Archive for the ‘Lighten Up’ Category

Thursday, January 14th, 2021

Keep People Connected

“Communication – the human connection – is the key to personal and career success.” – Paul J. Meyer

Once again, Withum shares a great video. This one was shared with their entire team so that they continue to feel very connected to the firm and to each other.

What is your firm doing?

Click here to see the video.

  • As the world becomes a more digital place, we cannot forget about the human connection.
  • Adam Newmann

Friday, December 18th, 2020

Flashback Friday!

“The opportunity to step away from everything and take a break is something that shouldn’t be squandered.” – Harper Reed

I’m in the Holiday spirit right now.

I am guessing that you are, too. After this weekend, you have a 4-day weekend and a 3-day weekend coming up. Use your time-off from work wisely (meaning, don’t work!).

It’s more difficult to “quit” working when you are working from home. I’ve worked from home for twelve years. I walk by my office door (during my time-off) and think, “I”ll check a few emails” and I end up in my office for two or three hours!

Using your time-off wisely also means:

  • Enjoy family time – play games with your children or spouse.
  • Find time to read. Read a gripping mystery (not a business book).
  • Find some quiet time to simply think. Think about what you want to accomplish in 2021.
  • Get outside and exercise – a winter, snowy walk is so beautiful and so is a sunny walk on the beach.

Here are some flashbacks to make you smile:

Ringing of the Bells!

Triple-Dog Dare You!

No Half-Baked Ideas!

  • Sometimes when we take a break, we may find that solutions then present themselves.
  • Catherine Pulsifer

Friday, December 4th, 2020

Dress Code – It’s Still Business

“You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it.” – Edith Head

Lighten up, it’s Friday. The following comes from Suzanne Lucas (@RealEvilHRLady)

It seems a Judge in Florida was fed up with how attorneys appeared for hearings (via Zoom). The following was added to the Bar Association’s website as a pop-up message.

One comment that needs sharing and that is the judges would appreciate it if the lawyers and their clients keep in mind these Zoom hearings are just that: hearings. They are not casual phone conversations. It is remarkable how many ATTORNEYS appear inappropriately on camera. We’ve seen many lawyers in casual shirts and blouses, with no concern for ill-grooming, in bedrooms with the master bed in the background, etc. One male lawyer appeared shirtless and one female attorney appeared still in bed, still under the covers. And putting on a beach cover-up won’t cover up you’re poolside in a bathing suit. So, please, if you don’t mind, let’s treat court hearings as court hearings, whether Zooming or not.

Per Lucas: “Work is still work. yes, this is an abnormal situation. Yes, you should be forgiving of employees with childcare issues, or space issues, but it’s still work.

Today is Friday, maybe you can consider it casual Friday. Remember those days? They seem so long ago. Stay safe and enjoy your weekend.

Read the entire article here.

Just for fun – The 80 Greatest Fashion Quotes of All Time via Harper’s Bazaar for your weekend reading!

  • Trendy is the last stage before tacky.
  • Karl Lagerfeld

Thursday, November 26th, 2020

Thanksgiving 2020

“Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie.” – Jim Davis

Even though this Thanksgiving is different than any other your family has endured, I hope it is still joyous, perhaps in a more quiet and reflective way.

My husband and I are spending this week in a cabin in the woods. We have been hiking, cooking, reading, and watching movies. We will not be with our family but we are thankful for them every day.

Here is a link to my annual gift to you. It is a classic!

Happy Turkey Day to all my wonderful readers, followers, clients and friends. I count all of you among my many blessings! Enjoy and appreciate the day, even if it is different.

  • Over and over I marvel at the blessings of my life: Each year has grown better than the last.
  • Lawrence Welk

Monday, October 26th, 2020

What Not To Wear

“Dressing well is a form of good manners.” – Tom Ford

Do you remember the TV show, What Not To Wear? It was a makeover reality television series based on the British show of the same name. The show premiered on January 18, 2003, on TLC and ran for 10 years. I watched it for several years and did find it very entertaining. Once the person went through the makeover, the end result gave them a whole new appearance and they certainly made a better first impression.

It came to mind while I was reading a recent article – What to Wear While Working Remotely.

The article goes into a little more detail than I think is needed for a person working for a professional service firm, like a CPA firm.

I get a lot of questions about remote work policies but most of them steer away from how people should dress. Yet, some people do need advice on how to work from home and still feel like a polished professional.

Of course, you should not work in your pajamas! But perhaps a different wardrobe (still very casual) for work and other clothing for your household duties should be something you consider. Recently, I have read where some people were even wearing t-shirts with their political views on display. Of course, that doesn’t happen in CPA firms!

I have worked from home for years and have always put on my make-up, styled my hair, and wore clothes I wouldn’t be ashamed to be seen wearing when I am out and about shopping or running errands. I have different clothes for housework, exercising, etc. That was before Zoom calls! Now, I feel like I need to be even more prepared to be seen!

Hopefully, you will look like the What Not To Wear subject in the “after” mode rather than the “before” mode! Read the article and see what you think. But, basically, use your common sense and wear pants!

  • Elegance is not standing out, but being remembered.
  • Giorgio Armani

Thursday, October 15th, 2020

October 15

“This isn’t a hospital! It’s an insane asylum! And it’s your fault!” – – Sally Kellerman (Hot Lips) in MASH (1970).  Substitute the word firm for hospital.

For many CPA firms, you are down to the wire on extended individual income tax returns and all of the activity that surrounds that huge event.

Clients were late providing their information while still expecting immediate attention. They are often just plain rude to your Director of First Impressions. Partners have high expectations of the tax team, partners and the tax team have almost unreasonable expectations of the administrative team. Yet, you all pull through and give the best service possible.

Happy October 15th!

  • Be sincere; be brief; be seated.
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt

Friday, July 3rd, 2020

Relax. Enjoy.

“May we think of freedom not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right.” – Peter Marshall

You and your team have been working so hard and tax season has certainly been a long one and it’s not over yet.

I hope you can take time off and enjoy this 3-day weekend!

Have a safe and enjoyable 4th of July.

  • The essence of America—that which really unites us—is not ethnicity, or nationality or religion—it is an idea—and what an idea it is: That you can come from humble circumstances and do great things.
  • Condoleezza Rice

Thursday, July 2nd, 2020

People Problems

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

I wrote the following article for the June issue of my newsletter. If you are not on the mailing list, you can sign-up here.

If you are on the mailing list and are not receiving my newsletter, check your spam folder. Some people are reporting that is where they find their issue.

I heard from several readers that they really enjoyed this article and could definitely relate. Here are some of the comments:

I just wanted to send you a note, I usually don’t get to read your newsletter the same day you send it, but boy am I thankful I did…..the People Problems – that’s me!!!!!!!!

I LOVE your article!!!  It made me roll with laughter.  I resemble the PM in the role as the’ air conditioner adjusting monitor’.  Had I only had the fortitude to be more like the maintenance person. 

So true. As a firm administrator that also takes care of
our 25 person office, I can relate so much! Smiles for the day!

People Problems

You got the job! You are now the CPA firm’s Practice Manager (COO/Firm Administrator). You will be “in” on all the management activities of the firm, deal directly with all the partners and be on the front line dealing with operations and people. You know you will be good at it because you really like people.

A year later, you finally admit you really don’t like people! 

Of course, this is an exaggeration. But, the people game is a very complicated and frustrating game inside accounting firms.

As Practice Manager (and sometimes it is the managing partner), you deal with problems and, most of these problems are caused by people. The vast majority of the problems are not anything serious. Actually, most problems are rather petty. 

Here’s a classic story (and a true one). It’s a story of trying to please everyone and, as you know, that’s not possible!

In a mid-size CPA firm, the bookkeeping department (or CAS as they call it now) is staffed by five females ranging in age from thirty to fifty-five. The members of this group cannot agree on the room temperature. It is always too hot or too cold. They continually complain to the Practice Manager about the heating/air conditioning. 

One member of the team says it is too cold in their area. The Practice Manager asks the building maintenance man to adjust it for them. So he brings in a ladder, opens a section of the ceiling and, adjusts the heating/cooling for that area. They agree that it is much better and they are all happy, for a while.

A week or two later, a different member of that team reports that it is way too hot in their area. The maintenance man goes through the same exercise. Over the period of six months, he repeats it several times and after each adjustment for a while, they are all happy.  

The Practice Manager is kept in the loop by the maintenance man. Finally, the PM asks, “Don’t you get aggravated with having to adjust the heating/cooling all the time with that group?” His reply, “I don’t adjust anything. I just get up in the ceiling and pretend I’m doing something, then they are all pleased for a while.”

Practice Managers in accounting firms have similar and unique personalities and characteristics. They enjoy the challenge of dealing with problems, solving them and, also dealing with the many people problems with patience and perseverance. And yes, they really do like people.

The problem in this example was, at least temporarily, solved by having everyone working remotely. They could control their own thermostats. Many new and unforeseen problems and challenges are now being faced by the practice manager as the firm begins to bring people back into the office.

The following quote is attributed to the poet John Lydgate and later adapted by President Lincoln: “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”

Wednesday, May 6th, 2020

Don’t Let This Be Your Plan

“Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.” – Peter F. Drucker

I recently read a Facebook post intended make fun of a plan to re-open a state. We have to smile and keep our sense of humor in these COVID-19 times.

It immediately reminded me of partners’ strategic plan that comes from a two-day retreat of discussing and re-discussing the same topics they talked about last year at the retreat.

I have modified the original post to fit a CPA firm, just for your amusement.

We have identified a 6 phase strategic plan. The plan will be a phased plan that we will plan to utilize in phases. The phases will be planned and the planning will be phased. We will move quickly and slowly to change but will remain the same. We have created a staff of staffers who will plan the phase and planning while phasing their phases. And that is our phased and planned strategic plan.

  • Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.
  • Peter F. Drucker

Saturday, April 11th, 2020

Lighten-Up, It’s The Weekend – Time for something off-topic

John Prine passed this week from COVID-19. It makes me so sad.

Here is my favorite John Prine song. It will make you laugh. Also, listen to “Hello in there” by Prine – it will make you cry.