Archive for the ‘On My Mind’ Category

Monday, March 6th, 2017

Georgia Society of CPAs – March Madness

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“The key is not the will to win, everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important.” – Bob Knight

Many thanks to the Georgia Society for featuring my article, Lessons Learned: Two Kinds of March Madness, in March/April 2017 issue of their magazine, Current Accounts.

I hope all of you who are members of the Georgia Society will read the magazine or access it online.

If you are a non-member, I will be using the article in my upcoming newsletter. You can subscribe here.

Hint: There is the AFMM March Madness and there is the NCAA March Madness. Of course, AFMM stands for Accounting Firm March Madness.

  • Once you are labeled - the best - you want to stay up there, and you can't do it by loafing around. If I don't keep changing, I'm history.
  • Larry Bird

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

Happiness

“Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of traveling.” – Margaret Lee Runbeck

During the month of February, Richard Branson featured many posts on the topic of happiness. He even provided a happiness playlist.

Have you recently thought about how happy you really are?  I recommend it.

Today, I want to talk about the happiness of your team. As a CPA firm leader, are you at all focused on what makes your team happy or are you just trying to keep up with what the competition is doing so you have a good chance at retaining people?

An accounting firm has a variety of roles and a variety of people filling those roles. It can be quite challenging trying to keep people happy.

That doesn’t mean you should stop trying. Make happiness the core of your workplace and begin by listening to your people. Often, some very small things can make them happy – it not always about more financial gain.

I have observed some amazing CPA firms during my many years working in the profession. They offer their people so much – a beautiful office, an outstanding menu of employee benefits, 10 or more paid holidays, four, five or more weeks PTO, competitive salaries, great technology, the chance to work with some really smart people, the opportunity to assist some very successful and innovative clients, recognition in the business community, free continuing education, flexibility and more. But, that’s not enough.

You need to try very hard to always think of new things to keep the team energized and happy. Maybe it’s a chair massage during busy season, a mini-golf outing, a bowling outing, a special catered dinner, theme dress-up days, seasonal parties, etc. Keep trying to surprise them!

The most important thing you can do to keep your team happy is to simply listen. They know what they want and it can be as simple as better communication from the partners or quicker turnaround on review.

This spring, you might want to ask them via an upward feedback survey.

If you recognize people on your team who are not happy at your firm, don’t hide from it – talk to them and if it is something you can’t remedy, help them find a position where they can find happiness in their work – no hard feelings.

  • You must give everything to make your life as beautiful as the dreams that dance in your imagination.
  • Roman Payne

Monday, February 27th, 2017

If You Like My Blog – I Hope You Will Vote

“A vote is like a rifle; its usefulness depends upon the character of the user.” – Theodore Roosevelt

I try to write helpful blog posts for the CPA profession. As most of you know, I have been writing daily for eleven years.

This year my blog has been selected as one of the 50 finalists by WalletHub. They are now seeking votes from readers to determine the BEST blogs being written for tax professionals.

Here’s where you vote – I’m #30:

https://wallethub.com/blog/best-tax-blogs/32604/

I hope you will vote and share the link with others who would be willing to vote for my blog.

It’s Monday, so think positive, get a lot done this week, keep your sense of humor and have fun.

  • Good, better, best. Never let it rest until your good is better and your better is best.
  • St. Jerome

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