As a football fanatic, my previous tailgating experiences have been under the shadow of large stadiums. So, when I was invited to a parking lot party for the Las Vegas stop on the "Sage Listens" bus tour of customer visits this August, I recalibrated my expectations.

I wouldn't be sporting a particular team's colors and, as viral as The Big Bang Theory cast's "C! P! A!" chant became after last year's Emmy Awards telecast, synchronized cheering might be considered disruptive.

I was surprised, then, to experience moments of familiarity. The final note of the leadership workshop preceding the festivities touched on wish fulfillment, asking participants to set life goals aligned with personal values. As a lifelong Minnesota Vikings fan still awaiting that elusive Super Bowl ring, my stubborn loyalty veers into the kind of delusion that had people aspiring for quick and easy retirement.

Or what some call optimism, which ruled the Vegas asphalt on which CPAs mingled that afternoon, exchanging credentials and small-firm success stories.

The Sage liaisons hosting the party were cheering fans, obviously championing the company brand emblazoned on their bus, but also the CPAs with whom they hoped to develop relationships. Those firm partners, then, often played the part of coach, with 75-year-old local firm owner Larry Bertsch particularly suited to the role.

"It's like chasing ants when the elephants are running all over you," Bertsch bellowed during the workshop, with Vince Lombardi-like conviction. About what, exactly, I can't remember.

But he is a man with a plan -- for the succession of his firm, supported by weekly staff training sessions. The wisdom he shared was rooted in years of experience and devotion to Team CPA. I'd follow him onto the field.

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