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.

#FriendsThatLift

This past week was a whirlwind trip to #QBConnect…an amazing time with so many awesome people. I knew before I left that I would blog about the trip, but it wasn’t until Wednesday night that I realized it wouldn’t be a real QBC 2015 blog without it including Kelly Bistriceanu (Kelly B to some of us). So we got together & jotted down our thoughts on how we got through the last crazy week. Without further adieu, here you have, a View From OUR Shoes…

We’ve both been on the road nonstop for weeks, and constantly doing “the best we can” to stick to our programs – eat right, sleep enough, workout as much as possible. But anyone who travels like we do knows how difficult this can be during conferences.

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We’ve traveled together enough to know that it’s entirely possible to implement the buddy system for the greater good. Instead of slacking off together, sleeping in & sneaking back to our room with dessert, we’ve often held each other accountable and gotten up before the sun to get in our morning workouts, and have made many impromptu Trader Joe’s/ Whole Foods pit stops to ensure we’re sticking to our healthy eating plan. Heck, even when we’re not together we still manage to spur each other on.

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It’s always possible, it just requires a little planning & a lot of commitment. Our #QBConnect plan of attack actually started weeks ago, as we emailed & texted each other, strategizing about shelf-stable portable meal ideas to take with us in the car for our 10+ hour journey to San Jose. We even spent our weekend in Palm Springs in the gym getting pumped up for the big show…

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We were prepared to succeed and we stuck together to make it happen. #QBConnectOrBust didn’t have to bust our program.

Looking back on the past year, working out & eating right are just two examples of the Kelly & Kim strategy to building a solid partnership. It is our work worlds that have brought us together, after all, and we’ve taken full advantage of that whenever possible. From mutual introductions to industry contacts, to co-presenting at national accounting firms, to driving across the country to meet with more firms, to Friday night email conversations, to weekend strategy calls in airports while traveling to our next event, the partnership we’ve built has evolved from professional colleagues to “work friends”, and ultimately friends – no strings attached.

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As hectic as life on the road can be, having someone who’s there to lift you up (or wake you up), bring you coffee (or pre-workout), give you a hug (or share a backseat of an SUV for almost 11 hours), and cheer you on to the finish line (or crawl over it right next to you), can be the most amazing gift. In a world where so many people try to keep personal-life/ work-life in two distinct boxes, for us there’s really no separation of the two. Now that we’ve helped each other survive & thrive when it’s needed most, we’ll always be #FriendsThatLift.

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About Kelly…

Kelly Bistriceanu is the Accountant Program Director at TSheets Time Tracking.  An avid competitive runner, fitness competitor and group exercise instructor, Kelly thrives personally and professionally by ensuring her passion for fitness integrates seamlessly into her road warrior life style. When not traveling the globe, helping accounting professionals become successful TSheets PROs, Kelly and her husband Daniel call beautiful Boise, Idaho home base.  Follow Kelly’s #TSheetsWorldTour adventures on twitter and Instagram @KellyTSheets.

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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Growing Tomorrow’s Small Business Ecosystem

Millennials, schmillennials! For all the bad reputations today’s teenagers and young adults get (and some for good reason), last month my friend & colleague, Valerie Heckman and I had the privilege (and yes, it was definitely a privilege) of spending a day with 13 youngsters who will be running tomorrow’s SMB universe.

A few months ago, one of my national firms, Kellogg & Andelson in Woodland Hills, CA, shared with me that each year they host a Summer Internship program where they bring in a handful of high school students from the local Granada Hills Charter High School. Lorene Dixon, the VP over Bookkeeping at the firm, who is extremely active with the school, started this program as a way to give local high school students the opportunity to spend a week inside the firm to get their feet wet, and most importantly, to come out with a sellable skill. Her dream is to one day get a resume from one of these students after they graduate from college, and come back for a job at the firm.

Traditionally, she’s used part of the week to train the students on QuickBooks. As she’s moved her own clients over to QuickBooks Online this past year, she knew that in order to provide this year’s interns with the best possible skill set, the focus needed to be on the cloud. She asked if Valerie and I would be willing to come in and present QBO – and that’s just what we did.

With Intuit putting such a high value on serving our communities through our We Care and Give Back initiatives, I was thrilled and honored to be a part of this program. As is so typical when you find yourself in any sort of service role, I know we got so much more out of this experience than we gave. As Valerie said, “I absolutely loved the opportunity to show QuickBooks Online to this eager group of teenagers. Their reactions, their questions, and the stars in their eyes reaffirmed what I already know: QBO is designed for the firm of the future. You really can’t get more ‘firm of the future’ than a group of 16 and 17 year olds that are already interning at one! It’s exciting to think about how much we’ve grown as a culture in recent history so much so that the expectations they have as they enter the workforce are far different than what mine were and I’m only a little over a decade older than them. I find it thrilling that we at Intuit can and will continue to grow QBO to fit the needs of all generations of accountants and small businesses. Can’t wait to see where we’re headed”.

I have no doubt that our “baby sharks” (as Valerie dubbed them) will grow into future small business owners, accountants, app developers, and, maybe even an Intuit BDM and Product Specialist. These kids, or young adults I should say, were not your typical high schoolers. I didn’t see or hear a single cell phone, didn’t get one hint of adolescent attitude (not even when we got on our soapbox about what they should and should NOT post on Instagram, Facebook, and SnapChat). We almost forgot we were talking to teenagers until we asked them who had a bank account and not a single hand went up.

Their eagerness was motivating even to us. When we wrapped up the day, we had several students ask us how they could become QBO certified and where they could sign up to be a ProAdvisor. I encouraged them to start building their network that very day, and told them LinkedIn should be an app on their iPhones. That afternoon as we drove out of the parking lot, Val and I lit up when we both received a LinkedIn request from one of the students…she had gone straight home and built a pretty darn impressive profile. Her job experience? Intern at Kellogg & Andelson.

For as fast as we all run, as many planes we get on and typically feel like we’re never going to catch up…it was such an amazing experience to spend a few hours with this group – thank you, guys, for reminding us how important and rewarding it is to invest in our future. Don’t forget to come find me when you’re running the world some day! Go get ‘em!

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Win Together

Last week I had the amazing opportunity to take part in the first-ever Intuit Global Business Development Manager Summit in Mountain View. As I geared up for four days with my US and international counterparts, I admit, about all I could picture was long days and late nights – but what I wasn’t expecting was all the laughs, and the valuable lessons learned in those four days.

The beauty of this event being at Intuit HQ is that we were honored to receive visits from Intuit executives from our Founder, Scott Cook, to the head of Small Business Group, Dan Wernikoff, to our CEO, Brad Smith. Not to mention the weeklong commitments made by Jim McGinniss, Mark Dean, and Caroline Donahue, as well as Country Managers from our global regions.

Throughout the week, we discussed social selling and building personal brands, compared notes from the Canada, Australia, UK, and India teams, heard directly from a panel of accountants, and strategized on how to tackle the challenges that no doubt will face us this year. There was so much knowledge, perspective, inspiration, and energy flowing through the room all week. There’s no question that my favorite part was meeting and spending time with colleagues I didn’t even know I had…here are just a few of my favorite moments that I thought I’d share.

I admit I was a little star struck by Intuit’s Founder, Scott Cook. The inspirational story of Scott’s early Intuit years filled with uncertainties and struggles only make me prouder to be a part of the company he’s built – and I hope I continue to make him proud to say “To me, YOU are Intuit.”

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The UK BDM team, led by Nick Williams, wasted no time showing their true colors – by opening up their turn on stage with a karaoke-style parody of “I Get Knocked Down” entitled “We Win Together”. Video footage may or may not exist (sorry, Bounce Bounce).

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My new pals from down under lived up to the Aussie reputation. Meet Birthday-selfie-Geoff Craig, who managed to steal photos with every Intuit exec he could find on Thursday (what coincidentally was his special day).

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For comic relief – we had Nick Skiadopoulos from Australia…who had us in stitches from day one and by the time we left I had laughed so hard it hurt. Bonus points to him for hopping into the Twitterverse in style with this hilarious first tweet.

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Oh Canada! What a great group of BDMs including Angela, who showed up to the BDM Summit on her first day at Intuit, and our gracious photographer, Steve Beech. I had a blast chatting about social networks & online presence with these guys while we froze our tails off touring San Francisco.

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As if the week hadn’t been great enough already, we closed it down on the heels of his record-breaking earnings announcement, with a visit from our CEO, Brad Smith – who’s parting advice was to “Be the best you you can be”.

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I’m so thankful to be at a place in my career with a company who invests so greatly in us as employees. It’s no easy task bringing 60+ people from around the globe together – and coordinating another 25+ to present and ensure that we came away better BDM’s than we were when we got to Silicon Valley. I hadn’t had the pleasure of meeting the famous “CD” before this past week, but flew home with a new sense of respect for the leading woman at Intuit. Once again, thank you, Caroline for spending the week with us.

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As you can see – it was quite an action packed week. I came home sleep deprived, under-caffeinated, and with a giant to-do list. But am I a better employee, and person, after last week? To quote Mark Dean – “Hell YEAH!”

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Genuine

There’s just something that bugs me about seeing someone’s news-ticker Twitter feed. You know, the one that never seems like a real a person, but just a constant stream of recycled & retweeted content over and over and over. Dave Cieslak from Arxis Technology has often said it best: “I want to know your thoughts, not what you think about everyone else’s.”

Granted, I think it’s great to represent your company, be a team player, and share exciting news – that’s part of what enables us to be an extension of our corporate brand. It just can’t be everything that it’s about.

When Twitter feeds turn into news feeds, they lack personality…and somehow, I feel they also lack authenticity. How do I know that person is even the one tweeting? It could be coming from any PR agency, Marketing department, or Personal Assistant & nobody would be the wiser. 

Part of what I love about social media is the ability to get to know people I work with that live miles away and I only get to see in person once or twice a year. In order to do this, you have to let your personality show, you can’t just be a CNN headline factory.

Just last week I hosted an Intuit Women’s Network (IWN) “Coffee Chat” in our Tucson office. I thought it would be great to have an Intuit partner share thoughts on being a woman business owner with our group, so I was thrilled to invite Gabby Luoma as a guest speaker. When I introduced Gabby to the group, I mention the fact that before I ever met her in person I got to know her on Twitter. When I got the opportunity to finally meet her face-to-face, I felt like I already had spent hours with her. 

Gabby shared her perspective on being transparent in her business and on social media, and sharing some of her personal life experiences with her professional contacts. I immediately relate to her on this topic, as I too have tended to take on the blurred lines between work-life and home-life. In a world where people do business with people they know, like, and trust, creating a personal brand and letting it show on social media is an amazing and powerful tool. 

Some of my closest professional friends are people I first met via social media as opposed to in person. They are people I saw online, and based on their online presence I knew I wanted to be their friend. If they didn’t let their personality shows through, and just retweeted somebody’s content, I never would have known how much I wanted to know them.

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