Thanks to @IntuitBrad…

This post comes a bit belatedly. Technically, Brad Smith’s last day as Intuit’s CEO was December 31, 2018. But this past week we had a chance as an Intuit family to come together & celebrate Brad’s impact on each of us that wear Intuit blue. He may not be sitting atop a Silicon Valley org chart anymore, but his inspiration, influence, and imprints will remain in and on each of us forever.

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So, before it’s too late for me to have an excuse to do so, I wanted to say a quick “Thank You” for some of the lessons I’ve learned from our amazing leader these past 5 years…

Thanks to Intuit Brad, for teaching us to have empathy. There’s no question in my mind as to why Brad’s 2nd number in his SOI is a 5. He literally radiates empathy for everyone around him: his employees, his partners, his customers. This is quite possibly the attribute of his that I admire most, as I firmly believe if we don’t have empathy for those we serve, then our relationships can never truly flourish.

Thanks to Intuit Brad, for leading us by example each day. Since my earliest exposure to Brad, I was always impressed by his approach to serve with his team. I’ve seen him roll up his sleeves, get his hands dirty, and walk through the mud with all of us in order to bring us out the other side stronger, together. When you hear “We Care & Give Back”, Brad doesn’t just mean that from an air-conditioned office in Mountain View, but from his hands & knees in a public park in lower Manhattan where he shoveled dirt, pulled weeds, and raked leaves with all of us.

Thanks to Intuit Brad, for reminding us to never forget where you come from. The photo that so many of us have seen of Brad on his mom’s front porch is about as authentically Brad as it gets. No matter who you become in life, you’re still just someone’s son or daughter & we need to always remember our way home.

Thanks to Intuit Brad, for prioritizing physical fitness. I’m someone who works hard each day to maintain a healthy lifestyle, while also showing up as the best possible employee I can. It’s been such a huge inspiration to have a leader to look to who also makes time to take care of his physical health, and has cultivated a culture where I don’t have to feel bad for taking a lunchtime break at the gym. I know it’ll make me a better asset to Intuit in the long run.

Thanks to Intuit Brad, for refusing to get cocky. Years ago, during a Global BDM team summit, we had a Q&A with Brad. I remember asking his advice on how we could always stay hungry in the US even though we were the front-runner in our region (unlike several of our fellow country teams). His response to me was so humbling & I’ll never forget it. He said that we’re not #1. There are more businesses in the US using something else, or nothing at all, than there are using QBO. So, he said, never forget that we’re still chasing #1.

Thanks to Intuit Brad, for showing us to never treat your spouse like you’re married. I know I’m not the only one who adores the way Brad looks at his “girlfriend”, Alys. She’s absolutely his rock, and he never passes up a chance to say it. It’s such an important lesson that he’s shared with all of us to never stop pursuing your significant other.

Thanks to Intuit Brad, for instilling in us that life is a team sport. There’s no question that Brad was our quarterback, but Intuit was his team. He didn’t just sit on the sidelines calling plays, he was on the field, with us, leading us, each step of the way. But through it all, it was all about the team.

Thanks to Intuit Brad, for leaving us wanting more. I admit I’ve shed more than a few tears since the first email announcing his passing the torch (however, we’re so thrilled to be in amazing hands with Sasan!), but it’s Brad’s gentle reminder over & over these past few months that have brought me so much comfort: “Being Intuit’s CEO has been the job of a lifetime…but it’s not the job for a lifetime”.

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Brad – you’ve been the most amazing leader, and I count it such a privilege that I’ve been on your team. I can only hope that the wisdom I’ve picked up from you over the years will somehow continue to rub off on everyone around me. Thank you, thank you!

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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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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

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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The Face of Change

This past Labor Day I was one of those people who got swept up in the excitement of watching a woman accomplish a 35-year dream in the making by completing a 110-mile swim across the Atlantic Ocean. As if I wasn’t already inspired enough (the athlete in me is always a sucker for a great beating the odds story), as the exhausted 64-year-old stood on the beach in Key West and declared “This may look like a solitary sport, but it’s a team”, I instantly grew an amazing amount of respect for Diana Nyad.

While it pales in comparison to swimming from Cuba to Florida, I am nonetheless honored and humbled to have had the privilege of joining two amazing women, Shayna Chapman and Michelle Golden, for the September CPA Practice Advisor magazine cover story: The Changing Face of Accounting & Technology. As the story (originally designed to look at the sole idea of three prominent female industry professionals – a CPA, a Consultant, and a Technology vendor – all striving to better the profession – which is something that 10 or 15 years ago would have been hard to find) began taking shape, it was amazing to see what we learned about each other, and about the evolution of dynamics between practitioners, consultants, and software companies. In the end, it was the theme of collaboration among CPAs, consultants and technology players that was highlighted as we see the rapid change in the interactions between these three distinct types of players. By working together for the greater good (serving small, mid-sized, and large businesses), we’re better able to grow as an industry and move the notorious slow-to-change accounting world forward.

Since the issue launched I’ve been approached by some of the most respected individuals in our industry, and while I’m completely flattered, It’s only right to point out that this story, and this cover would never have happened if it weren’t for the change makers who have lead the way for the past 10, 15, even 20 years. Rick Richardson has been preaching change and embracing technology since I was in Mister Roger’s Neighborhood. Mark Koziel has been pushing the profession forward from within the AICPA in ways that very few of us will ever see. Doug Sleeter has devoted his career to serving the QuickBooks ProAdvisor community – and has recognized the need to embrace change within his own network too. And nobody more than Randy Johnston can be credited for leading accounting practitioners, consultants, and vendors forward and creating the driving force by which technology companies work for accountants instead of against them. So while we may be faces of change – we represent an entire team.

So while Shayna, Michelle and I soak up our 15 of minutes of fame, here’s to those who have been the face of change in our world for the past decade. Thanks for going before us and creating the path.  Thanks for giving us hope that a future generation will be blogging about the difference we made as the next generation of game changers grace the CPAPA cover 10 years from now. I wonder what shoes they’ll wear at their cover shoot?

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The Social Network

After spending the first half of last week in SoCal, then jetting off to NorCal to continue a marathon of meetings, appointments, conferences, and calls, it’s safe to say that the highlight of the crazy few days was the time I had to network with friends and partners. This shouldn’t come as any big surprise, seeing as I tend to be a broken record when it comes to the value of one’s network. So on the heels of a week filled with numerous examples of just how important these relationships are – I figure there’s no better time to post a tribute to a few folks that I have the pleasure of including in my own social network…

To start, my hat goes off to Doug Sleeter, and the entire Sleeter Group team for pulling all the right people together at the 9th annual Sleeter Group Conference (one of the most successful networking shows I’ve been to this year). From Monday evening’s Keynote session featuring executives like Rod Drury of Xero (who came in all the way from New Zealand), Sage’s Himanshu Palsule, and the legendary Greg LaFollette, to Wednesday afternoon’s closing session presented by none other than Rick “The Closer” Richardson (sorry I missed it, Rick – but so happy we got to have lunch!), Doug brought out all the big guns.

For me, the greatest value in a show like that isn’t the things I learn from sessions – and isn’t the prospects that I meet in the trade show expo area. It’s all about the networking time. People always ask me how I manage to keep up with all the traveling I do, and the real answer (even when I’m as tired as I am right now) is that I just don’t want to miss out. There’s nothing better than the ability to spend 5 minutes with René Lacerte – or having the pleasure of catching up over dinner with Jennifer Warawa.

When I departed the conference, I took my networking on the road…my next day started out with one of CPAPA’s 25 most powerful women in accounting, Geni Whitehouse – someone I’ve always seen at shows, and have heard about for years, but we hadn’t had a chance to spend quality time together. As if one legend a day isn’t enough, I ended my evening with one of the only reasons to visit San Jose on a regular basis: Taylor Macdonald just might be in town. Spending time with Taylor is sort of like learning at the master’s feet. I think I turn into a sponge whenever I’m around him, hoping to soak up as much advice as possible…what a privilege I’ve had to be included in his network these past several years.

While all of this was happening, one continuous networker (who I never actually saw in person) that always adds the right color to the mix, Xero’s Community and Coffee Queen – and lover of the best color ever, Catherine Walker was a constant social media presence. People like Catherine are true examples of leveraging social media to shrink miles between a network. While I ran out of time to stop by and share a premium local coffee with her, I somehow still feel connected to Catherine as we exchanged numerous messages on Twitter.

While we can only be in one physical place at a time – we can reach the entire Twittersphere with a simple 140 characters. In my last post I declared that there’s no replacement for face time. While I firmly believe this, leveraging our social network can often create lasting impressions on those relationships we hold so dear.

Old Dogs Can Teach New Tricks

And by “old dogs” I do mean “seasoned accounting veterans”. I just got home from the Midwest Accounting Show in Rosemont, IL, where I was honored (and a bit star struck) to have opportunity to eat some authentic Chicago deep dish with one of the most respected thought leaders in the industry, Dana “Rick” Richardson. Most people know Rick as the closer – it never fails that show managers put him on the schedule for the end of the day, and he comes in just like any good relief pitcher and gets them 1, 2, 3.

After holding the attention of 1,500 accountants for over an hour and a half at the end of a long day, Rick was gracious enough to join my XCM Teammates, Brian Austin from Avalara, along with Doug Sleeter, Jody Padar, and Jennifer Warawa, three nationally recognized accounting influencers, for a “FOX” (Friends of XCM) dinner at Gino’s East. I think it’s safe to say that nobody on that bus knew exactly what was in store for the evening. Unfortunately, none of us were able to see Rick speak an hour earlier – but it didn’t matter, we all got our own private session at the master’s feet.

We hadn’t even pulled into the Gino’s parking lot when my colleague, Beth Bruck, had resorted to making a “Rick List” on her iPhone of some of the technology devices Rick began to mention. As the conversation continued well into dinner (2 slices of pizza into dinner that is), that list kept growing. So did Rick’s audience, as he quickly added the third XCM blonde at the table, Jamie Soper. I couldn’t help but sit back in awe that here I was at a table with so many accounting greats – Jennifer, Doug, Jody, Brian – and Rick, who has been a rock-steady icon in the CPA world for longer than I’ve been alive, and might just be the most tech-savvy of us all. From being a Mac champion, to embracing the Cloud, to his love of productivity apps like Evernote…he proves more than anyone I’ve ever met that technology is not defined by age or by generation, but rather by willingness to think outside the box, and by a passion for achieving greatness.

As this year’s CPA Practice Advisor 40 Under 40 list hits the wire this week, I can’t think of anyone more deserving of a big thank you from those receiving that honor – after all, without folks like Rick, we’d have no footsteps in which to follow…