Accounting Today began its third annual Growth & Profitability Summit on Sunday with a pair of entertaining keynote speeches by CPAs Gene Marks and Anthony Reed.

Marks, a small business owner who is also a columnist for Accounting Today, The New York Times, Forbes and the Huffington Post, discussed the growing budget deficit and how Washington is failing to solve the problem. He compared the presidential candidates’ dueling proposals for curbing the deficit and noted that under both the Obama and Romney budget plans, trillions of dollars would be added to the national debt.

However, he noted that the U.S. might follow the example of Canada, which successfully reduced its budget deficit in the 1990s. The steep spending cuts that will probably be necessary to rein in the budget deficit are likely to affect businesses, such as the defense industry, as well as their accountants.

“If it affects your clients, it will affect your bottom line,” said Marks.

Marks also discussed trends in mobile technology, including the need for firms to have mobile-optimized sites and for firms to make sure they are listed on sites such as Google Places. A number of mobile devices have been hitting the market in recent weeks, including the iPhone 5, iPad Mini and Microsoft Surface tablet. “This has been a huge month for devices,” said Marks.

He talked about economic trends to follow, including the Baltic Dry Index, an index of freight on the Baltic Sea, which is often a good predictor of where the economy is heading. In the wake of the financial crisis in 2008, it provided one bright spot of hope on the horizon. He also discussed some of his favorite economic blogs to follow, including The New York Times’s You’re the Boss, Bill McBride’s Calculated Risk blog and Seeking Alpha.

Marathon runner Anthony Reed talked about his adventures in running marathons on all seven continents, including Antarctica. While on that run, he had to deal with freezing temperatures, a treacherous landscape and the threat of other runners slipping on the ice and causing a chain reaction of falls. During his visit, he saw penguins molting and nearly had his boat capsized by a whale that swam beneath it.

Reed also ran a marathon in Africa, where the trail went past rhinoceroses, zebras and a group of cheetahs. He and his fellow runners relied on each other to survive in such environments. “People think of marathons as an individual sport, but it’s really a team sport,” he pointed out.

Reed is also a CPA who works in IT and he discussed how he keeps his team motivated on projects such as building an Oracle system for the Superconducting Super Collider particle accelerator project. Even after Congress eventually canceled the project, Oracle asked all of the members of his team to come to work for the company. One of his strategies is to ask his team members about their “bucket list” of items they want to accomplish in their lives and he encourages his staff to fulfill them.

Reed’s mantra is “hills build character.”

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