ET HORA LIBELLUM DELENDA EST!

In ancient Rome, during the Punic Wars, Cato the Elder is said to have ended every speech he delivered before the Roman Senate with the phrase, “ET CARTHAGO DELENDA EST” (and Carthage must be destroyed!). He did this without regard to the subject of his speech.

It is in this spirit that I will begin to close all my post with the phrase, ET HORA LIBELLUM DELENDA EST which, loosely translated, means, “and the billable hour must be destroyed!”

On Sensational Saturday for SAN Members

On Saturday, July 9, 2011 the Sage Accountants Network (SAN) is presenting Sensational Saturday at Sage Summit 2011 at the Gaylord National Hotel just outside Washington, DC.

The main draw is entitled, Tomorrow Is Today: The Accounting Firm of 2011 to be delivered by Darren Root of RootWorks and Ron Baker of the VeraSage Institute. (Oh yeah, a guy by the name of Ed Kless is going to be there to moderate the fireworks.)

imageDarren is the co-author (with Michael Gerber) of The E-Myth Accountant. Ron’s just released book is Implementing Value Pricing. While the two agree on many topics, including the need for professionals to set fixed prices for engagements, there are other areas where they are not in alignment. This, to me, is where the fun will begin.

imageThe presentation runs from 9am to 5pm and is dedicated to the possibility that accounting firms as we traditionally think of them are dying quickly. In order to ensure their survival, firms need to radically transform themselves. Creating such an organization is hard work and not for everyone and many firms will not be able to make the transition at all because this transition requires us to think differently than we have in the past about what it is that we do. You are invited to open a dialogue on a different model for creating success in a professional firm.

Click here for more information about the Sage Accountants Network.

On the Loss of Manufacturing Jobs

Earlier this week, reason.tv released and excellent piece on what I will call the Made in China Myth. You can view the video in its entirety below, but the gist of it is “Who cares if the snow globes of US landmarks are manufactured in China?” Apparently, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)does.

 

He should not, and nor should you and here is why – a loss of manufacturing jobs is not the same as reduced manufacturing output as this graph clearly indicates.

We are not losing our manufacturing ability we are just manufacturing higher value products with fewer people.

In the late 1700’s 98 percent of Americans were involved in agriculture, now it is less than 2 percent, yet our yields are higher. We don’t lament the loss of agricultural jobs. Maybe some do, but I sure don’t.

Frankly, I am glad to not have to farm or work a production line. Both of these are noble pursuits, but I would rather read, write and think for a living in my air-conditioned house.

Thoughts?

Legal Intelligence – an oxymoron

imageYesterday, the Wall Street Journal ran what is I believe an annual story on lawyers who bill more than $1,000 per hour.

With the exception of those who list Bankruptcy as their practice area, who I understand are required by the courts to track their time to the tenth of an hour, I submit that this is the list of smartest, but economically ignorant people in the United States.

Here is the “time is money” quote from the article – “Harvey Miller, a bankruptcy partner at New York-based Weil, Gotshal & Manges, said his firm had an ‘artificial constraint’ limiting top partners’ hourly fee because "$1,000 an hour is a lot of money.”

Yeah, the “artificial constraint” is called the almighty billable hour! At least poor Harvey is a bankruptcy attorney, so maybe he knows better.

Sesame Street for Knowledge Workers

Last Sunday, my wife and I brought my son, Sean, and daughter, Cara, to the Imagination Movers concert at the Verizon Center just outside Dallas. To coin a phrase, a good time was had by all.

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For those of you not familiar with the “Movers” (as we in the hip-in-the-know-‘cause-we-have-a-five-year-old crowd like to them) let me give you some quick background. The Imagination Movers are a kid-focused rock band that began when a group of four friends in New Orleans discovered they shared a similar distain for music groups oriented for children. (With this I agree with them. Barney, Teletubbies and especially The Wiggles are downright creepy.)

They achieved significant regional success, selling over 100,000 copies of their independently produced CDs. In 2006, they inked a deal with Disney and for the past three years have been one of the top-rated shows on the Disney Channel.

Aside from being a pretty darn good writers and performers, the messages they convey in their music and on their show is spot on for their audience of future knowledge workers.

Each show centers around a different customer (yes, they call them customers not clients) coming into their Idea Warehouse with a problem that needs solving. The four Movers than ask some diagnostic questions (notice they do not jump to a solution!) until they decide that they do, in fact, have an Idea Emergency (I love this term). This phrase always trips an alarm and begins the song called Brainstorming which is sung in every show.

Because there are “no bad ideas when you’re brainstorming,” the Movers always end up solving the problem for their customer. Now the exchange of money is never talked about, but a few of the shows have focused around the guys solving some of their own problems, including one episode in which they record a TV commercial to attract more customers. In another episode, Bad Hair Day (one of my son’s, OK, one of my favorites), they need to help Mover Scott get his hair under control so they can take a picture for the newspaper.

In the first season, there was a neighbor called Knit-Knots who always wore beige, played only one note on his tuba (b-flat because, “the b stood for boring and the flat made it extra boring”), and did nothing in his office but “staple, stamp and stack” papers. While I rather enjoyed this slam at the monotony of the office service worker, it was clear that after season one, the gag had played itself out and Knit-Knots is not in season two or three.

Knit-Knots’ niece, Nina, however, has continued on the show in part to bring some female presence, but mostly because the actress that plays Nina, Wendy Calio is quite a talent herself.  The live concert featured her in a cover of The Black-Eyed Peas’ I’ve Got a Feeling. Dare I say, she has a much better voice than Fergie.

 

I strongly recommend the Imagination Movers to any of you with children or grandchildren. Heck, maybe it should be required viewing for all current knowledge workers.