Life Lesson Unpacked

The Impact of Bringing Key Influencers Together

I believe we’re given talents so that we can benefit others as well as ourselves.
I think it’s important for us to recognize when our unique abilities match a need
in our community, however large or small that community may be.


One of my heroes in this area is John Reale, cofounder and CEO of Station Houston. I’ve seen him in action on the board of Houston Exponential. This group is working to transform Houston into a hub for tech innovation and entrepreneurship.


John calls himself an Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builder. He’s passionate about helping others, learning and entrepreneurship. What impresses me most about John is his ability
to bring key influencers to the table, and his giving spirit.


An example of that is the launch of the Houston Innovation District in April 2018.
It’s a collaboration that involves our city’s Mayor Sylvester Turner, Rice University
and the broader Houston technology, innovation and entrepreneurship community.


Entrepreneurs are constantly overcoming barriers and winning over disbelievers,
John says. “I think that entrepreneurs get used to hearing ‘no’ more than ‘yes.’ It’s rewarding
to watch how folks have worked together to activate a startup community. We realized
we are solving a problem as much as we are creating tomorrow. We knew we would need
the involvement of corporations, entrepreneurs, investors, academic institutions, and local government. It’s awesome to be a part of that and do our bit.”


John is humble about his significant role in the business community. He says he has a natural inclination to serve. “It’s part of my faith. I had great role models. The late Father T.J. Martinez was a great inspiration to me. He was a Jesuit priest and founder of Cristo Rey Jesuit College Prep in Houston. He showed me what it means to build a community and to serve. I worked alongside him to co-found a mentoring program at the school.”


I’m on the same page as John when he talks about the rewards of volunteering our talents for a greater cause. “When you give, when you’re building and when you’re helping other people, it’s an amazing thing,” he says. “When you help other people become successful, you want to keep giving back. I see it every day.”


It just takes one person like John who works sacrificially to create the NEXT wave of needed change. Ultimately, his life work provides the leadership that benefits the whole Houston community.


Life Lesson Unpacked: One dedicated person who sees a need and works to fill it sets an inspiring example for others. This is true servant leadership.

How to Welcome Disrupters Without Fear

It’s human nature to resist change. And when a change in our business or personal life spins us around 180 degrees, it’s hard to see it as a positive. Yet, when these types of changes happen – and they will – you can either welcome them or run as fast as you can back to your comfort zone.

There are always going to be disrupters to the way we do business. A disrupter is a person, company or event that changes the understood paradigm. It’s a sharp turn away from what we knew. It requires us to change what we do and how we do it from that point on. A disrupter can be seen in a negative way, but a disrupter can also propel us forward. It depends on what changes you are willing to make in response.


Tune in to the hidden opportunity

A major disrupter in professional services is the need to shift to a consultative guiding mentality while moving away from hourly billing. Newly automated processes have tightened up billable hours along with time needed for completing projects. This disruptor now dictates a need for service providers to focus on consultative offerings layered onto the compliance service. The bottom line is an element of increased value to clients of professional services.


I have previously shared the magic of women supporting women and the small groups that support this concept. The founding of the Friendship Factor is another example of a disrupting activity which changes the traditional narrative. A small group of us saw it didn’t benefit professional women to be in competition with one another. Instead, we formed the Friendship Factor with the idea: one woman’s success can and should help another woman’s success (thank you Gloria Vanderbilt!). That idea has turned out to be a very powerful one, as the group has helped its members with generous sharing of opportunities, resources and advice.


Resist disruption at your own risk

I’ve seen senior executives become fearful and uncooperative when younger workers come in with new, potentially disruptive ideas. They may worry that the young people are “taking over,” or that they’ll be pushed out of their jobs. Yet disruption by a new generation can be healthy. Instead of shutting out younger team members, a wise executive helps position them for success and works with them to get their fresh ideas heard. This is a winning reciprocal principle as both benefit from success of this thinking.


YOU can be the disrupter

I became a disrupter and a success model within PKF Texas when I was positioned to be their first non-CPA owner, and one of only a handful in the whole industry. I’d negotiated toward that position from the very first interview and the owners agreed to consider the idea from the beginning. Being a disrupter to the accepted order became a win-win for both my company and me, because they recognized that the change could set them apart in the industry. They are still seeing the value by hiring me as a consultant to the firm... they became my first client with my new company, Karen Love & Co. ...they also made a paradigm shift when the shareholders made me the offer. Congratulations to both of Us!!

Life lesson unpacked: A disrupter can propel us into positive change when we see it as an opportunity and not as a threat.

Why I Listen to Younger Professionals

I consider listening to young professionals a part of “reverse mentoring.” While I’m always eager to be the mentor to younger team members, I think it’s essential to let them teach me. I want to know how they see the world, especially when their experiences are vastly different from my own.