Not only is Ron Baker a long-time member of my mental board of mentors and experts, but he’s also seated at the head of the table. When he walks into my thought process, I stand. Yes, this revolutionary thinker on value pricing for professional services firms is that good. Accordingly, you are in for a treat.
Who Is Ron Baker?
Ron is a self-acclaimed recovering accountant who started his first tax practice while in high school. After graduating from college, he started his accounting career at Peat Marwick Mitchell (now KPMG).
While running his own accounting practice with a partner, Ron started realizing on his own that the billable hour was a killer to both his team and his clients. That’s when he started testing his theories through trial and error on value pricing.
Today, Ron is the global thought leader on value pricing for professional services firms. He is the author of numerous books which I’ll list below. He’s also the founder of the think tank, VeraSage Institute.
Finally, Ron is the co-host with Ed Kless of my favorite podcast The Soul of Enterprise where they recently celebrated the production of their 300th episode – very well done.
Key Discussion Points on the Show
- Ron was born an accountant as he was defending IRS audits for clients as a teen.
- Ron along with his accounting partner started testing the waters on value pricing at a time when there were no thought leaders in this field.
- The reason Ron calls himself a recovering accountant.
- The Firm of the Future is one of Mark’s favorite books. What would he change if he was updating it today? (Mark’s Strong Opinion – this is the MBA-in-a-book for anyone working in professional services). Ron suggested he’d include a section on subscription models.
- Every business should have its technology developers learn everything they can from Amazon – they are getting the customer experience right. Even with advances in technology, firms can still focus on customer relationships.
- The very best firms are great at customer service, but they are humble about it.
- Ron addresses who the best people are at the pricing table. It’s not always the finance and numbers pros.
- Pricing is now a profession, and it’s one that’s growing.
- Ron tells us the best learning tool ever invented next to the book – it’s a tool that leads to cultural change.
- Ron loved that we brought up the great Eff’ing Debate.
- Learn why Peter Drucker deserves the Nobel Peace Prize.
- Economics is for CEOs and financial professionals too. Economics is a theory that helps to explain or predict the future.
- Can we expect another 300 episodes of the Soul of Enterprise?
- Ron tells us what his TEDx Talk would be about.
Recent and Memorable Books
Ron reads widely and I swear that my net worth has taken a hit by buying the books he’s mentioned along with Ed on their podcast.
Instead of asking about his favorite books, I wanted to know about recent titles in the forefront of his mind.
He’s a fan and admires the work of the late Clayton Christensen. The Prosperity Paradox was one of his favorite books in 2019.
Ron’s other favorite book last year was the newest edition of The Experience Economy. On a side note, Ron and Ed interviewed the author during episode number 34.
One of the books that have had a big impact on Ron’s thinking about the subscription economy is Tien Tzuo’s book, Subscribed. Yep, Ron and Ed have interviewed Tien as well – episode number 230.
The book bending Ron’s mind as of this discussion is Humanocracy: Creating Organizations as Amazing as the People Inside Them by Gary Hamel.
More Books Mentioned During the Show
What do you expect when two guys come together who both read a lot? Here is a list of the other books mentioned during the conversation.
- Lies, Damned Lies, and Cost Accounting by Reginald Tomas Lee
- Hope is Not a Method by Gordon Sullivan and Michael Harper
- The Management Myth by Matthew Stewart
- The Halo Effect by Phil Rosenzweig
- A Class With Drucker by William Cohen
- The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker
- Armchair Economist by Steven Landsburg
- Hidden Order by David Friedman
- Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt
I’m going to go in the order that I’ve read these books. As already mentioned, The Firm of the Future will always stand out. It’s the real-deal MBA for those running professional services firms. Get it. No, devour it. If possible, consider getting the original hardback for your library.
I did not think to ask Ron about the differences between Implementing Value Pricing (2010) and Pricing on Purpose (2007). You can do what I did – get both.
Measure What Matters to Customers is a worthy read – ignore the reviewer comments. This is no puff piece – it’s a book where you have to think.
Ron and Ed also have co-written The Soul of Enterprise based on the early shows of their podcast. I do hope they update it, but if you are a fan of the show, you should get it.
A Personal Thank You to Ron Baker
Ron is a busy guy. He has many demands on his time. That’s why I almost didn’t reach out to Ron to ask him to be on our show. Heck, we’re two, no-name CFOs.
But I did anyway, and Ron never hesitated. We exchanged a few messages before the interview, but here’s what blew me away.
Ron was already waiting for me when I logged into Zoom for our interview. I wanted to be respectful of Ron’s time – remember, he’s famous. And don’t forget, he’s seated at the head of the table of my mental board of experts and mentors.
Did his publicist forget to tell Ron he’s on a schedule? He must have fired her because we chatted for about 10 minutes before we started rolling the tape (er, pressing record).
I haven’t even mentioned the ending. He was in no hurry to exit Zoom. We talked for nearly another 10 minutes.
So here are the goods on Ron – he’s kind, professional, courteous, humble (I mean really humble), and he’s the second of the two words of The Great Eff’ing Debate.
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