Thoughts on Billy Goats, Curses, and Change

Photo: Chicago Tribune
Photo: Chicago Tribune

Last night, like millions of Americans, I stayed up late to watch the Chicago Cubs edge out the Cleveland Indians in Game Seven of the World Series. I had predicted last week that the Indians would win the series in six games because, you know, the Cubs are cursed. But it was still incredible to watch the Cubs come back from being down, three games to one, watch the Indians stage an 8th-inning rally against the most fire-breathing closer in the majors, and watch one of the two longest World Series droughts in baseball end in extra innings in one of the most incredible baseball games in memory.

Theo Epstein, the Cubs’ Director of Baseball Operations, has now broken curses for both his current team and the Boston Red Sox. Is it too late to consider writing him in for President next Tuesday?

It’s been 108 years since the last time the Cubs took the series. A lot has changed in that time. Consider these info-nuggets:

  • The last time the Cubs won the series, Mark Twain was still alive.
  • The planetoid Pluto had yet to be discovered.
  • The last time the Cubs won the series was the year Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were killed in Bolivia.
  • The periodic table had just 85 elements.
  • Halley’s Comet has appeared twice since the last time the Cubs won.

I realize none of us were around the last time the Cubs won the series. But if we had been, would we have changed in that time? I sure hope so!

Are you still using the same software and systems you used 10 years ago? Have you reevaluated in the intervening years to be sure that’s still the right decision, or are you just coasting on out-of-date decisions?

Are you still billing clients the same way (or, potentially worse, the same amount) that you did a decade ago? I spoke yesterday with a CPA in Michigan who has rolled up over 20 practices into his operation. The first thing he does with them is double prices. The lowest retention he ever had with that move was 79%. That’s amazing. You’ve heard the old cliché that if you double process and lose half your clients, you’ll make the same amount of money with half the work. Well, it’s not true. You’ll actually make way more than the same amount of money.

Do you still take a deep breath on January 1 every year and resign yourself to 80-hour weeks through April 15? Do you really have to? (That’s a rhetorical question – you don’t.) At last week’s masterminding meeting, we heard from a member who cut dozens of hours out of her weekly schedule this busy season to spend time marketing tax plans, and she told us she’s just $7,000 away from buying herself a new Maserati from the new income she’s made as a result.

The author William Faulkner once wrote, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” That’s great literature. But it’s lousy management and marketing. Change takes work, and change can be hard. But in the end it can justify all the effort you throw into it. Just ask the Chicago Cubs, if you can pry them away from their champagne bottles!