Good fences make good neighbors … a friend told me that one time and I am not sure I really bought into it. In fact, before I moved into my current house, I spent almost 20 years living without a fence. We opened up to golf courses and creeks instead of an 8-foot-tall privacy fence. I liked that wide open view.
The crazy thing about it was that lack of a fence though, it’s why we moved off the golf course lot. We didn’t have a good neighbor, and a lot of the things that made for it not being a good neighbor situation would have gone unnoticed if we had just had a fence. I love that neighborhood so we moved back a few years ago, but the golf course view for an 8-foot-tall privacy fence. The view is not as nice, but we have great neighbors, as far as we know.
Make Good Neighbors
I had another bad neighbor in my fenceless life. This one would show up completely uninvited during dinner with a quick question or something he needed help on. He wouldn’t knock, he just kind of showed up while we were eating. He would apologize, ask if he was interrupting and when I replied that I was eating dinner, he would apologize and let me know it would be quick. He would then laugh as if that was all funny. He would show up while I was watching TV and followed me around while I did things with my family.
It was like he knew my every move, he was a real live stalker and he made my life unbearable. If I just had a better fence, maybe he wouldn’t have asked that first time and felt comfortable asking for help. That fence would be really nice.
Living Life, Interrupted
I am sure a lot of you are reading this and thinking that I should have called the police when he started following me around but the problem was that I brought him along, so I couldn’t really blame him. You see, he was my job and I gave him this instant fenceless access to me 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through my smart phone. He could call me during dinner or shoot me a text and ask me to look at something he just sent by email. It didn’t matter where I was or what I was doing, as long as I brought that phone along, I was living life, interrupted.
I figured something else out, I actually owned my business, and we all own our careers. I didn’t have to run it like that, I didn’t have to invite all my clients into my home via my phone. I also realized something else, that smart phone made for my personal life being a bad neighbor for my work life. My personal life showed up at work with group texts about a ride this weekend, it showed up as a really funny Facebook post that I just had to comment on, a game I could play, things that had nothing to do with work barging into the office.
The Good Old Days
In the old days my work life and my personal life were neighbors on my daily calendar, separated by a fence called my daily commute. Nobody knew my home number, therefore that commute was a really good fence. The thing is that now I don’t even have a home phone, so work follows me around all weekend on my cell phone and my personal life follows me to work and I became less effective at both of them.
So I did something about it, it was pretty simple, I just got a second phone and moved my personal stuff to it. I installed Facebook on that, and my games and all my cycling stuff. I put my personal email on there, but not my work email. Then I took my old phone and uninstalled all my social networking apps, my personal email, games, etc. I just had work email, texts and phone, that was it.
Putting a fence around those devices, made them everything they could be for the purpose they needed to be but when they shared one device, they spilled over into each other, notifying me of things I didn't need to know based on what I was doing at the time.
Let Smart Phones Be Smart but We Have To Be Smarter
I realize the reader of this post very well could be a potential client and that client is thinking “I would never hire someone I couldn’t reach whenever I needed to” and I would ask why? Does that make you happy? Is your home life thriving because you need to text the CPA on a Saturday?
Wouldn’t you rather work with a CPA that thinks ahead and plans, that helps you do the things he does well so you don’t have to work on Saturdays to catch up some work that you don’t know how to do because you never planned enough to do it? Isn’t a CPA that thrives with time off the exact kind of CPA you want? He is not working at the last minute because he is done, you have no surprises.
If that answer is still no, I need 24 hour a day access, then return to your Google search and go after that next hit, we are not for you.
Because that’s what we try to be at BaCo Group, a different kind of firm, we aren't perfect, but we want to pursue progress, we want to do better and we want to provide excellent service to our clients. We understand that we can be an annoying neighbor if you let us, so we insist on a good fence, here and at home.
The staff here are not required to print their cell phones on their business cards, they don’t set them up to get work email if they don’t want to, I don’t text them, I don’t call them at home. I send them a note at their work email to see me in the morning about a situation.
By maintaining that type of environment, we can get away and recharge, we are better when we are there because we have a chance to disconnect. That is why balance is a core principal of our firm. It makes us better accountants, it provides our clients with better service.
If you are a CPA and are looking for a different boss, if you are good at what you do and you are willing to make a good fence a two-way street, we might be a good fit for you. We aren’t for everybody, just the ones that believe you should take some time away from work and live life, uninterrupted. Visit our careers page for more and an online application.