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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Secrets of an organized supermom

Today, Teri Kaye will be my guest blogger. Teri balances being a mom to three, helping her husband run a business and advancing at her CPA firm. How does she do it? Read on.

Nine years ago I was hired by the accounting firm of Friedman Cohen Taubman & Company (FCT) in Plantation as the first “manager”. Before me, there were staff and partners.

At first the partners gave me responsibility in “baby steps”. I could write a letter but not mail it without partner review. Review a tax return but not sign it without partner review. As the partners got more comfortable with my technical knowledge, personality and skill level, I earned more responsibility.

While “proving myself” I became pregnant with my third child. What was supposed to be four months off turned into six months and when I returned it was only for two days a week because my husband’s business was taking off and he needed me.

My husband is an inventor with his own product design and development company, Gizmo Enterprises. At the same time that I was pregnant, he was awarded a very large contract for the development and integration of flight simulators and data collection systems into moving trucks.
Many of the skills I honed in my accounting career were now put to use in two jobs at the same time. I learned quite a bit about production, project management, logistics and how business works in the real world.

While I was helping my husband, I still also was handling the tax and accounting needs of my clients. Everyone had my cell phone and I made sure to reply timely. At the accounting firm we have a web-based system where I can be anywhere in the world and log in, just as if I am at my desk. We also have converted from a traditional paper-based firm to a paper-less one, so everything is scanned and available in the computer.

I also had the support of the entire accounting firm team. When I called them to handle a matter for a client, the matter was handled quickly and correctly.

When my husband increased his inventing time and I increased my days at the firm. I took all the skills and information learned with my husband and applied it to my clients. I now knew so much more about actually running a business – from insurance to human resources to what records actually exist to internal controls and production – than most CPAs will ever know from sitting on only one side of a desk.

I have learned to be flexible. I split my time and professional energy between Gizmo and FCT. When it is tax season, I scale back at Gizmo. When a big project is happening at Gizmo, I scale back at FCT.

I have learned first-hand about successfully bringing a product to market – all the way from the idea to patents and trademarks to production to distributors to store shelves and to winning national awards. I know about expanding a product line, negotiating leases and distributor agreements and much more.

I know that my husband’s company has benefited from my accounting skills and knowledge. I also know that my clients have benefited from what I have learned and lived as a business owner. I have risen in my accounting career working only part-time because I am constantly learning, growing, and expanding my capabilities and I share all of that with my clients.

What have I learned from balancing two different and demanding careers with a marriage and three kids –
*It is not easy, but it is definitely worth all the effort.
*Respond timely to phone calls and emails (even if it is only to say – “I’ll get to that later”).
*Be realistic about how much time each project will take so you don’t over-promise.
*Say no when you need to and stick to it.
*Delegate as much as you can and then follow up to make sure all was done.
*Communicate with your partners, staff and clients so they know what to expect and when.
*Give each task your full effort and then move on to the next one.
*Use technology to your advantage.
*Don’t waste time trying to make a situation work, move on.
*Believe in yourself and your abilities.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not a supermom, she seems to have an over-inflated opinion of herself and no sense of humor. By the way, did her kids get a mention in this blog, I could not read it until the end.

5:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

She seems nice to me.

I too am a working Mom and I find it strange that women are so quick to attack successful women. That is probably why men run everything and people, like the last poster, only sit around and complain.

We need more women working in professional positions and should encourage that. That catty baloney is getting old.

Keep up the good work Teri.

9:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You go girl! I really want to see more postive female role models. I am so tired of seeing women only make the news when they are going to jail for DUI or being a bad girls for the media.

We need more positive role models so our daughters know they have real options instead of thinking they can be rap stars or movie stars.

Daughters can be Moms, engineers and accountants too.


10:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But . . .how does she do it???

Unlike the June post of “Tips from a super-organized mom”, (which, while not exactly tips, at least gave insight into how one busy mom mananges it), there are not only no secrets here, but nothing at all about balancing work/home life. This reads far more like a cover letter to a prospective employer than an article/blog about balancing family and work life.

I have no doubt that Teri is a hardworking, intelligent, organized, savvy business woman, and I do not question her right to believe in herself and be proud of her professional accomplishments.

However: from the premise of this blog, the title of this piece, and Cindy’s intro, I expected to read about how this woman balances motherhood/marriage/professional life - and this piece simply does not deliver the goods. It doesn’t even begin to. How can it, when this ‘supermom’ barely even gives her offspring a passing mention? And even that sole brief mention comes when she discussing what was going on with her work life at the CPA firm - when she became pregnant with her third child.

That’s it???!!!???!!! That's all we get to read about the three children? Hello, where’s the balance?

The only thing I learned about balance in Teri’s life at all - and it never addressed the balance between family & work life whatsoever - was how incredibly lucky she is (or has been thus far) that both her jobs allow enough flexibility that when demand is higher at one, she can scale back at the other . How many people are fortunate enough to have that kind of situation? But . . .Teri, what happens if & when you husband’s business comes into a high-need time during tax time? What will happen to your balance then?

And again: where’s the family? Where’s your role as mother in all this?

Perhaps next time we will get, if not any genuine ‘secrets’, at least some description of how a woman really does balance it all ~ not merely a litany of one’s work experience.

And I feel I really need to mention this: one thing Teri says she’s learned I would advise she unlearn as quickly as possible. She says she’s learned, “don’t waste time trying to make a situation work, move on”. That approach is a recipe for disaster in child-rearing or marriage, and certainly not a recipe for success in most business situations either! While learning how to determine/recognize if a situation is worth spending time making work, or if it would be better to move on, is certainly an excellent skill, her approach (if this indeed is really what she does) is ill-advised.

12:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

She clearly did it with a HUGE amount of support from her employers. This the key to being able to be a successful Mum. All to often see career women with children as a burden as they have to work from home more often, or take time out to take children to doctors, the key is an understanding and supportive employer.

7:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't see any secrets! And I didn't see anything about her kids. What was this supposed to tell us????

3:09 PM  

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