Three Tips That Can Help You in an Unexpected Way

Blogger: Lixia Cora Chen

Some commonly asked questions to guest speakers on professional panels are:

  • What did you do right to be where you are right now?
  • What tips would you like to give to the audience?

Here are three tips that I learned from successful speakers from dozens of events and my own experience, which helped me in an unexpected way. At first, they may feel like actions but, over time, they can then become habits. Eventually they will build your character.

  1. Bring a notebook with you

It seems to be an old-fashioned and out-of-date habit to take notes on a paper-made notebook instead of your mobile phone, iPad or laptop. There are three reasons that I prefer paper-made notebooks over digital gadgets. The first reason is that taking notes on the notebook will keep you concentrated. Page-made notebooks will not pop up with a new message or notification from all kinds of apps to distract you from the lecturer or the speaker. Secondly, it shows you are an organized, well-prepared and diligent listener.

When you are in a seminar or interview, taking out a decent notebook and a pen looks much better than writing on a random scrap of paper or napkin. It also looks way better than typing on your phone because, even if you are taking notes, the speaker and others around you will assume you aren’t. Thirdly, it shows respect for the speaker or the people you are meeting with.

One thing I have to admit is that it is much easier to find the notes on digital gadgets. So, my suggestion is to organize and summarize your notes on your notebook and transfer them on to your computer or to the cloud on a daily or weekly basis. It is a good way to review your notes and store them for future use.

  1. Wish out loud

The first time I heard this phrase was from a presentation by Lisa Ong. She is the National Talent Management Director of PwC and was recently honored with the 2017 Minority Business Leader award. Her name on Instagram is @Wishingoutloud.

She tells her friends and coworkers what her dream is or what she wants to do in the future. She explains how it will make her dream come true more easily than keeping it to herself. For example, if you want to work overseas for some time and you express your wish to a coworker, you never know what may happen. One year later, that coworker may find out about an overseas project in the company. Guess whose name would pop up in the mind of that coworker?

I immediately realized that was the first time I heard the phrase, and I have already started practicing it in my own life. My friends recently asked me how did I found my current apartment with a good location and relatively low rent. I answered, “I didn’t find the apartment; the apartment found me.”

Before I started to look for a new place to live, I told my friends when I planned to move, my ideal location and the acceptable rent range that I could afford. Several days later, one friend came to me on WeChat and told me about the place where I currently live. That was also how Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes started their adventure together: telling a mutual friend that they were looking for a roommate.

  1. Greet people properly

Greet people every day. Instead of just saying “how are you doing?” “I’m good,” and “see you soon,” you can always say “I’m good. I just finished the Accounting Communication class project. Now I’m looking for an audit internship for summer.”

The formula is “I’m good + what I did + what I’m doing + what I am going to do”

When you share information about yourself, people feel they are being trusted. When you share in specific details, people feel that they know you better and can relate to you.

I hope that these three tips can help you as they have helped me.

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What is this “leadership” skill businesses always ask for?

Blogger: Caleb Braughton

We’ve all seen it: a job posting where the desired skills section has a long list of attributes the business wants from candidates. Amongst that list, “leadership” is so often one of the first two or three to be listed. Most every company is looking for leaders to help their business excel, but what exactly are companies asking for when they ask for “leadership skills”?

There are multiple ways one can be a leader, and I find that Merriam Webster’s dictionary has three key definitions of “lead” that encompass the qualities desired by companies in their prospective employees. These definitions are as follows: “to direct on a course or in a direction,” “to direct the operations, activity, or performance of,” and “to have charge of.” I feel these three definitions create a sort of trifecta of what companies are looking for in a leader. Each one of the definitions above embodies distinct characteristics of a leader: guiding, directing and owning.

 

“To direct on a course or in a direction”

To lead is to guide. To lead is to show another the way to go. This definition equates leadership to being more of an advisor or mentor as opposed to being a hierarchy level above another. This aspect of leadership is important because it denotes the fact that being a leader does not require one to be officially designated as above another in some way. Being the guiding hand that aids another in finding their way is an integral part of leadership and is a highly valued characteristic in job candidates.

This is also the easiest piece of leadership to get experience in throughout one’s life. The action of guiding another can be involved in any number of one’s activities such as in a student chapter, a sports team, an activity club, a teaching assistant role, a peer mentoring role, and any other number of officially designated roles or extracurricular clubs. Mentoring another person does not require being above that other person or being an expert on the topic. Use your experiences to help others on their way, whatever that way may be. Be a guide. Be a leader.

 

“To direct the operations, activity, or performance of”

To lead is to direct. To lead is to instruct others in where they should be and what their tasks are. This definition is the more traditional idea of what leadership is: being a commander. Unlike the previous part of leadership where the only restriction is one’s willingness to lend a hand, this aspect of leadership carries with it the implication of being in a leadership role that grants one the power to direct others. Being able to successfully order any number of other people requires a multitude of skills learned through experience, such as planning, patience, levelheadedness, micromanaging, and macromanaging.

Companies value a job candidate with directing leadership experience because it shows that the individual has had the opportunity to learn how to plan ahead and macromanage something at the highest levels as well as micromanage and instruct others in the lowest execution levels. Join clubs, groups, or student chapters. Learn the ins and outs of the group then put yourself out there and volunteer yourself for directing roles. Apply for student worker, teaching assistant, supplemental instruction (SI), peer mentoring, or tutoring positions. Be a director. Be a leader.

 

“To have charge of”

To lead is to own. To lead is to take charge of something, for better or for worse. The responsibilities and ownership of a leadership role come alongside the powers given. “To have charge of” is focused on the aspect of leadership involved in taking responsibility for the success of a project, team, process, or whatever else. This also means that one takes responsibility for the failure of that project, team, or process.

Companies value a candidate who has shown themselves to be able to take a leadership role and make the responsibilities “theirs.” Companies value a candidate who puts in the effort to ensure that whatever they had leadership over exceled in meeting its desired goals. A leader needs to be able to show themselves capable of taking the actions necessary for their role. Much the same as the directing piece of leadership, the ownership piece of leadership generally requires official designation of a leadership role (be that role a permanent position or a temporary role for a singular event).

My suggestions for getting experience as an owning leader is just the same as a directing leader: join groups or apply for school positions that involve helping others. Put in the effort to move up into leadership roles. Be an owner. Be a leader.

 

To conclude, “leadership skills” cover different experiences: guiding, directing and owning. Taking charge can involve using your experiences to help guide another, directing individuals to complete tasks and meet a goal, or owning the responsibilities involved in a leadership role by doing all you can to ensure the goal is met. Companies are looking for those who have taken the opportunities around them to be a leader, and it’s up to you to seize those opportunities. It’s not as daunting as it seems so join a club, find a student chapter that aligns with your career goals, or apply to be an official helper somewhere on campus. Be a guide. Be a director. Be an owner. Be a leader.

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Ways to Get Involved on Campus and Boost Your Business Resume


What do the organizations at college offer? Why should you join an organization? Are these organizations really helpful?

Professional student organizations can be a major part of a college student, especially a freshman, who has just started college and is finding new ways to adapt to the college culture and transition into a professional individual. Some different types of organizations that come to mind are: professional and related to your major, volunteer-based, sports, fun, social or cultural.

What these organizations aim to offer and what can be gained from them if one seriously devotes time and becomes an essential part of the organization are: hands on experience and real life exposure, strong leadership skills, effective communication and team-working skills, volunteering opportunities, influential contacts, responsibility and independence, and opportunities to participate in professional competitions and conferences as part of member benefits.

Professional international associations are a must for every business major. DECA and Enactus are good examples of these. DECA is an international association that conducts state and national level conferences (competitions) and gives its chapter members the opportunity to enact a professional situation in a real-world setting.

Enactus is another international organization that conducts regional and national competitions where members demonstrate entrepreneurial skills and find success in a project that aims to help the society in collaboration with business leaders and companies. Such organizations bring out the entrepreneurial component in students and teach them the joys of serving their community while managing a professional project at the same time.

I am a part of both DECA and Enactus. DECA has given me the opportunity to judge high school students in mock DECA Day to improve their performance at the actual conference. I am currently working on a project for Enactus at my college that helps special needs students get employed. Other organizations that host such competitions are BPA and Phi Beta Lambda.

Volunteer organizations are also the other “must-be-a-part-of” for every college student in general. Volunteer organizations like Circle K International, Infinity Lions Club, Rotary Club and Pratham offer not only volunteering hours, but also teach the joys of serving the community. It raises a sense of responsibility that makes us a better person and a responsible citizen who knows one’s surroundings. These organizations are also based on a very meaningful cause.

I am also part of the organization called Pratham. Pratham is an NGO that raises funds to help under privileged children in India with their education. What could be more satisfying than educating someone and making them independent!?

As an accounting major, I am a part of Undergraduate Accounting Club (UAC). UAC is a very good accounting club at my college. We also have the Accounting Breakfast Club at my college where accounting majors attend a breakfast meeting with various accounting firms that helps them build contacts and know how actual accounting firms work. For accounting majors, the Beta Alpha Psi is also a very essential society as it is the national accounting honors society.

Other accounting organizations are NABA, ALPFA, Ascend and Accounting Leadership Association. All of these organize professional networking events and help members gain experience in accounting and build important contacts.

VITA is a program that trains volunteers to aid low income citizens with tax filing issues. Organizations such as Toastmasters transition a person from a shy speaker to a comfortable orator. Other good organizations to join would depend on the interest of the student. There are several sports, cultural, and fraternities/sororities like Alpha Kappa Psi that help students become responsible individuals. Students can take advantage of these organizations to work on exceptional projects, enriching service opportunities, professional programs and build helpful business contacts.

Last, but not least, accounting and business majors should consider a student membership at Texas Society of CPAs. There are endless networking opportunities and lots of ways to get involved with your local chapter. Other benefits include a chance to win one of four $250 tuition/book reimbursements, CPA exam review course discounts, a monthly e-newsletter exclusively for student and candidate members, and TSCPA publications including Today’s CPA magazine. You can find more information on joining TSCPA here.

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Insights on CPA Review Courses From Recently Certified CPAs

In this podcast from Where Accountants Go, TSCPA member Mark Goldman, CPA-San Antonio, interviews a panel of recently certified CPAs about the review courses they used to study for the exam. The panelists each used a different course, and share the pros and cons of Becker CPA Review, Wiley CPA Review, Roger CPA Review and the GLEIM Exam Prep. As an added bonus, all of the panelists share their strategies on how best to prepare for the exam as well. Check it out: https://www.whereaccountantsgo.com/lifeinaccounting/060/

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The Symphony of Accounting and Life

Student blogger: V. Aishwarya Singh

When I signed up for an accounting class in high school, I took accounting as a serious profession that only deals with money and numbers and nothing insightful. But having taken accounting for over two years in high school and starting college with Financial Accounting, I have come to realize the connections between life, accounting concepts and philosophy.

The Going Concern

This concept assumes that a company would be able to operate in the foreseeable future and not have to liquidate its assets during the present period of low sales. I connected this assumption with the truth of our lives that “life goes on” and “time does not stop for anyone.” Although we may be facing losses or challenges at the moment, we shouldn’t be demotivated to give up our hopes. The struggles we face in life are temporary, but life goes on. Just like how the company can still run and fill its obligations, we can all survive during the harsh times and make our lives happier again.

The Matching Principle

What is the matching principle? It is a principle according to which the expenses incurred must match with the revenues earned during the specific period. So what is life? Now, isn’t life just the juxtaposition of good and bad experiences? Well then, just how the expenses and revenues temporarily occur during a fiscal year, we face some delightful and some depressing situations regarding our own choices. However, we should always remember that these situations are highly necessary and create a balance in our life. Similar to how we analyze the income statement to figure out what product earns more revenue and must be increased, and what expense is increasing and should be reduced, we can relatively audit our own short comings during harsh times and strengths during successful times to evaluate a prosperous life.

The Historical Cost and Fair Market Value

The Historical Cost Principle records assets on the balance sheet at their nominal costs, while the fair market value estimates the value of property based on its present worth in the market, which could be inefficient during economy fluctuations. Just like how businesses tend to look for profits by keeping up with the new fair market value, and change the historical cost by selling their products at the right time, we tend to get lured by the new ever-changing wants and fancies and ignore our age-old possessions and assets (families). It is true that change is necessary, and we should constantly change and adapt to the new situations. However, we should always hold on and value what we already possess.

Another view would be to learn to accept new changes and ideas in life and try to have a versatile nature in dealing with new changes like the businesses gaining profits from selling at the new higher fair market value.

The Realized and Unrealized Gains and Losses

This concept pertains to the rule that gains and losses are only realized when the actual transactions occur, not when they are only estimated to result. This idea relates to the importance of facts rather than assumptions. It teaches us to be accurate and pragmatic while stating something or when evaluating something. This would enable better decision-making skills and ensure that we don’t get carried away by uncertain “ifs.” On the other hand, we must also be aware of the unrealized values and not just ignore the silent changes taking place.

The Entity Concept

Entity concept, or the personification of a business as a separate business legal entity, separates the business from its owners. The idea of judgementalism is relevant here. When businesses are kept separate from their decision makers, then why should we attach someone with their past and background while judging their capacities? The entity concept in reference to life, is to give all

individuals an equal opportunity and not discriminate someone based on their previous work.

Net Realizable Value

Nothing comes without a cost. The NRV recognizes the value of assets after a reduction of the estimated costs from its sales. This implies to our life by focusing on the essence of our success minus the struggles we went through in order to earn it. The concept also teaches us that we have to pay a certain price in order to earn a certain prize.

Accounting as a department is very crucial to a business. Accounting not only accounts for the transactions of a business, but also teaches an accountant the way to learn from life. With its honest representation policies, it builds the accountant’s personality to appreciate ethics and find meaning in the balancing of natural occurrences.

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Don’t Miss the Young Professionals Technology Conference in Houston on Nov. 29

Registration is now open for the 2017 Young Professionals Technology Conference on Nov. 29 at the Federal Reserve Bank in Houston. This daylong event, co-sponsored by TSCPA and the Houston CPA Society, is designed for young CPAs 40 and under, CPA candidates and accounting students. The conference will feature keynote speaker Donny Shimamoto, CPA, CITP, CGMA, past chair of the AICPA IMTA Executive Committee, and sessions on technology, cybersecurity, social media and much more. You don’t want to miss it!

 

View the full agenda and registration details

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Why Accounting?

V. Aishwarya Singh

A skilled accountant per fiscal year, keeps all frauds and losses away!

Our economy is constantly changing. Research and technological advancements have opened up thousands of luring opportunities for employment: there are new luxuries in the market every day; there are new fields of engineering, medicine, and bio chemistry widening new possibilities for young newly graduated students; there are plans to go to Mars; and there are ideas as crazy as being over ruled by robots! Now, in the midst of all this sci-fi utopia, why would a person want to be an accountant? With the same stereotypical age-old work that’s been done for centuries? Well, among the several reasons, the thrill of accounting, the everlasting demand, the ease of changing work place, and the importance given to an accountant is why.

The thrill of accounting

Ever ask an accountant how their typical day passes, and the immediate and honest reply one gets is that no day is the same for an accountant? Each new sun brings with it new challenges and new accounting balances. The chill an accountant feels when the credits don’t equal debits, or the thrill of closing the trial balance with an accuracy to the last decimal is unparalleled to any other profession.

The responsibilities of an accountant are not just limited to his/her desk and computer, but rather for the company’s proper financial regulation; tax payments; accurate, reliable, and faithful representation of financial records; and auditing and advising how to improve profits. An accountant is seen as a highly responsible and ethical professional because he/she is the first one to question if a fraud is detected.

The everlasting demand

During recessions, when the whole economy faces unemployment, the companies are tempted to lay off employees, however, the company would certainly want to increase their financial controls in order to improve their financial situation. This would lead to the employment of more accountants because the company ‘needs’ someone to bring back their financial position to a stable level that operates efficiently.

Not only can accountants excel in their positions, but also advance in several other certifications that add value to their personal brand, and enable them to take up senior positions globally. Certifications and memberships from AICPA, CGMA, and ACCA recognize the expertise and boost the accountant’s professional value.

Accounting is one field that would persist forever, until of course accountants get replaced by robots. In which case the demand would decline, but still won’t perish because of the fact that accountancy is a skill. No matter how advanced the technology gets, there will always be the need of an accountant, at the least, to program and teach necessary skills to the robots.

The ease of changing work place

Yes, it is true that accountants spend a majority of their time commuting to their client’s place, but it is also true that accountants have the liberty to choose the industry they want to work for. They enjoy a leeway in choosing whether to work at a for or not-for profit company, at a restaurant, major league team, fashion, or technology industry.

Be whatever the industry, every industry ‘needs’ a financial division with at least one accountant, giving accountants a privilege over their other major counterparts who are limited to one specialized industry. Furthermore, accounting, being the language of business, makes it easier for the accountant to understand the company processes through financial reports and learn what decisions should be taken and how financial risks could be mitigated, giving the accountant better chances of entrepreneurial success while changing jobs.

Importance given to an accountant

An accountant is always portrayed as a very respectable, ethical, clever, and responsible professional. The reason being that an accountant carries the load of honest financial representation on his/her shoulders. Money, being the backbone of any business, needs proper controls and management which are fulfilled by the accountant, making an accountant one of the most important people in a company.

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