Archive for the ‘Crafting Your Career’ Category

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

The Badge of Honor For Accountants – Busyness

I was recently reading about the leadership qualities of Pope Francis. One aspect is that he manages his time and energy and keeps a schedule that is healthy. He has even criticized other Catholic leaders for their busyness.

It is my observation that way too many CPA firm owners delight in demonstrating busyness. It’s almost like an addiction. They have numerous arguments for their demanding schedules: We don’t have enough people. We don’t have the right people. Our people don’t have the skills. The clients are too demanding. The clients force me into last-minuteness and so on.

If you are a skilled leader you fix these things. You focus on managing your business not remaining in the never-ending squirrel cage of busyness.

  • Beware the barrenness of a busy life.
  • Socrates

Monday, October 5th, 2015

Uphill Battle

3625105886_0423e46a9a_mI feel their pain.

I am talking about accounting firm marketing directors/coordinators. They are not like accountants at all. That’s why firms hire them. The owners want someone who knows something about actual professional service firm marketing. PSF marketing is different from regular marketing. The owners don’t always realize that fact and usually believe that a marketing professional will actually SELL. While they think they need a marketing person, they dig their heels in when it comes to listening to the marketing person.

Often it is a real uphill battle for the marketing director to obtain the support of the owner group as they do their best to brand the firm as unique, creative and original.

My advice for marketing directors is: Don’t waste your time on the laggards. Profile the owners one-by-one. Which ones are open to change and which ones will detour you? Then, the next time you have an idea and some owners drag their heels, move on!

Work with the healthy part of the owner group. Actual success on various projects just might win the laggards over.

Photo: flickr user LMAP Megyarsh

  • Spend 80% of your time focusing on the opportunities of tomorrow rather than the problems of yesterday.
  • Brian Tracy

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

Over 60 – Under 40

40U40_logo.5417688fda47dThis morning I was thinking about the recently announced “40 Under 40” by CPA Practice Advisor. Congratulations to all of them. I was so pleased that I know several of them.

I was also contemplating how many people, probably over 60, had (or have) influence in the careers of these younger, successful people working in the accounting profession.

If you are over 60 and working in the CPA profession (and I know there are a huge number of you – yes, it includes me), why not make a special effort to mentor someone under 40?

The ones over 40 and under 60 are probably doing okay for themselves right now but think of the wonderful relationship that could be built between the over 60s and under 40s. They can learn from each other.

So today I encourage you if you are “under 40″ to seek out new mentors or enhance your current relationship with someone “over 60″.

If you are “over 60″, it’s time to give back. Identify one of those “under 40s” who have already proven they have something special and help them grow it.

  • Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.
  • Samuel Ullman

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

Check-in With Your Team – How Are They Doing With Their Goals?

Before CPAs became so unrealistically busy in the late summer and fall, they used to use September as the month to touch base on goals. Most firms used the cycle of formal, more comprehensive performance feedback in June and set goals for the coming year to begin July 1.

Then in late September or early October, individual face-to-face conversations happened to see how progress was being made, what didn’t seem so important any more and re-align goals for the remainder of the fall and early winter.

Hopefully, you have replaced this method with simplified, direct feedback more often, mentoring conversations on-going and fewer goals with shorter timelines.

Even though you have multiple priorities, your people should be at the top of the list. How are they doing?

Star slideTalk with them soon about their goals for the next 3 months and be sure that you always include some stretch-goals for individuals.

Stretch goal – that cannot be achieved by incremental or small improvements but require extending oneself to the limit to be actualized. Expressed in the saying, “You cannot cross a chasm in two steps.”

In this time of talent shortage, it’s time to ask your current all-stars and middle-stars to STRETCH and fill the void in the all-star category!

  • They invented the All-Star Game for Willie Mays.
  • Ted Williams

Monday, September 28th, 2015

Selfie Mode

Get out your phone and put the camera in selfie mode.  (Or, simply look yourself in the eye via a mirror.)

The image is showing you an experienced CPA who owns or works in a growing, successful firm.

Look closely at yourself, study yourself. – Do it now and then come back to read more.

Who do you see? Do you see a good role model? Do you see a great role model?

Sometimes we can do more for ourselves, our firms and our peers by simply looking in the mirror and contemplating if we are truly a good example.

  • Example is leadership.
  • Albert Schweitzer

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015

How Skilled Are Your People At Business Writing

“I’m an accountant, I’m expected to know numbers!” – I bet you have heard that before or maybe even said it yourself. It’s a good excuse for poor grammar and spelling.

I have seen some amazing spelling mistakes via CPAs! I’m not an expert at grammar and spelling myself, so I am not pointing fingers. But I do try to improve and often do research on grammar and spelling because I write a lot!

LynnI like to read the business writing blog by Lynn Gaertner-Johnston. About Lynn.

Here’s an example of one of her posts. It is titled: Ignore These 10 Always-Never Rules.

She explains that sometimes we hold on to “rules” we learned in our younger years or from others in our work world. The rule usually starts with “Never” or “Always”.

Her advice IGNORE these 10 Always-Never Rules: (Read more about each one by following the link, above.)

  1. Never us a comma before and.
  2. Always use a comma before quotation marks.
  3. Always spell out numbers that are less than 10.
  4. Never start a sentence with because.
  5. Never end a sentence with a preposition.
  6. Never split an infinitive.
  7. Always include the other person’s name before using me.
  8. Never start a sentence with I in business writing.
  9. Never use a contraction in business writing.
  10. When using bullet points, always have at least two.

One of the most popular in-house CPE sessions we had at my firm was during the summer when a high school English teacher came in and did a writing workshop.

  • Spel chekers, hoo needs em?
  • Alan Bean

Monday, September 14th, 2015

Improve Yourself

Are you perfect? I’m sure not.

Inside some CPA firms, I see a lot of finger-pointing and complaining about others. We often complain that we don’t have enough “good” people, that young people don’t want to work long hours or that the admin team is completely dysfunctional – the list goes on.

This week, don’t complain about others! Catch yourself before it comes out of your mouth. Then turn it inward. How can you improve yourself?

It doesn’t matter if you are the managing partner or the new hire that started this summer, what are you doing to make yourself better? Give it some actual thought and identify three things you can do this fall for your own self-improvement.

  • You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals. To that end, each of us must work for his own improvement.
  • Marie Curie

Friday, September 11th, 2015

Do You Have A Dream?

When Martin Luther King stood on the steps of the Lincoln Monument all those many years ago, he did not say, “I have a strategic plan!”

No, he said to the world, “I have a dream!”

Keep this in mind when you do your next strategic planning meeting. Do you truly have a dream for your accounting firm? Would others want to go along for the ride?

  • I don't dream at night, I dream all day; I dream for a living.
  • Steven Spielberg

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

An Act of Courage?

There’s a new car commercial out there recently that I hope doesn’t apply to your CPA firm.

The opening line is:

Since when did leaving work on time take an act of courage?

  • Do what you need to do and enjoy life as it happens.

Monday, September 7th, 2015

The Importance of Asking Questions

QUESTION MARKIf you are working inside a growing, profitable CPA firm, I hope you are asking lots of questions.

When I worked inside a firm, I loved the person who had the guts to ask the “dumb” question! Once it was asked, several people would nod their heads and agree that they needed to know the answer, too. However, they were afraid to ask!

Asking questions of firm leaders is rarely, if ever, inappropriate. Even an unwelcome question might go a long way in clearing up a misunderstanding.

Keep in mind that questions promote discussion. Discussion is communication. Communication is how we get things done inside accounting firms.

In my work, lack of communication is one of the most troubling issues inside firms. Firm leaders, it’s up to you to create a culture of open communication. As for the partner group, asking questions is how you hold each other accountable.

  • I don't think a tough question is disrespectful.
  • Helen Thomas