Posts Tagged ‘change’

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

Dare To Change The Future Of Your Firm in 2015

I have been reading more over the Holidays. How about you? My suggested New Year’s resolution for you — Read more!

I mentioned earlier this week that I am reading Seth Godin‘s book. So many of his thoughts and challenges apply to CPAs. Many accountants are smart, talented people who get trapped in status quo. I DARE you to take that big, scary step this year and make some changes, take some risk. In fact, I triple-dog-dare you!

From the book:

“I see it all perfectly; there are two possible situations – one can either do THIS or THAT. My honest opinion and my friendly advice is this:  DO IT OR DO NOT DO IT – YOU WILL REGRET BOTH … To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. NOT TO DARE IS TO LOSE ONESELF. – – Soren Kierkegaard

  • Happy New Year to all my loyal blog followers (and to my occasional readers, too).
  • Rita Keller

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

The Agony of Decisions Inside Your Accounting Firm

As CPA firms grow, things need to change.

When you have 2 – 5 partners (owners) and a firm administrator involved in the decision-making activities, these people become used to being involved in  every operational/management decision. You have probably heard the old example that has circulated in CPA management conferences for years about it taking 5 partners and several meetings to decide on what copier (or printer) to purchase.

I can even remember when we would form a committee with partners, staff people and administrative people to research and decide on the best copier to purchase!

Did all those people want to be involved?  Yes and no. Some owners want their stamp of approval on everything but most people just don’t want the blame for a poor decision falling on their shoulders alone. It’s almost comical and the old adage, “no decision, is a decision” applies.

Thank goodness those types of routine decisions about the operational side of the firm have been placed in the hands of a professional firm administrator who navigates the partner political waters efficiently.

But, there are an ever-increasing number of more complex decisions that face firms in the current, rapidly-changing business world. Technology is just one example.  There are still many firms, although they say they are a digital firm and all work is reviewed “on screen,” allow one or two partners to continue to operate “the old-fashioned” way.

Performing client engagements has moved so far beyond reviewing on screen (or not). Progressive firms are moving to virtual services. Auditors do not have to travel to a client site and sit in a conference room (or in some cases a store room) to perform the audit.

Going forward, it’s going to take experts in HR, technology and practice growth sitting at the decision-making table and a group of owners who will respect decisions made by others.

Check back tomorrow for more about making decisions.

  • I must have a prodigious amount of mind; it takes me as much as a week, sometimes, to make it up.
  • Mark Twain

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

Good Advice To Ease Your Frustrations

IMG_1366I was checking out of my fellow bloggers over on the AccountingWEB blog site and I noticed one by well-known CPA firm Chief Marketing Officer, Sally Glick, a principal at Sobel & Co. Sally’s posts are always on the money but the title of this one puzzled me.

The title: SWSWSW – What The Heck Does This Mean?

After I read her post, I realized that it sure applies to me. It applied to me as I worked my way up inside a CPA firm for 30 years, trying to get everyone on the same page and open to embracing constant change. It applies to me now as I do my best to help my clients (CPA firms) adapt to change and embrace new trends.

Sally learned from a speaker at a CPA firm marketing event that SWSWSW means…..

“Some will, some won’t, so what – SWSWSW!”

Early on in my career, I was told to “try to get ALL the partners on the same page and behind your initiatives.” Well, that was impossible. So, I adopted a theory and advised others to look at it the same way – – work with the healthy part of your firm.  Don’t let one or two partners side-track the entire forward movement of the firm – work around them. In many cases, once they see success, they will jump on the band wagon (then again, maybe they won’t). So what!

After you read this and then you read Sally’s blog post, you might think it sounds like she and I have faced some similar barriers. We have. So what!


  • So what do we do? Anything. Something. So long as we just don't sit there. If we screw it up, start over. Try something else. If we wait until we've satisfied all the uncertainties, it may be too late.
  • Lee Iacocca

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

CPAs And Achieving Change

change-architect-sign1There is a conversation going on among several of my peers (consultants to the public accounting profession) about what significant changes we have actually seen in the last 20 or so years in public accounting. Of course, technology. But in regards to how the majority of CPAs run their public accounting business…… not much significant change has happened (just my opinion).

Why do I say this? Because when I pick up the phone and talk to a CPA seeking assistance for more efficiency, strategic planning, finding and keeping good people… I hear the same questions and challenges I heard nearly 30 years ago!!

CPAs are very smart people. Why haven’t they solved some of these fundamental running-a-practice challenges? My answer? They are comfortable, have become complacent and do not enjoy change.

Here’s something that might help if you are hiding from change. It is called the Intentional Change Theory developed by Richard Boyatzis, a professor at Case Western Reserve. He published it in 2006.

The theory outlines five common-sense steps that you need to follow if you want to make lasting change.

  1. Discover your ideal self – discard goals you don’t feel enthusiastic about.
  2. Discover your real self – ask for feedback.
  3. Create your learning agenda – identify your learning style.
  4. Experiment with and practice new habits – it’s time to practice.
  5. Get support – None of us gets far alone.

There is some great advice about each step on Mind Tools. The Mind Tools site offers many great tools and ideas.

  • Believe you can and you're halfway there.
  • Theodore Roosevelt

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Many CPAs Are Nearing Retirement – So What?

weissWe have been hearing it from the AICPA, state societies, consultants, writers, etc. for many years now. Baby Boomers are hitting age 65 at the rate of 8,000 per day – beginning in 2011 and continuing for 18 years.

Are you in this group? Are you 60 or older? If so, I bet retiring (or not) is on your mind from time to time.

Alan Weiss, consultant, speaker and author of Million Dollar Consulting (and many other books) described his feelings about turning 67 on his blog recently. I think you might enjoy reading how he looks at it. Here are some highlights but be sure to read the entire blog post.

“I have always tried to live life to the fullest. You may ask what alternative we have, but daily I see people throwing their lives away in part and by pieces, which to me is the equivalent of simply taking more time to end it. I don’t  believe we’re here to stick our toes in the water. I believe we’re here to make waves.”

He continues:

“I do know that so long as I’m on top of my game, I’ll keep doing what pleases me. When that’s no longer the case, then I’ll leave that particular stage. Sandy Koufax knew how to do that. Frank Sinatra did not.”

The question for you, as a Baby Boomer CPA, is are you staying on top of your game?

Whether you want to admit it or not, your “game” has changed significantly in the last few years and continues to change at a rapid rate. Are you active with social media? Do you communicate via text with your most important clients? Are you attracting younger business owners and CEOs as clients? Is your firm retaining bright, passionate, flexible people? Or, do you have partners stuck in the “I’m doing it the way I’ve always done it” world?

  • Women may be the one group that grows more radical with age.
  • Gloria Steinem

Monday, October 15th, 2012

When You Become Manager…. When You Become Partner….

It’s not easy moving from a great achiever to a great leader.

Here’s something I read about participating in an Executive MBA program. I think it is good advice to keep in mind as you move up the career lattice within a CPA firm. When you reach the executive level, things change. You must change.

Leadership means doing things differently and being viewed differently.  When you are the leader (boss) your suggestions become orders.  When you go higher and higher up in a firm, you have to watch what you say. You have to learn to let go. It’s very difficult to make that transition from a great achiever to a great leader. It’s no longer about you and your own ego. It’s about other people and helping them get better.

As a managing partner, are you letting go of the routine, comfortable work you have always done and spend more time coaching and mentoring your partners, helping them become more successful?

As a manager in an accounting firm, are you really managing (getting things done through other people) or are you still a hands-on worker bee?

As a professional CPA firm administrator, when the firm grows and your responsibilities grow, are you able to let go of being an all-star “doer” to become an first-class manager of people and processes?

Many leaders in CPA firms need to “learn to let go” and trust other people. If you don’t have people you can trust, you haven’t done your job very well so far.

  • Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.
  • Warren Bennis

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

Lighten-Up, It’s The Weekend – Did You Know?

I’m sure most of you have watched one of the Did You Know? videos over the last few years. I remember when I saw the first one. It was at a conference and I was amazed and perplexed.

Here’s an updated version for 2012. Share it with ALL your partners and ALL your team. Watch it together (it only takes a little over 5 minutes).

It is especially valuable for people who hesitate to change, keep pace, or dare to set the pace for accounting firms in your market.

It’s the week-end – take 5 minutes to watch. Then contemplate the information, share it and then make plans.

  • Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
  • Mark Twain

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

We’ll Wait Them Out – We’re Younger

I actually heard the phrase used in today’s title when younger (30-something) CPAs were talking about the 50 or 60-something CPAs. It was several years ago.

Now what I am hearing is, “We’re tired of waiting.” Hopefully, younger CPAs are on the move and making things happen.

There’s a good article in the Journal of Accountancy – June 2012 – titled, Generation Next. It notes that a wave of new CPA leaders is on the rise, and accounting will never be the same.

The first sentence in the article scares me – – “The next couple of decades will see massive change for the accounting profession.”

It is certainly not the change that bothers me, it’s the fact that some people think it’s going to take two decades. Oh my, I hope not.

I am anticipating that the younger crowd are making strides and noise that will cause change before another 20 years go by.

Advice for young CPAs. If you are reading this and are not a “young CPA” please forward the link to this blog to those 30-something CPAs in your firm.

  • Act in ways that true leaders do, develop skills that show leadership.
  • If you, as a young CPA, are seeking leadership positions, don’t be afraid to speak-up.  Ask for more responsibilities and set high expectations for yourself.
  • Be sure you are networking. Do you belong to a YP group? Don’t have one in your area? Then start one.
  • Use social media to build your professional reputation.
  • Communication skills are key – verbal and non-verbal. How good are you at making a presentation, facilitating a discussion, or writing a blog? Remember the non-verbal – what kind of first impression do you make?

I am hoping the Results Only Work Environment becomes widespread. Here’s what Jason Blumer says about it:

As we’re hiring younger people in our firms, we’re experimenting with a results-only work environment (ROWE), where we’re bringing on new employees, giving them the vision for the position, coaching them through the process of realizing what we and our customers need, and then letting them manage what the results look like for them.

We have no performance reviews. We don’t have dress codes. You don’t have to work in the office. Leadership is really more about coaching now and helping employees be successful, pushing them toward what their strengths are. We’re hiring people so self-motivated that they’re able to run their own departments.

  • The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
  • Eleanor Roosevelt

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Is Your Accounting Firm Suffering From The Same Old Thing?

  • How are you evaluating your accounting firm team members?
  • How is your partner group evaluating each other?
  • How are your team members evaluating you?

People inside your accounting firm are working very hard right now. After all, it is March, one of the busiest months for most public accounting firms. Take a deep breath and ask yourself some questions.

Are you and your employees doing the same thing that you did in 2011? An even more interesting question is –  are you and your employees doing the same thing you were doing in 1999? Do you often wonder why your firm is not growing more rapidly and why much of your work seems like drudgery rather than joy?

Reflect on the old saying, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you have always gotten.”

Constant change is the operating model for today’s progressive firm. As for performance feedback, I encourage firm leaders to consider simplifying their feedback system. Develop a culture of continual feedback. Do you confront a puppy six months later after he has peed on the floor? Crucial confrontation is not hard nor is it being mean – it’s communication and then you move on. Praise is not something that you hoard. There is an endless supply – it’s communication and then you move on.

When you are evaluating performance this spring, try using three questions. What should I keep doing? What should I start doing? What should I stop doing?

Then use the big question – what are you doing this year that you were not able to do last year? This involves reflecting back on what you are reading, what continuing education classes did you attend, what educational conferences did you attend, what articles have you written?

When it is feedback time, your team is thinking about their pay increase. Usually, they earn it because they are still in the learning and building their skills mode. They are actually doing things this year they were not able to do last year. Does this apply to your managers and partners?

Because of all of the rapid change, if you and your team do what you have always done, you’ll actually get less than you have always gotten.


  • If you can't, you must. If you must, you can.
  • Anthony Robbins