• All You Need Is Love

    By • Jun 13th, 2008 • Category: Pure Content


    Received this comment at 10:55 CST this morning. After rejecting it (see my disclaimer,) I thought better of it. It’s too good to leave as a comment.

    This comment explains the reasons why I write a blog.

    “Anonymous has left a new comment on your post “A Feather In Their Cap – Audit Firms Win Liability…”:

    You are a bitch.

    You claim to be one of us but all you do is talk shit.”

    Well.
    Let me parse these two sentences, word by word, phrase by phrase, clause by clause.

    (Note to ACB: I am learning something in that writing class!)

    You are a bitch.

    This is a pretty straight forward, simple sentence.

    Mr./Ms. Anonymous  (who is a Chicago-area Comcast subscriber and a frequent reader… I’ll say no more for now) is using the consummate verb of condition or state, “to be,” to emphatically declare that I am a woman of a certain type that gets under the skin of persons of both genders, on occasion.
    (I have used the gender neutral assumption, because I realized during class Tuesday night that I break a rule when I routinely assign the male gender to unknown actors in my posts, just because they are accountants. The rule is that when the actor is of unknown gender, you are expected to use your own gender pronoun, in this case female, to refer to the actor. So I am going to be more inclusive of the female accountants from now on.)
    I will leave it to you to decide if being called a “bitch” is a good quality or a bad one here, depending on your interpretation of the context. But suffice it to say, this noun, either when someone refers to me directly or when it has been transmitted to me indirectly, is not unfamiliar.  I have been called this before, both personally and professionally, and I rarely take offense.
    Girls like me, “bitches”,  eat this stuff for breakfast.
    So, thanks. You are reading the blog. I have gotten under your skin. I have so inspired you that you took the time to make a comment. You chose to make the comment in connection with a particular post, a recent one. I, therefore, have a way to connect your words to my words. This is the greatest gift you can give to a writer.
    You claim to be one of us | but all you do is talk shit.

    Let me take this second sentence in two parts.
    I don’t think I have ever claimed to be “One of Us.” In fact, my whole life is organized on the premise of not being one of anything. I am not much of a joiner. Although I do belong to some groups, I am not really much of a group person. If by documenting my CV and experience I gave someone the impression that I hope to be judged by the same standard as someone who has spent their entire career at a Big 4 firm, or has a big need to be accepted and approved by the status quo, I have erred. On the contrary.
    I could not author this blog nor say and do many of the things I say and do if I was “One of Us.” I have made a conscious choice to never again try to even play “One of Us” on TV, especially for money. I have no husband, no mortgage, no children to feed, no car payment. I have simple needs, often fed by kind and generous patrons, and have very little ego or pride left.

    Hubris is a frequent fatal flaw of those I critique and I, therefore, wholeheartedly reject out of hand any association with this group and its worst characteristics.

    As far as “talking shit,’ well, I must acknowledge this. I am not a trained journalist. I have chosen to write for a public audience at a late stage in my life. I have chosen to do it in blog form, because this tool requires no one else’s approval, no screening, no waiting, no cost. The power of my words, and Google, will carry the message forward as the strong Chicago winds scatter the maple tree seedpods.
    What I say may or may not have value to the broader business audience. But I take comfort in the number of those who have told me and shown me by their daily attention to my words, that they do at least enjoy, if not sometimes feel informed, by my scribbling.   So, if I have any ego left, it is fed when I receive these crumbs.
    I can write “shit” and put my name on it.  Can all of the Mr./Ms. Anonymous commenters say the same?
    So, on this day, one day before a birthday that signifies the beginning of the long slide down the other side of middle-age, I will say thanks.  Thanks for your comment.  Thanks for renewing my commitment to writing.  Thanks for inspiring me.

    High Windows

    When I see a couple of kids
    And guess he’s fucking her and she’s
    Taking pills or wearing a diaphragm,
    I know this is paradise

    Everyone old has dreamed of all their lives–
    Bonds and gestures pushed to one side
    Like an outdated combine harvester,
    And everyone young going down the long slide

    To happiness, endlessly. I wonder if
    Anyone looked at me, forty years back,
    And thought, That’ll be the life;
    No God any more, or sweating in the dark

    About hell and that, or having to hide
    What you think of the priest. He
    And his lot will all go down the long slide
    Like free bloody birds. And immediately

    Rather than words comes the thought of high windows:
    The sun-comprehending glass,
    And beyond it, the deep blue air, that shows
    Nothing, and is nowhere, and is endless.

    Philip Larkin

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    13 Responses »

    1. Few things are more fun than getting angry responses from readers – hurray for striking a chord.

    2. Ad hominem attacks never help disprove something. I will vehemently disagree with you on a number of topics, but I would never resort to name calling.

    3. Francine:
      I wonder if your anonymous poster was another incompetant, frightened, overpaid Big 87654 sycophant, known to those outside the “fraterinty” as a partner. Don’t get bent out of shape about this poster. We love you down here in Houston.
      Really we do.

    4. Thanks George. I appreciate that. I really do! But it actually was inspiring. I do some of my most rhythmic writing when I’m tweaked.

    5. Woo hoo Francine. Score one for another one of us “bitches” who tell it like it is!

    6. Francine,

      Personally, I prefer hard-nosed. For all of the advances women have made in the professions, there is still an incredible double-standard about some things.

      For all of those who think that being a team player is the ultimate compliment, I have a suggestion.

      Learn to distinguish leadership skills from management skills. The two are not the same.

    7. Francine,

      First of all, Happy
      Birthday!

      Secondly, there are bloggers like yourself who push the envelope, some may say, a little too far, but without folks like you who’ve seen the Big 4 from the inside, at a substantive level of responsibility, I think we’d be worse off for lack of those not afraid to let some of the genie out of the bottle.

      I find your insights and current role as a commentator who’s seen the inside of the Big 4 not unlike those of Barbara Ley Toffler in her book, “Final Accounting: Ambistion, Greed, and the Fall of Arthur Andersen” (2003). To me, the most significant passage in the book was at the bottom of pg 192 and top of 193, where she told this story: when asked which stakeholder is most important in their role as managers at AA – and choices included the partner, the public investor, SEC, community, family and others, those who were not afraid to answer noted that the partner was who their responsibilities ran to. That may not be a surprise, given the hierarchy. But, when asked the followup question “What about the public investor? What about the client?” one manager responded, “They’re important, but not as important as the partner. My career depends on the partner.” Asked to explain further, a manager said, “It means I do what my partner tells me to do.” Toffler asked, “What if your partner asks you to do something you think is wrong? Would you do it?” A manager responded, as retold by Toffler, “I guess I might ask a question. But if he instisted I do it, yes, I would. Partners don’t want to hear bad news.”

      Getting back to your post, I see your role as somewhat like Toffler’s. “Truthtellers” often aren’t popular, at least not always at the very moment they are telling their truth.

      I would assume that as long as you don’t exaggerate the facts and don’t go on a witch hunt, that people would be hard pressed to fault you in terms of a ‘fatal flaw’ although people’s personal opinion about any given issue may vary.

      I think it’s good that you bring the voice of experience to comment on current events impacting the profession today; sometimes unfortunately it is only those in very, very senior roles who feel secure enough to provide constructive criticism of their own profession – regardless of the profession – otherwise it is left to those who have left the profession, and they may not think there’s any upside to beating an old horse they no longer ride.

      Best wishes on your continued reporting, I think it can provide a valuable public service.

    8. Let me speak from the perspective of a former Ass’t General Counsel for a Big 4 firm. I happen to agree with Ms. McKenna’s postings with alarming consistency. But let’s assume the vitriolic poster for, whatever his or her reasons, finds substantive fault with Ms. McKenna’s content on this blog. Fine. But what the poster doesn’t get is that right or wrong – and I happen to think that she is right most all of the time – a blog like this is exactly what an insular, tending to myopic profession constantly needs. And the the Big 4, along with their next tier brethren, are hardly a garden variety insular monopoly. They face liabilities that far, far outstrip the value of their fees, and worse yet, the highest order of liability exposure is to parties other than the client. You couldn’t ask for a business model that begs consistent, healthy skepticism (such as that Ms. McKenna provides here) than the Big 4 audit model. And yet the offending poster can only look at this emotionally, slinging epithets. I hope the poster does not really play a substantial role in the industry – the profession needs – no demands – very mature people who are also very, very smart.

      Is this response being written because Ms. McKenna comes across as a very likable, competent individual in her blogs? Maybe to an extent. But really, underneath it all – she is providing the profession exactly what it needs. The road to perdition typically is not encountered overnight – it often travels in the form of incremental questionable judgments. Read this blog and others like it, and one can, just maybe – with some luck, avoid some of the ticking time bombs that invariably obtain in this field. Cheers.

    9. As someone who regularly (but, unfortunately for me and my profession, not always) disagrees with your posts, I am deeply dissapointed with that ugly response to your previous article. It says nothing about you or your views, but everything about the poster. As much as we might disagree from time to time, I am glad I do not have to worry about it discouraging you.

    10. Francine

      As a fellow blogger who knows just how often abuse is hurled at those of us who dare to offer opinion in public, I simply take my hat off in awe at your response to this commentator.

      And as ever, I marvel at the inability of those who comment to argue their case.

      Not a problem you suffer from.

      Great work!

      Richard Murphy

    11. Brava, Francis!

    12. As someone who has a lifelong streak of being accused of, or profusely (insincerely) thanked for “being so honest”, all I can say is if you’re labeled a bitch, you have spoken the truth.

      Go Bitches Go! If we were male we’d be lauded for having big dicks.

    13. I’m not really a fan of fm’s opinions or the way she uses language to incite. The post you received is a sad commentary on the world. Many posts on these blogs resort to name-calling… from your supporters and non-supporters alike. I’m not sure I understand the motivation of the reaction to this particular comment. It has no substance, offers no comment really and gives no support for the claim. It isn’t worth a response. So why such a major response? Why did this post upset you so much? There are so many other posts that have no substance and are just offering an emotional statement condemning a group of people (not the economic or regulatory environment) based on stereotypes derived from anecdotal information. Why not get upset with these posts — ohhh, they aren’t addressed at you, that is why. You set yourself up for this — I applaud you for having opinions and standing up with them. But if you do that — you’ll get this, and it simply isn’t worth the response. This thread really has no place to go. Are you just wanting some positive feedback because you couldn’t handle this erroneous post that has no meaning at all?

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