Episode 577- Rani Puranik
Rani is a CFO & Singer & Dancer
Rani Puranik, CFO for Worldwide Oil Field Machine Inc., talks about her passion for singing, dancing and how she feels her creativity gets her in touch with herself. She also talks about how her company encourages their employees to embrace their hobbies, be their authentic selves and why that can be crucial both personally and professionally!
• Getting into singing and dancing
• Awareness in the office
• Opening a dance school in Texas
• Her first performance
• Authenticity is your power
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about Corporate Culture!
7 Letters to My Daughters: Light Lessons of Love, Leadership, and Legacy
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Episode 429 – Jennifer Todling
Jenn is an Accountant & Dancer
Jenn Todling, an Audit Partner at EY, talks about her passion for dancing and how she feels it helps her perform better at her career, how she established an identity at the workplace with her passion, and how she encourages her co-workers to open about their own passions!
• Getting into dancing
• Some of her favorite performances
• How dancing has helped her be better at her job
• Teaching co-workers to dance
• How both the organization and the individual play a role in company culture
• How she encourages co-workers to be open about their passions
Please take 2 minutes
to do John’s anonymous survey
about Corporate Culture!
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Welcome to Episode 429 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, also called What’s Your “And”? It’s on Amazon, Indigo, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop, a few other websites. All the links are at whatsyourand.com. If you want me to read it to you, that’s right, this voice reading the book, look for What’s Your “And”? on Audible or wherever you get your audio books. It 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, Jen Todling. She’s an audit partner with EY in their Tysons, Virginia office, and now she’s with me here today. Jen, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Jennifer: John, it’s so great to be here. Thanks for including me.
John: Absolutely. This is going to be so awesome. Before we get into the really cool stuff, we’re going to do some minor cool stuff, get to know Jen on a new level here.
Jennifer: I can’t wait. Let’s go for it.
John: Here we go. I’ll ask you. Favorite day of the week.
Jennifer: Ooh, Saturday.
John: Saturday. There you go. Solid answer. I agree. That’s mine, too. How about puzzles, Sudoku, crossword or jigsaw?
Jennifer: I don’t really like puzzles, but if I have to do one, probably jigsaw.
John: Okay. All right. Fair enough. Fair enough. How about a favorite color?
Jennifer: Purple, absolutely purple.
John: There you go. How about a least favorite color?
John: Oh, brown. Yeah.
John: Right? That’s a pretty popular least favorite color answer. How about cats or dogs?
Jennifer: Definitely dogs, although I don’t have any right now. I used to have four. They were my first fur babies.
John: There you go. Yeah, dogs are awesome, for sure. How about a favorite actor or actress?
Jennifer: I love Hugh Jackman and Matthew McConaughey.
Jennifer: I have to go for J.Lo because my nickname is Jenny from the block. I have to start with J.Lo. J.Lo is my inspiration.
John: There you go. Alright, and she’s a dancer too.
Jennifer: Exactly. Exactly.
John: There you go. That’s awesome. This is one someone asked me, and I like to flip it back now is socks or shoes.
Jennifer: I very rarely wear socks. It’s kind of a running joke in my house. Definitely shoes. I go for the flats that I do not need socks with.
John: That’s hilarious. That’s awesome. That’s so good.
Jennifer: I wear shoes.
John: Yeah, there you go. How about books, audio version, e-book or real book?
Jennifer: Definitely real books. Definitely real books. We run out of bookcases in my house. I just keep buying them, so, 100% all the way old school.
John: That’s awesome. How about a favorite number?
John: Yeah, is there a reason?
Jennifer: Maybe it’s superstitious, but my sister got me into the whole 11-11. It’s like blessings from above. I don’t know. There’s something there. Anytime I see 11 or 11-11, there’s something there that’s magical.
John: No, it’s great. Number one is good, but two number one, why not?
Jennifer: Exactly. Why stop at one?
John: Right? There you go. How about your first concert?
Jennifer: Oh, New Kids on the Block.
Jennifer: Yeah. Awesome. Then I saw them again, I think the year before I turned 40, so, bringing it full circle there. They all aged a little bit, but it was still pretty good.
John: That’s awesome.
Jennifer: Yeah, definitely the biggest New Kids on the Block fan. It was amazing.
John: New Kids, yeah. That’s fantastic.
Jennifer: Product of the ‘80s and ‘90s.
John: Yeah, yeah, totally. Shifting gears, balance sheet or income statement.
Jennifer: Balance sheet.
John: Balance sheet. There it is. Yeah, because then you know if it’s right or not.
Jennifer: Exactly. It’s one period of time, simplify it.
John: Right, right. There you go. How about a TV show you would binge-watch, maybe of all time?
Jennifer: I’m a pretty big reality TV fan. I like them all. I don’t discriminate, but I do like some good reality TV.
John: My wife got us on the Married at First Sight. That’s the only reality show I watch.
Jennifer: Oh, yeah. 90 Day Fiance, it’s every Sunday night. I’m bringing it down to my house. I do like reality television, just helps me zone out a little bit.
John: Yeah, and any of those marriage ones makes me seem so much better than what I am. Look how good I am.
Jennifer: You really do appreciate your life when you walk away from that.
Jennifer: And then you can never go wrong with Friends or Sex in the City. Those are a couple of my favorites too, if I’m going to just binge-watch.
John: Yeah. Okay, solid answers, solid answers. How about Star Wars or Star Trek?
Jennifer: Star Wars.
John: Star Wars. Yeah, me too.
John: All right, I’ve got four more. PC or Mac for your computer.
Jennifer: I’m a PC girl.
John: Yeah, I am, too. I don’t even think I’m cool enough.
Jennifer: I don’t know how to do the Mac. I want to do it. I think they’re pretty cool, but I don’t know how to do it.
John: I think that’s just like a marketing ploy. I’m not sure. Or at least that’s what I tell myself because I’m not cool enough.
Jennifer: Yeah, I haven’t figured it out yet.
John: How about diamonds or pearls?
Jennifer: Diamonds. Diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Right?
John: Right, right. It’s right there.
Jennifer: It’s right there. It’s obvious.
John: There you go. Two more. Favorite ice cream flavor.
Jennifer: Rocky road.
John: There you go, a classic.
Jennifer: Or anything with chocolate. Yeah.
John: Right. Yeah, that’s a classic. The last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.
Jennifer: My passport.
John: Your passport. Oh, solid answer.
Jennifer: Although it hasn’t gotten a lot of use in the last year and a half, but that’s okay. Better times are ahead.
John: Exactly. That just means that there’s space so you don’t have to get a second one.
Jennifer: There is.
John: There you go. That’s a good answer. Let’s talk dance. How did you get started? Did J.Lo teach you herself? No, I’m just kidding.
Jennifer: I know. I’m waiting for that moment, that Masterclass to come out.
John: Yeah, yeah.
Jennifer: It’s interesting. If I look back when I was just a young girl even, just sort of preteen, I always love to dance. I don’t know if you remember Star Search, but I was addicted to Star Search.
John: Ed McMahon.
Jennifer: Yeah, Ed McMahon, and I was watching it whenever it was on. I would take the routines and memorize them. I started teaching my whole neighborhood kids and my younger sister, these routines. I was a coach and a choreographer. I think I had a little bit of formal training when I was five and then I didn’t have any formal training. I just was self-taught, super passionate about it, had the flyers for the neighborhood talent show. When I was 14, which is a really late start to start dancing, I started professionally training as a ballerina and jazz dancer. I was part of a company, and I worked really hard, 15 hours a week, training ballet, jazz, all the disciplines, and was in the pre-professional dance company, doing The Nutcracker and Swan Lake and all the things. It always was such a core part of who I am and what I’m passionate about, and I think it’s just been a balance of that technical or the intellect side and the creative side. It really was a good outlet for me, creatively. So, my whole teen years, I was dancing, and that was really just who I was and what I lived for really.
John: No, that’s awesome. I would imagine that it’s a little bit harder when you come in, at that age, because everyone else has been, all the basic moves and all that. You’re like, I didn’t see this on Star Search. That was not… Right?
Jennifer: I know. It’s funny. I danced on pointe. I didn’t have the feet that were perfectly arched and all of the technique, but I just worked really, really hard. I didn’t have a lot of money, growing up. I got scholarships. I did work-study to teach, so I could support my training. Looking back, it’s pretty incredible, just really a five-year period, dancing at a pre-professional level with not a ton of experience and training. It was just the heart and the passion. I loved it. I had really wonderful teachers and really good…
John: Yeah. It’s awesome. Giving you props, that’s not easy at all, especially on the pre-professional level. This isn’t a rec league, go into the whatever, the rec center in town and whatever. No, this is legit. Do you have any cooler memories of shows that you did or things that were some of your favorite experiences?
Jennifer: I wasn’t in competition. I realized that, even later as an adult, I really actually do not like to compete. I am not a very competitive person, but I love to perform. We had a lot of performances. I think one of the ones I really loved is my local town had a carnival, and we were the entertainment for the carnival, in that stage, doing parades, different kinds of ways to showcase. I love doing The Nutcracker every year. I was the mechanical doll, and having that solo was just really fun. Just being a part of the local community and being able to perform and express myself. I also used that as a way to give back. I was a part of an organization that helped support teenagers in crisis. It was a youth-based organization. Part of the fundraising efforts is, I became the artistic director for this organization, and we put on an entire production of A Christmas Carol in a musical form. I choreographed, recruited non-dancers, men and women, and created that for the community to support this organization. That was a really cool way for me to create my own thing as an 18-year-old.
John: That’s really cool. It just feels good to see these people that you know have gone through some stuff, to be able to shine and perform and share the joy that you get out of being onstage as well.
John: That’s amazing. The mechanical doll, that’s a full-on solo. It’s just you, and everyone’s looking at you. That’s really cool.
Jennifer: Yeah, I still whip it out periodically. I still know that routine. She just stares at me. I still break out the pointe shoes periodically too, because my feet hurt very badly when I do that, but you’ve still got to show that you can keep up with it.
John: Show yourself, even, at the very least.
John: Yeah. That’s awesome. Do you feel like any of this translates to work? Clearly, it was a passion. You were driven. It was who you are, as a person, even still today. Sometimes there’s an accidental byproduct that, oh, wow, there’s actually a skill here that translates to my corporate life. Do you feel like any of that crosses over?
Jennifer: Yeah, I do. It’s interesting. I didn’t fully appreciate that until maybe six months ago in the middle of the pandemic, where I stopped dancing just because everything shut down, and I found an outlet to pick it up again in January, because studios started transitioning to go virtual. I started taking classes again, with my favorite teachers in New York, hip hop. I started to realize that as I was engaging in that part of myself again and using a different part of my brain, it actually was making me better at my job because it was turning off that default task-oriented piece. It was opening up the creative insight moments where you get those a-ha moments. I was like, oh, my gosh, I’ve been missing this. I didn’t fully appreciate that it was helping me integrate more of my brain, and it was challenging me to learn choreography again, and have to just work differently. It made me appreciate that, in a work setting, you can’t just be focused only on completing tasks because you miss half of the power of insight and perspective, and that’s so crucial in what I do. So, absolutely, there’s a ploy in there.
John: Yeah, that’s huge. That’s a huge insight to have. That’s awesome. Like you said, when you just have your head down, you’re in the trenches, just get your work done; and it’s like, no, no, no, there’s all this stuff that’s happening that’s actually richer and cooler. Even as an auditor, you need to sense those things, but even just a relationship with your colleagues or coworkers, yeah, you miss out on that. That’s cool to hear that you recognize that.
John: It’s amazing how easy it is to just slide down that slippery slope and just get stuck in the, well, it’s work. It’s like, yeah, but it doesn’t have to be.
Jennifer: Yeah, and this one because it’s so active, and there’s an exercise component. I think, for me, my path as a partner, it took me a while, and I’m still on the journey to figure out my own vitality and what I need to be at my peak performance. Obviously, exercise is a key component of that. So, it helps me also just to have my mind in the right space to be able to manage the stress and manage the pressure productively because you just need that outlet. Absolutely, there’s a benefit to being able to integrate that in some way.
John: Yeah. Is this something that you talk about at work, or that people know about, the dancing side of you?
Jennifer: Yeah. It’s funny because when I, so I grew up in Colorado. I moved, my sophomore year of college, to California. I finished school in California, and that’s where I started my career. I didn’t dance for a decade. I did not dance in my 20s. I think there were just personal situations. My life just didn’t really accommodate it, and I kind of lost that. When I got an opportunity to move to New York and do a rotation on our national office, I was in New York City, this is the artistic capital of the world. I expanded myself to learn ballroom, and I became addicted. I was at the dance studio every single night, four, five hours, doing the classes, the parties. I would walk to the studio near the Empire State Building. Our office was Time Square, ten-minute walk. Pretty quickly, people started, in my second chapter at EY, started to recognize me in that realm because that’s clearly what I was spending my nights and weekends doing. Also, I did a rotation at the SEC, and I got known for that as well, and even found opportunities to teach some of my colleagues, dance.
John: The SEC ballroom dancing. This is incredible.
Jennifer: Yeah, so if I think of my most proud moment in my career, it probably was teaching, at that time, the chief accountant and some of the commissioners, how to do the salsa. My husband came with me. We were the entertainment for the Chinese New Year celebration. We did a little instruction. That, to me, was so cool to be able to integrate it. That’s how I got this Jenny from the block, or JFTV brand because like, I’m sorry, I’ve got to go to dance class. That chapter here that I’ve been on the East Coast, I’ve definitely grown back into redefining myself and realizing this is who I am, and I need to embrace it.
John: No, it’s so true. It’s also pretty interesting to hear, from all of your career, all of the things that you’ve done, it’s teaching others how to dance is the thing that stands out the most. That’s really deep, when you think about it. Yet, there isn’t a charge code for that. It’s not on any annual review, but that’s the stuff that we’re going to remember. It’s the stuff that they’re going to remember about you too, for sure. That’s awesome.
Jennifer: Yeah. I remember when we had my goodbye party, when I was going to the SEC, and I was leaving New York. One of the stories that was told, because we did a roast and the other partners shared their experiences, what they remember of me was we had this big deadline. We’re trying to get something out the door. I’m in the office, and I’m like, hey, I’ll be right back. I need to just go do a Paso Doble really quick at the EY’s Got Talent Show across the street at the American Airline theater. I just got to go do my Paso Doble and then be back online in a couple hours. That was such a cool experience. I got the experience to dance on Broadway, literally, and grateful for EY for recognizing, giving people an opportunity to share their talents. That’s what I did. I did my makeup. I walked across the street, put on my costume, did my performance. They had popcorn, all the things, and then came back and worked till whatever, midnight, whatever to get the thing out. That was a really memorable experience of, again, integrating that and then just going for it too, because that was just such an enriching period of my life, personally and professionally. I really appreciated that opportunity.
John: Yeah. It’s so cool to hear. Just curious, to compare and contrast, that’s ten years where you weren’t dancing, compared to then or even now, what is the difference? It seems palpable. It seems like it’s very clear, black and white, but a lot of people get stuck in that I’ve got work to do, work, work, work, work, work or work, more work.
Jennifer: Yeah. It’s 100%, night and day. Part of that was I had some challenging circumstances in my life, so that was sort of a dark chapter for me, in general.
Jennifer: I will say, the more I’ve been able to just expand and indulge in those areas that I’m passionate about, I’m definitely more fulfilled. I’m definitely happier. There’s more purpose. It’s busy. There’s a lot going on. I think I’m better at my job because it’s not all that I have. There’s more to it.
John: There it is. That’s the magic right there. My ultimate dream is that organizations track their people’s passion hours. There’s actually a charge code for your dancing. If you don’t have these many hours in the year dancing, then you’re not as good at your job as what you could be. Whatever your passion is, if you’re tracking everything else, why not track the important stuff?
Jennifer: I remember reading that in your book, and I highlighted, underlined, I 100% agree, because it also just shows that there’s value in that. This isn’t something you’re just fitting in because you have something, and it also encourages other people to have something. There’s more to life than just working. Everyone has special talents or skills or interest, and it’s important to nurture those. I love that concept.
John: Yeah. How much do you feel like it is on the organization to create that atmosphere where sharing and shining a light on these “ands” is the thing, or how much is it on the individual to either plug into that or start their own little circle?
Jennifer: Yeah, I think it’s probably something both parties need to be mindful of. For me, the way I look at it is, I want to feel comfortable being myself at work, in all aspects. I want to feel comfortable sharing the things that are important to me. I want to work for an organization that values that and has a culture that supports and wants to know who I am as a person, not just what tasks I can complete in my job.
For me, it’s part of that creating that culture of belonging and inclusion where everyone feels welcome. I think organizations can do that. They have a role in supporting and encouraging that and celebrating it. EY’s Got Talent Show. We did one, in person, before the pandemic. We just did one through the pandemic, and everyone submitted their videos. My husband and I did one. So, looking for opportunities to celebrate that, it’s fun. Everybody wants to have fun. We all want to see different things. Even if we’re not participating, it’s cool to see that.
As an individual, it’s been a journey for me. I’m still evolving as a person, but getting more comfortable, just being authentic in who I am and saying, I’m not just single dimension, I’m multidimensional. That what’s your “and” has really resonated with me. It’s not either-or, it’s and. I’m a partner, and I’m a dancer, and I’m a mentor, and I’m a coach, all the things that are important to me. That shifts with time, but I think it’s on both parties to recognize it and to make the time for it. It’s your life, and it’s your happiness. It’s important to prioritize that.
John: No, that’s so cool to hear. Yeah, you’re right, almost both sides hold each other accountable, type of thing. If the organization isn’t doing it, then it’s up to the people to be like, yo, yo. If the people aren’t doing it, then it’s up to the organization to say, hey, what’s going on? Do we need to make time for this? Why are you not making time for this? It’s just cool to hear your journey and how enriching it is, to have these other dimensions to you, and how much it just makes you better at work and better in life, really, at the end of the day.
Jennifer: Yeah, and I think it’s made me a better team leader too. I try and ask questions to understand what makes people tick, and what do they care about, and to pay attention to that, and ask, are you honoring that? Are you making time for that? It could be personal. It could be professional. Some of my team members love to teach. I’m like, hey, did you get on the roster to teach this year? Or how’s your basketball game going? What does that look like? Because part of it is we don’t work for big companies, we work for people. Having those connections in the relationships are so critical, so you have to know your people. This is one element to get to know someone. Even my new team members that I haven’t met in person yet, I ask, hey, what do you like to do outside of work? What does that look like? That just helps me understand what’s important to them better.
John: Yeah. Read more FASBs? No.
Jennifer: No. But you know what? Some people do really like to read them. They do, and that’s fine.
John: Yeah, exactly.
Jennifer: You’re right, everyone is a little bit different.
John: Keep going. There’s something else. That’s so cool to hear that that’s what you do. It’s such a simple example for people that are listening right now. They’re like, well, I don’t know how to do this. You just take five minutes and ask and have a conversation and be genuinely interested.
Jennifer: Exactly. None of this is rocket science. That’s what I always say when we talk about how do we help support culture, because that can feel really intimidating and scary. It’s simple. It’s just like asking a question. You don’t have to have an answer. You’re just listening, genuinely listening. It’s just a simple things that can make a big difference. Like peloton, peloton craze has been insane with the pandemic. I’ve seen people start their own, even some of the working mom groups I’m a part of, let’s start our own peloton group. Just simple things you can get on the bandwagon and just create something that’s a little bit different.
John: Yeah, and connections that are beyond just the work connection type of thing, which I find, then critical feedback isn’t so critical. The working relationship is better and stronger and smoother. Just so many good things come from just such a simple concept. It’s cool to hear that it’s in the real world too, type of thing, and not just my head. That’s awesome. Before we wrap this up, because this has been so awesome, do you have any words of encouragement to anyone listening that maybe feels like they have a hobby that has nothing to do with their job, and no one’s going to care about it type of thing?
Jennifer: Yeah. I guess my advice is invest in it, prioritize it, spend time. It might be hard to do that, but do it anyway. It’s still vulnerable for me to come out of my shell. I’m going to teach a dance class this week for my coworkers. I’m going to record a video to kick off the summer. I’m nervous, I’m vulnerable, but I’m doing it anyway. I would say, do it anyway. You can let fear, you can let all of that get in the way, but that’s not fun. So, get out of your comfort zone, go for it, just have fun. You’re not going to regret it.
John: That’s awesome to see because you on that video is going to be the most lit up that you could possibly be. For other people to see that, that translates through even video, to see, wow, Jen is on fire right now. This is what really lights her up. It’s infectious. People want to hear more about that or see that.
Jennifer: I love that you just said that because I think that’s so true. Every time I get feedback of, wow, that was so cool to watch, or, wow, you just seemed so authentic; that’s reaffirming to me that I’m on the right path. You’re absolutely right, there’s an energy there, when we’re just living our authentic lives, we’re going for it, we’re just out there, that is contagious. It’s really fun. I’m on my own journey of embracing the energy, embracing the vulnerability and just going for it. That would be my advice. Think less, do more.
John: Yeah, I love that. That’s so great, so great. Provided you get your work done. There’s that part but, of course.
Jennifer: Yeah, you still have to get your work done. You still have to get your work done.
John: Yeah. I just want to make sure, for people listening that haven’t read the book or haven’t, yeah, this assumes that you’re all good at your jobs. You’re getting your work done. You’re not interrupting other people getting their work done. This is all assuming all the basics.
John: Yeah. That’s so great. I feel like, before I wrap this up, though, I so rudely peppered you with questions at the beginning, that I feel it’s only fair that we turn the tables, the first episode of the Jen Todling podcast. Thanks for having me on. I’m all yours. What have you got?
Jennifer: All right, John, sweet or salty snack.
John: Oh, sweet, all day. Yeah.
Jennifer: Favorite vacation spot.
John: Oh, wow. Costa Rica is pretty awesome, but the flight’s a little long. I’m lazy, so, a Cancun or a Cabo. Because in Denver, on the West Coast, I’ve never lived West before, until several years ago when I moved here. It’s such a short flight that it’s like, oh, man, yeah. You’re there in like three hours, at the resort. Okay, I can do this. Yeah, that’s always a nice little getaway, and it seems exotic because it’s another country.
Jennifer: Cancun is one of my favorite places. I have flown there from Denver, so I completely relate to that.
John: Yeah, yeah.
Jennifer: All right, one more for you.
Jennifer: What’s the best advice you ever received?
John: Oh, wow. The best advice I’ve ever received, is, pretty much, don’t take the advice if you don’t want to do it. It’s almost like, if you didn’t ask for it, and it’s not someone that you respect, and it’s not helping you, then don’t take it. Don’t listen to it. Do your thing. When you ask for advice from people that you respect and admire, then take it to heart. If it’s random people, when I did comedy, you’re just out, after the show, in the lobby, saying bye to people. People will say things to you that I’m not sure if they practiced in their head, what was going to come out. You get a pretty thick skin, and you’re just like, you know what, I really don’t care. I’m doing what I do, and there’s plenty of people that do like it. If you’re a train wreck of a person, clearly, listen to some advice, but do you and then find your place where you fit. So, don’t listen to all the advice is my advice, including me saying that advice, don’t listen too, in a weird Matrix kind of a thing.
Jennifer: I think that’s true, though, and like you just said, you do you. I think that’s really important.
John: Yeah, I’m a fan of that. Jen, thank you so much for being a part of What’s Your “And”? This is so awesome to have you be a part of this. Thank you.
Jennifer: Thanks, John, for having me and for writing the book and encouraging me. It’s great to have cheerleaders out there for everyone, so, really appreciate the opportunity to be here today.
John: Totally. That means so much, for you to say. Everyone listening, if you want to see some pictures of Jen in action onstage or maybe connect with her on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. Everything’s there. While you’re on the page, please click that big button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture, and don’t forget to read the book.
Thanks again for subscribing on iTunes or whatever app you use and for sharing this with your friends so they get the message that we’re all trying to spread, that who you are is so much more than what you do.
Episode 283 – Mariette Martinez
Mariette is a Financial Educator & Salsa Dancer
Mariette Martinez talks about her early days dancing at rave parties, putting together the salsa popup dance party at a conference, and what it takes to build a great culture at the workplace!
• Getting into dancing
• Salsa popup party on YouTube
• How finding joy in your life can lead to professional success
• What holds people back from being open
• Building a great culture in the workplace
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to do John’s anonymous survey
about Corporate Culture!
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Master Your Books
Salsa Popup Party at 2017 Scaling New Heights
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Welcome to Episode 283 of What’s Your “And”? This is John Garrett. 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 differentiates you when you’re at work.
I’m so excited to let everyone know that my book’s being published very, very soon, and it’ll be available on Amazon and a few other websites. Check out whatsyourand.com for all the details. I can’t say how much it means that everyone that’s listening on the show and changing the cultures where they work because of it, and the book will really help to spread this message.
Please don’t forget to hit subscribe so you don’t miss any of the future episodes of the podcast. I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week. This week is no different with my guest, Mariette Martinez. She’s a financial educator and accountant near Los Angeles, California, and her birthday is in two days. Oh, my goodness, and now she’s with me on What’s Your “And”? Mariette, thank you so much for taking the time to be with me here today.
Mariette: Thank you so much for having me, and right before my birthday. I’m super pumped.
John: No, I’m so excited to have you be a part this. I know a lot of your friends, and you’ve been a long-time listener as well, so thank you for reaching out and being like, “Hey, I want to be on too.” This is so perfect.
Mariette: You know what? You have so many cool kids, I just have to be part of it. I’m feeling a little left out, so thank you for bringing me in.
John: You’re the president now. You’re the president. All right. So you know, 17 rapid-fire questions, get to know Mariette at a new level here.
Mariette: I’m a little worried about these because every time I’ve heard them, I don’t know how these people answer them. So, let’s go. Let’s do it.
John: Okay, I’ll do an easy one. I’ll do an easy one. Cats or dogs.
Mariette: I’m not really a pet person.
John: Okay, people, people?
Mariette: People person, yeah, I have a lot of people in my life, so, people, yeah.
John: All right, how about a favorite number?
Mariette: Yeah, seven.
John: Okay, is there a reason?
Mariette: Yes, because it took seven days to make our life, this earth and everything that we breathe, so, seven days, seven life, my favorite number.
John: No, that’s most popular number, for sure, but I’ve never had that reason. That’s really great, really great. Okay, how about least favorite vegetable?
Mariette: I think anyone I can’t pronounce usually.
John: That’s great. I love that. Because then you don’t have to order it because you don’t even know how to say it.
Mariette: Exactly. I don’t know how to say it, so I don’t feel bad that I’m not eating it. There you go.
John: I love that answer. That’s so good, so good. How about Star Wars or Star Trek?
Mariette: I’ve never watched either of them, sorry, guys.
John: Okay, no worries. Fair enough. How about your computer, PC or a Mac?
Mariette: PC, for sure.
John: PC. Yeah, me too, me too. How about on your mouse, right click or left click?
Mariette: I’ve never really understood that question. It’s just my finger goes where it’s supposed to, so I guess, left, I think.
John: Left. You just make a decision. I can click on that. Bang. There you go. I love it. Oceans or mountains.
Mariette: Definitely, oceans that have mountains around it because I like hiking.
John: There you go. Okay, but do you like to look at the ocean while you’re in the mountain?
John: Okay. No, that works. California is good for that. How about a favorite adult beverage? And don’t even tell me you don’t do adult beverages.
Mariette: Yeah, I do do adult beverages. I feel really fancy when I order a martini.
John: Yeah, it does sound fancy, doesn’t it? That’s great. How about balance sheet or income statement?
Mariette: Oh, well I need to love both, so, both. Can I say both?
John: Okay, trial balance? You need everything?
Mariette: Let’s just say TB. Yeah, we’ll go with that.
John: All right. Pens or pencils.
Mariette: If it’s a really good pen, pen; but I love being able to erase and restart, so, pencil. I’m making this really difficult. I’m choosing both.
John: No, that’s fine. It sounds like an enrolled agent to me.
John: Well, it depends.
Mariette: It depends. Yeah, let me go back and look at that.
John: How about puzzles, sudoku or crossword?
Mariette: I like it much more simpler, just something you can buy in a box and put it on your table and make it.
John: Jigsaw. Okay, all right, jigsaw.
Mariette: Yeah, I’m a jigsaw kind of girl.
John: All right, this is super easy. Favorite color.
Mariette: Definitely, and I know some of your guests are going to be irked, I love hot pink actually.
John: Okay, okay. Fair enough. How about least favorite color?
Mariette: If I had to choose, it would probably be black because I love color.
John: Interesting. All right, okay. How about chocolate or vanilla?
Mariette: Can I mix it together and have a swirl?
John: Oh, fancy.
Mariette: I like to swirl it up.
John: Okay. All right, I see where you’re going here. How about a favorite actor or actress?
Mariette: Ooh, that’s a great one. Let’s go back to Al Pacino.
John: Solid answer, solid answer. We’ve got two more, two more. Early bird or night owl.
Mariette: Both. I get up about five in the morning and I stay up until close to 12-ish.
John: Wow, you are a robot. That is amazing.
Mariette: I like to think Energizer bunny actually, but.
John: Okay. Yeah, if I did that, I would just sleep during the day and then be like, yeah. I’m up at six. I’m awake at midnight. Because you’re awake at night.
Mariette: Yeah, I’m awake at night pretty much. This is saying that.
John: Excellent. Favorite thing you own or a favorite thing you have.
Mariette: A favorite thing I own is my own life, and a favorite thing I have is my family.
John: That’s very good. Just in case they’re listening as well then they don’t kick you out. And especially you, I mean, it sounds like, with all your aunts and uncles and cousins, how many?
Mariette: Well, my mom immigrated with 14 siblings, so I have 14 aunts and uncles, and we have over 500 cousins. That’s first, second and already third generation.
John: Holy cow. Wow.
Mariette: Yeah, pretty much I have my life set with my family.
John: Very cool, very cool. Yeah, that would be pretty awesome to have as well. So let’s start dancing.
Mariette: Yeah, let’s start dancing. We were talking about it earlier that what brings me joy or what brings joy around other people with so much family members when there’s really not too much more to do, you dance. You just put the music on, or you bring a mariachi in or a big band. We love to bring the bands to our party, and we just dance. We just jam it out, and that’s it.
I dance for fun. I danced when I was younger. My daughter dances now. She’s 14. Honestly I love dancing wherever I’m at. I was a club kid in the ‘90s, so I used to go to raves, and I’d dance at the raves. I’d get there at two in the morning and danced until 11 in the morning. I danced at conferences. One of your guests, Byron Patrick, he’s my dance partner, so if he’s listening, Byron, see you at the next conference.
John: I would pay good money to watch Byron Patrick dance.
Mariette: He’s a pretty good dancer. He’s a lot of fun.
John: He seems more like a stand and clapper there guy.
Mariette: Yeah, he’s a clapper, but he’s putting his arms up.
John: Oh, man, this is so good.
Mariette: It just brings a lot of joy to people. One time, with my partners, I have a bilingual platform called “Tu Tres Maestras,” we had a pop-up salsa party at Scaling New Heights in 2018. It’s on YouTube if you want to watch it.
John: Very cool. Is it just like, hey, we’re doing this salsa party and everybody come?
Mariette: You know what? It was a super — I don’t know if you guys ever seen The Simpsons where they actually had a pop-up party. It’s this really funny episode where the whole episode was about how he wanted to have a party, so he started sending messages. At the end, they had this pop-up party at this random place. It was pretty much like that.
Since the day of the conference started, we started texting people and putting things on Twitter and on social. Then on the second day of the conference, at 6:00, in an actual, one of the rooms where we taught, we moved the tables and the chairs. We put on Despacito on the video, and we actually had a salsa party. We had over 100 people in there, and it was really amazing. That was one of those times when you ask for forgiveness, not for permission.
John: Oh, totally, yeah, which is very un-accountant of you.
Mariette: Yeah, it was very un-accountant of me, but there was a lot of accountants, a lot of partners in there, half partners. It was a lot of fun. Again the footage is on YouTube if you want to go search for it.
John: That’s awesome. We’ll definitely have a link from whatsyourand.com. People can go and just click the link there, for sure. That’s so great.
You just grew up from going to family gatherings and the mariachis and the bands and just everyone dancing and just getting into it. Did you ever do formal dance as well like what your daughter’s doing now?
Mariette: I never did formal dance. My parents, they actually were competitive in salsa dancing. One of my nieces, my sister’s daughter was also competitive, she still is, in salsa dancing. I never went competitive. I just honestly did it for a lot of fun. Now my daughter, she also does it for fun. She’s been in hip-hop now for a year. I don’t think she ever wants to really go competitive. It also brings her joy, so that’s why we do it.
John: No, that’s exactly it. I mean, it doesn’t have to be competitive. It doesn’t have to be for money. It doesn’t have to be anything like that. It’s just, you’re taking lessons so you become better. That’s great. Even if you don’t do lessons, it’s like, I just love to dance, and I should be teaching the lessons. Pretty much, that’s…
Mariette: You know what? If you bring me on for a Follow-Up Friday, let’s say, two, three years from now, my dreams or passions is not to teach dancing but to teach Zumba because I like crazy dancing. That’s one of my goals, so let’s see if I meet them in a couple of years. I do want to become a Zumba instructor, so we’ll see.
John: No, that sounds very awesome. It’s something that, like you said, brings you joy. How important is it, do you think, for professionals to have something that brings them joy, whether it’s work or, more than likely, something outside of work?
Mariette: Yeah. I would say more than likely, something outside of work, but eventually you can bring it into work. I think it’s critical. I think it’s critical for sustainability in yourself and believing in yourself and growing yourself. I’ll just give you an example.
About five years ago, I’ve already had my business for seven years, and I was just burned out, been in the accounting industry for 15 years, had my own practice for seven years, and I’m like, what’s up with this? I’m a pretty joyful person. Again, I’m a dancer. I jam it up. I’m just not feeling like dancing.
So, I started learning more about how to bring more joy, how to transform your life, how to focus more on your why and your purpose. That was critical to me being where I’m at now. So I think it’s critical for you to actually continue being an entrepreneur, being successful is to make sure joy is a huge part of it.
John: Yeah. That’s really powerful, and just to hear your story from that. Because it’s so easy to let professionalism just suffocate what we love and what we want to do and who we really are because we think we have to act a certain way or do certain things or whatever. We forget about those things that bring us joy, which is so powerful to hear. Joy is deep. That’s a big thing.
Mariette: I think it is a big thing. I think that’s what it is too, is I think that this idea of a professional and a personal life — you actually recently put a tweet on there, and I said I kindly have to give you some push back. I don’t think there’s such thing as a personal and professional life. We live blended lives every day, more every day.
When we have to work with so many different people and we have to believe in inclusion and really opening ourselves up to a bigger world, it blends everything that we believe in. It blends our beliefs, our values. We have to align more with that, and that’s very personal, like you said. That’s deep. We’re talking about deep connections.
So, yeah, I think that we need to be more open, to understand it’s okay to be professional, but to bring that personal uniqueness into your world is what brings the joy into your world.
John: That’s huge. It’s also what differentiates you. When you’re an accountant, let’s be honest, there’s another accountant within a block that does the same work you do pretty much. When clients are looking for work or when you’re looking to attract and retain talent as you grow, what’s the difference between your firm and the next one? Well, if you have no answer there, and it’s not the work that you do.
On the rare one-tenth of 1%, a person that’s a wizard at something, okay, I’ll give that to you, but for the other 99.9% of us, no. There are other things to us, but even if you do have that thing, what is the joy, and where are you getting the joy in your life?
Mariette: I love when you mention, let’s say you put ten accountants in a room and you ask them to tell you about themselves, the people that say, “I am an accountant, and I do this,” you lose those people. The people that say, “I believe in this, I am helping this community,” those are the people that you’re going to pull towards because you want to work with people that have a belief, that are passionate, that have a purpose.
Everybody could do anything, honestly. Let’s be honest. But do you believe in it so much that you are just that green apple? That was your first name of your podcast. How are you really differentiating yourself? How are you that — the other one is the purple cow. How are you the purple cow? How are you sticking out? So, don’t be afraid to say, “I believe.” Truly, what do you believe in? Because I want to follow someone that has beliefs.
John: That’s great. Yeah, that Seth Godin book is so awesome. In there, he says, “If you’re not standing out then you’re completely invisible,” which is so good. What do you think it is that holds people back from wanting to share that or wanting to open up like that?
Mariette: Yeah, I love that question. Honestly I think it is that disbelief or that limited belief that as soon as you get personal, people are going to pull back. Actually it’s the complete opposite. It’s as soon as you get personal, you actually draw people in. We have to share that.
That’s actually one of my biggest passions is sharing that when you actually share what you’re about, that draws the right people in, but you need to be open to do that. That’s why, again, I’m so honored and thankful to be here, John, because you gave me the opportunity to share what I believe, and those people that like it or are drawn to it or resonate with it, they’re going to now connect with me. Right?
John: Absolutely, because you could help or be around anyone but you want to be around the right people. The other people are going to drag you down. They’re going to suck the joy out. It’s going to be exhausting. It’s going to be frustrating and all that. Going back to the dancing, do you feel like there’s a skill set or a mindset there that you bring to the accounting work that you do?
Mariette: Yeah. It’s funny you bring back the dancing because just think about dancing. For instance, I teach a lot. I am part of the Intuit Trainer/Writer Network, so I create a lot of content for them, write for them and teach a lot of their courses, both live and at their conferences. If you see the feedback, people will say, “Oh, my God, she’s so enthusiastic. It sounds like she’s dancing. She has so much joy when she’s speaking. I can connect with her.” To be honest with you, ladies and gentlemen, I actually have a standing desk. I stand and dance all day long.
Mariette: So, if you are watching or listening to one of my trainings, I am probably dancing or at least moving around in the background. Obviously that can help. So, yeah, I definitely think it’s that mindset that, it’s okay. You can be happy and excited about what you’re doing, but more importantly, if you’re not happy or excited about what you’re doing, what’s wrong? What’s going on? How can you change that? Because you can change that too. You don’t have to be stuck in misery.
How do you change that mindset and be open to, now, having a happier, joyful, abundant life? Absolutely. I think dancing gives that to you. If you want to bring some kind of joy, even if it’s something small, just start moving around. Get that blood moving. Let that blood flow.
John: Yeah. Even if you’re not good at it, if you’re having fun, who cares? That’s the thing. We’re so worried that we’re still in sixth grade, and everyone’s judging each other and going to shove you in a locker or whatever, just pass notes around about you or whatever. It’s like, yeah, I’m not a good dancer, and I don’t care.
I love how you said that where if you don’t have joy, then find something that does and then bring it to other source. Work can bring joy, for sure, but there are times where it sucks. It’s hard and busy season or whatever. If you’re able to bring that dance to it, then it’s not as painful for you and also everyone around you.
Mariette: Exactly. You know what? When you’re working with people that bring you joy too, for instance, I love the fact that we were talking about dance and talking about dance and work at the same time. That could be a great conversation starter. Hey, what do I like to do? What do you like to do? Now you have an opening.
Sometimes also, when you said, what will draw people back to get more personal, they don’t have an opening. They don’t know how to start. They’re like, well, where do I start? Start with something you like to do. Then ask the next person, “Well, what do you like to do?” Right?
John: That’s a great tip. Yeah, because the reciprocity, they feel like they have to share then.
John: And it’s also you being a little bit vulnerable first. It’s not like you’re going to ask them, they’re going to answer, and then you’re going to laugh and point fingers and run away. It’s like, no. It’s amazing sometimes what our subconscious does to us to sabotage cool things, which is really, really a shame. Is this something that you do talk about? I mean, clearly, you do because you started a pop-up too.
Mariette: Yeah, I do. I do talk about that a lot. I’m in a few groups really deep into my heart. I’m in a women entrepreneur group with over 60 women, and we talk a lot about mindset and joy and being in our zone of genius and our zone of excellence and our zone of joy. We talk a lot about that. I like to share about it through all my social media. If you follow me, you’ll hear me say that a lot.
I even talk about it daily to my family, to my kids. They get home, and I’m like, so, what was cool about today? Not, what happened? What was cool about today? I try to bring that happiness out because nothing is cool when you’re a teenager sometimes.
John: Right, right.
Mariette: I try to pull it out of them. Don’t tell me the bummer stuff. Tell me what was cool. That’s where the conversation starts.
John: Yeah. Wouldn’t it be awesome if a public accounting firm or a professional organization, whatever, an office, at the end of the day, the manager is like, “Okay, what was cool about today?”
Mariette: Isn’t that cool?
John: How great would that be if people did that, and how simple is that?
John: What was cool about today? Someone is like, “Well, we didn’t kill each other.” Okay, well.
Mariette: Well, John, you just gave me an idea. Imagine if you’re trying to bring that to your culture because company culture is so big. You’re talking about, how do we keep working on the mindset from a company perspective? It’s building your culture. But just imagine walking outside of the door, every time you walk and leave, there’s a big sign that says, “What was cool about today?”
John: Yeah, yeah.
Mariette: You leave with that in your mind. You leave with that, driving home to your kids or to your families. If you see that — or put it on a Post-It on your rear view. What was cool about today?
John: Yeah, exactly. Then cover up the whole rear-view mirror so that when you get pulled over, you’re like, “But, officer, you don’t understand. I did this macro, and it was amazing.”
Mariette: Put it up. Put it on your rear-view mirror right now. Put it on your radio. Put it somewhere.
John: Yeah, yeah. No, but that’s such a great idea. I love that because what if? What if? That would be a cool place to work. How much do you feel like it’s on that organization to create that culture and maybe have these signs or whatever, where it’s cool for people to share outside-of-work passions, or how much is it on the individual?
Mariette: Honestly, at this point, I think it’s probably 90% on the culture. If you want to build that culture, you do need to go over and beyond to bring that to them every day. I think, little by little, you’re going to gradually see that the team is going to just incorporate it, whether they’re going to just start asking the questions back or whether they’re going to start doing some organic just collaborations. Hey, I hung out with John today after work. We were talking about what was cool about what’s going on with our culture.
It will happen. If you build it, they will go. They will get to it, and it will start becoming something natural to them, but absolutely it’s on the company to do it. Go back to the example, walking out and seeing a big, ugly, white wall or walking out and seeing this whole message saying, “What was cool today?” So, I think the company would do it, and they’re going to feel it. The people will feel it.
John: Yeah, I believe what you’re saying, for sure. Because, like you were saying about the asking for forgiveness instead of permission, so many of us operate in a permission-based world where, well, they didn’t say we could. Yeah, but they didn’t say we couldn’t. At no point was there, you can’t use a conference base for a pop-up salsa dancing. You never told me. What do you want from me? Did we break anything? No. What’s the damage here? Nothing. If anything, it’s the opposite.
Now, it’s cool. It’s on YouTube. Everybody knows. They know the name of the conference where it happened. That’s where cool stuff goes down. So many of us operate in asking for permission, but if you give them the permission, if you build the sandbox, if you will, then it’s like, okay, anything in here, go nuts, play.
Mariette: I think you closed it perfectly when you’re like, that’s where cool things go down. So, someone needs to do it. In the case of me, yeah, I did a pop-up party, but now people are going to be like, that’s where the cool people are. That’s where people can get away with having salsa parties. So, now, they’re going to attend that conference.
Even if the host didn’t necessarily give you permission to do it, I probably brought more people to the conference for the following year without really intentionally doing it. That’s exactly what that does. It brings in people you want to align with your business, with your culture, with your long-term plans and goals.
John: Yeah, and I mean whether it’s a conference, whether it’s an organization that’s every day. Yeah, and if somebody’s out there and they’re like, I hate salsa dancing, well then don’t come. I don’t care. Don’t work here because if you work here, you’re not going to be a right fit anyway because if you don’t like salsa dancing, then you’re not going to like Mariette; and if you don’t like Mariette, then you don’t like these other 99 people. You’re eventually going to get angry anyway, so we might as well filter you out now. Instead of being for everybody, let’s just figure out who we’re actually for and then go love them even more.
Mariette: I love that. Oh, my gosh, I’m so into that. Yes, love even more the ones that are your people. Absolutely.
John: No, no, that’s awesome. Do you have any words of encouragement to anyone listening before salsa pop-ups start happening in all the conferences everywhere?
Mariette: I would say the words of encouragement is just to break down really what we were talking about, is that everybody has something in them that they love doing, and I think sometimes we forget. We haven’t done it for a long time. You’ve had some guests here that have talked about things that they haven’t done in years or even decades, but when they start doing it again, they feel alive.
I’ll just give you an example of Kristen DiFolco. You had her, and I was so touched by her interview when she started talking about singing. It really brought me in because it helped me to remember. Am I still doing things that bring me joy, that I love doing, that I can bring in to my, both, personal and professional life, which I call the blended life?
You all have it. Every single one of you guys have it. You just have to go back and sometimes go real far back and remember what it is. John made me go back to the ‘90s when I was raving and dancing. He said “Really tell me what brings you joy, what makes you get on fire.” I’m like, well I used to be a raver, a club kid in the ‘90s. Is that cool?
John: But it leads out to so many other things today even, your love of dancing even in your home and then sharing that with your daughter and going to see her perform and living vicariously through that and your family events and all that.
This has been awesome and so much fun. It’s only fair that since I started out rapid fire questioning you with all these hard questions, now you’re the host, and it’s your birthday. Why not? So, two or three questions, anything you want to ask me, and I’ll let you be in charge.
Mariette: I did have a question for you, and I want to find it because I — oh, yes. The first one was this one. First, I wanted to ask you, why do you do rapid fire questions?
John: Oh, okay. I do it because I think it’s a really fun way to just get to know someone, off the bat, with just some mostly surface level questions that might lead to something where you’re like, I would have never guessed that. Somebody, what’s your favorite band? They’re like, Slipknot or some heavy def, metal, whatever. You’re like, what? You’re a managing partner of a law firm. I would have never guessed that. Or something where you’re just like, that’s cool. You just get to see different sides of people.
I think it also loosens people up where it’s like, okay, we’re just talking about silly stuff, but it’s actually who you are. I try not to have my questions be super, super deep because that’s not the purpose for this podcast, but certainly, you can have questions that are like that, that are –plus, those would you rather sort of questions are super fun too.
Mariette: Yeah, and I love that. Actually, I love your answer because especially, I’ve heard you say, when people say something, you’re like, “That’s cool.” I love that. You’re kind of shocked, but then at the same time, you’re impressed. Oh, I would have never thought that about you. That’s awesome.
John: Well every answer is cool. It’s like, oh. Especially when, pens or pencils, and people are really particular about, well, it’s got to be this kind of pen and this kind of thing. I’m like, wow, you really love your pens. It’s cool.
Mariette: The next one was, what is the craziest response you’ve ever gotten to a rapid question?
John: Oh, craziest. Yeah, I guess it would probably be like a band or musician kind of question. I’m trying to remember. It was something like that where it was like a very heavy def metal sort of band that you wouldn’t expect any professional type person to be, just stereotypically. Oh, I didn’t see that one coming.
Or sometimes too, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own, those are really touching. It’s something that someone’s grandfather passed down type of a thing, or grandparents gave me when, whatever. Those are pretty cool answers as well.
Mariette: This is one that I really wanted to know. Since you started the podcast, how, or if, has this happened, has your “And” changed, has it evolved, and how?
John: Mine is definitely college football and ice cream and music. Those have definitely always been there even when I was a kid and to now. I would say mine hasn’t changed, but my confidence and my message has definitely gotten stronger because I see that I’m not the only one. There are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of us.
My own research has showed that it’s like 92% of us that have something, so we’re actually the stereotype. We’re the norm. It’s by far, the most — I mean, it’s not even close. It’s not a 50-50. It’s 92 to 8. For too long, that 8% has bullied the 92 to think that if you don’t have something, or if you do have something outside of work, then you’re less dedicated to your job. You’re probably not very good at it. You’re less professional and whatever.
In my research and other studies that I’ve done that when I speak, it’s the opposite. Like you were saying, you think people are going to run away. They don’t. They run to you. If anything, it’s just my confidence has gotten stronger, and hearing your story today, it just helps that, to hear, when you were burned out and all that, what did you turn to? More accounting? No. You turned to dance.
John: You still did the accounting just fine, but you don’t double down on the thing that’s not maybe the source of total joy at the moment. Dance always brings you joy. You’ve never once danced and be like, I probably should — well, maybe in those raves — you’re probably like, well, maybe I shouldn’t. You’re like, oh, it’s noon, and I’m now just going to bed. You’ve never danced and once regretted it, or been like, that didn’t bring me joy.
Mariette: Exactly. I love that. I love the confidence that that’s brought you. I agree. I love how we can evolve in our “And” or even strengthen our “And” based on learning from others or hearing other stories. I think that’s awesome. Thank you. I love it.
John: Yeah, and it can definitely change. It can definitely change for people. It’s just mine are pretty generic, so it’s easy. So, that’s cool. This has been so much fun, Mariette. Thank you so much for taking the time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Mariette: Thank you so much. I had so much fun. Talk to you soon.
John: Awesome. Yeah. Everyone, if you’d like to see some pictures of Mariette or maybe catch that YouTube link or maybe connect with her on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. All the links are there, and while you’re on that 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.
Episode 238 – Lauren Thiel
Lauren is an Accountant & Dancer
Lauren Thiel, founder of The Real Thiel, an accounting firm for creatives, returns to the podcast from episode 71 to update us on her new dance company and how dance continues to impact her business!
• Opening a new dance school
• How dance continues to impact her business
• Finding new hires with creative passions
• Increased awareness of sharing passions in the workplace
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Welcome to Episode 238 of What’s Your “And”? Follow-Up Friday edition. This is John Garrett. This Friday, I’m following up with a guest who had been on the show a few years ago to hear what’s new with their passions outside of work and also hear how this message might’ve impacted them since we last talked.
I’m so excited to let everyone know my book’s coming out very soon. It’ll be available on Amazon and a few other websites so check out whatsyourand.com for all the details or sign up for my exclusive list. You’ll be the first to know when it’s being published.
Please, don’t forget to hit subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss any of the future episodes because I love sharing such interesting stories each week. This Follow-Up Friday is going to be no different with my guest, Lauren Thiel. She’s an accountant for creatives at The Real Thiel in Adelaide, Australia. I love that name so much.
Now, she’s with me here today. Lauren, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Lauren: You are most welcome.
John: Oh, man. This is so awesome. I remember the first time we chatted and it’s been three years since then. You were Episode 71.
John: Yeah. I know. It was so awesome hearing your whole story in the dance. But before we get into that, I have my rapid fire questions that we have to run through just in case I’d come down and join your dance troupe. That’s going to be a lot of time trying to teach me how to do this. Here we go. First one. If you had to choose. Harry Potter or Game of Thrones?
Lauren: Harry Potter only because of the last season.
John: Oh, yeah. Okay, okay. More heels or flats?
Lauren: Always heels. Oh, my gosh. I have my calf issues. It’s bad because of that.
John: Okay. How about a favorite Disney character?
Lauren: I don’t think I can pick one. Maybe Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty. I get nicknamed Sleeping Beauty.
John: That’s actually probably something more to brag about than anything to be honest.
Lauren: Literally, I started measuring my sleep because you get KPIs and I love it and like yes, I got 90% sleep last night.
John: That’s awesome. I’m very jealous of that, very jealous. More oceans or mountains?
John: Oceans? Okay, all right. But it sounds like it’s down the middle.
Lauren: Yeah. I’m not really a nature person. I’m city, bars, and dance floors person.
John: Right. How about brownie or ice cream?
Lauren: Ice cream.
John: Ice cream, okay. Good answer. How about a favorite movie?
Lauren: The one that always come to mind is Bring It On, but I don’t think it’s actually my favorite ever.
John: Yeah, but it’s a good movie and it pops in your head. There you go. The last one. Toilet paper roll. Over or under?
Lauren: Over always. Oh, my god.
John: I feel like you’re shaking your head right now and I can’t even see you.
Lauren: I’ll correct it if I find one. I will correct it.
John: Do you correct it and tell the person or you just correct it like a ninja?
Lauren: No, I just correct it. Let them find it later.
John: All right. Yeah. They’ll figure it out. Exactly.
When we chatted on Episode 71, it was so much fun talking about dance and that whole dance studio that you had created with some friends and the performances that you had done even at some corporate events and things like that. Is dance still a part of your life?
Lauren: Absolutely. I think a lot has happened since then. We actually had to shut that particular company down because we were arguably a big fan club for a particular artist. But basically, she didn’t like that we focused on her work and learned her dances, not that anyone would’ve been confused. We clearly weren’t actually her dancers but she wasn’t a fun of us like we were of her.
Anyway, we had to shut it down. We’re a phoenix from the ashes and we created a new dance school. We now just focus on all of the artists, all the top 40, big bangers that get you on the dance floor and still doing the same sort of like focus on feeling good about yourself, feeling good in your body, moving, fitness and empowering all people really like we tend to attract 25 to 40-year-old women but we’re totally open, diverse, inclusive, all that jazz.
John: All right. I will be there next week and we will make it happen. No, I mean John, we have to shut down. I’m sorry. We just closed.
Lauren: We clearly love dancing.
John: That would be super fun. I love that how it’s feeling good about yourself and its movement and it’s not like you have to be the superstar looks or the superstar moves. It’s you’re just out there doing your best and making it happen.
Lauren: Yeah, absolutely. Dancing is meant to be fun.
John: Absolutely. What’s the name of the new dance studio?
Lauren: That Dance Drop which is based on if a beat drops in a song or Drop it like it’s Hot. All those sorts of things. We patched some words together. There’s our new business. Done.
John: I like that. I like that a lot. Are you guys performing as well like?
Lauren: Probably like corporate gigs and stuff, we do our own showcases a year and Christmas party and every time we’re in town and there’s a song that we know, we will definitely take over the dance floor.
John: Right. It’s like a flash mob sort of a thing, like on accident?
Lauren: Yeah, free performance. You’re welcome.
John: Yeah, exactly. That’s really cool. Is the dance something that’s still you feel impacts your career in some way?
Lauren: A hundred percent. I mean my business is accounting for creatives. I think at the very least, it adds a bit of credibility to that and to me. I run a creative business. I’m in that space. I’m a performer myself. I understand the pressure and the exhilaration that’s around doing that. But also, I think it helps in terms of performance in sales, in pitching, in communication. Physical movement is one expression and there’s a lot of other things that we do in business that I think that has positive impact in.
On the other side, there’s also it’s sort of like there’s people who, in a creative mindset, who need to be taught in a particular way. Maybe they need visuals so they need them broken down into pieces. That’s just like teaching someone how to dance. You’re going to break it down to pieces, into different weeks, into different sections.
John: That’s really great. The teaching stuff, it’s really powerful because different people learn in different ways and you have to meet them where they’re at which is a similar thing to when you’re working with your clients. You have to meet them where they’re at.
Lauren: Yeah. I think too many big businesses don’t do that. They don’t actually look at what their clients are and how they work, and how they learn and meet them where they’re at.
John: Yeah, exactly. Even I mean because I know you have bigger firm experience prior to launching The Real Thiel. That happens so much in larger firms as well not just with clients but with their people. People have passions other than accounting or law or whatever your job is.
Lauren: Unbelievable. How can it be your only passion?
John: Right? I mean it’s crazy. Have you seen, since you were on the podcast, other people sharing their passions more?
Lauren: Yeah. I think so. I think you become more aware of it as well. People just seem to be prouder of that. That’s makes you a whole person. I’ve had my first employee, and I had him for a bunch of reasons. But one of the key reasons is actually that in his interview when I asked him like, “What are you passionate about?” he’s like, “I really love singing.” I was like, yeah, go human. Be proud of that.
Even like we talk on a Friday like what are you up to this weekend? He’s like, I’m singing at this wedding. It’s our first wedding. We actually share our passion. We’re lucky we’re working together and actually both being passionate about creative industry but I like that we can talk about those sorts of things and we can support each other if he’s got a big singing conference or excursion coming up or whatever.
I, as his employer can actually support him in that and same back the other way. Hey, I need Friday off because we got showcase rehearsals. We get that. That’s a part of your life. Let’s integrate it.
John: That’s really cool. Also, something that I’m sure that he really appreciates, you care about him as a whole person. You didn’t just hire the technical skills part. You hired all of him.
Lauren: In fact, I’d rather hire somebody because they’re a good person with passion and drive and energy about them. I can teach you the technical stuff.
John: Right, for sure. That’s really awesome and such a great example for people listening even though it’s a smaller firm. That doesn’t matter. You can extrapolate it out to thousands of people. It’s the same concept.
Lauren: Yeah, and I plan to.
John: Yeah, absolutely, when we do the next Follow-Up Friday.
Lauren:I’m on the road. I’ve got a thousand employees. I’m really busy, John.
John: Right. John Garrett who? I don’t even know. Delete. That’s awesome.
Lauren: No, I would never. I’ll always make time for you.
John: You’re too kind. Do you have any words of encouragement for everyone listening who thinks that their hobby or passion has nothing to do with their job?
Lauren: I think you need to think creatively about it and actually look at your particularly soft skills that you get from living your passion. Maybe it’s sport and you’ve learned drive and teamwork or it’s dance and it’s performance sales, communication, movement, body movement, awareness like absolutely you are learning something through everything you do in your life actually that you can apply for your work.
The other way is where like work is not your whole life. Have a passion that makes you a better person, makes you more interesting, gives you small talk. Clients love that.
John: Yeah, because I mean you know who else have passions outside of work are clients and co-workers and other people. Sure, there’s the 2% or whatever that their work is their passion and that’s fine, but the other 98% of us shouldn’t be shamed into that.
Lauren: Yeah, and share that, share that with your clients and your colleagues.
John: Yeah, because I mean before you know it, they’re in your dance studio and then there you go.
Lauren: Yeah. Eventually, you might be picking out clients at the dance studio and you might have accounting clients who want to come to your dance studio. You don’t know.
John: Exactly. Then you have a stronger relationship and you’ve lived it. That’s really awesome, Lauren.
Lauren: Yeah, thank you.
John: Absolutely. Congrats on launching the Real Theil and it being like flying now. It’s a real thing. It’s going. That’s really awesome.
Lauren: Oh, my gosh. Yes. Overwhelming, scary, exciting, awesome. I love it.
John: It’s got a killer name. There’s that.
Lauren: Thank you. That’s a great thing.
John: Absolutely. Before I wrap this up, it’s only fair I allow you to ask me some questions if you’d like, two or three rapid fire or whatever you want to fire away on. I’m ready.
Lauren: Okay. Favorite ice cream flavor?
John: Oh, okay. Favorite ice cream flavor. Probably Moose Tracks or chocolate chip cookie dough or something with chunks in it. I’m definitely a sucker for that. All the calories. All of that sugar.
Lauren: Go-to karaoke song?
John: Go-to karaoke song. Oh, gosh. Probably Young MC Bust a Move which dates myself.
Lauren: You could be getting on the dance floor.
John: Yeah, and it’s a funny song. I don’t have to be that good at it. It’s so good. I don’t have to be a singer.
Lauren: Not going for like Celine Dion or Mariah Carey song or something.
John: No way. Not for a second.
Lauren: When you go out, are you a dance floor moth or are you hanging at the bar?
John: I guess a little bit of both. I’m not in the center of the dance floor by any means but I don’t have a problem dancing and not being great at it. But yeah, a little bit of both, I guess but still on the edge of the dance floor I guess. I’m out there but not in the light. I’m tall enough that everyone sees me. It’s like, oh, the lanky guy. There he is. Exactly. It’s like why is that guy eating ice cream on the dance floor? It’s so weird.
Lauren: But it’s a chunky ice cream so it’s okay.
John: Exactly. This was so much fun catching up, Lauren. Thanks so much for being with me on What’s Your “And”?
Lauren: Thank you for having me again. I’ll see you in three years.
John: Hopefully sooner.
Everyone listening, if you want to see some pictures of Lauren in the action or maybe connect with her on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com and while you’re on the page, please click that big button and do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture.
Thanks again for subscribing on iTunes or whatever app you use and for sharing this with your friends so they get the message that we’re all trying to spread that who you are is so much more than what you do.
Episode 211 – Crystal Shin
Crystal is a Business Developer & Stage Performer
Crystal Shin, Director of Business Development at Goldin Peiser & Peiser, talks about her passion for acting and dancing on stage and how it has helped her skills in engaging new clients and improving presentations! She also discusses how Goldin Peiser & Peiser encourages employees to participate in non-profits and share personal experiences!productivity!
• Discovering her talent for acting and dancing
• Engaging an audience on stage or in a presentation
• 25 for 25 program
• Connecting with working parents
• How maturity can play into confidence in being open
• The extended family feel at Goldin Peiser & Peiser
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Welcome to Episode 211 of What’s Your “And”? This is John Garrett. Each Wednesday, I interview a professional who, just like me, is known for a hobby or a passion outside of work. To put it another way, it’s encouraging people to find their and, the things above and beyond their technical skills, the things that actually differentiates you when you’re in the office.
I’m so excited to let everyone know that my book is being published in just a few weeks. It will be available on Amazon and a few other websites. So if you want to check it out at whatsyourand.com, all the details will be there. You can even get in on some pre-sale stuff. I can’t say how much it means that everyone is listening to the show and changing the cultures of where they work because of it. It’s just so, so cool. So thank you so much for that. Don’t forget to hit Subscribe to the show right here, so you don’t miss any of the future episodes, because I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week. This week is no different with my guest, Crystal Shin. She’s the Director of Business Development at Goldin Peiser & Peiser in Dallas, Texas. Now, she’s with me here today.
Crystal, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Crystal: Woo-hoo! Thank you. Thanks for inviting me here. I’m excited.
John: I’m so excited to have you on as well. As you know, before we get into the fun stuff, we have to get to know Crystal on a new level here with my 17 rapid-fire questions. This could be the most intense thing you’ve ever done in your career, so I hope you’re ready.
John: I’m kidding. It’s so easy. Here we go. Chocolate or vanilla?
John: All right. How about when it comes to puzzles, Sudoku or crossword?
Crystal: Hands down, Sudoku.
John: Oh, nice. Okay. How about favorite color?
John: Nice. Okay, how about a least favorite color?
John: All right, fair enough. Cats or dogs?
John: Okay, how about do you have a favorite actor or an actress?
John: Ah, good answer. I like it. Everyone says that answer, by the way. No, I’m just kidding.
Crystal: Of course, right. Yeah.
John: How about when you’re on an airplane, window seat or aisle seat?
John: Aisle. All right. How about Star Wars or Star Trek?
John: None. All right. Fair enough. When it comes to your computer, more PC or Mac?
Crystal: Oh, PC.
John: Yeah, me too. How about on your mouse, left click or right click?
Crystal: Left click.
John: All right. I feel like you looked at your mouse as you answered that.
Crystal: Yeah, exactly.
John: Everyone does. It’s such a silly question. How about a favorite Disney character?
Crystal: So much. I would say Minnie and Mickey Mouse.
John: Oh, yeah, the classics. There you go. How about more diamonds or pearls?
John: All right. And now with your accounting background, I have to ask, balance sheet or income statement?
Crystal: Income statement.
John: Yeah, you’re like either one. I’m glad I’m not there anymore. Do you have a favorite food?
Crystal: Favorite food? That’s a good question. Any kind of Korean or Asian food.
Crystal: Okay. All right. That’s awesome.
John: How about a favorite number?
John: Yeah. And why is that? So popular.
Crystal: Just lucky seven.
John: Okay. Yeah, I know. It’s by far the most favorite number of all the numbers on here. It’s amazing. Two more. Toilet paper, roll over or under?
John: All right, and the last one. The favorite thing you own or the favorite thing you have?
Crystal: Slip pink dress that I wore in my wedding reception that still fits.
John: That’s fantastic. That’s really cool. Would it still be your favorite even if?
Crystal: No, no, no.
John: No, it would be in the garbage. It would be out.
Crystal: It won’t be with me no more.
John: Very cool. So let’s talk more about this acting and children’s ministry and just volunteering in general. How did you get into this?
Crystal: So I have been with the same church ever since I came from Korea here in Dallas. I’ve been just serving, somehow I got into the children’s ministry and started just as a Sunday school teacher. And then sometimes I’ll be acting here and there, and then somehow I got into the worship dance, so I’ve been dancing every single week. So it kind of got bigger as a —
John: It’s a slippery slope there, huh?
Crystal: It is, it is.
John: Once you do one thing, they’re like, I will get her on the other 15 soon enough.
Crystal: That’s how it goes in nonprofit. You put your feet in the door, and you’re just like all in there now.
John: But it’s so cool that you’re able to use those skills and those talents. Are they skills that you thought you had, dancing and singing and acting?
Crystal: You know what? Not so much. I just never knew that I’ll be doing so much of those dancing and acting and so forth. But somehow I think it just kind of grew in me while I was doing more of the children’s ministry. It kind of became more natural to me.
John: Yeah, because I guess it takes a little bit of practice.
Crystal: It did.
John: And then, I guess, with the children’s ministry, is it directing and being the choreographer for their stuff? That has to be a different level of patience and understanding.
Crystal: Yeah, but it’s a lot of fun. It’s like being a kid again, just dancing and singing around with the kids, just joyful. It’s just amazing.
John: And joyful. That’s not often a word that people use when describing their work.
Crystal: Oh, true.
John: Unfortunately, although it’d be pretty amazing if we started, or if we gave people reason to anyway. That would be awesome. Yeah, that’s what we should do is bring in more kids to the firm.
Crystal: I like that idea. We should.
John: Right now some managing partner’s hair on the back of his neck is standing up or her neck and just “Ah!” all the chargeability. But is there a more like a cooler or more rewarding moment that you’ve had from doing this?
Crystal: Most recently, I’ve been part of the Vacation Bible School that we just did a couple of months ago. Part of that we did a short children’s play, and I was the angel with like a cool long purple wig.
John: Oh, wow.
Crystal: So just being able to be somebody else, but really just connecting with the kids. It’s just so rewarding to me.
John: That’s fantastic. That’s really cool. And all the angels with the purple wigs.
Crystal: I know.
John: Yeah, we’re going all out on that. That’s awesome.
Crystal: It was the color and I chose the outfit and everything. So I was not the typical angel that you would think.
John: Why not? I guess it kind of goes parallel with how people think there’s a stereotype of something. And then once you actually think about it, or if you ask, why not, well, then there’s no answer. When people think of an accountant, they think of a certain thing, or a lawyer, they think of a certain thing, or an engineer or whatever. That’s this podcast has shown. It’s never what they think.
Crystal: That’s right.
John: Every once in a while, they put on purple wigs and dress up like angels.
Crystal: Yeah, it could be you, right? Just be yourself.
John: That’s true because what’s the worst thing that could possibly happen? You’re not going to get fired because of that. I mean, that’s crazy.
Crystal: Well, I’m still here. So I guess, that’s a good news.
John: Yes, exactly. Is there one that you prefer more than the other on the acting or the singing or the teaching the kids side of it?
Crystal: Well, I enjoy all of it, but I would say my weekly stuff will be more on the singing and dancing side. But I love the acting. I think it just gives me a different kind of energy when I’m on the stage, actually prepping with our team, just rehearsing until like two o’clock and just that teamwork and the sweat that you put in. And then once you’re on the stage, you’re pulling everything out together, I just love that feeling. So I don’t do that as much as I want, but I would say at least once or twice a year I do, and I love that. Whatever the tick that’s being with that, it just brings me joy.
John: Absolutely. Do you feel like any of that translates to a skill that you’re able to bring to work?
Crystal: Definitely so. As a business developer, I’m out there going about and meeting people, especially I’m meeting a lot of new people. When we’re meeting with new people, you just got to find a common ground, right? So anything you have to do is connecting with them. It feels like when I’m on the stage, when I’m acting, I have to connect and engage with those audiences. I think I’m doing the same thing, just not on the stage with the purple wig but in a different way.
John: Although if you did, that would be pretty awesome for business development. I’m not going to lie. Everyone would know you.
Crystal: Yeah, I should try that.
John: Yeah. But that’s an interesting point of how when you’re on the stage as an actor, an actress, that you need to make that connection with the audience. You’re there live and engage them in the same way one on one or one on a small group you need to do for work. That’s an interesting parallel there.
Crystal: And also, like, for example, when I’m putting out presentations or some kind of short speech introducing our firm, I think that the purple wig comes out again where it’s like, I can’t be just reading off the script and be boring. I have to be engaging with the audiences and kind of connecting with them. My presentation is never one of those like boring presentation. I make it very fun, engaging. I think that’s part of where I got that experience from the stage too.
John: Yeah, so it’s almost like one side even helps the other.
Crystal: Exactly. Mm-hmm.
John: They should all be not boring, all presentations. The fact that there’s such a small percentage of them that stand out as being like, wow, that was amazing, it’s like, well, it just didn’t put you to sleep. You actually paid attention to the whole thing. They should all be like that.
John: That’s cool that you put the time and the energy and the effort into there because that shows that you care about your audience enough to respect their time to want to give them something that they want to watch.
Crystal: John, how many times you’ve been in the presentation where it’s a technical presentation, so you’re getting CPEs out of it and you’re like bored to death, right?
John: Oh, all of them.
Crystal: All of them, yes. I hate it.
John: It’s so crazy. You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room. Just because of the material is boring doesn’t mean that you have to be. You can tell stories. You can give your own personal examples, your own experience with this. That makes it all fun and interesting to listen to. It’s funny because sometimes when I speak after the comments that the attendees give on their little evaluation form and sometimes people would be like, “It was silly.” I’m like, “Well, did you listen to the whole thing? Then a check and check.” What do you need? So that’s really cool that you do that. I’m sure that it’s amazing because all that practice and experience. If you were able to weave some dance into that, then I’d be like, all right, now we need to get this on YouTube.
Crystal: I haven’t incorporated the dance side with the presentation, but thanks for the idea, though.
John: Actually, my apologies in advance to you because I feel like I might awoke a dragon there. That’s really neat, though, and an interesting parallel there. Is this something that you talk about at work at all?
Crystal: I don’t talk a ton. It wasn’t intention that way. But actually our firm is celebrating our 25th anniversary. So one of the programs that we’re doing is called 25 for 25. So we’re putting like 25 hours in nonprofit organization, any one that you like, and spend 25 hours, and then we’ll give a donation to that specific organization that you’re wanting to provide the money to. As part of that, whenever we do volunteer work, we kind of have to share it with our team. I think that kind of open up can of worms. So some of the people kind of saw the thing that I was doing and was like, “What was that purple wig about?” It started the conversation there. But it was fun, just to see how people kind of felt about what they saw and so forth. But they were so interested in the fact that, “Oh, that is interesting. What were you doing over there? What was it like?” and so forth. So people were engaged. People liked it.
John: Yeah, and it opens up some really cool conversations, it sounds like.
Crystal: Yeah, yeah, it did.
John: And people that you’ve worked around for a while, I’m sure, and just no one knew that side of you. Were you nervous at all in sharing that?
Crystal: Not really. I wasn’t really nervous about it. I was nervous about the picture that I shared with our marketing team. So when they shared it, blasted it on our social media, I think they filter out the purple wig too, like the Facebook and more like corporate-looking one into the LinkedIn.
John: Okay. Right. Yeah. But that’s the one that people gravitate towards.
John: Because then it’s like, “Wait, what? What’s going on over here?” It’s not judgment. It’s tell me more about this. This looks cool.
Crystal: I know. Yeah.
John: That’s fantastic because that’s the kind of thing that typically people, they’re just reluctant to share historically because I don’t want to be judged, a million of different things. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, no one’s judging. It’s the opposite when you do actually open up. So it’s encouraging to hear that firsthand from you. That’s really neat. I think that’s so huge that you guys are doing the volunteer work, but the real benefit to all that is you have to come back to your group and share with them what you did. That’s where the power is because if everyone just goes off and does their own thing and no one shares or talks about it, well, then it might as well not happened.
Crystal: Yeah, one of the things, once you volunteer, you have to submit a form and then submit the pictures or videos where it shows that you actually did, not to audit it but really to share with our people and say, “Hey, guess what? Crystal did such and such with a purple wig. She was out there doing this.” It’s good for our team to see that yes, we’re not just the normal, boring accountants. We’re actually very special, in a way, every single one of us. And then also, we’re just giving back to the community.
John: I love all of it. That’s such a great idea and such an easy takeaway for everyone listening that they can bring back to their company, even in a small way. It doesn’t have to be 25 hours for some people, but that’s really fantastic. So has this at all benefited your career? I guess, obviously, the skill set is something that helps out. But as far as relationships go, are they different now that people have seen this side of you?
Crystal: I think people are more willing to be open, want me to share more of myself, like really be authentic and just be vulnerable and just say, “Hey, this is who I am. This is what I do on the side. Once in a while, you’ll see me like dancing around on the stage with the kiddos. That’s just me.” I have two young ones. I have a seven-year-old and four-year-old. I talk a lot about my kids at work because we connect at a different level, like working parents, we connect at a different level. Whenever somebody has a baby, I feel so sorry for them. No, I’m just kidding.
John: Right. You’re tired all the time.
Crystal: Yes. So it’s like I’ve been there, done that. If you need any help as a working mom or working dad, if you need any advice, I’ve been there, let’s talk. So just connecting at a different level. It’s more than just your work itself. It’s really connecting the life. It’s really brought great friendships with even my business contacts because I’m more open now than before, actually.
John: Oh, that’s fantastic. I loved how you said that. It’s more than work. It’s connecting new life, because there are so many more dimensions to you than just the accounting business development side.
Crystal: Yeah, very true.
John: So many more dimensions and percentage wise, the work side is such a small percentage of who you are as a whole. So once you get to know other people like that, then really cool things happen. If someone else is a dancer or a choreographer or an actor, a little bit of singing, whatever, now you have something to talk about, where before it was like, I forgot your name. Sorry. Well, not in your case, but I would do that.
Crystal: Yeah. If I show you the dance move, you’ll probably recognize me, right?
John: Oh, totally. I’ll never forget it. I’ll never forget it. I think it is easy for people — easier, I guess, for people to share about their children. I don’t know why it is, but for some reason, that leap from sharing about your children versus sharing about what you actually love to do as an individual. For some reason, there’s a huge leap there that’s hard for people to do.
Crystal: That’s an interesting point of view. I never thought of it that way, but I guess, kids regard as more natural part of your life, I guess, where hobby could be all different. Your hobby might be a little crazy like mine, or maybe it has different spectrums. I don’t know. Maybe that’s why people are not willing to share so much about their hobby. I’m just guessing.
John: Right. Because I guess they think that, well, everyone’s going to have kids, or they were a child at some point. Well, not everyone was an actor. Not everyone wore a purple wig. So there’s not that common ground. But the thing that I found, for me myself anyway, when I was at PwC and a comedian, clearly there’s no one else doing that, especially in my office. But what I found is that the more individual it is, the stronger it’s gravitated towards by everyone else, because I’m sure everyone knows about you and your acting because of that picture.
Crystal: Yeah, they started to recognize that and they’re like, “What were you doing over there?”
John: Yeah, yeah. Where if you’re like a golfer, it’s like, well, we got another 30 of those over here, whatever. I just think it’s so cool to hear that such a positive feedback happened when you did share, and it’s encouraging for not only you to be more open, like you said, but for others listening.
John: I think it’s great too that the firm is encouraging that. How much do you feel like it’s on an organization to create that culture where, hey, we’re real people, and share the other sides of you versus how much is it on the individual to open up and be a part of that or just create their own little small circle in a place that maybe frowned upon?
Crystal: I would think really the corporate culture dictates a lot of this where could you be really vulnerable and be yourself be authentic and show up as who you are in the workplace, or do you have to conform to this specific corporate culture that we’ve created in order to fit in here, right? So I think it’s more of a cultural thing within the corporate. So that being said, on the corporate culture side, I think a lot is coming from the one on the top. But at the same time, I don’t think you would have to always conform to that stereotypical thinking like, oh, accountant should be like this, because I used to be that way. I don’t think I made any friends during that time. I had colleagues, but I didn’t have any friends that I hang out during that time because I really haven’t been connecting.
John: That’s interesting. Sadly, probably people that you don’t necessarily remember because there wasn’t that connection. That’s really interesting that you experienced that. Now, is it something that happens with more confidence as you get on in your career?
Crystal: I think that too. I think the maturity kind of plays in too as I got deeper into the career path and so forth. I think that helps too. But for whatever reason, I started at Deloitte. They have a great culture. But for whatever reason, I just felt like, maybe it was just me coming from Korea, thinking like, uh, professional has to be like this and more strict about myself and putting my own guards when really the culture wasn’t mandating or dictating any of those. It was just really me saying like, oh, no, I have to be like this in order to be a professional. Once I got that guard off, it was so much easier to make friends and just open up and say, “Hey, I don’t get this. Help me out.”
John: Right. Was there something that helped take your guard down, or was it just that time and confidence, like you said?
Crystal: I think it’s more of the time and confidence that was built throughout that time period. Once I started being more myself, I noticed that, huh, people actually enjoy being around me. I guess I could be more of me. And then I think that kind of got just more natural to me.
John: Oh, man, I love that. That’s so great, because it is scary. I remember when I started, I’m like, wow, I’m getting paid way too much money than I’ve ever made in my life. I’m supposed to be all this and whatever you think you’re supposed to be. And come to find out, you’re just supposed to be you. I mean, that’s it. The one thing that I always found interesting, though, was just that I started modeling behavior of people ahead of me, so kind of like the manager level, director level. But then I found out later that they were modeling behavior of someone ahead of them going back, I don’t know, 100 years. No one’s actually just bringing themselves. It’s just we’re all modeling behavior after something else that we saw on TV or what we think in our head. It’s so refreshing to hear that once you go out on that limb just a little bit, you’re like, wow, people actually like me for me. That’s neat.
John: Then it’s a lot less exhausting, I have to imagine.
Crystal: Yeah, having all the guards and shields and everything, armor, it’s hard. It drags you down.
John: That’s for sure. Is there anything else that you guys do there at the firm or that you’ve experienced that helps encourage that?
Crystal: One of the interesting part of our culture within Goldin Peiser & Peiser, it’s really the extended family feel. So as you know, family members, they sometimes get into argument. Sometimes they would get into a place where like, “No, I’m right, you’re wrong,” and so forth. But what does family do, they kind of all agree and move on, right? So having that safe family feel, being able to express your opinion, but really once we made a decision going together as a team and pursuing it, I think that’s been fabulous within our firm, to really be yourself and you know how to voice out, but at the same time, once we decide on something we’re going as a team, we’ve decided on this, and we’re all in it.
John: That’s great, because great ideas come from all the levels, intern all the way up to managing partner and everything in between. That’s really neat that there’s that culture, that it’s safe for people to just say, “Hey!” But it’s also cool that everyone’s like, “All right, we picked the thing, we’re going to go with that. Great.” No harm, no foul and no grudges like all that. That’s awesome. Very cool. So do you have any words of encouragement for anyone listening before I wrap this up? They’re like, “Well, my hobby or passion has nothing to do with my work, so I shouldn’t share it.”
Crystal: I would say you will be amazed by how many people around you, once you start opening up, they’ll be more drawn to you just because you’re being authentic, just being yourself. Sometimes we fail. Everyone fall at some point, but if we could just say like, “Oh, I fell this time, but I’m going to get up.” So if you just be yourself and be vulnerable to others, you’ll be amazed by the fact how much people will be drawn to you.
John: That’s so great. I mean, you lived it. You’re an excellent example of that.
Crystal: Oh, thank you.
John: That’s fantastic. So it’s only fair, since I started out rapid-fire questioning you, that I turn the table and allow you to put me in the hot seat. So if you have some rapid-fire questions, I’m all ready here.
Crystal: I’ll give a few. Okay, stand-up comedian or emcee?
John: Oh, man, there are so many layers to that answer. I guess, stand-up comedian but emcees get treated nicer at corporate events? I don’t know. But the comedian, I love that too. So yeah, probably stand-up comedian. Totally different skill sets as well.
Crystal: Do you enjoy reading book or writing book?
John: Reading. Writing a book has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, and preferably a short book, micro chapters, the kind. Basically, I’m writing the book that I would want to read.
John: I don’t want this big, giant, heavy book that I’m not going to finish.
Crystal: Amen to that. Yes, I will read your book.
John: Great. Yeah, absolutely.
Crystal: That’s it.
John: Thank you so much, Crystal. That’d be great if I have one buyer already. One person is going to read my book, and my mom, so we have two readers. That’s awesome. So thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Crystal: Thank you. I appreciate it. This was fun.
John: If you’d like to see some pictures of Crystal, probably with her purple wig, or connect with her on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com, and all the links are there and also all the information about the book that’s coming out very soon. While you’re on the page, please click that big green button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture. It’ll really help for when I’m doing my presentations.
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