Amanda is an Accountant & Backpacker
Amanda Aguillard talks about her passion for backpacking and how it has helped with facing adversaries and establishing relationships with clients! She also talks about how technology has allowed her to run her business, maintain client connections, and continue to pursue her passion!
• Getting into backpacking
• Notable places she has been to
• “Hike your own hike”
• Talking to coworkers about her backpacking trips
• The culture at Aguillard Accounting
• How technology helps with her career and passion
• Why she stopped doing tax work
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Welcome to Episode 325 of What’s Your “And”? This is John Garrett, and each Wednesday, I interview a professional who, just like me, is known for a hobby or a passion or an interest outside of work. To put it another way, it’s encouraging people to find their “And”, those things above and beyond your technical skills, the things that actually differentiate you when you’re at work.
I’m so excited to let everyone know that my book is published. It’s available on Amazon, Indigo, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop 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 now getting the book and leaving Amazon reviews. Thank you so much for that.
Please don’t forget to hit subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss any of the future episodes. I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week, and this week is no different with my guest, Amanda Aguillard. She’s a principal at Aguillard Accounting and the co-founder of Elefant, as well as the producer of Accounting Salon. She’s in New Orleans, and now she’s with me here today. Amanda, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Amanda: Thanks for having me, John.
John: Yeah, that’s exhausting. You’re a busy, busy lady, so thank you for making time for this. This is going to be awesome.
Amanda: Sure. I’m looking forward to this conversation.
John: Absolutely. My 17 rapid-fire questions, get to know Amanda on a new level here. I think everyone is eager for these answers. I’ll start you out with an easy one. We’ll start with favorite color.
Amanda: Oh, green, like a very nice bluish gray-green, to be specific.
John: Okay, a bluish gray-green.
Amanda: Like sea blast kind of green.
John: There you go, okay, okay. How about a least favorite color?
John: Orange. Oh, that was quick. I thought you were going to say a different shade of green and that would have been hilarious. All right, this one’s a tricky one, brownie or ice cream.
John: Oh, okay, all right. How about a favorite actor or actress?
Amanda: Ooh, kind of a fan of Colin Firth. I like that sort of distinguished, not terribly handsome but smart and witty British fellow.
John: Okay. All right.
Amanda: That’s my vibe. That’s where I’m leaning.
John: Okay. I like that. I like that. How about pens or pencils?
John: Pens. No mistakes. Look at you.
Amanda: Oh, you know, it’s funny, pens or pencils. Who uses a pen or pencil these days?
John: Oh, yeah. Well, that’s a good point. That’s how old I am.
Amanda: That’s all right. I make myself a grocery list. I’m like, what is this thing that I definitely — oh, vodka, got it. Perfect.
John: Right. There you go. Sudoku or crossword puzzle.
Amanda: Neither really. Who has time for that?
John: Oh, okay, all right. Yeah, you’re writing grocery lists.
Amanda: That’s right.
John: How about, you’re more of an early bird or night owl?
Amanda: Oh, early bird. I was the girl — this is no joke — I was the girl in eighth and ninth grade who would fall asleep at slumber parties. I was up at 5:45 this morning, happily. My kids are both teenagers now. They’ll ask to be brought places to see their friends. I’m always — this happened yesterday — I’m always like, “You know Mama goes to bed around nine, so I’m going to need you to make a decision real quick. Make sure you have a place to spend the night because I am not picking you up at midnight.”
John: That’s hysterical. That’s hysterical. That’s so funny.
Amanda: That is 100% true.
John: That is so funny. All right, how about Star Wars or Star Trek?
Amanda: Again, neither really.
John: Okay, how about any movie trilogy?
Amanda: No. I am also someone who, you can be like, “Have you seen this movie?” The answer will be no. I don’t know.
John: Right, because movies happen at night.
Amanda: Well, I just don’t go to movies. It takes me too long to find something on Netflix. There might be a couple of TV series that I have watched. I’m a big reader. I love to read and so usually my downtime at night is reading, not watching.
John: Okay, all right. No, fair enough, fair enough. How about your computer, PC or a Mac?
John: Yeah, me too.
Amanda: I like real Excel.
Amanda: That’s what that’s about.
John: That’s hilarious. Okay, how about a favorite ice cream flavor? I’m a huge ice cream junkie.
Amanda: Okay, probably peppermint because I grew up in Lafayette, Louisiana, which happens to be where the last remaining freestanding Borden’s ice cream shop is.
John: Oh, wow.
Amanda: We used to go there when I was very little. We’d sit at the counter, and I would always get peppermint ice cream with a little extra peppermint.
John: Right, right. Yeah, so is it like a vanilla ice cream with the peppermint?
Amanda: No. No, it’s peppermint-flavored ice cream with the tiniest bits of peppermint candy sprinkled, no chocolate. There’s no chocolate, just peppermint. It’s usually pink.
John: All right. Wow, that sounds good. How about a favorite adult beverage?
Amanda: The one that I have been making myself drink lately is the one I really love to drink because I can drink cheap white wine like water. That is nice cheap white wine.
John: Okay, all right.
Amanda: I’m trying to move a little bit more to the vodka, soda, no sugar stuff.
John: Oh, yeah, because it’s healthier. I see.
Amanda: I mean, it’s a spectrum of health, right, but, yeah.
John: Okay. All right, we’ve got six more. Balance sheet or income statement.
Amanda: Income statement.
John: Oh, there it is. Okay. How about more oceans or mountains?
Amanda: Mountains. Although I do like the oceans but, no, I’m a mountain girl.
John: Okay, all right. How about more diamonds or pearls?
Amanda: I don’t really wear that much jewelry, I got to tell you, another thing too. Yeah.
John: Okay. All right. We’re all learning a lot, okay.
Amanda: Look, if there’s anybody listening that’s like, should I send Amanda diamonds or pearls? I’m fine with either.
John: Yes. The answer is yes.
Amanda: I’d really like a new ultralight tent or a second pair of trail runners. That’s my, you know.
John: That’s where it’s at. Okay. Okay. How about a favorite number?
John: Is there a reason?
Amanda: My birthday is on the eighth, and I just think eight is a nice symmetrical, round full number.
John: It is. I like that. How about, since my book’s out and you like reading, Kindle or real books.
Amanda: I go back and forth. I go back and forth. I know the folks listening cannot see, but you can see that I have a big bookshelf behind me, of paper books. I have recently, since this quarantine started, have figured out this being able to check out electronic books from my library. It is so convenient. It is so convenient. I can queue up my app and have the library let me know when things are available. Then, instantly, it shows up on my Kindle. It’s free. It’s amazing.
John: Yeah, for sure. That’s one good thing that’s come out of this, is — I guess it was always there, but we never really used it. All right, the last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.
Amanda: I think my favorite thing right now is my trail runners that I just hiked in. They’re On. Are you familiar with On running brand?
John: I’ve heard of them, yeah.
Amanda: Yeah. They have a trail runner, and I love them. Those are my favorite thing. They’re pretty. They’re my favorite color, seafoam green and white, beautiful. Those are my favorite possession right now.
John: That’s awesome. That’s very cool, and that dovetails perfectly into the hobby, passion outside of work with hiking and backpacking. How did you get into that? Is it something you grew up doing a lot of or?
Amanda: Well, no, I did not grow up doing it. I grew up in Lafayette, Louisiana, which is about the flattest place. If you went outside of my house, it was pretty much just rice fields.
John: And the pitcher’s mound on the baseball stadium?
Amanda: Yeah, totally, there was no elevation, so I didn’t grow up doing this. I did grow up with a spirit of adventure. I’d get on my bike. I lived in the country, so even at seven and eight years old, I always had this sense of I want to get somewhere on my own power. I want to go to a friend’s house. I want to go to the store. I’d get on my bike, or I’d walk. That has, over the last 40-something years, has evolved into just this kind of deep self-reliance. I don’t need anybody to get anywhere. I don’t need a machine to get somewhere. I can walk there.
I went to grad school actually in Colorado, from Lafayette. I moved from college, Lafayette to Denver, Colorado. My mind was blown. I’ve ever seen colors like this, this blue sky and Alpine lakes and these rugged mountains and snow. I’d never seen snow. So, when I moved to Colorado, I got into hiking there, obviously, because I think it’s a prerequisite.
John: It is.
Amanda: If you live in Colorado and you’re not outdoorsy, people are like, you need to get the F out of here because that’s not the way we do Colorado. So, I got kind of crunchy and started doing all this stuff and then moved back to New Orleans and tried to do a little bit of hiking where I can. I will tell you this, every time I would take a business trip back when we were traveling, I would add on a day, before or after, to go find a hike somewhere. It could have been Dallas, Texas. I was like, it’s Dallas. It’s different. I’ll go on a hike somewhere. So, that’s how I got into it.
John: That’s very cool, very cool. Do you have any favorite hikes that you’ve done that maybe bring back fond memories or cool stories?
Amanda: Well, everything is just so different. I’ve done things like Joshua Tree which is like hiking on the moon. I’m like, where are we? How is this America or even Earth? It doesn’t even —
John: No, exactly. They have those funky trees and just weird rock formations.
John: You can’t see anything else anywhere. It’s like, yeah, I hope we don’t die out here.
Amanda: So, Joshua Tree was awesome. I’ve done some hiking with the children, my children, in the Pacific Northwest. That was fun with them. That’s beautiful and lush and green. I guess my favorite trip, to date, is recently I hiked a section of the Appalachian Trail.
John: Oh, wow.
Amanda: I, in the last few years, have gotten semi-obsessed with the idea of doing the whole trail, listening to podcasts, reading books. So, a little while back, I did just a four-day section. It was the first time I had been backpacking without a boy. I was like, this is kind of exciting. It was another friend, another mom, friend of mine. We were like, we’re going to do this. We’re getting dropped off somewhere. The car is 35 miles up the trail, and we just have to get there. It was awesome. It was awesome.
John: That’s very cool. Yeah, because it’s that independent spirit, like you’ve said, growing up, of I don’t need anything else. I have it all right here on my back. My tent, my backpack or my food, my supplies, my sleeping bag, whatever; it’s all right here with me. Yeah, that’s awesome. Yeah, and four days. It’s not just four days. It’s four days. That’s four more days on the Appalachian Trail that I have done. That’s impressive. Don’t ever think that it’s not. That’s cool.
Amanda: It was a little bit tough. The things that I thought would worry me or scare me were not the things that I worried about on the trail. Like, bears and snakes, thought that was going to be a real problem. Gosh, I had my pocketknife and my pepper spray and the whistle, the whole thing. I’m walking through the woods making noise because of all the bears that are about to eat me.
John: Oh, yeah, they’re around every corner. It’s like a video game.
Amanda: Yeah. It turns out, we did not see one bear. We didn’t see anything really of note. The chipmunk, that’s what we saw. All these fears about being mauled by a bear, no.
John: That’s interesting, though, because that’s almost a parallel to a lot of life, where we think that something’s going to be bigger and scarier than it really is. Then we go and do it, and we’re like, wait, actually, no, that’s not bad at all. We should have done this before.
Amanda: Actually, hiking for 35-ish miles, you have a lot of time to think.
John: Yeah, that’s true.
Amanda: This, really, this whole hike is really a parallel for my businesses and worrying about things that don’t need to worry about. Or running lean, packing light, that’s a good metaphor for business especially right now where, only carry exactly what you need, the carrying cost of everything.
John: Yeah. No, that’s awesome. Yeah, that’s so true because we get bogged down with so many things that we think we’re supposed to do or what normal is. It’s, no, normal is whatever works for you.
Amanda: That’s another thing. In hiking, there’s a saying, hike your own hike. Hike your own hike means you hike the way that works for you. There are people who were much younger and faster than I am. There are people who are much older than I am. You figure out what works for you. I like to hike a lot during the day and then pass out at night camp and then get up and do it early morning again. That’s my hiking deal. I don’t like to take a lot of breaks because I think — but other people do. Other people want to take days off on their trails. I’m of the mindset, I am going somewhere, I want to get there, so hike your own hike.
John: Plus, the bears are coming from behind. If you take a day off, they’re going to catch up. No, but I love that, hike your own hike. That dovetails perfectly with What’s Your “And” is, make your profession you. You’re the accountant. You’re the engineer. You’re the lawyer. You’re the whatever. You don’t have to be something else. You’re already it. Make it the other way around. Make the profession you.
Amanda: Yeah, I was going to say, why is the “and” the hobby? The “and” should be the profession.
John: The first thing.
Amanda: Right? I’m a hiker and I also…
John: So that I have money to go do the hikes.
John: I do this other thing. Yeah, I think it’s because most of us just had been trained and indoctrinated to start with, well, what do you do? Well, that means what do I do for money, for a living? It’s like, well, if you — yeah, that would be awesome if you, “What do you do, Amanda?” I’m a hiker and a backpacker. For a living? No. Are you crazy? You can’t make money at that.
Amanda: I will say this to anybody who’s interested in hiking and backpacking, it is the quickest way to spend a lot of money to act like you’re poor, to mentally be homeless. All the things we look around and say, to threaten our children with, I don’t want you living in a tent or living off a bridge or eating off the side of the road. These are some things I’ve threatened my kids with, but I will spend thousands of dollars to live, basically be homeless and drink out of a ditch.
John: Yeah, I’ll do it for four days straight. I don’t care, and enjoy every minute of it. Yeah, that’s super funny. That’s super funny. Is this something that you talk about with clients or coworkers, the hiking?
Amanda: Yeah, a little bit. I will say —
John: It comes up. You’re not hiding it or whatever.
Amanda: No, I’m not shamed.
John: Right, of your homelessness.
Amanda: If anything, it’s more surprising. They’re like, you are a middle-aged woman. What are you doing being a backpacker? That kind of heck is for kids with trust funds coming out of college.
John: Right, right.
Amanda: No, definitely. I think everybody knows that side of me mostly because they get response emails, like, I will not be checking my email because I do not have internet. I did talk to clients about — our client base is pretty progressive. We have been a virtual, cloud-based practice from the beginning in 2012, ‘13.
John: Oh, okay.
Amanda: I think just organically, we have a hipper kind of client base. My clients do all kinds of cool stuff. They love to travel. I have a lot of creatives. I don’t think that that’s — the way I live my life is not at all in conflict with the way that they live their lives or run their businesses.
John: Yeah. Well, that’s an interesting point is, you know what lights them up as well. Do you feel like that’s a stickier relationship or a different kind of relationship than earlier on in your career where maybe you didn’t know what clients liked to do outside of work?
Amanda: Yeah, definitely. Because really, our clients want us to be, I hate to use the word advisors because I think it’s overused, but they want us to be their sidekick, their pal, shoulder-to-shoulder with them in their businesses. They don’t want to be across the table. So, these things that are intangible connectors, especially with regards lifestyle, I definitely think it makes the relationship stickier.
John: It’s just so strange that no one told you in business school, I’m guessing, except for maybe in Denver, that hiking will make you a better professional, but it clearly does. It gives you skills that you bring to the office, I have to imagine, just that mindset of don’t worry about things you don’t need to worry about or other things like that, and that fortitude. You’re out there on day three and a half, you got muscle down. This is not easy.
Amanda: Yeah, it’s funny you say that because I woke up on the third morning, and we had 11 miles to go to town. On my spreadsheet that I had prepared for the night, I had noted that there was a shelter about eight miles from where we’re sleeping. So, our two choices were hike eight miles, which we’ve been averaging about eight, nine miles a day, hike eight miles and get to the shelter and then hike three miles into town or push it and do the 11.
By the third morning that we woke up on this most recent trip, I was ready for vegetables, to be honest. People are like, weren’t you ready for a shower and a toilet? I’m like, no, I was ready for a salad. That’s the problem with it. I was so tired of eating carbs. I would have gladly, if somebody would’ve postmated me a grilled chicken salad in the middle of North Carolina wilderness, I would have gone on for another week. I didn’t care. I just wanted some vegetables and lean protein. I was so tired. I really don’t know if I’ll ever eat couscous again.
John: Right. That’s hilarious.
Amanda: I don’t think I can ever eat couscous again. Even speaking of it makes me want to vomit. Anyway, my point was, we pushed on the 11 miles. We were like, we’re going to North Carolina. We showered. We had a salad and champagne. It was the most delicious salad and champagne I’ve ever had in my life.
John: That’s amazing. Yeah, it’s just like in the middle of a busy season or a big project or something like that. It’s that inner fortitude that you know, hey, I’ve done this in another way. It’s a different muscle group that you’ve exercised, and now you need to flex it at work. It’s cool that you can just rely on that. That’s a cool thing. It’s cool that you have those relationships with your clients. Was it always that way, early on in your career? Were you open about outside-of-work interests, or is it a bit more of later in your career?
Amanda: Oh, I think this is definitely since I started my own practice in ‘12, ‘13-ish, definitely as a staff accountant at Deloitte or even before that at a regional Louisiana firm. First of all, we didn’t have time to talk about stuff because I was waiting for canceled checks to come in the mail, so I could do write-up work or having to scan, not even scan, having to photocopy W2s or tape — remember the calculator ribbons? You have to print those out and tape. So, there was no time for a hobby and/or talking about it because there’s just a lot to be done, paper-wise. I think that that was just not the deal of that relationship. Whereas, now, I talk to my clients constantly on Zoom, and my clients are across the country. I think we have just a more personal relationship now because of the technology involved.
John: Yeah, so the technology allows you to be able to have that mindset because it frees you up from having to do all the manual tasks all the time that, where you can actually be that partner or side-by-side person.
Amanda: The communication is so much easier. We would, in old days, back in the ‘90s, we would only see clients once or twice a year, right? They dropped off their stuff, and they picked up their stuff. That was when we saw them. Now, my email signature has a booking link on it. If somebody wants to get a hold of me, they can book a meeting with me and be virtually face-to-face with me within 24 hours, as much as you want.
John: Those relationships, then you could actually impact the business more. If you see a client, once, twice a year, well, I didn’t know all this other stuff you were trying to do behind my back, basically. Where if you’re having regular conversations with them, it almost becomes like a friend type of relationship which, why shouldn’t it be? Professionalism tell us that, no, no, no, no. They’re over there. We’re over here. We’re the smartypants.
Amanda: Well, I think there’s this big myth that clients are going to take advantage of your time if you give them too much access. I think that there are probably some pain about clients that are like that, but for the most part, it’s not like that. I don’t think any of my clients are booking meetings with me every week and that they desperately want to talk to me to pick my brain about stuff. It’s not like that, but just having that open door, I think it does allow for more connectivity.
John: Yeah, and it just sets the tone of this is how this relationship works, type of thing. Then there’s more freedom, and it’s a little more relaxed. Yeah, it sounds better in the end for everybody, which is awesome. Do you have any words of encouragement to anyone listening that might think, hey, I have a hobby or an interest outside of work, but it really has nothing to do with my job?
Amanda: Yes, go do it. Of course, go do the thing. Do the thing as much as you can. Do all the things, of course. That’s happiness. Happiness, to me, is when the things I do align with my deepest values. For me, hiking brings me a lot of true deep joy because it is a little bit of suffering and exercising my body, exercising my will. It is feeding my spirit of independence. It is connecting with nature and the environment. These are things that are deeply valuable to me. When you find those things, whatever they are, reading, cooking, running, those things that get here in your heart and in your chest, and you can physically feel it; you’ve got to go do that. That is your purpose on this planet is to do those things that bring you deep, deep joy. I’m not naive to the fact that we have to work for money but, yeah, make time and go do these things because your job is not your life.
John: You’re so right. It’s so easy for us — it’s such a slippery slope of, well, this is how I pay the mortgage and this is how I put food on the table. Then it’s easy to put those other things on the back burner and then they go dormant. The problem is, is they go extinct. You forget that you used to like the hike. I’ve had so many people, when I speak at conferences, come up and be like, I used to like to, and I haven’t done that in 10 years, and now I need to. I’m like, yeah, probably. Because, yeah, it’s a scary thing, how easy it is be like, I’ll just do it next month, and then you don’t, for 10 years or whatever.
Amanda: Yeah, and I think that, at least in accounting industry, and probably other professional services, too, but I think especially in accounting industry, we love a good martyrdom story. I can’t do anything because of this deadline or that deadline. Honestly, that’s — I have a Master’s Degree in Tax from the University of Denver, and I did tax work for a while. I stopped completely about five years ago because I just wanted out of that piece of it. I know that people think that that’s not an option for them, a lot of them, but I was tired, just the deadline after deadline after deadline and having to live this life of martyrdom that, oh, I can’t do this in the 15th of whatever month. Yeah, so I opted out of that. It is possible. Consider the possibility of opting out of that, folks.
John: You’re more than one thing. It’s possible to have all of these different dimensions to your life happening at the same time. Work happens five days a week, every week, for most people. Where, the passion, maybe it’s once a month, or maybe it’s twice a year, but it’s making time to do that. It doesn’t have to be something that you do every week or you do every day. Maybe there isn’t time for that. It’s setting time and dedicating it for that and talking about it.
Amanda: Thinking about the evolution of humanity, never before has there been the opportunity to live a dimensional life than there is now with technology. Never before could we do what we’re doing now. When I was on the Appalachian Trail, I was unplugged, but there are a lot of times where I go, I travel, do hikes, whatever, that I’m not completely unplugged. I might be unplugged for the duration of the hike but then I get back to the hotel room. I get back on my computer, and I run my businesses. Never before have we had the means to have a dimensional life.
John: That’s an excellent point. There’s really no excuse, is basically what you’re saying.
Amanda: That’s what I’m saying. Stop complaining. Go out there and do your thing.
John: Yeah, quit being a martyr. If anyone tries to be a martyr, the only response is why? I worked all this — why? Are you not good at what you do? Why does it take so long?
Amanda: Figure it out, build a system, use technology, leverage other resources, and go out and live your best life.
John: There you go. I love that. Before I wrap this up, it’s only fair, since I so rudely started out the show, peppering you with rapid-fire questions, that I turn the tables, and we make this the Amanda Aguillard podcast show, first episode. Thank you so much for having me on, Amanda. So, whatever you want to ask, I’m all yours.
Amanda: Okay, so how about this, what is going to be the first place that you travel to, let’s call it, early next year when everybody is, I hate to even speak the word, safe and healthy? Where’s the first place you’re going when you can?
John: Yeah. Wow, that’s a great question. Hopefully, it’s for a conference that’s bringing me in to keynote. That being said, it will probably be the Indeed Interactive huge conference in Austin, booked for that next year, so I’m pretty excited about that one, get in the HR world. For pleasure, yeah, it’ll probably be, I don’t know, Cancun or Cabo or Costa Rica or something like that, to just veg out on the beach.
John: Yeah, because I was supposed to be in Italy in June.
Amanda: Me too. I was supposed to be in Italy.
John: Yeah. That didn’t happen, so we’ll be going. It’s just I’m not sure if that’s the first place I’ll be going to but, yeah, I’m ready to go. We can go now. Why not?
Amanda: Because then we couldn’t get back into the country.
John: Oh, yeah, that’s right. My bad. Never mind, that whole thing.
John: Right. That’s a good question though.
Amanda: Okay, here’s a softball one. What’s your favorite NFL team?
John: Oh, favorite NFL team. I’m totally a college football guy. I’m not as good at — I mean, the NFL, growing up as a child, it was the Dallas Cowboys when they had Roger Staubach was the quarterback and then Tony Dorsett and Herschel Walker, those teams. Tom Landry was the coach.
Amanda: I thought you’re going to say because you wanted to be a Cowboys cheerleader, which is, why not? The Cowboys, in the ‘80s, they had the best cheerleaders.
John: That sitcom Dallas, my parents would let me stay up just to watch the intro because there was a flyover of Cowboy stadium and then I would go to bed. I guess the Broncos since I live here in Denver. Yeah, I’m not really an NFL guy.
Amanda: What about college?
John: Yeah, Notre Dame, for sure, hands down.
Amanda: Did you go to Notre Dame?
John: Yeah, that’s where I went to school, so that’s my team. I know it’s not everybody’s team. I’m totally okay with that, too. So, there we go.
Amanda: Cool. Okay, and one last one. Since I am from Louisiana and New Orleans, and we have the best food in the world, what would be your last meal? If you knew what your last meal was going to be, what would be your last meal?
John: Yeah, last meal, that’s a tough one. That’s really good.
Amanda: It’s your last meal. There are no consequences to it. You can have anything that tastes good.
John: Oh, yeah. No, no, there are no health issues at all because I would just eat it anyway. Even if it was my 10th last meal, I’m still going all in on it. I don’t know, a whole thing of lasagna would be pretty awesome, like the whole pan. Yeah, it’s embarrassing how much I eat. Yeah, lasagna is always good. A really good New York strip is also good. Yeah, that’s a tough choice. I don’t know. Why not both? I mean, why not?
Amanda: It’s your last meal. You can have it all.
John: Totally, because I could just have a heart attack before they put me into whatever they’re doing. Those are great questions. Oh, man, you made me think. Now my brain hurts.
Amanda: Oh, good.
John: No, I appreciate it. Well, thanks, Amanda, for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”? This was super fun.
Amanda: Super fun. Glad to see you.
John: Everyone, if you want to see some pictures of Amanda from her hikes or connect with her on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. All the links are there. While you’re on the page, please click that big button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture.
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.
Scott is a Consultant & Camper & Mustang Driver
Scott has been at Conrad Siegel since 1995, where he helps clients design and run their defined contribution retirement plans, and to understand their fiduciary responsibilities. Scott works mainly with 401(k)-type plans and ESOPs, and does a fair bit of business development as well. He especially enjoys the public speaking, writing and networking that he does as a part of his work!
Scott returns to the podcast from episode 41 to talk about his new Mustang, his recent leg injury, backpacking with his son, and why he loves networking!
• Scott tells us about his car accident,
• …and his new Mustang,
• …breaking his leg,
• …overnight backpacking with his son,
• and how the office reacted to his car accident and leg injury
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Welcome to Episode 232 of What’s Your “And”? Follow-Up Friday edition. This is John Garrett. Each Friday, I follow 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 has impacted them since we last talked.
I’m so excited to let everyone know my book is being published 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 every Wednesday and now every Friday. I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week. This Follow-Up Friday is no different with my guest, Scott Gehman. He’s a retirement plan consultant with Conrad Siegel in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Now he’s with me here today.
Scott, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Scott: Sure thing, John. Thanks for having me.
John: Oh, absolutely, man. I remember hanging out a couple of years ago when I spoke at the conference there and how much fun that was.
Scott: Yeah, it was a lot of fun.
John: Yeah, definitely. I’m just excited to connect again and bring you back and share your magic with everyone else who’s listening. Back from Episode 41. That’s crazy, man, how long ago that was.
John: But yeah, so I mix things up a little bit with the rapid-fire questions out of the gate now.
John: So I know that’s very against anything actuarial.
Scott: I’m not an actuary. Let’s just keep that clear.
John: There we go. There we go. Awesome. But the ones listening are sweating bullets.
Scott: Right, right.
John: But here we go. If you had to choose, Harry Potter or Game of Thrones?
Scott: Game of Thrones.
John: Oh, nice. Okay, what’s a typical breakfast?
Scott: Oh, goodness. Right now yogurt because I’m trying to rehab my broken leg.
John: Yeah, yeah. I saw the pictures on that. Oh, man, I feel bad. How about when you read, more Kindle or real books?
Scott: Real books.
John: Nice. Okay. And if you had to pick, brownie or ice cream?
Scott: Oh, ice cream all the way.
John: Nice. Do you have a favorite flavor?
Scott: Mint chocolate chip.
John: Ooh, good answer. Good answer. When you fly, more window seat or aisle seat?
Scott: I’m a big fan of the window seat.
John: Okay. Okay. And the last one, maybe the most important one. Toilet paper, roll over or under?
Scott: Oh, I got to think about this. I think in our house, it goes over. I’m not usually the one who makes that decision.
John: Right. You just use it. Okay.
John: Fair enough. I can appreciate that. I could appreciate that, for sure.
Scott: And on the mint chocolate chip ice cream, just to be clear, it has to be the green stuff. I don’t do the white.
John: Oh, yeah, the white is weird, right?
Scott: Yeah. It’s like incongruous or something.
John: Right. Maybe the green is not natural, but it’s the way it should be.
John: I appreciate that. Yeah. And so a couple of years ago, when we chatted, we talked over camping and then your Mustang car and then camping with your Mustang. Those pictures were hilarious, how you had everything fit just right to go camping with your son. Are you still actively doing that stuff?
Scott: Yeah, absolutely. Now interesting about the Mustang. So the one I was driving last time we talked, I got rear-ended and pushed into the path of a semi-truck and absolutely totaled it. I mean, there was not a straight panel on the car and very fortunate to basically walk away with a couple scratches and bumps, but that one was toast. That was back in June. It has nothing to do with my broken leg. But yes, so that one unfortunately had to go. It was one of those where I stepped out and I looked at it. I could rest easy knowing my insurance company was not going to try to fix it up and give it back to me. There was a certain piece about that. It’s like, okay, this is okay. This is okay.
John: If you could go, just go with all the parts.
Scott: Yeah. So I got a new one, same car. It’s a black Mustang GT with the six-speed manual transmission, the nice leather and good stereo and stuff like I like it.
John: There you go.
Scott: And then a month and a half in, I cracked my tibia horsing around with my son’s Boy Scout troop, of all things.
John: Oh, my goodness.
Scott: I can’t drive. Everybody’s like, “Well, you shouldn’t have gotten a manual transmission.” I’m thinking, it’s my right leg, like what am I going to do?
John: Right, right, that’s the gas pedals there. What the heck?
Scott: So to answer your question, yes, still doing it. In fact, we did get a couple of trips late in the summer and we went in camp twice. But then thankfully, my wife can drive sticks, so she takes me out in it once a week to keep the fluids moving and make sure that it doesn’t just sit. But I had the passenger in it and haven’t done any camping out of it in good month and a half.
John: Oh, wow. But you still got to do it, so that’s great. And those pictures from Episode 41 are so great. The fact that you can go camping with a Mustang repeatedly is amazing to me. That’s really cool.
Scott: It’s getting a little more challenging because my son is — well, last time we talked, when was that? Two years ago?
John: Yeah, almost three.
Scott: Yeah. Okay, so he was probably like 10 years old. Now h e’s 13, and he’s like closing in on like 5’8″. So he’s now in the front seat. Before I had to put him in the back, Pennsylvania State law. Now he’s in the front. So we’ve actually reached that second phase of camping gear. We’re repurchasing everything we had before but in the smaller version so I can actually get it in the car.
Scott: And then actually, interestingly, earlier this year we took a backpacking. It’s something that I hadn’t done in literally three decades, something he really wanted to do because of scouts and so let’s do this. So that has been perfect because they’ll just throw the backpacks in the trunk and that’s it.
John: Right. Yeah. And those are overnight backpacking trips or just like day hikes?
John: Oh, overnight? Great.
Scott: We’re just kind of dipping our toe in for now. I mean, I did it years and years ago. He’s still young. I don’t want to go out with just him on like a weeklong backpacking trip with no other adults. But unfortunately, it’s hard to find other people that wants to do this. Everybody thinks we’re nuts.
Scott: Including some of the Boy Scouts which troubles me a little bit. But we haven’t gone on like these excursions or anything, but we got out this spring and had some fun and survived. Actually, it is probably one of our best trips yet.
John: That’s fantastic. Where was that one to?
Scott: A lot of those pictures I sent you were from one of our state parks which is Pine Grove Furnace State Park, about 20 minutes from my house down in Michaux State Forest. Michaux State Forest is pretty big. They have the Appalachian Trail slices too. They have other hiking trails. They have a lot of neat places. So we just picked the route and figured out where we wanted to camp and set out. We just did one overnight.
John: That’s great though.
Scott: It was. It really was. Love that time. We’d do it again in a heartbeat, and I’m hoping to once my leg gets better.
John: Oh, man, that’s really cool because just camping just next level. Instead of just pulling up to the site, it’s let’s hike to the site.
John: It’s no different, but that’s super funny that some of the Boy Scouts think you’re crazy doing an overnight. I clearly just changed since when I was in the Boy Scouts myself.
Scott: To be fair, a lot of them do love it, but it’s just kind of funny, I think.
John: Right. Yeah. Why don’t you just sleep in your basement where there’s video games? It’s like, well, that’s not really the idea. That’s awesome though. And these are still things that you’re talking about at work? I mean, clearly with the car thing.
Scott: Well, and it’s funny about that, when I had my accident going back to June, I guess the car and the camping have become such a part of who I am that I had people come out to me saying, “Man, I know you have to get a new car. Do not come back you’re driving like an Accord or something.” There are people telling me, “We would be really disappointed if you got anything but another Mustang.” I’m like, “Don’t worry, don’t worry.” But it was one of those things that was just such a part of me by then. I mean, it’s my third one, going back to when I was 28, now 18 years ago. So they were basically just telling me, “Hey, you got to keep going with this.”
John: Right. “Don’t let us down.” And you’re like, “Can you help pay for it?” But that’s cool.
Scott: The other thing with the camping was I think when everybody heard I broke my leg, they’re just like, “Oh, my gosh!” because they just knew I was — I mean, nobody really said a lot about it, but they know I’m active. They know I like doing stuff. I have a scout troop. I happen to be doing something with my scout troop when I broke my leg, but that’s besides the point. I think people just know that’s one of the things I like to do and they were just like, “Oh, my gosh! That sucks.”
John: Yeah, especially the in the summer, that’s when most of this stuff is happening. It seems like, rrr. But that’s cool that they knew that about you and that they cared enough to be like, wow, that’s like really a bummer.
Scott: Yeah. So that was kind of interesting for me just to see how it played out when I had my unfortunate experiences this summer. We’re good. I’m almost six weeks into my healing process here, so I’ll get back there. So it’s still good. I’m feeling better.
John: So do you find that others around you are sharing as well, or is it just something that you do and maybe a few other people?
Scott: You know, it’s interesting. I’ve gotten to know here in the past few years, we’ve hired a couple of new folks that I found out, well, one really likes cars.
John: Oh, great.
Scott: One really likes outdoors, experiences and such. So I’ve had the chance to talk to other people. I don’t know that as a professional service firm, it’s the thing we most naturally do, but I’m a huge networker. I love going to networking events. In fact, that’s one of the things that’s killing me right now with being laid up like this is I can’t just plan to go to a networking event. Now I did speak at that conference last week, but that involved my wife driving me up to the Poconos.
John: Oh, boy.
Scott: She’s basically my handler for the day. I told my audience, I said, if you see this woman dive at me to prevent me from falling over, that would be my wife. She was kind of sitting there to make sure I behave myself, didn’t start to fall over. I can’t do that stuff. One of the things I love about networking is you get this chance to connect with people on the basis of their interests, not necessarily what they can do for you, for your job, or what you can do for them. One of my favorite questions to ask people I meet for the first time is like, what do you like to do when you’re not doing your regular work? And I found out so many great things like that. And interestingly, one of the more common answers I’ve heard is somebody involved with Boy Scouts or camp. It’s interesting. Yeah. I talked to a lot of other dads because I tend to gravitate towards people who are my age, so they have a son who’s in Scouts or maybe they have experience with that. So I’ve heard that more times than I can count. Every once in a while, I run into somebody who’s into cars, but that’s a little less. It seems like that’s less of a popular thing these days although it’s surprising.
John: Yeah. Well, I think they’re harder to work on nowadays.
Scott: Well, yeah, that they are. I used to love spinning wrenches on cars on the weekends. And now it’s like, I could pour a bucket of water on top of my engine. I wonder if any of it would hit the ground. All these wires, it’s like, I used to be able to pull off a carburetor and rebuild it. Now it’s like, you know.
John: Or even change your battery now. That’s nutty. But that’s so cool that you’re able to make those connections. I have to imagine that those connections with the people at camp and Boy Scouts go to another level than just another person that also works in the insurance industry or what have you.
Scott: Exactly. I find that one of my principles of networking, if you will, and I’ve tried to share some of these with others in my office who are getting to networking, but one of my principles is to go in there just to be friends with somebody, not necessarily to close a business deal or make the connection, but go in there with the opinion that you’re going to try to make friends with these people that you’re networking with, like find out what interests you share. The business part, I think, follows from that. It’s kind of hard to measure, but if you can connect with people on the level of your interests, people often overlook is the whole family thing. You might have nothing in common. I don’t follow sports anymore. I did back in the ’80s. My dad and I used to follow football. I just don’t have time anymore. So I’ll run into somebody who follows sports. I think I wouldn’t have anything in common with them, but turns out we both have families so we can relate on that level. We both have kids that are into stuff. So sometimes you can dig in into that angle. There’s just so much that you can have in common with somebody you meet at a networking event.
John: I love that concept of just go in to be friends. It’s not getting something out of it, or it’s not weird. It’s just go in and just become friends with someone. And even if you don’t have the exact same passion, you can still understand who that person is and where they’re coming from and what’s important to them. It’s like, wow, I don’t watch sports anymore. Last time was Terry Bradshaw was the quarterback or whatever, but at least you can relate to them on some level or at least understand who they are as people. I love that concept. That’s really fantastic and what a great takeaway for everyone listening. That’s perfect. I’m so encouraged to hear that you’re still taking the Mustang out there and that’s great. That’s very cool. And soon enough, you’ll be back out driving it yourself.
Scott: I’m hoping so. This new one is a little bit more ferocious than my last one. It’s the same model, but the exhaust is louder and stuff. I love keeping the neighbors guessing. It’s a lot fun.
John: Right. Well, this has been really great, Scott. And it’s only fair that I open up the opportunity for you to rapid-fire question me since I fired away right out of the gate. So if you got anything to ask me, I’m ready to go.
Scott: Okay, cheeseburger or pizza.
John: Oh, man. That’s a hard one. I’ll go pizza, really good pizza. Yeah.
Scott: Okay, good stuff. What’s your favorite car?
John: My favorite car? I would have to probably say I’m more of a Ferrari, I guess, although like a real car that I would probably actually buy and drive would probably be a BMW M series.
Scott: Oh, yeah, those are great.
John: I’ve always enjoyed those cars for whatever reason, but I’m sure that they require a stupid amount of maintenance.
Scott: I understand that about them. Okay, TV series you could binge watch all weekend?
John: That’s a really good one too. I’ll press a two. More recently that Jack Ryan on Amazon I think it was, Amazon Prime, that was a pretty good one. And then I don’t know, Breaking Bad is always my go-to as far as like — because the great thing I love about Breaking Bad is that the main character, he’s good and bad at the same time. So you have to decide, do you like him or not like him? It depends on the episode. Where a lot of shows, it’s the bad guy and here’s the good guy and whatever. That’s what I love about that is just the yo-yo of that. That’s a great question though. Really good ones, man.
Scott: I would binge watch — did you ever hear the series Chuck?
John: You know, I’ve heard of it, but I haven’t seen any of it. It’s good?
Scott: That one I could binge watch all weekend. That one my wife and I followed for all however many seasons, five seasons. That was a great spy comedy/thriller, if I will. I don’t know how to qualify it, but that was a great series.
John: I have to check that out. So thanks, Scott, for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”? It’s so great to catch up.
Scott: Oh, you’re very welcome. Thanks for having me.
John: Yeah, this was awesome. And anyone listening, you want to see some pictures of Scott out in the outdoors and maybe see his new car or connect with him on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. 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.