CPAs are busy people. They work long hours, have families and social lives, and their minds are full of tasks to juggle, clients to serve, and deadlines to meet. So when do they have time to improve their practices and processes, as well as entertain and develop themselves?
Some savvy CPAs have figured out a way to gain knowledge and self-improvement in between their other responsibilities by tapping into the world of podcasts—digital audio files that they can listen to almost anywhere via their desktop computers or portable devices.
"Podcasts mean flexibility," said Matthew Briggson, CPA, author, and co-founder of Encoursa in Grand Rapids, Mich. "I can listen to them while driving, working, or working out and I can pause them and come back any time." Podcasts also make certain subjects "more personal," said Elizabeth Pittelkow, CPA/CITP, CGMA, director of accounting and compliance at ArrowStream Inc., in Chicago. "You hear the voice inflections and the passion through the stories of those who are featured on these podcasts."
Briggson, Pittelkow, and others offer the following podcast recommendations for CPAs:
- Stop Focusing on Your Strengths. This podcast, which consists of one episode, is great for CPAs who enjoy self-improvement tips. Offered by the Harvard Business Review, it features an interview with Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, Ph.D., a professor at Columbia University and University College London, and CEO of Hogan Assessments in Tulsa, Okla. The podcast, which focuses on understanding and overcoming weaknesses and making some personal improvements, can help seasoned CPAs "step out of their comfort zone," said Diego J. Baca, CPA, assurance manager at EY in Denver. "This podcast is valuable for experienced CPAs who have been in the industry long enough to understand what their strengths are," he adds. "We are always measuring ourselves against others—but in reality, our biggest competition is ourselves."
- Planet Money. National Public Radio offers this podcast, which features interesting discussions of economic, business, and financial topics, including electronic currency, tax forms, class-action lawsuits, and employee hires. Episodes are around 15 minutes long and often feature guest speakers. "I often reference stories from the podcast as I look for ways to connect what I am teaching in the classroom to the real world," noted Erin Nickell, CPA, Ph.D., assistant professor in the School of Accountancy at the University of Denver. "CPAs will find the Planet Money podcast to be both entertaining and professionally relevant, particularly in terms of the accounting issues that may be tangential to the story's focus."
- The Abacus Show. Hosted by Big Four alumni Bob Berchtold, a CPA and founder of CPA Talent, this accounting-focused podcast covers "everything you need to know to have a successful and fulfilling accounting career," according to the show's website. While the podcast in general is geared toward younger CPAs, it also features interviews with seasoned experts and covers topics that can benefit experienced accountants who, like most professionals, regularly confront tricky problems. Topics include handling public accounting burnout, becoming a small firm tax partner, and keeping up with accounting technology. "Episodes often go into technology advances that can have a significant impact on CPAs, as well as accounting software news and updates," Briggson says.
- Freakonomics Radio. Produced by Dubner Productions and WNYC Studios and hosted by Stephen Dubner, author, journalist, and TV and radio personality, this popular weekly podcast features "surprising conversations that explore the riddles of everyday life and the weird wrinkles of human nature," according to its website. Topics covered include "How to Get More Grit in Your Life," "How to Be More Productive," "How to be Great at Almost Anything," and most recently, "Confessions of a Pothole Politician."
"As CPAs have evolved from being number crunchers to more strategic in their role as trusted business advisers, getting this type of holistic business view from industry experts can help keep them well-rounded in their analysis and critical thinking and help them discuss topics and services outside of their current client relationships," says Chris Ekimoff, CPA/CFF, CFE a director at Resolution Economics LLC in Washington. "The Freakonomics podcasts provide outside-the-box thinking to help CPAs meet the needs of their clients more completely, and even help discuss problems they are yet to identify."
- Let's Get Radical. Hosted by Voice of America, this podcast series features Jody Padar, CPA/MST, CEO and principal of New Vision CPA Group in Mount Prospect, Ill., and Liz Gold, owner of Rhino Girl Media in Brooklyn, N.Y. Topics in the podcast, which is geared mostly toward business owners, include innovation, products and services marketing, technology trends, and personal relationships in business. CPAs should listen to this podcast because "the topics are relevant, interesting, and inspirational," Pittelkow said. "The podcast is educational for entrepreneurs, and the guests address topics relating to starting and running businesses through sharing their motivational personal stories."
Editor's note: While you are checking out these podcasts, you might also want to consider the CGMA Magazine podcast, which features conversations with executives and thought leaders in management accounting. Topics include governance, risk management, performance management, technology, corporate strategy, and leadership. Interviews are conducted by CGMA Magazine editors.
Cheryl Meyer is a freelance writer based in California. To comment on this story, contact Chris Baysden, senior manager of newsletters at the AICPA.