Sara is a Bookkeeper & Artist
Sara Gibb, owner of Flow Works Bookkeeping & Consulting, talks about her passion for art and why she felt it was better suited as a hobby rather than a profession! She also talks about how her art translates into her work as a bookkeeper and how it helps build relationships with clients!
• Getting into art
• Why she left her career in art
• Some of her favorite works as an artist
• How her art translates towards her bookkeeping
• Talking to clients about her art
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Sara’s Works of Art
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Welcome to Episode 345 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 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.
If you like the podcast, you can go even deeper into the research with my book. It’s available on Amazon, Indigo, barnesandnoble.com, Bookshop, a few other websites, so check out whatsyourand.com for all the details. Honestly, I can’t say how much it means that everyone’s reading it and then writing such great reviews on Amazon and, more importantly, changing the cultures where they work because of it.
Please don’t forget to 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 week is no different with my guest, Sara Gibb. She’s the owner of Flow Works Bookkeeping and Consulting in Chemainus which is on Vancouver Island, Canada, and now she’s with me here today. Sara, thanks so much for taking time to be on What’s Your “And”?
Sara: Thanks, John. I’m really happy to be here.
John: No, this is going to be great. We’ve met in person when I spoke at some conferences, which was really cool, finally got you on, so I’m excited.
Sara: I really like the song, what is it, the one, life in a cubicle or whatever.
John: Oh, yeah, I Work in a Cubicle.
Sara: I Work in a Cubicle. I just love that song.
John: The One Direction parody. Well, thank you. Yeah, that was super fun to shoot the video for it too. That’s awesome. Well, I have some rapid-fire questions here to get to know Sara on a new level here. Here we go. I’ll ask you, do you have a favorite Disney character?
Sara: Yes, I like the little guinea pig, Norman, off of Secret Life of Pets. I actually, in my office, my husband has bought me little stuffies that stay in my office.
John: That’s awesome. That’s very cool.
Sara: That’s very unique.
John: That is. Yeah, I haven’t had that one yet. That’s a good one, though. How about a favorite color?
John: Pink. Okay. How about a least favorite color?
John: That’s a good one too, yeah. How about puzzles, Sudoku or crossword?
Sara: Neither. I like the word find.
John: Oh, word find, that works too. Okay, okay. There you go. Absolutely, that works, absolutely. How about chocolate or vanilla?
Sara: Depends on the mood. Probably I’ll go chocolate, but I like white chocolate.
John: Oh, okay, all right. There you go. How about a favorite actor or actress?
Sara: I don’t say that I really have a favorite actor or actress. I do have a favorite movie, When Harry Met Sally, from the ‘80s.
John: Oh, that’s a great movie, though.
Sara: I love that movie. Watch it over and over all the time.
John: Yeah, absolutely, great movie. Would you say you’re more of an early bird or a night owl?
Sara: Night owl, 100% night owl. I get my best work done between 10 and 2 am.
John: Holy cow, that’s really late. That’s almost back to early bird.
Sara: I know. I know. It’s really, it’s the weirdest thing but, yeah.
John: That’s awesome. Well, at least you know. Because most people are sleeping during that time and not achieving peak performance. How about Star Wars or Star Trek?
Sara: Oh, Star Wars, 100%. I know the whole storyline. I’m a fanatic.
John: Yeah. I haven’t ventured out from the original three just because I’ve heard mixed reviews, and I don’t want to ruin it.
Sara: It’s hit and miss. Some of them are really good, and some of them are just really bad.
John: Yeah, exactly. How about your computer, PC or a Mac?
Sara: It’s PC, but I also have an iPad too, and an iPhone, so I don’t know.
John: Okay, so, a little bit of both.
Sara: A little bit of both.
John: I’m a huge ice cream junkie. Do you have a favorite ice cream flavor?
Sara: Moose Tracks. I don’t know if that’s a Canadian thing but —
John: It is definitely not it, and it is so good.
Sara: Rum and raisin is another one.
John: Oh, okay. Yeah, I’m a huge fan of, how many more chunks of things can we get in? I want my bite to have the most calories possible. Yeah, I love it. Oh, here’s one somebody asked me a little bit ago. I thought it was great, so I’m going to ask you. Socks or shoes.
Sara: Both. I wear slippers all day long with socks on them, and I’m terrible for always stealing my husband’s socks in the winter.
John: Oh, yeah.
Sara: Because they’re way more comfy.
John: That’s an argument starter right there. That’s tough. How about, since you have the bookkeeping background, balance sheet or income statement?
Sara: Income statement.
John: Okay. More oceans or mountains.
Sara: I have the best of both worlds, so I say both. I enjoy both, thoroughly. Living on the island, we’re surrounded by an ocean, and we’ve got tons of mountains and hiking around here. It’s beautiful.
John: That’s awesome. Very cool. How about a favorite sports team?
Sara: I’m just going to go with Vancouver Canucks. I don’t watch a whole lot of sports, but I do cheer for them at time.
John: Sure. Yeah, yeah, it’s like a national thing. You have to.
Sara: Yeah, you have to. You have to.
John: Three more. Do you have a favorite number?
John: Yeah, that’s mine, too. Why is yours?
Sara: I don’t know. It’s just always been a lucky number for me.
John: Okay. How about books, Kindle, real books or audio?
Sara: Real books. I’m a huge fan of — my husband hates whenever we go out shopping, and I want to go to Chapters because it always means that I’m going to be in there for an hour, and he’s sitting at Starbucks with his latte waiting for me. Because I like to open the books and read a couple pages. I’ve got a big stack in my arms that I’m packing with me. He’s like, how are you going to read all these books with your little time?
John: From 10 to 2.
Sara: That’s right, yeah.
John: Very cool. The last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.
Sara: You’re going to laugh at this, but it’s my Instant Pot.
John: No, that sounds — okay, all right. When did you get one?
Sara: I got one — I’ve had it for about two years. I have a couple other accessories like an Instant Pot air fryer and stuff, but I just love my Instant Pot because I can make dinner in like 30 minutes in one pot.
John: Right? Literally in one pot, all of it, just like a stew or —
Sara: Everything in one pot. It’s like the greatest invention ever. I make homemade yogurt. I make homemade broth. You just set it, and you can go work. Leave it and let it do its thing.
John: That’s awesome, very cool. I love it, such a great answer, but we’re going to talk art. How did art start for you? Is it something, as a kid, that you just kept going with or something that you came back to, later in life?
Sara: Well, I’ve always loved art as a child, art, photography, and those kinds of things. My story is a little bit different as, when I graduated from high school, I actually went to do a two-year visual arts degree and then also another degree in photography. It was my goal at the time that I wanted to do something in art and be creative and be a photographer and do all those kinds of things. I went to school, and I got the certificates and the training and all that kind of stuff.
Sara: Then I went out in the real world, and I managed a photography studio, a children’s photography studio, loved kids. When I actually got into doing it as a career, I did find it stressful, and it sucked the creativity out of me. I then ended up falling into bookkeeping, and that’s what I’ve been doing for the last 15 years. I went back to school, got retrained, and doing that, I opened my own business.
Now I find myself, I’m back to painting in the evenings and creating art and doing photography. It’s very much a passion of mine still. I just love that there’s nothing, career-wise, riding on. It’s just something that I can do. At the end of the day, I can open up my painting kit. I can sit in the kitchen. I can paint something, and I can just shut my mind off completely. That’s the one thing that I can do that can shut my mind off completely is painting.
John: It is a huge thing, and why I’m very explicit to people that taking that hobby or passion and trying to make it your job is something that I explicitly say, don’t do, just because it’s so hard to make a living at it. Also, when it becomes your job, a lot of that passion isn’t there all the time, but you have to do it because you have to pay the rent. You have to put food on the table. So, it’s very, very hard to make that leap. It’s cool to hear that you did do it for a while. Now, it’s a hobby, but you’re able to turn to it when you want to, then it lights you up still. I think that’s really, really cool.
Sara: It’s very stress-relieving and relaxing, I should say. It’s something that — my daughter enjoys art and creating as well. It’s something that I can do with her and connect with her too. We both enjoy painting, in that kind of sense, and creating. It’s fun. We’ve done some family projects, like the hands and that kind of thing and that kind of stuff. I’ve done some art where all of us, the family, have participated in and stuff like that. I think that those kind of creations are fun. It’s a piece of each of us.
John: Right, exactly, and at the end of the day, it’s not for someone to buy or for someone to judge. It’s because you enjoy it. That’s what’s so powerful about it, is I don’t care if you think it’s good or not. I like it.
Sara: That’s right.
John: That’s very cool. So, from your art, photography days, over the years, is there something that you’ve created or done that you’re really excited about or proud of, that’s like some of your more favorite pieces?
Sara: Yeah, I’ve created some stuff in college that I really like. I really enjoy charcoal drawing with the live people that come and pose. It’s one of my favorite things to do. It’s very freeing, the charcoal drawing, that kind of thing. I have some of those. A lot of my artwork hangs in my house, to this day, a lot of the stuff. It wasn’t me that — it was my husband who took it and hung it up around the house and felt that it needed to be hung and needed to be seen. I never ever have thought that way. When I create pieces, I always just stuff them in the closet and just leave it. He’s the one that goes around and pulls it out of the closet and hangs it up around the house.
John: That’s cool, though, because why not? Otherwise, you’re going to go buy something from somewhere that’s generic or not as good or whatever. Yeah, that’s awesome. Do you feel like the art, at all, translates over to the bookkeeping?
Sara: I think it does. I think that an artist uses the right side of the brain. Bookkeeping, accounting is more associated with your left side of the brain, which means that I’m constantly always using both sides of my brain. I think that plays a very important role in how I do things and how I deal with them. I’m very meticulous, I guess you could say, with my books, with the things that I work on. There’s nothing better that brings me more joy than a beautiful, balanced statement.
I think it’ll almost look like a work of art, especially when you are doing this huge cleanup job. You pull a balance sheet, and it just looks awful. It’s a mess. There are categories where there shouldn’t be categories. There are things placed where they shouldn’t be placed. The banks are not reconciled. You just take that balance sheet, and you just fix everything. It’s almost like, at the end of the day, it’s like a work of art to you when it’s done. I don’t want nobody else touching it.
John: It’s in the frame, don’t touch it. We put glass on it.
Sara: It’s beautiful. It’s perfect. Don’t touch it.
John: Yeah, get a velvet rope around it, like the Mona Lisa or something.
Sara: That’s right.
John: I can see that for sure. The way that you look at things, that’s the same way. That’s cool to hear. Do clients know about this artistic side of you?
Sara: Yeah, they do. When they come over, they see artwork hanging up. They often ask, “Did you do this? Oh, I didn’t know that you did art.” It brings the funny story and how I did art and how I got into it. Because a lot of people, when they see somebody who does books, they don’t often associate them with someone that would have a creative side also, as well. I think that’s something unique and fun to talk about.
John: Yeah. No, for sure, yeah, because normally, the creative side in accounting is going to get you in trouble, but if you look at it like a work of art, then that’s different. It’s cool to have them ask those questions about that because then you could tell that story. Do you feel like the relationships you have with the clients that ask about the art more are different than maybe clients that don’t ask about the art or don’t know, or before you started sharing that side?
Sara: No, not really. Especially since COVID right now, a lot of my visits with clients are virtual, so it’s really hard to decipher that. It’s a nice icebreaker if you’re meeting a client for the first time. They walk into your office, and they see my artwork. Sometimes they comment on it . Or they see a piece that me and my daughter have done together, a piece of art hanging, and that opens the conversation. That also gives them a little piece of my life, say, hey, I’m not just a bookkeeper. I actually have a life after. I have a daughter. I have hobbies. I’m not a round-the-clock bookkeeper.
John: Which is good for two things, mostly, I’m not going to answer the phone at 10 pm just for no reason, type of thing.
Sara: I may be at my computer working. I’m not going to answer it.
John: At 2 pm, I’m not going to answer, my bad. No, but that’s just so cool, though, that you’re willing to share that side of you. Because a lot of us, for whatever reason, just a thought crosses our mind of, we shouldn’t share that, or they’re not going to care. Did that ever cross your mind at all? Or was it like, take it or leave it?
Sara: No, it never crossed my mind. I think when you share things like that with your clients, you’re opening yourself up to them to let them know that there’s more to me than just a bookkeeper. I’m a mother, and I’m a wife. I’m an artist. I do all these other things. I don’t think there’s no harm in our clients knowing you have this side of your life, outside of bookkeeping.
John: For sure. I agree totally. It’s just a lot of people that I talk to and a lot of the research that I’ve done, there is a part of them that just, oh, I don’t know. No, it’s totally cool. It’s not illegal or super taboo or whatever, for society. No, I like to paint. What do you want from me? There you go. Don’t overthink it, everybody, that’s for sure. Do you have any words of encouragement to people that are listening that might be like, I don’t think anybody cares, or it has nothing to do with what my job is?
Sara: I think it has a lot to do with your personality and your comfort level. The more comfortable you are with your client, the more open you’re going to be. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with showing your clients that you’re human. You’re not just this machine, robot doing books and answering questions. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with your clients knowing at the end of the day that you are human, and you have this life outside of — because maybe they have a hobby and passion that they will want to share with you. Oh, you like painting. I love painting too. Here’s a great art show to go to, that kind of thing. There’s nothing wrong with having those conversations.
John: Especially in the bookkeeping space, in accounting, a lot of professional services even, it’s a bit of a commodity. What makes you sticky to those clients is not necessarily, hey, I’m really good at bookkeeping, because so is a lot of people are really good at bookkeeping; but I’m really good at bookkeeping, and I love painting. They get to see that human side, and I’m a mom, and I’m a wife, and these other dimensions to who you are. That’s where those connections are made, above and beyond just the work. Because I’m assuming that you’re good at bookkeeping. I didn’t need to ask. It’s your job. It’s okay. I think that’s so cool that it’s really something that everyone could start tomorrow. Well, I guess it is New Year’s Eve, so maybe not tomorrow, but next week, after you recover from New Year’s Eve.
Sara: A good New Year’s resolution.
John: Oh, there you go.
Sara: If you believe in those. Some people don’t.
John: Well, start believing now and just do it. Come on, everybody, just do it. That’s awesome. Well, Sara, this has been so great and so many great ideas and takeaways for people to just look at things differently.
I feel it’s only fair, since I rudely questioned you right out of the beginning with my rapid-fire questions, I’m going to turn the tables and welcome everyone to the first episode of The Sara Gibb Podcast, Flow Works Bookkeeping and Consulting podcast. I don’t know what we’re going to call it, but I’m the first guest. Thanks for having me on. Whatever questions you have, fire away.
Sara: Dog or cat.
John: Dog, hands down.
Sara: Yeah, me too. Favorite color.
John: Blue. Yeah, I’ve always, always liked blue and really all shades of blue. It’s not even a specific — because I love a dark navy. I love royal. I love a teal even, just all the blues.
Sara: Favorite binge show on Netflix.
John: Oh, wow. Okay.
Sara: We all have one. Mine’s Friends.
John: Oh, Friends. Yeah, well, there’s a lot of those, that’s for sure. Shows that I’ve binged in the past, Breaking Bad, Homeland and, well, there’s one. It’s called Yellowstone. It’s got Kevin Costner in it. That’s a pretty good one, too. Most recently though is Queen’s Gambit.
John: That one was really good. I also enjoy playing chess, so I get that, but even my wife doesn’t play chess, and she still — it’s a cool, interesting story of, actually, it’s a woman who broke a lot of barriers in gender for chess, but also as an American beating Russians and stuff. Yeah, it’s cool. It takes place in the mid to late ’60s, so it’s kind of a cool time anyway, with the fashion and all that stuff too. Yeah, Queen’s Gambit, it was pretty good. You’ve got one more, or is that it?
Sara: Favorite season.
John: Favorite season is fall. It’s perfect temperature. There’s colors. College football is happening, all the good things. Thanksgiving is in Fall. You can just eat and eat and eat and eat and not have to worry about the pressure of presents. The Fall is, by far, the best for me, yeah, hands down.
That’s cool. Well, thank you so much, Sara, for taking time to be on What’s Your “And”? This was super, super fun.
Sara: Yeah, this is great. I enjoyed chatting with you.
John: Awesome, and everybody listening, if you want to see some pictures of Sara’s work or outside-of-work pictures or connect with her on social media, be sure to 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 don’t forget to check out the book.
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.