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Lessons I’ve Learned – Vicki Greshik

Vicki Greshik

Dear fellow Jimmies:

I’m retiring at the end of the current academic year, and before riding off into the sunset on the back of my husband’s Harley, I’d like leave you with some of the lessons I’ve learned.

Do what you love. Love what you do.

I love what I do. I can’t imagine going to work every day and hating your job, or feeling bored or ambivalent. Fortunately, I love accounting, which is all about putting information together in such a way that you tell a story. Even more so, I love the tax code and all of its (many) quirks and foibles, which does generally call into question my mental state. And the magic of consolidated financial statements and diluted earnings per share? Don’t get me started on how cool those are. UJ gave me the opportunity to spend LOTS of time thinking about, and even better, teaching others a topic that I find truly fascinating.

If you do what you love and find interesting, you will enjoy it. Work will always be work, but it can also be a lot of fun, if you love what you do. And it’s OK to not love it all. I can’t say that even I love every minute of my job. (There’s a reason the phrase “death by meeting” was invented, after all.)

Vicki Greshik with a student holding tax forms.When you truly enjoy your work, it is easier to be a happier and positive person. As a teacher, that’s no small thing. No matter what my mood was on any given day, I knew it was important to walk into the classroom with a smile and a positive attitude. How could I have expected students to be excited about accounting and tax if I was not? This is true of anything. When you are truly interested and invested in what you do, it shows in your action and speech, and people respond to that in both work and life.

Get rid of the unnecessary.

Diluted earnings per share is a lot like life. You essentially start with a monster pile of financial information. You have to sort it, figuring out what you need and what you don’t. Take the parts that are important and prioritize them, then organize it into a cohesive whole. This is your life. Look at everything in it. What’s important? Then, get rid of everything that’s irrelevant and definitely get rid of bad habits and toxic people. They don’t make for a better life, just like bad or unneeded information doesn’t make for a better diluted earnings per share.

Vicki Greshik posing with friends in a kickboxing workout area.

Take chances.

As they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained. The worst that can happen is that you fail or someone says no. What do you truly have to lose? Some of you may know that I’ve taught accounting at UJ for 30 years. But how many of you also know that I quit my job to go to college when I was 30, and got my degree at 33? It was hard and there were times I felt like I had made a terrible mistake (let’s not talk about the 70% on my first two college quizzes). But I took the chance, and I stayed the course. As a result, I was later fortunate enough to spend the next three decades teaching a subject I was passionate about at my alma mater. I was fortunate enough to see many of my students start, and more importantly enjoy, their own careers in accounting.

By the same token, I took up kickboxing in my 60s (yes, you read that right). If I’d never tried kickboxing because of my complete lack of athletic coordination, I would have missed what is quite possibly the most satisfying physical activity ever invented. (Keep in mind, too, that all that kicking and punching made for a way less stressed-out professor, especially in VITA season.) So, remember that it’s OK to take chances. It’s OK if some of them don’t pan out. Some of them will, and you’ll be so glad that you were brave enough to try.

Vicki Greshik with a student holding documents.

Be a good person.

Help someone without expecting something in return. Listen. It costs you nothing. My dad taught me that the content of our character is measured by how we treat someone who can do us absolutely no good. That’s a pretty good lesson, and it will apply in every facet of your life, no matter who you are, and what you end up doing.

I have greatly enjoyed my time at UJ. I have wonderful coworkers, and have had the pleasure to see countless students grow into interesting young adults who are making their own way in the world. For my part, while I am sad to leave UJ, I am also incredibly excited for the next part of my life. I get to try new things, read all the books in my stack, and stop to smell the flowers that I plant. And who knows where Dave’s Harley may take us?

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Posted:February 22, 2019

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