Archive for the ‘On My Mind’ Category

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

Wednesday, November 25th, 2020

Too Long

“Patience is the ability to idle your motor when you feel like stripping your gears.” – Barbara Johnson

When you graduated from college and began working at a CPA firm you probably thought you would work your way up to partner someday.

The years went by and you worked your way up the ladder. You became a Senior, a Supervisor, a manager and perhaps, a Senior Manager. Maybe then you were offered something called Non-Equity Partner and you could actually use the title “Partner” on your business card. But, you were not really a partner.

How long did that take? I am guessing way too long!

Starting with the millennials (they are 39 years old now!) and continuing with Gen Z, young people want to become successful much more quickly than the culture of many CPA firms allow.

All this is prompted by some CPA firm websites I have visited recently. “John Doe joined the firm in 1996 and became a partner in 2018.” “Betty Smith joined the firm in 1994 and became a partner in 2017.”

Doesn’t that seem like a long time to you? And, are they equity partners or just the non-equity type? I am not a fan of the non-equity partner slot. It seems like a holding pattern to me.

Becoming a firm owner is not for everyone, of course. But, for those who have the ambition, the dedication and the skills to become a partner, twelve or thirteen years seems like a long time.

There is one factor to consider. The Baby Boomers are retiring at a rapid rate. If they actually retire, then you don’t have to depend so much on firm growth.

As the old saying goes, if you want to become a partner you have to make yourself too valuable to lose. Make yourself valuable more quickly!

  • I am patient with stupidity but not with those who are proud of it.
  • Edith Sitwell

Friday, November 20th, 2020

If You Are Missing The Office

“Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.” – Steve Jobs

It’s time for some Friday ramblings. Another week has passed by so quickly and things are changing at that same quick base.

I enjoyed my time with PWB CPAs & Advisors in Minnesota this week. Of course, I wasn’t there in person but speaking to their entire team (via Teams) about CPA firm communication was still a joy for me.

If you are missing your teammates and your in-office routine perhaps hearing the normal background sounds of any office (the printer, the telephone, the coffee machine) might be a pleasant change. You can assemble your audio atmosphere via soundofcolleagues.com.

Have a nice weekend. Stay home and stay safe. Next week is a short work week. Take a walk in the woods.

  • The loudest noise in the world is silence.
  • Theionious Monk

Wednesday, November 18th, 2020

More Important Than Ever

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” – Will Rogers

Websites are on my mind today. When comes to promoting your firm, yourself, and your people, your website is more important than ever.

As you might guess, I constantly look at CPA firm websites. If you ever send me an email or if your firm is ever in the news, you can bet I will be perusing your website.

There are still a significant number of firms that have not taken action on updating their website. It appears that it has been the same for the last ten or fifteen years. You can tell immediately when you hit their site. When I ‘hit’ one, it makes me sad.

In these times of no meeting and greeting potential clients in person, the only impression they get of you is from your website. Someone should be managing your website daily. You need current articles and high-quality pictures of your partners and other leaders. Your site needs to give the impression that you are modern, future-focused, and extremely knowledgeable. If your website says (without using words) that you are an “old school” firm, you are in trouble.

For progressive firms, a significant number of new clients come to the firm because of their website. How many are coming to your firm because they simply looked at your website and were impressed?

  • You only get one chance to make a good first impression, and yours may be in the hands of the receptionist.
  • Harvey Mackay

Monday, November 9th, 2020

Don’t Be So Cheap

“Spend at least 10% of your budget on the best professional advice available before you spend a nickel on anything.” – Harvey Mackay

Accountants are often known for being frugal. Your employees might think you (as a group of owners) are actually very cheap.

Here’s the difference – – Cheap people are driven by saving money regardless of the cost; frugal people are driven by maximizing total value, including the value of their time. … Being cheap is about spending less; being frugal is about prioritizing your spending so that you can have more of the things you really care about.

I don’t know how many times I have heard an experienced, competent firm administrator, practice manager, HR director, or marketing director say, “I won’t be able to attend the conference (event, webinar, meeting) because the partners won’t spend the money.”

On the other hand, I have heard those same people, the ones who did attend the conference (event, webinar, meeting) say, “I learned so much and brought so many great ideas back to the firm that the partners said I should attend every year.”

That’s why Harvey Mackay’s quote, above, is so appropriate for those leading CPA firms.

  • Never have a partner retreat without a paid facilitator – someone very familiar with the CPA profession.
  • Don’t hesitate to hire outside mentors and coaches for your partners, firm administrators, marketing directors, etc. Hire them for your partners, too.

Just last week, a client said to me after a fairly brief phone session, “You have given us several valuable nuggets during our conversation! We will act upon them!”

How much are you budgeting for outside, professional advisors?

  • If the price is very cheap then it's almost certainly a fake.
  • David Russell

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

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