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!

Everyone Should Have a Kelda

In my role at XCM and Xpitax, I have the pleasure of traveling all over the Western U.S. visiting accounting firms. It’s always fun to see all the different shapes and sized in which firms come. One firm I visited had adorned their office with their extensive antique abacus collection. Another recent visit led me to the 24th floor of a Honolulu high-rise with a breathtaking view of the coast of O’ahu. On one of my last journeys to Northern California, I found myself dashing from one meeting in bustling downtown San Jose to an appointment in the quiet and quant little town of San Rafael (where they told us a story of the time they had a cow wander into their parking lot). I love seeing all these different personalities that show through the various organizations – all tied together by the fact that each of them serves as their clients’ CPA.

One morning, during one of my multi-city road trips, I got an email from a woman at a firm…her name was Kelda. Kelda’s email began with a brief introduction of herself and her firm, and explained that she had recently spoken with one of my colleagues who had referred her my way. Her concise but detailed email efficiently communicated that her partners were interested in meeting with me, and that she was aware I was in their area that week. In closing, she suggested a few days & times that week, and promised a follow up via telephone as well. Shortly thereafter, I got a voicemail from Kelda.

With my crazy schedule that day, we traded a few voicemails and emails before actually connecting live. When we finally did speak, I was pretty blown away by both her professionalism and her organization. She explained that the two Partners were going to be on a tight schedule, so she would be ordering in lunch during our meeting. She also gave me detailed instructions on where I would find parking, and how long she anticipated it would take to travel from my current location to their office.

When I arrived at their office (and found a spot right out front as she promised), I was greeted at the top of their stairs by Kelda, who was holding not only her business card, but the cards of the two Partners with whom I was meeting. She then had me escorted into their conference room, where I was again further impressed. Lunch was not only delivered, but everyone’s assigned places were set – with silverware rolled up into a tidy napkin as if we were dining in a little sidewalk café.

Upon the end of our scheduled time, we heard a quiet knock on the door – it was Kelda, there to remind the Managing Partner that his next appointment was approaching and he’d need to wrap up. As he walked out of the room, I stood up to say goodbye and added “I’ll make you a deal – I’ll take Kelda and you can have XCM”. Both Partners smiled and even chuckled a bit as they replied “Over our dead bodies”.
In reality, there weren’t any real mind-boggling acts performed that day. I mean, even I can order lunch and walk someone to a conference room. And yet I left that small firm in Palo Alto, California thinking to myself, “Wow, if they went to all that trouble for a software vendor – imagine what type of impression that makes on their clients”. I’ve told the story of Kelda to several people since then, which proves my point even more. Sometimes it’s the littlest details that make the biggest impression on people.

The Trouble with Technology

I make a living selling technology. I’m passionate about the fact that technology is changing the world for the better, and I’m proud to say that I have a front row seat to watch tomorrow’s technology become today’s reality. Numbers don’t lie. When we survey XCM users each year after the busyness of tax season, we are thrilled to hear that our technology often saves our clients well over an hour a day per person. On the Xpitax side, without both scanning and Cloud technologies, this outsourcing model would be impossible. When you look at it that way, it’s hard to find anything to complain about as far as technology goes…or is it?

**Warning – I’m officially standing on my soapbox in my stilettos**

Let’s be real for a minute – who are we kidding? We all deal with technology trials and tribulations virtually every day. How often are you tempted to throw your iPhone across the room when you’ve dropped a call for the 3rd time in 10 minutes (not to mention that you were still talking for 2 minutes before realizing the like was dead)? Sure it’s great that you can book your airline reservations from the amazing little device, but sometime you just simply want to make a phone call. How about those web-based training sessions that you’re struggling to understand because you can only catch every third word of the presenter and his slide deck is moving about 28 seconds slower than his talk track? Why do we all just accept this as “normal” and go about our business pretending it isn’t a problem? It IS a problem, because it keeps us from concentrating on our main goal.

From my shoes, I see two main issues with technology:

  1. Technology isn’t fail-proof, so when looking to put your best foot forward, relying on it is risky
  2. There’s just no substitute for face time

As technology advances and enable us to have more access to information when & where we need it, typically as automated as we want it, we are able to be more productive as we adopt the “self-service” approach. I know I use this every day when it comes to tracking packages online, paying bills, booking travel arrangements, and numerous other areas of personal and professional life. The danger comes when this dependence on using technology takes over the desire to have human interaction, and foster relationships with clients, colleagues, and partners.

Video, web, and teleconferencing services are in surplus these days – and the ability to
connect with clients, prospects, and even friends and family via GoToMeeting, WebEx, or Skype can shrink the distance between two individuals. These technologies allow me to start a Friday morning on a team call with my colleagues around the country, to present Xpitax to a firm in Nevada in the early afternoon, and to meet with a local SoCal accounting firm and show XCM for Client Accounting Services all in the same day – all without leaving my “soffice” (Sofa+Office). But what do I give up by not being in person at these various meetings? And what happens when the technology I’m relying on lets me down?

I sat in a board room this past week at a very large accounting firm in the Midwest. While I made the effort to fly out and be on-site for the meeting, I relied on web telephone conferencing to include my President in the meeting with me. By the end of the meeting, we had reconnected the web conference twice, and redialed into the teleconference three times. Needless to say, the flaws in technology were not only distracting, but extremely stressful too.

The saving grace was my ability to interact with the group inside the room, to make eye contact, read body language, and even poke fun and make light of the frustrating technology failure. Thankfully, the meeting was still a success, but had I not been there in person, it might have had a different outcome.

As the world seems to move faster & faster each day, it’s so important that we do step back and remember that deep down, we all value personal interactions. Sure it’s easy to sit back and say that it’s more productive to conduct business from your comfy office chair…but don’t underestimate the power of a real handshake. Shortly after starting at XCM I had the opportunity to visit two prospects in New York – both were very busy, but agreed to my visit. I have no doubt that the relationships I started building that week will continue to be vital to the future success of these two clients. As I arrived home late that Friday afternoon, I had a voicemail from one of the firms I had met with. The message said something like “I wanted to call you and give you the good news – because you were the one who showed up at our office…”.

So don’t be afraid of a little TSA pat down – before you know it you’ll sporting premier hotel status and plenty of airline miles to boot…go out and build those relationships – maybe I’ll see you on the road (I’m the one with the bag full of shoes).

It’s a Small World After All…

When I came onboard with XCM and Xpitax this past Summer, I was quite familiar with the XCM workflow solution itself as well as with most of the team. I had spent time with them at various trade shows, and worked with them as fellow partners in CloudSolutions Alliance. The side of the house that I was less familiar with was our Xpitax outsourced accounting services business – and the international team behind those services.

I’ve since come to learn that in addition to our team in Braintree (and the handful of remote folks throughout the US), I have the pleasure of calling another group -developers and tax professionals from our Chennai and Bangalore offices – fellow Xpitax colleagues as well.

During my first few weeks on the job, I asked a lot of questions about the international Xpitax team. Who are they? Does the same team work with one client or is it more like a call center environment? What are the conditions like in our India offices? How do our clients communicate with our team in India? I was definitely feeling a bit out of my element, and a tad unsure of exactly how to explain the way our outsourcing model really works…mostly because it was just a big unknown. Naturally, most of us don’t care too much for the unknown, so I figured if I need to sell these services, first I have to believe in the model myself – which means get educated.

Well a few weeks ago the world got a little bit smaller. After a recent trip to India, our Founder and CEO (yes, Professor Workflow himself, Mark Albrecht) addressed our U.S. team with a plea to unify our multiple offices. With that in mind, our VP of Client Services, Colleen Osborne (with some help from Facebook), created an interactive platform for our teams to communicate, share photos & ideas, and learn about each other. I’m sure some might say I’m just easily amused, but seeing photos of our team and having the opportunity to wish them a happy holiday (last month they celebrated Vinayaka Chathurthi, a national holiday in India) completely brought these people to life, and gave me a whole new perspective on this part of our company.

Just as important, it proved once again that technology can truly bridge the gap in physical miles – and even time zones. Without platforms like Facebook, the Xpitax team would still be a list of emails in our Outlook contact group “Chennai”, but with the medium to interact with them, I’ve begun to make a whole new set of friends. Likewise, without solutions like XCM, the outsourcing model of Xpitax wouldn’t be anywhere nearly as successful as it is today, where an accounting firm can track the status, open points, estimated completion date, number of open items remaining, and several other elements of any outsourced return, anytime (most firms don’t even have that much control over returns or projects inside their own firms, let alone one that is being completed by someone half-way around the globe). With Cloud-based tools like these, geography instantly becomes a non-issue, and productivity becomes the big priority.

With the launching of the new Xpitax Facebook group, I decided to post some photos from a recent company outing we had in Cape Cod, figuring it would give the India teams a chance to see some of us outside of the typical work setting. I was caught by surprise (in a great way) when photos appeared just hours later showing Colleen and a few of the folks from the team in India at the beach during her recent visit. I guess the old adage is true – it really is a Small World After All!

Why Did I Buy That?

Having spent the past few years with Fujitsu in more of a partner-centric/ business development capacity, I’ve been dusting off my sales shoes getting up and running with my new role here at XCM. One of the things that bubbled up to the surface very quickly is the importance of understanding a client’s needs, and helping them understand how my solution or service can either fix their problem, or open doors to opportunities that they might not otherwise be able to explore.

A few weeks ago, I spent some time with my boss, Bob Locke, in Kansas City during the Boomer Technology Circle Summit (which, BTW, is an event that I highly recommend to anyone who hasn’t been before). During our chat we laid out the four main reasons why a firm would implement XCM Solutions Workflow:

  • Time Savings/ Increased Efficiencies
  • Compliance
  • Client Satisfaction
  • Personnel/ Recruitment Tool

As we discussed these four areas, Bob used examples of firms who had recently purchased XCM in order to avoid fines that they had incurred the previous year for being out of compliance. Now, these firms will certainly appreciate the other benefits as added value from the new solution, but it became clear that had we tried to sell them on client satisfaction, or using new technology as a way to recruit young hungry talent, we most likely wouldn’t have uncovered their true pain point – and might not have earned their business.

Of course, since I tend to live my life seeing everything through 4” high heels, I couldn’t help but think of the example of walking into my local Nordstrom shoe department, being greeted by the friendliest of salesmen, and being asked “What are you looking for today?”. See, Freddie (yes, my shoe guy’s name is Freddie) knows me well enough to ask. If he were to see me coming and immediately fetch the perfect pair of orange python Miu Miu pumps from the back room, regardless of how much I love or want (need) them, when I’ve come in for a new pair of Nike Frees for my travels, then he’s missed the opportunity. I’ll likely go down the way to the Nike store to make my purchase.

Now, if instead, after asking me why I’m there, he returns from the back room with a great pair of Frees and happens to also bring the amazing orange heels (ok, they were on sale anyway), then I will be much more likely to try on both, and knowing me, return home with a much bigger smile on my face (and a little more motivation to sell some software).

Now I realize that shoes and software don’t have all that much in common – but the situation is really similar: in both cases, understanding the client’s needs and motivation for a purchase is what should drive any sales cycle. Sales professionals who make this part of the discovery process will be much more likely to be successful – and, as a by-product, will build stronger relationships with their clients because they have shown that they truly care about what their clients need vs. just making a sale.

Now, if you’ll excuse me – I’m about to run into Saks…wish me luck!

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…

What’s in My (Orange) Bag?

This past weekend was one of those weekends – spent packing up for a week in Boston for the XCM Quarterly Sales Meeting and our Summer team outing in Cape Cod. Now I’ve always prided myself with my ability to “pack small” – trust me, my carry-on bag is NOT light – but one thing that packing small requires is something I learned last year from one of my highly-respected fellow road warriors, Darren Root: “Everything needs to have a place”. While the inside of my Orange tote might look a tad different than Darren’s Tumi backpack, I’ve found that sticking to this system enables me to stay on top of things and ensures that I never leave anything behind.

So as I prepared to hit the road this week, I decided to give you a glimpse into my world by showing off what’s inside my bag – and, more importantly, why it’s in there…

A – A is for Apple, so naturally, I always keep my iPad handy. From in-flight reading & pod casts (like the THRIVEcast), to email access, it’s a must-have whenever I’m on the go!

B – Bye bye big laptops! My new Ultrabook is TSA friendly and doesn’t break my back while we globe trot together.

C – Can’t live without my ScanSnap S1100 mobile scanner…I guess this falls into the “once you’ve had it, you don’t know what you’d do without it” category.

D – Disaster Recovery Bag: You never know when you’ll need it, but you sure don’t want to be without things like hand cream, B vitamins (for those early mornings after late nights), EmergenC, wet wipes, and back-up travel toothbrushes.

E – Education Creation Bag: While I tend to use my iPhone camera more, I still keep my digital with me to capture plenty of Facebook photo content. I also always carry my Flip with me since you never know when that moment will arise where you can score a great impromptu interview (keep your eyes out for more of these from CloudSolutions Alliance this year). **Lesson learned from experience: always bring extra batteries, even if it is fully charged**

F – Fabulous Foldable FLATS! Not just any flats, these would be my authentic Tieks (thanks for the recommendation, Michelle Golden!). Not even sure where to start with these beloved “Just Shoot Me Heels” recovery shoes, but if you don’t have a pair – what are you waiting for??? **Bonus points: They’re actually cute enough to sport in public – not that Dave Cieslak would have a photo of me in mine or anything…..**

G – Gone are the days of lanyards or clip-on name badges…I travel with my ITA badge holder with a magnet back, so no more planning my wardrobe around those pesky nametags. PS – That’s my flash drive there too, which often saves the day itself.

H – How convenient is this? My tote bag came with this strapped-in pouch which is perfect for the few things I’m constantly accessing: business cards, a pen, and gum.

I – I might get hungry. I’ve learned my lesson to always travel with snacks. The only thing worse than going all day without eating, is trying to stomach airplane food. I’ve been caught too many times without time to grab something at an airport (or, even worse, landing in an airport after-hours when nothing is open). Protein bars, dried fruit, nuts, and these homemade energy bites (thanks, Pinterest) are my travel staples.

J – Juice it up. This is my power pouch. Going back to Darren’s “everything needs a place” – when I keep them all together, it’s easy to do a quick cord-count when I’m dashing out of a hotel room to catch a flight.

K – Kim’s favorite item: Mophie Juice Pack Air. This external iPhone battery functions as a case while charging your phone. This thing has saved me more times than I can count (including that night in San Francisco – right, Kara Haas?)!

L – Life line. When all is said and done, there’s nothing I use more in this bag than my iPhone. It’s the last thing I power down on the plane and first thing to power up when we land. Whether it’s to call home, pay my bills while I’m gone, or get directions to where I’m going, I’d be lost without it (literally).

There you have it – that’s what’s in my bag. Check back again soon and I might even show you how to pack 8 pairs of shoes into a TSA approved carry-on!

There’s a Whole Lotta “WE” in Team

Leave it to the Olympic spirit to remind us all just how important teamwork can be for the success of just about anything. This week, as I’ve been glued to the TV watching coverage of the Summer Games, I’m constantly reminded of one of my favorite Olympic memories: watching Kerri Strug vault the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team into history at the 1996 Games in Atlanta. While it may have been Strug who got most of the spotlight that night, it was truly a team effort from each of the other six members who equally contributed to that magical evening where the “Magnificent Seven” took the Gold medal – and captured America’s hearts.

It’s not too different in the business world.  You’ll rarely find a successful business professional without a strong team behind them, and similarly, some of the most successful individuals will gladly admit that they are only as good as their team. Nobody exemplifies this more than one of my good industry friends, Jennifer Warawa. Jennifer always impresses me when she meets someone for the first time. Instead of introducing herself as VP of Partner Programs and Channel Sales for Sage, she modestly explains that she “looks after the Sage Accountants Network”. I’ve never heard her reference anyone “working for her” – but she’ll often mention those who are “on her team”. Her approach has enabled her to create a real sense of community within her team and within the accounting industry by eliminating any sense of superiority she would have over those of us who don’t have a VP in our title.

It might be the Olympics getting to me, but I might also have teamwork on the brain as I wrap up my first month with my new team at XCM. When you join a new organization, you’re often at the mercy of your new teammates to help you get up to speed and to warn you about the land mines that loom ahead, in hopes that you’ll learn from their mistakes rather than have to make them yourself. I can’t begin to express how blessed I feel to be a part of such an amazing team, who has done just that for me. From my first few days in the office, the sense of teamwork and community at XCM was apparent. When this feeling of community is truly put into action, this will wind up impacting not only an organization itself, but also its extended ecosystem (partners, clients, prospects).

Believe it or not, before the 4” stilettos filled my closet, I used to sport a pair of soccer cleats. In all of my 10 years playing soccer growing up, I was never the most powerful player on the team, but one thing is for sure: I was a team player. One memory that I have all these years later is from an indirect free-kick scenario. While most people want to be the one to take these shots, to be the one to score the goal and get the glory for doing so, I knew that just wasn’t my role on the team. Thankfully, I also knew there is just as much value in being the set up person. So as my teammate lined up to shoot the ball into the goal (unaware that it wasn’t a direct kick, and that two players needed to touch the ball before a goal could be scored), I came running out of the backfield yelling at the top of my lungs. My antics worked. My teammate paused as I ran right up to the ball, tapped it, and yelled to her to shoot it. I turned around just in time to see her put that ball into the top left corner of the net. Of course my teammate got the high-fives for making the score, but I also got recognized for setting it up…after all, without the assist, the goal wouldn’t have counted in the first place.

What’s the big lesson there? As many of us get caught up in climbing the corporate ladder and desperately trying to get ahead, we sometimes lose sight of what really matters – teamwork. Perhaps even more important is the realization that each and every member of a team has a purpose and a value. Sometimes it’s not just the folks on the front line that deserve the recognition, sometimes it’s those in the background, quietly doing their job so well, which in turn makes those of us in the spotlight look even better.

So here’s to the amazing teams behind each leader. The Customer Service Managers who skillfully calm frustrated clients. The Support Reps who graciously answer each & every question from confused new employees. The Development teams who diligently work to add new features. And the most near & dear to my heart, the Managers who stand back and let their apprentices shine…knowing that their success is truly achieved through watching their handy work in action. One, Two, Three – GO TEAM!

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Whose Bright Idea was this Anyway?

It’s amusing to me how things tend to fall into place sometimes. You can write a script all you want, and things never seem to turn out the way you plan them in your head (please tell me I’m not the only one who deals with this). Then when you least expect it somehow the stars all align and everything fits together perfectly.

In a world where it seems everyone strives to make a name for themselves, most of us can relate to the feeling of trying to force things to work. As the only girl in a family with four children, I’ve somehow managed to pick up the stubborn gene to go with my over-achiever personality. I know I tend to get stuck in a rut where I’m determined to make something work, just so I don’t have to deal with the feeling of “giving up”. The thing I never seem to remember is that so often while I’m trying to fit that square peg into the round hole, there’s a perfect circle waiting just down another road.

If you asked me six weeks ago if I’d be going by any name other than ScanSnapKim right now, I would have laughed…I mean, it wasn’t just my Twitter handle, this is what people called me in person. I was at least a wee bit committed to that identity. But here I am, digging into a new role with XCM – not to mention building a new name for myself and proudly representing the company I serve. It’s at a time or crossroad such as this where I tend to take a step back & look at things with a different perspective. As I did just that, I realized that while “ScanSnapKim” is (was) definitely a big part of who I am in the industry, it wasn’t (isn’t) necessarily what will leave a lasting impression.

I was recently given the opportunity to present at an Ignite! session during the Spring ITA meeting. When I pondered as to what my topic should be for my six-minute talk on something I’m passionate about, it really wasn’t too hard to decide: Business Development and Personal Branding. Now I know what you’re thinking, but rest assured that my 2nd slide that day was comprised of one word, that has come to be my personal brand: SHOES. As that slide flashed on the screen while I was presenting, I was completely overwhelmed by the audience’s reaction…I had to really concentrate on continuing on (you only have 15 seconds per slide, I couldn’t let cheers from the group get me off track!)…

There’s no one person I can blame for my love affair with fancy footwear, although some of you (you know who you are, Dub-Dot) sure don’t help the cause. I assure you I never imagined (honestly, I didn’t) it would spiral this far out of control…but of course, had I written that into my master plan, perhaps it never would have happened. What started as a mere need to add a little color into my trade show wardrobe (and you too know who you are, Mr. Publicist), fast turned into my trademark  – what people have come to expect from me, and have come to associate me with both in and outside of work. It dawned on me at that moment that this is what will leave that lasting mark, regardless of what my Twitter handle says. So while I didn’t plan it, or script it out – why argue?

A few people have asked me what my purpose is with this blog – who is my target audience, what am I trying to tell people, etc. While my first reaction is to come up with some type of “workish” response, that sounds very premeditated & thoroughly thought out, in reality, It’s a lot like the whole shoe situation – something that just sort of came about all of a sudden, but why not run with it? I figure there are plenty of blogs out there (in addition to the mainstream media sites) where we can all go to get a Ron Baker headache, so I do promise we’ll never get that deep here. I also promise not to inundate you with endless photos and banter about Mr. Louboutin’s upcoming Fall line (ok, yes, there might me some shoe talk & even a few photos). Bottom line, I think every now & then we all need a light-hearted reality check, so at least for now, that’s what I’m doing here. In so many words, I guess I figured it would only be fitting to take my ignite presentation one step (pun intended) further and share some of my random thoughts, glorious travel experiences, personal victories, and professional lessons (some already learned and others still around the next corner) with everyone. So as I said in my first entry, I hope you’ll follow along with me as I give a glimpse into my world as I use my personal brand to make a difference every day…and hopefully one day leave a stiletto print in this industry.

24 (Scratch That, 40) Hours in My Shoes – My First Day at XCM

As I’m sure is the case with many road warriors like myself, I’m often asked the question “Where are you based?” My typical reply is “30,000 feet in the air”…I always get a chuckle from whoever asked. All in all, I have managed to outgrow some of my early career travel woes (maybe one day I will share the story of Webster, TX one June afternoon), but with as many frequent flier miles as I’ve been earning the past few years, days like I had last week are just bound to happen.

To anyone outside of work, my life on the road is exciting & glamorous “Wow, a week in Las Vegas – how fun!” Then I help explain that most of the events I attend could very well be held in Fargo (which, actually has happened), or Omaha and it would be exactly the same experience: airplane, taxi, hotel, conference room, trade-show food, late nights, early mornings, taxi, airplane.

Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE what I do, I just want to dispel the myth that Star Alliance Gold status isn’t earned with plenty of blood, sweat & tears. So I decided to share my journey last week from home (The OC) to my new home away from home, XCM Headquarters, in Braintree, Massachusetts, for my first day on the Job…

July 9th, 2012

6:27am PDT – Orange County, CA: Wide awake before my alarm…of course I didn’t sleep well last night, constantly waking up to grab my phone in a panic – convinced I had overslept and missed my flight. Since I’m up, I might as well check a few last minute “to-dos” off my list before my 8:45am flight. First stop: Javatinis, for my morning Iced Coffee fix. Thanks to the caffeine jolt, my morning went well and I’m at the airport in plenty of time (translation: left the house about an hour before my flight, prayed the whole way here that I would not hit traffic & would breeze through the new bizarre security line at SNA airport. It worked, barely.), absolutely thrilled to finally be en route to Boston to start this new chapter with XCM.

8:13am PDT – Orange County, CA: Flight #1 – Departing on time for Houston

But that’s about the end to my “normal” travel day…in a nutshell, here’s how the next 23 hours went:

1:34pm CDT – Somewhere over TX: “Houston, we have a problem” – flight is being diverted to Austin, Texas until Houston’s thunder storms subside

6:45pm CDT – Houston, TX: Finally arriving in Houston – only 6 hours behind schedule

7:55pm CDT – Houston, TX: Missed all flights to Boston for the evening, and I’ve just missed the last flight which would connect to a Boston red-eye…it’s going to be a LONG night!

10:00pm CDT – Houston, TX: Found a flight to Newark, NJ (after a mad dash, a near riot at the gate, a missing Drivers License scare, and an hour more delay on the ground). I’m finally heading a little closer to my first day in the office.

July 10, 2012

2:03am EDT – Newark, NJ: Made it to Newark with a whopping 4 hours before my flight to Boston

2:53am EDT – Newark, NJ: Arrive at the airport hotel & get a room for 2 hours – at least I can get some work done, shower, and change…isn’t this how everyone prepares for their first day?

6:00am EDT – Newark, NJ: Departing for Boston – one last flight

7:15am EDT – Boston, MA: Arrived early and I just ordered my “6 espresso shots over ice” which will have to power me for the next few hours. Next stop: 639 Granite Street!

8:00am EDT- Braintree, MA: (ok, I’m lying, it’s actually 8:06): As I pull up to the XCM/ Xpitax office, I suddenly don’t care that I’ve been up for the past 23 hours, or that I’ve only eaten a protein bar since yesterday’s breakfast, or that I have a full day of work ahead of me. I’m feeling a lot like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz as she opens the door into Oz – everything seems to go from black & white to color – wicked-good Orange to be exact!

July 11, 2012

1:27am – Quinsy, MA: I’m not at the Westin, but I assure you, never in my life have I seen a bed so heavenly. In the past 40 hours I’ve survived 4 flights, earned 3,000 United MileagePlus miles, spent an amazing first day in the office, and have been treated by my new team to a wonderful welcome dinner overlooking Boston at sunset. I think it’s safe to say that I earned my Road Warrior status today (well, yesterday really)…closing my eyes at last, good night!