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888 – Reflecting 8 Great Years!

On August 8th (the 8th day of the 8th month) this year, Outlier Compliance Group turned 8 years old. It seems like a good time to stop and reflect on the company’s journey to this point, and where we’re going next…

  1. The Rule of Two Feet

This one keeps hitting me in big ways. In essence, every time I ask myself “why doesn’t someone…” it’s an indicator that instead of lamenting, I could be solving a problem (or finding the right person to solve said problem, if it’s not me).

For those who, like me, struggle with idioms sometimes, here’s where the name of this rule comes from.

Problem: I need to get from point A to point B.

Solution: I already have 2 feet, which I can use to walk from point A to point B.

  1. Say No

In the early days, when I was worried about building the business and struggling to turn a tiny profit, I said yes when I should have said no. Sometimes there were short term gains, but these decisions were always to my detriment in the long term. There are many examples, but here are a few:

  • Hiring someone because they are inexpensive,
  • Taking on a client that is difficult to work with or does not value compliance (which is the service that I offer), and
  • Speaking at an event that is not really part of a market that I want to pursue.

In each of these cases, I ended up spending more time and energy trying to resolve issues than I would have spent making a better decision in the first place – but I had to learn the hard way.

These days I am much more comfortable saying no. This frees me up to focus on things that are the right fit for me and the business.

  1. Be Excellent to Everyone

I do say no a lot, but I try not to be a jerk about it. Just because something isn’t a good fit for my business doesn’t mean that it’s somehow objectively bad.

When I turn down a speaking engagement, for instance, I always try to suggest others that may be a better fit for the engagement.

  1. Don’t Take Any Sh**!

Being good to other people doesn’t mean being a pushover, though there are always going to be folks that mistake a smile for weakness and try to take advantage.

We have a policy at Outlier that includes zero tolerance for bad behaviour, including discrimination and harassment. Unfortunately, there are some individuals with long histories of misconduct hiding in plain sight in the Canadian AML/compliance industry. While we try not to interact with them, we are also vocal about concerns where it cannot be avoided. It’s stressful sometimes, but worthwhile. While I’d rather not have to bring these concerns to conference organizers, it always makes me feel better knowing that there are measures in place to keep attendees safe.

  1. Perfect is the Enemy of Shipped

I’m very much a type-A personality. I am a perfectionist. I like to win… and while these are all great attributes, I also know that compliance is never perfect. It’s important to be able to get clients what they need expediently.

There is a second layer to this equation, which is that you need to hit a baseline before you can go “above and beyond.” Finding this balance is a delicate mission but a tremendous advantage.

  1. Always Improve on Everything

Having finished a project, and even having the work product reviewed successfully by an auditor or regulator doesn’t mean that we’re done improving. There is always room to do better, and every criticism is an opportunity to do just that.

  1. Hire People That You Admire

One of the best things for me at Outlier right now is the fact that I can take “orders” from everyone on my team at various points in time. Yes, I’m still the CEO, and yes, it thrills me that every single member of the team can run circles around me in some way!

  1. Reflect on Success

It’s easy to get into a mode where it’s full speed ahead all the time. I’m more than a bit this way myself! It’s also important to take a step back to appreciate the fruits of all of that hard work, and to be proud of what we’ve built.

As 2021 draws to a close, writing this article has given me the opportunity to do just that.

Thank you to everyone that has contributed to Outlier’s success, and given us the opportunity to contribute to your success!

What’s Next?

I’m incredibly proud of what I – along with incredible teammates, clients and supporters – have built over the last eight years. In the next eight years, I see us working on more large-scale international projects (though our focus will remain Canadian) in collaboration with some of the excellent firms that we’ve met along the way, and new colleagues that we’ve yet to meet. We’ve gained a lot of insight from FATF working groups, as well as from working with technology firms. Moving in the direction of solutions that are global and interoperable in nature is, in my estimation, the most meaningful and productive compliance work to be done in the coming years.

Stay in Touch!

You can follow both Outlier and me on LinkedIn (Amber, Outlier) and Twitter (Amber, Outlier) or reach out directly.

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