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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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!

KA