My Trip to Austin

If I were to pick up my phone & ask Siri for directions to Austin, I’m fairly certain that an 8-hour round-trip drive in an “Ultimate Edition” through the Mojave Desert to Las Vegas & back is not the preferred route…but speaking from experience, it the most scenic ride (and it comes with a Cappuccino Heath Blizzard)!

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It definitely took a while – so long that people were probably wondering if I’d ever make it after all – but I knew I’d get there exactly when I was supposed to, and that everything would turn out exactly as it should.

If you ask me, my trip to Austin started back on June 6, 2010 as a gracious industry colleague pulled up to my house and loaded a squeaky duffel into the trunk of his rental car & inquired “Do you think there’s a DQ between here & Vegas? I could really go for a Blizzard”…You could probably end the story there & say the rest is history.

It wasn’t until much later that I realized agreeing to drive across the desert with someone I barely knew, and had never spent any time with outside of business meetings, could have turned out VERY different…but after absolutely nailing our partner debut at AICPA Tech+ that week, our victory ride home turned into what we have always referred to as the 45 minute drive home from Vegas.

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Now some might have a different perspective – I know my Mom & Grandma would likely say my trip to Austin took about 32 years, seeing as they’d been praying for my journey since July 7, 1983.

Of course, you could also say that it started on January 23, 2010, at P.F. Chang’s Irvine Spectrum of all places, where a few industry professionals gathered one Saturday evening to network (& the only notable request was “nothing fried, please”).

As with any trip, there were milestones along the way – things that stand out and stay etched in my memory as I look back on how far I’ve come…I’ll never forget October 17, 2010 – when I got chauffeured to the airport in the wee-hours of that Sunday morning, and as an added bonus, a fresh medium iced coffee from Peet’s, my favorite.

There were also some fairly traumatic stretches, like November 12, 2010, when I had to return the favor of an airport drop-off (and a detour to Dallas).

Two days later, on November 14, 2010, I was back on track & heading straight for my destination picking up speed & never looking back. I can honestly say that’s the day that my life changed forever, and I realized I was meant for Austin.

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Fast forward four years – and a LOT of badgering from friends & colleagues – on December 13, 2014, my journey continued on foot. This time up the San Jacinto tramway out in the Coachella Valley, where I officially agreed to relocate (and picked up an amazing souvenir for doing so).

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8 months flew by, and on August 30, 2015, in Palm Springs, California, I finally pulled in at home. It had been an unconventional road to get there, filled with laughs, tears, struggles, and victories, but I wouldn’t trade a single moment for anything.

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I’m not quite sure how 2 years have gone by since I married my best friend, and became Mrs. Austin. It’s hands-down the greatest decision I’ve ever made. Not because life is perfect – goodness knows we’ve had our share of curveballs thrown at us – but because I know life’s highs couldn’t be half as great, and the lows might not be bearable without sharing the ride with Brian.

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As it turns out, a few things in life are actually more about the destination than the journey.

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Happy 2nd Anniversary, Babe – now, let’s get some carrot cake!

#PSILoveYou

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Play Your Position

Growing up playing soccer, I learned many lessons about being a good team player: don’t hog the ball; cover for your teammate when they need it; when you get a break-away…don’t look back! As the resident center forward, I spent most Saturday afternoons gloating about how many goals I scored – of course, very aware that it took an entire team to get me the ball, cover for me, and ensure that while I was sprinting down the field with the ball, nobody was going to sneak up on me at the last minute and make me miss the shot. There’s no way I would have had the successful 10-year run in the sport had it not been for my teammates.

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And every once in a while, when the lineup was laid out, I would see my name somewhere other than front & center, but on defense instead. I admit, I loved being the star & getting the high-fives for making the victories happen, but it was also very necessary to fill in when I was needed in the back field – or to give others a chance to be in the spotlight. So I would take the field and give it 110% every time, and be sure that I helped our team win every way I could.

Little did I know that 20+ years later, I’d be using those childhood soccer lessons in my professional life. For the past 9 years, my various roles have centered mainly around attending accounting conferences and trade shows – I made my name in the accounting world as “ScanSnapKim” by doing so, and have met so many amazing people on the road at shows. While the show circuit can be exhausting at times, there’s such a great community in which you become a part, and I look forward to seeing them at each event.

When I started at Intuit back in 2013 as part of a new Business Development team & program, we saturated the events world as a way to get our message out to our accountant partners. The past 2 years have been absolutely brutal, but amazing at the same time. I’ve often compared it to building a skyscraper – you have to first dig down deep, to ensure that you’ve got a solid foundation that will support the exponential growth yet to come. Of course, very few people see how much effort goes into building everything below ground – it’s always the building that gets the attention.

With that, we’ve had an incredible past year, as QBO has hit and passed the one million company mark here in the U.S. – and our team is a huge part of that growth. I’ve loved being part of this success – scoring victories along with my accounting firms as they transform their businesses into being firms of the future with QBO and cloud technology – and getting recognized internally and in the accounting profession for doing so.

All the success has come with lots of changes too – new leadership, new initiatives, new responsibilities. As we round out our fiscal year, I’ve been asked to play a new position, which will keep me out of the conference circuit for most of the remainder of the year. For the first time in years, I’m missing some of the “can’t miss” events that I look forward to each year. But I won’t be putting my suitcase away. In fact, I’ll be traveling more than ever as I visit accounting firms and work strategically with them to transition their practice…those meetings, which are vital to our success at Intuit, don’t however have event hashtags.

So as I sat in an all-day training session in Dubuque, IA this week, and now rush around the Mid-West from meeting to meeting, I’ll be thinking of everyone at Expensicon. Last week I could only sympathize with my fellow ITA members as they braved the Houston floods at ITA’s Spring Collaborative. And when I see all the photos from my work friends in the Bahamas next month at Scaling New Heights, I’ll likely be driving from firm to firm in Southern California. I’ll be missing all the laughs & photo opps, but I know I’m where I need to be to help Intuit reach our next goal.

My absolute best season of soccer ended unusually for me – I didn’t make the all-star roster, which was tough for me to swallow…but at our end of the year party, my coach presented me with the game ball – the ball with which we won every game of the season but two, the ball that took us to a sudden-death shoot-out in the championship game, the ball that she told everyone I had put the most marks on throughout the course of the season.

My hope is that as I play my position at Intuit this year, I’ll be fortunate enough to put a few marks on our game ball, and when I see everyone next year, I’ll have some great stories to tell about what we’re doing to help or firms reach for the cloud.

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When Work Stops Being Work

I wasn’t ever able to meet my Great-Grandmother, Nellie – she passed away several years before I was born. My parents, determined to instill in me her wisdom, even gave me her name (Kimberly Nelle – this is after she insisted that she “wouldn’t even name a dog Nellie”). My three brothers and I grew up hearing stories about Grandma Nellie, who had played such a big role in my mom’s childhood. Of all the stories we heard though, one in particular comes to mind as I travel around doing this thing we call “work”. See, Grandma Nellie always said, “The smartest and happiest of all people are the ones who make play out of their work”.

This was what my parents used to tell us as my brothers and I would be facing the daunting task of cleaning our bedroom…perhaps that’s why I remember it so well (we heard it a LOT). But as I’ve grown up and had a taste of “grown up work”, I realize just how great this advice truly is.

I’m pretty blessed. Sure I work my butt off, and travel all the time, sometimes go without sleep or food (or both) – heck, sometimes I’m just happy if I can tell you what time zone I’m in. But all in all, I absolutely love what I do – and the number one reason I love it so much, is because of the people I’ve met along the way. Last week was a great example of that –where my weekend-off disappeared, yet I still managed to love every moment of where I was and who I was with.

The ITA (Information Technology Alliance) provides two opportunities each year for those of us in the accounting world to connect with industry colleagues, partners, clients, and friends in a special way. By drawing some of our profession’s biggest names & brightest stars, each Fall & Spring ITA event winds up being a sort of “Accounting Who’s Who Schmooze Fest”, to say the least. The intimate setting of just a few hundred people ensures that quality networking time with the right people is also a priority. And the best part: No trade show booths! Those of us that work the trade show circuit know that those events serve a purpose, but something that really sets ITA apart from other industry events is the way we as vendors are able to really integrate ourselves right into the community in a very organic way.

Above all, these gatherings give us an opportunity to build lasting memories with our peers, that otherwise wouldn’t happen. From late-night In-N-Out Burger runs, to field trips to local oyster bars, to perfecting the art of “Steveing” (which is a completely different blog post by itself), to quality heart-to-heart conversations with people who have walked down roads in their career that I will one day cross myself, there’s really something magical about this group. And every once in a while, a memory is made like the one below that won’t soon – or ever – be forgotten. While I may not be the smartest person, Grandma Nellie – thanks to your advice, I’m most definitely one of the happiest…

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.