When Bad Habits Lead to Good Things

I have a very bad habit. (Actually, I have an untold number of bad habits. But, for now, let’s just focus on one of them, shall we?) When flying, I am incredibly nosy about what people around me are working on. I try to not be too obvious about it, so I do my best Inspector Clouseau and surreptitiously glance at what they are doing. If they are reading a book I try and see what the book is; if they are making notes on a report I try to see what the report is about; if they are going through a presentation I want to know the topic.

On my latest flight home I had the aisle seat. The gentleman in the row in front of me (but on the opposite side) was working on a presentation about successful selling of investments. How do I know this? Because he was working on a computer screen that was large enough to need its own seat.   I spent the next half hour or so reading my book and his presentation.
Now, this post  is not going to be about making sure you keep your work secure while flying on planes (although this little story could have served as an important reminder of that fact), nor is it about how the ability to spy on other people’s work is a good auditor trait (which it is because, in spite of what we might say, we are spies at heart – just really boring spies), nor is it about how there really isn’t enough room on an airplane seat to read your book, eat those peanuts, and properly read over your neighbor’s shoulder (which there isn’t, but the company just won’t spring for private jets.)
Instead, I want to talk about the content of that presentation. What specifically caught my attention was a slide titled “10 Steps to Success”. Following were this individual’s list of the 10 steps investment salespeople should put in place to succeed:
1.       Start with Conviction
2.       Work with Passion
3.       Invest in Yourself
4.       Be Disciplined
5.       Thrive on Chaos
6.       Learn to Communicate
7.       Learn to Target Market
8.       Master Referrals
9.       Build your Team
10.   Build your Brand
I was struck by how these 10 steps could serve just as well for any auditor or audit department’s success. It is very hard to argue against the statement that success is built upon such concepts as conviction, passion, discipline, communication, and teamwork. And there are few that would say people should not invest in themselves. Now, some of the other points get a little trickier and may not be as obvious for auditing, but they are true nonetheless. Embracing chaos is just about accepting the new world we all work in. Target marketing and referrals in audit are about finding the customers who value our work and help spread the word of our value. And it all leads to building our brand – Brand Auditing.
So, this little bit of shoulder/PowerPoint surfing reminded me of three things. One – the roots of success are universal and it is always good to revisit those fundamentals to ensure you are paying attention to them. Two - continuous learning (see step 3) means so much more than just keeping up-to-date on the latest audit methodologies.   And three – it’s not always a bad thing to be nosy.

Posted on Feb 20, 2011 by Mike Jacka

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