Archive for the ‘On My Mind’ Category
Monday, January 23rd, 2017
“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.
Tuesday, January 17th, 2017
“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
“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.
Thursday, January 12th, 2017
“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
“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.
Sometimes 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.
- 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.
Tuesday, December 27th, 2016
“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.
Sunday, December 25th, 2016
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!
Monday, December 12th, 2016
“The art of communication is the language of leadership.” – James Humes
In my November newsletter, I wrote an article titled, “Let Clients Know Your Expectations.”
I covered a favorite topic of mine, training your clients. I continually hear a lot of moaning and groaning about clients who are always late with their “stuff,” clients who don’t respond to requests and clients who provide their information in a shoebox or shopping bag. We all know who they are!
I even outlined some steps you can take. You can read the article here.
In response to that article, my good friend, and client, Mike Shost sent me a copy of his Year End Letter to clients and agreed that I could share it.
Shost clearly outlines “2017 filing season dates to help you personally plan for the preparation of your 2016 individual income tax return.”
Notice he states…. to help you. He is helping the client but he is also helping himself and his valuable team members.
The letter also contains a detailed listing of Important Dates for the 2017 Filing Season. How clearly are you communicating with your clients?
You can view the sample here. Thank-you so much, Mike!
Write to be understood. Speak to be heard. Read to grow.
Lawrence Clark Powell
Thursday, December 8th, 2016
“Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.” – Simon Sinek
Culture is what attracts top talent to your firm.
I have observed that many firms really haven’t focused on culture or even thought about it much. The fact is, they have one (a culture) anyway and often it is not a culture that will attract the best talent or even the best clients.
A great culture evolves inside an accounting firm when great people are engaged. Per Gallup, only about 70% of U.S. workers are working at their full potential.
You can build a great culture by being more inclusive, by involving everyone in planning for the future, by clearly communicating the firm purpose, vision and values, by setting a good example as a leader, by continually giving them more meaningful and challenging work and by taking them along. And, that is just a few of the actions you can take.
Why not make 2017 the year you begin to shape a winning culture?
We have a culture where we are incredibly self critical, we don't get comfortable with our success.
Mark Parker, CEO, Nike
Tuesday, December 6th, 2016
“If YOU don’t believe in YOU enough to invest in YOU then don’t be surprised when others don’t invest in YOU.” – Grant Cardone
I am often disappointed in some less experienced people working in public accounting when I learn that they always EXPECT the firm to pay for ALL of their learning and continuing education.
Some even expect the firm to pay for a book that might help them with self-improvement.
The investment in yourself is the best investment you can ever make. The “firm,” for one reason or another, won’t pay for you to attend a specific conference, seminar or meeting. Maybe you should pay for it yourself if you really believe it will enhance your career advancement. Maybe you should buy some self-improvement books, tapes, podcasts or apps and actually read them and listen to them.
Commuting time could turn into a motivational session.
I like this quote from Grant Cardone:
“The best business advice I’ve ever been given was from my mother, who was never actually in business,” the self-made millionaire tells CNBC. “She said, ‘The best investment you will ever make is in yourself.It’s a no lose deal. It will always give you a return. Nobody can take it from you. It’s yours.'”
I’m not your mother but my advice to you – no matter what your age: Invest in yourself!
Success will not come knock on your front door. You must go find it.