Archive for the ‘Crafting Your Career’ Category

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

Grades Or Grit

I like to work with people who have grit.

To me that means:

  • They are not hesitant to say what’s on their mind.
  • They continually give honest feedback and encouragement to those around them.
  • They don’t “walk on egg shells” because some people they work with are very sensitive or very explosive.
  • They also continually and positively push people to do their best.

When you are hiring or when you are assessing your fleet of interns to identify future hires, it is not about their GPA. Experts tell us that when a young person is about 5 years into their career, all the grades and academic credentials in the world don’t mean anything anymore.

I have observed that first-hand over my career. If you are a leader in your firm I bet you have observed it, too. So… work with that.

Leaders with grit create team of doers not talkers.

Here’s a book to use as a resource – The Soft Edge: Where Great Companies Find Lasting Success by Rich Karlgaard.

Being a Baby Boomer, when I hear the word “grit” I think of John Wayne. How about you?

  • In the real world, smarts isn't about looking for the next star student with a 4.0 or having an IQ that can boil water. Instead, it's about the importance of hard work, of perseverance and resilience. Call it grit.
  • Rich Karlgaard, author of The Soft Edge

Monday, December 8th, 2014

Helping You Save Time – Here’s A Quick Review Of Last Week’s Posts

It’s a simple thing.      Saving time.      You should try it sometime.

Yes, I am being sarcastic again. As you know, working inside a busy, growing CPA firm, it is very important to always be aware of saving time and wasting time. This applies if you still record time daily or if you are a value-pricing firm.

I worked very hard last week to do my part to:  Enlighten you – Give you ideas – Encourage you to be your best – Help you (and your people) earn more money – Be more appreciative of each other – And so on. Plus, never forget that a leader MUST read – often and a variety of things and topics.

Here’s a list of last week’s posts. If one or more grabs your attention, you might want to read it quickly as you start your week:

Monday:  CPAs Will Leave Your Firm – No Matter What Time of Year – Yes, people quit CPA firm jobs in tax season these days.

Tuesday: Identify Future Leaders Early, Part I – Gary Boomer’s article inspired me to elaborate. Be sure you communicate to your young people the benefits of a long career in public accounting.

Wednesday: Identify Future Leaders Early, Part II – My thoughts relating to Boomer’s article were too extensive for just one blog post. So, Here are 10 characteristics to look for in identifying future leaders.

Thursday:  Apologies – Don’t point fingers. Don’t play the blame game. It wastes too much time.

Friday:  Make It Easy For Your Clients – Starbucks Does – Do you avoid client phone calls at times? Do your managers rarely answer their phone, preferring to let it go to voice mail?

Don’t forget my Saturday post “Lighten-Up” post (off topic, humorous or even weird). Holy weekend, Batman!

  • The MORE that you READ, the more THINGS you will KNOW. The MORE you LEARN, the more PLACES you'll GO!
  • Dr. Seuss

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

Identify Future Leaders Early – Part II

Gary & Jim Boomer, is that you with Rita?If you haven’t read yesterday’s post (December 2, 2014) read it first.

I provided my thoughts along with some from Gary Boomer on the importance of identifying future leaders of the firm, and involving them, early in their careers.

In an article in a recent issue of Accounting Today, Boomer provided 10 characteristics to look for in identifying future leaders. Here’s the list:

  1. Look for people who have a tolerance for and can manage risk.
  2. Avoid those who spend too much time in consensus-building. (While consensus is important in a professional service organization, it is time-consuming and doesn’t always lead to good decisions.)
  3. Look for those who can manage a diverse group of people. An appreciation of others’ unique abilities is the sign of a good leader.
  4. Avoid weighing a person’s ability to be a good implementer and problem-solver too heavily. These abilities don’t necessarily make great leaders. Their tendency is to over-analyze and delay making decisions.
  5. Look closely at personal integrity and the ability to trust others; this is of utmost importance.
  6. Look for the ability to turn dangers into opportunities.
  7. Avoid those who are overly competitive and lack humility.
  8. Look for those with the ability to engage, inspire and convince others.
  9. Identify those who have an instinct to know which problems to solve – not just how to solve problems.
  10. Look for those who have excellent one-on-one social skills, as they are just as important as public speaking.
  • A great person attracts great people and knows how to hold them together.
  • Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

I Don’t Remember This Happening Before

Pope_Francis_Korea_Haemi_Castle_19_(cropped)Perhaps it has happened, but I don’t remember a sitting Pope commenting, in a very public manner, about the important role of accountants in society.

I urge you – CPAs in the corporate arena and CPAs in public practice – to always keep in mind the important role you truly DO play. Here’s a tidbit about what the Pope said in an address in Rome to participants of the World Congress of Accountants.

“So everyone—but especially those in a profession that deals with the proper functioning of the economic life of a country—is required to play a positive, constructive role in the course of their daily work, bearing in mind that behind every document, there is a story, there are faces.

“Those who work in various positions in the economy and finance are called on to make choices in favor of the social and economic wellness of humanity as a whole, giving everybody the opportunity to realize their own development.”

Young CPAs just getting a good start in your career – you should be very proud of the profession you have chosen. Please have the determination and pride to stay in the public accounting arena. You will be able to touch so many lives. I hope you always remember that while the hours are sometimes long and the continual learning is challenging, the rewards are great – both monetary and personal satisfaction and pride.

Experienced CPAs, not only should you keep doing what you are doing, you should also keep in mind how many lives – your clients and your employees – you are responsible for. I believe that you have survived in public accounting because you do strongly feel the commitment to helping people.  Business people and individuals NEED your expertise.

Read about the Pope’s comments on the Journal of Accountancy site.

(photo via Wikipedia)

  • The future starts today, not tomorrow.
  • Pope John Paul II

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

Mindfulness – Maybe Some CPAs Should Learn More About It

Public accounting really is a somewhat stressful profession. It doesn’t have to be. Many CPAs work diligently, serve clients well, make a great living and are not often stressed.

On the other hand, I come in contact with many of those who are almost the opposite. They are working WAY too many hours, dealing with many last minute crisis situations relating to due dates, worrying about keeping top talent, and obtaining successful, growing clients. Their plates are absolutely too full and they don’t take enough time off to vacation and enjoy life.

Ellen Langer, professor of psychology at Harvard, is an expert on mindfulness and here’s how she describes what it is:

Mindfulness is the process of actively noticing new things. When you do that, it puts you in the present. It makes you more sensitive to context and perspective. It’s the essence of engagement. And it’s energy-begetting, not energy-consuming. The mistake most people make is to assume it’s stressful and exhausting, doing all this thinking. But what’s stressful is all the mindless negative evaluations we make and the worry that we’ll find problems and not be able to solve them.

We seek stability. We want to hold things still, thinking that if we do, we can control them. (Sound like someone at your firm?) But since everything is always changing, that doesn’t work. Actually, it causes you to lose control. Read more about Langer here.

When you mention “mindfulness” to a CPA here’s the image that pops up: Someone blissed out on a yoga mat, possibly with spa music playing in the background. In other words, it has nothing to do with the situation you likely find yourself in on any given Tuesday.

In a Fast Company article, the author of Overworked and Overwhelmed: The Mindfulness Alernative, Scott Eblin says, “What I mean by mindful is being aware and intentional – aware of what’s going on around you, aware of what’s going on inside you as a response to what’s going on around you, and being intentional about what you’re going to do next.”

In busy accounting firms, some leaders are often not at all tuned in to what is really happening around them. They are self-focused – their priorities are everyone’s priorities.

Here are some tips on embracing mindfulness at work.

  • When's the last time you tried listening to someone without an agenda, and without distractions?
  • Scott Eblin

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

Avoid The Blame Game

An observation – inside many accounting firms, people point fingers.

When something goes wrong there are always those who want to know who did it. “Find out how this happened! Who’s responsible?”

When something goes wrong, don’t focus on WHO to blame. Focus on HOW you and your team can improve a process to avoid making a similar mistake in the future.

Have some faith and trust in your team members and seek their input on how to improve your processes and procedures. They are the ones on the front line.

 

  • Your life is the fruit of your own doing. You have no one to blame but yourself.
  • Joseph Campbell

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

Is Your CPA Firm Mentoring Program Alive & Healthy?

I have had an increasing number of questions about the effectiveness of mentoring programs inside CPA firms lately. While this might indicate renewed interest and maybe commitment to nurturing, guiding and inspiring others, it also might mean that there are questions on the mind of CPA practitioners.

I believe there are four levels of mentoring inside a CPA firm:

Guide (think of a buddy system)

Coach (think showing someone how things are done and actually teaching)

Mentor (wise career development advice and relaying success stories and pitfalls)

Sponsor (putting you reputation on the line in an effort to promote the protege)

Join me and CPA firm leaders from the Washington, DC/Baltimore area to explore the evolution of mentoring in accounting firms and learn valuable best practices. I will be speaking on November 20th in Rockville, Maryland on behalf of the DC and Baltimore Chapters of the Association for Accounting Administration.

Here are the details.

On the right side of this page, look at the categories and click on Mentoring to read more about mentoring for accounting firms.

  • You can't let praise or criticism get to you. It's a weakness to get caught up in either one.
  • John Wooden

Saturday, November 1st, 2014

Lighten-Up, It’s The Weekend – How Young Accountants Learn

Inside accounting firms, beginner accountants learn from older, more experienced and usually wiser CPAs and accountants. My observation is that the best training is on-the-job. How many times have you heard the new college graduates entering your firm remark, “I never learned that in college!”

I recently read Looking for Alaska by John Green. Many of the passages and reactions to situations from the teenagers attending a boarding school and their teachers, made me smile.

I thought the following remark by a very wise, older religion teacher could apply to young accountants – – when they become discouraged by all they have to learn in their first two or three years.

“I will talk most of the time and you will listen most of the time. Because you may be smart, but I have been smart longer.”

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

Twitter & CPAs

I was recently speaking to a group of about 25 CPA firm people – partners, firm administrators, etc. from various firms in one particular state.

I asked how many in the room were using Twitter. One hand went up and it happened to be a CPA firm consultant. Honestly, I was somewhat surprised. No one, employed by a CPA firm in the room, was using Twitter. When I ask this question of groups, I usually have a sprinkling of hands go up.

Twitter is something I use for efficiency and information. I follow a few people and organizations.  This week, I was able to keep current on the AICPA fall council meeting via Twitter (because of the hash tag). It was almost like being there.

Read my June 17th post Twitter As A Resource to learn more.

RobertAnother tidbit, when I blogged about Robert Raiola, CPA (@SportsTaxMan) on January 30th, 2013 and his use of Twitter, I was rather surprised at the number of followers he had, because he was a CPA. He had 14,000 followers. He now has 35,200 followers.

Actually, there are many CPAs tweeting really good stuff! Explore what tweeting can do for your firm.

  • Our legacy is how we spend our time and who we spend it with.
  • Jim Stengel

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

Mentoring Really Does Matter – Join Me For A Special Session

DSCN0750 - Version 3I am delighted to be speaking on November 20th in Rockville, Maryland about the importance of mentoring inside a busy CPA firm. Mentoring is an important part of the succession plan for any firm or company.

So much about mentoring has changed. It is not the old fashioned system where a successful, powerful male taps a mini-me on the shoulder and guides him through the mine fields of climbing the corporate ladder.

There are 4 levels of mentoring inside an accounting firm: Guide, Coach, Mentor and Sponsor – each one is important and helps set the stage for career success.

How healthy is your firm’s mentoring program?

The event is co-sponsored by the Washington DC and Baltimore Chapters of The Association for Accounting Administration. CPAs in public or private, firm administrators, HR Directors, partners and partner wanabes should plan to attend.

When:  Thursday November 20th

Where:  Kaplan University, 1390 Piccard Dr., Ste. 100 – Rockville, MD

Time:  9:30 registration – Presentation: 10:00 – 3:00 (lunch included)

More information here.

  • It is not fair to ask of others what you are unwilling to do yourself.
  • Eleanor Roosevelt