Braughm is a CEO & Car Builder
Braughm Ricke talks about his passion for building cars, how it relates to building a company, and why it is important to have something to focus on outside of your work!
• Getting into car building
• How building cars and companies are relatable
• Highlighting personalization within the company
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Jervis is a CEO & Caver
Jervis DiCicco, CEO and Co-founder of ProsperBridge, talks about his passion for caving, the risks associated with it, and how that has helped him with handling risks in the workplace. He also talks about how intense situations can be bring people closer and why it is important to help activate people’s passions at work!
• Getting into caving
• Some of his favorite caves
• The risk matrix and how it applies to his work
• Building relationships from intense situations
• Activating people’s passions
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Iralma is a Consultant & Wellness Guru
Iralma Pozo talks about her passion for wellness and brewing tea, how it helps her in her career as a CPA, and much more!
• Getting into wellness
• How her passion for wellness has helped her at her career
• Bringing her own teas to work
• Lunch police
• Everyone should see themselves as a leader or contributing to something
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Welcome to Episode 423 of What’s Your “And”? This is John Garrett, and each Wednesday, I interview a professional who, just like me, is known for a hobby or a passion or an interest outside of work. To put it in another way, it’s encouraging people to find their “and”, those things above and beyond your technical skills, the things that actually differentiate you when you’re at work.
If you like what this show is about, be sure to check out the book on Amazon, Indigo, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop, a few other websites. All the links are at whatsyourand.com. If you want me to read it to you, that’s right, this voice reading the book, look for What’s Your “And”? on Audible or wherever you get your audio books. The book goes more in depth with the research behind why these outside-of-work passions are so crucial to your corporate culture, and I can’t say how much it means that everyone’s reading it and writing such great reviews on Amazon and, more importantly, changing the cultures where they work because of it.
Please don’t forget to hit subscribe to the podcast, so you don’t miss any of the future episodes. I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week, and this week is no different with my guest, Iralma Pozo, the duchess of accounting. She’s an adjunct lecturer at John Jay College in New York City, and now she’s with me here today. Iralma, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Iralma: Thank you so much, John. It’s a pleasure to be here with you today.
John: Oh, this is going to be so awesome. I appreciate you reaching out as a listener, read the book, and was like, hey, I’d love to be on the show. I’m like, absolutely, this is going to be great. I appreciate that, so thank you. I have some rapid-fire questions here, get to know Iralma on a new level. Here we go. I’ll start you out with probably an easy one. Favorite color.
John: Purple. Solid answer, there you go. That’s a good answer. How about a least favorite color?
Iralma: I’m trying to think. It’s very difficult. Maybe lime green because it’s hit or miss sometimes.
John: Yeah, that’s true. It’s like, you don’t need all the attention. Everyone just sees it. How about cats or dogs?
Iralma: I would have said dogs before the pandemic, but now I want a whole safari.
John: All of the animals, you’re like Noah’s Ark. I love it. That’s awesome. How about do you have a favorite actor or actress?
Iralma: No, I enjoy them equally or dislike them equally.
John: Love it.
Iralma: Anything funny. Anything funny. It depends on what they’re doing.
John: Yeah, yeah. No, I love that answer. That’s so perfect. This is a fun one that somebody asked me and I like to turn it around. More socks or shoes.
Iralma: More shoes because I’m a hard stepper. When I walk into a room, it sounds like another person is coming in the room. I run through my shoes, so, more shoes than socks.
John: You go through them. I gotcha. All right. Plus, they’re cooler colors. They’re fancier. How about do you have a favorite day of the week?
Iralma: Payday? Just kidding because I’m a consultant, so payday could be any minute.
John: That’s awesome.
Iralma: I like Saturdays, but I like all the days. Any day is a good day.
John: All right. Yeah, any day that we’re up. That works. All right, how about puzzles, Sudoku, crossword or jigsaw?
John: Sudoku. Nice. All right, there you go. The accountant in you, loves the numbers, I see. How about when it comes to books, audio version, e-book or real book?
Iralma: It depends because if I was married, I would have gotten divorced over my book purchase. During the pandemic, I had to hide them away. It really depends. I do love audio books when I have a commute, but I like to sit down with a book and just get lost in it.
John: Right. Yeah, and feel the pages. Yeah, totally. How about do you have a favorite number?
Iralma: Favorite number, a trillion? No, just kidding.
John: A trillion.
Iralma: Sometimes five, sometimes ten.
John: Okay. Is there a reason?
Iralma: Sometimes I like to get five opinions on something before I make a decision.
John: Yeah. I like that. That sounds great. I wasn’t sure if it was because you’re on the five train there in New York, or maybe not, but either way. Sometimes that’s a good reason to like a number. How about your first concert?
Iralma: First concert, oh, boy. Did we have concerts back then? I’m just kidding. I’ll leave the jokes to you. I’m trying to think which one it was one. I think it was one of the salsa concerts.
John: Oh, very cool. That’s awesome. That’s fantastic. As the accountant, I’ve got to ask you here, balance sheet or income statement.
Iralma: Where’s the money?
John: Where’s the money?
Iralma: I’d say income statement.
John: Income statement. All right, there you go. There you go. Would you say more diamonds or pearls?
Iralma: I like wearing pearls but wouldn’t mind getting diamonds.
John: I’m not going to turn either of them down, right? How about Star Wars or Star Trek?
Iralma: I’m not allowed to answer that question because I accidentally confused both of them the other day.
John: Oh. That’s awesome.
Iralma: I had an issue as a child, taking naps during the shows.
John: Oh, okay. Okay. That’s awesome. Very good. Very good. We’ve got four more. Your computer, more of a PC or a Mac?
Iralma: Oh, man, I answered that the other day. It depends what I’m doing. If I’m doing my nice creative work, I love Mac, but if I’m doing accounting work, I need a PC because these programs don’t work on these Macs.
John: On Macs, right, yeah, pretty much. So you’ve got both. I’m impressed. I’m impressed. How about a favorite ice cream flavor?
Iralma: I love chocolate, but I don’t like to eat chocolate on its own, when it comes to ice cream.
Iralma: It has to be something with chocolate and something else. I just started eating sorbets.
John: Oh, okay. There you go. No, I like it. Yeah, I’m a big fan of chunks. How much can we get into the ice cream at one time, so, like brownies or chocolate chunks or whatever?
John: Cake, yes. Now we’re talking. Two more. Heels or flats?
Iralma: Stilettos or sneakers, how about that?
John: Okay, stilettos or sneakers, there you go. Or both.
Iralma: Both. It depends. I’ll carry my sneakers to where I’m going.
John: Right? Sometimes you wear the sneakers and then put the stilettos on if you get there. That works. I’ve seen that. The last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.
Iralma: My brain. I’m just kidding. It’s what makes all the money.
John: That’s a good answer. That’s a solid answer. Right.
Iralma: I’m trying to think because I’m trying to become a minimalist, but I’m not doing a great job at it.
John: Sure. Well, you’re trying. At least you’re there. There’s an effort there. Is there anything that is really cool or sentimental or…
Iralma: God forbid, the whole house was burning, what would I leave with?
John: Besides your brain, of course.
Iralma: Sadly, I’m not too materialistic, and I can feel like I can replace most things. I would have to take my laptop or something just to keep doing work or something. I’ll take some of my books. I don’t mean the ones that I wrote. I mean, some of the books that I have in the house.
John: Right, yeah. No, absolutely. Absolutely. No, that’s awesome. Let’s chat wellness and, of course, the writing, like you said, with the books. How did you get started on this wellness path, in general?
Iralma: I think I tried some teas. My mother’s always big on teas. Oh, drink this tea if your stomach hurts and drink this if you can’t sleep. I used to be always annoyed as a child because I always had to drink tea if I complained about anything. When I started my first accounting job, my boss was a big piece of work. I don’t note him anywhere on my resume because my resume is like a Forbes Magazine. It’s so long. He used to be very interesting and had a very nice temper. It was just a weird atmosphere because I was trying to become a CPA. I wanted to get into accounting right away. Everybody knew I was going to leave as soon as I passed the exam, which didn’t take long for me, thank goodness.
I used to feel very stressed out there. I was very shy, and my stomach would be hurting. I’m like, you know what, I used to drink chamomile or something because these Tums, I can’t keep popping Tums like it’s M&Ms or something. I started drinking some tea there and enjoying it. I actually kind of like this after lunch. I’ve never been a big juice drinker. Always, as a child, we had some iced tea that my parents put together, but they don’t like to have a lot of sugar. They were like take whatever people put together and then put their own things in it and make it into a lemon — it kind of was pushed upon me to have tea, and I just started enjoying tea. Because coffee always gave me a big crash and I just didn’t enjoy it as much.
John: I completely missed the coffee train myself as well. I just never picked up on it, but teas, I agree. It is interesting how there are so many kinds of teas and, like you said, your mom’s got almost like a pharmacy. It’s like, what hurts? Okay, take this tea.
Iralma: If she ever tells me to drink oregano tea again, I’m just going to flip out. I don’t tell her if my stomach hurts. I just go and have yogurt or something. I started seeing, oh, it’s kind of nice to have something warm in your stomach. I like scents, putting together things, like if you’re not feeling well, putting something together, putting some apples in it or cinnamon, and just the way the house smells. That also is one of the reasons.
Then, I have a sensitive stomach. If I try to drink all these painkillers, it doesn’t work, so I’m back to tea. Mentally taking care of myself, that alone alleviates anything that’s going on. I really don’t like medicine. I joke that the only place I like to see a doctor is on a date. I really don’t like medicine. I know it has its function in society, but I don’t like to take things that are going to make me sick for four days so that I can feel better in five.
Iralma: So, trying to take care of my sensitive stomach. I was very energetic in the past, so this is me on my 20% energy. When I was younger, I would be the person that people had to drink coffee to be around. They’re like, please let me have my coffee before you. I was like, get away, sunshine, go away. I sometimes drank tea to tame my energy before going to meetings with grouchy people.
John: Okay. I can totally see that. Plus, I imagine that — is there a part of it that takes you back to childhood at all or the good memories of childhood rather than your mom making you drink so many kinds?
Iralma: When I would travel back to visit my parents and then my aunts would get up at the crack of dawn with the roosters, even though they had no roosters in the house. They’d have tea ready for people, and I’m like, you know I would like to sleep first, but I’ll drink this, and what is in here? Just having those memories of them preparing something that was refreshing and didn’t taste as bitter and bold as my mom used to make. It wasn’t a punishment. It was like, oh, start your day off with some tea, and just taking a break and having something refreshing before you even start your day.
John: Yeah, and you’re like, hey, can you teach my mom how you do this, because that would be awesome. That is super cool, and then also, something that’s part of your heritage. There are so many different things that they put in the tea, were you ever able to find out what your favorite kinds are? Or are you experimenting yourself, besides putting the apples and the cinnamon in there?
Iralma: If I had the dream kitchen, I would have been making Kombucha during the pandemic, but I didn’t. I like Kombucha because it has all these probiotics in it. Everything has to have a purpose. I don’t want stuff just to have stuff, but occasionally I’ll have things that are just for whatever reason. I like lavender tea which is kind of scary to drink because you never know if it’s going to make you so relaxed that your day is over, or if it’s going to make you relaxed enough to finish a few things.
John: Right? Okay. There you go.
Iralma: I always drink green tea because of the benefits that they say that green tea brings in your life. I ended up making green tea as the base and adding other things.
John: Oh, there you go.
Iralma: I do have to be careful sometimes because, occasionally, I’ll boil things that I shouldn’t boil, to add them to tea. I had some berries instead of — normal people make tarts and things when their berries are about to expire. I boiled some of them and added them to my green tea. I’m not sure how that affects you, but I’m very lucky I don’t have any blood pressure problems, so I can experiment a little bit.
John: All right. That’s cool, and it’s fun to play with. You try it. Either you like it or you don’t. If you do then you can do it again. I think that’s really cool. That’s awesome, really fun, and especially like traveling to go — have you traveled to other places for teas?
Iralma: I’m hoping when people hear this episode, they’ll send me a subscription to, what is this, I think it’s Tea Drops? There are subscriptions that you can try different teas from different places.
John: Oh, yeah.
Iralma: When I go to different restaurants, I try the tea that they have there. If I go to an Indian restaurant, I’ll try some of the tea that they have there, or I’ll just make an excuse to try something different anywhere I go, just walk in some place to try. I do want to start maybe more purposeful and going out there and traveling to try different teas. I don’t know if I should add one to the mix.
John: Right. Well, it depends if it’s before or after dinner. I don’t know. Yeah, you figure it out. That’s really cool. Do you feel at all, just wellness in general, or even the tea and experimenting with the different recipes, give you a skill set at all that translates to work?
Iralma: I think it does. For example, I’ve become a little obsessed with ginger. I think I need to measure ginger when I use it.
John: Yeah, there’s definitely too much ginger. That’s for sure.
Iralma: I really need to watch myself with ginger because I think I love ginger too much. I’ll buy it granulated. I’ll buy it fresh. I’ll try to put into everything that I do as well. I buy the powder, the ground, organic, ginger-infused, ginger and turmeric and things that reduce inflammation. As you know, our profession is very demanding and, at times, stressful. Some of the stress is good. Some of the stress is learning how to manage yourself and manage up and stay focused on what you’re supposed to be doing and not taking on things you’re not supposed to. Life happens and things happen. Things like turmeric which have a lot of anti-inflammatory — this is not FDA… Do I have to make that disclosure?
John: No, no, no.
Iralma: I’m not making any FDA statements or whatever you call it, all right?
John: Exactly. Yeah, there’s a lot of healing benefits from it, for sure.
Iralma: There are a lot of healing benefits. I find that it’s very important to be able to show up at your best, whatever your best is at the moment. If you’ve been sitting all day, or you haven’t been feeling well, or stress has caught up to you, and you’re suffering from inflammation of any sort; it’s good to manage that. Because if you don’t show up to work as your best self, you’re not going to have the best time, and your best is going to change over time. Just being able to give yourself that permission to explore new things — I feel like, to be successful in our profession, to be able to retain people, to get people to be interested in joining our profession, we have to create a safe space for people where… Maybe, let’s say, you were running a firm, and you wanted to give people 10% of their time can be used experimenting on whatever, like the tech companies do, right? They tell you, go and create something. We own it, but go ahead and play over there and do what you want. You have to give permission to explore. Otherwise, they don’t really get invested in what they’re doing. They may lose interest, or you may miss out on something great.
John: No, I love it. I totally agree. If you’re not living your best life, then you’re not going to be doing your best work. Living your best life is pursuing those passions is a big part of that. If I told you that you could never drink tea again, you would probably not be very happy with me. If I was like, you never have to do another tax return again, you’d be like, where do I sign? I’ll do that right now.
Iralma: What do you mean I can’t do a tax return?
John: It’s just something that lights you up, is the tea. It’s easy for us to forget the other side of us. Do you talk about the wellness and teas and what you’re experimenting with throughout your career, with colleagues or clients?
Iralma: I don’t want to say I’m a tea snob, but if someone gives me certain brands, they’re too… I don’t like them. I used to bring my own. I used to bring my own tea to work. If I walked into a pantry and they had very bad quality green tea, I would bring my own box, in my bag, of course. I’m not going to share with the world.
John: Sure. Yeah, yeah.
Iralma: Sometimes I would bring the granulated ginger tea, and if I heard somebody coughing, I’d give it to them.
John: Oh, there you go.
Iralma: One time, a colleague tasted it, and she couldn’t get the taste of ginger out of her mouth, a week, so she would go around avoiding me if she had any kind of cough because she didn’t want me to offer her anything again. I have offered people tea, and they thought I was crazy. So, I’m always careful not to offer people too many things.
John: You’re like, my mom says this is good, trust me.
Iralma: I once went a little bit overboard. I made someone a homemade cough syrup. My blender broke when I was making it, so all the pulp of the stuff was in there. I told her, you just have to strain it. She looked at me like, you’re crazy.
John: Right. I’m not straining it in.
Iralma: I’m not doing it, this is too much work, and take this back. She took it, and she felt better the next day. Or she drank a lot of over-the-counter stuff to make sure she wouldn’t cough in front of me. People come to me and tell me how stressed they are. I used to be the lunch police and watched people and told them I wasn’t going to talk to them if they didn’t have lunch first. I used to be very hangry, so people always carried snacks when they were around me. They never ate them. They just offered them to me because they noticed that I was a little bit grouchy when I was hungry.
I always have a set lunchtime, and I would invite some people to take a walk with me afterwards. Now that I work in academia, I don’t work there full time, so I don’t have colleagues to take walks with. Working as an independent consultant, I don’t have that structure, but before, I used to take a walk after lunch with people. That prompted some conversations, and people will share things with me about things that they thought were off. Obviously, I didn’t try to be a fake functional doctor or something, but it’s very important for people to feel good when they’re showing up. I try not to probe too much into people’s business. I do try to remind them like, hey, you do need to take care of yourself. That sleep when you die thing doesn’t really work very well because you’ll die sooner. Everyone needs a minimum amount of sleep, and you can only handle so much stress.
With our profession becoming so… I think it’s more demanding, but we have all the technology and all these opportunities. You can’t do high level work for 50 hours a week. That work is supposed to be done, 15, 30 hours. If people don’t recognize that and they try to do all this high level work for the same amount of time they did the low level work, they’re going to really burn themselves out.
John: Definitely, definitely. I think it’s awesome, you care. You care about your colleagues. You’re showing them that you care, but you’re also sharing a little bit of your “and”. It’s like, hey, I’m really into this. Drink this or try this, and see if it works or whatever. I think that’s fantastic. How much do you feel like it’s on an organization to create a safe space, if you will, or create that space for people to be able to share those outside-of-work hobbies and passions? Or how much is it on the individual, like how you did, of like, hey, I’m just going to share it, type of thing?
Iralma: I think it’s a combination. Like they say, walk the factory floor. Everyone has to see themselves as a leader or as someone who’s contributing. It can’t be like a partner of a firm is setting up a program or initiative, and then the managers are like, I don’t care if it’s Friday. I need this by Monday, and today’s Thursday. You have to do this. You have to have the front line managers have some kind of training on how they’re going — and actually change the way you incentivize people. Because if you’re going to give people bonus based only on productivity or whatever the case may be.
John: Hours worked.
Iralma: Yes. Because I’ve worked with people who I didn’t like, and I worked very fast before them. I stayed up all night finishing their work just not to deal with them. When I work with them, it looks like they’re doing such a great job managing me. In reality, I just don’t like working with them so much that I will sacrifice my sleep to get the project done and not deal with them. I’m not happy when I work with this manager, but it doesn’t look that way by the way that this person is being rewarded for managing a team. You can’t just look at numbers. You have to look at, are people happy when you walk through the office? People who’ve been working together for three years, is there any laughter in the office?
I think that a lot of times, people gravitate to people they know or they like or they trust, but there has to be some type of formal — you can’t push meetings on people. Nobody really likes those, I shouldn’t say nobody likes them, but those team building activities. There has to be a way that you meet with the person who manages you regularly. Then if they have their favorite people, you don’t feel like you’re left out. You still have access to the person you report to. They’re not running away to just have lunch with their buddies, and they’re sponsoring them for all the jobs. Everyone has to take responsibility. There has to be structure and then everyone has to have their own accountability.
John: Yeah, a little bit of structure, but then you can get creative within that.
John: I like to refer to it as build the sandbox and then let everybody play inside. Here’s the borders, don’t go outside, everything inside, awesome. Because we’re so permission-based for so much that we do. Well they didn’t say we could. Yeah, they also didn’t say we couldn’t, so what’s up with that? Try. Well, no one’s talking about their hobbies. That doesn’t mean that you can’t. You can just ask or just be genuinely interested in the people around you. It’s amazing the magic that happens.
Iralma: Oh, yes, just asking people a question that makes them light up. If your colleague leaves early because they had to go to a game for their child, and you ask them, did they win? They’re going to remember you asked them that, if you build a rapport with the person. You have to have personality, and you have to be personable. You don’t have to be investigating people, but be a person when you’re at work. Be a person without violating any rules or laws or whatever you call it.
John: Yeah, exactly. As long as it’s not illegal or taboo then I love — I mean, that’s such a great final thought for everybody listening, is just be a person when you’re at work. It’s simple but not easy. Just be a person. I love that, Iralma. That’s awesome. Before I wrap this up though, I feel like it’s only fair that I turn the tables and make this the first episode of the Iralma Pozo podcast, thanks for having me on as a guest, since I rudely peppered you with questions at the beginning. I’m all yours. You can ask me whatever you want.
Iralma: Okay, I’m just making these questions up as I go. Who’s your favorite comedian?
John: My favorite comedian, wow. There are a lot, for sure, a lot. I would say probably right now, I’m a big fan of Brian Regan. He’s really funny, also a very, very nice guy. Yeah, Brian Regan is really, really funny. Over time, there’s Bob Newhart who was an accountant as well. He was hilarious, or still is. There’s the Chris Rocks and the Jerry Seinfelds and the Jay Lenos and Ellen DeGeneres. Their stand-up is amazing. It’s just not everybody sees the stand-up pieces. They see them in movies or TV shows or whatever, but it’s different, so, a lot of that. Even people that I’m friends with, like Ryan Hamilton and Tommy Johnagin, so funny. Hopefully that’s enough names for people to go Google, but, yeah, Brian, Regan’s hilarious and always so funny for me.
Iralma: All right, so I heard somewhere that you like ice cream.
John: Oh, yeah, all about it.
Iralma: If you had to pick between almond ice cream and rice ice cream.
Iralma: Did you just say, oh?
John: Why would you do this to me?
Iralma: Okay, I’m just kidding.
John: I would say almond, I guess, because I’ve never even heard of rice ice cream. I guess I need to look into that.
Iralma: Don’t look into it. That was one of my wellness experiments where I was trying to reduce dairy so that I could just eat cheese until I die, but not many other types of dairy.
Iralma: The rice ice cream, I said, you know what? I will run. I will exercise. I will do anything I need to do because this feels like the biggest punishment that I’ve ever had in my life. I will not eat rice ice cream.
John: It doesn’t even sound right. It doesn’t sound right.
Iralma: Really, rice with beans ice cream?
John: Right? Yeah, exactly. You’re like, that’s not what rice is for. This is wrong, and you know what it probably is? It’s probably sneaky cauliflower rice, which isn’t even rice. It’s probably cauliflower rice ice cream, and that’s even worse.
Iralma: Don’t get me started because I’m a little bit obsessed with cauliflower pizza, but I only like the one that’s the original brand because the other ones are not that great.
John: Right, right. Yeah, I’m going to go almond on that. I’m going to go almond, for sure, on that one.
Iralma: If you were an accountant starting out in comedy, let’s say that I wanted to start being funny and recording myself, TikTok, YouTube or Twitter.
John: Oh. I guess, nowadays, it seems like TikTok is pretty hot. I know it’s that because I’m not on it. That’s why I know it’s cool. The other two I am on, and that means that old people are on it.
Iralma: Hey, hey, none of that. I’m a Gen Xer. Okay?
John: Right? No, but I’m just saying, in today’s world, it seems like TikTok is the thing that people are gravitating towards, so I would say, if you’re starting out and recording and whatever, then I would go there. Well, thank you so much, Iralma, for being a part of this and just for being so supportive and, yeah, just being part of What’s Your “And”? and living it every day. Thank you so much for being here.
Iralma: Thank you.
John: Yeah, and everybody listening, if you want to see some pictures of Iralma in action or some of her teas or outside-of-work fun, connect with her on social media, or maybe get her new TikTok account that she’s about to open, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. All the links are there. While you’re on the page, please click that big button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture, and don’t forget to get the book.
Thanks again for subscribing on iTunes or whatever app you use and for sharing this with your friends so they get the message that we’re all trying to spread, that who you are is so much more than what you do.
Mayur is a CFO & Crossfitter
Mayur Vyas returns to the podcast from episode 221 to talk about his new passion in CrossFit! He also talks about why it is good to have a passion outside of work and why you should be encouraged to share it with others!
• Getting into CrossFit
• Talking about CrossFit at work
• Why you should be able to talk about your passion with others
Please take 2 minutes
to do John’s anonymous survey
about Corporate Culture!
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Welcome to Episode 422 of What’s Your “And”? Follow-Up Friday edition. This is John Garrett, and each Friday, I follow up with a guest who had been on the show a few years ago to hear what’s new with their passions outside of work and also hear how this message might have impacted them since we last talked.
If you like what the show is about, be sure to check out the book. It’s on Amazon, Indigo, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop, a few other websites. All the links are at whatsyourand.com. The book goes more in depth into the research behind why these outside-of-work passions are so crucial to your corporate culture. If you want me to read it to you, that’s right, this voice reading the book, look for What’s Your “And”? on Audible or wherever you get your audio books. I can’t say how much it means that everyone’s reading it and now listening to it and and writing such nice reviews on Amazon and, more importantly, changing the cultures where they work because of it.
Don’t forget to hit subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss any of the future episodes. I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week, and this Follow-Up Friday is no different with my guest, Mayur Vyas. He’s the CFO of Finconoso outside of Washington, DC, and now he’s with me here today. Mayur, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Mayur: Thank you, John. It’s been a long time coming. I remember the last time I was on, it was just a random blast. I think we probably went over, but it’s just, it’s always a blast. Thanks for having me back.
John: Oh, so much fun, and we bounce back and forth on social media all the time. It’s just so cool to talk with you, so let people in on the magic of what we do over social media, which is not really magic, so, no one gets your hopes up. I do have some rapid-fire questions for the follow-up that I probably should’ve asked you the first time, get to know you on a new level here. If you had to choose, Harry Potter or Game of Thrones.
Mayur: Game of Thrones.
John: Game of Thrones. Okay, all right. Favorite toppings on a pizza.
Mayur: Yesterday was National Pepperoni Day, and I missed out because, apparently, everyone in my household is on a diet except for me. I don’t want to be that guy but.
John: Oh, no. Well, can’t you just have a rain check and celebrate it?
Mayur: Yeah. It’s Monday. Come on, man. Let’s do it on a weekend at least. I was like, I do what I want, but anyway.
John: I’m a man. Hold on, honey, let me ask you if I can do this. All right. How about when it comes to books, audio, Kindle or real book?
Mayur: I prefer real books, but these days, it usually ends up being a Kindle or e-reader.
John: Sure. Yeah, yeah, the e-reader. Yeah, definitely. How about a favorite day of the week?
Mayur: Oh, I’d say Thursday.
John: Okay. Is there a reason?
Mayur: I think it’s because it’s not necessarily the weekend. It seems like there’s a vibe of people wanting to get stuff done. Also, because we want to enjoy the weekend, so I find people are more productive and more ready to get things done on Thursdays for some reason.
John: Yeah. Okay. All right. I like it. I like it. Since it’s you, I’ve got to ask, ties or bow ties.
Mayur: Regular neckties.
John: Regular neckties. Yeah.
Mayur: I’ve attempted the bow type thing, and I’ve got a few friends who are fellow fancy men, if you will, who attempted them. I’ve attempted a few times. I’m like, you know what? Maybe later, not now.
John: Maybe later.
John: When I’m retired.
Mayur: Yeah. I’ll fit the look at that point.
John: Yeah, yeah. How about a favorite TV show of all time?
Mayur: Ooh, TV show of all time. I’m going to go with Seinfeld.
John: Oh, yeah. There you go.
Mayur: It was on the other day, and it was timeless. I was in high school when I used to watch it religiously with my friends. None of the jokes we got, but at the same time, we really lived them. Then having gone through, I’m not going to age myself too much here, but through the 30s and the age of those guys — I’m 40 — I’m like, I get that stuff now.
John: Right? No, it’s so well-written, and it’s so relatable in everybody’s life. It’s pretty awesome. The last one, maybe the most important one, toilet paper roll, over or under?
Mayur: Over for toilet paper, for sure.
John: Yeah, over. It’s what the — the patent, I think, looks like that. It’s like, yeah, why would you not? I don’t know. Some people will go next level. If they’re visiting someone and they have it under, they’ll actually turn it around in someone else’s house.
Mayur: Why do you want to rub it up against the little area back there? Then you have to use it and… Anyways.
John: You’re going to scrape your knuckles? It’s like, ugh, just, ugh. I’ve got pretty hands. I don’t have time for this. Right?
Mayur: Right. Exactly. You know?
John: Yeah, there you go. All right, last time, we talked custom suits and all kinds of cool stuff, which I 100% appreciate. I love the story of how, when you went back and you were getting measured and they were smoking cigars and telling jokes and clowning around, and how you never once thought, I bet they’re not very good at this. Actually, you thought they’re probably amazing. Because so many professionals want to just be serious and talk work all the time. I thought that was a great story that you told that really hit home to me especially, which I thought was awesome.
Mayur: Yeah, yeah. There’s so much associated with the wearing of formal attire with seriousness, but if anything, I think it’s opposite now. Now I think it’s almost like the hoodie-wearing clan are sometimes more type A than those who are looking to get a little dolled up here and there. Because, first of all, there’s never this, really, opportunity for anyone to dress up. Me being a new dad, there’s no point. Whenever there’s an opportunity, if you’re looking at the social media, I’m always trying to put on a suit in any of the technical videos and stuff I do these days.
John: Totally, man. I love it. It’s awesome. Is that still, I mean, clearly a part of who you are, but I feel like there’s a new “and”, based on your Instagram Stories anyway. I feel like there’s there’s a next level here going on.
Mayur: Oh, yeah, you’re probably alluding to my two things. One, being the dad, of course, with a four-month-old in the house. The second thing is, I’ve been trying to go to the gym a lot more, especially as they started opening up again, after the lockdowns. I’ll be honest, the main reason to do that is — of course the official answer is like, oh, I want to be in shape for my son, so I can run around with him and play with him. That’s the BS answer. The real answer is I want to be able to fit into my clothes again. I did spend a lot of money on those freaking suits, and this waistline is struggling, struggling.
John: They don’t use stretchy suits in the custom order, the made-to-measure. The custom suits are not stretchy like my jeans are. I didn’t even know. I, 100%, appreciate that. But I don’t go, so I’m living vicariously through you, maybe, on the gym. Actually, I remember some of your Instagrams. I’m like, run. That door’s open, go. You can escape. I’m not the good friend at all in this. I feel like I’m bad influence.
Mayur: It’s a little bit of a Stockholm syndrome where you’re in there.
Mayur: I get into like the people screaming at me. Do those squats, do 100 push-ups or whatever it is.
John: Yeah. You just started going? Did you ever go to the gym before, or is this a new thing?
Mayur: Well, I blame my wife for this. She got me into exercise, eight years ago or something. We used to go, and then I sucked at it. Finally found something that I enjoyed, and I found a little group of people.
John: That’s great.
Mayur: Yeah, I always had fun with it, but I think I’ve been going more now because there’s nowhere else to go. There’s no office really to go to. It’s really just home and there. Sometimes I go to an office just to get out of the house or work for the family to make sure we’ve got coverage for the baby. The gym is, it’s almost like a place to get out of the house now. Hence, I’m probably going more. Yeah, I guess me being bored or just having cabin fever is the reason I’m going to it more now.
John: No, that’s great, man. That’s great. I love how you’re like, I blame my wife. It’s like, this is a bad thing, and it’s all her fault for getting me into this. No, I think that’s awesome. It’s cool that you found your tribe, your group of people that you like to be around, that support you and encourage you. That’s awesome. I feel like I’m the opposite of that, and I kind of feel bad. I should apologize for all the message I keep sending you, but I think it’s funny. Is this something that you talk about with, I mean, obviously people know about the baby, but with colleagues or clients? Do they know about the CrossFit side of you?
Mayur: Not too much. You read it in a conversation. If people were joking around about like, we’re all getting fat at home and all that stuff, then I’ll probably just hold back because I don’t wanna be like, well…
John: Not me.
Mayur: Yeah, I know. Well, I’m so fat.
John: I’m medium fat.
Mayur: I’m just like, I have a little more definition underneath this blubber.
John: Wait, you go to the gym, Mayur? Are you sure?
Mayur: I just go there to take IG story and then leave.
John: Now the truth comes out. There we go. As long as I pay my membership, they don’t care what I do.
John: Exactly. If you didn’t do an Instagram story, did you even go to the gym? Did it even happen?
Mayur: Oh, yeah, exactly. That’s the rule. That’s the rule.
John: That’s the rule. Of course, the suits, everyone knew because you’re wearing it. It was also a lot more in-person and all that, so that’s something you can not talk about because it’s, bam, there it is, type of thing. That’s totally understandable. Yeah, I’m sure that there are a lot of people that are talking about trying to exercise or do something because a lot of people are… Yeah, it’s just enough is enough on being pent up.
Mayur: It seems there’s an expectation that we’re supposed to complain about everything all the time. Sometimes when I find that when people are talking about something they’re proud of sometimes, it’s — this is something maybe that’s carried over from the old corporate — well, a lot of people I work with are former big firm or big corporation in some way. Sometimes, even though they work — I just work with pretty much all small businesses or startups now. Sometimes a little bit of that PTSD, I guess, when it comes to it. If someone is talking about how good things are going, sometimes people are like, oh, maybe you shouldn’t — there’s a talk after the call, like, hey, I can’t believe they’re talking about that. I’d be like, why? They’re proud of what they’re doing, and you should encourage that. Oh, I guess so.
John: Right. Yeah, because there’s enough negativity in the world. So, why not positivity and laughter and things that bring joy? Why not, type of thing. I think it’s great, man, and you’re definitely a source of that, legit, for real. Because whenever I hop on the stories and I see you’ve got stuff, I’m like, oh, this is so good.
Mayur: Well, it’s good to be like, I’m very much the Conan O’Brien type of thing. I like to be self-deprecating, but also, in a way, still be proud of your accomplishments. I think your podcast and the people you bring on, the movement you have with the What’s Your “And”?, that’s all about that. You know that these people are proud of something. It’s not necessarily what they do as part of their paycheck or employment or whatever. There’s something else that drives people, and that’s, honestly, I think, more important than what they’re being paid for, in some ways.
John: No, thank you, man. Thank you for that. Yeah, because it really is. If an organization just thinks, are my people living their best life? If you don’t know, then the answer is probably no. Find out, and if you can help your people live their best life, then, man, only awesome things happen from that. They’re going to do their best work. You’re going to get the best clients. More talent is going to want to come work there. It’s just going to be a place that people are going to really be a part of.
Mayur: That’s so true. Yeah, people are drawn to positivity.
John: Yeah. No, I love it, man. Do you have any words of encouragement to others that maybe have an “and” that they feel like no one cares about, or no one’s going to even — it has nothing to do with my job, so why even talk about it?
Mayur: You’ve probably had other people, and you’ve said it yourself, I think, you need to just not hide it. You don’t necessarily have to go blast out for the world, but don’t necessarily stifle it. People don’t realize that there’s more people who actually might be into what they’re into. If you don’t tell anyone, if you don’t show anyone, no one will ever know. Everyone else will feel lonely. No one likes my crazy obsession with ‘80s cartoons or whatever thing you’re into, right?
Mayur: Just be yourself. I remember this one guy I used to work with, back when I was at the big firms. He would openly just talk about the most random factoids from some comics from the ‘70s or something. Literally, everyone will just sit there, not know what he was talking about. One time a client kind of picked up on what he was getting at, this is before the meeting starts. We’re all just chatting. The client was like, and they just started vibing back and forth. Everyone was just enjoying this interaction. Ultimately, that client was a decision-maker and kept renewing contracts, so, hey.
John: What?! That’s what I’m talking about because that’s a differentiator. Especially when you’re at the big firms, the next big firm down the street can come in and do the exact same work, really. That’s the differentiator, a little bit of the personality, a little bit of the human side to you. All of a sudden, it’s like, boom, client. It’s like, wow, that’s fantastic. It’s somebody you remember. Think of all the people that you worked around at the big firms, and that’s one person that you remember. It’s kind of crazy. Because I think of all the people that I used to work with, I don’t remember a lot of them. I feel kind of bad, but it’s also like, well, you didn’t talk about random ‘70s comics. How would I know what’s your differentiator as a person? Yeah, man, I love it. I know everyone remembers you, so it’s even easier.
Mayur: Usually in a bad way but, yeah.
John: Not that guy. You mean Voldemort? We’re not allowed to even say his name anymore.
John: That’s awesome. Well, before I wrap this up, this has been so much fun, but I feel like it’s only fair that we turn the tables and make it the first episode of The Mayur Podcast. Thanks for having me on. I appreciate it. Any questions you’ve got, I’m all yours.
Mayur: Okay, have you ever borrowed something of value from someone but forgot to return it?
John: That’s awesome. Oh, man. I don’t think so. It’s happened the other way around, for sure.
Mayur: You can call them out here if you need to.
John: Right. They’re not listening. They’re in prison. No, I’m just kidding.
Mayur: You just got my stapler, Earl.
John: That’s who I used to hang around with, back in the day in high school. Yeah, no. I wish there was now though. It’s either that or I don’t think it has any value. That’s probably the other part of it. I still have a bunch of stuff but just not anything worth anything.
Mayur: You hardly miss it.
Mayur: Okay, well, sticking with the ‘80s theme I was mentioning, if you were forced to eliminate one of the following, which would it be: GI Joe, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers or He-Man?
John: Oh, man, that is a hard one. Wow. Okay, so you can’t do GI Joe because knowing is half the battle. I feel like maybe He-Man could be eliminated only because he makes me feel so insecure about myself.
Mayur: Is it the haircut or the Speedo?
John: All of it, and he’s riding a puma or a something. That’s a lot. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, hey have cool names. They’re all the artists from the Renaissance, so you’re learning accidentally. Transformers were just awesome.
Mayur: Okay, last one. What would you do if you checked into a hotel room and there was a dead body in the bed?
John: I would call the police and say Mayur did it. That’s what I would do.
Mayur: Yes, yes.
John: I would say. There was a dead body in the bed. I’m going to a hotel tomorrow, and I’m nervous now.
John: There’s going to be a body. That’s awesome. Yeah, no, I would definitely rat you out without even blinking, and I would be like, look at his Instagram stories. He’s clearly got the muscles to pull this off.
Mayur: I probably bored them to death more likely. Bad joked them out.
John: Oh, man, that would be great. How did he die? I bad joked him. That’s awesome, man. Well, it was so much fun catching up with you. Congrats on all your success in the family. Keep it up, and look forward to staying in touch. Thanks so much, man.
Mayur: Of course, man. Thanks always, and keep up this amazing thing that you’re doing.
John: Thanks, dude, I appreciate it. Everyone listening, if you want to see some pictures of Mayur at the gym or out in life, connect with him on social media, I promise you, his Instagram Stories are awesome and totally worth to listen. Be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. All the links are there. While you’re on the page, please click the big button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture, and don’t forget to check out the book.
Thanks again for subscribing on iTunes or whatever app you use and for sharing this with your friends so they get the message that we’re all trying to spread, that who you are is so much more than what you do.
Ford is a CEO & Road Cyclist
Ford Baker, CEO and Founder of BaCo Tech, talks about how his poor health led him towards discovering his passion for cycling and how it has improved his life personally and in the workplace! Ford also talks about how he tries to encourage his organization to take more time off and lead a healthier lifestyle as well as how this led him to create his own accounting system to improve productivity and free up time for employees!
• Getting into cycling
• Cycling from Canada to Mexico
• Sending bikes for recruiting
• Building his own accounting system
• Changing the industry narrative
• Increasing time off by creating a productive workflow
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to do John’s anonymous survey
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Welcome to Episode 421 of What’s Your “And”? This is John Garrett, and each Wednesday, I interview a professional who, just like me, is known for a hobby or a passion or an interest outside of work. To put it in another way, it’s encouraging people to find their “and”, those things above and beyond your technical skills, the things that actually differentiate you when you’re at work.
If you like what the show is about, be sure to check out the book, also called What’s Your “And”? on Amazon, Indigo, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop, a few other websites. All the links are at whatsyourand.com. If you want me to read it to you, that’s right, this voice reading the book, look for What’s Your “And”? on Audible or wherever you get your audio books. The book goes more in depth with the research behind why these outside-of-work passions are so crucial to your corporate culture.
Since I’m a Notre Dame alum, I’m super excited because Lou Holtz wrote the foreword, so if you want to just read the first page and a half, totally cool. I can’t say how much it means that everyone’s reading it and writing such great reviews on Amazon and, more importantly, changing the cultures where they work because of it.
Please don’t forget to hit subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss any of the future episodes. I love hearing such interesting stories each and every week, and this week is no different with my guest, Ford Baker. He’s a CPA and the CEO of BaCo Tech, and now he’s with me here today. Ford, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Ford: Thank you. I won’t try to imitate Coach Holtz.
John: It’s all good, man. Yeah, I was super excited when I reached out, and he was like, of course, I’d love to. That was pretty cool.
Ford: It’s domination of Donald Duck and something else. I don’t know.
John: And awesome, Donald Duck and awe — which actually is my favorite Disney character, so we’ll skip that rapid-fire question. Here we go.
John: I’ll ask you. Here we go. How about a favorite day of the week?
Ford: I would say Saturday, college football.
John: Yeah, college football, there you go. Amen. How about puzzles, Sudoku or crossword?
Ford: I play Sudoku every day.
John: Oh, really? Okay.
Ford: Every day.
John: All right, impressive.
Ford: I didn’t hit the button one day, so I’ve lost my streak in 421 days in a row.
John: Oh, my gosh, that’s impressive.
Ford: I’m like that expert level, yes, all the time.
John: Impressive, man. Yeah, it’s almost like they give you none of the numbers, and then you figure it out anyway.
Ford: That’s what I like, so, a little bit of a math geek.
John: That’s called a tax return to me. That’s how I do mine. It’s like, oh, whatever. All right, how about a favorite color?
Ford: My favorite color would be green.
John: Green. Okay. How about a least favorite color?
Ford: Burnt orange.
John: I saw that coming from a mile away. That’s awesome.
Ford: I’m probably going to get in trouble, at least for not saying maroon, but I like the energy of green.
John: It’s all good. It’s all good. How about more cats or dogs?
Johhn: Dogs. Yeah, yeah, me too. How about, do you have a favorite actor or actress?
Ford: Do I have a favorite actor? Right now, I would say Jason Bateman.
John: Jason Bateman, solid answer. Yeah. He’s in so many good things. This is a fun one someone asked me a while ago, and I like flipping it back. Socks or shoes.
Ford: Oh, socks.
John: Right? That’s what I said.
Ford: I need to send you a pair of accounting socks. I’ve got a debit on the left and a credit on the right.
John: That’s awesome. Very cool. I’m a huge fan of fun socks. Absolutely. Even when I’m onstage wearing a suit, I’ve still got loopy socks.
Ford: Rocking a pair today. I like socks.
John: Absolutely. Absolutely. How about more Star Wars or Star Trek?
Ford: None of the above. I guess, Star Wars, if I had to pick, but Marvel.
John: Oh, Marvel. There you go. No, that works. Totally. How about books, audio version, e-book or real book?
Ford: I would probably say the real book.
John: Real book, yeah. I’m the same on that one. Since you’re an accountant, here we go, favorite number.
John: Yeah? Is there a reason?
Ford: We played the number game in high school, and it was my high school football number. If you could get the other guys, and we still play it. Literally, the longest year of my friends’ lives was two years ago, when I was 55, and they were as well. I call them on their birthday. How are you now? My kids literally wore 50. They literally wore, Will played safety and wore 55 in junior high.
John: That’s awesome. Yeah, the only junior high kid who really wants 55. Everyone else going for the single digits. Maybe 12, it’s like, nope. Very cool. How about your first concert?
Ford: Oh, this is going to be embarrassing, but it was Captain and Tennille.
John: Oh, there you go. That’s fantastic.
Ford: It was rough. It was my little sister’s birthday party. She went three years younger than I did. Yeah, Captain and Tennille, Love Will Keep Us Together.
John: At least it’s legendary. It could have been way worse. That’s pretty cool, man. Here we go, balance sheet or income statement.
Ford: Balance sheet.
John: Balance sheet, there you go. How about a favorite season, summer, winter, spring or fall?
Ford: I like summer.
John: Summer. Okay, all right. Impressive. How about favorite ice cream flavor?
Ford: Not knowing all the Ben & Jerry names, off the top of my head, I’d say cookies and cream and just go — I think it’s one that the late night host has, either one of the ones that the late night host has or —
John: Yeah, the Jimmy Fallon one is much —
Ford: Jimmy Fallon, yeah, it’s pretty good.
John: Yeah, that’s a good one. How about, three more, your computer, more PC or a Mac?
Ford: Oh, PC.
John: Yeah, totally.
Ford: Mac’s a great toy.
John: Right. Exactly. Would you say more suit and tie or jeans and a T shirt?
Ford: Jeans and a T-shirt. I had to change out of my T-shirt because I’ve got a meeting today. Typically I’m…
John: Nice. The last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.
Ford: I like my man cave. My daughter actually built some shelves around the top of the room. It’s got my Johnny Manziel autograph in there. It’s got my Jimbo autograph. It’s all kind of marooned out. It’s just kind of a big closet is what she actually made it into, but she went and tricked it up, and I can just — it’s a spare bedroom now that the kids are out of the house. She fixed it up, and it’s my sanctuary if I should get up early.
John: It’s got all of the cool things right in there.
Ford: All my cool stuff, yep, all my memorabilia.
John: That sounds fantastic. The TV as well as you just watch the games and, yeah, that’s perfect. Now we just need to move the bed in and a toilet and then I just don’t leave.
Ford: Yep, that’s pretty much it.
John: Right? That’s awesome, man. I love it. Let’s talk cycling. How’d you get started? Was it something where you rode bikes as a kid and just kept going?
Ford: Because of, I blamed it on busy season, I got up to where I weighed close to 400 pounds.
John: Oh, my gosh.
Ford: I had a light bulb moment where I went to the — well, actually, Will and my wife were very concerned, this was back in 2012, and so they staged a conversation. This is a long answer to that question.
John: No, no, it’s all good.
Ford: Yeah, so after tax season in 2012, they staged a conversation about doing a cleanse. I came in, and they were talking about doing a cleanse. I listen to the sports radio station here, and the guy on Saturday morning has a cleanse. I was like, oh, hey, we’ll do that. I’ll do it with you. I’m kind of an all-in guy, and so I did a cleanse. I probably took about 10 days to get all the materials shipped to us in the mail and us actually make the order then we have to start on a Monday, all the normal things. I watched what I did for those 10 days. I was probably 370, 375, something like that.
Ford: We started to cleanse, and toward the end of the cleanse, my glasses weren’t working, or my bifocals. I had just gotten the glasses. I knew it was the bifocals’ fault because I could lift the glasses, and I could read. I was blaming it on something’s wrong with the prescription, not thinking, well, if you can read, then your vision’s actually gotten better. Right?
Ford: I haven’t worn glasses to read since 2012. I called my eye doctor, and I went in to see him. He was like, well, you’ve lost some weight. Maybe your blood sugar has dropped, and your near vision’s — because I was high blood pressure, had all of those things. I said, no way. I’ve been taking Metformin for years. We went in, took a look. Sure enough, my near vision was perfect. My bifocals then had a clear — my riding glasses to see the computer is just clear on the bottom. I said I didn’t understand it. He went in and showed me a beach ball-sized picture of my eyeball, and showed me how you could tell I had high blood pressure and I had high cholesterol and all these things based on the arteries and the veins in my eyes. He said, “See this brown spot in your eye? That’s from blood sugar. That’s not bad.” Then what was a clear HIPAA violation because I can tell you what street this guy lived on, he pulled up somebody else’s eye that he couldn’t see anymore. He had to go to the Texas Eye Institute to get a shot in his eye, once a month, to keep from going blind. By the time I got, shot in your eye, ringing through my head, I heard once a month. I thought, I’m just going to do this cleanse for the rest of my life.
Ford: That was a bad idea, but it really — all of those things that you’ve ever read before, these results are typical, these results were mine. I tried a million different weight loss ideas, and none of them worked. This one did. I started walking the dog. I told myself, when I could get four miles in an hour, that I was going to do something different. So, in the most unlikely of scenarios, the day I hit four miles in an hour, Jim Calhoun, the basketball coach at Connecticut, falls off his bike and, I think, might broke his hip. Somebody on the ticket here in Dallas said he needs to get a different hobby. He’s too old to be riding a bicycle. I said he was 72. When I’m 72, I want to break my hip — or whatever he broke, I can’t remember what broke falling off a bicycle — I don’t want to break my hip falling off a Rascal reaching for Cheetos at the Walmart.
Ford: So, I dusted off the bike, and August 22nd of 2012, I went on my first bike ride. A year later, I rode the Hotter’N Hell, a 100-mile bike ride in —
John: A year later? Holy crap, man, that’s so — I mean, first of all, 15 minutes a mile, walking, is nothing to sneeze at. That’s a pretty good clip.
Ford: The first thing you’ve got to do is just be able to make it without everything — when you start walking off that weight, it was just all kinds of issues. I was down close to 300 by the time I actually got on a bike. I was a little nervous about being on a bike and being top heavy because I tried it before. I had a bike from a couple of years ago. I took it to the bike shop, fixed it up and just started riding that. Then, like I said, almost a year to the day after my first bike ride, I rode the Hotter’N Hell.
John: That’s awesome.
Ford: People were like, be careful not to get addicted to riding a bike or anything like that. If you’ve got a consumption issue, you might as well point that engine at something, if you’re going to run hot, point it at something good. That’s what cycling became for me.
John: That’s impressive, man. Now the dog has to walk itself because, sorry about you.
Ford: You had Will on the show. That particular dog, we let him stay over because we had one that got run over. When that dog’s gone, we do have another Patootie dog. I thought we were completely empty-nesters with the dog, but we’ve got another one. Anyway.
John: 100 miles, that’s an impressive ride, in one day. That’s commitment. Has that been your favorite ride or favorite memory from cycling?
Ford: Next year, I rode from Canada to Mexico down the Pacific Coast Highway, so, 2014.
John: There you go.
Ford: I was off all my meds. I just was all in. I’ve always been fascinated by the endurance, long distance events. Even though when I ran track in junior high, everybody had to run track, I never finished anything. They called me — bring home the bacon is what our track coach would do. I was the baconeer. I was the guy bringing home the bacon, coming in last place, never ran a track meet I didn’t finish last. Ran the 800. They scoured all of North Texas looking for a kid slower than the fat kid from Addison Farmers branch, and they were unsuccessful. I was completely defeated, whatever the opposite of undefeated.
John: You thought it was golf. I was undefeated.
Ford: That’s right. I was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of…
John: Right? I had the worst score possible. No, but that’s so harsh. For you to be able to turn that around, that’s years and years of things that you’re telling yourself that other people are telling you as well. The cycling is beyond the losing weight. There are so many more layers here to it.
Ford: Yeah, you have to get past — I mean, COVID has been a tough time because you got stuck in this depressing place, and you start to play those tapes again. I call this my COVID-19. I’m going the wrong direction again. Got on the road Saturday, and it’s been raining so much here lately. You do have to turn off those tapes. Because the hardest thing, I think, about being obese is that it’s the thing that you can make fun of still. We can’t watch The Little Rascals because of the terrible things that they said. They were kind of racial, but they made fun of the fat kid. He played catcher and ate chocolate with his hands and got it all over his face. He was slow and dumb. 20 years later or 30 years later, it’s Bad News Bears, and it’s still the same. We’re going to make fun of Boss Hogg and all of those guys. They’re always going to be bad guys.
You start to get the idea that it’s okay to be laughed at, that you’re a little less than everybody else. You feel like everybody’s always whispering. You have to get past those mental hang-ups. It is a dangerous condition to have. I worry about going the other direction. I think we’re a little too — swung a little bit and been two accommodating. We need to figure out some sort of encouragement for encouraging people to make a difference. That’s initially what I started to do was just I gave away bicycles to other CPAs and tried to encourage them. We have a very high mortality rate.
John: CPAs as a whole, the profession.
Ford: Yes, yes. It’s the highest mortality rate of any profession. My life insurance, very odd statistic he told me when he said it’s higher than skydiving instructors and window washers, which means it’s more dangerous doing your neighbor’s tax return than it is to jump out of airplanes or hanging at the side of a building.
It’s so cyclical. I’m on the tax side, and every six months, here’s another deadline, here’s another deadline, here’s another deadline. So, a lot of my focus became on becoming efficient. I became a lot more efficient. I was working 100 hours during tax season, and I was working overtime all year long. There was so much work to be done. Obviously I fixed a lot of things in two years inside the practice if I could take off for a month and ride from Canada to Mexico. I found a lot of efficiencies. I was always worried about busy season and that creeping back up.
John: Yeah, and then busy season, there’s free pizzas and free food or whatever. You’re in the office, so it’s getting fast food or takeout or something. You’re just sitting the whole time. You’re not even getting up and walking.
Ford: You can’t order a salad back then either from DoorDash or anything like that. It was all pizza or Chinese food. That was everything that was delivered.
John: Right? Exactly. I think it’s so cool that you’re giving away bikes.
Ford: I had a motivation to make a difference for my industry, I really did, but giving away bikes and doing things like that, was a good way to market the firm for new hires. It was effective there. There are the guys from other CPA firms that have a bicycle that they’re nice bikes. I ride a specialized. I’m loyal to it. We spent a little bit of money on it. The staff comes in once we started the technology firm, BaCo Tech. My CPA firm’s called the BaCo Group, and that was where the word BaCo come from. The name of my firm was Baker and Company, and a nickname, growing up, was BaCo, and internally, we referred to ourselves as BaCo. We were number one on Google for Dallas CPA firm search.
I had learned from a client how to drive and so I wanted to really figure out a better way to do it so I won new clients. So we renamed the firm, from Baker and Company, to BaCo Group so that you couldn’t tell — if you’re Baker and Company, it’s either that you’re working with Baker or/and company. By being BaCo Group, the only discernible word was group. It’s actually redundant because the CO stands for company. It’s the Baker Company Group. Anyway, I got two collectives in there.
John: Yeah, but I think that’s great. As a differentiator for talent, that’s huge. Why not? What’s the difference between one accounting firm than another accounting firm? You’re both doing audits and tax returns, and you’re probably using the same software. This one actually cares about your health and actually gives away bikes. Okay, there’s a differentiator.
Ford: It was an easy way to recruit. I had a similar call today, I can. It was very much a positive mindset, what I did, but I always say is, find a big target, instead of a big goal. Whenever I would start these things before, I would say, I’m not going to eat any carbs, I’m going to meet my trainer, every day, I’m going to do this, I’m going to do this, I’m going to do this. Then one day, there would be bagels and you eat a carb. The next day, it’d be a donut. The day after that, it’d be a dozen. That big goal is a checklist of things that you have to do every day, and my mindset literally became, I don’t want a needle in my eye. Not very different than that mindset of, here’s my checklist of goals. If I ate that bagel the other day, but I rode my bike, and I did other things; it was, at least I got a little bit further away from that needle in my eye. Most diabetics don’t live to have that happen. Their heart gives out before their vision does.
Ford: We don’t hear as much about it. It’s also real unfortunate that we have the same name as the real actual chronic type one diabetes. My daughter’s type one. She woke up in junior high, one day, and her pancreas was off. She has a chronic condition. I can fix mine by riding a bicycle. 95% is type two, and 90% of us could control it completely by exercising and eating right. We are inundated with finding a cure, which we desperately need to do, but there is a cure. Get on a bike. Walk the dog. I did a cleanse. A couple of weeks later, my vision returned. It is a side effect from bad eating and type two. There is this percentage of people that can’t ever get off of insulin or whatever is that they’re a type of diabetic.
John: Sure, but for a lot of people, it doesn’t hurt anyway. It doesn’t hurt. I think it’s great that that positive mentality that you had, the accidental byproduct was it helps with recruiting, but it’s helping people get healthy. It’s helping be positive. It’s helping not want to just drive people into the ground, churn and burn, and I don’t really care about you. It shows that you care about them as a person, not just their ability to do a tax return or what have you. I think that’s fantastic.
Ford: The other thing that the way cycling impacted it is, riding a bike, I don’t own a car anymore, so riding a bike is always a more pleasant way to get around than driving a car. It’s fun. If you’ve done a trip like that, or I rode from Manhattan up to Boston, I’ve done a couple of longer rides, you have so much fun doing that. You really want to protect. I like the summer because I can ride all summer. It’s not raining. Right now, it’s in the spring. I know it’s going to be September by the time this is on, but right now it’s raining.
Used to be I couldn’t ride during tax season as much as I wanted to. I had become so focused on everything that was efficient in my practice that I backed into this tool that I’ve worked with, for a client, could gather data out of QuickBooks files very efficiently, very effectively. I ended up putting my clients in that same space just so I could make getting that data out of their files a lot more efficient, a lot more effective. I started thinking, I think I can actually build a functional accounting system inside of Excel. I called it the Accounting Machine. We could consolidate 70-plus QuickBooks files in about 30 minutes, and we’d create this really complicated set of financials.
As cool as I thought that was and, yes, that does make me a geek that I thought that was cool, but as cool as I thought that was, that we got to the point that we could do that, the other efficiencies I saw from having all the data for that client, I started to wonder, now doing this financial reporting, that’s not what I do. I do taxes. Could I build something to automate that process, like I could in Excel, to automate the tax return, convert from accrual to tax? Could I build something that would do that? I literally spent three, four years modeling an accounting software package.
In 2018 is probably where I started to lose those employees. I called it the Accounting Machine, and I said, I think I can fix busy season. That’s not a really great way to set vision for your firm. I hired a guy out of Puerto Rico to actually build out a proof of concept for me and see if it would work. We were on phone calls with Google Translate. That’s only Mexican Spanish, not Puerto Rican. There’s been a body of water that’s separated that for 400 years.
Ford: There were points, I got pretty loud, not like mad loud, but just they’ve got all kinds of chirping crickets and things in the background. He lived up in the mountains. We built a concept. I got an SBA loan, hired a CTO. He built out a really functioning one. We had fixed a lot of issues. What I was realizing was that, now I’ve got all this going, I’m still calling it the Accounting Machine. We lost her, and I knew that meant I was going to lose somebody else. I had to find a better — I had to figure out why we fixed busy season. I went home and just wrote down everything that why I thought that busy season was busy, for lack of a better word, on a piece of paper, and why I thought that I was addressing it on there.
Every time I wrote something down, the redundancy of workflow. If I do a tax plan, the balances at October 31st don’t have anything to do with the balances at December 31st. The work I do on the balances of October 31 has to be repeated on the balances — that concept of, you heard balances, I said over and over again, balances we’re in the middle of all of my problems, and I wasn’t solving them because I was pulling all these transactions. Everything I’d done and built to that point was still balanced-based. I would wait until I actually pulled the balance.
When we actually uncapped that and said we’re just going to focus on the transactions and pull the transactions; that we really saw the efficiency blew off. We really capped what we could do. We applied for a patent for a transaction-based workflow for CPA firms, and we got it in nine months. It was part of the Highway Program, which I didn’t even know existed, which meant we were designated as special.
Ford: We got designated as special, so we got put in for expedited processing. Our patent went in exactly, if you read our patent, it’s exactly verbatim, word for word, what we wrote. The first office action taken by the US Patent Office was to issue our patent, which is our patent attorney only does patents, and he actually worked on the Wi-Fi patent.
John: Oh, wow.
Ford: The patent for Wi-Fi are the only, what he calls, significant patents that had a first Office Action of Issuance where they issued the patent. We’re really excited. We have continuation claims in place now. We didn’t have overtime and busy season, and so Texas is extended through June 15th. We filed 90% of the returns inside the firm by March 31st, on the business returns. It all started because I wanted to be able to ride the bike, finding work in as many hours at a tech startup because I did. It’s really exciting time.
Nationally, we just got out of tax season. That was May 17th. We’re a couple of days after, and we’re at the first point since we actually started the company, December 31st, 2019. We never really have had a chance to sell. The pandemic shut us out of being able to talk to CPAs. We were ready to go to market in June, but we just couldn’t talk. This has been a very small window at the end of the year, and this is the first chance that we’ve really gotten out. We’ve been out of the BDO Alliance and so we have a couple of good-sized firms that we’re pursuing at this point.
We had a handful of people that worked with us in tax season, but just wasn’t enough time to really make a meaningful impact. We are now. We’re speaking at the AICPA conference on how accounting technology broke public accounting, and we’ll talk about the balance-based workflow and how that’s impacted us, at that event.
John: That’s awesome, man. No overtime, that’s got to be something that’s great for people that work for BaCo Group. It’s mentally healthier.
Ford: To some extent, as CPAs, especially these guys that have come in, one guy moved from New York and the other guy moved from Los Angeles to come in and help manage the firm in our place. The younger folks think it’s possible. People my age really are very doubtful that I heard one CPA here in town say it’s going to take somebody with far more resources than Excel and an act of imagination to do that. I think there’s this part of me that gets tenacious about something enough to want to be able to ride a bike from Canada to Mexico, to be pretty good on a bike for a guy who was never really athletic. I’m driven to see something all the way, if I get my teeth into something. It just became this concept that this could work.
I built out more proof of concepts. I anticipated so much more specific, how can I do this, but it’s essentially online banking for a CPA firm. The power of online banking is not that you get a PDF at the end the month with a balance on it, it’s the bank and your accounting software exchange transactions every night, real time. We’ve extended the time, every other solution, because it’s balanced base can’t start until after the end of the year. You’ve only got 60 days to work on a tax return. We’ve got 470 days, from January 1st.
We’re working right now on 21 tax returns because we’re bringing in data every night. We created a real touch at once, an alert. I can clear something that’s of tax significance or accounting significance or things like that. In less than two minutes, I can post things back to QuickBooks from our platform. I can push it straight into the tax software. I can adjust things real time throughout the year.
John: Yeah, it’s an impressive piece of software, for sure. Just to shift subjects just a little bit, how much do you think it matters, for you, it’s cycling, how much does it matter to leadership at the top to create that space for other people to be able to share what their “and” is, with the free time that they now have, thanks to the efficiencies?
Ford: I think that we have to, as an industry, have to start proactively trying to change some of that narrative, the idea that it’s always you don’t understand my clients and things like that. I think we have to start to create that space. When I started, it was a paper workflow. We were more efficient, more effective. We had less turnover when we did everything by paper than we are today. I worked for a firm that was very late on the curve, so, over the next ten years, I became the IT guy, installed the server. By the time we got to the end, I was working more hours at the end of my career than I was before. In that nine-year period that I worked, coming out of school, that nine-year period, I was the second person that left. We were 25 people at that firm. The industry average now is going to be closer to three than two people a year that would leave.
John: Oh, yeah.
Ford: We terminated people. For now, in the industry, for every one person that you fire, four people will leave voluntarily. The turnover is so high. We have a remarkable number of kids that come out of school and will hold their offer to work at one of the big firms for longer than they’ll actually stay there. There are things I don’t like about the big firms.
I went to Texas A&M, as we discussed, and their recruiting center is named after Deloitte. The narrative at Texas A&M, if you spent that much money and you’re Deloitte and every one of the faculty just stays two years, it’s going to be terrible. If I spent that much money at A&M, I would want them to say, hey, it’s the greatest place to work in the world. You should work in the big eight, and if you’re going to work anywhere, it should only be Deloitte, and you should never ever leave. Yet, we all seem resigned to this idea that this is an absolutely terrible job. It can be manageable.
John: It can be.
Ford: In the old days back, but with John Savill and the group that was here local, we solved our own problem in a paper-based workflow. We had all these little tools our clients used. We were proactive, and we worked at the end of the year to get ready for the next years. We were getting data from clients earlier. Now, we don’t really understand the solutions and everything. We’re not fixing it ourselves. We’re not pushing back hard enough. You look at the efficiencies that are out there in the world. There’s not pushing back hard enough that you can get there. Once we do, I think we’ll have a lot more creativity. I think we’ll have a lot more space for people that think outside the box and stuff like that.
John: Yeah. When you worked at that other firm, did people actually know each other? Did you feel like sharing your “and” was the thing, back in that time?
Ford: I think so. We still had busy season. We still worked 55 hours a week, but I could bank all my overtime and take it off as additional time off, if I wanted to. You have to wonder now, can you even take all your time off? They’re now promoting at the big firms, hey, you can have unlimited time off because you can work from anywhere. If I had to work and took my laptop around on my bicycle while I rode the Big Sur but I didn’t leave the office; I’d leave the office.
John: Yeah, yeah.
Ford: I don’t want to drag work around with me. I don’t answer text messages at night. I have a different cell phone for work and business. I just believe you’ve got to set some boundaries, and I hope that we start to do that. Because if you’re working current, then you should be able to set boundaries because you’re going to solve problems before they occur. You don’t have these emergencies. We’re accountants. Why in the world is there an emergency on a Sunday afternoon, needs to get something solved? Because they waited till the last minute. So I really am excited for what it’ll do for the industry. It’ll work for large firms, small firms, whoever doesn’t want overtime.
John: Totally. How much do you feel like it’s a tone at the top sort of message, versus somebody from the bottom starting up, of actually getting to know each other? What lights you up? Talking Texas A&M football or talking cycling, things like that, or whatever someone else’s “and” is. How important do you feel tone at the top is?
Ford: I try to have that discussion with — I think the hard part is that we can be pretty introverted. I’m obviously not the typical accountant, if I was playing around trying to create something. I never took something that I should be a CPA. The idea that there needs to be a little bit more of a connection, I don’t know that we totally ignore it. I think that a lot of the resistance from people that hear about my technology is, well, busy season is when we make all our money. I don’t like the sweatshop mindset that we had. I was sleeping at the office and so was, currently my partner, but she was pregnant, sleeping on the couch at the office, because we were working so many hours during tax season.
John: Yeah, that’s crazy.
Ford: Still, everybody’s not happy.
Ford: Wasn’t enough. Will’s birthday is March 24th. We celebrated his birthday after April 15th more times than we didn’t because I didn’t have time to go to a kid’s birthday party during tax season. I never said I didn’t have time to go to some kid’s birthday party, but believe me, that’s what Will heard. If you’re not celebrating your birthday because Dad’s got to work, he doesn’t have time to go to a kid’s birthday party, no matter how you try to pitch it. It’s a tough business. It’s tough on us.
John: You don’t want that for the rest of your people, and I think that’s great. You’re not happy because you’re not able to go do the things that actually light you up. Doing tax returns doesn’t light you up.
Ford: Wouldn’t it be great to go, I’d love go to the Maroon and White game one year. I’d love to go to spring training and see the Rangers when they’re not pathetic like they are this year.
Ford: Do those things. The idea that I could have gone to spring break with my kids when they were younger, when they had a week off, never could do that. We, as an industry, know exactly what’s going to be due this time next year, what’s going to be due next March 15th and April 15th, what form, who’s going to do it. We’ve been doing it for years. Why are we so focused on those last 60 days? Why is it nobody ever said, why isn’t that a good thing? Why haven’t we built a workflow that just makes that automatic? Because there are so many standards we work with as an industry. It’s easy to create a technology that actually works, because we just haven’t focused on all the things we can set our clock by, until the pandemic.
Ford: Something always happens during tax season. There’s always something that occurs. This year, we were frozen for two weeks in the middle of Texas, all the way down to the border.
John: Oh, yeah, ice storm and everything.
Ford: California seems like it’s always on fire. A couple of years ago, all of Carolinas was devastated by a hurricane. Houston got flooded. Two years ago, Trump changed the tax law in December, and we’ve had all of these new balancing. I literally went to a training class, and I swear, there were more we asked questions on, I don’t think they thought of that yet. You’re literally trying to figure out what are you going to do, real time. Something’s always going to impact what we’re doing. We need to be proactive and be ready for next year so when it happens, you can be in the moment with a client.
We really discovered the difficulty, during the pandemic, of everybody having a different deadline. That was a lot more, everybody dealing with different banks and all that kind of stuff. It was a lot harder to deal with that, and many CPAs just couldn’t do it, than it was to get the tax returns done. It blew up our tax season.
John: Disruptive element, everything. Yeah, yeah. If anything, that just reiterates how much more important having that “and” is because everything’s always changing. Technology’s changing, and the rules are changing. Everything’s changing. Something’s going to come in and wreck it, whatever, but having that anchor point, that eye of the hurricane, if you will, like your cycling, is always there. It’s always there for you. It’s never changing. I think it’s really important just for people to have those things.
Ford: I think that this year, in a backwards way, was more evident of that than ever before. At some points during the pandemic, I could have ridden my bicycle down the middle of the Interstate and not had any traffic. I should have been out all the time, but you became so obsessed with what was happening in the news, whether it was how long are we going to be shut down, or social unrest and social upheaval and all the things that took place over the past 12 months, I eventually just said, I’m turning it off. I’m just not going to watch any of that anymore because it was eating at me so much. It was consuming — there was so much concern about things I couldn’t control, and that’s ultimately why you need that release. I think that it’s just so great to get out and just burn off that, whether it be anxiety from work or anxiety from something like a pandemic or whatever. Just get outside and —
John: Yeah, just go do your thing.
Ford: Yeah. That’s why I like riding. You just clear your head.
John: I love it, man. That’s such great advice for everybody listening too, just get out and do it. Whatever your “and” is, just make time and do it. Doesn’t have to be every day. It doesn’t have to be every month. Just make time and go do it. That’s awesome. Well, it’s only fair, since I started out the episode, rapid-fire questioning you, that I turn the tables and make this the first episode of the Ford Baker podcast. Thanks for having me on. Whatever questions you’d like to ask, I’m all yours.
Ford: Outside of Lou Holtz, who’s the coach you wish had never gone and the coach you wish you never hired?
John: Oh, wow, that’s really good. Probably, I don’t know, Bob Davey. He was the former defensive coordinator at Texas A&M, who we used to beat all the time. Then he hires as his offensive coordinator, Jim Colletto from Purdue, who we used to beat all the time. It was like, let’s just gather all the coaches of teams we all beat and then have them on as staff. It’s like, no, that’s a terrible idea. He’s a nice guy and was a great defensive coordinator but, yeah, just probably not the best head coach for Notre Dame.
Ford: We were bitter about that until now. Once we realized that he just probably wasn’t head coach.
John: Yeah, right. Exactly. Exactly.
Ford: Good defense coordinator.
John: Right, exactly, with the Wrecking Crew, was it? What was the…
Ford: Oh, yeah. RC started that under Jackie.
John: Oh, okay, got it.
Ford: RC was so good, from a standpoint of — the defense was always so good under his tutelage that we won a lot of games, but we’re never going to win that game where we needed to score 21 points against a really good defense because he just was so conservative. If the wind was blowing, he ain’t throwing. We were going to…
John: That’s funny.
Ford: It was a great era, but be careful what you wish for. I love Jimbo now. He’s so much fun to just watch in a press conference. Anyway, I think he’s put together a lot of talent on the field, so it’s fun to watch. Where’s the place you’ve never been that you want to go to?
John: Oh, wow. College football-wise, I’ve been to a lot. Probably A&M actually, would probably be on that list.
Ford: We play all in two years?
John: Yeah, I think so. It’s like, yeah, two or three.
Ford: How about you take me to the Notre Dame game, and I’ll take you to…
Ford: A&M game. I’ve got seats down there, so we’ll catch a game.
John: Just the tradition and the atmosphere and all of it. Well, it’s so much fun having you be a part of What’s Your “And”? Thanks so much, Ford.
Ford: Yeah, yeah, yeah, we’ll connect, and I’ll send you over those pictures I was telling you about too.
John: Awesome. Everybody listening in, if you want to see some of those pictures, or maybe connect with Ford on social media or LinkedIn, or check out a link to his accounting machine website, you should go to whatsyourand.com. Everything’s there. While you’re on the page, please click that big button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture. Don’t forget to check out the book.
Thanks again for subscribing on iTunes or whatever app you use and for sharing this with your friends so they get the message that we’re all trying to spread, that who you are is so much more than what you do.
Brian is an Accountant & Ironman
Brian Dubow talks about how he discovered his passion for running endurance marathons, how it has helped him with his overall perspective and connecting with people in the workplace, and what type 2 fun means!
• Getting into endurance running
• Attempting the 6 biggest marathons in 6 years
• How his experience in running marathons applies to his career
• People respect the passion
• Run your own race
• Type 2 fun
Please take 2 minutes
to do John’s anonymous survey
about Corporate Culture!
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Welcome to Episode 419 of What’s Your “And”? This is John Garrett, and each Wednesday, I interview a professional who, just like me, is known for a hobby or a passion or an interest outside of work. To put it another way, it’s encouraging people to find their “and”, those things above and beyond your technical skills, the things that actually differentiate you when you’re at work.
If you like what the show is about, be sure to check out the book. It’s on Amazon, Indigo, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop, a few other websites. All the links are at whatsyourand.com. The book goes more in depth with the research behind why these outside-of-work passions are so crucial to your corporate culture. If you want me to read the book to you, that’s right, this voice reading the book, the audio version’s out, so look for What’s Your “And’? on Audible or wherever you get your audio books. I can’t say how much it means that everyone’s reading it and writing such great reviews on Amazon and, more importantly, changing the cultures where they work because of it.
Please don’t forget to hit subscribe to the podcast, so you don’t miss any of the future episodes. I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week, and if you have a hobby or a passion outside of work or you know someone that does, please reach out because I’d love to showcase you on the show and share more stories of professionals shattering the stereotype.
This week is going to be awesome with my guest Brian Dubow. His background is as a deals consultant and then a Global Talent and Impact Senior Associate at PwC. Now he’s getting his MBA at UCLA Anderson School of Management. He’s also the host of a Hit of Happiness podcast, and now he’s with me here today. Brian, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Brian: Hey, John. I couldn’t find anyone cooler to hang out with, for this hour, so there we are.
John: Nice, nice. Already my most favorite guest. Here we go. We have a winner. There it is. That’s awesome, man. I’m excited to have you be a part of this, and it was fun being a part of your podcast as well, Hit of Happiness, which is very cool. Here are some rapid-fire questions I didn’t ask. Before we hang out in person, I figured, get to know Brian on a new level here. I’ll start out with a somewhat easy one. Favorite color.
Brian: Favorite color, blue.
John: Blue, nice. Mine too. How about a least favorite color?
Brian: Brown. I don’t think anyone looks good in brown.
John: I think brown is just there to accentuate the color of the other thing.
Brian: It makes things look good actually. Surround yourself with brown, you’re going to blossom.
John: That’s why they give dudes khaki pants. You can’t mess up, just this and whatever. It works. Right?
John: How about cats or dogs?
Brian: Grew up with dogs, yeah. I love dogs.
John: Totally. How about a favorite actor or actress?
Brian: Leonardo DiCaprio, man.
John: Oh, okay.
Brian: All his movies get me going, especially the psychological thrillers out there.
John: Oh, yeah, yeah. No, he’s very good, for sure. This is a fun one someone asked me, so I’d like to flip it back. Socks or shoes.
Brian: Wow, that’s a tough one because —
John: It is. Right?
Brian: I love shoes, but I would never want to wear my shoes without socks. So, what came first, the chicken or the egg here?
John: That’s exactly what —
Brian: I guess, for that reason, I need the socks.
John: Yeah, exactly. Plus, socks are fun. You get some pretty fun dress socks especially, and stuff like that. I wasn’t sure if your being originally a Miami guy, if you were like, who needs socks? No, I agree, man. I agree. How about a favorite day of the week?
Brian: I love Saturdays. Saturdays are the days, you wake up, you grab a bagel and just get after it.
John: Right? There it is. Yeah, it’s like do what you want. There you go. That’s when college football happens, so that’s even better. How about puzzles, Sudoku, crossword, jigsaw?
Brian: I would say Sudoku. I’m a numbers guy. I love numbers, so test me with numbers, we’re having fun.
John: Awesome All right. Since you have the CPA background, balance sheet or income statement.
Brian: Balance sheet. There’s something just a little nice when things all check out. It gives you that nice little high for a minute when everything balances.
John: You know if it’s wrong. The income statement could be wrong. I don’t know. It might be. The balance sheet is like, all right, it’s definitely not right.
Brian: Something’s off.
John: Exactly. It’s perfect. How about Star Wars or Star Trek?
Brian: I was never into either of those series, but I did go to Disney recently, and they have this whole new Star Wars Land with some cool rides. I will give the check to Star Wars for that reason.
John: Yeah, there you go. There’s no Star Trek Land. There we go. How about computer, PC or a Mac?
Brian: Wow. I like what Mac offers and their brand and their why, but all I need is an HP. I’m not a tech wizard. A PC gives me everything I need.
John: There we go. That’s basic. There we go. How about a suit and tie or jeans and a T-shirt?
Brian: That’s a tough one because it feels good to look good.
Brian: It feels really good, but it also doesn’t feel good when that tie is a little too tight.
John: Right. Right.
Brian: Jeans and a T-shirt.
John: Okay, okay. Yeah, fair enough. How about a favorite ice cream flavor? I love ice cream.
Brian: I love ice cream too. Coconut.
John: Coconut. Oh, okay. There we go. That’s interesting. All right. How about a favorite season, spring, winter, fall, summer?
Brian: I think I have to give it to fall. I feel like fall is just — everyone’s away for summer. Everyone’s on their own journey. Everyone comes back for fall. The excitement is there. College football is there. Life is exciting.
John: Yeah, yeah, and it’s done being gross hot. It’s just appropriately temperature outside. There you go. How about a first concert?
Brian: First concert, wow. I have to go deep in the archives for that. I would say my first concert was probably with my family, something like Britney Spears or Gwen Stefanie.
John: Oh, okay. Okay. There we go. Nice. Like a family trip. There you go.
Brian: I’ve been to a lot of concerts since then, and completely different genres, but if we’re going back to the beginning, that’s the OG.
John: There we go. Well, those are not too bad, I guess. How about a favorite number?
Brian: Favorite number, aha, my first thought is 25.
Brian: It’s just the number I wore when I played high school sports. Maybe it’s because there’s 25 cents in a quarter. I’m not really sure why that’s the number, but 25.
John: Okay. No, that works. I’ve got two more. How about books, audio version, e-book or real book?
Brian: Real book. I read before I go to bed every night. That’s part of my shutdown process, so I love a good real book. Yeah, there you go.
Brian: Including your book, I have your book next to my nightstand, John, What’s Your “And”?
John: Oh, wow. Okay. My apologies in advance, everyone.
Brian: You’re rocking me to bed every night, John.
John: Well, wait till the audio one, and it’s even worse. He’s in my head. He’s in my head. Get out. The last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own, besides a copy of my book. No, I’m just kidding.
Brian: That’s top five.
John: All right, all right. Fair enough.
Brian: Favorite thing, I have a bracelet I wear that says. “Manifest on it.” Someone who I coached for a little bit, she got it for me. Just looking at that on my wrist every day helps me believe that anything’s possible, and what I’ve set my mind to, I can make happen and manifest it. That’s probably my favorite item that makes other items in my life way cooler, if that makes sense.
John: Yeah. No, that totally makes sense. I love it. That’s awesome. Which leads into a little bit of the distance athlete, everything, how did you get started, the running, swimming, training for the Ironman, all of that stuff? Was it something that you grew up doing? Or was it something you got into later in life? Yeah, I do like running and cycling and all this far type of thing?
Brian: Yeah, that’s a good question, John. Running, I played sports in high school and growing up, but I was never track and field star or anything like that. I probably never ran more than five or six miles until I got to college. College, I started running a little bit more because I started gaining the freshman 15. It’s like, I got to do something about this. Sometimes it’s five miles or eight miles, whatnot. Then my mom’s 50th birthday came around. She’s a bit of a runner. As she was signing up for a half marathon, and asked if I would do with her as a 50th birthday gift, I was like, absolutely. That was my first half marathon. That opened up doors for a few more half marathons. Then, after school, I moved to New York City, and I decided to enter the lottery for the New York City Marathon. I think the odds of winning the lottery is maybe one in six or something, not great odds. I was like, this is just something that it’ll make a good story one day. I entered the lottery, didn’t get it.
John: Yeah. Oh, shucks.
Brian: Fortunately, I won, fortunately or unfortunately. It’s like, all right, I have six months to train to become one of those crazy people who do marathons. That leads you down this rabbit hole where you start talking to other people who have done marathons, teach me, how do I train, what do I do, et cetera, et cetera. Slowly, you just peel back layers of the onion where, all of a sudden, you’re changing your diet, you’re changing your sleeping habits, you’re changing various aspects of your life, and I did my first marathon.
John: That’s awesome, and New York City Marathon, which is one of the icons. That’s cool.
Brian: It was really special. All my friends were there. My family was there. Going into the marathon, I was like, all right, one and done. This will be another bucket list thing. I finished the marathon, woke up the next day, could barely walk or get out of bed.
John: Oh, yeah. Right?
Brian: Therefore, I entered the lottery for the Chicago Marathon.
John: That’s crazy.
Brian: Yeah. So, entered that lottery, of course, won that lottery, not of course, but that’s the way life works sometimes.
John: Yeah, you manifested it.
Brian: I manifested it, exactly. I envisioned it, so there I was. From that point, I got a new goal in my life. I’m a very goal-oriented person. There’s the big six marathons. There’s New York, Chicago, Boston, Tokyo, London and Berlin. I was now going to do my second marathon in two years, and I said, you know what? Maybe I should do the big six. Maybe I should do the big six in six years. That would be kind of cool. That became my next goal. I did Chicago, then I signed up for Berlin. I was supposed to do Berlin in 2020. That’s when COVID hit, world blew up, to some extent, and so my plan of the big six marathons in six years kind of exploded. I started reevaluating life, as we all do, on personal level and also on my sports endurance goals.
Brian: I wondered, how can I use this time most effectively? What is the opportunity in front of me? That’s when I decided to pivot and say, I’ve heard about these crazy people who do triathlons, who do Ironman, but I’ve always been hesitant because it’s 20, 25 hours of training a week. I was like, I’ll never find that time. Also, at the time, I was a consultant, Monday to Thursday, on a plane. You don’t have a bike, or you’re not guaranteed a pool at the hotel you’re staying at. With all this remote work, I was like, you know what? Maybe this is the time in my life to do an Ironman.
Brian: As I hear myself saying that, I’m thinking, Brian, you’re a crazy person. Maybe I am, but that’s okay. We’re all a little crazy.
John: No, no. It makes total sense. The universe created the space, and you could be training for the big six marathons, which would be awesome to do, but doing the the Ironman is also a cool goal. You had this energy and this focus that was on one thing. You can’t do it. Alright, well, let’s just change the target to something actually maybe even bigger and badder than the original. I wish that half marathons weren’t called half marathons because they’re not half of anything. They’re still far, so, give yourself credit on that. It’s one of those where, once you hit that, then it’s like, oh, I could do the full marathon, type of concept. Does that mentality or anything like that translate to work, or the training or any of this give you a skill, or maybe vice versa, work helped you prepare?
Brian: Yeah, I think that you’re spot on right there, John, where, when you hit these milestones that you didn’t think were possible, it builds your confidence, and you start to wonder, what else can I do? What else is possible? Instead of thinking, is this possible; it’s more of, how can I make this possible? So, as I hit the half marathon, as I hit the full marathon, whatever, it keeps on pushing out the boundaries of what you think is possible. Again, then you take that to the workplace.
I used to be stressed out by any assignment I was given. All of a sudden, it’s like, I could do this. If I could do a half marathon, and that’s really uncomfortable, that’s painful, my legs are hurting; this isn’t going to hurt. It might not be fun, but it’s not going to hurt. The Excel spreadsheet, it’s way less intimidating at that point. It really just puts a lot of things in perspective. For me, it’s just getting comfortable being uncomfortable and putting yourself in uncomfortable situations, then the things that used to stress you out, don’t stress you out as much. It’s more of a, I’m just going to do this. That’s piece one of the workplace and the outlook on the work, and then just, I would say, ability to connect with people in the workplace.
There’s a few facets of it where, I know you interview a lot of people about their “and”, and I guess some people have to go out of their way to bring their “and” into the workplace. For me, I train every morning, and I really can’t accept a meeting before 8:30 am or so because I’m meeting up with my training team or whoever I’m running with or biking with, until 8:30. I definitely have calendar invites at 7:30, 8:00, and I have to be honest with my team, say, “Hey, how important is this meeting? Because I am training for this goal. If you really need me there, I will be there. I’ll skip training today, and I’ll do it later in the day. If not, I’m going to go to training.” So, it comes up naturally. It’s not like I have to say to my work teams, “By the way, guys, I’m doing this cool thing,” and I don’t know if it’s cool, but I’m doing this thing. That breaks down boundaries.
I think just health is a hot topic these days, and everyone, hopefully, everyone’s at least walking. Maybe they’re running. Maybe they’ve done a 5K, whatever. When you hear that, oh, this person’s done a half marathon or marathon, that usually picks most people’s interest because everyone wants to grow. They want to do more. They just have those walls in their head because our biggest enemy is those six inches between our ears, of just, yeah, that sounds cool, but I can never do that. Then when I actually, granularly walk people through the process of what it takes, it’s like, oh, maybe I could do that. All of this is showing up, day after day after day after day after day, which, easier said than done but.
John: Right, right. No, exactly, exactly, but it’s a little bit at a time. It’s the same as probably with work. You can’t just show up on the first day and be a wizard, master of everything that I’m supposed to know. It’s like, no, no, you just get a little bit over time, every day. The same with training for a marathon. You just don’t show up and tape the number on and go, all right, I guess I’m going to do this. Holy crap, no. You’ve got to train for it.
I did one half marathon and then retired, but my whole mantra was peak on race day because I was not super dedicated to the training. I was like, I don’t want to wear myself out. I’m just going to peak on race day. I’m just going to — I got lucky. It worked out that way, and that’s why I don’t want to go back. Because I’m like, you know what? That was good, but I’m doing other things instead. It’s cool to know, like, I never thought I’d be able to run that. Good for you for being, like, hey, I did the half. I can do the full, and then I can do another full and then another one.
Brian: Yeah, it’s like a drug. The more you push yourself out there, the more you start wondering, well, what is possible? Do we have limits at all? Is there a path to anything in this world, and it’s just a matter of clearly defining the plan? Because training for these races, you just trust the plan. You build out a plan, or you hire a coach who builds a plan for you. Somehow that leads you to your goal. You look at business, let’s say. Look at a company like Google. That started from one person who had an idea, and now that company makes billions, maybe even trillions of dollars, I don’t even know.
John: Right, right. A lot.
Brian: A lot of commas in there.
John: Yeah, exactly, exactly.
Brian: When I think about physical, yes, I keep on pushing, wondering, what’s out there? What else is possible? Is anything possible? Are we limitless? Then you look at that from a business perspective, is that how these businesses grew? Did they just keep on building more and more momentum until they were like, we can do anything?
John: Right? That’s when it gets dangerous, though, because then they can do anything actually. It’s like, well, wait a minute.
Brian: Yeah. Now Facebook knows everything we’re doing.
Brian: I don’t choose anymore.
John: Pretty much. They’re reminding me. Remember, you bought this? You probably need it again, don’t you? Get out of my house. How do you know this? It’s crazy. It is cool to see how much of it is our own mental barriers that we put up that really hold us back and probably even especially hold us back from even just sharing that “and”, even just the baby steps. When you think about the grand scheme of things, it’s totally in our own heads on that.
Brian: Yeah, you’re absolutely right. It’s just sharing your “and” in the workplace. I think a lot of people are hesitant to even do that because they don’t know what people are going to think of their “and”, if people will support their “and”. What I’ve learned through my training, through other endeavors, the more authentic we can be and the more of ourselves we can bring to the workplace and the more passion we can have, on a day to day basis, and I know that when I do my racings or my training, I’m a much more energized person. I’m firing on all cylinders versus days where I don’t exercise. You don’t want to be around me. I could be a little grumpy.
Brian: The more I’m doing the things I’m passionate about, A, the better I feel and the better I can be in the workplace. People respect the passion. They may never want to run a day in their life, but they say, this person is onto something. I respect whatever they’re doing because they have good energy. They’re vibrating at a high frequency. I’ve seen that among tons of my coworkers who, one might be a flutist, and they like to play the flute on the weekend. That’s awesome. That’s so cool. That’s something that I couldn’t do. Maybe I could. Actually, I could do it, if I wanted to. I don’t think I want to.
John: Right. There you go. There you go. I was going to build you on that one. Yeah, it’s one of those things where, I think, because of growing up in school, and we always made fun of the outlier. We always picked on whatever, especially junior high school. You don’t want to be the odd one because, oh, Lord, it’s going to be a long rest of your life. I feel like we take that mentality out, but now we’re adults, and actually the outliers, it’s kind of cool. It’s, tell me more about that. Or, wow, okay, I don’t want to do that Ironman, but that sounds awesome. Tell me about it. Or maybe I do want to do it, how do you get started?
Brian: Something I’ve seen a lot is that people build themselves around how they perceive others want them to be. They pursue hobbies, they pursue interests that they might not even be interested in, but they think others will respect them more or whatever because of it. Then they start not even liking themselves. They bring worse energy. They become negative people. For that reason, I just think it’s so important to, for those listening, if you haven’t already, just take a step back and say, what do I actually enjoy doing? What actually energizes me? What in my life is depleting me?
I’ve studied the Science of Happiness a bit, John. The more we can do those things that energize us, A, the happier we’re going to be. I don’t know what the purpose of life is. I’m still trying to figure it out. Every time I do these endurance races, I think I get a little bit closer, but I’ll probably never get there. I think it has something to do with happiness. We want to be happy, maybe not sustained happiness, but 10% happier, year over year. I think the more we can be ourselves and, going back to that word, authentic in the workplace, in every single setting, I think the better life is going to be.
John: I agree with you totally. Because it’s like, whose game are we playing? Do the rules matter? Do they make you happy? Do they make you a better person? All that stuff. It’s one of those things that I feel it’s so easy for us to just play someone else’s game by someone else’s rules, and it doesn’t always make us a better person in the end, which, if you’re not happy outside of work, then your at-work is never going to be productive.
Brian: You’re absolutely right. It’s all about running your own race. That’s something that I have to remind myself in every single race I do, where there’s going to be athletes who smoke me every time. I can’t compete with them. Maybe one day I can because humans are limitless, but right now, in my current state, there’s going to be people who are going to beat me. I could compare myself and serve my happiness into the fact that I didn’t do better than them, but it’s not about that. It’s, I’m racing my own race. If I feel like I did my best and, as you said, peaked on race day, you won. It’s all about race your own race, whether that’s in — there are so many analogies between racing and life itself. In the workplace, are you racing your own race just because someone got promoted faster than you, just because someone has different opportunities? Are you showing up every day being your best self? If so, that’s all you can do.
John: That’s so perfect. I love, just in your blog, how you have the type two fun, which is maybe one of my new favorite phrases, easily, of 2021. If you could tell everybody what type two fun is, because a lot of these Ironman stories are giving me type two fun kind of vibes.
Brian: Yes, type two might be for crazy people, and I might be one of those crazy people. Type two fun is the type of fun that, in the moment, it might not necessarily be fun. It might actually be terrible. You might be miserable. The moment ends, you look back, and you’re like, you know what? That was awesome. That was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. I’ve had those moments when I’ve hiked mountains in Colorado, 14 or so. I’ve had those moments on my races where, in a marathon at mile 23, I’m in the most pain of my life. I’m hitting this wall, and I’m like, this is awful. I’ve literally made it to hell. Three miles later, I have the highest high of all time. That’s type two fun because I look back at that, and it’s like, I learned so much about myself, I got so much of that, out of that experience. I’m literally going to sign up for a marathon again tomorrow.
John: Which is great because then it doesn’t have to be fun in the moment. It doesn’t have to be joy in the moment. It doesn’t have to be happy in the moment. It’s sitting around, six months later, telling the story, and it’s like, now that’s fun. It’s laughing about it. It’s like, and then you’ll never believe what happened. That’s the type two fun. That takes a lot of the pressure off of people, of everything doesn’t have to be this world record-breaking type of thing. It’s just whatever it is that brings joy to you. Maybe it’s not joy in the moment, but type two joy, type two fun, six months later. It takes a lot of pressure off of people.
Brian: Yeah. I honestly look at, even the beginning stages of COVID where people were struggling. People were having tough times, and have not been that fun in the moment, but I look back at those stories, the way we were all interacting or not interacting, for that matter, there’s a lot of gems out of that. I would almost say type two fun is a similar mindset to everything happens for a reason, where you find the good in everything that happened. It’s an opportunist mindset.
John: Yeah, I love that man. That’s awesome to hear. Also great words of encouragement, everybody listening, as we bring this in for a landing, of just, yeah, look for the good and share. So many great nuggets in here, Brian. It’s only fair that I turn the tables though, since I so rudely peppered you with questions at the beginning, make you the host. The Brian Dubow podcast is different than Hit of Happiness, totally different. Yeah, so, whatever you’ve got, I’m all yours.
Brian: All right, let’s put you on the spot, John. I know you’re a huge Notre Dame fan, and I also know that you’ve only done a half marathon, not only, but so far, you’re only done a half marathon. I’m going to challenge you right now. Would you rather have to do an Ironman a full Ironman, one year from today, or would you rather experience Notre Dame never having a winning season for the rest of your life?
John: Oh, I’ll do the Ironman. I’ll do the Ironman. I’ll do the Ironman, hands down. That is short-term pain the rest of my life than never having a winning season. That is long-term. That is worse than purgatory. That’s just agony. I would do the Ironman, hands down.
Brian: Okay, I’m going to hold you accountable for that, John.
John: Well, luckily, they’re good.
Brian: That’s true.
John: Right, right.
Brian: All right, next question. Your podcast says What’s Your “And”? Would you rather always be the best at your career and the worst at your “and” or your hobby; or the worst at your career and the best at your hobby?
John: Oh, I think, probably best at my career and worst at my hobby. I think, for everybody, really, that mindset is great because, from interviewing so many people, it’s come to, instead of giving yourself a title, it’s endurance runner. Sometimes people ask your time, and you’re like, well, maybe my time isn’t great, whatever. If you say, I enjoy running marathons, well then, I’m not doing it for your approval, or you’d ask me my time. I’m doing it for me. Even if I’m terrible at it, I enjoy this. Your career is a steady paycheck and benefits and how you have a house and how you make money, so then you can go do the things that you’re terrible at. Yeah, I would definitely be the best at the career and worst at the “and”. That’s an interesting question, for sure.
Brian: Yeah. No, you’re absolutely right. In the career, you have those key performance indicators you’ve got to hit along the way to succeed.
John: Yeah. It’s nice to still have a roof over your head.
Brian: Right, right. You judge your own success in your hobby. I love that.
John: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. I think that that’s how everyone should really look at it. Brian, this has been so much fun. Thank you so much for being a part of What’s Your “And”?
Brian: John, thank you. It was fun for me. Hopefully, we motivated some people to sign up for a half marathon or even a 5K to that.
John: Yeah, just a 5K, and it’s type two fun. It’s type two fun.
Brian: Hopefully some people on this call are like, you know what? Maybe it doesn’t have to be fun in the moment, but let’s do it anyway. Let’s do it.
John: Having you on the show was type one fun. I’m not going to lie. This was type one fun. There we go.
Brian: I’ve had some type one fun too. I’m smiling all ears. Hopefully everyone else is as well. Thank you for having me, John.
John: Absolutely. Everybody, if you want to see some pictures of Brian in action, or maybe connect with him on social media, or check out his podcast, Hit of Happiness, or his blog, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. All the links are there. While you’re on the page, please click that big button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture. Don’t forget to check out my book.
Geraldine is a Business Strategist/Coach & World Traveler
Geraldine Carter, owner of She Thinks Big Coaching, talks about her passion for traveling, how it runs in her family, some of her favorite trips, and how her experiences traveling play a role in her management style!
• Getting into traveling
• Her favorite trips
• Traveling with locals
• Meet them where they are
• Discussing traveling at work
• Wise leaders set the tone at the top
Please take 2 minutes
to do John’s anonymous survey
about Corporate Culture!
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Welcome to Episode 417 of What’s Your “And”? This is John Garrett, and each Wednesday, I interview a professional who, just like me, is known for a hobby or a passion or an interest outside of work. To put it another way, it’s encouraging people to find their “and”, those things above and beyond your technical skills, the things that actually differentiates you when you’re at work.
If you like what the show is about, be sure to check out the book. It’s on Amazon, Indigo, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop, a few other websites. All the links are at whatsyourand.com. If you want this voice to read the book to you, look for What’s Your “And”? on Audible or wherever you get your audio books. The book goes more in depth with the research behind why these outside-of-work passions are so crucial to your corporate culture, and I can’t say how much it means that everyone’s reading it, and now listening to it, and writing such great reviews and, more importantly, changing the cultures where they work because of it.
Please don’t forget to hit subscribe to the podcast, so you don’t miss any of the future episodes. I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week, and this week is no different with my guest, Geraldine Carter. She’s the owner of She Thinks Big Coaching, and now she’s with me here today. Geraldine, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Geraldine: Hi, John. Thank you so much for having me.
John: This is going to be awesome, so much fun. I have my rapid-fire questions, get to know Geraldine right out of the gate. I hope you’re buckled in and ready to go. All right, I’ll start you out with an easy one though. Favorite color. Wow. Okay. I barely know how to spell that. That’s impressive. I like it. All right, how about a least favorite color.
John: Oh, yeah, that’s a very popular least favorite. How about oceans or mountains?
Geraldine: Mountains all the way.
John: Oh, not even close. All right, all right, there you go. How about a favorite actor or actress?
Geraldine: Meryl Streep.
John: Yeah, solid answer. That’s a solid answer. She’s so good in everything.
Geraldine: Yeah. I’m not very original, I mean, on my part, in terms of answers.
John: No, no, but it’s solid. When you’re good, you’re good.
Geraldine: How can you not love her?
John: Pretty much. How about, would you say you’re more of an early bird or a night owl?
Geraldine: Early bird. You won’t find me awake past 9:30, ever.
John: Oh, that’s fantastic. That’s awesome. There you go. That was an easy one. How about when it comes to puzzles, Sudoku or crossword?
Geraldine: Oh, ick, neither. I’m working on a Rubik’s Cube right now, but it’s just sitting on my desk.
John: That works. That’s when you start peeling the stickers off and then putting —
Geraldine: Yeah, I’m a total sticker-peeler.
John: Totally. I’m done. What do you know? That’s awesome. I thought I was the only one that did that. That’s great. Oh, this is a good one, a favorite Disney character.
John: There’s so many now.
Geraldine: Is Anna a Disney character? I can’t remember.
John: I think so. For Frozen?
Geraldine: I’m pretty sure, right?
John: Yeah. Oh, absolutely. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay, very cool. No, that totally counts. How about Star Wars or Star Trek?
Geraldine: Star Wars if I had to.
John: Okay, all right. No, that works. How about your computer though, PC or a Mac?
Geraldine: Yeah. No, I’m a total Mac addict.
Geraldine: 100%, never going back.
John: A little bit of a cult almost, that bubble?
Geraldine: Well, I don’t rub it in unicorn tears or anything, but it’s just so much easier.
John: That’s fantastic. That’s what PC people like me do. That’s where all the unicorn tears go. How about a favorite ice cream flavor? I’m a huge ice cream junkie.
Geraldine: Oh, my gosh, I make ice cream. I actually have my own private label.
John: What?! Oh, that’s so awesome. Yeah, that’s your “and and”. That’s next level. That’s very cool. Do you have a favorite flavor?
Geraldine: Cookies and cream.
John: Oh, okay. I’m a huge fan of chunks in the ice cream. It’s like maximum calories per spoonful to my face.
Geraldine: That’s right, by the pint.
John: Totally. People keep the lid? I’m like, why do you keep the lid?
Geraldine: I know, all the way to the bottom.
John: Right, right. Quitters. How about a favorite movie of all time?
Geraldine: Oh, The Princess Bride, without question.
John: Yeah, solid. Oh, man, that’s hilarious. So funny. So funny. A favorite season, summer, winter, spring or fall.
Geraldine: Winter all year, please.
John: Oh, okay. All right. Winter, mountains, I’m catching on.
Geraldine: I could do without the darkness, but if I could have winter all year, I’d ski all year. That would just be the best.
John: Yeah, Anna from Frozen, all of this is coming together now.
Geraldine: There’s a theme.
John: There you go. Since you’re in the accounting space, balance sheet or income statement.
John: Oh, okay. There you go. How about a favorite number?
Geraldine: Yeah, I was thinking about this one, and I couldn’t decide between 57 or 72.
John: Okay. Is there a reason why?
Geraldine: Well, I don’t know. It’s kind of nerdy. One of them is prime, and one of them is multi-factorial. I really like them both, but it’s totally random.
John: Okay, yeah. So it’s 72 and 50…
Geraldine: When I got my Hotmail address years ago, there were apparently already 56 Geraldines, and they gave me 57, and then the number just kind of stuck around. I don’t know, 72 has just been like this theme in my life. Who knows where these things come from?
John: I like it. No, no, I like it. Very cool. How about books, audio version, e-book or real book?
Geraldine: Hmm, hardcover.
John: Oh, hardcover even. Okay, there you go.
Geraldine: Yeah. I want legit books. I want to hold on to a book.
John: Yeah, something I can throw at somebody if I’m angry.
Geraldine: Including my children. Get away!
John: Right? Paperbacks just don’t do the trick. You can’t slam it on the table and intimidate anyone. Two more. A favorite adult beverage. Oh, nice. Okay, all right. The last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.
Geraldine: My cargo bike. I ride my kids to school. I stick them on the back. They seem fine to me, riding to school.
Geraldine: Yeah. It’s the best.
John: That’s awesome. That’s one of those bikes with the long rack in the back?
Geraldine: Yep, exactly, and it’s got like a little hula hoop around the side so they can hold on and stuff.
John: Okay. Nice.
Geraldine: The best is when I go uphills, and my daughter, she pushes me in the back. I tell her to push me up the hill, and she pushes me.
John: Help you get up. That’s so cool. Yeah, when she grows up, she’s going to tell people like, you know, I’m so strong. I helped my mom push up the hill. That’s very cool. Let’s talk world travels, and you’ve been all over the place. Did you grow up traveling? Or was it something, after got adult money, you were like, let’s do this?
Geraldine: I grew up traveling. It runs in my family. It runs in the female side of the genes on both sides. My dad’s mom was a big traveler back in the early 1900s and everything. My mom’s side, she was born in the South Pacific and French Colonies, and her mom and her aunt were travelers. They saw an ad in the paper in France. They needed hatmakers in the South Pacific. They got on a steamer and went to Vanuatu, used to be the New Hebrides, and had my mom. That’s where my mom was born. She moved back to France and then eventually moved to the US.
John: That’s awesome.
Geraldine: Yeah, so half my family’s over there. We, of course, went back to visit frequently. No grass grows under my mom’s feet, and for a long time, none grew under mine. I just wanted to go everywhere because there’s so many cool things to see.
John: That’s awesome. Are there some favorite places that you’ve been? I’m sure there’s a handful.
Geraldine: Yeah, it’s hard to pin down what’s your favorite kid. It’s for different reasons. Apparently, I like politically complicated places.
Geraldine: Burma just blew my doors off. It was so interesting. Of course, tragic, it’s been really difficult over there, especially recently. Cuba was just wild. I went in 2000 on a French passport, in case anybody from the IRS is listening, or the government. It was legal, in my view. China was just, I couldn’t get over myself. I felt like a little kid who — you don’t realize that as you get older, your sense of discoveries just evaporates over time. When you are little and you first turn over a rock, and there’s a salamander under there. You’re like, oh, my God! You take it running to your mom. You’re like, look, look, look, and she’s like, yeah, whatever, it’s a salamander. Riding my bike around China was like that, all day long, every day. What is that? I would see stuff. I’m like, I don’t even know if that’s — what’s the 20 questions game — I’m like, I don’t even know if that’s something I would eat or if that’s something that I would — is that something I would build a house with? What is that? It was like that all day long. It was just so cool. Not to mention the fact that the map I had, had no key on it because it had been crossed out. I couldn’t tell, when I had it in my hands, if it was upside down. Exactly.
Geraldine: Your listeners couldn’t see, but he just waved his arm in a circle to be like, which way is north on this thing? I can’t tell.
John: I can’t even tell if the letters are upside down.
Geraldine: Yeah, but eventually, I learned to recognize which way was up and down. It was other worldly to be like, I never knew that I wouldn’t be able to find north on a map simply because I couldn’t read the script. It was like that all day long, every day.
John: That’s awesome. It sounds like it’s places that are so different than the US. That’s the thing. It makes you see, oh, wow, not everyone lives like this. I appreciate where I live more now, maybe, a little bit of the things that you take for granted. Or, wow, that’s a cool idea, we should bring that back with us, type of thing.
Geraldine: Yeah, all those things and more.
John: Those are incredible places. I’ve never been to any of those three. I would imagine Cuba’s a bit of a time machine. Yeah?
Geraldine: It is a total time warp. It’s, honestly, like you’ve landed in 1950.
John: Right? The cars, the outfits, the music.
Geraldine: Yeah, oh, my gosh, the music emanates out of houses and out of backyards. It’s just everywhere, everywhere. I went with my mom. Because there are so few people who own cars, many people hitchhike just to get around. Because they’ll say the walls have ears, they don’t want to talk, right? We would pick up hitchhikers, so to speak. I hesitate to call them that because they’re just locals trying to get home. I speak Spanish. I’ve turned around. I’d sit in the passenger seat, and I would talk to them. I’d ask them questions, and I’d tell my mom, as we’re going places. We would just hear the most fascinating stories that you wouldn’t be able to get in any other setting because they won’t share freely, because they just don’t know who’s listening. That was just a wild experience. It was also really interesting. They’re so well-educated, and yet, it’s impoverished. The disconnect between those two things, I haven’t experienced anywhere else. It was a noticeable shift.
John: Wow, that’s really interesting. Yeah, you’re right. When you’re in a country like Cuba, you never know who’s listening, and they trusted you, which is cool. You get to hear the real scoop, how the locals live, which, when you travel, do you typically — I would imagine you’re with the locals, you’re where do regular people go, I’ll see the touristy stuff, too, because you have to, but do you go off grid a little bit?
Geraldine: Yeah, and this was all pre-smartphones, so we were depending on who I was with. Sometimes I was with my mom. We traveled a bunch together. Oftentimes, I travel alone on my bike. The best thing about traveling as a woman alone is you’re not a threat to anyone. You get invited inside all the time to have dinner with families. You get in. Come sleep over, sleep on the couch, or we’ll give you a bed or whatever. I got the royal treatment wherever I went. It was just the best.
John: That’s so funny.
Geraldine: Yeah, I just got to see into lives that I think you wouldn’t get in so many other circumstances.
John: Yeah, you were in a lot of pictures, I bet.
Geraldine: Well, not overly. Most people didn’t have cameras really.
John: Oh, wow. Okay. All right. That’s so crazy. Do you feel like all the traveling and all that, that gives you a skill or a mindset that’s carried over into work, even maybe before the coaching?
Geraldine: Yeah, the thing that always struck me or the thing that struck me most, especially when I was in Asia for, I was there traveling for about six months, there are more than a billion people in India and a billion people in China, and all these different countries have different religions. India is mostly Hindu. China has its own thing going on. I come from a mutt kind of relatively Christian background, and growing up in US, certainly it’s culturally Christian. I hadn’t really ever thought that much about it. When I spent that much time in Asia, I was like, it doesn’t make sense that so many other people could be wrong about what they believe and how they view the world. Because there are just too many different points of view, it doesn’t make sense that so many people could have a point of view that is incorrect. That makes no sense.
Geraldine: Not just religion, just so many parts of life. It just made me a more open and curious person to try and understand how people experience and see things, rather than to try and force what they think through my own lens. If there’s something that I bring to the work that I do now, it’s to just meet people where they are because you have no idea what’s going on. Just meet them where they are. It’s much easier.
John: That’s totally true. Because rather than Americanize them, or, okay, I understand you’ve been doing it this way for generations, but you’re wrong. No, you can’t do that. It’s cool that it’s, well, walk a mile in your shoes and see through your lens. You’re clearly making decisions that you think are best for you. You wouldn’t self-sabotage repeatedly like that. That’s crazy. So there’s a reason you’re doing things.
Geraldine: And what can I learn from this? What can I learn from you? What do you see that I don’t know? There’s a lot that we’re isolated from knowing, despite the internet and everything. There’s a lot that we don’t know. When you live inside the confines of the US and surrounded by giant seas on both sides, there’s a lot that we don’t know has happened.
John: Right. Yeah. No, totally, and especially like the story from their side, what the “news/opinions” that are in their country, versus the news/opinions that are in ours. Yeah. No, that’s so cool. It’s like in your own eyes and ears, and feel it, and sense it. That’s cool that you can take that to your clients now, is meet them where they’re at. I think that applies to really everyone in their career. If you’re leading a team, if you’re leading a whole company, you’ve got people, meet them where they’re at.
Geraldine: Like I said, people have a lot going on in their lives. At the end of the day — another thing that always struck me was that no matter how different we might be, what I saw, time and again, is that people want to spend time with their families and their loved ones, and they want what’s best for their kids. They want their kids to have a better shot at life. People might be being difficult or having a challenging day or challenging time or whatever, but it taught me to always remember that, at the end of the day, we are so much more alike than we are different. If you can just understand what’s going on with people, rather than get frustrated with how they’re being, it just makes interactions so much easier.
John: I love that because we are so much more alike than different. Yet, it’s human nature, I don’t know what, to focus on the differences. It’s like, but what about the 99% sameness, how about that part? No? Okay. So, is the travel something that comes up, or stories from travel, with clients or with work colleagues?
Geraldine: Let’s see. It doesn’t necessarily come up with clients too often because they’re focused on their own journey. Admittedly, it’s been a while. I put my passports down. When I was done traveling, I was done. I came home and put my passport down, and that was it.
John: 15 countries and seven continents, I feel like it’s passports, with an S.
Geraldine: Well, it is passports. I do have two.
John: Oh, yeah, well, the French one as well. So, I guess it’s not as natural for it to come up because you’re not traveling as much now, with the family and stuff.
Geraldine: Yeah, and it’s not really in the context of things. We’re trying to get stuff done. We’re trying to move their businesses forward and get them making transitions in their own work. If we have time to jibber-jabber, sometimes I’ll throw in a story, especially if it’s relevant. I have a few good travel stories that have good messages behind them, so I’ll throw them in if I find an opening.
John: Yeah, because it’s one of those where, yeah, you don’t force it. You’re not shouting it from the rooftops. It’s not anything like that. If it comes up, then why not? Because some people just feel that if it’s not work-related, then it’s not at work. It’s different when you have clients that are paying for time then there’s that, type of thing. They have issues that they need help with and all that, but sometimes, if it comes up, then it’s cool to share because it takes that relationship to a different level.
Geraldine: Yeah, and there’s more to us than just the work that we do. Like you say, when we’re able to share and open up about the other parts of our life and what else we have going on — there’s a reason that there’s a thing called social grease, and having some social grease to lubricate relationships and keep things rolling and not have everything be all work, work, work all the time; just makes things more cohesive. It makes things work better. Relationships, at the end of the day, are what drives business. If you ignore the relationship at the expense of just being all business, money, numbers all day, you won’t get as far as if you can appreciate that you’re actually dealing with a human being who has a life outside of work.
John: That’s so rich right there. Yeah, totally. You’re right. It’s social grease. It’s not technical skills grease.
Geraldine: Yes. Let me grease this conversation with some formulas.
John: Check out this Excel macro I got here. I am so good. It’s so true. It’s so true. How much do you feel like it’s on an organization to create that space to find out the rest of the other sides of the people around you, the dimensions to them? How much is it on just an individual to be like, well, I’ve got this little team, and I’m going to start within this little circle?
Geraldine: Well, I think there’s something to be said for, you can only control so much, but I think wise leaders set the tone at the top. They understand how to get great work out of their employees and build cohesive teams that work well together. I’m just a big believer that everything comes from the top, and if you want your employees to behave a certain way, you’ve got to model it.
John: Yeah, and even the top doesn’t have to be the top top top. It could be, you’re in charge of a department, you’re in charge of a team, you’re in charge of whatever. Your little ecosystem can be the most awesome thing ever.
Geraldine: It’s the local top.
John: Yeah, the local top, there you go. Exactly. Exactly. That’s probably the most important because that’s the person that you interact with.
Geraldine: Yeah, that’s the person you’re looking at.
John: Yeah, exactly.
Geraldine: If you’re just business, business all the time and you’ve got to bring, maybe a personal or family concern to talk about, you feel like there’s no room for that kind of conversation. Those are the things that ding at longevity inside businesses.
John: Amen to that, totally. Because also too, if I feel like I have a somewhat personal relationship or something beyond just title relationship with that person, then I talk to that person more times than — ten times, nine of them are about normal things. The tenth one is telling me I didn’t do something right. Okay. But if the one time you talk to me is the only time you’re telling me, I didn’t — then I’m out. The critical feedback is super critical all of a sudden. The other way, it’s a friend pulling you aside.
Geraldine: The positive stuff needs to vastly outweigh the negative stuff in order for the negative stuff to just be like, okay, cool, got it. I’m on it. I’ll do it better next time.
John: Exactly. It doesn’t sting, and it’s — yeah, you’re right, actually. You’re not as defensive. It’s amazing how much benefits come from…
Geraldine: Under a heat lamp of constant criticism.
John: Yeah. Well, I’ve been there. It’s like, really? I’m not that bad. Come on now. You mess up three times in six months, and that’s the only three times that that person talks to you. It’s like, yeah, you know what? I’m out. Do you have any words of encouragement to anybody listening that might feel like, I’ve got this hobby or passion that has nothing to do with work and no one’s going to care?
Geraldine: Well, it depends on how open you want to be about things. I’m just a general believer that it’s easier to be open about things and go with the flow and pay attention to the signals that you’re getting from the other party about whether or not they’re open to hearing anything.
Geraldine: Right. I’m careful not to foist my own interests on other people who look like their attention wants to be somewhere else. So, that is, pay attention to the person you’re with and read their cues and act accordingly, but I’m a believer that people really like connection. We crave connection. We’ve learned that this year when we, all of a sudden, had it stripped away. Some people are not always the most social creatures, or maybe they’re not the most comfortable. Maybe they’re a little bit shy. Maybe they’re feeling a little bit reserved. Sometimes they just need an opening, and they need somebody to kind of nudge the door open. I like to kind of nudge the door open and see if there’s any reception and put myself out there and just be warm. If somebody picks it up, great. If they don’t, cool.
John: Also great. I love that where so many people are so permission-based where we don’t want to get slapped on the wrist. We don’t want to get yelled at. We don’t want to get whatever. Instead, we just don’t do anything. Then somebody actually goes out and does it and comes back alive. They’re like, wait, what? You’re allowed to do that? Yeah. There was one client that I was working with. They had a couple of different offices, and one office wanted to do this happy hour sort of thing, once a week. So they just did it. About two months later, the other offices found out. They’re like, how come we never did? Well, they just did it. They didn’t ask permission. They didn’t whatever. It was just like, we’re going to do this, and then no one says anything. 99 out of 100 times, that’s what happens. Just go do it. As long as it’s legal and not taboo, then knock yourself out. Cool things happen on the other side of that.
Geraldine: Go do things and get out of your routine because there’s so many cool things out there to do.
John: Yeah, and if not, just go to Burma and hang out for a little bit, or Cuba or China. See what I? Brought it all back.
John: There we go. Yeah, this has been awesome, Geraldine. I feel like it’s only fair that I turn the tables and make this the Geraldine Carter podcast. Thanks for having me on. Well, you do have your own podcast actually. What’s the name of that? So everybody can subscribe to that one too.
Geraldine: Yes, so my podcast is Smart Strategy for CPAs. We do only business strategy. We never talk about tax.
John: Oh, there you go. Excellent. That’s awesome. Well, I know nothing about tax, so I’m glad to be on your show. Thank you so much.
Geraldine: Yeah, I don’t either which is why I host a podcast for CPAs. It makes no sense.
John: Right? That’s awesome, but, yeah, whatever questions you want to ask, I’m all yours.
Geraldine: Yeah, so thanks for having me on your show. I would like to know if you prefer nachos or potato chips. I’m just talking like only a chip.
John: Oh, the corn chip.
Geraldine: Yeah, I’m not talking a tray of nachos with cheese and avocado in that.
John: Got it. Corn chips, potato chips. Potato chips, I’ll go potato chips on that one.
Geraldine: Okay. Beater car or socks with holes.
John: Oh, Lord, that’s… I’ll probably go socks with holes because I can mend those. A beater car is going to get me stranded somewhere and then I’m going to have to walk home with my socks and holes. It’s just going to be terrible all around. Or, yeah, after walking, all my socks would then have holes in them, so then I have both. Yeah, I’ll go socks with holes, easier to fix, easier to fix.
Geraldine: Go back to the potato chips, much easier.
John: Yeah, I’m just going to wear potato chips.
Geraldine: Okay, so you’re in Colorado. I’m in Idaho.
Geraldine: So, Wyoming or Utah?
John: Oh, I’ll go Utah. I just feel like there’s more variety, I guess, maybe. I don’t know. That’s my own naive… I’ve only done a little bit of Wyoming. I’ve done more of Utah. Maybe that’s probably why. I just feel like there’s a little more variety to it, but I can be wrong.
Geraldine: Not quite a square.
John: Yeah, exactly.
Geraldine: More square and less square.
John: Wyoming cut out the corner or Utah would’ve also been square. One of you is going to be not be square, and Utah’s it. That’s how it works out. This has been so much fun, Geraldine. Thanks so much for being a part of What’s Your “And”? It’s awesome.
Geraldine: Thanks, John. Thanks so much for having me on your show.
John: Totally, this has been so much fun. Everybody, if you want to see some pictures of Geraldine from her travels or maybe connect with her on social media or get a link to her podcast, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. Everything’s there. While you’re on the page, please click that big button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture. Don’t forget to check out the book.
Thanks again for subscribing to the podcast on iTunes or whatever app you use and for sharing this with your friends so they get the message that we’re all trying to spread, that who you are is so much more than what you do.
Dan is a Co-Founder & Judoka
Dan de Roulet, Co-Founder of Knowify, LLC., talks about how he discovered his passion for Judo, getting his kids involved with it, and how it has helped him develop resilience in being an entrepreneur running a business!
• Getting into Judo
• What Judo is
• Learning how to fall
• How Judo can be a metaphor for entrepreneurship
• Developing resilience
• Talking about Judo with co-workers
• How executives could play a large role in company culture
Please take 2 minutes
to do John’s anonymous survey
about Corporate Culture!
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Welcome to Episode 415 of What’s Your “And”? This is John Garrett, and each Wednesday, I interview a professional who, just like me, is known for a hobby or a passion or an interest outside of work. To put it another way, it’s encouraging people to find their “and”, those things above and beyond your technical skills, the things that actually differentiate you when you’re at work.
If you like what the show is about, be sure to check out the book. It’s on Amazon, Indigo, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop, a few other websites. All the links are at whatsyourand.com. If you want me to read the book to you, yeah, that’s right, this voice reading the book, look for What’s Your “And”? on Audible or wherever you get your audio books. The book goes more in depth with the research behind why these outside-of-work passions are so crucial to your corporate culture, and I can’t say how much it means that everyone’s reading it and writing such great reviews on Amazon and, more importantly, changing the cultures where they work because of it.
Please don’t forget to hit subscribe so you don’t miss any of the future episodes because I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week, and this week is no different with my guest, Dan de Roulet. He’s the co-founder at Knowify, and he’s with me here today. Dan, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Dan: Thanks, John. Great to be here.
John: I appreciate it. This is going to be so much fun. Get to know Dan on a new level here with my 17 rapid-fire questions. We’ll start out with maybe an easy one, maybe not. Star Wars or Star Trek.
Dan: Oh, definitely Star Wars.
John: Oh, okay. That was an easy one. There you go. How about a favorite day of the week?
John: Yeah, solid, solid answer. How about a computer, PC or a Mac?
Dan: Either one. I like both.
John: Oh, you’re ambidextrous on that. Okay.
John: All right. Impressive. How about puzzles, Sudoku or crossword?
John: Sudoku. Yeah, there you go. How about a suit and tie or jeans and a T-shirt?
Dan: Suit and tie.
Dan: I’m from New York. What can I say?
John: Right. No, I like a good suit too, man. Now it’s so much easier to get the made-to-measure, so you don’t have to look like you got it at Penney’s off the rack. It’s like, all right.
John: Yeah, right. Exactly. How about a favorite color?
Dan: Navy blue.
John: Oh, nice. Okay. How about a least favorite color.
Dan: What is that sort of ugly pinkish beige called? Mauve or.
John: Oh, right.
Dan: You know what I’m going for, right?
John: That’s nasty. You’re right. Yeah. Yeah. No, that totally is. It’s like, why is this a color? Is this an accident? What happened? No, I agree. It’s like the crayon in the box that never gets touched.
Dan: Yeah, right. You walk into your bathroom, and it’s that color. You think, you know what? Maybe I’ll just go outside.
John: There you go. That’s awesome. That’s exactly it. How about a favorite ice cream flavor?
Dan: Cookies and cream.
John: Okay. Yeah, there you go, solid. How about a favorite season, summer, winter, spring or fall?
Dan: In New York, it was always spring and fall, love spring and fall. It wasn’t too hot, love the colors, the burst of flowers and whatnot in the spring, and then the changing leaves in the fall. Now that I’m living in California, most of the seasons are pretty much the same. California season, whatever that one’s called.
John: Right. Right. That’s exactly it. Here’s a good one because California has both, oceans or mountains.
John: Oceans. There you go. How about a favorite actor or actress?
Dan: Meryl Streep.
John: Oh, yeah, very popular answer, and justifiably so. She’s amazing. Yeah, so good. Would you say you’re more of an early bird or a night owl?
Dan: Ever since having kids, it’s become an early bird thing, but that was never the case.
John: Right. It’s not by choice.
Dan: Right, exactly. Yeah, that’s right.
John: I hear you, man. I hear you. How about a favorite adult beverage?
Dan: That’s a good one. I’m really into riojas right now, the red wine?
John: Oh, yeah, riojas are great.
Dan: Yeah. I found really great ones that are actually very fairly priced for the quality, and I think great.
John: Totally. Totally. How about on an airplane, window or aisle seat?
Dan: Well, I’m 6’5”. I guess it really depends a lot on which airline I’m on. In JetBlue, with their extra legroom, window’s fine. It’s great. You lean up against the window. You can relax a bit more. In a lot of the other airlines, the aisle becomes a necessity because we’re cramming in there.
John: Yeah. I’m 6’2”, and anyone taller than me, like you, it’s like, ah. It’s uncomfortable.
Dan: Airline travel and the backseat of Prius is not okay.
John: Right. Right.
Dan: Not okay.
John: Not all. Even the front seat of a Prius, I can imagine. It’s like, man. That’s amazing. How about a favorite number?
Dan: Well, as long as it’s my checking account and they’re going up, I don’t care that much.
John: Right. Right. There you go, any positive number.
Dan: Right, exactly. What actually matters more than, well, I guess that’s not entirely true.
John: Right. Positive.
Dan: growing, right?
John: There you go. All right. How about books, audio version, e-book or real book?
Dan: Still real book.
John: Real book. Yeah, I’m the same. The last one, last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.
Dan: My wife and I got this really cool painting from her parents as a wedding present that was actually done by a well-known artist who attended our wedding who was a friend of the family. It’s really cool when I see it, and every time I see it, it reminds me of the place we got married. It’s very special in that way.
John: That is very cool. That’s really neat. Let’s talk Judo with the kids. Is this just a secret way to be able to chuck them around?
Dan: Yeah, yeah, yeah, abuse them but in.
John: No, of course not. Were you into Judo first and then?
Dan: It’s funny, in college, I studied a lot of Aikido. I did Aikido for five years. Moved out here, and by out here I mean to California, I was looking for something to do with my middle son, John. He’s very physical kid, and I was looking for a martial art. Because I knew I Aikido, I didn’t think it was quite right for him. He was a little too young. I knew about Judo and wanted to give it a shot because I wanted him to do a grappling art. We found this great local school. We went, and he had such a great time. It was really funny because he’d come home, and he’d teach his older brother some of the moves. It was really supposed to be just John’s thing. Right?
Dan: Because, again, as middle child, classic middle child stuff, he needed his own thing. He’s teaching his brother all these moves. His brother thinks it’s really cool because his little brother is throwing him around. He was like, Dad, can I go too? There’s a parenting dilemma. It’s like, oh, I don’t know. I’m going to chat with John, and John said, okay, fine, Henry can come. It’s turned into this family thing, and because I had done enough Aikido that I was able to pick up Judo pretty quickly that we all started doing it together. It was really fun.
John: That’s awesome. What is Judo exactly, for people like me that don’t totally know. Is it kind of wrestling?
Dan: Judo is an Olympic sport, so with the Olympics in Japan, you can certainly watch. I guess you can say it’s somewhat akin to wrestling, in that there’s no punching or kicking, no striking. It’s strictly grappling. The object is just throw your opponent. If you throw them onto their back, you automatically win the match. If you throw them onto their side or your part back, part side, you get half a point. You still have to do the same thing again in order to win. You can also win on the ground by choking them out or having them submit or pitting them. Yeah, there are aspects of wrestling like that. It’s really just about getting into a good position, using strong technique and body mechanics to throw your opponent.
John: Wow. Okay. Which, man, if I was your son, I’d be in heaven. I’m like, wait, I get to just chuck my brother around?
Dan: One of the most important lessons of Judo, and this is also something I got in Aikido because it’s similar in that way, is you learn how to fall, and that aspect of it, so, the throwing, yeah, sure, you’ll enjoy it. You’ll do sport Judo. You’ll compete, and that’s fun. They’re life lessons and great value, too, but I would say that the thing that you’ll actually use in your life is the falling. I can tell you, there was a time when I was skiing, and this guy was coming across a catwalk. He just did the most boneheaded thing. He looked up, saw me and then stopped suddenly.
Dan: Right? It was a total panic. I’m like, oh, crap, I’m going to hit this guy. I went sideways. I let my legs come out from under me, because I knew how to fall, and I just rolled over him. We were both ok because I’m a big guy, and you don’t have to be going that fast for that to end very badly.
John: Exactly. Especially skiing, yeah.
Dan: So, there have been a couple of times in my life. One time also, going over the handlebars of a bike, just, it wasn’t comfortable to land, but I knew how to protect myself. I was able to fall, and it was fine. That’s a skill you use.
John: Yeah. Then you get up and you go, half a point.
Dan: Exactly. Right. Exactly.
John: Right? That’s such a great lesson that you wouldn’t really think of because when you get into it, I’m sure it’s the throwing and the throwing. It’s like, no, no, no. You’re going to get thrown. It’s the landing and learning how to fall.
Dan: They don’t let you get into the throwing until you’ve practiced the falling a fair bit. It makes sense, right?
John: Yeah. Which I would imagine is a skill set for life and work. There are going to be bad days. There are going to be falls.
Dan: Yeah, Judo is like a giant metaphor for entrepreneurship. This guy’s slammed on the ground, over and over and over again. Someone’s promising you you’ll get better.
John: Right. You’re like, I thought the match is supposed to end at some point.
Dan: Yeah, right, exactly. It’s still going. Is it possible to win, or do I just get bombed over and over?
John: First to 99, apparently.
Dan: Yeah, I’m starting minus 97.
John: Yeah, yeah, by halves. Do you feel like any of that translates over to your work or the way that you think about things now that’s maybe a little bit differently?
Dan: I’ve started three businesses. Two are still operating. Obviously, Knowify is doing really well, which is really exciting. As I was alluding to before, the entrepreneurship journey is never smooth. It’s always a struggle. It’s always a fight. I think there are a lot of smart people in the world. There are a lot of folks who have interesting ideas and who might even be able to start to execute on those ideas. I think one of the things that separates people who ultimately succeed as entrepreneurs is just resilience, is just being able to get smacked around, beat up, force yourself to get up and go back and keep going. I think that there are lessons in any sport, but in this specific case in Judo, for a career as an entrepreneur, absolutely. You got slammed on the mat, get back up.
John: Yeah. Right? It’s interesting because at no point in college did anyone tell you, hey, go study Judo because it’ll make you a better entrepreneur. It’s these little things that are accidental byproducts.
Dan: It’s funny you mentioned, I didn’t take any college entrepreneurship classes. I’m aware that there are now entrepreneurship classes in college, which always strikes me as sort of a funny thing, right? The first thing, as you, day one in entrepreneurship class, as you come in, look at the students and be like, you’re all terrible. You have no business being here. You should not. You’re awful. The ones who stick around are like, how dare you say that to me. Of course, I am. I’m better than you. You don’t even know me. I’m going to do it anyway. Those are the ones who should be there, right? Everybody else who marches out after that.
John: Dude, I saved you plenty heartache and anguish.
Dan: Right. Exactly. You need the people who are stubborn and arrogant, not those who are soft and will be washed out that easily.
John: Exactly. I get it a lot with people that come to me. They’re like, hey, should I follow my passion? Should I make it my career? I’m like, no. No. It’s a hobby. It’s an “and”. You can be both. It’s an “and”. Because if you do it and you’re not good at it, I’m the first person you’re going to find to punch in the face. You said I could do this. Then I need to practice falling.
Dan: Yeah. Exactly.
John: If a stranger can talk you out of it, in a conversation that’s like five minutes long.
Dan: You definitely aren’t going to survive the first year.
John: Nope, you’ll never make it. I’m doing you a solid. I’m totally helping you out.
John: That would be hilarious. We should teach a class. First day, you suck. Then why are you here?
John: Right. I think we’d get fired, but it would be awesome.
Dan: It would be the best class those kids have ever taken.
John: Totally, the most effective.
Dan: What was it I was saying about? Never mind.
John: Right. Exactly, exactly. So, the martial arts, is it something that comes up at work? Do you talk about it with colleagues? Or does it come up in conversation on occasion?
Dan: It does come up a little bit. I had a colleague who heard that I was doing it, and he wanted to bring his son to do it also because he thought it sounded fun. He was a little too young, so he’s not quite ready, but it’ll happen. Yeah, we talk about it, and of course like any proud parent, I go around showing the videos of my kids bombing other kids. Check it out.
John: Right. Right. I imagine that that just brings a new level of camaraderie or relationship in the workplace where we’re going to talk about work for sure, but these other things.
Dan: There are some people, it does rarely happen that you have somebody, an employee who really feel strongly that they want to have this wall of separation between their personal life and their work life. They’re there to do their work. Some of those employees are really great, by the way. I’ve had people like that who have been fantastic. You respect that boundary, and it works out okay. I would say, in general, opening up a little bit about your personal life, developing real relationships with the people you work with, that’s a good thing, especially in new businesses that are, we’ve been talking about the entrepreneurship journey. It’s a fight every day.
If you can build the sense that you’re all in this together, that you’re a team and more than just name, that you’re obviously looking to achieve great business objectives, but you’re also doing it because you want to see the person next to you succeed. There’s a lot that can be said about that, about how, if you’re a co-founder or CEO or something, that’s really important to make sure that your people have good equity compensation because that sort of reinforces that message of we’re here together, we’re here to succeed together. To your earlier point, yeah, do I think that talking about your family’s experience with Judo and engaging with somebody at that level, or your people at that level, do I think that helps build your team? Absolutely.
John: Especially, like you said, that entrepreneur journey, when you’re a younger company, we’re going to go through some lows. It’s going to get crazy in here. The more we know each other, and the more we care about each other and have a genuine interest in each other, then the more that we’re going to be able to get through that. That brain science of the norepinephrine and the oxytocin and the, we’re in this type of thing, is cool. Yeah. It’s cool to hear that it’s not just like case study bubble world. It’s actual, something that you’ve experienced, which is awesome. How much do you think it is on the organization to create that atmosphere where it’s, yeah, we share. That’s what we do here. I care, and I want to know. Versus how much is it on an individual to just maybe, from the bottom and their little group, just start sharing?
Dan: Well, let’s be honest. It’s kind of hard for people at the bottom, as you described them, to drive corporate culture. Sure, they can have their groups, they can enjoy their coworkers, they can show little details about their lives, but it’s pretty rare that that would spread and become the defining corporate culture, if it’s not actually also coming from the top. Do I think that team leaders, do I think that senior executives have a very important role to play in defining and establishing and then disseminating the kind of culture that we’re describing, if that’s what they want to see happen? Yeah, absolutely. You can’t just sit around and wait for culture to magically happen. You have to define what you want your company to be and how you want it to feel. I think people talk too much about corporate values. There are lots of reasons for that. Do I think that corporate culture and that kind of thing is something that is very important and ought to be discussed? Yeah.
John: I agree totally. Especially, it’s not just giving it lip service, but it’s actually living it, walking the walk. I feel like so much of us are in a permission-based sort of mentality of, well, I’m not going to do it, unless they tell me I’m allowed to do it, as opposed to ask forgiveness after. Just go do it. One, they’re probably not even going to know. Two, they’ll probably be like, wow, that was awesome. I never even thought of that. Good for you. It’s hilarious. We just wait for permission for that insight. I think it’s great if someone, the leader, whether it’s a manager or whoever is there that can set that tone, makes it even easier. Totally. Do you have any words of encouragement maybe to some people that maybe they have that hobby or that passion, but they feel like it has nothing to do with their job or maybe no one’s going to care type of thing?
Dan: I would say, if it’s a very important thing to you and will help people understand you better, then absolutely, go talk to one of your coworkers about your “and”. I do think it’s true that when people know each other better and know what makes each other tick, it becomes easier to work together, I think, especially really savvy, well, managers, but also coworkers can understand your personality a bit better and either get more out of you or develop deeper, more meaningful work relationships that make any sort of collaborative work easier and more productive. So, I can say, don’t be afraid to share, unless.
John: It’s illegal.
Dan: Unless you shouldn’t. Right. Exactly.
John: Right. Yeah, exactly. Most of us aren’t doing illegal things for fun on the side, but I agree. At the end of the day, business is still humans interacting with humans. Whether you’re on the same team, or you’re with a client, or you’re with a customer or whatever, it’s still that human-to-human connection. That only becomes stronger and better by knowing each other a little bit below the surface level. You don’t have to be creepy about it, but just a little bit.
Dan: I think that’s right. If you know what makes somebody tick, your understanding of that may not arise in ways that you’re even fully aware of, but it will make collaborative work, make the team dynamic easier and better.
John: No, I agree totally. That’s awesome. This has been really fun, but I was so rude at the beginning by peppering you with questions. I feel like we should turn the tables and make this the first episode of The Dan de Roulet podcast. Thanks for having me on. You can ask me whatever you want. I’m all yours. Let it rip and see where this goes.
Dan: Okay. You asked me before, favorite adult beverage. Are you a wine or spirits guy?
John: Yeah, I’m definitely a wine guy. It’s funny because I, for medical issues, didn’t drink for a while, from like 21 to, yeah, a while. Then I would do wine with food. I knew wine a little bit better but, yeah, I didn’t know anything about drinks. My wife would order them all the time for me whenever I would have them. One time I was on my own at a bar, and they didn’t have wine noticeably. I was like, I don’t know what to order. I just said what I say to my wife, vodka and something fruity. Don’t ever say that to a bartender ever. You might get kicked out. It was bad. It was hilarious.
Dan: That’s funny.
John: It was funny.
Dan: I don’t think your podcast listeners can obviously see what I’m seeing, but what’s the gold football helmet in the back? Is that Notre Dame?
John: Yeah, Notre Dame.
Dan: It is Notre Dame.
John: Yeah. I graduated from Notre Dame. That’s actually signed by Brian Kelly, who’s the head coach. I do some work with them for their award show every year, and two of them have been nominated for Emmys, which is pretty awesome. Yeah, it’s a fun little thing that I get to be a part of.
Dan: I’m not sure you know the answer, but was Manti Te’o’s girlfriend real?
John: No, she was not.
Dan: No, she wasn’t. You do know the answer.
John: She was not. Well, I mean, it was a real person.
Dan: She wasn’t his girlfriend.
John: Manti was, he’s such a good, kind person that when you have that kind of soul, I guess, he just, and the hard part was with that is that it wasn’t technically a girlfriend at all, even in his mind, but once the media started saying it, he didn’t correct. That’s where it fell apart. That’s where the problem was. He should have just been like, yo, yo, it’s not a girlfriend. It’s just a person I talk with. That’s it. It’s not at all a girlfriend.
Dan: They say that a lie can get halfway around the world before the truth even gets its shoes on. Right?
John: Totally, totally. Yeah, especially with the media.
Dan: What’s the typewriter about?
John: Oh, the typewriter. Yeah. That’s a Corona typewriter, which maybe you’re not supposed to say out loud after 2020, but it’s a Corona typewriter. My grandfather had it. I have a Royal typewriter over on this side that’s huge and weighs, I don’t know, a billion pounds. The Corona was his sister’s in Brooklyn. They grew up in Brooklyn. It was almost like a laptop. You can put a case over the top of it and carry it almost like a briefcase. When she would do secretary jobs around the city, she could just bring her typewriter to work and work in there. It was a portable style. It’s so old. There’s no number 1 key on it. They use the L for number 1 back in the day. I don’t know why.
Dan: That’s funny.
John: It’s just a cool old typewriter. The one that my grandpa used more is over on this side, just off. I just think they’re neat, just kind of cool.
Dan: All right, last one. The third business I started was actually a biotech business. That’s still going. I’m just curious, if I gave you a magic wand and said you could solve any human health problem, but only one, which human health problem would you solve?
John: Wow, that is deep. Does ignorance count as a human health problem?
Dan: Ignorance. Well, the problem with ignorance is that we always assume the other guy’s ignorant, never us, right?
John: Yeah. No, no.
Dan: That guy over there, I don’t like.
John: Including my own.
Dan: You’re not saying you want to solve ignorance.
John: Well, yeah, a little bit.
Dan: Yeah. Right. Exactly.
John: I mean, 60-40.
Dan: Yeah, right.
John: Yeah, man, that’s hard. That’s so hard because that’s part of the human condition. That’s the double-edged sword of it all is, yeah, at some point.
Dan: When none of us gets out alive, is that what they say?
John: Kind of, yeah. That would be great. Imagine that, if everyone, including me, especially me, then I wouldn’t have to ask dumb questions about Judo and be like, well, is it like wrestling? You’re like, not at all, man. Just watch the Olympics.
Dan: It’s not that far off.
John: A little bit. Yeah, it’s just wrestling with more clothes on. That’s pretty much it. Well, Dan, this has been awesome. I really appreciate you being a part of What’s Your “And”? Thank you so much, man.
Dan: Yeah. No, it’s a pleasure to have joined you.
John: Awesome. Everybody listening, if you want to see some pictures of Dan in action or maybe connect with him on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourands.com. Everything’s there. While you’re on the page, please click that big button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture. Don’t forget to check out the book, also called What’s Your “And”?
Kylie is an Accountant & Interior Designer
Kylie returns to the podcast from episode 203 to talk about her recent projects, turning her hobby into a business of its own, prospecting accounting clients from her interior design business, and much more!
• Getting interior design
• Recent projects
• Testing new accounting technologies with her side business
• Noticing more hobbies being shared
• Focusing on the interior design niche for accounting clients
Please take 2 minutes
to do John’s anonymous survey
about Corporate Culture!
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Welcome to Episode 414 of What’s Your “And”? Follow-Up Friday edition. This is John Garrett, and each Friday I follow up with a guest who had been on the show a few years ago, to hear what’s new with their passions outside of work and also hear how this message might have impacted them since we last talked.
I’m so excited, my book is out. You can order it on Amazon, Indigo, barnesandnoble.com, a few other websites. Check it out at whatsyourand.com. If you want me to read the book to you, that’s right, this voice reading the book, look for What’s Your “And”? on Audible or wherever you get your audio books. Thank you so much to everyone who’s read it so far and been kind enough to leave those really nice Amazon reviews and, more importantly, for changing the cultures where you work because of it.
Please don’t forget to hit subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss any of the future episodes. I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week, and this Follow-Up Friday is no different with my guest, Kylie Parker. She’s the director at Lotus Accountants, and now she’s with me here today. Kylie, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Kylie: Thanks, John, so much for having me. I’m really looking forward to having another chat.
John: From Australia, coming in live. No, but it’s just awesome to have you back on. It’s also been exciting to watch your “and” just flourish since we talked. We’ll get into that in a minute. I have some rapid-fire questions here that I probably should have asked you the first time, but I didn’t. Here we go. This is maybe a tricky one. If you had to choose, Harry Potter or Game of Thrones.
Kylie: Game of Thrones definitely.
John: Game of Thrones. There you go.
Kylie: I actually haven’t read Harry Potter, but I have read and watched Game of Thrones.
John: Oh, okay. That’s next level. Yeah. How about more diamonds or pearls?
Kylie: Ooh, diamonds.
John: Diamonds, okay. You can just hear it in your voice.
Kylie: I’m showing my age.
John: Yeah, yeah, exactly. Right. Very nice. Very nice. How about a favorite TV show of all time?
Kylie: All-time favorite TV show. Oh, interesting. Sopranos is actually what came to mind, which I wouldn’t have thought, but that’s what popped up.
John: That’s a good show, though. That’s a really good show.
Kylie: I like the idea that his son’s now playing him in the movie?
John: Right? Yeah, coming up. Yeah. Yeah. No, that is interesting. How about when it comes to books, audio, real book or Kindle?
Kylie: I’m a real book person. Yeah. I’ve actually listened to my first audio book recently. It was that Kevin Hart one. That’s my first one.
John: Okay. All right. Yeah. Hopefully it was him reading.
Kylie: It was actually, so it was really interesting.
John: He’s got such a unique voice. Yeah, exactly. How about a favorite day of the week?
Kylie: Favorite day. I do like Saturday.
John: Yeah, that’s my favorite too, easily. Yeah, because there’s nothing and then maybe some sports and then, yeah, cartoons when you were a kid, always Saturday, always good. Two more. Since you got the home renovation, home remodeling, all that stuff; more nails or screws?
Kylie: I prefer nails. It’s easier. Just whack it in.
John: That’s one I’ve never asked anybody, and I was excited to bring it out for you.
Kylie: Yeah, I think most people would say that’s my personality too. Just hit it. I don’t actually have the time to do it properly.
John: Kylie, that was a screw. It doesn’t matter, hammer away. That’s funny. The last one, toilet paper roll, over or under.
Kylie: Over, definitely over.
John: Over. Yeah, definitely over.
Kylie: Yeah. In my boys’ bathroom, any would be good. They can do it any way. I don’t care, just put it in there. I talked to them this morning.
John: That’s hilarious. That’s so funny. So, Episode 203, we chatted, and the pictures that you had sent in then were amazing. The ones this time, also amazing. It’s just so cool what you’re doing. How did you get started with that, for people that are new to the show?
Kylie: Yeah. I originally got started through university. I just really did like antique furniture. I think when we spoke last time, I talked about my one artistic talent was painting pansies, which was that folk art back in the day, on bottle green. I’d get old furniture, strip it back, paint it bottle green and then put these pansies on it. My first husband was really tolerant of actually having a house full of bottle green pansies. It was everywhere. It was on dresses and in the lounge room, in the bedroom. I look back now and have a bit of a chuckle.
Kylie: Thankfully my taste has improved. I don’t paint anything anymore. Yeah, leave it to the professionals.
John: That’s awesome. Yeah, and it’s mostly remodeling homes type of thing, from the outside, more?
Kylie: Originally it started as taking something that, adding value. If it was a two-bedroom unit, adding a third bedroom. Then it was a two-bedroom house which we originally just did a basic renovation, new kitchen. I do tend to put laundries into bathrooms, taking your laundry space and converting it into something else. That was when we spoke, was middle of 2019. After our conversation, I had an apartment still in Bondi, and I made the decision to sell it just to release some cash. That enabled me to, I renovated. I moved office. I was in a shared space in a, I don’t know, 20-square-meter office. I’ve taken 180 square meters just around the corner. I fully worked with the builder and the landlord to renovate it.
John: Oh, nice.
Kylie: I also started an attic bedroom for my youngest son. He was in this little boxed area and so we did that. That was the first lockdown. Then I opened a shop. It’s called Lotus Home. That was based on, because I had moved and then I had, at the time, the intention was to have a shared office space downstairs. With COVID and the lockdown, it didn’t have anybody else in, so I turned my boardroom into a homeware shop.
Kylie: Now I’m renovating again. I’m doing the backyard at the moment. As we speak, I was.
John: That’s great.
Kylie: Chatting to the builder as to putting a spa, a fire pit and a barbecue, moving it.
John: That’s awesome. There at the office?
Kylie: No, that’s at home.
John: Oh, at home. Okay. All right.
Kylie: The office is fully done. All that I’m doing in the office is adding gym equipment. I’ve got both my son’s in here. It now has a gym crash mat and weights.
John: Right, keep them busy and do something.
John: Yeah. That’s so cool. It’s got a name now, Lotus Home.
Kylie: I know.
John: Which, when we first chatted, it was a twinkle in your eye, something you like to do a little bit on the side and whatever. Now, it’s got a name. Yeah, that’s really cool.
Kylie: I actually think, yeah, that conversation that we had and articulating in a way that I was like, well, it isn’t just a hobby, it is something that is a bit different. It is my “and”. It’s something that I’m passionate about. I don’t know. Sometimes when you verbalize those ideas and then when an opportunity comes up, you’re more likely to put it into practice because it’s, we talked about it. It was sort of promoted, what I was doing. You really kind of go, actually, yeah, I do have a skill set there that even though it might not be one that was through a traditional route of going to an interior design course, I’ve clearly got something that I like doing. Actually it’s been interesting in having the shop. I’ve got regular customers now. It’s doing things that I like to have, and they all think I’m an interior designer. I always find that funny. That still makes me laugh.
John: Right? That’s awesome. That’s great.
Kylie: Yeah. Then I tell them that I’m an accountant. They go, “Can you do my tax return?” No.
John: Now you’re getting two clients, two for one.
Kylie: I did take on one lady, did her tax return. She was a bit behind, and I thought I’d help her out. Yeah, but I won’t do it again. I’ll leave it to.
John: Yeah, yeah. That’s so encouraging to hear that I accidentally lit a fire that was like, no, wait, this is legit. This isn’t a crazy, weird little side thing. This is a real thing.
Kylie: I am probably the only accountant that can honestly say that they have fully started a new business to make sure they can test accounting technology integrations.
Kylie: It’s their biggest demo ever.
John: Right? Yeah, because it’d be, how do you know this? Well, because I did it myself.
Kylie: I can turn Xero to Cinder to Square. I wanted to, because I’m an accountant, it had to be the cheapest possible, the best payment services, and the ones that linked, and then also, what’s my criteria, yeah, just minimizing all the transaction, the data points as well so that that was cheaper.
John: It sounds like a lot of project you’ve been doing, which is great. Those aren’t quick and easy.
John: It that takes time.
Kylie: Sometimes, I’m a little bit crazy, but if I’m not busy, then.
John: Then trouble.
Kylie: Yeah, then I’m on Twitter way too much. It’s bad enough as it is.
John: Or you’ll start painting daisies again. No, we don’t want that. We don’t need that.
Kylie: There’s an idea. You know what? Next time, follow up in another couple of years, I’ll send you a big daisy.
John: Exactly. That works. All right. Do you feel like people are sharing their hobbies more now, or you’re noticing it more, since we chatted?
Kylie: It’s interesting. I think most people have a hobby lately. Well, there’s a whole lot of things that have come up, I suppose, cooking and baking. You know your friends that have really got into, if you’re going to be able to get into a craft or something different, it’s a really good opportunity to be able to do it over the last couple of years. Yeah, hobbies have changed really, haven’t they, people that like traveling or even outdoor sports or music.
John: Yeah, anything with other people.
Kylie: Yeah, anything with other people. I’m trying to think of some of the ones, I’ve got, it’s probably more school friends actually. Some of them like, say, macrame, people that are doing some really cool.
John: Oh, yeah. Macrame or macrame, yeah. That is cool just seeing people share that.
John: Yeah, I do feel like COVID had a silver lining to it in that it just blew the doors open on who you really are and what you really love to do and what art you have in your walls and just who you are.
Kylie: Yeah, definitely.
John: I feel like more people are sharing that. That’s encouraging to hear that it’s down there too, which is the same. Do you have any words of encouragement to others that are listening that maybe have a hobby they feel like has absolutely nothing to do with their job, like, I don’t know, design work and accounting, which you couldn’t have two more opposite sides of your brain really. Until you get to the math part, then it’s clearly.
Kylie: Yeah. Well, actually, I’ve said a few times that my accounting side is probably killing the creative side of the business because I have the most anal inventory system ever. Everything’s got a SKU code.
John: That’s so good. That’s so good.
Kylie: I think my words of advice would really be around, we’ve got a good opportunity, there’s a lot of things that we’re not doing or a bit of a chance to rethink how we want to live. If we are passionate about something, it doesn’t necessarily have to be something that we take into a business, but also incorporating that into your day-to-day life. I’ve always been quite passionate about niching and having a specialization. For me also, since our talk, I have focused more on attracting clients that are in the interior design business as well.
John: Oh, there you go.
Kylie: I have one of them who, she’s actually just about to release a book. It was interesting because, for her, this is her first book, and because I’ve published the book, Planning Plan B, I was able to help her in just, well, this is the way if you wanted to self-publish. She has a publisher, and this is going to be a really lovely book, but having some of that experience too, enables you to have conversations with your clients because you’ve got a similarity. You’re not just someone that they have to go to, to do a tax return or financial statement. So that has been has been quite interesting, too.
John: Yeah. Plus, the conversations don’t necessarily have to be all work all the time. There’s got to be something that creates that sticky relationship. Otherwise, they’ll go to the accountant down the street next time.
Kylie: Yeah. Well, the other thing that has been really, really interesting, so at Christmastime, Lotus Accountants does happen to be Lotus Home’s probably number one client or customer.
John: That’s awesome.
Kylie: Christmas, I send, you know how you talk to your clients, I send a lot of clients a Lotus Home gift pack, and that went down really, really, really well. A lot of it was around, it’s candles or different stone beads with a lotus charm.
John: Right, your logo.
Kylie: Yeah, yeah. Our year-end is 30th of June. When I had tax planning, I honestly, I’ve been in practice 26, 27 years, and this is the first time I’ve had so many wives, spouses come along to the meetings. They all wanted to come and see the shop.
John: That’s unbelievable.
Kylie: I had them buying candles at a tax planning meeting.
John: Right. That’s so good. That’s great. I mean, why not? That’s a passion of yours. It’s a peek into who Kylie is as a person, and they loved it. That’s what’s cool about it is in all of your years of doing accounting, never once have spouses really come along. This year, it’s a conversation. People are coming. I want to know who this is. I want to meet her. Yeah.
Kylie: Then it’s led to different conversations because they’re there. Some clients, some of the guys that I’ve been looking after their accounts for 14, 15 years, and a lot of younger options traders who, if you know any options traders, but their personalities, they’re high risk-takers, so talking to them about an estate plan.
John: Right, right.
Kylie: Yeah, they’re invincible.
John: I don’t need that one. I’m a gazillionaire.
Kylie: Yeah, it is, exactly. This was the first time, in having their wives come along too, and actually came about by talking about their parents, what’s happening with your parents’ estate plan, and then that sets up. We’ve actually a lot of people now that are going through, putting in place proper wills, power of attorney. It’s interesting how one thing leads to the other, and it’s unexpected as to, yeah, because if you just got the guy in there, your normal client, we don’t tend to have those kind of conversations. It was interesting, all because of candles basically.
John: Yeah, all because of sending a candle.
John: That’s great. I love it. It’s so awesome. Yeah, because at no point in your education or any training or accounting conference did they say, send something that you’re passionate about, to your clients or something, their whatever. It never comes up, and so that’s so cool to hear. I feel like, before we wrap this up, though, since I so rudely peppered you with questions at the beginning, it’s only fair that we turn the tables and make this the first episode of the, we’ll make it the Lotus podcast because we’ve got to keep it on brand. So, thanks for having me on. Whatever you want to ask, I’m all yours.
Kylie: Okay. Well, as you mentioned, so we’re all working from different environments, and for the audience listening, John has a very nicely decorated bookshelf that is very blue and white and has a gold, is that a football is it?
John: Football helmet.
Kylie: Oh, okay.
John: American football.
Kylie: American football. I didn’t know whether it was baseball or football. An antique typewriter and a painting that’s blue and white. Now did you do the painting?
John: My wife did the painting.
Kylie: Your wife, it’s beautiful. Is your wife a bit of an interior designer as well? Because it’s very coordinated behind you.
John: Actually, you know what? I did a lot of that, so thank you.
John: Yeah, I did a lot of that, but she picked up painting during 2020. She actually has had two pieces in gallery shows now, which is pretty awesome. I think she’s lobbying hard to be on the show. We’ll see. We’ll see. Maybe.
Kylie: We really should take a screenshot now to show that background.
John: Right? Go ahead, do it. It’s what Australians do. No, I’m just kidding. No, totally awesome.
Kylie: I do have a rapid, couple of, fire questions. Golf or tennis.
John: Oh, golf.
John: Yeah, because I grew up playing a lot of golf and stuff so, yeah, probably golf.
Kylie: Favorite golfer.
John: Favorite golfer. Wow, that’s a good one. Fuzzy Zoeller is hilarious. He is so funny. He’s just a funny, funny, funny, funny guy. He is a good golfer, but he doesn’t take it super seriously. He’s senior tour now, I think, but I don’t know. Of course. I’m Tiger Woods’ age. At the time, it’s always fun to watch somebody that’s really good just dominate because he was just amazing, as a golfer. As a person, jury’s still out. Fuzzy Zoeller, I think, yeah, he’s just hilarious. He’s just so funny.
Kylie: I used to have Greg Norman as a client.
John: Oh, yeah.
Kylie: We actually came over to Florida to meet him years ago.
John: At the Shark, yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I hope he was a good person.
Kylie: Yeah, he was actually.
John: He seems like it. That’s awesome.
Kylie: One more? Do we have time for one more?
John: Yeah, yeah.
Kylie: Snow or sun.
John: Sun, yeah, sun, for sure. Although in Denver, we get both. That’s why it’s kind of magical. Yeah, I would probably say sun, not super-hot sun but like fall or spring sun because I’m sensitive. Exactly. It’s been so fun, Kylie, catching up with you. Congrats on all the success with Lotus Home and Lotus Accountants. Yeah, it’s just so cool to hear and encouraging to hear what’s going on.
Kylie: Thanks, and congrats on your book.
John: Oh, yeah. Thank you.
Kylie: That’s ok.
John: Yeah, yeah, exactly. Yeah. People are reading it, which is really cool.
Kylie: I was disappointed I didn’t make the cut but, oh, well. You’d have to another one now.
John: There’s another book. There’s another book.
Kylie: No pressure.
John: It’s probably because when we did the audio version, I didn’t want to try and do your voice because I cannot do accents at all. When I did the audio version, they kept trying to get me to do, and I’m like, I know these people. I’m not going to do a voice. I’m just going to do a different John Garrett voice. How does that sound? Because I’m not Australian.
Kylie: Good idea
John: It’s so cool to have you back on. Thanks so much for being a part of this.
Kylie: Thanks, John.
John: Yeah, absolutely. Everybody listening, if you want to see some pictures of Kylie’s projects, or maybe connect with her on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. While you’re on the page, please click that big button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture.
Tim is an Executive & Ultrarunner
Tim Barr talks about how he discovered ultrarunning, why he got into it, and how it has helped shape his perspective when tackling issues at the office! Tim also talks about how his office promotes discussions outside of work among coworkers.
• Getting into ultrarunning
• Taking on challenges in the office
• Show and tell and stand-up nights in the office
• “Connect” meetings
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to do John’s anonymous survey
about Corporate Culture!
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Welcome to Episode 413 of What’s Your “And”? This is John Garrett, and each Wednesday, I interview a professional who, just like me, is known for a hobby or a passion or an interest outside of work. To put it another way, it’s encouraging people to find their “and”, those things above and beyond your technical skills, the things that actually differentiate you when you’re at work.
If you like what the show is about, be sure to check out the book. It’s on Amazon, Indigo, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop, a few other websites. All the links are at whatsyourand.com. If you want me to read the book to you, look for What’s Your “And”? on Audible or wherever you get your audio books. The book goes more in depth with the research behind why these outside-of-work passions are so crucial to corporate culture, and I can’t say how much it means that everyone’s reading it and writing such great reviews on Amazon and, more importantly, changing the cultures where they work because of it.
Please don’t forget to hit subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss any of the future episodes. I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week, and this week is no different with my guest, Tim Barr. He’s a Senior Vice President, Office Practice Leader for CannonDesign in Denver, Colorado, and now he’s with me here today. Tim, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Tim: Thanks for having me on, man.
John: This is going to be so much fun. It was so cool to meet you in the book club, that was awesome, when I crashed it.
Tim: It blew my mind. I came home right away. I’m like, we had book club, and the author showed up. It’s amazing. How often does that happen?
John: No, I love jumping in on book clubs. I’m honored and flattered that people have read the book. The least I can do is jump in and chat with everybody.
Tim: That was really cool.
John: Yeah, absolutely. Several questions I didn’t ask during book club, my rapid-fire. Here we go. Get to know Tim. Star Wars or Star Trek.
Tim: Star Wars.
John: Okay. Yeah, me too. Me too. How about your computer, more of a PC or a Mac?
Tim: PC because I have to be.
John: Right. Okay. All right. Yeah. That’s how work happens usually. How about a favorite movie of all time?
Tim: Point Break.
John: Oh, okay.
Tim: The original.
John: There you go. Yeah.
Tim: Keanu Reeves.
John: Right. Wow. Okay. That’s awesome. Yeah, I was like that came out of nowhere. That is a great movie. Yeah. How about a favorite ice cream flavor? I’m a huge ice cream junkie.
Tim: Peanut butter chocolate.
John: Oh, yeah. That’s always a good mix.
Tim: Super good.
John: How about rain or snow?
Tim: I’ll go with snow.
John: Yeah, me too. I hate rain so much.
Tim: Yeah, it’s depressing.
John: Yeah. It’s like nothing fun, I mean, it’s good for growing things, but do it at night or something when I’m not outside.
Tim: Right. It’s raining right now, and it’s just been one of those days.
John: Yeah, exactly. It’s like, and I got to talk to John, this is just me.
John: Exactly. How about a favorite adult beverage?
Tim: I have transitioned into drinking NAs.
John: Oh, okay.
Tim: Yeah. I found this great company called Athletic Brewing. They brew real beer. There’s no hangover, and I can have four or five and be good to go.
John: And it’s an adult beverage because you can’t just have them as kids.
Tim: Yeah, I can’t just hand them out to my nine-year-olds.
Tim: It’s kind of a new thing for me.
John: Cool, man. No, I love it. That’s awesome. How about a favorite number?
Tim: Any odd number.
John: Oh, okay. All right. Is there a reason?
Tim: Because I’m a little odd.
John: Okay. Right. Actually I should have known that. I should have known that. I love it, man. Okay, how about books, audio version, e-book or real book?
Tim: Audio books.
Tim: I run a lot and and listen to a lot of books.
John: Yeah, you probably, I mean, on those ultra-marathons, you probably put Gone with the Wind twice.
Tim: Yeah it’s done in like a run.
John: Right. Yeah, exactly. How about a favorite Disney character?
Tim: Disney and Star Wars now, right? Maybe the Mandalorian.
John: Oh, okay. Yeah, yeah, totally. I think anything animated or whatever counts for me. How about puzzles, Sudoku or crossword?
John: Crossword. There you go. All right. How about a favorite color?
John: Black. Nice.
Tim: Because it goes with everything.
John: Yeah, it does. You’re right. How about a least favorite color?
Tim: Maybe orange.
Tim: Yeah. I’m a Broncos fan, so I have some orange stuff but.
John: Right, not on purpose. If they decided to change their colors, we wouldn’t cry. We’d be all right.
John: Exactly. Here’s a tricky one, pizza or hamburger.
John: Hamburger. There you go.
John: Loaded up.
John: How about a favorite actor or actress?
Tim: That’s a tricky one. I’m going to go with Robert De Niro.
John: Oh, yeah. Of course. He’s good in everything.
Tim: He’s good in everything.
John: Yeah, he really is, really is. Would you say you’re more of an early bird or a night owl?
Tim: Early bird.
John: Early Bird. Okay.
Tim: Yeah, up early.
John: Yeah. Interesting. All right, two more. How about a least favorite vegetable?
Tim: Probably Brussels sprouts.
John: Oh, yeah.
Tim: I’m still really trying to like these things, but I can’t, quite. I’m like, how much can I fry this and throw it in honey? If you heat your vegetable up that much, it’s not good.
John: Yeah, exactly. This is too much work. Bacon with a little bit of Brussels sprouts, okay, then I’ll eat that. Totally. I didn’t try to fry it up with some honey. That sounds interesting. I’ll maybe give that a go. I don’t know. Maybe not. The last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.
Tim: Favorite thing I have, I think they’re one and the same. I have my first bike when I was a kid, and I restored it. It’s a 1981 Mongoose Motomag BMX. It is awesome. If the house is burning down, if the family was safe, I’d go grab the bike.
John: Right. A Mongoose, man, that is solid.
Tim: It is awesome.
John: Yeah, I was Team Murray. That was the generic Mongoose. Mongoose is amazing, man. That’s awesome. Very cool.
Tim: I think my parents mortgaged the house or something to buy this bike.
John: Right? Good for you, man.
Tim: I still have it. It looks brand new.
John: That’s really cool. Leads into, I guess, ultra running, ultra marathoning, ultra whatever. Anything with the word ultra, and it makes me nervous. Ultra running, how did you get started with that?
Tim: The story is funny because my son was really young, less than a year old, and I was working in Golden. When you have kids, you’re not sleeping, and you’re just trying to do whatever you can to stay fit. I found that I could go out and run South Table Mountain, which is a mountain here in Colorado, and get 45 minutes of running in, and it was probably the best workout I could get in without having to go to the gym and do all that other stuff.
I got into trail running. I had a couple of friends that were into doing longer distance stuff up in the mountains. The ultra-running people were their own thing. I had read Chris McDougall’s Born to Run book. I read Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes. Really cool to read about but it was like zero interest. Miles like that, that’s crazy stuff. I’ll do my 45 minutes. I’m good.
In, I guess it’d be like 2014, I had the opportunity to pace at the Leadville 100. An athlete that I, it was like a friend of a friend, and she needed a pacer. She wanted someone to pace her from mile 50 to mile 75. Further than I’d ever run on trail before, and it’s the infamous Leadville 100 run, which is world-famous, probably one of the bigger 100-mile distance events here in the US. I’m like, yeah, man, I’ll go and just experience it all. So I trained to pace her, and I was like, I don’t know how this is going to go. Hopefully she gets to the top.
John: You don’t even get the T-shirt. You literally didn’t even get, right?
Tim: No. I just went for the experience of it all.
John: Just a dude hanging out in the woods and then a lady comes along. You’re like, hey, I’ll run with you. All right.
Tim: My wife’s all right with it, let’s go.
John: Right. Right.
Tim: Leadville is a magical place. It sits at 10,000 feet above sea level. It’s this really old mining town. There’s a lot of history there. You can kind of feel it as you walk down the streets. The architecture is still super old. There’s just something kind of magical about all the energy at that race. So I picked up Christina, was her name. I picked her up. You go over Hope Pass which is like 12,600 feet. She was really struggling to get up this thing. We got up, and you could just see the world from up there. The sun is going down. I was like, this is amazing. Probably some of the cooler scenery I’d seen out on a trail and just seeing all these athletes out there running. We had a huge adventure getting her to mile 76. She wound up finishing the race.
I got in the car at two in the morning at this station called Outbound. It’s freezing cold. I just sit in the backseat. My wife is there, my friend Seth, my friend Lauren. Julie’s my wife’s name. She looks over at me, and she’s like, how was it? I just had a look in my eyes. She’s like, oh, God, are you serious? I was like, I didn’t say anything. I don’t know. I think you have this thing. I just had this thing of like, this is freaking possible. It didn’t seem so scary. Just watching her come out and do this and watching all these other athletes do it, that kind of turned me onto the sport. The next year, I trained, and I did a couple of 50k’s, which was like 31 miles. I did a 50-miler that summer. Yeah. Then in 2016, I went and did the Leadville 100. That was my first 100 marathon.
John: Congrats, man.
John: That’s very cool. Mostly is it trail running? Is that like just trails that are out in nature, and then they block them off for slowpokes, and you actually run on it? Is that basically the idea?
Tim: Yeah. The trails aren’t really blocked. They’re still open. It’s essentially just trail running. It’s a combination. You don’t run the whole time. They call it 100-mile foot race. You head out from Leadville at 4 am, and you run. You have 30 hours to finish. At 10:00 the next morning, they shoot a shotgun on the main street in Leadville, and the race is over.
John: Whoever is here is here.
Tim: Whoever is here is here. I encourage anybody who’s even, even if you’re not really interested in ultra-running, but just to go up there and volunteer for a weekend. It’s right in our own backyard here in Colorado. It’s pretty fantastic.
John: That’s awesome. 100 mile, is that like from here to Canada and back?
John: We run to the ocean, and then we run New York City. No, but that’s far, man. That’s impressive.
Tim: It is far. Yeah, it’s far. Since then, I’ve ran Leadville twice, I’ve done the Tahoe 100 and a few other 100k events and stuff, which is 62 miles, but your normal gauge just gets shifted. It’s like someone could be training for a 5k, and that’s a big thing for them. It’s awesome. Then they train for a half marathon and then the 5k doesn’t seem like as big a deal. They’re like, I finished this thing. It’s the same thing. I know it sounds crazy, but ultra running is going crazy right now. There are 250-mile events now.
John: Holy cow, man.
John: That’s impressive. You just run 24 hours or something or more?
Tim: Yeah. The 200-milers, you usually have four or five days. It’s still a continuous clock, but there’s a bunch of sleep strategy worked into that. The pros are trying to figure it out because they’re like, how far can I push it without sleeping? They’re hallucinating at the end. It’s like sleep deprivation. They’re seeing things. As of now, I have zero desire to go that far.
John: Right. Right. You said that eight years ago, buddy.
Tim: Never say never, man. Yeah.
John: Yeah, that’s really cool, just to push beyond what you thought was impossible because you were able to see just a little bit and then be like, oh, I could do that. These ultra-athletes are also struggling and working their way through it and at their own pace as well. When I hear 100 miles running, I’m like, what? It’s not. It’s walking some. Some days are bad days. No, that’s cool, though. Do you feel at all, the ultra-running is a skill set that you’ve brought to work, over the years?
Tim: Yeah. There are so many parallels to an event. Some of the stuff I’ve learned about myself, because you’re out there solo a lot and really hurting, I probably made my lowest lows during some of these races. Then something will happen, and you just keep moving forward, one foot in front of the other, and get some nutrition in. Somehow, the wave turns, and you go over the next hill, or the sun comes up or whatever it is. You realize, I was at death’s door, and now I’m fine.
With business, a lot of times, especially this last year was really tough on a lot of people, and it’s been a roller coaster with COVID in the world. We’ve seen recessions in the past too that have really impacted our economy, but the emotion of it all never really got to me because I think, as a leader, the reality that I saw is we were just hit in a low point in the race. We’re going to hit multiple low points. Really, you just put one foot in front of the other, and you just keep going through and make decisions that hopefully are going to help propel us in a direction where we don’t have to DNF the race. The parallels there are really big. I pull from that so much. I have so much mental strength now to deal with adversity and down times that I never had before I started all this.
John: Yeah, because, like you said, it’s just pushing what you thought was the ceiling or the boundary or the whatever, and be like, oh, it’s not even close actually. Or I’ve been through this before, I felt this feeling, and I’m alive. I made it, so we’ll make it too, type of thing.
Tim: I think the other big thing too is a lot of, and I’m a planner myself, but I think it’s Muhammad Ali, he’s just like, everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.
John: Right. Which is a great quote.
Tim: It’s like, yeah, I plan. You always have a race plan. I don’t care. It doesn’t have to be an ultra marathon. I tell that to people all the time. It can be anything, any event you’re training for, something you want to do, but it’s always good to have a plan. It’s always going to change. It’s always going to be a little bit different out there. The weather could be bad. The weather could be good. How are you going to persevere and get through it? Some people want that so scripted out that they’re scared to even start.
John: Yeah, that’s true.
Tim: How do I take the first step? If you want to be a runner, or you’re sitting at home and you’re depressed about your whatever, your weight or your this or your that; really, you have to just lace up your shoes and just go. That’s the beauty of running to me is like it’s just such a purest form of that thing. You don’t have to go out and buy a bike and all this other stuff to be a cyclist.
John: You don’t need a team, uniforms even.
Tim: Just go get a pair of shoes and go running, or go walking or hiking or whatever it is you want to do. It’s a beautiful metaphor for work because there’s a lot of hard decisions that you have to make or initiatives that you want to start. Nothing’s really scripted out. You don’t know how it’s going to end up. It’s like, you know what, let’s just try to start this thing and see what we can learn from it. It definitely plays into work every single day.
John: I love that. That’s awesome. Is this something that comes up at work? Do people know that you just ran half the State, when you come into work on Monday or whatever?
Tim: They do. I think that the trick with running and ultra-running in particular, is just making it relatable. Because it’s the joke, there’s Tim doing his thing, but you’ve got to bring it back into some things that make sense. We’ve got to keep moving this to the low point. Once a month, I send just an update out to the office. Hey, here’s big picture stuff, what’s going on, here’s what we’re seeing I try it. We have a bunch of maxims which are like values at our organization. I usually tie a theme to a particular value. Most of my stories are running stories that I relate back. I’m like, hey, this is what was happening at this point. There’s a healthy respect for stuff that I’m out there doing.
John: Yeah, definitely. It also opens that vacuum for other people to then fill it with their “and”. You’re sharing, and I think it’s cool that as an Office Practice Leader, you’re openly sharing. It’s showing them that, hey, you’re allowed too, as well. It’s not just you giving it lip service and then not doing it. It’s, no, no, I’m actually just going to walk the walk. I think that’s cool.
Tim: Yeah, it’s definitely cool. It doesn’t matter what you’re into. We have some Ironman triathletes in my office. They’re, oh, yeah, I just had this adventure. Really, the whole thing for my running is that I get to see more. The big excuse is that I can go out, see 20, 30 miles of trail or some mountainous area over a weekend that it takes somebody else five days to hike.
John: Yeah, yeah.
Tim: It’s my excuse to just get out and see a lot and have an adventure.
John: And then you’re efficient. I love that. It’s efficiency.
Tim: There’s so much of the world to see. I just need to go out and see it.
John: Listen to the audio book on double speed. I run a trail. I’ve just got things to do. I love that, man. I think that’s awesome. As an example for people in the office, I really like that. That’s cool. Then people know that, actually, this is the norm. We do talk about these things. They come up, and that’s how it goes around here, which I think is cool. Before you got into the ultra-running, was there something else that you would share? Or was this the thing that kind of kicked the door open?
Tim: Yeah, I’ve always, well, not always, but I got into more just traditional endurance sports, a little bit of triathlon, some cycling and stuff like that. Probably, I was in my mid-20s when I started doing that, and it was cool. I discovered this whole community of people that like to ride bikes, as opposed to play golf. They’re like, well, you want to go ride bikes? I’m like, yeah, let’s go ride bikes.
John: Right. Yeah.
Tim: It’s always the sport aspect is I was just so unhealthy, physically, after college that I found endurance sports as a way to get healthier, start just being better about my mind and my body, and bringing that to the work. It’s always been a cool point of conversation with people. People are always curious. How does this all work?
John: Right. Yeah. Because so many people, there’s a demon in our head, or whatever it is, that tells us, don’t share, don’t talk about it, don’t tell anybody that you do anything besides more work when you go home, or whatever the lies are that we tell ourselves. Did that ever cross your brain? Or was it just, well, you asked, so I’m going to tell you?
Tim: Yeah, totally. I think I’ve always looked a little bit younger than I am, and so I think there’s a tendency, when I was getting started in my career in leadership and management and those sort of things, that I just wanted to be professional Tim at the office.
John: Oh, yeah.
Tim: My wife, Julie, she’d make fun of me because she’s like, you have two separate wardrobes. You’ve got your cycling and surfing wardrobe, we were in San Diego at the time, and then your work stuff.
Tim: I was like, well, maybe I should start wearing my Chuck Taylors with my suits.
Tim: She’s like, you should. Just be yourself.
John: I would remember that, that’s for sure.
Tim: So I have. I haven’t worn a pair of dress shoes to work in, I don’t know, 20 years because I’m like, that’s just part of me, but it’s taken a while to embrace that because, I don’t know why. It’s like a weird, like, I’d love to book for that reason because we all have these things that we do. Somebody in my office that paints pastel paintings. I’ve another person that crochets, and they’re like, nobody’s going to care about my crochets. We started doing show-and-tell on Mondays that are stand-up.
Tim: People were like, look at this crochet. Someone brought a baby Yoda, Mandalorian crochet thing that she made for a boyfriend. It was awesome. Awesome.
John: Now she has an order for 20 more for everybody else.
Tim: Can you crochet me a beanie? That would be so rad.
John: Yeah, that is so cool to hear. That’s such a great example. We did show-and-tell in preschool and kindergarten, and then stopped. Why? Now we’re adults, we have all the cool things.
Tim: Totally. Yeah.
John: I love that, man. That’s so cool to hear, the reactions from people.
Tim: COVID had a lot of really positive outcomes in that regard because we’re all virtual and so people can just walk across their house and grab something. Be like, this is meaningful to me, or this is what I’m into. Looking back on it, I should have just been open, just be myself and be authentic the whole time because no one really cares. You’re still professional and do your job. I thought there was some sort of game to be played that didn’t really need to be played.
John: Yeah, you’re not alone, man. You’re not alone. I was sort of there, but I was also too dumb to know. When somebody’s like, hey, so what did you do this weekend? Well, I drove to Springfield, Illinois, and did a comedy show. It’s like, wait, you did what? I’m like, well, you asked. I didn’t know I was supposed to say nothing. Yeah. It’s so cool because that person gets to light up when they’re talking about knitting or crocheting, because I know there’s a huge difference and somebody just flipped their lid. Also too, it’s interesting. Now we have something to talk about and ask about and all that stuff. We’re not in seventh grade anymore where the outlier gets made fun of. Now it’s, celebrate that and shine a light on that. That’s cool to hear that that’s what you’re doing in your office. That’s cool, man.
Tim: It’s really cool. Personally, outside of it all, I’m personally really interested in what people are doing. I’m like, that’s awesome.
John: Right? Tell me more.
Tim: That’s awesome. Yeah.
John: No, I love it, man. I think that’s so great. How much is it on that organization to create that space where this is the thing that we do? Or how much is it on the individual to maybe start in their little small circle?
Tim: I think, as leaders, we can create the space and then the individuals need to put themselves out there and be vulnerable enough to be like, okay, here’s the light into my personal life, and to break down that wall. Because it can be hard, and people are hesitant for a number of reasons. They might have had a bad experience getting too close to somebody at work at some point, and they don’t want to do that again.
I really look at it, from my perspective as a leader, and not all offices are the same as CannonDesign, but we have a stand-up every Monday morning that’s half an hour. We can do anything we want in that half an hour. It’s like, hey, here’s what’s happening in the office. Here’s what’s happening in terms of marketing. We have this thing that we just created a year ago called Connect, and we have a once-a-month Connect meeting. It’s an hour and a half of space that we can do a variety of exercises, bring in guest speakers, whatever we want to do there, and we have a microcosm of that on our Monday morning meetings. We have our five minutes to connect. For a while, everybody put in their favorite country, and then we had Connect trivia. People voted on it. Oh, my god, Jericho went wherever. You get to hear about what other people are doing, or their favorite vacation or whatever it might be. Show-and-tell is like that next progression. I like show-and-tell a lot more. I think it’s way more fun and individualized.
John: No, I love it, man. Those are also perfect examples for people to take with them tomorrow. You can literally do these. These are simple. They’re almost free. I mean, they are actually free. It’s just a little bit of time. As a leader, how much is it okay to take the foot off the pedal? Sure, sometimes there’s really hard work that needs to be done. We’ve got to buckle down, and let’s do this. That’s not every day, five days a week, type of thing.
Tim: Right, and it matters. I got a text from somebody. I went to Grand Canyon this last weekend to do a round-trip with some friends, and I got a text from one of my senior coworkers last night, with some sort of TikTok video. Because we did the rim-to-rim-to-rim run, so we went across, and then we came all the way back. He’s like, hey, I found this TikTok thing, so cool you did that.
John: That’s awesome.
Tim: Not work related at all, but it was like, stuff means something. It’s cool.
John: Yeah. Yeah. Because that’s what lights you up, and so if you’re asking somebody about that thing, then, wow. They get me Tim. They don’t get me senior vice president, office practice leader guy, whatever. No, no. You get me, which is cool.
Tim: I need you to make that introduction next meeting I have.
John: Right. Right.
Tim: There’s two, mister. There’s Vice President guy.
John: Matt Foley from, Chris Farley, SNL, a little bit of like office practice leader guy, living in a van down by the river. That’s awesome. I can totally do that for you. Yeah, so before we wrap this up, though, because this has been so, so good, are there any words of encouragement to others that maybe have a hobby that feel like no one’s going to care because it has nothing to do with my job?
Tim: Yeah, man, I would just say, take the first step. People are interested in you as a human being, first and foremost. It’s hard to put yourself out there, but just take that first step. Put yourself out there, share with somebody, talk to your office leader, and see if you can’t find a space for that. Those would be my things.
John: No, I love that. It’s one of those things that’s simple but not easy, that’s what I found, especially in the work that I’m doing with companies and firms is to help them implement this on the regular. It’s like, wow, and it’s like, well, it’s right there. If you have an idea, then bring it up. Why not? Because they probably haven’t thought about it, and that’s probably why it’s not happening.
Tim: Like what I said about the running thing, don’t wait until the whole thing’s fully baked. Just put your shoes on and head out the door and see what happens. Course-correct. You’re like, hey, this isn’t working. Just course-correct. Do what you’ve got to do.
John: I love that, man. That’s awesome. Well, it’s only fair, since I rudely peppered you with questions at the beginning, that I turn the tables and make this the first episode of the Tim Barr Podcast. I didn’t know it was happening either, but thanks for having me on. I’m all yours.
Tim: Welcome to the Tim Barr podcast.
John: Right. There we go.
Tim: Office Practice Leader, big-time VP something or other.
Tim: So, John, what would you do on Mars for fun?
John: On Mars, I would probably, I don’t know, there’s a big part of me that would like to take the rocks and spell out some random words so then people that are looking at it through a telescope, what it says. Not know that I had done that. I don’t know, the junior high boy in me is very strong. There would be some sort of practical joke or something. I don’t know.
Tim: Like, help me, or something like that.
John: Yeah. Help me. SOS. What? How did that happen?
Tim: All right, Back to the Future or Indiana Jones.
John: Oh, wow. That’s good. I think I’m going to go Back to the Future on that. Just Michael J. Fox is, I don’t know, he’s just so good.
John: I also worked a fair amount in comedy with Tom Wilson, who was Biff, super nice, super cool guy, absolutely hilarious.
Tim: Did you make him walk to your car?
John: No, no. Actually, he has a whole song when he gets on stage. He wrote this song. He plays the guitar as well. All the questions he gets about being in Back to the Future, like what this person’s like. The chorus is, I don’t know. It’s just a movie. He’s like, they’re not real. He’s great.
Tim: Maybe along the same vein then, if you had a time machine, what time would you go visit?
John: Oh, a time machine. Wow. That’s a great question. I don’t know. Maybe Ancient Egypt so I can tell everybody how they built the pyramids. I can come back and be like, it wasn’t aliens, you weirdos. It was whatever. Maybe that. Plus, it’s a cool time. I mean, it was simpler times.
Tim: Maybe. Yeah. Cool, I like it.
John: Yeah, maybe that. I feel like a Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure all of a sudden, where it’s just.
Tim: If you had a time machine
John: Right, right. Exactly, exactly. No, that was really good, man. I’m going to be chewing on that for a while. Yeah, who knows? There are so many different good times.
Tim: Don’t forget to wind your watch.
John: Right. Exactly. Oh, man, what a great movie. Well, this has been so much fun, Tim. Thank you so much, number one, for reading the book, but also for being a part of this. It’s really cool to just shatter the stereotype, and you’re a perfect example for that. Thanks for jumping on.
Tim: Cool, man. Thanks for having me on. It was a lot of fun.
John: Absolutely. Everybody listening, if you want to see some pictures of Tim in action or connect with him on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. All the links and pictures are there. While you’re on the page, please click that big button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture, and don’t forget to check out the book.