Art of Accounting: Don't Pass Up Opportunities

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IMGCAP(1)]I certainly have been fortunate in my career to become involved in a wide range of activities including interesting clients, great staff and partners, appearing on television, writing articles and books and presenting speeches.  People always ask me what I did to get started. My answer is simple: “I never passed up an opportunity that came my way.”

I have seen many accountants and others pass by—literally kicking aside—opportunities immediately in their path, and then they wonder when they will get their “big break.” What a shame for them.

A great deal of my success has not been caused by aggressiveness to seek out opportunities, but an aggressiveness to take advantage of what was handed to me. Many times I tried and wasn’t able to succeed, only to then have something pop up in front of me. Other times I was asked if I could do something I never imagined I would ever be able to do, but I tried it or learned to do it.

Everything has a story. I gave some examples a couple of weeks ago with large clients we got from our ads for QuickBooks consulting. Earlier I wrote how I saved a company and how I got a referral from an adversary. Meeting Bill Hagaman and our subsequent merger into WithumSmith+Brown was fortuitous because we went to lunch, even though we had no intentions of merging but kept an open mind (and knew we would get a great lunch at an expensive restaurant). The anecdote about Lenny “saving our lives” also happened by accident but depended on a long-term relationship that developed from inviting him to our in-house CPE, and so on.

The point is opportunities abound all over, but you need to be alert to them and then pounce. Carpe diem (seize the day)!

The next few columns will deal with some specifics and one will describe many opportunities I presented to others that were not seized, but are still available if you want to carpe diem!

Edward Mendlowitz, CPA, is partner emeritus at WithumSmith+Brown, PC, CPAs. He is the author of 24 books, including “How to Review Tax Returns,” co-written with Andrew D. Mendlowitz (published by CPATrendlines) and “Managing Your Tax Season, Third Edition” (published by the AICPA). Ed also writes a twice-a-week blog addressing issues that clients have at Art of Accounting is a continuing series where Ed shares autobiographical experiences with tips that he hopes can be adopted by his colleagues. Ed welcomes practice management questions and can be reached at (732) 964-9329 or

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