Try This!

The weekend before last, I went to New York for the Explorers Club Annual dinner, a black-tie gala for 1300 people hosted in Ellis Island’s original visitor center. It was a spectacular event, in a spectacular venue, and a great opportunity to learn more about the Explorers Club itself, which sponsors explorations and scientific ventures literally from the North Pole to the South Pole. In fact, this year’s award winner, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, was the first man to cross both poles by surface means. (I find it strangely comforting to know that there are still feats of exploration like that to be completed!)

Dinner itself was a basic banquet dinner, short ribs and potatoes. But the Club prides itself on offering adventurous appetizer fare, and I was looking forward to the “exotics.”

About a week before the event, a friend of mine, who’s familiar with the dinner but has never attended, told me to enjoy the tarantula kabobs.

Now, there were two possible reactions to that comment. There was the one I should have given, which was “No thanks, I think I’ll pass.” And there was the one I actually gave, which was “I can’t wait to give that a try.”

How bad could it be, really, if they were serving it as an appetizer to 1300 people? I pictured something breaded, and deep-fried, with some sort of exotic sauce. I’d gulp down a bite, wash it down with a quick swig of water, and tell all my friends how brave I was.

Well, when I got to the “Exotics” table, I knew I needed a Plan B. The tarantulas weren’t breaded. They weren’t deep fried. And they weren’t served with any sort of sauce. They were just stuck on a stick, and grilled Cambodian-style. About three inches across, legs and all. I just knew that wasn’t going to happen. (And don’t even get me started on the cockroaches.)

Fortunately, there was a Plan B. Scorpions! Much smaller, less intimidating, served on reassuring-looking cucumber slices. I gulped one down (it tasted nasty but the cucumber helped), picked some shell out of my teeth, and called it a day. But I’ll have the story to tell forever, and you can be sure I’m telling it every chance I get!

And maybe . . . just maybe . . . if I go back next year, I’ll be ready for the tarantula.

New TaxCoach members sometimes tell us that adding tax planning is scary, too. (How’s that for a transition?) Planning itself is a big change from the compliance work most members have traditionally focused on. Selling the service exercises unfamiliar muscles, and fulfilling those obligations is yet another new challenge.

But if people in tuxedos and ball gowns can eat tarantulas, scorpions, and cockroaches, you can try something new with your practice, too.

I’m going to throw out some specific challenges for you to consider, ranked according to whether you’re experienced or not with TaxCoach’s particular brand of planning.

  • If you’re not even a member, maybe you’re looking for a sign that there’s a demand for this service we write about every week. (There is.) Maybe you need some convincing before you join. So try this.

    Long ago, I identified a terrific question for opening doors to talk about tax planning. It’s so successful, we call it the “magic question.” Here it is:

    When was the last time your tax pro came to you and said, “Here’s an idea I think will save you money”?

    The answer, of course, is almost invariably “never.” But if you never ask the question, you’ll never see its power. So try this. Find someone you’ve never done business with and ask them the question, every day for a week. Tally up the responses you get. If you see the demand for the service (which you will, if you really ask the question), click here for your 15-day free trial and start putting planning to work for your practice.
  • If you’re already a TaxCoach member, try a slightly different challenge. You already know it works . . . but how far can you reach with it? Pick someone you think is out of your league . . . someone you wouldn’t ordinarily approach as a prospect. Push yourself to ask them the same question . . . and see if their response gives you the confidence to start a conversation you might not have been confident starting before you joined.

Look, I’m not asking you to eat a tarantula . . . or even a scorpion! But I am asking you to try something that might take you out of your comfort zone, but might also really pay off for your business. So try it now, and let us know how it goes!