The Story of Sarah – Getting What You Want at Work


Let me share the story of Sarah with you. She is a female professional service provider I have worked with. Sarah asked to meet with me because she wanted my help in creating a healthcare brochure and also wanted ideas from me how she could contribute to the growth of the healthcare niche of her accounting firm. Sarah was a 50 something year-old professional who was a partner at this regional CPA firm. She worked with five other partners and was an equal shareholder. She had been asked by one of the retiring partners for her help with the transition of his healthcare clients – mostly group medical practices, including several larger cardiology groups. This niche represented a good amount of revenue for the firm and contained some high-dollar – and high-profiled physicians in the area.

Sarah was tough to get a meeting with. The marketing person at the firm had to reschedule our meeting several times and confided in me that Sarah was not too anxious to meet with me at all. When I finally met Sarah, she started to talk about the brochure but I encouraged her to tell me about herself, her passions in life. She eventually divulged some personal information, including the fact that she was married to an older man who would be retiring soon and wanted her to start slowing down her practice. This seemed to be in conflict with the fact that she was being asked to take over a large part of a thriving niche at the firm. Clearly, this would be more work for Sarah and she seemed less than thrilled about the idea.

I asked her who her favorite clients were. She said, hands down, it was auto dealers. Really? I asked her to tell me more. She went on to tell me that her father and two of her brothers all managed or owned auto dealerships while she was growing up. She understood the auto dealer business and respected her family members for their accomplishments in this industry. She had also worked with a couple of auto dealers as clients. As she described her interactions with these clients, sharing some stories, I saw her face light up and she seemed much more relaxed. I asked her, “How do you feel about inheriting all these medical practices?” Sarah let loose and went on to explain that she understood that these were important clients to the firm. These healthcare clients paid the firm and she felt good about the retiring partner asking her to step in for him because it showed he respected her work and she felt pressured to carry on his legacy. But the thought of spending so much time and energy on a type of client that she felt she didn’t mesh well with seemed daunting and left her feeling drained – before she even got started. “So, why don’t you pursue more auto dealership clients instead?” I asked. “Well, that’s what I should be doing!” she replied. “Can you help me do that?” So we hatched a plan to have another up-and-coming senior manager be groomed quickly for taking over the medical niche so she could target more auto dealers. She decided, in that moment, to allow someone else to preserve the retiring partner’s legacy. She figured out that she could remain committed to helping with that transition in any way she could – albeit from the sidelines. She gave herself permission to succeed on her own terms.

Sarah also told me how much she loved wine, so I suggested we brainstorm on how we could somehow meld her passion into her work life. We decided that Sarah would plan to host a wine tasting event for the auto dealers in the area. All of a sudden, this woman was a marketing maven, calling people personally to attend her event and quickly expanding the network of influencers for her and the firm to woo.

This is how we do it!

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