Thursday, February 22nd, 2018

Being Positive Can Be a Boost To Your Health

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” – Thomas Edison

It’s that time of year inside busy accounting firms. Everyone is focused and working very hard. Some are also working long hours and even the best clients sometimes cause frustration, not to mention the frustrations emitting from your co-workers and bosses.

Let it go! Be a positive person, in thought and deed.

I have always been an optimist and a positive thinker. I never think that things can go wrong or that something terrible will happen. Of course, there are times when things do go wrong and terrible things happen! But, you simply deal with it and move on with life. I know, it sounds easy but it’s not!

Helen Sanders, chief editor at Health Ambition has written a very helpful article to put you in a positive mood and understand the benefits – 9 Positive Thinking Tips: the Power of Positivity On Your Health. 

Every time you find yourself in a new situation, what are your first thoughts?

  • Are you the kind of person that thinks, “Oh God, this is horrible!”
  • Are you the kind of person that thinks, “Awesome, something new!”

Honestly, in my consulting work with accountants over many years, I see more of the first type of person!

Let’s say you’ve just found yourself stuck at the office on a Saturday, doing extra paperwork:

  • A negative person will grumble about their boss having it out for them, and how they always get stuck with the bad job.
  • A positive person will just get the work done because it’s “something that has to be done, and I’m the one doing it”.

I would like to see you fall into the second category in this scenario. Set a good example. Positive people can make a real difference in your firm!

Read her article and you will learn about the physical symptoms of negativity and also the benefits of positive thinking.

  • "If you can dream it, then you can achieve it. You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want."
  • Zig Ziglar

Wednesday, February 21st, 2018

Innovate

“Art, freedom and creativity will change society faster than politics.” – Victor Pinchuk

I have often written about the need for CPA firm leaders to be more innovative and creative. So many firm leaders are very happy with just following the pack. Their continuing question is, “What are other firms doing?”.

Forget what other firms are doing and work on developing a culture of innovation inside your firm. If you want your firm to grow you must be able to educate your market on your unique approach to public accounting. To the outside world, all CPA firms look alike!

I recently read an article by Jeffrey Gitomer titled, “Still trying to think outside the box? What are you thinking?”

The article is about an artist who wants to create a communication program using art and imagery. It is an interesting concept and I especially like steps he outlines for a creative session. I think they could definitely be used in an accounting firm.

  • "It's impossible to explain creativity. It's like asking a bird, 'How do you fly?' You just do."
  • Eric Jerome Dickey

Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

Enable Your Firm To Grow

Katie“Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, add what is uniquely your own.” – Bruce Lee

I enjoyed attending the CPAFMA Ohio Chapter meeting last week in Columbus. Katie Tolin of CPA Growth Guides enlightened the attendees about the importance of product development, something missing from most CPA firms.

Here are some bullet points from Tolin’s remarks. I hope you find them very thought-provoking!

  • For a CPA firm to grow, they need 3 things: marketing, business development, and product management.
  • In most firms, product management is missing – you need all three.
  • Accounting is a mature profession and compliance work has hit its peak.
  • We are in a sea of sameness. Starbucks elevated the cup of coffee. How have we changed the tax return? About the only thing is e-filing, now everyone does it.
  • Technology is speeding things up and that kills billing by the hour.
  • We have mature products and a mature industry, how do we innovate? It can’t only be about new products (services), we need to innovate things we already do.
  • You must always challenge the status quo. Make it part of your culture.
  • "Employees need to be empowered to please clients. You need two things, happy clients and happy employees."
  • Katie Tolin

Monday, February 19th, 2018

Transformation!

“The good old days are now.” – Tom Clancy

There is a great article by Bill Sheridan via the Business Learning Institute titled, CPAs aren’t doomed … they’re transforming.

I continue to try to get the message across to CPAs in firms big and small … the good old days are gone! You must learn new skills and commit to personal change. Yes, you must transform yourself and your firm.

Here’s a paragraph (but be sure to read the entire article).

To paraphrase Daniel Burrus, your clients still need you; they just don’t need the old you. They don’t need you to manage data and fill out forms. They need your insight. They need you to anticipate the future and help them take advantage of it. They need you to be business advisors, not number crunchers.

 

  • "Life is a moving, breathing thing. We have to be willing to constantly evolve. Perfection is constant transformation."
  • Nia Peeples

Friday, February 16th, 2018

Don’t Discount Older Workers

“The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age, which means never losing your enthusiasm.” – Aldous Huxley

This is a reprint of an article I received and was given permission to use. I think it is important. Accounting firms are always looking for talented people but most hesitate to even consider an older person.

3 Reasons Why Hiring Older Employees Is A Smart Decision

In the 2015 movie The Intern, Robert DeNiro starred as a 70-year-old widower who returns to the workforce as an under-appreciated and seemingly out-of-step intern working for a young boss played by Anne Hathaway.

Initially, Hathaway’s character can’t quite relate to this baby boomer who ditched retirement out of boredom, but by the film’s finale, she comes to appreciate his skills and experience.

In real life, you’re unlikely to encounter many septuagenarian interns, but it’s not unusual for people to re-enter the labor market or launch new careers when they are well into what was once considered retirement age.

And that can be good for businesses that are willing to take advantage of all those decades of hard-earned experience, says Andrew Simon, a partner in Simon Associate Management Consultants (www.simonassociates.net) who himself is in his 70s.

“Starting a new career after 60 is not for everyone,” Simon says. “But it can be rewarding for those with energy and commitment levels that are high, and who are willing to learn new skills and keep up with the constantly evolving technology.”

The question is whether businesses will balk at hiring workers who, in many cases, are old enough to be the parents of the people supervising them. Sure there are downsides, Simon says, but the upsides can be tremendous when it’s the right fit for the right person.

He says a few things businesses should keep in mind as they weigh whether to hire older workers include:

  • Experience counts. Baby boomers come to the table with a whole set of experiences, including 30 or 40 years of interpersonal people skills that make them more adept at dealing with unique situations or different types of people. “On the flip side,” Simon says, “some of them could lack the technical skills that we take for granted in today’s workforce. So, be careful what you are asking them to do.”
  • Self-motivation. The odds are older employees will be self-motivated. “If these potential workers would like to join an organization or start a new career after 60, they probably like the idea of work,” Simon says. “They need to do something every day. Perhaps they view their job as intellectually stimulating.” You do need to make sure of their motivation, though, he says. If they’re just working for a paycheck, that might not cut it.
  • Different age groups have their own behaviors. Baby boomers often have a very different set of values than millennials. “Different things motivate them,” Simon says. “The culture of an organization is very important and can be tricky. You want to make sure these older workers have an opportunity to thrive in your new environment.” While it’s best to avoid stereotyping the generations too much, in general, baby boomers tend to be productive, loyal to the company, willing to put in long hours to get the job done and prefer to have conversations in person.

“Companies that pass on hiring older workers risk missing out on people who could become some of their most valuable employees,” Simon says. “Age shouldn’t be the issue. Instead, as with any hire, the issue is what skills and experiences each of these people can bring to the workforce.”

About Andrew Simon

Andrew Simon, a partner in Simon Associate Management Consultants (www.simonassociates.net), has had a 50-year career as a senior executive. He founded and ran Questar Assessment Inc., the fifth largest K-12 summative assessment company in the U.S. As a serial entrepreneur, Simon also developed and ran businesses in real estate development and did start-ups inside larger corporations, such as Citibank, Bankers Trust, Norcliff-Thayer and Lederle Labs. Earlier in his career, he was part of a team that launched L’Oréal into the consumer products arena. Simon also is a trained and certified Innovation Games® facilitator and has conducted more than 50 client engagements using Innovation Games methods.

 

 

  • "I will never be an old man. To me, old age is always 15 years older than I am."
  • Francis Bacon

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

Be Bold

“Be original; don’t be scared of being bold!” – Ed Sheeran

Sometimes, I have observed that accountants are actually afraid to be bold. Don’t be!

Do things differently, treat your team differently, treat your clients differently and maybe it would be beneficial if YOU acted differently.

Many people believe that all accounting firms are pretty much alike. I have observed that fact over the years. I have also observed that there are some, a small number, that really are different.

I have also observed that there are some firms where there is one VERY bold partner. Well, almost too bold. That person lords over the partner group and the team and everyone seems to fall in line because they are afraid to be bold in return.

One of the questions I have heard over and over again is, “What are other firms doing?” This year, don’t follow the pack. Begin by giving your firm a “facelift.”

  • Is your office modern?
  • Is your logo trendy and modern?
  • Are you offering services that other firms are not?
  • Do you focus on something besides chargeable hours?
  • Are you making the client experience awesome?
  • Are you making the employee experience awesome?
  • Are you operating in the digital world – no more paper, no more fancy, expensive covers, client-friendly portals, lots of social media activity to benefit clients and prospects?
  • Is your website cool?

Read the Ed Sheeran quote, above, again. BE BOLD.

  • "Originality implies being bold enough to go beyond accepted norms."
  • Anthony Storr

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018

Be My Valentine!

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” – Charles M. Schulz

Nothing thought-provoking to read today. Nothing to nag you about. No reminders to do this or to do that!

Just a picture and a simple message – I love working with CPAs!

valentine pix

  • "If you have only one smile in you give it to the people you love."
  • Maya Angelou

Tuesday, February 13th, 2018

Do It Right

“I follow three rules: Do the right thing, do the best you can, and always show people you care.” – Lou Holtz

When I first joined a CPA firm and learned the many steps of proofing and reviewing to make sure the job was right, an old saying kept going through my mind.

“Do it right the first time.”

I have heard it many times from others. When I began writing this blog post, I wasn’t sure where it originated so, of course, I Googled it:

Do It Right The First Time (DRIFT) is a theory from managerial accounting that relates to just-in-time (JIT) inventory where a company only receives goods as they are needed to cut down on inventory costs and production management. The idea behind DRIFT is that management wants all of the processes that make up the JIT philosophy to be done correctly and efficiently, so there are no delays in the production process.

Before coming to the CPA profession, my work experiences were always focused on doing it right; proofing my own work before it left my desk. I soon learned that wasn’t how it was done in CPA firms. Proofers and reviewers always found mistakes!

When your team members are given a task that they are definitely qualified to complete, I hope you expect them to do it right the first time. I hope you, personally, strive to do it right the first time.

 

  • "With integrity, you have nothing to fear, since you have nothing to hide. With integrity, you will do the right thing, so you will have no guilt."
  • Zig Ziglar

Monday, February 12th, 2018

Awesome

“Behind every successful man is a proud wife and a surprised mother-in-law.” – Hubert Humphrey

If you want awesome, extraordinary clients maybe you should be providing awesome, extraordinary client service.

Most progressive CPA firms strive to provide top-notch client service. They are obsessed with accuracy but maybe not so much with timeliness.

Why not try some things that will surprise and delight your clients. They can’t tell if their tax return is technically correct – that’s what they hire you for. They trust that you are competent. They don’t expect much more.

I always ask, “What have you done to make your client say, ‘Wow!’?” It is the little things that make the biggest difference.

You’re very confident that you can have Bill’s tax return to him by next Wednesday. Tell him it will be ready next Friday and surprise him by delivering the final product two days early.

Little things…. when your clients drop off their tax information, have a small gift bag ready for them with a chocolate bar with the firm logo on it, a firm-branded pen or Post-it pad, a wipe for their phone screens – whatever.

Have your team suggest other little things can be done to make clients say “WOW!”

 

  • "Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity."
  • George S. Patton

Friday, February 9th, 2018

Are You The Silent One?

“You create your opportunities by asking for them” – Shakti Gawain

Accounting firms have a lot of meetings. Actually, I believe they have way too many meetings about things that really don’t matter that much and not enough meetings that are actually productive and meaningful to all in attendance.

Staff meetings often turn into lectures. This partner, that partner, the HR person, the firm administrator or maybe the marketing person all talk and the rest of the staff listen.

Many times I have witnessed a meeting chair almost beg for someone to speak up and ask a question. They are often met with silence and lack of eye contact.

Even in the annual tax update session – where the firm tax guru tries to impart tax wisdom about current tax changes and things they need to watch out for this year – many attendees NEVER ask a question. Some of them are hoping that someone else will ask the question that is on their mind.

In the next meeting, ask that question that comes to mind. Make a comment on a topic that is being discussed. That is how you learn, no matter how much experience you have. That is how you build a reputation for being passionate about your work. That is how you build a career.

Don’t be part of the silent majority.

  • "The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge."
  • Thomas Berger