Saturday, July 4th, 2015

Celebrate Our Nation’s Independence Day

Yesterday, on my local TV station during the noon-time news/talk show, the two hosts took part in a trivia game about Independence Day conducted by a local trivia expert. It was a LIVE show, they failed miserably, not even knowing the city where the Declaration of Independence was signed. So, because I have been amazed by the stories of so many Americans not knowing why we actually celebrate the 4th of July, here’s the scoop via Wikipedia:

Independence Day of the United States, also referred to as Fourth of July or July Fourth in the U.S., is a federal holiday commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, by the Continental Congress declaring that the thirteen American colonies regarded themselves as a new nation, the United States of America, and no longer part of the British Empire.

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  • "May the sun in his course visit no land more free, more happy, more lovely, than this our own country."
  • Daniel Webster

Friday, July 3rd, 2015

Lighten-Up, It’s A Holiday Weekend – Independence Day

IMG_5164 - Version 2“Our greatest happiness does not depend on the condition of life in which chance has placed us, but is always the result of a good conscience, good health, occupation and freeedom in all just pursuits.” – – Thomas Jefferson

“Freedom is never dear at any price. It is the breath of life. What would a man not pay for living? – – Mahatma Gandhi

“Only our individual faith in freedom can keep us free.” – Dwight Eisenhower

“There, I guess King George will be able to read that.” – – John Hancock

“Then join hand in hand, brave Americans all! By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall.” – – John Dickinson

 

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

Be Sure To Participate In The Rosenberg Survey – Deadline is July 10th

downloadThe Rosenberg MAP Survey is well-known and well-respected within the national CPA industry, due to its reputation for accuracy, thoroughness and high participation rate.

Accounting Today calls the Rosenberg MAP Survey “the industry’s barometer for CPA firm practice management”.

Click here to participate in the 2015 survey. Results will be released in September.

I use the results of the survey extensively in my consulting work with CPA firms.

 

  • "Any fool can know. The point is to understand."
  • Albert Einstein

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

Do You Know What You Are Doing?

From a personal style aspect, there are all types of accountants.

While it is true that a person who chooses to become a CPA has an accountant mindset (detailed, accurate, high work ethic, cautious, etc.), they do have different personal traits and styles that drive them forward (or not) in their career.

I have found that nearly every CPA is competent in their field. You have proved it by obtaining the educational qualifications and passing the CPA exam. Plus, you have annual educational requirements and have accumulated years of experience.

Dr. Tony Alessandra says, “Competence goes beyond having a specific expertise. It certainly means being knowledgeable and skillful in your field. But it also means possessing a problem-solving ability that goes beyond your own speciality. If you don’t know the answer, or how to fix the problem, with competence as an ability, you know how to go about getting someone who does.”

Consider these two things relating to your accounting firm:

Do you personally communicate competence on a daily basis to your clients and to your team members? Does your body language strongly represent competence? Do you read and research about current business trends, not just accounting topics? Do you look competent… in all situations?

Many CPAs are extremely competent at accounting, tax, audit, etc. but are not so competent at management, operational, technology and HR issues within their own firm. Do you face issues that are beyond your scope of competence? That’s why you hire a firm administrator or COO!

  • "You can choose to behave in a way that exudes competence, or you can choose to undercut what skills you do have by looking and acting as if you’re not sure of yourself."
  • Dr. Tony Alessandra

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

It’s Okay To Change Mentors

IMG_0142Never feel guilty about “moving on” when you feel like a mentoring relationship has run its course. Seems like in this day and age, nothing is forever.

Long-term mentoring relationships that continually enrich both parties are rare and should be treasured. They are gold.

However, always be open to exploring new experiences. I usually recommend to my clients that they should collect mentors like sea shells. Let me explain. I am definitely a people watcher and I enjoy watching people stroll along the beach (usually on Hilton Head Island). Most of the shells that end up on shore are broken so when a person finds a whole one they can’t resist picking it up, even though they already have several “whole” ones.

Same thing applies to finding mentors. When you meet someone who like an undamaged sea shell – is whole.. has it altogether – latch onto them. In my early years in the CPA world, I called these people my heroes. I would meet someone at a conference or business meeting and realize they really knew what they were doing. I introduced myself and eventually became very close friends with many. Many experienced, competent, professionals helped me along my career path.

Eventually, some mentoring situations seem to simply wear out. That’s okay – don’t draw it out, be honest, disengage with gratitude and be direct. Both of you will be happier. Always keep the door open for the future.

Steve Jobs said, “My job is not to be easy on people. My job is to take these great people we have and to push them and make them even better.” While I agree with that sentiment, my way is not quite so pushy – – I apply constant, gentle pressure and eventually they lean in the right direction. Constant is the key word.

  • "The mind is not a vessel that needs filling, but wood that needs igniting."
  • Plutarch

Monday, June 29th, 2015

Don’t Forget, You Are Selling To Women

“The shopping experience is very different for women than men; the male shopper’s experience is still the default position for many, even most, firms. And yet it is an unimpeachable fact that women are the premier purchasers–of damn near everything. (My message: Wake-up-ASAP-and-smell-the-enormous-opportunity.)” – Tom Peters

Tom Peter’s weekly quote (I get it every Monday), made me think of CPAs working in public accounting, for a couple of reasons.

One, most male CPAs target their sales to male business owners. I have observed that selling to a female business owner is not their main focus. I have also observed that sometimes the male even feels, and acts, awkward in these situations.

Males: Study, research and read about how to sell to females, practice better listening, learn body language, etc. It will also help you in managing your workforce. Also, when you are selling to a male, remember that there is a woman behind him probably telling him who to hire as their CPA.

Two, most accounting graduates are female. You are hiring a lot of them. Begin educating, teaching, and coaching them immediately on how to develop a relationship with a business owner or decision maker. Once the relationship is established, they can ask for their business.

Females: Don’t hide from business development assignments. Ask to accompany partners on visits to clients and future clients. Schedule lunches with attorneys who also serve your clients. Network in your business community as much as possible.

Selling professional services is all about building relationships – virtually and in person. Women have natural talent in this area – capitalize on it.

  • "You don't earn loyalty in a day; you earn loyalty day by day."
  • Jeffrey Gitomer

Saturday, June 27th, 2015

Lighten-Up and Lean… It’s The Weekend

4monitors Roger KramerI have blogged about the trend at CPA firms to use stand-up desks. I have seen more and more of them as I visit firms around the country.

A standing desk is nothing new. Did you know that Ernest Hemingway, Winston Churchill and Ben Franklin used stand-up desks?

The downside is…. yes, it’s tiring to stand-up for hours!

leanchairHere’s a new development that I read about via Fast Company (you should be reading/following Fast Company).

It is a “new chair-ish thing, you sort of get the benefit of standing at work, without fully standing”.

So… lighten-up and smile more this weekend and learn about leaning.

Here is a picture of Hemingway at his stand-up desk.

Here is a picture of Churchill at his stand-up desk.

 

  • "I had learned already never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it."
  • Ernest Hemingway

Friday, June 26th, 2015

Plod or Practice?

IMG_5278I am reading a new book. Just started it this week. The title is Practice Perfect, 42 Rules for Getting Better at Getting Better, by Doug Lemov, Erica Woolway and Katie Yezzi. They are teachers and admit that they see the world from an educator’s perspective.

However, the book has a broad reach and definitely applies to the public accounting profession. After all, CPAs are teachers/educators in many aspects.

You teach your young accountants, in a large degree, by repetition. If they execute a certain procedure (maybe it’s a task that is part of an audit) they will eventually become very skilled at it. What if what they are doing is not the best, most efficient way?

Have you ever considered the mere fact of doing something repeatedly does not help us improve?

You have probably heard the stories about Robin Williams and how he practiced, tweaked, and practiced some more and it all looked so natural. In the Foreword of this book, written by Dan Heath, he tells the story of Chris Rock and how he would go to a small comedy club and try out new material, make note of audience reaction and make small changes, get rid of what didn’t work and get better by experimenting 40 times or more before he did it on Letterman.

Heath asks, “Will we be content to cruise along on autopilot or will we scramble and suffer to get better? Will we plod or will we practice?

I see a whole lot of plodding in accounting firms.

“You can practice shooting eight hours a day, but if your technique is wrong, then all you become is very good at shooting the wrong way.” – – Michael Jordan

Keep in mind, practice requires humility. It forces us to admit that we don’t know everything. Take time to contemplate how you train and educate inside your firm. Even the most experienced accountant should have a practice mindset. You must get better at getting better.

  • "To practice isn't to declare, I'm bad. To practice is to declare, I can be better."
  • Dan Heath

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

Accounting Firms Have A Strong Magnet To Attract Young People

According to an article via Huffington Post, college grads have been focused on the same few companies for the last several years

Business students choose these: Google, PWC, EY, Goldman, KPMG and Deliotte. The remainder of the top ten are Apple, Microsoft, JP Morgan Chase and Procter & Gamble.

This tells us that these few companies are competing for the same students.

Google and Apple have a strong brand and a product. In accounting and banking, people are the product.

However, accounting has an advantage because firms can show the young people their career path.  It’s a very informative article – read it here.

Your firm might not be one of the Big Four but you need to be able to describe the future and how to get there when you are talking to college recruits.

Do your shareholders even know what the future really looks like? I talk to a lot of partner groups where all of the owners are definitely not on the same page. Make this summer the summer you finally identify and pursue becoming a firm of the future.

  • "The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any."
  • Alice Walker

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

It Only Takes A Moment To Be Kind

Often when I am working with CPA firm partners, I get the wonderful opportunity to spend time at the firm talking to (interviewing) the team members. Sometimes it is in individual sessions and sometimes it is in a group. During these sessions and from employee engagement surveys, I received the same disturbing comments.

The comments come from my question, “Do your supervisors (partners and managers) often verbally thank you for our efforts or comment on a good job you have done?”

The answer is almost always, “No”. However, there is always a qualifier, an excuse such as:

  • Bob is always so busy. I know he must appreciate what I do but he doesn’t say so.
  • Jane is often under a lot of stress from the partners so she sometimes gets “snippy” with us.
  • Ted is a man of few words and is so focused on the clients that he sometimes comes across as rude.
  • Sam is quick to anger but always apologizes for it afterwards.

How is the civility inside your firm? Do you have certain leaders who simply use busyness as an excuse for poor conduct?

When you are very busy, the niceties often go by the wayside. Be aware.

“Get that list to me before lunch.” could just as easily be said, “Could you please, get the list to me before lunch?”

Being a great boss, an effective, well-liked boss, often means simply building personal relationships with your employees and being kind.

From his book, Choosing Civility, Pier Massimo Forni says:

“Civility means a great deal more than just being nice to one another. It is complex and encompasses learning how to connect successfully and live well with others, developing thoughtfulness, and fostering effective self-expression and communication. Civility includes courtesy, politeness, mutual respect, fairness, good manners, as well as a matter of good health.”

  • "Every action done in company ought to be with some sign of respect to those that are present."
  • George Washington