Episode 37 - Graham NashDon't 'pneumonia' about your working hours, unless you're willing to talk work life balance. We're making conversations about family count!
Graham Nash, BusinessWise Accountants
Making Conversations about Family Count!
“It’s very much a mindset shift that sometimes required.
And then it just clears the mental fog.
And then people are in a position to say, ‘right, okay, let’s interrogate every aspect of the business.
We don’t care how it makes us look let’s see what we need to do and turn over every stone to find how we can improve things and how we can reduce costs without cutting into the muscle and flesh of the business.’
But also how can we take opportunities? Because there’s always opportunities that are not being taken advantage of.” – Graham Nash, Making Conversations Count – Episode No. 37.
Graham has worked in many fields over the years and the one common denominator that links his roles has been helping business turnaround.
Graham puts family above all things after a very close call.
A doting Dad to three small children, he shares how his wife suffered post-pregnancy and how one child needed specialist medical care.
Whilst he was worried about all this he was also the owner of several successful businesses.
In this conversation, Graham shares how he learned the hard way about how he had to learn to put himself first after some shocking news…
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Full Episode Transcript
Making Conversations Count – Episode Thirty-Seven
July 1st 2021
Wendy Harris & Graham Nash, Business Wise Accountants
00:01:12: What’s new Wendy Woo?
00:02:54: Shout outs
00:03:48: Graham’s help
00:06:48: Turnaround mindset
00:10:07: A problem shared …
00:13:07: Redefining the goals and reigniting the passion
00:14:42: Graham’s pivotal conversation
00:18:02: Evolve and adapt to survive and thrive
00:19:20: Work/life balance
00:21:23: Disney lessons
00:22:46: Final conversation
Wendy Harris: Who has surprised you the most by turning up with a real, real treasure to help you in your business? Go on, think about it, I know there’s somebody that you really really didn’t expect that out of the blue just did something amazing to help you. I’m going to say please listen to today’s episode, because that one person for me recently this year, in 2021, was Graham Nash, when he helped me and he introduced me to Dr Ivan Misner who’s a previous guest.
So, I’m introducing Graham Nash today as the most helpful, probably the most connected connector of all time, that helps people businesswise. In this episode we’re making conversations about family count.
What’s new Wendy Woo? You might want to check out another podcast where I was guest recently with Andrew Stotts and the show’s called My Worst Investment Ever:
“Andrew Stotts: Doing just a little bit of homework goes beyond 90% of the sales calls that people probably get, maybe 95%.
Wendy Harris: Certainly LinkedIn, I don’t know about you and the listeners, but I get messages, DM messages I’ve connected. Somebody’s in a similar space and I’m a big one for collaboration and partnership, because I think that the more you know about people, the better you can help your customers and put them in touch with the right person for the right job, okay, so there’s my logic. I will openly connect with somebody if I can see a synergy and then all of a sudden, I get this great big, long DM where they’re pitching to me and they’re saying, “Do you need more sales? Can we help you get more business?” You’re kind of like, “Hang on a minute, read my details”.
Andrew Stotts: It’s just this shotgun blast.
Wendy Harris: Spray and pray doesn’t work, so I would always use the analogy, fish with a spear.
Andrew Stotts: That’s a good one, I like that.”
Wendy Harris: Yes, there’s a little glimpse of a mistake that was made with some savings about 16 years ago, but do you know, I’m always one to look for the silver lining, because if I hadn’t have done that then I would be doing this now and getting reviews from Woolfie in South Africa; she really enjoyed David Smith’s episode. This is what she said: “What a treat. Faster than a taxi. What a pleasure to listen to a young man who has achieved so much from an age of 6. Thanks for sharing his story, Wendy. I wish David all the best for the Tokyo Olympics, nothing can stop him now”. I think you’re right, Woolfie, nothing’s going to stop Smithy.
I think everybody will agree that sometimes being a business owner, entrepreneur, working for yourself, whatever you want to call it, is really hard work and sometimes family suffers.
Graham Nash: I try my best. It’s one of those things where if you can help people and it doesn’t really matter how early it is in the relationship, if you can help them, I am a big believer in do help, because best foot forward is always the best way to start a relationship, because then people can see how open and the opportunity to collaborate together. I think that’s a key one for me.
Wendy Harris: You did shock me, because it was a Saturday night and I remember sitting on the sofa and my phone was pinging and my husband always gives me that look of, “You’d better not be working now”, and I was like, “It’s a private message, it’s okay”. It was you going, “If I can do this for you, would you?” I thought you were joking, I thought you were pulling my leg because it was a Saturday night, and you were not at all.
Graham Nash: No, and the thing is that from my perspective, the reason it had to wait till then is because I had to be certain that it was a real opportunity. I didn’t want to be giving you false hope, I needed to make sure that it was actually a viable offer and that I could actually follow through on it, which is another key aspect, whereas it’s good to under-promise and over-deliver wherever possible.
Wendy Harris: You held my hand, even when we had a little hiccup, which at the time if you remember was not a hiccup at all, it was like the end of the world for me; so I could only thank you Graham for everything that you’ve done, and we should put the listeners out of their misery and tell them what it is you did to help me.
Graham Nash: I was in the fortunate position where I’d been involved with the BNI network and as part of my give-back, I help other groups within BNI and as part of my role, I get to sometimes go on certain events. And at a certain event, I met a certain person called Dr Ivan Misner, and he’d put an offer out there and said that if you know people who want to talk to me and if they’ve got a radio show or a podcast, then I’m absolutely happy to talk to those and happy to answer questions that they’ve got.
I’d just had a conversation with you the week before and you were telling me that you were doing a podcast and obviously, you’d built up your confidence in me for you, I thought, “Well, this is a great opportunity to make something happen for a good guest on your show”. I contacted him, asked him if he was open to that. He said, “Absolutely, put me in touch”, and the rest is history really.
Wendy Harris: I’ve got goosebumps just thinking about it again, it was just a brilliant thing for you to do. Really pushed me out of my comfort zone as well, because talking to people that you know is easy, talking to the people that you’ve gotten to know really well is even easier, and talking to strangers is something that I do in my day job all the time. So, it just goes to prove that you never know where a conversation will lead. I’d put it out there that I wanted it to be a guest show where we could share things, for people to learn from others’ experiences.
Of course, I’d gotten to know you better through that as well, Graham. I know that some of the things that you’ve done for businesses has been to turn their business around, hasn’t it?
Graham Nash: Absolutely, I’ve been involved with business turnarounds since 2006, so I’ve got a wealth of experience of seeing how you can turn the challenging and distressing times into productivity and a sustainable business again. So, from that perspective. that is a big part of how I’m wired is, “How can I help? How can I fix things?” Naturally, I was drawn to that profession but also with my current offering of how I can help people and especially from what we’ve been doing through the pandemic of how we’ve been helping businesses, it’s a big part of my life.
Wendy Harris: Yeah, business turnaround, let’s just pick up what that actually means because historically, in an old-fashioned world, you would think that that would be a bean counter, coming in and auditing and slashing and cutting back on people and services and trying to make every penny stretch as far as it possibly can. Yet, from the conversations that we’ve had, Graham, you’re more about the people-focused, making sure that the people that are in the business are in the business for the right reasons and doing the right job. That in itself has got to be led by being able to have difficult conversations as well.
Graham Nash: I think you’re right; I think from my approach, a key word for me is integrity and from that, you’ve got to look at not just the structural integrity of the business, but you’ve actually got to look at the kind of integrity of the person’s mindset as well. If they feel like they’re trapped in the business as a caged animal and the business owns them, then they’re probably not very well equipped at that point to turn things around on their own.
So, from that perspective I think it’s very much a mindset shift that’s sometimes required and then it just clears the fog, the mental fog, and then people are in a position to say, “Right, okay, let’s interrogate every aspect of the business, we don’t care how it makes us look; let’s see what we need to do and turn over every stone to find how we can improve things and how we can reduce costs without cutting into the muscle and flesh of the business, how can we take opportunities, because there’s always opportunities that are not being taken advantage of?”
From that perspective, that has enabled me through my different business ventures, from running my own insolvency practice to running a consultancy, the Business Turnaround Consultancy; and even into my other ventures such as the industrial supplies business, which focuses on the maintenance costs of a business, as well as the accountancy practice, which again looks at the numbers and shows that there’s a financial sustainability involved for a business; whether it’s at the beginning of a start-up of business of whether it’s a fully-fledged established profitable business or whether it’s slightly in decline and maybe not so profitable or even making a loss. There’s lots of different ways and that’s how my skillset and obviously, my other partners around me, plug in really nicely to help businesses.
Wendy Harris: That leads in quite well really that from doing one thing, you identify there’s a solution somewhere else and being able to not lay blame; and I know that certainly as a small business owner myself, sometimes it’s not by design that I find myself in certain situations, it’s more by accident because you can get carried away with the doing on the day-to-day, that you become engrossed in what’s going on and not be able to see the bigger picture. So sometimes, you just need that conversation with somebody else to help you see clearly.
Graham Nash: Absolutely, and I think it’s having that objectivity of being able to say, “Well, let’s have a look at this, we just need the facts. Now what we’re going to do is we’re going to look at the next element and how can we improve that?” So, it is almost like taking the passion that people have got for their business, but bottling it up and using it sparingly where you need it to improve things. Also, stopping it from polluting other areas of the business sometimes, because people and business owners can be their own worst enemy on occasion if they let their emotion and their passion spill over and not be as productive as what they can do.
Sometimes they need to cut that off and say, “Right, okay, I’m not going to do that because that’s what I’m not very good at. I’m going to do what I’m really passionate about and that’s how we can drive the business forward”.
Wendy Harris: Yeah, business owners do take everything very personally. The cost of something is their money, isn’t it, because it’s what they’ve worked for. I know there’s a different mindset with employees and I’m not saying that all employees follow that path, but they tend to be more logical in their thought processes don’t they, because they’ve got a remit.
Graham Nash: There’s that certain clear line of what they should be doing and what they shouldn’t be doing and also what they should care about and what is probably outside their remit. From that perspective, I’ve always found it very useful to be able to go into a business and ask the questions; say, “How are things? What’s happening? What’s your challenges?” because from that, you can quite quickly identify areas of the business that aren’t getting the due attention, or it’s sapping too much energy from the business owner which is again holding the business back.
I think sometimes as a business owner, people can think that they are just an island and sometimes people in leadership positions and owners of businesses sometimes feel that they’ve not got the option of then reaching out to another entity to ask for, “What do you think about this?” or, “Do you think I should do this?” or, “I’m having a wobble, I need a break”. I think that’s where we do really come into our own, because we can absorb that pressure, we can absorb that stress and strain but also, we’ve got that emotional intelligence and that detachment from the situation enough where we can say, “Well, let’s break it down, it’s not as bad as what you might first think”, and there’s lots of opportunities of how we can improve things. So, from that perspective it can work quite well.
Wendy Harris: Redefining the goals and reigniting the passion, that’s what comes to mind. When you run a business yourself, you have that understanding of empathy anyway, don’t you, that there’s life outside of work, there’s family, there’s extended situations that can all encroach on us. We’re going to be talking about the COVID situation for many years to come, but we have to work with what we have and try and take as positive approach as we possibly can.
Graham Nash: I remember in 2009, when I first set up my first business, we were talking about the recession, but it wasn’t bringing every business to its knees; we had our best year in 2009 and 2010. It’s looking at the opportunities and how you can adapt, and then I think if there’s two key words that I think that you need to live by, it’s probably the integrity, which is the next right choice. I teach that to my children; I’ve got three children and that’s what we teach the children is you can only make the next right choice. If the next right choice might cost you a little bit, so be it, because you will get to where you want to be and also, you will build up a bank of allies and friends that actually know that you’ll do the right thing with anybody that they put you in touch with.
So, you make yourself easy to make an introduction to and also, I think my perspective of looking at how you can improve the business, there’s always a solution. There is always a solution, and it doesn’t matter how good or bad, there are always opportunities out there.
Wendy Harris: I ask everybody to come on the show to share with me a pivotal conversation that they’ve had that created a turning point in their life or career. So, Graham, how long did it take you to scratch your head and think of this one?
Graham Nash: Probably about seven seconds, I think.
Wendy Harris: You didn’t have a choice, there wasn’t lots of them popping in your head for you to go, “Now, which one will I talk about?”
Graham Nash: There’s been lots of key moments, there’s been lots of phrases and statements that I can offer saying, “They’ve made a big impact on my life”, but there’s one that will always be everything else and that was when the doctor said to me, “We’re just worried about you, Mr Nash, because your fingernails and your lips are blue. We don’t think you’re getting much oxygen inside you”.
Wendy Harris: It wasn’t the kids drawing on you then?
Graham Nash: Not this time, that’s one of the other 17 times.
Wendy Harris: How did not notice that yourself, that you were discoloured in those places?
Graham Nash: I didn’t notice that myself because I was focusing on my family and also, I’d got that many distractions, I’d got that many plates spinning, I literally didn’t have time to even check myself and it was a big wake up moment. One of my sons, Jacob, he was poorly, he was in and out of hospital. My wife was suffering with what we now know to be a slight bout of post-natal depression, and we’d got a two-year-old little boy as well as his younger brother, Jacob, who was in the hospital, and I was running a business.
I was running a business with lots of people. It was more than a full-time job; it was a job and a half, and so I was trying to keep up everything and then I thought I’d give my wife some extra rest — I say “extra rest” she’s not had much sleep since the first child was born, but from that perspective, I was trying to do my bit and try and do some nightshifts with Jacob. The thing was, my body was slowly in decline and I ended up with pneumonia and the doctor said, “Sorry, we’re referring you to the hospital”.
Wendy Harris: How old were you, Graham?
Graham Nash: 35, I was.
Wendy Harris: I mean that’s incredibly young, but I can certainly understand just how stretched you were. You were like an elastic band ready to just pop.
Graham Nash: I was doing too much, but the thing was my mind was willing and my body couldn’t keep up. What I did need to do is I needed to listen to my body sooner than that. What I would say is that it ensured that I made the right decision about my work/life balance. Obviously, I chose to leave the organisation that I’d helped found and built from 2009 and I left that organisation in between 2015/2016 time. It was a tethered exit, because I did some consulting back to the business, which was great for both parties.
I needed that family time, I needed the flexibility, so that’s when I set up and started from scratch with a part-time consultancy business. And also, I re-found my why, helping the small businesses and giving them big business experience but for very small fees, because I just needed enough just to cover the bills. It was the only obvious choice, it was the only obvious choice because you look at integrity and then you look at your why, and you need to have both of those in my opinion.
My why was my family. I was doing it for my family, so I could not allow my family to fall to pieces because I was at work. So, what I needed to do is I needed to adapt and evolve, and whether you’re an animal or whether you’re a business, it doesn’t make a difference; you have to evolve and adapt to survive, or you will just become what the dinosaurs were, extinct.
So, from that perspective, I had to evolve and I had to adapt, and this will make you smile. I had a social media post I put out when I’d launched my consultancy and in 2017, we’d got some bad snow, and I was advocating making sure that you could work from home and work virtually back in 2017. So, when 2020 came, I had one of the Facebook memories come up and it was three years ago, “You were advising people to get geared up and being able to work from home” and I thought, “I was advising that three years, I must have had a crystal ball”, I definitely didn’t though.
Wendy Harris: I’ve had a log cabin in my garden since 2010, so I’ve run my business from home 11 years now and I’ve been running it 16, so it is possible to do.
Great that you have that tethered consultancy, because I would imagine that was your financial security blanket. That meant that you could go at your own pace, because there’s one thing that we’ve got to be clear is when you start your own business, you tend to not have much work/life balance, because you throw yourself right into it.
Graham Nash: Agreed.
Wendy Harris: It gobbles up that life that you are really desperately trying to achieve. How did you balance that to start with? Did you give yourself clear days that you could only work on your business at a certain time; how did you do that?
Graham Nash: I decided that I was going to work Monday, Wednesday, Friday because I decided I was going to do the nightshift with Jacob, Monday, Wednesday, Friday so I’d be literally man down, recovering from pneumonia, but also getting a bit more sleep and I’d do that on the Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. We did have some money behind us because the business that I’d grown was successful and my wife is excellent at saving. She’s very good at saving some of the funds that we’d got, so we’d got some wool on our back, for want of a better word.
We did have a little bit of money behind us, and I also started with the consultancy. That lasted six months, but then what I did is I had the plan of the Monday, Wednesday, Friday I was going to hit it hard, I joined the BNI network the six months when the consulting was coming to an end. So, from that perspective the timing was quite nice. I managed to build up some really good local connections.
Wendy Harris: Incredible really that at 35, for the consultant to say, “Mr Nash, you need to look after yourself”.
Graham Nash: Yes.
Wendy Harris: Because that was a close call really; pneumonia is a life taker, isn’t it?
Graham Nash: It can be. I am acutely aware of my health. I’m acutely aware that I need to look at it and see the signs when I am overdoing it, because I throw myself into the world of business and there’s those nights where I just know I’ve got to have an early night.
Wendy Harris: Well, there’s nothing better than tucking yourself up with the Mrs, the three kids and Disney Plus.
Graham Nash: It’s normally in all one bed at the same time, or even with one child or a different child or on a mattress on the floor.
Wendy Harris: You find yourself in a random room, “I went to sleep with you last night then”!
Graham Nash: Disney is a big part of our life. There’s a lot of lessons to be learned from that brand, as a company, as a brand, but also the messages that they tell and the stories that they tell, because I think there’s a lot of moral compasses that we can gauge from that. Again, that key word of following your why and integrity kind of goes through all the stories. Like I say, particularly one called Cars and they’ve got a certain song it’s, “Life is a highway and you don’t want to travel it alone”. I certainly didn’t want to travel the rest of my life with missing anybody out of my car. So, we’ve got a big minibus now, so that has gone from a car to a bit of a minibus!
Wendy Harris: You wait till they get older, and you’ve got all their mates piling in as well; that’ll be interesting.
Graham Nash: Taxi Nash, I think.
Wendy Harris: Taxi Nash. I can see another business being formed there.
Graham Nash: Yes, hopefully I’ll not be the full-time driver.
Wendy Harris: No, I’d definitely delegate on that one. Well, Graham, you’ve shared some insights there into how we should be looking at business, how we should be in business and how we should help people in business too, helping others. That’s the key message to take away today. It’s been fabulous to catch up with you and to share your story with everybody. For the listeners, I always say how can people get in touch with you; but is there anything, any particular reason why they would want to get in touch with you?
Graham Nash: If there are people out there in business and they’re facing some challenges and they want some help dealing with those challenges, no matter how big or small, reach out to me.
Wendy Harris: Perfect, we’ll put the contact details of how to find you in the show notes.
Graham’s story is really relatable to many people that I’ve spoken to and I’m guessing that everybody has to go through it at least once. If you’ve done it twice, that’s a coincidence; three times, you really need some help. Please don’t ever get to the point of burnout where you put yourself at risk and those of your family.
Between now and the next episode is, all I’m going to say is, have you read my book? I had a review recently and it was basically that they were going to adopt my three-strike rule. If you can’t get hold of somebody and you’ve left a voicemail and they haven’t got back to you, please move on. There are plenty of people that are waiting to be introduced to your fabulous services. Head over to the review if you’ve enjoyed this episode, www.makingconversationscount.studio/review.
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