Getting Ahead by Not Falling Behind
April 22, 2022

Recently, I was reading a profile of Paulett Eberhart, CEO of CDI, an engineering and staffing company in Philadelphia. In it she spoke to a variety of CEO-focused issues but there was one that really stood out to me: “Staying current.”

Being current – in a 24/7 media environment and beyond what we do every day – is a challenge.  Many of us are on information overload. But it’s hard to argue that our conversations about what’s happening outside our offices aren’t as important as our conversations about work.

While it’s hard to keep up, here’s my approach. I read The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer and South China Morning Post daily. The most important part of reading these papers (whether in print or online) though, is that I go beyond the business section. On any given day, I might read an article about leadership in arts and culture, a new approach to teaching and learning in inner-city schools or a delicate diplomatic issue.

These articles don’t have a thing to do with tax, accounting or business advisory. But each gives me different insights, which encourage me to be more rounded and even more curious. Maybe it’s a recommendation for how I can better lead or a stronger way for ParenteBeard to mentor new employees. Whatever it is, these articles are invaluable not only as conversation starters but also as tools to better connect with our clients. Even just sharing an interesting article with them demonstrates that we care deeply about our client relationships – and that we are always looking out for their business.

I’d enjoy hearing how you “stay current” in your own lives. Please feel free to share and maybe we can all pick up a trick or two.

Thanks for stopping by.

11 Responses to Getting Ahead by Not Falling Behind

  1. In addition to my daily ingestion of national and international developments, I find it important to read publications that focus on the arts and sciences. My personal favorite is Smithsonian Magazine. I’ve read every edition, cover to cover, since 1978. Smithsonian’s coverage of Science has always sensitized me to environmental, conservation and ecological issues that can never be ignored by our business community. Their coverage of the arts is a counterpoint to my own avocation as an actor and director of community theater. I consider it high praise when one of our clients tells me I’m unlike other CPAs they’ve met.

  2. Walter Brasch says:

    Bob, your approach is spot on. I read a number of NJ based news print/tablet versions such as Star Ledger, NJ BIZ, for regional/local news as well as the NY Times Business section. I also check out in-depth TV news where one can hear more non-political reporting on a variety of current world and domestic topics. When you keep yourself current, you are also able to store up ice-breakers to utilize in business or social settings.

  3. Bob Ciaruffoli says:

    Walter - It sounds like you are creatively utilizing a variety of news outlets to stay ahead every day. I appreciate your feedback and admire your commitment to keep current. Your strategy of storing news-related ice breakers is one I like. Thanks for the tip.

    • Walter Brasch says:

      Bob: as my wife always tells me, variety is what makes the world go round and in business development, we have to be able to talk about “non-CPA” related issues and concerns as well as in terms of other peoples interests. Thanks.

  4. Michael Cook says:

    Bob - it is all about being in a constant state of reading, thinking and learning. I have through experience found that the best business leaders and investors became great by becoming learning machines. Very important in the field of investment management and securities research - knowing what you own vs. following the crowd is a key differentiating factor that determines long term success.


  5. Bob Ciaruffoli says:

    Excellent points. Absolutely true. When we take the approach that there’s always something new to learn we’re already on our way to long term success. And the more varied our news sources are, the easier it becomes for forming our own well-informed views.

  6. Bob Ciaruffoli says:

    Richard – I appreciate your thoughts and reminder of the significance behind magazines such as Smithsonian. These types of publications offer us in-depth stories on history and culture different from what we see in the daily publications. Understanding the news from varied outlets as you suggest not only makes us successful in business but in connecting with our clients and professional networks.
    So true about the value of a well-rounded CPA. It’s what we seek with every team member we bring on board!

  7. Donna Massanova says:

    Bob – With such a busy daily schedule, constantly on the run from 6:30 a.m. to late in the evening with business events, I can’t seem to find the time to read the newspaper every day. As an alternative, I tune into television or radio news for an hour each morning as I’m getting ready to learn about what’s going on around me. I’ve had success with this strategy because it works no matter which city I’m waking up in. I do still enjoy reading the newspaper so if time permits on a Sunday, it’s one of my pleasures.

    • Bob Ciaruffoli says:

      Donna – It’s an admirable strategy you’re using. I’m impressed by your commitment to keep up with news when traveling. As you suggested, just like we schedule our meetings and business events, it’s equally important to set aside time each day to find out what’s going on outside of the office. Doing so demonstrates to our clients that we know the current issues they may be challenged by and provides us with talking points for that evening’s business event.

  8. Bob,
    Like you approach. I find the best leaders are multi-dimensional human beings. And, that they utilize the differing parts of their lives and interests to learn how to encourage more satisfying and creative workplaces. Great approach and good for others to learn from.

  9. Bob Ciaruffoli says:

    Susan – No doubt. That’s why I encourage our team members to embrace opportunities to lead outside of ParenteBeard as well. By volunteering to lead a charitable cause, nonprofit board, industry group or community meeting, you gain invaluable experience working with fellow members to reach a collective goal. You’ll also be challenged for new ways to motivate a variety of personality types. A good leader will quickly utilize what they’ve learned outside and apply it to their everyday life. Thanks for your insights.

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