Archive for the ‘Firm Administrator’ Category

Wednesday, July 21st, 2021

Steady On

“Frantic work is never your best work.” – Dan Rockwell

I enjoy reading tweets and blog posts by @LeadershipFreak (Dan Rockwell). His recent one, A Dairy Farmer’s Path to Success, has many good lessons for accountants. I especially liked the following excerpt:

Steady on:

I asked a farmer how he was doing and he said, “Steady on.”

You never see a farmer running around like a chicken with its head cut off. (Apologies to chickens.)

Days are long on the farm, so you pace yourself. Medium speed allows you to work all day.

Frantic work is never your best work.

Read the blog post from Dan to learn more success tips from dairy farmers.

  • The future isn’t predictable. Instead, it’s created by informed decisions, bold action, and agile responses.
  • Dan Rockwell

Thursday, July 1st, 2021

Improve Your Productivity & Focus

If you want to be more productive, you need to become master of your minutes.” – Crystal Paine

Have you heard of the Pomodoro method? According to an article I read, it has helped millions of people to become more productive and improve their time management skills.

Plus, according to a very efficient friend of mine who has worked in the CPA profession for years, it has really worked for her.

Also from the web: The Pomodoro Technique is a time management system that encourages people to work with the time they have—rather than against it. Using this method, you break your workday into 25-minute chunks separated by five-minute breaks. These intervals are referred to as pomodoros.

It reminds me of a method practiced by my former marketing director. She would have a pressing task and would be down to a deadline. She would say, “I’m going to play Beat the Clock.” That meant she would completely focus for one hour (usually typing or researching something) and get what she could done in one hour. I have tried it at various times and it worked for me. Sometimes you just agonize over things too long!

  • Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.
  • Paul J. Meyer

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2021

Knowing The Whole Story

“Fortunate is he who understands the cause of things.” – Virgil

When I read the above quotation in a book I am reading (The Pioneers by David McCullough), I was reminded how CPA firm leaders often misunderstand or are in the dark about “the cause of things.”

If you are working in a CPA firm, you know that the grapevine is usually very active. For example:

  • Three partners meet in one of their offices with the door closed. The grapevine activates.
  • A senior accountant is unusually dressed-up for the day and leaves early. The grapevine activates.
  • An intern claims he is sick two Mondays in a row. The grapevine activates.

Leaders are often faced with challenges that seem straight-forward and uncomplicated. Do you really know the backstory – what led up to the event?

A person gives their notice and seems untroubled and apparently moving on to a better opportunity. Do you know what led up to the departure, the cause?

Sally, the receptionist, is always late. You must address it. Do you know the cause, the backstory?

Are you doing surveys to determine how your people feel about remote work or hybrid work? Some firms are experiencing several resignations (people moving on the what they think are better jobs). Remember, “Fortunate is he who knows the cause of things.”

  • They can because they think they can.
  • Virgil

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2021

Your Influence & Focus

“The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.” – John Maynard Keynes

Summer is here and you have a mix of priorities on your work and life calendars. Usually, firms are doing performance feedback sessions and assessing what needs to be improved before the next busy season. You are also, personally, planning some stress-relieving vacation time.

As a managing partner, firm administrator, HR director, etc., I urge you not to lose sight of some important activities. Be sure to use your influence and focus on key firm issues. Here’s a listing for you to consider:

  • I'm open for possibilities. I'm open for choices. I always welcome new ideas. I'm always eager to learn. I'm never going to close my mind to learning
  • Cesar Millan

Thursday, June 17th, 2021

Firm Administrators – Be Calm

“One leads by calm.” – a French maxim

I don’t need to say this to you, but life inside a busy, growing CPA firm can be hectic and stressful. There are always looming due dates, other “hot” jobs, and various tasks to handle for the partner group.

Your team can always sense when you are NOT calm. They know when you are worrying or even when you are depressed. They are naturally influenced by you. Be sure your entire partner group is fully aware of how closely they are being watched by staff.

Maybe it is a good time to take advantage of some of the apps that help you practice mindfulness and meditation. There is one called Calm that is very popular.

There are many great quotations about being calm:

“Calm mind brings inner strength and self-confidence so that’s very important for good health.” – Dalai Lama

“You don’t have to control your thoughts. You just have to stop letting them control you.” – Dan Millman

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, it empties today of its strength.” – Corrie ten Boom

My advice to CPA firm leaders: Without calm, you won’t last as a leader.

I watch a lot of British mysteries, etc. It seems like every time someone has to solve a problem they say, “I’m going to take a walk to clear my head.” Maybe you should be taking more walks. Even my Apple watch reminds me to “Breathe” and I often stop and do it!

  • Step outside for a while - calm your mind. It is better to hug a tree than to bang your head against a wall continually.
  • Rasheed Ogunlaru

Tuesday, June 15th, 2021

Are You A Firm Administrator? Are You Wondering What A Firm Administrator Does?

“Focus on being productive instead of busy.” – Tim Ferriss

Today, I want to remind you about a one-hour session I am doing tomorrow for the newly formed Missouri Chapter of CPAFMA and the Missouri Society of CPAs.

Are you new to the role of firm administrator? Are you an experienced administrative professional but have never worked in the CPA profession? Are you thinking about hiring a firm administrator? Do you wonder what value a firm administrator can bring to your firm?

Join me and your peers tomorrow. More information here.

  • Simplicity boils down to two steps: Identify the essential. Eliminate the rest.
  • Leo Babauta

Thursday, June 10th, 2021

Elevating & Embracing Your Role – Firm Administrators & Practice Managers

“Attitude is a choice. What you think you can do, whether positive or negative, confident or scared, will most likely happen.” – Pat Summitt

The newly formed Missouri Chapter of CPAFMA, supported by the Missouri Society of CPAs, has invited me to speak to their roundtable group virtually on Wednesday, June 16 from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. (Central time). If you are outside of Missouri you are invited to attend. Contact Liz Schaetzel at the Missouri Society to register – lschaetzel@mocpa.org.

CPAFMA is so fortunate to have the support of so many state societies such as MOCPA. I know first-hand how much the Ohio and Indiana Societies help and support the Ohio and Indiana Chapters of CPAFMA.

This session (Elevating & Embracing Your Role) is especially helpful if you are new to the role and new to the CPA profession. It also works to motivate and inspire firm administrators even if you have been one for twenty years! I hope you will join me next Wednesday.

Here’s the invitation from the Missouri Society of CPAs:

During this roundtable, we will hear from Rita Keller, an award-winning and widely respected voice to CPA firm management, who will present Elevating and Embracing Your Role. She will discuss: who in your firm supports and encourages the managing partner? Who is the conscience of your firm, the person who always places the firm above their own personal agenda? Is there someone in the firm who enables the partners and staff to be better and more successful CPAs? Join Rita Keller and your peers to explore what a professional, well-trained firm administrator/practice manager can do. It’s time to elevate and embrace your important role.

Click here to register. We’d love to “see” you. Missouri members, as a reminder, you are invited to stay connected with your fellow firm administrators through MOCPA’s firm administrator online Connect Community and virtual roundtables. Click here for more details.

  • None of us can change our yesterdays, but all of us can change our tomorrows.
  • Colin Powell

Thursday, May 27th, 2021

Chill Out – Substitute Fascinated for Frustrated

“Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.” – Kurt Vonnegut

Working at a growing, busy CPA firm can be frustrating at times. That is not an earth-shaking statement. You know it all too well! I have a light-hearted story for you today.

What do you do to relieve the frustrations that come your way almost on a daily (or hourly) basis? I have a suggestion that might help.

Many years ago I learned a way to reduce the stress of frustrations from a colleague who always looked on the bright side of things. She continually inspired me to be a better leader and to be a better person. No matter the situation, she found a way to take positive value from the experience.

As we went through the ups and downs of our busiest season, I found myself facing way too many frustrations. During one of these moments, my colleague gave me some excellent advice.

She suggested I substitute the word fascinated for frustrated. It is very simple but when I started thinking in this way, it simply took the edge off!

“Isn’t it fascinating that Joe Client drops off his information every year at the last minute and expects us to have it completed within one or two days? I wonder what causes him to demonstrate that behavior? Maybe he struggles with an assistant (or spouse) who isn’t proactive in helping him prepare and organize.”

“It really fascinates me that Sally Sue always leaves a mess in the break room. Perhaps she was raised by a wicked aunt that made her scrub floors every week-end!”

Try working a fascinating story into your frustrations. Yes, I have actually tried this and it helps me smile and de-stress.

  • It is hardly possible to build anything if frustration, bitterness and a mood of helplessness prevail.
  • Lech Walesa

Wednesday, May 12th, 2021

Passive Observers

“Passive observers don’t belong at the table.” – Dan Rockwell

Per Dan Rockwell (@Leadershipfreak), once you’ve got 7 people in a decision-making group, each additional member reduces decision effectiveness by 10%.

I have observed, by attending a huge number of partner meetings and retreats, at my own firm and with my many clients, that there are way too many passive observers in those meetings.

When a delicate topic or a confrontation arises, the biggest percentage of the partners in attendance look at their laps. They look down so the facilitator cannot make eye contact and they might not be expected to take a stand.

The same thing happens in other types of meetings in accounting firms. I love the one brave soul on the team who will raise their hand and ask the dumb question. The remainder of the team has the same question in mind but they don’t want take a chance of embarassing themselves.

It is up to you, the leader of the meeting, to run a great meeting. As Rockwell says, “Poorly run meetings offend the talent at the table.”

Here are Rockwell’s 3 words that make meetings great:

#1 – Specific – Two or three action items are enough for most meeting agendas.

#2 – Shorter – Stick to the time allotted, don’t turn a 20-minute briefing into an hour lecture.

#3 – Smaller – No passive observers. Decide and deliver.

Read Rockwell’s post here.

  • Mediocre meetings reflect and produce mediocre organizations.
  • Dan Rockwell

Thursday, April 29th, 2021

Here I Go Again

“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.” – Warren Buffett

I have said and written about the following things over and over again for YEARS! The sad part is I continue to observe that these basics of CPA firm management need to be implemented.

  • FIRE CLIENTS who suck up more of your time trying to collect than you do with helping their business.
  • Outplace poor performers more QUICKLY.
  • Update your website so that visitors see timely information that is of IMMEDIATE value.
  • Put partner performance and accountability under the MICROSCOPE.
  • Make it a WIN-WIN for partners who have retired in place to exit gracefully.
  • Spend money on continually educating your people – client service, internal management, and administrative team member. It’s called CPE. Don’t forget the CONTINUING part.
  • Become a MARKETING organization that provides accounting and tax services.
  • Hire a firm administrator/COO who can help the firm MAKE MORE MONEY.
  • Critically assess your PROCESSES.
  • ENFORCE the guidelines, rules, and adherence to the processes OR don’t bother wasting all the time it takes to establish them.
  • EMBRACE change, marketing, technology, social media…..
  • Figure out how your firm can be UNIQUE, different from your competition.
  • Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement.
  • Alfred Adler