Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ Category

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

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

Sway With The Punches

This is a very busy time inside CPA firms right now.

I have talked with hundreds of people working at CPA firms during the last year – CPAs, HR professionals, firm administrators, technology gurus, and marketing professionals.

Whether you are a CPA fighting the battle first-hand or a support professional facing the continual comment from the CPAs: “I’m too busy!” (to write an article, to attend a networking event, mentor an intern, provide timely performance feedback….), you might let what happens at work “get to you”.

What do you do when you feel like you are about to “lose it”? Here’s some advice I found when I was reading The Snowman by Jo Nesbo, that might apply:

“Do what boxers do, sway with the punches. Don’t resist. If any of what happens at work gets to you, just let it. You won’t be able to shut it out in the long term anyway. Take it bit by bit, release it like a dam, don’t let it collect until the wall develops cracks.”

  • For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.
  • Lily Tomlin

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Comfort, Complacency And Status Quo

IMG_2387Experienced CPAs who have survived, long-term in public accounting work hard. However, they love the work, it’s not a penalty or a chore. They love their clients and helping them survive taxation and other financial challenges. They love helping clients build successful businesses that will provide for a comfortable retirement down the road.

After doing this for many years, they become a partner in a CPA firm and make a lot of money. They love the work and they make great money doing what they love. Life is good.

Sure, at times they do have people challenges… you know, employees and partners. Maybe even at home.

But, over the years they have become complacent. Often, almost unknowingly, they begin to strongly avoid change. They want to maintain the status quo. They are comfortable.

But…. what are they missing? What more could they do for their people, their clients and even their family?

If this sounds anything at all like you, here’s the question – – Are you comfortable or are you stuck?

  • One day everything will be well, that is our hope. Everything's fine today, that is our illusion.
  • Voltaire

Friday, January 10th, 2014

Don’t Always Believe It

I try to provide CPAs and all the people working inside CPA firms with helpful information via my presentations, workshops, newsletter, consulting activities and this blog.

Much of it comes from my many years of actual experience working inside a growing, profitable CPA firm. Some of it also comes from my extensive reading…. of books, articles, newsletters, blogs, tweets, and so on.

There is so much great information out there now via the internet. Just a word of caution, as you probably already know – – not all of it is true. I’m trying to be very careful in what I pass along and I want you to also be very careful when you hear about or read about certain trends, strategies and best practices.

My mission today is to simply share an example.

photoOn the topic of goal-setting, I have read about and heard about a study conducted by Harvard Business School over a 10-year period. The study reported that only 3% of Harvard MBAs actually write down their goals – 97% do not. The study also reported that the 3% ended up being much more successful and, over the 10-year period, were making ten times as much as the other 97% combined.

This study eventually was discovered to be fiction. Here’s the answer to an inquiry made to Harvard “Ask a Librarian” site:

I think you are referring to the “Harvard Goals Study,” reports of which periodically surface in motivational literature. We have been asked repeatedly about this research, but we have never been able to find such a study. It is frequently cited as having transpired at Yale, but librarians there have not found a trace either. 

Read the entire Harvard response here.

You can also read more about this goal-setting story here. I found it quite interesting.

The moral of the story? Be careful out there!

  • Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth.
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt