2014 Gadgets Wish List

Here we go again, is it really that time already?  As temps drop well below the liking of this Georgia boy, I’ve prepped my wish list for Santa this year.  As always, my gift list is full of gadgets.  Hope there’s something you and yours will love.

Amazon Fire TV/Fire Stick


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2014 Holiday Reading List

Holidays represent a lot of different things to different people. One thing they represent to me is a little more leisure time that I like to spend reading. There is something special about it being cold(er) outside – a hot cup of coffee (or toddy) in one hand and a book (or kindle) in the other hand. I relish these times each year, and thought it a perfect opportunity to share what is/has/will be on my reading list to I recommend for other folks to check out.

*Disclaimer – I don’t read fiction, so I am sure there are some good fiction books out there, but I don’t know of them.

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Book Review: Zero To One

What would it be like to have coffee with Peter Thiel (the author + founder of Paypal), John Maynard Keynes, and ‘insert cliche philosopher name here’?

That’s what this book feels like, and it’s a beautiful recipe for a delightful and thought-provoking read. It deviates from your normal book on entrepreneurship (thankfully) and challenges assumptions that many (Roy) take for granted.

It starts off asking “what valuable company is nobody building?” It continues to dive into deeper macro thinking on commoditization, globalization, the .COM crash, the clean-tech crash, what makes a ‘happy company’, and how computers/robots will never replace humans.

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Unplugging This Holiday + Stop Getting More Dumb

I recently broke out some of my old musings. While thumbing through these old journals and blogs, I had an extremely humbling thought – I was more intelligent back then. This is extremely discouraging. As a ‘rising professional’, I pride myself on: getting better at what I do, learning from my mistakes, gaining mastery over my domain, etc. I have always assumed this would mean that my intelligence, along with my ability to reason, would grow with my career or life advancement. However, this is very far from the truth. A case could even be made that as one narrows down on a trade/skill, they grow increasingly unaware of everything outside of that domain, thus they are “more dumb” in other areas of life.

“No duh,” you say, “Roy, why has it taken you so long to figure this out?” Once you specialize (which increases your value), get real responsibilities (family, career, mortgage, etc.), and toss in diminishing zeal (your age), and this is the net/net. Deal with it!

Screw that. I hate that.

And thus, here I am with this growing paranoia that I am becoming less

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Book Review: The Hard Thing About Hard Things

This is a pretty popular book amongst tech CEOs, and based on my conversations with ‘not that’ person, the book seems to be flying under the radar. It shouldn’t. It’s relevant across all verticals despite its briefer history of time approach through the last 20 years of technology.

**History buffs will like the story-telling, and 20-30 somethings will learn a lot about the olden days of the Internet.

Simply put – this book is a no-brainer (actually takes a fair amount of brains to read and ponder) and a must read for all aspiring CEOs, wannabe CEOs, executives (present or future), and anyone who wants to know how their boss thinks and/or should be thinking.

This pretty much sums up anyone with any kind of ambition to lead people…thus, I could have just said that.

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Thomson Reuters Users’ Conference in Review

Xcentric attended, spoke at and sponsored the Thomson Reuters (TR) Users’ Conference again this year, and it was a blast. Held in DC at the Gaylord (great hotel; feels like you are outside – great place for a conference). Here is a simple review of take-a-ways and factoids.

*Keep in mind I am not a user of TR software since I am not intelligent enough to be a CPA.

1,300 were in attendance; 50% of the firms present were in TR’s Virtual Office
To get a quick glimpse of all of their happenings, check out the twitter feed from the event – click here
TR (like CCH) outsourced the development of their conference mobile device app – made for a good experience, and this is how you checked in/out of sessions to get CPE. Those with Windows Mobile had to go with old-school paper (Our Director of Consulting, Roman, being one of those…we should buy him an iPhone)
TR is rolling out an interesting set of consulting services for smaller firms called Practice Forward. Be on the look out for more details.

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Favorite Apps for Accountants

The auditing profession has always required mobility and has been on the forefront of promoting mobile business technology, whether it be “luggable” computers, dial-up modems, or digital trial balance applications. The advent of the Internet greatly expanded the opportunities for digital auditing such that personnel could be connected to every resource they needed from any location and, today, on any mobile device, which has expanded to include smartphones and tablets as effective business tools. The common denominator for all these devices has been the ability to access resources and run applications that make accountants more efficient across multiple platforms. Beyond the core accounting programs, there is a slew of applications (“apps”) that enhance productivity and make life more interesting. This month, we share a number of our favorites that we feel are worth a look!

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Protecting Your BYOD Exposure

Bring your own device (BYOD) is becoming the standard in accounting firms as we not only allow our personnel to connect to firm data from their home computers, but also access email and other firm applications on personal tablets and smartphones.  When one of these devices gets lost or stolen, or if an employee is terminated, it is the responsibility of the firm to remove all firm and client data.  Not all firms have implemented a BYOD policy and their plan to deal with errant devices is to remotely wipe them in their entirety.  Unfortunately, this can lead to erasing the employee’s personal data, music, and pictures which can have unintended consequences if those files are not backed up.  In a recent INSIDE Public Accounting article, a scenario was shared where an employee could have Bitcoin “digital currency” on their smartphone that would disappear with all their other personal data if the smartphone were remotely wiped (which again is the most common resolution firms have in place).  This has led larger businesses to implement COPE policies (corporate owned, personally

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CCH User Conference 2014 in Review

Xcentric attended the CCH User Conference last week and, as always, had a great time. 

If you are a CCH firm, it definitely needs to be added to your list to attend, and I strongly encourage you to send ‘younger staff’ and/or people who will champion knowledge of the products so they can spread the knowledge. Great to see clients! Great to meet new folks too!

A quick and not-too-detailed recap (keep in mind I am not a power user of CCH software, since I am a lowly sales/marketing guy, so I can’t speak to that side of the conference):

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