Pop Quiz, Monday with Jamie L. Smith

Jamie L. Smith

The Pop Quiz, Monday is a fun little exam that we love to give to savvy business owners. The examination is not a surprise after all since the interviewee already knew about the questions in advance. However, we can always pretend and have fun with the scenario of a young entrepreneur sitting in class nervously biting on their pencil. They are ready to take a pop quiz on a chapter that they were supposed to read the night before. Instead, they played Metroid all night on their SNES (Oops, this was me in high school). The real purpose of the pop quiz is that this is a fun way to introduce business tips from real-world experiences that you can not learn in a classroom. We want to thank our entrepreneur for being a good sport and volunteering their time to answer a few questions to help our community grow from their knowledge.

I want to introduce you to our guest today who will be taking our Pop Quiz Monday.

Can you please tell everyone your name?
Jamie L. Smith

What is your job role?
Co-Founder at Amplify Advisors Inc.
Finance Leader, Business Advisor, Connector

Tell us about your company?
Amplify Advisors Inc. is an accounting and consulting company. We have three service lines; Finance Leaders, Business Advisors & Connectors. As Finance Leaders, we provide contract Chief Financial Officers and controllers too small and medium business. This allows SMEs to have executive level finance professionals on their team while ensuring it is scalable and affordable. Finance Leaders are essential business partners for any growing company but hiring a permanent full-time resource is often too expensive and not practical. In addition to CFO services, we provide business advisory which is consulting projects for finance functions of all sizes. We also are Connectors, and we place CPAs in accounting roles that are temporary or permanent and full-time or part-time.

What do you love most about your job?
I value three key attributes in a job, and I consistently have the opportunity to experience all three. The most important attribute is learning. I envy but can not empathize with people who get comfortable in roles or organizations. I need to constantly be stretched and learning. It is because I value this so much that I have always been drawn back to customer service. Interacting with customers and having numerous client demands ensures no day is the same. You can become a strong business development person and a strong leader but when people are at the core of what you do you always get to learn from them. I’ve always had jobs where I was stretched to learn, and when that slowed, I left. My career hasn’t been a straight-line upwards because of this, and I’m sure I have sacrificed compensation as well, but I can’t imagine being good at what I do today if I had missed out on even one of my past roles. The next most important attribute I value in a job is meaningful work where I feel I’m adding value. Since we started Amplify Advisors Inc. I have had many opportunities to deeply feel I am adding value. As a contract CFO, the small and medium business I work with appreciates what I bring to the table and is generous in saying so. My business partner values that I take care of things that aren’t his area of interest while he knows I’m beyond appreciative to have him do the same for me. My clients know we value candor and are quick to give feedback on our candidates and contractors. The value that we know our people and offer experienced executive level accountants that fit the culture of the client. When you know you are doing quality work for a reasonable price and that people value what you do it makes it easy to work hard. Lastly, I value connection. Connection is at the intersection of health and longevity, success and happiness. I strongly believe that deep personal relationships are key in both our personal lives and our careers. Co-founding Amplify has let me connect with clients as their contract CFO. Running this business requires a strong connection with clients and a reliance and gratitude with connections in our network who refer and recommend us. That connection includes trust and credibility which we need as we build a brand and place people within clients. It requires us to navigate working remotely yet still building a team. That’s been challenging, but we know connection will keep our people loyal and engaged.

What motivates you to get up every day and go to work?
Every day is new. My largest client, BearHill Brewing is growing, and that growth is an exciting to be a part of. Amplify is starting up strong and planning and strategizing our growth is beyond motivating. I learn every day, I have the chance to add value, and I am connecting with amazing clients, my epic team and our network. It’s a lot to be grateful for and a lot to be excited for.

How do your co-workers inspire you?
I work with some of the most inspirational people. My co-founder inspires me with his passion for small and medium business. He’s excited when we win, and he’s passionate about the value we provide. My clients are inspiring as they are amazing role models as business partners who’ve stuck together and built an amazing culture. And our people are brilliant, so it’s a privilege to lead them & learn from them.

How do you have fun at work (team building, pranks, etc..)?
The most fun we have at work is winning and celebrating success. It is important to do that for the quick wins, the little achievements as well as the bigger milestones. We can’t take for granted how far we’ve come and what we’ve accomplished. I also value connection and having friendships at work. I think it’s key to success.

What are some of the challenges of your job?
Time is always a challenge. You can always do more for your clients. You can always build bigger and faster. One thing I’ve learnt is that while I don’t have patience, it is a virtue. The positive side of not having unlimited time is it slows you down and lets the change management and culture catch up. That is very important and challenging. You don’t achieve anything if you don’t have the team alongside. It’s the speed of growth, knowing when to say no and pacing change that is our client’s biggest challenge and ours. But it is also that growth that is our opportunity, so it’s an exciting intersection for both them and us.

What are some lessons learned from a past project that you can share with us?
A surprisingly lesson I learnt early as a manager is the importance of leading people in a way that speaks to them. Counter to the golden rule you can’t manage people the way you wish you were managed. You need to recognize what drives them and what autonomy or detail they need. It can be tough when you are stressed or rushed to remember this, but I have learnt on many projects that it is key. Another lesson is that ambitious timelines, and high expectations with management support and coaching will let your team shine. If you know your deadlines are reasonable and will get you through a project and you know that your quality expectations are clear then you can focus on coaching and being a support. You can give more autonomy, flexibility and focus on removing barriers for the team.

What advice would you give to someone who is starting out in your industry?
I think a focus on learning is key. If I were to do it again, I’d still do it the old-fashioned way and audit first with a Big 4. The client service experience and the exposure to many clients and industries is valuable. I think young accountants need to experience the learning & build the network for connecting before they can be valuable in a role that has meaningful work. Focusing on learning and connecting gives you a foundation to add value. And there is value and meaning in those early jobs too, so it’s important to experience that in your development.

Thank you for taking our pop quiz today. You get an A+ for effort. You can learn more about our interviewee and their business by visiting them on the web:

Author: Ricky Singh, MBA

Editor of The Startup Growth.

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