Scott is an Accountant & Actor
Scott Usher returns to the podcast from episode #61 to talk about his recent performances as a theatre actor, how having connections with colleagues can make you more effective at your job, and examples of how Bader Martin encourages building these connections!
• Participating in virtual play readings
• Acting in Harold Pinter one-acts
• Activities at Bader Martin that promote building internal relationships
• Examples of how Scott has built connections through his passion for acting
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Pictures of Scott Acting
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Welcome to Episode 296 of What’s Your “And”? Follow-Up Friday edition. This is John Garrett, and each Friday, I’m following up with a guest who had been on the show a few years ago, to hear what’s new with their passions outside of work and also hear how this message might have impacted them since we last talked.
I’m so excited to let everyone know that my book’s being published in September. It’ll be available on Amazon, Indigo and a few other websites, so check out whatsyourand.com for all the details and when the pre-sale is going to happen. Or you can sign up for my exclusive list and be the first to know when it’s coming out.
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 Wednesday and now with Follow-Up Fridays, and this one’s going to be no different with my guest, Scott Usher. He’s a principal in the Tech Services at Bader Martin in Seattle, and now he’s with me here today. Scott, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Scott: Thank you for inviting me.
John: Absolutely, man. It’s always fun to connect. I have my rapid fire questions right out of the gate here, get to know Scott, so some different ones from the first time we talked. So, if you had to choose, Harry Potter or Game of Thrones.
Scott: Harry Potter.
John: Harry Potter, all right. How about a favorite activity from gym class when you were a kid?
John: Oh, solid answer. I don’t know if they’re allowed to do that anymore, which is a shame. It’s such a classic. How about more jeans or khakis?
John: Okay, okay. How about a favorite Disney character?
Scott: Jafar came to mind. I think he’s more complex than people realize.
John: Yeah, that’s deep. That’s a deep answer. Okay, how about a good hamburger or a good pizza?
Scott: Hamburger. It takes more creativity to make it good.
John: Oh, there you go, there you go. Okay, two more. How about a favorite sports team?
Scott: Oh, Seahawks.
John: Yeah, I was going to say it’s pretty much a slam dunk, I would imagine. The last one, toilet paper roll, over or under.
Scott: Over. It’s in the actual patent designs.
John: Right, right. The other way is just illegal. It’s wrong.
Scott: You have to handle too much.
John: Exactly. No, I totally agree. I just love asking that because every once in a while, I get an under, and there’s a reason. I’m not sure if I believe them. Episode 61, God bless you for being on so long. It was so early. I had no idea what I was doing. I’m not sure if I know now, but it was so fun talking about theater and all the shows that you had done and the cool roles that you had. Is theater still a part of your life?
Scott: Yeah, yeah, it’s kind of different. I’ve had some opportunities recently to go ahead and do some online deals, and I’ve got one coming up where we’re just going to basically hang out in a virtual Zoom room and do a play reading. Everybody’s got their part, and we’re just going to, just work it and have fun with it.
John: Yeah, that’s really cool that technology still allows you to keep pursuing those passions.
Scott: Yeah. I’ve actually seen a number of playwrights are using it as a way to get their work out there earlier than they probably would have otherwise, because everybody understands the limitations, so we may see a lot more new work develop.
John: Oh, wow. That’s an interesting point, yeah, because then you can workshop it and do those readings virtually and then more people can have exposure to it as well because it’s all online.
John: That’s impressive, man. That’s impressive. But even before all of this, were you able to do quite a few shows last year and —
Scott: Yeah, last year, I think I had a chance to do — there’s a great playwright named Harold Pinter, and he’s written some of the most classic plays out there and did a couple of one acts that he had done. I had the opportunity to be in one. I had never gotten to do serious, serious drama before.
John: Right, yeah, because you were usually doing some humorous characters or bringing some personality to that, right?
Scott: Or musicals, yeah.
John: Or musicals, yeah, yeah.
Scott: It was fun to be able to actually then kind of explore character in a smaller role and really get into the nuances of things, so it’s a good learning experience, too.
John: Yeah, yeah, I never thought about that. Plus, when it’s just like a one act thing, is it usually where there’s a lot more going on in a shorter amount of time? Or is it just something happens and it’s just maybe just a deeper experience for everyone involved?
Scott: It’s more of kind of a complete idea just expressed through something that’s under an hour long.
John: Oh, okay. That seems to be the way everything’s going these days with just — it’s like the YouTube version of a show or whatever. Just like, can you speed it up? It’s like, no, no, sometimes the longer ones are good type of thing. I know that you’ve shared it with coworkers when we talked on Episode 61 and stuff like that. Have you seen more people sharing their hobbies and passions now, or is there still work for me to do?
Scott: I think we’re seeing it a little bit more because we’ve been having virtual events, and leading up to them, we’ve had things — we’ve had chances to talk to people. We’ve even had a new hire come on. We’ve had a chance to interview our new person, what they’re doing, what they like. The human support, HR people have had things like trivia, immaturely before, but things like photo scavenger hunts and people say what their favorite places are to vacation, to have lunch. So, it’s actually, I think, fostered more opportunity through kind of a bigger virtual break room to get to know that type of stuff about people.
John: I love that, virtual break room. That’s such a great visual. Yeah, because that’s the thing, all working from home stuff, we’ve all seen each other raw now. I’ve been in your house type of a thing, and vice versa, and maybe people that you would never have invited over. We’ve seen someone in pajamas. We’ve seen their kids running around. We’ve seen what kind of art they have on their walls, all those things. It’s cool to see how it’s created a positive experience there at Bader Martin, rally cool. Even before all this, did you think that people were sharing or that you were encouraging that type of thing as a firm?
Scott: Oh, most definitely. So many times, when we talk to a client about why we did or didn’t get a job, say, on a proposal, it comes down to the one-on-one time we had with each other, not just what we put down on paper. So, it was about the real people. I continue to have people say, “Oh, I was reading your bio.” Or could be client that we haven’t had for a while and they just happen to read the bio and they say, “I didn’t know you did these things.” It’s maybe a point of common interest, something they’ve done, or something that’s really important to them. Those one act plays by Harold Pinter, a controller of one of our companies actually came all the way over from Seattle to see it because he’s a big Pinter fan and had some connection to the family. So, we’ve built a deeper level of connection with the client over an issue.
John: That’s fantastic. Yeah, that’s really great, and I love how you have it in the bio on the website. Because so many people are so worried about, here’s how smart I am, and here’s everything I know. I wonder how often people reach out, saying, “Hey, I noticed,” whatever smarty pants things people have on their website versus those personal things that are usually just slapped onto the end but tend to get the most attention.
John: That’s awesome. That’s so great to hear that, one of the clients comes all the way, yeah, like a ferry ride to get to where you are, to see a show like that. Do you feel like people are talking about hobbies and passions more in the office?
Scott: I think so. I really do. I can mostly speak for myself, but we’ve got different groups specialize in like Estate and Trust or Real Estate or operating businesses in retail. We’re starting to get together in smaller groups, which I think makes that happen, at one end of the scale, probably even more because it’s — you get together and, either before or after the meeting, you say, “Hey, what’s going on? What’s new in your life and everything?” I think at our firm, people are, they’re not closed off. They’re always willing to go ahead and mention just interesting things they’re doing and places they’ve been.
John: That’s great, yeah, because that’s where conversations happen, in that. Yeah, that’s really fantastic because that’s not always the case type of a thing.
Scott: Yeah, and it helps us work together. Collaboration, I think, is better because it’s not so strictly just, here’s our task. Okay, go back and go to your desk and do work.
John: Right. I guess it shows that you care about them as a person and all the other things that they’re interested in type of thing. Plus, I would imagine that — I mean, for me personally, when I worked in the corporate world, I didn’t want to talk about work all the time. It was okay to take a little breather, to talk about something normal, if you will. Then you find people that have the same interest and all of sudden, you’re best friends for no reason, type of thing, and that connection just becomes a lot stronger, like you mentioned.
John: That’s awesome, man. That’s really cool. Do you have any words of encouragement to anyone listening that thinks that maybe they have a hobby or a passion that has nothing to do with their job?
Scott: I’d encourage people just to open up it and really share that because you’re going to find other people who have common interests or complementary interests. When we can get together, whether it’s during business hours or after business hours, and get to be people with people and not just different levels of accounting, I think that makes time go by faster. It ultimately makes us more effective at what we do because we’re enjoying the people we’re working with, and it’s more real.
John: Right, it’s more real. That’s huge, yeah, because people that don’t know you do theater; yeah, sure, you’re really good at taxes, but so is probably everyone else at Bader Martin, too. They’re also good at taxes. They’re not there on accident. But all of a sudden, you start to throw in these little nuances of what different people like to do outside of work, and all of a sudden, it becomes an interesting group of people that you’re around, like a play, if you will. There’s now characters that have personalities, instead of, oh, it’s just, we have 30 of the exact same character. That would be a terrible play.
Scott: That’s right.
John: I just thought of that. Totally, though, I would not go see that. I don’t care how good the music was. I would never see that musical. Unless it was Cats and they were all the rocker cat, then I would probably go to see that. Even then, it would get boring.
Scott: Trying to do Cats in many ways.
John: Right, right.
Scott: Very easily.
John: Exactly. Or like Hamilton, like you said, we were talking earlier, just came out on the Disney Plus, and every character can’t be Hamilton. There has to be other characters too, like the king who’s hilarious. Yeah, that’s exactly how it works out. I think that’s such great encouragement for everybody listening. That’s awesome.
It’s only fair that I turn the tables and let you question me, if you’d like, Scott. It’s now the Scott Usher show, and you can now rapid fire question me since I so rudely fired away at you in the beginning. I’m ready. I’m buckled in.
Scott: No worries. About how many days do you spend on the road?
John: Oh, how many days on the road, that’s a good question. Obviously, in the last couple of months, not as much; but typically, in a month, maybe five days, I’m away, but a lot of them are quick strikes. I fly in, speak at a conference, maybe I’ll stay a night or two, and then come back type of thing, so, yeah, not too long. When I was doing the comedy clubs, that would be 20-plus days a month, I was gone. It’s a lot better now, that’s for sure, lifestyle-wise.
Scott: What was last movie you watched that made you laugh out loud uncontrollably?
John: Oh, wow, last movie. Oh, Jojo Rabbit, we just watched that. I laughed pretty hard at that. That’s a dark comedy, for sure. It’s about a kid who has an imaginary friend who happens to be Hitler in Germany but then it all works out for the good in the end. It’s just an interesting premise that leads to a lot of unusual circumstances, but there are a lot of funny parts in there that I definitely laughed at that. Then, more recently on Netflix, I watched Space Force which was pretty funny. Steve Carell is hilarious. There’s a lot of funny people in that show. That was a funny one too.
Scott: Great. One more, Star Trek versus Star Wars.
John: Oh, Star Wars all day. Star Wars all day. We might have to fight on this. I don’t know. I just grew up when Star Wars first came out. I remember going to the theater for that as a very, very young child. Although, that being said, I have not seen anything after the first three. I didn’t hear good things, so I was like, I don’t want to ruin it. So, after Return of the Jedi, I don’t know anything after that. There you go.
Well, thanks so much, Scott, for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”? This was super fun to catch up. Thanks.
Scott: Thank you.
John: Absolutely, and everybody listening, if you want to see some pictures of Scott in action or maybe connect with him on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. All the links are there, and while you’re on the page, please click that big button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture.
Thanks again for subscribing 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.
Nick is a Marketing Specialist & Actor
Nick Nappo returns to the podcast from episode 135 to talk about his shift in hobbies from competitive trivia to theater acting! He also talks about how his acting experience helps with his ability to develop relationships in the office and how your passion truly defines who you are as a person!
• Nick talks about winning another trivia championship
• Returning to theater acting
• Acting in Shakespeare
• How making a career out of a hobby can change your perception of it
• Talking about his theater performances in the office
• How his acting experience helps with developing relationships in the office
Please take 2 minutes
to do John’s anonymous survey
about Corporate Culture!
(click to enlarge)
- Read Full TranscriptOpen or Close
Welcome to Episode 282 of What’s Your “And”? Follow-Up Friday Edition. This is John Garrett. Each Friday, I’m following-up with a guest who had been on the show a few years ago to hear what’s new with their passions outside of work and also hear how this message might’ve impacted them since we last talked.
I’m so excited to let everyone know that my book’s being published very soon, and it’ll be available on Amazon and a few other websites. Check out whatsyourand.com for all the details or sign up for my exclusive list and you’ll be the first to know when it’s coming out.
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. This Follow-up Friday is no different with my guest, Nick Nappo. He’s a marketing specialist with Konica Minolta, and now he’s with me here today. Nick, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Nick: John, thank you so much for having me back. It’s great to be here.
John: For sure, man. I mean it’s been a couple of years and you’ve had some changes so it’s going to be exciting.
Nick: Yes, I have. I’m looking forward to sharing them with you.
John: Absolutely. But first, rapid fire questions right out of the gate here.
Nick: Of course.
John: Here we go. Harry Potter or Game of Thrones?
Nick: I never got in to Game of Thrones. I mean I’ve never been into the sci-fantasy genre at all so I’m going to say Harry Potter.
John: Yeah. I’ve never seen Game of Thrones either because it’s one of those channels you have to pay for.
Nick: And then the way it ended, you know, 20 points for that.
John: Yeah. I just heard it was terrible so I’m like, well, now I don’t want to watch.
Nick: Yeah, facts.
John: All right. This is an easy one, or maybe not. Oceans or mountains.
John: Oceans. Yeah, that’s what I figured. Yeah, yeah, living in Jersey. Kindle or real books?
Nick: I actually like real book. I’ve never owned a Kindle, but I really like the feel and even the smell of a real book.
John: No, totally. Especially those older ones. Yeah, that’s pretty awesome. How about brownie or ice cream?
John: There you go. That was a trick question. That is the right answer. How about a favorite TV show of all time?
Nick: Oh, favorite TV show of all time. That’s tough.
John: It could be more than one. That’s okay.
Nick: I have no shame. I watched Full House in high school like I was getting paid for it.
John: Right, cut it out.
Nick: Cut it out.
John: I’ve actually done comedy with Dave Coulier.
Nick: Dave Coulier? Oh, nice.
John: Yeah, super nice guy.
Nick: But as I got older, I appreciated the Golden Girls, really got into that.
John: Oh, hilarious show.
Nick: Love it so much. Now, I’m really into Schitt’s Creek. That’s a funny one.
John: Yeah, absolutely. Very funny shows. I see where you’re at. How about more jeans or khakis?
John: Jeans, okay. One more. Toilet paper roll. Over or under?
Nick: Over. Who has time for that? Who has time for that kind of negativity and that kind of challenge in their life?
John: Right, exactly. I’m just leaving.
So your Episode 135. Holy cow, man. We talked of course the trivia and world championships, kicking butt and taking names and having people stop by your cubicles and asking you questions and keeping you sharp. Is that something that you’re still doing now, or you’ve changed it up a little?
Nick: Well, actually, I should tell you that this other team at my company actually got in on it too. I think I mentioned that I had the white board outside of my cubicle where I would post a question every week. Well, this other team decided to get on and they had a big white board in their area. It was like a team collective white board. They would post a question every day, and they would like rotate around and you know, I kid around, and I asked them about it, and I said, “What are you doing? You guys are jacking my swag.” And then they’re like, listen, some people like Coke and some people like Pepsi.
It’s a fun thing though so we played off of each other’s questions. They ask really good questions too. There’s another guy who is on their team that’s also really into trivia and he’s just a beast when it comes to that kind of stuff. He’s taken the Jeopardy test, so I said I’m pulling for him to be in the show. Yeah, that’s something I still continue with and people still know me for that.
John: That’s cool that that rubbed off on others that clearly, had you not even done that or had you been like well, you know, I don’t want to share that with people or whatever, that would have never happened and now, it’s carried on into another department, and it’s a thing.
Nick: Yeah. I really solidified my place. People know me, and people have gotten to know me, and they’ve got to really know what I’m all about. Just speaking to your goal here, what you’re looking to accomplish, people need to know the real you. They really need to know what about you and what really drives you outside of work because that’s what really defines you as a person, that’s what really makes the whole you, and that’s what will make people gravitate towards you and want to get to know you better.
Since then, they’ve gravitated towards me, I would say in a different way because when we last spoke, that was spring of 2018. So early that year, we went back to Atlantic City, and I mentioned we won again, we won the World Tavern Trivia National Championship back to back.
John: Which is huge.
Nick: Yeah. It was great. It was fun. But after that, my passion shifted a little bit and it was around that same time that I stopped doing performance poetry. I mentioned in our first interview that I had been to Denver in 2017 for the National Poetry Slam. I was part of the Rockland County team that represented the county at National Poetry Slam in 2016 and ’17.
After I came back from Denver in 2017, I didn’t do poetry anymore. I just ran out of things to say. I still love performing and things like that, but I was still involved just like an audience member and a participant and a groupie and stuff like that, but I didn’t really continue to perform poetry.
For about a year, I didn’t have anything to really fuel that creative outlet, that I had have for my entire life. I was looking for something to do. The summer of 2018, I saw that this theatre company near me, this community theatre was having auditions for a play called Disgraced which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013. It’s one of the probably most compelling plays and the most powerful plays of this past decade. It basically talks about Muslim-American identity and political and religious identity in the United States following 9/11.
It was a very topical play, a very relevant play, very provocative play. It was the kind of thing I wanted to get involved in. I went to this theatre and I auditioned. This was the first play I had gone out for in six years. I mean I had done it in high school. I grew up in the theatre since I was ten years old. I was in al the plays in high school, studied it in college, did plays there, I did it for a little bit after college.
Then it just stopped being fun. It turned into something I had to go do every night, and it’s really different when money gets involved, right? When something is your career just versus your hobby, there’s a lot of pressures of needing to impress a casting director, an agent, or needing to pay your rent or your bills. It was those aspects that really pulled me away from acting six years ago. But when I came back into it, I was like well, let me do this again. Let me take a risk. Let me put myself out there. Let me try and get to know new people and use this as a way to really explore a different part of myself, a part of myself that I didn’t really know that was there. Let me challenge myself. I went to this audition and I got the part.
John: That’s awesome.
Nick: Yeah, and that went up in January 2019, then that was the first of four plays that I did in 2019. That was the start of getting assimilated in the theatre scene around here, New York, New Jersey, and there were a lot of great companies around here that it just represents a circuit and people get involved with the different theatres, and everybody knows everybody, so after Disgraced, I went to do Neil Simon’s Lost in Yonkers at another theatre just right down the road from my house and then after that, if you want to talk about challenging yourself, I did Shakespeare.
John: Holy cow.
Nick: Yeah, I was Prospero in The Tempest for a local Shakespeare company just a big leading role and even though I was only 30, I knew I was far younger than all of the other great actors that have ever played the role, but it was like well, let me do this. Let me go out on a limb and challenge myself not just to learn all of these lines but to bring a young fresh take to this iconic character. Let me do it my own way and let me do it in a way that’s true to myself. The authenticity really came out and the way in which I rose to the occasion, I feel really helped me grow as an actor. That was a great role.
Then after that, I did The Full Monty down in New Jersey which is my all-time favorite musical. That was the biggest joy I’ve had on stage. So we’re here. Obviously given the current circumstances, I mentioned that my show — the show I was involved in got called off, well, actually it was rescheduled to next spring. They planned their season for next year and they decided that it would happen next spring after all. Never say never so I’ll be back into it.
This time, I’ve been doing play readings, I had gotten back into writing so writing ten-minute plays and just trying to get more involved in like the playwriting community, thankfully for Zoom, thankfully for all these videoconferencing platforms such as QuadCast. You’re never far from people and there’s always a great way for you to connect with others.
John: That’s so fantastic and so cool to hear. I mean you did it back in the day but when it’s your job and when there’s money involved like you said, it’s different. I mean I made that switch from doing comedy for fun at night and al of a sudden, it was like oh, wow. This is how I have to make a living. Now, there’s some hustle, and now there’s grit, and you have to do stuff like the jokes that you don’t really want to do because you need the money.
Nick: Exactly. There are career pressures. Like you said, you find yourself pursuing just every little thing. Even if you’re just vaguely right for it, at least when I do it now as a hobby, I can pick and choose what I get involved with, and I can dedicate myself in projects that I’m really passionate about and that really sing to me.
With all the things I’ve done in the past year, I’ve never felt like I was wasting my time. I mean I worked hard. I was tired of course but I —
John: For sure.
Nick: I never felt like my time was wasted.
John: When passion is driving it, then it’s not as exhausting.0
Nick: No, absolutely not.
John: And especially when you get to do Full Monty, it’s like man, I would be in the crowd for this. But I’m the one on the stage. I’m watching the show from on the stage.0
Nick: That was just an unreal experience. It was so great, so great.
John: That’s awesome, man. That’s so cool to hear, and just how it lights you up so much, and you can just hear it in your voice. I guess is this something that you share with people at the office now too.
Nick: In fact, yeah. Actually, it is. When I would market my shows, I would just put the little poster in the common area next to the water cooler and people would ask me about the show and that’s how I got to learn that people really enjoy theatre or they, themselves, were involved in theatre or they had a family member that was involved in theatre.
There’s actually another co-worker of mine that has her own theatre company here in New Jersey, so I’ve seen a couple of shows of her so it’s definitely something we bond over and we can have the conversations. It’s always good when theatre people can connect with each other because oftentimes, they’re in a world where people — I mean they appreciate what they do but they don’t really understand the nitty-gritty of what they do. It’s always nice to connect with people that share those same stories and those same challenges and struggles, and also, those same joys.
John: Yeah, yeah. Because I mean the show’s maybe three hours long, but you don’t understand the months and months of rehearsal and practice to get to that three-hour.
Nick: Yeah. For a lot of people, it’s a fun night out, but for people like me, it’s been two months of rehearsing three or four nights a week and on weekends too, I’m learning the lines and you know, it’s a lot of work to create a character.
John: For sure. Do you ever like on the last night, ever throw in some ringers or so something a little bit off grid?
Nick: No. Well, I may not be being paid, but I’m still as professional as —
John: Oh, okay. All right. Because sometimes, when we do comedy shows, we would have like okay, everybody, you have to work this word into your set somehow and like it’s funny because by the third person, the audience kind of catches on but yeah, that’s just something that I would do and why I’m probably not an actor.
Nick: I mean I take that back. One time, I did the Pirates of Penzance, and I was one of the pirates in the ensemble. The way the show was staged and choreographed, the pirates would often stand in clumps all the time, very tight together, so one of the guys brought in this little Lego that looked like — we called it little mini Fredrick, because Fredrick was one of the characters in the play, so it looked like it.
Throughout the play, starting from the beginning and going all the way to the end, we would pass this little Lego figurine among each other on stage. Just like if you were putting your arm around a guy, you would like shove it down his shirt or like stick it into his pocket and you would just try and move the thing around as much as possible. If you had it at the end of the show, you lost.
John: Oh, that’s great.
Nick: One performance, there was the curtain call, so I went, and I took my bow and I was standing with the other pirates, and I was like, this is great. I don’t have the Lego. I locked eyes with this one guy and he looked at me maniacally and he just went over to me and just opened my collar to shove the — and I lost.
John: Right, because it’s technically not over yet.
Nick: Exactly. Yeah, we’re still on stage so still a fair game.
John: But that’s the kind of stuff that makes it fun and interesting especially when you’re part of the ensemble where it’s like well, let’s make it fun because we’re not in the front and singing all the lead stuff and whatever.
Nick: People might be seeing you, but the central focus isn’t on you, so that’s room for you to have fun and just do something like that, just very discreet of course.
John: That’s super awesome, man. That’s so cool. Have you ever had people come to any of your shows?
Nick: Oh, yeah. I’m very grateful to have co-workers that are very supportive of my endeavors. Some of them have seen all the shows I’ve been in so far.
Nick: Yeah. They like to come opening night because at some theatres, they do like an opening night reception. It’s the other thing, I entice them with food and champagne and stuff like that. So yeah, and then we go out and we pulled afterwards and we go to another bar afterwards and we go to another bar. It’s just a really fun evening. We’re hanging out, we’re having fun and we’re still celebrating the success of the shop.
John: Right. Do you feel like you’re connecting with maybe different people than the trivia people or is it still sort of the same group?
Nick: Yeah. Actually, I would say, because with trivia, I think it appeals to a really specific type of person. It takes a really specific type of person to excel in trivia and really appreciate trivia but theatre is an art form, so performing artform just like TV, just like film, and people really get into it just like they would a movie or a TV show and because we’re so close to New York, we have Broadway, we have this really active theatre and performing arts community in our backyard so people really take advantage of that so they have an increased appreciation for that than they would trivia at a bar. In that way, yeah, I definitely have connected with different kinds of people.
John: That’s fantastic, because then yeah, I mean that reach opens up there and then do you feel like that helps the work relationships? I mean just like I mean your trivia did for sure, but I would imagine, it would enhance it as well.
Nick: Yeah. Well, absolutely, John. Because with theatre, you’re on your stage and you’re vulnerable. You’re playing a character that enables you, forces you, you know sometimes even to explore a different part of yourself and a different part of your humanity. As a part of your humanity that somebody might not see in real life let alone at work.
When you’re bringing in a co-worker to see something that maybe doesn’t represent the most flattering part of yourself or maybe like the most socially proper, I should say, part of yourself, that’s definitely exposure. That’s definitely letting somebody else into your world and seeing you at your most vulnerable and at your most real, and at your most true, and at your most human. If that doesn’t enhance the scope of the relationship you have with somebody professionally or otherwise, I don’t know what does.
John: That’s for sure it. Have you ever thought like well, you know, is this going to carry over into work or are they going to not talk to me anymore?
Nick: I felt that way for The Full Monty because I had no reservations at all about doing that show. I love that show so much. I was like, well, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. For a while, I as hesitant about you know, should I tell my co-workers? Luckily, I have a co-worker that I’m pretty close with and I was talking to her about it, she was like well, you know, Nick, I think at this point, you should really own it because this is what you’re about.
I was like, you know what? You’re right. This is who I am. I’m not going to hold anything back because that’s not what an adult does and that’s not what a human being should do. These people deserve to know who I really am because I’m comfortable with myself and I feel like I can trust these people now with something that’s really important to me and I told them about it and they came to the closing performance of the show and they absolutely loved it, and I wish I had told them sooner. I wish I had told more people sooner.
John: Yeah, but I mean that’s such great advice though. Just own it. I mean it’s not illegal. It’s a Broadway theatre show.
Nick: Yeah. The people that I’m working with, there are actually a lot of teachers, a lot of public school teachers in the cast, and the couple of the guys I did it with, one of them is a college professor, the other one’s a high school teacher, our choreographer was a high school English teacher, so the one who was showing us all these moves. By day, she’s a high school English teacher and you know, this is what she’s doing at night. There were definitely a lot of teachers involved with the production. If they all own it, we all own it and we’re all having fun just why hold back?
John: Yeah. I mean just own it. I love that. I mean such great encouragement for everyone else with their hobbies and passions is just own it type of a thing because it’s not like oh, he’s on that show. I’m not going to talk to him again or oh, he’s fired. If anything, it’s gone the other way where now, more people know about you than before.
Nick: In more ways than one.
John: Right. That’s awesome. Well, this is so cool to hear, Nick, and so encouraging, man. It’s really encouraging and before I wrap this up though, it’s only fair that I allow you to become the host of the show if you would like to rapid fire question me or ask me anything, I’ll let you be the host now, so you’re in charge. So here we go.
Nick: Okay. Let me ask you, oceans or mountains?
John: That’s a good question, yeah. I mean I guess I’ll say oceans simply because the mountains are right there. I can just go in my backyard and see them living in Denver, maybe I’m spoiled by seeing them so much, so oceans is more of a treat I guess where I have to get on an airplane to go to them.
Nick: Yeah. You’re in landlocked state.
John: Right. I equate oceans with being warmer even though it’s not always the case but whenever I go, it’s warmer. It’s a beach, you know.
Nick: For sure. Let’s see. Load up a pizza.
John: Oh, okay. Here we go. Yeah, pretty much all the meats. I mean not sardines though. That’s weird. I don’t even know why that’s a thing, but year, I mean pepperoni, sausage, I mean ground beef, ham, and then I have to have a little bit of color so I’ll do green peppers and spinach, maybe some mushrooms, I pile it all on like it’s just like all of it.
Nick: When you were starting off, I thought you were describing like a meat lover’s thing, like a pizza —
John: Right, but then some vegetables because I’m not an animal.
Nick: Because I’m an adult male.
John: Exactly. No black olives. Those are gross.
Nick: Oh, Italian. I go for all olives all the time. Favorite pro sports team?
John: Favorite pro sports team. Yeah, wow. This is tough. Probably St. Louis Cardinals baseball. That’s probably what I would say. Yeah, way more into the college sports but yeah, probably Cardinals baseball, I would say.
Nick: Okay. In the accounting world, who are your favorite speakers? Who are your favorite people that you follow?
John: Oh, okay. Well, a buddy of mine, Greg Kyte, who’s been on the show. He’s very funny also. He does comedy and he does a really funny ethics training that’s really good. He’s really great. So yeah, I guess Greg’s probably my favorite as far as that goes because he’s a reverend too.
Nick: Yeah. I love Greg. I followed him for years, for definitely the past few years but yeah, really cool. I’m going to ask you, favorite thing you own, favorite thing you have.
John: Oh, favorite thing I own, favorite thing I have, so I have a couple of things, I’ve answered other things, but this one that I haven’t brought up before, is I have a typewriter that was my grandfather’s and he is from probably like 1925 maybe, old, old typewriter. Royal is the company, the brand. It’s just a super old typewriter that he used to use all the time.
It’s still kind of cool because he used to smoke a pipe a lot. And so it still has a little bit of that pipe smell from his tobacco that he would smoke. Yeah, it still works. Absolutely. It does the ribbons and everything. I haven’t used it, but it still definitely works and it’s just cool because it’s like something that I always equated with him. You know, he would type letters to me or whatever, and stuff like that. It was just a cool thing that I have that’s pretty neat for me.
Nick: That’s awesome.
John: Awesome, man. Well, this has been so much fun, Nick. Thanks so much for taking time to be with me on the Follow-up Friday on What’s Your “And”?
Nick: For sure, John. Thank you again for having me. This was so much fun.
John: Absolutely. Everyone listening, if you want to see some pictures of Nick on stage or maybe connect with him on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com and all the links are there, and while you’re on the page, please click that big button and do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture.
Thanks again for subscribing 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.
Mark is a Digital Marketing Professional, Actor & Playwright
Mark Violi been in over 25 plays also movies and TV. He is a member of SAG-AFTRA. Mark also writes screenplays and has optioned several scripts to Hollywood as well as being a 7-time produced playwright, including his upcoming production of ROEBLING: The Story of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Mark talks about getting into acting and how he found the confidence to start writing his own plays. He also talks about how important it is to bring your full self into whatever it is that you do!
• Getting into acting
• Notable roles as an actor
• Why dramatic roles are challenging for Mark
• Getting into play writing
• Talking about acting with coworkers and clients
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Pictures of Mark Acting
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Welcome to Episode 263 of What’s Your “And”? This is John Garrett. Each Wednesday, I interview a professional who, just like me, is known for a hobby or a passion or an interest outside of work. And to put it in another way, it’s encouraging people to find their “and,” those things above and beyond your technical skills and the things that actually differentiate you when you’re in the office.
I’m so excited to let everyone know that my book’s being published in just a few months. It’ll be available on Amazon and a few other websites. So check out whatsyourand.com for all the details. I can’t say how much it means that everyone’s listening to the show and changing the cultures where they work because of it. And the book will really help to spread this message.
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. This week is no different with my guest, Mark Violi. He’s the owner and founder of Web Hound Studios. Now, he’s with me here today. Mark, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Mark: Hi, John. It’s great to be here. Thanks.
John: Oh, absolutely, man. This is going to be so much fun, but you know the drill. It’s 17 rapid-fire questions right out of the gate. All right, buckle up. Here we go. All right. I’ll start you out with one. Star Wars or Star Trek?
Mark: Star Wars.
John: Okay. All right. How about your computer, more of a PC or a Mac?
Mark: Oh, Mac 100%.
John: Oh, wow. Fancy. All right. Yeah, way cooler than me. How about a favorite ice cream flavor?
Mark: Ben and Jerry’s New York Super Chunk Fudge.
John: Oh man, that sounds delicious.
Mark: I got like a little bit of everything in it. It’s like rocky road on steroids. It’s great.
John: Yeah. Anything which chunks, I’m all good for. How about a favorite animal? Any animal at all?
Mark: Oh, wow, favorite animal. The kangaroo’s an interesting animal, isn’t it? There’s really not much like them.
John: Yeah, very good pick. How about a favorite place you’ve been on vacation?
Mark: Vegas. Vegas is a lot of fun. We’re thinking about going back with the family soon. So let’s see what it’s like from a family perspective instead of a getaway perspective.
John: Right. Exactly. Exactly. I think that they’ve done a lot to clean it up so, yeah, totally. There’s all the amusement park rides and stuff at New York, New York and Stratosphere and stuff. How about jeans or khakis?
Mark: Oh, jeans. Yeah.
John: Jeans. Okay. How about a favorite number?
John: Eleven? Is there a reason?
Mark: I just adopted it as my lucky number. I used to wear that when I played baseball as a kid. And I’ve just hung around 11.
John: That pops up as well on here. It’s been interesting.
Mark: That’s my roulette number in Vegas.
John: Oh, there we go. It’s all coming back. I see. I see. How about a least favorite vegetable?
Mark: Oh, Brussel sprouts.
John: Yes. I agree 100%. Totally. How about pens or pencils?
Mark: I like them both. They both have utilitarian usage, John. So I can’t pick between them.
John: Maybe one of those where one side’s a pencil and the other side’s a pen where you just flip it upside down and then —
Mark: Yeah. We’ve got to get more of them out into the marketplace, I think.
John: Right. They’re just for you.
Mark: They’re not accessible enough.
John: Right. How about puzzles, Sudoku or crossword?
Mark: I like them both, but crossword’s a little more challenging. There’s a little bit of math involved there, but there’s also your vocabulary and general knowledge. It’s the jeopardy of word games, isn’t it?
John: Totally. Yeah. I see what you’re talking about. How about a favorite color?
John: Red? Okay. How about a least favorite color?
Mark: Not really brown but like a drab, greenish, brownish blob?
John: Oh, yeah. That sounds disgusting. That’s not good. How about oceans or mountains?
Mark: Oh, that’s a good one. Oceans or mountains? I’ll take oceans because sometimes you can see the mountains from the ocean.
John: Right. Or just mountains that go right into the ocean.
John: Yeah. Just do it that way.
Mark: The Palisades, yeah.
John: Yeah. There you go. How about a favorite sports team?
Mark: Oh, Philadelphia Phillies.
John: Okay. All right. Yeah. And then early bird or night owl?
Mark: I think I used to be more of a night owl. But I think I’m turning into an early bird. I’d like to try to get as big of a jump on the day as I can. As my workload gets bigger, it’s become more important to stay ahead as much as I can.
John: Okay. There’s two more two more. Would you say developing websites, more WordPress or Drupal?
Mark: Oh, I’m a WordPress guy.
John: All right. Yeah. I did my website. It looks awesome, man. Yeah, absolutely. I had to Google Drupal because I didn’t even know what it was. And the last one, the favorite thing you own or the favorite thing you have?
Mark: Oh, my dad in his later years took a trip to Italy. I asked him to bring me something cool back. He brought me back this old map that has the town that his father grew up in.
John: Oh, that’s fantastic. That’s very cool. Yeah. It means a lot as well. And yeah, I mean that is something really cool. That’s awesome. It’s not a Leaning Tower of Pisa in little model.
Mark: I think I got that too.
John: Yeah. Right. It was a buy one, get one. Let’s talk about acting. Is this something that you’ve been doing since you were younger? Or did you get into it later on in life?
Mark: I got into it in high school really. I think maybe the same way, a lot of people do. I remember going to see a high school play as a sophomore. I was sitting in the audience. I think it was Oliver. I’m looking at these classmates of mine and I’m looking up at the stage. I’m saying, “Wow, I could do that so much better than these guys. They’re doing everything wrong.”
John: You can beg better than that Oliver. Come on.
Mark: No, Ollie, come on. So the next year, I went out for the play and I got a nice part. The year after that, I got a lead part. I guess I got the acting bug, as they say. And I’ve been pretty much acting ever since.
John: That’s fantastic man. And even through college?
Mark: I only did one show when I was in college. I learned so much from that show. It was The Comedy of Errors. It was the only Shakespeare play that I’ve been in to date. I was a freshman or sophomore. And I was not a theater major. I was an art major. So the director hated me just for that.
I had the smallest part. I don’t remember the girl who’s my scene partner. After we did it, she said to me backstage — and she’s a theater major. She’s a year older than me. She was cute in the kind of ‘90s way. She said to me, “Mark, why are you doing this that way? Because in Dr. Blah, blah, blah’s class, he teaches us that we should do this, this, this and this.” And I was amazed. I was like — I thought she was pulling back the curtain and giving me these gems that I never would have gotten.
When we did the scene again, I took her advice and I did it the way she said. The director, I swear this is the only time he spoke to me. He said, “Stop. Mark, what are you doing?” Without throwing her under the bus, I said, “I just thought I’d try something different.” And he said, “No. Do it the way you were doing it.” And that was it. So I learned a lot from that experience to just trust myself.
John: No, that’s fantastic. Yeah, because you can get bogged down in all the theory all up in your head. That can mess you up in acting especially. Yeah. But you didn’t want to throw her under the bus because, yeah, I mean she’s cute and a year older and all this. And we got to do the scene together. And it’s, “Well, she said.” Too many other variables involved too.
Mark: It was her fault.
John: Right. Exactly. Exactly. Then once you started working and after college, where have you been acting mostly?
Mark: I had an opportunity after college before I had kids to explore it a little more deeply. I got an agent locally, who was able to facilitate some work for me. I did commercials for the Philadelphia 76ers, for the Philadelphia Inquirer. I was actually on a billboard for the Philadelphia Inquirer.
John: That’s awesome.
Mark: That’s like the only thing I’ve ever been recognized for where people would stop me and say, “Hey, are you the guy in our billboard on 995?”
John: Right. You’re like, “Maybe. Do you want to punch his face?” No, it’s not me. It’s my twin brother.” Yeah. That’s great, man. That’s really cool though.
John: I was able to get my SAG card around that time. That was my own camera work. Then I’ve done a lot of stage work. I’ve been in almost 25 or 30 shows. I work mostly at a local theater close to me called Kelsey Theatre. I’ve done a ton of work there. I’ve been able to do some roles that are really bucket list type roles. So I’m happy to have been able to do that.
John: That’s really fantastic, man. I mean 25 to 30 shows? I mean that’s quite a bit because I mean these aren’t just like one-offs. These are you’ve got to rehearse and train and all that stuff and then do the shows. And they run for a bit. So that’s a lot of time and commitment to make that happen. I mean that’s a true passion. That’s for sure. Pretty awesome. Have there been any roles that are more of your favorite or more rewarding, if you will?
Mark: Some of my favorite roles are I got to play Lieutenant Kaffee in A Few Good Men. That was a really challenging role for me. I enjoyed that quite a bit. My most recent role was in Glengarry Glen Ross, where I played Dave. He’s the guy who facilitates the office robbery. That was a great role too.
I find dramatic roles are much more challenging for me, which goes counter to what I hear from a lot of other actors who say comedy gives them so much trouble. For me, comedy has always been easy. I can always find the joke. And I think I have a pretty good comedic timing. I’m able to do comedy pretty well. In more recent years, I’ve been seeking out more dramatic roles where I find them a little more challenging.
John: Oh, okay. That’s interesting. So it’s more of rather than go with your wheelhouse, it’s, “No no. I want to push myself to learn and develop more.” That way then, you can go back to that college director and be like, “Take this buddy.”
John: I had a funny experience like that. This was at a different community theater that I won’t name. I signed up to be the assistant director of this show. And the guy they had cast in the lead couldn’t do it. He broke his leg. He got pneumonia, whatever it was. And they asked me to do the role. So I abandoned my assistant directing position and took over the lead role. And I wanted to do a couple of the scenes ways that I knew they should be done.
John: But as the assistant director, you couldn’t say.
Mark: And the director said to me, “No, no, no. I’ve directed this show three times and this is how we do it. This is how it’s done. This is how the audience is going to like it and laugh.” And I knew he was wrong. When I got up on stage, you can feel how the audience is reacting to you. And I just knew they were waiting for me to do what I know needed to be done. So rather than listen to him and do it the wrong way, I did it the way I knew it would be done. And to his credit, after the show ran, he came up to me and he said, “Mark, you know what? You were right about all that.”
John: Wow. Okay.
Mark: I couldn’t believe it because ego is really big in the community theater world, right?
John: That’s hilarious because, yeah, I mean when you’re up there doing it, you can’t undo it. The audience can’t unsee what just happened. So it’s like, “Well, I’m just going to let it rip and see what happens.”
Mark: That’s what it was. Yeah.
John: Good for you. And I know also that there’s playwriting as well that you’ve done. How did you get into that? Was it just like, “This Shakespeare guy doesn’t know what he’s doing, so I’m going to write better ones.”
Mark: No. I wasn’t that bold. I wish I could say that were the case. I had always wanted to write. I think through my involvement as an actor, I become involved in the stories. And I was always interested in how the stories were assembled. But I have to tell you, I didn’t know how to write and I didn’t have anything I wanted to write about. And even through high school and through college, nobody ever explained to me what a story was. A story has structure to it. No one ever explained that to me. So I had to seek out that information on my own. I read a bunch of books, one book in particular called The Hero’s Journey by Christopher Vogler.
John: Oh yeah.
Mark: Have you read that, John?
John: I have.
Mark: Fantastic volume for any kind of storytelling. That was a very comprehensive and communicated very well. It gave me enough information and enough confidence that I thought I could write something. So having done a lot of stage acting, I figured, “Well, I could probably write a play.” So I became attached to a local story about the Brooklyn Bridge, the family that built the Brooklyn Bridge. The Roebling family is from Trenton, New Jersey where I’m from. Their name is on the streets and the banks. There’s even a town called Roebling not far from Trenton. And I had heard about this amazing story about how the Brooklyn Bridge was built. And I thought, “Wow. This would really translate well to the stage.”
So I took it upon myself to do a ton of research and to adapt this true story to the stage in a play I call Roebling: The Story of the Brooklyn Bridge. And that was the first thing I wrote. It sat doing nothing for six or eight years. Then I got a couple readings of it at local theaters. Then I had a premiere of it at a small theater in Pennsylvania. And since then, it’s been produced five times. It’s going to be produced again, Friday, March 27th in Bordentown, New Jersey. It runs for two weekends.
John: That’s so cool to have the story that you created in your head and put down on paper to see it come to life several times. I mean that’s really awesome.
Mark: It’s a pretty amazing experience, especially my first couple of productions. It was almost an out of body experience really, like I was a ghost in the room watching all of this happen.
John: Yeah, because you had seen it play out in your head, I’m sure, thousands of times. Then all of a sudden, it’s like, “Am I still visioning this or is this actually happening with my eyes typically?”
John: Now, that’s really cool. I have to imagine that some of that translates over to your work. Do you feel like acting and playwriting gives you a skill set that you bring?
Mark: I think acting has contributed to a confidence I have when I’m talking with clients, when I’m presenting in a room. I can be generally relaxed and take my time to communicate what I need to communicate. Certainly as a writer, I mean who doesn’t need good writing skills, right?
John: Right. Everybody. Yeah.
Mark: So as a writer, it certainly helps me communicate a written word much more effectively. I think both in just communication, traversing between clients and myself, but also when I’m writing copy and that sort of thing. It certainly — it plays a big part in storytelling too. I mean if I’m writing a blog post, it’s a small story and it needs at least a little structure to it.
John: Yeah. I mean everything’s storytelling. Absolutely. Even Donald Miller with the StoryBrand stuff, I mean, when it comes to marketing and all that. It’s the same as comedy. Communication and acting is — the only way you get good is to do it. And it hurts and it’s painful and you’re terrible at it. I mean you’re not good. But against all odds, you still tell yourself, “No, no. Keep going,” type of thing.
Mark: Right. There’s something inert, something inside you that just makes you keep going. Yeah,
John: Yeah. No, I think that’s fantastic, man. And is this something that you’ve shared all throughout your career, that side of you, with clients and co-workers?
Mark: I have to say that wasn’t always the case. I think when you work in a lot of creative areas, there’s this sense of doubt, “Am I really doing this? Is what I’m saying as an actor? Is what I’m saying as a writer? Is anybody even interested? Am I doing it completely wrong? Am I being boastful because, ‘Oh, hey, I’m going to be on stage next week. Come and see me.’”
When I’ve had office jobs, I’ve been a little reluctant to speak out too much about it. But now, I’m more comfortable with what I’m doing. I have a lot more confidence in my work. I’m happy to share it with people who are interested. And some people are more interested than others of course.
John: But I mean that’s the way it is. But no one’s ever dropped you being like, “I’m not your client anymore,” or, “You’re fired,” I mean, because they find out that you’re an actor or a playwright.
Mark: Not that I’m aware of.
John: Right. And if they did, then forget about it. I mean who cares? That’s insane. But I totally hear you on the boastful thing because it does feel like if no one else is sharing anything, then if you even share whatever you do, then it sounds like you’re bragging because, “Well, I have something,” but deep down inside, like — I’m sure people found out that maybe they worked around you or some people knew and maybe even came to some shows, but they never viewed it that way. And it’s always in our own head that we think that.
Mark: Absolutely. That’s why I think what you’re doing with What’s Your “And”? it’s so important. It gives people like myself more confidence to say, “Hey, we are real people outside of the office.” And everybody knows that, but it takes just a little bit of confidence, I think, to get people to talk about it a little more.
John: Yeah. No, I appreciate that because if everyone has something, then no one’s bragging now. Then everything’s cool. I mean all the 200 plus people that have been on the podcast, they’re all such amazing stories and such cool things. And to be an actor and write your own play, I mean like, “What?” I mean that’s just fantastic and so cool.
Mark: Sometimes, you think, “Well, I haven’t sold a screenplay to Hollywood yet and made my million dollars. I’m probably wasting my time.” Sometimes, I get in my head like that. But then I think, “Wait a minute. I’ve written ten screenplays that I know have been good. And I’ve optioned some of those to Hollywood. So they must be good if people are optioning them anyway. And I’ve had seven productions of plays that I’ve written. Sure, they’ve been local. Who even finishes a play? Almost nobody.”
John: Totally. Right. I mean everyone’s like, “I could write something.” “Yeah. Go ahead, Sparky. Get back to me.” It isn’t like a one-day project. Like you were saying, the eight years that you noodled on it and put it away and then come back to it. It’s a journey. Yeah. I mean we’re all in our own lane. I think that is a hard part. I found that people hesitate with the label of actor or runner or whatever it is because, “Well, I don’t do it for a living,” or, “I didn’t set a world record or whatever.” But on the flip side, the phrase that’s easy to say is, “I enjoy act because I enjoy it. I don’t do it for a living and I’m not a gazillionaire and you don’t know who I am, but so what? You don’t know anybody else’s either.”
Mark: It takes the judgment out of it, right? You can’t take that away from me. If I enjoy it, that’s my own. Whether you think I’m good at it or not, it doesn’t really matter.
John: Yeah, because I don’t even care, because I’m doing it for me. I mean, really. But I think it’s cool how it gives you a different perspective and a different skillset that you’re bringing to work. And that’s awesome, man. Congratulations. That’s really exciting, really exciting. Do you have any words of encouragement to anyone listening that has a hobby or a passion they think has nothing to do with their job?
Mark: Yeah. I think anybody who thinks that is probably wrong. I think you have to bring your whole self into whatever it is that you do. If you’re a bodybuilder, if you’re an office clerk, if you’re a vice president, if you’re a writer or an actor, these are all just pieces of who you are. We’re all multifaceted. And I think we need to embrace that. The line between who I am, between nine and five and who I am the rest of the time, I think it’s getting more blurred all the time because communication increases, work life balance and everything. I think it’s in everybody’s best interest to explore who they are as a whole person and to communicate that to others. I really do think people are interested.
John: No, I agree totally. I mean let’s face it. Nowadays, I mean talking about acting is way better than talking about the Phillies. No, I’m just teasing, man. I’m just teasing. I had to. I had to. That’s a terrible segue because I’m getting ready to let you be able to rapid-fire question me. So if you have any questions before I bring this up in for a landing, I should not have taken that shot before opening it up to you. That was poor planning on my part. You think I would learn after so many episodes but no. So since I so rudely started out the episode rapid-firing, questioning you, do you have any questions that you’d like to ask me, tell you? You’re the host.
Mark: I have one question. And I think it’s interesting to ask a lot of people. Maybe I’ll make it up 18 rapid-fire question.
John: Oh, okay. Okay.
Mark: I know you’ve traveled a lot. And I know you’ve been around a lot of people. So what is one or two things that just seemed totally out of place, whether it’s geographically or in terms of a group of personalities, something that was completely unexpected that didn’t belong there?
John: Okay. Well, it was a pleasant surprise sort of a thing?
Mark: Whether pleasant or not, I won’t judge.
John: Goodness. Yeah. That’s a tricky question. When I was in Cape Town, South Africa, I drove down to Cape of Good Hope and there are just baboons out, like just out. I mean like rabbits where it’s like — I mean you see a rabbit occasionally, but yeah, they were just out and especially where people were. So it was super hilarious because I went to see the Cape of Good Hope, which is crazy gnarly and walking back up to the parking area and I heard this family screaming. They had a minivan with the doors open and the kids are pouring out of the minivan. Then just seconds later, it’s this baboon with a backpack, with a face full of food. I mean just like sandwiches, that running with the backpack and then two or three baboons with him. They’re like little — they’re not huge. But man, they’re — you’re not catching that backpack. I mean it’s gone like, “See you.”
Mark: And they’re baboons so they’re smart. They’re working in teams. They’re intelligent. You’re screwed.
John: That’s their hit place. I mean they’re like, “Oh, here comes another one.” Yeah. I mean I guess the baboon running with the backpack probably is a little out of place.
Mark: That’s pretty surprising.
John: That’s pretty surprising. But yeah, man, I laughed so hard. I was like, “Oh, my God, that’s so good. That’s so good.” But yeah, that was awesome, man. Thank you, Mark, for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”? This was really, really fun.
Mark: Thank you. Likewise, I enjoyed it very much. Thanks.
John: Absolutely. Everyone listening, if you want to see some pictures of Mark on stage or connect with him on social media or even better, see the link to his new show, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. Again, that’s roeblingplay.com just in case you’re too impatient to go to the other website. But all the links will be there. And while you’re on the page, please click that big button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture.
Thanks again for subscribing 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.
Drew is a CPA & Rapper
Drew is the AVP for Finance at LIU, and the founder of The Rapping CPA – a creative content development service for businesses, individuals and organizations. While he loves data analytics, process management, and business strategy, he has a passion for rapping, acting, and overall entertaining in general. Accordingly, he’s developed tons of songs, videos, and content on all topics from accounting to partying. He enjoys boating, house parties, networking events, speaking, performing, history, brainstorming, and sports. Drew is a self-proclaimed polymath and “multipotentialite”.
The Rapping CPA returns to the podcast from episode 84 to talk about how his reputation has followed him through a new job and how he landed a job as a production assistant for a couple of Bon Jovi’s music videos!
• Rebranding to The Rapping CPA
• ‘Juul Kid’ song
• Production assistant for Bon Jovi
• Being recognized when starting is new job at Long Island University
• You should never feel trapped at a job
• People don’t always want to talk about work at work
• How knowing more outside of the office helps with networking
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Welcome to Episode 256 of What’s Your “And”? Follow-up Friday edition. This is John Garrett. Each Friday, I’m following up with a guest who had been on the show a few years ago to hear maybe what’s new with their passions outside of work and also hear how this message might have impacted them since we last talked.
I’m so excited to let everyone know my book’s being published very, very soon. It’ll be available on Amazon and a few other websites. So check out whatsyourand.com for all the details or sign up for my exclusive list and you’ll be the first to know when it’s coming out. Don’t forget to hit subscribe so you don’t miss any of the future episodes, each Wednesday and now with the Follow-up Fridays. I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week. And this following Friday is going to be no different with my guest, Drew Carrick. He’s an Associate Vice President for Finance at Long Island University. Now, he’s with me here today. Drew, thank you so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Drew: Yeah. Thanks for having me. God, I’m excited to be back. It’s been a couple of years so I’m glad to get back involved.
John: It has, man. Look at you. Associate Vice President? I wasn’t sure you would answer my emails anymore. No, that’s great, man. Congrats. Now, this is going to be so much fun. It was so much fun at Episode 84. Holy cow, this is nuts. Yeah. But I do the rapid-fire questions up front.
Drew: All right.
John: Here we go. If you had to choose, Harry Potter or Game of Thrones?
Drew: Game of Thrones. I never really saw Harry Potter.
John: Okay. All right. More cats or dogs?
Drew: Dogs 100%.
John: There you go. How about a favorite adult beverage?
John: Oh, nice. Okay. It’s hard to screw those up. And they’re good. How about this? You’re on the beach a lot. Speedo or board shorts?
Drew: As aggressive and outgoing as I might be, I’m going to stick with the board shorts there.
John: There you go. All right. Prefer more hot or cold?
Drew: I guess hot . I’m a beach, summer type of person. And being cold sucks.
John: No I hear you. Two more. How about a favorite Disney character?
Drew: I’ve always been a fan of Belle from Beauty and the Beast actually. She’s a little crush of mine, I guess.
John: There you go. There you go. How about the last one and maybe the most important one? Toilet paper roll, over or under?
Drew: I am over. Yeah, definitely over.
John: There you go. That’s awesome, man. That’s very cool. Yeah. When we talked a couple of years ago of course with Petty Ca$h and the rap videos that you were making, which are awesome and everyone can check out, but is that still something that you’re producing? It seems like you’ve expanded.
Drew: Yeah. Obviously, since creating Petty Ca$h and the Balance Sheet Boyz and the whole squad with DJ Accrualz.
John: There you go.
Drew: — I’ve stayed in touch with them, with everybody. And I’ve tried to put out some content. I rebranded and developed out the Twitter account at The Rapping CPA. So the big push was creating The Rapping CPA brand. Petty Ca$h obviously is the stage name. But I haven’t had the chance to make as many music videos directly accounting-related per se, but I have been able to get involved with other video content. And I have written a couple of songs. I’m hoping to get some new songs that I can put out there. One of the ones that I had done shortly after our last podcast was the collaboration with Meri Amber, which is on Materiality.
John: Yes. Exactly. Another guest of the podcast and in Australia, which is awesome. That video is really cool. How you guys shot the video, you’re doing the boat riding obviously out there in Fire Island and wherever.
Drew: Yeah, international collaboration.
John: Totally, man. That’s so great. I don’t think people understand how much time it takes because I mean I have my own music videos out there as well, parodies. And shooting them and writing them and getting them pretty — I mean it’s an intense amount of time. You don’t just put this together at the caliber that you’re putting them out there. It takes time and effort and energy. So I think it’s cool, man. And every time they come out, I’m always excited to see them.
Drew: One of my newer focuses is on that quality aspect where it’s one thing to just — I could lip sync in front of a bunch of different backgrounds or something but I’m trying to really focus on, “Can I collaborate with some other individuals who are good at editing or production?” I think one of the pinnacles actually, which is not necessarily my accounting personality direction, which I did as the rapping CPA, but I have — as my passion hobby aspect of it is Juul Kid, which I’m sure everyone’s familiar with these USB-looking vape devices. I was trying to capitalize on that market. I created a song called Juul Kid to be the anthem. It makes fun of it, plays on it. You’re not really sure if I’m supporting it or against it or being sarcastic. I had a really good production done on that. It’s definitely a fun, catchy song and enjoyable video in my opinion. That was one of the things that came out last year with.
John: Yeah. I mean that’s an original song. I mean if it’s a parody, it’s — I don’t want to say easier, but at least the music’s there. The rhythm’s there and all that. But I mean to create it from out of nothing, that’s super cool, man, and so creative of you.
Drew: That’s the most rewarding. It’s when you’re like, “I made this from nothing into something.” I was at the gym. All of a sudden, I got the idea of like — I just started saying, “I’m a Juul kid. This is how I rule.” I got back, started writing lyrics down.
John: Yeah. “After security escorted me out, I…” “That’s guys mumbling on the treadmill over there. What’s going on?” That’s super cool, man. That’s super cool. Yeah. I mean I know just the entertainment in general. I know some of the acting as well you were getting into and exploring.
Drew: Yeah. I had some cool experiences. I was able to build up the stage presence. Obviously, I acted throughout high school and into college. So I’m used to being in front of crowds and whatnot. A couple of the more professional things I’ve done is speaking at the Accounting and Finance Show in New York, the Javits Center. That was a fun experience. A lot of networking was done there. I was talking about engaging millennials and how to understand them and whatnot.
Then a couple of other things. Recently, I did the Ohio CPA Society. I did a couple speeches for them. It’s been good getting that exposure with them too. Then as far as the acting goes, I was involved with Bon Jovi’s music videos, the ones that he released when he got inducted into the Hall of Fame, Walls and When We Were Us. I got to be a production assistant over there and then an extra actually in the show itself.
John: That’s so cool. How’d that come about?
Drew: Again, it’s just the networking and the connections. I realized, “Okay. I knew a guy who did music videos who had his own production company. He had been growing it.” I said, “Hey, if you need anything this winter, let me know.” “We’re doing Bon Jovi.” I got there. They ended up actually using me as Bon Jovi stunt double. It was like I tagged out, he tagged in. They filmed him and then he stepped out. I stepped back in and then they readjusted the camera on me. Once they got the shot they wanted, they said, “All right. Jon, hop back in here. Drew, you’re out.” Yeah. It was really neat, really cool experience.
John: That’s awesome. Did they get you a wig or did Bon Jovi cut his hair?
Drew: No wigs were needed.
John: Different shooting angle. Yeah. No, that’s super cool, man. That’s so great. What? I mean who knew that was going to happen? I’d like to take the 100% credit as the What’s Your “And”? podcast pump boost — no, no. That’s all you, man. That’s so cool, man. That’s so cool. Now, are you talking about this amongst colleagues or at work? I know it’s a different environment now than public accounting where you worked before.
Drew: Yeah. One of the cool things is that I was easily recognized. One of the interesting things actually about me getting the job here was I went down to the IT department. I was getting shown around when I was getting schmoozed into, “You should come work here,” blah, blah, blah. They were like, “All right. We’re going to do your interview now. I want you to on-the-spot give us a little freestyle about Information Technology.”
Drew: I just did it and a bunch of the people here recognized that I had this creative talent and ability. So when I got here, I haven’t been doing really just finance stuff. I mean it’s definitely been a portion of it. But I become more of a liaison of between whether it’s accounts payable, human resources, the registrar, awarding of scholarships, dealing with faculty, marketing. All of the different components now, they recognized that and they say, “I really like all the stuff you’re doing. It’s real skills, real talent. You’re not a one trick pony.” I share everything with everybody. And the cool thing is that I have leaders who can support me in doing these different endeavors.
John: Yeah. It gives you the freedom to be able to do some of that because there is dividends to be had from that. When you have stories that aren’t just work-related, you create those stronger connections. And especially when you’re bouncing between departments. I mean if you talk accounting to faculty, they’re like, “I don’t care. I don’t know what you’re talking about.” So I think that’s really cool and really important. Do you have any words of encouragement to anyone listening that’s like, “Hey, my passion has nothing to do with my job.”
Drew: One of the first keys is that you shouldn’t feel trapped like you’re in a workplace where you can’t be yourself or you can’t bring that passion. There’s always room for the passion regardless what it is. And I think you know that more than anybody else just from all the different stories of everybody that you’ve spoken to; that you can’t devalue the passion that you have, especially with something that you might have a skillset at. And I don’t think there’s ever any harm in — if it’s not necessarily designed to be, “All right. I’m at a job where my passion really is not applicable at all,” but if they’re at least supportive of you being able to do that.
One of the big things that I’ve done since we last spoke is actually creating The Rapping CPA brand. And now, I have therappingcpa.com, which is — finally, there’s a real website where there’s examples of the things that I’ve done and a bunch of the different organizations that I’ve worked with in helping produce content or speaking or being an educator on various topics of culture or millennials and whatnot. Building that on the side while you’re still doing your regular job is a privilege, I think. It can’t devalue the passion that you have.
John: Yeah, for sure. Because I mean when you were in public accounting, you had that passion. You have a different job now, you have that passion. You got promoted, you still have that passion. That passion goes with you everywhere you are. The skills that you’re using, the technical accounting skills have changed. From when you first started in public to where you are today, it’s a totally different toolkit of technical skills. But that passion is always there. And I think it’s important that we don’t forget that. But for you, I think it’s awesome that I mean you’ve actually doubled down on it. I mean you have dot.com now. I mean it’s like you’re legit. That’s great.
Drew: Yeah. Talking about the passions, with people at work, it really became exemplified here because in public accounting, they’re always talking the talk about culture and how it’s important to bring your whole self to work. With the big thing at Grant Thornton that we had done there, it’s different when you’re in a private environment. But the thing that I’ve realized — and you touched on this earlier — is that people like to talk about not work-related things even when they’re at work. I’ll go into rooms and I’ll be like, “Hey, I wanted to really talk about this spreadsheet.” They’re like, “I don’t want to talk about the spreadsheet.” I need to know the answer, but they would rather talk about like, “What videos are you coming up with? What songs are you releasing? Did you make any new lyrics?” It’s pushing me to be like, “You know what? These are things I am really passionate about. I should focus more on them.” It’s giving me that little punch in the arm to be like, “Follow these passions that you always talk about. You have the skills and the talent. We see it. What are you doing about it?” That’s a different environment as like, “Oh, that’s nice that you have that hobby. But can you get us these documents?” It’s flipping the script and being like, “Yeah. We know you can do the documents. We know you know finance, blah, blah, blah. But how’s the acting thing going? Any new shows you’re booking?” That’s pretty neat.
The other part about that too, which I think is a good piece of advice, is the networking that comes with just knowing more. I mean this comes with something like traveling. Now, when I went to New Orleans, I learned about shotgun houses and how historic districts were formed. But just like now, say, you meet somebody that, “Oh, have you ever been to this place? Have you ever been to that place?” and now you can’t connect on that. I started fishing a little bit. I started golfing a little bit. It’s just having more of these skills and hobbies and passions and things that you just know about. It makes you much more able to relate to people in a much stronger way and connect with them. And in business, as we know, that goes so far, being able to network and connect —
John: Totally because the connections don’t happen over the spreadsheets and the work. I mean maybe on a rare occasion if there’s a really intense project or something, yeah, you’re going to bond with that person because you’re around them way too much. But it’s because you like them. It’s not because, “Oh, they memorized all the FASBs or whatever it is.” I think that’s so cool that people have such a genuine interest in you, not just the finance you, which has got to feel really good.
John: That’s awesome. It’s so cool, Drew. Man, it’s so exciting to catch up with you again and just see what you’re doing. Everyone can check out therappingcpa.com for all the videos that we’ve been talking about. Yeah. I’m going to have to check out these Bon Jovi music videos like, “What?” That’s super cool, man. That’s super cool. Before we wrap this up though, it’s only fair that I allow you to rapid-fire question me. I’m sure there are hundreds of questions you’ve wanted to ask me, but we’ll limit it to two or three if that’s cool.
Drew: I got four going.
John: Okay, four. I’ll let you slide. All right.
Drew: All right. Steak chicken or fish?
John: Steak all day.
Drew: That’s good stuff. Beer, wine or liquor?
Drew: Wow, like a vino.
John: Yeah. It goes with the steak.
Drew: Yeah, right.
John: I’m getting hungry as we talk right now.
Drew: You’ve been traveling around, so East Coast or West Coast?
John: Oh, that’s a good question. They’re so diverse. I mean there’s Florida and then there’s Maine. Then there’s Boston, New York, Philly in DC or west coast. I’m going to go East Coast. They’re just more condensed there. I just ride a lot. Boston, New York, Philly, DC, I mean that’s an eight hour span of amazing cities and history and food and everything. So I guess I’ll go East Coast.
Drew: The last one is city life or rural life?
John: I grew up rural, kind of small town but always near a city. But I’m definitely city. I live Downtown Denver. Yeah. I’m definitely city now. But I can relate to everybody. I’m not one of those snob types, but definitely city. It’s just more convenient to get to the airport, to get to restaurants, to get to sporting events, to get to concerts. It’s all right there.
Drew: Yeah. That’s awesome.
John: Well, cool, Drew. Well, thank you so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”? It’s so much fun.
Drew: No problem. Anytime.
John: Everybody listening, if you want to see some pictures of Drew in action or check out his videos, you can connect with him on social media. Go to whatsyourand.com. All the links are there. While you’re on the page, please click that big button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture. Thanks again for subscribing in 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.
Crystal is a Business Developer & Stage Performer
Crystal Shin, Director of Business Development at Goldin Peiser & Peiser, talks about her passion for acting and dancing on stage and how it has helped her skills in engaging new clients and improving presentations! She also discusses how Goldin Peiser & Peiser encourages employees to participate in non-profits and share personal experiences!productivity!
• Discovering her talent for acting and dancing
• Engaging an audience on stage or in a presentation
• 25 for 25 program
• Connecting with working parents
• How maturity can play into confidence in being open
• The extended family feel at Goldin Peiser & Peiser
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Welcome to Episode 211 of What’s Your “And”? This is John Garrett. Each Wednesday, I interview a professional who, just like me, is known for a hobby or a passion outside of work. To put it another way, it’s encouraging people to find their and, the things above and beyond their technical skills, the things that actually differentiates you when you’re in the office.
I’m so excited to let everyone know that my book is being published in just a few weeks. It will be available on Amazon and a few other websites. So if you want to check it out at whatsyourand.com, all the details will be there. You can even get in on some pre-sale stuff. I can’t say how much it means that everyone is listening to the show and changing the cultures of where they work because of it. It’s just so, so cool. So thank you so much for that. Don’t forget to hit Subscribe to the show right here, so you don’t miss any of the future episodes, because I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week. This week is no different with my guest, Crystal Shin. She’s the Director of Business Development at Goldin Peiser & Peiser in Dallas, Texas. Now, she’s with me here today.
Crystal, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Crystal: Woo-hoo! Thank you. Thanks for inviting me here. I’m excited.
John: I’m so excited to have you on as well. As you know, before we get into the fun stuff, we have to get to know Crystal on a new level here with my 17 rapid-fire questions. This could be the most intense thing you’ve ever done in your career, so I hope you’re ready.
John: I’m kidding. It’s so easy. Here we go. Chocolate or vanilla?
John: All right. How about when it comes to puzzles, Sudoku or crossword?
Crystal: Hands down, Sudoku.
John: Oh, nice. Okay. How about favorite color?
John: Nice. Okay, how about a least favorite color?
John: All right, fair enough. Cats or dogs?
John: Okay, how about do you have a favorite actor or an actress?
John: Ah, good answer. I like it. Everyone says that answer, by the way. No, I’m just kidding.
Crystal: Of course, right. Yeah.
John: How about when you’re on an airplane, window seat or aisle seat?
John: Aisle. All right. How about Star Wars or Star Trek?
John: None. All right. Fair enough. When it comes to your computer, more PC or Mac?
Crystal: Oh, PC.
John: Yeah, me too. How about on your mouse, left click or right click?
Crystal: Left click.
John: All right. I feel like you looked at your mouse as you answered that.
Crystal: Yeah, exactly.
John: Everyone does. It’s such a silly question. How about a favorite Disney character?
Crystal: So much. I would say Minnie and Mickey Mouse.
John: Oh, yeah, the classics. There you go. How about more diamonds or pearls?
John: All right. And now with your accounting background, I have to ask, balance sheet or income statement?
Crystal: Income statement.
John: Yeah, you’re like either one. I’m glad I’m not there anymore. Do you have a favorite food?
Crystal: Favorite food? That’s a good question. Any kind of Korean or Asian food.
Crystal: Okay. All right. That’s awesome.
John: How about a favorite number?
John: Yeah. And why is that? So popular.
Crystal: Just lucky seven.
John: Okay. Yeah, I know. It’s by far the most favorite number of all the numbers on here. It’s amazing. Two more. Toilet paper, roll over or under?
John: All right, and the last one. The favorite thing you own or the favorite thing you have?
Crystal: Slip pink dress that I wore in my wedding reception that still fits.
John: That’s fantastic. That’s really cool. Would it still be your favorite even if?
Crystal: No, no, no.
John: No, it would be in the garbage. It would be out.
Crystal: It won’t be with me no more.
John: Very cool. So let’s talk more about this acting and children’s ministry and just volunteering in general. How did you get into this?
Crystal: So I have been with the same church ever since I came from Korea here in Dallas. I’ve been just serving, somehow I got into the children’s ministry and started just as a Sunday school teacher. And then sometimes I’ll be acting here and there, and then somehow I got into the worship dance, so I’ve been dancing every single week. So it kind of got bigger as a —
John: It’s a slippery slope there, huh?
Crystal: It is, it is.
John: Once you do one thing, they’re like, I will get her on the other 15 soon enough.
Crystal: That’s how it goes in nonprofit. You put your feet in the door, and you’re just like all in there now.
John: But it’s so cool that you’re able to use those skills and those talents. Are they skills that you thought you had, dancing and singing and acting?
Crystal: You know what? Not so much. I just never knew that I’ll be doing so much of those dancing and acting and so forth. But somehow I think it just kind of grew in me while I was doing more of the children’s ministry. It kind of became more natural to me.
John: Yeah, because I guess it takes a little bit of practice.
Crystal: It did.
John: And then, I guess, with the children’s ministry, is it directing and being the choreographer for their stuff? That has to be a different level of patience and understanding.
Crystal: Yeah, but it’s a lot of fun. It’s like being a kid again, just dancing and singing around with the kids, just joyful. It’s just amazing.
John: And joyful. That’s not often a word that people use when describing their work.
Crystal: Oh, true.
John: Unfortunately, although it’d be pretty amazing if we started, or if we gave people reason to anyway. That would be awesome. Yeah, that’s what we should do is bring in more kids to the firm.
Crystal: I like that idea. We should.
John: Right now some managing partner’s hair on the back of his neck is standing up or her neck and just “Ah!” all the chargeability. But is there a more like a cooler or more rewarding moment that you’ve had from doing this?
Crystal: Most recently, I’ve been part of the Vacation Bible School that we just did a couple of months ago. Part of that we did a short children’s play, and I was the angel with like a cool long purple wig.
John: Oh, wow.
Crystal: So just being able to be somebody else, but really just connecting with the kids. It’s just so rewarding to me.
John: That’s fantastic. That’s really cool. And all the angels with the purple wigs.
Crystal: I know.
John: Yeah, we’re going all out on that. That’s awesome.
Crystal: It was the color and I chose the outfit and everything. So I was not the typical angel that you would think.
John: Why not? I guess it kind of goes parallel with how people think there’s a stereotype of something. And then once you actually think about it, or if you ask, why not, well, then there’s no answer. When people think of an accountant, they think of a certain thing, or a lawyer, they think of a certain thing, or an engineer or whatever. That’s this podcast has shown. It’s never what they think.
Crystal: That’s right.
John: Every once in a while, they put on purple wigs and dress up like angels.
Crystal: Yeah, it could be you, right? Just be yourself.
John: That’s true because what’s the worst thing that could possibly happen? You’re not going to get fired because of that. I mean, that’s crazy.
Crystal: Well, I’m still here. So I guess, that’s a good news.
John: Yes, exactly. Is there one that you prefer more than the other on the acting or the singing or the teaching the kids side of it?
Crystal: Well, I enjoy all of it, but I would say my weekly stuff will be more on the singing and dancing side. But I love the acting. I think it just gives me a different kind of energy when I’m on the stage, actually prepping with our team, just rehearsing until like two o’clock and just that teamwork and the sweat that you put in. And then once you’re on the stage, you’re pulling everything out together, I just love that feeling. So I don’t do that as much as I want, but I would say at least once or twice a year I do, and I love that. Whatever the tick that’s being with that, it just brings me joy.
John: Absolutely. Do you feel like any of that translates to a skill that you’re able to bring to work?
Crystal: Definitely so. As a business developer, I’m out there going about and meeting people, especially I’m meeting a lot of new people. When we’re meeting with new people, you just got to find a common ground, right? So anything you have to do is connecting with them. It feels like when I’m on the stage, when I’m acting, I have to connect and engage with those audiences. I think I’m doing the same thing, just not on the stage with the purple wig but in a different way.
John: Although if you did, that would be pretty awesome for business development. I’m not going to lie. Everyone would know you.
Crystal: Yeah, I should try that.
John: Yeah. But that’s an interesting point of how when you’re on the stage as an actor, an actress, that you need to make that connection with the audience. You’re there live and engage them in the same way one on one or one on a small group you need to do for work. That’s an interesting parallel there.
Crystal: And also, like, for example, when I’m putting out presentations or some kind of short speech introducing our firm, I think that the purple wig comes out again where it’s like, I can’t be just reading off the script and be boring. I have to be engaging with the audiences and kind of connecting with them. My presentation is never one of those like boring presentation. I make it very fun, engaging. I think that’s part of where I got that experience from the stage too.
John: Yeah, so it’s almost like one side even helps the other.
Crystal: Exactly. Mm-hmm.
John: They should all be not boring, all presentations. The fact that there’s such a small percentage of them that stand out as being like, wow, that was amazing, it’s like, well, it just didn’t put you to sleep. You actually paid attention to the whole thing. They should all be like that.
John: That’s cool that you put the time and the energy and the effort into there because that shows that you care about your audience enough to respect their time to want to give them something that they want to watch.
Crystal: John, how many times you’ve been in the presentation where it’s a technical presentation, so you’re getting CPEs out of it and you’re like bored to death, right?
John: Oh, all of them.
Crystal: All of them, yes. I hate it.
John: It’s so crazy. You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room. Just because of the material is boring doesn’t mean that you have to be. You can tell stories. You can give your own personal examples, your own experience with this. That makes it all fun and interesting to listen to. It’s funny because sometimes when I speak after the comments that the attendees give on their little evaluation form and sometimes people would be like, “It was silly.” I’m like, “Well, did you listen to the whole thing? Then a check and check.” What do you need? So that’s really cool that you do that. I’m sure that it’s amazing because all that practice and experience. If you were able to weave some dance into that, then I’d be like, all right, now we need to get this on YouTube.
Crystal: I haven’t incorporated the dance side with the presentation, but thanks for the idea, though.
John: Actually, my apologies in advance to you because I feel like I might awoke a dragon there. That’s really neat, though, and an interesting parallel there. Is this something that you talk about at work at all?
Crystal: I don’t talk a ton. It wasn’t intention that way. But actually our firm is celebrating our 25th anniversary. So one of the programs that we’re doing is called 25 for 25. So we’re putting like 25 hours in nonprofit organization, any one that you like, and spend 25 hours, and then we’ll give a donation to that specific organization that you’re wanting to provide the money to. As part of that, whenever we do volunteer work, we kind of have to share it with our team. I think that kind of open up can of worms. So some of the people kind of saw the thing that I was doing and was like, “What was that purple wig about?” It started the conversation there. But it was fun, just to see how people kind of felt about what they saw and so forth. But they were so interested in the fact that, “Oh, that is interesting. What were you doing over there? What was it like?” and so forth. So people were engaged. People liked it.
John: Yeah, and it opens up some really cool conversations, it sounds like.
Crystal: Yeah, yeah, it did.
John: And people that you’ve worked around for a while, I’m sure, and just no one knew that side of you. Were you nervous at all in sharing that?
Crystal: Not really. I wasn’t really nervous about it. I was nervous about the picture that I shared with our marketing team. So when they shared it, blasted it on our social media, I think they filter out the purple wig too, like the Facebook and more like corporate-looking one into the LinkedIn.
John: Okay. Right. Yeah. But that’s the one that people gravitate towards.
John: Because then it’s like, “Wait, what? What’s going on over here?” It’s not judgment. It’s tell me more about this. This looks cool.
Crystal: I know. Yeah.
John: That’s fantastic because that’s the kind of thing that typically people, they’re just reluctant to share historically because I don’t want to be judged, a million of different things. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, no one’s judging. It’s the opposite when you do actually open up. So it’s encouraging to hear that firsthand from you. That’s really neat. I think that’s so huge that you guys are doing the volunteer work, but the real benefit to all that is you have to come back to your group and share with them what you did. That’s where the power is because if everyone just goes off and does their own thing and no one shares or talks about it, well, then it might as well not happened.
Crystal: Yeah, one of the things, once you volunteer, you have to submit a form and then submit the pictures or videos where it shows that you actually did, not to audit it but really to share with our people and say, “Hey, guess what? Crystal did such and such with a purple wig. She was out there doing this.” It’s good for our team to see that yes, we’re not just the normal, boring accountants. We’re actually very special, in a way, every single one of us. And then also, we’re just giving back to the community.
John: I love all of it. That’s such a great idea and such an easy takeaway for everyone listening that they can bring back to their company, even in a small way. It doesn’t have to be 25 hours for some people, but that’s really fantastic. So has this at all benefited your career? I guess, obviously, the skill set is something that helps out. But as far as relationships go, are they different now that people have seen this side of you?
Crystal: I think people are more willing to be open, want me to share more of myself, like really be authentic and just be vulnerable and just say, “Hey, this is who I am. This is what I do on the side. Once in a while, you’ll see me like dancing around on the stage with the kiddos. That’s just me.” I have two young ones. I have a seven-year-old and four-year-old. I talk a lot about my kids at work because we connect at a different level, like working parents, we connect at a different level. Whenever somebody has a baby, I feel so sorry for them. No, I’m just kidding.
John: Right. You’re tired all the time.
Crystal: Yes. So it’s like I’ve been there, done that. If you need any help as a working mom or working dad, if you need any advice, I’ve been there, let’s talk. So just connecting at a different level. It’s more than just your work itself. It’s really connecting the life. It’s really brought great friendships with even my business contacts because I’m more open now than before, actually.
John: Oh, that’s fantastic. I loved how you said that. It’s more than work. It’s connecting new life, because there are so many more dimensions to you than just the accounting business development side.
Crystal: Yeah, very true.
John: So many more dimensions and percentage wise, the work side is such a small percentage of who you are as a whole. So once you get to know other people like that, then really cool things happen. If someone else is a dancer or a choreographer or an actor, a little bit of singing, whatever, now you have something to talk about, where before it was like, I forgot your name. Sorry. Well, not in your case, but I would do that.
Crystal: Yeah. If I show you the dance move, you’ll probably recognize me, right?
John: Oh, totally. I’ll never forget it. I’ll never forget it. I think it is easy for people — easier, I guess, for people to share about their children. I don’t know why it is, but for some reason, that leap from sharing about your children versus sharing about what you actually love to do as an individual. For some reason, there’s a huge leap there that’s hard for people to do.
Crystal: That’s an interesting point of view. I never thought of it that way, but I guess, kids regard as more natural part of your life, I guess, where hobby could be all different. Your hobby might be a little crazy like mine, or maybe it has different spectrums. I don’t know. Maybe that’s why people are not willing to share so much about their hobby. I’m just guessing.
John: Right. Because I guess they think that, well, everyone’s going to have kids, or they were a child at some point. Well, not everyone was an actor. Not everyone wore a purple wig. So there’s not that common ground. But the thing that I found, for me myself anyway, when I was at PwC and a comedian, clearly there’s no one else doing that, especially in my office. But what I found is that the more individual it is, the stronger it’s gravitated towards by everyone else, because I’m sure everyone knows about you and your acting because of that picture.
Crystal: Yeah, they started to recognize that and they’re like, “What were you doing over there?”
John: Yeah, yeah. Where if you’re like a golfer, it’s like, well, we got another 30 of those over here, whatever. I just think it’s so cool to hear that such a positive feedback happened when you did share, and it’s encouraging for not only you to be more open, like you said, but for others listening.
John: I think it’s great too that the firm is encouraging that. How much do you feel like it’s on an organization to create that culture where, hey, we’re real people, and share the other sides of you versus how much is it on the individual to open up and be a part of that or just create their own little small circle in a place that maybe frowned upon?
Crystal: I would think really the corporate culture dictates a lot of this where could you be really vulnerable and be yourself be authentic and show up as who you are in the workplace, or do you have to conform to this specific corporate culture that we’ve created in order to fit in here, right? So I think it’s more of a cultural thing within the corporate. So that being said, on the corporate culture side, I think a lot is coming from the one on the top. But at the same time, I don’t think you would have to always conform to that stereotypical thinking like, oh, accountant should be like this, because I used to be that way. I don’t think I made any friends during that time. I had colleagues, but I didn’t have any friends that I hang out during that time because I really haven’t been connecting.
John: That’s interesting. Sadly, probably people that you don’t necessarily remember because there wasn’t that connection. That’s really interesting that you experienced that. Now, is it something that happens with more confidence as you get on in your career?
Crystal: I think that too. I think the maturity kind of plays in too as I got deeper into the career path and so forth. I think that helps too. But for whatever reason, I started at Deloitte. They have a great culture. But for whatever reason, I just felt like, maybe it was just me coming from Korea, thinking like, uh, professional has to be like this and more strict about myself and putting my own guards when really the culture wasn’t mandating or dictating any of those. It was just really me saying like, oh, no, I have to be like this in order to be a professional. Once I got that guard off, it was so much easier to make friends and just open up and say, “Hey, I don’t get this. Help me out.”
John: Right. Was there something that helped take your guard down, or was it just that time and confidence, like you said?
Crystal: I think it’s more of the time and confidence that was built throughout that time period. Once I started being more myself, I noticed that, huh, people actually enjoy being around me. I guess I could be more of me. And then I think that kind of got just more natural to me.
John: Oh, man, I love that. That’s so great, because it is scary. I remember when I started, I’m like, wow, I’m getting paid way too much money than I’ve ever made in my life. I’m supposed to be all this and whatever you think you’re supposed to be. And come to find out, you’re just supposed to be you. I mean, that’s it. The one thing that I always found interesting, though, was just that I started modeling behavior of people ahead of me, so kind of like the manager level, director level. But then I found out later that they were modeling behavior of someone ahead of them going back, I don’t know, 100 years. No one’s actually just bringing themselves. It’s just we’re all modeling behavior after something else that we saw on TV or what we think in our head. It’s so refreshing to hear that once you go out on that limb just a little bit, you’re like, wow, people actually like me for me. That’s neat.
John: Then it’s a lot less exhausting, I have to imagine.
Crystal: Yeah, having all the guards and shields and everything, armor, it’s hard. It drags you down.
John: That’s for sure. Is there anything else that you guys do there at the firm or that you’ve experienced that helps encourage that?
Crystal: One of the interesting part of our culture within Goldin Peiser & Peiser, it’s really the extended family feel. So as you know, family members, they sometimes get into argument. Sometimes they would get into a place where like, “No, I’m right, you’re wrong,” and so forth. But what does family do, they kind of all agree and move on, right? So having that safe family feel, being able to express your opinion, but really once we made a decision going together as a team and pursuing it, I think that’s been fabulous within our firm, to really be yourself and you know how to voice out, but at the same time, once we decide on something we’re going as a team, we’ve decided on this, and we’re all in it.
John: That’s great, because great ideas come from all the levels, intern all the way up to managing partner and everything in between. That’s really neat that there’s that culture, that it’s safe for people to just say, “Hey!” But it’s also cool that everyone’s like, “All right, we picked the thing, we’re going to go with that. Great.” No harm, no foul and no grudges like all that. That’s awesome. Very cool. So do you have any words of encouragement for anyone listening before I wrap this up? They’re like, “Well, my hobby or passion has nothing to do with my work, so I shouldn’t share it.”
Crystal: I would say you will be amazed by how many people around you, once you start opening up, they’ll be more drawn to you just because you’re being authentic, just being yourself. Sometimes we fail. Everyone fall at some point, but if we could just say like, “Oh, I fell this time, but I’m going to get up.” So if you just be yourself and be vulnerable to others, you’ll be amazed by the fact how much people will be drawn to you.
John: That’s so great. I mean, you lived it. You’re an excellent example of that.
Crystal: Oh, thank you.
John: That’s fantastic. So it’s only fair, since I started out rapid-fire questioning you, that I turn the table and allow you to put me in the hot seat. So if you have some rapid-fire questions, I’m all ready here.
Crystal: I’ll give a few. Okay, stand-up comedian or emcee?
John: Oh, man, there are so many layers to that answer. I guess, stand-up comedian but emcees get treated nicer at corporate events? I don’t know. But the comedian, I love that too. So yeah, probably stand-up comedian. Totally different skill sets as well.
Crystal: Do you enjoy reading book or writing book?
John: Reading. Writing a book has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, and preferably a short book, micro chapters, the kind. Basically, I’m writing the book that I would want to read.
John: I don’t want this big, giant, heavy book that I’m not going to finish.
Crystal: Amen to that. Yes, I will read your book.
John: Great. Yeah, absolutely.
Crystal: That’s it.
John: Thank you so much, Crystal. That’d be great if I have one buyer already. One person is going to read my book, and my mom, so we have two readers. That’s awesome. So thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Crystal: Thank you. I appreciate it. This was fun.
John: If you’d like to see some pictures of Crystal, probably with her purple wig, or connect with her on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com, and all the links are there and also all the information about the book that’s coming out very soon. While you’re on the page, please click that big green button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture. It’ll really help for when I’m doing my presentations.
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