Archive for the ‘Crafting Your Career’ Category

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

Try a Stand-Up Meeting

Communication suffers greatly inside most busy accounting firms. Your people want AND NEED more communication from the partner(s).

Some hotel customer service programs recommend a brief, 15-minute stand-up meeting when the shift changes so that all employees know what’s going on at the hotel for their upcoming shift.

Why not try it? Smaller firms, have the managing partner do the communicating first thing in the morning and invite every person. Larger firms, do it by department, by office, by niche service line. Firm administrators, try a brief stand-up meeting with your administrative assistants just as the day is beginning. Firm administrators in larger firms, also have a daily or weekly stand-up meeting with your support professionals (marketing director, HR director, tech staff, bookkeeper/controller, etc.).

Some firms focus on new client opportunities during their stand-up meeting. Inform them of networking opportunities going on in the local business community, give them quick tips on how to properly shake hands, how to start a conversation at a networking event, etc.

Here’s an example:

Talk to your people about client service and instruct them to ALWAYS, when departing from a client encounter, whether in their workplace or at a charity event, ASK:  “How are we doing? Are we taking good care of you?”

Build team spirit, knowledge and add some fun. Most of all….. enhance communication.

  • Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.
  • Bill Gates

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

Practice Your Listening Skills

I often blog about listening (and also about talking). Some accountants talk too much. Some accountants don’t talk enough. Whether you are a quiet leader or one who talks almost too much – - both types need to be expert listeners.

I am reading a book about the Secret Service during the Kennedy years. One agent noted that when he was called into the top guy’s office he noticed a sign on the boss’s wall:

“You ain’t learnin’ nothing when you are talking.”

As the story unfolds, this particular agent certainly kept the quote in mind and learned SO much.

Just something to keep this in mind as you go through your day and through your career.

  • A wise old owl sat on an oak. The more he saw the less he spoke. The less he spoke the more he heard. Why aren't we like that wise old bird?

Friday, September 19th, 2014

Learning To Lead – - The Skill of Being A Partner

Experienced partners often ask, “Who will take over when I am gone?” They often supply the answer themselves….. “There’s not a single person ready or able to do it!”

Being a successful CPA is a life-long learning adventure. To become an effective (and admired) leader is often left to chance.  Less experienced partners and others on the “partner track” need support from the firm.

Here’s a resource that could make all the difference in your future. If the firm won’t invest in your career success – pay for it yourself!

The Partner Institute is forming it’s new class for 2015. It is a three-year, multidisciplinary program designed to develop the needed skills and attributes for successful firm leadership. Session 1 starts January 21-23, 2015 at the Disney Boardwalk hotel in Florida.

The program offers participants a robust, in-classroom curriculum led by facilitators who are experts in their particular topic and have a deep pedigree rooted in the accounting profession. Learn more about it…..


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

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

Still A Great Way To Obtain New Clients – Networking

As I have worked with accountants over many years, I have truly come to realize that meeting and talking to people can be difficult, awkward and yes, even scary. All that is foreign to me because I love people and I love to talk (those of you who know me are smiling… maybe laughing… right now).

So, you may be an introvert but that doesn’t mean you can’t begin to enjoy meeting and talking with people. The huge chamber networking events are sometimes scary for experienced networkers, so don’t feel like you have to begin there. Make the networking you do fit your style.

I attended Accountants’ Bootcamp many years ago. We learned many great things there…. but one thing I liked was a way to help accountants feel comfortable with a form of networking.

Have your partners (maybe the ones who aren’t so comfortable in big groups) invite a banker, an attorney, an insurance person, a client and maybe two potential clients and form a breakfast group to simply discuss business issues relevant to your community.  Set the ground rules – - this is not a meeting to “sell” to each other, it is more like a self-help group.  Referral sources and business owners are likely to participate because YOU are the CPA and YOU know a lot that can help them!

Host it every month or every other month, in your office, serve a continental breakfast (or late after noon snack) and talk in round-table format for an hour or so. Ask each other questions about business issues and get to know each other personally. The members of the group will quickly begin looking forward to the meetings and begin to rely on each other’s opinions.

Don’t limit it to just partners. Have your up-and-comers host their own networking groups. Many CPAs across the country are doing exactly this or something very similar. It works!

Also, read this article on the HBR Blog network titled:  Networking for Introverts.  It’s all about doing this where you are comfortable not stressed-out.

  • Talk to someone about themselves and they will listen for hours.
  • Dale Carnegie

Friday, September 12th, 2014

Fear of Delegating – A Big Issue For Career Success

I am often in discussions about specific partner performance, manager success and the over-whelming workload of many partners, firm administrators and others working inside busy accounting firms. One topic reappears over and over again.

In my survey work for firm leaders, a comment I am sure to hear regarding almost everyone receiving upward-feedback is: They need to delegate more.

It is a very common problem. Perhaps it is because accountants and those surrounding them become perfectionists and believe no one can “do it” as well, as fast, as thoroughly as they can do it, personally.

It is the down-fall of many on the road to career success.

I may have a resource for you.  I receive newsletters from an organization called Mind Tools. They have lots of great tools and resources for team management, leadership skills, time management, project management and so on……

They are offering a new workbook called:  How to Delegate

Three little words…. but not something easy to do.

Three little words…. that could solve the succession challenges.

  • No person will make a great business who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit.
  • Andrew Carnegie

Monday, September 8th, 2014

It’s My Passion

I’ve said it, have you? – - It’s my passion!

CPA firm management is something that I get excited about, want to learn more about, never tire of reading about…. always trying to improve.

Does your CPA firm and the profession of public accounting make you feel the same way? Sometimes, at first, we are truly excited and then as time goes on we seem to lose the magic.

If you ever feel like you are losing your passion for your work. If you feel like you are trying SO hard to make others in your firm feel the passion, read this post by Leadership Freak: 3 Ways To Bring The Dead To Life.

Do your team members seem to be going through the motions like the walking dead? Do they have empty eyes and hanging hands?

The post gives you 5 reasons why passion dies, how you kill passion and how to ignite passion.

I think you will enjoy the blog post and hopefully it will inspire some action steps for you to take.

  • Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.
  • Theodore Roosevelt

Monday, September 8th, 2014

Top 100 Most Influential People In Accounting

Photo on 11-22-13 at 7.08 AMYes, I admit it. Every year I wonder….. will I make it again? Am I working hard enough, am I helping enough people, am I answering enough questions, am I working with enough firms, am I speaking often enough, is my writing (blogging) on target and relevant?

Again, for 2014 I am honored and delighted to be named to Accounting Today’s prestigious listing. I am so fortunate to be among the individuals on the list. I was first named to the list in 2005. That was a year before I started blogging, in 2006, times certainly have changed.

I owe so much to my colleagues in the CPA management world, to the members of the AICPA, AAA and so many state societies and CPA firm associations – they give me a forum, a voice and I am grateful. Of course, a special thanks to Dan Hood and the editors of Accounting Today.

My reports tell me that this blog and my tweets are my best tools for reaching all of you. I also get a lot of great feedback on my monthly newsletter. If you don’t get it, sign-up here.

My advice for today – to all of you….. You have potential that you probably are not completely aware of. Keep your passion burning and never give up. As a young lady, I never dreamed I would speak in front of hundreds of people, and be influential in such a highly-regarded profession as public accounting. Keep your dreams alive.

  • It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.
  • Sir Edmund Hillary

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

When Hiring A Broader View Is Often Better

Many top tech CEOs want employees with liberal arts degrees, according to a recent article on FastCompany.

I’ve heard CPA partners say, from time to time, “Hire me someone with ambition and passion and we can teach them accounting.”

While I have heard this first-hand, second-hand and third-hard, people doing the hiring at CPA firms don’t do this. They look at grades, extra activities and sometimes professors recommendations. Firms want to hire people who can crank-out the accounting and tax work for many years and then, all of a sudden, be able to motivate people, inspire people, attract successful, high-profile clients… they want someone to wave a magic wand and make them business strategists, rainmakers and leaders.

Some of the tech companies have come to realize that you need a broader view on life. PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel studied philosophy at Stanford. Steve Jobs mused that for technology to be truly brilliant, it must be coupled with artistry. Danielle Sheer, a VP at Carbonite (cloud backup service) studied existential philosophy at George Washington University.

Tech CEOs see the value in people who possess creativity, critical thinking and don’t believe there is just one answer for anything.

I always recommend that firms do not always send the same people to the college campus to interview prospective new hires. Mix it up every other year or so. Why? Because people tend to hire people who are similar to themselves.

If you are leading a CPA firm, if you have some say in who is hired – read the article. Contemplate your options.


  • Great vision without great people is irrelevant.
  • Jim Rohn

Friday, August 29th, 2014

Look Around

After this weekend, accounting firms will roll into mini-busy-season, dealing with all of those corporate extensions that have lagged since spring.

When you arrive at the office on Tuesday, take note of the people you hang-out with at work. Maybe even the people who sit nearby.

It’s almost like school. If you sit with the goof-offs, you become like them and adopt an “I don’t care” attitude. You just get-by with doing the minimum required.

If you are surrounded by people who keep focused, work quickly, are friendly yet don’t waste time, they are probably the ones going home at 5:30 rather than burning the midnight oil to hit the deadline. They are also the ones getting the best assignments.

Choosing who you want to be at work also flows downward to those watching you. What do they see? Who do they want to be around?

  • Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them
  • James Baldwin

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Did You Set Goals For 2014? How’s That Going For You?

It’s almost September. We are entering the third trimester of yearly CPA firm life.

  • First Trimester – Busy season (the I don’t delegate very well season)
  • Second Trimester – Recover season (performance reviews, vacations and CPE season)
  • Third Trimester – Gear-up season (end extension season and get ready for busy season)

Somewhere during these seasons you set some goals for yourself. For partners it is usually on a calendar year and for employees it is probably on a “performance” year – May thru April.

I rarely talk to a firm where goal-setting is not part of everyone’s performance plan. The challenge I notice is not the ability to set goals, it’s the ability to achieve them. One of the “seasons” noted above always gets in the way. The usual excuse is “I’m too busy.”

Want to explore your goal-setting approach. Visit Mindtools and take their short goal-setting quiz to learn about some of the obstacles that can get in your way.

  • If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else.
  • Yogi Berra