Tomorrow is another day. A lot of times we look at our day to say what have we done. We beat ourselves up because we did finish our task list. Success comes in baby steps. Take small steps.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Many of us now have new challenges that come with working from home, homeschooling, and sheltering in place.
As a part of our series about how busy women leaders are addressing these new needs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Linda Diakite Karressy.
Linda is a wife and mother of 4 young children. Linda is the owner of Insight Financial Group. Linda’s motto is keeping accounting simple! Insight helps organizations understand their financial data.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
Similar to many individuals I worked in corporate America for well over 20 years. I was passed over for promotions and paid less than others. I volunteered to teach individuals over 50 how to use computers at a local community college. This opportunity was the most exciting thing I did at the time. I enjoyed seeing the individuals learn how to create an email to their grandkids. I knew I had to change career paths. A former boss told me years later I was a natural teacher. This same boss wife told me I should look into bookkeeping for small businesses. In September 2014 I registered as Insight Financial Group with the state. I have not looked back.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started at your company?
The most interesting is a lunch meeting I had with Janet Grinstead. Janet runs Enriching Lives, a non-profit organization that strengths underprivileged families through education, exposure, and personal development programs. I explained to Janet I was meeting lots of shady individuals who were not concern for helping clients. Janet told me to ask God to bring people to me. This advice has not failed me. This is how my business is grown. When I needed an executive coach, at a networking event the first person I met was my executive coach. I have learned to ask what my intention is (Oprah Winfrey tip). Each time I meet someone or attend an event, I have goals.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I am currently working on creating an online business school. The goal is to teach things business schools do not teach. The first courses will be on accounting. The courses will cover how to understand financial statements, basic accounting terms, and budgeting. I am excited to include a course for nonprofit boards also. Many board members lack adequate training on financial data. Secondly, I am holding workshops on QuickBooks on how to use more efficiently. With these two projects I want us as a community to become financial literate. So many organizations are struggling because the lack of knowledge regarding accounting.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My grandmother Cecil Finch was a great source of inspiration to me. Around 1994 or 1995 she told me learn as much about computers as I can. At the time I was still in high school. I did not even have an email account. My grandmother had the foresight to see how technology would change business. My grandmother was always reading, travelling, and meeting new people. She never stopped learning. If she had the chance, she might have been a very good accountant. She was great with math!
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Can you articulate to our readers what are the biggest family related challenges you are facing as a woman business leader during this pandemic?
My biggest challenge is ensuring our children are receiving the educational instruction needed. Their school has been virtual since the beginning of the year. The staff has prepared very well. As parent I struggle with managing their assigned tasks to ensure they are done on time. We do not want to check a box but ensure our kids are learning. Being intentional with their learning does take time and patience. There are days where I have to spend more time instructing them than working. I remember this time will benefit them in the long run.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
We are in week four of school, so we decided to let the girls do the tasks that are assigned. We are following their teacher’s schedule. Not only did I print out the schedule but have a whiteboard. Similar to staff meetings, we have a family meeting on Sunday to review the schedule and upcoming tasks. Our second grader logs on when she supposed to and does all her assignments independently. We have also enrolled our kids in Kumon. Its an enrichment program that focus on reading and writing. Kumon is another learning experience to keep up their skills. Keeping it simple for now has relived stress.
The greatest personal lesson I have learned in the last couple of months is model behavior we want our kids to practice. The little things matter. I still wake up and dress for work even though I am not going to meet with a client. I am honest with our kids when I do not know an answer. We have also found ways to involve our kids into our work. Our 7-year-old is performing simple tasks for my business. My actions teach my kids how to handle life’s up and downs.
Can you share the biggest work related challenges you are facing as a woman in business during this pandemic?
The biggest work-related challenge for me is letting my target audience know about my services. All of my clients have been referrals. Before pandemic I had a goal to attend one networking event once a quarter. Face to face interaction was key to receiving leads.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
I created a rebranding plan. I created a YouTube channel, increased my social media presence by providing resources for organizations, and revamped my website. As stated, I started hosting free QuickBooks workshops. These strategies came from me spending time asking what do I know that can help solve people’s problems. I have a skill teaching other accounting concepts. Also, I have a skill finding resources for organizations. I have also found virtual workshops beneficial such as the one hosted by the Hera Hub. It was a great workshop on how to pivot and rebrand your business. I have realized I am more than just accountant.
Can you share your advice about how to best work from home, while balancing the needs of homeschooling or the needs of a family?
I best advice is to plan out your week. I have tasks that I’ve label “Big Rocks.” These are tasks I must get completed. I include these tasks into my schedule. Right now, my husband and I each work on certain days. I will work in the office on Tuesday and Thursday. Be flexible! I’ve realized I can create my own work schedule. It does not have to be Monday to Friday. Also remember to work on your business.
Can you share your strategies about how to stay sane and serene while sheltering in place, or simply staying inside, for long periods with your family?
On my calendar I have Sundays label as quite time/reading day. I listen to gospel music or motivational talks by Warren Buffet, Oprah Winfrey, or Sarah Blakely. Also, we just let the kids play. Its amazing how long they can play by themselves. Lastly, I walk about 2 miles 3–4 times a week. Before the pandemic I would say I am not an outdoor person, but I’ve enjoyed getting out.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
1.Look to others for strength. When I am having a bad day, I remember John Lewis, Harriet Tubman, my mother, or my husband. Use other’s experiences as encouragement to keep going. If they came out on the other side, you can to!
2. Crisis brings opportunity. Even though there are no in person networking events, I have been able to reach people in New York. My outreach is growing. The free webinars have allowed me to share my accounting experience. Ask yourself what door has open for you due to the pandemic?
3.There is still good in the world. Recently a car was stopped in the middle of the road. Cars and cars drove pass. However, one driver, pushed the car by himself. Use good stories to encourage you. There are people who will help you.
4.Crisis brings reflection. This is a great time to analyze how do you want to live. Is there a hobby you want to pick up? Is there a project you want to complete? Create a plan to change your life. I have skills and knowledge to solve other problems.
5.Tomorrow is another day. A lot of times we look at our day to say what have we done. We beat ourselves up because we did finish our task list. Success comes in baby steps. Take small steps.
From your experience, what are a few ideas that one can use to effectively offer support to their family and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
For those feeling anxious, first turn off the TV and radio. I do not listen to the news on a daily basis. I have learned hearing constant discussions on unemployment and the pandemic can affect your thoughts. It can get you down or anxious. Secondly create a morning routine. Do not let the day or others dictate your day. Ask yourself what one thing, you want to do. In the morning for 15 minutes work on that particular goal. These activities will shift your mindset. You will feel energized. I got this tip from listening to clip from the author Toni Morrison. I also have a journal where I jot down thoughts or quotes. These serve as motivation for me.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
If you do what is easy, your life will be hard. If you do what is hard, your life will be easy. — Les Brown
It would have been easy to stay in corporate America. I had health insurance with a constant paycheck. However, something was also tugging at me that I could do more. It is hard starting a business with no network, being pregnant, and a black woman. I had to dig deep to keep going. It feels good being comfortable, but it does not get you success. Making videos is out of my comfort zone but I know people enjoy them which will lead to growth. I can be more, have more, and do more!
How can our readers follow you online?
On Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/linda-diakite-karressy-8b953b
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!