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By Stephen R. Covey, A. Roger Merrill, and Rebecca R. Merrill

Published by: Simon & Schuster, 373 pages

Review by: Michael Goldstein, CPA, feature article editor--The CPA Journal

This paperback proposes a different approach to time management. Rather than offering another clock, the authors provide you with a compass. The clock symbolizes how we manage our time and what we do with it. The compass represents what we feel is important, and how we lead our lives. According to Covey and the Merrills, following your personal compass is the key to achieving maximum effectiveness, along with balance, and personal peace.

The authors make a clear case throughout the book for the claim that more important than how fast you are going, is where you are headed. One entire section (approximately 120 pages) of the book focuses concisely on the theme--the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing, while including among other things, how to create balance and synergy among the various roles in
your life.

For those who are interested in reinforcing or better understanding how to implement some of their "slightly dormant" beliefs or those who are looking for "something better" before they find themselves harassed by another busy season, this paperback can serve as a guidebook. A portion of the book which I found particularly interesting and useful were the appendices including a mission-statement workshop and a problem-opportunity index designed for easy access to material in First Things First. *


By Wanda G. Spruill and
Charles W. Wootton

Jennie M. (May) Palen was born in Samsonville, New York, the daughter of Frank and Mary Every Palen. In 1919, Palen graduated summa cum laude with a B.C.S. (Bachelor of Commerce and Science) degree in accounting from new York University. When Palen graduated from NYU, few women majored in accounting, fewer tried to enter public accounting, and virtually none were hired by major accounting firms.

Due to the shortage of male auditors caused by World War I, Haskins & Sells hired Palen for their auditing department while Palen was still in college. However, at the time of Palen's graduation, with the war over, Haskins & Sells offered her a position in their writing area (report reviewer). Here, Palen remained during her career at Haskins & Sells. Palen later wrote that report writing was one of the few areas in which a woman could start at a major accounting firm.

In 1923, Palen became one of the earliest women in the State of New York to receive a CPA certificate. In December of 1923, Palen joined The New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants (NYSSCPA) and for over fifty years was a member of the Society. In addition to being a speaker at several of the Society's meetings, Palen wrote six articles (under her name) and three articles (under The Committee on History s name) for the Society's journal, The New York Certified Public Accountant. For a special issue celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the NYSSCPA, Palen wrote "A History of Women in Public Accounting, an article in which Palen described the significant events and major contributors to the entry of women into the accounting profession.

In 1923, Palen began her writing career in response to Haskins & Sells's nationwide essay contest on the subject of "How May We Improve the Quality of Our Service to Clients?" Forty-two members of the organization from across the United States entered the contest. Palen's essay was awarded second prize ($50) and was published in the Haskins & Sells Bulletin. In 1927, Palen wrote her first technical bulletin for Haskins & Sells entitled Grammatical Construction and the Use of Words in Accountants' Reports.

In 1935, Palen probably became the first woman in the United States to make principal at a Big Eight accounting firm, and later she headed Haskins & Sells' report department. Although her job carried with it tremendous responsibilities, Palen was not eligible for partner status because she lacked the required audit experience. In an interview with Rita Hull, in Biographies of Notable Accountants, Gordon Hill (who made partner at Haskins & Sells the same year that Palen made principal) reflected upon this: "They did not send women out on audits in those days... and that is the only reason Jennie did not make partner." In 1949, Palen retired from Haskins & Sells with thirty years of full time service, including fourteen years as a principal.

In 1936, Palen joined the American Institute of Accountants (AIA, now the AICPA). Over the years, Palen established many contacts with members of both the NYSSCPA and the AIA which greatly aided her while she was president of the American Woman's Society of Certified Public Accountants (AWSCPA).

Although active in numerous organizations, Palen's greatest leadership role was in the AWSCPA, where she was a member for over fifty years. In addition to writing for and serving as editor of the AWSCPA bimonthly journal, The Woman CPA, Palen served as vice president and president (1946-1947) of the organization. Among Palen's goals, during her term as president, were to increase women's participation in both the AIA and the AWSCPA and to increase the communication and cooperation between the two organizations. Another goal was to increase the national organization and local chapters' involvement in supporting or opposing legislation that would effect women or the accounting profession. For example, in 1947, the national AWSCPA (led by Palen) and local AWSCPA chapters joined with other accounting societies to strongly oppose the Oliver Bill which would have granted "CPA" waiver certificates to certain applicants in New York State.

For several years after her retirement from Haskins & Sells, Palen maintained an accounting practice in New York City. In addition, Palen became a widely-known ghost writer for speakers and continued to write articles for journals such as The New York Certified Public Accountant Journal of Accountancy, and The Woman CPA.

In 1955, Palen wrote a major text, Report Writing for Accountants for Prentice-Hall Inc., in which she covered such topics as auditors responsibilities, the audit report, and the major financial statements. Palen also served as senior accounting editor for Prentice-Hall from 1963 to 1966. Here, one of Palen's major responsibilities was supervising the writing of the two-volume Encyclopedia of Auditing Techniques. In 1956, Palen wrote a chapter for the Standard Handbook for Accountants. An excellent example of Palen's writing skills and the current relevancy of her thoughts is presented in that chapter. Palen writes: "If the accountant, in writing his report, will visualize himself on the witness stand under cross-examination, he will vastly improve both his thinking and his method of expressing his thoughts."

In 1957, Palen accepted an accounting teaching position (1957-1962) at Baruch College. At Baruch, Palen was a faculty adviser to the staff of the Accounting Forum. The Forum was a well-established journal published by the Accounting Society of the School of Business and Civic administration and was a leading publisher of articles by women. In fact, Palen wrote "Women in Accountancy: 1933-1953" for the twentieth anniversary issue of the journal.

Palen became interested in poetry while taking a course in journalism at NYU. In a 1971 interview with James Nolan, editor of The Journal of Accountancy, Palen said as a young accountant she would take the train to upstate New York to visit her family. Then, along the way, she would write a poem and sell it to the New York Sun and that paid for her trip. During her life, over six hundred of her poems were published, and several of her poems won awards.

Palen's love of poetry caused her to be active in several organizations. She joined The Pen and Brush Club in 1952 and later became vice president and president of the organization. She also served as president of the Brooklyn Poetry Circle. Although born in Samsonville, New York, Palen lived most of her life in New York City, and several of her poems reflected the city and her life there. Included among these are "Manhattan Skyline: Dusk," "Battery-to-Brooklyn Tunnel," and "Frail Altar, Palen's tribute to the United Nations building. Paraphrasing one of her favorite poets, Robert Frost, Palen did not take the road most traveled. In 1918, when she started to work for Haskins & Sells, few women entered public accounting, which often was deemed an inappropriate career for women. Palen not only chose this career, she succeeded in it for more than fifty years. Jennie M. Palen died on December 8, 1990. *

Wanda G. Spruill is an associate professor of accounting at the State University of New York at Geneseo. Charles W. Wootton is professor of accountancy at Eastern Illinois

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