Blog|6 min

Change management and risk taking: The two secret superpowers of every accountant

Don Thompson
BILL, Growth Marketing Manager

Having a superpower is everyone’s secret dream. The ability to heal others, be invisible, fly or possess superhuman strength … how cool would that be? It’s the stuff of Marvel comics and certainly fun to think about. Realistic though? Not so much.

To avoid being a dream killer, let’s take reality out of the equation. The fact is that accounting professionals do have unique superpowers—whether they know it or not.

According to Greg Kyte, CPA, founder of Comedy CPE, and co-host of Drunk Ethics podcast and his Drunk Ethics co-pilot, Adam Broud—change management and risk taking are two secret superpowers of every accountant. And when accounting professionals tap into these innate abilities, great things can happen—like building a thriving, sustainable practice.

Change and risk are not always the most comfortable elements of a firm’s business model, but they’re essential for firm leaders looking to keep pace with a rapidly transforming industry and overcome all-to-common and superhuman pain points.

It’s time to dig into these two key superpowers and how you can tap into them to implement positive change in your firm. Get ready to gain valuable insights in this new addition to the Driving Digital Transformation webinar series!

Getting past learned helplessness and loss aversion

Before you can fully tap into your superpowers, it’s important to get out from under what Kyte calls learned helplessness and loss aversion.

Learned helplessness can best be described as a state of shutdown (or giving up) based on loss of control. Think back to the days of PPP loans as an example. Accountants had no control over the process, criteria, or timeline for PPP. They also had to keep up with constant program changes while helping clients navigate the application and forgiveness processes. Many were overwhelmed and eventually fell into a state of learned helplessness—despite their best efforts to keep up.

“Learned helplessness is when you’re unable to find resolutions to difficult problems so, eventually, you just stop trying.”

- Greg Kyte, CPA

Keeping pace with technology changes, tax code and compliance changes, and business model improvements alone are enough to send many firm owners into a state of operational stagnancy.

Loss aversion is another common symptom of stagnancy. Loss aversion is just what it sounds like: an aversion to losing. With risk taking comes the potential for loss, and accountants, wherever possible, will try to reduce risk in order to avoid loss at any level. The problem with this mindset is that if you never take a risk, you risk losing out on “the next big thing,” according to Kyte.

There’s no doubt that running a firm is hard but adopting a helplessness and loss aversion mindset is never the answer. Tapping into your superpowers is.

Superpower 1: Change management

The ability to adapt to change is most definitely a true superpower. Unfortunately, many professionals don’t believe they have this power…or that they’re good at change management in general.

Greg Kyte passionately disagrees with this perspective. “Accountants don’t realize what badasses we are dealing with change. We’re actually very good at it.”

While regulatory change is relatively easy to adopt (you know when it’s coming and that you have to do it), it’s the self-imposed (or intentional) changes that accountants tend to fear. Intentional change is far more nebulous. There’s no one telling you what to do; it’s up to you to take the risk and make change happen.

“Change is easy when you have someone telling you to just shut up and do it. Change is hard when you’re on your own.”

- Greg Kyte, CPA

So then … how can firms move forward with change management? What needs to be done to take control? Kyte and Broud offer an intuitive formula:

  • Anticipate it. With regulatory change this is easy. Within the tax and accounting profession, regulatory change is seasonal. You know when it’s coming for the most part. But the same can be true for intentional change.

    For example, operational challenges such as staffing or technology are ongoing, so they can be anticipated and should be supported by proactive planning. All too often accountants stay in a state of reactive change implementation. This creates chaos and keeps you in a perpetual loop of putting out fires.

  • Secure resources and competencies. Once issues are identified within a firm, the next step is to secure resources and competencies. Let’s stick with the common challenge of staffing here. Firms need to be assertive and consistent in recruiting efforts throughout the year. This will help immensely in snagging qualified professionals and ensuring you have the proper resources and skills inhouse to handle work year round.

  • Implement systems. According to Kyte, accountants are awesome at implementing systems. This can include anything from spreadsheets that map out standalone processes or larger operational system mapping that includes end-to-end workflow and tech stack standardization.

“If you don’t implement standardized systems, it feels like you’re handling change every single day and having to adjust for it. That will just wear you down.”

- Adam Broud

Superpower 2: Risk taking

Say “risk taking” in a room full of accountants and the result is often dead silence. Taking risks can be hard to sell, especially within a profession that’s founded on precision.

Broud stated: “That’s why I got into accounting. Numbers are a constant. You can count on them to never change.”

According to Kyte, loss aversion runs rampant across verticals in general—and is the natural enemy of risk taking. “No one likes to lose anything, so it’s easier just not to take the risk. But all that means is you don’t move forward.”

In other words, staying safe does not equate to winning.

Kyte and Broud understand the necessity of risk taking to build a thriving business. To help accounting professionals feel more comfortable with this superpower, they offer a few key benefits of intentional risk taking.

  • Passion: When you take risks, you further entrench yourself in the business you love. And the end result in enhancing operations and experience across the board for you, your staff, and your clients.

    Kyte believes that if you don’t take risks, it’s hard to maintain passion for what you do and those you serve. When you’re passionate, “... you want to push the boundaries; you want to move to the next level; you want to try something new.”

    Mapping out the things you’ve tried in the past (and, yes, maybe failed at) as well as the things that would get you excited again is a good way to rediscover your passion.

Risk taking is a way to rediscover the passion that got you into accounting in the first place.


  • Culture: Culture is made up of multiple elements within a business. This can include mission, values, client experience, connectedness, collaboration, and more. Culture represents the collective “feeling” of a business. A positive culture is one where people are passionate about their jobs, owners are engaged, and clients are highly satisfied.

    When you take risks to change your firm, you can start to change your culture—or, according to Kyte, change the story of your firm.

    Mapping out the things you’ve tried in the past (and, yes, maybe failed at) as well as the things that would get you excited again is a good way to rediscover your passion.

    For firms that have dedicated core values in place, risk taking becomes less of a risk because change is based on those core values. For example, if a core value is to offer the highest quality client experience, any effort made to improve that experience will be a win because you're staying true to your values.

“If you’re taking risks based on your core values, you can’t lose.”

- Greg Kyte, CPA

  • Profit: Entrepreneurial spirit is an absolute requirement to achieve profitability. Successful entrepreneurs take risks to move their business forward—otherwise, it’s easy to become stagnant.

    To steadily grow your business and elevate profits, Kyte supports the 85/15 rule in reference to risk taking. This is also known as “The Barbell Strategy.” The idea behind this strategy is to keep your “sure bets” (change that is low risk) in the majority and your “wildcards” (high risk/high potential) in the minority.

Your wildcards have the potential to blow up into the next big thing.


“In accounting, if you’re not taking risks, you’ll become obsolete and your profits will go away.”

- Greg Kyte, CPA

The wrap

While superhuman strength and the ability to fly may be the superpowers of your dreams, the reality is that tapping into your innate powers is what fuels business success. 

Change management and risk taking are those superpowers. When you intentionally make changes and take risks, you better position your firm to resolve common pain points and build a business that thrives (not just survives).

Change management becomes less scary when you follow a steady, proven path. This includes anticipating change, securing resources, and implementing systems. What accountant can’t master this? It’s all about structured, proactive planning—making accounting professionals ideal candidates.

Risk taking becomes less scary when you realize that the next big thing will never come if you don’t take any risks. When you also consider the benefits—rediscovering or bolstering your passion for your job, enhancing culture, and elevating profits—it becomes that much more appealing.

Tap into your secret superpowers to intentionally create the firm of your dreams. Who needs to fly when you love what you do?

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