Archive for the ‘Crafting Your Career’ Category

Friday, May 29th, 2020

The Power of Recognition

“I can no other answer make but thanks, and thanks, and ever thanks.” – William Shakespeare

This week for my Friday Flashback post, I hope you will take a few minutes to read about the importance of “Hello. Good Morning. Thank-you.”

It’s a post from April 2014 and it still applies today. You might even find the 3-minute video helpful that is referenced in the post.

You are probably beginning to welcome people back into the office. Keep in mind that your people need appreciation and recognition, in person, and also when they are working remotely.

Have a great weekend.

  • We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.
  • Cynthia Ozick

Thursday, May 21st, 2020

Are You Also Responsible for Marketing?

“Business has only two functions – marketing and innovation.” – – Milan Kundera

Many firm administrators and managing partners are also charged with the role of Marketing Director. The vast majority of CPA firms are not of the size to support a full-time Marketing Director. If your firm is large enough, I am sure your Marketing Director is one of the busiest people in your firm.

Whether you are a smaller firm or larger firm, it takes discipline to effectively market your practice and reinforce your brand. A few years ago we thought Fall was marketing season for CPA firms. Today, it is a 24/7/365 activity.

Go through some simple exercises with all partners and managers:

  • Gather information about your firm’s uniqueness in your market. Identify any weaknesses and focus on strengths.
  • Make a list of each CPA and each community or charitable organization where they are active. Are there, key, high profile organizations where your firm is absent?
  • Have each CPA list their referral sources (bankers, attorneys, etc.) and identify the referrals they have given you in the last year. Are you referring more their way than they are your way? Are there some of the same referral sources on everyone’s list and some powerful ones that are missing altogether?
  • Have each CPA (no matter what their title) create a marketing action plan and report each month on their activities.
  • Hold pipeline meetings at least monthly.

Don’t let summer (or a pandemic) cause a lapse in vigorous attention to marketing activities. See my post from yesterday!

The Association for Accounting Marketing‘s annual conference has been canceled this year but you or your marketing director should put next year’s conference on your calendar. Here’s the message on their website:

We regret to announce the cancelation of our 2020 Summit due to the current projections of the coronavirus pandemic. We will hold our next Summit at the Loews Hotel in Philadelphia, May 24-27, 2021. We will announce when registration opens for 2021.

  • Content is fire, social media is gasoline.
  • Jay Baer

Friday, May 15th, 2020

Flashback Friday – There is more you need to know

“The sooner, the better!” – Franklin W. Dixon, author of The Hardy Boys

If you are NOT a young CPA, I hope you will share this flashback post with a young CPA.

There is more to being a CPA than knowing the technical work!

Young CPAs – Start Sooner!

Much of this can certainly apply to more experienced CPAs, too.

  • Most people would sooner die than think, in fact, they do so.
  • Bertrand Russell

Thursday, May 14th, 2020

Optimism

“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” – Winston Churchill

I have observed that many CPAs are pessimists.

I have talked to many CPAs, usually managers, who are what I call Eeyores. In their mind, it is always something negative, bad or frustrating….. ” Oh, me, oh my, the sky is falling” type people.

Pessimism won’t get you very far. There is no time like the present to give the gift of optimism to yourself. You can do it – simply change your outlook and mindset. Don’t spoil the present with doom, gloom, worry, and despair.

You know if you are a pessimist. Others have most likely told you. Listen to them and learn. Become more hopeful because hopeful people always get more done. Become a recovering pessimist. It won’t be easy but you can do it.

  • Don't blame me if it rains.
  • A.A. Milne (Eeyore)

Tuesday, April 28th, 2020

The Firm Administrator’s Job

“You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” – Jeff Bezos

When I read the above quote I thought of CPA firm administrators.

Firm administrators (or Practice Managers) are at the hub of all the tough management challenges inside a busy CPA firm. Tasks flow out the spokes and when the road becomes bumpy it flows back down the spoke to the hub – the firm administrator.

Recently, they were in the thick of things when it came to getting the firm equipped, very quickly, so that the team members could work remotely to serve clients at the busiest time of year.

They have worked long and hard and they showed they could handle the “hard things well.”

Experience is key. Now that your firm is making its way through a pandemic, the next crisis that arises for your firm will be handled with even more skill and expertise.

Firm administrators are on a constant journey to try and do things well and enhance their reputation. It is a journey that will never end.

The quote above also applies to every team member directly serving clients. Are your clients amazed at how you handle things that seem very hard to them? I hope so.

  • Procrastination makes easy things hard, hard things harder.
  • Mason Cooley

Thursday, April 23rd, 2020

Virtual Meeting Dress Code

“A good first impression can work wonders.” – J. K. Rowling

This one will make you smile. Maybe it will make you feel guilty.

According to Suzanne Lucas @RealEvilHRLady, judges appreciate it if lawyers and their clients remembered that Zoom hearings are just that: hearings.

The people involved should dress the part. It seems that many attorneys are appearing inappropriately dressed for these hearings – one male attorney appeared shirtless and a female attorney appeared while in bed. The Florida Bar Association has even added a pop-up message to their website reminding attorneys that Zoom hearings are not casual conversations.

Lucas’ article via Inc. explains how maybe you need a virtual dress code and other guidelines for Zoom meetings.

If you are fairly new to video meetings and conversations you might not realize how you appear to others. Of course, looking like you are in a business frame-of-mind helps – a nice shirt, blouse, sweater, etc.

Lighting is also very important – if you do not have sufficient light shining on your face, you can come across as some dark, threatening zombie. Don’t forget about your background. A bookcase or painting in your home office works well but the headboard of your bed does not.

Being a professional service firm dealing with people’s financial matters might be enough reason for a Zoom dress code for internal meetings and another one for external client meetings. Think about it and read the article for some simple internal/external meeting guidelines.

  • We don't know where our first impressions come from or precisely what they mean, so we don't always appreciate their fragility.
  • Malcolm Gladwell

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2020

Managers, If You See It, Say It

“Be factual and consistent.” – Suzanne Lucas

For firm administrators and practice managers in CPA firms, it is an old familiar story. All of this story is pre-COVID, of course, but much of it still applies to remote workers.

A partner goes to the firm administrator and says that when he arrived this morning at 8:30, he noticed that Susie was standing at Patty’s desk chatting. It bothers him that they have most likely been chatting since 8:00, and they were still chatting at 8:45. He wants you to talk to them.

A tax manager lets you, the firm administrator, know that Bobbi who works in the accounting area is not following the firm’s dress code. She wants you to talk to Bobbi.

Ted, the new staff accountant, was suppose to take some important mail to the Post Office. The manager found out that he didn’t make the trip to the actual Post Office, he just dropped it in the mailbox near his home at the Mall. It wouldn’t be picked up until late morning the next day. The manager wants you to talk to Ted…. because you are so good at it!

In larger firms, the job of communicating this kind of message is often given to the HR Director.

Communicating these kinds of messages – you don’t adhere to the dress code, you don’t use your time wisely or you don’t follow specific instructions – is not a fun task.

In progressive, well-managed firms, whenever possible, the partner/manager should deal with these situations directly. It’s their job to manage people.

Per Suzanne Lucas @RealEvilHRLady: It’s a manager’s job to manage, and part of managing is telling people that their clothes are inappropriate, or that they should shower more often or chew with their mouths shut. Yes, their parents should have taken care of that, but sometimes kids just don’t listen.

Read her interesting article here.

  • We are shaped by our conversations.
  • Robin S. Sharma

Friday, April 17th, 2020

Stale and Repetitive – Flashback Friday

“Repetition doesn’t create memories. New experiences do.” – Brian Chesky

Young accountants entering public accounting are often given the same type of work – it’s repetitive.

They are also asked to work on the same client engagement for several years in a row – it’s repetitive.

Managers often cling to the more challenging work because they need to be productive, too.

Don’t let this happen. Read more here.

  • If we did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.
  • Thomas Edison

Thursday, April 16th, 2020

Don’t Waste Dollars On Coaching

“Procrastination is one of the most common and deadliest of diseases and its toll on success and happiness is heavy.” – Wayne Gretzky

Progressive accounting firms invest in their people. They are not stingy when it comes to sending the right people to the right conferences. They are aware of the needs of their team and invest in the proper CPE to help them improve their technical skills. They send their Practice Manager to CPA management conferences such as the CPAFMA annual conference. (This year’s has, of course, been canceled. The next conference will be in Sarasota, November 9-11, 2021.)

These successful, growing firms also invest in individual mentoring/coaching for their partners, managers and others. Especially with partners, these significant dollars are wasted. They have no intention of changing.

There is a great article via HBR titled, 4 Signs an Executive Isn’t Ready for Coaching. Here are the 4 signs – be sure to read the entire article that gives details on each of the signs.

  1. They blame external factors for their problems.
  2. You can’t get on their calendar.
  3. They focus too much on tips and tactics.
  4. They delay getting started with a coach to “do more research” or “find the right person.”
  • Nothing will work unless you do.
  • John Wooden

Monday, April 13th, 2020

Work Habits of CPA Partners

“Without ambition one starts nothing. Without work, one finishes nothing. The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Many non-partner CPAs and others working in or advising the CPA profession have said that partners work too many hours.

Advisors have been saying for years that your young CPAs won’t want to become a partner because they see the partners setting the wrong example – they work too hard and too many hours.

A recent article via HBR stated that, based on a study, top CEOs of public companies work an average of 62.5 hours per week. CEOs are always on, and there is always more to be done. Think about how that statement applies to your partners, especially the managing partner, the executive committee, etc.

If you want to be a partner someday, keep in mind that you will have two roles, owner and employee. Non-partner CPAs in public practice work with clients. Yes, they have some additional roles by serving on committees or special task forces for the firm but mainly, they help clients.

Partners serve clients and their second job – which maybe should be their first job – is running an efficient, effective and profitable business – the firm. They are paid well if the firm is successful. Their employees are paid well if the firm is successful.

If you are critical of your partners, keep in mind, they are always on, and there is always more to be done.

You might find the HBR article interesting – How CEOs Manage Time.

  • I am focused on the work. I am constantly creating. I am a busy girl. I live and breathe my work. I love what I do. I believe in the message. There’s no stopping.
  • Lady Gaga