Archive for the ‘On My Mind’ Category

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

Whiners & Complainers

No excusesEvery firm has them.

When I ask my audiences: “You don’t have any whiners in your firm, do you?” – I get a room full of giggles. At your office, of course you have people who whine. You have people who complain. You have people who roll their eyes at new ideas or even at a verbal reminder that everyone should follow procedures to provide better client service.

I am a Baby Boomer (born between 1946 and 1964). My parents were part of the Silent or Veteran generation (born before 1946). Some are still in the workforce. Here’s a description:

Silents. Silents are considered among the most loyal workers. They are highly dedicated and the most risk averse. Their values were shaped by the Great Depression, World War II, and the postwar boom years. Silents possess a strong commitment to teamwork and collaboration and have high regard for developing interpersonal communication skills. Silents now consist of the most affluent elderly population in U.S. history due to their willingness to conserve and save after recovering from the financial impact of the postwar era.

The interesting thing is, I never heard my parents complain about their jobs. Both of them worked to provide a comfortable life style for my brother and myself. Everything I heard about their work and their co-workers, at our dinner table, was positive.

I never thought much about it then. I think a lot about it now.

In my work I counsel and advise people working inside accounting firms. I have observed that nearly all Silent generation workers are gone. Most Baby Boomers complain some. However, as you go down through the generations in the office it gets worse. GenX and Millennials complain the most.

My parents worked hard. Neither had office jobs. I have always thoroughly enjoyed my work and still do. Yet, as even office work has become easier (more technology, more holidays, free coffee, free soda, free food, free continuing education, casual dress), there is more whining and complaining about work.

  • Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings.
  • Salvador Dali

Thursday, January 28th, 2016

Blogs To Follow

I am always encouraging you to read, read, read. I want you to read books, articles and, of course, blogs.

If you are trying to find some good blogs to follow. Here’s Ambir Technologies Top 10 Blogs To Follow for Accounting & Financial Tips for Your Small Biz. 

Some of them might be very helpful for your clients, too.

Take note of #10 – Thank-you Ambir!

  • If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, January 25th, 2016

Women In Accounting – Don’t Feel Guilty

IMG_4100CPA firms lose so many bright, savvy females because of the long-talked about stigma that when you want to start a family, you cannot work in public accounting.

Too many young female professionals tend to heed the old-fashioned advice that they should work in public accounting for a few years, get their CPA designation and then get a job in a private company so they can then raise a family. Fewer actually become “stay at home” moms because the millennials need two incomes to live the life style they desire.

So, I urge all young women in accounting, stick it out. The accounting profession is becoming more and more flexible all the time. It is a profession that can provide the career development and prestige that you desire.

Don’t feel guilty if you are working and also raising children. Children of working moms actually reap many benefits because they have working mothers.

According to a survey of 1,000 grown children of working mothers, many substantial benefits were identified

Strong Work Ethic – The grown children reported that watching their mothers go to work every day instilled in them a strong work ethic.

Independence – Working mothers know they won’t be there for everything so they have deliberately taught their children to be more independent.

Resilience – The children of working mothers reported being able to solve their own problems and bounce back from tough times better than children of stay-at-home mothers.

Prepared For The Work World – Watching their mothers face the many challenges at work helped the children feel better prepared for the working world. They have a better sense of what to expect when they enter the work world.

Daughters Benefit Most – Harvard found that daughters of working mothers earned 23% more than daughters of stay-at-home mothers.

All of this and more is in an article on FAST Company by Lisa Evans. She also references a book by Pamela LenehanMy Mother, My Mentor: What Grown Children of Working Mothers Want You to Know. 

Many female CPAs working in public accounting have told me, “The partners just don’t understand because their wives don’t work.”

By the way, my mother was a working mother. So was I.

  • Sweater, n.: garment worn by child when its mother is feeling chilly.
  • Ambrose Bierce

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

What It Takes To Move Your Career Forward

I love it when I have the opportunity to work with the team members of firms without the partners present.

There is so much they don’t know about CPA firm management and why the partners do what they do. I ALSO learn so much from them and that input enables me to advise the owners on where to focus.

If you are new to the CPA profession and focused on moving your career forward, here’s some tips:

Become a quick change artist – The CPA profession is undergoing massive change. Be ready for it and help others in the firm get ready for it. Be a leader in showing the partners that adapting to change is necessary and that resistance to change can lead to a dead-end street.

Commit fully to your job – Don’t be surprised if the firm continually expects more from you. The marketplace is demanding and being fully committed will lead to rapid career advancement.

Speed up – Clients and partners seem to live in an impatient world. Help your firm improve turnaround time and always operate with a sense of urgency.

Behave like you are in business for yourself – Assume personal responsibility for helping clients. Be thinking how you could cut costs, find unique ways to serve the clients, improve your own productivity and then share those ideas with others.

Manage your own morale – Saddling someone else with the job of keeping you contented and upbeat would be a neat trick if you could pull it off. Sometimes you are treated unfairly. Some managers truly are jerks. As the old saying goes, “life is not fair”. Don’t let poor morale drain away precious energy and destroy your self-confidence. Surround yourself with positive people – stay away from the whiners.

  • If you want light to come into your life, you need to stand where it is shining.
  • Guy Finley

Thursday, January 7th, 2016

Prequalifying Clients and Baker’s Law

Ron Baker, is that you with Rita?I like to give you information that is helpful. Much of it comes from my own viewpoint and observations. Some of it comes from the writings of others. Some I simply point you in the right direction and some I just put the “CPA spin” on it because it was not originally directed to the accounting profession.

A recent article by Ron Baker is a MUST READ for you: Avoiding Baker’s Law: Bad Customers Drive Out Good Customers.  

He begins with a quote from Tom Peters: “You’re as good–or as bad–as the character of your Client List. In a very real sense, you are your Client List!”

Most of you have now at least developed a list to use when grading clients, usually A, B, C and D. Baker’s article gives you two different samples of criteria and much more to contemplate.

What’s your criteria for accepting new clients? The most successful firms have rigorous prequalifying standards, and they do not accept all comers. Many of the accounting firms I observe, take on almost every client that comes their way. Read Baker’s article and be proud that there are many clients that you DO NOT have.

  • Indeed, you are your client list.
  • Ron Baker

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

Feedback For CPA Firm Management

I observe and gather.

I am very fortunate in that I have the wonderful opportunity to meet and get to know so many people working in the CPA profession. When I am working with clients, I observe and recommend (I also recommend and push). When I am speaking and attending conferences, I observe and share. When I am facilitating feedback surveys for CPA firms, I observe and enlighten (and recommend). In all situations I observe and gather valuable information that I can share with anyone who will listen (you, the readers of this blog).

Here’s some tidbits for those of you managing the firm. For those of you enjoying the opportunity to build your career, these tidbits might inspire YOU to share your thoughts with management. Speak-up and speak-out – they want and need your thoughts and ideas.

Feedback for management:

  • Be more transparent
  • Performance reviews take too much time
  • Work-life balance needs attention
  • Allow younger people to work on more challenging work (not more hours)
  • Improve communication to younger people, they often feel out of the loop (mentoring program?)
  • Show your people what their career path honestly looks like
  • Show more appreciation
  • An open-door policy doesn’t mean you (you=partners, managers) are available to answer questions
  • Always be honest with your people

I could go on… and on…. that’s enough for today.

  • Every lie is two lies - - the lie we tell others and the lie we tell ourselves to justify it.
  • Robert Brault

Monday, December 21st, 2015

Three Little Words

G2ZSH1CZMNIt is that time of year. Most of us are feeling the vibes of the season…. No, not tax season, the holiday season. It starts at Thanksgiving when you gather with family and friends and continues until the end of the calendar year.

You probably hear those famous “three little words” more than usual this time of year, “I love you.”

But think about all of the other wonderful three little words that have special meaning:

  • Be home soon
  • On my way
  • You are special
  • You did great
  • Glad you’re here
  • Thanks so much
  • I miss you
  • Really good job
  • What an improvement

Add to this list and use many 3-little-word phrases at every time of the year. Use them at home and at work. You don’t have to give flowery speeches or spend extended time in work conversations. Many CPAs ask me, “What do I say when I am mentoring someone?” Sometimes 3-little-words will do just fine.

Oh yes, to the many loyal followers of my daily blog – I love you!

  • The best thing to hold onto in life is each other.
  • Audrey Hepburn

Monday, December 7th, 2015

Three Prime Needs

Some of my favorite quotations come from Zig Ziglar. One that I came across last week seemed so meaningful to accounting firm right now:

“Research indicates that employees have three prime needs: Interesting work, recognition for doing a good job, and being let in on things that are going on in the company.” – Zig Ziglar

I have written many blogs that address the same thing. You can find them in the archives…. however, just read Ziglar’s comment again and be sure your firm is providing for these three prime needs.

  • You don't build a business - - you build people - - and then people build the business.
  • Zig Ziglar

Saturday, November 28th, 2015

Lighten-Up, It’s The Weekend – Slow Down, Show Someone You Care

The frenzy of the holiday season seems to begin earlier and earlier each year. Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s all seem to be one huge, whirlwind of a season. Actually, in most stores…. it begins with Halloween!

Take a few minutes this weekend to watch this John Lewis ad (British department store).

Slow down, enjoy the season, count your blessings and reach-out to reinforce the wonderful relationships in your life.

  • If you haven't any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble.
  • Bob Hope

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

Invest In Your Firm Administrator

If you are a managing partner, you know the value of attending your firm association meetings or networking with other CPAs at your state society.

That’s why I am so surprised to hear that many CPA firm administrators do not get the support of the managing partner for attending the association meetings that are vital to their continuing career growth and success of the firm.

I attended the Ohio Chapter of CPAFMA last Friday and attendance was disappointing. I often speak at CPAFMA Chapter meetings around the country and their #1 concern is attendance at the chapter meetings.

CPAFMA_Name_PantoneWhen you dig deeper, you find out that some firm administrators don’t even ask the MP if they can attend. They take it for granted (because of their experiences inside the firm) that the MP would NOT want them to be out for a day or half day.

There are 21 chapters around the country. If your firm administrator is a member of CPAFMA, please support their attendance at chapter meetings and at the national conference. If you are a firm administrator ASK… No, inform the partners that you will be attending.

Most chapters have a roundtable discussion after the speaker has finished. Everyone brings a list of topics they want feedback on. Here’s an example from the Ohio meeting: Leadership development training, Skype, Credit Card use, 7216 & E/L’s, pay increases, retention, electronic signature procedures, super forms, cyber liability, billing rate changes, HR systems, bad debt write-offs, scanners/printers.

I bet you would like to know more about some of these topics – CPAFM provides a wealth of information to run your firm more efficiently.

  • I am learning all the time. My tombstone will be my diploma.
  • Eartha Kitt