Meet Verasage June 2012


I returned late last week from the USA (to the depths of Melbourne winter). In addition to being fortunate enough to spend some time in the amazing Yosemite National Park and a week in Nashville I attended the Meet Verasage 2012 Conference in Las Vegas.

Most of you know that the Verasage Institute, of which I am a Senior Fellow, was co founded by Ron Baker in 2001 and is an international think tank for professional knowledge firms –challenging the professions to break free of practice methods that hurt the professions, undermine their purposes and fail their clients. Most of you also know that among other quests burying the billable hour and archaic timesheets is high on our agenda as is recognizing that professionals are knowledge workers, not machines.

This years event was timed to immediately follow the AICPA’s (American Institute of CPA’s) Practitioners Symposium and TECH+ Conference attended by over 1600 CPA’s as not only were Ron Baker, Michelle Golden and some other Senior Fellows presenting at the CPA Conference, many Verasage members were also attending.  From the post AICPA Symposium reports I read Ron & Michelle were 2 of the most popular speakers evident by the fact that many CPA’s decided to extend their stay in Las Vegas one more day simply to hear more from Verasage.

Attendees included accountants, lawyers, business consultants, and representatives from financial services, marketing, advertising, and IT firms.

The first day of the 3 day Verasage event opened with Ron Baker, followed by Ron’s co author of Firm Of the Future  Paul Dunn, talking about the need for less communication but more connectivity, the imperative for all firms to define their purpose and how to truly inspire our clients and our people.

Newly appointed Senior Fellow and CEO of USA Top 100 firm and trailblazer Kennedy & Coe,LLC,  Kurt Siemers spoke passionately about his firm’s ongoing transition from being a firm of the past to a firm of the future. Kurt is a believer that if you want to change results you have to change behaviours and if you want to change behaviours you have to change beliefs. The audience could relate to many of the challenges Kurt faced but were incredibly encouraged at the benefits the transition has had for his firm, their people and in particular their clients.

An excellent and informative panel discussion featuring Kurt Siemers, new Senior Fellow Matt Tol, David Wells and  Justin Barnett followed, prompting plenty of questions and audience participation.

The charismatic Michelle Golden spoke about the importance of proper scoping and price setting using both her experiences in her own consulting practice and also those of the 100’s of professionals she has helped in this area.

Verasage Co founder Dan Morris emphasised the courage to have a value conversation with your client before undertaking any work and provided many tips and anecdotes about what to do and what not to do in conversing with clients.

Ed Kless from Sage presented on the importance of proper project management (not capacity or time management as many firms still believe project management to be) and explained his “Triangle of Truth”- Scope, Price & Duration.

Recovering lawyer Jay Shepherd spoke about how we manage, motivate and inspire our people in a timeless firm and confirmed to all in attendance just what a difference a sans timesheet environment makes to the creativity and happiness of  team members.

Verasage’s resident comedians Greg Kyte and Jason Blumer did an hilarious live THRIVEcast, interviewing  Mark Koziel VP of AICPA and Tom Hood CEO of the Maryland Association of CPA’s. You can listen to the interview here.

One of the world’s most sought after and innovative advertising agency consultants Tim Williams  (also author of the wonderful book “Positioning For Professionals”) captivated us with a presentation and discussion on what your brand/reputation really stands for (hint: it can only stand for one thing), why we should aim and price for "magic" instead of "logic" and re emphasized 4 essential ingredients of trust: competency, sincerity, reliability & show you care.

Thursday & Friday involved a series of workshops, 'DETalks' and open discussions on a variety of subjects for Verasage fellows and selected guests.

It is always incredibly stimulating and exciting to be involved with such an inspiring and innovative group of professionals who are not only changing their own practices but at the same time challenging the status quo and old business paradigms of the professions to forge a better and more sustainable future for themselves, their team and their clients.

The Verasage headache was well worth it.