The Question You Need to Ask Yourself

by Tom G. Donaghy, CPA, WSCPA Chair for 2017-18 | Jan 04, 2018

I recently watched a video of a life-size robot jumping on and off different levels of platforms. The robot does a full flip afterwards to celebrate. Elon Musk made a comment about this video, “This is nothing. In a few years, that bot will move so fast you'll need a strobe light to see it. Sweet dreams…”

Robotics was just one of the topics discussed at the AICPA Fall Council meeting in San Antonio, Texas last October. I attended this meeting, along with representatives from every state CPA society in the country and their respective board officers, and walked away with fascinating and incredibly interesting details of the hot topics of the day—cybersecurity, big data, blockchain, process robotics, and artificial intelligence.Those who embrace and get very familiar with these topics now will prevail.

In stark contrast to all of these technology-related topics, one speaker that really caught my attention at the meeting was John O’Leary and his personal story about a life-threatening accident that happened to him when he was just 9 years old.

John grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. One day, he was playing in his garage with a gas can and it exploded. The resultant fire burned 100% of his body, 80% with third degree burns. He was given only a 1% chance of survival. Miraculously he lived, thanks to his persistent medical providers, the love, prayers, and support of friends and family, and inspirational visits from a play-by-play announcer for the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team, Jack Buck.

Mr. Buck didn't know John, so why would he take time out of his busy schedule to visit him in the hospital many times? For the full story, you will have to read the book On Fire: The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life. Mr. O’Leary credits Mr. Buck for having a tremendous impact on his recovery process.

Mr. O’Leary, now 40 years of age, is a motivational speaker who travels the world sharing his story. At the end of his inspirational presentation, he challenged us to ask one question of ourselves, “What more can I do?”

What More Can I Do?

For some of us, just thinking of that question is exhausting. We are already out there supporting our communities through active involvement in local charities and business-related clubs. Our calendars are already full. Just as Mr. Buck went the extra mile for a cause that meant something to him, we need to ask ourselves, “What more can I do for a cause that is important to me?” No matter what stage in life we are, from college student to retiree, there are plenty of opportunities to give back to the community where we live and work.

As far as giving back to your professional community, I know the WSCPA would welcome your involvement and support with open arms regardless of where you are in your career. For those of you in the early stages or even in college, joining and getting involved in the WSCPA provides so many benefits to help you jump start your career, and at the same time, you are helping one of the best run professional organizations support the profession through education, advocacy, and career development. For those with more professional experience, I can’t think of a better way for you to get involved than to mentor those in the early stages of their careers. With all of your experience, you have so much to offer.

As I visit chapter meetings and talk with students on campuses, I keep hearing how students and young professionals are starving for guidance on how to succeed in the business world. A great way to give back to your profession is to help new professionals be successful. Attend a WSCPA event, talk with the rising stars, and see how fulfilling it is to know that you are helping others be just as successful as you are.

So ask yourselves, “What more can I do?”

Tom-Donaghy-Headshot-Web-150x200Thomas G. Donaghy, CPA is an investment officer and financial advisor in Bellingham, Washington. You can contact him at

This article appeared in the winter 2018 issue of the WashingtonCPA Magazine. Read more here.

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