June 2, 2023

Episode 81: Lucy Cohen, Co-founder of Mazuma

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The Story

When we started the Humanise the Numbers podcast, it was a bit of an experiment to see if there was any life in talking with leaders of accounting firms and with some of the top advisors to the profession from around the world.

And now, two years on, it's no longer an experiment, and I consider it a privilege to be able to have deep, meaningful, valuable conversations with leaders in the profession.

And it's not surprising, is it, when you come across a great leader of a great firm, that they'd want to focus on and have a real systems approach to reducing the grunt work. They'd want to recruit and support the right people and, at the same time, build in accountability so that high performance can be measured.

And that's exactly what Lucy Cohen at Mazuma is doing. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed this conversation with Lucy, especially the valuable small comments that she makes throughout the discussion.

And if you've followed what we do at Remarkable Practice and my obsession with KPIs (Key Predictive Indicators, not just Key Performance Indicators), I was very keen to understand Lucy's approach to measuring the performance of her team and how she brings that to bear, so that their 35-strong team have a sense of achievement and deliver a great result across their 3000 clients – a really interesting team member-to-client ratio. They actually measure the number of calls that take place between clients and team members – approximately 750 calls a week.

It's definitely worth your while to check out this Humanise The Numbers podcast with Lucy Cohen from Mazuma. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Please scroll down the page for Lucy’s contact information and for the additional, downloadable resources mentioned in this podcast.

The Solution:

When I have a bout of anxiety, or I'm concerned about something, there are two things I always think. Firstly, I've got a 100% track record of surviving this stuff, so I'll probably be okay, and secondly, will this be a problem in five years?

I try to frame situations that allow me to step back and realise that it’s probably nothing I can't handle right now.

I always joke that in two years’ time we'll wish we had these problems because, as your business grows and evolves, the problems change, the zeros on the end of your profits increase and therefore every year the stakes are higher.

But at the time you experience that problem, it feels catastrophic.

I look at some of those in our business now and, looking back, those issues were like child's play, but it didn't feel like it at the time. I'd have hated it if somebody had said to me at that moment, “this is nothing, don't worry about it”, because it felt so critical to me.

But that's the key – that’s how it felt. It’s really important to me when I process those emotions and when I think about what I do next.

Sometimes your brain can make something up, but that doesn't mean it's true. Brains are great at tricking us into all sorts of things, good and bad.

For example, I genuinely believe every time I buy a lottery ticket, I'm actually going to win the lottery and I'm truly shocked when it's not the case. I’m very happy to delude myself of that every time. I can also very easily trick myself that the sky is going to fall down and I'm very aware of my ability to do both those things.

So, when things feel rough, I just remind myself that its nothing I haven't survived so far and that I will be laughing about this problem in five years and think that it was child's play.





Connect with Lucy

Connect with Paul

Resources relating to this podcast:

In this podcast Lucy talks repeatedly about the high expectations she has for herself and for her team and that, when people come to work at Mazuma, she expects them to excel.

When she sets the targets for the business, she mentions that some of her team, perhaps due to a lack of confidence, will not believe they are capable of achieving the things that she believes they are, but that the targets are achieved every single time.

She encourages her team to reach the edge of their learning, trust the process and take a leap of faith.

You and your firm achieve more only when your skills improve. To improve skills and expertise we must practice at the edge of our current skill level.

Click the button below to read the Business Breakthrough report called 'Repeatedly Reach for Success' and discover the importance, when it comes to growing and developing, of working at the edge of your skill level and learning, and how you should not be frightened of taking that leap of faith.

Towards the end of the podcast, Paul and Lucy talk about books they have recently read. Here are the links:

Lucy and Paul discuss the importance of her team and the high standards she sets for them. She wants them to work hard, push themselves and feel a real sense of achievement. She aims for a highly motivated, busy team with targets that stretch them but which are achievable.

Paul mentions a Sirota study that focused on the fine margins between high morale and low morale and that identified 3 sources of enthusiasm - fairness, achievement and camaraderie.

It’s the firms who fail to build a sense of fairness AND build a sense of achievement AND build a sense of camaraderie that fail to tap into the profitable gains of enthusiasm.

When you get it right, the impact of successfully satisfying all three of the core needs delivers an exponential payoff.

Click the button below to read the Business Breakthrough report 'Profitable Enthusiasm' and discover more about the Sirota study and how building a sense of fairness, achievement and camaraderie in your firm will help you tap into the enthusiasm, drive and motivation of your team.

Paul mentions a recent podcast with Jolawn Victor, VP and GM, Intuit QuickBooks UK, and how she talks about vulnerability being a large component of trust and trust being a component of leadership.

To listen to that podcast, click the button below.

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