Archive for the ‘Reading’ Category

Friday, June 3rd, 2016


“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.” – Oscar Wilde

I’m sure you have heard the song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. It is from the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack album and has been immensely popular. Here’s the lyrics to the chorus:

Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do

While we often moan and groan about the challenging work inside a CPA firm and the long hours (at times), I believe things have definitely changed for the better and CPA firm employees are happy. While performing my survey work for various accounting firms, I have found that most employees really are pleased with their work and proud of their firm.

Employees in most progressive CPA firms can now wear jeans on Fridays and in some firms every day. Firm leaders are involving all levels of employees in major firm decisions and if they have to work late to meet the needs of a client, they can do so from the comfort of their own home.

There is an interesting article via the Journal of Accountancy titled:  How To Increase CPAs Happiness On The Job. Happiness researcher, Marsha H. Huber, CPA, Ph.D administered a survey on happiness to 1,200 CPAs in various industries asking them questions about topics including their satisfaction at work and in life and whether they found their work meaningful.

She discovered three factors

HOPE – She found the most important ingredient for job satisfaction to be hope – the belief in a better professional future based on concrete goals and multiple paths through which to achieve them.

CALLING – It’s a sense of purpose, excitement, and passion.

AUTONOMY – Nobody wants to be stuck in a job with no freedom.

Be sure to read the entire article and assess the conditions inside your own firm. The go get Happy!


  • Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.
  • Dalai Lama

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

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

The Importance of Your CPA Firm Employee Handbook

“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.” – Oscar Wilde

Your employee handbook is important to firm leaders AND it is important to CPA firm employees.

Most mid- to large size CPA firms have an employee handbook in place. Many smaller firms also have one in place, too. However, I find that firms without a full-time firm administrator or HR professional haven’t updated, or even read, their employee handbook in ages.

Recently, I reviewed an employee handbook used by one of my newer clients. I opened the pdf copy and immediately recognized something about 20 years old and probably straight out of the old MAP Handbook. It was dated to say the least.

Here’s the point of this post: Employers need to have their policies and procedures documented in writing and have it easily accessible (online) to all employees. Employees need to actually read the entire employee handbook and sign-off.

The trouble is that new employees are over-whelmed when first joining the firm, meeting new co-workers and getting up-to-speed on their duties as soon as possible. Often the reading of the employee handbook gets put on the back burner. They may even sign-off without actually reading the handbook. After all, some handbooks can be 20 to 40 pages long!

Eventually, the firm administrator, MP or HR person will be faced with a situation where an employee has violated a policy. During the ensuing conversation, the employee admits they have not read the handbook.

I recommend that during orientation, one hour be set aside for the new employee to have uninterrupted time to read the firm’s employee handbook.


  • Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.
  • Gertrude Stein

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016

February Newsletter – Solutions For CPA Firm Leaders

Newsletter pictureYesterday, my February CPA firm management newsletter went out to thousands of people working in the CPA profession.

Articles included:

In The Battle For Talent: Will Denim & Other Enhanced Benefits Win Out?

CPA Firm Systems Are Driven By Culture

Feedback Is The Breakfast of Champions

You can access the newsletter (for a limited time) here.  If you want to be added to my mailing list, sign-up here.

  • It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it.
  • Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

Living On The Edge Of Creativity

SethGodinI hope you are a digital firm doing work on the frontier, on the edges of creativity and where answers are being found. The preceding thoughts come from a recent blog post by Seth Godin. I periodically share one of his entire posts because I think they actually speaks to the CPA profession. I love the words, “attitude trumps background”. People may tell you that you are too young or that you are too old. You are not.

It’s not your turn, is it?

If you’re moving forward and moving fast, you’ve no doubt heard it:

  • People who look like you aren’t qualified to do this work.
  • Your resume is thin.
  • You don’t know the right people.
  • You’re too young to take this one on.
  • This isn’t for someone as cute as you.
  • The thing you failed at, all those years ago, that disqualifies you from this.
  • I don’t trust the ___s.
  • You live where?
  • We were hoping for someone younger.
  • I’m not sure you’re a good cultural fit.
  • You’re particularly overqualified to do this.
  • I once knew someone your age/race/demographic and they let me down.
  • I’ll get back to you.
  • Hear these lines too many times and you might begin to believe them.

Now, more than ever, attitude trumps background, productivity defeats ignorance, particularly when it comes to the work done on the frontier, on the edges of creativity, where answers are still being found.

Too many people have told you ‘no’. And many of them were wrong. Not wrong about what they wanted–perhaps what you have isn’t for them. But wrong about what you could contribute.

Pick yourself, and keep making art until someone can’t ignore you any longer.

It’s not fair, but it’s better than the alternative.

  • Don't try to make a product for everybody, because that is a product for nobody.
  • Seth Godin

Monday, February 15th, 2016


I just finished reading In the Garden of Beasts by Erick Larson. It is the true and fascinating story of William E. Dodd who became America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s Nazi Germany in 1933.

In the end notes, Larson mentions a quote by Dodd when he was spending time at his Virginia farm. It made me think of you… CPAs.

“The old red-brick fireplace was as dignified as George Washington and the 18th century when men had time to be dignified.” – William Dodd

I may criticize you, prod you to change, poke fun at the profession and routinely nag you. BUT, I truly believe that in this crazy world we live in, there are very few people I would call dignified. Except for you, the men and women working in the CPA profession.

Make your mission to continually bring dignity to the business world!

Another wonderful book by Larson that I highly recommend is The Devil in the White City. A chilling story set in a historic time for Chicago, described as: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America.

  • The only important thing in a book is the meaning that it has for you.
  • W. Somerset Maugham

Saturday, January 30th, 2016

Lighten-Up, It’s The Weekend – A Time For Something Off-Topic, Humorous Or Even Weird

Most of us have read the very well-known book Robinson Crusoe by Daniel DeFoe. If not, you at least know about it and have probably seen movies based the the shipwrecked premise.

Per Wikipedia, the novel was first published on April 25, 1719. The first edition credited the work’s protagonist Robinson Crusoe as its author, leading many readers to believe he was a real person and the book a travelogue of true incidents.

The other day, while in a book store, I found a book that provided humor by fantasizing about what some editors of famous authors’ books might have noted for the author. I hope the following makes you smile and lighten-up this weekend.


  • It is better to have a lion at the head of an army of sheep, than a sheep at the head of an army of lions.
  • Daniel Defoe

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

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

Don’t Read Email First Thing In The Morning

“Lose an hour in the morning, and you will be all day hunting for it.” – – Richard Whately

You know it’s true. If you arrive at the office, get your cup of coffee and then sit down at the computer and begin reading emails, an hour will fly by before you even realize it.

I read something in a magazine recently… just a little tip to get more work done: Schedule e-mail checking blocks – – two 45-minute chunks per day. The constant checking of email and social media is the number one enemy of productivity. Yes, it is a tough habit to break.

A8AAE8C9FFLike most of you, I get a lot of email. However, when I tried NOT checking email so often (3 times per day), I began to be extremely more productive.

Here is a great article (a quick read) from Sid Savara – 7 Reasons You Should Never Check Email First Thing In The Morning.

I like the #1 Reason – Ignorance Is Bliss…Fully Productive – – When it comes to email, ignorance is bliss. That’s why if you’ve got something you want to make progress on, I have these 4 words for you: Don’t check your email.

Reason #2 – It’s Not Your Todo List – – Do you know what is most important for you to work on? Do you know the first thing you want to do this morning? Then go ahead and do it! On the other hand, by checking email, you risk doing what someone else wants you to do….

Follow the link above to read more about #1, #2 and reasons #3 thru #7.

Maybe the first thing you want to do in the morning is read this blog… Oh, yeah!

  • Obstacles are those frightful things you can see when you take your eyes off your goal.
  • Henry Ford

Friday, January 8th, 2016

Celebrating 10 Years of Blogging!

Every year when January rolls around, I take some time to reflect back on why I write this blog.

You see, I have been blogging every business day since January 2, 2006. This January is my 10th anniversary and I have rarely missed a day. I even try to post a “lighten-up” topic every weekend.

If you look on the right-hand side of this webpage, you will see an Archive widget – Click on select month and you will see a drop down of all the months since January 2006. You have the ability to read all of my past blog posts – not that you would want to do that. However, seeing all of the months in the drop down will give you a sense of how much content I have “out there”.

Click here to read “Introduction of Rita Keller Blog – CPA Firm Management” on January 5, 2006. I actually had a typo in the title and I haven’t changed it! Most of the publications listed in that blog post do not even exist anymore. You can also see how I looked 10 years ago – my how time flies!

I have strived to continually improve and expand my daily posts to address so many issues relative to the CPA profession. I never run out of ideas to share with all of you – at least I haven’t yet.

Most of all, as I reflect back, I want to thank-you for reading my daily posts. Many of you have signed up with the RSS feed to receive it in your mailbox every day. However, I still like you to visit the site because my daily quotations do not come through on the feed.

Ten years is a long time to write a daily blog post. Maybe this year I will miss a few days, maybe not…. if nothing else, I am persistent.

I have taken Churchill’s advice – see the quote below.


  • If you have an important point to make, don't try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time - a tremendous whack.
  • Winston Churchill