Friday, October 30, 2015

The Executive Gender Theory

The other day I happened upon an article from the Harvard Business Review which delved into the perplexing question of why so many incompetent men become leaders, a not-so-veiled expose at the underrepresentation of women in the C-suite.

Now I’m sure if you post the question of gender bias in the workplace to 10 people, you would most likely receive as many responses ranging from plausible to preposterous. In the interest of time, the author posits three popular explanations regarding the gender disparity the management ranks:

(1) Women are not capable;
(2) Women are not interested;
(3) Women are both interested and capable but unable to break that prejudicial glass-ceiling.

Personally I don’t agree with the first two and more than slightly with the third. I’ve seen a number of capable women passed over for promotions in favor of their male colleagues with little or no explanation. Well okay in one instance the internal auditor discovered one potential female candidate for an executive post had falsified an expense receipt for a high-end restaurant that in fact turned out to be a fur coat. You’ve probably guessed she not only didn’t get the job, but spent the next morning scouring the classified ads. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Let’s Try This Again: My Social Media Guidelines

I thought I was fairly straightforward earlier this year when I outlined my personal social media guidelines with regards to connecting with me on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Apparently I wasn’t as clear as I’d hoped, so let me go over it again.

I realize that there are now roughly 1.4 billion Facebook users and 380 million members on LinkedIn, but that doesn’t mean that every one of you has to attempt to “friend” me or connect with me.

My rules are simple – if I don’t know you, don’t contact me in an attempt to join your social media network. It’s not that I’m virulently anti-social or just plain mean – although you might receive a slightly different spin on that claim from those who know me – it’s just that I don’t want to be among someone’s 1,356 friends on Facebook or another’s goal of reaching 1,000 connections on LinkedIn. There’s absolutely no way anybody can be on a first name basis with that many people. Unless of course you’re a career politician and it’s getting to be donor time.

But I digress.

Friday, October 23, 2015

All Politics is Local

In a rare Sunday afternoon of solitude last week, I comfortably positioned myself on my couch in the family room and settled in to watch my New York Jets take on the Washington Redskins. It’s not often I get Sundays to myself, I’m usually fulfilling my spouse’s “honey do list” so you can imagine the level of my annoyance meter when someone knocked on the front door – repeatedly.

Peering through the glass pane, at first glance I thought it was a Jehovah Witness embarking on the long ago lost cause of inserting religion in my life, or at least selling me a subscription to Watchtower – the house organ for that group.

As it turns out, it was actually a candidate seeking election to the local town board and hoping to get my vote on November 3. At first I wanted to be upfront and enlighten him that interrupting a pivotal Jets game was not the way to go about it.

But I resisted. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Non-Technical Toolkit

In what seems like a lifetime ago, there was an opening in my former company for a publisher to oversee one of its flagship B-to-B magazines. The odd-on favorite to get the job was the incumbent sales manager who was incredibly well-versed about the trends in the industry it covered and knew all the pertinent advertising vendors.

To our amazement, the job eventually went to an outsider with little publishing experience. We all predicted he would not last 6 months in the job. As it turned out, he enjoyed an astonishingly brief learning curve and by the end of the first year, the magazine had reported a double digit increase in ad sales.

One day I cornered the CEO and asked why Bob (not his real name) was tapped to head the publication and not the long-term employee Glen (again not his real name). The CEO pulled me aside and said “Listen, anyone can be brought up to speed on trends and learn which companies spend in terms of advertising but Bob had a number of intangible skills that we felt were better suited.”

Friday, October 16, 2015

Naked in Public

Just the thought of today’s blog title probably makes most of us cringe – unless you can double for Sofia Vergara or her soon-to-be husband Joe Manganiello, that image is probably best left behind closed doors.

But if you’ve ever had to speak publicly before a crowd with little or no knowledge of the requested subject matter, it’s probably a fair comparison.

I’m beginning to feel that way lately.

For unknown reasons, I’ve been asked to give a presentation in December about the impact of a 21st century IT culture on accounting firms. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A PCA is Far More Than an Acronym

In its most recent succession survey report , the AICPA put forth a statistic showing that out of hundreds of sole practitioners and smaller firms, just 6 percent of those polled had a Practice Continuation Agreement in place.

As perhaps one of the least understood and by the same token, misunderstood, aspects of running an accounting  firm, many times I’m asked by clients "Who needs a PCA?"

Here’s who:

Every firm that does not have an internal solution to protect the practice in the event the owner or owners die or become incapacitated. However, too often a PCA is perceived as a substitute for a succession plan and nothing could be further from the truth. A formal succession plan is a separate issue entirely.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Working Smart

The publisher I worked for several years ago used to stage roughly 30 conferences a year for their various trade magazine portfolios. Anyone who has even had a brief passing with the field of conference organizing understands what a logistical nightmare it can be.

With room blocks, selecting speakers, travel arrangements, sponsor agreements, meals and coffee breaks and even booking entertainment, it’s a job suited for only the best organized.

This brings me to the topic de jour.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Public Accounting Enemy No. 1

Mick Jagger was wrong.

More than 50 years ago, the Rolling Stones covered an old jazz song called “Time Is on My Side” and sadly more than a few CPAs in their impressionable youth probably took it far too literally. As for me, I’m stunned that the Stones have been around for more than half a century. Take about an age reality check!

But I digress.

Time is not on your side. Not even close.

One person in the U.S. turns 65 every eight seconds. Roughly 60 percent of the equity partners in CPA firms are over the age of 50. Nearly 70 percent of firms with 15 people or less have no succession plan.

But timing doesn’t always focus on the demographics of an aging profession. It applies to unnecessarily protracting the merger process as well.