Stronger

If you would have asked a younger me what I wanted to be when I grew up, you would have gotten a very different answer than what you see in me today. As a kid, I was an athlete, a tomboy, a bruiser. I was the last man standing on the soccer field, the first one around the track. Always determine to prove I was just as strong – or stronger than the next kid.

While I never had professional aspirations, I was fortunate enough to land an internship in college that set me up for what’s turned into a 14+ year career in the software world. I quickly discovered how rewarding it was to work hard, get recognized, move up, repeat. I was a workaholic within no time! The fact that I could write my own ticket was addictive. I realized very quickly how much I LOVED being a strong business woman, and I was willing to work as hard as I needed to in order to achieve the goals I began setting for myself. I started to become so proud of the fact that I was building a life for myself – it wasn’t the life I had expected, but I was learning that I was strong enough to go after anything I wanted, and to be confident in myself.

I watched my three brothers meet & marry their middle school, high school, and college sweethearts. I found myself plugging along, building the career I never dreamed I wanted, but had fallen in love with somewhere along the way (I was honestly OK with being the resident Old Maid of the family). I remember at one of their weddings my dear Grandma leaning over & whispering to me “Honey, one day I’ll be at your wedding too”…I quipped back to her “I hope you’re taking your vitamins, it may be a while” (BTW, 3 years ago today, she made good on that promise)!

As a teenager, I was given the great advice to learn how to be a strong Kim, before being anyone’s “other half”. This stuck with me throughout my teens & 20s as I bought my first brand new car, my first house, my nice watch, and continued to pursue professional success. I wasn’t looking for anything or anyone to complete me, I was strong, self-sufficient & fully furnished.

Perhaps that’s why things caught me by such surprise – because I wasn’t looking for it, and I didn’t think I needed it. I didn’t expect the gentleman of a work acquaintance, who always opened doors & offered to carry my bag, to start giving me rides to the airport (and then taking me to dinner after he picked me up). I didn’t see it coming when that friend turned into the first person I wanted to hear from when I signed into Skype each work morning, then the one I couldn’t wait to get a text from on Saturday. Or when my gym buddy & dinner date became my confidant, and my safe place to run when I needed anything. He even managed to catch me off guard when he asked me to be his wife, and we officially started building our dream future together.

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3 years ago was just the beginning. Life definitely hasn’t been the fairytale happily ever after. We don’t spend every day dressed up in fancy shoes twirling under chandeliers at The Parker. We’ve made mistakes, learned tough lessons, experienced loss. But we’ve also dug deep, conquered challenges, had each other’s back, and celebrated personal & professional achievements…together.

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I might have been strong on my own, but one thing is for sure, we’re definitely stronger…together.

Happy 3 years, Babe!

#PSILoveYou

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Game On!

One of the most heated battles being waged today in the accounting industry is over online accounting software – both for those already using it, and those users getting ready to make the switch.  New players are popping up, literally every month, claiming new features, more flexibility, and sporting fancy logos – and there’s about as much mudslinging and smear campaigning as an election November.

Over the past several years, working for companies that allowed me to “play well in the sandbox with everyone”, I’ve been able to make friends, form strategic alliances, and have come to respect so many of the individuals and companies in this arena. I’ve had a front row seat on the sidelines and have watched it all play out as this duel has heated up…until the other day when I got a call.

I’m proud to announce that I’ve been drafted! Effective this week, I’m suiting up to play for one of the largest accounting software companies in the world, Intuit. As a brand new QuickBooks Online is unveiled, so too is our brand new Dream Team, including my new colleagues, Ray Barlow and David Bergstein. Together, we’ll take on the challenge of helping CPAs bring their clients into the Cloud, and deliver the promise that you can never outgrow the new QBO.

 As if putting on an Intuit jersey isn’t satisfying enough by itself, the promise of teaming with industry legends like Darren Root, Doug Sleeter, reconnecting with some of my favorite partners like Bill.com, Avalara, and SmartVault, and working with newly formed connections like Richard Roppa and Stacy Kildal might just be the icing on the cake. The cherry on top is the opportunity to work even closer with one of the most influential people on my career, Scott Cytron.

This will definitely be a marathon and not a sprint, so I’m packing my stilettos, but lacing up my Nikes for the long haul. We’re not afraid to roll up our sleeves, and know that this will be an exciting journey. The key is that we’ll be here to help firms, accountants, and our customers through it each step of the way.

Ready, Set, GO!

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Unplugged on Oahu

Sounds like a dream come true? Think again! Anyone who longs for a business trip to Hawaii (or any exotic destination for that matter) obviously hasn’t ever been on one of my island work adventures. Colleagues, family, and friends often tell me they’re envious of my travels. Unfortunately, at least in my experience, traveling off the mainland for work is no more enjoyable – but often a lot more frustrating – than any other business trip. Now before you call BS on me, let me just give you a glimpse into my little world a few weeks back as I traded in my stilettos for flip flops on my desperate search for power.

After a great-but-exhausting 5-days in Las Vegas for the first part of the week (if you missed my recap, see Hey, Baby – Let’s Go to Vegas!), my commute to Waikiki was extraordinarily crazy. Between the 4 ½-hour drive from Vegas, the 15-minute “layover” at home in OC, and my 1 ½-hour rush-hour drive to LAX, I arrived at the airport a cozy 30 minutes before my 6-hour flight to the beautiful island of Oahu. So, when I finally arrived at my hotel around 11pm local time (3 hours behind PDT), I was beyond wiped.

I managed to be pretty productive on the flight and cranked out proposals, contracts, and even a blog post. But as we approached the island, my battery read my mind and decided it was bedtime. When I got to my room, I quickly plugged in to release the emails I had drafted, but after the day I had just been through, I threw in the towel and decided to tackle the rest in the morning.

To my horror, I awoke not to the sound of waves outside my window, but to the sight of a low battery warning on my iPhone (which was charging from my laptop). I immediately realized that something was wrong, and my laptop wasn’t on. With my poor Ultra Book clocking as many frequent flyer miles as me, I’d been dealing with a temperamental power cord for weeks. Up until that point I had just managed to use the old “wiggle & twist” & “stick a wad of paper in there” tricks to keep things functioning. Not that day though. I was officially dead in the water.

I got creative, managing to use my iPad & iPhone for my morning calls & web meetings…of course, not thinking through the drain on their batteries while doing so. When I finally got a free window, I decided to trek out to the mall to see if I could hunt down a replacement charger. Several hours later, with a dead iPhone, dead iPad, and visit to three different stores, I returned to my hotel room victorious (Mahalo to Jared at Best Buy in Honolulu, my geek in a faded blue shirt, who saved my day & helped me ensure that the cord was the problem).

As I told this story to various people the past few weeks, the common reaction was an overly-sarcastic toned “Oh you poor thing, stuck in Hawaii with no laptop”. To which I can only reply that until you’ve been in my shoes, you’ll never know how bad it feels to be powerless trying to work on an Island.

Hey, Baby – Let’s Go to Vegas!

2013 marked my 4th annual AICPA Tech+/ Practitioners Symposium in Las Vegas. Over the past 4 years this event has stood out as a highlight for some great (and not so great) reasons. This year was no exception: I caught up with some of my favorite people in the industry, spent the night driving go-karts with a bunch of CPAs, and kept up the accounting trade show in Vegas tradition of invading In-N-Out with “In-N-Out rookies”. While this might sound appealing, I assure you that there are also some very serious side-effects involved with any Las Vegas trade show. To prove my point, I figured I’d spell out some of the reasons I love – and love to hate – the annual event that takes place in nobody’s favorite city.

The Good 

The Drive: Anyone else sick of packing in 3oz bottles, TSA pat downs, and cramming 5-days of business clothes into carry-on luggage? Well hop into our roomy Ultimate Edition (or similar) Avis provided rent-a-car for a smooth ride through the desert complete with stop in the now-famous Baker, California for a hard-earned, made-to-order Blizzard frozen dairy treat (held upside down for your viewing pleasure) from Dairy Queen.

Bonus Feature: The sky is the limit for shoes in Vegas (both in height and quantity). The real question is whether the hotel closet is big enough for my entire footwear collection.

The Bad

Let me start by saying that there is no such thing as a short walk in Vegas. A not-short walk in 5” heels makes for quite the commute from room to exhibit hall to dinner to room to…well, you get the picture. Heaven help me if I forget my laptop charger (or any other necessary item) behind. I’ve just lost an hour of my day – and my feet will be cursing me every step of the walk of shame back to my room (purely hypothetical example).

To add insult to injury, I’m fairly certain they have some type of Wurtzite Boron Nitrade for floors throughout Las Vegas, specifically designed to inflict extra pain on trade show attendees forced not only to walk – but stand in 10’X10’ exhibit hall booths. True story: there could possibly be a YouTube video of me walking barefoot through Aria carrying a pair of Christian Louboutins after I was officially defeated by the Vegas floors of death back in 2011.

The Ugly

Rise & Shine Accounting World (if you’re not still out from last night that is)! It’s 6:30am and breakfast is served! Now, let me clarify that “Breakfast” might include grey-centered hard boiled eggs and other “trade show food stuff”, but thankfully, because it’s 6:30am, you haven’t had any coffee yet, so you won’t care!

Speaking of coffee…don’t even get me started. Only in Vegas can you pay over $5 for a cup of terrible coffee that not only won’t give you even the slightest pick-me-up, but also won’t be remotely drinkable. My good friend @OrangeGirlNZ sums up the Las Vegas caffeine woes masterfully in this “Coffee Bible” of a blog (complete with photos). My advice: Live by it, she’s not kidding.

Getting through PSTech week in Vegas is sort of like running a 5-day marathon in high heels on about 5 hours of sleep. While some might prefer to think that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, I think we all know better…what happens in Vegas lives forever on social media. See you next year!Vegas

Things I’ve Learned from my Publicist

In honor of this special day, a tribute to @austinnexus, one of my very favorite people in the world. Here are just a few of the many things he’s taught me:

1. Never let an editor catch you in Chuck Taylors.

2. If you eat healthy 99% of the time – you are entitled to one (1) Mocha Chip Blizzard on every trip through Baker, CA.

3. When it comes to accounting trade shows…nothing good happens after midnight.

4. There’s no such thing as too much (good) coffee.

5. Good things happen to those who follow through and take advantage of every opportunity – even if it takes longer than you think it should.

6. With the right business purpose – you can justify paying just about anything for a great pair of shoes.

7. Always look toward the future – and think about what you want your shoe closet to look like.

8. Your network and your reputation are both fragile: handle with care.

9. You can never be too prepared for a natural disaster.

10. A ride to (or pick up from) the airport can sometimes be the most treasured gift.

11. Let him carry your bags – you’ll be glad you did when you’re pushing his wheelchair in 40 years.

12. The Bellagio tram door won’t even wait for someone as important as him.

13. The best kind of bar is a raw bar.

14. It is perfectly acceptable to drive straight from the gym to In-N-Out Burger as long as it’s not more than once a month.

15. Never underestimate a 4 hour car ride through the Mojave Desert…it just might change your life forever.

Happy 50th Birthday, Mr. Publicist! May the next 50 be even better than the first…

Sprinting to the Finish

I suppose it’s fitting that I spent the final day of the busiest Xpitax/ XCM quarter of the year the same place that I started it – and the same place I spent all but two of the past 17 weeks – on airplanes. What I wasn’t counting on was a first (even for me) ever barefoot 100 meter dash through John Wayne airport. I’m pretty sure I could have kept pace with Michael Johnson in his fancy golden shoes. It’s safe to say that I plan to avoid 6:45am flights this next quarter. It’s also safe to say that I have thoroughly cleaned and sanitized both my feet as well as the inside of my heels.

When you’re as much of a plane warrior as I am, you have to adapt to the road and learn how to make constant chaos your new “normal”. One thing I’ve learned the past three months is that no amount of pre-planning can make up for the accident on the freeway en-route to the airport, or the fact that there are only three (3) taxis in Yakima, Washington (and they don’t like working after midnight), or the rental car worker who decided not to wait up for the delayed flight…sometimes you’ve just got to roll with it (I promise, that is much easier said than done).

When I started at Fujitsu over three years ago, I got some great advice from a colleague who put his arm around me and told me “Kiddo, pace yourself – if you don’t, you’ll burn out”. Boy did I think of that conversation over & over the past three months! Little did I know back then just how much I would rely on those words of wisdom in my next career chapter. It’s amazing how true this is not only in business, but in life in general. For people pleasers like me, learning to pace ourselves, not take on too much, and most importantly, not spread ourselves too thin so that we can’t do anything well, is vital not only to our success, but to our survival.

I’m so proud to be a part of the XCM & Xpitax team as we continue to set new records for both organizations. I’m even more proud to know I’m playing a part in hitting those marks, and pushing us to the next level. While I’d love to stand up and do the “XCM Quarter Three is Over” victory dance & celebrate the milestones that we’ve achieved – I don’t even know that I have the energy to do so…I’m feeling a bit more like Kerri Strug in Atlanta – raising my hands in victory, and limping off to recover.

So as January comes to a close, and we turn the page into February, it’s with great pleasure that I now hand off the baton to my clients – get ready, folks, it’s your turn to run the tax season race now! I’ll be here cheering you on, dropping by hugs and coffee and other necessities. We know you can do it…just remember to pace yourself!

The Trade Show Diet

I’ve been to a lot of trade shows. From Vegas, to Orlando, to D.C., to San Diego, to Fargo, to Atlanta, to San Antonio, to San Francisco, to Puerto Rico – there is one thing that absolutely never changes: the food. Normally I’m a big fan of consistency. Take In-N-Out Burger for example – anywhere you find that signature yellow arrow, you know you’ll get a fresh burger, hot fries, and if you’re in the mood, a creamy vanilla shake. Trade show food, however, has a bit less favorable type of consistency – it’s ALWAYS terrible.

Forget about trying to eat healthy. Who’s ever heard of Protein, Vegetables, Grains, and Dairy? The four types of trade show food groups should actually be: Something Fried, Something Drippy, Something Soggy, and Something Fishy. Some of my absolute favorites from over the years would be the “over-boiled-in-mass-quantity gray-centered-eggs”, the “antique-leather-boot Prime Rib roast” (a recurring feature), and my all-time favorite – the “cockroach-essence French rolls” (a completely different story in and of itself). I used to truly believe that it’s impossible to screw up a sandwich, but not anymore – I’ve had one (or two) of those along the way too.

To add insult to injury, most events are so crazy that you’re only able to eat one or two of these terrible meals a day. The starvation approach does offset the fact that the infamous 6:30 a.m. breakfast tends to cut into any possible gym time. I often joke about getting plenty of leg workouts during a tradeshow walking around in my heels, but in reality, there’s nothing that makes up for the fact that you can often go days without even seeing a fresh veggie that’s not covered in salt, slathered with butter or drowned in oil.

Of course, this strategy could also lead to the worst possible scenario: the day you find yourself cleaning your plate – and even commenting to your lunch neighbor, “Wow, that was pretty good!” Right then and there, you know you’ve been overcome by a full-blown case of too much trade show food.

My advice: back away from the buffet table and plan for success. I never leave home without my emergency supply kit containing dried fruit, nuts, protein bars, and homemade energy bites…because you never know when you’ll need a peanut butter banana low-carb tortilla wrap at midnight in National Harbor, Maryland (not that it’s ever happened to me).

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