As if the past year didn’t have enough excitement, my 2023 has started off with quite a bang! I havn’t even hit my one-year mark here at Avalara, and I was just starting to feel settled in on my amazing A-Team. So of course, I’ve been given an opportunity that I just can’t turn down.
Amid a recent restructure, a mission presented itself to lead Avalara’s Accounting Strategic Alliance Managers team. Overnight I’ve inherited seven rockstar teammates. With less than a week in this new role, I headed to Seattle where I was privileged to watch MY team absolutely clean house at our recent Sales & Marketing Kickoff. Together, with our cross-functional colleagues that make up the Avalara for Accountants team, we’re on a quest to provide the best partner experience to each of our firms, and uncover new ways to drive success together for Avalara, our partners, and mutual clients.
Honored doesn’t even come close to the feeling I have that Jeff Roth (and the Avalara leadership team) has entrusted me with this group. I don’t know that I’ll ever truly be able to express my appreciation to Jeff Sobers, who is literally guiding me step by step into a role he has previously turned to gold, and is now handing to me on a silver platter. I’m ecstatic to help unite the various players on the Avalara Accountants team, and am indebted to Sona Akmakjian, once again, for believing in me to partner together and build out this branch of her program.
I’m beyond excited to reconnect with all the firms and partners I’ve worked with over the last 15 years, and get to leverage all the relationships I’ve built (if we haven’t been in touch lately, please reach out and let’s re-connect!). More than anything, I’m so proud to be joining this group and help them reach further and climb higher than they’ve ever been before. We have big goals to reach in 2023, and I have full confidence we’re going to exceed them!
I know a picture is worth a thousand words. So here they are – take a good look at my new dream team: Ben, Brigitte, Brett, Jamee, Jeremy, Jesse, and Mike. Thank you all for the warm welcome! I promise we will work hard, play hard, and sleep later! It will be a true privilege to help lead our Accountants team to the best years ahead!
As I look back at 2022, like any year there were highs and lows…but as I sit here trying to sum it up, I keep coming back to one phrase: make it count. I have a bad habit of getting so focused on my routine, and letting “busy” be an excuse that keeps me from taking the scenic route, or stopping to smell the roses. But there were several moments this year that served as reminders that life is short, and we can’t take anything (or anyone) for granted. We never know what tomorrow holds, so we have to seize the moments and make the memories while we can.
I love how much family time I got this past year. We kicked off 2022 with a surprise visit from my out-of-state brother (and nephew) for Dad’s milestone birthday. I took an unexpected road trip detour on a business trip where I got three days with my TX extended family (sadly, as we said goodbye to my adoring Aunt). I made the most of my last-minute mileage run just this week to visit my recently relocated nephews in Ohio. We celeberated Thanksgiving AND Christmas with our son. And there were more Palm Springs visits from my baby brother and little bestie, G, than I can count. My heart is definitely full!
On the work front, I couldn’t be more grateful for all that 2022 brought me professionally: a new company, incredible boss and mentor, amazingly supportive global team, FINALLY getting back on the road after a 26 months travel freeze, and a handful of accolades to boot. This year I took a leap and wow did it pay off! It’s so incredible to look back on a year ago, when my comfortable (albeit demanding) work world first started to shift. I had no idea what was in store for me, but I’m feeling so confident that I’ve made the absolute most of every opportunity!
After years of talking about it, we finally decided to flip our lives upside down this year, as we added four feet to our family. Brian and I have definitely been on our toes as we navigate puppy-parenthood, and sheepishly admit that our world now revolves around our 7lb furry roommate. We’ve also added new dialogue to our household such as, “Ruthie, we don’t eat Christmas!”. Thankfully (Grandmas to the rescue), we still got to sneak away, twice (for the first time in years, but who’s counting?), and enjoy a few weekends out of the desert celebrating the weddings of several friends. After the past few years of being grounded, we’ve definitely got the travel itch again, and we’re excited to see where 2023 will take us (literally)!
I’m typically not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. Everything in me says that we should be setting goals for ourselves every day of the year, not waiting to stop bad habits or start good ones each January first. But there’s something about this new year that has me gearing up for something big. I feel like I’ve got so much momentum and I can’t help but be excited for what’s to come…
Here’s to a New Year and the chance to reset, regroup, and remember to make it count!
In so many ways I feel like I’ve blinked and 7 years have flown by (somehow, it will always seem like it’s been just 3 years that we’ve been together – sort of like how the 90’s will always be 10 years ago)…yet at the same time, it’s hard for me to remember life before you, Brian.
As I’ve been in the road this week, I’ve been looking back on the last 12 years with you, and thinking of the things we’ve managed to pull off: me commuting 90 plus miles between OC & Palm Springs; endless business travel & many miles in between us for days; moving 4 times in as many month; sharing sub-500 square feet of living space (and living out of boxes for over a year during a global pandemic); starting a business; spending nearly 26 months together almost 24/7; and now learning to keep a living creature alive (and preventing her from destroying our house). I guess it makes sense that the days, weeks, and years have passed by in a flash.
I love thinking about the “god old days” and reminiscing about meeting you, our epic 45 minute drive home from Vegas, our Baker, CA Blizzard tradition, the countless “strategic alignment” sessions at Peet’s Coffee, all those rides to & from the airport, and me finally figuring out that we were dating (3 weeks or so after it accidentally happened). But I also wouldn’t trade a single moment of our life today, because somehow you’ve managed to make every year with you better than the one before.
I’m so grateful to know that whatever challenges we’ll face ahead, we’ll take on together. We’ve managed to become an unstoppable team & I know we can handle anything!
I know today’s just another day, and we were both resolved with me being stuck on the road, but I won’t deny that I have a bit of the Christmas Morning feeling 30,000 feet in the air, knowing I’m coming home after all.
Happy 7th Anniversary ~ being your wife is my most favorite job of all. Thank you for making it so easy to love you!
Have you ever made a decision, then watched as everything around you seemed to fall perfectly into place ─ and step by step you saw, felt, and just knew in your heart it was the right choice? Well, let me tell you a story about the last few weeks…
It’s certainly not the first time I didn’t see the curve ball coming my way. I had just been promoted, and was happily humming along my merry way. One Friday afternoon, at the end of a very long week, my wiser half reminded me that there’s a big (Orange) world out there. In an attempt to prove his point, Mr. @AustinNexus asked me to make a phone call. After the last 12 years together, if I’ve learned anything at all, it’s to always do exactly what Mr. @AustinNexus says to do.
That 15-minute phone call turned into another, and another (thank you, Sona Akmakjian)…and before I knew it, I was falling in love with the thought of taking a leap, of joining a hungry team, of building something that years from now we’ll look back on with incredible pride, and most of all, of wearing Orange and officially becoming an Avalarian!
Today I begin a new chapter, as I accept the role as Director of Global Strategic Accounting Partnerships at Avalara. As the kids would say, I’ve got all the feels. I’m anxious to dig in and get to work building out our strategy. I’m excited to partner with new teammates and have the opportunity to learn and grow. I’m so looking forward to getting back on the road, finally, and being able to make eye contact and sit in the same room again with accounting partners. I’m quite frankly petrified that I’ve forgotten how to walk in stilettos (people, it’s been 25 months since my last business trip!).
Amid all these mixed emotions that I’ve navigated the past several weeks, three reminders have sustained me and become the perfect tag lines for this season:
Everything happens for a reason
I’m fully confident that although change can be uneasy, stressful, and even uncomfortable, God put me right here, right now for a very specific purpose.
Timing is everything
I’ve known Avalara longer than I’ve known Mr. Austin, and even talked about joining the “A Team” several times before (always indebted to Marshal Kushniruk), though it just wasn’t the right moment of harmonic convergence…until now!
The best is yet to come
If we don’t get uncomfortable, we don’t grow. I can’t wait to see all the ways I’ll be stretched for the better in the new role. I’m looking forward to this next season where I get to become the best version of me!
On October 28, 2013, I tweeted a tweet I never expected to tweet. It was a photo of my new Intuit badge, sent from an amazingly outfitted campus in beautiful San Diego, where I sat for my first day of new hire training. And, eight and a half years later, I’m sharing something I never expected to share, as I turn in that same badge today. Funny enough, the caption remains the same:
Remember every new beginning is some beginning’s end…
For those who haven’t known me that long, the story of my joining Intuit is one that I’ve often compared to “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days”. I really wasn’t that interested, but with each conversation I had with tenured Intuit employees, I became more excited about the company, more enamored with the culture, and more impressed with so many of my future colleagues.
In some ways much is still the same, yet in others, everything has changed. When I got to Intuit I had just turned 30, and was racing to make all the accounting profession “lists” (much in part thanks to my then boyfriend, who I often referred to as my publicist). I had a few years of experience with large firms, and was anxious to continue building my personal brand with the incredible accounting professionals that had so graciously adopted me into their community. Today, as I prepare to say goodnight and sign-off one last time, I do so as Mrs. Austin (marry the guy who always makes you look better than you are). I succeeded in landing on the list of all lists (THREE times!),and before I’ve hit 40, I can talk about the decade of my career that I’ve devoted to serving top firms, and helping them reach their goals. I guess you can say that I grew up at Intuit.
I’ve been fortunate to work with some incredible people over the past eight years – some still here, and others have moved on as well. I found myself posing with Intuit CEO Brad Smith at the top of the rock in New York City, celebrating the top achievers at Sales Club (and would have had more of those adventures if not for Covid). I traveled all over the US – from Hawaii to Florida, and just about everywhere in between – sharing how QuickBooks Online can change firms’ practices, and accountants’ lives. I snapped selfies with Intuit Founder Scott Cook in a packed cafeteria one April 15th while we both participated in the TuboTax LifeLine “all hands on deck” week. I spoke at national conferences, and I was able to give back by investing in the future of the profession while working with firms’ internship programs and guest-speaking to high school and college students. I had an amazing mentor, and I was privileged to be able to mentor a handful of my teammates too. To all of you who have been part of my Intuit story – thank you from the bottom of my heart, and know that I’ll forever have your imprints on me. I truly hope that I’ve made an impact on you as well!
Anyone who had the honor of serving at Intuit under Brad Smith knows the power of “Bradisms”. As I tried to find the right things to say today, it’s no surprise that I went straight to Brad’s words – to a personal note he left me here on this blog, shortly after he stepped down as CEO, which ended with one of his familiar mantras, and some of the best advice I could echo:
You know that saying, “there’s only one way to go from here!”? Well, be careful when you use that! How many of us had that attitude coming out of 2020, with no idea that an entire year later, “normal” would still be a semi-mythical term to describe the way things were in 2019. Granted, for many, things have relaxed or returned to at least a new “normal”, but living in SoCal, and working for a huge company like Intuit, we’ve still felt pretty un-normal this year.
2021 might have topped the scales in some regards for most challenging year yet (not exactly the achievement I was hoping for). I said goodbye to several grandparents, we worked ourselves to exhaustion, we didn’t even come close to the other mythical term in our home: work/ life balance.
On the flip side – there were a handful of highlights too: My auntie heart grew by 2 feet (and 19 inches), we upped our pandemic cardio game by adding a Peloton to my office décor (751 rides later), we managed to sneak away off the grid for just a couple days with Brian’s family for some Austin time (checked “explore abandoned gold mine” off the bucket list), and we got to celebrate birthdays and the holidays here in our new home with family.
One of the things I will always remember the most about my beloved Grandmother, is that no matter what challenge she faced, she never ever complained. She always looked at the bright side, talked about the positive, and sought out the joy in any circumstance. She even had a little song about it that my brothers and I rolled our eyes to as children, as she’d hum it along our merry way. What I wouldn’t give to hear her gentle voice humming that little tune…I miss her dearly, but somehow I feel like her gift to me this year was to remember that. I find myself thinking of her often when things get tough, and laughing about what her spin on it would have been.
As I’ve taken time this year working on my own personal growth, and spent many hours in self-reflection, I’ve acknowledged that by nature, I’m a stresser, a worrier, and as my son would say, “if future tripping was an Olympic sport, I’d definitely take the gold medal”. Who knows what tomorrow will have in store for us – I’ve learned my lesson about planning too far ahead these days. But this year has allowed me to step back and look at the world like Grandma. To see the bright side, to celebrate the beautiful moments, stop stressing about tomorrow, and instead be content in the moment – even if it’s just for today.
May you find the joy in the normal, the reward in the struggle, and may 2022 be filled with countless (big and small) moments worth celebrating…Happy New Year!
I know, the first thing you’re thinking is “It’s 2020, aren’t we ALL home?!”. But trust me when I say, this is a huge milestone: we are actually home!
When we started packing our home up September 1, 2019, I told everyone “hopefully we’ll be home for the holidays!”. I never imagined that we not only would miss that deadline but would be an entire year beyond it. After 14.5 months (444 days to be exact, but who’s counting?) of being displaced due to the never-ending (self-induced) construction project, I can’t think of any better way to close the chapter on 2020 than saying, we’re finally HOME!
I heard someone say this past week that we’re about to get bombarded with all the year-end messages about how we all thrived in 2020 and came out of it so much better than we were at the beginning. I’ve joked about the book I’m going to write someday: “How to Voluntarily be Homeless During a Global Pandemic and Still Have the Best Year of Your Career”. But let’s be real. It’s been a rough year. Rougher for many others than for me (I know I’ve really been only minimally impacted). I miss my nephews. I miss my Intuit colleagues. I miss seeing my firms. I even miss the United Club. I really miss the gym! And I could go my entire life without another Zoom call and would be just fine. But more than me personally, my heart goes out to those I know and love who have been challenged far beyond my inconvenience of being trapped working at home for almost a year. We’ve seen friends & family suddenly lose their jobs, cheered on colleagues who navigated home schooling meets board meeting at the same time. When COVID-19 was not enough to deal with, we’ve buried loved ones & prayed some of our closest friends through cancer treatment and high-risk surgeries.
When I look back on my post a year ago (“2020 Vision”, now that’s funny!), It’s actually affirming to realize what we did accomplish, even though it looked a lot different than I expected. I laid out specific goals and promises that I wanted to achieve and keep: Positivity, Passion, Priorities, Play, and Protect.
One of my biggest challenges starting 2020 has turned into one of my greatest blessings as we end the year. It’s been such a perfect reminder to me that a positive outlook on a very trying situation can prove to be life changing. I’ve learned grace, patience, and been stretched in ways that have helped me grow as a person. Never forget that the mind is our most powerful muscle.
Speaking of muscles…I did get my Personal Training and Fitness Nutrition Coaching certifications! Not without some extra drama (nothing like deleting 60% of your final exam the day before it’s due to bring me right back to those college all-nighter days). When Coronavirus and lockdown threw a monkey wrench in our fitness routine, I managed to get creative. Brian and I have learned to enjoy our home gym, and my walking desk has become one of my favorite places to be. I’m grateful to be able to continue pursuing my passion for fitness and truly incorporate it into my work-life integration.
It’s almost funny (too soon perhaps) to look back a year ago and remember how unbelievably burned out I was. It felt like I hadn’t slept in the same bed for more than 2 nights in months, and I definitely was not getting any downtime at home. Brian and I have joked that we’ve spent more time together in 2020 than in the entire decade we’ve been together. This year we celebrated 10 years together, and our 5th wedding anniversary…somehow take-out, Netflix, and carrot cake on the couch was as appropriate as ever! I’m confident that my priorities are officially reset. I also added a new term to my vocabulary in 2020: Road sick…
We might not have had enough play time this year, but even the playground needs to be built. I can’t wait for next year’s holidays when I can finally enjoy the smell of cinnamon rolls in the oven as our son predictably requests the middle one. Or for Summer weekends with my favorite little people gathered at our big kitchen island eating Uncle Brian’s famous breakfast (donuts). As we’ve worked to resettle in back at home, we are excited about all the memories we’re going to be able to make here with family and friends for years to come!
Perhaps the biggest lesson 2020 taught me was perseverance. They say when you’re raising kids the days are long, but the years are short. Well, I think that goes for pandemics too. I feel like days dragged like never before. Yet I look back and everything’s just a blur. I was forced to get really creative on how to accomplish my goals, and even manage to set some new ones (did you know that it’s really, really hard to walk 1 million steps in a month?). I somehow managed to push myself to the point of exhaustion without leaving the house. I most definitely had to deploy a few Plan Bs (and possibly a few Cs and Ds), but in the end, we made it work, one day at a time.
So, while this past trip around the sun didn’t go quite as any of us had planned, I think it’s safe to say that how we’ve navigated these “uncertain times” (yep, I did it, I used “uncertain times”) will have taught us lessons that will last us a lifetime. Nothing’s really changed, our future plans, our mission, our mindset is all still the same, except this year I won’t dare say I’ve got perfect vision, but I can wholeheartedly confirm that hindsight is indeed 2020!
Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year and a wonderful 2021!
5 years ago, I woke up for the last time as Miss Hogan. As I opened my not-a-morning-person eyes, the first thing I remember was seeing my sweet grandmother sitting beside me with a beaming smile. As I started to sit up, she whispered to me “you’re getting married today, my dear!”…It was so fitting that she was there that morning, since she was the one who would constantly remind me that my time would come…I just needed to wait.
As any good Hogan woman, I jumped up into action. It was just after 6am and I had a whole laundry list of to-dos to get done before I got to say I do. But that was nothing new, I felt like I’d been waiting for this day forever…probably because I had. After all, it had been 5 years since my youngest brother had gotten married, but as he once predicted, when I finally did find someone, there wouldn’t be any doubt he was the one.
I wasn’t the little girl who dreamed about some big elaborate fairytale wedding. I had no interest in a poufy dress that trailed behind me half a mile. I didn’t need to come riding in on a rainbow unicorn pony. I wasn’t dead set on packing out my childhood church sanctuary with hundreds of people, and dancing into all hours of the night. I was simply just over the moon that after all the waiting, I was finally about to marry my best friend.
It wasn’t so much that I had known since 2010 that I was going to marry him, or that I had been commuting 90 miles between OC and Palm Springs since 2013, or even that by 2014, everyone around us was give him major grief about when he was going to put a ring on my finger. I knew it would happen. He knew it would happen. That’s all that mattered to us.
The waiting started long before I ever knew where I’d wind up…it started when I went through high school and found myself babysitting instead of going out on Friday nights. It continued into college when I threw myself into my studies and muscled my way through business school in 3 years (while basically working full time). It became a theme post-college when I had the most amazing friends, but never seemed to find anyone who I imagined could be more than a friend. When my three brothers and I all smashed into my 2-door Honda Civic on the way to my baby brother’s wedding, I recall my older brother declaring “3 down, now we just have to get Kim hitched” & I rolled my eyes, thinking “good luck with that”…
But as the saying goes, good things come to those who wait. Or in my case, good people. Even if I was the last person to realize it, the day I met Brian, is the day I finally met my match.
5 years after we promised forever, I don’t think we ever would have pictured being where we are today (once again, waiting). We should be walking the streets of Paris together, or exploring Bora Bora and staying in one of those over-water bungalows…or at least lounging on a beach in Hawaii reliving our honeymoon trip. But one thing the last 10 years with you have taught me…if you’re there, it’s always worth the wait!
Brian – You’re the answer to my prayers. You’re my reward for not settling. You re-taught me how to believe in myself. You re-ignited my confidence that I had let others extinguish. You massively upped my shoe game! I had no idea how great life could be before I had you to share it with me. You’re my proudest accomplishment. You’re my perfect dessert sharer: 3/4 for you, 1/4 for me (except for carrot cake – you better cut that straight down the middle)!
Happy 5th Anniversary, Babe! I would wait forever all over again for you! #PSILoveYou
It’s been 7 weeks of #LockdownLife here in Palm Springs…life has become incredibly simple, yet complex at the same time. During one of my recent quarantine walks, I jotted down my thoughts on a few things I’m seeing and hearing through my social channels, so I decided I’d share my “Lockdown-Life Lessons” with you all!
Set (or reset) expectations – I see so many people (Instagram fitness influencers are most guilty) saying “oh just be ok that you’re not going to make gains right now” or “just stop looking in the mirror”. While I 100% agree we need to be kind to ourselves most of all, I don’t think we have to throw in the towel on reaching goals. Maybe you need to change your mindset? Set a new goal? My April commitment was to get 20,000 steps a day & I’m proud to say I did it. Even if it meant walking laps around the kitchen at 11:30pm, or walking for 2 hours in the rain, or bribing my husband to escort me around the pitchdark neighborhood with a flashlight when it finally cooled down below 100 degrees.
Be kind – everyone is dealing with SOMETHING. Some more than others, but even if it’s small things like missing the gym or your morning coffee house ritual, it matters. Don’t have a short fuse – cut everyone a little extra slack.
Unpopular opinion – if you don’t feel like dressing up, doing your hair & makeup, and setting up a proper “home office”, then don’t. Do what makes sense for you. If you’re working in a strange location (because you’re home, or perhaps, like me, are out of your typical away from home routine), it’s ok. You’re going to be just fine. Figure out what works for you & just do it one day at a time. Even if that means living in workout clothes with a headband on and your laptop at the kitchen counter.
You can never have too many headbands!
Find a way to give. My heart has been so filled during this time of disequilibrium by doing little things for people. It may seem like an insignificant gesture considering the grand scheme of what’s going on in the world, but I promise you it’ll be repaid by the joy you get by pouring into someone else right now.
To the mamas & daddies out there: You’re. Doing. Great. Don’t be afraid to lock yourself in the bathroom with a box of Kleenex for a “parent-teacher conference”. I was homeschooled K-12 (as were my 3 brothers), so I know what you’re dealing with right now, even if I was on the other end of it back in the day. Your kids will bounce back just fine. If you keep them alive, you get an A+!
I’ll never complain about going to Costco ever again…I miss Costco.
Move – you’ll be amazed how good it feels to walk around your block. Don’t let this be an excuse to permanently assume the Netflix & chill position. If you want to watch 2 hours of TV, force yourself to move at least half that much.
Be an encouraging voice – even when you might not think you are, your words, and actions, are being amplified during this time. The impact you make might surprise you.
You get out what you put in – if you decide this is a time to sit back on cruise control, by all means, take advantage! But if you have a mission to come out the other side of this better than you came in, don’t let anything stop you. I promise you won’t regret it.
Meet Ivy, the name & face of Ivy & Co., a small boutique filled with unique handmade accessories & gifts located in a revamped warehouse space on Kauai. Ivy’s mom, Rebecca, and I go back to our college days in Orange County, when our paths crossed at Chapman University. After graduation, she moved overseas briefly, but then returned to her hometown of Maui. She eventually met & married her husband, Kit, and they’ve settled down & built their family on Kauai. 15 months ago, they expanded the Co. by adding Ivy’s little sister, baby Teak, to the team. Over the years, we’ve only seen each other a handful of times, but we’ve kept in touch in big part because of Ivy & Co., which is my go-to source for some of my own favorite accessories as well as adorable baby gifts. I’ll forever hold a special place in my heart for Rebecca as a friend who has been there for me when I needed it most. When this opportunity came up to do just a little something for a small business, I knew I had to pick Ivy & Co.
I’m beyond grateful to work for a company that’s made a tremendous commitment by launching our #SmallBizRelief initiative, in partnership with Yelp & GoFundMe. Intuit gave each and every employee the ability to sponsor a small business of our choice, which means up to 9,000 small businesses around the globe will be supported & highlighted during this uncertain time. It’s such a great commitment to our mission: Powering Prosperity around the World.
I’m typically a fixer, a doer, a problem solver. The impact of Covid19 on me personally is frankly quite minor: I don’t have small children, Brian & I already work from home, and as I have learned the past month of being in social quarantine, I’m apparently not very social in person anyway. Most of my relationships & interactions (by nature of my normal life traveling), wind up being online, via text/ FaceTime, etc. The hardest party of all this is missing my daily workouts at the gym (but I’ve gotten creative with that too, and I’ve settled into my new normal routine).
My heart aches though for everyone around me – here in our small town & around the world – who are struggling personally & professionally. We’ve seen the doors close, we know the owners who are scared that they won’t be able to reopen. We know those who have lost their jobs & are just hoping their employers make it out the other side & rehire them. I know moms who are desperately trying to keep up with their new roles as teacher on top of everything else they’re holding together. And I have friends with new babies, or sick babies, or who are sick themselves & carrying heavy loads with very little help.
While I know I can’t save the world, as my great grandmother always said, “if everyone does a little, nobody has to do a lot”. So even if it’s just a little, I’m thankful that it’s something. If everyone can make a little difference, then together, we’ll make a big difference – who knows, maybe we can even change the world?