Archive for the ‘Crafting Your Career’ Category

Thursday, December 27th, 2018

You Are Business Smart. Are You Feelings Smart?

“One thing you can’t hide – is when you’re crippled inside.” – John Lennon

To be a successful CPA, it is extremely important to understand your own feelings and the feelings of others. Some CPAs struggle with this issue. Many CPAs I have known tend to be very “business-like” and seem to try very hard to hide their emotions. Does this sound like you? Make 2019 the year to work on your emotional intelligence.

In a new book by Justin Bariso (a contributor to Inc.), EQ Applied: The Real-World Guide to Emotional Intelligence, he outlines a number of clear, practical tips that you can implement in your daily routine, most of which take only a few minutes a day.

He recommends that you begin with self-reflection. To understand your own feelings and other people’s, it begins with having the emotional maturity to know you need it.

Here’s an example of one of the 21 tips he provides in a recent Inc. post:

4. Use the 3-second trick.

If you tend to put your foot in your mouth, agree too quickly to commitments, or otherwise say something you later regret, ask yourself three quick questions (which I learned from Craig Ferguson) before speaking:

  • Does this need to be said?
  • Does this need to be said by me?
  • Does this need to be said by me, now?

In contrast, if you’re more introverted and often find that later you wish you had expressed yourself in a specific moment or situation, ask yourself:

Will I regret not speaking up later? 

The right question(s) can help you manage your emotional reactions and avoid regrets.

  • We know too much and feel too little. At least, we feel too little of those creative emotions from which a good life springs.
  • Bertrand Russell

Friday, December 14th, 2018

Changes to the CPA Exam

“Exams test your memory, life tests your learning; others will test your patience.” – Fennel Hudson

Hopefully, you have already been reading about the future changes to the CPA Exam.

This from The Journal of Accountancy:

A working group formed by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) and the AICPA is exploring possible changes to the CPA licensure requirements that would incorporate the skills and competencies in areas such as technology and data analytics that increasingly are needed in practice and business.

Through an effort known as the CPA Evolution project, NASBA and the AICPA have discussed possible approaches to the changing demands in the accounting profession. NASBA and the AICPA have consulted with various stakeholders on this issue in an effort to help the profession meet the challenge.

Then there is this from Going Concern.

  • Recipe for success: Study while others are sleeping; work while others are loafing; prepare while others are playing; and dream while others are wishing.
  • William A. Ward

Tuesday, December 11th, 2018

Emails From Partners

“The average American worker has fifty interruptions a day, of which seventy percent have nothing to do with work.” – W. Edwards Deming

If you are working in a CPA firm, first of all, good for you. For the most part, they are wonderful places to work. You learn so much, no matter how long you have worked there and you are in a profession where you are helping people.

One of the challenges of working inside a CPA firm is email. It is a beast and a beast that you are constantly attempting to train and control.

One of the complaints I have heard many times over the years is the fact that partners (and sometimes managers) send work-related emails to you at any time from 5:00 a.m. until 2:00 a.m. Of course, many come during business hours but often several come during non-business hours.

Those frequent emails during the business day interrupt your train of thought and your concentration on client work that you are attempting to complete in a timely and efficient manner. There are many methods to handle those emails, such as turning off notifications and responding to emails three times per day. I have written many posts on the topic of emails, just type email in the search box on my website and browse through them.

So, what about those emails you receive late in the evening or early morning even before you wake up? You might make the assumption that the sender expects you to answer ASAP. That is not often the case. If your firm does not have clear guidelines about the handling of emails, it is time you create a policy that documents the expectations. If there is an urgent situation that needs immediate attention, it should be communicated in person, by phone or maybe even text. Make it clear that emails should be used for non-time-sensitive communications. Here’s a great article about all of this via HBR – Protecting Company Culture Menas Having Rules for Email.

As for emails, in general, remember that work and life have become blended. If receiving an email from a work colleague during personal time bugs you, consider your time spent in the office. Have you ever sent a personal email or a text, checked social media, scheduled a doctor’s appointment, dealt with a child’s issue on company time?

  • Permission marketing is marketing without interruptions.
  • Seth Godin

Friday, December 7th, 2018

Do We Make Leadership Too Difficult?

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

In the CPA profession, there is an enormous amount of resources for leadership training. We hear about it all the time, we read about it all the time and there are hundreds of books written every year on leadership. Almost all of the prominent CPA management advisors offer a “leadership training” program. And yes, I write many blog posts on the topic of leadership.

Does all the training and reading on leadership work? Are we making it too difficult? Are we expecting too much? Are we spending too much on leadership training? Isn’t most of it obtained by experience and passion?

I hope you follow HBR on Twitter (@harvardbiz). Here’s an HBR tweet I read this week that led me to an excellent article:

With such a flurry of developments, there must be some useful new ways to think about leadership.

An excerpt from the article:

The reality, however, is somewhat different. Yes, the leadership development industry is thriving, and yes there are a lot of new and interesting ideas, some of which may prove to be helpful. But despite many changes in our context — as organizations have become more democratic and networked, for example — in its fundamentals leadership has not changed over the years. It is still about mobilizing people in an organization around common goals to achieve impact, at scale.

Getting a promotion or becoming a partner does not make you a leader.

  • Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, December 6th, 2018

Is It Time To Exit Gracefully?

Many CPA firm partners are struggling with the decision on when to retire.

It seems most believe that no matter what their age, it is too soon to consider retiring. Some firms have even raised their mandatory retirement age to 70. Many firms have no mandatory retirement age. Do you have a documented transition plan to help retiring partners exit?

While I certainly do not believe in forcing a successful, active, business-getting, forward-thinking partner out the door, I do believe that all aging partners need to think about retirement and make plans. Are you really a visionary or are you holding the firm back in any way?

I love this quote:

“I don’t want to be dragging myself on stage, year in year out until someone else tells me it is time to go. There are certain birthdays that make you revalue your life.” – Tina Turner

As the year draws to a close, will 2019 be the year you put your transition plan into place and provide an opportunity for the next generation?

  • The trouble with retirement is that you never get a day off.
  • Abe Lemons

Monday, December 3rd, 2018

Working at an Accounting Firm – New Graduates

“Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead.” – Benjamin Franklin

The CPA profession hires thousands of new college graduates each year. Many join the big, national firms. Others join regional or local firms – some of them are huge and some are very small. All of them do their best to provide you with an onboarding and orientation experience. Some do a good job and some do not.

What can you really expect while working at a CPA firm? Sadly, it often takes years to figure that out and sometimes you learn it the hard way, by trial and error.

Suzanne Lucas, in her article for Inc., gives us 10 workplace secrets for New Grads – those young people who have landed a job in a profession. They all apply to public accounting. Please read her entire article. I have listed a few of the secrets and modified them for your situation in a public accounting firm.

Your manager can’t fire you – Managers in an accounting firm are often very skilled at managing the work but not so skilled at managing people. They have exceptional training in “the work” but most firms do not provide enough training in managing people. Most people in a CPA firm at the manager level can’t fire you without extensive involvement of others at the firm (partners, usually).

Your manager can’t give you a raise either – They can make recommendations but rarely have the authority to designate an amount.

HR isn’t bound by confidentiality rules – They must investigate things – if you are harassed, they are required to investigate things.

Grunt work leads to success – This applies across all professions. You must do the hard work first and you will be recognized and rewarded as time goes on.

Flexibility has to be earned – It might make you look bad if you start taking advantage of some benefits before you have earned them. Prove that you are capable, responsible, and hard working.

Be sure to read the article to learn about the remaining 5 secrets.

  • We dance round in a ring and suppose, but the secret sits in the middle and knows.
  • Robert Frost

Tuesday, November 27th, 2018

Women in Accounting

“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.”
—Nora Ephron

More and more women are rising to the top in the CPA profession. They will continue to do so. How are you helping? IMG_1095

  • You had the power all along my dear.
  • Glinda the Good Witch (Wizard of Oz)

Tuesday, November 20th, 2018

Inside An Accounting Firm – Find Happiness

“Happiness, not in another place but this place…. not for another hour, but this hour.” – Walt Whitman

I think about accounting firms a lot. I talk with so many of you who are faced with challenges and even worry about how you will move forward into the enchanting future that awaits the accounting profession.

Because it is Thanksgiving week here in the USA, it is a good time to count your blessings. Count the ways you have found happiness working in the accounting profession. CPA firms are wonderful places to work!

Try some of these ideas to maintain and increase your happiness at work:

Live and let live – – Don’t micromanage. Don’t gossip and worry about what other employees are doing.

Be giving of yourself to others – – put some structure around your mentoring activities. Mentoring happens naturally inside CPA firms – enhance it and help others.

Sundays should be holidays – – When I began my career in a CPA firm, no one at our firm EVER worked on a Sunday. It had nothing to do with religion, specifically, it was just that our founder believed that everyone needed a day of rest, a time to recharge. The more hours you work in a week the bigger chance you will make errors or poor decisions.

Stop being negative – – I see this all the time.  I continually say to people working in CPA firms – STOP WHINING!  Public accounting is an honorable, prestigious career, you work with intelligent people, you work in beautiful offices, you make friends with other top-quality professionals, you get to see businesses grow and prosper (with your help), you become admired by others in the business community for your expertise – – focus on the positive!

  • Don't take life too seriously. You'll never get out of it alive.
  • Elbert Hubbard

Monday, November 19th, 2018

Treating People With “Ignore”

“Over and over I marvel at the blessings of my life: Each year has grown better than the last.” – Lawrence Welk

Do you have one of those people (usually a partner) in your firm that treats people with “ignore”?

They come in the front door in the morning and don’t say a word or make eye contact with anyone else. They hurriedly walk to their office.

They come into the break room first thing in the morning to get a cup of coffee, quickly pour it and exit without acknowledging the presence of several others in the room.

They rarely, if ever, even say good morning to anyone.

The rarely, if ever, say thank-you when a team member provides something for them or passes an assignment along to them for review.

If these descriptions sound like you, wake-up! Be aware! Show people you appreciate them and care about them.

If this is someone you know, do what I always do – “kill them with kindness!” Smile at them and always say “Good morning.” Ask, “How are you today?” Ask if there is anything you can help them with. Tell them a brief, amusing story about something happening within the firm.

Sometimes, their distant behavior might be caused by more serious things, things you are not aware of. Be kind and count your blessings, especially this week.

  • When you are grateful - when you can see what you have - you unlock blessings to flow in your life.
  • Suze Orman

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

Read Read Read

I love to read. I used to read almost every major new business book that came to my attention. Now, I read a much wider variety of things – books, articles, blogs, whitepapers, and tweets. I learn things from all of these that can be applied to the CPA profession.

As for business books. I sometimes get tired of the “new idea of the month” club. So, I widened my view of the world. I read thrillers, mysteries, science fiction, historical topics, biographies and sometimes Dave Barry, just to make me laugh.

I know what you are thinking. You don’t have time! Listen to audio books as you commute. Get up 30 minutes earlier and read while you drink your first cup of coffee. One day a week, skip lunch and read for an hour. Don’t sleep in on the weekends – get up early and read. When you flying, rather than watching a movie on your phone, read something.

Here are some great quotes about reading.

“Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren’t very new after all.” – Abraham Lincoln

“Books are mirrors. You only see in them what you already have inside of you.” – Carlos Zafon

“Classic – – a book which people praise and don’t read.” – Mark Twain

“If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.” – P. J. O’Rourke

  • If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.
  • Haruki Murakami