Exhorting hundreds of women CPAs to initiate change and become more confident, noted motivational speaker and author Dorothy Leeds urged attendees at the Joint Inspired Solutions Conference to ask more questions.
"We're programmed to answer, not to ask," said Leeds pointing to communication studies that have found four-year-olds ask hundreds of questions daily, while the average college student asks less than 20. "It shouldn't be that way," she said.

Leeds served as keynote speaker at the confab hosted jointly by the American Society of Women Accountants and the American Woman's Society of CPAs, held here.

Leeds, whose professional background is a mix of business management and Broadway performance, began her presentation to an audience of several hundred women accountants with the question she said had led her to become a motivational speaker -- "Is this all you want to be?"

Leeds exhorted the crowd to think more productively, lead with confidence and initiate change through asking questions and being better listeners -- both in client dealings as well as in interacting with their colleagues.

Meanwhile, Steve Erickson, a well-known consultant to national CPA firms, stressed to attendees that issues of work-life balance will remain key issues in retaining workers and touched on a variety of firm structures designed to meet the changing demographics and demands of staff.

"We want women to leave this conference having experienced a number of benefits, from the CPE credit to the networking opportunities," said Kendra Hutchison, AWSCPA president. "But looking forward from here, I hope they look at our organizations as a place where they can get the additional benefit of making their voice heard."

The three-day conference will end Friday with an awards dinner. Next year's conference will be held in Las Vegas from Sept. 20-22.

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