Archive for the ‘Helpful Information’ Category

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

Winter Interns Arrive. Make Sure They thrive!

UCEBZORVVBI believe in hiring the most promising students as interns and then build your “grow your own” culture by making offers to the best of the best interns. Once you start this cycle, it quickly becomes a rewarding experience for the firm. Make sure it is rewarding for the interns because they go back to campus and TALK.

Visit schools with high quality accounting programs. You can find these high quality programs even in some of the smallest colleges. And, you have less competition.

Over a period of several years, at my firm, we did the above. It wasn’t long before students were seeking us out at campus events. Remember…. we made sure the interns had a great experience.

We exposed them to both audit and tax (they really don’t know which one they like – they haven’t done either). Yes, interns went out on audits. As far as tax, we found they caught on to the software very quickly and became proficient at preparing returns rather quickly (IF and that a big IF, you give them proper training and TIMELY feedback). Don’t “fix” mistakes for them – send the returns back so they can learn.

Here’s a link to an article that highlights South Carolina based accounting firm, Elliott Davis Decosimo‘s intern program. Here’s some highlights:

  • Treat them like full-fledged staff members.
  • Pay them well ($23 – $24 per hour)
  • Give them time off during the work day to be involved in charitable work.
  • Tax season interns are expected to put in overtime, too.

At our firm, we provided them with business cards and encouraged them to give them out to anyone… relatives, friends, dentists, etc. They also received basic training in marketing.

  • The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, November 30th, 2015

Monday Morning Thoughts Worth Sharing

photoI subscribe to Tom Peters’ weekly quotes and follow him via his blog/website. He shares so much of his work and stresses that it all be shared –  steal it, use it, pass it along.

Below are some quotes that were in a recent email from Tom Peters. THEY APPLY TO YOU. The business world is fast-moving, demanding and constantly changing.

“Business has to give people enriching, rewarding lives … or it’s simply not worth doing.”—Richard Branson

“Your customers will never be any happier than your employees.”—John DiJulius

“We have a strategic plan. It’s called ‘doing things.'”—Herb Kelleher

“You miss 100% of the shots you never take.”—Wayne Gretzky

“Ready. Fire. Aim.”—Ross Perot

“Execution is strategy.”—Fred Malek

“Avoid moderation.”—Kevin Roberts

“I’m not comfortable unless I’m uncomfortable.”—Jay Chiat

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”—John DiJulius on social media

“Courtesies of a small and trivial character are the ones which strike deepest in the grateful and appreciating heart.”—Henry Clay

“You know a design is cool when you want to lick it.”—Steve Jobs

“This will be the women’s century.”—Dilma Rousseff

“Be the best. It’s the only market that’s not crowded.”—George Whalin

The quote below is what Peters thinks. I bet you might feel the same way.

  • The times are nutty—and getting nuttier at an exponential pace.

Friday, November 27th, 2015

Secrets to Happiness In Your Accounting Career

IMG_1041I hope that you are not in the office today, it’s the Friday after Thanksgiving a paid holiday for almost all citizens of an accounting firm. I know, some of you sneak in to the office to avoid the Black Friday hassles but I hope many of you are taking a walk in a park or woods, reading a great book or writing an article of your own.

It’s a perfect 4-day weekend to think about some secrets to happiness as you build your career in public accounting or elsewhere.

Live and let live – – Don’t micro manage. Don’t gossip and worry about what other employees are doing.

Be giving of yourself to others – – but some structure around your mentoring activities. Mentoring happens naturally inside CPA firms – enhance it and help others.

Sundays should be holidays – – When I began my career in a CPA firm, no one EVER worked on a Sunday. It had nothing to do about religion, specifically, it was just that our founder believed that everyone needed a day of rest, a time to recharge. The more hours you work in a week the bigger chance you will make errors or poor decisions.

Stop being negative – – I see this all the time.  I continually say to people working in CPA firms – STOP WHINING!  Public accounting is an honorable, prestigious career, you work with intelligent people, you work in beautiful offices, you make friends with other top-quality professionals, you get to see businesses grow and prosper (with your help), you become admired by others in the business community for your expertise – – focus on the positive!

Focus on the positives during this holiday season and carry it through until Spring!

  • Be different if you want to make a difference.
  • Leadership Freak

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

Working Hard In An Accounting Firm? Need A Raise?

IMG_4817Research tells us that many women have NEVER asked for a raise. It is my observation that inside accounting firms, employees, in general, rarely ask for a raise.

Yes, accounting firms pay well for experienced people. Sometimes those coming in from the outside are paid quite a bit more than someone with longevity with the firm.

Don’t settle for less than you are worth. Here are some points to consider.

Has your list of responsibilities expanded since your last pay increase? Keep a list of tasks you have taken on and be ready to discuss these during your salary conversation. Your firm does not provide a salary conversation session? Ask for one.

If you are really dissatisfied with your pay increases/salary do some research in the marketplace. Again, it is my observation that many people in accounting firms are overpaid as compared to the market. This includes partners.

Do your research. If you determine you are underpaid, schedule a talk with your boss (partner/mentor/department head). If the result is “No, no raise at this time,” then ask them to describe what you have to do to earn more and get a follow-up meeting with them on the calendar for 3 to 6 months down the road.

It is healthy for both boss and employee to talk about salary. If you are the employee, it’s about your future and your career path. The firm should be prepared to paint a picture of the future for you.

  • Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.
  • Jim Rohn

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

Keep Your Eye On The Ball

Managing partners and other partners in CPA firms sometimes have challenges when it come to focus.

While it is good to be involved in the community, in your firm association, state society or the AICPA, be careful not to ignore what is going on at the firm. The outside involvement, especially in the community helps the firm grow and prosper.

Some partners, as they accumulate wealth, begin investing in outside businesses. They seem to spend a lot of time outside the firm tending to these businesses. Again, be careful not to ignore what is going on at the firm.

If you are a partner (owner) in an accounting firm, I hope it is your #1 priority. It is a treasure, a valuable resource that needs constant attention. I have known some prominent CPAs that have suffered greatly from taking their eye off the ball (the firm). Some have even lost their firm.

I always advise, don’t kill the goose that lays the golden egg.

  • A fox should not be on the jury at a goose's trial.
  • Thomas Fuller

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

The Real Story About CPE Courses

I use Yelp and Trip Advisor to find great restaurants. How about you? I also use the reviews and book reservations with Open Table. These are helpful tools. I feel like I get the real story about the restaurant.

What if you could find the same type of reviews (from different perspectives) when you are deciding upon a CPE course? Helpful, right? Check out the following press release and visit the site. It’s new.

Trinocity launches, a CPE user-review site

CPAs can now rate and review any online CPE course from any provider

Nashville, TN – Trinocity announced today the launch of, a rating and review platform for CPE courses. CPAs can find, rate and review any online CPE course from any provider.

Trinocity President, Eric Busby, said, “Much like Yelp and TripAdvisor did with restaurants and hotels, CPEadvisory brings user reviews to CPE. We believe user reviews increase transparency, which helps CPAs make more informed choices and, over time, drives quality higher.”

The CPEadvisory platform can also be integrated with state CPA society websites. The Kentucky Society of CPAs was the first to do so, with other states coming online soon. contains over 6,000 course listings and is updated daily. Beginning today, CPAs can use the site to find any online CPE course and are encouraged to post reviews on courses they’ve taken.

About Trinocity: Trinocity is a software company specializing in the advancement of the best instruction through user-generated rating and review platforms. It is based in Nashville, Tennessee.

  • I don't think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.
  • Abraham Lincoln

Friday, November 13th, 2015

Make Sure Urgency Is Obvious

Thanks to my good friend, Anita Goetz (former CPAFM national president), for sending me a great blog post by Kris Dunn on The HR Capitalist blog site.

It is about the situation at the University of Missouri. There are lessons to be learned for many and specifically CPA firms which is a “people” business.

Read the entire blog post here.  The title is: Make Sure Urgency Is Obvious to All…

Here are some “things we can learn”:

When you see low level hate activity with no names or individuals to attach to it, it’s not enough to say we’re “looking into it” or “we’re going to work on that”. You have to take action, and if you don’t, you may be held accountable in a way that is career-threatening and embarrassing to you.

(It’s not hate activities at your firm but how many time have you told your employees, “we’re going to work on that”, and then you don’t?)

You can’t be stand-offish to small interest groups that form. You have to engage, or the problem is probably going to get worse.

(At CPA firms, unhappiness of one person spreads. If a star performer is unhappy, they won’t engage, they will just leave and get more money down the street.)

Social media can blow any situation through the roof.

(Be aware! Do you, as a firm leader, even follow social media? One unhappy employee can tell thousands about your firm with one tweet or post on a hiring site.)

All it takes is one group with over-weighted power to take a stand and you’ll be out. Let’s face it, the deans of the various schools came forward and recommended to the president to stand down. Crickets. The football team came forward and it was all over for that president in less than 48 hours. Money and viral pressure from social media, the kind that maybe only sports can deliver in our country, reigns supreme.

(Managing partners, how are you doing? Do you have the support of your partners and your team? Ask them. Talk about it.)

As the author says, take action when you see bad stuff.

  • To serve is beautiful, but only if it is done with joy, a whole heart and a free mind.
  • Pearl S. Buck

Thursday, November 12th, 2015

Recruiting Top Talent Is More Competitive Than Ever

1D180509DFIn the accounting profession, CPA firms have been trying to implement unique and creative ways to attract talent for many years. The game is getting more and more competitive. Unique tactics are coming at a time when companies are trying to differentiate themselves in the eyes of talented business students (includes accounting majors, of course). Most accounting firms really need to up their game.

The following are tidbits from an article via Fortune – The crazy things companies are doing to recruit business school students.

–At recruiting events, General Mills offers students goggles to see a virtual reality tour of the company’s Minnesota campus. The recruits can see everything from the company gym to the executive offices.

–Goldman Sachs is using Snapchat to recruit college students.

–PwC is offering to pay back student loans for its junior employees. (Your firm could do this. The amount would be up to you.)

–General Motors recently parked cars on the campus of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and invited students to take a test drive. Of course they brought Camaros and Corvettes.

–On Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business campus PwC furnished an ice cream truck. On the Michigan campus they provided a coffee truck (free coffee anytime for all students).

–Land O’ Lakes brought their CEO to campus. It helps students see that they have access to leaders. (Take your partners to campus, not just younger alumni!)

Advice from career services directors:

This generation of students are seeking more connection with their potential employers and the missions of those companies. Today’s students want to be connected with the company’s mission and vision. Have you clearly defined the vision of your accounting firm? I find many firms have not. The partners are not united on where they are going!

The days of passing out cheap, trashy stuff – like post-it notes, water bottles, pens, backpacks, lip balm, etc. are over.

  • Number one, cash is king.. number two, communicate.. number three, buy or bury your competition.
  • Jack Welch

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

Building A Positive Attitude

Some years ago, when I was actively working in a growing firm, I faced an issue with our administrative team. They, like administrative teams in many CPA firms, were finding it difficult to keep a positive attitude. Honestly, they were whining, moaning, groaning, complaining and playing the drama game. It is easy for a CPA firm admin team to get caught in this trap.

In their eyes, they are at the bottom of the org chart. It’s hard for them to see the light at the top. I believe that the admin team, is the heart and soul of the firm. If they are not happy, no one is happy. They have great influence and their attitude affects all the people they come into contact with during the day.

yesI believe a positive attitude can make a huge difference in your career success and in your personal life. How do you attain or regain a positive attitude? I look to sales guru Jeffrey Gitomer. To help our admin team, I purchased his book, YES! Attitude for every team member and asked them to read it and keep it handy to pick up and read randomly when challenging situations arise. We often discussed chapters from the book at our administrative staff meetings.

Positive attitude is certainly not only an admin team issue. It is difficult for new hires, experienced accountants and even partners to keep a positive attitude. Per Gitomer, 80-100% of your success is dependent on your positive attitude.

Many of you reading this think you have a positive attitude but do you? Have you studied it?

Gitomer recommends reading and studying these four books:

  1. Think and Grow Rich — Napoleon Hill
  2. How to Win Friends and Influence People — Dale Carnegie
  3. How to Stop Worrying and Start Living — Dale Carnegie
  4. The Power of Positive Thinking — Norman Vincent Peale

For a positive attitude read the complete list of Gitomer “tidbits” here.

Here are just a few of the 19.5 tidbits:

  • The will to win is nothing without the will to prepare to win.
  • You will get whatever you want if you help enough people get whatever they want.
  • Self-talk equals self-performance.
  • Hard work makes luck

Make today the first day of renewing your positive attitude. Keep in mind, you become who you surround yourself with. Stay away from the whiners!

  • Quality performance and quality service starts with a positive attitude.
  • Jeffrey Gitomer

Monday, November 9th, 2015

Bad Meetings Are A Reflection Of Bad Leaders

Inside your accounting firm, do you think you have too many meetings? Are they pointless in the eyes of the attendees? Are they boring? Are they unproductive?

Patrick Lencioni (author of Death By Meeting), in his helpful article, urges you to Avoid Death By Meeting. I urge you to read it if you are the leader of your firm and even if you are not the leader, you, as a firm citizen, have influence in your firm. Make others aware that properly defining meetings is what leaders do.

Bad meetings are a reflection of bad leaders and they take a devastating toll on a firm’s success. Perhaps it’s time for your firm to transform meetings into something productive, focused and even energizing.

Lencioni contends that there are two basic problems. Meetings lack drama. Which means they are boring. And, most meetings lack context and purpose. They are a mixture of trivia, administration, strategy, meandering and lack of resolution.

To make meetings more engaging means you need to encourage the drama… the conflict that should exist.

Consider movies and TV shows. The first couple of minutes grab you attention so that you will continue to be engaged.

In your firm and partner meetings rather than putting the tough discussions off until later in the meeting, put them first. Wrestle with the tough issues first and you have a better chance of engaging your attendees.

Lencioni recommends four distinct meetings:

The Daily Check-in (10 minutes – an administrative type meeting to keep team members aligned).

The Weekly Tactical (known as the Staff Meeting – 30 to 60 minutes to quickly review priorities and then decide what should actually be discussed).

The Monthly Strategic – This is the appropriate place for partners to discuss the big issues. It is a time for debate, brainstorming and pursuit of topics that have a long-term impact the firm.

The Quarterly Off-Site Review – A time to step away from the firm and  reassess a variety of issues: team performance, company strategy, morale, competition, possible threats and industry trends.

Take a few minutes to read Lencioni’s helpful article and see how it can apply to your firm. There is no escaping some meetings. Make sure your meetings are lively, interesting and engaging.


  • While it is true that much of the time we currently spend in meetings is largely wasted, the solution is not to stop having meetings, but rather to make them better. Because when properly utilized, meetings are actually time savers.
  • Patrick Lencioni