Interview With Lori Hinesley, CPA, A Mother Of 3 Under The Age Of 6, Who Transitioned From Employee To Entrepreneur With The Help Of CPA MOMS

Interview With Lori Hinesley, CPA, A Mother Of 3 Under The Age Of 6, Who Transitioned From Employee To Entrepreneur With The Help Of CPA MOMS

Every CPA has a story – we all have a journey we’ve taken to get us to where we are.  Every entrepreneur also has a story and journey as well. This week I had the pleasure of interviewing Lori Hinesley, CPA.  Lori is a mother of 3 under the age of 6 who transitioned from employee to entrepreneur and became CPA MOMS first founding franchisee.

During the interview we discuss:

  • She grew up and went to school in Alaska
  • She had originally gone to college for biology but switched to accounting after a business professor encouraged her
  • She discovered that she did love accounting
  • She got her CPA license after she moved to California
  • She worked in the home building and construction industry to get work experience
  • She started as an entry level accountant and worked her way up to the Director of Finance 
  • She worked for the same company, in various capacities, from the time she was in college to the time she became a franchisee; 15 years altogether
  • She is a mom of 3 – a 6 year old boy starting kindergarten, a 3 year old boy and a 7 month old little girl
  • The transition from having her career as her “baby”, to having children of her own was difficult
  • She suffered with mom guilt and work guilt
  • For about 5 years she juggled everything and felt she had a good balance but then there were some changes in her company
  • When she had her third child, she realized she needed a change
  • She needed to be able to feel that she could have a career and a family without feeling that she had to sacrifice one for the other
  • Her direct manager was a father who worked 14 hours a day, sacrificed time with his family, and wasn’t super supportive of Lori being a working mom
  • Now that she’s franchised with CPA MOMS, she’s able to manage her time around her children’s schedule in ways she wasn’t able to before
  • She transitioned from private to public accounting and from employee to entrepreneur
  • She had looked into another franchise opportunity for bookkeeping but it wasn’t the right fit
  • She chose CPA MOMS because of the support, the sales training, the framework and the mentoring and coaching
  • All the systems that were already in place at CPA MOMS made the transition so much more doable for her to go from an employee to an entrepreneur
  • Having the platforms for leads and the amount of training that is involved, even after you open your business, has helped her in her marketing, how she sells her services and how to set it all up
  • She explains that the franchise training isn’t just about how to start your own business, it’s about how to grow it for the long-term and how to create a vision for your business and your life
  • She shares that although she struggled with confidence, the coaching she received gave her a framework to start building her confidence
  • Buying into the franchise gave her a lot of comfort that she would have the support she needed and that she would succeed
  • Her vision for her future is to be able to grow her business, to hire other accountant moms that so that she can give others flexibility to be a mom and have a career as well 
  • The advice that she would give to other accountant moms is that it’s never going to feel like the “right time” to make a change or take a risk but do it because it will be so worth it
  • There’s never going to be a better time to push yourself out of your comfort zone, so don’t let that stop you
  • She’s so grateful that she had the courage to go out on her own and that CPA MOMS was there to show her the way

Ending Self-Sabotage

Ending Self-Sabotage

When it comes to the day to day life of a working accountant and mom, you’re probably doing your best to support your family, raise your children, and have a successful accounting career.  You also most likely have dreams as well, like having better health, improving your relationships, making more money, and overall having a better, happier, more balanced life.

Even with the best of intentions though, working moms are unfortunately the most susceptible to self-sabotage.  Ironically we often wind up being our own worst enemy, consciously and unconsciously sabotaging our best efforts. 

The interesting thing is that since so many of us are home now more than ever due to the pandemic, our self-sabotaging patterns are becoming more evident.  Maybe you’re now noticing unhelpful behaviors like not scheduling focused work time, not sticking to your healthy diet, spending more time watching Netflix, or staying up later than you should, to name just a few.

So the question is – is self-sabotage happening more or are we just having the space to notice it now?  I actually think it’s a combination of both; we are living in unprecedented times which lends itself to self-sabotaging behaviors and our lives have been forced to slow down a little so we’re able to notice it more.   

There’s no denying that being an accountant during this pandemic and economic downturn can be confusing and stressful.  The impact of needing to understand how to advise clients when there are so many things that are unknown, can really take a toll on you, both physically and emotionally.

Plus, the added pressure of being a mom and wanting to keep your children safe, while also dealing with so many unknowns like whether they should go back to school, will their education be affected by distance learning, and when will it be safe for them to play with their friends, is just adding another layer of overwhelm.  All the new decisions that need to be made can also weigh heavily on your already overburdened shoulders.

All this personal and professional pressure is just the unfortunate perfect storm for working moms to become victims to self-sabotage and its aftermath.  Before you know it, your desire for better health, better relationships, more money and a more balanced life are once again left as an afterthought, delegated to some future moment in time when things are less hectic.

If you resonate with this, I encourage you to understand your self-sabotaging programming now, so that you can get a handle on it rather than wait for the dust to settle and you’ve missed out on achieving your goals and dreams.  This perfect storm really is the perfect time to uncover and recognize those things you do that make having what you want, so difficult.

This week I’m going to discuss where self-sabotage comes from and how you can end the struggle with it.

Where self-sabotage comes from

When it comes to self-sabotage, it’s actually much more common than you may realize.  You’re definitely not the only working mom who is consciously or unconsciously undermining her wants, dreams, goals and desires.

The interesting thing is that the word “sabotage” has such a sinister definition; it’s defined as intentionally destroying something, usually perpetrated against a rival or enemy.  For example, you can’t stand your mother-in-law so you sabotage her holiday plans at her house by taking your family away on vacation instead.

Sabotage is often described as an attack or sorts, or the undermining of others efforts.  It’s synonymous with disabling, vandalizing, or crippling.

So if sabotage is such an attack with an intent to destroy or disable, why would we ever turn on ourselves by self-sabotaging?  Why would we undermine ourselves as if we were a rival or an enemy?

The surprising reason why we undermine ourselves, and the reason it’s so common, is because self-sabotage is really quite easy.  Not only is it easy, but it can often feel much better in the moment, than it would feel sticking with some long-term goal.

Interestingly, it might feel awful when you notice it after the fact, but at the time, it’s often the path of least resistance and the path of most relief.  The reason this happens is because the part of your brain that is running your life most of the time is highly motivated by relief and instant gratification, whether it’s helpful to you or not.

The key to understanding where self-sabotage comes from is knowing that self-sabotage happens when you really want to do something, but you also have other desires that are also competing on a high level.  It doesn’t matter how strong your desire is to start or stop doing something, if there are competing desires and goals, self-sabotage can easily occur without your awareness.  

For example, you may have a goal of not yelling at your kids so much, but if you also have the desire for more peace and quiet in the house and they’re making noise, it’s going to be easier to self-sabotage your goal of not yelling.  If the noise in the house was making you stressed, then the instant stress relief you get from yelling will often win, overriding the feeling of pride in the future when you are a mom that doesn’t yell as much.  

It’s also important to note that when you consider all the long-term goals and desires you have for yourself, those were all imagined and created with your higher brain and your higher level of thinking.  As humans, we are the only species that has this incredible ability to think, plan and execute goals for the long-term.

The issue though, is that the lower human brain is also incredibly powerful as well, and it likes things to stay the same as they are, and to not feel uncomfortable or challenged.  It only has the ability to react in this moment, seeking pleasure and avoiding pain as much as possible, and doesn’t have the ability to delay instant gratification.

For example, you may have had a rough day at work, and although a glass of wine isn’t on your diet plan, it may look like a really good idea once the kids are finally in bed.  When the long-term goal of losing weight and getting healthy is staring at the immediate gratification of a glass or two of wine, the one that wins is the one that often sounds better in the moment.

As the mean and vindictive definition of sabotage points out, self-sabotage sounds even more horrible and unhelpful, but is completely understandable when faced with the choice between a better feeling now or a better feeling later.  Even though it’s common and easy, thankfully there are some powerful ways to end your struggle with self-sabotage. 

How to end the struggle with self-sabotage

If you have been dealing with self-sabotage, you’re not alone.  In a Forbes article titled “The Nine Ways Women Self-Sabotage” the author discusses the following ways we tend to self-sabotage:

  • Thinking too small
  • Worrying
  • Misunderstanding yourself
  • Dishonesty
  • Holding back
  • Not taking time for reflection
  • Inhibiting desires
  • Isolating
  • Disempowering other women

In my own experience coaching accountant moms, I would also add:

  • Not having goals
  • Lack of awareness
  • Being past focused
  • Procrastination

If any of these apply to you, don’t worry; I’ve got you covered.  The frequency and ease at which women, especially working moms, tend to self-sabotage is something that I am passionate about helping uncover and eradicate.

In order to end self-sabotage you first have to look into your beliefs about you.  A lack of self-awareness and self-confidence, is a big part of why self-sabotage is so prevalent for working moms.

When you lack self-awareness and self-confidence you will often do one of three things – procrastinate, buffer or quit.  These are the easiest actions to take when you are feeling challenged, overwhelmed or stressed, despite having good intentions.

For example, you may have a desire to be promoted at work, but a conscious or unconscious belief like, “I’m not sure I’m really capable” will most likely lead to procrastination, where you either don’t talk to your boss or don’t get the paperwork done to show your interest.  By doubting yourself and procrastinating, you then perpetuate the belief that you’re not capable, by not going for the promotion.

Also, remember that when you have two competing desires happening, the strongest one will most likely win out, often being the self-sabotaging behavior.  In the example of the desire for a promotion at work, that desire may also be competing with the desire to not be challenged by a new position, to not have to work more hours or to have a balanced life.

When faced with the choice between keeping things the same, rather than pushing you out of your comfort zone, the comfortable, more familiar desire will make self-sabotaging the promotion pretty easy.  Before you know it, you’re stuck and beating yourself up for not being able to advance your career.

Once you’ve addressed your beliefs about yourself, you then need to manage your emotions by becoming aware of how you are feeling before your self-sabotaging behavior.  What I often see with clients is that they believe that life should be comfortable or happy all the time, which prevents them from pursuing their goals. 

I strongly encourage you to take back your power by accepting that negative emotions are part of life and then be willing to process those emotions all the way through.  When you acknowledge that it’s okay to feel worry, fear, or doubt, and still take action to get the results you want, that’s when you can get in front of self-sabotage.

It’s important to understand the trade-off – you either feel discomfort now in order to go after a goal or desire, or you feel discomfort and disappointment later when you have once again let self-sabotaging behaviors get in the way.  When you can acknowledge that your resistance, in the form of not having goals, looking to the past for evidence of what’s possible in the future, and procrastinating, is only prolonging your discomfort, you can begin to end self-sabotage.

Just like putting a destination into your car’s GPS, but then driving with the emergency brake on, you are slowing down the speed at which you can accomplish your goals, dreams and desires when you don’t address self-sabotage.  Thankfully ending it can change the speed at which you can get the results you want.

Imagine for a moment what your life would look like if you ended self-sabotage; the goals you would achieve, the desires you would be able to fulfill.  Don’t let the ease of self-sabotage lull you into complacency and self-judgement, and instead acknowledge it and address it.

Since you wouldn’t sabotage someone you really cared about, it’s time to stop doing it to yourself as well.  Give yourself the same kind of love, appreciation and encouragement that you give to your family, and end your struggle with self-sabotage once and for all.      

Summary  

  • Even with the best of intentions though, working moms are unfortunately the most susceptible to self-sabotage
  • The key to understanding where self-sabotage comes from is knowing that self-sabotage happens when you really want to do something, but you also have other desires that are competing on a high level
  • A lack of self-awareness and self-confidence is a big part of why self-sabotage is so prevalent for working moms
  • Once you’ve addressed your beliefs about yourself, you then need to manage your emotions by becoming aware of how you are feeling before your self-sabotaging behavior
  • Just like putting a destination into your car’s GPS, but then driving with the emergency brake on, you are slowing down the speed at which you can accomplish your goals, dreams and desires when you don’t address self-sabotage

Reaching Your Full Potential

Reaching Your Full Potential

If you have the feeling that you aren’t living up to your full potential, then congratulations!  You are right on track and with the awareness of what’s blocking you, I’m going to help you see that you do have a bright future ahead of you.

From the time you were young, you probably were given different aptitude tests to help your teachers and your parents figure out what your strengths were and how to guide you toward reaching your full potential.  Depending on where you grew up, the school system you attended, and the family you grew up in, you may have gotten a lot of opinions about what you should become in the future.

If you were anything like me, you showed an aptitude in math and were encouraged to look into accounting as a career.  Maybe you were also told that accounting was a “good career for women” and that you would be well served going to college for accounting.

First let me say that having help navigating life at a young age is wonderful, but sometimes you can get so swept up in the suggestions and guidance of others, that you don’t take the time to stop and ask yourself what you really want.  Next thing you know, you are stuck in a job or career you don’t particularly like, feeling unfulfilled and directionless, or you would like to make some changes but feel challenged and uncertain.

This is an issue for a lot of professionals, especially working moms.  There often comes a point in a working mom’s career where, despite her efforts and achievements, she lacks a true sense of professional and personal satisfaction and fulfillment, or she wants to advance or grow in some way but just doesn’t know if it’s possible.

This can lead to a mixture of unhappiness, regret and frustration with what you have now, and a longing for something more.  This tug-of-war between what you were told and experienced in the past, and the possibility in the future of being, doing or having more, can leave you feeling trapped and hopeless, sensing that time is running out.

Does this sound like you?  Have you even allowed yourself to dream about what you could be or could achieve?  Think about it for a minute – if money, time and opportunity weren’t an issue, what would you consider going after?  What seems impossible to you right now?

It’s important to look beyond what you may have been told in the past was possible for you, and allow yourself to have a bigger vision.  It’s only been in the last 20 years that science has advanced enough to see deep into the structure of the brain and prove that we aren’t hard-wired to reach some set potential; that we have much more capabilities than we have ever realized.

You no longer have to limit yourself based on some aptitude test taken in grade school or by your genetics because we now know so much more about how your brain is wired and how to rewire it.  You no longer have to try to search for your potential, as if you were born with a unique “potential key” and need to find and unlock that one elusive door that hides the answer to your happiness and fulfillment.

As a woman and a mother, you most likely have a lot of limiting beliefs about your potential.  Also, depending on your race, your culture and where you grew up, you probably have added layer upon layer of restrictions and limitations on the prospects for your future when it comes to things like how much money you can make, how far you can advance in your career, and what you’re capable of achieving.

The key to your potential is truly understanding the story you tell yourself about what’s possible.  Once you see the power of all the past contributors, editors and illustrators of your story, you can then begin to create a new narrative.   

This week I’m going to discuss what potential really is and what might be blocking you from reaching your full potential.

What potential really is

If you grew up hearing something like, “You’re going to be just like your mother (father/sister/uncle)”, you probably accepted, or maybe bristled at the idea of following in someone else’s footsteps.  As children we are compared to and contrasted with the other children around us, as well as our family members, in order to determine where our potential lies.

If you’re like me, you probably heard a lot about potential when you were in school and then when eventually deciding to further your education in college.  When I was in 10th grade my high school offered a bookkeeping class that I excelled at, and my teacher encouraged me to continue on the accounting path, as she believed I had the potential to become a CPA.

Interestingly, from a young age we are taught to think that potential is something we can have and then possibly lose.  We are taught to be very careful to not try to open too many different doors with that special “potential key”, and that our life will be so much easier if we could just open the correct door as early as possible in our life.

Unfortunately what eventually happens for a lot of working moms, is that you come to a pause in your journey and question whether you’re living up to your full potential.  This pause often creates a lot of shame and confusion, as if you are doing something wrong or wasting precious time and there is a “potential clock” just ticking down.

Maybe you’ve reached that point and have a desire for something different or something more.  Perhaps you want to figure out what your potential is and how to achieve it, or you just know that you don’t want to be doing what you’re doing and are afraid you missed your opportunity to reach your full potential.

The good news that I want to share with you is something that I learned a while ago – you can never live up to your potential, because it’s always in the future.  Your potential, by definition, is something you COULD be, but AREN’T, yet which means that there is no predetermined door that you need to feel ashamed of, or confused about, not yet opening.

If you feel that you haven’t reached your full potential, you are correct, and there’s nothing that has gone wrong.  None of us have reached our full potential yet because, if we choose to, we always have more potential to grow into, and as much time as we want to keep exploring.

Until you take your final breath, your potential is meant to be undetermined, expansive, and ever-changing.  You are only ever limited by what you believe about yourself and your ability to achieve what you want.  

The most important thing to know about potential is that it’s an option.  How you choose to think about yourself, your life, your past and your future is all optional and available when you learn what really creates your potential in the first place. 

Because you have a human brain, your potential is only limited by what you believe your potential is.  Although an oak tree seed only has the potential to become an oak tree, as a human you have the ability to create your potential whenever you decide you want to.

I’ve known women in their 60’s who decided to shift gears and completely change career paths, as well as other mid-career working moms who chose to become entrepreneurs after being an employee for decades.  If you are one of the working moms who thinks they “missed the boat”, think again. 

Like a lot of professionals, you may believe that your potential equals your resume so you keep struggling to add more and more experience, knowledge and expertise to your portfolio.  You may think that your potential is like an object that you can pick up, put down or misplace.

But, like having a Master Key that unlocks every door in a hallway of an infinite number of doors, your potential is only limited by what you tell yourself about your past and what you believe about what’s possible for you in the future.

Your potential isn’t limited or definitive; it’s always some future growth and evolution that you get to keep exploring.  You may have been born with certain strengths and abilities, but that doesn’t mean there is some predetermined potential that you need to find or else you have failed.

You are supposed to have space to grow into and undeveloped potential to consider.  If that wasn’t true, there would be no greater sense of excitement, courage, accomplishment and happiness to experience.

As you go through life, you always have more and more potential in front of you, offering you possibilities when you are ready to do the work to remove what’s blocking you.  The only thing stopping your potential is you.

What might be blocking you

When I was an accounting student in college, I remember the professor saying things like “Garbage in, garbage out” when he was teaching us how to compile financial statements.  Now decades later, computer science has adopted the GIGO acronym to express the idea that flawed, or nonsense input data produces nonsense output.

The same thing happens with your human brain.  The more flawed the programming is that you have about your potential, and the more you believe and perpetuate the story about what’s not possible, then the more your actions and results will confirm the story.

When you think about your potential and what’s possible for your future, like most people, you probably look to your past for evidence.  When you think about what you can create for you and your family, you most likely have many reasons and lots of proof, for what’s not worth even considering.

If that’s true for you, then it’s important to know that one of the most powerful things that your brain does is look to match a current belief with evidence from the past.  For example, if you want to learn how to ski, your brain scours your past for proof of anything resembling skiing ability and, without your conscious awareness of why, you wind up feeling either excited about the opportunity or fearful and discouraged.

In this example, if your brain saw you skateboarding when you were younger or doing other winter sports in the past that take a lot of coordination, you would most likely feel somewhat capable of learning how to ski.  On the other hand, if your brain didn’t find evidence from your past of some skiing-related ability, you would most likely feel unsure and incapable, believing what your brain is definitively telling you about your skiing potential. 

What’s so fascinating is that this all happens unconsciously and often instantaneously.  Interestingly, you’ve probably gotten the message that “Past performance is the best predictor of future success” and assume that whatever happened in the past will determine your future.

However, just like your home has a thermostat you can set to whatever temperature is the most comfortable for you, your brain also has a thermostat that, when faced with certain conditions, makes necessary adjustments in order to recalibrate comfort and sameness.  To this part of the brain, the past is known and comfortable, and the future isn’t.

This “the past = the future” part of your brain means well and is always trying to keep you safe, but it doesn’t have the capability to understand how to create a future that’s different from the past.  Thankfully, the decision making part of your brain does, and it’s what you need to utilize more if you want to go after something new, different or challenging.

It’s also important to note that when you feel stressed or overwhelmed, those feelings are like vacuums sucking up the idea of potential.  Those all too familiar feelings that accountants, and especially working moms, experience more often than not, are the antithesis of feelings that fuel potential-taking action.

In order to flip the switch, I suggest you get clear about what you would like for the future and start practicing thoughts that begin with “Maybe…” or “It’s possible that…”.  Gently loosening the grip your brain has on the past, and directing it towards the possibility of some future moment in time, is how to start removing the blocks to reaching your full potential.  

Your potential is much more expansive than the protective part of your brain has allowed you to even fathom.  When you can tap into the advanced, future-focused part of your brain, there are options and possibilities that you may have never even considered, or may have given up hoping for. 

From now on, I hope you explore your potential with an open mind and not let anyone else dictate what’s possible for you.  Your future will always be bright, when you decide that it is.

Summary  

  • It’s only been in the last 20 years that science has advanced enough to see deep into the structure of the brain and prove that we aren’t hard-wired to reach some set potential; that we have much more capabilities than we have ever realized.
  • Your potential, by definition, is something you COULD be, but AREN’T, yet which means that there is no predetermined door that you need to feel ashamed of, or confused about, not yet opening.
  • Like having a Master Key that locks every door in a hallway of an infinite number of doors, your potential is only limited by what you tell yourself about your past and what you believe about what’s possible for you in the future.
  • Gently loosening the grip your brain has on the past, and directing it towards the possibility of some future moment in time, is how to start removing the blocks to reaching your full potential.

Interview with CPA MOMS Founder and CEO, Mayumi Young, CPA About Her Entrepreneur Journey, Why She Started CPA MOMS And Her Goals For The Future

Interview with CPA MOMS Founder and CEO, Mayumi Young, CPA About Her Entrepreneur Journey, Why She Started CPA MOMS And Her Goals For The Future

Every CPA has a story – we all have a journey we’ve taken to get us to where we are.  Every successful entrepreneur also has a story and journey as well. This week I had the pleasure of interviewing CPA MOMS Founder and CEO, Mayumi Young, CPA.  Mayumi’s CPA and entrepreneur journey is fascinating and inspiring for any accountant and mom who wants to create a better future for herself and her family.

During the interview we discuss:

  • Mayumi didn’t start her professional career wanting to be an accountant; she became an accountant by default, feeling the pressure of student loans and needing to figure out a good, practical career for women
  • She was recruited into Price Waterhouse right out of college
  • She started in auditing and enjoyed certain aspects of being on the advisory side, but knew she wanted more
  • Her upbringing, like most women, taught her to get a good job and follow a certain pathway
  • She was recruited out of Price Waterhouse by an international telecom company, in which she ended up being the international Finance Director
  • She reached the “pinnacle” of success, but as she was about to relocate to Europe, she had a defining moment
  • In an airport, she met a woman with her 10 year old daughter and the conversation she had with this woman literally gave her an awareness that changed the course of her life and career
  • She wound up turning down an offer from her current employer when they undervalued her position and her contribution, and she left without a plan
  • She didn’t know what her next chapter was but the moment she chose to be a person who was going to intentionally create her life, as opposed to someone who was always defaulting to what others believed was the “right” or the safe thing, everything changed
  • She had an awakening moment where she realized she wanted to be an entrepreneur and build businesses, but only if they had profit and purpose
  • That began her entrepreneur journey, first building a business that focused on financial literacy curriculum for children in schools, then a coaching business to empower women entrepreneurs and eventually starting CPA MOMS in 2008
  •  Because she committed her life to be of service to others, she learned to surrender to the “signs” and the “taps on the shoulder” along the way, as to what direction she should take
  • She knew there was a big enough need in the marketplace for accountants who were also mothers, who wanted to have a career as well as a family and entrepreneurs who needed the talent and expertise that these women offered
  • She shares that she refuses to be an entrepreneur without a coach and a mentor because she knows that having an outside perspective is the key to her growth
  • As an entrepreneur she realizes how pervasive it is for women to undervalue themselves and how important it is to have someone help you gain the confidence necessary to grow both personally and professionally
  • After a few different business models, she came back full circle to the franchise model, knowing that that was the best way to grow CPA practices while reconnecting families
  • She explains that CPA MOMS’ job is to bring families together, to allow women who choose to raise their children, to have the ability to have a career or grow their own practice  
  • All of the CPA MOMS custom built training, custom technology, marketing education, and the placement of teams and talent have all been designed to deal with the four core challenges that mompreneurs in the making deal with – not enough time, not enough support, not enough quality clients, and not enough confidence
  • CPA MOMS commitment is to grow 500 CPA firms in the next 5 years and reconnect families, creating a ripple effect for accountant moms and their communities
  • The letters she gets from the children of the CPAs who are moms, that chose to take that leap of faith, have the courage to go do what’s in their heart, to be at home with their kids but also have a successful accounting practice, are what get her up every day
  • She shares that she is looking forward to becoming a “B Corp” which means a corporation that is recognized as a company that exists as a win/win/win for every stakeholder, for social impact, and to make a difference, such as Whole Foods and Patagonia
  • These are businesses that want to have a beneficial social impact on the planet    
  • She shares that everything she’s ever done to deliberately create the business and the life success she’s achieved have all been packaged into a program called “Your Future Vision” which CPA MOMS will be launching very soon  
  • If you are interested in designing a life that has meaning, you’ll want to check out the “Your Future Vision” program to learn the exact steps that Mayumi used to intentionally create the life she now has, even in the face of any difficult circumstances or situations the a lot of us are facing right now

Why You Are Underearning And How To Stop

Why You Are Underearning And How To Stop

As a professional woman, you probably know all about the statistics for the wage gap between working men, women and minorities, as well as issues for the advancement of women, especially in the accounting profession.  Although there has been an effort to focus on closing the various gaps, you might still be experiencing issues around your earning potential and career advancement.

Although some of what working moms in the accounting profession face, in regard to these issues, are not necessarily within your control, there actually is something that is within your control, whether you realize it or not.  What you do have more influence over, is the issue around underearning.

While doing some research on this topic I discovered that there’s actually a 12 Step “Underearners Anonymous” program, just like Alcoholics Anonymous.  I am very familiar with 12 Step programs after dealing with a family member’s addiction, but I had no idea that there was also a program for people dealing with the issue of underearning.

If you think about it, in simplistic terms, an addiction is anything that habitually gets in the way of experiencing a full life.  Whether it’s an addiction to drugs and alcohol, to food, to shopping or to social media, when you use something to escape or avoid the normal trials and tribulations of life, you may need to take a deeper look at what’s going on.

Per the Underearners Anonymous guidelines, the symptoms of underearning include things like an indifference to time, undervaluing and underpricing your services, as well as misplaced guilt or shame.  As with any addiction, I was really happy to see that if someone needs help, they can find support group meetings and literature to guide them as they recover from their issues.

For this episode though , the definition for underearning that I’m going to use came from Brooke Castillo who explains that, “underearning is earning less than you are capable of earning, when you desire to earn more”.  The emphasis being on the words “capable” and “desire”.

So in using this definition, you can have the capability to earn more, but if you don’t have the desire, you may or may not be underearning, depending on whether it’s a conscious decision or not.  In other words, you might not be underearning if you’re happy with the balance you have in your life and you honestly aren’t struggling or wanting financially.

As a working mom, there’s nothing wrong with having a good education, being a professional and a mom, and not wanting to advance your career any further than it already is.  Being content with where you are is great if that’s honestly what you want.

But if you are among the many working moms that I talk to and coach, that know they are smart and capable, have the desire to earn more, yet can’t figure out why they’re underearning and how to stop, then this episode is for you.  There is no shame in having an issue with underearning, it’s just important to first acknowledge that it might be a problem for you.

This week I’m going to discuss what causes underearning so you can recognize it and what to do to stop it.

What causes underearning

The issue with underearning is that you can often look outside yourself for things to blame and for external justifications.  As a working mom and an accountant, it can be easy to look at the statistics for women in the accounting profession and assume that there’s just no use in trying to earn more.

But this overarching belief that it’s not worth it, or that money really isn’t that important anyway, is part of the problem.  If you honestly experience a good deal of worry when it comes to money, then it’s important to understand that underearning is only making your concerns and your stress worse.

The anxiety that comes from not being able to pay your bills, to provide for your family, or to have more financial security, is one of the biggest struggles that working moms regularly deal with.  Unfortunately, it can seem like there’s no way around it other than to accept what you are currently earning and just be grateful you have a job.

I want to be clear that I’m all for being grateful, but only when it’s used wisely and actually gets you the results you want.  It’s great to surround yourself with gratitude, especially during this current pandemic, but when gratitude leads to inaction or selling yourself short, it’s not actually helpful.

By understanding what causes underearning, you really can take your power back, have more control over your earning potential, and decrease the frustration that often comes with underearning.  Basically, when you change the cause, you change the effect.

One of the most insidious causes of underearning for working moms is undervaluing yourself.  A lack of self-confidence mixed with a heaping cup of self-judgement, and sprinkled with some limiting beliefs about money, is the perfect recipe for underearning.

Most of the women I speak to were raised to believe, over many generations, that it was the man’s job to support the woman and that if she worked outside the home, it was for the “extras”.  They were taught that they had a supporting role, not a major role, in the earning potential of the family.

The issue is that with a lack of self-confidence, you actually create a lack of options for yourself.  By undervaluing yourself, you settle for less than you deserve, constantly look for outside validation, and often end up giving away a lot of your time and talent in positions that you are overqualified for.    

Another sneaky thing that can cause and support underearning is being frugal; in a deprivation type of way, as opposed to a conscious, deliberate choice type of way.  In the deprivation, scarcity way, you believe that if you just pare down and limit your expenses to the bare bones, then you won’t have to push yourself to make more money.

This scarcity mindset actually supports underearning because instead of focusing on making more money and dealing with the challenges of overcoming underearning, you are creating a false sense of comfort.  You wind up believing that If you just take out more loans or create a stricter, more frugal spending budget, then looking at how and why you might be underearning isn’t necessary.

An additional cause of underearning is not seeking opportunities to grow where you are, or looking at other possible options.  It’s much easier to accept what is, settle, and play small, rather than challenge yourself and push beyond your comfort zone.

I speak to so many intelligent working moms who feel trapped in their current situation, not being able to see that there are so many more possibilities than they’ve allowed themselves to believe.  Whether it’s what they were told as young girls, or what they’ve experienced up until now in the accounting profession, they are confused and unaware of what’s possible. 

Even if you are in a relationship where your partner could support the whole family financially, using other people and situations to support the reason that you’re underearning is really a cop out.  You have to acknowledge that you are a smart, capable woman who can use her skills, time and talent to discover ways to add value and make more money.    

Some other causes of underearning include not having goals, not strategizing, doubting too much, looking to the past as evidence of what’s possible for the future, giving up too easily, indulging in overwhelm, not asking for help – you get the drift.  But now that you know some of the causes, let’s focus on what to do to stop underearning.

How to stop underearning

If you now have the awareness that you are underearning and what might be causing it, then it’s important to know that there are things you can do to stop.  Remember, the definition I’m using for underearning is “earning less than you are capable of earning, when you desire to earn more.”

The first thing I suggest is taking an honest look at the excuses or justifications you have for underearning.  The justification that I have heard from clients include:

  • My boss won’t give me a raise
  • There aren’t any good jobs out there
  • I live in a small town
  • Companies don’t want to hire working moms
  • I don’t know enough about (fill in the blank)
  • Clients won’t pay higher fees

If you have been underearning for awhile, these justifications might seem completely true, but the key is understanding that if that justification isn’t serving you, you actually get to challenge it.  Challenging a justification means being open to being wrong, in order to get the results you really want.

For example, if your justification for underearning is that your boss won’t give you a raise, then you have to be honest about whether you have considered talking with them again, or coming up with ways on your own to add value.  If you looked at your ability to earn as an exchange of value for money, then how could you be more purposeful with your time, effort and skills in order to create more value?

The key is knowing that when you have believed your justifications for quite awhile, your brain will look for evidence to prove that your belief is true, whether it’s helpful or not.  To stop underearning you need to challenge each justification by asking questions like, “Is that true?” or “What if I’m wrong about that?”

For example, if your justification is that companies don’t want to hire working moms, you can ask yourself, “Is that true?” or “Can I absolutely know that that’s true?” and sit for a few minutes in those questions.  What trips up a lot of working moms is assuming that just because you have a belief, you then conclude that it’s an irrefutable fact; so be willing to be wrong about your justifications and allow your brain to look for evidence of the opposite.

At CPA MOMS we match companies and entrepreneurs with talented accountant moms, so we know first hand that the underearning justification that companies don’t want to hire working moms is false.  When you challenge each justification, you will be pleasantly surprised by how much evidence there is to refute it, if you look for it.

The second thing that you can do to stop underearning is to stop undervaluing yourself, your intelligence, and your capabilities.  It can be challenging at first, but in order to stop underearning you need to stop underestimating what it takes to be a working mom and an accountant, and start looking for all the ways that you are more capable than you give yourself credit for.

You have to own your intelligence and your abilities, instead of focusing on all the ways you don’t measure up.  As an accountant, there are always going to be things to learn and ways to become more valuable to the companies you work for or the clients you serve, therefore, it’s important to decide what your future vision is, rather than looking to the past for evidence of whether it’s possible or not.

Stop for a second and think about this – when was the last time you asked yourself how much you want to make, without dismissing the idea?  The truth is that, up until this point, you’ve been making a certain amount of money based on your beliefs about what’s possible.

In other words, you’ve unconsciously created a ceiling in your mind of what you can earn, and the amount of money you currently make is the result of that ceiling.  If you want to stop underearning, you have to raise the roof and challenge yourself to take the actions necessary to earn what you truly desire to earn.    

The key is to start being more open and vocal about the amount of money you want to make, without judgment, or fear about what other people will think.  Money needs to stop being such a taboo subject for women, especially for working moms.

I can tell you from my clients experience that what’s holding you back is fear, shame and the avoidance of feeling uncomfortable.  But as I’ve shared in previous episodes, uncomfortability is the currency for your growth; getting comfortable with being uncomfortable is how you create something better for yourself and for your family.

As a working mom, it’s important to stop hiding from discussions about your worth and about money, so that your children can learn how to break the cycle of underearning as well.  If you don’t want to repeat the past, you have to consider a different future for you and for them.

If you are ready to draw the line in the sand and stop underearning, CPA MOMS is here to support you and your family.  Whether it’s with opportunities, support, training, or coaching, you don’t have to do this alone when you are a part of the CPA MOMS family.

 

Summary  

  • There is no shame in having an issue with underearning, it’s just important to first acknowledge that it might be a problem for you.
  • The issue with underearning is that you can often look outside yourself for things to blame and for external justifications
  • If you now have the awareness that you are underearning and what might be causing it, then it’s important to know that there are things you can do to stop.
  • As an accountant, there are always going to be things to learn and ways to become more valuable to the companies you work for or the clients you serve, therefore, it’s important to decide what your future vision is, rather than looking to the past for evidence of whether it’s possible or not.

Dealing With Difficult Clients

Dealing With Difficult Clients

When it comes to the complicated world of being an accountant in 2020, it would seem like there’s enough to have to deal with, with PPP loans, the ever changing Tax Code and economic uncertainty.  It doesn’t seem fair to also have to deal with difficult clients on top of everything else, but in a service based industry like accounting, there’s really no way to avoid it.

Unfortunately, no matter how well you screen potential clients or how long you’ve had a pleasant relationship with them, clients can be difficult at times.  It doesn’t matter how big or small your practice is, or what types of businesses you provide your services to, there is no guarantee that you’re not going to have to deal with difficult clients along the way.

But let’s face it, you naturally wouldn’t be in the business you’re in if all of your clients were challenging, but when you do have client issues, it can be very draining on you emotionally as well as on your time and effort.  No matter how good you are, dealing with a difficult client can take a toll on your productivity and increase your level of stress.

As we are all living in more challenging times than ever, those easy-going clients that may have never been an issue in the past, might start showing up as more problematic than before.  It’s important to be prepared because the more stress your clients are under, the more challenging they might become for you.

Since having a balanced life is probably important to you as well, learning the strategies for dealing with difficult clients can really bring more equilibrium to your work and personal life.  It can be hard to leave your work issues at work, which means difficult clients can often affect how you are at home as well.

As a working mom, when you feel overwhelmed, frustrated or angry with a client, that can often affect your level of stress when you’re with family.  Before you know it, you’re overwhelmed, frustrated and angry at your spouse or children, without seeing the connection between the two.

As an accountant, it’s even more important to learn how to successfully deal with difficult clients because when emotions get high, intelligence gets low.  Being able to manage your workload, your productivity and your technical competency is directly affected by how you feel towards your clients.

You can always pre qualify new clients or have clear engagement letters, but that doesn’t insulate you from having to deal with challenging clients.  Unfortunately there is no magic filtering system to guarantee you’ll always have cooperative, patient, or appreciative clients. 

Since it’s not always prudent or possible to fire difficult clients, it’s important to understand how to handle them in a way that supports your bottom line, as well as theirs.  With the tools I’m going to share, you’ll be able to manage all of your clients, difficult or not. 

This week I’m going to discuss the major categories of difficult clients, the main causes of stress around difficult clients and a tool to help you deal with them.

 
 

The major categories of difficult clients

If you attended an accounting conference and asked for a show of hands of how many accountants had difficult clients, I don’t think there would be many unraised hands.  There are so many ways that clients can get on your last nerve, but here are just a few of the major categories that you might have found:

  • Clients not happy with the work you produced – whether your client knows much about finance and accounting or not, these clients challenge things like the quarterly Financial Statements, the amounts you project for their quarterly estimates or the fact that you didn’t deduct the $50,000 season tickets to their favorite sports team as advertising.
  • Clients not happy with your pace – no matter what time of year it is, or how slowly they send you the information you need, these clients want you to wave a magic wand and have their work done as soon as they decide it should be done.
  • Clients not happy with your opinion – with these clients, there’s usually something they’re considering, they ask you for your opinion, you explain that in your professional opinion that they shouldn’t do or purchase that thing, and they wind up angry with your answer.
  • Clients who wait until the last minute – we all have clients that forget a thing or two every once in a while, but these difficult clients are the ones who are notoriously late and increasingly demanding on top of it.

Most accountants dealing with difficult clients would also describe them as stressful, wearisome, irritating or hard-won.  I’m sure there are plenty more categories and descriptors that you could come up with as well, but there’s no denying it – difficult clients are nothing new to accountants.

What might be new to you though, is a better understanding of what stresses you out about your clients and makes those clients feel so difficult.  If you have been following this podcast, you might already know the answer to “What makes my clients feel so difficult?”, but if not, let me explain.

 
 

The main causes of stress around difficult clients

The key to understanding what makes your clients feel so difficult, actually has nothing to do with the client, and everything to do with your thoughts about the client and how they should be different.  This can be a hard pill to swallow, but I assure you that it can make a huge difference for how you deal with difficult clients, especially the ones that aren’t going anywhere, any time soon.

First let me be clear that I’m not saying that you shouldn’t fire a client that’s being a jerk or one that’s not valuing you as their accountant; there are definitely times when walking away from a difficult client is in your best interest.  But what I am saying, and what I’ll share with you, is that whenever you are feeling stressed about another person, client or not, it’s because you are resisting the way that they are.

You’ll know this is what’s happening when you feel predominantly more anger or frustration towards that person.  It’s important to understand that the reason you feel anger and frustration is because you’re having thoughts about how this person needs to change their behavior and how they shouldn’t be the way they are.

When it comes to your difficult clients, basically you are resisting the way the client is and wishing they would talk, act or behave differently.  When they don’t, you probably have thoughts like:

  • It’s crazy that they want my permission to do something that is blatantly not allowed by the Tax Code!
  • Their impatience is ridiculous and is getting me more frustrated.
  • How rude that they ask for my opinion and then do the complete opposite.
  • It’s ridiculous that they wait until the last minute and then expect me to get it done right away.

I’m sure you could add a lot more to this list of possible thoughts about difficult clients, but the point is that thoughts like these are exactly what’s causing you anger, frustration and stress.  Thoughts about how the client should behave or how they should be different than they are is why you are frustrated, which then slows down your productivity, your ability to focus, and then why you wind up bringing that stress home to your family.

As I said before, sometimes it’s smart and feasible to fire a difficult client, but during this time of mental, emotional and economic stress, don’t be surprised when you are faced with more difficult clients than ever before.  Your easy-going, easy to please, favorite clients might be showing up completely different now that they’ve been dealing with the pandemic changes to their businesses and their home life.

To help you deal with any relationship conflict, I’m going to share a tool that can help you with anyone, especially with difficult clients.  When it’s just not possible to walk away, this tool will help you handle them better.

 
 

A tool to help you deal with difficult clients

This might be the first time you are really taking a look at how many difficult clients you have, what the challenges are, and how they make you feel, but that is a really great place to start because white-knuckling it with those clients probably hasn’t been working for you.  Thankfully, there is a much better way. 

The powerful tool I’m going to share with you is called The Manual, taught by The Life Coach School.  The idea behind The Manual is that we all have these unwritten instruction manuals for how other people should behave, in order for us to feel good.

If you think about it, you probably have Manuals for your children, partner, family members and friends, to name just a few.  There’s nothing to be ashamed of when you realize you have Manuals for people in your life; we all do.

My Manuals have included things my children should and shouldn’t do so I can feel like I’m a good mom, ways my ex-husband should behave so that we can co-parent, and things my boss should stop doing so I’m not frustrated with him.  My Manuals have also included how my clients should and shouldn’t behave so that I can service them in the best way possible and not be stressed out.

The key with this tool is knowing that your Manuals for your difficult clients are what make you feel angry and frustrated with them, because you want them to be different than they currently are.  But let’s be honest – it doesn’t matter what you think, because they’re going to think, act and behave the way they do, whether you resist it or not.

If you think about it, they also have their own Manual for you.  They’re Manual for their accountant probably has things like “My accountant should be okay with me handing in documents whenever I can”, “My accountant should agree with my brilliant ideas” or “The customer is always right and I’m a paying customer”.

What happens is that they’re acting out of their Manual for you and you’re angry and frustrated that they’re not acting out of your Manual for them.  The hard truth is that you can’t change the client, just like you can’t really change anyone else.

As with any relationship, you can make requests of the other person, but it’s really important to not put your emotional peace and happiness on someone else’s behavior.  With the awareness of the Manuals you have, you have the ability to take back your power and to feel less angry, frustrated and stressed.

To help clarify this, let’s just say that you had been told ahead of time that you’re going to do interesting work, get paid really well, work with great people, but you’ll also have some difficult clients – would you have taken the job?  The answer is almost always yes, but the difference is that you would have had an expectation that certain clients were going to act in a certain way.

With this awareness, you wouldn’t be upset when these difficult clients showed up acting the way you were told that they would.   The key though is in the expectation, and in thoughts like “This client always acts this way” or “This is just part of my job”.

One of the ways I learned to deal with difficult clients was to look at them as you would an innocent toddler.  You wouldn’t think it was wrong or take it personally when a toddler fell down as they were learning to walk, threw a tantrum when they wanted something, or was picky with their food; it would just be what toddlers do and it can be applied to your difficult clients as well.

With one of my notoriously late and difficult clients, I decided to think, “Dan always sends his tax information in late.  That’s just Dan being Dan.”  To be angry and frustrated at Dan, year in and year out, was a waste of my time and energy, and only came from the Manual I had for Dan.

I suggest that if you feel angry or frustrated with a client, notice that what’s upsetting you is your belief about how they should act, and acknowledge that you have zero control over changing that.  I recommend that you then practice thinking a thought that helps you to accept who they are like, “This is just Mary being Mary” or “Of course Joe didn’t listen to me”.

When you drop your Manuals for your difficult clients, you also open yourself up to the opportunity to evaluate your policies and procedures.  Maybe there are certain boundaries that need to be put in place or certain changes that need to be made on your end that you hadn’t considered.

With these difficult times, don’t be surprised if you are faced with having to deal with more and more difficult clients.  But with some awareness and some work you now have the tool to help you handle anyone, at any time.

 
 

Summary  

  • Unfortunately, no matter how well you screen potential clients or how long you’ve had a pleasant relationship with them, clients can be difficult at times.
  • It can be hard to leave your work issues at work, which means difficult clients can often affect how you are at home as well.
  • The key to understanding what makes your clients feel so difficult, actually has nothing to do with the client, and everything to do with your thoughts about the client and how they should be different.