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The Monthly Vertican Newsletter - July 2020

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Issac's Essentials

It Takes a Little Bit of Luck

Isaac Goldman

Our industry is littered with leaders like me: uber-determined, homegrown, and self-taught. I don’t have any formal training in business, finance, or management, yet I lead a 30+ year-old company that’s growing in size and revenue every day. I’ve made it this far mostly by brute force and some trial and error. But that is no way to scale.

Recently, with the enormity of COVID being thrust upon the world, I’m compelled to take a deeper look at how I lead and invest both financially and culturally in my own company. I’ve recognized two overarching influences that have significantly realigned and reshaped Vertican in 2020: purposeful intent and a little bit of luck.

I’ve taken in a lot over the course of this pandemic. Like many small business owners, we’ve had some growing pains along the way; sure, that’s how we grow. I’ve also immersed myself in not only the business of collections but the business of learning. Being teachable and having an openness to guidance by the right people is precisely how luck finds you. You must intentionally clear the path for it.

Early last summer, while on a business trip, a fellow industry leader asked me a question that would change the trajectory of both Vertican as an organization and me as a business owner. He asked if we practice the Rockefeller Habits. Well, truth be told I was mildly embarrassed. I confessed that I didn’t know what he was talking about. He suggested the book Scaling Up by Verne Harnish.

So, I read it that very night. I literally could not put it down. I have read countless business books, but this one was pragmatic. It was more like an instruction manual. I bought a copy for everyone on Vertican’s leadership team. I re-read the book. I researched and contacted the publishing company. Long story short, six months and a series of events later (oh, and by virtue of a little bit of luck), I ultimately engaged with a company called Petra. Petra is special because they don’t just “assign a coach”; they’re a team of coaches and have an entire program surrounding a reinvention, if you will, of Scaling Up. Andy Bailey, one of Verne’s protégé’s, started the company to help small businesses implement the Rockefeller Habits, thereby guiding them beyond their “stuck points” and onto alignment, growth, scalability, and purpose.

As a result, we started an initial collaboration with Petra in January and by early March we began implementing hardcore strategies into the way we manage the business. We quickly began to pivot our business model. We started having daily and weekly meetings while realigning goals. We started creating priorities. And we started these habits at exactly the right moment.

You see, as soon as the pandemic hit, like many other companies, Petra too shifted their business. But not in a reactive way. They became a resource as opposed to just going virtual like everyone else. They shared their entire business network and their respective resources (i.e., COVID guidance, employee engagement, PPE and cleaning supplies access, government filings, SBA loans to create liquidity, etc.).

We went from, generally speaking, a bootstrapped entity to amassing over $1.9 million in liquidity. And I credit our ability to do that from our meeting rhythms and Petra’s transparency and community of business leaders. Much of the information they provided came from their previous coaching of clients. For example, one who specializes in small business lending supplied critical resources to help us navigate through the COVID convolution and set us up for financial success. As a result, our EIDL application was literally in first. We received our PPP money in the first wave. They gave us templates to enable us to analyze our P&L, receivables, etc.

Scaling Up book cover

Of course, all of this took a lot of work. Yet without these resources, and a little bit of luck (the Scaling Up recommendation, connecting with Petra, the pure timing of it all), I am not convinced that Vertican would have survived the first month or so of COVID.

As a self-taught, unpolished business leader, searching outside of myself and my team for expertise has been invaluable. Suffice to say, you wouldn’t let an accountant fix your roof. When it comes to legal collections and legal collection workflow, Vertican is the expert. Our clients come to us, they step outside of their teams, to put their trust and investment in Vertican. But when it comes to leadership and growing a business, we are not the experts.

Still, there’s no way I could write this and tell you that I had the foresight to hire Petra. I could never have predicted the significance of a simple conversation on a business trip, the series of events that would follow, and how the two would be intertwined.

But luck is a funny thing; it’s ultimately the kind of thing where you only find it once you set yourself up for it. In other words, if you put yourself in a position to win, you win.

Yes, Petra helps broaden the horizons of leadership and management styles, but it’s more than that. It’s branching out to having an open mind to a new way of doing business. There’s a lot more money, time, and clarity on the table than you may think.

Whether you are a seasoned professional or at the early beginnings of your career, factors like goal alignment, meeting rhythms, and measuring feedback are a few of the whys that make implementing the Habits worthwhile. I’m happy to share some of the most significant lessons that I have learned from Scaling Up and my work with Petra. To learn more about my experience, you can reach out to me anytime.

*I am not an affiliate or spokesperson for Verne, Andy, Scaling Up, or Petra, nor am I compensated in any way by them.
Product Stories

Workflow Automation Designer

“This could be a nightmare,” Kurt Sund thought as he flew home from client meetings in the spring 2019. A client he had just met needed an automated workflow for filing suits in 26 states. Within days, another law firm needed something similar, and then another.

Kurt realized that, even though Q-LawE already had a very powerful workflow automation engine (DDAS), there was something missing. The system needed to DESIGN as well as BUILD an entire set of workflow automations. If he could do this, the system could be duplicated, tweaked, and deployed quickly.

He knew the system needed to have a graphic interface so people could visualize the automation. It also must be easy to understand, powerful, and flexible.

Anyone familiar with legal collection understands that, in every lawsuit, there are no less than 50 activities. Each activity involves 20 to 50 line items that require execution and tracking. The result of each activity can alternate the path of the workflow. The math alone is staggering. Then multiply that by the number of states in which the firm operates. You can see why this could be a nightmare.

The Epiphany

On a very long flight home, Kurt began to make sense of his ideas. He thought, “What if I were to treat each action as workflow data, build a database system where all the pieces could be logged, managed, and linked to the activities within the software?”

Riding on the excitement, he came up with system design before the plane landed and put his team to work that very weekend. After hundreds of hours in team huddles, brainstorming, coding, testing, and more testing, they delivered the all-new Workflow Automation Designer (WFAD) this spring.

The Solution

In the past, spreadsheets and diagrams were commonly used to design workflow automation. Every step in the workflow needed to be coded into the system separately. For a firm operating in multiple states, this could mean 10 to 35 thousand specific line items. Once completed, each code needed to be tested and the processes documented to ensure that, when compiled, it matched the original spreadsheets and diagrams.

Kurt created WFAD to automate all these steps. It documents the workflow and tells the system what to do. WFAD not only allows you to build the information about what should happen, it also builds the rules in Q-LawE so all the workflow is triggered by the DDAS rules. This means that Q-LawE sees what activity is happening on the account, and then places it into the appropriate workflow, for example, bankruptcy or payment plan.

He recognized that the real innovation is from a compliance perspective. WFAD shows the actual workflow that an account moves from placement, to the lawsuit being filed, to default judgment, to garnishment, and thirty possible exceptions that can happen in between. WFAD can be linked to user guides or job aides to provide a step-by-step on how to do a specific job.

Currently, Kurt’s solution has been implemented in five states with another twenty planned. To learn more on the WFAD or to contact the creator himself, click here.

Vertican Town Halls

Vertican has produced 12 Town Halls since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. While we plan the next schedule of Town Halls, you can view any of the previous 12 for free. Just click here.

These Town Halls are part of Vertican’s Emergency Relief Stimulus Package. Click here to find out more.

Welcome to the place where we share an inside look at some of Vertican’s amazing team members. This issue of vConnect is pointing the spotlight on Stephen Greco and Maryann Savulich.

Stephen Greco

Stephen has been with Vertican since 2019, joining the company as the Project Management lead. In March of this year, he also assumed responsibility for the Technology Services Group. Stephen primarily focuses on leading the project management team, application and vExchange development, vendor relationships, along with many other corporate priorities.

We wanted to get to know Stephen both in and outside work; here is what we learned:

What sort of work did you do before joining Vertican?
Since moving from Canada in the mid-90s, I have been working primarily in business facing IT roles, both as an employee and as a consultant at AMS, Chubb, AIG, Mitsui Sumitomo, and Enstar Group. Then I took some time off to recharge prior to joining Vertican.

What is a typical day at Vertican like for you?
There really are no typical days at Vertican for me (that’s a good thing). It keeps things interesting. Every day brings its own challenges, but the goal remains the same: remain client focused and keep Vertican moving forward.

What do you like most about working for Vertican?
My dual roles give me an opportunity to work across several business areas with people from all departments, and with our clients and vendors every day.

What was your very first job and how old were you?
It’s a tie. I started two jobs at around the same time when I was about 12. On weekends, I would work for a family construction company and caddy at a country club in Toronto.

Who is Stephen after work?

Word on the street is that you play the guitar. Tell us about it and how that began.
When I was younger, my friends wanted to start a band and they needed a bass player, so I bought one and learned to play it. From there, I moved to guitar. I still play both. My ultimate goal is to jam with Nick Arcaro (fellow Vertican team member).

If you could learn anything new, what would it be?
Jazz guitar. In fact, I recently started a study program.

What is something about you that may surprise your colleagues?
Growing up in Canada my parents sent me to an international school. At that time, I read, wrote, and spoke 4 languages: French, English, Russian, and Italian. I also studied Chinese for two years.

What (else) do you like to do outside of work?
I have two baseball playing sons and spend a lot of time at baseball practices and games. Carrying on family traditions, I also like to cook for friends and family.

Do you have a favorite movie, artist, and/or book?
Old masters, etchings, sailboats, my children’s art, and antique furniture.

I don’t really have a favorite movie, but if I had to pick one I would say LIFE, because I get to act and direct.

Please share a favorite quote if you have one.

One man said to another man, ‘why don’t you wear a watch?’…
“…because sir, I am not a servant of time, time serves me…”

Last, did we miss anything?
An opportunity to interview a much more interesting person.

 

Maryann S. SpotlightMaryann has been with Vertican since 2019. Her key role with the company is as a project manager, working directly with clients on high level projects, resolving issues, and ensuring client satisfaction across all teams.

We caught up with Maryann to see how she balances her work at Vertican and life. Here’s what she shared:

What sort of work did you do before joining Vertican?

Prior to joining Vertican, I was a Business Analyst (BA) for seven years at a few different companies in various industries ranging from Tax & Accounting, Pharmaceutical Data, and Printing. In my last role, I worked in the printing industry and was responsible for working directly with the Sales team to improve their processes.

In high school and college, I worked as a banquet server and a server in a small family restaurant in Hoboken, NJ. I didn’t realize it at the time but working in the restaurant industry definitely helped to improve my customer service and problem-solving skills. It taught me to think on my feet, make sure my clients were happy, and the delicate balance between being assertive and charismatic.

What do you like most about working for Vertican?

My favorite part about working at Vertican is that we have a great team and outstanding teamwork! I can reach out to anyone here at VT if I have a question, need training, or need a fresh perspective on an issue or project.

Since I started working, I have learned a lot and have been brought up to speed on our products and processes quickly. Being in an environment that encourages learning makes it easier to ask questions, speak up about improving processes, and feel confident that your ideas will be taken into consideration.

What is something about you that may surprise your colleagues?

Something that not everyone knows about me is that I have my black belt in Tae Kwon Do! I began studying martial arts at the age of 12 and continued until I was 19. I was very lucky to study under an 8th degree black belt and I really feel that my time at my dojang helped to shape me into the person I am today.

Of course, I learned how to defend myself which is what I expected, but I also learned how important it is to carry yourself with grace and honor always. Above all else, the dojang I attended prioritized family, respect, honor, mediation, and self-reflection. I still carry those core values with me in my daily life. Although I do not practice martial arts anymore, I do still stretch and meditate every day!

What else do you like to do outside of work?

Being a mom to two young daughters keeps me busy most of the time, but it is always important to make time for yourself. I really love to walk and have some great trails right by my house. I am lucky enough to live just a few blocks from a large park. I also love to go to the beach and just be still and listen to the waves crash, it is so calming to me.

Share something exciting you did in the last 12 months.

In the last 12 months I joined Vertican! It has been great for me to dive into a new industry and I have also been working on a new skill set as I transitioned from a BA to a Project Manager in the last few months here.

Do you have a favorite movie, artist, and/or book?

My favorite movies are Titantic and A Star is Born. One of my favorite paintings is The Kiss by Gustav Klimt. My favorite books are A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and the Harry Potter series. I have probably re-read the HP series at least three times.

Please share a favorite quote.

“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching, love like you’ll never be hurt, sing like there’s nobody listening, and live like it’s heaven on earth.” – William W. Purkey

Software tips q law

List Cliplist Button

Many of you are familiar with the ‘List Excel’ button found in virtually all grids displayed in Q-Law, but there is also a lesser used button called ‘List Cliplist’. When selecting this button, all OURFILE numbers listed in the grid will be copied to your Windows clipboard. You can go into Cliplist inside of Task Manager and either build a worklist of those OURFILEs or use Processing Options to mass update the OURFILEs.

Click on image to view larger version.
List Cliplist Button

,WD=PDF

Adding the string ‘,WD=PDF’ at the 11th character in your Documents Tab Fields in Task Code Manager will merge and save your templates as PDF files rather than Word documents. This is useful if you do not want the merged document to be opened and edited later by a user. Please see the setup for Document1 in the screenshot below:

Click on image to view larger version.
WD=PDF

Software Tips collection Master

Remember my answer next time

Pop-up boxes sometimes have a field that says “Remember my answer next time” that can be used to always select an option.  For example, when exiting the program, a box will come up asking, “Are you sure you want to exit Collection-Master?” and you can choose “Yes” or “No”.

If you click the checkbox the next time you try to exit, you will not be prompted and will instead use your last choice.

Are you sure you want to exit Collection-Master?

If you want to have the prompt to reappear, from the main menu, select Tools > Environment > Smart Box Always Ask > On.

select Tools Environment Smart Box Always Ask On

After following these steps, the box will reappear and you can choose a different option or uncheck and be prompted each time.

Are you sure you want to exit Collection-Master?

This works for any boxes in Collection-Master that include a checkbox to remember your selection.

enter to win

July 2020 Contest

Give us your feedback for a chance to win!

By giving Vertican your feedback (just two questions!) on the vConnect Newsletter you will be entered into the July drawing. Three winners will be chosen at random.

ENTER HERE

Prizes

Fire Pit

Pop-Up Fire Pit – Portable Outdoor Fire Pit and BBQ Grill

Packs Down Smaller than a Tent, Two Carrying Bags Included, X-Large Grilling Area (Fire Pit, Heat Shield, and Quad-Fold Grill Included)

USB Turntable

House of Marley, Stir It Up USB Turntable

EM-JT000-SB Signature Black (Stir It Up), Belt Driven 2-speed Turntable 33/45 RPM with automatic pitch control and auto-start feature

Balance Board

FluidStance Balance Board for Standing Desk

Wobble Board for Under Desk Exercise (Vapor), 26 x 12 x 2.5 inches, High density polyethylene

June 2020 Contest Results

Congratulations to the three winners of the Brain Teasers Contest!

Kerri Bystrom, Machol & Johannes, Prize selection: Mini-Keg

Tom Marturano, London & London, Prize selection: Kayak

Russell London, London & London, Prize selection: Bose Speaker

And the answers to the June brain teasers: