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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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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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.

 

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