Archive for the ‘Crafting Your Career’ Category

Friday, February 8th, 2019

Think

I read the following quote on Twitter yesterday and it made me THINK.

“The best leaders I’ve studied discipline themselves to take time out of their working lives to think. They all muse. They all reflect.” – Marcus Buckingham

During a coaching session recently, I asked a question. I’ll ask it of all of you reading this post:

What, specifically, do YOU think you need to work on to get to the next level?

You probably will not be surprised at the answer from my session – – “I need more time. I need to think more long-term and strategically now if I want to move up in the firm but I’m too deep in the details.”

I agreed because I contend that managing partners, firm administrators, and other internal management leaders need more time to THINK. You cannot address the issues strategically if you never have time to THINK about the BIG picture. Too many of you are so caught up in the details that you rarely THINK long-term.

Did you ever wonder about the slogan THINK? It became widely used at IBM in its early years and is attributed to Thomas Watson. Following is the history from the IBM archives:

When Thomas J. Watson joins the Computer-Tabulating Recording Company — the forerunner of today’s IBM — in 1914, he brings with him the “Think” motto he coined when he managed the sales and advertising departments at the National Cash Register Company. “Thought,” he says, “has been the father of every advance since time began. ‘I didn’t think’ has cost the world millions of dollars.” Soon, the one-word slogan “THINK” appears in large block-letter signs in offices and plants throughout the company.

In the SEARCH box, on the left side of my website type the work THINK and browse through how many posts I’ve done on the topic of thinking. Maybe some of them will inspire you. (There are way too many to read all at once!)

  • Difficulties mastered are opportunities won.
  • Winston Churchill

Thursday, January 31st, 2019

There Are Many Ways To Mentor Someone

“The more you lose yourself in something bigger than yourself, the more energy you will have.” – – Norman Vincent Peale

I receive lots of questions about how to make mentoring a successful endeavor in a CPA firm. The following are some ways that mentoring has changed in recent years. It doesn’t have to be an older, wiser man mentoring a young, eager protege. Think of your first memory of being mentored. I bet it was a teacher or coach… someone who thought you could do more than you thought you could.

Old Rule: Mentors and mentees should have a lot in common
New Rule: The best matches are mismatches

Old Rule: Look for your mentor higher-up on the food chain
New Rule: A good mentor is anyone from whom you can learn

Old Rule: Mentoring is one-on-one
New Rule: Mentoring works best when you mix and match

Old Rule: Mentors pick their mentees
New Rule: Mentees pick their mentors

Old Rule: You are either a mentor or a mentee
New Rule: Everyone needs mentors

  • The best way a mentor can prepare another leader is to expose him or her to other great people.
  • John Maxwell

Wednesday, January 30th, 2019

An Effective Way to a Coach Person

“It’s not hard to find smart people. It’s hard to find people who inspire and motivate.” – David Maister
If you never heard David Maister speak in person, you lost out on a memorable experience. He was vibrant and very direct.  He often would stop himself and say, “Okay, I’ve got to calm down.”
One lesson from Maister that I have never forgotten is an example he used in explaining the effective way to coach a person (a partner in a CPA firm, for example). The method is called “the pigeon story” and he presented it in a humorous and logical fashion.
I’ll try to summarize it briefly. If you want a pigeon (partner) to progress to another “place” that is too distant from them, they can’t do it in one huge step. You draw a line very close in front of them and draw them there. You coach them by saying, “Come on Pigeon, you can do it, I will help you.” When they get there you celebrate and then draw another line, not too far in front of them. Same with people (partners). It is too hard to make a gigantic leap to an annual goal – it is too far in the distance. Instead, set a goal that is a small step away and continually repeat, “Come on partner, you can do it, I will help you.” After seven or eight lines (small steps, 9 or 10 for tax partners), they arrive at the larger goal.
  • The way to get rich is don’t get sucked into doing dumb stuff for people you don’t like.
  • David Maister

Friday, January 25th, 2019

Managing Your Time

“Time is the scarcest resource, and unless it is managed, nothing else can be managed.” – Peter Drucker

How well do you manage time?

In the CPA profession, we talk about time, worry about time and track time. Yet, how many CPAs have ever taken a time management course?

It doesn’t matter if you value price or bill by the hour, how much time do you waste?

Here’s an interesting viewpoint on time from LeadershipFreak.

  • The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.
  • Leo Tolstoy

Friday, January 18th, 2019

Punctuality

I have always admired punctuality in others. There is an old saying:

Punctuality is the politeness of kings.

Here’s the story of where that saying originated:

Kings (especially before the [French] revolution) didn’t need to be punctual. They could show up when they wanted. After all, people would wait for them. But [King Louis XVIII of France, to whom the quote is often attributed] suggests that one way a king can show respect for other people is to meet them at the appointed time. If this is true for kings, it certainly is true for you and me.

  • In the ordinary business of life punctuality is... necessary.
  • Bertrand Russell

Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

The Battle Inside You

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.

He said, “My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

“The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

I read this somewhere many years ago. It is so true. I have read this fable before and, you can find lots of good posts using it on the web. In your work life, it is very tempting to focus on the negative.


I believe that you become who you associate with. Jim Rohn once said, You‘re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

 
Haven’t you ever found yourself beginning to think and talk negative most of the time and then suddenly realize that you have been hanging around negative people most of the workday? I bet you can quickly name the people in your firm who always seem to feel sorry for themselves, who poke fun at others and seem to feel pleasure from getting even.

My advice: Don’t walk away from negative people……. RUN!!

Try this tip I learned at a conference many years ago. Put a rubber band on your wrist. If you suddenly realize you are talking negatively to another person, SNAP the rubber band (stretch it way out) against your wrist so that it stings, just as a reminder. Wear the rubber band all week and see how many stings you feel.

Focus on feeding the good wolf. The good wolf likes positive self-image, kindness, understanding, positive attitude, tolerance, and laughter. Even during this busy time of year, take time to count your blessings. Smile more, it makes people wonder what you are up to.
 

  • Your hardest times often lead to the greatest moments of your life. Keep going. Tough situations build strong people in the end.
  • Roy T. Bennett

Friday, January 11th, 2019

What Does Leadership Look Like Podcast

“The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water and breeds reptiles of the mind.” – William Blake

Thanks so much to Jessica Salerno of The Ohio Society of CPAs for interviewing me for one of the Society’s podcasts.

Episode info:

As the accounting profession evolves, leadership has to evolve along with it. We spoke with Rita Keller, respected CPA firm management consultant and author of the daily blog “Solutions for CPA Firm Leaders,” on how leadership in accounting has changed over the years, the common leadership mistakes she’s seen, the one thing leaders aren’t doing enough and more.

Click here to listen to the podcast. I also appreciate the Young CPAs of Ohio tweet!

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  • Change your opinions, keep to your principles; change your leaves, keep intact your roots.
  • Victor Hugo

Tuesday, January 8th, 2019

Do You Have The Power to Lead?

“Most people watch videos, they don’t make them. Most people read tweets, they don’t write them.” – Seth Godin

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Once again, Seth Godin did a post last week that was so powerful and thought inspiring that I am sharing it with you rather than writing something myself. Read it a couple of times…..

Do you have the grit to be responsible?

  • If you can’t state your position in eight words, you don’t have a position.
  • Seth Godin

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2019

The Secret of Change

Focus slideI was browsing through famous quotations about facing a new year. I came across one that I have often used in my presentations.

To me, it says so much about CPAs in public practice coping with surviving in a profession that is undergoing some of the most formidable changes it has ever faced.

Clinging to the past is not the answer. Making the commitment to change yourself is the answer. How are you, personally, going to survive into the future.

Too many partners and managers are clinging to work that they know and love. They have not developed the skills or desire to delegate properly so that less experienced CPAs can learn from more challenging work.

Begin this week to observe what your team members need to learn and give them projects that will help develop their skills and knowledge.

Struggling with exactly what to delegate? Ask your team what they think you should delegate. They are more insightful than you might think. Managing partners, ask your firm administrator what he/she thinks you should delegate to them. You might be pleasantly surprised.

  • Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.
  • Henry David Thoreau

Friday, December 28th, 2018

Making The Move

You have heard it discussed extensively during the last few years. I am referring to making the move from compliance work to becoming a consulting firm.

CPA firms have been doing compliance work (tax returns and financial statements) forever. Some people working at the firm have, through years of experience, moved into more of a consulting role. Traditionally, these people are partners. In recent years, it has become common for a CPA firm to also provide some sort of technology and human resource consulting for clients.

In a recent article in Accounting Today, August Aquila notes, “There is a significant difference between consulting and compliance services — the way they are priced, marketed, the staff training, and even the business model all come into play. I’ve seen too many firms try to manage their consulting services as if they were compliance services. This is a big mistake.”

I have found that so many CPAs are performing consulting services just as if they were part of the compliance engagement, leaving money on the table.

Angie Grissom, in the same article notes, “Let’s not forget competencies, training and people. It can take a long time to become a good consultant. Many consultants have MBAs, and operational and finance experience, rather than accounting or tax. Like all professionals, they learn on the job.”

Consider how many consultants you have now. You probably just have a few partners performing these services. To develop more consultants, you must start grooming younger people earlier in their careers. From day one you should be taking them along on consulting engagements and involving them in discussions with the clients.

Larger firms are building their consulting practice by acquiring firms that are already consultants such as technology firms or human resource consultants. They are also hiring people from the college campus who are not accounting majors.

Get started on a plan for how your firm will make the transition from compliance to consulting. Keep in mind what Grissom says, “A major difference is, of course, the fee that consultants can charge versus what auditors or tax preparers charge. Consultants have convinced their clients that their services have a higher value.”

Read the entire article here.