Archive for the ‘On My Mind’ Category

Thursday, November 24th, 2022

My Annual Thanksgiving Post

“Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.” – Henry Van Dyke

I love Thanksgiving. I ignore all the negative vibes going on in the world (and on social media and in the news). Try take time daily to think about what you, personally, are thankful for.

So, smile. Here’s my annual Thanksgiving post.

  • Thanksgiving was never meant to be shut up in a single day.
  • Robert Caspar Lintner

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2022

Enjoy Your Long Weekend!

“I am happy because I’m grateful. I choose to be grateful. That gratitude allows me to be happy.” – Will Arnett

  • Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most powerful things humans can do for each other.
  • Randy Pausch

Monday, November 14th, 2022

Do This In November

“If I cut you off, chances are you handed me the scissors.” – Unknown

I have written about it often. You have talked about it often.

It is time to off-board several of your current clients. Make room for new and better clients. You do this because:

  • You can add some great clients without overloading (punishing) your staff.
  • You can finally divest yourself of those clients that are always a collection problem.
  • You can weed out those C and D-level clients who are always getting their information to you at the very last minute (again punishing your staff).
  • It gives you room to really focus on providing exceptional, unique client service.
  • It would help you identify, develop and define a true, specialized niche, something your firm can become famous for.
  • It helps you work with people (clients) you really like and enjoy, not those you just tolerate.

Now, November is a good time to notify those clients. If you want a sample of a client termination letter, let me know.

  • People inspire you, or they drain you – pick them wisely.
  • Hans F. Hansen

Wednesday, October 26th, 2022

Someone Should Be In Charge

“If you want to kill any idea in the world, get a committee working on it.” – Charles Kettering

Accounting firms operate with the partnership model. I call it the Committee Model – everyone has a voice, and nothing gets accomplished. The most progressive firms have a strong CEO who uses a few close advisors and then makes decisions to move the firm forward. If that person abuses their power, makes poor decisions, etc., they are replaced. How does your firm work? Or, why doesn’t your firm work?

I like to share a Seth Godin post in its entirety occasionally. Here’s one that applies to CPAs.

Perfect might be the enemy of good in group dynamics and choice making

When one person needs to fix a wall, adjust a cabinet or choose what to serve for dinner, they can optimize their choice. Make appropriate trade-offs. Take responsibility for the path chosen.

But when a group of people are asked to do the same thing, it’s easy to err on the side of the pursuit of perfect, or to choose to average things out.

And so the legal team weighs in, and consultants are hired. And so, “but what if?” is always considered, regardless of how rare that outcome might actually be. Entire industries are built around creating deniable, average products and services that are sure to delight no one, cost more than they might and insulate the committee from backlash.

When you find yourself creeping in this direction, it might be worth asking what the risk is of simply suspending the committee and putting someone in charge instead.

  • A committee is a group that keeps minutes and loses hours.
  • Milton Berle

Tuesday, October 25th, 2022


“Selling out is doing something you don’t really want to do for money. That’s what selling out is.” – Bono

It is a beautiful Fall in Ohio. The trees have been vibrant with color this year, and we have had day after day of beautiful weather, although we do need some rain.

When Fall arrives, it makes me feel like it is time for reflection. It puts me in a “winding down” mood. For CPA firms, after the October 15th deadline, it means it is time for action! November is when you have to finish all of those internal projects that make the firm more efficient and profitable. It is not a time for “winding down” it is a time for gearing up for the busy season that will arrive after the holidays.

As for my reflection, I read this morning that another well-known CPA firm has given up the ghost and merged up into one of the mega firms. It makes me sad. I think about so many firms (dozens of them) I have known and worked with over my many years working in public accounting. They have disappeared and are mostly forgotten. The local/regional mid-size firms have evidently failed to develop the next generation of owners, and they have no choice but to sell out.

  • It's not selling out, it is called making lots of money.
  • Mick Jagger

Monday, October 24th, 2022


“Mistakes should be examined, learned from, and discarded, not dwelled upon and stored.” – Tim Fargo

Here’s a real-life story from inside a CPA firm.

Tim was going through his first tax season with the firm. He was doing well, and then on one client engagement, he made a fairly significant (and stupid) mistake. From that day on, managers and partners in the firm just couldn’t forget about Tim’s mistake. He would be assigned to a project, and the comment would be, “Remember when he made that stupid mistake!” Regarding scheduling, a manager would say to the scheduler, “I need a Senior on this job, but don’t give me Tim.”

Tim went on to be successful and stayed at the firm, but probably for five years; his first-year mistake would come up in conversations. CPAs have long memories.

I have heard similar stories from multiple firms. Has this ever happened at your firm? That is why today’s quote at the beginning of this post made me think of a CPA firm.

  • To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.
  • Elbert Hubbard

Friday, October 21st, 2022

Another Season – Flashback Friday

“Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain, and most do.” – Dale Carnegie

This week you put another tax season behind you. October 17 concluded the extension season for individual income tax returns. Now that Fall busy season is over, you will have more time to focus on “the good of the firm.” I call it the Dealing With People Season. Click here.

Have a great weekend.

  • We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
  • Albert Einstein

Wednesday, October 19th, 2022

New Ideas

“Ask forgiveness, not permission. But make sure you bring your results with you.” – Amy Jo Martin

I read a tweet by Dan Rockwell (@Leadershipfreak) that describes life inside many CPA firms.

I encounter it often – resistance to new ideas and too much time spent by the firm’s leader asking permission and building consensus. Sometimes it is even the staff trying to get the partners to embrace new ideas and make needed changes. Get real, you will never get everyone to agree. It causes the firm to get stuck. Forward progress halts.

Here’s the tweet from Dan:

New ideas always encounter resistance.

Success requires initiative.

Leaders act without permission.

There’s too much permission-asking in organizations.

You’ve been asking permission all your life. It began when you were a kid.

  • Give yourself permission to do what you've always wanted.
  • Chris Guilebeau

Wednesday, October 5th, 2022

One Space Or Two?

“I want to change my punctuation. I long for exclamation marks, but I’m drowning in ellipses.” ― Isaac Marion

As we all know, CPA firms are very traditional, conservative, accurate, professional, and so on. We also know that they are slow to change and adapt.

That is why I wonder if CPA firms have switched to one space after a period. From my correspondence with many CPA firms, I have noticed that two spaces after a period are still widely used.

From – According to every major style guide you’ll find, the rule is a single space after a period or any other punctuation mark you use to end a sentence. Even the APA, the staunchest defender of the double space over the decades, changed its stance on the issue in 2019.

From Instructional

UPDATE: As of April 24, 2020, Microsoft has settled the great space debate and sided with everyone who believes one space after a period is correct, not two. The software giant has started to update Microsoft Word to highlight two spaces after a period as an error and to offer a correction to one space. Microsoft recently started testing this change with the desktop version of Word, offering suggestions through the Editor capabilities of the app.

Additionally, the American Psychological Association’s Publication Manual, after decades of recommending two spaces changed their recommendation to one space in its most recent update in October 2019.

If your administrative team is having this debate, Instructional Solutions has a great article showing how two spaces became the norm and why it has evolved to one space over many years.

I learned to type on a typewriter, and after SO many years of typing, two spaces is a habit that is difficult to break. I am working on it but occasionally notice a two-space mistake in my writing.

Anything coming from a CPA firm must be correct. You all know that and have established many levels of review to guarantee accuracy. Be sure your firm is viewed as progressive and accurate and not stuck in the past.

  • Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites, representing nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college.
  • Kurt Vonnegut

Wednesday, September 28th, 2022


“Practice makes perfect. After a long time of practicing, our work will become natural, skillful, swift, and steady.” – Bruce Lee

You might know the old saying, “Practice Makes Perfect.” Growing up, I heard it from my teachers and parents. The same applies to your work in the accounting profession. A first-year team member knows very little about tax (and audit). But, they are repeatedly assigned to various engagements, and with guidance, they become proficient. Practice makes perfect applies to all generations in your firm.

Read Adamson Advisory‘s September blog post about coach John Wooden. Wooden believed in old-fashioned practice. Click here to read the post and learn what things Wooden did to increase efficiency and skill.

  • Nothing will work unless you do.
  • John Wooden