Episode #332: David Brixey & Doug Meyer LIVE! – How To Build & Sustain A Great Partnership

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This episode was recorded in front of 150 of our closest friends, family, and clients in Dayton, Ohio.

Doug Meyer formed Brixey & Meyer alongside Dave Brixey with a dream to give clients a different way of working with their tax professionals. In his role as Managing Director, Doug serves as a trusted business advisor to Business Owners, CEOs, CFOs and Boards of Advisors, driving value and accountability in the following strategic areas: succession & ownership planning, strategic planning, owners agreement structures, compensation planning, family business advisory & issue mediation, professional management practices, mergers & acquisition strategy, and family charter implementation.

David Brixey formed Brixey & Meyer with Doug Meyer in 2002 utilizing his insatiable entrepreneurial spirit and his financial skills gained at Ernst & Young. He is also the co-founder and Managing Director of Brixey Meyer Capital, a lower middle market private investment firm.  Since 2008, Dave has been personally involved in investing in small business to lower middle market as well as venture capital.

Brixey & Meyer is recognized as a leading provider of accounting and business advisory services in the Midwest.

To watch this conversation you YouTube, CLICK HERE.

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“Doug is a moral and ethical giant. I admire and trust him completely.” – Dave Brixey describing his friend & co-founder, Doug Meyer.

Show Notes:

  • Why they chose to leave Ernst & Young 17 years ago to start their own firm:
    • “An entrepreneurial spirit that started early in my life.” – Dave Brixey
    • “We wanted to take what we learned from EY and build on it…”
    • “My wife encouraged me to go out and start a firm with Dave.  I reminded her I had a non-compete, zero clients, and a daughter getting ready to start parochial school.  She said I’m working nursing and I can work as many hours as needed.  She was the motivating factor for me.”
    • “It’s really comfortable to go into business with someone just like you.  But I didn’t want that. I wanted someone who was going to challenge me, stretch me, take me outside of my comfort zone, and that’s what Dave does.  We are total opposites.”
  • Where the competitiveness was created? — “My parents and their work ethic.  Being exposed to that growing up.  I admired it.  And I love sports.  When you approach everything as a competition, you find it to be more fun.”
  • “There is an unyielding desire to win. It’s shared by both of us. We don’t like second place. We don’t like to lose.” – Dave Brixey
  • How to co-exist as co-managing directors from two alpha, competitive guys?
    • “It starts with respect.  I love Dave. He’s my brother from a different mother.  It’s a balance and a tremendous amount of trust.  And giving each other the freedom to fail.  Let’s figure out our mission critical issues.  We don’t care about getting our way.  We’re going to make decisions and we’re going to screw up.  As a partner, when you partner fails, the first reaction is ‘I want to go pick him up.'”
    • “Out of mutual respect, we tried to make every decision together.  We realized that was inefficient.  Then we developed A, B, & C decisions.  A’s we did together, and the B’s & C’s we could make separately.  As we grew, it’s really become a scenario where there is complete trust and respect and ability to allow the other to do what they want to do.”
  • It’s a tough role to evolve from individuals “smiling and dialing” into leaders: “As the firm grows, the firm needs you in a different leadership role and that’s tough.”
    • “I had a board member say, what’s your important client?”  “Until you answer that question, my most important client is Brixey & Meyer, you’re not going to be a great leader.”
    • Asking for help… Seeking it out.  Finding people to be mentors.  “I read a heckuva a lot more now…”
  • Dave making the transition to Brixey Meyer Capital: “I was following my heart and have a partner who supports me.”
    • “And we’ve hired well and brought the right people on to the Brixey & Meyer accounting and consulting firm.  We brought on team members that were better, faster, and stronger than I was.”
  • Hiring:  Making opportunistic hires… “Our team members are our Brixey & Meyer family.” (22:30)
  • “I want to create an environment where you’re energized when you leave work… And you’re really good at what’s most important in life.  If you’re passionate and want to make an impact, you’ll do well here.”
    • “If we’re going to create a different culture (from the previous company where they worked), that needs to start with the expectations for our team. We took into consideration vacations, holidays… To create the right balance.”
    • “Work hard, play harder” is one of the mottos of the firm.
  • How they’ve dealt with tough moments?
    • The downturn in the economy (2008-2010) — “We were doing really well prior to that.  What followed… “We had one month where four big engagements fell apart.  Everybody bailed.”
    • “We recognized we had built an amazing team… People we didn’t want to lose.  So we took a 50% reduction in our incomes so that firm could make it through that tough time without losing our valuable people.”
  • What’s they key to a great partnership?
    • Having common goals — Make sure expectations and the definition of success are aligned
    • Respect the differences in your partner
    • Over-communicate — It’s a marriage.  “If I think it, I’m going to say it. I’m not going to stew in it.”
    • Offer and accept constructive feedback
    • “If you have an ego forget about it, just be a sole practitioner.”
  • What Doug admires about Dave – Risk tolerance, “takes me outside of my comfort zone,” “Today is the fact that he has really figured out how to maximize his strengths.  There’s nobody better at him in his lanes that I’ve met.  And his ability to say no.  That’s hard.”
  • The admiration and respect they have for each other: From Dave: “Doug is a moral and ethical giant. I admire and trust him completely.” 
  • The responsibility of being a job creator – “It’s fun, we’re making an impact.  It’s about giving somebody an opportunity to follow their passion and make an impact.”
    • “When I sit with someone and interview them to be part of our team, the toughest question you’ll get is ‘what do you like to do in your spare time?’ I don’t care what they say, but I want to see passion, energy, and excitement.”  You want somebody who shows a passion and that they care.
  • How they build lasting real relationships with their clients… The opposite of the transactional nature of the industry 
    • There’s nothing more satisfying than when a client calls and shares a success story they’ve had.  “Those things motivate you.  They motivate our team.  That’s what makes it fun.”
  • Early years?  “I was all in.  There was no option for failure.  You have to be all in.  There was not one day that I ever thought about doing something different.”
    • “When we started, we locked arms and we moved forward very decisively.”
  • Why they wanted to work with me?
    • “I thought he could add value to our clients, our team, and to me.” — Doug
  • What’s it look like five years from now?
    • “We get calls to acquire us all the time, but for me, it’s been awesome to have this experience.  So we have an succession plan for our employees to have opportunity for ownership in our business.  It’s not about the money, it’s about the income.  We will not sacrifice our culture.  We feel like we have a path to easily double/triple the size of the firm.  But we won’t grow if it will hurt our culture.  We feel we’ve done a fantastic job with the dichotomy of growth and culture.”
  • There’s a comment we made in the past, “if we’re content we’ve failed.”  That thought has changed.  We want to be content, but also want to grow…
  • “One lesson I’ve learned, ‘it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.’  It’s been a wild ride.  The future is all about growth.”
  • Use the “Get To Know You Document
  • Why joining The Learning Leader Circle is a good idea

Until you answer that question, my most important client is Brixey & Meyer, you’re not going to be a great leader.”

More Resources:

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Episode #300: AJ & Keith Hawk – How To Instill Work Ethic & Curiosity In Your Children

Episode #303:  General Stanley McChrystal – The New Definition Of Leadership

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