I recently had two great opportunities to be with two groups of emerging leaders and young professionals to talk about ‘The Bounce” – Elevating and Accelerating their Career Trajectories in the Age of Abundance and wanted to share some insights with you. First was at the #AICPAEDGE Conference at #AICPAENGAGE in Las Vegas and second was  our MACPA Beach Retreat in Ocean City, MD. Together it was over a hundred emerging leaders.

Let’s start with what our thoughts are around careers in Finance and Accounting we call The Bounce!’. The Bounce is that crucial turning point where you move from being an individual contributor to a manager of people and projects and that point requires new skills, or what we at BLI call ‘success skills’. This turning point is a chance to accelerate your career trajectory by increasing what and how you are learning. This turning point is also coming earlier in your career than in the past. It used to be around five years into the accounting career – today it is much closer to two or even one year in.

Here are my top five principles to elevate and accelerate your career:

  1. Know yourself – Strengths & Values – Leading in exponential times requires you to ‘know thyself’ more than ever. We like the Gallup Strengths Assessment and the VIA – Values in Action as our foundational surveys both off which are covered in our Leadership Academy program.
  2. Understand Anticipation & Innovation  – Due to the accelerating pace of business being driven by the exponential hard trends of technology, we have to master two new competencies – how to anticipate and how to innovate. These skills are trainable but do not occur naturally to most accounting and finance professionals. We have built learning that addresses the #futureready mindset, skillset and toolset to master these competencies.
  3. Embrace Digital – #FriendWatson – Exponential technologies like artificial intelligence, ,machine learning, big data, and even blockchain are critical to our future success and we need to start learning about these now. Understanding the lates cloud applications are a great place to start. One young professional said it this way, “I need to ‘friend’ IBM Watson, as in the Facebook term of friending people to make connections. Yes, IBM Watson does have a Facebook page you can start with.
  4. L>C2 – Your Learning Curve is Your Earning Curve – We like to say that in this period of rapid change and increasing complexity, the winners will be those who can keep their rate of learning greater than the rate of change and greater than the competition or L>C2.
  5. The Collaboration Curve > Experience Curve – First introduced in HBR by the authors of the Power of Pull (Hagel, Sealy-Brown and Davison) in 2009, collaboration has gained in importance in this age of information overload and social networks. The latest thinking is around the power of collaboration in professional service firms by author Heidi Gardner and her latest book on Smart Collaboration. Our version involves understanding a powerful management tool we call #MBSN or Management any Sticky Notes. (see our infamous post and video here about the Year of the Sticky Note).

I wrapped up with some inspiration from Carol Dweck of Growth Mindset fame and her latest thinking about the power of Yet! She says that too often we evaluate success or failure with a grade and she offers up the idea of grading yourself, ‘Not yet’, recognizing a learning curve on the path to mastery may take more time and practice. In other words don’t take the failure as the ‘can’t do’ as in a fixed mindset but ‘Not Yet’ recognizing that a little more learning, effort and coaching, you can do it!

While you night not have time to do all of these right away, pick one and start today, then budget an hour a week to continue working on your career plan. After all, you are the CEO of You, Inc.!

More resources:

MACPA / BLI Leadership Academy on August 15-17 in Towson, MD

Top 8 skills for finance and accounting professionals

The Top 10 Technology Hard Trends Facing Accounting and Finance Professionals

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