Fueled By Passion…Fulfilled by Performance

It’s Friday night, about 8pm Mountaint time, & I’m sitting in the Denver Airport United Club waiting on what’s turned into about a 3 hour flight delay. I should (hopefully) be home by midnight, but it’s unlikely any sooner…

In the last 18 days for work, I’ve been in 16 cities, driven well over 20 hours (across 5 states & 3 tropical islands) in 7 different cars, slept in 8 different hotels (and 1 airplane), been on 8 flights (and I still have 1 more to get home), spanned 4 time zones…and met with 17 firms & hosted 6 QuickBooks Online training events attended by over 100 accountants.

Oh, and did I mention I was home for a whopping 67 hours last week between trips?

Needless to say, my life has been an absolute whirlwind the past few weeks. I’ve had to make decisions like “do I care more about getting in a training session or cardio or sleep” (knowing I may only be getting 3-4 hours of sleep regardless). I’ve been on hold at 1am more than once with the United Premier desk trying desperately to figure out how to make it to my destination or home before midnight and without driving hours as my glass slipper gradually becomes a pumpkin. I’ve far exceeded the recommended dosage of protein bars & tuna packets (in my car racing from one meeting to another). I’ve fallen asleep more than once with my face in my laptop somewhere between 1am & 3am local time. My earliest (but not only pre-dawn) call was at 4:30am local time. And, I’ve managed to pack in more first-time meetings with new partners than I typically do in a month (or more).

Am I exhausted? Drained? Sleep deprived? In major need of a few days at home (and manicure)? Heck yeah – but am I energized and inspired by all of the amazing conversations and “light-bulb moments” that I’ve experienced in the past 3 weeks? HECK YEAH! These past few weeks have been an amazing reminder to me of why I do what I do – and why I push myself so hard.

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There’s a sign at my gym that reads, in part: “I’m obsessed, a word the lazy use to describe the dedicated”. I read it constantly when I’m training, and use it to motivate myself to push harder, lift heavier, go faster…but recently I’ve been thinking of that even outside of the gym. It’s really become part of my core, part of my why.

After making the 90 minute drive from a firm in Northern Utah this afternoon, my last meeting of the trip, I arrived at the airport to this message from them in my email:

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I had so many similar conversations with partners I’ve been meeting with that it’s impossible to even think of slowing down. Those conversations and their excitement has propelled me into my next non-stop day & I’m so excited to keep turning on the gas over the next few months.

I’m extremely fortunate to have a husband & family that enable me to put my career and my partners so high on my priority list. I honestly couldn’t do what I do on the road without my life-line back home. We’ve made a commitment to each other to support both of our careers, and have adopted a “work-life integration” motto (thanks for the term, Ed Kless). I never feel that I’m taking away from my home life by putting so much of myself into work – instead, I’ve got a built-in motivator cheering me on (and me him) each step of the way.

Throughout these daunting marathon days, as I’d drive from meeting to meeting, to hotel, to airport, I got to share the great news of another awesome visit. Each time I was reminded (as usual) that it’s moments like those that motivate me to keep going, and affirm why every flight, every mile, every early morning, and every tuna packet are just adding fuel to my fire.

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This week, as is typical, was a blur – but sometimes those whirlwind weeks are pretty sweet, too. It’s always a great feeling when you can celebrate victories in both your personal and professional life at the same time…and that’s just what this week was for me.

Last Sunday started off with a rushed “turn & burn” trip to the OC, and a chance to spend a day walking down memory lane for Miss Kim. I’ve mentioned Mackenzi before on the blog, the oldest of the “Four M’s” that I used to nanny while in college (and beyond). With life passing by faster than ever, I don’t get to see the now nearly-grown kids as often as I’d like – but there are some moments that you just have to make happen. No. Matter. What.

Sunday was one of those days, as I sat in the audience with her three brothers and a handful of family members and watched my little smarty pants graduate high school (of course, at the top of her class).

I wish I could take more credit for that moment, but still, memories of kindergarten homework flooded back to me. I know that, if nothing else, there are little “Miss Kim” imprints on my Mackie from years ago that will be with her as she heads off to UCLA this fall. I fully believe she’ll achieve everything and anything her heart wishes, and I’m so excited to see what she accomplishes next.

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While I was cheering her on here in SoCal, I had to play proud partner from across the country as one of my great friends and managed account partners, Mark Stricker of Wipfli, headed to Orlando to celebrate being named to Insightful Accountant’s Top 100 ProAdvisors for 2017.

I’ve worked with Mark since arriving at Intuit and there’s no partnership I’ve fought harder for over the years. I’ve watched him go from QB Desktop Expert at a regional firm, who had no interest in moving online, to becoming the internal champion leading the charge and paving the way to shift a national accounting firm’s small business division over to QuickBooks Online.

There has been blood, sweat, tears (more than you may think), and if you ask Mark, lots of rain whenever I’m in Chicago. We’ve come so far and I’m so proud to have had a part in watching him soar. The day he called me to tell me he made the list, I couldn’t have been prouder of anyone for anything. As we virtually high-fived each other on the phone that day, I remember asking him “did you ever think anything like this would have happened when we first met 4 years ago?”…he agreed, it was pretty much beyond his wildest dreams.

Mark earned that recognition and I’m so thankful that I got to share that moment with him. I’ll look forward to watching him continue to succeed as he leads Wipfli forward and helps them become a #QBFirmoftheFuture.

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As I wrap up this week and prepare to leave Sunday for what is bound to be another action-packed week of traveling, It’s pretty sweet to take a few moments and recognize the victories in life – personal & professional (and let’s face it, the professional ones become personal too). They help remind me why I do what I do every day – because at the end of the day, week, month, the sky’s the limit when you set your mind to it…so make it count, and #WishBig!

Cherish the Moments

I wish I could say I didn’t need that reminder, but I think once in a while, we all probably do. I’ve always been a self-proclaimed workaholic – and there’s nothing wrong with that as long as I keep my priorities in order. As TSheets ran their #MinutestoMoments campaign this holiday season, I’ve found myself stopping a little more here & there & really focusing on why I work as hard as I do, and ensuring I put the same amount of passion & effort into the non-work areas of my life too.

I feel like I blinked and 2016 is gone – heck, the last time I even blogged was in August, and I’m pretty sure I said the same thing about a year of being married passing by so fast. For the most part, I feel like I’m pretty good at living in the moment & not constantly wishing for days to go by, but this year especially, I got glimpses of exactly why that is so important…

I remember last New Year’s Eve driving up to see my little nephew & spending what turned out to be the last day of his only-child life with him while my sister-in-law got some last minute baby-prep done at home. Little did we know, that January 1 would never be the same for our family…now New Year’s Day fireworks will always be “Happy Birthday Oliver” fireworks for us.

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As a married couple, we’re two for two. A few weeks after celebrating our first anniversary, we unplugged (mostly) and escaped for some R&R in Hawaii. I can say that spending 5 days with my best friend in one of our favorite places on earth brought several memorable moments to add to our collection.

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As work continued to be as busy as ever, it was also one of the most rewarding years of my career. Our typical slow season while accountants are busy with taxes turned into the busiest season to date for our Business Development team. That rolled into a crazy summer, followed by a hectic fall, which culminated with a trip to New York courtesy of Intuit celebrating our successes with Brad & company. It was such an amazing chance to reflect on the blood, sweat & tears (literally) that the past 3 years have brought. As we circled the statue of Liberty that October evening, all that work became worth it in that moment.

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Sometimes you don’t realize how important moments are until after they happen…In November, I was asked to speak at a conference over a weekend, and it meant I would have 36 hours to kill somewhere between Chicago & Atlanta. I decided to head to Detroit to visit my Grandma & took the chance to go see my other grandparents while I was in town. Little did I know it would be the last time I got to see my Grandma Jan, as she passed away just weeks after my visit. The sense of peace I had in knowing that I took the time to go share some laughs & hugs with her will be something I’m grateful for as long as I live.

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I couldn’t do what I do day-in & day-out if it wasn’t for my amazing support system of (work) friends. As Gail Perry pointed out, the only down-side of the holiday break is that we have to go so long without seeing each other. From early morning on-the-road workouts with Kelly (#FriendsThatLift), unexpected dinners in Vegas with Donny & Chelsey, Philz runs with Seth, countless adventures with so many others, and above all this year watching our entire accounting community rally around Matt Rissell. There are too many moments to list, but I’m thankful they’re all etched in my mind.

This holiday season was one where I chose to go offline for the most part. I could blame it all on spending 24+ hours in the kitchen over Christmas week making family dinners two weeks in a row, but honestly it was also intentional. It was so great to put the phone away, not even open Facebook, and spend some time with my boys. We don’t get nearly enough quality time with our son, but over Christmas we made epic breakfast sandwiches, his favorite snickerdoodle brownies, there were new Nikes all around, and we even got in a family workout. I was on cloud 9, and I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend.

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As I look back on this year, it’s easy to see why the reminder is needed. Life tends to fly by all around me and at times the only thing I can do is keep going for fear that if I stop I’ll never get caught back up again. So as we welcome in 2017, my goal is to remember to really cherish each moment, whether it’s work or play. I’ll always be a workaholic, but I will also be a wifeaholic, step-momaholic, auntaholic, and friendaholic. I have a feeling I’ll be putting my new workout gear to good use this coming year, because things aren’t slowing down one bit!

Wishing you & yours a very Happy New Year & all the best in 2017!

Earning Customer Loyalty

This time last year, my amazing fiancé (now husband) surprised me for my birthday with a 6-month coaching package from an online fitness coach I’d been obsessed with following for several months through various Social channels. For once, a fitness persona who uses hashtags like “#TeamPants” & “#MyMomFollowsMe”, and is 100% focused on bettering herself and anyone who will follow. It’s not an overstatement to say that Sarah Bowmar has changed my life.

Upon first look at the program (meal plan + cardio + weight training routines), I was completely overwhelmed & remember telling Brian “there’s no way I can actually do this while traveling like I do”. But for anyone who has spent any time with me on the road this past year, it’s clear that where there’s a will, there’s a way – and I’ve made it happen. Even if that means living out of a cooler in a hotel room, or eating MRE-style tuna pouches while driving across Southern Illinois.

But I promise, this isn’t a blog about fitness – in fact, one of the things I respect so much about Sarah has nothing to do with fitness at all – it has to do with her ability to earn customer loyalty – and that’s something we all can agree is a highly sought after skill…

From the moment I discovered Sarah, I was hooked – skimming through all her Instagram posts, Tweets, YouTube videos, and diligently saving her newsletter workouts to cobble together some of the most challenging workouts I’ve ever done – all with material she provides to followers for free. I remember for a split second thinking “why do I need her coaching package, I have everything she does already?”, but I underestimated her – and myself.

I know for many accountants, they’re doing things on their own as well – I’ll often meet a firm who has a great start to their online practice, and I’m so impressed that they’ve done it with little to no resources from Intuit, but it’s clear they’re struggling (and often frustrated). It’s so fun being the one who gets to break the good news to them by sharing everything we can provide to them as part of our managed account team. Ultimately, It’s an opportunity for us to really earn the loyalty of our partners, who have put their trust in us, by putting their clients on our platform.

As I’ve watched Sarah & her husband, Josh, build their businesses over this past year, I’ve seen myself go from “freemium” user, to client, to supplement user, to elite member of their bowmarfitness membership website. I’ve seen her soar to over 1 million Instagram followers (giving back regularly to loyal followers by doing weekly – sometimes daily – giveaways). And I’ve caught myself feeling such a sense of gratitude for what she’s done for me…and through that, an amazing sense of loyalty. There are millions of places I could go online to find more workouts, but I choose to come back to the Bowmars, because they invested in me, and earned my loyalty.

There’s such a sense of accomplishment when I know that partners who previously recommended other solutions have now shifted to QuickBooks Online. Accounting software is just a tool, and they all have debits & credits, but what can set a tool apart from another is the people behind that brand. I only hope that I can be a similar inspiration to the accountants I work with every day. I hope that my managed firms feel valued, appreciated, and even inspired by me as they make huge strides and move closer to the daunting task of taking their practice online. I imagine when many of them first hear my  pep talk, they feel a bit overwhelmed too, but I’ve seen some of my firms make amazing progress this past year, and I can’t wait to see what the next year brings.

Throughout the year, I’ve sent progress check-ins to Sarah, and she’s been an amazing encouragement, as well as providing me guidance on things to do differently. Anything worth doing in life is challenging, but having a cheerleader rooting you on sure helps. She constantly makes me feel like she feels proud of the difference she’s made in my life.

In the same way, I absolutely love getting the call or email from my partners telling me “got another QBO for you”, and I love that we’ll often do a virtual happy dance together when a big one comes across. It’s such a great privilege to represent a company like Intuit, and help earn customer loyalty for QBO. I love feeling like I’ve helped make a difference in my partners’ careers…and lives.

Play Your Position

Growing up playing soccer, I learned many lessons about being a good team player: don’t hog the ball; cover for your teammate when they need it; when you get a break-away…don’t look back! As the resident center forward, I spent most Saturday afternoons gloating about how many goals I scored – of course, very aware that it took an entire team to get me the ball, cover for me, and ensure that while I was sprinting down the field with the ball, nobody was going to sneak up on me at the last minute and make me miss the shot. There’s no way I would have had the successful 10-year run in the sport had it not been for my teammates.

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And every once in a while, when the lineup was laid out, I would see my name somewhere other than front & center, but on defense instead. I admit, I loved being the star & getting the high-fives for making the victories happen, but it was also very necessary to fill in when I was needed in the back field – or to give others a chance to be in the spotlight. So I would take the field and give it 110% every time, and be sure that I helped our team win every way I could.

Little did I know that 20+ years later, I’d be using those childhood soccer lessons in my professional life. For the past 9 years, my various roles have centered mainly around attending accounting conferences and trade shows – I made my name in the accounting world as “ScanSnapKim” by doing so, and have met so many amazing people on the road at shows. While the show circuit can be exhausting at times, there’s such a great community in which you become a part, and I look forward to seeing them at each event.

When I started at Intuit back in 2013 as part of a new Business Development team & program, we saturated the events world as a way to get our message out to our accountant partners. The past 2 years have been absolutely brutal, but amazing at the same time. I’ve often compared it to building a skyscraper – you have to first dig down deep, to ensure that you’ve got a solid foundation that will support the exponential growth yet to come. Of course, very few people see how much effort goes into building everything below ground – it’s always the building that gets the attention.

With that, we’ve had an incredible past year, as QBO has hit and passed the one million company mark here in the U.S. – and our team is a huge part of that growth. I’ve loved being part of this success – scoring victories along with my accounting firms as they transform their businesses into being firms of the future with QBO and cloud technology – and getting recognized internally and in the accounting profession for doing so.

All the success has come with lots of changes too – new leadership, new initiatives, new responsibilities. As we round out our fiscal year, I’ve been asked to play a new position, which will keep me out of the conference circuit for most of the remainder of the year. For the first time in years, I’m missing some of the “can’t miss” events that I look forward to each year. But I won’t be putting my suitcase away. In fact, I’ll be traveling more than ever as I visit accounting firms and work strategically with them to transition their practice…those meetings, which are vital to our success at Intuit, don’t however have event hashtags.

So as I sat in an all-day training session in Dubuque, IA this week, and now rush around the Mid-West from meeting to meeting, I’ll be thinking of everyone at Expensicon. Last week I could only sympathize with my fellow ITA members as they braved the Houston floods at ITA’s Spring Collaborative. And when I see all the photos from my work friends in the Bahamas next month at Scaling New Heights, I’ll likely be driving from firm to firm in Southern California. I’ll be missing all the laughs & photo opps, but I know I’m where I need to be to help Intuit reach our next goal.

My absolute best season of soccer ended unusually for me – I didn’t make the all-star roster, which was tough for me to swallow…but at our end of the year party, my coach presented me with the game ball – the ball with which we won every game of the season but two, the ball that took us to a sudden-death shoot-out in the championship game, the ball that she told everyone I had put the most marks on throughout the course of the season.

My hope is that as I play my position at Intuit this year, I’ll be fortunate enough to put a few marks on our game ball, and when I see everyone next year, I’ll have some great stories to tell about what we’re doing to help or firms reach for the cloud.

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6 Ways We’ll Know if #QBConnectOrBust is a Success

That’s right – we’re doing it again! Why fly when you can spend the entire day driving to QuickBooks Connect! As you can imagine, a lot can happen when you put 6 people in a Ford Expedition for 445.5 miles, but here are 6 ways that we’ll know the trip was worth our effort!

  1. If we get there & Wally World is open
  1. If we avoid the need to intentionally drive the car off a cliff while holding hands and humming aloud Hans Zimmer’s “Thunderbird”
  1. If we don’t have to leave Richard’s luggage on the roadside to make room for our dead uncle in the trunk area
  1. If nobody strips down to their tighty-whities and succumbs to the invisible fire after crashing into a ravine alongside Interstate 5 near the Grapevine
  1. If we don’t find out in Bakersfield that there’s a bomb in the car that will go off if Brian lets the car go below 50mph
  1. If we arrive in San Jose safely in our rental car and not a Las Vegas PD squad car with a tiger in the back seat

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Be sure to follow all of us for #QBConnectOrBust updates! We’ll be tweeting from the road as we make our way to #QBConnect on Sunday, November 1.

Kim Austin | The Hostess with the Mostest | @Kimtuitive

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Brian Austin | The Transporter | @AustinNexus

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Kelly Bistriceanu | The Party Starter | @KellyTSheets

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Gail Perry | The Documentarian | @GaPerry

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Jan Haugo | The Troublemaker | @JazFun

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Richard Roppa-Roberts | Curmudgeon | @NeverCallMeRich

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Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

As tradeshow season winds down each year, and we all have a chance to catch our breath, another exciting season kicks in – Accounting Award Season. Sure to the outside world, it might mean slightly less than winning an Emmy or Golden Globe, but for those of us inside this community, we all look forward to seeing who made the lists, and, more importantly, what they had to say about what’s going on in the profession today.

2015 has been an amazing year thus far – I’m still pinching myself – at times praying – I don’t wake up from the most amazing dream ever. In June, I was honored by CRN Magazine as a Woman of the Channel. In August, I got my new last name (the one I hinted at in What a Difference a Year Makes). And in September, I was blown away to see that new name listed on Accounting Today’s Top 100 Most Influential People list, as well as CPA Practice Advisor’s 40 Under 40 honorees.

Proud, excited, humbled, honored – absolutely; All of the above. But I can’t just look at all of these accolades without highlighting one very key factor. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that it’s the most critical piece of every one of these honors. When being considered for any of these lists, there’s always a questionnaire to complete…each one had a common question:

Who has influenced you & what impact have they had on your career?

It’s always my favorite question – because it’s the one chance I get to share just a tidbit of the wisdom that so many influencers have bestowed upon me. I’ve always lived with the philosophy that you should be proud of how high you climb, but you must remember those who have boosted you up – without them you would never have reached that next level. So when Accounting Today’s Top 100 list came out, it was this excerpt on Mentoring the Influential that I was the most excited to see.

Fortunate doesn’t begin to describe how I feel about those in my life and career who have chosen to invest in me – I love having the opportunity to publicly thank people like Geni Whitehouse, who quickly learned to read me like a book, and filled me with a lot of her wisdom & even a little dose of her confidence.

IMG_1732Friends like Gail Perry, who’s love of adventures on the road has led to great moments of bonding, and whose fierce loyalty has proved a coveted gift.

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Or amazing Powerhouse women like Caroline Cummings and Intuit’s CMO, Caroline Donahue both of whom became inspirational female leaders and role models to me this past year after meeting them.

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I love rewinding 10+ years and remembering the manager who hired the new college grad intern from upstairs – then hired me again to run his channel – Lee, I hope your “Kiddo” has made you proud, thank you for believing in me.

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And at a very special time in my life, it’s been satisfying to finally be able to express how much my husband, Brian, AKA “Mr. Publicist”, has done to change my career – and then my life. Without him, I may have never met so many others who have made a huge impact on me.BK

I wholeheartedly believe in paying it forward, so while today I’m thankful for these mentors of mine, my dream is that one day, I’ll make the cut as someone who made a difference in somebody’s career…maybe then, I’ll consider my work done…maybe.

“If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” -Isaac Newton