Archive for the ‘Crafting Your Career’ Category

Friday, March 19th, 2021

Experience Counts – A Flashback for Friday

“At age 20, we worry about what others think of us. At age 40, we don’t care what they think of us. At age 60, we discover they haven’t been thinking of us at all.” – Ann Landers

My post from March 25, 2015 is actually more of a rant. Something must have happened that week to cause me to share my feelings about the value of longevity, experience, and knowledge possessed by the accountants in your firm who have thirty or more years of experience.

If they started their career after graduating with an accounting degree that would make them around fifty-two years of age. I don’t want a doctor or lawyer who is fresh out of school nor do I want one who is 82! Give me that 50-something person.

Read my flashback post here.

  • I learned a long time ago the wisest thing I can do is be on my own side, be an advocate for myself and others like me.
  • Maya Angelou

Wednesday, March 17th, 2021

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

“May you have all the happiness and luck that life can hold—and at the end of your rainbows ay you find a pot of gold.” – Old Irish Blessing

I like this post for St. Patrick’s Day. I have used it a couple of times before. It still applies – So eat some green bagels or cupcakes and have a green beer this evening and think about NOT being green. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Can CPAs relate to Kermit and his tale about:  It’s not easy being green?

As Kermit says, “Wouldn’t it be nicer being red, or yellow or gold?  Green seems like you blend in with so many other ordinary things and people tend to pass you over ’cause you’re not standing out like flashy sparkles in the water.

Perhaps, because you are a CPA you might feel ordinary or under-appreciated.  Well…. YOU ARE NOT!

As Kermit continues, “But green’s the color of Spring and green can be cool and friendly-like and green can be big like an ocean, or important like a mountain, or tall like a tree.  When green is all there is to be it could make you wonder why, but why wonder why wonder, I am green and it’ll do fine, it’s beautiful and I think it’s what I want to be.”

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

Monday, March 15th, 2021

Sharing Information

“If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it.” – Margaret Fuller

One of the ways I progressed in my career in public accounting was to network with others working in the public accounting profession (firm administrators, managing partners, marketing directors, HR directors, IT directors, etc.). We shared information.

Most of this experience came from networking in the Association of Accounting Administration, now called The CPA Firm Management Association (CPAFMA), and attending management conferences sponsored by state societies and the AICPA.

I also learned so much from the speakers at conferences. These people were usually CPA management consultants. I got to know them and they helped guide me in my early years of consulting. I soon became a speaker and management consultant myself thanks to so many who mentored me.

I became the first female member of the New Horizon Group, a group of experienced CPA management consultants. We met annually to share best practices, etc. Those early members were: August Aquila, Allan Boress, Steve Erickson, Chris Frederiksen, Allan Koltin, Bob Martin, Jeff Pawlow, Marc Rosenberg, Don Scholl, Steve Weinstein and Jim Metzler. I learned so much because we shared information.

That golden opportunity, of learning from others is available to you today if you take advantage of it.

Now, when I encourage people in management positions in CPA firms to attend meetings and conferences, the problem I encounter is the fact that so many people say they are too busy and some people think they already know it all. If you know it all, it is your responsibility to share (and no one ever knows it all).

If you get a chance to attend a CPAFMA Chapter event. Set a goal to attend other management conferences such as the AICPA ENGAGE conference. This year the CPAFMA annual management conference is in conjunction with ENGAGE.

Never stop sharing information and learning from others. After all these years, I am still learning (and sharing).

  • Sharing knowledge is the most fundamental act of friendship. Because it is a way you can give something without losing something.
  • Richard Stallman

Thursday, March 11th, 2021

Always Be On-Time

“Soldiers should be minutemen. Punctuality is one of the most valuable habits a soldier can possess.” –Christopher Columbus Andrews, Hints to Company Officers on Their Military Duties, 1863

I bet the people inside your firm have had many conversations about “other” people inside your firm.

One of the most frustrating topics is the person who is always late. They are late for internal meetings (Zoom or in person). They are late for client meetings, for lunch appointments and even for CPE classes.

Their lack of punctuality often keeps groups of other people waiting and wastes a lot of time. In some cases, people just get used to it and don’t even plan on the person to ever be on time. Few people, if any, respect or admire them.

George Washington was known for his punctuality. Once his secretary arrived late to a meeting, and blamed his watch for his tardiness, Washington quietly replied, “Then you must get another watch, or I another secretary.”

I once knew a very high-profile (and very expensive) personal coach who worked with prominent corporate executives and some CPA partners. One of the first things he taught them was punctuality. Monthly calls were established and the partner had to place the call to the consultant. If they were a few seconds late, the coach would not accept their call the they had to pay the session fee anyway – no refunds and it was expensive. Every person I knew who used this coach benefitted greatly from the life lessons they learned from the experience.

Read more about George Washington’s punctuality and other important factors about being punctual here.

  • Life's tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late.
  • Benjamin Franklin

Thursday, March 4th, 2021

Be Positive – Keep Smiling

“Keep smiling, because life is a beautiful thing and there’s so much to smile about.” – Marilyn Monroe

As I have said before, there is way too much drama going on inside accounting firms.

I always explain to young people just beginning their careers that they should keep in mind that CPAs have been trained for auditing. Their role is to question, research, explore and look for mistakes. So, don’t be offended if they are critical of almost everything. Smile, learn and move on.

Experienced CPAs provide something called review notes to their subordinates. They review the less experienced persons work and give them written notes on what they did wrong. I have known groups of beginners to laughingly compare…. “I got 15 review notes from old Joe!” “That’s nothing, I got 28 from him last week!” Smile, learn and move on.

Betty, the long-time firm bookkeeper has been with the firm for 32 years. She is often gruff and demanding. So, you better not make a mistake on your expense report. Smile, learn and move on.

All of this is fodder for drama inside the firm. Don’t let it get to you. Keep Marilyn Monroe’s quote in mind: “Keep smiling, because life is a beautiful thing and there’s so much to smile about.”

  • Fear is stupid. So are regrets.
  • Marilyn Monroe

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021

Be An Encourager

“We can improve our relationships with others by leaps and bounds if we become encouragers rather than critics.” Joyce Meyer

Young accountants coming into the world of public accounting might be surprised at the number of critics they encounter.

It seems, in many firms, the experienced CPAs have fallen into the habit of teaching by criticism. Too often, their expectations are not adequately communicated and yet they become critical when new college recruits struggle with the tasks they are assigned.

I have heard many new recruits say, “I never learned any of this in college.” I suppose that is the case with many new graduates entering any profession.

The next time you are writing review notes for a new hire, be sure to consider if you communicated your expectations, clearly and concisely, at the beginning of the assignment. Actually discuss the review notes verbally with the team member and be sure to offer words of encouragement.

When a new hire receives seemingly harsh, written review notes without any personal communication or encouragement, it can be very demotivating and disheartening.

Encouragement builds relationships that can result in long-term career progress. Encouragement keeps people at your firm and prevents them from seeking job satisfaction elsewhere. Read the above quote again.

  • Your talent determines what you can do. Your motivation determines how much you’re willing to do. Your attitude determines how well you do it.
  • Lou Holtz

Wednesday, February 24th, 2021

Interruptions

“We must stop regarding unpleasant or unexpected things as interruptions of real life. The truth is that interruptions are real life.” – C. S. Lewis

It never seems to end, the constant parade of people outside the door of the managing partner or firm administrator, often standing in line just to ask a quick question. During COVID times, people are seeking a quick Zoom meeting with you. And then, there is the dreaded, huge number of emails in your inbox.

Do you sometimes think this is crazy and it must be something you are doing wrong? I used to think the same thing. However, over the years I’ve developed a new perspective on this “take a number” circus that surrounds a great many firm administrators (or managing partners).

Some of the highest level CEOs in the country have the same challenges with an “open door” for those that depend on them for guidance and they are operating daily with constant interruptions. Just like a CEO of a large company, your people depend on YOU.

Firm administrators, you have built your reputation inside the firm as the “go-to person.” The successful, smooth, day-to-day operation of the firm must constantly be nourished. You have the responsibility of nourishing it via your administrative and support team. It might be a quick 10-minute conversation with the Technology Manager, a 5-minute chat with the firm’s Controller, or even an unscheduled one-hour meeting with the Marketing Director. These interruptions that might drive some managers crazy are the lifeblood of your day.

We all have good intentions of MBWA (managing by wandering around), but how often do we actually work it into our busy schedules? If people aren’t coming to your office – – go find them!

If you are working remotely, don’t wait for people to come to you. Randomly, check-in on people who report to you. It can be done quickly. Ask them, “What do you think?” “How can I help.”

  • Do one thing every day that scares you.
  • Eleanor Roosevelt

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021

It Is Inside Every CPA Firm

“Solve drama. Don’t create it.” – Dan Rockwell, @Leadershipfreak

When doing presentations to CPA audiences, I will often ask, “You don’t have any drama inside your firm, do you?” Sad to say, this would get a big laugh from the audience.

What does that say about your firm?

Stay on track to a successful career by following these six rules for keeping your work-life drama-free.

Rule #1: If You Did it When You Were 15, Don’t Do it Now. – It is easy to catch yourself doing things that are more worthy of high school hallways than the office.

Rule #2: Save the Venting for Outside the Office. – Resist the urge to talk about your co-workers and boss while you are in the office.

Rule #3: When in Doubt, Wait to Reply. – An email can set you off! Don’t reply immediately. Wait. Think.

Rule #4: Know When It’s Time to Talk it Out. – To avoid unnecessary drama, you have to realize the point at which it’s better to simply talk to someone, in person.

Rule #5: Have (and Use) a Go-to Escape Phrase. – To avoid getting roped in to a drama situation, be prepared with a go-to-escape phrase. (“I can’t help you with that.” “I’ve got a deadline, I need to get back to work.”)

Rule #6: Never Assume Negative Intent. – To avoid drama, simply work under the assumption that your co-workers and manager are there to help you, support you, and challenge you to do even better work.

These rules come from an article by Katie Douthwaite Wolf, “6 Basic Rules You Need to Follow if You Truly Want to Avoid Office Drama”.

Read the entire article to learn much more about each rule. You might even change it into a No Drama policy to officially adopt for your firm.

  • Don't waste words o people who deserve your silence. Sometimes the most powerful thing you can say is nothing at all.
  • Mandy Hale

Monday, February 22nd, 2021

Do They Like You?

“People prefer to say yes to those that they like.” Robert Cialdini 

I hear stories, all kinds of stories.

Working and interacting with hundreds of accounting firms over the last thirty years I, of course, hear stories. I hear, from the partners, what a great firm they have, how progressive they are, and how they do so much for their people. I do believe most of this.

I hear from the professional support team and the accounting staff how, while it is a good firm, they struggle with getting questions answered, getting changes approved and dealing with some of the partners. I do believe most of this.

The question for you to ponder today, as a shareholder, is influenced by the above quotation. Do your people actually like you?

If you are friendly, smile often, show caring/concern for individual team members, and are approachable, they will like you. They will work harder for you and strive to meet your expectations. They will respect you.

I remember when I was new to a CPA firm. One CPA partner would occasionally ask how I was doing and would ALWAYS say thank-you when I completed various tasks for him. That partner’s tasks always ranked higher on my to-do list than the other three partners.

The old English proverb, you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, means that it is much easier to get what you want by being polite rather than by being rude and insolent.

  • Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.
  • Albert Schweitzer

Tuesday, February 16th, 2021

Just Keep Ascending

“Wake up wild one! Your mind is a cageless bird waiting to fly to uncharted lands. Like the phoenix, you’ll rise again with renewed vigor, clarity, compassion and insight.” – Melody Lee

I read the following on Jon Gordon’s Instagram site. It applies to you and your accounting firm. Just keep soaring.

“The only bird that dares to peck an eagle is the crow. The crow sits on the eagles back and bites his neck. The eagle does not respond, nor fight with the crow; it does not spend time or energy on the crow instead he just opens its wings and begins to rise higher in the heavens. The higher the flight, the harder it is for the crow to breathe and eventually the crow falls off due to a lack of oxygen.

Learn from the eagle and don’t fight the crows, just keep ascending. They might be along for the ride but they’ll soon fall off. Do not allow yourself to succumb to the distractions….keep your focus on the things above and continue rising!!”

Source: Original Author Unknown

  • Keep going, because there is nothing worse in this world than to stop. Simply keep flying.
  • Vidhya Thakkar