Posts Tagged ‘accountants’

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

The Ability To Recognize Emotions In Others

I mention emotional intelligence fairly often. That is because CPAs have the reputation for ranking fairly low on the emotional intelligence scale.

The experts tell us (Daniel Goleman, author) that emotional intelligence consists of five competencies:

  1. Self-awareness
  2. Self-regulation
  3. Motivation
  4. Empathy
  5. Social Skills

I urge you to learn more about it and focus on how it plays out inside your busy CPA firm. It is essential to a productive work environment.

It does not mean you are simply nice to everyone and always pleasant. It means that you can confront others in a constructive way when problems arise. It doesn’t mean you are visibly emotional, it means you are in control of your emotions and to recognize emotions in others.

I bet that accountants reading this right now are not liking it much. I find most of them do not want to address the “warm and fuzzy” stuff. Usually, it is the simple fact that accountants think more along the lines of “business is business and personal is personal.”

In a recent article on Fast Company, Yongmei Liu, an associate professor at Illinois State University’s College of Business is quoted as follows. “A leader who has a high degree of emotional intelligence can recognize when his or her followers are not in the right emotional state to perform well.” – That would sure be helpful as you go through tax season!

Read more about it here. – article is titled, Why Emotionally Intelligent People Make More Money (maybe that got your attention).


  • It isn't stress that makes us fall - it's how we respond to stressful events.
  • Wayde Goodall

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

Do You Have What It Takes?

Accountants, for the most part, are not known for the expert selling skills. Most have not worked at honing those skills like a professional sales person has. You have a good excuse….. you did not go into accounting to be a sales person.

If you are in PUBLIC accounting, you are wrong. You provide business owners and individuals with professional services. In the good old days, CPA practitioners just “hung out a shingle” and waited. Not sure if you have noticed but our world is no longer a world where it pays off to wait.

So the next time you are facing that meeting with a potential client, do not allow that nervous fear to build-up inside you. You begin feeling that you are not good enough. They will see right through you. Your competitors are “smoother” and more convincing. Many CPAs have felt this way. You might even feel this way when you are talking to current clients. You hesitate to offer them more services. They won’t want to pay you more money. They don’t see the value and you don’t convey it very well.

You are wrong. You DO have what it takes. You DO provide value. Consider the specialized knowledge you have spent years developing and the amazing experiences you have had helping clients face financial challenges.

You have what it takes and you are worth it. Just do your best.

This post was inspired by a newsletter from Chris Brogan.


  • You owe the universe a lot more than you have delivered so far.
  • Chris Brogan

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

Still A Great Way To Obtain New Clients – Networking

As I have worked with accountants over many years, I have truly come to realize that meeting and talking to people can be difficult, awkward and yes, even scary. All that is foreign to me because I love people and I love to talk (those of you who know me are smiling… maybe laughing… right now).

So, you may be an introvert but that doesn’t mean you can’t begin to enjoy meeting and talking with people. The huge chamber networking events are sometimes scary for experienced networkers, so don’t feel like you have to begin there. Make the networking you do fit your style.

I attended Accountants’ Bootcamp many years ago. We learned many great things there…. but one thing I liked was a way to help accountants feel comfortable with a form of networking.

Have your partners (maybe the ones who aren’t so comfortable in big groups) invite a banker, an attorney, an insurance person, a client and maybe two potential clients and form a breakfast group to simply discuss business issues relevant to your community.  Set the ground rules – – this is not a meeting to “sell” to each other, it is more like a self-help group.  Referral sources and business owners are likely to participate because YOU are the CPA and YOU know a lot that can help them!

Host it every month or every other month, in your office, serve a continental breakfast (or late after noon snack) and talk in round-table format for an hour or so. Ask each other questions about business issues and get to know each other personally. The members of the group will quickly begin looking forward to the meetings and begin to rely on each other’s opinions.

Don’t limit it to just partners. Have your up-and-comers host their own networking groups. Many CPAs across the country are doing exactly this or something very similar. It works!

Also, read this article on the HBR Blog network titled:  Networking for Introverts.  It’s all about doing this where you are comfortable not stressed-out.

  • Talk to someone about themselves and they will listen for hours.
  • Dale Carnegie

Monday, April 21st, 2014

The Offer

When you read the title, above, I bet you thought I was going to give you some helpful advice on making an employment offer to top candidates at the college level or experienced accountants. Wrong. I want you to consider making an offer to someone to leave.

Last week, I read an article on HBR about Amazon copying a practice used for many years by Zappos. Remember, Zappos is now owned by Amazon. It seems Jeff Bezos is adapting a practice developed and used by Tony Hsieh.

Zappos calls it “The Offer” and Amazon is calling their version “Pay to Quit.”

You have probably noticed, unhappy people make for unsuccessful companies (or CPA firms).  I think this commentary from the article could apply to many accounting firms:

As Bezos notes in his letter to shareholders, “in the long run, an employee staying somewhere they don’t want to be isn’t healthy for the employee or the company.” This is not, it should be stressed, an indictment of the organization or people who choose to leave. Great companies are great precisely because they stand for something special, different, distinctive. That means, almost by definition, that they are not for everybody. It takes a certain personality type to thrive in the extroverted almost theatrical, culture of Zappos, or the driven, no-nonsense culture of Amazon. If there isn’t the right fit, it makes perfect sense to quit.

Be sure to read the article, Why Amazon Is Copying Zappos and Paying Employees to Quit and note the last paragraph. How engaged are people at every level of your CPA firm? What would it take to persuade some of them to leave?

  • I don't want just words. If that's all you have for me, you'd better go.
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Beautiful and Damned

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

LinkedIn And Public Accounting

When it comes to social media, accountants in public practice have been somewhat slow to embrace it and use it effectively.

However, I have observed that one tool they have embraced is LinkedIn. I can find almost every CPA or CPA firm team member I search for on LinkedIn.

When it comes to using it effectively, that’s another story. Barry MacQuarrie of KAF CPAs, provides training for their firm clients and for other CPA firms. Check-out his brochure here.

Wayne Breitbarth is also a LinkedIn trainer and writes an interesting blog with lots of tips and tricks for getting the most out of LinkedIn. Breitbarth does an annual survey of LinkedIn users and has provided this very interesting infographic.

Keep in mind, the profession of public accounting is a people business. Continually enhance your connections with people and use as many tools as possible to do so.

Linkedin Infographic

Via: PowerFormula for Linkedin Success

  • A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.
  • John Lennon

Friday, May 24th, 2013

Book Week Friday – Five Dysfunctions of a Team

When I first read Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni, I thought to myself…. It is just like this was written specifically for accountants. It wasn’t, although several firms have embraced it and worked through the exercises as a leadership group.  There is a companion guide titled, Overcoming The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

Here are the five dysfunctions:


The foundation is Absence of Trust. I believe that trust is the skeleton in the closet of many CPA firms. Has the following statement (or one very similar) been uttered inside your partner group?

“I know Joe is trying to do more financial planning with our clients, but you know Joe. I’m afraid my client won’t like him and I might lose the client because Joe just doesn’t focus enough on detail.”

I just want you to begin by working on the 2 foundational dysfunctions – Absence of Trust and Fear of Conflict. Absence of trust is when team members are not comfortable being vulnerable, open and honest with each other.  The next dysfunction of a team, if there is no trust, is Fear of Conflict, because people on a team should be comfortable engaging in good, healthy conflict around ideas. This is one I see again and again during partner retreats and partner meetings. There might be one partner who will say, “I’ll play Devil’s advocate here….” and voice their opinion. Most of the other partners say NOTHING and even avoid eye contact by looking at their laps!

Take a few minutes to watch this video by the author, Patrick Lencioni:

Thanks for reading all my posts during “Book Week” and happy reading.

Monday – Why Must There Be Dragons

Tuesday – Lean In

Wednesday – True Professionalism

Thursday – Leadership and Self-DeceptionPhoto on 5-20-13 at 7.33 AM

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

The Importance of The CPA Firm Admin Team

How’s your administrative team performing? How would you rate their performance, as a team, on a scale of 1 to 10? I’m just asking you (CPA partners/owners) to think about it.

Often, leaders don’t really think about the admin team unless something goes wrong.

Your admin team are really key ambassadors for your firm. Often they have more conversations and interactions with the firm’s clients than the partners do. A partner might only know the clients he is responsible for and perhaps have never met many of the other clients in the firm.

Your admin team probably knows almost all the clients, especially in mid-size and smaller firms. What kind of investment are you making in their success? Do you invest in an annual administrative team retreat? Do you educate all of them on the financial aspects of the firm – how the firm really makes money? Are you proud of them and the way they present themselves as part of a professional services organization?

A new trend is developing. The college degree is becoming the new high school diploma and is the new minimum requirement for getting even the lowest-level job.

Per an article in the New York Times, a 45-person law firm in Atlanta has seen tremendous growth in the college-educated population. Like other employers across the country, the firm hires only people with a bachelor’s degree, even for jobs that do not require college-level skills.

At this law firm, this prerequisite applies to everyone, including the receptionist, paralegals, administrative assistants and file clerks. Even the office “runner” (the in-house courier who makes deliveries for $10/hour) went to a four-year school.

The managing partner of this law firm says, “College graduates are just more career-oriented. Going to college means they are making a real commitment to their futures and are not just looking for a paycheck.”

I am not saying you should replace everyone on the admin team who does not have a college education. I am stressing that when you have great people, whether they are accountants, bookkeepers, IT specialists or administrative professionals, you should be investing in their success. You should also be encouraging them to invest in their own success!

  • Investing in yourself is the best investment you will ever make. It will not only improve your life, it will improve the lives of all those around you.
  • Robin S. Sharma

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

CPAs Have The Blues – Just An Observation

RedHotI was following a link to XCM’s “Our News” page and decided to look around at the XCM website.

I like their tagline – “Making life easier for accounting professionals” and how they have specific explanations of their products for the managing partner, firm administrator, partners and staff.

They have a page called Our Partnerships and if you follow it you see a list of company logos for some very prominent CPA profession resources. The thought that crossed my mind was why do so many CPA firms and CPA firm vendors and advisory resources have logos that are blue?

Sure, the color blue says…. authority, dignity, security, faithfulness, trust, reliability, belonging, coolness. Deep blues mean analytical, serious, scholarly, and academic. Pale blues mean calm, fresh, clean – – – so on an so on. How boring!

Perhaps it is because accountants have the blues?

You can tell from this blog page and my logo, I prefer things red hot. The color red says aggressive, assertive, intense, strength, vitality, life-sustaining, passionate, courageous, and insightful.


  • When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That's relativity.
  • Albert Einstein

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Do What Partners Do Best

waltdisneyWhen I talk with partners from very successful and growing firms, what do I hear?

There is a common theme and it is expressed in different ways, but it goes like this:

Don’t make partners/shareholders responsible for management items. Hire the infrastructure and hold the Managing Partner accountable. By investing in non-billable professionals, like a qualified, professional firm administrator or COO, you free up the managing partner to focus on coaching the other partners and representing the firm in the marketplace. Also, don’t be frugal in hiring professionals to handle the management areas of the firm.

CPAs were not, and are not, trained in HR, marketing, administration – they are trained and highly skilled accountants and should focus on what they are good at and what the best CPA partners do: Take care of clients, train and mentor younger accountants and bring in new work for the firm. Even if they are not strong rainmakers, they do have very strong client relationships and should focus on increased services for their current clients.

Does it work? One successful firm’s MP noted: We have 26 partners with $2.5 million average book and we drop 47% to the bottom line.

It works for both large firms and small firms.

  • Success is relative. It is what we can make of the mess we have made of things.
  • T S. Eliot

Monday, February 18th, 2013

Your Top Talent Needs Recognition

Recognition is a huge motivator.

People do what feels good and avoid what feels bad. Simple, right?

Accountants are often type-cast as critical, finding-fault, looking for errors. It’s that auditor behavior… finding out what is wrong. It’s that manager behavior….  telling people what they did wrong.

As kids grow up, especially the millennials, they get lots of applause, encouraging words and recognition. Your job as a CPA firm leader is to keep it coming.

Here’s a 3-minute video that was part of my last newsletter.

  • I praise loudly, I blame softly.
  • Catherine the Great