Eric is an Accountant & Basketball Player
Eric Pierre talks about his passion for basketball, his brief career playing with the semi-pros, how he applies his skills from basketball in the office, and why its good to have a passion outside of the office!
• Why he wears Jordan 11’s
• Starting in baseball
• Why he got into basketball
• Playing for the San Diego Guardians
• Assigning roles in the office
• Why workplace culture relies at the top
• How he humanizes himself at work
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Welcome to Episode 319 of What’s Your “And”? This is John Garrett. Each Wednesday, I interview a professional who’s 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 differentiates you when you’re at work.
I’m so excited to let everyone know that my book is published. It came out two weeks ago, and you can check out whatsyourand.com for all the details. I’m so excited that everyone really gravitated towards it. I can’t say how much it means that everyone did that and is listening to the show and changing the cultures where they work because of it. Please don’t forget to hit subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss any of the future episodes. I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week. This week is no different with my guest, Eric Pierre. He’s a CPA and owner of Pierre Accounting in Austin, Texas and San Diego, California. Now, he’s with me here today. Eric, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Eric: Oh, thank you for having me. Congratulations on your book, by the way.
John: Oh, thanks too, man. I really appreciate it. I really appreciate it. It’s been a crazy journey, but it’s just cool to have it out there. We have rapid fire questions. Get to know Eric, right out of the gate before we play some hoops. I got to know where you stand on some of this. Here we go. Favorite color.
Eric: Oh, Blue.
John: Blue, mine too. All right. Least favorite color?
Eric: Probably yellow.
John: Yellow. Okay. Yeah, that’s kind of a weird color. How about do you have a favorite Disney character?
Eric: I don’t know what’s a Disney character anymore.
John: Right. I usually go to the old school classics.
Eric: I’ll say Mickey Mouse for now, because I can’t think of anything.
John: Well, I mean, he’s clearly a Disney character, so there you go. Nailed it. Nailed it.
Eric: All these acquisitions. I don’t know who’s what anymore.
John: That’s true. Yeah, I don’t either about with my book, I got to ask, Kindle or real books.
Eric: Oh, real books.
John: Yeah, I agree. How about do you have a favorite number?
John: Seven. Mine too. Is there a reason?
Eric: God’s number of perfection and completion.
John: There you go. How about are you more suit and tie or jeans and a T-shirt?
Eric: Oh, I’m still more suit and tie.
John: Okay. Yeah. No, I like getting dressed up in a nice suit. That’s for sure, man. Would you say you’re more of an early bird or a night owl?
Eric: Oh, early bird.
John: Early Bird. Okay. All right. How about more oceans or mountains?
Eric: Give me the ocean.
John: The ocean. There you go. Oh, as an accountant, got to ask. Balance sheet or income statement?
Eric: Oh, man. That’s tough. Income statement.
John: Income statement. All right. All right. There we go. How about a favorite actor or actress?
Eric: Favorite actor, Denzel Washington. Actress. I can’t decide between Halle Berry and Rihanna.
John: Well, one’s crazy, and then the other one’s Rihanna.
Eric: Yeah, we’ll go Rihanna.
John: I’m just teasing, man. I’m totally joking. How about on your computer, more of a PC or a Mac?
Eric: Oh, Mac all day, baby.
John: Yeah. Okay. All right. You’re way cooler than me. Way cooler than me. Do you have a favorite ice cream flavor?
Eric: Yeah, rocky road.
John: Rocky Road. Okay. All right. Would you say more pens or pencils?
John: Pens, okay. No mistakes. I like that. How about puzzles, Sudoku or crossword?
Eric: Oh, crossword.
John: Crossword. There you go. Sudoku is how I do my taxes. I probably shouldn’t have told you.
Eric: Clients might be listening.
John: That’s true. Do you have a favorite adult beverage?
Eric: I love me a good Mojito particularly in Puerto Rico.
John: Okay. All right. Particularly in Puerto Rico. Nice. I love that. The last one. Favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own?
Eric: My favorite thing that I have? Wow. It probably my Jordan 11s.
John: There you go. I was going to call your bluff if you didn’t say that actually, because I saw your social media. You’re married to those things, I think. What made you want to get Jordan 11s? Does it take you back to when you were a child?
Eric: Yeah, took me back to childhood and when I was a kid, my parents will not buy Jordans for me, but my dad told me this story recently, the last dance was on earlier this year, during the pandemic when there are no live sports. I called him, and so you know, Eric, there was this one time, where I told you I was going to put in a 50 then you had to come with another 50, so you start mowing yards and once you raise the other 50, so let’s go get those Jordans, and apparently, I said, “No, thank you.”
Now today, I look at my — I have like 37 pairs of Jordans.
John: Right? That’s hilarious. Well, you’ve made up for it. That’s for sure, man. Good for you. Yeah, so that was the hard choice was which Jordans? It’s the Jordans 11s, so there you go.
Eric: Yeah, I love that patent leather, that shine, in those shoes in Orlando series, and when he put number 23 back on and temporarily put Nick Anderson in his place that night.
John: No, that’s for sure, man. That’s for sure. That dovetails perfectly into talking hoops, and yeah, so I mean, I assume you grew up playing basketball?
Eric: Yeah. So my first love was actually baseball. My mom would tell me, I was a big fan of Orel Hershiser and then Nolan Ryan.
John: Okay. So you want to be a pitcher?
Eric: Yes, I did, but I never had control. I was always tall, so the strike zone was too big for me, so I switched to basketball, but I’d love baseball. I used to read so many books on baseball. I have a Homer Hankey from the 1991 Minnesota Twins. I was born in Minneapolis. I used to watch the Cubs and Braves at WGN and CBS after school and during the summers.
John: Oh, wow. That’s awesome, man. That’s super cool. Yeah, and then you started playing hoops and just kind of never stopped for a long time.
Eric: Yeah, that’s about right. Then the secret culture became a thing, and then when I started working, I was able to afford Jordans, but I’d like playing, and when I play, I usually prefer playing with Air Max. Since I play down low a lot and for landing, for rebounding, so when I do play, I play in LeBron’s shoes. But I have played in Michael’s shoes. But I wear Michael’s shoes off the court, but I’ll wear LeBron shoes on the court.
John: There you go. I feel like you’ve done plenty of scientific tests to determine that.
Eric: I still think Michael’s better than LeBron, but well, my body is type of similar to LeBron’s. I’m not built like LeBron obviously. Our body types were similarly, particularly younger. When I wore a headband, I looked like LeBron and I actually have seen LeBron in Akron, and we’re the same height. He walked right by me. I was like, wow, he’s massively big. I knew people who played AAU out in Akron. He’s definitely a great player. People end up appreciating more. I think some of the scrutiny is a little unfair sometimes.
John: Yeah, for sure. I mean, I read something in the debate of Jordan or LeBron and, and it was all of these Hall of Fame players that did not get rings because of Michael Jordan. I mean, it just went down the list, and I was like, wow, I never even thought of that, because I mean, he just completely shut people down. He had a great team too.
Eric: Michael had the best coach as premier defender, Pippen, Harmon, Horace Grant. I think he played with more loaded teams consistent than LeBron, but when LeBron was in Miami, those were some loaded teams. It’s just crazy winning two championships to four years of failure. I just — I don’t know how you call that failure. I mean, yes. That’s the 2011 series when LeBron would not post up midget J. J. Barea was quite — I’ve seen clips of that. They get the lucky shot. In game 6, it’s the Spurs but Michael had some luck. I mean, I think I was ’98. Steve Kerr doesn’t offensive rebound. There you go down 2-0, and then you’re going to lose that series to five.
John: That’s hilarious. You called that guy a midget. He’s like 6’5” probably.
Eric: No. MJ is not — no, I think he’s barely six feet. He’s a small guy.
John: Yeah, because I remember in college, Notre Dame had just switched to the Big East. It was Allen Iverson at Georgetown, Kerry Kittles at Villanova, and Ray Allen at UConn, and John Wallace at Syracuse, and it was just like, yeah, I mean, it was crazy how good these guys were. It’s cool that later on in life, you played some semi-pro and even pro, which is cool.
Eric: Yeah, so it’s funny. Yeah, because in high school, I got cut my sophomore year.
John: That sounds like a Michael Jordan story. Here we go. Here we go.
Eric: I got cut my sophomore year. My dad told me, so you got cut because you weren’t in shape, and then I started picking up jogging, and so I actually got in great shape, and then I would play, I started beating some really good players. Then I remember my senior year, our star player Adam Hall who wound up playing at Virginia, and he plays professional right now. He was basically 6’5”. He was just as athletic as Vince Carter.
John: Holy moly, yeah.
Eric: I’m taller than him. I grew in college, but in high school, the guy could jump so high, he could jump to my shoulder with his feet. His feet would be on my shoulder. He asked me to play, and I said, no, and looking back, it was over some dumb reasons. We had three guys, 6’5” and up on that roster, if we had slid me in there, I think we could have gone all the way. We would have the best front line in that year. But yeah, I played for the San Diego Guardians briefly. I was so old, and I wasn’t quite in the shape, but it was definitely a good experience.
I got to understand, even though it’s a small level, but I do have clients that play professional basketball, and call them up and it was similar — they go through similar BS and obligations and politics. I got to learn the business of sports in the four months, and talking to guys who play in the NBA, even though it’s a small scale, they go through the same drama. I was really surprised about that.
John: Yeah, yeah. I mean, that’s the thing. I mean, to be a professional athlete, I mean, until you make the bigs, I mean, then it’s great and cushy, but at those lower levels as you’re paying your dues and working your way up, and I mean, they’re all really good players. I mean, it’s the same with baseball as well, and you’ve taken Greyhound buses, and you’re staying in like days in, and who knows what. For you, I mean, you’re probably half your feet are hanging off the bed. It’s just, it’s brutal, man, and they’re all good players. That’s the thing is we don’t appreciate the professionals that we see on TV. We’re like, oh, that guy sucks. It’s like, no, he’s actually really — there’s really a statue of him in his town.
Eric: If you look at, basketball, which is my sport, if you take the 12th guy, the 12th guy was one of the best players in his college program. His number may be retired at his university.
John: Yeah, definitely his high school.
Eric: Maybe university. That guy, I mean, like Matt Bullard, for instance, he played for Rockets, and people made fun of him. He’s this tall 6’8″ white guy, really couldn’t jump, but he could shoot. A few years ago, I saw him shooting a basketball up the sun, okay? Matt was retired. He shot 30 threes without missing.
John: There you go.
Eric: Even like the scrub pitcher, the regular person cannot hit off of him if he told you what the pitch was and where it was going to land, you’re still not going to hit it.
John: Yeah, no, exactly, exactly.
Eric: Well, fans are fanatics and doesn’t necessarily evoke intelligence for, yeah, I’ve got it. I’ve played ball against guys that have been like 11 to 12 guys, and those guys are amazing. They have a particular role in basketball, not everybody can be their primary scorer. I’ve heard stories of guys — Adam was on a podcast. He used to play against Tierre Brown, who was a journeyman in the NBA, but he was really good. I’ve gone up against Damon Jones but that guy can play basketball. If you get to the highest level, you are that good.
John: I mean, you were close, man, which is cool. Don’t sell yourself short, man. I could not do that. I think it’s awesome. I also think it’s cool that it comes up with clients that on your social media, it says it right there. You’re showing pictures of the Jordans, all that stuff. You don’t hide that and do you feel like the basketball mindset translates to work at all?
Eric: Yes, I do. Because in basketball, if you’re going to be the best you have to be willing to put in the time. Time is obviously, you know, you’re going to practice your craft, shooting. I remember growing up, I used to shoot a lot in my backyard. When I’m in playing shape, guys are surprised the 6’8” guy is stepping out, shooting threes or jumpers and the reason why is because when I was younger, in my neighborhood, we had some really good ballplayers come and play in our neighborhood court. I was 5’10”. I had guys my height blocking my shot all the time. I had to learn to shoot outside. I was never going to get on the court.
I worked on that every day, and the same thing in my CPA firm, if I’m going to do well with my clients, I have to put in the time, I have to train, constantly learn about the advanced strategies, you got to keep up with what’s going on, and then you have to have good — everything has to have good role players. My firm now we have, five people including myself, and everybody has a role and they accepted their role.
A lot of games I’ve played on, I was primarily an enforcer and a rebounder even though I could actually score but for us to win, sometimes, I had to put aside my desire of being a premier score to go defend the other team’s best post player, best swing man, even on a pick and roll switch. They put my energy there so that we can win because me scoring 30 points may take away from our team, because the offense is not going to flow the way it’s supposed to, versus if I’m willing to set a hard screen and also use my fouls on defense to slow guys down to keep them from getting to the paint.
John: I love that. I love that so much and I love that it’s five people. You shouldn’t even have titles. It should be point guard, shooting guard, power forward, small forward, center.
John: Right. No, no, no. I’m not going to ask you who’s who, but I think it would be so funny if you’re like, I’d like to introduce you to my small forward, this is — that would be awesome.
Eric: the Miami Heat PA guy, I could imagine, hey, no, small forward.
John: I’m old enough to remember the Bulls with the Bulls intro music.
Eric: I would love to use that song and have the Miami Hit go crazy. He recently found a basketball. He’s like
John: That would be awesome. That would be so great, dude. I mean, everyone would want to work at your firm.
Eric: I know. I got to get some more revenue by the PA guy. Trevor helped me finally find an embezzlement recently.
Eric: Yes. He’s our compliance specialist manager. We had a contentious situation with a client who had invested money, so I’d ask Trevor and Ben and Kirsty, I need to keep your eye on this client’s account before we roll off, because I think that’s something that he shouldn’t have done. Trevor found the fraud. It feels good
Eric: Man down, man down.
John: A little Mutombo finger wag.
Eric:] but that was a deep shot, baby.
John: Oh, yeah. All through your career, because I know you didn’t start out like with your own firm, did you talk basketball, or were you kind of reluctant to share?
Eric: I did talk basketball when I was at Deloitte. They didn’t like me talking about it.
John: Really? Okay. That’s interesting.
Eric: Well, I think it depends on the team. My first boss, Karen Boris, she’s actually my favorite boss. She actually helped defy the stereotype, because I was very young. I thought that most attractive women were there just for eye candy. She’s tall and attractive, she was married unfortunately. She was so intelligent, but she made sure I stayed on focus on work. I couldn’t really talk to her about basketball.
John: That is interesting because sometimes, it’s just starting within a small circle, or how much do you feel like it’s on the tone at the top to kind of create that culture where it’s cool to share outside of work interests?
Eric: It’s definitely going to be the tone at the top because I know, in my firm today, we talk about anything. There are times when we have to rein it in, but one of my team members recently bought a Lexus. He tried to be slick about it, but I saw him and said, “Hey, why are you trying to hide that, man?” Because I said, listen, that bodes well for me, because that tells people I pay you well enough to buy that.
John: Right, right.
Eric: You shouldn’t be shy about that. You think I’m going to judge you? Oh, I pay you too much? No, I’m glad. I want all of you — in our vision board, my goal is that everybody that works for me makes six figures in the next three to five years, because then we’re doing really well. I worked in a lot of serious environments. I’ve worked with some lax environments, but it’s definitely depending on who’s in charge and then also when it comes to basketball, I think in the last five to ten years, a lot of people, particularly how the corporate people view that because the players are a lot more expressive and individualistic and more conscious.
I think a lot of corporate executives struggle with that, because they will not want their employees to be that way, to be as outspoken.
John: Yeah, but that’s totally different than being a fan of the sport, and being outspoken isn’t always a bad thing.
Eric: I agree, but I’m just saying, I know that certain personalities that are in the corporate — they just want them to shut up and dribble, and Black Lives Matter, police brutality, these corporate folks think that they get paid more enough, what are you complaining about? The NBA’s ratings went down a lot this year. There’s something about the NBA not standing up to China.
John: Yeah, it gets political and it’s silly. It’s a sport —
Eric: Right. politics to my job? I don’t want to see it when I turn on the TV.
John: No, I hear you on that. I mean, that’s the thing like I talk about in the book is it’s up until you’re preventing someone else’s ability to do their job. That’s when it becomes unprofessional, but everything else is fair game. I mean, you want to talk about the Rockets game last week or whatever, cool, let’s talk about it. I mean, you’re getting your work done. Why does it matter? I mean, I feel like you have that mindset with your team as well, and where it’s not all these we have work to do so shut up and get the work done. Every once in a while, it’s okay to take your foot off the gas and be like, hey, we’re normal people.
Eric: You have to because training for basketball or a half marathon, you can’t go hard 100% every single day, that’s just not — you actually break your body down. I allow my team — One thing that’s great. I’m a little bit of a sensitive guy, but I allow my team members to make fun of me. Guys like Trevor and Ben in particular, Trevor used to work with me in another job, Ben’s known me for years. So they’ll make fun of me in front of the entire team. I just don’t care because then they’ve never crossed the line doing it.
John: Right, and it humanizes you. So then instead of being the CEO, you’re Eric, you’re just a guy. That’s another human being.
Eric: I’m just and I put on my pants the same way like, everybody else. Maybe I put my right first then left.
John: You put your Jordan 11s on though, that’s for sure. Not everybody gets to do that. Not everybody gets to do that. Do you have any words of encouragement to somebody listening that maybe it’s basketball, or maybe it’s something else, they have an interest outside of work, they feel like it has absolutely nothing to do with their career?
Eric: It has nothing to do with their career? I would say you should always have a hobby to help take the edge off life. I love what I do being a CPA. This year, though, I was really trying with the shutdowns and whatnot, and not being able to play and watch but having a healthy outlet is important to keep your sanity, because the work is always going to be there.
I mean, whether it’s January 1 or April 10th, we’re going to be there. It’s important to do, don’t get me wrong, but you have to have some me time. You should let people know about these passions, by the way, because when you network, and you start doing the larger deals, it’s not so much about what they can do to do the work. It’s more about fit.
There have been some people that became clients of mine because of basketball, because I like basketball, and we wear similar shoes or we both like visiting certain places. Recently, the meeting here in Houston, and there’s a guy that’s going to be a client of mine. I did not know he was Egyptian, but because I’ve been to Egypt and I’ll say I can prove to you I’ve been to Egypt. He says, I don’t know about that. I’m not here to just throw “Hey, I used to play basketball.” It comes up in conversation. You’d be surprised, when you talk about whatever you like, who you have common things with, because again, our bigger paying clients, for them, it’s fit.
John: Yeah, because so many CPAs can do the job, so many engineers, lawyers, actuaries, architects, bankers, insurance, we have the technical skills, we all have the same degree, we get the same certifications, we get the same CPE, all that stuff, plus or minus, but then that thing that’s above and beyond that, and that’s where your “And” comes in. It’s so encouraging to hear that, that you’re getting clients because you’re talking basketball, talking to shoes, talking travel, and talking other passions that have nothing to do with accounting or the work that’s going to be done.
Eric: Absolutely. Don’t waste your passion, because you might be missing out on some relationships and business transactions that could change your life.
John: Yeah, I love that, man. That’s so great, so great. This has been so much fun, Eric, but it’s only fair since I started out rapid fire questioning you, that now, it’s the Eric Pierre show, and you can now be the host and I’m in the hot seat.
Eric: All right here. Here’s my first one that I love ask everybody. Biggie or Tupac?
John: Oh, man, that is tough. I guess I’ll go Biggie. I’ll go Biggie on that. Probably.
R: I can see that. All right, we got another one. We were talking about this off the air before. Jordan or LeBron?
John: Okay. Yeah. I mean, maybe it’s because I’m old. But yeah, I got to go Jordan. I read an article recently that was debating it, and it was just talking about listed all these Hall of Fame players who never got a ring because of Jordan, and I mean, obviously, it takes a team, but man, that guy was something special. That’s for sure. I mean, even non-basketball people would watch, just because it was Jordan and the crazy things he would do at the time. I mean, the dunking from the free throw line, like get out of here. What are you talking about? Even regular people were like, that’s nuts. LeBron’s more — you have to really know basketball to really appreciate all that LeBron does.
Eric: That is true. And then the last one, okay, here’s a good one. Mustang or Camaro?
John: Oh, I’m a Mustang guy. Yeah. When I was younger, my mom had a ‘68 Mustang and I drove it when I was in high school, and yeah, so like old, old Mustang. I’m more that.
Eric: I wish I could fit in this — I think it was ‘66 GT that Ken Miles drove.
Eric: I can’t fit that one though, unfortunately.
John: We’d have to make it a convertible, and then you just sit in the backseat and drive from there, man.
Eric: Maybe I would love to drive a Mustang if you can make it long enough for me.
John: Yeah. Well, this is awesome. Eric, thank you so much for taking part of What’s Your “And”? It’s so much fun.
Eric: Thank you, John. I appreciate it. Congratulations on your book. Don’t forget to send me an autographed copy, all right? Oh, for sure, man, for sure. And everybody listening, if you want to see some pictures of Eric in action, or connect with him on social media, I’m telling you, his Twitter’s hilarious, you should go to whatsyourand.com. Everything’s there.
While you’re on the page, please click that big button do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture and buy my book. Why not? 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.
Tom is an Accountant & Griller
Tom Wheeland returns to the podcast from episode 138 to talk about his new passion in cooking and grilling! He also talks about how important it is for a leader to be open and vulnerable to make an impact within your organization!
• Got away from hiking after Grand Canyon trip
• Getting into cooking
• Why having something relatable to talk about is important
• The impact of being vulnerable
• The culture he tries to establish at BKD, LLP
• Let them know you were there
Please take 2 minutes
to do John’s anonymous survey
about Corporate Culture!
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- Read Full TranscriptOpen or Close
Welcome to Episode 316 of What’s Your “And”? Follow-Up Friday Edition. This is John Garrett, and 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 might have impacted them since we last talked.
I’m so excited to let everyone know that my book is published. That’s right. You can get it on Amazon, barnesandnoble.com, Indigo, Bookshop, a few other websites. We’ve got some really cool bonuses for launch week, like a buy-one-and-I’ll-personally-give-one-to-your-friend offer, so check out whatsyourand.com for all the details. The reviews, so far, on Amazon are blowing me away. It’s just so cool to see how much of an impact this book is having on so many of you from around the world, which is amazing to me.
Please don’t forget to 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 Follow-Up Friday is no different with my guest, Tom Wheeland. He’s the National Insurance Services Practice Leader at BKD, out of their St. Louis office, and now he’s with me here today. Tom, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Tom: Well, thanks so much, John. I appreciate it. This is really exciting for me to be on with a famous author, and looking forward to the movie version of your book and see who’s going to play John Garrett.
John: Right? Maybe Ben Affleck, I don’t know. He’s The Accountant Guy, apparently. Maybe Brad Pitt. I feel like — no, just let’s be honest. Let’s be honest. Yeah, it’s not realistic at all. No, it’s so cool to actually have you on, on launch week, because we met when I first started in accounting back in the day, so it’s cool that you can actually vouch for me as a legit, I went into an accounting office and got paid by them anyway.
Tom: Yeah, you actually were a double-entry accountant.
Tom: I can vouch for that.
John: It’s a little more on the internal audit side. I was never good at that double-entry stuff. I was like, here, you guys, figure that out. That’s awesome. I do have my rapid-fire questions I start the episodes with here. Get to know Tom on a new level. So, here we go. If you had to choose, Harry Potter or Game of Thrones. Okay, how about a favorite animal, any animal at all?
John: Koala. Nice. There you go. I haven’t gotten that one yet. That’s awesome. This one’s tricky, brownie or ice cream.
John: Brownie. Okay, okay. What’s a typical breakfast?
Tom: Oh, usually a bowl of Special K Berries, with the strawberries. Yeah.
John: Okay. I thought you were going to say brownie again. So, my book is out. You’ve already read it, but do you prefer Kindle or real books?
Tom: I like turning the page. I like having a real book in my hand. There’s the risk of paper cuts, you’ve got to watch that, but I still prefer the hard copy.
John: Very cool. Two more. How about a favorite adult beverage?
Tom: A Manhattan.
John: Oh, fancy.
John: Look at you. There you go. Last one, maybe the most important one ever. Toilet paper roll, is it over or under?
Tom: Over, definitely over. I’ve gone back and looked at the original patent, which was over. I’ve got to stick with the — respecting intellectual property.
John: There you go. That’s the best way I’ve heard it, right there. That’s fantastic. So, yeah, Episode 138, so long ago now. We talked, you had just hiked the Grand Canyon, which is impressive. Is hiking still a part of your repertoire, or has it moved on to other passions as well?
Tom: We still do hike, not as often. We did a lot of training for the Grand Canyon, and once we achieved it, I kind of packed my backpack away for a little while. My wife still does a little more of it than I do. I think there are some people at the gym that think that I died on the trip because I showed up with my wife with my backpack, and we had 20-pound kitty litter bags in our backpacks to add additional weight.
Tom: We’d do the treadmill for an hour. We’d leave. People started asking us about it. We said we were going to the Grand Canyon trip. Then about a month later, she showed back up the gym, and I never went back. I think people are thinking, maybe. I don’t know.
John: Right? I think your wife may be wanted for murder. It’s like somebody called it in. Is he missing? I think I know what happened.
Tom: She’s driving a nice car now. I don’t know what she did with those insurance proceeds.
John: Right, exactly, and a huge litter box full of all that kitty litter. That’s 40 pounds.
Tom: No cat.
John: Yeah, no cat. That’s very cool. I know you’ve been busy with other things as well that were also other passions that you’ve had a long time ago too.
Tom: Yeah. I played a lot of tennis in my life, and I still play competitively sometimes with my wife. That’s a little bit dangerous. It’s kind of like hanging wallpaper. You don’t necessarily want to play too much tennis with your spouse.
Tom: Still play a little recreational basketball but really, the passion I’ve gotten into more recently is cooking and grilling.
Tom: Anything involving food. I really started with the pandemic and being somewhat on lockdown and having a daughter who is pescatarian and trying to create new dishes that would be nutritious for her and tasty for us, so, smoking fish and barbecuing fish. It’s kind of turned into something that’s a challenge to try to find something that she can eat that we will enjoy and that’s not repetitive, day after day after day. It’s been a lot of fun. I’m not sure if I’m really good at it yet but, yeah, nobody’s gone to the hospital yet.
John: Well, then, you know what, that’s a win. That’s a huge win right there. So, pescatarian, is that anything from the sea?
Tom: Yup, vegetarian, plus any kind of seafood.
John: Okay, there you go.
Tom: My father, my sainted father who passed away, God rest his soul, when he first found out my daughter was pescatarian, he said, “Well, what’s the matter with being Catholic, Diana?” I said, “Well, pescatarian, not Presbyterian. It’s okay. She’s still going to mass on Sundays?”
John: That’s awesome, man. Did you grow up cooking at all, or was this just something that you took on as a challenge in March?
Tom: I never really cooked much. I’ve grilled a fair amount but usually just burgers and brats and stuff like that. Now, I’ve got a Kamado Joe, and I can go out there and put some fish out there for 45 minutes or an hour and give it a smoky flavor and experiment with different kind of wood chips. I use the gas grill if I need something quicker. It’s also something that you can talk to people at the office about.
I always think that whenever you can seem more approachable to the people around you, by talking about something that’s common, we all eat, a lot of us like to grill, and whenever you can drop any kind of facade or any barrier that’s separating you from a discussion with somebody who’s new to the organization, that they might look up at you as being something different than they are, when you can find something that — first of all, you open the Kamado and you say, “I’m vulnerable. I’m experimenting with cooking. I’m not really good at it. I’m getting better,” that makes you seem more real to them and encourages them to explore some of their own interests and share those interests, share the “And”, as you would say.
John: No, that’s awesome. I love that. Especially as a National Insurance Services Practice Leader, that’s certainly something that new people that come in as a 22, 23-year-old is like, holy crap. It’s almost like you don’t even have a name. Because I remember when I first started, you were a partner, and it was like, well, just go ask Tom. He’s just a guy, just right there. It wasn’t this intimidating figure. You’ve been doing it as long as I’ve known, which is awesome. It’s cool to see that you notice that anyway and that it makes a difference, which is what it’s all about, really.
Tom: I always would be intimidated by people that seemed to be so good at what they did at the office and then they would always share stories about all these great things they’re doing outside the office. They seem to be excelling at. It almost makes them seem like they’re totally unapproachable because they’re excelling in the office, they’re excelling out of the office. I think when you can share stories that make people realize you’re just like anybody else, like, hey, I’ve got a piece of fish, I don’t know what to do with it.
Tom: I’ve got a hungry family, and my wife is expecting me to cook right tonight. I have no idea what I’m doing. That just makes you just seem more human, and I think it really helps in terms of those relationships with some of the younger people in the office.
John: Yeah, and that’s an interesting point you just brought up that I hadn’t really thought of, is it’s not just sharing that hobby or passion or interest. It’s sharing something that maybe you’re not even good at, and that’s a whole another level of — especially in this day of social media where we only show our awesome sides. It’s like the opposite of Facebook where it’s, hey, I don’t know what I’m doing, and look at this fish that I just totally burnt. Hopefully they make pescatarian pizza so we can fill in the gap tonight. That’s such a huge point that you brought up, which is awesome, of that being vulnerable, sort of a thing. Do you feel like that’s something that you’ve always been like that, or has it come later with confidence?
Tom: I think it’s come later with confidence and feeling that you have an important role to encourage people to explore their interests to become more interesting people, whether you want to be well-read or just well-rounded in terms of hobbies and interests. It makes you more interesting to clients, when you’re out meeting with clients. People gravitate toward people that are interesting and have something to say and something to share. I also want people in our organization to, I’m not saying, encouraging them to make mistakes, but encouraging them to take risks, and obviously within a framework of risk management, but to try new things, whether it’s in the office, a new way of looking at something, and not to feel as if we have this veil of perfection around us that we can’t make a mistake and we can’t admit that we made a mistake. I think that’s really how people grow in that type of environment.
John: Yeah, totally. Because there are layers of review so it’s not going from somebody that’s going to push the envelope a little bit on extending themselves, to straight out to the client or the media. It’s like, no, no, we have some layers in there to catch things, but everyone’s given their best swing. They’re going to try as hard as they can. They’re not being reckless. Let’s treat our people like adults, instead of like toddlers. That’s awesome, man. That’s really awesome to hear. I love that quote you emailed me after finishing the book, of what your dad would tell you, which is awesome. I’ll let you bring that in.
Tom: Whenever he was at a basketball game or any activity that I was involved in, and even when I got into my professional career, his expression was always, let them know you were there. In other words, make an impact. Use your own style, stay within yourself, but don’t be afraid to be you. When you walk off the field or you walk off the stage or after a presentation, for people to say, “That’s Tom Wheeland. He made an impact.” Maybe he doesn’t get the work, or maybe he doesn’t win the game, but carried yourself with integrity and decency and sportsmanship. That’s really impacted me in everything I do. I try to establish at least a culture that other people can let us know that they were there and let the world know that they were there, not just hogging the spotlight for yourself but sharing that spotlight with other people.
John: No, that’s huge. That’s so huge. It’s something that not a lot of people in leadership positions do. It’s, well, I worked hard to get here, and I want all of the credit from all of your work. What is it that makes you want to be the way that you are?
Tom: I think it’s just I want to make my parents proud and my wife proud. My parents have passed, but I’m pretty sure they’re watching just about everything I do.
Tom: My mom would always joke that, “I’ll haunt you when I’m away.” In some way, she is.
John: Right. We’re talking about her on the podcast, so nailed it.
Tom: can do, yeah.
John: Right, right.
Tom: You’re brought up a certain way. When I realized all the touchstones I had in my life, and the positive impact people have had on me, and it’s really taken me, unfortunately, maybe 58 years to process it all; but I realized, I’m in a place in the world for a reason. I’ve got to take full advantage of that and try to set things up for other people to excel and to flourish, both in the office and outside the office.
John: I love that so much, man. That’s awesome and so encouraging to hear. It’s not impossible. It can very much be done, and it should be done, is where we’re at. This has been so much fun, Tom. I feel like before I wrap it up, it’s only fair that I turn the tables. This is the first episode of The Tom Wheeland Show, so I’ll allow you to rapid-fire question me. Thanks for having me on as a guest. I booked myself, thank you. Anything you’ve got for me.
Tom: Well, Episode One of the Tom Wheeland webcast, and my guest today is John Garrett, world-renowned author of What’s Your “And”? John, I just have a couple of rapid-fire questions for you. I’m not going to do the boxers or briefs because that’s just way too easy.
John: All right.
Tom: When I look at what you do and the value that you bring to organizations, sharing some of your stories and your experiences, as well as your incredible sense of humor and devilish good looks.
John: Stop now. Just stop now.
Tom: How did you pivot during this pandemic when so much of probably what you were doing was in-person live, and now you’ve had to change things up?
John: It was brutal. Yeah, it was really brutal, to be honest, and having the book coming out, just trying to stay positive, also just trying to be the best version of myself. It seemed like a lot of people turned into the extreme, terrible version. People were greedy. They were hoarding things. People were bossy and dictators. Just, don’t do this, do this, do this. I know some people, where they work, they were getting emails, three, four times a day. Make sure you hit your chargeable hours. It’s like, are you drunk? Do you even know what’s going on in the world and the stuff we’re trying to get through?
It’s doing a lot of things, virtually. It’s really hard. It’s different. It’s exhausting, but I think that it’s making that impact just in a different way because people need that now, and especially some of the funny. We need that little bit of break. Because when we’re working at home, we don’t really have a break. It’s always there. It’s always on. Some people don’t have a spare bedroom/office. It’s on the kitchen table while they’re eating, and then they can’t get away from it. Especially now, it’s come to light of how much this message matters now, where people really need those outside of work interests, just to get through the day. In Episode 300, talked with Tony Nitti about that and just mental wellness. Forget the client relationships, forget the coworker relationships, do it for yourself.
John: We’ve all been each other’s homes. Let’s not act like we haven’t. I’ve seen you at 8 am when your kids are screaming about their homework and your dog’s barking and you haven’t showered. We’re real people. Let’s carry that forward. It’s also encouraged me to go bigger with like a consulting piece to this. How do we implement this? It’s simple but not easy, so let’s implement this, kind of to go with the book. Yeah, that was a super long answer. I feel like I’m ruining your first episode right away.
Tom: Yeah. This is my show, not your show.
John: Right, exactly. You got to just interrupt me.
Tom: When you lay down at night, and you close your eyes, and you think about what you’re most thankful for; what would that be?
John: Yeah, wow. Well, that Tom Wheeland agreed to come back on the podcast, that’ll be tonight. But before today, honestly, the sacrifices that my parents have made for me to be able to be where I am. We both went to Notre Dame. I still don’t, to this day, understand how my parents financed that, and I’m a finance guy. So, the sacrifices that they made for me to be where I am and to have those opportunities and to do those kind of things, yeah, I’m super grateful for that, for sure.
Tom: That’s awesome, and Notre Dame record this year will be…
John: Oh, yeah. I could see it going 12 and 0. I could see 11 and 1. I think Clemson is really just the hard game. I mean, it’s college football, though, so who knows what will happen, especially with COVID and Ian Book goes down or whatever. I think that the rosters deep, and we’re really talented. I’m excited. We’ll see how it goes. I think they’re good, and they’re all headed in the right direction together, which is cool. We’ll see. I don’t know. What’s your take?
Tom: I’m bullish on this team. I think it’s got a — when you have such an experienced quarterback and you’ve got some nice, young running backs and Kyren Williams and…
John: St. Louis guy.
Tom: Yeah, so I’m bullish. I think it’s going to be a good season. It’s going to be fun to see how this whole thing plays out with a different schedule and then weaving in a non-conference team, and what the overall impact on college football is of recruiting and scholarships and teams that don’t play this year. How does that roll over? You get an extra year of eligibility and then all of a sudden you have 100 kids on scholarship as opposed to 85, whatever. We’ve never done this before.
John: We’d all be Alabama. It’d be weird.
John: That was just who’s listening. I’m just excited that college football’s happening. That’s one of my big passions. Notre Dame’s great, but any college football, that’s where it’s at.
John: That’s awesome, man. Well, thank you so much, Tom, for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”? It was so fun to catch up again.
Tom: Great to see you, my friend. Godspeed. Let me know if there’s anything else I can do to help further this movie version of your book.
John: Well, thanks, man. Thank you. Maybe we’ll get you to play the part. There we go.
Everybody listening, if you want to see some pictures of Tom in action or maybe connect with him 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. Don’t forget to buy the book. Launch week, buy one, I’ll give one, so, hook your friend up.
Thanks 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.
Eric is a CEO & Basketball Coach
Eric Johnson, CEO of Nintex, returns to the podcast from episode 49 to talk about his newfound passion in coaching for his kids’ basketball teams as well as being an avid basketball fan himself! He also discusses what Nintex does to set the tone of their culture and why it contributes to their success!
• Moving away from golf to coaching basketball
• How coaching and being a CEO involve leadership
• The most satisfying part of being a youth coach
• How Nintex’s high degree of personal connection contributes to their success
• What Nintex does to set the tone of their workplace culture
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- Read Full TranscriptOpen or Close
Welcome to Episode 280 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 my books’ 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 the exclusive list and you’ll be the first to know when it’s being published. Please, don’t forget to hit subscribe so you don’t miss any of the future episodes because I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week.
This Follow-up Friday is no different with my guest, Eric Johnson. He’s the CEO of Nintex in Seattle, and now, he’s with me here today. Eric, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Eric: Hey, great to be here, John. Thanks for having me back.
John: Oh, absolutely, man. Episode 49. I mean that was so long ago. I just appreciate you remembering who I am. But no, this is awesome. I’m excited to have you be a part of it again, but I’ve mixed it up where it’s rapid fire questions out of the gate now.
So here we go. First one. Harry Potter or Game of Thrones?
Eric: I’m going to go Harry Potter on that one.
John: Okay. How about a favorite TV show of all time?
Eric: I think I’m going to go with Cheers.
John: Oh, solid answer. Solid answer. How about jeans or khakis?
Eric: Oh, jeans.
John: Yeah, all right. Brownie or ice cream?
Eric: Ice cream.
John: Okay. How about more oceans or mountains?
Eric: I’m going to go with ocean on that.
John: Okay, all right. We got two more. More Kindle or real books?
Eric: Real books.
John: Yeah, totally. The last one. This one’s really important. Toilet paper roll. Over or under?
Eric: I’m going over.
John: Yeah, yeah. All right. For some people, it’s a deal breaker and I think it’s hilarious.
Yeah, but last time we chatted on Episode 49 was so much fun. We talked about golf and how much you were golfing and is that still something that you’re involved in or you got some other things going as well?
Eric: Well, I still like to golf for sure. I would say honestly, I had not played a lot anymore just for a whole variety of reasons, but the main one is that I’d say my “and” at this point is shifted more to some of the coaching of our kids. My wife and I both have a 12-year-old son and an eight-year-old-daughter, so we have a 7th grader and a 3rd grader. They’re at those great ages where they’re just really busy.
In our specific case, both of the kids play basketball. Our daughter is just starting to play. Our son’s been doing it for a few years. I ended up doing coaching with both of them. I’m the assistant coach for our son’s youth kind of travel basketball team, and then I’m the assistant coach for our daughter’s kind of Parks and Recreation team. The coaching right now is definitely putting a lot of time in there and having a great time doing it.
John: That’s awesome, man. Did you grow up playing basketball?
Eric: Yeah. I would play basketball. I would say, you know, from a fairly young age, I liked it. I was a kid that kind of grew late. I was kind of a late bloomer and ended up playing through high school pretty competitively, I went to a pretty large high school and really, enjoyed basketball. Yeah, so it’s great to be able to take some of those experiences and now, help the kids with it.
John: That’s awesome, man. Yeah, I was a late grower as well. I graduated high school at 5’10”, and then within the next two years, I grew like five inches. I would go back, and the high school basketball coach is like, where were you? I was like, I was playing soccer with all the other short kids.
Eric: That was like me. I think freshman year, I was 5’9”, 104, so I was still lightweight. I just had no strength and basketball’s a pretty physical sport. My senior year, I was 6’2”, 180, and then I grew another inch in college and gained ten pounds more than that, so the reality of it is I had a good basketball body at the very end, and I wish I could’ve had it earlier.
John: Yeah, but you know what? Peak at the end, man. If you went the other way, then it would’ve been really bad.
Eric: That’s the truth.
John: Well, that’s awesome, man. I mean coaching your kids has to be pretty rewarding as well. I mean just teaching them what you know but also having the patience to be able to teach all the other kids the same way, I guess, would be probably pretty hard for me to do.
Eric: I would say coaching kids is a lot like leadership over all. All kids are a little bit different. There’s commonalities but then there’s unique subtleties to each person, and it’s been a ton of fun to be able to, I’d say, apply both my knowledge of basketball.
At the end of my basketball career, I got to play on a pretty competitive travel team and played with some folks who went on to play professionally, and I got a lot out of that, so there’s a lot of knowledge I have around basketball, and I continued to learn more as I coached more, but then it’s also some of the things I’ve learned from being a leader in the business world, you know, some of the focus on positive thinking, how to influence people, how to make connection. Those same skills, they apply when you’re working with kids.
I think one of the things that’s super satisfying about coaching is you’re not only spending time with your own kids, but you’re having an opportunity to impact positively a bunch of other kids, and it really you know, extends your impact. It’s the same reason I love leadership at work, I love working with people, I love seeing people do great things, I love that kind of spider effect of like you help them here, then it makes a difference in their personal life then they go to some other company to make a difference. It’s that ability to put a little bit of positivity and impact on a much larger range of people. It’s super fun, and seeing that impact on kids and what it does in their life is huge, and so that’s one of the things I enjoy so much about it.
John: That’s awesome. It’s interesting to see how they overlap like that, how one hand helps the other side type of a thing.
Eric: Yeah. I mean positive leadership stuff like I’ve learned over the years, people really respond. I mean you’re trying to push kids to get better and especially as you get into the more competitive levels, but you’re trying to do it in a way that keeps their energy high and keeps them wanting to do it.
When you see a kid work on something that you’ve been trying to help them with and you see it manifest in the game successfully and you know, they get that energy and their smile and they’re just that much more into it, that is just super satisfying. That’s when you know it worked.
John: Right, yeah. If only that happened more in the corporate setting, if only that was more regular, I guess. Imagine that like somebody does good work and they’re smiling and the manager/coach high-fives them as they’re going down the hallway, I mean you know, what’s the difference? Why not? Type of a thing.
Eric: That’s actually a great point. I mean I went to some little leadership week last year with some other CEOs, and one of the things we spent some time n on was this whole notion of positive leadership, really some couple of thought leaders out at University of Michigan, you know, really powerful proof behind what they’ve tried to help leaders learn and companies do.
I mean it’s absolutely true that when people, they get that boost, the more their mind opens up, they work faster, they do more, it’s more fun. The whole thing goes better. That’s definitely something we try to do here. I mean it’s like anything, right? Not everything we do works, so you can’t have all of it. Be positive, even in those things that don’t work, you try to figure out how you’re going to make them work, and then you turn them into a positive. That’s what we’re constantly doing and that applies both in the business world and then youth activities.
John: That’s fantastic, man. That’s really fantastic. I guess since we’ve talked, have you seen people sharing more hobbies and passions and interests outside of work? Or is it still I have work to be done, probably?
Eric: Well, I’d say at Nintex, the company that I’m part of, I actually think we do a pretty good job people sharing their interest and connecting. We have a 500 plus person global workforce. I would say people, in general, are really proud of what we do. They love their fellow team members, and there’s a high degree of personal connection and I think it’s part of the reason that we’re successful and we’re able to give an experience to our customers and partners because our people feel good about what they’re doing and who they’re doing it with.
Part of that is sharing a bit about who you are. I mean who you are as a person is a composite of some things you do at work, other interests you have outside of work, who your family is, it’s all these other things. Each individual, being able to share that, being able to connect with their fellow team members, I mean we think it’s a huge part of why we’re successful because our team members like being together and they care about each other. If you care about each other, and you like to be together, you just ultimately, you do better work.
John: Totally. I couldn’t agree more. For some reason, for a lot of people, our default is the opposite of that where professionalism tells us no one cares or don’t share that, or anything but work at work is a distraction sort of a thing. We’re not talking about drama or everyone’s got a problem every day. It’s just what are your real passions? What really make you up in sharing those. That’s awesome that you guys have that there and that you’re seeing it benefit is encouraging to me, anyway.
Eric: It’s a real benefit. I mean I personally have a lot of passion around, and you’re connected with people and they know you care, then when you hit the hard spot, maybe you got to have a difficult conversation or you’re in a more challenging time, it’s a lot easier to get through that when you got that connection with each other.
I think it works better when it’s hard, and then there’s the other side of it which is just heck of a lot more enjoyable. If you’re in a better spirit, that’s just stuff we talked about earlier on being positive, that you’re in a better spirit and you’re feeling more positive, you’re more creative, and you got more energy. It’s just a fact.
John: That’s awesome. The oxytocin in your brain, it’s science. It’s not just a make-believe thing. It’s legit. I love what you said earlier of there’s a whole bunch of other things that make you up. The amount of our identity that work really is, is a small percentage, but we allow it to be such a greater percentage than that. For some people, it’s 100%. There’s so much more to people around us if we just take the time to ask and find out and it could be really powerful. It’s cool to hear that with you guys.
Is there anything you guys do specifically top encourage that or is it kind of this is just how it is here, tone of the top sort of a thing?
Eric: I’d say there’s one thing that we do that I think sets the tone for this, I’d say two. Number one, we have three core tenets that we operate on, so a lot of companies have a notion of values, we call them core tenets, but there’s three basic principles that kind of guide the how we operate. Two of them are things that would make a lot of sense from executing the first one is deliver on commitments, right? Do what you say.
The second is don’t wait which is about operating quickly like where you see a challenge, you see an opportunity, go take action. But the third one is I think it gets into think it gets into what we’ve been talking about which was yeah, this notion of operate but respecting consideration, and part of having respect of people and having consideration is understanding them. And so I think that’s a zone where in order to do that and in order to show you care about people, you got to know a little bit about them. I think that’s one thing we do that I think sets a good tone in it.
I think to be fair in all these things, a lot of it goes back to how you start a business, you know, our founders had a certain culture, very connected, a lot of people were friends and so that started really early in the business and it’s continued on and it evolved as the years have gone on, I mean we were basically started in 2006, so we’re kind of you know, getting close to 15 years.
I’d say the second thing though is the tone from the top and kind of the way we operate as leaders, the most senior people in the company. I would say that our senior team here, A, we exhibit that we enjoy each other. It’s I think pretty clear to our team members globally that the executive team is well aligned, likes each other, have a high degree of personal connection.
Then I think if you look at how each of the leaders operate, they’re the type of folks who generally care about the team, ask questions, want to understand folks, create opportunities to do things beyond work. I do think it’s a combination of some history, our core tenets, and then the tone that gets set from the top of the company.
John: That’s really great because yeah, I mean some organizations, the executive group or partner group, if you will, they all get along or they’re all you know, but then as soon as someone from a lower level walks in or sees you then everyone’s all buttoned up and whatever, and it’s cool that you bring the human side to it as well and we genuinely like each other. It’s like, why not? You’re around them for so long.
Eric: We spend a lot of time together. We love what we do. I mean I’ve got a team of people who are really passionate about the business. We have people who are passionate about the business at all levels and in every different pocket and corner of the company. That’s awesome, we’re passionate about the business, and then it’s I think really positively impacted by the fact that people have such great personal connections.
What we’ve done too is when we’ve had occasionally someone who really didn’t fit and was really negative on all that, we try to give them an opportunity to modify and try to become a more positive team member who fits what we try to do. But if they can’t, then we help them move on outside the business because we aren’t going to allow what is part of what makes this so successful, get damaged by people who want to operate a different way. We just take it really serious on how the environment is and we love having a positive place that people want to be.
John: That’s awesome, man. That’s really great because yeah, I mean the technical skills for the most part, you can find somebody that can do that, or you can train them up to do that, but the culture piece, you really can’t. That’s really important. That’s awesome, man. Really cool. Well, this has been so great, Eric, catching up. I’m so encouraged just to hear this, what’s going on at Nintex. It’s really awesome.
It’s only fair that I allow you to rapid fire question me if you’d like since I started out the episode firing away at you, so you’re the host now. Tables are turned if you have anything to ask.
Eric: Yeah, no. I guess something I’d love to ask, because we’re always looking here to do our best, what are some of the things you’re seeing from other organizations that you’ve been working with or talking with that you think we ought to consider applying here? Is there anything that you’re seeing common that you think we ought to be thinking about?
John: Well, I think — I mean it sounds like what you guys are doing is awesome, setting the tone at the top. I think it’s just maybe thinking about you know, shining a light on people’s hobbies and passions. I mean something that’s really simple.
That’ll be in the book for instance is if you have a newsletter that goes out or an internet page or whatever where once a week, here’s the What’s Your “And”? Section and it’s a different person each week or maybe a couple of people. This person loves to mountain bike or this person loves to paint, or this person loves to whatever, and showing pictures of that, and then if you can take it to the next level of and here’s how it makes me better at my job. Maybe it’s connection-wise or it’s thinking about it wise.
Another thing that’s really great too is organizations that have like you can take so many days to go volunteer or you can whatever, come back and present five minutes to the group, it doesn’t have to be an all-staff, but your department, because that’s the real important thing is people are going out and doing these things but we have to boomerang it. You got to bring it back. You have to tell us, why did you pick this charity or why did you do this? Because then emotion is brought into the workplace, and that’s what’s going to bring people closer together like what you guys are doing there.
I think we miss out on that piece of it where organizations will have to go out and do good sort of day, but what group did you go and contribute your time too and bring it back and present? Because then, all of a sudden, you find out some people’s stories and you’re like wow, that’s amazing. It’s really powerful.
Eric: It helps you see them differently. I mean I think one of the things we find, and we think about is that whole notion of empathy, and when you understand someone, you tend to be more empathetic. It helps you actually make a better connection and get to a better outcome of what you’re trying to do. I love those ideas.
I think we’ve got a couple variants to that one, the things we’ve done for a long time is we have these kinds of launch series at different locations where people can do in the know. Sometimes, they’re business related but sometimes, they’re not. We’ve had people literally do like a gardening in the know, and share some of their tips and secrets on how they built their vegetable garden, stuff like that. It’s still different and maybe it’s ten or 15 minutes, everybody brings their own lunch, and they’re going to eat lunch anyways, so it’s not taking away from the business, but it brings people together.
John: Yeah. I mean that is awesome because I mean that person that’s presenting about gardening is probably the most lit up, they’ve been in a long time. If you let people share their outside of work interests and passions, I mean you can see them, how they light up and you know, their eyes are bigger, they’re excited, and they’re really engaged, and people can feel that energy. I mean maybe someone’s not a gardener but man, that lady is so jacked up about it that I have to pay attention. You feed off of that energy.
Eric: The thing I’ve always been on the hook for, because I’ve been in on levels and working over 20 years now, and when I started, right? You’re the entry-level person. Now, I’ve got a different role. The reality of it is there is this concept, especially when you start, a long ways from the top is you have this amorphous concept of the company, the corporation.
The reality of it is the company is all of us. We make up the company. We are the company. If we all have a high degree of connection, and we have a great way of treating each other, then we’ve got a great company, then we go do great things for our customers and our partners, now, we really have something. That’s a sustainable group of people that are going to accomplish great things. That’s what we believe in. I love hearing about your work and what you’re doing, and I wish you all the best with your book. I hope it does really well.
John: Thank you so much, man. This has been so much fun, Eric. Thanks for being a part of What’s Your “And”?
Eric: Absolutely. Thanks for having me.
John: Yeah, and everybody listening, if you want to see some pictures of Eric in action or connect with him 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 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.