Shannon Vincent
min read

Vale John Abell coach and mentor

Abell in name and in deeds

One of my mentors died — John Abell — and I attended his service on Saturday. His obituary can be read here »

Mr. Abell (what I called him) was the basketball coach (and taught health) at Butte Community College in Northern California. He coached 19 seasons. Butte won 14 titles in the 19 seasons he coached including 2 state championships. They also had a conference record of 70 straight wins. Amazing results!

He was a class act.

He always had a joke ready, some wisdom and focused on people’s strengths. Mr. Abell used to tell me he never worked a day in his life… why? He got paid to do what he loved.

Mr. Abell played to win. He said there were 3 keys to a winning team:

  • Recruiting
  • Have a Game Plan
  • Play as a team

A number of people from his coaching staff and former players spoke at the service. It was very touching and funny (at times). Mr. Abell had a great sense of humor.

Mr. Abell’s strategy got me thinking about running an accounting firm… I believe there are many similarities between running a firm and being a basketball coach.

What can we learn from his approach?

  • John knew recruiting was the most important function in producing a winning team. He walked his talk. He was ALWAYS recruiting and spent as much time recruiting as Coaching.
  • He had a game plan. One of his approaches was to use players' strengths as opposed to focusing on their weaknesses. Eg. allocation of resources... remember you can only play 5 people at a time in basketball.
  • Team/culture above everything else. There were a number of stories from former players who talked about John benching them for shooting too much or being selfish.

Questions and takeaways we can apply:

  • Are we spending enough time recruiting? John was unique, he thought differently. He was a winner and always found a way.
  • Are we sticking to our game plan? Eg. go back to the ReNew Scenario planner around client terminations, upgrades, new clients? Are we walking our talk?
  • Team. Are we investing enough time and energy in team/culture?

In closing, John said, “You only need three things…

  • Something to do
  • Someone to love
  • And something to look forward to”

RIP Mr. Abell. May we all live such fulfilling lives.

About ReNew Group  

Shannon Vincent CPA (Inactive) is the Founder of ReNew Group LLC who works alongside Partner, Colin Dunn FCA. Together Shannon and Colin have been consulting in the accounting profession for over 50 years combined. Read more »  

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