Adrian is an Accounting Dept Chair & Children’s Book Author
Adrian Mayse talks about what inspired him to write a children’s book about accounting, the positive reaction from his colleagues, and how that reaction gave a renewed focus for him at the office!
• What inspired him to write When I Grow Up I Want To Be… An Accountant
• How the book writing process translates to his job
• Why he initially did not share about his authorship in the office
• His colleague’s positive reaction to his book
• Singing in a choral group
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Welcome to Episode 377 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 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 when you’re at work.
If you like what the show is about, be sure to check out the book on Amazon, Indigo, barnesandnoble.com, 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 just came out last week. 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 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, Adrian Mayse. He’s the Chair and Associate Professor of the Department of Accounting at Howard University in Washington, DC, and the author of the children’s book, When I Grow Up, I Want to be an Accountant. Now he’s with me here today. Adrian, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Adrian: Thank you, John.
John: This is going to be awesome, man. My dream is when kids say, “I want to be an accountant when I grew up.” Forget astronauts or firefighters. No. Accountant, I’m telling you. You can’t do any of that other stuff without the accounting. You can’t.
Adrian: You can’t.
John: I’m excited to get into that. First, I have my 17 rapid-fire questions that will get to know Adrian on a new level here, so here we go. How about when it comes to puzzles, Sudoku or crossword?
John: Crossword. Okay, all right. How about more of a talk or text?
John: Text, okay. Yeah, so the podcast is going to be tough. All right. I’m teasing, man. We should just chat back and forth. At the end of 30 minutes, tell everyone, well, that was amazing. How about a favorite color?
John: Blue. Nice. Mine too. How about a least favorite color?
John: Green. Interesting. Okay, all right. How about a favorite Disney character?
Adrian: Interesting. You got me.
John: There’s a million now.
Adrian: Yeah. The one that came to mind for some reason was Aladdin.
John: Okay. That’s a solid answer, man.
Adrian: No, I had to think about it. I was like, is Aladdin Disney?
John: You know what? I think anything animated, I’ll take. No, that’s a solid answer. Very cool. Very cool. How about Star Wars or Star Trek?
Adrian: Star Trek.
John: Star Trek. Interesting. All right, all right. How about a computer, more of a PC or a Mac?
Adrian: I’m a PC, but I have a Mac that I’m using now. Not my choice.
John: Yeah, I’m a PC guy as well. I don’t know how Macs work. I really don’t. How about a favorite ice cream flavor?
Adrian: It switches, but I want to say, at this moment, strawberry.
John: Strawberry. Okay, all right. Yeah, you don’t hear that very much, so that’s a good answer. How about a favorite season, summer, winter, spring or fall?
John: Summer. Okay.
Adrian: I like the heat, but I don’t like — I’m from Mississippi, so I don’t like the Mississippi heat.
John: Oh, boy.
Adrian: But I like the summertime.
John: There you go. All right. How about, oh, since you’re in the Accounting Department, balance sheet or income statement?
John: That’s a deep one, right?
John: It’s silly and not at the same time.
Adrian: I’m going to go with income statement.
John: Okay. All right. Just show me the numbers. Boom, there it is. Here we go, favorite day of the week.
Adrian: I know what that is not my favorite, but favorite, I’m going to say Saturday.
John: Saturday. Yeah, totally. It’s hard to argue against that one. That’s for sure. How about suit and tie or jeans and a T-shirt?
Adrian: Jeans and T-shirt.
John: Okay. All right, all right. Yeah, didn’t even think twice on that one. Do you have a favorite number?
Adrian: I have two, seven and five. Five was the initial one, and seven came later.
John: Yeah. Is there a reason why?
Adrian: Just seven is the number of completion, Alpha Phi fraternity. We have seven founders.
John: Okay. Yeah, yeah. No, totally, seven’s my number too, but it’s mostly sports-related, I think, yeah, seven and eight. I don’t know why. I think because, alphabetically, that’s where my jersey number always came, as a kid, so I was like, well, I guess these are my numbers. That’s how it works. How about books, audio version, Kindle or real book?
Adrian: Oh, I need a real book. I need a physical copy of the book.
John: Yeah, I’m that way as well. It’s just better for me. I don’t know. The audio version, people kept asking, so you have it now, people. You’re happy now. All right? We’ve got three more. How about a favorite actor or actress?
Adrian: Favorite actress is Phylicia Rashad.
John: Oh, okay. All right. Yeah. That’s awesome. How about an early bird or night owl?
Adrian: I’m getting older, so I’m in the middle of it. I’m going to say it depends.
John: It depends. I’m in the nap level.
John: I’m starting to take naps so that I can do both.
John: Right? That’s awesome. The last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.
Adrian: I have the most amazing puppy. Wait, he’s not a puppy anymore, dog. His name is Guy, and he’ll be turning five on Monday.
John: That’s awesome.
Adrian: He’s terrible in a good way.
John: What kind of dog is he?
Adrian: He’s a Maltese Yorkie.
John: Oh, wow. Okay. That’s awesome, man. Yeah, dogs are great. That’s for sure. Yeah, and it’s all of a sudden now, you’re five years? How’s that possible?
Adrian: Yeah, it was like a couple of years ago.
John: That’s awesome, man. Let’s talk about the book. I love it. I love the title. I love everything about it. Just getting kids to think differently and how accounting is not what they portray on TV shows and movies and whatever people think accountants are. The character in The Office was Kevin.
John: It’s like, come on.
Adrian: I was going to say what TV show or what movie, but gotcha.
John: Yeah, yeah. Or just with the stereotype of what people think, it’s like, guy. So, what spurred you to — I mean, you just don’t roll out of bed one day, and I’m going to write a book. I’m sure that there’s some thought that goes into it.
Adrian: Yeah, there was thought that went into it. There are a lot of initiatives that we have in the accounting profession that really only starts at the high school level, and it goes from high school, to college, to industry, CPAs and so forth, but I haven’t seen anything that engaged young children. I was like, there needs to be a children’s book. I had been thinking about it for a while. Actually, there’s another one before mine.
John: Oh, okay.
Adrian: It’s got a little accounting. So, I’m just happy right now to see two books out.
Adrian: Yeah. The purpose was for students to see themselves in the book and to hear about the profession.
John: Literally because there’s a page in there where you can put your picture, right?
John: Yeah, which is super cool, man. In my book, there is no place for that. There is no place for you to put your own face. As a kid, that’s cool to be able to visualize it.
Adrian: Yeah, that’s the teacher in me. I was supposed to probably be a K through third grade teacher, but I ran from it. I think this is me connecting back to what I thought I was going to be doing.
John: No, I love it, man. I think that’s really cool. How long did that take?
Adrian: It’s been something I wanted to do for a while. Interestingly, I found the email that I had listed all the things that I wanted to accomplish one day. Generically, I had children’s book, but this was not the idea of…
Adrian: … What is a children’s book. It said, start a business. It said all these different things. So, I started thinking about it. After, the book has evolved to what it is. I started writing in 2019. Then because last year, everything happened with the pandemic, just going back and forth with the illustrator was pretty much the process last year.
Adrian: I had a very distinct vision about how I wanted the book to look like, and when I expressed that to her, she took it from there. She did a great job. Yeah, that was the process.
John: No, that’s awesome, man. Yeah. Because writing a book, unless you’ve done it, it’s a journey. It’s a journey. You get other people involved. As long as they get your vision, the vision becomes better than what you even thought, it sounds like, especially with the illustrator.
Adrian: Right. So, two things happened and things just worked together, how I feel how it’s supposed to come together. First thing is that the book is self-published. I just had the experience with my fiancé three years ago, when he self-published his book, so I knew the ins and outs to get it self-published.
It was slightly different because it was a children’s book and there were pictures and illustration, but the person I reached out to, this is her maybe fifth, sixth children’s book. I like what she had did then. When I saw what she did now, I was like, oh, my gosh. When I got it at this time, it was amazing. It wasn’t bad before, but it’s like, oh, my gosh, this is amazing what you’ve done. Yeah, things just happened. I’m just fortunate to know someone that did children’s books and also to have went through that self-publishing process.
John: Right. Yeah. It’s so awesome, man. That’s so awesome. Do you feel like any of that process at all translates to your work at Howard University or in the Accounting Department?
Adrian: Oh, absolutely. It’s really a part of my motivation behind it because, especially as the chair now, all this conversation about how to increase the diversity within the profession. All these things are great. I think all these need to happen, but something’s missing early on. For me, it was the children’s book. To someone else, it may be a puzzle. To someone else, it may be animation. I think those are some of the things that can be done I have tons of ideas that I’m still working on that can be done to expose children. We have so many things in different professions. Even toys, there could be some toys out there that — I mean, I don’t know.
Adrian: Yeah, I’m thinking about that, too. I have something written down, but those are some of the things that they’d be, at least, exposed to.
John: Yeah, because you don’t even know that it’s a thing until maybe it’s too late or something. So, I think that’s fantastic, especially in neighborhoods where being an accountant really isn’t an option, like, I don’t know, an accountant type of thing. It’s cool that that book reaches out to those kids especially, to get them in the mix early.
John: That’s awesome. What’s the take? Do you share this with people at work? Hey, I’m writing this book. Here’s how it’s going, and here’s the final product. Or was there a part of you that was like, well, I’ll just maybe keep it on the side and whatever?
Adrian: My process with a lot of things is that, things I’m working on, I think you should keep it to yourself for a moment. Then there’s a time to, okay, I feel like let me share this with my household. It kind of stayed there. When it was released, I have this thing now that I, during COVID, I saved everybody’s text messages in my phone. I want to know who I’ve been engaging with during this time. So it was very easy that the day that it was available, I just had this text message, and I just shouted it out to everybody. I just went through my phone, just sending the same message. They were like, what? You did what? It was all these different responses. When did you do this? You didn’t say anything.
John: Right? We just hung out two months ago, dude. Really?
Adrian: No. We just talked last night.
John: Oh, my God.
Adrian: It was like family members and everything. You did what?
John: Right? The name says, Adrian Mayse, but the text says that you wrote a book. Are you sure or is my phone mixing stuff? Who is this?
Adrian: Someone said, “Is this yours?” I said, “Oh, you didn’t. You didn’t read it.”
John: That’s awesome, man. What was the reaction?
Adrian: The reaction has been great. A lot of people was like, oh, my gosh, you stole my idea. No, I didn’t. You can go ahead and write your children’s book too. That’s been my response. We need more than two.
John: Right, right.
Adrian: It has been good. It’s been great.
John: Yeah, it’s all positive. There’s a part of you that’s like, I probably should have told them six months ago or whatever, but you want to make sure it’s good.
Adrian: It wasn’t that. Sometimes people don’t understand until they see it. I just wanted to — I knew what my intentions were. I had a thought. Let me complete this. Even if the reception wasn’t what it is right now, I still would have been okay because this is what I want to accomplish and what I thought was needed. Versus someone else, you’re telling them and they’re like, “What’s the point in that?” Which I have had that, and I’m thinking like, well, it’s not for you.
John: Right? You’re also not a child. So, there’s that. That’s so true, and that’s something that’s really powerful, what you just said, is instead of, I’m an author, it’s, I enjoy writing. Or I enjoy running, or I enjoy whatever it is. It doesn’t matter if it’s good because it’s for me. I enjoy painting. Are your paintings good? Maybe no. Who cares? So that’s really powerful for people to get that because I think that we get in our own ways in our own head.
Adrian: Talking about more about my friends maybe.
Adrian: My friends may be listening to the podcast, so, hey, friends. We did some discussion, after the fact. Oh, you should do A, B, C, and D. I was like, no, I want this to be an enjoyable experience. I need to do this my way and what I feel is right, at the time. All those things are going to come. Just let me sit in it. I don’t want to be about what’s happening. Let things flow as they flow. I make decisions. I make decisions. I don’t want to just push all this out and accept this appearance and this thing. Now, it’s not fun. I wrote it to encourage students to be a part of profession. Also, it was something that I wish I had as a child. Again, it was fun. The conversations I’m having have been fun conversations. I don’t want to ever feel like, oh, I’ve got to do another podcast. I don’t want to feel that way.
John: No, no, I’m with you on that, and I’m trying not to ruin it. No, I’m just joking. I’m teasing.
Adrian: You’re doing great.
John: I’m teasing, man. I’m teasing. You’re exactly right. If it doesn’t bring you joy, and it’s not something that is a creation that you wanted to do, then why am I doing this? I’m the same way. When I speak at conferences or when I wrote my book, when my comedy album came out 10 years ago, it was very much like, what do I want it to be if I was in the audience or if I was a reader? Then write it that way and/or create the thing for that and then hope that I’m not the only one on the planet that thinks that way, but then I’m proud of it. I’ll tell everyone about it then. Where if other people start to mix up your vision, then it’s like, well, now I don’t even want to tell anybody because that’s not what I wanted. So, that’s cool, man. That’s super cool.
Before you got into writing a book, is there another outside-of-work hobby or passion that you enjoy doing?
Adrian: I enjoy singing.
John: Oh, okay.
Adrian: Let me clarify. I enjoy singing, I want to say chorale music, but I like to harmonize. I do not sing normally just by myself as a solo, but I do enjoy singing in groups that we can harmonize.
John: Yeah, like an a cappella sort of a thing?
Adrian: Interestingly enough, I’ve not done a cappella, but I am part of a chorus. It’s called the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC.
John: Oh, wow. Okay.
Adrian: It’s like hundreds of us in the chorus.
John: You can’t just — I mean, I’m a terrible singer. I don’t know why. I can play an instrument. I can hear things are out of tune. Then as soon as, noise is coming out of my mouth. Even in church, old ladies, like, “Hey, just stop. It’s cool.” It sounds so bad. When people are like, what do you wish you had a superpower? I wish I could sing and dunk a basketball. That’s all I want in life. They’re like, well, regular people can do that. I’m like, I know, but I can’t. No, that’s awesome, man. That’s really cool. Did you grow up singing?
Adrian: Yes, I grew up in the church, singing, all four years of high school, singing one semester a year in college, and then, yeah, back to church. I was looking for a chorus I could identify with more. That’s why I joined the chorus here. I’ve been part of, two years now.
John: That’s cool, man. That’s so great. That’s so great. It’s a cool outlet, and it’s just something that really lights you up. Because work lights you up sometimes, but sometimes not. Singing, man, every time, that makes you happy. That’s super cool. That’s awesome, man. I can’t wait till we’re past all this so then we can, yeah, stumble into DC and go to a concert.
Adrian: Hey, you can go on YouTube. There’s tons of GMCW videos. We’ve been doing some virtual concerts. They’re on YouTube.
John: That’s awesome. Are you each in your own homes, and you have to harmonize over —
Adrian: Yes, singing over a track, and they do their harmonizing and production, and there we are.
John: That’s awesome, dude. That’s so cool. That’s really cool. Do you have any words of encouragement to anyone listening that’s, whether they’re in accounting or engineering or law or whatever white collar nerd job they have — I say that affectionately because I’m also one –where they think, well, I have a hobby, but no one cares, and it has nothing to do with my job?
Adrian: I hear a lot of people say they have their career and then they have their passion. I think those things can be one. Everybody may not be, and that’s okay too. Because some people work is work, and I need my outlet, and that’s my hobby and passion. Some people don’t want those things to merge, but when they do, I think it’s great.
Writing this book, I think I probably have been in the most happiest places I’ve been, as far as even with work now, because I have a renewed focus. So I will say just, try to mostly be aware of what you want to do. There are plenty of opportunities. You don’t know what your passion will look like. Like me, right now, this children’s book, I had no clue what it would look like, but I knew that it would be something one day.
John: Yeah, so just start the journey. Just one step and then another step and then before you know it, you have a children’s book that rocks. Hey, there you go. What do you know? What do you know? Now, I love that advice. That’s awesome. I love too, just hearing how having that outside of work, that “and” lit you up when you were at work, renewed energy and renewed enthusiasm. That’s cool because it’s hard, or rather, it’s easy for us to lose focus of that sometimes. That’s cool, man. Very cool. That’s awesome.
Well, before I wrap this up, it’s only fair that I turn the tables, and the first episode of the Adrian Mayse podcast. Thanks for having me on. I booked myself. I’m all yours, since I fired away at you with my rapid-fire questions at the beginning.
Adrian: All right, first question, what’s your favorite color?
John: Oh, favorite color. Yeah, mine is also blue, all blues. I really just — yeah, I don’t know why. It’s always been blue. The navy blue is great. Royal blue is also solid. Teal’s got a place. Yeah, blue is always good.
Adrian: Yeah, I’m the same way. I don’t know any blue that I don’t like.
John: Right? Yeah, it’s just all good. It’s always good. It’s happy. It’s fun. You can wear it and not — I mean, I can wear it, and it’s good. That might be a factor. I don’t know. It’s just, yeah, blue, for sure.
Adrian: What’s your favorite place to visit in the — well, world?
John: Okay. Yeah, wow. Okay, so probably the coolest place I’ve been in the world is Cape Town, South Africa. Zanzibar is an island in the Indian Ocean, also super cool. Yeah, here in the US, there are so many great places. DC is awesome because the museums and the monuments and the history there. I used to live in New York City. There’s an energy. A favorite, Denver’s pretty awesome. I live there, so I guess I don’t have to visit. Costa Rica is also super cool. If people haven’t been there, that’s definitely worth a trip once we’re allowed to do that. Yeah, I’d probably say, mostly not the US, for some reason. Maybe because I take it for granted, all this stuff that we have that’s awesome here.
Adrian: What’s your favorite season?
John: Fall, easily. It’s, college football happens, the trees are starting to turn colors, and it’s not as hot, but it’s not cold either. Yeah, it’s that. Growing up in Mississippi, I don’t even know how you did it, man. I would have died at three. I would have melted and just disintegrated.
Adrian: We didn’t know any better. That’s all we knew.
John: Yeah, I guess that’s a good point.
Adrian: Oh, wait a minute. What did we do wrong?
John: Right. We’ve all the bugs and everything and the humidity and the heat. It’s like, what? Yeah, fall, for sure.
Adrian: What do you do to decompress, relax?
John: Oh, wow. Yeah. Now, that’s a good question. I love going to concerts when we’re allowed to, for sure. I also picked up rowing during the pandemic. I’m not a rower. I’ve never rowed anything. I’ve never thought of rowing. I never wanted to, but I needed to be exercising, and I hate running. Every time I go running, I’m thinking of everything I should be doing instead of running. I’m just so bored. So, I just picked up rowing and that’s been fun as well because you can get a pretty intense workout in about 20 minutes or so. It’s like, hoo, wow. It’s efficient. I like that part too.
Adrian: What is your favorite food dish?
John: Oh, wow. Yeah. Lasagna is always going to be good. A New York strip steak is always going to be good. Meat and potatoes and vegetables, that’s always going to be good. Yeah, a really good pizza. Oh, man, now I’m starving.
John: But it’s easily, ice cream. I know it’s not a dish, but it should be. Ice cream is my favorite thing always. If anyone’s like, hey, you want to go get ice cream? Yeah. I’m the friend that you don’t want to be around if you’re trying to lose weight, is going to tell you no. I’m going to be like, yeah, totally, we should.
Adrian: This is my last question, I guess.
John: Okay, last one. All right.
Adrian: You mentioned this earlier, but I don’t know if we were talking, about what makes you do the podcast.
John: Oh, wow. Yeah. The podcast started because I had someone remember me, 12 years after I left my first PwC office. I was speaking at a conference, and he says, “I know John Garrett. That’s the guy who did comedy at night,” to the meeting planner. I had no idea who he was because I don’t know taxes, and I never met him or worked with him.
So I just wanted to just shatter the stereotype of what it is to be a successful professional. It’s not all work all the time. It’s, oh, I have other things that I love to do. I’m a part of a choir. I write books. I love college football. I really enjoy horror movies or whatever your thing is. I volunteer. I, whatever. We’re all having these hobbies and passions, and in my research, it’s 92% of us. I don’t know who the 8% are, but whatever, but 92%.
For so long, though, when we grow up, and in high school, in college, and then once we start working; we think, well, if you have something, I mean, God forbid, if you have anything, but if you do, don’t talk about it because you’re not very dedicated to your career, or you’re not good at your job, or whatever these things that professionalism tells us, these lies. It’s the opposite. The more hobbies and passions you have, the less anxiety and depression, the better moral decisions you make. Then you share those hobbies and passions, engagement goes up, retention goes up, all these things.
The stereotypical professional is somebody like you and me, that has other things that light them up, and I think it’s okay to say it out loud. It’s almost mandatory that we say it out loud. That’s why. I just wanted to normalize it. You go through that Instagram feed on What’s Your “And”?, and just a bunch of people smiling. They’re all very, very happy. If I go to their head shots on their website of their business, maybe not, maybe not as much. So, yeah, just shatter that stereotype. Similar to you with the book, just shatter that stereotype of what it is. I love it, man.
This has been so much fun, man. I appreciate you taking time to be a part of What’s Your “And”?, Adrian.
Adrian: Thank you.
John: If you want to see some pictures of Adrian or link to the book or connect with him on social media, definitely check out the book for kids you know, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. All the links are there, and while you’re on the page, please click that big button and do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture. Don’t forget to check out the book. Audio version’s out now.
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.