You have to be willing to take the leap – make the phone call that nobody is making or suggest a new strategy. You can be professional without being docile.
Kelly Phillips Erb, ’93, aims to be fearless, but the Philadelphia-based tax attorney says that wasn’t always the case.
“When I came to Meredith, I was easy to intimidate, scared to be wrong, and I wanted to fit in,” Erb described. “I learned early on [at Meredith] that life wasn’t about trying to fit in but about making your mark.”
Now, Erb is the managing shareholder of The Erb Law Firm and is a contributing writer for Forbes.com. She uses her strengths – including being bold – in both those roles.
“Any time things are challenging – a new judge or a daunting story – it’s tempting to shrink back and hope the answer comes to you, but it rarely does. You have to be willing to take the leap – make the phone call that nobody is making or suggest a new strategy,” said Erb. “You can be professional without being docile.”
The seasonal nature of being a tax attorney means there’s no typical day at work for Erb. She also writes every day, and works her commitments around being a mom.
“Some days are court days, some are IRS days, and some are client visits,” Erb said. “At tax time, any semblance of normalcy flies out of the window.”
Erb recommends taking advantage of opportunities, which has paid off for her. She began writing her blog, taxgirl.com, as a way of explaining tax issues to prospective clients. Her audience grew, and eventually her writing drew attention from Forbes, one of the world’s leading financial publications.
“I’ve never shied away from controversy, and in 2010, I wrote a post highly critical of what I considered to be Pennsylvania’s overly aggressive push against ‘tax scofflaws,’” Erb said. “[An editor] saw the piece and asked if I would allow Forbes to post the article because it offered a different perspective on tax delinquency.”
Erb agreed, not imagining what could come of this opportunity, which eventually grew to her current role as a contributing writer.
“I’ve been fortunate to do a number of projects as a result of my affiliation with Forbes.com, including appearing in the magazine a few times,” Erb said. “The 2013 investment guide has my name on the front – just two lines below Warren Buffett’s. I’ve done TV and radio and had the chance to write two books with Forbes.”