Libman Tax - September 2019




A New Year Observance in Autumn What Rosh Hashana Can Teach Us About Business

On Sept. 29, my family will join millions of other Jewish Americans throughout the country to observe the start of Rosh Hashana, otherwise known as the New Year on the Jewish calendar. While it’s a time widely known for epic family gatherings, traditional (and delicious) meals, and sweet foods, the real purpose of Rosh Hashana is to ask for forgiveness for any wrongdoings committed the year prior. As a time set aside for judgment, remembrance, prayer, and penitence, Rosh Hashana allows Jewish Americans to seek out their family, friends, and acquaintances to determine if there is anything for which they need to ask forgiveness before they can move on to the new year. While Rosh Hashana is typically associated with private relationships, in my preparations this year, I’ve been thinking a lot about its place in the business setting. Just like Rosh Hashana is all about relationships, so too are businesses. Whether you’re working closely with clients, other businesses, or both, you are constantly building relationships. And, just as you might make a mistake in your personal relationships you have to acknowledge and apologize for before you can move forward, you have to do the same in business. If a client is upset with you, rather than go on the defensive, you should stop and consider what you might have done to instigate it. Maybe you ignored an email or maybe you made a joke that bothered them. In most situations, if a client or business is upset with you, you can probably narrow down a couple reasons why they feel wronged.

Even if you can’t pinpoint an exact reason, it’s important to allow the person lodging the complaint to feel safe doing so and you acknowledge their frustration thoughtfully. Start by apologizing, and then ask: “What went wrong?” Then follow with: “What can I do to make it right?” I know it’s much easier said than done, but, if you set aside your anger, retaliation, and pride, you’ll end up saving lots of business in the long run. What’s more is that, when it comes to business, usually your harshest critics are the ones who will give you the most honest feedback, and, in turn, offer you the most opportunity for growth. It’s kind of ironic when you think about it, but it’s 100% true. Whenever I’ve sat down with someone who feels they were wronged by me, I’ve found they were much more willing to talk about my mistakes and provide suggestions on how I could avoid them in the future. Sure, the criticism can be difficult to take, but it’s a much better business tactic to seek out ways to improve from your dissenters than only give attention to clients who think you are great. To make sure I practice what I preach, I will set aside some time this month to reach out to my own clients to check in and ask for opportunities for improvement. I encourage you, whether you are Jewish or not, to consider doing the same. Let’s enter the new year with a clean conscience and strategies to help us grow, both as business owners and human beings.

-Adam Libman

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