Posts Tagged ‘creative’

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

Create A New Dispenser For Accounting Services

touch-upI was paging through a magazine last week when I saw an ad for Windex Touch-Up Cleaner. As with most things in life, it made me think of CPAs (yes, I’m weird that way).

Windex has been around for as long as I can remember. It’s one of those brands that people call glass cleaners even if they are another brand.  It’s rather like saying, “Make a Xerox copy.” when you aren’t using a Xerox brand machine. “Hand me the Windex” – means almost any glass cleaner.

So, the ad made me realize how creative the people must be at SC Johnson, the makers of Windex. If they can take a widely-accepted, well-known product and keep re-packaging it so that people will buy more, why can’t CPAs do the same?

Watch a 30-second commercial here. Now, consider your agenda for your annual firm day or partner retreat. How could you use your combined creative powers to re-package your firm, your services, or your culture to make your clients keep buying and to make your people keep buying-in to your firm vision?

  • We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.
  • Kurt Vonnegut

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

Marc Rosenberg Makes Me Smile

I am fortunate. Marc Rosenberg, widely respected consultant to the CPA profession, is my friend.

There are many things I admire about Marc but what I love is the fact that he always makes me smile, laugh, lighten-up and appreciate the little things that make life a joy.

Marc is also creative and creates his own fun. Perhaps you have been fortunate enough to have had Marc share with you some famous movie clips that he has customized to fit the CPA profession. I know that he has shared many of the clips at some of the partner retreats he has facilitated over the years.

I was reading Marc’s blog post of June 19th titled, Partners: Take Control of Your Time, and he certainly delivered on the “make me smile and laugh” thing. Follow the link to read the entire script that Marc has written for the Saturday Night Live character Stuart Smalley who says, “I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And doggone it, people like me.” Marc brings this quote to life for managing partners everywhere.

Key comment from the MP character in the script: As the firm’s MP, it’s my job to keep our people’s jobs as simple as possible so they can focus on their work.

If you are not the MP of your firm, I hope you will forward my post today on to your MP (and all of your partners).

  • I deserve good things, I am entitled to my share of happiness.
  • Stuart Smalley (Al Franken character)

Saturday, April 28th, 2012

Lighten-Up, It’s The Weekend

The weekend is time for something off-topic, humorous or maybe even weird.

I’m always nagging CPA firm leaders about being more creative. Many of you do what you have always done (because, basically, it still works). Many of you do what everyone else is doing (because you hang your hat on MAP surveys and stories told by other CPAs at your state society or firm association meeting).

This weekend I wanted to give you a good example of being creative. I really like this short video from Johnson & Johnson. It talks about their Credo, which I want you to take note of. Consider their graphic and how you could use it to help you find the meaning of what you are doing as a company. More importantly, watch how the company, facing a problem/challenge, came up with an really creative and unique solution.

Enjoy your week-end!

  • I am not worried about the deficit. It is big enough to take care of itself.
  • Ronald Reagan

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Changing Your CPA Office Layout

Last week-end I read an article in a business journal – you know, the network of business newspapers across the country. You probably have one in your city. This article was in the Sacramento Business Journal.

The article reports that KPMG, the New York-based accounting firm is changing the layout of its offices nationwide from a model of having separate offices to more of a collaborative open layout with cubicles.

This is a topic I have been talking to CPAs about for quite a while. The business world has moved to a more collaborative work-style and simplified office design. The tradition of having offices on the window side of the space with cubicle “stalls” (often referred to as the bullpen) in the middle of the space is no longer practical, efficient or collaborative.

Photo: The picture is the office of Mono, a Minneapolis advertising and branding agency.

I know, as CPAs, you are thinking, “we’re not creative advertising people, we’re traditional accountants.” – – All the more reason to unleash your creativity and expand your universe (and become the cool firm in town). Baby Boomer CPAs, think back and remember when you were young and cool.

Jason Blumer of Blumer & Associates has a unique way to solve “how do we configure our office space” problem. He’s doing away with his firm’s office altogether. The firm has evolved to a true virtual environment. Listen to at least the first two minutes of this video on Accounting Today TV to find out why this works for his firm and what your firm will be facing in the future.

  • Let your soul stand cool and composed before a million universes.
  • Walt Whitman

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Be More Creative

Sometimes inside accounting firms, people are not very creative. What I am referring to is that employees are taught and expected to follow checklists and firm leaders manage the firm based on what other CPA firms are doing.

Seems pretty confining, right? I don’t mean you should discard your checklists (they bring efficiency, accuracy and quality to the work you provide clients). I don’t mean you should never refer to another MAP survey. What I want you to do is encourage your people to THINK and challenge the status quo.

I was reading my March issue of FAST Company and a headline about brainstorming caught my eye. FAST Company talked to Jonah Lehrer (author of Imagine: How Creativity Works) about the types of creativity and how brainstorming doesn’t work. Some of his comments follow – be sure to read the one about brainstorming.

How Does Creativity Work? – We use creativity in the singular as if there is only one way the brain creates new connections but there are probably three neurologically distinct forms of creativity. One is when you have these moments of insight that come out of the blue (when you are in the shower). Another form is really working hard at solving a problem and the third is spontaneous improvisation (what Miles Davis did).

Can a person choose which kind of creativity to use? – The type of process we should use really depends on the type of problem we’re solving. I think we have to do a better job of diagnosing where we are in the creative process and adjust our thought process accordingly. When I’m stuck, I realize now I need to let myself relax, because the answer will arrive only when I stop looking for it. (Keller comment: Hasn’t this happened to you many times when trying to solve an accounting problem?)

You say brainstorming doesn’t work. Why? – The reason is it’s main rule: Thou shalt not criticize. (Keller: We tell our people, team, committee, task force, partners at a retreat – “spit it out, no idea is too dumb, we won’t laugh or make fun of anyone, i.e., criticize.) As long as criticism is constructive, it forces people to engage on a deeper level. The problem with brainstorming is free associations are really superficial and constricted by language. Criticism is important to get past that.

At your partner retreat this year, dig deeper into a few issues rather than superficially looking at many of the firms challenges. If a good idea surfaces, attack it! Use confrontation as a tool, don’t hide from it.

In my experience, when really tough issues come up, CPA partners tend to look at their laps rather than open their mouths. Get over it and be more creative at your firm.

Read more about Jonah Lehrer: the prodigy who lights up our brain.

  • To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science.
  • Albert Einstein

Monday, February 6th, 2012

Accounting Profession Rebels

During 2011, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet and talk with a few CPAs who, to me, represent what the future is going to look like. I’m beginning to think of them as the accounting rebels.

Also, in 2011, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet and talk with hundreds of traditional, conservative, highly-skilled CPAs who are embracing change at a snail’s pace. They represent what the CPA profession still looks like, for the most part.

We need more rebels. And, all of those highly-skilled, traditional accountants CAN become one!

If you follow this blog, you know that my world is all about the massive change barreling toward the accounting profession. It has been rolling down the track for several years but the majority of practitioners haven’t actually heard the loud whistle on the train of change.

This whole “keeping up with change” thing has been on my mind more than ever recently because I have had the opportunity to speak to hundreds of CPAs during the last few months and most of them were from small to mid-size firms.

When I speak at conferences, I always try to attend as many of the other session as possible. The questions that CPAs ask during these various sessions helps me better understand their challenges. This fall some of the questions surprised me and helped me see that many practitioners are yet aware of the rapidly changing management, marketing and technology trends in the profession.

For example, during a social media presentation, three highly-qualified professional service firm marketers were discussing the merits of Pull marketing. As they were talking, one partner attendee slowly raised his hand and inquired, “what is Pull marketing? I don’t understand what you are talking about.”  I truly admired the panel, they immediately refocused and turned their discussion toward a more educational theme. I also truly admire the CPA, he asked the question that many in the room wanted to know.

How do YOU become an accounting firm rebel? You, like the CPA mentioned above, must be curious, rather than complacent. You must begin reading everything you can about the current trends in the profession. But, that is not enough. You must read everything you can about trends in business, in general, especially small business if that is your firm’s focus. Plan now to attend MAP conferences and sessions, state society meetings, join a CPA firm association and, most importantly, talk to your own clients. Ask them questions about the challenges they are facing.

The most important thing you can do, if you are an owner or work inside a CPA firm, is to speak-up. Ask the dumb question. Question the status-quo. Embrace change and thrive. Avoid complacency. Too many CPAs just go along with the pack doing what other firms are doing, rather than being creative and unique.

Urban dictionary – A rebel is a person who stands up for their own personal opinions despite what anyone else says. True rebels know who they are and do not compromise their individuality or personal opinion for anyone.

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes – the ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules and they have no respect for the status quo. You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them, disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing that you can’t do is ignore them – because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” ~ Jack Kerouac (1922 – 1969)

  • A populace never rebels from passion for attack, but from impatience of suffering.
  • Edmund Burke