Eric is an Accountant & Basketball Player
Eric Pierre talks about his passion for basketball, his brief career playing with the semi-pros, how he applies his skills from basketball in the office, and why its good to have a passion outside of the office!
• Why he wears Jordan 11’s
• Starting in baseball
• Why he got into basketball
• Playing for the San Diego Guardians
• Assigning roles in the office
• Why workplace culture relies at the top
• How he humanizes himself at work
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Welcome to Episode 319 of What’s Your “And”? This is John Garrett. Each Wednesday, I interview a professional who’s just like me, is 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 your technical skills, the things that actually differentiates you when you’re at work.
I’m so excited to let everyone know that my book is published. It came out two weeks ago, and you can check out whatsyourand.com for all the details. I’m so excited that everyone really gravitated towards it. I can’t say how much it means that everyone did that and is listening to the show and changing the cultures where they work because of it. 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. This week is no different with my guest, Eric Pierre. He’s a CPA and owner of Pierre Accounting in Austin, Texas and San Diego, California. Now, he’s with me here today. Eric, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Eric: Oh, thank you for having me. Congratulations on your book, by the way.
John: Oh, thanks too, man. I really appreciate it. I really appreciate it. It’s been a crazy journey, but it’s just cool to have it out there. We have rapid fire questions. Get to know Eric, right out of the gate before we play some hoops. I got to know where you stand on some of this. Here we go. Favorite color.
Eric: Oh, Blue.
John: Blue, mine too. All right. Least favorite color?
Eric: Probably yellow.
John: Yellow. Okay. Yeah, that’s kind of a weird color. How about do you have a favorite Disney character?
Eric: I don’t know what’s a Disney character anymore.
John: Right. I usually go to the old school classics.
Eric: I’ll say Mickey Mouse for now, because I can’t think of anything.
John: Well, I mean, he’s clearly a Disney character, so there you go. Nailed it. Nailed it.
Eric: All these acquisitions. I don’t know who’s what anymore.
John: That’s true. Yeah, I don’t either about with my book, I got to ask, Kindle or real books.
Eric: Oh, real books.
John: Yeah, I agree. How about do you have a favorite number?
John: Seven. Mine too. Is there a reason?
Eric: God’s number of perfection and completion.
John: There you go. How about are you more suit and tie or jeans and a T-shirt?
Eric: Oh, I’m still more suit and tie.
John: Okay. Yeah. No, I like getting dressed up in a nice suit. That’s for sure, man. Would you say you’re more of an early bird or a night owl?
Eric: Oh, early bird.
John: Early Bird. Okay. All right. How about more oceans or mountains?
Eric: Give me the ocean.
John: The ocean. There you go. Oh, as an accountant, got to ask. Balance sheet or income statement?
Eric: Oh, man. That’s tough. Income statement.
John: Income statement. All right. All right. There we go. How about a favorite actor or actress?
Eric: Favorite actor, Denzel Washington. Actress. I can’t decide between Halle Berry and Rihanna.
John: Well, one’s crazy, and then the other one’s Rihanna.
Eric: Yeah, we’ll go Rihanna.
John: I’m just teasing, man. I’m totally joking. How about on your computer, more of a PC or a Mac?
Eric: Oh, Mac all day, baby.
John: Yeah. Okay. All right. You’re way cooler than me. Way cooler than me. Do you have a favorite ice cream flavor?
Eric: Yeah, rocky road.
John: Rocky Road. Okay. All right. Would you say more pens or pencils?
John: Pens, okay. No mistakes. I like that. How about puzzles, Sudoku or crossword?
Eric: Oh, crossword.
John: Crossword. There you go. Sudoku is how I do my taxes. I probably shouldn’t have told you.
Eric: Clients might be listening.
John: That’s true. Do you have a favorite adult beverage?
Eric: I love me a good Mojito particularly in Puerto Rico.
John: Okay. All right. Particularly in Puerto Rico. Nice. I love that. The last one. Favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own?
Eric: My favorite thing that I have? Wow. It probably my Jordan 11s.
John: There you go. I was going to call your bluff if you didn’t say that actually, because I saw your social media. You’re married to those things, I think. What made you want to get Jordan 11s? Does it take you back to when you were a child?
Eric: Yeah, took me back to childhood and when I was a kid, my parents will not buy Jordans for me, but my dad told me this story recently, the last dance was on earlier this year, during the pandemic when there are no live sports. I called him, and so you know, Eric, there was this one time, where I told you I was going to put in a 50 then you had to come with another 50, so you start mowing yards and once you raise the other 50, so let’s go get those Jordans, and apparently, I said, “No, thank you.”
Now today, I look at my — I have like 37 pairs of Jordans.
John: Right? That’s hilarious. Well, you’ve made up for it. That’s for sure, man. Good for you. Yeah, so that was the hard choice was which Jordans? It’s the Jordans 11s, so there you go.
Eric: Yeah, I love that patent leather, that shine, in those shoes in Orlando series, and when he put number 23 back on and temporarily put Nick Anderson in his place that night.
John: No, that’s for sure, man. That’s for sure. That dovetails perfectly into talking hoops, and yeah, so I mean, I assume you grew up playing basketball?
Eric: Yeah. So my first love was actually baseball. My mom would tell me, I was a big fan of Orel Hershiser and then Nolan Ryan.
John: Okay. So you want to be a pitcher?
Eric: Yes, I did, but I never had control. I was always tall, so the strike zone was too big for me, so I switched to basketball, but I’d love baseball. I used to read so many books on baseball. I have a Homer Hankey from the 1991 Minnesota Twins. I was born in Minneapolis. I used to watch the Cubs and Braves at WGN and CBS after school and during the summers.
John: Oh, wow. That’s awesome, man. That’s super cool. Yeah, and then you started playing hoops and just kind of never stopped for a long time.
Eric: Yeah, that’s about right. Then the secret culture became a thing, and then when I started working, I was able to afford Jordans, but I’d like playing, and when I play, I usually prefer playing with Air Max. Since I play down low a lot and for landing, for rebounding, so when I do play, I play in LeBron’s shoes. But I have played in Michael’s shoes. But I wear Michael’s shoes off the court, but I’ll wear LeBron shoes on the court.
John: There you go. I feel like you’ve done plenty of scientific tests to determine that.
Eric: I still think Michael’s better than LeBron, but well, my body is type of similar to LeBron’s. I’m not built like LeBron obviously. Our body types were similarly, particularly younger. When I wore a headband, I looked like LeBron and I actually have seen LeBron in Akron, and we’re the same height. He walked right by me. I was like, wow, he’s massively big. I knew people who played AAU out in Akron. He’s definitely a great player. People end up appreciating more. I think some of the scrutiny is a little unfair sometimes.
John: Yeah, for sure. I mean, I read something in the debate of Jordan or LeBron and, and it was all of these Hall of Fame players that did not get rings because of Michael Jordan. I mean, it just went down the list, and I was like, wow, I never even thought of that, because I mean, he just completely shut people down. He had a great team too.
Eric: Michael had the best coach as premier defender, Pippen, Harmon, Horace Grant. I think he played with more loaded teams consistent than LeBron, but when LeBron was in Miami, those were some loaded teams. It’s just crazy winning two championships to four years of failure. I just — I don’t know how you call that failure. I mean, yes. That’s the 2011 series when LeBron would not post up midget J. J. Barea was quite — I’ve seen clips of that. They get the lucky shot. In game 6, it’s the Spurs but Michael had some luck. I mean, I think I was ’98. Steve Kerr doesn’t offensive rebound. There you go down 2-0, and then you’re going to lose that series to five.
John: That’s hilarious. You called that guy a midget. He’s like 6’5” probably.
Eric: No. MJ is not — no, I think he’s barely six feet. He’s a small guy.
John: Yeah, because I remember in college, Notre Dame had just switched to the Big East. It was Allen Iverson at Georgetown, Kerry Kittles at Villanova, and Ray Allen at UConn, and John Wallace at Syracuse, and it was just like, yeah, I mean, it was crazy how good these guys were. It’s cool that later on in life, you played some semi-pro and even pro, which is cool.
Eric: Yeah, so it’s funny. Yeah, because in high school, I got cut my sophomore year.
John: That sounds like a Michael Jordan story. Here we go. Here we go.
Eric: I got cut my sophomore year. My dad told me, so you got cut because you weren’t in shape, and then I started picking up jogging, and so I actually got in great shape, and then I would play, I started beating some really good players. Then I remember my senior year, our star player Adam Hall who wound up playing at Virginia, and he plays professional right now. He was basically 6’5”. He was just as athletic as Vince Carter.
John: Holy moly, yeah.
Eric: I’m taller than him. I grew in college, but in high school, the guy could jump so high, he could jump to my shoulder with his feet. His feet would be on my shoulder. He asked me to play, and I said, no, and looking back, it was over some dumb reasons. We had three guys, 6’5” and up on that roster, if we had slid me in there, I think we could have gone all the way. We would have the best front line in that year. But yeah, I played for the San Diego Guardians briefly. I was so old, and I wasn’t quite in the shape, but it was definitely a good experience.
I got to understand, even though it’s a small level, but I do have clients that play professional basketball, and call them up and it was similar — they go through similar BS and obligations and politics. I got to learn the business of sports in the four months, and talking to guys who play in the NBA, even though it’s a small scale, they go through the same drama. I was really surprised about that.
John: Yeah, yeah. I mean, that’s the thing. I mean, to be a professional athlete, I mean, until you make the bigs, I mean, then it’s great and cushy, but at those lower levels as you’re paying your dues and working your way up, and I mean, they’re all really good players. I mean, it’s the same with baseball as well, and you’ve taken Greyhound buses, and you’re staying in like days in, and who knows what. For you, I mean, you’re probably half your feet are hanging off the bed. It’s just, it’s brutal, man, and they’re all good players. That’s the thing is we don’t appreciate the professionals that we see on TV. We’re like, oh, that guy sucks. It’s like, no, he’s actually really — there’s really a statue of him in his town.
Eric: If you look at, basketball, which is my sport, if you take the 12th guy, the 12th guy was one of the best players in his college program. His number may be retired at his university.
John: Yeah, definitely his high school.
Eric: Maybe university. That guy, I mean, like Matt Bullard, for instance, he played for Rockets, and people made fun of him. He’s this tall 6’8″ white guy, really couldn’t jump, but he could shoot. A few years ago, I saw him shooting a basketball up the sun, okay? Matt was retired. He shot 30 threes without missing.
John: There you go.
Eric: Even like the scrub pitcher, the regular person cannot hit off of him if he told you what the pitch was and where it was going to land, you’re still not going to hit it.
John: Yeah, no, exactly, exactly.
Eric: Well, fans are fanatics and doesn’t necessarily evoke intelligence for, yeah, I’ve got it. I’ve played ball against guys that have been like 11 to 12 guys, and those guys are amazing. They have a particular role in basketball, not everybody can be their primary scorer. I’ve heard stories of guys — Adam was on a podcast. He used to play against Tierre Brown, who was a journeyman in the NBA, but he was really good. I’ve gone up against Damon Jones but that guy can play basketball. If you get to the highest level, you are that good.
John: I mean, you were close, man, which is cool. Don’t sell yourself short, man. I could not do that. I think it’s awesome. I also think it’s cool that it comes up with clients that on your social media, it says it right there. You’re showing pictures of the Jordans, all that stuff. You don’t hide that and do you feel like the basketball mindset translates to work at all?
Eric: Yes, I do. Because in basketball, if you’re going to be the best you have to be willing to put in the time. Time is obviously, you know, you’re going to practice your craft, shooting. I remember growing up, I used to shoot a lot in my backyard. When I’m in playing shape, guys are surprised the 6’8” guy is stepping out, shooting threes or jumpers and the reason why is because when I was younger, in my neighborhood, we had some really good ballplayers come and play in our neighborhood court. I was 5’10”. I had guys my height blocking my shot all the time. I had to learn to shoot outside. I was never going to get on the court.
I worked on that every day, and the same thing in my CPA firm, if I’m going to do well with my clients, I have to put in the time, I have to train, constantly learn about the advanced strategies, you got to keep up with what’s going on, and then you have to have good — everything has to have good role players. My firm now we have, five people including myself, and everybody has a role and they accepted their role.
A lot of games I’ve played on, I was primarily an enforcer and a rebounder even though I could actually score but for us to win, sometimes, I had to put aside my desire of being a premier score to go defend the other team’s best post player, best swing man, even on a pick and roll switch. They put my energy there so that we can win because me scoring 30 points may take away from our team, because the offense is not going to flow the way it’s supposed to, versus if I’m willing to set a hard screen and also use my fouls on defense to slow guys down to keep them from getting to the paint.
John: I love that. I love that so much and I love that it’s five people. You shouldn’t even have titles. It should be point guard, shooting guard, power forward, small forward, center.
John: Right. No, no, no. I’m not going to ask you who’s who, but I think it would be so funny if you’re like, I’d like to introduce you to my small forward, this is — that would be awesome.
Eric: the Miami Heat PA guy, I could imagine, hey, no, small forward.
John: I’m old enough to remember the Bulls with the Bulls intro music.
Eric: I would love to use that song and have the Miami Hit go crazy. He recently found a basketball. He’s like
John: That would be awesome. That would be so great, dude. I mean, everyone would want to work at your firm.
Eric: I know. I got to get some more revenue by the PA guy. Trevor helped me finally find an embezzlement recently.
Eric: Yes. He’s our compliance specialist manager. We had a contentious situation with a client who had invested money, so I’d ask Trevor and Ben and Kirsty, I need to keep your eye on this client’s account before we roll off, because I think that’s something that he shouldn’t have done. Trevor found the fraud. It feels good
Eric: Man down, man down.
John: A little Mutombo finger wag.
Eric:] but that was a deep shot, baby.
John: Oh, yeah. All through your career, because I know you didn’t start out like with your own firm, did you talk basketball, or were you kind of reluctant to share?
Eric: I did talk basketball when I was at Deloitte. They didn’t like me talking about it.
John: Really? Okay. That’s interesting.
Eric: Well, I think it depends on the team. My first boss, Karen Boris, she’s actually my favorite boss. She actually helped defy the stereotype, because I was very young. I thought that most attractive women were there just for eye candy. She’s tall and attractive, she was married unfortunately. She was so intelligent, but she made sure I stayed on focus on work. I couldn’t really talk to her about basketball.
John: That is interesting because sometimes, it’s just starting within a small circle, or how much do you feel like it’s on the tone at the top to kind of create that culture where it’s cool to share outside of work interests?
Eric: It’s definitely going to be the tone at the top because I know, in my firm today, we talk about anything. There are times when we have to rein it in, but one of my team members recently bought a Lexus. He tried to be slick about it, but I saw him and said, “Hey, why are you trying to hide that, man?” Because I said, listen, that bodes well for me, because that tells people I pay you well enough to buy that.
John: Right, right.
Eric: You shouldn’t be shy about that. You think I’m going to judge you? Oh, I pay you too much? No, I’m glad. I want all of you — in our vision board, my goal is that everybody that works for me makes six figures in the next three to five years, because then we’re doing really well. I worked in a lot of serious environments. I’ve worked with some lax environments, but it’s definitely depending on who’s in charge and then also when it comes to basketball, I think in the last five to ten years, a lot of people, particularly how the corporate people view that because the players are a lot more expressive and individualistic and more conscious.
I think a lot of corporate executives struggle with that, because they will not want their employees to be that way, to be as outspoken.
John: Yeah, but that’s totally different than being a fan of the sport, and being outspoken isn’t always a bad thing.
Eric: I agree, but I’m just saying, I know that certain personalities that are in the corporate — they just want them to shut up and dribble, and Black Lives Matter, police brutality, these corporate folks think that they get paid more enough, what are you complaining about? The NBA’s ratings went down a lot this year. There’s something about the NBA not standing up to China.
John: Yeah, it gets political and it’s silly. It’s a sport —
Eric: Right. politics to my job? I don’t want to see it when I turn on the TV.
John: No, I hear you on that. I mean, that’s the thing like I talk about in the book is it’s up until you’re preventing someone else’s ability to do their job. That’s when it becomes unprofessional, but everything else is fair game. I mean, you want to talk about the Rockets game last week or whatever, cool, let’s talk about it. I mean, you’re getting your work done. Why does it matter? I mean, I feel like you have that mindset with your team as well, and where it’s not all these we have work to do so shut up and get the work done. Every once in a while, it’s okay to take your foot off the gas and be like, hey, we’re normal people.
Eric: You have to because training for basketball or a half marathon, you can’t go hard 100% every single day, that’s just not — you actually break your body down. I allow my team — One thing that’s great. I’m a little bit of a sensitive guy, but I allow my team members to make fun of me. Guys like Trevor and Ben in particular, Trevor used to work with me in another job, Ben’s known me for years. So they’ll make fun of me in front of the entire team. I just don’t care because then they’ve never crossed the line doing it.
John: Right, and it humanizes you. So then instead of being the CEO, you’re Eric, you’re just a guy. That’s another human being.
Eric: I’m just and I put on my pants the same way like, everybody else. Maybe I put my right first then left.
John: You put your Jordan 11s on though, that’s for sure. Not everybody gets to do that. Not everybody gets to do that. Do you have any words of encouragement to somebody listening that maybe it’s basketball, or maybe it’s something else, they have an interest outside of work, they feel like it has absolutely nothing to do with their career?
Eric: It has nothing to do with their career? I would say you should always have a hobby to help take the edge off life. I love what I do being a CPA. This year, though, I was really trying with the shutdowns and whatnot, and not being able to play and watch but having a healthy outlet is important to keep your sanity, because the work is always going to be there.
I mean, whether it’s January 1 or April 10th, we’re going to be there. It’s important to do, don’t get me wrong, but you have to have some me time. You should let people know about these passions, by the way, because when you network, and you start doing the larger deals, it’s not so much about what they can do to do the work. It’s more about fit.
There have been some people that became clients of mine because of basketball, because I like basketball, and we wear similar shoes or we both like visiting certain places. Recently, the meeting here in Houston, and there’s a guy that’s going to be a client of mine. I did not know he was Egyptian, but because I’ve been to Egypt and I’ll say I can prove to you I’ve been to Egypt. He says, I don’t know about that. I’m not here to just throw “Hey, I used to play basketball.” It comes up in conversation. You’d be surprised, when you talk about whatever you like, who you have common things with, because again, our bigger paying clients, for them, it’s fit.
John: Yeah, because so many CPAs can do the job, so many engineers, lawyers, actuaries, architects, bankers, insurance, we have the technical skills, we all have the same degree, we get the same certifications, we get the same CPE, all that stuff, plus or minus, but then that thing that’s above and beyond that, and that’s where your “And” comes in. It’s so encouraging to hear that, that you’re getting clients because you’re talking basketball, talking to shoes, talking travel, and talking other passions that have nothing to do with accounting or the work that’s going to be done.
Eric: Absolutely. Don’t waste your passion, because you might be missing out on some relationships and business transactions that could change your life.
John: Yeah, I love that, man. That’s so great, so great. This has been so much fun, Eric, but it’s only fair since I started out rapid fire questioning you, that now, it’s the Eric Pierre show, and you can now be the host and I’m in the hot seat.
Eric: All right here. Here’s my first one that I love ask everybody. Biggie or Tupac?
John: Oh, man, that is tough. I guess I’ll go Biggie. I’ll go Biggie on that. Probably.
R: I can see that. All right, we got another one. We were talking about this off the air before. Jordan or LeBron?
John: Okay. Yeah. I mean, maybe it’s because I’m old. But yeah, I got to go Jordan. I read an article recently that was debating it, and it was just talking about listed all these Hall of Fame players who never got a ring because of Jordan, and I mean, obviously, it takes a team, but man, that guy was something special. That’s for sure. I mean, even non-basketball people would watch, just because it was Jordan and the crazy things he would do at the time. I mean, the dunking from the free throw line, like get out of here. What are you talking about? Even regular people were like, that’s nuts. LeBron’s more — you have to really know basketball to really appreciate all that LeBron does.
Eric: That is true. And then the last one, okay, here’s a good one. Mustang or Camaro?
John: Oh, I’m a Mustang guy. Yeah. When I was younger, my mom had a ‘68 Mustang and I drove it when I was in high school, and yeah, so like old, old Mustang. I’m more that.
Eric: I wish I could fit in this — I think it was ‘66 GT that Ken Miles drove.
Eric: I can’t fit that one though, unfortunately.
John: We’d have to make it a convertible, and then you just sit in the backseat and drive from there, man.
Eric: Maybe I would love to drive a Mustang if you can make it long enough for me.
John: Yeah. Well, this is awesome. Eric, thank you so much for taking part of What’s Your “And”? It’s so much fun.
Eric: Thank you, John. I appreciate it. Congratulations on your book. Don’t forget to send me an autographed copy, all right? Oh, for sure, man, for sure. And everybody listening, if you want to see some pictures of Eric in action, or connect with him on social media, I’m telling you, his Twitter’s hilarious, you should go to whatsyourand.com. Everything’s there.
While you’re on the page, please click that big button do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture and buy my book. Why not? 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.