Matters Column

Getting the job done vs. dazzling with speeches

June 14, 2013
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The events in Washington and Lansing of the past few months are an example of how politics is nothing more than ordinary life going on in front of reporters and media. The comparisons between our governor and our president are the same issues we deal with in hiring, firing and managing people every day.

Gov. Rick Snyder has done an incredible job of correcting Michigan's anti-small-business atmosphere. If you are in business, you have dealt with CPAs. Snyder is kind of a CPA on steroids. Michigan has thousands of high quality accountants. Snyder simply took his accounting attitude and logic and applied them to Michigan's illogical business structure. 

What is extraordinary is that the governor was able to put himself in a situation where he could do something with the knowledge he had acquired. Sometimes, having the opportunity to be able to do the job is the trick. 

Nerds have great value. This one is doing what nerds do every day: He is getting the job done — he is just doing it in a public job.

Then there is the big one. Barack Obama is a classic; you meet people like him every day. In Texas, they say a man like the president is all hat and no cattle. He is the opposite of Gov. Snyder. The president is the supreme job-getter: The problem is he lacks the skills to do the job once he gets it. Nothing in his background ever indicated he had the capacity to act as an executive. He is a dazzling speaker. That's it.

Probably the best way to explain the comparison between Obama and Snyder is to compare the Civil War generals George McClellan and Ulysses S. Grant. 

McClellan was the ultimate incompetent, with a masterful grasp of self-aggrandizement. Grant was the classic competent leader with little concern for personal presentation. If you wanted a great speech and to allow the enemy to dominate your army, you would engage McClellan. If you wanted the enemy beaten into submission with little fanfare, you would engage Grant.

Fortunately for us, these men existed in a time that was not dominated by television and media. McClellan, like Obama, would have dazzled the public with his speeches and allowed his incompetent camp followers to achieve their own agendas. 

All the rest of the players on the grand stage in Washington and Lansing are people we could understand better if we simply viewed them in common terms. They win and lose just like everybody else. They suffer from the same imbalance of talent and weaknesses as the rest of us.

In your business, community involvement and personal life, you deal with all types of personalities. If you looked at all the characters on the national stage, you would find you know similar people in your everyday life. 

There have been few times in history when so much was at stake for the small business community, politically. 

Gov. Snyder has openly stated he wants to fundamentally change Michigan. Who would have dreamed five years ago that Michigan would have rid itself of the absurd Single Business Tax and become a right-to-work state? We will have to see what results, but the voice of small business has been heard so it’s up to us to make it happen. These amazing results are the results of an analytical nerd at work. Without fanfare or self-adulation, the job gets done.

President Obama has stated that he wants to fundamentally change America. We are going to have Obamacare. I don't think there are many who think that is going to go well. Then you have the IRS scandal — the scariest scenario I have seen in 45 years. I’ve always felt referring to the IRS as the American Gestapo was an exaggeration. Not now. The use of the IRS as a political force for the people in power cannot be exaggerated as to the danger it holds — not just for small business but for all Americans. 

So how did Obamacare and the IRS horror happen? A charismatic persona with remarkably persuasive powers but virtually no practical experience or interest in real life practicalities is blindly leading us to who knows where.

The next time you hire or promote someone, think about our governor and president. In reality, look at yourself: Who are you and who are the people you promote and put in charge in your business? If you have the communication skills and charisma of an Obama, hire people you can trust and rely on to keep you grounded to form your entity. If you are a nerd who would rather get the job done than talk about it, then engage advisors to help you communicate to the consumers the qualities you bring to the table. 

Technicians and communicators are both needed skills in business. If balanced and used correctly, the combination benefits everyone. 

Paul Hense is the retired president of local accounting firm Hense & Associates and past chairman of the Small Business Association of Michigan.

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