Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Thursday, October 29th, 2020

Navigating Your Career & Growing Your Practice Podcast

“If you’re going to have a story, have a big story, or none at all.” –Joseph Campbell

I was delighted recently to connect up with Brad Barbour, Manager, firm Services at AICPA PCPS.

PCPS has been very dear to my heart throughout my years in public accounting. I have met and worked with so many wonderful people at PCPS by speaking at conferences, serving on committees, writing articles, and helping with resources for the PCPS website.

Brad hosts a podcast for PCPS called Small Firm Philosophy and recently interviewed me for one of his podcasts.

I hope you find time to listen to my story and my observations on working in public accounting. Listen to it at one sitting (approx. 30 minutes) or break it up into segments.

I hope some of my comments will be helpful and some will make you smile. Listen to the other podcasts on Small Firm Philosophy, too. Thanks so much, Brad.

  • Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.
  • Robert McKee

Wednesday, October 28th, 2020

Worry & Fear

“Start from wherever you are and with whatever you’ve got.” – Jim Rohn

Recently, you find yourself worrying more than ever. You worry about your family, their health, and your personal health.

You also worry a lot about your firm. You worry about your peers, your employees, and your clients.

Soon you find your worries may have evolved into fears.

From Jim Rohn: “What can destroy our ambitions, our fortunes, our relationships—our lives? The enemies lurking inside us, the ones we face from within, the ones we’ve got to destroy before they destroy us.”

Rohn gives us six enemies lucking inside us:

  • Fear
  • Indifference
  • Indecision
  • Doubt
  • Worry
  • Timidity

Every day, you must battle worry and fear and build your courage to fight what is holding you back. Fight what is holding your firm back.

Read Rohn’s full article to learn more about each of the emotional enemies.

  • We have to be courageous in our lives and in our pursuit of the things we want and the people we want to become.
  • Jim Rohn

Friday, October 23rd, 2020

Good Example

“Every time you have to speak, you are auditioning for leadership.” – James Humes

You are operating mostly in an online culture. Your people don’t see you walk down the hall to get a cup of coffee. They don’t see you greet clients in the lobby. They don’t see you leave for a Chamber of Commerce meeting. You don’t stop by their office/desk for a quick chat.

Just because they can’t see you easily, it doesn’t mean you should not continue to set a good example. Keep them informed of what you are doing and follow all the procedures and policies they are asked to follow.

Click here for the Friday Flashback Post about a partner’s simple mission.

  • We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be."
  • Kurt Vonnegut

Monday, October 19th, 2020


“All distracted leaders are ineffective.” – Dan Rockwell

Are any of the leaders in your CPA firm distracted? This might be a very touchy subject among the leadership group.

Of course, all people working in accounting firms have had to fight the distraction battle in 2020. As you have read (and experienced), working from home has resulted in an abundance of distractions.

Today, I am talking about your partner group and the outside distractions they may be facing (or allowing) that divert their attention from effective firm management and client service.

Does your partner agreements cover the fact that partners might be distracted (hampered from working) due to personal illness?

Perhaps a partner’s spouse has a serious illness yet the partner continues to try to work yet client service suffers and staff complain that the partner is not available or responding to questions.

Do your partners have outside interests/investments, like real estate activities or separate personal businesses that distract them during business hours on a regular basis?

I always advise, “Keep your eye on the ball.” Or, “Don’t kill the golden goose.” A successful and profitable firm can change course when owners are distracted.

Read the above quote again.

  • An addiction to distraction is the end of your creative production.
  • Robin Sharma

Tuesday, October 13th, 2020

There Is No Time To Rest

“Last year I joined a support group for procrastinators. We haven’t met yet.”

CPAs have a reputation for procrastination. It has been a very busy year and November is just around the corner. Don’t slack off now! There is so much more to do so that your firm can fully adapt to the new normal.

Here’s my story of the classic procrastination scenario inside a busy CPA firm. It goes something like this:

It’s tax season, we can’t possibly take the time to update our performance feedback process. It’s April 16, we desperately need time to recover from tax season. I call this the after-tax-season coma that you are in for about two to four weeks. It’s late May, early June, we can’t possibly work on the performance system because it is time to begin this year’s reviews. Our process will last at least through July. It’s August, too many people are on vacation. It’s September, we have extensions. It’s October, we have extensions. It’s December, we have tax planning appointments. 

So, that means you may have some time in November to catch-up on all the initiatives and projects you have talked about for months or even years.

Any of this sound familiar? As 2021 approaches, commit to avoiding procrastination. Take it in small steps and just keep moving forward with your initiatives even is you have a lot of various excuses not to.

  • You may delay, but time will not, and lost time is never found again.
  • Benjamin Franklin

Monday, October 12th, 2020

Your Mental Attitude

Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” – Dale Carnegie

Perhaps your mental attitude has been a roller coaster ride this year. You try to stay positive and yet you sometimes throw up your hands in frustration.

Dale Carnegie gave us his suggestion:

Cultivate a Mental Attitude That Will Bring You Peace and Happiness

  • Fill your mind with thoughts of peace, courage, health and hope.
  • Never try to get even with your enemies.
  • Expect ingratitude,
  • Count your blessings – not your troubles.
  • Do not imitate others
  • Try to profit from your losses.
  • Create happiness for others.

More wisdom from Carnegie in this post.

For more quotes from Carnegie (and others), follow me on Twitter.

  • If you want to keep happiness, you have to share it.
  • Dale Carnegie

Wednesday, October 7th, 2020

A Title Doesn’t Make You a Leader

“Leadership is personal, not positional.” -Skip Prichard

There is a young staff accountant who is always pleasant, polite, positive, and punctual. He sets a great example for his peers.

There is the senior accountant who seems to be the one staff person who cares about the first-year accountants and goes out of her way to make them feel welcome, gives good feedback and does not make them feel stupid!

There is the Director of First Impressions. She is always smiling. She makes callers and visitors feel special when they call or visit the firm. She offers them refreshments and is a skilled conversationalist. Her positive personality affects everyone working at the firm.

These people are not partners or managers. They are not classified as leaders, yet they are definitely demonstrating their leadership abilities.

  • To establish yourself in the world a person must do all they can to appear already established.
  • Francois de La Rochefoucauld

Monday, October 5th, 2020

After the Retreat

“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.” – Peter Drucker

Think about how you felt immediately after your last strategic planning retreat. I have observed it first-hand many times. During the wrap-up conversations partners and other attendees feel relieved, enthused, optimistic even happy.

Next, think about how you felt one month after your retreat. Do you even remember that you felt relieved, enthused, optimistic and even happy?

You return to the office and there are voice messages and emails that need attention. There are team members awaiting your return so they can ask questions or obtain your opinion and there are family and other personal commitments you must meet. That is why I strongly urge you to develop specific action steps that will help you accomplish the FEW important initiatives identified at your planning retreat.

Everything is changing so rapidly that it is difficult to really comprehend what your firm will need to do two years from now. To keep your firm moving forward, identify two or three initiatives, document the steps it takes to accomplish each one and commit to getting them accomplished in 12 to 18 months.

It is each participant’s duty to actively participate. See the quotation above. If you don’t commit, there are only promises and hopes, but no plans.

  • Duty is what one expects from others; it is not what one does one’s self.
  • Oscar Wilde

Friday, October 2nd, 2020

Friday Thoughts

“Life’s a bit like mountaineering – never look down.” – Sir Edmund Hillary

Sir Edmund Hillary and his sherpa guide, Tenzing Norgay succeeded in being the first to reach the summit of Mt Everest on May 29, 1953.

I was reading a post by @Leadershipfreak and the following excerpt caused me to contemplate how people and society have changed.

There are no pictures of Sir Edmund Hillary on top of Mt. Everest. He took a picture of Tenzing. Later Hillary said. “I never even thought about taking a photograph of myself.”

  • I think it all comes down to motivation. If you really want to do something, you will work hard for it.
  • Sir Edmund Hillary

Monday, September 28th, 2020


“It is true that I sometimes compliment myself upon my ingenuity.” – Hercule Poirot

Definition of ingenuity: The quality of being clever, original, and inventive.

I have observed that CPAs in public practice like to follow the crowd.

They call it best practices. I don’t deny that learning from others is a good thing.

But, is your firm a leader firm, the one developing ideas, implementing and setting the pace for others, or are you one of the cautious ones waiting to see what happens with other firms before you dip your toe into the cold waters?

You always start slowly and carefully doing something that you have not done before, because you are not sure if you will like it or if it will be successful.

Once in a while, I urge you, use your ingenuity.

You have a great idea about improving efficiency. You are not aware of any other CPA firms doing it. Try it. Test it. Is anyone going to die if the initiative fails? No, just explain, “Well, that didn’t work. Let’s try something else!”

  • Never tell people how to do things. tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.
  • George S. Patton