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Call for Change

Following your Passion

Kemberley Washington, CPAFellow AICPA Leadership Academy Alumni, Kemberly Washington, had a great article published in The New Orleans Tribune last Friday titled:
MPR: Should You Follow Your Passion or a Paycheck?  She says “there are so many people who are taking the risk to pursue passion over paychecks”.  She also shares her experience in leaving a good job at the IRS to become a professor at a small college.

I found her article refreshing, especially after I just got on my soapbox yesterday about the evils that greed is causing in our society.  Her suggested approach is a good one too: make a financial plan, perhaps start off with a side-job in your passion and figure out whether it can sustain you.  And she pointed out that passion and profits are mutually exclusive, if you can tap into your passion to generate income, all the better for you.

Reading Kem’s article also took me back to my decision to leave PricewaterhouseCoopers–well over 10 years ago.  At that time, I had a choice, I could stay with the firm, be forced to move, and not really enjoy my work–but I’d be making really good pay.  Or I could leave, take a pretty big pay cut and stay home and work for the largest IT contracting firm in the state.  It may sound like an easy decision, but it really was not.  For half of high school and all of my college life, being a partner in an accounting firm was my dream (yea I’m a geek like that).

Well I decided that being a principal in a local IT firm would be ok too, and being able to be close to my family was important to me too.  So I decided to leave PwC.  Working at an IT firm turned out to not be all that I thought it would be…

An Aside: You know I have to say, I don’t think most people realize how valuable the structure, standards, methodologies, discipline, and even work paper techniques we learn while employed in a large public accounting practice are in the business world.  I’ve consulted for a lot of organizations and worked with a lot of other vendors and consultants.  By far, the other people with the public accounting background (not necessarily CPAs, but if they worked in a large CPA firm) are the most organized and understand what it means to deliver quality work product.

Back to the story…after 10 months, I ended up deciding the leave the IT firm and start my own firm.  I took a HUGE income cut…over 50%, and that was already after I had taken a 20% cut to leave PwC.  So here I was making 40% of what I had been making at PwC.  But let me tell you, I LOVED it.

I was working on projects that I wanted to work on.  I was working with clients that I wanted to work with.  I controlled my schedule and as people found out that I had started my own firm, the referrals started trickling in.

So here I am 10 years later…with a staff of 13: 11 in Hawaii and 2 in California.  And my income?  It’s still WAY less that I would be making if I had stayed at PwC, but I followed my passion and I can honestly say I love my job.



2 thoughts on “Following your Passion

  1. Hej Donny – love this post. So many people chase money all theirs lives and seem to forget that enjoying what you do is worth more than any amount of the green stuff!

    Posted by gatehouse13 | October 5, 2011, 12:54 am
  2. Very good article. Very amazing! After reading your story, I am convinced more and more people are leaving money on the table and clinging to family and passion. I love your story! It is encouraging and more importantly, wonderful to know following your dreams can give you what money can’t buy – a “peace” of mind!

    Posted by Kemberley Washington | October 5, 2011, 4:09 am

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