Do You Know What You Want To Do?
When I went to college I wanted to study art and design. But after a lot of thought I decided I’d be better off getting a business degree. It wasn’t until Introduction to Accounting with professor Doug Snowball that I discovered just how wrong I was.
A few weeks of accounting passed without incident. I was mostly lost and mostly bored but I kept attending Accounting 101 because of both professor Snowball’s funny top ten lists and because a big part of his class grade was based on mandatory attendance. I might not have had any idea what amortization meant, but I was certainly capable of showing up on time.
But this day was different. After attendance, professor Snowball posed this question to the class: “Tell me,” he asked with his Australian accent, “is a client deposit an asset or a liability?”
My hand shot up. For once I knew the answer to one of Snowball’s questions!
Professor Snowball looked confused as he examined my raised hand. Because I had never opened my mouth he had no idea who I was.
“Yes, Mr…” Snowball paused while he scanned his seating chart looking for my name. “…Mr. Turkle?” (people who don’t know me pronounce my name “Turkle” instead of “Tur-Kell.) “YOU know the answer?”
“Yes sir” I responded excitedly.
“Okay Mr. Turkle. Please tell us. Is a client deposit an asset or a liability?”
“It’s an asset!” I said, proud as punch.
Professor Snowball looked crestfallen. “I’m sorry Mr. Turkle, a client deposit is a liability.”
“No it’s not sir. It’s an asset.”
“I’m sorry to disappoint you, Mr. Turkle, but a client deposit is a liability. It belongs on the right side of the balance sheet. When you receive a deposit, you owe either products or services against it. I assure you a deposit is a liability.”
“With all due respect sir,” I answered, “if I have YOUR money then it is an asset. I believe most small businesses would pronounce that working capital. And my name’s pronounced Tur-Kéll – not Turkle – by the way.”
With that professor Snowball burst out laughing.
A couple of weeks later my dad came to Gainesville on a business trip and took me out to dinner. We were chatting about this and that when my dad asked how I liked the University of Florida.
I liked it fine, I told him. I was in a band, rooming with friends. There was lots to do and lots of cute girls and I was glad I was there.
My dad shook his head. That wasn’t what he meant. He wanted to know about my studies. Did I enjoy studying business?
“Actually,” I told him “I hate it. I don’t understand accounting at all, I can barely stay awake in my finance class, and I’m sure business ethics is an oxymoron.”
Then I told him the Snowball story.
“What do you want to study?” my dad asked.
“Art and design.”
“Then why are you studying business?”
“Because I don’t want to be a starving artist. I figured that business was the responsible thing to study. I figured if I get a business degree I can always get a job.”
Thanks to my dad’s good advice, I applied to the UF Design School. There was a bit of a sacrifice involved because the design school required different mandatory classes that I hadn’t taken and those mandatory classes added a few more semesters to my college career. But once I started taking classes in type design, printmaking, drawing, and graphic design I loved what I was doing and the people I was doing it with.
Why am I telling you this? Because my fondest hope for you in the new year is that you are either doing what you love or will make a new year’s resolution to figure out how to do so. I’m sure Professor Snowball — and my father — would both agree with that course of action.
All you need to decide is what you want to do.