Here Comes the CPA

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I was thinking, for some reason, this morning about the movie Catch Me If You Can, with Leonardo Di Caprio and Tom Hanks. In the movie, Leonardo’s character impersonates a lawyer. In order to do so he has to pass the state bar exam. This is the only thing that Tom Hanks’ character can’t figure out. Leo finally tells him that he just studied for two weeks and passed. My wife is a lawyer and is dubious of that claim.

Be that as it may, I have always been able to learn things from books. I learn them so well, that I can retain most of it and can therefore pass tests pretty well too. I got a certification in Netware back in the day, having never touched the product (just read the study book). I also got a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) certification without taking any of the classes. More recently, I was able to get my Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certification by just taking the “accelerated” courses my firm offered. The “regular” course of study is over 3 years and the accelerated took just 12 months. The catch is that I quit before we finished, so I did the last 3 classes on my own. Although I signed up for online training I never did anything but read the books they sent me and do the practice questions. I passed the first time out. The failure rate on that test is something like 45% and over 50% for first timers, so it’s nothing to sneeze at.

Business Coaching & Business Consulting, but no paper skills

The reason this is intriguing to me is that we offer business and management consulting and coaching. What makes us different is that our techniques and procedures are very much grounded in real world tangible every day skills whereas most others offering similar services seem to work with much more “soft” skills. For example, a manager getting the advantage of our coaching gets real tips on how to manage his people. After all, this is what being a manager is all about. When I say “real tips,” I mean actual language that can be used to diffuse a situation or actual disciplinary actions that should be taken and so on. Others ofter “team building” or “goal setting.” Don’t get me wrong, we do that too, but that is where we start, not where we end.

So, what is the deal with the movie? Despite the experience and skills that we bring to the table, and the much more useful and sought after techniques we use, we don’t necessarily have the kinds of things that certain people look for on paper. For example, my experience comes from consulting and contracting in dozens of companies and seeing many management styles and many failed business strategies. But, my degree is in Biochemistry, and my only job title that matches the service is my current one. (I’ve done plenty of this type of thing before, but my title was always something more technical.) So, to certain people (usually those who have never met us, but who have to sign off on the request) it doesn’t look like we have the proper stature. Enter the CPA.

CPA = Big Paper Skills

The CPA exam is a multi-part exam which has multiple study guides availible for it. I don’t know everything, but I know plenty about business, math, taxes, and so on. I’m not saying I already know everything, but I do have a very firm grounding in the concepts. Using the aforementioned learning from reading skill, I’m confident I can pass the CPA exams and then put on that piece of paper that I have not only real world experience, but also that I am a Certified Public Accountant. I’ve got some research to do, but hopefully this is something I can make happen in between my four businesses, the book I want to write, the products I want to market, and …

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