Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Locate the Nearest Exit Signs

How many of us have either heard or seen the title to today’s missive during the course of their lives? Without stretching too many ligaments, I would guess probably at or near 100 percent. But being aware of exit signs often transcends office fire drills or airline safety instructions.

How about those exit signs when one of your valued employees is getting ready to jump ship?

I say “valued” because if they were mediocre or sub-par, I doubt you would care if they sought greener pastures elsewhere.

But there are some obvious and not so obvious signals that someone is preparing to file their two-week notice and it still amazes me how often management is oblivious to changes that, short of carrying a sign, indicate that you’ll need to shortly take out a classified ad.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Open $esame?

Unless your accounting firm recently assigned you to an on-premise audit in a remote parcel in Kazakhstan, you’re more than likely aware of the bonhomie surrounding the initial public offering of Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant.

As advertised, the IPO now ranks as the largest in history at a mind-numbing $25 billion, an investor run that helped its stock surge some 38 percent in its debut. And from an investor standpoint, what was and is not appealing about a company that has a virtual and literal padlock on China’s web-based retail sector? Its founder, a 5-foot tall perpetually energized Eveready battery and Tai Chi disciple named Jack Ma began the company with $60K in capital out of a cramped space after tiring of his $15 a month salary teaching English to Chinese students.

Friday, September 19, 2014

You Have a Receipt for That?

Remember those Saturday morning SAT tests you took in high school and pending the outcome, hopefully you scored high enough to land a freshman slot in a well-respected institution of higher learning?

For those who recall those frenetic and regimented sessions, you’ll most likely remember the portion of the test that dealt with analogies: such as A is to B as C is to what?

Okay try this: Filling out an expense report is like a) root canal b) a hangnail C) a bee sting or d) all of the above.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Hope You Enjoyed Your Stay and Don’t Forget To Tip!

In the classic gangster film noir, Reservoir Dogs, a crew of professional thieves having breakfast become embroiled in a heated discussion about how much to tip the server. One of the henchmen, aptly named Mr. Pink, declares that as a rule he doesn’t tip just because society dictates that he has to.

“Why do we tip this waitress and not people who work at McDonald’s, they both serve you food don’t they?

Last week, I waxed cathartically about the woes of airline travel and a social media survey that ranked five carriers in a number of categories. This week, let’s take that one step further and assume that when you finally do land and not too long thereafter, you check into your assigned lodging.

Quick question: When you check out do you tip the people who clean the room?

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Cloud Warriors

As a lifetime fitness enthusiast, I’m the first to admit there is no more tiring undertaking than travel – particularly air travel. I used to joke that if you took your hardest workout routine and doubled that, it would at least begin to resemble the fatigue from flying the friendly skies.

Not to mention all the ancillary pre and post-flight laugh-fests such as security lines, baggage claim and the inevitable delays.

Even on relatively short hops, for example a New York to Florida jaunt, it seems like to takes at least a day for me to feel somewhat normal again.

And in large part the fatigue and aggravation quotient also depends on the airline itself.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Please Don’t Say That!

I’m not exactly going out on a limb here when I say that managing people is often a thankless job that while many improve at it over time, precious few really master.

I promise not to regale you with a list of my superior managerial accomplishments over two decades, because, well that would be stretching the truth like an oversized rubber band.

Like most imbued with that responsibility, I had my successes and failures, but in the end felt I gave as good as I got.

The dizzying mix of personalities and in some cases, deep personal issues, meant each direct report had to be dealt with differently – sometimes with stern discipline, other times with compassion.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Dream on!

Rumor has it the nine scariest words in the English language are: “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

That phrase no doubt unleashes a tsunami of potential bureaucratic nightmares. If you’ve ever tried to contact the Social Security Office, you sort of get the idea.

But closer to home, I’ll offer up something similar within the accounting profession.

At our humble company, an equally scary entrée can go something like this: “I’m a CPA who just left his firm and I want to buy a practice.”