Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘professional development’

As we get into full throttle here in busy season, a message about being positive is in order! Positive people, those who choose a good mood over a bad day, have a powerful advantage over negative thinkers. While some people allow life’s problems to get them down, optimistic people remind themselves that bad times are only temporary. They find ways to practice positivity, and with a sunny outlook on life, their energy is wildly infectious.

As it pertains to leadership, the power of positive thinking is vital for success, be it that of a team, a department, an office or an entire company. You can have two professionals in a leadership role who are equal in experience and skill, heading up the same group of team members. But one has a positive, optimistic attitude; the other has a generally negative demeanor. The positive leader will prevail every time with a more vibrant, productive team whose energy permeates the workplace. Negativity only leads to reduced productivity and engagement, and allowing it to fester is much more costly and damaging to an organization’s bottom line than confronting or possibly replacing a single toxic staff person.

Creating a positive and healthy culture for your team rests on a few major principles. The qualities of a positive workplace culture boils down to these Super Seven essential characteristics:

  1. Caring for, being interested in, and maintaining responsibility for colleagues as friends.
  2. Providing support for one another, including offering kindness and compassion when others are struggling.
  3. Avoiding blame and forgive mistakes.
  4. Fostering open communication, and avoiding gossip and back-stabbing.
  5. Inspiring one another at work.
  6. Emphasizing the meaningfulness of the work.
  7. Treating one another with respect, gratitude, trust, and integrity.

Positive thinking can set you up for success in every area of your life. You can be healthier, happier, and more successful just by changing your thoughts. If you want to be happy, and not just for one day, focus on the things that will help you remain positive over time. Because a positive attitude can do more than just make you feel good—it could also change your life. You can train your mind to embrace the bright side of things. Here are a few positive quotes I recently received in an email, to get you in the right frame of mind:

  • “A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes. It is a catalyst and it sparks extraordinary results.” —Wade Boggs
  • “Virtually nothing is impossible in this world if you just put your mind to it and maintain a positive attitude.” —Lou Holtz
  • “It’s actually cool to be positive and optimistic and idealistic. It’s cool to see yourself doing beautiful, great things.” —Tom DeLonge
  • “There is little difference in people but that little difference makes a big difference. The little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative.” —W. Clement Stone
  • “It takes but one positive thought when given a chance to survive and thrive to overpower an entire army of negative thoughts.” —Robert H. Schuller

I hope you enjoyed today’s message. Have an absolutely positive week!

Read Full Post »

Ed Mendlowitz is one of our valued partners here at Withum, and likely one of the most prolific writers I know, having authored 18 books for the profession. He also has a popular blog read and shared by thousands of accountants across the country, and is a regular contributor to AccountingToday.com. A recently published article of his was of particular interest to me, and I want to share it with you today: Art of Accounting – A Typical Day.

Last month through the New Jersey Society of CPAs, Ed was scheduled to speak to two high school classes about public accounting as a career path. He asked Karen Koch, a CPA and supervisor with just under five years’ experience, to join him. She put together some notes to describe her typical day at Withum, and Ed decided to share these notes as an article.

What Karen immediately notes is this: “There truly is no typical day in the field of accounting. Instead, each day I wake up excited to go to work—whether my office, the client’s premises, or working from home—and each day is filled with unique and challenging experiences.” She continues on with her story, outlining her full day of various client projects and even participating in her office’s “fun committee.” Pretty cool.

Karen’s story supported the message I delivered at the State of the Firm and reminded me of the many opportunities Withum has to offer our team members… of every level, in every department. It is my goal as managing partner to ensure that Withum continues to offer great learning experiences for our professionals, keeping them intellectually challenged and allowing them to grow both personally and professionally. Our firm has always been entrepreneurial and a people-oriented place to work. As the Withum Way describes, we work hard and play hard, embracing the family spirit and offering the flexibility to allow all of our professionals to be well rounded people in and out of the office, and not just focused on work and the accounting profession.

As Karen’s story suggests, Withum breaks the stereotype of boring accountants who “only do taxes and are holed away somewhere over a calculator” (exactly what our latest video describes!). We strive to offer the best career opportunities right here at Withum. All we each need to do is take advantage of it.

Read Full Post »

Part of my job as Managing Partner is to be out and about in the business community, shaking hands and telling people about the great things going on at Withum. Networking is an important aspect of building our pipeline of new business opportunities. Many of us have client and referral source relationships spanning over 25 years, having started with a fortuitous meeting and handshake at a local event or business dinner. While we are in the midst of ‘marketing busy season’ when events and conferences and networking dinners are filling up our calendars, I thought I’d share a Top 10 Networking Tips list I recently received from a colleague; it’s worth a read:

    1. Get in the right state, not “in a right state.”
      Keep in mind that you want to gain some value and benefit from the time you are committing to attending the networking event. You’ll need to look friendly and relaxed – versus panicky and nervous – if you want people to be comfortable talking to you.
    2. You will be more interesting if you are more interested.
      We have two ears and one mouth so we should aim to listen for twice as long as we speak. The people you meet will be more comfortable talking about themselves than listening to you.
    3. Networking is about building relationships not about ‘getting work’.
      People buy professional services from people they know, like and trust. You’re unlikely to meet someone who just happens to need your services that day. The magic happens when you keep in touch and demonstrate a sincere interest in them both personally and professionally.
    4. “What do you do?”
      Don’t pigeon hole yourself as any ole ordinary accountant, “I’m a CPA”. Practice answering the question in such a way that ensures you are remembered specifically and distinctly from all of the rest. This is called your ‘elevator pitch.’ Instead, you can say something simple like, “I’m an accountant with WithumSmith+Brown, one of the top accounting firms in the country. Have you heard of us? I specialize in . We work with many great clients in this area.” That’s a basic good ice-breaking introduction which you can follow up by asking questions about the person with whom you are speaking.
    5. Focus on a niche, not a list.
      Even those new acquaintances who are genuinely interested in you will quickly switch off if you try to identify all of the things you do or could do for clients. Equally, they won’t remember the list so you’ll be in danger of making yourself more forgettable. In the example above, you need to focus on a key area or topic no matter how broad your expertise and experience. People want to know more go-to people who have an expertise.
    6. Flirt as you network. Ok, not in way you are thinking, but by following these simple gestures to make you appear more likable:
      F is for FUN;
      L is for LAUGHTER or at least having a smile on your face;
      I is being INTERESTED in what other people have to say;
      R is RESPONDING to what other people are saying through conversation;
      T is TALKING appropriately not extensively about yourself.
    7. You’re not alone if you feel alone.
      There will always be someone else standing alone who will be so pleased and relieved if you go over and start a conversation with them. The chances of rejection are tiny. Simply introduce yourself, ask them their name and what do they do.
    8. Listen to what people say; don’t try to sell.
      You can only solve people’s problems or help them make the most of opportunities if you know what these are. That means listening and absorbing, not talking. If you listen well, they’ll trust you and if you ask the right questions, you’ll uncover all the clues you’ll need in order to decide if you have something to offer them.
    9. Get the other person’s name and business card.
      You can politely ask for someone’s card without seeming pushy, or wait until they offer their card to you. If you didn’t catch their name when first introduced, ask again. No one objects to repeating their name to someone who evidently wants to remember them.
    10. Follow up afterwards.
      Having given up your time to attend the event, make sure it is worthwhile by keeping a promise to follow up with each of the people you meet. Even if you think they may not be the most valuable contact, remember that you don’t know who they know who could be interested in what you do. Follow up with an email or supply some valuable information in the next day or so after meeting. Connect with them on LinkedIn. Then ensure you keep in touch thereafter.

I hope these tips will help you be more successful in your networking endeavors. By being subtle and polite, you come from a position of strength to follow up with your new-found friends/colleagues/potential clients to begin a lasting and meaningful relationship. So get out there and network!

Read Full Post »

I am always excited to share about Withum’s rankings in the many prestigious lists where you will see our firm’s name. Today is no exception. The Vault Accounting 50 for 2017 was recently released. Vault is a highly respected “career intelligence” website which surveys employees to determine the results of the rankings. Scores are weighted in the areas of satisfaction, business outlook and firm culture. You will see that Withum is ‘trending up’ in the Accounting 50 list from 17 last year to 13 this year.

Notably, there were 6 categories in which our firm appeared in the top three spots:

  • Withum ranked #1 in “Philanthropy” – Wow! We are thrilled that initiatives such as Withum Week of Caring, $5 Jeans Days, and the Staff Hardship Relief Fund truly resonate with our staff.
  • Withum ranked #2 in another two – “Travel Requirements” and the “Benefits” categories.
  • Withum ranked #3 in three categories – “Compensation,” “Culture” and “Firm Leadership.”

For the first time in our history of being listed in Vault, Withum ranked in a Practice Area: #23 in Forensic Accounting! What a great testimony to our skillful Forensic and Valuation Services team!

The Withum Way spirit is alive and well. I cannot say ‘thank you’ enough for the continued support demonstrated by all of our staff who are truly the cornerstone of our firm’s success, dedicating themselves to our clients, to our communities and to each other.

Read Full Post »

Happy New Year to everyone celebrating Rosh Hashanah.

As shared in previous posts, I enjoy reading books and articles on leadership and business topics as part of my own professional development. They often serve as inspiration for many ideas and initiatives which are currently established here at the firm. I recently read The Real-Life MBA: Your No-BS Guide to Winning the Game, Building a Team, and Growing Your Career, authored by Jack & Suzy Welch. Jack Welch, as you may know, is the legendary former-CEO of General Electric who was named “Manager of the Century” by Fortune magazine in 2000. His wife, Suzy Welch, is a bestselling author, television commentary and noted business journalist. The book is chock full of sound business advice, with six key learning opportunities which I felt are most applicable to every professional in our firm, relating to Team Alignment, Growth, Leadership, Marketing B2B, Building a Winning Team and Getting Unstuck in Your Career.  I’d like to share a little about each through this and five additional future messages.

Let’s start with Team Alignment, which means more than simply a group of people who are in agreement. Alignment reflects an active ownership on the part of the team members, with each individual understanding and contributing to the goals, vision, and solution of top challenges. And Leadership is the driver to galvanizing the kind of alignment that takes the grind out of work.  Here are a few points the Welch’s share to get your teams successfully aligned:

  1. Getting into everyone’s skincaring passionately about your people and understanding what makes them tick. If you want to inspire even more good stuff happening within your team, you need to truly get to know and care about your people as individuals. Your people give their days (and sometimes their nights) to you. They give their hands, brains and hearts. Sure, they are paid a salary to do so. But as a leader, you need to fill their souls. As a firm, we are more than happy to reimburse expenses related to lunches or activities with your staff with the intent to build stronger relationships.
  2. Serving as the Chief Meaningful Officer – using words and deeds to give your team’s work context and purpose. Remember, your people spend more than 40 hours a week working. If you’re not helping them make meaning of that investment, you’re wasting their time and their lives. Be aspirational in your tone with your team members. They want to be a part of something bigger than themselves.
  3. Removing blockages – clearing bureaucracy and other nonsense out of the way of your team’s path to results. A leader’s job is to sweep away those things which stand in the way of a team reaching its target. That includes people, too: the action blockers, the change resistors, the process obsessives. There’s always a way to create work-arounds for most anything so your team members can achieve their goals. And there are certainly plenty of people within our firm with a wealth of “people experience” to assist you in this area if needed.
  4. Demonstrating the generosity gene – going over-the-top in your desire and effort to reward people for great performance, using money, promotions and praise. One of my favorite things about the State of the Firm event is to recognize talented, loyal staff with our Strength Awards and Milestone Awards, also giving them a monetary gift. But remember, a simple ‘thank you’ or an announcement during a team meeting sharing praise about a job well done is free and goes a long way. And don’t forget about the Gotcha Awards!
  5. Making sure the work is fun – creating an environment of enjoyment and celebration. “Work Hard-Play Hard” is part of the Withum Way culture, and I think we do a pretty good job of having a good time while also providing the world-class service our clients expect. We embrace humor and candor; we do things outside of the office to build camaraderie; we do our best to adhere to our ‘no jerk’ policy and maintain a familial atmosphere. Every leader in our firm should help nurture this very important behavior.

I hope you enjoyed this first installment of the thought leadership coming from The Real Life MBA.

Have a great week!

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

I have had younger staff member ask me, “What can I do to help me be successful”?  Aside from having the te596232_origchnical knowledge needed to do our jobs, the essence of a successful professional is effective communication, whether internally to our peers or supervisors, or externally to our clients.   Some clients prefer we only send emails; others need us to spend time on the phone; most effective is to meet in person. Regardless of our clients preferred mode of contact, we must always keep in mind the following tips on being an effective communicator. In addition, effective communication with our fellow engagement team members will improve the efficiency of the engagement and enhance “world class client service.”

 

  • First, we have to remember that good communication starts with being a good listener. We must always be prepared to patiently listen to our client or teammate and never interrupt them. A simple way to be sure we understand their point or questions is to rephrase it and ask them to confirm that we didn’t misunderstand him or her.

 

  • Second, we must try to focus on being self-confident and positive. By projecting the right attitude, our words must also become more positive – affirmation and encouragement will help get the best out of people, and clients will get more from the conversation. A good tip in this regard is to smile even when we are speaking on the phone and can’t be seen. This helps project a positive attitude.

 

  • Third, understand who the audience is. When speaking with clients, it generally is not necessary to be technical in nature. Tax clients don’t really care what the code section is that allows the deduction; they only care that they can take advantage of it. We must be sure to speak in our clients’ terms.

 

  • And for last, we don’t always have to be right – sometimes it is better to let go. There will be times when a conflict with a client or fellow team member will occur. It’s generally best to hear each other out and allow time to cool off before addressing it. Remember that there is normally a compromise that is possible, and you just need to approach the conflict with a cool and rational state of mind. If you do make a mistake, both clients and peers are forgiving when you are honest or if you find your previous position on a subject is no longer accurate.

 

Effective communication is the best way to differentiate yourself in the market place. When providing professional services, everyone states they will be progressive and have the most talented people. Most important is to deliver on the these promises, and let our clients know they are important to us.

Read Full Post »