Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ Category

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

Deadlines

“A goal is a dream with a deadline.” – Napoleon Hill

CPAs and their entire workforce are driven by deadlines. Of course, most of you reading this know how many tax deadlines there are. I think that working in a CPA firm for so long has definitely made me deadline focused.

It seems inside the CPA firm, if the deadline is several weeks off, the attitude might be, “Why worry, we have plenty of time?”

The_Snowman_(Nesbø_novel)Occasionally, you might miss an important deadline. It happens. That is why I found a passage in the book “The Snowman” by Jo Nesbo, so interesting. I never knew the origin of the word “deadline.”

Here’s the passage:

Harry had read that the word deadline originated from the battlefields of the American Civil War, when, for lack of anything material to lock prisoners behind, the captors gathered together the prisoners and a line was drawn around them in the dirt. Which became know as the “dead line,” and anyone who strayed beyond it was shot. 

Maybe the word “deadline” will now have a whole new meaning for you. Don’t miss one!

  • A deadline is negative inspiration. Still, it's better than no inspiration at all.
  • Rita Mae Brown

Monday, July 3rd, 2017

Closed On July 3rd?

“May we think of freedom not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right.” – Peter Marshall

Firm leaders debate it. Some say yes. Some say no. Some partners think they will lose a day’s production. Some partners think – I don’t care if we close or not, I’m not going to be here. Many partners say, “Let them take a day of PTO.”

FullSizeRenderWhen a paid holiday falls on a Tuesday or a Thursday, do we also give our team a paid holiday on the Monday before or the Friday after? Almost every firm now gives the day after Thanksgiving as a paid holiday. It has become the normal. However, there is nothing normal about the policy for when there is just one day between the holiday and the weekend.

I imagine that the same amount of production will happen this week Wednesday through Friday as would happen if the office was open on Monday. I have found that people work harder if they know they are getting a day off.

On Monday, if the office is not closed, most people will take PTO and that means “someone” has to be at the office to answer the phone and support those who are working (usually partners). That is not a happy situation for those “someones.”

Just to satisfy my curiosity, I did a small survey to see if firms were closing today – July 3rd, 2017. The firms were all sizes from various locations around the continental U.S.

13 – No, we are not closing our office(s).

11 – Yes, we will be closed

One mid-size firm replied that they will be closed on Monday and Wednesday.

One large firm that answered “No” did note that they have unlimited PTO so they didn’t feel any need to close. Still, someone has to be there if the offices are open.

Another firm noted that they designate one floating holiday each year and this year it was assigned to July 3. I like this idea.

My wish is that most of you will be enjoying beautiful summer weather with family and friends. Take a hike, ride a bike, swim, golf, or have a picnic. Enjoy the great outdoors.

  • Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.
  • Frank Lloyd Wright

Friday, June 2nd, 2017

Think About Quality

“The goal as a company is to have customer service that is not just the best but legendary.” – Sam Walton

Many firms proclaim, “We provide quality client service.”

A recent post by Seth Godin caused me to think about quality service in a more critical light.

Is your firm simply meeting client expectations? Or, are you exceeding client expectations? Do dare go for service that is even higher?

socksYear ago at Accountants Bootcamp, we learned that the goal should be much more lofty than meeting expectations.

I you want to distinguish yourself from other accounting firms, aim high and aim to provide awesome client service – you might call it “Knock your socks off client service.”

  • Every great business is built on friendship.
  • J. C. Penney

Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

Retire or Get Retired?

“If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there’d be a shortage of fishing poles.” – Doug Larson

I recently read an interview with actor Christopher Walken. He is 73.

He talked about taking any acting job that came his way these days because he is aging and not that many do come his way. As an actor, any job can be your last job.

It made me think of the many aging CPAs working in firms right now. As the baby boomers age, more and more are over the age of 65 and I encounter quite a few who are 70 – or nearing that age.

I also realize that many younger CPAs in these firms really want the older partners to retire. They are thinking the older partners should play the retirement card – just do it! Eventually, some will be forced out. Sure, it might be gently or it might not.

I don’t personally feel that partners should be forced out just because of age. It should be based on how productive they are and what contributions they make to the success of the firm. I continually hear of partners in their 40s and 50s who are NOT productive and don’t really contribute that much to the success of the firm.

However, if you are a more senior partner, is it time? Do you feel the unverbalized pressure? Wouldn’t you rather retire than “get retired”?

  • There's never enough time to do all the nothing you want.
  • Bill Watterson

Monday, November 7th, 2016

THINK AND THANK

“The way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement.” – Charles Schwab

It is November, a month when many people might make time to think about what they are thankful for. How about you, as it relates to your accounting firm and the people who populate it?

This month, leading up to Thanksgiving Day (here in the USA), I hope to remind you about some of the “I am so glad at my firm…..” things.

thinkFor today, set aside some time to THINK.

Here are some past blog posts about the value of actually setting aside some time to THINK and reflect upon who you are, where you are and what your work life means to you. After you think about the many wonderful things and wonderful people in your life…. I bet you will be thankful that you are part of an accounting firm.

Always carve out time to think – from August 2015. I think the word “carve” makes it appropriate for November.

Think it over – from January 9, 2014.

Make November your THINK and THANK month.

 

  • Gratitude is best and most effective when it does not evaporate itself in empty phrases.
  • Isaac Asimov

Monday, May 30th, 2016

Memorial Day Remembrance

VN soldiers1Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving their country’s armed forces.

While we do remember and honor all of our veterans on Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day is the other special holiday for all who have served.

I have been fortunate in that I have only known one person who died serving their country. A boy from our high school, a year ahead of me, died in Vietnam. I did not know him well but I do look up his name on the Wall every time I am in Washington DC.

There is another name I always visit when I am at the Wall. I did not know him, personally, but I am very fond of his son. I have even been with his son to together look at the name on the Vietnam Wall. His son is my good friend, Roman Kepczyk, known to many of you in the CPA profession. Below is a picture of Roman’s father’s name on the Wall.

I hope you will take a few moments today to remember those who have died in service to our country.

Kepczyk - Version 2

 

  • One of the best ways to keep peace is to be prepared for war.
  • General George Washington

Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

Getting Ready To Get Ready

“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” – Albert Einstein

At most CPA firms (yes, I said most), they are deep in the mode of “getting ready to get ready.”

  • Wait! Let’s see what other firms are doing.
  • Has any other firm tried this before?
  • Can we find someone at another firm that has tried this to talk to?
  • Let’s put that on the agenda for our next partner meeting (or next partner retreat).

I have always operated on the premise that we should “try it, we might like it.” Because change is happening so rapidly in the CPA profession, if you procrastinate too long you will be left behind.

Take action on new ideas. Reflect along the way and stay focused on the goal. Leap instead of crawl.

Maybe you will not be completely successful at first but you will get better and better. Don’t throw in the towel just because there are some bumps along the learning curve.

 

  • A failure is not always a mistake. It may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying.
  • B. F. Skinner

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016

Expectations For Your CPA Firm Admin Team

Just some food for thought this morning….

Contemplate how it’s going with your admin team during this busy time.

Okay, got it? What’s wrong with that picture?

I often find that administrative and support professionals inside CPA firms do not have clearly defined expectations and clear lines of authority.

To them, it seems like EVERYONE is their boss. I often ask them, “Who do you report to?” And then I ask, “Who controls what you do each day?”

It is often two very different people. Sometimes, it is no one at all!

  • The best preparation for good work tomorrow is to do good work today.
  • Elbert Hubbard

Monday, October 26th, 2015

Thoughts On Multitasking

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I have blogged about multitasking a few times in the past. I keep writing about it because more and more studies tell us about the negatives associated with it. I keep writing about it because so many people working inside CPA firms believe that the answer to efficiency is to multitask.

There is a good article written by Courtney E. Martin about the Myth of Multitasking. Here are some snippets for you to ponder when dealing with multitasking for yourself and those you mentor:

  • At the end of a day spent flitting around the Internet without committing to one task for an extended period of time, I often feel jittery, as if I’ve been throwing back espressos on an empty stomach. In fact, according to Daniel J. Levitin, author of The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload, multitasking actually creates a dopamine-addiction feedback loop “effectively rewarding the brain for losing focus and for constantly searching for external stimulation.”
  • Psychiatrist Edward M. Hallowell called multitasking “mythical,” and Levitin takes it a step further, describing it as “a powerful and diabolical illusion.” Study and study after study shows that multitasking is not just unhealthy and unsatisfying, but ineffective.
  • Before reading up on this literature, I have to admit, I thought multitasking was exhausting, but mostly benevolent — like that very high-energy friend that you can’t be around all the time, but in smaller doses, can be fun.
  • Nothing else. You can keep your Wi-Fi. You can keep your productivity experts. I’ll take flow over flitting any day.

In positive psychology, flow, also known as the zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.

  • It is by being fully involved with every detail of our lives, whether good or bad, that we find happiness, not by trying to look for it directly.
  • Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

Embrace Excitement – Do Not Fear Some Risk

It has to be right.

Accountants are trained in the art of being accurate… being right.

From day one, young accountants have their work reviewed and reviewed again. They receive multiple review notes about what to re-do and correct. Sadly, in many firms they don’t even know what they did wrong, their work is corrected by a reviewer and passed along the review and production pipeline to “get it out the door.” Eventually, they learn that they are making mistakes…. So, they adopt an “avoid risk and over-work the project” work style.

706BA1163FYes, being accurate with client work is very important but it doesn’t apply to everything that is going on inside a CPA firm. Forming a supportive culture, embracing new ideas on efficiency, empowering your firm administrator, working in the Cloud, modifying HR policies, training people, hiring people are all initiatives that continually need to evolve and keep pace with trends.

Inject some excitement in your firm, try things…. Do things… If it proves unsatisfactory just change it again.

Changing things inside your firm feels very risky. Status quo feels very comfortable.

Get over it and remember:  Being alive is a risk.

  • Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.
  • T. S. Eliot