The Rainmaker: MTSU alumna Angie Grissom changes w...

The Rainmaker: MTSU alumna Angie Grissom changes workplace culture and changes lives along the way

Business owner, consultant, writer, and speaker Angie Grissom is a powerhouse. Anyone who has seen her speak will tell you that she absolutely radiates enthusiasm and authenticity.

After graduating from MTSU’s Jennings A. Jones College of Business in 2000 with a Bachelor of Business Administration, Grissom joined The Rainmaker Companies and began leading the consulting arm. It wasn’t long before she became an owner and partner when the founder retired.

 She works with CPAs, lawyers, and consultants all over North America to help them build their practices. The Rainmaker Companies offers training, growth consulting, and niche-based and role-based membership communities to professional service firms. The Rainmaker team focuses on growth, leadership, company culture, and communication.

Grissom has been entrepreneurial-minded since childhood. When she was in elementary school, Grissom started a pretend business called “Dance with a Star,” where she would cut out pictures of famous people from magazines and then add bodies and sell the chance to Dance with a Star to her aunts and uncles. This was long before the hit television show. She credits this creative spirit with leading her to consult.

Grissom lives in Franklin with her husband, Chad, and their sons, Max, 21, and Brett, 13. The family has a rescue cat named Bella.

I appreciate those people at MTSU and beyond who invested in me so that I can invest in others.

What do you love about what you do?

My days all look different, and I am frequently challenged, which was my desire for a career. Sitting 40-plus hours a week at a desk doing the same thing was never appealing to me.

Travel is a part of my job that I love. I do keynote presentations and general sessions at conferences all over the U.S. and the world. I have spoken in Barcelona, Warsaw, and Shanghai. I always enjoy global conferences and international audiences.

I speak, write, and train a lot. I love to research and write. Since starting at The Rainmaker Companies, I have authored articles for publications such as Accounting Today. I came up with the idea of a column in 2012 called “He Said/She Said,” where a fellow consultant and I debate topics ranging from partner accountability to culture and everything in between. The column is still published in Accounting Today. Before then, I had a column called “Ask Angie.” I’ve had a lot of fun writing projects throughout my career.

I count myself lucky to work with some of the brightest and most successful people in the accounting space. My job feels creative and fun, and different every day. I have the privilege of coaching top firm leaders and training and coaching professionals at every level of their careers.

After putting a graduate degree on hold to focus on your career, you’ve returned to finish MTSU’s M.B.A. program. Why did you feel like that was important?

I plan to finish my M.B.A. in 2022. The pandemic put a lot of things on hold—especially my ability to travel. I decided to take that opportunity and reach that goal I have for myself. I love to learn. I want to apply everything I can to what I’m doing in my business for my clients. One of the benefits of pausing and then returning is seeing how the technology is updated, along with what I now bring to the table with my current level of experience.

I am blown away by some of the classes in the program. I am having a great time getting to know the teachers and classmates. I forgot how fun it was to meet new classmates and work in groups. These M.B.A. students are incredible—and I work with top business leaders in my job—and I am so impressed with everyone I meet in the program.

Jones College has an emphasis on communication and relationship-building that is so important for success in business.

It is the biggest gap I see in professional environments. People need to understand that it’s not just about having the technical knowledge or ability to be a CPA, consultant, or advisor. It’s about having the intention of building trust in that relationship.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about empowering people and teaching others to do the same. I believe in authenticity in leadership. I believe in supporting people through tough times.

(Photo courtesy of Fizzah Raza)

I believe in cheering people on. I believe that everyone brings something unique and special to the table, and when we give people the encouragement, tools, and autonomy to achieve their goals, they will. I have always been incredibly passionate about this.

I am driven to help people become the best they can be. I was fortunate to have some great mentors and incredibly supportive parents who encouraged me.

I have had some bad job experiences in the past as well. These experiences shaped me into wanting to help leaders and professionals achieve their goals and overcome barriers. I love to find ways to recognize people and acknowledge what they are working toward, and we discuss this in our programs.

I believe that everyone brings something unique and special to the table, and when we give people the encouragement, tools, and autonomy to achieve their goals, they will.

The work Rainmaker does has been described as transformational for workplace culture in companies. Have you ever stopped to consider how many lives you’ve changed with your work?

You know, not really. I don’t really think about it. It’s sort of one soul at a time, one human at a time with coaching. I recently have had people reach out to me—either former clients or consultants—who have sent me gifts and reached out to me and said things like, “You changed my career    and I’ll never forget it.” Or they call after they’ve retired and say, “I want to work with you.” And I’ve hired them. I have several consultants who are past clients, which is cool, because it means, you know, that they were somehow influenced by what we Rainmaker did, not necessarily me personally, but what we Rainmaker did, and they want to be part of that, which is nice.

I am driven to help people become the best they can be.

What’s your personal philosophy?

(Photo courtesy of Fizzah Raza)

Don’t sweat the small stuff.

I went through a period of tremendous upheavals and losses. Right after college, I had just had a new baby, was starting out in a new career, when in a short period I lost my father to cancer and one of my best friends to the war in Iraq. When you are juggling big stuff like that, you don’t get lost in the weeds. In order to get through it, you just have to be very laser-focused on what you need to do to be successful. In the midst of all of that chaos, there is perspective on what is truly important.

People ask if it gets easier as you become more experienced or a business owner, and I tell them it does not. Some things come more quickly, but successful business owners never stop working hard; they never stop innovating, and the truth is, they work even more. If you love the work you are doing, you can’t complain. 

What are you proudest of?

Some of the work I am the proudest of includes developing a women’s initiative training for a national firm, developing content around leadership, and forming a group of managing partners called CEO Grow over the past several years. These leaders from across the U.S. get together in Nashville twice a year to learn and support one another. It is fascinating to see how strong these leaders are and how willing they are to help others. I continue to be blown away by leaders in the accounting space.

Did you have any mentors that shaped the way you think about business?

I met Blaine Lee, one of the founders of Franklin Covey, early in my career at a conference where he was speaking. He was a super smart guy, mentor to Oprah, and he had just written a book called The Power Principle.

He told me, “I see something in you. And I’m going to tell you what you need to do. I see you as an influencer of women, of people.” And I thought, “Oh my gosh, I’m 24 years old. I don’t think that’s right.” But he was spot on. He drew this graphic. He said, “This is your triangle of what you need to do. Read everything you can get your hands on. Gain experience, so you have a platform. Bring relevancy, so people listen to you.”

This experience impacted me, and Blaine became a mentor until he passed away. He is part of the reason I am passionate about helping others realize their passions and potential.

What are some of the reads you recommend?

One of my favorite books ever is Patrick Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

Jim Collins’ book Good to Great has a lot of applicable content and really resonated with me.

I am currently reading Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones by James Clear and Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath.

Any advice for aspiring professionals?

I would tell up-and-coming professionals, students, current and future leaders to understand that sometimes life feels overwhelming with responsibilities—classes, career, family—and sometimes we lose our motivation or spark. My hope is that we pause and reflect on why we are doing the things we are doing to become reenergized. I hope that we all jump out of bed in the morning with the same optimism and energy we had when we were 5. I plan to write books and programs around these topics in the future. I appreciate those people at MTSU and beyond who invested in me so that I can invest in others. It brings to mind the adage from Benjamin Zulu Ke, “To inspire people, don’t show them your superpower; show them theirs.”

Angie Grissom (B.B.A., ’00)

Owner, The Rainmaker Companies

Most Powerful Women in Accounting

Top 25 Thought Leader from CPA Practice Advisor

Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting for 10 consecutive years (2011–21) by Accounting Today

Beta Gamma Sigma Business National Achievement Award (2019)

MTSU Jennings A. Jones College of Business Exemplar Award (2018)

Nashville Business Journal Women of Influence Award (2017)

Top 40 Under 40 CPA Practice Advisor

Employee acct 9/12/13 by LAM (PZRNFAC)