Archive for the ‘Helpful Information’ Category

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

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Two Great CPA Profession Conferences

Every year I look forward to June. I have been very fortunate to be a speaker for several years at two major CPA profession conferences that are held in June each year.

This June I hope I see you at one of these events. Please be sure to seek me out and introduce yourself. I would love to see you face-to-face.

June 9 – 11, 2014 – The AICPA PCPS Practitioners Symposium and Tech+ Conference at the beautiful Aria Hotel in Las Vegas. Check out the agenda here and get registered. This conference provides the opportunity to get helpful CPE in tax, audit/accounting and Practice Management (including marketing). Janine Zirrith, Firm Administrator with Wilkin & Guttenplan, and I will be joining forces to focus on best practices for Navigating The Changing Waters of Recruiting and Retention.

June 16 – 19, 2014 – The Association For Accounting Administration National Practice Management Conference in San Diego, California.  See the details here including the agenda and other important information.  This is the best conference for people focused on CPA firm practice management including partners, firm administrators, HR Directors, Technology Directors, Marketing Directors and more. Plan to attend my session on Winning The CPA Firm Communication Game.


  • Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
  • Leonardo da Vinci

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

Toxic People

In your personal life and in your business life and probably also in your social life, you can probably name some people who would fit into the category of “toxic people”.

I have often blogged about the fact that inside a CPA firm, a bad apple can truly spoil the barrel and that you should surround yourself with believers.

It’s the last week of March and inside many firms people have been working very closely with each other and spending many hours together. It’s natural to get on each others nerves once in a while. A little frustration and a dose of aggravation is one thing but repeated negativity from a person often grows into a toxic situation.

The word toxic is synonymous with words like deadly, poisonous and lethal. If you have been able to identify some truly toxic people, people who are not elevating and supporting others working inside the firm, it’s time to let them go. Sure, you should counsel them but I imagine you have done that many times with these particular people. This time counsel them out the door.

Want some feedback from your team? Conduct an upward feedback survey this spring. Hopefully, you will consider asking me to help via SurveyCPA.


  • We are born believing. A man bears beliefs as a tree bears apples.

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Please Read, Read, Read

I practice what I preach, at least when it comes to reading. I continually urge CPA firm citizens to read, read, read.

That’s why I want to feature a recent tweet from Tom Peters:

READ. READ. READ. STUDY. STUDY. STUDY … until you are blue in the face. (Age 18. Age 38. Age 58. Age 78.)

Of course, if you are a CPA, you must do a great amount of technical reading but please don’t limit your reading to technical topics. Read blogs, news article and fiction. Read this blog post from Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz on The Value of Reading Novels. I often get great ideas for my consulting activities when I am reading a novel.

For more on reading, on the right side of this blog page, select the category Reading and you can quickly read some blog posts that might inspire you to read more.

I often share a copy of my reading recommendations. You can download my 2014 Reading List here.

  • We read to know that we are not alone.
  • C. S. Lewis

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

What CPA Firm Administrators Do

IMG_4080_2A while back, I asked a group of experienced, highly-engaged CPA firm administrators to tell me how they spend the majority of their time. I asked them to list five things they do.

Here’s just one reply. They identified six. Perhaps it will help you determine if it is time for your CPA firm to establish the role of a firm administrator inside your growing firm. If you are a firm administrator, perhaps this will help you compare your duties to this snapshot.

(60%) HR activities—“This management thing would be a piece of cake if just weren’t for the people…….”

( 5%) Facilities Management

( 5%) IT Management

(15%) Process/Workflow management

(10%) Cash Management

( 5%) Strategic Planning

Comments from this firm administrator: I would hope (and expect) the Facilities/IT involvement to decrease to an even lower level and the Strategic Planning effort to increase even more—but the initial focus has to be on ‘getting the house in order.’    Also—saving Partner time only ‘makes the firm more money’ to the extent the Partners appropriately utilize that increased capacity/resource level.    All that said, I see my primary mission and value as positioning the firm for the future.

(Picture: A group of firm administrators from the Colorado Chapter of AAA.)

  • Lost time is never found again.
  • Benjamin Franklin

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

What Was Your Very First Job?

Some of the most successful CEOs in the country had some interesting first jobs. You can check them out in this article – Surprising First Jobs of 10 Famous CEOS - on the Fast Company site.

How about having some fun during this busy time of year inside your firm or office?

Have everyone describe in a few sentences their very first paid job. Then perhaps your firm administrator can create a matching game with the data, listing the jobs and the names of all team members.

At a group in-office lunch, those attending play the matching game with the forms supplied by the administrator. Prizes are awarded to the people making the most correct matches.

Firms across the country, during this time of year, participate in fun things like this. One year The Association for Accounting Administration compiled ideas and offered a booklet titled, The Fun-tastic Firm to the members. Be sure to share these ideas with your AAA Chapter members and at your CPA firm association meetings.

Tax season is a game. You are doing what you do best and hopefully enjoying the challenges.


  • Just play. Have fun. Enjoy the game.
  • Michael Jordan

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 13th, 2014

CPA Firm Leaders – I Hope You Are Exhausted

FMBIronton102210I recently read a tweet by my son regarding his 5th grade musicians. “My 5th grade flutes and clarinets just exhaust me. They have so much energy and ask sooooo many questions.” 

In case you don’t know or have forgotten, 5th grade is when children select their first band instrument and began learning from scratch. Of course they will be excited and have lots of questions. While my son might be exhausted, I know he’s very happy about their enthusiasm.

In January and February inside your CPA firm you have quite a few 5th graders. These are the new college graduates going through their very first busy season and your interns who “have so much energy and ask soooo many questions.

As an experienced CPA – a senior, a manager/supervisor or a partner – you might feel absolutely exhausted because of the attention theses newbies demand and need.

A band director invests in the 5th & 6th graders so that when they gradually become very proficient and reach high school age, the band director has a group of very impressive, skilled musicians in the high school marching and concert bands. All along the way, while they work very hard they also have lots of fun.

This is the same investment that CPA managers (at all levels) are making – answer your beginners’ questions with a smile, get them excited and educated about public accounting and 3 to 4 years down the road you will have an impressive, skilled, professional accounting team that works very hard and has lots of fun along the way.

Yes, it is exhausting.

  • If a baseball player strikes out two times, but hits the ball on the third try every time he goes to bat, he's still a great baseball player. But hitting the mark 33 percent of the time isn't good enough for band. In band you have to hit the mark every time you step up.
  • John Mashburn

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Enhancing Diversity In The Accounting Profession

I received a press release this week from the Ohio Society of CPAs regarding their annual effort to help minority Ohio high school students explore accounting and business career paths through the Accounting Careers Awareness Program (ACAP-Ohio).

Are you also aware of the AICPA National Commission on Diversity and Inclusion? My friend and fellow member of the CPA Consultants’ Alliance, Mary Bennett of MLBennett Consulting made me aware of it a while back. You can view Commission members here.

If you are in Ohio and know any minority high school students, I hope you will encourage them to apply.  Applications are due by April 1.

Here’s more of the press release:

The program will be held June 8-13 at The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business in Columbus. The application deadline is April 1.

This all-expense paid live-in program will host 45 top-performing high school students who will explore business and accounting careers and compete for college scholarships. The week includes interactive workshops, tours of local businesses and mentoring sessions with leading minority business professionals.

“ACAP-Ohio allows students the opportunity to learn what the accounting profession is all about,” said Edwin Jones, ACAP-Ohio 2014 Executive Director. “Our goal is to inspire students while preparing them for careers as future CPAs – this is accomplished through the leadership and mentorship programs ACAP-Ohio provides.”

ACAP-Ohio is made possible through the support of corporate sponsorships and grants. Interested students must submit an application, a 200-word essay, one letter of reference and an official high school transcript by April 1. Applications can be completed online at For more information about ACAP-Ohio, contact Jerad Wood at jwood@ohio-cpa or 800.686.2727, ext. 315.

Many CPAs only think of diversity in public accounting as being about retaining females in the profession. Yes, it is about that but it is also much broader.

  • No culture can live if it attempts to be exclusive.
  • Gandhi