Friday, February 28, 2014

Saturday Afternoons in the 1970s

My father, who, just weeks ago celebrated his 82nd birthday was, and still is, a great believer in practicing and perfecting basic skill sets. For my brother and me, our required practice came on Saturday afternoons, when we had a choice: either we practiced an hour of typing or reading.

Now, there were ground rules: our typed assignment had to have a central theme or story, we just couldn’t hammer at the keys randomly and he would later correct it for grammar. Our reading could not be Sports Illustrated, comics or MAD magazine, but either national news publications like Time or papers like the New York Times where we would be quizzed later on current events and content.

He was a believer in the 10,000 hours of practice theory, four decades before Malcolm Gladwell’s classic “Outliers” introduced the concept to the American public. Once satisfied, he would then allow us to go outside for recreational pursuits, which usually consisted of pick-up games at the local park. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Social Not-Working? It doesn’t have to be!

Despite my well-documented ineptitude with all things technology, I’ve never for a moment doubted its impact on the accounting profession. The PC inarguably revolutionized the back-office functions, while years later, iPads and similar tablets allowed CPAs to work remotely and avoid lugging ponderously heavy footlockers of tax information or audit work papers from client to client.

But in many of my CPE sessions, I also explain the downside of a tech-centric culture. First and foremost, technology has slowly transformed personal interaction into obsolescence. With correspondence coming via e-mail or cloud applications, most CPAs rarely see their entire client base more than once a year and that is almost universally around tax time. As a result, the traditional in-person meet and greet has suffered.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

What Do You Mean it’s not Deductible?

In between shoveling more than a foot of global warming and taking a slip on a sheet of ice that left my kneecap looking like the remnants of an overdue mob loan, this past weekend’s event also included the annual meeting with my accountant.

Rocco, who has prepared my taxes since 1992, outlined a series of deductions he feels I’m entitled to this year and while I can’t really classify his strategy as overly aggressive, if he sees a small opening he will usually trust his instincts coupled with an almost freakish familiarity with the Tax Code.

Which brings us to the topic de jour. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Smart Phone, Dumb Upgrade

I used to think that one of the most feared phrases in the English language was “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

The above statement and the unpleasant and mind-numbing ramifications that are almost certain to follow are enough to make the average citizen cringe.

With good reason and certainly not without precedent.

But recently I came across another that makes me want to retreat faster than Cujo’s veterinarian.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Wrong Message at the Worst Time

Ever hear of not-so-uncommon scenario where a married couple approaches a milestone anniversary and one spouse surprises the other with a celebratory exotic vacation, only to have the other serve them with divorce papers?

A case of bad timing probably doesn’t get much worse than that. In the history of understatements that’s what I would consider two fairly divergent views on the health of a relationship. Fortunately, on my recent 25th wedding anniversary there was no process server banging on my door.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Please Don’t Say It!

A few blogs back I regaled you with anecdotes from several of my former companies who were hopelessly mired in meeting cultures. To recap, I was required to attend meetings for just about everything, including the absurd premise of conducting meetings to determine when to schedule future meetings.

Now in sort of a tangent to that, I’ll address my second least favorite corporate exercise, that of the oft-repeated and grating sphere of buzzwords.

You know what I mean – shopworn clichés and axioms such as “win-win.”

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

It Happens Every Year

Judging by my errant Super Bowl prediction in last Friday’s blog, you can see why despite more than 30 trips to Las Vegas, I remain as far away from the casino floor as possible. I would be better off just handing the dealers a wad of cash instead of going through the machinations of a pointless exercise in futility.

I can only imagine the results if I took a sudden interest in astrology. Would anyone really want me to read their horoscope?

But with tax season almost upon us, I’m going to make another bold prediction – and that being come April 16, nearly 70 percent of the people whom either I call or contact me, will swear up and down like an angry boson’s mate who forgot to pack the rum, that 2014 was their last 1040 Tsunami  – period.

Fine, I tell them, we can help with that.