Monday, January 27th, 2020

Fight it! – Procrastination

“You may delay, but time will not, and lost time is never found again.” – Benjamin Franklin

I have observed that accountants are masters at procrastination.

Definition: Procrastinate: delay or postpone action, put off doing something.

You would think that people who are deadline driven would avoid procrastination. That doesn’t seem to be the case. Here’s what I have seen over and over again during my several decades working in public accounting.

Procrastination is practiced throughout tax season and as due dates near, fire drills begin. Thus, hectic and stressful times reign for ten days before the due date.

Procrastination runs rampant after a partner or management retreat. The common excuses are:

  • We are too busy.
  • We can’t work on it now (the firm initiative), we are too busy with performance reviews.
  • The fall due dates are approaching.
  • We have to do so much tax planning in December.
  • We will have to wait until after April 15.
  • After April 15, too many people are taking time off.

Experts tell us that most people procrastinate because they don’t like what they do. If you love what you do, you procrastinate less.

According to Jeffrey Gitomer, there are two things you can do to fight procrastination – 1) Set a false (earlier) deadline, and 2) Enjoy the deadline, instead of lamenting it.

I usually approach completing tasks this way. I do what I dread first and then can enjoy the projects I am passionate about.

If you are not passionate about what you mostly do, you better find another job.

  • "In a moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing to do, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing."
  • Theodore Roosevelt

Friday, January 24th, 2020

Provide Training For Your Leaders – Please!

“Learning never exhausts the mind.” – Leonardo da Vinci

Convergence Coaching’s Spring Transformational Leadership Program™ (TLP) is open for registration! This year-long program kicks off at the end of May and is designed to take high-potential managers, senior managers, principals, and newer partners to their next level of success in leading others and the firm.

So much is changing. Now is the time to expand your visibility & take on a meaningful role to drive change at your #firm. Learn the skills you need to advance your #role with the @ConvergenceSays TLP. Here is a helpful video –  https://youtu.be/xKP8KeKFMkg

For more detailed information about this valuable program, click here.

The program fills up quickly so don’t wait too long to register.

  • "Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn."
  • Benjamin Franklin

Thursday, January 23rd, 2020

Banish the Interruptions

“Half of the troubles of this life can be traced to saying yes too quickly and not saying no soon enough.” – Josh Billings

You arrive at the office very early ahead of everyone else. Maybe you get up at 4:30 a.m. and work from home a couple of hours before you leave.

You need more time to get your work done because during the traditional work hours – 8 to 5 – you have too many interruptions. You cannot even walk down the hall to the coffee station without getting stopped by someone asking a question.

You are a “go-to” person and you always give people answers. Maybe you should stop.

Why are people constantly coming to you for answers and guidance? If you have hired the right people, they will not need constant guidance. If you hire B players you will be continually stuck in a squirrel cage. Hire people smarter than you. You have heard that piece of advice for years but do you actually do it?

Develop your team and shield yourself from phone calls, emails and a line outside your door.

Firm administrators, managers, and managing partners – I am talking to you!

 

  • "The oldest, shortest words – ‘yes’ and ‘no’ – are those which require the most thought."
  • Pythagoras

Thursday, January 23rd, 2020

CPAs Can Move On To Other Adventures

“Sooner or later we’ve all got to let go of our past.” – Dan Brown

Many of you may know Tommye Barie, CPA, former Chair of the AICPA.

Here’s a press release from CPA.com about Ms. Barie:

Former AICPA Chair Tommye Barie to Join CPA.com Board

NEW YORK (Jan. 22, 2020) –Tommye E. Barie, CPA, former chair of the American Institute of CPAs, has been named to the board of directors of CPA.com.

Barie has a proven track record of leadership with various organizations. She’s spent her career as a CPA focusing on audit and consulting services for governmental entities and not-for-profit organizations, primarily as a partner with Mauldin & Jenkins LLC, a Top 100 accounting firm based in the Southeast, where she founded the firm’s client advisory services practice.

“Tommye knows how to build an advisory services practice from the ground up and also has over 30 years of experience as an audit and assurance partner,” said Erik Asgeirsson, president and CEO of CPA.com. “Her expertise in both these practice areas brings a great breadth of experience to our board as we advance our Dynamic Audit Solution and client accounting services initiatives.”

As chair of the AICPA from 2014-15, Barie focused on continued relevance for the profession, particularly through the ability to spot trends and new opportunities for growth, such as a deeper application of data analytics and new specializations in technology consulting.

Her thought leadership on culture, strategy and innovation led to Barie being recognized as one of Accounting Today’s 100 most influential people in the accounting profession. Additionally, the Michigan Society of CPAs recognized her with their Outstanding Visionary Award.

Barie currently is executive vice president of leadership development at the Succession Institute, a consulting firm that specializes in strategy, executive development and succession planning.  She is also past chair of the Florida Institute of CPAs, and a current board member of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) and Stetson University’s board of advisors.

  • "The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward."
  • Steve Maraboli

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2020

Holding Everyone Back

“Productivity is being able to do things that you were never able to do before.” – Franz Kafka

I have seen it many, many times. You have seen it inside your own firm. Certain people simply opt-out of learning new processes, procedures and new technology. They do things the way they have always done them.

I used to recommend that you ignore them, work around them and take the majority of your people forward. Don’t let one person sink the whole ship. I don’t want you to make it easy for these non-compliant people. If they can’t keep up, don’t make another person do the work for them.

This often happens with older partners and especially with owners who have supposedly retired but continue to work at the firm. They will definitely have difficulty keeping up with the firm technology and usually expect an admin person or some other staff to “take care of them.”

All this came to mind because of a recent tweet by my good friend, Dustin Hostetler (@Flowtivity). Here’s his tweet and I agree!

Firms are not maximizing their technology investment until all team members are embracing the technology. Having workarounds for certain individuals because they don’t know how to use it (or won’t learn) to perform their function of the process holds everyone back.

  • "The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It's as simple as that. A lot people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today!"
  • Nolan Bushnell

Tuesday, January 21st, 2020

Reading For Tax Professionals

“Am I unhappy at my job?” – Tony Nitti

Whether you are a tax professional, another accountant or an admin professional working inside a public accounting firm I hope you will take the time to read this Forbes article written by Tony Nitti.

It is titled, The Five New Year’s Resolutions Every Tax Pro Should Make.

I know! You are busy. You are always busy. Find the time to read.

  • "You don't have to love your career every day."
  • Tony Nitti

Monday, January 20th, 2020

Retaining Top Talent

“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” – Steve Jobs

It is very difficult to find and hire talented accountants and administrative personnel. Accounting firms have been struggling for years with this topic and it only seems to be getting more challenging. So, once you do hire a qualified person, how do you keep them?

I recently read a good article via HBR titled, Why People Quit Their Jobs.

In the CPA profession, we have heard for years that the reason people leave their jobs is the fact that they have a poor manager (boss).

Research now tells us that there is more to it than just a bad manager. Technology has enabled companies to better track reasons people leave jobs. A lot of it is personal reasons. Another interesting aspect is that large companies are tracking what employees are doing that might indicate they are unhappy with their current job like how much time they spend on LinkedIn.

It seems that comparing themselves to their peer group – both business peers and personal friends causes people to consider their current job status.

Take a few minutes to read the article, I think you will find it helpful in your quest to retain top talent.

  • "Hiring the right people takes time, the right questions and a healthy dose of curiosity. What do you think is the most important factor when building your team? For us, it’s personality."
  • Richard Branson

Thursday, January 16th, 2020

Rainmakers Retiring

“What differentiates sellers today is their ability to bring fresh ideas.” – Jill Konrath

In many CPA firms, the most successful rainmakers are still in the baby boomer category. Yet, as we all know, baby boomers are retiring at the rate of 10,000 per day.

Who will replace your top rainmaker(s)? This is a valid concern in many accounting firms. But, times are changing and so is the role of the CPA firm rainmaker.

In an informative article via Accounting Today, written by Lee Frederiksen, he notes that the rainmaker model is beginning to dry up!

Attracting new clients used to be based on the personalities of certain partners. These partners were out and about in the business community and made contacts that led to new business.

Now, a prospective client has checked out the firm, it’s leaders and the services they provide before anyone at the firm has actually met them. Future clients are searching for the firm with the right expertise to solve their specific business challenges. Hopefully, your firm possesses the services and expertise they are looking for and they can find it on your website.

Be sure to read the entire article.

  • "The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing."
  • Walt Disney

Wednesday, January 15th, 2020

The “Save the Day” Person

“Some heroes save the day. Other heroes keep the day from needing to be saved.” – from a Mark Sanborn tweet

When I read the above quote, I thought of CPA firm administrators. They are the unsung heroes inside so many successful and profitable accounting firms.

Top-notch firm administrators/practice managers keep the wheels turning, eliminate the hurdles and often “take a bullet” for the sake of the firm and the team.

The best part is, as noted in the above quotation, they keep the day from needing to be saved.

How much are you investing in your “Save the Day” person? Are you spending money to send them to the right conferences? Are you, as partners, standing firmly behind them as they take those daily bullets? Are you investing in their professional growth by providing a coach?

A successful firm administrator shields the partners from the daily grind.

  • "Stones in the road? I save every single one, and one day I'll build a castle."
  • Fernando Pesssoa

Tuesday, January 14th, 2020

Achieving Your Goals

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” – Tony Robbins

I recently received my copy of the hireMAX Spotlight newsletter. I have enjoyed a long business friendship with the president and founder, Norm Bobay. hireMAX provides employee selection and development programs.

The newsletter article titled, 7 Steps To Achieve Your Business Goals, describes how Navy SEALs achieve their goals. There is a lot of good advice for CPAs who want to become more successful.

When most of us think about Navy SEALs, we think of their bravery and toughness. They take on dangerous missions and seem to achieve the impossible.

In the book The Navy SEAL Art of War by Rob Roy, he talks about how Navy SEALs accomplish these amazing feats. He explains that it’s more about the process than the ability. He lays out these seven steps that you can use to tackle your scariest goals.

  1. Always ask clarifying questions. SEALs ask very specific questions to understand their mission clearly. You need to ask yourself the Who, Why, What, When, Where, and How questions about your goal. Use each of these questions to better clarify your objective. You don’t want to go into a mission misinformed about what the objective of it was. The same thing is important when you go after achieving a goal.
  1. Inventory all of your available resources. This includes knowing what you have now and what’s coming down the road. Note your tangible resources such as technology and money. Don’t forget to include the intangible resources such as your network and your skills. Consider every resource available to you that can help you reach your goal.
  1. Clearly set up roles and responsibilities. If your goal involves help from your team, make sure they know their role and responsibility in achieving it.
  1. Maintain hyper-focus on your goal. Leaders don’t make excuses and they don’t let circumstances cause them to need an excuse.
  1. Think through all possible contingencies and outcomes. Be prepared to work around any problems that may arise. A failure to plan is a planned failure. 
  1. Train every day. SEALs train a lot. They practice over and over again until they’re stress-proof. You need to do the same. The more you train, the faster you’ll be. Training can help you quickly evade problems that arise. 
  1. The last step is to celebrate! Scratch that. This step is definitely not on the Navy Seals list. It’s great that you reached your goal but now you need an after-action review. Navy SEAL’s debrief after every mission. You need to do something similar. Look back to see if there are areas you can improve on when you go after your next goal. Rehash the mistakes you made and learn from them to do better next time.

Leaders can learn from Navy SEALs and utilize their processes in the business world. Implement the seven steps above and you’ll be on your way to achieving your next goal.

 

  • "The only easy day was yesterday."
  • ..a Navy SEALs motto