Decision Vision Episode 144: Should I Be Thankful? – Mike Blake, Brady Ware & Company
Decision Vision host Mike Blake reflects on 2021 and shares what he is thankful for this season. He discusses his family, events from the past year such as SpaceX, guests who’ve appeared on the show, and much more. Decision Vision is presented by Brady Ware & Company.
Mike Blake, Brady Ware & Company
Michael Blake is the host of the Decision Vision podcast series and a Director of Brady Ware & Company. Mike specializes in the valuation of intellectual property-driven firms, such as software firms, aerospace firms, and professional services firms, most frequently in the capacity as a transaction advisor, helping clients obtain great outcomes from complex transaction opportunities. He is also a specialist in the appraisal of intellectual properties as stand-alone assets, such as software, trade secrets, and patents.
Mike has been a full-time business appraiser for 13 years with public accounting firms, boutique business appraisal firms, and an owner of his own firm. Prior to that, he spent 8 years in venture capital and investment banking, including transactions in the U.S., Israel, Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus.
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Brady Ware & Company
Brady Ware & Company is a regional full-service accounting and advisory firm which helps businesses and entrepreneurs make visions a reality. Brady Ware services clients nationally from its offices in Alpharetta, GA; Columbus and Dayton, OH; and Richmond, IN. The firm is growth-minded, committed to the regions in which they operate, and most importantly, they make significant investments in their people and service offerings to meet the changing financial needs of those they are privileged to serve. The firm is dedicated to providing results that make a difference for its clients.
Decision Vision Podcast Series
Decision Vision is a podcast covering topics and issues facing small business owners and connecting them with solutions from leading experts. This series is presented by Brady Ware & Company. If you are a decision-maker for a small business, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us at email@example.com and make sure to listen to every Thursday to the Decision Vision podcast.
Past episodes of Decision Vision can be found at decisionvisionpodcast.com. Decision Vision is produced and broadcast by the North Fulton studio of Business RadioX®.
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Intro: [00:00:02] Welcome to Decision Vision, a podcast series focusing on critical business decisions. Brought to you by Brady Ware & Company. Brady Ware is a regional full-service accounting and advisory firm that helps businesses and entrepreneurs make visions a reality.
Mike Blake: [00:00:23] Welcome back to Decision Vision, a podcast giving you, the listener, a clear vision to make great decisions. And, last year, about this time I recorded, I guess, what amounts to an address, if I’m really honest about it, regarding the question, should I be thankful? And, as it turned out at that time, that was the most listened to episode of the podcast, which, you know, I’m a data guy that tells me that for whatever reason you are interested in what I’m thankful about and I’m certainly interested in sharing that with you.
Mike Blake: [00:01:03] This is not an attempt to be a knockoff of Oprah and her favorite things sort of stuff. It’s really just, you know, an opportunity to sort of take stock of the last year and pull something positive out of it, even though the things that are going on around us and in our lives aren’t necessarily always positive.
Mike Blake: [00:01:26] And so, I want to – what I’d like to do is I’d just like to express the things that I’m thankful for and I hope that you’ll find some value in it. Some things to think about, some things to find hope and positivity, and to give you a – you know, to give you an opportunity to kind of see through the fog, if you will see through the smoke of a lot of things that are negative, that surround us and find the good in things. Because if you don’t do that as we approach the holidays, at least here in the United States and most of what we would call the Western world, this is an important time for reflection. It’s a time of, for many of us, heightened spirituality. And, hopefully, you find this – hopefully, you find this useful and resonates in some way.
Mike Blake: [00:02:20] So, the first thing I want to be thankful for, express my thanks for is my family. You know, it’s a cliche, but, you know, those things are cliches for a reason. And, my family has been very supportive of my career. They have been very supportive of my doing this podcast, which takes some time.
Mike Blake: [00:02:41] They’ve been very supportive of the boundaries that I’ve had to set that in spite of the fact that I am at home, I’m not really at home, I’m not really available because I do have a job to do and there are people who are counting on me to do it.
Mike Blake: [00:02:55] And I’m grateful that all of them have cooperated in observing the coronavirus protocols that we have as a family have agreed upon. And that has, I think in no small part resulted in the fact that, knock on wood, nobody in the immediate family has contracted coronavirus, which, of course, is a good thing and particularly a good thing, because only just recently did my youngest son become eligible for the vaccine, and we do have a person close to us that visits us quite frequently, who if he did contract the virus, it would be a grave prognosis. So, I am thankful for that.
Mike Blake: [00:03:41] And, I’m thankful for a family that is more or less stayed unified, not just the immediate family, but the extended family. And in times like these, discussions such as race, such as the vaccine, science overall, policy, politics have divided families. They have disrupted family bonds. They have destroyed friendships.
Mike Blake: [00:04:09] And, I am thankful for the fact that that we have largely been unscathed in that regard, not that we are monolithic in our thinking. We are not. We have healthy debates all the time and sometimes I learn something and , I’ll change my mind if I’m presented with a compelling argument and in particular compelling thoughts and data to support that argument. But I am thankful for that.
Mike Blake: [00:04:36] And, as an extension, I’m thankful for my health. I’m thankful for the fact that vaccines that protect us, at least partially from coronavirus, are now effectively available to anybody who wants them whenever they want them. I need to get my booster shot and I will be doing that in the next few days and I guess I’m one of the fortunate ones. I don’t tend to react to those, unlike my wife, who unfortunately is very sensitive to them. But, you know, she grits her teeth and she gets vaccinated anyway.
Mike Blake: [00:05:09] If you choose not to be vaccinated, I don’t judge you for that. I don’t judge anybody for that. There’s really no point in judging you for that. I disagree with it. I may have a different personal risk profile than you, but it’s your risk profile. And, you know, at the end of the day, we all have the power to take whatever protections we see appropriate, at least, for the most part, to protect ourselves from the coronavirus and make our own decisions in terms of risk-reward. And I only encourage people to be vaccinated because it does seem to be, does seem to be effective. That’s how I interpret the data that I see. And I would rather people not get sick and die rather than have people get sick and die. So, it’s really as simple as that.
Mike Blake: [00:05:09] I’m thankful for SpaceX. I’m thankful, in spite of the fact that I’m on record as saying, you know, I think Elon Musk is both a genius and an inspired one as that and he’s probably a little bit nuts. And maybe those two things go hand in hand.
Mike Blake: [00:06:15] But thanks to SpaceX. There now exists a privately funded or privately derived, I guess, technically the government funds, but it’s privately operated crewed space flight program. And, I think that’s an important – an extremely important step for humanity.
Mike Blake: [00:06:36] I think that the fact that we have not returned to the moon since the early 1970s is really a shame. I think it’s something that has held American society back. I understand it was expensive to do that. I understand the main reason for getting there was so that the Russians wouldn’t or the Soviets wouldn’t, or at least get there before then.
Mike Blake: [00:06:58] But, you know, we do need to expand. We need the resources of extraterrestrial bodies. We need to understand what it takes to colonize other worlds and adapt to space flight, I’m sorry, life in space and new generations in space. And, you know, it’s such an extremely important step for all of human civilization what SpaceX is doing, you know.
Mike Blake: [00:07:24] And hopefully, Blue Origin will follow. They’re not there yet. They’re sort of doing the go outside the atmosphere fall back down, and that’s fine. But it ain’t what SpaceX is doing, where they actually have crewed missions that achieve orbit and ferry people to and from the space station. And they do so in a way that is economical. So, I’m very thankful for that.
Mike Blake: [00:07:49] I’m thankful for those who ask me for help. I serve in a volunteer capacity in a number of ways. I serve – have done office hours [inaudible] get back to that. But there are companies I coach informally that have decided that probably against their better judgment but have decided that I can help them achieve whatever it is that they want to achieve.
Mike Blake: [00:08:14] And, I’m mainly thankful for the opportunity to serve, to learn about new – about businesses that I don’t know a whole lot about and to support people as they grow and that includes my staff and my own company that has entrusted their careers – have entrusted their careers collectively to me. And, it’s an awesome responsibility and honor to do that.
Mike Blake: [00:08:43] I’m thankful for the fact we are having a very important discussion in a very, I think, listened-to discussion about the changing relationship between labor and employers. I don’t think the data suggests that people are leaving the workforce because of generous government benefits, though I remain open to being convinced. As I say very often, economics is a slow science. You know, it takes us a year to figure out if we’re in a recession, another year to figure out if we’re out of it. That’s just the way economics goes. It’s getting better. But economics is a slow science, and maybe we won’t really know the full effect of extended government benefits until early next year. But the data right now that I see indicates that there’s something more secular going on. It’s not simply about paying people not to work anymore. It’s about changing priorities. It’s about people deciding that if they don’t have to work, if they’re a second income in the family, at some point it’s not worth it. They’d rather take a step back in their so-called economic standard of living to get back a part of their life that they’re missing.
Mike Blake: [00:09:59] And I’m not – I’m neither cheering those people nor am I denigrating them in any way. I just think that it’s a very important discussion that needs to be had, and I’m grateful for the fact that both employees and employers are engaged in it. And, you know, it’s a scenario that’s been exacerbated by the fact that we have chosen to make immigration into the United States harder than it has been.
Mike Blake: [00:10:29] It’s been exacerbated by the fact that roughly 2 million people retired earlier than they would have because of the coronavirus pandemic. It’s exacerbated by the fact that roughly 350,000 working-age Americans are now dead that would not have been dead if not for the virus, and it’s a classic supply shock to go on top of a steadily declining workforce in terms of sheer numbers. And you know, that’s just we’re looking at.
Mike Blake: [00:11:01] And, I’m glad we’re having this conversation because it’s giving a chance to reopen the discussion of what we want the relationship of labor in our economy to be. Now, maybe it’s time to go back to right where it was in 2019. Maybe, we were all going right back to offices and cubicles and we’re going back to the hours we worked and, you know, pushing mental health aside and maybe not changing boundaries at all. I don’t think that’s the case, but I acknowledge the fact that it could happen. But if it does happen, at least it’s happened as a result of an intentional, society-wide conversation, which means there’s an implicit choice as opposed to millions of people feeling like that has been forced upon them.
Mike Blake: [00:11:45] I’m immensely grateful to you, the listeners, or at least the downloaders. You know, I can’t track who listens to this thing. That’s the way podcasts go. But I do know that I’m pretty sure over 30 million downloads have occurred since we launched this thing about 20 months ago. And, that’s a big number any way you slice it. And, you know, we’ve been consistently hitting now 40,000 downloads in the first 30 days after a new podcast is released. That puts us in the top 1% of at least business podcasts and maybe all podcasts altogether.
Mike Blake: [00:12:22] And it’s nice to get that feedback. It’s nice to feel like you’re having an impact. You know, the thing about podcasts is that it’s one of the least engaging social media formats out there. I talk in a microphone. You may or may not listen. That’s it. There’s no conversation that happens except for when I have the guests on. All I know is the download. So, the fact that you’re downloading and presumably you’re not all just downloading without listening.
Mike Blake: [00:12:56] I appreciate, at least, your willingness to take up valuable storage space on your cell phones, your smartphones, and that you find what we do useful. And as long as you find what we do useful, I think we’re inclined to keep doing it.
Mike Blake: [00:13:12] I’d like to thank the guests who’ve come on and have provided just a ton of expertise and, as I’ve said many times on this program, this is a way of my institutionalizing mooching from guests and their particular areas of expertise. You know, they come on, they’re not compensated. I don’t think they get a lot of referrals from the podcast. The podcast – podcast doesn’t really work that way. They do it because I asked them to, and they do it because they feel like they have something they want to share with the world and they want to share with our listener base and they take the time to do this. And, I’m enormously grateful to our guests or when they want to do that.
Mike Blake: [00:14:01] I’m grateful for political stability relatively speaking. I didn’t think I’d have this on the list at some point. Maybe, I always should have, but you don’t take – I guess you take things for granted until they’re not there anymore.
Mike Blake: [00:14:18] You know, the incidents of January 6. I don’t know how you view that as anything other than an insurrection. It was a minor one. It was one that had no chance of actually overthrowing the government. Nevertheless, it was an insurrection. Just the fact it was ineffective doesn’t mean that it wasn’t that; still met the definition.
Mike Blake: [00:14:43] And, you know, what happened afterwards were extraordinary events. Our president, whether you voted for him or not, our president was sworn in under circumstances of having to be surrounded by 25,000 National Guardsmen. We did not have a peaceful transition of power. They try to – they try to dress it up as such I guess because nobody threw a rock at the president during his oath – taking his oath of office and the vice president. But we do not have a peaceful transition. There’s a reason we needed those National Guardsmen there.
Mike Blake: [00:15:21] And, I’m thankful that at least in the first election since we’ve not had a repeat of anything like that, and, you know, our political environment while still highly divided, highly charged, highly unpredictable, at times irrational on both the left and the right. But we are, for the moment, enjoying political stability, and I’m thankful for that because I have no interest in – I have no interest in being put in a position where there’s martial law. I have no interest in picking up a gun because I have to defend my family. I don’t own a gun. I don’t want to own a gun. I don’t want my – my preference is to be in a scenario where I don’t need to have one. And, I think most people agree. Even those who own guns I think would agree with that.
Mike Blake: [00:16:16] So, I’m grateful for the relative political stability that we’ve had, and I hope that it – I hope that it continues, and that goes also for other insurrections, and I know that in other places in the country, they’re still going on. Portland, Oregon being one of them. But at least here in Atlanta, it’s a fairly safe place physically, and I am grateful for that.
Mike Blake: [00:16:43] I am grateful for digital transformation. This is not a new thought. It’s been said before and not by me but by others smarter than I am. The pandemic forced us to swallow ten years of digital transformation in about 18 months. We are learning to adopt new technologies. We are getting over Zoom fatigue. We’re starting, you know, I think most of us are starting to see Zoom calls as just simply something we do now. And, I wonder if there was ever a telephone fatigue where people were fatigued when they had their first phone call. I don’t know, I wasn’t alive back then. Sometimes it feels that way, but I wasn’t alive back then.
Mike Blake: [00:17:27] And, you know, companies are evolving to accommodate this in the ways they feel are most appropriate to accomplishing their missions. And, managers and leaders like myself are learning every day on the fly. How do you lead and engage teams digitally? How do you engage your audiences digitally? How do you maintain relationships digitally? And, I’m grateful that this has happened because I do think it was something that had to happen. It was more comfortable – more uncomfortable than we wanted to because of the suddenness of the transformation. We weren’t ready for it. But I think we’re going to find that we’re a better society for it.
Mike Blake: [00:18:10] I’d like to thank those who have engaged with me on LinkedIn, particularly with my content. It’s rewarding to write and to have people respond and feel like they’ve learned something and feel like they’ve been led to a thought that they hadn’t thought of before that there are some intellectual value.
Mike Blake: [00:18:27] And, I started a LinkedIn group recently that I’ll tell you about in a minute because the LinkedIn algorithm has become, I think, a form of alchemy at this point. And, I got tired of writing things that not everybody was seeing, just because it didn’t get enough likes in the right time period. So, now there’s a more consistent way to engage with my content.
Mike Blake: [00:18:52] I like writing. I like the way writing forces me to think. I like the way writing forces me to organize my thoughts, and I’m very thankful for the opportunity to do that for you.
Mike Blake: [00:19:05] And finally, I’d like to thank Brady Ware and Business RadioX for supporting this program. You know, Business RadioX has been a fantastic partner. There’s no way we have 30 million downloads without them, and it just ain’t happening. And you know, they do a lot of work behind the scenes, particularly in helping us schedule guests and get all those moving parts set and publishing this on social media and taking care of all the nice details to make sure that our guests feel like they’re appreciated and well treated and that the show has the high production quality that it does.
Mike Blake: [00:19:42] And so, you know, the folks at Business RadioX, in particular John Ray who’s been my recording partner for most of these programs, you know, has just done a fantastic job. And, you know, if you’re thinking about doing podcasting in a serious way, I cannot recommend them enough. We are where we are because of our partnership with them. And, it would be very hard to convince me otherwise.
Mike Blake: [00:20:11] And, Brady Ware deserves a lot of credit here too. Brady Ware pays Business RadioX to do this. John is not doing this out of the goodness of his heart. He has a good heart, but ain’t that good. And, it shouldn’t be. But Brady Ware does spend some significant money to produce this podcast. And, they don’t do it because they think it’s a massive business generator, it’s not. That’s not what podcasts are for. They do it because they have a commitment to increasing body of knowledge and business to help people become better business decision-makers.
Mike Blake: [00:20:52] And, my fellow shareholders have agreed that this is a good investment, that this is a way to give back to the community. This is a good vehicle to carry that knowledge forward. You know, and they, in effect, relieve me of some of my other duties as a shareholder in the firm so that I can invest the time and energy to do this and to do it at least well enough so that you’re inclined to listen to it.
Mike Blake: [00:21:22] So, to my partners at Brady Ware, I’m immensely grateful that you give me this platform to do this show.
Mike Blake: [00:21:32] So, that’s going to wrap it up for today’s program. Starting next week, we’ll go back to the normal format. I should know which one that is, what episode it is, but I don’t, but it’ll be awesome like all the other ones. So just, you know, tune in and keep tuning in so that when you’re faced with your next business decision, you have clear vision when making it. And, again, if you like these podcasts, please leave a review. Your reviews really help us because they help people find us. That helps us help them. We can’t help them if they don’t listen to us. They don’t listen to us, they don’t know we’re out there.
Mike Blake: [00:22:06] And, if you like to engage with me on social media, I published a chart of the day on LinkedIn and I’m also @unblakeable on Facebook, Twitter, Clubhouse, and Instagram. And, also check out my new LinkedIn group called A Group That Doesn’t Suck. And I call it that because most LinkedIn groups do suck and this one sucks a little bit less because we have more control over it. And, you know, I moderate it. I make sure there’s more content in there every day. I archive some of my old content because otherwise it disappears. And, again, if LinkedIn didn’t see fit to show it on a given day, it goes away. But there was some stuff that people thought was pretty cool.
Mike Blake: [00:22:43] And it’s also a place where other people are expressing their ideas and starting conversations, which I just really dig because that’s how I learned. It’s not about – it’s not a vehicle for Mike Blake to go out there and try to show off how smart he is. That would be a fool’s errand. But it is a vehicle for other people to share, I think, smart things and engage with smart ideas. And that, I think is, for me, is the primary attraction of any social media asset.
Mike Blake: [00:23:16] So with that, I’m going to wish you all a happy thanksgiving in 2022 whether you celebrate it or not. And this is Mike Blake. Our sponsor is Brady Ware & Company. And this has been, once again, the Decision Vision podcast.