Kerry is a CEO & World Traveler & Dog Lover
Kerry Crockett, CEO of IASA, talks about her passions for traveling the world, helping animals, and how these passions and her career both require compassion and building relationships!
• Getting involved with the Humane Society
• Traveling with her family as a child
• Favorite places she has visited
• How her passions translate to her role as a CEO
• The culture at IASA
• Leading by example
Please take 2 minutes
to do John’s anonymous survey
about Corporate Culture!
(click to enlarge)
- Read Full TranscriptOpen or Close
Welcome to Episode 389 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, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop, a few other websites. All the links are at whatsyourand.com. If you want me to read it to you with this voice, look for What’s Your “And”? on Audible or wherever you get your audio books.
The book goes more in-depth with the research behind why these outside-of-work passions are so crucial to your corporate culture, and 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.
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, Kerry Crockett. She’s the CEO of the Insurance Accounting and Systems Association, that’s the IASA, and now she’s with me here today. Kerry, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Kerry: Thank you, John, appreciate you having me. I’m looking forward to a great conversation with you.
John: This is going to be so much fun. I have my rapid-fire questions out of the gate here, get to know Kerry on a next level here. I’ll start you out with a pretty easy one, favorite color.
John: Red. Okay. All right.
Kerry: Oh, yes, red, the brighter the better.
John: Oh, okay, okay. How about a least favorite color?
Kerry: Probably grays.
John: Oh, interesting. All right. Yeah. How about a favorite Disney character?
Kerry: Wow. Probably… Gosh, there’s so many of them that I like, but probably, I like Bambi and none of the princesses necessarily, but the animal ones, for sure.
John: Oh, I see where this is going. All right. All right. Definitely. How about pizza or hamburger?
John: Yeah, good answer. That was a trick one. That is the right answer.
Kerry: You can’t go wrong either way.
John: No, you really can’t. You really can’t. Do you have a favorite actor or actress?
Kerry: Meryl Streep definitely comes to mind.
John: Oh, yeah.
Kerry: Powerful. Yeah, absolutely brilliant.
John: Yeah, solid answer. More Star Wars or Star Trek?
Kerry: Probably neither.
John: Neither. Fair enough.
John: Fair enough. Yeah, totally. Your computer, more of a PC or a Mac.
John: Yeah, me too.
Kerry: Yeah, I’m a basic girl.
John: Right. Let’s just get this done. How about first concert you went to?
Kerry: With my big brother.
Kerry: Yeah, my big brother and two of his friends. I was the little sister tag-along, and it was fabulous.
John: That’s amazing. Wow, that is awesome. Very cool. How about a favorite ice cream flavor? I’m a huge ice cream junkie.
Kerry: Oh, probably pineapple or coconut or both together.
John: Oh, wow. Okay. Nice. How about, do you have a favorite day of the week?
Kelly: Well, obviously, Friday. That means you’re getting into the weekend.
John: Right? Okay. Fair enough. Fair enough. That works. How about a favorite animal, any animal at all?
Kelly: Oh, probably a dog.
John: Still a dog? Okay. All right.
Kelly: Yeah, still probably a dog.
John: That works.
John: Yeah, yeah. Totally, and it’s not going to eat you.
Kerry: Well, that depends too.
John: Well, I guess that’s true. I guess that’s a good point. How about books, audio version, e-book or real book?
Kerry: Real books. I like to turn the page. I like to feel it in my fingers. Yeah.
John: Yeah, yeah. I’m the same way on that. Would you say you’re more of an early bird or a night owl?
Kerry: You know what, I used to be a night owl. The older I get, I find myself becoming more of an early bird.
John: Right? It’s weird like that, right?
Kerry: I just can’t sleep like I used to.
John: No. It’s weird. Then you wake up early, and you’re like, I don’t even want to wake up early.
Kerry: I know. It’s true.
John: This is Saturday. Why am I waking up early? Ay-ay-ay. I’m glad to see I’m not the only one. All right, two more, two more, or three more rather. Favorite number.
John: Is there a reason?
Kerry: It goes way, way back. I’ve just always liked the number, and it actually ended up being my husband’s favorite number as well. Now we use it when we want to say I love you. We just say 22. If we’re texting each other, it’s quick.
John: Nice. I like that. That’s fantastic. Oh, this is a good one. We’ve got two more. Since you’re in Georgia, tea or sweet tea.
Kerry: Tea, unsweet tea. I can’t do sweet tea anymore.
John: Well, sweet tea down there is hoo!
Kerry: Yes, it is.
John: It’s sugar.
Kerry: It’s sugar.
John: It’s sugar that’s brown.
Kerry: That’s true.
John: I feel teeth falling out as I drink it.
Kerry: Too sweet.
John: Oh, yeah. It’s amazing. Last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.
Kerry: Well, I don’t know that I actually own them, but I would have to say my puppies, my dogs. Yeah.
John: Oh, yeah.
Kerry: They own me, for sure, but they’re my favorites, outside of my hobby, of course.
John: The favorite thing you have.
John: That’s cool. What kind of puppies are they?
Kerry: I’ve got some rescues. One is a Deer Head Chihuahua, and one is a Husky-Shepherd mix.
John: Oh, wow. That’s awesome.
Kerry: A big girl and little girl.
John: Yeah, I was going to say that’s quite the mix.
John: That leads right into the Humane Society work and just being a dog lover in general. Did you grow up with dogs? Or was it something that you just picked up later?
Kerry: Oh, no, I have always been an animal lover. I can recall, one of my earliest memories is actually going up to a big dog. I can’t recall what kind it was. It actually jumped on me, pushed me down, and I couldn’t wait to get back up and pet it again. That was when I was, I think, three years old. That’s my earliest memory.
John: For sure. My parents had a dog when I was born, and we always had dogs for the most part, except for maybe a little pause in between sort of thing. Yeah, dogs are, they’re just great. They’re always excited to see you and happy around and always up for a walk or whatever is happening. They’re so smart too. It’s crazy how they pick up on our patterns. I’m like, am I that lame? I’m that predictable? You know what we’re doing?
Kerry: Yeah. They know when you’re feeling bad. They come up, and they want to snuggle with you. They want to make sure that you’re okay. It’s fabulous. I love them. It’s not just dogs. I love anything, every kind of creature. I have no issue with snakes and spiders and all of the above. Anything that breathes, I love.
John: Wow, that’s really cool. I know you’ve done some work with the Humane Society. How did you get started with that?
Kerry: It was probably, gosh, close to 20 years ago, my involvement with the Humane Society. There was a grooming place near where I lived. I just went in because I saw there was a sign outside about the Humane Society. I went in and realized they were actually utilizing space there to house the animals, and got to talking with them. The next thing I knew I was out back, and I was bathing dogs in one of the kennels outside. I was so excited. I kept saying, “Is there another I could do? Give me another one. I’m happy to do it.”
Kerry: That was my introduction to volunteer work with Humane Society, and it has just been with me since that time and led me all the way up to the Board of Directors with the local Humane Society that we had. More than that, it really just kept me in touch with a fabulous group of folks and just saw so much value in the work that we did, acquiring the old city jail for our first Humane Society here in Augusta and the work we had to do to get it ready for the animals and all of that. It’s just a great, great experience.
John: Yeah, it just makes you feel good in the end. Our dog is Rocket. He’s a terrier mix rescue. When we went to go — we saw him online, and we were like, hey. Then there’s all these dogs and puppies and whatever. It’s just fun. It just makes you smile. We’ll hang out in this little area with them and make sure that whatever, and then it’s, well, do you want to take him home? Let’s go. I’m like, what? It was almost like a dad, I mean, I don’t have kids, but when you’re leaving the hospital, except for I didn’t know that we were pregnant. All of a sudden, it’s like, we don’t have a leash. We don’t have a collar. We don’t have anything.
Kerry: Oh, my gosh, and they sold him to you?
John: They were like, well, the Petco is next door so just go over there. I was just like, well, cha-ching.
Kerry: There we go.
John: Yeah, it was awesome. Then we Craig’s Listed, on the way home, a crate for him to sleep in at first. Yeah, it was awesome. Yeah, it just makes you feel good, and to be around more people like that, that are just making the world a better place.
Kerry: Absolutely. Yeah, and you can see it in the animal’s eyes, too. The cats, the dogs, you can tell how grateful they are. Really. People think I’m crazy when I say that, but other animal lovers, they know what I’m talking about.
John: Yeah, it is crazy how intuitive animals are and why humans didn’t get that trait, or some humans anyway. I’m not sure. I’m not sure. That’s awesome. That’s very cool. Do you have a more unique animal that you’ve helped rescue or been around?
Kerry: Oh, yeah, we’ve had all kinds of animals. I’m an army brat. When we lived in barracks when we were stationed in Karlsruhe, Germany, this was when I was younger, we couldn’t have cats, dogs, larger animals like that. We had mice and guinea pigs. That was our thing. We had a couple of mice, Ralph and Bandit, and they were dancing mice. They would spin around and chase their tails, which is why they were called dancing mice. I recall my mother just fussing about these things. I can’t believe we have rats in the house and that kind of stuff.
Kerry: Waiting for her one morning, because she was coming in to wake me up for school, I was already awake, and hear her talking to them. Oh, look at you, aren’t you cute? Look at you. Yeah, animals go way back with us. We’ll have any — I mean, I’ll take anything that I’m allowed to have. My sister has a snake, so it’s a little bit in the family as well.
John: That’s interesting. That’s really interesting. I guess being an army brat translates over to your travel, another passion you have. I was an Air Force brat. When you move every two or three years, you’re just used to it. I’m sure you got to travel quite a bit, growing up, as well.
Kerry: Yeah, we did. We traveled a good bit. We were selected, stationed in Germany for about five years. From that experience, we probably hit 85% of European countries. We had a Volkswagen camper, and we would camp all over, everywhere we went, four of us kids and my mom and dad in this camper.
John: Oh, my.
Kerry: Yeah. We would just go. My dad would take a month off in the summer, and we would hit two or three countries and every cathedral and every castle. It gets old after a while when you’re kid. It’s not until you come back to the States and you get older that you realize, wow, that was a good experience. I’m really grateful for that.
John: Right. It’s like, now I have adult money, let’s go back or let’s go do something else.
Kerry: Right. Yeah. Well, it really did get into my blood. You can send me to the store across the street, and I get excited. I love to travel. It doesn’t really matter where it’s at. It’s the way it is. You can imagine how hard this past year has been. The travel for me has really just been all about understanding and learning different cultures, even if it’s within the US because you can go from one state to another and it’s a completely different culture.
Kerry: I think that that’s really been valuable to me. It’s been fun. As an adult, I try to do at least one international trip a year just to go to another country that I’ve never been to.
John: Right. Yeah, I saw the picture at the Great Wall of China. I was like, wow, that is awesome. Is that one of your favorite places you’ve been?
Kerry: It was one of our favorite trips. It was incredible, but I will tell you, it was also the coldest I have ever been in my life.
John: Really? Okay.
Kerry: We were there at the end of December and into the first week of January. We were there for a couple of weeks. It was freezing, freezing cold, but it was amazing. It was incredible. We went all over the place. It was great.
John: That’s cool. Do you have any other favorite places? Because people always ask me and it’s hard to know.
Kerry: Oh, for sure Africa.
John: Oh, yeah. Where did you go?
Kerry: We went to Botswana and South Africa and to Zambia as well. That was a wonderful trip, on safari, and that was just incredibly amazing. It’s so exciting. I’ve been thinking about it. That was in 2012 that we went, and I’ve told my husband every year, “This year, we’re going back. This year, we’re going back.” We just haven’t gotten there. Finally this year, we have a trip to Tanzania planned in October, for two weeks.
John: Oh, nice. Yeah, people in the US especially don’t understand Africa is huge. It’s so big. On the map, it is not proportionate at all. The top part width is two and a half times as wide as the US. When I went there, it was like, this is huge. This is unbelievable. The differences, talking about from state to state, I mean, from country to country, and Africa’s crazy differences. That’s really awesome to hear. That’s neat. Do you feel like any of the skills, whether it’s helping animals or being passionate about animals or travel, translates to work at all?
Kerry: Oh, I think all of it does, absolutely. When I think about my work with the animals and the wide range of needs that they’ve had, I think what really translates from my work with that is compassion and empathy, and how I then take that and translate that to my team or to people that I’m working with or anybody in the world actually that I come in contact with.
Kerry: It’s always trying to be compassionate about whatever situation they’re in and be empathetic to where they’re coming from. I think that ties really well with my travel in terms of culture as well because my experiences in travel has always been around understanding what the new culture is with the area that I’m in, the new city, state, country, whatever that is. As we talked already about growing up as an army brat, you grow up in that type of diverse environment already, just based on the fact that the army has such a diverse population, I guess. Then wherever you’re stationed, you’re forced to make new friends and to meet new people and understand their cultures and all of that.
That, for me, I think has been really, really imperative in terms of how I approach various people from different walks of life, where they’re from, and tying that empathy and compassion into trying to understand where they’re coming from and trying to understand what they’re thinking about a certain thing. Because cultures obviously are very, very different and what might be great or okay for me, might be something that’s really different for them. Trying to take that empathy and compassion and just look from their shoes, I guess, sort of see things.
John: Yeah, which is awesome as a CEO to have that perspective, that it’s not just do it my way or get the heck out of here. It’s almost the opposite, which is really fantastic.
Kerry: I think it’s definitely helped me, and I’ve grown quite a bit in terms of how I work with my teams and how I lead my teams or how I try to lead my teams. It really has — I think all of these combined experiences have really helped me grow as an individual and helped me grow as a leader for organizations that I tried to lead and work with my team on.
John: Because it’s not like you’re traveling so then you become a better leader, or it’s not like you’re helping animals, but it’s a pretty awesome byproduct that just comes about. I’m guessing that this is something that you talk about at work, with coworkers or even the Board and what have you.
Kerry: Oh, sure. I recall in my interview with this group, they asked me one fun fact about myself, and I think I said something about I’ve been to five continents or something. It always goes back to travel. Of course, we talked about what kind of animals you have and that kind of stuff.
Kerry: It always goes back to that. I’m always willing and ready and excited to talk about either one of those things, my passions, with anybody, as soon as the topic comes up. Yeah.
John: Yeah, it’s a more interesting conversation than, can you tell us one thing about where you used to work? Well, we used Excel.
Kerry: It humanizes, though, when we talk about our personal interests and our passions, and I think it really gives insight into an individual when they talk about something that they’re really passionate about. You can really learn a lot from people that way.
John: I found though, that some people, for whatever reason, just in their head, there’s a narrative that no one cares, or this has nothing to do with my job, or it’s not professional to have something outside of work besides thinking about more work type of thing. As a CEO, I mean, how do you approach that with people, to encourage that?
Kerry: Well, certainly with my team, we’re very, very close. It’s a fabulous team. We know a lot about what’s happening in each other’s lives. We text on the weekend, if we’re out gardening, or if we’re doing other things. We’re group chatting, and we’re texting that way. We’re really close. When I’m meeting new board members, new clients, new whatever they are, it’s a great icebreaker. Do you have any pets? Do you have any kids? Do you like to travel? It’s just a great icebreaker, and I think it puts everybody on a level set. Because we’re all human at the end of the day and we can all find things that we can talk about. Even if I was talking to, I don’t know, the president of some big corporation or whatever, at the end of the day, he’s still human. He still might have a dog. I might not understand the work that he does, but darn it, I can certainly understand about his dog, or he can understand about mine and how I feel about it, right?
John: No, I love it. Absolutely. Because the animal lover part of that person and you is just as big if not bigger than the work part of you and him, so that conversation, you’re getting who he is or who she is as a person, which is just deeper and richer.
Kerry: Absolutely. Yeah, and it just builds a great foundation for relationships for the future.
John: Yeah. I love that. That’s so awesome to hear that I’m not crazy, and it’s a real world thing.
Kerry: It’s a real world thing, at least in my world.
John: Yeah. No, totally, and the other 400-plus people that have been on the show. Yeah, it’s just cool to hear that. How much is it on the organization to create that atmosphere, like it sounds like you’ve done, versus how much is it on the individual to maybe they could start it among their little group or to even join in, if this is the way it is?
Kerry: Well, in my mind, it’s all about leading by example. If I am demonstrating a behavior and if that means, so, how are things going with you, what are you doing this weekend, those kinds of things where you’re trying to really get in touch with somebody on a personal level, if I’m leading by example, it gives the okay for others in my space, whether it’s my team members, whether it’s my Board, whether it’s other volunteers or people that I meet, it doesn’t matter. It gives that green light to have those conversations back with me, to ask me those kinds of questions. I think it breaks down those barriers of I’m a CEO, and this person over here is another job title that maybe not, they might consider, at the same level of me, for example.
Kerry: It breaks down those barriers, right? If I lead with that, if I’m able to sort of say, let’s cut through all this other stuff and get down to the fact that we’re both humans, talk to me about your dog, your travel, whatever, your grocery store trip, whatever that is; I think that example then gives permission to others to have those similar conversations. I certainly see it with my team. Everybody is extremely close. It’s a very family type atmosphere, and I have similar relationships with my Board and volunteers. I’m very eager to hear about what’s happening in their lives and just to continue to build that relationship which, in turn, builds that trust and then makes for a better working relationship.
John: I couldn’t agree more. That’s awesome to hear because that reciprocity of — the universe is out of balance, if only one of us shares. Somebody else has to or it’s just going to be awkward. It’s cool that you create that space. That’s awesome to hear. That’s really cool. Do you have any words of encouragement to people listening that have that hobby or passion that they think no one cares about?
Kerry: I would say you’d be surprised to find others that have an interest in what you’re doing and whatever your hobby is. Never be afraid to ask and to open up. You’ll find out pretty quickly if somebody is open to the conversation or not. If they’re not, that’s okay. You haven’t lost anything. So I would just say, don’t be shy. Just ask the question, or just put yourself out there and start a conversation around something that’s of interest to you and see what response you get. There’s no harm done.
John: Yeah. You’re out a couple of minutes. That’s the worst case scenario. Then you know that that person’s on a list of people to not talk to.
Kerry: Don’t waste your time on.
John: Right. It’s not just at work. It’s all over in life. The more that people are talking about these things, I love that, how it just humanizes us. It brings us all level set, like you said, and it just makes for better work and better life in the end.
Kerry: Yeah. Tear down those walls, exactly.
John: Yeah, that’s awesome. That’s very cool. Yeah, this has been so awesome, Kerry. Before I wrap up, it’s only fair that I turn the tables because I very rudely fired away at you, 17 questions. I’m going to turn the tables. This is the first episode of The Kerry Crockett podcast. Thanks for having me on. I’m all yours. Whatever you want, you can ask away.
Kerry: All right, John, here we go. I’ve got three questions for you in rapid-fire sequence. Here we go. Are you ready?
John: I’m ready.
Kerry: All right, dog or cat?
Kerry: All right. Tell me again, what kind you have?
John: It’s a terrier mix. Although, funny story, we did the DNA thing, because it’s clear that he’s a terrier mix, if you just look at him, but it comes back where he’s got a grandparent that’s full Chihuahua and then on the other side, a great grandparent that’s a Rottweiler and everything else. They were like, we don’t know. I was literally like, I think we get our money back.
Kerry: I’ve done the same thing. I’ve had the same kind of experience.
John: Rottweiler-Chihuahua mix? What are you talking — look at him. People in the dog park, they call him pinschy in the dog park. He looks just like that, not a Rottweiler-Chihuahua mix. What are you talking about? It was hilarious.
Kerry: They clearly need to do a little bit more scientific work on those DNA tests for dogs, don’t they?
John: Exactly. It was just more funny for me, but, yeah, he’s awesome.
Kerry: Okay, next question, theater or Netflix.
John: So, for movies, not live theater, okay. Yeah. That’s tough because in the theater, if I’m the only one there, I control who’s in the theater with me, then theater.
John: If I’m with the general public, probably Netflix just because, I don’t know, people’s phones, and they talk. It’s just like, what is happening? The world has lost its mind. So, if it’s like a private viewing, then theater, for sure.
Kerry: Do you like it when people talk back to the screen in the theater?
John: No. Although it’s hilarious. It’s more hilarious to me. Although, there are times where I think something’s absolutely funny, and I’m the only one laughing at the whole theater. That’s just funny.
Kerry: I wish I was home watching Netflix.
John: Yeah, pretty much. Yeah, but it’s the ones that are just talking openly, not at the movie, just talking. It’s like, what are you doing? It’s not like we can pause for you, type of thing. Probably theater, I guess, in the end because you can feel it. My house isn’t quite set up with the sound system that theaters have.
Kerry: Yeah, it’s not the same experience.
Kerry: All right. Last one, baseball or football?
John: Football, for sure. I don’t know. Baseball, I feel like, if we could make it six innings.
Kerry: Yeah, speed it up a little bit.
John: Something or, I don’t know, just more entertaining. Let them taunt each other and whatever. That’s fun. Cool. Well, Kerry, this has been so much fun. I appreciate you being part of this and also for having me speak at IASA Conference. That was super fun, too. Thank you so much.
Kerry: Thank you. Appreciate it. Enjoyed the talk, and it’s good to see you again.
John: Everybody listening, if you want to see some pictures of Kerry’s travels or her dogs or maybe 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 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.