Archive for the ‘Generations’ Category

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

Monday, February 16th, 2015

Key CPA Firm Issue – Retention. Are You Doing The Right Things Or Just Things?

For years now, in the CPA profession, we have been doing all kinds of warm and fuzzy stuff for our employees.

  • Let’s use Starbucks coffee rather than the grocery store variety.
  • Let’s give them flex hours and core hours so they can sleep late or stay late – their choice.
  • Let’s give them really nice portfolios with the firm logo.
  • Let’s give them firm logo jackets, sweatshirts, t-shirts and coffee mugs.
  • Let’s give them an extra week of vacation.
  • Let’s subsidize their health club dues.
  • Let’s pay them for referral leads.
  • Let’s buy a real popcorn machine for the break room.

Get the picture? Sound all too familiar?

Want to truly engage your people? First step:  Observe, research and solicit information to determine what motivates your BEST performers.

Many studies tell us that engaging millennial employees it is simply being more inclusive. Millennial top performers want to be in the loop, they want transparency AND opportunity. Older, experienced employees in your accounting firm have become accustomed to all the mystery, secrecy and complacency.

Major change is difficult for some CPAs. I like to recommend taking baby steps to improve things inside your firm. It can be a small step but at least TAKE THAT SMALL STEP.

Do this: Take one of your high-profile engagements, one that is challenging and interesting, away from one of your long-time managers (who has had it for years) and assign it to a not-so-long-time millennial (that’s someone under 35 years of age).

That will do more to engage an up-and-comer than all the free bagels you can buy.


  • When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.
  • Simon Sinek

Monday, January 19th, 2015

Winning Is Everything – Management Conference For CPA Firm Leaders

okayWhen I was working at a growing, profitable CPA firm, I attended as many management conferences as the budget would allow.

I truly believe that the knowledge I gained at these conferences helped propel the firm as a leading-edge, profitable, forward-looking enterprise. Winning Is Everything (and it’s successor conferences) is one I never missed.

Why is it important to attend? You become like the people you surround yourself with and the people you know and respect. Over the years I met almost all of the leading consultants who taught me how to create a firm that is not only profitable but one where top talent stays and builds their careers.

Probably more importantly, I met people from firms that were “going places.” They were not stuck in the past and mired in status quo. They experimented and tried new methods and shared best practices. I identified “my heroes” and strived to keep pace with them.

I hope to see you at WIE 2015. Be sure to seek me out and say hello. I am so looking forward to meeting Bruce Tulgan, author of It’s Okay To Be The Boss. Read the book, it will help you hold-on to those bright younger accountants. Click here to hear about The Myth Of Fairness via Tulgan.

Still time to register! It is January 28-30 at ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.

Register and get more info here.

  • Forty is the old age of youth. Fifty is the youth of old age.
  • Victor Hugo

Friday, January 16th, 2015

Helping Your New Accounting Recruits & Interns Rock Their New Job

Have you checked-out Slideshare? If you are in a leadership position in a CPA firm, you need all the resources you can get. I’m always on the prowl for things that will be helpful to you to build a winning culture and a winning firm.

I really like this slide deck (My First 90 Days), on LinkedIn Pulse that is intended to help newbies make the most of their first 90 days on the job.

Starting a new job can be daunting. It’s time to meet your colleagues, impress your boss, get into the rhythm of your new role. So how should a newbie navigate those first 90 days?

There are only 14 slides that provide links to 8 posts on advice aimed a surviving a new job. The eight titles:

  1. Start working before Day One
  2. You can’t fix it right away
  3. Say yes to everything
  4. Ask your coworkers to lunch
  5. Listen to everyone you meet
  6. Make your boss look good (includes quote from Guy Kawasaki: “Either you rise to the top together, or crash and burn together.”)
  7. Take care of yourself first
  8. Don’t try to be the golden child

This is not just for newbies. CPA partners and managers need to read these posts, too. I frequently remind partners in accounting firms, “Don’t forget what it was like to be the new kid!” Most experienced partners admit they were lost, confused and clueless.

  • Make yourself available, work hard, and over time you will make yourself indispensable.
  • Richard Branson

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

Significant Change

Quite often, I address the unwillingness for many accounting firm leaders to accept change. In fact, many of you, as CPAs,  might be tiring of me nagging you about it. I don’t plan to stop asking you to embrace change any time soon!

Notice that today’s title is SIGNIFICANT change. That’s what many CPA practitioners are facing now and in the future.

This quote from Tom Peters, is important for CPA firm leaders to contemplate:

“Gamers’ instinctively ‘get’ the idea of lot of trials, lots of errors, as fast as possible; for this reason among many, ‘the revolution’ is/will be to a very significant degree led by youth.”

In many firms, the percentage of younger CPAs is growing and becoming more demanding. Eventually, they will force change. I hope this happens before too many of them exit public accounting.

  • The journey is the reward.
  • Chinese proverb

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

Identify Future Leaders Early – Part II

Gary & Jim Boomer, is that you with Rita?If you haven’t read yesterday’s post (December 2, 2014) read it first.

I provided my thoughts along with some from Gary Boomer on the importance of identifying future leaders of the firm, and involving them, early in their careers.

In an article in a recent issue of Accounting Today, Boomer provided 10 characteristics to look for in identifying future leaders. Here’s the list:

  1. Look for people who have a tolerance for and can manage risk.
  2. Avoid those who spend too much time in consensus-building. (While consensus is important in a professional service organization, it is time-consuming and doesn’t always lead to good decisions.)
  3. Look for those who can manage a diverse group of people. An appreciation of others’ unique abilities is the sign of a good leader.
  4. Avoid weighing a person’s ability to be a good implementer and problem-solver too heavily. These abilities don’t necessarily make great leaders. Their tendency is to over-analyze and delay making decisions.
  5. Look closely at personal integrity and the ability to trust others; this is of utmost importance.
  6. Look for the ability to turn dangers into opportunities.
  7. Avoid those who are overly competitive and lack humility.
  8. Look for those with the ability to engage, inspire and convince others.
  9. Identify those who have an instinct to know which problems to solve – not just how to solve problems.
  10. Look for those who have excellent one-on-one social skills, as they are just as important as public speaking.
  • A great person attracts great people and knows how to hold them together.
  • Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

Identify Future Leaders Early – Part I

Gary Boomer, is that you with Rita?Gary Boomer’s recent article in Accounting Today “hits the nail on the head,” so to speak. As usual, Boomer and I are on the same wave-length. His insight into what accounting firms should be doing and not doing is always right on-target. The theme of his recent article is “leaders should be identified early in their careers….”

Current firm leaders often tend to wait way too long to identify future leaders. They may be thinking to themselves, “Young Ted is really sharp. He grasps things so quickly and he can talk to clients in an enlightened and mature manner.” 

The trouble is, firm leaders don’t communicate to young Ted that he has what it takes to be a major player in the game of public accounting, along with an earnings potential to match.

Meanwhile, young Ted is restless. He wants more responsibility, he wants to mentor the new hires and interns, he wants to be assigned to the firm’s premier clients, he wants to learn directly from the best performing partners and he would like the chance to accompany a partner to a client meeting or lunch.

If Ted’s expectations are not met, he will move on to find career fulfillment elsewhere. Your competitors will hire him in a heart beat!

My theory is that most experienced accountants can almost immediately assess the future potential of a young person entering the accounting profession. Yet, they wait and often suffer through failures with struggling employees for way too long and hesitate to invest very quickly in education and development of all-stars.

Read Boomer’s article and see what you think. Check back tomorrow and I’ll list Boomer’s 10 characteristics to look for in identifying future leaders.


  • None of us is as smart as all of us.
  • Ken Blanchard