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HeadWaters Leadership Conference

  • 2018 Overview
  • 2018 Agenda
  • 2018 Location
  • 2019 Sponsorship
  • Past Conferences

HeadWaters 2014 - July 10-11, 2014 at the Ritz Carlton in Denver, CO.

HeadWaters 2019 will be held July 11-12, 2019 in Denver Colorado.

Watch for additional details soon!


HeadWaters Conference brochure

Conference session    




Sponsors for the HeadWaters 2018 Conference
Anderson ZurMuehlen Technology Services brings 60 years of accounting firm experience into our services and our approach. We understand accounting firms - your operations and your clients. Our passion is to improve the lives of those we work with, and we are eager to share our expertise with you. With a suite of technology offerings, including IT Security, Desktop-as-a-Service and Business Intelligence, we form true partnerships with our clients to help them succeed.
  Ernst & Morris is the nation’s oldest and largest firm dedicated to performing Cost Segregation and 179D Energy studies. E&M works with hundreds of CPA firms and has completed over 15,000 engineering based studies. Ernst & Morris offers superior service and technical assistance including complete audit support.
  Practice Engine™ combines a strong technical emphasis with close client relationships to secure and retain a substantial list of top firms as clients. We achieve this through our browser-based Practice Management system that is suitable for all sizes of firms who are looking for a strategic product that will meet their current and future needs. Practice Engine™ provides this using the latest database and web technology.

Ernst & Morris Cost Segregation



Tri-Merit serves leading CPA firms and their clients by providing Specialty Tax Services to identify and secure maximum credits, deductions, and incentives.

Ernst & Morris Cost Segregation


1st Global believes that accounting, tax and estate planning firms are uniquely qualified to provide comprehensive wealth management services to their clients. As a premier research and consulting partner to select CPA and tax planning firms, 1st Global provides the education, technology, business-building framework and client solutions necessary to grow strong wealth management enterprises inside the nation’s top firms.


Becoming an Exceptional Business Advisor

With the changes coming to our profession, ideally each team member becomes a proactive, forward-thinking business advisor, no matter their focus. But how do you implement this firm-wide? What do you need to do to encourage everyone in the firm to develop expertise that is relevant and valuable to clients, so they can proactively analyze current client service offerings, evaluate potential new client needs and not just guide clients through their accounting questions, but also offer innovative strategies for business growth?

Join us for HeadWaters 2018 and industry experts will provide step-by-step guidance to move your firm from compliance to advising.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018 Special Pre-conference Add-on Event

1:00 – 5:30

Introduction to Advanced Pricing MethodsSM

  Michelle Golden River, President of Fore LLC
  New this year, Upstream is partnering with Michelle Golden River to offer an exclusive half-day workshop on “how to price in advance.” This high-ROI workshop is an abbreviated version of the full-day workshop she teaches internally to firms and is $600/person for the half-day session—an investment you could recoup in a single proposal when you apply what you’ll learn. Michelle will introduce some mindset-shifting concepts but mostly get down to the nitty gritty in three key areas: considerations and due diligence before committing to a price (to mitigate scope risks), step-by-step how to embark on a highly effective solving-not-selling process, and the elements each Advanced Pricing proposal should contain.  You and your team won’t want to miss this session!
8:00 – 5:00


Thursday, July 12, 2018  
7:00 – 8:00 Breakfast  
8:00 – 8:15 Welcome and Logistics  
  Tim Bartz, Director at Upstream Academy  
8:15 – 9:30

What’s Your SQ?

  Jeremy Clopton, Owner of What’s Your SQ  

Do you know your strategic question? Chances are you're struggling to overcome challenges: integrating millennials, effectively managing data, moving the needle on innovation, etc. But it’s also likely you are focused on the wrong questions. Rather than taking the traditional approach to these topics, Jeremy will encourage you to start with different questions. Through engaging discussion, humor and actionable takeaways, Jeremy will use the SQ Method to provide attendees the framework they need to ask the right questions, get the answers they need, and overcome challenges.

9:30 – 9:45 Break  
9:45 – 11:00

You’re Worth More than You Think: Proving You’re a Consultant, not a Commodity

  Michelle Golden River, President of Fore LLC  

Worth is a mindset that starts with your own beliefs. But it has to be based on much more than flowery presentations with loosely defined outcomes. Use the right discovery techniques and more effective language to increase the worth others see when they invest in YOU. Learn powerful approaches that position the impact you bring to your clients. And help ensure you get paid based on your true worth. Join Michelle for this session and she’ll explore how to prepare for client meetings, develop creative solutions to propose, use solution-mapping to broaden your mindset, and provide more holistic approaches that focus on clients’ outcomes.

11:00 – 11:15 Break  
11:15 – 12:30

Getting Past the Past: Overcoming the Barriers to Change

  Sam Allred, Director at Upstream Academy  

Creating sustainable change is a constant struggle for organizations and individuals. So how do you get past the flavor-of-the-week change initiatives, to move the firm to real progress? How do you build trust and create excitement when your firm has had too many failed initiatives, short-lived change efforts, and entrenched bad habits? Join Sam as he discusses what’s holding firms back so you can successfully lead change initiatives, diagnose the real causes behind resistance to change, transform culture, and influence behavior across the organization. Learn to create rapid and sustainable change.

12:30 – 1:30 Lunch  
1:30 – 2:45 Concurrent Sessions – Select One of Five Sessions  

Joining Your Client’s Management Team: Creating a Sustainable Controllership Service

  Tim Larsen, Partner at Squire & Company, PC.  

Many firms trying to find the right formula to develop and grow successful niche consulting practices turn to controller services. With a firm’s wealth of accounting knowledge (and desire to become more advisory), starting a controllership service is a natural choice. Join Tim for an in-depth discussion of the challenges in launching a controllership service, as well as best practices to ensure success. He’ll share his personal experiences, including the things that went smoothly and those that could have used a little more refinement and planning.


Tech Savvy to Tech Profitable: Succeeding with a Technology Consulting Niche


Robert Culpon, Chief Information Officer for AZTS


As a firm grows, technology can either be one of its greatest allies or most formidable foes. Which seems to make a technology consulting niche a perfect solution for firms who have conquered this challenge. Since you know the problems, you can craft the perfect solutions, right? But it takes more than a good idea to get a technology consulting practice off the ground. Join Robert as he shares his own experience of starting a successful technology consulting practice and the people, resources, processes and backing you’ll need to be successful.


Stop Producing an Irrelevant Professional: New Practices for the New Accountant


Dena Jansen, Founder and Voice of Dena Speaks


Getting all of the partners on board simply isn't enough. For your firm to move to an advisory culture you need to start sooner. The next generation has already shown they want to be connected to clients and feel like they are making a real difference for individuals. So how to do you ensure you don’t force them into the compliance mode? How do you guarantee your training model can quickly adapt to the new push for less compliance work and more client-centric consulting? Join Dena as she discusses what needs to change to get a new product – a new generation of business advisors.


Tapping into the Power of Connections: Cross-Selling

  Steve Castino, Executive Shareholder at Vestal & Wiler  

One of the most underutilized sources for new work is existing clients. As current clients, they already have connections within the firm and generally trust and respect their current service provider. Most firm members recognize that cross-selling is good for the firm, good for the client and good for the firm member receiving new work. So why is it so difficult to get everyone involved in the effort? Join Steve as he shares how to build trust, share knowledge and open opportunities so firm members will confidently and expertly recommend the firm’s services to their clients and prospects. 


Ten Ways to Move Your Firm Toward Business Consulting

  Tim Bartz, Director at Upstream Academy  

Virtually all strong organic growth in firms across North America is being fueled by consulting services. To thrive in today’s business climate firms need to move beyond traditional offerings. But where do you start? How do you capitalize on the myriad changes and opportunities coming to the profession? What are the best practices for moving toward consulting? How do you develop consulting services that are relevant and valuable to your clients? How do you get technical professionals excited about becoming “trusted advisors”? Join Tim for this session to learn how to jumpstart a more successful consulting practice.   

2:45 –3:00 Break  
3:00 – 5:00 Discussion Forums: Shared Challenges, Shared Solutions  
  Sam Allred, Tim Bartz, Marty Brown, Dena Jansen, Steve Castino, Tim Larsen and John Sensiba  
  Always one of the most popular features of Upstream conferences, our afternoon discussion forums provide an unmatched opportunity to share your firm's greatest challenges and learn how other firm leaders have successfully dealt with the same difficulties. Bring your most vexing issues and a notepad, and be ready to return to the office with great new ideas for solving your firm's challenges!  
5:15 – 6:15 Reception  
Friday, July 13, 2018  
7:00 – 8:00 Breakfast  
8:00 – 9:15 Looking Before You Leap: Merger and Acquisition 411  
  Randy Nail, CEO at HoganTaylor LLP  

Potentially one of the best ways to grow your firm, mergers and acquisitions are also minefields for the poorly prepared. As technology forces a devaluation of compliance work, those looking to acquire or merge up will need to carefully re-examine firm value. Join Randy as he discusses his firm’s approach to firm valuation, the types of mergers occurring and some of the major things firms should consider before a merger. He’ll examine the issue from both the buyer’s and seller’s perspective and provide real world experience navigating the world of M&A to help you plot your course over the coming years.

9:15 –9:30 Break  
9:30– 10:45

Adding a New Breed to the Herd


Don Bielen, Principal at Perkins & Company


Firms have done well with their traditional stable of services, but changes in technology are driving many to expand their offerings. Have you considered adding a new breed – a non-accounting professional who can bring new ideas, new services, new clients and new expertise? Join Don to learn how he successfully incorporated Business Transition and Succession Planning services to an expanding West Coast firm. He’ll discuss how to integrate new services to drive revenues, differentiate from competitors, increase client retention, and navigate the cultural and organizational challenges related to incorporating these new offerings. Come hear directly from the horse’s mouth! 

10:45 – 11:00 Break  
11:00 – 12:15

New Expectations for a New Reality: The Ayes Have It – But Not the “I's”

  Marty Brown, President of PYA  

The “Ayes” have it! The Yes Vote Wins! A bold, intentional, unified partner group is the key to effectively addressing the new reality in which we and our clients operate. How can we as firm leaders help move our partners to say “Yes” to the future? We must work together, no lone rangers. We must change behaviors, no “I’s” but “We’s.” We must purposefully plan, no separate silos. Join Marty as he shares insights on developing an integrated partner group with spirited, committed involvement to ensure that our firms make the transition to the new realities of public accounting.



Hotel Information
This year’s conference will be held at the Stein Eriksen Lodge located at 7700 Stein Way in Park City, Utah. Reservations can be made online or by calling 800-453-1302. You will need to specify Upstream Academy to receive the special conference rate of $290.00 (which includes the $21 resort fee).

We recommend making your reservation by June 4, 2018. If you have any problems with hotel reservations, please don’t hesitate to contact us for assistance.

Air Travel Information
The resort is approximately 45 minutes from the Salt Lake City Airport


Driver Provider Transportation offers shuttle rides from Salt Lake International Airport, reserve online and select Stein Eriksen Lodge as the drop off location or call 801.255.1841 and reference The Driver Provider. Shuttle service is $45 each way. To reserve a Private SUV call 435.658.9700 and reference Upstream Academy. Private SUV Service is $192.40 each way for up to 5 guests.


If you prefer to rent a car, reservations for airport car rentals can be made in advance through car rental agencies.

Conference Meal Information
Breakfast and lunch will be provided on Thursday and a buffet-style breakfast will be provided Friday. 

Special Meal Requests
If you have special meal requests, please contact Kelsey Mundt at (406) 495-1850 or email at kelseym@upstreamacademy.com.


Park City Area Activities

Park City is a great place to visit and a wonderful place for a family vacation.  Travel the back trails of Park City on horseback, ride the lift up and race down the mountainside at Park City Mountain on the Alpine Slide, enjoy Park City from above in a hot air balloon ride, fly fish in crystal clear waters, or shop the various stores. 

Park City Chamberhttp://www.parkcityinfo.com
Balloon Adventureshttp://www.pcballoonadventures.com 
Park City Outfitters
The Egyptian Theatre – The Mary G. Steiner Egyptian Theatre hosts a variety of theatre, comedy, musical acts, special events, community functions and more.  http://www.egyptiantheatrecompany.org/
Ski Resorts – Although you can’t ski in July these resorts also offer a multitude of activities in the summer. http://www.utah.com/ski/resorts/
Historic Temple Square – Tour LDS Temple Square, which is home to the world-famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir. http://www.go-utah.com/Temple-Square-Utah-Travel-Information/


Olympic Sites – See the venues where the 2002 Winter Games were held. You can test your skills in Olympic-style competition at many sites.  http://utaholympiclegacy.com/ park/
Professional Sports - Take in a Triple – A baseball game with the Salt Lake Bees http://saltlake.bees.milb.com/index.jsp?sid=t561  
Lagoon Park – Ride the roller coasters and other amusement park rides, enjoy the midway performances and games, and tour Pioneer Village.  http://lagoonpark.com
Heritage Sites – Explore the State Capitol, Governor’s Mansion, historic homes along South Temple, This is the Place Heritage Park, and the Lion House, plus area museums.  http://www.utah.com/culture/
Swaner Preserve and EcoCenterhttp://www.swanerecocenter.org
Hogle Zoo and Tracy Aviary – Observe animals, birds and reptiles, many in natural-style settings. http://www.hoglezoo.org/
Golfing – Enjoy the scenery on one of Park City’s championship golf courses.  Public golf courses that are within a few miles of Park City include:
  Park City Municipal - 435-615-5800
  The Homestead - 800-327-7220 www.homesteadresort.com
  You can access descriptions of several other courses at  http://www.utah.com/golf/courses/park_city_courses.htm


For more information on things to do and see in Park City visit:

Visit Park City: the Official Travel and Visitor Bureau

HeadWaters Conference 2019 Sponsorship (7 available) $3,500Apply to become a conference sponsor

Benefits of Sponsorship

  • Complimentary access to conference sessions for up to two representatives (Discussion Forums on first day not included)
  • Introduction of representatives by Upstream at the beginning of the event
  • Announcements throughout the conference acknowledging sponsorship and requesting
    attendees visit the sponsor’s display
  • Draped display table with chairs outside of General Session room for marketing materials
  • List of conference attendees
  • Chance to interact with participants during the conference meals, breaks and reception
  • Banner and link on Upstream’s website in the conference section

Who Will Attend? HeadWaters 2019 will be attended by 120-140 Managing Partners, Partners, Senior Managers and Managers from top CPA firms across the United States and Canada. The conference will consist of sessions led by nationally recognized speakers and firm leaders.

Why Participate as a Sponsor?
Sponsorship brings your company high-profile recognition and exposure to top decision-makers in CPA firms. Sponsorship is limited to seven companies.

Lodging and Logistics
Sponsors are responsible for all travel arrangements and hotel costs. Upstream will provide a draped
display table with chairs. Sponsors requiring electricity, Internet access, etc. at their booth are responsible
for coordination with the hotel and any additional cost.

When your application is received, an Upstream representative will contact you to confirm availability on a first come, first serve basis.

  • Upstream reserves the right to accept or reject any sponsor application.
  • Applications for sponsorship with sponsorship fee must be received by June 15, 2018.
  • To be featured on the Upstream Academy website, please send your company logo along with a brief description of your company and/or services (no more than 50 words) to Kelsey at kelseym@upstreamacademy.com.

HeadWaters Conference Brochures

This two day conference is held each July. Here are a few brochures from past conferences.

HeadWaters Conference brochure



Here's What Attendees Told Us About Past HeadWaters Conferences


Your Satisfaction Is Our Goal

As with everything Upstream Academy does, your satisfaction with the HeadWaters Conference is guaranteed. If you are not completely satisfied with the value you receive, we will, at your option, either refund your money or accept the portion of those fees that reflects your level of satisfaction.



CPE Sponsor

Upstream Academy will recommend 13 hours of CPE credit for participation in this course. Prerequisite: None Skill Level: Overview Learning Objectives: After attending the HeadWaters Conference you will be able to identify and implement improvements to your leadership develpment skills, as well as your firm’s leadership development processes.

Upstream Academy is registered with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) as a sponsor of continuing professional education on the National Registry of CPE Sponsors. State boards of accountancy have final authority on the acceptance of individual courses for CPE credit. Complaints regarding registered sponsors may be submitted to the National Registry of CPE Sponsors through its website: www.nasba.org.


CPE Sponsor

The HR Certification Institute has pre-approved this activity for recertification credit towards the aPHR®, PHR®, PHRca®, SPHR®, GPHR®, PHRi® and SPHRi® certifications. The content of the activity submitted has met the criteria of the Approved Provider Program. This course qualifies for 7.5 HRCI recertification credits.

The use of this seal is not an endorsement by the HR Certification Institute of the quality of the activity. It means that this activity has met the HR Certification Institute’s criteria to be pre-approved for recertification credit.