Your Past Is Not Your Future

Your Past Is Not Your Future – Better! Results Tip #2

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Terri Said, “I’ll never be able to get the top spot here. Pursuing goals like that just isn’t part of where I come from.”

Yikes! What a limiting statement to have about yourself and your abilities. And it certainly caused an abrupt change in our performance coaching conversation.

Of course Terri could get the top spot. There are no guarantees, but there are steps she can take every day to increase the probability of that happening. To position herself for success however she defines it.

But if her starting point is a deep-seated believe that she can’t or won’t ever be able to because of where she comes from, she’s pretty much dead in the water before taking the first step.

Building on Where We’re From

We all come from somewhere. We all have many pluses and minuses in our background. Family, friends, health, nationality and race, beliefs, finances, language, education, contacts and a thousand other factors. All are the foundation points from which we jump forward – that is, if we choose to jump.

Here are two of my favorite quotes on this topic. Both frame this issue with great clarity and precision.

First, from Brendon Burchard at his High Performance Academy seminar I attended in the spring of 2015:

Your background is your starting point. No more or less.

The second quote from Dr. Wayne W. Dyer has traveled with me for many years:

Your past is not your future – unless you want it to be.

Two great insights from two great thought leaders. Brendon is young and energetic. One of the great motivators and influencers of our age. Dr. Dyer – who had more influence on my thinking than any other human except my parents – passed on in late 2015. But not before leaving us with the wisdom of the ages.

If you’re giving me the honor of reading my articles or attending my Webinars or live events, I’m giving you a hard shove right now to invest a few precious moments of Internet research on both of these interesting men.

Your Call To Action

Let’s pledge together to draw a line in our lives that distinguishes the before, the now, and the yet to be.

Let’s acknowledge and celebrate our past as the foundation for future success.

Let’s take stock of where we are right now: our strengths, weaknesses, bright spots and blind spots.

Let’s leave behind once and for all the limiting beliefs and distracting habits that draw us in like quicksand and do nothing more than hold us back.

Then let’s choose to carry forward the positive habits, beliefs and other factors from our past that will serve us in the future as we pursue our goals.

One last quote as a tribute to Dr. Dyer:

“If you focus on what’s always been, it will always be.

Focus instead on what could be.”

Let’s explore ‘what could be’ together. Let me know how I can help.

John J. Hall, CPA

John J. Hall, CPA

John J. Hall, CPA, is an author, speaker and results expert who presents around the world at conventions, corporate meetings and association events. Throughout his 38-year career as a business consultant, corporate executive and professional speaker, John has helped organizations and individuals achieve measurable results. He inspires audience members in corporations, not-for-profit organizations and professional associations to step up, take action and “do what you can.”

 

 

Fraud Prevention Tip #50: The Three Key Components of an Anti-Fraud Program

Fraud Prevention Tip #50: The Three Key Components of an Anti-Fraud Program

Somewhere out there, your organization is probably being targeted for fraud right now. Internet-based hackers, international organized crime organizations, and even a small percentage of employees all see your assets and information as too tempting to ignore.

But what are the three most important things you must do to deter these barbarians at the gate – or already inside your business?

Fraud Prevention Tip #50: The Three Key Components of an Anti-Fraud Program

How to Prevent Business Fraud: 8 Ideas That Work

The goals of anti-fraud efforts are prevention and immediate detection. While no anti-fraud system is foolproof, the 8 ideas in this program are critical to managing fraud risks in your business. And there is a cumulative effect – the more of them you apply in your business, the greater the chance of success. Providing turn-by-turn instructions for business leaders and owners, this program is short on theory and long on practical ‘how-to’ instructions on what you should do and what gets in the way. You’ll benefit by building a stronger defense against the risks of wrongdoing, misconduct, theft and outright fraud. Using the tools, checklists, talking points, and sample anti-fraud policies included in the program, you’ll be able to apply the ideas right away with minimal cost and maximum effect.

Managing business fraud risks requires your daily attention. It’s a ‘cat and mouse’ endeavor where the smarter we get, the harder they have to work to get us. While there are many prevention and deterrence steps you can take, here are three critical components of any business anti-fraud program.

1. Build a culture of honesty within your organization.

Ethics starts and ends with the actions of leaders. From the boardroom to the factory floor, every leader must not only talk, they must demonstrate exactly what ethical behavior looks like in their business habits. And the CEO must personally lead the pack.

Formalize the rules of acceptable behavior in a Code of Conduct. Be clear about what is not allowed as well. Address confidentiality, harassment, use and protection of intellectual property, avoiding conflicts of interest, and other ethical issues. Tell people what you expect of them. Be clear about relationships with third-party suppliers, customers and contractors.

2. Perform a meaningful fraud risk assessment, and brainstorm how to mitigate fraud risks.

Fraud risk assessment starts with an open discussion of what can go wrong. Bring it out into the open. Recruit every employee into the brainstorming process. Address theft, manipulated financial and operating results, and shadow deals with third parties.

Make sure every employee knows what can go wrong in their areas of responsibility, and tell them it’s their job to make sure fraud doesn’t happen on their watch. Help them implement or strengthen anti-fraud controls. Openly recognize their positive deterrence behavior.

3. Provide useful anti-fraud skills training.

Creating a culture of honesty and ethics is step one; step two is fraud risk brainstorming. But none of it matters without useful anti-fraud skills training.

Many organizations speak to their staff about fraud awareness. But if you are expecting them to fight fraud, you have to go much further and show them exactly what fraud looks like in the transaction records they see every day. There’s simply no short cut to meeting this essential need. Yet this is the one step that most business organizations skip.

Provide anti-fraud skills training in a classroom setting, in small staff meeting discussions, in organization newsletter articles, and using webinar, conference call and other simple technology (Skype, Apple FaceTime and others). Most effective of all but often overlooked is one-on-one coaching of staff by supervisors at every level.

Don’t keep fraud examples hidden from your team; bring what can go wrong out into the light where all can learn and react appropriately. Help them be successful in meeting your fraud risk management objectives. Encourage them to speak up and make it as safe as possible to report suspicions.

If you have questions about what you should do to fight fraud exposures in your organization, just let me know and we’ll talk it through.

Call me at (970) 926-0355. Or email John@JohnHallSpeaker.com and we’ll get the discussion started.

John J. Hall, CPA

John J. Hall, CPA

John J. Hall, CPA, is an author, speaker and results expert who presents around the world at conventions, corporate meetings and association events. Throughout his 38-year career as a business consultant, corporate executive and professional speaker, John has helped organizations and individuals achieve measurable results. He inspires audience members in corporations, not-for-profit organizations and professional associations to step up, take action and “do what you can.”

 

 

webinar training

Fraud Prevention Tip #40: Record an Anti-Fraud Webinar or Teleconference

Here’s where you get to have some real fun. Prepare and personally lead a 15-minute Webinar or audio conference call addressing one of the anti-fraud ideas on your list. Use any of the ideas in these Fraud Prevention articles as the basis for your script and slides.

Webinars and teleconference calls are an inexpensive, easy, low-risk way to teach. Avoid the theory and the normal long introduction of concepts and agenda. Don’t overthink it. Parachute right in like this:

“Hi, everyone. I’m John from the Corporate staff. Thanks for joining us today.”

Have you ever wondered about what details you should check before approving supplier invoices for payment [time cards, procurement cards, reconciliations, journal entries, standard month-end reports…]? Well, in this program I’ll give you great questions you should ask yourself before you put your good name on that payment. Let’s jump right in.

Question 1… Example 1… (Use the same ‘script’ in Fraud Prevention Tip #36 in this series as a format guide to all topics presented). Question 2… Example 2… (And so forth.)

Thanks for being part of this short Webinar. I hope I answered your questions about invoice approval. And if you want more – including our assistance on how to brainstorm risks in your department – just let us know. You can reach us at [email address] and [phone number].

Always remember, you’re the solution to our fraud risks. Don’t let it happen on your watch!”

You’re off and running. Get ready to be recognized as an expert-hero who is interested in helping everyone else do a better job.

One last point. You may be wondering if this Webinar suggestion steps on any print articles you have published addressing the same topic. Is it redundant? Maybe – but who cares. DO BOTH! Reach as many people as you can. And both ideas are easy and virtually free.

John J. Hall, CPA

John J. Hall, CPA

John J. Hall, CPA, is an author, speaker and results expert who presents around the world at conventions, corporate meetings and association events. Throughout his 35-year career as a business consultant, corporate executive and professional speaker, John has helped organizations and individuals achieve measurable results. He inspires audience members in corporations, not-for-profit organizations and professional associations to step up, take action and “do what you can.”

 

 

business behavior

Fraud Prevention Tip #11: Define Acceptable Behavior

Janice is a compliance officer for a large multi-national energy company. During a full day of Fraud Risk Management training for her organization, she asked a great anti-fraud question.

“How far should we go in defining business behavior?”

Answer: far enough to remove any doubt about what’s acceptable and what crosses the line as unacceptable.

Here are a few suggestions for putting action behind defining acceptable and unacceptable behavior.

1. Define who you are.

Anti-fraud efforts are built on a solid, observable, ethical foundation. Step one is defining who you are as an organization in your policies, in your marketing messages and materials, in the words your leaders say publicly and inside to the employees, and in the way you treat your suppliers, contractors, customers and all other stakeholders – including regulators and the public.

2. Set an example.

Every employee including executives must intentionally display positive behavior in how they act while conducting business and even how they carry themselves. Be observant. Ask, “What do others see when they witness our behaviors? Do they see honesty, pride, respect and fairness? What should we adjust individually and collectively to completely integrate our policies and our actions?”

Fraud Prevention Tip #11: Define Acceptable Behavior

As the business experts they are, professional auditors must have outstanding technical skills. But they must also be expert at communicating their ideas, influencing managers and employees, and driving change – all while demonstrating both real and perceived value. Traditional audit training is heavily focused on technical and audit reporting issues, but what about auditor communication, behavior and interpersonal skills. Things like building rapport and trust, interviewing and presenting confidently, and selling our ideas. While we all agree that sound technical skills are required for auditor effectiveness, the mastery and daily application of communication and interpersonal skills are just as important. This seminar teaches participants how to master critical communication and interpersonal skills needed by all auditors.

Here’s why: when there is any disconnect between words and deeds in setting the tone, deeds always win. Always.

3. Spell out acceptable behaviors in a useful Code of Conduct

You have to define acceptable behaviors – explicitly. In writing. Your Code of Conduct should clearly describe who you are and how you conduct yourselves in everyday activities.

Employees, vendors, contractors and others need to know what’s allowed. They also need clear guidelines on what will be judged as unacceptable. And they should be told to speak up and ask questions about any situation not covered by the Code.

I’m confident that if you’re reading this article, you’ve probably already got a strong Code. But it never hurts to see what others have out there and how you might tweak your Code to make it stronger and more user friendly. There are many examples of outstanding Codes available with a five-minute Internet search.

4. Tell third parties.

It’s not just telling employees about your behavior standards. It’s also about telling all the third parties you allow in as partners for your success. Contractors, vendors, agents, customers, joint venture partners, supplies all need to know how to behave when doing business with you. A great practice it to make your Code of Conduct part of any documents that evidence your relationship with third parties. Say to vendors, “I don’t know what your Code is. Here’s ours, and you’ll have to abide by it to do business with us.

5. Spell out restrictions on gifts and entertainment.

This idea is short and to the point. Make sure your employees and all third parties know the restrictions on gifts and entertainment and any penalties for breaking those rules. Encourage everyone to ask questions before accepting gifts or entertainment that bumps up against or exceeds stated limits. Transparency is the key to success. Say, “When in doubt, talk it out.” That’s good advice!

Five quick suggestions for you to consider. Give your organization (or clients) a rating on all five right now. If you don’t measure up on all of them, decide what could be done differently right away to bring behavior into alignment with expectations.

John J. Hall, CPA

John J. Hall, CPA

John J. Hall, CPA, is an author, speaker and results expert who presents around the world at conventions, corporate meetings and association events. Throughout his 35-year career as a business consultant, corporate executive and professional speaker, John has helped organizations and individuals achieve measurable results. He inspires audience members in corporations, not-for-profit organizations and professional associations to step up, take action and “do what you can.”

 

 

Group of Diverse People Holding Honesty

Better! Results Idea #9: Be Honest – What’s Holding You Back?

Better! Results Idea #9: Be Honest – What’s Holding You Back?

Coaching client Katie expressed her frustration with great passion and clarity. “I just can’t get the traction I need to move my career forward at the speed I want. Or any speed most days!”

Bang! She nailed it! So while she was in this charged-up state, we immediately invested 15 minutes in a simple exercise you or I can easily do on our own. We made a list of specific factors Katie believed were holding her back in her career.

Here are ten items from Katie’s list. She rattled these off in this order in less than three minutes!

1. A tendency to stall; to procrastinate rather than to take even simple first steps.sexy business woman with elegant suit climbing ladder with ambition
2. A difficult boss – who has a consistent habit of refusing to coach his subordinates in any area of their skills.
3. Time, or rather the apparent lack of it.
4. Inexperience and fear of speaking in front of others.
5. Fatigue. Feeling tired and worn down from the pace of daily commuting in traffic, deadlines, other staff who don’t pull their own weight, excessive email volume, and dozens of daily interruptions by others that break her concentration.
6. Lack of access or difficulty building rapport with those higher up in the organization.
7. A business environment where collaboration is outwardly discouraged.
8. Too many ‘bends’ in even the most simple of processes – a bend being any step, approval, document or other administrative hurdle that slows the process down for no apparent benefit.
9. Constant low priority busy work – draining limited energy away from getting important things done.
10. Unclear performance criteria.

I acknowledge that the creation of a list doesn’t solve anything. Far from it. But rather than a foggy feeling of general frustration, it gives us clear a baseline to work from. From your list, you can take the next steps of identifying the factors you have control over and lay out a plan of action. You can also focus in on factors you can’t control, and devise a plan to work around, over, under or with these barriers.

The first step of any improvement plan is the gift of quiet time to assess where we are right now, what specific factors around us move us forward and which ones get in our way. From that analysis, a plan comes next.

Be honest – what’s holding you back? Give yourself the gift of 15 minutes of quiet time to develop your list. Decide right now which factors you can address and the ones you have to tolerate at least for the short run. Write it out in a bullet point list. It it’s not written, it’s not a plan. Then act on the issues you can influence. Simple steps every day add up to measurable results.

No one else is responsible for your progress except you. Like Katie, take complete control of your future. Right now – make a list, build a plan, and start taking action.

John J. Hall, CPA

John J. Hall, CPA

John J. Hall, CPA, is an author, speaker and results expert who presents around the world at conventions, corporate meetings and association events. Throughout his 35-year career as a business consultant, corporate executive and professional speaker, John has helped organizations and individuals achieve measurable results. He inspires audience members in corporations, not-for-profit organizations and professional associations to step up, take action and “do what you can.”

 

 

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