Archive for January, 2012

CPA Practice Advisor has named 25 to its list of thought leaders.  The 25 will meet February 19-21 in Dallas for what I imagine will be wide-ranging discussions.

Three honorees are well known for their blogging activities:  Michelle Golden (Golden Practices), Tom Hood (CPA Success), and Rick Telberg (CPA Trendlines).  Congratulations, you are all deserving of this honor.

The entire list is:

Greg Anton, CPA; L. Gary Boomer, CPA.CITP; Jim Boomer, CPA.CITP; Jim Bourke, CPA.CITP,CFF; David Cieslak, CPA.CITP; Gale Crosley, CPA; Chris Frederiksen, CPA; Michelle Golden, CPF; John Higgins, CPA.CITP; Tom Hood, CPA.CITP; Randy Johnston; Roman Kepczyk, CPA.CITP; Allan Koltin, CPA; Mark Koziel, CPA; Barry Melancon, CPA; James Metzler, CPA; Edi Osborne; Rick Richardson; M. Darren Root, CPA.CITP; Gary Shamis, CPA; Donny Shimamoto, CPA.CITP; Doug Sleeter; Brian Tankersley, CPA.CITP;  Rick Telberg, and Jennifer Wilson.

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht

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Last night I slept like a college student.  In other words, I slept until noon.  Then I took a mid-afternoon nap.  Unable to deny having wasted the entire day, I decided just to go with it.  Turning on my laptop and opening a YouTube window, I clicked on one of my favorites, Michelle Chmielewski

First, a word about who is Michelle.  She is American, yet French is her first language.  She studied and worked under Mark W. Schaefer, an influential social media guru and professor.  I learned about her when Mark featured her video work a few months ago.

Mark Schaefer’s blog, {Grow}, is a definite must read.  He provides excellent content every day! Today’s post (Jan. 21, 2012) is, “7 Reasons Every Job Seeker Needs to Blog.”

Michelle Chmieleski is a talented social media professional.  Today, however, I’m highlighting her personal creativity as reflected in her video style.  Her videos initially focused on technical matters.  Then she switched to lifestyle commentary and she became an overnight sensation.  Her signature clip, “Learn French in One Word,” has logged approximately one million hits.

What I like about her style is the elimination of dead air, the pauses between clauses in her sentences.  It helps that she is extremely well spoken (If I spoke that well I could be a more popular teacher).  And she was born to be cute in front of a camera.  All in all, a nice package.

In the first video clip I embed, Chmielewski in 2010 responds to the Benjamin Rassat documentary, I Am the Media.  Although I like what she says about the social media mindset, what she says is not as important here as how she says it.

In the second video clip I embed, Michelle alerts us to the need for creating video captions (subtitles).  Don’t forget to click on the subtitles button.

Don’t you love her style?

Finally, I show her signature clip, “Learn French in One Word.”  Warning.  I believe she uses one of those words unsuitable for polite company.  I would shun it.  Her style shines through, though, and the clip is as hilarious as anything I’ve seen in quite a while.

You can follow Michelle Chmielewski at her blog, The Observing Participant.

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht

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Potty Mouth Carl Levin (Senator and Chair of Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations), famous for his “sh*tty deal” comments to Goldman Sachs executives, has sent a letter (Jan. 3, 2012) to the PCAOB in support of a proposal to require that the lead partner’s name be disclosed (with signature) within the audit opinion attached to annual corporate annual financial statements and listed in an audit firm’s annual report to the PCAOB.

Levin prefaces his support with the following statement,

Poor quality audits of public corporations continue to plague the U.S. investment community, allowing misleading accounting, outright frauds, and substantial losses to occur … These prominent audit failures indicate that more needs to be done to encourage accurate and effective audits of public corporations and increase accountability for poor auditing practices.

Well said, Senator Levin.  It is not only bloggers that note the poor quality of large audit firm audits of large publicly traded corporations, it is also key members of governmental oversight.  The only people who don’t agree are the leaders and partners of the large audit firms that provide the poor quality audits.  They state that audit quality is fine, and nothing should be done that could negatively affect it (such as naming the lead audit partner or mandating auditor rotation).

Levin notes five reasons for supporting that the lead auditor’s name be disclosed:

  1. It would increase audit quality.  Lead auditors would now perceive that they are more accountable for their work, and would strive to avoid generating poor audit opinions.
  2. It would strengthen audit transparency by shedding light on the audit process and key communicators.  It would make it possible for the public to evaluate senior audit officials.
  3. It would strengthen partner and audit firm accountability for audit failures.  This would signal regulatory intent that both firm and partner are to be held accountable.
  4. It would increase auditor independence by making it possible to identify when changes in key personnel are made.
  5. Key corporate officers now must sign public reports and disclosures.  This proposal would increase auditor accountability so that it would be in line with other financial professionals.

Senator Levin, I think you have done an excellent job in reasoning through a controversial issue.

Thanks to Caleb Newquist of Going Concern for the tip.

Debit and credit –  – David Albrecht

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With this blog post, I join the protest against proposed SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act).

I join the protest for two reasons.  First, the proposed laws shift the power to the accuser.  The accused must “prove” its innocence.  Second, I anticipate many “unintended” consequences that will limit academic fair use of copyrighted materials.

Kelly Phillips Erb, the TaxGirl, says it well.  She says so many things well.

SOPA and PIPA have the potential to criminalize behavior that might not be criminal. The bills, taken together, are an overreaching attempt to govern. The result is the potential for government censorship of the internet. And that isn’t okay.

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht

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Craic is my new favorite word.  According to Wikipedia, it means fun or entertainment that makes for enjoyable conversation.  A baby boomer American might call it a hoot.  But it Ireland it is called the craic.

Can accountants have the craic*?  I’m holding a contest to find out.

Journalist on the Run author Janet Newenham describes a Lake Victoria bridge bungee jumping experience as her craic.

Always up for risking my life for the sheer craic, I decided to do the bungee jump. The idea of throwing myself off a bridge in Zambia and ending up in Zimbabwe excited me to no end… until I got to the edge! I have never been so scared in ALL my life. As my legs threatened to collapse below me I dove off the bridge and saw my whole life flash before me, the land… the gorge… the bridge… the falls… the water. I was falling head first into the rocky roaring Zambezi. Then a huge tug and like a catapult I was thrown back up into the air. I was alive. I wanted more, what a feeling! I was crazy with adrenaline, bouncing up and down, heart beating.

I don’t know if I can top that.  Don’t know if I want to.  However, I am curious as to what might be an accounting craic*.

In the world of accounting, what is fun or entertainment, and makes for an enjoyable conversation?  You know, a work related hoot.  The craic.

For your chance to win a $20 Amazon gift certificate, send your entry (or entries) to albrecht@profalbrecht.com on or before 11:59 p.m. CST, on Monday, January 23, 2012. There are only three rules.  First, it must be related to accounting.  Second, it must be publishable in a “G” rated blog.  Third, my judgment is final.

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht

* Irish claim that craic should be preceded with definite article the. I’m American, so I will precede it with the indefinite article a.

Comments are welcome.

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The baby boom generation has served well the world of accounting for three or four decades.  If you, dear reader, belong to it, do you remember what it was like starting out?  Even if you do (which is doubtful), be assured that it isn’t like that any more.

As I recall, major life decisions in college revolved around getting a date and deciding which adult beverage to serve with it (still find it difficult to believe that what was eaten, drunk and inhaled didn’t kill us).  For life after college, decisions still revolved around getting a date and deciding which adult beverages to serve.  Any decisions pertaining to building a future were, for me at least, pretty much left to TEDAIT (take each day as it comes).

Accounting majors back then had it easy.  Take classes (but not too seriously), take a job with an accounting firm, plan on switching to corporate after a few years.  We didn’t graduate with much, if any, school debt.  My tuition as a freshman was less than $100 per semester.  Everything else was TEDAIT.

If you, dear reader, are a college student or new professional, you know it isn’t like that any more.  Life is complicated.

Today’s accounting majors have it rough in college.  Many find financial pressures to be distracting and depressing.  Tuition is expensive (so are the costs of living), forcing students to work and borrow incredible amounts of money.  Classes are demanding, requiring more time and alertness than I ever had to apply.  And today’s crushing flood of information from technology means that students are made aware of much more.  Back in my day, friends numbered in the dozens.  Today, college students number their Facebook friends by the hundreds and thousands.  A laptop, smart phone and wifi connection are as essential as shampoo and toilet paper.

Life after college requires planning, now.  Bob Jensen at AECM passed along a link to a clever roadmap for life after college.  The basis for the map is Jenny Blake’s book, Life After College.  The map has been prepare with the assistance of companies Mint and Quicken. Yes, the map is designed to sell a service (and a book).  But it’s still a good reminder of everything which a young person must be aware.  I’ve not read the book, but the roadmap is cute.

The first part of the roadmap deals with necessities:

The second part deals with major life issues.

Again, the entire map can be viewed at Roadmap for Life After College

The images are copyrighted, I assume, by Mint.  Used by permission.

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht

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Bob Jensen on AECM today shared a link to a 2004 article by Sidney Finkelstein (Dartmouth College), “The Seven Habits of Spectacularly Unsuccessful Executives.”  The seven habits are:

  1. They see themselves (and their organizations) dominating their environment
  2. They identify so completely with the organization that there is no clear boundary between their personal interests and their corporation’s interests
  3. They think they have all the answers
  4. They ruthlessly eliminate anyone who isn’t completely behind them
  5. They are consummate spokespersons, obsessed with the company image
  6. They underestimate obstacles
  7. They stubbornly rely on what worked for them in the past

There is nothing new here.  Anyone who has ever worked under someone knows all about managerial failures.  I can sum up the list in three words:  pride, arrogance and bullying.

I’ve had bosses before who would ask of my opinion only so they could force me out of it.  The truly abusive bosses don’t even bother.  They simply force people to toe the line.  Independent thinking is not allowed.

Spectacularly selfish people lack the most essential qualities of respect for others and respect of others.

Eventually, leaders with the deadly seven habits fail because their focus on self limits their ability to focus on problems and solutions.  Because they respect no others, no one steps forward to help the executive avoid burning completely when the crash inevitably  happens.

I appreciate this modern age of social media.  Research is emerging that use of social media helps people to have more and more successful face to face social interactions.  That’s right, heavy social media users learn to shift focus from self to others.

That’s one reason why I recommend that accountants use social media.  Accountants are doubly cursed, adding a focus on the bottom line number to a focus on self.  How many times have you heard an accountant say, “You can’t argue with the numbers.”   Well of course you can, but there shouldn’t be an argument in the first place.  Not if you notice, respect and work with others.

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht

Comments are welcome.

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