Jonathan is a CFO & Cyclist
Jonathan Ankney returns to the podcast from episode #95 to talk about how he is regaining his annual cycling mileage after taking some time off to deal with health issues. He also talks about how the pandemic is shifting the dynamic in humanizing the workplace!
• Regaining annual cycling mileage
• Recent biking trips
• How our passions can fuel us
• How the pandemic is shifting the dynamic in the workplace
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Welcome to Episode 302 of What’s Your “And”? Follow-Up Friday Edition. This is John Garrett, and each Friday, I’m following up with a guest who had been on the show a few years ago to hear what’s new with their passions outside of work and also hear how this message might have impacted them since we last talked.
I’m so excited to let everyone know that my book is being published in September. It’ll be available on Amazon, Indigo, a few other websites, so check out whatsyourand.com for all the details where you can sign up for my exclusive list, and you’ll be the first to know when it’s coming out.
Please don’t forget to hit subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss any of the future episodes. I love sharing such interesting stories, each and every week, and this Follow-Up Friday is no different with my guest, Jonathan Ankney. He’s the President of Small Business CFO in New York City, and now he’s with me here today. Jonathan, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Jonathan: Oh, John, I’m happy to be back and talking with you again.
John: Exactly, man. It’s always good to connect, always good to connect. I have some rapid-fire questions, things that I’ve never asked you before, actually, and I probably should have before we hung out the first time there in New York, many years ago. Here we go. Let’s see what happens. Number one, if you had to choose, Harry Potter or Game of Thrones.
Jonathan: None of the above.
John: Okay, fair enough, fair enough. This one you can’t get out of, oceans or mountains.
Jonathan: Mountains, for sure.
John: Mountains. Okay, interesting. How about a favorite sports team?
John: Steelers. Okay, interesting. How about, do you have a favorite food?
Jonathan: Favorite food, oh, boy, yes, Samgyeopsal.
John: Oh, wow. Okay, what is that? I don’t even know.
Jonathan: It’s a Korean dish, and it’s tabletop barbecued bacon.
John: Oh, yes.
Jonathan: Imagine someone slicing up a nice slab of bacon for you and slapping it up on top of a tabletop barbecue and a little bit savory sauce, mwah.
John: Yeah, I think I have a new favorite food. That’s fantastic. All right, how about suit and tie or jeans and a t-shirt?
Jonathan: I am gradually degrading to jeans and t-shirt.
John: I love how you call it degrading. That’s hilarious. That’s funny. All right, two more. How about a favorite ice cream flavor?
Jonathan: Man, chocolate chip.
John: Oh, okay, solid. Last one, toilet paper roll, over or under?
Jonathan: Over, of course.
John: Okay, all right. Well, you never know, you never know. So, Episode 95 when you were on, which was so long ago. It’s amazing that you came on. You were a brave soul. We talked cycling, and I remember you had brought your bike over to Korea to ride there. Yeah, you were way into it, and riding in New York City too. That’s the next level type stuff. Is cycling still something you’re into?
Jonathan: Cycling is something that I’m still into. I actually, the last time we had spoken, my mileage, annual mileage had declined a bit. I had some health issues. They are climbing back up. I think this year, I’m going to be back up to my old form, which is, drum roll please, 4,000 miles a year.
John: That’s unbelievable, man. I mean, 4,000 miles, that’s impressive. Do you typically do longer rides then?
Jonathan: Interesting and very good question to ask. The answer is that, as part of my physical recovery back into riding, what I’ve discovered is that it is better to pace myself by doing, I will call them smaller rides, let’s say 25 or 30 miles a day, more days a week, than to do one insanely long ride on a given day and then take a few days break and then get on for a smaller ride. So, I’m trying to understand a little bit more about how my body works and how to pace myself in order to get back into that form.
John: Yeah, and 4,000 miles, how many — I’m just thinking of a car. That’s like an oil change and your tires rotated. You get your legs swapped out? What do you do at 4,000 miles?
Jonathan: Sometimes I wish I could.
John: Right? That’s impressive, man.
Jonathan: Look at it this way, if I rode 300 days a year, that would be 15 miles a day, which probably is a little less than an hour.
John: There you go, okay, and you got weekends off. You’re fine. It’s all good. Yeah, that’s impressive. So, is it all the same bike, or do you have a stable that you go to?
Jonathan: It’s on the same bicycle. During the wintertime, I have a stand that I can put the bicycle on, and the rear wheel makes contact with a flywheel that has resistance on it, and therefore gives me the training to do that. My interests are Netflix and Amazon Primetime.
John: Oh, yeah, I’m sitting there eating a bowl of ice cream, watching Netflix. You’re on a bike, so, good for you.
Jonathan: The universe balances itself out.
John: No wonder I don’t fit into my suit pants anymore. They’re not elastic. What’s going on? That’s awesome, man. That’s so cool to hear that you’re still doing it. Have you made any other trips as well, in the past couple of years?
Jonathan: I have made some trips. Unfortunately, I’ve not been overseas with said bicycle. I was thinking ahead to our call today about what’s happened in the last couple of years, and one of them is that I had gone to San Diego for a Weekend of Masterminds in my Entrepreneurship program. When I was there, I thought, you know what? I’ll just go ahead and rent myself a bicycle so I can keep my mileage up.
So, I went to some place. It was basically a surf shop that had some extra bicycles. I will say that they weren’t in the best of form but still was enough for me to do what I needed to do. Surfer dude was like, “Oh, yeah, dude, man, you know what you need to do is you need to ride your bicycle up here.”
So, I woke up at 3:00 in the morning in California, because I lived on the East Coast, of course, earlier, and I stared at the ceiling for an hour and said, “Okay, let’s get up and go.” I go to the bicycle, discovered that my front headlight would not fit on the handlebars, so I was out of a headlight. I put the rear taillight on, so at least that was going for me, got in the bicycle, started to go down the street and then I looked behind me, and the battery went out on the rear taillight.
John: Oh, no.
Jonathan: Now I’m at the mercy of streetlights in San Diego. Well, they’re not like New York City where they’re every 15 feet because you’re going to get mugged. It’s a little more suburban and are like 150 feet apart. I had this situation going on where I would be in the light, and I would have to estimate whether or not there were potholes or hazards, 75 feet into that ride, the whole time.
John: That’s amazing.
Jonathan: That was hazard number one. Then I got up to this. I had no idea where I was. This is my second adventure and come what may what may, que sera sera. I had to go through a Navy base.
John: Oh, wow.
Jonathan: So, I’m riding in the dark on this Navy base, and it gets to the point where it’s the military cemetery. Well, the deceased don’t need lights.
Jonathan: So, there’s no light at all.
John: Super dark.
Jonathan: It’s super dark, and I’m riding through this cemetery. All I’m thinking to myself is, man, you’re on a bicycle. You have no headlight. You have no taillight. There are no lights at all. You pass through a military base. How do you know that there’s not someone with a night scope watching you, this whole thing? Well, okay, is this a terrorist? No, that can’t possibly be it. This guy is so stupid. He has to be from New York City, riding through a military base
John: At no point did it, like, hey, I can just go back to bed. There’s that. It’s like, no, you got the thing? Yeah.
Jonathan: None of that.
John: Good for you, man. That’s impressive. That’s awesome. It’s an adventure. Had you not brought that passion with you there then you would have just sat around and not had a great story. Hopefully, by the time you were circling back, the sun started to come up, and you were able to see all the things that you dodged.
Jonathan: I forget. I think I had a little bit of PTSD around that. Nothing comes back to me. I think you have a very good point there and that is that when we live out our passions, it enhances our lives in a way that a lot of people that live “normal” lives don’t get to experience; and the things that we do, give us the juices to keep us going and give us the stories and give us the seasoning that help us stand out from the rest of the crowd.
John: I love that, man. That’s so good. That’s so good because, yeah, it helps you stand out, but it just provides color to things and, like you said, the seasoning. You could eat a chicken breast, and that’s fine, but you season it up well and all that, it’s just so much better.
Jonathan: Might be normal.
John: It might be normal, right, but what’s normal anymore? Good Lord. What’s normal to you is definitely not normal to a lot of people who don’t live in New York City and everything like that. I remember when I first moved to New York. I was the only one who would do double takes on things, and that’s when I knew, when I had lived there long enough, because I just stopped looking back. You would see something crazy and then you wouldn’t even look back. You’d be like, yeah, whatever.
Jonathan: I met a kid from the Midwest once, and I said to him, “Whatever you do, don’t react to anything. Just for example,” I said, “you’re walking in Time Square, and you see a guy in his underwear wearing a cowboy hat playing a guitar. What do you say to him?” He said, “I suppose I would say,” and I said, “Stop right there.”
Jonathan: Wrong answer. You don’t say anything.
John: You don’t say anything, exactly. My motto, when I lived there and when people come to visit, the rule was, number one, don’t talk to anyone. Number two, if somebody asks you a question, the only answer is I don’t know, I don’t live here. Because you’re not from here, how are you going to help them? If the subway doors are closing, “Hey, is this an express or a local?” You’re an adult, you figure it out. Not for me to tell you. If I’m not from here, now I’m going to tell you the wrong thing. You’re going to get mad at me, and that wasn’t my fault, type of thing. So, definitely, what’s normal in New York is, for sure, not normal anywhere. No, but that’s great man. Do you find that more people are sharing hobbies and passions now?
Jonathan: I think, given the pandemic, that the dynamic is changing a little bit, and you are seeing more into people’s private lives, sometimes maybe a little bit too much, Zooming into everybody’s homes and living rooms, the four year old comes out, screaming.
John: Does it make that person less good at their job? It’s like, no, you’re just a real human.
Jonathan: I think, in some ways, it actually has made us more humane.
John: No, I completely agree because we’ve been in homes that we would have never been in ever. I think, coming out of this, should be more taking that and then running with it. Don’t act like you haven’t been there and that this didn’t happen, for we’ve seen the sides of all of us that we work around.
Jonathan: Agree 100%. I know that what I’m about to say is probably going to be too much to ask, from a political standpoint, but at the same time, I also think that it’s the type of thing where, as society begins to understand, oh, that’s normal for them but not for me, and what’s normal for me is not normal for them.
John: Right, and they’re both okay. It doesn’t have to carry over into your judgment of somebody’s work product. That’s unrelated. So, that’s cool to hear. Do you have any words of encouragement for anyone listening that thinks that well, you know, I have a hobby, but it has nothing to do with my job?
Jonathan: I suppose what I would say around that is, live your passions, live the things that you really like to do and that give you energy and turn you on. Over time, you’re just going to end up dropping little bits and pieces about yourself and introducing yourself to people in a way that’s going to share a part of your life that’s very important to them and for them to know and, at the same time, also encourages them to open themselves up to you. It’s that personal knowledge about who people are, that, in my opinion, are going to reduce the barriers around knowing each other and to develop, dare I even say, a form of intimacy, a professional intimacy, knowing about each other and how each other operates and that we’re people beyond what the workplace actually is or looks like.
John: Do you feel like, throughout your career — I mean, I remember when we talked before, early on in your career, didn’t really share so much the cycling or whatever because it had no –there’s no charge code for this, type of thing. Do you feel like, now, work is different, in a way?
Jonathan: I suppose a little bit. The bicycling is one of those things that I’m passionate about, but I don’t necessarily need to tell people that, hey, I’m a bicycling nut. At the same time, it absolutely comes up. John, because I have my own business, there are two directions that I face. The one direction is facing and working with my clients. Sometimes I’ll have that especially with them. Then I have my team that works with me.
I think that what happens with my team is that, number one, they know it in part because they can see it sometimes on our video calls, the bike up there on the wall in the background; and just as we’re catching up on our weekly team meetings, it’s, hey, what did you do this past weekend? What are you doing? What’s going on in your life? Knowing what’s going on in my team’s lives is important to me. I also think that a part of that is me sharing with them what is happening.
Whether I think of myself this way or not, I am the leader of my company, and my company is going to have my DNA and my personality. How I behave around my company is important, and to me, to be able to say, we all have activities that happen outside of work — in fact, one of the things that I tell them is, “Listen, we don’t live to work. We work in order to provide people a service that we get paid for and, in turn, give us the lives that we want to lead, and this is a blessing that generations of humans did not have.”
John: Totally. That’s awesome. That’s awesome that you have that mindset too, that it’s not, hey, we’re on this call, let’s talk about work and then get more work done and work, work, work, work. We’re like, what are you doing, not working? Sometimes people need to breathe a little bit and then have some free time to relax and to share who they are.
John: Before I wrap this up though, it’s only fair, since I rudely started out the episode firing away at you, questions left and right, it’s now the Jonathan Show. You can now ask me some questions. So, whatever you got, I’m buckled in, ready to go.
Jonathan: Are you sure you’re ready for these?
John: I don’t know actually. Now, I’m not. We’re going to do them anyway.[0:15:03]
Jonathan: All right, here we go. If someone gave you a reset button that would let you skip 2020, would you press it?
John: Yes. I didn’t even need to wait for you to finish. Yes. Are we working on that button? Is this a real thing? I hope. Can we make that happen?
Jonathan: It doesn’t exist. Next one, someone offers you a million dollars to cheer for USC at the Notre Dame game.
Jonathan: You wouldn’t take it?
John: No. No. I would not. I would not because I would have no soul, and my soul is worth at least $2 million.
Jonathan: Now we’re negotiating.
John: I’m kidding. That would never happen, but that’s a great question.
Jonathan: All right. You meet a genie, and they offer three wishes. What are they?
John: Oh, wow, three wishes. Yeah, I guess one would be that, related to this message, that I just wished that professionals knew that there’s more to them than what they think there is, and the people around them. I just think that work and life, as a whole, would just be better, like you said, the seasoning. That would be awesome.
Another wish would be that people read my book, and it makes a difference. That, I think, would be pretty cool. The third one, why not, going with the Notre Dame theme, national championship, let’s go with it. I don’t think I have to use a wish on that because it’s going to happen, but I’ll do it anyway. They’ll do it anyway.
Jonathan: If I had gone to the third wish, it would have been, give me three more questions.
John: Oh, see? That’s why I’m not good at this. That’s an excellent point actually. It should have been, I need more wishes. So, when that happens for real, I’ll be ready. That’s awesome. Well, thanks, Jonathan, for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?, so much fun to catch up.
Jonathan: Absolutely, happy to be here and talk with you again, John.
John: Everybody listening, if you want to see some pictures of Jonathan in action or maybe connect with him on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. All the links are there, and while you’re on the page, please click that big button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture.
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