Archive for the ‘Communication’ Category

Monday, January 30th, 2023


As you get busy, the stress of tax season will begin to engulf you. The only thing you can truly control is your own attitude. Remember the following:

“Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely.”
― Roy T. Bennett

  • Believe in yourself. You are braver than you think, more talented than you know, and capable of more than you imagine.
  • Roy T. Bennett

Friday, January 27th, 2023

The Decline of Voicemail

“Sometimes all a person wants is an empathetic ear; all he or she needs is to talk it out. Just offering a listening ear and an understanding heart for his or her suffering can be a big comfort.” – Roy T. Bennett

Here’s a Friday Flashback post from 2014 that notes the decline of voicemail. Do you still expect clients to leave voicemail messages rather than you accepting their call at once?

  • Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.
  • Leo Buscaglia

Thursday, January 26th, 2023

What Do You Do Around Here?

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” – Charles Dickens

I came across this post by Seth Godin. I thought of those working in a CPA firm. Here’s the post:


There are lots of useful, honest answers. Some might include:

I do what I’m told

I challenge the status quo

I show up on time

I solve complicated problems

I absorb nonsense and create calm for others

I raise our standards

I help people feel seen

I’m steady

I don’t cause trouble

I bring energy

I lead the way

I turn mountains into molehills

People like me

The ones that aren’t helpful are things like:

I’m just passing through

I give people a hard time

I’m a bully

I make mountains out of molehills

What do you do???

  • When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.
  • Maya Angelou

Wednesday, January 25th, 2023

Nominate Your Marketer

“Marketing’s job is never done. It’s about perpetual motion. We must continue to innovate every day.” — Beth Comstock, Former CMO & Vice Chair, GE

I bet your firm has a great marketing director. You have a chance to recognize them. Here’s a press release from The Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM).

Lexington, Ky. (January 23, 2023) – The Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM) is seeking nominations for the 2023 Marketer of the Year award. Nominations will be accepted through February 16.

 Since 1993, the annual award, presented at AAM’s Summit, recognizes a marketing professional who has demonstrated exemplary performance in the profession of accounting firm marketing. To be eligible, nominees must have held a senior-level marketing position in an accounting firm for at least three years, although not necessarily at the same firm. 

All nominations should be submitted online no later than February 16. Nominations are not anonymous, and self-nominations are welcome. Previous nominees and marketers from firms of all sizes are encouraged to participate. This award is open to both AAM members as well as non-members. All nominees will be required to complete an online application no later than March 9. Additional details will be outlined once a nomination form has been received. 

The nominees will be ranked by an anonymous, but neutral, panel of judges on accomplishments, strategic thinking, financial impact, collaboration, business development, analytics and technology, future-forward approach, and leadership. We have also evaluated and modified the judging criteria to level the playing field for all firm sizes. Full details including the judging criteria can be found on the AAM website.

 “2022 was another challenging year in the accounting profession, but many of our members were able to turn those challenges into opportunities and help grow and advance their firms. If you or another marketer you know did big things in 2022, this is your time to shine. Nominating yourself, or someone else, for the MOY award is a great way to share your hard work, secrets to success and lessons learned with other members,” says AAM executive director Rhonda Clark. 

AAM is proud of the rich history of past winners who have contributed immensely to the success of our industry and their firms. Transform your future by submitting an application or take a moment to nominate and recognize a peer doing amazing things. Please contact with questions about the award.

About AAM: The Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM) is an international association boasting a network of marketing, business development and growth strategists. The association was formed in 1989 to elevate the profession and advance the careers of growth professionals in the accounting profession through education, community, thought leadership and leading-edge resources. Learn more about AAM at

  • Content is king.
  • Bill Gates

Tuesday, January 24th, 2023

I’m The Boss

“It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”- Mark Twain

Have you ever experienced it? I have. When a healthy discussion about a process or procedure goes on too long, I am talking about a boss who says, “I’m the boss; you’re the employee!”

What those kinds of bosses really mean is “My way or the highway!” These kinds of conversations did happen in CPA firms back in the old days. I am hoping it is a rare occurrence now.

As CPAs work their way up to a Manager position in the firm, they are often given lots of training and CPE relating to the technical aspects of the job. They are not always given enough training and mentoring about managing people.

Here are some phrases you should never use if you are a manager.

  • I’m the boss…
  • I don’t like surprises (or bad news)…
  • Failure is not an option…
  • I give up…
  • I’ll do it myself, or I have to do everything myself!
  • Don’t take this wrong…
  • I don’t take vacations…
  • I don’t have time…
  • Let’s wait a while…
  • Don’t ask questions…

These phrases are mentioned in an informative article via SharpHeels. Follow this link to read more about each one of these phrases. It is almost a mini-course on how to be a boss.

  • I always tell kids; you have two eyes and one mouth. Keep two open and one closed. You never learn anything if you’re the one talking.
  • Gordie Howe

Wednesday, January 18th, 2023

Don’t Do It

“Mistakes are a fact of life. It is the response to error that counts.” – Nikki Giovanni

Busy season is unfolding. The workload on managers and partners will steadily increase. You will be in a hurry to get jobs out the door.

It has happened many times before, whether it is February and March or July and August. You review a tax return and find a couple of oversights by the preparer. You fix the mistakes and, as mentioned, get it out the door. You don’t even take the time to notify the preparer about their mistakes.

This practice has been going on inside busy CPA firms for decades. Don’t do it!

Return the tax return or project to the preparer so they can learn from their mistakes. If you don’t, they will continue to make the same mistakes, and you will continue fixing mistakes for the remainder of your career.

  • What is done cannot be undone, but at least one can keep it from happening again.
  • Anne Frank

Tuesday, January 10th, 2023

What Attracts People To Your Firm?

“Be thankful for problems. If they were less difficult, someone with less ability might have your job.” – Jim Lovell

I’m not talking about what attracts clients to your firm. I wonder what your people would say if you asked why they stay at your firm. Not a full-blown employee satisfaction survey like the best places to work surveys. I’ve never been convinced that these are always truthful.

I mean a few simple questions as part of your stay interview initiative.

Dan Rockwell (@Leadershipfreak) gives us three enlightening questions to ask each of your team members. Try asking these questions randomly, one at a time, when interacting with individuals.

  • If you recommended our company as a good place to work to a friend, what would you say?
  • What do you enjoy most about your job? Least?
  • How much of your day are you using your strengths?
  • A lot of people quit looking for work as soon as they find a job.
  • Zig Ziglar

Friday, January 6th, 2023

Little Things

“Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.” – Mother Teresa

Change is hard, and you are faced with so much right now. Even what seems like a very little thing can seem very challenging. Watch out for the little things.

Read this Friday Flashback post from October – One Space or Two?

  • If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.
  • Napoleon Hill

Thursday, January 5th, 2023

Say It Simply

“A lot of problems in the world would be solved if we talked to each other instead of about each other.” — Nicky Gumbel

As leaders, when communicating with your team members, do you use phrases that can become irritating? I bet you have never given it much thought. Old habits are very hard to break.

A recent Inc. article by Jeff Haden titled “To Be Honest, These Overused Filler Phrases Really Get On Other People’s Nerves,” might send you a wake-up call.

For example, you might use phrases like, “At the end of the day..” “It is what it is.” “To be perfectly candid…” and the often used one, “If I’m honest…”

A phrase that is often used by CPA partners might be “Trust me….” I’ve heard that one many times.

The point is to eliminate these phrases and say what you are trying to communicate. This article will give you a lot of pointers.

I like the example used in the article – Did Jim Lovell need to say “To tell you the truth” before he said, “Houston, we’ve had a problem?” No, he did not.

  • Make sure to communicate your idea quickly and keep it straight to the point.
  • Paul Bailey

Monday, January 2nd, 2023

Seventeen Years

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” – T.S. Eliot

This year, 2023, January 2nd falls on a Monday. It did the same in 2006. I posted my first blog post on Monday, January 2, 2006. Here it is:

Happy New Year 2006 and Welcome to Rita Keller’s Blog.

I know that many of you visiting this Blog are a part of my expanding team of CPA firm management explorers – seeking new ways and revisiting proven, old ways of efficiently and profitably managing the CPA firm of the future – the firm where young professionals will want to build their careers.

I am just getting started, so check back soon for more information.

I have been writing about CPA firm management every workday for seventeen years. It amazes me that I never seem to run out of topics to cover, observations to share, and, sometimes, create amusement for people working in the CPA profession.

Here’s my second post on January 3rd, 2006. It is interesting how most of it still applies.

The first work day of 2006 – CPA firm style

After having a couple of shorter work weeks and counting down the days until “busy” season, it has finally arrived. Here are some thoughts and questions that might trigger ideas and actions:

Have you conducted your six-month or quarterly goal-setting sessions with all of your direct reports?
Did you set expectations clearly and high enough to help them grow, no matter how long they have been with you?
Assign some professional reading to your admin team – you might be surprised how much they enjoy it
Are you focusing on the individual strengths of each person and using them to make the entire firm better?
Have your partners and managers done
the same with their direct reports?
What about the scheduling system for your accountants? Have you thoughtfully re-engineered it within the last two years?

We have several new hires joining the firm this week. I give each of them their own copy of “True Professionalism” by David Maister. If you haven’t read it yourself, it should be on your 2006 reading list. A more complete reading list will follow later this week.

  • If you can do what you do best and be happy, you are further along in life than most people.
  • Leonardo DiCaprio