4 Small Steps That Can Kick Your Career Into High Gear

Get inspired by these insights from the 2017 EDGE Experience.

Courtney Vien

September 19, 2017

The 2017 EDGE Experience, held in August in New Orleans, brought together more than 200 young CPAs and inspirational thought leaders from a variety of fields. Participants learned about new developments in the accounting profession—but also gleaned insights into how to become strong, confident leaders, and more creative thinkers.  Here are just a few of EDGE Experience speakers’ top tips for success in work and life. 

Prime your brain for achievement. 

Our brains often can’t tell the difference between the real and the imaginary, said speaker and author Holly Green, CEO and managing director of The Human Factor. (That’s why picturing food in your mind can make you salivate, even when there’s no actual food nearby.) You can use this feature of the brain to your advantage by visualizing your goals. To make it more likely that you’ll achieve a goal, spend some time imagining it as though you’ve already attained it. Add as many details as you can: When did you finally succeed? How did you get there? Who was with you? What does it feel like? The brain, said Green, “likes to prove itself right,” and so visualization will prime it for success. 

Increase your happiness in two minutes a day.

One quick way to elevate your mood is to practice gratitude, said Sarah Elliott, CPA, and Brian Kush, CPA, executive coaches and co-founders of Intend2Lead. Write down two or three things you are grateful for, and notice the effect on your well-being. To put that gratitude into action, write thank-you notes to the people you’re grateful to. (That can bolster your professional and personal relationships as well.) 

Take responsibility for your role in interpersonal problems. 

“You own a part of any problem you have with someone else,” said John Engels, founder and president of Leadership Coaching Inc., and executive coach to Barry Melancon, president and CEO of the AICPA. Instead of assigning blame, he said, ask yourself what you can do about the problem. 

Perhaps, he suggested, you are contributing to the problem by not taking an assertive enough stand, by protecting others from important consequences, or by pretending the problem will magically disappear on its own. 

“It’s hard to take the focus off of others and put it on yourself,’” Engels observed. “But it’s part of being emotionally mature.” 

Try the same approach if you are a manager and a staff member comes to you about a conflict, he recommended: Ask how they are responding. “It's a game-changer to help others see that they might be helping to create the problem they hate,” he noted. “That kind of awareness helps others grow.”

Battle the bots through lifelong learning.

Automation and other technological changes are set to reshape the accounting profession in the coming decade, said Tom Hood, CPA/CITP, CGMA, president and CEO of the Maryland Association of CPAs and the Business Learning Institute. The best way to stay competitive is to constantly keep learning, he said. 

Hood recommends spending at least an hour a week reading, though “five hours is ideal.” Try to read books, not just articles, he suggests, and read material from different areas (business, psychology, science, politics, etc.) so you can make connections between different domains. “That’s something machines can’t yet do,” he noted.  

For more inspirational ideas like these, be sure not to miss the 2018 EDGE Experience, 2018 EDGE Experience which will be held online and live during the AICPA ENGAGE Conference June 10–14 in Las Vegas. 


To comment on this article, email senior editor Courtney Vien