Now that we’ve covered the importance of an After Action Review for your firm’s post busy season, it’s time to really figure out which of your processes work and which ones might need to be reviewed and improved. 

Below I have broken down all of the key action items you may have once you have completed your AAR and how to prioritize, plan, and progress through each one.  Once you identify and prioritize each item that needs to be worked on, then you need to assign a leader to each task. The best way to get something done, is to make it someone’s job, after all!

 

Step 1. Assign staff to each area that needs to be improved, and then have them take a deep dive into this specific area of your process, suggesting improvements along the way. Once a new process has been discussed and vetted, it is important to share this with the whole team. When you share this, it’s a good idea to do a dry run before the next busy season hits!

Completing this process right after your busy season (like tax season) is critical. This way, we capture everything when it’s fresh in everyone’s minds and we do something about it before 

We get stuck in a cycle of facing the same problems, challenges and frustrations each year.

 

Step 2. Identify the topics you want to address. This part of your process often takes the longest. Maybe you have missing documents? Or poor communication between client and firm? Or maybe there are too many places that you have to go to find all your information.

One of the more common things that can lead to late nights and stress is that you get to January 1st and you realize you don’t have the information you need, in order to do the 1099s. If you don’t have all your ducks in a row, it is a hectic scramble and that’s when mistakes are made. Now is the time to determine how you will avoid this!

Another thing that firms are often wrestling with, especially now that we are (mostly) all working remotely, is that data exists in silos.  This happens when data is coming in too many ways.  Plus, if you have data silos, staff have to check too many places for all the relevant information they might need. This causes lots of stress, and lots of wasted time.

All throughout this process, everything needs to be documented to make sure all the new procedures are easy to follow consistently and you can onboard new staff easily when needed.

And of course, the underlying theme with all of this is security – anything you roll out, change, or do in your firm must be secure. So emailing your clients, asking for their W9s won’t fly anymore.

 

Step 3. Look at best practices to solve for the issues you have identified. If you are struggling to solve an issue, it’s a good idea to expand your potential pool of solutions by seeking help from a peer (like me) or a reputable source such as a solution provider.

The first problem we used as a common example is one I can help you solve: your missing W9s. The easy response is to update your year end files as you go. Create a centralized, secure place for all your digital files, this way everything can be easily located while staying safe. I like to use SmartVault for this! Each month, make sure you receive your W9s from each client – Liscio templates make these requests fast and easy as well as giving clients a secure way to send them. Using the QuickBooks Online AP lists as a guide, you can ensure that you have a complete set of documents from each of your clients.

Another issue many firms find themselves wasting time on is getting their clients to communicate effectively. Most firms request documents are sent via email. Not only has email become a serious bottleneck in many firms, it’s also super unsafe!  

Here’s what I suggest instead: Think about the client’s day to understand why they don’t respond instantly. Many times, your client will receive your email via their smartphone. They don’t have access to the documents they need or a scanner and they definitely don’t want to try logging into your online portal using their smartphone. 

If they don’t receive your email while they are on the go, then they get it when they are at work. Good right? Wrong. They have their own clients in and out the door and on the phone all day. Their priority is on making money and serving their clients. Your email will sit in their inbox until the link to the portal has expired and they have to ask for help to log in. This stalls all your work on this client.

So how can we solve this? Think like the client thinks! If they are texting you, it means that they are more likely to do business with you via their phone. Many millennials ignore emails and don’t own scanners or printers. Your solution is to match their mobile lives.

Set yourself up for success by adopting some or all of the policies I have shared with you, and make dumping email a very high priority. 

There are a few easy solutions to some big problems your firm may be experiencing. Schedule a demo with Liscio so you can see how much faster your firm can move when you are working with your client’s needs. Get your documents sent in on time.

Now it’s time to put your AAR learning into action…

Repeating these steps with all of the areas you want to improve based on your After Action Review will help your firm become more efficient for next tax season and ensure your clients feel cared for and can provide what you need quickly and easily. That’s a win for everyone and another reason to do your AAR now.

Episode Summary

This episode is sponsored by ADP. Learn more at www.adp.com/accountant

Caren Schwartz joins the DM Disruption! Listen now to learn how Caren started her own bookkeeping service, how she first gained her clients, and how she achieved the success her business has today!

Episode Notes

Caren’s beginnings

With Caren’s father being a CPA and an attorney, it was no surprise that Caren chose to follow in his footsteps and become a CPA herself. She says she has always had a love for working with numbers, and knew from a young age that this was the path for her.

Caren also talks about her time working at IBM, and while she liked what she did, she knew it was not what she wanted to do for the rest of her life. She started to think of things she liked, and knew that she was always very good with numbers. She then started a bookkeeping service to work with small businesses, and over time she evolved into doing more consulting work. Now, Caren works specifically with law firms, and says it’s probably because of her father’s work in the law field that encouraged her to do so.

Caren also talks about how she’s always enjoyed working with numbers. She recalls spending time working at her fathers accounting firm and assisting with the bookkeep, and even helping her friends balance their books while she was in college.

How Caren Grew Her Business

Caren talks about how she gained her first client by sending out letters to local accountants and even followed up with phone calls. She shares that she got one phone call back from someone who took a chance from her, and was able to gain more clients through word of mouth. Dawn also adds that it is very important to “shout from the rooftops” about any new business venture you are starting, because you will not gain any new clients if no one knows you are in business.

Caren also shares how important it is to give away information to your clients for free. She recalls that many people helped her for free when she was first starting out, and she wants to do the same. She also says that people are more likely to trust and want to work with you when they inevitably run into a complex problem, and you’ll be the first person they call to fix it.

Finding Work Life Balance

Caren works full time from home, and she talks about how COVID-19 has made it more difficult for her to achieve a healthy work life balance, and finds that she tends to gravitate towards work even when she’s supposed to be out of the office. Since partnering with 3535 Consulting, she has been able to take more time off for vacation, but would like to implement regular vacations moving forward.

Dawn also talks about how important a work life balance is and says that she intentionally schedules time during the week to do things she loves, even if that means she has to work for a few hours that evening.

 

Connect with Caren!

Visit her website: https://timeandcents.com/

 

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Check our her Website – https://www.dawnbrolin.com/

 

Transcript:

Dawn Brolin
Hey everybody here I am Dawn Brolin, your designated motivator. And I’m here today to talk to you about the ADP referral program. I love it, work with ADP your way because no two accounting firms have the same, you can process your own payroll, get rewarded for referrals, handoff payroll entirely to ADP. ADP is so flexible, you want to increase profits, you want to have everything in one place for you, that referral program is the way to go. Go to adp.com/accountant, you won’t be disappointed.

Alright, everybody will welcome back to another episode of the DM Disruption. And I’m here with one of my very favorite people, one of my mentors. So Caren Schwartz is here with us today. Again, a really dear friend of mine, we’ve been on the trainer writer network for four or five years, and Caren just stepped down from that committee. And understandably, we’re gonna talk a little bit about, you know, what is Caren been up to? What is Caren want to see for her life in the future? What has she seen in the past? And we’re just gonna have a great conversation, because Caren’s good is definitely a favorite of mine.

Caren Schwartz
Thank you, John, I love talking with you, you’ve always got so much energy and you it’s just amazing the things you’ve done and are doing so well.

Dawn Brolin
I appreciate that. And really, at the end of the day, I like you, we all are trying to do things. And we’ve always been willing to help each other out when people with questions. You know, I’ve reached out to Caren, C aren has done a lot of work with attorneys, and accounting and those kinds of things. And I’m kind of want to start off talking to you about your parents to be honest. Because, you know, I see that maybe it was a little bit of motivation, or maybe not, which I think you’ll tell us about but your dad being a CPA and an attorney, which you could tell us about and then your mom and the bookkeeping field. So you kind of grew up around all this.

Caren Schwartz
Yeah. So I kind of joke when I look back at it that I guess it was in my genes, and I never stood a chance. But I worked for IBM for 14 years. And when I left IBM and IBM, you get really, really specialized. And that doesn’t necessarily translate well to the general world. Right. But I had two young children. I had a wonderful nanny who I was not prepared to give up. Right. And so I had to work. And I really couldn’t find anything that was a good fit. And so I started so I thought about what do I like to do? What do I know how to do. And I was always very good with numbers. It’s in the genes. And so I started a bookkeeping service for small businesses. And then over time, I evolved into doing more consulting work. And it turned out I was working with law firms, and I liked working with law firms, I guess, you know, I was used to dealing with my dad. And so I knew how to deal with lawyers. And so it was just comfortable for me. And so I really narrow down into working with that niche. Right. That’s it.

Dawn Brolin
And that’s interesting, because when, you know, we were kind of talking about your dad and the fact that he’s an attorney. And I know your specialty has always been in the law industry and you know, IOLTA accounts and nightmares like that, that, you know, attorneys don’t seem to want to pay attention to it’s kind of funny, but but that you gravitated to that area because maybe of your dad, which is cool. And so what about your mom, like your mom, you said your mom was in bookkeeping. What would you do?

Caren Schwartz
My mom was a bookkeeper. But she actually she was she stopped working. She always said she stopped working when my father started making more money than she did. Because they got married. She helped to put work while he was going through law school. But basically, she took care of all the books in the house. She did all the finances in the house. And I remember sitting with the big green ledger sheets and working through the numbers for the personal finances. But then also my father’s company had moved from New York City up to Rye, New York, about 20 minutes from where we lived. Back in the days before there was lots of traffic on the roads. And and shortly after they moved their bookkeeper, his mother took ill and she had to go back to Germany to take care of her mother. And they asked my mom to come in and fill in a little bit. And so for a year my mother was supposed to be a couple of months it ended up being about a year my mother really was working as the bookkeeper at the at my father’s office. And so you know, I had I knew about her doing that and her working in that area. And then I also just being the daughter a couple of summers I actually worked in the office helping out in the the general office, but doing a lot of it within the bookkeeping area, so, I had a lot of exposure to that kind of thing.

Dawn Brolin
And how old were you when you were doing that?

Caren Schwartz
Well, when I was like in high school or college, right, because that was a bit older. Yeah, yeah.

Dawn Brolin
Well, yeah. Make sense, you weren’t eight years old doing both.

Caren Schwartz
No, no!

Dawn Brolin
So that so that and that did that just like spur interest for you. So as you, you know, what, like, what just made it stuck for you.

Caren Schwartz
And so, I was just always very comfortable with numbers. And so, you know, I always balance my checkbook. I remember in college, I had a friend who was having trouble with her checkbook reconciliation. And so I just sat down and helped her with it. So it was something I was always good at. Right? It was an easy, it was an easy, comfortable place to fall back to, and it was something that I enjoyed, I like, it’s a little bit of a puzzle, you know, kind of finding and fixing those numbers. And I’m terrible at crossword puzzles.

Dawn Brolin
Same with me! Like, don’t bring me to a trivia night, right? I do go, I contribute nothing. Like, I just can’t contribute anything to those types of things. But you want me to, like you said, reconcile our checkbooks, all day long. We love it. And so then you like you said, you had the kids and you were like, you want to keep your nanny, which I can appreciate that. And so how did you get your first client?

Caren Schwartz
You know, I started looking at accountants in my area. And I sent out a lot of letters, and followed up with some phone calls. And I got one attorney in Westport, a woman named Sonia, who basically took a chance with me, and passed a couple of clients on to me, and I was able to, you know, work with her and help them. And that really evolved. And then she continued, you know, giving me some business and I was able to expand out from there and pick up new clients.

Dawn Brolin
That’s so fun. It’s so so I think back we have such similar similar stories, certainly not the same. But I knew at 16 I want to be an accountant. But remembering that first client, like for me, like you said, Sonya took a chance on you. I have a guy who was building the in law apartment for my parents. And he was my work for my dad at Pratt Whitney when my dad worked there. And he was like, Hey, you have an accounting degree, you want to do my books. And I was like, Sure, I could probably figure it out, I think right. And it was just he took kind of took that chance on me too. And immediately fell in love with it. And he had those the one right system. So he wrote the checks out. And you know how the round one rate sheets is what he had the brown ones, but anyway, but it’s just so funny how you like just, I think that marketing still works, like you said, you send out letters and stuff to local accountants. And I try to tell people, they’re like, how do you market yourself? And I’m like, Well, you know, like you said, I reach out to tax attorneys, you know, I reach out to those kinds of people and say, Hey, listen, if there’s a gap, you can’t fill, or you’re looking for somebody to help out with, you know, filling out the 433, or gathering the documents or whatever, I’m your girl. And that’s how I kind of was able to start getting clients and I tell people listen, shout through the rooftops of what you’re best at. I think what sometimes, though, that I find in our industry is that people still struggle within, I want to say a niche, but even just a focus of what they love and what they’re good at. And so I think that wouldn’t like for you, you identified the law industry as something you were passionate about something you really enjoyed. And so you went after that we know, if you ask anybody who’s the you know, who’s the one who really loves the books with attorneys, and I’m like, Caren Schwartz all day like you, you just know that. And I think for those that are listening, if you haven’t shouted from the rooftops, the thing that you’re passionate about, or that you love, or that you’re really good at that may be holding you back, I think what do you think about that?

Caren Schwartz
I agree totally. And one of the ways you do that is also by giving, because I part, you know, there’s lots of things posts get put in lots of different areas, the products I support, there’s, you know, users that will like, you know, one of the products I worked with this TimeSlips. And they’re a sage city, which people put questions in, and I go in, and I answered those questions. And a lot of times I’m giving away my advice for free. But if it’s something fairly simple I do if it’s something complex, I’ll say, Look, this is way too complex. Reach out to me, and we can talk about how I can help you. But even if I’m giving it advice away, people appreciate it. And they come to realize, when they have a situation that is too complex, oh, you’re somebody I can call on. And even with other consultants, giving them advice and guidance, it comes back whether directly or indirectly, and so I’ve always been willing to give give advice because other people have also given to me.

Dawn Brolin
And that’s what I think is unique about our industry. I don’t know how many other industries do that. Like, don’t just say like, share secrets about things. It’s not they’re not like their secrets is just stuff that we figured out over time. Right? So, you know, I find that so, so now shifting a little bit. So one of the things that we are that I had kind of, you know, I researched Caren of course, all the time, but we talked about is that work life balance and where you’re at in your practice, right? So like you like me, we’re, we’re fairly similar in that we’re not, you know, we’re not on the upward slope, necessarily, I’m ready to go down the hill, kind of in a little way. I’m, I’m happy to go on my boat once or twice a week and not be in my office. So tell me about where you’re at with that right now.

Caren Schwartz
So that’s something I have a really hard time for my office is in the basement of my house, which is beautiful. It’s a walkout basement, with windows and doors, and you know, it’s a really nice area, I have a hard time stopping myself from working sometimes if I have, if I don’t have anything going on, on the weekend, I may come and sit down at my computer and start doing some work, or I’ll answer client emails and stuff like that, which I really should not do, because it gives them the wrong message that I’m always going to be there. And I you know, so you know, but, and I, I’m better now about sometimes taking time off. Although with COVID, it’s, you know, not been too exciting to go traveling as much. But being a part of for many years, I was kind of a solo. So taking a long vacation was really hard. Because you’re worried about what’s going to happen with your clients and stuff. And I’ve had some people work for me on and off for years, but I decided I was better off. Without employees, I didn’t want that work. But since I’ve been a part of 3545 Consulting, I have the backup and stuff. And so a few years ago, we actually did a 10 day trip to Israel, and all my clients survived. So I realize I can do this. And so now I do once we can do more regular traveling, do plan to you know, kind of take regular vacations, but getting myself to stop. And that’s the other thing with COVID, you know, when we didn’t have COVID was much more out in the evenings and during the weekends. And so I’d have a lot more going on. And so it was easier to not work. Now that I don’t have as much of that going on. It’s much harder for me to kind of tear myself away and say, Okay, I’m going to go do read a book, I’m going to work on a jigsaw puzzle, I’m going to do something and I do do that. But I have a little bit of a tendency to stay too long at the computer.

Dawn Brolin
Yes. And I can appreciate that for sure. I have definitely found actually myself since since COVID has happened. You know, I was working. But I was it was kind of weird, because in with taxes, it’s maybe a little bit different. But I felt like I didn’t have people in my office all the time. I could focus a lot better because I was just pumping out tax returns. I mean, I was just like, Okay, let’s just keep going, let’s go. But I didn’t ever work that 50 6080 hour work week that I historically had. And I feel like my time was managed better. And I learned a little bit more about that. So that this past tax season was a little bit better. But so so let me ask you this question then Caren, what is if you were to say these are three, let’s let’s exclude travel for a hot second, let’s exclude going to Israel, which must have been an amazing trip and being able to do more of the traveling part. But let’s cut the travel out and let’s say Caren’s at home, and then there’s this passion you’ve had for the firm your whole life maybe like for me, it’s sports. Like I want to watch sports, I want to go to sports, whatever, that’s kind of my thing. What about you? What else was there? Is there anything else in there Karen that you would do?

Caren Schwartz
Yeah. So I say I play at golf. Because I’m not as good as I would like to be so I’d probably like to spend more time playing golf sure that I could get better

Dawn Brolin
So when you golf let’s let’s stick on golf for a second and I do want to hear about the other stuff. So for golf. Do you just go like once in a while like a friend will invite you or you’re just like what what’s that look like?

Caren Schwartz
So there is in Fairfield where I live there is a par three golf course and there is a woman’s league that plays at the par three golf course on Monday mornings. I go out during the season, which is not long enough in Connecticut. I go out on Monday mornings and I go early and I play so I’m usually back at my desk by nine or 10 but I play nine holes on a par three course.

Dawn Brolin
Okay, that’s fine. See, that’s good. Right and I want I’m glad to hear that you’re doing I was gonna say to you or you join a league of some kind so that’s awesome.

Caren Schwartz
Yes, that’s the league is what got me out playing regularly because I didn’t know enough people that played to go out and play.

Dawn Brolin
You just be like, Oh, hey, want to go golfing? Right? Yeah. So it’s more like you needed something to like, kind of fill that gap of who else plays? Right? Right. Right. What else is Caren shorts passionate about?

Caren Schwartz
Um, I love mahjong. And now right now I play in the a couple of evenings, one or two evenings a week, depending. But I have friends that play and we’re like, if you if you were available during the day, we want you in the game. But I don’t want to take the time during the day.

Dawn Brolin
Sure. So is it just the drive the you’re, you’re a hard worker, you’re somebody you know, you probably like like myself, I watched my dad, my dad was a hard worker. So I have a work ethic like my father, and it’s like, you know, get things done, get things done. Is that what’s keeping you at that computer? Is it a mental, like, what is that? Because I feel like, are we gonna smack that out of you.

Caren Schwartz
Part of it is knowing that there’s things that need to be done and just saying, and well, you know, maybe I should just do it now. And part of it is that there’s nothing else pressing pulling me out, like in the evening. So during the day, it would be easier for me to do other things. But during the day is when the clients want to do things. So if it’s stuff that involves clients, I had to have to be available during the day,

Dawn Brolin
Which makes sense, which makes sense. So I’m just listening to me care. And I’m a problem solver just like you were both. That’s why we’re in this industry. But just trying to think of Okay, listen, what if you want to start you said, You know what, I’m going to go play mahjong with these people. You know, one day a week, and this day is a day I never scheduled client stuff. And that’s that’s just how the rules go. Not that you’re not working all day, but that you’re saying, you know what, at 11 o’clock, I’m out of here for three hours. I’m gonna play my module, because then what I’m gonna do is I’m gonna work at night because like you said, there’s not as much dragging us out at night these days. Right? Right. Except for the Red Sox tonight. course very important. So, but you know, so I’m just

Caren Schwartz
So rry, I’m a Mets fan.

Dawn Brolin
That’s–I’m sorry you’re a Mets fan. I’m just kidding. I’m totally just getting yeah, we’re just I don’t know what’s happening with the Red Sox these days. But I love it. So. But yeah, so so I’m just trying to think so what other things so you’d like mahjong? You love golf? You love those two? Are you like those two things? You love what you love? Mahjong? I’m just thinking of it. And I’m sure you’ve seen Heather Satterlee who’s now out but not only she riding horses now she bought?

Caren Schwartz
If my daughter heard about that, she’d be so jealous. My daughter wants a horse. It’s so bad.

Dawn Brolin
Like, oh my god. Well, look how long it took it took Heather to get to that point. But yeah. So I just like and I know, for myself, you know, I did the softball thing. I went out and coach softball during tax season, which everyone said I was a lunatic. And I am and I’m totally willing to admit that, but I just got to a point where I was like, I’m not gonna wait until I retired to do things I love. You know, I’ll work on a Saturday if I have to, in the offseason, you know, when it’s when it’s not tax season. I don’t typically work on the weekends ever. I did this Saturday, because we have obviously extensions this week. But you know, just trying to find that passion that you want to do something and then you know what, nobody’s telling nobody’s your boss. I mean, I understand that you’re doing some consulting. I get that. But you’re the boss. So you Karen, right. Right, and just set some guidelines and say, hey, you know what, I want to start doing this once a week. Because I can work at night. I’m not doing anything else guys will work. But you know, just enjoy those times that you can have for yourself during the week. Yeah, I dare you.

Caren Schwartz
Well, I will try to do some of that.

Dawn Brolin
Yeah. Because, you know, it’s one thing that, you know, obviously, we all have this. I think we’re all people pleasers in the accounting industry, really, we want to sell or serve the client, we want to get that stuff done. And we know we’re responsible for certain things, and we’ve got to get them done. But I just found that, you know, what I’m willing to do is go the extra mile. And another point, if I can do this thing that I really love, right?

Caren Schwartz
I think as I settle more into my will, this change that I’ve made in my relationship with 3545. And I see how I can balance some of that, I may be more, you know, going to say, okay, every Friday, I’m going to take off the afternoon or every you know, or whatever it is so that I can do something like that, or during golf season, I’m going to take off an extra day to you know, play golf, play more.

Dawn Brolin
Right. And I think that’s great. I think that’s what we you know, we do work hard. We do sacrifice and have for a long time here in Maine. We’ve been doing this for a while. And we have put those all day all nights in because maybe we’re trying to figure out a problem for a client. I remember the days I would come get a bed now my husband’s like, you know, I have my laptop with me and he’d be like, they stumped you again. And I’m like, yeah, they stumped me out of QuickBooks question that I need to figure out. This is, you know, these are the days before you could go to the Intuit community. You know, this was like, right way long time ago. When it was, we just had to figure stuff out on our own. There weren’t all these big certifications and things like that we just learned, we learned how to do stuff on our own. Which I think makes us awesome, by the way.

Caren Schwartz
Yep. The products that I work with, I remember way, way back. We used to have, oh, god chats. What was it can’t no not can’t be served. One of those really early instant messages, instant messaging, and we’d get on and we’d be, you know, with a really slow connection, but we’d have chats where we would talk amongst each other, and past idea. So I get that embedded in me very early in my career. I think it was also easier for me to balance a little bit more when I had kids at home. But now that’s just my husband and I and he’s doing stuff and it’s a lot easier to just kind of keep going. It’s tough, because you don’t have the interruptions as much.

Dawn Brolin
Absolutely. Do you remember Caren? This is fun. Do you remember when into it when like you’d volunteer for the week to answer community questions? Did you do that?

Caren Schwartz
Oh, yeah. Yes.

Dawn Brolin
Yeah. Remember my whole goal? My whole thing was whenever they say, okay, for when it’s your week, or whatever. I was like, Who has the most responses? And I would want to beat that number. That was like my whole thing. It was like, I want to be number one for the number of responses. Hopefully, they were right. But it just wanted to be one of those responses. And I would skip over the really hard ones and go just go to the easy ones. Fire them out. Right. Those were fun days. Right. Right. Those were fun days.

Caren Schwartz
But that’s what makes thing about participating in like chat groups and stuff where you can respond. If there’s a question you don’t know the answer to you just skip it. And you know, you can reply and you look really smart.

Dawn Brolin
Yeah, absolutely. I’ve been in the face some of the Facebook groups and just in their jumping in some, you know, answers or ask him some questions that I asked, you know, whatever. And the resources now, or just unlike we ever had, you know, getting through this,…

Caren Schwartz
Google is wonderful. I search for things on Google all the time.

Dawn Brolin
And absolute…Tracy bought me a little sign for my desk says Idk. Google it like, I don’t know, Google it. Like, if I have to look it up. If I look it up on Google, somebody asked me a question. I’m like, You know what, I just want to be sure I’m answering this, right. And I Google it, and I find it I send them the link and hoping that they’ll be like, oh, all she did was Google it. Like, you couldn’t google it, man. Like, come on.

Caren Schwartz
Yeah. My daughter this morning. And it texted me and said, How do I do a print screen? Well, she has a Mac. I don’t have a Mac. I don’t know how to do it. Because I went into Google. I googled it. I texted her, I said, Here’s what Google says.

Dawn Brolin
Seriously, like, Come on, man. You guys got the most you’re that age group. You’ve got the most resources at your fingertips. And have we ever been? Right? I’m on Google at people. Yeah.

Caren Schwartz
So I think back on my mom with her spreadsheet, you know, with her paper spreadsheets and stuff. She would love things like Excel and Quicken it would have would have given her so much more free time because I remember sitting with the calculator, adding up the numbers. And you know, she always had the paper tape going because if the number didn’t bat numbers didn’t balance or why Where did I goof?

Dawn Brolin
Yeah, I still love doing that too. By the way, sometimes just you know, using that. I love that little calculator with a tape. It’s so fun. My daughter loves it, too. She’s like, Mom, do you have anything for me to add? Like now? I’m good. There it is. Oh, my goodness, I do love it. Well, listen, we try to keep these to about 20 minutes or so Karen, you’ve been amazing. You know, love, love to hear the stories about you didn’t know that about your parents. That’s kind of a cool little fun fact for me to get to know you a little bit better, as always, but I really appreciate you I know there’s a lot of people out there Karen as you have spoken at scaling, new heights and QB connect and the presentations that you do and the training that you do in the teaching. I know there’s people out there that you have positively affected their life. And that’s what you know, the the designated motivator, concept and characteristics are all about and you so you are definitely one of them. If you didn’t know that.

Caren Schwartz
Well I appreciate that, yeah, thank you so much for the opportunity to be on today but also for your friendship and all the things you do for the community as well. Because it’s it’s just so cool being part knowing you.

Dawn Brolin
Hey, same here, Karen, you’re a great friend and I do appreciate you so everybody, thank you so much for listening to this episode of the DM Disruption. One of my favorite people Karen Schwartz. Love her revolting Connecticut’s beautiful day today. You should be golfing today. Karen, you got this morning?

Caren Schwartz
No, I did not.

Dawn Brolin
Right. We need to pick another day this week. Get out there and golf because it’s gonna be a nice week. All right. Thanks again, Karen and everybody. We’ll talk to you next time on the designated motivator. DM disruption podcast. Thank you so much.

 

 

Episode Summary

This episode is sponsored by Canopy. Learn more at www.getcanopy.com

Are you looking to increase your accounting software knowledge? Do you want to brush up on your skills? Kathy Grosskurth is a member of the Intuit Trainer / Writer Network, and can help you do just that! Listen now to learn about Kathy’s beginnings, how she started her career in accounting, and how she can help you and your business better understand your accounting! 

 

Kathy’s Beginnings

Kathy has been in the accounting industry since 2005, and worked part time from home while also being a stay at home mom. Then in 2012, Kathy decided to pursue freelance work and had success gaining her own clients. But as the years went by, she still felt like she wanted to expand her skill set and offer different services to her clients. 

She decided she wanted to become a trainer for accounting software programs, and attend QB Connect and Scaling New Heights for the first time in 2016. She recalls how nervous she was to attend and was concerned she would be treated like a third wheel, but that couldn’t be further from the truth! She met many people she had looked up to over the years, and solidified the fact that she knew she was heading in the right direction for her career.

Immediately after leaving Scaling New Heights, Kathy says she gained a new motivation and a want to teach others. Kathy talks about the decision to start her own Facebook group for people in the accounting industry and in her area to connect together, and the group is still active today!

 

How Kathy Found a Love for Accounting

Kath describes that a two year junior accounting course is what sparked her love for accounting, and she used that love of accounting to eventually start her own QuickBooks training course. Her and Dawn talk about teaching young accounts, and they highlight how important it is that the incoming CPA’s be well versed in how proper accounting is executed. 

 

Connect with Kathy

Visit her website: https://www.bookkeepingcleanandsimple.com/

 

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Follow Dawn Brolin!

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Subscribe to Dawn on Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCp1-…

Check our her Website – https://www.dawnbrolin.com/

 

Transcript

Dawn Brolin
Hi, everyone, my name is Dawn Brolin. I’m a certified public accountant Certified Fraud Examiner, the president of powerful accounting Inc, and the author of the designated motivator for accounting professionals. I’m here today to talk to you about Canopy. Canopy is an awesome tool. If you’re doing tax returns or tax representation either way, what it allows you to do is pull transcripts from the IRS, they have an integration certified by the IRS to pull transcripts, what I love about it is I log in one time, I connect my E services account, and I can go into canopy and pull transcripts, I don’t have to continue to log into the E services, put in my password, get my code and get in. And finally just get through E services. It’s so cumbersome. So I use Canopy it’s a one time connection. Let me give you a couple tips. Number one, I like to pull transcripts for some of my clients who make estimated tax payments, maybe they don’t provide me a copy of the estimated tax payment, I want to make sure I know the correct dates of those estimated payments, okay, so I will go into canopy pulled an account transcript for my client and be able to see what dates they made their estimated payments just solves for a lot of problems, there’s no notices maybe I thought they did four or $5,000 estimated payments, when really, they only did three, they told me that it board they only did three. And notice comes in because they didn’t pay enough in tax. And now they’re saying you did the tax return wrong. That happens all the time. So to eliminate that pain of that process, and that, you know, customer integration or customer experience, right? We want to eliminate notices and all costs. So that’s one really key thing. The second one is when you’re not sure if the clients given you all of their documents, maybe there’s a 1099 R that they had from the year before. And for whatever reason, they don’t think they can find it, I can pull a trace a wage and income transcript, pull down all that information. So at least I have the federal information on that 1099 If it’s applicable if they received one for that year. And it eliminates again, the whole concept of notices. So I find it really important as I’m preparing tax returns to have this tool in place. And so I love using it. So as a tax preparer, those are a couple of tips, how you can use canopy in your practice. Thanks for listening.

Hello, everybody. Welcome back to the DM Disruption, where we’re here not just to talk about motivation, but actually turn it into action. And there’s a guest on with us today. Kathy Grosskurth. But Kathy, actually hasn’t been around art the industry for a long, long time. But her impact goes beyond the years that she’s been working in the accounting industry. She’s a great friend, great people. She does a lot of training and teaching other people getting back if you You’ve seen her on social media if you’ve been on social media. So Kathy, welcome to the show today. We’re so I’m so excited to just have a conversation with you. How’s everything going?

Kathy Grosskurth
Everything’s going pretty good Dawn, and I’m glad to be here today. So yeah, it’s it’s been it’s been pretty, it’s been weird, but it’s been good.

Dawn Brolin
It’s that, you know, it has been weird last couple of years, which is part of the reason why I wrote the book designated motivator, just some experience that I had. And then you know, the book for the designated motivator for accounting professionals is going to be out by scaling and pre orders will be scaling new heights, but they’re it’s up, it’s almost done on Amazon ready to go. Because I like you, we are trying to positively impact the accounting industry in whatever way we can. And you are definitely doing that. Because I’m out there watching social media, I participate. But I also watch what other people are doing. And you’re doing great and amazing things. You’re always positive. You’re always lifting people up. And when you get involved in the conversation, you make that conversation better. So I want to thank you for that. I’ve, you know, just really enjoyed getting to know you as much as I have been, it seems like just a little teeny, weeny little bit, which is why today, we’re gonna talk about you and your story, Kathy?

Kathy Grosskurth
Well, first of all, Dawn, I want to thank you so much and hearing that from you. It’s just really one of the biggest compliments I could get because sometimes, you know, you don’t really know how you’ve impacted someone’s life. And then sometimes you might get some verification in a thank you email or somebody will post a compliment on our YouTube channel, youtube video I posted so yeah.

Dawn Brolin
Y eah, you’ve been great and so, so Kathy, I want them listeners, the listeners know you again as you’re out there currently now in the social media helping everybody out. But you didn’t start there you started in you worked at a different job. And I don’t know that history. And then about five years ago, you said, You know what I’m taking the bull by the horns, I’m doing what I want to do, which is be in business for myself and go out and do that. So tell us the story about Kathy and how you, how did we so luckily get you in our in our industry?

Kathy Grosskurth
Well, it actually started way before that, but I’ll fast forward five years.

Dawn Brolin
All you sister, it’s all you!

Kathy Grosskurth
Okay. Well, I had actually been working in the field, off and on since about 2005. And I was doing a very part time I was working at around, you know, my kids being at home and being a stay at home mom and doing this a lot. I was working from home before it was even a thing pretty much. Okay. So fast forward to about 2012. And that’s when I decided decided to freelance mostly because I was working for other people, you know, as an employee also volunteered in the nonprofit area. And so I started accumulating my own clients and stuff. And then at about about 2015 or so I kind of knew I wanted to do the training thing, because that’s been kind of my background, I was certified in Microsoft Office, and I taught the continuing education, you know, Microsoft Office, mostly Word and Excel and PowerPoint and stuff. So I knew I wanted to go that route. And so around 2016, I was able to snag two tickets, one for QB connect, and one for scaling that I got for pretty cheap. And at that point, it was quite a bit of money that I outlay for those, even though they were severely reduced tickets. But I saw it as an investment because I knew just from being on Facebook, I had started joining a lot of accounting groups on Facebook. And some folks from Intuit had even reached out to me, Mindy King was one of the first ones and Allison Ball as well, and so I got I was meeting people, you know, through these groups and trying to answer questions and stuff like that, trying to be helpful. Sure. So I decided that I wanted to go to scaling and meet some of these people that was just corresponding with. And, and I didn’t know what to expect. I was thinking man, you know, I would hate to go to this place and feel like a third wheel that nobody would care or anything like that. But I went to that meeting in Orlando, I actually drove there because I live in Atlanta, that it’s not that far. So only about six and a half hour drive down there all by myself drove down there. One of the first people I saw was Hector, of course, I didn’t say anything to him, because at that point he was checking in and all that. But as the week went on, I got enough courage to meet him meet Michelle Long. And a few other people Mindy actually saw me and ran up and got a selfie with me. And and it was just incredible. And so many other people that I met as well. I mean, just so many people, even locally around here that I didn’t know. And around that same time I was thinking, you know, I’m wanting to be a part of a larger community. But we didn’t really have anything local here. We actually let me back that up. We had a water group that met, but they were kind of dormant, but they were like on the eastern side of the town like we’re I’m on the western side of the town.

Dawn Brolin
Yes, Atlanta is big!

Kathy Grosskurth
You know, you could probably have a group for every quadrant or even in the middle of the city. So I was trying to figure out if I wanted to try to make that group work or that after a while, and I had also met another lady from Woodstock. And we were talking about starting our own group. And I don’t know what happened with that. But I just decided, well, you know what, I’m just gonna take the bull by the horns, and I’m gonna see if there’s interest in this. So when I got back from scaling, I mean, I was so motivated, I decided to go ahead and reach out to everybody in our local area through the Pro Advisor website and started connecting with people that way, and also through some of the Facebook groups as well. And so in January of 2018, we launched our first it was actually an online meeting, because we, you know, we knew we were in the middle of tax season, sure. Tax season didn’t, didn’t think we would get a whole lot of people but at that first meeting, we had like maybe five or six people and we had, yeah, so yeah, so we had our first in person meeting in March of 2018. I think about eight or so individuals show up and then we started to get a few regulars that came and of course, you know, not everybody came to every meeting. Sure and So after a while, we were averaging probably about 10 people or so, over that. A year, not too bad. I mean, you know, and we met every month, we had a set, meaning we met on the fourth Thursday of the month, created a Facebook group, which, you know, we’ve got quite a few people on there now, probably about 213 people, the pandemic hit, and we were already talking about changing meeting locations. And because we wanted to try to, because we knew that another group, what meeting very much, and we wanted to try to, you know, try to incorporate some of them not to take over, but you know, to kind of get them kind of going back again, though, anyway, then, we had decided on a location and we decided, you know, we were not going to start meeting back up until March anyway, because usually the first meeting couple meetings a year, we know, people are doing Texas, they’re not going to come out. So then the pandemic kit. And so I had, and then I had another situation where my co leader, we didn’t see eye to eye on how we were going to handle that. So she and I ended up parting ways. Sure. And so I just basically, and I had an assistant that’s helping help help me kind of keep everything on track. So we continue to meet but we use Sue. Okay. We started in the last couple of years at scaling. I actually started speaking like 2019 was the first year that I actually spoke, right, one workshop there. And then last year, I did too, and this year, I’m doing too. But anyway, from from that people, I told people about our group, I said, you know, I don’t I don’t care if you’re from Atlanta or not, you can be a part of our group, you know, you can be a virtual part of our group. And you know, we would we would love to have you participate, because there’s a lot of places in the United States that do not have a group. Yeah, our group ended up I mean, that ended up being a foreshadowing of what happened, when the pandemic hit, we had basically had to move everything online. So ever since December of 2019. That was our last in person meeting. Yeah, ever since then, January to present date, we’ve been doing everything on Zoom. And we’ve had people from all over the US participate. But we’ve also grown with some local people as well, that I’ve still not met in person, some of them I’ll be seeing for the first time, when we go to Fort Worth. But we’re in the process of trying to determine a meeting location, and it’s gonna be somewhere around the perimeter, probably the top end of the perimeter, because I figured some of the folks, if they planned it out, then they should have no problem getting there. But we’re gonna do like a Harvard thing. And one thing that I found out in speaking to Joe earlier this summer, because I was telling him my idea, and then that, you know, I wanted our group to be kind of a virtual group to kind of be a catch off for other people. Sure, tell me that some of the other local groups had decided that they were going to go on hiatus, and I didn’t know that I mean, oh, was one of the craziest things I’ve ever heard it. If it weren’t for our group, I don’t think I would have been able to have had my head intact. And I still feel like that in the last few months in everything. I think this pandemic has hit me worse than I thought, because I had some personal things that I was dealing with, and my husband was having some personal issues, but it kind of hit me that you know, everything is different, it’s still different. I guess a lot of it was thinking that we were going to try to come out of it a lot sooner. So that’s really been a lifeline. For me, it’s been one word not only have I been able to reach out to them, but they’ve been loving on me as well. So I’m so glad that we were able to keep it up and so when we went to Orlando, I wouldn’t Orlando last year, and it was a very scaled down event. So and that was weird not having all those numbers of people there but it wasn’t away it was kind of too because it it allowed us to do what we need to do. Joe was very good about the social distancing thing or that so that was good. But you know, I was thinking, you know, we’re, we’ve rounded this corner, we’re gonna get this vaccine everybody’s gonna be I figured by now we will be you know, business as usual. No, it hasn’t happened quite to the extent that I want but we still aren’t doing our meetings and everything. So that’s kind of where we’re at right now. And if nothing else, I just want to share is that you know, even in the midst of, you know, me going through some of the stuff I’ve gone through I’ve trial always be a positive, because I used to be one of those negative people. And and I don’t want to go back to that. And if I didn’t have that group, if I didn’t have that support, then I very easily have gone back in, in going back into a negative frame of mind. But you know, it’s been a part of something bigger than myself is, you know, really helped me and I think it’s helped all those other people.

Dawn Brolin
So, well, I think you’d be surprised Kathy, honestly, right, we’d be surprised at how much like doing something you love, which is being part of a group like that with your right without that lifeline, and having those connections with people to be able to keep you up. And that’s, that was one of my biggest concerns over the last four or five months. And why I wanted to write this book to help the accounting professionals kind of reconnect to their why. Right, and I’m doing a session on scaling to call reassess your success. And really, it’s about, let’s get back to why we love what we do. Let’s get back to the clients that we love, the clients we don’t love, and the services we provide and all these things to kind of rein it back in to say, okay, I can redefine if I feel like I’ve kind of fall off the car, oh, you’re off the off the rails a little bit. Let’s get you back on the rails and back on track to where you were you were going, I’ll say pre COVID. Because I agree with you. I think there’s a lot of it’s just different now than it ever was before, for obvious reasons. And I feel it’s definitely important. For people like you who are out there being positive, encouraging people, there’s a lot of people in pain, you can just read social media, you can see pretty quick, who kind of maybe had a bit you know, a little bit of a dip here and there and having dips are okay, that’s probably one of the biggest messages right Kathy? Right. I mean, you know, life doesn’t just it’s not this beautiful journey of of perfectness and positivity, we run into hurdles and those that the thing that I do believe things that don’t kill you make you stronger. I do believe in that. And and, you know, we have to fight through them. But isn’t it so much better to fight through it with people?

Kathy Grosskurth
It most certainly is, it most certainly is. And if I didn’t have those people in my corner, then I don’t think you know, I wouldn’t have been able to make it this far. And also, incidentally, I’m doing like a revisiting of my networking workshop. I did that in 2019. But, um, on this one, I’m going to be focusing more on you know, what’s happened since the pandemic, and I’m planning on getting real, even though I’m gonna kind of go over some of those main concepts. Again, I’m gonna kind of go over those pretty quickly because I want this workshop to be one where we talk about, you know, some of the things that we’re feeling and, and I’m gonna be real with people. So it’s gonna be like, you know, you know, what’s, what’s in Vegas stays in Vegas, or Yes, what’s in Fort Worth stays in Fort Worth, because I want to have everybody that attends that to have the opportunity to be able to share in a safe space, because, you know, we need that, I think we need that so much more now, because we’ve done that in quite a few of our zoom meetings, and we’ve talked about it I’ve even talked about the fact that I ended up having to go see a counselor because of some of the stuff that I’m having to deal with, you know, and there’s nothing wrong with that. And one of the things and just incidentally, it is National Mental Health Awareness Month, so that’s something we need to be reminding people that, like you said, there’s no shame in needing help, you know, and that’s something if nothing else, if people need help, there’s the people out there that you can reach out to, so that you can remember to remind people of but also be on social media, you want to try to not be so negative that people to turn you out but you know, I’ve always been a glass half full kind of person, I try to see the light the brighter side of things, even though sometimes I probably shouldn’t, but that’s just my nature. I try to be more more you know, looking at the you know, the positive out of something if I can.

Dawn Brolin
Right, absolutely. So, so Kathy, tell me, what, what happened and when was that moment where you were like, Okay, I want to do this I want to be an accountant. I want to be able to teach and train and I know that’s something that is something your innate naturally you love to do that kind of thing. But was was there a moment or like, even when you were younger, where you were like, Yeah, I really liked this accounting thing. Obviously, software, you’re into software, which thankfully right? I was talking to someone a couple weeks ago, and they were telling me how they did like a lot of Um, I’ll just say older people who didn’t really know how to use the computer how to use Zoom. And this was pre COVID. And they were doing like you were doing with Microsoft, they were teaching more of the how to get online and how to do certain things. And why what a blessing that was to people, because they helped teach them, then they were able to spend time through zoom with their family, whether it’s the holidays and these things that if they hadn’t taken that class or whatever, they wouldn’t be able to do that. But was there this moment of in time, maybe there wasn’t where you were like, Man, I just, this is just what I love to do. And I’m just gonna go for it. Was that like, when you were in Microsoft thing? Or what? What was it?

Kathy Grosskurth
Well, it’s interesting that you mentioned that because when I was after I graduated high school, I went to a two year class on Junior accounting. And that’s where I learned, you know, all the bases of the county, of course, back then we won’t, we won’t say how far along I was, but we were learning on spreadsheets, that worksheets and all that kind of thing, to learn the debits and credits, and when you did in the tip, 10 column worksheet and all. So awesome. Yeah, but that education was so crucial in understanding it. And you and I can go off on a segway about how, you know, we need that today. But I don’t want to digress on that.

Dawn Brolin
I have to agree with you, but go ahead.

Kathy Grosskurth
Fast forward to probably around the time, when I was at home with my kids, and I was doing some work, you know, I was doing some admin work. And then I was active in my community, volunteering with nonprofits and stuff. We have a local food bank over here that that I would work with, and stuff like that. And I was also on the board of directors for a community organization. And somehow I actually got pulled back into this accounting thing, because we had back in 2005, it was right after, it was right before Katrina hit. Okay. We had Hurricane Dennis came through in dumped record rains in this area, we had like 13 inches of rain in this area, in in like a two day period, which is why a lot of rain. And that happened like two or three months before Katrina did. So we had a lot of people displaced a lot of homes that you know, had the really bad, you know, damage and stuff like that. So they had a group of people who started a disaster recovery group, and I was the treasurer for that group, okay. And I had an I had just gotten a copy of QuickBooks, it was the 2004 version, like the accountants version, I wasn’t even a pro advisor at that point, but they needed something to track that. And so I started using it. And I basically self taught and, and I really liked it, because I was able to go in and do the job costing because they would have different properties that, okay, have to keep track of, you know, the money that they receive for certain jobs that they would do and stuff like that. Sure. That was where I got back into it. So all those years ago, I took all that training. And then you know, when when I got back into it all those years later, all that training kind of kicked in. And it was almost Yeah, of course, I had to review some of those concepts. But it was like, it was kind of like a 180 or 360. I went back into what I had originally went to school for and right. So that was you know…

Dawn Brolin
I love that. I have to say, you are spot on. I and I I’m teaching it the Well, I had didn’t this semester, I probably won’t next semester, but I’ve been doing some adjunct teaching for I call it gray on accounting as accounting 101, right, or 201 or something. And, yeah, we’re teaching them debits and credits. And we’re trying to teach them. One of the ways I was trying to help teach them was I did all the T accounts. Here’s how you’re going to do this. See how this has to match that and give them a trial balance. But I’m telling you right now, and it was all in the textbook, right? But if if I was to write that course myself, it would be exactly what you’re saying. And I would have them actually using Ledger’s handle Ledger’s that they would be filling in and writing out, not in Excel, but literally handwriting and doing the homework on paper because that’s how we really learned how everything ties out. And the computer makes it way too easy. And I think that, you know, I’ve had I’ve had young staff, I have young staff who are coming in master’s programs and all this. And it’s like the it’s almost like are they really getting the idea of exactly how this is almost all tie out. And I think that might be where they’re where the education system needs to be kind of like putting the check to say hey, get those spreadsheets back out here. Boy did they teach us how to balance them Breathing out. Right? Right, right.

Kathy Grosskurth
And that was one of the things that I saw as being a big hole in some of our training. And I saw that Intuit was trying to do that. But even before Intuit, came up with their little thing, I have like a six session course that I’ve developed based on and I use a college textbook to kind of kind of an abbreviated version just to kind of give you what you need, and then try to equate it to using QuickBooks. And I found that it’s really helped a lot of people because a lot of people start in on this without a single clue as to the accounting in the background. And yeah, that’s got to do a better job of is, is teaching the people the basics.

Dawn Brolin
Yes. 100%. And so in saying that, where can people because so you actually have that course? And it’s up online, isn’t it?

Kathy Grosskurth
Yes, yes, yes. And they can go to my web page. And they can see, because I offer it in two versions, I can do the individualize instruction. And then I also have like the videos that I can do, but it comes with all the handouts and everything like that.

Dawn Brolin
So we’re definitely we will, that’ll be at the bottom of the podcast. So you should see it down at the bottom. So we can promote that for you, Kathy, because I agree with you, I think we need to help people help wherever they are. Always tell me, I always tell people as I meet my clients where they are, it’s okay to meet a new bookkeeper, a new accounting professional, whatever you want to call them, where they are. And if they haven’t had that foundation that, you know, they picked up QuickBooks and kind of learned self taught did that. And that’s great. But maybe they just need that real good basic knowledge of the accounting systems before they let QuickBooks do it for them. And yeah, we definitely, you know, where we I see this a lot you probably do too, is when I look at p&l and balance sheets, and people have to Oh, well, I’ve reconciled everything. Okay. Well, why do you have negative numbers on your p&l? Unless it’s a sales returns and allowance or a contra account? Which I can, I’m fine with contra account. Yeah. But not realizing when your system it’s like, if you’re not recording it properly, you’re not reporting it properly. And it’s so important for us to keep our eye on that. And so we definitely want to promote whatever it is that you have out there to offer people because people need it.

Kathy Grosskurth
Well, I appreciate it. And one of the things that I’ve realized that some people reaching out to me too, is that they have teams of bookkeepers that they want to enhance their skills. In fact, I work with Liz Scott’s group of bookkeepers this summer, teaching them that very same course. Yes, that, you know, based on that course, they, they had a lot of questions that they were asking internally and are moving in the right direction that they need to move on. So yeah, it’s a really ideal course for, you know, accounting teams and stuff like that.

Dawn Brolin
Right. And yeah, we definitely want to promote that. But so we’re gonna, we’re gonna we always try to keep this 2025 minutes, Kathy, you have been awesome. Like, this was a really fun conversation with you, I definitely learned some about, you know, a little bit of your background, which is exciting and fun. But I do still, like I said, In the beginning, I really do appreciate you. You know, just watching you over the last five years or so. And watch you grow. And just that what you give back is what like just warms my heart because you do that and you do it, you do it with no strings attached. And you can tell you do it because you’re passionate about it. And so thank you for from my perspective of what you have done for people. And we’ll continue to do and I will be there almost guarantee you, when you go to scaling your height, somebody’s going to come up to you and be like, Kathy, I just appreciate you for what you’re doing, what you’ve done, and what you’re going to continue to do. So I want to be the first person Thank you. So that’s what I want to do.

Kathy Grosskurth
You know, if you remember this or not, you had given me this car at one of the QB connects. So when you did your little round table thing, and I still have that I have it sitting right here. And it reminds me, it reminds me of you and reminds me of the encouragement that not you only gave me but everybody in that room.

Dawn Brolin
Well, I appreciate that. And this and that’s what we’re all here for. And I’m proud of you. And I’m looking forward to seeing things if I get a chance to pop into your session. I will. And so, but I just can’t wait to see it scaling. And I just want to thank you for your time. You’re just giving. You’re just our giver, and I just appreciate you.

Kathy Grosskurth
I appreciate you so much for having me.

Dawn Brolin
Of course so and everybody, thank you for listening. It’s been a great episode. Cathy’s just just on fire crushing it, check out her course. You know, go check out her website. If you have staff that are struggling with the ABCs and one two threes of accounting and really need some foundational work. Cathy’s your girl, she does a great job. She’s always free to give. So thanks, everybody. We’ll talk to you next time on the designated motivator the DM disruption. We are here to help motivate, give you as much positivity as we can. And we wish you the best and we’ll talk to you again soon. Thanks so much.

 

Conference Kick-Off: Using Technology to Differentiate Your Client Experience

May 19, 2022, 11 AM EST

Sign up now! https://bit.ly/3KwBvF3

 

Client expectations and compliance requirements for data security have changed the game when it comes to the way accounting firms need to serve their clients. Learn how technology is helping firms elevate their service level and create new efficiencies in key client-facing functions.

In this session you will learn:

The new shifts in client communication and expectations that firms need to be aware of to remain competitive.

How to address these new expectations from your first client interaction through the close of each engagement.

How technology can be integrated into your client-facing workflows to ease onboarding and client service issues and create an exceptional client experience.

New tools and technologies that support the transformation of the way you collaborate and communicate with clients.

 

Date & Time: May 18th at 10:00 am PST / 1:00 pm EST

Duration: 60 minutes

Instructor: Dawn Brolin, CPA, Sponsored by Liscio

Sign Up Now: https://liscio.cpaacademy.org/webinars/a0D2S00000uOtATUA0

 

This session is designed for any accounting professional who wants a smoother and more productive relationship with their clients.  Dawn Brolin, CPA, is committed to making the changes in her firm to make the experience the BEST it can be – for both clients and staff. In this webinar, she will share her journey and the solution she landed on to make everyone happy.

When you have a poor client experience, it sets off a ripple that affects the entire firm. How frustrated are your clients?  What does this cause in terms of loss of productivity and increased frustration for your staff?  

Dawn’s firm uses a professional practice management/workflow solution to manage their workflow and tasks to accelerate productivity, collaboration and visibility.  However, clients struggle with email as a general rule (they ignore it, they can’t respond on the go, etc), and this led Dawn’s staff to have to do a lot of chasing for documents they needed. They were also drowning in email and had too many places to look for documents from clients. Dawn needed a solution that worked for CLIENTS who are on the go and do not have scanners or printers at hand, but that also worked for staff as well. 

Come and learn how she integrated a great team experience with a great client experience, to dramatically improve productivity and reduce frustration on both sides of the equation.

 

LEARNING OBJECTIVES:

By completing this webinar, attendees will be able to:

  1. Identify current bottlenecks in their firm, including the issues that email causes
  2. Discover a tried and true solution to get clients to send documents on time and on the first request.
  3. Uncover easy ways to ensure each interaction between staff and client (and vice versa) is secure. 
  4. Learn how to create a single source of truth for all client communications, for staff.

 

WHO SHOULD ATTEND?

Anyone who serves multiple clients and wants a smoother and more productive daily experience for both staff and clients.

If you’ve followed me for any time, you know I looove technology–learning about it, experimenting with it, using it to drive efficiencies and ROI, and, of course, sharing my experiences with it to help others.

There is one thing, though, that I try never to lose sight of and I think it’s a point that can never be made enough. Technology is the means to the end, not the means itself. This is all part of the process I lay out in my book, The Designated Motivator for Accounting Professionals, and in my Reassess Your Success courses.

An app, no matter how cool it is, is still a tool–and the effect of using it on people is what we should really be focused on when it comes to evaluation and implementation…not to mention the actual usage of it.  That’s why it’s so important to view technology as a critical touchpoint for your team and your clients.

With this in mind I offer the following considerations to think through when it comes to your firm’s tech stack and how effective it is beyond a tactical workflow standpoint:

  1. Who is using the particular technology in question?
  2.  Is your intended app client-facing?  If so, what are clients seeing when they use your solution? How are they feeling about it?
  3. If the technology tool is for your team to use, what pain points are they facing? Do they need additional training to get maximum benefit? What are their thoughts on the software?

No matter who is using the technology in your tech stack, be sure to take the time and make the effort to understand what their user experience is like and then consider if the internal experience differs significantly from the external one (i.e. your team loves it and your clients don’t, or vice versa). If this is the case, then it’s definitely worth evaluating a different tool. And if no one is happy…then it’s definitely time to reassess your success with that particular application, in my opinion.

Here is an example of a tool we chose, and why it works so well for us.  We needed a way for clients to securely send documents and sensitive information to our firm.  But we ALSO needed the tool to create transparency for staff and a “single source of truth” for all documents, esignatures, messages and discussion threads, and tasks for the client, and for the firm.  We chose Liscio to fulfill this “job” in our tech lineup.  Clients love it, and my staff can move faster because we aren’t having to chase clients for overdue items, or search in endless email strings, or look in multiple places for documents they sent.  We also don’t get texts anymore which is a  HUGE bonus because we can actually have our personal cell phones back. 

The most important takeaway here, one that I hope you will take to heart is that tech is just the tool–but it has become a critical touch point for the people who drive your business forward. Namely your team and your clients, so open up that feedback loop and make changes as necessary to ensure it supports the exceptional client experience and workplace culture you want to have!  Then choose the right tools for each stakeholder to use.  You will create delight and productivity like never before!

This episode is sponsored by SmartVault. Learn more at https://www.smartvault.com/

Episode Notes

Ian’s Beginnings

Ian describes the time when he was the head of a company in the late ‘90s, but talks about how he was not as well versed in finance as he should have been. He went back to grad school, and recognized there was a need to develop a software that could power and integrate all the other applications everyone already uses. After he left Intuit, he realized there was a huge need for this kind of software in the accounting industry, and he sought out to develop what became Karbon.

He talks about how, back in the day, if accounting professionals wanted applications to integrate, they had to do it manually. He also saw that there was no easy way to view all the tasks each of your team members were working on. After seeing all these issues, he knew a dedicated software to manage all these integrations and tasks would help accounting professionals tremendously.

 

Karbon’s Solution for Communication

The driving force behind the development of Karbon was the need to implement better systems of communication within each firm. Ian says that one of the biggest pain points he saw in accounting firms was the lack of effective communication, not only within each accounting firm, but also between them and their clients. Ian says that Karbon strives to marry each form of communication so you can spend more time giving quality service to your clients, rather than spending hours figuring out what tasks need to be completed.

Karbon’s Passion for Integration

Dawn expresses her love for Karbon by praising its use of integration. Karbon integrates with many popular applications such as QuickBooks, Lisico, Ignition, and more! Ian says that Karbon is always striving to be at the forefront of technology, and is constantly moving forward to integrate with new applications that will solve pain points in many firms.

 

Want to learn more about Karbon? Learn more here!

 

Want to watch this episode? Click here!

Want to hear more episodes? Listen here!

 

Follow Dawn Brolin!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheDesignatedMotivator

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheDesignatedM1

Dawn’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/dawnbrolin

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dawnbrolin/

Subscribe to Dawn on Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCp1-…

Check our her Website – https://www.dawnbrolin.com/

 

Transcript

Dawn Brolin
Hi, I’m Dawn Brolin, CPA, Certified Fraud Examiner and the author of the Designated Motivator for Accounting Professionals. Today’s episode of the DM Disruption is brought to you by Smart Vault. My go to solution for secure, completely paperless document storage. Smart Vault was built with unique needs of accounting professionals with bank level security, completely customizable folder structures, plus native integrations with tax software, such as a cert and pro series, as well as popular practice management tools. It even has an integration with DocuSign right in the software for maximum efficiency. I’ve been using Smart Vault to keep my practice running paperless ly and profitably for more than 10 years. That’s why I consider them an MVP in my Team Brolin starting lineup, check them out and get a demo at SmarVault.com today.

All right, hey, everybody, and welcome to another episode of the DM Disruption. And we are here with the one and only Ian vaison. Which by the way, it’s impossible to get a hold of this guy, because he and Karbon are out there crushing it. I mean, crushing it to the point where the hype at Scaling New Heights was overwhelming about what Karbon is doing in the industry and for the pro advisor community for the tax community for this. And they weren’t even there. But I can tell you, they were there because they’re integrating with Liscio. And they’re integrating with SmartVault. They’re integrating with Lacerte, they’re doing such amazing things. And I’m honored because I’ve known Ian, when he was back at the Intuit days, right? And he just busted out of there and just went out and just went out swinging, and came in as a co founder of Karbon. And Ian is awesome. So Ian, thank you so much for spending some time with me. I know you got a little raspy voice, but like I said to you off off of camera. It’s hot. Okay, not that I’m saying that you and I are like whatever. But it’s a raspy voice is a hot voice. It just is what it is. So if you appreciate it, love it. So hello, Ian.

Ian Vacin
I’m super excited to be here, it won’t sound like it from the voice. And I can’t really express as loud as I want to go. But I’m gonna try my best. I appreciate that. Yeah, we are, we are trying our best. We’re we’re out there kicking some butt. And we’re hoping to kick a lot more. So I’m super thrilled to be on here. And I’m ready to tackle about motivation and a little bit about me a little bit about Karbon.

Dawn Brolin
I love it. That’s what we’re here for it. So we’ve since we do go way back. And I happen to know a little bit about eon. So knowing that you came, I just want I think the audience wants to hear your story. And I know a lot of people know you a lot. I know you from Intuit from the Intuit days, because you made a mark in now a lot of people have been at Intuit, they’ve done things, but you’ve left your mark at Intuit. And you left there and embrace this new concept of helping the accounting professionals in a different way than you were helping them before. So tell the story all about and we want to hear all about you.

Ian Vacin
So I’ll give you guys a little bit of history and why I ended up where I was I actually started a company or I’d taken over a company in the late 90s, which, you know, that was a very different era. And long story short, I basically I had a situation where I don’t think I was competent in the finances. And we just got caught really flat footed. And I had to lay off a lot of people and we shut the company down. So I went back to grad school, I thought, if I could figure out how to make the the financial products that power, whatever one works on, then I could really make a difference. And I could ultimately be able to do what I’m doing today successfully. So that’s why I chose to work at Intuit on my way out. Now, when I worked there, I didn’t understand the accounting channel, it didn’t exist back then. It wasn’t until Microsoft decided to come in that we really took notice. And that’s where I played a part of it. And ever since then I realized that the way that I can make an impact here positively and this is something we have a Karbon is if we can help the accountants out there, be able to do what they do, then we can influence so many small businesses by being supportive of the broader community. And that’s what that’s what my passion has been since then. So in Intuit, I worked in every version of QuickBooks worked a little bit on the Quickin side. Then I picked up the pro advisor program worked in the accounting division. And then fast forward. I’m now here at Karbon and we’re here trying to make lives easier everyday for all of you.

Dawn Brolin
Well, and so that’s really I mean, obviously, the accounting industry is a kind of a different breed of kind of people, right? There’s a there’s us crazy people. And then there’s the oh, we call it the traditional route of the, you know, suit and tie and everything like that which there’s nothing wrong with, there’s nothing wrong with either of them. But you know, you had an impact into it. And you had the ability to connect with pro advisors with accounting professionals like myself, and you did that. And so now in this, I’ll call it the new roll, or the bigger and better roll or whatever you want to call it, because you saw the need, and you understood the pain, and you didn’t necessarily see the best solution out there for us to be able to manage, you know, our workflow and how we are actually running our firms, right.

Ian Vacin
Yeah. So we, you know, the start of Karbon for me began when I was in the pro advisor program where there was all these different systems, but there was no way to really manage them well, and really be able to know what one person was doing versus somebody else was on the same team. And if you remember, back in the days, used to be if you wanted to had an integrated suite, you had to do all the work yourself, you had to maintain it all. And the technology just wasn’t there. But then my next role, I basically partook in buying an you know, one of these workflow solutions. And when it came in, and was so rigid, you couldn’t change it. And there was the lesson learned that the problem that we all have, as accounting firms and counting professionals is, you can guarantee what you want to do an engagement letter, but it just takes one email to change and up end how you’re gonna have to serve that person. And so when we started this company, we, you know, there’s the founding group of us and the first few employees, we actually spent time working in accounting, and we sat there and lived the we walked the walk. And we observed it with the hypotheses that we had at the time to really understand why is it so hard that even if we are in a situation where five of us were shoulder to shoulder, sitting in the same office, how come we don’t know whatever, right. And that was the birth of this particular company,

Dawn Brolin
You know, and I love that because I had worked, I was out, I worked…I was a partner in a firm years ago. And one of the things that I found really frustrating for me was that weekly meeting, okay, the weekly meeting kickoff the week, what’s everyone working on, you know, what has to be billed what hasn’t been collected, yet, we spent like Monday’s doing admin day, it felt like, and I didn’t know what they were working on. They didn’t know what I was working on, people made assumptions on who was working on what and it was just a discombobulated disaster, and a real waste of time. So as like a managing partner who wants to go see, okay, what Sally been working on what she’s sitting there, ready, what’s ready to start for her, you know, where she’s struggling or whatever, we couldn’t get that insight. And you’re right, you’d have to go, it’s like, okay, emails are over here. And then we’re pushing them into certain folders. So then when I go to work on John, I gotta go to his folder, and outlook and everything was just so disconnected. And that’s how we operated, right. And so and when, when carbon, tell me a little bit more about someone carbon first started, you understood, you went into these firms, and you looked at the workflow, or you watch what they were doing, and you’re like, there has to be a better way. And so what was like the main focus of that of that initial maybe five thoughts on what you were going to do?

Ian Vacin
Well, we weren’t building workflow, we, the first problem we had was communications was the problem. So we had to solve the communications issue in the fact that you may deal with somebody, but you don’t just deal with them as a, as a business, you have to deal with them as an individual, they may work for, they may have a charity that they have, they may have family members that you have to serve. And so the the multi representation of an individual, and how you’d have to serve them, combined with all the methods of communication, you need to work with them. And that, only then can you get enough of an understanding to actually be able to work with them. So we start off trying to marry communications and work together. And that’s really the two kinds of pieces of the pie that we had to do, we didn’t start from the traditional sense of, oh, we’re just going to build what the work and writing was, because the work engine would just be too rigid. You know, if you look at the heritage of things, we started off with a triage piece. Then we built tasks we just redid we just reinvented that literally last week with my a week, which was on the oldest pieces of the product. And then we start to do the workflow, the work engine, the scheduler, and then all the other pieces that go on top of it. So that’s kind of table stakes. And one of the things you brought up was one of the one of the travesties I think is going outside your lane. And for us it was understanding that communications and work at the center point of what we do, and there’s so many things that we have to interface with, which is why we never use the practice management tagline until literally within the last year because And even in that we’re a best of breed product. We’re not everything 100%. And we don’t plan to be.

Dawn Brolin
That’s, that’s the beauty of it. And at the end of the day, and I try to tell as, as I’m working with other practitioners on, they’re trying to figure out how to how to put this all together, what does this all look like? And it’s like, okay, so QuickBooks is meant to do accounting software, QuickBooks is not meant to be a client and practice management solution or, or a client communication tool. That’s not what it was built for. It’s built for accounting. And, but get the beauty of having the ability to integrate, which I think is really important. You know, the enter one time scenario I had, I just literally had a client in the office and, and he’s, he’s like, you know, I feel like I’m always having to do everything two or three times. And I’m like, That’s because you are, like, let’s just call it what it is, man, you are doing things two or three times, because you’re not looking at solutions that integrate in interface. So Karbon handling that, you know, client, you’ve got all the practices all working within that one spot. And then once you’re done with that, then you need to get that information into QuickBooks, and you just sync it, it’s just like, hello, is that mean? Why are you entering it in Karbon than entering it here and then entering it there? Same thing with…I mean, one of my favorite things, my favorite things is the Lacerte integration, right? And having the ability to not just think emails, like that’s what we think we think Karbon that’s going to manage our emails, it’s going to manage our work. And but we’re gonna have to manually do manually do all of that, well, no, you don’t have to manually do all that. As a matter of fact, you don’t even have to have Lacerte to open to look at the what the status is of a tax returns right within the work, which is where you should be living, right? With the timeline. And in the, you know, time management, the budgeting, and those kinds of things. And I do have to say, one of my favorite other favorite features, we could do Don’s favorite feature, conversation. But when I go in, and I have a we have a status called Tax ready to start, that means the tax return, we’ve got everything we need, it’s ready to go. And I go every morning, I pop in there, and I usually do a little bit of my scheduling through that too, to make sure I know what I gotta make sure get things done. But I love the budget, when you put in the amount that you’re charging them for the tax return, it’ll tell me if I finish all these returns, I’m going to 10 grand in my bank account, like it’s a simple insight, but how powerful to motivate which is what the DM Disruption is about, to motivate me to want to get the work done. Right? Yeah, it’s so exciting.

Ian Vacin
Yeah. And then as a team member, I might have 100 things, which the ones that really matter. Those are the ones we look at the budget, or maybe you’re gonna look at it from the importance of a client, maybe you’ve got that tagged in a certain way. I mean, that’s what you know, we spend a lot of our time focusing on the clients who shouldn’t deserve our time. And so it’s to help all provide that sort of clarity, so that the individual or the firm can make those determinations of where value should be spent.

Dawn Brolin
Yes, absolutely. And one of the great things that I tell people this is probably on every episode, because it’s it’s a fact it’s true. And it’s what we we as the practitioners have to watch for. So Karbon is a tool that is always improving I and I said this when I was at Scaling, I did a couple sessions. And I said, what you have to watch for is the application moving forward, because if they’re not, they’re moving backwards. So if you’re not seeing improvements in the product, or releases latest releases, that are coming through, like the multiple clear triage that just came out this morning, I believe, wonderful, Sara always is ended up in my in my little chat thing to tell me what’s going on. But we’re seeing Karbon at the forefront and the leader in this we call positions in Team Brolin Starting Lineup in the position of practice management, and workflow and tools associated with that. You are the leader 100% in this space without a doubt. And so I think that I advise people on what to choose for the different technologies, do they integrate? Are they looking for feeback? Will they will they accept feedback? You know, do they have a roadmap, and you’d be surprised at how many don’t, and they haven’t had a release for you know, a year or two? Like, that’s just not gonna work.

Ian Vacin
I think I think it just comes back to a little bit of how it just the personality of the company. So we take everything we invest about him and myself, Stewart, John, and the staff here at Karbn we’re not, we’re not happy with the fact of we always want to go faster. We always want to deliver more. We hear I see every piece of feedback that comes in everyone that goes into that help and feedback. I read every single one of them and so is the PM team. And we prioritize that. And if you don’t listen to your customers you did. Secondly, if you’re not investing every effort that you have to make everything better, you’re going to fall behind and we don’t want to be complacent. I appreciate that. You say that, you know, we’re doing well within the space. But that doesn’t matter to us. because I’m not looking at where my competitors are, I actually don’t care, I look at where we can be, and what we need to be to support all of you what you need to do. And, you know, frankly, we’re not a purple squirrel, we don’t have all the features in there, and we never will. But that doesn’t mean we can’t try to get them all in there. So I agree with you, you need to look at the case of things, I have been on the road with vendor over vendor over the last 20 years, and heard about what feature is going to come when it’s going to come and watch it never bite. And so I want to stay away from that. But we get asked a lot about our roadmap. So we’ll tell you what’s coming in next three months, because it’s in the queue, it’s being worked on. Outside of that, you know, there’s a bit of prioritization ups and downs. And so we generally don’t go beyond that, but I think it’s proof is in the pudding. And hopefully that comes out.

Dawn Brolin
There’s no doubt. Now let’s just talk about the acquisition of one of your one of your, your team members, because I gotta call everybody a team member, right? One of your team members who is well known in the industry and has a and I think that this speaks to like you were saying the character of the company, in and of itself, does it feel right in your gut? Like, does it do you feel like they have the right mission in place, so they really have the right people in mind. And so for you to acquire Andi Ancheta, who is one of the most amazing people that I have ever met. So knowing that you’re, you’re stacking your staff, you’re stacking your key components of your company, and you chose Andi. Right. And so you guys worked a lot into it together. And it just, it just happened, right. And I think that’s another piece is if you remember, and you know, you do that the days of the tea sheets, right? Where, you know, Jen Hetherington, Kelly, and Kelsey Medal. And of course, Matt, but it was it was those girls, those ladies who put the fire and passion into what t-sheets meant to them, and how the culture of t-sheets behaved and portrayed in there, when they come to conferences and things like that, and you couldn’t help it, you couldn’t help but be drawn to that fire. And I feel like Karbon has that same profile of professional positive people who are just out there trying to make it happen. And so it has to be part of what your culture is. So tell us a little bit about like Karbon’s culture, you know, what is what are you guys standing for, and, and people like Andy Anchetta, you, you can’t deny how awesome she is.

Ian Vacin
So we’re very particular on who we hire, especially over that last, you know, these last seven years or eight years now that we’ve been doing this. And, you know, a couple of the things are, you know, we’re very intentional, and very pragmatic. And from a culture standpoint, we persevere. And there’s resilience within that. And so for instance, Andy, I’ve known for a long time. And I think for a lot of folks listening into this, there’s a lot of people that you know, and you respect, and you can go down the list. But the list isn’t that long, unfortunately. And the good people are, they’re amazing. So for Andy, and again, in the history that I’ve, I’ve been doing this in the professional industry. There’s a group of folks that we all recognize and appreciate. And so Andy was, the person who I, I’ve chatted with, probably once a month, every two months, we’ve always been in touch. And it was always a situation where if you ever want to come if you ever want to go someplace, just call me up and tell me what you want. And, and Andy is fantastic. We’ve got a lot of other folks that we brought on this team that are amazing. But what we don’t do is we don’t fall into the fallacy of hiring people who have been in the vendor community for a long duration of time, that haven’t been able to be recognized by the industry, by all of you, the folks that the practitioners that do all the hard work, because we don’t really want to have that within our in sort of our sort of corporate culture. So we taught we typically a lot of times I’ll hire folks who are not within this, but have a high level of customer really, have a high level of thinking about how to do problems differently. Because we need to be able to reinvent what’s being done without falling into the traps of well, this is what the last guy did. And last company, we should just do that. We don’t do that’s why I said it’s intentional and pragmatic. When we deliver functionality we’re not just checking off a box we really understand why that was a pain point. And how they interweaves with everything else not just within the carbon landscape but within the products that everyone uses. And so it’s a hard recipe to deliver on but again that’s what you know to get those right folks to come in. You got it you got to have a bit of magic a lot of luck and hopefully there’s appreciation what we’re trying.

Dawn Brolin
Yeah, no doubt and and with saying that so going from your stat… I have to I just have to name drop Andy like I just can’t help it.

Ian Vacin
Andy’s amazing! I mean, she is the heart and soul of what we have on our customer team, which I get to be a part of.

Dawn Brolin
She’s just, she’s just always had a soft spot in my heart because she’s the reason I believe that I ever got on the Intuit Accountant Council. She was my interviewer. And I just like, I’ll never be able to thank her for the opportunity that she helped me achieve with that. And it’s really, the beginning of my story of accounting really was was with that first experience with Intuit, which was awesome. But so now if we shift a little bit, let’s talk about integrations for a hot second, like you said, I mean, things are built apps are built for a certain purpose. And then when you realize that, oh, well, you know what, maybe we can all play in the same sandbox, which is the way I put it, it’s like apps that integrate, understand where their lane is, and they understand how they can help the team. If we’re thinking about Talladega Nights, right, shake and bake, we got the car coming up from behind, so that somebody else can be the winner of the race, you know, and unfortunately, you know, shake and bake, it’s all good. Magic Man, you know, came from that as well. So you’re you guys are forward thinking and you’re also evaluating pretty critically who you want to play with, right?

Ian Vacin
That’s true. We don’t and we don’t usually go down to the traditional the traditional route is if I want to go integrate with somebody and I’ve got more strength and in the relationship, then I’m going to extract rents, or I’m going to take a little bit off the top, from another vendor. We don’t play by these rules. Whenever we work with somebody, it’s mutually aligned incentives. And for most people that we integrate with, there’s uncomfortable overlap. And the reason why that’s a good thing is two systems can’t integrate together if there’s not a common area by which they have they transfer, data workflow, or whatever it might be. And so a good a good analogy is you start off with QuickBooks, right? Well remember that Karbon is not where you do the work. It’s how you do the work. So we’re a springboard for all these other places to do the work. And finances overlap. When you get to things like time and budgets, you get to again, what work you’re actually pursuing. And so QuickBooks, there’s QuickBooks Online accountant, right, right, is it? It does a little bit of a we do, but that’s great, because it’s a starting point for folks who can’t understand what you want to do. But then you need something more professional. Great. That’s what we’re here for. You talked about Liscio, right with Liscio is fantastic. Chris is a great guy, Chris is in the same sort of mantra, you know, we have overlap. People ask us all the time, well, if he’s client, you know, basically client facing client management 2.0. and you guys have client features, then how does that work? Well, we’re they took it as a place that we’re not going to take it, we’re not going to go to that mobile first only, you know, dealing with text messages and all the other things, but we overlap on our contacts, we overlap in those vehicles. And that’s what makes it work. And they did a fantastic job of making those pieces integrate. You talked about SmartVault, that was another one and and your group, right? Well, we do talk in management as well, because we intercept every communication. And we have to do that in order to context of work. But we’re not a document management system, we never wrote. And so the key is, is we’re a short term data store, to ship all those documents to the proper vendor, they’re the professionals. And so that’s where that integration really matters. And when you think you can do everything for everybody, or you decide that you’re going to try to bite off more of that puzzle, that’s when you end up flailing.

Dawn Brolin
And, and that’s a natural, that’s a natural movement over to the Lacerte conversation, right. So having Lacerte be able to tell how to work, which is Karbon, how do I get the work done, ie tasks within the work, which is the whole customization of that is phenomenal. And we what I what I pride us on here powerful accounting is we’re constantly looking at our workflow and our task list and how are we establishing that so it makes sense that there’s not a lot of disruption, although this is the DM Disruption, we still don’t want disruption in our workflow if at all possible. And and being able to customize and recover it and make it work forward is awesome. But you’re right. It’s like when when someone sends a document, whether it be via fax, because this blog type will get a fax notification from us by fax comes through, and we attach it to a work that communication is attached to a work when we go to do the work. It’s telling us how and you’re right, those documents are right there to grab. But they’re also there to download and stick in what we call our permanent document storage, which is SmartVault. And so I think that, that you’re right, you’ve got to try to figure out for you how all that works best. And we just implemented Liscio. So we’ve been using it for a couple months. Now. Our clients are like, oh my goodness, this is so easy to use. But Licio isn’t how I’m going to do the work. It’s just me being able to communicate with the client, so that I can say, hey, I need this document, I need a password and it’s secure the communication secure, and they don’t have my cell phone number. Thank you very much. Right. And so that’s where I know Lisico fits into my playing field where Karbon is going to tell me how I’m going to get all of it done. And when and how we had a meeting this morning we agreed Staff meeting this morning. We’re like, Okay, we got November and December to get books ready for 1099’s things like that we don’t do a ton of bookkeeping, but we do enough that we’ve got to manage it. And so in Karbon we went through and it’s like, we revisit it, when we see there’s something we’re maybe not and it’s not Karbon, it’s, it’s powerful Accounting has control over carbon, which, which gets in the way, our control gets in the way, because Karbon is meant to do things in a certain way. So I just find that you know, with the staff, it’s just so easy to be able to see everyone’s communication, when with the work when you’re going to figure out how to get it done. And that’s what we love about it. But the Lacerte piece, tell us what stem that like, I know that there’s Intuit practice management, or you know, that’s really kind of geared with carbon. Tell us about that relationship?

Ian Vacin
Yeah, so I mean, obviously, if you’ve got long roots into it for myself, and Andy and others, right? Well, one of the biggest things on tax was, you know, there’s just a lot of volume. And with the volume, you really need to have a very, very good process to be able to get through that seasonality. And from the Intuit side, you know, they just haven’t had a product that’s able to fit within that gap. And when, when they were looking around for who to partner with, and I’m sure they looked at the entire set of folks, you know, they also saw where we were headed in the focus that we had, we have no intentions of ever building, we never would, I mean, but what we do is we help make tax understandable and easy. And again, where the book ends on that main process, we are, we are there to help get the engagement going, we’re there to make sure all the pieces come together for talking about a business tax return. And then we’re there to be able to put that in place and allow for you to use the product of a Lacerte, and then monitor where the statuses are. So you’ll see it become more and more intertangled, where again, we can do the pro form rollover, you can create the return on the fly, you can see the statuses as it goes through, and it ultimately gets finished at the end. And then we’re monitoring the statuses for return statuses, e filing and so forth. Now you add that in with the other integrations that are currently underway, with document management and things of that nature. And it just gets a lot more sexy, right? But he is is we’re there to help book in where they’re at helped give visibility across the peers scale of you know, if you’re a firm of four or five people, you probably do in five hundred returns, it’s a lot of returns. And by the way, if you’re not a cabin, close eye on it, it’s going to be this wall, this mountain that’s going to hit you as you hit March and April. So you need to flatten the curve, but you need to pull the work in you need to systems and pursue it, chase down the clients and then help bring that seasonality curve under control. And that’s where we fit well.

Dawn Brolin
I love it’s not just how I’m going to do the work, but who’s going to do the work. And I think that you know the ability to assign a task within a work. So for instance, a great workflow that we go through is the engagement letters go out, Tracy’s in charge engagement letters, she gets the organizers, she does the payment making sure we have payment information, I do the quoting. So in every single work, we have the same process for every client assigned to the right people. Because we found that when I started getting involved in the organizers and doing that stuff, Tracy’s like, please stay away from it. You are not good at it. Like this is not your wheelhouse. Let me be in control. And it’s crystal clear to anybody like where are we in this work at this point? Oh, I go, I pop in maybe client has called me or something. And I’m like, John, you didn’t get treated the client organizer. You’re not even in line yet, buddy. Like, so you’re able to really at a click of a button to see where does this guy stand? Because he’s calling me and say where’s my tax return? I need it. Well, you haven’t even started with step one yet. Don’t skip over Tracy’s process because she let you through the line, man, right?

Ian Vacin
Yeah, well, it comes down to I stay in my lane, you got to stay in your lane, right? So it’s understanding what everyone’s lane is and supporting that. So yeah, you’re the least efficient person to be at the front of that process. And it’s the most expensive person, you don’t want that. So you want to be able to have that separation of duties, being able to the roles. Just because there’s a title doesn’t mean anyone’s more important. It just means when we’re on a conveyor belt, because that’s where I come. I’m an industrial engineer, by trade, that’s what I know. And that’s what this is about, which is you’re putting the right people on the right spots, to be able to create the most efficient end result for everybody involved, which is including the client. And so when you’re able to do that, then you have a magical moment, then you have peace of mind, then you have high returns in terms of gross margins. And literally you can you can do as much as you can with the staff you have and whether you want to where you want to go from there. It’s up to you as the owner or the firm/

Dawn Brolin
Yeah. Well, I you know, so just to so just to kind of wrap it up we’d like to keep it within 25 minutes people get bored with us although you and I think a pretty freakin awesome I think people will want to listen for forever. But are there any like, do you want to tell us any roadmap things that maybe are not not NDA type of stuff, but some things that maybe people have to look forward to here in the next few months?

Ian Vacin
Well, we’re pretty transparent on your site, and you can see where the road is going forward. You know, because we’re not really worried about, you know, if we can inspire our competitors to fall, sure, it’s just going to make everyone successful. Big, big thing coming up at the end of the turn of the year is file management integration. And so that allows for all the documents to flow to your document management store crossings. Calendar is the biggest one that has been on the roadmap and the requests list for ages. And that is currently in development speak. So that creates the magical moment of oh, I’ve got all my communications, now I got my calendar. And I can do time box, and I can see my colleagues and what they’re working on, those folks will actually move next year into what we call team capacity planning, which is pretty darn cool, which is, I can see what I’m doing in the next month or so I can move everything around. We have a new component, which is really on our client requests, just making that a little bit tighter, big thing that I’m super excited about, which you’ll see next year, is our industry cloud concept. And this allows for you to have all the reporting capabilities you could ever dream of, by bringing in all the data stores that you want. And I’m giving you the flexibility of how you want to report on Google, we get criticized a lot people go like Where’s all your reporting, we do work view. And the only thing the problem is like if I create a canned view for somebody, or I create this report, it’s gonna work for like four people. And the other 500 would be like, that’s not working for me. So the idea there is give me what you want, like you know the panacea to play with it, give you some guardrails, and then let you do what you want to do. So that’s a really big, and then integrations is the mantra of next year. So you will see this become fully integrated with all the different tools that you’re looking for. So it’s really on, on, you know, unraveling what we do. And there’s another sneak surprise. And I think that’s, that’s it.

Dawn Brolin
Well, I can tell you right now, the scheduling, I’m super pumped about everything, we’ll be able to see what other people are doing. And we had that meeting this morning and said, Listen, okay, we’ve got the work all figured out. That’s all good. Everything’s all tight. We’re good. Everybody’s satisfied. Okay, cool. Now we can make it recurring, because we got the templates the way we want it. And then it’s like, okay, now go to Outlook. So now you’re gonna go outside of Carbon, and you’re gonna go put in your calendar, when you’re gonna work on these certain things, right? It’s just, it needs to be better than that. So we’re definitely excited about seeing that feature come out, internally here powerful accounting. But I would just be an your like, I don’t know, you’re like a brother to me, man. And I’m just so glad that you I was able to, I know how busy you are. And I really respect your time, and I appreciate you, and what Karbon is doing to help firms across the across the world, you know, get it together, and become, you know, a better more powerful firm, which is what we need to do. So any last words?

Ian Vacin
No, I appreciate the kind words just so you know, we’re here to serve all of you, and you guys do the hard job. We’re here in the background. And hopefully, you know, I think the thing that I would appreciate is, give us your feedback. Whether you use us or not, that’s up to you. But you know, you need to you need to really push your vendors push those that are in your ecosystem to help you out every day. Push them to do more for you. Because I think that’s that’s the kind of the situation we’re in that we need to have better. suppliers, for lack of better words, we have better partner. Because right now, you know, it’s a hard hard job out there for small businesses and accountants are the heroes. So anything we can do to push you further to be a hero. That just makes everybody win. So I’m super blessed to be on here. I’m not that busy. Don, I’m all I’m always got time for you. And I really appreciate you being nice enough to share the love.

Dawn Brolin
We love you guys. And like I say, my whole goal is to get the starting lineup to play in the same sandbox together. Because the better we are. And it’s I know it’s corny, but they say better together. It’s the truth. It just says we can all be pushing each other. Because the more we push each other, the better we all become at the end of the day. It’s not just about Dawn Brolin, it’s not just about Karbon. It’s about all of us working together to have a better experience in our profession. And so that’s been awesome. But thank you everybody, for listening. It’s been a great episode with Ian Vacin, co founder of Karbon, just an amazing person, and I’m honored to be caught to call him a friend. So thanks, everybody for listening and we’ll get back to you next time on the DM Disruption. Thank you so much.

 

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Summary

Katie Thomas, CPA and Founder of Leaders Online, joins Dawn to talk about her motivations, how to find work life balance, why your firm needs to have an online presence, and more! Listen now to learn how your accounting skills can benefit you in other aspects of your career, and how you can achieve both personal and professional success!

Show Notes

Katie’s Beginnings

Katie begins her conversation with Dawn by sharing her background in accounting, and shares her experience as a CPA and a public accountant. She shares that although she doesn’t practice accounting now, the skills she gained as an accountant have been invaluable to her.

“I didn’t realize that, with an accounting degree, you could really do a lot…those skills are really transferable and they also give you a lot of credibility.”

Katie started her career in accounting at Ernst & Young, but quickly learned she wasn’t finding the fulfillment she was looking for. She knew she had a love for marketing, and was hoping she could pursue that at EY, but unfortunately was not offered the position.

It wasn’t until she experienced a health scare where she really began to reevaluate what she wanted her career path to look like.

Katie also encourages listeners to take that leap of faith if they want to make that career adjustment or change, adding that there is no “right time” to make one.

“And then I realized that there’s no, really, ‘signal’. It’s like, it’s got to be up to you.”

Katie’s Motivation and Developing Leaders Online

Katie eventually left EY, and pursued a career in marketing—specifically in the accounting/business industry. She also shared that shortly after she quit EY, her husband ended up needing a major surgery, and that served as a huge motivation to get her business off the ground. 

Katie also shares that she’s always had a passion for marketing. She even helped market her father’s business when she was just 16 years old, and talks about how that experience helped bolster the trajectory of her business. 

While she loves the accounting industry, she did not find joy in tax returns and bookkeeping, but knew there was a market for the services she could provide to practitioners, which ultimately led to the creation of Leaders Online.

Why Your Firm Need to Get Online

Katie’s business, Leaders Online, is a marketing and consulting service that can help businesses increase their online presence. She can help with developmenting a social media presence, creating a new website, branding, and much more. 

Katie says she often finds that accounting firms are hesitant to share their achievements online, and prefer to rely on references to gain new clients. The problem with only relying on references is that your pool of clients can remain quite small. By putting yourself and your firm online, you are able to reach a wide range of clients, and you are able to choose exactly who you want to work with. Even if your firm is not looking for new clients, putting your firm online can even attract new staff who may want to work for your business.

Importance of Work Life Balance

While it is important to find joy in the work you do, Dawn and Katie both agree that it’s important to have goals outside of your work life.

Dawn shares that even though softball season is during tax season, she always makes time for it because it gives her something to look forward to, and ensures that her work hours are productive.

Katie agrees, and shares that she started scheduling horseback riding lessons, and that it’s important to find other activities that you can define yourself by, rather than just your career.

 

Want to connect with Katie Thomas? Find her here!

www.Leaders-Online.com 

 

Want to listen to this episode? Click here!

Want to hear more episodes? Listen here!

 

Find Dawn Brolin’s Latest Book, The Designated Motivator for Accounting Professionals, on Amazon!

 

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Subscribe to Dawn on Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCp1-…

Check our her Website – https://www.dawnbrolin.com/

 

Transcript

Dawn Brolin – Liscio Ad

Hi everyone, my name is Dawn Brolin, I’m a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Fraud Examiner, a president of Powerful Accounting, Inc, and the author of the Designated Motivator for Accounting Professionals.

I’m here today to talk to you about one of my favorite new application implementations. And that’s with Liscio. We were finding that we were chasing clients and wasting a lot of administrative time chasing them for documents, for information for answers to questions as we’re going through tax season. And we found that we really could be working a lot less hours if we could solve for that pain point. So we found Liscio. And because of implementing Liscio, we were able to save hours of time every single week chasing clients. Not only was it the time that we were spending, but it was the frustration of trying to get in touch with them. And for them to securely send us documents and information so we could prepare their tax return in a timely fashion.

No more picking up and putting down tax returns, because we don’t have everything we need. What I love is that it’s one central place for us that all of us in our firm can see all of the communications, whether it’s via text, or email, or a document that we’re looking for anyone in the firm can go grab that document or that communication, and know exactly what’s going on with that client at all times. What’s even better about it is that it does integrate with our project management and workflow solution, as well as our accounting software. So we’re entering contact information for our clients in one place and pushing it out to other solutions that we use. And I find that application integration is critical. But being able to save us that time, so that I can be on the ball field coaching in the spring, or whatever else it may be being with my kids, whatever it may be. But we found that we were being so unproductive, doing that administrative chasing that we were just like it’s not the clients fault, it’s our fault, we have to offer them a solution that’s going to work for them. And what we found was as we were implementing Liscio, with our clients, the best feedback we would get in this was almost every single client was wow, that was easy. And that’s what we need it to be in order for our clients really get us what we need. And it’s got to be secure. We need cloud to cloud secure document exchange and secure communications. We no longer give out our personal cell phones, which is awesome. I don’t want to hear from a client midnight. If I happen to hear from them through my Liscio app, then that’s cool. Maybe I respond, maybe I don’t, but it gives me that flexibility and that time of peace and quiet when I’m not in the office. So I’m telling you go out, get yourself a demo of Liscio, implement it for your business you have a successful upcoming 2021, 2022, 2023 and beyond tax season. Thank you so much for listening. And I wish you the best as you move forward.

 

Dawn Brolin

Alright, everybody, hello, and welcome back to the DM Disruption. My name is Dawn Brolin, and of course your host and I’m here with somebody that I just met really like a handful of months ago through you know, the electronic world, we’ll call it. But I was Katie Thomas here now it is…lifetime online co– help me,

 

Katie Thomas  

Leaders Online.

 

Dawn Brolin  

Leaders Online! I’m such an idiot. But really Katie has one of the sweetest souls of people you know, you know, you come across people in your life and you’re like, is she really there’s no way she’s this sweet and nice, but yet she is! And she’s intelligent. She’s got motivation. She’s got drive, her story is so awesome. I’m excited to share that with you. So, Katie, thank you so much for coming today. I mean, you’re out there changing the lives of accounting professionals, and we want to hear all about it. So tell us who you are, what you’re doing, why you started what– your story is so great! And tell us just about yourself.

 

Katie Thomas  

Well, thanks so much for having me on done. I’m super excited to be here. And I’m a CPA, an accountant like a lot of people who tune in, so I can relate to a lot of what you guys are going through, have gone through with school, and if you are a CPA and took the exam, I feel you but I took a little bit of a different path, once I had worked in public accounting for a little bit. So this is an interesting part of my story because I didn’t realize that with an accounting degree that you could really do a lot and that just the foundation of those skills are really transferable and they also give you a lot of credibility. So that’s something I want, like all accountants to know is like, there’s so many options for me. I do marketing and public relations. But you can go into technology, you can go into consulting, you can go literally into anything. And if you have a background in this industry, people automatically–they want to hear from you because you understand businesses.

 

Dawn Brolin  

Right? Absolutely. And so being a CPA yourself, I’ve always said, I try to tell this to like the application providers and the different companies of vendors that we work with that listen, honestly, I’m going to listen to Katie, before, I’m going to listen to maybe one of your salespeople, or one of the people that are in your marketing department. Because I trust Katie knows where I stand. She understands she’s been through the CPA exam, which is one in and of itself. I was watching on social media this weekend. And a young man had you know, passed the CPA and I was just…it brings you right back to when, if you remember, Katie, I don’t know about you, but I don’t even know how I passed this thing. Right? And so the last exam comes through and you’re like, Oh, my goodness, if I pass this I’m in. I’ve done it, right? And you’re, you don’t want to push that button. Right? It’s terrifying.

 

Katie Thomas  

Oh, it is. Every time you feel like you failed, at least I did. And then you’re like, okay, yes, I passed.

 

Dawn Brolin  

I will tell you okay, this so funny, because you’re just a little itty bitty baby. I mean, in very respectfully, by the way, your experience and what you do, but compared to this old lady, you’re just just, you’re just, you’re just a beautiful young lady. Anyway, I don’t know about you. But when I got my first result, my first exam, I got a 75. And I was like, 75 is passing, I swear, I printed 100 copies of it. I’m like, they can’t take it away from me print print print, like I was freaking out! Like, there’s no way they could take this away from me. And, you know, being able to encourage other accounting professionals as they’re going through that journey, because that journey, and I don’t know about you, when I when I took the exam, which wasn’t really that long ago, honestly, I think I think it was 2012 when I finished up. And so it was later for me, right? So I didn’t do it when I was young. And I just remember that process, it was a two year process, and every weekend, my husband would take the kids somewhere and either take him to his brothers, or they would go hiking, or they go to the playground, so Mommy could study. Right? And that was my big thing. So but to the encouragement now, there’s the social media areas with either whether it’s Facebook, or LinkedIn, or Twitter or whatever it may be where there’s these groups that encourage each other, right?

 

Katie Thomas  

Yep. Yep. Lots of encouragement and collaboration and just basically a community.

 

Dawn Brolin  

Yeah, it really is. And we need each other support. And so I remember I read through your story, which I think is fascinating, by the way. And I love the fact that you felt like you were kind of in a corner on your, I want you to tell us the story because it just shows the the true result of being motivated. And whether it’s a negative motivation, or positive motivation, or whatever it may be, or just this, I love that you have a dad like I have, I had a dad that passed away. But his inspiration, his work ethic that laid the path for where I knew I needed to go professionally. So I want you to tell that story, because it really is inspirational, and it’s motivational, and so tell us about that story, because I really enjoyed reading it.

 

Katie Thomas  

So I was–I had just gotten married at this time, and I was working at one of the big four firms. And for me, I always knew I wanted to go out and do something in like, the more creative space. So I did marketing for–it actually my father’s small business growing up–from time I was 16–I was working with them, and really helped them all up until I started at EY. And so I was super familiar with that space, and I loved it. But then I got into accounting because people said that’s the Language of Business, and long story short, I was at EY, I had just gotten married, and I came down with this weird sickness that I was in the hospital for nine days, the doctors were telling me that my heart could stop at any minute. I mean, I was perfectly healthy. And then all of a sudden I wasn’t and people are, you know, doctors are like, we don’t know, really what’s wrong with you. And when I got out of that, I really realize that, whatever you want to do, there’s never going to be a time. So I remember I would sit at EY, and I was like, I know, I’m being called for something else, like I feel it in me. But you know, am I too young? Am I smart enough? Is anyone going to take me seriously, I have a good job. And so I was just kind of like waiting for a signal. And then I realized that there’s no really signal. It’s like it’s got to be up to you. And so I was like, Okay, I went back to EY and I went to one of the partners and I was like, you know, I love doing business, business development. I love doing marketing like, is there a role in this company for me? And they basically said, “Hey, no, like you’ve got to be you know, a lot further up in the company.” And I totally respect that, so I said, okay. I see this with accountants, like, I know accounting, I know like what we do, maybe there’s a spot for me in the accounting industry doing this. And so I left. And I thought, okay, we’ve overcome one challenge. Well, just a few short weeks later, not even a month, my husband found out he was going to have to get a 13 disk spinal fusion, going to be off work for many months, the foreseeable future, and we’d have to go to New York for this. And so it was a crazy time, but it was, so it was exactly, I sometimes I feel like things just happen for a reason. And this one, it was like, Okay, you made this decision to go out on your own. Now you have an even bigger motivating factor, because your husband’s not going to have that second job of income, you’ve got to produce and provide for yourself and your husband, and we’re gonna find a way to make this work. And sometimes when your back’s up against the wall, that’s when you’re like, it’s go time, I’ve got this, I’m going to find a way. And so that was like, for me, that was like my motivation success story, and here we are today.

 

Dawn Brolin  

I love that. And so I and I truly believe that. And so, I think I totally believe things happen for a reason 100%, you close one window, and another one opens, a door doesn’t matter, right? And that’s kind of how we’re, I think a lot of it too. Like, I love the fact that your your dad has his own business. And, you know, you were in the weeds of that when you were 16, which I feel like, you know, I’ve been in business when my kids have seen you know that what that work ethic takes, because it’s one thing, I just I do this as my total opinion. And you could tell me, people could tell me, I’m nuts, which I kind of am. But to say that, you know, when you work for yourself, and you’ve done accomplish something like passing the CPA exam, I believe the CPA exam is part of what prepares you for the future for success in a profession, even if you don’t follow through and do traditional CPA work, right technical work. But that does the discipline, and the commitment, and you know, just that 18 months, or however long it takes people, some people takes less, it took me the exact I mean to the day 18 months, which because I’m a risk taker, apparently. And so but you know, you’ve learned that discipline, through that process, it gives you that ability, like you said, you had no choice girl, you were gonna bust out, and it was there was your backs against the wall. And guess what, you either have two choices, you can give up, cry about it and stay miserable at EY. Or you could bust out and say, you know what? I’m going to fall down, I already know it get a bunch of band aids and a bunch of bags of ice, because you’re gonna fall in your face, you’re gonna get beat up, you’re going to doubt yourself. And that’s what the CPA exam to me, that’s what it did. It prepared me to understand I failed one part right? Out of the four I failed when I had to take it again.

 

Katie Thomas  

That’s good!

 

Dawn Brolin  

Right? It’s not, there’s nothing wrong with that. And so where you are right now, you’re advising and consulting and working with accounting professionals, you have a book club, as a matter of fact, and other things. So tell me like, what’s, what are your clients telling you? What are you seeing in the profession? Like what is our biggest need? What are people screaming for?

 

Katie Thomas  

So it’s interesting, because as accountants, we’re really competent, and what we do, and how we help businesses, and our our set of skill set. But whenever you’re, you take the a lot of these accountants and I’m speaking generally not for everyone, not like you, Dawn, if you ask them to start sharing about that online and putting yourself out there and talking about some of their accomplishments, how great and awesome they are taking some of those skills and just putting them out to the public, they clam up. They’re not confident in it. And the thing with this is, they’re really, one, they’re not attracting as many like clients for their firm or some a lot of firms actually, you know, they’re like, “We don’t need any more clients right now, after COVID, we’re busy”, but they want new staff, well, they’re not putting their self out there and their brand out there, so then they’re not attracting that talent that they really could be. And it’s, it’s so cool to witness someone that is so awesome, and they’re lacking this confidence to really put themselves out there and help them do that, and then what comes from it, like more clients, more staff, maybe it’s they get an award like Top 100 Accountant or 40 under 40. It’s it’s really cool what comes from that and it’s not, they’re not conceited, they’re not bragging, it’s just creating a brand and a voice which they have. They just need to expand that and make it louder, put it on the microphone.

 

Dawn Brolin  

Yeah, and that’s such a good point too, because people will say to me, “Well, how do I get this type of work?” I want it you know, in in the in the new book, that Designated Motivator for Accounting Professionals, we do this reassess your success conversation to say, listen, are you even servicing the right clients? Are you actually performing services that you love? Or are you just doing it because it feels, you know, fills the payroll bucket when you need to pay payroll. And I found and I try to tell people listen, you’ve got to find something you love, because you’re going to work for a long time. And you you at least, and you may not, you know, I started out doing bookkeeping, you know, I didn’t go to EY or to a bigger firm, that just wasn’t the route, I stayed fairly in the smaller firm size. And then I love you know, kind of love them, like, Oh, I’m really good at this. I feel like I’m really good at it. And then I was like, I feel like there’s so much more I can be doing. And then I kind of shifted to tax and now tax resolution, a lot of that’s because of Eric Green. I hope you’ve heard there.

 

Katie Thomas  

Yeah, of course!

 

Dawn Brolin  

Eric is…Eric has steered me in a direction that I can’t be more thankful for. I kind of feel like if I had him, when I just graduated college, my life would have been very different. Not that I would change anything, because I wouldn’t, but he really helped me steer in this direction of passion of motivation, what I want to do to help people. And so I think that you’re right, like, be loud and proud. And you know, you don’t have to be like, it’s not even about being cocky. It’s about being knowledgeable and sharing that knowledge with other people who need to hear that knowledge. And when you do that, you make that loud voice, people are gonna go, oh, I need somebody for a QuickBooks data cleanup. Oh, I know who that is. Because I see them on social all the time, or somebody to do you know, employee retention, credit calculation, right, or r&d, or whatever. When you make yourself known that that’s what you do, you will get you will get referrals, and you will get clients that you’re looking for, right? And I’m sure you’ve seen that with people, right? They’re there. Are they servicing clients? They maybe maybe shouldn’t? And are you having those conversations with? With your people?

 

Katie Thomas  

Yeah, it comes up a lot, because a lot of times they are not currently serving exactly who they want. Or maybe they’ve made that transition, but they still have, you know, a handful of clients over here that they’re like, I need to replace that revenue. And it’s like, okay, but if no one knows you, then you are just relying on your existing clients to pass along the referral. Whereas if you have an online perception and brand and people know you maybe those people seeing you all the time, those aren’t your clients, but it’s like, “Hey, my friend over here, who has a similar business is looking for this. Have you seen Dawn online, she clearly knows what she’s talking about. Like you should check her out.”

 

Dawn Brolin  

Right? Yeah. And I think as you would probably can testify to this, too, there’s, there’s enough work for everybody. I kind of every once in a while I giggle I’m like, trying to remember the last time I went into my office, and I sat down in my chair, and I said, Boy, I just don’t really have anything to do today. Like, I kind of, I kind of have that as a goal personally, is to be able to like work myself out of work, which is what I try to tell my clients, listen, I don’t want to be on your dime, 24/7 I want to get in, I want to do really good work for you, give you great advice, and help you move your business forward. But at the same time, you know what? I someday would love to catch up. I would like every November and December, that’s my goal, right is to catch up on my work. So I can maybe take a couple weeks off, imagine. And so so with that shifting a little bit to helping people that you’re working with these these CPA firms, CPA owners, a firm owners and things like that, that’s your primary people in the firm owners that you’re talking to?

 

Katie Thomas  

Yeah.

 

Dawn Brolin  

And so to help them understand that, you know, there can be work life balance, and people throw “work life balance” around. Now, there’s never, I mean, I just don’t see us on a teeter totter words ever even. I think that we have tax season. And we’re doing a lot of that. But I also find like for myself, and you read the first book the Designated Motivator, taking the step, a leap of faith to say, “You know what? Yeah, I know softball is during tax season.” And so what is that? Is that the end of the line for me, because I’m a tax preparer, and I can ever be involved in something like that, right? So for me, it’s it’s not equal. I don’t not at softball the equal amount of time I’m working, but it gives me that ability to have a clear mind. And I think it’s really helped me focus better. And so are you finding your practitioners, the firm owners that you’re working with that they really struggle with that with being able to do something they love to do outside of the office?

 

Katie Thomas  

Oh, yeah. I mean, I think that for a lot of us, too, just the personality of our profession. Again, I’m generalizing here, but we’re very motivated, very dedicated to what we do, and to our clients and our, our team members, that it’s a challenge for us. Um, and I think though, for a lot of people, it’s like, it takes something significant to pull them out. For example, I know one firm owner I work with, she realized that her son was graduating this year and she was like, “Oh, my gosh, like, I’ve been working his whole, you know, high school” and so she way pulled back I was just like, I don’t know why this just hit me. So I think it’s really cool like you telling that story that you know, you took on coaching the softball team and stuff. And it wasn’t like that was something you know you had to do, but it kind of it was a moment to like, pull you back and make you realize, like, okay, I can do this. And I can rearrange my schedule, or sometimes I think, too, when you put something like that on your schedule, at least I’ve just found personally, it’s like you, you make it work like time just expands how it needs to expand. And that’s not to say you can only work one hour a day versus like, you can kind of give yourself deadlines and speed things up or move things around to just make it all work.

 

Dawn Brolin  

Yeah. And I think too like, for me that it’s one of my examples is okay, I know I have practice at 3, and I don’t want to miss practice. So I know I have to shut my email off and shut my phone off, and I need to focus on these five tax returns, however many it is, in order for my reward to go to practice. Now, if I don’t hit the goal that I know after practice, I’m coming back to the office because my my goal for the day was these five tax returns. And so when you set in, you’re right, that it’s that that sense of urgency, where if you have listen, I can fill a 14 hour day with work, no problem. But how productive am I really being?

 

Katie Thomas  

Yes!

 

Dawn Brolin  

Because I have this big expansion of time, right?

 

Katie Thomas  

Exactly. And I know I do the same thing, even though I’m not doing tax returns now. I, I’ve always been into horseback riding and I kind of especially when I started my business, like, let that not be as much of a priority. And so like as soon as I put it back on my schedule and scheduled lessons again and like really devoted myself to being committed to doing it. It was like, you have that reward and you’re going to work towards it and take the time away.

 

Dawn Brolin  

Absolutely. I feel like you know, I just what I have another thing that I can go and it’s like clearing your mind really the other day and I love that you horseback ride a very dear friend of mine. I don’t know if you’ve heard of Heather Satterly, she’s out of Rhode Island. Heather is she and Liz Scott run the Appy Hour?

 

Katie Thomas  

Oh, yeah. Okay, of course, Heather!

 

Dawn Brolin  

Yeah, you Heather. She’s, she loves horseback riding. And so she started to, yeah, she you got it, you guys would say oh my goodness, you guys would love each other. She started horseback riding, you know, maybe six months ago, maybe I don’t know if it was longer than that. She was renting a horse. She now has bought a horse. And she goes horseback riding. She’s got this group of friends and everything. And it just you can see a person’s world change when they are embracing something that they’re passionate about outside of work. I mean, we all love to where people pleasers accounting. Sorry, you are. We do have this stigmatism. And I think you alluded a little bit to it, where people are like, “Oh, well, I’m in the accounting profession, and so I’m supposed to be professional and I’m supposed to be in my suit all the time. And I’m supposed to be doing tax returns. And don’t talk to me during tax season.” And even at Scaling New Heights, I have to say, I think it was Veem had the best t shirt award at Scaling New Heights and it said “I’m sorry for what I said during tax season.” And that just like, righ?, I thought was that was creative. Um, but to think about that is the attitude. It’s like, well, we just don’t, you know, like, my friends will be like, “Oh, we don’t bother you during taxes.” I was like, Dude, I’m still a person. Yeah. And you know, I can still go out to dinner. I can still eat.

 

Katie Thomas  

Right!

 

Dawn Brolin  

So you can’t let–people go ahead…

 

Katie Thomas  

Oh, I was gonna say you can’t lose your identity to a job or profession. And it’s hard to not lose it sometimes, which is sad. You have to be intentional about it.

 

Dawn Brolin  

Absolutely. And I love what you said about your client who realized, oh, my goodness, my kid’s going to graduate. And I feel like the like was in softball. I always try to teach the kids and I try to drill into their heads, listen, do not have regrets. Life is shorter than you think it is. And it’s busier than it’s ever been before. But if we don’t stop for a hot second and say, Listen, the work will be there, you’ll get the work done. But to understand that you don’t want to look back and go, Oh my goodness, I wish I’d done this or my kids now off to college. Now they’re gone by, you know, they’re out of here. And it’s like, I missed that whole opportunity to be a part a big bigger part of my, my kids life. Now listen, I understand. There’s some people that listen, this is what you do. I’m not this is not a judgment. So let’s, right Katie?

 

Katie Thomas  

Right!

 

Dawn Brolin  

So let’s, let’s you know, preface the fact that we’re just trying to give you some motivation and some encouragement to stop for a minute. I mean, either just sit for five minutes and be like, what do I really want out of this life? I mean, I’m 51, okay, I’m not on the upslope I’m not on the upslope, okay, I’ve hit the peak, coming back down. But what do I want that ride to be like? What do I want that exit strategy of life, which nobody wants to talk about? Because it’s, you know, gloomy, but really, at the end of the day, there’s only two things you have to do you have to die, you have to pay taxes, right? Those are the only two things you have to do. So if those are the two things that are not really that pleasant, right, let’s see how we can fill our lives, even if it’s just an hour a day, an hour a week, two hours a week, that you can really feel good about something for yourself. And guess what? Here’s the thing, Katie, I’m sorry, I’m talking probably more than I should know. But I just I just connect, I really connect with you. Like, it all makes sense to me. And I look back and I say, what if? What if I had done these things? And what if I took some time to myself? Because I know it re-energizes me. And I know that listen, I’m going to have regrets. There’s no doubt everybody’s going to have them that’s inevitable. But can we minimize the regrets? And what does that mean for you, there’s a commitment thing, or there’s a, you know, continuing education, whatever that may be, but to look outside of all of this professional work, and I’m a CPA and all this stuff, and say, “You know what, I’m also a person,” and you’re going to lose, I lost staff for when I made that decision. People quit people, they were like, you’re not in the office enough. I mean, I don’t know if this is the truth, because I never really told me, but it’s like, why, what was the problem? I wasn’t in the office 16 hours a day, which is the you know, that’s what we’re supposed to be doing. Or, you know, you didn’t feel like I was I was working as hard as you were, it’s like, okay, and you’re gonna have that negativity, you just have to be willing to accept it. Right? At the end of the day.

 

Katie Thomas  

Yeah. Yeah. And I think something that about that is like, so powerful to do, and then have grace, if that changes, because like what you think brings you joy, like maybe right now, you are really focused on your career, and like, the thought of doing some sort of project or taking on extra work is like, that really does give you a lot of joy. That’s great. But then you, you know, a year changes, and now you’re having a family or something like that. And it’s like, Okay, I’ve got to take a step back. And maybe your life looks different, or your view of joy looks different now. Like, that’s okay, too. I know, that’s been something I’ve experienced is like, accepting that your wants needs, desires are going to change. And that doesn’t mean that you as a person aren’t as committed, or anything like that. It’s just like, no, like, you’re in a different stage in your life now, and priorities do change. And that’s okay. You’re still a committed person to your job and your profession.

 

Dawn Brolin  

I love that. It’s like I say reassess your success, but reassess your joy. Like it sounds corny, but it’s true. Like, you don’t want to be that person who’s on this shirt that said, “I’m sorry about what I said, during tax season,” you don’t want that to be your message.

 

Katie Thomas  

No, you don’t.

 

Dawn Brolin  

It’s funny, but that is not what I want to be perceived as is like a tax season we’ll ever we will see Brolin for three months. And yet I’m like, so you know, and this is super funny, too. And then maybe you go out, you know, to watch a game in a bar with your buddies, like on a Friday night or something and you go, you show up and they’re like, What are you doing here? It’s tax season. It’s like, what?

 

Katie Thomas  

I’m a human!

 

Dawn Brolin  

I’m still person. What do you mean? And it really is powerful when you can, you can determine and in like, set the stage for your success in whatever that some people are like, Listen, I’m going to work. I want to work 60-70 hours a week, 80 hours a week, and I’m just this is my time to shine. And I’m going to pump through it because then I take the other seven months off eight months off. That’s okay, too. Right? And and like you said to you, mate, I grinded man, I was the breadwinner. I had just like you were when you had your husband, right? And laid up, which by the way, when you wrote that up, it said, so my new husband, and I gambled about that. I was like, Oh, she got rid of one!

 

Katie Thomas 

(Katie Laughs) Nope! Still same one!

 

Dawn Brolin  

One and done. I always say I don’t want to retrain man, I have my one guy. I’m gonna keep him. I don’t have to retrain. But but it just, it just is. And it’s something that you just have to reflect back on and say, I think this is what’s best for Dawn Brolin. And that’s where I think it’s hard for us because we do want to please everyone else before ourselves, but over time, that can beat you down. So tell me about what are your what are the things that you can offer to the to the people that are listening now, what you you are doing coaching with these firms, you’re helping with marketing, you’re helping with branding, tell us about what you’re doing. So we can you know, people have a need for what you’re doing. So tell us a little bit more about that.

 

Katie Thomas  

Yeah, so if you’re a firm owner, and you feel like right now, you aren’t being seen online as the expert you are, then that’s where you’re the perfect candidate to get some help. So maybe you don’t like your current website. Or maybe you feel like your social media presence is lacking. Or maybe you see people getting featured in articles and you, you want to be featured to you want to share your knowledge and your expertise, then that’s exactly where we can help you and we can come in and work together to create a plan on how to take you from where you’re at now to where you want to be. And we’ll work together and do it. It’s we need a little help from you as the practitioner because you’re the only one that knows your story, your voice your brand, but we try to do all the heavy lifting like all the content, writing, creation, all that’s done for you.

 

Dawn Brolin

And I love that and we need that. And I love the fact that you’ve been a CPA and you are a CPA and that you’ve been in our industry and worked for the bigger firms, you’ve, you’ve worked with accountants, just in general and clients, you understand what the client needs to hear as well. So, so what what let’s just because we’re gonna wrap it up, but what’s the website that people can come find you?

 

Katie Thomas

You can go to Leaders dash, so little hyphen online.com. And you can learn more about what we do there schedule a time to talk. And then I’m on social media, Katie Thomas, CPA pretty much everywhere. So you can I send me a DM.

 

Dawn Brolin  

Definitely. So well, it will post the link, the link will be right there on the on the homepage of the podcast, you’ll be able to click links and go listen to Katie, I just have to say that I I’ve met you for a very short period of time. And it was almost like an instant connection that I felt like you like got me like you figured you understood me and I and you could hear me and that kind of thing. And I think we as practitioners need to get that voice out there. And if you do want to be someone who wants to get on the stage, and you want to, you know, teach and speak and write and be part of the community educational program, which is really what we’re all there to do, especially the online presence, let people find you people need to find you. You want them to hear your voice. And so Katie is a phenomenal human being number one, and number two, just she’s got it figured out. And I think you know, definitely take a look. Get on a call with Katie and see how she can help you improve that online presence in your voice. So Katie, I just want to thank you so much. Like I said, I really enjoy just interacting with you at any time. And if there’s anything we could do, we’ll probably have you back cause I want to hear more about how are your obviously your clients, we don’t know who they are, but what are they doing over the next six months or so and so we’ll we’ll definitely have you back on the show. So any last words you want to leave with people?

 

Katie Thomas  

Well, I just wanted to say thanks for listening to this episode and you could have been doing anything with your time and you chose to spend 25 minutes hanging out with us so I really appreciate you.

 

Dawn Brolin  

Awesome, Katie, thank you so much. And we’ll be seeing everybody again on the DM Disruption next time from Dawn Brolin from Windham, Connecticut, everyone have a great rest of your day. Thanks so much!

 

 

Listen to the episode here!

Episode Summary

Scott Cytron of Cytron and Company sits down with Dawn Brolin to chat about how he went from struggling to find work as a writer shortly after college, to now owning a successful PR company that’s been in business for over 26 years. Listen now to find out how Scott finds motivation, how important networking is for your business, and how doing what you love can bring you more joy in both your professional and personal life.

Show Notes

Scott’s Introduction

Scott Cytron discusses his early beginnings as a Journalism major at the University of Missouri, and how he struggled to find work shortly after graduating. Scott talks about how difficult the job market was at the time, and how even after countless interviews, he was not finding any work. He then started working as a volunteer writer for United Way, and how even though he was not making any money, this allowed him to gain the networking skills that he would use in the future. Because of his work with United Way, he eventually landed a job with the American Red Cross.

And yeah, I mean, it was like, joke pay, but it was a job and I was glad to have it.” Scott says in reference to how much he made at his first job. 

Scott also shares how he found his way into the accounting industry; he was recruited for a position at the Texas Society of CPAs, a position he held for 9 years. 

Being Laid off and Starting His Own Company

Scott shares that he was laid off from his position, and talks about the grief he struggled with following the lay off.

Shortly thereafter, he was contacted by a few vendors he worked with while he was at the CPA society. He was asked to teach the sales people how non-profits thought and operated so they could sell more affinity cards. With Scott’s experience working with nonprofits, this ended up being a great gig for him, and with more vendors starting to contact him, this eventually led him to start his own business.

Importance of Networking

Scott then shares how important networking was when he started his business.

“And one thing led to another and I networked. I really, I let absolutely everybody I know, I told everybody, I know what I wanted to do, and what I was doing.” Scott shares. 

Dawn agrees and says networking is key when trying to gain clients and being “loud and proud” about what you do will help you reach more people who are in need of your services.

Scott also shares how as a business owner or accounting professional, you can always be doing something to increase your reach with new clients. He encourages people to take their clients out to lunch, schedule “coffee talks,” and how developing these relationships can lead to not only more work in general, but meaningful work as well.

Keeping The Client and Yourself Happy 

Scott and Dawn also share how important it is to maintain a good relationship with your clients, and while it’s important to make them happy, it’s also important that they make you happy.

“And I at this point, if I’m not having fun, or Brian isn’t having fun working…I’d rather go do something else. Yeah, because life is too short,” shares Scott. 

Scott then shares about how important it is to maintain integrity and honesty with your clients, and says,

“My best day is when a client will call me up… and say, ‘I’ve got a problem. Can you help me fix it?’ Because to me that says you totally believe in my integrity.”

 

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Transcript: 

Dawn Brolin 0:05
Hi, I’m Dawn Brolin. I’m a certified public accountant, Certified Fraud Examiner, and the author of the designated motivator for accounting professionals.

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If you know anything about writing articles or information about accounting Scott’s your guy, he just that’s what you do. Scott, you write and you do amazing things. So hey, everybody, welcome to the DM Disruption. I’m here today, really excited about our guest today, Scott Cytron. He is an amazing writer, he puts the junky words that I throw to him. And he makes me sound like I know what I’m talking about. And so I love working with Scott and work with him for a long time if you know, he writes, you know, all of the Intuit articles, but he does so much more than that. And we’re going to get into that today. So Scott, thank you so much for coming on today.

Scott Cytron 2:28
Well, thanks for having me.

Dawn Brolin 2:30
You know, I thought about this when I saw you on the schedule, and I said, we don’t know anything about Scott. He’s like in the background all the time doing writing and stuff like that. It’s just your articles, and your information is so phenomenal. But we don’t know about Scott himself. And so I was like, we’re gonna get to know Scott on this episode of the podcast today because I think that, like it’s so much more cool to read an article when you learn a little bit about the guy who’s right now. Right So, Scott, we’re gonna talk about your history in the marketing world, where you came from, where you were motivated in a certain way to get yourself to go out and start your own prep your own business and for writing so tell us who you are. What do you do what’s going on? You got a fractured foot what else is happening? Yeah, I

Scott Cytron 3:19
Yeah I have a fractured foot, yeah, that’s been a lot of fun or not. Yeah, and I’m usually used to you know, being really active like exercising and and you know, not not running but like doing your swimming and walking and all that and it’s been it’s been a journey but I got out of the booth this morning. So life is good. Finally out of the blue so now…

Dawn Brolin 3:43
You can itch, well the boot you could take off to itch, but…

Scott Cytron 3:47
Yeah, yeah, at least I didn’t have a cast that’s for sure. No, I It’s interesting career if he would said to me years and years ago when I started my career that I was going to be doing this I would have absolutely laughed in your face because I was like what is that I don’t even know what the heck that is. You know I I went to journalism school actually have a journalism degree from University of Missouri which is still the number one top school in the nation for journalism and ere we go numbers and football sucks though the basketball student okay but football is not great. Yeah, but I you know, I knew I always wanted to write I was a very good writer in high school. I loved writing you know, the remember the old blue books I don’t know if the students still right in blue books or not. They probably type it online now like for…

Dawn Brolin 4:37
Well, are they blue? Are they the black with the white? They look like cows.

Scott Cytron 4:40
I could if if right took a class and the professor said, I need you to write a, fill up your blue book about this topic. I can actually sit down there and write extemporaneously for hours about that topic, which was, I thought a real gift that I had, I didn’t know anything about anything else. I knew how to write. So I pursued journalism and graduated with a degree and a Bachelor of journalism with a specialty in magazine. And I was going to be a magazine editor when I graduated, okay. And I decided I want to eat. So, because eating is a good thing. So, I went to where I actually went into PR and kind of stumbled into it. I mean, they had one PR class at Missouri. And it was like this joke class, like you took it, if you couldn’t make it at anything else, this was way back. And now, you know, of course, it’s a very respected thing. But back then, you know, I, I had this, my mother refer refer to that as my interview suit, I had this blue pinstripe suit, that it was on and off my body three times a day. And of course, I could never gang the interviews. They were like back to back. They were always like, early morning, get home, take the suit off, put it back on, go back out. I was getting lots of interviews, but no bites. Because the job market this was, I’m telling you, it was the early 80s. The job market was pretty tight. All over was tied, and couldn’t find a job. And so I was active in a communicators organization at the time, which is still around. It’s an international group. And I went to a couple meetings and met this man he was with he worked for the United Way. And he said to me, why don’t you come see me United Way their office was downtown. He said, Are you interested in doing some volunteer work? I was like, Well, yeah, I got nothing else going on. He said, This could lead to something if you came and like showed your face got to know some people. In other words, network when I didn’t, you know, you’re not taugh in College how to network. I mean, nobody says, you know, this is what you need to do to find a job. And sure enough, I went down and volunteered my time writing articles for some of the agencies that belong to United Way and my mother and father, thought I was absolutely nuts. I mean, they were like, Why are you spending your time volunteering, when you should be out interviewing. It’s like, well, this is what I’m doing. So shut up. This is what I’ve got going on. Sure enough, it led to my first job, which was with the American Red Cross, they, the fellow I worked with the United Way knew there was an opening. And he said, go interview. Here’s the name of the number of the person need to call, got the job. And I was there about a year and thought, Well, okay, this is interesting. I was making $12,000 a year. Oh, wow. Wait a minute. Now, it turned out after taxes to be $765 a month. That was 300. And whatever it was $332 a check. And I would sit there all the time going. Okay, this is how much I have coming in. These are my bills. Do I really have enough to pay my bills? And yeah, I mean, it was like, joke pay, but job and I was glad to have it. And that led to some other things. So basically, basically, I I stayed in PR, I studied nonprofit PR and went from there. Actually, I went from there to an agency that recruited me fly knew we had a PR agency. He said, Why don’t you come work with us. I was there about a year and a half decided, okay, the PR world is I guess it’s for me, I’m going to stick with this. But I really wanted to do content. I really wanted to do more content. I was doing a lot of press releases, I was doing a lot of media contact. But I really enjoyed writing. So I was kind of the writer in the agency was a small agency at the time. Now it’s still around much larger. But I actually went back in a nonprofit, which was kind of unheard of I went back and worked for big brothers and sisters, and learned about it because I was in charge of fundraising. And really wanted to learn how to raise money in a nonprofit, and eventually led actually to a position a United Way. And from there I was recruited with from a woman who used to work there to the Texas Society of CPAs. So that’s how, when people say, “What’s your accounting background?” Well, I worked there for nine years. And I was head of all the internal communications the member communications, membership programs and learned just a heck of a lot about a lot of stuff and met some really great people. I liaised like I was head of the volunteer groups for the map, which was you know, management and accounting practice. Yeah. So they were all the public practitioner, and I still actually keep in touch with a few of those people.

Dawn Brolin 9:42
Oh, that’s cool.

Scott Cytron 9:43
Yeah. So I was. I was there for about nine years and then I was the one that thought I’d never be laid off. I was like, my job is solid. Hey, look at me. I’m tougher than this. I got laid off. laid off because that was one of the higher salaries and they said, you know, we love you, but we don’t want you anymore. And I, I cried.

Dawn Brolin 10:08
Yeah.

Scott Cytron 10:09
I cried for a couple weeks. It was right when Rosie O’Donnell Show was on the afternoon, like when she was starting her show, so I can see all the Rosie O’Donnell Show.

Dawn Brolin 10:17
Yeah! (laughs)

Scott Cytron 10:19
My son was five at the time. And I, you know, like I had to do something to earn money. And they gave me a little bit of severance they gave me they like they placed me with one of those agencies, which where they teach you how to find a job, rewrite your resume. I did all that. But what happened to me was, you talk about inspiration about being motivated.

Dawn Brolin 10:42
Yeah.

Scott Cytron 10:42
What happened was, I was contacted by a couple of vendors that I worked with while I was at the CPA society, because I headed up the member affinity program, which was the program like the credit card program for the members, the banking, the mortgage brokers, all the member benefits. I was contacted by this company, that was the financial arm of MBNA, America, which is now Bank of America more Bank of America years ago. They were interested in getting into the AICPA to switch them from first USA to MBNA. America, okay, they knew that I people involved, but trying to make this long story shorter, they brought me up to Boston once a week for six months. And they want me to teach the salespeople how nonprofits thought and operated. So they can sell more affinity car. So it was kind of the sweet little gig that I started out with, I was like, Well, if I can do this, maybe I can continue to do my own thing. And I got a call from another vendor I used to work with, I’m the one that set up the original website for the CPA society. So I got called by that company which was out of Seattle. And then one thing led to another. And I ended up really trying to make a go of it. I thought, well, that was in like November. And I thought if I could just be busy through the spring and just pay bills. Yeah, I’ll give the no and I always wanted to start my own thing I really did. I actually had a dream because I worked so much a nonprofit to actually do an agency a PR agency, that was only nonprofit clients, and I got some real pop back. But I said, you know, you’re going to have to have a certain number of clients to make that work because nonprofits couldn’t pay as much as for profit clients. And that’s true. That’s very, very true. So I ended up going out on my own. And one thing led to another and I networked I really, I led absolutely everybody I know, I told everybody, I know what I wanted to do what I was doing. That was during the age of dial up, I know I’m dating myself, but dial up computers, I typed out my, my letters on a typewriter, I mailed them every day to people. This is what I’m doing this what I want to do, and one thing led to another and you know, now 20, almost 26 years later, I’ve still got my own business.

Dawn Brolin 13:11
You know, and I love that because I think a lot of times people will ask and you see it over on social media all the time in a lot of the various groups, and I’m gonna log the accounting groups, and you watch them, they’re like, how do I get clients? How do I, you know, grow my practice? How do I do? And it’s not any different than what you did? Really, it’s like, be loud and proud about what you do get a little more specific, right? You don’t want to be just, oh, I’m an accountant. Well, you know, what? Accounts are a lot like attorneys. There’s very different types of accounting services that are provided. Attorneys, you know, their bankruptcy attorneys or their family attorneys. Usually family attorneys aren’t doing bankruptcy at the same time. Usually, there’s different partners that are doing really focus things. That’s how you become the best. Like when you think about somebody who writes somebody that is out there in publications that is doing amazing writing, Scott Cytron’s at the top of listening accounting field period. Right. And so, and you did that, and you did that work, Scott, all yourself, man. Right. And your motivation, I think a lot of our motivation, I mean, you know, you got laid off, right at the end of the day. I’m not saying it’s bad to be an employee. That’s not what I’m saying. But you don’t hold your own fate in your own hands when you work for someone else. And if you have the drive, and the commitment, the passion, the focus, to go out there and do it. What you’re doing is exactly right. You’re out there you’re networking, you’re letting people know loud and proud this is what I’m doing. And one thing leads to another Oh yeah, you know what, oh, you need an article written call Scott mean he’s your guy that’s so and that’s how people will start to grow their practice and that’s what you’ve done for your business, is grow up.

Scott Cytron 14:51
That’s absolutely the case. And you know, I get kind of perturbed, well, I don’t get perturbed I get pissed off. Yeah. When I hear good I hear from an accountant or bookkeeper or anybody in the profession. Oh, I just don’t have enough work. I don’t have enough business like, well, you’re not trying hard enough. My God, look at the number of companies and businesses out there. When was the last time you’d network with somebody? Oh, right now Well, COVID is going on? I can’t possibly do that. Yeah, you can. I met a pro advisor, or I guess last year who, this was brilliant, she scheduled coffee talks. And it was a 15 minute thing. Yeah, schedule a coffee talk with me. And yeah, okay. We can’t, you know, there was a long time where we couldn’t see each other in person. But you could still waste a network and waste to get the word out about what you’re doing. But I completely agree when a when a person in PR and marketing communications calls me or sends me a note and says, I need, I need some referrals I need to network with you. I understand, you know, some people, can you help me out? Like, what do you what area do you want to work in? Oh, I do everything? Well, no, that doesn’t help me because I need to know what you either niche in. I people know, for me, I niche accounting and finance. Now we have other clients outside of that. And I tried really hard over the years to diversify. I did a lot of healthcare. Like when I started, I did accounting and finance and I actually did morphed into healthcare, and did a lot of that. And then did some B2C work. I did some work for Blockbuster in Pizza Hut and some really great fun projects. But I always said like, it was like the God Father, I got pulled back in. And around the seventh or eighth year, I thought, well, okay, I just, I’m gonna stick with this, but was with accounting and finance. But I still want to try to find gigs outside of that. And we do we have some, but you know, there’s a group of interesting, there’s a, there’s like a handful of us across the nation. That niche in this area, and we all know each other, and we actually exchange work.

Dawn Brolin 16:55
Yes, absolutely.

Scott Cytron 16:56
Which is great. You know, if you know, Betty can’t do something, she’ll say, Scott, can you pick this up, or, you know, whatever it is, or they’ll refer what we’ve heard each other. And that’s what makes it really fun. You know, so no, we trust each other enough to get the job done. But we’re also great to work with, you know, we love we love what we do.

Dawn Brolin 17:15
Yeah, and that’s important. I mean you could to do for the rest of your life, basically, You should probably find, I was telling kids you’re like I work with, you know, I teach at the local university, I’m not right now because of the book. And I’ve got too much going on. So I’m not doing it this semester. But it’s like, I try to tell the kids like, listen, you’re going to work for forever, okay? So I encourage you, number one, find something that you’re good at, but you’ve got to enjoy it, because it’s a long road, there’s gonna be ups and downs, and sideways and backwards and all this stuff. And you’ve got to be able to get up every single morning and know why you’re doing it. And remembering that you do love it. And, you know, I want to switch a little bit of gears in that conversation about the industry right now. Now, you obviously you see it from a 30,000 foot view, and sometimes a 10,000 foot view, you know, you’re you can sometimes just have a broad conversation or write an article that’s a little bit more general in nature, or you may jump into some more deeper scenarios. So are you You know, as far as the practitioners out there, are you seeing what I’m seeing in this really tough 18 months, almost coming on two years now of, of really, in the accounting industry, specifically, where people are just struggling. I you know, and I don’t know about you, but I think sometimes it’s the people who don’t have systems and processes in place, that are able to handle either volume, or like we were talking about just being able to do that coffee time, coffee talk and just being able to, like, you’re gonna have to bring yourself into this into this timeframe of technology, I think is maybe one day is right.

Scott Cytron 18:45
I think that’s absolutely right. And yeah, yeah, you know, when you own your own business, you’re your own helpdesk. Yes. Your own IT , support your own helpdesk. Yeah, I think what’s interesting about about that kind of conversation about accountants and bookkeepers, networking is, most of the ones I know, you definitely excluded. You’re not in this camp at all. They’re afraid to ask for referral. They’re afraid to ask their clients for referral. I had this one client who was a Sage provider, they did manage services through Sage, and they had a very successful business. And they were like, well, we don’t seem to be getting any new business. I said, well, I said to the owner because I work directly with the owner. But when was the last time, this is why before COVID, I said, When was the last time you took a client to lunch? Oh, I don’t know. I don’t you know, I don’t really do that. Or do you go to lunch every day, knowing that he did? Well, yes. I said, so why don’t why don’t you take your best clients to lunch, make a rule that you don’t talk about busniess, and but you talk about not, not your business, but just business in general? How you can help each other out? Oh, I don’t have time for that. Right? But you go to lunch every day. He goes I get your point. But he said I’m not going to go do that. I’m like Why are you so afraid to ask a client for referral? What are you afraid they’ll say to you? You’re being too forward? I said they need referrals from you just like you need referrals from them exact. So why don’t you you’ve got a chemical company you’re representing, you’re doing the books for chances are they know other people, maybe in similar industries that are competitive, or whatever the case is, you know, ask, ask for help and helped them.

Dawn Brolin 20:29
Exactly. And, you know, I also some of the other things I think of is, you know, if I get a particular client that I’m like, Yeah, you know what, I’m not really your fit, but I know somebody who is, right, or if someone that comes to me that is predominantly Spanish speaking, I know exactly who I’m referring them to. And that’s because Mariette and Hector Garcia, you know, those guys are all out there, loud and proud about what they’re doing from a bilingual perspective. You know what, that helps me? Because, you know, I just had a client this morning even emailed me, she’s like, I’m in New Jersey, we have called, she actually a new client. She called me last week, we had a nice phone call. And this morning, she email she said, Listen, I’m from New Jersey, I had an accountant from New York, and I felt like I never could get in touch with him, or I couldn’t go to his office, blah, blah, blah. And I said to her, I said, Well, Jackie, here’s the deal, kid. Listen, if you want somebody local, just say the word. I’m sure I can find you somebody in New Jersey, that would love to be working with you, whatever. I said, but listen, at the end of the day, I’ve got Tracy in my office, who you if you call our office, if she is working with she, you know, sometimes she goes on vacation whenever she’s really kind of part time. If If she calls you she doesn’t answer that phone call, I promise you within 24 hours, you will get a call back, because that’s just the way she rolls, right? And so what I said to her, I said, Hey, if you want some from New Jersey, I’m happy to refer you like, I want what’s best for the client. Because it’s like happy wife happy life. It’s happy client happy business. Like, you know, I don’t want upset clients. I don’t want those people. So if I feel like, you know, this isn’t a fit for me, you know.

Scott Cytron 22:05
But you know, at the same time, like I’ve had cases, like locally, I’ll give you an example. I worked with a financial management company here. For we worked together 12 years. And the owner was a heck of a nice guy, the nicest guy you would ever want to meet. If you said, Bill, give me the shirt off your back, he would take it off and give it to you. I was at his wedding. I mean, that’s how that’s what a great relationship. Yeah, I know. That’s what a great relationship, we had. This PR I did his newsletter articles, whatever. And, but he could not make a decision to save his life, he could not make a decision. He managed, he wouldn’t work with anybody unless they had more than $2 million in assets. I mean, that was his sea level practice. So when he was very good at it, but he couldn’t make a decision. And I finally, you know, like, probably the fifth or sixth year like this is all like this is not working? Well, I really tried to resign twice. He kept throwing more money at me. And I was like, okay, well, I guess I’ll continue. And finally, the third time I just said, Bill, you’ve got to go find this somewhere else. I said, I’m sorry. But why would you pay me? You know, like, he was a happy client. But sure, I wasn’t happy working with him, because I didn’t feel like I was helping him. You know, and I feel like in the, in the accounting profession is kind of the same thing. Why would you continue working with a client, you don’t think you’re helping just to make the money? You know, and, and to me, it’s the whole story. It’s the whole advisory services conversation that some accountants still cannot wrap their arms around, they cannot figure out like, oh, you know, they can look at the tax return and figure out that they have stocks, they have other assets they have. I don’t, you could look the return. I don’t know, you know, I’m not a tax guy. But I know how to do that. And to have that conversation with your client, I don’t know if they’re afraid that the client will leave them because it’s going to cost them more money. But you know, if I had a client that I knew, had this issue, I would certainly bring it up. And that’s where you make your clients happy. Like you want to, but we do in PR we say we anticipate what you’re going to need before you need it. That’s that’s the whole crux in a nutshell is we want to make we want we want to know what you need before you realize you need it. And that’s that’s where we have happy clients and communications with clients is key like they you know, the worst thing I would want to happen at the end of the month is for them to get my invoice and say what did he do for that? Well, no, that never happened. Because we’re constantly in touch. We’re constantly you know, doing stuff back and forth. They know exactly what’s going on. So…

Dawn Brolin 24:56
I love that conversation about like you’re saying like keeping a client, like you were saying that just because you’re you’re making money from them. And that’s great. Sometimes it isn’t the best fit I, we had a client just here in the last few months he had whatever issues he had, and we just it was the last straw, we were making a lot of money. It was a great project, it was a fun project. But we were just, we just got to the point where we’re gonna keep this guy, we’re gonna actually be able to intercept this audit was a criminal audit, we had all the i’s dotted T’s crossed, he had his record keeping was terrible, his prior account just really did a major disservice. So we were going to go after the, ENO, for that, like, we had this whole plan, but he just became like, he was mean. And a girl on my staff was kind of mostly dealing with them. And, you know, she called me at one point, she’s pretty tough. And she was like, I just don’t know if I can handle this anymore. I said, then that’s the end of it, we’re done. And so I fired the client, I was like, I don’t need to, I don’t want to make money off those people. And then on the other flip side, I have one of my best friend’s real really great, another couple that my husband I’ve been friends with were that the God daughters, one of his godparents, and one of his daughters. Just we love Him. And so what we he owns his own security system business. And we would chase him and chase and chase him for information. And it was like, just became painful. So finally, his kid, actually my goddaughter graduated from college with an accounting degree. And I said, Kyle, your daughter is doing your accounting she’s doing all your sales tax returns, go figure out your tax return, because we’re done. Like, it wasn’t even it was about just, this isn’t worth it. And you know, we’re friends, and I would love to help my friends, but not at my, you know, at my cost, if you will, of having to chase them constantly. And you know, at that point, where’s the value anyway? There isn’t any.

Scott Cytron 26:42
The one thing, the one thing I dread is firing clients, and I’ve had to do it. Luckily, I’ve never been fired by a client. But I’ve had a power plant. And I mean, the financial planners, one example. But you know, there have been other examples. And I at this point, if I’m not having fun, or Brian isn’t having fun working, you know, working on this, my son works with me, as you know, if we’re not having fun. I’d rather go flip burgers at the Burger King. Well, hopefully not there. But you know what I mean? I do, I’d rather go do something else. Yeah, because life is too short. And, you know, when a client gets ornery with me, or starts questioning my integrity, we can have a conversation about absolutely, I’ve got a very thick skin. But you know, at the end of the day, is this really worth it? And it’s it’s a tough thing, because, you know, I mean, when I first started my business, it was absolutely all about the money. I had to make money. I mean, let’s just face it, I had to do it. And then on the seventh, eighth, ninth year, I was like, okay, it’s less about the money and more about the quality of the work. Unfortunately, I’m not…

Dawn Brolin 27:53
100%

Scott Cytron 27:53
Yeah, it’s now all about the work. And I, you know, I feel like the the pay is going to be there, the money is going to be there, hopefully. And will last I’ve been very fortunate people have been incredibly kind to me, over the years and generous. And, you know, I know we work hard for what we do. But at the same time, I never, never think that something’s an absolute, I absolutely am grateful for everything we get. But sometimes you have to fire a client and that’s not easy. I always feel like, Oh, my God, this whole door is going to shut and not open. And the moment you do it, you know, as a business owner, like this weight comes off of you. And a window opens and something else happens. It always works like that. I don’t know why, I don’t know if that’s fate, I don’t know what it is. But it’s just weird.

Dawn Brolin 28:41
Well, and I think one of the things that I want to Well, this is going to be the kind of the last week well, we usually go 25 minutes or so. So we’ll but I want to finish with this part. Because you know, you submitted we always have people submit to us some information so that I don’t, you know, ask you questions that make no sense to you. But the I think the most impressive thing that I read about kind of your art are written conversation about what you do, why you do it, what you’re motivated for, and what makes you happy. And the number one word that I that just pulls right out is honesty. And I think at the end of the day, if you can be honest with yourself, and be able to say, and there are situations where I’ve seen practitioners work, and it’s garbage. I’ve seen it. I’m like, How is this client paying $65,000 in self employment tax? Why are they not an S-Corp? Like, I look at this stuff, and I’m like, I wonder because I don’t know, how do you look in the mirror or send an invoice to a client and take their money when you did such bad work? Now I will say for myself even if I make mistakes or I you know I dropped the ball on something. It will not cost the client anything because that’s my integrity, my ethics and my honesty that I know I jacked it up. It’s my fault. And so I don’t feel comfortable and I can’t sleep at night, if I know that I’ve done dishonest, right. And so I know honesty for you is one of your biggest things. And I agree with you and you can’t look yourself in the mirror. Or you know, what’s worse is if you can, and you’re being dishonest, that’s even worse. But tell tell me about that honesty thing, because I really, that really spoke to me.

Scott Cytron 30:21
Well, I just feel like you have to be genuine. I mean, you can’t, people are gonna play games are going to play games until the world is over, which hopefully, isn’t anytime soon. But you have to have integrity and honesty. And I think along with incomes trust. And I will tell you, you know, I always ask I ask a client two things. I asked them if they’d rather be rich or famous. Because I don’t whenever I have a new client, I say what would you rather be rich or famous? Or what do you mean? What do you mean by that? I said, Okay, if you want to be rich, it’s all about PR is all about getting your company’s name in the paper. If you want to be famous, it’s about getting your name in the paper, or the media, whatever it is, but that’s always a good question. The second is, you know, just you want to at the end of the day, you want to absolutely be honest with what you’re doing. I have done crisis communications in my time, and which, which is basically if a client was imperil, for some reason, let’s say they had somebody on their staff that embezzled money or somebody went to jail, or there was really a big problem like that, I’ve done that kind of work. I now outsource that, like if I have a client that has that, because there are people to do a way better than me. But I always say what, at the end of the day, my best day, I always say what is your best day? Like? What makes you the happiest? What is your best day? My best day is when a client will call me up. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a client will call me up and say, I’ve got a problem. Can you help me fix it? Because to me that says you totally believe in my integrity. Now, you may not always take my advice, which is your deal, you know, and I’ll never tell somebody their baby’s ugly outright, probably sandwich that in something. But I always tell by clinets by saying, you know, and if you don’t feel like you’re going down a rabbit hole with something? I’ll let you know. Because why would you want to hear me say, oh, everything’s great. I want to be a yes, man. You know, what good does that do? Anybody? You know, we’ve had several recently, you know, like, with COVID, going on, we’ve had a couple of instances. And I’ll give them my opinion about what I feel like they should be doing and whether they again, whether they choose to follow it or not as their deal. I can’t control that narrative. But I know for my off, yeah, I can look in the mirror every day and say I really did the best I could.

Dawn Brolin 32:47
Yeah, and I think that that’s, you know, it’s that’s an amazing message. And I guess that would for me, that is what when I read the the information that you had sent over, and I’m just like, every bit of what it sounded like in what you wrote, and what you sent over was definitely coming from your heart. And you can, you can read the honesty, you know what I’m saying? And I think this episode is about honesty and integrity. And if you can be honest with yourself, and you have an integrity, things will always work out for you. Because you are being asked, like you said, is it fate? What is it when you close that door? And then another one, probably for open? In some cases? Right? And I think that comes down to at the end of the day that that ability to have that honesty, integrity, you’re trustworthy. People are comfortable around you because you, you know, you’re not sugarcoating things you’re telling them. And like you said, Let him take the information in and do what they wish with it. But you always know you’re giving the people I mean, you know, as an accountant, people always say, Well, what do you think? Can’t I you know, what if I did this, and can I do that? And I’m like, Okay, listen, I’m going to tell you what you should be doing. And then you’re going to go ahead and do it or you won’t do it. You know, Oh, should I go and buy this truck at year end, because I just want to reduce my expenses? I think that’s stupid. I think that that would do really need that. Like you need it. Like I’m always very open with them. Not gonna, I’m not gonna Yes, sir. them and be like, oh, yeah, that’d be awesome. We’ll get yourself a truck like, and you know, you’re on the phone. And you’re like, I just got to tell you, I just don’t think that’s the right answer. It could have been, it would be very easy to go. Oh, yeah, go and get it. No problem. We’ll just make sure you send me the paperwork, so I can get it into your books. Like, that’s too easy.

Scott Cytron 34:29
I love that.

Dawn Brolin 34:29
Right? And it’s like, I got to have that conversation with them.

Scott Cytron 34:34
Don’t you wish that they would teach this at school? Don’t you wish they would teach you something like, like, from an early age? Even like preschool. And I don’t know that they do. It’s been years since my son was in school, but I you know, I just don’t know. If it’s if that’s something that’s being taught. I you know, I’m afraid that’s probably not. I

Dawn Brolin 34:54
I mean, to think about, like a course on decision making. Yeah, right. Right. Like okay, you, we’re giving you information and you read the and then you interpret the information, and then you use it or lose it. And teaching them how to work through that would be really awesome. Maybe we can get, you know, they’re doing education reform, if we can slip that in somehow..

Scott Cytron 35:13
I’ll get it on the agenda, how’s that?

Dawn Brolin 35:17
On the agenda! Well, Scott Cytron. I really, I’m and I’m being as genuine as I am always very honest and open. And I wouldn’t say these boastful things about people if I didn’t believe them, but I’ve really appreciated you. You’ve helped me in my career tremendously. Just through the work we’ve done with Intuit, of course, with writing and different things that we’ve been doing. And I just want to thank you, from my side of the industry from from being the accounting side, you know, you’re you’re out there giving us the information that we need to make those good decisions. And I don’t know if anyone thanks you for that, you know, a check isn’t thanks enough for you. But I just personally have appreciation for what you’ve done for me. So I want to thank you for that.

Scott Cytron 35:55
That’s really, really good night. Like, that means more to me than I can tell you. Thank you.

Dawn Brolin 36:00
Oh, Scott. I mean, we really go way back, man, we really do. And, and I wouldn’t, you know, I want to have you on again, I’d love to talk more. You know, this, the DM Disruptions about just where I’m trying to disrupt the industry in a positive way. Right? So helping people to take like you’re saying, take the information on what you shouldn’t shouldn’t be doing as a practitioner, and interpreting it, but not just sitting there and thinking about it, but doing something about it. We want people to do things, right, we got Scaling New Heights coming up, don’t just go to a conference or watch a webinar to just be present. You know, just be there as a human. Be there with purpose. And then take whatever you learn, even if it’s just one thing, and make a change in your day in your life, and I promise you, your practice will change. And that’s what we’re trying to do. So, Scott, you’ve been awesome, and I appreciate you. And I’ll be looking for you if you’re if I see you as Scaling and be out the ball. I know you’ll be the slowest guy walking, but I’ll be able to find you I’m sure!

Scott Cytron 36:58
Thank you, I will.

Dawn Brolin 37:01
You take care and say hi to your son for me because I do remember meeting him I think it was at QuickBooks Connect event we sat together towards the front I think but I do remember him and I wish you the best and I know, I know We’ll be talking again soon.

Scott Cytron 37:14
Sounds good. Thank you!

Dawn Brolin 37:16
All right. Thanks everybody for listening to DM Disruption Dawn Brolin here with my man Scott Cytron love him. This episode is sponsored by ADP my favorite payroll processing company you know why cuz I don’t like process payroll. So Amen. For ADP. I just have to say that. Scott again. Thank you so much. You’re wonderful, and we’ll talk again soon. Sounds good. Thank you. Alright, take care. Bye. Bye, everybody.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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