What drives you?

We are confronted with a myriad of choices all day, every day. Ranging from what time to set the alarm, to how to spend our evenings, to which organizations we support, every decision no matter how big or how small, has an impact on our life. Our most limited resource is time. Choosing to be involved with one cause means that we have less time to support another one. Taking on a particular project means that another project must be postponed or eliminated. Getting up earlier means that we should set an early bedtime or pay the price the next day.

When it comes to priorities, sometimes …

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Accountants and Improv

While we’re certain you don’t want an  accountant who improvises with your numbers, we are positive our team gained a new perspective on communication from the Improvisation exercise we tried at our firm retreat on Monday. 

The theme of our retreat was communication and the exercise came from The Improv Handbook  by Tom Salinsky and Deborah Frances-White.The idea was to  put one of the core concepts of Improvisation (the idea of “yes, and…”)  to the test using three different simulated conversations. We matched everyone in the room with a teammate and instructed each pair to plan an imaginary trip, event, or …

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If your brain worked like Microsoft Excel

Spreadsheets are a wonderful thing.

They have functions and formulas and fonts.  They offer symmetry and order – all of the things that matter to accountants. When we’re feeling creative, we can apply conditional formatting to any spreadsheet cells that deserve a little extra color. We can auto-filter our way through a massive list of details to find only the pertinent information. We can sort a list of values so  the largest dollar amounts are at the top. We can combine strings of text to make other strings and we can turn data into tables.

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Guiding people to make good decisions

There’s a wonderful book called Nudge by Richard H. Thaler and  Cass R. Sunstein. It is full of interesting tidbits that involve getting people to make choices that are good for them. Rather than using punitive measures or trying to motivate people to do things that benefit them, the authors talk about making simple changes that can have a big impact. They use examples of arranging food in the cafeteria line so that the healthy foods get chosen first, setting  up enrollment programs, and even organ  donor programs at the DMV.

How it works.
Recently I found a great …

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Changing behavior

At least once a month, I make the drive from Napa to Modesto on Highway 12. It’s a long drive, especially when I start out early in the morning without ample caffeine. As most locals are aware, the road is mostly two-lane highway through fields so the drive can quickly become monotonous. It is easy to lose sight of the speed limit during some of the long stretches. I’m not intending to break the law by exceeding the speed limit, sometimes I just lose focus. 

But there are a couple of stretches on the road where I pay extra attention to my driving speed.

It has to do …

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The devil is in the details.

The details matter.  Nuances make a difference.  Ask any winemaker in the middle of harvest if another day on the vine can really have that much impact on the taste of their wine. (I advise you to be out of striking distance if you ask that question now, when they are wrestling with that very issue.)

Millions of tiny details are the reason one bottle of wine scores 92 points and another scores 89.  If the world was simpler, our choices would be  black or white, on or off, true or false, and there would be no need to have 51 pages on Wikipedia devoted to …

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Language: dividing or uniting?

Language is a powerful tool. When people speak a common language they feel part of a shared experience.  Think about the way you order a soft drink. In the South it’s called a “Coke”, in New England you hear “Pop” or “Soda” . Out here, folks  just go for a “non fat espresso latte ” instead.  But when someone steps up to the counter to place an order you can generally tell where they are from. By having knowledge of the vernacular, you are united with others who use the same language. When you don’t have the right words, you feel …

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Clear communication.

 I was making plans for Father’s Day and decided a trip to the Napa Valley Museum for my history-loving husband might be fun (if combined with a wine tasting or two).  I stopped by there to see when they are open and found this stenciled on the door :  “Open Wednesday- Monday, 10:00-5:00”. 

It’s a simple enough statement. But it wasn’t clear.

At first, I was disappointed. It seemed they had a limited schedule.  But after a second, I realized they were open all week – every day but Tuesday. 

Who decided to list their open days in this fashion? And why was it hard for me to translate …

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Pondering why

We had our firm retreat last month. As part of our team outing (you don’t want to hear about the results of the marshmallow challenge) we spent some time talking about the reasons behind the jobs we do and the meaning behind the work  we produce. 

We came up with 4 primary tenets: People Matter (hence our tagline), We support our community, We like what we do (even on April 14th), and We fulfill dreams. 

We were inspired by training we received from www.mentorplus.com and a video on TED by Simon Sinek. Our firm has already been talking about our …

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About the Jump Start Class

See what Kathy Bourassa has to say about our Jump Start Training class, which was offered in conjunction with the Napa Valley Vintners and Silicon Valley Bank.

Watch the video : Jump Start

The next class begins June 25th.

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