"I'm going to stalk Wendy Davis," I joked to friends before departing on my first visit to Austin, Texas, for the AICPA's 2013 E.D.G.E. ("Evolve-Distinguish-Grow-Engage") Conference in early August, referring to the Texas senator who became an overnight celebrity for women's rights with her June abortion bill filibuster.

It was a joke because, besides the state senate not even being in session, my days would happily be filled with panels of some of the most impassioned emerging leaders in accounting.

As with E.D.G.E.'s first two years, a buzz of excitement arose among participants during the interactive sessions and workshops and extended into the late hours on 6th Street rooftops over local-brew Lone Stars. That energy was harnessed into addressing the challenges of the profession's upcoming shift in leadership, typically perceived as an opportunity among those who will be taking the reins. Other issues were similarly translated from problems to be solved into subjects of "appreciative inquiry."

"Reframe questions in the most opportunistic light," explained Champlain College's Nicole Morris.

As I passed an adjacent conference room before a final session, I overhead an organizer say, "When Wendy Davis arrives ..." Inspired by E.D.G.E.'s emphasis on proactivity and my reporter's instincts, I Googled the event and camped out in the lobby after our conference had wrapped. Sure enough, lunch keynote speaker Davis and her handlers soon sailed out the door. I approached and thanked the gracious senator for her service before snapping a photo.

MACPA's Tom Hood had earlier described "planned serendipity" -- positioning yourself in the place where you will have the most opportunity. Sometimes that's a leadership conference, and sometimes it's the hotel lobby of that conference at 2 p.m. sharp.

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