Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ Category

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

Embrace Excitement – Do Not Fear Some Risk

It has to be right.

Accountants are trained in the art of being accurate… being right.

From day one, young accountants have their work reviewed and reviewed again. They receive multiple review notes about what to re-do and correct. Sadly, in many firms they don’t even know what they did wrong, their work is corrected by a reviewer and passed along the review and production pipeline to “get it out the door.” Eventually, they learn that they are making mistakes…. So, they adopt an “avoid risk and over-work the project” work style.

706BA1163FYes, being accurate with client work is very important but it doesn’t apply to everything that is going on inside a CPA firm. Forming a supportive culture, embracing new ideas on efficiency, empowering your firm administrator, working in the Cloud, modifying HR policies, training people, hiring people are all initiatives that continually need to evolve and keep pace with trends.

Inject some excitement in your firm, try things…. Do things… If it proves unsatisfactory just change it again.

Changing things inside your firm feels very risky. Status quo feels very comfortable.

Get over it and remember:  Being alive is a risk.

  • Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.
  • T. S. Eliot

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

Sway With The Punches

This is a very busy time inside CPA firms right now.

I have talked with hundreds of people working at CPA firms during the last year – CPAs, HR professionals, firm administrators, technology gurus, and marketing professionals.

Whether you are a CPA fighting the battle first-hand or a support professional facing the continual comment from the CPAs: “I’m too busy!” (to write an article, to attend a networking event, mentor an intern, provide timely performance feedback….), you might let what happens at work “get to you”.

What do you do when you feel like you are about to “lose it”? Here’s some advice I found when I was reading The Snowman by Jo Nesbo, that might apply:

“Do what boxers do, sway with the punches. Don’t resist. If any of what happens at work gets to you, just let it. You won’t be able to shut it out in the long term anyway. Take it bit by bit, release it like a dam, don’t let it collect until the wall develops cracks.”

  • For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.
  • Lily Tomlin

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Comfort, Complacency And Status Quo

IMG_2387Experienced CPAs who have survived, long-term in public accounting work hard. However, they love the work, it’s not a penalty or a chore. They love their clients and helping them survive taxation and other financial challenges. They love helping clients build successful businesses that will provide for a comfortable retirement down the road.

After doing this for many years, they become a partner in a CPA firm and make a lot of money. They love the work and they make great money doing what they love. Life is good.

Sure, at times they do have people challenges… you know, employees and partners. Maybe even at home.

But, over the years they have become complacent. Often, almost unknowingly, they begin to strongly avoid change. They want to maintain the status quo. They are comfortable.

But…. what are they missing? What more could they do for their people, their clients and even their family?

If this sounds anything at all like you, here’s the question – – Are you comfortable or are you stuck?

  • One day everything will be well, that is our hope. Everything's fine today, that is our illusion.
  • Voltaire

Friday, January 10th, 2014

Don’t Always Believe It

I try to provide CPAs and all the people working inside CPA firms with helpful information via my presentations, workshops, newsletter, consulting activities and this blog.

Much of it comes from my many years of actual experience working inside a growing, profitable CPA firm. Some of it also comes from my extensive reading…. of books, articles, newsletters, blogs, tweets, and so on.

There is so much great information out there now via the internet. Just a word of caution, as you probably already know – – not all of it is true. I’m trying to be very careful in what I pass along and I want you to also be very careful when you hear about or read about certain trends, strategies and best practices.

My mission today is to simply share an example.

photoOn the topic of goal-setting, I have read about and heard about a study conducted by Harvard Business School over a 10-year period. The study reported that only 3% of Harvard MBAs actually write down their goals – 97% do not. The study also reported that the 3% ended up being much more successful and, over the 10-year period, were making ten times as much as the other 97% combined.

This study eventually was discovered to be fiction. Here’s the answer to an inquiry made to Harvard “Ask a Librarian” site:

I think you are referring to the “Harvard Goals Study,” reports of which periodically surface in motivational literature. We have been asked repeatedly about this research, but we have never been able to find such a study. It is frequently cited as having transpired at Yale, but librarians there have not found a trace either. 

Read the entire Harvard response here.

You can also read more about this goal-setting story here. I found it quite interesting.

The moral of the story? Be careful out there!

  • Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth.
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

It’s My Anniversary! – – Eight Years Of Daily Blogging

Photo on 11-22-13 at 7.08 AMOn January 2, 2006, I posted my first blog.  Eight years ago today. Here’s what it said:


Happy New Year 2006 and Welcome to Rita Keller’s Blog.

I know that many of you visiting this Blog are part of my expanding team of CPA firm management explorers – seeking new ways and revisiting proven, old ways of efficiently and profitably managing the CPA firm of the future – the firm where young professionals will want to build their careers.

I am just getting started, so check back soon for more information.

I thought I would blog about something every weekday to help all of the hardworking professionals involved in managing accounting firms.

Other than a very few misses….. I have been doing that for 8 years!

You can check-our the archives on the right-side of this page. If you are wondering about a specific topic (mentoring, marketing, leadership, social media) you can also click on the category to maybe find some advise and comments on your topic.

I hope you’ll stick with me through 2014. Sign-up on the right and an email will come to you each day.

  • I'd rather be a failure at something I love than a success at something I hate.
  • George Burns

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

Reflect Back But Don’t Forget To Reflect Forward

It’s that time of year. Many of us reflect back on the current year. We think about what went right and what went wrong relating to our business life in the CPA profession (or any profession for that matter). I wanted to pass along two quotes from men of accomplishment. Men we lost in 2013.

Some of you may have left your firm and joined another firm. Some of you may have merged your firm “upward” and some of you have acquired other firms. In either case, both sides have had to struggle with maintaining and embracing culture, brand and identity.

Sometimes, you don’t get your own way….. here’s a quote for any time you are feeling bitterness in your life:

“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” – – Nelson Mandela

Some of you might be very new in your career in public accounting. Just because you are in the accounting profession doesn’t mean you should not be bold. It doesn’t mean you should not take more risks with your career. It doesn’t mean you should blame the accounting profession for your boredom. Even very experienced CPAs are way too tentative about many things. Never settle for status quo. Continually move toward opportunity. This quote applies to men and women….

“I will not be a common man. I will stir the smooth sands of monotony. I do not crave security. I wish to hazard my soul to opportunity.” – – Peter O’Toole (at age 18)

  • Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.
  • Nelson Mandela

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

Are You A CPA In Public Accounting? What Do You Do…….?

SethGodinI recently read a listing of Seth Godin’s most popular blog posts of 2012. Here’s one of those posts that spoke volumes to me, as it relates to the hundreds…. thousands… of CPAs I know in public practice.

What do YOU do when you first sit down at the computer? – – Here’s Seth’s post:

The first thing you do when you sit down at the computer

Let me guess: check the incoming. Check email or traffic stats or messages from your boss. Check the tweets you follow or the FB status of friends.

You’ve just surrendered not only a block of time but your freshest, best chance to start something new.

If you’re a tech company or a marketer, your goal is to be the first thing people do when they start their day. If you’re an artist, a leader or someone seeking to make a difference, the first thing you do should be to lay tracks to accomplish your goals, not to hear how others have reacted/responded/insisted to what happened yesterday.

As a CPA firm leader – no matter what your actual title – you are someone seeking to make a difference. Use your “freshest” time wisely.

Today, take a minute to ponder the following quotation… from Godin.

  • Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don't need to escape from.
  • Seth Godin

Friday, March 29th, 2013

You Are Busy – Perhaps, You Are Stressed

StressActually, stress can be a good thing.

Working inside a CPA firm, it is your busiest time of year and you are feeling stressed by your workload, deadlines, emails, client phone calls and maybe even by the performance of your employees or your peers.

Stress, like many other things, is somewhat misunderstood. Stress can actually cause instinctive physical responses that cause us to be more aroused and more focused and more ready to respond physically and mentally to whatever is coming our way.

According to an article from HBR, How You Can Benefit From All Your Stress, like many things it depends on your attitude. I think one reason that I survived 30 years in a high-performance, high-stress, fast-paced, every-changing culture in a CPA firm is because I actually enjoyed the busiest times and the demanding performance expectations. I looked at it as fun, challenging, interesting and never-boring.

According to research, your mindset about stress is the most important thing. There is the stress-is-debilitating mindset and the stress-is-enhancing mindset. A study of 400 employees of an international financial institution found that those employees who had the stress-is-enhancing mindset reported having better health, greater life satisfaction and superior work performance.

Attitude is your responsibility. It’s the one thing you have complete control over. Sometimes in public accounting firms I think we have too many Eeyores (Woe is me. Oh no, things are bad. The sky is falling.) and not enough Bob the Builders (We can do it. Yes we can!).

  • There is more to life than increasing its speed.
  • Gandhi

Monday, February 11th, 2013

Where Are You And Your CPA Firm Headed, In the Long Run?

Long-RunWhat’s going to happen to your firm in the long run? What’s going to happen to you, as a business professional, in the long run?

Marketing guru, Seth Godin, tells us, “….the long run keeps getting shorter and that the short run has always been short and getting shorter still. In the long run, you get caught, in the long run, kindness wins out, in the long run, we learn about who you really are.”

I bet you and your partners have danced around that “what happens in the long run” topic for years. Some of you are “cashing in your chips” – another name for merging up. Still, many of you are working diligently at creating a firm that can live on. Not an easy task.

In the long run, can your firm continue to compete with the big boys? I believe there is a place for accounting firms of all sizes. Sure, the business world needs the big firms, but a big firm might not be the best fit for small business owners trying to build something for their families.

I feel this, too. I’m not one of the big boys and girls. Many consultants and advisors come across as more powerful, more persistent, someone who can drive those darn partners into submission. Sometimes you need them to do that for you.

Yet, I have advantages. My competitors are great people (just like yours) but most have never worked inside a growing firm like I did for 30 years. If they did work inside a firm, it was decades ago and they were not the person responsible for managing the firm. My other advantage is that I believe in kindness.

As Godin says, “In the long run, kindness wins out and we learn about who we really are.”

  • Character, in the long run, is the decisive factor in the life of an individual and of nations alike.
  • Theodore Roosevelt

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Who Would You Thank?

It’s award season. I guess that’s what you would call the first half of a year when many of the major award shows are televised.

The list is long. Here’s a few of the major ones that are televised:  People’s Choice Awards, Golden Globe Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards, Academy Awards. I caught a few minutes of the Golden Globe Awards last night (less than 30 min. to be exact). I’m not a big fan of award shows.

However, what I do like about them is most of the winners do remember, in a very public, visible way, to thank certain people who have been influential, helpful, key in the development of their skills and careers. Just my opinion, but most of these “stars” would absolutely not be successful if it were not for the make-up people, the agents, the long list of various “coaches,” costume designers, writers, directors and so on.

Of course, there are various awards given to accountants and other people working in the accounting profession – 40 Under 40, Most Powerful Women, Best Places to Work and so on.

But, what if YOU were named the 2013 Best CPA In A Leading Role in Public Accounting? Who would you thank? Would the people, behind the scenes supporting you, be proud?

  • I can't deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me.
  • Sally Field, accepting for her role in Norma Ray