Saturday, February 20th, 2010


One of my goals is to keep focused on ALL generations working in CPA firms. You probably know that one of my areas of focus is helping firms foster cultures of generational understanding – both downward and upward.

I try very hard to focus my messages to experienced leaders AND ALSO TO young, ambitious newcomers to the CPA profession. And, oh yes, I haven’t forgotten about all you Gen-Xers caught in the middle.

I hope my “lighten-up” topic for this week-end speaks to all of you. Many of you have young children. It’s a wonderful time and kids do change you life. Your life is never the same, it automatically becomes richer.

Many of you have grandchildren. I was slightly behind many of my friends in becoming a grandparent and they continually told me how wonderful it was. When the news was delivered – “You’re going to be a grandma!” – – First thought: Pure joy and excitement. Second thought: How can I be old enough to be a “grandma?” Not sure about this….. Of course my good friends were absolutely right – it is the most wonderful experience in your life and although no one can really describe exact how and why, it’s even richer and more rewarding than being a parent (for most people anyway). I think it’s because you are not as stressed and responsible. Maria and Sam are such a joy to us.

Okay, what can you learn from a seven-year-old boy named Sam Keller? How can you improve your personal performance and how can you advise those around you to do the same?

Encourage and demonstrate PERSISTENCE.

Sam has been trying to learn how to whistle. It’s been going on for months and even stretches back over a year or more.

He puckers, blows and it sounds like someone blowing out candles on a birthday cake – pure wind. Over and over again, randomly now and then but never forgotten. Of course, many of us coached and encouraged him, continually, but it didn’t seem to help much.

Then one day a slight, soft, windy whistle accidentally emerges and joy erupts from Sam, “Did you hear that!!??” Tries again and pure wind – – over and over – – occasionally an accidental whistle.

The other evening as I was talking to Ben (Sam’s dad) via video chat, I notice Sam’s face in the background, trying to get my attention. He was whistling up a storm – loud and clear – – he was so proud and happy (and so was I). Of course, he immediately got better and better. (That’s Sam in the picture.)

That’s how you become a great CPA, a great firm administrator, marketing director, technology director, administrative professional and an admired leader in a CPA firm. You become aware of the concept of something you want or need to achieve. You try it and fail, try again, seek and listen to coaching and advice and suddenly one day you achieve a small win. Then you relentlessly practice and before you know it, almost without noticing, it becomes second nature.

I’m motivated by interesting quotations. I read inspiring things said by people, famous or not, who have practiced and achieved. I read one this morning in FAST COMPANY magazine from Cher Wang, the chairman of HTC, the maker of Android cell phones. It applies to grandparents and seven-year-old boys:

“What you have learned is never enough.” – – Cher Wang

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