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Last Update: Thursday September 21, 2017

Key Idea: Turn Lemons into Lemonade

When Roland Rodriguez and his colleague were left out of leadership due to a merger, they quit and started their own firm that has become extremely successful. More videos about starting a business...

Key Question:

A: 

Do what you know with people you know and trust.  Carolyne Fox and Roland Rodriguez were both on the fast track at a national accounting firm, or so they thought. Imagine how blindsided they must have felt when they were fired. And consider how Gasper Mir, already a partner, mentoring Carolyne and Roland into the partnership, would have reacted to the news that his best managers were terminated.

Q:
  What does "Don't get mad, get even" mean in business?

A:  Carolyne and Roland had options. As a woman and a minority, they could have filed a discrimination suit. Others in the same industry have done so successfully. This was not the path they chose. Instead, they committed to continuing their careers of client service in their own firm, a firm they would create in the image of how they thought things should be done. Here, they could work positively, refusing to dwell on the negativity of the unfairness of their situations, but moving forward to create something of value for themselves and other women and minorities.

Q:  What would you have done in MFR's situation?

A:  All people do not deal in good faith with one another. Every business owner has experienced this first hand from customers, employees and vendors. You can counterattack or you can chock it up to experience and move on down the road; each of us has to decide how to handle each situation.

Questions for this clip: 1 | 2

Think about it

What do you do well?  What do you enjoy doing?  Is there a need in the marketplace for a service you can deliver faster, cheaper or better than what is out there now?  How would you research the potential of your idea?

Clip from: Mir Fox Rodriguez: A Study of Resilience

Houston:  Mir Fox & Rodriguez is a CPA firm in Houston.  Their most important product is their public accounting know-how, but this is also a very important story here about turning adversity into greatness.

Most CPAs do not think of themselves as entrepreneurs. They see themselves as players on the team of companies headed by entrepreneurs. Carolyne Fox admits that she would still work in a big, world-famous CPA firm if she had not been forced to leave by a merger.

In this show two of the three founders were fired, "assisted out" by a Big Five firm; they were not invited to become partners. That was 1987. The good-old-boy network weighed woman and minorities by a different standard. Yet, when these three decided to work together, the sum of the whole equaled an entrepreneurial powerhouse with balance, vision, heart and soul. Though they know and respect the rules, these three are also redefining them.

While Gasper Mir works in the community and brings in new clients, Carolyne Fox manages the service side freeing Roland Rodriguez to develop new businesses and work with their offices in Mexico and South America.

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Mir Fox & Rodriguez (CF)

Carolyne Fox, Founder

1900 One Riverway
Houston, TX 77056
713 662 1120

Visit our web site: http://mfrpc.com

Office: 713 662 1120

Business Classification:
Accounting

Year Founded: 1988

Turn Lemons into Lemonade

GASPER: We were all working with one of the major international accounting firms. I had been with them for 18 years. We were all committed to Peat Marwick -- KPMG, to our careers there. I was a partner, a relatively young partner, and the other two were striving to become partners.

CAROLYNE: I had been told many times by many different people in a position to know that I was on the partnership track, and I was very happy about it. I was very devoted to the firm, very loyal, really enjoyed the people I worked with, serving my clients. I really enjoyed it very much. And then I got fired.

GASPER: Carolyne and Roland were ready to become partners and, unfortunately, were told they were not going to become partners in spite of being top candidates.

CAROLYNE: Well, it was a business decision that there were too many people at the top and that they had to be pruned. The numbers had to be pruned. That was a business decision. That part I understood. But it wasn't happenstance that the prunees were the minorities and the women. And to this day, the big firms are successful in bringing minorities and women in at the entry level, but haven't been able to establish career paths for them, haven't been able to effectively mentor them through the process.

HATTIE: So this is where you feel this firm has an extraordinary opportunity.

CAROLYNE: This is why this firm exists. But Gasper was inconsolable. And I remember laughing at the time--because he was our mentor, he had groomed us for the partnership, and I remember laughing with him at the time that it was really silly that I was telling him everything was going to be all right when I was the one that had gotten fired. But he took our firing harder than we did. I mean, he was just beside himself. And I'm out looking for a job and Roland's out looking for a job, and Roland is the one that brought it to Gasper and said, `How about we do this ourselves? How about we start a Hispanic CPA firm?'

ROLAND: Gasper and I, being Hispanic, saw the need for a top Hispanic firm just to serve that growing demographic need.

CAROLYNE: And Gasper thought about it for a while and said, `I'll do it if Carolyne'll do it.'

GASPER: The dialogue among us, that we started saying, `Why not? And if not us, who?' I mean, we had the qualifications, we had the experience, we had the relationships in the city. I was very involved, have been always involved in the city. And I saw the demographics changing. We saw the demographics changing.

ROLAND: I think it was a blessing in disguise because, once again, we see some opportunities that while the big firms were re-engineering themselves or restructuring, that gave us ample opportunity in the marketplace to really go out and compete effectively.


HATTIE: (In the Studio) Rich Karlgaard of Forbes magazine says big companies are comfortable in their ways. They dislike daring departures. They like the same thing year after year with just enough incremental improvement to avoid clogging up their aging digestive system. Well, we're not surprised. But Mir, Fox, Rodriguez seemed to be talking about what could have happened 50 years, not just a dozen years ago. If the big five CPA firms and Fortune 500 companies think they can be competitive by only promoting white men, they are in for trouble sooner than later. As baby boomers retire, women and people of color will make up the growing demographic of the work force. Mir, Fox & Rodriguez were shocked in 1988 to see such a successful company deny two of them partnership because they are not male and white. However, today, this team is happy that they were forced from their jobs to create a growing and profitable CPA firm that not only recruits, but champions women and minorities. Championing diversity should not just be a business strategy, it should be a way of life.

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