Terrell is an Consultant & Content Creator
Terrell Turner talks about how his desire for making meetings a more fun experience led him to his passion for creating content to creatively relay important information, tell stories and encourage people to open up and connect with each other!
• Getting into content creation
• Starting The Business Talk Library podcast
• The impact of his content
• How his content creation translates to his work as an accountant
• Getting noticed by executives for his content creation
• The responsibilities of the organization and the individual in creating an open workplace culture
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Welcome to Episode 343 of What’s Your “And”? This is John Garrett and each Wednesday, I interview a professional who, just like me, is known for a hobby or a passion or an interest outside of work. To put it another way, it’s encouraging people to find their “and”, those things above and beyond your technical skills, the things that actually differentiate you when you’re at work.
I’m so excited to let everyone know that my book is out and it makes a perfect holiday gift. Christmas is two days away, so check out whatsyourand.com for all the details. It’s on Amazon, Indigo, Book Depository, barnesandnoble.com, a few other websites. All the links are on that page. I can’t say how much it means that everyone’s getting the book and leaving such nice reviews on Amazon, and for sharing how their cultures have changed because of it. It’s really cool to see. 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.
This week is no different with my guest, Terrell Turner. He’s the co-founder of TL Turner Group and the host of the Business Talk Library Podcast. Now, he’s with me here today. Terrell, thanks so much for taking the time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Terrell: Absolutely. My pleasure.
John: Now, this is going to be awesome, super fun. I have my 17 rapid fire questions to get to know Terrell on a new level here.
Terrell: Let’s go for it.
John: All right. Here we go. I’ll start you out easy. Favorite color?
John: Nice. Mine, too. All right. We’re one for one. No, I’m teasing. There’s actually no right answers. How about a least favorite color?
Terrell: I would say pink.
John: Pink. Okay, fair enough. Fair enough. How about do you prefer more hot or cold?
John: Cold. Okay. How about a favorite actor or actress?
Terrell: Favorite actor, I would have to say Will Smith.
John: Will Smith. Solid answer. There you go. How about are you more of an early bird or a night owl? Early. Okay. How about chocolate or vanilla?
Terrell: I’ll go with vanilla.
John: Okay. Yeah. How about puzzles, Sudoku or crossword?
Terrell: Crossword. Sudoku is just too complicated for me.
John: Okay. It’s how I look at tax returns. I’m like, “What? This is crazy.” There we go. How about Star Wars or Star Trek?
Terrell: Star Trek.
John: Star Trek. Okay. Your computer, more of a PC or a Mac?
John: PC. Yeah, me too. Me, too. Your mouse then, right click or left click?
Terrell: Right click.
John: Right click. That’s where all the options are. There you go. Getting crazy. Oh, this is a fun one. Socks or shoes?
John: Socks. Okay. There you go. How about balance sheet or income statement?
Terrell: Income statement.
John: Income statement. That was just stupid. All right. We have five more. Oceans or mountains?
Terrell: Oceans. There’s something about the water.
John: Yeah. You’re an East Coast guy for sure. What do you eat for breakfast?
Terrell: Typical breakfast would be — it’d be a breakfast burrito either with eggs or bacon or some type of meat and eggs in it.
John: Yeah, there you go. That’s fantastic right there. How about a favorite number? I have to ask with the Finance Accounting background.
Terrell: I’ll just say seven. That’s the one that comes to mind.
John: That’s mine, too, man. It’s like sports-related, kind of, but who knows? It’s just a good number. I agree. How about my book being out, Kindle or real books? Real books. There you go. The last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own?
Terrell: The favorite thing that I have, I would have to say — man, that’s a good one. Favorite thing I have, a physical thing? I would say right now, it’s my cellphone because there are so many different things that I can do with it. That’s probably the thing I use the most.
John: Okay. Fair enough. When you lose it, it’s like, “Ah! I can’t open my garage. I can’t do anything. I don’t even know how to call someone. I don’t know their number.” Totally, man. It’s insane how reliant we are on this thing. Also, how right at two years, it starts to go wonky and you need to get a new one. What do you know?
Terrell: I’m about at that point now.
John: Yeah, it’s insane. What a racket. Let’s talk content creation. I’m sure the cellphone probably comes in handy for some of that sometimes even, but how did you get started doing that?
Terrell: For me, it was probably in college where I played around with it because even going through some of the accounting in the business classes, whenever we’d have to do presentations, I was always bored with just getting up there, people pointing to their PowerPoint. Some of my professors said, “Okay, you guys can use a little bit of creativity” and I was like, great! In one presentation, what I did is I set the classroom up like it was a talk show.
John: Nice! There you go.
Terrell: I got some of my classmates to participate or whatever, and I did my presentation in the form of a talk show. I think there was another one I did where I had to do an analysis on Nike or whatever. I just came up with this analogy of, well, what if I change up the classroom and make my speech like I’m doing a safety briefing on an airline? Everybody’s strapped in. People get seatbelts. I put on a captain’s hat.
It’s just bringing that creativity in to where when I started working — I started off in public accounting and getting back into, okay, I was doing things very structural, but there’s that creative side of me that wants to do something a little different. So creating content whether it be for social media or just for different friends that have questions about different stuff, content creation became my way of expressing that creativity.
John: That’s awesome because yeah, the content still gets delivered. You’re still doing the presentation. It’s just in a different way. That pattern interrupt, I believe, makes people actually listen for once instead of just zoning out. You’re up there with a talk show. You’re a little bit of creativity. How about a lot? I’ve got a talk show and we’re going to do it Maury style. “Are you pregnant or not? Who’s the daddy?” No, no, I’m kidding.
But that’s such a great idea because who cares? Who cares? The whole goal is present information so people listen and absorb it. It doesn’t matter how you present it. The way that they absorb it the most is the most effective way. I have to believe you nailed it, so that’s super cool, man. Have you always been creative, outside the box kind of person? I mean it within reason because you’re still in accounting. It’s like a red dye instead of a —
Terrell: I will say it was something for me that kind of developed a little bit more over time because for me, over time, I got frustrated with I guess just being bored trying to learn different stuff whether it was accounting or whether it was English, Math or whatever it was. I got bored very easily. I’m like, there has to be a way to bring a little bit more entertainment into this. So for me, it developed more and more over time by me just getting frustrated with being bored.
John: Yeah. I can relate 100% because it’s like, there’s got to be a better way. That’s pretty cool, man. Then it went from college into the real world then. Now, it’s mostly the podcast or are you doing other things as well? Did it go straight from — is that the first thing you went into or were there other steps along the way?
Terrell: I went quiet on it for a little while because at one point, I felt like okay, all right, this doesn’t really fit the world that I’m in. There’s an expectation, but I just got to a point where I’m just like, you know what, there’s a bunch of people around me that aren’t getting what we’re trying to learn. Let me just bring it back. I started doing videos, just like I said, recording videos of just talking about different business topics. Then I started to branch it off with a podcast of just interviewing other people.
Now, I guess since so many people have seen the content, now people reach out to me about different subject matters. They’re like, “Hey, this is my audience. I need some ideas about how to do this.” I’ve worked with some people that are writing children’s books like, “Hey, how do I get my message across?” because that’s what they realized. They were like, “Regardless of what you talk about, I can’t even stand accounting, but I actually enjoy your videos.”
John: Right. That’s awesome. That’s a huge compliment. That’s the people that email me about the book. They’re like, “I’m not a reader, but I just accidentally read it cover to cover.”
John: Mission accomplished. Done. The AICPA should hire you to recruit people. Then all of a sudden, they get in there and they’re like, “Wait. This isn’t what Terrell said. This is not at all what the brochure says.” That’s super cool to hear, man. Yeah, it’s just bringing your personality to it. Do you prefer the video to the audio?
Terrell: To me, it’s gotten to the point where both are kind of the same. I have no preference over one or the other. Now, I will say doing the video takes a bit more work and editing. So I will say time-wise, the audio is much easier to do.
John: Yeah, definitely. I just have a face for podcasts. That’s why I’m nailing it. Especially when you’re doing interviews, you have to have guests that show up that also look good as well as sound good. I mean good video quality I guess is the way I meant to say that before we get all Twitter happy in the world.
That’s super cool and cool to hear. That’s got to be really rewarding when people not only watch it, but then say that it made a difference in what they’re thinking or they actually absorbed the information.
Terrell: Yup, I agree. It is very rewarding just to hear people that don’t have a similar background say, “Man, I’ve learned so much from you” because even on LinkedIn, I’ve had executives that aren’t in the finance and accounting field reach out to me to say, “Hey, I love what you’re doing. This really helped me out a lot.” I think there was one where there’s a guy who was in finance. He said, “Seeing you do your video…” He got laid off from his job. He’s back in the job market for the first time in 15 years. He was like, “Seeing you get out there and really just be yourself,” it gave him the confidence he needed to go back into the job market. I’m like, I did not expect that to be the outcome.
John: That’s awesome, man. You never know who’s listening or who’s watching or how you’re able to make an impact. That’s fantastic, really fantastic. Do you feel like this at all translates — of course, you’re talking about finance topics, but the skill and the ability to create this content, do you feel like that translates to work at all?
Terrell: I think it definitely does. When I’m working with a client and I’m trying to pretty much just tell them, “Hey, here’s the story that your financial statements are saying,” I think about it like when — I like watching comedians and really understanding how they take you from just a common phrase to a killer punch line. If you watch it, it’s like they’re taking you on a journey and you end up where you’re just laughing hysterically. I think about the same way even in business when I’m talking to a client or whether I’m talking to the Board of Directors. My goal is to take you on a journey through the information so that at the end of it, you get my punch line and you walk away with some value.
John: Exactly. We can all laugh at your negative accounts receivable or whatever. “You’re bankrupt.” I’m kidding, man, but a punch line in a sense that it’s not a joke punch line. This is where we’re trying to get to and where I need you to get to. As a comedian, you see a picture and you need to paint that picture for the person that’s listening, the audience whether it’s one or it’s a hundred or a thousand. You have to paint that picture for them and get them to where you already are. That’s exactly what you’re doing and that’s cool, man. That’s exactly it. That’s skill you’re exercising outside of work so then when it’s go time, it’s like, “I do this regularly. We could do this.” That’s really cool.
When you were doing some of this, before you created TL Turner group, was it something that you shared at work some or did you just keep it on the down low?
Terrell: Well, I kept it strictly on LinkedIn because I just kept doing the videos there on LinkedIn. As I started to connect with more people from work on LinkedIn, what ended up happening was actually, the CEO came to me because he saw it. The CEO and I guess the Chief Sales Officer, they were the founders of the company. They saw it and he was like, “Hey, I saw your video.” In my head, I’m thinking like, “What does that mean? That was all?”
John: “You’ve got to say more.” There’s another line there whether it’s good or bad.
Terrell: So the Chief Sales Officer, he saw it. Him and I were talking and he was like, “Hey, what’s the deal with the videos?” I was like, “It’s something I started doing.” He was like, “I really like it. It’s really good stuff. Me and the CEO are talking about it and it’s really good. You’ve got to do some of that stuff here.” I was like, “Oh!” That’s the rest of the story.
John: There we go. Okay. Thank goodness. That’s really cool because what are the odds that the CEO talks to you about something anyway? Typically, we have this mentality of if someone high up comes to talk to us, we’re in trouble. It’s like the principal in high school. The principal never talks to you if you did something well. That’s neat because then it breaks down that hierarchy to where you’re not just a number or an analyst or whatever. It’s Terrell. “Go talk to Terrell” and vice versa. That CEO and sales executive are just regular people, too. That’s neat. Did you end up doing something for the company?
Terrell: I didn’t do anything specifically for the company, but I took some of the topics that — let’s say for the sales team, we were trying to navigate some changes in accounting standards or whatever. What I like to do is just take something that’s completely unrelated but people understand whether it’s playing football or whatever, just explain the analogy and then connect the dots. People are like, “Oh, I get it now. It makes sense.” So I started doing some videos on the type of topics like some of the metrics that we were watching like why would it be important. I started doing videos on that.
What I noticed is more and more of the employees of the company started watching, responding, and then it started just expanding that way, so more and more people started really engaging with the content.
John: That is incredible, man. So then people that are in other departments that had no idea who you were before now know your name.
John: That’s pretty neat. I had a similar thing except for it was an Onion kind of newsletter that I did every month that made fun of everything. Yours was way more productive, but either way, you have people that remember you and know you now. There are even people that worked with you that were like, “I had no idea that you had this skill or this talent” type of thing. Do you feel like places where you worked where people didn’t know, was that better or worse? In what way was it different to the people that did know and were able to talk to you about those outside-of-work interests?
Terrell: I think for the people that did know, it made it a lot easier to develop relationships with people because I think no matter what capacity whether you’re running your own business or whether you’re working for another company, relationships are going to be a very big part of how you progress in that. Like I said, if you need to execute on a decision, you’re probably going to need the cooperation of other people. If they like you then hey, things will go well. If they don’t like you —
John: There’s going to be work.
Terrell: As more people started seeing it, I think, and more people started finding out about it, I noticed it was so much easier to just have a casual conversation with people. If I use an analogy of let’s say about Star Trek or whatever, someone who I didn’t know like Star Trek, we were able to have a conversation about it because they’re like, “Hey, he likes Star Trek, too. We could talk about it” or something like that.
John: Yeah, it’s such an icebreaker there. It’s so weird how just having a conversation about something outside of work is just supernatural. As soon as you start talking work stuff, it gets weird in a hurry and I don’t know why, but it does. So starting with that outside-of-work interest whether you like Star Trek or not, it’s still — I know Terrell likes Star Trek. “Hey, I saw this thing about Star Trek” and then it’s probably Star Wars and you’re like, “Oh, now I’ve got to explain it again.” That’s neat to hear, just those relationships. Yeah, work is easier when you actually get to know each other, which unfortunately, no one ever really tells us anywhere, but yeah, it’s so true. It’s so true.
How much do you feel like it’s on an organization to create that environment? It sounds like where you were, you share these passions, and as a matter of fact, don’t just talk about them. Go use them to do something for the company versus how much is it on the individual to maybe just create that little circle amongst themselves if the culture doesn’t give you permission, if you will.
Terrell: In the environment we live in, because for some strange reason, it almost seems uncomfortable or people aren’t sure that they can really be themselves or talk about something other than work. I think companies, they do have a responsibility, I guess, to at least start the ball rolling in that direction. One of the companies I was at, what they started doing is the HR department encouraged people to — I guess they had this little randomized system where it put people who want to participate, put their names in and it will pair you with someone, and you just go get coffee with them for like 15 minutes.
John: That’s awesome.
Terrell: It just paired you with some random person. So you go get coffee and you realize, “Wow, we have a lot in common. I would have never talked to this person before,” but I think just having some tool like that to just start the ball rolling. But then I think it really plays big for the actual individual to have, I think, more responsibility to actually just have the conversation. Just start initiating that and move out of what we think is the acceptable norm and just really start to get to know people for who they are.
John: Now, that’s such a great example. I love that so much because it not only encourages it to happen, but it’s giving you permission. It’s like, “Look. HR says we have to get coffee.” That’s 15 minutes we’re not working. So at least at that, it’s a win. You’re going into it winning, but then you get to meet someone and know someone and they’re in a different department and a different building and a different whatever. It’s like, wow, this is cool. Who knows when you have to interact with that department again? “Now, we’re friends. I’ll just go ask my new friend” type of thing. That’s such a great example that everyone can do tomorrow. Well, it’s Christmas Eve, but still, tomorrow.
That’s a great example and really cool, but I agree with you. It’s on the individual because so many people sit around waiting for permission. It’s like, well, you’ve got to jump in too and pull your side of it. Do you have any words of encouragement to anyone listening that’s like, “Hey, I’ve got a hobby, but no one cares” or “It has nothing to do with my job?”
Terrell: I would definitely say from my hobby of creating content, when you start putting yourself out there, a lot of people have fear about, “If I put myself out there, people are going to find out about it. They’re going to look at me and say I’m not working as hard because I’m doing my hobby.” That was one of the things that even some people told me when I first started creating video. They’re like, “Well, you want to be careful how much you share that because then people may question your ability at work.” I was like, “You know what? Forget that. I’m just going to do it.”
John: Good for you, man. Good for you.
Terrell: I think that when you really start to put serious energy into the hobbies or things you like whether it’s talking about sports or whether it’s skateboarding or whether it’s cooking, whatever it may be is when you really start to find something you enjoy doing. I think there are so many transferable skills that will be taken back to what you do to where I believe you will become better at your day job when you really start to take your hobbies and appreciate them and enjoy the journey because you’re going to learn so much about yourself. You’re going to learn so much about your craft and learn so much about the skills that you have that you weren’t able to use any other way.
John: Yeah. Wow. That was it. The podcast is over. No more episodes. That’s as good as it gets, man. No, you nailed it. Exactly. Because at the very least, it humanizes you, but you know it the best. It’s a skill that then you’re able to use at work to make you better at your job. So either way, you’re being better at your job. That’s awesome to hear that that’s been your experience as well. That’s super cool.
I don’t know why it is either. Just in our heads, you were just like me where it’s like, “Well, forget that. This is what I do.” It’s not like it’s illegal or a detriment to the company or whatever. It’s what I love to do. Kudos to you for pushing the naysayers aside. Who cares? Good things happen. Meanwhile, those naysayers might be completely forgettable. The CEO remembers who you are. I guarantee it. There are a lot of people that he or she doesn’t remember unfortunately, and that’s just the way it works. Good for you, man. This has been awesome. So much fun.
Before I wrap this up, it’s only fair, I feel, that I allow you to question me since I so rudely peppered you with questions in the beginning. It’s another episode of The Terrell Turner Podcast. It’s has nothing to do with his Business Talk Library because this is much less professional, but here we go, Terrell. Fire away.
Terrell: All right. I want to ask you, who’s your favorite college football team?
John: Oh, Notre Dame. I don’t have to think about it. Hands down.
Terrell: Awesome. I want to hear about that. I saw a post that you recently did where you had a bear costume on. You’ve got to give us the backstory.
John: Okay. Yeah. I was hosting a virtual CEO forum. It was 800 CEOs and 14 states and five countries, I’m pretty sure. They had the CEO of Insperity, a huge, giant company. He actually created it. Now, it’s billions of dollars big.
John: With a B. He did a keynote piece and then there was some workshop stuff, but they had a break. Coming out of the break, they wanted me to also do something funny. When you have CEOs, it’s kind of like — so I interviewed 20 or so CEOs and just asked them a series of questions. Only really two of them I was interested in. The other ones were just to soften them up. Then it was kind of like, “If there was a product that made being a CEO better, what would it do?” All the answers I got were hilarious. “I wish that I could have just a bunch of hats because I’m always having to wear a different hat. So then everyone will know which hat I’m wearing. Then they can not talk to me because I’m wearing that hat” or “A headband so I could read people’s minds.”
Of course, the next guy is like, “Whatever that’s not a mind reading thing because I don’t want to know what my people are thinking unless I can read my dog’s mind” or a magic wand. Somebody was like, “I wish I could just shut up so I could not interrupt my people when they’re asking me questions because I already know what the answer is.” The last one was feelings because somebody was like, “I don’t feel the feelings, so I need someone to tell me what feelings are.” Well, that sounds terrible.
It was kind of a Saturday Night Live version where I played some of the video pieces, and then it came back to me with CEO buddy. So I was CEO buddy and I had a onesie bear costume. I was wearing eight hats with a headband and a magic wand then I had duct tape so you could shut up while your people are talking, and then the bear because I feel all the feelings. It was completely ridiculous. It was silly and funny, but it was about the CEOs. So in the chat, people were like, “Oh my God, this is hilarious.” It’s exactly what we talked about earlier with you. I could have stood there and just told them about depressed stuff, but do it in a creative way. That’s definitely one of the two things that they’re going to remember from the CEO forum, was the freaking weirdo with the bear costume. Mission accomplished.
Terrell: Now, I would say the last question is when you think about all of the presentations you’ve done, what’s been one of the wildest, creative approaches you’ve taken?
John: Oh, that would be pretty high on the list. I think almost all of them, I come at them in a different way, which makes the audience engaged. Typically, I show one of my music video parodies up front to be like, “Here’s the preview.” “Oh, this is different. I should watch.” Then I come out up top with some comedy and then some stuff about the group, about the people there. So then it’s, “Oh, this isn’t just a cookie cutter presentation. This is for us.” So then they know like, “Oh, wow, he did his homework. We should probably pay attention. This is different. Plus, maybe he’s going to say my name. I better listen to what he says about me,” that type of thing.
Comedy-wise, probably my favorite one, it was a finance group in Bermuda. I’m sure they did everything shady, but they were so cool. It was such a great audience because it was people from the UK, people from South Africa, people from the islands plus Canada. It was international-type people. People from — well, I didn’t know this, but there were people from — they were from Ethiopia. I did a joke about I just ran a marathon, half marathon, and I found out I’m not the very fast runner because the winner was already back in Kenya, and they jumped up. I thought they were going to fight me. It was like five dudes. They were just excited that anyone said any country near them and it was hilarious. Oh my God, it’s so funny. In America, someone’s going to be offended at that joke. They were like, “Yes! Oh my gosh! This is amazing” because it’s not offensive at all. It was true. I’m really slow and the winner was from Kenya. These are facts, people.
Terrell: I think that is hilarious. My wife was born in Kenya, so she’s half Kenyan, half Nigerian. We joke about that all the time. Whenever there’s a marathon, I always tell her, “There’s no point in watching. We know who’s going to win.”
John: Exactly. Your cousin’s going to win. Everybody knows. What’s even hilarious is I went to Kenya. The Ugali, I think it’s called, it’s like cornmeal kind of mashed potatoes, cornmeal type of thing, it’s funny because it’s only really in the Maasai Mara — those are the runners. They’re all tall and lean and whatever, but most of the Kenyans I saw, they’re not running anywhere. It’s because they eat that. And because I ate it, I was like, oh, man, I don’t want to run at all. I thought this was going to give me super energy and I was like, oh my gosh. It’s super funny. But it is cool to just interact with different cultures and also see how they perceive jokes are just jokes. There’s no agenda behind it. It’s just funny, and then next joke, here we go type of thing, which is cool. That was really refreshing. Yeah, it’s super fun.
This has been great, Terrell. I really appreciate you being a part of What’s Your “And”? Thanks so much, man.
Terrell: Hey, no problem.
John: Everybody listening, if you want to see some pictures of Terrell in action or get links to his content or connect with him on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. Everything’s there. And while you’re on the page, please click that big button to the anonymous research survey about corporate culture and buy the book. I’m telling you, it’s good.
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.