Archive for the ‘Crafting Your Career’ Category

Wednesday, October 31st, 2018

The Problem With People

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” – Desmond Tutu

I rarely repost someone else’s blog post. I have only done it with Seth Godin’s posts. His recent blog post speaks to all of us at one time or another.

Perhaps, you are new to your firm, trying to learn how to become a successful CPA. Maybe you are a new partner assessing how you can make a difference within the group. With merger mania, maybe you and your firm have been acquired by another firm and things feel very different and troubling.

The Problem With People Is That They Outnumber You

It doesn’t make any sense to spend your life proving them wrong, it’s a losing battle.

Far more effective is the endless work of building connection, forming alliances and finding the very best you can in those you engage with.

You can’t possibly know what it’s like to be someone else, but it’s also true that no one knows what it’s like to be you.

One more reason to put in the effort to find the good.

  • Life becomes easier and more beautiful when we can see the good in other people.
  • Roy T. Bennett

Monday, October 22nd, 2018

Have You Been Promoted to a Leadership Position?

“You can’t escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” – Abraham Lincoln

Have you just been hired as a Firm Administrator? Have you just been promoted to a manager-level position in your firm?
Have you been “one of the team,” whether it is the accounting team or the administrative team, and all of a sudden you are now in a position of visible leadership?

Things have changed. You must act differently now. You can compare it to being a passenger in a car or being the driver.

Passengers have more freedom to do things that drivers can’t do. As a passenger, you can cut-up, listen to loud music, focus on the passing landscape, eat snacks and generally horse-around with other passengers. The driver has to focus on the road and not get distracted. As a driver, you no longer have the right to goof around.

The same thing applies as you become a manager. You are no longer a passenger, you are the driver. Your responsibilities increase and, yes, you lose some freedoms you may have enjoyed as a passenger.

Example: If you are the manager, you don’t have the right to join in the whining about the topic of the day with the other staff. As a manager, you do not gossip or complain about upper management. When you are the manager you no longer have the right to blame others for a problem. You no longer have the right to avoid issues or choose to not make a decision. As a manager, the buck stops with you.

You even lose control of your time because you are responsible for other people’s time (as well as your own).

The first managing partner I worked for put it very simply to me when I got my very first promotion. He was the founder and a very traditional, hard-working, old-school CPA managing partner.

He said to me, “You are now on salary and part of management. You need to work whatever hours it takes to get the job done.” I knew a change had occurred. I was no longer a passenger.

  • Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?
  • George Carlin

Monday, October 15th, 2018

Influencing Others

“We never know which lives we influence, or when, or why.” – Stephen King
Per Forbes, here are some tips on how leaders can influence others. Influence is a very important aspect of getting things done inside an accounting firm. You might not have actual power but you can have an amazing amount of influence no matter what your role is at the firm.
Leadership and the 7 I’s For Influencing Others
  1. Identify the results you want.
  2. Illustrate your credibility.
  3. Invest the time in getting to know the people you wish to influence.
  4. Invite them to share their ideas.
  5. Investigate options that lead you to common ground.
  6. Intend an outcome that meets everyone’s needs.
  7. Improvise as needed.
You can read more about each of the 7 I’s here.
  • Never mistake the power of influence.
  • Jim Rohn

Friday, October 12th, 2018

In a Hurry?

Lots of experts tell us that millennials want to know how fast they will be promoted. While I agree that you must be able to explain how a career path plays out at your firm, I wonder if a bit of reality might be in order.

Reading the following quote made me realize what a long journey it is to build relationships, learn, and keep current, on loads of technical issues, become well-known in your business community and also build a reputation as “the expert” in a certain discipline.

“It took me fifteen years to make it look easy.” – Fred Astaire

I am not saying that it should take 15 years to become a partner. I am saying that after you do become a partner you must continue to learn, grow and develop ways to make what you do look easy.

  • Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.
  • Marie Curie

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018

Performance Agreement

“People don’t get promoted for doing their jobs really well, they get promoted by demonstrating their potential to do more.” – Tara Jaye Frank.

You know all about performance, right? In your firm, you often talk about performance feedback or pay for performance.

The meaning of performance is varied but for our purpose, we take it to mean the execution of an action, something accomplished, or the fulfillment of a claim, promise or request.

Your employees want to know what you expect of them. Young people entering the profession want to know what their career path looks like. Maybe you should be using performance agreements to clarify what is expected.

A performance agreement is a tool that establishes expectations and accountability for the execution of certain performance standards. Performance agreements must clearly state agreed-upon objectives and how these will be measured.

Learn about the benefits of performance agreements and what points they should contain here (via Mindtools)

  • A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.
  • Mahatma Gandhi.

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2018

Plan Ahead & Don’t Disappoint

“Punctuality is the politeness of kings.” – Louis XVIII

Life inside an accounting firm can be very hectic at times. When you arrive at the office, you have great plans for your day and expectations of what you will accomplish.

Then, you-know-what happens.

Suddenly, you realize you probably can’t make that meeting with a client, a team member or an employee. You will just have to reschedule that phone conference with the Chair of a committee you are on at a non-profit organization.

Rather than disappoint and cancel on someone at the last minute, make time toward the end of the week to look ahead at the following week’s schedule. Are you over-scheduled? Can you realistically squeeze in that client visit or meeting with the tax committee? Don’t over schedule yourself. If you must cancel or reschedule, give them plenty of notice.

People count on you. Their time is valuable, too. Don’t be a Last Minute Larry or a Procrastinating Polly.

  • Tardiness often robs us opportunity, and the dispatch of our forces.
  • Machiavelli

Monday, October 1st, 2018

I Love Small Firms

“A big business starts small.” – Richard Branson

I have heard the following numbers mentioned by consultants and AICPA leaders many times. I also use them often. I like to make people working in public accounting aware of the numbers.

There are approximately 46,000 CPA firms in the USA and the 500th largest firm has about 20 people and $3M in revenue. Most recently, I read these numbers via Accounting today in an article by Edward Mendlowitz of Withum. He also notes that small firms outnumber large firms 91 to 1.

In the article, I discovered that he and I have something in common. We like to focus our consulting efforts on smaller firms.

Over the years I have worked directly with over 100 firms and advised and spoken to thousands of CPAs, firm administrators, HR directors, marketing directors and, IT managers. I have a large following for my daily blog and tweets. I have found, much like Mr. Mendlowitz, that small firms need help.

These firms, unlike the larger firms, aren’t big enough to justify hiring full-time support professionals such as HR, marketing, and management professionals. They need and are willing to pay for outside resources that will help them manage better and improve operations.

I find leaders of smaller firms interesting, enthusiastic and receptive to new ideas and methods. Yet, much like accountants in larger firms, they find it very challenging to implement.

Be sure to read the article in the link above.

  • I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.
  • Steve Jobs

Wednesday, September 26th, 2018

Compensation & Succession

“Do your job and demand your compensation – but in that order.” – Cary Grant

Here’s a heads-up regarding two upcoming webinars sponsored by CPA Leadership Institute and presented by Gary Adamson of Adamson Advisory. These two topics are usually at the top of the list of partner issues.

Here’s the information regarding date, time and topic:

October 4, 2018 – 1:00 – 1:50 pm EST – Partner Compensation Methods and Trends Update
I will discuss the most common compensation systems in use today and provide my perspective as a former managing partner of a top 200 firm. I will help you determine what is right for your firm and how a firm evolves from one system to the next as it grows. I will also give you some tips on setting up a performance-based system in your firm and how to align your compensation system to your firm’s strategic plan.
October 10, 2018 – 1:00 – 1:50 pm EST – Surviving Succession – Partner Buyout and Retirement.
If you’re like most firms, your partner agreements have not been reviewed or updated in a long time. That is dangerous given the succession issues in our profession today and the number of baby boomers retiring. I will discuss best practices and latest trends in how to value your practice, how to pay out the retiring partner, building your bench, and successful client transition to the next generation.
  • Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.
  • Alan Lakein, author

Tuesday, September 25th, 2018

John Wooden Methods

“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?” – John Wooden

I have used many of John Wooden’s quotations in my blog posts over the years and have mentioned his extraordinary coaching methods several times. The best thing is that Wooden’s coaching basketball methods extend to life AND to life inside a busy accounting firm.

A secret to his success, something that you might not be aware of, is one thing: old-fashioned practice, efficiently run, well-planned, and intentionally executed. Doesn’t that sound like how an audit/review should be done?

Things Wooden did:

  • Noted where racks should be placed so no time was wasted looking for a ball
  • Had players practice shooting without a ball
  • How to put on socks
  • Timed his practices to the minute so time was precisely allocated
  • Kept a record of every practice on notecards – so he could determine what worked and what didn’t
  • Had his players repeat drills until they achieved mastery and then automaticity
  • I’d rather have a lot of talent and a little experience than a lot of experience and a little talent.
  • John Wooden

Monday, September 24th, 2018

Hard Worker

“I have no time to waste.” – Jamie Lee Curtis

Are you really a hard worker or do you just spend too much time in the office? When you are there (in the office), are you hustling or are you pacing yourself?

I recently read an interview with Jamie Lee Curtis in Good Housekeeping magazine. I could relate to one response she made – she likes elbow grease – here are some of her comments that might inspire you.

Wash your own car.

A little sweat now will earn you a rewarding rest later. “I’m a hard worker. I’m a hustler,” says Jamie Lee. “I like to invent things, and I like elbow grease. I wash my own car — why have other people do it while I sit on a bench watching them? I want sweat equity. I want it in my mothering, I want it in my marital-ing, I want it in my family-ing, I want it in my friend-ing. You tell me you’re moving, I will show up on moving day. There will be a point where I want to relax and not worry so much about my sweat equity — when I’ve earned my rest.”

Once you have made manager, once you have made partner, are you somewhat resting? Is it below you to fill the printer with paper? Do you clean up your mess at the coffee station? Do you return a client’s phone call within two hours?

By the way, I do not wash my own car!

  • If you have creative ideas and you don’t bring them out into the world in some way before you go, that is a tragedy.
  • Jamie Lee Curtis