A Tribute to Bonnie Nagayama – a True Difference Maker

An incredible lady who is going to be missed around the world.

Bonnie Nagayama and Clayton Oates
Thank you Bonnie for making a significant and positive impact on my life

I first met Bonnie  (and her beautiful family) in 2010 at Pier 39 in San Francisco, in what was (when I now reflect) a “sliding door” moment for myself and my family.

We were on our first overseas trip and Bonnie was the only person I knew of who lived in North America, a connection that started with the subscribing to her QuickBooks Tips & Tricks newsletter many years earlier. Then thanks to Alain Legrand (Legrand CRM) of which Bonnie and I were consultants in (albeit on opposite sides of the world), Alain kindly made an introduction before our trip for us to connect when we were visiting San Francisco. In true Bonnie style she went out of her way to meet us at a crowded Pier 39 one Sunday afternoon in October (10/10/10), also it just happened to be Fleet Week and the crowds were enormous. We arranged to meet out front of Bubba Gump’s.
So here we were, Aussie tourists in a crowd with 5 small children just trying to keep them together looking for a lady and her family that we had never met and trying to remember from online pictures as to what she looked like. Eventually someone heard our Australian accents and approached us and said you’re not Clayton are you? – It was Bonnie!
Our families spent the day together, enjoying the wonder of fleet week celebrations, the Blue Angels flying throughout the city and the bay, chatting about the industry and what got us to this point and where we see it going. There were so many similarities with our past, Accounting Backgrounds, switching out to focus on software solutions and training in the early 1990’s, conference presenting, adopting and recommending Add-Ons including CRM solutions to our clients, helping software vendors in their product development and partnering strategies, the list goes on.
One question I had for Bonnie was “What events do you attend to further your learning around the technology and its application in the Accounting / Bookkeeping world” – her response was an emphatic – “The Sleeter Conference (now called AccountexUSA) and it’s on next month in Las Vegas, you should come to it”. I had heard of Doug Sleeter although didn’t know that there was a conference named after him (I can recall googling “Worlds best QuickBooks consultant” years earlier and Doug’s name appeared in the list so this validation by Bonnie resonated with me). The only challenge was that it had taken me 41 years to make my first overseas trip so I wasn’t quite prepared or committed to take a second within a month. However I promised Bonnie that my wife (Jacinta) and I would be there next year (2011) which we did (and every year since). This is where my connection and affinity with North America began (with now over 20 trips in 6 years), attending, learning and presenting at conferences, a special friendship with Doug and Sherrill Sleeter and hundreds of fabulous friends all began, with Bonnie, taking the time to connect with some random ex-accountant/ software consultant from the other side of the world.
Thank you Bonnie, your calm, considered “Going placidly about what you do amidst the noise of our world” approach to life is a reminder to us all that whilst we often can’t choose what happens to us we can choose how we shall respond.
My prayers and thoughts go out to Ed, Nicole and Justin and all of Bonnie’s family and friends, may you have some comfort in knowing that Bonnie has made a significant positive difference in the lives of others and I’m certainly proof of that.
Clayton Oates
QA Business