals and kind of go through the process-
Dave: That you do in your professional career.
Dave: Well, let’s say that I am looking to start my fiscal year with a mentoring and coaching program for one of my colleagues. That’s my goal. Now, ask me some questions. Help me put this together.
Jeremy: Alright. So I understand, you’re trying to help a colleague by mentoring or coaching them?
Dave: Yes. I’m going to just put together one of the best mentoring coaching programs you’ve ever seen. Bar none.
Jeremy: Alright. So are you passionate about that, Dave?
Dave: I am.
Jeremy: All right. So, that’s the way to start. You need to have a problem to solve. You need to be passionate about something. Need to really be able to get into it. So, if that’s something you’re-
Dave: Check. I’m checking that box.
Jeremy: Al right. Check it off. That’s box one checked. Excellent. Alright.
Jeremy: So Dave, tell me, kind of step two, now that we know you’re passionate about that. Tell me … If you could explain your why. Give me a little background. Why are you passionate about that? Why do you want to do that? What’s going to drive you to be successful here?
Dave: My why would be during the course of my career, I had a very good mentor, and he made me promise at one point, give it back. Here it is. Give it … Make sure you give it back. So, that’s my why.
Jeremy: So Dave, it’s important to keep that why in mind through the process because there’s going to be times where it’s going to be a little difficult. You might run into a roadblock or a barrier, and to have that why, you come back to that, and that helps kind of refresh and renew you because you really have a passion for that, and you have a why. So keep that in mind. Maybe write that on top of your document that you’re starting here. Here’s my why. Here’s why I’m doing it.
Dave: Is that why too shallow or does it need to be a little deeper?
Jeremy: That’s deep. That’s deep.
Dave: That’s a deep one?
Jeremy: Yeah. I liked it.
Dave: Check. Two boxes checked.
Jeremy: Two boxes checked.
Dave: Okay. See, this is the shortest podcast ever. We’ve just finished up goal setting, haven’t we?
Jeremy: Well hey, cheers.
Dave: Yeah, there you go. Okay. So what’s next? I’ve got my passion. I’ve got my why.
Jeremy: All right. So you’ve got the reasons that are going to drive you towards this. Now we got to get into the real work. So, we need to figure out some smaller incremental steps to take towards this goal. So, you’ve got this goal. When are you going to accomplish this goal by?
Dave: I want to accomplish I want everything on paper to be started by December 31st.
Dave: Nah, I’m not working December 31st. How about January 2nd? No. I’m not working the 2nd either.
Jeremy: There’s a bowl game that day probably.
Dave: January 4th.
Jeremy: All right, well let’s … Check your calender. January 4th.
Dave: Doesn’t matter.
Jeremy: So, by January 4th, you want to be able to start this mentoring program?
Jeremy: Okay. So what you need to figure out is what do you do between now and January 4th to get that done? You can’t just get it all done in five minutes. There are certain steps you have to take, smaller steps that are gonna help you accomplish that goal. So, tell me what do you think a couple of things you can do, things that you need to do in the process to be able to kick it off on January 4th.
Dave: Well, that’s a good question. It’s not often I’m stumped, and I’m not stumped on this one-
Jeremy: I’m sure you’re not.
Dave: I don’t know if it’s the right way to go, but I want an outline of must-covers. These are the things I want to share that were shared with me and maybe build on those. So, I need an outline of topics.
Jeremy: Okay. So, one of your steps is to put an outline together. So, the person that you’re mentoring, how much do you know about that person?
Dave: I know a little bit about their background in their work life.
Jeremy: Okay. So, maybe there’s another step in there, an incremental step, that will help you. Do you get the Caliper test or do you get some other kind of personality test on this person to help you understand them better, where they’re coming from, what their triggers are? That could be another one of these interim goals to help you get to where you want to start.
Dave: So, think big in the original goal and then break it down into incremental before I kickoff.
Jeremy: Exactly. Almost every goal there’s going to be four or five parts to it, things that you need to do to build up to be able to achieve that goal along the way.
Dave: Call it homework.
Jeremy: You can call it homework.
Dave: Spring training.
Jeremy: There you go.
Dave: Warm Up.
Jeremy: I like it.
Dave: All of that. Another piece I might do is find some reading, some publications that are good teachings and things like that.
Dave: Would that be appropriate?
Jeremy: That would be appropriate in this case because there is something … This isn’t just a one-day mentoring thing, I assume, right? This is going to be a year long process?
Dave: A year long, yes.
Jeremy: So, you’re going to want to set up milestones also. So, as you think about this, you set up some milestones. You set up, “Hey, we’re going to read this book together in the first two months and then we’re going to talk about it. That’s going to be part of the program.” So you’re setting up the program as you go along. You’re finding those little pieces you got to put together to get to the bigger goal.
Dave: Okay. As we move forward, how do I know whether I’m being successful or do I need to tweak things? How do I know? Will there be measurements? Can you give me some ideas there?
Jeremy: Yeah. So, that’s an excellent point, Dave. So, you need to … In a lot of goal setting, the next step after you come up with all these leading indicators, we might call them, is to set a scoreboard up, to have a way to track progress. So, in your case, if you’re mentoring somebody, I guess I’m going to ask you a question before I answer that. What’s your ultimate goal, to take this person from where to where? What, do you want to accomplish in this?
Dave: My goal with this particular colleague would be to help them advance in their career to their next position level and their next title if you will.
Jeremy: Okay, perfect. So, there should be a roadmap for them to get from where they are now to their next title. Correct? And on that roadmap, there’s gonna be certain things they need to do. Maybe they’re going to need to give presentations. Maybe they’re going to need to be able to handle a client’s work by themselves. Maybe they’re going to need to be able to do an 1120S without any supervision. There’s certain things that they’re going to need to do to get from where they are now to where they want to be. And that’s what you’re helping them do, right?
Dave: Yes. You used a term … I want to … I hate to interrupt you, but it’s … You’re the guest, and we’re allowed, if you read the-
Jeremy: Is that in the fine print?
Dave: That is in fine print.
Jeremy: Okay. Alright.
Dave: That was in your contract.
Dave: You used the term lagging in leading indicators, and I’m a little confused on that when I sit down to do my goals. Can you expand on that?
Jeremy: I sure can.
Dave: I’ve heard that a number of times in the marketplace, but I’m not sure I totally understand how that fits together in our discussion.
Jeremy: Yeah. Well, so I’m going to move backwards on that a little bit. It’s easier to explain a lagging indicator first, and lagging indicator is an after-the-fact measurement. So, this is, if you think of a financial statement, we’ll keep it in the financial realm here, think of financial statement. That’s a lagging indicator. Those are after the fact numbers. Things already happened to create that financial statement, and we’re looking at it. So, that’s something that you don’t have a lot of control over at that point in time because it’s happened already.
Jeremy: Leading indicators are things that happen in advance of the lagging indicator, the things that you can do to influence that lagging indicator. They’re both predictable and influenceable. So in this case, taking the example of the financial statement, throughout the year, if you’re watching your spending, or if you are budgeting, or you’re doing some of these kinds of things, those are leading indicators that can influence that lagging indicator then, and things you can do every week, every month that end up having an impact on your final goal, which is that lagging indicator.
Dave: So, in my example, my lagging indicator or goal is to help the colleague advance to the next level. That’s the lagging. That’s where we want to go. The leading indicators or some of my steps in the goal process would be like, for example, do the caliper testing, do the personality testing, create the outline and read some books, publications, etc. Do I have that right?
Jeremy: You have that right. So, those would be your leading indicators. And then as you get into the mentoring with your mentee, you can set up leading indicators for that person. So, some of the things we mentioned earlier, do they need to be able to do presentations? Do they need to be able to do work on their own? Do they need to be able to do A, B, and C to achieve they’re lagging indicator which is the same as yours, their ultimate goal of getting promoted.
Jeremy: So, you can help them through that process by saying, “Hey, this month we’re going to attack this one, and we’re going to take this one the next month.” Those leading indicators for them.
Dave: You know, I have like a dozen things I want to do in this program. Is that too many?
Jeremy: That too many. Yeah. So-
Dave: Too many?
Jeremy: That is-
Dave: Come on. I want this … This is going to be the best mentoring program ever. It’s got to have some meat and potatoes to it.
Jeremy: It sure does. But if you go with more than probably three things, you’re not going to accomplish any of them very well. So, try to keep it to two or three main goals, and then you’ll be in good shape. You try to bite off more than that, none of them are going to get done.
Dave: So keep it short. Keep it simple.
Dave: Okay. So, because I hear all time, look. It’s kind of the old school. You got to have a lot of goals. You’ve got to have a lot of stuff written down and meet them all. I went four for four or eight for eight in the double header, and I’m batting a thousand, but that’s maybe not the correct way.
Jeremy: No, it’s not. It’s not. The human brain can’t handle that much, Dave, especially yours, but in general, the human brain can’t handle that much so you need to cut it down into smaller bite-size pieces.
Dave: Okay. Mr. CFO. That’s [inaudible 00:12:48] That’s okay. That’s fine. I can relate. You talked about a scoreboard.
Dave: We’re all very competitive. What’s my … Help me with my scorecard or my scoreboard, whatever you’re going to call it in thiS mentoring. That seems kinda … Look. We read a book. Okay. I write in my score book, “Reads one book.” Okay. That doesn’t look very exciting.
Jeremy: Well, you have the different … Your leading indicators are laid out on your scoreboard here. And so you can check those off. You can see progress. It can tell you if you’re winning or not at a glance. So, you have this scoreboard in front of you, and it may not seem like, hey, if we’re going to read a book in the first month, big deal. But then we do something in month two, something a month three, and in month four, you look back and you’re like, well hey, look at the scoreboard. We really have accomplished something. It helps get momentum going. Helps you know you’re winning. It’s a visual representation of success is what your scoreboard is.
Dave: Okay. So again, I’m checking these off. It’s been very helpful. One is the passion. Is this something that I wanted to do or is it something that maybe was suggested to you to do that you’re not crazy about? We’ve got the passion. We know the why. Incremental steps. Love that. Scoreboard. That it? Are we done?
Jeremy: No. There’s one more part that’s pretty key here, and that’s an accountability portion of it.
Dave: I knew you were going to play the accountability card.
Jeremy: I figured you did.
Dave: Oh boy. You always do. You’re pretty good at that, but yeah, tell me about accountability.
Jeremy: Accountability gets things done. So, you think about any scenario that you’ve been through, any goal you’ve achieved, and you’ve probably had somebody who knew that you were trying to do that. Somebody who could come alongside you and help you out. There’s no way around that. You’re accountable to that person, and you need to … They’re going to be asking you. You need to have periodic statements, periodic meetings with this accountability partner to make sure you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing.
Dave: I like that. And of course that was a business issue, a business goal we talked about. How about same process for personal goal?
Jeremy: Absolutely the same process for a personal goal.
Dave: Okay. I want to reduce my index by five.
Jeremy: Good luck with that. I’ve seen you. So if you want to do that, you want to run through that real quick?
Dave: Yeah. Let’s do that one. Now we got everything in place. I got the passion. I love the game of golf.
Jeremy: You sure do.
Dave: I wanna play better. Okay. There is that.
Jeremy: Okay. And you’re wise that you want to beat your partner that you play with every week.
Dave: I do. I want to beat them into submission.
Jeremy: Very good. That’s strong. I like it. So, you’ve got your goal, which is to reduce your index by five. What do you think your leading indicators are? What things could you do? So, your goal and your lagging indicator are the same thing. You want to reduce your index. What kind of steps do you take to reduce your index?
Dave: Hire a coach.
Jeremy: There you go. Buy some lessons, right? Get the pro at your club ready to go, and you hire a coach and get some lessons there, so that’s something you can do. What about frequency of play? Did you set a goal to play once a week? You can’t get much better … You can get all the coaching you want, but if you don’t put it into practice, that’s not going to work.
Dave: Oh I got to practice. There’s practice, and there’s play. So, I want to practice one time a week, and I want to play one time a week at a minimum.
Jeremy: And you need to get coaching once a week. Is that what you’re saying too?
Jeremy: So, weekly practice, coach and play.
Dave: 19th hole.
Jeremy: There you go. So, if I want to get better at golf, I need to actually do it. I need to have somebody show me how to get better, and I need to practice. So, you’re looking at your leading indicators. Those are all bets. None of those are a lock for you getting better. But those are pretty good bets that you’re going to get better if you do those things.
Dave: And of course scoreboard. [inaudible 00:16:42]. And you keep track of that. And the accountability speaks for itself.
Jeremy: And I’ll be happy to be your accountability partner there, Dave. So I’ll golf with you once a week.
Dave: So again, kind of the idea behind that discussion is this process that you use and teach and train can be used at the business level, personal level, family level. Have you seen it at the family level?
Jeremy: Interesting question. My son is a baseball player. He’s 13 years old.
Dave: Leftie? Rightie?
Jeremy: He’s a left-handed pitcher, and his goal is to play in college. So, we’ve actually set up recently a whole 4DX, the four disciplines of execution. That’s kind of the basis behind a lot of what we’re talking about today. We’ve set up a system for him, and so he’s got certain goals along the way. It’s to play in college is his ultimate goal, but he needs to play in high school first, and he needs to do this, and do this, and so … And really, the smaller steps to that is he’s got to be working out. He’s got to be hitting so many baseballs a week. He’s got to go to pitching lessons. He’s got to do all these things are his leading indicators to help him achieve final, wildly important goal of playing play ball in college.
Dave: Right. Right. So, it does work in the family. Could work on a family vacation, could do, like you said, an athletic event, could be a number of things.
Jeremy: It’s an operating system for getting things done.
Dave: Ah. Operating system. Okay.
Jeremy: If you want to get something done-
Dave: That’s a good way to think of it.
Jeremy: These are the steps you follow. Define your goal, set leading and lagging indicators, make a scoreboard and have an accountability partner.
Dave: Okay. That’s utopia. We’ve seen it work.
Jeremy: We have.
Dave: Have you seen it work?
Jeremy: I have seen a work.
Dave: I’ve seen it work.
Jeremy: I have seen it work.
Dave: But, I’ve seen it fail way more than I’ve seen at work.
Jeremy: That you have.
Jeremy: But you need to stick with it.
Dave: Okay. What did I do wrong?
Jeremy: You probably didn’t-
Dave: Did I not follow the steps?
Jeremy: You probably didn’t have an accountability partner. That’s the-
Dave: That’s number one?
Jeremy: That’s number four in the four disciplines, but it’s the most important.
Dave: Okay. Accountability.
Jeremy: You’ve got to have accountability. You’ve got to have somebody that’s keeping you on track.
Dave: And tell me a little bit more about the accountability since it’s the most important part of the equation. Is it, like in my example with the mentoring, would I have an outside accountability partner?
Jeremy: You would.
Dave: Could it be you, as a CFO or a strategy guy or somebody who works very heavily in the Rea Advantage program? Could it be you?
Jeremy: It could be me. I’d be happy to be your accountability partner there, and you’d check in with me. You say, “Hey Jeremy, I want to achieve this.” And we’ve talked about it already, and then we check in once a week. The accountability check in and the timing on that’s pretty important. The system tells you you should do that once a week at the same time, the same place, once a week to have that cycle going.
Dave: Once a week, okay.
Dave: Once a week.
Jeremy: Once a week.
Jeremy: Dave, what did you achieve in the last in the last week? So, what’s you’re gonna do is you’re going to tell me this week, “Jeremy, I’m going to find the book that I’m going to read first with my mentee.” And we check back in a week, and I say, “Dave, did you find that book?” Because you’re going to think about, “Geez, I’ve got a meeting with Jeremy tomorrow at 10:00 to talk about that, and I haven’t found the book yet.” So, guess what you’re going to do because you’re not going to want to come back to me at 10:00 tomorrow and say, “I didn’t do what I told you I was going to do last week.”
Dave: I want to go back to something you said earlier. You asked me, Dave, do you have the passion?” And I said, “Yes.” So, if I have the passion, I’m going to seek accountability.
Jeremy: You are.
Dave: If I don’t have the passion for that goal, screw the accountability. You know I’m going to BS you til the cows come home.
Jeremy: Then you’re not going to get it done.
Dave: And the goal is going to fail.
Jeremy: Yes, it is.
Dave: So, again, back to the question, is the error rate in the you don’t have the passion, or is it the accountability?
Jeremy: You know, it depends on the situation.
Dave: I guess you have to coach me up and say, “Dave, is that really a passion of yours? Are you going to commit the time?”
Jeremy: And if it’s not a passion, you need to … In part, we talked about finding out your why. So, even if it’s not a passion, it’s just a problem you need to solve, well figure out your why to that. There’s got to be … You can connect that to something that makes a difference for you.
Dave: From a bottom line perspective, and we have many business owners that listen to our podcast across the United States, and again, you see this, you see the numbers, you were with Rea prior to putting this operating system in and after. [inaudible 00:21:18] impact on the bottom line?
Jeremy: It does it. It’s not always an immediate impact on the bottom line. It takes a while to change behaviors of people because a lot of this is a behavior change type thing, but once you get people pointed in the right … This helps people get pointed in the right direction. Everybody’s pulling in the same direction here. You have these accountability meetings that we’ve touched on a little bit, and you have that group of people, whether it’s in an office or a department. They get together, and that gets them all in the like mindset and gets them pulling in the same direction and achieving the same goals.
Jeremy: So, it’s not an immediate fix most times, especially when you’re talking about a group of people and trying to change group behavior, but it’s something that does eventually have an impact on the bottom line because you’re all pulling in the same direction at that point.
Dave: So, we’ve going to have some patience. It’ll take a while, but an operating system is an operating system, is an operating system. You do the same thing each and every day, each and every week.
Jeremy:And as you mentioned earlier, it applies to business, applies to personal, applies to family, anything you want to get done.
Dave: Have you consulted with businesses and companies outside the CPA profession on this?
Jeremy: I have had preliminary discussions with a couple who are interested in this operating system and given them a few ideas on how they might approach it. I’ve sent the book to them as I mentioned earlier, The Four Disciplines of Execution. It’s a cubby book. That’s where a lot of these ideas come from. So, that would be a recommended read for anybody listening to this podcast would be The Four Disciplines of Execution. So, we’ve got a couple of those in the works potentially, and I think it’s something that’s very beneficial as we’ve seen at Rea. It’s been beneficial for us.
Dave: You know, how in the heck are our listeners supposed to get ahold of you? You’re never in the office. Maybe we ought to have your cell phone. You’re getting your kid ready for a baseball and playing golf. So, we need your cell phone. Will that work?
Jeremy: Well, you probably could find it on our website, potentially. Yeah. So, that’s … Maybe we won’t give it out over the podcast, but it’s not that hard to find.
Dave: Our guest today has been Jeremy Senften with Rea & Associates, COO/CFO/Strategic Planner/anything. This guy is really versatile and love to introduce our guest to Jeremy. Great guy and a good friend and good colleague.
Dave: Thanks again for joining us today, Jeremy.
Jeremy:Well thank you, Dave.
Dave: I’m going to put your advice to the test, and I am looking forward to putting it to test on a mentoring coaching item that we talked about.
Jeremy: I’m happy to be your accountability partner on that.
Dave: And listeners, if you’re looking for an accountability partner, you just found one. It’s Jeremy Senften. Send us a message, and share a goal with us, and we’ll get you started on the 4DX operating system and keep you moving forward.
Dave: Jeremy would be a great personal cheerleader. He knows how to put this in play. You can certainly get in touch with us by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Did you enjoy today’s episode? Tell us about it, like it, comment on it, or share it. And don’t forget to check out videos of our podcast on YouTube. Until next time, I’m Dave Cain, encouraging you to loosen up your tie and think outside the box.
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