Andrew Bernstein, Senior Tax Manager at PrimeGlobal member firm Shimmerman Penn LLP, recounts his experience of the 2019 PrimeGlobal Emerging Leaders Conference which took place in Chicago, United States. Our talented group of participants gathered together to grow in leadership skills as well as connect with with future generations of PrimeGlobal firm management. Read about Andrew's experiences below.  

"Chicago is a fabulous city to visit, particularly in the summer. Some of the city’s attractions include Michigan Avenue, the River Walk, Navy Pier, Millennium Park, and beautiful architecture. Chicago also serves as the backdrop for the annual PrimeGlobal Emerging Leaders Conference which I had the privilege of attending this past July.

Shimmerman Penn LLP is proud to be a member firm of PrimeGlobal, one of the five largest associations of independent accounting firms in the world. As members of this global organization, we benefit from world-wide expertise and resources, providing the opportunity for us to offer our clients international reach, while maintaining a personalized level of service unique to local boutique firms.

As a Senior Tax Manager at Shimmerman Penn, I appreciate the opportunities this fosters to service a wide mix of clients from smaller owner manager businesses to larger multinational entities.

The Emerging Leaders conference provided an opportunity for me to strengthen existing bonds and build new connections with colleagues from a number of fellow PrimeGlobal member firms. SPLLP works closely with a number of member firms from across North America and the world to ensure our clients receive exemplary domestic and international tax and other professional services.

My personal highlight from the conference were the insightful lectures on leadership delivered by top calibre speakers. I returned from the conference excited to share and implement the lessons I learned on leadership.

At a recent firm-wide meeting, I recounted to the Shimmerman Penn team the following insights on the importance of self awareness and mental toughness which I think our SPARK audience will appreciate as well:


Self-awareness is the conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires. In other words, it is an understanding of the factors that cause us to behave in a certain way.

Understanding our strengths, weaknesses, and biases helps us improve both our decision making capabilities and how we interact with others. In turn, this can help us more effectively manage teams in today’s constantly changing business environment.

Studies have shown that while most of us believe we are high in self-awareness, few of us have achieved this insight. However, we can increase our self-awareness through introspection or seeking constructive feedback from friends and/or peers.There are also a number of behavioural assessment tools which can be used to help identify personal characteristics and motivations that may affect our management style.

Mental Toughness

Mental toughness, a measure of an individual’s resilience to overcome difficult situations, has been demonstrated to contribute to success in various aspects of life. Dr. Jason Selk, a sports psychologist and performance coach who was the “Director of Mental Training” for the St. Louis Cardinals, presented the Relentless Solution Focus (“RSF”) technique. RSF builds mental toughness through self-awareness.

The concept of RSF is simple and intuitive. Its premise is based on the idea that our tendency to focus on the negative aspects of situations can be changed through rigorous training. By “relentlessly” focusing on solutions rather than problems, we can build mental toughness.

Self awareness plays a key role in the practice of RSF. Conscious awareness of our personal negative emotions, including stress and anxiety, play a vital role in helping us identify that a situation calls for us to refocus our thoughts on positive solutions. I particularly appreciated Dr. Selk’s definition for a solution to problems as: “any improvement whatsoever (even an inch) to the current situation.”

I think the human tendency to focus on problems often causes us to lose perspective and overlook appropriate actions that could be taken to improve a situation because a perfect and immediate solution cannot be identified. By training our minds to focus on identifying smaller incremental ways to improve the situation, RSF can enable us to cope in difficult or seemingly impossible situations by avoiding despair. The cool and collected positive thinking encouraged by RSF enables better decision making in stressful situations.

Mastering self-awareness and mental toughness are goals we should continually strive to attain in order to improve our interactions with others and increase our effectiveness as leaders. By increasing our positive mindfulness, these skills may also lead to overall healthier, happier lives.

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Shimmerman Penn LLP

Shimmerman Penn is much more than an accounting firm. We are trusted advisors to our clients, offering a full range of financial, taxation and business advisory services. With niche experience in a variety of industries, we bring more than 30 years' experience to understanding their businesses and unique requirements. Through our membership in PrimeGlobal, we offer our clients international reach combined with the personal approach of a mid-sized, Toronto firm.

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