Kesha is an Accountant & Style Influencer
Kesha JonTae’ talks about her passion for fashion, getting comfortable with her own style, and how confidence is a large part of her hobby and career!
• Getting into fashion
• How confidence plays a role
• Her relationship with the senior manager
• Opening up in the office
• How the individual and the organization are vital to a company’s culture
• The culture at HD Supply, Inc.
Please take 2 minutes
to do John’s anonymous survey
about Corporate Culture!
(click to enlarge)
- Read Full TranscriptOpen or Close
Welcome to Episode 309 of What’s Your “And”? This is John Garrett, and each Wednesday, I interview a professional who, just like me, is known for a hobby or a passion or an interest outside of work. To put it in another way, it’s encouraging people to find their “And”, those things above and beyond your technical skills, the things that actually differentiate you when you’re at work.
I’m so excited to let everyone know that my book’s being published in September. It’s available for pre-order right now on Amazon, Indigo, Bookshop 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 and changing the cultures where they work because of it, and this book will really help to spread that message.
Please don’t forget to subscribe on the podcast 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, Kesha JonTae. She’s a tax accountant in Atlanta, Georgia, and now she’s with me here today. Kesha, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Kesha: No problem, no problem. Thank you for having me. I really appreciate it.
John: Absolutely. This is going to be awesome. All right, my rapid fire questions right out of the gate.
Kesha: It’s know Kesha on a new level here. Here we go. The Millennial Taxpert, I love that nickname. That’s so awesome.
Kesha: Thank you.
John: Yeah, absolutely. So, here we go. This is an easy one or maybe not, for a fashionista. Favorite color.
John: Purple, okay, okay. How about a least favorite color?
Kesha: Least favorite color will probably be yellow.
John: Yellow. Okay, okay, fair enough. This is a tricky one, cheeseburger or pizza.
Kesha: Oh, that is a tricky one.
Kesha: Because I love them both. But pizza, definitely, I think edges cheeseburger out.
John: Yeah, yeah, like a really good pizza.
Kesha: Yeah, and I eat pineapple on my pizzas, so.
John: Okay. I’m with you on that. I’m with you on that. That’s okay. That’s okay. How about pens or pencils?
John: Pencils. Nice, okay. How about when it comes to puzzles, Sudoku or crossword?
John: Okay, all right. How about a favorite actor or actress?
Kesha: My favorite actor right now is Michael B. Jordan because he is at the top of my BAE list. I call him Michael Bae Jordan.
John: That’s awesome. We have to try to and get him to respond. I can do my little Chuck Woolery matchmaker here. Would you say you’re more of an early bird or a night owl?
Kesha: Definitely a night owl.
John: Night owl. Okay, all right. How about more Star Wars or Star Trek?
Kesha: Star Trek. I really am not a huge fan of either of them, but I can actually watch Star Trek without being bored, so, Star Trek.
John: Okay, fair enough, fair enough. Your computer, more of a PC or a Mac?
Kesha: My work computer is a PC, and at home, I’m all Apple everything.
John: Oh, wow, so you’re like ambidextrous on that. Nice. I like that. How about a favorite ice cream flavor? I’m a huge ice cream junkie, so I got to ask.
Kesha: Butter pecan, or if you’re from the South, butter pecan.
John: Butter pecan. Okay, there you go, there you go. All right. No, that’s old school. I like that. How about, corporate or personal income tax return?
Kesha: I do both.
John: Oh, wow.
Kesha: I do both.
Kesha: In my full-time job, I’m a corporate tax accountant, so I do corporate income tax. Outside of my full-time job, I deal with personal income tax.
John: Oh, wow, wow. You just —
John: — all the time. That’s impressive. Okay, how about cats or dogs?
John: Dogs. Yeah, me too, me too. How about when you travel, planes, trains or automobiles?
Kesha: Planes. I’ve got to get there fast.
John: Get there, yup. Four more. How about a favorite number?
Kesha: 2, 22 because that’s my birthday.
John: Oh, okay, all right. I like that, very cool. Yeah. I was like, I never heard that one. We need more people born on February 22nd. I cracked the code. I’m fast like that. How about heels or flats?
Kesha: I love heels, but I wear flats all the time.
John: Sure, safety’s sake.
John: I hear you. That’s why I don’t wear heels either.
Kesha: You never know when there’s going to be a fire drill. You don’t want to be caught with heels.
John: That’s a good point right there. That’s an excellent point. How about a favorite movie of all time?
Kesha: Favorite movie, I don’t know if I have one right now, but when I was younger, it was Bring It On because I was a cheerleader.
John: Yeah, there you go. That was a great movie too, really good movie. All right, the last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.
Kesha: My favorite thing. I love everything that I have which is why I’m probably a pack rat, but my favorite thing will probably have to be my clothes because I can’t get rid of them even though I try.
John: Yeah, right, right. I’m not sure you’re trying so hard there. If we’re being honest, just like an intervention, but right now your friends all got me together. No, no. That’s awesome though. That leads right into your passion with fashion which is great. Is that something that you’ve always been into, since you were a kid?
Kesha: I’ve always really liked clothes, but I never really got into style, per se, until I got older and started working and had the money to buy my own clothes and actually figure out how to put things together so that I wasn’t wearing the same thing or breaking out of my uniform. I will say maybe within the last five or six years is when I really got into being stylish and actually putting clothes together to where they make sense and you actually look like you tried.
John: Right, yeah. Your Instagram is fantastic.
Kesha: Thank you.
John: Yeah, absolutely. Did you learn on your own? Do you read magazines? I clearly don’t do style, so where do you go about this?
Kesha: I follow a lot of style influencers, so, bloggers, Instagramers, YouTubers. Personally, my style is, I don’t want to say it’s different, but my style is just like whatever I want to wear. I look at other people to see how they’re putting things together just to get an idea, but I don’t necessarily want to be a carbon copy of other people. I get ideas from other people, but I put things together in my own way to where I like them. Sometimes some people might look at it and be like, hmm, I don’t know what’s going on there, but it looks good to me, so.
John: Is it laundry day? Why are you wearing —
John: — a cap and gown? What are you doing? Are you graduating? No, no, I’m teasing. How much is it on just confidence and, you know what, this is what I want to wear, and I look good, and this is what it is. Because I feel like if you try to copycat too much then that can play with your head, I would imagine.
Kesha: Yeah. A lot of it is definitely confidence because — especially when you’re at the point where you’re just like, I’m just going to wear what I want to wear and not necessarily that I want to look like that person or I want to look like that person, I’m just going to wear what looks good to me, is definitely about confidence. Because, like I said, I can put something on and somebody, probably my mom, will be like, that doesn’t look good. I’m like, well, that’s okay because I like it, so I’m going to continue to wear it. There’s always going to be somebody that’s like, that looks really good, I love that; and there’s always going to be somebody that’s like, I would have done something better there.
When you’re focused on trying to just create your own style instead of copying somebody else’s, confidence really does play a part. I really also think that even if you’re trying to copy somebody else or trying to emulate somebody else, which I really wouldn’t suggest, but confidence also plays a part because sometimes you might put on the same exact clothes that somebody else has on and you might not feel like you look as good as them because they have a different body type, they might be taller, they have confidence, and you might not have confidence. So, confidence really does pull all of that together at the end of the day because when you feel good and you think you look good, then nobody else matters.
John: Yeah, because Cam Newton pulls out some cool outfits.
John: Like a Halloween costume. I don’t even know.
Kesha: Right, there are some influencers out there that the only way they can pull that off is with a lot of confidence.
John: Right, right. That’s such a great point. I think that that translates to work as well, where it’s, you’re trying to be somebody else. That happens so much in the professional world that we’re in, that we’re trying to be somebody else. It’s like, you can still be successful in your own way.
John: Yeah, which I think is cool that you’re living that through your hobby, passion on the side, type of thing, and that translates over to the office, I would imagine.
Kesha: Absolutely, because you have to be confident in anything that you do, whether it’s your job that you’re doing 40 or plus hours a week, especially when you’re in the tax industry.
Kesha: Or whether anything outside of work, relationships, parenting, style. Anything that you want to do, you have to be confident in it, or it’s just not going to work. You may not necessarily be as successful as you want to be just because you will always feel like it could be better.
John: Yeah. Oh, wow, that’s huge. Yeah, because that’s a never-ending chase right there.
Kesha: Right, exactly.
John: That’s crazy. Do you have a favorite outfit that you’ve worn that’s maybe on the edge of where your mom would be like, wait, what, type of thing.
Kesha: I love all my clothes. I love all my outfits, but —
John: As if they’re listening.
Kesha: I love you all. So, in addition to my clothes, I also wear a lot of wigs just to switch it up a little bit because I have natural hair. Sometimes I don’t want to deal with actually having to style it that day or that week, so I’ll just throw a wig on top of it. One of my favorite outfits, I think has to be when I came to work basically all black with purple Converse and a purple wig on.
Kesha: I work in Corporate America, so it’s probably something that people weren’t expecting. My boss loves when I come to work dressed, I don’t want to say crazy because I’m not dressed, but different, right?
John: Yeah, different.
Kesha: So, he always has to remark on my outfit. That was his favorite outfit ever. He said I looked like an assassin.
John: That’s actually probably the best compliment ever.
John: Man, I want somebody to call me an assassin now, like, after I speak at a conference on the review, “He was an assassin.” I’ll be like, oh, my God, I made it. I probably just need a purple wig. That’s what I should do.
Kesha: There you go, just get a purple wig.
John: But, I mean, that doesn’t interfere with your job.
John: It doesn’t interfere with other people doing their job.
Kesha: Unless they’re being nosy.
John: Well, yeah, but that’s on them then.
Kesha: Right, exactly.
John: It’s not like your purple hair plays loud music.
John: I’m in my office, in my cube, minding my business, whatever. That’s so cool. I love how it matched the shoes. That’s solid right there. That’s on point right there. That’s nice. That’s very cool. Are there other people at work that — I mean, clearly know that you’re into style, like your boss, but are there people that share that or you talk about style with?
Kesha: I talk about my style with basically everybody on my team. My team is made up of — there’s seven of us now, and the three top — the senior manager, director, VP, they’re all men, but everybody else are women, and so we talk about style all the time. We talk about fashion. We talk about all the things all the time. We’re really close. Also people that are not on my team that I see in passing all the time, they’ll see me in the hall sometimes and be like, I really love what you’re doing today. It just reminds me, people are actually paying attention. Because sometimes you don’t think that people are actually paying attention to you and so when they come up to you, and they’re like, I really love the way you put that together, I love how you always put things together; it just reminds you that people are actually looking. They are actually paying attention. Oh, I couldn’t wait to see what you came in today. I’m sure, when we finally go back into the office after months of working from home, there’s probably going to be people like, oh, I just couldn’t wait to see what you’re going to look like, what kind of wig you’re going to have on, or what color you’re going to come in with.
John: That’s awesome. Because it goes from you’re just a tax accountant or like a number, to, no, that’s Kesha, and you’re a real person that has other dimensions to you. It’s cool that people notice that. Like you said, I mean, you could hear it in your voice, it motivates you. It lights you up. It’s like, wow, people notice I’m a person.
Kesha: Exactly, and sometimes I do get dressed just to see what people will say. Sometimes I’m like, okay, well, let me see how many compliments I can get today.
John: There you go. No, that’s fantastic. That’s so cool because we should all be able to feel that and be able to have someone say, “Hey, I know you as a person, and I appreciate what you’re doing and who you are, above and beyond just what the work is that you’re doing here.”
Kesha: I will be willing to bet that some people probably don’t even know that I am a tax accountant at my job, but they probably will be able to be like, oh, yeah, that girl that wears the purple wig and all the nice clothes. They could probably pick me out if somebody is describing me, instead of saying, Kesha on the tax team. They’re probably, I don’t know that person. They can say, Kesha that comes in and she’s always dressed nice. She wears a different wig. Oh, yeah, I know her. I actually prefer for people to know me more than just being that person that does taxes.
John: Yeah, I love that so much, and it’s so true. It’s in the intro for the podcast of, it’s above and beyond your technical skills. It’s the things that differentiate you. They don’t even know, but then they know who you are. Even if they came into the tax firm, they’re like, just a whole bunch of tax accountants.
John: It’s like, no, no, we are not. We are all tax accountants who also have randomly different things.
John: That’s cool. I hope, for their sake, that the three dudes in charge of your department will get some fashion tips from you because they probably need it. I’m just saying.
Kesha: Well, one of them, the senior director, he definitely doesn’t need any fashion tips. We actually talk about his fashion too.
John: Oh, cool. Well, good for him, good for him. That’s so fantastic. So, it sounds like it benefits your career. People actually know who you are, and people in other departments. I would imagine, even if you had to go to another department for some information or report or something, and you get there; it’s like, oh, I know you. Now, your friends, instead of just coworkers that are adversarial, almost. Now you’re working for the same team.
Kesha: Exactly. Like I said, they might not know who I am. We could probably email each other or Skype each other all day for weeks at a time, and they probably still wouldn’t really know who I am until I’m in front of them. They’re like, oh, oh, that’s you. Yeah, that’s me.
John: Because the email, yeah, it’s just my signature. It doesn’t have my picture or whatever or what color wig I’m wearing. Yeah, you would have to have 20 different pictures.
John: That’s awesome. That’s so cool. Have you always been like this in your corporate life, if you will? Or is it something that’s a little more later bloom?
Kesha: No. I actually got into Corporate America about seven years ago now, and I kind of was wearing a uniform. I was always wearing black because when I was in school for Accounting, Accounting is very conservative. You should always wear dark colors and things like that, so that’s what I was gravitating towards. One day, I was just like, but that’s not how I am in real life. I’m not the type of person that just always wears dark colors and black clothes and wears the same thing all the time. So then I just started sprinkling in the color and the style and then doing more and more and more until, now, this is what I’m known for. For example, like I said, eventually going to go back to work, and they talk about that we may have to start wearing masks. My boss was like, yeah, Kesha, they make decorative masks now. They go with your outfit, so you can buy all these masks and coordinate them with your outfits. I’m like, I already have some.
John: Right. You’re late, buddy.
John: That’s hilarious. Yeah, you’re right, because like in college, if you were in an all-business class, anyone with color was, well, you’re a Marketing major. You’re clearly not into Accounting and Finance. Now, even when I speak, I like to have, inside my suit linings, just be kind of fun. So, on the outside, it’s like, oh, yeah; but you see the inside, you’re like, whoa, wait a minute.
Kesha: Right, what, what…
John: Something going on there, like, fun socks or stuff like that, where I’m not quite able to pull it off, but if you can then that’s awesome. It doesn’t, at all, inhibit your ability to do your job, so who cares? Or especially other people’s jobs. That’s really cool, yeah, and so that’s great to see. I would imagine that, that just feels better, to be able to dress in, well, these are the clothes that I like to wear, whether they’re bright or not, type of a thing, versus when you’re trying to play a part, like you’re in a movie, that terrible, terrible movie. It’s just like, we are all the same. This is terrible.
Kesha: Right, and I am more of an introvert, so I like to say that I’m an introvert with an extroverted style because my style is always very colorful. Sometimes I do get to a point where I just want to wear black. I don’t want to wear any more color because I’m colored out. For the most part, it’s color, it’s pattern mixing, it’s all kinds of things; but from a personality standpoint, I’m definitely more in my shell. I felt like when I did start branching out to wear what I want to wear, I came out more around my coworkers because I was very to myself. I come into work. I sit down at my desk. I do my job. I talk a little bit here and there. I didn’t really get too involved with everybody else until I started coming out of that shell and starting with all-black outfit with maybe colored shoes and then maybe now a different-colored top from the shoes that I’m wearing and not necessarily so matchy-matchy. People responded positively to it, and now I feel like I can be myself.
John: That’s awesome. Yeah, so it’s just a little bit at a time. I love hearing that. It’s so cool to hear because you feel alive now. It’s literally bringing color to a black and white world, a gray, bleh. I love how you said that, where you’re like tiptoeing into the pool. You don’t just jump in with the most extreme outfit possible. It’s share amongst a little group or just try it out, and before you know it, your boss is calling you out during a big — he didn’t call anybody else out about getting mad.
John: Clearly, they know who you are, which is really cool. That’s so cool. It sounds like it’s a great place to be. How much do you feel like it’s on an organization to create that environment, from the tone at the top, versus, how much is it as an individual just to create your little circle amongst yourselves of sharing those passions or interests outside of work?
Kesha: I think it’s definitely on both the individual and the company as a whole. I think it’s probably more so on the company as a whole to provide that area or that space where people feel comfortable doing that. Of course, then, it’s up on the individual to be able to take that opportunity and do something with it. My team, we’re all tax accountants. People think about the tax team, and they probably think that we’re just super boring. Because accountants are already boring but then tax accountants are probably really boring.
John: Even regular accountants don’t hang out with you. They’re like, no.
Kesha: Yeah, regular accountants don’t even hang out with tax accountants, but our team’s completely opposite of that. Our team is 180 degrees, from the VP who is the biggest jokester out of the whole team. He literally probably sets aside a time where he comes out of his office just to bother people and joke with people, down to the new person that we just hired. We’re completely different. We’re a lot closer, I think, because we have that connection with each other where we can be open, and we can talk to each other about what’s going on, outside of work.
I tell them about everything. They even know about my “side business.” They know all the things. They know about during tax season when I work a second job, providing tax advice for a tech software company. They know about that, too. They even ask me questions. Every Monday, we come in, “Did you have any crazy stories over the weekend?” They’re very good about fostering that kind of environment. So, I think that if that opportunity wasn’t there or if it wasn’t as open, then nobody would feel comfortable being able to go to each other and say, “Hey, I’ve got this going on, or I have this going on,” things like that.
John: Oh, that’s so cool to hear, yeah. Because we’re so permission-based, we want to ask permission rather than just do it. Then no one says anything, and you’re like, oh, well, that was weird. I don’t know why I didn’t do this months ago. But that’s such a cool environment. If your tax department is like that, then I believe that a lot of them are. It’s just that stereotype that we have for engineers and lawyers and accountants and tax accountants and bankers and what name — a white collar type of profession, corporate type of job. We all think that they’re going to be this way, but it could be anyway and still be successful.
John: If anything, I would think that being more you makes you more successful in the end.
John: Because if you dress the same as everyone else, then no one would really know who you were. They would probably forget your name. No one from another department would know, that’s for sure. Or they would know you worked in the corporate tax department because you dress like them.
Kesha: Oh, yeah, her.
John: Exactly. Well, that’s so cool to hear. This is so awesome. Do you have any words of encouragement to anyone listening that has an interest outside of work that they feel like has nothing to do with their job?
Kesha: If you have an interest outside of work that has nothing to do with your job, and you want to bring it into your job, to be able to talk about it. Because, personally, I think that we’re social creatures. Even those of us like me who are super introverted, at some point, we are still social creatures. You have to spend all day with these people, and to not be able to share yourself outside of work with them, I just feel like is very sad. So, if you have an interest outside of work and you want to bring it into the job, whether it be with your whole team or just somebody that you just talk to, then just do it. Just say, “Hey, I have this going on.” You’ll be surprised to find out that other people also have things going on too that it might even be the same thing. I might find somebody at work that is also into clothes as much as I am. I haven’t yet.
John: That’s the next level. Come on now. You’re a professional.
Kesha: I might be able to find somebody else who has some interest in clothing, in fashion or style, not just necessarily clothing, but fashion and style, not necessarily to the extent that I do but an interest in it all the same. You never know until you actually do reach out. If you are in one of those companies that you really just feel like they don’t provide that opportunity for you to share, I’m sorry. I’ve never been in a position like that. I know people do, but even if you just talk to one person and let them know, befriend them and let them know what you’re into, outside of work. Because whenever you meet people, the question they always ask you is, “What do you do?” I think you even mentioned this earlier. The question actually was, what do you do? I’m like, there’s so much more about me than me being an accountant. When I tell people I’m an accountant, they have all these different things of what I do. I’m like, no, I do taxes. They’re like, oh, hmm.
John: Right, end of conversation.
Kesha: That’s it. Or if they can see you ask them questions, they’re not an accountant, or they’re not a tax accountant maybe at the level that I’m at, this sounds super elitist, but I don’t mean to be —
John: I have an Accounting degree, and I am definitely not at the level of tax questions that you are, for sure.
Kesha: Right, and then they either want to ask you a lot of questions about taxes, and it’s like, I’m off the clock, so I don’t really want to answer these questions. Or you can get into a conversation with them, and they really just don’t understand what you’re talking about because they don’t have that level of understanding of the subject. So the way that you can be able to connect to somebody is your interest outside of what you do because — my brother is an engineer, and my mother is in IT. When we get on the phone and we start talking about our jobs, it’s like, alright, okay; but when we talk about other things, it’s a better conversation. That was a long way to say, being able to connect with people with your interests other than just what you do because, like you said, you are more than what you do, so being able to connect to each other with your interest outside of just your job, I think, you have a better connection with people. You can connect to more people.
John: The answer to that question could be, I’m a tax accountant and way into style. Now it’s on you to pick which one you want to talk about.
John: I’m guessing it’s the second one, but at least I gave you some options.
John: It doesn’t matter if it’s for A or if it’s for a side hustle. No, it’s just for fun because that’s what I like to do, and it’s a much better conversation. So, the answer is there’s an “And” in there, which is fitting.
This has been awesome, Kesha. This has been so much fun and getting to know you. It’s only fair that I allow you to turn the tables on me since I rapid-fire questioned you right out of the gate like that. Now it’s the Kesha JonTae Show, everybody. You’re the host, and you could question me.
Kesha: All right, favorite city in the world.
John: Oh, favorite city in the world. Yeah, I would probably say Cape Town, South Africa. It’s a cool mix of a lot of things happening at one time, and there’s wine country, 40 minutes away.
Kesha: That’s important.
John: There’s a lot going on there. There’s layers to it, for good and for bad at the same time, but it’s a cool city.
Kesha: Who would you want to play you in a movie of your life?
John: Oh, wow. Yeah, that’s a good question. There’s the doppelganger kind of people that like, well, that guy looks like you, sort of a thing but, yeah, I don’t know. Will Smith is just super cool, so there is that. Or there are the Brad Pitts or the Hugh Jackmans. So at least, I don’t know, people would be like, wow, he must be way cool. Then they meet you in real life, and they’re like, wait, what? That’s weird. I feel like we should sue. I don’t know, one of those guys. I’m a huge Jim Carrey fan from his acting days. That would be fun.
Kesha: Okay. I think this is the most important question out of all the questions that were asked today.
Kesha: Marvel or DC.
John: Oh, wow. I’m going to really let you down because I don’t know the difference, whichever one has the old school ones. They’re both —
Kesha: Superman is DC.
Kesha: All of the Avengers, Captain America, Iron Man, that’s Marvel.
John: Oh, okay, so then I guess I’ll go Marvel then.
John: Yeah, like Iron Man and the — okay, all right. I was almost kicked off the very first Kesha JonTae Show. Now I know how to answer that question from now on. It was almost like me asking you Star Wars or Star Trek where you’re like, hmm. You’re like, Marvel? Well, that would have worked.
Well, very cool. Well, this has been so much fun, Kesha. Thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Kesha: Thank you for having me. I really definitely enjoyed this.
John: Awesome, yeah, and everybody listening, if you want to see some pictures of Kesha and her style or connect with her on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com All the links are there. While you’re on the page, please click that big button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture. Don’t forget, my book is available for pre-order now at whatsyourand.com. The link’s there too.
Thanks again for subscribing to the podcast 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.