It’s Sunday January 19th. In a half an hour, the New England Patriots will face the Denver Broncos in the AFC championship game, the winner heading off to Super Bowl XLVIII. Sue and KC (Kitty Cat) are sitting with me on the sofa as a Life-Time movie (I think they’re all pretty much the same) is on in the background. As a fire burns warmly in our pellet stove close by in the family room, the Vettes are tucked away quietly in hibernation as the chill in the air reminds me that we still have a while until Spring shows its face. With the holidays now behind us, as I have customarily done for several years now, I take a time out and attempt to put things into perspective and share with you my thoughts together with my travels over the last year. Frankly, I find writing therapeutic, much like after exercise, there’s a sense of peace and tranquility that always seems to follow. And so with iPad in hand, I begin my President’s Letter – 2013 Edition – hoping that you and your family had a great holiday filled with joy, goodwill, love and blessings.
As I approach each years President’s Letter, I initially do battle in my mind regarding what, if anything, I will write about, how I can make it better than last year, so on and so forth. Eventually, I realize that all I have to do is first relax, and second to sit in front of a key board, and then, almost magically, my thoughts find their way into sentences, which then make up paragraphs, until finally the letter comes to life. In doing so, I have so much fun intertwining the themes and bringing everything together for others to enjoy; it’s almost like figuring out a puzzle. Upon reflection, all of us have a bond which we may never even think about. Regardless, of our age, gender, race, sex, religion, political affiliation, nationality, etc., we are all traveling through life at an incredibly fast pace trying to make sense of the complicated world in which we all live. As much as technology has helped us progress, in certain aspects it seems at times that the text message or email wins out over the phone call, the hand written note, or sadly, even getting together face-to-face. As a society, are we all taking the easy way out when it comes to human interaction? All too often, it appears that we continue to go in a direction which has no return. In the final analysis, it’s a choice we all make. Let’s choose to walk the extra mile, make the phone call and write the hand written note. While we’re at it, we can also choose to treat others the way we would like to be treated, to always be our best, to show up in person for support of others whenever we can, and, to try to make a difference in the world, even if it’s a small one, whenever possible. Let’s not forget to choose to forgive, rather than get entangled wasting energy simply trying to prove a point winning the battle, while losing the war. Last but not least, let’s choose to win with honor, to dare to be different, to teach others what we have been so blessed to learn and most importantly, to believe that with God anything is possible.
So what about 2013? While January started out quietly, I put the finishing touches on the 2012 Edition https://carlozocompany.wordpress.com/2013/01/25/the-presidents-letter-2012-edition-volume-3-number-1-january-25-2013/ of my annual President’s Letter. It was coincidently the first year my President’s Letter went out electronically via email as well as being posted to my blog. Doing so enabled us to include “links” which when viewed on a computer or tablet, greatly facilitated electronic transfer to points of reference. And while this helped expedite the process, gone was the opportunity to write a personalized hand written note. Maybe I should be asking, “What do you prefer?” Last years President’s Letter had also been scaled back significantly as a result of writing throughout the year in my blog, “Carlozo’s Corner” http://www.carlozocompany.wordpress.com. Since its inaugural post October 11, 2011, through December 31, 2013, we’ve had 8,789 views, with 5,625 of them being in 2013 alone! It’s been great to share parables, “think outside the box” and utilize the power of social media to communicate to others my thoughts, principles and lessons of life. Together with Carlozo’s Corner, I frequently post inspirational themes and business points of interest on Twitter https://twitter.com/joethecpa and on LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/pub/joseph-v-carlozo/28/71/4b6 while with Kelly and Joe Jr’s help, our Facebook https://www.facebook.com/carlozocpa presence has been significantly enhanced. When I look back and assess where we have come from in this arena, it brings a smile (actually a big smile) to my face. All these uses of social media started with simple thoughts which were transformed into the applications themselves. In many ways, it reminds me of the founding and growth of C & C.
Filmed in just 11 days in January 2012, The Joe We Know (TJWK) – Documentary Movie http://www.grandexperiment.org came to life from interviews of 70 former Penn State football players spanning 6 decades. This 57 minute film captures the essence of Coach Joe Paterno and his impact on the lives of these men who played for him. Filming took place (while Coach Paterno was still alive – he died 3 days after filming was wrapped up having never seen the tribute to him by his former players) in 5 cities on the East Coast; State College, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York. I was the site host of The Baltimore shoot in addition to being an Associate Producer. It was a moving experience to say the least. Without the series of events leading up to Coach Paterno’s firing, it’s highly unlikely that the players in the film would have ever met one another. In making the film, they came together to stand up, and perhaps more importantly, stand together. On January 26, 2013, together with the Penn State Alumni, Baltimore Chapter led by Debby Rippey (the quintessential self-starter and leader), we brought TJWK to the greater Baltimore vicinity and a packed house in excess of 500 at the Beth El Congregation in Pikesville MD. Included in attendance were 28 former Penn State Football Players which included some more notable, that being Franco Harris, Lenny Moore (my childhood hero who I finally had the chance to meet), Steve Smear and Lydell Mitchell. It was a great night for all involved. Afterwards, to commemorate the one-year anniversary of his death, I would write the blog “Dear Coach Paterno” https://carlozocompany.wordpress.com/2013/01/29/dear-coach-paterno-volume-3-number-2-january-27-2013/. The response was absolutely incredible, with the high mark of 2,179 views in just one day….if nothing else, it taught me when you have conviction, follow it. I would in turn send a copy of the letter to Sue Paterno, Joe’s widow, who graciously acknowledged the receipt thereof in a heartfelt handwritten note, another keepsake to pass down to future generations.
No matter how you look at it, Tax Season takes its toll. This past year was no exception. Deadlines, technical issues, weather challenges, sickness, and increased volume all make for hectic days and then weeks that go by so very quickly. I missed seeing Pop on a regular basis. In reviewing my notes I keep on my iPad, “Pop calls me with words of encouragement on 4/14/13 – he puts wind back in my sails – 2 more days and I’ll visit him”. The week following the end of Tax Season Sue and I headed off to Ocean City for a wonderful getaway to wind-down, take a deep breath, relax and put the last 3 months in perspective. Upon returning home, Pop just did not seem the same. Despite his condition, he always had a sparkle that without him even realizing it, put a spring in my step. This time was different. It had now been 5 years since he suffered the stroke which left him paralyzed on his right side. Where did the time go? He was tired and I didn’t want to acknowledge that it was getting close to his time to go be with The Lord. I wished I could take away his pain, his suffering. I wished I could put a smile on his face. There is no course in school, nor any training that prepares you for this time in your life. I knew it was time to let go. Sadly on the morning of May 20, we lost him. The emotions ripped through me like a bolt of lightning. Although I had been unofficially serving as head of our family for quite some time and I knew this day was coming, I was suddenly thrust into a time in my life that I had never given serious thought about. Everything was surreal. With the help of Sue, and her boss Charlie Evans, we planned a dignified service for family and friends at Evans Funeral Chapel in Forest Hill MD http://evansfuneralchapel.com/fh/home/home.cfm?&fh_id=10838.
I would go on to write an obituary, as well as deliver Pop’s eulogy. In doing so, while tears filled my eyes, I came to understand that it was was an important part of the grieving process. In thanking everyone I wrote:
Sometimes in life when there is so much to say, it is best said in a few short words. The outpouring of love and support by so many at such a difficult time as we grieved the loss of Pop, makes simply saying “thank you” insufficient. Whether you personally paid your respects, attended the service, traveled long and far or came from close by, dedicated a Mass, sent a lovely card or email, called to talk, sat quietly in the chapel, sent flowers or a gift which brightened our day, donated to a charity, we felt your presence and it gave us strength. Perhaps you spoke the kindest words, as any friend could say or you were not there at all and just thought of us that day. Whatever you did to console our hearts, meant more to us than you could ever know and we thank you so much, whatever the part; we are eternally grateful. ~~ The Family of Joseph R. Carlozo.
In my attempt to share with others, I would post the blog “REMEMBERING POP” https://carlozocompany.wordpress.com/2013/06/11/remembering-pop-volume-3-number-3-june-10-2013/ which brought together Pop’s obit I had written as well his eulogy I delivered. It says it all. I think of him everyday. He is and will always be with me. It was hard to let go, very hard. For Christmas, Sue gave me a money clip with his thumb print engraved on the surface; I was speechless – her gift was priceless.
Summertime couldn’t come fast enough. In keeping our annual tradition, Sue and I returned to Corvettes at Carlisle. It was, as usual, simply wonderful to see old friends, as well as meet new ones. Once again we both participated in the Downtown Carlisle Corvette Parade, a picture of which at is on C & C’s Facebook page. As always, we had a great time, and this year we got to see the new C7 (the 7th generation Corvette) live and in person. All I can say is, if you ever dreamed of owning a Corvette, you definitely want to check this one out! While not yet officially released at the time of Corvettes of Carlisle (last weekend of August) GM must have brought at least 15 examples for everyone to drool over. There were coupes, convertibles, red Vettes, blue ones, yellow, white, green, you name it, GM was not shy to show everyone what they had worked so hard on to bring to market. It was a great day not only for Corvette enthusiasts, but all “car nuts” so to speak.
As we turned the corner in September, it was time for the 40th reunion of my football team at Penn State. Sue and I would go up a day early and walk the campus, stopping at the creamery famous for its ice cream. The day was georgous. The campus more beautiful than I ever remember. We didn’t realize what we had “back in-the-day”. Jess and Nicole, along with Joe Jr. and his wife Emily joined us the next day for pre-game activities under the tailgate tent and then the game itself. That weekend 51 former Penn State football players (from 3 graduating classes) came together in celebration. Many of us had not seen each other in 40 years. It was like no time had passed. Recalling games, plays, crazy antics and knocking heads on the field of friendly strife with laughter and an occasional tear or two. The camaraderie that was born going back to 1970 while we were all young kids trying to become men had never left us. Amazingly, the axes to grind and disappointments that once existed were no longer important….we were all teammates. It was a special time, a special moment – it was good, no make that great!
At half-time the 1973 team, the very first team in college football history to go 12-0, was honored. And then, one of our own, John Cappelletti, winner of the 1973 Heisman Trophy, was bestowed the honor of having his number 22 retired, making it the first time in Penn State history where a player’s number was retired. As Penn State’s only Heisman winner, Cap’s honor was befitting. We were all so proud and gathered in celebration at a special ceremony later that evening at The Nittany Lion Inn. http://www.collegian.psu.edu/football/article_8b66c320-18eb-11e3-8299-0019bb30f31a.html
Moving on from Penn State, in late October Sue would join me as we attended a 2-day MAP (Management of an Accounting Practice) seminar in Ft. Lauderdale FL. When the seminar wrapped, we headed west onto Interstate 75 – “Alligator Alley” to attend a 2-day McDonald’s Regional Operator Conference in Naples FL. Now I know why everyone loves Naples so much. If you have not been there, you must go. It is simply beautiful beyond description.
Shortly before Thanksgiving, I received an email from my younger (11 years) brother Lou who lives in Chicago; he asked for my help. As the oldest of 3 sons, one of the things I promised Pop before he passed was that I would look after my younger brothers. Even though they were both grown men, he always worried about them… always. Lou wanted to meet with me. Without hesitation, I told him to “come on down”. It was a great weekend that we would spend together. I would take him back to the house we lived in when he was born, and the one after that where we lived when our brother Tony was born as well. I would share with him things that he did not know about when he was a young kid. Lou was only 15 days old when President Kennedy was assassinated. We could no longer ask Mamooch and Pop, and as such, much of our family’s history rested with me to pass on. Lou allowed me to “coach” him and in doing so, something magical happened. We not only got to know one another all over again, but we both grew in the process. After we said good-bye that weekend, I would pen another blog THINKING FOR SUCCESS https://carlozocompany.wordpress.com/2013/12/09/thinking-for-success-volume-3-number-4-december-9-2013/ which, with his blessing, included an article that Lou wrote http://www.moneyunder30.com/my-thanksgiving-dish-to-you-give-thanks-for-everything-even-the-tough-stuff.
Please know the kids are all doing great! Jess continues working at Brown Advisory (a spinoff of Alex Brown & Sons) in Downtown Baltimore, while Nicole is a little more than half-way through a 2-year fellowship with the DNR in Annapolis. Joe Jr., who believe it or not, will be with C & C 4 years this coming May continues to learn and grow while his wife Emily made a successful move to the IMC/ICU at Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air after spending 3 years at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore. While Christmas is always special, this year for some reason, it seemed even more so as we crowded into our living room watching John Candy , a household favorite, in “Uncle Buck”. As much as we tried that night to find “Buck Russell’s Bowling Ball” on the internet, it seems to be a mystery. Any clues? Two days after Christmas, Sue, Jess, Nicole, Joe Jr. and I would make the trip up to State College PA to a sold-out house at The State Theatre to see the World Premier of 365 Days – The Film. http://www.365daysthefilm.com Whether you’re a Penn State fan or not, this movie hits home as what happened at Penn State could happen anywhere. Please see our Facebook page for pictures from both the World (12/27/13) and Baltimore (1/02/14) Premieres of 365 Days – A Year in Happy Valley.
Before closing, I can’t help but reflect back to 25 years ago when 2 guys who I didn’t know knocked at the front door of my home; they were starting a “Quick Lube” business and were referred to me by a gentleman by the name of Elmer Wingate, a former Baltimore Colt and University of MD football standout. It was November 1988 and we met at my dining room table. Keep in mind, although I was at a crossroad in my career, I was not officially in business, but for that moment in time, without even realizing it, the humble beginnings of what would eventually be known as Carlozo & Company, were being formed. There were no clients, no letterhead, no business cards, just a thought in my mind and a dream in my heart. A week or so later, I would have lunch with a dear family friend, Fred Kern, another University of MD football standout, asking him for some career guidance. What was obvious to Fred, was anything but obvious to me when he blurted out, “Joey, why don’t you just go out on your own?” – It was quite frankly like someone had hit me in the head. While Pop had on numerous occasions encouraged me for years to do this, more than anything Fred’s words stayed with me (sometimes we need to hear guidance from someone other than a parent) and in December 1988 what was unofficial, became official – I had hung up my shingle; I had become an entrepreneur. Jess, Nicole and Joe Jr. had just turned 2 years old in August. One of the very first things I did, before we even had any employees, was to write a Mission Statement. It’s purpose quite simply was to serve as a focus for the actions of the group of professionals I sought to assemble. It still, 25 years later remains intact, as relevant as ever and maybe even more so. From December 1988 through May 1989, I had operated the practice as a Sole Proprietor from the basement of my home; again very humble beginnings. On June 2, 1989 we incorporated and Carlozo & Company, P.A. came into existence. The following year we would move to the 3rd floor of the Kelly Building in Timonium sharing space with another CPA. Today we are totally autonomous occupying over 3,000 square feet in the same Kelly Building, but now in Suite 200. When I reflect back to 1989, Ronald Reagan was just finishing up his second term as President, George H. W. Bush (41) following closely in his footsteps. There was no professional football in Baltimore; that’s right no Ravens and in fact the Baltimore Colts had been gone for 5 years. In 1989 there was no Camden Yards; the Orioles still played at Memorial Stadium which was demolished in 2001. The World Trade Center stood tall and proud in New York, and believe it or not, Barack OBama was just 27 years old having recently entered Harvard Law School. It was a different world back then in so many aspects. The automotive world lived and died by what was The Big 3 – today GM, Ford and Chrysler are referred to as The Detroit 3. While the world has clearly changed, so has the accounting profession and along with it, so have we keeping pace with new laws, procedures, technology and systems while remaining true to our founding principles and good, sound fundamentals for success.
No one man or woman builds a business on their own. While the founder may have the vision, spirit and determination, and of course the money to make things possible, chances are good they had help along the way. C & C is no exception. While the nucleus of our firm remains strong and intact, a broad spectrum of employees, professional advisors, mentors, sub contractors and vendors, some of which who have come and gone along the way, helped make important contributions. To all, present and past, I remain most appreciative. The same can be said for clients. We have been and are truly blessed by a solid core of loyal clients who we are honored to provide professional services. Again, I remain truly appreciative. But frankly, the Unsung Hero behind the scenes is my wife Sue. Pop always referred to her as “the glue that holds us all together”. He was spot on. A great Stepmom to my kids (to this day they still call her “Miss Sue”), a caring Daughter-in-law to my parents when they were alive, a wonderful homemaker, a full-time professional (and a darn good one at that) who has her own career, she is one tough cookie! When I was down, and that happens to the best of us, she encouraged me. When self-doubt started to creep in, she would have no part of it. When it seemed like we couldn’t go on, challenged by repeated adversity “chopping our legs out from under us”, she helped me to get back up and in doing so taught me to walk by faith, and not by sight. It’s funny when I think of it now, we not only survived, we thrived. When I needed a friend to talk to who could look right through any rationalization on my part, she was there. That’s my girl; because of her, I came to grow as a man, a father, a husband, a son, a brother, a friend and a business owner. As I have said many times before, I am the luckiest guy in the world. I am so thankful to God for all my blessings.
While looking back to one’s roots is important in gaining perspective, as I look ahead I do so with the same spirit and determination and fire that I had in my belly back in 1989. As I write you, quietly behind the scenes, we are totally revamping our internal software systems so that we can service you, our clients, on a more timely and comprehensive basis. Our staff is working hard, very hard. My pledge to you is that we will not rest on our laurels. Quite simply, I will not accept mediocrity from any member of our team; that’s just not the way we do things here. In light of the ATRA (American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012) we must be proactive as the new law passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama amounted to the largest single tax increase since 1941. While our challenges run a broad spectrum, in the final analysis, it is my job to lead us to the next generation. I enthusiastically accept that role with open arms, a smile on my face and the intestinal fortitude of a Roman Gladiator!
Well, Denver’s General Manager John Elway’s bet on Peyton Manning paid off big time as The Broncos handed the Patriots a bitter defeat. While Elway was 38 when he won his first Super Bowl, Manning will be 37 for Super XLVIII – maybe there’s something to be said for age, wisdom and maturity. In the meantime, the 49ers late game heroics attempting to get back to the Super Bowl again this year fell short, but boy was it close. While clearly disappointed, the 49ers, and their fans, can hold their heads high – they gave it their best! Oblivious to all, KC is asleep on the a chair; Sue and I are not far behind. Turns out I was wrong; I actually thought I didn’t have much to write about this year. It looks like I need to go back and review my blog THINKING FOR SUCCESS. If someone had told me back in 1989 that we’d be where we are today, I would have looked at them in disbelief; perhaps Law Student Obama may have said the same thing if someone had told him that he’d not only be President of The United States in 25 years, but that he’s be into his 2nd term as well. Yes, as proven time and time again, with God anything is possible. I witnessed Him as He worked through family, friends and people I didn’t even know in helping me build C & C from a thought in my mind, to where we are today; I am humbled and so very grateful for all our blessings. While we will continue to build on our social media presence, we will choose to stay focused on our founding principles and fundamentals that got us to where we are today. And while Pop is now with The Lord, his influence on me remains as strong as ever like a beacon of light for a ship out at sea. Keeping that in mind, thank you again for your loyalty, trust and confidence in us as your CPAs. Without you, there is no C & C. In closing, please know that as you travel through life, even as its pace intensifies and the world seems more comlex than ever, you are not alone; we are all together. Choose all the very best that life has in store. Also know I wish you and your families, good times, good news and goodwill for the 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)