Founder & Chief Marketing Officer, Capital Confirmation
Education: MBA at Vanderbilt University; BBA at Southern Methodist University
Professional Associations/Memberships: AICPA & TN Society of CPAs
Civic Involvement: Board Member Green Hills YMCA, Advisory Board Member at Cumberland Heights, Nashville Chamber of Commerce Partnership 2010 Entrepreneurship Task Force
Hobbies: Outdoor activities, adventure sports
Cell phone: I have an iPhone, and it’s great!
Favorite app: I’ve always been addicted to video games, and I love the role playing games so let me know if you have a good one. The apps I use the most are Fandango, Southwest and Maps. Of course, as the team leader for our new mobile app, the Confirmation.com mobile app will quickly become my favorite business app!
Are you using social networking (such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Plaxo, Facebook) as a marketing tool for your practice/business … or do you use such sites for personal use only? Have you gained any clients or seen other demonstrable benefits from the use of social networking? I use LinkedIn, Plaxo and Facebook for both business and personal networking. Those are great tools for staying connected with classmates and friends. I’ve found them very helpful when I want to reach out to a particular company. I look through my network to find friends that work at that business or who know someone at that business, and that gives me an introduction that I otherwise wouldn’t have had.
What pitfalls or what unwritten rules of social networking etiquette exist, which are frequently missed by others in the profession? Most people have figured out the rules of proper social networking, though occasionally we all still get those “friend requests” from people who are obviously trolling for sales leads because you have no idea who they are.
Do you subscribe to a magazine and/or local newspaper? From a personal standpoint, I subscribe to Men’s Health, Outside and Popular Science. For business, I subscribe to The CPA Technology Advisor, Accounting Today, the Journal of Accountancy and CFO Magazine. I read quite a bit online as well and subscribe to several online news sources.
What ONE piece of technology could you absolutely not live without? Other than my computer, I’d have to say that my iPhone is my favorite piece of technology. It allows me to stay connected literally anywhere, and the number of apps that provide added functionality to the device is simply amazing.
What are some ways your firm/business has gone “paperless” and/or “green” in the last two years? At Confirmation.com, we have seen a tremendous shift by thousands of companies to reduce or stop their usage of mailed paper confirmations to using electronic confirmations, which support a company’s green initiatives. In fact, one of our In-Network responders, which is a Fortune 1000 company, has eliminated more than 300,000 incoming mailed confirmations per year. By switching to Confirmation.com, that single company has had a huge positive impact on the environment:
Annual Positive Environmental Impact of the Company using Confirmation.com
– Saves the environment from over 900,000 gallons of wastewater
– Saves over 32,000 gallons of gas
– Eliminates 1.7 million pounds of greenhouse gases
– Protects over 300,000 square feet of forest from deforestation
Because we work with more than 100,000 companies all over the world, all of us at Confirmation.com are extremely proud of the cumulative net positive benefit that our Confirmation.com service has on the environment, and we believe that our Green benefits have helped us become the #96 fastest growing company in the United States, according to the 2010 Inc. 500 List.
How many hours of the day are you plugged in and responsive to client needs? And what tools/products make it possible for you to have flexibility? I’d like to say that I’m plugged in 24 hours a day, but I do sleep sometimes. Really, though, I stay pretty much constantly plugged in wherever I am. Technology really is amazing at letting us stay connected. For example, this summer I went to Tanzania and climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, and I stayed pretty much connected most days unless there was heavy cloud cover below us. Sometimes I had to hike up to a high-point in order to get cell coverage, but it was amazing that even at the summit (19,340 feet), I was able to make a call, send text messages and check email. I couldn’t do it for long, though, because with my gloves off my fingers quickly got so cold that it became impossible to use the keys on my iPhone. But I was amazed at how well my phone worked high on the mountain.
Do you embrace cloud computing? Certainly! When we started Confirmation.com 10 years ago, we began and have always offered our service in the cloud. We sometimes laugh that over the years Confirmation.com has been called B2B, then ASP, then SaaS and now Cloud, but we’ve remained consistent in how we have delivered our patented service to our customers over the Internet. My partner, Chris Schellhorn, has always said that the Internet was the perfect delivery platform for a service like our Confirmation.com solution, where a network/secure clearinghouse model was needed.
How is cloud computing changing the accounting profession, and how concerned are you with the security issues related to cloud computing? Availability and speed were the early concerns on cloud computing. Those issues have essentially resolved themselves as the technology supporting the cloud has improved. The concerns that now exist, and that will always be the decision point for cloud-based service decisions, are concerns over security and privacy. That is why Confirmation.com undergoes both a SAS 70 Type II and a SysTrust/WebTrust Certification every six months. Data security and privacy are now the critical focus when selecting a cloud-based solution, and the SAS 70 Type II and SysTrust/WebTrust Certifications are key evaluation tools companies should be using when comparing service providers.
Do you foresee the majority of firms still implementing servers for the majority of their computing in their offices five years from now or do you think they will be outsourcing this component to vendors who specialize in this area? Without a doubt, companies will be outsourcing more of their server needs to vendors who specialize in that area. Constantly keeping up with the latest security threats along with the flexibility to add or decrease storage needs at any time will be two key drivers in choosing to purchase and maintain your own servers versus outsourcing that aspect of your business to a company with that as their only focus. Outsourcing this service will then allow companies to focus more time and energy on the aspects of their business that drive core competency and create new revenue.
NOT including your current employer, what company do you most admire and why?
I have always admired Southwest airlines, and I believe that they will stand as one of the great American companies. They understand their customer and have always taken a unique approach to their market. I love the fact that it wasn’t too long ago that other airlines used to make fun of Southwest for only providing peanuts and drinks to their passengers, and now those same airlines are the ones charging for snacks, checked baggage and even carryon bags. Southwest understood that not only did their customers really not care about bad airline food, but they realized that providing food meant longer turnaround times at the gates, more staffing and more coordination, which ultimately meant higher priced plane tickets. Southwest gave the customer what they really wanted, great pricing and easy travel flexibility. Because they only have one type of plane, they don’t have to have spare parts or trained staff for multiple planes, which again keeps the costs low. Amazingly, Southwest doesn’t charge for the first two checked bags, doesn’t charge for carryon bags, and doesn’t have a $100 to 150 ticket change fee, but they are still the most affordably and most profitable airline. Thank you Southwest, from all the business owners and entrepreneurs who value what you do for us. You’ll always be our corporate jet!
Do you listen to podcasts? I was always a big fan of books-on-tape so I now enjoy podcasts. From a personal standpoint, I listen to Tim Keller’s and Carter Crenshaw’s podcasts. For business, I listen to podcasts from Greg LaFollette, Darren Root, Randy Johnston and Brian Tankersley to stay up to speed with the latest and greatest in the accounting world. I like being able to download podcasts onto my iPhone and listen while I’m on a plane or training for a climb.
What is an “old school” business practice or process you’d like to see changed in the next five years and why? Without a doubt — whether you send them or respond to them — I’d like to see every company adopt Confirmation.com’s electronic confirmations and completely eliminate paper confirmations. Paper confirmation procedures are too easily circumvented by those wishing to commit fraud, aka Parmalat, HealthSouth, Satyam, Kmart, Refco, Ahold, Just for Feet, and others. And they are so inefficient and ineffective that the 90 year-old paper confirmation process has become a burden on auditors instead of one of the most valuable auditing tools. The tremendous negative impact to our environment of mailing millions of paper confirmations around the United States and around the world is reason enough to find a cleaner, greener confirmation process, and it’s a bonus to every investor out there when the new electronic confirmation process is also more effective and less risky than the paper alternative.
Do you use online resources like webcasts for CPE training? I have been using webcasts for a while, and I can tell you that the quality is much better than when they were first released. I typically speak at or attend lots of conferences each year so I get plenty of CPE hours, but I also use webcasts for other learning events in addition to targeted CPE courses.
What sports team/championship event do you absolutely refuse to miss? My brother David and I have always been huge fans of the UFC, even dating back to the days when we had to rent the early UFC matches at Blockbuster because they weren’t shown on TV. Now my son has begun wrestling, and the three of us enjoy watching the matches to see if the guy with the wrestling background is going to prevail … and he usually does!
What are some of your favorite books, movies, music, websites, and TV shows? “Wild at Heart” by John Eldridge and “Lone Survivor” by Marcus Luttrell are two of the greatest books I’ve read. “Star Wars” is certainly the all-time best movie. Jack Ingram, Charlie Mars and Jack O’Pierce are my favorite bands, 24 is my favorite show, and of course Confirmation.com is my favorite website.
How many monitors do you have on your desk? Incredibly, I still have only one … and Randy Johnston will be disappointed with my answer. Most of our team has either two or three, but I’m on the road so much that I’m typically using my laptop anyway.
What operating system and version of Microsoft Office is installed on your work computer? Windows Vista with MS Office 2007.