Career Advice

A treasure map to career success for Canadian Accountants

The King of KPIs, David Parmenter, on the sources that inspired his success

Author: David Parmenter

If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there.

The quote above is from George Harrison’s song “Any Road” and was no doubt influenced by the dialogue between Alice and the Cheshire Cat in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The statement is very profound. With the current fixation of the digital age on immediacy, business professionals such as Chartered Professional Accountants can frequently confuse business — pushing texts and emails around the stratosphere — with forward momentum.

Never have we been so active, yet so stationary.

In my long career, I have been inspired by a small but significant number of influential books, whose strategies have served as treasure maps to deliberate success. For example, I once attended a keynote address delivered by Dr. David Keane, about “The Art of Deliberate Success,” which asked the question, “What does success mean to you?”

Keane pointed out the importance of having clarity, priority and execution working together. Where you have clarity and prioritization working, but execution missing, you become stuck and are not making progress toward success. The sweet spot is where the three collide.

Jim Collins called that sweet spot the “hedgehog.” The concept comes from an ancient Greek parable that states, "The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” It’s the status of being untouchable.

In his book, Good to Great, Collins illustrates the concept through three intersecting circles that represent organizational success. But the three circle concept is relevant to us as individuals. The first circle reminds us to focus on an area where we can be a world expert.

This is not as hard as it sounds, providing you look for a very specific area relevant to your experiences to date, one where you have already made progress. Find an area that is free from competing experts and get your 10,000 hours into that space as soon as possible.

The second circle is passion. Where passion and expertise collide is an agreeable place. That’s where work and play merge together. The last circle is economic demand. It is not only practical to focus on something that others are happy to pay for — it is common sense.

Finally, I attended a life skills course several decades ago “turning point,” which lived up to its name.  It was the first time I was exposed to the power of the subconscious and its ability to pursue a target.  If we have a vision of what success looks like — a treasure map in other words — then we will travel towards it.

On your treasure map, you create your vision of success, in terms of friends, family, health, hobbies and career. You state the goals and glue pictures to your map that will help you visualize the outcomes you seek.

The more pictures the better. Pictures from magazines and journals are an excellent source. For example, if you want to be fitter, then you find a picture of a person similar to you, who has the body shape to which you aspire.

My first treasure map had a picture of a particular motorbike, a BMW 100RS, which is rare. Two years later I owned the exact replica of the bike in the photo, even the same paint combination.  Read any self-help book and ask any achiever: visualization is the key.

The concept is similar to that of Kerry Spackman’s The Winner’s Bible, which I discovered while browsing in an airport bookshop. Spackman recommends creating a folder with aspirational sayings and the goals you have set for yourself.  Each day, you pick up your own “Winner’s Bible,” and read the pages that will inspire and resonate throughout the day.

I recommend beginning by discussing what success means to you with a mentor. Read The Art of Deliberate Success and The Winner’s Bible and start your own treasure mapping process. You can email me for guidelines on how to prepare a treasure map. You’ll be on the road to success as a CPA.

David Parmenter is a writer and presenter on measuring, monitoring and managing performance. He is the author of Key Performance Indicators and Winning CFOs. Reach him through  or his website at

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