Blair and Jen 2020

2020 The Year The World Changed

What can I tell you about 2020 that we all haven’t collectively experienced together. Never has there been such wide-spread issues that resonate so personally and pervasively across the country and around the world.

We are all enduring a pandemic. We have all witnessed the challenge to leadership thinking driven by political events in the United States – regardless of allegiance. We all recognize and sympathize with the public outrage at some level from systematic racial discrimination.

We may be “just” accountants in our day-to-day, but these issues transcend the political agenda and impact how each of us live in the world, leads our teams, and serves the organizations that provide us with our livelihood.

Jen and I were more prolific that usual in 2020. In part imposed by solitary lockdown at various points and in part because we talked and debated these issues between us at nausea throughout the year.

The first course we launched in the Spring was 5 Ways COVID-19 Will Forever Change Our Risk Thinking. COVID-19 threw all of us working in finance and accounting for an unexpected loop in 2020. But Jen and I both believe, it’s during crisis that professional accountants shine best, and man, have accountants ever had to stand up and keep the business running through all sort of adversity and challenges. What we are learning right now will serve us well in future crisis, so let’s document the lessons while they are fresh, some may argue too fresh.

Our second course of 2020 was our most ambitious project ever. By way of background – our 2018 course Mastering Your Ethical Intelligence has been, by far, our most successful and popular course we’ve ever developed. Participants love the stories. They like the personal relevance. They like the simple takeaway. Ethics is often thought to be a boring list of rules and do’s and don’ts. Jen and I changed the paradigm with this course and talked for a few years about creating a sequel. Last year, we landed on the idea of exploring the idea of Ethical Leadership.

This lead us down a nearly year long journey of rabbit holes and an exploration of ethical philosophy dating back thousands of years. We tried to make sense of today’s leadership challenge through all the myriad of ethical theories and studies in morality. The subject matter was daunting to say the least!

But just in time for the US Election, we published The Principles of Ethical Leadership. We thought it rather fitting and smirked to ourselves. Admittedly, the world hardly noticed.

In this course, we expand the framework of Ethical Intelligence to include 20 new ethical leadership principles to help you lead and achieve incredible results.

The Principles of Ethical Leadership includes 8 examples of leaders who achieved incredible results during their career. Four of those leaders created a lasting legacy. The other four, could not sustain their legacy because their leadership style lacked in moral foundation. We are super excited to get out in front of leaders in 2021 and years to come to test these principles and see whether they can help leaders and organizations create sustainable and lasting value.

Finally, we wrapped up 2020 reflecting on how the future of finance has changed after living through a pandemic for 9 months (so far and counting). There have been a raft of new best practices developed out of necessity and a number of these have accelerated the evolution of how we accountants manage ourselves and our teams.

Our third course of 20202, New Business Best Practices After Living Through a Global Pandemic, documents the revolution of the finance workplace – from virtual meetings to working remotely to on-demand professional development to adoption of new technology. There is a wave of new innovation that would have otherwise taken us years to implement, but we did it under a year and for many us, we will never go back to the way things were before the pandemic.

Jen and I feel very blessed to have an online presence that allowed us to continue to connect with financial and accounting professionals from around the world. The pandemic hasn’t slowed that down and as much as we miss networking with our fellow professionals at conferences and events, we appreciate the virtual connections we have made this year. We love hearing from you, particularly if you’ve found ways to make the Office of the CFO more effective and efficient.

Let’s see where things stand from a KPI perspective. We now have about two dozen partners all over the world – from South Africa, to Ireland, to India, to UK and of course across Canada and the US. A huge part of our business comes from the provincial CPA institutes across Canada with whom we partner to deliver professional development to Canadian Chartered Professional Accountants. Thank you to all of our global partners who market and distribute our content and invite us to speak from around the world. Reach out to us at anytime to discuss those sorts of opportunities. We consider ourselves as partners, not competitors in this space.

YouTube isn’t a focus for us, but someday I’m hoping to get one of the golden button thingys my daughters keep talking about. Today we have over 70,000 subscribers to our channel and almost 6 million views of our videos. To those of you who follow us on YouTube – thank you for doing that and we are sorry we don’t post more often. We both have day jobs.

To the thousands of professionals who have taken our courses this year, either through our website or through one of the virtual events we’ve been invited to speak at, thank you so much. Jen and I hope we are making a valuable contribution to our profession through the courses we develop and by facilitating relevant conversations among its members.

Jen and I are both full-time practicing financial executives and Executive Finance is our outlet and passion for sharing our thoughts, our ideas, and the ideas of others with the broader finance and accounting community.

Looking forward to 2021!

>