Archive for the ‘Crafting Your Career’ Category

Friday, May 11th, 2018

The 5-Hour Rule – Friday Reading

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” – George Martin

Have you ever heard of the 5-hour rule? Supposedly, it is something practiced by some of the world’s most successful people. I’m not sure if that is actually true or not but the 5-hour rule sounds like a good plan to me.

You take 1 hour from each weekday and devote it to deliberate practice and learning. Things you can do with that one-hour per day might be:

  1. Read
  2. Think
  3. Experiment

Read the entire article and learn more about these three and more.

There you have it, some Friday reading!

  • Reading is to the mind like exercise is to the body.
  • Joseph Addison

Wednesday, May 9th, 2018

Profession Update via Melancon

“Attention is a limited resource, so pay attention to where you pay attention.” – Howard Rheingold

Barry Melancon spoke at the BDO Alliance conference this week. Daniel Hood, Editor of Accounting Today communicated many great points from Melancon via Twitter. Twitter is often a great way to learn things – I hope you have a Twitter account and follow @AccountingEdit (Dan Hood) and @CPAmanagement (me).

Here are some of Hoods tweets from Melancon’s presentation. This is IMPORTANT information so you can better lead your firm into the future.

  • For those of you who believe the profession can be insulated from change, that’s a false optimism.
  • Once AI, blockchain, etc. become accepted, they will completely redefine what we think a professional accountant is.
  • Technical skills are table stakes. Finance execs want tech skills, communications skills, and critical thinking/ judgment skills.
  • Technology and the law are changing what tax compliance means.
  • What the world wants now is a combination of tax compliance and tax planning. Tax reform gives us a great opportunity to reposition ourselves this way.
  • The number of U.S. accounting grads hired into public accounting dropped 20% in the last 2 years. But overall hiring at firms was flat – they’re hiring fewer accounting grads.
  • In 2017, a quarter of all CPA firm acquisitions were of non-CPA firms.
  • The digital age in transforming organizations from the traditional pyramid model to more of a diamond, with automation and outsourcing removing a lot of the entry-level staff.
  • We need to start thinking about ‘fat middle’ firms, with more skilled middle-level employees than entry-level staff.
  • In terms of new skill sets, we’re most concerned about mid-career people who need to unlearn what they’ve already learned.
  • The notion of measuring CPE by the hour has to go by the wayside – it’s not about the hours, it’s about the skills learned.
  • The profession can’t say ‘We’re fine.’ No one is, and we’re not exempt. Are we well-positioned for making the changes that go with not being fine? Yes — if we’re willing to change, if we’re willing to take risks, we are very well-positioned
  • The quality of one's life depends on the quality of attention. Whatever you pay attention to will grow more important in your life.
  • Deepak Chopra

Monday, May 7th, 2018

A Fun Way To Build Your Presentation Skills

“Tough issues need soft skills.” – Kristen Rampe

My friend and CPA consultant, Kristen Rampe has unveiled an amazing new service. She is intent on helping CPAs become better speakers and presenters. For many CPAs, it is a very difficult challenge. It is called Slide Deck Improv.

Here’s a message I received from Kristen:

I wanted to share with you this fun service I’ve been working on lately. It involves helping professionals improve their speaking and presenting skills – e.g. when presenting to boards or at community/industry events. As you know, this isn’t always a strong suit for the technically-minded CPA, but I’ve found a way to help get them some practice in a fun and safe environment. It involves improv, and I’ve even captured some video of a tax manager rising to the occasion: https://kristenrampe.com/slide-deck-improv  

I enjoyed watching the tax manager in the video make his way through the improv session. This is a great way to learn!

An insightful book to read about the benefit of improv is Alan Alda’s If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on my Face?

  • With improv, it's a combination of listening and not trying to be funny
  • Kristen Wiig

Tuesday, May 1st, 2018

May Day & Mayday

“Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.” – William Shakespeare

May 1 is the 121st day of the year (122nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 244 days remaining until the end of the year. Historically, it originated as a Roman festival honoring the beginning of the summer season (in the northern hemisphere). Many, when they think of May Day, think of people dancing around a Maypole (a pole painted and decorated with flowers, around which people traditionally dance on May Day, holding long ribbons that are attached to the top of the pole.)

Mayday, an international radio distress signal used especially by ships and aircraft, has a more linguistic origin than the pragmatic approach of S.O.S. Although a connection to the month of May might seem likely, it is actually an anglicization of the French m’aidez or m’aider, meaning “help me”.

Where am I going with this as it relates to public accounting?

You have relaxed, taken some time off and recovered from the traditional busy season. May 1st is here and you should celebrate, but you only have 244 days remaining to focus on making improvements to position your firm for success before you are faced with another busy season.

You, as an individual can’t do it alone. Enlist the help of many at your firm. Never hesitate to say, “Help me!”

  • With the coming of spring, I am calm again.
  • Gustav Mahler

Wednesday, April 25th, 2018

Problems

“The work is to solve problems in a way that you’re proud of.” – Seth Godin

I love the above quotation from a post by Seth Godin. He is describing what it means to be an entrepreneur.

I believe that this quote describes my mission. I work to help my CPA firm clients solve problems, as the quote says, in a way that I am proud of. Often, it is very challenging, mostly because the problems I am trying to help solve can be solved by a simple solution – change.

You, working in a CPA firm, have the same exact mission. It’s not preparing tax returns or financial statements, it is solving problems for your clients and helping them make needed changes to be more profitable and successful.

Begin looking at your work this way. If you are solving problems, word will spread and you will have more clients. Solving problems is a great way to market.

  • We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
  • Albert Einstein

Tuesday, April 24th, 2018

Processes

“I follow three rules: Do the right thing, do the best you can, and always show people you care.” – Lou Holtz

How did your processes and procedures work during your busy season? Be sure you contemplate this question. Also, be sure you ask your people how they thought the processes worked this season.

Now is the time to work toward making NEXT year better. Identify trouble spots and spend some time analyzing.

I have observed that in many firms they have very well-thought-out processes and they work well until you get to the partner level and then things fall apart.

As a partner, are you a partner or a sole-proprietor working in a multi-partner firm? Is your firm a one-firm firm or a silo firm? Do you act as though, because you are a partner, the rules don’t apply to you?

One-firm firms grow and prosper much quicker and easier than silo firms.

If you are the leader of the firm, maybe you need a partner commitment statement that declares partners will follow the firm’s processes, procedures, and guidelines. Your people will thank you!

  • If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun.
  • Katharine Hepburn

Monday, April 16th, 2018

Pretending

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Confucius

Do you ever feel yourself pretending that you love your work, your career, and your firm?

From time to time, perhaps we all feel that way. As busy season comes to a close for accountants and their teams, this might be something that enters your mind if you work at a CPA firm.

Don’t hide from it, explore it. Public accounting is a challenging profession. Even though firms have done so much to make work life more enjoyable for their employees, there are still long hours, a certain amount of stress, difficult clients, and various other challenges. If you dread going into the office and feel like you are pretending to be something you are not, don’t ignore those feelings. Decide what you really want to be doing with your life.

The good thing is most accountants working in a CPA firm tell me (via surveys and conversations) that the thing they enjoy most about their career is the work. They love working with clients and helping them succeed. They love the work but not most of the other things that surround the work. Things like keeping track of their time, the long hours, the expectation to bring in new business, the human resources challenges and other internal management issues.

Do you love the work and the firm or are you pretending?

Here’s a good article the gives you a list of the top 10 signs that you feel like an imposter at work.

  • It's all about quality of life and finding a happy balance between work and friends and family.
  • Phillip Green

Sunday, April 15th, 2018

Entry-Level Hiring Is Changing Quickly

“Be Prepared” – The Boy Scout Motto

Be aware. You will not need the same type of talent going into the future. Here’s a brief excerpt from an article by Dustin Hostetler via CPA Practice Advisor:

The convergence of technology (namely more artificial intelligence), along with the gig economy, is going to change the way CPA firms hire entry-level staff in the very near future. Basic compliance work will be automated through technology and what isn’t fully automated will be sourced to the gig economy. The new staff you bring in must demonstrate the ability to grow/develop into a client-facing advisor much earlier in their careers than has historically been the case. They also need to possess more skills in the areas of data analytics, financial analysis and strategic thinking.

Now is the time to plan.

  • Preparedness, when properly pursued, is a way of life, not a sudden, spectacular program.
  • Spencer Kimball

Tuesday, April 10th, 2018

What If You Had More Time at Work?

“Either you run the day or the day runs you.” – Jim Rohn

If you had more time, what would you do with it?

If you are a CPA, accountant or support professional working in public accounting, it seems that you are always very busy and have very little extra time. What if you had just a little more free time at work? Wouldn’t it be great to focus on something other than social media?

Marketing guru, Mark Schaefer, interviewed some marketing professionals and asked them what they would do with a little extra time. Many of them said they would get away from social media and talk to people in person. What a concept!

After you wrap-up tax season, why not outline a plan for all of your professionals to make more personal contacts as the remainder of 2018 unfolds? You are in the service business. Talk to those you serve, in person. It is a very natural and non-threatening way to develop additional business for your firm.

  • Keep Your Sales Pipeline Full By Prospecting Continuously. Always Have More People To See Than You Have Time To See Them.
  • Brian Tracy

Friday, April 6th, 2018

As a Mentor, You Are Sculpting

“The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.” — Steven Spielberg

A recent article via HBR – The Best Mentors Think Like Michelangelo – describes how Michelangelo considered a beautiful piece of art was already inside the stone and he worked to release it.

This is a beautiful thought to apply to your mentoring role. Here are some points from the article that might help you as your mentor the young, ambitious accountants in your accounting firm. As you have time later, be sure to read the entire article and apply these thoughts to your firm’s mentoring program.

  • The Michelangelo phenomenon refers to when a skilled and thoughtful relationship partner becomes committed to first understanding and then reinforcing or drawing out another’s ideal form.
  • A skilled mentor can bring out a promising form that might be hidden from view.
  • Excellent mentors devote the time to truly “see” their mentees. It takes time and patience to see their ideal selves.
  • A mentor must earn trust, be accessible, and listen generously.
  • Research confirms that women face more barriers to finding a mentor and when they find a male mentor, it might not result in professional and psychological benefits.
  • One reason is that men sometimes struggle with the important skill of active listening.
  • Men can be great mentors to females if they work hard at understanding some of the challenges of cross-gender mentoring.

Read the entire article and share it. Maybe it’s time to refresh your program.

  • A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you.
  • Bob Proctor