Mary hunts her way to better client relationships
Looking at Mary Yetto, it might not be obvious that she loves to be outdoors. She’s an avid hunter and also a veteran kickball player, both of which have helped her create stronger connections both in the office and with clients. Being an ethical hunter and using patience are skills that directly translated over to her auditing career.
In this episode, we talk about how much pressure if on the managers to create a corporate culture that encourages sharing of hobbies and passions to increase employee engagement. Every new staff person needs to know that their manager is there for them and is supportive of everyone having an interest outside of work. Mary also believes that the biggest barrier to not sharing is yourself.
Mary Yetto works as an Assurance Manager for BDO. Prior to that, she worked at KPMG, then Hartman, Leito, and Bolt (who later merged with BDO).
She is a graduate of Texas Tech University, with her Master of Science in Accounting.
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John: Welcome to episode 35 of the Green Apple Podcast where each Wednesday I interview a professional known for a hobby or a passion, and then we talk about how that’s impacted their career, and some really, really cool stories. Don’t miss any future episodes by subscribing to iTunes or Stitcher at greenapplepodcast.com. And while you’re there, it’d be great if you please just take 60 seconds and do my anonymous survey, by clicking the big green button the top right. It’s about employee engagement, and it’s really helped me out with my research for my new book.
And now let me introduce this week’s guest, Mary Yetto. She’s a Texas tech graduate and has spent her entire career in public accounting, starting with big 4 then went to a small local firm and is now a manager with BDO in Fort Worth, Texas. Mary I’m so excited you’re able to be with me on the Green Apple podcast, but one question I love to ask everyone is just how did you get into accounting?
Mary: Funny story. When I was in high school I wanted to be an architect. I loved the math and the puzzles and drawing and fixing things and doing all that. So then I discovered, “Oh you have to have school for more than four years?” So I said, “Nope.” I decided to be a marketing major. My aunt was a pharmaceutical sales rep. I was going to do that. She’s going to get me a job. Everything was all cool. Then I took my first accounting class and I loved it. I loved the puzzles. I was like, oh, let’s just do accounting than marketing because that makes a lot of sense.
John: Right, using both sides of your brain.
Mary: Yeah. And so I took my intermediate accounting class and my professor sent me — we had to write down our majors — that professor came up to me, he goes, “Let’s talk in my office.” He sets 45 minutes — because I don’t come from an accountant background family. My dad’s a computer science, my mom’s a teacher, and I have a bunch of doctors. So accounting was foreign to me, and he asked me why I did this, I was like, “Well, this is what I am going to be. My aunt is going to help, but I really liked accounting and being challenged,” and I go, “But I want to work with people and I don’t’ want to be in office all the time and all that.” He goes, “Have you heard of auditing?” I was like, “Huh?”
And so he explained that, you get to work with people, you don’t have to be in the office and you get to interact with C-level employees when you’re 20 something odd years old, and move around the country and travel. And right then and there I want to the registrar, dropped my marketing degree and signed up for a master’s in accounting.
John: Oh, that’s so great! That’s so good. I think that’s also hilarious that you were like, “You know what, I like using my brain and accounting,” as if marketing was just a bunch of colors and numbers and paint by numbers and stuff. Which is, obviously, it’s difficult as well but… No, but the puzzles and — that’s so great. And so then, that was sophomore year?
Mary: Junior year.
John: Junior year! Wow, that’s so good. Yeah, and then you’ve been on the rocket ship ever since?
Mary: Yup. Well, I never turned back. I even got my youngest sister on the rocket ship. She’s an accounting major.
John: That’s so good. Yeah, now you can go in at the family gatherings with all your doctors and computer science nerds and be like, “No, this is where it’s at, everybody.”
John: No, that’s so fantastic. Though I think it’s also great that your professor didn’t even tell you about tax.
Mary: Well, he was an audit professor.
John: Oh, okay there you go. That makes it — all right. But he was like, “Ah, you have a personality, you should probably be over on this side.” That’s great, and so obviously, being in public takes up a lot of time and what have you, but what sort of passion occupies a lot of your nights and weekends and something that you just love to do?
Mary: Well, it’s changed over the years. First it starts as — my husband and I met — I got into kickball. Adult kickball. Because I’m not from the Dallas, Fort Worth area, so I had some friends and they played kickball and I was like, “Why not? You can drink and play a game that five-year-olds play? Sign me up!”
I did that for about five years and ended up meeting my husband through it. So I did that, which was — everyone at the office knew. Tuesday’s kickball night, she has to leave the office by five, then she’s going to come over hungover on Wednesday. The entire office knew. I was serious about my kickball. And then, I started dating. And I did that up until I got pregnant with my son and my husband kind of — I’ve always been a very big outdoors person. I’ve gone camping my whole life — the outdoors, I can’t get enough of it. Well, by husband is big into hunting so he had a lease and I was like, “Well, take me with you.” So, I started my hunting passion, and my first deer season, I shot five deer. Using six bullets.
John: That’ll make you hooked. Right there.
Mary: Yeah. It was one of those things that it was — I think between the two of us we had nine deer in one season.
John: Wow, that’s impressive! And you had one more but, who’s counting? That’s fantastic! That’s so cool.
Mary: I do learn from the best, so he is a really good teacher.
John: Yeah. Just in case he listens to this episode. No, that’s impressive — I’ve never been hunting myself because I don’t really have the patience. But I guess if I knew that I was going to shoot something, that I would sit up in a tree at the crack of dawn… but yeah, I would just get impatient and just start shooting random stuff.
Mary: We do that too, sometimes.
John: Well yeah, well you just got to stay sharp, right?
Mary: Yeah. Well, the first animal I shot with him was — we were dating for a month and he took me out duck hunting. Duck hunting really doesn’t appeal to me because you have to lay down and wait for birds to fly over. Well, we kind of do it the fun way, where we tank jump. So we go, and we sneak up on the tanks, and then the birds will fly away and then we shoot it.
We don’t have to sit still and the nice thing about any bird hunting is, you can actually talk, because they can’t really hear.
John: Oh, that’s a good — oh, I didn’t really realize that! Interesting. All I imagined is like, Nintendo Duck Hunt. That’s all I imagined.
Mary: Yeah. With the song playing through your head?
John: Right, right! Then you get three shots and then the birds fly away, and the dog jumps up and laughs in your face. That’s great, that’ so cool.
Mary: Yeah, it’s pretty cool. I have a four-year-old Lab that we’d got when we first started dating, and so he’s our hunting dog. We just got an eight-week-old puppy now that we’re training. And then we have a 16-month-old son. It’s very busy. Life changes when you have a son. This year, in one of my pictures, we took him out duck hunting and he was outdoors. He will cry if he’s indoors and he sees the outdoors. He wants to be outdoors and he’ll run and we’ll pick up beetles and play with them, so.
John: Yeah, that’s so great. So where do you usually go hunting there in Texas, I assume?
Mary: We have a lease about an hour and a half away from my office or about an hour away from our house. We have a camper and go out there and get to kind of do that. I have a deer head in my office and I think I’m the only person in the office with a deer head.
John: Wow, you do? That’s so cool! That’s great. And so, people know right away when they walk in your office?
John: Do they say, “Did you shoot this?” or they just know?
Mary: Well, being an auditor you don’t really have many people come in in the office, but, at first everyone was like, “Whoa!” But, no, it’s funny because when I started all this I would get excited and I’d talk to clients and you’d just see — for being a blonde female — people looking at you like, “You do what?” “Yup. I shoot deer.” When I shot my first deer, there’s a tradition that you eat the heart and put blood on your face. Well, I didn’t eat the heart, but I did put blood on my face then I took a picture and I’ve been serving my clients for — going on eight years now. So I sent them a picture of it and said, “Look, I got my first deer,” so he decided to be funny so he changes the picture title to “Mary’s Audit Uniform”. He replies back and copies his accounting manager, or sends her an email and says, “You better watch out,” he goes, “We better get those PBC items on time.” And that year we got the trial balance the first day.
John: That’s so great. “You thought this was animal blood, this is client blood! That’s what happens when you’re late.”
Mary: Exactly, exactly. “Get me my stuff on time!” No, it’s good, especially around here because there’s — I mean in Texas you go and talk to clients. At least if they’re guys they’ve either been — I haven’t really found anyone that hasn’t been hunting. It’s like the golf of Texas almost — well, people still golf, but at the same time, “Where’s your lease at? What do you hunt? How big was the rack this year?”
John: Wow, if only you could combine the two, if someone could tee off hitting a golf ball and then someone on the other side like, shoot it in the air. That would be the ultimate partner activity.
Mary: Like clay shooting.
John: Well yeah, right.
Mary: You’ve got the clay courses, which is funny. Because now, bringing this hobby into my work and even professional life, I was involved — I don’t know if you’ve heard of the leadership organization where it’s like Leadership Fort Worth, Leadership Dallas. So they had a program called Leading Edge, which is kind of a young professionals class, so did that and I found out throughout the — trying to get more involved out on they… trying to run in about a $30,000 deficit.
So we’re like, “What can we do to help this program out?” And we were like, “What about a clay shoot?” So, starting August of 2014, I started, from scratch with a group — I started playing clay shoots for the organization and learned so much from doing our whole fund raiser from scratch. But, it was really cool because we ended up — it took about probably 13 months, 13 or 14 months to get from being a concept to when we actually get it. I was the numbers person in charge of the budget, but doing all that we ended up making $8,500 for the program in the first year.
John: Wow, just off of a clay shoot?
Mary: Yeah, for the first year.
John: Wow! Yeah. That’s fantastic. That’s so cool! So then you were able to bring your accounting to that world and at the same time bring in the hunting — it was like a collision of all your worlds, all at once.
Mary: Yeah, and we’re doing it again this year so last year was actually we’ve had a lot of rain in past years and so… The week before we were like, “Do we cancel or do we not?” while it was pouring down rain most of the time. We still ended up having about 39 shooters which is pretty good for it to be pouring down rain in the first year. We’re hoping to double that this year.
John: No, that’s very cool. Just out of curiosity, are there any skills that transfer from hunting to the office?
John: Patience! Oh, that’s an excellent answer. That’s something — yeah. And, smearing blood on the face, that one too.
Mary: Yeah. Well, I think being – because hunters, you have to go to the ethics course. You have to be an ethical hunter; you need to be an ethical CPA. A lot of people, they don’t know about hunting is, hunters provide the most fund for conservation in the U.S. You buy your license and then when you hunt — we don’t just hunt to kill. We’ve ate everything we shot and it’s — you learn so much about the animals.
John: No, that’s great, and I’m sure that the patience — and the ethics — those are both excellent answers. I think it’s so cool how, whether it was kickball or it was hunting, how open you are with clients and co-workers. Is that something that you were all the way from the beginning of your career?
Mary: Yeah, a little. When I first get to know somebody you’re a little hesitant. I have that personality where I share what’s on my mind and it does help with as far as getting to know others because when you tell others about you they are more willing to open up. Like with clients is, “Oh, you hunt?” or like, “Oh, I hunt too,” so you get to find out a little more about the clients that way if you share more about yourself and your co-workers.
John: Right, most definitely. And those stronger connections, better work can be done. Like that picture that you sent to your client and then you get that trial balance the first day. It’s like, if you didn’t have that relationship, then you’d probably still be waiting on that thing. That’s so fantastic.
One thing that I think about at times is just kind of in this spectrum of employee engagement and getting people involved. How much is it on the organization to create that culture where people can open up or how much is it on the individual to just create those conversations when appropriate?
Mary: Well from what I’ve found is I think that the organization has this policy — yes you need to open up but I think it’s both. It’s a little bit more on the manager group. I think it’s more just to say, “Hey, I’m here for you,” or when you have people come, they’re going to be scared — I mean, when I was an intern I was scared. Until you have someone that is basically tell a little bit about themselves, then you’re like, “Oh, okay, it’s okay to open up and be able to share my life.” So I think it’s on the organization but I think it’s more of just the people managing the other people.
John: Yeah, right, because like you said earlier, if you tell about yourself then that lets everyone know that there’s a green light there for them to also be the same way, and leading by example. That’s an interesting point, how it’s kind of that manager group in the middle there because I guess they’re a little more hands-on with most of the rest of the staff, where the partners are kind of — whatever they’re doing. I guess hunting. No, I’m just kidding. Right, I think that’s an interesting point.
Is there anything that in the places that you’ve worked that you’ve seen that does encourage people to do that or activities that the firm does to kind of bring people into the fold?
Mary: I know the Fort Worth office. We’ve had a really good group where we’ll go out. When we were, partnering with HLP, we would go out to where the partner’s ranch twice a year for continuing its 4CP. And then one year we actually rode a boat on the lake and did CPE on a boat on the lake. So we’ve tried to make things to where it’s more laid back when it can be. And I think that helps with the staff and the seniors being able to open up more and it’s “Oh, I have to go to work, I have to go to a client.”
John: Yeah, and just shake up that environment a little bit. That’s so cool, was it a pontoon boat? What kind of boat were you guys on?
Mary: I don’t know what kind of boat. It was a big boat but it had all — there was a dual level, on the first level. It’s almost like you could have a meeting there and a PowerPoint. It was pretty cool. We should do that.
John: Yeah, that sounds awesome! I wish every accounting firm would do that, just to shake it up some. And those shared experiences as well are things that you’ll talk about, too; or people will talk about.
Mary: And I know our office, we’ve also had a — some of the guys had been in basketball league. We’ve had kickball league that the firm has sponsored and paid for. And then you can join and we’d bought BDO t-shirts for them and then they could go all play basketball and play kickball against other random teams.
John: Right, right. That’s the thing too, because it takes the pressure off of people that may or may not think that their individual passion is worth anything or anyone’s interested. But then you have these shared experiences and then everyone can talk about them. Yeah, no, that’s really cool — that’s great.
And so, what might be some barriers that — obviously, you didn’t struggle with — but some people that you’ve seen, maybe that you’ve worked with that they’re maybe reluctant to open up, or things like that? What are some reasons that you’ve heard?
Mary: Well, I think a barrier could be, say, I have a very big personality and I talk a lot, so one barrier might be is I don’t let them talk. But I try. I’ve tried to hone that down. Another thing is, there are very different personalities who manage our group and you don’t really click with one manager or anything. It’s hard to really — if you have completely opposite points of view and everything, I know that’s a barrier. But then again you can’t identify that barrier until you get to know that someone.
John: Yeah, because that’s true. I mean, because if people don’t feel comfortable then obviously that’s not going to happen. But as you’ve talked about, you have to be comfortable and then you can create those relationships because that’s when the magic happens, those connections with the co-workers and client relationships that really go through the roof.
Mary: I really think that the biggest barrier is the person themselves. Because, if you’re not willing to open up and be confident in yourself, then we can ask you all you want but if you’re not there and willing to open up then that’s your barrier for people getting to know you, then eventually being able to succeed because — networking is all about sharing your experiences and being confident in you knowing about the other person.
John: I agree totally and that’s an excellent point too, that I never thought of before, is just how networking — that’s just all about sharing your experiences like you said, and getting to know others and then taking it from there. Because if you just stay closed up. Even if you do a great job at work, it’s still probably not enough.
Mary: Not in this day and age. Maybe back then, not now. You have to be connected in the community, you have to be invested in your organization, invested in the profession, invested in your family. You pretty much don’t have time to do your actual job.
John: Right! Thank goodness for computers, right?
Mary: And laptops. And Wi-Fi.
John: Yeah. Right, and take it on the road. That’s awesome. So, do you have any words of encouragement for others that are listening, that maybe haven’t shared before or kind of on the fence?
Mary: Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid that people are going to judge you. I think that’s why people don’t, because they’re afraid what people might think. Be true to yourself. I mean I was adult that played kickball and now I’m a girl that hunts. It is what it is!
John: Right, right. Just own it, right? And everybody knows, Tuesday is Mary’s out.
Mary: And then, don’t plan anything on the weekends between September and January. Because I will not — I can’t work, I’m going to be at the lease.
John: That’s so perfect. You still get your work done, you’re still, obviously, doing a great job and excelling at what you do in your career. Having this passion is really, really cool thing.
Mary: Yes, and I think accounting is probably the best profession to do it all.
John: Oh, interesting. Why is that?
Mary: More so public accounting because I often — I’ve had friends go in the industry, and public accounting is probably the one place, especially in auditing, that you probably have the most flexibility to create your own schedule. Because we’re so remote, we’re so portable now that… I can go out to the deer lease and work from the camper or I’ll be able when my son gets old enough to play sports, I’ll be able to go to all his games and just have the computer when I need to. You think about other places — I mean you probably have set hours. You’ll have month end or whatever. Here, you know your busy time, but then again you don’t have to work from an office, you don’t have to work from the client. You can work on a road trip. I mean I think that, of all the professions, accounting is probably one that’s the most flexible for work-life integration as Tom Hood likes to call it.
John: Right, right. Absolutely, that’s an excellent point. And just, thank goodness busy season isn’t hunting season time, or else we’d have problems. But I think they planned it that way on purpose. That’s the thing is everyone has this — a lot of people have this work-life hobby, passion thing that they do outside of work but I always found that it’s pretty rare that people are bringing it back to work or sharing it or talking about it in any way. That’s where I think that people are dropping the ball is if you have this, then you have to share it. There’s skills that you’re developing that no one else is, or there’s experiences and stories that maybe other people can also relate, that they’re not sharing either. You create these really cool relationships when you do open up.
Mary: Exactly, you never know especially being a hunter, you never know the relationships that you form with guy co-workers or just quiet that, they would’ve never known the typical female that likes to go shopping, which I hate like to go shopping and do crafts — well, I like crafts but shopping’s a no-no.
John: Unless it’s for hunting gear, or something like that.
Mary: Or online; online I can do.
John: Yeah, yeah. That’s the thing is when people make assumptions about people or think that it’s a stereotype then, you’re just shattering that and I think that’s so awesome. So that’s cool. I think we’ve all gotten to know you really well, but I have a rule where we have to do my 17 Rapid Fire Questions before we can decide if I can hang out.
Mary: Hopefully, I pass the test!
John: Yeah, exactly. It sounds like it would be a lot of fun to go scare a bunch of birds and shoot them —
Mary: And then eat them afterwards, they’re delicious.
John: Right, and eat them! Yes, absolutely. But here we go, I’m going to fire this up, you ready to go?
Mary: Absolutely, bring it on.
John: All right, here we go. First one is “Sudoku or Crossword Puzzle?”
Mary: Well, that’s a toss up, but I’d probably weigh more towards crossword. Because I’m really bad at them and I like to improve. It’s more challenging.
John: That’s a good answer. How about “cats or dogs?”
John: Oh yeah, I figured that one. That’s for sure. How about a favorite color?
John: How about a least favorite color?
Mary: The red and green combo. I don’t like those together. Unless it’s around Christmas.
John: Yeah, yeah — like a Christmas sweater.
Mary: Yeah, yeah. Red and green is only allowed…
John: Right. How about “Star Wars or Star Trek?”
John: Neither? All right. How about “PC or Mac?”
John: Yeah, and then “Right click or Left Click?”
John: On a mouse. Right click or left click?
Mary: Right click.
John: Right click. It’s a silly question. It really is. How about, “Do you have a favorite food?”
Mary: Probably venison.
John: Oh, wow, nice. And how do you like it?
Mary: Just steaks, usually.
John: Steaks, okay yeah. Got it. How about “Favorite place you’ve ever been on vacation?”
Mary: Not many places can top Hawaii.
John: Oh, Hawaii’s a pretty solid answer. When it comes to financial statement, how about “Balance Sheet or Income Statement?”
Mary: Balance sheet.
John: Diamonds or Pearls?
John: Do you have a favorite number?
John: 12, why is that?
Mary: It was my basketball number growing up.
John: Oh, okay. That’s a great answer, Twelve’s a good number. How about a favorite TV show of any time?
Mary: I did like White Collar.
John: White Collar, yeah. That’s a good show. How about a favorite band or musician?
Mary: Probably Brandon Ridenour.
John: Okay, all right. How about a favorite actor or actress?
Mary: I don’t have one.
John: No? All right, that’s fair enough. Do you have a favorite comedian?
John: Oh, now you’re just kissing up. That’s a good answer, though. How about “pens or pencils?”
Mary: Pens. Colored pens. Every color.
John: What kind of pens?
Mary: I carry a box with me, a little Crayola schoolkid box, and I have pens of every color.
John: Oh, that’s great, that’s so funny. And how about — last one, last one — “The favorite thing you own?”
Mary: Does my kid count?
John: Absolutely! Until he’s 18. That’s a perfect answer.
Mary: I didn’t know if I would get in trouble for saying I owned my kid.
John: No, no, I’ve had other guys say that as well, actually, it’s pretty funny.
Mary: My kid or dog.
John: Yeah, that’s obviously one of the favorite things that you have. I guess I should change the question from “own” to “have”. Maybe that would be better. That was awesome, and that was it! Thank you so much, Mary, for taking time to be with me on the Green Apple Podcast.
Mary: Oh, of course. It was fun!
John: What a great point Mary made, that the biggest barrier to sharing is yourself. Have the confidence to share your passion when appropriate, knowing that everyone isn’t going to judge you. It’s actually cool and people want to know what you’re up to. Be sure to go to greenapplepodcast.com to see some pictures of Mary and links to her social media accounts, and while you’re there please click the big green button and help me out with my research.
Thank you so much for sharing this with your friends so they get the message that we’re trying to spread, which is to go out and be a green apple.