Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Nothing is Forever – Nothing

The fact that I’m now solidly ensconced into my golden years is reinforced each Sunday during football season when I hear a player with a familiar name and realize that I recognize it only because I watched his father or uncle play. Or in the case of Los Angeles Rams’ dynamic 32-year old head coach Sean McVay – I remember when his grandfather – yes with a “G” - John McVay – coached the New York Giants.

I prefer to think of myself as experienced, as opposed to old. But with age comes the inevitable current of change – or in some cases a tidal wave.

I read with some sadness this week about the umpteenth bankruptcy filing of Sears and its decision to shutter 142 stores. Growing up, it was unthinkable that the company with the annual catalog the thickness of the New York City White Pages would ever disappear from the country’s retail landscape.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Sorry, No One is That Busy

Every three months or so, my health club sends out an online survey asking that its members rate the facility on several fronts – cleanliness, condition and availability of equipment, quality of staff assistance and the like. It also leaves a comment box at the end for whatever is top of mind in terms of complaints.

In the five years that I’ve belonged there, my comments/objections have never wavered from the initial poll – curtail the use of cell phones on the exercise floor and certainly in the individual conditioning classes.

They once tried placing a sign at the welcoming desk that asked that cellphones not be used on the main floor, but that had about as much effect as a no smoking sign in a longshoreman’s lounge. 

Unless you’re a trauma surgeon on call, work for the Department of Defense, or are a 911 first responder, there’s no reason you need to be talking on a phone while on the treadmill or exercise bike.


I’m sorry, no one is that busy. No one.

I was once training with someone when a chatty member began yammering away on her phone and I told her that she obviously mistook the room for the teacher’s lounge. I received a look like I had just handed her a $150 speeding ticket.

I guess the same logic can be applied to the 9-15 and 10-15 deadlines.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

At Least They Get an “A” for Effort

You know how some parents of Little Leaguers rail against kids receiving those “participation” trophies at the end of the year? Their complaint – and it’s not without some merit – is that it detracts from the other more deserving team awards such as Most Valuable Player.

Why bother giving trophies at all if everyone gets one?

Think of how the kid who bats .450, hits 12 home runs and steals 20 bases feels if Joe Benchwarmer receives a shiny statuette at the end of the year as well.

However, there are times I feel that awards absolutely should be given for effort and persistence.

And my 2018 Achievement/Participation Award goes to those overseas scammers who call and pretend to be from the Internal Revenue Service.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Doing What Makes You Happy

My paternal grandfather was, for lack of a better term – a mechanical and mathematical genius. He dropped out of school in the 6th grade to work by collecting driftwood under Brooklyn’s famed Coney Island boardwalk for $1 a day.

He later fished out a worn calculus textbook from a trash bin and taught himself how to determine such esoteric things as critical numbers and average function values. At 16, he built his fist car from scratch and as an adult earned seven mechanical patents from the U.S. Navy in World War II.

He later became the chief mechanic at the old Topps Factory – best known for their packets of Major League Baseball cards. Needless to say, as his first grandson, I had more MLB player cards than any 10 kids in the neighborhood.

I always maintained that had he been born in say 1951 or 1961 instead of 1911, he would have easily been in the same software development arena as a Gates or Jobs, he was simply that smart.

But for all his accomplishments, do you know what he really wanted to do?

Operate a hot dog cart.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Pardon My Disinterest

In one of the classic episodes of M*A*S*H, Trapper and Hawkeye are getting into a heated exchange over some minor issue (the real reason behind the verbal skirmish and rising tempers was that the C.O. had banned liquor on the base indefinitely). Following some more back and forth, Hawkeye ends the conversation by telling his bunkmate, “there isn’t a machine invented that can measure my indifference to that remark.”

In full disclosure I have used that put-down over the years – giving full attribution of course.

Sadly, I find myself repeating that phrase more frequently of late, especially regarding social media – and in particular, Facebook. Now I realize that “social” casts a wide net with regard to meaning and scope, but do I really want to know how good the pot roast was last night, or what great seats you scored to “Hamilton?” Congratulations, your kid got into Podunk State, or you nailed your best time in a regional 10K, but truthfully, there isn’t a machine invented… well need I go on?

In other words, don’t bore me.

And in truth Facebook has become a J.D. Power certified bore.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Time Waits for No Man – or CPA Firm!

In full disclosure, I’m impatient by nature. Always have been always will be. My parents would often council me, either via a soft lecture (my mother) or by an avuncular gesture by my father – a swift crack to the back of the head - about the importance of taking your time about things.

Like the time I broke a basement window with an errant baseball toss and then in my haste incorrectly measured the frame. Later I felt the full brunt of my father’s wrath when he tried to refit a pane that was obviously too large.

I’ve settled down a bit since then, but still, when something drags along far more than it should have, I begin pacing like an expectant father.

The accounting profession is no venue for someone with a patience quotient like mine. If someone assured a CPA that McDonald’s sells hamburgers, he/she would likely have to perform a prolonged due diligence.

And that goes double for M&A.

We have a company axiom regarding the mergers of CPA firms that goes like this: “Time kills all deals.”

There’s no exception to that rule – ever.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Remembering an Accounting Pioneer

Accountants as a rule are not natural entrepreneurs. In fact, they’re trained from their first class on the subject to be cautious and, well, question everything. As someone who has both covered and consulted on the profession for nearly 20 years, I have seen otherwise intelligent CPAs make incredibly idiotic business decisions.

Like the firm owner in the Detroit area who needed to merge upstream for lack of a succession plan bragging to me that he just signed a 5-year lease extension at a terrific rate.

It didn’t dawn on him that by signing, he just eliminated 80 percent of the potential successor firms that might have been interested in merging. But now any firm would either must assume the lease or try and sublet the space.

“Oh” was the muted reaction I received when I broke this bit of unwelcome news.

But the ones that are born entrepreneurs stand out from the rest of the pack and can be justifiably labeled as pioneers.