Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What Can Go Wrong?

As accountants, we are bred to focus on problems and errors. We search for anomolies, for results that are not in line with our expectations. That skill serves us well.

The risk is allowing that attitude to take over other parts of our lives. If our future focus is to look for things to go wrong, IN YOUR LIFE, then you might end up being right.

Take tomorrow morning as an example. Check your attitude at the door when you leave for work. Are you expecting your day to go well, are you searching for success?

Do you feel the same way about your colleagues?

If you want to limit someone's potential, by all means search for all the things they do wrong. Search for their weaknesses.

If you want to push someone's potential, by all means search for all the things they do fabulously. Praise them for their positive actions and their strengths.

What can go right?! What do I do right?! What do those around me do right?!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Defining Your Daily Success

Runing a race without a finish line. Sounds crazy, right? Speaking of races, the Olympics are just around the corner. Can't wait!

How do you define success? Do you define it both in longer term ways and shorter term ways? Ask yourself today...what does success look like to me at the end of the day?

Maybe there are 1 or 2 very important things that you need to get done today. Great, go with those. Prioritize them. De-prioritize the other items. What exactly has to get done? Is it measurable? Is it specific? Is it visible? How can you hold yourself accountable for getting them done? What is the specific next action step you can take? Have you provided enough of a buffer in your day so that you will get them done? We all know ... "things come up."

Defining success on a daily basis can be something that provides you a lot more fulfillment and freedom. I see a lot of people that basically review their days and focus on the things they DID NOT get done and that fuels fear and stress ending your day. Focus on what you (1) said you would get done, ie. the promise(s) to yourself, and (2) what you did get done, ie. the fulfillment of that promise to yourself.

Success breeds success but first you must define it and be honest with yourself. Make the end of your day a happy ending. All promises you make and keep to yourself do something more ... they make deposits in your self-integrity bank. Build your bank by crossing YOUR finish line, daily!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

"Word Smith"ers

Young kids, "these days", don’t care about selling and grammer as much as they should. I have heard this a lot, mostly from not-as-young folks.

I know what some of you will say … How can we be professional and have grammatical and spelling errors?

But the question is…do we need to have it all the time?

Two different trains of thought on the importance of grammar and spelling: More experienced Baby boomers for the most part really live by perfect grammer and spelling. Especially accontants, we cannot help ourselves. We see an error, we feel the need to correct it.

Gen Yers not so much. They are more accustomed to talking to associates in faster ways where spelling does not matter, like instant messaging, and terms like "ttyl" are used to make communication faster. (I am sure someone could easily word-smith this blog and find some pretty obvious errors!)

So, who is right? Probably both parties. Doesn't it depend on the situation? If it's a situation where you are communicating on the fly, does a spelling error, if it does ot affect he quality of the correspondence, really mean much? In a situation where you are delivering a client report, doesn't a spelling error really mean a lot? So, instead of trying to impose your word smith will on someone, ask yourself about the situation and the real effect that a misspelled word has? Speed and correct spelling do not aways go hand in hand.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

"Did you get the email?"

Have you ever received a call from someone asking you if you received their email yet? You frantically check your inbox thinking one must have passed you by ... only to realize they have sent it in the last 5 minutes?

One thing to ask yourself ... What are your communication protocols? Do the people you work the most with know what to expect? If they don't they might get crazy and think you should be (1) on email all day, and (2) prioritize their emails all the time.
Some questions to ask yourself:

> What should people expect from me in terms of response times? What is fair? Clients? Colleagues?

> What is the best way for people to reach me when something really is urgent? Do they know this?

> How does the way I process emails help me reach my daily, weekly, and longer term goals? Can I reengineer my process to make it more effective and efficient?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

4 Minutes

"...if i die tonight, at least I can say I did what I wanted to do..."

That is a lyric from the song 4 Minutes (courtesy of Madonna, Justin Timberlake, and Timbaland)

It had me thinking about the changes that have ocurred in people's outlook on their career over the last 10 years. No more social security (at least the Gen Yers don't believe it will be there for them.) People will be living A LOT longer in the future. Both parents are now taking time off to be with their young kids ... had we even heard of "paternity leave" 10 years ago? Those same parents still want to move up in their companies. They still want to continue to develop skills. They are less inclined to believe their current job might be their last ... in fact that thought scares them. Baby Boomers/Veterens are working past age 65 more and more now. Younger generations see themselves as working (and playing) well into their 70s.

The old notion that you put your time in, put your head in the sand for X number of years, and then, and only then, you "can do what you wanted to" is going bye-bye. Life is much less of a big goal than it is a series of sprints and breaks. Work is not someone's life, it is a part of their life they fit into everything else they are doing. Remember "if I die tonight".

So, tomorrow when you get a little fed up with someone because you feel they have too many competing priorities, just remember they do! They don't want to hear about what they cannot do, they are busy! They want to know about how they can fulfill what measurable requirements you have (and of course how that will help them develop their skills). They do want to do what THEY want to do today, and it all has to fit. The leaders who can help them with all of this and support them will be the ones maximizing their growth and output.

"How about you!?"

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Healthy Eating Accountants?

If you are an accountant chances are you probably aren't sitting around all week with little to do. We are always running around and because of that, eating a healthy diet during the week can be a challenge. So I would love to hear about "best practices" in keeping to a healthy diet even during our most busy times.

One thing that has worked for me is to pick a few "staples" that are (1) easily eaten fast, (2) are healthy, and (3) I enjoy eating so much that I can eat it more than once a week. I am talking mostly about snacks here.

Cottage cheese - if you like that, especially the lower fat versions, it can serve as a healthy snack where all you have to do is grab it and start scooping into your mouth. Try some blueberries, or other fresh fruit for a topping.

Yogurt - if you get a big tub of the plain flavor ... again this is a snack you just grab and eat. Try throwing a fiber cereal in there and mixing it up. Mmmm good. (Of course everyone's taste buds vary!)

Apple Sauce - sounds simple, and again that is the key. If you like apple sauce buy the small packs for on the go or a big jug for the house. The time that will pass from that moment of extreme hunger until you get some food in your mouth is real short!

So go find your own healthy "staples" that meet those three criteria, and at least part of your diet can be improved.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Working out, High Tech Style

OK, so wearing an iPod while working out is pretty common for many people. Does it improve the experience? Sure it can. It may help some people get through it, and it may help some people exercise better while listening to their favorite inspirational songs. Now some are taking technology to the next level. Here are two tools you may be noticing more and more in the gym and on the running trails:

1.) The Nike+iPod toolkit - as Apple says, "your shoe talks, your nano iPod listens." Using the toolkit you can track every stride you make in your Nike shoes. (select shoes required along with the kit you must buy) Then you can go to and insert your goals, track your progress, and even link into a community of others doing the same thing. It's pretty cool.

2.) Heart rate monitors - Polar seems to be the company doing the most here. They have equipment you can buy which comes with a watch and a heart rate monitor. (If you have seen the movie "The Incredible Hulk", Universal Studios 2008, you know the risk of letting your heart-rate reach 200!) You can track your heart-rate during your work-outs. The watch will tell you if you are in your "zone" and it captures a lot of good data you can review such as calories burned, time spent working out, etc. You can see it on your watch on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, and even download it to your computer. Many of the elliptical machines and treadmills at many gyms are pre-programmed to pick up the data from these devices. So you do not even have to put your hands anywhere on the machine to display your current heart-rate. Very cool!

Monday, July 7, 2008

How Well do you Lose?

I was watching the epic 5 hour Wimbledon final yesterday ... what a match! Rafael "Rafa" Nadal defeated Roger Federer in 5 sets. The match took so long (and after two rain delays) that the awards were handed out when it was getting dark in London. It was after 9 pm.

Roger Federer will go down as one of the best tennis players of all time. He has already won the second most grand slams. He won 5 Wimbledon titles in a row before last night. He has been ranked #1 for 232 weeks in a row. He was hurting after such a tough loss. Really hurting. But I could not help but feel more admiration for him in the loss. The way he handled it. The class.

We will all suffer "losses" in life. If I was Roger's friend, I would talk to him about his convictions and values and ask him how he was able to "win" in the hearts of so many people while losing in his own?

How do you "lose" in life and at work? Can you still win at the same time?

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." - Martin Luther King Jr.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Just-in-Time Training, Baby Style

I was reading my weekly baby email this morning, it was telling me how my uterus has been changing lately ... OK, so it's not my uterus, it is my wife's, but it is fascinating that I can receive an email that tells me what is going on with our incoming baby on a weekly, facts, etc. It is great.

It is also fascinating how many DVDs are now out there that provide information on child-birth. One in particular, "In the Womb" by National Geographic, was great. It had the latest "4-D" technology and shows pictures of babies in the womb during every month. We really enjoy them. We rent DVDs from the library now about once per month. Last week we found a 6 hour DVD which was a full-child birth class. No wonder I was reading the other day that attendence at child-birth classes is going down. There may be other reasons, but the amount of information out there allows you to learn so much of the information contained in "traditional" child-birth training classes. For the record, we have decided to still attend the class we signed up for, mostly to get a few unanswered questions answered and to make sure we know the lay-out of our hospital.

It had me thinking about "traditional" training. Seems like it will really be changing. Instead of going to a traditional training class exclusively, we comb internet sites, we receive weekly, timely emails, and we have even heard of "baby coaches" who aren't really mid-wives, they are people who coach you through the process. I was telling my wife the other day when we took our first trip to Babys"R"Us to register for her baby shower that we needed a coach! I know what a bassinet looks like now, pack-n-plays, changing stations, and playyards, and of course a crib, but you don't need them all and I felt the desire to have my own personal coach to help us out with certain questions and advice.

I probably need a "new father coach" but that is another story. (Responding "whoa" to my wife getting on the scale at week 20 because she had actually gained some tangible weight ... I was told later that was not the way to react, and now she loves telling that story to all friends and family.)

So having a baby coach, having access to DVDs, and internet sites which include message boards, FaceBook even has related groups you can join on the subject ... does that replace traditional training? As I have said, not yet for us. We are still taking a child-birth class, but I can see that happening for a lot of people in the future. It is more "just-in-time", and it is more convenient as we can have access to these things when they are most convenient and relevant to us, not based on having to sign up for something and commit an entire weekend.

I am sure you have already seen your professional training changing already. It will be exciting to see just how far we can go with the "just-in-time" concept.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Think about your last day at work before a recent long vacation? How did you feel? Probably pumped because of what was about to happen.

Another question for you ... How well do you think you managed your time that day? Chances are, if you reflect on that day, you will probably say you were pretty productive. Why is that?

Maybe it is because you:
1.) Looked to close out projects or at a minimum get them to a good stopping point.
2.) Delegated some work to the appropriate person.
3.) Said "no" to more people.
4.) Were more productive just because you were in a good mood, so that rubbed off on your own work, and most likely on others too!

So what is there to learn from this? Go on vacation a lot more?! Well, how about bringing that attitude to work more.

Plan something real fun for the end of a day. You might be surprised how that motivates you. You might be more productive by going home at 4:30 than you would have been by going home at 6:30.

How about journalizing your last day before a vacation? Reflect on it later, on a normal day. What kinds of things did you do that day? Why were you more willing to say no and delegate then? How did those actions work out? Could you challenge yourself to do that more?