Archive for the ‘Crafting Your Career’ Category

Friday, April 21st, 2017

International Understanding

“The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.” – Peter Drucker

Not that many years ago, CPA firms in the U.S.A. didn’t need to know much about international affairs. In fact, most people in firms never even thought about international implications.

All that has changed. Even some very small firms now have international clients and U.S. clients operating internationally.

If you work for a large corporation, accepting international assignments is expected if you want to advance your career.

Reading an article on HBR – Will refusing an International Assignment Derail Your Career? – made me think about what CPA firms are doing to educate their workforce about the business aspects of international operations.

In many firms there are partners who are well versed in international business. But, how far down the ladder does this type of knowledge go?

My questions for millennial CPAs, will the lack of international business knowledge and experience derail your career?

  • If people like you, they'll listen to you, but if they trust you, they'll do business with you.
  • Zig Ziglar

Thursday, April 20th, 2017

Success in the CPA Profession

You majored in accounting. You enjoyed all of your accounting courses.

You researched all the best CPA firms and interviewed with many – large, mid-size and small. Some were near home and some were in bigger, more vibrant cities.

You received offers from a few and made your decision.

Now it is time to live in the real world – not home, not high school and not college. It is the world of work.

You are in the world of building a career as a professional and easing into adulthood. It’s about learning what it means to be a professional along with all kinds of accounting, audit and tax topics. It’s learning about the business world and what to do to make a small (or large) business successful. It is about understanding people, getting along with them, eventually influencing them and enjoying working with them. It’s about earning the respect and trust of your clients and peers.

Maybe this quote from Vince Lombardi about football will help you.

“Football is like life – it requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication and respect for authority.”

  • If you believe in yourself and have dedication and pride - and never quit, you'll be a winner. The price of victory is high but so are the rewards.
  • Paul Bryant

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

What Will You Do Next Week?

“The mind should be allowed some relaxation, that it may return to its work all the better for the rest.” – Seneca

It’s here. Tax day 2017. After today it will be officially over for a while.

What will you do next? I’m sure many of you will take a few days off. Some will take more than a few days off. Then what?

I repeat my message every year around this time….. don’t wait on focusing more intensely on issues that need to be addressed at your firm.

I used to joke and say that most CPAs go into a coma-like trance for about three weeks basically doing nothing and then they take a week’s vacation claiming they must “recover” from tax season.

Go ahead, recover but you better make it quick. Times are changing, technology is changing, the workforce is changing, firms are changing and the profession is changing. Don’t wait until June or July to tackle firm initiatives. Make a list of high priority items and begin NO LATER than May 1.

If retaining top talent is an initiative for your firm, please don’t procrastinate on giving them feedback. Some firms put off the official feedback meetings until fall. Something else is always more important.

If you haven’t identified your firm’s most pressing initiatives, get your retreat scheduled quickly – have your retreat in July rather than November!

For tomorrow and maybe even the rest of this week, put all of this out of your mind. Then next week take action.

  • It is necessary to relax your muscles when you can. Relaxing your brain is fatal.
  • Sterling Moss

Thursday, April 13th, 2017

The Next Generation of the CPA Exam

“Success is no accident It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love os what you are doing or learning to do.” – Pele

I just received a press release about the new Exam.

AICPA_ThisWayToCPA_logo_WEB-1jl846vNational Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and Prometric are pleased to announce the successful launch of an updated version of the Uniform CPA Examination.

The next generation Exam, which began testing on April 1, has added additional assessment of higher-order cognitive skills that test a candidate’s critical thinking, problem solving and analytical ability. The Exam also makes greater use of task-based simulations (TBSs) as a means of assessing these higher-order skills. Recent research confirms that CPAs are now performing tasks that rely upon these skills earlier in their careers.

Follow this link to read the press release and the most important changes to the CPA Exam.

  • That is the exploration that awaits you! Not mapping stars and studying nebula, but charting the unknown possibilities of existence.
  • Leonard Nimoy

Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

Retire or Get Retired?

“If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there’d be a shortage of fishing poles.” – Doug Larson

I recently read an interview with actor Christopher Walken. He is 73.

He talked about taking any acting job that came his way these days because he is aging and not that many do come his way. As an actor, any job can be your last job.

It made me think of the many aging CPAs working in firms right now. As the baby boomers age, more and more are over the age of 65 and I encounter quite a few who are 70 – or nearing that age.

I also realize that many younger CPAs in these firms really want the older partners to retire. They are thinking the older partners should play the retirement card – just do it! Eventually, some will be forced out. Sure, it might be gently or it might not.

I don’t personally feel that partners should be forced out just because of age. It should be based on how productive they are and what contributions they make to the success of the firm. I continually hear of partners in their 40s and 50s who are NOT productive and don’t really contribute that much to the success of the firm.

However, if you are a more senior partner, is it time? Do you feel the unverbalized pressure? Wouldn’t you rather retire than “get retired”?

  • There's never enough time to do all the nothing you want.
  • Bill Watterson

Friday, April 7th, 2017

Pay Attention!

“It’s not what you look at that matters; it’s what you see.” – Henry David Thoreau

Often, blamed on being too busy, you don’t often actually see things, people, opportunities, and even dangers.

Are you too distracted to see the things happening around you? Do you really see your family? Do you really see and understand the challenges of your newest team members?

I urge you, as a firm leader, to be alert to a top performer who is slowly becoming NOT a top performer, a loyal manager who seems more distant, a partner who seems to be jogging in place or a family member who is often too silent.

Make it a practice to not just look at people, opportunities and yourself but to keep your eyes and senses open to what might be going on at a deeper level.

  • Whether you call it Buddhism or another religion, self-discipline, that's important. Self-discipline with awareness of consequences.
  • Dalai Lama

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

IMPORTANT TOPIC: Can What You Are Doing Be Done By Artificial Intelligence?

“Some people worry that artificial intelligence will make us feel inferior, but the, anybody in his right mind should have an inferiority complex every time he looks at a flower.” – Alan Kay

PLEASE, please read this great blog post by Seth Godin. Here’s the closing paragraph:

The question each of us has to ask is simple (but difficult): What can I become quite good at that’s really difficult for a computer to do one day soon? How can I become so resilient, so human and such a linchpin that shifts in technology won’t be able to catch up?

It was always important, but now it’s urgent.

So much of what accountants do can and will eventually be done by AI. Think about how it has already happened inside your firm. A simple exmple, we used to turn in an expense report – now an app does that for us – and so on.

In the world of blockchain, things will happen without your involvement. How will that play into the future of your firm? You must keep current and keep ahead of the curve. The things that happen might change how you do things but it doesn’t have to make you obsolete – there will be new and different opportunities for progressive firms.

  • It's going to be interesting to see how society deals with artificial intelligence, but it will definitely be cool.
  • Colin Angle

Wednesday, April 5th, 2017

You Should Have Already Learned This…

“Write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow.” – Lawrence Clark Powell

What should you have learned? Not to write L O N G emails.

This applies to partners, the accounting team, the admin team, the marketing team, the HR team, the tech team – yes, everyone working at an accounting firm.

I would always cringe when I received a very important email from our tech team, written by the IT manager and it was SO long. I knew people would not read it completely.

Often, you want to communicate something to everyone – maybe it is an important tax development or a major change to a long standing process.

Call a stand-up meeting if you have to but don’t expect that people will read an email. Many people don’t even read short emails, depending on who it comes from!

Learn more about this from our good friend Dilbert – here.

  • Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.
  • Mother Theresa

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

It Is A Stressful Time – Stay Positive

“Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.” – Lyndon B. Johnson

When I Work recently did a post that just might help you make it through until April 18th.  – 18 Simple Way to Keep a Positive Attitude.

Of course, I want to put the public accounting spin on some of them for you. You can be cheerful and still not have a positive attitude. It goes much deeper than simply being cheerful. A negative attitude can even promote fear throughout the firm.

A few suggestions:

  1. Stay away from negative people. There is always a few of those whiners inside of every firm.
  2. Fill you mind with positive thoughts. Listen to upbeat music, listen to motivational podcasts, or read books that make you laugh.
  3. Use positive self talk – don’t beat up on yourself if you make a mistake. Don’t think – “I am an idiot.” Think – “I can really achieve a lot of improvement in that area.”
  4. Stop complaining, verbally to others and even in your own thoughts.
  5. Find reasons to laugh. There is always something going on inside a firm during tax season that can cause a good laugh.

During this last week of March – look for ways to remain positive and even to have some fun.

 

  • In order to carry a positive action we must develop here a positive vision.
  • Dalai Lama

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

Cubicle Courtesy Guidelines

“The average American worker has fifty interruptions a day, of which seventy percent have nothing to do with work.” – W. Edwards Deming

A long time ago, I did a blog post about tips for living in a cubicle. Many accountants who have their own office (like partners and managers) sometimes forget how cubicle life can sometimes be very frustrating.

Keep in mind, that some millennials like the open floor plan concept, but most people aspire to have a private office. I like to see cubicles arranged in quads so that four people can have their backs to each other yet are able to swing around to a centralized round table to confer with colleagues.

Working in a cube when you are a beginner is often very helpful in that you can overhear what others are learning and benefit from the conversations in the adjoining cubicle.

A big frustration, however, is the lack of privacy and the fact that associates and coworkers stop by whenever they want resulting in many interruptions.

To remedy that, how about establishing some Cubicle Courtesies to protect those working in cubes and those visiting them.

The following is a modified re-post of the cubicle post I did in 2008 – maybe it will help you design your own office cubicle and shared space protocol.

    • Keep your voice down. Be aware of how it projects, especially when laughing.
    • Don’t enter someone’s cubicle or stop to chat unless invited to do so.
    • Never take something from someone’s cubicle or desk without asking first.
    • Be respectful of those people passing your desk. Don’t assume they have time to chat.
    • If you don’t want to be interrupted, don’t make eye contact with those passing your desk.
    • Respect other’s work time and flow of concentration. If they look deep in thought, they probably are.
    • If the person is on the phone, do not interrupt.
    • Confidential information should not be discussed in an open setting. Move to one of the meeting rooms.
    • Avoid using speaker phones.
    • Do not read what is on someone elses desk or computer screen.
    • Reduce clutter in your desk area or cubicle.
    • Don’t leave food and trash at your desk.
    • Keep eating and snacking at your desk to a minimum. And avoid foods that smell up the office. (Some firms have a “no eating meals at your desk” policy.)
    • Return items to their proper place after using them.
    • Replace immediately anything you use up (paper, staples, etc.).
  • Other people's interruptions of your work are relatively insignificant compared with the countless times you interrupt yourself.
  • Brendan Francis