Thursday, July 27th, 2017

My Favorite Agreements

“First we will be best, then we will be first.” – – Unknown

Yesterday, I wrote about employment agreements and partner agreements. Neither are my favorite, however, I do have some favorite agreements – The Four Agreements.

fouragreementsThe Four Agreements is a book by Don Miguel Ruiz. I read this book years ago and still do my best to follow the agreements. I believe that these four simple statements can make a difference in the culture of your CPA firm. I hope you read this book this summer!


BE IMPECCABLE WITH YOUR WORD

Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

DON’T TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY

Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

DON’T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS

Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST

Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.

  • "There is nothing more likely to start disagreement among people or countries than an agreement."
  • E. B. White

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017

Employment Agreements

“Too much agreement kills a chat.” – Eldridge Cleaver

Oh, yes – that touchy topic – employment agreements and partner agreements. CPA firms are famous for having them. Usually, they are part of becoming a manager and for sure when you become a partner. Many firms even have staff accountants sign them.

To be quite honest, after working in public accounting for decades and having signed one myself years ago when I worked in a firm, I have always thought they were not very logical.

My view: If you are a “firm” the clients are clients of the firm and partners are just caretakers of the relationships. Clients really don’t “belong” to anyone – how can you control what a client chooses to do?

If a caretaker leaves the firm and clients also decide to leave the firm, that’s the “firm’s” fault for not strengthening the relationship beyond one particular person.

All of this came to mind because of a recent post by Seth Godin – All deals are handshake deals. I love the final line: “Start with a good agreement. But your future depends on doing agreements with good people.”

  • "My people and I have come to an agreement which satisfied us both. They are to say what they please, and I am to do what I please."
  • Frederick the Great

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

Sometimes It Is Very Hard To Say No

“The difference between successful people and really

successful people is that really successful people

say no to almost everything. – Warren Buffett

Yes, it can be difficult… saying no. But, for your career success and you sanity, it is a skill

that you should try hard to develop.

Many of us suffer from over-commitment. We don’t want to disappoint anyone

and we put our own well-being much lower on the list of important things.

Here is a great info graphic from GetVoIP.com.

How to Say No at Work

  • "Focusing is about saying no."
  • Steve Jobs

Monday, July 24th, 2017

Providing Leadership Training Is A Must

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

There are a lot of good leadership training programs out there for managers and new partners in the CPA profession. Today, I want to make you aware of a great one from ConvergenceCoaching, LLC.

It is a future leaders development program called theTransformational Leadership ProgramTM.  The typical participant is a manager, senior manager or newer partner and the one-year program focuses on leadership behavior and mindset first, then management skills and knowledge of the profession, too.  Convergence runs “public” programs where any firm can send their up-and-comers and they also offer private versions of the program for specific firms and/or associations.

The program is unique from others in that they help participants understand the power of their mindset and the “internal dialogue” we all have that holds us back, or causes us to say or do things we shouldn’t.  It is only after participants understand themselves better that they can then help them develop new leadership, management and practice development skills.  And, participants are personally coached by a ConvergenceCoaching, LLC coach and their accountability to the program, their commitment to change and grow and their leaps forward are greater than in an education-only program.

There is a program beginning in mid-September and information about that program can be found at:

http://www.convergencecoaching.com/what-we-do/transformational-leadership-program/

Testimonials on the program can be found at:  http://www.convergencecoaching.com/who-we-serve/testimonials/

  • "An army of a thousand is easy to find but ah how difficult to find a general."
  • Chinese Proverb

Friday, July 21st, 2017

Flashback Friday – Dress Code Crazy

“Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world.” – Marilyn Monroe

Over my many years in public accounting, this same topic raises its ugly head over and over again. When it came to the “no stockings” thing for females I finally just let it go! There are more important things in life.

Here’s some help for you originally posted in July 2016 – “Going Denim Every Day? Your Team Might Need Some Help.” It’s a fun and helpful one featuring Armanino LLP.

Flashback with me on Friday!

  • "A woman's dress should be like a barbed-wire fence: serving its purpose without obstructing the view."
  • Sophia Loren

Thursday, July 20th, 2017

Adulthood Pushed Back

“The greatest day in your life and mine is when we take total responsibility for our attitudes. That’s the day we truly grow up.” – John Maxwell

Several years ago, Rebecca Ryan warned the CPA profession that the twenty-somethings that CPAs were accustomed to managing had changed, dramatically. She noted that adulthood markers were happening during their thirties rather than in their twenties.

Just this week I found additional information on this topic that I want to share with you.

Think about it. Baby Boomers (born 1946 to 1964) graduated from college, got a job, got married and had kids when they were in their twenties. Gen-X (born 1965 to 1976) pretty much followed this same tradition.

Millennials are different. A report from the U.S. Census Bureau compares how people born between 1941 and 1957 were living as young adults in the 1970s and how people the same age lived in 2016.

Researchers established four milestones of adulthood: 1) Moving out of your parents’ house, 2) Getting married, 3) Having a child and 4) Getting a job.

  • Younger generations are delaying marriage.
  • One in 3 people ages 18 to 34 (24 million young adults) live with their parents. In 1975, it was one in 5.
  • Women ages 25 to 34 who were out of the labor force to take care of their home and family dropped from 43% to 14% between 1975 and 2016.

So, remember many of those twenty-somethings working at your firm have not actually moved into the adult world. Keep that in mind as you mentor, nurture and supervise them.

  • "You're dead if you aim only for kids. Adults are only kids grown up, anyway."
  • Walt Disney

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

New Clients Will Want Cloud Services

“It takes a very long time to become young.” – Pablo Picasso

I cringe when I hear it. The sad part is that now – summer of 2017 – I am still hearing it way too often from CPA firms around the country.

Are you paperless? Are you completely digital? Are you in the cloud? Are you using a portal?

Most of the answers I hear are…. “sort of,” “not really,” “we don’t trust the cloud,” and “we haven’t pushed it with our clients.”

A recent survey by Bill.com tells us that business owners under the age of 55 prefer their accountants to handle all or most of their accounting work digitally. 78% of those 39 and under want paper-free accounting.

I believe that people, in general, are becoming very accustomed to the digital world – from their personal banking transactions to entertainment.

It’s time to give up the excuse you have used for too many years… “our clients are older and they want things in paper.”

Read more about this survey via Accounting Today – Your Next Accounting Client Wants Paperless, Mobile Services by Mary Ellen Biery.

  • "The whims of youth break all the rules."
  • Homer, The Iliad

Tuesday, July 18th, 2017

How Do They See You?

“Leadership has less to do with position than it does disposition.” John C. Maxwell

You are a partner in a CPA firm. Maybe you are a manager in the firm. You are responsible for taking care of clients and leading, managing, inspiring, mentoring, nurturing, encouraging, correcting, inspiring others. That’s a pretty big responsibility!

The “others” watch you. What do they see? As the quote above tells us, they notice a lot about your disposition. Those bright, young new hires can quickly assess your disposition and act accordingly.

Here’s some actual quotes I have heard during my consultations and surveys with CPA firm citizens:

About a high-profile, managing partner of a very large firm: “If you want to be inspired or talk about a problem you DO NOT go to (name of partner).”

About a long-time, successful managing partner of a mid-size local firm: “We never encourage staff to go to (name of MP) with questions, he doesn’t like to be interrupted.”

About another managing partner of a large, local very successful firm: “Most staff people don’t know (name) at all. He is out and about so much that he is rarely at the firm during normal business hours.

As a leader, do you have a welcoming, congenial disposition, one that encourages people to like and respect you? Or are you too busy to even think about what disposition you are communicating?

Be sure to read the quote below (on my blog page if you are reading this in your email).

  • "I've learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our disposition and not on our circumstances.” "
  • Martha Washington

Monday, July 17th, 2017

Those Workaholics!

“If there is such a thing as a workaholic, I’m it and that’s what passes for leisure.” – Steve Earle

I hear it from so many CPA firm owners…. “We are trying to get Ginny to work less.”

I am talking about that staff person who seems determined to work more hours than anyone else at the firm. They work late into the evening, especially during the first quarter of the year. They work almost every Saturday, except maybe during June, July and August.

They have more total hours and more chargeable hours than any other employee at the firm.

I also find that this team member is usually a long-time employee, a manager and often female. But, when I encounter a male working unrealistic hours, it is almost always a partner.

As firm leaders, you love this team member – they have lots of billable hours, they provide amazing client service, they pitch-in and help others when needed.

On the other hand, you worry. Is all of that total time necessary? You actually become concerned about their well-being. You observe them showing more stress and often more negativity than other team members.

As for workaholic partners, who would want to be a partner in a firm where the partners work 2800-3000 hours per year? I actually know some partners that get almost 3000 billable!  Oh, my.

Counsel these workaholics, help them cut back, there is so much more to a career, and to life, than the number of hours you work.

  • "I'm not driven by killer ambition, I'm not a workaholic. I'm a good team player. I don't have to be captain, but I do want to play on a winning team."
  • Jane Pauley

Friday, July 14th, 2017

Flashback Friday – David Maister

“It’s not hard to find smart people. It’s hard to find people who inspire and motivate.” – David Maister

David Maister, now retired, was a great source of valuable advice for those of us working in professional service firms.

Here’s a post from 2013 that lists: Maister-isms: Quotes From The Master.

  • "People at accounting firms are starved for appreciation."
  • David Maister