Surviving #QBConnect

It’s hard to believe that this will be QuickBooks Connect #5! I’m excited to say that I’ve attended each & every one of them, and they have all been filled with moments of inspiration, entertainment, celebration, and memories that will last for many more years to come! As I pack my bags & head to The Bay (yes, I know the way to San Jose) this year, I thought I’d share just a few of my #ProTips on making the most of your time…

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Caffeinate/ Hydrate!

The week will be grueling! You’ll start early, end late, and be on the go nonstop. I make at least one, usually two trips to Philz Coffee each day, just to survive. You’ll also see me chugging water as fast and often as I can (for those who don’t like buying $5 waters at the hotels, there’s a Safeway within easy walking distance of the convention center).

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Bring your Dancing Shoes (and a lot of them)!

You’ll be on your feet ALL. DAY. LONG. I highly recommend bringing a few pairs of shoes to change into on different days, because if you’re like me, your boots were NOT made for walking!

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Be Yourself

Unless you can be a unicorn…then be a unicorn (and drink plenty of #UnicornLibations). QuickBooks Connect is such a great opportunity to meet with partners, small businesses, developers, and colleagues from around the globe. I’ve heard story after story over the years about new strategic relationships starting at QBC and blossoming into great partnerships. Don’t let this chance slip by. Make the most of it & make as many new connections as you can by being authentically you.

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Don’t get Star Struck

We’ve seen Oprah, Martha Stewart, Michael Phelps, and some amazingly inspirational celebrities & entrepreneurs at QB Connect over the years. I think the best lesson I’ve learned is not to go into the event assuming you know what the message will be – if you keep an open mind, you might find that it will be blown when you least expect it.

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And remember, at the end of the day, we’re all the A-List here at QB Connect – they’ve rolled out the QuickBooks green carpet for us all!

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Make time for Friends

Perhaps my very favorite thing about QB Connect is the guest list. It’s the biggest event I attend each year, and sometimes it’s the only chance to give real-life hugs to some of my favorite customers, partners, and friends. Don’t be so busy rushing from session to session that you forget to take a few minutes to enjoy being together. This community is amazing, and each of us play a part in making it better each day.

Get Your BeautyFunction Sleep

For me, I have to make choices. I can stay out late & pretend that I’m the life of the Avalara & TSheets Party, or I can get to bed, get up early for my cardio session, and actually be semi-functional each day. If you can manage both, more power to you, but for the rest of us, my advice: Take a few photos, then tweet them the next morning & nobody will know what time you snuck off to bed!

Soak it All In

I know I’m biased, but Intuit throws a greatparty! We’re here to work hard, learn hard, but play hard too. Keep that in mind as you go about your business this week. As my great-grandmother used to say, “The happiest people on earth are those who make play out of work”.

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One of my favorite memories of QB Connect was getting to lead a Power Panel session last year with an all-star line up. I had to pinch myself just a bit to make sure I was actually working & not dreaming!

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Learn from Smart People

People ask why QB Connect is always in San Jose. Well, with Intuit HQ just up the way in Mountain View, it allows us to send some amazing resources to the event to listen, learn, and interact with some of our most valued customers & partners. If I can help you get connected to anyone on your list – please let me know! My job this week is to make sure you get the absolute most out of your time with us!

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Be Scrappy

A note to my fellow Intuit Teammates: We’re the hosts here, so take the opportunity to roll up your sleeves & jump into the mix (especially if that means getting out of your comfort zone!). This week will be a success if we deliver awesome to our thousands of guests, and that may mean going the extra mile to do so. Let’s be sure we do whatever it takes to show QBC 2018 that Intuit cares (whether that means retrieving partners’ luggage, or settling for the way back seat in the jam-packed SUV – hey, just be sure you’re in good company back there!).

Don’t expect to be productive on Friday…

I suggest keeping your obligations (outside of nap taking) to a minimum when you get back from San Jose. Mark my words: You. Will. Be. Dead. Tired. Prescription for Post #QBConnect recovery: LOTS of R&R!

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Leave Them Wanting More

Finally, I couldn’t put this together without the reminder that this is Brad’s last QB Connect as Intuit’s beloved CEO. I have been privileged to serve at Intuit under this amazing leader for the past 5 years, and I consider that one of my top professional honors. As our fearless leader welcomes us all to his house this last time for QBC 2018, let’s all follow suit with his sentiment and remember to give it our all, and ensure that each & every person who walks through those convention center doors can’t wait to come back next year for more!

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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!