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My Last Car

Last week, I used this space to tell you how Facebook showed me a 27-year old pickup truck that I could buy for the low low price of just $500 – and then made fun of whatever glitch in the algorithm that led Facebook to believe I would have any interest in buying it. (To be sure, there’s nothing wrong with gently-used pickup trucks – they just aren’t the right wheels for me.) Today I’m going to write a bit more about my history with cars and apply it to our business.

I still remember the first car I ever bought, with $1100 of my own money that I had made busing tables at Cincinnati’s iconic Taco Casa restaurant in the summer of 1980. It was a cherry-red 1970 Chevy Camaro with a small-block V8 engine and black vinyl interior. I loved the idea of that car, although the reality proved a little more difficult. The paint was faded. The vinyl was hot and sticky, even on (sunny) winter days. And it guzzled gas like nobody’s business.

Now that I’m older and my kids are (mostly) grown, I’m out of the sedan/SUV years and I can drive something fun again. My current ride is a 2020 Fiat Spider roadster. It’s a Mazda Miata chassis, assembled on a Mazda assembly line, with a Fiat engine (meh) and a Pininfarina-designed Fiat body (sexy). The dashboard computer tells me I’m getting 25.4 mpg in mostly city driving – some days the furthest I go is 8 miles to my son’s school and back. And gas prices are low enough that even when they spike a bit, like they did earlier this year, I don’t have pay much attention.

Last night, I was finishing up Peter Diamantis’s amazing book: The Future is Faster Than You Think. I got to the section discussing climate change and electric cars as a solution to the problem of global warming. I realized, as I was reading, that my Fiat will almost certainly be the last gas-powered car I ever own. It may be the last car I ever own, period. And, because I don’t get out very much, I started thinking about what that might mean for TMN members, today and tomorrow.

Diamantis’s book is full of examples of real world change – things that are happening right now, under our noses, with profound consequences for the way we’ll live and run our businesses. We have self-driving cars – right now. We have 3D printers that can grow human organs – right now. We have quantum computers with 5,000 times the power of the machine that beat Gary Kasparov at chess – right now. Google’s Talk to Books program lets you ask it a question about any subject, then reads 120,000 books in half a second and quotes you an answer – right now.

The Future is Faster Than You Think is a quick and fascinating read. (We’ll be reading it for the TMN Book Club in January.) It’s also scarier than anything you saw this Halloween season because it’s simply not possible to read it and believe that 10 years from now, you’ll be able to make a living putting the same old numbers in the same old boxes for the same old clients.

Fortunately, you won’t have to!

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Towards the end of the book, Diamantis discusses “Climate Change for Optimists.” The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that if global warming trends remain constant, by the end of the century humans will be living in a sweaty hellscape of climate refugees fighting for a shrinking pie of clean air, clean water, and other natural resources.

But, of course, things won’t remain the same. We already have the technology to meet the challenge – solar and wind power, battery storage capacity. We just have to push costs down to put them in even more peoples’ hands. On Capitol Hill, progressives are tearing their hair out because coal-state Senator Joe Manchin is blocking legislation to reduce coal consumption – yet the free market will accomplish that goal by making solar power cheaper than coal in far less time than the politicians could ever agree to do it.

The same goes for you and your business – if you’re smart. Things don’t have to remain the same. You have the opportunity to get ahead of the changes that are already heading our way. You still have time to transition out of the largely-doomed tax return business and into the tax savings business or even the multifamily office business.

Are you driving an electric car yet? If so, you’re part of the solution. But if you’re driving an electric car, and still thinking you’ll finish out your career putting numbers in boxes, you’re missing half the story. That Tesla sure is shiny, even if it’s missing the usual front grill that every other car needs for a radiator. But if you’re not “driving a Tesla” at the office, you’re heading for a crash that TMN can help you avoid!

The Briefs is a weekly column on marketing and business planning for tax professionals and financial advisors looking to better serve clients and grow their business. 

Edward Lyon

Edward Lyon

Edward A. Lyon is CEO of the Tax Master Network, where he's coached tax professionals to add planning and financial services to their business since 2005. Go here to join the network. Go here to upgrade your membership or discuss opportunities in financial services.
Edward Lyon

Edward Lyon

Edward A. Lyon is CEO of the Tax Master Network, where he's coached tax professionals to add planning and financial services to their business since 2005. Go here to join the network. Go here to upgrade your membership or discuss opportunities in financial services.

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