The 3 Best Takeaway Quotes from Scaling New Heights 2018

The 3 Best Takeaway Quotes from Scaling New Heights 2018

Written by Kelly Gonsalves

Last week, I attended Scaling New Heights 2018.

Among all the booths, presentations, and central message of “taming the machines,” I found myself oddly at home with the other attendees, most of whom I hadn’t yet met.

There’s an odd connection between accounting and bookkeeping professionals. I can talk to my family members, friends, and clients all day long, but none of them truly understand what I do and experience every day.

As I attended talks, classes, and scoured the conference floor, I started to jot down interesting and useful quotes I’d heard. Some were pieces of advice, some were funny.

But, all of them had a keen resonance to me, bookkeeping, and the accounting community. I found that really interesting, and wanted to share them with you.

So, here are my top three takeaway quotes from Scaling New Heights 2018: Taming the Machines.

1.“Sometimes we connect things and think they’re going to work automagically.” — Randy Johnston

I love this quote, and puns. Randy Johnston is a major player in our community, and speaks on issues in tech, accounting, and bookkeeping at conferences like SNH.

The quote comes back to the theme of the conference: taming the machines.

In our ever-digitizing world, the expectation is that anything and everything can be plugged in and work straight out of the box. Computers, phones, and even accounting software is expected to do exactly what it was meant to as soon as you open it.

This is at the heart of many people’s technological fears. Digital platforms and robots are going to become so self-sufficient that there won’t be any need for human intervention. They’re going to take all our jobs, and humans will be rendered obsolete by our robo-overlords.

Accountants and bookkeepers are especially susceptible to these worries, because our automation technologies have come so far, and continue to progress with every update and version.

In terms of our profession, users and clients will ultimately need an advisor there to make sure I’s are dotted and T’s crossed.

They still need to be there to map numbers and transactions to certain accounts, such as liability or income. Accounting and bookkeeping software can market itself as “automated” as much as it wants, but the truth is that the magic only starts when advisors and accountants wave their wands.

But, they don’t always have to.

2. “Opportunity does not equal obligation.” — Patricia Hendrix

This one really resonates with me.

Patricia works for the Woodard Group, the main sponsor of Scaling New Heights.

She was on the main stage, and I remember feeling so struck by how such a simple concept could be so central and important to our professions.

A lot of bookkeepers and accountants will get lead, and even if they’re a horrible fit, we feel like we have to help them, or we have to put them in touch with the right person, running in circles just to help someone out. Usually a stranger!

Patricia’s quote here helped me realize that we do this, and that we don’t have to. Just because someone has given us an opportunity does not mean that it’s a good fit for us.

This can be especially tough when it comes to client referrals. You don’t want to offend anyone, and want to let them know you appreciate them reaching out, and don’t want to mess with your relationship, while also letting them know that you appreciate them reaching out.

But, repeat after me: we are allowed to say no.

Once again, you are allowed to say no. And it doesn’t matter what the reason is. You might just not agree with this person’s value system, or the timing is off. Any reason is enough.

Just because someone sends you a box of chocolates doesn’t mean you have to eat every single one.

Maybe I don’t like almonds.

Pull a Nancy Reagan, and just say no.

3. “You’re going to make mistakes with technology…let others do what you’re not good at.” — Steve Forbes

Yes, that Steve Forbes. For those of you who didn’t go to Scaling New Heights, this guy owns the Forbes media company that you read all the time and is worth a lot of money.

His quote relates to Randy’s, but there’s a nuance here that’s very important to accountants and bookkeepers: mistakes.

A lot of us experience major anxiety when it comes to messing up. Granted, it’s easy to see why when you’re dealing with someone’s finances. Plus, numbers are like yes or no questions: there’s no gray area.

Everything has to be perfect. So, when it’s not, we freak out and wonder what we’re going to do. How are we going to tell the client that something went wrong? That we’ve missed a deadline?

The fact is that we’re human. We’re not calculators, we’re not computers, we’re people who make mistakes. Especially with new automation technology coming out all the time, a lot of people think that these mistakes can never happen.

But they do. And, just because technology is supposed to make everything easier, doesn’t mean we know how to use it. This gets back to Patricia’s quote (we’re coming full circle here).

Don’t be afraid to refer and recommend a client or potential client to someone else. You’re better off doing that than pushing and stressing yourself out, and wasting someone’s time.

We’re human, and we’re allowed to do these things.

Our professions aren’t going away: they’re changing. We’re moving from hourly to value-based pricing. Data-entry to consulting. From doers to advisors. Our field is dynamic, and constantly changing. If we’re not willing to progress with it, we risk being left behind.

We’ve got to take on the challenges, and scale the mountains we know we can.



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Kelly Gonsalves