Archive for the ‘On My Mind’ Category

Monday, September 19th, 2022

The Firm Administrator

“It is difficult to bring people to goodness with lessons, but it is easy to do so by example.” – Seneca

If your firm does not have a firm administrator (practice manager), you are missing out on a huge cost savings. The FA does what partners are doing and shouldn’t be doing, you know, administrative and management work. The FA handles all firm operational activities. When a FA takes away most of the partner time spent on HR, financial affairs, marketing, technology, etc., it gives partners more time to be more chargeable (that adds up to a lot!) to mentor young accountants and bring in new business.

The FA acts as a communication link between partners and all other staff. The FA arranges firm activities, parties, and networking events and does a lot of coaching and supervising that turns new hires into professionals.

They are often a listening ear and a problem-solver for minor conflicts among the staff. They are a role model demonstrating professionalism at all times.

I always think of the firm administrator when I see this cartoon via Far Side. Check it out and replace the words border collie with firm administrator!

Invest in your firm administrator by providing on-going learning opportunities. Have them join CPAFMA. To provide them with a mentor/coach, contact me.

  • Our networking event is total chaos! No one knows when to eat, where to stand, what to... Oh, thank god! Here comes the firm administrator.
  • Rita Keller - via Far Side

Tuesday, September 13th, 2022

Distraction

“I’m here to build something for the long-term. Anything else is a distraction.” – Mark Zuckerberg.

I just returned from a road trip with my husband. We toured three civil war battlefields in Tennessee. Of course, it involved a lot of driving. As usual, we encountered many vehicles ahead of us repeatedly drifting off to the right and then drifting across the line on the left. I simply call them drifters, and most of us encounter drifters on the highway daily.

Years ago, we would see this happen occasionally and think to ourselves, “I bet that person has been drinking.” Now, we immediately think, “they are looking at their phone,” and if you pass them on the interstate, you can see that they are doing just that. Of course, other distractions happen while driving – eating, drinking, tuning the radio, kids and pets in the back seat, putting on makeup, and reading a book!

The simple fact is people die from distractions while driving.

I told you all that to remind you that distraction at work is also dangerous. The one I want to focus on today is partner distraction. As a partner/owner, especially a managing partner, you are running a business, a business that needs constant attention.

  • If you have family or health matters that distract you, ask others to step in and help.
  • If you have a particular client that has become a distraction rather than an asset, invite them to leave.
  • You are building a new house, and you spend many hours during the day dealing with all of those issues.
  • So many CPA partners have outside business interests that distract them.

Don’t let your firm die from distractions.

If you are a partner in a CPA firm, the firm is your most important irresponsibility. Don’t let your guard down. Don’t let outside interests distract you so much that firm management suffers. I always advise: Keep your eye on the ball, and don’t kill the golden goose!

  • When we clutter our lives with imagined obligations, unnecessary activities, and distractions that only kill time, we dilute the power of our lives.
  • Anne Katherine

Thursday, September 8th, 2022

Clutter

“In many offices, a clean desk policy means that there is a back-log of work somewhere else.” – Milton Berle

Maybe you have noticed. Accountants tend to keep things. You know, just in case they need it later. They also hold onto things that have already been scanned.

We have hoped that becoming paperless would mean that offices and cubicles would be paper-free, neat, and organized. I bet you have at least a stack of paper documents on the corner of your desk that you intend to “get to” soon. Some of the things in that stack might be six months old, a year old, or more. You receive paper mail, clients drop off some papers, etc. Sure, you will get them scanned, but when?

Scientists tell us that our brains like order and that a messy desk or workspace is a visual reminder of disorganization and that drains our cognitive resources and reduces our ability to focus. They also found that when participants cleared the clutter from their work environment, they were better able to focus and process information, and their productivity increased.

When I tour a CPA firm’s office, I can usually tell which office belongs to a tax partner or manager. They seem to accumulate the most stuff. Is that true in your office?

All of this applies to your home office, too. Do you have a clean and clutter-free space at home to work?

Read this interesting article via HBR – The Case For Finally Cleaning Your Desk.

There is also a train of thought that indicates that a messy desk means you are more creative. Here’s a quote you might like: “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign? – Albert Einstein

  • A messy desk reflects a cluttered and confused mind.
  • Obert Skye

Tuesday, August 30th, 2022

Only Working 8 to 5

“Consistently working late is not necessarily a sign of a hard worker, but rather the inability to use time wisely.” – Victor Bretting

If you are reading the latest news and trends, you are aware of something called “Quiet Quitting.” I understand that it means that people (and not only younger people) are tired of going above and beyond. These workers say that they are getting paid for working 8 to 5 with one hour for lunch. That’s an eight-hour day and that is what they are willing to work.

In the accounting profession, going above and beyond usually means working extra hours. Traditionally, most of those extra hours have been from mid-January to April 15.

I don’t see Quiet Quitting applying to the CPA profession because of the enhanced flexibility firms are willing to offer to anyone qualified to work in the CPA profession.

For those workers in any profession that want just to work an eight-hour day, does that mean you will actually work eight hours? What about when you arrive on time but spend 15 minutes in the break room getting coffee (and even eating your carry-in breakfast)? What about the time you spend on personal phone calls, checking personal emails, checking social media, talking to Mary Ann about the guy you met last weekend, and playing fantasy football? What about the times you actually take a little extra time for lunch? Probably, almost everyone in your firm would benefit from a time management course.

In progressive firms, it is simply a negotiation between the firm and the individual. Firm leaders can no longer treat everyone the same or pay everyone the same if they are at a certain experience level (such as, all Seniors make this much, all new graduates make this much, and all Managers make the same.

Keep in mind it is simply paying for performance.

  • Most people chase success at work, thinking that will make them happy. The truth is that happiness at work will make you successful.
  • Alexander Kjerul

Wednesday, August 24th, 2022

Quiet Quitting

“Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.” – Stephen Covey

You have heard and read about various descriptions of what is happening in the world of work.

The Great Resignation where, according to some surveys, in 2021, 48 million people left their current positions for what they thought were greener pastures. They received better pay, benefits, and work/life balance. Some wanted to gain new skills, and some resigned to just stay at home to raise a family or simply retire.

Then came the boomerang employees. Many realized they were better off in their previous job and returned. Maybe you had some of those.

Now, something you are facing is Quiet Quitting. It is when employees quit going above and beyond what they are paid to do. The lines between home and work disappeared, and people suffered from burnout. Quiet quitters are still doing their jobs, but they have set boundaries.

Do some Googling and research Quiet Quitting. Assess the situations in your firm and take action to prevent the need for Quiet Quitting.

You can read a good article about it on the Skimm.

  • Balance is not better time management, but better boundary management.
  • Betsy Jacobson

Friday, August 19th, 2022

CPAs As Consultants

“Wise men don’t need advice. Fools won’t take it.” – Benjamin Franklin

Becoming a consultant is not something new to you. You are already performing consulting services and have done it for years.

Read more in this Friday Flashback Post.

  • Advice is like snow - the softer it falls, the longer it dwells upon, and the deeper it sinks into the mind.
  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Wednesday, August 17th, 2022

Responsible

“History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are.” – David McCullough

Who is responsible at your firm?

If you work for a sole practitioner, you know who is responsible.

If you work in a small to mid-size firm or even a fairly large firm, you probably know the person or people responsible for the firm’s welfare.

With all of the vast mergers going on across the country, very large firms merging up into giant firms that have offices nationwide, do you know who is responsible? I mean, do you know them personally? If you are a partner, you might know the leader/CEO, but if you are working in one of their non-headquarters offices, I doubt if you know them or have even met them.

That is why I think the following quote is appropriate for you to keep in mind.

“It is extremely dangerous, very possibly disastrous, to assume that because people are in positions of responsibility, they are therefore behaving responsibly.” – David McCullough, in his book The Johnstown Flood.

  • Real success is finding your lifework in the work that you love.
  • David McCullough

Tuesday, August 16th, 2022

Be Visible

“The power of visibility can never be underestimated. – Margaret Cho

Soon students will be returning to the college campus. Your CPA firm better be doing the same thing. This Fall, make sure your firm is visible on the college campus.

I vividly remember one conversation with four college students who were seniors and accounting majors. Two of them had jobs with the big four, one had a job in corporate accounting and the fourth was still looking. They shared their lack of knowledge about local and regional CPA firms. They didn’t even seem to be aware that there were such firms!

I always knew the large national firms were very prominent on college campuses, but these students told me that the big four were visible every single week on campus, sponsoring something, hosting a fun event, etc.

How visible is your firm on your local college campuses? For some of you, not at all, and for others, you might be visible on campus once or twice during the fall semester.

Keep in mind the pool of accounting graduates is smaller than ever. What can you do to catch the fish in that small pool? One easy thing is to be more visible.

  • I've found hat luck is quite predictable. If you want more luck, take more chances. Be more active. Show up more often.
  • Brian Tracy

Friday, August 12th, 2022

Are You The Leader?

“Never assume that people in positions of responsibility are behaving responsibly.” – David McCullough

This Friday, rather than doing a Flashback post. I want to give you something different. I hope you will follow the link (below) and sit quietly for 16 minutes to learn about leadership.

This is directed to firm managing partners or hope-to-be managing partners. It is also vital information for department heads or any other leadership figures inside your accounting firm.

I was saddened this week to hear about the death of David McCullough. I have read many of his books and hope to read more. One of my recent favorites is The Pioneers.

This weekend, find a quiet spot, watch and learn about what made George Washington a great leader.

David McCullough Interview: The Importance of George Washington

I hope you can find some of Washington’s traits within yourself. Have a great weekend.

  • Be courteous to all, but intimate with a few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.
  • George Washington

Tuesday, August 9th, 2022

You Can Run But You Can’t Hide

“It’s about you. If you win, it’s you, if you lose, it’s you. Black and white. Nowhere to hide. – Greg Rusedski

From the internet:

There is an old saying, “you can run but you can’t hide.” This means you can try to escape what you fear most but ultimately, you must face it. This saying originated in the United States in the 1940s and is attributed to boxing great Joe Louis describing his impending fight with light heavyweight champion Billy Conn.

One important thing that you have been running from is change. I know you changed a lot during COVID, however, many CPAs just “made do” with things temporarily and have settled back into many of their “old ways.”

When I currently ask partners if they are truly paperless, they “run” from that question. I hear all kinds of excuses. The world is changing. Now is the time to quit running from things you fear.

  • O' What may man within him hide, though angel on the outward side!
  • William Shakespeare