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Pink Headphones: Clarity, Power, and Accountability w/ Michel Valbrun

unsplash-logoMay Lawrence

Welcome to this epic-sode of Pink Headphones. We are joined today by Michel Valbrun. You are in for a real treat. I know many of you know him, but if you don’t: you will! I’ve had the pleasure of knowing him for a couple of years now and just get blown away because just when you think it can’t get “okay, now this is epic,” he goes and overdoes it.” Welcome Michel thank you for being here.

Michel

Thanks for having me, it’s an honor.

Berta

Wonderful, Wonderful. I’m so happy. So Michel is coming to us from just outside of Atlanta Georgia. He says it’s chilly today. We had really “Ug boots weather” today and scarves and sweaters it was in the mid-70s so for Florida that’s as winter as we get. So, Michel, welcome.

Michel

Thank you, thank you. Like I said, definitely an honor to be here. Super excited to be part of your podcast. And congratulations on the podcast! I know that takes a lot of work and effort. I know when I launched mine it was definitely a big undertaking so congratulations on that.

Berta

Thank you so much, Michel, for mentioning that from the perspective of the experience and, yes, it seems like so much fun when you say, “Hey, maybe you should do a podcast,” and you say, “Oh yeah let’s do it!” So that’ definitely a big deal. So, Michel, tell us a little bit about how 2020 has started for you.

Michel

Yeah! 2020 has been pretty incredible for me. Really for 2020 I’ve already been meeting some amazing people. I have some big partnerships in the works right now which I’m going to announce pretty soon. And really for 2020 I’m kicking 2020 off with the launch of my new book, “Prolific Profit.” So this is about maximizing profits and dominating the market. So yeah I’m super excited about releasing that. It’s kind of like my introduction to the world, you know? I’ve been posting, craving content, but this kind of shows people a little bit more about me, my personal story, and what I have to offer and what I’ve been helping my clients do, so I’m super excited about it.

Berta

And I didn’t give the proper introduction, since I get all excited. But I do want you to know: aside from a badass (I just like having people that are big visionaries, big dreamers, and big thinkers) – Michel is a tax strategist, a CPA by trade, he’s an outsourced CFO… just a financial guru. Now we’re going to add author and podcast host to that. Just an all-around great guy.

You deal with numbers, and sometimes numbers are seen as so black and white, so tell me a little bit about how you ended up in the CPA world.

Michel

Yeah, so it’s interesting because when I was younger I was really into art and I’m a big creative [type] and for me, part of my journey is that my father owned a tax practice in Miami. He was into taxes, but at that time I wasn’t necessarily thinking I would go that route. As I progressed and went through school and ended up going to college, I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur and own my own business. I remember my economics professor mentioning that “counting is the language of business.”

If you wanted to be an entrepreneur, you had to understand accounting and needed to know numbers. When I took the accounting courses, I ended up getting some pretty good grades, so I was just like, “you know what? Let me go down this route.” Since then, things just kind of piled on. I got into the accounting program, then I needed to get a CPA. Then I had the CPA and then they said I needed to work at one of the big four accounting firms. From there it just kind of progressed to the point where now I have my own CPA firm and I’ve been able to help small business owners, which I’m really proud of. I’m helping them save money on taxes and helping them grow their businesses and being – I call myself the people’s accountant – an advocate for small business because they’re the backbone of this economy.

A lot of businesses unfortunately end up failing before ten years and a lot of people – people don’t go into business to fail, especially not within ten years. [I’m] helping them and putting things into place where they can live beyond ten years and have something to either pass on to their children or sell it or whatever they’d like to do with it.

Berta

I think what’s beautiful is that even though you took the traditional route at the beginning to get set up, now you have your own firm. There’s so much heart in what you just described. I don’t want to just help them with their taxes and tax strategies and making sure that we level the playing field as far as them knowing what they need to know to help their businesses grow and to help their businesses continue to succeed. You’ve taken it to a whole different level. I want to talk about Prolific Profit for just a second, but before I do that – you’ve made it your mission to really be a stand for the success of your clients and small business-owners and just the world as a whole. The way that you take the stage – and I know that you do a lot of training – you started doing community service. You just wanted to empower people and be in service of people.

There’s just so much heart to everything that is going on in there. Tell me what drew you to this sense of it’s great to have a CPA firm and it’s great to have clients, but I need to take this to the next level because there are so many more people who might not come in the door and might not hire that right CPA. Tell me a little bit about why there was this move for more.

Michel

That’s a great question! For me, and my motto for 2020 and going forward is, “impact over income.” The more impact I can make on people’s lives and on businesses, the income is going to follow that but for me it’s really about impact that I’ve noticed, too, just being the CPA and being in the industry. For a couple of years now, I just noticed that, yeah, a lot of business owners are not being serviced the way they need to be. They have accountants and maybe CPAs that they’re working with and literally they speak to them maybe once a year during tax season. We know that businesses are still open past April 15th.

It’s not like everything shuts down after that so they still need access to someone. They still need to work with someone. And also working with someone that is proactively giving them strategies and information on what they can do to save money. Most businesses and accountants focus on the tax prep which is done after the end of the year and it’s really more reactive. There’s nothing you can do with tax prep. You can try to play around with the numbers – some people try to do that. One, that’s not the right thing to do. It kind of is what it is. But with tax planning, what we help our clients do is a more proactive approach where we’re helping them with different strategies, like, “Hey this is what you can do from a deduction standpoint… did you know you’re allowed to deduct this or have this retirement plan? Put your money into this insurance account…”

All these different strategies we help our clients with to help them proactively save money legally and ethically. That’s all the government requires. They require you to pay your fair share. As long as you do that, that’s all you need to do. There’s no reason to overpay and that’s what I’m finding with a lot of business owners: they are overpaying and they’re now able to take that money and either reinvest into their business or give it to their family or use it to save for retirement.  Really [I’m] just empowering business owners and giving them the information they need.

From an accounting perspective, [I’m] helping them get really clear on what their Key Performance Indicators are and then helping them use that to keep them accountable and grow their business.

Berta

That’s a big deal. I know the KPIs are great, but without accountability they’re of no use.

Michel

One hundred percent. That just reminded me that one of the processes that we walk our clients through – I talk about this in the book – is called the CPA Success System. The CPA in this context stands for Clarity, Power, and Accountability. That’s what we provide our clients.

Clarity is helping our clients know exactly where they’re at and where they’re trying to go. Getting really clear on what their goals are. Do they want to save money on taxes? Do they want to grow their business? Do they want to increase profits? Whatever it is that they want to do, that’s what we help them get clarity on. We walk them through that process.

Then we give them the P which is Power. Power is giving them in the information that they need in order to reach their goals and cross their bridge.

Probably the most important piece and the part that most people are missing is that accountability piece. Partnering with someone who can walk you through exactly what you need to do in order to accomplish those goals and then making sure that you are staying on track to hit your KPIs or staying on track to follow through with the different tax strategies that we share with you, so that’s exactly it. The accountability is huge.

Berta

What I love about what you’re saying – and this is very new to me because we have CPAs and we’ve worked with them for years – this seems very holistic. You’re working with them all year to keep them on track. I talk a lot about – when we’re setting goals with my clients and when I do workshops a lot of it is around goal setting – clarity. We call it the “why.” What you want to accomplish and why you want to accomplish it. Then from there you set the goals and then from the goals you set the metrics. But it’s funny because not last year but the year before last, I sat down thanksgiving weekend and went through all of my goals. I made a list of all my hits and misses; the goals that I hit for the year, the goals that I missed. But we’re in November. There’s barely any time to recover. And I remember when I was doing my training for my private pilot’s license, when we would go out and practice stalls. You take the plane, you turn up the nose so that the plane stalls – the engine literally shuts off. The plane starts to fall out of the sky.

It’s a maneuver that you have to learn to get your private pilot’s license. You have to not only do it when you’re doing your test, but you also have to be able to recover from that stall.

Michel

That sounds scary.

Berta

Yeah! When I started with my instructor Dave, the first day he says, “Just go into the practice area.” The first day with him, he makes me stall the plane. We’re at 3,000 feet. So at 3,000 feet, there’s time for him to teach me how to recover from a stall because I have 3,000 feet worth of space to – if I get it wrong – he can come in and teach me how to do it and take over and nothing happens. But if you’re practicing that maneuver at 1,000 feet, there’s not a lot of space to recover.

What’s very different from what you’re doing with your clients is that keeping tabs on them and accountability (which I know is so important), you’re giving them all the time in the world  to recover. There are not going to be any surprises come April 15th or March 15th the following year of what to expect. They’re going to know what to expect. They’re going to know. I think that’s a beautiful way of treating the business holistically. I think that really makes you different, if I’m not mistaken. I don’t know a lot of people out there that are doing it that way. You’re almost financial coaching them through this. Is that fair?

Michel

That’s a fair assessment. I actually kind of see myself more as a coach than anything else. We do the technical aspects. I could do that in my sleep now. But really I think at this point it’s more that advisory, higher level service. I think that’s what’s going to move the needle and really get them across the finish line and just get them to create and achieve whatever it is that they’re trying to achieve.

Berta

So if I asked you to tell me – for someone who’s starting in a business or maybe looking to scale their business and take their business to the next level… we’re in a new decade and so many people are on this fresh mode of, “This is going to be my decade.” What three things would you tell this business-owner from a financial standpoint that they really need to be paying attention to them.

Michel

The first thing that comes to mind is the CPA Success System. Being clear on what it is that they want to achieve and do. A lot of people come up with New Year resolutions and unfortunately sometimes they do it while they’re drinking or at the New Year party. Really sitting down and writing down what it is that you want to achieve. There’s definitely power in writing and really sitting down and thinking through exactly what it is that you want to do. Then it allows you and your brain to start focusing on what it is that you want to accomplish. Really being clear on your goals, creating intentions, and then also reviewing those on a daily basis, weekly basis, monthly basis. Just kind of keep it on the forefront of your mind. That’s the first thing I would recommend – clarity.

The power – continue to invest in yourself, getting the knowledge and information that you need. There’s a ton of resources. Right now we have access to a ton of things. We have access to YouTube, podcasts, where you can hear from experts and their feel on what it is that they need to do. Just taking a look at what it is that you can do from a tax perspective, like I said. Really taking more of a proactive approach on taxes and not waiting until the last minute, not waiting for tax season to save money on taxes. Whether that’s reading a book – obviously I have my book out, “Prolific Profit,” that talks in detail about the different things you can do from a tax perspective.

There’s another great book out there called, “Tax Wolf.” That’s a good book that you can read. There’s a ton of great books out there that you can read so you can start learning and being more familiar and more educated. You really don’t have to spend a ton of money to get at least some of that basic foundational knowledge there. The last piece is really accountability. Working with your coach. Either working with a coach one-on-one. If you can’t afford that, there’s also group coaching that you can do.

That’s how I met our mutual friend Robert. Rob! I was in South Florida. I’m originally from South Florida… left, then came back to South Florida for a brief period. I was looking for a group of highly motivated people; people who were looking to achieve more in their lives. I was struggling. I created my own mastermind group. I went on meetup.com and created Millionaire Mastermind. I was able to attract some really good people. Through me creating that event, I met our mutual friend Rob. Eventually I had the opportunity and the pleasure to meet you. Now I’m here. The accountability piece is huge; surrounding yourself with people who are looking to achieve more. There’s just a ton of negative information out there. A lot of people are just giving up on their goals and dreams.

If you’re able to surround yourself with people who are motivated, that’s huge. Also working with either a coach or a mentor or someone that can really keep you accountable to your goals. Sometimes, unfortunately for us, we’re willing to do more for other people than we’re willing to do for ourselves, so if you have that outside pressure then you can achieve a lot more.

Berta

Tell me a little bit about Prolific Profit, which is going to be released. We’ve got a little taste with the CPA Success System which is very, very powerful. But tell me how the book came to be, when you’re going to release, and how we can get the book.

Michel

Yeah, so Prolific Profit: How to Maximize Profits and Dominate the Market is really walking through in detail that CPA Success System. I have the book broken up into three sections, which is the Clarity, Power, and Accountability. Each of those sections go into detail on what you can do to get clarity. In the power [section], I’m sharing a ton of information about accounting and financial statements. A lot of business owners don’t even look up their financial statements. If they do, a lot of them don’t understand it. In the book, I’m walking you through exactly how to understand your financials, how to set KPIs, and then the last section is about accountability. How you can find the right tax advisor, the right accountant, to work with; the kind of questions you need to be asking.

I introduce the concept of the Profit Producing Professional, which is kind of more than just the CPA or accountant. Their main focus and their main purpose is not just the book keeping and just putting the numbers into a software in a computer. They’re really helping you increase your profits whether it’s through saving money on taxes… whether it’s through increasing your revenue. Identifying necessary expenses. Then it’s how to continue to increase revenues in your business. People aren’t taking advantage of the current clients they have and looking for ways to add more value to increase their revenue. I talk about different strategies like that. The book is actually – which I’m super excited about – it’s going to be released really soon. It’s going to be released on January 20, 2020, which is MLK day. I’m super excited about that.

Obviously, his message has resonated with so many people in this country. He was about unity, he was about us coming together and – towards the end of his life – he  was talking about financial empowerment; helping the community be more aware about increasing their business. Like I said earlier, small businesses are like the backbone of this country so we can empower small business, support small businesses. We can have a thriving economy and we all benefit from it.

Berta

Like you said, focusing on that dream, that clarity of not only aligning yourself but making sure you have the right people around you that are supporting that dream and that vision of where you want to be I just love that. I’m excited. That’s going to be available on Amazon?

Michel

Yeah, so that’s going to be on Amazon or you can go to prolificprofit.com. If you purchase the book through there, there are a ton more bonuses on there and you’ll be able to get it for a discount. It’ll also be available on Amazon. The physical copy, the kindle version, I also have an audiobook recorded. All formats and platforms are covered. I know I’m more of an audiobook guy – I like to listen to audiobooks as I’m driving and working out.

Berta

Are you narrating your own book?

Michel

Not for this edition.

Berta

You have such a great voice! Come on!

Michel

Not for this edition, because I mean it’s just super time-consuming. But there’s going to be an updated, revised edition probably next year. I’ll be doing the full narration. I did get an amazing narrator who has done a ton of books. His voice sounds awesome.

Berta

I know how the book is really going to help us, but when you began the process – there are so many people out there who have a book inside of them, they have great stories and great expertise and the thought of writing a book is so daunting to them. How did it start? When did you make the decision? Between decision and publishing… we’re a week and a half away. What was that like? What did you discover about yourself? What happened that was conducive to helping you succeed in getting that book published?

Michel

I knew I wanted to write a book. Everyone wants to write a book eventually one day in their lives. Two years ago I was just like, okay, I’m really going to write a book, I’m going to get it done and just kind of get myself to getting it done. I had writer’s block. I just kept trying to make it perfect. I really struggled with it. I was inconsistent. During the past year, I was focused on trying to create a big impact on small businesses. I was doing a lot of learning – a lot of training. I was getting amazing results. I went to an event and a conference in September in Los Angeles. There’s a rapper I’m really into named Nipsie Hussle. He passed away. He spoke a lot about financial empowerment and he had a memorial in Los Angeles.

I saw the memorial and I saw he had a tattoo on his face and it said ‘prolific.’ Something about that word prolific really moved me and touched me. The book started flowing through me. I started in mid-September and finished it in October. It was just non-stop. All the experiences; everything I went through in life; everything that I helped my clients with – all of it just started flowing through me.

Once you make a decision and you commit to something it’s just like you can get it done. It took me two years and I started the book from scratch. I didn’t use any of the content from the last one. Started from scratch and it just came to me and… yeah!

Berta

I didn’t know, just for everybody else, I didn’t know the backstory of the book. You talked about the importance of surrounding ourselves with the people that you want to make up our tribe. And you don’t know, there could be one little thing – it might be the thing that would not stand out to anyone else, and that was the one little nudge that just said, “Listen, I’m running with this.”

Great title, just so you know! I’m pissed that you took the title. It’s yours! God put you in the perfect position so that you would see what you needed to see and just run with it. I really love that. Thank you for that. See, people? It is possible! It all comes down to how badly you want it.

Michel

Exactly. The great thing about it is that once you start going through the process and just start thinking about all the people you can impact and how… once you get into it, it’s kind of like a boulder. The first few days it wasn’t the easiest. I was just super motivated. Once I finally got the first draft done… for those of you who are trying to write a book; your goal should just be to try to get as many words and as much content as you can down on the piece of paper. From there, it’s kind of like it just becomes super-easy. It’s almost like autopilot where it just starts flowing. You can go back and revise it. This is the thing that’s so exciting to me.

Right now, we live in an age where we have access to literally almost everything and anyone. It’s super-affordable. For me, growing up as someone who is a little more on the creative side, I would have to traditionally go through a publisher. I’d have to spend thousands of dollars to get it edited. There are resources out there, so I did a lot of my stuff for my book on Fiverr. You can outsource and you can send different projects to people who specialize. There are people on there who do book covers, people who format books, who do illustrations. I have things that I want to get illustrated like the CPA Success System; I wanted someone to illustrate that and put it in a visual form. I was able to hire someone to do that and then through that process just really getting the book done. I also found the person who narrated my book on Fiverr, too.

Berta

Thank you for mentioning that. A lot of times we think that the old traditional way of doing it is the only way. I don’t buy into people’s BS. A lot of times they’re coming up with a list of excuses so that they’re putting the cart before the horse. They say, “I’m not going to write it because look at all the obstacles.” But there are resources like you’re saying. Especially in this day and age with Upwork and Fiverr, there’s zero excuse. I think a lot of people who are out there maybe on the fence, wondering – it’s just no, no. Tell me something else: tell me you’re lazy and you don’t want to sit down and write the words. I am so excited. Are you doing a book tour? Do you have anything planned? What speaking engagements do you have coming up?

Michel

Yeah, so the first one I have coming up is actually in Denver, Colorado. I’ll be speaking at the Dish Network about taxes. I’ll also be talking about my book. I plan on doing a speaker tour. I’m still finalizing the details, but I do plan on doing a couple of big cities just to get the word out there and spread the message. More to come on that. When I do decide to share the information, it’ll be on prolificprofit.com. You’ll get all the updates and there’s also going to be bonuses and things that you can get on there as well. That’s where you can get all the information.

Berta

Is that the best way to find you? Is that your website or the book website?

Michel

That’s the book site. The best way to connect with me – I’m on all social media networks at Michel Valbrun. I’m on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube as well. You can find me on there. Twitter I’m not super-active on there but I also have a twitter account. Really that’s the best way to connect with me. Also Michelvalbrun.com. Anything I’ve told you or mentioned on the podcast that has resonated with you, that’s a great way to learn a little more about what I do, that’s my business website. You can see all the services and book an appointment with me to learn a little bit more and see if there’s any way that we can work together and any way I can help you out with your business.

Berta

Please look him up! I follow him. Sometimes, I’ll be like okay, I need a little bit of inspiration here. Let me head to Michel’s page. I really encourage you to follow him on whatever social media platform is best for you. My prayer is that we’ll be seeing a lot more of you on YouTube. When are you in Denver?

Michel

Denver is going to be in February.

Berta

Okay. We have a big event coming up in the spring in the beginning of March. I was wondering if it was going to [coincide]. Listen, if you’re going to go somewhere and speak, Denver is pretty good. If nothing else, you can drive anywhere and have a beautiful view on either side of you. I know we’re going to be seeing a lot more of you. I’m excited about everything that is coming. I know the wave of what a book release can do and I know you’re going to be riding that wave as powerfully as you can and I know what an impact your book is going to be. So before we sign off, what is the best piece of advice you’ve ever heard.

Michel

The first thing that came to mind… my wife started buying all these motivational quotes and pieces for the house and one thing that resonated with me that just came to mind – what you’ve been sharing with me through all the nice and positive things that she said about me which I’m extremely flattered about…

The quote is “Don’t give up, you don’t know who you’re inspiring.” You don’t know who you’re inspiring and I think that’s something that you need to do. You talk a lot about you’re seeing me on social media and all this stuff… one thing that I want to share with people is if you have a message, something that you want to share, something you believe can help impact people – just go ahead and share it. Don’t be so concerned about the likes. People are watching. Clearly you can see here from this podcast that people do watch and listen. They may not tell you or they may not comment or like or share or whatever the case is. Just keep putting it out there. You’re inspiring someone who is watching. They’re getting value from it.

Berta

That’s a big one. It really isn’t about us. It’s about adding value and sharing. Thank you for sharing that. I am so honored that you agreed to come and play. I’ll be looking out for your book release (January 20th), and I’m going to be sharing this not only on the podcast but when we share the video and the blog of the podcast with your permission. I like to show you off and tell people, hey look, this cool guy is my friend.

I really am grateful for all that you’re doing. I know that your heart is in a place of service always and I think that that’s coming back – not that that’s why you do it – but it’s coming back thousands of times over. I know that this is just the beginning and it’s going to be a tremendous decade for you. I’m excited.

Michel

Thank you so much! I appreciate the opportunity to be on the podcast. Congratulations on everything.

Berta

Thank you so much. Say hi to your wife. Okay, folks, that’s it. We’re going to be looking out for Michel on all his social media platforms and for now, do good, be great, and go outside and play. Have fun!

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