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Tough Call

Pretty much everyone was horrified when Harambe the gorilla was shot by the Cincinnati Zoo's Dangerous Animal Response Team last Saturday, in order to protect the life of the 3-year-old boy who somehow got into his enclosure. I am an animal supporter myself and, in fact, I'm a board member of the Nassau County SPCA, but more importantly as the father of 5, yes 5, I was really upset by this incident on multiple levels, just like everyone else.

As a parent, there is absolutely nothing I wouldn't do to ensure my children's safety, or the safety of anyone's child, for that matter. No matter how or why that child managed to get himself into such a precarious and potentially life threatening situation, I can only imagine the anguish of his parents and the incredible stress on the zookeeper who had to make that call. I, for one, am not going to second-guess whether he made the right decision.

This whole incident led me to think about tough choices. Most times in life, decisions fall easily into one of the usual categories -- win-win, no brainer, no winners, winner take all. But the reality of executive decision-making is that it's much more nuanced and much more difficult than that.

When evaluating options having to do with risk and the preservation of safety, cruelty and compassion, or capital, you'd best forget about any idea of winners and losers and focus instead on minimizing damage and maximizing benefit. Hopefully, our clients don't face life and death situations in the regular course of their day-to-day businesses, but the life and welfare of their companies is something that is entirely in their hands.

As trusted advisors, Marcum is both witness and counselor to our clients as they go through the daily trials of being responsible for the success of their companies and the financial security of their employees. Frequently, we are there to help them make the tough choices that come with running a company, managing wealth, or planning a financially secure future for their families. Having to make tough calls just comes with the territory. There's no way around it.

Which reminds me of a story told by one of the keynote speakers at the Marcum MicroCap Conference this week. Harvey Pitt, former chairman of the SEC, spoke at our event on Wednesday, and I'm paraphrasing here, but Harvey relayed a parable about a person who never goes to the doctor and therefore claims to be the picture of health. Only when he goes to the doctor does he find out about his medical problems, thus blaming said problems on the doctor. No doctor, no medical issues.

Diagnosis is intrinsic to our role as advisors. We help you take a realist look at the condition of your business and work with you to help see you through to success, hard decisions and all. And sometimes, just sometimes, we're there to help you make the really tough choices.

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The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of Jeffrey M. Weiner and do not represent those of Marcum LLP, its partners or its employees.

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