Friday, September 27, 2013

“Sandwiched” in the Crowd? Don’t Shout Out, Stand Out!

Years ago  while attending a conference in New Orleans, a colleague suggested at the session’s lunch break we skip the perfunctory plate of rubber chicken and instead, leave the hotel to sample one of the Crescent City’s more famous culinary staples, the Po’ Boy sandwich. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

How Strong is Your Brand?

A legendary investor once joked that he knew a sure fire way to ensure getting a $10 million return investing in an airline. All you needed to do was start with $20 million.


That strategy sounds a lot like the one deployed by a hapless portfolio manager who managed a 401(k) I held with a former employer and whose annual returns were between 2 and 3 percent. I was sure he invested the employees’ contributions in dismal performing sectors such as airlines. Only an internal mutiny succeeded in finally showing him and his third-party administration company the door.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The “Apple” of My Eye?

As I’ve often explained in this space, I’m still about three area codes away from being conversant in tech-speak.

When I attended technology-centric sessions at various conferences, halfway through you could find me playing word jumble having long ago lost any understanding of the subject matter.

When my wife and I finally purchased a flat screen TV, I had to scour Angie’s List to locate someone who could program the DVR system.

When I encounter an IT problem, I adopt the Woody Allen approach to solving it. I plead nicely for several minutes for it to correct itself and if that doesn’t work, then I start to hit.

But like 80 percent of the folks in the public accounting profession I do own a smartphone – an iPhone to be exact having jumped off the Blackberry wagon two years ago. And in contrast to my past tech failures, thus far I have been able to perform the requisite functions and have even managed to download a number of applications – including my flashlight which has been invaluable during storm-induced power outages.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Save Costco for your house, not practice niches

Ok, I’ll admit I enjoy holding an executive membership at Costco.

There’s something about floor-to-ceiling pallets overstuffed with economy-sized items that somehow transforms me into Kim Kardashian at a Jimmy Choo sale. Then, when my American Express bill arrives at the end of each month, I always regret buying that extra laundry detergent that comes in a container the size of a Fiat or that package of 1,000 AA batteries.

But I have long admired the business model of Costco and its price-club competitors such as BJ’s and Sam’s Club, as they inevitably manage to get you to spend four times the amount you would normally on weekly shopping at your neighborhood supermarket.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Admissions of an Anti-Changer

In a past life I once helped manage a Tex-Mex restaurant. On a sizzling Arizona afternoon, the general manager gathered the staff for a review of pending changes that he planned to implement. After surveying a dining room full of concerned faces he proceeded to draw a clock on a sheet of paper with the hands showing high noon. After displaying it to the rank and file, he then furiously scribbled on a second sheet – it was another clock but this one displaying the time at 12:05.

His message was simple but stunningly effective, even a five minute increment can represent change.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Kickoff to M&A

A few columns back I waxed on about how it could not possibly have been the onset of the Labor Day weekend and the traditional curtain call on another summer, as it seemed like just the week before I was cleaning the Weber and refilling the propane tanks in preparation for a season of grilling.

And now that the NFL schedule has officially launched, that sort of sends a clarion that the accounting profession (and ancillary folks like us) is gearing up for a final rush before the tax organizers begin going out.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Time to Wake Up and Face North!

My father has this term he occasionally employs as sort of a rude wake-up call for those needing to get back to the real word.

He calls it “windshield reality.”

The roots of this axiom are predicated on the sobering image of crashing through the windshield of a car during a head-on collision. He used it on yours truly and my younger brother on a number of memorable occasions – most notably when I learned that I would not have a career in any professional sport and several years later when I applied to an Ivy League school only to receive my application back a week later marked “return to sender.”

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Above all, better is better!

As a former boxer I’ve certainly taken my share of punches and on rare occasions found myself in the unenviable position of staring up at the ceiling and wondering why I happened to be on the floor.  For those who know me well, I dare say they would probably put the connected punch count much higher than my conservative estimates.

Heading toward the tail end of last week it felt like I made an ill-advised comeback to the squared circle, when a merger that I would have gambled a large portion of my 401(k) on it closing, fell apart at the 11th hour, with the disappointment over the collapse hitting me like George Foreman in his prime.