What I’m telling my two daughters about the economy

Kathi and I have two daughters.  Like all parents we are very proud of them.  Kaitlin graduated from Lewis & Clark College last year and Kristen is a senior at UCLA.  At last year’s graduation, I had the opportunity to sit down with them and talk about life after college.  I thought it would be important for them to know what they faced, why, and what the future would hold for them.  Many graduates are having a hard time finding jobs in their fields.  You probably know some of them.  Not a surprise given the slowness of the recovery from …

Post a comment


Combating the three signs

As part of our assignment for attending the Mentor Plus® Consulting Accountants’ RoundTable (CART) meeting last month, Craig Underhill and I read Patrick Lencioni’s book The Three Signs of a Miserable Job. The book, like all Lencioni books, does a great job of using a business fable to make a point. According to Lencioni, the three signs are : “Anonymity: People need to be understood and appreciated by someone in a position of authority; Irrelevance: Everyone needs to know their job matters to someone; Immeasurement: Employees need to be able to gauge their progress and level of contribution …

Comments (1)


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 …

Post a comment


Are You In the Hunt?

Hunting for success

Why is it that young pups believe the next big customer lies just around the corner?  What’s not to love about this optimism?  For in it exists the creative drive often needed to reach people. 

I just read a report that said social media had no impact on retail sales.  Does this mean we should all abandon SM?  Of course not.  SM is still very young and there is a lot to be learned.  I would argue that SM is a unique platform for connecting with people.  More importantly, it is …

Comments (1)


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.

Post a comment


Positive or Negative

Growing up as a kid my family referred to me as “Mr. Neg”.  I didn’t see the glass as half-full but really questioned whether the glass would be there for future use.  Boy, what a joy it was to hang out with me.  Many years have passed since then and I have gained a greater appreciation of how my perspective impacts those around me. 

Now you might be thinking, “Gee Craig, what a revelation. What took you so long?”  and I respond yep, you’re right!  Recognizing your short comings is one …

Post a comment


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 …

Post a comment


The Ghost Network: Connecting across generations

My Danish ancestors are apparently restless once again. Recently, in another close encounter of the ghost kind, I received a message on Facebook from a “stranger”.  As I read the young woman’s note, I felt as though a spectral hand had just reached out and touched me on the shoulder.  Her question was simple — was I related to the Henry and Maria Hollenstein who had lived near Salinas, California in the early 1900’s? 

After noticing that the surname of the “stranger” was the same as that of Maria Bonde Hollenstein’s brother-in-law,  I responded that, yes, I was their great-great …

Post a comment


Growth Can be a Bad Thing

Growing your business is what you’re supposed to do, right?  Talk to any business leader or member of academia — they will tell you that without growth you will eventually die.  Sure, if your business never grew and your expenses continued to rise you would eventually lose money.  But what about right NOW?

With the economy starting to move forward, most companies are happy to see any sign of growth.  But how do we define growth?  Typically we look at sales year over year.  …

Post a comment


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 …

Comments (1)