Words of Wisdom From Seasoned Tax Professionals

A couple of weeks ago, LinkedIn released a series of posts called “If I were 22…” from 80+ of their “Influencers”.  There were responses from seasoned journalists, Wall Street CEOs, Marketing masterminds, etc.  It was great to read all of the different perspectives (no, I didn’t read all 80 of them) and it made me think: What about the tax industry? What would seasoned professionals in our industry advise? To find out, I started a discussion in my LinkedIn Group, Tax Business Owners of America. I asked the members, “Knowing what you know now, what would you do if you were 22?” in hopes for some great responses to compile for students and readers of the Tax Talk blog. Here they are:


Becky: EA and Tax Business Owner

“I’d be deadly. My marriage would not happen. I would have gotten my college degree and worked abroad. I would have started my own business sooner. My investments would have been different – I would have been more daring not so conservative. I would have followed my hunches and not over thought or second guessed my decisions.”


Ann: EA and Tax Business Owner

“At 22 I had just gotten my first teaching job in an inner city school whose district was going through desegregation–it was the best learning experience of my life. It taught me so much about myself, society and attitudes. I got married later that year, more life lessons. I would have been more concerned about saving for the future and invested wiser.”


William: EA and Tax Business Owner

“I had just graduated college with my accounting degree. I went to work for the VA Hospital in the Bronx, NY of all places…for 3 months. My job was to work with returning Vietnam Vets, handling their savings accounts. Very emotional time. I enlisted in the Army, and signed up for Vietnam. Felt it was my responsibility after seeing what these vets went through. I would have started an aggressive investment program, and would also start my business while still in college.”


Terre: Tax Business Owner

I would’ve started my retirement accounts and insisted everyone I knew and anyone that would listen to follow my lead.”


Wendi: EA and Tax Business Owner

“If I were 22 again, I don’t think I would want to know what I know now. Part of being young is making stupid mistakes, suffering the consequences, and learning from them. I cannot imagine how different my life would have been if I had known to avoid the pitfalls. I’m glad for the adventure and what I’ve become, for it!”


Kathryn: CPA and Business Owner

“I had just graduated. I didn’t know it at the time, but joining a Big 8 firm was the perfect start to the career that I have enjoyed. A firm large enough that it could afford to hire recent college graduates and teach them some great fundamentals that they didn’t learn from books and classes, as well as provide mentors and friends.”


Rebecca: Bookkeeping Business Owner

“While it seems like we could have changed our lives for a different outcome, I don’t think I would have. Each of my choices have shaped my life to make me the person I am today. If I had changed something at 22 I might have always wondered what life would be with out change or not liked how my life turned out with a change.”


Patrick: Tax Business Owner

“Speak less, listen more attentively, control my emotions more efficiently.”


Douglas: Business Owner

“At age 22, I was painfully shy, so given the 2nd chance, I would force myself to step out. As a result, I would have experienced a lot of different things that I missed out on.

I also would have started my business much earlier. I would also live more. It took meeting a wonderful woman (who is now my wife) to learn how to live life instead of always worrying about money or what tomorrow might bring.”


Richard: EA, Board of Directors for National Association of Tax Preparers

I started doing taxes when I was 22…I’d do it all over again….it’s only been 40 years and I don’t feel like starting a second career”


My Thoughts

I would not do anything different.  At age 22, while working as a freight brakeman and conductor for the Pennsylvania Railroad, I was thrown from the top of a boxcar and put out of work on disability for 5 months while caring for two of my younger siblings.  My mother had been institutionalized and my father had been killed in a car accident.  I saw a TV ad for the H&R Block tax course and borrowed $60 from my fiancé to take the course.  Although I was a high school dropout, I was hired as assistant to the local district manager for Hudson County, NJ.  I advanced to district manager and, at age 26, was promoted to Mid-Atlantic regional director overseeing 225 offices through 20 district managers.  At age 31 I entered college for the first time (still a HS dropout) and was awarded an equivalency HS diploma by the NYS Department of Education after completing 24 college credits with straight As.  I graduated Summa Cum Laude 1st in my class of 141 adults and then earned an executive MBA and completed 2 years of doctoral studies in business (ABD).

What about you? We’d love to hear your “If I was 22…” response!


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