Kevin started his own business to travel the world
Kevin Izevbigie is an experienced B2B marketer that has a background as a qualified accountant. Founder of advisoryaccountant.com – We help Accountants & Tax Pros Attract Their Ideal Consulting Clients with Facebook & Direct Marketing. Kevin brings his experience as an accountant, a decade developing superior offers and 7-figures spent on marketing funnels to help businesses grow!
In this episode, Kevin and John talk about how important and beneficial it is for someone to take time to fulfil their needs to express themselves in their passions and satisfy that ‘itch’ we all have and how Kevin made his passion for a traveling a part of his own business!
• How Kevin got into traveling
• Fulfilling that ‘itch’
• Not everyone is meant to be an employee, not everyone is meant to be an entrepreneur
• Why Kevin feels that fulfilling your passions can make you better at your job
• Why Kevin feels the influence of culture in a company comes from the leaders
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Welcome to Episode 180 of the Green Apple Podcast. This is John Garrett. Each Wednesday, I interview a professional who, just like me, is known for a hobby or a passion or an interest outside of work. It makes them stand out like a green apple in a kind of stereotypically boring red apple world.
To put it in another way, it’s encouraging people to find their “and” as in my guest, Kevin Izevbigie is an accountant “and” world traveler which are two things that you don’t always put together because there isn’t a charge code for travelling.
But first, I’ve got a quick favor to ask. If you like the show and are listening to iTunes or your favorite Android app, don’t forget to hit subscribe so you don’t miss any of the future episodes.
I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week. This week is no different with my guest, Kevin Izevbigie. After spending several years in commercial finance, he’s now the growth and automation strategist with advisory accountant, helping professionals go beyond the compliance work which sounds like something that measures well with the Green Apple Podcast. This is going to be so much fun, Kevin, I’m so excited to have you on the show.
Kevin: Thank you for having me. I’m excited to be here.
John: Oh, yeah. Absolutely, man. I know we chatted before and had a great talk but now we get to record it and share with everybody. I love what you’re doing and we’ll get into that in a bit.
But first, we got to break this open with my rapid fire questions, get to know Kevin on a new level so I hope you’re ready. Here we go. I’ll ask you an easy one first, easy one.
For transportation, planes, trains, or automobiles?
John: Trains, nice. That’s a very UK answer. How about a favorite sports team?
Kevin: Oh, Chelsea.
John: Chelsea, there we go. All right. Yeah, they’re like the New York Yankees of soccer players. How about Star Wars or Star Trek?
Kevin: Oh, man. You had to ask me that. I haven’t watched neither of them. It’s literally on my bucket list to watch both of them so I can make that decision.
John: All right, fair enough. At least you’re honest. How about a computer? PC or a Mac?
Kevin: I grew up with PCs but it’s Mac all the way now, definitely.
John: All the way, okay, crossed over. All right. How about do you have a favorite ice cream flavor?
Kevin: It depends when I’m on a diet or when I’m not on a diet.
John: When you’re not on a diet. Come on, man.
Kevin: When I’m not on a diet, then anything you can give me will be fine. If I had to pick one, then I’ll go with vanilla, just plain vanilla.
John: Okay, all right. How about, as an accountant, I have to ask you — or a finance guy, a balance sheet or income statement?
Kevin: You’re making me relive those exams again and again. Why would you say that?
John: That’d be hard. Those are the impossible.
Kevin: Literally, yeah. I don’t think I’ve ever got one right. Definitely, income statement. I love looking at that profit line.
John: Yeah, absolutely. How about do you have a least favorite vegetable?
John: Oh, yeah. Tomatoes, okay. All right. But do you like ketchup? Are you one of those guys?
Kevin: I can eat like tomato pizza. It’s weird, right? But it’s the texture of the tomatoes. I just can’t do it.
John: How about do you have a favorite number?
John: Why is that?
Kevin: I have no idea. I just like the number.
John: No, that’s good. That’s solid, solid. Do you prefer more hot or cold?
Kevin: Like drinks or just generally or like the temperature?
John: However you would take it, man.
Kevin: Okay, so cold. Definitely cold.
John: Well, you live in the UK. I get it. All right. How about favorite adult beverage?
Kevin: Oh, gin and tonic when I’m on a diet.
John: Oh, gin and tonic.
Kevin: The perfect diet beverage.
John: When on a diet and not on a diet depending on which way that goes.
Kevin: Yeah. Talk to me in a couple of months. I’ll change my answer, you know.
John: Yeah. That’s funny. How about more Sudoku or crossword puzzle?
Kevin: Crosswords. Come on, Sudoku? Nah. Come on. No. I’m totally judging those Sudoku people that are like —
John: Do you have a favorite color?
John: Oh, okay. Nice. I’d figure it would be blue for the Chelsea. How about least favorite color?
Kevin: Oh, that’s it. I don’t like boring colors. You got white and black. They’re just like standard colors. I don’t like those colors. I like the kind of flamboyant colors like the red, and then light blues and stuff like that. So dull colors. Anything dull, not interested.
John: Fair enough. How about when you’re travelling, more window or aisle seat?
Kevin: Window, you got luck.
John: Right. That’s why we’re out here, right?
Kevin: How about do you have favorite actor or actress?
John: It changes depending on the movie I just watched. I just watched a movie. I can’t remember what it’s called. It was Nicole Kidman — no, Julia Roberts. It was Julia Roberts.
Kevin: Julia Roberts, yeah. She’s in a lot.
John: Amazing film I just watched. She’s number one right now.
Kevin: All right. Fair enough. Two more. Pens or pencils?
John: Pens, okay. No mistakes. Look at you, man. Last one. The favorite thing you own or the favorite thing you have?
Kevin: My standing electronic desk which I’m using right now. I love this thing.
John: Oh, yeah. That’s a good answer, man. I just got one last year. Really cool. Life changing.
Kevin: Best decision, literally life changing.
John: Yeah. That’s fantastic, man. Very cool. Well, yeah. Well, I just do that so that I could see how long we can actually hang out.
Kevin: How did I score?
John: I promise to get you off that diet wagon quickly. There might be some hot fudge with vanilla ice cream. But I want to talk about — I know in the intro you mentioned travel. How did you get into that? Did you grow up travelling a lot or was it something that you got into later in life?
Kevin: Yes. Much, much later in life. I didn’t travel much at all until I was in my 20s. I kind of met my now fiancé in uni and she’d been everywhere. My world wasn’t that big back then. I was only interested in computers, right?
I hadn’t really appreciated what it meant to travel. It became my goal immediately as soon as I started learning about that bigger world.
John: That’s really cool. How did you get into travelling when you were in uni or was it more — I mean it’s because it’s hard to I guess finance that when you’re a college student. But yes, how did that get going?
Kevin: Yes. I kind of left university and joined a leadership graduate program for becoming an accountant and that’s where I trained. I’ve done my CMA and I become qualified and so I was working and studying. After that three-year period, I thought to myself well, you know what? I actually just want to travel because travel to me anyway represented freedom.
I tried to build that into my life by leaving my job and starting a business. That business essentially funded that travel.
John: That’s cool, man. I love how you said that travel represented freedom to you because it was being able to go other places and to not be restrained to just your office or your home or your home city. That’s interesting.
Kevin: Right. I mean I’m the kind of guy that got up every single five minutes from my desk. I mean I got great results in my corporate job but man, I just had to get up every five minutes because I wanted to go and see something completely random. How better to expand that than to go and see another world.
John: Yeah, that’s really cool. Are there some of the more favorite places that you’ve been?
Kevin: Yeah. There’s one place in particular that I will always remember, and it’s called Kyrenia in Cyprus. I’ve got this one picture I remember standing. I went to the top of the mountain and it was like the sun was setting and I was with my fiancé and we were looking over. Then my brother took a picture from behind so we’ve got us standing there. When I want to go back to that place, I just look at this picture and think, “Oh, god. That was the spot. That was the spot.”
John: I’ve never been to Cyprus. Was it the food or just the scenery or combination of everything?
Kevin: It was both food and scenery but more than ever, we stayed with a friend who is from North Cyprus, right? Their family, uncles, cousins, moms, dads, all live in a very close radius so you would have lunch in one place then pre-dinner in another place. Then actual dinner in the next place and it was literally like a street party, almost. I want to do that.
John: That’s fantastic. I love it. Pre-dinner. That’s great. Those are my kind of people, man.
Kevin: I could stay here forever literally. That’s what I was thinking.
John: Yeah. That’s really cool, man. Really cool. Do you feel like any of the travelling helped you with your career at all whether it was when you were in commercial finance or now?
Kevin: Great question. I didn’t really last long running my commercial finance business. I actually ended up becoming a market owner and now I obviously help accountants do it. But today, what I found especially speaking to accountants and even for me, it was more of if you don’t get a chance to fulfill your secret desires, for me it was freedom and that was travel, then you’re always going to have an itch. When you’ve got an itch, you are distracted.
For me, because I get to scratch my itch so often, when I’m working or when I’m with my fiancé or with anything, I’m present because I know that in a couple of months, I’m going to go somewhere.
John: Right. No, that’s really good, man. That’s really good because we all have that itch. We all have a passion outside of work and I think there’s a lot of people that just kind of put it on that back-burner but like you said, it’s always there and it’s always going to be there and the more you ignore it, the more it rears its head and distract you.
Kevin: Right, and that’s why I’m always encouraging people to tap into that. For me, I remember sitting on my desk writing on a piece of paper and it literally said goal, underline, I want to be happy today. Not tomorrow. I don’t want to go for next month now. How can I make that happen?
John: That’s awesome, man. I guess do you feel like everyone has something? I mean I said that earlier but then I was like oh, well maybe, maybe not. I mean based on my research, I get around 92%-93% of people that say they have something they regularly do outside of work. But I would imagine that everyone has it. It’s whether or not they do it.
Kevin: Right. Then if I’m maybe so bored to add to that question is do you want to do more of it? Do you want to do that thing forever? That’s a better question because — well, not a better question but an extension because yes, you can do it. For example, my fiancé loves dancing, do you want to dance more forever? Do you want it to be a bigger thing for you? If the answer is yes, then the next question is how do you create that? That’s the journey I went down.
John: Really cool. Yeah, because I mean that’s where it’s at. I mean we’re all working so then we can live. I remember there was a guest that I had on last year and he referred to it as breathing in his happy, his singing. I was like, “What about IT auditing?” He’s like, “Not so much.”
How can you create that life and you know, sometimes, it’s an organization that — it’s a bigger organization versus an entrepreneur type lifestyle and that you get it but do you think it’s possible to have that even if you’re part of a larger firm or a larger company?
Kevin: Yeah. I think that not everyone’s built for both worlds. Some people are just not built to be employees, some people are not built to be entrepreneurs. I think that it depends on what it is, right? Like you said, you said that — when I was a student, obviously, I couldn’t afford to travel so if you can’t afford it, then you can’t do it. You have to make it happen.
If it’s something that you can only do at 2:00 p.m. on an afternoon, then it’s not really conducive to have a full-time job and work for a big company if you need to do that at 2:00.
John: Yeah, exactly, or a very understanding management team that appreciates your input. It’s like, well, I’ll get the work done later type of a thing. But you certainly build up to that. You can’t just walk in on day one and necessarily always have that luxury.
Is your travel something that you’ve talked about all throughout your career like to clients or to co-workers and colleagues?
Kevin: Yeah. Now, that travel thing is my business, i.e. I help the accountants that want freedom from their firms or from the corporate world, find their freedom too. I literally do it, did it, built it into my business, and then it became my business.
John: Right, yeah. You’ve walked the path and now, you can shine a light to point people along the way. Yeah, that’s awesome, man. Was it something that you talked about even before early on?
Kevin: It’s a really good question, actually. Before I was even an accountant, this was when I was in college before uni. For you guys, I guess that would be college is uni. This is like pre-college.
I remember working in the shoe stores like a shoe salesman. I remember I had this manager, and there was her manager. I remember speaking to my manager a couple of years later. They were like, “Kevin, man, you just never shut up about travelling and being free.” Because that’s all I spoke about.
But you see, back then, I wasn’t aware that I was talking about becoming an entrepreneur to find my freedom so young but it was like I always knew it. I knew I was going to do it. I knew it was going to happen. It wasn’t really planned but I clearly spoke about it. I was like 15, 16 at the time.
John: Yeah. That’s interesting. Because I mean, sometimes, people feel like if I talk about something that’s not work related, then it makes me seem like I’m not as dedicated to the job or I’m not very good at my job or whatever kind of reasons we put in our own head.
That’s great. I mean I was too dumb to know that that’s not a thing you’re supposed to do. It’s like, “You ask me what I did. I told you. I did a comedy show this weekend. What do you want?” It’s one of those where maybe it’s a confidence in yourself thing or it’s just an absolute truth so I don’t know any different. It’s just oh, I didn’t know we were not supposed to.
Kevin: Right. Can I actually patch up on that point though about not being allowed to talk about it in work, in the corporate world? Because when I was in I guess you guys call it Corporate America, corporate world in the UK.
John: Oh, it’s not Corporate America in the UK? That’s weird. No, I’m just teasing. It’ Corporate America everywhere.
Kevin: In case you didn’t know, yeah. Corporate world. I think that I worked in big companies like massive companies. There is a certain standard and conformist mentality you need to adopt. Being controversial like talking about things like starting a business or travelling the world was frowned upon. It was literally frowned upon. How do you navigate in that world when you know deep down, you’ve got a secret desire?
Now for me, I was only there for five years. I was in the corporate commercial finance for five years. It wasn’t that long for me. I was dying by the way. I was dying to rip out of that shell. Someone that’s been there 10, 15 years, playing that game when it’s not a game that’s suited to that kind of secret desire, I mean that to me is painful.
John: Yeah, so you experience where if you talked about it, it was kind of they let you know this isn’t how we do things or was it just the behavior that you were modelling from people above you?
Kevin: Well, I think a bit of both. If you spoke about let’s say, I’m using business because that’s my example, starting a business and that kind of freedom. If you speak about it too much and they know that you’re thinking about it, then all of a sudden, what you do in your spare time, if you make a mistake at work it’s like wow, it’s because you’re thinking about your business.
You’re using that information against you and I think for people who have something that directly conflicts with the success of their job or perceives to conflict, then you might have an issue.
John: Yeah. I would argue that it is more of a perception thing. I mean provided you’re not doing it eight hours a day during business hours. I guess it directly does. But more times than not, it’s a perception of whether it’s in our own head or it’s the other person not taking the time to fully understand.
I remember one time, I was in a meeting and it was shortly before I left corporate world, a director of another department that interacted with ours but he wasn’t at all in charge of me or really even understood what I did. I remember one time in a meeting, he just said to me, “Well, why don’t you just do comedy? That’s all you want to do.” Well, what does that have to do with my job? That has nothing to do with my job. I’m doing great work here.
Because I have a life outside of work, that doesn’t mean that I’m not good at my job or I don’t care about this. I mean this is where I get health benefits and a steady paycheck. I don’t want to not leave this. I mean it’s crazy. I think it’s just taking the time to just get to know each other and understand.
Someone were to actually to talk with you about why do you want to travel so much or why do you want to create a side business or things like that, then I think that people would probably be more appreciative.
Kevin: Yeah, but you know, people are known to be self-interested and that’s normal. All of us are. That comment is exactly what I was talking about. He brought it up because you have something outside of the job irrespective of your performance. It’s “perceived” to be getting in the way. That, for me, anyway personally is my core problem.
I just like things working on my terms. I take the clients on that I want to take on. I work with the people that I want to work with at a time I want to do it which actually, sometimes, is all day because I love what I do but that’s my choice.
John: But that’s just how you’re built. It’s not necessarily like it distracts with the job. It was going to distract with your job no matter what type of a thing. Do you feel like these hobbies and passions and interests that people have outside of work — I mean obviously yours is an extreme example, actually building a business. But if somebody just likes to ice skate or play the piano or whatever, do you feel like those are actual distractions?
Kevin: No. I thing that will make them better at what they do because I think total immersion in work isn’t actually healthy for your mind. Just because you don’t do it, if you don’t do it and it’s there, then that might damage you mentally at some point because you know that thing will be subconscious and that pain will be subconscious and eventually will become conscious, okay, if you like to press that thing that you want to do.
I think a hobby like dancing, playing the piano, those things, it just adds flavor in a different dimension to people because when you ask someone, “Well, what do you do?” They say, “Well, I’m an accountant.” We’re actually holistic people. That’s just a bit of us. No matter who you are and what side you show, we are holistic people. You are not an accountant. Well, actually, you’re more than that. You’re this whole circle and this pie is split up into 12 pieces like talk about another side of you.
John: Right, yeah. I believe that accountant part of you is less than a third of who you actually are. I mean there’s family, there’s passions, there’s other interests, there’s faith. There’s all these other aspects to you. Why is it that your profession becomes your sole identity? It’s crazy.
What’s really scary is that I’ve talked with some clients that I’m consulting with, some of these partners and people are getting to retire, and they’re like, “I don’t know what I’m going to go do” because their whole identity is wrapped up in their work and then their job. If you ever get laid off or if you’re going to retire or whatever, now you lose your whole sense of identity. That’s scary to me. That’s very scary.
Kevin: You bring up something I didn’t understand when I was younger. When I got into the corporate world and I used to see like big companies, restructures, people get laid off and so you see people crying.
For me, when I was younger, I just thought well, just get another job. What I didn’t appreciate though was that this person has been here for ten years or x years and that is literally their life. It is such a significant part of their life that to lose that is to lose something significant. I didn’t appreciate that.
To your point at retirement point, if it’s been your life that long, that’s pretty scary, man.
John: I mean absolutely. I didn’t realize it either until I was having conversations with some of these people. I was like wow, I need to let others know. This is what’s coming if you stay on the path. You need to shake things up a little bit.
One question that I love to think about because I have time, is how much do you feel like it’s on the organization to create that culture where, you know what? Hey, passions and interests are cool to share or how much is it on the individual to just maybe put a couple of pictures up in their office or share within a small circle and be the source of change?
Kevin: Great question. That is such a good question. I didn’t appreciate that until I started running a business and having teams but that culture really comes from the top. It really, really is inspired by that leadership level. People kind of emulate what they see and it’s almost subconscious. I think it’s on the organization to train, especially when you get bigger, to train management I think to inspire a better culture.
I think if it starts in an individual level then every individual will be doing it their way and everyone will be different.
John: Right. That’s absolutely true. I love how you said that inspire a better culture. It’s not forcing it, it’s not dictating it. It’s making it where it’s part organic but part not. It’s organic within these lanes. It’s lighting a fire.
I feel like a lot of people want permission especially in the accounting, consulting, finance, law space. These aren’t people that skirt the rules, these are people that play within the rules all the time.
If you don’t explicitly give them permission, then maybe they don’t do it. By saying it or by showing it, then the flood gate is open and the magic happens.
Do you have any words of encouragement for anyone listening that thinks hey, my passion has nothing to do with my job and they’re just going to get angry if I talk about it type of a thing?
Kevin: This is probably a weird answer but I say there’s a book by Maxwell Maltz called Psycho-Cybernetics. It’s about the power of visualization and creating your own world visually and then manifesting it. That’s a powerful book because I think you just said that people are waiting for permission. Really, what we’re talking about here is fear.
I think to breakdown those barriers of fear, like our subconscious doesn’t know the difference between what’s actually happening and what you visualize. If you visualize it enough and then do it, then actually it’s not really the first time it’s happening anymore. I think that people should really work on that mental toughness and give them self-permission rather than waiting for it.
If it’s not being inspired by the top, then at some stage, you got to say well, look, I’m going to have to do it on my own.
John: Right, yeah. Exactly. No, I love that, man. I love that. Giving yourself permission is one of the hardest things to do really for anything.
Kevin: Usually, I have to ask my fiancé for permission now. But you know. Before, I used to do it on my own.
John: Exactly. You’re a quick learner, man. You’re good. I like it. You’re going to go far, my friend. You’re going to go far. Is she going to take your last name? That’s the question.
Kevin: Yeah. Well, look, I just made it very clear to her that it took me 11 years to get it right. You still got four years to practice so good luck with that.
John: I like it. This has been awesome, man. This has been awesome. I feel like it’s only fair that I turn the tables. Since I started out rapid fire questioning you, if there’s any rapid fire questions you might have for me, to get to know me in another level here?
Kevin: I have to ask this one. Everyone either hates accountants, lawyers, or both. My question to you is lawyers or accountants?
John: Oh, which one do I like?
Kevin: Which one do you like better?
John: Oh, accountants for sure, man. Those are my people. Absolutely.
Kevin: Spiderman or Batman?
John: Oh, man. That’s good. I’m going to go Batman. I don’t know why. I just feel like he has cooler gadgets. He’s like a grown man.
Kevin: That is very significant actually.
John: I don’t know why but he lives alone in a giant mansion. That’s kind of sad. I mean I don’t know. I just feel like yeah, Batman.
Kevin: Okay, cheesecake or chocolate fudge cake?
John: Oh, man. Can we combine them? They should be two separate things and we just put them on top of each other. I don’t even care. I’ll go with fudge cake.
Kevin: Now, I’ve judged you positively because look, one of the places I loved when I went there was New York City. Everything’s bigger in New York. When I ate a chocolate fudge cake, it was huge. I think that was the best day of my life.
John: That’s awesome, man. That’s awesome. Well, I can’t wait to hang out some day and travel together and get some good food and have some good laughs. Thanks so much, Kevin. This was really fantastic.
Kevin: Sounds like a plan. Thanks, man.
John: That’s a wrap. If you like to see some pictures from Kevin’s travels or connect with him 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, going to help with the book that I’m launching pretty soon.
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 which is to go out and be a green apple.