Archive for the ‘On My Mind’ Category

Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

The Battle Inside You

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.

He said, “My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

“The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

I read this somewhere many years ago. It is so true. I have read this fable before and, you can find lots of good posts using it on the web. In your work life, it is very tempting to focus on the negative.


I believe that you become who you associate with. Jim Rohn once said, You‘re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

 
Haven’t you ever found yourself beginning to think and talk negative most of the time and then suddenly realize that you have been hanging around negative people most of the workday? I bet you can quickly name the people in your firm who always seem to feel sorry for themselves, who poke fun at others and seem to feel pleasure from getting even.

My advice: Don’t walk away from negative people……. RUN!!

Try this tip I learned at a conference many years ago. Put a rubber band on your wrist. If you suddenly realize you are talking negatively to another person, SNAP the rubber band (stretch it way out) against your wrist so that it stings, just as a reminder. Wear the rubber band all week and see how many stings you feel.

Focus on feeding the good wolf. The good wolf likes positive self-image, kindness, understanding, positive attitude, tolerance, and laughter. Even during this busy time of year, take time to count your blessings. Smile more, it makes people wonder what you are up to.
 

  • Your hardest times often lead to the greatest moments of your life. Keep going. Tough situations build strong people in the end.
  • Roy T. Bennett

Friday, January 4th, 2019

You Are Running a Business

“If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives.” – Lemony Snicket

I talk to so many CPA firm leaders who are struggling with very important decisions. I can listen, suggest and advise but I can’t do it for you.

  • What are you afraid of? Why do you often postpone some simple business decisions because you just might hurt someone’s feelings?
  • Why do you procrastinate on dealing with poor performers because you might hurt someone’s feelings?
  • Why do you allow several clients to use your firm like a bank? They owe you money, they don’t pay and you just let it “go” for a very long time.

You are running a business and your people and your clients should expect you to make timely, and sometimes difficult, business decisions.

Are these types of things happening at your CPA firm? If so, make a decision to deal with them, beginning immediately.

  • Just say yes and you'll figure it out afterwards.
  • Tina Fey

Monday, December 31st, 2018

New Year Message

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

You probably heard about the Queen’s annual Christmas message to the world.

I actually listened to the entire thing this year. Some of her thoughts are my thoughts for YOU in 2019.

“Some cultures believe that a long life brings wisdom. I’d like to think so.”

“Peace on earth and goodwill to all is never out of date. It can be heeded by everyone. It’s needed as much as ever.”

“Through the many changes I have seen over the years, faith, family and friendship have not only been a constant for me but a source of personal comfort and reassurance.”

I wish you all a happy 2019. May you have faith, family, and friendship to help you through these changing times.

  • Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering 'it will be happier'...
  • Alfred Lord Tennyson

Thursday, December 27th, 2018

You Are Business Smart. Are You Feelings Smart?

“One thing you can’t hide – is when you’re crippled inside.” – John Lennon

To be a successful CPA, it is extremely important to understand your own feelings and the feelings of others. Some CPAs struggle with this issue. Many CPAs I have known tend to be very “business-like” and seem to try very hard to hide their emotions. Does this sound like you? Make 2019 the year to work on your emotional intelligence.

In a new book by Justin Bariso (a contributor to Inc.), EQ Applied: The Real-World Guide to Emotional Intelligence, he outlines a number of clear, practical tips that you can implement in your daily routine, most of which take only a few minutes a day.

He recommends that you begin with self-reflection. To understand your own feelings and other people’s, it begins with having the emotional maturity to know you need it.

Here’s an example of one of the 21 tips he provides in a recent Inc. post:

4. Use the 3-second trick.

If you tend to put your foot in your mouth, agree too quickly to commitments, or otherwise say something you later regret, ask yourself three quick questions (which I learned from Craig Ferguson) before speaking:

  • Does this need to be said?
  • Does this need to be said by me?
  • Does this need to be said by me, now?

In contrast, if you’re more introverted and often find that later you wish you had expressed yourself in a specific moment or situation, ask yourself:

Will I regret not speaking up later? 

The right question(s) can help you manage your emotional reactions and avoid regrets.

  • We know too much and feel too little. At least, we feel too little of those creative emotions from which a good life springs.
  • Bertrand Russell

Tuesday, December 18th, 2018

What Managers Should Be Doing In CPA Firms

The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Peter Drucker divided the job of the manager into five basic tasks:

1) Sets objectives. The manager sets goals for the group and decides what work needs to be done to meet those goals.

2) Organizes. The manager divides the work into manageable activities and selects people to accomplish the tasks that need to be done.

3) Motivates and communicates. The manager creates a team out of his people, through decisions on pay, placement, promotion, and through his communications with the team. Drucker also referred to this as the “integrating” function of the manager.

4) Measures. The manager establishes appropriate targets and yardsticks, and analyzes, appraises and interprets performance.

5) Develops people. With the rise of the knowledge worker, this task has taken on added importance. In a knowledge economy, people are the company’s most important asset, and it is up to the manager to develop that asset.

Does this sound like the managers at your firm? I find that so many so-called managers are actually higher-paid and more experienced technicians. If owners want more freedom to bring in business and talent, be sure your managers are trained and expected to manage.

Read What do managers do via WSJ.

  • Hiring people is an art, not a science, and resumes can’t tell you whether someone will fit into a company’s culture. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, you need to cut your losses and move on.
  • Howard Schultz

Tuesday, December 11th, 2018

Emails From Partners

“The average American worker has fifty interruptions a day, of which seventy percent have nothing to do with work.” – W. Edwards Deming

If you are working in a CPA firm, first of all, good for you. For the most part, they are wonderful places to work. You learn so much, no matter how long you have worked there and you are in a profession where you are helping people.

One of the challenges of working inside a CPA firm is email. It is a beast and a beast that you are constantly attempting to train and control.

One of the complaints I have heard many times over the years is the fact that partners (and sometimes managers) send work-related emails to you at any time from 5:00 a.m. until 2:00 a.m. Of course, many come during business hours but often several come during non-business hours.

Those frequent emails during the business day interrupt your train of thought and your concentration on client work that you are attempting to complete in a timely and efficient manner. There are many methods to handle those emails, such as turning off notifications and responding to emails three times per day. I have written many posts on the topic of emails, just type email in the search box on my website and browse through them.

So, what about those emails you receive late in the evening or early morning even before you wake up? You might make the assumption that the sender expects you to answer ASAP. That is not often the case. If your firm does not have clear guidelines about the handling of emails, it is time you create a policy that documents the expectations. If there is an urgent situation that needs immediate attention, it should be communicated in person, by phone or maybe even text. Make it clear that emails should be used for non-time-sensitive communications. Here’s a great article about all of this via HBR – Protecting Company Culture Menas Having Rules for Email.

As for emails, in general, remember that work and life have become blended. If receiving an email from a work colleague during personal time bugs you, consider your time spent in the office. Have you ever sent a personal email or a text, checked social media, scheduled a doctor’s appointment, dealt with a child’s issue on company time?

  • Permission marketing is marketing without interruptions.
  • Seth Godin

Wednesday, December 5th, 2018

Foot-dragging

“If I see something sagging, bagging or dragging I’ll get it nipped, tucked or sucked.” – Dolly Parton

Does your firm have a foot-dragging problem?

foot-drag·ging
/ˈfo͝otˌdraɡiNG/
noun
  1. reluctance or deliberate delay concerning a decision or action.
    “bureaucratic foot-dragging has continued to delay the project”

You come back from a conference with a great idea. Or perhaps you read about a good idea on this blog. It is not something that is too complicated but it is not something the firm has tried before.

Some partners are excited but a few pooh-pooh the idea, so it never gains enough momentum to survive. Staff watch, shake their heads and smile at another avoidance of change.

Maybe your firm has one or two partners who are passionate and one or two who are completely happy with the status quo. The passionate partners are pulling the heavy wagon of change up the steep hill and the other partners are dragging their feet.

The foot-draggers don’t even have to help pull. All they have to do is pick up their feet!

  • Delay is the deadliest form of denial.
  • C. Northcote Parkinson

Tuesday, December 4th, 2018

Attention Small Firms!

“If I am to meet with a disappointment, the sooner I know it, the more of life I shall have to wear it off.” – Thomas Jefferson     

I am delighted to work with many small firms. That means I am often Googling smaller firms to look at their websites.

I am usually very depressed after doing so. Just because you are small doesn’t mean you can’t be mighty!

Please, please immediately devote some time to your website, that is if you want to attract new clients. The most recent one I visited had no pictures, no email addresses, no listing of owners or staff, no social media links. When I filled out the contact section it had an “internal error.” Their URL said “not secure.” – What a disappointment.

Prospects judge you on your website.

  • One's best success comes after their greatest disappointments.
  • Henry Ward Beecher

Friday, November 30th, 2018

Last Chance to Participate – Digital Survey

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” – Frederick Douglass

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DIGITALLY DRIVEN SURVEY
In recognition of the evolving trends in digital operations, the CPAFMA 2019 Digitally Driven Firm Survey –  formerly the CPAFMA Paperless Benchmarking Survey, the longest-running paperless benchmarking survey in the accounting profession – is being conducted as an update to the Association’s 2017 survey. This important resource will be updated to provide you with the valuable, consistent benchmarking that we’ve all come to rely on upon through CPA Firm Management Association. Results of the survey will be included in future CPAFMA articles and resources, including a MAPCast in December 2018. Participants will be provided with an advanced copy of the results. Your participation as a firm management professional is crucial.
Please submit your responses no later than
Friday, November 30, 2018.
The survey takes between 10-15 minutes.

Click here to take the survey. Roman can’t hold his breath much longer!

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Thursday, November 22nd, 2018

Count Your Blessing

“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around. – Willie Nelson

A definition of blessing per Merriman Webster:  a thing conducive to happiness or welfare, such as:

  • My daughter is a blessing to me in my old age.
  • Their absence turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
  • Count your blessings.

I hope you are counting your blessings today but also hope that you do it every day. Check out this ad about a man being so happy about the gifts he has received.

Happy Turkey Day to all my wonderful readers, followers, clients and friends. I count all of you among my many blessings! Enjoy your day with family and friends. Find some quiet time over the 4-day weekend to think about, and count all your blessings. (Also, find some time to read!)

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Thanksgiving

  • It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson