The Tax Attic with Jerry Coon – July 16, 2009

Jerry Coon, Enrolled Agent

Jerry Coon, Enrolled Agent

What makes a professional a professional

Last week I attended a convention sponsored by Money Concepts, the financial planning company that I am associated with. The convention was held in Asheville, North Carolina, which is a sightseer’s paradise. Of course, I have to attend educational classes, but there was time set aside to enjoy the sights and sounds of the Asheville area. This included visiting the famous Biltmore Mansion and the Asheville Brewing Company, one of the micro-breweries in the area.

Deb and I also took a side trip across the Blue Ridge Parkway to Cherokee, N.C. In case you haven’t been across the Blue Ridge Parkway, it’s one of the curviest roads I have ever seen. On one side of the road is the straight-up side of a mountain and on the other side of the road is a straight-down drop-off. There are innumerable scenic pull-off spots to gaze at the mountains and take some wonderful pictures.

 While in Cherokee, we visited a reconstructed Cherokee Indian village. Cherokees were the original inhabitants of the North Carolina area but they were forcefully transplanted in the 1830s from North Carolina to Missouri and places west. Some of the descendants have since moved back to the Cherokee area and purchased the land, now known as the Cherokee Indian Reservation, back from the federal government-good for them. For what the federal government did to their ancestors, I hope they got it cheap.

From Cherokee, we crossed over the Great Smoky Mountains, stopping at the spot where the Appalachian Trail crosses over the highway. I have heard of people hiking the Appalachian Trail, of course, but I wasn’t really sure of what the Appalachian Trail would look like. We have the White Pine Trail here in town so I presumed it would probably be something similar to that-wrong. It’s a lot narrower than the White Pine Trail, it’s a lot rockier than the White Pine Trail, it’s a lot muddier than the White Pine Trail, it’s a lot longer than the White Pine Trail, it’s a lot steeper than the White Pine Trail, and it’s not paved either. It looked like a lot of work to hike the Appalachian Trail.

All in all, it was a good week. Denis Walsh, president and CEO of Money Concepts, always ends this conference in the same manner his father and founder of Money Concepts, Jack Walsh, did. He goes over the five things that make a professional a professional. In this case, Denis and Jack are talking about financial-planning professionals, but I believe these five observations apply to many vocations.

The first observation Denis made was that professionals are defined as having an enormous conviction of success. They know they are going to succeed at whatever they are attempting to do. They have the ability to make the people they are working with feel better about themselves.

Denis’ second observation is that professionals like money. They like earning money, spending some and saving some. They like the things money allows them to do, but they are also generous with the money they make. Professionals, however, do not let earning money control their lives. They have a balance between business and personal.

The third item that makes a professional is a top capacity to work. Professionals are able to work by the objective, not necessarily by the hour. They can work long and hard should the occasion to do so arise.

Denis pointed out that the fourth item that makes a professional a professional is that he or she is a student of the game. The professional never stops learning. The opportunities to learn are great in the tax and financial-planning industries, but continued learning applies to most occupations.

Finally, Denis pointed out that professionals have a vision-a dream of what their future will look like. As an example, Martin Luther King didn’t say, “I think if we can do this.” He said, “I have a dream.” That vision or dream sets the path the professional will follow.

As president and CEO of Money Concepts, Denis has the opportunity to work with quite a few top professionals. I appreciate him passing on his observations. There is much to learn from his pointing out what makes a professional a professional. This is Jerry Coon signing off.

Jerry Coon is an Enrolled Agent. He owns Action Tax Service on Northland Drive in Rockford.
His e-mail address is

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