Archive for the ‘Crafting Your Career’ Category

Friday, April 4th, 2014

Women & Non-CPA Professionals – You Can Do It

This morning I am going to take a trip down memory lane in hopes that it might inspire, encourage or ignite many females and non-CPA professionals working in the profession of public accounting. It might also be a heads-up for CPA partners who depend greatly on non-CPAs and women in accounting to help create a profitable, growing, highly-recognized accounting firm.

I was doing some research and came across a self-evaluation I did early in my career for a mentor/coach I was working with. When I saw it I was surprised. I don’t recall making the comment but I can see how it applied to public accounting 30 years ago.

Below is what appeared on the self-eval form for me – by me. It was not seen by “management” in my firm, just by my outside-the-firm coach. Here’s how I felt early in my career.

Question:  1.  Describe the three most important things this person could improve upon in order to increase overall effectiveness.

My self-evaluation answer:  Get a sex change and become a CPA

As I reflect upon it now, the comment seems sad (but true). I am somewhat amazed that I felt this way. At that point in time I could have given up but I didn’t, even though I felt that if I was not a CPA and a man, I could not be effective and successful in the CPA profession.

Now, I know that my thoughts during those early years working in public accounting were wrong. As I look back, I must admit that my path wasn’t easy. It’s still not easy to build a career in public accounting whether you are a male, female, CPA or not.  The fact is, success in business, in general, is not easy. Life is not easy. You must have a passion for what you do and you have to work hard.

  • Don't limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as your mind lets you.
  • Mary Kay Ash

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Read To Succeed

I continue to blog a lot about the value and importance of reading. I ask you, well I actually plead with you, to continually read – not just CPA stuff – all kinds of books, publications, newsletters, articles, blogs and even Facebook pages.

Reading and then using what you have read as reference when you are faced with a future challenge, problem or “situation” can be one of your best time investments.

I’m glad you are reading this blog! Hopefully, you browse the categories and seek out information that may be helpful. I want to also thank all of you who actually open my newsletter and read one or more of the articles.

Remember…. if you want to succeed, you need to read.  Here’s a message from Jeffrey Gitomer about the importance of reading.

  • If you get to thinkin' you're a person of some influence, try orderin' somebody else's dog around.
  • Cowboy Wisdom

Monday, March 31st, 2014

CPAs – Be Proud Of Your Knowledge, Experience and Skills

My take on CPAs, in general, is that they are very humble.

Of course, there are many who have some egotistical characteristics, mostly demonstrated “inside” the firm. But, when it comes to the amazing resource they are to the firm’s clients, it’s a different story. When they receive a compliment from a client, they usually respond that “It was nothing,” – - “It was no trouble at all.” – - “It was easy to take care of.”

All this brings to light a common communication issue, for CPAs, and for many other people in business. It is also a communication issue in your personal life. It is the issue of deflecting a compliment. If you deflect a compliment, people will stop giving them to you! You have spent a lot of time and money gaining the amazing knowledge you possess, knowledge that you share with your clients. Don’t discount the value of that knowledge.

Some years ago I received some great advice on the topic of receiving compliments. I try to practice it faithfully. It’s very simple and I want to share it with you.

When you receive a compliment simply say, “Thank-you” and move on with the conversation.

  • You know you're old when someone compliments you on your alligator shoes and you are barefoot.
  • Phyllis diller

Monday, March 24th, 2014

Why You Hire Them & What You Expect

When I was working inside a growing CPA firm, we (the partners) would often remark to each other and to others involved in hiring, “Hire them for the sparkle in their eye.” Then, as you can probably imagine, once hired them we proceeded to grind that sparkle out of them!

The sad part is that the managers and partners directly supervising the young people didn’t even realize they were doing it!

Although we were far from a sweat shop, when we hired them for their personality, their sparkle, we should have done a better job at enabling them to shine along with a reasonable measure of hard work and dedication to quality client service.

All of this came back to me as I was reading an article by Andrew Argue of The Bean Counter, as he gives great advice to young people building their careers in public accounting.

Bosses and employees in public accounting can both gain insight from Argue’s article, Don’t Let Your Boss Keep You Down.

Remember, people don’t leave firms, they leave managers and as Argue notes, the best managers don’t make you feel tiny, they make you grow.

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

Friday, March 21st, 2014

What Really Matters Inside Your CPA Firm?

Do you ever think about it? I’m referring to today’s title: What really matters inside your CPA firm, in your family, in your life?

At work some things don’t matter much. Like the size of your office, the size of your cubicle, the kind of coffee your serve, the brand of soft drinks you stock, the time you get to work or the time you leave.

The problem with people is they often make decisions based on things that don’t really matter much.

More things that don’t matter that much:  The kind or color of the car you drive or the fact that your office is a few sq. feet smaller than the partner next to you. How big are things like this in the scheme of life?

I recently read a passage in a book titled, “The Secret Life Of Bees.”  Does the color of a house matter? How big is that in the scheme of life. But lifting a person’s heart – now that matters. The problem with people is they know what matters, but they don’t choose it.

Inside your CPA firm, are you making decisions based upon things that really matter? As an employee inside a CPA firm are you making decisions based on what really matters?

I hope all of you are lifting people’s hearts.

  • The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

CPA Firm Economics

I enjoyed a post recently by Marc Rosenberg – CPA Firm Economics 101.

Much like Marc, for years I have been urging managing partners to actually teach this class at their CPA firm. One of my favorite clients had me come in and do a session for the entire team including all of the admin team. We paired it with a session on awesome client service because the partners didn’t think that the entire team appreciated and cared about the clients the same way the partners did.

A good reason for the managing partners to teach a session on CPA firm economics is that many employees in mid- to large firms don’t have that much exposure to the MP on a daily basis. In general, I think MPs need to be more in-tune with their people…. you know MBWA!

If you haven’t read Marc’s post, follow the link above and read it. Need help? Let me know.

Hats off to my friend Bill Pirolli of DiSanto, Priest & Co. He has been teaching this for years at his firm and even the partners attend.

I find that some client service partners become rather detached from firm management and operations and this is a good way to get everyone on the same page.


  • We've switched from a culture that was interested in manufacturing, economics, politics - trying to play a serious part in the world - to a culture that's really entertainment-based.
  • Stephen King

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

CPAs Live In The World Of Email

I have mentioned this before….  for some of the population, email is dying out. I’m not convinced it is going away anytime soon but you should be aware that your new hires might not be as adept at email as your more experienced people.

As I talk to practitioners and their teams around the country, I hear the constant lament – “I am swamped by email!” It often becomes a bragging contest: I had 100 emails today. Oh yeah, I had 200! That’s nothing, I usually get 300 per day.

Since email is a primary tool of the CPA profession, it might be helpful to learn 10 Trigger Words to Ban From Your Emails. I found them in an article on Inc.  Here they are…. but follow the link to read more about them.

Unfortunately – it’s dismissive

But – it’s jarring and too informal for business

Sincerely – a common signature word has become meaningless

Regrettably – the sender doesn’t usually feel regret

Best – don’t use it if you don’t have data to back it up

Amazing – just as “best” it is better to skip such words

Statistically – be specific with statistics

Formally – what does “formally introduce myself” really mean anyway?

Interestingly – it’s a filler word, skip it.

Remotely – what does it mean to work remotely? Iceland is remote. Just say you’ll be working offsite.


  • I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made the right.
  • Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

No One Is Coming To Save You

I really enjoyed the recent article by Andrew Argue of The Bean Counter.

He notes that as a child he would daydream about a “hero” coming along to save him from his routine life or an unknown person giving him a million dollars. Then life would be easy.

Think about Hagrid entering Harry Potter’s life and changing it forever – taking him into a life of magical mystery.

Argue notes, as he got older he realized no one was going to make his adventure for him. Sure other people might help make your dream come true. There are mentors and sponsors along the way but no one can create the life you want but you.

You have to create your own dream or adventure then take action and work hard to make it come true.

I think you’ll enjoy reading the entire article.

  • Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do.
  • Mark Twain

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

Keep The Conversations Going

The CPA profession is facing a very challenging talent shortage. There is no end in sight. With each passing day it becomes more and more important to retain your valuable employees.

Here’s some great ideas I picked up at the annual CPA Consultants’ Alliance meeting yesterday in Nashville. The meeting continues today.

  • There are different generations working inside your firm but please don’t put them in a box! There are some Boomers who think like Millennials and vice versa. There are Gen-Xers who act like millennials and so on. People are people and breaking down the walls between generations is a valuable step to take.
  • Be sure to communicate! That is one of the biggest issues inside CPA firms. Many leaders think they have communicated but in reality they haven’t. Make use of Stay Interviews – - What would have to happen for you to commit to staying at our firm and building your career?
  • Have your managers form groups for communication. Suggest each manager form a Table of Eight (or if you are a smaller firm a Table of Three). These groups get together periodically just to talk about issues and about their careers.  A manager leads the discussion and it could be a manager that people rarely work with.  Be creative with these groups.

Before you leave this page, look to the right. I have added two new pictures to – Is That You With Rita?  Terry Putney of Transition Advisors and Carrie Steffen of The Whetstone Group.  We are having a great time in Nashville.

  • I come from this really small town near Nashville, Tennessee where everything was la-di-da and normal.
  • Miley Cyrus

Monday, February 24th, 2014

AICPA PCPS HR Forum – Key West

I made my first trip to Key West last week. It was hot and humid. Quite a change from the often sub-zero of Ohio this winter.

The AICPA HR Forum attracted an amazing group this year. The purpose is to gather a small group of HR Directors, Learning Directors, COOs and some partners that are focused on the human resource area of their firm.

We had 31 (just the right size for networking and getting to know each other) people in attendance. The largest firm represented has 7,000 people and the smallest has 8. Guess what? Many of the same challenges, issues and frustrations.  While there are challenges, these firms are focused on making their firms a place where people will want to stay and build their career in public accounting.

Thanks to PCPS for allowing me to be a part of this for the third consecutive year. Most of us attended the group dinner on Thursday evening and then enjoyed a stroll on Duval Street.

HR Forum1 HR Forum3 HR Forum2

  • I drink to make other people more interesting.
  • Ernest Hemingway