Being a business consultant, requires a lot of patience which at times can be somewhat difficult. We all have different “ah-ha” moments along our journey and I wanted to share one of mine that still helps me find that extra bit of patience when I need it most.
A couple years back, I found myself working in the staffing industry, helping to place accounting professionals with local companies. Not only did the experience introduce me to my business partner Mike Snelson, it also introduced me to many of the local bookkeepers who were still deciding if the freelance life was really what they wanted or not. Each week I met with 8-12 accounting professionals (even more unprofessional ones) and listened as they shared their success and failures and then proceeded to question them about their abilities with different accounting platforms, and most importantly with excel. I will never forget asking the 'candidates" if they were familiar with Pivot Tables, VLOOKUP’s and Macros, and listening to their answers making note of certain keywords, that, honestly, I didn't even know anything about.
Fast forward about 2 years, and I found myself watching YouTube videos teaching myself how to handle the same tasks that I pretended to know so much about. I have been very fortunate to be a fast learner, especially around computers, but there was one excel function that I just couldn't grasp, VLOOKUP's. Video after video, I watched as other people showed how it was done, but when I would go and try it myself, I usually ended up just cussing at the screen in pure frustration. Eventually I figured them out and moved on to harder topics.
Fast forward again, to late 2016, and a couple years into building my business, I was asked to help teach someone excel before they had a job interview. During our training session, we tackled a lot of different topics very quickly, including VLOOKUP's when I noticed myself starting to get frustrated because the person was not grasping something that had become second nature to me.
Shortly after the person left, I found myself still wondering why they had such a hard time understanding VLOOKUP’s. While talking to my business partner about the experience, he brought everything into clarity with one sentence:
“You may not remember what it was like when you were struggling with VLOOKUP’s, but sure I do!”
Immediately I flashed back to my Hyde like transformation at the very mention of VLOOKUP’s and it immediately struck me, it’s really easy to forget what we had to learn.
What “ah-ha” moment helped shape your future?
I completely agree! I have started teaching my brother to help me out with the data entry for our invoices, payments, etc. I forgot all the simple things that I once had to learn but that are now a part of everyday work.
He also keeps saying slow down a little, I can't understand what you are doing. It seems I can still remember saying that to our accountant when he was teaching me years ago. :)
Although I wish I could learn all the features of excel.
This is such a great post. I've been there, I still laugh about the time when I woke up going "That is why expenses are a debit." Something that is so intuitive to me now, was a nightmare to understand when I first started studying accounting. Now I have to regularly remind myself that as the "expert" I need to translate my knowledge into a format my clients understand. Otherwise I'm not providing the education and value that they need to understand how their business operates.
Hey @ParkwayInc, this is such a great question. I love Oprah and all of her a-ha moments! There are so many learnings from my business - every single day I have learned something. One of the big ones for me in a product business is how critical it is to get inventory right. When we started, I didn't fully appreciate how much cash inventory takes and how challenging it is to forecast - it's definitely an art, not a science! After 8+ years, I got more comfortable with being uncomfortable with it all.
Another learning for me was that I needed to take care of myself before I took care of others. We didn't pay ourselves for 2 years and that was draining for me - I couldn't take the best care of my customers and employees when I was worried about my family and life. I had to take care of me first.
Ah, so many lessons learned!!
This is such a great story and reminder. I have recently hired my first independent contractor and I'm having to explain my madness in all of my processes. :smileyvery-happy: I make a point of going slow and repeating myself however many times it takes for it to make sense. Like I said, it's my madness so I sometimes I don't even know how to explain it the first couple of times!
I was editing my son's paper for school and he wanted to know *why* he needed to get rid of a particular comma. I knew his punctuation was incorrect but realized I couldn't explain *why* it was wrong. That was frustrating for both of us! Fortunately, his grandmother (my mom!) is an grammar guru, so we called her for an official explanation ... Sometimes, you've just got to outsource expertise! :-)
How true that is.
I remember back when I first started working with computers (yep many many years ago). I did not like them and did not want to even use them. But I had a need, so I learned and practiced and learned some more. Finally it is just 2nd nature to do the things we need to do often. Often times though when I am working with or training someone else who is not used to the programs that I am now so used to, I need to slow down and listen - to what is confusing, or intimidating to understand how to help them understand and gain confidence.
@Anonymous Thanks for sharing! It's an invaluable trait to be able to explain things to others (and it certainly takes a lot of patience!).
What have you found is the most challenging tool/program in your line of business to explain to others?
Wow... great words of wisdom. I struggled with VLOOKUPs too and it is funny how I recently passed my Excel expert certification. I chose to learn Excel. I think the key to having those "ah- ha" moments is to show up. Show up to work. Show up to learn. Never waste an opportunity to teach yourself how to get better. I like to measure success by the number of books I've read and the new people I meet each year that help me become a better person.