Archive for the ‘On My Mind’ Category

Monday, February 20th, 2017

Challenging Problems

“The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it is the same problem you had last year.” – John Foster Dulles

Do you shy away from challenging problems?

Certified Public Accountants are basically, nice people. They do not want to create contention or participate in confrontation. So, many challenging problems have a very long life-span inside accounting firms.

You have a renegade partner. They develop work-arounds to almost all of your processes and systems and rarely go along with the partner group’s initiatives. You even wonder what they are saying to clients.

You have a sacred cow employee. A person that apparently cannot be fired for continual poor performance. It’s someone who has been with the firm for decades and has evolved to the point where they have a very bad attitude. Even their work has become shoddy and they are beginning to drive people away from the firm.

The business world is quickly becoming digital and your firm is still not even paperless! You have a partner who absolutely refuses to move into the future. They must have everything in paper and they refuse to learn how to even review tax returns on-screen. Young, up-and-comers will soon find greener pastures.

Some partner groups are so afraid of confrontation that they pay a consultant thousands of dollars to come in and deal with the challenging problem.

Sure there is risk involved and it might feel very uncomfortable, but why not step-up to the plate and deal with your challenging problems? That’s what great leaders do.

(If you receive my blog via email, be sure to visit my website to read each days quote at the bottom of the page.)

  • One thing is sure. We have to do something. We have to do the best we know how at the moment. If it doesn't turn out right, we can modify it as we go along.
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

On My Mind – The Temporary Life

“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” – Jacques Cousteau

Just an observation. It seems to me that we have evolved to living a temporary life. Nothing seems to LAST.

When I grew up, my parents always stressed that we should buy something of quality. We should buy fewer but more expensive clothes because they would LAST us a long time. We bought quality furniture because it was sturdy, solid and would LAST a long time.

Maybe, when you graduated with your accounting degree, you joined a well-established CPA firm with a long, proven history of quality client service. A firm that would LAST.

In comparing life to furniture, my parents lived in an Ethan Allen world and my son lives in an IKEA world.

These days we buy cheaper stuff and when it’s flawed, we throw it away and buy another.

The well-established firm you joined, thinking you would be a partner someday, suddenly merges-up into a large regional or national firm. The firm didn’t LAST.

I still prefer things that LAST.

  • Lost - yesterday, somewhere between sunrise and sunset, two golden hours, each set with sixty diamond minutes. No reward is offered, for they are gone forever.
  • Horace Mann

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

Keeping Up With Change

“It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.” – W. Edwards Deming

How are you doing with that “change” thing? I write about it over and over again and about how important it is to embrace change and keep pace with the changing world.

jodyToday, I won’t write much but I want you to follow this link and read a great article by Jody Padar. To me, it’s a simple message:  If you don’t change you will lose clients. Read it please and think about it over the weekend.

  • You must welcome change as the rule but not as the ruler.
  • Denis Waitley

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

Positive Vibes

“Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.” – Willie Nelson

Most businesses have a busy season. For CPA firms, that season is mid-January until mid-April. For decades CPA firm owners have strived to find ways to keep their people busy all year long and have been very successful in most cases.

Yet, January through April has always been the months of intense focus, numerous distractions, multiple interruptions, on-going questions, constant learning and career-building opportunities.

When the pressure is on, partners and managers sometimes become negative. When the pressure is on, all the other people working at the firm sometimes become negative!

Some people begin to say things like:

  • Joe is never going to make it. He just isn’t getting it.
  • Sally is so slow. What are we going to do?
  • Bill is a loner. He never asks questions and ends up doing it all wrong.
  • The way Betty dresses is horrible.
  • Tim has bad breath. Who is going to talk to him?

In times of stress, people tend to become more negative. The old 80/20 rule surfaces. People are negative 80% of the time and positive 20% of the time.

Let’s change that beginning this week. Begin to focus on things you like about people at least 80% of the time. I have always naturally been an optimist. Maybe that has helped me survive many busy seasons and still remain positive most of the time.

  • I always like to look on the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter.
  • Walt Disney

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

Parental Leave

“Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.” – Benjamin Spock, M.D.

A few months ago I surveyed a small number of CPA firms across the country. I was curious about the kind of parental leave they offered as an employee benefit.

To my dismay, paid maternity leave is almost non-existent. CPA firms seem to approach it with a combination of actions. The employee (the mother) is encouraged to save and/or carry over PTO to be used and they combine it with short term disability options.

As far as any type of paid leave for new Dads, it seems truly non-existent.

Here is a good article from FAST Company – How Paid Parental Leave Changed in 2016. 

Some progress has been made, in general, but 2016 was not an impressive year for paid parental leave. A quarter of new mothers go back to work just 10 days after giving birth.

Just so you know, in 2016, EY announced a new policy to expand its parental benefits to over 35,000 U.S. employees. Both new mothers and fathers are eligible for up to 16 weeks of fully paid parental leave for birth, adoption, surrogacy, foster care, or legal guardianship.

If you want to attract and retain young, top talent. An impressive paid parental leave policy might just be the answer.

 

Monday, January 16th, 2017

Focus On Your Destination

“You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight.” – Jim Rohn

Think about this meaningful quote from Jim Rohn. Can you see how it applies to you and how you go about improving and growing your accounting firm?

For example, you finally agree that you need to be TRULY paperless and become a digital firm. – – That’s the destination.

You work with your people to develop a roadmap on how to get there. You start down that road. Something happens (I won’t use the other “S” word), but things do happen. You get delayed, you encounter an unexpected obstacle. Some of the things you planned don’t work well.

By all means, change your approach. Learn from those who have gone before you and adopt some different ways to arrive at your destination.

But, do not give up. Keep focused on results and reach your destination.

Then set a new destination!

  • I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.
  • Jimmy Dean

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

Yes You Can

Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford

I have always loved the above quote. It is so very descriptive of many of us and it is a quote that I think needs to be embraced by accountants, CPAs and others working in public accounting.

For the most part, public accounting is very traditional, conservative and risk-adverse. Many times I have heard practitioners state, “We can’t do that yet. Are other firms doing it? We need to see if it works for other firms first.”

I work with a lot of smaller firms and I believe that it is much easier for smaller firms to make significant changes, more quickly, than larger organizations. However, in reality, many small firms are lagging behind.

If you think you can’t become totally paperless. If you think you cannot have virtual employees. If you think you cannot have various flexible work arrangements. If you think your less experienced staff cannot take on more challenging work. If you think one of your long-time partners cannot change their behavior.

You are wrong. Yes, you can!

  • We generate fears while we sit. We overcome them by action.
  • Dr. Henry Link

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

For Your CPA Firm & For Your Clients – Take Sexual Harassment Seriously

“Every action done in company ought to be with some sign of respect to those that are present.” – George Washington

Well-managed CPA firms got the sexual harassment message a long time ago. But, have you continually educated your new team members and your long-time team members about the importance of a sexual harassment policy and how it works?

Your CPAs are advising your small business clients on many topics and making them aware of the need for a sexual harassment policy should be one of those topics.

david-lewis-headshotSometimes small businesses (like CPA firms and their clients) have a very casual, almost collegiate culture. There is nothing casual about sexual harassment.

David Lewis, President/CEO of OperationsInc, one of the Northeast’s largest Human Resources Outsourcing and Consulting firms, was recently interviewed about sexual harassment policies on MSNBC.

Lewis suggests:

  • Start with awareness and training.
  • Adopt a policy and be sure it is well communicated.
  • Be sure your people understand what sexual harassment is and what is suppose to happen if it occurs.
  • Always follow your policy.

Address sexual harassment before it occurs and you must adopt a zero tolerance policy. Many small businesses don’t want to upset their casual culture and try to ease into some sort of sexual harassment policy. There is no easing in – no middle ground. Let everyone know that going forward there will be zero tolerance for sexual harassment.

If you have a policy and don’t follow it, it is a killer – lawyers love it.

Watch the brief, informative interview here.

  • Be civil to all, sociable to many, familiar with few, friend to one, enemy to none.
  • Benjamin Franklin

Tuesday, December 27th, 2016

More About Flex Job Growth

“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” – Albert Einstein

Recently, I posted about The Growing Area of Flexible Work Arrangements. Today, there is more news that supports the fact that YOU (CPAs in public practice) need to be prepared to compete in this area of significant growth.

FlexJobs announced 5 career categories for remote job seekers to watch for in 2017. Guess what is on the list – Accounting & Finance. It is among the five categories where remote job listings have grown more than 20 percent since January 2016.

When it comes to how people prefer to work, 65 percent of workers say they would be more productive telecommuting than working in a traditional workplace. As many as 80 to 90 percent of the workforce say they would like to telecommute at least part-time. Telecommuters are almost twice as likely to love their jobs than employees who work in traditional offices and report higher levels of productivity.

Managing partners and firm administrators, are you preparing your firm to take advantage of this growing workforce? It could be the answer to the big challenge of finding top talent to serve your clients.

CPAs are (and think) traditional. It’s time to think non-traditional relating to so many areas of firm management.

2017 is going to be an exciting year!

  • Change is not merely necessary to life - it is life.
  • Alvin Toffler

Sunday, December 25th, 2016

Don’t Get Stuck!

Best holiday wishes to all of my clients, accounting profession friends and all followers of my daily blog. I sincerely appreciate the many, many people in my life who keep me challenged, engaged, happy and so blessed to be working (and knowing) the wonderful people in the CPA profession.

As we go into 2017, be sure NOT to get STUCK in the past. Instead, embrace and welcome the many challenges of the future. I triple-dog dare you to make future-focused changes in your firm and in your life this coming year!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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