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Call for Change

Reigniting My Passion…and This Blog

It’s been a while since I last wrote for this blog.  And it’s been very busy year, perhaps one of the busiest or me in a very long time.  Demand for my services as a trusted IT advisor has multiplied exponentially—I now have a 4-month waiting period for new engagements.  And the number of requests for speaking engagements has almost doubled, including getting paid for speaking at events.  It has also been an amazing year for me personally, one in which I’ve gained the most clarity on what I want to do with my life—I feel like I’ve found myself again.

I won’t reveal my life plan to you (yet) but I will say that I’ve regained my passion for the accounting profession.  “Regained” you may say implies that I lost it.  And I must admit that for a while, I started to question, not my commitment to the profession, but rather my faith in the institutions of the profession, and their ability to change.  There is a ton of inertia in the profession and unfortunately much more politics than I realized operating in the institutions.  Some may probably think me naïve, and I must say in looking back that I probably was naïve in thinking that I could have a significant impact on the profession.

Gartner Hype Cycle diagramHowever, I realized that I was merely going through what Gartner calls a “Hype Cycle”.  The AICPA Leadership Academy triggered the cycle and started me on the upward trend of excitement and passion.  Through the academy, I learned how great the accounting profession is and also the great challenges that we face in keeping the profession relevant and engaging for the next generation.  I was climbing up the Peak of Inflated Expectations.

The academy opened my eyes to all the opportunity that there was to make a difference, and many young CPAs have rallied to my side (and are still here today) in helping to start what Tom Hood calls “the movement”.  I don’t think any of us knew what we were up against.  Not with people actively fighting against us (although politics are causing some issues), but rather the passive resistance of the sheer inertia of how things were always done and the lack of motivation to change.  What I had thought would be easy long strides, ended up being small steps—sometimes easy, but more often feeling like they required a lot more energy than the progress that was gained.

So from the Peak of Inflated Expectations, I began the descent into the Trough of Disillusionment. I started to question myself and whether “the movement” and I could really redirect this iceberg of a profession.  Part of me wanted to start my own path and pull the others with me and do our own thing.  But as I looked at the many small associations/networks within the profession, (many of which are more innovative and forward thinking), I saw that while we could do our own thing, it would not save the profession from irrelevance.  I had to figure out a way to maneuver the iceberg and the deal with the mass of “other things” that are hidden below the waterline.

Thus began my climb out of the Through of Disillusionment, up the Slope of Enlightenment.  And enlightening this year has been!  My naming earlier this month to Accounting Today’s Top 100 Most Influential People list, confirmed for me that I have been making a difference and it is being noticed.  When I posted it on Facebook, I was extremely touched to have 96 friends “like” my post.  Twenty-five people took the time to comment, providing congratulations and many said “well deserved”.  It made me feel like I really had earned this honor.

That was the last spark I needed to reignite my passion for the profession.  I have since reworked my 5-year career plan and re-visualized the direction I want for my life.  As this year comes to a close, I will be wrapping up loose ends with my previous plan, and putting things in motion for my new plan.  It is amazing to feel like I have definite direction and purpose in life again.

Over this year, I’ve also met a lot of new people and many of you may not know my story.  So in restarting this blog, I hope to share with you my story and my involvement in the accounting profession.  I hope to reignite the passion that many of you (who are already CPAs) have for the profession, and to show the next generation of students how a career in accounting is the portal to a life that is fulfilling like no other.  Yes, being a CPA is not just a job, but a lifestyle.  Don’t believe me?  Subscribe to this blog and see the story unfold… enjoy!

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Discussion

7 thoughts on “Reigniting My Passion…and This Blog

  1. Great post Donny – we are all so fortunate to have your passion and involvement in our profession! You ARE making a difference – keep it up!

    Posted by David Cieslak | September 25, 2013, 3:20 am
  2. As a fellow Leadership Academy Alum, I can certainly understand and sympathize with your feelings. I have never seen this “hype-cycle” chart before, but can tell you that I as well have been in the cycle starting with LA. Your thoughts regarding the profession and the other “small” associations mirror those I have had as well.

    Question: You state your passion for the profession has been “reignited”. Does this mean you still desire to change the profession? Or do you have a new plan?

    I will follow closely to see where you are headed in the future.

    Posted by Michael J. Elliott CPA | September 26, 2013, 2:54 am
    • Hi Michael! Glad to hear from a fellow LA Alum who has hit the trigger point. I definitely still desire to change the profession. Not radically, but to build upon the great base that we already have. My plan is more about the path that I think I can take to enact change–not necessarily about the change itself.

      As far as the actual changes in the profession, there is much to do, however, I will highlight these two for now:
      1) Become a more inclusive profession. I mean this from diversity and from a professional path standpoint. Rich’s diversity commission is addressing the former, and I think that CGMA is the start of the latter (bringing CPAs in business & industry back into the picture). However in many of the meetings and discussions I hear, when people talk about “the profession” they’re talking about public accounting. And we need to change that to be ALL CPAs, not just those in public accounting.

      2) Enliven the brand image of the CPA lifestyle. The CPA brand is strong as evidenced by the market studies of business decision makers done by the AICPA. And while we have a record number of accounting students, there is a decreasing desire of those students to become CPAs. I think it’s because there is the perception that we as a profession are conservative and have a boring SOX and tax deadline filled lifestyle. But as all of us who are active in the CPA circles and especially at the conferences know, CPAs know how to have fun, and we’re not all cut from the cookie cutter “boring accountant” mold.

      Stay tuned, I’m actually in the process of recruiting guest bloggers to help me illustrate how the changes above have started with many of us in the “next generation”. Let me know if you know of anyone who might be interested in being a guest blogger about either of the above too.

      Posted by donnyitk | September 26, 2013, 9:54 am
      • Donny,

        Interesting thoughts on the changes you specifically mentioned. Couple of questions for you, perhaps, a little push-back:

        1.) As far as being an “inclusive” profession, I think that most would agree, that as a profession, we still have a diversity issue. I do like the direction Rich is pushing the profession with the Diversity Commission. I think that nothing but positive outcomes will be achieved.

        2.) I really struggle with the concept of inclusiveness as it relates to “expanding” (my word) the CPA profession. I think that as we move away from the core (up for discussion) focus of the AICPA to things like CGMA, we begin to “water down” (again my words) the value CPA brings. I agree with your thoughts on the “CPA Lifestyle” promotion, and the continued push to show how CPA is relevant and valuable, I just worry that we are trying to be “all things to all people” instead of staying true to the core focus of the past.

        I for one, want to be known as a CPA, as part of this exclusive club. I don’t want to be a part of something that everyone else is a part of.

        Do you think there is a possibility of value diminishment with constant expansion of the AICPA?

        Posted by Michael J. Elliott CPA | October 8, 2013, 10:11 am
      • We definitely agree on #1 and actually on #2 as well. The key to “proper expansion” of the profession is to keep the Core Competencies of the profession and our base in the finance/tax subject matters, and to leverage those capabilities into other complementary fields–the CPA Horizons 2025 report (http://www.aicpa.org/Research/CPAHorizons2025/Pages/CPAHorizons2025.aspx) touches on this in its key finding related to Market Permission. We definitely don’t want to “water down” the value of a CPA.

        Your comment about the “exclusive club” of being a CPA is an interesting one. Ty will actually be touching on this as part of the blog series that we are currently running about Life as a CPA. I’ve heard (non-CPAs) comment about the need to lower the bar to obtaining your CPA and even some of the credentials (CITP, CFF, ABV, PFS) but I’m not sure that any of who have earned the CPA or the credentials would agree. There is a certain prestige with obtaining your CPA and I think there should be barrier to entry that keeps us sufficiently separated from “everyone else”. This actually ties into one of the other CPA Horizons 2025 key finding about Pride in the Profession.

        We’ll we be running a blog series early next year talking about each of the CPA Horizons 2025 findings and be sharing stories and examples of how many of the findings are already true today. Stay tuned!

        Posted by donnyitk | October 8, 2013, 8:49 pm

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  1. Pingback: A Peek Into Life as a CPA: Preface | Inspiring the next generation of Business Professionals - October 2, 2013

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