How This CPA Feature can Help you Live a Better Life

Cat Cover CPA Magazine

Just came back from France. This surprise was waiting for me!


Ok. I admit it wasn’t completely a surprise. The fine folks  at CPA Alberta (Labonneau and Nathan), Dustin and Adam at Laughing Dog Photography and I got together in August to put this together. I am extremely honoured to be on the cover of this edition’s CPA Magazine!

A number of folks have contacted me, asking where they can read the feature article. So I thought I’d post it on my blog, since only CPA’s in Alberta would get a copy… and there is no online edition.



Candid: Catherine Lam CPA, CMA

As told to Labonneau Dey
Photograph by Laughing Dog. (A special thank you to Hole’s Greenhouses & Gardens for their cooperation.)

As an IT Consultant, Catherine Lam CPA, CMA was travelling so much she only saw her husband 24 times in their first year of marriage. Her time, career direction, and life felt out of control. So she made the brave decision to work for herself as an IT contractor.

Since straying off the beaten track, Cat hasn’t looked back. Through her blog – ITSolopreneurs ( – she’s helping others take control of their lives as well.


On reaching out…

“[Through self-employment] I’ve had success in the last 12+ years but I’ve had to learn the hard way. Through plenty of trial and error, I’ve gathered so much intel that I want to share with other people so why wouldn’t I do my part not only to save people some grief, but guide them to the best possible outcomes?”


On the bigger picture…

“ ITSolopreneurs is a place where you can find personal and professional development, cross-pollinated with humour and pop culture. My vision for ITSolopreneurs is eventually to offer career mentorship, whereby we would help people define their career plan independent of any company. ITSolopreneurs would be a place where people can engage in educational material (courses, books, seminars) in various different areas, including technical, soft skills, and business skills; a place for people to connect and work with mentors, who have trodden the path and found success, to realize their dream careers. The key to success is to find someone who has done what you want to do, and copy them.”


On becoming your own boss…

Not everyone is cut out to own their own business right away. Working for yourself is a good preparatory step to building and owning a business. Some people also just prefer to be their own boss, and no one else’s. That can totally create an awesome life as well.”


“As an independent contractor, you have more control of your time, career, and productivity. But you are also more accountable. You’re on your own for training, taxes, compliance, and finding your next gig to stay in business.”


On leaving a traditional career route…

“Figure out what you want first. Build on the idea/passion. Keep adding to your vision daily and let it grow. Before you know it, something magical happens. Opportunities appear. It’s the Law of Attraction. But you have to be clear on what you’re asking. The universe has a way of nudging you in the direction you need to go.”


On road bumps…

“Failure sucks and it hurts, but you can’t sail through life without any bumps or bruises. It’s okay to wallow in self-pity for a little while before recognizing the opportunity in your failure. Then you dust yourself off, and recognize the lessons you learned. It’s what you do with those lessons – the upward trend that counts.”


running in the woods-min 

On hindsight

“I’d be lying if I said I don’t cringe when I think of my past mistakes. There have been a few life events that have turned out to be cornerstones in my life. And, to paraphrase Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford Commencement Address: It’s only when you turn around and look back at the dots in your past that you can see the way they all connect. Every dot has shaped who I am and led me where I am today.”

On inspiration for…

“If I find it funny, I’m going to write about it. If it makes me laugh, I’ll probably publish it* . If I learned something from it, I’ll definitely publish it. The thing about ITSolopreneurs is that it’s professional development infused with quirky humour and pop culture.

Cat’s blog features humorous but relevant business articles such as “How to Get Your Way like Toddlers and Dogs” and “Why Your Net Worth is Sexy.”


On the CPA designation…

“The CPA designation carries a lot of clout and we are seen as experts in business. And CPAs have an arsenal of skills so you don’t have to be limited to your job title.”

“CPAs are taught to find solutions, guide an organization, and make it awesome.”


On personal development…

“Most people focus on technical skills. Generally, we assume that soft skills and people skills are innate. That’s the least of it. The defining factor that helps people excel in their career is not necessarily how technically good they are, but how well they interact and work with people.”

“Personal development is extremely important to me. To be an entrepreneur, you have to look out for yourself. Seek to better yourself as a person and as a creator of a business that is going to help the community.”


On branching out…

“Healthy living is a huge priority in my life. Getting certified for fitness opened so many doors that I would never have thought possible. It saved me through dark periods in my life.” I think it’s important to have interests in fields completely different from your profession, like how Apple is the intersection between technology and liberal arts. It’s only when you have multiple completely different disciplines fusing together that you can create something completely new.


On priorities…

“Having a clear understanding of your values is so important to structuring your life. Don’t try to multi-task your values.  When you’re at work, focus on your work. When you’re with family, it should be all about family. When it’s time to exercise, then devote that time to exercising. Be in the moment.”


On success…

“The secret to success is to find someone who has done what you want to do and emulate them. It matters not one bit that you don’t know how to do something. Anything and everything can be learned. You just have to acquire the skill from someone who’s done it before.”



(independent what was published in the magazine)

Look. Whenever you’re working towards a goal… whatever it may be. It could be that you’re trying to start a business, or start learning about an interest you always had. A very wise woman whose name currently escapes me once said, “It feels like failure in the middle.” It’s not until the end that you can look back and see the path to get there. The road to success is strewn with great ideas and abandoned execution plans. The trophy always goes to the tortoise who consistently follows through little by little… all the way to the finish line.


Thank you CPA Alberta for featuring ITSolopreneurs and me! I am extremely grateful for this opportunity!


  • Fil

    Reply Reply November 13, 2016

    I concur with you 100% in all your insights and you express it so well in words.

    • Cat Lam

      Reply Reply November 14, 2016

      hahah! Thanks FIL!

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