Drew raps his way to better work connections
Drew Carrick, aka “Petty Ca$h”, has always wanted to entertain those around him. Whether it’s his original rap songs about accounting or him being his college mascot for a few events, Drew really enjoys standing out, so he was a natural fit for the Green Apple Podcast. His “Public Accounting Anthem” went viral and the rest was history. Colleagues at his firm have recognized his innovation and entertaining skills, and as such deemed him as the “Most Creative”. He’s even performed his original rap songs at Grant Thornton events, which got the attention of the Marketing group for some special projects.
In this episode, Drew and I talk about how Grant Thornton is doing some things to promote bringing your whole self to work. Drew said, “You shouldn’t only be yourself when you’re at home or hanging out with your friends. You should be able to be that around the people you work with, too.” For most people, work isn’t the most important thing in their lives and they need to know that it’s not only okay, but the norm. And it definitely doesn’t make you any less effective at your job.
Drew Carrick is a Senior Associate with Grant Thornton in their Melville, NY office. He’s an active member of the firm’s Innovation Council, a group of creative and innovative employees tasked with moving the firm toward the future with events, initiatives, and ideas.
He graduated from Mount St. Mary’s University with a BS in Accounting and then an MBA in Marketing.
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John: Welcome to Episode 84 of the Green Apple Podcast where each Wednesday I interview a professional known for a hobby or a passion, making them stand out like a green apple in a stereotypically red apple world. And to put it another way, it’s helping people find their “And,” as in my guest Drew Carrick is an accountant and makes rap videos. Trust me, when he tells people that, no one’s ever said to him, “Oh, really? Tell me more about the accountant part.” There’s a lot of science behind why this is.
For instance, there’s chemicals in your brain that are released when you meet interesting people called norepinephrine which creates engagement and then there’s another one called oxytocin that creates trust and bonding. Both of these are really crucial to developing of positive corporate culture with teams that are really engaged.
Before I get to this week’s guest, just a quick favor to ask you. If you like this show and are listening on iTunes or Stitcher, it’d be really cool if you could just leave a five-star rating and maybe a quick comment on those sites. It’d be a huge help. Thank you so much.
Okay. Now it’s time to introduce you to this week’s guest, Drew Carrick. I’ve seen this guy’s videos online for a while now. I’m pretty excited he is able to take time to be with me today and talk about how this side hobby has impacted his career in pretty amazing ways. Let’s jump right in, Drew. Thank you so much for being with me today on the Green Apple Podcast.
Drew: Yep. Thanks for having me. I’m glad to be here.
John: Man, I’m so excited to have you on. I’ve seen the music videos, the man, the myth, the legend. But there is more to you to character, right?
Drew: Yeah, around the office, they might call me Petty Ca$h, Dollar Sign $, but yeah.
John: Right. That’s awesome, man. I love it. I gave a little bit of an introduction but maybe in your words, a little bit of where you’re at now and how you got there.
Drew: I currently work at Grant Thornton, you know, fifth largest international public accounting firm and I’m in the Not-For-Profit and Higher Education Audit Group. I’ve been there since I interned in 2012 and 2013 over the summers and then I sort of full time after I finish the CPA exam and I’ve been kind of rolling with that since then.
John: Okay. Nice, man. That’s fantastic. Do you pass the exam or –?
Drew: Yeah. So I passed all four parts first try.
John: Sweet! That’s awesome.
Drew: Yeah. It was cool. I mean I took FAR first which of course is the hardest and after I got out of that exam, I cried. I would say I was lucky to have sunglasses on as I’m driving home and I walked out of that and there was another girl who was about to go in and she’s like, “Oh, what did you take?” I was like, “Oh, FAR was really difficult” and she’s like, “Yeah, this is my seventh time taking it. You kind of get used to it after a bit” and I’m like, “Ugh. Can’t let that be made.”
John: Yeah, man. Good for you.
Drew: But after that, everything was cake.
John: Yeah, I’m so old. We had to do all four parts at the same time and you had to pass two and then the other two get at least a 50. I spent most of the exam looking around the room, picking the three people I wanted to beat. I want to beat that girl, I want to beat that guy. But I did two and two. If you know anyone who hasn’t passed, I can let them borrow mine because I’m clearly not using it. Put it to good use, man. Put it to good use.
One thing I love to ask everyone is just I mean especially passing the exam first try. You’re pretty good at this accounting stuff like what made you want to choose accounting?
Drew: It’s like actually pretty weird. I never took any business course in any sense all throughout high school. I did all the AP classes. I was, you know, your generic Gen Eds and whatnot and so I kind of rolled right through, rolled into college. I came with 30 credits. I was actually able to skip a grade. They actually didn’t know what to put me in when I got there because I had already taken all my Gen Eds in the form of AP classes.
And so they’re like — so I ended up taking a Philosophy class like through film, I ended up taking a Business 201 class. After I took that business class, I was like, “Oh, let me try accounting next.” It kind of seems like a next logical step maybe. I took it and I just had the most hilarious teacher. He was a Vietnam War vet. He was just kind of like loony, crazy. He’s like a giant teddy bear. Everybody was scared of him but like he was really just a teddy bear inside.
He was just hilarious and I don’t know, something about debits and credits balancing out just really clicked in my head. So I said, all right. I’ll take this to the next class. The next thing you know, I was the president of the accounting club and I was like oh, wow. I guess I am pretty good at this and people like me and if so, let me go with that and that’s why I rolled with it.
John: That’s fantastic man. That’s very cool. Plus, you’re like what rhymes really well and has cool rap words? So let’s take that.
Drew: Yeah. It made sense.
John: Yeah. Well, I mean and that’s fantastic and I mean that leads into the next question is just what do you enjoy spending your free time when you have it?
Drew: Yeah. I mean, when I went to college, I made sure I was super involved with absolutely everything from the pep band to the student government to the mascot committee and actually got to be the mascot for a couple of video shoots which is pretty cool and I acted throughout high school and college and I got into the whole entertainment thing.
I was kind of the guy in school who was rapping at parties and we were just dropping freestyle, it’d be 2:00 in the morning and everybody will be like, “Oh, lay down a beat. Let’s just all start rapping and freestyling.” I was actually pretty good at it. As I was interning, I decided to write — Call Me Maybe had just came out and I decided to make a parody song, Call Me Maybe an Accountant. I was lifeguarding part-time. Now I’m working 9:00 to 5:00.
I kind of rolled with that whole thing and eventually when I started and Fetty Wap started blowing up too, I was like I really like this guy. Let me go with this and I ended up becoming you know, Petty Ca$h.
I was like well, the first line on the balance sheet, I’m number one so let me just roll with that. I do rapping and I do some skits and some acting and entertaining. I just kind of take something that’s typically boring and everybody is, you know, they’re sitting in trainings and they’re bored. “Oh, we got to learn about this fraud training.” I went ahead and during that training, as I’m learning this stuff, I’m writing down Closer, by The Chainsmokers parody called the Fraud Finder. I made that happen and I just kind of rolled with whatever accounting terminology came up to me and I now embody this Petty Ca$h, the accounting rapper and entertainer.
John: Yeah. I mean I think that’s awesome, man. That’s so cool. I mean I have some music parodies as well myself but I don’t venture into the rap world. Despite living in Brooklyn, I’m not tough enough. I don’t think they won’t let that slide. But no. I think that’s so cool, man. Was that something that you started in college then and just kind of ran with it?
Drew: I actually was in a band. I started writing songs when I was in I want to say 4th grade.
John: Oh, wow. Okay.
Drew: I wrote a song. My first song was called Bird Poop on My Window and that was a pop song and I joined a band here and there because I played the drums. Well, everybody else is like, “Oh, yeah. I’m all about the music and we just got to feel it bro.” I was all like, “Hey, let’s get a show. I want to be on stage and I want everybody to be yelling my name and like hey, I’m famous and everything.”
John: Right, right. Drum solo. Let’s do this. It basically kind of developed into this whole entertainment personality and I say well, how can I entertain people? When I got to college, I don’t really know where it started. I think I saw Hoodie Allen kind of blowing up and I was like there’s just this kid from Long Island who’s a couple of years older than I am, not more than 10-15 minutes from me and he went to UPenn as a business major, worked at Google and now he’s a professional rapper? I said, I could do that like I’m smart. I’m a business professional, I could do that.
I went ahead and I created this sort of frat rapping persona AJ Cooper and everybody in college knew me as AJ Cooper and I performed at a couple of school shows and all the times at parties. Everybody is like, “Yo! Yo! Drew wants to perform. Let Drew perform like AJ Cooper.” It just evolved because basically once I started working, I’m not a frat star. I can’t be a frat star anymore. I’m in the office so let’s tone it down.
John: Right. Then you go Petty Ca$h on them.
Drew: And I went Petty Ca$h.
John: You went straight to the streets.
Drew: Oh, yeah.
John: That’s funny.
Drew: We go hard.
John: Yeah. That’s very cool. Now, would you say that doing these songs and the parodies and what have you has helped you in the office at all?
Drew: Yeah. It’s funny because I was talking to a friend today because we’re both looking to transfer into the advisory services practices and both of our strong suits are really the personality and the charisma and being able to talk to clients and kind of communicate to them and a lot of the times, you have people who are very good at accounting but they’re kind of only looking at the paper.
They’re only looking at their screens and they don’t kind of pick their head up to kind of look at how do you socialize and become a part of the world around you and that’s the strong suit that I have and I think everybody at the firm at this point after a few years there, they’ve recognized that I am this outgoing personality who’s not afraid to talk to anybody and will say anything and I’ve had managers to share my music videos before with clients.
Drew: I have a client that give me a CFR report and he’s like, “I think you’ll find this CFR to be clean like a bookstore.” I just started nodding my head saying, “You saw the video, didn’t you?” He’s like, “Yeah, yeah. Your manager showed me.”
John: That’s cool, man. But I mean that’s so great because that just breaks up the monotony of everything and makes it fresh. There’s no reason it has to be stale like that.
Drew: Yeah, everybody misses me when I’m not in the office. I’m out at a client for too long because they’re like, “Oh, we haven’t seen you in the office forever. It’s like so boring in here.” I’d like to be the guy that adds that kind of color to the room and the sort of informal atmosphere that I kind of bring let’s people realize like we’re still human, just because we’re inside this boxed office doesn’t mean that we’re not allowed to be human anymore for those eight to ten hours and whatnot.
John: Right. How did this come up? I mean did you start sharing the videos with people or how does it come up that, “I got this rap persona?”
Drew: So I guess, I had that when I enter in the Call Me Maybe an Accountant type of thing and that kind of was the start. I would share that with my accounting classes and whatnot. But I guess once I started and I was seeing how kind of boring everybody else was and I was like that’s not me, what can I do to kind of stand out? I’ve always kind of been into song writing and making parody songs. I’ve done that a descent amount. I was a big Weird Al fan back in the day.
John: Oh, yeah man. Absolutely. He’s a legend.
Drew: Yeah, sure. The first song I came out with was, it was 1231 and it was a take on Fetty Wap 679 because I just loved the song and I just started thinking in my head, how can I turn this song into an accounting song and make it relevant and I think maybe I could blow up in the accounting world type of thing and I just started doing it and they have like video competitions that my company would host like the best accountant’s trick shot video competition.
I was the first one who’s making that video and they’d have like, submit like a funny picture of you in the office and I’m the first one like submitting some ridiculous picture wearing a ducky tie or like a frank and flannel shirt. I wanted it to be known. I made it my mission to — I want to be known at this firm for being that guy that everybody knows. And not ironically enough, coincidentally enough, that summer after my first year they did superlatives at our year-end event and I won. I was voted by my pears and I won most creative accountant and not creative in the sense of fraud but creative in the sense of the MacGyver award as they called it.
John: Nice, nice. Yeah, man. I mean that’s fantastic. When you went in, you made it your mission. Were you ever nervous at all that like, “Oh, man, every partner’s going to know who I am.”
Drew: I know a lot of people there I feel like are always hesitant to partake in the videos. I’d say, “Hey, can you be in this video with me?” And a lot of people, they didn’t want to be a part of it because they’re like, “Ah, I don’t want my face to be seen. I don’t want to be associated with that.” I experienced that throughout college too with my friends. The Harlem Shake came out and I was like, “Guys, let’s make a Harlem Shake video.” And everybody’s like, “Oh, I don’t want to be on that.” I’m like what’s the worst thing that happens? Your reputation is ruined and nobody is going to be friends with you anymore? What’s the best thing that happens like it goes viral and you end up on Ellen.
I kind of had that mentality. There have been times though throughout working there where I’ve had like somebody say, “Oh, you got to tone it down a little bit” type of thing where I often kind of go into the radar a little bit where I’m getting too caught up and too riled up and it’s like tone it down, take a breath and whatnot and it kind of levels me out a little bit but I’m a little more conscious I guess of when I’m doing it and just making sure I’m doing it at the right times but I try not to think. These partners, they’re people too. They’re humans too. Everybody at the firm is just another person. I don’t think anybody’s like more valuable than another one like, “Oh, you know the ASU guidance in and out? That’s really great when the apocalypse happens and then we need to start a fire.” You could citing the AICPA legislation, you know.
John: Exactly, right.
Drew: A few times, I’ve had to tone it down but otherwise I kind of just free roll.
John: Sure, absolutely and you don’t know where that line is unless you cross it or you come up right on it and then all right, cool enough and you’re still doing well at your job. You’re doing, putting out good work. It’s just watching, making sure that it’s not distracting to others and instead enhancing them. That’s the tricky part that I had the same thing because I mean it’s like, “Man, it’s getting too quiet in here. Are you guys alive? What’s up?” And it’s, “Oh, no. We’re just concentrating.” Oh, my God. I wouldn’t know what that is like I don’t know what you’re — It’s overrated.
John: Yeah, man. That’s very cool though. But I mean did you find that wanting to transition to the advisory services or wanting to get staff on projects, so you find that you have unique relationships with people because they already know who you are?
Drew: Yes. I guess one of the cool things that we’re unleashing as a firm is innovation council which is it’s an eight-man committee of people who are under 30 in the New York Metro area who have been identified by upper management as more creative and sort of forward thinking individuals. I was selected to be part of that. I credit a lot of that to making sure that my name was known and it’s funny because I’ll run into people and they’d be like, “Oh, that’s Petty Ca$h” or they’d be like, “Oh, that’s the guy.” Some managers who might be a little more square, they might be like, “Oh, should we staff this guy? Is he going to be too talkative?” I’ve got that in a review before like he does great work but he talks a lot.
John: Yeah, right. It’s called rapping. Excuse me.
Drew: Yeah. Please, get it right.
John: Right. I could see that but it’s a — you know, to each their own and as long as you’re doing good work, I mean it’s hard for anyone to really complain about that and no matter what you do, people are going to have something to say about it.
Drew: Yeah. One of the things too kind of along that lines is I’ve had people who actually kind of come up to me and they recognize me as a creative individual from those things that I have put out and I had a senior manager come to me and say, “I have to do this project for a senior manager training where we have to help the company with the social media” and I’m like well, that’s my strong suit, tell me what you need to know. I was like feeding him sort of — I was helping a senior manager with his project.
John: There you go.
Drew: Or the senior manager training on social media. And another thing that came around was we do a thought leadership bulletin that we’ll send out so it’s a publication on the state of Higher Ed or the state of not-for-profit. Usually it’s a bunch of partners and managers writing these articles about how changing legislation or the politics or the environment’s going to impact accounting and stuff but they wanted to do an article on a trending topic which was retaining the millennial workforce and as somebody who’s been a featured writer in Elite Daily which was the New York leading millennial magazine, online magazine. They came to me and said, you know, “Would you want to co-author an article with us?” I said absolutely. I co-authored an article with a partner and a senior manager that got published and sent out to all of our not-for-profit and the higher education clients.
John: That’s huge, man. Yeah. Absolutely. What do you think it is that makes you okay with wanting to get out there and be known and a lot of your peers and my peers when I started to be like, “Oh, no. Just keep your head down and do your work.” What is it that makes people want to just fall in line with what they think the stereotype of an accountant is?
Drew: I mean I don’t know if it’s one caused the other where people with that sort of square attitude are more likely to become accountants or people become accountants and then they end up with that sort of square personality but I would say, it comes from the top and I think having a good top of a company that’s really promoting you to be yourself is very important and our company has been working on undergoing a transformation where they’re really trying to focus on culture and allowing people to bring the terminology that uses their whole self to work saying, you shouldn’t have to only be yourself when you’re at home or when you’re out with your friends. You should be able to be that around the people you work with because you’re spending — if you worked at a firm your whole life, half of your life with these people.
John: For sure, yeah.
Drew: I think having that example being set at the top that you can kind of be something unique and be yourself and showing that a partner’s doing this or somebody’s at the firm is doing this and it’s okay for them to do, then like, “Hey, I could be myself too.” I kind of try and be that example and say, “Why not act yourself? What’s going to happen?” They’re not going to be like you’re fired because you were rapping in the office the other day, right?
John: Right, right. If anything, you get on Ellen. Like that’s what we’re going for here, Drew, like come on!
Drew: Yes. That’s the goal.
John: That’s fantastic, and wear this Grant Thornton shirt when you’re on the show. I mean I agree with you totally. I mean if partners and senior managers and leadership show that vulnerable side of themselves, that’s just a great example. But you know, it doesn’t always have to be there and you’re an example of that where maybe it’s not always there. But you find your way within your own little circle or in due time. You make your impact, and clients love it. Coworkers certainly love it. They know who you are and yeah, I think that’s great. I was going to ask if there was anything specific that Grant Thornton does to encourage this?
Drew: Right. We have on freezing sessions, which they have been going on. Basically, they started in the middle of last year. At this point, I think like 90% of the firm has been unfrozen. We’ve been thought out. I think they keep on doing that for new people when they get hired and whatnot. They’ll have these sessions where they have — it’s a two-day event of just kind of opening up, expressing yourself like what is important to you? We call it our purple chips, since purple’s GT’s color. It’s all about what are you doing? That’s the most important thing too, to get done. And so a lot of people, in the old way, might’ve said like, “Oh, number one is client service, like that’s my purple chip. I want to deliver the tangible to the client efficiently, save them the most money and do this and do that.”
In this kind of rework that they’re saying like, “No, my purple chip’s my family. I want to spend time with them. If I get a call from work, but I’m at my kid’s soccer game and he’s a — you know, I don’t want to miss him scoring that goal” and, “Oh, did you see me?” And like, “Oh, no. I had an important phone call.” A lot of the partners are — they’re leading the forefront for that and then they’re working on changing the mentality to be like, “No. I’m not going to answer the phone. I’m going to go to my kid’s game and that’s what’s important to me first and then dealing with the client is important after that.”
When you kind of prioritize in that sort of sense, it makes people feel a little bit like they’re not as stressed from the work because they know that it’s not the most important thing for everybody.
John: Yeah, yeah. And plus then once you know what other people’s chips are, if they’re the same kind of chips or you at least know what most people tic and you know what their driving forces are then you’re just a closer family. You can work better together that way and I think that’s a cool idea. That’s great. And so that happens over like a two-day thing where everyone just kind of shares openly?
Drew: Yeah. They have a presentation they put together. I think there’s a firm that’s focus is on these kind of corporate culture and they put together this presentation and we adapted it for our firm in our industry and it’s a whole bunch of things from these little ice breaker games that you play to this collaboration team work type of games and you get to know where would you put yourself in that?
There’s the quadrants of the personality and like where does your character kind of fall and how do you have a proper open communication with somebody, literally a two-way conversation where you’re listening to the other person, getting something out of it, and then returning a response as oppose to just listening only to say, your point or only listening for you to learn something and not to give them a valued response and it kind of takes things to the next level and I thought that was really cool because I’m a Philosophy minor. The whole act of getting to know people and socialization as an Aristotelian, that’s like my bread and butter.
John: There you go. Nice. I like it. That’s very cool, man. It’s neat to see a big firm like that and take a step back and we’re not chargeable right now but it’s because we’re getting stronger as a team and we’re going to come back out after these two days, after we thaw out and just blow the roof off. That’s an excellent example and I love it. I think it’s cool. I think it’s great. Do you have any words of encouragement to anybody out there listening that’s maybe a budding rap star or somebody that’s like, “No one else raps in my office. They’re not going to care.”
Drew: Well, I mean if you’re a producer, hit me up because I’d love to collaborate sometime.
John: Yeah, right. If JZ’s listening, we got to hook this up.
Drew: But I mean I think it doesn’t hurt to try. There’s nothing bad that’s going to happen if you keep on trying to be yourself and follow your dream and follow your ambitions. It’s not something that I just I came up knowing like I’m going to always be following this passion. I kind of let my passions direct me and I kind of follow where my heart’s going and where my desires are going. That’s kind of leading me around through this career map and from audit to maybe to advisory and I did a rotation with marketing and I got to be creative there to now being part of this innovation council and whatnot.
I think it’s important that if you’re hesitant to do it, if your firm really has that type of environment where you can’t be yourself, then you need to consider where can I go that will allow me to be myself because that’s not a good environment to be in. If there’s really nothing that says that you can’t act like yourself at your company, then don’t be afraid to. That old mentality is leaving and I think the new wave of thinking is coming and I think a lot of firms are going to be doing what my firm is doing as far as making these transitions to a people-first and a people-oriented culture where it’s about you being able to be yourself and works just something that happens during the day while you’re being yourself.
John: Right, exactly. I love it. It just gives you the means to be able to go and do your passions and your hobbies and make the world a better place. Now, that’s well said man. Well, I have my rules before we collaborate on our next rap album or song, I do have to run you through my 17 rapid fire questions.
Drew: All right.
John: This has been really fantastic. I know you’re going to nail this. It’s going to be so fun. Let me fire this thing up.
Drew: It’s like freestyling.
John: Freestyling. This is all good. It’s all good. I’ll start with an easy one, super easy. Favorite sports team.
John: Islanders, okay. All right. Sudoku or crossword puzzle?
Drew: I’d say crossword puzzle.
John: Crossword, all right. Do you have a favorite color?
Drew: Blue, matches my eyes.
John: There you go, and how about a least favorite color?
Drew: I would say green. It’s just blah.
John: Right. How about Star Wars or Star Trek?
Drew: I haven’t seen either to be honest.
John: There you go. All right. How about any movie trilogy, Rocky maybe?
Drew: Oh, Mighty Ducks.
John: Might Ducks. Okay, Mighty Ducks. That works. How about a PC or Mac?
Drew: The thing about that is I have both. One’s for work and one is for creativity. I think everybody can guess those.
John: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Now when it comes to a mouse, are you more right click or left click?
Drew: I’m a left click.
John: Left click, all right. All right. Now more suit and tie or jeans and a t-shirt?
Drew: I actually love suiting up.
John: Yeah? Nice, nice. How about from New York, favorite toppings on a pizza?
Drew: Bacon and pineapple.
John: Bacon and pineapple. Wow, you just ticked off half the audience right there with pineapple. I like it too but I don’t know why people have a thing for it. How about do you have a favorite number?
John: Eight, and why is that?
Drew: I don’t know. I mean it’s just been my number for all my sports teams whenever I played. I just kind of go with eight.
John: Okay, yeah, right. It’s a cool looking number. Now when it comes to financials, more balance sheet or income statement?
Drew: I’m a balance sheet type of guy.
John: That’s a silly question on my part. How about a favorite place you’ve been on vacation.
Drew: Saint Martin.
John: Nice. How about more cats or dogs?
Drew: Dogs, 100%.
John: Dogs, all right. We got four more. Boxers or briefs?
Drew: I’m boxer brief type of guy.
John: Oh, there you go. You’re the millennial all the way. How about do you have a favorite comedian?
Drew: It’s got to be John Garrett.
John: Right. You’re already on the show, man like seriously. Early bird or night owl?
Drew: I’m a night owl.
John: Night owl. The last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own?
Drew: I have an AR-15 that I build myself.
John: Wow. That’s impressive man. That’s impressive. Well, this has been so fun, Drew. This has been really great and I can’t wait to follow your career. Thank you so much for being a part of the Green Apple Podcast.
Drew: Yeah, I’m glad to be part of it. Thanks for having me.
John: Seriously, how fun was that? I just loved how Drew said you shouldn’t only be yourself when you’re at home or hanging out with your friends. You should be able to be that around the people you work with too. It’d be so great if we didn’t let professionalism suffocate our personalities so we could be ourselves all the time.
If you like to see some pictures of Drew and his balance sheet boys or see his rap videos and connect with him on social media, be sure to go to greenapplepodcast.com and all the links are there, and while you’re on the page, please click that big green button and do the anonymous research survey about firm culture. Thank you so much for the ratings on iTunes and Stitcher and for sharing this with your friends so they get the message that we’re all trying to spread which is to go out and be a green apple.