It’s all about gratitude. Gratitude feeds the soul and is the beginning of joy. At our first Acumen meeting of the year, we talked about what we learned and what we were grateful for in 2018, and then how that will change who we are and what we’ll do in 2019.

Here’s my list:

1. “All things rise and fall on leadership.”

A timeless truth I first learned from Ken Blanchard buried in one of his many business leadership books. One can easily see it play out in virtually every corner of our lives ranging from government to higher learning; families to churches; not-for-profits to traditional businesses. Everywhere! Of course, I see it mostly first hand in the SMB space.

2. People and top grading

As leadership is the catalyst for rising and falling (see #1), it has a direct correlative connection to people. Top leaders we work with are in a constant battle to recruit, identify, hire and retain top talent. That’s no surprise or profound epiphany. People drive growth and results. They can also limit growth and results. They can advance culture or destroy it. There should be no sacred cows when it comes to people, but there are. Often leaders become unwilling to disrupt the status quo or top-grade opportunistically. I did it. I’ve done it. I see others fall victim to an inability, lack of courage or fear of top grading. I understand why, as it impacts people’s lives in a real way. It impacts others in the organization whether a change is made or not. Think about it.

3. Don’t settle

More of a stark reminder than profound learning. Too often, I settle. Settle for “not ideal” candidates to occupy critical strategic roles in our firms. Settle for mediocre players. Settle for less than stellar results. Again, guilty as charged. In some cases, it’s hard not to settle when a strong economy creates a tight labor market, and top talent can be very difficult to find or exceedingly expensive to recruit. And oh by the way, you desperately need a position filled…asap! Though they may have a pulse, don’t settle.

4. Kick the Ick – too much administrivia

I spent way too much time this past year engaged in administrative activities. I won’t get into the details of why but needless to say, it drained my enthusiasm and it was unproductive for me and our organization and community. Identify your MVPs (most valuable and profitable activities) and engage in them. Identify and hire people who can help keep you in that zone. Your quality of life will be better. Your organization will be more functional and those you lead will be better served.

5. Get off the grid – you are not as important as you think you are

It’s OK, really… you won’t be missed. I took a month off this year. Some people called it sabbatical. I called it off the grid. It was one of the most refreshing, clarifying, and rejuvenating experiences of my life. I can’t believe I waited this long to do it and I would encourage others to engage. You really won’t be missed that much-we’re not as important as we think we are.

6. Three perspectives on Marriage

We celebrated the marriage of my two oldest sons this year. One in June. One in December. Both were extraordinarily awesome occasions each with their own unique flavor and flair. It was surreal and rewarding, fun and energizing. As a parent, I can’t think of a more exciting new crossroad and threshold for your child to jump across.

Celebrating 30 years
Sarah and I are on the brink of celebrating our 30th anniversary. It’s virtually impossible to think that our marital lives have existed for that long. I can’t believe she’s put up with me that long! That’s a lot of time to spend together. And I feel very blessed because I can’t wait for the next 30!

Partnership marriages
Daily I am reminded that partnerships in a business sense closely resemble marriage. So many of the owners we serve are challenged with partnership turbulence. I have been in my past! Fortunately, I have a great partner today! We know that a huge key to a successful partnership resembles characteristics that help marriages thrive. Time. Communication. Open dialogue. Continuity. The consistency of communication. Tackling tough issues. Prayer. Grace and truth. Dave Ramsey says that “the only ships that don’t sail are partnerships.” I agree if the partners don’t share a covenant similar to marriage.

Cheers to a prosperous and gratitude filled 2019!

Drew Hiss
Post by Drew Hiss
January 4, 2019
Drew Hiss launched his outsourced payroll and HR technology solutions company, Checkdate Solutions, in 1994. The entrepreneurial venture was a classic bootstrap start-up whose launch plan underestimated capital needs and ramp up time by significant multiples. The adventure predictably included scrapping for cash, overhauling the business model, rebranding, refocusing, redirecting resources, shifting tech platforms, praying, seeking counsel and wisdom, etc.. Not surprisingly, deep entrepreneurial scar tissue was forged. Ultimately Checkdate Solutions became one of Kansas City’s fastest growing companies and was named one of the Greater KC Chamber of Commerce Best Businesses not once, but twice. Additionally, Checkdate Solutions ranked as one of KC’s top 100 fastest growing companies for nine consecutive years and was in the top 25 nationally in its industry. Today’s workplace culture tends to compartmentalize personal virtues from commerce, creating silos and compartmentalization between business, family, community, values and faith. But as a CEO, Drew and his company grew when he “decompartmentalized:” on his journey, he learned to integrate his life of commerce and his life of family, faith and values. Drew merged Checkdate Solutions with payroll industry leader Paycor, stepping away from the company in 2008 and serving on its board for eight years. Drew remains an owner in the firm. Today, Drew’s heart to help business owners leverage the influence of their business platform for eternal impact is at the core of Acumen which he founded late in 2015. Acumen is a catalytic iron-sharpening-iron environment forged from the fiery furnace of entrepreneurial battle, marketplace survival and integration of the timeless wisdom of the ages. Drew and his wife, Sarah have been married for 32 years and have four children (plus two beautiful daughters in law) ranging in age from 28 to 22. In early 2020, Drew and Sarah relocated to Evergreen, CO, He is a raving-fan congregant of Flatirons Community Church in Lafayette, CO, and enjoys snowboarding, hunting, cycling, hiking, and a variety of outdoor activities and adventures including running with his two dogs.