Archive for the ‘On My Mind’ Category

Tuesday, October 20th, 2020

Be Honest With Yourself

“This above all: to thine ownself be true.” – William Shakespeare

I hope, at your firm, you are asking your team members to do a self-evaluation periodically. I also hope that those evaluating the performance of others read the self-evaluations.

So many times I hear the stories about an accounting firm team member who is asked to do a self-evaluation. They take the task very seriously. They reflect back on the period of time being evaluated and expertly list their accomplishments and often also note some deficiencies.

It seems that the above Shakespeare quotation truly applies to them.

It has been my observation that people really do know themselves. They realize their strengths and their weaknesses.

When you compare their self-critique with the evaluations supplied by others, they usually align quite well.

The problem is, many people with power over the person’s career progress often do not study the self-evaluations or even read them at all.

  • A company could put a top man at every position and be swallowed by a competitor with people only half as good, but who are working together.
  • W. Edwards Deming

Monday, October 19th, 2020

Distracted

“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

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

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

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

Ingenuity

“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

Friday, September 18th, 2020

Let Go of The Past

“There are better starters than me but I’m a strong finisher.” —Usain Bolt

For this Flashback Friday, I want to remind you that most CPA firm partners and managers have very long memories. If you make a mistake, as a young staff person, they seem never to forget it.

Read more here.

  • Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.
  • Napoleon Hill

Wednesday, September 16th, 2020

The Day After

Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason so few engage in it. ~ Henry Ford

September 15th has come and gone. As you know it is a major due date for the CPA profession.

This year the due dates have been rather unusual but you all still felt the pressure of the September due date and there is still one on the horizon – the October 15th due date for extended personal returns.

You love what you do but, like most things of value, it requires hard work. I imagine you have heard the poem, First Fig by Edna St. Vincent Milay. It just might apply to you.

First Fig

My candle burns at both ends;

It will not last the night;

But oh, my foes, and oh, my friends-

It gives a lovely light.

  • The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.
  • Vidal Sassoon

Monday, August 24th, 2020

Want More Time?

“The really expert riders of horses let the horse know immediately who is in control, but then guide the horse with loose reins and seldom use the spurs.” – Sandra Day O’Connor

There is a very simple answer to my question in today’s title. One word – DELEGATE.

If you delegate you will have more time to focus on what you should be doing.

In so many firms I see partners doing manager work and managers doing staff work and staff stuck doing the same old thing year after year.

In the CPA firm environment, you should alway be asking yourself, “What am I doing that someone else could do?” Or, the classic CPA question, “What am I doing that someone with a lower billing rate can easily do?”

If you keep doing work for them, staff will never evolve to a higher skill level. In an accounting firm, young accountants learn by doing more difficult assignments. Short-term you may be able to do it better but where does that get you long-term?

Sad to say, your firm might end up merging up because there is no one skilled enough to replace the current partners.

If you work at it and discipline yourself to delegate much of the current work you do, your firm will grow and prosper because the partners and managers have time to market, sell and bring in new business (and mentor younger staff).

  • If you want to do a few small things right, do them yourself. If you want to do great things and make a big impact, learn to delegate.
  • John C. Maxwell