Archive for the ‘On My Mind’ Category

Friday, July 22nd, 2016

A Strong Niche Focus Can Make You Famous

Back in 2012, I blogged about a tax guy.

We became acquainted by doing a panel webinar about unique career paths you can take in the accounting profession for what is now AccountingFly. We continue to stay in touch and we both are passionate about tweeting.

His name is Robert Raiola and he is Director of the Sports & Entertainment Group at PKF O’Connor Davies, LLP.

At the time, Robert (@SportsTaxMan) was tweeting on a regular basis about his specialty – sports – and he had a few thousand followers. As of today, Robert has done over 29,800 tweets and has over 51,500 followers – that’s a home run for a CPA.

Just to show you the power of Twitter, it has helped him expand his reputation for being an expert – something every CPA should do – and he has been featured on a national level via Sports Illustrated, ESPN, etc.

David Maister, the guru advisor to professional service firms, always said you have to decide what “you want to be famous for” and then pursue it with passion. How is that working for you?

Below is a recent example of the great exposure being an expert has gotten for Robert. Over the years I have blogged six times about @SportsTaxMan (just type his name in the Search box on the right).

Robert knows what he wants to be famous for and he is achieving it. How about you – think about it this weekend!

Screenshot 2016-07-22 06.55.42

  • I would have changed my last name if being famous were my goal.
  • Zach Galifianakis

Thursday, July 21st, 2016


“The worst curse to befall anyone is stagnation, a banal existence, the quiet desperation that comes out of a need for conformity.” – Deepak Chopra

Stagnate: To stop developing, progressing, moving, etc.: to be or become stagnant.

Stagnation: The state of being still, or not moving, like a sitting puddle of water where stagnation attracts mosquitoes.

I think you get the picture. Are you in a state of stagnation? Is your accounting firm in a state of stagnation?

Some people have an excuse for inactivity during this time of year. They call it the dog days of summer.

Dog days: The sultry part of the summer, supposed to occur during the period Sirius, the Dog Star, rises at the same time as the sun (now often reckoned from July 3 to August 11). It is a period marked by lethargy, inactivity, or indolence.

You should have several things on your firm’s Cultural Action Plan. There are some issues that are a high priority yet you find excuses to postpone action.

Don’t stagnate until you are faced with the fall deadlines! The future of your firm is too valuable. Imagine what you could accomplish in the next few weeks before Labor Day!

Don’t be “some people!” Don’t make your firm a puddle attracting mosquitoes.


  • Stagnation is a slow death.
  • Ellen Hopkins

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

There Is A Time To Stand Firm

“Be sure to put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.” – Abraham Lincoln

1CEGO2NFI5Today’s post is one of those “this happens in real life inside many CPA firms” type stories.

A firm leader has an idea on how to inspire team members to become more involved in marketing and pursuing new business for the firm. They will give a nice bonus ($1,500) to the team member who brings in the most “leads” to the firm on a quarterly basis. The rules are established and well-communicated. The contest will run for a full year – 4 quarters. Team members seem excited about the opportunity.

After the first quarter, a team member named Mike wins the quarterly contest. After the second quarter, Mike wins again.

One partner hears some whining from a few team members that “Mike always wins.” This isn’t fair, etc. He consults with the other partners and they decide to discontinue the contest after the second quarter.

Just an example of how not to retain and inspire top talent.

Often inside accounting firms, the leaders seem to go whichever way the wind blows. A very small minority is unhappy, so let’s punish everyone equally. How many times has everyone received an email about leaving a mess at the coffee station when everyone knows the ONE person who is the offender?

  • Let your soul sand cool and composed before a million universes.
  • Walt Whitman

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

Pay Attention To Your Business

So many CPAs say, over and over again, “I am too busy.”

They are too busy with client work and seeking new clients that they ignore their most precious asset, their own business.

Be aware that the talent war is going to get a lot worse.

Make sure you are aware of current trends and issues in the accounting profession.

Be adaptive.

Do research.

And, remember that the firms that “get it” will succeed and firms that hold on to the old ways will lag behind.

(These thoughts were inspired by Tom Hood‘s comments at the CPAFMA National Practice Conference.)

  • Don't follow trends, start trends.
  • Frank Capra

Monday, June 27th, 2016


“If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.” – Jim Rohn

April 16th – We can’t tackle revising our performance feedback system, we have to have some downtime for a while after April 15th.

May 1 – We can’t work on the new orientation/onboarding project now because everyone is taking some vacation since tax season is over.

June 1 – We can’t tackle revising our performance feedback system, it’s time to do them and we’ll have to wait until this year’s process is over.

July 1 – We can’t right now… too many people on vacation.

August 15th – We can’t do an upward partner feedback survey, it’s time to focus on the September 15th due date.

September 16th – We can’t possibly work on that organizational alignment project, we have to focus on the October due date.

October 17th – We’ll work on our succession plan after the partner retreat.

November 1 – Let’s see what we can get done in November!

December 1 – We’ll have to put a halt on that workflow project because we are so busy in December with tax planning.

January 1 – We’ll have to wait until after April 15th.

Sound familiar?

  • When you know what you want, and you want it bad enough, you'll find a way to get it.
  • Jim Rohn

Friday, June 24th, 2016

A Simple Thought For Friday

One of my favorite t-shirts. THINK about it.


  • I am convinced that about half of what separates successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.
  • Steve Jobs

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

My View – Casual Dress

“Whosoever desires constant success must change his conduct with the times.” – Machiavelli

Most of you know, I worked for 30 years at a growing, profitable CPA firm. Most of those years, I believed that the CPA profession was a world of professional men and women who had the great responsibility of advising successful business people. I believed that I worked in a professional office and was delighted to dress in what the world then called professional dress. Our offices were beautiful, tasteful, high-class. I believed in making a great first impression. Why wouldn’t we, as individuals, want to be viewed the same?

Of course, years ago, the firm moved to business casual. We called it “dress appropriate” which meant the same thing that is being talked about now… dress for your day. But then business casual meant no jeans and always a collared shirt for days in the office and professional dress for client/prospect meetings, business networking events, etc.

Of course, business casual slowly became more casual and we had to enforce our dress code. That was certainly not a fun task!

I held out for years about females not wearing panty hose with skirts and dresses. A wonderful mentor of mine finally said to me, “Rita, get over it” and I did. That being said, I still cringe when I see an overweight, young female attorney walking down the street in a suit or short skirt with pasty-white legs. Oh, well.

Now, guess what? I’m “over it” with a lot of things. The world is more casual and the professional business world is more casual and I am certainly more casual in my dress.

It is all about what I continually urge you to do… embrace change! Institute a “dress for your day” policy that allows jeans. Close your office on Friday. Times have changed and CPAs must adapt more quickly than they have in the past.

If you want to attract and keep talented people, stay abreast of current trends and make changes quickly, as needed. Crowe did a survey of their workforce last fall, casual attire was ranked the most important workforce amenity.

  • One key to successful leadership is continuous personal change. Personal change is a reflection of our inner growth and empowerment.
  • Robert E. Quinn

Friday, June 10th, 2016

Managing Partner Is Not A Popularity Contest

“I firmly believe that respect is a lot more important, and a lot greater, than popularity.:” – Julius Erving

I’m sure you have noticed that I communicate a lot of observations about CPAs and their firms. It comes naturally to me because I have been observing the CPA profession for 35 years.

The observation I want to share today is that the most successful accounting firms have a strong leader, not a crowd pleaser personality. They have the power to propel the firm forward while understanding that they can’t please everyone all the time. Their partner peer group supports their vision.

Vivek Wadhwa, Director of research, Duke University’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Research says, “Business leadership is not a popularity contest; the best companies are run by enlightened dictators.”

Managing partners must listen very carefully to their employees but they have to do what is best for the firm. The best ones give the praise for successful initiatives to others and take the blame for failed endeavors themselves.

A major disappointment for me is when I see firm leaders actually change direction and discard certain policies because one (or maybe two) people voice disapproval. Often, it is disapproval about very important changes that need to be made such as, being absolutely paperless, moving to the Cloud, or being willing to be held accountable for their performance.

I alway advise working with the healthy part of your firm, the people who are excited about the future and have the passion for the firm and the profession. Leave the nay-sayers alone and maybe they will eventually get on board. If they don’t, allow them to build their career elsewhere.

Here’s a good article by Wadhwa on this topic.


  • What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
  • Oscar Wilde

Monday, May 30th, 2016

Memorial Day Remembrance

VN soldiers1Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving their country’s armed forces.

While we do remember and honor all of our veterans on Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day is the other special holiday for all who have served.

I have been fortunate in that I have only known one person who died serving their country. A boy from our high school, a year ahead of me, died in Vietnam. I did not know him well but I do look up his name on the Wall every time I am in Washington DC.

There is another name I always visit when I am at the Wall. I did not know him, personally, but I am very fond of his son. I have even been with his son to together look at the name on the Vietnam Wall. His son is my good friend, Roman Kepczyk, known to many of you in the CPA profession. Below is a picture of Roman’s father’s name on the Wall.

I hope you will take a few moments today to remember those who have died in service to our country.

Kepczyk - Version 2


  • One of the best ways to keep peace is to be prepared for war.
  • General George Washington

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

Addicted to Work

“You shouldn’t have superhuman expectations.” – Mary Blair-Loy

Frequently, it appears to me that some experienced CPAs are addicted to their work.

I think this is a big issue when it comes to succession planning. Sure, the firm’s policy says they must “retire” at age 65. They must relinquish their stock and they do. But many of these “retirees” want to keep working, keep their office, keep their relationships with special clients and not stay at home or pursue other interests.

Most do not have other interests. They believe their career is their life, it defines them. Being a partner at the firm feeds their ego or makes them feel important. Without being affiliated with the firm they feel they have no identity.

There is a great article on this topic on the HBR site. You feel challenged by your work; you’re engaged by it; you’re learning new things; and you have the opportunity to shape other people’s careers. It is extremely rewarding but when you give all your attention to work, you eventually pay a steep price. 

Working long hours, taking few vacations and never truly being “off” (due to digital devices) is harmful to your relationships, your health and your productivity. It is also a bad example to set for your employees. No wonder many younger CPAs have no desire to become an owner.

Read the entire article here. It gives you some tips to overcome your addiction. Take an honest look at yourself, whether you are a retiring partner or a constantly busy accountant of any age working in a CPA firm.

  • There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.
  • Colin Powell