Art of Accounting: Overcoming insanity


It has been said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. I am not sure who first said this, but I do not believe it was Albert Einstein, to whom this is often attributed. But it doesn’t matter too much. What matters is the act of continually repeating something, expecting or hoping the result would be different. Well, I just saw this firsthand when two colleagues called me for a reference for someone they wanted to hire.

It was for two different people and they came through a headhunter. One was an audit person and the other a tax person. One caller was a partner in a firm bigger than mine and the other was a partner in a firm of about 20 people. They called me “unofficially” as a friend and not for a formal reference. I indicated to both that they should stay away from each person. This is where the insanity started. Each partner was trying to get me to say one teeny weeny thing good about the applicant that would justify, in their minds and to their partners, that they should hire that person. I refused to play that game and had a discussion with them about why they should not just try to add a body to their practice, but should try to get the right person or at least the right type of person.

My discussion centered around why an experienced “right person” likely did not exist and that they should try to hire recent graduates and train them while moving everyone they presently had up a notch. This conversation was not much different than previous ones with them going back years and years. Each time they settled with getting a body to fill a vacancy to alleviate current pressures without doing anything about providing a method to assure long-term growth.

When I asked them why the headhunter sent them seemingly unqualified people, the response was “that was all that was available.” They wanted the body to fill a slot and were mortgaging their long-term growth to get it.

I could write volumes about why I think this way, but the bottom line is they were hiring people they knew could not help with their hope for long-term growth in order to get some temporary relief. In effect they were doing the same things they always did but were hoping for a different result.


Do not hesitate to contact me at with your practice management questions or about engagements you might not be able to perform.

Edward Mendlowitz, CPA, is partner at WithumSmith+Brown, PC, CPAs. He is on the Accounting Today Top 100 Influential People list. He is the author of 24 books, including “How to Review Tax Returns,” co-written with Andrew D. Mendlowitz, and “Managing Your Tax Season, Third Edition.” He also writes a twice-a-week blog addressing issues that clients have at along with the Pay-Less-Tax Man blog for Bottom Line. He is an adjunct professor in the MBA program at Fairleigh Dickinson University teaching end user applications of financial statements. Art of Accounting is a continuing series where he shares autobiographical experiences with tips that he hopes can be adopted by his colleagues. He welcomes practice management questions and can be reached at (732) 743-4582 or

Products You May Like

Articles You May Like

These 7 Trump properties are at the center of New York’s fraud lawsuit
Tech News: CoralTree releases practice mgmt. portal
Cracker Barrel (CBRL) and Mohawk Industries (MHK): 9/30/2022 Bull & Bear
Best Commercial Utility Cart Options for Your Business
Papa John’s is the latest employer to offer free college for frontline workers

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.