Sandi Leyva Training Solutions for Accountants

August 24, 2020

What Does Fear Have To Do With Running Your Business?

Filed under: mindset,stress management — 1o49d @ 10:26 am

Covid has changed our relationship with fear in many, many ways.

Several years ago, I attended a local networking meeting. I was delighted when my name was called to be in a hot seat for some coaching from the participants. I always have a topic I could use advice on, so I asked the group: “How should I market my new tools that help women entrepreneurs deal with the fears that come up in the running of their businesses?”

What was interesting is I got eager comments about fear from all of the *men* in the room. The women just stood silent (except for two later in the conversation).

Well, that’s telling, I thought.

I’ve had similar brush-offs at the networking meeting with a couple of the women who I know just had to lay off staff. Come on, now, who isn’t scared when something as dramatic as a layoff rips through the company you created with your bare hands?

So, what’s going on here?

The only thing I can think of is that some women are too afraid to admit they’re afraid. Perhaps because some people perceive it as a weakness to display fear, they aren’t willing to admit it in public.

Whether you are willing to admit it in public or not, I want you to know right now that fear is normal, especially this year (the lack of fear is abnormal, that’s for sure). What’s important is that you admit it to yourself.

A majority of the more than 100 women I was around in the pressure-packed, high-growth coaching, training, and mastermind programs I participated in were all freely, openly scared to death. They were also growing like mad, taking on astounding business opportunities including TV, keynote speaking on a big stage, running their own events, and connecting with celebrities and millionaire business owners that were past the stage they’re at.

This year has given many entrepreneurs the opening to admit publicly that they are afraid for their business. Michelle Obama took it a step further in her new podcast when she openly admitted to experiencing low-grade depression. We need to be able to talk about our feelings, even the negative ones.

So, what does fear have to do with running your business? The short answer is, just about everything.
Fear is a sign of growth in both yourself and your business. If you’re not afraid, you’re stuck, and so is your business.

When we can recognize and talk about our fears, we won’t feel so alone. We’ll realize other people are going through the same things. We can then support each other through the experience.

In future newsletters we’ll provide some tools for dealing with the fears every woman has in running her business. But the first step is to acknowledge that it’s there, if not in public, at least to yourself.

May 3, 2020

Zap energy sappers

Filed under: Happiness,mindset,positivity,stress management — 1o49d @ 7:00 am

I bet I’m not the only one having a challenging time keeping up with everything I need to do in one day.  Besides work, there suddenly seems like there are more chores – cooking, cleaning, and even sewing! (My grandmother would be so proud.)  If you are time-challenged to the point it’s affecting your energy and mood, then learning how to zap the energy sappers is for you.

Here’s what I mean by energy sappers:

  1. What does your desk look like right now? Is it clean or messy?  If it’s messy, that’s an energy sapper.
  2. How about your dining room table? Stacked with stuff or a beautiful bowl of fruit or flowers on top?  If there’s clutter, it’s an energy sap.
  3. Go around the rest of your house: laundry on the couch, unmade beds, dirty dishes in the sink, dead plants that didn’t get watered, stacks of paperwork, books, or bills.  Identify these sappers.

When you pass by these items every day, you look at them and what happens?  Your inner critic says “I am behind.”  “That needs doing.”  “Why can’t I keep up?”  A little piece of your energy escapes each time you look at these items and feel deflated.

How can you get your energy back?

  1. Clear the clutter, especially those items that have been sitting there for six months without moving. The world hasn’t fallen apart because you haven’t been able to get to this task.  Put it in the closet to get it out of sight.
  2. Get help from other family members, or if your state’s shelter-in-place rules allow, hire a housekeeper. If you feel that “help” is a 4-letter word, consider reframing that thought to a more powerful one:  It’s a gift to let people help us.
  3. Create an environment that supports and nurtures you. I buy a bouquet of cheap flowers at Safeway, then cut the stems off and place the flowers and buds in glasses around the house for an uplifting, beautiful (and low-cost) look that lasts a week.

Transform your energy sappers into energy boosters and watch your energy and happiness grow.

May 2, 2020

What Is the Happiest Man in the World Like?

Filed under: Happiness,mindset,positivity,stress management — 1o49d @ 7:00 am

Matthieu Ricard is still smiling.  The happiest man in the world has just finished up a two-day retreat in Washington DC with the Mind and Life Institute which brings neuroscientists and contemplatives including the Dalai Lama together to study the effects of meditation on the brain.  He spoke at an Emory University fundraiser headlined by Richard Gere and then flew across the US to my old backyard, Silicon Valley, where he now sits at another fundraiser for Tibetans.

Matthieu doesn’t know it, but I was watching him at all three events.  Other than the Dalai Lama, I don’t think you’ll find someone more relaxed and yet passionately engaged in the present moment at the same time.  Matthieu takes my hands, smiling, and greets me.  He’s not only joyful; he’s approachable and real.

I have been following the Venerable Matthieu Ricard since 2003 when Daniel Goleman wrote about him anonymously in one of my favorite books, Destructive Emotions.    That’s when I first heard his story.  His father is a well-respected French philosopher who socialized in heady circles of Nobel prize winners, successful artists, and genius scientists.  Matthieu earned a PhD in molecular biology and almost immediately after, joined a monastery and became a monk.   Today he resides in Nepal at Shechen Tennyi Dargyeling Monastery in Kathmandu.

The most amazing thing about Matthieu is that when Dr. Richie Davidson, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin, took an fMRI scan of Matthieu’s brain, his capacity for happiness registered off the charts.  That’s how he earned the title of the happiest man in the world.  The thousands of hours Matthieu has meditated has actually changed his brain makeup (neuroplasticity) so that he has 7-8 times the capacity for compassion and happiness than any other person measured.

I asked Matthieu if he would give me an interview.  He said, “I would love to, in joy.”    Matthieu spends 70 days a year on airplanes, is one of the top Tibetan monks in the world, must get asked to come to every benefit, show, interview, and conference there is, and not only said yes to me, but said, “I would love to do it, in joy.”

There’s so much we can learn from Matthieu even before interviewing him.  How can we be “in joy” more often?  How can we add meditation to our lives for the benefit of our brain and our happiness? (Studies show just after three weeks there are fMRI differences, so you don’t have to meditate for 30 years to get the benefit.)  How can we calm our negative emotions?  And how can we greet perfect strangers with a smile, a warm clasp of the hands, and a “Yes.  I’ll do that in joy?”  There’s much to contemplate about the model this master contemplative is for the world.

You can find out more on his website,, or watch one of many of his TED talks,

May 1, 2020

Happiness in the Time of Coronavirus

Filed under: Happiness,mindset,positivity,stress management — 1o49d @ 7:00 am

It’s easy to be happy when everything is smooth and easy.  Enter COVID-19, with its myriad challenges.  How can you be happy with all the changes and fear that it’s brought?

We have some peace- and happiness-generating tools and tips for you.

  1. If your house is full, agree on ways to enjoy each other’s company without getting in each other’s way.
  2. Stay on your exercise schedule, no matter what.  You’ll feel better and be happier.
  3. Schedule in some personal time just for you, whether it’s a spa, meditation, or a walk in the woods.
  4. Start a family ritual that everyone can look forward to. Rituals are such an important anchor for kids and provide them with an identity and a story to hold onto. Your ritual(s) can be anything from a weekly gratitude ceremony to a daily walk to a Saturday morning wakeup call.
  5. Get out of your rut with your relatives, and ask them meaningful questions you may not know: 1-What was the happiest moment of their lives?  2-What were you passionate about when you were a teenager?  3-What is the change you want to see in the world?

If you do get into some squabbles, keep in mind the big picture view.  They’re family and you love them.  Make a bold statement like, “All I want is a relationship full of love, laughter, and light.  How can we get back to that?”

These are just a few tools you can practice during the shelter-in-place rule to make this time more special and less stressful.  If you have ideas, send them to us and we’ll post them.

April 30, 2020

A Story from Sandi’s Happiness Class

Filed under: Happiness,mindset,positivity,stress management — 1o49d @ 7:00 am

Jan (not her real name) was in my happiness class a few years back.  Her birthday was the Saturday before this class, and she had been anxious and a little depressed about turning 50.  Here’s her story:

“Saturday was my birthday and all my friends were there.  It was my 50th birthday so we celebrated at Café Istanbul with the belly dancer going hoochy-coo and it was all fun and good.   That afternoon, I went to get my nails done you know, just get a manicure.  The woman at the nail salon—I pick her because nobody ever picks her.  She’s got really messed up teeth.  She’s from Vietnam and she doesn’t talk very well.  She’s one of the happiest people. “

“I told her it was my birthday and she said, “Well, I don’t have a birthday.”“

“I said, “You don’t have a birthday?””

“She tells me this horrific story which made me think and I wrote it in my little gratitude book that I’m glad I have my birthday.  When her mother was pregnant with her, her mother was a nurse and her father was a doctor and he was blown up in the war.  So, her mother spent like three years looking for her husband and she had the baby and she already had another daughter.  They had no food.  They had no house.  So, she spent all this time looking for her husband and so she said, “You were born in the summer, I think.  I don’t really know.  You were born in 1967.”“

“Then, the nail woman says, “Then, my mom married another man and he was a farmer so we had to go herd the cows when I was like 5 years old and I couldn’t do it.  I ran away.”  They sold her to a woman and she ended up in a refugee camp in the Philippines for 17 years and then she finally made it to America and she works in a nail salon and she is tickled pink.  She is the happiest person. “

“I wrote in my little thing, I’m happy to be me.  I know when my birthday is.  That kind of changed my thought of “well, I’m going to be 50 and I’m not where I want to be in life really” and all these little…I was putting this little negative spin on it.  I left that nail salon and thought, “Gosh, I’m doing well.  I need to be thankful for who I am and what I’m doing.””

It’s all in the perspective.

October 16, 2013

Seven Quick Social Media Tips

Filed under: social media for accountants — 1o49d @ 4:00 am

It’s likely your friends and peers are urging you to get on the social media bandwagon.  Hearing about social media is unavoidable these days. We have many clients that feel stressed about the whole topic.  The stress or guilt comes in when they don’t really want to do it but their friends keep urging them too.

I like to take a contrarian view with social media:  I believe it’s NOT a cost-effective marketing tool for a majority of accountants.  Nevertheless, there are some very important exceptions where it can pay off big.  Here are some ideas just in case you can’t resist getting started in social media.

1-     Know your “why”

Before you start on any marketing channel, we recommend you take a step back and set some goals that you can measure against your investment of time and expenses.  What do you plan to accomplish with social media?  Some answers could be:

  • I want to connect with current clients so I can stay in touch
  • I want to grow my thought leadership position
  • I want to build an online following
  • I want to use social media ads for lead generation

With social media, it’s super-easy to come up with goals that feed the ego but don’t really do anything for your business.  If your business is struggling, be sure you don’t fall into the ego trap because it can be costly and de-rail other, more effective marketing efforts.  Goals like “reach 200 Twitter followers” do not add any profits to the bottom line.  You are better off using less expensive marketing methods than social media for lead generation.

Knowing your why, even if there are some intangible goals and non-business reasons involved, will help you get focused about what you want to accomplish with this channel.

2-     Choose one platform to start with

We recommend you start your social media marketing with one platform at a time, and LinkedIn is the hands-down choice for accountants.   LinkedIn offers far more than marketing benefits; you can meet peers, network for technical solutions, and use your profile as a mini-website that displays your experience, education and certifications, and recommendations.

Get started by spending time completing your LinkedIn profile, connecting with people, and asking for recommendations.  The time commitment is not small; we recommend you spend four to eight hours getting your profile completed and connecting with people.  Then we recommend at least an hour a week to keep it updated.   If you need a boost in your technology skills, you may want to add a few hours more for training so you can begin to get comfortable on these platforms.

3-     Interaction is essential

Marketing channels like email and a newsletter are good for broadcasting, but social media is designed to be interactive.    Plan to spend twice as much time or more listening and reading as you do posting.  You’ve heard it before:  we have two ears and only one mouth.   It’s pretty good advice all around.

To be interactive:

  • “Like,” share, and comment on other’s posts
  • Post thought-provoking questions to get people involved
  • Join groups where you can post discussions and start a conversation
  • Answer other’s questions
  • Let people know you enjoyed their blog or video
  • Make introductions to connect friends
  • Be generous with gratitude and praise:  Congratulate others and thank others when appropriate

4-     Automate

If you post regularly, automate it using a tool such as HootSuite.  You’ll still need to monitor your responses, but it will save a lot of time posting.

5-     You have to market the marketing

One of the downsides of social media is that you have to market it just like you market for clients.  You’ll need to account for the time and budget to build your social media accounts.  If not, you’ll be doing a lot of posting with not too many people listening.

We see a lot of abandoned accounts because people underestimate the time involved an overestimate the payback.  We recommend you go in with your eyes wide open or don’t go in at all.  An abandoned account makes you look like you can’t finish a project or can’t keep up with what you started.  If you have abandoned or inactive social media accounts, we recommend you delete them rather than keep them in hopes that one day you will get back to it.

6-     Getting personal can be powerful

Sharing non-controversial personal news is very effective.  Everyone loves seeing pictures of babies, pets, weddings, and vacations, so share liberally if you are comfortable doing so.

If you are using social media for business, consider avoiding posting strong opinions on religion, politics, and sex unless it’s somehow related to your business.  Opinions turn a lot of people off and will greatly narrow your chances to attract clients that disagree with you (unless that’s what you want).

7-     Keep your pitch ratio low

For every one “pitch” you post asking for business, you should post at least three value-added tips, quotes, or comments.  That way, you won’t come off too salesy, and you will have let your followers know what you have to offer.

Try these ideas in your social media, and send us an invite so we can connect.

October 14, 2013

10th Annual Stevie® Awards for Women in Business


Stevie Award Winners to Be Announced in New York on November 8

Plano, TX – October 11, 2013 – Sandi Smith Leyva was named a Finalist in two categories – Maverick of the Year and Mentor/Coach of the Year in the 10th annual Stevie® Awards for Women in Business, and will ultimately be a Gold, Silver, or Bronze Stevie Award winner in the program.

The Stevie Awards for Women in Business honor women executives, entrepreneurs, employees and the companies they run – worldwide.  The Stevie Awards have been hailed as the world’s premier business awards.

Gold, Silver and Bronze Stevie Award winners will be announced during a gala event at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York on Friday, November 8.  Nominated women executives and entrepreneurs from the U.S.A and several other countries are expected to attend.

Sandi Smith Leyva, CPA and founder of Sandra L. Leyva, Inc., has introduced breakthrough change in the accounting industry by introducing several new products and services to boost the results of the smallest of accounting practices, those earning under half a million in revenue each year.  She has rolled out four new service lines in the past year, including Accelerator Website packages, a new JumpStart Your Accounting Startup program, outsourced CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) services for clients that want to turn everything over to Sandi’s team, and a workshop series.  Client comments include:  “If it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t have a business here today,”  “There seems to be no end to the benefits of your program,” “My income is up 25% over last year,” “Sandi Smith Leyva has helped me work more efficiently, grow my business, and increase profits!”

“For 10 years we have been recognizing the achievements of women in business, and this year’s nominations were the most impressive class the judges have ever reviewed,” said Michael Gallagher, founder and president of the Stevie Awards.  “We look forward to seeing the final judges’ decisions and honoring this year’s Stevie winners in New York next month.”

“What’s great about helping accountants change is that they can pass on the ideas they learned to each of their 200 (on average) small business clients, making a ripple effect of financial success across a large number of small businesses,” explains Ms. Leyva.

About Sandra L. Leyva, Inc.

Sandra L. Leyva, Inc. is a Texas corporation with offices in San Jose, CA and Plano, TX. Accountant’s Accelerator, a division of Sandra L. Leyva, Inc., is a marketing-focused practice growth program for CPAs, accountants, bookkeepers, tax preparers, and other self-employed accounting professionals who want to grow their practices. More than 450 members from 47 states and 6 countries have boosted their marketing skills, learned new revenue streams, and strengthened client retention.  Other divisions include Accelerator WebsitesUltimate Accounting vCon (a joint venture with Long for Success, LLC), BizBoost News, and BrainWays Training & Development.  Learn more at

About The Stevie Awards
Stevie Awards are conferred in five programs: the Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards, The American Business Awards, The International Business Awards, the Stevie Awards for Women in Business, and the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service.  Honoring organizations of all types and sizes and the people behind them, the Stevies recognize outstanding performances in the workplace worldwide.  Learn more about the Stevie Awards at

October 11, 2013

Links I Like – 8

  1. Supreme Court to Decide Payroll Tax Issue on Severance Pay
  2. California Crackdown on Tax Evaders – Good for Business?
  3. Xero Offers Free QuickBooks Conversion Service
  4. Please take Intuit’s Rates Survey

October 9, 2013

Is Your Chart of Accounts Stuck in the 1970s?

One of the value-added services we can offer clients is to align their chart of accounts with their tax form so that the numbers are easy to pull off at tax time.    But there’s an even bigger opportunity if we take a deeper look.

The traditional expense classifications on these forms are badly out of date.  For example, “Advertising” is listed, but “Marketing” is nowhere to be found.  Advertising and marketing are not the same!  Hardly anyone advertises anymore in our profession, but a lot of us market.  While we still need to comply with these forms, we need a different system if we are going to meet the needs of today’s startup businesses.

Changing With the Times

While the default charts of accounts provided with software are much more robust than our current tax forms, they still fall short.  Most haven’t changed since before the Internet.  Almost all haven’t changed for social media expenses.  They haven’t changed to account for cloud accounting costs.  They simply haven’t changed for a lot of new things we have expenses for now.

This disconnect provides accountants with a wonderful opportunity to custom-design a “modern” chart of accounts to meet the needs of today’s entrepreneurs.   My favorite area for improvement is, of course, accounting for marketing expenses.

Where Do Marketing Expenses Get Posted in Your Chart of Accounts?

When it comes to accounting for marketing expenses, I truly believe we need some big changes.  Where do you put business cards expenses?  Usually, it’s coded to office expenses or printing.  Where do you put the costs for a direct mail campaign?  Printing, postage, and professional fees (assuming you hired a graphics designer) contain these expenses.  Where do you put your social media expenses or the cost of your web site?  Since these expenses didn’t exist before most charts of accounts were designed, there might just be some changes that need to be made.

Shouldn’t you be able to see your marketing spend at a glance?

As both a CPA and a marketer, I want to know my total marketing spend at a glance.  I also want to know my selling spend.  That includes labor.  In addition to knowing my marketing spend, I want to know how much we’ve spent on each marketing channel as well as what it costs me to market each of our service lines.

Accountants that can answer those questions for their clients will be providing invaluable advice like a trusted advisor should.

October 8, 2013

Refer A Friend

We’re pretty jazzed to announce our new Accountant’s Accelerator 2014 Refer-A-Friend special offer.  We’d love for you to help us spread the word about our program.  And we think you should be rewarded for your efforts.

So here’s the offer:

  1. Tell your accountant friends about our program.  Your friend must be a new client, not an AA alum.  You can send them to  or  Be sure to show them the testimonials page:  We add new testimonials almost every week.
  2. Email your friend’s name and email address to with a subject line of “Refer-a-Friend,” and let us know you sent them.  We will not contact them directly.  We will not put them on any list.  You have our word on that.
  3. When their sale comes through, you’ll earn a $75 Amex Gift Card that we’ll mail to you.   You can earn multiple gift cards if you send us multiple new clients!

We do have a couple of rules:

  1. This program cannot be combined with our affiliate program.  Any new client coming through on an affiliate cookie will not qualify.
  2. Any marketing messages you send out on our behalf must be completely professional, with no pressure and no exaggerated promises.
  3. In case of conflicts, final judgment regarding this program and prizes awarded will rest with us.
  4. We hope to run this program for several weeks, but we reserve the right to end the program at any time.
  5. No purchase necessary.  Void where prohibited.  Etc. etc.

This offer starts today, so feel free to start spreading the word right away!

Thank you so much for being part of the Accountant’s Accelerator program.    We appreciate you.

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