063: Be the Thermostat, Not the Thermometer

November 09, 2023

November 3, 2023
Read time: 2:31 minutes  

Today I'm going to explain 3 ways that you, as a fractional CFO, need to show up as a thermostat instead of a thermometer for your clients. 

The weather in Dallas started getting colder recently.
Much colder.

It dropped from the 80s to the 30s in a matter of a few days.

The temperature drop meant that I had to shift from wearing shorts to sweatpants and socks around the house.

Now, I cannot overstate how much I REALLY dislike wearing pants and socks. Especially around the house. Not comfy for me; not comfy at all.

But it was getting colder and I had to respond because brrrr.

I spent several days walking around the house in said sweatpants and socks. I'd walk by the thermometer and grumble the whole time about how miserable I was and how much I wasn't looking forward to the long, cold winter that would certainly be coming. 

A few days (ok, hours) into my very real struggle, my ten year old looks at me and says "Um, can't you just use the thing on the wall to make it hotter in the house so you don't have to wear pants and socks and also so you can stop complaining?" 

🤦‍♂️ Oh yeah, the thermostat. 

Gotta love the wisdom of children.

With just a minor adjustment to the thermostat, I was back to living my best life in shorts with no socks whilst watching season 6 of Suits (Mike got into the bar!).

Yes, I felt silly when I realized that I had been looking at the thermometer instead of using the thermostat.

The thermometer gauges the temperature.
But the thermostat actually DRIVES the temperature.

Then it occurred to me...

As fractional CFOs, we are either thermometers or thermostats for our clients.

We get to decide if we're simply going to allow our clients to be where they are (thermometer).
Or if we are going to be drivers that get our clients to where they need to be (thermostat).


How do you do that? 

Great question! 

Here are 3 ways that you can show up as a thermostat for your fractional CFO clients: 


The economy isn't doing great things right now. 

Interest rates and inflation are up and the housing market is declining. These are indicators that the economy is headed for even more trouble. 

And with Fox News and CNN reminding us daily about all the terrible things happening in the world, it's easy for our clients (and us!) to get sucked into a "the sky is falling" mentality. 

When chicken little enters the chat, the tendency for our clients can be to go into scarcity mode. They stop spending on EVERYTHING and can end up killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. It's about spending smarter, not just spending less.

The truth is that more millionaires are minted during economic downturns than any other time in history. 

Our job as thermostats is to help our clients understand that yes, we are in for hard economic times - but there are also HUGE opportunities that will present themselves during that time: 

✅ Assets will go on sale for pennies on the dollar
Amazing talent will become available at a fraction of the cost
New client opportunities and new markets will present themselves

If your clients are in scarcity mode, they'll never even see these great opportunities.

👉 Be the thermostat.


Ever get frustrated because your clients make decisions without evaluating:

• The impact on the budget?
• How cash flows might change?
• How long term profitability will go up or down?

If so, then ask yourself if you've been a driver in:

• Showing them how they can use the forecasts you've provided
• Leveraging the projections you've helped put together to make better decisions
• Actually holding them accountable when they fail to use the tools proactively

As the fractional CFO, your job is to not only equip them with the tools they need but also to teach them how to use those tools - and even hold them accountable when they don't.

👉 Be the thermostat.


As you're well aware, CEO-ing is hard.
And lonely is the head that wears the crown. 

That makes it easy for our clients to get inside their own heads, start telling themselves stories, and arrive at a place with unhealthy mindsets and bad energy. 

Believe it or not, you, as the fractional CFO have a UNIQUE opportunity to change that. 

You get the chance to model healthy mindsets and energy. You get the chance to help them see things in a different light. You get the chance to turn things around for them. 

Why is this opportunity unique to you as the fractional CFO? 

Because you have a different type of relationship with your clients than anyone else.
You have insight into their goals, dreams, aspirations, fears, and uncertainties. 
You get to know them and speak to them on a totally different level.
You have a relationship with them based on deep trust.
Use that to your advantage and to their advantage.
They're counting on you.

👉 Be the thermostat.

I felt (more than) a little silly when my son pointed out that I simply needed to adjust the thermostat to get the outcome that I wanted.

You have the same opportunity to help get the outcomes you want for your clients. 

You just have to decide to be the thermostat instead of the thermometer.

Your coach,

Whenever you are ready, here are 2 ways I can help you:

1. The Inner Circle - every month my team and I go live and share the most impactful lessons we've learned in our journey to start, scale, and optimize our own CFO firm (including live Q&A). Plus you'll get access to our private community of nearly 200 fractional CFOs.

2. If you'd like more amazing (and free!) content about starting, scaling, or optimizing your Fractional CFO firm check out The CFO Report.

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