Sunday, September 27, 2009

Led to Gold

I can be pretty good at what I do and currently I am unemployed. The good thing is that it is the third time so I have experience.

However, many things have changed since the last time. Now a possible question during an interview, is, “Do you have any experience working in a matrix organization? Also, rather than mailing in resumes with targeted cover letters, you end up filling out a questionnaire and submitting your resume into a company’s computer system, probably never to be evaluated by human eyes, but eliminated based on one of your answers. Interestingly, many companies then continually send you e-mails about other similar job openings.

What’s also different is the growth of an industry targeting the unemployed. Job search sites, resume evaluation companies, coaches, and job fairs are examples. I have interacted with a number of them and the greatest benefit that I have received was at a free seminar that John Telep ( conducted.

It wasn’t the good advice or the fact that he answered every question with great thought and care. The benefit is a book he recommended to the attendees, which included entry-level individuals to the most experienced.

The very deceptive title is “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho. After reading it, I conclude that alchemists have been given a bad rap. You see we are all alchemists searching to find what will make us happy. In the introduction, Coelho explains the importance of your personal calling. “It is G-d’s blessing, it is the path that G-d chose for you here on Earth. Whenever we do something that fills us with enthusiasm, we are following our legend.”

The problem is that there are many obstacles and where you end up might not be the treasure that you originally sought. The key to success isn’t just following your heart or your head, but paying attention to what Santiago, the book’s protagonist, discovered. “[T]hat intuition is really a sudden immersion of the soul into the universal current of life, where the histories of all people are connected, and we are able to know everything, because it’s all written there.”

Friday, September 18, 2009

An Unemployed Reader: The Best Kind

Each day I go on my computer searching for potential jobs, looking for job fairs, checking my push e-mails, doing a little social networking, making some calls, and perusing the many articles with advice on how I can get a job. This is the third time in my working life that I have been out of work. It is the longest and toughest in some sense because of the current status of industry I worked in and my age. In these tough times, many have similar experiences.

What I find now is that I have more time for reading, and those of you similarly situated probably do also. I recommend that you consider reading the following three books:

The Power of Kindness: The Unexpected Benefits of Leading a Compassionate Life” by Piero Ferrucci is a gentle reminder of how kindness comes and can be given in many forms. Separate chapters are devoted to honesty, warmth, forgiveness, contact, sense of belonging, trust, mindfulness, empathy, humility, patience, generosity, respect, flexibility, memory, loyalty, gratitude, service, and joy. An example he gives is a photographer who goes to an orphanage to take pictures of the children because a fine photograph makes adoption more likely. The author, a follower of Roberto Assagioli, who developed psychosynthesis, believes "K]indness and the goodwill of many is a resource, an energy on par with oil, water, wind, nuclear, and solar energy. It would be immensely useful (this is already happening) to pay more attention to it, find ways of evoking it, and harnessing it, organize training courses for it, teach it in schools, publicize it, use it in ads, turn it into a fashion." I concur.

Emotional Resilience: Simple Truths for Dealing with the Unfinished Business of Your Past” by David Viscott provides remarkable insight into what makes us and others tick and react the way that we do. I believe, for most, reading this book will help more than going to a therapist. Two concepts, "Emotional Debt" and "Toxic Nostalgia" will provide remarkable clarity and understanding for many for the first time.
Here are two excerpts from the book: "The pleasure of life often falls to the unresolved pain of the past. This is especially true when old characterological attitudes intrude, diminishing joy, spoiling the good, and finding injury where none is intended." –and—
"Being happy comes from accepting the past and taking responsibility for your part. That acceptance allows you to view yourself as a work in progress, so your imperfections do not argue against your worth.”

Working with Emotional Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman illustrates in extraordinary detail the importance of emotional intelligence and makes a compelling case for its preeminent role in the modern and changing workplace.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Neglected and Underdeveloped Knowledge Management

It’s no surprise that CCH recently announced the release of KnowledgeConnect, a knowledge management system for accounting firms. According to CCH, KnowledgeConnect is “a central, indexed, and easy-to-search knowledge management system that will empower staff to make faster and more informed business decisions, avoid work redundancies and reduce project cycle times. KnowledgeConnect will also allow you to, quickly find the best answers for improved customer service, eliminate work redundancies by documenting special knowledge, and easily identify subject-matter experts.”

I first wrote about knowledge management and accounting firms in my August 16, 2005 WebCPA column “Do You Have a Chief Knowledge Officer?” at

Knowledge shouldn't just reside with individuals, but needs to be captured and institutionalized within the firm so that it can be accessed easily by all. I gave the following examples in the column: templates for audit engagements, checklists and established procedures for tax return preparation, a sophisticated client relationship management system, and a knowledge database on the firm's Intranet.

You don’t have to be a large regional accounting firm, a business with hundreds of employees, or buy CCH KnowledgeConnect or a similar software application to take advantage of knowledge management. It doesn’t have to cost much as long as time is spent on developing an understanding of how knowledge management can be applied and training those that will utilize it.

I speak from direct experience. With only two-full-time editors and one part-time editor (including myself) working on Practical Accountant, the quality of our editorial content was directly attributable to our ability to take advantage of knowledge management. We used push technologies to keep informed of developments, blast e-mails to pre-qualify article interviewee volunteers, and an Outlook 1,200-plus contact database searchable by subject matter. Running lists of possible coverage for each department, profiled accounting firms, innovation award winners, and what appeared in recurring sections were also maintained.

In today’s world where accounting firms and businesses of all sizes are focusing on reducing costs and improving efficiency, knowledge management is an invaluable tool. Sophisticated software can be helpful, but that’s not the key. What’s necessary for effective knowledge management to work is getting buy-in and participation.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Savvy Buyers, A Misnomer?

There is an article entitled “Savvy Buyers Use Self-Directed IRA to Buy Homes” at that really scares me.

My discomfort begins with the title which runs counter to my thinking and continues then with portions of the article that give reasons why investing in real estate via an IRA might be ill-advised. As I read the article, I also noticed many of the so-called savvy buyers had simply purchased the property so I would say the jury is still out with regard to how “savvy” they really are. The article also cited those who promote self-directed IRA as support for investment by self- directed IRAs in real estate.

I am sure holders of distressed property would welcome an influx of new “savvy” buyers to take property off their hands. I am also sure that those with self-directed IRA, especially those that went substantially down in value, will be looking for new investments they can believe in.

It’s probably because I am the former editor in chief of Practical Accountant and WebCPA columnist that this article struck such a raw nerve. Luckily, in today’s age even without that platform, I can still publicly express my viewpoint.