Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ Category
Thursday, January 2nd, 2014
On January 2, 2006, I posted my first blog. Eight years ago today. Here’s what it said:
MONDAY, JANUARY 2ND, 2006
Happy New Year 2006 and Welcome to Rita Keller’s Blog.
I know that many of you visiting this Blog are part of my expanding team of CPA firm management explorers – seeking new ways and revisiting proven, old ways of efficiently and profitably managing the CPA firm of the future – the firm where young professionals will want to build their careers.
I am just getting started, so check back soon for more information.
I thought I would blog about something every weekday to help all of the hardworking professionals involved in managing accounting firms.
Other than a very few misses….. I have been doing that for 8 years!
You can check-our the archives on the right-side of this page. If you are wondering about a specific topic (mentoring, marketing, leadership, social media) you can also click on the category to maybe find some advise and comments on your topic.
I hope you’ll stick with me through 2014. Sign-up on the right and an email will come to you each day.
I'd rather be a failure at something I love than a success at something I hate.
Wednesday, December 18th, 2013
It’s that time of year. Many of us reflect back on the current year. We think about what went right and what went wrong relating to our business life in the CPA profession (or any profession for that matter). I wanted to pass along two quotes from men of accomplishment. Men we lost in 2013.
Some of you may have left your firm and joined another firm. Some of you may have merged your firm “upward” and some of you have acquired other firms. In either case, both sides have had to struggle with maintaining and embracing culture, brand and identity.
Sometimes, you don’t get your own way….. here’s a quote for any time you are feeling bitterness in your life:
“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” – – Nelson Mandela
Some of you might be very new in your career in public accounting. Just because you are in the accounting profession doesn’t mean you should not be bold. It doesn’t mean you should not take more risks with your career. It doesn’t mean you should blame the accounting profession for your boredom. Even very experienced CPAs are way too tentative about many things. Never settle for status quo. Continually move toward opportunity. This quote applies to men and women….
“I will not be a common man. I will stir the smooth sands of monotony. I do not crave security. I wish to hazard my soul to opportunity.” – – Peter O’Toole (at age 18)
Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.
Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013
I recently read a listing of Seth Godin’s most popular blog posts of 2012. Here’s one of those posts that spoke volumes to me, as it relates to the hundreds…. thousands… of CPAs I know in public practice.
What do YOU do when you first sit down at the computer? – – Here’s Seth’s post:
The first thing you do when you sit down at the computer
Let me guess: check the incoming. Check email or traffic stats or messages from your boss. Check the tweets you follow or the FB status of friends.
You’ve just surrendered not only a block of time but your freshest, best chance to start something new.
If you’re a tech company or a marketer, your goal is to be the first thing people do when they start their day. If you’re an artist, a leader or someone seeking to make a difference, the first thing you do should be to lay tracks to accomplish your goals, not to hear how others have reacted/responded/insisted to what happened yesterday.
As a CPA firm leader – no matter what your actual title – you are someone seeking to make a difference. Use your “freshest” time wisely.
Today, take a minute to ponder the following quotation… from Godin.
Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don't need to escape from.
Friday, March 29th, 2013
Actually, stress can be a good thing.
Working inside a CPA firm, it is your busiest time of year and you are feeling stressed by your workload, deadlines, emails, client phone calls and maybe even by the performance of your employees or your peers.
Stress, like many other things, is somewhat misunderstood. Stress can actually cause instinctive physical responses that cause us to be more aroused and more focused and more ready to respond physically and mentally to whatever is coming our way.
According to an article from HBR, How You Can Benefit From All Your Stress, like many things it depends on your attitude. I think one reason that I survived 30 years in a high-performance, high-stress, fast-paced, every-changing culture in a CPA firm is because I actually enjoyed the busiest times and the demanding performance expectations. I looked at it as fun, challenging, interesting and never-boring.
According to research, your mindset about stress is the most important thing. There is the stress-is-debilitating mindset and the stress-is-enhancing mindset. A study of 400 employees of an international financial institution found that those employees who had the stress-is-enhancing mindset reported having better health, greater life satisfaction and superior work performance.
Attitude is your responsibility. It’s the one thing you have complete control over. Sometimes in public accounting firms I think we have too many Eeyores (Woe is me. Oh no, things are bad. The sky is falling.) and not enough Bob the Builders (We can do it. Yes we can!).
There is more to life than increasing its speed.
Monday, February 11th, 2013
What’s going to happen to your firm in the long run? What’s going to happen to you, as a business professional, in the long run?
Marketing guru, Seth Godin, tells us, “….the long run keeps getting shorter and that the short run has always been short and getting shorter still. In the long run, you get caught, in the long run, kindness wins out, in the long run, we learn about who you really are.”
I bet you and your partners have danced around that “what happens in the long run” topic for years. Some of you are “cashing in your chips” – another name for merging up. Still, many of you are working diligently at creating a firm that can live on. Not an easy task.
In the long run, can your firm continue to compete with the big boys? I believe there is a place for accounting firms of all sizes. Sure, the business world needs the big firms, but a big firm might not be the best fit for small business owners trying to build something for their families.
I feel this, too. I’m not one of the big boys and girls. Many consultants and advisors come across as more powerful, more persistent, someone who can drive those darn partners into submission. Sometimes you need them to do that for you.
Yet, I have advantages. My competitors are great people (just like yours) but most have never worked inside a growing firm like I did for 30 years. If they did work inside a firm, it was decades ago and they were not the person responsible for managing the firm. My other advantage is that I believe in kindness.
As Godin says, “In the long run, kindness wins out and we learn about who we really are.”
Character, in the long run, is the decisive factor in the life of an individual and of nations alike.
Monday, January 14th, 2013
It’s award season. I guess that’s what you would call the first half of a year when many of the major award shows are televised.
The list is long. Here’s a few of the major ones that are televised: People’s Choice Awards, Golden Globe Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards, Academy Awards. I caught a few minutes of the Golden Globe Awards last night (less than 30 min. to be exact). I’m not a big fan of award shows.
However, what I do like about them is most of the winners do remember, in a very public, visible way, to thank certain people who have been influential, helpful, key in the development of their skills and careers. Just my opinion, but most of these “stars” would absolutely not be successful if it were not for the make-up people, the agents, the long list of various “coaches,” costume designers, writers, directors and so on.
Of course, there are various awards given to accountants and other people working in the accounting profession – 40 Under 40, Most Powerful Women, Best Places to Work and so on.
But, what if YOU were named the 2013 Best CPA In A Leading Role in Public Accounting? Who would you thank? Would the people, behind the scenes supporting you, be proud?
I can't deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me.
Sally Field, accepting for her role in Norma Ray
Tuesday, November 6th, 2012
Back in October, I read a couple of tweets by Alan Weiss that sure got my attention. As a CPA, serving and seeking clients they apply to YOU. As a consultant serving CPAs in public practice, they also apply to me. Here’s the first:
“You cannot help people who don’t want to be helped. Find better prospects.”
Then he followed with a 2nd tweet:
“Small businesses with several partners – worse kind of clients.”
Oh, my – what am I doing?
Most CPA firms who hire consultants have several partners. Many of these partners are very comfortable with status quo. They are making lots of money, they are riding the wave until retirement, so why change?
You may think you can fool others, but the worst person to fool is yourself.
Friday, October 12th, 2012
When I worked inside a CPA firm, during the early years, one thing that really bugged me was the fact that the majority of the team members could walk up the sidewalk, into the front door of our office building and walk past a fast-food sack that had blown onto our sidewalk.
We had a broom in a closet right inside our front door (we occupied the entire building – a small, historic office building). Rarely, if ever, did any of the partners or team members grab the broom and sweep the leaves from the entry-way in the fall.
In the winter we kept a snow shovel in that same closet. Did anyone use it? Yes, I did.
The only other people who picked up random trash, swept the walk or shoveled the walk was one long-time manager and the firm’s Managing Partner. Yes, it always bugged me.
I bet in your CPA firm office there are many people who leave the coffee pot empty, never fill the paper tray in the printer, cut things with the paper cutter and leave the scraps behind and even spill something on the counter in the lunch room and simply walk away.
For all of you who actually do the “extra work,” who clean up messes, go out of your way to make sure that your firm presents itself well to the public, restock the printers and copiers and make coffee when you take the last cup – your are my heroes.
Does something need to be delivered to a client? – – Step-up and volunteer. The firm sponsors a Lunch & Learn session and the admin team has purchased and served pizza. Why not stick around afterwards and help clean up?
I said all that because I wanted to share a blog post by Seth Godin, it follows:
Do the (extra work)
Do the extra work not because you have to but because it’s a privilege.
Get in early.
Sweep the floor without being asked.
Especially when it’s not your turn.
Not because you want credit or reward. Because you can.
The industrialist wants to suck everything out of you. Doing extra work as a cog in an industrial system is a fool’s errand.
For the rest of us, the artist and the freelancer and the creator, we know that the privilege of doing the extra work is the work itself.
The habit of doing more than is necessary can only be earned through practice. And the habit is priceless.
The man who does more than he is paid for will soon be paid more than he does.
Thursday, September 6th, 2012
Solutions For CPA Firm Leaders, my monthly newsletter, was released yesterday. If you haven’t signed-up yet, you can do so here.
If you receive my newsletter and find value in an article, I hope you will forward it to others. In fact, I hope you share it with everyone inside your firm.
This month’s articles:
Life In The “No Boss” World
No Time To Read?
What’s Rita Up To Now?
For a period of time, you can access the newsletter here.
I am not young enough to know everything.
Thursday, July 26th, 2012
Today’s post is one of those “it’s on my mind” type ramblings that I sometimes can’t resist. I’ll be asking you, as a firm leader, lots of questions and I want you to think about your answers.
During my think time early this morning, my mind kept wandering to the topic of CPA firm leaders’ hesitancy in doing something different, something new, something they have never tried before.
The question I get most often is: “What are other firms doing?” Often it is even more specific: “What are other firms our size doing?” The question I want YOU to start asking is, “Why?”
“We need to get our 2-day partner retreat scheduled.” Why? Will the outcome be any different than last year? Have you been talking about the same thing for 5 or 6 years? Will the same people be attending or will you involve some of your youngest people this year? Do your managers have a chance to provide input to the agenda? What do they think is the most pressing issue for the firm at this point in time?
“We need a firm administrator.” Why? Will you invest in their education? Will you involve them in every partner meeting and strategic planning session? Will you allow them to be a participant rather than just taking notes? Will partners commit to giving up their favorite administrative duties to focus on partner-level activities (like bringing in business, enhancing client relationships and mentoring younger accountants)? Will you document the firm administrator duties and the duties of the managing partner so that they do not duplicate efforts?
“We need a marketing director.” Why? Are you going to actually begin writing a blog for your website? Will you form a team to make the writing chore easier? Will the writers commit to actually writing on a consistent basis? Will you involve the marketing director in partner meetings and retreats? Will the partners agree to establish a pipeline system and keep it active? As a partner, will you keep your word and show up for charitable events and business functions or will you say you will attend and then cancel out at the last minute leaving the marketing director with an empty seat to fill?
“We need to hire some additional staff.” Why? Is it because you have had turnover? Have you developed an action plan for retaining your top performers? Do you recognize your all-stars or shy away from it because you do not want to show favoritism? Young accountants want feedback; are you giving it on a daily basis? Everyone wants feedback on their job performance; are you providing open, honest communication continually?
It is time for some new thinking inside accounting firms. As one of my clients said to me, “It’s time to stir the pot.” How can you “stir the pot” at your firm in 2012? It’s summer…. plenty of time left THIS YEAR to ask lots of questions and try something new.
This fall as you (I’m talking to the managing partner here) attend your firm association meeting, where you gather with other managing partners from other accounting firms, is it time to ask, “Why?” Why am I attending? Am I just going to copy what others are doing? Has the best practice actually been successful for others or are they just bragging? If some new idea or best practice has actually worked well for another firm am I willing to actually implement it at my firm? Do I contribute new ideas or do I just listen? Has this group of managing partners been together so long that they are stuck in the past? As my friend Dustin Hostetler asks: Are they trying to make yesterday’s solutions work in a tomorrow world?
I saw a Cigna ad in Time magazine that triggered most of these questions. One question was featured in the ad and I would like for you to ask yourself:
When’s the last time you did something for the first time?
Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore"
L. Frank Baum