Voices

Art of Accounting: 250 columns and counting

I started these columns almost five years ago and I feel like I am not a day older than when I started. Chronologically maybe, but mentally, no, and I might even be younger. These columns serve to have me "youthen" like Merlin. Let me explain.

When I started writing these columns, my purpose was to share my experiences and provide a glimpse into what a CPA does for younger people considering a career in public accounting. I also wanted to provide insights to colleagues about what worked for me. What I did not expect was to have so many stories to tell and to be able to write so many columns. I also did not expect the large volume of calls from younger people in public accounting asking how they could grow in the profession, develop specialties and become a go-to person, what type of firms they should work for, why they want to leave public accounting and why I think they shouldn’t, or how they could advance in their present firm or start their own practices. These personal discussions released memories deep in the recesses of my mind.

I’ve also tried to address many of thoses questions in these columns. I’ve been fortunate to have had a fantastic career with great clients, partners, staff and more experienced colleagues willing to help me. I started out entrepreneurial and was able to apply these skills (or maybe a calling) to my practice. One of my best traits is that I am not afraid to try something that might not work. I don’t like doing something that didn’t work out, but I was never afraid to “screw up” trying new things that might not work. I tried to take as many precautions as I could think of, but not everything worked. The good thing is that we had many more successes than bombs. Using baseball lingo, we described many of our successes as singles with just a few grand slam homers. However two or three singles a year, balanced by a couple of outs, moved us forward very well and on a steady basis. Just think -- we netted at least two or three new services or types of clients a year over a long career.

I’ve shared stories about many of our successes in these columns and in the many books I’ve written. I also like sharing how we did it when I get calls from colleagues. Not everything was easy, but it was all fun and since we looked at everything with a long view, these efforts have been extremely successful.

An observation I would like to make is that many colleagues I talk to have as many or even more ideas than my partners and I had, but they are afraid of not succeeding with them, so they do not try. I try to prod them, and occasionally write columns directed toward them. In some cases I send them a link “thanking” them for the “idea” and instead of realizing I am writing about their shortcomings, they reply with a proud, “You’re welcome.”

Today’s takeaway is to try new things. However, with the pace of change today, many “new things” have become the standard at most practices. Be in the arena — see what is going on and adopt and adapt them — at least, stop falling behind. And once in a while, try something new. Just two or three a year can really propel you forward.

accounting standards
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