All posts in Engagement Agreement

IC Opportunities

I spent the last 48 hour in chilly Chicago with a group of thought leaders who command attention in the accounting arena. Jody Padar organized the first annual (maybe quarterly) IC Opportunities Event which brought together practitioners, vendors, media, marketers, state societies to discuss the direction of the profession. Greg Kyte, our resident comedian, welcomed us with a colorful keynote. Vendors in attendance included representatives from Intuit, Thomson Reuters, Wolters Kluwer, Sharra Chan of Orange Door, Jennifer Warawa of Sage, Kasey Bayne of Freshbooks, Sarah Johnson of Inovautus, Peter Wolf of Azamba Consulting, Kathleen Echeverria of, Tamera Loerzel of Convergence Coaching and Michael Redisch of Cloudsway. Our media friends were Danielle Lee of Accounting Tomorrow and Rick Telberg of CPA Trendlines. Oh, and how can I forget, Jackie Brown representing the MACPA, only the COOLEST state society in the land.

Jody started the brain dump bright and early with a discuss on “the Gap.” The four areas we focused on were Mobile, Could, Social, and Project Management. In groups, we discussed the external and internal forces that prevent firms from adopting. The discussion moved to suggestions on how the four areas could gain more traction with the traditional firms. In the afternoon Geni Whitehouse, Jason Blumer Kasey, Sharra, and Joe Manzelli moderated deeper round table talks on Social, Cloud, and Project Management.

I was honored to be invited to an event like this. I was so happy to leave the comfort of my office, during tax season, and engage my brain in the future of accounting. My take-aways from the event were; the profession is moving in a direction to offer creative services above and beyond the traditional “tax-man” services. Acceptance of cloud and mobile technology will be a must for these services to flourish.

Jody, when is the next one?


Thrivecast and Andriod

Self-proclaimed Googleites,

Come one, come all; and feast on the work-around to listen to Greg and Jason‘s Thrivecast on your Andriod device.

Copy the link below and paste it into your RSS feed reader or Google Reader, it will update automatically.

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Knowledge Management?

When I first heard the term knowledge management I thought to myself; great, one more buzz phrase to add to the list.  Static this, tacit who?  Reverse please:

I am a simple guy.  I like simple things.  I enjoy taking complex ideas and simplifying them so they can be understood.  The conversion from complex to human is an important one, because once I can understand it, the word can flow into the streets.

My research of Knowledge Management turned up a number of explanations and ideas, all being complex.  I also uncovered that knowledge management was more than a business buzz; it kinda separates the entrepreneurs from business owners.  Lets get started.

Literature on the topic usually refer to two types of knowledge: static and tacit.
Stop.  For this post the two types of knowledge I am going to talk about are: textbooks and brain mojo.  For our scholars out there, textbooks translate into static knowledge, and brain mojo translates to the ever so sexy tacit knowledge.  Textbooks and brain mojo, textbooks and brain mojo, say it with me, please

Textbooks, or static knowledge, is the information we process into knowledge from the resources all around us.  School, textbooks, IRS websites, PDF’s, magazines, white-papers, case studies etc.  This knowledge is available to anyone who wants it.  Its not a secret, it is literally what has been published for people to read and process.  Textbook knowledge is great because just like a textbook, if you forget it or need to reference it, just look it up.

Brain Mojo, or tacit knowledge, is the information that makes the world tick.  I refer to it as Brain Mojo, because unlike textbooks, someones Brain Mojo is rarely published for others use.  Even if we did a better job publishing Brain Mojo, I believe only a few could benefit from it.  Brain Mojo perpetuates entrepreneurship.   An appropriate example to illustrate someones phenomenal Brain Mojo would be the late Steve Jobs.  I have heard the critics call Mr. Jobs controlling, degrading, genius, perfectionist, among other names.  These labels Mr. Jobs accumulated throughout his career are a direct result of his Brain Mojo.  His Brain Mojo, directed, created, edited, criticized, and complemented everything that came out of Apple.  Some say he left a road map for Apple to follow for the years to come.  Let me be clear here, a road map is not Brain Mojo, so it is left to be seen if the current leader at Apple can carry on Mr. Jobs legacy.

Since textbooks are already in circulation, some say it is important to try and capture the Brain Mojo to pass on.  I am not sure it is that easy.  I understand manuals, policies, and trade secrets can be documented, but I believe the Mojo is something deeper.

Your thoughts?


R.I.P. Billable Hour

Firm of the Future, Firm of the Future, Firm of the Future.  Results are in the air!  Recently a colleague of mine (in the legal profession) presented at Ignite Law 2011.  Jay Shepherd, founder of Prefix LLC, shared in just 6-minutes, “How you will practice law in 2019.”  I learned that the billable hour was founded in 1919.  Who knew?  Jay goes into detail on how the legal profession can move away from the century old billable hour.  Pricing based on solutions is cool; old crusty time sheets are not.  If this type of TEDx learning/awareness is happening in the legal community, I see major hope for us CPA’s.   Enjoy, I know I did.


CPA Network

Back in February a really cool South Carolinian by the name of Jason Blumer shifted the focus of his personal blog from himself to create a community for new-age CPA’s. The THRIVEal Network is what he calls it. THRIVEal you ask? What the heck is a THRIVEal See for yourself

I describe it as group of like-minded professional, not afraid to challenge the status quo. The processes and metrics of the traditional CPA firm are stale and unsustainable; we have popped up on the scene to say, watch out #CHANGEISCOMING! While these process and metrics have withstood the test of time so far, technology, collaboration and creativity are a few of the attributes we are preaching. Frankly, I am stoked and honored to have joined the coolest group to hit the CPA arena.

The THRIVEal network hosts six “community calls” throughout the year. During these calls, members get together (online of course) to discuss the forefront topics of our profession. Yesterday was the second call and the topic we discussed was Value Billing. It won’t take you long browsing my attractive blog to figure out I am a bit of a Value Billing fan. I trashed my timesheet on 01/01/2010 and was happy to discover that life goes on without the dreaded timesheet. I could go on and on about how the change saved my career, made my customers happy, and made me more profitable, but I will refrain from repeating what has already been posted, so please check it out. Instead I am going to focus on what I learned from the call.

We began by talking about efficiency vs effectiveness. For the longest time, I was obsessed with being “efficient.” How can I run payroll, from start to end, with 6 clicks of the mouse, I would ask myself. Funny thing is, I would get worked up if it took me 7, 8, or 9 clicks to complete. The point here is, who cares how many clicks it takes to run the damn payroll??? After absorbing the idea that effectiveness trumps efficiency, it was clear to me that the purpose of running payroll was to pay employees, submit the taxes, and DO IT CORRECTLY. If I executed the payroll in 2 flippin clicks but forgot to pay someone…#missionfail. As a young CPA, it is easy to get caught up in the technology and forget you are responsible that someone gets dinner on the table this weekend.
Another topic we discussed was business practices that add value to your customers. A member shared that customer education was mandatory for his firm accepting that new customer. I like the idea of education, when I am educated I feel a “part of” something and not just a “part.” Anyways, who wants to stop learning? not me. I embrace learning from customers. At the end of the day we both have something to contribute to what we are working on. Just the other day I was having a multi state conversation with a customer and I was explaining states are starting to crack down on nexus issues by communicating to each other. The customer shared with me how the NYC is suing a number of the travel sites for shorting them on sales tax. My point here is I embrace learning from all sources, its cool.

Wrapping it up, I felt some lightbulbs go off during the call and I am sure others felt that way too. If I had to age myself for where I am with Value Billing, I would estimate 1.5 years old. Just a baby, but growing everyday.


Year Anniversary

This week turns 1!!!  So much has happened in the past year, I don’t know where to begin.  Lets start with: I opened my own firm, met a group of people who Have/Will shape my outlook on the accounting profession, I hired, I fired, and I have worked on the confidence to say that “I can.”  My reason for blogging was to share my experience, successes, challenges, and to connect with potentials wanting to convert from old ways.  In mid 2009, I was ready to check-out of public accounting.  I told myself there was no way I was going to do this for the rest of my life.  Most of my discouragement came from a rigid routine which I felt zero appreciation for and my environment did not breed growth; I was dying.  Through twitter, I stumbled upon an interview with Ron Baker challenging the timesheet as a viable metric in public accounting firms.  It was my “a-ha” moment.
Six months later I launched this bad-boy and the first post was a three part post on trashing the timesheet; I was ecstatic at the freedom of not tracking time and wanted to share all.  I feel it would only be fitting to celebrate this occasion with another video.  This came to me from John Shaver at Aries Technology Group.  It really needs no introduction, enjoy.



Anticipating the arrival of his new book “Implementing Value Pricing: A Radical Business Model for Professional Firms” I had the opportunity to speak to the man himself, Ron Baker.  Ron connected with me on Twitter and we set up a phone call to catch up.  I must say the conversation brought up new energy to what I had done approximately one year ago, “trashed the timesheet.”  Since the transition, I have kinda forgotten what it was like to track my time.  During our conversation, Ron was mentioning to me some of excuses he hears all over the world, promoting the timesheet, and it was bringing back chilling memories of tracking my time.

Ron pointed me the verasage website when we began to discuss the topic of “first class” customers vs “coach” customers.  The title of the blog is “forget being effective, be efficacious”  which I ignorantly pronounced “efacious” is where he pointed me.  EFF-a-cacious is superior to effective.  So, if Spam is effective, Filet Mignon would be efficacious.  You get my point, but let me warn you that my metaphor really does not do the word justice.  What the guys at verasage are challenging the profession to do is step past being effective and deliver the client a celestial experience.  While I have not had a ton of time to think about the process, what jumps out to me is a child’s first trip to Disney World.  Having the ability to deliver a desired result, I think Walt and the gang have that down pat.  Just when I thought I had the whole client service aspect down, the folks at verasage push the bar one notch higher.  I LOVE IT.  Keep up the inspiration coming guys.


Year-end Value Chat

I wanted to document a year-end review of value billing.  In my first posts on this blog I spoke of what it was like, the transition, and what it is like now without the timesheet.  I have had more time to reflect on the true meaning of value billing and what it means to me.  If I am not creating value for a client, I don’t want their money.  When I came into the industry I was taught, find new client, bill the client, and HOPE some value was transferred.  While the word value was never used I suppose my end product; a compilation, a meeting, a tax return was that value…..I guess?  Since I have trashed the timesheet this idea of value has taken on a new meaning for me.  It begins with trust.  When I say trust, I don’t mean, “let me be the center of your financial influence.” trust.  But, “tell me your expectations, and let me try to exceed them” trust.  From trust I move to collaboration.  “Will you work with my team, to exceed those expectations?”  Lastly, acceptance.  Along with being the key to serenity, acceptance of an expectation is where a valuable client relationship should be.  Clients who get the most benefit from value billing are willing to trust, collaborate, and accept.  When the three come together, I am able to pour the value out, like gravy on Thanksgiving stuffing.
Happy Holidays