Mr. Spock v. Homer Simpson Live from Sage Summit 2014

In July, Ron Baker spoke at Sage Summit and delivered two presentations. This is the first entitled Mr. Spock v. Homer Simpson. He does a great job of comparing and contrasting two schools of economics: the classical and the newer behavioral. Have a look:

VeraSage Symposium November 2013-some reflections

HR Firm of the Future signpost Crop


The VeraSage Institute has 3 central pillars on which professional firms are based. These are:

  1. Never bill by time
  2. Never use timesheets,&
  3. Offer a 100% money back guarantee.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           As a senior fellow of  VeraSage, earlier this month I was again very privileged to attend a VeraSage symposium comprising its founders, some senior and practising fellows and also some VeraSage guests, this year held on the Big Island of Hawaii.

It is always a treat to meet with such smart, stimulating,courageous,& innovative people who continually challenge and push the boundaries to find new and better ways of running their businesses, serving their customers and improving their respective professions not just for themselves but future generations.

This year was no exception.

Whilst there were a huge variety of topics discussed over the days (and nights) a very brief snapshot of some of the presentations follows.

After the welcoming remarks by VeraSage co founder Dan Morris,the formal part of the 2 day symposium commenced with the irrepressible and dynamic Boston lawyer Chris Marston (who that evening married his beautiful Cecilia on the beach at Waikoloa) challenging us all on how we compensate our team members and ourselves.In short Chris believes if we are going to value price we need to value pay- and that means abandoning what is essentially the old labour model of compensation.

Wise Sage Ed Kless also delivered his views on compensation arguing that in a professional knowledge firm everyone is a defacto owner of the business and should be entitled to some share of profit.

Needless to say there was significant discussion from the attendees on how best to compensate team members and 2 things became clear.First, there are any number of options and one size does not suit all and second,gone are the days when anyone is paid for simply turning up for work to just do an “OK” job.

First time guest Laura Snyder,an ex-practising and in-house lawyer, flew all the way from Paris to explain her vision for providing out-house general counsel support to international SME’s.

For a change of pace part time accountant and the G. Robert Newhart Non-value-added Verasage Fellow, stand up comedian Greg Kyte continued his Certified Public Agnostic theme by delivering a humorous presentation titled “Do You Believe In God?

Dan Morris led us in a great discussion on the benefits of the much under utilised Before Action Reviews.

Reminding us that surveys show 85% of businesses think that financial statements produced for them by their accountants are next to useless, Adrian Simmons ( who the next day was appointed VeraSage’s newest practicing fellow) updated us on the innovation that is Thriveal. In particular Adrian explained how the Thriveal Lab is allowing young-and not so-young- CPAs the opportunity to get together in an environment where experimentation and creativity is supported and fostered as they increasingly look to provide new services and products that are of real value to their clients.

Next it was some of the Australian attendees turn to take to the stage with McCullough Robertson partner & founder of eLawyer Matthew Burgess walking us through his and his team’s creativity journey, the abolition of non-time-based pricing and their ultimate abandonment of timesheets.

Joelle Blackburn, People & Development Manager at Moores Legal,spoke about many lawyers (lack of) self confidence and self esteem when it comes to pricing. Joelle emphasised the critical importance emotional intelligence plays in well functioning professionals whilst sadly noting that in the professions we score high on IQ but lower on EQ than the general public.

Next up was David Wells Managing Partner of Moores Legal who took the room through their journey of adopting Moores Agreed Pricing, abandoning timesheets on 1 July 2012 and providing examples of the positive impact this has had on their firm’s culture,their people and their clients.

Craig Hollett partner at BBV Legal in Perth was another who spoke about his firm’s transition over the last 3 years when they first adopted fixed pricing across the whole firm.

To end formal proceedings on Day 1 Ron Baker reminded us that if your “why” is not polarising it is probably worthless and re iterated how our firms are primarily determined by the customers we don’t have quoting Steve Jobs who said

” I am as proud of what we (Apple) don’t do as much as what we do do”.

On Day 2 Laura Snyder made an excellent presentation on some of the radical changes and shake up affecting the UK legal profession and one couldn’t but help think that the legislative intervention in the UK legal services market was primarily a response to the exorbitant cost of legal representation in the UK and a move to free up a protected profession. It will be very interesting to see how the UK legal market in particular pans out over the next few years and whether of any of this makes its way to other jurisdictions.

Inspirational VeraSage Senior Fellow Michelle Golden stimulated our thought processes when posturing the potential roles in professional firms of a value strategist and how that requires a different skill set to a result strategist.

Ed Kless talked about leadership and in particular the brilliant thoughts of Howard Hansen & Steven Geske best espoused in their book “Healing Leadership-A Survival Guide for the Enlightened Leader” ( a book I have since read and highly recommend).Many of us left the conference with the desire to be “a non anxious presence“.

Jeff Wald Managing Partner of Top 100 US Accounting firm Kennedy & Coe presented his firm’s recent history of not only adopting fixed pricing but how his firm create an impact & is a major influence in the defined industries they specialise in and how they do it whilst having fun. Very stimulating.

Libby Klein one of the early drivers of value based pricing at Moores talked about her own personal journey at the firm and the challenges and highlights she has so far experienced along the way.

Dan Morris then gave us an insight into his soon to be written book “Lessons From The Waterhole” and we all can’t wait for it to be published.

Ron Baker-after copping two well deserved roasts from both myself and Greg Kyte- recovered enough to close Day 2 with a presentation about our Post-Causality World explaining that innovation and creativity can never be planned for-it should always take us by surprise and why there is little or no creativity in data driven organisations.

Finally Ron left us with the following 10 lessons he has recently learned:

1. The Four Defenses for Keeping Timesheets dominate the debate: we need them for: 1) pricing; 2) cost accounting; 3) project management; and 4) determining the efficiency of the team. All these are incorrect and have been empirically refuted

2. “In the real world…”? When some one says this, they are losing, or are about to lose, the debate

3. Eliminate “the fade”-discounting degrades our pricing integrity and trains customers to ask (and expect) discounts

4. Separate project management from pricing, they are two entirely different skills

5. Eliminate individual revenue targets–it creates silos and works against the one-firm firm principle

6. Our new #1 KPI should be “how much value are we leaving on the table?

7. The professions need to get back to providing excellent customer service

8. Our self esteem is important–without it we cannot do a service to our team nor our customers

9. Understand and communicate the immense psychological positives in firms that have no timesheets

10. Timesheets are the real cancer in the professions–they need to go. VeraSage will continue to provide heat and light to this debate

There were many memorable quotes from these 2 days none more so than from Matthew Burgess when he said:

” With timesheets I used to ask is it billable? Without timesheets I now ask is it valuable?

Which question does your firm ask?

Burning Timesheets



The Firm of the Future Symposium

I’m excited to present the new dates for Sage’s Firm of the Future Symposium, which is now open to anyone.

I’ve had the pleasure of teaching the 2-day Symposium with my colleague, Ed Kless, for about six years now.

We’ve witnessed many firms make the transition to Firm of the Future status as a result of attending, including initial skeptics.

You can read more about the Agenda, pricing, sign-up information, etc., here.

Update on the VeraSage Podcast

Unfortunately, it has been about a year since our last podcast, but we hope to reinvigorate our series in the next few weeks.

A few notes:

  • During the conversion to the new blog we lost the feed to iTunes, so the old podcast feed is no longer working.
  • So, please use this new one.
  • We did not lose the content, but since the feed is gone there is not way to access it via iTunes, so over the course of the next few weeks, the library will be rebuilt.
  • We have other content (quite a bit actually) that was not on the podcast stream with iTunes, but nonetheless is worth republishing, so you can look forward to that being added as well.
  • To celebrate all this we are releasing a new podcast today, it will be posted shortly after this post.


Thought Legion Webinar: How to Discuss Value

I’m proud to be part of Thought Legion, an Ignition Consulting Group venture, led by Tim Williams.

They have a great line-up of speakers presenting leading edge topics.

I’ll be conducting this webinar (“How to Discuss Value With Your Clients”) July 9th, 2013, 1:00-2:00 pm, EDT.

Whether or not you work in an ad agency, check out Thought Legion’s roster of events.

VeraSage & Principa Bring You “A Day With the Disrupters” for CPAs

A Day With the Disrupters takes place on June 8, the day before the AICPA PS/TECH and AAM conference at Bellagio in Las Vegas.

Register here:

And if you attend our day, you can receive special pricing for the AICPA/AAM event! When you register for the AICPA/AAM conference, use code “PTA13P” to receive $225 off!

See you there!

What We’re Covering:

Are you ready to transform your accounting practice? Is it time to break out of the pack? Are you getting itchy realizing that it’s time for a new business model?

This is where you’ll find what you need to know to bring passion and purpose to the forefront of your practice, and improve the quality of your life and the lives of your team members and customers.

Join Ron Baker of VeraSageMichelle Golden of Golden PracticesMelinda Guillemette of Melinda Motivates, and Ric Payne of Principa for a day of mind-exploding discussion. This very special event (NOT your typical conference feel or format) is sure to leave you inspired and prepared to define and design your firm.

When you are breaking down barriers to bettering CPA firms, no subject is safe. Expect the day’s content to span:

  • Business Model Innovation
  • Strategy is About Saying “No”
  • The Six Principles of Leadership
  • The Intellectual Economy
  • Creating and Capturing Value
  • Measuring What Matters

Your takeaways from this incredible day include:

  • Learn how to reinvent your business model, transforming it into something unique that works for YOU—then take the process back to use with your customers
  • Get into the trenches discussing customer selection and deselection, and how to fire without damaging your reputation
  • Understand the concept of “emotional capacity” and why it’s so crucial to factor this in to your business model
  • Discover what replaces timesheets and discuss in depth a variety of KPIs (key predictive indicators) that could work for you
  • Explore essential ways to demonstrate leadership and engender trust among your colleagues
  • Prepare to define, inspire, recognize, and reward the behaviors that will make your business better;  understand how compensation is a tool, not a weapon
  • Hear exactly how to move your customers up the value curve and feel confident that you’re doing the right and honorable thing while you do so

2013 speakers


Changes with the VeraSage Website

Chances are you have noticed some of the changes with the VeraSage site.

First and foremost, we have moved platforms from ExpressionEngine to WordPress. We believe this will allow us to develop and deploy more and better content for you in the future.

Second, our content from the past is all here. If you experience trouble finding any of it, please let us know.

Third, the next change you will see will happen is our move from Feedblitz to MailChimp for email delivery of new post. This will be the last post you receive via Feedblitz as we are shutting it down in the next 24 hours. You should then automatically be added to the new feed on MailChimp. If you suspect this is not the case, again, please let us know.

Lastly, you will be seeing more changes to the functionality of the site in the next month or so. If things go a little crazy from time to time, please be patient with us. In addition, if you have any suggestions for functionality or content, we would love to here from you.

Hawaiian Seminar-At-Sea

Seminars-At-Sea presents “Knowledge is Profit” CPE cruise, October 26 through November 2, 2013.

We will be onboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s “Pride of America.”

This will be fully tax deductible and provides 32 hours of CPE credits.

For more information, contact: 1-888-377-7962

The Virtual Roundtable: Value Pricing for CPA Firms

I’m happy to announce a new program being launched by the CPA Leadership Institute: The Virtual Roundtable.

A series of six conferences call will be conducted on a given topic over several months.

My topic is The Eight Steps to Implementing Value Pricing.

The first session is a free introduction, which will take place on October 31.

IQPC 3rd Pricing & Revenue Optimization Summit

I am proud to be speaking at the 3rd Pricing & Revenue Optimization Summit on July 30th, being held in Chicago.

The workshop I am leading is titled “Behavioral Economics: A Look at the First and Second Law of Pricing” focusing on how the anchoring and framing effect influence pricing, and to help attendees gain an inside look at behavioral economics to create a pricing strategy that satisfies corporate goals as well as customers.

Visit here for more details and use the code “3PROS_Verasage” to receive a speaker referral discount.