In this episode of Growing Your Firm, brought to you by Jetpack Workflow, host David Cristello welcomes back Geni Whitehouse, founder of The Impactful Advisor and Information Technology Alliance (ITA) president, who specializes in the wine industry. 

Geni, also known as the Countess of Communication and author of “How to Make a Boring Subject Interesting: 52 Ways Even a Nerd Can Be Heard,” discusses the latest trends in her membership base, the importance of niche advisory services, and effective communication strategies. 

Join us as we explore insights into talent acquisition and dive deep into various industry-specific challenges and opportunities.

What you’ll learn

The listener will learn about the book “How to Make a Boring Subject Interesting” and the author’s journey from being a tax professional to finding ways to resonate with clients and deliver value. 

They will also learn about leveraging humor, embracing unique qualities, improving communication skills, transitioning to advisory roles, and addressing challenges in the accounting industry.

Guest Bio

Geni Whitehouse: A Visionary in the Accounting and Advisory Landscape

Geni Whitehouse stands as a beacon of innovation and expertise in the accounting industry, particularly known for her deep specialization in the wine industry. 

As the founder of the Impactful Advisor and the President of ITA (Information Technology Alliance), Geni has carved a niche for herself by blending traditional accounting practices with modern advisory services, thereby transforming how accounting professionals engage with and deliver value to their clients.

Career and Contributions

Geni’s career trajectory is marked by a significant shift from being a tax professional to an influential advisor and educator in the accounting field. Her journey began in the rigorous environments of prominent firms, including Deloitte, where she honed her skills in tax accounting. 

However, it was her realization of the limited impact of traditional tax services on client businesses that propelled her towards advisory services. This pivot was not just a career change but a mission to revitalize the accounting profession.

At the core of Geni’s philosophy lies a profound commitment to making accounting services more engaging, valuable, and understandable to clients. This commitment is vividly illustrated in her role as the Countess of Communication for “Even a Nerd Can Be Heard,” an initiative aimed at empowering accounting professionals to improve their communication skills. Her book, “How to Make a Boring Subject Interesting: 52 Ways Even a Nerd Can Be Heard,” encapsulates her innovative approach to communication within the technical realms of accounting and technology.

Achievements and Impact

Geni’s impact on the accounting industry is multifaceted. Through her leadership at ITA, she has been instrumental in shaping the dialogue around the integration of technology in accounting practices, helping firms navigate the complexities of digital transformation. Her efforts are geared towards not just adopting technology but also ensuring that it enhances the advisory capabilities of accountants.

Her specialization in the wine industry through her firm, which focuses exclusively on this niche, showcases her belief in the power of specialized knowledge. By deeply understanding the nuances of the wine industry, Geni has been able to offer tailored advisory services that go beyond generic financial advice, addressing the specific challenges and opportunities within this sector.

Moreover, Geni’s educational initiatives, particularly her free classes and workshops, reflect her dedication to elevating the industry by sharing knowledge and best practices. These sessions, often filled with humor and relatable anecdotes, make complex accounting concepts accessible and engaging, thereby fostering a community of well-informed and communicative accounting professionals.

Philosophy and Ethos

At the heart of Geni’s professional ethos is a commitment to transformation and empowerment. She firmly believes that accountants can and should be more than just number crunchers; they can be advisors, educators, and innovators. Her approach to accounting emphasizes the importance of asking the right questions, embracing technology, and communicating effectively, all aimed at delivering real value to clients.

Geni’s philosophy extends to her views on talent development within the industry. She advocates for nurturing the next generation of accounting professionals by equipping them with the tools and skills necessary to thrive in a rapidly evolving business environment. Her leadership in various educational and professional platforms serves as a testament to her commitment to this cause.

In summary, Geni Whitehouse is a distinguished figure in the accounting industry, known for her innovative approach to advisory services, her specialization in the wine industry, and her relentless pursuit of enhancing the communicative prowess of accounting professionals. Her career and achievements not only highlight her expertise but also her dedication to transforming the accounting landscape for the better.

Detailed Synopsis

Embracing and Leveraging Unique Traits in Communication

In the podcast a prominent theme discussed is the power of embracing and leveraging one’s unique traits, such as being a “nerd,” to enhance communication and make complex topics more engaging. Geni, who identifies as a “nerd” herself, has successfully used this aspect of her personality to connect with her audience and deliver content in a relatable and interesting manner.

The Power of Self-Acceptance

Geni discusses how accepting and even highlighting her nerdy traits has allowed her to break down barriers in communication. By acknowledging these traits, she not only makes herself more approachable but also turns potential weaknesses into strengths. 

For instance, she mentions using humor and self-deprecation as tools to engage her audience. This approach is evident when she talks about her interactions with industry thought leader Greg La Follette, who admitted he was surprised at how good her book was despite his initial low expectations. This anecdote underscores the impact of embracing one’s identity to overturn stereotypes and exceed expectations.

Making Complex Topics Accessible

One of Geni’s key achievements is her ability to make complex topics accessible and engaging. Her book, “How to Make a Boring Subject Interesting: 52 Ways Even a Nerd Can Be Heard,” is a testament to her approach. 

She uses various techniques to spice up presentations and discussions, such as incorporating humor, varying content delivery, and connecting with current events or personal anecdotes. By doing so, she maintains audience interest and makes dense material more digestible.

Leveraging Unique Traits for Effective Communication

Geni’s strategy involves leveraging her nerdy reputation to enhance her communication. She describes using a Monty Python video in presentations to highlight and poke fun at the stereotypical image of accountants. 

This not only lightens the mood but also makes her more relatable to her audience. It’s a clever way of acknowledging the stereotype while also demonstrating that she can provide valuable and engaging content despite, or perhaps because of, her nerdiness.


Geni Whitehouse’s experience and strategies provide valuable lessons in communication, particularly in how embracing and leveraging one’s unique traits can transform potential drawbacks into powerful tools for engagement. 

By owning her identity as a “nerd,” she not only challenges stereotypes but also enhances her ability to communicate complex topics in a way that is both informative and entertaining. This approach not only makes her a better communicator but also serves as an inspiring example for professionals in any field looking to improve their communication skills.

The Importance of Demonstrating Advisory Services to Potential Clients

In the podcast episode, Geni Whitehouse, a seasoned professional in the accounting industry, emphasizes the importance of demonstrating the value of advisory services to potential clients through practical demonstrations and training, rather than relying solely on traditional marketing methods. 

This approach is particularly effective in shifting the perception of accounting firms from mere tax service providers to strategic advisors.

Practical Demonstrations Over Traditional Marketing

Geni discusses her experience with a winery-focused accounting firm, where traditional marketing methods like mailers were initially used but did not effectively communicate the firm’s advisory capabilities. 

The firm then shifted to offering free training classes as a form of marketing, which proved to be a more effective strategy. These classes were designed to show potential clients what advisory services look like in action, rather than just telling them about the services.

Benefits of Training and Demonstrations

  1. Engagement and Education : By conducting training sessions, the firm engages potential clients in an educational experience that helps them understand the depth and value of advisory services. This hands-on approach allows clients to see firsthand how these services can impact their business.
  2. Building Trust : Practical demonstrations help build trust between the firm and potential clients. When clients can see the expertise and value offered by the firm through real-world examples and interactive sessions, they are more likely to trust the firm’s ability to handle their more complex business needs.
  3. Differentiation : This approach also differentiates the firm from competitors who may only offer traditional accounting services. By showcasing their advisory expertise, the firm positions itself as a thought leader and innovator in the industry.
  4. Feedback and Interaction : Live training sessions provide an opportunity for immediate feedback and interaction, which can be invaluable for both the firm and potential clients. This interaction helps the firm tailor their services to better meet the specific needs of their clients.

Implementation Strategy

Geni’s firm partnered with industry associations to offer these training sessions as a member benefit, which helped in reaching a targeted audience effectively. They also created a fake winery to use as a case study, making the sessions more relatable and engaging without exposing real client data.


The shift from traditional marketing to practical demonstrations and training is a strategic move that can significantly enhance the perceived value of advisory services. As Geni Whitehouse’s experience illustrates, this approach not only educates potential clients about the benefits of advisory services but also builds a stronger, trust-based relationship that is likely to lead to business growth and client retention.

Ongoing Challenges in the Accounting Industry Related to Talent Management

The accounting industry is currently facing significant challenges in talent management, which include issues related to recruitment, retention, and adapting to new expectations for work-life balance and professional growth opportunities. These challenges are multifaceted and impact firms of various sizes and specializations.

Recruitment and Retention

The industry is experiencing a talent shortage, which is exacerbated by the high demands of compliance work and the intense workload during tax seasons. As discussed in the podcast, many firms are not taking on new clients because they are at capacity and cannot handle additional work with the current staff levels. This situation highlights the critical need for efficient recruitment strategies to attract new talent to the industry.

However, recruitment alone isn’t sufficient; retention is equally challenging. The traditional model of long hours, especially during tax season, is increasingly at odds with the expectations of newer generations entering the workforce. They are looking for a better work-life balance and opportunities that allow for personal and professional growth without sacrificing their well-being.

Adapting to New Expectations

The accounting industry must adapt to these new expectations by rethinking work models and offering more flexible working conditions. This includes reconsidering mandatory overtime during busy seasons and finding ways to distribute workloads more evenly throughout the year. 

Technology and automation are seen as potential solutions to alleviate some of the workload by streamlining processes and reducing the time spent on repetitive tasks. Like Jetpack Workflow

Professional Growth Opportunities

For the accounting industry to attract and retain talent, it must also offer clear paths for professional growth and development. This involves not only traditional accounting skills but also advisory roles and technological proficiency. 

As the industry evolves, accountants are expected to take on more consultative roles, helping clients navigate complex financial landscapes rather than just managing books or tax filings.


The accounting industry is at a crossroads where it must address these talent management challenges head-on. 

By embracing technology, reevaluating work practices, and enhancing the value proposition for new and existing employees, firms can better position themselves to attract and retain the talent needed to thrive in the changing business environment.


[00:01:14] Niching in the wine industry.

[00:03:37] Embracing nerdiness in communication.

[00:07:47] Defining advisory services.

[00:12:27] Increasing revenue without raising prices.

[00:15:51] Elevating the wine industry.

[00:19:19] Communicating with humor.

[00:23:21] Talent dilemma communication problem.

[00:26:10] Starting new firm opportunities.

[00:28:03] Scaling small and medium businesses.

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