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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.


The AICPA Engage Conference was phenomenal this year! Seeing all of my friends and meeting new professional colleagues is one of my favorite things to do. Whether I’m speaking, hanging out with my Starting Line Up peeps at their booths or attending a session to sharpen my own knowledgebase I always come back highly motivated to do more in my own accounting practice and help other professionals—and my clients—do the same!

I had a great time at Engage and picked up many nuggets of knowledge to put into play in my practice—but before I do, I wanted to share with you what has me so motivated from the experience in the spirit of inspiring those of you who also attended—and anyone else who didn’t—to really maximize the momentum and motivation to do more to fuel your own success.

First Stop: The AICPA Engage Exhibitor Hall

One of my first stops at any professional event I go to (after the ladies’ room, of course) is the exhibit hall. That’s exactly what I did at AICPA Engage, I headed there first! It was great to see my longtime friends and peers to share new ways to maximize my productivity and profitability and catch up in person after being virtual for so long!

I was equally excited to share my new book, The Designated Motivator  and the players in the Team Brolin Starting Line Up. Having a valuable tech stack is one thing, however, the energy behind this collaboration of industry leaders who all share a passion to help accounting firms achieve higher levels of ROI and be able to serve clients with maximum profitability is amazing.

Next Up: The Festivities Begin with Fishbowl and Friends!

I never like to show up at a party without a gift for the hosts and hostesses and attending Fishbowl’s AICPA Engage event was no exception, so I brought along with me The Designated Motivator for Accounting Professionals Activity Book along with some crayons—to keep everyone in the motivation mindset and provide a little relaxation as they sat through all of the conference sessions!

The Fishbowl team not only provides the #1 Manufacturing & Inventory Management Software for QuickBooks® but they also throw one heck of a party! Kudos to Fishbowl for kicking off the first day of the AICA Engage Conference with the perfect level of networking and a good time. In my opinion, any time you can play cornhole and connect with all of the cool people in our profession it’s definitely a win-win.

My Assistant Kamdynn Moroney and I had chance to snap some selfies at AICPA’s Snapbar booth. What a riot! Here are a few of my favorite pics from the conference!

Day Two: Getting Down to Business! Learning and Laughing with My Peers

Day Two of my Engage! experience included attending a fantastic session by Kacee Johnson on Advanced Personal Financial Planning and plus reconnecting with familiar faces. I had such a great time hanging out with Eric and the Corpay gang.

David Leary one of my dear friends gave me a few pointers for my new podcast The DM Disruption. Sign up here if you would like to be a guest!

Avalara has been such a great resource and I always appreciate time spent with their team. It was a wonderful surprise running in to Jim Leffel after all these years since sitting on the Intuit council together in 2008-2009.

I also enjoy being a member of the ADP Council [LINK] so it was amazing running into Sean Duncan and Sharrin Fuller who are also involved in it—ADP is another awesome Starting Line U player! I was also able to chat with another valuable starting line-up player, Rachel Montana and George Addlmessih from SmartVault.

Day Three: Sharing my Experience with QuickBooks® Enterprise

By this point in the conference, I was certainly feeling my Designated Motivator energy kicking into high gear so it was perfect that it coincided with the video production and photoshoot for a brand new QuickBooks Enterprise campaign—coming this fall! Wow, I feel so fortunate to have this opportunity to do more to help my fellow professionals by sharing the tools I have found vital in growing my firm and my ability to serve my clients as efficiently and expertly as possible.

Engaged and Empowered to Power Up My Practice and Help My Peers Do the Same!

The AICPA Engage! Conference was amazing—having the opportunity to gain new insights and network within our professional community is so incredibly valuable. I believe that connecting with each other on a personal level at events like this really does strengthen our profession as a whole. As we continue to navigate the future—still impacted by COVID, never-ending compliance changes, the unpredictable IRS actions, client expectations and demands, as well as the need to manage our firms effectively we need to support each other. I know the relationships I have with my peers and all of the entities who provide the tools and services we depend on to serve our clients are often the lifeline I need to keep motivated and to keep reaching for higher levels of success.

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