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Archive for December, 2014

I just want to send a quick message wishing you all Happy Holidays!  One of the themes you frequently hear describing our culture is “Work Hard-Play Hard”.  I hope you are able to take a few days in the coming week to ‘shut off’ and enjoy time with the people who are most special in your life.  They are likely the very people who you work so hard for in the first place.  On behalf of all of our Partners, I wish you an abundance of joy and peace this season, and sincerely thank you for all you do throughout the year…  for our clients, for our communities and for each other.

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Toxic Email

It was great to see many of you Friday at the filming of our 5th video.  It looked to me like everyone was having a great time.  This is always a fun culture event for the firm. I’m looking forward to unveiling it at our SOTF on January 12, 2015!!!

I recently read an article published by our friends at Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer entitled, “Toxic E-mail: A Careless Message Can Lead to Costly Lawsuits for Employers”, which reminded me of the importance of being mindful of appropriate vs. inappropriate email content.  We have touched on this topic before, but it is worth reiterating…

One of the most valuable pieces of advice I have heard is this:  “Never put something in an email that you wouldn’t want to have appear on the front cover of the New York Times.”  

Often, it is most expeditious to communicate via email. While we obviously support the use of email, we can’t stress enough that we all need to be cautious when it comes to content. When we give advice, make sure you are thorough and think through the issue so that the recipient doesn’t use the information other than for what it was intended.  Please keep controversial advice or discussion out of emails. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and discuss issues and recommendations with a client or colleague; you can always follow up with an email to memorialize the conclusion if you think it is important. Do not discuss someone else’s character or reputation in an email; you never know where it will be forwarded or who else will be viewing it. Finally, be careful with the use of sarcasm since tone is very difficult to reflect in writing.

The internal discussion about our work papers or technical positions that clients are proposing to take should be kept out of emails since this is time-sensitive information that will most likely change upon conclusion of the engagement. Often these types of emails can be misconstrued out of context, and can be used against us in the event of a future conflict.  In hindsight and upon reflection, emails can be read and interpreted differently than was originally intended. This can result in some stressful moments if our advice is challenged or an email winds up in court as part of a malpractice lawsuit.

While we have a 90 day email retention policy, emails can sit on client servers or on hard drives of business associates for years, so please be mindful and careful of content.

Thanks and have a great week!

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Welcome back from the holiday everyone.  I trust your time with your families was enjoyable.

Those WS+B professionals who attended the a recent Tax CPE were in for a treat that day, with Pat Williams, leadership author and SVP of the NBA’s Orlando Magic, providing an overview of his book, Leadership Excellence: the Seven Sides of Leadership for the 21st Century, the very book we have been discussing the past few months.  It was an inspiriting and energy-filled session.  I hope you enjoyed it.

Today, I will cover the fifth side of leadership described in the book:

Boldness.  “I sometimes endure excruciating periods of doubt and soul-searching, and I always try to play out the results of each alternative. However, once I make the decision, I move forward. Something clicks, and all my energies are applied to ensuring the decision works rather than fretting over whether it was the right one.” – Rudy Giuliani

I am a big believer in going with your gut, trusting your intuition.  There is definitely such a thing as ‘paralysis by analysis’ when you are taking into consideration too many opinions or wanting to make the decision that will make the majority happy, thus making you a popular, well-liked person… for the moment, anyway.

However, when you go with a decision that wasn’t truly your own, it will only hurt you in the long run. Your leadership is not authentic and those you lead will catch on.  As described in the book:

“Bold leaders make bold decisions. The role of the leader is to gather as much information as practicable, consult with key people, reflect on all the options, upsides, downsides, risks, and rewards…  Then decide.”

Pat Williams shares some practical ways that we as leaders can demonstrate boldness:

  • Take on audacious challenges, bold visions and extreme dreams – when we set out do to the impossible.
  • Dare to put our own careers and reputations on the line for a vision we believe in.
  • Take a stand for our beliefs and values even when the world is against us.
  • Accept responsibility for our failures, courageously taking our lumps instead of shifting blame.
  • Stand and fight when others run away.
  • Accept criticism without defending ourselves.
  • Step far outside our comfort zone in order to try something completely new.

In what ways have you been a bold leader?  Did you stand up for the values we as a firm (or you personally) believe in, facing a client or acquaintance who asked you to do something that was questionable?  Did you take the lead on an initiative that failed or that was not popular with your team, but you knew it was the right thing to do at that time?  Being a leader is sometimes a lonely proposition.  As long as you maintain your integrity and trust in the vision of the end goal, then you can feel good in having made the bold decision you made. And win or lose, you will be respected for it.

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