Mark is a CPA & a Runner
Mark owns MGR Accounting Recruiters, a San Antonio focused recruiting company, and Where Accountants Go, a career-content site for accounting professionals.
Mark talks about how he found his passion for running and how his experience in working for the family business made it easy for him to share this passion in the office!
• Getting into running
• How his passion for running helps him relate to others
• His experience in the family business
• Talking about running in the office
• Learning about co-workers’ hobbies through sharing his own
• Why the influence on culture should come from the top
• Why your hobby could have a lot to do with your job
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Welcome to Episode 247 of What’s Your “And”? This is John Garrett. Each Wednesday, I’m interviewing professionals who, just like me, are 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 their technical skills that actually differentiate them when they’re in the office.
I’m so excited to let everyone know that my book is being published in just a few months. It’ll be available on Amazon and a few other websites. So check out whatsyourand.com for all the details. I can’t say how much it means that everyone’s listening to the show change the cultures where they work because of it. The book will really help spread that message. And please 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. And this week is no different with my guest, Mark Goldman. He’s the founder of MGR Accounting Recruiters in San Antonio, Texas and the host of Where Accountants Go podcast. Now, he’s with me here today. Mark, thank you so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Mark: Hey, John. I am so excited, man. I feel like I’m getting in the in-crowd now or something. This is cool.
John: We’re all nerds over here too. Don’t worry about it. It’s all good. Yeah. But it’s so much fun hanging out in San Antonio about a year and a half ago, I guess, with the Texas State Society and meeting you there. So I’m just excited to have you finally be a part of this. This is going to be fun.
Mark: Thank you. Yes. Thank you, man. Congrats on — you were on the list of, I don’t know, the top two most influential people in accounting or something.
John: Right. Yeah. Exactly. In top 100, I mean I don’t know where in that. Maybe I was number two. I don’t know. But no, it was a real honor to be on that list. And just to get recognized for all the work that I’m doing on this side of it is really cool. Sharing people’s stories has just been awesome. But before we get to yours, rapid-fire questions right out of the gate. So here we go. Suit and tie or jeans and a t-shirt?
Mark: Anyone knows me a suit and tie for sure.
John: Okay. How about do you have a favorite sports team?
Mark: Ooh. My team in the office is going to crack up at this. I am so ignorant about sports. So Spurs for San Antonio, but I think we play basketball.
John: Right. Okay. Just because everyone else is talking about it. It sounds good. How about Balance Sheet or Income Statement?
Mark: I’m a business owner, so Income Statement.
John: Oh, there you go. Yeah. Do you prefer more hot or cold?
Mark: I get cold easy, so hot.
John: Yeah. Well, there in Texas, it’s a slam dunk, I guess. How about Star Wars or Star Trek?
Mark: The last Star Wars movie is coming out, so Star Wars for sure.
John: Yeah. It’s really hot right now for sure. And your computer, PC or a Mac?
Mark: PC. Man, I have an Apple phone and I still can’t get used to it. PC for sure.
John: Yeah. No, I hear you on that. I hear you for sure. Then favorite ice cream flavor?
Mark: All right. Don’t make fun of me but not just vanilla but the super-rich vanillas, like vanilla 1905 H-E-B vanilla, something like with intense flavour.
John: I hear you. I’m an ice cream junkie, so I appreciate that answer so much. I know exactly what you mean, exactly what you mean. How about a favorite number?
Mark: I really don’t have one. A positive number, I guess.
John: A positive number? I like that answer. That’s good. How about pens or pencils?
Mark: Pens. It’s easier to write it.
John: There you go. How about a favorite color?
Mark: I knew you’re going to ask that. I don’t know my favorite color now but green just because I was a kid. When I was a kid, I want to pick something that other people don’t pick. And kids don’t pick green.
John: That’s very true. That is a rare answer. How about a least favorite color?
Mark: Oh, hot pink. Yeah.
John: It’s just too much. It’s just too much.
Mark: It’s too much.
John: No, no. I hear you. I hear you. How about on an airplane, window seat or aisle seat?
Mark: Aisle seat because I’m a little over six feet, six one. Yeah. I need room. Yeah.
John: No, no. I hear you. I hear you. Especially against the window. I mean the fuselage curves.
John: So you can’t even totally sit upright. It’s crazy. So no, I hear you. I hear you on that one. How about a favorite actor or actress?
Mark: Ooh, I don’t know, man. I really don’t have one. I don’t watch that much TV anymore.
John: Yeah. I just figured I’d ask. All right. How about would you say you’re more of an early bird or a night owl?
Mark: Early bird now just because I like to get stuff done.
John: Right. How about a favorite Disney character?
Mark: Mickey Mouse just because we foster kids. And all the kids like Mickey Mouse, man.
John: There you go. No, no. That’s a classic. You can’t go wrong with Mickey.
Mark: Yeah. I learned to like Mickey. Yeah.
John: That’s for sure. The last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own?
Mark: Not very specific but whatever pair of running shoes I’m using at the time. So that’s one of my prized possession in life, whatever was the most new pair of running shoes that I have.
John: Right. I mean running shoes are not cheap. I mean they’re really fancy these days, so I completely understand that answer. And it dovetails perfectly into your passion of running. Is this something that you’ve been doing since you were young or did you get into it later in life?
Mark: No. Yeah. Actually, I was very un-athletic as you could tell from my sports answer earlier. I got into it because my wife did, I guess, about seven years ago, six years ago. She was running for charity runs and stuff like that. She get up early on Saturday morning to go practice, John. And I’m in bed. Finally, one morning, I’m like, “Mark, you need to man up and support your wife and go with her.” That’s how I got into it. So quite by accident, but I love it now.
John: That’s a really great story. And I love how that’s practice as opposed to training. You’re like, “Whatever it is. I’m just out there running.” And I’m supporting you. So is that how you started with some charity runs?
Mark: Yeah. Actually, it’s funny. My wife is Japanese. She’s under five feet tall and I’m about six one. When I first went out with her, I thought, “Oh, piece of cake.” I mean I’m taller. And it was miles. After the first mile, I could barely see her on the horizon, just trying to keep up. So I learned my lesson a little bit. But, yeah, we just started training for kids’ charities actually.
John: That’s awesome. I guess do you have a fun story or more rewarding story from one of your races?
Mark: Well, I just did my first marathon last year.
John: Wow. That’s huge. Congratulations, man.
Mark: Thank you. Thank you. Yeah. It’s been fun. Yeah. I’m training for my second one. I don’t know if it’s fun or not, but just finishing, there’s definitely a runner’s high that you get after finishing stuff like that. You should be tired but inside you, there’s this sense of accomplishment. It’s hard to match that.
John: That’s impressive. I’ve only done one half marathon. It should not be called half of anything. It’s really unfair that it’s called that. It’s so far. I can’t even imagine doing double that. But that’s impressive, man. I mean not a lot of people can say they’ve done that. So good for you.
Mark: Do a half marathon, just take a nap and then go do the other half.
John: Right. Or just say, “I did,” and then eat a bunch of ice cream. How about that? Yeah. So would you say that running it all gives you a skill that you bring to the office?
Mark: Well, I mean it helps you relate to people, I think. Yeah. I’ve always been, I guess, open about my life outside of work as you describe it. I think it helps you relate to people better because they know you’re real. And particularly if you’re in management, it helps you relate to them better. They open up more to about what they enjoy. And I think it’s always helpful from that standpoint.
John: Yeah, for sure. And I think that that’s really important, what you mentioned about as a manager, relating to the people. And why do you think that that’s so crucial?
Mark: People and particularly in today’s market — and of course, I’m in the employment space. But people have options. They can choose where they want to work and understand a lot these days. I think if you expect to keep your team members long term, you have to show that you care about them. Yeah. If all you care about is whatever the project is, that’s not going to work long term.
John: Right. Exactly. Because there’s so much more to them than just the technical skill side, yeah, which is really cool that you see that because they don’t teach us that in business school, I don’t think so. Where do you think you learned that from?
Mark: God, that’s a great question. I think I’ve known a long time that you need to care about your team. I worked for my father. Maybe that’s where I got it. I grew up in a family business through middle school, high school. I mean it was normal to talk about everything else because he was my dad, my boss.
Mark: “Finish and then go clean your room.”
John: Yeah. Exactly.
Mark: “And do your homework.”
John: That’s funny.
John: No. Right. No, that’s awesome though. But that’s so cool that you really didn’t know any different. Then when you did experience something different, it was like, “This isn’t as good or as rewarding.” So it’s nice to hear that you’re translating that over to your team now, which is neat. That’s pretty cool. That’s really cool actually. So the running is something you do talk about at work I’m sure?
Mark: Yeah. Actually, probably more than people would like. There’s an old joke. It’s like, “How do you know if your buddy went running on the weekend if you didn’t go with him? Don’t worry. He’ll tell you.” I’m very much that guy a little bit. But it is cool. I mean through opening up about that, I mean I’ve learned my different team members have different interest. I mean I’ve got a few people that just love gardening here in the office. Actually, it’s funny. I mean everybody in my office has a favorite sports team except me. I’ve got a singer. He used to be in a cover band, a guy that works with me. Yeah. Another one that’s really into dogs, just dog lover. And I probably wouldn’t know that if I didn’t share about my own life.
John: Oh yeah, that’s a good point. Yeah. Because it seems like a little bit of reciprocity happens there where you share a little bit of yours and then it shows that it’s okay for them to share about themselves usually.
Mark: That or they’re just trying to shut me up on talking about running. I don’t know.
John: Right. Something about sports so Mark will be quiet because he doesn’t know what words we’re using. That’s hilarious. That’s funny, man. No, but I think that’s a cool thing and especially that you’re able to talk about everyone in that way that you know about them really shows that you care as opposed to just going through the motions because not everybody can say that about everyone that they work with. I mean sometimes when I do some consulting, I’ll ask some of the leaders of teams or firms and companies. It’s just, “If you gave your person $3,000, do you know what they would do with it? And if you don’t, then find out because that tells you who they are.”
Mark: Yeah. It’s funny you’ve mentioned that. You were asking me how I benefited. And I didn’t really realize this until you’re asking me these questions. But back before I was addicted to running when I didn’t have a hobby, I can’t tell you that I really knew what my team’s hobbies were either. Yeah. I mean it probably made me a better manager. I don’t know. You’d have to ask my team.
John: Right. That’s really interesting though. It’s if when you didn’t have anything, either you assume that no one else had anything or you didn’t care or it just wasn’t a priority. But then once you did, then other people started opening up as well. And maybe you started seeing that side of others as well, maybe looking —
Mark: Yeah. I think it makes you more real. Then it makes them more comfortable sharing with you. Yeah. Dude, you’ve given me insight into my life, John.
John: Right. I mean my brain hurts right now. I don’t know about yours. But that’s some really powerful stuff. I guess how much do you feel like it’s on an organization to create that culture that I feel like you have there versus how much is it on an individual to maybe just do it amongst themselves in a little small circle?
Mark: I mean I think it has to come from the top. I think that managers and owners, they have to be comfortable having those conversations because the team is going to mirror what you do a little bit. All you talk about is work, then all they’re going to talk about is work, at least for the short time maybe that they’re with you. So I think it has to come from the top.
John: Right. Yeah. No, that’s very true because I mean I know when I started Big Four coming out of school. And it was you, like you said, mirror or you’re modeling behavior in front of you with people that you think are successful, only to find out that they’re modeling behavior of people that were in front of them and then in front of them. And it’s like, “Is anyone just being totally themselves?” So it’s cool that you see that and what you’ve created there because that’s definitely not always normal. I guess are there organizations that you work with and interact with? Have you seen places that do anything in particular to encourage this?
Mark: Yeah. That’s a great question. We see some employers that do it better than others, I mean some that are just more open about their hobbies and interest. We’re working with a new employer on positions to fill and stuff like that. Yeah. I guess if they are open about their interest with us, it’s a good sign that they have that open environment. If they’re trying to play it close to the vest and not opening up, you’re right. That’s probably a bad sign.
John: Right. Yeah. I mean when it comes to these hobbies and passions that people have outside of work, I mean that’s huge for recruiting. I mean if you can tap into that, of the people that are coming in for the office visit or for the interview and then match them up with someone that has a similar hobby or passion that already works there, now, it shows them that they have a friend at this company above and beyond a colleague. So that’s a huge way that companies can weave this in.
Mark: Exactly. People hire people that they’re comfortable with. They have to be comfortable that they can do the job, but they also have to be comfortable that they’re going to find it acceptable working with the person every day, if not like it. And I think sometimes, we can try to be too safe in interviews. All we do is talk about the professional side. I mean I guess there are maybe some personal things you shouldn’t go into an interview, but hobbies and stuff like that, I mean that’s definitely something that should come out and be discussed in an interview. So you make sure it’s even — maybe not exact matches in those areas, but at least you feel like you know the person better.
John: Yeah. Exactly. Exactly. I mean when you saw me do the keynote in, it’s just — my resume, the very bottom two lines was Professional Stand-up Comedian and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana. Yeah. That’s what we would talk about every interview I would go on. It’s just really interesting insight. And all the other stuff on there that I thought was making me smarter and better and stand out didn’t really make me stand out at all.
Mark: Yeah. It’s so true. I remember when you said that. It’s so true. I mean because those are interesting things to talk about. I mean whether you reconcile the bank statement or not, I guess I need to know that.
John: Yeah. And it’s something that even if you didn’t, I could probably teach you in about 20 minutes. Then we’re good and there you go. But that’s really cool, what you got going there. That’s really awesome. Do you have any words of encouragement to anyone listening that thinks that their hobby has nothing to do with their job?
Mark: I think your hobby has a lot to do with your job in that it gives you a release. If all you ever think about is work, that makes for pretty boring life. I mean no matter how much you like your job. I know for me, when I get out to run, there’s just a lot of mind-clearing that goes on. I mean I can leave the house just for a quick three mile run. I’m stressed. I got a lot on my mind. I’m worried about stuff. By the time I’m back home, it’s like the world is good. The stress is gone. Whatever problems I was thinking through, the solution is obvious. And I think if you don’t have some kind of outlet — I mean it can be painting. It can be gardening, something else to get your mind on. Where does that stress all go? I think it can build up. So I think it’s extremely important to have some other interest for sure.
John: Yeah. It’s really fascinating, right, how more work isn’t the answer. It’s actually do something else that’s completely unrelated, that’s outside of the office, that get your brain off of things, get your mind off the things. It actually makes you more productive in the end. And especially something physical, running is a great way to mind and body type of exercise. That’s fantastic, man. Really great advice, really great advice.
Before I wrap this up though, Mark, it’s only fair that I allow you to question me. I know you host your own podcast. I’m turning the mike over to you now and letting you be the boss.
Mark: This is dangerous. I’ll go easy on you. Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi?
John: Oh, gross and gross. I mean honestly, I’m not a big soda guy. But Sprite? Actually, you know what? The real answer is fruit punch. I’m a seven year old.
Mark: Like a little Hawaiian guy on there, the —
John: Totally. Oh, my God, I’m such a sucker for that. And it’s awesome when I order it out loud in a fast food restaurant and everyone just looks. I’m like, “Nope, it’s just for me.”
Mark: “Where’s your kid?”
John: “Nope. Just me.”
Mark: Last question, where would you like to speak but you haven’t yet been invited?
John: That’s a really, really hard one because I mean after the Texas State Society, everything is a significant step down. That’s definitely a hard answer. I mean I guess AICPA Engage Conference might be neat. I’ve never been but there’s a lot of people there. So I’d be able to get my message to a lot of people at once. Actually, just the Texas State Society every month, we should just do that. We should just have everyone get together. I feel like you guys do anyway. But thanks, Mark, for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”? This is really fun.
Mark: No problem. That’s a lot of fun. Thank you.
John: Yeah. Absolutely. Everyone listening, if you want to see some pictures of Mark running or connect with him on social media, be sure to listen to Where Accountants Go Podcast. Be sure go to whatsyourand.com. All the links are there. While you’re on the page, please click that big green button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture. 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.