Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
Friday, November 27th, 2015
I hope that you are not in the office today, it’s the Friday after Thanksgiving a paid holiday for almost all citizens of an accounting firm. I know, some of you sneak in to the office to avoid the Black Friday hassles but I hope many of you are taking a walk in a park or woods, reading a great book or writing an article of your own.
It’s a perfect 4-day weekend to think about some secrets to happiness as you build your career in public accounting or elsewhere.
Live and let live – – Don’t micro manage. Don’t gossip and worry about what other employees are doing.
Be giving of yourself to others – – but some structure around your mentoring activities. Mentoring happens naturally inside CPA firms – enhance it and help others.
Sundays should be holidays – – When I began my career in a CPA firm, no one EVER worked on a Sunday. It had nothing to do about religion, specifically, it was just that our founder believed that everyone needed a day of rest, a time to recharge. The more hours you work in a week the bigger chance you will make errors or poor decisions.
Stop being negative – – I see this all the time. I continually say to people working in CPA firms – STOP WHINING! Public accounting is an honorable, prestigious career, you work with intelligent people, you work in beautiful offices, you make friends with other top-quality professionals, you get to see businesses grow and prosper (with your help), you become admired by others in the business community for your expertise – – focus on the positive!
Focus on the positives during this holiday season and carry it through until Spring!
Be different if you want to make a difference.
Tuesday, September 15th, 2015
I was reading an article on Fast Company about how Uber approached their markets differently. What would work in NYC wouldn’t necessarily appeal to someone in Seattle or Washington, DC.
When you are branding your firm, serving your clients and hiring talented people, are you trying to do it like “a firm you know” in a completely different part of the country? Perhaps, it is even a very different size firm?
It’s not that any one firm is right and another wrong. You must know your market.
I get so many questions about starting salaries. It depends on where you are located.
What about what your clients like, why they come to you? A lot of it could depend on your geographical location.
Figure out what works for you and then do it.
Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking.
Saturday, July 4th, 2015
Yesterday, on my local TV station during the noon-time news/talk show, the two hosts took part in a trivia game about Independence Day conducted by a local trivia expert. It was a LIVE show, they failed miserably, not even knowing the city where the Declaration of Independence was signed. So, because I have been amazed by the stories of so many Americans not knowing why we actually celebrate the 4th of July, here’s the scoop via Wikipedia:
Independence Day of the United States, also referred to as Fourth of July or July Fourth in the U.S., is a federal holiday commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, by the Continental Congress declaring that the thirteen American colonies regarded themselves as a new nation, the United States of America, and no longer part of the British Empire.
May the sun in his course visit no land more free, more happy, more lovely, than this our own country.
Tuesday, June 30th, 2015
Never feel guilty about “moving on” when you feel like a mentoring relationship has run its course. Seems like in this day and age, nothing is forever.
Long-term mentoring relationships that continually enrich both parties are rare and should be treasured. They are gold.
However, always be open to exploring new experiences. I usually recommend to my clients that they should collect mentors like sea shells. Let me explain. I am definitely a people watcher and I enjoy watching people stroll along the beach (usually on Hilton Head Island). Most of the shells that end up on shore are broken so when a person finds a whole one they can’t resist picking it up, even though they already have several “whole” ones.
Same thing applies to finding mentors. When you meet someone who like an undamaged sea shell – is whole.. has it altogether – latch onto them. In my early years in the CPA world, I called these people my heroes. I would meet someone at a conference or business meeting and realize they really knew what they were doing. I introduced myself and eventually became very close friends with many. Many experienced, competent, professionals helped me along my career path.
Eventually, some mentoring situations seem to simply wear out. That’s okay – don’t draw it out, be honest, disengage with gratitude and be direct. Both of you will be happier. Always keep the door open for the future.
Steve Jobs said, “My job is not to be easy on people. My job is to take these great people we have and to push them and make them even better.” While I agree with that sentiment, my way is not quite so pushy – – I apply constant, gentle pressure and eventually they lean in the right direction. Constant is the key word.
The mind is not a vessel that needs filling, but wood that needs igniting.
Saturday, May 16th, 2015
It’s the weekend – time for something off-topic, humorous or even weird.
Finally, a movie about an accountant. Most of them I know are truly NOT boring.
Maybe you haven’t heard about it but Ben Affleck will be starring (filming is under way) as a CPA, a mild-mannered accountant who moonlights as a lethal assassin.
I know some of you out there think the partners are killing your life (with too much work), but this movie may change the stereo type image of a CPA, at least temporarily!
Notice the picture I took of a picture in People magazine – how’s he’s dressed, eating a home-packed lunch, thermos of coffee, wearing glasses and, of course, on the phone. Sound like anyone you know?
Lighten-up and have some fun this weekend!
I was never a Certified Public Accountant. I just had a degree in accounting. It would require passing a test, which I would not have been able to do.
Wednesday, March 11th, 2015
I love to walk along the beach at Hilton Head and not only observe the birds, ocean, sky and ships but also observe the people.
As I walked yesterday, my thoughts turned to mentoring and how having multiple mentors is a valuable thing. Many firms are realizing the benefit of formal mentoring programs and are working hard to build strong mentoring cultures.
A question I am almost always asked during my mentoring training sessions is, “Can you have more than one mentor?” I like to compare it to people collecting sea shells as they walk along the beach.
Consider people walking along the beach in the early morning, like me this week, collecting sea shells.
They continually scan the shore for “perfect ones.” As most of the shells here are in pieces, the whole, undamaged ones are rare and precious. Even if people have many perfect shells, they will pick up the undamaged ones. They just can’t resist.
Mentors are like that. As you walk the beach of your professional life, you come across people who have it all together. They are rare and precious. They are undamaged. Search for these people in your life and ask the for help. I have been so fortunate in having had many in my life and certainly more than one at a time.
Some of your best advice and counsel come from these people. I have had bosses as mentors, teachers as mentors, friends as mentors, business acquaintances as mentors and paid mentors/coaches… who became friends… collect them all!
When you are considering a mentor, think of seashells – – when you meet a person who “has it all together” – latch on to them!
If you are a mentor in your CPA firm, please keep in mind that younger accountants are searching for role models, leaders, people who will give them honest feedback and career guidance. Keep your own professional life “together” so you can be an inspiration for the next generation of accounting firm leaders.
I am not a teacher, but an awakener.
Wednesday, November 26th, 2014
Yes, clients can be trained. I know that you are thinking that the client is king/queen and whatever they want you need to provide, referring to it as QCS (quality client service).
Yet, firms that learn to manage and train their clients are not only able to attract more clients, they are able to create a culture where talented people will stay and build their careers.
Of course, talented people staying at your firm is the answer to the succession problem that continually gets so much attention.
Clients that drive your staff crazy (you all have them) should go. Immediately, partners say to me, “They pay us $100,000 per year!” It seems that many CPAs don’t really think that assisting difficult clients is an issue of client service, they look at it more honestly as I just mentioned…”they pay us a lot of money!”
I’ve known and talked extensively with many CPA partners over the years and here’s my assessment of what they are truly THINKING but not saying out loud to their partners: “Yes, we need to out-place a few very difficult and challenging clients… but those are NOT MY clients.”
Here’s what to do. Meet with your partners and identify the clients that give you headaches and heartburn; the ones that continually frustrate your team members. (I have a form I share for identifying that type of client.)
You have probably already done that… several times. But, that where it stalls – partner do not take action. This time take the next step. Set-up a meeting with those clients and have an honest conversation with them about what you and your firm expects from them in the future.
Try using a commitment statement – – identify the things you (your firm) will do and also define the things you expect from them, the client. (I also have a sample of this that you can use.)
After you have the face-to-face conversation with the client and discuss your expectations, if they are not willing to comply – let them go. Better yet, help them go.
Why not simply say, “We have valued you as a client but we don’t seem to be a good match any longer. Let me help you find a CPA firm that would be a good match for you.”
Next, set-up an on-boarding system for clients that clearly defines your expectations and give them a timeline for submitting their information. Preventive medicine is the best.
Okay, you have out-placed a few difficult clients. Now, maybe your team members can work less extended hours this coming busy season.
Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.
James Cash Penney
Monday, November 3rd, 2014
As you know, I rarely miss a day doing a blog post. Last week I prepared the blog posts and scheduled them ahead of time, before I left for a nature-focused vacation in beautiful Australia. There hasn’t been much internet access. So, for the next two weeks, I’ll just post when I have the connectivity and the time.
We spent a couple of days near Mossman in the rain forest and here is a picture of Darrell and I on our way to the Great Barrier Reef on Saturday. It was quite a day!
To cherish what remains of the Earth and to foster its renewal is our only legitimate hope of survival.
Monday, October 27th, 2014
Just a heads-up to my many loyal readers. I might miss a few posts over the next few weeks. Since 2006, I have been posting every work-day about CPA firm management. I have rarely missed a day, even when I am on vacation.
Keep reading everyday – I’ll be able to post most days while I am gone.
But, if you want to follow my adventure and see some pictures head on over to my Keller Advisors Facebook page – add your “like” while you are there.
Carry the sun inside you and reach out for the dreams that guide you. You have everything you need to take your where you want to go then.
Wednesday, August 13th, 2014
Why not do away with formal performance reviews inside your busy, growing accounting firm? Go ahead….. contemplate it, research how to do it, talk it over inside your firm with lots of people and then give it a try.
I’ve been an advocate of simplifying performance feedback for quite some time. It has been my observation that firms often make their process way too complicated and labor intensive. Too many people end up providing feedback on too may people. I have talked to partners who are filling out rating forms (with comments) on ten or more people. That’s a huge time investment. Eventually, the people providing the feedback dread “evaluation time” and the people receiving the feedback dread it, too.
Some of my clients are now trying the Keep Stop Start method and it is working well for them. But wait, many experts are now asking, why not do away with formal performance feedback sessions altogether?
There have been some heated debates about the merits of eliminating performance reviews but one large company has done it – Adobe, with over 11,000 people.
Adobe moved from yearly performance rankings to frequent “check-ins” where managers provide employees targeted coaching and advice. What a concept, managers continually talk to people!
When Adobe was considering the move away from formal feedback, the company posted a blog on the company’s intranet about the topic. Employees devoured the post, making it one of the most-read pieces in the history of Adobe’s intranet. Company-wide discussions ensued about the employees’ dissatisfaction with the review process.
Adobe’s VP of People and Places (Donna Morris) thought it was time for some disruptive change. Since the change, managers have more say in their people’s salaries and merit increases. The company’s aim is to give managers the skills, authority and responsibility so they can act much as if they were running their own business. Take some time and read more about the Adobe story here.
What do your accounting firm team members actually think about your process? Why not ask them and begin a conversation on how to make the process better and the managers better, all while providing dialogue to help the employee advance their career. It might be time for some disruptive change inside your firm.
One key to surviving in a world of disruption, where the external environment is changing at lightning speed, is to change the game internally.