December 2016

This year has just flown by! Reflecting back on the past year and back to my first experience with AFWA Silicon Valley I am grateful for the opportunities and network I have built. From helping National with their LEAP (Lead Emerge Advance with Passion) council for young leaders voicing their needs and wants with AFWA, to hearing and connecting with great local speakers, getting great CPE value from the National Conference, and being awarded a scholarship when I was a college student, it has been a rewarding experience.

As a former scholarship recipient I highly encourage supporting our scholarship fund, as it was a big help in my academic and professional career. Donate today! Click here to donate (do it before year end to include it as a tax-deduction on your 2016 tax returns!).

In January AFWA Silicon Valley will kick things off with a special presentation, "Financial Strategies for Women" from Ann Escobar, Financial Advisor with Waddell and Reed. What a perfect way to start the year. Hope to see you there!

Edronda Guiriba, President
AFWA Silicon Valley Chapter

Happy New Year!
December 2016

This year has just flown by! Reflecting back on the past year and back to my first experience with AFWA Silicon Valley I am grateful for the opportunities and network I have built. From helping National with their LEAP (Lead Emerge Advance with Passion) council for young leaders voicing their needs and wants with AFWA, to hearing and connecting with great local speakers, getting great CPE value from the National Conference, and being awarded a scholarship when I was a college student, it has been a rewarding experience.

As a former scholarship recipient I highly encourage supporting our scholarship fund, as it was a big help in my academic and professional career. Donate today! Click here to donate (do it before year end to include it as a tax-deduction on your 2016 tax returns!).

In January AFWA Silicon Valley will kick things off with a special presentation, "Financial Strategies for Women" from Ann Escobar, Financial Advisor with Waddell and Reed. What a perfect way to start the year. Hope to see you there!

Edronda Guiriba, President
AFWA Silicon Valley Chapter

I highly encourage members to attend at least one National Conference.
November 2016

I was fortunate to attend this year's AFWA National Conference in Denver Colorado from October 26th to October 28th. As always, it was a great networking and learning experience and it was tons of fun!

As a member of the AFWA LEAP Council, which was created by National Headquarters to hear and utilize the voice and opinions of younger professionals within AFWA, I was proud of the Young Professional Program we were able to help put together. This was a half day track that consisted of great speakers and topics such as "Delivering on Your Promise: A Guide to Building a Personal Brand for Success" and "Achievement NOW!" designed for targeting and achieving specific goals.

I was also proud of our past chapter president and past National president, Monika Miles, who received the Women of Influence recognition at the closing ceremony. AFWA's Women of Influence represent the passionate and respected industry leaders who the organization empowers members to be. Congrats Monika!

I highly encourage members to attend at least one National Conference. It's a great way to connect with members from other chapters, get a great deal on CPE pricing, to travel (next year's conference will be in Washington DC!) and to take full advantage of your membership.

With the holidays approaching, our chapter is holding our annual holiday party. Watch for registration details - I hope to see you there!

Edronda Guiriba, President
AFWA Silicon Valley Chapter

Before the year ends, don't forget to pile on those tax deductions... Donate to our scholarship fund!
October 2016

When holiday décor is out on display and Halloween and Thanksgiving items are already on clearance, it definitely feels like the year has gone by! Before the year ends, don't forget to pile on those tax deductions...Donate to our scholarship fund! We are trying to raise at least $5,000 to give out two $2,500 scholarships next year. Help us meet our goals! Click here to help us out:

Another way to support our chapter and to take advantage of your AFWA membership is to attend our membership events. Our meetings are almost always the fourth Tuesday of the month - it's easy to set up a reminder on your calendar.

For our October membership meeting on 10/25/16, Jake Sollis of 1 + 1 Technology will be presenting "Office 365 Excel: Tips and Tricks and Shortcuts." We will also be giving away a one-year subscription of Microsoft Office home edition as a door prize.

Don't forget to register early, before Sunday, to get the online registration rate. Otherwise the rates go up at the door. I'll be at the National Conference, so I won't be at this month's meeting, but I hope you take advantage of this great topic!

Edronda Guiriba, President
AFWA Silicon Valley Chapter

One of our chapter's main goals is to support students in accounting and finance...
September 2016

It definitely feels like fall when school is back in session and traffic is a bit heavier!

Speaking of school back in session, one of our chapter's main goals is to support students in accounting and finance. To do so AFWA Silicon Valley awards scholarships every year. The funds raised from our annual gala event goes towards our scholarship fund.

During our strategic planning meeting in July this year the board decided to make some important changes affecting our scholarships. Some changes include:

  1. Issuing 2 scholarships at $2,500 instead of 3-4 scholarships at varying amounts. We feel if students know the value of the scholarship, we may receive more applications.
  2. We will hold the Gala fundraising event on the same night as our Scholarship Awards night. Feedback from students provided great insight that May was a tough time with finals to a ttend the gala, so the event will be held in April.

Also, watch for upcoming scholarship recipient spotlights where we will check in with past scholarship recipients!

To support our chapter and to take advantage of your AFWA membership, be sure to attend our membership events. Our meetings are almost always the 4th Tuesday of the month - it's easy to set up a reminder on your calendar.

For our September meeting Walter Edmondson of TeamLogicIT will be presenting "Internet Security and Security Services." Don't forget to register early and watch for the event invitation for more information. I will see you there!

Edronda Guiriba, President
AFWA Silicon Valley Chapter

AFWA has given me so many opportunities and has helped me in so many ways...
June 2016

I am graciously humbled and honored to assume the duties as President for the Accounting and Financial Women's Alliance (AFWA) Silicon Valley.

My experiences with AFWA so far have only pushed my professional and personal development further than I could have imagined and I expect only more for this year and many years to come.

My wonderful boss and mentor, Lynda Boman, was the first one to encourage my involvement with AFWA. In early spring of 2010 during my last year in college she suggested I apply for an AFWA Silicon Valley Scholarship. She was the board president at the time. Our chapter had been awarding scholarships since 1976 and awards them annually. Lucky for me, I was chosen as a scholarship recipient and not only that, but for the Julie Velasquez Memorial Scholarship. This scholarship honors our late past board president. Julie served as board president from 1996-1997, got her CPA license in 1996 and is the very FIRST Hispanic female CPA from Fresno County.

In spring of 2013 I was asked to join the board as Newsletter/Website chair, which I happily accepted. I hadn't attended meetings on a usual basis, so I had met some board members for the very first time at my first board meeting. Volunteering on the board level was a great experience for me - I had the chance to build relationships with members and board members and learn about people in and outside my industry and field.

In the fall of 2014 I was able to attend my first National Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. The National Conference is a multi-day event where members from AFWA chapters all over the United States come for networking and professional education. It was from that event that I roomed with immediate past president Eileen Perry and we were excited to bring all that we had learn to our own chapter; it is when I decided to run as President-Elect to try to bring these ideas to light.

AFWA has given me so many opportunities and has helped me in so many ways, from assisting me with school expenses, allowing me to expand my professional network, offering advice and wisdom from great local speakers and experts on various topics, and providing an atmosphere for me to make new friends and connections. I truly believe that you can get more than what you put in without even realizing it. I hope you take advantage of this great organization and find some way to join and volunteer!

One way to help out and volunteer is to take part in our Strategic Planning meeting. Please join me and our board members at our Strategic Planning meeting on July 17th. The meeting is open to board members and chapter members. Come with all your great ideas about what you want to see happening for this year. Please contact me for more information if you would like to attend the meeting.

Our membership meeting in July will also be our installation meeting and we have special guest speaker, Doris Pickering, with a presentation about being a confident communicator. Don't miss out!

Edronda Guiriba, President
AFWA Silicon Valley Chapter

I enjoyed the journey and Thank You again AFWA Silicon Valley!
May 2016

It has been the most satisfying and rewarding experience being the President of the Silicon Valley chapter of AFWA for the 2015-2016 term. This is my last President’s Message and I want to say, “Thank You” to the board and AFWA members for your efforts and support.

I learned a great deal not only about AFWA in general but, about myself. I hope that with any leadership opportunity I might have in the future I can apply what I have learned and lead with confidence.

I don’t have any amazing last words. I did read an interesting article the other day about characteristics of successful people. The article listed things like investing in yourself, be curious about everything, and surround yourself with good people. However, it never mentioned being passionate. Why do what you do if you don’t care. To me, the “why” behind it all is key in understanding yourself to ultimately figuring out how you will achieve your success. To be honest, being President of this chapter had more to do with my passion for understanding myself and my abilities more than anything.

Our chapter is great chapter with so many talented and spirited members and leaders. It was a wonderful platform for me to lead in a fun and supportive environment. I enjoyed the journey and Thank You again AFWA Silicon Valley!

Eileen Perry, President
AFWA Silicon Valley Chapter

Being a past recipient of our local scholarship program, I can say how beneficial it is to receive one...
April 2016

Happy April! Hope everyone had a great Easter Holiday. April is the month we give out our scholarship awards to local students studying in accounting or finance. We are given the opportunity to hand out scholarships each year due to our generous sponsors.

Participation and support of our highly valued sponsors is integral to the success of our scholarship program! If you are interested in more details and the benefits of being a sponsor for our 10th annual Spring Gala in May, please don't hesitate to contact Edronda Guiriba at (408) 250-9552 or email her at Please confirm as soon as possible to maximize your exposure, but no later than May 10, 2016. Being a past recipient of our local scholarship program, I can say how beneficial it is to receive one. I encourage anyone who may not have the ability to sponsor to consider donating via our website by clicking the green "Donate Today" icon at the top of the screen.

If you cannot donate or sponsor, simply reaching out to someone who you feel may benefit from the exposure of being a sponsor for our gala this year is just as beneficial. If you would like more information to provide someone you feel might benefit in being a sponsor, please feel free to contact Edronda as well.

Thank you in advance for your support and participation!

Hope to see you at our Scholarship Awards Dinner on April 26th and/or our 10th Annual Spring Gala on May 24th!

Eileen Perry, President
AFWA Silicon Valley Chapter

Success hinges on three things...
March 2016

Happy March everyone! I have been self-reflecting a great deal lately, and I thought I would share a few thoughts in hopes of it helping someone else. Lately, I have been very disappointed in myself for a number of reasons. Mainly, I have been fairly self-destructive this last year. I have learned that I don't know my limits and two I am very hard on myself. A combination of the two has ultimately effected my attitude and self-confidence. I take on too much and when things fall apart, I see myself as a failure. I need to learn that I cannot do it all which does not make me a failure, just human. I gain my strength and energy from being organized. When I cannot maintain a level of organization, I lose my track, moral, and my overall ambition slips. As a result, I become sad or angry which turns to talking myself into thinking I am a failure.

I am to the point of being exhausted with myself. With that, I read a few articles, one about setting healthy boundaries and two about self-confidence. The articles helped put it all together for me, so here are a few things I picked up:

Get a small tablet our journal and do the following:

Other things that can be done is to find mentors. Use the internet, find them, read their blogs, listen to their pod casts, read their books, document what you learn, and share with your network. Admit to ignorance and resist the urge to "bull sh…" Success hinges on three things: First, being believable. When you demonstrate conviction and passion, others will believe in you too. Second, be confident without being arrogant. Being open to feed back is key. A truly confident person does not require arrogance which is a smoke screen of insecurity. Third, verbal and nonverbal communication should be in sync. For example, a face of disgust or dissatisfaction should not be showing as your telling someone how great of a job they did on that last project.

  1. Write down all your accomplishments starting from the earliest you can remember to the most recent.
  2. Write down your strengths. One page should be what you think your strengths are and the other side should be a list of things others (work colleagues, school mates, family, friends) think your strengths are.
  3. Then write down at least two short term and two long term goals.
  4. Every time I loose site of my goals, get distracted, or start to feel unmotivated pull out the journal and review what you wrote while keeping these things in mind.
    • Deepen your motivation by revisiting your accomplishments. (What things did you do that allowed you to achieve them? How did you feel after you did?)
    • Gain ambition by revisiting what your strengths are. (How do you feel about what others have said about your strengths? Do you remember using your strengths to accomplish your prior achievements?)
    • Get back on track by revisiting your goals. (Visualize the emotional rewards. Create a sheet of clip art of the things you hope to have or accomplish by achieving them and keep it in your journal as a reminder.)
    • Confirm your tactical plan. (Set a plan of smaller goals to help achieve your larger goals. Achieving the smaller goals with help strengthen your confidence to achieve overall larger goal. Eliminate all activities that do not serve your goals and increase activities that do.)
  5. Finally, keep a victory log of all the goals accomplished on the remaining pages of your journal.

I hope this helps someone else as well. I open my journal and become excited again about my goals and future. Hope you all enjoy the month of March and don't forget to wear green on Thursday, March 17th!

Eileen Perry, President
AFWA Silicon Valley Chapter

I hope no one minds me taking the liberty to talk about something a bit off track...
February 2016

It is February and love is in the air! With it being the month of February, I hope no one minds me taking the liberty to talk about something a bit off track. I want to talk about my special someone who is my Valentine. As some of you know, he is amazingly friendly and loves chatting it up with anyone who will hold still long enough. He has been by my side for going on 9 years and seen me power through some of the hardest years of my life.

I moved to the Bay Area from a very small rural area in the middle of nowhere 10 years ago to go to school and find more opportunity. (The town I grew up in only has one stop light.) Since moving here, I have mainly attended school full-time, worked, and participated in various organizations in and outside of school. I will be honest, anyone who knows me prior to moving to California will say that during these last 10 years I have become very boring. I have missed so many family functions and events with friends that it is amazing I still have any friends at all. However, my Valentine has supported me through two almost three college degrees, my time with AFWA board positions, work, and personal life situations. He is the one person I can count on to keep me grounded and focused. So, I want dedicate this little message in the month of love to him.

I hope that any of you going through obstacles and jumping through hoops of flames in your life, that you too have that special someone who is there. Don't forget to tell them how much you love them and appreciate them this month! Looking forward to sealing the deal and spending the rest of my life with my forever Valentine!

To my love, thank you and I love you!

Eileen Perry, President
AFWA Silicon Valley Chapter

I am very excited for what 2016 has in store for our chapter...
January 2016

Happy 2016! Hope everyone had a great holiday and a wonderful start to the New Year! The time has flown by! I noticed that there are only five more board meetings and five more member meetings before the new board will sit and strategize for their term. I am very excited for what 2016 has in store for our chapter. January and February will be our GAAP update and tax updates respectively. Soon, our nominating committee will be formed and on the hunt for new board members! If you are interested in being on the board, please attend a member meeting soon and let us know what position you would be interested in.

Also, we are making plans to have a joint meeting with IMA at the Biltmore the third Wednesday of March. Stay tuned for more details on that. In April, we will be awarding our scholarship winners. Anyone interested in helping our scholarship chair, please contact Julia Becklund. In addition to scholarships, we should have our new board pieced together by then and will be holding our installation of the new board that evening as well. Last but certainly not least, May will be our 10th annual Spring Gala. The Gala helps to raise a substantial part of our scholarship funds, so we hope to see many of you there this year! (It is my favorite event of the year!)

With all that, I am looking forward to 2016 and I hope you all are too!

Eileen Perry, President
AFWA Silicon Valley Chapter

I am excited to see what 2016 has in store! We have some fun and big events coming up...
December 2015

Before I start thinking about what 2016 has in store, I want to take a minute to reflect on 2015. I want to give a big, "thank you" to the board this year! Each board member has been fantastic! We had some transitions on the board early on that could have made this term difficult however, others stepped up and helped out effortlessly. Thank you Sue Stokke and Debbie Rosengarten! Thank you to Nicole Letellier for helping out with the October member meeting while a few of us attended national conference this year and for her support and advice along the way.

Allyson Girardi and Fiona Stephenson are new to the board this year and have handled their positions without fail. Both are incredibly busy professionals in their given fields and it has been wonderful knowing the chapter can depend on them. Lois Vega is a long time member who actually got me involved with AFWA to begin with. It was the best day ever hearing she was willing to be on my board as Secretary. She takes the best minutes! Nicole Sheets brings her incredibly bubbly personality to our meetings and almost always manages to make us all laugh at least once at every meeting. She is a person every organization should have at their events to keep things lively and fun. Barbara Lietzan is a long time member who agreed to simply assist our hospitality chair as needed. She is an amazingly friendly person and I felt incredibly honored that she agreed to help out with the board at all considering she did not have to.

Thank you to Amrit Dhaliwal who has been sending out our media blasts this year, which can be a bit time consuming; regardless, she sets time out of her very busy life to do what she does and it is greatly appreciated more than she knows! Julia Becklund is always there to help whenever and a very friendly person I enjoy having a conversation with anytime. She always has the most interesting stories. Please keep in mind she is the person to go to this year for scholarship information or if you are a member and interested in helping her review scholarship applications as well.

I can't forget Edronda Guiriba. I got to know her better while we roomed together at national conference in New Orleans the year before. She is hands down my right hand as President-Elect this year. Out of all the benefits I have received from my own membership with AFWA, her friendship has meant the most! Hope I can prove to be just as great of a support to her as she has been for me when she takes over as chapter President in June 2016! You are going to be great E!

Thank you again to you all! I am excited to see what 2016 has in store! We have some fun and big events coming up. We have GAAP and tax updates coming soon. For March we are talking about having a networking event that will be a casual weekend event at a different location than normal, (stay tuned.) April will be our scholarship awards dinner and as usual our big Gala event in May will be taking place.

Till we meet again in 2016, enjoy the rest of your 2015! Don't let the next few weeks get away from you. Take time to enjoy your family and friends!

Happy Holidays to you all!

Eileen Perry, President
AFWA Silicon Valley Chapter

They say true happiness is found by wanting the things you have...
November 2015

Happy November and happy early Thanksgiving to all of you! This is the month that some people start counting their blessings and reflect on the things they are thankful for. I am thankful for so much in my life right now. They say true happiness is found by wanting the things you have. I don't have a million dollars or a sauna built into my bathroom, but I know if life goes on without those things I will still be very happy.

People in accounting have many things to be thankful for and one being the job market outlook for 2016. Various sources point out unemployment for accounting professionals is currently between 3% to 4%.

Regardless of the fact that a high number of accounting degrees have been awarded over the last few years, it is still challenging for businesses to hire and retain professionals at all levels due to the high demand. With more graduates obtaining accounting degrees, what sets them apart from each other? What gets them hired over the thousands of other college graduates?

After talking with many professionals at various levels, many say it is those who have soft skills. Technical skills may get you the interview, but soft skills will land you the job. It is not a matter of being outgoing, but being able to clearly communicate, knowing how to collaborate with a team, adapt to change, conflict resolution, observation and proactive listening. I try each day to improve my soft skills and know that I will always have to work hard to improve these skills.

Some firms and companies do not have the time or resources to provide training for such skills. Therefore, it is up to you to work on them on your own time. To help me work on my soft skills, I became a member of my local chapter of AFWA and joined the board. Serving as the President of the Silicon Valley chapter has been very rewarding and there is plenty of room for anyone to get involved. You don't have to be President, any role on the board is just as rewarding. Being a member of the board allows you to collaborate with a team and test your ability to utilize and learn additional soft skills. So join, get involved, and see for yourself! In the meantime, let's all be thankful for the things we have and have a happy Thanksgiving!

Don't forget that our monthly meeting has been moved up a week to accommodate the Thanksgiving break. Please join us at the offices of Burr Pilger and Mayer on Tuesday, November 17th!

PLEASE NOTE: Get registered EARLY online since the registration will close the Sunday before the meeting. Cost at the door [on the day of the meeting] goes up for guests AND members.

See you there!

Eileen Perry, President
AFWA Silicon Valley Chapter

It's the season of my favorite holiday... Halloween!
October 2015

Hope everyone had a fantastic summer!

Don't mind me while I jump up and down in excitement that summer is over. Fall is my favorite time of the year. I love the trees changing colors and the temperature is never too hot or too cold. Also, it's the season of my favorite holiday... Halloween!

I don't just answer the door and toss out a candy to each kid that comes by. They have to be brave enough to come up to me to get it. Myself and whoever else I can convince to dress up in a themed costume, stand outside for several hours and hand out 250 packed bags of candy each year. Yes, 250 little nicely packed bags of assorted candies get handed out at my house each year. My house is known as the "scary house." (We have annual groupies.) Kids drive or walk by with their parents and point and say, "Look mom! It's the scary house!"

The whole yard gets decorated. Dozens of little strobe lights are strategically placed to reflect off the tombstones in the graveyard. We use 3 fog machines, hang a 25 foot skeleton from the flag pole, display fire pots, and we even use haunting sound effects. Kids go up the walkway in the front, pass the graveyard, pass the talking head, pass whoever randomly jumps out at them, and finally through the thick fog that prevents them from seeing me and anyone else on the other side. I know when I was a kid it was so much more fun at the houses where people dressed up, handed out candy and played along with us.

One thing I find amusing is every year after about 8:30pm we start getting the older kids in their late teens. I hear them come up the walkway saying things like how not scared they are. This is usually coming from the one in the back, prodding the friends along in front. One year, a group of teens came up like they always do with their attitudes. I left the bags of candy sitting behind the fog in a large cauldron unattended. Naturally I could hear them coming saying how lame it was that year. Just as they thought they were in the clear, I jumped out from the garage door two feet away looking like a freak from the underworld and fired up the chainsaw. The chainsaw NEVER fails. I definitely had extra candy that year left to give out.

So, before you start your own Halloween traditions, the Tuesday before Halloween will be our next member meeting with Lynda Boman of Boman Accounting Group, Inc. She will be discussing how to assess a charity's financials to help those who give ensure the charity they donate to is a good one. This is a great topic right before the end of the year when thinking of charities to donate to for that extra tax deduction! Be sure not to miss out and to register early.... and have a Happy Halloween!

PLEASE NOTE: Get registered EARLY online since the registration will close the Sunday before the meeting. Cost at the door [on the day of the meeting] goes up for guests AND members.

See you there!

Eileen Perry, President
AFWA Silicon Valley Chapter

Join us this month for an exciting chapter meeting with Dr. Frank Wisehart...
September 2015

Hope you all are enjoying the last few weeks of summer! Labor Day weekend tends to mark the last "hurrah" before summer leaves us. Did you know that it was President Cleveland that signed it into law to dedicate it a national holiday? It is a day to acknowledge the hard work of men and women and has been celebrated by the U.S. and Canada since 1894. So, I hope all you hard workers are taking some much needed Labor Day weekend time off to enjoy and relax. I am going to keep this short for those of you who are reading this and wanting to get back to your last minute summer activities before fall hits us in a few weeks.☺

Hope you can find time to join us this month for our monthly chapter meeting with Dr. Frank Wisehart who will discuss Forensic accounting, specifically about, "lie spotting and evidence gathering." Very excited and intrigued!

PLEASE NOTE: Get registered EARLY online since the registration will close the Sunday before the meeting. Cost at the door [on the day of the meeting] goes up for guests AND members.

See you there!

Eileen Perry, President
AFWA Silicon Valley Chapter

If gender balanced leadership leads a company to a better bottom line, why take 80 years to make it happen?
August 2015

Right now there is a great deal of discussion going on about not having enough women in leadership positions. However, many companies and firms are working now to create an equality of women in leadership roles. It is exciting to see the list of "2015 Best Public Accounting Firms for Women" and see two of the ten headquartered right here in the Bay Area! (Burr Pilger Mayer Inc. and OUM & Co. LLP) I read an interesting article posted today by Forbes which indicated the gender gap will not be completely closed until 2095. Basically, 80 years from now the gender gap will be equal.

Statistics show that gender balanced leadership leads to higher profitability, ROI, and GDP. Should we be left to believe that businesses would rather wait 80 years to improve their bottom line? I am having a hard time wrapping my head around the idea of 80 years before gender equality is no longer an issue considering the baby boomer generation AND generation X will be long gone before 2095. Even millennials will be well past retirement. Anyone now in their 20's will be 100 plus.

If gender balanced leadership leads a company to a better bottom line, why take 80 years to make it happen? Anyone reading this, man or women, let's work together to speed up the process. This brings up another interesting bit I read that stated, "GIRLS compete with each other, WOMEN empower each other." Can you imagine your work environment where both men and women empowered the other like adults? Hope I am alive to see cohesive and equal gender equality in my field of public accounting where statics show that it is currently 70% male dominated.

I am going to leave my thoughts there on the subject and do what I can in my career to help even the playing field and carve a path for younger generations of women. Speaking of women in the field of accounting creating a path of for younger women leaders, Monika Miles is the President of Miles Consulting Group and will be speaking on, "Sales Tax Hot Topics and SALT issues Affecting Clients Today" on Tuesday, August 25th

Please Note: REGISTER online early since the registration will close the Sunday before the meeting. Cost at the door [on the day of the meeting] goes up for guests AND members.

See you there!

Eileen Perry, President
AFWA Silicon Valley Chapter

One thing that keeps me going is the positivity and support I receive from my fellow AFWA members...
July 2015

I am about to begin what could be the most challenging year yet for myself. It may seem daunting, but it is very exciting to me to take on each new challenge I have set for myself this year. One thing that keeps me going is the positivity and support I receive from my fellow AFWA members in addition to regular support from family and friends. Of course my family and friends give positive support no matter what however, it is incredibly reassuring to hear it from my AFWA peers; many of whom have families on top of many other obligations comparable to my own. AFWA members understand, because they too are accounting or financial professionals.

Last month, the board members met to discuss the strategic plan for the current year. The board this year is highly dedicated. The meeting started late; however, we managed to quickly set our goals, finalize the budget, have lunch, and get our ideas lined out for speakers well in advance with five minutes left to spare! Talk about women who know how to get in there and get it done!

In addition to each one being active board members, each have families and obligations of their own to tend to outside of AFWA. It is inspiring to hear their stories which keeps me motivated for my future.

Again, I highly recommend anyone in accounting or finance to get involved with the AFWA association. Come meet friendly faces, network, and gain your own network of support and hope for your future. You can start by joining us at our July monthly member meeting. See our events calendar for more details.

Eileen Perry, President
AFWA Silicon Valley Chapter

I will be the first to tell you all the many wonderful benefits of being an active member of AFWA...
June 2015

Here I am, trying to fill in some big shoes of prior presidents of the Silicon Valley's chapter of the Accounting and Financial Women's Alliance. I am so grateful to this organization for so much! I found my current job by attending AFWA events and networking, made new friends, have made highly successful professional connections, continue to learn technical information in many fields of accounting and finance at member meetings, acquire soft skills like leadership, learning how to work with a group of diverse people, social skills, and how to handle difficult situations. I even won a beautiful black Vera Bradley purse at National Conference last year in New Orleans! I will be the first to tell you all the many wonderful benefits of being an active member of AFWA.

Who knows... I could win more purses! ......Just kidding!

Honestly, I get more satisfaction from being an active member of AFWA than I do from that purse. It could never hold as much as I have received from my membership of AFWA. The exciting thing is that I am about to learn and gain so much more from this group of amazing women as I take on the role of president! So, with all that I have received already, I ask myself......what if I had never attended the meetings because I had better things to do for a couple hours one Tuesday a month? What if I never asked questions to those I wanted to know more from? What if I never stepped out of my comfort zone and started conversations with people about what they do and how they got to where they are? What if I never participated on the board and added my ideas? What if I had never gone to national conference and met even more successful and supportive professionals and friends?

Let me tell you what I would have if I had never done all the above. I would have nothing more than anyone else with a job and not enough time. However, now ....I have a job, not enough time, successful connections, improved skills, doors opening to more opportunities, experiences, supportive friends, and a Vera Bradley purse! With that being said, as president, I am going to challenge YOU to join or attend more meetings this year and be active! Please, come participate in something bigger than yourself and see what satisfaction it will bring to you!

You can start by bringing your ideas for speakers this year to the strategic planning meeting. If you would like to attend, please RSVP to me ( by noon Thursday, June 18th. Here's to a fun and successful 2015-2016 with AFWA Silicon Valley!

Eileen Perry, President
AFWA Silicon Valley Chapter

The Spring Gala is the best event to introduce yourself to our group...
May 2015

May is the month for blooming flowers and celebrating the renewal of nature. For AFWA Silicon Valley it is time for our Spring Gala! Time to renew our commitment to the Bay Area accounting and finance students. Our Spring Gala raises money for our scholarship awards for next year.

We have an extraordinary speaker this year. Dr. Fred Luskin, Stanford University Professor. He will speak to us about finding a workplace balance for a happy, healthy, stress free life.

I don't know if you are like me, but workplace balance is not an easy task to accomplish. Anytime I think that I am getting ahead on my "to do list", new items are added either as top priority or at the bottom for when I have nothing else to do. Workplace stresses come in many different forms. Either it is dealing with employee morale, or serving internal as well as external customers, or trying to prioritize all the demands that are put on my shoulders. Throughout my days, it is very hard to find time to reflect on having a workplace balance and how to reduce stress at work as well as how to keep the workplace stress out of my personal life. I can use all the help that I can find.

If you are thinking about joining us for the first time, the Spring Gala is the best event to introduce yourself to our group. It is our best networking opportunity since our Gala brings more people, members and non-members alike, and our Gala's agenda allows more time for networking. I personally enjoy our Gala because I get to meet new people and make new connections.

I am personally inviting each one of you to come and enjoy our Spring Gala, come for the networking, come for the food, and come to learn about workplace balance. I can assure you that it will be an evening you won't forget and that you will bring home something to enhance your life. Happy mother's day to all of you who are mothers!

Truly yours,

Nicole Letellier, President
AFWA Silicon Valley Chapter

Scholarships are one of the reasons I am proud to be a member of this organization...
April 2015

In my opinion, April is the best month for AFWA - Silicon Valley Chapter as it is the month that we award our scholarships to deserving students. Scholarships are one of the reasons I am proud to be a member of this organization. As most of you already know, I am a past scholarship recipient. It was such a great experience and help at that time and I can assure you that it changed the course of my career. If you want to hear more, feel free to talk to me at any meetings. I am very grateful to AFWA for so many reasons.

For those of you in income tax practice, April may be a terrible month, but also it is the best second part of any month. Relief is in sight and we make sure that our meeting is scheduled well after tax season is over!

Traditionally we have a panel of professionals who represent multiple aspects of an accounting and finance career. This year again, we will follow our tradition and have a panel of professionals who will talk about what they do, how they arrive where they are today, and why they keep doing it. As a student, I always enjoyed hearing what accountants were doing. It is a field that has broad variety of careers. In school, we tend to hear about becoming a CPA and working for a CPA firm. I can assure you that there are many other paths for an accounting and/or finance graduate; you should not ignore these other avenues.

It will be with great pleasure that I will congratulate in person our scholarship recipients again this year. These students have shown dedication to their studies, while working full time, for most of them, and helping their community, either at the school or at an outside organization. I would like to see a room full of supporters for our winners, so please consider joining us for this very special meeting.

In addition to our scholarship awards, we will be installing our new board members for our fiscal year 2015-16. Our new board members will take office on July 1st, 2015.

I am personally inviting each one of you to come and witness our deserving scholarship recipients and show support for your new board of directors.

I am looking forward to seeing you all at our next meeting.

Truly yours,

Nicole Letellier, President
AFWA Silicon Valley Chapter

Scholarships will be awarded soon... donate today!
March 2015

As I am writing this message, spring is in full bloom outside my window. That reminds me how blessed I am to be living in one of the most wonderful places. We are spoiled with great weather and abundance.

Let's not forget our good fortune and remember to share with those who are less fortunate or who could use our encouragement and support. Our scholarship applications are due very soon and we are excited as always, to review and award scholarships to the most dedicated applicants. We also need our members' financial support to fund our scholarship award program. Today is the best day for you to go on our website and make a donation that will be used to support accounting and finance students in the Bay Area. For those of you who have already donated thank you from me and all the past, present and future recipients.

At this month's membership meeting, you will have the opportunity to vote for your next AFWA board of directors. Our nominating committee has been hard at work and we have a complete slate of nominees who have accepted to take on leadership positions. I invite you to come, meet them, and show your support.

At our membership meeting on March 24th, we will have Dr. Susan Parker speak to us about "Giving Voice to Your Ethical Values: How to Speak Up Effectively". This is a program not to be missed. I am looking forward to seeing you all at our next meeting.

Truly yours,

Nicole Letellier, President
AFWA Silicon Valley Chapter

“2015 tax season is upon us...”
February 2015

Happy Valentine's Day! I am wishing for all of you to be surrounded by loving people for this special day. I will be surrounded by my best friend and I am happy to be sharing this day with her.

2015 tax season is upon us. I know that many if not most of you are already very committed and will spend the next few months at your work place seeing very little of your own home. To help you get through, we have Ms. Annette Nellen, CPA, Esq as our February membership meeting speaker. Ms. Nellen is a professor and director of San Jose State University's graduate tax program. She will come to help us understand some of the changes to tax law that affect 2014 tax returns. We are so fortunate to have her speak to us, and you don't want to miss it!

It is time for AFWA Silicon Valley to nominate our future leaders. Our nominating committee is in place and they may be contacting you to ask what position you want to take on! I encourage you to give being a board member some serious thoughts. There are many advantages and rewards to being part of the AFWA Silicon Valley board of directors. Don't hesitate to reach out to any board member to find out more about each position.

Looking forward to seeing you at our next membership meeting on February 24th ready to learn about what's new for 2014 returns for individuals and businesses.

Truly yours,

Nicole Letellier, President
AFWA Silicon Valley Chapter

“It is time for AFWA Silicon Valley to nominate our future leaders...”
January 2015

I am wishing you a year of prosperity and good health. 2015 is already showing signs of economic growth and good opportunities for employment. These conditions are a good omen for our profession. It also means accountants and finance professional have to keep up with the economic pace and with regulations. There are many accounting standards in the works, but also some that have to be implemented in the coming year.

To start the year on the right foot, we are offering an appropriate program about the new revenue recognition standard. It will be effective for years beginning after December 15, 2016. Even though it looks far in the future, it is not that far when considering how it needs to be applied. We are grateful to have Kyle McLeod, CPA, from Gallina LLP, who will share his knowledge with us and helps us stay in compliance with this new standard.

It is time for AFWA Silicon Valley to nominate our future leaders. Our nominating committee is in need of a member at large to participate in this crucial function. I invite you to consider participating. If you are interested, please contact either myself or our nominating committee chairperson, Julia Becklund.

Our nominating committee has to fill many positions for the upcoming fiscal year starting July 1st. There are several positions in need of new and fresh ideas from new board members. Please give a board position a serious thought. Don't hesitate to contact any current board member to get more information on their current position and all the advantages and rewards of being a board member.

Looking forward to seeing you at our next membership meeting on January 27th ready to learn about the revenue recognition standard.

Truly yours,

Nicole Letellier, President
AFWA Silicon Valley Chapter

“AFWA has provided me with great opportunities to learn leadership, communication, and technical skills...”
December 2014

It is December already! It is hard to believe that we will say Good Bye to 2014 in just a couple of weeks.

Thank you to all of you who came to our Holiday Party. It was well attended and I had a great pleasure hosting this fun event. We collected many pounds of food that were delivered to the Second Harvest Food Bank in San Jose. They are very grateful for our donation. Thank you to all who participated.

I hope that 2014 has been a successful year for all of you. Mine has been filled with great experiences and challenges. I have grown in my professional life as well as my personal life. AFWA has provided me with great opportunities to learn leadership, communication, and technical skills through the monthly membership meeting speakers and also by taking an active role in the organization. I am grateful for the opportunities and I hope you will decide to take an active role in your organization. By taking either a board position or playing a role in a committee, you have the chance to shape what your organization will look like and will provide to its members. I highly recommend being part of the leadership team. I can guarantee that it will be an unforgettable experience.

Whatever your plans are for the Holidays, I wish you and your family, a Joyful and Safe Holiday season. I am already looking forward to seeing you next year!

Happy Holidays!

Nicole Letellier, President
AFWA Silicon Valley Chapter

“My life is what it is today because of the challenges that I had to face and overcome.”
November 2014

It is November and this is the month to be thankful. Personally, I am thankful for just about everything in my life! I am thankful for the people in my life, my family, my friends, my co-workers, my fellow AFWA members, to name just a few. I am also thankful for events that when they first happened, I considered them dreadful and very negative. As I am getting older, I realize that those events were the most important life changing events and changing for the best. My life is what it is today because of the challenges that I had to face and overcome. I am thankful for the most difficult times in my life as I would not be here writing to you without them. I would not be the successful CPA that I am today. I am thankful every day of my life, but during this month I am most aware of the goodness of life and I am happy to be able to share my thoughts with you today.

A career in accounting and finance can take you in many different directions. You may work in public accounting as a tax preparer, auditor, or as a consultant. You may work for a small organization as Director of Finance, CFO, controller, or accounting manager. You may work for a larger corporation as financial analyst, financial investor, and lender. We may also be self-employed and have your own business. But it seems that whatever you do, you will find yourself in a position to have to stand up in front of others and make a presentation. I am not so sure that our education has prepared us and taught us the skills needed to perform a presentation efficiently while keeping the interest of the audience, and be comfortable doing it. Personally I found myself having to do presentation and I wished I was more prepared and had developed skills and tools to better perform when needed.

This month, we will all have a chance to learn and perfect our presentation skills with our speaker Monika Miles, Miles Consulting Group. Monika is a member of our own chapter and she is past President both at the local and National level. I am confident that I will be learning useful information that will help me for my next presentation. I believe that public speaking remains the thing that people fear the most; they would rather eat dirt! I encourage you to attend our November meeting to learn how to develop your presentation talents and feel more comfortable next time you have to perform.

As always, I am looking forward to seeing all of you at our next membership meeting on November 25th, 2014 at the Biltmore Hotel & Suites in Santa Clara.

With my good wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving.

Nicole Letellier, President
AFWA Silicon Valley Chapter

“Being a member of AFWA, helps me to keep up with GAAP, industry standards, and best practices through our speakers and networking.”
October 2014

Every year, September is the month for our AFWA National Conference. This year it was in New Orleans. What a great place to hold a conference. In addition to the professional workshops and meetings, attendees were able to enjoy visiting the French Quarters. Unfortunately I was unable to attend, but we had our chapter delegates to represent our Silicon Valley Chapter. I can't wait to meet with them to hear all about the great innovations and ideas they are ready to share with us. I am sure they will be eager to discuss what they have learned during the networking session at our October membership meeting.

For me, September is audit time. Working in the non-profit sector, my organization goes through its yearly annual independent audit. This means having to show my books, explain transactions, and having my journal entries scrutinized, all of which keeps me on my toes all year around. I don't want to get caught by my auditors for not having my books in order. As much as it is disruptive and time consuming, I believe that the process of going through a yearly audit promotes internal control implementation and monitoring, as well as keeping up with GAAP pronouncements and industry standards. At the end of the audit process, our organization is issued their audited financial statements, which are useful for our contributors, donors, and investors. I take pride in having a clean audit. Being a member of AFWA, helps me to keep up with GAAP, industry standards, and best practices through our speakers and networking. I have found that I can get answers to my questions simply by networking at the monthly meeting. There is so much knowledge assembled in a room filled with female accountants and financial professionals, that I have found it to be one of the best networking events I can participate in.

Our speaker this month will talk about financial planning for business use. I am looking forward to learning more about financial planning to bring that knowledge to my organization and our employees.

I hope you will join us and I am looking forward to seeing all of you at our next membership meeting on October 28th at the Biltmore Hotel & Suites in Santa Clara.

Nicole Letellier, President
AFWA Silicon Valley Chapter

“This month was all about challenges and cooperation.”
September 2014

It is September already and the end of summer is upon us. Before the summer ends, you will have a chance to meet members of other AFWA chapters around the Bay Area at the San Francisco Chapter Annual Angel Island Picnic on September 20th. This is a great event to get to know other members of AFWA and to spend a day outdoors enjoying what San Francisco Bay has to offer. I hope I will get to see you at this great event.

This being my third month as your president, I am already learning and refining many skills as a leader. This month was all about challenges and cooperation. We had a confirmed speaker who was going to talk about presentation skills. Unfortunately, he had to cancel and we found ourselves having to come up with a replacement with little time left. We got together as a group, each person participated and we were able to solve our problem. We decided to postpone our topic for a later date and one of our own offered to be our speaker for this month. What a great example of cooperation when everybody pitches in to find a solution and for one of our members to offer to prepare a presentation with less than two weeks advance notice! I am very proud of being the leader of AFWA Silicon Valley Chapter. This is a wonderful group and I encourage you to consider being a board member for the next fiscal year.

Whether you are an employee or employer, fall is usually time to think about health care and open enrollment. In today's climate with all the changes brought by the health care reform or Obamacare, decisions are not easy to take. Small employers face new decisions to be made. This month's speaker, one of our chapter board members, Amrit Dhaliwal, Director of Benefits at Expert Quote, will present the highlights and updates of ObamaCare. There are many misunderstandings about the program and I am looking forward to learning the ins and outs of the program, which will be helpful in my professional life.

I am looking forward to seeing all of you at our next membership meeting on September 23rd at the Biltmore Hotel & Suites in Santa Clara.

I am wishing you a good end of summer.

Nicole Letellier, President
AFWA Silicon Valley Chapter

“Being a member of AFWA is being part of a community who cares about their members.”
August 2014

This month has been a difficult one for me as my dear brother lost his battle to lung cancer. The reason
I bring it up is to highlight another benefit of being a member of AFWA. During this difficult time, my 
fellow board members have all pitched in to attend to my president's responsibilities for me. I want to thank all of them and especially Eileen Perry, our President elect, for their diligence in filling in for me.

I was able to travel to be with my family with peace of mind that my duties were well taken care of. Thank you to all of you from the bottom of my heart!

Being a member of AFWA is being part of a community who cares about their members. It is a community of people who support each other and in times of need, whether the needs are of professional or personal nature, my fellow members have been right here to help me. It is one of the greatest benefits and I am so grateful to be part of this supporting group.

At this month's meeting you will be able to fine tune your excel skills. In today's work landscape, it is impossible to be in the accounting and finance field without advanced skills in excel. I invite you to attend this presentation and to bring your questions that our expert presenter will be happy to answer.

In addition to great networking you will leave with increased knowledge that you can use in your everyday tasks.

Looking forward to seeing you on August 26th.

Nicole Letellier, President
AFWA Silicon Valley Chapter

“I would not be where I am today if it was not for the support of AFWA’s great members.”
July 2014

It is a great honor to serve as your 2014-15 Silicon Valley Chapter's President. Thank you to our membership for their vote of confidence. I promise to do my best to not deceive your expectations.

I have a very special place in my heart for the Accounting & Financial Women's Alliance. As many of you already know, I am a past scholarship recipient. I received these scholarships at at a turning point in my life. In fact the scholarships allowed me to get the best start for my career that I could have dreamt of! I feel that I would not be where I am today if it was not for the support of AFWA's great members. I am grateful for the help and support I have received from this group and I intend to put all my efforts as president into keeping and improving the great work we are doing together.

My goals for the year are:

  • Increase the numbers of attendees to our monthly membership meetings by offering programs that are of interest to our members
  • Increase the number of applications for our scholarship program by reaching out to more schools via faculty members and students
  • Increase our membership enrollment by reaching out through social media and networking events
  • Doing all of the above while having a good time and making new friends

I cannot accomplish any of these goals without your help. Please join me and our board members at our Strategic Planning meeting on July 19th. Come ready to share your own goals for your group and your innovative ideas that will get this chapter to be the best chapter of our region. You should have received an invitation already, if not please feel free to contact me for more information about our strategic planning meeting.

Happy summer and I am looking forward to seeing you on July 19th!

Nicole Letellier, President
AFWA Silicon Valley Chapter

“To everything, turn, turn, turn. There is a season, turn, turn, turn. And a time to every purpose under heaven.”
—From the Byrds, 1965 Album Turn, Turn, Turn
June 2014

As a child, I lived in upstate New York where summer was my favorite season. Winter required multiple layers of clothing to stay warm; spring and fall were transitional with unpredictable weather and blustery storms. Summer was magical.

I loved summer's warm rain showers, watching lightning bolts across the sky during intense thunderstorms, and playing in the woods behind our house. Beyond the wooded area was a creek where we would look for tadpoles, then check on them every day until they grew into frogs. The most memorable event for me was running around at night with little jars trying to catch fireflies. Not that I was ever coordinated enough to catch anything, but it was fun to run around at night feeling like you were catching not only fire flies, but like you were catching your dreams.

The Byrds go on to talk about the times of our lives, including:

A time to be born, a time to die.
A time to plant, a time to reap.
A time to cast away stones.
A time to gather stones together. 
A time to dance, a time to mourn.
A time to gain, a time to lose.
A time for peace, I swear it's not too late.

My time as President has now ended and I am pleased to pass the gavel to Nicole Letellier. My personal goal this year has been to encourage everyone to be positive while displaying optimism and confidence. I hope we have achieved some measure of success. We all have friends, family and fellow AFWA members that need our support and encouragement. I would like to think that as a group we could capture that elusive firefly and make our dreams come true.

Julia Becklund, President
AFWA Silicon Valley Chapter

“Let's Bring the "FUN" Back Into FUNdraising”
May 2014

May is the month our chapter works to raise money for scholarships. As you're reaching out to people and organizations that you know, and visitors you have invited to past events, remember that there's an opportunity here to promote interest in our group. We are not just an organization that focuses attention on ourselves; we support the community through scholarships. We are a capable and caring group who wholeheartedly welcomes others.

I am putting up a $15 Starbucks card. I am betting that some of you will be working hard to increase attendance. The person that brings in the most guests will win the Starbucks card.

I plan to bring my boss, a genuinely nice person with a laid-back attitude. My boss has insights into Silicon Valley in the early years, as he was there interacting with many of those key people. One person he knows is Alan Kay, the developer of the iPad, and the person that helped Steve Jobs create Pixar.

We have worked hard to create a fun event while raising funds for our scholarships. At the event we will be having pictures taken by Kubokawa Photography, a professional photographer, and there will be a drawing for wine and chocolate. Also for dessert, there will be a chocolate fountain!

The Spring Gala is on May 27th at the Biltmore Hotel in Santa Clara. Be sure to register early. I hope to see you there!

Julia Becklund, President
AFWA Silicon Valley Chapter

April 2014

Working on being more positive is sometimes a difficult job. In our last meeting, our inspirational speaker Anne Martin said this is a skill that many women have difficulty incorporating into their lives. Ms. Martin recommended that we should remind ourselves of our accomplishments and create a list or journal of our successes and job duties that we might overlook.

I started doing this recently, and already I am reaping the benefits. I noted skills that I use on a daily basis but have been overlooking. I have the ability to see the client's point of view and assist them when they needed support. I have empathy for my coworkers and others. I am able to complete reports that require significant research in order to assemble.

One person does not have the ability to find all the answers to all of the problems faced by any company. It is by learning to communicate, overlooking the small stuff, and providing value to our employers and clients that we develop into employees that are considered assets. If I had been keeping a journal I would have a better grasp on my contributions, and, most likely, I would have had more confidence many years ago.

During our monthly meetings we have the ability to recharge our thought processes and rethink the paradigms that we have been utilizing for many years-with great or not so good results. Last month's meeting does dovetail well into this month's meeting which is on the subject of resume writing and interviewing skills which are highlights of our accomplishments.

This month we are giving our Scholarships Awards. We will be giving three students scholarships. We will then have the honor to hear from expert resume writer Melissa Bermea and Chris Nguyen who will speak on interviewing skills and the job outlook.

This May our speaker for the Wine Gala is John Choma a former San Francisco 49er and President of the Leadership Huddle. At this event there will be a wine tasting, networking with our sponsors, dinner and a good speech. Finally get your picture taken by a professional photographer while trying on a Super Bowl ring.

If you have family or friends that love the 49'ers then please invite them, so that they can have a chance to find out about our organization while supporting our scholarships for accounting students. This should be a fun-filled evening!

Julia Becklund, President
AFWA Silicon Valley Chapter

“Learn to value yourself, which means: fight for your happiness.”
—Ayn Rand
March 2014

I have met many people that I consider extraordinary. One friend had to make some quick decisions and pass through horrific circumstances to survive. This has resulted in him changing his life.

After graduating from a university in Croatia with a degree in English, my friend found himself out of school, unemployed with no prospects for a job, and in a country where war was imminent.

He wanted no part in this battle at home or in his country and decided to take a ferry across the bay to Italy. From there he traveled through Europe working in bars and clubs where he could easily make money. Eventually he ended up here in the US, taking accounting classes with me.

He told me about his parents. They were unhappy people who had loud and nasty arguments just for the sake of argument. For many years, he thought arguing to make a point was the normal form communication for it was a cultural form of communication in that part of the country. His parents did not teach him how to ask questions in a non-confrontational manner. To get any truth they needed to argue and those were the skills they were passing along to him.

But my friend decided this was not right. He decided he could change. He said that just the simple act of talking to people without fighting, but instead listening, and knowing that most people are, basically, happy and willing to help, was a life changing revelation for him. Knowing him and seeing his appreciation for others was life changing for me as well.

This month AFWA Silicon Valley is honored to have Anne Martin discuss the topic "The Subtle Art of Shameless Promotion," where she will go over tips on how to communicate your value in the workplace. Be sure to register to learn how to effectively communicate your worth.

Julia Becklund, President
AFWA Silicon Valley Chapter

“Upcoming opportunities to volunteer with AFWA Silicon Valley.”
February 2014

During our January membership meeting, our speaker, Professor Annette Nellen, mentioned that women are losing many of the gains that they had made decades earlier in key leadership positions in governmental sectors and in businesses. I began to ponder this and could not help but think that we need to have people around that make us feel that we are capable and deserving of these types of positions.

I was once told, "If mothers today are able to balance their budget by utilizing oatmeal for breakfast, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch and beans for dinner they have an edge up on many politicians who don't seem to have a grasp on balancing a budget." This is the reason I feel that women should be out there representing us in all government levels, as we recognize how to balance a budget on a personal level. This is a skill that takes time and experience to perfect. Women also outnumber men in the voting population; therefore, if governmental representation reflected the general population we would see more than 50% of all seats in Washington and in the State being held by women.

The key that seems to be missing in this scenario is that there are very few women in leadership roles where we can watch and model our professional skills. One great, easy solution is to belong to a professional organization where one is able to volunteer and become a leader by acting in a capacity for the organization. This has been the key for many women to take that next step up in their professional careers.

There are many upcoming opportunities to volunteer with AFWA Silicon Valley. We need volunteers to help with the scholarship committee and the Spring Wine Gala to raise funds for next year's scholarships. Please consider volunteering some time as you learn more about our members, and, if you are interested, contact any of our Board members for information on how you can help.

Julia Becklund, President
AFWA Silicon Valley Chapter

“The Power of Gratitude”
January 2014

The past two months have been very difficult for me. We had moved our work office location and lost some items during the move, my sister's husband ended up in the hospital with a life-threatening acute liver injury, and this was all in the midst of the holidays. The result was that I found myself spending a lot of time frustrated and stressed.

While trying to locate paperwork for my boss, I ran across this article, "The Life-Altering Power of Gratitude" by Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD, that I had been given a while back, when I had attended a support group for people with possible life ending diseases. This article had reminded me of what I needed to look at, how to re-frame my thoughts with the overwhelming circumstances that I recently had to deal with. I realized I needed to stop being so negative, so I started thinking positively and praying.

I guess my positive outlook and prayers worked! I have found most of the things that were lost in the move and my brother-in-law is out of the hospital, although there's still a long road to full recovery. And, we're past the holidays!

Through all of this, the article had reminded me that there is a way to put your life into perspective, so that you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Stress from everyday life can be challenging. When given extraordinary events on top of that, we need to remind ourselves to refocus our thoughts on the positive rather than the negative. If I am truly going to survive and thrive, I need to be grateful for the many blessings in my life.

I am thankful to be reminded of this, at the start of the new year surrounded by intelligent women who are making a difference in the lives of their clients, their families and in the local community.

AFWA is a kind, generous and considerate group that I am proud to be a part of. The Scholarship Award night is coming up in April, where we award scholarship funds to students who are pursuing their goals to become accountants. Our Spring Gala in May is also a time our group comes together to raise funds for the scholarships awarded the next year. These actions reflect upon us as a group and individually.

We also meet every month to learn and get updates in the accounting and financial fields. Our AFWA community is a resource for our work lives. Being the busy group we are, we need to develop our inner source of strength. I hope this article helps you in doing so.

For more from the article, click here.

Julia Becklund, President
AFWA Silicon Valley Chapter

Happy Holidays”
December 2013

When I was young my family frequently moved, as my father was a field engineer for General Electric. My father would receive notice from General Electric when he had been transferred to another division, which would happen every two years and sometimes more frequently. During one move my parents decided to stop in at my mother's home town to visit her parents, my grandparents.

I remember my grandmother being so fascinated with the fact that my sisters had never seen a live Santa Claus. Santa Claus was just a drawing in a book for my sisters, for them a pure and magical image and a story that they heard about once a year.

During that visit my grandmother decided it was time for my sisters to see a live Santa Claus. She packed the two of them into the car and had my grandfather drive. My grandparents took them to the local department store and made an effort to keep them from seeing Santa Claus until the last possible moment to make it a big surprise. The picture of my sisters sitting with Santa, both staring at Santa with eyes wide open in amazement is one that will always bring back nostalgic memories of the holidays when I was young.

I want everybody to have a moment like that this year. I would like you to have a picture-worthy moment that will be remembered for years to come. We all should make an attempt to have pictures of the time we spend and memories we build with family, friends and people that we care about.

Wishing Everybody a Happy Holiday Season and hoping that you get some great pictures of your family and friends.

Julia Becklund, President
AFWA Silicon Valley Chapter

Positive Possibilities
November 2013

In this year of the Positive Possibilities I have been reading "What to Say When You Talk to Yourself" by Shad Helmstetter. The book was written over 30 years ago but the message is still valid. The most amazing point Mr. Helmstetter makes is that most children hear the word "No" more than 168,000 times while growing up. Do we carry this with us in adulthood? Are we left thinking we are not able to try new experiences, or challenge ourselves to another level in our career?

The book makes another important point: that change takes time and frequent reinforcement to accomplish any goal. Thank goodness for Post-It Notes. I am able to place reminders of things to do, as well as positive affirmations around the house.

Through AFWA we are able to help others with the Positive Possibilities in their lives. We provide scholarships, ongoing continuing education credits on topics that benefit most professionals. We as a group are making the world a better place by giving away scholarships, which reflects upon us not only as individuals, but also our organization.

We need to translate the thought of "No" into possibilities for making change in our lives even if they are very small steps. Get out a Post-It note and write yourself a message that you would like to see or hear. Put it near the bathroom mirror or in a place where you will see that note several times a day. Think in the positive and look for solutions that bring the best results.

Julia Becklund, President
AFWA Silicon Valley Chapter

“Lucky 19, Happy 75”
October 2013

As women, and members of the AFWA, we might consider the number 19 to be lucky.

* In 1919 the 19th Amendment passed the House and the Senate, giving women the right to vote

* Nineteen years later a group of women got together and formed the American Society of Women Accountants (ASWA)

Of course, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony may not have thought of passage of the 19th Amendment as luck. Instead, like Douglas MacArthur, they may have felt that the best luck of all is the luck you make for yourself or, like Emily Dickenson that Luck is not chance, it's toil; fortune's expensive smile is earned.

But it is lucky for us. The 19th Amendment has afforded us more control over our lives; made them better. We are lucky to have the choices we do.

In 1938, the American Society of Women Accounts was formed. In 2012, deciding it was time for a change and a more modern approach we took a new brand: Accounting and Financial Women's Alliance (AFWA) with a tagline of "Connect. Advance. Lead."

The mission of the Accounting & Financial Women's Alliance is to enable women in all accounting and related fields to achieve their full personal, professional and economic potential and to contribute to the future development of their profession.

Again, we benefit. We are lucky to have an organization like the AFWA as a resource to learn, keep up with changes, and connect with people who understand our daily challenges.

As a 4 year member of the AFWA (I spent 18 months as a visitor prior to joining), I can report that the organization has contributed greatly to my own personal and professional development. I would love to hear from you any stories of how the AFWA has positively influenced your life.

Julia Becklund, President
AFWA Silicon Valley Chapter

“When thinking about where ethics and employment law intersect, the art of being judicious comes to mind.”
September 2013

In last month's meeting, we were honored to have Professor Annette Nellen, J.D., C.P.A of San Jose State's College of Business speak with us about the many facets of Infrastructure Ethics. September's speaker will be Jeanine DeBacker who chairs the Employment Law practice at Hoge Fenton Jones & Appel. Jeanine is a litigator whose knowledge and experience make her a compelling speaker on the topic of Employment Law Updates.

When thinking about where ethics and employment law intersect, the art of being judicious comes to mind.

I have learned a fair amount from my current manager about being judicious; specifically, about gathering enough information to be able to employ good judgment. His viewpoint is that if you practice active listening and allow the person speaking to provide details, facts will emerge that can give you better insight. I decided to put this to the test and practice active listening in a recent encounter.

I had come across a neighbor in the same business complex, who had said to me, "I hurt my shoulder when moving heavy boxes from one shelf to another. I asked a co-worker if the company had Workers Compensation Insurance, and was told that we do not." At first, I was sympathetic to my neighbor's plight but, following my manager's advice, I allowed my neighbor to share more details.

I asked, "When did this accident happen?"

My neighbor continued on, saying, "It happened last week. I don't want to see a doctor, but I have been working very hard to get caught up, so I can stay home for two days this week." After hearing more of my neighbor's details, I was less sympathetic, knowing a Labor Day weekend was approaching, but still did not have enough information to pass judgment. By taking the time to let those details emerge, I was able to avoid making any quick assumptions.

Active listening helps provide better insight and so do the speakers at our monthly meetings. The speakers that come to our meetings are a great resource, helping us develop perspective and a greater understanding of people and our industry. I am thankful for the meetings as they provide insight that make us better people. After our meetings, I frequently think of a quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., which is a "Man's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions."

I have heard Jeanine speak in the past and she is very dynamic, with knowledge covering the many areas of Employment Law. I cannot wait to see Janine at the upcoming meeting and hope you all can join us.

Julia Becklund, President
AFWA Silicon Valley Chapter

“Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has many, not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”

—Charles Dickens

August 2013

Maintaining a balance of work and home this past week has been very hectic for me. One aspect was interacting with a 7 year old, the granddaughter of my brother's girlfriend, Cassie. Her routine of the day starts by waking up at six o'clock in the morning. Full of energy, she becomes quite loud in expressing herself by greeting the world with joy. The innocence of a youngster who is curious and eager to explore is oblivious to the impact they have with their surroundings.

Since I am more of a night owl than an early riser, this experience has presented its challenges. Throughout the years, I have extensive history having trouble with my sleeping patterns. As the week wore on, this bubbly grandchild grated my nerves much like fingernails on a chalkboard. Talking to my Sister about the situation, she expressed a quote she heard, "Look for the good in people and tell them what you see". Not sure of whom expressed this quote, but it made me think more in depth about what I can do to alleviate the tension.

Considering Cassie's curious nature, I decided that my behavior towards her should be positive and reinforcing. As I approached her, I told her she was very intelligent little girl. Then I invited her to go with me to the bookstore. Her eyes lit up as she accepted my invitation, thrilled to participate with this endeavor. Finding a one volume encyclopedia at the bookstore, I thought she might want to read on occasion. As I approached her with the hardcover, I told her that my parents always had books around for us to read that would make us think. My emphasis was to share the joy of reading with Cassie so she can find more information about the world.

One book does not make her an expert on any one subject but encourages her curiosity to continue to search for answers. As I watched her rifle through the encyclopedia, it made me think of the many things that have occurred recently in my life that made me happy. As I begin this term as President of Silicon Valley Chapter of AFWA, I thought about the board this year. The first highlight was the experience of everyone being so responsive at the strategic planning meeting. This is going to be a great year. We have a number of speakers lined up that will peak the interest of many and encourage more members to attend.

Every month, on the fourth Tuesday, is a highlight for me. Regardless of the challenges I face week after week, I am encouraged and motivated to maintain a ritual of attending the membership meeting. And as I step into the room, I am delighted to see the friendly faces and intelligent women. Silicon Valley AFWA is well known for making guests and members feel welcome and comfortable. I have known several other members express the same and it is my wish for everyone to spread the joy to others like Cassie greets her mornings.

Julia Becklund, President
AFWA Silicon Valley Chapter

“I was encouraged to join the organization and have never regretted the decision...”
July 2013

This is my first President's message and I have so much to say. I am honored to be part of AFWA, Silicon Valley Chapter. My thanks to our outgoing President, Sue Stokke, who has set a great example to follow. She has worked with the board to create a truly winning team. I hope to continue down this path. When I came to my first then ASWA meeting I was surprised at variety of jobs in the accounting field that is represented in our group. The speakers were very interesting and I kept on coming back. I was a guest for eighteen months.

I was encouraged to join the organization and have never regretted the decision to do so. The only time I learned more about accounting was when I was a student attending San Jose State. This organization encourages us to develop as professionals while learning more about our industry. It is important to keep learning to keep our minds sharp, and to be current, so we are legally compliant.

Our next meeting is the strategic planning meeting. In order to achieve the same level of success in this year that Sue was able achieve in her tenure we need to come together to plan for the year. Statistics show that decisions made as a group are generally have a higher correct percentage than those made by a single person for the group.

The book that I have chosen for the year is "What to Say When You Talk to Yourself" by Shad Helmstetter PhD. I first started reading this book when I was out of work and thought I would never find a job. Within a matter of weeks I had enrolled in school and gotten a job that would pay for my education. I had only read a couple chapters and things started to change in my life.

Our membership includes many people going through change (e.g., studying for the CPA exam) and I thought that this would be a good choice. We all need a cheerleader in our life at times, and sometimes that cheerleader has to come from within ourselves. I look forward to working with you and seeing you all at our next meeting..

Julia Becklund, President
AFWA Silicon Valley Chapter

“A leader is only as good as the team who supports them...”
June 2013

My two years as AFWA Chapter President are coming to a close. I started my presidency while we were still ASWA. Our organization had the huge discussion of whether to change names and rebrand the organization. Locally we had a speaker on rebranding. He spoke on why you would want to have a brand and what it means to rebrand. Eventually the majority of the chapters voted at our National Conference to change and now as members of Accounting and Financial Women's Alliance we embrace the newness and what it has to offer us and others in the accounting and finance fields.

Louise, her team and my board pulled together a fabulous Spring Gala in celebration of the changes that have occurred. We had over 60 guests in attendance and six past presidents were there. Having all these past presidents gave me pause to think about my time as Silicon Valley Chapter President.

All Past Presidents have had struggles and victories during their year in service, but the amazing thing is that there is not a Past President who has walked away without having life lessons under their belt. We each have faced different challenges and we each have found our reward in different things.

I have learned a great deal about leadership and about myself. I would never have survived the year without the great boards who have served with me. A leader is only as good as the team who supports them. A leader must learn that you can't do everything yourself and for me I relied on my board, their integrity and ability to get the job done.

On the AFWA board you learn to strategize, set goals and work toward those goals. A board member learns to work as a professional team where the role served has impact on the goals the president has set for our chapter. I learned just how much work goes on behind the scenes to make our meetings seem effortless.

We now prepare to install our new board. These volunteer positions are the preparation for leadership roles within the chapter and life. My positions on the board allowed me to grow, learn service and leadership in an environment that is safe and nurturing. The lessons in my volunteer roles sent me on a path in my professional life I would never have imagined.

My roles on the board were the training grounds I had for the three years spent as President Elect and Chapter President. I will soon be stepping into the role of support as Julia takes her year in the leadership position. The lessons learned will aid me as Immediate Past President. Leadership can be a tough task. For me, growth and change occur when I have struggles and learn to overcome hurdles. I hope that I can be the support for Julia as Immediate Past President that I found in my "Past Past" President, Lynda. I also hope that board members can use me to help them accomplish the goals they set for themselves in service to this chapter and in life.

Sue Stokke, President
Silicon Valley Chapter

“The air was electric—we wondered when it would start...”
May 2013

Do you remember the first time you saw a professional anything? Whether it was a rock star, baseball team, ballet dancer or presidential candidate, there was something electric about it. You were excited and anxious all at once. You may have screamed or cried, but it was glorious.

I had the opportunity to hear Bill Clinton, the then presidential candidate, at San Jose State University. As students we gathered on the main lawn of old San Jose State campus jostling for a position where we could see the stage. The air was electric—we wondered when it would start once the posted start time came and went. We didn't really mind waiting; we were excited about the candidate and the prospect of the future he promised.

I was enthralled watching what I imagined were Secret Service members as they skirted the crowd talking into their shoulders. I watched the other students as they danced through the crowd looking for friends or a better view of the stage.

I was in the middle of the crowd on the edge of the lawn as I waited for Mr. Clinton to show. They announced that the candidate would be arriving late; some members in the crowd grumbled, but the majority just continued to wait while carrying on idle conversations with their neighbors.

When Mr. Clinton finally did show up it was amazing! The crowd went crazy and then people really began moving about in their little 2x2 plots of land trying to find the "best" spot to watch him as he addressed the crowd. He was a very charismatic speaker, and I knew right then and there that this was a man I could vote for, and I did!

Experiences like the one I had are what the new 49er Stadium promises to provide. We will be able to enjoy the events that will happen there. This stadium is much more permanent than the one time speaking engagement a candidate had on a University campus. And even though the candidate became president for two four-year terms, this stadium will, in many ways, have a greater impact on the community in which we live.

I want to extend an invitation to each of you to join us on May 28th for our Spring Gala. Larry Stone, Santa Clara County Tax Assessor and avid sports fan, will be discussing the impact that the 49er Stadium will have on Santa Clara County. I hope to see you there.

Sue Stokke, President
Silicon Valley Chapter

“Help us to make this year’s Spring Gala event a great one as we celebrate AFWA’s 75th anniversary and our Chapter’s 35th anniversary.”
April 2013

Well I survived my first tax season and do plan on having a second. I learned a lot about the flow of work, working with clients and managing my time. I’ve been working in the field of accounting around twenty years and this was my first tax season. Accounting offers such varied career paths. This is one of the things I love about this field. Next week we celebrate the accounting profession by awarding scholarships to our worthy recipients. Our meeting is geared at the exploration of the varied paths one can take in the field of accounting. This is such a fun and rewarding meeting, and I hope that you will join us.

I also want to say a few words about next month’s Spring Gala. Thanks to Louise we have a top notch guest speaker. If you have not yet heard Larry Stone, Santa Clara County Tax Assessor, you are in for a treat. He is such a dynamic speaker and a really nice guy. When I worked for the Arts Council Silicon Valley, one of the very first events I attended was a Larry Stone Roast. For those of you who do not know—Larry Stone gets booed at a lot and makes light of the whole thing, even to the point of enjoying it! It was a fun, fun evening. More recently, while still at the Arts Council, he was honored for his philanthropic support of the arts as one of the individuals who helped the council get their start and for his continued support through the then 30 years in existence.

Larry Stone is also an avid sports fan. He has been working and promoting the idea of Santa Clara County becoming the home of a professional sports team. We have the Earthquakes and the Sharks, but he wanted something bigger. We have come close many times, but the plans have always fallen through, until now. He will be speaking about the fiscal impact of having a professional sports team, of the 49er's stature, on Santa Clara County's property values, impact for local businesses and what that will mean to us as residents of Santa Clara County. Everyone please invite your friends, colleagues, real estate agents, favorite restaurant owners, financial advisors, and neighbors—the possibilities are endless.

Please help us to make this year's Spring Gala event a great one as we celebrate AFWA’s 75th anniversary and our Chapter's 35th anniversary.

Sue Stokke, President
Silicon Valley Chapter

“If you are not working toward your goal, ask yourself if your goal is really what your heart desires.”
March 2013

I’ve been thinking about goals as I work towards taking the four parts of the CPA exam. I’m trying to study every day and work and have a family life and friends. I have not studied this hard and yet feel I have not studied enough. Everyone I have asked who has taken the exam has said the same thing. I’ve realized my goal is not a measure of my IQ but rather of my discipline to work towards my goal to pass these exams.

The difficult part is to figure out how to build that bridge of discipline toward my goal while maintaining a balance with the other aspects of my life. How much wasted time can I capture?

I have given up TV and no longer have a big cable bill. That has gained me multiple hours of my time as well as peace and tranquility of the space around me.

I am getting up early each morning but hey, a girl has to sleep. Wouldn’t that be great? No more sleeping. There’s a waste of a good 6-8 hours, but I digress.

Capturing wasted time is only a part of the challenge. The real challenge towards achieving goals is to use your time wisely. Adjust your action steps.

So what is a goal? The second definition is the one I’ll use: the end toward which effort is directed.

A goal has to inspire you enough to actually work toward it. If you are not working toward your goal, ask yourself if your goal is really what your heart desires. Goals that are achieved are dreams that you are willing to take the needed steps, to build that bridge and then having the courage to cross that bridge. What goal inspires you to build bridges?

Sue Stokke, President
Silicon Valley Chapter

“...with this clean slate we call a New Year, what do you want to do with it?”
January 2013

January is here and we again have the opportunity to examine a year gone by and a new year full of potential. It is the beginning of four more years in the white house, new tax laws to avoid that fiscal cliff, a new name for ASWA, and the year of the snake. All that aside, what are your personal reflections of the past year and goals for the next twelve months?

For me, last year was the end of a 12-year position with an organization I love. At first was shock and this followed by relief. I had been too close to see the effect the old job was having on me. It was a good lesson to remind myself to listen to the small messages our body gives us.

Last year I had two of my daughters who had moved back home leave again. One of those daughters gave me my first grandson. This is the purpose of being a mom. Teaching our children to grasp life and venture out on their own and sometimes in the process create the next generation. Oh, and by the way, people are right when they say grandchildren are great fun, we should have them first.

Those are my two big highlights and when I think about their effect on me I see even the trial of last year has turned into the opportunity of this year. My mind is once again engaged in the learning process of how to be the grandma I want to be, a new job using a new set of skills and an upcoming test, one of four.

So with this clean slate we call a New Year, what do you want to do with it? What big plans do you have? What small victories will you grab? I would love to see you at our tax update meeting in January. Be prepared to share a goal for the New Year and a brag about the last.

Happy New Year!!

Sue Stokke, President
Silicon Valley Chapter

“I hope that each of you will find your membership to ASWA as rewarding as I have.”
November 2012

Here we are in autumn when the weather can't decide whether to scorch or chill the earth, but we know that those perfect crisp days are ahead of us. As you know my job search was kicked into high gear last month with me looking at continuing to work in the nonprofit field where the majority of my experience lies. But then, out of the blue, I receive a call from a CPA review course I had contacted back in 2009. They were checking up on my progress with the CPA exam. I had applied and started studying but had also stopped when the demands of a new position as Director of Finance set in. It got me thinking. I had used much of the summer to relax and breathe; to get my bearings again. I applied for jobs in nonprofit and had several interviews and made the second tier on several, but unless I achieved some sort of certification I would be forever limited with my position. I talked with many I knew who had sat for the CPA exam, some passing and some not. Did they take a reviewcourse? Did they pass on the first try? What were the thoughts on the duel path of the CPA certification? So, what did I decide to do? I contacted the state board to reactivate my application and receive a new Notice to Schedule, started a CPA review course and created a study plan to get me through the four tests.

After starting all this I found myself with two jobs in my forefront. One in the nonprofit field doing the same thing I did before but in a larger agency with a Director of Finance above the position I applied for. And the second with a CPA firm we all know and love. This firm needed a Firm Admin, but with accounting duties. I met to discuss what this role would be and shared my plans for tackling the four exams in my future. I went home from the conversation with a lot to think about. My gut told me what to do but I still needed to talk with my mentor, "my Monica" or "Momica" as my daughters refer to Monica Toumani. I worked with Monica at Arts Council with her in the role of Director of Finance. Because of her willingness to teach me what she knew and to be my advocate, I moved into her role when she retired. We have an uncanny connection and are often thinking the same things, practically reading each other's mind. I called her about my two job prospects. The nonprofit job would be familiar, and I knew I'd be able to do that job. The CPA firm would be very different from my last role, but would allow me to use my skills at time management and organization as well as accounting. And would put me in a place to really reach, study, and pass those darn exams. Suddenly Monica says, "Is this with Lynda Boman!?" "Yes." She proceeded to tell me that in her opinion that would be such a good fit, that Lynda would be fair and be a mentor to me. My gut had been telling me that all along, but to have Monica say it made me believe it in my mind.

Why do I share these thoughts with you? It is because I hope that each of you will find your membership to ASWA as rewarding as I have. I was invited to my first ASWA meeting by my mentor, Monica. I actually was a member for a couple of years, only attending now and then. Monica no longer attended regularly, and I didn't know anyone else. But by only attending now and then I wasn't really getting to know anyone although I always felt welcome. Believe it or not I have struggled to overcome my natural tendency to be a shy person. I had to decide if I was going to continue to pay for a membership I was not using to its fullest. I made the decision to continue and made the commitment to attend as many meetings as possible and to break out of my shell by introducing myself to someone new each month. The next year I joined the board and went to the annual conference. At that annual conference I got to know Lynda, Monika, Trisha, Mariette, Susan, Marilyn, Lili and members of other chapters. I found a group of women who experienced success, struggled, conquered, and supported each other. I have continued to get to know more of our members and I have to say you are a wonderful group of people. I would not be where I am today without the lessons I have learned in ASWA, the viewpoints I have been exposed to, and the encouragement I have received. I know that we learn about regulations and new technologies. We listen to inspirational speakers talk about a variety of topics as they share their life lessons. We earn CPE credits. We have the opportunity to learn leadership by joining the board. But the most important thing this society gives us is colleagues that are friends. I hope to see you at our next meeting, a week earlier than usual this month, on November 13. I hope that you feel welcome and introduce yourself to a new person. Maybe that person will be me; I'd love to get to know you.

Sue Stokke, President
Silicon Valley Chapter

The 2012 Annual Conference for Women in Accounting
October 2012

All excited about the Annual Conference. Our Chapter will be well represented in San Diego. Looking forward to new, fresh faces and catching up with people I have met at last year's conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. It is amazing how a year has flown by so quickly. Hope everyone has a safe journey to the conference. For those of you who are unable to take the opportunity to be enriched with meeting thousands of members thoughout the Nation, we are looking forward to telling you about our experiences.

Sue Stokke, President
Silicon Valley Chapter

“Learning to effectively brag about myself will take work and introspection.”
September 2012

So here I am, still unemployed, having enjoyed my summer but now I need to put the pedal to the metal and find my next dream job. I've had one interview and I must say that I could have performed better; it has been a long time since my last interview twelve years ago. With this job search in my future our "Brag Without Blowing It" has become more essential. Learning to effectively brag about myself will take work and introspection. I will need a clear sense of who I am, my accomplishments, and what I'm working on right now. It will also be helpful to get input from others on how they perceive me and what qualities in me they admire.

Join me in this process as we learn how to talk about how we got where we are; we've been accomplishing things our whole life and they lead us to where we are now. I'm asking each of you to take the "Take 12" self-evaluation to help you dig out the nuggets that are meaningful and become the foundation to build memorable stories about yourself.

Here is the "Take 12":

  • What would you and others say are five of your personality pluses?
  • What are the ten most interesting things you have done or that have happened to you?
  • What do you do for a living and how did you end up doing it?
  • What do you like/love about your current job/career?
  • How does your job/career use your skills and talents, and what projects are you working on right now that best showcase them?
  • What career successes are you most proud of having accomplished (from current position and past jobs)?
  • What new skills have you learned in the last year?
  • What obstacles have you overcome to get where you are today, both professionally and personally, and what essential lessons have you learned from some of your mistakes?
  • What training/education have you completed and what did you gain from those experiences?
  • What professional organizations are you associated with and in what way – member, board, treasurer or the like?
  • How do you spend your time outside of work, including hobbies, interests, sports, family, and volunteer activities?
  • In what ways are you making a difference in people's lives?

All twelve of these can be completed solely by you, but if you're feeling brave get input from friends, co-workers, boss, etc. The answers to these questions are your best self. The fragments are actually interconnected and create the story of you. Bragging comes alive with details and stories so include many.

This is the start of your brag bag; your accomplishments, passions, and interests. The details help you describe who you are personally and professionally. Next you will create brag bites, snippets of information expressed in a short pithy manner. Dropped into a conversation they become a Bragologue.

Join us at our September meeting, 50 Shades of …..A Women's Retirement. I'll also share examples of how you can turn mere facts into an interesting dialogue, the kind people will remember. See you then.

Sue Stokke, President
Silicon Valley Chapter

“...let’s look at the myths that exist with regards to bragging about ourselves.”
August 2012

Have you been able to take in some of the Olympic Games from London? Boy talk about people who have some bragging rights, the athletics of the Olympic Games sure do. These unique individuals have the world singing their praises.

Unfortunately most of us do not have a world audience observing our accomplishments. Even our bosses, friends and co-workers who will recognize our performance in life with complimentary terms to our face do not necessarily go to those making job decisions singing our praises. Why? Because they need to sing their own praises. You may have been the one who finds the million dollar error, but your boss will go to his boss and talk about how he knew that accounts were off and put together a team and directed the analysis needed. The result is a million dollar savings. Of course my example is an exaggeration but you get the picture. So, let's look at the myths that exist with regards to bragging about ourselves.

Myth 1: A JOB WELL DONE SPEAKS FOR ITSELF. You see from the above example; that may not be true. Don't be afraid to let people know who are and what you are accomplishing. Stand out in the eyes of not only your boss, but their boss, and their boss right up to the top. Don't stop there plant seeds for your future to those outside your industry, recruiters, associates, personal friends and acquaintances. The art of bragging requires you show up prepared with stories about yourself so that your face time with others puts you in the light you want.

Myth 2: BRAGGING IS SOMETHING YOU DO DURING PERFORMANCE REVIEWS. The bragging we want to learn is subtle and works seamlessly into your social and business interactions. You do it right and your performance review has a better chance of being positive.

Myth 3: HUMILITY GETS YOU NOTICED. Children are taught humility early on because they do not possess the skills necessary to talk about their accomplishments with grace; they just want to toot their horns. We are on a journey to reconcile the virtue of humility with the need to self-promote, personalize your message and get excited!

Myth 4: I DON'T HAVE TO BRAG; PEOPLE WILL DO IT FOR ME. Let this be one tool in your strategy, but there is no substitute for you!

Myth 5: MORE IS BETTER. The art of bragging will require you to learn to take the temperature of your audience and learn to recognize enough.

Myth 6: GOOD GIRLS DON'T BRAG. Many of our parents told us we could be and do anything, but…. we were also told not to celebrate our own glory. It is time to step into the limelight and present a fuller picture of ourselves. Present yourself with conviction and confidence. Use direct eye contact, a sense of humor and conversational speaking style. Be enthusiastic and worthy of the recognition you deserve.

Myth 7: BRAG IS A FOUR-LETTER WORD. Learning to brag is not about being something you aren't or pulling the wool over someone's eyes, but rather putting forth the best authentic parts of you with pride and passion. Tell your story, showcase your strengths; build a bridge to better opportunities.

To take this journey with me you may need to start with a clean slate and drop the myths you hold, but I think we can learn to feel comfortable and sincere sharing our feats as we took our own horns with blowing it.

Sue Stokke, President
Silicon Valley Chapter

“In the upcoming year I want to explore with you how to share your brand...”
July 2012

This past year we have been thinking about our personal brands, "Brand You" and you should have some great ideas about who you are and what you want to project to the world.

June's speaker, Michael Webb, talked about methods for branding yourself on LinkedIn. After his presentation I looked at my
LinkedIn and realized that the only time I used it was after I heard a speaker that inspired me and a few groups I follow. But now, in retrospect, I should have been building my connections to all the people in my field, ones I do business with, speakers that come to our ASWA meetings and other meetings I attend. I should have been expanding on my profile and the things that make me an expert in what I do. The possibilities are endless. Now that the haze is lifting I'm seeing the light of this new generation of information and seeing the uses for it. I vow to check my LinkedIn daily, okay maybe weekly, habits come slowly. For those who are job searching, employers and placement firms are using LinkedIn as part of the evaluation they do on prospective hires. For those of you who are not searching the future is unknown and it is best to be prepared.

In the upcoming year I want to explore with you how to share your brand with the world. This all started when I read the book Brag! The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It by Peggy Klaus, a book I highly recommend. There are ten chapters in the book so each month we can take one more step toward developing what Peggy calls your "Bragologue."

Lesson One: Forget everything your mother taught you about not being a bragger, that people will notice when you do a good job, that you should not talk about yourself and upstage your brother, boyfriend, husband. Let's start looking for the solution to being able to talk about ourselves and our accomplishments in a way that is not arrogant but rather inviting. You need to feel comfortable, natural and uniquely you so that your personality also shines through. We will learn what to say about ourselves and how to say it with style and grace.

Peggy says that bragging is an art. It involves taking the temperature of your audience. Only speak with sincerity, use a storytelling fashion. Keep your stories fresh but always be well prepared. Learn the mastery of turning negatives into positives. Be funny if you are funny. But most importantly be you.

In the upcoming year we can explore bragging together, learn and have some fun with it. We will also have plenty of speakers to help us on this journey as well as speakers to keep us knowledgeable and informed in our work. Join me in my bragging journey.

Sue Stokke, President
Silicon Valley Chapter

“Brand You” has given members and guests a chance to reflect on their own brand.
June 2012

I have come to the end of the first year of my Chapter Presidency and my position as Director of Finance. Being a leader and manager are both difficult and rewarding. I have learned a tremendous amount in both roles. When I first joined this board I had no idea of the types of lessons that would come my way. Of course, each past president has had their own lessons with both struggles and triumphs. With a new board taking on their new roles I'm excited to see what things we will accomplish and overcome.

In the past year the theme "Brand You" has given members and guests a chance to reflect on their own brand. We learned from Women Entrepreneurs about the challenges and skills needed to succeed in business. We discovered our own four letters and what they tell us about our own distinct personality traits and how knowing our strengths and weaknesses can help us navigate how we interact with the world around us. We also had a communication presentation about how to give and receive constructive feedback. We received advice on how to live our life's dreams, overcoming obstacles and building a network of support.

Last month at the Wine Gala we discovered branding is not just a logo, name or tag line but more about the emotions behind a name, how to build toward an emotional response and how to distinguish ourselves in the right niche. All this as well as the technical learning we've had this past year round us out as strong employees, managers and business owners.

Our June meeting will be the installation of the new board. We will also have a speaker on social media which has become a big addition to our networking toolbox. I hope to see many of you there to learn and meet your new board members.

I'd also like to invite each of you to our strategic planning session which is open to all members of the chapter. This meeting will be on Saturday, July 14 from 9am – 2 or 3pm, cost will be $20. At strategic planning a theme for the year is discussed and twelve months of meetings we feel will be beneficial to our members and guests are planned. We line up speakers to present at each meeting; you may have the perfect contact for one of those meetings. The committee for November's silent auction/ nonauction will be created. Next year we celebrate our chapter's 35th year and we want the May Wine Gala to be extra special. We will need a team of volunteers to make it a success; I already have a couple of volunteers but more are needed. These are ways to serve your chapter without committing to a year on the board. I'm looking forward to another year of discovery, growth and new opportunities

Sue Stokke, President
Silicon Valley Chapter

“This organization’s goal is to share and advocate
for each other.”
May 2012

I do a lot of thinking about this wonderful group of professionals that we call ASWA Silicon Valley Chapter. The board has been saying, "Our strength is our members." We have a wide variety of skills and work in many areas of the accounting and finance professions. We are here to continue our education, to network and make friends along the way. As we get to know each other we find it easier to uplift and support one another. This organization’s goal is to share and advocate for each other.

As a board we have grown close and many questions both technical and career oriented have flown between us. On several occasions a myriad of emails have flown among us as one of our members deals with a situation. I recently had an encounter of my own at work that troubled me and I called on two members who have the expertise and experience I felt could shed light on my circumstances. They shared their expertise with me and gave me tools to help me navigate the problem as well as sound advice on how to proceed to a solution that protects my organization and myself. They pointed me to the regulations and procedures that have been put in place by the many who have walked the path we each walk now.

When you attend meetings be sure you say hello to someone new; I especially struggled with this in the beginning. Talk with a member or guest you have not gotten the chance to know. Find out what type of work they do and where they work. Bring business cards to exchange and remember to write down three things about a person on cards you receive. Please take a moment to make our guests feel welcome and introduce them to Wendy our membership chair. Our Wine Gala is a great opportunity to ask a friend or colleague to attend. It will give you both an opportunity to learn about wine and branding which is the topic of the evening. Plus you can use your guest as an excuse to network by introducing them to fellow members; you never know who can be an asset you can call on later.

Sue Stokke, President
Silicon Valley Chapter

“ greatest mentor and advocate was the one who introduced me to ASWA”
April 2012

When I joined ASWA I spent my first couple of years attending a meeting now and then, paying my yearly dues and getting to know a few of the members. My employer paid for my dues, but when the budget tightened at work I lost that benefit. I had to decide, "Was this organization worth paying for myself?"

I digress to tell you a story of my college days and my Macro Economics class. I had a teacher who had graduated from Chicago University (big on econ studies), and had already written his own book which was the text for the class. The book was yet unpublished and we were part of his testing ground. I hated him and his class. I was in the bathroom complaining to a friend about this teacher/class and a young girl came out of a stall and said, "Do you mean Paul Harvel? I loved his class!" That got me thinking. Was he a horrible teacher or was I the horrible student?

I resolved to attend the next class with a new attitude. I went to class early and got a seat right up front and listened with pleasure, sitting on the edge of my seat leaning into his words. I began participating, answering and asking questions. That class turned into one of my favorites AND I also took Micro Economics with the same teacher. So, I resolved to begin the same tactic with ASWA. I attended most of the meetings that year. At the end of that year I was asked to join the board. I attended a few board meetings to get a feel for what was expected of me and decided to give it a try. That same year I attended my first annual conference (the old JNC).

Serving on the board allowed me to make friends and really get to know some of the members. I started feeling more at home at our meetings. I started benefitting further from our speakers. I learned how to handle myself in a position of responsibility. So had the chapter changed? Or had I changed?

I hope that all of you find value in the programs your board prepares for you. I expect that some topics are more valuable than others but even the others can give you food for thought or introduce you to aspects of business that are new and interesting. I hope that you have been able to network with others who can be a resource to you in your job and to even make a friend who can be a source of pleasure in your personal life. I found my greatest mentor and advocate was the one who introduced me to ASWA.

You may wonder what the value of serving on the ASWA Silicon Valley Chapter board is. Let me tell you a little about our board. We have had a relatively young board in that we have several board members who are serving on a board for the first or second time, a few more seasoned board members serving on the ASWA board for the first time and several seasoned ASWA board members. While we did not start with all the experience in the world, we did start with a love for the chapter and great enthusiasm. With so many new board members and the lack of continuity of board members passing the torch, so to speak, we have board members who have learned on the job and/or reinvented their jobs. At first it was tough and we experienced a few hiccups, but I want to share with you who this board was and what this board has become.

We have Past Presidents who have stepped back onto the board. They remind me that the heart of our organization is our members and the skills/knowledge we each have to share. They know a successful chapter takes many hands and have stepped in to share their energy, skills, maturity and enthusiasm. We have experienced board members who have served on other well run boards and know that it takes consistent attention but also know the effort they put into an organization matches the value they receive. And last we have our new board members who have served one or maybe two years. They came to our board not really knowing what to expect but ready to learn and roll up their sleeves and try what was asked of them. These are the ones I have seen tremendous growth in. Everyone stepped onto the board not knowing exactly what we as a board wanted to do or how the new group would function but the more we worked and made decisions the more confidence I see each board member has.

We now sit at a board meeting and share many desires and ideas for the chapter. These members have put so much into this year. The qualities our board has shown are what make great employees. Leadership is something ASWA offers its members. Board positions are a chance to experience leadership in safety and receive mentoring by the leaders that have preceded them. I hope that all our members get the chance to meet and get to know this wonderful board. I hope that those members who would like to step into a leadership role take the chance, live big and try it. I always remind myself that I will only get out what I am willing to put in. That lesson has served me well in my personal life as well as my career.

Sue Stokke, President
Silicon Valley Chapter

“...spring forward challenge!”
March 2012

Did everyone remember to "spring forward"? The first week can be tough on your internal clock, but I do love this time of the year. Maybe because I'm a spring baby, but I really think it is the additional sunlight in the evening. I love the added light to the end of my day. The extra length to my day allows me to get some of those projects done at night after work and out of my weekend schedule.

We are creatures of habit and even that unseen concept of time does play into our lives. I'm still waking up a hour before my alarms goes off, but it is dark and when I look at my clock I still feel tired. I'm not sure if I was tired before I see the time but once my eyes land on the red glow of the clock I am. And then there is that one clock in the house that didn't get adjusted. You're busy doing life and you find yourself checking the time, but it is off. Now you question yourself, "Is that time real and the other clock wrong or vise versa?"

I know many of you are in the habit of attending our monthly membership meetings and I always look forward to seeing everyone. I'm so pleased that many of you have been inviting guests to our monthly meetings. The level of energy in the room is palpable. I love seeing the new faces and knowing that we are drawing on new industries and expertise which is such a valuable asset to being a member of ASWA. Countless times I have been able to seek the advice and opinions from our members who work in a field of accounting or finance that is different from my own. Or they are someone who has more years of experience in my own field and can offer sage advice on a particular situation.

I have a spring forward challenge for everyone. Keep inviting guests and every guest who attends during March, April, May and June will give you an entry into the boards "Spring Forward Drive." We will have a drawing at the June meeting just before the installation of the new board. The winner of the drawing will receive a free future membership meeting dinner and a special gift from the board. I hope everyone will have fun with this challenge and I hope that we even see some new members from our Chapter's efforts.

Almost every accounting and finance person has the opportunity to use Excel. I personally use it every day at work. The more I learn about the program, the more I realize Excel could be doing so much more for me. So, get on the phone or email and ask all your accounting friends, co-workers and acquaintances to join us. We have a fabulous, knowledgeable speaker from TechMentor presenting at the March meeting. Unlike Excel classes we've had in the past this will not be hands on. This will allow the speaker to cover more topics, both high level and entry and we will have more time to ask specific questions.

So, spring into action and participate in our "Spring Forward Drive" by bringing a guest. I look forward to seeing all of you and meeting your guests!!

Sue Stokke, President
Silicon Valley Chapter

“...take a deep breath and slow down. Set your priorities and work your plan.”
February 2012

I know that many of you are heading into the craziness that is tax season, budgeting or regular crazy of accounting.

For me, I'm recuperating from elective surgery that has put me out more than I expected. Not that the doctor lied to me but that I lied to myself and thought I would breeze through recovery.

So, I'm working, my real job, short hours from home, squeezing in ASWA, light duty as Granma and spending a lot of time off my bottom. That means more time in my head; arrgh, more time thinking.

Why didn't I get that project done before my surgery?

What do I really want to do with this situation?

When am I going to find time to do x?

Where is such and such that I think I need desperately now?

How am I going to get everything done when I can only sit for a short period of time?

Take a deep breath and slow down. I need to view this time as a gift, to set priorities that work towards my life's purpose. This is all part of being mindful

For everyone else, take a deep breath and slow down. Set your priorities and work your plan. This is all part of being in accounting.

Sue Stokke, President
Silicon Valley Chapter

“The one thing I want to do... is to look at what I've done right in the past year.”
January 2012

As I start the year 2012, I think about the year that has ended and the things I want to improve on moving into a brand new, fresh year. Isn't that how we get to our New Year's Resolutions? We decide what we want to change and then we say I'm going to do X, Y and Z.

I eat too much and I don't exercise enough. I can spend too much and bring too much into my home without scaling back on what I already have. I leave things to the last minute and then have to play the catch up game. I tend to work on what is in front of me at the risk of those longer-term projects. So… I'm going to watch what I eat, exercise 5 times a week, make a budget and stick to it, stop leaving things to the last minute and prioritize my work. Whew!! I might be able to do that for one week.

I could do what successful businesses do. After a comprehensive analysis they would develop a business plan and plot the steps needed to reach the desired outcomes. The development plan would include the steps and tasks needed to reach to goals and overcome the threats and obstacles. That plan would be implemented by various people/departments in the company. Many New Year's Resolutions are personal plans that act the same way. Unfortunately, not many of us make it even into February with our resolutions. We make them too complicated or cumbersome for one person to accomplish.

The one thing I want to do, which a business would do, is to look at what I've done right in the past year. I've made small strides in my personal eating and exercise plan. I have curtailed many of my purchases by asking myself, "Is this a need or a want?" (I still get wants but far fewer.) I have made certain areas of my life the "No Last Minute Zone" with success. I have made some drastic needed changes in my personal and professional life that have been met with recognition and reward.

Now, fueled with the successes I have accomplished, I can look at those things I want to change and see where there is a common thread. My successes come from times when I am mindful of what I do and the choices I make. This can now be my theme for 2012. I will aim to be more mindful in my daily life.

So what is your one theme for the year? Start thinking about your successes last year and the things you want to change or improve in this year. Make a list and study it until you unearth your one thing that will have the most impact in your 2012. Maybe for you it is to be more aggressive, or less. Maybe it's to slow down or speed up, speak up or keep quiet. Try something on for a couple of weeks. You can always adjust your plan just as any good business plan allows. Treat this as part of our Discover U year.

Happy New Year everyone!

Sue Stokke, President
Silicon Valley Chapter

“ the balance that allows you to enjoy the season.”
December 2011

I hope that all of you are enjoying the Holidays this year. This is a time for family, friends, socializing, eating, shopping, decorating, wrapping, writing cards, watching Christmas movies and parties and did I mention eating? It is all fun but without a solid plan you can find yourself in stress-ville. Don’t let the Holidays take over but seek the balance that allows you to enjoy the season. Some of the tips we learned at the last meeting were to shop early, too late for that. So instead shop and wrap all in one weekend but make the weekend fun by sharing it with a loved one, divide and conquer, AND getting to the mall early when you can get rock star parking. Or, how about delegating some of those tasks to family members? Gift cards! Maybe you just don't have to do ALL of “those things”, prioritize and do what makes you happiest.

Did I mention the eating? I love to cook, bake and make candies. This year I have dress in mind to wear on New Year's Eve and so I have been exercising and watching my calories. I have a plan and I'm working my plan. I go to the gym, watch what I eat and make a plan before I step into a party. All those yummy appetizers add up. And I tell myself that once I'm where I want to be I can eat more but right now keep that little dress in mind. A picture of the dress is printed out and on my monitor at work and in my wallet but most importantly in the front of my mind. I bought a skirt for Christmas parties and it is a size smaller than the last time. That makes me happy.

What to do about the shopping? This year I'm getting experiences for the adults, another idea from the last meeting. It is so hard to buy for adult children and returning is a drag. This year I bought them things to experience. I have three very different daughters, fiancés and a grandson. Monterey Bay Aquarium yearly pass for one, beauty treatments for another, and movies passes with PF Chang's (they have a gluten free menu) for the third, go-cart tour in San Francisco for the sports car buff (LOL) and more movies tickets for the other fiancé. The grandbaby, of course gets presents of clothes mostly. He's only 9 months so he won't care this year; in fact he already has the soft soled shoes and sleepers. He'll also get one toy which may stay at Grandma's house. I get each of the big “kids” a small toy from Santa, done. Well the purchasing of all is not done but I have the plan in mind.

The decorating is happening this weekend, finish the shopping next week and food gets purchased the week before the event so I have plenty of time for friends and family. My best advice is: have a plan and work your plan, but don't work too hard, remember to enjoy this magical time of year.

Sue Stokke, President
Silicon Valley Chapter

What is a personal “Brand”?
November 2011

I went to a session at the National Conference that I want to share with you. The title of the session was "How Successful Women Create Brands That Make Them Unforgettable" by David Pinkley. It is appropriate for all of us as we forge ahead in our "Brand You" year.

What is a personal "Brand"? A Brand is a way of talking about yourself that allows others to understand what you do and remember you. A Brand is not what you do but how you do it differently. You are not looking for a tag line like Nike’s "Just Do It," but rather the way you do a job that makes you unique.

For job seekers remember, your resume is being read by someone who knows what tasks the job requires and the interview is being conducted by someone who knows what is involved in doing the job. What will set you apart is HOW you do it, not what you do. Be able to talk about how you do it better.

Here are some examples he gave:

Emily, an Internal Auditor, is looking to move to a different company. As an internal auditor she may be viewed as an intruder by fellow workers, but Emily always gets her information and is well respected by her coworkers. When David was talking to her about how she did her job and how she got coworkers to reveal department information, she said, "I don't ask for information, I ask them to show me what they do." People love to show others what they do and what they are working on.

Megan is a Controller who also seeks information from co-workers. Her strength is that she listens and is not afraid of the pregnant pause. And, people just keep talking to fill the silence.

Nicole is a successful CFO who has had many jobs because of her ability to reorganize departments. She is sought after because she can come in to a company, take what they have and with a minimal addition she successfully creates productive departments. Nicole realized she was an interior decorator of departments; she just adds a few new things and rearranges what is there.

The keys are: you have to be authentic and you need to be specific. Brands that are fake do not work and generalities are not credible or memorable.

I have the ability to talk to non accountant types and have them comprehend accounting. This helps me get other departments to appreciate what I need and why I ask for certain things. All organizations have to deal with the outside world but in the case of the nonprofit we would not exist without funding from external sources. We are governed by a board of directors, most of which are not from finance. Being able to communicate this way has been useful in dealing with all these aspects of my world.

The last point David made was, "In one word: What do you do better than your peers?" So I asked myself, "Communicate?" No, that is the hardest part of any job. Bridge?... Explain?... Maybe. I think I will still be hashing out how to phrase my brand. I hope November's speaker who is a life coach for both personal and professional goals will help me. I hope to see you at the November meeting.

Sue Stokke, President
Silicon Valley Chapter

“We can’t do everything all the time...”
October 2011

Why is it that our lives are so filled and when we try to add more on it tips out of balance? I have just had a wonderful week with my sister, Kathy, visiting. We took in the Monterey Bay Aquarium with my daughter and grandson. We hiked in some local parks. We went to Fleet Week and walked about 46 blocks by the end of the day, but came home with two funny San Francisco Trolley Car experiences. I took her to IKEA and REI for her first time. Eating, shopping, walking and walking, as Kathy says, “Our dogs are barking.” Today, her last day we are taking it easy, but as the end of all vacations for me I suddenly realize my life has been marching away.

Europeans manage to take month long vacations and come back to a relatively calm life. We Americans can't even take a week off without feeling like we are letting everything go. And I suppose it is because we are letting everything go. Do I not plan enough? Or do I plan too much? Am I doing too much? Or am I not doing enough? The ying and yang of life.

My oldest daughter is currently staying with me in preparation for ankle surgery. She feels bad that she can't contribute more so I have asked her to be my temporary life coach. Her mission is to help me clutter clear (my house is going from being a two member house to a one member house), life balance (Greek-ness, which I can't remember why I said that to her) and life energy. When she was an air crewman in the Navy she deployed several times a year, leaving behind a house, bills, family and friends. She learned to prioritize and come back to things later. Isn't that what we all need? We can't do everything all the time.

When I Google life balance you read that when you decide what to work on and put effort to your goals, projects and tasks that really matter you are in better balance. I read that you need to build downtime into your schedule but also remember a little relaxation goes a long way...

Sue Stokke, President
Silicon Valley Chapter

“becoming the best YOU...”
September 2011

Here I am in my second month as the President of our Silicon Valley Chapter and Director of Finance at Arts Council. I'm also a mother, sister, friend and a new grandma as well as all the other roles I play. I feel blessed that I have an active, engaged board. In life we have many duties and obligations that pull us in several directions.

As women, many of us are accustomed to this, but as Lynda and I were discussing it can sometimes feel like you're sitting on an old style record player and you need to hang on or you are a plate spinner trying to keep all your spinning plates from falling, all of which can be exhausting.

In times like this it is good to recognize those in our lives whom we can rely on to step in, offer help, or support. It is also helpful to recognize what is important. For me my girls and grandson always come first and thankfully they understand that I have a job that requires my time and energy. In fact, they are happy that I have a job I love and have been recognized for the hard work and years of dedication I have put in.

When I was thinking about becoming ASWA Chapter President my girls supported me yet cautioned me against taking on more than I could chew, but I knew that I wanted to commit to this chapter and help it grow. That means I'm dedicated to helping each of you grow and reach your personal potential. Becoming your best can mean improving your professional skills, but becoming the best YOU requires digging deep into who you are.

One of the things I like about ASWA is that we are aware that the soft skills in our careers and life can be as important as technical knowledge. Most of us can identify our strengths, but knowing your weaknesses can be even more instructive. Where I'm weak is where I need to ask for help and assistance. I have found I can even turn weakness into strength with the right mindset or learn from other's strengths.

Understanding myself has helped me in my interactions with coworkers, family, friends and adversaries. I have found that communication can be one of the toughest things I do. It was always the thing I was dinged on in my job reviews because my Monica (Toumani) said we all need to improve in that area.

It takes two to interact, but I only have control over myself. Yes I said two, so that means when you listen you must take an active role in communication. Moreover, I adjust my communication depending on the audience. Wouldn't it be great to have a better understanding of yourself? I can hardly wait to delve into myself at this month's meeting as we discover more about the Myers Briggs research. Be sure you check out so you’re ready to get as much as you can out of the meeting. Oh, and by the way, I’m an ENTJ. What are you?

Sue Stokke, President
Silicon Valley Chapter

“as we embark on a year of learning about ourselves...”
August 2011

I am very excited about being the Silicon Valley Chapter President. I will do my best to serve this chapter in a meaningful way. A lot of changes are occurring for me as I enter this upcoming year as ASWA President. I am a new “Mama Sue” to a sweet baby boy, Lukas Alessio, compliments of my youngest daughter, LaLandé. That has been a big change and I am again awed by the love and connection I have to this new life.

I have also been promoted to Director of Finance at the Arts Council Silicon Valley. This has been very exciting but also has more responsibilities. I was even in the "People on the Move" in the Silicon Valley Business Journal. The Arts Council's Director of Communications has helped me with the content and wording of both the profile on the Arts Council website as well as my LinkedIn account. If you are not LinkedIn with me you should be.

I will be posting as much as I can to promote our ASWA Silicon Valley Chapter. It would also be a great way for me to get to know some of you and you me. As with many of you, LinkedIn is still a new experience for me and I'm trying to figure out the best way to use it.

This year I hope will be filled with self discovery and increased awareness as we embark on a year of learning about ourselves and how to promote ourselves, both personally and as an ASWA Chapter. This all started when I read the book Brag! The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It by Peggy Klaus. In the book she talks about the fallacies we live by about bragging. Especially as women we are often taught that it is unladylike to toot your own horn. She has many examples of the right way to brag and thoughtful exercises to help you find your story. It is through an interesting story that talk about yourself goes from bragging to interest.

This year we have planned a lineup of membership meetings that will help us all to learn how to toot without blowing it. We have meetings planned about the Myers Briggs research into personality types, learning communication techniques to give and accept criticism and other needed interactions, life balance, using social media as well as some important accounting topics that will qualify for CPE credits. I hope you join me and the current board for an exciting line up of topics.

Sue Stokke, President
Silicon Valley Chapter

Chapter Presidents
  1. 1977-1978 Augusta Murphy
  2. 1978-1979 Jeanie Battes
  3. 1979-1980 Nancy Smith
  4. 1980-1981 Mary Wachtel
  5. 1981-1982 Flo Gosney
  6. 1982-1983 Bonnie Miller, CPA
  7. 1983-1984 Bonnie Miller, CPA
  8. 1984-1985 Barbara Breaux
  9. 1985-1986 Barbara Breaux
  10. 1986-1987 Mary Roensch
  11. 1987-1988 Jo Queen
  12. 1988-1989 Marie Quinn
  13. 1989-1990 Pamela Hedblad, CPA
  14. 1990-1991 Claudine Perkins
  15. 1991-1992 Sandy Skaggs, CPA
  16. 1992-1993 Barbara Piper, CPA
  17. 1993-1994 Sue Bittleston, CPA
  18. 1994-1995 Connie Tritt, CPA
  19. 1995-1996 Lisa Glibas, CPA
  20. 1996-1997 Julie Velasquez, CPA
  21. 1997-1998 Susan Lange
  22. 1998-1999 Marilyn Higgins Crowley, CPA
  23. 1999-2000 Kyczy Hawk, CPA / Glenda Donate
  24. 2000-2001 Glenda Donate
  25. 2001-2002 Monika Miles, CPA (National President 2011-2012)
  26. 2002-2003 Wendy Matthews
  27. 2003-2004 Alicia Ledbetter
  28. 2004-2005 Rebecca Tucker
  29. 2005-2006 Rebecca Tucker
  30. 2006-2007 Susan Wright
  31. 2007-2008 Elissa Wolf
  32. 2008-2009 Mariette Lasley
  33. 2009-2010 Lynda Boman, CPA
  34. 2010-2011 Lili Clay
  35. 2011-2013 Sue Stokke
  36. 2013-2014 Julia Becklund
  37. 2014-2015 Nicole Letellier, CPA
  38. 2015-2016 Eileen Perry
  39. 2016-2017 Edronda Guiriba, CPA
  40. 2017-2018 Nicole Sheets, CPA