Archive for the ‘Crafting Your Career’ Category

Monday, March 11th, 2019

Make Friends

“If you win the rat race, you’re still a rat.” – Anna Quindlen

It is a common activity in the CPA profession. Firm leaders advise and encourage their managers and younger team members to get out there and network.

Attend every Chamber function. Take part in those non-profit fundraiser events. Don’t stand in a corner and eat or drink. Talk to people and exchange business cards. Add their name to your contact list.

It does rather seem like a merry-go-round. You go round and round and never get anywhere. That’s because gathering contacts is not making friends. Suzy Welch suggests a different approach. Rather than make contacts, make friends.

Meet people, sure. Find a few you actually like and build a friendship over time. People love to do business with friends. Hundreds of contacts rarely turn into friends who will recommend you and refer others to you.

  • A friend may be waiting behind a stranger's face.
  • Maya Angelou

Thursday, March 7th, 2019

Failure to Detect Fraud Webinar

“Rather fail with honor than succeed by fraud.” – Sophocles

Be sure to check out an upcoming webinar sponsored by CPAFMA (CPA Firm Management Association).

The Accountants Exposure To Litigation In Failure To Detect Fraud – MAPCast

Failure to detect fraud claims continue to happen against accounting firms and claims go beyond the scope of audit services. This session will discuss in an overview fashion what fraud is and steps you can take to hopefully mitigate this exposure. We will look at claim scenarios and discuss what could have been done to head off such claims.

Date: Thursday, March 21, 2019

Click here for more information.

  • There is no success without hardship.
  • Sophocles

Thursday, February 28th, 2019

Pass The CPA Exam This Year

“Striving for success without hard work is like trying to harvest where you haven’t planted.” ~ David Bly

Are you experiencing your first year working for a CPA firm? I imagine one very important thing is on your mind…. passing the CPA Exam!

There are a lot of questions still on your mind about the Exam and how to pass it. A recent blog post by Canopy provides an amazing amount of information about the Uniform CPA Examination®. It is titled, Everything Graduating Students Need to Know About the CPA Exam.

The blog post answers ten of the most relevant questions students have about the exam.

Thanks to Canopy for featuring some of my comments in this helpful post. 

If you have already passed the Exam – share this with the newbies in your firm!

 

  • Having the Certified Public Accountant designation is one of the most prestigious things you can accomplish in your professional life. Nothing worthwhile is easy.
  • Rita Keller

Wednesday, February 27th, 2019

Clarity

“It’s a lack of clarity that creates chaos and frustration. Those emotions are poison to any living goal.” – – Steve Maraboli

Accounting firm partners want their team members to meet their expectations when it comes to job performance. Do the team members know, specifically, what is expected of them? From my many interactions with accounting firm leaders, I have found that they do not provide clarity when it comes to performance.

When an employee is not meeting expectations, almost everyone in the firm knows before that specific employee knows. It seems that partners are very uncomfortable addressing the issues directly with the individual.

Firm leaders must do a better job of clearly communicating what success looks like. Be prepared to tell a team member exactly what you expect them to do and what you expect them NOT to do. Have a private conversation with any team member you observe doing something they need to change. Do it immediately when you observe the undesirable behavior. Don’t discuss it with others and delay the conversation for weeks, months or years!

  • Mystification is simple; clarity is the hardest thing of all.
  • Julian Barnes

Monday, February 25th, 2019

Have A Grateful Week

“You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

I remind you often to remember to simply say, “thank-you” to your team members. No matter what your role in the firm, say it to each other. It means a lot from the boss but it also means a lot from a peer. Sometimes, it is even shocking when an employee says thanks to the boss.

On a recent blog post by Grammarly, they noted that it’s nice to form a thank-you in a different way, rather than the usual thanks or thanks so much.

Here are some alternatives, use them this week.

  • Thank you for all your hard work on this.
  • Thanks again we couldn’t have pulled this off without you.
  • Thank you, you’re amazing!
  • I’m so thankful for everything you bring to the table.
  • Thank you kindly.
  • Thanks a million.
  • Many thanks.
  • Warmest thanks.
  • I truly appreciate your hard work.
  • I truly appreciate you.

Plus, there are more. Read them here.

I am “beyond grateful” that you read this blog!

  • Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.
  • Aesop

Friday, February 22nd, 2019

Personal Connection

“Success without fulfillment is the ultimate failure.” – Tony Robbins

Many studies are now telling us that the way to fully engage employees is all the usual things like compensation and flexible work hours and also human connection.

Maybe you have observed that accountants are not always the “warm and fuzzy” type. Most are technical, traditional, knowledgeable, professional and conservative in their actions and words.

As firm leaders, it is up to you to help develop a firm culture of caring and trust. Don’t forget to have some fun in your culture, too.

CPAs in public practice are very concerned with time. This sometimes leads to them not devoting enough time to develop a personal connection with their own employees. They seem to do better with relationships with clients because they see that as part of their job.

Often, new college graduates enter a firm and they immediately begin on a regime of grinding out work and putting in the hours it takes in busy season.

There is no time for the warm and fuzzy stuff. Leaders must get past this scenario. That’s one reason why firms need to immediately focus on mentoring relationships with new hires. Each employee needs someone who cares about them professionally and personally.

Fulfillment is the new standard for employee engagement, according to a separate PwC report. The results showed that the hallmark of a positive employee experience is a sense of belonging, progress toward a goal and personal growth.

Read more about this topic and about various studies that support it.

  • It is not in the pursuit of happiness that we find fulfillment, it is in the happiness of pursuit.
  • Denis Waitley

Monday, February 18th, 2019

Twitter – Use it to learn and gain knowledge

“Social media is not a media. The key is to listen, engage, and build relationships.” – David Alston

I first began using Twitter in April 2008. Hard to believe that it has been that long ago.

I continue to use Twitter every business day. Why? Because I find it very helpful and, hopefully, my followers find that what I tweet helps them. As of yesterday, I had made 16,641 tweets.

I believe that a constant stream of informative and positive tweets helps me know more, learn more and stay connected to current events in the CPA profession.

I try to tweet about 6 or 7 times per day and I read tweets only 2 or 3 times per day – usually early morning and late afternoon. When I see a tweet that is relevant and helpful to CPAs, I often retweet it.

My advice is to not follow TOO many people. Select people who are involved in the CPA profession. I also like to follow people who communicate about leadership. I follow a news source (NPR) but not many others because news becomes so negative. Still, you need to be aware of current events. Of course, I also follow some friends and family.

Try using a tool like Hootsuite to consolidate your Twitter streams. It makes it easy to quickly scan through the Twitter users you follow and retweet them if you like.

I know, you don’t want another distraction, but used cautiously it can keep you in the know. I often follow various management conferences and I feel like I am actually there.

So, if you do not have a Twitter account, sign-up now. You don’t have to tweet anything, just use it to read what others are saying. I never follow anyone who is negative or political – I strictly use it to keep up with current trends in leadership and the CPA profession. Visit my Twitter page and you can see who I follow.

I hope if you do have a Twitter account that you will follow me@cpamanagement.

  • Conversations are happening whether you are there or not.
  • Kim Garst

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