Archive for the ‘Crafting Your Career’ Category

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

As You Advance – Be Sure To Ask For Feedback

Thanks to the Ohio Society of CPAs for once again featuring a conversation with me on their Spotlight Video Series.

This time we talk about the fact that as you advance in your career and become a partner in your accounting firm, you probably won’t get as much feedback as you did as a staff person or a manager.

It’s up to you to seek out feedback, make people comfortable talking to you. Make yourself approachable.

  • Communication - the human connection - is the key to personal and career success.
  • Paul J. Meyer

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

Drip, Drip, Drip

“If you want to make an easy job seem mighty hard, just keep putting it off.” – Olin Miller

Seth Godin did a post this week that made me think of my advice to you. He says: The Tidal Wave Is Overrated. “Yes, it can lead to wholesale destruction, but it’s the incessant (but much smaller) daily tidal force that moves all boats, worldwide.”

You and your firm will not get to where you are going all at once. It’s like an entertainment personality that becomes an star over-night when in reality they have been working at it for 15 or 20 years, through disappointment after disappointment.

Changing your firm will not happen over-night. But you have to take that first baby step. the challenge for accountants is actually taking that very first step. They know what to do but procrastination or complacency sets in.

Godin says you can worry about creating a tsunami, but it’s the drip, drip, drip that will change everything in the long run.

You KNOW what to do…. your challenge is to SIMPLY BEGIN.

  • When you have to make a choice and don't make it, that in itself is a choice.
  • William James

Friday, April 22nd, 2016

Opportunity To Fuel Your Professional Growth From The Ohio Society of CPAs

“A moment’s insight is sometimes worth a life’s experience.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

I am working with the Ohio Society of CPAs on an upcoming program. It’s called the Business Excellence Symposium and is being held May 11th in Westlake, OH (Cleveland suburb).

I’m excited by the work OSCPA is undertaking to advance business across Ohio by helping CPAs and finance and accounting professionals be positioned to meet today’s business challenges head on to drive growth. The topic selection, and the expertise brought forth is really on-point for the greatest challenges facing our businesses, large or small.

Attend and gain strategies and insights from national leaders in the business and accounting community:

  • Create a culture that top talent can’t pass up – with tips from the leadership coach for The Ohio State University’s football program.
  • Maximize staff resources and harness the power of diversity.
  • Unlock growth strategies that leverage your specific skill sets as an accounting professional.
  • Develop practices to deliver better solutions to organizational challenges.
  • Learn about harnessing business growth potential via a panel discussion with me and Katie Tolin, CPA Growth Guides

All in all, it looks like it’s going to be a great event, you can see the details here. Also, if you can’t make the trip, note there is a live webcasted option.

This is a perfect symposium (and affordable) to send several of your millennial accountants.
If you decide to attend, you can use my personal invitation to get a 20% “friends of BES” discount.  Simply send an email to saying you learned about the Symposium from me and you would like to attend.


  • I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma.
  • Eartha Kitt

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

Hear It From Them

“Live your life and ignore your age.” – Norman Vincent Peale

I’ve done many presentations about and written extensively about generations in the workplace. I am convinced that ALL generations better understanding each other, and not putting each other in “boxes” because of their age, can solve most if not all of the misunderstandings inside the firm.

That being said, I do probably focus more on the Millennials. This week, I read an article on the Forbes site by Paul Armstrong. It was directed to marketers and listed three things they need to know so they can better understand the Millennial customer.

10363724_10154114657826535_4176653492470208085_nYou can read the short article and take what you need because the Millennials working in your accounting firm ARE your customers.

The second of the three things was the most important to me because it stressed the fact that we need to hear directly from Millennials so we can better understand what they want and how they feel.

I’ve been guilty. I stand before an audience and tell them what Millennials are like, how they behave (in general) and what they want. I do get much of this directly from Millennials and a lot of it from research, articles, etc. What you really need is to hear it directly from them.

Here’s a quote by an IBM executive from the article:  “I still don’t get how middle aged men on stage can tell us what Millennials want.  Surely we should hear this from real Millennials?”

Rather than listening to us older, non-Millennial male and female consultants tell you what Millennials want, why not ask them yourselves?

Host some roundtable discussions at your firm. Put an older partner at each table with several Millennials and begin gathering information. Ask specific questions and just listen.

You can always survey your Millennials first and then use the results for some lively roundtable discussions.

One of the first things that caused me to focus on Millennials was a statement from a Millennial panel at a conference several years ago. The young man said: “I have an 18-month old daughter at home. Bath time is important to me. At my current firm, I can go home for dinner and bath time and then work for several hours after she goes to bed. That’s why I joined this firm.”

Photo: Lumsden McCormick Facebook

  • Young people are in a condition like permanent intoxication, because youth is sweet and they are growing.
  • Aristotle

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

More About Flexibility

“The simple act of paying positive attention to people has a great deal to do with productivity.” – Tom Peters

Yesterday, I blogged about flexibility. Since it is such a popular topic, I wanted to continue to provide information to you today.

Isaac O’Bannon, Managing Editor of CPA Practice Advisor, in a recent post tells us that many firms really do offer flexibility. If your firm does not, it’s time to learn more about it and begin making some changes.

Here’s O’Bannon’s take on the rules:

As long as you comply with RULE #1: Get the job done. It is also recommended that you comply with RULE #2: Be damn good at your job, consistently. Oh, and RULE #3: Be responsive to your boss, your clients, and anyone else you do business with or for- so that it’s just like you were in the office.

Here’s some firms that made Fortune’s list of the 50 Best Workplaces for Flexibility. #1 was Ryan, an international tax firm. Other accounting firms on the list:  PwC at #12, Plante Moran at #27 and DeLeon & Stang at #30.

  • You absolutely must have the discipline not to hire until you find the right people.
  • Jim Collins

Friday, April 15th, 2016

Accountants Are A Total Blast!

It’s April 15th. It’s Friday. Normally, that would be a great thing – tax season would be coming to a close…. but not this year. The government has extended the due date until April 18. For many of you, you will still be working this weekend.

But wait, you should still be in a light-hearted mood, it’s almost over and being an accountant is cool! How do I know it’s cool? Because a Facebook friend shared a flash card from a deck belonging to their child. Yes, to me you are a total blast… males and females in public accounting are certainly cool. Plus, this guy’s pretty cute.


Thursday, April 14th, 2016

Best Accounting Firms To Work For In North America

Each year, a company that provides in-depth intelligence on what it’s really like to work within an industry, company, or profession, unveils it’s Vault Accounting 50 – a listing of the 50 best firms to work for.

See the complete 2016 list of 50 firms here.

  • If you don't build your dream, someone else will hire you to help them build theirs.
  • Dhirubhai Ambani

Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

Getting Ready To Get Ready

“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” – Albert Einstein

At most CPA firms (yes, I said most), they are deep in the mode of “getting ready to get ready.”

  • Wait! Let’s see what other firms are doing.
  • Has any other firm tried this before?
  • Can we find someone at another firm that has tried this to talk to?
  • Let’s put that on the agenda for our next partner meeting (or next partner retreat).

I have always operated on the premise that we should “try it, we might like it.” Because change is happening so rapidly in the CPA profession, if you procrastinate too long you will be left behind.

Take action on new ideas. Reflect along the way and stay focused on the goal. Leap instead of crawl.

Maybe you will not be completely successful at first but you will get better and better. Don’t throw in the towel just because there are some bumps along the learning curve.


  • A failure is not always a mistake. It may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying.
  • B. F. Skinner

Tuesday, April 12th, 2016

Keeping Good People – It Doesn’t Happen By Accident

It’s not just the Big Four; don’t go to a firm just to get a name on your resume.” – Brad Self, Dir. of Training & Development, CSH

I really enjoyed a recent article in Accounting Today featuring Clark Schaefer Hackett, an Ohio accounting firm.

I’m trying to keep my post short this week (because most of you are very busy), so I won’t ramble on. Click on the link and read the entire article when you have time. However, I want to stress some points that impressed me in the article.

CSH has done what I urge most firms to do. They have clearly defined the career paths inside their firm. Many studies have told us that young people want a clearly defined picture of where their career is going.

Here are the competencies of a Senior: Manage Work | Resolve Conflict | Assure Quality | Tolerate Stress | Coach/Develop Others | Collaborate – Each competency is described in detail for Seniors.

CSH researched and developed a cultural approach that they call “Change-80-5,” where CSH pursues cultural change to increase staff engagement; stronger employee engagement will lead to stronger client engagement with a goal of 80 percent, which should drive the 5 percent organic growth rate the firm has targeted.

I love this quote from Brad Self, Director of Training & Development:

“It was surprising as I met with other firms and talked to people in universities and the academic arena to hear the stigma that hangs around public accounting,” he said. “The academic world is saying that people should use public accounting as a stepping stone to a ‘real career.’ We need to change that. … We want to start talking to these universities about pushing more of a career opportunity — it’s not just the Big Four; don’t go to a firm just to get a name on your resume; go to a firm that aligns with your values and where you’re going to feel like you can grow the most.”


  • Since belief determines behavior, doesn't it make sense that we should be teaching ethical, moral values in every home and in every school in America?
  • Zig Ziglar

Monday, April 11th, 2016


Managing is one of my favorite topics. I blog about it often. I am just trying to apply constant, gentle, pressure to move you toward being a better manager.

Many CPA firm managers are managers because they have been at the firm a long time and they are skilled technicians. That’s a very good thing. Public accounting needs highly skilled technicians. However, they also desperately need skilled managers of people.

quote slide pixMaybe we should have two titles inside accounting firms – Technical Manager and Senior Manager. The difference would be that a “Senior” Manager is at a much higher level of expertise when it comes to the role of Manager inside a CPA firm. They truly are a skilled technical manager but have exceeded expectations and arrived at a place where they can also nurture and inspire younger, less experienced accountants. You would share this difference with all managers so they actually know why someone is promoted to Senior Manager.

As noted in a recent blog post on “When I Work” – employee management is probably the most challenging aspect of your business.

Right now, your talented accountants are extremely valuable and rare. The talent wars are raging and retention is a top topic on every accounting firm’s list.

Here’s a few core principles for managing employees from the blog post:

Selection. This is about choosing the right employees during the initial process.

Measurement. This is about determining how well an employee is performing or meeting goals.

Monitoring. This is how you perform the measurement of employee performance.

Interaction. This is the daily way you and your team communicate and work with each other.

Reward. This is the result of excellent employee performance.

Discipline. This is the result of lackluster employee performance, and may involve firing.

Read the entire blog post for more information on each of these topics. Share this post with your managers and partners. In a CPA firm partners are truly managers, too and some are not very good managers of people.

If you want to retain great people – you have to expertly manage them. Employees don’t leave companies, they leave managers.

  • He who has never learned to obey cannot be a good commander.
  • Aristotle