Returning From the Edge: Reflecting on BeyondTheBlack 2020

3-minute read

I discovered what it’s like to re-engage with BlackLine after a few years of living and working on the periphery. Although I haven’t been fully engaged day to day for a while, I’d like to share some observations from the edge.

During BeyondTheBlack in November, Trevor Noah called out Accounting many times as not being our first choice as a profession. We pick it like the prom wallflower after the more attractive choices are gone.  As a result, we’ve allowed ourselves to be somewhat marginalized professionally—dwelling in a virtual gray drab cubicle of our own design.

BlackLine is like a breath of fresh air in our stale professional room. Better visibility? I can do productive work from my backyard sanctuary. 

Better efficiency? I can step away to handle the screaming toddler or barking dog, and still finish my work with good quality in a reasonable time.  

Better controls? I’m more sure it’s right and sleep better at night. One of the many excellent BeyondTheBlack speakers described Transaction Matching as addictive. Too right!!

BeyondTheBlack’s resounding message was this: we aren’t just worker bees anymore. With BlackLine, we’re creators. Not only do we create our work product, but we also create the foundation, mechanism, automation, and process improvements that make it better. Self-service tools to create our own journal templates, no (incredibly hard to get) IT resources needed? Wow!!

BlackLine enables life-giving work, helping accounting professionals perform at their self-actualized best. 

The isolation of the last few years really sharpened the intellectual and professional blade for me. In years past, I envied those who attended BlackLine’s user conference in person. This year’s BeyondTheBlack was a virtual, blessed privilege to learn from and connect with business professionals again. 

It was a thrill just to see business clothes again! The dance-off and comedy met a deep-seated need to lighten up. 

No, we didn’t see a bunch of live demos this year or even live people in person. We saw something better. 

The most heartening part of BeyondTheBlack was the inspirational, motivational, and fact-driven insight shared across this well-run virtual platform. Another clear message: change is challenging, but it pays off.

At the end of some sessions, the speakers turned on their webcams and answered questions live. Dominick Di Paolo, a dearly loved BlackLiner who passed away a few years ago, used to call it “opening the kimono.” They took intelligent deep dives into details—truly human, and truly delightful.

Education, shared vision, and professional intelligence helps restore our sharpness, no matter the venue. 

We can return confidently from the edge of this year’s isolation to re-engage professionally in new and exciting ways with BlackLine: Finance Innovation Week is taking place from December 8-10. 

Our profession has just collaborated on an entirely new level—almost 18,000 strong—to revolutionize Accounting. Not years down the road, but now

BeyondTheBlack has clearly shown, even amid global chaos, these goals are achievable and within our grasp, one unified platform step at a time.

If you missed any of BeyondTheBlack, watch the sessions on demand. You’ll walk away with clear next steps as your peers share their unique challenges and how they overcame them. You’ll also learn how to define and achieve successful outcomes for your organization from industry leaders.