When Work Stops Being Work

I wasn’t ever able to meet my Great-Grandmother, Nellie – she passed away several years before I was born. My parents, determined to instill in me her wisdom, even gave me her name (Kimberly Nelle – this is after she insisted that she “wouldn’t even name a dog Nellie”). My three brothers and I grew up hearing stories about Grandma Nellie, who had played such a big role in my mom’s childhood. Of all the stories we heard though, one in particular comes to mind as I travel around doing this thing we call “work”. See, Grandma Nellie always said, “The smartest and happiest of all people are the ones who make play out of their work”.

This was what my parents used to tell us as my brothers and I would be facing the daunting task of cleaning our bedroom…perhaps that’s why I remember it so well (we heard it a LOT). But as I’ve grown up and had a taste of “grown up work”, I realize just how great this advice truly is.

I’m pretty blessed. Sure I work my butt off, and travel all the time, sometimes go without sleep or food (or both) – heck, sometimes I’m just happy if I can tell you what time zone I’m in. But all in all, I absolutely love what I do – and the number one reason I love it so much, is because of the people I’ve met along the way. Last week was a great example of that –where my weekend-off disappeared, yet I still managed to love every moment of where I was and who I was with.

The ITA (Information Technology Alliance) provides two opportunities each year for those of us in the accounting world to connect with industry colleagues, partners, clients, and friends in a special way. By drawing some of our profession’s biggest names & brightest stars, each Fall & Spring ITA event winds up being a sort of “Accounting Who’s Who Schmooze Fest”, to say the least. The intimate setting of just a few hundred people ensures that quality networking time with the right people is also a priority. And the best part: No trade show booths! Those of us that work the trade show circuit know that those events serve a purpose, but something that really sets ITA apart from other industry events is the way we as vendors are able to really integrate ourselves right into the community in a very organic way.

Above all, these gatherings give us an opportunity to build lasting memories with our peers, that otherwise wouldn’t happen. From late-night In-N-Out Burger runs, to field trips to local oyster bars, to perfecting the art of “Steveing” (which is a completely different blog post by itself), to quality heart-to-heart conversations with people who have walked down roads in their career that I will one day cross myself, there’s really something magical about this group. And every once in a while, a memory is made like the one below that won’t soon – or ever – be forgotten. While I may not be the smartest person, Grandma Nellie – thanks to your advice, I’m most definitely one of the happiest…

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