The Secret to Success: Be Yourself

by Stacy Kildal

3 min read

It was sometime in 2010 or 2011; I was standing at the registration table at an Intuit training event. We were on a break (I was presenting), and a gentleman walked up and asked me how to do something in QuickBooks. After I answered, he followed up by asking where I got my degree. Slightly stunned, I told him that I had never finished my associate degree. His response was to question how I had the audacity (his words) to think that I had enough knowledge to teach HIM (he was a CPA with a Master’s!) anything about QuickBooks.

Before I could respond, another gentleman next to him said, “Because she knows more about the software than you do. Which was just proven by your first question.”

It was the last time I wore a suit. Ever.

This is me, back then.

You see, when I first started doing training events, I was worried about that because I was “only” a bookkeeper. Because I didn’t have an associate degree, let alone the CPA credential behind my name, I needed to present myself a certain way, in order for other accounting professionals to take me seriously.

When I finally realized that my knowledge and skills as a QuickBooks user and bookkeeper are what people care about (thanks to the gentleman who was so taken aback at my lack of degree), I was able to be myself. I never started out – and still don’t – trying to be daring. I just try to be true to myself.

After quitting my full-time job to start Kildal Services, I applied and auditioned for the Intuit Trainer and Writer Network, and it was one of the few times I felt like I might be in a little over my head . In fact, the whole process was daunting. I had to audition remotely with content I’d only received a few days prior, so I wasn’t familiar with the content, and this was back when webinars weren’t even a thing! But, I knew the software and knew I could show others how to use it, and illustrate how with real life examples.

Looking back, I guess I can think of a few other moments – both directly and indirectly– related to my business that others may see as bold. At the time, it just seemed like something I wanted to do (dying my hair) or felt compelled to do (firing a client on the spot for being rude to my business partner).

This is me, now.

Look how much happier I am in this second picture! All because I decided to let my freak flag fly and just be myself.

Perhaps, the reason many see me as “fearless” or “bold” is that I have confidence. Where did it come from?

  1. Learning to play to my strengths.
  2. Knowing when to say no.
  3. Having taken the time to figure out what I want my practice to look like, and with whom I want to work.

I may not succeed at everything I do, but I can say this: When I decide to do something, it never occurs to me that I might not succeed. I know that I could fall flat on my face, but heck – there’s a possibility of that happening every single day when I wake up, no matter what choice I’m making, so why worry about it?

If you’re trying to be more outgoing in your business, I’ll give you the same advice I do when I coach other accounting professionals:

  1. Know yourself. Who are you, what do you care about and what are your priorities? This knowledge helps you not only in business, but also in everyday life.
  2. Do what you love. I call this finding your jam, and it can be anything from working only with Alpaca farms or vineyards, or it can mean you only do QuickBooks training.
  3. Have confidence. Yes, this is easier said than done, but I mean it. Start showing it by setting clear boundaries with your clients (#nobookkeepingemergencies). Don’t think you’ve got confidence? This is one time that I say: Fake it till you make it!
  4. Do what you need/want/love/ to do.

Truly, my best advice always is to be yourself. As it turns out, being myself helped my business take off. By being myself, I found not only my “brand,” but also my voice. Who knew?

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