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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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).

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…