Archive for the ‘Reading’ Category

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

Friday, May 11th, 2018

The 5-Hour Rule – Friday Reading

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” – George Martin

Have you ever heard of the 5-hour rule? Supposedly, it is something practiced by some of the world’s most successful people. I’m not sure if that is actually true or not but the 5-hour rule sounds like a good plan to me.

You take 1 hour from each weekday and devote it to deliberate practice and learning. Things you can do with that one-hour per day might be:

  1. Read
  2. Think
  3. Experiment

Read the entire article and learn more about these three and more.

There you have it, some Friday reading!

  • Reading is to the mind like exercise is to the body.
  • Joseph Addison

Monday, May 7th, 2018

A Fun Way To Build Your Presentation Skills

“Tough issues need soft skills.” – Kristen Rampe

My friend and CPA consultant, Kristen Rampe has unveiled an amazing new service. She is intent on helping CPAs become better speakers and presenters. For many CPAs, it is a very difficult challenge. It is called Slide Deck Improv.

Here’s a message I received from Kristen:

I wanted to share with you this fun service I’ve been working on lately. It involves helping professionals improve their speaking and presenting skills – e.g. when presenting to boards or at community/industry events. As you know, this isn’t always a strong suit for the technically-minded CPA, but I’ve found a way to help get them some practice in a fun and safe environment. It involves improv, and I’ve even captured some video of a tax manager rising to the occasion: https://kristenrampe.com/slide-deck-improv  

I enjoyed watching the tax manager in the video make his way through the improv session. This is a great way to learn!

An insightful book to read about the benefit of improv is Alan Alda’s If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on my Face?

  • With improv, it's a combination of listening and not trying to be funny
  • Kristen Wiig

Friday, April 6th, 2018

As a Mentor, You Are Sculpting

“The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.” — Steven Spielberg

A recent article via HBR – The Best Mentors Think Like Michelangelo – describes how Michelangelo considered a beautiful piece of art was already inside the stone and he worked to release it.

This is a beautiful thought to apply to your mentoring role. Here are some points from the article that might help you as your mentor the young, ambitious accountants in your accounting firm. As you have time later, be sure to read the entire article and apply these thoughts to your firm’s mentoring program.

  • The Michelangelo phenomenon refers to when a skilled and thoughtful relationship partner becomes committed to first understanding and then reinforcing or drawing out another’s ideal form.
  • A skilled mentor can bring out a promising form that might be hidden from view.
  • Excellent mentors devote the time to truly “see” their mentees. It takes time and patience to see their ideal selves.
  • A mentor must earn trust, be accessible, and listen generously.
  • Research confirms that women face more barriers to finding a mentor and when they find a male mentor, it might not result in professional and psychological benefits.
  • One reason is that men sometimes struggle with the important skill of active listening.
  • Men can be great mentors to females if they work hard at understanding some of the challenges of cross-gender mentoring.

Read the entire article and share it. Maybe it’s time to refresh your program.

  • A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you.
  • Bob Proctor