Bianca is a Community Manager & Boxer & Martial Artist
Bianca Mueller, Community Manager at Wagepoint, talks about her passion for contact sports and building communities. She also shares how this helps her career in maintaining professional relationships and staying focused as well as finding her passion after injuries and other things in life getting in the way!
• Getting into contact sports
• ACL injury
• How martial arts helps her stay focused in the office
• Talking about contact sports at work
• The culture at Wagepoint
Please take 2 minutes
to do John’s anonymous survey
about Corporate Culture!
Bianca’s Pictures From 2016 Fight
- Read Full TranscriptOpen or Close
Welcome to Episode 521 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. And to put it in another way, it’s encouraging people to find their “and”, those things above and beyond your technical skills, the things that actually differentiate you at work.
And super cool, Michael Puck was a guest on the show. He’s a dog photography. It’s his “and.” And he’s teamed up with other dog photographers to have globaldogart.com. You could check it out. Research has confirmed that pictures of dogs increase our well-being, reduced stress, foster social connections. So maybe that’s for your home, maybe it’s for your home office, maybe it’s for your office. But check out globaldogart.com. All the proceeds, 100% of the proceeds go to save 1 million dogs by 2030. So check that out, globaldogart.com.
And don’t forget to check out my book. What’s Your “And”? You can go to whatsyourand.com. All the links are there for the podcast guests as well as links for the book. And don’t forget to hit subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss any of the future episodes. I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week.
And this week is no different with my guest, Bianca Mueller. She’s the community manager for Wagepoint. You’ll see her at CPB Ignite and Wage Fest coming up. And now, she’s with me here today. Bianca, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Bianca: Thanks for having me. I’m super excited.
John: Oh, this is gonna be so much fun despite how you sounded.
Bianca: Are you ready for me? That’s what I wanna know.
John: Unleash. I’ve met you before. We’ve hung out at a conference before. Like I want the real Bianca coming out here. This is gonna be great. And I have some questions that I didn’t ask you when we did hang out and I probably should have.
Bianca: Let’s ask them for the greater public. Shall we?
John: Right. Here we go. I actually crowdsource these, so they’re what everyone wants to know. I’m kidding. They’re just my— The look on your eyes is like “Oh, no!”
Bianca: I love it. I’m transparent. Let’s go. Fire away.
John: Yeah, here we go. Star Wars or Star Trek?
Bianca: Ooh, Star Wars.
John: Okay. All right. Seemed close though. All right. How about your computer? Are you more PC or Mac?
Bianca: 100% PC. My son has problems with his iPhone and I’m lost.
John: Right? Oh, I’m the same. I’m not cool enough for any of that stuff. Oh, this is a fun one. Toilet paper roll over or under?
Bianca: Oh, like that’s my only OCD. It’s definitely has to be over. I switch it at strangers houses and in public bathrooms.
John: That’s awesome. That’s so good. And I will tell you, you are not alone because there are so many people that have been on the podcast that are the same as you. For sure. I had one person even say it’s over. And if you don’t think so, this conversation is over also.
John: That was great. How about a favorite animal? Any animal?
Bianca: Oh, Tiger. I have actually have a little story. My family, we did this big road trip down to San Diego. I live on the West Coast in Vancouver. And the only thing I purchased on that whole trip when I was about 14 was this huge poster from the San Diego Zoo of a big like snow tiger.
John: Oh, yeah!
Bianca: And my parents had to cart this in the car and not dent it.
John: Not dent it. Yeah, oh, totally.
Bianca: Yeah. That was hanging on my wall until I was at like 25. I took that with me to my first apartment and everything.
John: That’s so good. So good. How about puzzles? Sudoku, crossword, or a jigsaw puzzle?
Bianca: Ooh, Sudoku and jigsaw for sure.
John: Oh, okay. All right. So, a little bit of both.
John: A jigsaw puzzles of tigers.
Bianca: Ooh, that would be fun. I should put that on my Amazon gift list or whatever.
John: Right? There we go. How about a favorite color?
Bianca: Ooh, pink.
John: Pink. Nice. There you go. How about a least favorite color?
John: Brown. Yeah. The least of the least popular. Yeah. That’s brown. Yeah. How about more talk or text?
Bianca: Oh, it depends on the time of day and who it is actually. I’m a talker for sure. Anyone knows me knows I don’t shut up, but I will text all day long if I feel like you don’t have time to talk to me. I’ll just text you and yeah.
John: Right. ‘Cause then I’m able to still talk to you even though you’re busy like with something else. Like I’m still getting at you. So there you go. All right. All right. How about a favorite cereal as adult, as a kid, whatever? Favorite cereal.
John: Granola! Okay.
John: All right.
Bianca: I love granola.
John: There you go. That works. I anticipated something wild and crazy. And you come at me with granola. I’m like “Ah, good to know.” I learned something new here. And since you have the bookkeeping background, balance sheet or income statement?
Bianca: Ooh, balance sheet all day long. All day long. Because, you know, it’s interesting you say that because if you’re a sole proprietor, like your income statement’s the only thing you really think about.
But like in the backend, your bookkeepers got the balance sheet going. So it’s like this hidden like, I don’t know, star that needs to— It needs to add up. It’s what makes everything add up.
John: Yeah. It’s hard to hide stuff there. Yeah, that’s for sure. Very good. How about— Ooh, in Canada, this might be a fun one. Summer, winter, spring, or fall?
Bianca: I’m spring. I do really like the crisp air coming in the fall. Like fall is beautiful here. Like September. I love September in British Columbia. But I appreciate the warmer temperatures.
John: Right? We’re getting out of it. Like coming out of winter. It’s like, yeah, not going into it.
Bianca: Spring. And also, my birthday is in the spring, so it’s another reason to celebrate.
John: Done. Hello? I just moved mine from fall to spring just because of that. There we go. How about a favorite number?
John: 4? Okay. Is there a reason or just—
Bianca: No. Because everyone else picks 3. I don’t think—
John: One better than you.
Bianca: I feel like I can’t do odd numbers very well. I don’t know. There might be something there. Little neuro divergence.
John: Okay. Even number. 4 specifically. I like it. That works. That’s a fun number. How about when it comes to books? Audio version, e-Book, or real book?
Bianca: Ooh, e-Book. I’m a digital girl. I’m a digital first mindset.
John: Okay. You’re taking it all the way through. All the way through. I like it. How about a favorite actor or a favorite actress?
Bianca: Oh, I really like Charlize Theron.
John: Oh yeah!
John: Yeah. She’s in a lot of good stuff too. Yeah. Really good actress.
Bianca: She just has such a range of characters she can play. It’s pretty amazing.
John: Yeah. Definitely. Definitely. Two more. Heels or flats?
Bianca: Well, this might be a good segue into what I wanted to talk about because I used to love heels, but I can’t wear them anymore because I have bad knees.
John: Oh, okay. Which we’ll get to in the contact sports part of Bianca’s life. And the last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own?
Bianca: Oh, probably my cat or even my air fryer. I’m like slow down.
John: Oh, man.
John: Air fryer. Solid. What kind of air fryer do you have?
Bianca: A really big one. Like the biggest one I could buy.
John: Okay. There you go. I actually pulled out my stove and put it in air— No, I’m just kidding.
Bianca: You know, my biggest thing though that I appreciate the most every day is the fact that I have 6 king size pillows on my bed.
Bianca: I was like “Oh, my God, I don’t know how people sleep flat.” Flat is like not my thing.
John: That is impressive. Yeah.
Bianca: It’s like clouds.
John: That is very impressive.
Bianca: It’s like clouds.
John: Yeah. I’ll take all of those answers as favorite things. And they’re all different. Your cat, air fryer, king size pillows. Amen. All of those things. I’m a big fan. So let’s talk the contact sports and I guess maybe if they’re not looking at you peopling and just being up on everybody. If you’re not looking, you’re gonna get whacked.
Bianca: Yeah. Bianca, the boxing bookkeeper, that was what people used to call me.
John: That’s so great. Like how cool is that? I mean, how many bookkeepers have that much of an identity to where people— and the alliteration of it all? The BBB, I love it.
Bianca: Yeah. My nickname is Bee. Busy Bee to Be.
John: Right. So you’re just all over. I’m glad I didn’t ask you favorite letter ’cause it was clear it’s B, but like how did you get into, you know, I guess boxing maybe to begin with, but then contact sports all around?
Bianca: Well, it actually started with martial arts when I was much younger. I think my mom and dad were just like “This girl has too much energy for us. She needs to go somewhere else for a few hours a day.”
Bianca: That was one of those. Let’s just put it that way. So I did. I went into martial arts. And I did martial arts on and off my whole life, but really got into it seriously when I was an early teen. I can’t even remember. Maybe 13. And I got really well. And I actually got up to my brown belt. Through the years, I’d done various styles. Shotokan, Aikido, Muay Thai, Pankration. I also wrestled provincially through high school. I was one of the only girls on the wrestling team. And because of the grappling martial arts experience, I had excelled really well and sort of dominated grade 12 when I was competing. And it was so fun. And yeah.
So then, in my after high school teenage years, 18-19, I got into doing Muay Thai, and I loved it. It was like the most invigorating sport ever. Not only was I my most fittest. Like it’s very, very physically demanding, but like you push yourself mentally and physically to your limit every day. And that’s kind of how I roll. I need to be like—
John: All in.
Bianca: I sleep well at night.
John: Like totally metal.
Bianca: I don’t have a problem sleeping.
John: Right? We just run red all the time. Just like max it out. AND is that sort of like MMA?
Bianca: Yeah. So that’s like the precursor to MMA. It was like the Muay Thai, Pankration, all that stuff and yeah.
And then, you know, I was a powerhouse kicker. Like that was my thing. I was like “Look what I can do.” And I’d kick everything and I’d kick over all my friends’ heads at barbecues and bars. That was me. It was terrible. Bad idea.
John: Yeah. ‘Cause you can jump and kick. And they’re “What?!”
Bianca: It was a bad idea though because I ended up with a really bad knees. And you know, my doctor’s like “Oh, it’s arthritis. It’s arthritis. Just push through it. You’ll be fine.” But I couldn’t. It got so painful that I ended up in my 20s having to be like “No, I can’t do this anymore.” So that was kind of lame. But that’s sort of also when like life just got real for me. I was like I don’t have time for all this fun stuff. I need to get career driven. I need to get all these things, and then marriage, and then kids, and all of those— Life caught up.
Bianca: And then when I was 40, I’m like I really missed that. I missed that.
Bianca: So how can I do martial arts without kicking? ‘Cause I thought kicking my knees. I was like boxing. Boxing is totally the segue to me getting back in shape and back into my competitive spirit and nature. But yeah, it actually backfired. So then, I’m boxing. I won a couple fights. And I’m in Vegas in a fight in Vegas at the Hard Rock Hotel.
John: How great is that?
Bianca: It was like super amateur, not professional.
John: But still.
Bianca: But still.
John: Who cares?
Bianca: Full contact.
John: Like that’s great.
Bianca: I’ll send you a picture. But I blew my ACL like 30 seconds into the fight, so that sucked, but it was still an amazing experience. And I ended up having a few years of reconstructive knee surgeries, a couple of them, and had a little bit of trouble healing. But I’m now all healed and my next journey is to sort of get back into martial arts. Not competitively fighting anymore, but just actively for my mental and physical.
John: Yeah. But that’s so interesting. Or even just watching it. I mean I’m sure watching boxing, watching that. Like you can’t do it anymore maybe, but you can watch it or you can do a scaled down version of like what you’re talking about.
Bianca: I just love the intensity of hitting things. That sounds bad. This can easily be taken out of context.
John: No, no, not at all. Not at all. I mean, that’s why I go to the driving range. It’s just like “Wham!” I mean, I just grab my driver. I don’t use it. It’s just like “You know what? It’s been a day, and I just need a bucket, and I’m just gonna hit these things as hard as I can.”
John: ‘Cause if I don’t hit the golf balls, it’s gonna be someone else. It’s gonna be like a person.
Bianca: It’s super invigorating. Yeah. I love it.
John: Yeah, totally. But I think it’s really interesting how life gets in the way and then that’s the first thing that we put on the backburner, is our “and.” But then later in life, you’re like “You know what? No, no, no, I need this.”
Bianca: Is that what’s called a midlife crisis?
John: No, not at all. It’s actually like being human because the human part of us is the first thing we put on in the backburner and then your soul starts to speak up with “Hey, remember us? Like we’re human.”
Bianca: We’re gonna do things for you.
John: Yeah. Amen. And so, was there a difference when you were transitioning back into? Like did it play out into work some?
Bianca: Yeah. I mean, I was nicknamed The Jugular for a reason.
John: Okay. Okay.
Bianca: I’m just like it’s straight to the point.
John: Here we go.
Bianca: Like super focused. Eye on the end of the prize. And I put in all the work and I work full speed ahead at everything I do all the time. And it’s like I literally attribute that exact skill from my martial arts to work. Like it’s still how I function. And it’s like there’s always a result. There’s a process. And I push myself like every day to my limit. I don’t know how good that is, but that’s how I function.
John: But that’s in your DNA. That’s who you are. And you’re exercising that muscle outside of work. So then, when you need to use it at work, then you’re like “Well I got this, that’s no problem.” You know, somebody like me doesn’t have that, so yeah.
Bianca: The amount of focus that it takes to stay on task, especially like in a fight or in a martial arts scenario, and even the meditation components that come with martial arts really, really, really helps in my professional life as well for sure.
John: That’s awesome. And no one at any point in your education, or training, or anything tells you, you know, go do martial arts ’cause it will make you a better professional.
John: But it clearly does.
Bianca: Yeah. Absolutely.
John: It clearly does.
Bianca: And it allows me to conquer so many fears because, like you say, it’s a contact sport. It’s one on one. If I don’t step up to my best face every day or my best ability, then guess what’s gonna happen? Bianca’s gonna get a black eye.
John: Yeah, it’s your jugular that time. No, somebody’s gonna get a black eye like “Oh, man.” That’s brutal.
Bianca: It doesn’t mean that I’m so much harder on myself though when like things don’t go as planned. And I’m working on that. That’s the shadow work that I’m doing in my 40s for sure.
John: There you go. Okay. Okay. Fair enough. But it is something that you talk about. I mean, people knew you as Bianca, the boxing bookkeeper. I mean, now that you’re with Wagepoint as a community manager, like it’s slightly different roles or job, technical skills, obviously totally different, but the “and” is still there with you. So it is something that you do share—
John: …at work.
Bianca: It is. Absolutely. People love hearing the stories. And I think the “and” is the energy. I bring the same level of energy to everything that I do. And the intention behind what I’m doing and what I’m accomplishing, I bring that to everything that I do. And the people that are around me, whether it’s family, friends, or community, or industry, they all feel, and see, and understand that about me because it comes across very authentically or at least that is me. So I don’t try to suppress that part of me at all. And anyone you talk to in the industry is gonna be like “Yup, that’s Bianca.”
John: Well, good, because I mean, #1, they remember you. So you don’t just fall into the mix of everyone else. But two, if they didn’t know your “and”, then you would just be like super aggressive lady, but it’s like “Oh, no, no. She’s a boxer. She’s like kickboxing. No, no, that’s just who she is. That’s what she does.” Like if I didn’t know that part of you, I would have been like “Woah, she’s like super intense.” Then you find that side out of her.
Bianca: People often ask and they’re like “Do you have a whole bunch of brothers?” And I’m like “Actually, I do have two brothers, but I’m probably the most masculine one of them.” I didn’t have to stick up for myself. Like they literally had to protect themselves.
John: Right? That’s the thing. And if they say otherwise, I will give them the black eye. Here it is.
Bianca: You know, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.
John: Yeah. I love how like there wasn’t a part of you that was like “Oh, people are gonna judge me for this.” Like it’s take it or leave it type of thing. A lot of times, we have these lies that we tell ourselves ’cause our brain is way not our friend.
Bianca: Yeah. Judgment is a very real thing, and I probably should care a little bit more. But but you know, my theory is if someone can find energy or their own voice in anything that I’m saying or doing ’cause everything like I say or do is full speed ahead, if I can affect one person’s life, then that’s all that matters because it really does help. You know, my person was my mom. And a lot of people in the bookkeeping and accounting industry know Diane Mueller. She’s a spear-header just like me. And she paved a really big trail for the accounting community and bookkeeping community in Canada. And I didn’t fall far from that tree like I said. Yeah.
John: No, that’s fantastic. I mean, it’s really great. And so, how much do you feel like it matters for an organization? You know, obviously, when you’re maybe a bookkeeper or you have a smaller company, of course you know each other on accident. But when you’re part of Wagepoint or other organizations, how much is it on the organization to create that space for you to have an “and” and share it versus how much is it on the individual to just kind of create that little circle in their peers?
Bianca: You know, it’s interesting you say that because as an extroverted bookkeeper, I’ve had software companies sort of interested in my energy for a while. And when the opportunity with Wagepoint came up, it was a no brainer because of the culture that Shrad has built within the company.
Bianca: They promote everybody’s side hustles. There’s channels in there for everybody’s “ands.” It’s absolutely amazing. I wish there was more boxers, okay, ’cause Wagepoint is 100% cloud-based and always has been. So everybody works remotely. And the culture that Shrad’s built within Wagepoint and the different ways that we can all communicate and share our “ands” with each other and find our community of like-minded people within where we work is so amazing.
John: That’s so cool to hear like that they’ve cared about the human side from the beginning.
Bianca: It’s always been about the human side, and emotional intelligence plays a huge factor in that and how Shrad actually hires. So it’s pretty cool.
John: Oh, really? That’s interesting. Yeah. ‘Cause, I mean, you can’t teach that side of things as well as the technical skills are pretty easy to teach. That’s awesome. That’s so encouraging to hear, you know, that there are organizations out there that are like that ’cause it’s gotta feel good to be a part of a company that cares about the other dimensions to who Bianca is. Not just the work Bianca.
John: You know, everything.
Bianca: And all the time, the conversations boil down to us as individuals, not what we bring to the table all the time. All the conversations with Shred. We just got back from a big work retreat. One of our customers, our wagepoint customers, has a summer camp, The Hollows in Ontario. So we booked it out and like 70 or 80 staff all went there. And we slept in the little bunk beds like we’re camp kids.
John: That’s so cool.
Bianca: We did adult summer camp, and it was so amazing. Like no shop talk. It was like there was a DJ and a mentalist, an illusionist.
We had entertainment. It was so much fun. And it was getting to know everybody’s aunt and it was encouraged. It was amazing.
John: That’s so great and such a simple thing and just brings people together. And especially, when you’re fully remote like that, you have to be super, super intentional with caring about people, but then getting in person matters even if it’s once a year or twice a year, or even if it’s in small groups. There’s so many like “I didn’t know you were this height, you know. Like on Zoom, it’s like all I see is this head.”
Bianca: We actually sat down. We’re like ” Who were our biggest surprises?” We’re like “I didn’t think that person was gonna be that tall” or like “I didn’t think that person was gonna be that cool.” Like we have this awesome guy in finance and everyone thought he was gonna be a bit stiff, but he was like the funnest person there.
John: Right? Right? Which is great. It’s like bring the summer camp you to work every day.
John: Like this is great.
John: So fantastic. I love it so much. Do you have any words of encouragement to people that feel like “Hey, I like to do martial arts or box” or whatever their and is, “but it has nothing to do with my job, so no one really cares, no one’s gonna care”? Like do you have words of encouragement to anyone listening?
Bianca: Well, yeah. And I think we actually just touched base on this and it’s like just do you. Stop fearing judgment. The judgment that people like fear how they’re gonna be received or if they’re gonna be misunderstood or misinterpreted is often the bottleneck that like stops people from authentically showing up as themself. And I show up authentically every day, even if it’s a bad day or a good day. Like you’re gonna know. And I think that that is hopefully spilled out a little bit into like even the people that I deal with every day.
And I know that my management, my team, we all show up authentically every day. And everyone that hires sort of feels that vibe, and it’s like the next person that comes on board sort of starts to slowly adapt to that same way. And it’s literally breeding this internal culture of amazingness, and you just need that one person to like understand and see you for who you are and make you feel welcome. And then it’s like sky’s the limit.
John: Yeah. It’s one of those things that’s so simple, but not easy, I guess, for most people for some reason. But yeah, it’s just care. Like have a genuine interest, you know. And, well, we don’t have a charge code for getting to know each other or whatever. We don’t get paid to socialize.
Bianca: Well, employers need to provide more safe spaces for that. In a real life work environment, office environment, people often go to the water cooler and just like, you know, they hang out there for a few extra minutes and see who stops by to have a little chit chat. So it looks like they’re still working, but you know, but they need a break, a mental break. Well, we have a slack channel called the water cooler. I mean, that’s a perfect example, and anybody can put anything there any time. Well, obviously, within like HR.
John: Right. HR doesn’t get flagged.
John: We have a separate one for Bianca. Bianca has her own channel.
Bianca: Might be on the roadmap. We have a gardening channel, a wellness channel. You know, so many amazing things. A plant-based food and nutrition channel. And anyone can go in them at any time. There’s zero judgments on if one day you spend a little bit too much time in that channel chatting to people and the next thing—
Bianca: There’s no like micromanaging of time and I think that’s like super, super important as well.
John: Yeah, no, totally. It just takes the reins off of you that you can feel like, well, no, I can just be me.
Bianca: If you’re you, you’re gonna show up more creatively too.
John: Yeah. Amen. That’s so much better. So much more engaged. So much more everything. Well, this has been so much fun, Bianca. But before I get a black eye from saying something, I feel like it’s only fair that I turn the tables, make this the first episode of the Bianca Mueller Podcast.
Bianca: All right.
John: So thanks for having me on.
Bianca: All right. So you’re a speaker, you’re out there, you’re always like so engaging with public, but are you introverted or extroverted ’cause I can’t figure it out?
John: Oh, yeah. No, that’s a good question ’cause you are definitely the extrovert and I am very introverted. Very introverted. I think that’s surprising to probably everyone listening, but yeah, when I go somewhere, I’ll speak, I’ll talk to people after, but then, yeah, I don’t ever turn the TV on in my hotel room. I don’t even know if it has a TV half the time because I just need quiet. Just quiet to recharge and just all the stuff in my brain needs to be de-fragmented, I guess, like in the computer speak.
Bianca: Yeah, yeah.
John: Yeah. And just recharge that way.
Bianca: So you show up with your full energy whereas I leave talks filled with even more. It is the opposite. I think that’s how they define introverted and extroverted.
John: Right. And I leave drained because I’m giving so much of myself to each individual person in the room and I’m the opposite.
I’m giving so much that I’m just like just exhausted and drained at the end. Or even you’ll see me at any gathering, I’ll be in the corner with maybe one or two other people and then I will only talk to those two people the entire time. Like I will not talk to anyone new and especially if it’s a conference where I haven’t spoken yet, so then you don’t know what I do and then it becomes now I gotta tell you what I do and it’s let’s just talk about you and whatever your job is.
Bianca: I like it. This is all making sense now. What’s Your “And”? You wanna know about other people. You’re deflecting. I get it.
John: Yeah. What’s your “and?” Like let’s talk about that.
Bianca: No, I want to know about you. So I see. The audience can’t see, but I can see there’s some football memorabilia behind you on your shelf. What’s that about?
John: Notre Dame football helmet. Yeah, I graduated from Notre Dame and huge college football fan. That’s definitely one of my “ands”.
John: And then a football signed by Coach Holtz who wrote the foreword for my book, the Hall of Fame college football coach here in the US for Notre Dame. And yeah, so excited about that. But actually, the helmet is signed by the last coach. And so, it’s just mementos of things that bring me joy, and I think that’s important to have things that bring you joy around you so then you see them.
Bianca: Kinda like my pillows.
John: Yeah. Like king size pillows. You know what? Next time we talk, I might have 6 king size pillows stacked on my bookshelves back here. And you’ll be like “What? No, wait, what kind of pillows are those? What brand? What’s the stuffing made of?”
Bianca: The things that bring us comfort.
John: Exactly. Yeah. But I mean, at the very least, it makes me smile. Sit down. I’ve got a story for you.
Bianca: Do you put it on at parties?
John: I’ve put it on during Zoom calls, that’s for sure, before. Somebody’s like “Why don’t you just put on the—” “Okay, I’ll go put it on. I don’t care.”
Bianca: That’s awesome.
John: It’s fun.
Bianca: Very cool. Some fun facts about you.
John: Yeah, exactly. Well, thank you so much, Bianca, for being a part of What’s Your “And”? and just being awesome. So thank you for taking time to be a part of this.
Bianca: Thank you very much.
John: And everybody, if you wanna see some pictures of Bianca in action or connect with her on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. And like I said earlier, don’t forget, she’ll be at CPB Ignite as well as Wage Fest coming up very soon. And while you’re on that whatsyourand.com page, be sure and click the button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture and don’t forget to check out the book. So thanks again for subscribing on Apple Podcasts 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.
Leslie is a Swagger Coach/Speaker/Author & Boxer
Leslie Ehm talks about her two passions in life: Swagger AND boxing! She tells us how she got into boxing, where to find value in what you do, what swagger is, and how boxing applies to her swagger message!
• Getting into boxing
• Fight to End Cancer Event
• Value is not in the outcome of what you do
• What Swagger is
• The 5 Key Swagger blockers
• Never fight angry
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Welcome to Episode 373 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. 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 it and writing such great reviews on Amazon, and more importantly, 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, and this week is no different with my guest, Leslie Ehm. She’s the Swagger Coach at Combustion Training, as well as a speaker and author of the book, Swagger, available for pre-order right now, and she’s with me here today. Leslie, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Leslie: This is a whole new kind of fun podcast treat for me because I get to talk about something other than the whole Swagger thing, although I want to talk about the Swagger thing, but I get to talk about the “And”.
John: Exactly, the other side of how you made it through writing the book. I have my rapid-fire questions, get to know Leslie on a new level here, right out of the gate. I’ll start you out with an easy one, favorite color.
John: Black. Okay. All right, how about a least favorite color?
Leslie: Kind of like a poopy brown.
John: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah, that’s gross. Yeah, yeah. I get that one a lot, that brown that’s almost purple, where it’s like, well, how’s that possible? That’s weird. I’m glad you didn’t say yellow or pink since the cover of your book is yellow and pink. That’s awesome. How about cats or dogs?
Leslie: Oh, dogs.
John: Dogs. Yeah, yeah, me too. Absolutely. Do you have a favorite actor or actress?
Leslie: Oh, boy, I don’t know. To look at, for my eye, I’d have to say someone like Paul Rudd or Robert Downey, Jr. I think that you get my type from that.
Leslie: Oh, Tom Hanks. Tom Hanks, too. My husband looks like a combination of Paul Rudd and Tom Hanks.
John: Nailed it. That’s awesome. Good for him. Good for him and you. Would you say you’re more of an early bird or a night owl?
Leslie: I used to be a night owl. Now, I’m too old and tired, so I’m an obscenely early bird these days in COVID times. Now, it’s 4:46.
John: Oh, my goodness.
Leslie: Oh, yeah, it’s brutal. It’s horrible. Yeah, don’t do it, totally.
John: Wow. Okay. How about more talk or text?
Leslie: I’m a talker, but I have to say that, again, in these days of limited energy, I text a lot.
John: No, it’s just faster and get to the point. Although if there’s three back-and-forths, then I’m calling you because I’m like, I don’t know why we’re doing this right now.
Leslie: Your thumbs get tired. I have thumb fatigue. I really do. I have little tiny fingers, so I’m really good with the texting, but I do — I have experienced thumb fatigue.
John: That’s funny. How about puzzles, Sudoku or crossword?
Leslie: Oh, crossword. Sudoku, no. You could give me a Sudoku and say, “You have six hours to finish it,” and I will be crying after an hour. Then you’ll have to pull me out from under the desk in order to complete it. It’s not happening.
John: That’s hilarious.
Leslie: But I’ll kick your butt in a crossword. Don’t Scrabble me.
John: Don’t Scrabble you. No, no.
Leslie: Tone down.
John: Totally. All right, how about Star Wars or Star Trek?
Leslie: Star Wars.
John: Okay. Yeah, me too.
Leslie: I have to say. Yeah. It’s more epic.
John: Yeah. Oh, totally. Your computer, more of a PC or a Mac?
Leslie: Mac, Mac, Mac, Mac, forever.
Leslie: Yeah. As soon as Macs were available, I owned a Mac. I’m old school Mac.
John: Yeah, like the 2e or whatever it was, with the little floppy disk.
Leslie: No, I bought the one with the handle. Remember?
Leslie: The one with the handle, and it had the color surround on it. I was the coolest person on the planet with my so-called portable Mac.
Leslie: Only seven pounds but it had a handle. That was portable, and it had the friendly Mac face on it.
John: Exactly. No, I remember that. Absolutely. That’s awesome. How about a favorite ice cream flavor? I love ice cream.
Leslie: I would like, please, to have two scoops. Can I please have a scoop of the pistachio but real legit, not the bright green crapola that you — the fakie one.
John: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Leslie: Then I would like a double chocolate mocha fudge with chunks of chocolate fudgy chunkiness, but not marshmallows. Do not besmirch my ice cream with a marshmallow. It is not acceptable.
John: Don’t rocky road me.
Leslie: No, don’t rocky road me. Just keep me mainstream. I want a mainline chocolate.
John: There you go. I like it. I like it. Here’s a good one, summer, spring, fall or winter.
Leslie: I’m Canadian. It’s got to be fall.
John: Yeah, I was going to say.
Leslie: You don’t get your Canada badge without loving fall. I hate the winter, hate, hate the fashion. I do not believe anyone should be outside. I do not want the extremities should ever experience the tingling of frostbite. I think it’s unacceptable. I’d also don’t like to have a full body sweat, butt crack sweat with —
John: Oh, yeah, yeah. Right, in summer, yeah.
Leslie: — running down and pooling in your butt crack, unacceptable as well.
John: It is in there.
Leslie: Yeah. I like the cool breeze of fall. I like the crunching of the leaves. I like the beam with the colors, yeah, all day long.
John: Yeah, I’m a fall as well on that one, for sure. How about chocolate or vanilla?
Leslie: Chocolate. Who wants vanilla?
John: You just have vanilla so you can put chocolate on it and then make a chocolate…
Leslie: The vanilla exists so you can talk about how you are so not vanilla.
John: Oh, yeah.
Leslie: It’s like a baseline of mediocrity. Prepare ourselves to why nobody or anything, no human, no flavor, no experience, no anything should ever be vanilla. It is the definition. It’s the flavor of mediocrity.
John: That’s awesome. Here’s a good one, favorite adult beverage.
Leslie: Well, I’ve given up the booze. I would have said the bourbon or the red wine. Now, I found this alcohol-free beer. That is the best thing on the planet because I never drank beer before even when I was drinking because it’s like eating a sandwich. It had 60 billion calories, 957 carbs, and you just wanted to burp up all day long. I found this incredible — ooh, plug for this great alcohol-free beer called Partake. It tastes like drinking a Corona or that kind of refreshing beer, but it has 15 freaking calories and 2 carbs.
John: Oh, wow.
Leslie: Yeah, and it comes in a whole bunch of different — like a stout and a pale and a thing and whatever. I like the blonde. Yeah, if you, like me, have said COVID has put you off alcohol forever, you too can experience the fun and frivolity of drinking a fake beer or an AF beer as it’s known.
John: Oh, alcohol-free, AF beer.
Leslie: That’s my adult beverage now.
John: Awesome. No, I love it. How about a favorite number?
John: Is there a reason?
Leslie: I don’t really remember. Since I was a little kid, it was my favorite number, and it just stayed with me.
John: Yeah, why not? No, no, it’s a unique one. I was like, wow. All right, how about when it comes to books, audio, Kindle or real book?
Leslie: Okay, real book, for sure, for sure, for sure. Although, we bought a cottage, which means there’s a two-hour schlep in the traffic, and whenever I’m by myself, I listen to audio books. I profoundly love them. It’s like being a little kid and having someone read stories to you, so I’m a big, big, big fan of audio books. Interestingly, I choose my audio books by the reader. When I find a reader that I love, like a voice talent, I will then research what other books has this person read, and I’ll give them a go.
John: That’s interesting.
Leslie: So fantastic, the audio books, it’s amazing. Someone who could do five characters convincingly just blows my mind.
John: Yeah, when I recorded mine, it was hilarious because they had this voice coach Skype in, and I have 41 quotes from people from the podcast. These aren’t fictional characters, though. These are people I know. He’s like, oh, just do a British accent or just do — no. I know you. You’re going to come find me and punch me in the face because that’s terrible. So, yeah, we decided on a happy medium of just a different John Garrett voice because I was like, I can’t do that. The fictional books and the voices that people can do is amazing, and to flip back and forth.
Leslie: If you want to have a good time, if you’ve never listened to the Harry Potter books on audio, that is just a thing to do. Because, I think it’s Alan, oh, God, what’s his last name? That’s so bad that I can’t remember. He’s British, and he’s amazing, Alan someone, bad me. His mastery of those characters, because there’s so many characters, and every single one has a distinctive voice. It’s exceptional. It’s exceptional.
John: That is amazing. All right, we’ve got two more, two more here. How about pens or pencils?
Leslie: I do like a good pencil, but it has to be a firm 2B, proper, good pencil. I don’t like the little skinny minis. I don’t like the ones that are light. I like the ones that are almost pen-like. With pen, it’s got to be a rock solid ballpoint. I don’t like those little skinny mini markers. I don’t like those newfangled inky ones. I like so much so that I will buy those good ballpoints in bulk.
Leslie: Yeah, I buy them in bulk. So, there’s the thing about my writing utensils.
John: That’s awesome. No, no, I knew you’d have a favorite. That’s for sure. The last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.
Leslie: Wow. I don’t know if you could say have or own about your children, but I like them, and my husband too. I think the people that I have are my favorite things because everything else doesn’t matter. If I think about, God forbid, there was a fire in my house, what would I grab?
John: Your husband.
Leslie: I would grab my people and my dog. Everything else can just burn up, and I could survive. So, I would have to say my people. I couldn’t survive without my people.
John: Yeah. No, no, that’s such a great answer. It’s such a great answer. Let’s talk boxing. This is awesome. First boxer on What’s Your “And”? I’m excited about this, and just to learn about it as well. How did you get started in boxing?
Leslie: Well, I’ve always been a fan of boxing. I’d always wondered what it would be like to box. Because I’m pretty fearless, so I was never worried about, people say, oh, I could never box because you get punched in the face and all the rest of it. That part of it didn’t scare me. I’ve also never been a big, sporty sporty girl. It’s just never been my jam. I mean, I rode horses when I was a kid, and I never was truly in my body. I never felt the strength of my body, and I’ve always been strong. So, I had a friend who had started boxing. I thought, you know what, I think I should try and do this. I was 48 at the time.
John: Oh, wow.
Leslie: I should try this. I call this local boxing gym, and I got really lucky because it just happened to be female-owned, it happened to be very close to my house, and it happened to have the best people on the planet. I went along and did an introductory lesson with a coach named Virgil, who I fell profoundly in love with after the first session.
After one boxing lesson, I went home, and that night, I dreamed about it. I dreamed about it again, and I dreamed about it again. I thought, oh, my God, I think I might be a boxer. That was the beginning of a deep profound love that superseded many, many, many things for years to come. That was the beginning of it. There are crazy stories. I have crazy stories to tell you about where that led and how that impacted me, but that was the beginning of it.
John: Yeah. No, that’s awesome. Is it mostly training or… You’ve gotten in the ring and punched some people.
John: It’s not just the training side of it.
Leslie: I don’t want to put anybody off boxing who’s listening, especially women who say, oh my God, I would never want anyone to punch me in the face. You can learn how to box and enjoy the sport 100% without ever getting into the ring or without ever sparring for real. You can fake spar. You can get top sparring.
In boxing, it’s not about how hard you hit someone or how hard they hit you. It’s about whether they can connect with you. Because it’s not about — I mean, yeah, when you’re in the ring and you’re trying to win, you wear somebody down by the impact of your punches, but the points are not scored for how hard you hit somebody. Just the fact that you were able to connect with him, that’s how it works.
Yes, on the higher levels and all the rest of it, you do want to throw snappy punches and wear the other person down because it takes energy to absorb a punch, right. It breaks people’s defenses down, and they try and cover themselves up. It’s a strategic tool, but you don’t have to do that.
I didn’t spar for at least a year and a half, when I was learning, if not, maybe even longer. I learned the technique of boxing, and I fell in love with the strategic aspect of it, the mind-body aspect. It is very philosophical. If you are trained by a great trainer, you get so much more of a deeper understanding of what this is about. It’s really like playing chess with your body.
John: Oh, wow. Yeah.
Leslie: That’s how I see it. It’s every move has a countermove. Everywhere you place your hands or your feet have a reason and a rationale. Everything is there to outsmart your opponent and to anticipate what’s going to happen next. One of the things that — I’m not going to blow it now because you’re going to ask me about things that I learned, which I’ll go into that, but it really taught me so much about the nature of strategy that applies to so much more in life.
When I had been boxing for a year and a half or whatever, my gym actually, they’re the founder of an event called Fight To End Cancer. Every year, they put together a fight team of 10 people who fight each other, so, five opponents, five opponents. You train as an Olympic-style boxer for six months, culminating in fighting at a black tie event with 900 people present.
During that time, you not only train, but you raise money to support Princess Margaret Cancer Hospital, which is one of the premier cancer hospitals in the world. So, after boxing for a year and a half, I thought, why not me? I want this. I put my hand up, and I made the team. I made the fight team. So, I had this experience which was absolutely life-changing.
John: 900 people, that is a lot of people. That’s crazy, and I love how you said it. There’s the philosophy of it as well, and the training. You have to be in mind and body shape, really. People that think they’re in shape, it’s like, well, go train for boxing for, I don’t know, three times and get back to me.
Leslie: Oh, yeah. That was something that I also loved was understanding just what my body was capable of. I never thought that I would be able to develop the kind of strength and stamina required because you don’t just train to box. You have to do a lot of physical training besides that.
When I was training for the fight, I was in the gym, probably three or four hours a day, on top of working, on top of being a parent, on top of running my company and my family and all the rest of it. It’s like when you ask a busy person to do something, and somehow they find a three, four-hour window. You become completely obsessed. I was doing 15, 16 three-minute-rounds on the bag. That was part of my —
John: Oh, my gosh.
Leslie: Yeah, it’s hardcore. It’s hardcore.
John: I don’t know if I could just hold my hands up for three minutes, let alone go punch something for three minutes.
Leslie: Well, it’s not boxing training until you’ve barfed in the railing at least once, and you keep going. That’s how it is.
John: I feel like that should apply to all corporate jobs. It’s not taxes unless you’ve barfed in the office.
Leslie: You go over to the garbage can. You have give a quick heave, and you go back.
John: Right, right. Get back in there. Get back in there.
Leslie: Get back in the ring. You can do it.
John: You have your coach in the corner that squirts water in your mouth. Get back in there. All right.
Leslie: I can remember so vividly when I started training, just regular boxing. I was doing these drills, and I was throwing — my coach, Virge, would say, okay, 10 one-twos. Okay, now 20. Now 30. Now 40. Now 50. Psychologically, you’re saying, okay, all right, I’m going to be able to do 50. It’s going to be great. Then you throw your 50 one-twos after you’ve thrown your 10, 20, 30, 40.
John: Right, and that adds up.
Leslie: I did it. Then you go into 60. Then you start to have a little flutter in your chest to panic. Then it’s 70. Then it’s 80. You go, I know where this is going. I know where this is going. Your brain is saying, I can’t do it, I can’t do it. Now, you can’t say to Virge, “I can’t do it.” so you just keep doing it. Then you get to 100, and you go, “I did it.” Then he goes, back down to one now, and you go from 100 to one.
It’s unfathomable that you’ve left your body. You’re separate from the rest of you. The whole time, as you’re counting down, you’re thinking, oh, my God, I’m doing this. Oh, my God, I’m doing it. Oh, my God. That was the theme of my entire boxing career, was, oh, my God, I’m doing this. I’m doing this. When you take your first good, solid punch in the face and you go, that wasn’t so bad. I’m doing this. I’m doing this.
John: No, I love it. I feel like that’s the whole message of Swagger is I’m doing this. It’s going out on a limb and being like, I’m still alive. I’m still supported, and I’m upright. We’re still doing this, which I think is great.
Leslie: Fighters need the ability to manifest who you really are and hold onto it in the face of all of that psychological crap that’s going to come forward, regardless of situation or environment. Anything that requires courage or that requires strength and that you will not allow to be diminished or weakened by your external environment, that’s what Swagger is. Part of what I had to deal with in that journey, especially that journey to getting into the ring on that night, required me to have such clarity of truth, intention and self-belief. I had to be all in, and I had to be unchanged by my environment. Because, believe me, it’s pretty freaking intimidating to get into the ring in front of people cheering, and you’re putting so much pressure on yourself.
I’m someone who has been on stage. I’ve been on camera. I was a TV host for years. I am not daunted by a crowd, but I have never been so jacked and so focused and so in my body and out of my body at the same time. It was a pretty surreal experience. It really was.
John: That’s awesome. Yeah, because it’s for a good cause, but it’s all the training and all the work that you’ve put into it. I feel like that also allows you to just stand firmly. I’ve done the work. I would imagine it’s hard to get in that ring, you would have a different feeling if that was just out of nowhere, with no training. Hey, just jump in there and do it for charity.
Leslie: That would be foolish, very, very foolish to do. Nobody should — that’s not boxing. That’s called flailing. That’s what you do after you’ve had too many bourbons, and you regret it immediately. You should never go into the ring unless you know what you’re doing, but I tell you, I had a huge — when I was in that moment, standing there, I am — for the record, I’m a highly competitive person. I like to win, win, win, win, win. Winning is good. Not winning, not so good. Although I don’t care if I don’t win, but I want to win. Right?
Leslie: When I was standing in that ring, I wanted to win so badly. It had been my manifestation, my focus. I’m going to win. I’m going to do it. I’m going to do it. I will conquer. I will do this. Defeat is not an option, all of those things. When the pomp and circumstance and the music is playing, mama said knock you out. I’m doing the long walk to the ring. My coach is swinging the towel, and the other coach is rubbing my shoulders. I’m wearing my robe and, and it’s got like a fire dragon on the back of it. It was like a whole thing.
I went into the ring. I’m waiting for my opponent to come and do her walk on and step up. I’m standing in the ring, and people are cheering. My family and friends are there, and there’s people. I was like, oh, my God, this is so amazing. I want to win. I want to win. Holy crap, I’m already in it. I’m already doing it. It doesn’t matter because I have, now, standing here, I have accomplished everything that I set out to do. Whether I win or lose, nothing can be taken from me.
If I make it about winning or losing, then I could potentially give up part of this experience, to a sense of loss, and I’m not going to do that. It’s not happening on my watch. I want all of this experience. So, I didn’t care whether I won or lost. I was so present and still filled with joy. It was the most beautiful thing. As soon as it was over — I didn’t win, by the way. For the record, I just want to state, because I am competitive, she was five inches taller than me and had an almost five-inch reach on me.
John: Oh, wow.
Leslie: Those shorter boxers can still win, not with my level of experience, but, yes, they can, in the real world and stuff. Thank God that I didn’t give anything up to that. Because as soon as it was over and they raised her arm instead of mine, we turned our arms around each other, and we cried. It was so amazing. As soon as it was done, I said to Virge, “I want to do it again. I want to do it again.” My husband said, “No. No. Go box, go do your thing. I support you, 100%, but we are not going through that again. You are not —
John: It’s a six-month thing. It’s not just — yeah, and that’s such a great thing is I think a lot of people don’t realize that they’re in it before they think they’re in it.
Leslie: Yeah, they think the outcome is the thing. The outcome is not — this is not a rehearsal. It’s not the outcome. It’s about being fully freaking present for every step of that journey and not getting distracted by what you think will the outcome be or won’t be the outcome. Because then you’re not able to build the experience into your psyche, into your psychology, into your body. You only have the benefit of retrospect, of hindsight, and you can’t fill in those gaps. You can’t say, “Well, now that it’s over, let me go and sift back through all of this stuff to figure out what was valuable.”
You’ve got to figure out what’s valuable when you’re in it. You’ve got to be able to be in it because that gives you the ability to shift and to change and to pivot and all those things, to make better decisions, to have humility, to have insight, all of those things. You don’t want to do that only in hindsight or retrospect. It’s a waste of so much of your time and energy because it may be too late then. It could be too late.
John: No, that’s exactly it, and that’s what Swagger is, for everybody listening. Are there any tips or tricks or just mindset of just how to bring that swagger to the office or to your life? Because it’s not just at work, it’s swagger all the time.
Leslie: I think our swagger gets the most diminished when we’re at work because there are so many things, so many blockers as I refer to them, that will separate you from the rest of the world. In the book, I talk about the five key swagger blockers. I’m going to give you in two seconds. They are persona, ambition, insecurity, fear and pain. Who we really are, has to navigate and negotiate through those blockers in order to be seen and heard and respected and admired and appreciated by the world.
Each one of those layers, it’s going to take its piece. It’s like running a freaking American Ninja gauntlet. Swim through pain and fly over fear and get a punch of insecurity and navigate through ambition and climb under persona. Each one of those things is going to have to take its toll, and it’s very hard to keep who you are in tact. If you can’t figure out how to navigate and negotiate those blockers, then you will never be fully realized.
So much of who you are, gets left in the ditch kind of thing, your swagger blockers. You have less power. You have less power to create change. You have less power to influence, to innovate, to lead, to be meaningful in this life, to be fully present in this life and to have your truth be heard. Because that’s all any of us want in this life. That’s the secret dream of every human being on the planet is to be fully realized and to say, who I am at my authentic core is good enough. I do not have to pretend to be anything or anyone other than I am, in order to be accepted and appreciated and to make a meaningful impact in this world. That’s all we all want is to be seen and heard for who we are.
John: Yeah, that’s exactly right. I love that so much. You’re right. When we go into work, it’s a shell of ourselves.
John: Oftentimes. Maybe at first, it isn’t, but then it just gets beat out of us, like you said. Who we really are ends up in the ditch. Then this automatron version of whatever was ahead of me that I’m mirroring that’s not really me, is what I’m now showing up out at work because I feel like it’s safe and what should be done.
Leslie: Yeah, and it’s the story we tell ourselves. We tell ourselves that it’s better this way, that we’re less open to hurt, that nobody wants to hear our truth, that it’s going to be something that’s going to be rejected and then it’s going to hurt because it’s the real us that gets hurt. We have so many rationales that we tell ourselves in order to stay hidden. If we’re very lucky, at some point in our lives, we go, that’s bull. That’s bull. All I need is courage. That’s all I need.
Because the secret, the big secret is that once you find and unleash your swagger, your life is better. Everything is better. You are more impactful. People gravitate towards you. You become more trustworthy. You become someone who has the power to lead more effectively. You tap into your ability to create change, to innovate, to figure out risks. You become a better parent. You become a better partner. You become a better friend, a better human. All it takes is the courage to take those steps.
Because I come from a training background, you know the book is pragmatic. I’m not about this look deep into your heart.
Leslie: No, no. The struggle is real and concrete, and there are concrete and real ways to move through it like a badass. Anybody can do it. It doesn’t matter if you’re an extrovert or introvert. You don’t get a special card. This whole thing called confidence is not something that the pixies sprinkle upon a few at birth. Who wants confidence? Step forward. Wait, not so fast, John. Step back. It doesn’t work that way. Swagger is available to every freaking human on the planet. You deserve it. You deserve it, and the world deserves to see your swagger, full stop.
John: I love that so much. That’s so awesome. What a great way to start to bring it in for landing because that’s exactly it, for everybody right there, and it’s such a great parallel really to What’s Your “And”? as well. This just goes bigger.
Leslie: What I learned, I used to call them boxing wisdom, one of the key things that I learned was, in boxing, once you throw a punch, you can’t worry about where it’s going to land because it’s too late. It’s thrown already. If you keep thinking where it’s going to land, you have not positioned your body to defend against the next punch. You haven’t moved yourself.
In this life, we worry so much about what we’re putting out into the world. We stay fixated on that, that we’re not preparing ourselves to deal with the challenging stuff that’s going to come our way as a result of throwing those emotional, gentle punches or putting ourselves out there in the world. It’s like throwing little snowballs out and then just watching them melt. There’s no point. Keep throwing snowballs. It’s way more fun than just standing around and watching them melt.
So, part of what I learned was, you need to play out the whole thing in your head and then just take it one punch at a time, one punch at a time, and never fight angry. Never fight angry. You will not win if you fight angry. You have to take on the fights in your life, the struggles, the challenges, with love and intention to contribute to the collective. Because if you’re doing it with resentment or anger or any of those things, it is not going to go well for you because the only person who’s going to lose is you.
John: You’re exactly right. That’s awesome, so many great knowledge bombs throughout this whole thing. That’s awesome, Leslie. Thank you so much. It’s only fair, since I started out the show, peppering you with questions, that now I turn the table very nervously to have the first episode of the Leslie Ehm podcast, everybody. Thanks for having me on as your guest.
Leslie: Okay, John, I have a few for you. You said three to five. I did like eight because I —
John: Okay, I’m all yours. Here we go.
Leslie: Okay. John, what do you find funny?
John: What do I find funny? I think really clever, observational humor, the things that we all see but only that person sees through that lens and then describes to you, like when a comedian describes something that you see every day and then you’re like, oh, my gosh, that is absolutely hilarious. I can’t believe that I never noticed that before. Irony is super funny to me, which is all in the world, especially in the last 12 months. It’s just those things where it’s, is anyone else seeing this? Am I the only one? Like the real world —
Leslie: It’s the truth. It’s the truth.
John: Exactly. It cracks me up every time.
Leslie: What’s your favorite sound, John?
John: I guess my favorite noise would be at a Notre Dame football game. Notre Dame scores a touchdown and then the crowd goes wild, yeah, just that spontaneous cheer of 80,000 people. Yeah, also laughter, laughter is pretty awesome. It’s also a spontaneous thing that I don’t know why it happens.
Leslie: Okay. If you could body swap with anyone for a day, who would it be?
John: Ooh, body swap. Paul Rudd. I feel like I have Paul Rudd’s body already, so I think we’re good on that one. Really, anyone in the NBA so I could just dunk a basketball. I just want to dunk a basketball.
Leslie: What’s your least favorite trait in people?
John: Least favorite trait in people, I think, is self-centeredness, where you’re just oblivious to what is going on outside and leaving the shopping cart in the middle of the grocery store lot. That’s self-centeredness. You’re not using your blinker. What are you doing? Or you just go driving. I turn into a demon when I’m driving because I’m just like, just what are you doing?
Leslie: What’s wrong with you?
John: Yeah, of course. Just, come on in. Why not? I’m right here.
Leslie: Don’t mind my vehicle. Please, insert your vehicle.
John: Exactly. It’s just crazy to me, just people are just so oblivious to what’s around them. I feel like smartphones have made it worse.
Leslie: On escalators, especially the airport, people on escalators on their phone, they get off the escalator, and they stand there on their —
John: Oh, yeah.
Leslie: I think you don’t realize there was a mechanized thing, pushing people into you. Get out of the way. Get out of the way.
John: Or listening to the video out loud. When I fly, I’ll actually get the earbuds in the pack, even though I have my own. Then when somebody is in an airport just watching a video on max volume that we don’t all want to listen to this; here, Happy Birthday early. Here’s some earbuds. I’ll give them to him because I’m like, we don’t want to listen to this.
Leslie: You know that person has their own earbuds. They’re just choosing not to use them.
John: Exactly. That’s the stuff that drives me nuts.
Leslie: What’s your most favorite trait in people?
John: Oh, my most favorite trait in people, I think, is — well, I mean, it’s in all people, I guess, but just people that recognize that we’re all going through something, and they want to help. People want to help.
John: Yeah, that sort of thing.
Leslie: Okay, so it’s the end of the world, but restaurants are still open, fortunately. What are you going to have as your last meal?
John: Oh, last meal. Well, we’ll start with some ice cream just because and then…
Leslie: What flavor of ice cream?
John: I like your chocolate brownie, chocolate chip. That’s always good. Chocolate chip cookie dough is always good, maybe a two scoop of that. I do enjoy the maximum calories coming into my face as possible.
Leslie: Yup, that could be your entree. Or is that going to be your dessert for this meal?
John: The ice cream I’d probably have as an appetizer just because you might as well start good. Then, yeah, probably a New York strip steak and potatoes. I guess I don’t really need vegetables because it’s the last day of the world.
Leslie: Mashed, fried or baked.
John: Oh, there we go. I like them all but, yeah, probably a baked potato, probably, so then you could just load it up.
Leslie: Twice baked with cheese and stuff and all that.
John: Oh, yeah, twice baked. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, yeah, loaded up. Same with the ice cream, just maximum calories.
Leslie: I know this is turning into a culinary experience.
John: Right. Maybe, but it’s the last day, so who cares? I don’t need any vegetables. It doesn’t matter.
Leslie: It just expresses how you feel about vegetables. The vegetables are necessary things as opposed to pleasure.
John: Yeah, that’s why they’re not on ice cream. Do you ever notice there’s no dessert with vegetables? There’s no…
Leslie: True that.
John: Yeah, it’s like, oh, well.
Leslie: Wait, carrot cake.
John: Yeah, yeah. It’s more of the carrot flavor, I feel like, than it is carrots. Here’s your broccoli ice cream. No.
Leslie: Said no one.
Leslie: Ever. Last question, ready? Given the choice of two superpowers, would you rather be able to fly or be invisible?
John: Oh, wow. That’s a good one. Probably invisible.
John: Just because I’m pretty introverted. It’s better if you’re invisible against the wall than they are against the wall. Other people could see. What’s that weird guy doing? We’re all over here talking. Why is he all by himself in the corner?
Leslie: So, it’s about introversion. It’s to make your introversion more convenient.
John: Yeah, exactly. Why become more extroverted when I can just become invisible? That would be great. Those are really good. That hurt my brain a little bit. That was awesome.
Leslie: Thank you.
John: Well, thank you so much Leslie, for being a part of What’s Your “And”? This was super, super fun.
Leslie: Oh, it was a pleasure. It’s so much fun to talk about my “and”.
John: Right? Isn’t it? Everyone should.
If everyone wants to see some pictures of Leslie boxing or get the link to pre-order her book, Swagger, which is available right now, or connect with her on social media, please go to whatsyourand.com. All the links are there. While you’re on the page, please click that big button, do the anonymous research 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.
Amy is a Keynote Speaker & Yogi & Boxer
Amy Vetter returns to the podcast from episode 104 to talk about her passions in yoga and playing bass guitar as well as taking on a new hobby in boxing! Amy also discusses why its more important to focus on having hobbies than trying to be the best at them!
• Committing to your hobbies as much as your work
• Playing bass in an adult performance group
• Taking up boxing
• You don’t have to be perfect at your hobbies to enjoy them
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Welcome to Episode 290 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 is being published very soon. It’ll be available on Amazon and a few other websites. Check out whatsyourand.com for all the details or sign up for my exclusive list. You’ll be the first to know when it’s coming out.
Please don’t forget to hit subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss any of the future episodes. I love sharing such interesting stories each and every Wednesday and now with the Follow-Up Fridays, and this one is no different with my guest, Amy Vetter. She’s a keynote speaker, CPA, yogi and technologist, and now she’s with me here today. Amy, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Amy: Thanks for having me.
John: Absolutely. This is exciting. I remember the first time when we recorded was in person at Accountex in Boston.
Amy: That’s right. Yeah. You were having trouble with your equipment or something, I’d say.
John: Because it was my first in-person interview. Like, how will I even do this? No one has ever wanted to talk to me in person before, so it was groundbreaking. It’s awesome to have you back.
Amy: You do exist.
John: Exactly. I’m a real person. Now I do my rapid fire questions in the beginning, right out of the gate. Here we go. First one, if you had to choose, Harry Potter or Game of Thrones?
Amy: I don’t watch either, so I’ll just assume Game of Thrones because people talk about it so much.
John: All right. Okay, okay. How about a favorite cereal even as a kid?
Amy: As a kid, it was Cheerios, but now I actually eat really gross granola with pumpkin seed, flax.
John: Oh, no. Childhood Amy is embarrassed for you. Yeah. You can’t put enough of your own sugar on that to make it go, but you know what? It’s healthy. How about heels or flats?
Amy: Heels. They’re not as comfortable, so, heels for working, flats for fun.
John: Okay. All right. How about a favorite Disney character?
Amy: Favorite Disney character. Well I’m going to say one but I don’t think she’s Disney.
John: Counts for me.
Amy: Wonder Woman. She’s not Disney.
John: Right. I feel like Disney owns everything anyway.
Amy: I don’t want a princess. I want —
John: Right. You want somebody that’s kicking butts and taking names.
John: I hear you. I hear you. All right. How about cats or dogs?
John: Dogs? All right. Two more. How about a favorite place you’ve been on vacation.
Amy: Oh, I have so many. Well I would say everywhere in Italy, Santorini. In the United States, one of my favorite states is Utah. It’s just gorgeous.
John: Yeah, yeah. It’s really gorgeous. The last one, toilet paper roll, over or under?
Amy: I don’t care. People make issues about that. I just don’t care.
John: Right. Just as long as it’s on the —
Amy: Exactly. That it’s been refilled.
John: Exactly. It’s not sticking up on the back of the toilet or whatever. Yeah. That’s awesome. Very cool, very cool. Episode 104, when we talked in Boston, it was a lot of yoga and playing bass guitar, which is pretty cool. Is that still stuff that you’re pretty passionate about and actively doing still?
Amy: Absolutely. I think, with anything, you have to make a commitment to things that you really enjoy just as important as your work. Yoga, even though I own a yoga studio, it’s work but it never feels like work. I think what’s really important is that you’re finding a way to maintain your own practice even if it is your work, whether it be meditation or mindfulness activities. The bass guitar, I’ve been playing consistently since. Not that I‘m really any better, but I really enjoy it.
John: That’s all that matters. Right?
Amy: At the end of the day, when I’m playing rock, that’s all I care about. I play as part of a — it’s an adult performance band. I actually pay to play, so it’s not like anyone’s hiring me for gigs. We’re playing Queen this season, and it’s just fun, challenging music so I’m enjoying it. I have started up boxing.
John: What? Okay.
Amy: Yeah. That has been fun. My son and I decided to pick something new to try together and so we signed up for TITLE boxing. That actually has been a lot of fun. It’s my yin and yang.
John: Right. That is the opposite of yoga.
Amy: Sometimes you’ve just got to punch stuff.
John: Right. Okay. I can get into that yoga.
John: That’s so fantastic. What made you choose boxing?
Amy: It’s something I’d never done before. Actually my older son, whatever they call it, like when you have a man crush, with Michael Jordan. He did the Rocky movies and the Marvel movies and so my son started getting really into it. Then my younger son and I were trying to pick something new to do together, and we’re like, let’s do that. Let’s try boxing. We do it once a week and have a lot of fun.
John: Yeah. Is it mostly hitting bags or —
John: Each other?
Amy: When they start with the cardio and the ending — I don’t want that. I just want to hit the bag.
Amy: Any class where that part is shorter, I just want to go in and hit the bag.
John: Is that like the big, long one that weighs almost like a body weight?
John: Yeah. As opposed to the little speed bag.
Amy: Yeah, that was my Mother’s Day gift last year was new boxing gloves.
John: That’s so great.
Amy: Then another fun thing that we incorporated was — so my older son graduated high school last year, and I was trying to think of what to get him as a gift. He always, his whole life, has walked around beatboxing around the house and so I’m like, I’m getting him a DJ set, getting him something he totally doesn’t need that he could just have fun with. So he’s been learning to DJ and then I told him I’m giving him his first gig. So he has started to DJ my yoga classes.
John: What? Okay.
Amy: It has been so fun to do together. Then I’d give him new challenges with music because he doesn’t know our fun ‘90s music because he’s playing all current music. I’m like, you’ve got to throw something for me and my classes first.
John: Right, right.
Amy: He’s like, “Snoop Dogg? Was that some — yup, Snoop Dogg, Beastie Boys, yeah, throw them in.
John: That’s so fantastic. So cool. What a great Mother’s Day gift, boxing gloves. Did it come with the macaroni glued on like an elementary school kid made it?
Amy: No. They were the real thing just in gold. I have gold boxing gloves.
John: There you go. That’s so great, so great. Also cool, even the guitar, like you said, you paid to play, but so what? So many of our passions, we’re paying or not making money with. It really doesn’t matter, right? Because it’s something that you’re doing for you, not for everyone else.
Amy: I think that’s the thing you have to let go off with any of this stuff is you don’t have to be the best. Because a lot of times, what prevents people from starting something is like, well I’m not good at it or I’ve never done it. I hear it all the time when people come into the yoga studio. I’m not flexible. I’m not this or I’m not that. Well you can’t be anything unless you start. Who cares if you’re not perfect if you’re enjoying it. At the end of the day, all I wanted to play was rock. I don’t care if I’m perfect or I’m the best. I get to play at these fun concerts.
John: Yeah. Exactly. I just want to play some Queen.
John: Is that too much to ask? Then when I’m done, go punch something really hard.
Amy: Exactly. Wow, what a picture we’re coming up with me here.
John: I’m just picturing you with the bass with your boxing gloves on. I don’t know what kind of chord you can do with the boxing gloves, not much.
Amy: I don’t think much, but it might sound just the same.
John: The sound has got to be good for plucking.
Amy: Yeah. Right.
John: That’s super cool though that you did get out of your own way for that, and it’s enjoyable.
Amy: Well I also think you can pick something with both of the things, even the DJing with the yoga and the boxing. It’s like, just because you find something that works for you one year, doesn’t mean to not go try something again. Or if you’re getting really good at something, break the learning and teach yourself to be a beginner again. That was part of this was just like, okay, want to shake it up. I’ve got a workout routine that I really enjoy, but why not try something new and not be perfect at it again and just see if I liked it.
John: Yeah. What’s been the hardest part for you?
Amy: I would say it’s obviously you walk into anything new and there are always people there that are the die-hards that come all the time, that practice all the time, that are so good, and you’re trying to figure it out. Especially with guitar, I know when I started, they told me it was a beginner’s program. I show up, and it’s all these men with their guitars that are amazing, but they had never come out of their basement. So they’re saying that everyone’s at the same stage but, no. I was really a beginner, and these guys were playing ridiculous, amazing on their guitar. That’s one of those things is that you just realize it just doesn’t matter. I don’t have to be as good as them. I can still play my part and figure it out. That’s all that matters.
John: Right, and you’re part of the collective when you’re in a band anyway. It’s not a solo for you. Occasionally there’s a bass solo but not usually.
Amy: Not too many. I can hide.
John: Exactly. When I was in the marching band in college, my very first time on pre-game, I didn’t play a single note because there’s 60,000 people in the stadium and they’re all going to know if I’m out of line.
John: Not a single one of them is going to know if I played the wrong note or none at all. If you get half of them right the first time, that’s great. You’ll come back. You practice a little bit. It’s enjoyable for you. Like you said, it’s not like you’re getting paid. You’re not at the amphitheater where people are like, “I paid $100 for this.” No, you didn’t.
Amy: No, I am actually paying them to do it.
John: Right, right. Exactly.
Amy: That’s what I constantly remind myself, is like, don’t feel bad. You’re paying to be here. The other thing is I think it’s just hard when you’re a Type A personality and competitive by nature that when people are better at you than things, you immediately start talking yourself down or making yourself feel bad. You have to keep reminding yourself, who cares? Literally, I’m never making a career out of this, and if I’m enjoying it, that’s all that matters. At the end of the day, if I’m getting a release from it and it’s making me happy and it creates joy for me, then that’s all that matters.
John: Right. That’s such a huge takeaway for everyone listening, is that’s why you’re doing it is for the joy that you get. If someone else doesn’t like it or whatever, you’re not the best, you’re not supposed to be. You’re doing it for your own enjoyment. Yeah, that’s such a huge takeaway, such a huge takeaway. Have you seen examples of companies, of places that you’ve been around that are encouraging people to share their “Ands” those hobbies and passions outside of work?
Amy: Well, you know that I do the B3 Method. That’s the Business, Balance and Bliss. I’ve had a number of companies hire me, and I think what has been so interesting is watching what happens after and people really explain their hobbies. One in particular that just popped into my head was someone that started painting because of the talk, and they were like, “I really want to get back to painting.” They came back and had a whole event with their team, and it was a painting event but it was blindfolded painting.
John: Oh, wow. Okay. That levels the playing field quickly.
Amy: Right. So, at the end of the day, everyone could just enjoy it, and shifting spots and painting on other people’s paintings. Again, was just shaking up the whole thought about, does it have to be perfect and is it collectively fun? I think when you can bring those challenges into the workplace where people can bring in their own interests, it’s so important because you learn so much more about people than when everyone is always talking about work. When they can come in and can showcase their talents or their hobbies and everyone can participate, even if it’s not something everyone enjoys, then it’s someone else’s turn.
John: Exactly. Because that’s what really lights people up. It’s rare people work that lights people up. They’re good at it, and they do it because that’s what pays the bills, but what really lights you up is punching stuff and playing bass guitar and doing yoga.
Amy: You are totally ruining my yogi persona.
John: You’re breathing deeply while you punch —
Amy: I’m doing breathwork while I’m punching the bag, yeah.
John: That’s what lights you up, and that’s cool. What lights someone else up is different. There’s no reason why we should think that everyone’s the same because they’re clearly not. Awesome to hear that example that people can easily do where they’re at now. Yeah.
This has been so much fun, Amy, catching up. Man, I feel like I should sign up for some boxing now. Next time I see you at a conference, I’m going to have to duck. Whoa.
Amy: I haven’t hit people, just bags.
John: There’s always a first.
Amy: There’s always a first. Yeah.
John: There’s always a first. Right. So, it’s only fair that since I rapid fire questioned you right out of the gate, that I now allow you to be the host of the show. If you want to rapid fire question me, I’m in the hot seat. Whenever you’re ready, fire away.
Amy: All right. What’s your favorite hobby instead of comedy, besides comedy?
John: College football and eating ice cream, and at the same time is heaven. Watching college football is the best.
Amy: Is it cookies and cream ice cream or mint chocolate chip?
John: Between those two, wow, that’s a tough choice. Oh, man.
Amy: I’m really asking challenging things.
John: Those are very hard. This is deep. Yeah, I guess I’ll go cookies and cream on that one. I love ice cream that has chunks in it because then I can get more calories in each sitting.
Amy: I mean if you’re going to do it, you might as well just go all out.
Amy: Mountains or beach?
John: Since I live in Colorado now, I guess I get the mountains all the time, so I think the beach is a little more special. I’d say beach simply because I have to get on an airplane to go to it, so it feels like a treat. Maybe I’m spoiled because I can just go in my backyard and look. Oh, there they are, the mountains. If I lived on the coast, I’d probably say the opposite but, yeah, I’ll say beach. That was really fun. Now I need some ice cream. Gosh, I’m starving.
Amy: I know. You’ve got a craving now.
John: Totally. Well this has been so much fun, Amy. Thanks for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Amy: Well thanks for having me, always fun.
John: Very cool. Everyone listening, if you want to see some pictures of Amy in action or maybe connect with her on social media and be sure and listen to her podcast, you can go to whatsyourand.com. All the links are there, and while you’re on the page, please click that big button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture.
Thanks again for subscribing on iTunes or whatever app you use and for sharing this with your friends so they get the message that we’re all trying to spread, that who you are is so much more than what you do.