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The Jungle Books – Your Tax Day Preparation

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Apr 13, 2012 in Lessons Learned

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It’s Friday the 13th of April, 2012! Whether you are superstitious or not, this day might be considered lucky or unlucky since it would generally be two days before you were required to file your federal tax return for last year. However, because of a combination of the calendar, a holiday, and tax law, Tax Day 2012 is delayed until Tuesday, April 17, 2012.

Why is this? First, April 15 is a Sunday and all federal offices are traditionally closed on Sundays. This means that taxes can’t be filed on April 15, as regularly scheduled. Rather, the tax due date should roll over to the first available business day — Monday.

However, this year Monday happens to be April 16, Emancipation Day, a holiday local to the District of Columbia that has impact nationwide. Since 2005, Emancipation Day has remembered President Abraham Lincoln’s April 16, 1862, signing of the Compensated Emancipation Act, which freed the city’s 3,128 slaves. In honor of this day, Washington, D.C.’s governmental institutions are closed.

And federal law gives taxpayers the gift of an extra day … Tax Day rolls over to the next business day, Tuesday, April 17. (Please note that you may have tax forms that say they are due April 16. They were printed before the IRS realized the Emancipation Day conflict.)

Despite the 2-day change, as a reminder, the deadline to file a federal tax return with extension has not changed. That filing date remains October 15, 2012. 

Remember, state filing deadlines vary by state but most states have chosen to mirror the IRS’ tax deadlines this year even though Emancipation Day is specific to Washington, D.C. Be sure to check with your accountant to confirm your local filing deadlines.

Having said all of that now might be a good time to start thinking about making this whole process a little easier on yourself for next year with some pre-tax planning organization and preparation. For those who have had multiple jobs or less income because of the economy, your tax return could mean a huge difference so being prepared is the best thing you can do.

First, get your yearly information to your accountant as soon as you can in January/February.  Many people wait until the last minute before the deadline and then file an extension when, with just a little pre-planning, you can have all your information organized in advance and be nearly done before the New Years Eve ball drops on Times Square. More to celebrate!

Second, don’t just dump your receipts in a box and expect your accountant to figure out what they are all for, particularly if you are a habitual last minute filer.  Using one credit card for business expenses is a great way to keep things more organized but you need to take one step further and allocate those costs to supplies, entertainment, office equipment purchases, etc. Doing so each month when you are reviewing your credit card bill can help ensure the chore is not so large when it comes time to file your return.

Thirdly, seek out your accountant’s expertise and ask for tax planning advice. Your accountant is a valuable resource and can assist you throughout the year with ways to maximize deductions on certain items if you consult them in advance.

Remember these tax tips and good luck Jungle Adventurers on Friday the 13th!

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The Jungle Guide – Transformational Leaders

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Apr 3, 2012 in Executive Coaching

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In the jungle, there aren’t many signs to direct you away from danger.  Beautiful plants can be poisonous, lethal fungi can sneak in and kill an entire species of trees in a short period of time, and if you lose your bearings without a compass, you only have your instincts to help you find your way out… but the right guide can help tremendously.

At lunch this week, I was discussing a particularly difficult leadership situation with a Director at a publicly traded company and we got on the topic of transformational leadership.  Anyone can take on the traits of a transformational leader and be effective in the right situations where that type of leadership is particularly successful.

According to leadership researcher Bernard Bass, Transformational Leadership occurs when a leader transforms, or changes, his or her followers in three important ways that together result in followers trusting the leader, performing behaviors that contribute to the achievement of organizational goals, and being motivated to perform at high levels:

  • Transformational leaders increase subordinates’ awareness of the importance of their tasks and the importance of performing them well.
  • Transformational leaders make subordinates aware of their needs for personal growth, development, and accomplishment.
  • Transformational leaders motivate their subordinates to work for the good of the organization rather than exclusively for their own personal gain or benefit. (1)

Let’s suppose you are a leader in an organization that, like many, has gone through extensive change due to external economic influences.  Consider that the people leading the organization are doing as much as they can to attempt to adequately predict the next quarters’ results and have worked with you to ensure you understand your responsibilities within the overall execution of the strategic plan.  You, as the leader of your group, need to steer your team to achieve the pre-established benchmarks despite the undercurrent of uncertainty.

It’s not easy.  (If it was easy, everyone would do it!)   

Realize that you are not alone and many companies and managers are in the same situation.  Leaving your job because of these circumstances may not solve the issue at hand.  Instead, think about what you can do personally to create stability within an environment of uncertainly.  It’s easy to get caught up in what’s going on around you every day and lose sight of the big picture.  No matter what interpersonal drama is happening in your office, take a moment to take stock of yourself in relation to the traits of a transformational leader.   Consider what both your subordinate team and executive team need from you and the answers will become clearer.  Remember, you can’t change other people, only how you react to them.  If you need more leadership directives from the executive team, selectively seek out the proper person to mentor you.  Those with more experience than you have just that….more experience. There is a lot to be learned from others’ experience and style.  Recognizing both positive and negative traits in others helps you mold yourself to be a better leader overall.  Make yourself transformational no matter your personal set of circumstances and find yourself to be the jungle guide your team needs.

(1)    Jones, Gareth R.; George, Jennifer M. (2011-04-26). Understanding and Managing Organizational Behavior (6th Edition) Pearson HE, Inc.

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The Ape – Jungle Moms

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Apr 28, 2009 in Building Confidence, Career Path

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The human’s closest relative in the animal kingdom is the Chimpanzee. Like humans, during the first months of life chimp infants are completely dependent on their mothers for food and care and stick close to their mothers until they are mature. It’s a tough job to raise a family and a tough decision when mothers need or want to go back to work.  Whether it’s because your family needs the income or because you’re ready to take on corporate challenges again, you feel torn between the responsibility you have to your family and the obligations you accept with your new employer. Here are a few things to consider as you re-enter the work force:

·         Be confident in explaining that you took time off to start a family. When you organize your resume, make sure the work experience that you intend to carry forward figures most prominently on the first page. It’s ok to have a gap in employment and you should feel free to explain that you took time off to start a family.  There’s no need to pull out the family photo album in the interview, though. 

·         Be flexible and willing to negotiate. Many people leave behind high powered careers and want to return exactly where they left off, or even at a higher level.  In many cases employers may not be willing to pay for someone lacking the most recent, up to date experience.  You can prove yourself over time and get back to where you want to be, but be open to the fact that no matter how smart and hard working you are, there will be a learning curve.  Consider ten years ago many people didn’t have Internet access at their desks; ITunes and text messaging weren’t even in the dictionary as a quick reminder of how technology alone has changed in a short period of time.  

·         When you do land your job, get up to speed as quickly as you can. Read appropriate trade publications and obtain necessary computer training.  Be pleasant and personable, but professional.  Don’t make your water cooler talk about your family until you know more about everyone you work with and avoid overcrowding your workspace with excessive amounts of photos . A few nicely framed ones will keep you focused on why you’re there and keep you from getting too homesick.

·         Have a back-up plan and alternative help for the unexpected things that might pop up.  Most employers will have a 90 day to 6 month probationary period where you may not be eligible for personal leave or sick time.  Obviously emergencies occur, but your new employer will not look favorably on you taking unplanned days off before you have accrued leave.

·         Keep one calendar for work and personal so things don’t slip through the cracks.  Do your best to schedule doctor’s appointments and necessary personal meetings on one day a month that you have set aside and requested off well in advance, for example, the last Wednesday of the month.  That way, you always know if you need to schedule a service appointment you can use that day.

·         Consider starting a home-based business. If the thought of going back to an office and giving up the joy of raising children is just too much for you, consider starting a licensed day care service.  There is a large need for qualified, caring, daycare providers in many areas.  It’s possible that you could earn as much as or more than you would by getting an office job.  It’s your own business, too.  Licensing, insurance, supplies and advertising cost money, but the bookkeeping alone is great experience you can carry forward into an office later as well.  

So, Monkey Mamas! Get out there! Good Luck!

If you have specific questions or need assistance in polishing your resume, finding a job or preparing for interviews, we have on demand webinars, publications and other resources on my website www.carolynthompson.net.

 

Carolyn Thompson

Author of TEN EASY STEPS TO A PERFECT RESUME…available on Amazon.com!
and TEN STEPS TO FINDING THE PERFECT JOB…available on Amazon.com!  

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