Friday, September 28, 2018

Doing What Makes You Happy

My paternal grandfather was, for lack of a better term – a mechanical and mathematical genius. He dropped out of school in the 6th grade to work by collecting driftwood under Brooklyn’s famed Coney Island boardwalk for $1 a day.

He later fished out a worn calculus textbook from a trash bin and taught himself how to determine such esoteric things as critical numbers and average function values. At 16, he built his fist car from scratch and as an adult earned seven mechanical patents from the U.S. Navy in World War II.

He later became the chief mechanic at the old Topps Factory – best known for their packets of Major League Baseball cards. Needless to say, as his first grandson, I had more MLB player cards than any 10 kids in the neighborhood.

I always maintained that had he been born in say 1951 or 1961 instead of 1911, he would have easily been in the same software development arena as a Gates or Jobs, he was simply that smart.

But for all his accomplishments, do you know what he really wanted to do?

Operate a hot dog cart.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Pardon My Disinterest

In one of the classic episodes of M*A*S*H, Trapper and Hawkeye are getting into a heated exchange over some minor issue (the real reason behind the verbal skirmish and rising tempers was that the C.O. had banned liquor on the base indefinitely). Following some more back and forth, Hawkeye ends the conversation by telling his bunkmate, “there isn’t a machine invented that can measure my indifference to that remark.”

In full disclosure I have used that put-down over the years – giving full attribution of course.

Sadly, I find myself repeating that phrase more frequently of late, especially regarding social media – and in particular, Facebook. Now I realize that “social” casts a wide net with regard to meaning and scope, but do I really want to know how good the pot roast was last night, or what great seats you scored to “Hamilton?” Congratulations, your kid got into Podunk State, or you nailed your best time in a regional 10K, but truthfully, there isn’t a machine invented… well need I go on?

In other words, don’t bore me.

And in truth Facebook has become a J.D. Power certified bore.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Time Waits for No Man – or CPA Firm!

In full disclosure, I’m impatient by nature. Always have been always will be. My parents would often council me, either via a soft lecture (my mother) or by an avuncular gesture by my father – a swift crack to the back of the head - about the importance of taking your time about things.

Like the time I broke a basement window with an errant baseball toss and then in my haste incorrectly measured the frame. Later I felt the full brunt of my father’s wrath when he tried to refit a pane that was obviously too large.

I’ve settled down a bit since then, but still, when something drags along far more than it should have, I begin pacing like an expectant father.

The accounting profession is no venue for someone with a patience quotient like mine. If someone assured a CPA that McDonald’s sells hamburgers, he/she would likely have to perform a prolonged due diligence.

And that goes double for M&A.

We have a company axiom regarding the mergers of CPA firms that goes like this: “Time kills all deals.”

There’s no exception to that rule – ever.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Remembering an Accounting Pioneer

Accountants as a rule are not natural entrepreneurs. In fact, they’re trained from their first class on the subject to be cautious and, well, question everything. As someone who has both covered and consulted on the profession for nearly 20 years, I have seen otherwise intelligent CPAs make incredibly idiotic business decisions.

Like the firm owner in the Detroit area who needed to merge upstream for lack of a succession plan bragging to me that he just signed a 5-year lease extension at a terrific rate.

It didn’t dawn on him that by signing, he just eliminated 80 percent of the potential successor firms that might have been interested in merging. But now any firm would either must assume the lease or try and sublet the space.

“Oh” was the muted reaction I received when I broke this bit of unwelcome news.

But the ones that are born entrepreneurs stand out from the rest of the pack and can be justifiably labeled as pioneers.