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Challenge The Norm. It’s Ok To Try New Things.

Insights from Tony Zorc, founder of Accounting Seed, author, and entrepreneur

Many saw COVID-19 as a disruption. For some, it brought tragedy. But while it was difficult, there were also many powerful lessons gained from the event. COVID-19 in many ways was a proving ground for critical thinking, and thinking not only outside the box, but questioning the box itself. 


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COVID, perhaps more than any other event, has forced us to question and challenge how we work, what the framework for success looks like, and how we accomplish our goals. Success during the pandemic required leaders to take on an iconoclast mindset to adapt and succeed. Today we’ll explore the principles behind modern iconoclasm to learn how its critical thinking principles will give you iconoclast armor to always pivot and adjust to achieve! 

What is an Iconoclast? 

An iconoclast is an individual who challenges the prescribed way of doing things, designs a better way, and executes a plan for change. Maybe you’ve done these things before. But the goal of an iconoclast is constant improvement and positioning oneself to adjust to new challenges with ease. Solving an issue might not always be enough, because issues evolve, and problems arise. In fact the prescribed method might be part of the problem. Iconoclasts recognize this and reengineer a better way. 

COVID-19 was a major testing ground for this mindset because the way we functioned and even consumed as a society changed. For businesses to survive, even thrive, businesses had to be iconoclasts. This meant changing how businesses normally process – like focusing on take-out over dine-in food. Other organizations needed to move their operation fully online. It meant establishing different protocols and harnessing specific tools for optimal effectiveness. All of these changes forced people to question why things were the way they are, and if they were even effective. 

COVID-19 revealed gaps and weaknesses in emergency planning, and the effectiveness of certain tools, like cloud computing. But all of these depend on individual needs and adaptability. To succeed in anything, it isn’t so much about following steps, it is about following the appropriate steps that suit you the best. Sometimes this means creating your own steps or solutions. It also means that flexibility and adaptability are virtues to live and survive by. 

Challenge the Norm

Business must be done wearing ties and business suits. Remote work and remote work life-balance is a myth. These are just a few ‘norms’ that are outdated – both out of necessity and because people simply challenged these ideas and found these were not infallible business principles. But there are many bigger and smaller ideas that, while generally accepted and practiced, aren’t the best solutions! 

“Business must be done wearing ties and business suits. Remote work and remote work life-balance is a myth.”

As we all recover from the economic hurdles left by COVID-19, it’s important to challenge and question what is or isn’t working. Or at least, question what is really needed to succeed. Being objective to your precise goals and evaluating methods and tools needed are key.

It’s okay to try new things or alter how you approach your goals. It’s okay, even necessary, to do things differently. In business, the most important thing you can do is understand the perspectives and needs of your customers, and the trends determining the market. These are how you should base your strategies, not standard practices that don’t seem applicable. Michael G. Jacobides and Martin Reeves wisely advise in their Harvard Business Review article

“Companies seeking to emerge from the crisis in a stronger position must develop a systematic understanding of changing habits.”

We cannot be afraid to question the situation and proposed solutions. Especially, when we can create better, more feasible routes to success.

Design YOUR Solution  

Being an iconoclast doesn’t just mean questioning how things are working or whether they’re working. It’s about creating better means of success. Otherwise, what would be the point in questioning things? There needs to be a reason why your alternative route works, and what it would take to implement. 

For me, my biggest business challenge was dealing with the integration and effectiveness of standalone accounting applications and those built on Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) platforms. Working with customers as an accountant and IT specialist, I encountered a lot of recurring struggles clients had with all these systems. These solutions were difficult and expensive to integrate to and customize while properties for true flexibility and scalability. I questioned whether there was a better way to perform digital accounting. In questioning the technologies and attitudes on current accounting technology, I developed my own solution. 

I designed and created Accounting Seed, an accounting platform. Built on Salesforce, I developed an accounting solution that emphasized flexibility and customization to overcome customer pain points and circumvent the limitations of typical accounting apps. Much of this plan involved designing the system not around an ERP paradigm, but around the flexible Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform. 

Designing around the issues you face, forces you to look for what actually works and then develop plans to implement your idea. 

“Designing around the issues you face, forces you to look for what actually works and then develop plans to implement your idea.”

Execute Your Plan, Adapt to Succeed

You’ve challenged how things are, you’ve created a plan with steps and requirements needed to spearhead your alternative idea. It’s time to execute. Being able to pivot your strategies, reevaluate, and re-deploy resources is critical for any objective. Besides creating and initiating your own vision, you must be able to pivot

The ability to pinpoint valuable techniques for gaining and retaining customers with newer content, helped Spotify achieve growth despite COVID-19 lockdowns. They developed new original content after seeing the success Netflix had. Canadian e-commerce platform,Shopify, created cloud-based bundle services to help vendors manage expenses, pay bills, anticipate cash-flow problems, and optimize deliveries in the wake of COVID-19. These are all iconoclastic approaches to adapting to succeed. No matter how clear your plans are, your ability to refine and alter your original plans to succeed is critical. Even if your alternate approach is the solution, you may need to adjust as you go about it. This is something everyone just has to expect and get comfortable with. It’s resilience that creates sustainability, not a singular methodology. 

Challenge. Design. Execute: Your Iconoclast Armor

Whether you’re a business owner, an athlete, or an aspiring influencer, the iconoclast formula  can be applied for virtually everything. This is a simple framework for overcoming any obstacle through dedicated reasoning and analysis. This gives you armor to conquer any circumstance you face. 

For more insight and tips on how you can unleash your potential and achieve your goals through the iconoclast formula, please visit my site and subscribe to more content like this on tonyzorc.com.


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