Herschel is an Accountant & NABA Chairman & Tech Junkie
Herschel Frierson talks about some of his favorite tech gadgets from his Tesla to his video game collection, his home theater set up, and more! He also talks about why it is so important to know the hobbies and passions of your employees with getting the most out of them in the workplace!
• Getting into tech
• His video game collection
• His mancave and home theater
• Improving an experience in and out of the office
• What makes for a better team
• Who helped shape his current mindset
• The artform of teaching young people
• Be okay with the valleys that come throughout your career
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Welcome to Episode 371 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 differentiate you when you’re at work.
If you like what the show is about, be sure to check out the book on Amazon, Indigo, barnesandnoble.com, Bookshop, a few other websites. All the links are at whatsyourand.com. The book goes more in depth in the research behind why these outside-of-work passions are so crucial to your corporate culture. I can’t say how much it means that everyone’s reading it and writing such great reviews on Amazon, and more importantly, changing the cultures where they work because of it. Thank you so much for that.
Please don’t forget to hit subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss any of the future episodes. I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week, and this week is no different with my guest, Herschel Frierson. He’s a partner-elect come April 1st with Crowe in their Indianapolis office, and the chairman of the National Association of Black Accountants, and now he’s with me here today. Herschel, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Herschel: Oh, I am so excited. Thanks for the opportunity, and ready for having a enjoyable conversation.
John: This is going to be so much fun. We chatted before, and we’ll recreate the magic for everyone to hear now. You’re awesome. We have these 17 rapid-fire questions, just to get to know Herschel on a new level here, right out of the gate. I’ll start you with the easy one, favorite color.
John: Red. Okay, all right. How about a least favorite color?
Herschel: Oh, God. I will say yellow.
John: Yellow? Okay. Yeah, that’s fair enough. Yeah, it’s kind of just there.
John: How about a favorite actor or actress?
Herschel: Oh, man, actor, I love Denzel.
John: Oh, yeah. Yeah, so good.
John: I really love Denzel. Favorite actress, probably Halle Berry. I’ve always been a big Halle Berry fan, so, yeah, favourite actress.
John: Yeah, totally. Totally. Would you say you’re more of an early bird or a night owl?
Herschel: I’m a night owl. I’m a big time night owl, yeah.
John: So much that it almost goes into early bird.
Herschel: Yeah. It’s a hard one to answer. You’re so much of a night owl that it’s really in the morning. I’m 24/7, going. I think from a technical definition, I’m a night owl.
John: Night owl. Yeah, that’s hilarious. That’s super funny. More Star Wars or Star Trek.
Herschel: Star Wars, definitely.
John: Star Wars.
Herschel: Yeah, Star Wars.
John: Me too, same. How about your computer, more PC or a Mac?
Herschel: I will say both.
Herschel: Yeah, both. From a work perspective, definitely PC, but personal, I will say a Mac. Both have positives on both side, so I will say both.
John: Yeah, asking a tech guy that question is loaded. That’s unfair of me. How about a favorite ice cream flavor?
Herschel: Strawberry. I love strawberry.
Herschel: I am a strawberry man to its core.
John: Not the vanilla with the strawberries, it’s strawberry ice cream.
Herschel: I have gotten actual strawberries on strawberry ice cream. I can eat strawberry anything all day long.
John: That’s fantastic. That’s fantastic. This is a tricky one, favorite season, summer, winter, spring or fall.
Herschel: I’ll say summer. I love to get outside, just do things outside, so I will say summer, just windows down, riding around, just feeling good. Wintertime, no, because I don’t like to shovel snow.
Herschel: In the wintertime, there’s too much work.
John: It is too much work. It’s always cold. It’s always trying to — you’ve got more layers. I agree. I agree. How about balance sheet or income statement?
Herschel: Income statement.
John: Okay, there it is. It’s show me the money.
Herschel: Yeah. Where’s the money at? Where’s the money at? Where do we end?
John: There you go. There you go. How about a favorite sports team?
Herschel: Colts, Indianapolis Colts.
John: All right. How about, since the accounting background, favorite number?
John: Three. Is there a reason?
Herschel: Yeah, various reasons. The best things come in threes, so I love the number three. Often, whenever I’m picking out a number, it’s usually the number three.
John: No, I like it. I like it. Here’s a good one, cheeseburger or pizza.
Herschel: Oh, my God. What are you doing? Cheeseburger.
John: Cheeseburger? Okay. All right. That’s a tough one, right?
Herschel: With pizza, I do get Meat Lover’s.
John: Oh, there you go. It’s like a cheeseburger on the pizza.
Herschel: Oh, yeah. If I had to choose, definitely the cheeseburger.
John: All right, all right. My book audio version’s coming out in about a month. Do you like Kindle, real book or audio version?
Herschel: Audio version.
John: Audio. Okay. Yeah, you can speed up the voice to make it —
Herschel: Yeah, audio, definitely audio.
John: There you go. How about a favorite adult beverage?
Herschel: I’m going to be truthful with you. I have never drank in my life.
John: Oh, there you go. All right.
Herschel: I’ve got a natural high, a natural sugar high.
John: Strawberry soda?
Herschel: I feel like a double shot of Sprite on the rocks.
John: There you go. Okay. All right. That works. Last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.
Herschel: I will say a Tesla.
John: A Tesla, there you go.
Herschel: The favorite thing I own right now is my Tesla.
John: When you’re a kid in gym class, favorite activity from gym class.
John: Oh, solid. They don’t even let you play anymore, I don’t think.
Herschel: I know, but that was a way for me to get back at the bigger kids. I was quick to dodge it. I was like, yeah, if you mess with me, I’m going to —
John: You learn some much about life.
Herschel: Oh, man, I was a dodgeball fiend.
John: Yeah. One more, Sudoku or crossword puzzle.
Herschel: Crossword puzzle.
John: Crossword? All right. Yeah. Then we went into the last one, what’s your favorite thing you own, which is perfect for, obviously, like in tech, Tesla’s everything in one right there. That’s got to be — I mean, it’s an experience. Yeah?
Herschel: Yeah. I love technology, love innovation, love gadgets. It’s my dream car, number one, but to your point, John, it is. It brings in my passion outside of work, my hobby, I guess you would call it, of just technology and gadgets. I love the innovation around it, love that it can drive itself. I’m always studying up on it. What is going to come down the pipeline next is going to go to my car. I just love gadgets, and the Tesla, to your point, just really encompasses everything. We talked about my favorite season, summer, driving around, summertime, in your car, with the music blaring, I love it.
John: Or getting driven around.
Herschel: Or getting — yeah, driving me around, even better. Right.
John: That’s even better. That’s awesome. Did you grow up — were you always into techie stuff, or was it something you got into later?
Herschel: I think I always was around involving tech. I remember in grade school when the Nintendo first came out.
John: Oh, yeah.
Herschel: I just was like, I gotta have a Nintendo. There was a Sega Genesis, all of that.
John: And then PlayStation, yeah.
Herschel: And then PlayStation and everything. So, over time, over the years, just always had the video games, the technology behind that, just was always fascinating to me. Look where we’re at today, right? Who knew, when the Nintendo came out, where we’d be at today?
John: That’s awesome. I’m not going to brag, but I have the original Nintendo that I got when I was in sixth grade, I think, fifth grade. It’s amazing in surround sound. The gun doesn’t work on the flat screens, but everything else is amazing. It’s just awesome. Now, because of the tech, you can fit 500 games on one cartridge.
Herschel: Yeah. No, it’s just amazing. I remember going to arcades. There was one machine called the Colecovision that I had.
John: Oh, yeah.
Herschel: The Commodore 64. It was all of that, just leveled up.
John: Yeah, that’s super cool. Super cool. Now that you’re an adult, it’s got to be even better because you don’t have to save up your allowance or ask permission. It’s just, I just go get it.
Herschel: Happy wife, happy life but, yeah, still to the day, I get one of the new Xbox Series X. I have that. I have the PlayStation 5 as well. I have both machines.
John: Oh, wow.
Herschel: Like you were saying, I have Macs, I have PCs. I have the Oculus 2, which is the virtual reality. Look, if it comes out, I’m going to buy it. That is my guilty pleasure, and I’m okay with it. The first step is admission. I have admitted.
John: Right, but it’s what lights you up. It goes beyond video games, I know for sure. Obviously, the Tesla, but…
Herschel: The Tesla. I’m sitting here in my man cave. I built out a small theater. I have a small theater, home cinema here in my man cave. I have a Sony 4K projector with 115-inch screen.
John: Oh, my goodness.
John: That’s 10 feet almost.
Herschel: Yeah, almost that. I have 11 speakers, two subwoofers. I have my own home theater in my man cave. I like movies as well, but I just love the immersive sound. My wife was like, why do you need 11 speakers? I was like, well, why not? Right?
John: Right? Because we can’t fit 12, that’s why.
Herschel: Yeah. If I can get more, I will put more, yeah. I just enjoy just feeling like I’m immersed in something like a movie. With the big screen, with the speakers, you really feel you’re immersed in the movie. We talked about watching the Star Wars movie. It’s just so much fun, so much fun. I have all the gadgets associated with the home theater, home cinema setup, so it’s lovely.
John: No, that’s awesome, man. The whole man cave, you’re like Iron Man, Batman. I don’t know. You just —
Herschel: Yeah. Well, biggest fights, DC or Marvel, and I always say both. Both. It’s okay to like both. I love playing the Marvel and the DC movies on the big screen with all the the sound immersive around you. It’s great. So, I have my own man cave. I have photographs and memorabilia, just a true man cave. I’m appreciating the opportunity for me to have this.
John: Totally. Do you feel like — I mean, a lot of times, people think of these as hobbies or passions that are just outside of work. They don’t really — do you feel like any of that gives you a skill or somehow impacts your career when you step in the office?
Herschel: Oh, yeah, definitely. I think it’s all about, we, as accountants, consultants, we talk about my little home theater I built, ultimately what I wanted to do was better my experience. How am I going to make it look better? I bought a 4K projector? How am I going to make it bigger? Bought a big screen. How am I going to make it sound like I’m in the movie theaters, at home? I connected 11 speakers and two subwoofers.
That’s kind of translating into work. What are you going to do to better your experience with your client? They’re coming to you. It’s all about, how can I value-add? It’s like what I’m doing at home. What does that value-add, someone coming over to the house or me watching the movies, that value-add, making it that much better? Same thing with work, what am I going to do that’s going to value-add? I’m going to go that extra mile. Instead of putting seven speakers on, go that extra mile and do 11.
John: Right. Right.
Herschel: It’s all about that value-add. You take that from home to work and work to home. They intersect with each other.
John: Yeah, I love that so much, so much because, yeah, that’s what you’re doing. It’s just that mindset, really, that you have outside of work that you also have it at work, and looking at things differently, how can I make it better and a better experience and, like you said, that value-add. It’s not just lip service. It’s for real.
Herschel: It’s got to be a passion. You’ve got to enjoy it. When I am hooking up and doing four, five hours worth of work in my home theater of connecting the speakers and making sure it’s sound right, it’s work, but you’re smiling. It’s the same thing with work. With your work, you hope you — and I found that passion in accounting, of, no matter how many hours you put in and no matter how hard it is, at the end of the day, you’re still smiling. We’re going to have our ups and downs in our career, but at the end of the day, you’re happy.
I can tell young professionals, I’m enjoying what I’m doing, enjoying the opportunity to have these conversations with you, John. Same thing, just at work, I put work in my home theater, my passion, my hobby. Not only at work, with the chairman of the National Association of Black Accountants, doing that volunteer work, you’re putting the work in, but you smile doing it. You don’t mind that extra time because you’re trying to make your profession better. You’re trying to help your clients better. That’s what I gained from my passion and my hobby at home.
John: Yeah, totally. When I talk to people, it’s setting up the home theater, finding a new tech gadget and figuring out how it works or what the new app that’s coming down from Tesla headquarters or whatever. That lights you up every time, 100% of the time. Work sometimes lights you up, but sometimes, let’s be honest, it’s work. If you’re able to talk about those things that always light you up a little bit at work, then that brings some more of the joy for all of who Herschel is, as opposed to just the accounting part of Herschel. So, do you talk about some of these gadgets and all this stuff at work? I’m sure you can’t not.
Herschel: Right. Yeah. Your work life, they’ve become part of your family because you see them so often. I like to just show people what my hobby is, and I like to learn more because it makes for a better team if you get to know who your team is, what makes them tick, what motivates them. I try to listen to those extra things. If I hear someone, like, man, I love donuts; well, you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to bring in donuts one day. If I hear, hey, I really like to golf; I’m like, okay, let’s do a team outing that includes golf.
Herschel: What you hear from the people you work with, it’s important for you to listen to what their passions are, outside of work. Because if you can bring a little bit of that inside of work, it does two things. One, it lets them know you’re listening to them. Two, it just brings a little bit of more joy into their everyday work life. That’s what I ultimately want to do about accounting and bringing a little bit of joy, even from home, into what I do.
John: That’s exactly it because gone are the days where we have to pretend, no, no, work, work is what I love all the time. I wish I could work 24/7. It’s like, no. I’m good at my job, and I like my job. I like the people I work with, but I also like other things, too. That’s totally okay. You don’t have to be shamed into acting like you’re —
Herschel: You’re human. You’re human. You like different things. It’s okay to say, I like badminton. Okay.
John: Yeah. Great.
Herschel: I enjoy learning different things about people. Because if everybody liked basketball, it gets boring. If everybody likes the same thing, looks the same. That’s all about diversity and inclusion. Everybody looking the same, talking the same, liking the same things, there’s no innovation. There’s no creativity. There’s no coming together as a team.
When you have different people have different passions, outside of work, it’s just exciting. It’s exciting for me. I just love to understand how people work, how people operate, outside of work, because at the end of the day, I want to pull that into work to make them a better person, make that team a better person, and hopefully, it reflects on our client.
John: Yeah, exactly. Where did you get this mindset from? Because it clearly wasn’t the way it’s always been done. I had plenty of managers somewhere like you and some, the exact opposite. Was it someone that you learned from before you? Or just, this is how I am, and I’m bringing it to work?
Herschel: I think early on in my career, I was lucky enough to have people surround me. I will say, one of my, what I will say, passions is diversity, equity and inclusion in accounting. I joined the National Association of Black Accountants when I first graduated from Butler and had so many people who mentored me, who taught me how to enjoy life, who taught me how to be successful in my career. I learned it from them. There were some people, volunteered and mentored me and gave up their time, so I’ve been doing the same myself.
Luckily, I’m chairman of the — 27th chairman of the Board of Directors for the National Association of Black Accountants. If I could help bring that passion into accounting like my mentor did for me when I first graduated from college, it’s wonderful. It’s helping individuals find their passion in the accounting and finance profession.
So, I learned it early on, from people who mentored me, and I’m trying to do the same. Just, what can I do to get that passion, that drive out of you? Because you can have that in the accounting and be successful. At the end of the day, I’m trying to be a cheerleader for you, to be a cheerleader for your career.
John: Yeah, and just for you as a whole person. I’m cheerleading your accounting career. I’m also cheerleading your marriage. I’m cheerleading your hobby.
Herschel: Your personal life. I want you to be happy because if you’re, at the end of the day, if you’re happy, then I know I’m going to get the best out of you.
John: Yep, exactly.
Herschel: If you’re not happy at home, that’s going to come to work. Just like, if you’re not happy at work, that’s going to go home.
Herschel: You don’t want either of those, right? So, whatever I can do, A, to bring happiness to you, no matter how difficult it may be at times, I’m doing part of what I want to do of just increasing the opportunity for you to be a better person, to be a better leader within the organization, within the firm. It’s worth the joy I get at this point in my career. What can I do to bring passion and joy and opportunities for you?
John: Totally, and I feel like the work will get done. We’ll always get the work done. It’s just, the hobbies won’t always get done because those are the first things that we put on the side or the back burner or forget about. Before you know it, you’re 40 years later, and you’re like, I forget what I used to like to do, type of thing.
Herschel: Well, that’s why I encourage people too. I’m like, become a soccer coach, become a baseball coach of little league. There’s an art form of teaching young people. I always say volunteer, find a passion and volunteer. Mine is the National Association of Black Accountants. That’s my passion. I always say, if you can motivate and volunteer, imagine what you can do inside the walls of your company and firm.
John: Oh, yeah.
Herschel: I encourage people, find your passion, find your drive, whether it be the Susan G. Komen, whether it be Boys and Girls Club, whatever your passion is. I will say, I’m always like, hey, we love you at NAPA, but find your passion because it’s going to pay dividends not only for you, personally, but also for your professional career as well.
John: I couldn’t agree more, man, and that’s awesome that you’re not only a living example of it, but verbally encouraging. Because so much of us are in that, we were joking earlier, before we hit record, of the permission-based place. So, if you’re verbally giving permission, you’re not –because so much of us are, like, well, I don’t know if I can or not. Well, Herschel, explicitly said, go do this.
Herschel: Give back. Give back to your community.
John: Yeah. Yeah.
Herschel: Once again, if you really like to be a baseball coach, it does me no good to hinder that passion. It doesn’t. If I can help feed that passion, you’re going to be that much more supportive within the firm. Herschel knows what my passion is, outside of work. I’m going to go that much harder for him, inside of work.
John: That’s exactly it. You genuinely care.
Herschel: I truly do. I truly care. Because, once again, if you’re not happy at home or in your social life, I’m not going to get the best out of you at work. If I can get the best out of you at work, I’m happy to get the best out of you in your passion outside of work. That’s so important.
John: I love it, man. I love it. Do you have any words of encouragement to people listening that have a hobby or a passion that they feel like has nothing to do with their job or no one’s going to care?
Herschel: The first and foremost is, we all have time. So often, we say, I don’t know if I’ve got time to do this. When it comes to mentoring, when I talk about mentoring young people, just mentor one person. I’m not asking you to mentor 10 people. I’m not asking you to spend 80 hours a month. Just mentor one young person. Imagine if we can get 50 people to mentor one person.
John: 50 good people.
Herschel: Right? Because I tell them, you’re going to get so much more out of it than you would think. I just encourage people to, who feel like, yeah, it’s overwhelming to be a coach; well, be an assistant coach. So, I encourage people that, you have the time. I just tell people, you have the time.
The other thing is, be okay with the valleys that come throughout your career and your life. They’re going to come. Be okay with that because the upside will come. The sun will rise the next day. We all know that there are going to be rough times. We’re going through this pandemic and this social injustice. It’s up to each and every one of us to personally make that difference and make it better. That’s what I want to do is, what can I do to make this pandemic better? What can I do with the social injustice? What can I do to bring my passion into the profession? That’s what I just encourage people, is you matter. We all matter. Just spend a little bit of time with your passion and give back, give back to your community.
John: That’s so powerful, so powerful. This has been really, really great, Herschel. I appreciate you being on. It’s only fair, since I rapid-fire questioned you right out of the gate, that I turn the tables and allow you to pepper me with some questions. So, welcome to the first ever episode of the Herschel Frierson podcast. Thanks for having me on, man. I appreciate it. I’m all yours.
Herschel: So, what is your “and”?
John: Oh, my “and”. College football is a huge part of my life, for sure, going to concerts, ice cream. I’m a little bit of a connoisseur, I guess, is what you say if you don’t want to sound like you have a real problem. Actually, when I used to live in Indianapolis, I was in Big Brothers, Big Sisters for about 10 years. You’re right, you learn so much more than whatever you’re teaching to the person that you’re mentoring.
Herschel: What do you think is your biggest regret?
John: My biggest regret. Oh, wow, man. This is an intervention all of a sudden. This is deep. My biggest regret, I guess just probably not writing my book sooner, probably getting in my own way, impostor complex of who am I to have this message that changes the way people think about how they work and their work cultures, and just seeing people reading the book and then the changes that they’re making, and just not doing things sooner. The accountant in me is still very strong.
John: The risk-averse, don’t go out on a limb too much, but that’s not where good stuff happens, isn’t in the middle of the lane. You’ve got to push yourself, and it’s okay to fail. The sun will come out.
Herschel: Oh, yeah. You’re going to learn from it. Right?
John: Yeah, that’s the valley, but the sun comes up.
Herschel: My last question is, you’ve done podcasts, you’re doing great in your career, wrote a book, kudos to you; what is next on your list?
John: Well, thank you, man. Well, it was interview Herschel for What’s Your ”And”? We could check that one off. Next is working more with organizations of how to implement this philosophy. I’ve spoken to, in 2018, 2019, it was 10,000 people in the audiences, and it’s simple but not easy. I find that a lot of people go back to work, and they think about it differently, but how do I do this? What are the steps? It’s different for every place, so it’s really working with them to, how do we build this? How do we increase our lifetime value of our employee? How do we make a better employee experience on purpose?
So many organizations and especially, public accounting, law firms, consulting firms, they don’t really think about that. It’s just like, there’s work to be done. It’s like, yeah, but you can make a better experience for your people. They stay longer. They add more value. Everything’s better. Client service is better. So, it’s really just implementing, helping organizations implement it. It’s rolling my sleeves up and helping you do it, I guess, is the next big step. That works, man. Well, thank you so much.
Herschel: Yeah, this was a great conversation. We should do this again. We need to do a check-in in the next several months and see how each of us are doing, and I appreciate the opportunity.
John: No, I appreciate it. Then you’ll be official partner.
Everybody listening, if you want to see some pictures of Herschel’s gadgets or Herschel outside the work, or maybe connect with him 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, and don’t forget to check out the book.
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.