Laura cooks and does marketing for accounting firms
Laura was drawn to marketing at an early age, but found a perfect fit as a marketer for accounting firms. She also found a passion in cooking simply through a love for food. She wanted to eat healthier after graduating from college, so she started to learn more about preparing her own meals from scratch. Now she jokes that her goal is to break people’s diets by bringing homemade sweets to the office.
In this episode, Laura talks about her path to marketing for accounting firms, discovering her love for cooking, and how food can be a universal topic of discussion and passion with co-workers at the office. It’s a great way to get a conversation started with someone.
Laura Metz is the Marketing & Communications Manager for Moore Stephens North America. She is responsible for the association’s brand and marketing efforts, as well as internal and external communications and business development initiatives. Prior to joining MSNA, she was a Marketing Supervisor for Brown Smith Wallace.
Laura received her Bachelor of Journalism degree from the University of Missouri.
• Why Laura got into marketing
• How she found a place in marketing for accounting firms
• How food is universal and can be applied to what she does as a marketer
• How Laura’s passion for cooking is less of a talk and more of a show in the office
• Getting comfortable with sharing her passion in the office
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Hello. This is John Garrett. Welcome to Episode 165 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 an interest outside of work, something that you would think has nothing to do with their job but it actually makes them better at what they do. It also makes them stand out like a green apple in a stereotypical red apple world.
Really quickly, I’m doing some research. It’s a super short one-minute anonymous survey about corporate culture in the future of professionalism and how the green apple message might apply in your world. If you’ve got just 60 seconds, please head to greenapplepodcast.com, click that big green button there and answer a few quick questions. Again, it’s totally anonymous and I really appreciate the help for the research for the book that I’m writing. It’ll be out early part of next year.
Thanks so much to everyone for subscribing to the show so you don’t miss any of the cool guests, like this week’s Laura Metz. She’s the Marketing and Communications Manager at Moore Stephens North America in Kansas City, Missouri. She’s with me here today.
Laura, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on the Green Apple Podcast.
Laura: Thank you for having me.
John: I’m so excited after meeting you in Portland at the AAM Summit, Association for Accounting Marketers. It was so fun. I’m so excited to have you on. Anybody that likes to cook and bake is a huge fan of mine.
Laura: Okay, it’s lunch time. Here we go.
John: No, absolutely. Before I get on a plane and fly to Minnesota and you show me how to bake properly, I have my 17 rapid fire questions because I assume that it’s going to take a little bit of time. There’s going to be flour flying everywhere.
Here we go. I’ll start you out with an easy one. Do you have a favorite color?
John: Green, okay. Pretty solid. How about a least favorite color?
Laura: Probably red. It clashes with my hair.
John: That’s awesome. That’s an excellent way to pick. That’s hilarious. How about when it comes to reading? Do you prefer a Kindle or real books?
Laura: Real books. Oh, yeah.
John: Yeah, absolutely. How about puzzles? Sudoku or crossword?
Laura: Oh, Sudoku or KenKen.
John: KenKen, look at you go the next level. All right. There you go. How about a favorite band or musician?
Laura: Oh, I really like the band, Fun. I’ve seen them live a couple of times. They put on a great show. I really like them. They’re high energy.
John: Yeah, absolutely. How about more Star Wars or Star Trek?
Laura: Oh, Star Wars. My fiancé would kill me if I said Star Trek.
John: How about when it comes to computers? More PC or Mac?
Laura: Mac personality but I live in a PC world so probably PC at this point.
John: Okay, all right. When it comes to your mouse, do you prefer left-click or right-click?
John: Left-click. Making decisions, get it done. How about do you have a favorite animal? Any animal at all?
John: Hippos. Nice.
Laura: They are to coolest animals. They’re terrifying. I love them.
John: Yeah. They will shred you. But they look like they’re big and soft and slow. Then yeah, you make fun of them. How about do you have a least favorite vegetable?
Laura: Lima beans.
John: Oh, that’s a good answer.
Laura: I truly don’t know how you make lima beans so that they taste good.
John: Yeah, I don’t even know. You just drown them in some kind of gravy or something?
Laura: Butter or something, yeah. Bake it? I don’t know.
John: Right. Being in marketing, I have to ask you, do you have a favorite font?
Laura: I’ve been on a Calibri kick lately. But I’ve got a Helvetica heart.
John: All right. I hear you. This is an important one. When it comes to a toilet paper roll, more over or under?
Laura: Over. I don’t know why under is a thing.
John: You shouldn’t even be allowed to do that.
John: That’s awesome. That’s very funny. When it comes to marketing, do you prefer digital or print?
Laura: Oh, digital. I’d like to be able to scan and then read more at my leisure but yeah, I’m a digital person.
John: Right, there you go. All right. How about more heels or flats?
John: Also, I can’t believe that was a question, right?
Laura: Yeah. Definitely, flats.
John: Definitely, flats. All right. We’ve got three more. Are you more of an early bird or a night owl?
Laura: I get more done in the morning but I can’t seem to get up so I’m a night owl.
John: That’s so great and so honest. I absolutely love it. Do you have a favorite actor or actress?
Laura: I really like Emma Stone. I mean she’s in my generation and I like that she’s done comedy and drama and musicals. I like that.
John: Yeah, and her lip sync battles on Fallon are classic.
Laura: Oh, my god.
John: Yeah, she’s so good.
Laura: It made me want to listen to Blues Traveler more which I think that’s the only time anyone has ever said that.
John: In the last 20 years, that’s for sure. The last one. The favorite thing you own or the favorite thing you have.
Laura: This also just has to do with cooking and baking. My grandmother actually passed away recently. But in her passing, I got one of her old cook books. It’s extremely outdated. It’s called The Way to a Man’s Heart. It discussed feeding your husband and kids. But it’s from the 1940s. She wrote her maiden name in it. It’s a connection. The recipes are all fantastic. They’re tried and true. There’s nothing fancy about them. They’re not low-calorie. They’re solid. They’re good recipes. That’s definitely one of my favorite things.
John: That’s really cool and especially to know that your grandmother used it so much especially to feed your parents or your grandparents, you know what I mean? Your grandfather, everything, that’s really cool.
That leads me into asking you just, what made you want to get into marketing in the first place but especially marketing at an accounting firm?
Laura: The marketing side of things, the TV shows I liked, the books I read, the people that I looked up to were in advertising or in marketing. We’re out there. They were the idea people. They were the ones that got to be creative, and got to be at the table and take the problems people had and found ways to solve them.
I loved that from the time I was little. From the time I decided that no, I could not be a singer and no, I cannot be an astronaut. Those were my two other options in life.
John: Right, or sing along the moon.
Laura: Yes, exactly.
John: There you go.
Laura: I mean honestly give Elon Musk ten years, and I think we’re pretty close. But no, all the people that I really looked up to, they were smart and they were quick, and they were witty. It was all these things that marketing really emphasized that.
I went to the University of Missouri. I graduated with a bachelor of journalism. I graduated around the time when there were no jobs. I graduated in 2010. I spent a year being a nanny for triplets and in that time, got some real world experience of patience and juggling and all these different aspects that I never thought would apply to an actual professional position. But then I moved to St. Louis from Kansas City and I wound up in a St. Louis-based accounting firm, Brown Smith Wallace.
At that point, I wasn’t looking for a job in accounting. But this job really just checked all the boxes of what I was looking for in a career. One of those things was being around passionate people. There’s a lot of different areas where especially in marketing, when you’re dealing with marketing, people come to you when they are excited about something, when they want to share it and that’s what the marketer’s job is.
To be around the people in the accounting industry, some people might seem quiet but they love what they do and they could talk about it for days. Being in that atmosphere and being able to kind of — there was some thinking outside the box but really getting the most of these professionals, and once they started talking, I mean it was a different experience that I didn’t expect to fall into, but as a marketer, it was a really great experience and a great way to get the ball rolling for me.
John: Yeah, because I mean that’s the thing that I’m always trying to fight is just the stereotypes that people have of professions. Marketing people are all just really big into colors and don’t know anything or can’t add anything to save their lives, you know, the stereotype. Then accountants are just nerds that do work and go home and do more work. All of a sudden, you get in there and you’re like wow, you guys actually have personalities. This is amazing.
Laura: Yes. Sometimes, it’s the oil and water. It’s the numbers and the words. There are times where if one more person told me to make something pretty, I was going to lose my mind because it’s a little bit patronizing but I understand what they’re trying to say.
Yeah, I think discovering what aspects of different professions, the accounting profession especially that draws people to it, I mean just discovering, that was really helpful in how I define what I do and then growing it.
John: That’s fantastic. Do you feel like the cooking and baking at all applies to the work that you do at Moore Stephens?
Laura: Honestly, I do. With Moore Stephens, we have about 43 different members throughout America, Canada, and Mexico. There’s a lot of different firm cultures, geographic cultures, different firm sizes that we have but I mean, food is universal.
Also, I mean just the food aspect in general, people are so excited to talk about the food in their area and no matter what city you go to. If you ask, where’s a good place to eat or what’s a good staple in your city. Oh, people get excited and they share with you their favorite restaurants, their favorite recipes, their favorite things to eat, their guilty pleasures and that, I feel like, is just such a great way to get that conversation starting and taking someone out to lunch. People like to eat.
It really does help break down some of those barriers and just realize that there’s a lot that we all have in common and also, there’s opportunities to learn from everyone.
John: Right, absolutely. I would imagine that creating marketing materials for an accounting firm is somewhat similar to baking something or cooking something. I mean, with all these different ingredients that you have to put in and create this delicious masterpiece that everybody likes.
Laura: Definitely. There’s a French culinary term, “Mise en place” which means, “Everything in its place.” That’s the idea of having everything ready and at hand as you move forward. Honestly, the more I’ve delved into different cooking methods and learning more things, I’ve discovered that that is how I apply that to my job so much in that I truly just make sure that before I start anything, I know the steps I’m going to take, I don’t know how it’s going to end up but I know the steps I’m going to take, I have questions answered.
I know where I’m going. That’s not always easy in marketing or accounting because there’s a million different ways a single idea can go but knowing how to prepare or change and adjust along the way, I mean I’ve really been able to incorporate that into what we do and then that helps with any curve balls that come because then you have everything available, easily accessible so that you’re ready really to turn and shape with what comes.
John: I love that. I guess one thing that I kind of glossed over, but how did you get into loving baking and cooking so much? I like cooking just because I like eating. I mean that’s how I got into it but I’m not really that great at it.
Laura: You know what? That’s actually how I got into it was I like eating. Post college, I was trying to eat better. I was learning to cook, learning about food, learning how to get what I needed nutrient-wise while kind of tricking me into thinking it was something I wanted. But since then, it’s evened out, some healthier meals without completely limiting myself and the joys of butter and all that.
But I love cook books. I love how they — they really drive the narrative of the meals and the treats I make. Also, it’s a guilty pleasure of mine to just — my goal is to break people’s diets completely.
John: That’s so great. “Oh, you’re on a diet? Challenge accepted.”
Laura: I mean like that’s extremely rude but I secretly really like it.
John: I’m the worst person to be around because somebody would be like, “Oh, should we get ice cream?” I’m like, “Yes!” They’re like, “You’re supposed to say no, John.” I’m like, “It’s ice cream. Are you an ISIS? Why would you say no to ice cream? Are you a terrorist? Of course, everyone should say yes to ice cream.”
Laura: Have people said no in the past?
John: Apparently, I mean if you know someone that’s trying not to. Well, then don’t ask. Why did you ask me?
Laura: Exactly. If people ask, they want to go. But I thoroughly enjoy the fact that there’s consistency with it. There’s a movie, Julie & Julia, about Julia Child. But there’s a line from it that I love and I think about this all the time where it’s, “I love that after a day when nothing is sure, you can come home and absolutely know that if you add egg yolks to chocolate and sugar and milk, it will get thick. It’s such a comfort.”
I mean that’s something where like if everything else is wrong, if you do things in certain steps, you will get what you’re trying for. I love that that’s consistent with baking and cooking if you take the time to really truly follow the steps and pay attention, you will get what you’re trying for.
John: That’s really great, yeah. Because everything does have a method to the madness and it applies to when you’re at work as well and even part of that like you said is adjusting along the way but being prepared for that so you’re not blindsided.
Do you have any cooler more rewarding moments that you can think of from your cooking and baking experiences?
Laura: Let’s see. Two of my sisters have gotten married in the last couple of years. There’s been a lot of different wedding showers and baby showers and opportunities to kind of bake baker things and share those. There was a cake recently that, I’m proud I knew when to stop. I can’t decorate a cake to save my life but I can cook a cake.
I made this three-layered mimosa cake. It had champagne in it, it had orange juice in it, and it looked beautiful. It was one of those moments of — and this is a wedding shower so I casually go over to groups of people and take myself out of the equation like, “Hey, did you guys try that cake over there?” I haven’t tried it yet. I don’t even know. I mean does it look good? Do you know when they bought it? Did they have this place catered?
John: Did the Cake Boss make that or was it somebody from TV that could make this?
Laura: Is the Barefoot Contessa here? I didn’t see her. As with everything, if there’s someone else that can teach you along the way that helps — I took some classes in the past to learn new techniques and tricks. They asked us what we wanted to make and so I mentioned, I would like to do something with the blowtorch because I’ve never done that before.
Of course, we had a firefighter in our group who gave me a sideways look but I was like, “No, no. I’ll be safe. I promise.” I’m not like, “Oh, fire.” But the next class, we did Baked Alaska. That’s something that I don’t know if I would have ever tried on my own but I got to wield the torch and I’m very hands-on when it comes to learning.
To be able to speak up and ask to learn something with help and guidance was important to me. Honestly, it felt pretty good to light up the meringue.
John: Yeah, good for you.
Laura: That was really cool.
John: Yeah, that’s really cool. That’s awesome. Is this something you’d talk about at work? Do people, clients, or co-workers I guess mostly, do they know about the baking and cooking passion?
Laura: Yeah. Honestly, it’s less of a talk and more of a show. One of the really kind of unique things about the accounting world is there’s always a busy season. There’s obviously the well-known tax busy season. But I mean all the other different consulting areas, audit, the benefit plans, there’s just so many different cycles. There’s always someone in the busy season which means there’s always someone with their eyes out for something sweet or a treat.
I really got the opportunity to try new things and bring them in and share them with my co-workers and share stuff. A lot of people are at least interested or everyone has to cook at some point in their life whether it’s in the microwave or a three-course meal. Being able to share different tips or ask questions or say, “Oh, I’ve been needing to try that.” Start conversations that way.
You realize that there’s different people at different levels of success in trying not only like cooking and baking but just different things that they’re doing on their own that it kind of starts that conversation of, “How do you spend your time? What do you do in your free time? How do you live your life outside the office?” It really helps get those conversations started.
John: That’s fantastic. I love that. I loved how you said people are at different levels of cooking skills because everyone needs to cook or you just give it up altogether. There was a woman that I just met recently at a firm event that I was speaking to and she said, “My passion is watching cooking shows. I don’t cook at all. I just watch the show.” That’s great.
Laura: I love that. That’s people that sit down and watch a football game. Why wouldn’t you? I’m not going to go play football but I’m going to watch it.
John: Yeah. That’s absolutely true. I love how you’re able to show more than tell. Here are some sweets, here are some things that I made and bring them in and share with everybody. I think that’s really fantastic that that really opens up that conversation.
Have you always been open like that? Have you always been bringing in treats?
Laura: No. I mean actually, it took a little bit. I think at my old firm when I was really getting started outside of school, it took a little bit to kind of get into it. I think one of the hurdles at least that kind of was in the way was just the fact that entering the work place after college as a millennial, which side note, I hate the phrase millennial, I hate that word. I think it’s a scapegoat.
John: I prefer to call them kids. No, I’m just joking. I’m totally kidding.
Laura: All of us are just taking over the workspace —
John: Oh, the whippersnappers.
Laura: We have our bean bags and standing desks and all that stuff. Honestly, entering the work place as a millennial, we’re kind of a generation that were told put your head down, spin your wheels, work your life away, and that’s really the only way to show that you’re serious about what you do. Not that I personally ever really felt that pressure necessarily but it was, from the standpoint of, especially being around the marketing world of if you don’t put in a certain number of hours, you’re not doing the job right.
It’s something where if you’re showing that you’re doing something outside of work, it’s kind of like well, where was that energy yesterday? It’s very much you know, am I doing enough in the office to be sharing some of these things with my co-workers? I truly do feel that as I got a little bit more experienced in my role and I think I would be the same way in most other industries but the accounting industry especially just with — theirs has such an intense work ethic associated with it.
There was a time where it was a little harder to bring it up and start introducing my hobbies and stuff outside the office but especially because when you’re in college, everyone’s on the same path or roughly the same path. You’re in there. Soon as graduation hits, everyone finds different degrees of success for different priorities at different paces. I think in that regard, people finding what they enjoy doing and what they do well, that happens at different paces and things.
I never felt that I couldn’t share those things but I was kind of at the point where I was like maybe I’ll wait until I get a little better before I inflicted this on other people.
John: Yeah, because it’s mostly in our heads, right?
John: Because I mean it’s not like a mandate type of a thing. It’s always in our own heads. The research that I’m doing, a lot of people have commented that well, if it doesn’t have a charge code, we shouldn’t do it or we don’t get paid to socialize. It’s like well, who told you that? Is it written in the book? Who has ever told you that? No one has ever told you that. That’s crazy.
But it’s something that, for some reason, we naturally default to, asking for permission rather than whatever the phrase is — forgiveness, there you go. You should host the show. But yeah, but I mean everyone’s always asking for permission beforehand instead of just doing it.
What was it like that first time when you brought in some sweets?
Laura: I think I threw people off but also, I think I was surprised at how many people were on a “diet.”
John: And you just busted all of them. Yes!
Laura: The first time I ever brought something in, it was almost like, “Well, that’s different.” And also, that’s kind of rude. That’s kind of inconsiderate. Obviously, not in a mean way. Just one of those ways of like, “I’ll guess I’ll try even though I’m not supposed to.”
John: And then four later.
Laura: But also, that was within my marketing team. But then branching out and sharing it outside with the accountants in the wild then that was also an opportunity to branch out and go outside. I think that oftentimes, one of the issues is the different segments within like at least the accounting industry.
One of the benefits I experienced with my role at Moore Stephens is that my role is to work alongside of very wide variety of professionals across our firms. However, in my old position, there were very segmented and siloed areas of well, this is the auditors, this is the tax professionals, this is the valuation experts.
I mean so everyone has their different segment whereas, I love my position right now because I’m really at the opportunity of the barriers are broken down a bit more because we’re looking for more opportunities to bring everyone together as opposed to just the different industries or the different focuses of people because there’s so many different opportunities once you break down those walls. I’m not saying big goods could change the world, but I mean just go with me on it.
John: You’d be hard-pressed to argue that point because that makes complete sense to me. If we can bring audit and tax together then I mean god bless. Send it to the Middle East. Let’s just do this.
John: No, I think that’s fantastic. I love how for you, you saw that transformation and even when you’re in it, you were able to recognize that hey, it wasn’t just in my own head and how cool and rewarding it was when you started. Now, you’re not stopping. I mean you’re on fire. The rewards are there.
You’re breaking on barriers, you’re creating relationships that I imagine, overnight, were completely different now from you know, just last week we were just more of the marketing person and then now, it’s more of the marketing person that makes amazing brownies or whatever it was. That relationship translates to better work hours in the time that you’re there. I think that’s really cool.
I guess do you have any words of encouragement to people that are listening that maybe think that my hobby or passion doesn’t matter or it has nothing to do with what my job is?
Laura: I mean honestly, I would just say passion is contagious. I think hearing people talk about what they love to do is powerful. It’s something that I gain respect for people when I learn more about what drives them beyond the work place because there’s a lot of things in life that if you have to tell someone then you’re not doing it right. One of my favorite sayings is if you have to tell someone you’re a lady, you’re not a lady.
John: That’s awesome.
Laura: But I feel like that’s a mindset with some people where it’s like well, if I have to tell you that I’m a runner, that I’m good at baking or that I’m a photographer then I’m not doing it well enough. You should know. You should just know about me. But it’s like you know what? There’s so much beyond the cubicle walls and stuff that has no opportunity to be presented in a way that shows your passion and the fire that you have for it. I would say passion is truly contagious and it really will change how people perceive your drive especially just beyond the work place. Share it.
John: Oh, that’s so fantastic, Laura. I couldn’t agree more. But before I bring it in for a landing, sometimes the guests like it when I could turn the tables because I rapid fire questioned you right out of the gate. It’s only fair that I allow you to ask me some questions if you’d like.
We’ll fire this thing up and let you give it a whirl. Whenever you’re ready.
Laura: Awesome. As I mentioned before, I’m not wild about the world millennials. We’re kind of taking over. If you’re not paying attention, it’s happening.
One word used to describe millennials is entitled. I’m just curious, I’ve listened to the podcast. You’ve had so many different passions you’ve talked about. How are you seeing the playing into professional setting where individuals of a certain age or across the board are already kind of fighting off the stigma of receiving “participation trophies” for doing something versus actually being talented and kind of like how they approached their passion that way?
Obviously, there’s not a certain level of skill required to talk about something you love but I mean at what point do you feel it’s — not that it’s not worth addressing but something that is worth bringing to the table. It’s not like, “Oh, I love watching Game of Thrones” because I know that many people my age love watching Game of Thrones. But I wouldn’t necessarily call that a hobby or something that is beyond but how would you see that as worthy?
John: I mean honestly, anything at all. I mean people that binge watch Breaking Bad. I mean that counts. If you like Game of Thrones, I mean you’re into mythology, that sort of storyline. You’re into really good cinematography. You’re into that kind of thing or you just really like that show and that story. I mean it’s just like people that really like to read science fiction books or people that really like to read mysteries or you know what I mean? That’s still a thing. That’s a thing that makes you different than the next person. But it also could bring you together with the next person.
I don’t even think that it’s a generational thing, totally. I think that some of the older generation, they were just taught that it’s all work all the time. Actually, I talked to somebody over in the UK and then big banks there, in the ‘30s, you had to get approval to marry. It went way back.
Clearly changing to today, I think that if the older generation were 22 today, they would buy in totally to this. Deep down inside, they still do. But the weird thing is they’ve forgotten what their passion was because it goes dormant and then you forget altogether and it goes instinct. That’s the scariest part about it I think is professionalism will just suffocate you like that to where it’s gone. Then you’re going to go retire and now, you don’t even know what to go do. That applies to really everyone.
The really ironic thing is then the younger generation tends to overshare where it goes passions and interests to drama. Breaking up with the third boyfriend this month or whatever it is and it’s like one side, the older generation doesn’t want to admit they have passions and the other side doesn’t want to admit they do accounting because they don’t want to be lumped in with everybody.
It’s just trying to find that balance but everybody has a passion and interest or they did at one point. It’s just finding that and relighting that fire or never letting it go out for sure. But no matter what it is, I mean I’ve had people in the podcast that have done some really amazing things.
And then at the same time, I think it’s also amazing that someone can do stained glass. I mean I don’t know how to do stained glass. I think that’s really cool or somebody that does a 5K walk for charity once a year or whatever it is that you do. I had somebody on that really loves true crime documentary stuff. I mean it’s just all kinds of things that people really love and it’s really neat how all of those things in some way or another make you human and make you better at what you’re doing at your job.
Laura: I really liked what you just said about how it’s kind of that difference between talking about everything and talking about nothing. That might be where the gap is but I agree whole heartedly I mean I think don’t lose that fire and yeah, to have something to do after you retire. Oh, that rhymes.
John: Oh, look at you, Dr. Seuss. You just nailed it. Don’t lose that fire so you can have something to do where you retire. You should be in marketing, Laura. You really should.
Laura: Can you connect me to someone that stitches pillows or something? I’d really —
John: That’s so great. On that note, I think it’s a perfect time to bring it in. Thank you so much, Laura for being with me today on the Green Apple Podcast.
Laura: Thank you, John, very much. I’ve had a blast.
John: That was really great. If you’d like to see some pictures of Laura and her treats or connect with her on social media, be sure to go to greenapplepodcast.com and 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.