Thursday, May 27th, 2021

Chill Out – Substitute Fascinated for Frustrated

“Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.” – Kurt Vonnegut

Working at a growing, busy CPA firm can be frustrating at times. That is not an earth-shaking statement. You know it all too well! I have a light-hearted story for you today.

What do you do to relieve the frustrations that come your way almost on a daily (or hourly) basis? I have a suggestion that might help.

Many years ago I learned a way to reduce the stress of frustrations from a colleague who always looked on the bright side of things. She continually inspired me to be a better leader and to be a better person. No matter the situation, she found a way to take positive value from the experience.

As we went through the ups and downs of our busiest season, I found myself facing way too many frustrations. During one of these moments, my colleague gave me some excellent advice.

She suggested I substitute the word fascinated for frustrated. It is very simple but when I started thinking in this way, it simply took the edge off!

“Isn’t it fascinating that Joe Client drops off his information every year at the last minute and expects us to have it completed within one or two days? I wonder what causes him to demonstrate that behavior? Maybe he struggles with an assistant (or spouse) who isn’t proactive in helping him prepare and organize.”

“It really fascinates me that Sally Sue always leaves a mess in the break room. Perhaps she was raised by a wicked aunt that made her scrub floors every week-end!”

Try working a fascinating story into your frustrations. Yes, I have actually tried this and it helps me smile and de-stress.

  • "It is hardly possible to build anything if frustration, bitterness and a mood of helplessness prevail."
  • Lech Walesa

Wednesday, May 26th, 2021

Doing Your Best With Virtual Meetings

“No matter what time it is, wake me, even if it’s in the middle of a cabinet meeting.” – Ronald Reagan

I hear it over and over again, CPA firm citizens are suffering from Zoom fatigue. I have experienced some frustrations, too. There are people who never participate, don’t turn on their video on, don’t mute sound and so on.

It is up to the meeting host to facilitate a productive meeting. If you are the host for some meetings, there is a great list of suggestions from Paul McDonald in a recent issue of CPA Practice Advisor. The topics are:

  • No agenda, no meeting
  • Use visual stimuli
  • Have a backup plan
  • Get everyone involved
  • Set some ground rules
  • Video on, sound off
  • Keep to time
  • Show empathy
  • Always follow up
  • Consider alternatives
  • Do check your tech
  • Don’t multitask
  • Do check your background
  • Don’t use speakerphone
  • Do come prepared
  • Don’t interrupt
  • Do connect on a human level

Be sure to follow this link to read the helpful information about each of these bullet points. Become the champion meeting host for your firm!

  • "If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be 'meetings'."
  • Dave Barry

Tuesday, May 25th, 2021

Don’t Delay!

“Ideas are useless unless used. The proof of their value is in their implementation. Until then, they are in limbo.” – Theodore Levitt

To be able to run an efficient and profitable accounting firm you need to do more than talk about the changes you need to make. Talking about change is an active exercise inside firms. Actually, implementing and executing the steps necessary for change is another topic altogether. This is where many firms settle on a plateau rather than to continue climbing the mountain.

In my early days in public accounting I worked for the founder of the firm, a person in what we now call the Veteran (or Mature) Generation. If we had an issue or challenge he would proceed with Ready, Aim, Fire. We would research solutions (ready), adopt them to fit our size firm (aim) and then implement (fire). He did not hesitate.

As the Baby Boomers took over leadership of firms or founded firms, many of them seemed to find implementation more difficult – for various reasons. Even today, I observe so many firms that have adopted: Ready, Aim, Aim, Aim, Aim, Aim……

In today’s rapidly changing environment in public accounting and especially in technology and in the nature of our workforce, practitioners (Gen-X and Millennial leaders) must be able to Fire, Fire, Fire if they want the firm to stay ahead of the competition.

In dealing with succession, many firms are still in the “aim, aim, aim, aim” mode.

  • "Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard."
  • Guy Kawasaki

Monday, May 24th, 2021

The Rosenberg Survey

“Getting information off the Internet is like taking a drink from a fire hydrant.” – Mitch Kapor

Today I have a message (and reminder) from my friend Charles Hylan:

Welcome to the other side of the tax deadline!
The 2021 Rosenberg Survey is well underway and so far, we’ve received a great response.

Our world has certainly changed and the need to proactively lead your accounting firm cannot be any higher!

The 2021 Rosenberg Survey will include financial results from 2020 and how the accounting profession navigated the pandemic.
Click Here for this year’s Rosenberg Survey Form
For over two decades, The Rosenberg Survey has proven to be the benchmarking standard for mainstream accounting firms across the US and Canada. The Rosenberg Survey provides highly relevant and in-depth analyses and serves as a guide to help your firm make strategic decisions.

See how valuable The Rosenberg Survey is for yourself! The deadline to complete the survey is Thursday, July 15th.

Thank you to those firms who have participated thus far!

Regards,
Charles Hylan
  • "Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense."
  • Gertrude Stein

Friday, May 21st, 2021

One of Your Biggest Challenges

“The best way out of a difficulty is through it.” – Will Rogers

This week for Flashback Friday, I encourage you to read about one of your biggest challenges. Here is a post from 2019.

  • "The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones."
  • Maynard Keynes

Thursday, May 20th, 2021

Keep Your Eye On The Ball

“The trick is this: keep your eye on the ball. Even when you can’t see the ball.” – Tony Robbins

Today’s title applies to several sports. I think of golf and baseball. It also applies to partners (especially the managing partner) in accounting firms.

Keeping your eye on the ball applies throughout the game or match, not just as certain times. Managing an accounting firm requires you to keep your “eye on the ball” throughout the year, not just during busy season.

I have observed that some CPA firm owners have lucrative outside interests. Maybe it is another business or even life events, perhaps building a new house. You get distracted and yes, it is understandable. You expect the firm to run smoothly without you. Your firm administrator does a great job of running operations but he/she do not “run” the other partners or the visionary topics that need to keep moving no matter if it is summer.

After you recuperate from the never-ending tax season, hopefully that will only take a week or two, you need to regroup and focus on the inside health of the firm. Are there performance issues with staff or partners? Do you need to re-evaluate office space and/or negotiate a new lease? Are you now moving ahead with that M&A deal you put off until after May 17th? Do you need to further negotiate with that other acquisition to expand firm services?

By not keeping your eye on the ball, you might just “kill the golden goose.”

  • "Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever."
  • Mahatma Gandhi

Wednesday, May 19th, 2021

What Do You Think?

“To think that in such a place I led such a life.”

I am in a reflective frame of mind this morning. My granddaughter graduated, summa cum laude, from Miami University (of Ohio) on Sunday. She is off to begin a new life adventure.

The above quote is an inscription on a statue sculpted by a Miami undergraduate. Miami uses the quote extensively and especially at graduation time. I imagine that any new graduate, at any university, could apply the quotation to themselves.

My reflective question for you is, could you apply this thought to your career at your CPA firm? I can.

I hope you can apply the thought not only to your firm but to your home, your neighborhood, and your city or town. As with the college experience, you must often move on and explore new opportunities, maybe in another firm, neighborhood, or town. Hopefully, with good memories. I have.

  • "Take care of your memories for you cannot relive them."
  • Bob Dylan

Tuesday, May 18th, 2021

Show Them

“Businesses that forget that their primary business is the people business will not last.” – Steve Keating

Steve Keating’s post on May 16 certainly struck a chord with me. He addressed the issue of companies establishing titles for people in hopes that a person with a title would make employees feel more included and appreciated. He says that there are too many “buzz word” titles floating around. I certainly see this in the CPA profession.

Keating says, “Instead of endowing people with fancy titles that say “we care” how about actually caring? How about showing you care for everyone equally instead of saying it again and again?”

Calling people “human capital” has always grated on my nerves and I have heard it too often from CPA firm leaders. I always try to remind CPA leaders that they are not in the numbers business, they are in the people business. Be sure to read Keating’s post.

  • "When the company shows they care about their people, all their people, equally, they don’t need fancy titles."
  • Steve Keating

Monday, May 17th, 2021

The New CPA Exam

“The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.” – Vidal Sassoon

They are changing the CPA Exam again. It is shifting to put an increased focus on technology. July 1, 2021 is when this shift in the Exam will take place.

From Accounting Today: As the accounting profession evolves to meet today’s needs, the Uniform CPA Examination is also evolving to reflect these industry changes. On July 1, 2021, the CPA exam is shifting significantly to put a heavier focus on technology, digital mindsets, data analytics, and the other skills that newly licensed CPAs need to succeed. Candidates preparing to take the CPA Exam must take these updates into consideration.

Here’s the informative article, What every candidate needs to know about the updated CPA exam, via Accounting Today. Read it and share it.

I wonder how many CPA partners could pass the exam if they had to take it in 2021. I have often heard partners joke about it (meaning they couldn’t pass it now, let alone after July 1).

  • "Study while others are sleeping, Work while others are loafing, Prepare while others are playing, and Dream while others are wishing."
  • William Arthur Ward

Friday, May 14th, 2021

Persistence

“What you have learned is never enough.” – – Cher Wang

This week for Flashback Friday I want to share what you can learn from a seven-year-old boy.

As a leader in an accounting firm, you should always encourage and demonstrate persistence.

The post about persistence was written in 2010 about my grandson. He was seven. This month he is eighteen and graduating from high school!

  • "Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in."
  • Bill Bradley