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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.


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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 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.


This episode is sponsored by Liscio. Learn more at


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.


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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  



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  



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  



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  



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 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!



This episode is sponsored by Bookkeep

Episode Summary

Truly Financial’s Mike Milan joins Dawn Brolin to discuss the benefits of digital banking through Truly Financial, and highlights how banking, wire transfers, and implementing company spending cards can be made easy for everyone, including small businesses! Listen now to find out how Truly Financial can benefit your business, as well as how accounting professional can help save their clients money! 

Episode Notes

What is Truly Financial? 

Mike Milan of Truly Financial joins Dawn Brolin to discuss how digital banking can be beneficial for small businesses, and how Truly Financial helps save their clients hundreds of dollars in wire transfer fees and account minimum fees.

Truly Financial is a digital banking service that allows companies to have international purchasing power, even if they can’t compete with larger businesses around them. Truly Financial solves the currency exchange problem, and keeps the transaction local, rather than across borders. 

Mike even compares the ease of their wire transfers to using Venmo—transactions are made quick and easy.

Implemented Truly Financial in Your Business

Opening up an accountant with Truly Financial is easy, and can be done online! You provide them with basic identifying documents of you and your business, and they do the rest. 

Truly Financial Spend Management Cards

Truly Financial also provides you with spend management cards that you can distribute amongst your employees, rather than having to reimburse them. You are able to set the spending limits, see all the transitions that are taking place, and these cards can even be used for employees who work overseas. 

Mike highlights how you as the business owner are given up to 2.5% cash back on most purchases, even on the purchases made by your employees; they also have no minimum account fees! 

“We’re trying to bring the perks of the big bank down to everyone.” says Mike.


Learn more at


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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Dawn Brolin 0:06
This episode of the DM Disruption is sponsored by Bookkeep. Bookkeep provides automated bookkeeping by posting sales and reconciling payment deposits from Square, Spotify, Amazon seller, and more to QuickBooks Online or Xero, automatically. What is great is that the Setup is easy and nothing needs to be done. Once it’s set up. After that it’s set it and forget it. Bookkeep will do your job from that moment forward. You can even have historical transactions posted, all you have to do is ask, stop stressing about posting these simple but voluminous transactions and start letting Bookkeep do the work for you. Check them out at today!

Hey everybody and welcome back to the DM Disruption, myself Dawn Brolin your designated motivator is here to help you come up with solutions for your firm, but most importantly for your clients because they’re here for you to be the trusted adviser to guide them in the right direction, and we have one of my very favorite people I’ve known for a long time. Mike Milan, is here today from Truly Financial, an interestingly awesome product, that we’re going to kind of give you a little bit more detail about what Truly Financial can do for you and your firm, but also for your clients. So, Mike, thanks so much for coming. I love you, you’re like one of my favorite people, we it’s like you’re like a brother from another mother. Right?

Mike Milan 1:28
I will tell you, I’m motivated right now, I’m already motivated, right? So if you’re if your job is to motivate me, you did it even before we got on the call,

Dawn Brolin 1:36
Bang! That’s what we’re here to do. Because really the end of the day, we just want to solve the problems of the world. And one of them is, with regards to banking, and being able to make payments and to be able to collect money and to have, you know, your employees being able to have cards and you know, doing all these things so that we can run loose, you want to make business work better, faster and smoother. So Mike, tell us all about Truly Financial, let’s get this going.

Mike Milan 2:02
And I gotta tell you what I mean, when you look at it, and I’ve got 15 years of now banking experience, you know, talking with banks, teaching bankers, talking with small business owners, and it kept coming back to the same thing of, it’s getting more and more difficult to do business globally. And it and I don’t know about you, but when I went through the MBA program, I read a book called The World is Flat, and it predicted the globalization of the economy, which is saying, you know, even the smallest business and Galesburg, Illinois, you know, could do business in India, or Pakistan, or China or any of these other places. But it’s so difficult to do that, right? It’s so difficult to do that. And not only that, when we started talking about, especially after COVID remote teams and working with other people and getting the best talent. Well, the best talent is no longer just contained in a geography, you know, inside a border. Right? It could be anywhere your best player could be in Toronto, well, how do I work with that person, when they’re the best, you know, key player. So what we’ve done is, is build products that help you not only be a hyper local, small business, but have an international beef or, international flair if you’d like that, and expand your business globally.

Dawn Brolin 3:17
Yeah, an international presence that somebody that is a smaller, smaller company, like you said, can’t kind of compete with the cost to do business globally. And I think that that’s one of the key pieces is that well, how do I even open that door? How do I even in most people would be like, well, now I got currency translation issues. I’ve got this. I’ve got banking fees, I’ve got that. So Truly Financial is opening up that door to allow people to be able to maneuver in that space. Right?

Mike Milan 3:46
Yea, you know, what’s funny about that is I mean, it said at you lose up to 5% of an invoice just by doing business internationally, maybe because you you do have that you do have maybe a currency exchange problem where you’re forced to convert at the time of the transaction? Well, you know, we’ve done away with that by being able to hold multiple currencies in one account, so I can exchange money when it’s good for me, I don’t have to do it exactly when the transaction takes place. The other thing is, is that a lot of like international wire, sometimes go through multiple steps where you know, you can’t go from, you know, some of the African currencies like SETI into the Japanese Yen. I know that’s kind of a big problem here in Texas, we’d have a lot of that. But as an example, you have to convert it to US dollars first, and then back into Yen. Some of there’s some of them that just don’t have a direct exchange, you have to use an intermediary. And that costs money, right? Sometimes $40 to $60 per transaction. So we want to help you save money by making it just instant.

Dawn Brolin 4:48
Okay, and so, so tell us something like that. So, if you’re a if you’re a practitioner, and you have clients that are you know, maybe even already in that global world or they’re already you know, doing A lot of transactions of business in Canada, let’s just say right, because I would think, you know, a lot of us have have businesses that have, you know, activity in Canada. So, walk through a simple scenario and how what, what is the Truly product actually do to improve that process for the client? If you come up with an example for me?

Mike Milan 5:19
Yeah, so I mean, I mean, normally, there would be a cross border transaction, right, which which you know, where the people in Canada, even though you want to send money in US dollars, they have to either receive it in US dollars, and then make a conversion to Canadian dollars, which is, again, another pain in the butt for them. That’s kind of a typical thing, right? Where you’re paying them or you’re receiving money from them the same way there’s this conversion charge. What we’ve done is we’ve created a way to conduct that transaction locally. And it’s more like a Venmo transaction, and it happens instantly. So let’s just say that I’m in Toronto, you’re there. And it was a Connecticut?

Dawn Brolin 5:55

Mike Milan 5:56
Okay. Yeah. It’s at one side of the world that I don’t know very much about.

Dawn Brolin 6:02
It is mysterious out here!

Mike Milan 6:03
That’s right. So, but think about it, like a Venmo transaction, where you can just say, I want to pay @ Mike, and I send it into Toronto, the same way that you would, you know, me with a Venmo transaction now. So what we’re doing is on the back end is, is creating a transaction that happens locally, rather than across the border.

Dawn Brolin 6:22
Got it. Right. And that’s perfect. Because that’s really, at the end of the day, what we want to do is we just want to either get paid or pay, we don’t want to have to go through, like you said, dealing with exchange rates and how to make sure that that’s all done correctly. And you know, any accounting software tries to do that. It’s not always successful, but, but just that facilitation is what you’re solving for.

Mike Milan 6:45
Right? We’re like a Sherpa, right? And then international funds, Sherpa, right, we’re gonna guide that transaction all the way through. And it’s basically, because I tell you, anybody that tries to do an international wire right now, there’s no visibility, you don’t know what happens, you don’t know when it even changes hands to another person. Sometimes it takes up to two weeks, and that could delay your goods. You know, just because no one’s gonna send it until they receive the money. So what we’re doing is we’re walking that transaction all the way through for you at the speed of banking.

Dawn Brolin 7:15
Right? So yeah, within a 24 hour period, or whatever that may be, right? Because you got that

Mike Milan 7:20
Sometimes instantaneous, sometimes it takes a day or two.

Dawn Brolin 7:23
Yeah. So now, so a client comes to you, or, you know, business owner comes to Mike and says, “Hey, I want in.” What do I have to do? How do I get how does this all get set up? Because that’s what a lot of times people will say, Well, how hard is it to get this implemented? Right? That’s typically a normal question. So tell that process,

Mike Milan 7:43
if you’ve ever opened a bank account is the same. But what we’ve tried to do is take away the, you know, the requirement to walk into a bank, sit down with a bank loan officer and go through every single process, and I forgot this paper, and then I gotta go ping pong back and forth, we email or private things. We’ve built in automation on most all of the verification of a business, right, because there’s a couple of regulations, we have to go go, you know, go by, as one is know your customer, the others know your business. And that way, we know kind of what’s happening in the business. So we have to verify who you are. And we have to verify who your business is. And that’s really done with, you know, your EIN will say, for US business, we can verify that your real business, we look at the website to make sure that, you know, if you have a website tried to determine what business you’re in. There’s certain businesses we can’t do business with, right? So and then then of course, your as a person, it’s a copy of your ID and then just gain your thing like I did with Alexa yesterday. So now like Alexa even recognizes me. So it’s really that easy. It does take a few minutes, it might take, you know, five or 10 minutes to go through the process, but it’s really point click, type in your EIN and we we go gather all the data for you.

Dawn Brolin 8:52
Which is awesome. Because I had an experience, just I would say, I think it was like last maybe May, April or May. And I was going to set up a new bank account, right? And with Bank of America, you can you can set up a new account online, you know what? The process is awful. The process is brutal. Any of your banks, your, what we’ll call your “historical native banks” that we’ve had, you know, at the corner of, you know, Main Street for years, even they haven’t solved for exactly what you’ve already solved for. You know, you go you set up the account and you give them some stuff, but then you got to wait for the signature paperwork to come. So you can they they’re not even using E signature of Bank of America for this process. But you’re just like what, so the big count takes like three to four weeks to just set up because they’re gonna mail you the papers to sign and then you mail them back. And I mean, it’s just insanity. Like it just doesn’t make sense. So that is a huge solution that truly financial is solving when people want to set up a bank account. Bang, just go on there, get it set up, and then go Talk about the card. So we got businesses who have employees who, you know, need to get paid and need to pay for things or whatever. Tell us about the cards and the card process.

Mike Milan 10:08
Yeah, I tell you, I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s one of those things, it’s, it’s the new way of doing business, right, it’s a way for you to not only give your team some authority, some responsibility, but also help them be accountable with Spend Management cards, right. So it’s, it’s, it’s as easy as just typing in your name, and sending you out a card, then I set the transaction limits that you can spend per month, per category, per transaction, I can set all those limits for you. But I can also, you know, have visibility, and I can see what you’re doing instantly. So as you make a transaction, I see it happening as it as it works. So you can do that across your team. And what’s interesting is that we can also issue cards across the border. So if you find that perfect employee in Canada, or, you know, Warsaw, Poland or Singapore, you can actually bring them on your team and and pay them much like you would in their local currency or in your own. Right. So it’s one of those things that we’ve really solved for that way. What I do like about it, is that our corporate cards, right that these these SmartLink, we call them smart link, which is linking my employees to my account, right? So SmartLink is our spend management system. But our corporate cards are unlike any debit card. So think about the debit card, where you just go use it for your everyday purchases. And that’s kind of our tagline is, you know, your everyday domestic and international purchases, right? That’s kind of what we’re, we’re working with. You actually were given cashback up to 2.5 % on everything. You can’t get that with a debit card, right? That’s one of the reasons why we give you a corporate card. And believe it or not, if you go try to apply for a corporate card, most banks have minimum requirements, they got minimum, so much on daily deposit or so much on your annual revenue. None of that, right. We’re trying to bring the perks of the big bank down to everyone. We’re really what we’re trying to do. It’s like getting a discount on every single thing you buy. Right? So..

Dawn Brolin 12:01
I’ll fight you for the quarter in the parking lot like you and I will be fist fighting for that quarter.

Mike Milan 12:10
Yeah, here’s, here’s the cool thing. Remember, the SmartLink accounts? Yep, everything your employees are purchasing rolls up to the main account. So they’re not getting the reward, you are right, even when they’re out, they’re spending on your behalf.

Dawn Brolin 12:22
And that is really powerful. Because if you think about it, umm, having employees, like, you know, say, Okay, we’ll just reimburse you. So a lot of companies do that. So if you have clients out there, people were listening, you have clients out there that are that have employees using a personal credit card, and a lot of like you said, a lot of the smaller businesses, and I’m saying smaller, a million and under people who are a million and under who have employees, and they use their own credit card, you reimburse them. They’re getting that either cashback depending on what kind of card they have credit card, on a credit card, they’re getting cashback and they’re getting or and or points or something. Right. So and I think that that’s a really big deal, the business owner, should be the one enjoying those perks, and those that cashback and how that all works. Because really, at the end of the day, that’s their money. Right? And so and they’re paying for them, and make the purchase. So they’re, they’re getting paid to go make the purchase, and now they’re getting cashback on their cars or points. Now we say no, I’m paying you to go do this thing. But I’m going to enjoy the reward, which is that the cashback?

Mike Milan 13:30
You know, it was fun is that a company I’d worked for prior, they took all of the money and then put it towards the party at the end of the year. Right. I mean, the the employees ended up getting it back in one way or the other. But I thought it was a great way to finance a, you know, company perks with those types of purchases.

Dawn Brolin 13:49
Absolutely. And I do I love also the fact that you don’t have fees, because that is what I mean statement fees. And just if you don’t have your you know, maintain your minimum balance, you’re going to get a fee for that. And then then the payments. Okay, let’s talk about the fees for when you pay somebody, right? You don’t have fees when you pay somebody.

Mike Milan 14:09

Dawn Brolin 14:10
And that’s it globally, your the wire transfer fees, if you’re doing wire transfers, or doing any of those kinds of things, you’re paying 50 bucks, 75 bucks sometimes for those transfers. So if you have clients that are doing that, what’s beautiful about it, not only are we are we opening up the ability to do that global economy and global global payments, but being able to take clients that now already do that I thinking of one of my clients, he’s uh, he does a lot of work in Canada. And so he’s selling like these huge structures and things like that. For him to be able to pay for the goods and things that he’s doing, he’s going to be the next phone call that I make because he’s he could really benefit from this product for sure. So I want people as they’re listening, think about the clients that are working globally. And that are you you’re going to be doing tax returns soon. Then those of you who are listening, that are bookkeepers that are watching these fees come through, pay attention to the fees, because they are they can get big me. Some people will say to me, I don’t want to accept credit cards because I gotta pay fees. Well, you know, here’s your solution. We got it, we got solved already done.

Mike Milan 15:18
There you go, there you go. But, you know, it’s when all of our prices are listed right on the website, you know, I And mostly, everything’s free. Now, we got some value limitations, right. I mean, there’s only so many, you know, international wires that you can do in a month. But our limits, I think, are probably more than I would do anyway, you know, you know, between then I can look it up to be exact, but we’ll say you get 10 free, right? Who’s doing 10 of those a month? I mean, yeah, so, but we have to two programs. One is the free program where the limits are a little bit smaller, right, you may be three transactions here are 10 transactions there. And then we have a $25 month per actual fee and a bank account, we charge you $25 a month, but you get a lot more of those free transactions, you know, like 25 or so a month. So I mean, more than most people do anyway. But $25 a month, one time is a lot better than what you just said, $50. Every time.

Dawn Brolin 16:15
Exactly. Exactly. And you know, you know, Truly Financials and business make money to people, it’s, you know, we all are, that’s what business is about. But it but the cost that cost that reduction in fees, is going to can be substantial for some of your clients. And so you’ve got to, you know, and I was on another podcast with Allison Ball with Liscio. It’s client experience that we need to be more aware of. And I mean client experience in that, what can we bring to the table to them to say, Hey, listen, we’re going through your taxes, or I’m doing your books, and I’m seeing all the wire transfer fees that you’re paying, we got to do something different here. And so, you know, that is where we become the hero to our clients. And here’s a great example of where you can bring this product to your client say, Hey, listen, we watched all your fees, we gotta, we gotta do something different here for 2020. Great place to start with Truly Financial for sure.

Mike Milan 17:11
Well and I’ll tell you, I mean, I know I should be transparent. We’re saying, Okay, well, we’re giving you all these fees, right? We’re just we get a lot of different free transactions. And you say, Well, how do we make money? Well, if you look at our card, we’re a visa partner. So every time you use it, you know, we’re getting a piece of that transaction, which doesn’t come out of your pocket, it comes out of your vendors pocket, right. If you go to Walmart, if you go to Exxon Mobil, I mean, we’re getting a piece of that transaction, you know, through Visa.

Dawn Brolin 17:37
Yep. And you know, it’s interesting, too, because people don’t think of that, like the merchant fees. They think, Oh, I’m just Visa just gets my 3.2% or whatever, whatever the fee may be. There’s so much there’s a lot of components built into that 3.2%, and Truly Financial happens to be one of them for the Visa. But again, you’re not It’s not like your rates are going up. It’s not that’s not the situation. So it’s just the Visa is got this partnership. So it’s I think it’s an awesome solution. I think it’s something that we should be, we should have this in the forefront of our mind as we go through tax season. And as we go throughout the year, I mean, you can save your client two grand, that’s a lot of money, you save your clients, in some cases, probably five $6,000 in fees that they’re paying now. And so keep that in the forefront of your mind as you move forward through taxes and move forward through 2022 to keep it in the forefront. Like any last thoughts?

Mike Milan 18:29
Hey, we want to be your bank. That’s where it is.

Dawn Brolin 18:34
We want to be your bank. Truly Financial Mike Milan, we can sing my land is your land. That’s how I know. In my mind, every time I land is your land. Will you ever said that to me, I was like I’ll never pronounce your last name wrong again. Mulan, which I think is a Disney movie or something. But it’s Milan. So like, so much for spending some time with us today. Again, the DM Disruption is all about shaking your coconut and getting you to think about doing things differently. And yes, period. The world is changing. You can either fight against it and get left behind or you can join the fight and make changes in your business and with your clients. And Truly Financial is one of those components that you go we gotta shake it, put it in your head, so you’re thinking about it. And thank you again so much for listening. Mike, thanks so much for coming here today. And we will see you on the next DM Disruption. Thanks again, everybody. Thanks




Episode Summary

Fishbowl’s Senior Director of Integrated Services, Bev Lang, shares her journey within the accounting industry, her experiences “coming up to bat with Brolin,” and why Fishbowl feels like family, and is a key member in Team Brolin’s Starting Lineup!

This episode is sponsored by Fishbowl.

Beverly’s Introduction and Why We’re #BetterTogether

Beverly shares how difficult it can be to collaborate effectively, especially in the QSP industry, and talks about her passion for teaching others how to do so. She references QSP’s moto is “#BetterTogether”, and acknowledges how important it is to seek help when you need it, and be willing to help others when they are struggling

Beverly’s Journey and Experience with Fishbowl

Beverly started at a QSP, and after attending her first Scaling New Heights in 2009, she decided to take a chance starting her own QSP. She chose to go all in a few years later, and ended up having huge success!

Beverly talks about meeting Fishbowl at Scaling New Heights a few years later, and fell in love with the software that they provided. Beverly became their top seller, and Fishbowl eventually offered to buy her company. Now, Beverly and all of her employees have a Quickbooks channel at Fishbowl.

Beverly also talks about how Fishbowl has consistently outperformed similar programs and software, and shares her appreciation for the company as a whole.

Importance of Partnering in Payroll

Beverly talks about how she built her own empire, and how she has always been one of the top providers of payroll. She also talks about how important it is to become certified in payroll to show your knowledge to your clients.

Dawn agrees, and talks about how important it is to be in compliance with payroll, and how important it is to find a good partner to assist you. 

Clients Success Stories with Fishbowl

Beverly talks about a medical equipment company she recently worked with, and how Fishbowl was able to not only provide excellent inventory management to their company, but also help in other aspects of their business, including all the medical requirements implemented by the FDA. 

Beverly also talks about how many clients come to Fishbowl in desperate search of a system that provides them with what they need, but does so in an affordable way.

Impact of Covid on Manufacturing and Importance of Inventory Management

Dawn also talks about the importance of having a virtual or cloud based system that allows companies to implement new inventory programs without having to have a representative come in person.

Beverly agrees, and talks about how quickly Fishbowl pivoted their program to provide virtual solutions, and how Fishbowl has developed integrations with online businesses programs like Shopify, Amazon, and Etsy.

Dawn also discusses how important it is for businesses to partner with inventory management programs because it can be very difficult to project future inventory costs without proper assistance. 

Beverly agrees, and shares her passion for educating customers on how to correctly understand their reports, and how an accurate understanding of inventory can lead to future savings and business success.

Beverly’s Current Work Life and Inspiration

Beverly talks about the difference between going from a business to an employee, and talks about the feeling of needing to prove herself. She also talks about trying to improve her work-life balance, and her desire to be able to have a team of people that work efficiently, without having to work 80 hour weeks.

Beverly also talks about how she found her initial motivation from her beginnings in the QSP community, and now finds inspiration from her former English college professor and best friend, Holly.


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Dawn Brolin 0:01
Hello everyone and welcome to the DM Disruption. I’m the host Dawn Brolin. I’m a certified public accountant, Certified Fraud Examiner, and the author of the designated motivator. We’re here to help motivate you to take your practice to the next level. Have you considered outsourcing your clients payroll? Well, I did and I went with ADP. The resources they provide, along with their partner program become the premier outsourcing Payroll solution. We as practitioners already deal with a ton of compliance. Keeping Up With payroll isn’t a value added solution that I should be focused on. If you’ve considered outsourcing before, reconsider it today. Choose ADP to be part of your starting lineup.

Hey, everybody, and welcome back to the designated motivator. We’re here to not just motivate but put stuff into action and I’m so excited. There’s somebody else I’ve ever learned from in my career. It is from Beverly Lang, who is a doer she is not a talker. She is a doer, and she is at the forefront of this industry making things happen. Today’s sponsor of this episode, as you can just imagine, fishbowl fishbowl the absolute best Inventory Management System period that you will find and the person that I go to and I refer to as Beverly Lange because she knows all those things. And you know, I want to be an expert at the things I’m good at and that’s just not my area. So I hand it over to somebody who is an expert and that’s Beverly, so Beverly Lang, thank you so much for coming today.

Bev Lang 1:34
I’m so excited to be here. Love my son Brolin love rolling with Brolin. So anytime we can jump on that the train there or what is it? Come up to bat, so to speak with Brolin?

Dawn Brolin 1:47
Let’s go, let’s go. Run’s with Beverly Lang today. And I’m excited because Beverly, you have done amazing things in your career. You’ve gone from here to there to there, and now you’re at the top of the world. And most importantly, Happy belated birthday from the Dawn Brolin. I was so excited for you. You ended up going somewhere. What was your little plan? What did you do?

Bev Lang 2:09
We actually went yesterday with my son and his little friend, we went and played Top Golf and I have laughed so hard. It was the best day ever. It was overcast, it was cool. There was a breeze blowing and I had two quirky teenagers and we just had a ball.

Dawn Brolin 2:26
I love that. That’s awesome. And you have historically done a lot of fun things with your son like getting in your in your RV and traveling all over the place and drive wherever the heck you want. Right. So that’s an awesome.

Bev Lang 2:39
Have a laptop, will travel. So I can work from anywhere with technology even before COVID I was completely mobile, and wasn’t going to leet, let work keep me from being able to do the fun thing. So yes. Well, you know, we just sold our RV though. So we got new adventures coming, just bought to 15 acres of land. Have our own little domicile there and see what comes with that.

Dawn Brolin 3:04
And I love that. So you’ve been so people always ask about the life work balance thing, right? And it’s kind of like, you know, my whole thing was, well, I’m going to go coach a softball team during tax season, because that makes sense. And you’re hoping you’re part of what you’re all about is again, this that mobility perspective that people like we knew this before. COVID. Right. And so now it’s like, people talk about work life balance, and how do you do it? And it’s like, you know what, you have to make a decision, and you just got to go do it.

Bev Lang 3:33
That’s it, you know that’s it.

Dawn Brolin 3:34
You can’t talk about it. And so you have you have done some amazing things for many people in the industry. And I will say definitely, for us a powerful accounting. Amanda was your biggest fan. Although I say I’m your biggest fan. But red, red was all about Beverly, I mean, but you were instrumental in helping us understand we were in the Q SP program. Previously, we’re not any longer but when we were we just we really struggled to figure things out. And I felt like you were able to give us Mote the motivation to do better. And you were there to support us and that’s tell me about how you feel about that. Because that’s really important for all of us in this industry to realize that we are all here for each other and we can do great things for each other.

Bev Lang 4:18
We, we have to be. So I mean there’s let’s be honest, in the QSP environment, there is that clique-ish high school mentality. There’s some people that don’t play well with others. But the way I see it, there’s enough work out there for all of us. And so when read come to me and said I don’t know how you do it. Well here let me help you that that’s what I like to do is teach people how to do what I do. It’s very easy to be able to go out and talk to a customer about a product you love a product that you feel confident in and sell the customer and support the customer using said products. So I feel like we should be able to call each other and there’s been many times late late at night you and I’ve been texting or Facebook message Okay, what do I do about this Dawn, and you’re telling me how to handle something and vice versa? We got to be there for each other. Otherwise, you know, as cliche as it is our motto in the KSP industry is hashtag better together. And we are absolutely, we can’t always be rockstars at everything. That’s why we got to find your niche and find those people. That compliment us like you and I.

Dawn Brolin 5:21
Absolutely. And that’s, like, I mean, you think about the people who have like you, I’ll say you’ve grown up with we’ve all kind of grown up with each other in a little bit of a way, right? I mean, you know, thinking about the days of the Q SP, we’d like Rebecca Brandenburg, of course, she’s with Avalara. Now, and you know, what she was able to do for that program. And so many other people that came before her Simon and all kinds of different people who add into it, I find that it’s so easy to build those relationships, because they, I feel like Intuit doesn’t hire jerks, if that makes sense. Right? For the most part, I would say…

Bev Lang 5:56
For the most part, there’s been a few, but for the most part, they really, truly want to see us succeed. And they really want to work with us. And so yeah, I mean, I started with Simon pass, back in 2009. He signed me up, he, you know, he left the channel and went, went on his merry little way. And now he’s come full circle back to being part of the channel. So you know, and I never lost that relationship with him,so…

Dawn Brolin 6:23
And really you know, and so, of course, we’re going to definitely shift into the conversation of Fishbowl, because, you know, I went up there to do the filming for the Summit. And I’ve an even since I met the fishbowl called the Fishbowl guys, for the most part there guys, except for Kim. Now we see Kim a little bit more, which is great. But it’s like, I feel like I Intuit was my first real introduction to applications, accounting software, whatever. But I’ll say vendors for lack of a better description, where I like was like, these guys are like a family like these people. I feel like I can really count on these people when it gets down to it. And I need something. And I had the same feeling about the fishbowl guys, I say the visual fishbowl environment. Very, very welcoming, very, very intense when it comes to serving their clients and their customers. And I think that that if you’re in so for people who do listen to the show, a lot of people are looking for what are those apps we should be looking for? What are the good, the bad, the ugly of what we should be considering? And for me, one of the biggest things is can I work with them? Are they accessible? Are they willing to have a conversation if we’ve got an issue, or if we’re just, you know, looking for some help on how to maybe close a sale or whatever. And they’re always so open to have that conversation that’s so important to me. Now you have an amazing relationship with fishbowl. And I do want to hear like the history of Beverly Lange, from when Beverly started back when she was a baby baby because she’s only like 32 as of yesterday. So I mean ish. Like, forget it, right? 24 I know, I was really, I mean, I felt like I needed to be, oh, you’re still a baby. When you hit once you hit the top of the hill, man, that’s where I’m at.

Bev Lang 8:09
I’m still climbing the hill!

Dawn Brolin 8:10
Climb it, climb it, climb it! But I want to hear about Beverly Lange’s journey. And a lot of people like to hear the journeys because it’s relatable. And tell us some of the good, the bad and the ugly that you’ve gone through since your inception of, you know, being in business for yourself, and in this space of accounting.

Bev Lang 8:27
Well, I started with another key USP and at the time, I didn’t know what a key USP was. I was working under him selling, selling a lot and didn’t have a clue that he was getting paid for every sale that I made. Okay. And when I found that out, it kind of rubbed me the wrong way. I was like, wait a minute, like you could have at least told me what we’re doing. And we could set the structure. And so he took me to my first scaling new heights back in 2009. Okay, wow, I met Simon pass and found out about the reseller program. Okay. And I said, You know what, at that time you had to pay to play it was a grant to sign up. I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna take a gamble on me. Yeah, and the other chsp who shall not be named just like you can’t do that. There can’t be two of us in high school. I was like, watch me. He says you’ll never make it. Here I am today, selling a million dollars plus, and he still sell on the 100 150. So who made who do Am I work with? I worked with Simon and I just dug in. I worked a full time job for the first two or three years and started making a little bit of money. I was like, You know what, you can really do this. You could really make money just selling QuickBooks. So I quit my full time job and went all in and got a new cam, which was staff and we grew 578% The next year. I agree. 332%. And so over the course of three years, I’ve built my book of business to where I am. I met fishbowl at scale. New Heights Bahamas which was what, five, six years ago? Yes. Took them kind of it with a grain of salt. It’s like a It’s another software I’ll check it out. I really like the guys. They seem very personable. Okay, close was a great guy Kendrick, and so got to learn a little bit more started making a couple sales. I was like, You know what, this is really good software and I don’t have a whole lot in my partner stack. It was QuickBooks, Fishbowl, Avolera. That was it. And, you know, I wanted to be really good at all of those became their reseller for the last three or four years. And they finally came to me in May. They’re like, You know what? We’re like ice cream, and whipped topping, like, you’re the cherry, we got to put it all together, how do we make this one company? And I jokingly said, You know what, you can’t afford me, you know, this ain’t never gonna work. He’s like, throw me some numbers out two months later, I’m a full time employee that required my company, all of my employees, and we now have a QuickBooks channel at Fishbowl.

Dawn Brolin 11:00
That is so awesome! And because QuickBooks and fishbowl are buddies like, right? It’s a natural, it’s a natural conversion from thinking that QuickBooks is going to manage all of those inventory leads correct. And I’ve always said, listen, QuickBooks Enterprise is phenomenal. It is awesome. It’s, it can do so much for you, it gets to a point where it can’t. And so and maybe that is just not the right fit. So I find that like, and I’m sure you do, too. When you’re working with clients, you’re trying to help them with the solutions that you know are the best for them. I always tell people, I try to meet them where they are, and then bring them into, “Hey, listen, are you ready to be a legitimate company?” Yeah, right. “Are you? Are you ready to run this right?” And I think that that’s where we, as the consultants run into sometimes challenges because we have this conflict conflict of, oh, I don’t want to spend all this money. Well, number one, Fishbowl is extremely affordable. Let’s be real. I mean, honestly. But not only that, it’s not just affordable. It’s what the client needs at the end of the day. And it’s not an expense, it’s an investment. And I have this conversation, right? With the clients, you’re not spending money on fishbowl, you’re investing money in your inventory, which by the way, it makes you that is your product, man. Without it, you’ve got nothing you’re out of business.

Bev Lang 12:20
Well, just like they say you have to spend a little money to make money. And that’s true, if you really want to take it to the next level. We as consultants have to look at the customer and where they’re at today, and where they want to be in six months, 12 months, 18 months. And if it means okay, we need to push them in fishbowl because that’s where they want to be in 18 months, that’s better than putting them on QuickBooks now, then having to cater to what it can and can’t do, and then turn around and having to push them too quick to fishbowl again in a year. So that’s not the best for the customer. Now I love into it, I am number one into it fan into it. and QuickBooks is capable of meeting the needs of the drivers. That’s where I’m going to stop. But nine times out of 10. If they’re heavy manufacturing, or they’re into the three PL or they’re into distribution, QuickBooks just doesn’t offer all the bells and whistles that are needed. And so the best solution out there that I have found, and I have tried them all is visual, whether they’re quick, yes, desktop or cubio. And so then we can even reduce them, maybe they don’t need enterprise anymore. Maybe they just need QuickBooks Online. So because all the heavy lifting is going to come out of fishbowl, right. And so we really want to look at the customer and right fit the customer, whatever that means.

Dawn Brolin 13:34
Right? So now if we think back, we pull back a little bit, and we think of the 2009. And the experience you had with the Q SP being a partner and things like that, it was easy for you to be motivated to kick ass. Let’s just be honest about that. Right. So So with that, as your journey went on, I’m imagining that your MO, a lot of your motivation came from being able to fulfill the needs of your clients, right?

Bev Lang 13:58
Absolutely, absolutely.

Dawn Brolin 14:00
I mean, without clients, we have nothing, we’re consulting with no one, if that even makes sense. But but at the end of the day, you built yourself an empire and you were the lead in that. And how many employees did you get up to at one point?

Bev Lang 14:14
Umm, six.

Dawn Brolin 14:16
Six employees, and they were implementing…

Bev Lang 14:19
QuickBooks, Fishbowl, filled service management, payroll, because I’ve always been one of the top providers of payroll. I think Cary Kahn and I go back and forth quite a bit. But yeah, for the for a long time. It was always me in the payroll industry, right. I work hand in hand with Intuit on product development for both enterprise cubio payroll. We just had a Payroll Certification release. I don’t know if everybody knows that. But there’s a new certification, a new badge. It’s bright pink. Everybody’s gonna love it. But it’s payroll. And it I wrote I helped write that. So everyone needs to go learn that because it talks to the product and it talks about being a payroll specialist. So if you want to provide payroll, go get certified so that you can show your knowledge and your wealth to your customer.

Dawn Brolin 15:07
You know, and I love that you talked about that, because I did see an email that had come out that that was coming down the pike and knowing that that’s out there. If there’s anything that it’s that is important, when it comes to us as consultants or bookkeepers, or CPAs, it doesn’t really matter what it is, the biggest things are compliance, right? So having that, that being in compliance at all times payroll is a stinking nightmare. If you want to provide payroll services, you got to obtain every ounce of knowledge that you possibly can certainly with Intuit having that relationship with Intuit, whoever your your contact is there with regards to payroll, and making sure that you have that conversation. Because payroll, guess what, here’s one thing that I’ve realized about payroll, no matter how well you do it, how often you do it, how good you are at it, you’re going to get notices.

Bev Lang 15:56
Yes. Different, right, wrong, or indifferent. That’s it.

Dawn Brolin 16:00
Yep. And the client is going to look to you as the payroll provider, whether you outsource full service, whatever that may look like for you. Or if you’re actually literally doing payroll, handling quarterly things like that, which the cost of the technology these days, and the ability to have that full service is a no brainer. But still knowing how to set them up knowing where they need withholding registrations, because no payroll service that I’ve seen, are actually providing the service to those withholding registrations and Department of Labor and they hire a new employee in another state, you don’t know about it, and there’s no withholding and no unemployment, or if there’s no holding, if it’s applicable. But that’s just such a big thing. And with Fishbowl, the compliance area that we’re concerned about a sales tax, right, we’ve got distribution, we’ve got all of this crossover…

Bev Lang 16:49
Postal, drop ship, you need to know where there’s tax, and that’s where Avalara, as you mentioned before, comes in, we have a great integration tool. And Avalara is the leader, by far in the industry of maintaining compliance with both sales tax use tax, and keeping your sales tax exempt certificates in compliance so that you know which ones are dated and which ones are out of date. So yes, compliance is a big issue in the manufacturing in the wholesale industry. And we have solved by that by using Avalara.

Dawn Brolin 17:23
Absolutely. And I find that, you know, certainly for me, my compliance area that I deal with is tax returns and tax representation. I don’t want it to go any further. So that’s why I partner I personally partner with ADP, and I partner with Avalara. But Intuit just the same, it doesn’t matter. As long as you’re partnering with somebody who again, I think the most important thing about the vendors and I mentioned this before about fishbowl is the relationship you have with that vendor. Right? Right. Because if you can’t get problem solved timely, there’s penalties and interest involved here, and we’re talking significant. So having that ability. So tell walk me a little bit through what is your who is your ideal fishbowl client, like if you were to say, okay, here, these are the ideal people, they’re out there, obviously, anybody that’s like you said in distribution or manufacturing and things like that. But you know, give, I would love to hear a case where you’ve got this client, and they were just a train wreck, because that’s usually how we get them. We don’t get them because they’re doing great!

Bev Lang 18:23
If they’re doing right, no. We get ’em because it’s a mess.

Dawn Brolin 18:28
It’s about… so talk me through one.

Bev Lang 18:30
I had a customer in Seattle, Washington medical manufacturing, didn’t have a system in place, decided to go with QuickBooks, we looked at QuickBooks and decided that it wasn’t robust enough. So we implemented Fishbowl. Customer has been up and running for a year, and they they absolutely love it, they have grown, it has grown with them, it has allowed them to create specific processes for each division within within the receiving within the inventory control within, you know, quality, outsourcing it to other third party vendors for value add. And so it’s allowed them to keep track and because they’re in the medical industry, they are so heavily regulated by the FDA, that it keeps all of that reporting that’s required allows them to track by lot number, serial number, whatever they need to, so that they can do a recall if necessary, which knock on wood, there hasn’t been one. But it gives them that capability. And so it has really helped this company come full circle with their inventory management, and making sure that they’re ready to grow as quickly and growing, so a great solution for this company.

Dawn Brolin 19:43
Yeah, and so interesting, too, because you’ll find that clients come to you and there do you find that they’re more price conscious or they feel like you know what, we’re ready to get a system that we know is going to work because they’ve been stumbling with workarounds which by the way, we are kings and queens have workarounds, right? But when you can get a real true system like Fishbowl, it’s always the better solution. Always.

Bev Lang 20:08
I would say they’re about 50/50. Most of them come, they’re mad because they’ve been stumbling. And they can’t find that one system that works. But they’re still price conscious. So fishbowl has done a really great job at increasing the features, making sure that everything is as robust as it can be, but still a price point that is palatable, something that I can afford to do something that the mom and pop onesie twosies can afford, as well as things. We try to offer bundled pricing with implementation QuickBooks support, because they need to integrate the two systems, we want to teach them upfront before it becomes an issue. And so we do some bundle packaging. And then we usually have some great financing offers, you know, 0% down for 12 months or whatever to hell, right, that small business or that price conscious customer or cashflow with cash flow issues, to still be to afford the software that they need. And then right like you said, you’re you’re only as good as your support, we can sell the greatest product in the world. Let’s sell a Lamborghini. But if you don’t put that key in, in the engine crank, it don’t matter how pretty it looks it run. So we have to be able to support and we do we have multiple support divisions and teams. We want to make sure the customer is taken care of we’re working hand in hand with the Fishbowl rep on the QB side to make sure that everything is talking the way it’s supposed to.

Dawn Brolin 21:32
Yeah. And so that’s a good question too. I want to ask you, as far as, like implementation, when somebody comes to fishbowl like, obviously I said everything to Beverly, because why would I go work around anywhere else, right. So you can also anybody that’s listening, if you want to hook up with fishbowl and get some more insight into that just reach out to Beverly, she’s all over the place, social media, you name it, she’s there, she drives around an RV that she just sold, which is going to build on a property, we should probably have some kind of a retreat for all of us to come to. But in the meantime..

Bev Lang 22:03
Yeah we could do that! Once the house is built. we can we could have a, what would everybody do? We can just all are out on the property?

Dawn Brolin 22:11
Well I think that’s what we’re also excited about Scaling New Heights is actually be able to get to be face to face with people.

Bev Lang 22:15
What seeing somebody? Yes, because it’s been what two years now?

Dawn Brolin 22:18
Tt has been two years! I went to engage. And it was great. I got to see Deb Defer, I got to see, I’m just Todd was there and just a bunch of people, Amy Selleck, from ADP, just a bunch of people, it was kind of like, oh my gosh, like Todd Robinson, who I love very much. Just being able to get to be in front of people, again, was just like, we’re real people. Again, I kind of forgot right now. And now I think if you think about COVID, and the impact of COVID on those manufacturers, wholesalers, all those kind of people who it’s 100% touchless. And it’s in a little bit of a way, and it has been for a year and a half, almost two years now. That’s something that people need to take into consideration when they’re considering what am I going to do about my inventory supply chain, or being able to distribute and get things out and not have to have that human human touch, unfortunately, right. So so tell me a little bit more about how that kind of plays in and what you’ve seen over the last year and a half with regards to, you know, the COVID response from for those that industry.

Bev Lang 23:24
Well, fishbowl pivoted very quickly after COVID hit and designed some really great virtual implementations. For those that couldn’t go on site. We also have developed quite a few more integrations, we’ve seen a lot of spike in people having websites or online presence, so that they could sell their product. And so for that fact, we have integrations with Shopify, you know, webgility, we have other shopping carts that we can work with so that we can bring that information down into fishbowl verify that the inventories there, process the order and then push that over to QuickBooks. With the training and support, we’ve really gotten some fine tuned processes in place, so that we can make sure the customer is still taking care of even though it’s virtually through a computer. And we’ve been very successful at implementing Fishbowl virtually. And so that makes the customer happy. It’s cheaper on the customer, the quality is still just as good. And getting up and running. We’ve seen us I would say we’ve seen a spike in the number of people that are moving to fishbowl because during this COVID time, people actually have time to stop and look at their accounting and what’s not working and actually fix some of those issues so that when we come out of this tailspin, they’re already set for success. And that’s what we’re hoping to see is our customers just sail through with great sales moving forward.

Dawn Brolin 24:49
And you know, I think certainly with because of the COVID pandemic having that it’s got to be good information, more than it ever has had been before. Although we’ve always we’ve been talking about this Ever as in the accounting industry of, you know, I was saying yesterday to Gaynor, I’m like, Listen, if you’re not recording, you are not properly reporting. And it’s just like anything else with inventory. You know, from a tax perspective, there’s tax implications when it comes to your inventory. You know, I had this one client, they happen to be a liquor store, and he would at year end, buy a ton of inventory. He’s like, I’m getting it on sale, it’s gonna be great. And I also can reduce my costs, I can reduce my bottom line. That’s not how inventory works, buddy!

Bev Lang 25:32
No that’s not how it work! That’s perpetual.

Dawn Brolin 25:35
Inventory is perpetual, it’s gonna sit on that balance sheet, and it’s not going to affect your cost of goods sold. He didn’t understand it. And so I feel like people are now starting to give inventory the right attention.

Bev Lang 25:51
Right. There’s a lot of customers that don’t really understand why buy and sell it. But there’s so much more that goes into that. There’s so they like, what are all these journal entries? Well, it doesn’t just go straight from I bought it, I sold it, like there’s a lot between, you know, so you know, educating people, which is what I enjoy doing is teaching them how the system works, and how the two work together so that they can understand the reports they get.

Dawn Brolin 26:18
Yeah, and they’ve just got to realize that that value of inventory is from a succession planning perspective, which a lot of people I just find that people don’t think about. What are you gonna do with the future that inventory on your balance sheet is going to help you sell you’re, hopefully, hopefully we see inventory turnover ratios turning and turning and churning, right? Because without that we’re sitting on dead inventories. Also No, good, right. That’s no good. So I think that again, like you said, I think people are starting to say, hey, I really do need a good inventory system, I need to make sure that I’m understanding what my numbers are, that they are accurate…

Bev Lang 26:55
Absolutely, trends. What did I do this time last year? What do I need to you know, budget for in the next six months. So you can look at cash flows you can look at during the analysis, and you can see exactly what you’re return is.

Dawn Brolin 27:08
Absolutely. And being prepared for this coming holiday season, which I think I’m hoping that those who are selling products online, because like you said, people are moving more online, because it’s not so brick and mortar anymore. People need to be able to get to your store. But they also don’t want to get to your store online, and buy something that isn’t in stock. And if you don’t have your inventory system up to date, so that you know, you have 10 in stock, and you actually do have 10 in stock, because you can go to a bin and check it that people are in line are being discouraged because you never have stuff in inventory. And that’s not because of anything other than I would say, lack of investment in the business that you’re trying to be successful in. You know..

Bev Lang 27:52
That’s correct. Especially with all these that I’ve picked up Amazon and eBay, and Etsy as resellers, we have plans for those so that we can help manage that Amazon. While it’s probably one of the the most common selling platforms, it’s very intimidating for someone who doesn’t understand how to reconcile because there’s a fee for this a fee for that, you know, so having the knowledge to understand and have that talk to to Fishbowl so that your inventory value stay correct imparitive to keeping your financials accurate on the QuickBooks side.

Dawn Brolin 28:28
So now, Beverly, now…

Bev Lang 28:31
Now Dawn!

Dawn Brolin 28:32
Now honey..

Bev Lang 28:32
Now honey…

Dawn Brolin 28:34
God I love you, Beverly!

Bev Lang 28:35
I love you, too.

Dawn Brolin 28:36
So now that you’ve made this amazing transition from owning your own company, having it been acquired, and that whole process, how do you like how is your life today as opposed to what it was say five years ago? Even? Like, just in general like your, your Do you? I mean, I can I know you I know how excited you are about being at Fishbowl. And I know that you have, obviously they know you have what it takes to take their company to a whole nother level which you already have done in a very short period of time. And I think a lot of that is because of your experience, and your compassion and your passion to solve these problems for people because I think I forget who I was talking to the other day, we really are people pleasers, right. And so here’s what do you what do you find has kind of changed for you as, as anything changed.

Bev Lang 29:28
A lot has changed. I mean, it’s a complete different mentality going from business owner to employee. So I feel like now I have to kind of prove myself even though I’m putting that on myself, because I’ve already proven myself. But I still have a stress level. I still work but now I have like six or seven under me that I need to make sure you’re taking care of our team is phenomenal. We’re like family and we are growing by leaps and bounds. We’re adding another employee next next week. Okay. And so I’m hoping I’m giving myself six months, another couple of weeks, a couple of months. And I’m hoping that the the work life balance shifts. And then I’m back. Sure even more even playing field because I’ve got all these great people around me like my great Tina and Maracore. Tiffany and Casey, all these great employees that, you know, I’m teaching, not that they don’t know how to do it, but just teaching them what I’ve learned in my years within teacher, my best practices, and then we’re finding our best practices. And I think we can grow this team without us all having to work 80 hour weeks.

Dawn Brolin 30:36
Sure, sure. Which is obvious. I mean, you have a young one, you just have a son, right?

Bev Lang 30:42
Well, does my ex husband count? So then I have like, two?

Dawn Brolin 30:48
You can never you can never change that. And so being able to spend more time, oh, he’s 14, right. I knew he was a teenager. So because you’ve made the reference to the golf outing. But are you finding like, alright, I like for myself, even having that ability to spend that quality time with him is like priceless. And, you know, your motivation, I’m sure is to continue to provide for him in ways that, you know, he needs right as a teenage boy, I’m sure there’s plenty of I had girls, so I can’t imagine I mean, the boy thing.

Bev Lang 31:21
My situation is probably a little bit different. Noah doesn’t want to spend any time with me. He’s at that age where moms are not cool unless he needs money. Okay. But Noah was also diagnosed with narcolepsy at 12. Okay, okay. We have we’re really not sure what the future holds. We’re still trying to figure that out as we don’t right. But we actually went looking for him his first car yesterday. And yes, I know. He’s only 14. He’s fixed to turn 15. But I drive an Audi that he drives an Audi. He ain’t driving our cars. So we gotta go. We gotta go get him a car. So you need a leader. That’s what we were looking for something that he can learn to drive in? Because he’s not getting in mine.

Dawn Brolin 32:04
He’s not touching Mama’s car!

Bev Lang 32:07
I don’t think the Gator counts, because I don’t think you can drive that on the road, the little aka utility vehicle. So but yes, my whole thing was I wanted to set myself up for retirement. I have said for the past few years, I wanted to retire at 50. I’m now set to retire at 52.

Dawn Brolin 32:25
That I love that. That’s yeah, my goal is 55. So my goal is to retire 55 Because my dad retired at 55. It’s it’s more of a personal goal, because I want to be like my dad, right? We all have that. So for you, Beverly, if you think back in the history of your career, or your life or whatever, who was somebody who inspired you motivated, you picked you up when you were down? Whatever that case, may be you have a person that that fills that role for you.

Bev Lang 32:58
I do I have a couple of people actually. So motivation comes from two different places. I have the one the key USP that I work for at first that told me I couldn’t and I don’t like to be told I can’t do anything. That’s all you know, that lit a fire because I’m like, I’m going to show you and I think yeah, but then I have a probably my best friend Holly who was my English professor in college. Oh, we connected because I got my first essay back and I only got a 90. And I wanted to so I asked for a meeting. And I wanted to know what I had to do to get those other 10 points that I wanted to a plus not a minus. And she’s like, Are you kidding me? You’re the only student asking me how to get a better a. So she worked with me so that I got an A plus in that class. And we just hit it off. And we’ve been friends for years. So but she’s, she’s like my voice of reason. Whenever I’m starting to go off the deep end or I’m spinning out of control. I call her it’s like okay, I need you to talk me off the ledge like, help me here. What do I do? And she’s always got my back and she’s always got the right words of wisdom just when I need them.

Dawn Brolin 34:11
I love that, and just so you know you are that person for other people. I know for sure for me, you have always inspired me to like be better do better. I almost kind of think of it like what don’t I know more than anything? It’s because you know, obviously we know what we what we know. You are a very big inspiration to Amanda. She really looks up to you still does we I text her every once in a while and she’s always asking me if you see Beverly and I can’t wait to send her a picture. We’ll have to do that. Yes. We’re gonna text her a picture for sure.

Bev Lang 34:43
You know, I could say the same about you Dawn though. I have a ton us Rebecca Branberg. I still call her, Jamie Dimon and Avalara. Like, there’s so many of us in our community that we’re so tight knit, Gina from Intuit. Oh, like we’re just family and like if nothing happens Like I could pick up the phone and call you in the middle of the night, you didn’t answer the heartbeat, I do the same thing for you. And so there’s, you know, there’s so there’s those few that we have connected with. yet. I think we, we build on each other, you know, and we have other and that’s the way it should be. There shouldn’t be this whole USP, I can’t talk to you, because you might steal my client. Look, if I can take your client, they weren’t your client to begin with. Bang, done that. I’m not looking for you to steal your client like right, you know, but if I can, they weren’t yours to begin with, so…

Dawn Brolin 35:34
It’s it’s funny you say that too. Because Mama said to me, mama, mama still miss mama, that Mama, she’s never going I told her you have to be dead before you leave me honey, because she keeps this whole company moving forward. And I said to her the other day I said, Oh, my I It’s so strange. We haven’t been getting any leads this week. Because we’ve been getting since COVID. started, we’d get in one to two to five a week, we have new either people with issues with tax returns or need to get tax prep, or whatever the case may be. She’s like, Oh, I’m a little worried. I said, Mama. I don’t remember the last day I came into the office and called you and said, Hey, I don’t have anything to do. Like that just goes to the whole, like, there’s so much work out there that we can all help each other. Right?

Bev Lang 36:18
That’s right. That’s right, there’s enough work for us all. And is enough, I believe if QSP’s would lean on each other a little bit more, we can all have a better work life balance. Because there’s things that I don’t like to do that I would gladly pass off to someone else. Absolutely. My customer was safe, and that they’re just going to do this work. And they’re going to come to me for whatever, because that’s how I would treat other people in their customers. Like if you ask me a customer for Fishbowl, I’m only going to talk to them about Fishbowl. If they need QuickBooks, I’m going to come back to you and say, Hey, this is what your customer needs. Can you go sell this customer that? Like I’m not gonna steal–

Dawn Brolin 36:55
Beverly, could you just handle it?

Bev Lang 37:00
I’m not gonna like a sale, sale. There’s too much out there for me to build a retai– or reputation like that I wanted your own for being honest, loyal and helpful. Nothing other than that.

Dawn Brolin 37:10
Absolutely. Absolutely. So listen, it’s always a pleasure to spend time with you. Is there are there any last words you want to want the listeners to hear from my dear friend Beverly Lang.

Bev Lang 37:22
Just if you have inventory needs and QuickBooks is not cutting it, rr you think maybe QuickBooks is not the best solution. Reach out to me at Fishbowl. I’ll be happy to try to answer any of your questions. And then make sure you go pick up a book for Dawn, pick that book up and show him one more time, Dawn, and I’m waiting on my autographed copy. I’m sure I’m right.

Dawn Brolin 37:44
Okay, I’m bringing it to you. But the new book is going to be out by scaling. Yes, designate motivator for accounting professionals. And really, it’s all about helping pick the industry up helping people see that there are other things you can be doing if you don’t love what you’re doing. Beverly loved what she was doing, but found she could do bigger and better have she joined forces with fishbowl and sometimes that’s a great move as well. Right? Right. Right. So Well, thank you so much for coming on. Beverly, I love you dearly. What would Beverly do? Reach out to Beverly if you need anything for fishbowl or call me and I’ll send you to Beverly, whatever, whatever you may need. But that’s what we’re here for. So thanks again for everybody for listening to the VM disruption and we’ll talk to you next time and go out there. Figure out that work life balance and enjoy yourself. That’s what we’re all what life’s all about. Thanks again. Everybody was ready, honey. Let me fly back.

I hope you enjoyed this podcast. Feel free to visit in order to motivate you to improve your practice. Wishing you all the best. Have a great day.

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Episode Summary

Ariel Sandell, Chief of Cyber Security and Compliance for Securex, provides insights on IRS security requirements for CPA firms and talks about motivating others with Dawn Brolin, CPA, CFE, The Designated Motivator for Accounting Professionals. Want to know how to better secure your client’s data? Listen now to hear advice from a leading industry expert!

Ariel’s Introduction

Ariel Sandell, Chief of Cyber Security and Compliance Consultant for Securex, talks about how his company ensures their accountants meet their cyber security and compliance requirements. He talks about how important it is to protect our client’s sensitive data, and how his company can advise how to build the proper security.

New IRS Security Requirements and Importance of Proper Security

Ariel also discusses how the IRS has implemented new security measures that many accountants are not aware of, and how his company can help make sure accounting professionals are in compliance.

Dawn also talks about how even if accounting professionals and companies use a cloud based solution for all their software, you still need to ensure that every aspect of data that is being uploaded is being safeguarded on a secure server.

Ariel also talks about how his service allows accounting professionals to adapt their current software and programs to be more secure and in compliance with the IRS. He also talks about how his company can help reveal improper security measures within cloud based companies, such as a company’s password list being unknowingly uploaded to the cloud unsecurly. 

Importance of Proper Passwords Management

Ariel discusses with Dawn how important it is to have proper password management, and how many companies don’t realize they are often storing passwords and data improperly.

He talks about how many people leave physical access to their computers and servers open, and how that is one of the most dangerous things a perpetrator can have access to. He talks about how his company can securely safeguard your physical computers and ensure the data stays secure, even if the laptop is stolen.

Importance of Trust

Dawn and Ariel talk about how important it is to safeguard our clients information, and how we must always uphold the trust our clients give us.

Check out Ariel Sandell and Securex!


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Dawn Brolin 0:01
Hello everyone and welcome to the DM Disruption. I’m the host Dawn Brolin. I’m a certified public accountant, Certified Fraud Examiner, and the author of the designated motivator. We’re here to help motivate you to take your practice to the next level.

Have you considered outsourcing your clients payroll? Well, I did and I went with ADP. The resources they provide, along with their partner program become the premier outsourcing Payroll solution. We as practitioners already deal with a ton of compliance. Keeping Up With payroll isn’t a value added solution that I should be focused on. If you’ve considered outsourcing before, reconsider it today. Choose ADP to be part of your starting lineup.

So hello, everybody, and welcome to the DM disruption. We’re here excited today to have Ariel from Secure X, who’s going to help us understand the motivation behind having a secure system. Now we as practitioners, of course, are the forefront for our clients were their trusted advisors, and we, you know, have the keys to their castle. But guess what, people we got to protect that castle for our clients. And in order to do that, we have to rely on people like Secure X, who can help us make sure that our cybersecurity insurance is valid and things like that, which Ariel is going to explain all those fun things for us. But first of all, Ariel, thank you so much for coming. Tell us a little bit about yourself, and what motivated you to move in this direction to solve these problems for many practitioners and many, many people out there.

Ariel Sandell 1:34
Great. First of all, thank you so much for having me. So first of all, was before most of Originally, I’m from Canada, Ottawa, Canada. So we will sometimes ask about an accent. Okay, I have one, but you know, so and basically, I’m the Chief cybersecurity, and compliance consultant for secure x. We’re based out of Howell New Jersey. And basically, we service almost exclusively accountants to help them meet their cybersecurity and compliance requirements. Now, when I say compliance requirements, a lot of time you get what compliance requirements? So the answer is actually the several that has to start with the federal the IRS, they have requirements that you have the practitioner, you know, if you have a PTI number, which you know, other practitioner does, they have to when you knew that you’re actually affirming your obligation, there’s one of the boxes that they now put in there, just from the last year that you when you check off that box to compete, and you actually are affirming the obligation to have a written security plan, and to protect your clients information. So it’s not just you know, about having, you know, we have security, but they want to see, they want that you have to plan for the security for the security of your firm, which ultimately means that your clients, so you have the IRS, they require written security plan, IRS goes on to say that not just any security plan, they want it based on their risk assessment. So there’s no you take a thorough inventory of what you have, what you don’t, and you know, what the risks involved are. So they have acquired from the IRS. They also have requirements, the same requirements from the Federal Trade Commission, which often works hand in hand with the IRS, every taxpayer has to have that written security plan and risk assessment. And many states that you want example, New York State now requires that you have a written security plan, again, with a risk assessment for to protect your client is the sensitive information you had with your clients. Then when it comes to them, that’s just from a compliance perspective, or from a legal standpoint. Of course, from a cybersecurity perspective, every accountant knows how much you know, practitioner knows how much sensitive information they have, you know, you’re doing such a tremendous service as an accountant to the world. There’s no time without showing you more, you know, during the pandemic, which is, thank god studying to tape it down in many places, but you know, it’s still here, and, and especially in the thick of it, and even now, with all the new programs and updates every minute, literally sold people’s livelihood, you know, in your hands, the amount of sensitive information that practitioners have. That’s something that you know, on its own, you know, when I believe you want to protect it, and safeguard it, that’s the lifeblood of the client. It’s the lifeblood of the firm as well, you know, without any information with any computers and systems, you know, that’s dead wood, then water. So, basically, we could help advise accounting firms specifically how to have a cybersecurity framework, and we help them develop their cybersecurity plan, the documentation of it and the various assessments and In addition, the plan that we give, and the assessment that we provide is to help them also comply with these regulations as well. That’s why we say security, cybersecurity and compliance, because you want to ultimately have cybersecurity that’s compliant and compliance. That’s also secure.

Dawn Brolin 5:21
And so I think you know, this, what’s really funny, as we do all these podcasts and all these episodes about motivating people to help their firm get better. And really, this one, kind of a no brainer, this isn’t a you don’t really, honestly, you don’t have a choice when it comes to this, like, you do hold social security numbers, you name it. And that’s why the IRS now is requiring people to have this plan written and in place, and it’s not really just about to have the plan. Okay, great. I’ve checked the box, I have the plan, but actually to protect the data. Right? So sometimes, Oh, I’m great. I checked the box. Okay, I’m fine. And off I go, I’m like moving on. No, right. It’s way bigger than that.

Ariel Sandell 5:57
Exactly. Right. So you’re spot on, though, it’s not just a matter of having a plan, you know, you have to know what they call them. The government calls, you know, people compliance. But they also want to know that you actually implement the plan that you have, and then put into place. That’s why we, the laws themselves, as accountants know that laws can sometimes be vague, vague and open to interpretation, you know, but when it comes to security, you know, you need to, you know, have a reasonable assurance and more that you’re secure. So, to help clients meet and exceed what they need, what we do is we look at the IRS themselves, they give a lot of recommendations of what they think, you know, we’ll meet, you know, the security compliance requirements, even though the legal standpoint, from the strict laws say they may not be written in stone, we certainly, you know, minimums, you know, generating more general not minimum, in general, kind of open to interpretation points, protection, and monitoring and detection, stuff like that, you know, those have to be put in place, or what’s called, you know, detection and, you know, protection, etc, of your systems and your staff, etc. So the IRS gives a lot of detailed guidance to that they, they also encourage practitioners look at various technical manuals that do the heavy, that are heavy, you know, cybersecurity content, to formulate the plan. So the offload that heavy lifting, you know, we, you know, we went through that ourselves, and we base the plan based on iOS recommendations. So that way, you know, the goal is that you should be able to meet and exceed, you know, the requirements and have robust security.

Dawn Brolin 7:37
Now, have you have you found at all through your, you know, I would say, you know, collaboration or working with accounting professionals, that a lot of them are just, I don’t know, this, this may not be true, but are they aware, like, of any of this? Or is this become a surprise to most practitioners? And you’re like, Hey, listen, you’re you’re talking to an account, like, these are the requirements with the IRS, which is fairly new, right, within the last year, year and a half or so. But are you finding people just like, shocked that this is a thing now?

Ariel Sandell 8:04
Yes, um, no, but largely, yes. It only came into the is when we gave an actual notice about this. December 2019. Literally, the last few days of December, and then they were very vocal about it at the beginning of 2020. And rolling out guidance on it, and, you know, April, and then the march, February, March area. And then, of course, you know, with a different world, you know, that time mobile changed and, right. I mean, obviously, a lot of that was, you know, put on the backburner for a lot of people. So, no, a lot of people are not aware of it. And especially, you know, a lot of practitioners, you know, for example, New York State, they’re not aware that in March 2020, it came into effect that the requirement to from state standpoint, to have a written security plan. So people are still the mistake, because, you know, obviously, New York State and it was busy grappling with the pandemic, right? Oh, no, we’re not aware of it. And also, a lot of people just don’t really know, the dynamics of security enough. Once explained to them, it’s like a no brainer to them, why they need this, you know, for example, I get a lot of times, I get people saying, I have a tax program, that’s, you know, as useless so that, you know, all tax whatever, you know, I use, isn’t that secure? Yes, but, uh, no, because, of course, they have a lot of safeguards on the front and on the back end. But, you know, at the end of the day, you’re signed into the program, anyone who can access your computer, right, you know, that’s a you know, it’s, it’s a it’s an end game. And there’s so much as I’m sure every practitioner knows, for dining time that you can also you also agree that there’s so much sensitive customer information in every email and on Word documents and excel That’s the lifeblood of a lot of accountants. Where’s the Excel going to? It’s going to a cloud with protection to that cloud, what do you have enabled, so the basically, the vital information spills out of the tax program, or doesn’t even get in the first place. And that’s also governed by these laws have to be protected. So question of why my tax program takes care of this needs a code to my phone, something like that. Good. And they see the compliance, so the compliant for whatever they need to be compliant for, but that doesn’t make you compliant, whatever you need to be compliant for.

Dawn Brolin 10:31
Exactly, you know, in a fine to that. You know, it for an example, we I was again, met with fishbowl last week, and we were talking with them a little bit about from a hosting perspective, people think that, Oh, I’m in a hosting solution. I’m all set. Well, guess what? You have to get to that hosting solution from your local machine. It’s not magic. And you’re right, like the sir. Yeah, you log into the cert to go into your tax software, but they’re not monitoring your technology in any capacity whatsoever. And so people I think, take kind of take for granted Oh, well, I’m always in the cloud, I use cubio, or I use, you know, all these other cloud based solutions. As a matter of fact, when you are someone who is primarily cloud based, and you’re not maybe not even using Ozean solution, you are the biggest threat out of I mean, like you go over the top when it comes to that. So for people to understand that this is not just a thing, this is required. And I think we as the practitioners have been, I mean, a little bit, I’ll say lakhs because I think they didn’t know, there were companies like secure X out there that could could do the evaluation, which I’m in the middle of right now, the evaluation of what does your tech look like? You know, how does it answer this? How does this work? And you can actually tell us, hey, you need to do things a certain way. Right? So that’s one of the part of the service that Secure X will do the evaluation to have that written plan that we talked about. But you’ll give action steps to say, hey, you might want to think about doing something this way. Right? Is that that’s part of what you guys are doing. Yep.

Ariel Sandell 11:58
Exactly. And in terms of has no so you know, but, you know, helps motivate me to help others. This is something which practitioners because also adapt to their own perspective, in terms of security in terms of their own business, the lives in life actually, is like this, I feel that very strongly that anyone has like a core value, and a core motive operation, the two different things to give example, you know, myself how it’s manifesting Secure X, I feel very much identify my day, much as a person who wants to help others wants to protect others, not just, you know, give them a plus, but also that to protect them from, you know, stress and pain, especially if the stress and pain is caused by, you know, bad actors, and, you know, you know, evil forces literally, that want to, you know, infiltrate the computer and use, you know, the internet and compare the Anon, anonymity is afforded by technology, to get away with whatever they want, sort of protect people against those threats. So it’s my desire to help them protect people, that motivates me, but also, my mode of operation is the detective and like the cop, you know, to solve puzzles, riddles, you know, because it is the thing that you can’t get past you can’t, you know, so. So I want to do my me find a way around, you know, and so, I see a client, you know, I don’t only want to help protect them, but I also see, you know, opportunity to I could use detective work to find out so where is the information hiding? Do you use this? Do you them? So many times clients have told me that so appreciative of the service we provide, because they weren’t aware that, you know, they’re storing tons of data would say, a window in the OneDrive as well. Yeah, because you excel, for example, is the it’s linked to your OneDrive. And it’s just there, and anyone could get it, just so you can access it from anywhere. So So do you know, a bad actor is it Oh, but I never do it, that doesn’t mean that someone else will try to. So and then appreciate that, you know, they were that they want to we have so many different kind of keys to the castle that are literally kind of lying in the open. So that so you get that core value of helping others protecting others, you know, and also, that mode of operation of detective work and thinking so a lot of practitioners can think like this, it was a different personality trait, some people viewing industrials, some practitioners that the mindset is, is I like to take something and grow and expand it toy with an idea and make it you know, alive whether for their own business for their clients. You know, it’s a different personality. So but frequent like this, I don’t really have to say I don’t care about security. I don’t know what the cipher text into web stuff is. But you do want to be industrious and grow your business grow your clients, help them thrive. So think of it from that mindset. And that string is a person who wants to help their business and their clients thrive and grow and make you know, have more sense more financial systems. Would it help if all the computers were locked up, and all the tax returns, information was stolen and they can find the file? You just did, but you can’t find it, would that help anyone’s industry? I don’t think so. So, from that perspective that will leverage them, they can leverage that mindset, that core value, they enter being industrious and the mode of operation to go a bit out of the comfort zone. So, you know, it’s a, you know, another example, you know, people, you know, sometimes people in the cybersecurity industry, you know, not everyone’s different, but sometimes they can be more, you know, less less of the outgoing type, you know, more focused on the security of the task right in front of us. And, sometimes we know, but it’s, we actually use that, you know, that I use that core value, right now, and I’m gonna push the personal note, I use that core value of wanting to help people, and you do it and through detective work, etc, to get the word out, and, you know, promote, you know, what needs to be promoted to that get actually help others. So to get out of my comfort zone, so to speak. So that’s, you know, that’s something I’ve always drawn. And I try to incorporate into Secure X.

Dawn Brolin 16:04
And, you know, I think that that’s one of the pieces that we sometimes as practitioners are missing, like, Yeah, we don’t really understand how does somebody really hack are? Well, we have passwords, and passwords are a big problem, right? For many practitioners, they’ve got them on a notebook, or they have it like you were saying in an Excel spreadsheet, linked to a one drive or a doesn’t matter, Microsoft, whatever, one drive, or a Dropbox or something like that, like, oh, I have I already have that in place. I’m already all set. Well, wait a second. You that is the least safe, if anything is probably an excel in the cloud is the worst out of all, I mean, I hate the notebook where they have a notebook, they got all the passwords written down. That’s terrible in and of itself. But when you expose those passwords in that kind of a way, those are like, low hanging fruit for those bad actors, like you’re saying, right? I mean, you must see a lot of those when we talk about security from a security plan perspective, because of either insurance or IRS mandates, or whatever that may be. But it’s, it’s so much bigger than that. What about passwords? What do you what are you seeing out there in the industry with regards to passwords? And you’re checking this right when you’re doing your plan?

Ariel Sandell 17:10
Yeah, exactly. So. So in passwords, I mean, I’ve seen, you know, sadly, you know, we’ve seen it all. I’ve seen people who, you know, we’re not even talking about now that people are still using the Windows XP. We’ve had clients like that. But think of the upgrade to Windows 10. Pro, but but we have clients who have no patches on their computers, no passwords on their phones, even. And I asked him, so do you or your employees access email, client emails on your phone? Today? Everything’s on a phone? You know, too much practitioners that you know, you don’t have them working on their phone, you know, you can’t there’s no cell phone app. You never know one day, but if now there’s not so much as email on the phone. So these Oh, yeah, sure you have a password is the password 1234 By any chance, you know, in the academy, you know, I don’t have a password.

Dawn Brolin 18:08

Ariel Sandell 18:11
Right so that’s, that’s a problem. And so it gets your phone your phone somewhere by mistake. And that’s it. Now, you a whole bunch of your client emails, oh, from the last five years old compromised. You know, that doesn’t occur to people. But even with good password, what’s a big novelties even with good passwords, and what’s a good password, we addressed that as well, based on you know, IRS recommendations, and other government recommendations. If you have a good password, many times the bad guys know if they say get hold of a computer, and laptop, a single laptop, which is sadly not a hard thing to do. You know, if person could enter in some cities, a person leaves the laptop in the car overnight, leave a GPS in the car overnight, it’s not there, the next day, laptop, same thing. A bit of laptop is stolen, then even with a good password on it, there are so many ways the bad guys could actually get into the computer still to over ride the password or to swap the drive. And then they get through the computer a different way to hook it up to a machine and that’s it. And by the way, they don’t care that doesn’t matter your password. But so there’s actually measures that are taken, you know, what’s called disk encryption to stop that from happening and even if someone steals your computer and they have full control, which insiders goodies like the worst thing, physical access to the target the victim is like most people like they got it. It’s all in their hands. But even when that situation, you know they can it’s almost impossible for them to get in and reasonable by the government standards not considered an issue if you encrypt the drive. Now the IRS recommends encryption. They don’t recommend it. They see they say it as person should encrypt the drive. That’s part of the guidance they do in the law doesn’t say encryption, but IRS thinks this is secure. So you don’t want to play with them and argue with them. So What standard of encryption? So we, again, we use guidance to, you know, get into that as well. And to work also with the clients it to help implement that, because that’s a very important part. We don’t expect them practitioners, you know, to always be up to date and like what we call the Star Trek speak to, you know, you tell them you need to, you know, do a full disk encryption of the 128. Yes. And they’ll be like, I don’t know what this. So he told me it that and I say, oh, yeah, I get it. Okay. We’ll turn the sign now. Right. That’s what the password. So yeah, we’ve seen that passwords, we’ve seen very high risk situations where they had passwords in place, right. But it wasn’t properly taken care of, you know, in terms of other protections.

Dawn Brolin 20:45
Right. And yeah, and so I think that’s, you know, for the for the people who are listening, or even watching this today, we we are the trusted advisors, like when you say trusted adviser trust is a really big word. That is a huge word when it comes to what your how your clients think about you, like, I don’t worry about Dawn, you know, losing my tax documents, or I’m not worried about this or that happen. That’s like, almost like an inherent, there’s an inherent trust, when it comes to when you say, Okay, I’m your CPA, or I’m your accounting professional, I’m your trusted advisor, they literally are trusting us. So if we’re not taking those steps, which cybersecurity and this process is critical to protect our business, because I can tell you, one hack can put you out of business, you’re done. If the word gets out that you obviously you have to notify all your clients, if there’s a breach in any capacity, you’ve got to notify your clients and say, Hey, listen, remember how you trusted me? Why didn’t take any steps to protect your data. And I just ignored it because it was, you know, that’s just an administrative thing I didn’t want to deal with, that’s not a really great message that you’re going to basically be inherently saying to them in the event that your stuff gets stolen, or gets hacked into. And you know, like you were saying, imagine a laptop right in the back of a car. Well, what about your house, a lot of us are working from home, now we have maybe an office on our property. Somebody comes in and steal stuff in your home and they grabbed the computer and the computer is gone. Yeah, they’re gonna have access to everything. So it goes so much further than just making sure your internet’s secure and those things which are critical. But we’re physically, right. If anyone remembers audit, that was one of the where’s the physical computer itself? Is it protected? Is it password? Like, I want to have it where I go, Okay, if they don’t know the password, they haven’t guessed it for three times the computer blows up like that would be my proper like it literally melt in and of itself. Right? Yeah. And I think that’s the is Mission Impossible. Boom. Like, I just think for me, I’ve always tried to tell my clients, I’m never trying to scare you, I’m trying to prepare you. And in this case, practitioners, I am trying to scare you, because you know what, you can prepare yourself. But if I don’t scare you, and motivate you in a way that listen, it only takes one bad actor to steal your information, you’re out of your practice, knowing that now you can’t sell it, you’ve now lost every investment of time, money, blood, sweat, and tears that you’ve just worked for. And so, um, so tell us, Ariel, how do people get in touch with you guys? I mean, obviously, we’ll have all the stuff at the bottom of the podcast, they can click on and get to you guys, but just give us like, kind of a sense of what’s the website, that kind of thing. Make sure you spell it out, because I know it’s not a standard spelling.

Ariel Sandell 23:27
Yeah. So basically. So first and foremost, you can reach us through our website, which is So that’s secure, then the letter X is an x ray, then the word So it’s one word, And once you know on the website, there’s various resources for you know, accountants, and contact links, that we encourage people to schedule with your VA, we offer Calendly links, where they could schedule on their own convenience, kind of best to speak to us, they could also fill in a landing page where, you know, they would make a call request contact form, they can send one into the website. So you know, when they’re on LinkedIn as well. And you keep your eyes out in many, you know, accounting periodicals know, within their accounting web, you know, tax practice. And so you’ll see us there as well, with links to the to the website.

Dawn Brolin 24:34
Awesome when and I just encourage everybody to check it out. I mean, you’ve you this isn’t something to go, oh, let me just go look at their website. Oh, that’s great. Okay, X, Y, and Z. It’s like, Listen, go make your appointment, because number one, not I would say 90% of us are in violation already. We need to get this up to date. We need to protect our clients. That’s our job is to protect the public. That’s part of our mission as a CPA or as an enrolled agent, or even a book keeper, Kevin professional doesn’t matter. You have people’s financial lives at stake. And if you’re not protecting yourself, meaning your firm to protect your clients and you’re doing a total disservice to the client so what I would say is from a motivation perspective, go get signed up if you have questions you want to ask me how I process when, you know you can contact me or email me at dawn at powerful accounting comm go to Dawn Brolin comm submit a form, contact me, whatever, I’m on LinkedIn, and Twitter all that too. But I really think this, this solution is absolutely critical for all of us. So Ariel, thank you so much for coming on. I mean, I think that this is a topic as even with the pandemic, I think it’s even more of an issue. Obviously, we’re not meeting face to face with clients, like we used to be, they’re sending us their documents, are their documents secure when they get to us, we don’t want that responsibility. So any last words, Ariel that you’d like to share with people?

Ariel Sandell 25:55
So basically, yeah, I’ve gotten so many times phone calls from, you know, accountants from people who are partners with accountants saying, Hey, listen, you know, this accounting firm, had a, we had, or this cat, this accountant or department accountant, had a breach, all the returns were stolen, they were cashed and everything, they asked me a number for a lawyer. So I said, well, first of all, um, you know, if there’s a break in, you know, you don’t do the house, you don’t first you know, pick up the phone, call a lawyer, first call 911, you know, make sure that everyone’s safe, because I set up something okay to deal with that. So I said, I mean, that’s talking about only post breach cleanup. That’s, you know, not a one, you know, on the spine sets a whole different can of worms entirely, you know, already gotten into our computers already encrypted with ransomware. Things are said, you know, what we focus on is the not post breach, but the preventative, rather, the cybersecurity and compliance to prevent this from happening the first place, but it’s sad to hear it pains me to hear so many people who, you know, that already, they didn’t take hit the annals of prevention. And now they’re already in the mega ton of cure that they have now. Come on to.

Dawn Brolin 27:11
Absolutely, yeah. So we’re, we’re encouraging you to take the steps now and be proactive, as opposed to be reactive when it happens. And that’s the case. So secure X, go check them out, secure x Go get yourself protected. I’m telling you right now, because it’s only going to get worse as these bad actors get smarter and smarter every day, get ahead of them, and make sure you’re protecting your data. But again, Ariel, thank you so much for coming on the DM disruption, we are out here to motivate the accounting professional makes changes and make our lives safer, more secure, and just better in the long run. So again, Ariel, thank you so much. This was wonderful, and I look forward to keeping my process going and learning more and more as we go. I hope you enjoy this podcast. Feel free to visit in order to motivate you to improve your practice. Wishing you all the best. Have a great day.

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Hello everyone, and welcome to The DM Disruption!

I’m the host Dawn Brolin. I’m a certified public accountant, Certified Fraud Examiner, and the author of The Designated Motivator. We’re here to help motivate you to take your practice to the next level.

Hello everybody! This is the DM Disruption Podcast! My goal during this podcast is to give out great content from a variety of avenues such as fellow practitioners, as application providers, vendors, who you know, have the secret sauce that comes to helping you run your practice. My goal and my passion is to help every single accounting professional that’s out there, help every single one of you in some capacity. I may not be able to solve all your problems, but over 23 years of experience that I’ve had, in setting up a cloud based anywhere access firm, that can generate a half a million dollars in eight months with three billable people. Imagine what you can do, by changing your mindset, and getting some motivation to make some changes in your practice.

That’s the whole purpose of the DM Disruption! It’s the whole purpose of the book that’s coming out this fall, called The Designated Motivator For Accounting Professionals. I’m going to take my 23 years of experience and jam it into a book that’s less than 100 pages. And I’m going to build a community of people who will come and ask questions, I’m going to be there for you, answer your questions, help you out with some templates, some best practices when it comes to either client interfacing or running your firm with technology, or how to advance in the world of tax resolution or fraud case work, or whatever it is you want to do. My goal is to just take everything outside of this coconut, and suck it out of my brain and shove it into yours. That’s my goal. It’s a whole new level of experience. And that’s what I’m looking for. I’m looking to help those of you who either been in business for a long time, or those of you that are just getting started.

So stay tuned, we’ll drip this out every week, we’re going to have a new guest, or I’m just going to talk to you. I mean, my whole goal is just to be out here having conversations with you, answering questions that I find out on social media or in my own community, and to help you improve your practice to get the best, most efficient, well oiled machine, so that someday when you retire, you can sell that thing for a lot more money than if you don’t have great processes. I’m telling you, the value of your practice is going to be determined by your acceptance of technology and implementing it in a way that will be succession proof. And that’s my goal.

So join me every week as we talk to various guests and again, have conversations with you and I just the two of us if you will, in the DM Disruption Podcast. Thank you so much, I hope you really enjoy this! Feel free to visit my website if you want to be a guest, come on, let’s go. Let’s talk about whatever it is you want to talk about pains, great successes, doesn’t matter. Let’s get this community together, and start supporting each other and motivating each other to have the best firms possible!

Okay, so I hope to see you every week, I hope to see you around, I hope to hear from you on the DM Disruption Podcast. Thanks again! I hope you enjoy this podcast. Feel free to visit in order to motivate you to improve your practice. Wishing you all the best!

Have a great day!

Click here to listen to this episode!

Want to listen to more episodes? Click here!

It’s Dawn here to share with you my new podcast, The DM Disruption!

The podcast features practical advice and insights from yours truly and a wide range of guests from across the accounting profession who are focused on sharing motivation and strategies to help us practitioners achieve greater levels of professional and personal fulfillment and reward.

I decided to create The DM Disruption podcast to offer my fellow accounting professionals and colleagues from different areas of our profession with a forum for sharing our successes and challenges as well as the motivation to fuel greater a better way of doing things in your firm.

On The DM Disruption podcast I’m interviewing you, my peers as well as changemakers and thought leaders in the accounting profession. If you have an interest in making our community as a whole stronger and more successful, let’s talk!

Listeners can listen to The DM Disruption podcast here and watch it on The DM Disruption YouTube Channel.

New episodes of The DM Disruption podcast will be published weekly. To date, I have recorded podcast episodes with:

· Best-selling entrepreneurial author Mike Michalowicz

· CPA, James Upton of Upton Accounting in North Carolina

· Jody Padar, The Radical CPA

· Robin Hall, President & Principal Consultant, VARC Solutions

· Heather Satterley, CPA and Owner of Satterley Training & Consulting

· Dan Hood, Editor of Accounting Today

· Seth Fineberg, Editorial Manager/US Team Lead,

· Chris Farrell, CPA, Founder of Liscio

· Ariel Sandell, CISRCP, Cybersecurity Compliance Consultant

· Erron Stark, DVP, Channel Sales ADP

· Heather Sperduto, VP, Channel Sales, ADP

· Kathy Grosskurth, Owner, Bookkeeping Clean and Simple

· Melinda Emerson, Founder, Quintessence Group

· Nate Flake – VP of Operations, Fishbowl

If you have a need for motivation or are involved in supporting the future success of the accounting profession, I’d love to have you as a guest on the show! Let me know by using this online form.

Looking forward to talking with YOU and helping everyone shake things up and achieve their goals!


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