Seeing the Future: CSCPA Holds First Annual Essential Event

By Caitlin Bailey, Assistant Editor

“We believe we have created a program so relevant, so vital, that it is just that – ‘essential’ to attend if you are a Connecticut CPA,” 2008-2009 CSCPA President John J. Turgeon announced on May 18, kicking off the inaugural Essential Event at the Aqua Turf Club in Plantsville.

Themed “Destination: Future” this year, the program ended the CSCPA’s centennial anniversary celebration and sent the society hurtling beyond the recession and way, way into the future with the help of Rick Richardson, CPA, CITP and Edie Weiner.

From Google to Gadgets

Ever dreamed you’d have entertainment programs broadcasting on your contact lenses? What about a personal assistant on your phone that would not only book your travel plans, but contact the rental car company and hotel to let them know that your flight has been delayed?

Dream ... or near-future reality?

According to CSCPA member and renowned technology futurist Rick Richardson, these are just a few of his current predictions he boldly put on the record as coming down the line sooner rather than later.

Following a spirited explanation of the story behind the Google/Microsoft rivalry and communication trends of today (and tomorrow), Richardson demonstrated his favorite gadgets, including the Kindle (Amazon’s original wireless reading device) and the handheld camcorder phenomenon Flip Video, complete with one hour of recording time and a pop-out USB to plug directly into your computer.

Through the Eyes of an Alien

“The real story today is not change,” futurist Edie Weiner of Weiner Edrich Brown implored the crowd in the beginning of her “FutureThink” presentation. “Change has been here since the beginning of time. This is about the exponential growth in the speed of change – the ground keeps shifting underneath us.”

Weiner rebels against what she’s termed “educated incapacity,” the thought that knowledge blinds us toward thinking about the future. Only two classes are immune from the “baggage” that knowledge brings: children and aliens.

She holds Sony as a prime example of a company too blinded by educated incapacity to cash in on a major innovation.

In the heyday of the boom box craze, Sony had a vision for personal, programmable music devices. The WalkMan failed in focus groups, but Sony pushed through and spawned a new era with the WalkMan and, eventually, the DiscMan.

When music download giant Napster erupted in the ’90s, championing Sony’s mission, Sony sued the company.

The “alien” known as Apple then swooped right in, launching the iPod that as of September 2008 had sold more than 173,000,000 units worldwide and claimed the title of best-selling digital audio player series in history.

“You need to start with a vision,” Weiner advocated. “If the strategies you’re using to get to the vision don’t work, don’t dump the vision, dump the strategies.”

And when in doubt, look at the world through a child’s eyes.

What is going on with the economy?

As a futurist, Weiner fields questions about the economy on a regular basis. So what’s next?

“Economies don’t replace each other; they layer on top of each other,” Weiner emphasized.

First, it was the agricultural era, lasting more than 70 thousand years. The industrial era lasted 175 years, with the post-industrial era down to just 45 years. The emotile age began around 1992, and our current situation began not long after that. Eras and, as a result, economies are becoming shorter as the world changes faster.

In short? This too shall pass. As long as you stop calling it a recession.

“This is not a recession,” Weiner said, “this is a transformation. When you move away from thinking about a recession and you think about a transformation, you will get the next decade right.”

CSCPA Annual Business Meeting

The Essential Event also included CSCPA’s brief Annual Business Meeting, during which 2009-2010 CSCPA President Ann D. Jevne was installed and the following Board of Directors members were elected:

  • President-elect – Marcia L. Marien
  • Treasurer – Thomas M. Wood
  • Secretary – Ralph A. Volpe III
  • Member-at-Large – Michael T. Novosel
  • Member-at-Large – Stephen A. Pedneault.

The Advisory Council chair, who was scheduled to be elected in June, will serve as the final member of the 2009-2010 Board of Directors.

FutureThink: Edie Weiner’s Strategies for Thinking Outside of the Box to Get Ahead

  • Subscribe to at least two magazines drastically different from the world you know. Project yourself into that frame of reference.
  • Use your interns differently. Use them as your alien/child eyes, not for their Xeroxing skills.
  • Meet with your staff or your department at least one time a month. Look at one assumption you’re making – and challenge it.

CSCPA graciously thanks the sponsors of the inaugural Essential Event:

  • Blum Shapiro
  • Clavette Josselyn & Company, LLC
  • Harper & Whitfield, P.C.
  • Kostin, Ruffkess & Company, LLC
  • Lynn Grossman, Wells Fargo Advisors
  • McGladrey & Pullen, LLP
  • Schwartz & Hofflich, LLP