The Gift of Time

February 29, 2016 § Leave a comment

As I sit down to write this post on the “free” day we are given once every four years, I think about how time has become so precious to me.

As kids, we often get bored and wonder why time is so slow, especially when we are waiting for something exciting to happen. Even as a young adult, I felt like I had so much time. I was new in my career and didn’t have any children yet so I frequently had time to just sit and do nothing if I wanted.

The Gift of TimeFlash forward a few years and I now have a busy career, four children, and rarely have time to just sit and do nothing. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything! This last year I’ve had some events in my life that have made me realize how important time is and to make sure I’m spending my time doing what I love. In January, I read a blog post by Dr. Christi Hegstad encouraging people to choose a theme for the year instead of making New Year’s resolutions. My theme for 2016 is focus, especially as it relates to focusing on what’s important. I want to make sure I am spending my precious time doing the things I love with the people who are most important to me. Here are some of the ways I intend to focus my time:

  • Building the relationships that matter the most. During this busy tax and audit season, I spend a lot of my “free” time at work. Some may think it’s crazy but I truly enjoy this time of year because I get to work closely with my clients and build stronger relationships with them. I also form closer bonds with co-workers when we are working together to meet the client needs. These relationships are the reason I love what I do!
  • Giving back to my community. I’m involved in several different non-profit and community organizations and believe that giving back to those in need helps me just as much as it helps the people I’m directly helping. I want to help build a better community and teach those around me how rewarding it can be to help others.
  • Enjoying all those precious moments with my family. My family is my whole world. Obviously, I want to enjoy all the milestones and moments of my four children who seem to be growing too quickly! But I want to make sure I’m present in all the moments, whether it is a date night with my husband, shopping with my mom, or the everyday task of doing my daughter’s hair in the morning. Life goes fast so we need to treasure each of the moments we have with those we love.

As I scroll through my Facebook newsfeed, I see friends enjoying this Leap Day on the beach, exercising, promoting their businesses, cuddling their loved ones, and so many other things that are important in their life. I encourage you to think about how you are spending your time, find your passions in life, and never take any moment for granted!

Jenny Smith, CPA
Jenny Smith
Manager – McGowen, Hurst, Clark & Smith, P.C.

Managerial vs. Leadership Skills: A Common Misconception

February 17, 2016 § Leave a comment

Throughout my career I have had the pleasure (and at times the burden) of leading interview teams to select new team members.  The biggest challenge for me during an interview is that the candidate is emphasizing the “best version of themselves,” and it can be difficult to see through prepared and often cliché responses.  It is for this reason that I am often surprised when an individual is unprepared for, in my opinion, a fairly simple question…

What is your leadership style?

The response I often receive is that the candidate “has never been in management and thus hasn’t had the opportunity to lead.”  I’ve also had peers on my interview team (some of which hold decades of managerial experience) tell me that the question is unfair for a non-managerial candidate interview.  In my opinion this demonstrates a misinterpretation of what it means to be a leader – because leadership skills are incredibly valuable and at times vital for every position in all levels of an organization.

To prove this point I have summarized some of the qualities that I value most in a leader and will let you decide for yourself if these truly apply only to “management.”

  • All employees should display the same level of respect toward all team members. However, treating an individual fairly does not necessarily mean that they should be treated the same.   Each member of a team has their own strengths and weaknesses, and the best leaders know how to get the most from everyone.  Too often we try to force individuals to conform to the group when it would be a more productive and rewarding experience for everyone if we celebrated our differences and supported our weaknesses.  This is important regardless of your position on the team.
  • The most valuable leaders influence their organization through demonstrating their most important values – this is also known as leading by example. No value is more important than the manner in which a group communicates with one another – yet this is a typical area of struggle for all levels of an organization – most notably through complaining and gossip.  This behavior significantly damages morale and work ethic as the negative attitudes can spread through even the best organizations like the plague.  While venting can be therapeutic, there is an appropriate time and place to confront organizational challenges regardless of your job title.
  • While the majority of organizational decisions are made by managerial employees, it is the responsible of all team members to influence change. When we hear the word “influence” we often think of impassioned speeches which make most of us very uncomfortable.  However, sometimes the most important influence you can provide is by a simple head nod or just adding the words “I agree” to a discussion.  These simple gestures will support and empower your teams to continue to pursue and influence new ideas instead of doing what’s the most comfortable (and sticking to the status quo).
  • The very best leaders live to serve the people around them and are willing to make the necessary sacrifices to influence another individual’s personal and professional success. In a professional setting this means being willing to give up what’s often viewed as our most important resource – our time.  We typically think of a leader’s time being used to teach and mentor which is of course valuable.  However, a leader is also someone that takes the time to ask good questions and be willing to be mentored.  Sometimes the greatest leaders are also the best followers.


Mike DeKock, CPA
Mike DeKock
Manager – McGowen, Hurst, Clark & Smith, P.C.

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