Life is short. Underdogs should win.
It starts in elementary school and doesn't seem to stop. The "cool kids" or the "athletes," or "you fill in the blank" seem to get all of the breaks. They are popular, drive the nice car, date the pretty girl, go to the best college, own the company, get the best advice and have the most money.
If that is you, then great. If that isn't you, then welcome to the club.
I have always viewed myself as an Underdog. You could say that my marriage and my career choices and experiences have not been the "traditional" route.
My college experience wasn't the normal experience. I got married when I was 19 to my high school sweetheart. We put each other through college. I worked nights at UPS and my wife worked full-time while I finished college. When I got done, she went back and got her degree. I always joke that we spent the first five years of our marriage going into debt. We spent the next five years paying off the debt. Right after my wife graduated from college, we soon became pregnant with our first daughter. Never got the chance to have two incomes to help pay off our debt, but we did it anyway.
My career path has not been easy or direct. I started my career working in state income tax at a Fortune 500 company. After a few years, I went into public accounting to be a state tax consultant at a Big 4 firm. I then worked at a few large regional and national firms. I also made a short venture back into industry before ending up at my current employer. I sometimes look back and think that it would have been a lot easier to have just stayed at my first employer. It was a good job at a large company. However, something always pushed me to want more. To learn more. To become more. The main pros or positives of making the job changes throughout my career is: I have learned and developed so many more skills than I ever would have if I had stayed at my first employer. I have also met and developed so many more relationships and contacts. My unconventional path (or too numerous job changes), despite not being the easiest path, makes me who I am today. And for that, I am truly thankful.
I also did not obtain my masters degree in taxation in the most conventional way. Because no college in my area offered a masters degree in taxation, I obtained my masters degree via distance learning. I worked full-time and studied at night.
I also chose not to obtain the coveted CPA designation and chose the EA (Enrolled Agent) designation instead. During my college years (which I obtained a bachelors' degree in accounting), I actually did not like accounting or auditing. I liked tax. Hence, I decided to take the EA exam because the test is 100% tax law, no accounting or auditing. (I have been blessed to spend my entire career in tax.)
Despite my indirect career path and job changes, and the fact that my wife and I have moved 9 times during our 20 year marriage, the one constant in my life has been my wife and my faith in Christ. We have two great daughters and my wife has become a self-taught artist, painter, leather-cuff making, interior designer, furniture restorer, small business woman. It is truly amazing what she can do.
What's the point of me sharing my story with you? Well, I wanted you to get to know me better. I also wanted you to know my perspective. My perspective is that I feel as though I have always played the underdog in my life, but I always kept finding a way to achieve or succeed.
I want the Underdogs to win. I usually side with the individual, the group, the team, or the company that appears to be out manned. I want to help those who need a protector, defender, or a fixer to fight for them.
I am thankful for the past and hopeful for the future. I hope you are too.
I am reminded of the quote: "Don't look back and ask why. Look forward and ask why not."
Remember, "life is short, eternity is forever." Focus on what really matters today.
Brian Strahle is the owner of LEVERAGE SALT, LLC where he provides state and local tax technical services to accounting firms, law firms and tax research organizations across the United States. He also writes a weekly column in Tax Analysts State Tax Notes entitled, "The SALT Effect." For more info, visit his website: www.leveragestateandlocaltax.com
You can reach Brian at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Because state and local taxes are deceptively simple and endlessly complicated.