Archive for the ‘Generations’ Category

Friday, July 17th, 2015

Stay With It!

I recently read a quote by Albert Einstein, “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”

This statement is the key to success for many CPAs firms that are struggling to “get to the next level.” That’s what we used to call the journey to becoming a more profitable, successful, leading firm… getting to the next level. Now we call it becoming a “firm of the future”. Jody Padar, in her new book, calls it becoming The Radical CPA.

All of these terms are similar, but somewhat different. They do mean that a firm is embracing change and welcoming new solutions.

What happens is so many firm leaders, after discovering a challenging situation fail to “…stay with problems longer”. Status quo is comfortable and they put the initiative on the list for “next year” again and again.

I don’t believe it is all about aging partners being comfortable. I find many younger partners and even experienced staff members that still want to cling to what they already know.

Inside your firm, constantly push for life-long learning – – not just for new hires but also for older partners. If you have something that needs fixed, updated, modified, someone has to own it or nothing will happen.

  • Good intentions might sound nice, but its positive actions that matter.
  • Tim Fargo

Saturday, June 13th, 2015

Lighten-Up, It’s The Weekend – Organized, Professional, No Nonsense

Because I love CPAs – old, young, middle-aged – I am thrilled when I get a call to go into a firm and provide some common sense advice on many of the little things that helps build a career in public accounting. It amazes me at the stories I hear about professional CPAs who do not dress the part or know how to host a business lunch!

Yes, for young accountants, “professional and organized” is about building, for middle-aged accountants it’s about enhancing and for older CPAs with lots of experience, it’s about not being embarrassed.

If you are not organized in your personal life, it sure bleeds over into your professional life.

One comment I hear from accountants that are under 40 – especially females – is the fact that partners have stay-at-home wives who “take care of all the little things at home”.

Younger accountants, working very hard to build their careers almost always have a working spouse, who is working very hard to build their own career. These young couples also often have children and they manage home-life as a true 2-person team. Each person has to know how to do a variety of things. Then there are the young accountants, just out of college and living the single life, on their own away from Mom and Dad, and learning to maintain a home life as well as a business life.

Organized at home helps being organized at the office. That’s why this video makes me smile and may help you fold the laundry!


  • Clutter is nothing more than postponed decisions.
  • Barbara Hemphill

Monday, May 18th, 2015

A Light-Hearted Look At Working Too Many Hours At Your CPA Firm











Now, here’s an idea for many CPA firms….. sleeping pods that are designed to let you live at work.. it’s one way to address work/life balance, just eliminate it entirely! You could replace your standard cubicles with these.

Seriously, these pods are in a new space for entrepreneurship built at the University of Utah where students working on a startup have the option to live in a sleeping pod in the middle of a larger collaborative workspace as they work on a project.

Here’s my take on this (you were expecting this, right?) – –

CPA partners will immediately think this is a great idea for staff. Staffers will immediately think this is a great idea for partners. It’s one of the GDs (great disconnects) between CPA firm leaders and CPA firm younger team members and future leaders.

CPA partner thoughts: The staff needs to work so much during busy season, let’s make it easier for them. They won’t need to go home at all.

CPA young staffers thoughts: All the partners like to do is work, work, work. With these they could just live at the office and be happy.

Of course, this is an idea for college campuses.. but could it catch on elsewhere? Did you know the employees at Google already informally compete to see how long someone can live at the office, using company showers, food, and sleeping pods? The record is supposedly around two years!  Read more about these pods here.

(Image via Yazdani Studio of Cannon Design)

  • Happiness is good health and a bad memory.
  • Ingrid Bergman

Monday, April 27th, 2015

One Of The Youngest CPAs

It’s amazing what you might accomplish if you work hard and pursue your dreams.

I enjoy success stories and was fascinated as I read about Belicia Cespedes, CPA. She’s 17 years old and passed the CPA exam last summer.

After graduating from high school at 13, Belicia took a QuickBooks course and enjoyed bookkeeping so much she decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree and study accounting.

As of January 8, 2015, she became the youngest voting member of the AICPA.

Be sure you are challenging and coaching the youngest members of your CPA team. They do not want to be ignored; they crave your attention. Who knows what they might accomplish.

Read more about this amazing young lady’s story on the AICPA site.

  • The person who is waiting for something to turn up might start with their shirt sleeves.
  • Garth Henrichs

Friday, April 24th, 2015

Beginner At Your Firm? How To Get Noticed.

No excusesMaybe you just joined the firm and maybe you have just survived your first busy season. Are you getting noticed? Are you being assigned to some high-profile clients? Are you being sought out to work with the managers and partners who seem to “get it”?

It’s always important to make a good first impression and often inside CPA firms it might take a year to do that. You might think it is safe to keep your head down and grind through the work. That’s what you have heard gets your noticed by the partners. That’s part of it but not the most important part.

You want the partners and managers to notice you. What I have heard, time and time again from partners, is that they can teach bright, new people accounting and tax, but they want more than that.

Be visible, friendly and respectful – Ask questions but don’t interrupt them constantly. Don’t shy away from a partner when you have a chance to just be friendly.

Pay attention. Be a good listener – Out of the starting gate, don’t get the reputation of “being glued to her mobile device.” Seek conversations and advice where you can look them in the eye and soak it all in.

No matter what you think – how you look matters (especially in public accounting). – Looking professional is one of the easy things you can do to help bridge the generation gap with Boomers and Xers. No, you don’t have to wear a coat and tie (or a pantsuit) to look professional.

Speak-up in meetings. – If you are in a training session inside the firm, don’t be afraid to ask questions and ask for more detailed instructions, if you need them.

Show them that millennials are not afraid of hard work. – This is a big misconception with Boomers and GenXers. Research has shown that millennials are willing to devote extraordinary efforts to their work – they just want to do it differently with more flexibility. Explain how you feel and show them with results.

Ask them questions about building your career. – This will show them that you value their experience and want to make the most of being a CPA. If your firm doesn’t have an official mentoring program, informally seek one out. Pick the one you think can help you the most and just ask them.

Be prepared. – Yes, the old Boy Scout motto. Be ready to discuss the review comments you receive on your work. Speak clearly and concisely. Use eye contact and show that you are confident and are willing to absorb feedback and advice.

Be Genuine – This one applies every day. The best possible way to win people over, regardless of their age, is to be yourself. Find ways to open dialogue with all the different partners and managers. Absorb their good habits and build on yours.

  • Learn how to be happy with what you have while you pursue all that you want.
  • Jim Rohn

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

Millennials Are No Longer Something New To Worry About

Millennials are now mature, experienced and ready to take control.

I have been talking about Millennials for years and urging Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers to embrace them, nurture them and learn from them.

There is some great information for CPA firm leaders in this article on Forbes.  Here’s an excerpt:

Companies have also felt the pressure by millennials to evolve, especially because about one in every three employees in the U.S. will be a millennial by next year, and by 2025 they will become 75 percent of the global workforce.  At some companies, such as EY, millennials already make up 60% of their workforce. Technology has ended the nine to five workday, crushed global communication barriers and create transparent offices. They have forced companies to rethink flexibility, meetings and cubicles. They also believe that business should focus on a societal purpose, not just be in business to make a profit. This is why you see so many millennial become social entrepreneurs or support their local non-profit – they always need to feel like they are touching someone and making an impact, regardless of their job title.

Accounting firms have always recruited on college campuses, sought out the young career beginners to become part of the CPA firm team. Be sure your firm is taking advantage of the millennial goldmine you already have.

  • It takes a very long time to become young.
  • Pablo Picasso

Friday, March 13th, 2015

Young Women In Accounting

This week, I have been focusing on the young, valuable talent working at CPA firms. Some very important people in that group are young, career-focused women.

My message to you:  Don’t give up on public accounting! Don’t think you cannot continue your CPA career in public and also enjoy the rewards of personal life.

During the last 10 years, public accounting has become even more flexible. Flexible work arrangements are very common for both females and males.

If you don’t “jive” with your current CPA firm, try another firm before you give up on public accounting.

I firmly believe that choosing public accounting is one of the smartest decisions a female accounting major can make. Being a CPA and working with business owners is challenging, interesting, flexible, well-respected and financially rewarding.

Don’t give-up too easily!

  • If you're offered a eat on a rocket ship, don't ask what seat! Just get on.
  • Sheryl Sandberg

Monday, March 9th, 2015

Don’t Hide

There are a lot of recent college graduates and interns, accounting majors, experiencing their first tax season in public accounting. Are you one of them? If not, send a link to this post to the bright young people at your firm who are.

You were hired because you interviewed well. You asked great questions. You were talkative without being overbearing. You were cheerful and pleasant. You smiled a lot.

Now you have made it to March. In most CPA firms, the days leading up to March 15 and April 15 are intense, fast-paced and somewhat stressful.

During these busy times, you are tempted to simply keep your head down, focus on the work, stay out of people’s way and try to simply blend in. Now is not the time to hide. Don’t quit asking questions.

Often you are not actually as busy as your bosses think you are. Volunteer for assignments. Ask for the difficult tasks. Force yourself to stretch.

The experienced accountants in your firm realize you will make mistakes and they will help you learn as you go.

A partner told me once, “I just wish one of the new kids would simply stick their head in my office and ask me if they could help me. At least I would know they are ambitious.”

Don’t hide. Be visible. Ask questions.

  • You are a possibility that has never occurred before and will never occur again. No one else has had or will ever have your unique combination of talents, experiences and dreams. So don't waste that uniqueness.
  • Patrick Combd

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

They Want Feedback!

This post is about young people wanting feedback – BUT – it is not just about young people. Everyone on your CPA firm team wants feedback from their boss (make that plural inside a CPA firm, where almost everyone has several bosses).

In an article on HBR, NBA hall-of-famer Grant Hill talks about his college coach, the legendary Coach K (Mike Krzyzewski). Hill forgot his shoes for an important away game. Did he get a lecture, did he get yelled at? No, the team lost and there was an ice cream sundae party and another practice to help the team recover from the humiliation of the loss. Coach K’s focus was on teambuilding, not defeat.

According to a 2014 global survey, Millennials said they wanted MORE feedback. They also disclosed that their manager was their #1 source of development, but only 46% agreed that their managers delivered on their expectations for feedback.

Sound familiar? I see this playing out in numerous accounting firms across the country.

Younger workers (under age 35) in your firm want a few simple things:

  • Inspire me
  • Surround me with great people
  • Be authentic

According to author, Tim Gallwey, coaching is about unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their performance. Inside your accounting firm, it is about helping your less-experienced people achieve what they are capable of doing.

  • Leaders have to search for the heart on a team, because the person who has it can bring out the best in everybody else.
  • Mike Krzyzewski

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

Amazing Things Can Happen

I grew up in a hard-working family. Both of my parents worked so they could provide the type of life-style they thought was beneficial to our family and also enjoyable for them. When I observe how young families live now it seems very lavish compared to what I experienced as a child.

My parents just expected (no doubt about it) that when I got out of school, I would work hard and never take advantage of any employer.

Maybe that’s why it puzzles me when I hear accounting firm employees whine about, what I call, hard work. Mostly, I think they are whining about the longer hours necessary during certain times of the year. All professions have “busy” times

My personal story is a success story about hard work (and perseverance). I found a position, a job, a career that I loved and I worked hard to improve. It paid off. Simple as that.

If you are in the early part of your career in public accounting, it can be a glorious time – you are in demand! Firms are hiring. Firms are doing many great things to be sure they retain top talent. The work is challenging and interesting and becoming a CPA means you become “a most trusted advisor” to so many interesting businesses and people.

Think about this from Conan O’Brien:

“All I ask is one thing, and I’m asking this particularly of young people: please don’t be cynical. I hate cynicism. For the record, it’s my least favorite quality and it doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.” – – Conan O’Brien

  • I just want to say to the kids out there watching. You can do anything you want in life. Unless Jay Leno wants to do it too.
  • Conan O'Brien