Archive for the ‘Helpful Information’ Category

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

The Old Way Comes Back As The New Way

Many of you can remember when we had paper “in boxes” on our desks. We also had “out boxes”. Mail, memos, and other miscellaneous communication documents were placed in our in-box by our secretary (remember that word?). The same person emptied our out-box and distributed our notes, memos and job assignments to the proper person within the firm.

Often the in-box contained items that we would place in a “do it later pile.” That pile on our desk could attain dangerous heights.

Then, many of us learned how to handle each piece of paper that came into our office mostly via the in-box. The trick was to only handle it once – not to put it in a stack with other things we intended to deal with later. Concerning each document we were to Act, File, Delegate or Trash – no “deal with it later” labels were allowed.

Now we are in the age of handling the multitude of items that appear in our digital in-box. In a recent article via Fast Company, Brad Smith, CEO of Intuit, sums up his email approach as “read, act, file or delete.” By limiting his options he is able to clear his in-box daily without the help of an assistant. Smith notes, “It requires real commitment.”

If the CEO of Intuit can master his in-box, I bet you can do it, too!

Another option is NOT TO SEND many emails and thus, you will receive fewer in reply.

Here’s another email comment from Simon Sinek. “A five minute call replaces the time it takes to read and reply to the original email and read and reply to their reply.. or replies. And I no longer spend 20+ minutes crafting the perfect email – no need to.”

To avoid phone tag, I always make telephone appointments with people who wish to discuss things with me.

 

  • Social media presents an opportunity for business people to connect and know each other prior to a phone call or email taking place.
  • Jeffrey Gitomer

Monday, April 24th, 2017

Maybe a Sabbatical Program Would Make Your Firm Unique

“The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

In the accounting profession, we have been talking about sabbaticals for years. Few firms offer this benefit.

Some firms established a sabbatical program for partners, urging them to take six weeks away from the office with NO CONTACT. The mission being to prove to the partner that they could get along just fine without them and client service would not suffer. These types of programs were a half-hearted attempt at succession planning. Honestly, I haven’t heard of many firms offering sabbaticals in any form. It seems CPAs love to work!

Rather than focusing on partners, why not establish a sabbatical program for your team members. Maybe it would differentiate you from your competitors and help retain top talent.

Kabbage_logo_wo_tag_vertKabbage®, the pioneering financial services technology, and data platform, out of Atlanta is offering a unique benefit to its employees. Perhaps, you can learn from them.

Kabbage is now offering a sabbatical option for team members who have been with the company for 5+ years. And it’s quite the package – a 6-week sabbatical that is fully paid plus the company gives a $6k stipend to encourage its employees to do something memorable ( a trip of a lifetime?)

Check out their career webpage. They offer:

Dynamic Environment
Daily catered lunches, ice cream freezer & snacks
Dog-friendly office
Cold/brewed coffee & beer on tap
Onsite fitness & meditation classes
Adjustable sit/stand desks

Competitive Benefits
Unlimited PTO
Equity in the company
Full coverage of individual health benefits
Six-week sabbatical program
Free parking
Annual bonus

Learning & Development
Shadowing program
More than 20 onsite courses
Interactive career development
Leadership development
Mentoring program

All of this makes me ask the big question. How does your firm’s career webpage stack up?

  • Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.
  • Jim Rohn

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

Monday, April 10th, 2017

Quit Worrying About Millennials – Focus On Generation C

“There was no respect for youth when I was young, and now that I am old, there is no respect for age — I missed it coming and going.”  ~J.B. Priestly

I have been studying, speaking about and writing about Millennials and other generations in the workplace for years. I think it is time to move on and I have come to realize that putting people in generational boxes is a waste of time.

holmesI recommend that you read this article by Ryan Holmes on the Inc. site titled: Move Over, Millennials: 5 Things You Need to Know About Generation C.

Holmes (he’s the founder and CEO of Hootsuite) notes that you don’t have to be a Millennial to live on your iPhone or embrace social media. The group that HR professionals should focus on is Generation C – the “Connected Consumer” – it is everyone who integrates technology into their daily routine, regardless of age. This group share certain qualities.

Here are the topics included in the article:

  1. What is Generation C?  (Gen C stands for Connectivity.)
  2. What age groups make up Gen C? (It isn’t an age group at all.)
  3. How does Gen C interact with the world? (They live on digital media.)
  4. What’s the key to reaching Gen C? (Where they live – traditional media don’t cut it.)
  5. How big is Gen C? (The numbers are vast.)

I like the closing…..

Let’s give it a rest. For marketing, for hiring, for connecting: Age is increasingly arbitrary.

  • The Millennial era is ending (and not a moment too soon).
  • Long live Generation C.
  • Each contact with a human being is so rare, so precious, one should preserve it.
  • Anais Nin

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

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

Blockchain

“The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress.” – Joseph Joubert

Rarely do I miss a day posting on this blog. However, yesterday was one of those days and I apologize – BUT I had a great reason. I was attending (virtually) the annual New Horizon Group of consultants to the CPA profession meeting. The meeting was held at the AICPA offices in NYC, hosted by Mark Koziel. The co-chairs of this years meeting were Carl George and Jennifer Wilson.

Other members (who I am so honored to be affiliated with) are: Roman Kepczyk, Allan Koltin, Gale Crosley, Angie Grissom, Jim Bourke, Chris Frederiksen, Rob Nixon, Darren Root and Marc Rosenberg.

An important discussion topic was Blockchain and how it will affect the future of auditing. Honestly, it sounds like it will affect the future of many things.

My point today is for you, as a CPA practitioner or non-CPA in a firm leadership position, to take the time to learn about blockchain. I must admit, I didn’t have a clear understanding of it until yesterday.

Below, I am furnishing you a link to a great article (via Accounting Today) that will help you learn more about blockchain. It is critical for you to educate yourself and your team – it is a huge change and it is coming about quickly – you can’t wait and think it is something to worry about 10 years from now.

Blockchain is defined as an open, distributed ledger, blockchain technology records and verifies transactions without any trusted central authority.  Read more…..

  • Frequently the more trifling the subject, the more animated and protracted the discussion.
  • Franklin Pierce

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