All posts by Robin Thieme

Is it Me, or is the Print Getting Smaller or New Uses for your Selfie Stick

So, the remote control for one of our TV’s appears to be broken.  I press the button and nothing happens.  Remote-Control-Ultra2__69121Problem: broken remote control, Resolution: buy a new remote control Not a life or death problem, no question, but, in this day and age, there is a lot of dependency on remote controls. The only trick is getting that model number off of the TV so you order the right remote.  Here is the challenge, the model number, which is what I need to order the right remote control, is on the back of the TV.  The TV is in a corner and getting to the back requires agility, strength, know how, creativity and a duster.  I have some of those things, but, not all. But, what if I were to take my #selfiestick and instead of using it for the picture of ‘self’…
Obama figuring out how to use selfie stick

Obama figuring out how to use selfie stick

I used it to get behind the TV and get a picture of the model number and all the stuff that is entirely too small to read:CYXdDDNWEAEEcGH.jpg_largeEureka!!! With model number well in hand, our family will now be restored to order with a remote control, that works with our exact model, soon to be arriving at our doorstep. What common gadgets have you used to solve the every day problems you encounter?

As KBS clients take on difficult challenges, I am thinking of Skiing

I know it is the middle of summer, but, for some strange reason I keep thinking of skiing.  And, I want to make sure I add, over the last 20 years I rarely get the opportunity to ski and I think most would consider me far from being an expert. Years ago, while taking a ski lesson at Snowbird in Park City, Utah, the instructor provided me with some guidance that I think not only works on the slopes, but, seems so fitting for the challenging world of owning and growing your own business.  There were many specific instructions needed to improve my skills, but, one that stands out was specifically – “…point into the turn…”  While amazingly simple, the advice help tremendously with my enjoyment of the sport and ability to manage more difficult hills. So, in the midst of the sweltering heat in Washington, DC, below is my top 10 list of the common characteristics between skiing and running a business that you want to grow and prosper:
  1. Every day can feel like you are navigating a mogul field
  2. Having the right clothes or infrastructure can lead to a very good or very bad day
  3. Even though you want to think about the turn you are in the middle of at the time, you need to always be looking ahead and thinking about the next turn
  4. Having the right partners to ski or run your business with can make or break you
  5. Skiing and running a business are expensive
  6. It never looks or works like displayed in the magazine’s
  7. Learning from your mistakes makes you better
  8. Decisions between trade offs should be made and then you move on
  9. Reflecting on your performance is rewarding
  10. Lean forward
15mag-15recommendation.t_CA1-superJumboFor those of you enthusiasts, you may enjoy reading this letter of recommendation published a while back: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/15/magazine/letter-of-recommendation-skiing.html?_r=1 When I am not working with my clients to ‘point into their turns’, I am trying to learn the game of golf.  I imagine at some point, I will start to see similar parallels, but, for now, I just am trying to get that ball into that little hole far far away.

How I Transformed The Way I Work And Live By Moving To The Cloud

From day one of my professional career as a CPA, I have been a passionate follower and adopter of the technology tools that are available to assist our profession in doing our jobs better.
I am likely dating myself, but, when those Compaq “Luggables” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compaq_Portable) came along, I was first in line. Why?  Because I could see that the Luggable, despite it’s small screen, and many other failings, would allow me to stop typing numbers into a 10 key calculator.  Similarly, many years later, when organizations started providing remote computing solutions (PC Anywhere, GoToMyPC), I jumped onboard because I found that these tools would allow me to assist my employer and clients from anywhere, at anytime.
In 2004, when I started Kensington Business Solutions, one of my priorities was to be able to achieve a work/life balance for my employees and myself by creating a virtual organization.
Initially to achieve the virtual organization structure, before there were tools like DropBox, KBS was sewn together with Internet file synchronization tools.  Everyone had files on their computers that would synchronize to the Internet and then synchronize to the rest of the computers in the firm.  It was innovative at the time, but, I then lost sleep at night worrying about duplicating files, security holes, employees walking away with client files and many other flaws of the solution I had created.
So, again, I realized that there had to be a better way.
Today, KBS is 9 years old and operates successfully and securely and completely in the cloud.  Employees and clients can get to their data from anywhere and, although hard drive failures are never without their inconveniences, they hardly derail me or my team because we can easily work from any computer knowing all the information we need isn’t sitting on one machine, but, is safely lodged in ‘server farms’ throughout the country.
One Software as a Service (SaaS) that has transformed my business the most is the password management system that we adopted a number of years ago.
In April 2008, shortly after meeting with a client of mine who was a well-known writer and speaker in the field of Nutrition, I received a call informing me that my client had passed away very unexpectedly. The call was from the client’s husband, who I had never met.  Her husband, steeped in grief from the horrible, unimaginable event, felt he had to call me, because…I was the only one that had many of his spouse’s passwords.  I went over to his home and provided all of the passwords that I had stored, but the image of that day has stuck with me.
When I came home from meeting with the client’s spouse, my husband and I had a conversation about the importance of these passwords. Since that time we have agreed to keep all of our passwords in an encrypted password management system that we both have access to.
KBS is currently using the cloud-based product, Secret Server Online, for our password management system and it is one of the most mission critical, reliable and valuable tools we have in our tool chest.  With great confidence, we store over 1,200 ‘secrets’ in a secure portal that allows only the appropriate users to see the confidential information.
Because of my business’s reliance on “the cloud” for all of our data and passwords, I am confident that whether I am in my office, walking my dog, or somewhere in between, my information is both accessible and more secure in its spot on a server far away, yet as close as one of my devices nearby.