Archive for the ‘On My Mind’ Category

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

Beat The Clock

“We didn’t lose the game, we just ran out of time.” – Vince Lombardi

Seth Godin blogged recently and asked, “What about sprints?”

My husband, in his youth, was a track athlete, plus baseball, basketball and whatever other sport was offered. Track was his best and favorite. He trained by doing sprints.

Many people training for their first 5k, walk for a while and then sprint for a minute or two (or more). Most people can’t sustain sprints for very long.

Maybe in your work, you need to try some sprints. Rather than having two speeds – work hard then rest (watching Netflix.. whatever you do when you go home), add a third speed… sprint.

Sometimes it is amazing what you can get done in a short period of time when you completely focus, shut out the rest of the world and just sprint.

A good friend of mine, Linda Watson – a CPA firm marketing consultant – always recommends playing “Beat the Clock” when she has an important article, promo piece or procedure to write. She sets aside one hour to focus and write like crazy – no interruptions. When the hour ends, she stops and is often amazed by what she can turn out in one hour.

I often take her advice and focus intently for one hour on an issue or challenge to see what I can accomplish. I sprint!

You might try it when you are stuck and short on time.

  • If you got the money honey I got the time and when you run out of money I run out of time.
  • Willie Nelson

Thursday, December 28th, 2017

More Productive

“Being rich is having money; being wealthy is having time.” – Margaret Bonnano

I recently read an interesting article via HBR on how to be more productive and still reduce the hours your work.

A Gallup poll found that 40% of U.S. workers “were so stressed out they felt burned out”. Stress and anxiety are cited in 70% of calls placed to phone-counseling lines at Workplace Options, a provider of employee- assistance programs. The vast majority of professionals (94%) worked 50 hours or more a week and almost half worked more than 65 hours a week.

You can see why I found the article interesting. Working in public accounting often requires stressful and long hours! Fortunately, many of the more progressive firms have realized the damage excessive hours can cause and have focused more on life/work balance.

The author (Matt Plummer) of the article and a friend set out on a mission to be more productive and work less hours. They set a simple goal, work 10% less hours than their traditional average. For you, in public accounting, working 50 hours per week, it would mean getting the same amount of work accomplished by working 45 hours per week.

How productive are you? Do you even know how much time you actually waste at work during a typical week? Think about it. I bet you can be more productive by working less hours! I urge you to read the article and enlist others to try it at your CPA firm.

Firm leaders, don’t demand that people work a certain number of hours, they can do that without thinking. Rather, focus on results – on what actually gets accomplished during a typical week.

  • Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else.
  • Peter Drucker

Friday, December 22nd, 2017

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

Thank-you to the large tribe of followers of my daily blog. You are what keeps me going! Stay tuned for lots more as we enter a new year. Best wishes for a successful, changing, dynamic and enjoyable 2018.
Holiday slide 2017 jpg

  • Sometimes we spend so much time and energy thinking about where we want to go that we don't notice where we happen to be.
  • Dan Gutman

Thursday, December 21st, 2017

Sanity Time

“I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.” – Edgar Allan Poe

This morning, I had 50 minutes of sanity time. Here’s the official definition of sanity:

San·i·ty:  the ability to think and behave in a normal and rational manner; sound mental health.

For the last few weeks, and especially the last several days, I have been more in a panic mode than a sanity mode.

I’ve been rushing around trying to get EVERYTHING done. As many of you know, my husband broke his leg in October and he is still not allowed to put any weight on it… so he needs quite a bit of care plus, he has always done SO much around the house. Yes, I actually have to cook now! Then it is the normal demands of the Christmas season… shopping, baking, wrapping, mailing – some of which got dropped this year.

This morning, I had to take my car to the dealership for a recall notice repair. Had to be done before December 31st. So, I just waited (about 50 minutes) for them to complete the work. I sat in the waiting room, helped myself to a cup of coffee and just glanced at my phone and looked out the window at the sunny day. I couldn’t jump up and get something for my husband. Couldn’t load the dishwasher, couldn’t do laundry, couldn’t do shopping – my online shopping was complete. I did not answer emails from my clients (who also seem frantic and needy right now). I just relaxed and it was wonderful.

Maybe you can find some sanity time over this long holiday weekend. Sneak away if you have to and find a quiet place with no one else you know near you (and don’t talk to strangers like I usually do). You might find a coffee shop, a library or the waiting room of a dealership and do nothing worthwhile for an hour. Of course, I did a lot of THINKING during that 50 minutes – I hope you will include that activity in your sanity time.

  • Sanity is a madness put to good use.
  • George Santayana

Tuesday, December 19th, 2017

Time

If time is flying, you are likely doing a good thing.” – Alan Burdick, author of Why Time Flies

Time is an over-whelming part of CPA firm culture. Sometimes we place way too much importance on it and sometimes we waste it. No matter what, whether you are value pricing or billing by the hour – someone above you in the office food chain, one of your peers or a subordinate will be asking… “How long did it take you to do that?”

Even more important is your personal time. Do you treasure it, save it or waste it?

People who are more engaged, interested, having fun and immersed in what they are doing will say, “Wow, time sure flew.”

I leave you with this:

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.” – Henry David Thoreau

  • There are no secrets that time does not reveal.
  • Jean Racine

Friday, December 15th, 2017

It’s Not a Time For Procrastination

Procrastination under the guise of preparation is stagnation. – Dan Rockwell

Certified Public Accountants working in public practice are known for their very well-developed procrastination skills.

Sometimes, entire partner groups seem to become frozen in time.

It probably would seem strange to outsiders, but some of it comes from success. We’ve worked hard. We’ve done well. We are making great money. Our clients are happy. Let’s cruise for a while! We will think about “those” issues and address them next year.

Firms with that mentality (and there are a lot of them), will not find their way into the future. 2018 could be a key turning point, or not, for many smaller firms.

Plan now to make 2018 an action year.

  • The really happy people are those who have broken the chains of procrastination, those who find satisfaction in doing the job at hand. They're full of eagerness, zest, productivity. You can be, too.
  • Norman Vincent Peale

Friday, December 1st, 2017

Busy Season Begins

It is December 1.

For years, we considered the beginning of “busy season” – we used to call it tax season but that term is no longer comprehensive enough – to be January 2.

Some firms would even require employees to begin working extended hours immediately after the New Year holiday, whether they truly had full schedules or not.

Firm leaders would often struggle to keep people busy after April 15th. They longed for more projects that could be scheduled from May to December. These days, from my observations, busy season continues throughout most of the year.

In my recent discussions with various firms of all sizes and locations, busy season begins in December. Firms are engaging their clients in much needed tax planning and those appointments plus completion of other tasks that have to be done before January, add some additional stress to the holiday season.

Firm leaders are challenged with allowing their employees to take extra time off during December when some clients need attention right up to the last minute on December 31.

This came to mind because of the recent news that American Airlines allowed too many pilots to schedule time off during those last two weeks of the year and perhaps 15,000 flights were in danger of being cancelled. It seems they have worked it out by paying the pilots additional money to cover the holiday rush.

Maybe that is a solution for you. You might have some employees who would work more hours during those last two weeks of December (for additional dollars) so that other employees could have time off for family activities.

Let the scheduling games begin!

Thursday, November 23rd, 2017

Thanksgiving Blessings

Happy Turkey Day to all my wonderful readers, followers, clients and friends. I count all of you among my many blessings! Enjoy your day with family and friends. Find some quiet time over the 4-day weekend to think about, and count, all your blessings.

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Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

“As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.” – Mr. Carlson, WKRP in Cincinnati

I hope you will enjoy your 4-day weekend and a special time of year with family and friends.

Have you seen Seth Godin’s Thanksgiving Reader? I hope you will use it tomorrow. Here’s a little bit about it from Godin:

I’m delighted to point you to the Thanksgiving Reader . The file you’ll find there is free, it’s printable, it’s sharable and it might give us something universal and personal to do this Thanksgiving.

The idea is simple: At your Thanksgiving celebration (and yes, it’s okay to use it outside the US!), consider going around the table and having each person read a section aloud.

During these ten or fifteen minutes, millions of people will all be reading the same words, thinking about the same issues, connecting with each other over the essence of what we celebrate. After all the travel and the cooking and the hassle, for these ten or fifteen minutes, perhaps we can all breathe the same air and think hard about what we’re thankful for.

It’s free to download and share. I hope you’ll let some people in your life know about it and incorporate it in your celebration this year. There’s no commercial element involved—after all, it’s Thanksgiving. 

Please share. 

Also, here’s a link to my Thanksgiving tradition – watching this classic clip. 

  • Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence.
  • Erma Bombeck

Tuesday, November 14th, 2017

Programs to Advance Women to Leadership Roles in CPA Firms Seen as Bolstering Talent Acquisition, Survey Finds

“Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition.” – Marilyn Monroe

Here’s a recent press release from the AICPA. Since “women in accounting” are very important to me, I wanted to be sure to share this with my readers. I have bolded some points that were important to me.

CHICAGO (Nov. 9, 2017) – U.S. CPA firms that use advancement programs for promoting women to leadership positions overwhelmingly view them as effective tools in recruiting and retaining talent, according to new research by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA).

Mentorship is by far the most popular advancement program, with 45 percent of firms using it, the 2017 CPA Firm Gender Survey found. Sponsorship, in which influential firm leaders take a more formal role in guiding promising employees to career opportunities, professional development and promotions, is used by 12 percent of firms.

“There are two important takeaways here: 1) firms that use these programs have seen a beneficial impact on attracting and retaining talent,” said Melissa K. Hooley, CPA, CGMA, chair of the AICPA Women’s Initiatives Executive Committee. “And 2) firms that are taking active steps to promote women and minorities likely will have a competitive advantage when it comes to securing talent.”

Advancement Program

Percentage of Firms Using It

Of That Group, Those Who Say It Has an Impact on Attracting or Retaining Talent

Mentoring

45%

87%

Sponsorship

12%

97%

Gender Initiative

11%

85%

Minority Initiative

2%

90%

Combined Diversity & Inclusion

6%

90%

Women comprise nearly half of all accounting graduates entering the profession, but remain underrepresented at the partnership level and other leadership positions. The survey shows little change in this area from studies done in years past, which have typically found less than one-quarter of the partnership ranks made up of women. As was the case two years ago – the last time the CPA Firm Gender Survey was conducted – the percentage of women partners was found to be highest at smaller firms.

Firm Size

Percentage of Women Partners

Two to 10 CPAs

42% (43%*)

11 to 20 CPAs

30% (39%)

21 to 99 CPAs

26% (27%)

100+ CPAs

21% (20%)

*Results in parentheses from 2015 CPA Firm Gender Survey

Among other findings of the survey:

  • An analysis of job titles found that women maintained parity or better with men in CPA firms through the senior manager level, after which the ratio declines
  • The larger the firm, the greater the gender gap in equity ownership
  • Only 47 percent of firms have a succession plan and only two percent have a formal gender component in those plans
  • Some 89 percent of firms say they have instituted some form of modified work arrangements, with flextime and reduced hours being the most prevalent

Survey methodology:  The CPA Firm Gender Survey was conducted online by MKTG Incorporated for the AICPA’s Women’s Initiatives Executive Committee from Aug. 3 to Sept. 11, 2017. Some 492 qualified respondents, drawn from CPA firms of varying sizes and regions within the United States, participated.

For more information about gender initiatives and other resources, visit aicpa.org/womenlead.

  • Because I am a woman, I must make unusual efforts to succeed. If I fail, no one will say, “She doesn’t have what it takes.” They will say, “Women don’t have what it takes”
  • Clare Boothe Luce