Intuit Helps Small Businesses to Work Smarter

I had the privilege of learning about product innovations from Intuit Inc. by attending the fifth annual QuickBooks Connect® in San Jose, California, designed to give 3.4 million online customers advantages through machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and data innovation.

I have to be brutally honest and also somewhat embarrassed to admit that I was unaware of the annual QuickBooks Connect until Carolyn Linck, Account Director at Access Brand Communications introduced me to this Small Business Conference.  I am now eternally grateful to Linck for that invitation.

I attend numerous conferences and from the conferences I learn a great deal, I am able to then share my gained knowledge with my readers.  However, the QuickBooks Connect was different for me and I would like to elaborate.  I learned a tremendous amount about the Quickbooks platform and the new offerings from Intuit that deliver better money outcomes, smarter decisions and enhanced connections.  I also learned what an incredible company culture Intuit has; the excitement and positivity from the Intuit employees and throughout the conference was palpable. Not only was I taking in all the valuable information from the keynotes and workshops, but I was thinking about how being a part of the Intuit family must be such a pleasure.  I was trying to figure out how I could become a part of the Intuit family….yes, that was how much of an impact the company and culture was making on me!

Alex Chriss

Enthusiasm exuded from every Intuit employee I came in contact with… from entry level to CEO.   Outstanding customer service is priority and productivity and performance are at an all-time high!

Enthusiasm, customer priority, high productivity, top performance….Intuit Inc. has business success figured out….period.

Rania Succar



I highly recommend attending the yearly Quickbooks Connect conference, it is worth every penny and knowledge gained from it is invaluable.  I would like to now share some of the highlights from the conference.  Also, along the way I would like to share information from two exceptional individuals from Intuit whom I was fortunate to be able to meet and interview: Alex Chriss, SVP and Chief Product Officer, Small Business and Rania MSuccar, Business Leader, QuickBooks Payments and Capital.

Quickbooks Connect is a must attend for small business owners. One of the many topics discussed was money management and the struggle it can be in running a small business. Alex Chriss, SVP and Chief Product Officer, Small Business described it perfectly when he said, “When you dig into small business challenges, one of the biggest is around money-cash flow, when we talk to small businesses and self-employed, it is the thing that keeps them up at night. It is the most likely thing that is going to put them out of business and it is the thing they have the least control over.”  Intuit is offering new features to help small business owners to be smart about their money and have the access to get it when they need it and keep the money in their pocket for a longer period of time.

Quickbooks Payments offers Next-Day Funding so small businesses can invoice and receive payment the next day. “For all Quickbooks customers, they will have money in their accounts the next business day after getting paid and that is not only for credit cards, but also for ACH. We let our small businesses get paid by ACH as well which is a much more cost efficient option for them and we are the only one to offer  ACH for small businesses,” stated Rania Succar, Business Leader, QuickBooks Payments and Capital.

Progress Invoicing is also new.  Projects can be a challenge for a small business as they can last for an extended period of time and in the past this has meant no payment. Progress Invoicing offers small business owners the opportunities to bill and receive payment incrementally during stages of the job.

Same-Day Payroll allows small businesses to hold onto their money longer. Same day payroll can be completed if payroll is completed by 7 a.m. PT/10 a.m ET.  On average, small businesses can hold on to $9K more per month by using same day payroll.

For those small business owners interested in taking out a loan, the new Quickbooks Capital Loans and Credit Score may be of interest.  “We hear from small businesses all the time that they will hit an emergency situation where they will not be able to make payroll and money is not coming in. They need  2 or 3 extra weeks or they have a huge opportunity where a business is ready to give them their sort of break thru opportunity and yet they do not have the money in their account to be able to front the expenses to get the opportunity done so they turn them down.  With Quickbooks Capital we are putting money in small businesses hands and we are leveraging machine learning to be able to see a 360 degree view of the small business. Our risk profile can be dramatically different than anyone else, for example, as compared to a traditional bank.  We put 140 million dollars into small businesses hands in the last year and 60 percent of those individuals would have been denied by a bank or were denied by a bank.  That to me is when I talk about getting excited to come to work…. that is a real impact, we are making a big impact,” said Alex Chriss, SVP and Chief Product Officer, Small Business.

Rania Succar, Business Leader, QuickBooks Payments and Capital stated, “If you are a small business (especially in the first 5 years), we know that more than half of small businesses go out of business and one of the top reasons they go out of business is  because they ran out of funds. 70% of small businesses say they need a loan to grow, but only 1 in 5 of them get a loan and more than 50% who get a loan are dissatisfied with the process. That is why access and lending is so important to small business; opening up capital will completely change the odds of success for small businesses.”

Succar also went on to state, “We also help small businesses build their credit, it is a huge problem if you are a small business, most small business owners do not know what their small business credit score is. They have never built it and that is a huge inhibitor for them to get a loan and also a bigger loan when they need it.  Quickbooks Capital helps them build their credit and as they pay off their loan, we report it to the bureas and the small business can establish credit.”

Yes, Intuit completely gets it in regards to helping small businesses succeed! The Quickbooks platform has numerous new offerings, be sure to check out their website and the products. Intuit is dedicated to tipping the odds in favor of small businesses and the self-employed.




Sono Wood Fired Pizzeria is First Class Italian Casual Cuisine

Chicago, IL| (312) 255-1122| website

Hand-made “to order” mozzarella with wood-fired crostini.

Sono Wood Fired Pizzeria is located in Lincoln Park at 1582 N. Clybourn Ave. in Chicago. I had the honor to experience Sono Wood Fired Pizzeria and was guided through my eating and drinking extravaganza by the remarkable and brilliant, John McLean, Chef Owner of Good Eats Restaurant Group LLC which includes Sono Wood Fired Pizzeria as just one of his numerous, top notch eating and drinking establishments.

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Mamma Mia!-Musical At Its Finest

Cassie Slater, Danni Smith, Meghan Murphy and Company. Photo courtesy of Justin Barbin.

Engagement:  February 8-April 16, 2017

Marriott Theatre
10 Marriott Drive
Lincolnshire, IL 60069 | website

Mamma Mia! is one of Broadway’s longest running hits and it can be seen now at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, Illinois.

This high energy, musical performance will make you want to stand on your feet and dance to the iconic ABBA songs that we all know and love.

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16th Annual d’Vine Affair Hosted By Catholic Charities on Jan. 29, 2017 Chicago

d’Vine Affair 2016 Auction. Photo Credit: John Reilly Photography.

Looking to give back to the community and have fun at the same time? Consider attending the 16th annual d’Vine Affair hosted by Catholic Charities at The Union League Club of Chicago on Sunday, January 29, 2017 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.  This premier wine and beer tasting event will include wines from than 90 vintners and beer from at least 6 breweries, along with exquisite hors d’oeuvres and desserts. This Sunday afternoon charity event will complete your weekend!

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Eddie V’s Prime Seafood Chicago IL is a Top Tier Destination Restaurant

Chicago, IL| (312) 595-1114| website

Fresh Shrimp With Sauce

I had heard a lot of positive things about Eddie V’s Prime Seafood Chicago and decided to try them out for myself.

The first thing you’ll notice as you enter the restaurant is the ambience.  Eddie V’s is both a top-tier seafood restaurant as well as a great place for drinks and live jazz/easy listening music in the bar and lounge area .  The muted lighting and subdued décor immediately remind you that you are in a first class establishment.   The live music and great vibe make Eddie V’s a unique destination in a cluttered world of cookie-cutter restaurants.

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Chicago Culinary Kitchen: The Complete BBQ And Craft Beer Experience

Palatine, IL| (847) 987-0369| website

Chicago Culinary Kitchen

Chicago Culinary Kitchen defines themselves as ‘The Complete BBQ & Craft Beer Experience’.  I had the opportunity to sit through a ‘class’ and I can absolutely confirm that they are in fact the complete BBQ and Craft Beer Experience!

Chicago Culinary Kitchen (CCK) is the brainchild of Greg and Kristina Gaardbo.  CCK is the evolution/progression from their successful Texas BBQ & Brazilian fusion catering company, Rockin Rodizio that they have been running for a number of years.

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Fifolet Cajun: The Hit Of Wicker Park

Fifolet Cajun

Chicago, IL| (773) 384-6886| website

Fifolet Cajun Bar Area

Fifolet Cajun menu is a welcomed addition to the restaurant and bar scene in Wicker Park.  Fifolet opened on December 1st and has been an immediate hit.  I visited Fifolet last week to speak with owner, Baris Yuksel and to sample the menu and cocktails.

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Texas de Brazil Steakhouse: Unique And Fun Experience For All Ages

Texas de Brazil Steakhouse

Chicago, IL| (312) 595-0913| website

What makes Texas de Brazil a unique experience?  They feature All-You-Can-Eat grilled meats carved at your table and a fantastic/giant salad bar that features 50 to 60 different items.  Their selection of steaks is world-class.

The restaurant is a little tricky to find.  It’s actually on the second floor of Illinois Street and its main entrance is on the side of the building.

The first rule you need to remember is that you will need to arrive hungry!  You will eat more than you think is possible.  It is virtually impossible to leave Texas hungry.

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Chicago Theater Works

Chicago, IL| (312) 391-0404| website


One word:  Hilarious!  If you’re looking for an entertaining evening, this is it.  And you get a decent pasta meal for the price of admission.

Chances are that you’ve already heard of Tony N’ Tina’s Wedding.  The show has been around since 1988.  It had a long 16 year run in Chicago at Piper’s Alley from 1993 through 2009.

I have to admit that this is my first time.  Although I planned to see it on several occasions, I never made it.


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Via Lima

Via Lima

Chicago, IL| (773) 348-4900| website

vialima1I will start off by stating that the Peruvian cuisine offered at Via Lima is some of the best I have ever experienced.  Owner, Eni Cadena has out did herself at representing Peru’s flavors in the plates offered at Via Lima, the native ingredients such as savory corn and chili peppers make the meals unique and flavorful. Peru’s flavors represent the combination of four continents such as Europe, Africa, Asia and South America.

I recommend starting the tasting adventure at Via Lima with the Peruvian Pisco Sour, it is the iconic drink of Peru and I can tell you from my experience at Via Lima, it will be nearly impossible to stop at just one Pisco Sour. Yes, it is that good!

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Carlucci Restaurant & Bar

Carlucci Restaurant & Bar

Downers Grove, IL| (630) 512-0990| website



I visited Carlucci Restaurant & Bar for lunch recently and overall my experience was exceptional!  When I walked into Carlucci’s, I was impressed with the beautiful décor and the welcoming feel-it was stylish yet a casual atmosphere.

We were seated at a lovely table near the patio; the patio was quite impressive with the large fountain reminiscent of an outdoor café in Italy. It is important to note that a live band performs every Saturday night from 8:00pm to 12:00am, when weather permits the live performances are held on the patio.

We were given the menu and it was obvious the lunch offerings were spectacular and interesting. We started our meal with appetizers. The first appetizer we indulged in was the Polpetti Al Ragu (homemade meatballs, braised tomatoes, fresh basil), the 4 meatballs were the perfect size to share and the taste was pure Italian, I was thrilled with the combination of flavors. read more…

Velveteen Rabbit

The Marriott Theatre

Lincolnshire, Illinois| (847) 634-0200| website

Photo Courtesy of Liz Lauren.

Cast of Velveteen Rabbit. Photo Courtesy of Liz Lauren.

The Velveteen Rabbit is being performed at The Marriott Theatre and runs until August 14, 2016. This lively, action packed musical is not only entertaining for kids, but adults as well! It is a wonderful way to spend quality time with a child and the hour in the theatre seems only to be minutes, you will want to see more!

The character “Boat” played by Sharriese Hamilton opens the show and catches the attention of even the most distracted child, the singing and dancing displayed by “Boat” was incredible. The children sat wide-eyed staring and adults were smiling with eyes affixed!

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Taste of Thai Town

Taste of Thai Town

Chicago, Illinois| (773) 299-7888| website

Tord Mun Pla (Fried Fish Cake).

My recent visit to Taste of Thai Town in Chicago can be described as the ultimate experience in Thai food tasting!

I will describe my Thai food experience in detail, but first I would to share about the elegant décor of the restaurant. The restaurant is located on Pulaski Road in Chicago and the interior design focuses on the Imperialism era in 1868 during King Chulalongkorn reign (King Rama V).

When I walked into Taste of Thai Town, I immediately felt as if I were transported to a different country and time.  It is truly authentic.  The vibrant colors of the interior caught my attention and my eyes were drawn to the beauty of the interior. The murals and artwork are representative of Thailand and the feeling of calmness and serenity exude in every room. The public dining space includes numerous rooms for private parties and events. Be sure to check out Taste of Thai Town’s website to read in detail about each room of the restaurant, it is remarkably fascinating.

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Man of La Mancha: Transfixed on Greatness

The Marriott Theatre

Lincolnshire, Illinois| (847) 634-0200| website

Cast of La Mancha. Photo courtesy of Liz Lauren

Cast of La Mancha. Photo courtesy of Liz Lauren.

Man of La Mancha is presented as a play-within-a-play based on the Spanish novel, The Adventures of Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes.

The gritty set and costumes immediately brought me to 16th  Century Spain.  The music enhanced the experience and I felt like I was living this classical tale.  The performance runs for 1 hour 45 minutes with no intermission.

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Meli Café

Meli Café

Meli Café

Chicago,Illinois | Wells (312) 527-1850| Halsted (312) 454-0748| Dearborn (312) 834-0500| website

I visited the Meli Café on Wells in Chicago, Illinois for breakfast with a colleague. First point of order is that there was ample street parking within walking distance to the restaurant.

The restaurant felt spacious and welcoming. We were quickly greeted upon our arrival and immediately shown to a table. The number of servers to guests was impressive. The service at our table and at the tables around us was friendly and unbelievably fast… we only had to wait a couple of minutes for our food. If you prefer, there is a section of the restaurant that is dedicated to a ‘diner’ style of eating… bar stools at a counter. You can also order meals-to-go at the counter.

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Chocolate Sanctuary

Chocolate Sanctuary

The Chocolate Sanctuary
Gurnee, Illinois | (224)944-0808| website

Let’s first make it clear that the Chocolate Sanctuary is not a Chocolate Confectionary. The Chocolate Sanctuary is an upscale casual restaurant that infuses some of their signature dishes with touches of chocolate. Guests can enjoy a number of different menu items that embrace the cocoa bean as well as many other items on the menu that do not have any form of chocolate.

I had the opportunity to visit the Chocolate Sanctuary. Their new fall/winter menu adds the following selections to their menu: Red Mole Brick Chicken, Roasted Pumpkin Risotto, and a Cocoa Candied Bacon Flatbread Sandwich with Turkey and Mozzarella Cheese.

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Osteria Langhe

Osteria Langhe
2824 W. Armitage | Logan Square | Chicago, Illinois | (773)661-1582 | website


The Osteria Langhe Restaurant pays tribute to the foods and wines of the Piemontese (Piedmont) region of Italy. Piedmont is in Italy’s northwest corner and is bordered by Switzerland and France. Piemontese means foot of the mountain and is surrounded on three sides by the Alps.

The ambiance of this cozy little restaurant can be defined as non-pretentious with bare wood tables in a casually elegant setting. They have approximately 15 tables and a bar that sits 8 to 10 people. It doesn’t try to impress you with glitz and glamour. Their focus is their authentic northern Italian dishes and wines with superb/impeccable service. To state it bluntly, this is not your typical Italian restaurant. You will not see Americanized Italian items on their menu. What you will see is carefully created seasonal dishes that will absolutely impress. In my opinion, this place is easily one of the best Italian restaurants in the city!

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Drury Lane & Lucille

Drury Lane
1000 Drury Lane | Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois | 630.530.8300 | website

The Drury Lane Theater presents the Christmas classic ‘White Christmas’ through January 03, 2016. The Drury Lane Theater is located just west of Chicago in Oakbrook Terrace. The theater is near I-88 and Route 83, approximately 19 miles west of downtown Chicago. They have ample free parking in the garage structure next to the theater. This is an absolutely beautiful and elegant venue. The 970-seat theater provides great views from every seat.

I visited the Drury Lane to enjoy Irving Berlin’s White Christmas Musical. This holiday romantic-comedy classic is about the journey of two Army friends that became Broadway stage stars who follow a sister singing act to a Vermont Inn. To their surprise, the Inn is owned by their retired Army General. To save the almost bankrupt Inn, the two Army friends and the sister act team up to put on a show. This musical is sure to make you sing along to the all-time favorite Christmas song.

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Punch Bowl Social

Punch Bowl Social
1100 American Lane | Schaumburg, IL | 224.836.9080 | website

The first question I ask myself is what makes a new place unique and interesting? This is an easy question to answer for the Punch Bowl Social in Schaumburg. There simply are not many venues in the suburbs that provide the breadth of dining and entertainment options to its guests.

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Day Trip from Rockford International Airport

Rockford International Airport (RFD)
2 Airport Circle | Rockford, IL |

Rockford International Airport is located approximately 60 miles west of Woodfield Shopping Center. Now that the reconstruction of I-90 is complete, the drive from Chicago to the airport was quick and pleasant.

The Rockford International Airport (RFD) is a dual purpose airport. It is primarily a commercial airport during the day and then turns into a major UPS hub at night. RFD is the largest regional parcel-sorting facility for UPS. The airport’s two runways at 10,000 and 8,200 ft in length are capable of easily accommodating any airplane flying in the world today. RFD offers 14 flights per week to 10 different destinations. The three airlines that fly out of RFD are Elite Air, Allegiant Air, and Apple Vacations.

I had the opportunity to experience their Day Trip service to Cincinnati on Tuesday Sept 29th to watch the Cubs play the Reds at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati. Let me start by stating that the overall experience was incredibly painless and stress-free. I arrived at the airport and immediately found parking (free of charge) about 100 feet from the front door of the terminal. As a frequent traveler and a veteran of O’Hare airport, I was very pleased to see that there were no lines at the check-in counter or going through TSA security. In addition to free parking, the airport also offers free wi-fi.

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The Langham | 330 N Wabash Ave | Chicago, IL | 312.923.7705 | website

The Travelle Kitchen and Bar has a can’t-miss formula. They have a world class chef and menu, they have one of the best bars in the city, a wine list that makes others envious, and they have some of the best views anywhere!

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The Florentine

The Florentine
JW Marriott | 151 W Adams St | Chicago, IL | 312.660.8866 | website

The Florentine is located on the 2nd floor of the JW Marriott at 151 W. Adams. It is walking distance to the heart of Chicago’s financial district.

They are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner during the week. They are open at 6:30am to 10:30am to accommodate breakfast meetings, and will serve lunch between 11:00am and 2:30pm. They re-open at 5:00pm and close at 10:00pm. On weekends they serve brunch between 11:00am and 2:30pm. And will serve dinner between 5:00pm and 10:00pm. Check their websites for additional details.

This restaurant is definitely a business crowd destination during the week. The restaurant gets crowded for both breakfast and lunch during the week. Make sure to plan accordingly… reservations are recommended. The bar usually has available seating and they do serve the full menu.

They have a great Happy Hour menu. Happy Hour is from Monday through Friday between 4pm and 6pm. Join them at the bar and you will receive a free wood-fired pizza for your group with the purchase of any alcoholic beverage.

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La Tasca Tapas

La Tasca Tapas Restaurant
25 W. Davis Street | Arlington Heights, IL | (847)398-2400 |

La Tasca is located on Davis Street in Arlington Heights just south of the Metra train station. We didn’t have any difficulty finding parking in the lot across the street… parking is free after 6 p.m. If you can’t find parking or if you prefer valet service, La Tasca provides valet parking for only $3.00!

What are Tapas? If you are not familiar with Tapas, it is basically Spanish small samples of food. Tapas is not a type of food, it is defined as small plates/portions. Tapas originated in the Spanish culture and are typically served with Spanish wines or sangria.

I visited La Tasca with several friends. The first thing that you notice when entering the restaurant is the physical space. The restaurant is decorated with beautiful murals that give you that Spanish countryside feel. The restaurant has a great bar area and the dining tables are large and well spaced… you don’t feel crowded.

The restaurant does get busy, as such, reservations are highly recommended. read more…

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