"Everyone is smarter than me, in that I may learn from them." No, the quote, as I remember it, is not from a great literary masterpiece, but rather, it is from a television series that some of you older CPAs might have seen when it first aired and you younger ones might see now in reruns on cable stations. It was from "All in the Family," and was a retort to Archie Bunker, the bigoted lead character, when a developmentally challenged individual explained his philosophy for dealing with people, especially those like Archie.

The quote stayed with me all these years because it helps remind me that I am not as smart as I think I am and I can learn from everyone. I say the quote to myself when I think I need am attitude adjustment. This usually happens when I find myself talking too much and not listening.

Similarly, CPAs in their tax compliance and accounting work are often at the ready with a quick answer in their interactions with clients. They usually have the answer before their client finishes his or her thought. That kind of approach won't always work in the consulting arena as there is no Internal Revenue Code for consulting.

Like me, many CPAs probably also need an attitude adjustment. An employee of Intuit, an extremely successful company with QuickBooks, told me about a technique they use. Quite simply, they go out into the field and observe someone using their software over a sustained period of time. The Intuit employee is initially prohibited from asking and answering questions. Basically, they are just watching what is being done but do agree to answer any questions at the end of the observation period.

It takes a bit of discipline to change your ways, but an attitude adjustment might pay off. As you enter new practice areas, look upon it as a way to ensure that, whether dealing with a situation or a person, it becomes a learning experience.

Have you ever wished to be a fly on the wall? You have the chance in a professional environment. See what it is like. I think you may be pleasantly surprised. If it doesn't work out, you can call me Meathead, a "term of endearment," that Archie used to describe his son-in-law.


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