Joshua Lance, CPA: A Humble, Thoughtful Leader

Blake Oliver: Today we are honoring the life of Joshua Lance, CPA, founder of Lance CPA Group, who passed away in October at the age of 40 after a battle with cancer.

To commemorate Josh's life, we are playing a eulogy delivered by Kenji Kuramoto at Josh's memorial service this past weekend.

Kenji represented the many voices in the accounting profession that Josh was a part of. Kenji shares stories about Josh's humility, thoughtfulness, and influence.

Although Josh never sought the spotlight, he became well-known in the accounting world through his steady leadership and generosity of spirit.

Josh's presence will be deeply missed in the accounting community. And now, here's Kenji.

Kenji Kuramoto: Good morning. My name is Kenji, and I have the great honor of representing the many voices in the accounting profession that Josh was part of. I also, however, shoulder a bit of a burden of sharing something about Josh that you are likely not aware of, or it seems maybe you're becoming more aware of this morning.

Um, and it's a bit of a secret life. I think that maybe even some people who are very close to Josh, um, don't know about. So I apologize in advance if, if there's this hidden side of Josh surprises you or alarms you. But I believe it is important for us to know the whole person that we are honoring here today.

So here's the hard truth about the very quiet, very reserved person that most of us know. And that is, he was actually quite famous. He truly was. Now, it's accounting famous.

But, accounting is a really large profession. There are over 8 million people who practice in our industry. And so you have to remember that at least. It's a very large profession. And so, I mean, I don't know if Nathan and Ella knew this, I mean, your dad truly is really, is really famous. Uh, I was even talking to your mom this week, and I think even she was a little surprised about this being revealed to her.

The amazing team at Lance CPA, I think Sam and them are only coming very recently to realize just how famous their co worker was. So, you're not alone if this comes as very surprising news. But when we think about fame today, Who comes to mind? You know, celebrities, pro athletes, social influencers, right?

People who've been able to draw massive amounts of attention. Well, I checked Josh's Instagram account this morning. And he had a whopping 182 followers. I don't think he's even on TikTok, so. And I don't think he was a pro athlete, but again, I'm also a Bears fan, and so after years of being a friend of Josh's and hearing about the Packers, I've just kind of tuned that part out.

So I could have missed something there. But he doesn't really check the traditional boxes of a famous guy. But get this, Josh built one of the most reputable firms in our profession with the help of his team. He was head of accounting for an incredibly innovative software company in our space. He advised billion dollar companies that serve accountants.

He held leadership roles within the governing body of accounting. He was an immensely popular speaker in our industry. As you've heard, they even, he kept winning this 40 under 40 award. They finally had to stop giving it to him when he stopped becoming under 40, but otherwise it was, that was the reason.

And I love that he was always, he was a teacher. He was a teacher of accounting and the fundamentals of what we all learned at two very prestigious universities. I mean, this guy was legitimately famous. So there's our question, how does a man who never sought attention become famous? I think that question helps us to understand why Josh meant so much to the accounting community and why he was so special to each and every one of us here.

And I'll share a few quick memories. I have of Josh that helped me to understand this fame. So Josh and I serve on a number of advisory boards together. And here's what happens at these advisory sessions. Everyone in the room talks all over each other, trying to prove, you know, how smart they are and hog the spotlight.

Everyone there is trying to be heard, pursuing their own glory. Everyone except for Josh. In one particular council, uh, the first time Josh even spoke up and uttered a word in front of the group was at day two. We were there two full days and Josh finally said something. Uh, but he'd been listening, he'd been observing, he'd been thinking, and he said, I think.

Both Kristen and Brian made great points yesterday, and if we, if we combine those two things we're going to find the right way forward. It was like a mic drop, everyone just stopped and listened and kind of, because, you know, we had been there, um, talking all over ourselves. We had been, you know, thumping our chest about the things that, that we wanted.

And that one concise statement a moment, he solved that issue that the rest of us had missed. Josh spoke truly when he had something to say. Or when he wanted someone else to be recognized. And all of my time with him, I never once saw Josh seek out attention. Yet he always, always managed to capture ours with his humble thoughtfulness.

The accounting profession is kind of a funny community. Many of whom I see here today, and I say that lovingly. We genuinely do not see each other as competitors, so we like to gather together very frequently, because so many of us have become really close. Industry conferences and these advisory councils really serve as a running calendar for us of reunions amongst friends.

And Josh is one of the few people who has been a consistent and steady presence in our community. I remember last year a bunch of us were in Toronto. We've been having fun all night and running around and ended up at this really cool, hip bourbon bar or something and everyone's dancing, chatting, having fun.

And we look, and there's Josh. And he's standing by himself in this massive birdcage. I know, weird thing, right? Birdcage, right? I think all the rest of us had missed it. And the rest of us just turned and saw this and just... Lost it laughing. We all rushed to him and took pictures and we giggled about that all night long.

I don't know. That's a great question. Why was he in the birdcage? But it was Josh.

And then just this August in San Francisco, Josh showed up at a conference when none of us thought he would be there. On the final night of this conference, there was a costume party. I told you again, we're kind of a funny community. We have costume parties and things. And it happened that he and I, along with our good friend Randy.

I saw Randy here a minute ago, um, there he is. We, we all unintentionally showed up having purchased the exact same costume off of Amazon. All three, all three of us had. And when we ran into each other, we just laughed at the sight of ourselves. And Josh said, no, no, this is great. We can be, all be a gang together on our costumes.

That smile and that invitation. To be part of his gang was the highlight of that trip. I have a picture of the three of us, Randy, on my desk at home. That was the last night I saw my friend.

I and the rest of our community are going to struggle without Josh. Because he's always there. He made this consistent, steady presence that you just gravitated to. Because he always made you feel welcome. So yes, Josh had fame. But what I really think he had was influence. I think that's a much better descriptor of him.

And although fame and influence might seem to mean the same thing, I think the differences between the two is quite stark. Fame is fleeting. Influencing another's life is lasting. Fame seeks attention for oneself. Whereas, influencing seeks change for others. He put others before him. He made you knew that you mattered.

He was measured in his thoughts, in his actions, in his words. He was fun loving and also a stable and dependable presence among us. And this is why us accountants, his peers, were drawn to him. This is what made him famous in our eyes and we're going to miss him so dearly, but we're also going to go forth confidently knowing that the people in our profession and those whom our profession serves.

We're given such a gift of having time with this man of influence, Josh Lance.

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Joshua Lance, CPA: A Humble, Thoughtful Leader
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