Friday, May 22, 2009

Texas Young CPAs Conference

We have a strong turn out at the Texas Young CPAs Conference in Houston. We have 170+ Young CPAs and CPA Candidates. Despite some technological issues, we will provide some updates on the sessions.

There has been good activity on Twitter from conference attendees.


Stay tuned for more updates.

TX Young CPAs Conference: Negotiation and Conflict Resolution - Dr. Blaine McCormick

Dr. McCormick is the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs of the Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University. He is a nationally recognized scholar on the business practices of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison. Dr. McCormick is regularly interviewed across all forms of national media on these subjects.

If you're faithful in the little things, you'll be faithful in the big things. Successfully negotiating small things, greatly improves your ability to negotiate the big things.

Dr. McCormick led the group thorough a role play simulating the negotiations for buying a house.

Reservation vs. Aspiration points:
Aspiration point is what the seller would like to sell for and what the buyer would like to buy for. Reservation point is what the seller is willing to take and what buyer is willing to pay.

In negotiations, most people focus on their reservation points. If you focus on your reservation point, you will be pulled toward the "worst case scenario." Don't have only a reservation point, you should also have an aspiration point. Justify your aspiration point.

Zone of possible agreements. There is a high probability of outcome at the midpoint between the two anchors.

Who should make the first offer in a negotiation?
Myth: You should never make the first offer.
Science: First offers often serve as anchors for the final outcomes.

Should you cross your fingers and hope that the competitor makes a dumb mistake, or should you be prepared to make a first offer?

Only open when you have prepared your offer.

How do concessions work? (The Negotiation Dance)
Extreme opening positions
Final offer
Last offer
Final last offer
Deal (Maybe)

Robert Cialdini:
"Would you be willing to chaperon a group of juvenile delinquents on a day trip to the zoo?"
17% Agreed 1st Trial
"Would you be willing to spend 2 hours per week for 2 years serving as counselors for juvenile deliquents?"
"Well, then would you be willing to chaperon a group of juvenile delinquents on a day trip to the zoo?"
50% Agreed 2nd Trial

Ben Franklin: One of the greatest entreprenuers in American History.
He helped build the first hospital in America.

After this Rev. Tennent asked Ben Franklin to help raise money for a church building.

1. Challenging proposal -- Will you help me raise money?
2. Reasonable proposal -- Will you give me the name of generous people you know?
3. Minimal proposal -- Will you give me advice?

Ben Franklin's advice:
Approach first, the people that you know will give money. Then approach the people about whom you are uncertain and show them the list of people who have already given. Finally, ask the people you know will never give to your project, because you can underestimate people.

Outrageous - Know the difference between Outrageous and Challenging
Challenging - Create three proposals

Starbucks uses bundling strategy when they ask you, "would you like some coffee cake with your coffee?"

How do I inject creativity?

Think: Here are 3 things I can say "yes" to today . . .

Look more flexible
Allow you to be an advocate
Get more agreements and higher satisfaction
Generally results in better agreements

What should happen in the last five minutes of a negotiation?

The correlation between length of colonoscopy and patient's evaluation of the procedure is not existent. There is a correlation between the maximum pain and the mean pain in the last 3 minutes.

Disney Land has the fireworks and parade at the end of the day to create a memorable experience that customers take away.

From colonoscopies to Disney Land, end on an uptick!

If you can do something nice for the other party in the last five minutes of a negotiation, it will increase satisfaction.

White Hat pattern
Extreme opening offer
Generous opening concession
More stingy second concession
Begrudging final concession

Black Hat pattern
Extreme opening offer
Small first concession
Small second concession
Mutually generous final concession

The Black Hat pattern has a higher rate of success, and it ends up on an uptick. This also results in higher satisfaction.

Conflict Resolution:
It is important to see the problem.

Two naive views of conflict:
Talking will only make things worse
Talking will always make things better

A more realisitic view of conflict: an increasing line with peaks and valleys. The valleys are temporary stalemate.

The most important thing you can do in conflict is to have a soft (i.e. not harsh) startup.

The "No Sandwich."
Think: "Yes - No - Yes"
Affirm - Refuse - Affirm
Thank for the invitation/opportunity
Decline to participate
Affirm the relationship and future invitations

TX Young CPAs Conference: Business Skills for the Workplace - David Crumbaugh

David Crumbaugh, CPA gave a presentation to the Texas Young CPAs Conference about Business Skills in the Workplace. His discussion focuses on networking skills for CPAs

You grow your business through Marketing, Sales, and Networking. Only 2 universities in the U.S. offer business networking courses.

There are four primary types of networking.
1. Social: It is important to not get overloaded to the point that you can't follow up
2. Relational-ship: This involves regular, ongoing meetings among professionals to build relationships. Accountability is important
3. High-Tech: Facebook, Linked-In, Twitter, etc. It is important to understand whether you are using this for personal or business purposes. Keep the business for business, and keep the personal personal.
4. Nspired Networking: a combination of the other three types of networking. Develop a plan of action for each type of networking.

Your firm has a marketing plan and sales goals. You should have a networking plan.

Know how to tell people who you are and what you do. A 5-step training moment.
1. Intro: Name, Company Name, Location
2. Specific product or service you provide
3. Describe product or service and what sets you apart in the market
4. How can I help you? Ask for a referral. Ask for your target market. Ask for your strategic alliance market.
5. Close: Name, Company Name, your memory hook (tag line).

The elevator speech consists of your name, your company name, and your memory hook.

Always be listening for ways that you can help others with their needs, be they accounting or other.

What to do:
Train you partner
What to avoid:
Selling. The purpose of a networking introduction is not to sell yourself. It is so they can get to know us to the point that they trust us. Once they trust you, they will refer business to you.

How to network a mixer:
It is not about collecting the most business cards.
10 Commandments:
1. Have your networking tools with you at all times. Name Badge (from your company). Have business cards, pens, business cards of your close network.
2. Set a goal for the number and type of people you want to meet. Once you meet your goal, go home
3. Act like a host, not like a guest. Greet people. Introduce people to others they want to meet that you know.
4. Listen and ask questions. Talk about yourself for a couple of seconds, then turn it over to them. Ask follow up questions. Always leave them with "how can I help you?"
5. Give a quality referral whenever possible. A lead is a name and a phone number. A referral is telling them about someone and calling that person to let them know you sent them your way.
6. Describe your product or service in 60 seconds or less.
7. Exchange business cards with the people. Give them 2 - one they can write notes on and another they can give to others. Take notes on business cards. Understand culture -- In Japan, don't write on the business card.
8. Spend 10 minutes or less with each person you meet. You are not there to build a relationship in one meeting. Relationships take time -- this is the first introduction.
9. Write comments on the back of the business cards you collect.
10. Follow up with the people you meet. You will lose clients quickly by not following up on emails, phone calls, etc. Email or handwritten card. A handwritten card will set you apart.

The magic words of networking:
"How can I help you?"

What type of networker are you?
Spinning out of control? Moving through too many networking events.
Has the blues? Cold Calling, and can't get past the gatekeeper.
Clueless? Not sure what you are doing or why.

How to become an Nspired Networker
Have a networking goal
Have a networking plan of action
Have a desire to help and be immersed in a culture of ongoing education.
Have fun and remember your networking fundamentals.

Networking happens every day, everywhere, even at funerals

TX Young CPAs Conference: Client Relations & Practice Development - Kym Anderson and Roxie Samaniego

Kym Anderson is the incoming Chair of the TSCPA, and Roxie Samaniego is the Chair of the TSCPA's Young CPAs and Emerging Professionals Committee.

Oscar Wilde
"I put all my genius into my life; I put all my talent in to my works"

Much influence comes from the "people in between" in an accounting firm. The people that talk to the clients and the people that talk to the partners.

Clients are the same as you are, they want to deal with a firm they are comfortable with.

How do you want your firm to interact with its employees and clients? Employees have the ability to impact this.

Sometimes small firms take communication for granted.

You went to college not to be a CPA, but to learn how to learn.

Focus on:
Firm direction
Working better
Client needs
Client contact
Client development
"Bringing 'em in"

You need the right kind of clients. 80/20 rule. When this happens, your good clients can get neglected. A scarcity mentality can cause you to take clients that you should not accept.

Client Development:
Know your firm and what they are looking for. This is important for both employees and employers. Understand the core values of the firm and what type of clients you want to attract. Seek input from management.

Develop rules that the firm can live with:
Cold calling
Firm comfort zone
Concentration of work and deadlines
Relationships with other firms
Firm liability for client actions
Are you alone out there?

Develop rules that You can live with:
You are unique
You never stop learning
You represent your firm and your profession
Don't do anything you wouldn't tell your mother about
Know your environment
Know your MOJO . . . and share it
Develop an inner circle
Don't be afraid of failure

Pick your Comfort Zone
Sporting events
Clubs and Associations

Roxie shared her experience of leaving a large CPA firm and starting a new practice. In her prior firm, client management and contact was left to the manager level. This abdication made it easy for these clients to move with them.

Everyone in the company is responsible for marketing. Your receptionist is the first line of contact with your clients. This position is important.

What can you do to meet people?
Get involved. Volunteer - not for profit organizations, professional organizations. The TSCPA is a great organization to network with other CPAs. It is a great opportunity to meet mentors in the profession. Sometimes, you need advice from someone that is not local. The TSCPA connects you with other CPAs throughout the state. Non-profit organizations are looking for good people, and every one needs a treasurer. Attend social events - Chamber of Commerce, client gatherings. If you are not outgoing, it can be difficult, but take a friend with you.

Roxie attributes the success of her firm to their community involvement as well as her connections with other CPAs through the TSCPA.

What is the best way to bring in business?
Do great work and your clients will market for you. Listen to your clients, listen to your prospects. Pick up on common interests.

Word of mouth referrals:
Do great work
Tell people about it
Ask for their business

When meeting prospective clients, being interested about their business is important. Find out about their business, and leave yours for the last. Don't just say "I'm a CPA." You can get pigeonholed this way. Explain what you actually do. There are a lot of people who don't understand everything that CPAs do.

TX Young CPAs Conference: Generational Dynamics - Jerry Love

Jerry Love, CPA is the CEO of the Davis Kinard accounting firm in Abeliene, Texas. He is a former Chairman of the TSCPA.

There are now four generations in the workplace.

Baby Boomer
Generation X
Generation Y

These generations each have different defining events and characteristics. The mixture of these different characteristics in the workforce can be challenging. However, the key is communication and understading of the differences between the generations.

Baby Boomers are work-a-holics. They can view Gen X and Y's desire for less work hours as laziness or not working hard. Boomers need to understand that someone can do a good job and not work 3,000 hours per year.

Tips for dealing with Baby Boomers:
Communication is the key. This requires an investment of time to understand where they are coming from.
Understand what you can get from your boss, so you can make reasonable, actionable requests for mentoring
Make a list of skills and knowledge you want to accumulate.

Before approaching the Boomer Boss for changes.
Identify what you want to be different:
Compose your thoughts
Research and document support
Identify options to implement
Prioritize the items
Rehearse what you plan to say

Identify who among management is most open minded to hear your suggestions.
You want an open dialogue, not "labor negotiations."
Begin and end your discussion with sincere acknowledgement of the things thy are doing right.

Are there policies and procedures in your firm that are only there because someone wrote them in the 50's? Sometime status quo for status quo's sake exists in today's firms. The key to changing the status quo is having an open, respectful dialogue.

We need to give positive, sincere feedback - going both directions.
Ask for what you want.
Accept each other as human beings
Learn each generation has strengths to offer
Be quick to forgive their weaknesses
Be quick to admit when we are wrong
Be patient - "Rome was not built in a day"

Little Abner expected everything to go wrong -- and his expectations were met. We need to expect things to go right.

Jerry has substantial insight, and has studied this subject extensively. He successfully transferred some of this knowledge to the group.

TX Young CPAs Conference: Technology Update Bryan Wilton

Bryan Wilton, CPA, CITP presented an update of the current technology trends and their applicability to the accounting profession.

Bryan's presentation focused on the practical application of the current hardware and software options available. Below are a few of the items discussed:

Notebook computer options:

Sony -- Generally are priced at a premium, lightweight, and reliable

Apple -- Apple has gotten into the business notebook sector. The MacBook Air is ultraportable. These days, Apple computers can run any software that a PC can. Apple computers generally are also marketed at a premium price point.

Lenovo -- Formerly IBM. These computers have good pricing and are good quality machines for business.

HP -- Very high quality graphics, generally higher failure rate, higher priced.

Dell -- Good quality and competitive pricing. They now have some ultraportable models. Dell is begining to branch out on design and offer models other black or gray notebooks. is a good source of independent reviews for notebook computers.

SAAS -- Software as a service. "Cloud Computing" provides several advantages over traditional hardware and software configurations. These strengths include adaptability, reliability, increased productivity, price, back-end integration, longevity, ecosystem. System outages used to be acceptable, but they are not acceptable any more.

Broadband access is pervasive these days. Before, this was a limiting factor for SAAS, but the limitation has gone away.

SAAS Vendors:

Microsoft CRM Online

Hosted Microsoft Exchange


SAP Business One

Online backups:

Why should you do backups online? Peace of mind, someone else is responsible, data is safe (?). The important features of online backup are around the clock support, mapped drive support, web based controls, cross platform support.

Personal online backup options:

Microsoft Skydrive offers 25gb of free storage. offers 50gb of free storage.

Questions you should ask an online storage company: How long do you keep my data? How do I get my data restored?

A few online storage companies for business include:

Amerivault, Ibackup, Mozy Pro, Backupmyinfo

MOSS is Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server. This provides substantial search functionality. MOSS is a supercharged outlook that integrates VOIP, Mobile Apps, faxing, live meeting, video conferencing.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Texas Young CPA's Conference -- Cybercrime -- E. Adrian Hawkins

The Texas Young CPA's and Emerging Professionals Conference is approaching quickly on May 22nd. There are still spots left, so sign up soon. You can earn up to 6 hours of CPE at a cost of $95 for CPAs and Candidates. That's a great value.

Based on suggestions from our conference last year, we are adding a session on Cybercrime. E. Adrian Hawkins, an FBI Special Agent, will present this session.

Mr. Hawkins entered the U.S. Air Force after graduating from the University of Dallas - Irving with a Bachelors and MBA with a concentration in Information Systems. In the military, he specialized in information technology and communications. After 4 years in the Air Force, Mr. Hawkins joined the FBI. In this role, he has conducted investigations of computer intrusions, internet fraud, and child pornography. Mr. Hawkins served as the Houston InfraGard Coordinator. This program is a partnership between the FBI and a wide range of members in the private sector which is focused on information sharing and analysis. Mr. Hawkins is currently a computer intrusion investigator for the Houston Area Cyber Crimes Task Force (HACCTF).

It seems that Mr. Hawkins has some interesting experience in this area, and I look forward to the insight that he can provide as well as the advice that he can share on how to best protect ourselves from becoming victims of cybercrime.

Register at for the conference here.
Become a fan of the conference on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Young CPA's Conference -- Negotiation and Conflict Resolution -- Dr. Blaine McCormick

Dr. Blaine McCormick is one of the featured speakers at the Young CPA and Emerging Professionals Conference. Dr. McCormick spoke at our inagural conference last year, and he was a highly rated speaker. His pragmatic message on negotiations and conflict resolution resonates with Young Professionals.

Dr. McCormick is the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs at the Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University. He is a nationally recognized scholar on the business practices of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison. Dr. McCormick is interviewed frequently across all forms of media including the New York Times, CNN, public radio, and ABC World News Tonight.

Since there was standing room only during his concurrent session last year, he is speaking this year during a general session so that no one will miss out on what Dr. McCormick has to say. 

The session will improve your negotiation skill set by teaching us about making offers, making concessions, and what should happen during the first five minutes of a negotiation. This session is designed to empower participants to be more effective negotiators and resolvers of conflict by using both practical and scientifically valid tools and techniques. You will walk away with 10 negotiation tools you can use.

As you can tell, I am excited to hear what Dr. McCormick has to say, and I look forward to seeing you there.