Newspaper Book Review

Mind + Metrics = Success By Tom Durkin, in the business section of The Union — Nevada County

Local author Don Morrison pens ‘Living by Your Wits: A Guide for the Small Business Owner’

By Tom Durkin
Special to The Union
See this article at The Union 

Don Morrison publishes first bookSome books you skim, some books you read, and some books you study, bookmark, highlight, write notes in the margin and work the lessons at the end of each chapter.

“Living by Your Wits: A Guide for the Small Business Owner” by Don Morrison could be the latter for any small-businessperson who is serious about increasing profits and avoiding business-killing mistakes.

Nobody said this would be easy. Success is not a get-rich-quick scam.

“If you follow The Profit Process(R) described in this case-studies workbook, you will learn how to build wealth and value over time,” says author Morrison.

“It’s going to require some work, but also looking at things differently. You’re going to have to venture out of your comfort zone to find your profit ‘sweet spots.’”— Don Morrison

“It’s going to require some work, but also looking at things differently. You’re going to have to venture out of your comfort zone to find your profit ‘sweet spots,’” he says.

A retired certified public accountant (CPA), Morrison brought 40 years of professional experience to the book. It’s based on his 3-Day MBA seminar and his more extensive series of workshops called The Profit Process.


Morrison is a disciplined person. He was a B-52 navigator and bombardier in the Air Force. He has a bookshelf and a half of matching, loose-leaf binders chronicling his life. And being a CPA requires almost obsessive discipline.

The poet Robert Bly, who created the mythopoetic men’s movement, changed Morrison’s life – and his business.

“Poetry lit my creative spirit,” Morrison says. “That was my Big Aha.”

Using his professional discipline, Morrison created and taught intensive Profit Process workshops for UC Davis Extension and corporate teams.

He is emphatic that the combination of a creative mindset and the detailed tracking of the right metrics are “the master keys to success.”

First, he trains you how to think creatively, and then he takes you on a deep dive into financial metrics.

A critical metric is how to discover and track “invisible cash flow.” It is almost a classic scenario that a business can appear to be highly successful, when in reality, it’s losing money.


Although he earned his MBA from the prestigious Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, Morrison says his real education began when he went into business for himself. His clients became his teachers. Some showed him how they failed, and some taught him how they succeeded.

After 20 years and looking closely at his own financial records, he was surprised. He was only making a living but not a profit, even though he was working as hard as he could.

The common thread – the “Golden String” – he found was that his successful clients didn’t compete on price and just working hard. They offered a “compelling value difference” (CVD) that allowed them to charge premium prices and acquire A-list customers.

Morrison’s own CVD was teaching his clients and workshop students how to increase profits by increasing value. His clients bragged, “my accountant actually makes me money.”

Encouraged by his great “aha,” he moved from Chico to Sacramento, built a successful practice, and retired in Lake Wildwood.

The Profit Process workshops worked so well he started writing his client success stories as a column in the Sacramento Business Journal. Those stories are the foundation of the book.

Now, at age 81, he is in the process of writing his second book. It’s not a sequel to “Living by Your Wits.” Rather, it’s a book about poetry with the working title of “The Folsom Prison Daybook of Despair, Grief, Hope and Art.”

No, Morrison did not do time in prison. Through The Inside Circle Foundation, which he co-founded with poet Rob Allbee, he gave his time to men who had nothing to do but hard time.

After all, Morrison says, “There’s more to life than just business.”

Tom Durkin is a freelance writer and photographer in Nevada County. Contact him at or