success

Immediate remote opportunity for part-time CPA with growing firm.

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This is about getting the right people on the right seats on the bus a la Jim Collins. Or maybe getting new bus drivers. Or getting Jim Collins a bus. Whatever, it won’t hurt you to contact us.

McNeely & McNeely CPAs, P.L.L.C., a growing East Texas firm, is seeking immediate part time help with tax preparation. You can work remotely from anywhere, anytime using our digital systems (if you have some bars of service).

Desired qualifications include:

  • CPA licensed in Texas; being in good standing is definitely a plus;
  • Three to five years of experience preparing and reviewing individual and business returns;
  • Proficiency with ProSeries, Excel, QuickBooks (desktop and on-line), yada yada;
  • Friendly, people-first approach; (It helps to have a sense of humor around here.)
  • Comfortable with virtual office functions—business casual on top, pajamas on bottom for video meetings;
  • Organized, accurate, detail-oriented, and—shockingly, able to thrive under deadlines.

Responsibilities include:

  • Prepare 1040, 1120, 1120S, & 1065 from digital records;
  • Review 1040s prepared by others;
  • Interact with our office manager and clients to get information and answers;
  • Tax research;
  • Work with the IRS to resolve client tax issues; able to multi-task while listening to “set-your-teeth-on-edge” hold music for hours.

Compensation:

  • The standard “pay commensurate” line is applicable, but not helpful to a first glance. Since this is per diem work the range is $30 to $50 per hour—depending, and so forth and so on.

Opportunity:

We are a Father / Son firm with tax, virtual back-office accounting, and consulting clients. Using technology, we serve a variety of clients at different locations – all from the East Texas Woods. (Yes, we have Internet – Fiber Optic, even.) With the Senior partner having long since lost sight of retirement age in the rear-view mirror, there is an opportunity for the right person to grow his or her position with the firm.

We have crafted a contrarian bean-counting firm culture – where family comes first and work-life balance is a thing, not a slogan.

If interested, please send a resume’ and three references that are not your Mom to our office manager, Cathy Jones at cathy.jones@mcneelyandmcneely.com

We are an equal opportunity employer.

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So Your Culture is Hospitable to Innovation? Here’s One Simple Test to Be Sure.

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“Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be.” – John Wooden

Before his deforming encounter with acid, Batman’s Joker (the Jack Nicholson flavor) was preening in front of the mirror and his girlfriend (the Jerry Hall version) says, “You look fine.” He turns, raises an already famously arched eyebrow and says, “I didn’t ask.”

This honest approach would serve many organizations who claim to have a culture that supports innovation, but really don’t. They ask, but don’t change anything. This is frustrating and discouraging to those souls who can’t help themselves and must look for new, fresh ways to grow. And, failure to innovate may lead to a protracted organizational illness (see John Wooden).

There are many moving parts to a creativity engine such as: championing leaders, outside the box listeners, seed time and money, obstacle steamroller, and bureaucracy flattener. These and other parts should be recognized and measured.

But there is one simple test you and I can use to see if we truly are working to bring positive change.

List below the last five intelligent failures you have celebrated.

  1. __________________________________________________
  2. __________________________________________________
  3. __________________________________________________
  4. __________________________________________________
  5. __________________________________________________

Trouble completing the test? Then your organization is probably stuck in some important and potentially disastrous ways.

Here are a few quotes to inspire us to get on with the failures so we can succeed.

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” – Robert F. Kennedy

“Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be.” – John Wooden

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing. Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” – Henry Ford

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill

 

 

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It is Difficult to Scan the Horizon When Examining a Mole’s Rear

When should we have our head in a tiny mammal’s tunnel and when should we float in the clouds in a small basket suspended from a potential fireball?

I’ve noticed this interesting phenomenon. Succeeding generations of leaders, managers, and volunteer boards seem impelled to make a mark by undoing previous work, adding layers of bureaucracy, or drilling down to examine sub-atomic particles. (To understand “making a mark,” see Wikipedia about our now deceased and sorely missed poodler, I mean, poodle, Mr. Bigelsworth.) There might be a time for such (although developing a form that is always approved without thought and fed to the file’s gaping maw is never attractive to my way of thinking.)

The trick, to me, is perspective. It is difficult to get a bird’s eye view of the horizon when examining a mole’s rear. Conversely, one cannot pull dangerous weeds out of the garden from a hot air balloon—even with a Ronco Inspector Gadget arm.

When should we have our head in a tiny mammal’s tunnel and when should we float in the clouds in a small basket suspended from a potential fireball? (It is not on my bucket list to travel with a bag of gas and a lit flame. My compliments to those who do.) Tough question. One thing for sure—we should never get stuck just doing one or the other.

Perhaps we should ask ourselves if our probing or drifting will make a contribution to improving organizational performance or if it is window dressing. The benefits should outweigh the costs. In the accounting world, the concept of materiality takes into account context and flirts with gushy notions like relativity. (Not the Einstein version, the beancounter version.)

This is the struggle of the ages for the finicky “detailist.” It means there is no set rule. It means $1,000 could be material and $1,000,000 could be immaterial – depending on context. (Make no mistake, I love me some good finicky detailists all the livelong day. Please don’t eyeball it on structural engineering or wing it on airplane design – get it? Wing it…)

Anyway, what is wanted is a bit of judgment. An Accounts Payable manager who worked on my team years ago had a small paper taped to her giant, alien-head shaped monitor. It said, “Will it matter in 10,000 years?” If the context is I forgot to pay a bill and got a late charge the answer is always “No!”

For us how about: Will my mark—whatever it is—make a measurable, positive difference to all concerned? Is it material—meaning the benefit is greater than the cost? If yes, proceed. If no, maybe dial it back and rethink.

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Is a Clean Desk a Key to a Messy, Creative Mindset?

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I lived most of my life with stacks of paper on my desk, which I think is wood, and piles of manila folders on my floor, which I believe has a rug somewhere.

Create a peaceful space to be completely present, engaged, and focused on whatever you are doing.

I used to boast I knew where everything was or that for a creative person to clean and organize would be like cutting Samson’s hair.

Not true now. Maybe never was.

Perhaps it is a blessing of the busy-ness of growth or the curse of aging, but I found myself wasting more time looking for stuff.

Worse, work-life felt like Steve Martin being jolted awake by John Candy driving on the wrong side of the road careening toward two semis and cackling like a denizen from hell. “You’re going the wrong way! You’re going to kill someone! Those aren’t pillows.” [···]

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How Do You Discover Why You Are On This Planet?

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Winston Churchill said there is a great purpose and design being worked out here below.

Too many end up where they are by accident—not by purpose and design.

The Bible shows God’s ultimate plan is to have sons and daughters in His family. That is humanity’s greatest destiny and seeking it should inform our every thought and action. Should that belief impact our chosen vocation? [···]

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Unleashing Diverse Talent while Working in Glorious Harmony: Key Elements

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In the hopes of inspiring further study of a complex topic, here are some keys to engaging and motivating creative people to produce their best work—in unity:

  1. See the future. Build a grand vision and work tirelessly until it is shared.
  2. Get bold. Set crazy-hard-to-reach goals and allow for groundbreaking initiatives.
  3. Paint targets. Negotiate and agree on outcomes and how to measure results.
  4. Share the wealth. Construct and publicize reward systems (it’s not always money) that are based on personal accountability and team success.
  5. Be Radar O’Reilly. Embrace the role of supplying resources and being a resource-on-call.
  6. Party on, Wayne! Celebrate the freedom to fail and try again. If people aren’t making mistakes they’re not trying hard enough.
  7. Sit on the bench. Let the players play the game, but capitalize on the occasional teachable moment by coaching.

 

Learning to lead effectively is a lifelong commitment. I hope this helps you want to learn and practice more.

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Why Small Businesses Succeed: “Know Thy Costs.”

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Heard the joke about the owner who says he loses ten cents on every sale? “How do you stay in business?” he is asked. “Volume.”

All costs are the result of a decision. Small businesses succeed because they give proper focus to knowing and managing costs.

Years ago I worked for a company whose owner, Don, was quite wealthy. I admired Don’s stable of exotic cars and enjoyed my first ride in a new Rolls Royce—his. How did this journey from rags to riches start? Don produced and sold unique, but simple metal artwork out of his garage. His distinctive gift was the ability to create artwork that could be mass-produced with a consistent gross profit margin. [···]

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What Might Have Been…

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One vital key to a meaningful life well-lived is to seize, wrestle with, and squeeze the life out of every day for one purpose: to create a better future.
It struck me that I was watching what might have been if things turned out the way I imagined then.

I had a crazy dream last night. I remember it, well, in fragments. My dreams are usually unremembered in the morning. This one has bits that are clear, I reach for the next connecting piece and it alludes me—like grasping for a wisp of cloud. The result is a layout for a short film with storyboards missing, but enough reclaimed to name a theme.

It was long ago and it was now. I was with family now and friends from then—people I used to go to church with and close friends from college. We were all together in a way that is impossible because of our life choices and the events that have shaped and separated us.

It struck me that I was watching what might have been if things turned out the way I imagined then.

There are a couple of lessons we can remember.

First, it is pointless, impractical, and impossible to re-create the past. Foot on the gas, transmission in “D,” eyes glued to the rearview mirror is a recipe for a very short ride. And you will not be aware of the upset and confusion caused until the crash.

Secondly, one vital key to a meaningful life well-lived is to seize, wrestle with, and squeeze the life out of every day for one purpose: to create a better future—for ourselves, those we impact and influence, and generations beyond.

There is a favorite scripture that headlines my personal goal statements:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

And lean not on your own understanding

In all your ways acknowledge Him

And He shall direct your paths. –Proverbs 3:5

The point is not mindless, effortless waiting for a supernatural sign. The point is partnership and the confident assurance that striving righteously will lead to more wise choices than poor ones. (We are, after all, human.)

What might have been… is unimportant. The future you and I create today is everything.

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Are All of These Created Equal?

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As the pop culture icon and celebrated intellectual Madonna is to have said, “Everyone should be entitled to my opinion.”

Many blogs should include a tobacco-like warning: This article looks appealing, but its contents may damage your brain.

Opinions have always been popular, but the Internet Age has catapulted them into rarified public air historically reserved for the famous. Today there is a bull market for Opinions with plenty of buyers and sellers; trading is brisk.

Social media provides an egalitarian platform. Career academicians with multiple terminal degrees and people who were held back in the third grade 12 times and get most of their world news from the National Enquirer get the same invitation—share.

Surely freedom of speech is precious and should be guarded with vigilance. But are all opinions created equal? What if we disagree? The problem is not that we have opinions and want to share them—the problem is the trading value we expect and give.

Access to simple, slick packaging is both boon and bane. It has never been easier to dress up a pig in a fine suit of clothes, brush his hair, whiten his teeth, give him a breath mint, and parade him in front of the whole world like a gentleman dandy. Even the neophyte computer user can produce and publish stylish, image-rich, attractive content that may be absolute bunk.

Many blogs should include a tobacco-like warning: This article looks appealing, but its contents may damage your brain.

It is becoming harder to pick out the expert opinion that comes from someone who has made a career of studying the subject at hand, like a meteorologist. We rightly tend to give their opinions more credence than, say, Grandpa’s bunion pain predicting a tsunami. The dilemma with finding an expert opinion is the surety of finding another one that is 180 degrees diametrically opposite. Sorting out the truth is tricky.

Personal opinions about taste, on the other hand, are never wrong. “I like my steaks medium” becomes problematic only we try to force our personal opinions on others. We should publicize our personal opinions with the understanding that being heard is fair coin for the exchange. We should read personal opinions realizing there is no guarantee they came from a sane person.

Opinions become important when they influence our personal choices. When the issues are complex we tend to get the data we use to draw conclusions from sources we trust. But we have information overload, ambiguity, and conflict.

When studying a matter we should exercise due diligence and remember that all opinions—even our own—are not created equal. Don’t let easy access to information dilute disciplined research.

As the wise sage Ben Franklin wrote:

For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged, by better information or fuller consideration, to change opinions, even on important subjects, which I once thought right but found to be otherwise.

But then that’s just his opinion. What’s yours?

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Death of a Level-Five Leader

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The world is largely unaware that it lost an important leader this week. 

 

L. Leroy Neff ended his 90-year race as he deserved—with dignity and surrounded by his devoted children, Larry, Don, and Carol.

I am privileged to know the Neff family because I married into it—sort of. Larry’s wife, Linda, and my wife, Mary, are sisters.

To tell the inspiring tale of Leroy and his wife of over 60 years, Maxine, would take a book. So he wrote an autobiography for his family, which I read with great interest. It is a classic American story of modest beginnings in Oregon, military service, performing as a classically trained cellist, and a life changing call to serve Jesus Christ.

That call led Leroy and Maxine to Southern California where they started a life of service on something less than a shoestring. It wasn’t long before Leroy was ordained a minister and promoted to a series of expanding leadership positions in a fast-growing church organization.

His responsibilities, which ranged from Church Pastor to Treasurer of a worldwide work, took Leroy and Maxine around the globe—several times. They loved to travel almost as much as they loved their family. Leroy was a successful and admired leader.

Why? Was it his flamboyant, charismatic personality? No, Leroy was a quiet leader although he possessed the most beautiful, deep, resonant, and unmistakable speaking voice.  Was it that he was a super-genius, flitting from project to project like a bee on crack? No, Leroy was highly intelligent, but admittedly a plodder who moved in a purposeful straight line until the job was done.

Why? There were, at least, three qualities of character that powered Leroy to continually succeed while many around him blasted off and flamed out.

  1. His integrity, anchored to deep religious convictions, was unimpeachable.
  2. He was utterly faithful, enjoying promotions and suffering setbacks with equanimity.
  3. He was a humble man—period.

 

I had the opportunity to spend quite a bit of time with Mr. Neff after they retired to East Texas and especially after Maxine died some years ago and the lonely times began. Mary and I will miss the great family gatherings at Thanksgiving.

My Dad, Melton, and I will also miss our lunches with him. Just three weeks ago Mary, Carol–then his caregiver, and I shared lunch with Mr. Neff in his home. Although frail, his memory was sharp, his mind was clear, and he still managed a wry riposte to my good-natured teases.

When Lester Leroy Neff died late Tuesday night, the world lost a legitimate level five leader. It was a sad, sad day—the end of an era. Yet, when Christ returns, it will be the beginning of another one; a glorious era for an honest, faithful, humble saint.

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