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Elizabeth Hale: “I would love to transform our current educational system to incorporate more real-world experience and human connection.”

So much of society has bought into the traditional college education. It is expensive, time-consuming and really does not correlate to value in the workplace. In today’s digital world, I think that real-world experience and human connection provide the value and enhance our lives. I would love to transform our current educational system to incorporate […]


So much of society has bought into the traditional college education. It is expensive, time-consuming and really does not correlate to value in the workplace. In today’s digital world, I think that real-world experience and human connection provide the value and enhance our lives. I would love to transform our current educational system to incorporate more real-world experience and human connection. I envision groups of people coming together (physically as well as virtually) to share experience and test new methodologies to build a more cohesive community of collaborators that work to contribute to business projects. Rather than paying for an education, earn it and eliminate the concept of borrowing to pay for it!


I had the pleasure of interviewing Elizabeth Hale, founder of eeCPA, which has been providing clients with customized accounting solutions since 2004. Hale has worked with small- to medium-sized businesses for more than twenty-five years and has owned and operated several businesses. In addition to being a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Arizona Society of CPAs, she serves as the finance director of the Arizona Entrepreneurs’ Organization and is on the board of directors at the Board Developer Foundation.


Thank you so much for joining us! What is your “backstory”?

I grew up poor! My mother was on food stamps for a while, and my father struggled, undergoing a bankruptcy, which led them to divorce by the time I was 6. I started my first business at 8 years old, selling Christmas & Holiday Cards door-to-door. At 20 (while still a college student), I founded a pest control service and wholesale pesticide distribution company with my ex-husband, Flower City Pest Elimination. We sold that company 10 years later for $1 Million….

I love the heat and the sun! My final decision to sell the NY-based company was made upon my vacation to Scottsdale Arizona in 1998. After the successful sale of the pest business in 1999, we packed up & moved to sunny, warm AZ! After working at a local CPA firm for a few years (getting to know the area and making contacts here in the Valley of the Sun), I launched eeCPA in January 2004 (more than 15 years ago!) Since then, we have become a leader in saving entrepreneurs money and helping them navigate the financial world of business! I thoroughly enjoy consulting & strategy and love developing personal relationships with my clients. I am thankful for the opportunities I have had and continue to receive as a trusted partner with expertise in tax planning, strategy, and accounting system design and maintenance.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?

When I first relocated from Rochester NY to Phoenix (knowing not one soul in Phoenix), I had 2 weeks to find a job, a home, and a school for my oldest daughter. My first job was with a tax attorney here in Phoenix. It lasted just 7 months (shortest position in my life). I was supposed to run the CPA Firm, while he ran the Law Firm (co-existing in the same office). I had no idea that he was a raging alcoholic, amusing only after 4 pm. During my short stint there, he went through 23 legal assistants, some of whom could not even make it through the first day. He eloped with a woman that came to work in the office, serving cocktails to clients at 11 am as they came in to sign their trust documents. It was literally crazy land! I had never seen anything like it before or since!

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I have been working with a family for more than 10 years now. Mom and Dad are extremely successful entrepreneurs. Everything they touch seems to turn to gold! Right now, we are working on a tax planning & strategy project that has taken the better part of the last few years. I started working with them in 2008, referred by a bookkeeper, to assist them with getting multiple years of tax filings caught up for the businesses and them personally. Over the course of the last 10 years, they have grown their business debt free, successfully capitalizing on a strategic partnership with a private equity group this year and realizing more than $425 million in the deal!

Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?

Marie Curie — a pioneer in the scientific field. She worked so hard and against great diversity to improve the human condition.

Socrates — The Socratic Method works! Asking questions and inspiring others to think — that is what leads to success for our society in general.

Charles Darwin — I find the Darwin theory so true. You must be keenly aware…You cannot swim with the sharks in the minnow pond!

Which literature do you draw inspiration from? Why?

The Diary of Anne Franke — As a child, I was so touched by this young woman that struggled with so much tragedy. When I was in my 20’s, I finally visited the attic where she made a life for so long. How she could find the energy to write in spite of the circumstances still impresses me.

I just finished The Nightingale — I found it so inspiring. I have always had an interest in studying World War II. The determination of the Nightingale inspires me.

Leadership & Self-Deception: I am a doer and keep myself busy by doing all of the time. I force myself to check in with myself, following my gut to improve my relationship with myself and those close to me.

How do you think your writing makes an impact in the world?

I hope that others can learn from my stories, and take away something that will help them in their business or their life. By sharing experiences and knowledge (ingrained from frequently learning the “hard way”), I am hopeful that I can make a positive impact on another Entrepreneur or a student of the accounting profession, that can find the true power of accounting, far beyond the debits & credits!

What advice would you give to someone considering becoming an author like you?

It takes time! Get your thoughts out there! Working with an editor/coach is absolutely critical. Arranging your thoughts in advance helps with direction: Start with the outline first!

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

So much of society has bought into the traditional college education. It is expensive, time-consuming and really does not correlate to value in the workplace. In today’s digital world, I think that real-world experience and human connection provide the value and enhance our lives. I would love to transform our current educational system to incorporate more real-world experience and human connection. I envision groups of people coming together (physically as well as virtually) to share experience and test new methodologies to build a more cohesive community of collaborators that work to contribute to business projects. Rather than paying for an education, earn it and eliminate the concept of borrowing to pay for it!

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. I had no idea how important it is to ask for what I want. I made lots of assumptions and became very discouraged with my team early on. I could have avoided this pain (and the discouragement of those around me) had I more specifically detailed what it was I that I wanted from them, spelling out my needs and desires. Now, I give a lot more thought to the clarity in which I communicate and try to really spell out what it is that I want my team to do. I also take the extra minute to ask them to communicate back to me what it is that they will do….It is amazing how successful this simple strategy is — satisfying to me and encouraging to my team!
  2. Negotiate how to terminate contracts — Know the exit strategy of the terms & conditions! I am impulsive and tend to “sign up” for new software or new services before I have given full consideration to how it will go if it does not work out. I have found that I am far better off on any deal — both financially and emotionally, if I clearly understand the exit strategy — i.e. what happens if this does not go as planned?
  3. Assume that you will need to spell out your vision — from A to Z before your team can execute. I have found that to increase engagement — whether from my children, my clients or my team, I need to be clear on the outcome. Why? What are we trying to achieve? This concept seems simple, but it really is not in practice. After all, Simon Sinek was passionate enough about how important it is to communicate the Why? That he wrote a bestselling book about it!
  4. It is so critical to have a very well-documented hiring & review process. For any business, but especially small businesses and particularly service businesses, it is all about the people! I have found that spending more time in the hiring & recruiting process saves businesses tons of money on the churn. A larger investment of time and verification of candidates can multiply the investment significantly — less turnover and working with people that you enjoy! Is critical to business success.
  5. Set the expectation upfront — both verbally & in writing with your customers. A clearly defined scope is critical for both your team & your customers. In the last couple of years, we have worked to refine our client engagement process, spelling out the tasks that are included and the tasks that would be an additional charge. By doing this, we have improved our cash flow by 500%, since we do not have delays or billing disputes when it comes to invoicing our customers.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂

I would love to have breakfast with Jessica Mah, founder and CEO of inDinero. I am seriously impressed with her solutions and her rapid transformational leadership at a time of key change in the accounting & professional services industry. I would also love to have breakfast with Katrina Lake, founder and CEO of Stitch Fix. I have been a customer for more than a year, and I am truly impressed with the concept. I would love to pick her brain!

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