Archive for the ‘Communication’ Category

Tuesday, July 16th, 2019

Don’t Complain, Do Something

“Complaining about a problem without posing a solution is called whining.” – Teddy Roosevelt

There is a lot of complaining and what I call drama going on inside accounting firms. That’s why the quote, above, inspired this post.

Most of us have learned this one: When a team member comes to you for an answer, redirect them and ask them to come to you with the question and also with a suggested solution.

When leaders identify an issue, a challenge, an idea… they often fail to act. It is the classic failure to implement. It turns into a session of whining.

whiningMaybe it is time to buy a sign. You can get one for $1.39.

 

  • You don't make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas.
  • Shirley Chisholm

Monday, July 15th, 2019

Be Brave. Ask Questions.

It happens daily in accounting firms. Younger, less experienced staff members hesitate, and even fear, to ask what they consider a dumb question.

Yet, one brave soul will often ask it and then everyone nods their head and admits that they wondered the same thing. I love people who ask the dumb question.

That’s why this quote means so much to you as you build your career in accounting:

“No one is dumb who is curious. The people who don’t ask questions remain clueless throughout their lives.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson

Beginning this week, no matter how many or how few years of experience you have – be brave, ask questions.

  • What makes us human, I think, is an ability to ask questions.
  • Jane Goodall

Monday, July 8th, 2019

Still Using Business Cards?

“Respect for ourselves guides our morals, respect for others guides our manners.” – Laurence Sterne

I have definitely noticed that over the last five years or so, the need for giving someone your business card has decreased.

With all of the exposure, your firm gets via your webpage, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, etc. people know how to get in touch with you. People can Google your name and find you. That is why it is so important for ALL your contact information to be on your website. I still find it disappointing when I look for an email address of a CPA and their website discourages visitors from easily contacting people at the firm.

All that being said, I know that the majority of CPAs still carry and distribute business cards. For young people at the firm (and maybe for some older ones), there are some etiquette rules surrounding how you distribute your business card.

Here’s a great article via Fast Company – How to give out your business card without seeming like a jerk. Here are the tips (but got to the article to find out more about each tip).

  1. Don’t use them to impress
  2. Don’t rush to give your card out
  3. Choose the right situation
  4. Make sure it’s presentable
  5. Think about what the card says

When I was working at a firm, I encouraged our newest team members to place their business card in those goldfish bowls at restaurants so that the firm name showed through the glass!

  • Civility costs nothing and buys everything.
  • Mary Wortley Montagu

Friday, June 28th, 2019

Flashback Friday – The Way You Talk & Write Can Be Very Powerful or Very Confusing

“The spoken word and the written — there is an astonishing gulf between them.” – Hercule Poirot 

Inside accounting firms, the team develops its own way of talking. Could it be confusing to your clients?

Emails zip out of the firm almost every minute. Have you ever been embarrassed by mistakes in spelling or grammar?

Read more here.

  • Damn the subjunctive. It brings all our writers to shame.
  • Mark Twain

Wednesday, June 26th, 2019

It’s Time to Talk About That Elephant

“You’re not learning anything unless you’re having the difficult conversations.” – Gwyneth Paltrow

Maybe you have already had your annual partner retreat. Did you talk about the elephant in the room?

Maybe your annual retreat is coming up soon. Will you talk about the elephant in the room?

I have been involved in and facilitated many retreats and often, as the old saying goes, it is like pulling teeth to get partners to be completely honest and talk about the elephant.

Whether you are in a partner meeting or in a performance feedback session with a team member, it can be difficult to address those elephants.

Marlene Chism has some great advice for discussing the undiscussables in her article via SmartBrief. She gives some specific, practical advice on how to:

  1. Get out of your head
  2. Get out of the story
  3. Own your stuff
  4. Set a positive intention

Read the article and begin to practice these helpful tools.

  • Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.
  • Ambrose Bierce

Friday, June 7th, 2019

Flashback Friday – Does Your Firm Have a Motto or Tagline?

“It has been a motto of mine my whole life – just be yourself.” – Patrick Kane

Most firms have them. Many firms have them prominently displayed on their website. I am referring to the firm motto or tagline. Most are rather boring.

Read more here.

  • Concentration is my motto - first honesty, then industry, then concentration.
  • Andrew Carnegie

Wednesday, June 5th, 2019

Are You Really Excellent?

“Excellence is a way of life that sustains us and inspires us day in and day out. There is no ‘long term.’ There is only the way we act when we step out into the corridor after a meeting—or, yes, the quality of your next four-line email.” – Tom Peters

The above quote from Tom Peters got me to thinking.

Firm leaders will always declare, “we provide excellent client service.” They will also tell me that excellent could be used in describing how they treat and train their employees.

Is it true at your firm?

Think about the above quote. Do you act in an excellent manner day in and day out? Do you maintain excellent behavior after a heated partner meeting? Do respond in an excellent manner when you avoid a call from an unhappy client? And, what about when you are writing an email?

  • We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then is not an act, but a habit.
  • Aristotle

Tuesday, June 4th, 2019

You Cannot Avoid Selling

“Approach each customer with the idea of helping him or her to solve a problem or achieve a goal, not of selling a product or service.” – Brian Tracy.

I have heard it repeated for years and years by accountants of all ages and genders – “I didn’t go into accounting to be a salesperson!”

Get over it. Everyone has something to sell. Sales is a fundamental skill. Selling is not pushing people to buy something they don’t want. Selling is moving somebody else to action. No matter what your role, you are continually selling yourself!

Firm leaders should not wait to introduce young accountants to marketing and sales. Teaching and including them at the very beginning of their career makes it a natural part of their career advancement.

Too many managers have told me that they didn’t realize the importance of marketing/sales until they were almost ready to become a partner.

In an accounting firm, the secret to practice development (bringing in clients) is to simply like people. People are naturally drawn to CPAs because they realize the knowledge you possess. Selling is also all about understanding what you are selling. Do your young accountants know?

Read this article via HBR – How to Improve Your Sales Skills Even If You’re Not a Salesperson by Rebecca Knight. Send a link to all you young accountants

  • Keep Your Sales Pipeline Full By Prospecting Continuously. Always Have More People To See Than You Have Time To See Them.
  • Brian Tracy

Monday, June 3rd, 2019

Avoid the Trivial

“A good memory is one trained to forget the trivial.” – Clifton Fadiman

There are some people who might be surprised by your actions/decisions (as a boss) but they pick their battles and don’t make a fuss about trivial matters.

Then you have some people who tend to make a fuss about everything. They delight in the trivial and demand more information about almost every decision.

I hope a majority of your team members fit into the first category.

As a boss, you are the one who mentors, coaches and teaches people how to advance in their careers. Are you doing a great job?

  • Of course it is trivial, but then most things are.
  • John Malkovich

Thursday, May 30th, 2019

Powerful Words

TYou“We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thank you. Aren’t those words wonderful, pleasing, and sometimes rare?

I have always urged CPAs and their individual team members to handwrite personal thank you notes to their clients and others.

A handwritten thank you also makes a great impression if you have been interviewed for a job. At many firms, that simple act moves a candidate up a few notches on the hiring scale.

I received the card in the picture yesterday. A young man, completely unknown to me, contacted me to ask some questions about getting a job in public accounting. We talked about how his interest in technology would be a plus and about what size of accounting firm he should approach.

How nice of him to send me a handwritten thank you.

Maybe you have a client who has a child graduating this year, from high school or college. A handwritten congratulations card would be an impressive thing to send.

  • Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.
  • Marcel Proust