Friday, October 25, 2013

Same Time Next Year?

Was it really one year ago that I nearly had to tap into the FAA network in order to find a flight home from Florida in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy?

Since then I’ve questioned the wisdom of leaving a venue that was 75 degrees and sunny in order to get to a 50-degree house without power and running water. Then exactly four days later, I attended a conference in  California  only get caught in the eye of a Nor’easter on the return trip that kindly afforded me a bed for the night on the floor of the Detroit airport.

I’m happy to report, that thus far, I’ve encountered far kinder and gentler, weather on my conference schedule.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Whether it’s an Audit or Audi, Service is Service

A few columns ago, I either regaled or bored you with my travails of car shopping and all the hair-pulling peripheral decisions that go along with it.

Well, after debating longer than the budget battle in Washington, we finally made a decision and opted for a vehicle minted in Germany (hint: it’s not Mercedes or BMW). In fact, we picked it up last evening and drove it home with the care of guiding a toddler as they learn to walk – uncertain of when the first parking lot door dent or flying road debris will tarnish the now-unblemished exterior, only knowing that it eventually will.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I Never Realized I Was so Popular!

My suspect technology pedigree has pretty much spanned the gamut  of ineptness - from muted snickering by many of my colleagues - to knee-slapping hilarity from members of my own family. And as many of you who check in with me twice a week (Tuesdays and Fridays for all you newcomers) know, it’s been pretty well documented in this space.

Some might even argue that’s it’s been over-reported.


Friday, October 11, 2013

Welcome to Tax Season and by the way, You’re Fired!

In another lifetime I once interviewed the former head of a hotel chain whose properties were largely franchised. He was a no-nonsense Austrian with an uncompromising work ethic and an obsession with quality. And he had this simple rule for all those who operated under his brand. At the end of the year he would produce a ranking of all the properties in terms of cleanliness, service, guest feedback etc.

Those hotels that fell in the bottom 10 percent of the ranking would have their franchise rights to the brand immediately taken away and politely told to pursue other opportunities. The same held true for the top-level executives.

But to be fair, he applied the same criteria to himself. If his ranking fell below a certain pre-determined level, he would voluntarily resign.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Does That Firm Come with a Sun Roof?

I’ve spent parts of the last two weekends performing one of my least favorite tasks.

Yeah, I know for many of you, that’s probably a fairly lengthy list, but in the spirit of brevity, I’ll be direct.

Car shopping.

I would put that right up there with cleaning the gutters or shoveling heavy snow.

I know many of you are probably thinking what’s wrong with this guy? After all, most folks relish the often exciting process of getting into a new shiny vehicle with a sparkling interior that has not yet met a smudgy child’s fingerprint or become the victim of an accidental beverage spill.

And you’d probably be right.

Friday, October 4, 2013

“Out of Office” Assistants

As most of you probably know my technology pedigree is, to be kind, rather unspectacular. If you were to compare my IT knowledge, to say, a reading level, it would lie somewhere between “Fun with Dick and Jane,” and “Goodnight Moon.”

Nonetheless, no one involved with the accounting profession on any level – or for that matter any industry - has even the slightest doubt the major role that technology now plays in all facets of operations – whether cloud-based applications that help usher in a paperless practice, to smartphones and tablets that allow greater out-of-office reach and activity.

Which brings me to the topic de jour.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

How “Passionate” is Your Firm?

As someone who has worked for several companies who regularly operated on the mantra: “The beatings will not stop until morale improves,” I often admired those organizations who manage instill motivation and passion in their employees particularly in today’s high octane and performance-driven workplace culture.

I’m sure we all can cite examples of companies on the opposite end of the workplace spectrum of my former employers – Southwest Airlines to pick one - where a former divorce attorney named Herb Kelleher brazenly went head to head against the established air carriers while building an employee culture and on-time performance that had consistently rated among the best in the country for decades.