Monday, August 15th, 2022

It takes time

“Some quit due to slow progress, never grasping the fact that slow progress is progress.” – Jeff Olson

Seth Godin makes a good point in a recent post. The point: Some things take time. Here’s an excerpt:

Both The Shawshank Redemption and The Big Lebowski bombed. If “bombed” means that during the first few weeks, no one went to a theater to see them. Since then, tens of millions of people have seen and talked about these movies.

But the events that change our culture often happen over time, distributed across parts of the population too small to notice.

Godin notes, “Drip by drip makes a wave.”

If you need to make some significant changes inside your CPA and you are getting a lot of push-back from some of the partners, you need to take baby steps. Sudden and abrupt change is not something CPAs embrace wholeheartedly.

Another similar phrase I use when making changes inside CPA firms is “constant gentle pressure.” Taking baby steps and applying constant gentle pressure will move the firm forward. Plus, once some forward motion is obtained, change seems to flow more freely and rapidly.

  • "Focus on progress not perfection."
  • Bill Phillips

Friday, August 12th, 2022

Are You The Leader?

“Never assume that people in positions of responsibility are behaving responsibly.” – David McCullough

This Friday, rather than doing a Flashback post. I want to give you something different. I hope you will follow the link (below) and sit quietly for 16 minutes to learn about leadership.

This is directed to firm managing partners or hope-to-be managing partners. It is also vital information for department heads or any other leadership figures inside your accounting firm.

I was saddened this week to hear about the death of David McCullough. I have read many of his books and hope to read more. One of my recent favorites is The Pioneers.

This weekend, find a quiet spot, watch and learn about what made George Washington a great leader.

David McCullough Interview: The Importance of George Washington

I hope you can find some of Washington’s traits within yourself. Have a great weekend.

  • "Be courteous to all, but intimate with a few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence."
  • George Washington

Thursday, August 11th, 2022

Talking Points

“One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.” – Maya Angelou

  • The partners have just returned from their retreat. Everyone is wondering what significant decisions were made if any. What new initiatives were agreed upon? Has the strategic plan been updated?
  • A new performance evaluation system has been researched, studied, modified, and will soon be unveiled to the staff.
  • Betty, a long-time manager with the firm, has decided to take a position with a competing firm across town.
  • Some new software has been selected. Everyone in the firm will need to know about it and will be expected to use it. What training will be offered? When will it go into effect?

When something happens or changes are made at the firm and the partners and other leaders have been involved in the decision or activity, and it has now been announced to the team, there will be questions. Certain people will go to certain partners and want to know all about it and what is “really” going on.

That is the time to have your talking points ready and distributed to all partners (and other leaders if they are involved). You want everyone to get the same message.

Often, in firms, Joe Tax Partner, Diane Audit Partner, Frank Long Time Partner, and Terry the Managing Partner will have different ways of communicating with team members individually when they are asked probing questions. A brief list of talking points will take a lot of pressure off the partners and help spread the message in a positive, consistent, and informative way.

  • "Consistency is always the best teacher."
  • Stephon Marbury

Wednesday, August 10th, 2022

Setting The Example

“Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.” – Albert Schweitzer

Congratulations to all of you who have become a partner in your firm this year. I know it has been a long and winding road! But, becoming (or being) a partner carries a huge responsibility. To me, the most important one is setting a good example.

During my many years working with CPA firms of all sizes, there is always someone inside most firms who seems to get a “pass” or “get out of jail free” card. They don’t follow the rules. They prefer to ignore the guidelines, and they often claim ignorance…. “I didn’t know that’s how we do it!” But, the disturbing part is that others within the firm let them get by with it and the culprit is usually a partner.

In your firm, are the leaders setting the example? I love the quote by Albert Schweitzer: “Example is leadership.”

  • "Few things are harder to put up with than a good example."
  • Mark Twain

Tuesday, August 9th, 2022

You Can Run But You Can’t Hide

“It’s about you. If you win, it’s you, if you lose, it’s you. Black and white. Nowhere to hide. – Greg Rusedski

From the internet:

There is an old saying, “you can run but you can’t hide.” This means you can try to escape what you fear most but ultimately, you must face it. This saying originated in the United States in the 1940s and is attributed to boxing great Joe Louis describing his impending fight with light heavyweight champion Billy Conn.

One important thing that you have been running from is change. I know you changed a lot during COVID, however, many CPAs just “made do” with things temporarily and have settled back into many of their “old ways.”

When I currently ask partners if they are truly paperless, they “run” from that question. I hear all kinds of excuses. The world is changing. Now is the time to quit running from things you fear.

  • "O' What may man within him hide, though angel on the outward side!"
  • William Shakespeare

Monday, August 8th, 2022

Be Aware of Your Lingo

“The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” – Ronald Reagan

What is lingo? It is a way of speaking that’s shared by a particular group of people — it’s their own personal slang or jargon. CPAs and those who work for/with them have their own lingo. Think about it.

It is a number type of lingo: 1040, 1040ES, 1065, 1120, 1120s, 941 1099, W-2, W-4, and many more. There is also lingo involving letters: FASB, EBP, GAAP, and so on.

Just remember, your clients do not understand this lingo. Your new hires do not understand this lingo (at first). So, be careful and explain yourself thoroughly when communicating.

I know some tech guys who always observed International Talk Like a Pirate Day (This year, Monday, September 19, 2022) by trying to speak only pirate lingo.

Maybe you can have your own Talk Like An Accountant Day.

  • "Of all of our inventions for mass communication, pictures still speak the most universally understood language."
  • Walt Disney

Friday, August 5th, 2022

Simplify vs. Complicate

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” – Confucius

Here’s a Friday flashback post from 2013 that still applies today. Thoreau said: Simplify! Simplify!

CPAs tend to: Complicate! Complicate!

Have a great weekend!

  • "This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness."
  • Dalai Lama

Thursday, August 4th, 2022

Back to the Office

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

Here are some random thoughts/comments for today.

A headline I read this week from The New York Times:

What Remote Work Debate? They’ve Been Back at the Office for a While. Cubicles are largely empty in downtown San Francisco and Midtown Manhattan, but workers in America’s midsize and small cities are back to their commutes.

Some CPA firms are still debating how remote they want to be. And, many small firms kept coming to the office throughout the pandemic.

Of course, progressive firms are using outsourcing so that is a form of being remote.

  • "It is far better to be alone than to be in bad company."
  • George Washington

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2022

Parameters

“I write the music; produce it, and the band plays within the parameters that I set.” – Sting

CPA firms have become VERY flexible and allow employees to do just about anything they want to do regarding how and where they work.

What your team members really need is simply some guidance and boundaries. Communicate to them! Help everyone understand expectations by setting some parameters.

If you do not communicate and leave them to their own devices, life at your firm could become chaotic. One mentor told me long ago: “Most people don’t do what we tell them to. They do what we let them get away with.”

I like to call it setting some boundaries. Of course, with today’s workforce, we must allow a great deal of freedom. But I also think we need to let them know there is a line they do not cross.

It goes back to the fact that young people entering your firm want to know what is expected of them. They want to know what their career path looks like and how they can advance as quickly as possible. Be sure you have defined career paths so you can talk to new hires during their orientation.

Many firms have been adopting remote work policies. These policies set some parameters for working remotely. I hope you have yours in writing by now.

  • "I don't control the movies that are offered to me, but I make choices based on certain parameters."
  • Andy Garcia

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2022

Opportunity & Potential

“Nothing is more common than unfulfilled potential.” – Howard Hendricks

The quote above made me think of some of the CPAs I have talked to over the years. During my presentations and advisory sessions, I have always urged CPAs to not turn a blind eye to the great opportunities awaiting them.

I challenge CPAs to be the best they can be. I try to help them reach/realize their full potential. Often, they cannot see it. They fear failure and don’t want to risk embarrassment.

If you are reading this blog post, don’t let your CPA firm be the one that always holds back. Don’t wait until many other CPA firms move forward, and then you move ahead cautiously!

You don’t have to be on the “bleeding edge.” But try to be on the leading edge. Open your eyes to opportunity and embrace it.

Winston Churchill once said: ”A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. Be that optimist.

  • "If a window of opportunity appears, don't pull down the shade."
  • Tom Peters