How do young professionals find their edge?

Their what? Their competitive edge.

#MBSN. Collaboration curve. Network. Non-sales selling.

All at the AICPA EDGE Conference in Austin.

This is the third year for this new conference, which emerged from the AICPA Leadership Academy as an event to “sharpen the next generation of CPAs.”

I had the honor of opening this year’s conference. Tthis post is a recap and resource list for attendees (and anybody else who wants to sharpen their edge).

The best recap comes from the AICPA’s Heather O’Connor, who was live blogging from the session.

The big idea to kick off the conference is simply, “Life=risk. Take some.” (See the video here.) 

To put it another way, Cinnabon CEO and Undercover Boss star Kat Cole said it this way: “Just because things could be worse doesn’t mean you can’t try to make them better. That’s what leaders do.”

We then covered the top seven issues and asked the group to brainstorm three to five ideas they can do to deal with these issues. That is where the collaboration and sticky notes came in.

Three major themes showed up in the questions and ideas:

1. The ability to sell, or “non-sales selling,” per Dan Pink’s latest book, To Sell is Human. Here are some related resources:

2. Social media and technology were also common themes. Here is some help:

3. Top 5 skills CPAs need now. More resources here:

I closed with my advice for these young professionals be like artists. As Seth Godin says, “An artist is someone who uses bravery, insight, creativity, and boldness to challenge the status quo.”

We really do need them to help lead us to the next generation of CPAs.

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