The inaugural #AppyHour Camp came to a close a few days ago and I have to tell you, the experience was epic! A huge shout out to Liz Scott and Heather Satterley for having the vision to bring so many top-tier accounting profession educators, upcoming rockstars, and dedicated solution providers together.
It was an honor to be the MC for Appy Hour Camp and as The Designated Motivator, it was truly inspiring to see a whole new level of peer-to-peer motivation be ignited. I brought along my Starting Lineup of technology solution providers, too, in the form of these cool new #DesignatedMotivator blackout t-shirts. You can bet that Appy Camp is just the beginning of where you’ll see these!
As I mentioned prior to my departure for Appy Camp, I knew there would be some amazing takeaways from the talks given and the time spent unplugged for the most part, really connecting in the most human and creative sense with my peers. It was an amazing experience and I came back primed to do even more to support all of you and to help others in this profession do the same.
I know that there are so many #DesignatedMotivators in our midst, each day we have the opportunity to take on this role and lift each other up whether that is on stage, in our firms, or in other organizations we belong to (family systems included!). As we head into busy season I see it as my role to keep being #TheDesignatedMotivator and this includes working with my Starting Lineup of apps and technology solutions to share how they support a better quality of client experience, workflow, and overall firm management capabilities.
I truly believe that my partners including ADP®, Bookkeep, Canopy, Fishbowl, Jirav, Liscio, Smartvault, Swizznet, Corpay, RCReports, and Truly Financial are not only technology providers but motivators for us all, too, to keep us accomplishing more with less effort and enabling more balance on all fronts.
Let’s tackle the next quarter of the year like it is the last of 2022, because it is! And because with all of us in the accounting profession participating in the #MotivationMovement we can keep nurturing the spirit of collaboration that we started at events such as Appy Camp so they continue through #QBConnect and all of the other places we go in the next few months.
For those of us running public accounting and bookkeeping practices, we are continually called on to be a trusted advisor to our business clients, a credible conduit between the government and the rest of society when it comes to communicating and interpreting the tax code, plus a dedicated “doer” of the work. Oh, and that’s all before breakfast! Some days it seems that way, doesn’t it?
Here is what I know: this feeling of being overwhelmed and out to sea has become our new normal, and to me, that’s not the way anyone should live because life is too short. I’ve been there and done that, it’s stressful and soul-sucking.I know I am not alone in this view, but for too many other peer professionals, burnout is inevitable. Or is it?
If you are feeling like your options are to 1)keep doing what you are doing and burnout or 2) abandon the ship of an old-school firm I want to introduce youtube a different mindset. Engaging in a community of peers.
Does this seem too simple to work as a strategy for beating burnout? The truth is, we all need to have other people and perspectives to help us cope. Whether it’s professional or personal, or a mixture of both, having others to bounce ideas off and collaborate with can be life-changing. It’s not just a theory, either. A study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information shows that the more we connect with others who have similar experiences in a supportive way, the happier, less stressed, and prone to burnout we will be.
In fact, this week as I am surrounded by other accounting professionals with similar goals and mindsets as mine at Appy Camp, hosted by two of my favorite peers, Heather Satterley and Liz Scott, I am reminded of this fact. I hope you’ll make a mission of finding yourself a supportive peer group this week, too.
Here are a few accounting communities to consider:
Ecomm As You Are, The Designated Motivator Community, the Woodard Membership Community, and of course, attending events online, connecting on social media and, if you can, going to conferences in person is another great way to meet new supportive peer professionals.
It’s so important for accounting professionals to remember that you are not alone. It may feel that way when you get mired down with work, clients, deadlines, and then the life you have to manage outside of your firm. However, you can make a choice to think differently and see connecting and taking the time to nurture relationships as a critical part of keeping your productivity high and purpose for doing what you do front and center. Both of these benefits of engaging in community will ensure that you beat burnout and achieve the goals you have for yourself and your business.
There are so many people who shine bright in this profession who are ready and willing to help you. This is why I fundamentally believe that the more connected we are as people in this profession the greater the opportunities are for each of us. So don’t wait on the sidelines. Reach out to someone, be human, be humble, ask for help if you need it. And always remember, together we rise.
I am super excited for Appy Hour Camp coming up September 19 to 21! Who wouldn’t be? It’s going to be a fun adult camping experience hosted by Heather Satterley and Liz Scott, and me, The Designated Motivator, as the M.C. Let me assure you, however, this isn’t going to be all s’mores and camp fire songs! In fact, what I am most excited for (beyond the fact that we are going to be staying at the same place Dirty Dancing was filmed!) is that it’s going to be a truly educational experience.
Liz and Heather invited many thought leaders and educators in the accounting space to support us as intentional educators and to serve as an incubator for the next round of aspiring educators in the accounting space. I know with the lineup of speakers and contributors this is going to be an awesome camp!
According to Appy Camp headquarters, “the entire educational, inspirational and entertaining retreat will be a co-mingling of established accounting industry educators, up-and-coming educators, and app developers. All camp attendees will be immersed in the sessions and activities together in a shared space to facilitate community and collective innovation.”
In other words, we are going to get some of the most brilliant minds in the profession together and learn from each other about new ways to engage and expand the knowledge base for all of us. From talk to technology, I am planning to come home with some really inspiring action items that I can share with all of you.
I know whenever I get together with peers like entrepreneur wizard Melinda Emerson, Ted Callahan from Intuit, Misty Megia (can’t wait to hear her speak!), Virginia Lacayo, a business coach for thought leaders, Dan Gertudes from GrowthLabs, Ian Vacin from Karbon, and Mariette Martinez, Accounting Strategist the learning opportunities will be immense!
I am so looking forward to packing up my camping gear and heading to Appy Camp in just a couple of weeks. I don’t travel light to camp, either! I will be bringing along my entire Starting Lineup of apps and technology solutions to share with everyone including ADP®, Bookkeep, Canopy, Corpay One, Fishbowl, Jirav, Liscio, Smartvault, Swizznet, and Truly Financial. These are literally the solutions that have allowed me to create a cloud-based firm that is so efficient I can actually take four days to go to Appy Camp and not feel stressed about it, knowing that my team can use the system we have created to manage the workflow and my clients are still completely taken care of.
While I’m away, I’ll be posting on my social channels so please follow me so you can be part of the whole camp experience, too!
The secret to maximizing the takeaways from any professional education event is to have a plan of action when you return home, especially if you are planning to go on summer break.
Here’s my plan for taking all of the connections, education, and opportunities I gained at the conferences I attended in the spring, that you can use it as your guide to putting a post-conference plan for you and your practice:
I hope if you were at a conference you made some new professional friends and deepened your current connections with your peers. Make those connections count by connecting on social media, following through on actions you discussed and, checking in regularly- long after the conference is over. Keep the conversations going! You can read the full plan for doing your homework the right way over at Accounting Web: Doing Post-Conference Homework Before Summer Break | AccountingWEB
Join Dawn on November 10 at 2 p.m. for the premiere of The Designated Motivator for Accounting Professionals: Reassess Your Success to Maximize Tax Season Profits webinar.
Based on the new book, The Designated Motivator for Accounting Professionals, Dawn leads this strategy-focused session to help you implement key changes for more productivity and profitability this tax season. Register now!
During the webinar you will go through a reassessment process to help you determine the path for your firm moving forward, post-COVID, and in the face of ongoing changes for regulations and filings. We need to be sure we are prepared for whatever may come next. This will be an interactive session where you will use the time to lay out your firm’s business strategy and integrated technology ecosystem to become more profitable, more efficient, and most importantly, happier with your professional life this tax season and beyond.
It’s Dawn here to share with you my new podcast, The DM Disruption!
The podcast features practical advice and insights from yours truly and a wide range of guests from across the accounting profession who are focused on sharing motivation and strategies to help us practitioners achieve greater levels of professional and personal fulfillment and reward.
I decided to create The DM Disruption podcast to offer my fellow accounting professionals and colleagues from different areas of our profession with a forum for sharing our successes and challenges as well as the motivation to fuel greater a better way of doing things in your firm.
On The DM Disruption podcast I’m interviewing you, my peers as well as changemakers and thought leaders in the accounting profession. If you have an interest in making our community as a whole stronger and more successful, let’s talk!
New episodes of The DM Disruption podcast will be published weekly. To date, I have recorded podcast episodes with:
· Best-selling entrepreneurial author Mike Michalowicz
· CPA, James Upton of Upton Accounting in North Carolina
· Jody Padar, The Radical CPA
· Robin Hall, President & Principal Consultant, VARC Solutions
· Heather Satterley, CPA and Owner of Satterley Training & Consulting
· Dan Hood, Editor of Accounting Today
· Seth Fineberg, Editorial Manager/US Team Lead, AccountingWEB.com
· Chris Farrell, CPA, Founder of Liscio
· Ariel Sandell, CISRCP, Cybersecurity Compliance Consultant
· Erron Stark, DVP, Channel Sales ADP
· Heather Sperduto, VP, Channel Sales, ADP
· Kathy Grosskurth, Owner, Bookkeeping Clean and Simple
· Melinda Emerson, Founder, Quintessence Group
· Nate Flake – VP of Operations, Fishbowl
If you have a need for motivation or are involved in supporting the future success of the accounting profession, I’d love to have you as a guest on the show! Let me know by using this online form.
Looking forward to talking with YOU and helping everyone shake things up and achieve their goals!
The AICPA Engage Conference was phenomenal this year! Seeing all of my friends and meeting new professional colleagues is one of my favorite things to do. Whether I’m speaking, hanging out with my Starting Line Up peeps at their booths or attending a session to sharpen my own knowledgebase I always come back highly motivated to do more in my own accounting practice and help other professionals—and my clients—do the same!
I had a great time at Engage and picked up many nuggets of knowledge to put into play in my practice—but before I do, I wanted to share with you what has me so motivated from the experience in the spirit of inspiring those of you who also attended—and anyone else who didn’t—to really maximize the momentum and motivation to do more to fuel your own success.
First Stop: The AICPA Engage Exhibitor Hall
One of my first stops at any professional event I go to (after the ladies’ room, of course) is the exhibit hall. That’s exactly what I did at AICPA Engage, I headed there first! It was great to see my longtime friends and peers to share new ways to maximize my productivity and profitability and catch up in person after being virtual for so long!
I was equally excited to share my new book, The Designated Motivator and the players in the Team Brolin Starting Line Up. Having a valuable tech stack is one thing, however, the energy behind this collaboration of industry leaders who all share a passion to help accounting firms achieve higher levels of ROI and be able to serve clients with maximum profitability is amazing.
Next Up: The Festivities Begin with Fishbowl and Friends!
I never like to show up at a party without a gift for the hosts and hostesses and attending Fishbowl’s AICPA Engage event was no exception, so I brought along with me The Designated Motivator for Accounting Professionals Activity Book along with some crayons—to keep everyone in the motivation mindset and provide a little relaxation as they sat through all of the conference sessions!
The Fishbowl team not only provides the #1 Manufacturing & Inventory Management Software for QuickBooks® but they also throw one heck of a party! Kudos to Fishbowl for kicking off the first day of the AICA Engage Conference with the perfect level of networking and a good time. In my opinion, any time you can play cornhole and connect with all of the cool people in our profession it’s definitely a win-win.
My Assistant Kamdynn Moroney and I had chance to snap some selfies at AICPA’s Snapbar booth. What a riot! Here are a few of my favorite pics from the conference!
Day Two: Getting Down to Business! Learning and Laughing with My Peers
Day Two of my Engage! experience included attending a fantastic session by Kacee Johnson on Advanced Personal Financial Planning and plus reconnecting with familiar faces. I had such a great time hanging out with Eric and the Corpay gang.
Avalara has been such a great resource and I always appreciate time spent with their team. It was a wonderful surprise running in to Jim Leffel after all these years since sitting on the Intuit council together in 2008-2009.
I also enjoy being a member of the ADP Council [LINK] so it was amazing running into Sean Duncan and Sharrin Fuller who are also involved in it—ADP is another awesome Starting Line U player! I was also able to chat with another valuable starting line-up player, Rachel Montana and George Addlmessih from SmartVault.
Day Three: Sharing my Experience with QuickBooks® Enterprise
By this point in the conference, I was certainly feeling my Designated Motivator energy kicking into high gear so it was perfect that it coincided with the video production and photoshoot for a brand new QuickBooks Enterprise campaign—coming this fall! Wow, I feel so fortunate to have this opportunity to do more to help my fellow professionals by sharing the tools I have found vital in growing my firm and my ability to serve my clients as efficiently and expertly as possible.
Engaged and Empowered to Power Up My Practice and Help My Peers Do the Same!
The AICPA Engage! Conference was amazing—having the opportunity to gain new insights and network within our professional community is so incredibly valuable. I believe that connecting with each other on a personal level at events like this really does strengthen our profession as a whole. As we continue to navigate the future—still impacted by COVID, never-ending compliance changes, the unpredictable IRS actions, client expectations and demands, as well as the need to manage our firms effectively we need to support each other. I know the relationships I have with my peers and all of the entities who provide the tools and services we depend on to serve our clients are often the lifeline I need to keep motivated and to keep reaching for higher levels of success.
Bad days—we all have them. Over the past several months, many of us have probably had more of them than we would like. Yet “bad days” are a part of life so how can we learn to deal with negative situations so they don’t color the whole day gray, or worse yet, black? From my own experience, I have found that the most important thing I can do when faced with a challenge is to remember to bring my brain to the battle.
What do I mean by this? Let me give you a recent example from my CPA firm.
Over the past year, I have been working with a client on an IRS criminal case. This client came to me after working with another accounting practitioner who, truthfully, did not serve this client well and has put him in a precarious situation from a tax and financial perspective. Throughout the time I have been working with this client, it has become clear that he has a mental illness or, at best, post-traumatic stress disorder from the business relationship with the other practitioner who didn’t do their job.
Suffice it to say, it’s been very challenging for myself and my staff to work through this situation. Sadly, I had to fire this client last week after we had a tense call and he became aggressive, sending harassing and threatening emails with insults against myself and a staff member.
Facing a tough client or situation? Bring your brain into the battle on your behalf.
This is where remembering to bring my brain into the mental and emotional battle of this situation comes into play. I have to remember to use my thoughts to keep things in perspective and not to let this particular situation obscure my view of all of the things that our firm is doing right. I have to overcome my brain’s built-in negativity bias (The tendency we all have, according to psychological theory, to focus on the negative even if it’s really only a small percentage of the sum total of a day or situation, etc.).
This is the frame of reference that I use to coach the team member involved that everything is going to be okay. We have done our job, we did the right thing. As accounting practitioners, it’s far too easy to take the blame onto ourselves when someone else messes up. It’s hard to not get yourself wrapped up in the emotion of the moment and the situation at hand. I know for myself, I have to take the time to reflect and ask, “Did I do the right thing? Did I do the job I was hired to do?”
In this case, the answer is, “Yes. 100%.”
With this in my mind, I consciously bring my brain back to focus on fighting the urge to keep replaying the situation and keeping me in the negative place. It’s not easy, but it is necessary.
Don’t let dark clouds obscure a brighter view of your capabilities.
Something else happened on that recent dark day as well. Something pretty amazing which lifted the dark cloud and reminded myself and my team members that the negative situation was not the sum total of our abilities or our practice. In fact, the opposite is true—and this was proven out later that very same day.
Another client, who runs Lavendar Farm, came into our office to sign a Power of Attorney form. They had other questions and wanted to schedule another appointment with us. They were so polite and thankful for our help.
This client had just lost her parents and now her siblings are fighting over money. “We need to care about people and not worry about money all of the time,” I told her, as I shared The Designated Motivator (DM) philosophy from the book.
This is the type of client who our firm is built to serve. The people who get that we are all humans, doing the best that we can for them and who appreciate what we do. I am sure in your firm you have many of them. I am sure you’ve had a few challenging clients like the one I have been dealing with, too.
Keep those bad days in perspective—they do not define your professional or personal value
The truth is, in any profession and in life in general, we are all going to have struggles. If you are in the accounting profession like me, I know you’re going to have those same clients that are a pain and you are also likely going to have to deal with the IRS (they are basically useless right now).
When you feel the dark clouds rolling in, try bringing your brain into the battle to remain positive. Use it to remember that most of the people we encounter are more like the Lavendar Farm family and that, on the whole, you are doing the right things by people. Use your brain to make the tough decisions such as ending a bad relationship with people who choose not to appreciate what you are doing for them. Ultimately, that is the best thing you can do for your personal physical and mental health!
When things get tough, I want you to tell your brain to remember this little DM gem for you, too: You are too valuable to let someone else’s negativity obscure all of the good you are doing as a competent professional and caring person.
A colleague of mine recently shared a text thread from an accounting profession peer. Wow, did it strike a chord (more like a whole symphony) with me! In the author of the text, had shared a “Tip for working with accountants: Yes, tax season was extended, no we didn’t get all of our work done, no we haven’t been on a great vacation, no we are not all rested up. We are still physically, mentally and literally exhausted. Get a grip folks!”
Yowza! The frustration and pain of that text hits my heart—and I am sure it resonates with many of us who have tax preparation as a significant part of our practices. We can likely sympathize with these feelings of burnout and exhaustion. The feeling that the work is never going to end and that we are going to be crushed (literally and figuratively) by the IRS deadlines coming at us head-on like a runaway train. I know I certainly can.
The truth is, over the past two tax seasons the impact of Covid-19 has morphed what is typically a stressful and intense work period at best, to a completely new form of twisted tax torture.
Have we calculated the true cost of Covid on the accounting profession?
If this situation didn’t have such a serious impact on the physical, emotional and mental health of my colleagues, I might add some levity by imagining the 2020 and 2021 tax seasons as a special accounting edition of the show “Survivor.” Like contestants on that show, we’ve all had to draw on our inner strength and professional capabilities to make it through the daily IRS changes, shifts in the ways we have to work with our teams and our clients, as well as the extended (and extended further in some states) nature of the tax seasons that seem like they will never end. To say that the process has been a challenge might just be the biggest understatement of our professional lives.
What’s even more concerning to me is the impact it is having on accounting professionals on a personal level. Although the standard tax deadlines have passed for the most part, I don’t think they are really behind us. Consider how the text chain I referenced at the beginning of this article began with this snippet below. This is the same accounting colleague bravely opening up to his peers about the way he is really feeling:
“Glad I am not alone in this. I am honestly in a place I have never been—no motivation. I just don’t care anymore. The epoch that has been our life since March 2020…has me in a funk. Truly has me rethinking it all, at 41, what now, the same?”
This is truth. This is vulnerability. This is the real life “stuff” that we as professionals deal with—the human side of our work. This is exactly why I felt called to write my book “The Designated Motivator” at this particular time, in this particular year. In the burning fire of tax season.
Why every accounting professional needs a Designated Motivator
It’s for the accounting colleague who is questioning his profession, his purpose, and his life in deep ways—he is asking for someone to help him see there is more than just what is in front of him or on the immediate horizon at this moment. He needs someone to step in to be his Designated Motivator (DM)—the person I define as, “An individual who has the passion and ability to give others the greatest gift of all: the realization and mobilization of their true potential. Using their superpower to empower others to believe in themselves so they can achieve at higher levels than they thought were possible.”
Maybe you could be his DM. Maybe it’s me (I sent him a complimentary copy of the book). I hope that even if you don’t read the book yourself, you’ll take the DM Philosophy with you as work through the aftermath of this tax season.
This is The Designated Motivator philosophy in a nutshell: We all have a superpower within us—the ability to encourage and lift up others, to help them see their true potential and help them take action to get to a better place so they can realize it. Some of us feel that this is more than a latent desire. It is our passion and purpose. I know it is mine.
The DM Philosophy is about using your superpower to motivate others (or yourself), to help them (or you) to take action and to hold them (or yourself) accountable for making good on using their greatest gifts to reach their highest potential. You can read more about the DM Philosophy, Mindset and Toolkit here.
Imagine if we all did this for each other as professionals, but more importantly, as people. What would our daily lives be like? Imagine if we did this for someone and they paid it forward…the ripple effect across the world would be infinitely amazing!
Are you a Designated Motivator? Or do you need one?
By reading The Designated Motivator, you’ll have a solid framework for actually making positive change in yourself, others, and the world (if you so choose). I deliberately wrote this book to be an action planner and an accountability framework that you can use for yourself and others, because we all know that action is the only way to truly make a change. Just thinking about it doesn’t cut it.
Some of you might dismiss this DM book and philosophy as “motivational mumbo jumbo” and that is okay. Being a DM is not for everyone. But if reading this blog has sparked something in you, the desire to reach out to someone like the accounting colleague I mentioned here for example, or perhaps even reach out to find a DM for yourself, then I will consider it successful.
I decided a long time ago that I wanted to make a difference. It’s how I started down this DM path. I felt the desire in my soul and the fire in my belly to do what I could to make people realize how gifted they are and to help them see and seize the possibility they held within them.
Now that tax season is “over” yet for many of us not really behind us, I encourage you to take on the Three Key Responsibilities of a Designated Motivator to help a colleague, friend, family member, or anyone else who may need you to:
This is where the magic happens.
I hope you’ll join me and learn how to seize your DM superpower and make a significant and lasting change in your firm, your profession and in time, the world. Consider being a guest on my new podcast The DM Disruption starting this July. Complete the guest form here and get ready to join me with your DM story or a request for a DM!!!
Dawn Brolin, CPA, CFE, and founder of Team Brolin has a new book, The Designated Motivator: Unlock Your Superpower to Change Your Life, The World & Everyone In It.
Brolin wrote the book after what she refers to as a “pivotal experience” when she was an assistant coach for a college softball team which made it to the national championship in 2019. “I felt the desire in my soul and the fire in my belly to do what I could to make the team members realize how gifted they are and to help them see and seize the possibility they had within them,” said Brolin.
This “fire in her belly” inspired her to write The Designated Motivator. Brolin defines herself as a Designated Motivator, or DM, for short—an individual who has the passion and ability to give others the greatest gift of all: the realization and mobilization of their true potential. She knows there are millions of other people who share these qualities and wants to inspire them into action by creating a global Motivation Movement.
“I always knew I had the power to lift others up and help them to step into their greatest potential, but I never really put a name to what it meant,” Brolin shared. “It was in 2019 when I was coaching The Lady Warriors Team at Eastern Connecticut State University that I really began to see the power of the DM concept to make the lives of other people better and the world a more positive and productive place. That’s what motivated me to share the specific mindset and skillset I use so that others can do the same.”
Brolin sees the potential in many people that is wasted due to a lack of engagement and encouragement in business, as well as other areas of life from families to sports teams and beyond.
“Imagine what just a little encouragement and empowerment could do for you and the people around you. It truly can make a life-changing difference on so many levels, allowing people to advance your personal beliefs, achievements and goals forward, past all limitations!” said Brolin. “The Designated Motivator book provides a detailed roadmap to learn how to put your desire to motivate and move yourself and others into positive action and make a real difference in all areas of your life which also has immense impact on the quality of life in our world,” said Brolin.
The Designated Motivator is currently available for pre-order on Amazon and the Kindle and paperback versions will be available May 24. The book shares the transformative impact that individuals can have on other people individually and in families, businesses, schools, sports and non-profit organizations, healthcare facilities and other areas which are meaningful to them.
“I believe there are millions of other people who are Designated Motivators, although they may not really know how to use their superpower for the highest good,” said Brolin, “I decided to write a book that detailed the responsibilities, mindset and skill set of a Designated Motivator so that as many people as possible can use the information to help change their lives, make the world better and support the people they know in different areas of their life.”
To learn more about Team Brolin, Dawn Brolin and the book, download the Designated Motivator FAQs or search for the #MotivationMovement on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.