Be kind to your brain and your brain will be kind to you.
Ed Mendlowitz answers some of the toughest questions practitioners can throw at him. He’s the right one to ask. After more than 40 years in the business – building his own practice, running the firm, and eventually selling it to a major regional firm, WithumSmith+Brown, where he remains a senior partner and consultant to professional services clients – he has the answers.
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Question: It is obvious you read a lot. How do you do it?
Response: It’s easy. I like reading. I like learning. I like trying and doing new things. And I recognize that I don’t know everything I should or could know. I sometimes get frustrated with everything I can’t get to.
Now, before I go further, let me give you some background. I always read, no matter how busy I was, and I am sure that when I was building my practice I put in many more hours a year than most of you do now. I never fell short of chargeable time and certainly spent more time than anyone I know in writing, speaking and new product development and client services innovation. I also had two young sons growing up, was involved in charitable activities and commuted for 15 years to NYC from NJ. If I could do it, so could you!
One incident that stands out is in my coming home an end of March night about 11:30 and my wife Ronnie handing me a book she bought by a new author that got rave reviews – The Firm by John Grisham, whom I had never heard of. Ronnie told me that from what she read and heard about the book, she thought I would like to read it. I looked at her like she was crazy and responded with something like how could you give this to me now – I am working around the clock, have unbelievable pressure, have the April 15 deadline looming over my head, plus I have to make sure everyone in my office is moving the work forward. She said if I can’t read it now, I could treat myself to it after tax season. Later on I glanced through the book and started reading it. I finished it in about three or four days – still not missing a beat at the office. If I could do it – so could you!
Work, especially at this time of the year, is intense. However we are not machines and need a diversion and break from the pressure, no matter how busy we are. We wear out. Exercise, walks, joking around, a day off and reading are some ways of recharging batteries. I like reading, and can get lost in a good novel. A half hour or 45 minute break works wonders.
Thinking back over my career, I remember always having energy and being excited about my work. I think one of the reasons is that I did not get worn out, or beat up by the crunch and mounds of work. I think it also helped that I loved what I did and thrived on the work. No, I am not a workaholic – if I was, I would never would have read anything and don’t think I would be able to still be doing any kind of work or writing this and sharing my experiences as I am now. If I could do it, so could you!
Tip for you right now: Pick an inane novel and start reading a half hour or 45 minutes a day. A suggestion is The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo that I just finished reading. Other books I recommend for tax season are: The Camel Club by David Baldacci, Now You See Her by James Patterson or The Wolf at the Door by Jack Higgins.
Is Ed on target? How would you answer this question? Have a question of your own? Email Ed here, or add to Comments below.