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October 13, 2021

My Most Anticipated List for Scaling New Heights 2021: Sessions, Socials, and Strategy

Richard Roppa-Roberts

This year’s Scaling New Heights is going to be a Texas-sized offering of content and community.  So many great opportunities to learn and connect that, in fact, navigating it all at the moment might feel like trying to drive a car through a twister.  It’s easy to get swept along, and then suddenly it’s over!  So, here are some strategies, sessions, and general advice on making the most of your Scaling experience.


If you have never been to Scaling New Heights, haven’t been in a while, or especially if you’ve never been to a conference at all before, you really need to be at this helpful session..  It takes place on the first day of the conference (Sunday, October 24th) first thing in the morning (9-10 am central time).

As in years past, this promises to be a great overview of the conference and what to expect from the general format.  But Joe Woodard and team take it one step further by providing tips on how to get the most out of your experience and even inviting veteran attendees to share their insights and good outcomes.

And it’s free.  So whether you’re a first-timer or a first-time-in-a-while-er, this offering is a wonderful way to take a moment before the rush.  I always advise people to intentionally think about what they want out of their conference experience.  This session is a valuable tool for doing just that.

Seeing the Big Picture:  THE KEYNOTES

Happening at least daily, these are labeled “Main Stage Session” on the official conference agenda found on  Big picture, all attendee talks like these are typically generally and genuinely inspirational, and this year looks to be no exception.  The diversity of perspectives at this year’s Scaling New Heights promises to carry with it some insights that might not be typical of a professional services conference. Still, it will no doubt add great value just the same.  

Attending Main Stage events isn’t required, but they are certainly tone-setters and a common thread experience for everyone to orient around.  They are often things that end up being easily chatted about with strangers (new friends even!) as the conference goes on.  I’m particularly looking forward to seeing Inky Johnson - what he has to say on the influence of our environment, our decisions, and experiences. This should be fascinating!

Getting into the Details:  THE SESSIONS

Looking through this year’s session list, I am amazed at all the great content to choose from.  So let’s waste no time diving in!  Here are just a few of the many goodies that caught my eye:It’s Sunday, day one of Scaling New Heights, and I’m already in a content quandary.  Not to toot our own horn, but our Roundtable Labs hosts are making the Sunday 2 - 3:40 pm slot the best kind of hard choice. Here’s the lowdown: 

  • Consulting Your Clients Through A Poverty Mindset - Ingrid Edstrom (10/24 2 - 3:40 pm) 
    Ingrid has a knack for breaking things down to the basics, with lots of references to other leaders and general business content to back it all up. Although the conclusions aren’t always easy, they almost always can move the needle for your business and your general mindset! Full disclosure, in her work as a Roundtable Labs Host, I have seen up close the impact Ingrid’s content has on people willing to engage with these kinds of ideas.
  • Building a Construction App Ecosphere - Tonya Schulte (10/24 2 - 3:40 pm)  
    Thinking this might not be for you because you’re not playing in the construction niche?  Think again!  Having a process when looking to incorporate new apps into your practice is essential.  Frankly, this session will be especially valuable to anyone playing in a niche market and wishing to improve by slowing things down to do it!
  • And speaking of Roundtable Hosts, we’ve also got our Apps Roundtable Host Kelly Gonsalves leading a session worth waking early for on Tuesday, 10/26 at 8:00 amHow to Grow Your Leads Using SEO.  Kelly has a knack for taking the complicated down to its simpler form and passing that good knowledge along.  Trust me when I say that getting past any misgivings and diving in can work wonders for your business profile in our increasingly virtual world! 

In fact, the early sessions this year are making me rethink my evenings!  The Monday 10/25 8-8:50 am session space is a time slot that’s got the goods on multiple fronts.  Good luck picking between everything from Workflow Design Advisory with Matthew Fulton to Custom Reporting with Angela Meharg.  Here are two more that caught my eye right out of the gate: 

  • Growing Your Practice in a Virtual World - Shanita Jones
    An early session definitely worth setting your alarm for!  I’m looking forward to seeing Shanita; I have never seen her, but have heard so much buzz around her style.  Working virtually, and networking virtually, is more a part of our lives than ever - it’s nice to see a fresh take on the evergreen topic of practice growth.
  • Know Your Apps, Own Your World - Vanessa Vasquez
    Not interested in growth, but need to dial in where you are?  Never fear, there is yet another early but worthy session available!  Vanessa is so dynamic - she is a must-see at any event where she appears.  Her style is relatable and engaging, but her content is also chock full of bite-sized takeaways that inspire action.  The perfect session for anyone new to QBO or just looking for a quick update on what’s new in the app landscape.

Although the early sessions are certainly bringing value this year, the afternoon sessions are certainly not phoning it in!  Here are two in particular that I am personally looking forward to:

  • Mindful Leadership:  Improving Performance for Lasting Results -  Jina Etienne (Monday, 10/25 1:30 - 3:10 pm)
    Calling all the leaders in the house!  Key takeaways I am excited to hear more about are described “how mindfulness powers decision making” and how mindfulness “helps leaders: manage stress, make better decisions… avoid workplace drama, and more.”  Who couldn’t use some of this these days?  It turns out this might be more like a ‘Calling all humans!’ type session.
  • Tales of True Tech Crimes - Ripped from the Headlines -- Brian Tankersley (Tuesday, 10/26  1:30-3:10pm) 
    A new topic and session this year!  Frankly, I’m loving where this title is taking me.  It reads like a perfect mix.  First and foremost, a practical deep-dive on real issues you and your firm face and what to do about them.  But, it’s a little bit ID Channel and Netflix docuseries around the edges.  A perfect afternoon binge on day three that’s actually good for you!
  • Challenging Our Thinking:  Breaking Through to New Levels of Learning & Implementation (Wednesday, 10/27  4:10-5:50)
    If you have a late flight or have booked a ‘sleep on it’ stay for Wednesday, you’ve hit the jackpot.  This session is a practical one in the workshop vein designed to help you process and make actionable some of the big takeaways you’ve gotten during your time at Scaling New Heights.  Join multiple SNH instructors and take the necessary post-conference beat to actually figure out ‘what’s next’ for you given all you’ve learned!

Connecting it Up:  THE NETWORKING

With all this rich content, it can be easy to overfill your time and brain.  Don’t forget that a lot of the great learning and connecting dots at conferences actually happens when you connect with other people!  Between events, after the schedule ends, before it all at breakfast…all of it.  Here are some tips to get the most out of your networking.

  • Introduce your actual self:  Nearly everyone there is an accountant or bookkeeper or app affiliated.  When you introduce yourself, say something that is potentially a bit different, something about YOU.  Fancy it up if you like, saying your complete name and your city name.
  • Divide and Conquer: If you are going to be with friends or colleagues, break it up.  Have coffee at one table in the morning and breakfast at another.  At a gathering, start at opposite sides and meet in the middle.
  • Ask for What You Want: Tell people what you are there for.  In general, people love to help!  You may be speaking with an expert on your exact thing or someone who knows one.
  • Ask questions: In short, don’t worry about being interesting. Focus on being interested. If others there are throwing out little nuggets of information about themselves, ask about them!  It sounds simple and obvious, but honestly, we can become so focused on what we are saying and how we are sounding and what we need that we forget that there is another human potentially worrying about the same thing.  The best thing you can do in any networking interaction is invite other people to share and shine.  Look, I get it.  Networking is sometimes challenging even for people who are good at it.  You know those conversations you get in with work or professional friends?  The ones that may or may not irritate our other halves sometimes?  Do that without the stress.

Aside from all of this, remember to: RELAX

Yes, giving yourself time to relax and recharge is essential.  This can be especially true for introverts.  Also, don’t be surprised if you aren’t a bit more tired out by in-person social interaction than you used to be.  The last 18 months have put a different spin around how we are in public places with other real live humans.  

There are a lot of things that used to be just social habits that aren’t anymore.  Being with other people often requires more thought and reading of social cues than in the past.  So don’t be surprised if you run out of steam way sooner than normal.  Drink water.  Take deep breaths.  Take a walk.  Carry a small book or pamphlet that you can read (or pretend to read) when you need some insulated time.  Have a phone convo with a favorite relative or, better yet, a young child -- it can do wonders for your perspective.  Just in general, listen to what your mind and body are saying to you about what you need, and respect it.  

You are going to be doing deep thinking and big-dreaming at Scaling New Heights.  That’s what conferences are for, and this is an excellent conference for it.  Remember, it’s not just about what you’ll learn; it’s also about what you, in particular, bring to the table that others can learn.  Everyone has something, even if they don’t know it.  So my best advice is stay open, listen hard, and not be afraid to ask questions and be a beginner.  

Travel safe, and I’ll see you in Texas!

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