Rachel geocaches her way to better business skills
Rachel started geocaching after a friend introduced her to it in college. That’s where you’re in a worldwide scavenger hunt for hidden “treasures” using your GPS. After you find them, you sign or stamp that you were there, put it back for the next person to find, and make note of it online. Unless, of course, it’s your engagement ring – which is the really creative way her husband proposed to her!
In this episode, Rachel and I talk about how geocaching has allowed her to be more persistent and to look at issues at work from different angles. She’s also found it is helpful in making her more creative and keeps the inspiration flowing, which are both ideal when you’re in marketing. At first, she was reluctant to share because she didn’t want it to come across as a distraction. But Rachel began to open up over time, as she got more confident in her work skills and sensing the genuine interest of those around her.
Rachel Hane is a Marketing Specialist at Johnson Lambert in Park Ridge, IL. She’s also been a volunteer with Best Buddies International and a judge at a STEM Expo Science Fair.
She received her Bachelor of Arts, English, Emphasis in Secondary Education degree from Loyola University.
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Hello. This is John Garrett. Welcome to Episode 153 of the Green Apple Podcast where each Wednesday, I interview a professional who just like me is known for a hobby or a passion or interest outside of work making them stand out like a green apple in a boring red apple world because they’re clearly not the stereotype. I’m always so fascinated how we usually try to stand out with our technical expertise. I’m here to shine a light each week on someone who understands that expertise isn’t always earned in degrees and certifications. Sometimes it’s experiences from your passions outside of work that actually make you better at your job.
Really quickly, I’m doing some research. It’s a super short one-minute anonymous survey about Corporate Culture and how the green apple message might apply in your world. If you’ve got just 60 seconds, please go to greenapplepodcast.com. You click on the big green button there. Answer a few quick questions. Again, it’s totally anonymous. I really, really appreciate your help. It will be for the book I’m launching later this year. Thanks again to everyone for subscribing to the shows. You don’t miss any of my cool guests like this week’s Rachel Hane. She’s a marketing manager at Johnson Lambert in Park Ridge, Illinois and was able to take some time to be with me today. Rachel, thanks so much for being with me on the Green Apple Podcast.
Rachel: Thanks for having me. I’ve got to be here.
John: Yeah, absolutely. I remember meeting you at the AIM conference in Portland just a couple of months ago and having a fun time there. I’m excited to have you on the show. I started out with the rapid-fire questions, as you know, before I get on a plane and fly out and meet you and we go geocache some stuff. I’m going to have to go back to my old boy scout days with a compass. But I think that’s a little too old school.
Rachel: Oh, there’s an app for that now.
John: There’s an app for that now. Awesome. Perfect. All right. That’s how old I am. But in my 17 rapid-fire questions, because I imagine it’ll be a little bit of a long day, we’re going to hang out and get to know each other. Here we go. I’ll start you out with something easy. Favourite colour?
John: Blue. Nice. Okay. How about a least favourite colour?
Rachel: Something like pea green or mustard, not a fan.
John: Oh, yeah. Both very good answers. Very good answers. Would you say you’re more heels or flats?
Rachel: Definitely flat. Comfort over style.
John: There you go. All right. All right. How about more of a Sudoku or crossword puzzle?
John: Sudoku. Nice. Okay. How about as a marketing person, I have to ask, do you have a favourite font?
Rachel: Oh, my goodness. I’ll just have to pick. Right now, our new font, Open Sans. It works everywhere.
John: Okay. All right. No, that works. That works. Absolutely. Would you say you’re more of an early bird or a night owl?
Rachel: These days, early bird.
John: Yeah, unfortunately right. Life catches up to us. How about a favourite actor or actress?
Rachel: I think I’ll just go stand by Julia Roberts.
John: Oh, yeah. She’s good in everything. Absolutely. Would you say you’re more Star Wars or Star Trek?
Rachel: Man, that’s a hard choice. For me, I’ll say Star Trek because I’ve definitely been watching Star Trek in the past years.
John: Oh, okay. All right. All right. When it comes to computers, more of a PC or a Mac?
Rachel: I’m in marketing. I have to say Mac.
John: Right. You’ll get kicked out of the club. How about a favourite ice cream flavour?
Rachel: Mint chocolate chip.
John: Ooh, solid answer. That’s really good. Maybe that hard shell on top?
John: How about more cats or dogs?
Rachel: Dogs. I got a little Terrier mix myself.
John: Okay. All right. How about do you have a favourite TV show of all time?
Rachel: Oh, man. Of all time, I’m not sure, but very recently, on Netflix, a TV show called The Travellers.
John: Oh, there you go. All right. Very cool. Very cool. How about when it comes to toilet paper roll — this is very important — over or under?
John: Over. Yeah. Do you have a favourite number?
Rachel: I don’t know. Seven?
John: Okay. There’s a reason at least. That’s good. That’s good. How about when you travel, more planes, trains or automobiles?
Rachel: If I have the time, I think trains are amazing. Plane’s for efficiency, though.
John: All right. Since you’re from Chicago, I have to ask, favourite toppings on a pizza. You can load it up.
Rachel: Oh, man. I’m a Supreme. If we’re going deep dish, it’s got to be everything, some peppers, onions, sausage.
John: Yeah. Deep dishes work that. It’s so good, so good. Last one. Last one. The favourite thing you own or the favourite thing you have?
Rachel: This one made me really think. I got a Dr. Seuss print as a gift when I had lived in Chinatown. It used to hang in the Museum of Science in Chicago. That is definitely the coolest thing I have.
John: That’s really cool. That’s fantastic. Yeah, really fantastic. All right. Now we get into the fun stuff here or the more fun stuff. Yeah. What made you want to get into marketing to begin with?
Rachel: For me, I’ve always really liked the creative challenge of marketing in particular. My realm is digital media. That’s like a lot of cool, creative campaigns around websites, videos, email, social media. That’s where I personally just loved designing and colours. That’s been a just natural merge of both my personal, what I enjoy and what I can do for work.
John: Yeah. No, that’s perfect right because coming to work is actually fun.
John: When you’re not there at Johnson Lambert creatively solving all the digital media solutions and everything, — I don’t know, I’m just throwing out jargon — but when you’re not doing that, what passion or interest outside of work you love to do?
Rachel: Geocaching. It’s a really fun hobby of mine. A friend of mine introduced me to it back when I was in college. I’ve been doing that ever since.
John: That’s fantastic. How did you get introduced? Is it just, “Hey, there’s this thing. We’re going to go do it,” and then, “Come along.”
Rachel: Yeah, basically. Geocaching is essentially a scavenger hunt with hidden treasures or sometimes it’s as simple as a tiny little box or it can be as small as a camera tube. Basically, you go for a treasure hunt. My friend had shown me the very first cache. You had to solve a riddle outside of the Chicago Theatre. Then based on the answer, you’re going to walk that many feet north of the building. Then you would find this hidden key box in the magnetic newspaper. I was like, “It was the coolest thing.” Everybody’s going about their day. You try to be sly so that people don’t know what you’re doing as well. Finding this, basically, magnetic key card within the newspaper box and seeing all the people that’d been there before, I thought it was amazing. I got hooked.
John: Once you find it, you leave it?
Rachel: Yeah. You essentially just sign your name. Some people have very cool stamps or they’ll have a signature or if you just have your screen name, whatever it is that you log it. You log it in person. Then there is a website, just geocaching.com. You can go. You can log it there so that you can keep track of how many caches you’ve seen, the different places you’ve been. There’s different online badges you can get for how many, if you’ve been to a new state, if you’ve been to a new country now, if you did it at an event. Yeah, it’s pretty cool.
John: Yeah. Who’s planting these things?
Rachel: You and me.
Rachel: A few years ago, I planted one myself. Just in this cool park that was over by the hometown I grew up in. The containers can be really creative. This one, I called it Office Supply hodgepodge because I had just these things lying around and has to be waterproof. Some people use fake rocks like if you’ve ever seen a Hidey Hole for a key, like those fake rocks. I’ve seen some that are really cool like an old army box. It’ll just be hidden. Do no harm to the space you’re in, but being cognizant that you also don’t want a million people traipsing your private property. It’s balancing all of that.
John: Yeah. Your worst enemy’s backyard. Why do all these people showing up? What is going on? That’s hilarious. That’s really, really funny. That’s hilarious. That’s really funny. Yeah. Do you have one of the cooler ones or more adventurous ones that you can think of?
Rachel: Yeah, definitely. For myself at least, my favourite personal one, it wasn’t necessarily the geocache itself because it was just an old coffee tin. But in fact, my husband knew that I was obsessed with geocaching. I’d made him do a few when we had been on our travels or visiting family in different states. He actually proposed using geocaching.
John: Oh, wow. Yes. You win. You win all the points. Julia Roberts is in the movie of the geocaching proposal. Wow. That’s fantastic, really cool.
Rachel: I’m sure you’re familiar with Chicago, but there is this beautiful lily pond over by Lincoln Park Zoo.
John: Oh, right.
Rachel: I think it’s the Alfred Colwell lily pool. It’s just got some amazing architecture. It’s just a beautiful area. That’s where the geocache. He had gone there earlier. He’d found apparently several different ones to make sure this one was good. He made me meet him there. It’s funny. I was a little suspicious because he hadn’t often been the one to be like, “Hey, do you want to go geocaching.” Because mostly, I make him do it.
John: You suspect.
Rachel: It was like, “Hmm. You want to go geocaching. Okay.” It was beautiful. He was smart too because I was like afterwards, my head was like, “Oh, my gosh. Did he have the ring in there?” But he had put a beautiful card. It was his message and everything in it. When I was there, I found the box with the card. Then I’m reading this looking at him like, “Wait. What? Wait. What?”
John: That’s awesome. For a minute, you’re like, “This is someone else’s proposal in a geocache? It’s weird. No, wait. It’s me.”
John: That’s fantastic. Wow. That’s a really good one. That’s really cool. Yeah. That’ll be something you’ll never forget for sure. That’s really fantastic. Do you feel the geocaching, is that something that you talk about in the office at all? Do your co-workers know about this?
Rachel: It’s funny. My tight department definitely do. I don’t know that I would say across the firm. Am I the geocaching person? Not necessarily, but definitely in my team. Basically based on my answers to a few of the different questions about me, I enjoy being passionate about more nerdy side of life. I think that kind of conversation helps us bond because we’re all doing the same thing and the same goal. We bond over the silly things that we’re really into and passionate about. That’s helpful.
John: Yeah. Yeah. Why do you think it is that it’s so helpful to actually know these interests of the people around you? Why is it that way?
Rachel: I think especially because we’re in an accounting firm. It’s really helpful to keep creativity and inspiration flowing especially for the marketing department. For us, being able to, whether or not it’s to take a few minutes and discuss something in our personal lives that’s really creative or fun. But that helps us directly in our work in order to create a brand new campaign or if we have to do something new and think outside the box. It helps us to have that bond and have those passions and shared interests.
John: That’s great. Even if someone doesn’t have the same interests, I think it boomerangs back even tighter. I mean you might be the only one that geocaches in the group, but everybody knows it. It’s not like golfing or something where a lot of people do where it’s almost standard.
Rachel: It’s definitely unique enough that once I’ve talked about it. People do remember it. It is funny. I mean it’s cool too because then they’re like, “Wait. I want to go try that.” They go, “Do you think my kids will like them.” Like, “Absolutely.”
John: Right. Yeah. It’s a lot safer than the Pokémon thing. That’s for sure.
Rachel: That’s true.
John: Yeah. Wow. That’s cool too though that your co-workers want to get in on it or at least they’re interested and want to ask questions about it. Because I think our default mode is to not want to share because it doesn’t seem like it’s work related. I don’t know why that is either. I guess just because it seems like it has nothing to do with work so we don’t want to talk about it.
Rachel: I think that that’s totally it. Like if we don’t want to be a distraction or God forbid, we are the different one. I think that’s definitely something as I’ve grown in both my career and personally being way more comfortable sharing that kind of thing. It’s just helped across the board.
John: Yeah. Do you think it comes with time? Or is it confidence in your work skills? What do you think it is that made you want to open up more?
Rachel: I think it’s a combination of both for sure. Definitely being comfortable enough to share something that’s fun and a little silly like geocaching with my co-workers. Then seeing their both genuine interest in me as a person and things like that and also just being able to have that camaraderie really helps.
John: Yeah. Yeah. You see their eyes light up. There’s actually a follow up question. You’re like, “Oh, okay. This is a cool thing.” Then it makes you want to open up more about it. Where if everyone’s like, “What? This is stupid. Get back to work.” Then it’s like, “Oh, well. Never mind.” Unfortunately, there are some cultures that that’s the way. Because some people look at things outside of work as just throwaways or distractions like you said. Do you feel like not only the relationship building side, but is there a skill set that you’re developing from geocaching?
Rachel: I think being able to be persistent definitely helps. Sometimes, for example, I mean it’s basically like a scavenger hunt or treasure hunt. You really have to be persistent, keep looking, look at a problem from different angles that’s beyond compatible with my job. Being able to see what the bigger picture is, being able to then also look at the time details, it’s definitely all encompassing.
John: Yeah. No, I mean absolutely. I mean that’s certainly a muscle group that you’re exercising repeatedly. Then when you get into the office, it’s like, “Oh, wow. I got this.” It’s hitting home runs every day because you’re sharpening that skill outside of work for sure. I love that. I think that’s really fantastic, really fantastic. I guess when you first started, was there something else that you shared? I mean geocaching has been your thing since college. I guess it’s more of just over time, getting more confident and then sharing a little bit and then seeing what people’s reaction is.
Rachel: Yeah. I think it’s definitely the over time because especially at the beginning, of course, being younger and not really knowing what each culture is like or what the firm is like, what their expectations are. I think one of the cool things in particular with our organization, our friend and our community, even if you go to our website, you’ll see that Johnson Lambert has fun photos for all of the partners, principles, senior managers as well. It’s showing the personality behind a very technical skill set. I think that’s super helpful. Knowing that’s welcomed and encouraged has been one of the best things in my opinion about being in this environment.
John: Yeah. No, that’s really fantastic. Yeah. How much do you think it is on the organization, the tone at the top if you will, to create that culture where it’s okay to share? How much is it on the individual to open up and maybe even create that little circle amongst themselves?
Rachel: I think they go hand in hand. If you don’t have support from your colleagues and from your firm to really embrace that unique personality, you’ll see it. But when it is there, you’ll feel it as well. That’ll encourage you even more. Especially from the marketing department side of thing, that’s something we thrive on: being able to be unique and creative and think outside the box. That’s just also on me to make sure that I’m being creative, being open, being unique. Being able to feel that support is so helpful.
John: Yeah. Absolutely. They can create the space, but you can also lead a horse to water but you can’t make a drink some. It is certainly on the individuals to open up. I guess just see that it’s a safe space to do that. I love that. I mean the partner pictures and directors and management of the firm, they have personalities. They’re real people. They don’t do work and go home and do more work. They have things that they like to do. That makes them better at their jobs as well, which is cool. Have you ever run across anyone else who also geocaches?
Rachel: I haven’t, not yet. We’ll get some conversion over here. We’ll make sure we look at a geocaching team at some point. I’ve got to get them going.
John: Wow. That would be crazy. That would be awesome. You know what they should do? They should have clients. If you want to read your management report, you have the geocache. That’ll be hilarious.
Rachel: I don’t know that I’ll be able to sell that but I love it.
John: You gave me and we can sell anything. Ice to an Eskimo, let’s do this.
Rachel: There you go.
John: That’s really funny, really funny. Is there anything specific besides those firm pictures that Johnson Lambert does to help foster this culture?
Rachel: I think it’s definitely the conversations we have and being able to have a community. We have offices nationwide and so because of that, being able to talk to the different offices and having interaction with your colleagues, it’s super imperative. Especially, for example, our department, marketing, we’re part of practice support team. We have those relationships across the nation. That is so helpful being able to have that. You know people’s personalities. You know how they work. You also know the real people based on things you read in both their resumes and on the website. That’s really supported by the firm.
John: Yeah. Yeah. That’s fantastic. I mean especially when you’re working somewhat virtually with people. Yeah. I mean knowing their passions and interests certainly helps you feel like you know them more. That’s great. That’s cool that it’s encouraged. Because so many times I’ve heard, well, there isn’t a charge code for socializing. We don’t get paid to get to know each other. Well, you kind of do. I mean that’s how work gets done, right? You have to know how the team works. That’s cool, very cool. Yeah. Do you have any words of encouragement to others listening that maybe they also geocache and they’re like, “This has nothing to do with my job. Why should I talk about it?”
Rachel: I think, definitely, have the confidence to really try to connect with people. I always try to think of my colleagues as my work family honestly. You’re in it together. Being comfortable enough to share real things about your life and your hobbies is a perfect way to connect. If you don’t have that connection, it’s really hard to feel like you are in that same work family or you’re on that same team. I found it really helps me. You can’t think outside the box unless you have the box. Especially with an accounting firm, I think it’s so helpful because there is the structure in place. But at the same time, being able to differentiate yourselves and show that there’s this technical expertise but in both a creative and very unique way. As marketing, that’s what we do to help position the firm. That’s one of my favourite things. It totally works with something like geocaching, working within the structure to think outside.
John: I couldn’t agree more. I think it’s really fantastic that you got to that place and that you’re at Johnson Lambert as well that encourages that. Now you’re seeing the benefits. It’s really cool to hear about that happening in real life. That’s fantastic, really cool.
Well, yeah. Well, thanks so much, Rachel, for taking time to be with me on the Green Apple Podcast. This was really, really fun.
Rachel: Thank you for having me. I was blessed.
John: That was so great. I loved how Rachel said as “I’ve grown in both my career and personally, being a lot more comfortable sharing my interests has helped me across the board.” It’s true that most of us want to be really confident in our abilities at work before we feel like sharing. But as Rachel found out, it’s the geocaching that has helped her connect more.
If you like to see some pictures of Rachel’s geocaching adventures and connect with her on social media, be sure to go to greenapplepodcast.com. While you’re on the page, please click that big green button and do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture. Thanks again for subscribing to the show and for sharing this with your friends so they get the message that we’re all trying to spread which is to go out and be a green apple.