It’s that time of year again… a new year, and time for New Year’s resolutions. I thought about what I wanted to do with this year and how I could improve myself, but I lacked inspiration, so as usual I turned to Google.
The first thing I found was a list of the ten most common New Year’s resolutions. They were all excellent, but all of them are things I already strive for on a daily basis: spending more time with loved ones, getting more organized, exercising, eating healthy, etc. I remained uninspired.
After spending more time in attempts to find a resolution, I stumbled upon the million-dollar question: Why do I even need to make a new year’s resolution? What makes January 1st so special in that it’s the only time of year to make a new resolution and improve myself? I knew there had to be a reason resolutions exist, otherwise, why is this custom worldwide?
After contemplating these questions (and doing some research of course), I found my answers. The magic of a new year is that it inspires us to dream big. We tend to get stuck in the monotony of day-to-day life. There is just something about a new year that breaks that cycle. It helps us realize that “if we did all the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves” -Thomas Edison.
The promise of new beginnings allows us the opportunity to shoot for the stars and remove the cynicism that seeps into our lives as the year progresses. Kristi Hedges from Forbes Magazine said, “we’ve been trained to be critical and think small. We’re cautious of new ideas and motives, and we wait for the other shoe to drop. We get a lot of social reinforcement for this posture by being heralded as savvy, analytical, and smart.” Continue reading New Year’s Revolutions→
A co-worker of mine once warned me “beware of the person you may become.” I wasn’t by any means doing anything wrong, so don’t let that counsel change your impression of me. However, the idea that my actions today will escalate and snowball, forging either a respectable creature or a leviathan, haunts me. Aristotle said that “excellence is a habit.” Conversely, I could say that to achieve excellence, I need to practice good habits and that poor habits impede the quest for excellence. When I was given this recommendation though, I merely resolved that I needed to be the man today the man I want to be when I was fifty.
And what constitutes greatness anyways? Little things or big things? In my agenda to continually improve my being, how much can I change in a given year? If I cannot sustain my actions then I have not really accomplished much. I’m still excited that I can remember to floss every other morning (one of the great accomplishments of 2009).
I continue to struggle with what I perceive to be the ideal Paul, I attempt to keep three things in mind every day.
First, as Coach Wooden put it, “What [one] learns after [he’s] learned it all counts most of all.” I see this as a way of saying never stop learning. As an accountant I’ll testify that once I’m done learning, I must be a “finished good.” Hopefully, that means I wouldn’t be a finished good until I’m finished as in buried.
Second, be open-minded. It would be foolish to expect to improve one’s self without considering feedback from others. This advice must be taken with a grain of skepticism; discernment is needed to distinguish between those who look to exalt you and those who are trying to hold you back. Overall, if I enter every conversation knowing that I’m absolutely correct about everything I’ll be missing out on an opportunity to gain insights and perspectives I may not otherwise have. Continue reading Paul: A work in Progress→
My professors tell me the best way to prepare for interviews, is to read newspapers every day. They highlight the importance of being aware of what’s going on with the economy and current events outside of the 40 Acres, because that’s the world we will be living in. When speaking with adults, being able to apply what we are studying to current events creates more stimulating conversation than talking about assignments and grades.
I have accepted this as something I need to do to be successful with recruiting. I thought this was all that I needed to do, until I read a blog by the Young and Frugal highlighting the importance of sports in the business world. They made an excellent point:
“In the real world most people won’t talk politics with you for fear of offending you (or someone else), and not many people want to talk business because that’s what they do all day.”
Sports is something that you can talk about with everyone, and use as a gateway to talk about most anything: from the business of sports, player gossip, personal experiences from playing the game, and locations you have traveled to watch games. It is a topic almost everyone can relate to or have an opinion about, and a great way to join a conversation. In fact, a Green Mangoes blog made an interesting point on the importance of sports in the business world:
“My friend Anna, who is Hungarian, told me once that when she was in school in Hungary, studying English, she took a course on doing business in America. (Maybe that wasn’t the title, but that was the topic.) One of the things they stressed as a key to being successful in business dealings with Americans was to be familiar with the names and current records of sports teams. Because there is no better way ‘in’ than , ‘Hey, how about those [fill in name of appropriate sports team here]? Think they can go all the way this year?’”
To summarize up the underlying reason why sports are essential in business, I would like to go back to the Young and Frugal blog:
“Talking sports is about relationships. The emotional connection that forms between you and “your” team, the relationship that forms with your co-worker because his team is your team’s rival, and the relationship of feeling that if you can have a good conversation with someone about sports, you can have a good conversation with them about anything. On the contrary, when meeting someone who doesn’t follow sports it’s extremely difficult to break the ice and find a common ground. Up- to-date knowledge of sports is a key part of business in today’s world because businesses are about relationships, and sports can be the key to developing strong relationships.”
After this I thought I had what I needed for recruiting down: news and sports. In addition, when I think back to my prior experiences with recruiters, it is true that I have discussed sports and current events many times, but many conversations centered on pop culture like movies, music and TV shows. Talking about these things has the same effect as sports, they help establish relationships. Talking about these things helps me to determine if I could work with someone for over 8 hours a day. If we like the same movies and TV shows, we most likely have very similar senses of humor and personalities.
This revelation helps me in two ways. First, it will help me prepare for recruiting and building relationships. Second, it will help me convince my parents it is essential for me to catch up on all my TV shows over break!
In honor of both my accounting finals being over AND my internship at American Short Fiction coming to a wrap, I am dedicating this post to accounting & fiction. Think of a venn-diagram – “fiction” written into one circle and “accounting” written into the other. Here are just a few names that might reside in that overlap. I’m pretty excited about this attempt…
1) David Foster Wallace, a terrific and ground breaking fiction writer and essayist known for his ginormous book Infinite Jest. His last book was, you guessed it, about accounting. Searching around the NYT for a bit, I found this: “David Foster Wallace and the Literary Tax Accountant”. According to the article, Wallace “pursued tax arcana with an exuberantly obsessive relish.” After enrolling in accounting courses and corresponding with a handful of I.R.S. agents and CPAs, Wallace came up with the world and characters of his posthumously published novel, the Pale King. A plus: his exchanges with various accountants (the brunt of his research) are housed here at the University of Texas at the Harry Ransom Center. Class field trip?
I think that Wallace’s interest in tax accounting /research was genuine. He studied tax accounting with a philosophical interest in system logic and ultimately built his book around the premise that “tax work may be the gateway to transcendent ecstasy.” A bit far fetched and absurd, yes, but let’s think: essentially, within our tax structure lies the minutiae, collective compartments, and number-coded ecosystems of our lives, no? Hmm…
Well now that finals are over, I can say that I’m very excited that I have completed my first semester! It was definitely a challenging week studying for all my finals but now that it’s over I feel accomplished and proud. Kind of like what Paul said – the more effort you put in, the larger the result. I am just hoping and encouraging myself that all of the effort I put in will give me the results I want.
Anyway – not much else to report on right now. Most people (including myself) have left Austin for our month long winter break. I am excited to be home but at the same time, I already miss my MPA friends
I just wanted to mention that although it may seem (from our last slew of posts) that finals are insane, it isn’t really a bad thing. This is probably the most I’ve studied (at all or at least in a really long time), but honestly I am really happy and feel very accomplished. You are not coming to the best accounting program to be a slacker. You are coming to work hard, learn a lot (get your money‘s worth), and get what you can out of your opportunities. Having said that, I’m glad I spent my free week studying to really get the most out of these tests. Finals are just tests. And having almost a week to study for it is a gift – most tests you have to study for in the midst of doing 100 other things.
Also during this break I plan on starting the process of applying and studying for my first CPA section, so I will keep you updated with that process as I get it underway.