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IAM1758 – Accountant Helps Clients Live More Fulfilled Lives

Podcast Interview with Isaiah T. Gresham

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”:

In episode IAM738 of the I AM CEO podcast, host Gresham Harkless interviews Isaiah T. Gresham, the founder, and president of Gresham Financial, a tax, accounting, and outsourced chief financial officer (CFO) services company. Isaiah started the company in 2016 with the goal of helping clients plan for the future, grow their businesses, and accumulate savings to achieve their dreams.

In the interview, Isaiah talks about his journey as an entrepreneur and the importance of financial planning for business owners. He shares his unique approach to financial consulting, which involves personalized service and expertise to help clients live more fulfilled lives. Isaiah's proactive approach goes beyond tax preparation to help clients plan for their future and achieve their dreams.

Isaiah's passion for helping people thrive extends to small-business owners and executives. He understands the complex interactions between a company's structure and the owner's business, investment, and estate planning taxes. Serving clients not just as an accountant, but also as a strategic partner, he offers outsourced CFO services and access to a network of trusted professionals outside accounting.

Isaiah shares his CEO hacks and nuggets, which include reading the book “Burdens of a Dream: 33 Actionable Nuggets of Wisdom for the Creative Entrepreneur” and never forgetting about your family. He also defines what being a CEO means to him, which involves empowering others to be great.

Overall, the episode provides valuable insights into financial planning for business owners and the importance of personalized service in consulting. Isaiah's experience and unique approach to financial consulting make this episode a must-listen for anyone looking to improve their financial situation and live a more fulfilled life.

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Isaiah T. Gresham Teaser 00:00

I work with the clients, I'm the first person you meet in a lot of situations. But it's not just about simply my expertise, the people that I work with on this team are experts at their own field. Whether that be someone who is tremendously gifted at business taxes, I have another person who's tremendously gifted at tax resolution. I'm strong at strategy.

Intro 00:22

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs, without listening to a long, long, long interview?

If so, You've come to the right place. Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you are in search of.

This is the I AM CEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:48

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast and I appreciate you listening to this episode. If you've been listening this year, you know that we hit 1600 episodes at the beginning of this year. We're doing something a little bit different where we're repurposing our favorite episodes around certain categories, topics, or as I like to call them, business pillars that we think are going to be extremely impactful for CEOs, entrepreneurs, and business owners, or what I like to call the CB nation architects. Those that are looking to level up their organizations.

In this month, we are focusing on knowing thy numbers. I could hear the phrases from Mr. Wonderful on Shark Tank, and if you understand or don't understand exactly what numbers is, think finance, economics, accounting, capital, investment funding, bootstrapping, anything that's around numbers. So, we have to understand how important it is to know your numbers and how important that is for you to forecast, make decisions, and to be able to truly strategize around your business and do that successfully.

Things are gonna be a little bit different, obviously, this month. So look for CEO hacks and CEO nuggets and interviews that focus around this. But more than everything else, make sure that you know your numbers because they're extremely important to the life of your business.

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast and I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Isaiah Gresham of Gresham Financial. Isaiah, it's awesome to have you on the show.

Isaiah T. Gresham 02:14

Thank you for hosting me, Gresham. I really appreciate it.

Gresham Harkless 02:16

No problem. Super excited to have you on, and before we jumped in, I wanted to read a little bit more about Isaiah so you can hear about all the awesome things that he's doing.

Isaiah is the founder and president of Gresham Financial, which provides tax accounting and outsourced chief financial officer services for business owners, executives, and independent professionals. He started the company in 2016 with the goal of helping clients plan for the future, grow their businesses and accumulate savings to achieve their dreams. Gresham has been doing his friends and family taxes since 2009 and today he treats each client's return with the same level of care and concern.

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Leveraging his deep industry expertise and personal dedication, his proactive approach goes beyond tax preparation to help clients live more fulfilled lives. Isaiah's passion for helping people thrive extends to small business owners and executives in the way the company is structured and impacts the owner's business investments in estate planning, taxes. Gresham understands these complex interactions as well as how to limit liability in each of these areas.

Serving clients, not just as an accountant, but as a strategic partner, he offers outsourced Chief Financial Officer Services and access to a network of trusted professionals outside of accounting. Outside the office Gresham enjoys being outdoors, traveling and spending time with his family.

Isaiah, are you ready to speak to the I AM CEO community?

Isaiah T. Gresham 03:38

Oh, I'm ready.

[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 03:39

Awesome. Let's do it. So, to kick everything off, I wanted to rewind the clock a little bit, and hear a little bit more on how you guys started. Could you take us through your CEO story and what let you get started with your business.

Isaiah T. Gresham 03:49

Absolutely. So my CEO story started with friendship. One of my long-term friends, Perry Lewis still a business owner back in Birmingham, Alabama. I met him when I was seven years old. He's about 10 years older than my mom and I had an opportunity to hang out with him, spend time around this flower shop, and learn about how he got that business off the ground. Even as a kid, he exposed me to other opportunities in the community where I was able to see how he was also working as a business owner, not as a business owner, but as an investor in the community as well in a lot of his efforts. I won't go into detail with those because that's more like personal for him.

My mom was an entrepreneur and watching her go through her experience and also seeing her without an accountant, I got a chance to see the best and the worst of both ends of being a business owner. So I started my accounting career. I got like deep into details and started going through the normal standard auditor walk, going out to make really large business and getting into their financial statements. I didn't understand why we were doing that. As far as I've seen those clear examples of business owners who needed an accountant and what we were able to do for them. But as an auditor, I wasn't getting the same fulfillment.

So, I spent a couple years chasing that dream and trying it out, and none of that was working for me. I decided to take a step back and go back to what I got the most passion from, which was actually helping my friends and family with taxes. So when I moved to Washington, I decided to set up my own entity. I was licensed as a CPA and still am in the state of Florida. I decided to continue to pursue that. As I got started with that process, a lot of my neighbors started coming my way and started seeing a lot of tax issues they were having.

I noticed that people needed more tax planning. They needed somebody more proactive instead of just somebody who could be another HR block. So from there, I decided to leverage that audit experience and bring in the accounting end of the business, but then also take that same approach and bring that to the tax end of the business. And the expression financial became what it's today.

Gresham Harkless 05:52

Nice. Absolutely. Definitely appreciate the story and being able to understand exactly what your passions are and why you do what you do, and be able to of course, help and impact so many organizations and business and individuals if we really get and dig a little bit deeper.

Isaiah T. Gresham 06:07

Hundred percent.

Gresham Harkless 06:08

Awesome. Awesome, awesome. So I know you touched on it a little bit, but I wanted to drill a little bit deeper through exactly how you work with clients. Could you take us through the services you provide, the different services, and also how that process looks like.

Isaiah T. Gresham 06:19

Definitely. So my business is split in two ends that really service a client from a holistic standpoint. So, the greatest example I could give is a startup company that I've been working with since 2018. We helped them from the CFO end of the business, initially by helping them get funded. A CFO for a company can do multiple things, so we were able to help them adjust their projected financial statements.

We were able to help them establish credit history because business credit works completely different for personal credit, we understand the intricacies of how those things work. So we're able to get them established on both ends of that. Even setting up initial HR functions from an accounting standpoint, establishing payroll, getting a couple other things in place. But then we're able to carry that to the next level by helping them with tax planning and potentially plan which states they're going to operate their business from. And even how that would make a major impact on the bottom line for the business.

Setting up the tax structure, the purpose tax structure for not only their purposes, but also for the outside investors' purposes to make them all happy. And at the end of the day, people want to be able to make money, but also save as much as they possibly can. So, that accounting end of the business, it starts with the CFO. The CFO is basically the highest accounting officer. If you're thinking in terms of sports, which is my favorite way to go we'll use basketball as an example. CFO is the front office up there, where a controller is more of a head coach. He's dictating where things are going and by that revenue and expenses. So we're able to protect revenue, we're able to set payment terms, do things like that at that middle tier.

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We're also able to set payment terms on the outside by saying, Hey biller, I wanna adjust my bill date to such and such date, and basically create a cyclical system so that we can create some predictability in the business and help grow it. The bookkeeper is more the person that's like the manager sitting back on the side keeping the score and keeping the game moving forward or the referee. That same analogy being taken on the tax side. A tax planner is basically somebody coming in, taking that dynamic coaching role and guiding this person in the right direction or guiding this business in the right direction to ensure that they're paying the absolute minimum they possibly can. That they're in a defendable position whenever they do so with the IRS, so that it's not an issue for them.

We really think about things in a three to five-year range. And then also there are things that have a long-term implication that may have a 20 to 30-year implication on them. We take those things into consideration. Tax prepares the same thing as the bookkeeper. They're more, here and now record keep basically showing how your score was in that last year. They're doing everything they can to keep it within a minimal range, but they're not being as proactive to a certain extent, they're being reactive.

Then you have that final tier, which is our tax resolution services. So you think of that as an official on the cleanup job coming in and really trying to make sure that everybody's okay. That the client doesn't have to overpay if they do have a large bill with the IRS and that the IRS also trust it to us. So we are kind of that intermediary there.

Gresham Harkless 09:23

Nice. I absolutely appreciate that. I'm a big sports junkie, so I was able to follow that perfectly, so I'm glad you broke it down like that. I always say like a true to my sign of expertise, say that related to teaching is the ability to be able to communicate with who you're talking to, and to be able to take that, understand that knowledge, understand the high level and the kind of nuances of it, and be able to communicate that to whoever you're having a conversation with. So I definitely appreciate that.

I wanted to ask you now for what I call your secret sauce. This could be for you personally or your business, but what do you feel sets you apart and makes you unique?

Isaiah T. Gresham 09:58

I think the thing that sets us apart is the fact that we care and it's not just about me at the end of the day. I work with clients. I'm the first person you meet in a lot of situations. But it's not just about simply my expertise. The people that I work with on this team are experts at their own field. Whether that be someone who is tremendously gifted at business taxes, I have another person who's tremendously gifted at tax resolution.

I'm strong at strategy. So, that's really where I like to thrive. I have someone who works with us who has their MBA who's really just focused on creating systems. They're very good at developing those where there's even another person I'm working with who's a CMA, she is just like all the way in, in terms of being able to take a company, dissect it and rebuild it to make it more efficient.

So, it's all about the fact that all of us really know what we do and we really care for the people that we work with and the businesses that we work with.

Gresham Harkless 10:56

Awesome, awesome, awesome. I wanted to switch gears a little bit, and ask you for what I call a CEO hack. This could be like an app, a book, or a habit that you have, but what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?

Isaiah T. Gresham 11:07

Oh yeah. Actually, I have it with me. So, it's Burden of a Dream. It's 33 Actionable Nuggets of Wisdom for the Creative Entrepreneur. It's by Craig Chavis. I read this book about two months ago and it's made a huge impact on my business. It was really easy to read. One of the things that I really liked was lesson number 33 which definitely talked about tomorrow.

Tomorrow's the most important thing that comes to us. You can't forget about it because sometimes it's with everything that's going through the pandemic these days and every other event that's come right behind it. It's just been one thing after another, but there is going to be a tomorrow, and that's one thing that we have to keep in mind.

The sun will rise tomorrow and hopefully, coffee still exists. If anybody, drinks coffee, I know I like a little bit of caffeine myself, but it's a matter of things that will continue to move forward, but it's always about continuing to put in that effort, never giving up. That's one of the things that I was able to take from this book, from start to finish.

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Never give up on your dream.

Gresham Harkless 12:08

Awesome. Now I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO nugget. That could be like a word of wisdom or a piece of advice. It might be something you would tell a client or if you were to hop into a time machine, you might tell your younger business self.

Isaiah T. Gresham 12:19

Definitely. One thing I would say is never forget about your family. Everything that I do with business a lot of the reasons why I do what I do is because of my family. I started with watching my mom as a business owner have a hard time with not having the right person on her team, the right quarterback so to speak in terms of the CPA.

I look at the same deal with being able to take care of my own family. I can't forget about them as I continue to grow this business. They're a reason why I do it, and in a lot of cases, your family is going to be there for you if you do happen to fail, which in my eyes fail is just learning a lesson as a business owner.

Gresham Harkless 12:55

Yeah, it's extremely powerful. Now I wanted to ask you my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. We're hoping to have different quote and quote CEOs on the show. So, Isaiah, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Isaiah T. Gresham 13:07

To me it definitely means empowering others to be great. So whenever I work with someone, my goal every time is to help them achieve whatever it is that they set out. We set that original goal when they get there. If they want to be their own CEO in terms of some of the contractors I work with, then I help them be the best they can at their own craft and help them introduce them to as many people as I possibly can.

That even goes to the mentorship level. What is that student looking for that I'm working with? And how can I help them achieve that goal at the end of the day? With my clients, same story. How can we help them achieve their goals as a business owner? And even if it's a not-for-profit, how can we help them make a larger impact on the community?

Gresham Harkless 13:52

Yeah, and that's extremely powerful. A lot of times we have our zone of genius that we lean on, that we want to do. A lot of times, especially for entrepreneurs and business owners, we have a strong why for what we've created.

When we are able to focus even more on that impact and have experts like yourself to be able to lean on, we can make sure that we're strategically in the right place and know all the numbers and all that aspect as far as how we can be successful. It allows us to show up and to show up even better when we know that we have a strong team on our side.

Isaiah T. Gresham 14:20

I agree.

Gresham Harkless 14:21

Awesome, awesome, awesome. Isaiah, truly appreciate that definition. I appreciate your time even more. What I wanted to do was pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional you can let our readers and listeners know. And of course how best they can get ahold of you and find out about all the awesome things you and your team are working on.

Isaiah T. Gresham 14:36

Oh yeah, great. We are currently based in the greater Seattle area. However, we do work with people all over the country and we are expanding to the East Coast. So, I would say look out for us within the next year to have the location-based in New York.

We wanna be able to continue to take care of your financial services, professional service companies, real estate companies as well as startups that are developing their own intellectual property and devices. So, if you fall into that business niche, or if you're an individual who needs somebody to help you with tax planning or tax resolution and possibly save you as much as they can, definitely give us a call.

As far as being able to find us we're at or you can find us on most social media platforms.

Gresham Harkless 15:22

Awesome. Thank you so much again, Isaiah. We will have the links and information in the show notes as well too so that everybody can find you even easier.

But truly appreciate you, my friend. Truly appreciate all the awesome things you're doing and the impact that you're having, and I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

Outro 15:35

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO podcast, powered by Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at I AM CEO is not just a phrase it's a community.

Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play, and everywhere you listen to podcasts, subscribe and leave us a five-star rating.

Grab CEO gear This has been the I AM CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless. Thank you for listening.


Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(, podcasts, ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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