Michael Ly: The Power of Perspective

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By Princess Jones Curtis

“Some people assume that since I run an online bookkeeping firm I must be doing accounting work most of the day,” says Michael Ly, CEO of Reconciled, an award-winning online bookkeeping & CFO practice based in Burlington, VT. “But I’m an entrepreneur first and deal with the same things other entrepreneurs deal with on a daily basis – hiring and managing people, how to provide the best service to our customers, looking for new opportunities for Reconciled to grow, etc.”

“Reconciled’s big vision is to serve 10,000 entrepreneurs per month and impact 100,000 jobs.  We do this by creating a transparent work culture that draws in talented US-based accounting professionals who are passionate about helping entrepreneurs, and providing them the flexibility to work remotely for better work/life balance.”

Ly, who grew up in a multicultural home as a son of Chinese-Cambodian refugees, lived in ethnically-diverse neighborhoods throughout Arizona. “I love and value multicultural environments where people who hold different perspectives but are trying to row in the same direction.  Those perspectives [encourage] me to be intentional about finding candidates from diverse backgrounds, including employees who are first-generation immigrants themselves.”

For organizations looking to increase their diversity initiatives, Ly advises company leaders to start at the beginning. “Start by intentionally getting a diverse set of employees involved at the leadership level through mentoring and professional development.  Also, connect with leaders of companies who are modeling D&I well and learn from them.”

The Arizona State University graduate also recognizes that a certain brand of leadership is required to succeed. “Ask the right questions. Surround yourself with people who don’t think like you. Be willing to reach out for help from people you want to join your team to accomplish your vision.”

To Ly, being a person of color in 2019 means opportunity. “It means you have an opportunity to lead from a different perspective and with a different set of skills that are not found in the majority culture. It also means that you can lead and attract a different set of talent who are looking for leaders that are unique and think differently.”