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, April 10th, 2017

Quit Worrying About Millennials – Focus On Generation C

“There was no respect for youth when I was young, and now that I am old, there is no respect for age — I missed it coming and going.”  ~J.B. Priestly

I have been studying, speaking about and writing about Millennials and other generations in the workplace for years. I think it is time to move on and I have come to realize that putting people in generational boxes is a waste of time.

holmesI recommend that you read this article by Ryan Holmes on the Inc. site titled: Move Over, Millennials: 5 Things You Need to Know About Generation C.

Holmes (he’s the founder and CEO of Hootsuite) notes that you don’t have to be a Millennial to live on your iPhone or embrace social media. The group that HR professionals should focus on is Generation C – the “Connected Consumer” – it is everyone who integrates technology into their daily routine, regardless of age. This group share certain qualities.

Here are the topics included in the article:

  1. What is Generation C?  (Gen C stands for Connectivity.)
  2. What age groups make up Gen C? (It isn’t an age group at all.)
  3. How does Gen C interact with the world? (They live on digital media.)
  4. What’s the key to reaching Gen C? (Where they live – traditional media don’t cut it.)
  5. How big is Gen C? (The numbers are vast.)

I like the closing…..

Let’s give it a rest. For marketing, for hiring, for connecting: Age is increasingly arbitrary.

  • The Millennial era is ending (and not a moment too soon).
  • Long live Generation C.
  • "Each contact with a human being is so rare, so precious, one should preserve it."
  • Anais Nin

Saturday, April 8th, 2017

Lighten-up, It’s The Weekend – What You May Have Missed This Week

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” – Socrates

I know you are busy and maybe didn’t have time to read some of my blog post this last week. I hope you save the link to this post and review it when you have more time later this month. There were two post this week you should definitely read.

Perhaps you missed:

Monday – I was attending the New Horizon Group meeting and did not post this Monday (I apologize, I rarely miss).

Tuesday – A VERY important post – I urge you to learn more about blockchain and how it will affect the future of your firm.

Wednesday – You should have already learned this…. advice on NOT writing LONG emails.

Thursday – Another IMPORTANT topic – Can what you are doing be done by artificial intelligence?

Friday – Are you too distracted to see what is happening around you? Pay attention!

Many of you are working today (Saturday) but I hope most of you are not working tomorrow!

  • "Life seems but a quick succession of busy nothings."
  • Jane Austen

Friday, April 7th, 2017

Pay Attention!

“It’s not what you look at that matters; it’s what you see.” – Henry David Thoreau

Often, blamed on being too busy, you don’t often actually see things, people, opportunities, and even dangers.

Are you too distracted to see the things happening around you? Do you really see your family? Do you really see and understand the challenges of your newest team members?

I urge you, as a firm leader, to be alert to a top performer who is slowly becoming NOT a top performer, a loyal manager who seems more distant, a partner who seems to be jogging in place or a family member who is often too silent.

Make it a practice to not just look at people, opportunities and yourself but to keep your eyes and senses open to what might be going on at a deeper level.

  • "Whether you call it Buddhism or another religion, self-discipline, that's important. Self-discipline with awareness of consequences."
  • Dalai Lama

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

IMPORTANT TOPIC: Can What You Are Doing Be Done By Artificial Intelligence?

“Some people worry that artificial intelligence will make us feel inferior, but the, anybody in his right mind should have an inferiority complex every time he looks at a flower.” – Alan Kay

PLEASE, please read this great blog post by Seth Godin. Here’s the closing paragraph:

The question each of us has to ask is simple (but difficult): What can I become quite good at that’s really difficult for a computer to do one day soon? How can I become so resilient, so human and such a linchpin that shifts in technology won’t be able to catch up?

It was always important, but now it’s urgent.

So much of what accountants do can and will eventually be done by AI. Think about how it has already happened inside your firm. A simple exmple, we used to turn in an expense report – now an app does that for us – and so on.

In the world of blockchain, things will happen without your involvement. How will that play into the future of your firm? You must keep current and keep ahead of the curve. The things that happen might change how you do things but it doesn’t have to make you obsolete – there will be new and different opportunities for progressive firms.

  • "It's going to be interesting to see how society deals with artificial intelligence, but it will definitely be cool."
  • Colin Angle

Wednesday, April 5th, 2017

You Should Have Already Learned This…

“Write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow.” – Lawrence Clark Powell

What should you have learned? Not to write L O N G emails.

This applies to partners, the accounting team, the admin team, the marketing team, the HR team, the tech team – yes, everyone working at an accounting firm.

I would always cringe when I received a very important email from our tech team, written by the IT manager and it was SO long. I knew people would not read it completely.

Often, you want to communicate something to everyone – maybe it is an important tax development or a major change to a long standing process.

Call a stand-up meeting if you have to but don’t expect that people will read an email. Many people don’t even read short emails, depending on who it comes from!

Learn more about this from our good friend Dilbert – here.

  • "Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless."
  • Mother Theresa

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

Blockchain

“The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress.” – Joseph Joubert

Rarely do I miss a day posting on this blog. However, yesterday was one of those days and I apologize – BUT I had a great reason. I was attending (virtually) the annual New Horizon Group of consultants to the CPA profession meeting. The meeting was held at the AICPA offices in NYC, hosted by Mark Koziel. The co-chairs of this years meeting were Carl George and Jennifer Wilson.

Other members (who I am so honored to be affiliated with) are: Roman Kepczyk, Allan Koltin, Gale Crosley, Angie Grissom, Jim Bourke, Chris Frederiksen, Rob Nixon, Darren Root and Marc Rosenberg.

An important discussion topic was Blockchain and how it will affect the future of auditing. Honestly, it sounds like it will affect the future of many things.

My point today is for you, as a CPA practitioner or non-CPA in a firm leadership position, to take the time to learn about blockchain. I must admit, I didn’t have a clear understanding of it until yesterday.

Below, I am furnishing you a link to a great article (via Accounting Today) that will help you learn more about blockchain. It is critical for you to educate yourself and your team – it is a huge change and it is coming about quickly – you can’t wait and think it is something to worry about 10 years from now.

Blockchain is defined as an open, distributed ledger, blockchain technology records and verifies transactions without any trusted central authority.  Read more…..

  • "Frequently the more trifling the subject, the more animated and protracted the discussion."
  • Franklin Pierce

Friday, March 31st, 2017

A Simple Message for CPA Firm Leaders

“It is not fair to ask of others what you are unwilling to do yourself.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Here is Seth Godin’s blog post from yesterday:

All we have to do is be the person we say we are

No need to shop for a better you, or to work overtime to make bigger promises.

Keeping the promises we’ve already made is sufficient.

It is a clear, simple, meaningful message. It applies to all levels of people inside an accounting firm.

I think it is especially meaningful for CPA firm partners.  There are many partners who make promises to the team fully intending to keep those promises. Then life unfolds, things get busy, fulfilling the promise becomes more difficult than expected and it is soon put on the back burner.

Sometimes it is something very simple… “I’ll take you along the next time I have a meeting with Big Jones Client.” Then it doesn’t happen.

Sometimes it is something very important… “We are going to revamp our performance feedback process to make it more timely and more meaningful.” Then is doesn’t happen.

When I ask a room full of CPA firm team members, “Who is it at your firm that does not follow the processes and procedures?” The answer is always the same, “The partners!”

I really like one item from a sample Partner Commitment Statement furnished by Sam Allred of Upstream Academy:

“I will do what I say I will do, on time, without reminders.”

  • "Don't worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you."
  • Robert Fulghum

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

It Is A Stressful Time – Stay Positive

“Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.” – Lyndon B. Johnson

When I Work recently did a post that just might help you make it through until April 18th.  – 18 Simple Way to Keep a Positive Attitude.

Of course, I want to put the public accounting spin on some of them for you. You can be cheerful and still not have a positive attitude. It goes much deeper than simply being cheerful. A negative attitude can even promote fear throughout the firm.

A few suggestions:

  1. Stay away from negative people. There is always a few of those whiners inside of every firm.
  2. Fill you mind with positive thoughts. Listen to upbeat music, listen to motivational podcasts, or read books that make you laugh.
  3. Use positive self talk – don’t beat up on yourself if you make a mistake. Don’t think – “I am an idiot.” Think – “I can really achieve a lot of improvement in that area.”
  4. Stop complaining, verbally to others and even in your own thoughts.
  5. Find reasons to laugh. There is always something going on inside a firm during tax season that can cause a good laugh.

During this last week of March – look for ways to remain positive and even to have some fun.

 

  • "In order to carry a positive action we must develop here a positive vision."
  • Dalai Lama

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

Cubicle Courtesy Guidelines

“The average American worker has fifty interruptions a day, of which seventy percent have nothing to do with work.” – W. Edwards Deming

A long time ago, I did a blog post about tips for living in a cubicle. Many accountants who have their own office (like partners and managers) sometimes forget how cubicle life can sometimes be very frustrating.

Keep in mind, that some millennials like the open floor plan concept, but most people aspire to have a private office. I like to see cubicles arranged in quads so that four people can have their backs to each other yet are able to swing around to a centralized round table to confer with colleagues.

Working in a cube when you are a beginner is often very helpful in that you can overhear what others are learning and benefit from the conversations in the adjoining cubicle.

A big frustration, however, is the lack of privacy and the fact that associates and coworkers stop by whenever they want resulting in many interruptions.

To remedy that, how about establishing some Cubicle Courtesies to protect those working in cubes and those visiting them.

The following is a modified re-post of the cubicle post I did in 2008 – maybe it will help you design your own office cubicle and shared space protocol.

    • Keep your voice down. Be aware of how it projects, especially when laughing.
    • Don’t enter someone’s cubicle or stop to chat unless invited to do so.
    • Never take something from someone’s cubicle or desk without asking first.
    • Be respectful of those people passing your desk. Don’t assume they have time to chat.
    • If you don’t want to be interrupted, don’t make eye contact with those passing your desk.
    • Respect other’s work time and flow of concentration. If they look deep in thought, they probably are.
    • If the person is on the phone, do not interrupt.
    • Confidential information should not be discussed in an open setting. Move to one of the meeting rooms.
    • Avoid using speaker phones.
    • Do not read what is on someone elses desk or computer screen.
    • Reduce clutter in your desk area or cubicle.
    • Don’t leave food and trash at your desk.
    • Keep eating and snacking at your desk to a minimum. And avoid foods that smell up the office. (Some firms have a “no eating meals at your desk” policy.)
    • Return items to their proper place after using them.
    • Replace immediately anything you use up (paper, staples, etc.).
  • "Other people's interruptions of your work are relatively insignificant compared with the countless times you interrupt yourself."
  • Brendan Francis