Jamming with Jason E110: When Are You Going to Stop Beating a Dead Horse?

Ever heard the expression “beating a dead horse?” It has nothing to do with animal cruelty, but simply means a particular effort is a waste of time as there will be no outcome.

Well there are some efforts #internalaudit continues to push that are also as big a waste of time as beating a dead horse, and in this #jammingwithjason #internalauditpodcast I’m going to talk about them in a very candid way.

If you find yourself doing these things, it’s time to STOP. You are wasting your energy and likely damaging the reputation and relevance of internal audit in your organization.

Listen in at: http://www.jasonmefford.com/jammingwithjason/ or wherever you enjoy listening to podcasts.

Jamming with Jason has interviews and discussions (jam sessions) relevant to internal audit leaders, and professionals in internal audit, risk management, and compliance. If you want to up-level your life and career you need to be listening each week.

Join the leadership program Jason mentioned in this episode here: https://jasonmefford.mykajabi.com/caebriefing

Transcript

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Jason Mefford: Welcome to another episode of jamming with Jason. Hey, my friends. It’s good to be back in a solo episode with you.

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Jason Mefford: Now, like I’ve been doing. Let me, let me just share a couple of comments that people have had one kind of came in here from Mark earlier.

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Jason Mefford: That said, I just listened to the death of traditional auditing and I couldn’t agree more with what you say internal audit has to reinvent itself constantly

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Jason Mefford: To better serve its clients. So thank you Mark appreciate that feedback craft. For those of you that are listening, send me some feedback like that as well. And you could be featured on a future episode.

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Jason Mefford: Now, before I get too much into today’s discussion. I figured I probably need to do a little disclaimer at the beginning.

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Jason Mefford: So some of you that might have looked at the title or thinking oh my goodness, Jason. Are you advocating animal cruelty or violence.

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Jason Mefford: And I am not okay. I have no use for violence in my life, or for it in the world. But in fact, it just comes from a saying that’s been around for over 100 years

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Jason Mefford: About beating a dead horse, and I know that some of you English may not be your first language. So let me just kind of explain that as well.

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Jason Mefford: It’s it’s a metaphor that really kind of describes a particular effort just being a waste of time.

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Jason Mefford: Because this is just as if you were, you know, trying to encourage a horse to move along. But if the horse is dead. All the encouraging in the world isn’t going to get it to move forward. Okay.

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Jason Mefford: And so, again, the, the analogy kind of comes back and it actually reminds me of a joke. There was, there was a couple of man and a wife and they have their wagon.

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Jason Mefford: Their horses pulling the wagon and the horses is kind of moving along, and then all of a sudden the horse stops. And so the man starts whipping the horse to try to get it to move along.

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Jason Mefford: And and is cursing at it and says, that’s one and you know after a little cajoling and whipping then the horse starts moving again.

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Jason Mefford: And they go down the road for a little bit further and then the horse just stops again. And so the man starts beating it and cursing at it again and says, that’s too. And finally, the horse ends up kind of, you know, moving along a little bit. They start going down the road again.

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Jason Mefford: And the horse stops for a third time, and the man just pulls out his gun and shoots the horse and his wife just, you know, what are you doing, how can how are we going to get home and he turns to her and he says, that’s one now.

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Jason Mefford: I think it’s funny. And again, it’s not about the violence, it’s about

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Jason Mefford: I wanted to use this as well as a way to describe sometimes how we act. Okay. And the fact that there are some efforts that internal audit continues to try to push along

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Jason Mefford: That are as big of a waste of time as beating a dead horse and so today we’re going to get in. I’m going to talk about some of these things.

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Jason Mefford: Because honestly when our friends. If you’re doing these things. It is time to stop stop doing them.

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Jason Mefford: Because you’re probably wasting your energy. And you’re likely damaging the reputation and relevance of internal audit in your organization.

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Jason Mefford: But let’s go back to this to this little joke. And in this happens often right is that, you know, again, when you think about that metaphor wide. Why would a horse, stop if it’s walking along

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Jason Mefford: It usually stops for a good reason. Right. Often it senses that maybe there’s a snake or there’s some other danger in the area.

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Jason Mefford: And so it doesn’t want to move forward right but but instead the human who’s trying to drive it as thinking. Come on, go, go, go, go, go. Right.

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Jason Mefford: And is trying to beat it into submission to make it continue to go even though the horse doesn’t want to go.

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Jason Mefford: Now often it is that way in our life as well. Sometimes we’re, you know, figuratively beating the horse trying to move something forward that is not in our best interest. Okay.

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Jason Mefford: And, you know, we’re convinced that we have to move forward. We have to keep doing this. And so we keep beating and we keep trying and we keep going and we keep going.

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Jason Mefford: But the problem is, again, you know, there’s probably some reason why that horse is stopping and so we need to actually stop and think about that. And that’s, again, you know what I’m, what I’m talking about today. Somebody, somebody else’s week

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Jason Mefford: On a social media post called me a myth buster. And I thought that was great because I love that show. Myth Busters on TV.

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Jason Mefford: And that we need more Myth Busters out there because

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Jason Mefford: A lot of the things that we believe are that we think are not actually true. And so sometimes, you know, again, it’s not for me to be

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Jason Mefford: To be mean or anything like that because I love you. I mean, that’s what, that’s why I’m here. But what I’m trying to get you to do.

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Jason Mefford: Is just to think and think about what is going to be in your best interest. Okay. And so again, really, that’s what I’m trying to do not advocating violence not advocating beating horses.

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Jason Mefford: But thinking about, because there are some things that you are probably doing that are not very effective and you need to stop them. Or you could damage the reputation and relevance of internal audit and we don’t want that. Okay.

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Jason Mefford: So let’s go ahead and jump in. There’s a couple of bullet points that I kind of wanted to go through and talk to you today about

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Jason Mefford: And the first one is, you know, you might have heard me talking about this before, but the fact that a lot of times

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Jason Mefford: You know, in internal audit, we believe that independence and objectivity are the biggest things. That’s what we have to focus on

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Jason Mefford: And so what I find is so many people focusing on independence and objectivity. Instead of focusing on relationships or their belief that if I develop relationships with people in my organization. Then I somehow lose independence or objectivity. Now, I’m here to tell you that

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Jason Mefford: Just because you develop relationships with people, does not mean that you lose your independence or objectivity. Okay. It doesn’t mean that

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Jason Mefford: They are not mutually exclusive. You can have relationships with people and still be independent and objective.

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Jason Mefford: But the problem is, and again, this is the beating the dead horse. Part of it is when people refuse to develop relationships with people in their organization.

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Jason Mefford: Because they feel like they can’t do that. Okay, and standing up and saying, well, I’m sorry, I can’t have a relationship with you because I have to be objective.

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Jason Mefford: actually hurts your reputation as well. Okay, because it shows that you’re not a team player, and in organizations today. We have to be a team player. Okay.

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Jason Mefford: And like I said, it’s not just, you know, the relationships that you’re having with other stakeholders, but also the relationships with your staff and with yourself.

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Jason Mefford: And again, you’re going to hear me do this, say this over and over again is your relationships with yourself with your stakeholders and with your staff are important.

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Jason Mefford: And in fact, I think it is some of the most important things that you need to be focusing on at this time is actually learning how to develop and maintain those relationships.

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Jason Mefford: Now I’m sure some of you have seen as we’ve moved into a more virtual work environment that a lot of the relationships that you had before.

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Jason Mefford: Maybe are starting to get strained or they’re just not not being developed because you’re not seeing or doing things with people, as you did before.

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Jason Mefford: And that’s, that’s normal. It doesn’t mean that we we don’t do the relationships. It just means that we need to be more intentional.

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Jason Mefford: In what we are actually doing to develop and maintain those relationships. And I’ll talk a little bit more about that here in a little bit on one of the other bullet points as we go forward.

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Jason Mefford: Now the second one. Again, where a lot of people are really trying to beat a dead horse is they’re continuing to do traditional internal audit work.

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Jason Mefford: They’re worried about the standards, they’re worried about only doing assurance work, you know, and putting that ahead of what is really most important in your organization.

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Jason Mefford: So, you know, stop trying to push that traditional internal audit approach forward in your organization’s instead switch and become much more proactive and much more risk based in what you’re doing. Okay.

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Jason Mefford: And what that’s going to mean a lot of times it can it can look different for different people.

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Jason Mefford: But honestly, most of the executives in your organization don’t care about how many transactions you looked at

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Jason Mefford: They already know how many transactions are going on. They already realized that some things are not working. They’re focused more on the strategic higher level higher risk items. And that’s where we should be focusing more of our attention. Okay.

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Jason Mefford: Now I know a lot of people will come back to me and say, but I don’t know how to audit it or there’s not a process in place for me to be able to audit it

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Jason Mefford: Well, this is, again, is the question now between the mix of assurance and consulting or advisory work whatever term you want to use that you do.

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Jason Mefford: But here’s kind of the thought process that you should be going through what are the key initiatives, what are the key strategies. What are the key objectives for the organization.

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Jason Mefford: And what can I do to try to help make sure that those things are being met.

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Jason Mefford: Now what it might be is, again, you know, we go to an executive we find out what it is we start talking about the process and we realize

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Jason Mefford: There isn’t a process in place, which means we can’t actually audit a process that doesn’t exist now again under traditional audit we would say, Oh, we can’t audit that areas. So we’re going to ignore it. We’re going to put our head in the sand, we’re going to pretend that it doesn’t exist.

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Jason Mefford: Because we can’t audit it and right, the right approach is. Oh, there’s no process in place. Let’s help see what we can do to put a process in place that will give that executive

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Jason Mefford: Leader more comfort over that particular area. So do an assurance do do a consulting or advisory project in that area.

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Jason Mefford: And then later come back after the processes up and running and actually provide assurance on it. But again, don’t keep, you know, pushing and thinking that

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Jason Mefford: The way traditional internal auditing has been done is relevant in the future because it is not most of the standards. Most of the ways that that people are still auditing.

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Jason Mefford: Are a vestige leftover from how people audited 100 years ago. Okay, we shouldn’t be auditing like they did 100 years ago. That’s just no longer relevant in today’s environment. Okay.

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Jason Mefford: So start, you know, stop beating that traditional audit. I’ve got to follow the standards. I’ve got to get a QA IP. You know, I’ve got to do all these things. And that’s going to make you valuable to your organization.

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Jason Mefford: It is not your organization doesn’t care whether you’re following standards they care whether you’re actually helping and adding value.

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Jason Mefford: And a risk based proactive approach is going to get you to those value areas. Okay, that’s two that I’ve gone through right now. And don’t worry, on three. I’m not going to pull out the gun and shoot anybody

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Jason Mefford: In fact, I don’t even own a gun. So there we go. But little call back from the previous chug. Some of you will get it and think it’s funny. Others of you will think that I’m just crazy. Okay.

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Jason Mefford: Third one that I want to go through is is related to the audit plan. And I know that a lot of you may be going through or developing kind of an audit plan for this next year.

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Jason Mefford: And again, one of the areas where I see people kind of tripping up is not believing that you can take input from management.

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Jason Mefford: Now what do I mean because because, again, I’m sure you know most of you are probably asking, management, what are the highest risks what’s most important.

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Jason Mefford: But I find that most of the people that I talked to really ignore most of that information. They already pretty much have planned out what they think they need to audit.

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Jason Mefford: And again this goes back to our independence and objectivity issue is that some people feel like if management suggests an audit that we can’t do it.

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Jason Mefford: Right, because we’re independent we decide what’s on the audit plan. And so they don’t really take the advice from their executive or senior leaders.

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Jason Mefford: That’s a big mistake. Folks, because again, those things that your executive management your board your senior managers are concerned with

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Jason Mefford: Those are exactly the areas where we should be focusing our efforts and I’ll tell you, especially with all of the changes that have happened in the world. This last year.

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Jason Mefford: If your audit plan looks almost anything like it did from previous years you’re focusing on the wrong areas because there has been a lot that has changed in the world.

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Jason Mefford: And the risks. This year versus last year are completely different. For a lot of your organizations and so you really need to take more of that advice.

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Jason Mefford: From management because here’s another thing. It’s going to be more relevant work because it’s actually something that they are interested in

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Jason Mefford: And if you can help them with what they’re interested in or the challenges that they have, that’s when you’re going to be more relevant, that’s when you’re going to be adding more value to your organization as well.

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Jason Mefford: Okay, so that’s number three. Now, the fourth one is is one that may be a hard pill for many of you to swallow.

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Jason Mefford: But again, I see this over and over again. And I keep seeing people driving down this road, and this road will not lead to your success.

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Jason Mefford: And that is trying to believe that you that when there are problems, you need to work on others, instead of working on yourself. Okay.

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Jason Mefford: Now this can come up in different ways, right, like, you know, again, maybe you have a relationship issue with a particular executive

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Jason Mefford: And so, you think, well, I’m going to go fix this executive. I’m going to go convince them that they’re wrong. And we’re right

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Jason Mefford: That again is the wrong approach. The relationship with that with that stakeholder will not change until you change yourself.

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Jason Mefford: In fact, changing ourselves is really the only thing that we can control. But here’s the beautiful irony of the whole thing is, as you change yourself you change the world around you.

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Jason Mefford: And so again, whether it’s a stakeholder, maybe it’s maybe it’s somebody on your staff that you’re having some performance issues with

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Jason Mefford: Most of the people around us reflect back what we are doing. And when we identify those things in other people. We think we need to fix it.

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Jason Mefford: However, if we fix ourselves in that way. Usually the problem tends to go away. Okay. So as an example, right, maybe if you have somebody who

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Jason Mefford: You know is, is making snide comments, maybe they’re not being a team player. Maybe they’re trying to, you know, you know, just do what they want, instead of being a team player. Okay.

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Jason Mefford: Now our first inclination as a leader or as a manager is to try to get that person to become a team player.

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Jason Mefford: But instead of doing that, I want you to do a little timeout and I want you to think how good of a team player, am I being

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Jason Mefford: Because as I said most of the time the people around you are just mirroring what you are doing.

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Jason Mefford: And so if you work on yourself if you become a better team player. Usually the other person just falls right in line and becomes a team player as well. Okay.

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Jason Mefford: And again, as I said, this can relate to different stakeholder relationships you have it can relate to your staff. Heck, it can even relate to

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Jason Mefford: You know your your personal relationships in your life as well. And, but I know that a lot of times there is a hesitancy to actually admit that we are probably the biggest part of the problem.

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Jason Mefford: And that’s why, again, you hear me talking over and over again about lifelong learning about, you know, personal development and how important these things are

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Jason Mefford: But I’ll tell you from doing this for decades and for working with lots of executives and business owners over the years and helping to coach them.

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Jason Mefford: When you change yourself you change the world around you, and as I told you to begin with. I know sometimes this is a this is a bitter pill or a jagged little pill, if we bring in Alexis Morissette on on this from jagged little pill.

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Jason Mefford: Record, but

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Jason Mefford: It’s really true. And the problem is, you know, if you’re not trying to develop yourself if if you’re not trying to improve yourself every single day, it shows up.

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Jason Mefford: And and i know a lot of times we think, well, you know, I’ve gotten to this point, I know all my stuff.

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Jason Mefford: You know, in fact, one of the executives that I worked with. He was in charge of HR at an organization.

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Jason Mefford: And he used to tell me I don’t get any training because the, the company hired me with all of the knowledge that I needed to. And so

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Jason Mefford: I, I don’t want to go get training because that’ll that that would, you know, make make them think that I don’t already know how to do my job.

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Jason Mefford: And that’s just one of the silliest things that I ever heard of course he didn’t last in the organization very long with those kind of attitudes as well.

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Jason Mefford: But, you know, instead of trying to change. Others start trying to change yourself first. And so again, this can be for you personally but also even think about it from your team perspective.

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Jason Mefford: Okay, instead of trying to maybe change the perception of internal audit at other people with other people, by trying to educate them and show them how much value we have

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Jason Mefford: Think about maybe changing yourself so that you’re a little bit more relevant so that your team is more relevant to the organization.

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Jason Mefford: Instead of trying to educate or convince somebody else that we actually are.

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Jason Mefford: And that ends up going a long, long ways now but that’s going to mean is sometimes you’ve got to do some work and sometimes we’re just lazy and we don’t want to do it. You know, sometimes it means that we’re going to have to

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Jason Mefford: Invest in training or invest in programs or invest in a coach, but I will, I will promise you this

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Jason Mefford: For every dollar that you put into investing in things like this for yourself, you get back in 10 or if not 100 times that

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Jason Mefford: In future benefit. Okay, so, you know, again, start working on yourself, making sure that you’re working on yourself every day, every week.

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Jason Mefford: When these problems come up, or these challenges come up start to think about what is what. How may I actually be be partly be responsible for this as well.

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Jason Mefford: And what you can actually do a little bit different, as you go forward. Okay.

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Jason Mefford: So those are some of the myths that I kind of wanted to go through today, some of the areas where, again, I see that that people just continue

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Jason Mefford: To try to push forward, but I’m telling you the horses already dead. So quit trying to, you know, quit. Quit trying to do just traditional internal auditing.

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Jason Mefford: That horse is dead. It’s already dead. Quit beating on it. Let’s just move forward, be more proactive be more risk based in what you’re doing.

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Jason Mefford: You know, instead of standing up and trying to say I’m objective, you can’t tell me what to do. You know, I, I can’t have a relationship with you.

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Jason Mefford: Stop and think about where and how you can improve your relationships. And if you’re not sure how to do that because I’m telling you, it sometimes it’s kind of difficult

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Jason Mefford: There’s places for you to go in ways for you to actually learn how to do that. Right. In fact, you know, I’ve got a whole executive leadership program that walks through

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Jason Mefford: Have 52 different points of focus that you need to actually understand you need to practice and you actually need it to become second nature.

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Jason Mefford: If you want to become a relationship ninja. If you want to be able to have relationship with people. If you want to influence them if you want to be able to move them.

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Jason Mefford: You need to understand how to actually do this, but it means you’re going to have to invest in yourself, you’re going to have to invest some time, you’re going to have to invest some money.

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Jason Mefford: Because it’s just like, you know, if I wanted to start playing tennis today. I can’t just go read a book on it and think, in my mind, and all of a sudden I can play tennis.

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Jason Mefford: I’m going to have to go get some lessons. Right. I already understand some of the basics, but I’m probably going to have to go get some lessons. I’m going to have to get some training.

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Jason Mefford: I’m going to have to hire a coach or somebody to be able to help me to train and learn how to play tennis. Okay. But that’s not enough, either. I actually have to go out and practice as well. Okay. Because you have to put in the time every day, every week in order to be able to learn

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Jason Mefford: Fully and actually be able to develop those skills so that they become second nature. Okay. And that’s, again, this this leadership program that I’m talking about. That’s exactly what it does.

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Jason Mefford: Because I’m 30 minutes or less. A week you end up actually exercising and practicing these things as well, so that they start to become second nature.

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Jason Mefford: And when you do what you will start to notice is everything around you starts to change that executive

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Jason Mefford: That you were having a hard time dealing with that maybe was a pain in the ass. All of a sudden, things start changing in that relationship.

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Jason Mefford: You know, if you’ve got people on your staff that you’ve been again having, having difficulties with all of a sudden those relationships start to improve. But in order for that to happen. It has to start with you. Alright. So with that, my friends, I’m going to wrap up this week.

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Jason Mefford: Quit beating dead horses, you know, the horse doesn’t deserve it anymore and you don’t deserve or need to waste your energy or damage your reputation or relevance of internal audit in your organization anymore.

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Jason Mefford: I know the profession is out there still telling you to do a lot of these things.

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Jason Mefford: But it’s wrong. Okay. And the reason I’m becoming more and more vocal about this is, I love this profession. I love the people in the profession and I’m tired of seeing people

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Jason Mefford: get hurt by following some of that advice because it really is damaging the reputation and relevance that we have in many of our organizations, when you’re following some of that advice.

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Jason Mefford: So instead, my friends, I wish you the best. I want you to have success in your life and in your career, and I’m here to help you along the way.

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Jason Mefford: Keep on listening, you know, send me send me messages, again, even if you hate it and you think Jason. You’re full of shit. Send me a message, let me know that

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Jason Mefford: Because at least I know you’re listening and that’s what I’m trying to do. And again, like from today’s episode is, you know, not to not to try to beat you up because I love you.

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Jason Mefford: What I’m trying to do is just get you to think and start thinking about the ways that you can improve yourself so that you can have a better life and a better career. So with that, I will catch you on the next episode. Have a great rest of your week, my friend.