Nothing is the Place of Infinite Possibility

Somewhere along the way when I got sober I heard the words, “nothing is the place of infinite possibility.”

I had been stripped of everything. My family couldn’t trust me. I had lied to every single person I knew. My bankruptcy was complete on every level, especially spiritual.

I was at ground zero.

These words offered hope.

Infinite possibility. Anything is possible.

At any given time, you can decide what your “bottom” is. You can stop right now and decide that today is ground zero. Today you will decide to take control over your destiny. This is the day you will place yourself unreservedly at the place of nothing. From nothing, you can go anywhere. You set the course.

Last week at QuickBooks Connect, Alex Banayan asked us to consider something.

If your life was an empty book and you had to write it from the blank page into anything you wanted it to look like, what would you write?

Life and our businesses are like that. We don’t often see it that way, but it is.

When Oprah was at QuickBooks Connect she talked about living with intention.

Same idea.

Either you decide what you want to write in that book, or that book will be written for you.

And you will just be a spectator.

The choice is yours. Anything is possible, but you must believe in that. You must believe in yourself.

I’m now 47 years old, 19 years sober, and this was my 5th year at QuickBooks Connect!

19 years ago if someone had told me where I would be today, I would not have believed them. I would have felt certain they were just trying to encourage me. Today my life is beyond my wildest dreams. But my dreams have changed!

If I can do it, so can you!

Last week I got to see a few milestones.

I made it to the TSheets walk of fame:

I danced with a Shark:

But most importantly I connected.

And this is what “connecting” looks like:

Including the photo bomb from Andrew Wall!

For your CRM:

Tiffany Stewart


Mariette Martinez


Andrew Wall


When you connect with people you feel warmth, & love. It feels really good.

Like this:

Of course you can also learn a ton, and get really inspired here. But for me the connections are what brings me back every year, more than anything else.

I love catching people as they are checking in! Look at the smiles on my friends’ faces. This isn’t a conference. It’s a family reunion with the extended family you can’t wait to see all year.

For your CRM:

You have Tiffany and Andrew above.

Enter Dawne Leaney Davidson:


For your CRM (always left to right):

Jennifer Bauldic


Bill Kennedy


Jennifer Hetherington


When I got sober 19 years ago, I had never been so alone in my life.

Luckily there were a few people left in the world who still cared about me. Then I set a course for my life. I didn’t know exactly where I was going then. I didn’t need to. Nothing was the place of infinite possibility, and anything was better than where I just came from.

In my recovery I found people who extended their hands. I learned the meaning of something very important. That what may have appeared to be a flimsy reed turned out to be the loving and all powerful hand of G-d.

In my QuickBooks Connect Tribe I’ve found the same thing.

It has been a long road and this year more than ever I found myself surrounded by the most amazing people.

Erica is not just a coworker. She is one of (if not the) best friends I have on this planet.

When I started my 97 & Up Accounting Business Academy program it was open to any accountant or bookkeeper.

It technically still is, but it hasn’t worked out that way. It’s worked out to be my amazing tribe of like minded people. This doesn’t mean they pay to be my friends. It means we all contribute (including me) to create something that is bigger, better, and much stronger than any of us is on our own. In order to keep it as amazing as it has become, I may develop a selective process. I would hate to see it get diluted. Every single person in the group has their own unique characteristics that make them incredible individuals.

Then we have a few important qualities in common. A generous nature based on extreme kindness along with a good sense of humor. When new members join, the group embraces them and welcomes them into our family.

Your situation may not be as dire as mine was 19 years ago.

It doesn’t need to be. If yours is a situation that is anything less than your wildest dreams, then set a new course today.

Alex Banayan talked about his conversation with Quincy Jones.

The message was that we need to stop fearing and avoiding our mistakes. We need to embrace them. I had a recent experience that underscores this. Last year I started teaching community ed classes at Santa Monica College. The students are able to give anonymous feedback. I am the only one who looks at it. Most of it was good, but a few people have offered some harsh criticism. At first I found myself getting defensive. I wanted to write back and tell them, “wait, you don’t understand.” But they do understand. They understand their own experience very well.

Since receiving the negative criticism I split my Excel class up into three levels. I reduced the amount of content in each. At first I thought this was diluting the value, but it was actually increasing it. I had too many people at too varied skill levels in the same class. I used the negative feedback to solve an important problem. Now I have three classes instead of one. Everybody wins.

Brad Smith commented that he makes mistakes every day. We all do. The secret is to embrace those mistakes, and turn those liabilities into assets. We make ourselves better for them.

My favorite thing that Brad said this year was, “…one to many we win over minds, but one to one we win hearts.”

Positive feedback is great, but the negative feedback (even if not well intentioned) is the most useful. It helps us grow. And the best way to annoy the crap out of a troll is to use their feedback to improve and thank them for it!

Another great dividend I took away from QuickBooks Connect this year is from paying attention!

Did you catch the stories of the businesses that intuit featured on the main stage? They were really inspiring.

The one all the way on the right was Leah Tumerman. She was narrating.

Later that day as Erica and I were walking around I recognized her walking among us. She appears to be very shy, but when an Intuit employee caught me recognizing her, he confirmed it was her and encouraged me to catch up with her. He told me she would love it.

So I caught up with her, got her card, and now look forward to having her on The Authentic Accountant Podcast.

Maybe in my next life I will be a paparazzi 🙂

QuickBooks Connect is about connecting most of all.

I loved seeing my old connections.

Chris Wise

Coral Tree – Qbox

Melanie Schroeder


Mike Milan



Roger Knecht

Universal Accounting

Trent McLaren

Practice Ignition


And I also enjoyed making new ones!

This is Karen Reyburn. She’s a marketing expert with a lot of experience working with CPAs.

See below for how we were introduced at QuickBooks Connect by someone who wasn’t even there.

Karen was invited as an “influencer” in the social media space. Here we were practicing our influencer poses!

Now Karen and I were introduced by someone who wasn’t even at QuickBooks Connect!

You may have heard of Chris Brogan?

He saw something Karen posted on instagram about QuickBooks Connect. Chris commented on her post and tagged me saying I was probably there too!

Karen Reyburn




Moments later I saw her walking with Peter Cullen

Sorry Peter! I had to get you in here!

Peter is one of my favorite people! He happened to be right behind me when his larger than life image showed up on the main screen.

Peter Cullen


How is that twitter handle for an “Anything is possible” theme?

I have an amazing tribe.

This is why if you had shown me a picture of my life 19 years ago and told me this was where I was headed I would not have believed you.

Now a word (or more) about my session at QuickBooks Connect

Accounting for eCommerce – Data Flow and Management with QBO and Apps

My session was essentially a reaction to my experience with some eCommerce tools out there that left me wanting. When there are errors it costs a lot of time, and time is our most valuable resource. Even with great customer service, it can take days to get to a solution. I don’t have days. Reliable data flow and management is critical so I can run very current reports and show my clients what is selling and what isn’t. Then I need to show what is profitable and what isn’t.

In short, I need information processed and error free, so I can act fast and serve my clients.

My conclusion for now has been that if you master your spreadsheet skills then you have total control over the data.
At the end of my session a gentleman from one of the eCommerce apps I have not yet tried came up to me and told me that my whole presentation was horrible. This was literally amidst a swarm of people telling me how great it was. In an effort to diffuse the situation before it escalated I simply told him that I was sorry he felt that way.

About connecting.

Shortly after my session I caught up with this guy in the exhibit hall. He wanted to show me his app of course, but I had to address the way he came at me, or I wasn’t going to hear anything he said.

Courtesy, kindness, justice, and love are the keynotes by which we may come into harmony with practically anyone. I learned a technique in a book I read a while back for how to address someone like him in a situation just like this. It’s going to sound hokey, but it works, and it worked here.

Instead of getting defensive about my presentation, I told him something very important.

Two words:

Be nice!

After that we had a very pleasant conversation, and he was apologetic. He explained his concerns about what I showed people, and they were valid ones that I was already aware of. As I pointed out to him, I only had an hour to cover a lot of ground.

When I gave the second session later that afternoon, I did address the concern. And since the conference I have also had a chance to sit down and remedy the issue.

Meanwhile I’ll be checking out some new apps, hoping they will restore my confidence so that I don’t have to feel that spreadsheets are my only reliable option.

The truth is, though, I still stand by my contention that IF you master your Excel or Google Sheet skills, you have total control, and my experience proves that you can get the data where you want to go with greater speed and accuracy, especially when you have a process that produces error free results.

Here are some photos Erica took while I was presenting.

If you want the files and videos from my session, sign up here:

This next one is my Smartsheet master sku list.

Something about seeing my “stuff” on these larger than life screens is somehow still very exciting to me!

This gives you some perspective on the size of the room.

Most seats were full:

The account setup in QuickBooks Online is critical to the workflow:

I have the best T-accounts on the planet!

Note this was done in Google Sheets.

Looks like a pretty engaged audience.

I am sure that Brad Celamanis (front row all the way right) was tweeting something about my session there!

And there’s me!

My Amazon template cuts a bi-weekly settlement report from Gross sales to net deposit in seconds.

This is available in my online store.

Sometimes I think that Pivot Tables can solve all of our problems 🙂

And the conference wrapped up with a real treat for me.

I got to meet Alex Banayan. A bunch of us did. He was the real deal. As authentic as they come. I told him I was taking MY third door, and asked if he would be a guest on my Authentic Accountant podcast. He told me he’d be honored.

I’ve already quoted Alex above. I think he had a really powerful message around infinite possibilities. He told a beautiful story of a young child who when asked to draw a picture of what he wanted to be when he grew up, waited with a blank stare on his face. Then after a time his eyes lit up and he got to work.

When the students turned in the drawings, his was of a pizza delivery man. This concerned the teacher, so he talked to his mother. His mother explained that this actually makes a lot of sense. The only role model in this child’s life who wasn’t dead or in jail was his uncle who was a pizza delivery guy.

Alex explains that children will reach for the lowest branch that is illuminated for them.

Our job is to illuminate branches.

And if I can throw my own $0.02 in here. I want to encourage all of us, myself included to reach well beyond the branches we can see.

As I write my own book, I plan to illuminate branches well above what I can see. I will paint the picture and write chapter and verse, and while the facts may change or evolve, I know there will be one constant, because it has saved my life many times over.

I will always have my hand out to help others.

My Accounting Business Academy 97 & Up program is built on that premise. In fact my whole life is built on that premise.

Anything is possible, especially when you make it about improving the lives of everyone around you.

It only takes the smallest amount of light to extinguish darkness. Be that light. However small.

And remember…

Nothing is the place of infinite possibility


Social media has caused us to define the term very loosely. Too loosely, in my not so humble opinion. Until recently I even ran with the notion that since I knew somebody from high school, it meant something. I just learned why that isn’t true.

An interaction I had with one of these so called friends from high school made me realize something unfortunate. Just because I knew someone 25 years ago, doesn’t mean I know them at all now, and they certainly don’t know me. In fact many of these people, I barely knew, even back then, and again, I’m certain they knew very little of me. It’s superficial, and it’s bullshit, and it’s a waste of time.

My experience has me redefining what it takes for someone to qualify, as a friend of mine. And yes, it should mean something, when I call someone a friend. It should mean something when YOU call someone a friend. Friendship should be based on trust and mutual respect. That mutual respect part is the one that seems hardest to come by. All too often the respect is one sided.

I’m not perfect. Sometimes, and always with good intentions, I do stupid things. Something I thought was going to be funny turns out to be really stupid. Like, “what the hell were you thinking” brand of stupidity. I’m guilty.

One difference between someone who qualifies as a friend, and one who doesn’t, is based on how well they know me. Anyone who knows me well enough to qualify as a friend would know that I would NEVER, EVER, knowingly, or intentionally do something to harm them. So if I do something stupid, as I will from time to time, because we all do, all you have to do is point it out to me. I’ll own it, and I’ll make it right. Any “friend” of mine would know that, and they would treat me accordingly.

If a person comes at me in a definitively hostile manner, and I offer to make it right, and they’re still hostile, that’s not a friend. That’s someone looking for a fight, and that means they’ve failed me as a friend. It means they don’t know me well enough to qualify as a friend, and I sure as hell don’t even want to know them.

So if my friend count on Facebook and elsewhere drops, it’s because I’m tightening up my definition of what it means for me to call someone a friend. It means that when I do call someone a friend, it actually means something beyond superficial.

Almost Normal

It almost makes me feel normal, to be sitting at The Morrison Pub with people screaming at almost seemingly regular intervals, over a baseball game. The smell of hot wings fills the room, and the things that remind me that I am anything but normal, are the fact that I am not paying any attention (the TV is behind me) , and when they do scream, I find it a little disturbing, yet somehow relieving, all at the same time. The sum total of this, is that I am anything but normal.

An e-mail comes in. Someone just paid $40 for my 5 Apps in 5 Days, and while I’m sitting here engulfed in my 10″ Samsung tablet, in my Zagg keyboard / case, I reach over and pick up my Google Pixel. With the order confirmation on my tablet screen, I open up the 17Hats app, and quickly add the client in, and assign the workflow that will begin automatically delivering an e-mail a day for 5 days. Each day a different app. Evernote, then Smartsheet, then Nimble, then 17Hats, then ActiveCollab.

Meanwhile the conversations in my Between Wall and Main (BWAM) Slack team are active with notifications showing up on my screens, and I am engaged  in a light-hearted dialogue with someone on Facebook about bread pudding, Halloween candy rations, and a mixed greens salad I just had with goat cheese, dried cranberries, candied walnuts, and balsamic vinaigrette.

For once I don’t feel completely alone! I have people all around me, physically where I am. They’re all strangers to me, but they provide the noise I need. Then all around my in my digital world, I have a seemingly infinite number of people to talk to. This is what I love. This is what I crave.

There it is. A shriek of screams so loud, I had to turn around, and look at the TV, pretending to care.

But I don’t care.

The battery on my tablet is running low. I’ve got it covered. Hang on while I connect my Mophie.

Perfect. It’s charging now. Not the best design though. The tablet doesn’t sit well in the open position, while the charger is plugged in. I’ll make due.

Looks like Chicago is in the lead 3-1. I’m starting to care. Not about the score, but about what it is that gets these people so excited. Is this normal? To be shrieking this loud about people you’ll likely never meet? I love the scene in the movie, A Bronx Tale, where Chazz Palminteri asks the kid, if his father can’t put food on the table, would Mickey Mantle pay for dinner?

I’m writing this while I sit in a noisy pub. Am I a firm of the future? The future is here. It’s now. I am sitting here writing in WordPress and I took a selfie with my camera, which I’ll use in this post, when I publish it later. By then maybe we’ll know who won the game, and I still won’t care. I will walk away with the experience and the satisfaction of knowing that I can do what I do from anywhere. Oh except for one thing…

At 6 pm I get an e-mail from someone, apparently planning for our 6 pm session. I never take sessions at this hour. When I spoke to him  I agreed to make an exception, because he has a day job, and needed to do this in the evening. Only problem is, I didn’t put it on my calendar, because his payment hadn’t come through by the time I went to sleep last night.

It’s way too noisy in here for me to conduct a QuickBooks training session. A lot of other places I could make it work. Zoom has a great mobile app, and when you render a screen share full screen, it works great.

I can do these things, because I’ve played around with all of these systems, and I know how they work, which enables me to figure out where they will work, and where they won’t.

Is it me or does the screaming at the TV seem a little irrational? Maybe it isn’t me, who’s not normal? Maybe it’s everyone else in the pub?

6:30  pm – 4-1 Cubs.

Did I mention that the owner of The Morrison is a close friend, and very much a mentor of mine? It was time for us to talk. He picked up my tab (he always does) and summoned me to the back office for a chat. Marc didn’t have long to stay, as he needed to tend to his mother who is ill. I told him to go handle his affairs, but he insisted that we talk. Marc knows I’m going through a rough patch right now. That was why he told me to come by in the first place. For a burger and a hug! You know how I am always talking about how important it is to be of service, and go help others? Guess where I learned that from? It’s hard for me to find people to talk to when I need help, because so many people are used to leaning on me, when they need help. Marc is one of the people that I go to. I’m a rock for so many others, because Marc, and a handful (not much more) of other people are there for me, when I need it. Marc made sure he made the time for me, even though he has a 90+ year old mother who needs him. We embraced, and we both even cried a bit. We’re going through a lot of the same things. I left him to tend to his mother with the usual feeling I get when I walk away from Marc. It’s all going to be ok. In fact, Marc is the one who always tells me that “the game is rigged.” We can’t fail.

I get a lot of calls from other accounting and bookkeeping professionals, who want help building, growing, and scaling their businesses. I always recommend that we conduct a series of sessions (at least 5 to start). This gives us time for discovery, planning, and implementation. It’s important that we have the consistency and momentum created by regular (weekly) sessions. Then I can recommend, set up, and train on all of the apps. With this, I ensure you get everything you need to grow, scale, and substantially automate your business. I feel confident that I can help anyone succeed, as I have, by using the tools that I’ve learned to use. Of course I can only lead people to the water. I can’t make them drink!

Maybe I am missing the most important part of the success equation?

Maybe it has nothing to do with the apps, and the workflow automation? Maybe it has a lot more to do with the support system. Last night, when I was really struggling with my emotions, I made four phone calls, until I found someone who was available to talk. Remember, I said above, that there are only a handful of people I can do this with. I was almost out of options, but rest assured by this morning I had all of them leaving me messages back assuring me they were there.

Five is all I need. I can always get one of them, and within any 24 hour period I will likely speak to all five – especially when I am struggling. None of them give me financial advice. None of them give me any kind of advice really. Most of the time, we just need another human ear, and voice to remind us that everything is going to be ok. We need to be reminded that the game is rigged. For people like you and me, there is no failing, because we’re fighters. We can fall time and again, but for every five times that we fall, we get up a sixth time.

Marc had closed my tablet, so that I would focus on our conversation. When I got back home, the post was here in a draft, right in WordPress, only now I am accessing it in my browser on my big Samsung 4K monitor. Everything I wrote in his restaurant was here waiting for me to finish. The photo I took was easy to access, right in my browser as well. My new Google Pixel automatically backs up every photo to Google Photos (formerly Picasa). It took 30 seconds to add it here as the featured image on this post.

Facebook reminded me of what I had no idea about, while I was at the restaurant:


I also googled it, because I didn’t remember whom they were playing. Apparently it’s the World Series, game 7? How many games are there? I know there are 9 innings in a game. Are there 9 games in a World Series? I suppose I could Google that, or I could ask my Google Assistant. She seems to know everything. She knew that in current traffic conditions (heavy traffic) it was going to take me 15 minutes to get from my home to The Morrison Pub.

Have you figured out the key to success yet? It’s not about the apps. It isn’t about all of this technology. The real key to success is having an incredible support system. All you need is up to five people (but it really only takes one at a time) who will be there for you unconditionally. Unconditionally means they don’t give a shit, what you did, or said. They are there for you no matter what! In fact they are there for you in spite of what you have done or said. Imagine that?

8:30 pm. Apparently it’s tied 6-6 now. How the hell did that happen? I thought the Cubs would slaughter the Indians for sure.

Somehow this one seems like it can fit into all three columns!


Don’t Give Up

Don’t give up!
Here’s your cup of spiritual coffee for today!
There have been so many times I’ve wanted to give up. Go find a job. It’s too much. I’m tired of the BS. I’m tired of dealing with clients who have unrealistic expectations. I’m tired of dealing with the drama, the loss of sleep from worrying about whether or not I can cover payroll!
I’m tired, I’m tired, I’m tired!
So let’s look at the alternative.
A boss with unrealistic expectations? Loss of sleep over the things your boss said, when (s)he berated you for making a simple mistake, when all you really need, is some constructive direction (notice I didn’t say criticism)? The fear that goes with having only a single stream of income, and what happens if you dare express an opinion that differs from your boss?

No thank you!

Don’t give up. I have almost quit so many times over the years. What has helped me persevere was one simple thing, that I learned in my recovery.
“Don’t quit before the miracle happens”

Here’s my version:

“Don’t quit before the miracles happen.”
Do you see the difference? I’ve experienced LOTS of miracles in my life – especially since I got sober. Getting sober being a big one!
Last week I experienced a miracle.
I learned something.
I applied it. It worked.
In one day I brought in over $2,000 in new business. That is. One day after years of preparation and development, right?
The point is that now the floodgates are open, and I have new and exciting ideas. Ideas I could never put to use if I were employed.
Don’t give up!

Focus on You

When you find yourself annoyed by someone else, focus on you. There is usually some part of them that reminds us of something that we don’t like about ourselves. Either that, or something about them makes us feel threatened by them. Where does this affect you? Your pride? Your ambitions? Your financial security? We can look at someone else who receives a lot of praise form others and think, “why?” Don’t others see what I see? The person is not that special. They’re not remarkable? Why are they getting this attention? If it’s the attention part that bothers us, then it may be the area of pride in which it affects you.

Focus on you.

My favorite analogy is the swimmer in a lap race. When you slow down, or worse, stop to see what the person in the lane next to you is doing, you’ve just lost. You’ve lost focus.

Forget about what the person in the lane next to you is doing. Just focus on you. Focus on the relationships that make you feel good. Move on quickly from the ones that don’t, or no longer do.

The more you focus on you, and practice this daily, the less you’ll find you need to be concerned with what anyone else is doing. Then you experience the true freedom that comes with not being imprisoned by your feelings about others. Then you get to choose exactly whom you’re surrounded by and when. Then you’re free.