Joseph hikes his way to better coworker connections
If someone were to ask where Joseph Rugger was right now, your best guess would be one of our glorious National Parks. He’s been to almost all of them, from Acadia in Maine to the White Sands in New Mexico –driving his Prius all over the country. He created a bucket list of places he’d like to visit all over the world and is quickly checking them off as he does his CFO work virtually.
In this episode, we talked about how we get most of our enjoyment from non-work time, so talking about those things in the office only enhances our jobs. We also talked about how leaders should take the time to genuinely get to know their staff. Using forced programs as the only time to do so is not authentic and doesn’t develop any connections. A good rule Joseph uses is to double the question-to-statement ratio to open a dialogue and build those relationships.
Joseph Rugger is the CFO of Jonesboro Prosthetic and Orthotic Laboratory and a Continuing Education Instructor with the AICPA. He was the 2011 Arkansas Outstanding Emerging CPA Award Winner and a member of the 2013 AICPA Leadership Academy.
He graduated from Lyon College with a BS Accounting, BS Finance, and BA Economics while being an active member of the baseball team. He later received his Master’s of Professional Accounting from IUPUI.
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John: Welcome to Episode 44 of the Green Apple Podcast where each Wednesday I interview a professional known for a hobby or a passion which makes them stick out, like a green apple in a red apple world. And everywhere I go, do keynotes all over the country, I’m so sick of hearing people say that they aren’t the stereotypical accountant because I honestly believe that the definition of stereotypical accountant is completely upside down. And just to prove this I’m doing a little research for a book I’m writing about corporate culture so it would be super cool if you could just take 60 seconds to do my anonymous survey by going into greenapplepodcast.com and click the big green button there. It’s only a few questions because I know you’re super busy, but the more data points I have the more legit my research so I really, really appreciate it. So greenapplepodcast.com. Thank you so much.
Okay, now it’s time for this week’s guest, Joseph Rugger. He’s the CFO of Jonesboro Prosthetic and Orthotic Laboratory in Arkansas where he grew up and attended Lyon College. He was a member of the 2013 AICPA Leadership Academy and is the 2011 Arkansas Outstanding Emerging CPA Award Winner. Wow! And how he’s here with me on the Green Apple podcast. Thank you so much, Joseph, for taking time to be with me today.
Joseph: Yeah, it’s great to be here. Thanks for the invitation, John, and I look forward to sharing some thoughts with you and appreciate what you’re doing. I think what you’re doing is really cool and something that is needed, for sure.
John: Oh, thank you so much. Yeah, I’m just glad you had free time in your crazy busy travel schedule to do this and where you like pulled over at a truck stop just to sit in your car doing this. So this is going to be awesome, I’m super excited.
So going back to your college days or earlier, what made you want to get into accounting to begin with?
Joseph: I always had this knack and this desire to be in business. I remember being in high school working for a couple of small family businesses, one of them was a place called Smoothie King. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen or been to a Smoothie King. But we had an accountant come in and tell us what our hard cost were for the Caribbean Way which was our number one smoothie seller. And I think that we sold this and I hope they don’t mind me telling this, this was 20 years ago, I think we sold the Caribbean Way for like $2.75 and the accountant came in and told us that we had 75 cents in hard cost in the Caribbean Way. So it wasn’t a matter of trying to sell all these different supplements that had these small margins on them, it was how do we get people in the door and get them buying smoothies with these huge margins that we had to work with. And I would imagine most of the restaurants that you would talk to would say that beverages are probably where their biggest margins are whether that’s alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages or a place like a smoothie place that there’s large margins there.
So that stuff was fascinating to me at 15 years old, at 16 years old. I took a marketing class in high school, I got a chance to kind of follow some stuff in the stock market, so I was always really, really interested in business. I had classmates that wanted to be English professors, they wanted to be a doctor or a lawyer, or name whatever. I just really wanted to be a business.
When I was in high school I did a summer job working for the Department of Finance Administration in the state of Arkansas, I worked in the motor field tax division. And we had these weird people that would come in every couple of months called the auditors and they were always very sharply dressed, they were always very professional and there was kind of this aura and mystique of the auditors that came in.
John: Right. Did you always put them in a room with no windows?
Joseph: Yes, yes! We put them in a room with no windows, there was kind of this silence that came over the office, like no fooling around, no fun and games at work. And there was just kind of this aura and this mysteriousness of the auditors so that kind of intrigued me as a 15-year old, 16-year old kid, working for the Department of Finance Administration in Arkansas. So that was kind of in the back of my mind. My uncle actually was the manager of the Tax Credits for the state of Arkansas for a while and had an accounting degree. So these were kind of some different seeds that were planted in me early on.
And then when I got to college, I mentioned to you that I played college baseball, and as a freshman you always kind of look up to the older guys, the juniors and the seniors to kind of help guide you through this being a collegiate athlete and going to school and all those things. And there was a guy by the name of Luke Beaver that was a fellow outfielder, he was a couple years older than me. This was in ’99, 2000-ish, and he was telling me about accounting. I was just kind of bouncing back and forth, “Hey, I’ve always like business, I’m good at math, I’m good at numbers” and he said that the job projections at the time for when I was to graduate college and grad school, ’03, ’04, ’05, job projections for accountants and for CPAs were really, really high. The demand is going to continue to exceed the supply and that you will always be in high demand as an accountant.
I ended up finishing three majors in college. I did Accounting, Economics, and Business Administration with a Finance track. Those were kind of some things early on that got me interested, profits and the stock market, investing. I remember listening to a lesson on compounded interest in one of my math classes my junior year at high school, it was just holy cow! If I invested 100 bucks now for a month, what would that turn into by the time I was… Some people listen to that and they think who cares about 50 years from now or 40 years from now, but as a 15, 16, 17, 18-year old kid, that stuff was fascinating.
John: Yeah, yeah, so this is all Luke Beaver’s fault. Got to find that guy. He’s probably a partner at some firm right now. That’s fantastic, man, that’s so cool. It’s always fascinating to hear how that all came about and it seems like yeah, it was just in the cards for you, it was destiny. You did it, man, you did it!
So obviously, I know that you’ve made a unique transition because you were working full-time as the CFO for that family-owned business and then now have recently transitioned to be able to take that on the road, right.
Joseph: Yes. So as of January 1st, I semi-retired. I just went to my boss last August and got a chance to sit down with him and say I really have always wanted to pursue my dream to travel full time. As you know, John, when you get two, three, four weeks of vacation time a year, you live in a place like Arkansas and you want to go visit Glacier National Park in North Western Montana, it may take half or more of your vacation time to get up there to go see it and visit it, if not all of it.
So I got to the point where I was taking kind of a big trip per year. I got a chance to go to Thailand a couple years ago, last year I went backpacking in Patagonia, in Chile, in Argentina, in Uruguay. I sat down last year and made a list of all the places that I wanted to go, that list is like just like everybody’s. I’m sure there’s 15 or 20 long and whenever I started thinking about it, I said I need to figure out a way to transition my professional career to where I can work remotely and as long as I’ve got either a cellphone signal or an internet signal, I can do the things that I need to do.
So I went to my boss last August and said, “Hey, I’d like to cut out about 75% of the CFO job, I’m just thinking I could you the books and continue to do these…” I just laid it out and one of the things that people are always scared of is the fear of now knowing so I put three pages together. I said I will continue to do these things for you, payroll and financial statements and process and expense reports and handle unemployment claims and be a group administrator… all the different things that kind of fall into a small company CFO role. And it was basically minus the management of the team. I think we’ve got 58 people on the team now. Basically, management of the team, a lot of my time as a lot of CFOs in small businesses is on the HR function trying to find the right people, keeping them motivated and keeping them on track and that kind of thing. So basically, cut out all of that stuff that was eating me up day in and day out and focused on the things that us as accountants do really well.
John: Yeah, that’s so fantastic, man. And such a great story that you just carved your path and said this is what I want and you sat down and figured out what you needed and your passion of traveling took over. And that’s so cool that you were able to work that out with the company to where you’re able to do it with a lot of flex time there. Yeah, that’s so great, man. Congrats, you won, it’s over, you won, you’re the winner.
Joseph: I’m a big fan of reading and listening to motivational speeches and seminars. One of my favorite quotes of all time is Zig Ziglar and one of his trademark quotes is “You can have anything in life you want if you’ll help enough other people get what they want.” Stephen Covey talks about this in the Seven Habits. He talks about deposits and withdrawals in the Emotional Bank Account. Whenever you’re out there and you’re doing a great job and you’re helping people and I’ve got employees that have loved working for the company and we found them in a bad spot before in another place and we put them in, plugged them in to the right place, gave them the right tools and now they’re flourishing. And whenever you help enough people I think that you’d be surprised at some of the things that people would be willing to do for you.
So I put ten years into the place that I was, gave them everything that I got for full time, 40, 50, 60, whatever hours it took per week to do that. If you help enough other people to get what they want then you’d have anything in life you want, as Zig Ziglar said.
John: Yeah, that’s so fantastic and so great and I imagine that that’s something that isn’t taught in school and professionalism itself teaches you not to be that way. Professionalism isn’t all about me, me, me and look at my degree and how smart I am and what I know and what you can do for me. And that’s so great how you just flipped that on its head and it’s more of you investing in others and investing in that company and with time and then long-term now, you’re set, this is so great, and you’re able to pursue that passion full bore which is so cool.
So how did you want to start traveling? Is it just because you grew up in Arkansas or you really kind of get anywhere, like I just want to go out.
Joseph: I guess growing up an Eagle Scout, was in the Boy Scouts all growing up, so I was introduced to the ideas and the concepts of kind of surviving out in the wilderness and going camping and backpacking and that kind of thing. And the State of Arkansas is called the Natural State just because we have a lot of really natural beauty in Arkansas so I got the chance to really dig in all of that state parks in Arkansas. We got a National River called the Buffalo National River that’s just absolutely gorgeous and we’ve got a couple of national forests, couple of hundred mile-hiking trails that I’ve been on parts of. I got the chance to see some other stuff and as you’re an accountant and you’re making a little bit of money you can afford to drive more than an hour to go on vacation.
So I got a chance to start seeing some of the just other things around the country. Certainly, I’ve been to Colorado a couple times, and seeing other places and other cultures and get the chance to see our national park system has been fantastic. I traveled very, very little growing up. We just kind of have in Arkansas three or four-state radius. If you want to go to the big city you can either go to Memphis, Tennessee, if you want to go see country music you go to Nashville, if you want to go watch a professional baseball game you go to St. Louis, if you want to go the really, really nice shopping you go to Dallas. So it’s kind of the radius that you stay within for most of us that were in the middle class in the state of Arkansas.
I’ve read a lot about full time travel and travel and seeing things. Travel has its unique set of joys and challenges and bumps along the way, I just find it fascinating to see other countries and other cultures. At this point this year I’ve been to 36 states, 11 countries. I spent the month of January backpacking across Europe and visited nine countries over the month of January in Europe. I got to see just some fascinating places. I took French class in high school and haven’t really spoken much French. I get to Paris, France and I’m all of a sudden speaking French. I remembered the key phrases of “Please” and “Thank you” and “I would like to eat this” and “This is what I’d like to drink”; spoke Spanish when I was in Spain. Italian is a little bit more difficult just because there’s not many parallels but did some audiobooks on how to speak some Italian, picked up a couple of key phrases and words.
John: Look at you, man.
Joseph: Yeah. German was the tough one. When I got to Austria, they got so many consonants all together. I had no idea how to say [Foreign Language] or something like that.
John: Yeah, you just have to be angry all the time, that’s how you do that one. You’re like the most interesting man in the world. He’s right here, Joseph Rugger, this is it, man. This is great, this is so awesome. So were there some of your favorite places that you visited?
Joseph: Yeah. Certainly, there are things that really stick out in your mind when you get a chance to travel. And one of the most iconic places on the planet, one of the most widely recognized structures is the Eiffel Tower and arguably the most widely-recognized structure and that was a really, really cool experience. I didn’t pay the 25 euro to go all the way to the top but I did get a chance to kind of walk around it, took a couple of gross selfies with me looking straight up right beside the Eiffel Tower. Anyways, they put a light show every night that’s really cool that’s put some music, that was kind of a cool experience to be in a place that’s one of the most widely-recognized places in the world at the Eiffel Tower.
Certainly, something else that stuck out to me was being in Lourdes, France which is a really, really big spiritual experience for those of us that weren’t born and raised Catholic like myself. Lourdes has kind of the legend or the belief that the Virgin Mary appeared to a 15-year-old peasant girl in a series of I think it was 18 or 19 visions, and there’s this healing water that comes out of the spring in Lourdes. And what a peaceful place, just what a wonderful place to sit and gather your thoughts and look back on what is it that we’re really doing here, why is it that we’re here. And to me it’s not about making the most money and having the nicest car and the fanciest things, it’s about helping out our fellow human beings and getting a chance to help them become the best version of themselves and that’s one of the things that I really, really picked up from Lourdes, France.
And I’ll share one more story because this is just the total opposite of Lourdes, France. I got a chance to tour a concentration in a place called Trieste, Italy. It was the only concentration camp in Italy that had a crematorium. And by the time I got to Trieste, it was in January so of course the days are shorter because we’re in the Northern Hemisphere so I get to Trieste and it’s about 5:00, 5:30 so it’s kind of like at the dusk point. And walking into this concentration camp, I believe in energy both positive and negative and good and evil energy, and walking through this concentration camp you could just feel like giving you goose bumps, just the pure evil that was there and happened there.
John: Yeah. I didn’t realize there was a concentration camp in Italy, that’s interesting. I’ve been to Dachau in Germany and yeah, it’s mind blowing and creepy and everything all together. It’s fascinating and eerie, it’s amazing, you can’t turn away but you know it’s just everything bad all in one place. That’s amazing.
Joseph: So those are my two extremes, you go from just this wonderful place of peace and serenity in Lourdes, France and this old town in the Pyrenees Mountains to really experiencing what the most evil things inside of our human nature could be possible. We just lose perspective of I think often in our country.
John: Yeah, helping each other out or making the world a better place or just finding out about each other as coworkers or as client, little things like that. It’s so great that you saw that and are living it, that’s really, really cool.
So would you say that, obviously when you were traveling, when you worked as a CFO, did you talk about this at work?
Joseph: One of the things that I like to do is backpack. And for those of you that aren’t familiar with that it’s basically you put your tent and your sleeping bag and your food and your cooker and you put all that on your bag and you just kind of take off through the woods and you spend the night out in the woods for maybe a day or two or three and really get the chance to get off the beaten path.
And when I would talk about things like backpacking people would say things like “Why would anybody want to do that?” and they would kind of look at me cross eyed. I think that there’s some of the more glamorous parts of travel, like if I talk about seeing the Eiffel Tower at night people are like “Oh, that sounds great”, I’m like “Well, part of that was that I had to sleep in a train overnight and take an overnight place and had two or three random people that I didn’t know sleeping five feet from my face”. That’s when people are like “Oh, wow. I don’t know that I can do that.” So it’s part of travel the good comes with the bad.
And a lot of people will look at some of the things that I do, I sent you a picture of me on top of Angels Landing at Zion National Park, this fantastic beautiful national park, and a lot of people are like “Man, that looks so great, that would be so awesome” and I’ll show them some of the video of the climb to get up there, there’s like a chain you hold on to to not fall off the side of the cliff, that’s when people are like “I don’t know that I could do that.”
John: How about I just look at your pictures, Joseph, and we’ll call it a day, huh.
Joseph: Yeah. So I think a lot of people at work just kind of look at the stuff that I do and they’re like “Well, that’s nice for you but I just have to sleep in a bed every night”, traveling through the national park system is probably not something that you would like to do. If you want to fly there and fly back and stay in a hotel, that’s when costs start going way, way high. When you’re worried about that or you decide you have to eat out every single meal, so in order to make it affordable you got to some things that are off the beaten path a little bit. I think that that’s certainly as I kind of talk about my experiences at work that’s when people look at me cross eyed and say “There’s no way I could do that.”
John: Right, right. And did you find that people would when you go away for two weeks or three weeks, “Hey, where did you go this time?” or people were kind of interested in that?
Joseph: Yeah, I think so, some of the stuff is definitely stuff that appeals to people. And I always get this question and it’s kind of I’ll just call it a dumb question. There are no dumb questions but this is a dumb question. I spend a month in Europe and I get to see some of the most amazing places on the planet through Rome, Italy and Venice, Italy and Paris, France and I mention all these other places that I got a chance to go. And you come back and you’ve got a thousand things in your head and somebody asks a dumb question, “What was your favorite place?” I’m like “On which day, like during which hour?” I’m getting a chance to spend — at this point I’ve seen 18 national parks this year, people are like “What’s your favorite national park?”, I’m like “Well, all of them. Of course, all of them.”
John: Right. You got to know what you’re walking in to when you ask questions with Joseph, that’s for sure.
Joseph: Yeah, I get questions like that “Where have you been lately?” and I’m like “In the last two days or like the last week or the last month?”
John: What’s your benchmark of lately?
Joseph: Pretty lengthy discussion.
John: You might want to get a cup of coffee and a seat, buddy, it’s going to be a while. But I think that is so great how interesting people are interesting to talk to in somebody like you that has something going relative to other people that don’t share their passions or don’t share what they’re interested in and what have you that people want to come ask you those even if they are dumb questions. They at least want to ask you questions as opposed to completely ignoring it and not really getting to know you for who you are as opposed to Joseph Rugger, the CFO. No, it’s Joseph Rugger, the crazy guy that goes to Europe for a month and sleeps on the train next to strangers.
I think that’s so great and I would imagine that now that you’re doing it pretty much full time that every time you’re in touch with people they have to be wondering where are you these days.
Joseph: Yeah. I get a lot of people and the whole social media thing, I kind of have a love-hate relationship with it. I think that a lot of people have said it’s kind of the highlight reels of all the stuff that people want you to see and not the real world. I’ve got all these fantastic wonderful pictures and I can’t help but post them, I want to share with them. And I have a lot of people come up to me, I’ve got the chance to speak across the country this year, I’ll probably be chance speaking engagements this year for CPAs and I have a lot of people that come up and who’ll say “Hey, we want you to know, we’re living vicariously through you and your Facebook and your Instagram posts.” And I’m like “Okay”, that makes me feel better, I don’t want to be out there and it be something where people are like “Oh, where is Joseph at today?”
John: Right, bragger, bragger, look at him.
Joseph: Block them from my feed, I don’t want to see any of this nonsense anymore.
John: Yeah. There’s a good friend of mine, speaker Mark Scharenbroich who’s really, really funny guy, really, really great guy. And he actually posted on his Facebook terrible hotel, like out the window of his hotel room, like it’s over the roof with the air conditioner or it’s to another wall, it’s hilarious. Whenever he posts updates it’s never the glamorous stuff, it’s always the ugly garbage stuff that no one ever knows about. So that would be really funny if you started doing that as well, just all the scary dumb stuff that you have to go through.
Joseph: Here’s a gross selfie of me sleeping in my car. People are like “Oh!”
John: Right, hoping to shower sometime this week. I think it’s awesome, that passion that’s inside you and you can’t hold it back. I think it’s so great too because it gives you an identity, people know who you are and you are able to talk with your employer and carve that out and make that happen where you’re able to do both. You won, man, like I said, you won accounting, like you’re the winner, it’s over.
Joseph: Yeah. One of the things that I tossed out to my close friends and family is “Hey, I’d love for you to meet up with me.” I kind of threw that out there to a lot of people last year as I was kind of figuring out what it was I was going to do and where I was going to go. A lot of times whenever you throw something out to somebody, they’ll be like “Oh yeah, that sounds really great, I’m going to do that” and I actually had a ton of people meet up with me along the way. I’ve definitely had people come and hang out with me probably eight or nine times over the course of the last eight months.
John: That’s awesome!
Joseph: I’ve got my car, right, so they’re just going to fly to the airport, I’ll pick them up at the airport, I’ve got two sets of gear, we’re going to go to the national park. I had a buddy of mine from Chicago that met me out in Phoenix and we did major league baseball spring training in Phoenix. It’s just fantastic, by the way, for any of you guys that have never done it that are baseball fans. I had my mom meet me in California, we visited eight national parks in California. I had my sister and brother-in-law meet me in Oakland and we did a half-marathon run through the redwoods. How majestic does that sound, like you sit in your cubicle in Little Rock, Arkansas. And me and my brother-in-law on Saturday are doing a trail run that’s through the redwood forest. I’ve had a ton of people meet me up along the way, it’s been really cool to share my travel experiences along the way.
John: Yeah, that’s really cool, that’s so awesome. And yeah, like you said earlier when we were talking offline, you’re on your way to Yellow Stone in the next couple of days which is great and you’re going to meet up with some CPA friends on the way, that’s really cool too, because you do travel. I remember when I used to drive all over for comedy, just staying with college friends and relatives and just dropping in and having lunch on my way, or something like that. So that’s really cool, man.
Joseph: Yes. I’ve got the chance to share a visit with 12 CPA friends across the country. I got the chance to hang out with a buddy of mine in Denver, another friend in New Hampshire, St. Louis, Phoenix, Chicago, Utah, Connecticut, Memphis, Carolina, and South Dakota. Folks are all over the place and I just reach out them and say “Hey, you want to grab a beer, you want to hang out?” A lot of my friends of course have kids that are super active so I got the chance to go to some school type stuff along the way and got a chance to hang out with the kids and that kind of thing. This Friday I’m going to visit a friend of mine in South Dakota, her son’s playing in his first high school football game. So super excited to get a chance to go to that, like why not, why not go to a high school football game in South Dakota while I’m there.
John: That’s so great, man. This is such an inspiration for everyone and so cool that you’re doing it and you’re putting it into action and I can’t wait to meet up with you sometime and shoot, I’ll just fly in and we can go backpacking somewhere. That would be great.
Joseph: Yeah. Well if you were going to ask me some of my favorite stuff… I’ll tell you what, go in the Statue of Liberty, I went there about a month ago, going to the Statue of Liberty was just a powerful experience, just like about the history that’s there and the number of probably mine and your family members that that was their first view of America was the lady that stands in the harbor for what we believe, the Statue of Liberty. What a powerful experience.
John: Right, and it’s even more powerful because they’ve somehow recreated it to feel like it because you’re jammed into those boats with all those screaming kids. You feel almost like you’re an immigrant coming across the ocean, like “Just get me off this boat.”
Joseph: That’s funny you mentioned that because I do remember doing the Ellis Island tour. And I’m in the Ellis Island tour and it’s like shoulder to shoulder and I’m like “This is way too many people”. And as I’m thinking about it, I’m like you know that’s probably what it was like to come through Ellis Island in the 1800s. There’s a ton of people, they’re all loud, the babies are yelling, somebody’s coughing in my ear.
John: There’s a lot of non-English, that’s awesome. And so I guess one thing that I like to think about and something that I think, maybe the company that you’re working for maybe does a good job at is just to create this culture of sharing or what have you. How much do you think it is on the organization versus on the individual?
Joseph: I think that whenever you get a chance to be a leader in an organization, I think that there are things that we as leaders inherently think that people just know. Of course, we encourage a culture of sharing. Unless people hear you say that regularly, I think that people don’t get that. So I think that a lot of the onus is on the leadership of the company to share things personally and get to a place where we talk about, we’re talking about Stephen Covey’s Emotional Bank Account deposits and withdrawals, put deposits in each other’s bank accounts and ask somebody about what they’ve got going on this weekend and what’s going on with their kids. I certainly can sit and ask somebody about debits and credits and that’s part of it. They’re certainly not going to line up in the way that they would when I ask them, hey, how’s your daughter doing in college, I know that she’s about to pick a major. That’s when people light up.
So I think that a lot of it is on leadership to facilitate that kind of a culture and just to do it verbally. And one of the things that I think that we as accountants tend to be guilty of is we’ll come up with some sort of program, oh, we’re going to come up with a sharing program, we’re going to come up with a mentorship. We want to put a label on it, right? We want to say, oh —
John: We’re going to force you to do this on a scheduled time.
Joseph: Right, right. We’re going to have from 12:15 to 12:30, we’re going to have story time.
John: And no stories outside of that. If you’re doing stories before or after, you’re done.
Joseph: I think that a lot of it’s on the onus of the organization and just encourage a culture of sharing. Certainly, I think that as you get a chance to do that I think that whenever you start asking people questions about what’s going on their life, you’ll see that they’re going to light up. Certainly, we all want to be at a place where we really enjoy what we’re doing day in and day out but oftentimes most of us are getting the most enjoyment out of our lives from non-work time.
So to meld that into what we’re doing at work or a regular basis, it only enhances the experience of our employees and our team members and other leaders. So I’m going to put a lot of it on just the leadership and when I say leadership, again, I’m not talking about putting out a memo that says “Okay, everybody, it’s all right to share for 30 minutes”. Again, we don’t need another program, we got plenty of programs that don’t work that are forced anyway. So I think that it’s just a matter of having that balance and finding that balance in the leadership. And I think once the leadership kind of sets that example, I’m sure that you read the tone starts at the top and when that’s the tone at the top I think that that’s going to create a better organization that we’re going to be able to thrive.
The other thing that I think is really cool about these hobbies and this passion is that before you started working you had this passion and while you’re working you still have this. And after you’re done working you still have that passion, it’s a constant and your work is not a constant. And I think that people forget that because they have bills to pay, sort of a thing. But anyway, that’s my two cents on that whole thing.
I guess just to wrap it up here, what might be some barriers that you think might hold people back from not wanting to share or maybe even in your own instances of being hesitant at first to open up.
Joseph: I think people would probably be possibly embarrassed, or maybe embarrassed is a little bit too strong but you’re just feeling uncomfortable sharing their own passions or just kind of opening themselves up especially if there is kind of that stodgy culture from that top that you mentioned. I think people have to understand that it’s not going to be a hindrance to their career, it’s in all likelihood going to be a big positive and creating these relationships that we talk about on this call, they matter and they are important.
John: Right, right, and it’s got to be organic and it’s got to be genuine. It’s not just checking a box of “Who haven’t I talked to today or this week” type of a thing. And I agree, even if it’s maybe a bigger organization, within a division or within a smaller group, you can definitely set the tone for your little posse if you will. So even if the organization as a whole this kind of stuff that your little department or what have you, you can still make a dent that way. Those are the people you see every day anyway so that’s most important.
Joseph: Yeah, and the better relationship with your coworkers, the more you’re going to work together the more you’re going to trust each other, the more you’re going to feel good at being creative and thinking outside the box and being willing to make mistakes. And when we’ve got an organization that kind of work in silos and everybody just punches the clock, that’s the stuff that we’re not going to be able to thrive on.
John: Yeah, yeah, that’s an excellent point, I like that idea. Because yeah, when you do have that trust in each other and you actually care about each other as people, then if someone does make a mistake it’s not that big of a deal where if it’s just “Oh, the person in Treasury doesn’t do the journal entries right every time then I’m going to unload on that person because I don’t really know them and I don’t really care. All I know is they’re making my life really terrible right now.” But if it’s someone with a name and a face and an identity, then that impacts my reaction for sure.
Joseph: Changes the equation.
John: Absolutely, absolutely. Do you have any words of encouragement for others that maybe are on the fence or they have a cool hobby but they don’t really tell anyone about it?
Joseph: I heard this in a podcast one time and it was “Double your question to statement ratio”. If you want to open up, if you want to get to a place where people feel comfortable talking about different stuff, start asking questions. And you’ll see that once I start asking a question and getting into a dialogue with one of my coworkers they’re going to start asking me about the things that I do and it’s only going to build that relationship even further to do that. Double your question to statement ratio, I think that that is something that would definitely encourage just a culture of we’re not just machines in a car, we’re real life human beings with hopes and dreams.
John: Yeah, that’s deep, man. And you threw in ratio so all the accountants are super excited right now.
Joseph: I can’t help it, I count things, John. I started out this year and I wasn’t counting things and I was like “Something’s wrong” so I started counting how many nights I was sleeping in a tent versus staying at friends and family versus Airbnb and hotels.
John: There you go, you’ve got a little spreadsheet going, I know you do.
Joseph: I do. It’s not a spreadsheet. I couldn’t bring myself to put it on a spreadsheet but it is in the notes on the phone. Got to have my smartphone with my notes out.
John: Oh, good, that’s awesome. Just getting to know you, Joseph, has been so great. But I do have kind of a rule of thumb of whether or not I should come along on one of these backpacking trips with my 17 rapid fire questions to see whether or not we can truly hang out, really get to know you. So I’m going to fire this thing up and we’re going to let it rip.
So here we go, the first one is Sudoku or crossword puzzle.
John: Nice. Do you have a favorite color?
Joseph: Red. Red is bold. I have a tendency to be bold as you can probably tell. Full of lots of crazy energy like the color red.
John: Right. Do you have a least favorite color?
Joseph: Least favorite color is probably yellow.
John: Yeah, that’s a solid answer. Do you have a favorite sports team?
Joseph: St. Louis Cardinals.
John: Yes! Good man, I think we can probably stop the questions now. Do you have a favorite Disney character?
Joseph: Aladdin’s my favorite Disney character.
John: That’s a solid answer, that’s good. How about do you have a favorite comedian?
Joseph: It’s just probably a faux pas for me to say now but I love Bill Cosby stuff. His stuff is hilarious.
John: Yeah, absolutely. That’s not bad to say, as a comedian you’re able to separate that. Absolutely. How about do you prefer the oceans or the mountains?
Joseph: I prefer the mountains.
John: Yeah, that’s what I figured. And all the pictures are on greenapplepodcast.com, everybody can check them out and see him on top of pretty much every mountain in America I think.
How about Star Wars or Star Trek?
Joseph: So I like the new school Star Trek better than the new school Star Wars but the old school Star Wars definitely better than the old school Star Trek.
John: Oh, yeah, the original three. How about a PC or a Mac?
John: When it comes to a mouse, right click or left click?
Joseph: Right click.
John: What do you eat for breakfast?
Joseph: Had a bowl of Grape-Nuts.
John: Grape-Nuts, look at you being all healthy. How about do you have a favorite animal?
Joseph: No, I don’t know that I do have a favorite animal.
John: Okay. When it comes to financial statements, balance sheet or income statement.
Joseph: Balance sheet, duh.
John: Right. How about jeans or khakis?
John: Three more. Do you have a favorite number?
John: Why is that?
Joseph: That was the day of the month that I was born and the day of the month my dad was born, so any time I get a chance to pick my number playing baseball growing up I was picking number six.
John: Yeah, that’s awesome. How about do you have a movie that makes you cry?
Joseph: I do. And I will tell you that it is any one of the Rocky movies, even the latest one, Creed. For some reason the idea that this guy is a nobody, he gets his one chance to be in the spotlight. He seizes it, takes advantage of it, works his tail off, he does things the right way. Like even Rocky III, like how could you not tear up whenever Mickey dies or loses to Clubber Lang, even the worst Rocky movie, Rocky III still gets me a little teary eyed.
John: That’s so good, that’s so good. And the last one is the favorite thing you own, the favorite thing you have.
Joseph: I have an ENO hammock that I sleep in probably as much or more than I sleep in a tent. It is my favorite possession.
John: Yeah, those things are so comfortable.
Well, cool, Joseph. Thank you so much for being with me on the Green Apple podcast and safe travels on all your trips the rest of the year.
Joseph: Absolutely! Thanks for having me, John, and look forward to speaking with you again.
John: I really love how Joseph said that as leaders there are things that we think all the staff inherently know but this isn’t always the case. So it’s on you to get to know everyone on a personal basis and preferably not using a formal program but rather on your own so it’s actually genuine. If you’d like to see some pictures of Joseph at the top of Zion National Park or all of his other crazy adventures, go to greenapplepodcast.com. And while you’re there, please click the big green button and do my research survey.
Thank you for sharing this with your friends so they get the message that we are trying to spread which is to go out and be a green apple.