The Trusted Advisor: Learning From The Voice Of Experience Harry Lay

BLP Harry | Trusted Advisor

BLP Harry | Trusted Advisor

 

Small businesses are important to the nation’s economy. Over 80% of our gross national product is produced by employers with less than 100 employees and the failure rate is 76% to 90% in the first one to two years. Harry Lay, trusted advisor to CEOs and owner and president of Lay Professional Services, provides services primarily to small businesses to help them accomplish things they can’t seem to accomplish without somebody’s help. Harry says there are lots of companies that are underperforming, and he looks for the willingness and the ability of people to change what and how they do things. In order for them to move from where they are to where they want to be, he offers them the skillsets that they need but don’t have. Harry shares how he leveraged his skill as a CPA into starting his own consulting firm and becoming the trusted advisor to CEOs and business leaders worldwide.

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The Trusted Advisor: Learning From The Voice Of Experience Harry Lay

We’re incredibly fortunate to have Harry Lay, he’s the owner and president of Lay Professional Services, and he’s a good fishing buddy of mine. Harry, thanks for taking the time.

It’s a pleasure to be with you, as always.

Tell us a little bit about your business and who you serve.

Lay Professional Services Inc. is headquartered in Tulsa. We provide services primarily to small businesses. The Chamber of Commerce, define small businesses, employers with 100 employees or less. I work with early stage mature small businesses and I help them accomplish things they can’t seem to accomplish without somebody’s help,

Folks go, “I’m that small business and I probably need some help.” Why should Harry be qualified? They don’t know your history and I do. Let’s dig in a little bit and talk about your journey prior to professional services.

Most people, when there’s something they want to change in their business, they want more income, and they want more sales or more profits. When I talk about I help companies change whatever it is in their company they want to change. That’s a pretty broad statement. I’ve had a pretty broad range of experience by education and training. I’m a CPA, at this stage of my career I’m a reforming CPA. I spent nineteen years in the profession, first of all with Arthur Andersen’s company as an auditor. After a few years there, two of their tax partners and I left. We formed our own firm in Tulsa and after almost ten years we grew to be one of the larger local firms. We were merged with or acquired by BDO Seidman. I was a senior audit partner with them for two more years before I got an incredible opportunity.

In the CPA world, I worked in virtually every industry that specialized in construction type clients, both in commercial and residential real estate, real estate development. My favorite client was Weyerhaeuser, the forestry company. You’ve heard some stories about that. An architecture firm contacted me in Tulsa about 1988 and asked if I would become their president and chief financial officer. I was a single parent with a thirteen-year-old daughter at the time, so I’m not sure why I took that job. I don’t remember what motivated me to do that. It might’ve been my concern about the SEC and their crack down on publicly held companies, but I did take the job. I realized pretty quickly I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know that much about business. That may sound odd for a nineteen-year CPA veteran.

I knew how to audit companies. I knew how to work with companies that somebody else had generated. I knew how to account for transactions. However, how to motivate people and how to attract clients and retain them, I was pretty clueless. Since it was an architecture firm, I knew how to speak accounting, but I didn’t know how to speak architecture. Somehow, they survived me for two years and didn’t run me off. We changed the types of clients we were going after. We’ve got a little company called Walmart and the rest is history. We were lucky to hit them before the growth spurt. In about eight years, we had grown to 600 people with income of close to $100 million in fees and we enjoyed a very healthy profit, well over 35% in an industry that averaged 7%.

When you started out, if you care to share the broad range of revenue when you first came onboard.

The revenue was at $4 million but our clients were primarily local real estate developers. We had one client called Property Company of America. We built multifamily housing facilities for them. We did retain that client for quite a while, but we couldn’t sustain the kind of business that we wanted. With architects, there’s a lot of turnover and the average size of an architectural firms then and now was seven people. A seven-person firm might land a big project like a hospital or an addition to a hospital or a big bank or something, and they have to staff up. They may hire another seven people until that big project is over.

Then they lay those people off back to seven. Numbers-wise with 40 people, we were large and we were decentralized. We were able to focus on the primary owners of that firm and focused on what kind of clients were needed. We went after big box retail and it worked. It was quite a ride, and I learned a lot, made every mistake a leader can possibly make. We hired some consultants to try to help us and they didn’t. We just had to bounce off corners and around office sharp corners and we did okay. We did well.

In the timeframe that you went, somehow or another, you competed for some business for Walmart. If you would go through that process and then why there was an evolution in the relationship?

Walmart employed a number of architecture firms and one of the things I noticed when we’d go to Bentonville, some of the brass with whom we dealt, were not in the best of moods all the time, almost depressed. I have this habit of asking clients that are disturbed, “What keeps you up at night?” They responded, “We can’t get enough stores open.”

For the folks that don’t understand why that was important, why was the store opening speed important to Walmart at those days?

BLP Harry | Trusted Advisor

Trusted Advisor: At the peak, we were helping Walmart open 300 stores a year which is incredible.

They were opening 40 stores a year, as I recall, which is quite a few back in the late ‘80s but they were growing. Sam Walton would have an annual shareholder’s meetings and we’ll talk about next year’s revenue. If they didn’t open as many stores as he had hoped, they’d fall short of those and had lost some credibility in the marketplace. There were consequences if they didn’t get as many stores open as leadership wanted.

We talked to them about that and about process, and we’ve got the opportunity to take over the Supercenter program to see if we could get as many supercenters open in the next year as they wanted and we did. They gave us Sam’s club and Walmart stores and we’ve got it all. We had to manage their programs and that’s when things really started to happen. We worked with the internal architects and we defined processes and how to get this done. Before long they could open 100 stores a year and 150. At the peak, we were helping Walmart open 300 stores a year, which is incredible.

I know they only had 30 plus architecture firms and there was this typical timeframe to take and go to get a store out of the ground and get it up and operating. What was that typical timeframe?

When we first asked them how long was the process from the time the board said we’d like to open a Walmart store, let’s say in Rolla, Missouri, until the time that they got the keys to that store. That’s the real estate development process. They didn’t know. They talked about how many days it took to build a building, but that was the construction phase of that. I don’t recall exactly how long it was, but it was well over two years before they could get that done and we got that shortened down to less than eighteen months and predictable. There was a process by which they would choose a piece of real estate.

There’s certain criteria that piece of real estate had to meet. Next are entitlements, we had to get permits and all of that. It was his project management and program management and we brought that to the table and worked with Walmart and got it happening. It was an interesting ride and then we’re able to replicate that process to change the Marriott Hotels, Home Depot and even some work with the LDS church. Those four clients generated that close to $100 million in revenue.

We were talking about some of the internal things that you would focus on to make sure that process was adopted and brought forward. One of that you were talking about was a red line report.

That was an internal management and internal for us. Being a CPA, I wanted perfect financial statements. I want balance sheets to balance. I want income statement to be accurate. I want everything to be completely cut off at the right time. As our company grew, the timeliness of the financial statements was more important than the accuracy of them and that drove my accounting department crazy.

Become more efficient and make more money. Click To Tweet

We were very bottom line focused. Even though we made a whole lot more money than the average firm, we were constantly looking for ways to improve profitability and we had a profit-sharing bonus plan in place. When our architects understood that, they were looking for ways with which to be more efficient, how to increase our profits because they recognized it really made a difference. We paid our profit-sharing bonuses four times a year, once each quarter.

Some of my architects came up with what we called a red line report. The average age of our architects back then was 26, we had some inexperienced people and they would make the same errors repeatedly and they were constantly getting a red line. We decided to track those and to publish them within the client teams. If Harry made the same recurring error over and over again, Harry may not last long. It became a source of pride within the departments to reduce those red line reports. As a result, we became more efficient and we make more money.

If you were to review that time frame and go key takeaways that if you were called back into a similar firm with a similar challenge in front of them, what are the first two or three things that you would do inside that organization to try to replicate that success?

Most companies have a business model. They have an operating process by which they generate sales or complete projects. I’m not sure that they all have that process documented. In other words, here’s step one, here’s step two, step three, and that finishes a stage and then you go to stage two. Manufacturing companies I’m sure do it really well. It’s probably the first thing I would want to do is, let’s diagram or list all the steps in a given project.

By doing that, sometimes you get from step five to step six. You look at it, especially me when I’m doing it with a client, I’m ignorant about your process. I said, “Bob, why did we do step six, step five, step six, step seven. I don’t understand what value step six is.” You start to explain it to me and go, “You don’t worry. We’ve always done it that way.” By listing that out, you’re looking for non-value-added steps. “If we eliminated step six, what would that cost us?” “Nothing, we’ve got about twenty minutes of time now.”

I’ve done this in my profit improvement services a lot, especially in manufacturing. Even in CPA firms and law firms, there are processes that they use in order to produce things and if I don’t understand the step, I’ll ask and usually they have a good answer. That’s probably where it started, is looking for what are the non-value-added steps we do. The quickest way to do it is as the owner, “Bob, who are the movers and shakers in your firm.” What do you mean movers and shakers?

You employ 90 people and of those 90 people who are the people who, if they come to you with a problem or the recommendation or concern, you’re going to listen to them. Out of 90 people there might be fifteen that are your key people. That’s who I want to talk to because they’re movers and shakers because they know what’s going on. If I ask them what the problems are, they’ll tell me and that gives me an insight in where to start.

Constantly look for ways to improve profitability. Click To Tweet

You went to the architecture firm and at some point you made a decision to start your consulting firm. When you first started your consulting firm, like many consultants, you got to have a client at some point. What was the process like from going from the hubbub of the architecture firm to starting your consulting firm?

To the other CPAs, I’m sure that none of you are going to be guilty of the things I’m going to describe. Bob, I don’t know any profession that works any harder than CPAs, but the CPA profession is steeped in tradition. I was taught, I was coached, I was mentored, I’m stopping short of brainwashed by Arthur Andersen and BDO Seidman. Things like billing by the hour were standard, keeping time sheets, these are principles, these are generally accepted accounting processes and procedures that you do not change.

When I became the president and CFO of an architectural firm, talking about billable hours, realization per hour and costs per hour, they didn’t have a clue what I was talking about. As we were working for companies like Walmart and I’m looking at the amount of hours charged to a job. It just didn’t make any sense to me what’s the correlation between the value we’re providing an architectural client compared to how much time we spend.

BLP Harry | Trusted Advisor

Trusted Advisor: If we’re efficient, we could generate a whole lot of value.

We could spend 60 hours on a client and generate very little value. On the other hand, if we were efficient, we could generate a whole lot of value. I started asking clients what’s the output, what’s the outcome worth? We got away from billing by the hour and we billed based on value. It was incredible, what a realization. I’m thinking, CPAs add so much value. What if they tied the price of their services to the outcome that they’re providing for their client? I learned a lot of things in the eight years I was in the architectural industry and I thought, I will be God’s gift to the accounting profession if I go back to them and I want to help them improve their productivity and their profitability.

When I left the architecture firm, I wanted to go help accountants. Try selling consulting services to an accounting firm and the first thing out of my mouth is, we can eliminate timesheets and we’re not going to bill by the hour. Some of them tried to get me committed for being out of my mind. My target market didn’t work out well. I did have a few accounting firms that would employ me, but I had to look elsewhere. I did quite a bit of work with the Tulsa Chamber and became aware of how important small businesses were to the nation’s economy.

In Tulsa, we had over 3,000 members of the Chamber of Commerce and probably 400 of them were the really big employers well over 100 to 200 employees. They were the primary benefactors of the chamber and the rest were small businesses and they didn’t participate in the program. I’ve read that over 80% of our gross national product is produced by employers with less than 100 employees and the failure rate is 76% to 90% in the first one to two years. I wanted to make an impact to small businesses so I targeted smaller firms and that’s how we got started.

For the small business owner, he goes, “I’ve hired Harry,” what should they expect? What’s the process look like?

That depends on where their pain points are. Over the years I’ve learned that most of them are doing business instinctively. They learned it from their dad. They learned from somewhere and they worked very hard, but they don’t have a process that will methodically move them towards the type of company they want to have. I developed some processes based on my experience with the architectural firm. What do they need their company to look like to give them what they want?

We think strategically for a relatively short period of time and then it becomes very tactical. Click To Tweet

I called that their vision. My first engagement with the company is centered around a process I call strategic planning. The irony of that is we think strategically for a relatively short period of time and then it becomes very tactical. That’s probably my spear thrust that gets me involved into a company and by the time we go through what I call a strategic planning process, I get pretty well acquainted with the company and they either love me or they don’t.

Fortunately, most of them are pleased with the results and then that gets my foot in the door. The longer I work with a company, the more I can add value to it. The CEO, the founder, will have certainly competencies and capabilities that I don’t have, they will have education and experience that I don’t have. In order for them to move from where they are to where they want to be, invariably, the skillsets that they need, they don’t have. I’m looking for those companies and leadership groups that need the skill sets I have that they don’t have that they need and then it’s a match made in heaven. The sum of my competencies and capabilities combined with yours, the sum of you and me is probably one plus one equals seven.

When you show up at a company and there’s a process, you guys chat and they decide to engage your services. You walked through the door on Monday? What should they expect?

The first engagement is something like strategic planning and I’ve got a fixed process for that. It begins with a three or four-day process. We start internally with helping that leadership group frame and quantify what I call the vision. The vision is a word picture of what does Bob Roark wants his firm to look like by a certain date to give him what he wants. I usually start with the ownership group and I want to have some idea how much money are they making, by money I mean how much compensation are these founders making. How much compensation would they like to be making in the next one to three years and why?

If they’re in their 30s or 40s or 50s or even 60s, I also want to know about when you think you would like to retire, about how would you like to exit the company and why? The why is very important to me because I can’t control your behavior or their behavior. The only person’s behavior I can control, and I’ve got a big fish on the line, is mine. If I know what you want bad enough and I’ve earned the right to be your trusted advisor. Once you stray off course, I can say, “Bob, I thought you wanted to go northeast?” “I do.” “You’re going southwest to me. Why is that?” “Thank you, Harry.”

Then you’ll adjust not because I gave you that advice, I never want any of my clients to take my advice just because I gave it to them. If my advice is not going to get them to their vision faster, if my advice is not getting to make them more money, they don’t need to take it. That’s why we started in the beginning with that vision. We want to get that frame and quantified as a destination because when I get a leadership group to commit to that vision, now we have some advantages. First of all, it’s a destination, so every decision that leadership team makes should be based on how’s it going to affect that vision.

BLP Harry | Trusted Advisor

Trusted Advisor: Every decision that leadership team makes should be based on how it’s going to affect the vision.

It also helps minimize conflict between two or more owners, even if it’s a family on business. Rarely do I have spouses that have exactly the same vision or two partners who have exactly the same vision, much less three or four. As long as those different visions are compatible, we’re fine because as I help you reach our vision, you’re going to get what you want and I’m going to get what I want. Having that vision is how I minimize conflict, especially in families. The arguments can ensue because the father is going to convince his son that his son is wrong. The son is arguing, “No, dad, you’re getting old and you’re out of touch, you’re wrong.” When two individuals, family members or partners or leaders are arguing over who’s right, we’re all going to lose. What’s right is what we should be discussing and that’s the vision.

I point out to father and son, “I thought you all wanted to go here?” Now the son has brought an opportunity and dad’s not sure about it, “Dad, why don’t we ask the son, how is this opportunity going to get us to the vision faster or increase the bottom line?” As the son explains it, the son may discover “This isn’t as good an idea as I want to, sorry dad,” or in his infinite wisdom the son shows him exactly how this is going to add another 3% of the bottom line so dad’s going to go, “Let’s go.” That vision is a real key piece and that’s what we do in day one, framing and quantify that vision in such a way that we can measure, monitor, and report on our progress. Day two, we shift gears and we are then focusing on the customer or the client.

What does this business do for which they want to get paid? They may have three or four different kinds of services, they may have one to fifteen products. We talk about what is it they want to do for which they want to get paid. We talk about what are the needs they meet with each of those services or products. We asked the question who needs them and that process takes all day. What we’re starting to do is to identify markets and segments of markets who need what these people are selling. All in the context of we want to generate another $2 million worth of sales next year. We can take a look at these various markets and segments of the markets and to determine which ones are we already selling to, which market channels are working and which ones are not. Out of that we come up with a marketing sales problem that makes a real impact on the top and bottom line.

We also talk about, if you have a product or a service that’s a solution to the given problem, what other solutions are out there? In other words, who are we competing against and I want to know what are those unique competencies and capabilities that this competitor has that we can’t touch. I don’t want to compete with them in their strong suit. Going back to Walmart for example, they sell more for less and so it would be tough for a competitor in the retail business to compete with Walmart on price. Target tried that for years and failed and they finally gave up and said, we’re going to go after a different market niche. They brought a higher quality product that costs more and now they’re competing very well with Walmart. It’s that kind of deal.

The only person's behavior I can control is mine. Click To Tweet

Third day, we quit thinking about strategic things and we’d get real tactical. What are the short-term goals? What are the things we need that the leadership group wants to get done in the next 30 to 45 days? I can remember times when we were doing strategic planning, we try to identify short-term goals for an entire year but things changed so fast. If we tried to list out everything that we want to get done in the next quarter, half of those will be superseded by the time we get the first half of them finished. New opportunities that we didn’t know about on day one will crop up and supersede the others and so that’s the process piece. The short-term goals of the strategic planning process will change almost weekly, if not quicker.

What does your ideal client look like?

A good client for me is a company that’s well into revenue. They’re making some money but leadership level is underperforming compared to their potential. Underperforming to the point that they’re willing and they’re able to change what and how they do things. There are lots of companies that are underperforming, but by the way they do things, they’re just not going to change. I look for the willingness and the ability of people to change what and how they do things. I’ve turned down some work where I perceived that the leadership was so entrenched in what and how they do things that I just walked away.

For the folks who are going, “I need to talk to Harry,” how do they reach out to you?

The easiest way is to go to my website, www.LayPSI.com. It gives them an opportunity to read what my clients say about me. If they go to my website, they need to understand, I did not write it. It was updated a little over a year ago because my clients thought it needed updating. The nice thing said about Harry came from them, not me. They can email me at HarryL@LayPSI.com and they can find me on LinkedIn and I’d love to hear from them.

Shifting gears a little bit and looking out on your reading material, which is the most recent book or most influential book that’s impacted your thought process recently?

BLP Harry | Trusted Advisor

True Professionalism: The Courage to Care about Your People, Your Clients, and Your Career

I guess that Bassmaster Magazine doesn’t qualify there. By far the most influential book that I’ve ever read that’s impacted my practice and my habits is a book by David Maister, he’s a Scottish attorney and he’s written a number of books. One that really impacted my life, first of all was True Professionalism. When you read that book, there’s nothing in that book that you haven’t read or heard before, but he has a style and there’s a sequence in which he writes things that anyone in the service industry, I mean anybody should read it. I insisted that my CPAs and my architects read that book.

The book is probably an inch to an inch and a half thick, but mine’s about three inches thick because I’ve marked it, underlined, highlighted so many things in there. I had the opportunity to meet David Maister at an Institute of Profit Advisors seminar many years ago. We ended up having dinner together one night and we talked about his book, True Professionalism and what impact it had on my life and my firm’s lives. He said, “What do you think about my new book?” I said, “I’m sorry, Mr. Maister, I’m not familiar with it. What’s the name of it?” He said, “It’s The Trusted Advisor.” I said, “I didn’t know that. I’ll get one.” He said, “I’ll get you one tomorrow,” he will be speaking the next day. I said, “What’s it about?” He looked at me and grandly said, “It’s the story of your life.”

When I read The Trusted Advisor, it was very emotional for me because it was very flattering. It’s probably the best compliment I’ve ever been paid and he doesn’t know me, other than the conversation at dinner. Based on his perceptions of who I am, somehow I made that impression on him. If you were to ask me what I aspire to become with each of my clients, it’s to be their trusted advisor. No one hires a trusted advisor. We have to earn it. The first time we met our wives, we didn’t propose to them. It takes time for that relationship to go to that point and that’s as a trusted advisor. Those two books have impacted my life.

Looking back over your career, other than the failure to set the hook on a couple of fish, that most recently I witnessed, what apparent failure at the time has served your practice best that sets you up for success going forward?

It was an experience. It was a failure. I thought when I started my current company, CPAs we’re going to be the market that I would serve and I knew that I was God’s gift to that profession. Profession turned me down. What I learned from that is, I was reminded once again, we as service providers don’t define our value, our clients do. Even though I modestly believed there wasn’t a CPA firm that I couldn’t help, they weren’t willing to change what and how they do things to get that. That’s influenced me more than I know because my clients tell me I do a heck of a job in meeting or exceeding their expectations, which I insist on learning before I go to work with them.

Looking over time, if you could take and put an ad on page one of let’s say at the local business paper, share your message and your advice, what would it say and why?

I’ll have to think about that one, Bob. What would I say? I’m not sure what I would say.

That’s fine. For you folks out there, that would be the first time that I’ve asked Harry something that he didn’t quick rejoined for. I’ll have to keep that in mind. For you, looking back on your allocation of time or initiative, what’s helped you in Lay Professional Services the most and why?

Process and clarity on what is the outcome what the client expects. There’s a term I use now called MIO. What’s the massively important outcome that a client wants to achieve and why? I can’t control their behavior, if I know what the massive important outcome is and I can show them how to get that, then they might get it done. I definitely want to know what is it about their business they want to change.

For you, looking over your inventory of habits, what would you say is your most unusual habit or what others may consider out of the ordinary that’s helped you in your company most and why?

When something needs to get done, focus on that and get it done fast. Click To Tweet

When something needs to get done, my ability to focus on that and I get it done fast. I admit I’m a procrastinator. If it weren’t for deadlines, I don’t know if I’d get anything done, but when it’s time to produce, we get it done.

Over the past few years, what belief or protocol have you established in your company that’s most impacted you or your company’s success?

The commitment to do whatever it takes to meet the client’s expectations.

If you were to come into a situation where you were offering advice to a new CEO or president of a company that’s assuming that role for the first time, what advice would you offer and why?

Determine exactly what the performance expectations are of the people who hired him. Titles are interesting, CEO, chief executive officer, there’s probably a job description for that position that includes roles and responsibilities. I would make certain that the board or the founder or whoever hired them to do it. What is it exactly they want to get done, by when?

For you, what do you think is the most common misconception about you or your role in Lay Professional Services?

Some people perceived that I’m a perfectionist and all I do is work. I will admit there’s some evidence that convinced them of that perception, but it certainly is not true. I like to have a good time.

Looking over the past few years, what would or should you have said no to and why?

A number of events that I was invited to participate in, a number of conferences that I was invited or encouraged to attend. I’m committed to self-improvement. I enjoy associating with other business professionals but I’ve jumped in late before I thought. I have wasted time on events that I’ve attended that I thought were going to help me and they were just a waste of time.

In a day-to-day operation of your company, what’s the personal habit or self-talk dialogue that keeps you focused?

Do what you say you were going to do and play later. Do what you say you’re going to do and relax later. I love to fish, there’s a Bassmaster website, especially when the elites are having a tournament and I want to follow it. It’s a distraction and I have to continually remind myself, I’ve got work to do. You could read about the fishing tournament tomorrow.

For you, what’s a quote that you find meaningful or the one that you use frequently?

I’m not sure. What do you think? What quotes have you heard me that you could say on this?

I think you talk a lot, from my experience, about making sure you establish the vision and the mechanism of getting there.

I do ask my clients frequently, “How am I doing? Are you pleased with the pace? Am I going too slow? Am I going too fast? Are we focused on the right things?” I don’t know if it’s my personality, I don’t know if it’s because of my age or reputation or whatever that people tend to be a little timid about saying “Harry, I wish you would do less of that and more of this.” I’m perceived as a nice guy and so I asked constantly how are we doing it and that’s when I started getting a clue that I need to change something that I’m doing.

If I was to talk to colleagues or past clients and asked them what you’re best at, what would they say and how would you utilize that particular strength on a day to day basis?

BLP Harry | Trusted Advisor

Trusted Advisor: My clients perceive me as being very honest and straightforward. I do what I say I’m going to do, therefore they trust me and like working with me.

My clients perceive me as being very honest and straightforward. I do what I say I’m going to do. Therefore, they trust me and they liked working with me. It’s hard to say that to you. When I asked him why are you still with me five years after that three-day planning workshop? The most frequent answer is we like working with you, Harry, and we trust you because you’re going to tell us what we need to hear, not what we want to hear. I would like to hear him say how good my processes work and how much more money I’ve made them and all that, but that the most frequent thing is that they trust me and they like working with me.

This is for me, thinking about and watching you fish. Do you think there’s a parallel between running a business and fishing?

I enjoy the sport, but I focus on catching the biggest fish I can possibly catch. If I take a younger person or a novice or a relative, I’ll ask him, do you want to fish for quantity or quality? About 99% want to catch as many fish as we can catch and I’m going to bend over backwards to help them do that. When I’m taking guests fishing, I want to do everything in my power to help them, but for me, I want to catch the biggest fish in the lake that takes skill and experience and concentration and so I do that. In serving a client, it’s the same thing. What does the client expect me to do?

The thing that people don’t know about you is your preparation on fishing. I think that parallels what you do for business people. There’s a handful of lakes in Oklahoma that you fish. What is it that you’ve done to organize your fishing tackle?

It’s organized in such a way that if I’m going to a given lake, what kind of water is it? The shallow, clear, murky? I take the gear required for that and I prepare my equipment so that when I’m on the water, I’m not looking for anything. It’s all ready to go. I want to maximize keeping my lure in the water and I want to minimize any breakdowns, any distractions, and I can get pretty intense on the water. It’s preparation so that when I get on the water, I have exactly the right reel I want. The same with the right panel tests on it and the tackle lures are going to fit the conditions and they’re pre-rigged so I don’t have to waste any time changing lures. Woe be to the area around me if I have a background.

For me and in talking to some of the folks that you work with, I don’t think you approach serving them any differently, you’re prepped and ready to go. Harry, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you taking time beyond this episode. I’m fortunate to watch Harry catch four 9-pound plus bass in two trips on the Rodman and Palma in Florida. Thanks so much.

Thank you, Bob.

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About Harry Lay

BLP Harry | Trusted Advisor

Harry Lay is the trusted advisor to CEOs and business leaders worldwide. He is uniquely qualified to serve as the voice of experience, as well as the clear and constant sounding board to help propel seasoned leadership and the new-kid-on-the-block to extraordinary success. When companies are performing below their potential the call goes out to Harry Lay. He adds and creates value that directly impacts the bottom line with his unique approach to strategic planning and profit improvement. According to Harry Lay, “Profit is not a dirty word,” and “The success of any business is everyone’s business.” His personalized approach and laser focused practices make him the partner of first choice in the process from strategic planning to implementation and execution of those plans.