Even though the office was silent, you could almost imagine ’80s elevator music chirping through tinny speakers. The plain plaster walls were clad in pastel hues of light pink and mint green. As if it were built specifically for accountants, the floor plan formed a perfect square out of four rectangular offices and a single, short hallway. It was a symmetrical, sensible, and sterile office, decorated only with plastic plants and equipped with little more than a mini-fridge and microwave.
This is the building David shared with the first non-founding member of Lemler Group. Together they served a growing number of clients and began laying the foundations for a culture that would be refined and expanded in the coming years.
One is too small a number to achieve greatness.
The Weekly Meeting
An hour-long time commitment every week doesn’t sound like too much of a burden, but amidst a busy season work week of 80 hours and constant travel interruptions, Friday’s meeting only survived through intentionality.
“Meeting” may be too strong a term for the disorganized conversation that typically occurred during these sessions. The only structure involved writing an inspirational quote and a list of clients that needed to be served on the whiteboard in David’s office. David would explain each client’s stories, needs, personalities, and unique qualities to help keep the rest of the team informed and involved. These hours were steeped in practicality and had no long-term goal. It was David’s way of keeping the firm’s head above water as they continued taking on more work.
These meetings had been unnecessary when David and Suzanne were running a sole proprietorship. As they added team members, though, they had to take other personalities, working styles, and ideas into consideration. This diversity helped them incorporate better ways of doing things, but also required a more intentional approach to helping people be heard. They met this need in the weekly meeting.
Business is easy until people get involved.
When they were first taking place, the team could have met while sitting comfortably on a single couch. Now, we barely fit around the large conference table, and the meeting continues to grow with us.
Personal Growth Journey
Apparent from nearly the first day at the new office, David felt the pain of being stretched as a leader, now that other people depended on him. He began to discover that he couldn’t help others grow as accountants or human beings without first experiencing growth himself.
You can't give away what you don't have.
It’s hard to overestimate John Maxwell’s influence on Lemler Group’s story. Ever since Suzanne joined the John Maxwell Team in 2013, his books, trainings, and community has continually caused the team to grow as individuals and develop better business habits.
But before either David or Suzanne had even heard of John Maxwell, they were introduced to the leadership development world by Dave Ramsey. His EntreLeadership course and list of required reading materials strongly influenced our own requirements for new hires.
David first dove into personal growth when he realized he couldn’t teach others what he hadn’t experienced himself. Above all, he desired to serve clients excellently and lead his team well. Until he learned more about what serving and leading really meant, it would be hard to help anyone else.
He joined a virtual MasterMind group through the John Maxwell Team in 2012, reading Leadership Gold by John Maxwell and discovering a wealth of information to apply in their lives as leaders. The first foundational thought that propelled the growth of Lemler Group’s culture was “people leave people, not companies.” From that point onward, David and the rest of the team dedicated themselves to making others feel welcome, well-served, and motivated.
Growing an appetite for community involvement, David wanted to expand his commitment to serving others as a CPA beyond Lemler Group. He began volunteering for the Indiana CPA Society (INCPAS) in several capacities — positions he holds to this day.
He loves giving selflessly to volunteer organizations because he reaps many benefits from doing so. Being involved with INCPAS allows David to network with other servant-minded CPAs, both expanding his network and creating a close tribe of people to learn from. To this day, he uses these connections to bounce questions off and provide value to others in ways only accountants can appreciate.
Space to Grow
At the end of their 3-year lease, the charm of their bare-bones office had begun to wear off. David and Suzanne wanted to work closer to home, which led them to lease space in an office near Fort Harrison. They didn’t know it at the time, but having this space allowed Lemler Group to hire its first intern in the fall of 2014, and the team only expanded from there.
This post is part two of a three-part series celebrating Lemler Group’s 10-year anniversary.