Making Things Happen

Written by Joe Driscoll

November 16, 2009

It seems like most everybody has a few initials after their name to indicate professional competence. There are MBAs, CPAs, MSs, DDs, CLUs and registered this and certified that. Sometimes its hard to tell one from the other or a good one from a bad one. I’m going to introduce you to a really important set credentials. Those that are qualified don’t have initials behind their names as yet, but you’ll learn to recognize one when you see one.

At the time I was looking for an accounting firm to do the audit work for my manufacturing company. The gentleman that I was talking with had been introduced to me by a mutual friend. He was the head of a medium sized firm which he had founded a number of years earlier.

He had been a nationally prominent high school and collegiate athlete. He had the opportunity to enter professional sports, but that was in a time before professional athletics was a big business. He thought he could earn a better living by pursuing an accounting career with the dream of one day building his own firm.

He had a sharp mind to go with his naturally competitive spirit. While he had strengths, he also had personal obstacles to overcome. With significant speech problems, others told him he couldn’t make it on his own. He always had, so he knew he could.

Our first meeting went well. His speech pattern took a little getting used to, but it didn’t take long. We talked about our plans for our respective companies. He told me that he wanted my business, he could be more than an accountant. We had a lot in common, he felt, we were both the type of “guys that make things happen”.

A “guy that makes things happen”, I said, that’s how I would like to be known. It’s a great expression to describe the type of person that you want on your team. I suggested that in addition to calling himself a CPA, he should add the initials “GTMTH” for “guys(or gals) that make things happen”.

Because its only the BAs and the CPAs that get listed, you can’t find somebody who has a GTMTH by reading their resume You won’t find a PhD in GTMTH either, because no school offers a degree in this most important skill. As a matter of fact I don’t think that you can teach anybody to become a GTMTH, I think it’s probably something that you catch rather than learn. It’s a credential that doesn’t lend itself to an easy definition, but it’s a quality that’s easily recognized as valuable.
All the other professional credentials that a person earns can help prepare you for a successful career and can open the door of opportunity. But when that door of opportunity opens, it is the GT’s (short for GTMTH) that make the most of the opening.

There have been all too many instances in recent years of people adding fictitious degrees to their resumes in order to get ahead. Don’t do it. If you really are a GTMTH, you will make your own opportunities sooner or later. Adding an unearned MBA or a PhD to your resume might get you a head start or help you clear an early hurdle, but it won’t help you win the race. Only GT’s win the races and they don’t need head starts. In the long run, false credentials will only hurt you and those who thought you had some skills that you don’t.

Being a GTMTH is tough but fun. GTs take initiative and are quick at picking things up. Without any official initials (up until now at least) to hang behind their name, they claim their position only by proving their continuing competence.

GT’s have to recognize when to act. After all, you only want to make things happen when there is a need for it, and then you want to make sure its good things that you are making happen. A GT should know that when you are not sure if something needs to be done, you are sometimes better off to do nothing at all. However, when you are sure that something needs to be done, you are better off doing something than nothing at all.

Finding GTs is difficult, it’s truly an art, not a science. Even though you don’t specifically know what you are looking for, because GTMTHs come in all shapes and sizes, you always have to be looking. When you meet one however, you almost always know it right off. Like most things, you get better at it with time. If you are a GT or if you know a few, you will learn to quickly spot others when they are around.

Because it’s your business, work at being a “guy (or gal) that makes things happen”. When you choose your professional advisors, make sure that in addition to all of their expert credentials that they have a GTMTH. If you are lucky enough to have any GTs working for you, give them lots of responsibility and support.

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