The year was 1989; it truly seems like yesterday. For certain, back then, it was a much different world in so many ways. Whatever your age today, subtract 25 from it and think back to how old you were at that time. Perhaps you can even find a picture of yourself from “back in the day.” Look into your eyes and try to remember this chapter in your life, how you felt, your thoughts, your dreams, your passions, your fears and insecurities, your innocence. It was at this time I faced a crossroad in my career and after much thought and counsel decided to move forward in a new direction. Pop had always taught me that “fortune favors the bold, not the reckless.” I had thought about this moment for many years. After all, without a dream, how can a dream come true? As so with a fire in my belly and passion in my heart I had crossed the imaginary line into entrepreneurship and never looked back, at least until now, as in 2014 we celebrated the 25th anniversary of C & C’s founding. While it was a special moment for celebration which made me very proud, it was even more so another opportunity to thank God for all my blessings. Our anniversary filled me with thoughts and feelings that I can only begin to comprehend. And so, as I have done for quite some time I wanted to take a time out and share this moment with you together with my travels over the last year. Keeping that in mind, with iPad in hand, I begin my Presidents Letter for 2014 hoping you and your family had a great holiday filled with joy, goodwill, love and blessings.
Any way you look at it, 25 years is a long time. Today when I reflect back I can’t help but think “Where did the time go?” Along the way, the kids grew up, and oh boy did they! My hair turned a little gray, well maybe more than a little. But something else happened, the dream in my heart came true as slowly but surely over the years we assembled a group of dedicated professionals, a special team with a calling for service to help their fellow man. Whenever I’m having a tough day and adversity is staring me in the face, I thank God for all my blessings and suddenly the storm around me subsides and peace fills the air. In the last 25 years I’ve found that as complicated things could be at times, that first, you can always change your perspective, and second, if you really want to change your world, then change your words and stand back and watch in amazement. This one-two punch of staying positive is critical to anyone’s success yet costs absolutely nothing and is within the grasp of each of us.
Twenty-five years ago I do not recall having the patience, the compassion, the maturity or the wisdom to look at life the same way as I do today. Come to think of it, did any of us? Maybe that’s where all the gray hairs came from. In the book he co-authored, “The 7 Seven Wonders That Will Change Your Life” noted psychiatrist Dr. Keith Ablow, states that “more than any one thing, you must be truthful with yourself; It is never too late to turn and face the real story of how you became who you are in this world in order to rid yourself of any emotional or behavioral patterns, especially unconscious ones, that are undermining your possibilities.” Having the courage look inside and in turn learn and grow is critical in reaching one’s full potential. In our case, slowly but surely, the stumbling blocks from 25 years ago became stepping stones. With a steadfast persistence and determination, combined with faith (believing without seeing) dreams can become reality without even realizing that anything had changed; sometimes you have to look back to see how far you’ve come rather than look too far ahead.
In a strange sense I can’t help but feel that Dr. Ablow’s words of wisdom parallel what Wilfred A. Peterson describes in his book, “The Art of Living”. Peterson writes that “happiness does not depend on what happens outside of you, but on what happens inside of you; it is measured by the spirit in which you meet the problems of life. Happiness is a state of mind.” Peterson and Ablow aside, Lincoln once said: “We are happy as we make up our mind to be. Happiness doesn’t come from doing what we like to do, but from liking what we have to do. Happiness comes from putting our hearts in our work and doing it with joy and enthusiasm. Happiness grows out of harmonious relationships with others based on attitudes of good will, tolerance, understanding and love. The master secret of happiness is to meet the challenge of each new day with the serene faith that “all things work together for those that love God.” I think Lincoln could have co-authored our Mission Statement as well! Surely he “hit the nail on the head” and his insight helps to explain our resilience even in the most difficult times.
Being truthful with ourselves and happiness aside, the one “common denominator” in 25 years is undoubtedly “tax season”. Is it a “grind?” Sure it is, but it’s also brings out the best of any true professional. You must “rise to the occasion” not falling victim to mediocrity. You must be unselfish, care about others and have pride to do the best of your God given talents and abilities even when you’re not feeling your best and regardless of the weather conditions which affect everyone. You must be a messenger who many times gets shot, but who is often looked to as a voice of reason. Twenty-five years later I can tell you without any reservation what-so-ever that I if I had to do it all over again, I’d choose the same profession in a heartbeat. Still when April 16th arrives nobody here is happier to kick back and enjoy some good old-fashioned rest and relaxation. This year Sue and I got away to Myrtle Beach SC. The warmth of the sun combined with the beauty of the ocean are priceless. It was a great time; again I counted my blessings. Shortly after returning home, we came upon the one-year anniversary of Pop’s passing. While I miss him, there’s no question that his spirit and determination continues on within me.
While each passing year seems to go by faster and faster, this year we were challenged with an even heavier load learning about the ACA (Affordable Care Act), an internal change to a new practice management software package, continued uncertainty about major tax legislation (which eventually passed in late December), etc. Fortunately there are those days sprinkled here and there to catch an Oriole game – it was a great season which produced many fond memories for a lifetime. While our O’s fell short losing to the KC Royals in the AL Championship Series, they could nevertheless hold their heads high with all the adversity they not only faced, but for the most part, overcame. As Buck Showalter often says, “our efforts should never go into a slump”; it seems that applies to everyday life, to business as well as any sports team. Speaking of the O’s, Hall of Famer’s Cal Ripken’s commercial for PNC Bank really caught my attention this summer with a profound statement, “When you play together as a team, as one, work hard and respect one another, great things happen.” With those words, Cal joined Lincoln as another potential co-author of our Mission Statement.
Before we knew it, the time had arrived in late August for Corvettes at Carlisle. This year we went up Wednesday afternoon (a day early) and it was so much more relaxed. Joe and Emily joined us on Friday night. As we always do, we had a great time with the parade through the streets of Carlisle as the highlight; it’s truly something special to see and even more special to drive in it. It’s not unusual for friends and even clients ask me about the new C7 Corvette Stingray and when I’m getting one. As much as I love cars, and especially Vettes, the best kind of car has been and always will be one that’s paid for! Again, I count my blessings.
Returning from Carlisle is typically challenging with the tax extension deadlines for businesses (9/15) followed closely by the individuals (10/15). When I think of it, this is actually the official end of tax season. Around this time, we all begin to focus on getting in our 40 hours for our CPE (Continuing Professional Education) before year end. Throw in the holidays, tax planning and administrative tasks and before you know it it’s time to do it all over again. As I have told the staff on numerous occasions, being busy is a great problem; when the phone stops ringing then you’re in trouble.
As we closed the book on 2013 tax returns October 15th, I was fortunate to be part of a very special reunion. As many of you know, Sue, Sharon Cody and I all worked together many years ago at the firm of Coyne & McClean Chartered (C & M). Founded on July 1, 1977 C & M had a great run until May 31, 1999 at which time it merged into the national firm of Clifton Gunderson. During its 22-years in business C & M grew to a high of approximately 50 professionals and administrative staff. On October 21, 2014 C & M had a reunion at Michael’s Restaurant here in Timonium with 37 attendees spanning 3 decades. Sharon did an outstanding job organizing the event. It was a wonderful night where we all came together to share stories of “back in the day” as well as catch up with where our life’s journeys had taken us. The success stories in the room were simply incredible yet everyone kept their humility along the way. Capped off by a special tribute to founding partner Bill Berndt, we were all reminded that those who paid the price before us and laid the groundwork for others to build on should never be forgotten. Enjoy the pictures posted on our Facebook https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.982655961759831.1073741841.126814634010639&type=1
Just a few short weeks after the C & M reunion, it was time for another birthday – mine. Daughter Jessica always shows incredible enthusiasm when it comes to returning to places we went to when she was a child. So Jess, Nicole, Joe. Jr. and his wife Emily piled into the Tahoe with me and Sue and we were off to 1st stop Gettysburg PA, sight of the historic battle from The Civil War and, speaking of Lincoln, the legendary Gettysburg Address. I vividly remember the very first time I visited Gettysburg; it was 1963 and I was just 9 years old and I was with Pop. Thinking back, 1963 was only 100 years after the battle; it wasn’t that many years before that thousands of soldiers came there to fight brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor. The last time we were in Gettysburg with the kids, they were 11 years old; it remains etched in my mind forever. This trip was equally memorable. As we toured the battlefields and The Gettysburg Cyclorama it was so good, no, make that great, to be together. Back in the Tahoe we then headed to our 2nd stop, The Sweetest Place on Earth – Hershey and our traditional ride at Chocolate World and family picture at the end….priceless memories. Speaking of the kids, they are all doing well. Jessica continues to do a great job at Brown Advisory while in the fall Nicole finished up her 2-year fellowship at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources in Annapolis and was offered a full-time position; we were all so excited for her. Joe Jr. (in-charge of our IT) and his wife Emily (a RN at Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air) are also doing great. It’s hard to believe it’s coming up on 5 years since they moved back from NC. We feel so blessed to have all the kids relatively close by.
One week after our Gettysburg and Hershey trips, Sue and I were back on the road to Somerset PA for the wedding of a former Penn State teammate’s son. Cold as could be, we were compelled to visit the Flight 93 Memorial (http://www.nps.gov/flni/index.htm) which was only 15 minutes away from where we were staying. It’s hard to put into words the feeling of standing there reading about all those who perished. While it was a sobering reminder of what evil can do, it also gave hope from the courageous effort by those who fought back so gallantly. When we returned home, I penned a blog – Mind, Body and Soul: https://carlozocompany.wordpress.com/2015/01/05/mind-body-soul-volume-4-number-2-december-26-2014/
With Thanksgiving being so late this year, it was a blink of an eye and Christmas was here. Each year there is always something special to remember. It brings me and Sue so much happiness to see the kids being so excited about giving! This year they “blew me away” with 2 gifts which brought tears to my eyes. The first was a blanket with a wide array of Hershey pictures, some I don’t even remember seeing. The second was a signed picture of my childhood Oriole hero, Jim Gentile. Gentile was on fire in 1961 hitting back-to-back grand slams in a game against the Minnesota Twins. This was the year Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth’s single season home record. While Gentile was neck and neck for most of the year with Maris and Mickey Mantle of the Yankees, he finished with 46 homers and actually tied Maris in RBI with 141, although it took almost 50 years to get the proper credit. But the signed picture was only the beginning, underneath the picture engraved in a plague are the words from a song Pop wrote about “Diamond Jim” – I vividly remember singing the song with him like it was yesterday. It just doesn’t get any better. Again, I counted my blessings. Check out this link – great story: http://www.thepostgame.com/blog/men-action/201305/mixing-it-mantle-and-maris-story-forgotten-star Here’s the “Diamond Jim” picture and plague from Christmas 2014:
Recognizing that nothing stays the same, 25 years after our founding, I concluded it was time to update our Mission Statement. While I was at it, we added a Vision Statement. At the heart of the change was a soul searching exercise looking for an answer to “Why we do what we do?” So much of our focus had been on “what we do” and “how we do it.” It was now so much clearer than before. At the beginning, like most new businesses, we were simply trying to survive. Now, with 25 years under our belt, it was time to add to the foundation. As excited as ever, with the fire burning strong in my belly and the passion to serve others intense, I am so proud of the team we have assembled, CPAs Tina, Carol and Sharon, accounting staff Joe Jr., Matt and Alicia and our administrative staff, Kelly, Lisa (June) and Sara. They embody the very essence of C & C as spelled out below:
CARLOZO & COMPANY is a CPA Firm of dedicated professionals who have taken their calling and come together to help their fellow man build personal net worth. WE live OUR mission by focusing on minimizing tax liabilities whenever possible and providing sound financial recommendations and management consulting advice. In all aspects of OUR business, CARLOZO & COMPANY’s mandate of excellent service is a rule shared by all of US.
WE believe in OUR mission….WE are different…..WE ARE …CARLOZO & COMPANY.
CARLOZO & COMPANY is committed to partnering with OUR clients’ view of “the big picture” by supporting their understanding of financial and tax environments and the corresponding impacts on decision-making. WE are dedicated to helping OUR business clients’ management motivate their work forces to achieve full potential through an emphasis on effective policy, procedure and human relations. WE are more than “number crunchers”.
CARLOZO & COMPANY is built on a solid foundation of fundamentals. WE value discipline together with the genuine care and concern for the personal well-being of OUR clients and associates. WE believe in a team approach to problem solving, goal achievement, and effective communication.
CARLOZO & COMPANY seeks mutually beneficial relationships with OUR clients and associates. WE faithfully practice respect for the individual as a premise for all OUR policies and actions. WE are a bona fide people-oriented firm which encourages all members of OUR team to “reach beyond their grasp” and “be the best they can be” for the benefit of OUR clients, OUR firm, and each individuals’ personal and professional development.
The year will be 2039; if history is a window to the future, it will be a much different world. We need to add 25 years to our present age. Some of us will still be around, while others will have gone to be with The Lord. If our foundation is as strong as I believe it is, if we religiously stay committed to and live our Mission and Vision Statements, if we take good care of our clients not resting on our laurels, if we boldly move forward and dare to dream, if we continue to “play together as a team, as one, work hard and respect one another,” and if we truly value our independence, God willing we will celebrate our 50th anniversary and “great things will happen.” New professionals seeking a unique work environment will join our ranks dedicating themselves to our Mission and Vision. Twenty-five years ago it was difficult to imagine where we are today; as we celebrate our 25th anniversary I can much better envision a look ahead as our evolution continues to unfold…with God, anything is possible. My dreams have evolved as well; I want to walk through the front door of our office 25 years from now and shake hands with each and every member of our team and thank them for their service and dedication. Whatever the future may hold, one thing is for sure, is that we would not be here today, or tomorrow for that matter, if it wasn’t for you our clients. We are most thankful; it is our honor to be of service to you. Keeping that in mind, as we push full speed ahead into 2015, I wish you and your families a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year! I truly hope that we share many, many more years together in a mutually beneficial working relationship. May God bless you and your families. Have a great day!!!
Joseph V. Carlozo (Joe)