Posted by: LYF | December 21, 2010

Q&A – Is accounting a calling?

“I guess what I want to ask is… in your opinion, is accounting something you’re kind of “called” to? Or is it the kind of job where if you keep at it, you’ll grow into it, and hopefully flourish from there (like most jobs, I suppose).”

No, it’s not.  I think I see where you’re coming from.  The harsh truth is that you’re so new; you can’t know anything about anything.  That’s not your fault though and everyone goes through the same thing.  Let me explain.

No one is “called” to be an accountant.  Doctor? Yes.  Lawyer?  Sometimes.  Accountant?  Are you serious?  It’s really too difficult to explain what accounting is like to a non-or would-be accountant.  So “called to” really isn’t fitting here.  Predisposed, could work?  I know a lot of people who have the perfect disposition to be successful accountants.

Really, I think you’re just nervous about starting a new job because you don’t know anything.  Unfortunately, and I hate to say this, but expect to suck at your job for at least a year.  Fake it till’ you make it.  You’ll have to pretend that you know what you’re doing.

The successful new hires are the ones who can handle the stress of knowing they don’t know anything.  Those who can somehow muster up the confidence to get shit done, when they don’t know if their work makes sense.  Confidence and asking smart questions helps a lot too.  There was a three month period where I thought I was going to get fired every day because someone would find out I had no idea what I was doing.

And the work doesn’t get better either.  “You’ll probably want to quit after three months, but if you stick around.. you -probably- -might- want to stick around after six months.”  I know exactly what that manager is talking about.

Accounting work sucks, but you will get better at it and that will make it tolerable.  Doing something boring that you don’t really understand?  That’s horrible.  Doing something boring that you understand?  It still sucks, but you can deal with it.

The only real valuable thing about your first few years will be the UFE process.  You will learn so much in such a short time.  You will have to overcome ridiculous time management problems, deal with crushing stress – it will force you to learn and mature at a breakneck speed.

So why stick with it?  The people are generally good.  They’re smart and driven.  Your common misery will also draw you closer together.  You’ll learn a lot about finance and how companies work, which is extremely valuable knowledge.  And you’ll have access to a lot of cool opportunities.  Plus the money is good.  At the end of the day, it’s good cash for someone in their twenties with no real responsibilities yet.

Stick with it.  It sucks way less after the UFE.  Just make sure you know what you want to do once you get your letters.

Posted by: LYF | December 4, 2010

How to tell girls you’re an accountant

I get the same two questions from most girls I talk to – How old are you and what do you do.  Translating from girl-speak this means, “I don’t want to date a guy younger than me and what’s your value as a man.”  You have no idea how quickly the words, “I’m an accountant” can kill a conversation.  Especially in crowded bars with loud music.  Here’s how I deal.

1) Act like an-anti accountant

This is the best approach by far.  People assume accountants are introverted, socially inept, meek etc.  You have to be the complete opposite of an “accountant.”  If you succeed she will say something like “Wow! I never would have guessed that.”  That means, “Wow accountants are losers, but you’re actually cool!”  This is great because the conversation will keep going.  Best of all, you can follow her up with, “what’s the supposed to mean??” in a joking fashion.

2) Turn it into a joke

If you tell her you’re an accountant and her face goes completely blank, lean over and say one of the following.  “I know, possibly the sexiest of all finance professions.”  “I also build log cabins and save baby seals.”  “And by accountant I mean fireman.”  You’re just trying to get a laugh to keep the conversation going.

3) Say the most ridiculous profession you can think of

This avoids the question altogether.  Professions I’ve made up include, Submarine part import/exporter, professional bear wrestler, hog wrangler and my personal favorite blacksmith.

The best approach is number 1, funniest and most entertaining number 3.

Posted by: LYF | November 29, 2010

The ultimate Saturday pick-me-up

I started doing this a few weeks back.  Actually, I’m not sure.  Maybe a month, it could be more.  Before, I go on, I want to stress that everything I’m saying has to be done in a specific order.  The order is as important as the actual steps.  Mucking around with it will leave you with a sub-par experience.  Here we go.

First, get at least seven and a half hours of sleep and no more than nine.  And don’t go drinking the night before.  I’m not sure why that range of seven and a half to nine works, but based on personal experience it seems to be the sweet spot.  When you wake up make sure you have a ton of morning light.  Open all your windows and turn on all your lights.  You need to have as much light as possible.  I can’t stress this enough.  This will help you wake up much faster than usual – that is if you don’t do this already.

Follow this up with 8,000 IU’s of vitamin D.  There is a lot of debate on how much vitamin D you should be taking.  I’ve experimented with daily doses ranging from 2,000 to 8,000.  Personally, I didn’t feel anything until I crossed 5,000 IUs.  Once I got to 8,000 that was a real eye opener.  We’re talking the equivalent of a large Starbucks coffee without the post caffeine crash 5 hours later.  Make sure to have the vitamin D with breakfast.  I usually eat a 4 egg omlette with some mushrooms, red peppers and bacon.  It’s important to include a fat because Vitamin D is fat soluble.

Now go to the gym and do some high intensity interval training.  I usually do a crossfit session, which has the same effect.  You’ll want to do something like hill running, 10 sprints with a 30 second rest in between.  Or you can do a crossfit workout like Cindy (as many rounds as you can of 5 pulls, 10 push ups and 15 squats in 20min).  You want something extremely intense for a short period of time.  Don’t do anything longer than 20min.

After the workout you should be feeling pretty good.  It’ll be like you just heard a really funny joke and you’ll want to start laughing for no reason.

Here’s where you’ll take a normal adrenaline rush and turn it into an energy explosion.

Go buy a 100 gram bar of dark chocolate within the range of 70-85%.  Eat this about an hour after your workout.  And finally another 2 hours later get a small americano from Starbucks.

Here’s your day

- Wake up at 10:00am and have breakfast

- 12:00pm work out

- 1:00pm get home from the gym

- 2:00pm eat chocolate bar

- 4:00pm have americano

Quality sleep + Vitamin D + Endorphins + sugar + caffeine = AWESOMEHOLYFUCKARGGGG!

Posted by: LYF | September 24, 2010

When is the best time to look for a new job?

I finally got my designation last week.  Well I didn’t really get it, my 30 months were up and I sent in my experience requirement.  It feels nothing like passing the UFE.  It was the most anti-climactic experience ever.  My family was pretty psyched though.  Especially my bubby, who was visibly glowing after I told her.

Things are pretty comfortable right now.  My designation is locked down.  I’m working at a good firm.  And I have my own place downtown.  Nothing is awful.  But is everything awesome?  Maybe?  I guess it depends on the person.  I don’t necessarily want to leave my job – this is a crucial point to keep in mind as you continue reading – but I need to know what else is out there.  I know that I don’t know much when it comes to opportunities for newly designated CA’s.  And it worries me because I could be missing out on some really cool stuff.

I spoke to a recruiter last week – again, I don’t want to leave me job right now – to get a better idea of what’s out there.  In the nicest and most round-about way possible, she told me I had no idea what I was talking about and that I needed to do some research before she or anyone could help me.  Fair enough.  She was really cool too.  Fortunately, I like doing research and I think I’m pretty decent at it.  So for all the newly designated CA’s out there, who don’t know if they want to stay in public accounting forever, but get a little nervous when they can’t narrow down what else they want to do, this post should offer some help.  And a little head’s up, this post will be long.  If you don’t want to continue, then watch this charming video of a cat jumping into a box.

“Niche it down”

To use a phrase from Ramit, you have to “niche it down.”  This is my largest problem.  I want a “good job”, someplace downtown that hopefully allows me to travel.  Too bad that’s ridiculously vague and consequently extremely unhelpful.  After talking to enough people, the first thing I – and you if you’re in the same boat as me – should be doing is figuring out what sectors or industries you want to work in.  And to do that you need some content to get yourself informed.  Here are some good resources to start with – i.e. they won’t put you to sleep.

The New York Times – The business section is pretty good and so is their “most emailed” list.  You’ll always find something cool in the latter.  And if you have an ipod touch or iphone you can download the app too – I highly recommend this.

Inc. Magazine – Inc. targets small business owners and entrepreneurs.  This may not be helpful for those of you who want to transition to a large public company, but give it a shot.  This whole process of information gathering is akin to brainstorming, just like there’s “no bad ideas”, the more business related information you have, the better off you’ll be.  Their articles are often interesting too.

Wired Magazine – I’m a little biased here because this is my favourite magazine.  If you’re into tech related things it could point you in the direction of some cool start-ups, venture capital firms or fast growing industries.

Fast Company Magazine – Reminds me a bit of Inc., except with more of a focus on technology and design.  Again, they offer good content, reading their articles won’t feel like a chore.

Delicoius – You can use a cool trick I picked up from Charlie Hoehn.  Go to the delicious home page and play around with the tags.  For example, if I were interested in start-ups I would type www.delicious.com/tag/startups in my firefox address bar.  I like searching delicious because it’s only made up of bookmarks other people found interesting or valuable.  For a more detailed rundown of how to do this check out Charlie’s post.  I highly recommend you read and apply what he suggests.

You can also come at research gathering from the opposite end.  Focus on what you like or companies that you are passionate about.  Passionate?  If you do something actively for more than an hour a day, it means you like it.  Start googling information about that industry.  As for the companies that you’re passionate about, just think about the stuff you use on a regular basis.  Do you watch HBO compusively?  Did you download the latest Tokyo Police Club CD from the itunes store, to listen on your ipod as you create a slideshow on your mac?  You get the point.

Organize your data

I’m the kind of guy that knows a little about a lot.  And I usually find it extremely difficult to explain how I came about certain pieces of information – i.e. the origin of the “teddy” bear, the difference between a notched and peak lapel, where to shoot guns in Toronto, or the proper way to eat a mango.  That’s because information gathering isn’t a linear process.  As you go through some of the resources I’ve listed, you may come to realize that you absolutely hate all the suggestions I’ve given.  But through them you may find links to other things you find interesting.  And through those, you could end up at a completely different website that turns out to be exactly what you’re looking for.  That’s how this usually works – in a very messy fashion.

Dealing with this mess is important.  I tend to sort everything on delicious under career or jobs.  I find delicious pretty helpful, but you can sort your stuff however you want.  If anyone out there has an iphone, you’d likely benefit from using evernote.  I guess you could even sign up for email newsletters and create filters to forward them to a “jobs” folder in your email account.  The point is you need to have something.  It doesn’t matter what that something is.  Buy if you don’t, you’ll quickly find yourself overloaded with too much stuff.  Then you won’t be having very much fun, which usually leads to most people giving up on this process all together.  I know having a system may seem “obvious” and you may be tempted to skim through this paragraph, but let me say it again – make sure you have some sort of system in place, that can sort all of the information you gather, so you can find the stuff you saved later on.

Talk to people, but keep their motives in mind.

I’d recommend talking to recruiters.  They can give you a good idea about the job market as a whole.  You will have to be wary of some.  I’ve found the larger firms – Robert Half, Lannick etc – to be a little impersonal at times.  Though, you will learn something by sitting down with any recruiter.  I’m more of a “small-firm” guy so I tend to favour the smaller, more “boutique” recruiting firms.  I’ve found them to be more passionate about what they do, which translates into, “I’m not trying to make money off of you and I’d genuinely like to put you somewhere that’s a good fit.”  I guess it’s good to mention this.  Recruiters get paid by companies to help them hire people like you.  To be blunt, recruiters get paid when they find you a job, whether or not that job is a good fit.  Keep this in the back of your head, as you talk to them.  I’m not saying they’re out to screw you, but the incentives are there.  Take it for what it’s worth.

And to recap…

Again, I’m pretty cool with my job right now.  But that’s like saying, “yeah purgatory is cool because nothing awful happens.”  Yeah, well nothing awesome happens either.  I guess everyone always has the option of teaching English in a foreign country.  I’ve been thinking about this too.  Don’t know how anyone else feels, but after some research I’m leaning towards South Korea.  They have the highest salaries and pay for most of your stuff.  They’re also close to a ton of other countries I’d love to travel to.

Now there you have it.  A head’s up to all those UFE writers right now, this is what it’s like once you’ve received your designation.  A huge void, where you can basically do anything you want.  If you’re smart, be proactive and start reading as much as you can about everything now.  Find out what you like and don’t like and niche things down accordingly.  Create some way to sort everything out and repeat the process often.  What you’re left with should be what you’re passionate about.  Then it’s just a matter of tossing in your hat.  And keep in mind this takes time.

Noman writes, “I am in Pakistan..and trying to qualify as a CA.  I finished my training requirement at KPMG here..i just finished my training on 14th June.  I just wanted to know a bit more about the CA life there.”

This won’t be simple, so I may go off on a few tangents before I really answer your question.  I doubt there’s a typical “CA life”; at least there isn’t one that I am aware of.  There are so many factors to consider – size of the firm, where you live, and what type of work you’ll be doing – that it’s almost impossible to give a cookie-cutter response to your question.  Still, I’ll give it a try.

First, let me say what CA life isn’t.  It isn’t technical.  The accounting issues, tax updates, IFRS courses, webinars, and obnoxious “in-the-loop” emails that clutter my inbox are not as important as you may think.  At times they’ll help you stay current – like reading the headlines of a newspaper.  But if you want real knowledge, you’ll have to sit and read, usually for really long stretches of time, on subjects that are very boring.  Technical is foundational.  It’s a professional prerequisite – the working world assumes you know what you’re talking about.  That means you won’t be spending your days explaining the proper way to do a section 85 rollover or how to account for a non-monetary transaction.  You’ll need to know those things, but you’ll need to know them without having to think about them.  It’s similar to a UFE case.  You can’t spot an issue if your technical is weak.  But having a strong technical understanding is useless if you don’t have the skills to spot an issue/apply what you’ve learned to a real-world problem.  So CA life isn’t technical in a university kind of way, where you may be used to memorizing facts and regurgitating them on a page.

Aside from what it isn’t, be wary of people who seem too eager to describe a “typical” CA life.  I’m talking about the people who already know what they want out of the profession and the unfortunate subset of those, who’ve let other people decide for them.  These people can be tricky to deal with, only because they have bought into a single way of looking at things.  Their attitudes won’t necessarily be wrong.  They just may not be what you’re after.  And when you aren’t even sure what you want, buying into someone else’s “idea” of the way things are supposed to go can lead to problems down the road.  I know CA’s who want to leave the profession and do humanitarian work in South Africa; I wouldn’t consider that typical.  But there will always be people who want to make partner, have 2.5 kids and live in the suburbs.  It’s personal preference really.  Keep that in mind if you’re ever talking to someone who’s projecting their idea of a “CA life” on you.

The best I can do is tell you how I feel about working at an accounting firm.  For me, it’s mostly about meta level thinking.  You’ll have the files you’ve been assigned.  Then you’ll have to think about your files as you’re working on your files.  Are you using 85% zoom in excel because your manager prefers it?  Did you wait until 10am to ask your supervisor a question because she hasn’t had her coffee yet?  Would you consider asking your partner about his hockey game to get him in a good mood before bringing up an accounting issue?  Whatever you want to call “that”, that’s what takes up most of my time.

It’s not as simple as keeping other people in mind – that’s obvious.  It’s the skill of seeing past your responsibilities and up to all the factors that impact your job, whether they’re work related or not.  Then once you have those, coming up with strategies to push yourself up the corporate ladder, while turning in high quality work.

Sometimes it’s as simple as calling a client when you know they aren’t home.  Only so you can leave an email saying, “I tried calling, but I guess you were out.  Could you please send us [insert missing info here]” to act as vindication when you’re explaining to your partner why the file is still outstanding.  That’s actively thinking about how you’re finishing your file as you’re finishing it.

You’ll also rely heavily on critical thinking skills.  But these will only be valuable in situations where you’ve been presented with a problem you won’t know how to solve.  For example, my bosses value my work the most when I’ve turned in files they weren’t sure I was capable of completing.  Most juniors find this surprising; that they’ll get assigned work they won’t know how to do.  The trick is to figure out how to do it and then finish the job.  Most people jump to the latter, spinning their wheels in the process.  Over the past few months I’ve come to understand that the figuring out part is the only part.  Because once that’s done you won’t be thinking anymore.  You’ll be actualizing the problem you solved.  Here are two good examples of the problems I have to deal with.

Once I was asked to re-print a business plan template for my partner, who needed it for a client meeting the following day.  I asked him where he got it from.  He said, “The Internet.”  Immediately after that comment he decided it would be a good idea if I met with the client – who I knew nothing about – and give him the framework – located conveniently on “The Internet.”

Then things got difficult.  My partner accidentally threw out his original copy.  So now I was looking for “a document” on “The Internet.”  I still don’t know how I managed to get through that mess.  The next morning I typed a few words into Google and found the document my partner misplaced.  Then I met with the guy at 930 and listened to him talk for a while.  He didn’t really need a business plan template.  He needed someone to listen to his problems and reassure him that everything would work out.  After we wrapped up I passed him the document, shook his hand and told him to phone me if there were ever any problems.

That’s a work related problem.  The real tough problems are the non-work related problems that happen at work.

Two weeks ago I was at a client’s office working through their audit.  As I was walking home, I put my hand in my pocket to turn up my ipod, when I immediately realized I forgot my keys.  It was only 5:10 at the time.  I managed to get back to the office by 5:15 hoping someone would still be there.  Everyone had left.  The lights were off and the doors were locked.  That sucked and I quickly remembered how my landlord charged me $50 the last time he let me in when I forgot my keys.  I needed to figure out how to get my keys back, avoid paying $50 and not look stupid in front of the client.

I thought hard for a while.  I remembered a weird recurring credit in the client’s rent expense account.  And during lunch I noticed – what seemed to be – a stranger in the lunch room.  I knew she didn’t work for the company because someone said her name and it was on the employee list I was given by the CFO.  I slowly realized that the credits were payments made by a firm on the same floor that shares the client’s kitchen.  Once that clicked, I knocked on the company’s door and asked if they had a spare key.  They did.  Crisis avoided.  $50 saved.

Both of these stories, to varying degrees, are what I deal with on a daily basis.  There’s a problem.  I won’t know how to solve it right away.  I’ll buckle down and figure out what’s up.  And solve the problem in such a way that leaves everyone happy.

Most problems I deal with are a weird mix of technical knowledge, critical thinking skills and meta level analysis.  Any my job is to line up those skills with my coworkers/clients in such a way that I look awesome – even though that doesn’t always happen.

Your CA experience could be very different from mine.  But I tried to touch on the high level stuff that you’ll likely experience as you get more responsibility.  At the very least, I’m hoping you can take at least a few things away from this and apply them to wherever you end up.

Posted by: LYF | June 18, 2010

What I’ve been reading…

The Big Short – Michael Lewis

I know there was a housing crisis or something in the states?  I knew enough to have a conversation about it.  Though I couldn’t do much more than that.  Now I sort of can?  Basically the housing market collapsed because Wall Street developed a financial system so complicated that only a small handful of people completely understood it.

Long story short.  Government gives mortgages to people who can’t pay them.  Those mortgages get bundled into bonds that are sold buy banks.  Those bonds, since they include a portion of good mortgages, get AAA ratings from either Moody’s or S&P.  Meanwhile, they’re still shit.  The worst bonds get smashed together again into CDO’s, which try to diversify the risk even more.  Obviously they don’t.  Now you have too many bonds backed by loans that will become worthless.

Then a bunch of smart people say, “Hey!  These mortgages are going to default.  I’ll buy insurance on them.  That way, when everyone realizes no one can pay back 5 mortgages all at once, I’ll be straight ballin.”

Lewis tells the story from the perspective of a few people who saw this mess coming years before it actually happened.  That angle gave the story a really interesting narrative, which made understanding the more technical stuff slightly easier.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson

I saw the movie before I knew it was a book.  That’s not something I’d normally do.  I’m the guy who reads the book, then watches the movie and knows deep down that the book was better, but tries really hard not to be “that-guy.”  The guy who goes around telling everyone, “Yeah, it was good, but it’s nothing compared to the book.”  Having said that, the movie is a pretty good adaptation of the novel.

It reads a lot like Angels and Demons or The Davinci Code.  Very fast paced, small words, plot-twists etc.  It’s very entertaining and quick to read.

The Girl Who Played With Fire – Stieg Larsson

It had the same pace as the first one.  One thing I didn’t realize until halfway through was that the title could be taken literally and figuratively.  It’s clever in like an oh-I-can-see-both-ladies-in-that-picture sort of way.

Surely, You’re Joking Mr. Feynman! – Richard P. Feynman

Richard Feynman is one of the coolest people I’ve ever read about.  This is one of my favourite books.

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt – Edmund Morris

Theodore Roosevelt is the most interesting person I have ever read about – fiction or non-fiction.  This is the best non-fiction book I’ve ever read.

Norwegian Wood – Haruki Murakami

Murakami is a fantastic writer.  I’m not always a huge fan of his plots, but I find that I learn so much about writing and word choice that in the end it doesn’t really matter.

Good Calories Bad Calories – Gary Taubes

When I read this I had been feeling really confused as to what constitutes a “healthy” diet.  Should I be eating no carbs?  Is dietary fat bad for you?  What’s insulin resistance?  Should I be on a ketogenic diet?  This book helped me answer those questions.  I eat no carbs, tons of meat, lots of veggies and sweet sweet fat.

Born to Run – Christopher McDougall

Cool story about ultra-marathon runners, barefoot running and the joys of physical activity.

The World of Karl Pilkington – Karl Pilkington

Karl is very unintentionally funny because you can empathize with his logic – no matter how off base or socially ridiculous it is.  You’ll say to yourself, “wow that’s dumb, but I know how he feels.”  Once he tried to buy a bed and was shocked that it didn’t come with a mattress.  For Karl the whole situation rested on the absurd notion of, “Why would you buy a bed without a mattress?  A bed should come with a mattress.”  You and I know that it doesn’t, even though it sort of makes sense that it should.  But things like this sort of fly over Karl’s head.  Then hilarity ensues.

Made to Stick – Chip Heath

Chip gives some good points on marketing.  I wasn’t really thrilled with this book.  Then I realized I could remember most of it even though I read it a few months ago.  Made to stick?  I guess so.

Infinite Jest – David Foster Wallace

Alright.  Don’t read this book if you’ve got a lot on the go, or you’re in the middle of reading something else.  This isn’t a light summer read.  This is the most challenging book I’ve ever read.  Was it good?  Yeah?  Maybe that’s not the best way to describe it.  I’d say it’s a rewarding experience – like running a marathon or writing the UFE.

If you want to get a good idea of what his writing is like, then read this commencement speech he gave at Kenyon University.  It’ll help you get your feet wet.  This interview will help too.  Start from the 23min mark.

The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals – Edward Payson Evans

Back in the day courts of law used to prosecute animals.  For example, a pig would manage to escape from its pen, run into a farmhouse and eat a baby.  Then a court would convict the pig of infanticide, dress it up as a person and then hang it.  I don’t even know where to go after that last sentence.  Is it a good book?  Yes, because it’s so ridiculous?  It’s not long.  You can bang it out in a day or so.

Posted by: LYF | May 26, 2010

Getting to the good part

I was at my aunt and uncle’s house the other Sunday to celebrate Mother’s day with my family.  It was a pretty standard Jewish brunch.  Lots of bagels, cream cheese, lox and tuna, which is awesome.  I don’t know how we got on the subject, but my grandmother started talking about my grandfather who had passed away before I was born.  Mainly, how he had to, “fight his way into the army.”

And that’s not the kind of statement you can just take.  “Oh yeah?  That’s cool.  Pass the challah bubby.”  No, you obviously have to follow up.  So I was expecting some awesome story involving my grandfather, fisticuffs (“old people” for fighting) and some sort of triumph on par with the last few minutes of Rudy.  Nope.  “Your grandfather almost didn’t get into the army because he lost his trigger finger making mud pies with his sister.  When the recruiter asked how he was going to shoot a gun.  He looked at the man and made the same motion with his middle finger.”  Not only is this story underwhelming in comparison to my version it totally ignores the fact that my 5 year old grandfather, lost his finger making food out of dirt with a hatchet.  His sister was using an axe to cut the pie so she could share it with my grandfather, she was the one who actually guillotined it off  – hilarious mental image, but not the safest activity for children under the age of 10.  After making this point all I got was a shoulder shrug and “well it was Poland in the 1920’s, they didn’t have much else to do.”

Ridiculous stories like the one about my grandfather are kind of funny after the fact.  Not when they’re actually happening.  Unfortunately for me, work has been falling under the latter category – ridiculous + now.  Everything is messed up now and I’m hoping everything wi’ll turn into a funny anecdote later.

A few weeks back I was finishing up a file when I noticed my manager walking over to my desk.  He wanted to know about my timing.  It was Thursday and I was scheduled to start an audit the following Monday.  Meanwhile, I had 6 files in review.  If these came back to me all at once on Monday, I wouldn’t be able to start the audit until at least Wednesday.  I gave this whole story to my manager in order for him to plan my work accordingly.  So after my little rant, my manager went to speak to our scheduling partner.  Who spoke to the partner reviewing my files because they needed to be cleared up before I started the audit.  Who came to me and asked, “so how are we doing with [such and such] company.”  To which I replied, “have they responded to the issues I gave you to ask them.”  “Nope.”  Awesome.  Nothing has changed.  Wicked.  “Alright, so hang onto the files and we’ll wait to here back from them.”  Do you see what just happened?

My manager is happy because he relayed my answer to the scheduling partner.  The scheduling partner is happy because he spoke to the partner reviewing the files.  And the partner – again, who has all the files – is happy because he’s still waiting on the client for info.  Nothing has changed.  But the people in charge are happier because when the client does decide to man-up and answer my questions, I’ll be the only one running around trying to get shit done.

And obviously what happened?  I got all the files back on the same day I started the audit.

The thing that frustrates me the most is that I can’t laugh at this stuff yet.  You know?  It’s still ongoing.  I don’t have enough detachment to physically make my face laugh.  I’ve tried.  It just looks awkward.  Yeah, in maybe a month I’ll be able to look back and say, “hey remember when nothing made sense and everything was screwed up?  Haha, good times *high-five*”  I just wish I was there now.

Once I couldn’t finish an audit because the client, “was having breakfast with a monkey in Nicaragua and wasn’t going to be back in Toronto for another 3 weeks.”

Posted by: LYF | March 28, 2010

I need a programmer asap!

I’m trying to get a business idea off the ground.  If anyone knows of such a person please forward me their contact info.

I will take them out for lunch to discuss my idea.  I will also give them a high five.  Only one.

This is actually a serious idea.  It’s something I originally wanted for myself because it would solve a problem I’ve been having, but I realized most people have to deal with the same thing.  I figure, why not become a millionaire and help people at the same time?  Makes sense.

On another note.  Why isn’t it socially acceptable to just wear a t-shirt and jeans to the bar?  Come on.  Fuck v-neck sweaters.  Yeah I said it.  And button-downs too.  Black t-shirt and jeans.  That should be legit enough.  Why do I feel stupid when I roll up to a house party wearing a t-shirt and jeans?  I shouldn’t feel stupid.  The guy wearing the blazer with the hoodie sewn into it should feel stupid!

Posted by: LYF | March 26, 2010

Picking up girls with my audit bag

Does this happen to anyone else?  Whenever I have my audit bag, I get approached by girls.  No joke.  Last week a woman on the elevator asked me if I was a pilot.  She’s was either drunk or near-sighted because I haven’t shaved in a week or seen a barber in a month.  I did not look like a pilot.  This is a pilot.  Granted she could have assumed I was traveling somewhere – my audit bag is similar to the luggage Clooney used for Up in the Air.  But come on.  What’s the deal.  Then she wouldn’t stop talking.  This pissed me off because I was trying to listen to monkey news on my ipod.  “Oh, you just looked like a pilot.”  “Ah yeah? Thanks.”  “So what do you do actually?” *please shut-up so I can listen to Karl Pilkington*

Then the same thing happened yesterday.  Some girl in my building waited a good 30 seconds to hold a door open for me.  And when I tried to say thanks she started talking about my bag.  Seriously?  Looks down at my bag, then up at me, then back to the bag and finally to my face.  “Oh so what do you do?”  Is she serious?!  What the hell is with my audit bag.  “I’m an accountant.  I’m about to audit the shit out of a business.”  “Umm ok…I work at Quiznos.”  I told her she was very well dressed for someone who makes sandwiches eight hours a day.  Turns out she works for Quiznos Corporate.  My mistake.

Is an audit bag to women what lulu lemon is to men? (Lulu lemon yoga pants in particular).  Just saying.

Posted by: LYF | March 23, 2010

Hacking the review process

It’s really stupid when you think about it.  You’ve got entire year to strategize for a meeting, where you’ll have to justify why you’re a good worker and yet no one really prepares for it.  Here’s what you do.

  1. Get a three ring binder and some dividers
  2. After each file print off all the issues/review notes/problems etc and put them in the binder
  3. Get a copy of your yearly performance evaluation
  4. Categorize your review notes according to how you will be evaluated – i.e. prepares high quality working papers, works well with others, understands audit methodology etc. etc.
  5. Create a pie chart for each file with the info in step 4
  6. Create an excel file totaling all your review notes by the criteria in step 4.  Then use the data to create a line graph.
  7. Take said binder to your review meeting, down a few shots of jager and laugh like a pirate.

The pie charts are like balance sheets.  They show how you’re doing at a certain point in time.  The line graph is like an income statement.  It will show how much you’ve improved during the year.

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