Monday, November 26th, 2018

Listen to the Ideas of Others

“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”  – John Steinbeck

The managing partner knows a lot and maybe even thinks he/she knows more than others.

The partner group knows a lot and maybe even think they know exactly what needs to be done at the firm.

The managers know a lot and maybe even think they are always right.

The accounting team knows a lot and maybe even more than the partners!

The admin team knows a lot and often has even more insight than anyone else.

Build a culture where people are very comfortable sharing their ideas and what they know without the threat of being discounted or even ridiculed. Sometimes the “higher-ups” ignore and discount ideas and sometimes the “lower-downs” do the same. It goes both ways.

  • "An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all."
  • Oscar Wilde

Thursday, November 22nd, 2018

Count Your Blessing

“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around. – Willie Nelson

A definition of blessing per Merriman Webster:  a thing conducive to happiness or welfare, such as:

  • My daughter is a blessing to me in my old age.
  • Their absence turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
  • Count your blessings.

I hope you are counting your blessings today but also hope that you do it every day. Check out this ad about a man being so happy about the gifts he has received.

Happy Turkey Day to all my wonderful readers, followers, clients and friends. I count all of you among my many blessings! Enjoy your day with family and friends. Find some quiet time over the 4-day weekend to think about, and count all your blessings. (Also, find some time to read!)

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Thanksgiving

  • "It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them."
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, November 21st, 2018

Abundance

With Thanksgiving coming up tomorrow, abundance comes to mind. Most of us have too much….. stuff, food, drink, cars, homes, and more.

Do you have an abundance of rules, regulations, processes, procedures inside your firm? Do you ask your employees to do things that really don’t need to be done?

Often, when we move procedures into a more computerized system, we use the same steps that we used when we did it manually. Encourage people to question WHY they are doing things and make suggestions on a better way.

A meaningful quote by Peter Drucker caused me to write this blog:

“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”

  • "Not what we have but what we enjoy, constitutes our abundance."
  • Epicurus

Tuesday, November 20th, 2018

Inside An Accounting Firm – Find Happiness

“Happiness, not in another place but this place…. not for another hour, but this hour.” – Walt Whitman

I think about accounting firms a lot. I talk with so many of you who are faced with challenges and even worry about how you will move forward into the enchanting future that awaits the accounting profession.

Because it is Thanksgiving week here in the USA, it is a good time to count your blessings. Count the ways you have found happiness working in the accounting profession. CPA firms are wonderful places to work!

Try some of these ideas to maintain and increase your happiness at work:

Live and let live – – Don’t micromanage. Don’t gossip and worry about what other employees are doing.

Be giving of yourself to others – – put some structure around your mentoring activities. Mentoring happens naturally inside CPA firms – enhance it and help others.

Sundays should be holidays – – When I began my career in a CPA firm, no one at our firm EVER worked on a Sunday. It had nothing to do with religion, specifically, it was just that our founder believed that everyone needed a day of rest, a time to recharge. The more hours you work in a week the bigger chance you will make errors or poor decisions.

Stop being negative – – I see this all the time.  I continually say to people working in CPA firms – STOP WHINING!  Public accounting is an honorable, prestigious career, you work with intelligent people, you work in beautiful offices, you make friends with other top-quality professionals, you get to see businesses grow and prosper (with your help), you become admired by others in the business community for your expertise – – focus on the positive!

  • "Don't take life too seriously. You'll never get out of it alive."
  • Elbert Hubbard

Monday, November 19th, 2018

Treating People With “Ignore”

“Over and over I marvel at the blessings of my life: Each year has grown better than the last.” – Lawrence Welk

Do you have one of those people (usually a partner) in your firm that treats people with “ignore”?

They come in the front door in the morning and don’t say a word or make eye contact with anyone else. They hurriedly walk to their office.

They come into the break room first thing in the morning to get a cup of coffee, quickly pour it and exit without acknowledging the presence of several others in the room.

They rarely, if ever, even say good morning to anyone.

The rarely, if ever, say thank-you when a team member provides something for them or passes an assignment along to them for review.

If these descriptions sound like you, wake-up! Be aware! Show people you appreciate them and care about them.

If this is someone you know, do what I always do – “kill them with kindness!” Smile at them and always say “Good morning.” Ask, “How are you today?” Ask if there is anything you can help them with. Tell them a brief, amusing story about something happening within the firm.

Sometimes, their distant behavior might be caused by more serious things, things you are not aware of. Be kind and count your blessings, especially this week.

  • "When you are grateful - when you can see what you have - you unlock blessings to flow in your life."
  • Suze Orman

Friday, November 16th, 2018

Leaders Aren’t Parents

“There’s nothing that makes you more insane than family. Or more happy. Or more exasperated. Or more… secure.” – Jim Butcher

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I follow @leadershipfreak (Dan Rockwell) and often retweet him and read his blog.

A while back he did a blog post on the topic of businesses saying that they “are like families.” He asks the question, “Is your organization/leadership like a family or like a sports team?”  I hear the family description used by many public accounting firms.

It is important that you keep in mind that your employees are not your family. My main concern with this whole topic is the fact that you find it very difficult to fire a family member. You stand by them and protect them no matter what the behavior. So, if you have a poor performer you do not deal with it very well. You even retain people who are, in no stretch of the imagination, expertly performing the duties expected of their role in the firm.

As Leadershipfreak notes:

Family style organizations find it difficult to bring up tough issues and wait too long to address poor performance. Feelings run the show. The issues you can’t discuss limit potential and hinder growth.

Read his thought-provoking post here and see if you can relate it to your accounting firm.

  • "Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten."
  • David Ogden Stiers

Thursday, November 15th, 2018

How Do You Feel About Smells?

“Money is like manure. You have to spread it around or it smells.” – J. Paul Getty

I read Real Simple magazine. I like things to be really simple.

On the last page of the November issue, they featured “Thank-you notes I dream of receiving.” The imagined notes were light-hearted but meaningful. One example of a thank-you note made me think of CPA offices.

Have you ever walked into your firm’s lobby to the welcoming smell of burnt popcorn? Perhaps, the smell of something even worse? First impressions matter. How your co-workers feel about your eating habits matter.

Be kind and considerate to each other.

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  • "A cynic is a an who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin."
  • H. L. Mencken

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

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

Get The Right Clients On The bus

“Sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that can change your life forever.” – Keri Russell

I have read all the books that David Maister wrote. Many, many of the things he wrote and spoke about hit so close to home for me when I was working in a busy CPA firm. One of his concepts is memorable for me.

Why do you work for clients you don’t like? As Maister says, you work for clients you don’t enjoy dealing with, but they pay you a lot of money. It becomes “you give me money, and I will do what you want. That sounds a lot like prostitution.”

Every firm is looking for talented employees. Some of my clients won’t even outplace poor performers because they need “bodies.” Scary and short-sighted.

What if you had the very best clients? What if you had clients who always paid on time without reminders? What if you had clients who were all interesting, successful and pleasant? What if all your clients appreciated what you do and realized the value you brought to them?

If you get the right clients on the bus, maybe you would attract more talent. If you get the right clients on the bus, maybe some of your top performers wouldn’t leave the firm.

Getting the right clients can’t be left to chance. You must choose only to serve the clients that fit your Type A profile. Be sure to develop systems where you only serve Type A clients. What does your Type A client look like? Not sure? Work with your partners to define it and outplace client that don’t fit. If you don’t do this, you will continue to attract and attempt to serve the wrong clients. You will end up serving clients you don’t even like.

  • "It doesn’t matter which side of the fence you get off on sometimes. What matters most is getting off. You cannot make progress without making decisions."
  • Jim Rohn

Monday, November 12th, 2018

Top Five Concerns

“My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.” – Abraham Lincoln

CCH released the results of their survey of firms. Here are the top five concerns published via Accounting Today:

  1. Keeping up with technological change
  2. Growing the business
  3. Meeting client expectations
  4. Data security
  5. Completing work accurately and on time

You can download the full report here.

 

  • "Concern yourself more with accepting responsibility than with assigning blame. Let the possibilities inspire you more than the obstacles discourage you."
  • Ralph Marston