Emma is a Founder/Director of Strategy & Blogger
Emma Loggins talks about how she started her blog FanBolt, becoming an official blogger for TV shows, creating client relationships, and much more!
• Starting FanBolt
• Blogging for the official site of The OC
• Using FanBolt as a portfolio piece in college
• Establishing friendships with clients
• Celebrate what makes you different
• Why both an organization and the individual play a part in work culture
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Welcome to Episode 381 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.
If you like what the show is about, be sure to check out the book on Amazon, Indigo, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop, a few other websites. All the links are at whatsyourand.com. If you want me to read the book to you, look for What’s Your “And”? on Audible or wherever you get your audio books. It’s out now.
The book goes more in depth with the research behind why these outside-of-work passions are so crucial to your corporate culture. I can’t say how much it means that everyone’s reading the book and writing such great reviews on Amazon and, more importantly, changing the cultures where they work because of it.
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 week is no different with my guest, Emma Loggins. She’s the director of Strategy and founder of Excite Creative Studios in Atlanta, and the founder and editor-in-chief of Women’s Business Daily. Now she’s with me here today. Emma, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Emma: Hi. Thanks for having me. I’m excited to be here.
John: This is going to be so much fun. I’m exhausted just reading all of the things that you do, and I have a podcast, so, good for you.
Emma: Thank you.
John: That’s very impressive and really, really cool stuff that we’ll jump into. First, I have my rapid-fire questions, get to know Emma right out of the gate here. So, seat belts on, keep your hands inside the car at all times, here we go. How about a favorite color?
Emma: Emerald green.
John: Emerald green. Okay, all right. How about a least favorite color?
John: Yellow. Interesting. All right. How about a favorite Disney character?
Emma: Oh, gosh, that’s so hard. I’m going to go with my favorite Disney animated movie, Oliver from Oliver and Company.
John: Okay, all right. Nice. I haven’t heard that one before. That’s very good, very good. All right, how about a favorite actor or actress?
Emma: Favorite actor would be Viggo Mortensen. Favorite actress, oh, my goodness, that one’s really hard. We’ll go with Sandra Bullock.
John: Oh, classic. There you go. Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. Would you say more of an early bird or a night owl?
Emma: Early bird.
John: Oh, this is a tricky one, talk or text.
John: Text. The podcast is going to be really hard. We’ll get through it though. We’ll get through it. How about for puzzles, Sudoku or crossword?
John: Crossword, yeah. All right. Here we go, Star Wars or Star Trek.
Emma: Star Wars.
John: Star Wars. Yeah, me too. Me too, easily. Your computer, more of a PC or a Mac.
John: Mac. Oh, yeah, the creative side of you. There you go. I’m not even allowed in the Mac stores, I don’t think. They’re like, you wait outside. How about a favorite ice cream flavor? I’m a huge ice cream junkie.
Emma: My favorite all-time was one called Heath Bar Crunch by Ben and Jerry’s. They don’t make it anymore.
John: Oh, no.
Emma: I still talk about it daily. So good.
John: That sounds amazing.
Emma: It was.
John: Yeah, and we need to get them on that. Oh, favorite day of the week.
John: Friday. Okay. All right. How about chocolate or vanilla?
John: Chocolate. There you go. How about a favorite number?
John: 13. Is there a reason?
Emma: I’ve just always really liked it. It might be part of just the genre geek in me, like Friday the 13th or just the mystical nature that surrounds the number 13. I’ve just always been very drawn to it.
John: No, I love it. That’s awesome. How about books, audio version, Kindle or the real book?
Emma: As of lately, probably audio book.
John: Okay. All right. Yeah, because people kept asking me and I was like, wow, I didn’t know people did that so much or wanted to hear my voice. I was like, all right. It’s out now, everybody. There you go. How about a TV show you binge watch?
Emma: Oh, my gosh, I binge watched so many.
John: Right. You can do more than one if you want. You don’t have to limit it.
Emma: I’m re-binging Friends now because my husband has never seen it from beginning to end, but my favorite series I’ve ever binge watched, I’ll do two. I’ll say Lost and then Community.
John: Oh, okay. Very different but good shows.
Emma: Very different shows.
John: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah. That’s awesome. Two more. Rain or snow.
John: Rain. Okay. Last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.
Emma: Oh, my goodness, my favorite thing that I own. You know what, for keeping it short and quick, I have a baby Yoda statue. We’ll go with baby Yoda.
John: That’s awesome. I saw it in the background as we chat on the video for this. Yeah, I was like, that’s clearly in the top five.
John: That’s very cool. Very cool. So, let’s chat blogging, especially for FanBolt. How did you get started with blogging? When I was in school, I had enough writing assignments that I didn’t want to write more. You were like, you know what, I’m taking this next level. How did that all get started?
Emma: I always was a fan of writing. I would write stories constantly when I was a kid. When I got a computer and started spending time online and exploring what it meant to have a website, I had a front page For Dummies book that I remember I had that I looked through, and I had a GeoCities website. I was in seventh grade or something. It was very early days of everyone having access essentially to the internet. It was still dial-up, but it was widely available.
I just started playing around with making sites and then writing about things that I loved on those sites. That’s really how FanBolt came to be. I started that site in 2002, after I’d made a series of TV show sites where I had written about my theories or things that had happened in various episodes or what my thoughts were on them. Then those shows would get canceled or they’d come to an end. I built up this following and put so much time and effort into the site, and now the show was done. It was like, well, this sucks.
John: Right. Right.
Emma: Yeah, so I was like, you know what, let’s just start a general kind of geek movie, TV show site where I can talk about everything. When one show ends, there are still other things to talk about that would be relevant to people. Yeah, that’s how it all came to be. I started the site in March of 2002.
John: Wow, that’s incredible, 19 years. That’s impressive.
Emma: I know. It’s an adult. That’s how I look at it. I’m like, an adult.
John: Right. Yeah. I was like, graduate high school already. That’s amazing. I’m catching the theme between the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and the TV shows that you had websites for you. I feel like this is the last episode of the What’s Your “And”? podcast, everybody. This is the end of the road for — no, I’m just kidding.
That’s such a great idea of why not make it a bigger community and a bigger thing. Even myself, I think that something’s a big idea, and it’s like, no, there’s something bigger out there. Good for you for pushing through that a long time ago. You were way ahead. That’s really cool. Have there been some rewarding benefits from this or cool stories that have happened because of the community that you’ve built over time?
Emma: Yeah, absolutely, so many cool stories. When I started it in 2002, the message board community was really the beating heart of the site. I would blog about a number of different things, but there was a really robust community at the core of it. At its peak, I think we were just over about 200,000 members on the message board.
John: Oh, wow.
Emma: It was insane. There were so many cool stories over the years. I had a group of maybe about, we’ll say 13 because it’s my favorite number, of core members from the very beginning. It was definitely between 10 and 20 of them, and they were located all over the world. The ones that were located here in the US, if I went to New York, I would see a couple of them. We’d hang out and go to dinner. It was so much fun. I had two members that actually met on the site and got married.
John: Oh, wow.
Emma: Yeah. There’s a ton of cool community stories that were there. For me, I think the coolest thing still that happened, I was living, always have lived in Atlanta, Georgia and was running the site from Atlanta, Georgia, really before Atlanta became a big player in the film industry. Film and television wasn’t really a big thing here at that time. I was blogging about a show called The OC, and I got this email randomly one day from Warner Brothers saying, “We saw your site. We’d love for you to come and blog for our official site for the show.”
Emma: I was, what?
Emma: It was crazy to me because that was Hollywood reaching out to me, and it’s just not something I ever had planned for or a goal that I had. It just fell into my lap, and it was just the coolest opportunity. So, I blogged with them on the official OC fan club site for three years until that series ended, and really used that opportunity to network my butt off anyone that I could talk to, connect with.
I started getting opportunities to do interviews and set visits. All of it just growing really at the same time that social media was just starting to become a thing. It was a very interesting time to be in that world and get to travel and meet people that I’d looked up to and I’d idolized, get to interview them and share that on social media and then share that on the site. It was just so many, so many really cool experiences.
John: Yeah, because then you get to see the behind-the-scenes of what it’s really like on set and what actually happens when you’re there and what the people are actually like, not the characters that they’re playing on the show or whatever.
John: Yeah. Wow, that’s awesome. That’s really, really cool because you just started it as a fan of these shows. Now you’re on set and then they reach out to you. Good for you. That’s really awesome.
Emma: Thank you.
John: Yeah, if you didn’t throw yourself out there, then that never would have happened.
John: That’s really awesome. Do you feel like any of those blogging skills translated to your career, if you will, at all?
Emma: Absolutely. I had already done a couple of like freelance sites for just random businesses in the community by the time I had started FanBolt. I was going to school to get my — I got both my Bachelor’s and my Master’s degree in Computer Arts and Media, so it was a strong focus on web design and kind of bigger picture of multimedia in general, with audio and video thrown into it. I would always turn FanBolt in for my school projects just so I could — you know, two birds, one stone, it was —
John: Might as well.
Emma: Yeah, why not?
John: Right? Get new ideas from the professors. It’s like, oh, yeah, I never even thought about it. Okay.
Emma: Exactly. It was so much fun, and being able to try things out on FanBolt, looking back at the design evolution of the site and really seeing my design skills grow. So much of what I do now with Excite is building communities for people. Organizations will come to me or sites that want to have a community its core. FanBolt’s the number one portfolio piece that I have for that. Same thing with Women’s Business Daily. They’re both sites that thrive off of the community that’s built on them, and they’re both set up in a way with search engine optimization to rank highly for keywords that are relevant to that audience to bring people in organically. All of that is something that I’ve had the opportunity to learn, explore, test all of that with FanBolt.
John: That’s such a great point because you have this prototype, if you will, but it’s actually live and going. You can be a little more forgiving to yourself on that, but then when you have a client that’s actually paying you, then it’s like, well, yeah, I’ve got all these skills because I’ve been exercising that muscle, if you will, over here on FanBolt. That’s cool.
John: Is FanBolt something that comes up with clients or coworkers, throughout your career?
Emma: Absolutely. Most of the clients that I have, they’re clients, but they’re also friends. We spend a lot of time working and collaborating together. I love it being that type of relationship. It’s always something where, when you’re able to bond over something outside of just work, and you’re able to see each other as humans and not just service provider client, I think it really enriches the overall relationship and the kind of working culture between you and someone. I always point out that I brand myself as the geek girl. I’m very passionate about geek culture. If you have any questions about Marvel or Star Wars, I’m your girl.
John: Right. That’s awesome.
Emma: Yeah. It’s been a huge, I think, just relationship-building tool, having that site and being able to say — because everyone geeks out over something. Whether it’s Star Wars or cooking or travel or whatever it is, there’s something that every single person on this planet is a geek about. It’s this one kind of beautiful thing that can bring people together.
John: It’s so true. Yeah, it’s all under one umbrella. It’s like, well, what do you geek out on? That’s basically what What’s Your “And”? is, is what do you geek out on?
John: For different people, it’s different things, but when they talk about that thing, they just light up. Their eyes get big. The tone in their voice is different. You can’t shut them up. It’s just non — and so it’s cool to have that energy between you and a client. It’s cool to have that energy in the office. If someone works in that kind of a setting, then why not have that energy and that kind of tone to that relationship? You’re around them a lot of times, a lot of hours.
John: I love that. Yeah. Maybe this is the geek out podcast now.
Emma: There you go.
John: What do you geek out on? That’s my second book. No. One’s enough. One’s enough. I guess one thing that, just to circle back on quickly, was you said how it just creates a better relationship with your clients. I guess, just, in what way? Just for people that are out there that are like, that’s way too off the reservation for me. I only talk about work and no work. Maybe if you could describe, rather than me telling them, it’s better in your words of, how does that relationship different or benefit from knowing?
Emma: It’s hard to describe. I definitely think has made the — when a client is trying to decide what web designer they’re going to go with or what agency they want to go with, they see me in a different light. I’m able to use that to separate me from the others. I’m not this corporate buttoned up girl. I’m wearing jeans and a Marvel t-shirt, and I’m going to knock out your website and have fun doing it. I love what I do. I think showing people how passionate I get about geek culture, and technology is a huge part of that. I love building things. I love designing things. Seeing that passion in me for what I do, I think just puts me in a different context in their mind. I think that’s one of the big ways that it sets it apart.
I also like to know that too, just about my clients, because I feel like that personal connection, knowing what makes someone tick, it’s going the extra mile to get to know someone and meet someone where they are and not just, I’m here to do a job, let me get it done. Yes, I’m going to do the job, but I also want to know who you are as a person, what makes you tick, and how does that influence your business and what you do?
John: Yeah, and you could do it much better because you actually — they come to you asking for something, and you’re like, well, what if this? Because after getting to know you, this is a huge part of who you are as a person or who your business is, you’re completely leaving this off the page. What if we did that? They see it. What? That’s awesome. So, you’re able to provide better service.
Emma: Absolutely. I think every business or every service provider out there is looking for ways to set themselves apart from their competition. By celebrating what makes you different and shining a light on that, I think is a really great way to do it.
John: Totally. It’s your differentiator. Why would you not put that top of the page? It’s so funny. We want to hide the one thing that differentiates us. Let’s maybe not even put it on the resume, or let’s not even put it on the website. Let’s not even put it on the About Us page or at the very bottom in super small font. It’s, no, no. That’s the only thing that makes you different. Everyone else is doing the exact same —
John: So, that’s super cool that you lean into that, and that you encourage your clients to, as well. Because it creates that safe space where, hey, Emma just showed up in that Marvel t-shirt. I’ve got one. I’m going to wear it to the next meeting, type of thing. All of a sudden, now we get real people showing up to meetings instead of automatons.
Emma: Exactly, exactly.
John: How much do you feel like, for an organization, and maybe ones that you’ve dealt with because in your case, it’s different, but how much is it on the organization to create that culture where it’s okay for people to share their “and”? Versus, how much is it on the individual to maybe just create that little small circle or be the change that they want to see in the world type of thing?
Emma: I think it’s up to both parties. I think that a company needs to create a safe space in which employees feel comfortable doing that and expressing themselves and celebrating what makes them them, but individuals also need to feel comfortable in doing that as well and putting that out there, putting themselves out there and trying to build those relationships and celebrate what makes everyone different, but also celebrate things that we have in common.
That was really, when I first started FanBolt, obviously, as I said earlier, it was to celebrate fandom, but I also had a very quintessential high school experience where I was bullied. I didn’t have a safe space to celebrate what I loved because I was made fun of for it. So, in starting FanBolt, it was such a passion of mine to create a safe haven where people could come and celebrate the things they love or the things that they didn’t have anyone else to celebrate with.
That’s the really amazing thing about geek culture. You can be 70 or seven. You can be any nationality, any gender. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you look like. We can all be a fan of the same thing. Star Wars fans look like everyone. Right?
John: Right. Right.
Emma: Disney fans look like everyone. Every single show or movie or piece of media property has a fandom behind it. You get to see different types of people come together, forget their differences and celebrate something they love and still be different. It’s such an interesting concept to me, and I love it. That’s what I love so much about fandom is the safe space that it creates for people to celebrate who they are.
John: I love that so much. On a slightly shallower level is what I feel like the What’s Your “And”? concept is, is professionals are, maybe bullied is too strong of a word for it, but they’re gently persuaded to behave a certain way and act a certain way. If you even have a hobby or an interest outside of work, I don’t know what you do, but even if you have it, don’t talk about it, that sort of mentality. So, creating that community where it’s like, no, no, this is normal. You’re not the only one. There’s all of us out here. I love the power behind that. That’s so cool to hear, what you’ve been able to do on a much, much bigger level, which is really cool.
Emma: Thank you.
John: Yeah. No, that’s awesome. Do you have any words of encouragement to anyone listening that maybe feels like, I’ve got a hobby, or I’ve got a thing that I geek out on that no one’s going to care about, or it has nothing to do with my job?
Emma: I’d celebrate it. Celebrate what fuels you. At the end of the day, we don’t live to work. We work to live. We want to be able to celebrate the things that make us happy. It’s amazing when you can tie those things together. You truly love your work. That’s fantastic, but your hobbies are something that brings such joy to you. You shouldn’t put them on the back burner. You shouldn’t put them last. They need to be a priority to you because that’s what fuels you and motivates you to keep going and be happy. There’s enough sadness in the world already. Be happy. Do what makes you happy.
John: Right? Totally, and that energy you can then bring to work. Unfortunately, one doesn’t always pay the mortgage where the job does, but that enthusiasm and fuel, as you use the word for, is bring that fuel to work and have that joy there. I love that. That’s super awesome.
Well, before I wrap this up, it’s only fair, since I rapid-fire questioned you right out of the gate, that we turn the tables. This is the first episode of the Emma Loggins podcast. Thanks for having me on. I appreciate you booking me. Actually, I booked myself but anyway, I’m all yours.
Emma: Let’s see. Let’s start with favorite movie.
John: Favorite movie. All right, I’ve got a couple. There’s going to be Rudy because Notre Dame football. That’s what I geek out on. Dumb and Dumber is always good, no matter. You can start the movie at any point, and there’s going to be laughter. Probably Good Will Hunting is a really good one too. So, probably those three.
Emma: On that note, Ben Affleck or Matt Damon?
John: Oh, you know in that movie, I love Ben Affleck’s character so much. When he goes into the meeting with his white tube socks, and he’s negotiating this contract with — he’s just like, that’s not good enough. We’re out of here, whatever. It’s so funny to me. That movie is just, it’s so deep, and the characters in it are really rich. Robin Williams’ character, man, it just… It’s a good movie.
Emma: It is. It is. Favorite superhero.
John: Favorite superhero. Well, I don’t know. Iron Man’s always cool. I don’t know if that counts.
Emma: That counts. He’s a superhero.
John: That’s a good one. I’m also a big fan of Spider-Man who’s super — if you ran into Peter Parker on the street, there’s no way that dude’s a superhero. It’s always at night, and he’s not getting all the attention. It’s just like, I just do what I do. No one’s needs to know about it. Superman always is seen. No one sees Spider-Man. It’s just all in in the night. So, those two, I would say.
Emma: Spider-Man is a great choice, but Iron Man is just really cool. You could have so much fun playing with all the technology that he has.
John: Yeah, exactly. That’s the part of it. Spider-Man with the technology, I would be in heaven right there.
Emma: I know you said earlier that you are a Star Wars guy, not a Star Trek guy, so, favorite Star Wars character.
John: Favorite Star Wars character. When I was younger, the Ewoks were like the bomb, just the bomb. They were hilarious, but they could kick ass at the same time. That was always fun. Yeah, I don’t know. I guess I’ll go Ewoks just because it’s such a random answer.
Emma: The Ewok’s a good answer.
John: Also, I’m just really big fan of the original three. I have yet to venture off the reservation much because I haven’t heard great things, necessarily, so I don’t want to ruin it. Yeah, that’s why I’m still on the old school original.
Emma: I will say that The Mandalorian is fantastic.
John: Oh, yeah, that’s the new show. Disney Plus, right?
Emma: Yeah, yeah. It’s not just because of baby Yoda, but baby Yoda is a huge part of it.
Emma: But it’s really well-constructed. They did such a fantastic job with the story arc, and now that Disney owns it, it’s really cool to see how everything is coming together from all of their different properties, from Clone Wars, the original films, Mandalorian, all of these things, how they fit together in this giant Star Wars universe. I geek out over it. It’s really cool.
John: That’s awesome. No, that’s cool. Finally, someone’s bringing it together.
Emma: Yes. Disney owns all of us, but it’s cool to see what they’re doing.
John: Right. Exactly, exactly. Do something with this. This has been so much fun, Emma. I really appreciate you being a part of What’s Your “And”? Congrats on all your success and, yeah, I just look forward to staying in touch. Thanks for being a part of this.
Emma: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for having me.
John: Totally. Everyone, if you want to see some pictures of Emma or connect with her on social media or get the link to FanBolt.com, 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, and don’t forget to check out the book.
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.
Caleb is a Content Creator & Blog Writer
Caleb Newquist returns from episode 15 to talk about his move to being a full-time blog writer, how he deals with receiving feedback on his writing, and one fun way to help with sharing your hobbies in the office!
• Left Going Concern
• Started writing full-time for Gusto
• Sharing his writing in the office
• Having a “work husband/wife”
Please take 2 minutes
to do John’s anonymous survey
about Corporate Culture!
- Read Full TranscriptOpen or Close
Welcome to Episode 308 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 might have impacted them since we last talked.
I’m so excited to let everyone know that my book’s being published next month, and you can pre-order it now, right now on Amazon, Indigo, a bookshop, a few other websites. Check out whatsyourand.com for all the details, or sign up for my exclusive list and you’ll be the first to know when it comes out in print.
Please don’t forget to hit subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss any of the future episodes. I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week. This Follow-Up Friday is no different with my guest, Caleb Newquist. He’s editor at large for Gusto in their Denver, Colorado office and now he’s with me here today. Caleb, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Caleb: You bet, John.
John: There we go. This is going to be super fun, man. You were on Episode 15.
Caleb: Yeah, yeah. I was trying to think of what year it was. I don’t remember what year it was. I probably wasn’t married. I definitely did not have kids.
John: Right. I think it was 2016.
Caleb: Yeah, so definitely no kids and I guess I would have been married in ‘16.
John: Yes, I remember you were married, but you had no kids.
Caleb: What do we say? My wife and I, we joke, we say, we’re adequate.
John: We’re adequate parents.
Caleb: Yeah, just getting through the day.
John: There you go. Well, now you have two. In case one messes up —
Caleb: Well, we thought we were so adequate that we would try to improve upon it by having another one.
John: Right? No, I love it, man. It’s great. I do have my rapid fire questions. Things I never asked you last time, and probably should have because we’ve hung out a few times since.
Caleb: Yeah, we have. Well, I’m excited. I love a good lightning round.
John: Okay, here we go. If you had to choose, Harry Potter or Game of Thrones?
Caleb: Game of Thrones.
John: Okay. All right. Do you have a favorite animal? Any animal at all?
Caleb: Right now, I’m pretty partial to cats. I love a house cat.
John: There you go. That’s simple, man. That’s simple. How about brownie or ice cream?
Caleb: Probably ice cream?
John: Probably ice cream. All right.
Caleb: Yeah, if I choose ice cream, then I assume that I get all the flavors that I want. A brownie is a brownie like you can do some walnuts, you can do some pecans. Maybe there’s some variation on the frosting, but I feel like ice cream, you’ve got a whole world in front of you.
John: I like that. Plus, you can get brownie chunks in your ice cream.
Caleb: That’s right. You see now. Very good.
John: All right. How about a favorite adult beverage?
Caleb: Yeah, well, it’s summer. In the summertime, I’m very seasonal adult beverage drinker. So like in the summertime, I like a cold kölsch, which is a German style of beer. Yeah. Very clean, crisp. Delicious.
John: Very cool. How about do you prefer more hot or cold?
Caleb: I think I prefer things hot. Yeah.
John: Okay. Yeah. Then you can get that beer. That’s where it’s at.
Caleb: Yeah, that’s right. If I have a cold beer, I mean, a cold beer on a cold day is fine. But a cold beer on a hot day is the best.
John: There you go. Two more. How about a least favorite vegetable?
Caleb: Least favorite vegetable? Oh, gosh, that’s hard because I like vegetables. I’m like equivocating here, but too much garlic. I don’t even know if garlic is a vegetable, but too much garlic.
John: As for me, man. Okay, I’m with you on that. Actually, yeah, because it’s one of those where you can’t shower it off. It’s just there.
Caleb: Yes, exactly. It gets on your fingers gets too close. You’re just like, what happened? What did you do? Eat some fragrant pizza, I guess.
John: Yeah, there you go. The last one, this one’s probably the most important one. Toilet paper roll, over or under?
Caleb: Oh, you know, I’m not committed to either side. But if you forced my hand, I would say because we have cats, I would have to be under, and because I have a toddler. I guess with the toddler, it’s indifferent though, because she just grabs it. It doesn’t matter if it’s over or under. She just grabs and pulls and pulls and pulls and pulls. But I guess if you’ve got cats, then you have to go with the defensive posture, which would be under.
John: I love how you call it the defensive posture.
Caleb: It’s funny. Of all the quirky relationship arguments that you can have or differences that you can have, that is one that does not come up in our household.
John: That’s great.
Caleb: Yeah, my wife and I have actually talked about it like we were both kind of dumbfounded that we didn’t have strong opinions about it.
John: Yeah, as long as it’s there.
Caleb: Yeah, the toilet paper just needs to be there.
John: Arm’s length away.
Caleb: Yeah. Right, within reach.
John: Yeah, exactly. That’s awesome. Very cool, man. Well, Episode 15. I mean, God bless you for being on so long ago. I had no clue. I’m not sure if I still have a clue now, but I definitely didn’t then.
Caleb: I’m using the same microphone, John. You at least had the microphone figured out. Like you said, I want people to sound good. I want people to sound like very white or something like you want to do —
John: Just you, man. Just you.
Caleb: Well, I’m no Barry White. But yeah, you had the microphone then, you have it now.
John: No, that’s awesome. Well, much appreciated. We talked blogging and how much you were in your Big Four days on the side, and then how it turned into Going Concern, and are you still writing and active with that sort of stuff?
Caleb: Yeah, yeah. So I left Going Concern about two years ago, full-time anyway. That was 2018. That’s when I joined Gusto. The work that I did Going Concern, and I was doing some work for Gusto at that time too, with a little side gig that I had, my writing was what they were interested in, that’s what they liked. They liked my opinion, and my perspective, and my voice around accounting in the accounting world. That’s kind of how that job came about.
Since I’ve been there, I’ve done a lot of writing, but I think the thing that I like best in my current job at Gusto, and this is not an ad for Gusto, dear audience, but I’m talking about the work. I do a weekly newsletter called On the Margins. It’s very similar to newsletters I’ve done in the past, except it’s less frequent. I only do it once a week. But the layout’s the same, like I write some commentary on some accounting, relevant news, and then I throw in some links to like, either Gusto content or other stuff I’ve read during the week that I think was interesting or funny or something.
And yeah, so we fire off that newsletter every week. It’s got a subscriber list of about 100,000. It’s a great list. I get tons of great feedback, people are really generous with the positive feedback, and then there’s people that don’t want to read my stuff at all. But that’s fine too. That’s how it goes.
John: I mean, I think that that’s something that a lot of us struggle with is we have a side thing or whatever like that, which now is with Gusto, it’s turned into your actual career, which doesn’t happen for everybody, a lot of times it stays on the side, but we’re hesitant to share, because we’re scared people are going to judge it or judge us as not being dedicated to our job or whatever. Is that that’s something that you went through as well back in the day or did you just –?
Caleb: I think with Going Concern, because I went from having a very kind of small, personal blog, that was not widely read, and then I went to having something that was being read by a lot of people, you get used to criticism pretty quickly. Again, because that was my job, that’s what I was getting up doing every day, you just kind of get used to that part of your life, being on display all the time.
Any kind of, I guess, creative endeavor, is you have to get it in front of people if you really — or it’s not that you have to, it’s just like, it’s almost like you want to if you have something to say whether with words, or whether through some other art form like comedy, for example, that you would know well, of course, but you have something to say, and you want to get it in front of people, and you want to get feedback on it. In terms of stand up, you know, that feedback is instantaneous. In writing, it’s not as fast. But writing on the web, it’s pretty quick. You don’t have to wait too much longer if people really like what you have written or don’t like, they were really shy about it.
Even now with the newsletter, people respond to me almost right away. When they get it, they read it, and then they reply, and they shoot me an email. Whether they like something or whether they disagree with something, and they want to just respond and give their kind of perspective on something, people are pretty quick about it. That’s nice.
I guess for me, it’s easy to be open, I suppose about that. Because I do a little bit of creative writing outside of work and do workshops occasionally, I did a workshop back in January, February timeframe. I think it was an eight-week workshop on speculative fiction. That was a little bit more nerve-racking, because it was with strangers. It wasn’t with coworkers, but it was kind of an experience where you get used to this thing that you like doing, you get used to it being in front of other people, and the more comfortable you get with that, I think the more natural it is, like when you’re in the workplace or anyplace else, you’re just like, hey, this is something I like to do. You like talking about it and you like telling people about it.
John: That’s true. Yeah, no, that’s exactly it. It’s how you get better. I mean, if you don’t share it with anyone, and you don’t release it into the world, then you don’t know if it’s good or not, or if you want to improve, I mean, at some point, you’ve reached a point where you’re pretty good, and you can tell what’s good feedback and what’s just crap, trash feedback, trolls, but it does make you better.
Oh, that’s written into the comedy world. I mean, yeah, when I’m up there, and I say something that I think is hilarious, and then no one laughs and you’re like, well, there you go. I will tell that one again.
Caleb: That one goes in the bin. Yeah, right.
John: Exactly. The bin is overflowing. Trust me. Have you seen people sharing hobbies more now is more of a thing, or are people still kind of how it was when we talked in 2016?
Caleb: A little bit, one thing that we’ve done at Gusto that — well, it’s not something we did anymore. But when I first joined the company a little over two years ago, everybody in their signature line would have a little thing that said — and then the tagline was “With Gusto.” In your signature, it was a thing that you like to do, and then it would be tagged with, “With Gusto.”
John: I love that.
Caleb: Yeah, it was a really clever idea for the signatures. I was always curious to see what people at my company, what they did with Gusto. There were things like, oh, my boss, hers was hunts for vintage treasure. I had another colleague who, oh, love to dance the Bollywood music and scuba diving and, oh, playing ukulele, and all kinds of — people always had these neat things in there. It was always fun to see what people put in there. It was a subtle way to let people know something about you. If you thought about it, then yeah, you can always ask, and people were always happy to talk about those stuff.
John: Yeah, yeah. I mean, what a simple way to just bring a little bit of that outside of work interest passion into the office. Like you said, you were always curious to see well, what is the bottom –? Most of the time, people don’t even look at those signature lines, because they’re like, yeah, whatever. Blah, blah, blah, blah, fax number, what?
Caleb: I consider the environment every time I print something, okay?
John: Exactly. Right? But then you start to read them, because you’re like, wait a minute, what? And then there’s conversations that happen that never would have happened otherwise.
Caleb: Exactly. Yeah. No, it definitely adds just the little dash of humanity that you’re looking for.
John: Yeah, I love that, man. That’s such a great example. Such a great example. Do you have any words of encouragement to anyone listening that has an outside of work interest that they feel like, well, this has nothing to do with my job? No one’s going to care.
Caleb: I guess my only one piece of advice is that whoever you’re closest to, I think we all kind of have — my wife has a work husband, for example. He’s into boating, even I know it. She has a really close relationship with him, and she really cares a lot about him. I think we all kind of have relationships like that at our work.
That’s the place to start, just starting with one person. Even if you already have a close relationship, if you think about how well they know you, do they know about the thing that you’re really into whether it’s a hobby or something else, like do they really know about that thing? If they don’t, then great, that’s the perfect person to kind of open up to and let them know about whatever it is that you’re passionate about.
John: Right, yeah, just start small, and then that’ll give you some confidence, give you some momentum, and then before you know it, you’ve got your email signature line, and you can add “With Gusto.” Why not? Yeah.
Caleb: Even if you’re not a Gusto employee —
John: The small G.
Caleb: That’s right. Yeah, you’d have to do the small G, I suppose.
John: Such great advice. It’s been really fun catching up, Caleb. It’s great to hear yeah, what you’re up to now. I mean, how’s your job straight up?
Caleb: Yeah, no, I mean, I write — I don’t know if I write every day, but my primary directive in my job is to create content. The vast majority of which is writing. I’m very lucky because I do like it. It never gets old to me. Putting words on a page and moving them around and trying to figure out what works best. I’m really fortunate to work with people who are also writers or editors, and they help me be better. I think that’s the other thing too that people can think about is like bringing that passion into work.
I mean writing is like not everybody is lucky enough to do the thing that they talk about on this show like to do in their job, but what’s cool is if you do bring that into your job, you might end up meeting someone or encountering someone who has that same interest. It’s your opportunity to learn, it’s your opportunity to get better. I mean, I know you’ve made that point to me, just privately, but I’m sure you’ve made it on that point on your show countless times.
John: No, I appreciate hearing it from you though, because then it’s not — I’m in bubble world making this up. No, no, it’s legit. Even if you don’t have the same thing, it at least brings you closer together. You’re not necessarily hunting for vintage treasures, but it’s cool to find out like, what did you get last weekend? Ask her, you know, the flea market or where she went or whatever type of thing. And yeah, and then all of a sudden, it’s just interesting conversation. That’s awesome, man.
Well, it’s only fair that since I started out the show rapid fire questioning you, if you would like to question me, it is now the Caleb Newquist show. Episode One, everybody. I am your first guest, so thank you for having me on. I appreciate it. Here we go.
Caleb: I’m so glad to have you on the show, John.
John: Yeah, no. Much appreciated. Much appreciated, Caleb.
Caleb: I’m asking you the questions now, right?
Caleb: All right. What’s your go-to bagel order?
John: Oh, you know, I’m a cinnamon raisin toasted with butter.
Caleb: Wow, that’s a good one.
John: That’s mine, and I have found in Denver that the best bagel place, Rosenberg’s, does not do toasted. No, they don’t. The butter is like in the packet. I’m like, no. I lived in Brooklyn, where they would give you so much butter. I mean, it was like a whole tub of butter on your bagel, and it was toasted. It was hot. It was great. And yeah, so that’s what I’m talking about.
Caleb: I’m sorry. Yeah, I think at Rosenberg’s, I think they just do them hot. I think that’s probably why they don’t toast them.
John: I’m with you.
Caleb: When I was living in New York, I was in everything with butter person. You’re right. They would put so much butter on that bagel. You couldn’t even hold it because your fingers would be covered — it’s the best. Oh my god.
John: It’s so good. I had cream cheese. There’s too many kinds and like, no, just butter. I know butter.
Caleb: I’m with you on the butter for sure. Okay, cool. What’s like an opinion or like whether it’s about a book or a movie or something, what is an opinion that you have that is not widely held by others?
John: Oh, okay.
Caleb: For example, like everybody loves Game of Thrones, but he’s like, I hate Game of Thrones. That’s just an example.
John: I’m trying to think. Yeah, that’s a good one.
Caleb: It doesn’t have to be a show. It could be a book. It could be anything.
John: Well, I mean, I think that Cable Guy is a hilarious movie. It’s a great well-written, hilarious movie.
Caleb: Yeah, most people hated it, right?
John: Yeah. It’s so good and so deep and so funny that I will fight you on that. Yeah, that’s probably the one that comes to mind first. I have a lot of opinions about a lot of thing. When you do comedy, you kind of have to.
Caleb: You have to come loaded.
Caleb: True. Okay, cool. I see a Notre Dame helmet in the background there. I’ll ask you, who’s your favorite Notre Dame Football player of all time?
John: Oh, wow. That’s also a tough question. Yeah, I guess probably — well, I mean, yeah, probably Rocket Ismail. I mean, he was just so electric. He’s like a really great guy as well, and just really fun to be around. But yeah, I mean, he was just amazing on the field. I mean, the greatest thing ever was Michigan punting to him twice in the same game in two touchdown returns. It’s like, do you not watch? He was before me. But he was great.
Caleb: I remember him. I probably would have been, — is that ’88, ‘89 when he was there?
John: Yeah. Tim Brown was ‘87 when he won the Heisman, so it was after that. So yeah, early ‘90s. That team was so stacked. I mean, they had Bettis and Rick Mirer and Stonebreaker. I mean, it was crazy, the team that they had, and the pros that came out of that.
Caleb: Cool. Because you’re a comedian, when you want to go see comedy, who do you like to listen to as far as stand up is concerned?
John: Yeah. Greg Kite. Okay. No, no. Not Greg.
Caleb: I love Greg kite.
John: No, no. Greg’s great, and we’re buddies, and you’re buddies. All three of us are buddies, actually. But yeah, I just said that to make sure you listen to the end of your episode. Wow. I mean, Dave Chappelle is amazing. He’s so funny and —
Caleb: Very cerebral.
John: Yes. Cerebral and very insightful, and just prolific and churning out great content. It’s amazing. When you turn his specials on, you’re going to laugh, and it’s like, there you go, but it’s also going to be like, oh, I never thought of it that way sort of a thing, so yeah. There you go, man.
Thank you so much for having me on your show, Caleb. It was blast.
Caleb: Great having you, John. Great having you.
John: No, no. But it was fun having you be a part of What’s Your “And” ?, and also just hanging out and having you be just a part of this community. Thanks, Caleb, for taking time to do this.
Caleb: Yeah, my pleasure.
John: Absolutely, and everyone listening, if you want to see some pictures of Caleb in action, or maybe connect with them on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com, all the links will be there. While you’re on the page, please click that big button to be anonymous research survey about corporate culture.
Don’t forget my books available for pre-order, so go to What’s Your “And”? All those the buttons are there so you can pick whatever store you like most. Thanks again for subscribing to the podcast 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.