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Protea Conversations: Andrea Christensen

Protea Conversations: Andrea Christensen

Protea Conversations

Protea Financial was founded in 2014 to provide high quality out-sourced accounting at an affordable price.  Given Protea’s flexible work environment, the Company especially appealed to accountants who wanted to re-enter the work force after taking time off to start a family. This allowed Protea to attract extremely talented individuals who were previously overlooked.  Protea strives to represent people from all backgrounds and provide an environment for them to grow and succeed in a setting that provides the flexibility and acceptance of who they are as people.

We selected the name Protea because it is the national flower of South Africa and is a symbol of our connection. The Protea flower has become an ornamental flower because of its striking beauty and is included in arrangements and bouquets as a symbol of courage or daring to be better or a sign of positive transformation.

Protea Conversations in 2022 will focus on positive transformation and representation from all backgrounds. We are broadening our Conversations with the hope that these conversations will continue to create a forum to discuss the experiences, opportunities, and challenges leaders face, and how we can build a more diverse, inclusive, and successful environment for everyone.

In February we have a conversation with Andrea Christensen.  Andrea is the principal of Allstar West Insurance Services LLC which is the current iteration of H.N. Christensen Co., Inc., the insurance agency her grandfather started in 1923 in San Anselmo, California.  She is the 3rd generation to carry on their business and her daughter, Janelle Robello who is her “right hand”, brings 4 generations to the agency.

Andrea’s career has spanned more than 30 years providing service to her clients, many of whose families have been with the agency for generations as well.

Her vast experience, understanding of the current insurance climate and commitment to education set her apart from her peers.  She calls herself an “insurance nerd” and enjoys monthly classes to keep abreast of the continued changes in the coverages provided by the myriad insurance policies she sells.

A lifelong resident of Marin and Sonoma Counties, Andrea enjoys travelling with her husband, John Ranis, time outside in her vegetable garden, waterskiing and spending time with her family and friends.

Tell us about your journey into the insurance world?

I remember going to the office on weekends with my father when I was 11 or 12 and “cleaning” while he worked.  I’ve never looked back… except for the few minor jobs during school, and the time I quit for a few days over a large disagreement with my father.  I actually am very fortunate to have learned about giving within your community, Rotary International, supporting local business and referring and doing business within your community.  This is where I learned the “giving culture” I still use today and will continue to use.

 

Protea Financial Andrea Christensen

 

What has been the biggest challenge you have experienced in reaching your current success (personally and professionally)?

Professionally – I was a young mom (under 30) with about 5 years of insurance experience when my father had his first heart attack and could not go to the office.  There I was running a male dominated business with 8 employees all older and much more experienced than I.  Here is where “community” comes back in….3 insurance brokers in Marin County that my father knew all called and came to the office to assist me with accounts and questions and my amazing mentor and friend, Joan Capurro, (who just passed away at Christmas) who was a local banker, helped me with personnel issues.  They all helped me get through that time with no one quitting, no losses of accounts and boy, did I learn a LOT!

Personally – staying on track to grow the business and find time to enjoy TODAY.  So really it is what we all talk about these days – work life balance – what are we working for?  We need to enjoy today AND work today AND spend time with our family today…how do we fit it all in?

What are your short term goals of your career and yourself?

2023 will mark 100 years since my grandfather founded our agency.  We started as H.N. Christensen Co., Inc. and have had different names as we merged, purchased and bought out partners over the years.  My family and I are now the sole owners and I am working toward going back to a derivative of the Christensen name (as allowed by the department of insurance) and rebranding for our 100 year anniversary.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received that has helped you in your success?

“It is a bigger feather in your cap to turn an employee around than to dismiss them” …Joan Capurro 1983

What is the piece of advice that you wished you had gotten when you were starting out?

If you are running your own business and don’t have an accounting background, take some accounting classes.  You always should hire professionals to handle your accounting, but if you don’t understand how to read your balance sheet, make projections, understand your expenses and true cost of doing business, you will have a rough road ahead.  Professionals can and will guide you in this but you are ultimately responsible for the success of YOUR business.

Also, and equally important, treat your employees well – VERY WELL – what you give will come back to you time and again.

What advice you give to others to help them be better leaders?

See above ????

Be real – be yourself – don’t take yourself too seriously -laugh at yourself – reach out to get to know who you are working with or leading and do your best.  We are all human, with time constraints – ask for help!  We can’t do everything ourselves so surround yourself with good people – that may mean professionally strong or people who “get it” – depending on what you are doing, but try to choose well and then don’t micromanage!

Can you share something interesting about yourself that will provide insight into who you are outside of the professional space?

I’m a wife, mom, auntie, grandmother, sister, friend, volunteer, businessowner, crafter, Rotarian, photographer, horseback rider, water skier, gardener and we own a 5th wheel trailer for travel.  There aren’t enough hours in the day ever! (I also love watching Women’s College Basketball and the Warriors) –  I love reading and learning – the two go hand in hand – so I read a lot.

I was the first woman inducted into the Rotary Club of Ross Valley in 1988, a club in which my grandfather was a charter member and my father was a current member.  3 men who had known me all or most of my life resigned their membership when I became a member.  I don’t consider myself unique – just a part of the time of change for women in many ways in the world, not just the work environment.  It is interesting to look back on that now.

Last, I had stopped volunteering some in 2017 and was looking for something new when ProVisors started in Marin that year.  When I left home to attend the first meeting, my husband asked me to “sit on both of your hands” so I did not volunteer for anything…. look how well I listen!  I am a member of ProVisors Larkspur and the Group Leader of ProVisors Santa Rosa 2.  It is a fabulous community and how I got to meet Zane Stevens.

As a thank you to our interview and Protea’s commitment to more diverse and inclusive leaders, Protea will make a donation to Positive Images (https://www.posimages.org/). Positive Images is a grassroots nonprofit organization serving Sonoma County since 1990. Their LGBTQIA+ Community Center hosts multiple weekly support groups, a youth leadership development program, mentorship opportunities, an LGBTQIA+ Library, resource and referral station, and a Transformation Station. They proudly offer a warm, welcoming, and affirming environment for young people to explore their individual identities, develop leadership skills, and contribute to our collective community. Positive Images staff lead LGBTQIA+ Cultural Competency Trainings and presentations that educate the greater community focusing on human connection, compassion, and inclusion. Their goal is a community where all LGBTQIA+ people are valued, compassionate community members, creating a just society.

Call Protea Financial for More Information

If you have any questions, please reach out to us here at Protea Financial!

Protea Conversations: John Comfort

Protea Conversations: John Comfort

Protea Financial was founded in 2014 to provide high quality out-sourced bookkeeping and accounting at an affordable price.  Given Protea’s flexible work environment, the Company especially appealed to accountants who wanted to re-enter the work force after taking time off to start a family. This allowed Protea to attract extremely talented individuals who were previously overlooked.  Protea strives to represent people from all backgrounds and provide an environment for them to grow and succeed in a setting that provides the flexibility and acceptance of who they are as people.

We selected the name Protea because is the national flower of South Africa and is a symbol of our connection. The Protea flower has become an ornamental flower because of this striking beauty and is included in arrangements and bouquets as a symbol of courage or daring to be better or a sign of positive transformation.

Protea Conversations in 2022 will focus on positive transformation and representation from all backgrounds. We are broadening our Conversations with the hope that these conversations will continue to create a forum to discuss the experiences, opportunities, and challenges leaders face, and how we can build a more diverse, inclusive, and successful environment for everyone.

In January 2022, we spoke to John Comfort. John developed a passion for IT when serving in the military nearly 3 decades ago.  After the military, John obtained his BS in Business at Sonoma State University. During and after college, John has been engaged in IT projects and services for numerous organizations ranging from a single location to over 800 locations with the most challenging industry being Banking. He founded his first outsourced IT service company over two decades ago and eventually went solo until recently due to client interest and feedback in the area. John has an aptitude for solving IT and cybersecurity problems, helping organizations enhance their competitive edge by leveraging technology to improve the efficiency of processes in the business environment. If there were just two strong points that could be assigned to him, it would be root cause analysis (problem solving) and implementing technologies in creative ways to benefit businesses. After designing network security and infrastructure for middle market clients, he broadened his focus to include smaller businesses, guiding them in the protection and accessibility of their vital data.

John is currently President of Linked MSP, a new startup Managed Services Provider with offerings in three key areas: general IT consulting, fully Managed IT Services, and Cybersecurity services. He enjoys spending quality time over a lunch or dinner with clients to get to know them and their needs. ‘Conversation over a meal is always a more relaxing and engaging environment’ he says. Frequently he finds topics come up over meals that have helped solve upcoming technology and non-tech hurdles. On his free time, he would spend time riding dirt bikes in the mountains with his sons. But since they’ve moved on, he spends the extra time with his wife Melissa puzzling or looking for ways they can visit their children more often, or even trying a new restaurant with a nice glass of local wine! Between John & Melissa they have six children.

 

Tell us about your decision to get into the IT world and your journey to start Linked MSP?

My career began in the US Navy programming small proprietary applications. After finishing my term with the Navy, I entered college on a computer sciences track. During college, I was hired by a large integrator in Los Angeles building servers and migrating systems and is essentially what got me into IT. After moving to Sonoma County in 1997, I started an IT consulting firm (in 2000) providing IT services to the SMB market. In 2009 I left the company to consult independently for customers in a number of sectors including wineries, financial, manufacturing and large estates. In 2017 Linked MSP was formed in response to clients’ requests to contract with them, as it is difficult to find quality service providers with the knowledge, skillset and attention to detail required for today’s challenges.

 

Protea Financial John Comfort Conversation IT Services

 

What has been the biggest challenge you have experienced in reaching your current success (personally and professionally)?

Finding good employees has been and continues to be the biggest challenge in the IT space. The second most challenging aspect is educating customers to understand that there is a heightened importance of IT and Cybersecurity today compared to what it was even 5 years ago.

What are your short term goals of your career and yourself?

Short term goals are to continue to build Linked MSP and provide IT service excellence.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received that has helped you in your success?

Anyone can be good at what they do, but few choose to be excellent.

What is the piece of advice that you wished you had gotten when you were starting out?

Stick with computers! (this was in high school, in the late 80’s before I had any interest in computers)

What advice you give to others to help them be better leaders?

Work hard, have integrity, take care of your customers through attention to detail and forward thinking.

Can you share something interesting about yourself that will provide insight into who you are outside of the professional space?

I enjoy riding dirt bikes in the mountains with my sons, noodling around the technical trails that comb through the forest, reading, and puzzling with my wife.

As a thank you to our interview and Protea’s commitment to more diverse and inclusive leaders, Protea will make a donation to Positive Images (https://www.posimages.org/). Positive Images is a grassroots nonprofit organization serving Sonoma County since 1990. Their LGBTQIA+ Community Center hosts multiple weekly support groups, a youth leadership development program, mentorship opportunities, an LGBTQIA+ Library, resource and referral station, and a Transformation Station. They proudly offer a warm, welcoming, and affirming environment for young people to explore their individual identities, develop leadership skills, and contribute to our collective community. Positive Images staff lead LGBTQIA+ Cultural Competency Trainings and presentations that educate the greater community focusing on human connection, compassion, and inclusion. Their goal is a community where all LGBTQIA+ people are valued, compassionate community members, creating a just society.

Call Protea Financial for More Information

If you have any questions, please reach out to us here at Protea Financial!

Protea Conversations: Diana Maier

Protea Conversations: Diana Maier

Protea Financial was founded in 2014 to provide high quality out-sourced accounting at an affordable price.  Given Protea’s flexible work environment, the Company especially appealed to accountants who wanted to re-enter the work force after taking time off to start a family. This allowed Protea to attract extremely talented individuals who were overlooked.  Over 80% of both Protea’s leadership and accounting teams are women.

We selected the name Protea because is the national flower of South Africa and is a symbol of our connection. The Protea flower has become an ornamental flower because of this striking beauty and is included in arrangements and bouquets as a symbol of courage or daring to be better or a sign of positive transformation.

Protea Conversations focuses on successful woman in business and their achievements.  The hope is that these conversations will create a forum to discuss the experiences, opportunities, and challenges women face, and how we can build a more diverse, inclusive, and successful environment for everyone.

This month we have a conversation with Diana Maier. Diana is the founder of Maier Law Group, a boutique employment law firm attempting to work with employers to create a happier workplace. Diana and her firm have a unique niche serving as an impartial and expertly trained workplace investigators, executive coaches and mediators.

Diana has received mediation training from The Center for Understanding In Conflict, and was also trained by, and serves as an empaneled mediator for, The Northern District Court of California. In addition, she mediates privately and as a an empaneled member of the Contra Costa County Superior Court, the San Mateo County Bar Association, the Central District Court of California, and the Riverside Superior Court mediation programs.

Diana enjoys an outstanding reputation in both the legal and non-legal communities as an effective advocate and strategist due to her unique background. Before attending Stanford Law School, Diana worked as a lobbyist and foreign policy adviser on Capitol Hill. There, Diana learned about the legal process at its inception, the legislation drafting stage. As a foreign policy aide to Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA), and as a legislative aide and lobbyist at a policy lobbying organization.

After attending Stanford Law School (‘’98), Diana became a public defender (a true calling) at the Santa Clara County Public Defender’s Office.  Diana switched to civil practice and employment law in 2003 when she decided she needed something slightly less intense, but equally interesting, for a legal career.

Diana’s passion is helping other lawyers find meaning in their work by practicing mindful lawyering and carrying their deeply held personal values to their professional life. To this end, she, her staff, and an incredible team of volunteer lawyers created the hugely successful Joy in the Law® conferences in September 2016 and September 2018. The Joy in the Law community still meets virtually and from time to time in person.

Listen to Diana speak on Hustle & Flow, The Happy Lawyer Project, and The Wealthy Woman Lawyer podcasts about nurturing joy in the legal profession. Diana was named Solo & Small Firm Attorney of the Month by the California Lawyers Association in September 2021.

When not working Diana likes to exercise (she did the Ironman in 2005), meditate, and enjoy sometimes crazy, sometimes lazy, weekends with her son and daughter and incredibly tolerant husband, Ethan.

Tell us about your journey and how did it happened that you started Maier Law Group (MLG) LLP?

I was working as a public defender right out of law school.  When I decided to try civil law, I couldn’t imagine what I could possibly do that was as interesting as criminal defense work.  I eventually realized that employment law was a close second.  The clients’ stories are interesting and vital, and clients often come to you in crisis, just as indigent criminal defendants do.   There’s a chance to make a difference in someone’s life: to provide sound guidance that helps a person navigate a difficult situation in the workplace, whether that person is the employee (the work I did the first few years I practiced employment law) or the employer (the work I do now) with an intractable problem it is not sure how to solve.

Margarita Wear officially became my law partner this year, so we then became MLG LLP (we may change our name completely at some point).   She and I and our team focus our practice on preventative advice, workplace investigations, and mediations – areas of law we feel passionately about.  We occupy this middle ground between employer and employee: investigating employee complaints; helping opposing parties come to a litigtation-free resolution of their conflict, and educating employers on practices that will keep their employees happy and their environment litigation free.  That is such lovely work to do as a lawyer!

 

Protea Financial Diana Maier

 

What has been the biggest challenge you have experienced in reaching your current success (personally and professionally)?

Be careful what you wish for! I love our work and it’s amazing that MLG has done well, but running a firm can be busy and stressful and there is a lot of juggling to do. Sometimes I just wish we were a little less busy so I could have more down time to spend with the kids or when I’m sick I wish I could just totally check out but that’s hard to do.  That said, I’m not (really) complaining: I have great work-life balance compared to most other lawyers I know; I love the people I work with; and I believe in the work we do.  There’s a lot to be grateful for.

What are your short-term goals of your career and yourself?

To enjoy my work, to feel accomplished but have enough time to spend on the things that are really important: family; self-care; contributing to the world; and enjoying life.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received that has helped you in your success?

My Dad always says, “Pretty good is great.” As someone who has a hard time leaving things at “pretty good” this maxim has helped me remember to leave things at an A- when going for the A+ means compromising quality of life or just making myself or my team crazy for no good reason.

What is the piece of advice that you wished you had gotten when you were starting out?

Just follow your passion.  Everything will unfold if you listen to your internal voice telling you what matters to you and take the basic steps to allow what matters to become a reality.  Life some how finds that energy we put out in the world and multiplies it if we just get the wheels in motion with positive intention.

What advice you give to others to help them be better leaders?

Do what you truly love and always, always, always appreciate the people who are helping make it happen.  They are the keys to your success.  That includes your administrative staff; your colleagues; your life partner who is handling things at home to allow  you to focus on your work, and many more. Also, always question how you are leading and strive to do better.  Ask for lots of feedback from your team, especially critical feedback, and try to put your ego in check to really listen to what they say.  No one does it all well. Read books on leadership and find inspiration to be an exceptional leader, not just an OK one.

As a thank you to our interview and Protea’s commitment to more diverse and inclusive leaders, Protea will make a donation to Vital Voices (https://www.vitalvoices.org/). Vital Voices Global Partnership is a global movement that invests in women leaders who are solving the world’s greatest challenges. They are “venture catalysts,” identifying those with a daring vision for change and partnering with them to make that vision a reality. They scale and accelerate impact through long term investments to expand skills, connections, capacity, and visibility. Over the last 22 years, we have built a network of 18,000 change-makers across 182 countries who are collectively daring to reimagine a more equitable world for all.

Call Protea Financial for More Information

If you have any questions, please reach out to us here at Protea Financial!

Protea Conversations: Rae Paulson

Protea Conversations: Rae Paulson

Protea Financial was founded in 2014 to provide high quality out-sourced accounting at an affordable price.  Given Protea’s flexible work environment, the Company especially appealed to accountants who wanted to re-enter the work force after taking time off to start a family. This allowed Protea to attract extremely talented individuals who were overlooked.  Over 80% of both Protea’s leadership and accounting teams are women.

We selected the name Protea because is the national flower of South Africa and is a symbol of our connection. The Protea flower has become an ornamental flower because of this striking beauty and is included in arrangements and bouquets as a symbol of courage or daring to be better or a sign of positive transformation.

Protea Conversations focuses on successful woman in business and their achievements. The hope is that these conversations will create a forum to discuss the experiences, opportunities, and challenges women face, and how we can build a more diverse, inclusive, and successful environment for everyone.

This month we want to present a conversation with Rae Paulson. Rae has been in public accounting since 2005 where her experience includes responsibility for all phases of audit and review engagement execution, assisting clients with technical accounting issues, the implementation of corporate accounting policies and procedures, best practices, internal controls, accounting for transactions, and more. 

Rae is a member of Moss Adams’ Wine Industry and Food, Beverage and Agriculture groups. She graduated from St. Mary’s College of California with a Bachelor of Science degree and received her MBA from Sonoma State University. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and California Society of Certified Public Accountants.

Rae was raised in Sonoma County and still lives here, with my boyfriend of 23 years and our 2-year-old black lab, Louie.  In her free time she likes getting outdoors to burn off energy with Louie, and hosting dinners for family and friends.

How did you decide to become a CPA and decide to go into the world of assurance?

I always liked both math and science. As an undergraduate at St. Mary’s, I got a degree in Health Science, and while I loved the major and the classes, I did not end up being passionate about the career options that I had. After that I decided to go back to school and test the waters before fully forging ahead with my final plan. I enrolled in introductory accounting classes at the SRJC, and took a job working as a bookkeeper I loved the classes and the subject matter, and the work I was doing in the related field of bookkeeping, so enrolled in the MBA program at Sonoma State where I got my Masters degree and rounded out my accounting education, to later be eligible to sit for the CPA exam and start a career in public accounting.

Protea Financial CPA Image for Rae Paulson

What was the decision to join Moss Adams and what has kept you at the firm for 15+ years?

I worked for a smaller firm in Marin County for over a year while I finished up my education and after graduating. Sonoma County is my home, so the decision to join Moss Adams had to do with the appeal of joining the largest local accounting firm that could afford all the opportunity and experience I could want out of a long-term career, coupled with reducing commute time. I knew a few people who worked at Moss Adams before I joined, and having been a softball player, including through college at St. Mary’s, my friends at Moss recruited me to help out on the softball team. Getting to know many of the people from the office from staff to Managing Partner in that casual environment made the decision to join Moss Adams an easy one. While I mention opportunity and experience, as I believed (and still do) Moss Adams could provide all the career path opportunity of the largest CPA firms, while it sounds cliché, it was the people at Moss Adams that brought me to the firm, and is the reason I’m still here today over 15 years later. It is a large group (approximately 100 people in the North Bay), diverse enough in personalities, work style, hobbies and interests to find many different people you connect with in different ways and like working in teams with, but still retains a small enough feel to know everyone personally and have a comfortable, close-knit feeling across the office group, which is important to me.

What has been the biggest challenge you have experienced in reaching your current success (personally and professionally)?

Being a CPA is not a stress-free job. It is deadline driven, and involves continuous learning, change, progression, and challenge. While I would not have been satisfied with a more complacent career path, I have definitely had room to improve on how I handle stress, learning to worry less, communicate more, enlist the help of others when needed, and be proactive, to minimize the stresses that are largely inherent in this profession. Personally, dealing with the other side of all of the above outside of work, and finding balance that works for myself and my family, takes conscious effort. There is always endless opportunity at work to take on projects, learn something new, serve additional clients, but those opportunities and pressures have to be balanced with being happy and fulfilled in our non-work lives as well.

What are your short-term goals of your career and yourself?

At this stage my clear short-term goal is making Partner. This is a plan I have been actively working toward with advisors and mentors within Moss Adams and is my next big short-term career goal.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received that has helped you in your success?

An important reminder I’ve received is that we are part of a large firm, and we have lots of help, expertise, and resources, so when things get a little over loaded, we are all a team and we WILL get it done and will get it done in a way that will keep our clients well-served but also be sustainable to myself and others.

What is the piece of advice that you wished you had gotten when you were starting out?

The above! In recent years I have had several positive examples of pulling in other resources, moving around projects, and seeing successful examples of work getting done but not all falling on, or staying on, my own shoulders to finish things out that get behind or where a curveball is thrown in to the mix. It would have been a huge relief earlier on in my career if I had asked for help more and had experiences like this.

What advice do you give to others to help them be better leaders?

Give and gain respect by genuinely caring about and supporting your team, while also remaining consistent and fair about what it takes to meet expectations and to be a successful part of the team.

As a thank you to our interview and Protea’s commitment to more diverse and inclusive leaders, Protea will make a donation to Vital Voices (https://www.vitalvoices.org/). Vital Voices Global Partnership is a global movement that invests in women leaders who are solving the world’s greatest challenges. They are “venture catalysts,” identifying those with a daring vision for change and partnering with them to make that vision a reality. They scale and accelerate impact through long term investments to expand skills, connections, capacity, and visibility. Over the last 22 years, we have built a network of 18,000 change-makers across 182 countries who are collectively daring to reimagine a more equitable world for all.

Find Your Bookkeeper

We provide your organization a true end-to-end solution to all of your bookkeeping needs. Tax season is year-round to Protea – if you aren’t preparing daily, it’s easy to fall behind. We are always working with your organization to streamline your business’s reports and accounting processes.

Protea Conversations: Wilder Clements

Protea Conversations: Wilder Clements

Protea Financial was founded in 2014 to provide high quality out-sourced accounting at an affordable price.  Given Protea’s flexible work environment, the Company especially appealed to accountants who wanted to re-enter the work force after taking time off to start a family. This allowed Protea to attract extremely talented individuals who were overlooked.  Over 80% of both Protea’s leadership and accounting teams are women.

We selected the name Protea because is the national flower of South Africa and is a symbol of our connection. The Protea flower has become an ornamental flower because of this striking beauty and is included in arrangements and bouquets as a symbol of courage or daring to be better or a sign of positive transformation.

Protea Conversations focuses on successful woman in business and their achievements.  The hope is that these conversations will create a forum to discuss the experiences, opportunities, and challenges women face, and how we can build a more diverse, inclusive, and successful environment for everyone.

This month we have a conversation with Wilder Clements. Wilder is the Principal Attorney and Founder of Clements Employment Law, P.C. Wilder is a labor and employment attorney focused on serving the needs of culture-first organizations and businesses and advises individuals who have been treated unfairly at work.

Wilder brings over a decade of labor and employment law practice to their law firm, which is LGBT owned. Wilder has been recognized as a Northern California SuperLawyer Rising Star.

Prior to starting their own firm, Wilder practiced labor and employment law as Senior Counsel at a major San Francisco Bay Area law firm. With clients ranging from large public agencies, to large healthcare providers, to start-ups and small businesses. Previously, Wilder served as counsel to the Berkeley Law Center on Health, Economic & Family Security, where they developed model legislation for national paid family leave. While attending Berkeley Law, Wilder served as a law clerk for the City and County of San Francisco and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Wilder was also a senior policy advocate the Human Rights Campaign in Washington, D.C., where they lobbied Congress to extend workplace protections to LGBT people.

Wilder devotes a significant portion of their services to pro bono and sliding scale legal assistance, including representing asylum-seekers, advising local nonprofits on employment law issues, and assisting with criminal justice reform impact litigation. They are an active member of the Bar Association of San Francisco, the Sonoma County Bar Association, and the National LGBT Bar Association.

Originally from the Great Plains, Wilder maintains a deep love of the outdoors and wild, open space. When they are not practicing law, you can find them hiking a trail or camping in their Airstream or a tent with their family, usually somewhere in beautiful Sonoma County.

 

Tell us about your journey and how did it happened that you started Clements Employment Law, P.C.?

After I graduated from Berkeley Law with an emphasis in labor and employment law, I worked for a large firm in San Francisco. But my original roots are small town – my father, grandfather, and great grandfather were all small law firm practitioners in Nebraska. They also had other entrepreneurial enterprises. I always longed for the close connection they had with their clients and community. I wanted to take my significant experience and start a culture-first law firm that helps California businesses and workers thrive in the 21st century workplace. So, I took a risk to offer something I thought was missing in California labor and employment legal services: high quality counsel, transparent fees, and an eye towards putting people first, who are a company’s biggest asset.

I founded Clements Employment Law, P.C. on the desire and vision to provide high quality employment counsel to businesses and organizations committed to developing a positive, inclusive workplace culture.

Protea Financial Labor and Employment Law Angela Clements

What has been the biggest challenge you have experienced in reaching your current success (personally and professionally)?

Self-doubt and being willing to ignore the naysayers! Every risk I have ever taken has been worth it. Even when I “fail,” I learn something very valuable.  It is very important to be in the right mindset to succeed as an entrepreneur.

What are your short-term goals of your career and yourself?

I want to continue to be a leader in offering high-quality, values-driven employment law counsel to California businesses and organizations. I want to educate business and Human Resources leaders about the importance of tending to organizational culture. A negative workplace culture is absolutely a legal liability for companies that do not tend to it.  I want to take my significant background and knowledge of diversity, equity and inclusion to companies, while helping them with the day-to-day HR headaches that come up in California (wage and hour law, for example!).

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received that has helped you in your success?

It is ok to ask for help, especially during the multiple crises we have faced – wildfires, COVID-19. Everyone has their own struggle.  It’s okay to share yours.

What is the piece of advice that you wished you had gotten when you were starting out?

Don’t obsess about your monthly financials. Plan quarterly. Have faith.

What advice you give to others to help them be better leaders?

At the end of the day, employees don’t remember what you say to them or what is in your employee handbook. They remember how you made them feel.  From my perspective, most big legal employment problems first started out as a small problem. My strength is helping companies tend to those small problems so they do not cause financial and reputational issues down the line.

As a thank you to our interview and Protea’s commitment to more diverse and inclusive leaders, Protea will make a donation to Vital Voices (https://www.vitalvoices.org/). Vital Voices Global Partnership is a global movement that invests in leaders who are solving the world’s greatest challenges. They are “venture catalysts,” identifying those with a daring vision for change and partnering with them to make that vision a reality. They scale and accelerate impact through long term investments to expand skills, connections, capacity, and visibility. Over the last 22 years, we have built a network of 18,000 change-makers across 182 countries who are collectively daring to reimagine a more equitable world for all.

Find Your Bookkeeper

We provide your organization a true end-to-end solution to all of your bookkeeping needs. Tax season is year-round to Protea – if you aren’t preparing daily, it’s easy to fall behind. We are always working with your organization to streamline your business’s reports and accounting processes.

Protea Conversations: Yuko Tsuchida

Protea Conversations: Yuko Tsuchida

Protea Financial was founded in 2014 to provide high quality out-sourced accounting at an affordable price.  Given Protea’s flexible work environment, the Company especially appealed to accountants who wanted to re-enter the work force after taking time off to start a family. This allowed Protea to attract extremely talented individuals who were overlooked.  Over 80% of both Protea’s leadership and accounting teams are women.

We selected the name Protea because is the national flower of South Africa and is a symbol of our connection. The Protea flower has become an ornamental flower because of this striking beauty and is included in arrangements and bouquets as a symbol of courage or daring to be better or a sign of positive transformation.

Protea Conversations focuses on successful woman in business and their achievements.  The hope is that these conversations will create a forum to discuss the experiences, opportunities, and challenges women face, and how we can build a more diverse, inclusive, and successful environment for everyone.

Yuko is the founder and Managing Director of Hito, LLC. Hito help companies reduce taxes utilizing different tax codes. During her career, she has helped small to Fortune 500 companies save over $100 million dollars in taxes.

Yuko began her career with KPMG in downtown Los Angeles preparing tax returns for multinational companies. After few years, she decided to start a boutique tax consulting firm with her former business partner, where she had successful exit in 2016.

Yuko enjoys being involved in the Entrepreneur Organization and volunteering for UCI and Cal State Fullerton as a mentor. In her free time, she loves being active from running and skiing to surfing. She loves to cook and spend time with family and friends.

Tell us about your journey and how did it happened that you started Hito, LLC?

I was born and raised in Japan. I was a funny kid, obsessed with my abacus classes and attended 3-5 times a week after school from 1st grade on. Naturally, I really liked math.

I grew up in a family business where my parents had a small construction business. After the housing bubble burst in 90s, I saw my parents and their entrepreneur friends struggle. I thought to myself that I want to help people like my parents when I grew up.

With my passion towards math, I decided I wanted to become accountant at age 14 since I thought this profession will satisfy both of my wants which were using math and helping business owners.

I started my career with Big 4 accounting firm, where I prepared tax returns for multinational corporations. Although I learned a lot about taxes, I didn’t feel that I was helping businesses. While I was in search for different area of taxes where I can help businesses, my mother got diagnosed with cancer, so I needed flexibility to travel back and forth between Japan and the US. The group I was working for wasn’t able to accommodate my requests.

Therefore, I decided to start a CPA firm with my colleague from KPMG. I wanted to create a firm where professionals can excel their career even if they have family and need more flexibility. The first CPA firm is now called “Think, LLP.” We built an amazing team who were passionate about helping businesses. We focused on discovering strategies for companies to save taxes so that they can reinvest their freed up cash into their businesses. As we grew, I discovered my partner and I had different view for the firm and I witnessed our culture shifted drastically. Therefore, I decided to exit out.

After taking 1.5 years off, going back to school for my MBA, working with a nonprofit organization (orphanage) in Soweto, Johannesburg, and searching for my passion and desire, I decided to start HITO. I wanted to create a culture focused-company where I can work with people I love and care for. We look for people who are humble, hungry, and smart in our employees and also clients we work with. Through the alignment of our culture and value which is upstanding, outstanding, and understanding internally and externally, we are making more impact in our clients businesses and the local communities they are located in. All of us are passionate about tax credits and incentives since our clients reinvest that money into their businesses to grow and a provide better life for their employees through providing better workplace, training, providing opportunities which impact their local communities.

I named this company “HITO” meaning people in Japanese. Although we are providing tax consulting services, I wanted everyone to remember people comes first. We want everyone to remember why they came to work at HITO (making impact in others’ life) and always appreciate people around them. In addition to that, I wanted to dedicate this company to people who influenced me and made me who I am today.

Yuko-Tsuchida

What has been the biggest challenge you have experienced in reaching your current success (personally and professionally)?

My own beliefs. Looking back, I’ve put many limitations in my life because of my internal briefs. I’m still learning why I think certain ways, why certain things trigger me, or why I react the way I do… Many internal beliefs I have are built on family dynamics, cultural, society, traumas, etc. from childhood. Understanding myself allows me to challenge and push myself in the different levels. It is never-ending learning processes and I’m enjoying it.

 

What are your short term goals of your career and yourself?

The short term goal for HITO (my career) is to build a solid team who has similar culture and value. HITO was started in October 2017 and is still fairly young. As we grow, we need quality processionals who can expand our service offering so that we can grow with our clients’ growth. Also, having more like-minded people will allow us to work smarter (not harder) so that all of us can have life outside of the work and create a meaningful life. Having said that, all of us don’t believe in “work life balance.” Instead, we believe in “work life together” meaning that our work and life integrate. All of us believe that we are in it together to win in personal and professional life.

As far as myself… Building businesses have been my passion and baby. I haven’t had fortune to find a man who I want to spend my life with and create a family with. Given my age, I decided to start a family by myself. Raising child without a partner and father is scary… Having said that my family and close friends are excited to have a baby as well as decision I made. I’m in the early stage of the process but I hope to become a mother in 2022 or 2023.

 

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received that has helped you in your success?

I think my success comes from teaching from my parents. They often said “You are the pioneer of your life. Dream big, put your head down, and work hard. Then you can achieve anything you put your mind to. When I encounter hurdles, I always remember to believe in myself that I can do anything I can put my mind to it as long as I work hard and don’t give up!

 

What is the piece of advice that you wished you had gotten when you were starting out?

Be yourself….

As an immigrant, and a woman in the male dominant industry, I felt I should act in the certain ways when I was a young professional. I always felt there was something missing. Leaning how to be more authentic, vulnerable, and being myself created closer relationships with my colleagues and even with clients. For me, I want to create meaningful relationships, whether it is personal or professional. Although it was much easier to pretend to be like someone else professionally, being myself brought me great friends, colleagues, and clients who I really enjoy collaborating and spending time with, and learning from.

 

What advice you give to others to help them be better leaders?

Learn and be aware of who you are.

For me, being a better leader is to be a better person and creating spaces for your team members to express themselves. In order to do so, I need to listen to them to understand, not to react. It is difficult… For me, not to react and to surrender to them, I need to be completely open. I’m still learning and will be always learning how to do this perfectly. Having said that, it helped me a lot to be more open from learning about how I process information and react.

As a thank you to our interview and Protea’s commitment to more diverse and inclusive leaders, Protea will make a donation to Vital Voices (https://www.vitalvoices.org/). Vital Voices Global Partnership is a global movement that invests in women leaders who are solving the world’s greatest challenges. They are “venture catalysts,” identifying those with a daring vision for change and partnering with them to make that vision a reality. They scale and accelerate impact through long term investments to expand skills, connections, capacity, and visibility. Over the last 22 years, we have built a network of 18,000 change-makers across 182 countries who are collectively daring to reimagine a more equitable world for all.

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