Friday, March 23rd, 2018


“Very few of us are what we seem.” – Agatha Christie

Early this morning, in the dark, I was reading an Agatha Christie novel. A brief passage from the book caused me to pause and think about life in a CPA firm. Also, about life in general in our current world.

Generalization can be described as the act of making vague or indefinite statements. Read the passage, below. Think about it. Do you ever attempt to address problems in your firm by making generalizations?

I often wonder why the whole world is so prone to generalize. Generalizations are seldom if ever true are usually utterly inaccurate. – from Agatha Christie’s novel, Murder at the Vicarage.

Maybe you can find 30 minutes to read this weekend.

  • "I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow; but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing."
  • Agatha Christie

Thursday, March 22nd, 2018

It’s The Little Things That Keep Clients Coming Back

“One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.” John F. Kennedy

The bathroom facilities at Disney Parks are clean. It’s not a profit center. They don’t make them clean because they’re going to charge you to use them. They make them clean because if they didn’t, you’d have a reason not to come.

Take this thought process inside a CPA firm. Your clients judge you on little things. That is why the work is reviewed, reviewed again and again. The content of the tax return, financial statement, or other report being delivered to the client must be absolutely accurate.

The client assumes you are accurate in your work. That is why they hired a CPA in the first place. You know how to do things they do not know how to do. They assume you know accounting, tax, estate planning, profitability consulting, etc. if you offer those services. They judge you on the little things.

The client will judge you on:

  • A smudge on a page of their financial statement.
  • A crooked label affixed to an envelope.
  • Misspelling their name!
  • Sending something to the wrong mailing address.
  • Misspellings in emails.
  • The appearance of your office.
  • The way they are treated by your Director of First Impressions.
  • Not offering to hang up their coat.
  • Not offering them beverages.
  • Not having tissues available in the lobby.
  • Not returning their emails and phone messages quickly.

And, the one many of us have done but just hate it because it happened – sending an organizer or correspondence to someone who is deceased!

Why do you want to pay special attention to all these little things? If you don’t it might give them a reason not to come back.

  • "Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies."
  • Mother Teresa

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

Get Motivated – Take Action

joey-havens2_18-748750-edited“We need a wake-up call.” – Joey Havens

I follow Joey Havens, Executive Partner at Horne LLP on Twitter. His tweets often lead me to his blog posts and, to put it simply, he writes really good stuff!

Here’s one of his posts I want to encourage you to read – Mind the Gap: A Wake-Up Call for Professional Services Firms.

We see it every day—automation, implemented well, reduces the amount of compliance work we perform.

We experience it every day—fierce competition from outside our profession pursuing our clients. 

We feel it every day—the market for professional services is demanding and opening the door for “higher value services.”

You know you have to become a true business advisor and consultant but for some, it is a big leap from doing the comfortable compliance work. Take a minute or two to read his blog and follow him on Twitter.

  • "It is always a wake-up call to get beat."
  • Usain Bolt

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018

The Truth About Your Legacy – An Important Message From Alan Weiss

“Just because you are over 50 it doesn’t mean you are finished.” – Alan Weiss

I am sure many of you are aware of Alan Weiss. If not, read his full bio here. When I began my consulting activities many peers recommended the first thing I should do is read his book, Million Dollar Consulting.

When I recently read the description of his new book, it definitely caught my attention. I believe many CPAs should definitely be building their legacy now. The title is, Threescore And More Applying the Assets of Maturity, Wisdom, and Experience for Personal and Professional Success.

Here is Alan’s message:

In our 40s, most of us are tied to a career that requires considerable investment to nurture and sustain. We overlook the legacy that we are—or are not—creating daily.

“Legacy” is not only what we leave to those we love when we’re gone. Our legacy is actually a daily contribution to others, and our duty is to keep adding to and improving it.

It’s poor planning to try to enhance our corporate performance the day prior to a promotion decision. It’s ridiculous to try to create a particular, lasting impression for others on your deathbed. And it’s insane to think that you can change your relationship with family on the eve of a marriage, divorce, or departure.

Are we all in agreement? The last minute doesn’t work.

We mistakenly look to the distant future for our “legacy” to take shape. But the fact is that each day we write a new page in our growing autobiography. The question is, how interesting and appealing is the book? Or is it filled with boring pages and repetitive chapters?

The horizon is closer. That distant line demarking the border of sea and sky has become more delineated, more visible, more imposing. We still have room between us and the horizon, but we realize every day there’s less of it. There’s less time. Because in our 40s, most of us have already lived far more than half of our productive life.

We go from thinking “there’s plenty of time” to “there’s still time, but for what?” We’re all familiar with the adage that no one on their death bed wishes they had spent more time in the office. But what we don’t acknowledge is that most people don’t fear death so much as they regret the things they never got around to doing.  

That’s why our book has to have new pages daily, new chapters monthly. We can’t stop the approach of the horizon, but we can fill the distance with meaningful productivity and contribution.

With Threescore and More, discover what you can do to create your legacy while the horizon is still in view. Here’s how to increase your power, not surrender it; how to improve your influence, not diminish it; how to utilize your experiences in the future rather than pine after them in the past.

Each day you have left is an opportunity to write a new page in your story.

Order before April 8, 2018 for special bonuses.

P.S. Remember—You can always make another dollar, but you can never make another minute.

© Alan Weiss 2018


  • "Ageism is too often an accepted form of bias, even though the facts support the value of aging. "
  • Alan Weiss

Monday, March 19th, 2018

Stay Safe Out There – Two-Factor Authentication

“In skating over thin ice our safety is in our speed.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I know that CPA firms are fanatics about protecting the safety of their data. Their clients count on them to treat their information with the highest level of security. I also know that CPAs take this responsibility very, very seriously.

I have observed that some CPAs are not using two-factor authentication with their personal devices and some don’t even know what it is. Perhaps, you feel safe because your devices are tied to your firm and all its security. But, what about your clients and your family?

BillRecently, I have become aware of Bill Hess, founder of Pixel Privacy. On his site, Bill gives advice and creates easy to follow tutorials that anyone can use to protect their privacy and stay safe online, even if they have zero technical knowledge.

Want to learn more? Read Bill’s post, Two-Factor Authentication – What It Is and Why You Should Use it. His post is very informative, easy to understand. I hope you will share it with your team, your clients, and your family.

  • "The best car safety device is a rear-view mirror with a cop in it."
  • Dudley Moore

Friday, March 16th, 2018

Social Media Leaderboard

top socialThanks so much to Avalara for researching and publishing the Accounting Top 100 Social Media Leaderboard. I am so pleased and humbled to be on the list at No. 38.

Be sure to review the entire list to find people you might not know about in the accounting world. The list if full of some amazing people.

I know may CPAs do not use Twitter. If you do not have a Twitter account, please get one. You do not have to tweet anything. Just follow some of the people on this list, scan through your stream a couple times a day and keep current on many happenings and important news relevant to the CPA profession.

  • "The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing."
  • Socrates

Thursday, March 15th, 2018

Do You Listen?

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” – Stephen R. Covey

My favorite Habit from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits is Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood.

In years gone by, when I was trying to initiate change, I couldn’t understand why people just didn’t “get it” and get on board with the new idea.

I still see a lot of this type of behavior in my consulting work.

I had a coach who used much of Covey’s work and she made me see the light… and it is so simple. It is natural for you to try to get people to understand, you want to get your point across and you probably expend great effort in doing so.

You have no way of knowing what is going on in someone else’s mind and life. Try to learn more about their viewpoint, their apprehensions, and fears and it will help you understand. You do this by becoming a better listener.

How do you get better? Read some books, schedule some training and, most importantly… practice!


  • "I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen."
  • Ernest Hemingway

Wednesday, March 14th, 2018

The Employee Experience

“Starbucks was founded around the experience and the environment of their stores. Starbucks was about a space with comfortable chairs, lots of power outlets, tables and desks at which we could work and the option to spend as much time in their stores as we wanted without any pressure to buy. The coffee was incidental.” – Simon Sinek

It seems we have evolved past employee engagement. It is now all about the complete employee experience. From a recent study via Deloitte:

Nearly 80 percent of executives rated employee experience very important (42 percent) or important (38 percent), but only 22 percent reported that their companies were excellent at building a differentiated employee experience. 

Large firms can leave most of this up to their HR departments. However, a vast majority of accounting firms really don’t have an HR department. It’s up to you – partners, managers, firm administrators and even the entire team to shape the employee experience.

Are you striving to have a “differentiated employee experience”?

  • "An organization's ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage."
  • Jack Welch

Tuesday, March 13th, 2018

Find Reasons to Celebrate

“At the end of the day, the fact we have the courage to still be standing is reason enough to celebrate.” – Meredith Grey

Inside accounting firms, mid-March is a milestone of sorts. The March 15th due date passes and there is only one more month until the mid-April deadline is history.

It is time to celebrate and do some special things before those last few, intense weeks, such as:

—Some firms require their people to work on Saturdays during tax season. What if you gave everyone a REAL weekend on the first Saturday after March 15? The office is closed and no one works! We did for years at my firm and everyone really appreciated have a REAL weekend.

—Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day! This year it is on a Saturday, so do some fun things on Friday. Everyone wears green! There will be green bagels and cupcakes in the employee lounge.

—Have green cupcakes or bagels delivered to your best clients.

—It is also March Madness time. During the first games on Thursday and Friday that are played during the afternoon, host an open house for referral sources and clients to watch the games while enjoying some refreshments throughout the afternoon. Guests can come at lunchtime, right after work or anytime during the afternoon. I know a firm that did this every year and it was a very big deal in the business community.

—Send a personal letter (not an email) from the partners to the family of your team members thanking the family for the patience and support for their special person during this time of extended hours.

  • "Life is short, and it is up to you to make it sweet."
  • Sarah Louise Delany

Monday, March 12th, 2018

A Meaningful Tagline

“Our major obligation is not to mistake slogans for solutions.” – Edward R. Morrow

As I was driving the other day, a van passed me. It belonged to a plumbing company and on the side and back of the van was their tagline: Got a leak? Don’t freak.

I thought that it really conveyed a lot of meaning if you need a plumber. Of course, then I thought about all of the various CPA firm taglines I have encountered over the years. I did some browsing and a list is below.

Most of these don’t convey a lot of meaning to me, but a few did. I also found that many firms do not have a tagline at all or at least they don’t have it on their homepage.

What does your firm tagline convey?

  • Always On.
  • Our Strength is in our Numbers.
  • Big Thinking. Personal Focus.
  • Working Together Sets Us Apart.
  • Smart decisions. Lasting value.
  • Candor. Insight. Results.
  • Make Progress Here.
  • Solutions Beyond Traditional Accounting.
  • Making Lives Better.
  • Numbers Count. But Relationships Make the Difference.
  • Knowledge, Reliability and Integrity.

It is always a fun exercise to get your team involved in exploring possible taglines. Some suggestions you probably wouldn’t want to use but you would find them entertaining!


  • "Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom."
  • Thomas Jefferson