Archive for the ‘On My Mind’ Category

Wednesday, April 17th, 2019

Team or Not?

For years, I have talked about CPA firm “teams”. I usually use “team member” rather than staff. I have contended that if you talk consistently about a team, maybe you will actually become one.

I recently read the following quotation by Simon Sinek:

“A team is not a group of people who work together. A team is a group of people who trust each other.” – Simon Sinek

It made me think about it in a completely different way. I believe a lot needs to be done to develop a strong level of trust within many accounting firms. I have observed that staff do not trust partners and vice versa.

Firm leaders, continue to work on trust within your firm. The best way to start is by setting a good example. Revisit The Four Agreements.

  • Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.
  • William Shakespeare

Tuesday, April 9th, 2019

Who Are You Traveling With?

“As soon as I saw you, I knew a grand adventure was about to happen.” – Winnie The Pooh

I read two quotes yesterday made me think about CPAs and CPA firms:

“In life, it’s not where you go..it’s who you travel with.” – Charles Schulz

“Sometimes the most ordinary things could be made extraordinary, simply by doing them with the right people.” – Elizabeth Green

During the past couple of months, you have been spending a lot of time with your team members, ALL the people who work in your firm or office.

How do these two quotes apply to you? Are you accomplishing extraordinary things?

Even tax season can be fun and meaningful when you are traveling through it with the right people.

  • I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.
  • Mark Twain

Friday, April 5th, 2019

A Refresher On The Overtime Rules

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” – Colin Powell

An administrative assistant in your office receives a great performance evaluation and then asks you if they can be put on salary. In many CPA firms, it sometimes becomes a dilemma.

Be sure you are abiding by the federal overtime rules. Here’s a link to an article that owners, firm administrators and HR managers might need to read. It could also be shared with your entire team. Your CPAs all need to be able to advise clients when this topic arises.

Don’t work too many long hours this weekend. Next weekend you should be all done – no working! Many firms are able to do this when the due date falls on a Monday.

  • My first job at Gleason's Bar in Cleveland was $800 a week, when I was making $92 a week with overtime at the automobile plant.
  • Chuck Berry

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019

Circumvent The Problem

“One day’s delay is another day’s lack of progress.” – Stuart Bowen

There is a difficult conversation that needs to happen. There is a big decision that you are not ready to make. There are two or three things that should have been implemented months (or years) ago.

Circumvent! (Avoid, get around, find a way around, evade, get past, bypass, sidestep, dodge, delay – you get the message!)

It is time to stop allowing irritations to annoy you and drag on, and on. Deal with nagging, and sometimes small, problems before they become a big deal.

Need to talk to someone about a performance issue? Don’t wait until summer.

  • The mark of the man is how he responds to situations. You're not going to avoid tough times. We're all over the barrel some of the time. What are you going to do about it?
  • Martin Short

Friday, March 29th, 2019

Courtesy Policy

“Politeness is the art of choosing among your thoughts.” – Madame De Stael

You have had an extremely busy week. You are spending SO many hours with your co-workers. You are probably working this weekend and long hours next week. It is natural to become aggravated, at times, with those around you.

I read this small excerpt in an article:

Politeness is the cornerstone of any civilized society. In essence, it is respect for other people’s feelings. This respect is reflected in both thought and action . . . in considering other people’s points of view and behaving in sensitive ways. Unfortunately, in many areas of life, politeness seems to be outdated.

Maybe your firm needs a Courtesy Policy to help remind people that civility is alive and well in your firm and in the CPA Profession. Here’s a sample:

Sample Firm Courtesy Policy

  • If you have a problem with someone, talk about the problem only with them and in private.
  • Use positive conversation.
  • Blame a system, not a person.
  • Apologize and make restitution if someone is upset by your actions.
  • When you talk about a person who is not present, speak as if they are listening to your conversation. Use the person’s name in each sentence in which you refer to them.
  • Speak very politely using a person’s name – – “please” and “thank-you” as a minimum.
  • Greet and farewell everyone by name and with eye contact.
  • Tell the truth.

 

  • The toughest thing about being a celebrity, I suppose, is being polite when I don't want to be.
  • Eric Clapton

Thursday, March 28th, 2019

Morning Person Or Not

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” – Albert Einstein

I am a morning person. I like to get up early (5:00a) and start the day by reading and drinking a cup of coffee. Then I work most of the morning at a fairly ambitious pace. I have always felt I do my best work in the morning.

It’s not for everyone. Many people are definitely not morning people. That’s the joy of embracing flexible schedules for all your team members.

When I was working in a firm, I would be the first one there at 6:00a, that is when I was most productive. I had a partner who would often work until 2:00a. He was the most productive after 7:00p.

Many firms now provide core hours that they expect people to be available. Outside those core hours, people can work whenever and wherever. Some firms don’t even specify core hours any longer. Are you allowing people to work at their most productive time?

  • If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you'll never get it done.
  • Bruce Lee

Wednesday, March 27th, 2019

March Madness for CPAs

“No great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness.” – Aristotle

It is that time of year again. The annual period of time when CPAs have successfully put the March 15th due date behind them and are working madly toward the April 15th deadline. It’s CPA March Madness!

Hopefully, you are finding time to watch the basketball March Madness. Take a breather and read the history of the basketball event: March Madness: Keeping Society Sane Since 1908. 

  • You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it.
  • Robin Williams

Wednesday, March 20th, 2019

Keep Them Coming Back

“I hate flowers – I paint them because they’re cheaper than models and they don’t move.” – Georgia O’Keeffe

This time of year you are counting your wins and losses.

This busy season you have several, if not many, new clients. You probably give them more attention then they deserve. You also are keenly aware of the clients that have moved on to another accounting services provider. Some of those still have a sting about them.

Those new clients are valuable. However, please don’t give your long-time, loyal accounts less attention because you are focusing on the new toy.

Don’t let losses over-concern you. Keep moving forward and keep giving the best service possible. Continually, work to be the most knowledgeable and friendliest firm in your market.

One of my clients told me some good news this morning. This season, three former, significant clients who left the firm for greener pastures (or so they thought) have returned. They left for various reasons but came back because they all realized “cheaper isn’t better” and “because I realized I need you”. How sweet it is!

  • When I was with Andy Warhol, I thought, 'God, his wig looks cheaper than mine!'
  • Dolly Parton

Thursday, March 14th, 2019

Alpha Females

“In theory, Vera liked strong women, in practice, they often irritated her.” – Ann Cleaves, author of Vera series 

I read the above phrase and it stayed on my mind. I must admit that it hit home with me. I have known many very strong women over my long career. Some inspired me and some completely turned me off. Maybe you can identify with that.

As I think back, the reason that some strong women irritated me was not that they were strong. It was because they were irritating. I have known mild-manner females who have also irritated me. Such is life. There have certainly been many males, strong and mild, who have irritated me, too!

The passage and these thoughts inspired me to look a little deeper into the issue of strong females. I do believe that women in the profession of public accounting need to have strength and grit if they want to survive.

This is from the site Science of People: The term ‘alpha female’ is thrown around casually, but what does the science have to say? What is an alpha female? Here is the real definition of an alpha female, based on the latest research. The Alpha Female: 9 Ways You Can Tell Who is an Alpha Woman. 

The Nine Traits:

  1. Fearless Leadership
  2. High Emotional Intelligence
  3. Obsessive Learners
  4. Strong
  5. Are Sought Out
  6. Highly Ambitious
  7. Love Their Mommas (and Daddys)
  8. Cultivate Harmony
  9. Exceptional Confidence

Read the article and share it with other females in your firm.

  • She's proof that you can walk through hell and still be an angel.
  • R. H. Sin

Tuesday, March 12th, 2019

The Impression You Make

Did you know the phrase, “the clothes make the man” is from Shakespeare’s Hamlet?

In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Polonius tells his son Laertes to dress well because “apparel oft proclaims the man“; this phrase is now expressed in modern parlance as “the clothes maketh the man“.

I think the phrase could be construed to fit both males and females in accounting – “how you are dressed often speaks volumes before you utter a single word”.

Several years ago I was the featured speaker for a state society. It was a luncheon to honor women of influence in the CPA profession in that state. Four women were being honored. They were different ages and from different employers or self-employed. One was a sole proprietor, one worked for a mid-size firm, one from corporate and one from the big four.

I met and chatted with them before the event and then I watched as the room began to fill for the luncheon. Because of the nature of the event, most gentlemen were in coats and ties and the women were also dressed professionally.

One gentleman entered the room and immediately I thought “he’s a big four partner”. He, too, was dressed professionally. His haircut, his posture, his expressions, and the quality of his clothing clearly stated professionalism that was above any other person I had noticed in the room. Yes, I was right. He greeted the lady from the big four firm and he was later introduced as a partner at XXX firm.

That impression has stayed with me for many years. What do people think when I walk into a room? What do they think about you?

  • A good first impression can work wonders.
  • J. K. Rowling