Tuesday, March 21st, 2023

Three Things

“Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.” – Benjamin Franklin

MIT professor Patrick Winston said three things will help you be successful in life:

  • The ability to speak.
  • The ability to write.
  • The quality of your ideas.

 I have observed that CPAs often struggle with these three things:

  1. The ability to speak

I have seen equity owners in a CPA firm remain silent in important meetings and during importation discussions. Sure, many accountants are introverts, and that is okay. But, CPAs are in a service business, and the most successful ones have learned to speak up not only when involved with firm owners but also with clients. They also need to speak in civic and charitable situations.

One remedy to this fear of speaking is to have every team member give a presentation at a staff meeting about a continuing education session they have attended or on the topic of an important podcast they listened to. By the time they achieve the manager level, they should be fairly accomplished speakers.

2. The ability to write

Inside most CPA firms, there are marketing directors/managers who have to beg and plead with a CPA to write a brief, informative article for the firm’s newsletter. Your tax partner(s) should often appear in your local business newspaper.

One remedy is to have each partner, manager, or staff write a post for the firm’s blog site. Blogs are meant to be brief, and it is a good place to practice your writing skills and inform your clients of important issues. Also, have them write a post for the firm’s LinkedIn site.

3. The quality of your ideas

Over and over again, CPA partners ask, “What are other firms doing?” They hesitate to try new tools, processes, HR practices, and marketing endeavors mostly because they have a fear of failing. They want to know that other firms have taken the risk and won. Some firms excel at this, and all the others just “follow the leader.”

One remedy is to facilitate brainstorming sessions over a lunch and learn that involves your entire team. I like to challenge CPA teams with the question, “What would we have to do to actually make our clients say, “Wow!”? Hold these sessions quarterly with a different question. Most importantly, take action on the ideas.

Here’s an article about Professor Winston via Inc. that will give you lots of good information on these three things.

  • "Be sincere, be brief, be seated."
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt

Monday, March 20th, 2023

CPA Firm Administrator/Practice Manager

Too much work and too much energy kill a man just as effectively as too much-assorted vice or too much drink.” – Rudyard Kipling

This blog post is for my dear friends who are (or have been) CPA firm administrators. It comes from Dan Rockwell @Leadershipfreak. Keep this in mind as you make your way through tax season!

Avoid overcommitments.

Repeat after me…

I don’t have to do everything.

The world will keep spinning when I’m gone.

I won’t do other people’s jobs.

  • "Stress is the trash of modern life. We all generate it, but if you don't dispose of it properly, it will pile up and overtake your life."
  • Danzae Pace

Friday, March 17th, 2023

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

“My hope still is to leave the world a bit better than when I got here.” – Jim Henson

It’s not easy being green. Sometimes CPAs might feel like they are green.

Here’s this Friday’s Flashback for St. Patrick’s Day. Learn about Green from Kermit.

  • "Whether I drink often or just once in a while; I'm always sure to raise a glass to the dear old Emerald Isle."
  • Pat Maloney

Thursday, March 16th, 2023


“Leadership is a way of thinking, a way of acting and, most importantly, a way of communicating.” – Simon Sinek

I received a message from Grammarly about an upcoming webinar about miscommunication. Grammarly is a very helpful tool for me. I hope you are using it at your firm.

Per Grammarly:

Workplace miscommunication affects a staggering amount of professionals. Our 2023 State of Business Communication report with The Harris Poll shows that 66% of business leaders and 53% of knowledge workers experience it at least once a day.

Those experiences create a whirlwind of negative impacts: 84% of business leaders cite lower productivity, missed deadlines, and increased costs.

However, effective communication can be just as powerful for decreasing stress, improving productivity, increasing customer satisfaction, and more. 

I have blogged many times about the importance of communication within CPA firms and have given many presentations on the topic. Click here to see all of the blog posts – read some of them and don’t let poor communication hinder the success of your firm.

  • "How to write a good email: 1. Write your email. 2. Delete most of it. 3. Send"
  • Dan Munz

Wednesday, March 15th, 2023

What Consultants Talk About

“Good management is the art of making problems so interesting and their solutions so constructive that everyone wants to get to work and deal with them.” – Paul Hawken

The CPA Consultants’ Alliance is a group of consultants who focus strictly on the CPA profession. They meet each year to talk about the hot topics (and challenges) they see facing the many accounting firms they work with.

Roman Kepczyk of Right Networks wrote a recent blog post about three takeaways from the Alliance meeting that happened in February.

The three topics:

  • DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) initiatives
  • PE (private equity) impacting accounting practices
  • Firms adopting unlimited PTO (Paid time off)

Read about the discussions on each of these topics here.

  • "Only three things happen naturally in organizations: friction, confusion, and underperformance. Everything else requires leadership."
  • Peter Drucker

Tuesday, March 14th, 2023

Go With Your Own Inner Voice

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” – Steve Jobs

The following is a segment of a graduation speech given by Steve Jobs. I think it has a message for CPA firm leaders:

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.

And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

  • "Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected."
  • Steve Jobs

Monday, March 13th, 2023

Decide Who Will Decide

“It is not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.” – Roy Disney

When your firm was first founded, probably one, two, or three partners (owners) made all the decisions. Somehow, as the ranks of partners grew, all partners thought that they should be part of every decision.

Think of all the revenue-producing time that was wasted. That’s one reason why the role of firm administrator was created, and the joke that resulted was, “How many partners does it take to decide which printer to buy?”   

The intent of the role of the firm administrator was that administrative and operational aspects of the CPA firm would be better handled by someone solely focused on firm administration and operations. Still, many partners thought that they should be allowed to have an opinion and weigh in on the decision to buy anything that cost more than $100!  

That decision-making format where every partner had a say lasted until the firm had about ten partners. Then an Executive Committee was formed consisting of 3 or 5 partners who still thought they should be involved in daily operations.  

Progressive firms decided that the Managing Partner should actually manage the firm with a chief-of-staff type person – the firm administrator, practice manager, or COO. Of course, owners are kept informed, but their job is to take care of client relationships, attract and mentor younger staff and bring in business.  

In my consulting work, I observe so many firms where group decision-making still thrives. In reality, what really happens is that the group cannot decide, so important decisions are delayed year after year. Not making a decision becomes a decision.  

Is it time for your firm to actually operate like a business? Is it time for your owners to “decide who will decide”?  

  • "Decision is a sharp knife that cuts clean and straight; indecision, a dull one that hacks and tears and leaves ragged edges behind it."
  • Gordon Graham

Friday, March 10th, 2023

Flashback Friday – Leadership Flaws

“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.” – Peter Drucker

This Friday, take a moment to consider the Ten Fatal Flaws of Leaders. Numbers 1 and 2 seem to speak to the CPA profession.

  • "The speed of communications is wondrous to behold. It is also true that speed can multiply the distribution of information that we know to be untrue."
  • Edward R. Murrow

Thursday, March 9th, 2023

Don’t Get Caught Unprepared

“One of the major keys to success is to keep moving forward on the journey, making the best of the detours and interruptions, turning adversity into advantage.” – John Maxwell

You are often put on the spot. You are the managing partner or the firm administrator (practice manager), and someone stops you in the hallway as you return to your office with a cup of coffee.

They say it is just a quick question. You know better.

Just know that you don’t have to answer every question immediately. Maybe you feel uncomfortable giving them a quick answer. No matter what the topic, just tell them that you’ll have to get back to them.

It is annoying getting put on the spot with random questions. Maybe you really don’t know the answer. It is okay to tell them that you don’t know and will get back to them. It gives you time to think about what they have asked.

Sometimes a quick answer will come back to haunt you.

Once, I heard a great presenter, at a conference, give this advice – If you don’t want to be bothered or interrupted while walking around the office, carry a clipboard and walk fast.

  • "Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake."
  • Napoleon Bonaparte

Wednesday, March 8th, 2023


It’s like what we’re doing at this precise moment doesn’t even exist. Everyone is focused on the next thing. Everyone is racing to the next thing.” – Maria Shriver

Sometimes I struggle with our TV remote, especially when I am dealing with various streaming services, the DVD player, and live TV. Which buttons do I push? However, one button I know for sure is the Pause button.

I need a break, I need to think, the phone rings, someone’s at the door – I hit Pause.

If you are working inside a CPA firm, you are in one of the most challenging times of the year. It’s rush, rush, rush. When will that job be done? How much billable time did you have last week? Call so-and-so and have them hurry up and get their information to us.

Years ago, Maria Shriver gave a commencement speech to her daughter’s graduating class titled – The Power Of The Pause – The importance of stopping and evaluating where you are in life. How often have you done that?

Shriver noted, “So remember to pause and reflect before you sign on with someone or some organization whose work you don’t admire and respect. Who you work for is as important as what you do.”

As a CPA firm leader, are you admired by your people? Are you pausing to explain the importance of the work you do? Are you sharing the success stories of your business clients and how an accountant’s role is to serve others and help them become successful? Are you encouraging your valuable people to pause once in a while to reflect on their work, their life, and their families?

You and everyone else at your firm have hectic, busy lives. People get tired, worn down, and lose sight of the positives. For yourself, remember to pause and reflect often. Am I truly happy with my work? Do I trust and admire my partners? Do I value my employees? Am I always honest with my team members? Am I always honest with my family? Am I happy?

  • "He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed."
  • Albert Einstein