Accounting Unplugged

Frustrated Commenter

Posted in Uncategorized by Erin Lawlor on the December 4th, 2008

I just finished with one of my favorite guilty pleasures.  I listen to a weekly podcast done by a couple of guys that started a new site/service for programmers called stackoverflow.  Since I am not a programmer, I feel a little bit like a voyeur listening to their podcasts but they are really smart and they talk about the human aspects of programming that are easily relatable.

I stumbled upon a blog called Joel on Software a couple of years ago and have been a fan and a reader ever since.  So, when the writer, Joel Spolsky, partnered up with Jeff Atwood ( for this new site, I was curious and when I started listening to their weekly podcasts (they’ve done 32 as of this writing) I was hooked.

This week, their podcast included a topic that I wanted to talk about and relate to my experience in writing my “blog”.  I encourage you to follow the link above for stackoverflow and listen to the latest podcast (at least starting at about 34:45 and ending at about 55:15) the discussion is very insightful.

The topic I want to write about is how to stay positive after receiving negative feedback.  Actually, I have received both good and bad feedback for my site, I try to give them equal consideration.  I received one comment that told me my site was poo.  My initial reaction to that comment was that the person was just mean because clearly, my site is not poo to me.  But then I tried to be more open to what that person might be trying to tell me.  Perhaps that person was looking for a quick answer to a question and was frustrated because it is likely that there are no quick answers here.   In that sense, I failed the frustrated commenter.

The negative comment caused me to evaluate my writing more than any positive comment would.  I am still not a quick answer person but I do try to keep in mind that posts that are too wordy are boring and unhelpful.  My conclusion is that instead of allowing negative comments to hurt your feelings, step back and take another look and decide what there is to be learned from them.  Don’t dwell on the negative, instead, appreciate the opportunity to learn from it.  Applying this philosophy to the negative feedback you receive in life – including unsuccessful sales, job interviews or blogs can only help you to improve and become more successful.

To address the frustrated commenter, the only possible way I can give a quick answer is to have a clear question first.  I invite/encourage you to put your questions in the comment section.   It is likely that either I or other readers will be able to provide an answer that will be helpful for you.

Add Value

Posted in 6. Operations by Erin Lawlor on the December 1st, 2008

<< How to Use Financials and Ratios

Businesses live or die on the value of their products and services.   Similarly, individuals and departments within businesses survive on the value of their internal products.  Accounting is no different.  Accounting provides both services and products that add value to an organization.

The most important thing in accounting is to understand accounting and your own accounting systems.  But, if you want to truly succeed, think beyond debits, credits and reconciliations and become an expert in your company’s industry.   Financial accounting knowledge transfers fairly seamlessly from one business to another but specific industry and management accounting knowledge may not and it is through that kind of knowledge that you can add value to your organization.

Research your industry, spend time with operations people, become familiar with what their processes are and the order in which they occur.   Learn how they use their information systems, understand the logic behind both the information they track and the order in which that information is organized.  Become familiar with the way your systems interact, how they are dependent on each other and how they are independent of each other.   Find out from them what information they have and what information they wish they could have.  Ask them if they use reports from accounting, if so, do they find them to be reliable, timely and useful.  (Always make sure to have the appropriate permissions for internal research).

As an accountant you perform the financial functions that keep a business going but you are also the custodian of a wide variety of business information.  In addition to standard accounting data, you have access to information about lenders, suppliers, customers and operations.  As you increase your understanding of your company and industry you will increase your understanding of the information available to you.   Find ways to increase and improve the information you can make available to your company and you will have a real impact on its success and on the value you add to it.

© 2008-2010 Erin Lawlor

<< How to Use Financials and Ratios

**disclaimer: All information posted on this blog is from my own experience and training. The guidelines I present are general and in my experience, standard practice. I do not write with authority from any Accounting Standards Boards.