Archive for the ‘Crafting Your Career’ Category

Monday, August 24th, 2020

Want More Time?

“The really expert riders of horses let the horse know immediately who is in control, but then guide the horse with loose reins and seldom use the spurs.” – Sandra Day O’Connor

There is a very simple answer to my question in today’s title. One word – DELEGATE.

If you delegate you will have more time to focus on what you should be doing.

In so many firms I see partners doing manager work and managers doing staff work and staff stuck doing the same old thing year after year.

In the CPA firm environment, you should alway be asking yourself, “What am I doing that someone else could do?” Or, the classic CPA question, “What am I doing that someone with a lower billing rate can easily do?”

If you keep doing work for them, staff will never evolve to a higher skill level. In an accounting firm, young accountants learn by doing more difficult assignments. Short-term you may be able to do it better but where does that get you long-term?

Sad to say, your firm might end up merging up because there is no one skilled enough to replace the current partners.

If you work at it and discipline yourself to delegate much of the current work you do, your firm will grow and prosper because the partners and managers have time to market, sell and bring in new business (and mentor younger staff).

  • If you want to do a few small things right, do them yourself. If you want to do great things and make a big impact, learn to delegate.
  • John C. Maxwell

Friday, August 21st, 2020

Repeated Mistakes

“When you repeat a mistake, it is not a mistake anymore: it is a decision.” – Paulo Coelho

One comment I hear over and over again from clients and others in the CPA profession is that very often, new people continue to make the same mistakes over and over again.

The solution often turns out to be that the reviewer of the work “fixes” the mistakes and moves the job along the workflow system. Reviewers should send the work back to the preparer (for obvious reasons).

If you are new to working in the CPA profession, read this flashback post about repeating a mistake. It is titled New Beginnings.

  • When you make a mistake, there are only three things you should ever do about it: admit it, learn from it, and don’t repeat it.
  • Paul Bear Bryant

Friday, August 14th, 2020

Plan Your Agenda – Flashback Friday

“Be strategic about productivity. Do less exceptionally well, instead of doing more in an average way.” – Laurie Buchanan

Don’t let the day-to-day issues take over your retreat.

Here’s a post from August 2019.

  • If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up somewhere else.
  • Yogi Berra

Tuesday, August 11th, 2020

Getting Started

“I learned a long time ago that there is something worse than missing the goal, and that’s not pulling the trigger.” – Mia Hamm

Think back to when you were a child. Part of growing up is exploring your world. A child sees a creek and wades in to cross it. A child sees a tree and doesn’t hesitate to climb it. There is no fear of failure.

Accountants have a reputation for being careful, cautious, and conservative. As a leader, do you always begin cautiously, avoiding risk at all costs? Does indecision prohibit you from action?

We are living in a bold new world. As the old saying goes, “he who hesitates is lost.”

We are going into fall. It is a time for reflection and, more importantly, a time to take action to prepare your firm for 2021. Modify that accountant reputation – – Be careful, cautious, conservative and yet, decisive and bold

  • Eighty percent of success is just showing up.
  • Woody Allen

Monday, August 3rd, 2020

Act Upon Your Ideas

“Without hustle talent will only carry you so far.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

It is so exciting to go to a conference (or attend virtually) and obtain all kinds of ideas that spark your own ideas. You are invigorated, enthused, and committed to meeting with others on your team and sharing your ideas and intentions.

Then you get sidelined. The phone rings and a client or two or three need something and that seems more important than your idea. You will take care of these clients needs and then work more on that great idea.

Then you get sidelined. Your partners remind you that you have to get that selection of a new software finalized. You have to deal with performance feedback sessions and then you will work more on that great idea.

Someone else in thee firm talks about a great idea that is similar to yours. They work on getting others involved and soon that great ideas is becoming reality.

They found the time to get it done. You did not. They made it a top priority. You did not. You intended to do it but they made the time and succeeded.

Have you ever, in a meeting, a class or a training session, whispered a great comment to the person sitting next to you, and then they raise their hand and vocalize the great comment? It happened to some of us in high school or college. It happened to some of us in a staff meeting. It makes you feel sad and resentful.

Next time, raise your hand, speak up, and take action. You have the time, you just did not make it a top priority. Intending to get it done someday is no longer an option.

  • The dream is free. The hustle is sold separately.
  • Steve Harvey

Monday, July 27th, 2020

It’s Not Easy

“People who coddle you don’t believe in you.” – Dan Rockwell

Today’s quotation is meaningful for those of you (us) working in the CPA profession.

It takes a lot of effort and hard work to succeed in public accounting. Yes, you gain knowledge and experience through hard work. But, another ingredient will almost certainly assure that you reach your potential.

That ingredient is not a thing, it’s a person. You need someone who cares about your success and pushes you to do things that you never previously imagined you could.

Personally, I believe the success I achieved over the years is because specific individuals pushed, coaxed, and urged me to do more, learn more and accomplish more. It meant that I tackled some uncomfortable challenges that turned out to be very beneficial to my career success.

In my early years, I learned that I really enjoyed working for/with someone who had high expectations. I guess my own self-motivation just wasn’t quite enough.

Find a mentor, boss, coach, or even a peer who is not afraid to push you and help you set some lofty goals. Stay away from those that make it easy for you.

  • Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so shall you become.
  • John Ruskin

Friday, July 24th, 2020

Is It Time To Retire? – Flashback Friday

This week, for Flashback Friday, I have selected a post from February, this year. It was before the you-know-what hit the fan. Maybe retirement is now on your mind more than ever.

Here’s the post:

IS IT TIME TO ACTUALLY RETIRE?

In yesterday’s blog post I mentioned that I had recently re-read Tuesdays with Morrie.

One of Morrie’s wise sayings was:

“Don’t let go too soon, but don’t hang on too long.”

He was talking about life. To me, because I have worked with so many Baby Boomer CPAs over the years, it is something that applies to their retirement.

Many are in denial about retirement. They plan to work until they drop. Very short-sighted, indeed. There is so much more in life to experience if you wish it so.

Several situations I know about involve partners retiring but they do not quit working at the firm.

A couple of others involve 80-somethings continuing to come into the office even though they are not able to use the technology any longer.

My advice: Don’t hang on too long.

  • It's not too late to develop new friendships or reconnect with people.
  • Morrie Schwartz

Thursday, July 23rd, 2020

Helping

“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” – Maya Angelou

The above quote is another one that immediately reminded me of CPAs.

When you are a recent college graduate with an accounting degree you just want to get hired and begin to explore your career in public accounting. It is an exciting time, a stressful time. You work hard, and often long hours, to become more knowledgeable and to gain skills in dealing with clients, peers and bosses. It takes both hands… and a lot more.

Helping is a word to keep in mind as you advance in your career. When you began, you soon discovered that you were needed to help others. You became the person that new hires came to with questions and depended on for guidance.

When you became a manager and then, perhaps, a partner, you found that you had matured and began to think more like the above quote. You do not sell something to clients, you help them become more successful. You still use one hand to advance your own success but you never forget to use the other hand to mentor and coach your team and to advise and guide your clients.

  • No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.
  • Charles Dickens

Tuesday, July 21st, 2020

COOs, Firm Administrators, Marketing & HR Directors

“That leadership is influence, nothing more nothing less”.  – John Maxwell

In the CPA firm world, if you are a support professional such as a firm administrator/practice manager, COO, HR director, marketing director, or chief information officer, you are not a partner in the firm.

Yet, you are a leader and although you might not have the power that goes along with being a partner, you have something that is just as powerful. You have influence. You gain influence by being a role model.

You can accomplish just as much, and probably more, with influence as the partners can with power. You use positive affirmation and encouragement to get people to do things and to buy-in to change.

You lead with influence by getting to know people. You are the one who knows everyone’s name, their spouse’s name, and even their kids’ names. You always have a positive attitude. You are a mentor to others, officially and unofficially. Recognizing people is something you continually do.

You also use your great power of influence in an upward manner. You might not be able TO MAKE partners change but you can apply constant, gentle, pressure to influence them to change. It works!

So, don’t worry about power. Utilize the influence you have and use it to your advantage and to move your firm and its people forward.

  • Setting an example is not the main means of influencing another, it is the only means.
  • Albert Einstein

Wednesday, July 15th, 2020

How Do You Come Across?

“Let us be more simple and less vain.” – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

I recently read an eye-opening article via HBR titled, “Working with People Who Aren’t Self-Aware.” Guess what? It describes many people I have met in the CPA profession!

How many of your partners are not self-aware? HBR discovered that although 95% of people think they are self-aware, only 10 to 15% actually are.

A staff person in a client firm described a partner as being un-self-aware. The partner talked too much, just constant chatter about his ideas and opinions that were more important than anyone else’s. In a two-person conversation with this partner, you could turn your back, go back to work on your computer and the partner would simply continue to talk, talk, talk, never realizing that you had heard enough!

Some of your un-self-aware team members can be helped. First, find out how others feel so you can determine if they are really unaware.

Here’s a list from the article:

  • They won’t listen to, or accept, critical feedback.
  • They cannot empathize with, or take perspective of, others.
  • They have difficulty “reading a room” and tailoring their message to their audience.
  • They possess an inflated opinion of their contributions and performance.
  • They are hurtful to others without realizing it.
  • They take credit for successes and blame other for failures.

There is a big difference between the unaware and the Aware-Don’t-Care individuals. Read the entire article to see if you can help the people in your firm who are not self-aware. You might not cure them but you can minimize their impact.

I believe most CPAs are self-aware and care about others. The people who are Aware-Don’t-Care people usually don’t last long in an accounting firm.

  • Humility is nothing but truth, and pride is nothing but lying.
  • St. Vincent de Paul