5 books young CPAs should consider reading 

by Sheon Ladson Wilson 
Published April 21, 2015

5 books young CPAs should consider readingAs a young CPA, it’s important to take charge of your own learning and development. Waiting for someone else to train you gives away power and misses an opportunity to show initiative.

Reading popular business books is one way for you to keep up with the latest in thought and innovation.

“Reading can give you new perspectives, insights, thoughts, and ideas to use, not only in your professional life, but at home and in your community as well,” said Alison A. VanOtterloo, CPA, vice president of Internal Audit at Pharmacists Mutual Cos. in Algona, Iowa, and a graduate of AICPA’s Leadership Academy. “It’s a great way to fast-track your own development and hopefully when new opportunities or challenges arise you will be more ready to handle them.”

So what should you be reading right now? We asked several successful young CPAs for their personal recommendations. Here’s what they suggested.

1. The Carpenter by Jon Gordon is one VanOtterloo recommends. Drawing on his work with business leaders, salespeople, college, and professional teams and nonprofits, Gordon advocates for building a life based on proven strategies.

“I loved that book, especially [for someone] in a role that deals with customers,” said VanOtterloo, who leads a book club that recently launched at her company. “I’m creating a ‘Leaders are Readers’ book list for our management team, so I am hoping to get more ideas of books to add to the list.”

2. The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann is recommended by Andy Armanino, CPA, managing partner of accounting and business consulting firm Armanino. “It’s a great little book about how to develop trust and how to give more in the business world,” he said. “Through that giving, there are benefits you receive, especially if you’re doing it because you want to truly give your client or your business relationships something of value.”

Armanino also is spearheading a leadership book club for young CPAs at his company. “It’s going to talk about culture, philosophy, solutions, and our overall leadership style here,” he said. “We’ve taken the concept of reading popular books and encouraged up-and-comers to do it in a more formal way.”

3. The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth by John Maxwell is recommended by Joseph Rugger, CPA, CGMA, who is CFO at Jonesboro Prosthetic & Orthotic Lab in Jonesboro, Ark.

In the third and final book in his best-selling series, Maxwell spells out principles he contends will always propel personal growth and development.

“This is a great book to get you thinking about ‘You Inc.,’” said Rugger, a Leadership Academy graduate. “Having a growth plan for yourself and your career is invaluable as you develop and grow as an individual in your career.”

4. Thrive by Arianna Huffington is suggested by Mandy K. French, CPA, who owns MKFrench, an accounting firm in Springdale, Ark. In the book, Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, uses her challenges with juggling business demands and prioritizing family life to advocate for new metrics of defining success.

French, a Leadership Academy graduate, found the most value in the book’s early chapters, which focus on Huffington’s personal journey after realizing she had dangerously overextended herself and the importance of focusing on well-being.

5. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown was suggested by Dan Griffiths, CPA, CGMA, director of strategic planning at Tanner LLC in Salt Lake City, Utah. The book advocates pursuing only things that are essential to your life, and saying no to everything else. To do this, McKeown says, we should ask what is really elemental and navigate decisions at work and home based on the answer.

"Greg makes the case that one of the greatest obstacles for successful people is success itself,” said Griffiths, a Leadership Academy graduate. “Success tends to breed a seemingly endless stream of opportunities. If we're not careful, we soon find our efforts diluted by a number of good opportunities that inhibit the level of focus required if we are to truly reach our highest point of contribution."

Sheon Ladson Wilson is a freelance writer in Durham, N.C.

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