Episode Summary

Liscio’s Alison Ball joins Dawn Brolin to discuss how Liscio is your all in one solution for better communication with your clients, a hub to receive important tax documents, and a place to track all your messages and files in one place, all with top-notch cyber security! With more and more practitioners moving their firm to Liscio, listen now to see how they can help you and your clients work better together, and help achieve both of your goals easily and efficiently!

Get to know Alison:

Alison Ball is the Director of Marketing and Influencer Strategy for Liscio, Inc. She is passionate about helping firms to differentiate themselves by providing Client Experience 2.0TM to their clients. Before joining Liscio in August 2020, Alison spent 15 years leading accountant influencer programs at Intuit, and prior to that she was an accountant herself. In her spare time, she grows amazing backyard vegetables and loves hiking in the San Francisco Bay Area. She believes that life is too short to spend it with mean people, and any day she can help someone else be successful is a good day indeed.

What is Liscio?

Alison describes Liscio as “a collaborative environment for you and your team to work together along with your clients.” 

Liscio is an all in one communication platform for tax practitioners that makes communication between them and their clients incredibly easy. With both an app and browser based software, Liscio provides you with a messaging platform to communicate with your clients, and helps keep all the information they share with you in one place. They also make it easy for clients to share their tax documents with you, and even send reminders to your clients when they are behind on sending you important tax information.

Why Email Communication is Not Serving You

Alison and Dawn share their frustration when having to use email to communicate with their clients, and share how they have both been stuck digging through their inboxes to find the one piece of important information. 

When Liscio is implemented, you can completely avoid this, shares Alison. Liscio keeps all your messages and client documents in one portal, so you can access them from any place at any time! No more lost messages, and no more digging or sorting your inbox!

Liscio also offers integrations with your favorite apps such as QuickBooks Online, SmartVault, Adobe Sign, and more!

A Better Work Life Balance

Dawn and Alison share how many clients prefer to text their practitioners for information, rather than through email. Alison talks about how this can be a problem, and how texting can feel very invasive on the practitioner’s end, and make them feel rushed to answer their clients’ questions. 

With Liscio, clients can still have the convenience of contacting their practitioner directly through their phone, and practitioners can know that all of their client’s messages are already sorted, and will be easily accessible during working hours, rather than having to track the messages they receive while at the dinner table.

Learn more at www.liscio.me


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Dawn Brolin 0:05
This episode of the DM Disruption is sponsored by Veem. Veem provides a convenient way to manage AR and AP was superior reporting, a mass pay option, payment tracker, invoice capture and more. Veeam also provides a start to finish approval process to minimize the risk of fraud, a common occurrence in business today. At the end of the day, Veem is an all in one business global payment solutions for clients of all sizes, visit them today at www.Veem.com.

Hey, everybody, and welcome back to the Designated Motivator, DM Disruption today and our podcast, we’re really excited today to have one of the greatest people I’ve known in the accounting industry for so so long is Alison ball. And many of you know, Alison, Alison is with Liscio, which is an application that is solving for pain points with your clients. And I think the message that Alison I want to bring to you all today is that we as the firm owners, and in the practitioners, and the technicians sometimes need to step back and think about what the client is experiencing. And we love to solve for ourselves because that’s natural, but we really want to make sure we’re keeping the client in the forefront of our mind. And in order to do that, and in order to be successful in that experience, we’ve got to have tools in place to keep that experience positive. So Alison, welcome back. We’ve had you on before, and you’re always a blessing.

Alison Ball 1:28
Thank you, Dawn, it’s just amazing to spend a few minutes here here with you and your audience. I loved how you introduced this this chat that we’re gonna have today, because I think accountants and bookkeepers are so heart led, that you know, because you can’t you join the profession, because you want to help your clients be more successful, right. But somewhere along the line, you know, somewhere along the line and get bogged down in this friction with you and your clients. And I hear people say, you know, well, I, I’d like to fire all my clients, or I, you know, this is the year I’m gonna make, make my clients, you know, get their documents on time. Or, you know, you know, this is the year that I get to do things differently somehow, and then get we never do. And we endure these busy seasons, right? These busier seasons, and the stress mounts and things. And I think the reason I found Licio so incredibly fascinating is that Chris has uncovered a, a solution to a problem that many people just don’t even know exists. And that’s how they’re how they are allowing their clients or how they’re asking their clients to work with their firm in a digital fashion. So that’s what I’m really fascinated about. And that’s what I want to talk about today is how if you nail that, if you remove that friction, how all boats can rise?

Dawn Brolin 2:53
Absolutely. And, and I know obviously, as a practitioner, I hear from let’s say, even new clients that are referred over to us. We’re listening to them as they, you know, well, why did you and I asked the question, I think it’s a great question to ask a new client. Why did you switch to me? Like, why were you looking for another accountant? And I would, I would probably, I could say 85 to 90% is communication. Yeah, there’s a lack of communication. And I just got a new client from New Jersey who was like, you know, you’re in Connecticut, I’m in New Jersey, how are we going to communicate? And that was my biggest problem with my prior account, and I couldn’t get a hold of them. And, and certainly, we can go down the email road, Allison. We can talk about emails, because emails are the death of everybody. Right? And it’s, it’s really wasted time, no value there. And there. They are a standalone type of communication, we need a one face one stop one way to communicate with the clients. And that’s why we chose Liscio, we needed to communicate with the clients. And I and that said this before, they love it. It’s so easy for them to use. They’re all on cell phones. I think I have two clients with Star Trek phones, I call it their the flip, they still may text by hitting, you know, to get to see, to get three times. That’s that’s not the norm. And so I think a lot of times and I know people, oh, well, people aren’t going to want to add another app to their phone. People have a bazillion apps on their phone, they can’t even find half of them. They don’t know to put them in folders and things like that. Right. So that assumption, I think is a challenge for practitioners. Yeah,

Alison Ball 4:31
I think like Well, let’s start with the email thing because I think most people think of email as the best way to communicate. And it certainly is easy in the moment. You can type an email and kind of forget about it. But what you have to understand is what is the downstream effect of that email. So if I send an email, let’s pretend you’re my client. If I send an email to you with a long list of documents and a link to my portal because I want you to send them securely and you get this on you’re probably going to get it on your phone. You are probably nowhere near a scanner. And you’re in, you’re busy, you’re in the middle of your busy day. So what happens to that email, you open it, you go, Oh, Alison wants something, okay. And you immediately close it, you probably mark it unread. And then your day takes over and it goes down, down, down, down, down into the inbox, right? Now, eventually now, okay, then Dawn saying, hey, Alison didn’t send her stuff. Send me another email. Same thing happens. Oh my gosh, don’t you know now Tracy’s asking you “Hey, hey, Dawn, Alison didn’t send her stuff.” So, okay, now you got Tracy on you. So then Tracy starts emailing me. Okay, now Don and Tracy can’t see inside each other’s inboxes. Right? And so then okay, then I answer one of them. One of those emails that got sent, right. And so then I’m, and maybe I’ve got some questions in my email. And so everything is all like, and then there’s no way for your team to see in each other’s inboxes the client gets lost, they lose the string, they can understand what they’re doing. So what Chris created with Liscio, Chris and Sekhar the two co founders is a system of it’s it’s a collaborative environment for you and your team to work together along with your clients. And so what happens is that the client is, you know, at the closest analogy I have done is the way that you work with your online bank. Right? When you go to send a document to your bank, what do you do you just snap the picture, but you send it like your deposit a check, right? Liscio is that easy. So you just so you said maybe clients don’t want to put an app on their phone. Cool thing is they don’t have to just like a bank, they can log into their browser, right? But the magic happens when you bring everybody into that same quiet space. There’s no email, strings, there’s nothing, there’s no waiting through anything, the staff can see everything for that one client. So you and Tracy can see everything that you need from me. And it’s and it’s all like there. And then the system auto reminds if I owe you something, the system auto reminds so magic happens, and I think what’s really interesting is is that people need to walk in their clients shoes to understand what the experience is. And I just don’t think that email and the link to a portal is making anybody’s firm, more efficient, move faster or look good. And so I’m on a mission to change that.

Dawn Brolin 7:33
Absolutely. I wouldn’t even take it a step further. So we’re emails Absolutely, they those numbers, you know, on the daily they start dropping down no matter how much you make it be, you know, tag this to junk email, you don’t want to look at it. I find not only emails which I can’t stand emails more, which even becomes more of a problem. Texting. Oh, now we’ve talked about texting. Oh, yeah. The texting. The texting has turned into email, honestly. Yeah. And people are goosebumps talking about it, but it’s demanding.

Alison Ball 8:07
But it’s demanding, it’s it’s like it’s like it’s like email in your face. It’s like, Oh, my God, I’m gonna get, where’s my camera? I’m gonna get you right here in the face, like poke in the eyes email.

Dawn Brolin 8:17
And you know what? It’s like, okay, you text me. If I’ve read it, you don’t want to read it, the text. And now that text from somebody ends up over the weekend in 20th position. And I’ve replied to them, because I know that like you said, it’s in my face. And they want an instant reply. I go, but what…

Alison Ball 8:36
Which we love being interrupted and family dinners, and yeah, we’d love that. Right.

Dawn Brolin 8:41
Love that. And so, you know, clients expect to be able to text you. And they in so I actually this phone right here, this is my personal cell phone. Now only the special get this phone number, because this is my this is my personal phone, I have a phone in that office over there. That’s the business phone. And that does not come out of the office. That’s for authorization codes, that’s protected from clients. Because and I don’t give this to out to my clients. I have some friends, obviously, our clients by telling them if you text the personal phone number, you have been voted off the island. Oh, can note you’re gone, you’re out of here. So what Liscio will do for you and like like Alison was saying, it only has the important information in there. So you’re not having to, you know, sort through emails or go back to your text and go scrolling and looking for all the work you just promised you would do over the weekend. And you’re you know, now it’s Monday and you’re like, oh, did I text somebody over the weekend it was you know, football, whatever. So when having things in one place, you’re going to minimize that I just call it wasted time.

Alison Ball 9:53
A tremendous amount of wasted time to look for things and to search for things and to look across platforms. And the other thing Don is I don’t know about your clients, but I hear frequently from practitioners that their clients will text them documents, pictures of documents. Now, yes. Now, if you have a client who is texting you, and especially those that are taking photos of documents and attaching them to a text, they’re giving you a really clear message that they want to work with you using their phone. It is the clearest message you could have. So those clients that are texting you, if you move them off text, and you move them on to Liscio, they will be delighted. And your communications with them. And the way that you work together with that client will be elevated 100x And B, it’s so much better, because the client will be like, Okay, I have one place, oh, if I need done, I go here, right here, right here on my phone. And and again, people don’t have to use the phone app, they that’s that’s it’s just like dealing with your bank, you can use the browser or, or your phone. But we’ve found that that is a really big, a really big thing. And then what happens is when you’re getting those documents quickly, and your team is on the same page, and everybody can see what’s happening with that client, all those communications, the documents, the signatures, what else we talked about the tasks, the all the things that have to do with the with the tooing and froing, between your firm and your client. Everyone can can move faster. And your work gets more accurate. And and all these missteps that sometimes happen. Like you never have to worry about a foot refer as a firm owner about being blindsided by something. Because maybe you were out of the loop out of the communication loop because a staff member was dealing with them, and maybe they didn’t deal with them in the right way or, or they said something that wasn’t communicated back to you. And then you had a misstep, you never get those blind sides never happens. Because anybody can go in and review the history of it. Right, of that client?

Dawn Brolin 11:59
Definitely. And I think another kind of component that we don’t I don’t think we really think about all the time is that everything being in that one place, having all the firm have that access, eliminating emails, because people this is one thing that people don’t think about either. And that’s what this whole conversation is about is the client side of it. And on the client side, so many clients, especially if you’re dealing with individual tax clients, they don’t live on their email.

Alison Ball 12:26
No, they’re they’re doing their businesses, right. They’re running their businesses.

Dawn Brolin 12:30
And so you know, we happen to sit at a computer all day. So we have I’ll call it just carte blanche access to emails. But our clients don’t my contractors aren’t going home at night sitting down and reading my email with my questions. But if I text them throughout the day, previously texting them that I get an answer from them right away, I can keep moving in my work with you’re doing that with Liscio and tell them either notifications on by the way, because that those notifications aren’t going to pile up like an email notification.

Alison Ball 13:02
No, they just they just get it they just get a little ping with “Hey, Dawn has a question.” “Oh, Dawn has a question.” *ping ping ping*, and they answer back.

Dawn Brolin 13:09
And that’s, that they so here’s an I think that this is even more powerful than anything else. Right? They know if there is something that comes through, they know that that is their accountant, their tax accountant on a text, they don’t post you on an email, ding, they don’t know it’s you. And they and they get so many of those dings that they don’t care anymore. Where when you when you have one specific application that is specific to your taxes to your business, and direct access to your CPA, they are going to tell everybody about that. Because no one else has you know who else is doing it? Well, hopefully everyone is because everyone gets on Liscio.

Alison Ball 13:51
And we have had so many new firms come to us because clients use Liscio with a different practitioner. So we’ve had bookeepers, we’ve had them use, like for example, let’s say I’m let’s say I’m the client and I’m using Liscio with my bookkeeper. And then I go to my CPA firm and I say “Wait, you don’t use Liscio.” And then the CPA firm says, “Well, what do you mean?” And so and then they show it and then they’re like, oh, so we get so many referrals from the client actually driven from the client, because the clients really love it.

Dawn Brolin 14:21
Absolutely. And that that mindset of, and I think I’ve mentioned this before, I was wanting an app like this, I wanted to develop a powerful accounting app that do this communication with for years, I’ve wanted to do it. And now I’m like, well, guess what, I didn’t have to do it because someone else did. And now I like it.

Alison Ball 14:45
It’s very reasonably priced. And it’s very reasonably priced. So you don’t have to go through all the app development. Yeah. And I think the other thing done just you know, I’m mindful we’re going to be up at time pretty quick, but I I think the other thing is just the security and you touched on it. But the but email is such a scary place. And texting is scary. And you know people have to if you have a PTIN, you’ve you’ve had to fill in your Wisp and say that you have that written information security. Is it plan or protocol plan? I don’t want the P stands for. But you’ve actually verified that you’ve got that in place. And so if you’re using email, then you don’t have it in place.

Dawn Brolin 15:25
Yeah, the PTIN. is actually the preparer tax identification numbers what the PTIN is.

Alison Ball 15:30
With the, with the risk.

Dawn Brolin 15:33
And you’re checking a box, man, when you say, Yeah, I’m secure. I’m good. You know, people say, Well, you know, the IRS is never going to come ask for a copy of your plan. Well, you know what, never say never. Because you know, what they want the IRS right now they need money. And you know, how they’re going to get money by finding people, period. So, you know, be be aware, and and think a little bit more about it. I think that’s what we’ve got to do. We just got to step back for a hot second and say, what are the most important components of my firm? Number one are my clients because without them, I don’t have a firm. And so if they really are in the forefront of your mind, if your clients really are that important to you, then you’re going to want to take the steps that you need to implement in an application, Liscio to communicate with them securely. That because here’s it at the end of the day, they’re not thinking about security, they’re not they don’t think about it at all. They’re like, you know, I have somebody, oh, let me just shoot you an email with my W2. And I’m like, No, it’s like, you’re not thinking how you just want to get it to me. So we have to be at the forefront thinking of the security 100%.

Alison Ball 16:40
Yeah, and well you know, it’s just Liscio just makes it very easy for people to do that. And I think if I wanted to leave one thing with you is it’s just really walk in your clients shoes, when you think about the technology you ask them to use an email is probably causing a lot of hurt and harm in your firm. So rethinking mail for sure.

Dawn Brolin 17:00
Yeah, absolutely. And just think about what you hate it because I totally do. I totally do. Um, you know, everybody wants a clean inbox. Yeah, and including your clients, right, including your clients. So, but yes, Liscio telling you to collect communications, make it seamless, make it easy for people to communicate with you. Because if you don’t, someone else will. And that’s the that’s really the takeaway, just get it together. It’s not hard to implement. This is not like trying to implement some kind of new technology that we don’t even understand. It’s something you’re doing already. Do it in one place and do it with Liscio, period. So Alison, thank you so much. It’s always a pleasure to have you on.

Alison Ball 17:40
Thank you, Dawn!

Dawn Brolin 17:40
Everyone, we will see you on the next DM disruption, we’re going to continue to bring you insights, knowledge, practitioner tips and tricks and all the things that we can help you grow your practice to be more efficient, more effective, and most importantly profitable. Okay, so thanks again. We’ll see you guys all next time



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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Want to hear more episodes? Listen here!


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

Follow Dawn Brolin!


Subscribe to Dawn on Youtube



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 DawnBrolin.com in order to motivate you to improve your practice. Wishing you all the best. Have a great day.

Episode Summary

Nate Flake, VP of Operations at Fishbowl, joins Dawn Brown, CPA, CFE, to talk about his upcoming summit, and to discuss the inventory management services that Fish Bowl provides. Listen now and learn why investing in the right software, connecting with industry professionals, and having a strong team working behind the scenes of your business can lead to its success! 

This episode is sponsored by Fishbowl.

Fishbowl Summit and Nate’s Motivation

Nate talks about the upcoming virtual summit that Fishbowl is hosting and shares his excitement to have a dedicated conference to discuss inventory management. He talks about how the conference will cover everything in an SMB toolkit to give business owners the knowledge and resources to help achieve their company goals.

Importance of Proper Inventory Management

Dawn and Nate discuss how important it is to have correct inventory management to have a successful business, and cutting corners will cause more problems in the long run.

Nate discusses how Fishbowl, his Inventory management company, can help businesses save time, money, and can be installed locally on your desktop.

Benefits of New Hosting Service “Quarium”

Nate also discusses another branch of his company called Quarium, which provides businesses with a hosting service to run Quickbooks and other professional accounting software.

The service also includes a “partner portal” which allows accounting professionals to easily access information from their clients without headache or hassle.

Dawn adds how she appreciates the security that Fishbowl and Quarium can provide to businesses.

Nate also talks about how investing in the right technology in your business early on can benefit your company in the long run. 

“There’s hundreds of companies that are making the right steps and investing in the right technology, and they’re blowing up. It’s crazy.

Importance of Building a Foundation for Your Business-:19:42

Dawn talks about the importance of having a solid foundation in your business, and falling short on areas like inventory, can greatly hurt the growth of your business. Investing in the correct software can greatly improve the structure and flow of a business.

Nate agrees and shares how he appreciates Dawn’s integrity when it comes to working and fighting for her clients.

Partner Program at Fishbowl-26:34

Nate also discusses how Fishbowl has implemented a Partner Program that connects accounting professionals to other industry professionals that can help streamline productivity and increase the success of a business.


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Episode Summary

Learn how to streamline and transform your transactional practice to create a proactive practice with these PowerSHIFT strategies from The Designated Motivator for Accounting Professionals, Dawn Brolin, CPA, CFE, and Sean Duncan, CPA, Founder of SMD Consulting & Accounting, LLC.

In this session you will learn:


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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.

Hello, everybody, and welcome to the DEM disruption. We’re here at Scaling New Heights live very exciting times this week, and I’m here with Sean Duncan, the owner, CEO, President, you name it. He’s it at SMD Consulting and Accounting, and one of my very best friends who’s my conference boyfriend, which I think is totally fine to say!

Sean Duncan 1:07
Hey, my wife said it’s okay.

Dawn Brolin 1:09
We got permission, I mean, it makes sense. Yeah. Yeah. It’s all good. So we’re excited here to today we’re gonna talk to you a little bit about how you can go from somebody that’s like a tax practitioner, and move yourself into advisory. And so Sean is is leading the way. When it comes to advisory work with clients. I’m still dying over this lady over my shoulder right here. Because I can see it’s almost like we’re connected. We’re like, twins that are connected. But that’s something different. Anyway, so excited to talk to you, Sean. So Sean, your story is amazing, because you didn’t start out wanting to be an accountant. Nope. What happened to you?

Sean Duncan 1:44
Oh, my God. Talk about shock when I was a child, no. So I originally went into accounting because I was going to go into the FBI. Now, that really wasn’t the original journey. I was lost, not sure what I was gonna do for a career. But the FBI struck me as a calling. And that’s an important thing, because it wasn’t just I want to go do a job it was calling. And law, language and accounting are the easiest three ways to get the bureau. So I happen to be sitting in an accounting class, congratulations. I’m an accountant. I’m the first kid my family to get a college degree. And so I’m certainly the first to get a master’s degree. And so fast forward 2003, I’ve got my final interview scheduled with the Bureau, I’m going to fly up to Kansas City, Missouri for those interviews. I’m gonna head down to Austin, do my physical fitness test, Dallas coordinator says Shawn, you’re my best candidate. Just go through the motions in the next three to four months, you’ll be in the bureau, you’ve made it. And then the second epiphany, the first epiphany was I was going to go into the bureau, second epiphany, unfortunately, 10 years after college and all the stuff like I’m, I’ve done it, I realized how badly I wanted to be a husband and data. And so this is the weird moment is like if I go into the bureau and I go pursue hostage rescue team, which is their SWAT cuz I’m kind of a dumb meat head. I wasn’t gonna be around. Your investigations, you’re traveling. And it just my my value proposition for that declined immediately when it really struck me how much I wanted to be a father and a husband. So I turned them down. And so here I am, 30 years old. And I have a master’s degree in accounting that I don’t want.

Dawn Brolin 3:17
I don’t want it!

Sean Duncan 3:19
I mean, come on, who chooses accounting. No, seriously, guys, I didn’t intend to be a CPA in the traditional sense. I wanted to pursue this dream, the CPA, the accounting that was all part of the path. And then no joke for two years completely lost. I was in lost soul. I was depressed. I had no clue what I was going to do. Do I go back to school? What do you do? My wife is amazing and supportive. In that journey of the two years, it occurred to me why the beer was so compelling. When I was looking at the career, it was about how the job matters. When I’m doing what I’m doing the job actually has to mean something when I’m laying on my deathbed 400 years from now because I I will be part robot. I want to make sure that when my old Tron self looks back and says, Did it count, right? All the hours we spent I mean, we all spend a lot of time at work. Are you doing something that fulfills you and adds value? And that was it. That was the moment and I realized I had all these skills that help business owners that help individuals and helping others achieve success? Well, that’s it, it doesn’t have to be the bureau, it just has to be something that has meaning. And that actually was where SMD consulting and accounting started. I wanted to lead with SMD Consulting and Accounting. It’s named in order on purpose because we wanted to be that CPA advisor that actually gave advice to small business owners because there’s brilliant practitioners out there. But it’s hard to do advice if you don’t know where to start. And that was where my skill sets were and all the career that I built. So started the firm and I wanted to go do that. So that’s the FBI piece of it is focusing on how we add as much value as possible to people and their families.

Dawn Brolin 4:57
And so, in addition to that, Your whole thing was like you said, like, I want to, I want to be a dad. I want to be a family, man. And you knew that that path wasn’t going to be there for you. Now, fast forward after that. You became a tax man.

Sean Duncan 5:14
Yeah, I did. I did.

Dawn Brolin 5:15
And you did tax work. And you did tax work, tax work, tax work. And what were you able to do? Like you were just tied down? It was almost like you were in the FBI, but in the tax world…

Sean Duncan 5:25
Okay, so there’s these epiphany moments that keep having these moments, right. I’m sitting there on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in my office, and I got the window seat, and it’s like, two in the afternoon, and I’m working on a return. It’s 75 outside. And I get a text from my wife again. Sunday afternoon. Yes, it’s tax season, of course. Her and my wife is texting me pictures of her and the kids at Six Flags. Wait a second?

Dawn Brolin 5:50
Oh, I want to go on that roller coaster!

Sean Duncan 5:52
Yeah. And so I turned down the FBI, before I had kids. Now I have them and I’m not with them. And it was, it was absurd. I was just one of those. Okay, this is clearly not working. And oddly enough, we’re sitting at scaling new heights, in scaling new heights. 2017 is when the final kind of bridge got into place. The camel’s back. That was it. I’m sitting at the conference. And it dawned on me, I don’t have to do taxes, my skill, our team skill, the value proposition is advice. Let’s just do the thing we’re amazing at because unfortunately, the dang tax returns are taking us away from the families not not just me. It was taking us away from our club, my employees, families, it was taking us away from the advice on the client. I mean, if you’re a client, and it’s April 14, and you go, Sean, I’m going to sell my business for 10 million bucks. Oh my God, I need help. My answer was awesome. Can we talk in May? Exactly. That’s not and we can. We were staffing up like crazy. I’m my office is in Frisco, Texas, one of the fastest growing cities in the US a phenomenal city. We were the largest firm in town. So we were successful. Unfortunately, our success was keeping me from my success. My success was to be the best husband and dad, my employees, I wanted them to spend time with their family. I wanted us to give value to clients. Because again, that’s why we started the firm. And we were disappearing from our clients taxes were getting in the way of achieving achieving our definition of success. And so I said enough’s enough. And I literally fired all the textbooks. off he went. And now we all we do is advise we do bookkeeping work, because the bookkeeping gives us the data that we need to do the analysis. But we focused on advice and then had to completely create a whole brand new model. And it was it was a journey.

Dawn Brolin 7:37
It’s a journey, and I want to talk about that journey. Because with every with change comes pain, just know that’s gonna happen. But you know what? That success is that you have after the fact that you have today in here and now, way outweigh those pains. But absolutely. There were pains and I want to hear, give me if you want 123 however many you want to give me pain points that you had when you were transitioning from tax to advisory.

Sean Duncan 8:04
Well, Dr. Dawn…

Dawn Brolin 8:07
Lay down on the couch! It was one day! I was crying!

Sean Duncan 8:16
I screwed up so many times. I screwed up because I was creating something completely. Again if y’all are accountants, you know what it’s like, you know, our industry have a pattern. This is the way it’s always been done. And here I am saying no, we don’t do tax prep, we just do advice. First pain is I underpriced now that’s a common theme here. We don’t charge enough. Well, you don’t, I was creating something new. So I kind of looked like I was beta testing on everybody. Right? And you can’t leap into the feet I could have. But and I should have I foot I went into low. And then scope creep happens in things that that hurt revenue dramatically because I had taken a big giant meaty seif to two thirds of my revenue. Yes, again, I was killing it.

Dawn Brolin 8:57
No guts, no glory, buddy.

Sean Duncan 8:59
And so when in of course, there’s the financial pressure, you’re trying to juggle and make ends meet. And so I had to be very clear and confident. And I will say that cutting all those clients, I never had doubt that that was the weirdest moment is I mean, if you can imagine you’re going to go to your firm and say, we’re getting rid of two thirds of the revenue. Let’s do this. It’s a terrifying Oh, absolutely. And I I never had doubt. And we’ll talk maybe if we had time about what vision plan and goal and and how I worked backwards in my strategy, but it was never a question that I was making the right choice. I was now seeing my family more and I was doing the things we need to do. We were helping people with more meeting but mistakes, absolutely underpriced and that that really created a whole new pressure.

Dawn Brolin 9:40
So underpricing of advisory work?

Sean Duncan 9:42
All of it.

Dawn Brolin 9:43

Sean Duncan 9:44
Everything, especially the advisory because it was really trying to feel out where the market was, who was on I was going to serve and how that works. Second, we we tried to be customized like, John, what do you need because what you need is different than what Nick needs but Nick needs something different. So we created this own ellaborate checkbox system of all this terrible, terrible, no one knew what we did because we did try to do everything. We then brought that down to the good old Mark wicker Sham, you know three choices of versions right I got the bronze silver platinum, because I skipped gold, who needs gold?

Dawn Brolin 10:16
Who needs goals? So overrated?

Sean Duncan 10:20
Well, we, that was too much, right? Because then clients were looking at well, I thought I signed up for this here, and you can show them the contract. So then we had to boil it down again. I mean, no joke for two plus years, we were trying to invent the methodology and just kept screwing up. But there’s an old Chinese proverb that says, You’re going to fall down seven times get up eight. And that was it. It was the resilience just kept getting up. So I kept screwing that up. And there were lots of other different things like the the challenges that we have with communication, making sure the client really gets it. But there were, there were a lot of hurdles, a lot of hurdles the market is still isn’t ready for you. I mean, imagine all the people that come in and say I need a tax return. Okay. I don’t do that. But I can save you $100,000. Yeah, but I need a tax return.

Dawn Brolin 11:06
I need that done. Well, in order for me to refinance my mortgage, or whatever it may be.

Sean Duncan 11:10
I’ve had somebody that we’ve modeled out and said, if we do these three things, we will save you $100,000 This year, yeah. But if you’re not gonna do my return, well, we can find you somebody that’s amazing at preparing, we’ll build the strategy. And they’ll prepare. Yeah, I need it all in one roof. And they go to the other person who doesn’t give advice. And so they’re the smartest thing, they’re happy to pay the 100,000 in taxes for that convenience. So we have to solve for that and make it as frictionless as we can. So it’s, it’s a journey in the key to this really, for me is, this is what I wanted to create for my clients, for my employees, and honestly, selfishly for myself. Sure. And so we were creating what we believe to be right listening to the marketplace as much as we could, but it was, it was rough. Some moments, you’re sitting there going, am I just the dumbest person in the world. But then you knew we knew we were adding value, we knew we were helping, we knew we were lifting up. And I knew that this is where the industry is going. I mean, we’ve talked about this off here a lot, oh, my gosh, where our industry is going, you must be advising. Now. That’s how I chose to advise. But a lot of people will do advisory live and stuff like that. So I can tell you all kinds of terrible stories..

Dawn Brolin 12:12
Well, I’m sure but but really, at the end of the day, okay. So the successes don’t necessarily happen through the journey. And the because the journey always has the bumps and bumps and bruises. And you know, you get your butt kicked and stuff like that. So because a lot of listeners, we talk about advisory all the time, right? So it’s advisory advisory, you’re like, well, what the heck is that? Really? So So can you out for me? Can you dumb it down for me to say, these are the types of things, pick a client and say, This is what we do from an advisory perspective for this client. So any client, you think you’re not to mention their names and like that? Or if they have a family? We don’t care about that. But just what do you what is your process? So I come to you? And I’m like, Shawn, I’ve got this business, and I need help. What do you what do you say? What do you do?

Sean Duncan 12:57
We start with a lot of fact finding, we got to find out who you are, because what your pain is different than somebody else’s pain. So we’re still listening and customizing. We have a standard pricing model and methodology because the more the more you standardize it, the simpler it is, I understand. But I gotta know what you need. Because I actually may walk out of that meeting and say, You don’t need me, you’re good. You know, we’re giving you two pieces of advice that go with the challenge. And this is really the hurdle we run across a lot advisors and and I’ve had, I’ve actually had people stop me at scaling and engage in other conferences, and say, How do you know what to tell somebody? I will say this to the audience. Y’all are really smart people. You know what you’re doing, you know how the entities your work, you know how the books work, you know how to do tax savings, you know, that mileage is a tax deduction. I know that sounds rudimentary. But clients don’t know that true. And so it could be just as simple as scanning the tax return and going to did you know, you can write off your cell phone, boom, there’s $1,000 tax deduction. It’s the simple stuff that we take for granted, the client in the public doesn’t know. So actually honestly start there. We look at what’s going on and going, Okay, let me hit the low hanging fruit that creates an immediate value. And then if I’ve got to look at something more complex, I go into kind of the arsenal of whatever I’ve got in my head and I start analyzing entity formation, or do you have a will we do full estate planning? So it gets into even more elaborate if we need to? What does Dawn need what is Don’s pain? And this really comes back to the heart of it is what is success for you will almost always ask, What do you define success to be is what your success is, is what we should be working toward? Not some contraption that I come up with. I’ve had plenty of clients that like they just want scoreboard, I want to make as much money as possible. Sure, cool. Nothing wrong with that. I want to take as many vacations as possible. It’s a different model. And so we’re listening to how we can create the solutions and honestly, you just help. If you go in and help. Yeah, you’re making them better. You’re adding value. Congratulations, you’re an advisor and you’d be shocked. The things that a client will value would be the stuff you’re like, well, that one was obvious, right? Wait, wait, so I can I can write off that conferences. business expense. Yeah. That’s why you went right. But if so, so is all the alcohol the conference, okay, that might be maybe sorta oh, what kind of conference was it?

Dawn Brolin 15:18
It depends on how much you…no…we will get into those things but, another thing too that I find interesting. And a great maybe a good example is 2021 and 2022 meals and entertainment well, meals no more meals are 100% deduction. How many of you that are listening right now have told your clients? Hey, guess what, go spend money at the local restaurant because it’s 100% deduction? Yep. Like that’s, that is advisor. That’s advisory services right there. If I’ve ever heard of it!

Sean Duncan 15:45
Or just telling what the new tax laws are. We don’t know what the new tax laws are. But you have an inkling? Sure. That’s proactive. Okay, by the way, you guys are I have lots of real estate clients. I have a lot of position clients. Hey, real estate client? Did you know the 1031 exchange is possibly at risk? Yeah, maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t. But if you’re giving them the heads up, they can start thinking it and they’re telling their friend Oh my gosh, my CPA or EA told me this. And if it doesn’t pass, you celebrate the victory and say, Hooray, we don’t have to worry about it. But if it does happen, they knew it. And they’re not feeling like they’re blindsided. So sometimes you’re you’re telling them information you don’t even know. You’re there to share and help. And that’s what and honestly, that’s where I get a little selfish is I love helping. I love that fulfillment. I know you guys do to everybody. The accounting profession is full of people that are people pleasers, and they want to help and you said this in your session. We want to help people be better. Yeah. And if you just have this information in your head, and you’re not sharing it, it doesn’t do anyone any good.

Dawn Brolin 16:40
Well, I think part of it too, is that what we’re doing is we’re getting, we’re getting them what they need a tax return, we’re getting them what they need their books reconcile, we’re getting them what they need. But with those things are not giving them that vision that they need to plan ahead and be ready for what’s happening in the future, not behind you. And so I want to transition a little bit to of course, we’re sitting in the ADP booth, because we love ADP. And so you know, one of the great parts about ADP is their accountant Connect portal, because your talent your set, we’re gonna we’re talking about how can you advise your clients? What tools can we use simple tools to advise our clients, reasonable compensation, you know, go Google that there’s a billion different ways you could go, there’s no definition. It’s just like, what? And so, you know, ADP gives us that information through accountant connect. And I mean, personally, accountant Connect is turning into an advisory hub, it really is. It’s amazing. I mean, between between what they already have in benchmarking industries, you know, in various industry reports, and now the strategic partnerships that they’re doing with Gerard and, and biz equity and things like that, where they’re, hey, listen, guys, we’re opening our API to give the information to these third party vendors, if you will, because we’re all playing in the same sandbox. So if you’re sitting here, you’re listening, you’re like, Well, you know, everybody talks about advisory advisory advisor, I don’t know how I can start with advisory, how do I do that? You know, what you could take step one, take one client that you currently service, and start to do more than reconciling, do more than on, you know, a tax return, or whatever, and say, You know what, I’m going to take this client to the full end of the earth. And I’m going to actually start advising, it doesn’t have to be, we don’t have to go so extreme, as Sean did immediately, and I’m selling tax, and I’m going over here, and but you know, what you can start with the clients you already have. But you’ve got to have access, the key is you have to have access to the tools that give you that information to be able to advise. So if you’re out there, and you’re like, oh, yeah, I’m logging into five different payroll services. And so I’d have to gather that information to be able to give insights, well, you know, you might want to think twice, right? And that’s a one example. But, you know, I think for people to get started, is that a good start? Is that a good suggestion?

Sean Duncan 18:58
And actually was really funny, I didn’t tell you this earlier. I just realized that here at Scaling, I’ve had no less than three different CPAs come up to me from prior conferences and thanked me about the advice and tips I gave them on the change how it changed their business in their lives. And I’m like, I this was the stand aside of the booth. And we’re chit chatting, right? Love that. It doesn’t have to be big. And this is really, really, really important. Okay, so let me roll back to advisory. What is advisory and you can be this intimidating umbrella of the universe of I got to get their entities, right. And I’ve got to tell them the right technology, and I got to tell them apps stop. When you do a tax return. Do you stop for five minutes and go? Is there anything else I see they can do here? That’s advisory. Now some of you do that. Some of you don’t. We all know plenty of practitioners that just go and throw it out. And they say, Well, if there’s a did you miss something? It was like they didn’t give me the form. So I don’t know. Well, that’s not who we want to be. Pause, look and go. Do you want to do a retirement account? Hey, did you have mileage just Take a moment. That’s the incubator for an advisory. Then when you go, you know what, guys, it’s been two and a half years now and you still have never done a retirement account or you’ve never written off a vehicle or you’ve never done the Augusta rule or whatever you want to say whatever you think. Tell them how they can do that this year, you switched it to Proactiv. You know, great software, you hate that software, you love this software, and you tell them why you’ve advised them on software, you have all this wonderful insight, just start telling them, just start finding a way to help them now if you bill by the hour, it’s really easy. You set a meeting, you discuss it, you build, we do a fixed fee service, we do a subscription service, and we do project stuff. So we have a different pricing model, but it’s whatever fits what you’re trying to accomplish. And I would then say before you go completely nuts and try to give all the advice and Accountant Connect is amazing. The tools that are out there, you don’t have to even use a tool. Now we do we love going into accountant connect and noodling up a number and saying, Hey, all this metric. But it’s, it’s just using knowledge and sharing it with your client to start with. And then as you get going, and this is extremely important. You talked about this in your session is who’s a good client? What’s Who are you trying to help? And Who you trying to serve? If you want to help everyone, you’re really helping No one. Who are you best suited for? Do you happen to have accidentally have a ton of knowledge in trucking? Go help truckers, it’s Who do you want to help? You know, I really like beer. So I think I want to help some breweries. Breweries man, great. I love helping physicians. I love I know what the impact they make in other people’s lives, how many lives they literally save how hard they work, they make good earnings. So don’t get me wrong, it’s still there’s a business model. But it’s if I help a physician be more successful, they can be in practice longer, which then can help other people. And it has this extrapolation effect. So we’re working on building a model where we can coach and teach CPAs this business advisory, not there yet, hold tight. But we’re trying to we’re trying to build our procedure manual in a way that we can give it to a CPA and help them and my theory is and this is my big angle version. If I help one CPA in my career, started advising all of their clients. How many clients that guy have look at that report? 300? Yeah, I helped 300 families by helping one CPA. Absolutely. That comes back to my mission. My mission is, if and you we’ve talked about this before, if I’m at work, it has to matter. What’s my barometer of matter? If I’m not with my wife, and kids, it pet her freaking count. Yes. And so if I can go in and help, that’s why I speak that’s why I go on stage, I can help 500 people, it’s not because look at me, it’s right. I’m in a room and I can help 500 people in one shot. That’s impactful in my work matters.

Dawn Brolin 22:50
That’s world changing. You know, at the end of the day, that ripple effect goes hard.

Sean Duncan 22:53
Oh, yeah. And you could be you stood up in front of the room ago, did you know short term rentals are actually considered active income? Wait, what I thought rentals were passive, not subject to the passive loss rules. Did you know that? Did you not know that? Guess what, you know what? Now, you can use that to tell someone. And it’s this constant little cycle of learning. And it’s again, I get excited about it. Because every time I learn a little gem of something, I’m thinking about who needs to know that it’s advisory. That’s all it is. It’s not it’s not this massive project. Just start helping people. And you were an advisor. Congratulations, you’ve graduated to advisory because he gave somebody suggestions.

Dawn Brolin 23:31

Sean Duncan 23:32

Dawn Brolin 23:33
Advisory, I think came from the word advice.

Sean Duncan 23:36
I believe it’s from its Latin roots of ad-vice…

Dawn Brolin 23:38
Advice. That’s the that’s the acronym for the whatever. So anyway, yeah. So So with that, too, I would imagine what’s really nice being able to do the adviser people, putting clients in the best position you can help them be in. And for us, we were at people, it’s all good. Doesn’t matter. But for us, I mean, I don’t know about you, we’ll just talk for a hot second about rev share. But I don’t know about you, Shawn. But listen, number one, I don’t want to deal with payroll. Some of you that are listening, love to do your own payroll, you’ve got your own payroll service going and you love it. And, and I love that you love it. And that’s fine. But for people who are more driven on that advisory work, or, you know, just want to ship their business, and I’ve talked to some people here who are I don’t want apparel anymore. Great. I look at it that listen. I’ll refer clients to them. I would still want my hands on it. I want my eyes on it still, but I don’t want to do the actual technical work of the payroll. Not only that, but ADP will pay me to bring them clients and customers. Now for me. I love that because when a client calls me and says or sends me Hey, Brolin, I got a notice from the Connecticut Department of Labor which by the way is so freakin far behind in the filing I chugged my choke them out. And so I get the notices from Canada. I get it from my own payroll, but I go in and I go and enter that service requests. But when I do it for a client, I don’t charge them for that. Right? It’s not it’s not that’s not a value added service to deal with that. So ADP pays me referral fee for for bringing them business and that covers any of that extra work I may need to do. And it also can help you buy a boat! I don’t know if you knew that.

Sean Duncan 25:19
Apparently it is!

Dawn Brolin 25:20
It’s an alleged thing!

Sean Duncan 25:21
A little extra money seems to be available to use for whatever you choose to do.

Dawn Brolin 25:25
Whatever you’re just it’s so weird, like, I don’t know.

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

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Episode Summary

Dania Buchanan, President, SmartVault Corporation, talks about embracing the hybrid working culture, work life balance, and how SmartVault is helping accounting firms make the most of all of the new opportunities available to them.


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Dawn Brolin 0:05
Alright everybody. Hello and welcome back to another episode of the DM Disruption with myself, Dawn Brolin is your host and I’m here with Dania Buchanan from SmartVault. Now if you know me, you know, I’m a SmartVault girl, because I’m smart. So I use smart vault. I don’t use dumb vault, I use smart vault that makes sense. Right. SmartVault was a great presence at Scaling New Heights didn’t you know, amazing? Yeah, you know, I think four or five people there anyway. And it just, it was awesome. But we really missed, I’m not gonna lie.

Dania Buchanan 0:34
The team was excited to get on the road for sure. The team was very excited. I think that was the biggest conference we’ve been to so far. I think the sales team went to one of the Florida CPA conferences last week. But they all said Acaling New Heights was wonderful. And it really makes me happy. Yeah, that everybody came out. Yeah.

Dawn Brolin 0:55
Well, there’s such so many really great things that are happening. And you and I kind of just talked a little bit before we went live here, but just talking about people getting back together again, and how important that is. And, you know, just been through like you say, normal. Tell me tell me what you said before because it was perfect. Like just normal. It’s normally just over the top.

Dania Buchanan 1:15
Yeah, I think people are desperate for physical connection with other people. Because this is a service oriented group. Right, right. Accounting, accountants, professional accountants provide a service. I know, they don’t have to provide it live. But they’ve built their practices in their businesses on relationships. So they are relationship driven in their core, no matter if they do it remotely or in person. But I do think the tribe of accounting professionals is a really tight knit group. So I think they were looking for a chance to go give each other some high fives, and in, in a fun way, but I think in a more meaningful way, just to give each other a hug and say, hey, you know, I’m sorry, for the hard time that you’ve gone through, I think, no one, you know, this has been a shared experience globally. And there’s no one no human that has been left untouched by by some component of it. So I think there’s also that which is makes the whole tribe such it’s such a cool bunch, man.

Dawn Brolin 2:25
And we did, we had a really good time. And it was, again, just great to see each other and, you know, seeing I mean, really smart. Like you guys are all part of our families, right? So we all want to say, like gravitate to certain applications in their teams, because of who they are. And you’re like, Oh, my goodness, it’s so good to see you like IV. I hadn’t seen it in a while. So it was great to be able to see him and he’s just such a great a great sport. And we did have a great interview. So Fritz and I and IV and I had a couple short short recordings that we did that we’re gonna be able to get out there onto the DM Disruption as well, yeah, so we just…

Dania Buchanan 3:02
Both good talkers, yeah, both great guys.

Dawn Brolin 3:04
Just intelligent. We talked a lot about like customer service. And, and just being there and having that for drive like smart ball. You know, and I don’t I, I’m not gonna say anything, because I’m not really sure Fritz told me I could or couldn’t say anything. But, you know, just knowing you guys have acquired a couple of additional applications that might be moving in some new directions. Not new directions. But…

Dania Buchanan 3:24
Yes, yeah. So we bought last month, we did two technology acquisitions. And we looked, we just we just literally whiteboard workflow, we whiteboard upcoming professional workflow, like, where could we plug in features that will augment and make the workflow more efficient? So we came up with two one? You just mentioned quoters, right, which is a cloning feature, which is brilliant. So if you’re not using an electronic quoting tool you need to be so we’re gonna bundle one in natively. So there was a little technology acquisition we did there and the other one was dock down, which is form fill, which IV will tell you, Daniel will tell you we’ve been asked about for years now. Right, which is this profession in any other professional services profession is going to have want someone to fill in a form, right? And they’re going to want to know that part of their DMS. So both of those pieces of technology. We’re hoping we’ll do a proof of concept hoping by mid next year, so once every one emerges from tax season, maybe have a couple of beta features for customers to try and then into production towards the end of next year. Yeah…

Dawn Brolin 4:44
Super exciting, it is super exciting. And like I always say to people, listen, if your software providers are not moving forward, they are moving backwards so they’re not looking for, you know, what problem can they solve next, right, you’ve already got the document storage nailed down. That’s just solid like you can’t beat that. and being able to move to another sector or another segment. And I think you’re right, you’re not using quoting electronic quotes, like, you know, and I teach a lot about that in the book is to say, listen, you know, you got to be sending out quotes, you got to have a place people can go get their tax returns, and I tell people this, I charge 100 bucks to print your tax return. If you can’t go in line, log in and grab it yourself, then come on, man, like now you’re just thinking I’m your mom or something. Right?

Dania Buchanan 5:27
But that is an example of not valuing your time at zero, your time is not valued at zero. So your time has a value on it, you have now provided an assisted way where customers can go get their own information. If they don’t want to go that route, then your time is still not valued at zero, right? I’m happy to go print it for you. It’s $100. Yeah, good for you. Yeah, we’ve been encouraging customers to figure out how to pass on the charge for smart light, you are providing a service so that at any point in time, I can go look at the K1 that I uploaded in my vault from 2013. That is a service you’re giving your customers that document portal that secure. That’s a service that’s not valued at zero in mind, right?

Dawn Brolin 6:14
No, it’s not, no it isn’t. And people will, you know, they’ll email me and say, Oh, hey, I need a copy of my 2019 W2 , and I just go click, send link, done. Yeah, like that. If you can’t, if that doesn’t work for you all I need you to go for I don’t even remember, honestly, last time, somebody asked me to print it for them. But I also I charged them on every quote that goes out for tax returns, they get a $35 technology fee, everybody pays it, no one’s ever complained. I’ll say no one.

Dania Buchanan 6:43
So done. When you go by your when you bought your red sox tickets, you did it online, you were charged a service fee, a convenience fee, a ticket fee, whatever, you were charged for the technology that allowed you to buy your ticket online. This is common practice. But what I think happens is typically some of the accounting profession not all have been have shied away from charging for a valuable service that they provide. So again, it’s like where do you value your time, your time is worth something. So and it’s nominal fee, and most will pay that for the convenient convenience fee. That’s the, that’s my favorite word that they charge.

Dawn Brolin 7:28
Okay, it’s true. It was convenient, you know, darn it. You know, you don’t want that. But you do so yeah. And I mean, over the last year and a half, when we do talk about this a lot about what you know, what changes, we all had to make a change in some capacity. Everybody did, whether it was okay. My customer, my client doesn’t feel comfortable coming to the office. So how are we going to sign documents like, thank goodness that I had already had that all nailed down with, you know, Lecert, Smart Vault to DocuSign. So I have a system, and I was good, but there were so many that weren’t. And I watched them on social media, you watch the people who are like, I don’t even know if I want to do this anymore, which is a funny segue to talk a little bit about your son, because people have made shifts and made changes and did something totally different than they were used to doing. So tell us about that, this is awesome.

Dania Buchanan 8:19
So for your listeners, right, my son, I think he came to two conferences, which no one will remember I don’t remember but anyway, long story short is he graduated University of Texas as a film student he went into filmmaking documentary filmmaking To be specific, had a had a short couple of years of getting documentaries made and out there. He came to a couple of the accounting shows as the videographer to film customer interviews and things were which is where you and some others have seen him. Anyway, long story short 2020 hits, right he is has three I think productions in flight all came to a grinding halt. Well, he’s not he’s early in his career so he doesn’t have a big tranche of money sitting in a savings account he can go draw from right so not knowing when there’s an end to all of this he decided to go back to school got himself into a UTS grad program and Masters of Public accounting and will sit for his CPA next spring so who graduated in May which is I have this very right brained kid this filmmaker kid but if for any of you don’t know the five minutes or five second version of documentary filmmaking when you’re on a fairly low budget million $2 million, right he did all the accounting work himself. You have to start an LLC, you have to pay payroll, you have to hire people, you have to file quarterly taxes on any they get grant money, they get donation, money, etc. And so I was just telling Dawn before we started recording, the class they should teach you in film school is how to manage a film, a low budget film. They don’t teach you that. So anyway, long story short, his big pivot is going back and getting his CPA so that he can support the media and entertainment industry, primarily the independent filmmakers. And those guys, really, they end up losing money. They don’t know what to do. They’re a little lost in the business side of it, they can all make a movie for sure. They’re all super talented. So that’s an example. Like you were saying earlier, none of us escaped impact from this the smart vault business. Like many employers, right, we sent everybody home may, March 13, I think Friday the 13th, when everything started unwinding, we ordered monitors for everybody be set up at home and thinking it was going to be a couple of months. Who knows. We ended up hiring. I think it’s close to 30 people just over the pandemic. Wow, people we know buddy shared physical space with. So no. So we definitely, you know, grew right that we provided a service that all of a sudden was a core part of the tech stack. Not not a nice to have a must have must have. So yeah, I must have. We had odd industries coming into we had ISD’S and school districts coming in we had sold to universities and colleges in the past, but not not at the ISD level. But of course, you’ve never had a time where teachers and administrators were sent home and they still have to process new hire paperwork and just a million things. Yeah, so this work has changed forever. I think employee employers like us will continue with a hybrid or remote policy. I’m sitting, we’re sitting in the office, I’m sitting in an office today, we have a really cool office down in the middle of the Houston Heights area, which for anyone who’s ever been to Houston, very cool area of town. But we have I would say maybe 60% of everybody hear you know, everyone comes in maybe a couple days a week. And some weeks, you know, some weeks not. So we have very, very flexible hybrid schedule. And that meets the needs of our think there’s we have such a young workforce too. They like to hang out together and eat together, you know, socialize together. So I think kind of the hybrid seems to seems to fit us but yeah, some some tough decisions along the way, for sure. And some pivos.

Dawn Brolin 12:34
Definitely. and that’s amazing to me, and I honestly never really thought about it before. But you’re right, like a school system, or just anyone who needs to be managing documents when you can’t be physically in front of each other handing them out.

Dania Buchanan 12:48
And they’re notoriously paper based, right? They have administrators with big rooms of filing cabinets and all these papers file. And, you know, there’s the whole FERPA thing with being able to protect your student information. And that is certainly a compliance mandate, right. So they had to get comfortable, they had to pull their IT guys and they have very legacy systems. For all of the accountants that might watch this, you think you’re behind like the ISPs way back, and they’re not even on this. I’m sorry, any ISD is watching this…

Dawn Brolin 13:23
It’s just us being honest, we’re always honest on the DM Disruptions, so don’t worry.

Dania Buchanan 13:27
Face your truth, face your truth!

Dawn Brolin 13:29
Face it, it is what it is. And the great part about is you can shift and you can change and you did that you they do that that was a really difficult time. You know, think about the school system and the kids and just, it’s been wicked. I know, for us from the you know, college level, even that, you know, we’re still Yeah, still getting through that, you know, with all these mandates that are going on, and too many places, in my opinion, whatever, but not not going to get into that but just, there’s just so, everything is just

Dania Buchanan 13:57
It feels very chaotic.

Dawn Brolin 13:59
I mean, kid and I see it kids are struggling going back to the classroom, even at the college level, I can’t even imagine a younger level, where they’re just like, I just can’t go to class, like I just don’t, I just don’t not comfortable. It’s not even really that they’re afraid, but it’s just they’re just, they’re just uncomfortable. You know, it’s like, it’s really tough to watch that, you know, and they have it’s really tough, you know, I mean, I just love sports, I love to talk about sports, but we’re really the college level really got hit hard, you know, at the professional level or even the D 1 level they had money coming out their ears, they could do different things to battle the challenge there right and for us we’re D3 levels so we just don’t have the funding support. You know, we raise all of our own money to do everything, I mean to buy a pair of shoes we all we have to everybody buys our own right.? So that’s been really hard to watch and you know, think about 15, 20, 30 years from now and you know, I’m not even here but one of those ports, you know, they got to maneuver and it’s hard!

Dania Buchanan 14:57
It’s hard I, we have seen Well, I talked about my son who’s now going to be an accountant. So anybody want to offer him a job next summer? He’s,….

Dawn Brolin 15:07
He’s up for it! And he knows he knows remote technology.

Dania Buchanan 15:11
Oh certainly he does! Well, we’ve watched this generation, right this mid 20s generation, they’ll change the dynamic of the workforce coming in that I can’t I shouldn’t call them kids. The younger kids Smart Vault work staff, right. Sure come in and they they just don’t accept an old way of doing things right. Data’s always on, everything’s always available. You were talking about college aged kids and professors and I have one of those two, I think our girls are about the same age. Yeah, I had a daughter who finished her senior year in university from her apartment bedroom in Austin, right. That’s not that you were talking about. I mean, that’s, that’s hard. And that is allowed a level of mental anxiety I think for a generation that is, you know, feels robbed. You know, they all lost internships, they all lost. They, their tracks that they thought was so defined was just was just blown away, just blown away. And so they, I think the resiliency that they’ve had to show the coping skills they’ve had to develop will take them the rest of their lives. I told him I no doubt once you have built this level of coping skills, you’re you’re unstoppable at this point on it. Yeah, you’re unstoppable. But you’re talking about sports. I think there’s nothing I’m as a sports person two. And I think we also went and saw some playoff games right at Minute Maid and I think in a climate like we have been in the last two years, nothing brings together a community of people than rooting for a common team. Doesn’t matter. Everything that you that divide, you falls away, right. And everyone fiving and hugging everyone, you’re thinking at the d3, the D one, the the college level two table sports also, like, what do we have to cheer for? What? Where is that unifying element? Right. We missed that for the better part of year two. And I think it all just, it just is a pylon, you know, it’s way up here. And you just, Where’s, where’s all that fun?

Dawn Brolin 17:19
Yeah, absolutely. No, you’re totally right. And I think, you know, with that these kids, this this group that are that are fighting through things we didn’t have to fight through, which I think sometimes which makes us crazy, because we’re just like, Dude, we would leave our house first thing in the morning, we’d be home when mom rang the bell at like, eight o’clock at night for dinner, or whatever it was, you know…

Dania Buchanan 17:38
We would say don’t come home until 5pm. Please stay gone!

Dawn Brolin 17:45
Oh, man, you’re playing a sport because you’re not coming home early from school. You’re not getting out to 10 You’re saying, fine. Pick a sport, pick a club. I don’t care what you do, but don’t come here. And so, you know, for us, I think, you know, and I know because, you know, I have two girls, and they’re 22 and 23. So, you know, just knowing it’s like, they just, I feel like they depend on us a lot more. And I’m like, Dude, I didn’t have to do this for my kids. You know, my dad never did this for me. You know, it’s like, okay, we we got to just understand that we have a gap between you know, those mid 20s, early to mid to late 20s. And then I’m 51. And I’m not afraid to say that. But you know, it’s like we just we don’t have the same thing. So I find that it’s when they were teenagers. It was easy. Right? And now that they’re in college or graduate just graduated as well. Yeah. And she and she went back we set her back to American University. For her senior year she came home right when we, you know, everybody had to go home on March 3, right? Then that next fall? She’s like, I’m like, what are you gonna do? No, in no in classroom at American University, they never reopen the classrooms. They couldn’t even go on campus in 2020. I don’t like and you want the same money? Like okay, get me started on that. Okay, you’re not even your electric bill just went back down by 70%. Because you’re not lighting up all those buildings, your you know, your you don’t need your guys to mow the grass. You don’t let anybody on campus? What’s their look at? So, you know I have some of those phone calls.

Dania Buchanan 19:11
No tuition concession at all, none.

Dawn Brolin 19:13
And I’m just like, so we decided we were going to focus on what was best for her. And so we set her back down, but she had an off campus apartment anyway, she had already been on an off campus. So we set her back because I’m like, you know what, you still need to be around your friends. You need to have challenges with your friends. You need to have, like, you can’t stand each other for a couple of weeks or whatever. That’s what the college experience. That’s part of it how to deal with people. Right? And you know, they didn’t miss a beat with the technology. The kids.

Dania Buchanan 19:41
Oh, no, no, my daughter did. Her job was the incoming freshmen like she was the orientation leader and that her job was the summer before her senior year when we all went home. Right? And so they just told the leaders figure out how to do it remotely. and still deliver a freshman experience. So she just like, hey, I’m gonna figure out how to do it remotely and make the Zoom meetings fun and all of that. And she figured it out. They do. They’re resilient. I think we’re in good hands with this with this wealth generation, like, they’ve never really had a lot of adversity. And then they got a whole bunch of bunch dropped on.

Dawn Brolin 20:22
And I think that that’s a really important point. So number one, the shift of your son moving towards the accounting industry and understand that there’s a need there for that for film and, and theatre and those kinds of those kinds of organizations, which is awesome. So think about this practitioners, you’re listening to the podcast here, right? Guess what you need to be doing, if you’re not doing it already? You need to be accepting into your brain, opening up the coconut and saying, I need to make sure I have the technology in place, because if you want to hire talented people, you want to hire people that can work independently, you better have the tools in order for them to do that. And that’s the whole point. It’s like, you know, I know for myself, I just been striving to get a well oiled machine. You know, since when I was 1999. When I first started, I knew when I had my kids, I wanted to be remote, I was in a bad partnership where they didn’t believe that because they didn’t have kids and blah, blah, blah. So I left there knowing I wanted to spend time with my kids. So that was my main focus was being able to, you know, be wherever I wanted to take a kid to New York City for the for a week of camp, I did that I took the other one out to Seattle to another one down to Florida went swimming with dolphins. Because I knew if I can become more efficient and more profitable, I could enjoy those things I’d have the money to pay for, and I have the time to do it. And so that’s the whole message of the Designated Motivator for Accounting Professionals is not just have a well oiled tech stack, so whatever. No, it’s because you know why you need to be living. We have to take and this is a thing, Danny, we all we always say this, I think when there’s change, it’s changes hard. But but what’s at the other end of the rainbow is worth every moment you put into it right?

Dania Buchanan 22:00
Every moment. You only have one one shot at this life. But to your point about addressing the the constituency of your listeners, right. So I have a kid in his mid 20s Who pivoted right interest that that’s only interesting to some people. I think it’s his group of this the that MPA program. So he said a University of Texas, the business, red McCombs School of Business, so super competitive to be in there, this profession is about to get a lot of incoming. My sons, right, right. They’re coming in, they’re tech savvy. And they want so his first couple of questions on all the interviews he went on, right? What’s your remote policy? What kind of tech tea like how am I enabled, they’re coming in, they’re coming in ready to work, for sure. Coming in with high work standard high level of ethics, but they’re coming in knowing that they’re going to bring some change in and if you want to have a smart person on your team, you need to enable them to do their best and most vibrant work wherever they they choose to do it. And that’s what the smart vault team here operates. And my commitment to the team is to I’m just enabling a bunch of smart people to do their work. It’s not all on me, right? More help us. So this is that’s my commitment. I’m here to provide a culture and an enablement path for you to do the best and most vibrant work of your career. It’s not up to me to dictate the place you sit to go do that, right. Sometimes you guys want to come in the office work, play cornhole in the at the end of your day, and go out or whatever. And sometimes you want to do that at home where you can have dedicated focus time. But that’s what this generation is looking for. That is what they’re looking for. So if you’re a forward thinking accounting professional, it’s not just have a tech stack that it creates efficiency for your own practice. But eventually, you’ll have to have a succession plan. Eventually, even if you don’t want to grow your practice anymore, and you’re not you don’t need to be efficient because you want to hire my son or anyone else. Right? That’s 25, he’s actually 27, so..

Dawn Brolin 24:24
He just seems like a little baby still.

Dania Buchanan 24:26
eventually, there’s an eventuality to your own financial planning, right? So I’m sure that when you go value a business, it’s a lot easier for you to go sell your business if everything is nice and tidy. The clients are there their 10 years of documents are there for the acquiring firm. I would say that’s that’s that’s pretty good value there.

Dawn Brolin 24:50
That’s exactly one of my biggest points for me is I’m you know, I’m I don’t want to work until I’m 75. I just don’t I got things I want to do. I know, I know I want to be I want to be out there. I don’t know I want to be on a 45 foot boat that I buy and I can learn how to drive it myself. I don’t want to depend on anybody else, right? So I have things that I want to do I want to, you know, my daughter’s gonna be moving to LA actually because she’s a she’s a musical theater and film major. She graduated with that. So she said, Mom, I’m going for it. I’m going to go out and, she’s leaving in January. She’s like, I’m going to go for it. I just, I if that’s not what I meant to do, like your son. She’s like, the maybe I’m just helping out maybe I’m an Assistant Producer, maybe I’m a maybe I get the coffee. She’s like, I don’t care. I want to be in the industry in some way. She definitely doesn’t want to do accounting, we’ve had her she, I tried. She both of my girls are like Mom, no! Stay away from me!

Dania Buchanan 25:48
She’s gonna work 80 hours a week on some sleppy film set, trust me, versus what you guys are doing? Not working 80 hours a week, right? But providing a service, that’s a professional service, she may change your mind when when the financial equation comes into the picture.

She’s very altruistic Oh, so my daughter who graduated with her, she’s 22. She’s going getting her certification to go teach. Because she sees she feels a little bit called right. I even though I think she’ll probably love the teaching, but hate the parents, but she’s got high school English, right? But you know, you just kind of, you have to encourage them to pave their own way. But you’re gonna want to go see her in Los Angeles and do the same amount of work in Los Angeles. And you can do that, because you’ve got a tech stack and an automation and efficiency in your practice that let you do that.

Dawn Brolin 26:43
Absolutely. And that’s, you know, that’s what we it’s just so true from a value pricing perspective of your business itself. When I’m able to say okay, here you go, here’s my login. They’re like, Oh, but yeah, it’s all right there. And here it is, um, I am very confident that we’ll get more money for my business because of how organized it is, as opposed to somebody walking in with a million file cabinets. And not even knowing which clients in the file cabinets or current clients or old clients were smart ball, I can just be like, oh, let’s move into an archive folder. Let’s get them out of here and archive them away. So that the only thing that’s in my folders are live clients that are these are people you need to deal with. And you’ve got, you know, I’ve got carbon for my workflow. So they can, everything’s in there, whatever thing we’ve been doing, is right there. And so, you know, I think and I think honestly, at the end of the day, the document storage is probably the most important, because it does hold all of that history, it has everything that you need to be able to evaluate a client and move on. And so, you know, for us, that’s just a no brainer. And we’re, you know, so excited to always be, you know, improving our process and bringing on new client bringing on new vendors. I mean, we just found this app called bookkeeper. And it basically it syncs with square, and all your like WooCommerce e commerce types of stores. Yeah. Oh, my God in this, my good buddy, my Tom used to work it into it. He’s part of their crew. Now. He’s so awesome. But I went there. And I went with it with the open mindedness to find some new apps that I might not know about, right. I don’t know everything, and I don’t. So I went there. And I saw this and I’m like, Oh, my goodness, we were just harping over a client, who has square Pay Pal, and all these things. And then we’re going into booking journal entries. And yet we’re, like, my one of my team was not booking it as a gross income and then minus fees. And I’m like, it’s so simple! But why are we someone’s transaction?

Dania Buchanan 28:36
Somone’s problem, right? Someone solved this problem.

Dawn Brolin 28:39
And it was like, automatic. So you know, I and that’s what I love is we’re always looking out for the client, we want to make it more efficient, we want to be more productive, and more profitable. And I want to bring more value, you know, like just them being able to go get their tax return, that adds value for them. You know, they’re not just having their texture and go find it.

Dania Buchanan 28:58
That’s table stakes. Right now, what you’re describing is the tech stack that’s ever growing. We are also a small business, right? We’re just a small business that makes a product called sparkle. But we constantly we have an ops department that is looking at efficiency at every step, right? If we can plug a little piece of tech in, so that we can solve a pain point and make our business more efficient and run faster than absolutely we’re doing that so that we’re not gonna we shouldn’t be debating anymore whether you should adopt tech, right? I think now, it’s an evaluation process. I think that right? Yes, we’re past that 2008 argument. But then I’ll just, but you have to do it. Right? Or you lose confidence in doing it just like what you said, there’s so many like the word app didn’t exist, you know, 10 years ago, like nobody said, apps right? But now it’s like, it’s sort of like working out right. The more you do it, the more confident you are. So always be looking for little tools that you can plug in for a specific part of your workflow to just streamline, even if you only solve it for two clients, and you can find a way to pass that cost along, then the techs paid for and you’re more efficient, you bought an hour back of time, two hours actually high, that goes to your bottom line that is profit for Yeah, from people bring in tech, to drive profitability and growth. The more you do it the easier it gets.

Dawn Brolin 30:29
Definitely, and the client experience is extremely critical. Because if it’s a pain for them, they’re going to go somewhere else, they’re just, if it’s not, you got to make it easy for them, you’ve got to make it, you know, want to be as available as possible to them, but still live a life. And so that’s why you need the tools in order to, you know, satisfy those client needs, but at the same time, be able to take care of yourself a little bit to mentally and physically and things like that. So…

Dania Buchanan 30:53
Are you seeing a change, and I don’t know how I quantify this, I’ll just use you and ice age and younger versus new and ice age and older, older, the younger group, they don’t want to call you. They don’t want it always to be on right. So the older group, so we do, we are sort of in two seasons, I think and a little bit of a transition transitional state when it comes to clients, and what we hear that a lot 20% of my clients are just never going to do this, right. It’s like, I accept that. And maybe that’s acceptable, right? Like, you’re only ever going to get 70% that then every new client that comes in needs to be in the new way of doing business. I absolutely, you know, we have, you know, hundreds and hundreds of customers who tell us that to like, the older clients are just not gonna they want to come in, they want to sign their return and all of that.

Dawn Brolin 31:52
We’ve said greasy, and really amazing adoption from our clients really just, you know, I’m just trying to think of, I think I had, if I had five tax client appointments this year, that would be a lot. That’s, that’s how changed they are. And you know, for those that are still people are still gonna say just lack of a better way to describe it, but they’re still afraid, they’re still afraid of that human contact. And I get that, I get that. So that’s where for me, it’s like whatever I can do to make the experience as best I can for them and as efficient, you know, get quality and value, then that’s what I’m going to do. And we really didn’t we saw, we probably i i was looking at my numbers again the other day, we brought on about 75 new clients in 2020 75. From across the country all over the place all over. Yeah, all over. And it was just like, we’re just we’re looking for somebody that can just, you know, accept our documents and do our tax returns and blah, blah, blah. And it was just insane. And it was awesome. And so now it’s just so automated, I just I can think off the top of my head, I think three people that I pretty sure will come back and come in to the office. And that’s it. And…

Dania Buchanan 33:02
But can 75 become 150. And it doesn’t really tax the firm too much because of the automation? That’s yeah,

Dawn Brolin 33:09
That’s where it goes.

Dania Buchanan 33:10
That’s where you’ve that’s where the payoff is, right is or if if you looked at your whole client base, and you just wanted to work less, right? So it just it just where you’re where your motivation is. I remember learning this early on in my in my career at Smart vault many years ago, where I’m so fueled, because I’ve been in tech my whole life that growth, growth growth, right. And accountants were very quick to say, I don’t want to grow Danya want to work as much like, oh, okay, thanks. Okay, got it. Well, yeah, then you can just work less to if that’s what motivates. Yeah, whatever it is. But I think after this last two years, the work life balance is across the board. Now, I think people now are really got hit with a taste of what is important in life, right? Whether, however, this shared experience happened to all of us, none of us are unaffected. And so I do, it’s made, myself included just re-up on what is really valuable. And work is a component of that, or people wouldn’t work, right, there’s a value that we get out of being needed and contributing in a meaningful way. But those of us myself included, who let work monopolize so much of our of our extra time, that’s starting to get pulled back a little bit. Yeah. And so automation and tech coming in to help you with that balance is really important so that you can go do the things that make you you outside of outside of work. And I think that is been a really big learning if I’m being transparent just for my own personal journey.

Dawn Brolin 34:55
Yeah, no doubt about it. Yeah, I mean, I you know, I just be honest, I don’t Don’t come to work till 10. Like, don’t tell anyone! But I just I’m not a morning person. And it’s not like I just want time for myself in the morning, I literally just want to lay in my bed, watch, Tik Tok, I just do and you know, for half an hour and just…

Dania Buchanan 35:18
But’s that’s your time, right? That’s Dawn time.

Dawn Brolin 35:21
And that’s ok! Guess what? It’s ok.

Dania Buchanan 35:23
That’s right. It is okay. But I think the all of us need to find out whatever that is that balance that that makes us unique and not so stretched, then as a country. I mean, we have an office in London, and I think culturally, you just look at the differences in work ethic is still the same shade just are able to, they put a higher value on their non working life than we historically have. So yeah, just I think to me, that’s a good silver lining for the last couple of years. Just stop back, stop, think what’s important to you, and then structure your life. So you’ve got time for that thing. And technology can help you to do that so easily. Can it really stop pushing the paper man? Yeah, you don’t need to do it.

Dawn Brolin 36:17
Don’t gotta push that paper, which is awesome. Well, Dania, this has been an awesome conversation. I think a lot of people you know, I love the story about your son. I think that that’s just exactly kind of what people need to hear that that’s okay, that, you know, whatever shift people are making, it’s all okay, but we really are all in this together. And, you know, you know, my team role is starting lineup, my whole focus and goal for that is to help all of you out there who don’t have the technology in place, because you feel like it’s a fire hose because you feel like there’s so many decisions to make. Listen, I know what’s working for me, and I’m always looking to improve and improve but you know, it’s really getting that core, that core group those core components of your workflow and within your office and how you’re doing things is what what I’m trying to teach you here on the DM Disruption. So Dania, thank you so much for taking some time with me today. Your you know, we’ve been friends for a long time we’ve been long you know, always always fun to hang out with you. And I did miss you at Scaling New Heights, but I know I will see you in the future for.

Dania Buchanan 37:16
You will for sure! And thanks for having me on any time, love you girl!

Dawn Brolin 37:22
Love you girl, thank you everybody for listening to the disruption will talk to you next time. Thanks so much. Bye bye!

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Episode Summary

Dawn Brolin, CPA, CFE joins Jody Padar, The Radical CPA, to talk about how Jody used social media to connect with her community, and how she’s a motivator to those around her. They also discuss how everyone can improve their professional relationships by assuming trust within their colleagues and business partners. Listen now to find out how you can be a better motivator, and how developing trust in those around can better your community as a whole!

How Jody Built A Team of Motivators

Jody talks about how she was an early adopter of social media, and how through that, she was able to foster connections and motivators very quickly. 

When you start connecting to those motivators, then all of a sudden it starts to snowball. So like instead of just being snowflakes now, all of a sudden, you’re really a force to be reckoned with,” says Jody. She credits social media for her success, but specifies a lot of that success comes from the motivators she was able to connect with online.

She also talks about her love for teaching, and how social media has allowed her to teach more people than she ever thought possible.

Getting Back to One on One Connections and Assuming Trust

Dawn talks about how making personal connections can be hard and how many people are suffering in their work relationships. Jody agrees, and points to the issue of not having a developed sense of trust in those you work with, and says the way to solve these issues is to stop assuming people aren’t going to respect you.  

“I think it starts with going into that conversation, assuming they have trust, and assuming both sides are trustworthy,” says Jody.

Jody’s Motivation Success Story

Jody shares her biggest source of happiness is being able to teach so many people, and hearing success stories from people she didn’t know she had an impact on. She shares a story about a person who messaged her on LinkIn, who said they were starting their own firm all because of her advice and teachings. She shares how she never thought it would be possible that her ideas would make such an impact on the people in her community.

Jody also talks about how she still needs motivation from her support team to help move her forward in her life and with her career goals. “Sometimes you need someone else to believe you in before you can believe in yourself,” Jody also shares.


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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.

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Jody, tell us about yourself. Where are you from? What do you do? What do you like?

Jody Padar 0:53
Hey, Dawn. So I’m Jody Padar the radical CPA, I’m one of probably only few branded CPAs. that’s out there. Right? I didn’t know that he pays could have a brand, but I created one. But I’m a longtime practitioner who has recently joined kind of the other side, right? So I was one of the early cloud adopters, and really early social media enthusiast and really kind of, I’ll say defined or pioneered what the new firm would look like in the cloud. And I did that for 14 years evolving my own firm and, you know, helping other people get to their firms. And to kind of like, I’ll say, again, define what Cloud firms look like. And last year, I joined bot keeper as Vice President of Strategy to take it to the next level. Because like, like, What’s radical? Well, cloud isn’t radical anymore. And the next level radical is artificial intelligence and machine learning. So now, it’s my job at bot keeper to help really firms make that transition and learn how machine learning and artificial intelligence is going to change their firms just like Cloud did so many years ago, so it’s couldn’t be a more perfect job for me. So because I’m always out there teaching and, like sharing. So pretty stuff.

Dawn Brolin 2:04
Absoultley, definitely! And you’re right. I mean, the artificial intelligence conversation wasn’t even a thing 10 years ago, I mean, it’s suitable for you smart people, you for thinkers, of course, right. But you know, and that’s probably one of the interesting things is trying to get this industry we’re like, it’s like push our rope sometimes with them. And, and the whole goal is, we’re not telling them that because we want them to invest in more time and money into something else. We want them to be ahead of the curve. And that’s what you’re doing. You’re doing that and do it very well.

Jody Padar 2:31
For sure! And I think it’s not even about like, everyone thinks that, oh, we’re adopting tech for tech sake, or whatever, because we’re supposed to, but ultimately, it’s about building a lifestyle and having the ability to kind of put time back in your firm and actually get to go home early, or do whatever you want to do grow it, do whatever else because I think so we we get so caught in that, oh, we have to work all these hours. But if we step back, and we automate a lot of stuff, a lot of times we don’t have to work all the hours and we can actually go home on time, which I think is kind of nice.

Dawn Brolin 3:02
Yeah, getting your life back is key. And I think that that’s, you know, if we’re talking about motivation to learn this stuff, whether it’s technology or the AI, the whole entire AI conversation, it’s because we want you to be motivated, not because you’re gonna make more money, like people are really out there saying, I want to make more money, what they want to do is they want to grab their life back. 1% Yeah, if that’s what’s exciting. So with this podcast, my whole goal is to get great motivation messages out to people, and especially in the accounting industry, we really, we need it, we need to remember why we’re doing this, and who we’re doing it for things like that, but really changing lives one person at a time, right? Which is different than motivational speaking, where you’re talking to a big 1000s of people, we’re just trying to get to one person at a time, because that will multiply itself all in of itself. So give us you know, tell us about some motivational moments that you’ve had, that you know that you’ve gone out and help someone else.

Jody Padar 4:00
Well, so I’m gonna take it back to like, my early days and social media, because a lot of people think that social media, like I just came up with 600,000 followers, because I didn’t, right? Like you don’t get 600,000 followers overnight. And in my early days, in Twitter, that’s what I was doing. I mean, I truly was we were connecting with other professionals, but we were motivating each other and we were pushing each other to change and grow and adopt. And I think that’s where, like, I kind of got my, my space that I really love. And it’s because like I have the heart of a teacher, right? And so when I can motivate and teach that I’m happy, and what happens is is you don’t realize that it has such a snowball and a multiplying effect because like you teach someone else and then they teach someone else and then they teach someone else. And I think when you think about even an industry or you know a profession, when you start connecting to those motivators then all of a sudden it starts to snowball. So like instead of just being snowflakes now all of us On, you’re really a force to be reckoned with. And that’s like how social really kind of evolved me and really helped me help move a profession. But I think, again, motivate the profession, right? Because it’s not about selling, it’s never been about selling, it’s about how do I change my firm so I can have time back, right? And what can I do so that I like my job better. And I think if you, if you started from that perspective, then it’s really easy to motivate and help people realize, yeah, we can get through it, if we’re having a struggle on it. Because we know that there’s something better at the end of it. And if you see someone who’s gone before, and you’re helping them, or like they’re helping you, you know, it just keeps going. And it’s funny, because, like you do it, you do it, you do it. And then all of a sudden, you start getting pings back saying, oh my gosh, thank you, blah, blah, blah. And then it’s people you don’t even know who are like telling you that you changed their lives. And you’re like, I, you know, I don’t believe it, right? Like, because you because you didn’t actually touch them, but because you touch someone who touched them. Now, all of a sudden, like you’re making a difference. And to me, that’s kind of what keeps me going, right? Because everyone’s like, well, especially in the early days, I didn’t get paid for any of the social media stuff that I did. It was always just, it was a labor of love. And, and, and that’s what it becomes. Because like when you start affecting people’s lives, then they want to give it back. And then they tell you, and then you know, you kind of feed your ego and you’re like, oh my god, I gotta help more people, because you’re like, like, you have the heart of a teacher. And so then it just becomes a thing.

Dawn Brolin 6:35
Right? Absolutely. And you know, and that’s, that’s one of the things that I find, you know, especially like, you teach a lot of conferences, you do a lot of webinars, you do these things, and you get in front of a lot of people at one time. And you don’t realize the effect, I know that, you know, I’m sure this happened to you too. But I’ve been at a conference, and I’ve done to some kind of a course or class. And you know, we put our heart, soul body, mind, you name it, we put it into what we’re presenting and providing for education, right? And people will come up to you after the session is over. And they’re crying. Like, why are you crying? For like, because I need to hear what you were saying to me. And it’s like, I didn’t even realize I’m just teaching some stuff about fraud. I mean, I don’t know, you know.

Jody Padar 7:17
And I think too, because you put yourself out there, right? So you’re opening yourself up, and you’re sharing. And I think we do it on stage. And we do it in social. But I think when you take it back to if you’re just sitting in your firm, and you do it to the kid sitting next to you or the like the younger professionals sitting next to you, and you help them understand something, it’s the exact same thing, but you’re just doing it at a different level. So, you know, these, these principles can apply to everyone. It’s not like you have to be a speaker or social media person or whatever, you could just be helping the person in the cube next to you. So are like, on the zoom across from you, right? And helping them really understand what what’s happening, because I think too often we get caught in Oh, we got to get it done. And we don’t spend the time to really teach anymore, which is it’s a loss for both sides, because I think it hurts the people who don’t get to receive the teaching. But you know, if you can teach something, it means you really know it too. So it hurts the person who hasn’t had the opportunity to teach because when you learn how to teach, you learn your stuff so much better.

Dawn Brolin 8:23
That’s so totally true. And I love what you said about like the person next to you. So I see, you always talk about the firm of the future. And we talk about the firm of the future and technology and AI and all this, which is important. Don’t get me wrong. But to have a firm that has someone inside of that firm, even if it’s two people, three people, one person, it doesn’t matter. Someone that can be that teacher, in every aspect, say, Liz, I may not be the expert that that Jodi is in AI. But I can certainly ask her how her weekend was and check in on her and say, Hey, how are you doing? Right? And like really having that two, three minute conversation. They people are so thankful for that kind of attention. And that’s where our technology has drawn us a little bit away from that. And I think that they’re the people are suffering, right? They’re suffering. So how can we cause a disruption, which is why we call this podcast with the disruption because it’s about doing something totally different that may be out of your comfort zone, or you never even really realize or recognize that motivation comes from person to person. So tell me tell me what, you go ahead, finish what you were going to say.

Jody Padar 9:32
Well, no. So I think it starts with trust. And I think that’s hard. Right. So I think, ultimately, you know, I think sometimes not everyone is programmed to go into the world trusting everybody else. And I think I’m kind of sometimes I’m at a fault because of it because I’m going to trust you unless you do something to show me that I shouldn’t trust you. Whereas I think there are a lot more people who are more skeptical, who who aren’t so trusting, right? And so if you can go into these relationships, work relationships, social relationships, trusting people before they kind of burn you, right? And they’re not going to burn you. But you, because I think we sometimes have this feeling that, you know, if you meet 100, people 99 are going to burn you, no one is really going to be trusting. But I think in reality, 99 of them are going to be awesome to you, they’re going to respect you, it’s going to work, and only one of them is got a little bit of a sneakiness to him, right. And so I think if you can switch that mindset, and go into kind of your work relationships, these other relationships with a little bit more trust, that I think we’ve kind of guarded ourselves, maybe from the past or whatever, then you can be that designated motivator, and you can also receive it a lot more. So I think it sometimes even goes deeper. Because, like, we don’t, we don’t have the trust. And so we don’t share. And so how do you how do you kind of build that trust? And again, I think it starts with going into that conversation, assuming they have trust, and assuming both sides are trustworthy. And then you can kind of you can have those conversations, because if you don’t, then you’re never going to get beyond that, or to that motivation, because, like everyone’s got their guard up.

Dawn Brolin 11:18
Right, you won’t have the opportunity because they’re not letting it in. Right, right. That’s a good point. That’s a really good point. So on a trust factor thing real quick. I’ve just got to tell you this weekend, I have a little Mazda Miata. It’s my little fun car, you know, it gets like 7000 miles to the gallon. And the prices these days, like mice will use it. So I was driving down Main Street, and there was a man walking on the sidewalk, and I kind of pulled up because there was a light and he’s like, Hey, nice car. And I just looked over at him. older gentleman. I could tell he wasn’t he was I would say displaced. Should we say that way? Might? And I was like, Oh, thank you. I love Yeah, I do. I love this car. And he goes, Are you going to Walmart. And I go, I’m not but I can for you get it? And so I gave the guy a ride to Walmart and I think back and he and I had a little conversation about you. You’re obviously you ask for rides and you’re very, you’re very trustworthy. Like how, like, how did how did you Why do you feel that way? And, you know, he’s like, Oh, I hitchhiked across country back in the 60s and blah, blah, blah. I mean, this guy’s name was John loved him. And so um, but you know, the, his trust in me to invite him into the car, and my trust in Him to invite him into my car as a woman. Right? So I was just like, You know what, I don’t I don’t care. Like I trust this. I don’t want you know, if you Oh, my God, I can’t believe you do that. Are you kidding me? Somebody gave birth to that guy. Like, that’s what I always think in my mind. Somebody gave birth to that guy. And I just had this trust. trustful feeling. Come on, let’s go for a ride. So it’s kind of a similar thing to that. Right.

Jody Padar 12:52
Right. And, and I think too, if, again, if you can go into work relationships, if we’re talking about work, right? If you could go into work relationships, assuming trust, until they prove you differently, then you’re going to be okay to give and receive these kind of DM things. If you go in with your guard up, if you’re never going to get there, because you’re not going to be able to receive it and you’re not going to be able to give it and it’s funny because like, again, I think that’s starts with a mindset, right that I trust them until I until they proven to me that I can’t trust them. Right. And I think a lot of times, not everyone goes into into work relationships like that, right? That’s like kind of a mindset. So I would start there. And for me, that’s, that’s that I’ll say, that’s one of my superpowers, right is like I trust them sometimes to a fault, right. But that’s where the authentic relationships begin. And that’s where you can actually kind of get closer to them, right, a little bit more intimate with them in a professional sense. And kind of, you know, motivate them or really understand their point of view and where they’re coming from and give them that motivation that actually applies to them, as opposed to the generic, great job, or that was amazing. Because, to me, if you just say that’s amazing to everything, that’s worse than saying nothing. Because maybe that’s um, and I don’t want to go into Millennials are not millennials, but to me when I hear that’s amazing with everything. It’s like so it’s like that participation award. It’s like I’ve already like, I just counted it.

Dawn Brolin 14:26
Oh, yeah. Participation certificates. No, no, no, no, no. Right. Right. You’ve got to be all in man.

Jody Padar 14:33
And so you have to be specific and you have to be and you have to be, it has to be really related to who they are and what they do as a person. And if you can do that, then I think, you know, that’s, that’s leadership, right? That’s truly leadership, to have the ability to do that and influence them and to, to to have them understand how good they are and what they can bring to the table.

Dawn Brolin 14:58
Absolutely, yeah. So tell us, tell us a story of you. Because you’ve done so much. I mean, again, even, you know, you’ve taught you teach you, you know, all kinds of levels and things like that. Give us an example of a time where you felt like you really connect with somebody, and were able to give them that motivation to, you know, do something they never thought they could do, or whatever.

Jody Padar 15:18
I think it comes back to a couple of stories. And again, it’s where people reached out to me that I didn’t know that I had an impact on them, right? And then they reached out to me after, right, so like we’d had this, I’ll say, this ongoing, remote relationship, where I didn’t think it was not to say it wasn’t that big of a relationship, but it was like, I don’t know, it was just a regular kind of relationship. I didn’t think that I was having the impact, right. Like, I didn’t think that I was having the impact. And then I got like, an E, I think it was through LinkedIn, and a DM or whatever, telling me that they were quitting their firm, and they were starting a new firm. And it was all because of me, and that they had made the decision to go out on their own. Because the things that I had been talking about resonated with them. And now they were ready to make the leap instead of the jump. And, to me, that’s cool, right? Because, again, it’s one thing to talk about it. But it’s another thing to have that person internalize it so much to know that now they can be successful, and start their own firm, and take the take the leap, right. And I like nobody was there for me when I did it. So it was kind of cool to be there and be like, Oh, I can help you. However, I can, blah, blah, blah. But I think that’s, you know, that’s the neat stuff when when you actually it goes beyond just the compliment, or it goes beyond just the receiving of it, that now they’re actually changing their life because of something you said or did. Right. And that’s what’s cool. And I would say the same thing has happened to me, where, you know, early on in my career, there were some supporters of kind of what I was doing on social and everything. And they had a lot of clout in the accounting industry. And they stood up for me, and they gave me a stage. And they said, Jodi, you go up here and you you talk right? And we’ll make space for you. Right? And when they did that, it gave me an opportunity, right? And so to them, they were my motivation, because I would have been like, oh, no, I don’t like I can’t do that my ideas aren’t that great. They’re like, right, but they were the ones who said, No, your ideas are going to make a difference. And we’re going to make space for you on the stage to talk about it. Right. And so for me, that was where I was motivated by and these were some pretty influential CPAs. They’re still out there. But I would have never like, never thought my ideas were good enough. Other than like to be on the stage, right? Like, Oh, fine, I can talk about them on social, but I’m not going to be at a big conference and talk about them. And they were the ones who said, yeah, no, the profession really needs to hear them, we’re going to, we’re going to make a place for you on the stage. And that was like the motivation that I received. Because it was like, wow, like they actually they believed in me, right. And that was, that was the turning point. Because sometimes you need someone else to believe in you before you believe in yourself. And you can talk all you want, but it’s your own self that holds you back. Because until someone else tells you, that’s a really good idea, and I support you, you you kind of shy away, right? Or you don’t you don’t make those bold moves, right. And then when they say that all of a sudden, it’s like they’re holding your hand, even though they’re not on stage, but they’re holding your hand on stage. So you know that you’re not going to fall, right? Because they’re behind you. And that’s what it does from the other side. Like I’ll say that’s, that’s who’s motivated me, and given me that opportunity that, you know, because everyone thinks, I don’t want to say they think that you just you’re born like this, but you’re not born like this, you have the same fears, the same, the same insecurities that everyone else does, and you need that motivator to stand behind you just as much as you’re standing behind or helping you know, a professional as well. Because that’s how you grow in your career. And if you don’t, like you’re gonna stay stagnant.

Dawn Brolin 19:08
Right. Well, it’s a simple like, it always is. If you’re not moving forward, you are moving backwards, you’re not standing still, there is no such thing as standing still. Right? Um, yeah no, and I really appreciate that because I know for me, I watched people like you I watched Jeannie White House I was I mean I could name all 7 million people. Well listen, we’re saying within our typically 1520 minutes we try to keep it short so people actually watch it and listen to us the fun stuff, but I can’t thank you enough God for coming on as always have fun talking to you. We’ve been on some recent webinars together which has been super fun. And so yeah, so our next episode we’re gonna have James Upton James Upton is the President CEO of Upton accounting great guy. We’re just gonna talk about some struggles through the COVID process and how the industry is just you know, bent affected by it, and see if we can go out there and solve problems with people that are out there struggling. But, Jody, thank you so much for coming and spending time with me. And so we’ll see everybody out there on social and everybody keep your heads up. We’re going to motivate you as much as we can.

Jody Padar 20:11
Yep, keep motivated, thank you!

Dawn Brolin 20:13
Go! Motivate! I hope you enjoyed this podcast. Feel free to visit DawnBrolin.com in order to motivate you to improve your practice. Wishing you all the best. Have a great day.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Episode Summary

Daniel Fritz, SmartVault’s Director of Products, chats it up with Dawn Brolin, CPA CFE, about the importance of setting personal and professional goals, plus provides insights on how to help your team work like a well-oiled machine. He also shares how SmartVault’s passion for creating happier and more productive accounting professionals is at the core of their commitment to creating the ultimate document management solution for your tech stack.

Daniel’s Story and Motivation

Daniel begins the conversion by sharing his experiences as a new graduate, and how his first boss, Nancy Ward, was the catalyst to help him actively pursue his personal and professional goals. He talks about his current professional goals being improving his team and scalability. He also shares that he finds joy when those around him also achieve success, and love what they do. 

SmartVault and Going Paperless

Dawn discusses her admiration for SmartsVault’s ability to secure and hold important tax documents, and how many accountants operate completely paperless now.

Daniel also talks about how SmartVault’s goal is to go completely paperless, and how they are on the cusp of doing so. Daniel shares that over 1.5 million CPAs use SmartVault’s services, and how they had over 13,000,000 documents that were uploaded and processed through their service.

Dawn also expresses her appreciation for SmartVault, as they are alway striving to integrate with new programs and software, and their growth as a company has never been static.

SmartVault’s Integration, Current Changes, and Company Growth

Daniel begins by talking about how SmartVault has completely redesigned their entire billing system to allow them to bill in local currency. He also talks about DocuSign’s new subscription based model that is more affordable than their DocuSign counterparts. And lastly, he discusses revamping their UI in their web portal and other programs.

Dawn also shares how SmartVault makes communication between her and client easy, and makes sure she can do her job efficiently and efficiently as a practitioner.

Daniel adds how SmartVault becomes your central document depository; practitioners and clients are able to access all of their documents quickly and securely. 

Importance of Outsourcing and SmartVault’s Flexibility

Dawn also talks about how important it is to outsource tasks to companies who specialize in them; you can’t do everything in accounting, so stick to the things you like doing, and outsource the ones you don’t.

Daniel talks about the flexibility of SmartVault, and how they take into account what their clients want and need. They also keep in mind that accountants aren’t the only clients they serve, and are always striving to make their program more accessible to businesses of all types and sizes.

Today Not Tomorrow

Daniel talks about his experience as a salesman, and how many relationships he established back then, he still has today. He also shared another former boss’s valuable advice of TNT, today not tomorrow, and shares that SmartVault strives to maintain that value as well.

Dawn agrees with Daniel, and expresses how important it is to implement knowledge you learn in your firm today! Not only will this allow you to help your clients gain success, it will also help you achieve your personal goals.

SmartVault and Their New Developments

Daniel talks about SmartVault’s past operations, and how they needed someone on the inside to directly oversee new product development. They onboarded Daniel to try and implement these changes, and he shares how they have scaled their team from just 2 developers, to now 7 developers, and a team of 15 people. He talks about how they made small changes at the beginning of 2020 to cut ambiguity and increase efficiency.

He talks about how they are so close to developing a well-oiled machine, and now they are focused on slowing down, taking their time, and implementing more automation to make their workflow more streamlined.

Daniel’s Personal Motivation

Daniel credits his wife for his personal motivation, and shares how her intellectual guidance has been crucial for his success. He also talks about being inspired by his Dad’s work ethic, but also the devotion to his family.


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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.

All right, well, hey, everybody, welcome back. My name is Dawn Brolin, the host of DM Disruption. Also the author of the Designated Motivator and the Designated Motivator for accounting professionals. I’m also a Certified Fraud Examiner. I’m also a mom. I’m also a volunteer assistant coach, I could go on for days, but it’s gonna be more fun to talk with our today’s guest, who’s going to be Daniel Fritz from smart ball. Now if you know me, you know I love smart ball period. Okay, it does the job it needs to do for me and my clients and I love it. So Daniel Fritz, I could tell you what I would have to intro you. This is the Wizard of the Wizard of Oz. And smart ball. This is the guy and you want to talk to if you ever see this guy at a conference, grab him, nail him down and talk to him. Because he’s brilliant. And he wants to hear what you want to know what’s coming down the line for smartphone, all that stuff. Daniel knows it all. So Daniel, thank you so much for joining me today. How are you doing? And I’d also like to say Shazam, Team rolling. There we go SmartVault theories. Let’s take this thing.

Daniel Fritz 1:51
Thanks a lot, Dawnn. Yeah, super glad to be here. It’s really, really kind of you not only to have you on the show, but also those kind words. Yeah, absolutely. We’d love everything smart vault, everything you have you see me at a conference, let’s talk like we can talk for days. You know, security and smart vault is completely built into my DNA. I joke with my my team members all the time that, you know, I one time yelled at my product manager. Why didn’t you do that? Well, you never told me this I know I told you to do they found out that I totally told him to do that in a dream. So I live eat sleep and dream smart ball every single day of the week. So here’s somebody that says I absolutely love smart ball. Nothing on this planet makes me happier. So thank you,

Dawn Brolin 2:29
I’m your girl, Dan, I love SmarVault, it what it does for me and my productivity level is through the roof. My profitability is even further and adjust, you know, I’m able to do my job for my clients, which is all I just want to do is get it done for them. So it’s great. But you know, we had a great conversation last week on a totally separate call. And we talked a lot about where, where your motivation comes from. And you had some awesome stories of, you know, a former company that you worked for, and how you had some management or some so other people in that company that really just fired you up and motivated you and I want to hear all about that.

Daniel Fritz 3:04
Oh, yeah, absolutely. I have to give a shout out to my very, very first boss, Nancy Ward. She truly took me out of my shell, I was this, this kid, honestly, right out of school. And she brought me the first time we ever sat down, I worked completely remote. This is back, I worked for an EHR company called Sage. And people today will know that is Greenway, one of the biggest EHRs out there. And anyway, Nancy sat me down. And she said, look, the most important thing to have is to keep you motivated as a salesperson is to always have a personal and a professional goal. And, you know, just kind of trick for anybody ever interviewing with me? That’s a question I’m going to ask you. Because I think it’s really important that you stay motivated, both personally and professionally. And, you know, the very, it’s funny how things change over time, because whenever I first heard that, I thought, Oh, well, I want to get engaged to my wife now of nine years, Sam, and then my professional just like, Look, I just want to be as good as the person that I was replacing, because she was on that sales trajectory path before me. And you know, it’s funny how it evolves. Because now here at Smart ball, my personal goal is, you know, I want to pay off a little bit more debt because I want to get a boat, but it’s gonna take some time. Yeah, no, we talked a little bit about your, your awesome Grady White over there. But uh, on the professional side, for me, it’s all about my team and their scalability. Because I, they, my team hears me talk about all the time that we want to become a well oiled machine. And there’s an old video out there of either Secretariat or one of the other famous things in the guy back in like the 50s or 60s just saying, like, look at this incredible machine that’s going down. And that’s, that’s what motivates me, is it seeing we’ve got some new devs that have joined on our team and just to see those guys contributing? see them having impact on what we’re doing. That’s just so exciting to me. Because when I joined, we were such a small team, under invested and no one really knew what they wanted to do and how they wanted this to be a vision. And it’s it’s been great to see that growth because one of our more experienced developers told me a couple, like, about a month or two ago, he just said, we’re working on hard problems early in the morning 745 before most people are in the office, and we’re sitting there going back and forth. And he just at the very end, I was like me, I really appreciate you, Jacqueline, this thing, thank you so much for the extra effort here. He’s like, man, I just love my job. And that there’s nothing that beats that as far as like satisfaction, because you can work anywhere. But you know, getting to work on the cool stuff that we’re doing innovative stuff that we’re doing the SmartVault is is awesome.

Dawn Brolin 5:52
That is awesome. I was just talking to a room Mather with ultimate ultimate quest. And they do a lot of education for CPAs. And he told me a story about how so if you’ve listened to this episode already, it’s okay. If you haven’t, you want to listen to it. But anyway, he was wonderful. And he talked about how he went into this customer. He’s his former CPA, and he does practice now. But he saw the sign on the wall. We walked into this executives offices at TGI M. And it goes right along with what you’re saying. And usually we say well, tgi fridays, Friday Hello, yeah, maybe they said, right. Like, that doesn’t make any sense. Like who knows that. And he said, That’s exactly the point. What the guy wanted to do was create a culture that the people that worked for him and worked at that facility would want to come in on a Monday morning, and they were excited to come back to work because it was a place that they love to be. And that’s exactly what you’re saying with your guys. And just being able to, you know, create that culture. And like you said, it’s a, it’s a well oiled machine. If you think about a CPA firm, if there’s any other place, and he’s a well oiled machine, it’s at a CPA firm, because we have compliance deadlines, we have security, you know, things are requirements we’ve got to pay attention to so we have to be as much of a well oiled machine as anybody else. Right. And so that’s, again, one of the things about smart vault, allowing that and having that secure portal for your clients to be able to jump in and grab what they need whenever they need it. You know, we started charging people for paper copies of their return. We said, you know, we send them their quote, and we have little checkboxes optional. paper copy, 20 bucks, that’s 200 bucks, right?

Daniel Fritz 7:29
That’s right, there you go.

Dawn Brolin 7:30
I might have had one person check that box this year. And that’s it.

Daniel Fritz 7:36
That’s the goal that we’re completely going for honestly, the paperless revolution that’s been trying to happen across multiple industry, I’ve worked in the healthcare industry, I’ve worked in the tax industry, I’ve actually, there was a small stint where I worked in the entertainment industry.

Dawn Brolin 7:53
Oh, we don’t get to hear about that!

Daniel Fritz 7:58
But uh, but you know, everyone wants to go there, everybody wants to be paperless. And here at SmartVault, that’s, I really feel like we are right on the cusp of truly getting there and just like you don, you’re able to go completely paperless. But you know, as we as we release some of these features, yeah, it’s just hey, person, we need these documents. And then you guys take those documents, put them through your well oiled machine, Don, and then provide them right back out to the portal. I mean, that’s, that is completely paperless, the idea that the only piece of paper is just getting sent down from the employers from the banks and all those things that you have to just take a picture of, you know, and that’s where we’re adding a lot of efficiency and usability when it comes to smart ball because we want your clients which we have about 1.5 million clients of our CPAs it’s Marvel 1.5 million that are using this I think some of the crazy stats, I should have grabbed some of those stats before I jumped on but we had over 13 million documents uploaded I mean, I mean it’s it’s crazy that the amount of documents we play with and just making that so much easier for the for the team members for you guys to deal with makes it to where to truly is paperless. And that just there’s there’s no like, yeah, you’re at your office, you don’t have the just file cabinets of old documents. You guys are like “No, it all on SmartVault, we don’t have to worry about it.”

Dawn Brolin 9:26
Exactly, you know, and I think that one of the things i i made beat a dead horse and it’s just too bad because my podcasts and I can’t if I want to write like cry if I want to. It’s my birthday. Who cares? So one of the things that I just want to hammer down into people’s brains two things. Number one, having applications are awesome, but they’re even awesomer which is a word. They’re awesome. Okay, if they integrate with each other, they can talk to each other. The second thing that I say about applications are are they growing? Are they forward thinking? Are they always looking for the next better way to do something or better technology? To solve a problem, and that’s why I choose Smart ball, they’re always on the path of improvement. And they’re always, they’re always thinking of open API. I think, for example, liscio is a great example, the way we’re integrating with carbon assert, and other software’s. And I think that that’s so important. So you obviously, a lot of things coming down the pike, some new release is here in the last couple of months you guys have put out there. Tell us about that stuff.

Daniel Fritz 10:25
Yeah, so some of the most recent things that we’ve done is that we are completely redesigned our entire billing system, we don’t want to be experts in billing, we want to be able to bill in local currency we want to do like ACH payments, and all of these things. And so we had to completely just break part of our software that’s been there for 14 years and plug in something new, we have a new way of using DocuSign, you can now just use it as a subscription model, use as much as you as you need. And it’s just a per user per month cost. That’s, by the way, what’s more affordable than our DocuSign counterparts. And the biggest thing that we’ve done in the last about three or four months is changing up the UI. So the UI was very dated, especially in the web portal. And what we’ve done, we’ve actually added something called Request docks. So you as a CPA can just type in Hey, Fritz, I need some documents from you, it takes if you know what document you’re looking for, I can create a template of 1520 documents that are recorded in about a minute, if I’m just typing down, I need this because they’re free text fields, you put in whatever you want in there, and they’re like, Hey, Don, I need your W two, I need your 1099, I need your IMTS, I need all of your DIVs. And I need a picture of your dog, I need a picture of that great wine, because I love boats. And you can say that the required ones that are in there. And so you get to that point. And you say like, Alright, I’m going to name this just, you know, prints this template real quick, because it took me a minute to make. And I just pull over and I say alright, Fritz, and I can add a little message in there. So usually I need these things. And then when you’re done, the little submit button in the top corner will light up. Because that was really important, because you talked about, you know, being innovative and things sometimes the smallest pieces, I have to quote my she’ll be embarrassed if I give her her name, but my lead QA person, she really talks about the last 5% all the time, she’ll kick something back in the tabs. You know, we have her her name proof code is what what the developers strive for at this point, and we want to make sure that she doesn’t kick it back. But she talks about the last 5%. And that that submit button is it’s just one of those things that just makes us just that, you know, just ticks it because you can have it to where your clients could upload documents, and they could just hit it. Well, what if they didn’t miss? They didn’t upload a couple of them? Mm hmm. Well, then you have to go through the whole wringer again, where is it? The button is not even clickable. It’s it’s it’s just a blue button that has the dark black letters of submit in it. And once you have uploaded or said, Hey, this, this question doesn’t apply to me that for the last required question, that thing lights up. And that’s the that’s the difference of having a team that really thinks about how that inner interaction should occur. So we don’t even allow people to make the mistake of like, Oh, crap, I didn’t answer that. Last question is, Hey, I can’t Why is this not working? Oh, I didn’t. And I got a scroll down. There’s more questions down here. And that saves time on your your end? It’s key.

Dawn Brolin 13:29
Oh, it’s key. Right. I mean, revisit. I mean, I don’t know how many times Tracy historically, just be like, she’s like, I think everything’s there. And then I go in, I’m like, nope, they don’t even they give me zero information on their for rental properties, I have nothing like what. So having this ability to ask and request that information and have that go right into their smart vault folder without us having to deal with it. And knowing once they submit, it’s that we do have everything that we asked for. Right. And that’s, that’s a time saver, and it’s for the client. Here’s the thing, people, this is important to know, how you’re reacting or how you’re how you’re communicating with your client, the way you communicate with the client, the easier you make it, the more they’re going to love you. They don’t want to be bogged down. Nobody wants to deal with this crap or deal with it. They don’t want to do it. They don’t want to have to deal with taxes. Like, oh, God, here we go. Another year goes by which it seems like it goes like that. And it’s back again, tax season returns. And so for the practitioners who are listening to this, just think about your workflow and how you’re communicating with your clients. We just implemented liscio a great tool to use with clients, right? I mean, if you if I’m if I’m doing that, if powerful accounting Inc, is sending requests and having communications through liscio and working with smart ball and they’re everything that they need is at their fingertips in a lot of ways, right? Especially on their phones, they want to have things on their phones. If you’re not doing it, they’re going to find somebody who is absolute right and I don’t want to take your clients I have enough of them. I love I love Almost all of them and many of my clients are listening, not sure which way you go, hopefully, you’re going to in the happy development section of our client list, right. But that’s the key is the is the interactions that you’re going to have with your clients has to be has to be workable. I know that clients say to me, they thanked me for smartphone, you know, they thanked me because they don’t have to ask me for a copy of their return. It’s right where they’ve always live, which is in SmartVault from day one. Right?

Daniel Fritz 15:28
Yeah. And that’s in that right, there is one of the really big benefits that you know, you you sometimes run into a lot of people, it’s like, oh, well, I, I have that. And I printed it out, it’s here and I haven’t physically in like my safe at home. Whereas the SmartVault, digital copy, fullback, you know, fully protected every single alphabet soup of acronym from sec to FINRA, to GDPR. All of those acronyms, you’re covered. Because we we have that in there, we have a complete audit log that you can see everything that has happened that document from the beginning of time. And and that is so key, because when we talk to some of these accountants like look, no smart vault truly becomes your central document repository. This is the brain center. Yes, you have those tools, which awesome. I was just on a phone earlier today with Chris from Liscio. Love Chris girl, well, yeah, me and him are doing a Happy Hour, in a week or so. But like, that’s the thing is like, you know, to the point of the whole, like billing thing we talked about a minute ago, we don’t want to be experts, smart nuts. You don’t have to be good at everything, to make money in this world. And then that’s something that I learned whenever I was working in the entertainment industry, the software I sold was, was very niche. And there was like this very specific kind of person that would pay a lot of money for it. And so that’s how I feel about smartphones is like, look, we are the document storage location, we don’t need to be this beautiful app that liscio is the communicator they are 1000 times better than we are at client communication. And we own that, that’s why we decided to integrate with them and said, like, Chris, you don’t want to be I sat on the phone with his CTO, when we were first talking about the integration. And he just said, I, I don’t want to build a document storage solution on this, right? He’s like, we want to stay in the UI on the front end where it’s beautiful. And and we said like, look, we could never compete with you in that world. But we’ve got a document storage system that is, you know, the equivalent of Fort Knox over here. Why don’t we just connect those and then we’ll just kind of like, hey, you need a document storage system. Oh, you need some communities, go to Liscio is very similar to the like you said, with Karbon, the conversations that we’re having with carbon are going to be the very same thing that practice management with Licio. With us that starts that best of breed. In that way. You’re not in this like locked ecosystem, because when you try to be good at everything, you’re good at nothing, you’re mediocre at best. So yeah, that’s definitely where we want to go.

Dawn Brolin 18:06
Well, that’s one of the messages I’ve been trying that part of this the purpose of the podcast, right is to take motivation, put it into action. And one of the things that I look at is when you like we have a reassess your firm mentality. And so taking, and we’ll have this up on our website, at some point is to take an assessment of your of your firm, because at the end of the day, exactly what you’re saying, Dan is, really, what are you good at? What do you love to provide for services? What are the things what are you doing right now that you don’t like to do? You know, I know for a long time you know, when you first start your firm’s we’ve talked about this many times, you’re like, you’re kind of like an accounting whore. I know, that’s not really the right term to say in business, but you are, you will do anything to make money, you’re gonna you’re gonna take on payroll, you’re gonna take on sales tax, you’re gonna take on, right up work, you’re gonna take on tax returns, whatever it is that you’re just going to take on all these things. And then he makes eventually, after you’ve fallen on your face enough times to say I suck at this. It’s okay to say that, by the way. And I did that I was like, I don’t want to do payroll, I don’t want to be a payroll person. ADP, you’re my full payroll HR solution. I don’t have to think about it. I don’t have to worry about it. You’re doing it. You’ve got a great partner program this great line myself up with that smart ball. Okay, smart ball. I want to duck storage. I want the best doc storage, I can find smartphone. I think I’ve out of all the apps I use besides into it because I started with QuickBooks back in 1999. But I think smart ball is the application, the solution that I’ve had the longest, you know, because you you go through your firm’s growth pattern, and you’re like, Okay, I’m gonna try, you know, this app, or I’m gonna try Google Docs or on the truck. And then you come to this one, you’re just like, Oh, my God, this is my lifelong app forever. Yeah. And that’s what you do you go through over time, but then you get this well oiled machine. And you’ve got things integrating, and everybody in the firm knows, we do the same things, every single client, we onboard, every single one of them matter what we’re doing the same way. And guess where they always start. So number one thing, SmartVault, because what we do is we create this potential clients folder, right? Because not everybody’s a client automatically. It’s kind of like what we do with keep, we put that you know, person into keep. And then once they upload their, their prior year return, we use quotient, we send them a quote, they accept it great. But they have to upload their prior return, the number one thing they have to do is upload their prior returned a SmartVault. So guess the first app they deal with with us, the very first app is SmartVault. That’s how it’s done.

Daniel Fritz 20:46
That’s the way to do it that. And you know, as those as those things go through, you know, you mentioned all those different things that we can do. That’s because we have that flexibility, when it comes to the folder structure, because you’re just in your case, Don, you’re using that as a potential client, and then you probably apply some more templates to it. But as you think about those things, it’s the flexibility of smart bolt is really where a lot of that value comes into play. Because, and honestly, that kind of makes it harder on our side, you know, not harder, just a little bit more fun, if you will, because you whenever we make a change to the software, we have to consider not just what it’s done once, even though she has like 90% of the roadmap locked up, like she knows what she wants. But for those other 10%. You know, we have to think about it. And that’s really prevalent in the way that we did some of the new files and folders, you know, when we released this new look and feel to it, there’s now a breadcrumb instead of this, you know, 1995 windows tree on the left. I you know, it’s funny Don is to laughing about that we literally had a design that was skinned and beautiful. And it took me and me and Danya to say like, Guys, no, there’s some times when you just have to let something die. And we just and the funny thing is, is that one of my CSM people they came over, and they just said they were just concerned. Like, they trust us. We know what we’re doing. We’re talking to enough customers. But she was very much like, are you guys not sure about this one? Because you just get so used to it. But that’s, you know, we really thought about it and said like, look, yes, accountants work that way. But a plumber, a potential pool company that could definitely benefit from smart vault, they can, you know, get those quotes from quotients. And kind of run it the same way, hey, we’ve got these bids for some pools. We need XYZ documents from you because and we’re going to provide you some documents cuz you got to give that to your HOA to make sure that they’re not going to tell you to rip up the hole in your ground. And, and it’s a those are some of those just that flexibility. But when you’re talking about like, hey, yeah, we use this this way. It’s just it’s so unique to hear. But that’s what we that’s the innovation. That’s what makes our life fun. Is saying like, how are we going to make this work? Yeah, we’ve got, you know, of our 7000 customers and our 1.5 million guest users. We, yeah, how we’re gonna make this because the big Yeah, the big majority of about 5000 of them are accountants and say, like, we’ve got to break that mentality. And that’s one of the things that whenever I came in, I really instilled on the team like look, kind of like you said, you reassess your practice, like we kind of had to reassess how we did development here. And I had had a couple great mentors through the years that taught me valuable lessons in that realm. But what we ended up on is just like, hey, no, we’ve got to consider that and we have to stop pump the brakes. And hopefully, you can’t see too much more back here. It’s a little insight into my mind a little bit, but we we will whiteboard everything. I’m, I have two whiteboards here, I have an entire wall that’s on the other side of this. That’s just it’s a whiteboard wall. And awesome. We’re always thinking about how’s this gonna work, we got to make sure it works for Dawn, but we also have to make sure that it could work for the potential landscapers. Bang, right that wants it to do, because if we just narrowed our focus, and we only did tax, you know, there’s a lot of great tax programs out there that are just that. But if you think about it’s like, they’re really rigid, it’s like, well, what if I’m a CPA, but I also kind of do this other thing, right, it would really be really hard to enforce one of those to do something.

Dawn Brolin 24:29
Right. Yeah. And that’s, you know, one of the so, you know, we talked in the beginning and you mentioned briefly that it was Nancy Ward was the name of the of the lady right. So I remember you telling me about some other like tidbits of that of that company that you worked for and and some really great stories there. Like, what other kinds of people were around you that you just loved and…

Daniel Fritz 24:49
Oh, just you know, when you’re a young sales guy, you you really get to kind of like meet a lot of people and just all my different teams. They had profound effects on me. And I still keep those relationships going today, some of the other big throughout the years of me being out and about. One of the best quotes that I learned early on was no matter who’s copied on the email, the truth doesn’t change. That was one of one of the best. And then bajas Dan was my boss. When I was at Azalea, I was the VP of product, and he really, he really instilled on me and I absolutely love Baja. He instilled upon me, TNT–today, not tomorrow.

Dawn Brolin 25:36
I told that story, Dan! you told me that one last week. I told the coach, I told the coach on Friday, I said I learned a new one today. Go ahead, keep going with that, I love that.

Daniel Fritz 25:47
And that was the thing is like I was the VP of product in you know, we were in a rural health care, really underserved areas. So you have all the big monolith hospitals in downtown’s and the medical centers and everything like oh, this massive Hospital, a lot of people forget about the random little hospital that’s three hours away from anything, right. And, and that’s what Azalea provided and you know, they’ve gone on since since I got wooed away to come over here to smart vault. They’ve gone on they’ve they’ve acquired a couple companies. But the thing is that always was instilled in me why bajas like let’s do make the change that they need today, not just wait on it. So we had several instances where, you know, healthcare is always changing, but it’s like, oh, this new customer, we only had about 40 or 50 of these smaller hospitals. But we were constantly changing that. And just having that as a as a motivation behind me is, you know, he’s like, Look, man, like your wishes what it is, but we can take an action, let’s take that action today, not tomorrow. Because we’re just kicking the can down the road, we’re never going to get anything done. And so we we use that mentality here at Smart vault as well. We try to be as efficient as possible and like, hey, if we find something like QA, find something, we’ve got to take that action today, and not just kick it down the road, because someone’s going to find that bug, someone’s going to find where that doesn’t, that that error message doesn’t describe what you have had, you know, what mistake has been made.

Dawn Brolin 27:16
That’s, you know, so T N T. Today, not tomorrow, if you want if you’re listening, if you’re listening to this podcast, I’m telling you right now, if you take nothing away from this conversation with Dan, today, is today, not tomorrow. And that means in your firm, we go to conferences, we watch webinars, we listen to podcasts, we read books, we do all of these education, and then you know what we do with it? Nothing thing. And you just have to say, What am I going to implement today, I’m not going to wait until tomorrow, I’m going to implement this one solution for my firm, because it’s going to help my firm, it’s going to help my clients, it’s going to make me happier, it’s going to make them happier. And with all of those little things, you will be more profitable. You can go buy yourself a great 22 foot Grady White like hey, go that’s or whatever it is that you want to do you want to spend more time with your kids at games or whatever, you know, and that’s something dandy or the culture at Smart ball people. It’s smart ball that work with you. You were talking to me last week a little bit about, you know, you grew from a very small number of developers. And now you’ve got quite a few more which one body is a big number, by the way? You get one more developer that’s like, Oh, my goodness, two more hands. And one more brain. I’m in! So tell me about that.

So yeah, when I joined the team, we were we were being overseen by the smart vault is owned by a company that’s actually traded on the London Stock Exchange called Get Busy. And so we were we were being they was kind of being run by those guys. But they weren’t here in the business. That’s why they decided to bring me in this looked like they wanted somebody who has, you know, kind of done that before, has a decent track record, and whatnot. And so that’s, that’s what I came in, and it was me and another product guy. We have one QA person. And actually we only had two developers when I first started because one of them was on paternity leave it so there’s about five of us. And now we have we are about 15 people strong. We have scaled the team. The QA team is now three different people. We have a content writer on staff, I have two product people that help just build this engine. And then not to mention the seven developers and we have a couple more openings that we are we are actively hiring. We have two people that run our development operations area. So we’ve we scaled from this tiny little group. And all of that was we kind of had to sit down and I sat down with my team. I said, Look, guys, we have to do development differently. And I was telling you no dumb we talked last week I kind of mentioned is like look at what you remember changing. It was these little changes for the last couple of years in smartphones, like they move to AWS and then they just kind of just worth, you know, just plugging in just time and just saying like, hey, let’s just get these couple of things. And they made an investment the the board made an investment and let’s let’s have this smart ball could actually grow gangbusters over here. And that’s honestly what we’ve done. So we had four really small releases in 2020. During the pandemic and everything I instilled my processes we have a way that we like tickets to be written for our development teams so that we cut ambiguity and increase efficiency because even us, one of the six pillars of Smart Vault is BSU, it’s about blow shit up and that’s on. And, and the thing is, is that that’s I kind of just reiterated that, you know, some of these guys have been doing this my right hand guy, Himashu has been a smart vault since the beginning doneness.

Daniel Fritz 28:58
I love that guy. He’s just like, teddy bear, you just want to hug him.

Yes, absolutely he is he’s absolutely been instrumental in my success. And I, I owe a lot of that to him. But I also feel like we’ve kind of taught him because it’s really fun. The first year we hear you’re the new guy in town, you’re like, Oh, we’re gonna do it this way. He’s like, No. And now the funny thing is, is here we are about two years later, and he’s just like, we can’t do that. Because we haven’t followed the process. We’re not doing these things. And this is gonna turn into a mess. Yeah. And that’s what the evolution is now seeing. We have structured feedback sessions, we have customer validation, we have this massive multi page document that we put in this work. So that structure to say like, okay, we’re thinking about doing something, let’s write an executive summary about it. What are the market requirements? What is the cost? Like, what would this if we decided to do this thing? So I’ll give a little bit of a insight here. One of them is a document approval workflow, like, what if I wanted to say, in your case, Don, you want to Tracy to approve something, or trace or vice versa? Tracy is like, I want to send this out, but I need Don’s approval. Hey, assign it to don don. And you get a little notification. Hey, Tracey assigns you this thing do you approve or deny? That’s one of those things that we’re considering right now. So we have to go through what competitors. And the best part about it was like I brought that up, I hamachi. Just said there’s no way we have enough time to do that. Now, now that we have gotten into that we have scaled from those two developers, we now have seven developers. And it is very much a it’s still just me and him honestly, for the most part writing those. My next guy, my new guy starting next week. Oh, great. But that’s, yeah, give us a little give us our little bit of our lives back. But that’s the thing is when you’re writing those and you just create like I said that well oiled machine, we’re not quite there. I always tell my seems like we’re almost there. We’re on the path. And I think everybody can see that. And we were having conversations around like pace right now. It’s like, let’s, okay, guys, let’s tap the brake. We’ve been like pedal to the metal, we need to calm it down a little bit. Make sure that we follow these processes and what is realistic, sure, we can sprint and like really get a thing, but we should calm down. And and just take our time, let’s make sure that we get these efficient, efficiently out, let’s make sure that QA does the right thing. We’ve kicked off automation. It’s all these really cool side initiatives that we’ve been wanting to do for so many years before I even got here. But now like we got there, we have the process. We have the personnel like we’re scaling to that. And so we’re really close to that like Okay, now we can calm down, get our pace, add a couple more people to where we’re not ever in crazy. 12 hour day mode. Like a CPA is during tax season, right? It’s just like, hey, no, like, this is now life. This is my, this is my job. And we’re doing some really cool stuff. And that’s what’s so exciting.

Dawn Brolin 33:54
Yeah, that’s awesome. And, and so, you know, I want to bring it in a little bit personal for you right now. Right? So we love smart ball smart ball. It’s my favorite. I can’t I love them enough. But I want to I want to hear from Dan the man Where’s gonna be Dan, man. And through your just Was there somebody in your life? Like for me? It was my dad. I mean, that’s a lot of a lot of girls will say that. Right? So was there somebody in your life outside of your professional world that that really helped you help? You know, guide you?

Daniel Fritz 34:24
Oh, absolutely. It’s my wife. 100%

Dawn Brolin 34:26
I knew you’re gonna say that. I knew it. Oh, yeah. To meet this woman. She sounds like an angel.

Daniel Fritz 34:32
She is She is brilliant. She is hard working. And she has it the priorities. Right? And I’ll take her word from whenever like we got married almost 10 years ago. My brother was the best man. He gave a speech and he kind of mentioned like the positive things that happen to my wife and just in his species like oh, yeah, no, like this has just been a godsend. She’s here and in honestly like she’s the biggest cheerleader but she’s also just so many intellectually smart that she’ll listen to me and like, what do you think about this? And should I should respond and just kind of give that guidance? Like, no, you can truly do that. No, you’re being a little crazy. Yeah, sometimes it works. So, um, but yeah, like with her, it’s, it’s she’s always the one that is just right there to give you the right a bit of motivation. You know, I’ve made a couple switches. And she’s just like, No, let’s just go for it. Like, this is an opportunity. Like, let’s let’s do it. Especially when I jumped to smart ball. I was like, I don’t know, like, do you think guys like I’ve I had left health care before. And she says, Look, every single time you’ve done something different, you’ve learned it, and you’re, you’re more excited about this than you have been on any of the other changes. And so she was very much a cheerleader through that entire process. So she’s her and then, you know, my dad is I have to say, my dad as well. He goes my pops in there. Yeah, so So pops. You know, he, he was an engineer, so he always, and he’s as Black Belt Six Sigma kind of guy. And he really showed that, you know, work is for work and life is for life. I mean, he coached my basketball team, which I’m terrible sports, by the way.

Dawn Brolin 36:19
That’s okay. He needs to be typing. We don’t need to be out there hittin’ things.

Daniel Fritz 36:22
That’s right. And so but but he really just kind of, there’s something that I like to mimic myself is, you know, he was always there. He’s like, look, he never missed a band concert. He never missed a competition or something that we were doing. And my parents had, like, kind of two families is kind of how I look at it sometimes because I had me and my older brother. But we were in college. My brother was in college, when my youngest sister was in first grade. Wow. And they and they were two years apart. So like, my parents kind of had two families about 12 years apart. That went through that. And it’s just he was always there. Every single thing his priority was always family. He was, you know, he also he’s the kind of guy I could just call him. What do you think about this? You know, what should we do here? And he’s just, he’s just a brilliant guy. But yeah, it’s just like the family that people that are around you. He was a grown up. He was he had four kids on a single income. And it’s just, it’s just awesome. Pops. Pops is in general, awesome. So definitely a motivator for me.

Dawn Brolin 37:31
I love that. That is that’s yeah, I mean, in those for us, for those of us who have lost their father, since which I’m one of them. You know what my whole mission is? Listen, I’m gonna work as hard as my dad taught me to work was a guy who was he worked for Pratt Whitney was a tool and die guy. I still have his tools and probably the problem. At this point, I’d love to give them to a kid to start out with in that world. But you know, he just he had guys behind the lions when they had Strikes Back in the day. You don’t see a lot of that these days, but Strikes Back then he was like, I’m not crossing the picket line. I’m not crossing against my guys. I’m not going to have them see me go home to my family while they’re here here picketing for their jobs or whatever, whatever the case was. Yeah. So he taught me Listen, you do whatever you know, is right. That’s right. If you if you it’s funny, you said that about the truth in an email, right? But it’s just yeah. Right. So if you’re, if you put out an email to your guys and say, hey, you know, whatever, whatever. And then they see you driving across the picket lines. They’re like, well, that email couldn’t be true, because look at your drive across, but whatever I mean, I’m using as an example, but that is, you know, your word is the best thing that you could possibly have. You say you’re gonna do something, you do it and and I’m not saying I always hit the mark on that, because I don’t I do the best I can. You know, life is an etch a sketch. I definitely believe in that, that every day you get up in the morning and you start drawing all day. And you’re like, oh, that didn’t come out. Very good. Well shake the thing. Go to bed and get up in the morning you starting over again, anything giant and I think that’s the purpose of sleep, to be honest, it’s kind of like a reset button, a reset button, wash your brain out, get rid of the crap that happened. And you know, we can all only do the best we can do. And that’s why the motivation part of life is so important to me because you know, yeah, I have crap days I have days where I’m just like, Oh, God, I can’t do this again, or whatever the case may be, which also is a really good indicator that probably shouldn’t be choosing to do it. That’s a whole nother conversation. There you go. Right so yes, I agree. Yeah, I reassess it’s like almost every morning like i Yesterday was terrible because of this or yesterday was great because of this. Then I can say okay, well I know what I need where how I need to shift today. I spent all day on emails yesterday I felt so unproductive where now today I come in I do four or five tax returns. I feel great. Because I feel like I’m doing my real job right. So right I definitely find that to be the case but but it’s been awesome having you on Daniel we try to keep these within 30 minutes and otherwise Okay, great. Yeah, ah, people check out they don’t care anymore. And we want them to hear our message because really, at the end of the day, you know, smart ball happens to be a visionary as well. Okay. And like I said, The the, my whole selection of the apps that I support, and that I use every single day, have to be visionaries. They have to be trying to do better every day just like we are. And really, you know, approachable is another kind of a key thing where it’s like, if you can’t get a hold of somebody in support at some kind of an app for an app, we got a problem. You know, I’ve got a couple that I had worked with. And I’m like, I can’t I’m not getting the support I need. What I love about smart ball is they’re on it. They’ll send you out, Hey, listen, we know this isn’t working right now. We’re working to fix it. Like you guys are proactive rather than reactive. True. Yeah. And I found that you know, because you can go to your website, and it’ll even just say, hey, SmartVault’s down, which has I mean, that might have happened twice in the last–

Daniel Fritz 40:45
Eight years.

Dawn Brolin 40:46
Eight years. I don’t think it’s gone down. But it’s it’s just that ability to find out what’s up and be able to approach them and work with people on their team. So responsive and awesome. So you know, that’s why smartphones definitely in my starting lineup will always be part of my starting lineup, because I just don’t see anybody else outpacing these guys when it comes to document storage solution. So, but I want to thank you so much for taking your time. Daniel, you’re fantastic to talk to!

Thank you, Dawn, and thank you for being such a champion of SmartVault. Yeah, you know, we’re all of us here we live and breathe it. Really excited to see what the next couple years are gonna bring. We’re gonna make it innovative and be that visionary.

It’s gonna be awesome. So and then we have another release coming up here in the next couple to three months. Daniel, we’re gonna have you back. We’re gonna talk all about it. We’re gonna you know, get people to understand even better, and just love smart vault. Smart vault smart people. Daniel, you’re my people. Danya shout out to you girl. I love you man. Daniel, you’re my girl. Danny Buchanan fan was smartphone I think since the beginning if not close to it. Yes. phenomenal person. Rachel Montana. Rachel pay, all those guys. Yeah, all everybody. It’s smartphones. Just love you guys. And again, thanks so much for being here today, Daniel and talking to you soon. All right, take care. You better take care.

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

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Episode Summary

Dawn Brolin, CPA, CFE is joined by Jame Upton, President and CEO of Upton Accounting, to discuss how COVID-19 has proven to be a huge challenge for accounting and tax professionals, and how many are experiencing feelings of stress and burnout. Dawn chats with James and discusses the business and personal challenges he is currently facing, and how he was able to bring himself to a better place with the help of Dawn’s new book, “The Designated Motivator for Accounting Professionals.” Have similar feelings? Listen now to hear how you can get back on track to achieving the goals you want for your business and your life!

James’ Beginnings

James talks about how he’s been involved in accounting since he was 16 years old, and became the president of his family’s accounting firm at just 24 years old. He’s always felt motivated in his practice, but is feeling major burnout following the start of COVID-19. He talks about his personal struggles, and how it took his business partner to be his motivator and to help keep his practice going.

James’ Challenges Within His Business in Current Times

James talks about how he feels he can’t keep up with the amount of work he has to complete, and shares his frustrations with how far the IRS is far behind in processing material he needs to complete his job. Dawn agrees and shares similar frustrations, saying it appears to everyone else that they are not doing their job.

Why Having a Motivator is Necessary

“Who do you have in your organization that is motivating you?” says Dawn, in relation to discussing the importance of having people around you to lift you up. James finds solace and motivation in his business partner, and credits her for helping to lift him up in times of work and emotional stress. 

“If you are by yourself [as an accounting professional], you need to find [a motivator],” says Dawn.

James also talks about the difference between being a “motivator” or an “encourager,” and credits Dawn’s books for allowing him to understand that being a motivator would allow him to achieve much more success. 

“An encourager makes you feel better in the moment, but a motivator is somebody that’s going to challenge you to make changes that will make you better down the line, all the way through your life,” adds James.

James also adds that adding self care back into his routine has allowed him to gain back his motivation.


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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 became 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 on today’s show, I couldn’t be more excited because we’re going to talk to James Upton today, James, the owner of up to the county in Seagrove, North Carolina. So James, welcome to the show. Thanks for coming, because we want to talk about kind of what’s been going on in your coconut. And how can we help that coconut feel better? Right?

James Upton 1:09
It’s yeah, it’s great to bet you’re down. Thank you so much for asking me on the show.

Dawn Brolin 1:15
Yeah, you you, um, you’re the reason I wrote this book. You are the reason right? So, um, you know, it’s been quite a rough year and a half for the accounting industry. Just you know, us being practitioners, right? Let’s talk about your store. Tell me what’s going on. Because I am here to do nothing but help motivate you help you take some action and get, you know, kind of bring your life back to you, James, because that’s what I honestly genuinely care about.

James Upton 1:45
Well, I’ll tell you, what, don’t I’ll tell you a little bit about myself. Yes, I actually have been in the accounting attacks business, probably. All my life. Our family’s had an accountant, your tax business. You know, ever since I was born, and I’ve worked in this business since I was 16. I went on and because you have families, I’m in the sale and your route. Oh, yeah, you can you hear? Can you hear it in the horse a little bit? Yeah, I apologize to the listeners out there for burning your ears. But what I was gonna say is here, South is kind of one of those things that people expect you if your family has a business, that you will just pick up the reins, and complete down with that business. So I went to college at Gardner Webb University, and got an accounting degree. And then I went on and got my master’s. In the time between my BS and my master’s, my aunt who had been the, the owner of the farm, she developed stage four breast cancer. And so she ended up having to step away. And I became depressed at the farm when I was 24 years old. So I’ve had to have a lot of motivation in my life. So and, and I felt like for many years, that I’ve been motivator of people, and I’ve been highly motivated. And I’m just gonna be honest with you, the pandemic, and everything that’s happened, has just completely crushed me. I’ve had some personal things also, we actually ended up getting married last year, and when I’m sorry, it was 2019. You know, 2020 is the year that never ended. So we’re still excited last year’s 2019. The last year that we live, you know, it’s kind of like, Apple, like, you know, how we have Anno Domini. And I feel like we need to have another like, I feel like it’s an epic time, like we need to, to create some type of numbering system, decide we’re going back to zero now. And this is the year one, you know. I was gonna say, Yes, I had gotten married. And you know, that’s a huge change in laugh, because I had put my career on my personal lap. So attorney and I get married, then trying to be a newlywed during COVID. And then everything just kind of goes off the rocker. And the last part was tough. I won’t get into that. But in the course of last year, I went through a COVID pandemic, march 15, all my staff is scared that they’re gonna die. I go home. And everybody if you’ve ever been in a accounting practice, march 15th is, you know, it’s the biggest demo of the biggest days of the year. Right? So March 15, all my staff, I have six staff besides my co pilot business partners. So my stay up there in here and they’re like, you know, it’s almost like we’re looking for the asteroid to heat and sun and everybody’s like, let’s go home. You know, these taxes don’t matter. They’re gonna extend every standard this deadline, you know, we’re all gonna die anyway. So it doesn’t matter. You know? Because to begin with, you know, I was almost like a nuclear blast, like, let’s walk outside and take a breath and take and just Dan I have this this light eye on, you know, or when are the walkers gonna start walking down the street, that’s what we’re looking for. And so all the staff gets home, okay, my business partner, we’re like, you know, we still have a farm to run, we still have a base overhead, and we set up returns that have to be done. And so we just continue slogging, it’s gonna be slogging through returns. And we did that up until April 15. Because we, you know, we were used to that. And then we were kind of like, you know, we’re gonna have to have a mental reset. And so we waited till after the April 30 deadline, and I took a week off the first week of May, and just tried to reset it. And then through the course of all that, we just realized that a lot of banks were in a personal office not going well at that moment. And so I ended up becoming separated. It is July 19. So we had July 15. And then July night, I became separated. So what I went through was, from July 19, to September 8, I was at work, but I was just go through the motions. As I was in a fog. And my business partner, she is my motivator, you know, we’re all over. She’s one of my motivators. And when I can’t say if she can motivate me, gotcha. So she steps in, and she says, James,

I need you to do some work. And I’m like, okay, great. And so she thought, I need you to review these 40 corporate returns. And I need you to sign off on these 30 individuals that are connected to these corporates. And she said, when the position and then I need you to get on board with getting another 150 Understand the October 15. So I was like, Okay, sounds like a plan. So somehow, I don’t be and got through it. Right, yeah. You found out probably, I’m a big talker. But at the same time, just out of these from the painting, and the personal stuff, I have lost, I lost a lot of motivation. And, you know, I’m 41. And this pandemic is made began to resemble my career choice, and just everything. Well.

Dawn Brolin 7:35
So Alright, so let’s talk about that for a second. So it’s, it’s the volume of work that is, is what is over, like, what’s killing you from the firm perspective?

James Upton 7:45
Okay, from a farm perspective. Number one, if you think about it, okay, if you take six people that were working, okay, and you multiply six people, times, here in our office, we did generally, like a nine to six, and we had a few that work on Saturdays, but just just for easy math, just say 45 hours. So six people times 45 hours. Okay, that’s 270 man hours each week. And we lost that from March 15 to June 1. And, and what’s so bad was, you know, we really should have kept pork in hindsight, 2020, we should have kept working. Because it was after that kind of back was when everything everybody started saying, Oh, my kids, daycare is closed, or, you know, my husband is, has quarantined his work, or, you know, my wife has been exposed, I’m happy to be out to somebody, you know. And that’s what brought me here. You know, and, and really, I feel like, if it ever happens, again, I know better what to do. But back to the farmer aspect, 270 hours, times, just say, a week, that’s 20 160 hours.

Dawn Brolin 9:00
That’s a whole year’s worth of work for one person.

James Upton 9:04
Right? Yeah. And so that puts us way behind. And then when I faced the personal challenges I was already behind. And even more low balled, right? Yeah. Well, and here’s the thing, I’ll tell you. What’s happened to me is, I don’t have I have a telephone. I don’t know, if you, you probably don’t do that you’re probably smarter than I am. But here the telephone calls that I don’t answer, the staff put them in a Google a good Google Doc, or a Google sheet. And I have all the others and they pose and they say this person is their second call or whatever. Well, here’s the thing, once I’ve spent 10 hours here, and I try to catch some phone calls, but you know, in the course that I might get eight to 10 phone calls. Yes. It’s hard to return those calls. And then I have people that are emailing me, I have work, you know, and I still have people now that want to come in face to face. So I just feel different. Crusher, the volume of work. But what nobody’s talking about is how the IRS is, is set up are behind in processing. And they’re not doing anything for us. Yeah, I’ve got I’ve got probably 10 or 12 cases laying here on Mondays. I can’t resolve because I can’t get Irs on the phone, or they won’t process or mail.

Dawn Brolin 10:24
Yeah. Well, that’s, and I think that that’s part of our problem is that, you know, we’re working our tails off. And, you know, I had a guy who just came in, like about an hour ago, and he’s somebody who didn’t file a 17 return. So we had a paper file to 17. And there’s a refund, I know he won’t get the refund, but there’s a would be a credit on the account, whatever, to offset some future tax and stuff. I think we got it done before the deadline, etc, etc. And he’s talking…

James Upton 10:48
I rush to get one in, I rushed to get one in to, I know what you mean. Yeah.

Dawn Brolin 10:52
I’m like, your board of mail. Let’s hurry up. Right. And so, you know, so we got the clients that are common in their last give me the same freakin question every week. And I’m like, Joe, I called I got an extension to October 13. This guy gave me he’s like, let’s wait to let all the returns process and everything could wash out or whatever. And it’s like, so they think we are doing our job. Right, because you’re and…

James Upton 11:16
And it makes you feel defeated you because I haven’t always, I’ll be honest with you. I’m not a rookie at this. I’ve done this 18 years, I’ve been the president by state Accounting Society. I’m not a CPA, but I’m an enrolled agent, because tax is my specialty. But I do have a master’s in accounting with a concentration in taxation. You know, tacky search was one of my things that I love to make what you say you love to actually search, you’re obviously a tax or but anyway. So for these clients to come in and say, James, you’re just letting me down. And I’m like, you know, I’m, I’ve got the gas pedal down. I’m throwing gas on the fire and no, you know,

Dawn Brolin 11:57
Yeah, so in. And I think that’s why, like, I was so interested in talking to you, because that is definitely, it is very common. And this is how people are feeling right now. It’s like, so the way I kind of looked at it, so we I’m just 100% virtual, always, you know, kind of embraced that for about 12 years. Now. I’ve got all my tax software hosted in the cloud. I’ve got everything I can grab a MacBook. So when the pandemic did hit, we only had three total staff, myself plus three people, two billable ones, my virtual assistant, she’s phenomenal. She’s been with me for like eight years, I was able to say, hey, take your laptops go home, work from home, no problem, right? We have everything’s in the clouds that grab the documents. So we don’t really skip a beat. If anything, we’ve brought on about 70 or 80 new clients last year.

James Upton 12:41
Well, and we have a lot of that in process. The thing is, I had me and say we still have a front desk here. So you know, we lost those people. And I did have two people are working virtually. And then I had one lady that we would, she would come and pick up things and go back home. And you know, because we have pots, we did virtual See, or we do CFO services. So we have to go pick up mail. There’s so much that has to be physically handled.

Dawn Brolin 13:12
Yeah, and that’s really tough. No, it’s really hard. So I you know, I just find like, I think it’s like we just have to have this club of people. A club. And you know, there’s a lot of great Facebook groups out there. There’s I’m a part of what’s called, I think it’s called The Sisterhood of the lady tax pros. And they are awesome. It’s like, you know, they’ll put you know what, I’m down today. And then we see a lot of what you said in your comment. We’re seeing that everywhere. People are just feeling so defeated, like you said, and it’s like, I think it does make you feel a little bit better. You’re not the only one.

James Upton 13:46
Yeah, right. Absolutely. Tax Twitter has really lifted me up. I love tax, Twitter. And because we’re all sharing, you know, the pain that we’re in together, you know, it’s professional pain, and sometimes personal pain, but we’re sharing it, you know, and it’s true.

Dawn Brolin 14:03
It’s true. So I love I love what you said about your part, your business partner who’s your motivator, right?

James Upton 14:09
She has a lot of motivators in my life. But right now, she’s pretty much my motivator, we try to motivate each other because there’s some days, she’ll tell me she’ll say, she’s like, I can’t do this today. And usually, the days that she’s down are the days that I can work.

Dawn Brolin 14:26
It’s perfect combination right there. The how that is just so important right now. And that’s what the message of the designated motivator is all about. Who do you have in your organization who is motivating you who is helping you get through those tough days and we all have them, everyone has them? There’s not one person in this world who’s like every day is awesome. No, it’s not a thing. So and that’s what were the message I’m trying to get out to a lot of the accounting professionals, all of the accounting professionals is if you don’t have the partner that that that you have James Upton’s got his motivator. And James Upton’s business partner has her motivator. Right? All in it. So if you’re by yourself, you got to find one. Because, you know,

James Upton 15:11
I’m gonna be honest with you. And I’ll talk to you about that in just a moment, I mentioned that I had a prison of North Carolina Society of accountants. And prior to having a business partner, I actually, I’ll just go back in time, I think it was 2000. And over was when I that was, it was October 31 2003, was it I took over. So it’s 18 years this Halloween. So anyway, for the first few years, I was alone, my past and I was on my own. And so I had my mom, she had retired from another career, and she was kind of a open, and I’d had my staff, she had two staff. So to begin with, it was just me, and two of my staff, and my mom, that’s so small, we were smaller to start with, you know, the business just started growing. Just the natural outgrowth of just changing, embracing technology, and we were blamed. So I remember, I had not really took part in any associations or organizations. And I kept getting invitations. And, you know, this is something I would share with people that listen to this, don’t forsake face to face organizations and interactions. Our organization was having chapter meetings, we had a local chapter. And I would say, you know, that’s a waste of my time, I can make more money at the office. Well, I remember one day, and I’ll tell you how this happened, this true story. A client o’clock came to me, and they said, Hey, we’re going to be leaving your phone. And I said, Oh, really? I said, why is that? And I said, well said, we were at a meeting, which our local Chamber of Commerce has a Professionals Network meeting. And they met a guy, because in these potential networks, I always have one bit for pension, if you’ve ever heard of it, insurance, I don’t want to turn your account on whatever. Yeah, we would I met this guy at their professional meeting. For whatever reason, he just told them, they said, he said, Who’s your accountant? And they said, James up, and he said, Hi, that guy doesn’t know anything. He’s just a kid. Okay, so I knew he was in this organization. So that’s what I was gonna tell you. So sometimes, you can start out to be vindictive, or have the wrong mindset. And thanks for your work out. And I’m accretions. I don’t believe in karma. But I do believe it, Providence. So let me go ahead and say this, I go to the meeting with the intention that this guy does not even know me. And I’m gonna lecture next time, he says, it’s just a kid, and he doesn’t know anything. And he’s gonna have a face to put with that name. Because I’d never made it. So I get to the meeting, and genuinely great people. And I’m like, while, so through that organization. In my local chapter, I’ve met great people. Then I went to some state meetings, and met people from all over the study. And I met a lady that is actually, you know, a mentor to me. And I have anyone that our time. But there was one account, that was an HSA to consider a mentor to me. When I was starting out, number one, these were two. And number two, I was working too hard, which I’m back to that, you know, that’s what happens. But I remember she told me, she said, Let me tell you, she said you are spending too much work information, people who don’t value you, and that she was my motivator. And something I noticed in your book, you talked about the difference in encourager and a motivator. And in my life, I’ve always encouraged her. But I realized and I’ll read your book, that being a motivator, it’s so much more important. Because an encourager makes you feel better in the moment. And a motivator is somebody that’s going to challenge you to make changes that might be better. Down the line all the way through your life. Yeah. And I never had really great plan until I read your book.

Dawn Brolin 19:31
Oh, that’s awesome. Thank you!

James Upton 19:32
Yeah I will tell you that. But that like, I remember one time I had a project to do. And she told me I called her up and I said, and I’m going to tell you her name is Florence, blacker, and I’m going to give her credit Florence black. Okay. And she’s a wonderful account on North Carolina. And but I’ll tell you what, this tells you how motivators go through generations. She told me she said I learned How to be big and tough. I’ll just use that kind of word. Because when a podcast big and tough from the guy that she started working for, which was a man named Bobby Murphy, and she said, you know, he would do that. And she said, he just owned who he was. And he knew that he was worth his value. And he would say, this is your full evolved, he would say, that’s great. He said, You know, I respect that. He said, I’ve got two other people who are ready to come in here and work with me, thank you so much, have a good day, and even escort about no work. And so I never had been that confident. And she told me, she said, know what you’re doing. He said, You got to have that confidence. And she said, but make sure if you’re going to be like this, deliver the value that you promised. And so that’s, you know, I remember that first project, I had a client and I ended up and I’m sure I’m saying this, but it was, it was a, it was a very, very lucrative engagement, the most lucrative engagement I had ever been involved in. And the client, believe it or not, they did not balk. And they knew it’s worth it. And they believed me. And that was my first time saying, you know, I didn’t lowball. And so that’s one thing that has changed. You know, our firm, we’re almost to a million dollar revenues here in this far mile. I know, that doesn’t sound huge. I mean, I’m in the sale. But at the same time, for me, it was great. It’s a big deal.

Dawn Brolin 21:34
So congratulations, that’s awesome.

James Upton 21:36
And that’s what I was gonna say, three months later, those days made motivators. And then when things started growing and blossoming, no sign people taught me this, Hey, you can’t do this alone alone. And, you know, at night coach me and saying, hey, you know, you need a business partner. And they were also the ones that told me, this is your brand, you build this arm, you need to have a business partner, but you know, majority, and I helped me to allow that planning process. And these people have affected me positively, you know, for the rest of my career. What I got back, is that lady, the motivation she received from her mentor has passed down to her. And now she’s passed that to me, and I’m hoping to do that, as well.

Dawn Brolin 22:24
And you will, James, there’s no doubt about it. Like, you know, just having this conversation with you. Like, I don’t know, I just, I just feel like we we have to just stick together, we really do. And we and you know, you motivated me when when Gaynor reached out to me and told her what had happened. I’m like, get him on the phone now. Get the boy…

James Upton 22:44
Oh, the day I was writing that tweet. I was kind of down and I was just like, you know, under the ball, have no motivation? And I’ll tell you what, that no motivation. Like for me, it’s where, you know, I know. And I just don’t care. You know, it’s where our batteries are completely drying? Yeah. Yeah. And, and I think the whole accounting for patients that right there now, you know..

Dawn Brolin 23:10
I agree, and that’s what we’re going to try to revive, we’re going to try to revive them. And that’s why the, you know, there’s a sequel to that book that’ll be coming out this fall, really specifically for the accounting industry that we’re really that I’m really excited about that we can just help, you know, push people forward. So between you, me, your mentors, other people’s mentors, I mean, we’ve all have them, and people that are motivating us. And that’s that’s the key, because, because talk is talk, but when you actually do something about it and say, You know what, even this morning, today’s gonna be my day, I’m going to go get this day, this is going to be my day, and nothing stopping me. And you just plow through like the guy who goes in with the confidence. And that’s what, that’s the hard part. Because it’s the hard part to just be like, you know, willing to do that it’s so much easier laid out. It’s easier to just stay in your room, for instance, right? I’ve done that. I’ve been there when I don’t want to get up. And then it’s like, you know, the kid pops into your head or somebody you know, pop and you’re like, oh, right, I’ll get up.

James Upton 24:10
Well, I’ll tell you, for me. Something that I’ve realized is because of the pain, deeming I put a lot of self care on the back burner. So part of me trying to regain motivation, has been saying, Okay, I’m taking time for self care. And, you know, I hired a trainer, I met with our Friday, you know, you know, the things that you’ve got to do, because here’s the thing, we’re professional people, we’re intelligent, we’re and that’s what I tell myself. I’m too intelligent for this. And I’ve investigated and invested too much into my development. You know, I love to teach, but sometimes you have to teach yourself and you have to go deep. And you have to say, Okay, this is coming from the inside of me. I’ve got to reach down and motivate myself. Yes, you know, And I know there’s times and you mentioned it to there’s times that, you know, concern for. And I’m gonna be honest with you, I was somebody that I got so overwhelmed that this and I’m going to have an honesty moment here. And I know I’m on a podcast. But you know, I’m doing this because it helped me. There was one day back in March. And now this part ends and she says, you know, you’re not functioning well, what is going on, and she realized that I will sit, you’re having panic attacks, you know, I’d be the thermostat, but I’m saving the file. And I’d be going to get the sweater and put down because I was pretty easy and filling Muscat Prowl and everything. And she’s like, the doctor. So I got the doctor. And I said, you know, this kind of what’s going on, and she’s like, you’re having anxiety and panic attacks. And I’m like, Really, you gotta be kidding me. And she’s like, she said, we’re gonna give you a sample for anxiety. She did very low dives. And within a week’s time, I felt like a brand new person. So that’s what I’m gonna say is, don’t be afraid. This is not a laugh. But there are times and this pandemic, and this work load that we’ve all been faced with. Because here’s the thing. I’m not an unemployment specialist. I’m not a PPP loan specialist. I’m not SBA loan specialist. I’m not important for teacher Credit Specialist. I’m becoming all of those things. Mm hmm. But what people don’t realize is, you know, first of all, we were facing, you know, nice refunds every day, people are dying people die, paper died. But yeah, our job is getting, you know, piled on over and over. And we’re having to learn brand new things, on top of everything we already have today. So, right, accountants have faced, I think, our most difficult challenges and some of the most difficult moments. And at the end of the day, all of us just like me, we all still have our personal lives, you know, and here’s the thing, families, number one, you know, family has to be number one. Even more so than that your own self care. And looking after yourself. Yeah. Because there’s times that you need to be able to say, you know, I’m gonna have to check out, and I’m not saying for all day, but it’s okay. And I’ve had to learn these, it’s okay to say, I’m not answering emails today. I’m not answering phone calls today. Or I’m gonna plan to come in at 11am today, or I’m leaving at four o’clock today. It’s not, it’s not a crime. Not something I’ve done is I’ve sacrificed relationships and things with friends. And you know, especially we didn’t have during the COVID, you’re in COVID times because we couldn’t meet. But now I’m back to where, you know, one of the greatest things I used to do was I used to plan to go have breakfast with a friend every Friday. I’m trying to get back to that you got it’s all self care. It’s all self care. thing is we’ve got to motivate each other to self care and to do all these things we’ve got to.

Dawn Brolin 28:00
Absolutely and Heather Satterly a great example of that. She she went back to horseback riding. You know, I went and coached the softball team, which is why the book even happened. Yes, right. And that’s life is shortly I decided once we got past that May deadline, I work 10 to four, I’m going to do the best I can to get as much done as I can obviously some days I stay till eight or nine. Got stuff, it’s okay. But I feel like mentally it’s like I’m okay with I like I like to just lay in bed, read facebook, watch me some tic TOCs because I love the funny animals I have my newest favorite tic tock are these dogs that are literally howling, but they’re screaming and I cry every time I watch it. Like that’s the stuff I want to fill in my head in the morning, good stuff, happiness, and, and hopefully, you know, one person that I see, you know, throughout the day or talk on the phone too, that I can, you know, step back and even my my guide Joe that comes in constantly out. He’s just got nothing to do, you know, not getting frustrated with him like Joe and trying to get stuff done. So I get out of here and be like, Hey, Joe, what’s going on? Come on in, sit down, you know, yeah, I’m trying. I’m really making a mental decision to be more patient and be more and I don’t pray for patience, because that’s never a good idea.

James Upton 29:14
No. You know, that’s my best financial advice I would give you do not pray for patience.

Dawn Brolin 29:22
So yeah, so I mean, you know, really the end of the day, James, I’m so glad that we got to talk and I hope and I want to continue the conversation with you. I you know, so we can just stay in touch. And, you know, I’ll give you I’ll motivate you and we’ll stick together.

James Upton 29:36
Well, I’ll tell you something, you really have motivated me and reading your book and seeing how because what you’ve done is you took your experience with the with the team and you were able to motivate them. And I think people don’t realize a lot of our job as accountants is to motivate our clients. Absolutely. Because I think we see potential in businesses and clients but maybe they don’t see. And you know, I’ve had clients that were ready to throw in the title and that’s I don’t feel like I’m making any money and I’m like, Yeah, you actually already and you know, this is gonna pay us. And I’ve got clients that stayed in business, because I’ve been able to motivate them. But, but I think we struggle finding those motivators are slightly off sometimes. And so, it’s okay to reach out and say, Hey, I need some motivation, you know? Yeah. And I appreciate you motivating me.

Dawn Brolin 30:28
Yeah, you’re great, James. I mean, you’re on my mind all the time. We’re gonna stay in touch for sure. And I’m will have you I’m gonna have you back on it like a handful of months once you’ve gotten you know, get through this. And then I want to hear more about how it ended up. You know, because your story is always going on. So you’re going to be my bread. And oh, so but thank you for joining the DM disruption podcast today and James, opt in. I love you, man. And I will I will be in touch with you. Okay. Thank you so much. I hope you enjoy this podcast. Feel free to visit DawnBrolin.com in order to motivate you to improve your practice. Wishing you all the best. Have a great day.

Episode Summary

Best-selling business author and advocate for entrepreneurs, Mike Michalowicz, joins Dawn Brolin, CPA, CFE, to talk about finding the motivation to come back from setbacks. He details his own struggles and why his mission is to eradicate entrepreneurial poverty. He also gives Dawn tips on how to run a successful podcast…Michalowicz style!

How Mike Found His Motivation and His Come Back Story

Mike shares the story about how he had to lose almost everything in his life to gain back control. He talks about how making the active choice to try and solve the issues around him is what put him back on the path to success.

He also shares a quote that he keeps on his wall that reads, “Eradicate entrepreneurial poverty,” and uses that as his motivation to solve issues not only for himself, but to fellow entrepreneurs around him.

Mike’s Impact and “Profit First”

Dawn discusses how Mike’s book, “Profit First,” comes up in certain conversations with clients and colleagues, and how people always have wonderful things to say about him and his book.

Dawn and Mike also discuss how since the success of “Profit First,” other entrepreneurs have used his concepts and ideas to write their own version of “Profit First,” and tailor it to their specific industry and needs.

The Designated Motivator Concept and it’s Success

Mike discusses his admiration for Dawn’s new “Designated Motivator” concept, and says he really understood it when she presented it at an art conference he attended. He speaks fondly about her phenomenal presentation, and says “It really can be one person,” when discussing how the right individual can make all the difference in a team or company. 

“One person with the right attitude and the belief in others can turn a company into anything,” he also adds.

How to Be the Designated Motivator

Mike asks Dawn how she is able to genuinely believe that a team or company is going to achieve success, despite their losses in the past.

Dawn responds by saying, “I’ve got to find out what makes this person…what makes them tick. What do they love, what do they not love…you got to get in their heart, and you have to show interest.” She talks about how if you truly take time to know someone, and genuinely want them to succeed, progress will be inevitable.

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Dawn Brolin 0:01
Hello everyone and welcome to the DM disruption. I’m the host Dawnn 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.

Mike Michalowicz 0:48
This is your first podcast ever and that’s why I’m going to teach you how to do a podcast.

Dawn Brolin 0:52
That’s what we’re here on the designated with the DM disruption. It’s all about disrupting yourself while on camera.

Mike Michalowicz 0:59
Exactly in front of them. So here’s tip one. Tip One is you start in a facilitated conversation that sounds like it’s kind of off the cuff like, hey! I haven’t seen you in so long!

Dawn Brolin 1:10
Oh my Lord, Michael.

Mike Michalowicz 1:12
You look amazing.

Dawn Brolin 1:13
Oh, stop it.

Mike Michalowicz 1:14
And always sound like you’re in the same room. That’s the other thing.

Dawn Brolin 1:17
Oh, we definitely are.

Mike Michalowicz 1:18
I know we are and it looks like it. Are you broadcasting the video? Are you just showing just audio?

Dawn Brolin 1:24
Oh no, we’re doing both.

Mike Michalowicz 1:25
Okay, so do listen to recording. We’re in the same room. People are video. We’re not in the same room.

Dawn Brolin 1:31
But don’t tell those people. They’ll never know.

Mike Michalowicz 1:34
That’s tip one. Tip Two is have little icons of yourself that you can throw up on the screen.

Dawn Brolin 1:39
Oh, I like that. That’s awesome. I um, well, I guess this is probably a good interpretation. Here’s mine. Because if you know me, you need is looking for my face. You need a you this is a user manual. And we got a user manual. For what how do we use her? How do we use Dawn Brolin?

Mike Michalowicz 2:01
How often have you heard that like when when you were dating? Yeah. How many times you here? How are we going to use? How am I going to use her?

Dawn Brolin 2:09
I think it was the other way around. How many?

Mike Michalowicz 2:11
Did you ever say that? Like someday like I’m gonna use that person?

Dawn Brolin 2:14
Oh right to their face, though. I would not like look over the room. I’d be like bright up in their grill. Like, how old were you?

Mike Michalowicz 2:20
When you did your first date? How old were you?

Dawn Brolin 2:22
Seventh grade. I held hands. Man. It was intense.

Mike Michalowicz 2:26
Oh my god. That’s amazing. And I’m like, serious boyfriend girlfriend.

Dawn Brolin 2:30
Actually, he was my first real boyfriend. And I say, I still love him.

Mike Michalowicz 2:37
Oh, yeah! It’s your first love is always your permanent love. Totally. So how long did you date?

Dawn Brolin 2:45
Well, for about two and a half years, of course, you know, from junior high school into high school. And then he found this blonde and left me. I mean, let me give you the instance when I knew we were done. It was snowing. And I called him we’re supposed to talk on the phone, you know, talk on the phone. I called him and he’s like, I’m sorry, I can’t talk to you. I’m making a snowman.

Mike Michalowicz 3:06
Right now ninth grade.

Dawn Brolin 3:07
This is ninth, Like almost 10th grade.

Mike Michalowicz 3:09
That’s a dagger to the heart.

Dawn Brolin 3:11
And I think part of it was that every time we would get together I still thought it was like it’s a competition. So let’s play like, let’s play horse. Let’s like compete, and I would win and I think that kind of went against me. Yeah, the man. Want a competitive woman.

Mike Michalowicz 3:27
Yeah, so some people do some guys do some guys don’t. You know, he’s like, I’m making a snowman and you’re like, with who are by yourself? Or how did

Dawn Brolin 3:38
Yeah, he was he’s just like I’m making I’m making a snowman. I gotta go.

Mike Michalowicz 3:42
So what came of his life?

Dawn Brolin 3:44
Do you know? Wonderful guy is a chef.

Mike Michalowicz 3:46
Oh, nice.

Dawn Brolin 3:47
Nice guy. Yep. Marry to actually girl that I played basketball against named Pam. Great person. Love her. So it was all good. It wasn’t really good in the beginning. Oh, because I you know, we play basketball against each other. So I just want to pound her every time we were on the court. Oh, she stole him from me. And you know, after that phone call went upstairs. Of course, it was dinner time, which is always convenient. While I sit at the table sobbing. My tears go falling into mashed potatoes. My mom’s crying, I’m crying.

Mike Michalowicz 4:18
And let me ask this question. Obviously, that didn’t continue that relationship didn’t continue. But when it comes to family members, your spouse and people in your family, what are the professions you need for a well rounded family? Chef is one you definitely have chef in a family.

Dawn Brolin 4:36
A nurse or a doctor doctor? Yep. For the chef.

Mike Michalowicz 4:40
I’m asking I know that list. By the way. I’m asking to see if you can get the top five.

Dawn Brolin 4:43
Okay, so I’ve got chef I’ve got nurse,

Mike Michalowicz 4:46
I count six, nurse or doctor number one,

Dawn Brolin 4:50

Mike Michalowicz 4:52

Dawn Brolin 4:54
I mean, let’s be real, therapist.

Mike Michalowicz 4:57

Dawn Brolin 5:00
I would ah, a contractor.

Mike Michalowicz 5:05
Number two, well, we’ll take woodworker, cabinetry maker or contractor number two.

Dawn Brolin 5:10
So does plumber doesn’t get involved…?

Mike Michalowicz 5:13
Four! Number five?

Dawn Brolin 5:18

Mike Michalowicz 5:19

Dawn Brolin 5:20

Mike Michalowicz 5:21
Oh, you that should be, it’s not even listed, that should be on there. Number five is auto mechanic.

Dawn Brolin 5:27
I could I could have gotten there. I could have totally gotten there.

Mike Michalowicz 5:30
The thing is I was looking at this bill I got from TIA, I made the whole thing. Every time I looked down. I was like this bill, my insurance bill. I don’t know what the ranking is.

Dawn Brolin 5:40
Of course you don’t

Mike Michalowicz 5:41
Yeah, I have no idea. But I’ll tell you all those were good guesses. I don’t know you. Who don’t who don’t you want the family. A mortician?

Dawn Brolin 5:49
A therapist.

Mike Michalowicz 5:51
Ha ha! A therapist.

Dawn Brolin 5:52
I’m diagnosing you with you know, double personality disorder.

Unknown Speaker 5:56
Yeah. A home, a bum. A vagabond? You don’t want that one.

Dawn Brolin 6:03
An attorney would be a good one though.

Mike Michalowicz 6:06
Yeah, attorneys like you want them and you don’t want them.

Dawn Brolin 6:08
Right. Especially like if they’re a divorce attorney. Maybe not

Mike Michalowicz 6:12
When you’re in trouble. You want an attorney, but otherwise, you don’t want to acknowledge an attorney in the family. Oh, somebody was a chef. There’s a therapist.

Dawn Brolin 6:22
You know what you don’t want? An IRS agent?

Mike Michalowicz 6:25
Oh, well, they don’t have family.

Dawn Brolin 6:31
unless you don’t want to go to parties. If you don’t want to be around people. You don’t want people to talk to you have an IRS agent in your family,

Mike Michalowicz 6:39
I wonder if anyone’s ever said that like, oh, what does your wife do? Oh, she’s a Russ. She’s an IRS agent. An Earus agent? …IRS.

Dawn Brolin 6:55
I have a true story about that. I did a IRS case 2011. With with down here in New Haven. And we had a great successful case. I was on the side of the IRS, which is now you know, get close to your enemies. loved them. They were great. So the Assistant United States Attorney her she had a birthday party. So she invited a bunch of people and she invited little Don Brawl into the party. And you could see the tables of people that were like, not anything to do with that IRS group. And those that were the ones that came like actual friends that came over the ire IRS criminal investigation, IRS agents, nobody was sitting at that table. But me. Yeah. It was great.

Mike Michalowicz 7:38
Why would you work with the IRS? Typically, they’re the private entities do the defense side or the other side? I should say,

Dawn Brolin 7:45
Right. Well, that was in your–thank you for just interviewing me during the podcast.

Mike Michalowicz 7:50
That’s how the first podcast always goes!

Dawn Brolin 7:54
No, it’s good. So what happened was actually I was an accountant who was not doing his job and said that his his own tank defrauded his own tax return essentially, and said QuickBooks was broken and made the wrong accounts and the reports were wrong. And so they called the IRS called into it, and they said, Hey, your software is broken. According to this defendant. We need you to send somebody out to verify and testify and they said, Oh, we don’t do that. But we know someone in Connecticut that will. So they sent me over and I went in as a QuickBooks expert. We convicted him of of IRS fraud, went to jail for eight years.

Mike Michalowicz 8:28
That could be jail time.

Dawn Brolin 8:29
He was eight years. Stavros S T A V R O S, Gainias G A N I A S, you can look it up, Google it. You’ll see the case right in there. I should get a copy of the transcript because there was one line that I said towards the end of my testimony. The opposing counsel said to me, Ms. Brolin is anyone–

Mike Michalowicz 8:51
Can I use that term loosely. And I think color–

Dawn Brolin 8:55
He should have just said Brolin, Brolin.

Mike Michalowicz 8:57
He’s like do you go by groin or crotch?

Dawn Brolin 9:01
I go by duh best. So he asked me Is anyone in this is anyone perfect Ms. Brolin. And I said, Sir, and I looked him right in the eyes as loud as I could, sir. Only Jesus. And that is in the court transcript.

Mike Michalowicz 9:18
“Only Jesus.”.

Dawn Brolin 9:20
And let’s just say that was pretty much the end of my questioning.

Mike Michalowicz 9:23
Oh my God, you did the biblical. Really? Yeah.

Dawn Brolin 9:26
It was so good though! The whole testament like they told me I testified for probably a total of six hours. I created a whole PowerPoint spreadsheet, a PowerPoint presentation for the jury to understand what was going on. And they told me that for the first like, hour, if you need to stand up you can really, because now I can use my hands. I said, I can. I’m pointing at the jury. Do you see what I’m saying? I’m looking at see that?

Mike Michalowicz 9:54
Oh were you you talking like that?

Dawn Brolin 9:56

Mike Michalowicz 9:58
It became your own show.

Dawn Brolin 9:59
It was sha–, they had the IR– I’m not bragging, maybe I am. I’m not. But the the CI, the head of CI in Boston. After my first day of testimony on a Friday, they recalled me to Monday, they called them and they came down from the Boston field office to watch the rest of my testimony.

Wow. They’re…

The bet the bails guys, the ones that come in, they supervise the courtroom. Yeah, they were like, We’re, it’s my turn, we want to go to the show.

Mike Michalowicz 10:30
So let me, this is my best interview ever. I want to say this, when it comes to that personnel you have you are a rarity. And you gotta admit this, like most people are not like, you know, therefore, most people don’t have the courage to be designated motivator. You know, how can how can I be a Don Brolin? Or do I need to be made better question?

Dawn Brolin 10:51
You just need to make sure you have one in your life?

Mike Michalowicz 10:54
Oh, you can find one? You can find one.

Dawn Brolin 10:57
Yeah, you can find one. But you know, for those people who you don’t have to be screw, yeah, I’m a little over the top. A little. But really the end of the day. And this is one of the questions I want to ask you, Mike was, at some point you’ve been through, you’ve bought and sold businesses, you’ve been a part of you, you have your amazing story of a major struggle that you had towards the end of one of your opportunities, one of your entrepreneurial outings, if you will. And you had to pull yourself together. At the end of that you’ve told the story many times and if you want to preface with a little bit of that, what got you motivated enough to pick yourself up? And I know the answer this but people, people out there listening or watching do not know it that pulled you out of that pit that you were in and motivated you to say I’m not giving up? I’ve got to do this. Oh, yeah.

Mike Michalowicz 11:49
So sorry, the end now tell the story. Good. I found I know this is true in your life, too, is that we all experienced trauma. And there’s different flavors of it. My experience was around financial collapse I brought upon myself and it was in retrospect, I now realize I was trauma had all the symptoms, shock, disassociation, anger, depression. But I’ll tell you it compared to other traumas that people experienced that is nothing. There’s physical abuse, sexual abuse, I mean, there’s stuff that’s horrible. And we found those in those moments, we can make a declaration to say I will never allow this to happen to myself or anyone else again. And that became a declaration which I didn’t even really know I was making conscious. I was making subconsciously it wasn’t conscious. Ultimately, you’re unconscious. The mom was I built and sold to companies. I’m 30 years old. You You and I met on a TV set right after this traumas about two years later, but I made money and I thought I was hot. Shit. I thought I was the tamale. I walk around like, oh my god, if I saw you on the street, I’d say nice word. But like, I am so smart. I’m so much better than you. So Right. And I believe that’s really interesting. When I was interviewing you for my podcast about being a DM, you said you got to believe in other people more than they even believe in themselves. I believed in me more, I believe in others. And that’s the reverse of DMing. That’s what I’m doing. That’s where you’re a mad dummy. And what I thought was greater. And so I think God universe, something had to fix this for me. And what I did was I started a third business as an angel investor. I didn’t know what I was doing. I lost all my money, I lost well over a million dollars and wiped myself out. I lost everything, including my home. And I had to face my family to say we’re losing our house. We lost it 30 days later. And when I lost the house, we actually weren’t we were renting a house with the intention of buying in this neighborhood. We’re scouting it out. We couldn’t afford the rent. So landlord said, You got to you got split. And we saved our ass. That’s another story. But I went to my family say we’re losing our house. We’re losing everything. My daughter was nine years old at the time. And she said to me, she was I tell her I said, I can’t afford your horseback riding lessons was $20 a session. And she looks at me and she just starts welling up crying. And she ran away. I thought she was running away from me. And I think when we experience trauma, that sensation of running away is very overwhelming. She actually was running to her bedroom to grab her piggy bank. And she ran back to me and she was Daddy. I know you can’t provide for us anymore. I’ll provide for the family. And it’s such a gut punch. It’s that I brought that much devastation that a nine year old girl feels that she has to give her life savings which she was saving quarter by quarter penny by penny to buy a horse one day to give up her dream to support the idiot. And so that became my wake up call. And just to be clear about this dog because I think many people confuse this in other people’s stories like oh, so the next day you start kicking ass as An author or doing your thing. Now, next day I start hitting the bottle I was Busan, I spent over a year in depression, never went to a therapist. So it’s self diagnosed. But clinically, I meet all the parameters of depression. And but what came out of it slowly, was this growing awareness that I had problems in. First out, except I didn’t really understand how entrepreneurship worked. I didn’t understand how money works, at first admit that maybe I have a problem. And then I set out to fix it. And honestly, every piece of work I’ve done up to this point has been trying to fix my own problems, things don’t stand by entrepreneurship. The final thing I want to add to this is it has become a mission. I was on my wall right here says eradicate entrepreneurial poverty. This experience I have of all these challenges, entrepreneurship in entrepreneurship is not limited to me. So many entrepreneurs have it. So I’m trying to fix for me I’m trying to fix for millions of other people my book, that’s how it came about. And so he said, designated motivator, the first person for me in my life that motivated was me around a calling a purpose. I wake up every morning, I look I have my house too. I look at those words. I think those words, I’m like, I gotta fix this today. I got bring the best of me today, every single day.

Dawn Brolin 16:18
And you do and you you have changed many people’s lives. I run into weird places or client phone calls. And I’ll just say, Hey, have you heard of profit first? And they’re like, Oh, my God, last month? And of course I do and blah, blah, blah. And of course here my next line is? He’s a friend of mine. bodies. We did. We did some shows together. Have you seen? What’s your business? Your business? Episode 77 with? I mean, it was tucked away in the back, but it was there.

Mike Michalowicz 16:50
Yeah, I dare say we were too good for that show. Because first episode, it was just me. Yeah.

Dawn Brolin 16:57
Right. We crushed it.

Mike Michalowicz 16:58
We crushed it. And then subsequent episodes. They’re like, really? I don’t know if you should be the exclusive host. We want JJ. And JJ is probably the nicest person I know is she’s on her. Oh, yes. I could spin out show but never.

Dawn Brolin 17:11
You never know. Maybe in the future. Yeah, we could make our own movie.

Mike Michalowicz 17:16
Dude, that woman was awesome that the series of shows she made, I wish to continue on forever. And I don’t know, if they didn’t get renewed or JJ is like I’m just dying after doing like 500 episodes or something crazy.

Dawn Brolin 17:26
Probably no, it was it was a phenomenal opportunity. I just like no everything happens for a reason, the way you look back at it really does. So So I want to hear so it looks like so Profit First is like taking off. And I think that, you know, I’ve always been somebody since I met you to follow what you’re doing. So the first question I have is, What do you have in front of your camera? So you’re looking at the camera as opposed to the person?

Mike Michalowicz 17:49
How do you how do you do this right?

Dawn Brolin 17:51
Yeah I need that.

Mike Michalowicz 17:52
Yeah, you look at the camera.

Dawn Brolin 17:55
So I just go like this instead of looking at you.

Mike Michalowicz 17:57
I’m not looking at you, so I can’t even tell. So I see you out of the corner of my eye. So I can see like an outline of you by can’t see your eyes or anything.

Dawn Brolin 18:04
Okay, so it’s a strategy.

Mike Michalowicz 18:06
Oh yeah, and it’s one of the top things that people doing video don’t do. They look at now I’m looking at you. They do this the whole time. Yeah. And I wonder I understand for conversation, but this is presentation. This is different. So look at the camera like it’s your own. I guess someone’s eyeball and just never never break from it ever.

Dawn Brolin 18:25
Oh, so this is kind of like Monsters Inc. Where you have what’s his face with the one eye?

Mike Michalowicz 18:29
Yeah. Like, you know, I’ve never seen that movie. Mike was always that Mike McCalla watts, Mike was asked

Dawn Brolin 18:37
the same thing. You have one head one thing in your head. That makes sense. But off the part of that. So I’ve been following you. So I’m going to try it. I’m going to practice the rest of this. Okay, stay locked in on the camera, they lock down the camera. So yeah, actually, you know, it’s not like I’m like attracted to look at you. So that’s a whole nother thing but um, so because your wife is terrifying. So um, one other thing is that I want to let you know I’ve been trying to follow you follow in your footsteps on your success when it comes to being an author. But not only that, but being that inspiration motivator to all of your followers and all of your audience. And so I’m my whole goal is to follow your concept of Profit First, and now you have people writing their own versions of profit first for the doctor. I think it was a doc, I can’t remember I see a bunch of people popping up saying just came out what happened motivated with that what happened there?

Mike Michalowicz 19:26
So this is interesting is people that do these, these books are looking to gain further exposure for themselves just like I’m looking to for the work I do in you. And there’s really two paths. If you want to pursue a book, you can write your own book, but your thing garner the exposure you got to get the word out. So you really released DM and you’ve great, extraordinary idea. Now you got to do podcasts or podcasts and in hope it catches on, right. The other path is you take an established brand and you do a derivative. So he’s either said well Profit First so popular that when an entrepreneur hears about it now, they already know it, I just want to, I want to be part of that brand momentum. So that’s what these authors are doing. They’re doing Profit First for a vertical. What’s interesting is I think we have seven in circulation. And I think there’s one more coming out this year, every single author has really soared started, they own their category. The first book that came out was called Profit First for ecommerce providers. Well, if you’re not an E commerce provider means nothing but if you are if you sell on Amazon, that’s a big deal. And Cindy Thomas and the author is the authority now in that space, right?

Dawn Brolin 20:36
Yeah, so So my whole follow Mike Michalowicz, mission, right? Is and I don’t know if it’ll be people that are writing offsets of the designated motivator in the future. But I see what we’re working on right now is a designated motivator for the accounting professional, you know,

Mike Michalowicz 20:52
Where you write it yourself.

Dawn Brolin 20:54
That’s, that’s what we’re going for. So so even if maybe other people don’t want to write their designated motivator book, with their, like you said, with their industry specific or their passion, they could write. So I following that, and so did they approach you how did it work? Did you like put that out there? Or did they come to you what what happened?

Mike Michalowicz 21:13
They a few people approached me say, Hey, I would love to be a co author. So once, once I start getting all these, hey, I’d love to co author a book with you. Which I don’t do, I would suggest you never do. And probably I’m contracted not to do like penguin penguin would shoot me down in seconds. I don’t know, right? You are the brand. The thing is, it’s like any other business partnership to people author a book, if you’re going to and I know you buy you know, I know you over the years, you’re going to dry that so hard to be successful. If the other person doesn’t, they’re riding your coattails. So you really want to get in that and that your bed not for just a business, you’re in bed for eternity that book will always have your two names on it. Or the beginning it’s like I don’t know if I really want to do that. Now penguins lock me out. Real always not always but sorry regularly coming to me saying I want to co author a book with you. I’m like, can’t do it won’t do it. And then they start saying well, is there any way I can do a book with you? Because I want to leverage your brand and that’s like, oh, that’s what you want

Dawn Brolin 22:10
Well, at least they’re being honest,

Mike Michalowicz 22:11
Yeah, totally totally. They just want to get a quick like and are willing to pay for it’s not like it’s free. They pay 10s of 1000s of dollars just for the rights and then they earn a lot more just to do the process get printed. But this model isn’t new to me. You myth in the business space. Michael Gerber did this now this goes back 1520 years ago, it with E Myth for you know XYZ and you’ll see these themed books with these derivatives out there pretty regularly. Once a book gets traction..

Dawn Brolin 22:38
Chicken Soup for the Soul was like probably one of the ratios was a great example.

Mike Michalowicz 22:39
Chicken Soup for the Soul was a great example.

Dawn Brolin 22:43
A great example. So that was the concept.

Mike Michalowicz 22:45
Soup’s for your Mama’s soul.

Dawn Brolin 22:48
Exact always for mama always from Mama. Oh mama still around. She’s great.

Mike Michalowicz 22:52
Is she still working with you?

Dawn Brolin 22:53
Mama is still working with me. Shout out to Mama Mama. She’s great. She’s still still amazing. Still adorable. You can’t I mean, she never won’t be. Although she had to go to jury duty on Friday. And I told her I told her put some like fake piercings on your face. Maybe they won’t pick you.

Mike Michalowicz 23:09
Yeah. Does she care about the business? Or she care about being a noble citizen?

Dawn Brolin 23:12
I mean, right? Hello, it’s taxes. Let’s go. But um, yeah, so So I’m finding so what do you know? What are you thinking as far as like the designated motivator? Concept? Like, what do you think? What kind of impact do you think that that’s gonna have? And like, just be you know, you’re always honest with me. Like, what are you thinking? I mean, you wanna you wrote the foreword, buddy.

Mike Michalowicz 23:32
Yeah, I freaking love it. And the first time I heard it, and really understood it was when you presented it at our conference. Right was now that’s it two years ago, because it was pre COVID. I think it was..

Dawn Brolin 23:45
It was 19. I think it was 19. Because it was right after our season. It was the the fall of our contract season…

Mike Michalowicz 23:51
Yeah, you know, just to give you some context, when you come on stage, I have no idea we’re going to talk about I have no idea why. Yeah. Now anything you have a presentation, you just kind of go walking out there, like a little bit like Chris Farley, from when he doesn’t, he’s a motivational speaker, Matt Foley, kind of pull your pants up a little bit, and then just start rolling. And like, what are we gonna see this time? It’s always phenomenal. It’s always phenomenal. This one has something special about it. In that the story, there was a story arc with you turning that team around that softball team. Yeah. And what goes in my mind is nothing changed. The players didn’t change. The teams they are playing didn’t change, like the schedule, everything’s pretty much the same. There’s minor. Yeah, only thing of substance was one person you came in and started to treat them differently, have different expectations. The way you communicate is different. One person changed it. I started looking at other sports teams and sports is a great analogy for business. And you see a coach come in. And the same team that struggled for years all of a sudden turns around. It really can be one person And you see with companies, like you see, I remember looking at Apple computers, right grows with Steve Jobs, they get rid of Steve Jobs or he leaves wherever and apples are going, this starts tanking, they, they bring him back in one person, it was last season one person, and it goes right back up. I think people underestimate the impact they can have individually. And when you have it’s the strongest emotion, the strongest vision that wins. If you ever come home and you’re in a dispute with your spouse, what one’s really angry, one’s really happy, whoever, whoever brings that more and use the angry person, both sides are gonna go angry, or both sides are happy. And with his Desi motivator concept, I believe in so much, because if you bring it, you can change a team around and the performance can be extraordinary.

Dawn Brolin 25:48
Absolutely. And you know, that’s why the whole concept is if you’re not that person, that’s okay. You know, and that’s where I think people disconnect. Well, well, it doesn’t anymore. Yeah.

Mike Michalowicz 25:59
And I’m not Dawn Brolin, like, like, you know, this is like a tame you doing a podcast like you got to see you on stage. The, the antics is that you’ll do the stuff you’ll say. It’s unbelievable. And people love it and the same time say but I could never be that. We are here at our own. It’s not me. My name is Kelsey Eris. She’s actually down the hallway from me. Love her. Yeah. You know, Kelsey,

Dawn Brolin 26:23
I know Kelsey.

Mike Michalowicz 26:23
Kelsey is not Dawn Brolin, she doesn’t bring an energy this she doesn’t have craziness. She would not dress in a banana suit. Today she but she lavishes our team with love. She loves our people. And I saw our team who I was leading. Before Kelsey came on board. We were doing an amazing job. I so proud of us. When cows came on board it up. We went from amazing team members to team members who will take a bullet for the company now. And I’m like what’s changed? Kelsey, it’s just Kelsey, one person with the right attitude in the belief in others can turn a company into anything.

Dawn Brolin 27:04
Absolutely. It’s a genuine belief in somebody else. That’s part of it too. We you know, like everybody doesn’t have to, you know, order a body bag for instance, and put that in a dugout and then put the other teams scorecards up after we victoriously win 17 to one you know what everybody has said?

Mike Michalowicz 27:21
Would you do you bought a body bag? You’re so effing crazy.

Dawn Brolin 27:24
I bought a body bag. I thought it’d be fun. And I and we put the season we put the teams that lost against us on the body back body back in the body. Yeah. And then when when actually when I first brought it to the field because they never know what I’m showing up with they don’t know or so. How do you even buy a body bag you can buy a body bag I Amazon stores.

Mike Michalowicz 27:44
i wonder what the sales are!? Who buys that?! The guy the funeral home like Oh, my guy pick up somebody? Hey, hop on Amazon give me two bags. I need one for a chubby guy.

Dawn Brolin 27:56
Give me a orime order.

Mike Michalowicz 27:59
Give me a prime plus and a prime.

Dawn Brolin 28:02
Of course I didn’t just go cheap. I got the one with the handles. You know? So? Well, I got to the field. The kids who cannot believe it. They’re all crying laughing

Mike Michalowicz 28:11
And what did, did you have something in it? Or is it just an empty bag?

Dawn Brolin 28:13
Well, so I got in it, and you know it’s all zipped up, let me get in it! So I got in it. A couple of the kids carried me across the field. I mean, just you want to lighten the mood a little bit by a body bag and put one of your staff in it is here in the office

Mike Michalowicz 28:28
Was this if you want to lighten the mood, but somebody in a body bag, but it was this this game day?

Dawn Brolin 28:34
It was a practice actually was a good practice before a tournament and I’m like we got body bags now we got to start putting people in body bags only zip close early. They barely could couldn’t really breathe that seaway good thing only dead people.

Mike Michalowicz 28:48
So they carry you out in a body bag and what they unzip it and you’re like, Okay, here’s who we’re killing next. Or would you sell..?

Dawn Brolin 28:54
Yeah, they dragged me over to the duck out of the bullpen and the kids, you know, the girls are all warming up pitching, say bring me over there, put me on the ground, unzip it, and I just kind of pick my head up and the pitchers are just lose it. They just lose it. You know, and you don’t have to do that. But it’s pretty fun to do something out of the ordinary like, for next season. I heard about little violins to leave in a dugout for every dugout that we when we leave a little mini violin.

Mike Michalowicz 29:17
Oh my god, you’re on the opposing teams.

Dawn Brolin 29:20
Yeah, in their dugout, I mean, yeah,

Mike Michalowicz 29:23
It’s kind of like what you’re what, what’s really interesting about your designated motivator, technique, and people don’t realize this. It’s a technique used by serial killers. So you leave your calling card, some people chisel they take an eyeball with them, or they remove a tooth, or they leave a violin or something behind that’s your calling card.

Dawn Brolin 29:43
Your you got to know I was there. It’s awesome. So we’re, we’re you know, I’m always strategizing on how to here’s the thing people get so wrapped up in the seriousness of life like, unless we got to be serious believe me when you see me going against the IRS or I’m in here trying to battle for a client I’m assuming As they get, and I take all names, okay? And, and so there’s times when you obviously have to reel it back in and I have to work on that a little bit, sometimes sometimes a little word up. But at the end of the day, people will gravitate to abnormal, when it’s fun, and it’s creative, and they’re involved in it. And it’s like, you know, we had this one girl on team this past season, barely talked, and she really had a tough time kind of buying into what I was selling. And then one game, we started rallying, and one of the girls and everyone is sitting the same stay in the same spot. You know, we’re very super, what do you call it superstitious? And this girl that was seeing this one spot that we believe was the reason we were rallying? She had a go, she was she was going to pinch it. So I looked at this girl who has no emotion, I said, I looked around, oh, Taylor, she looked at me and I go, and she’s like, she went right over stood in the spot. And she was like, I can’t leave here. And, you know, so, again, it’s about like, I just want them to experience how great they really are. Yeah. And people in your office. They need to experience how great they are. Yeah, and that’s why, like you said, Kelsey, doesn’t have to be you know, buying body bags and stuff. But she she pours out love in the way that she pours it out and people know it’s genuine. Yeah, you know, and I think that that’s, that’s in the we need this in this in this country in this world, more than we do at any other time. Which I never thought I’d say that cuz I say that every year, I feel like, right, but we really do we need it. We need it now.

Mike Michalowicz 31:31
Yeah, no, I love that. And I love what I’m hearing is believing people so much. But let me ask you this. How do you believe in people when you don’t necessarily believe in, you arrive to a team? That’s not winning? So hard to say? Well, I believe in you and really believe that you arrive to a business that’s not selling and go to sales teams. I know you’ve got this. You can say those encouraging words. But how do you get the emotion there? So it’s an alignment?

Dawn Brolin 32:00
Yeah, you gotta like, the way I look at it is I look into like, your one eyeball in front of me here. I’m looking as much as I can into your soul. Yeah, maybe weird. But I’m trying to learn about you in as an individual. Because yes, a team is there’s no I in team, I get that. But unfortunately, there are eyes that comprise a team. Yeah. It’s that you can’t get the eye in the way of the team. Right? So the way I look at it is I’ve got to find out what makes this person as a person, not a player, not a student, not a what this person what makes them tick, what do they love? What do they not love? I can kind of feel their confidence level pretty easily. And you can do that if you really start to try to learn people and like, kind of get their vibe. That’s where you can start. You got to get in their heart. I believe you got to get in their heart and you get in their heart and you show interest. And it’s got to be genuine. You don’t ever talk fake to people. You don’t. How was your weekend?

Mike Michalowicz 32:59
Right? Yeah. Work? Yeah, it’s got by the way, thanks for not being interested for

Dawn Brolin 33:05
Oh, go ahead over Mike. Yeah, you just you have to have a genuine interest. And so once you start to your heart starts to connect to them. Yeah. You actually can’t stop it.

Mike Michalowicz 33:17
Have you read the book, Extreme Ownership.

Dawn Brolin 33:19
I don’t think I have.

Mike Michalowicz 33:21
Okay, so it’s a pretty popular book is by two Navy SEALs. I think the Navy SEALs, I know Jocko Williams or something. And there’s that guy. Here’s what’s interesting. They talk it was definitely Navy SEALs. They talk about the training they do out in San Diego Coronado. And what they did is they have these rubber boats, these riverboat races where the Navy SEALs at the rundown the beach kind of rubber boats, they go on the boat and they go out to a buoy and back and whoever wins the race doesn’t have to do next race and teams are racing us all day. It’s exhausting. And what the leaders saw was that one boat was consistently winning. And the captain who doesn’t paddle was the most encouraging we got this kind of thing. And the other one there was like almost mutiny they were fighting come on your your effing up. Right did was a they had a team that was unified and a team that was disjointed. They swapped out the the captain from the boat that was crushing it, put them on the crappy boat and took the leader of the crappy boat, put them on the excellent boat. And so they assumed that it’s the team members. Well, the first race it kind of same on the same way that the fast bow that was fast before when again, even the crappy captain, they already saw this dissension. And by the third or fourth race, the boats were about the same. And then by the fifth and sixth race, it flipped. What they saw was the captain was really determining the unity. And when when there was a problem, the captain would actually amplify and say You screwed it up. And then it was fingerpointing. The other one when there’s a problem saying, Hey guys, now we know something that we shouldn’t do again. Let’s do this. Let’s go at it in just that encouragement, flip the boat, same people just to words of encouragement and they flipped so it just points to what you’re saying. And we really hold on to do commercial you know anything about podcasts commercial break time. If you’re a book this guy Mike Michalowicz wits has a book for you. Yucca. Yucca. Yucca. Yeah. Okay. That was a commercial.

Dawn Brolin 35:15
That was stinking perfect. I was that’s what I was hoping for was a little like ad lib advertisement.

Mike Michalowicz 35:20
Yeah, you don’t want to be structure, because people will drop off your podcast if you like, Hey, let me pitch something right now. So the podcast, the speaker, people just kind of continue through the podcast host continues through. But you got to really quippy. It’s got to be engaging. Otherwise, they’re going to do the 15 seconds forward each time. So

Dawn Brolin 35:37
Yeah, we can’t we can’t blame a thank you. Nice job. See learning. We’re all learning the same time. I love that. So the last thing I want to chat with you real quick about is the fact that I know you know, it was a really difficult story where you lost everything. And then you were boozin’, you were homeless, all this other stuff.

Mike Michalowicz 35:53
Well, homeless is all extreme. But yeah, so without a home, it’s true.

Dawn Brolin 35:57
Okay, you didn’t have a home. But taking it that step you had you were struggling with finding a place to live. So now you have a place to live. You even have an office that you work in? What’s with the beard, like, you not afford a shaver? Like, what’s your story there?

Mike Michalowicz 36:10
So I’ll give you the honest truth. The primary reasons I started growing this just because laziness i It wasn’t this length, there’s just kind of like a shorter bear this. And my wife is like, oh, that kind of looks good. It’s like leave it. Like, I’m gonna ditch Cygnar not leave it. So my wife has encouraged it. Here’s what’s interesting. When I speak to speaking, sometimes people ask me about my beards. So I’ll say, hey, audience, let’s do a quick survey. And I did find this one group. It was like all women, and I said how many against the beard and I heard like Mongo. I said, How many for the beard, the place almost fell down. And like the beard stays. The guys are like, 50 guys really don’t seem to care. 5050 women, it seems like 95% I keep the beard. Now, here’s the other thing. So that’s one thing. So it seems like actually more people like it. Okay, I’m either way on so here’s the other funny thing about a beard. The pre how prejudiced people are so it just went in your favor. So I wherever I go people Oh, you look awfully handy. Eric question for I there’s not a a weekend goes by without someone asking me if I if I’m an electrician, plumber carpentry skills. If I can fix something. I was picking up some furniture for my son for college. Someone house was give me it’s almost like she sees me goes Oh, hey, my husband was trying to fix our door. She’s, you might just take a quick peek at it. And like of course I will. I was at Home Depot yesterday. I’m walking down the electrical aisle. Electric aisle and this guy comes up to us like, Hey, you’re an electrician. I gotta ask you a question. I’m like, electrician. The beat is unbelievable. It’s unbelievable. What a beard does in people’s perception. So it stays.

Dawn Brolin 38:00
I love that. I love that. Oh my goodness. Well,

Mike Michalowicz 38:02
I could store things in here. I could just I’m..

Dawn Brolin 38:05
I’m sure you have last night supper tucked in there so dinner lunch.

Mike Michalowicz 38:09
Yeah, there’s weird things. There’s a bird’s nest going somewhere on this side. Yeah.

Dawn Brolin 38:15
Oh my goodness. I love it. Well, Mike McCalla wits, the man of the hour. Just love you so much. Thank you so much for coming on. And I know we’re going to do some more things together as we move forward so we can make people profit, make profit first write Profit First, and be motivated to do it

Mike Michalowicz 38:29
Dawn Brolin, I love you!

Dawn Brolin 38:33
Thanks, everybody for listening and watching. We look forward to the next episode. Thanks so much. I hope you enjoy this podcast. Feel free to visit John Rowland calm 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 www.DawnBrolin.com 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 www.DawnBrolin.com in order to motivate you to improve your practice. Wishing you all the best!

Have a great day!

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