Archive for the ‘Reading’ Category

Friday, December 7th, 2018

Do We Make Leadership Too Difficult?

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

In the CPA profession, there is an enormous amount of resources for leadership training. We hear about it all the time, we read about it all the time and there are hundreds of books written every year on leadership. Almost all of the prominent CPA management advisors offer a “leadership training” program. And yes, I write many blog posts on the topic of leadership.

Does all the training and reading on leadership work? Are we making it too difficult? Are we expecting too much? Are we spending too much on leadership training? Isn’t most of it obtained by experience and passion?

I hope you follow HBR on Twitter (@harvardbiz). Here’s an HBR tweet I read this week that led me to an excellent article:

With such a flurry of developments, there must be some useful new ways to think about leadership.

An excerpt from the article:

The reality, however, is somewhat different. Yes, the leadership development industry is thriving, and yes there are a lot of new and interesting ideas, some of which may prove to be helpful. But despite many changes in our context — as organizations have become more democratic and networked, for example — in its fundamentals leadership has not changed over the years. It is still about mobilizing people in an organization around common goals to achieve impact, at scale.

Getting a promotion or becoming a partner does not make you a leader.

  • Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

Read Read Read

I love to read. I used to read almost every major new business book that came to my attention. Now, I read a much wider variety of things – books, articles, blogs, whitepapers, and tweets. I learn things from all of these that can be applied to the CPA profession.

As for business books. I sometimes get tired of the “new idea of the month” club. So, I widened my view of the world. I read thrillers, mysteries, science fiction, historical topics, biographies and sometimes Dave Barry, just to make me laugh.

I know what you are thinking. You don’t have time! Listen to audio books as you commute. Get up 30 minutes earlier and read while you drink your first cup of coffee. One day a week, skip lunch and read for an hour. Don’t sleep in on the weekends – get up early and read. When you flying, rather than watching a movie on your phone, read something.

Here are some great quotes about reading.

“Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren’t very new after all.” – Abraham Lincoln

“Books are mirrors. You only see in them what you already have inside of you.” – Carlos Zafon

“Classic – – a book which people praise and don’t read.” – Mark Twain

“If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.” – P. J. O’Rourke

  • If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.
  • Haruki Murakami

Monday, October 29th, 2018

Office Halloween Fun

“Double, double toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble.” – From Shakespeare’s Macbeth

Over the years, at my firm, we had some wonderful, fun times at Halloween. Bringing in team members children to trick or treat at each office or desk, organizing the best costume contest and having refreshments in the late afternoon.

I know that many CPA firms do similar things and have a lot of fun. However, this year, and going forward, you must be careful and set some guidelines. I’m sure you have all read and heard about the high-profile news person who lost her job over a comment about Halloween costumes. As with so many things, these days, you must be cautious when it comes to almost any topic.

Here are some guidelines from Huffington Post:

Pick a theme – For example, dress like one of your favorite cartoon characters.

Avoid Controversial Costumes – such as dressing like a particular politician.

Don’t Forget It Is a Workday – Will your costume make it uncomfortable to perform some of your routine duties?

No Pressure – Not everyone in your office may enjoy Halloween. No one HAS to dress in a costume.

Decorate Tastefully – Avoid toy weapons and any blood, guts and gore aspects of decorating.

Go Easy on the Alcohol – that is if you serve it at all. Some tasty punch might be more appropriate.

Here’s an article via Inc. by Suzanne Lucas, @RealEvilHRLady about last week’s incident.

  • Villainy wears many masks, none so dangerous as the mask of virtue.
  • Ichabod Crane, Sleepy Hallow

Wednesday, October 17th, 2018

Meetings Are Important – Make Them Matter

“The problem with communication is the illusion that it has occurred.” – Sigmund Freud

We have all thought it and probably said it out loud, “Oh no, not another meeting! I don’t have time for this.”

I recently read an interview by Skip Prichard of Paul Axtell about his new book – Meetings Matter: 8 Powerful Strategies for Remarkable Conversations. As Prichard notes, he thought it would be a snooze but he actually even re-read it. The book goes far beyond meetings, it is great advice on how to be more effective.

In the interview, Axtell explains:

  • Our time in ineffective meetings far outweighs our time in powerful meetings. No wonder we moan and groan.
  • Meetings are actually at the heart of an effective organization. They are a place and situation where clarity can be achieved, decisions made, alignment garnered and actions identified. (Don’t you wish your partner meetings and retreats could be described like that?)
  • Conversations matter. Here are the 4 C’s of a Conversation: Clarity, Candor, Commitment, and Completion. (Read more about each one in the interview.)

I’m going to read the book. I hope you read both the interview and the book. Set a 2019 goal to have more productive and interesting meetings.

  • If I'm not happy in this time and place, I'm not paying attention.
  • Jodi Hills

Monday, October 1st, 2018

I Love Small Firms

“A big business starts small.” – Richard Branson

I have heard the following numbers mentioned by consultants and AICPA leaders many times. I also use them often. I like to make people working in public accounting aware of the numbers.

There are approximately 46,000 CPA firms in the USA and the 500th largest firm has about 20 people and $3M in revenue. Most recently, I read these numbers via Accounting today in an article by Edward Mendlowitz of Withum. He also notes that small firms outnumber large firms 91 to 1.

In the article, I discovered that he and I have something in common. We like to focus our consulting efforts on smaller firms.

Over the years I have worked directly with over 100 firms and advised and spoken to thousands of CPAs, firm administrators, HR directors, marketing directors and, IT managers. I have a large following for my daily blog and tweets. I have found, much like Mr. Mendlowitz, that small firms need help.

These firms, unlike the larger firms, aren’t big enough to justify hiring full-time support professionals such as HR, marketing, and management professionals. They need and are willing to pay for outside resources that will help them manage better and improve operations.

I find leaders of smaller firms interesting, enthusiastic and receptive to new ideas and methods. Yet, much like accountants in larger firms, they find it very challenging to implement.

Be sure to read the article in the link above.

  • I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.
  • Steve Jobs

Wednesday, September 12th, 2018

Improve Your Writing

“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” – Mark Twain

Accountants must be good at numbers and they also need to be good writers.

According to a recent post by Grammarly, many writers use filler words and phrases and they also use hedging words because they don’t want to appear demanding and bossy.

I am guilty of using hedging words and I never realized it. I also observe that many accountants do the same.

Here are some good examples via Grammarly:

Slightly

I’m slightly annoyed by Kate’s repeated tardiness.

Sort of, Kind of

Their plan was kind of short-sighted.

Rather, somewhat

The play was rather interesting.

Quite

His car is quite fast.

Probably

We should probably wait to send that email until we have final approval.

If you need to learn more ways to improve your writing, read the entire post.

  • Substitute 'damn' every time you're inclined to write 'very;' your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.
  • Mark Twain

Monday, August 13th, 2018

Cul de sac

“If your job is a cul-de-sac, you have to quit or accept the fact that your career is over.” – Seth Godin

Cul de sac is a dead-end street. It goes nowhere. Seth Godin talks about cul-de-sac jobs in his book The Dip.

If you are working in a CPA firm, no matter what your title, you might find yourself in a cul-de-sac job. You work and you work and nothing much happens. It doesn’t get better, it doesn’t get worse. It just is.

Get off the cul-de-sac – why invest your life in something not getting any better.

Some of you work in cul-de-sac firms. There is a lot of talk about how things will get better but nothing much seems to happen. Years pass by.

Some of you are in cul-de-sac partner groups. Same as above, lots of talk but not much really happens. Years pass by.

Move your firm and/or yourself out of the cul-de-sac.

 

  • People settle. They settle for less than they are capable of.
  • Seth Godin

Wednesday, July 18th, 2018

Top 50 Accounting Blogs

“Reading gives us somewhere to go when we have to stay where we are.” – Mason Cooley

I was thrilled to receive notification that Crush The CPA Exam has named my blog one of their Top 50. I am Number 12. Read more about it below and also check out the entire list. There may be several blogs that you should be reading. Of course, read mine first. I post every business day.

Blogs are a fantastic and severely underrated method of staying up to date on all kinds of interesting subcultures and industries. Sure, social media such as Facebook and Twitter can provide faster updates and hotter takes; however, the fact remains that if you want to read long-form articles of substance on a niche topic, you want to look on a blog.

Accounting is no different. While a lot of interesting news and op-eds can be read through publications like the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, or Bloomberg, these are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to finance-related written works. To help you find the best of the best, we’ve cultivated a list of the top 50 accounting blogs in no particular order.

No two blogs are created equal, and these accounting and finance-related blogs are no exception. Some of these blogs are great for individuals without any professional accounting experience who are looking for advice, some of them are geared toward students looking to become CPA’s, and some are perfect for seasoned professionals looking for an expert’s take on the latest developments.

These blogs were chosen based on their popularity, post quality, and post frequency. All of these blogs are also actively posting new content as of June 2018.

  • Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.
  • P. J. O'Rourke

Monday, July 16th, 2018

Six Habits of Mind

“Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be.” – John Wooden

Alan Wurtzel, the former CEO of Circuit City, spent three years exploring the rise and fall of his company. He offers some important Habits of Mind. He wrote a book titled, Good to Great to Gone. Here are his Habits of Mind:

6 Habits of Mind:

1. Be Humble; Run Scared. Constantly doubt your understanding of things. Say, “I may not be right.”

2. Curiosity Sustains the Cat: Answers end curiosity. Keep curiosity alive by saying, “That’s a great answer are there other options?”

3. Confront the Brutal FactsIf you don’t confront the brutal facts now, they’ll confront you later.

4. Boldly Follow Through: Big ideas require bold leadership and attract loyal followers.

5. Mind the Culture: Create a caring and ethical culture where employees can make mistakes without fear of adverse consequences.

6. Encourage Debate: Encourage and learn from dissent.

  • There is no failure except in no longer trying.
  • Chris Bradford

Thursday, June 7th, 2018

Lack of Sleep

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep.” – Robert Frost

If you are working for a CPA firm, you are working hard. Often, it is fast-paced, challenging, stressful and frustrating – but not all the time. Sometimes, it is slow and boring – but that is rare (my opinion).

You get up early so you can get to the office early so you can have some quiet time before the crowd arrives. Then, you also often stay late for the same reason. You still have home duties and want to spend time with your family so you probably stay up later than you should. You rise at 4:30 or 5:00 and get to bed at 11:00, 11:30 or 12:00. You are definitely not getting enough sleep.

All of this affects your productivity. Some experts have actually noted that showing up for work sleep deprived can be the equivalent of showing up to work intoxicated!

Experts also tell us that you should be getting 7 – 9 hours of sleep per night. I know when I worked in a growing firm, I usually got about 5-1/2 to 6 hours of sleep – for years. Now that I work from home, I can attest that getting 7 hours sleep per night makes a big, positive difference.

Lack of sleep not only affects your productivity at work, it affects your health.

Here’s a good article to share with your team via Fast Company: Why We Can’t Sleep And What It’s Doing to Our Work.

 

  • Sleep is the best meditation.
  • Dalai Lama