Episode 481 – Ashley Dodge
Ashley is a Strategist & Dog Handler
Ashley Dodge, a Director at Bigwidesky, talks about her passion for being a dog owner and managing the Instagram page for her dog, Hans Gruber! She also shares how owning a dog has changed her perspective in clear communication in the office and how it has helped her live her best life outside of the office!
• “The Night I followed My Dog”
• Hans’ diagnosis
• How dogs are conversation starters and ice breakers
• How having a dog can help with consistency and communication
• Why leaders of an organization are important for setting a tone in culture
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Welcome to Episode 481 of What’s Your “And”? This is John Garrett. And each Wednesday, I interview a professional who, just like me, is known for a hobby, or a passion, or an interest outside of work. And to put it in another way, it’s encouraging people to find their “and”, those things above and beyond your technical skills, the things that actually differentiate you when you’re at work.
And if you like what the show is about, be sure to check out the book. It’s on Amazon, Indigo, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop, a few other websites. All the links are at whatsyourand.com. And 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 audiobooks. It goes more in depth with the research behind why these outside-of-work passions are so crucial to your corporate culture. And I can’t say how much it means that everyone’s reading it, and now listening to it, and writing such nice reviews on Amazon and, more importantly, changing the cultures where they work because of it.
And 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, Ashley Dodge. She’s the executive director of growth at Bigwidesky where they make brands more human, which I love. Absolutely awesome. And now, she’s with me here today. Ashley, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Ashley: Thank you for having me. I’m so excited.
John: Yeah. This is gonna be a blast, but I do have some rapid-fire questions to get to know actually out of the gate here. We’ve hung out a couple times and I’ve never asked. And I feel like I probably should have.
Ashley: Let’s have at it. What are the burning questions?
John: Okay. Burning question. I’ll start maybe an easy one. A favorite color.
Ashley: Green. Absolutely.
John: Okay. Okay. Nice. How about a least favorite color?
Ashley: Ooh, black. Because it always shows dog hair.
John: There you go. It is so funny how the least favorite color is always wrapped around something clothing or like what looks good on me, so the dog hair. There you go.
John: That’s hilarious. How about a TV show that you would binge watch?
Ashley: I really don’t watch TV.
John: Okay. No, fair enough. Fair enough. That’s awesome. Very good. I really don’t. It’s not just I don’t. I really don’t.
Ashley: And I don’t even have a TV. I think the last one I binge watched was Peaky Blinders, but that was over a year ago.
John: Yeah. Yeah. No, that’s a great show though, but yeah. Absolutely. How about puzzles? Sudoku, crossword, or jigsaw?
Ashley: Oh, man. Probably Jigsaw.
John: Okay. The picture.
Ashley: Yeah. Very old school.
John: No. Okay. How about favorite toppings on a pizza?
John: Oh, just pineapple. Okay.
Ashley: Just pineapple. Yeah. I’m a vegetarian.
John: There you go. I mean, cheese and sauce of course, but yeah.
Ashley: Oh, yeah. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. Definitely. The cheese is like required.
John: Right. Yeah. I mean, the psychos with no cheese is like “What? What are you talking about?”
Ashley: Even if it’s vegan cheese, it’s at least some kind of cheese, right?
John: Yeah. Something that looks like it. Right? Yeah. Exactly. How about a favorite actor or actress?
Ashley: Harrison Ford. I’ve always been a huge fan.
John: Okay. Yeah. Yeah. He is always good in stuff. How about would you say more shower or bath?
Ashley: Shower. I think only psychos take baths. Why are you just sitting in that? Like what? It’s like human soup.
John: That’s hilarious. How about Star Wars or Star Trek?
Ashley: Ooh, Star Wars definitely.
John: Yeah. Me too, although that’s Harrison Ford. He’s not in Star Trek, so that answers that one.
John: Right? Duh! How your computer, more of a PC or a Mac?
Ashley: I’m a Mac user. I feel so unable to do anything on a PC. I’m always very confused.
John: Huh? Interesting. I’m not cool enough to like go into a Mac store I don’t think. Like I just feel intimidated by the all white.
Ashley: Microsoft does a really good job of making their brick and mortars look pretty legit too I feel like.
John: Yeah. They’re coming around.
Ashley: Right. But most people just still order things online these days. Right?
John: Right. Exactly. It’s like how do you know they have a store? That’s amazing. How about a favorite season? Sumer, winter, spring, or fall?
Ashley: Ooh, I really love spring because it’s been cold and windy. You finally get all the warmth that comes from spring. It’s magical especially in Colorado ‘cause you’ll have snow on the ground still and then crocus is popping up. It’s just such a magical contrast.
John: Right. That is true. Yeah. And it’s like 55 and you’re wearing shorts. You’re like it’s so warm
Ashley: It’s so warm.
John: Right? How about a favorite ice cream flavor? I’m a huge ice cream junkie.
Ashley: Ooh, I really love cake batter. I don’t like cake batter as itself. But as an ice cream, it’s my favorite.
John: Right. Yeah. ‘Cause cake batter is kind of like what are you doing, but you make it an ice cream and it’s amazing.
John: Right? It’s so weird how that is. Yeah. But no, that’s an excellent choice. How about early bird or more of a night owl?
Ashley: Oh, I’m both unfortunately.
John: Oh, wow.
Ashley: Yeah. I like to wake up in the morning really early and wake my dog. But then at night, I also stay up pretty late.
Ashley: I’ll sleep when I’m dead.
John: Are you like taking a nap in the middle? Oh, you’ll sleep when you’re dead.
Ashley: Yes. Oh, yeah. Oh, no. I definitely love naps. Yeah. A good 5 p.m. nap is great.
John: Naps are so underrated. Yeah, naps are awesome. Yeah. So good. How about a favorite Disney character?
John: Oh! Yeah! Very good.
Ashley: She was like breaking stereotypes. I love it.
John: Totally. Totally. How about a favorite number?
John: Oh, really?
Ashley: Yeah, it’s my birthday.
John: Oh, okay. There you go. I just wasn’t sure how counter everyone you were trying to be, but at least you have a reason.
Ashley: Yeah. If you can turn it into a lucky thing whatever people say it’s bad, I don’t have a choice. It’s always going to be my birthday. So, turn it into your lucky number.
John: Right. We’re gonna make it happen. Okay. I got three more. When it comes to books, audio version, e-Book, or real book?
Ashley: Oh, I really love real books. I both bought your real book, What’s Your “And”?, but then I also listened to it on audio.
John: Oh, wow. And it is my voice. Right?
Ashley: I will do both quite often. Right. It’s like it really was him. Oh, here’s a tricky one. How about a cheeseburger or pizza?
Ashley: Ooh, pizza for sure.
John: Oh, okay. Okay.
Ashley: Yeah. That’s a very Denver question, right, ‘cause we got a lot of good burgers in town, but we also have—
John: Yeah. Yeah. They got some fancy burgers going on here in some of the places in Denver. I just had one the other day. Fried bologna burger. So, it’s like fried Bologna cheeseburger patty, potato chips. It was nuts.
Ashley: That’s a very American burger.
John: And of course, I had to get it.
Ashley: Yeah. You can’t not.
John: Right? I was like, of course, I’m getting this. The fact you have other burgers on your menu was weird to me. There should just be this. Okay. Now, last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.
Ashley: I think the favorite thing I have is a dog.
John: Yeah. And what kind of dog is it?
Ashley: He’s a lab mix.
John: Oh, okay. All right.
Ashley: He’s 90 pounds. His name is Hans Gruber. He’s named after the villain from Die Hard.
John: Right. That is so great. And 90 pounds, which leads right into your “and”, so we might as well just talk about Hans and let’s get it going.
John: Yes. So, did you grow up with dogs?
Ashley: Yeah. When I was a little kid, I loved this book that is called The Night I followed my dog. And there’s this trend on social media right now where it’s like show us your childhood dream dog and then show us your dog. And a lot of people have dogs that they loved when they were kids and they were part of books. And now, they have it as an adult. And this book called The Night I Followed My Dog looks just like Hans. And so, it’s really funny because subliminally I was just like already making that decision 30 years later.
John: Yeah, that’s awesome. Yeah. And then when you’re an adult, it’s like, well, I can actually go get it. Like I can actually have a dog like that.
Ashley: I’m the adult.
John: Right? I know. It’s hard to remember that.
Ashley: Yeah. He’s definitely my passion. He’s definitely where I spend most of my time and effort outside of work.
John: That’s so fantastic. Like how long have you had him?
Ashley: I got him in 2017 and we didn’t really know his birthday. So, we just gave him Alan Rickman’s birthday because it was easy to remember.
John: That’s so great. That’s awesome. With Hans, is there like stuff you like to do with him? Because I feel like he’s pretty active for a dog.
John: Like he’s living a good life.
Ashley: He does. He has his own Instagram actually. And most of it is us going to get pastries or going on hikes or road trips, so yeah. Very enriching life.
John: Right. That’s awesome. That’s so great. And so, is there like one of the more of fun trips that you feel like you’ve had with Hans?
Ashley: Yeah. We went to Florida 3 years ago and I put him on a plane. He was doing therapy dog training. And so, it was pre— Like you know, they’ve updated the flight requirements. But really, he just needed to go through therapy dog training with a group called The Go Team basically, similar to that. And so, he did all the therapy dog training and then unfortunately he was diagnosed with heart failure at the age of 2. And I was like just devastated.
John: Oh, my gosh.
Ashley: And they were like he has 6 months to live. And so, I kind of treated him like a make a wish kid and said we are going to Florida. He is gonna swim with dolphins and that’s what we did. I just put him on a Frontier flight. They let him sit on the floor and then we flew. It was really pretty easy.
And we just camped and then stayed at a hotel there for a couple days and it was magical. And I realize he’s great on planes, trains, and automobiles.
John: There you go. There you go. That’s awesome and then he shattered that so like he’s—
John: …healthy and—
Ashley: Yeah. He’s basically lived 6 times the 6 months that he was given. So, it’s pretty awesome.
Ashley: Oh, yeah. Now, he’s 5.
John: That’s such a cool story. Yeah. And like he’s telling all his friends like you’ll never believe. Just act like you’re gonna die in 6 months and you get to swim with dolphins.
Ashley: It’s an elaborate ruse.
John: Yeah. At the dog party, he’s like whispering to all the other dogs like “Hey, just try it.”
Ashley: Just cough. Right? My mom has a little pond in her backyard and he loves to chase the catfish in the back of the pond. So, when he saw dolphins, he just thought that that was gonna be something similar. He started chasing after the dolphins that were pretty far away and was like “Oh, my gosh. Come back. Come back.”
John: Right. Right. They’re bigger, and faster, and smarter.
John: Yeah. You’re not gonna catch ‘em. This isn’t a pond. There’s no other side.
Ashley: Right. He’s also great to like open up conversations with. Like I had to interview a recruiter for the foreign service in Colorado and the Rocky Mountain region. And I was like “You know, I have a master’s degree in international affairs, but I’ve never really used it because I don’t want to travel and have to give up my dog.” And he’s like “No. Dogs are the opposite actually. Your dog is the conversation starter. It’s how you meet the locals.” And I had never realized your pets can actually do a lot of the talking for you.
John: Which is such a great point. And so, is this something that’s come up at work? Do people know about Hans?
Ashley: Yeah. Unfortunately, I bring him with me everywhere. Because of his heart failure status, every day is a gift. Right? He doesn’t come on business meetings. But anytime I’m in the office, he’s just always there. And with everyone working from home all the time, I’m sure there’s plenty of your listeners also have similar relationships with their dogs or their co-workers during the day.
John: Right. Right. Exactly.
Ashley: You have a pup too.
John: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. Rocket. Yeah. He’s like a terrier mix like 34 pounds of awesome. And dogs are so smart. They learn your routine. Like you can’t see a clock or know time, but he knows when 5:00 hits. And he’s like pulling under your arm like get out of the chair like we’re done working for the day. And it’s just amazing how he’s so good at that.
Ashley: And he runs like a rocket. He is so fast. My dog cannot keep up with him because Hans is 90 pounds of pure bulk and Rocket is just gonna do circles around him.
John: Right. Yeah. Rocket’s fun at the dog park. That’s for sure. He’s not always the fastest dog, but he’s that combination of fast and sly.
John: Yeah. It’s hard to catch him. But that’s so cool like people know about Hands. Like you’re bringing him to work. Like you’re talking about him. Like you’re staring him like it’s a family member basically.
Ashley: Absolutely. He also is good ice breaker sometimes because like people can really empathize with that. So, sometimes when you have a difficult conversation about to come up, he’s really good. He is a great introduction into that before.
John: Taking hard stuff.
Ashley: Exactly. Exactly. It’s like “Oh, let me tell you I’m a human. And at least my dog likes me, so you should too.”
John: Just look at him. See?
Ashley: Right? I can keep them alive like I promise. This project has hope.
John: Yeah. Right. I’ll bring you to swim with dolphins too. We’ll all go swimming with dolphins. It’s like a thing. It’s what we do. Yeah. So, do you feel like— I mean, it sounds like it’s really cool like the ice breaker humanizes you with others as far as having that outside of work interest. Do you feel like there’s a skillset that you bring to work or maybe a different lens the way you look at things?
Ashley: So, I’m sure you’ve experienced this with Rocket. But if you don’t have a certain level of consistency and clarity in the way that you communicate with your dog, they get confused about what they want you to do. And so, I think that dog training has really taught me a lot about how to be consistent, follow the same rules, and make sure that I’m clear about the words. So, sometimes I have a habit of instead of being like come here, I’ll be like “Come here. Hold my hand.” And he’ll just look at me like “What?” And so, I learned that I can’t just say certain things. He’s like you really have to be clear with your directions and they can be really smart and acquire more language. And like you said, they develop other aspects of your habits, but you really have to start at a very small basic level. And I think that the same can be said when you’re training how you interact with other people, is you have to be clear and concise and then you can build on those foundations.
John: Right. No. That’s such a great point that I never really thought about because, yeah, we did dog training and I felt it was more human training than it was dog. It was more like teach me to say the same thing every time.
And imagine if we sent new managers to dog training how much better managers would be communicating and just everything would be better. So, that’s such a great parallel. I never thought about that.
Ashley: I’m always like “Why won’t he listen to me?” And the dog trainer for the first year was like “Are you excited to do this?” I’m like “No, but what I say matters. Right?” And he’s like “No. You can’t just say a command and he wants to do it. You have to have it be something that you’re excited about too because he can tell you don’t care either. So, you have to both be fully engaged in this experience and make it fun.” And it’s amazing how when I say come in a very flat term, but then if I say “come here, buddy; come here; come here” and you clap and you make it exciting, of course they’re gonna be excited. And I think the same can be said in any kind of professional around no matter what you do.
Ashley: If it’s not fun, people disengage and then they’re like “Why do I care?”
John: Right. Yeah. And sometimes work is not gonna be fun, but you can at least make it enjoyable. You can make it pleasant. You can talk about your Hans and then, okay, now we got to buckle down and get the work done. But no, I love that. That’s so fantastic. And I guess how much is it on the organization to create that space for people to be able to share their answer? How much is it on the individual to just kind of create that space there on their own?
Ashley: Leaders have to use that as a primary value to say we care about you as a human being. At Bigwidesky, a lot of the work that we end up doing is actually trying to reintegrate appreciation for being human. And it’s funny that I’m talking about like how we have to appreciate dogs to appreciate our own humanity in some ways, but it really is true that there are so many ways that we kind of try to flatten people out in work and then we wonder why it’s not working. But if we actually allow people to be these dynamic wonderful human beings, then they’re able to thrive in the spaces that you have hired them for, but also in other spaces and really help the organization grow and thrive in ways that you haven’t even laid out in some sort of strategic plan, right, if they become stakeholders not only within the lane that you put them in and give them all of those tools and resources to succeed. But if you also give them and empower them to be these full human beings outside of work as well, they’re going to return to work with a lot more enthusiasm and dedication.
John: Man, that was so good. So many good things there. Yeah. I mean, it’s basically “Are your people living their best life?”
John: Because it used to be are my people doing their best work? And it’s like “Well, let’s go one step beyond that. And if you’re not living your best life, you’re not gonna be doing your best work. So, how about we focus on make sure that you’re living your best life? And then if you’re doing that, then the work is gonna happen.”
Ashley: Exactly. I had a crisis of meaning in that way, right? Like I just didn’t really know what drove me in a lot of ways. I was just clocking in and clocking out. I was working in insurance. And everyone knows that that is not exactly the sexiest of industries. That can be really tiresome and feel kind of like you’re just shuffling money and paperwork around all the time. But bringing him into my life really enriched my day at the very beginning because instead of just going straight to work, I had to be outside for an hour and enjoy the sunshine and create new habits and structures into my day that really got me moving and excited about the day. And it changed everything about my life. The way I approach things, the way I want to live the most out of it. And if you think about dogs, like they have so much appreciation for loyalty and love no matter how much you’ve disappointed them in the past. They just always let you get another chance and I feel like if we could take that fresh approach to the people that we work with, I think that that lends itself well to getting a lot farther in whatever we end up at.
John: That’s rich right there. Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, I bring Rocket to the vet and he’s not excited and then we come home and he’s like “Hey, let’s play.” And I’m like “Oh, man, I thought you were gonna be pissed for like a month.”
Ashley: But they do remember the vet. I mean, there are certain people we can’t forget of, but Hans loves his vet. They do a really good job of making sure that he is making the most of that vet appointment because he’s terrified there.
John: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. No. But it’s so good of just giving people the benefit of the doubt. They’re trying their best. And if they’re not, then coach them. And if you’re able to talk with them about their “ands” before and after just in life on a regular basis, then when you do have to pull them aside, that critical feedback isn’t so critical now because it’s just 1 out of 10 conversation where it’s a hard conversation. The other 9 are awesome. So, it shows I care sort of a thing.
Ashley: And it makes it harder to flatten out your coworkers too.
So, when things aren’t going well, you can’t be like “Well, he just does X, Y, and Z.” It’s like they’re a whole human outside of the sphere that you’re interacting with them as. And so, it’s easier to be empathetic and invested in their success as well.
John: Yeah. Because, I mean, you hire the whole person, not just the technical skills part that’s doing the work. So, how about we learn about and shine the light on the whole person type of thing? It’s so confusing to me why that isn’t the default mode.
Ashley: I think it really is in higher level executive things, but I think that it makes it safer to do it when you think of other people maybe below you as them just being a resume. Right? But I think executives do it all the time. Right? They bond less over the spreadsheets of profit margin. They bond over what watch they both like, or the kind of sports car they have, or whatever it is. Whiskey. They don’t actually apply that more robustly within the organization like they should. But I think when it comes to executives connecting with other executives, that’s already built in. They just need to apply and extend that throughout the organization.
John: Yeah. Make it vertical because it’s more horizontal like in your peer group. But when a staff person walks in, ooh, everybody acts serious because we’re supposed to be whatever. And it’s like “What are you doing? Like stop. No.” That’s the time to actually not do it more. So then, people “below” you in different titles see that as well.
Ashley: There’s a book called Creativity Inc. where he talks about how when Pixar and Disney merged, they made a lot of changes to flatten themselves out too, and the things that had been previously celebrated we’re kind of torn down and it caused a friction with morale, but then they realized leadership wasn’t asking them to do that. So, I think it goes back to your question of is it the responsibility of the staff or leadership. I think we just have to have these conversations. I think that’s the actual starting point, is if you are a leader, yes, it is your responsibility. If you’re a staff member, yes, it’s your responsibility. And we all just should take ownership of that.
John: Right. Yeah. And a lot of times too like organizations that have done work on implementing a better culture— And you know, sometimes a younger staff person has a great idea that leadership is like “I never even thought of that.” Yeah, do it, you know. But if you never say anything, then no one’s gonna know. And so, bring it up. Why not? And I mean, worse case scenario, they say “No, we’re not doing that.” And then it’s up to you to decide if you’re in the right place.
John: Right? But you know, if you don’t say anything, then they’re not gonna know and not everybody thinks the same way that we all do individually. And so, you know, make it a cool place to be. I love that so much. And so, I guess before we wrap this up, do you have any words of encouragement to someone that maybe has an “and” or that they feel like has nothing to do with my job, so no one’s gonna care?
Ashley: I think that you’re right. You just have to have a little courage and you don’t have to tell everyone right away and just do this big reveal of this is my “and.” You can start it off as like a slow reveal with someone that you feel like you’ve build trust and rapport with, and things naturally spread too. I think that your book really captures that in a lot of ways of how you said “Oh, I’ll find out has someone heard about my career even though I’ve never personally interacted with them as a comedian, but like word got around.” And so, if you find the people that you really trust that feel like a safe person to share your “and” with, do it and just continue pursuing your passions.
John: I love that. So many good nuggets in here. So many good nuggets. But I feel like I rudely peppered you with questions at the beginning of the episode. So, I feel like it’s only fair that we turn the table and make this the first episode of the Ashley Dodge podcast, and I’m your guest. So, whatever questions you have for me, I’m on the hot seat.
Ashley: Ooh, I love it. Thank you so much for letting me pepper you with questions now. The #1 thing I’ve been really thinking of is the passing of Louis. He was a comedian that I remember his cartoon when I was a kid.
John: Oh, yeah.
Ashley: And so, when I was reading in your book, you said that you had opened for him and he took a chance on you. And so, I would love to hear a little bit more of that story because I think when people pass, it’s important to honor the ways that they’ve transformed your life and opened doors for you.
John: Yeah. Louie Anderson, so funny. I mean, legendary comedian. The Life with Louie cartoon of course. He hosted The Family Feud, all this. And then I had a friend who was working with him a little bit and like helping run some things behind the scenes. And so, when I lived in Indianapolis, he was doing a casino in Southern Indiana. And so, he was like “Yeah, John, come open for me and whatever.” And so, he went down and did like 15 minutes at the top. And he was like “Hey, that was good.”
I mean, I was so new. I was so new like I should not have, but then like I don’t know. 9 months later, he was gonna do two huge shows in Atlantic City at the Borgata, which is like a thousand-seat theater. I mean, it’s huge. And so, he’s like “Come out and open for me.” There was like private school in Connecticut that we did on a Thursday night for like a charity kind of thing and that was like crazy high dollar things and then we drove from there in the night with my buddy to Atlantic City. And that was one of the funniest things I’ve ever been a part of. Like we laughed for 3 hours nonstop. Just straight laughter. And then at like 1 a.m., we pull into like an oasis on the turnpike. And we go inside to like Burger King. We order. And Louis is like “I’m gonna go to the bathroom.” And then like the guy puts our food together and he’s like “Oh, I charged you for a large fries and I just give you a small fries. Let me get in the register and get you your money back.” “I think we’re good. I think we’re good like Louis doesn’t need an extra $1.50. Just you guys keep it. Like knock yourselves out.”
So then, we get to Atlantic City. My parents flew in and Louis was like make sure they got like VIP treatment and like a suite at the Borgata and stuff. And yeah, he was just so generous and so kind. And like his goal for his comedy was to only talk 50% of the time. The other 50% of the time, he wanted to be acting something out or the audience laughing, which is really, really hard to do. I mean, normally, it’s 90% talking. And he was just so good at that and just so generous and like he was really big on like no negative self-talk. So, if you said anything that was even remotely cutting on yourself or whatever, he would be like “Stop. You can’t do… Say the opposite. Like you have to say the opposite now.” But yeah, so generous, and so kind, and absolutely hilarious. I mean, just such a funny guy. So yeah, it was just cool to have those opportunities when I was so new. I mean, I was so new in my comedy career just to be able to do that. And he would meet everyone and just say hi to everyone. Yeah, he was just super cool. Yeah. It’s just neat to give other people those opportunities as well because we’re all kind of in our own journey here.
Ashley: Oh, that is such a great answer. One more question I have for you though is when you experience that, did you commit that into your head of like this is how I will open doors for other people because you continue to do that countless ways with having a podcast and giving people an opportunity to share their “ands”, but it seems like it’s informed kind of how you do business too?
John: You know, I’m not consciously— I don’t think, but probably subconsciously, yeah. You know, it’s just looking at the people that gave me opportunities and it’s like “Well, you know, why not?” You know, we’re all doing our own thing in our own lane and making it happen and why not help each other out? The world is so big and we’re all doing our own thing. This is not a competition at all. And you know, we can all be successful. So, probably subconsciously that definitely creeped in clearly. So, yeah, I appreciate you saying that though.
Ashley: Thank you so much.
John: Awesome. Well, this has been so much fun, Ashley. And I just appreciate you being a part of What’s Your “And”?
Ashley: Thank you. I appreciate it as well.
John: If everybody wants to see some pictures of Hans and Ashley or maybe connect with her on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. Everything is there. And while you’re on the page, please click that big button. Do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture, and don’t forget to check out the book.
So, thanks again for subscribing on Apple podcast 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 389 – Kerry Crockett
Kerry is a CEO & World Traveler & Dog Lover
Kerry Crockett, CEO of IASA, talks about her passions for traveling the world, helping animals, and how these passions and her career both require compassion and building relationships!
• Getting involved with the Humane Society
• Traveling with her family as a child
• Favorite places she has visited
• How her passions translate to her role as a CEO
• The culture at IASA
• Leading by example
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Welcome to Episode 389 of What’s Your “And”? This is John Garrett, and each Wednesday, I interview a professional who, just like me, is known for a hobby or a passion or an interest outside of work. To put it another way, it’s encouraging people to find their “And”, those things above and beyond your technical skills, the things that actually differentiate you when you’re at work.
If you like what the show is about, be sure to check out the book on Amazon, Indigo, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop, a few other websites. All the links are at whatsyourand.com. If you want me to read it to you with this voice, look for What’s Your “And”? on Audible or wherever you get your audio books.
The book goes more in-depth with the research behind why these outside-of-work passions are so crucial to your corporate culture, and 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, Kerry Crockett. She’s the CEO of the Insurance Accounting and Systems Association, that’s the IASA, and now she’s with me here today. Kerry, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Kerry: Thank you, John, appreciate you having me. I’m looking forward to a great conversation with you.
John: This is going to be so much fun. I have my rapid-fire questions out of the gate here, get to know Kerry on a next level here. I’ll start you out with a pretty easy one, favorite color.
John: Red. Okay. All right.
Kerry: Oh, yes, red, the brighter the better.
John: Oh, okay, okay. How about a least favorite color?
Kerry: Probably grays.
John: Oh, interesting. All right. Yeah. How about a favorite Disney character?
Kerry: Wow. Probably… Gosh, there’s so many of them that I like, but probably, I like Bambi and none of the princesses necessarily, but the animal ones, for sure.
John: Oh, I see where this is going. All right. All right. Definitely. How about pizza or hamburger?
John: Yeah, good answer. That was a trick one. That is the right answer.
Kerry: You can’t go wrong either way.
John: No, you really can’t. You really can’t. Do you have a favorite actor or actress?
Kerry: Meryl Streep definitely comes to mind.
John: Oh, yeah.
Kerry: Powerful. Yeah, absolutely brilliant.
John: Yeah, solid answer. More Star Wars or Star Trek?
Kerry: Probably neither.
John: Neither. Fair enough.
John: Fair enough. Yeah, totally. Your computer, more of a PC or a Mac.
John: Yeah, me too.
Kerry: Yeah, I’m a basic girl.
John: Right. Let’s just get this done. How about first concert you went to?
Kerry: With my big brother.
Kerry: Yeah, my big brother and two of his friends. I was the little sister tag-along, and it was fabulous.
John: That’s amazing. Wow, that is awesome. Very cool. How about a favorite ice cream flavor? I’m a huge ice cream junkie.
Kerry: Oh, probably pineapple or coconut or both together.
John: Oh, wow. Okay. Nice. How about, do you have a favorite day of the week?
Kelly: Well, obviously, Friday. That means you’re getting into the weekend.
John: Right? Okay. Fair enough. Fair enough. That works. How about a favorite animal, any animal at all?
Kelly: Oh, probably a dog.
John: Still a dog? Okay. All right.
Kelly: Yeah, still probably a dog.
John: That works.
John: Yeah, yeah. Totally, and it’s not going to eat you.
Kerry: Well, that depends too.
John: Well, I guess that’s true. I guess that’s a good point. How about books, audio version, e-book or real book?
Kerry: Real books. I like to turn the page. I like to feel it in my fingers. Yeah.
John: Yeah, yeah. I’m the same way on that. Would you say you’re more of an early bird or a night owl?
Kerry: You know what, I used to be a night owl. The older I get, I find myself becoming more of an early bird.
John: Right? It’s weird like that, right?
Kerry: I just can’t sleep like I used to.
John: No. It’s weird. Then you wake up early, and you’re like, I don’t even want to wake up early.
Kerry: I know. It’s true.
John: This is Saturday. Why am I waking up early? Ay-ay-ay. I’m glad to see I’m not the only one. All right, two more, two more, or three more rather. Favorite number.
John: Is there a reason?
Kerry: It goes way, way back. I’ve just always liked the number, and it actually ended up being my husband’s favorite number as well. Now we use it when we want to say I love you. We just say 22. If we’re texting each other, it’s quick.
John: Nice. I like that. That’s fantastic. Oh, this is a good one. We’ve got two more. Since you’re in Georgia, tea or sweet tea.
Kerry: Tea, unsweet tea. I can’t do sweet tea anymore.
John: Well, sweet tea down there is hoo!
Kerry: Yes, it is.
John: It’s sugar.
Kerry: It’s sugar.
John: It’s sugar that’s brown.
Kerry: That’s true.
John: I feel teeth falling out as I drink it.
Kerry: Too sweet.
John: Oh, yeah. It’s amazing. Last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.
Kerry: Well, I don’t know that I actually own them, but I would have to say my puppies, my dogs. Yeah.
John: Oh, yeah.
Kerry: They own me, for sure, but they’re my favorites, outside of my hobby, of course.
John: The favorite thing you have.
John: That’s cool. What kind of puppies are they?
Kerry: I’ve got some rescues. One is a Deer Head Chihuahua, and one is a Husky-Shepherd mix.
John: Oh, wow. That’s awesome.
Kerry: A big girl and little girl.
John: Yeah, I was going to say that’s quite the mix.
John: That leads right into the Humane Society work and just being a dog lover in general. Did you grow up with dogs? Or was it something that you just picked up later?
Kerry: Oh, no, I have always been an animal lover. I can recall, one of my earliest memories is actually going up to a big dog. I can’t recall what kind it was. It actually jumped on me, pushed me down, and I couldn’t wait to get back up and pet it again. That was when I was, I think, three years old. That’s my earliest memory.
John: For sure. My parents had a dog when I was born, and we always had dogs for the most part, except for maybe a little pause in between sort of thing. Yeah, dogs are, they’re just great. They’re always excited to see you and happy around and always up for a walk or whatever is happening. They’re so smart too. It’s crazy how they pick up on our patterns. I’m like, am I that lame? I’m that predictable? You know what we’re doing?
Kerry: Yeah. They know when you’re feeling bad. They come up, and they want to snuggle with you. They want to make sure that you’re okay. It’s fabulous. I love them. It’s not just dogs. I love anything, every kind of creature. I have no issue with snakes and spiders and all of the above. Anything that breathes, I love.
John: Wow, that’s really cool. I know you’ve done some work with the Humane Society. How did you get started with that?
Kerry: It was probably, gosh, close to 20 years ago, my involvement with the Humane Society. There was a grooming place near where I lived. I just went in because I saw there was a sign outside about the Humane Society. I went in and realized they were actually utilizing space there to house the animals, and got to talking with them. The next thing I knew I was out back, and I was bathing dogs in one of the kennels outside. I was so excited. I kept saying, “Is there another I could do? Give me another one. I’m happy to do it.”
Kerry: That was my introduction to volunteer work with Humane Society, and it has just been with me since that time and led me all the way up to the Board of Directors with the local Humane Society that we had. More than that, it really just kept me in touch with a fabulous group of folks and just saw so much value in the work that we did, acquiring the old city jail for our first Humane Society here in Augusta and the work we had to do to get it ready for the animals and all of that. It’s just a great, great experience.
John: Yeah, it just makes you feel good in the end. Our dog is Rocket. He’s a terrier mix rescue. When we went to go — we saw him online, and we were like, hey. Then there’s all these dogs and puppies and whatever. It’s just fun. It just makes you smile. We’ll hang out in this little area with them and make sure that whatever, and then it’s, well, do you want to take him home? Let’s go. I’m like, what? It was almost like a dad, I mean, I don’t have kids, but when you’re leaving the hospital, except for I didn’t know that we were pregnant. All of a sudden, it’s like, we don’t have a leash. We don’t have a collar. We don’t have anything.
Kerry: Oh, my gosh, and they sold him to you?
John: They were like, well, the Petco is next door so just go over there. I was just like, well, cha-ching.
Kerry: There we go.
John: Yeah, it was awesome. Then we Craig’s Listed, on the way home, a crate for him to sleep in at first. Yeah, it was awesome. Yeah, it just makes you feel good, and to be around more people like that, that are just making the world a better place.
Kerry: Absolutely. Yeah, and you can see it in the animal’s eyes, too. The cats, the dogs, you can tell how grateful they are. Really. People think I’m crazy when I say that, but other animal lovers, they know what I’m talking about.
John: Yeah, it is crazy how intuitive animals are and why humans didn’t get that trait, or some humans anyway. I’m not sure. I’m not sure. That’s awesome. That’s very cool. Do you have a more unique animal that you’ve helped rescue or been around?
Kerry: Oh, yeah, we’ve had all kinds of animals. I’m an army brat. When we lived in barracks when we were stationed in Karlsruhe, Germany, this was when I was younger, we couldn’t have cats, dogs, larger animals like that. We had mice and guinea pigs. That was our thing. We had a couple of mice, Ralph and Bandit, and they were dancing mice. They would spin around and chase their tails, which is why they were called dancing mice. I recall my mother just fussing about these things. I can’t believe we have rats in the house and that kind of stuff.
Kerry: Waiting for her one morning, because she was coming in to wake me up for school, I was already awake, and hear her talking to them. Oh, look at you, aren’t you cute? Look at you. Yeah, animals go way back with us. We’ll have any — I mean, I’ll take anything that I’m allowed to have. My sister has a snake, so it’s a little bit in the family as well.
John: That’s interesting. That’s really interesting. I guess being an army brat translates over to your travel, another passion you have. I was an Air Force brat. When you move every two or three years, you’re just used to it. I’m sure you got to travel quite a bit, growing up, as well.
Kerry: Yeah, we did. We traveled a good bit. We were selected, stationed in Germany for about five years. From that experience, we probably hit 85% of European countries. We had a Volkswagen camper, and we would camp all over, everywhere we went, four of us kids and my mom and dad in this camper.
John: Oh, my.
Kerry: Yeah. We would just go. My dad would take a month off in the summer, and we would hit two or three countries and every cathedral and every castle. It gets old after a while when you’re kid. It’s not until you come back to the States and you get older that you realize, wow, that was a good experience. I’m really grateful for that.
John: Right. It’s like, now I have adult money, let’s go back or let’s go do something else.
Kerry: Right. Yeah. Well, it really did get into my blood. You can send me to the store across the street, and I get excited. I love to travel. It doesn’t really matter where it’s at. It’s the way it is. You can imagine how hard this past year has been. The travel for me has really just been all about understanding and learning different cultures, even if it’s within the US because you can go from one state to another and it’s a completely different culture.
Kerry: I think that that’s really been valuable to me. It’s been fun. As an adult, I try to do at least one international trip a year just to go to another country that I’ve never been to.
John: Right. Yeah, I saw the picture at the Great Wall of China. I was like, wow, that is awesome. Is that one of your favorite places you’ve been?
Kerry: It was one of our favorite trips. It was incredible, but I will tell you, it was also the coldest I have ever been in my life.
John: Really? Okay.
Kerry: We were there at the end of December and into the first week of January. We were there for a couple of weeks. It was freezing, freezing cold, but it was amazing. It was incredible. We went all over the place. It was great.
John: That’s cool. Do you have any other favorite places? Because people always ask me and it’s hard to know.
Kerry: Oh, for sure Africa.
John: Oh, yeah. Where did you go?
Kerry: We went to Botswana and South Africa and to Zambia as well. That was a wonderful trip, on safari, and that was just incredibly amazing. It’s so exciting. I’ve been thinking about it. That was in 2012 that we went, and I’ve told my husband every year, “This year, we’re going back. This year, we’re going back.” We just haven’t gotten there. Finally this year, we have a trip to Tanzania planned in October, for two weeks.
John: Oh, nice. Yeah, people in the US especially don’t understand Africa is huge. It’s so big. On the map, it is not proportionate at all. The top part width is two and a half times as wide as the US. When I went there, it was like, this is huge. This is unbelievable. The differences, talking about from state to state, I mean, from country to country, and Africa’s crazy differences. That’s really awesome to hear. That’s neat. Do you feel like any of the skills, whether it’s helping animals or being passionate about animals or travel, translates to work at all?
Kerry: Oh, I think all of it does, absolutely. When I think about my work with the animals and the wide range of needs that they’ve had, I think what really translates from my work with that is compassion and empathy, and how I then take that and translate that to my team or to people that I’m working with or anybody in the world actually that I come in contact with.
Kerry: It’s always trying to be compassionate about whatever situation they’re in and be empathetic to where they’re coming from. I think that ties really well with my travel in terms of culture as well because my experiences in travel has always been around understanding what the new culture is with the area that I’m in, the new city, state, country, whatever that is. As we talked already about growing up as an army brat, you grow up in that type of diverse environment already, just based on the fact that the army has such a diverse population, I guess. Then wherever you’re stationed, you’re forced to make new friends and to meet new people and understand their cultures and all of that.
That, for me, I think has been really, really imperative in terms of how I approach various people from different walks of life, where they’re from, and tying that empathy and compassion into trying to understand where they’re coming from and trying to understand what they’re thinking about a certain thing. Because cultures obviously are very, very different and what might be great or okay for me, might be something that’s really different for them. Trying to take that empathy and compassion and just look from their shoes, I guess, sort of see things.
John: Yeah, which is awesome as a CEO to have that perspective, that it’s not just do it my way or get the heck out of here. It’s almost the opposite, which is really fantastic.
Kerry: I think it’s definitely helped me, and I’ve grown quite a bit in terms of how I work with my teams and how I lead my teams or how I try to lead my teams. It really has — I think all of these combined experiences have really helped me grow as an individual and helped me grow as a leader for organizations that I tried to lead and work with my team on.
John: Because it’s not like you’re traveling so then you become a better leader, or it’s not like you’re helping animals, but it’s a pretty awesome byproduct that just comes about. I’m guessing that this is something that you talk about at work, with coworkers or even the Board and what have you.
Kerry: Oh, sure. I recall in my interview with this group, they asked me one fun fact about myself, and I think I said something about I’ve been to five continents or something. It always goes back to travel. Of course, we talked about what kind of animals you have and that kind of stuff.
Kerry: It always goes back to that. I’m always willing and ready and excited to talk about either one of those things, my passions, with anybody, as soon as the topic comes up. Yeah.
John: Yeah, it’s a more interesting conversation than, can you tell us one thing about where you used to work? Well, we used Excel.
Kerry: It humanizes, though, when we talk about our personal interests and our passions, and I think it really gives insight into an individual when they talk about something that they’re really passionate about. You can really learn a lot from people that way.
John: I found though, that some people, for whatever reason, just in their head, there’s a narrative that no one cares, or this has nothing to do with my job, or it’s not professional to have something outside of work besides thinking about more work type of thing. As a CEO, I mean, how do you approach that with people, to encourage that?
Kerry: Well, certainly with my team, we’re very, very close. It’s a fabulous team. We know a lot about what’s happening in each other’s lives. We text on the weekend, if we’re out gardening, or if we’re doing other things. We’re group chatting, and we’re texting that way. We’re really close. When I’m meeting new board members, new clients, new whatever they are, it’s a great icebreaker. Do you have any pets? Do you have any kids? Do you like to travel? It’s just a great icebreaker, and I think it puts everybody on a level set. Because we’re all human at the end of the day and we can all find things that we can talk about. Even if I was talking to, I don’t know, the president of some big corporation or whatever, at the end of the day, he’s still human. He still might have a dog. I might not understand the work that he does, but darn it, I can certainly understand about his dog, or he can understand about mine and how I feel about it, right?
John: No, I love it. Absolutely. Because the animal lover part of that person and you is just as big if not bigger than the work part of you and him, so that conversation, you’re getting who he is or who she is as a person, which is just deeper and richer.
Kerry: Absolutely. Yeah, and it just builds a great foundation for relationships for the future.
John: Yeah. I love that. That’s so awesome to hear that I’m not crazy, and it’s a real world thing.
Kerry: It’s a real world thing, at least in my world.
John: Yeah. No, totally, and the other 400-plus people that have been on the show. Yeah, it’s just cool to hear that. How much is it on the organization to create that atmosphere, like it sounds like you’ve done, versus how much is it on the individual to maybe they could start it among their little group or to even join in, if this is the way it is?
Kerry: Well, in my mind, it’s all about leading by example. If I am demonstrating a behavior and if that means, so, how are things going with you, what are you doing this weekend, those kinds of things where you’re trying to really get in touch with somebody on a personal level, if I’m leading by example, it gives the okay for others in my space, whether it’s my team members, whether it’s my Board, whether it’s other volunteers or people that I meet, it doesn’t matter. It gives that green light to have those conversations back with me, to ask me those kinds of questions. I think it breaks down those barriers of I’m a CEO, and this person over here is another job title that maybe not, they might consider, at the same level of me, for example.
Kerry: It breaks down those barriers, right? If I lead with that, if I’m able to sort of say, let’s cut through all this other stuff and get down to the fact that we’re both humans, talk to me about your dog, your travel, whatever, your grocery store trip, whatever that is; I think that example then gives permission to others to have those similar conversations. I certainly see it with my team. Everybody is extremely close. It’s a very family type atmosphere, and I have similar relationships with my Board and volunteers. I’m very eager to hear about what’s happening in their lives and just to continue to build that relationship which, in turn, builds that trust and then makes for a better working relationship.
John: I couldn’t agree more. That’s awesome to hear because that reciprocity of — the universe is out of balance, if only one of us shares. Somebody else has to or it’s just going to be awkward. It’s cool that you create that space. That’s awesome to hear. That’s really cool. Do you have any words of encouragement to people listening that have that hobby or passion that they think no one cares about?
Kerry: I would say you’d be surprised to find others that have an interest in what you’re doing and whatever your hobby is. Never be afraid to ask and to open up. You’ll find out pretty quickly if somebody is open to the conversation or not. If they’re not, that’s okay. You haven’t lost anything. So I would just say, don’t be shy. Just ask the question, or just put yourself out there and start a conversation around something that’s of interest to you and see what response you get. There’s no harm done.
John: Yeah. You’re out a couple of minutes. That’s the worst case scenario. Then you know that that person’s on a list of people to not talk to.
Kerry: Don’t waste your time on.
John: Right. It’s not just at work. It’s all over in life. The more that people are talking about these things, I love that, how it just humanizes us. It brings us all level set, like you said, and it just makes for better work and better life in the end.
Kerry: Yeah. Tear down those walls, exactly.
John: Yeah, that’s awesome. That’s very cool. Yeah, this has been so awesome, Kerry. Before I wrap up, it’s only fair that I turn the tables because I very rudely fired away at you, 17 questions. I’m going to turn the tables. This is the first episode of The Kerry Crockett podcast. Thanks for having me on. I’m all yours. Whatever you want, you can ask away.
Kerry: All right, John, here we go. I’ve got three questions for you in rapid-fire sequence. Here we go. Are you ready?
John: I’m ready.
Kerry: All right, dog or cat?
Kerry: All right. Tell me again, what kind you have?
John: It’s a terrier mix. Although, funny story, we did the DNA thing, because it’s clear that he’s a terrier mix, if you just look at him, but it comes back where he’s got a grandparent that’s full Chihuahua and then on the other side, a great grandparent that’s a Rottweiler and everything else. They were like, we don’t know. I was literally like, I think we get our money back.
Kerry: I’ve done the same thing. I’ve had the same kind of experience.
John: Rottweiler-Chihuahua mix? What are you talking — look at him. People in the dog park, they call him pinschy in the dog park. He looks just like that, not a Rottweiler-Chihuahua mix. What are you talking about? It was hilarious.
Kerry: They clearly need to do a little bit more scientific work on those DNA tests for dogs, don’t they?
John: Exactly. It was just more funny for me, but, yeah, he’s awesome.
Kerry: Okay, next question, theater or Netflix.
John: So, for movies, not live theater, okay. Yeah. That’s tough because in the theater, if I’m the only one there, I control who’s in the theater with me, then theater.
John: If I’m with the general public, probably Netflix just because, I don’t know, people’s phones, and they talk. It’s just like, what is happening? The world has lost its mind. So, if it’s like a private viewing, then theater, for sure.
Kerry: Do you like it when people talk back to the screen in the theater?
John: No. Although it’s hilarious. It’s more hilarious to me. Although, there are times where I think something’s absolutely funny, and I’m the only one laughing at the whole theater. That’s just funny.
Kerry: I wish I was home watching Netflix.
John: Yeah, pretty much. Yeah, but it’s the ones that are just talking openly, not at the movie, just talking. It’s like, what are you doing? It’s not like we can pause for you, type of thing. Probably theater, I guess, in the end because you can feel it. My house isn’t quite set up with the sound system that theaters have.
Kerry: Yeah, it’s not the same experience.
Kerry: All right. Last one, baseball or football?
John: Football, for sure. I don’t know. Baseball, I feel like, if we could make it six innings.
Kerry: Yeah, speed it up a little bit.
John: Something or, I don’t know, just more entertaining. Let them taunt each other and whatever. That’s fun. Cool. Well, Kerry, this has been so much fun. I appreciate you being part of this and also for having me speak at IASA Conference. That was super fun, too. Thank you so much.
Kerry: Thank you. Appreciate it. Enjoyed the talk, and it’s good to see you again.
John: Everybody listening, if you want to see some pictures of Kerry’s travels or her dogs 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 check out the book.
Thanks again for subscribing to the podcast on iTunes or whatever app you use and for sharing this with your friends so they get the message that we’re all trying to spread, that who you are is so much more than what you do.
Episode 242 – Seth David
Seth is an Accountant & Video Editor
Seth David is the Chief Nerd and President of Nerd Enterprises Inc., a company that provides consulting and training services in accounting and software. Consulting services range from basic bookkeeping to CFO services such as financial modeling.
Seth returns from episode 51, to talk about his shifted interest from hiking to video editing for his consulting courses. He breaks down how he although enjoys his work as a consultant, his true passion in his work is currently more towards the video editing aspects of it! Seth also talks about how he found relief in diving into this passion during a time of loss in his life.
• Shifting focus towards creating new courses
• Learning by accident
• Editing videos for his courses
• Losing his dogs
• The trick to teaching something effectively
Please take 2 minutes
to do John’s anonymous survey
about Corporate Culture!
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Welcome to Episode 242 of What’s Your “And”? Follow-up Friday edition. This is John Garrett. Each Friday, I follow-up with a guest who had been on the show a few years ago to hear what’s new with their passions outside of work and also to hear how this message might have impacted them since we last talked.
I’m so excited to let everyone know that my book is coming out so 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 and you’ll be the first to know when it’s coming out. Please don’t forget to hit subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss any of the future episodes. I love sharing such interesting stories each and every Wednesday and Friday. And this Follow-up Friday is going to be no different with my guest, Seth David. He’s the Head Nerd at Nerd Enterprises in California. And now, he’s with me here today. Seth, thank you so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Seth: Thank you so much for letting me in the door.
John: Absolutely, man. I mean you’d knocked for days. I was like, “Finally, I guess I’ll let this guy in.” But no, this is going to be so fun, man. It was so fun chatting with you before and just catching up. But I’d do my rapid fire questions up front now. Hopefully, you’re ready for this.
Seth: All right. Let’s do it. Look, good thing, I just released my bulletproof bookkeeping course. I’ve got my bulletproof vest on, so hit me with the rapid fire.
John: Here we go. Here we go. It’s a Nerf gun though, so it’s all safe. No Seth Davids were injured in this podcast. First one, if you had to choose, Harry Potter or Game of Thrones?
Seth: Game of Thrones, hands down.
John: Okay. What’s a typical breakfast?
Seth: A smoked salmon with cream cheese on a flatbread.
John: Nice man. That’s fancy. I like that. Being in Southern California, do you have a favorite Disney character?
Seth: I guess Mickey Mouse. I know that’s like the most boring answer ever. But that’s the first character that comes to mind.
John: That’s good. When you’re reading, Kindle or real books?
Seth: Nook, I read the nook.
John: Nook. Okay. Okay.
Seth: I’m a Barnes and Noble guy.
John: There you go sponsored by ding. Brownie or ice cream?
Seth: Can I have both?
John: Yeah, you can.
Seth: I’d get them on the brownie.
John: That was a trick question. You can have both. Absolutely. Absolutely.
Seth: All right. Perfect. Done.
John: Yeah. More suit and tie or jeans and a T-shirt?
Seth: Oh, definitely jeans and a T-shirt.
John: Yeah. For sure. The last one, this is maybe the most important one I’ve ever asked. Toilet paper roll, over or under?
Seth: I’m going with over on that.
John: Going with over? Absolutely. It’s how the patent is drawn, right? So the last time we talked on Episode 51, what so many years ago, it was hiking and you were the only one who’s ever done their passion while recording the podcast, which I thought was awesome. You were actually doing the hike when we chatted. Is that still a thing that you’re doing?
Seth: In a way, I was getting high during the podcast, right? I mean in the most literal sense. Let’s not spread any rumors here. I’m not talking about mind-altering substances. I’m talking elevation, right?
John: Yes, absolutely.
Seth: Griffith Park, my Nirvana, in all honesty, at this point, it’s faded out a bit. I haven’t been hiking lately. But it is in the plans to get that started back up again. As a matter of fact, as of this recording, it’ll be long passed by the time people hear this. But we’re going to be meeting at the Huntington Library — a group of us professionally actually — which is a beautiful place to come to if you’re ever in the area where I am in Southern California. Some are going to bring their laptops and get some work done and the most beautiful environment you could ask for to be working in. And others are just going to go around and enjoy the Rose Garden, the Japanese Garden.
I do still get out of my nerd cave occasionally. But the time that I used to spend doing my hiking was generally on Saturdays. Earlier this year, I got very, very laser focused on developing a series of new courses starting with the flagship cornerstone course of all of it, which I already mentioned. It’s the Bulletproof Bookkeeping with QuickBooks Online. So I’ve laid my hobby has become my work, which I love. I can honestly say I love getting up to do what I do every day. And I know a lot of people will say that. But in most cases, it’s not actually true. In my case, it is.
John: But it’s more than just doing your work. It’s a different thing. I mean when you’re creating a course and teaching people how to do what you do, that’s not doing the work. It’s work-related, but so was hiking was work-related because it was bringing people together that way. So it’s really not that much different to be honest. It’s just maybe a little bit closer.
Seth: John, it’s a craft. It’s so different than doing actual bookkeeping work — creating videos creating content. Anytime the thought ever pops into my head that I think I know everything there is to know about how to record and edit videos, it’s a very quick fleeting thought because I’m constantly learning new things. Just last week, I was editing a video for the next course that I’m working on. I’m not going to bore people with the details. It won’t make sense to anybody. But the bottom line was I learned something new. And I learned it by accident, which is how I learned a lot of things by the way. Almost every Excel tip I could give you, like the really cool ones that not everybody knows, is something I learned by accident because I did something accidentally with my keyboard that I didn’t mean to do. Then I had to try and retrace my steps to figure out how I did it and then after a bit of trial and error, I would figure out that shifting the spacebar highlight the whole row. I’m like, “What? Wait. Then something else in the spacebar is better at highlighting columns?” And sure enough, it was the Control key.
So it’s very similar. Things happen when I’m editing videos. And I just learned a little trick the other day that has to do with when you’re trying to clip a section of the video. That makes it much easier to make sure that you’ve isolated the exact points from both ends that you want to clip the video.
John: That’s awesome, man. I mean because that’s a different skill that you’re exercising, that editing and shooting video. I mean there’s people that you pay to do that. But you’re like, “Nope, I’m learning it and I’m going to do it myself.” And I think that’s fantastic. Yeah. Do people know that you’re the one behind all this? I mean of course you’re the face on the video, but you’re not just the superstar. You’re doing all of it.
Seth: Yeah. I think most people know. It’s funny because a lot of so-called gurus or coaches or whatever they choose to call themselves this week have suggested that I should really outsource the editing part. I’m like, “Are you kidding? That’s my favorite part of all of it because that’s where you truly get to…” I mean, of course, recording this stuff and knowing what you’re doing, that’s obviously part of the parcel. But to me, the most rewarding part of it is knowing that I’m sitting there and creating the experience that someone’s going to have and knowing especially that — and I know this is going to sound dramatic, but it’s not even a question of, “I believe it’s true.” I know it’s true because of what people have reflected back to me. I’m literally creating an experience that’s going to change someone’s life.
John: You totally are. That’s so cool because, yeah, I mean for you to outsource that, you lose the magic. You lose your fingerprint on it, if you will. I think that’s great that it’s like, “No. I’m shooting the video so I can actually edit them. That’s really why I’m doing this.”
Seth: Yeah, because that’s where you really create the experience for someone. It’s in the editing. That’s really the experience that gets created. Shooting the video is the easy part actually.
John: If you shoot enough, you can edit and make it look amazing for sure. That’s really cool, man. That’s really cool. What’s your editing software of choice?
Seth: I wasn’t sure because you made the comment about Barnes and Noble. I was trying to be careful about mentioning brands, but —
John: No, no. You can. I was just teasing, man. Absolutely.
Seth: Okay. Fair enough.
John: No one sponsors the show. Everyone should know that by now.
Seth: Actually, I should also remember that if anything, being that it’s you and me specifically here crossing lines is what it should be all about anyway. Not doing lines — crossing them. Again, I want to be clear. We’re not doing any mind-altering substances here.
John: I think by the fifth reference of this, people are going to start to wonder, “What is going on over there?”
Seth: Well, that’s the point right? We just want to see who has nothing better to do with their time.
John: Exactly. Then start with social media.
Seth: So the software I use, it’s no secret. It’s Camtasia. I absolutely love Camtasia. I cringe because you’ll see a lot of threads in Facebook groups where people are asking about what software to use to create and edit their videos. And if it’s anything to do with something that’s happening on your screen, I don’t know why there’s even a question about it anymore. I know there are other programs out there that you can use and there’s free ones, but I just feel like if you’re going to do it, just do it. Go all in. It’s not that much money. It’s like 300 bucks at the most. That’s if you don’t get a coupon or promotion of some kind. Just use Camtasia. Stop.
John: No. You go nuts, man.
Seth: If you’re going to do it, just do it.
John: Right. There you go. But I mean that applies to everything. And it’s certainly the mentality that you bring to Nerd Enterprises when you’re dealing with clients and everything else. That’s really cool because I mean in the same way that you’re creating these experiences with the videos and changing people’s lives, you do the same thing in your actual bookkeeping business. So when you’re actually dealing with clients, you’re doing that there too.
Seth: Yeah. Although more and more these days, I’m trying really hard not to deal with clients.
John: Right. Yeah. No, that’s the end goal actually. That’s the end goal for everyone.
Seth: I’ll tell you something, John. This is just very honest and all joking of any kind aside. Again, as of this recording, my wife and I recently had to put two of our three dogs to sleep, two of them in the same one-week period.
John: Oh, man.
Seth: So it’s been a very sad time on the one hand. And on the other hand, career wise, it’s a very happy time. So it’s bittersweet because career wise, I’m closer and closer to spending substantially all of my time doing the thing that I really love, which is creating the videos. Luckily — I should say I hate to use that word in this vein, but the timing of when we had to put them to sleep was just before the Jewish holiday, Rosh Hashanah. So I had planned downtime, those two days, which worked out well in that sense that if it was going to have to happen around now, that was the time because it gave me the chance to have a couple of quiet days.
At the same time, while I’m just in such a deep state of grief, I don’t know what to do with myself. So I found myself just — I shut the email off. I didn’t open any social media pages. I just spent the day editing videos for my next course. And it wasn’t like that I was being insensitive about the fact that — it was because of the grief. I needed to do something to get and stay focused on to keep my mind somewhat off of it. I found that once I got into the groove — and this is nothing new for me but it just stood out here because of the circumstances — that I was in such a state of peace during that time because my mind was quiet. I was just focused. I had some very peaceful music playing as I often do when I’m here at my desk. And it was just that. There was no noise in my head. Do you know what I mean?
John: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. The head trash stuff that gets in the way. Yeah. I’m really sorry to hear that because your dogs, those pictures of them wearing the ties coming out of the dog salon and stuff, I mean I know you were really close.
Seth: Those guys were my life. We still have one left, Hercules. He’s the black one in that picture that you’re talking about. He’s the one with the black coat. Because that can, again, get taken way out of context, I’m not being racist here. His coat is black. You have to be so careful these days about what you say.
So Ralphie, who’s been such a big part of my life, he was the original dog in the original social media picture. We had updated it some years ago with him and Hercules, that’s the other dog on my lap, because we got the ties. So Ralphie and we also had his mother, Xena, who’s not in that photo. They were only a year apart in age. They were getting on. She was almost 17. He would’ve been 16 this coming Halloween 2019. They lived a good long life. But of course, it’s heartbreaking. He was such a big part of me both publicly and also privately in the home. It took such a big piece of my heart away, John. I honestly don’t know if or how I’ll ever truly recover from it. I don’t think you ever do. I think you have to go on in life.
John: Yeah. But you remember all the good times that you had and I mean all those crazy stories and the silly times and the ties and the things like that. I mean it’s a family member. But that’s really cool that, yeah, you were able to find peace and get in that groove and just — you’d be able to make other people’s lives better. So in a way, a little bit of your loss fuels so many people’s gain, which is really powerful.
Seth: Yeah. It really helped me. And I hope that everyone out there who’s listening has their version of something that they truly love to do. Because this is where I decided earlier this year to triple down on just creating courses and videos because I was finding, as often been the case throughout my career since I started my business, which was in 2003 originally, there have been so many times where I have — not I felt. I knew. I’ve known. I was spreading myself way too thin, right? I love the shiny new toy of course. I get ideas and I think, “Oh, this is a great idea. Let’s run with this and let’s run with that.” And next thing I know, it’s like — what I love to say about multitasking is there’s really no such thing as multitasking. What it means is that you’re highly unfocused on a lot of things.
John: And then nothing gets done.
Seth: Exactly. Then I was listening to a Gary Vaynerchuk video. And in that video, he said something. I’m paraphrasing, of course, but it was something like, “A lot of us are good at a lot of things.” But basically, the message was, “If you truly want to succeed, you have to find that one thing that you’re really good at, that you’re better at than any of the other things that you’re really good at. And you triple down on that one thing and you run with it.”
Earlier this year, I was just in that place where I knew I was spread too thin. One thing I was trying to build was frankly not going well. And just looking back, it had been more than a couple of years since I had been trying to put this vertical together. I was like, “No. It’s just not working.” And I heard the Gary Vaynerchuk video. And just to be clear because I know somebody there would go, “Well, what do you mean it’s a video? Were you watching it?” Actually, no, I listen to videos a lot in the background while I’m looking at and working on something.
John: Gary Vee is not a looker. So you can listen to the video just the same.
Seth: Exactly. Yeah, there’s nothing you really need to see. It’s usually just him talking and cursing, which is fine. I love his message. But I don’t need to see him to get the message. I just need to hear it. I really sat down and it wasn’t just one sit down. It was a probably over a series of time where I kept racking my brain thinking, “All right. What’s my answer to that? What’s my version of that?” Then once it hit me, I was like, “I can’t believe this wasn’t that much more obvious the first time I asked myself the question.” There’s no question. The one thing that I love to do more than anything else that I do, the one thing that I’m better at than anything else I do is not bookkeeping. It’s creating videos that teach people bookkeeping. And other things, not just bookkeeping but productivity at large. It’s creating educational videos based on productivity software. And it’s showing people how to be more productive, more efficient, more effective in anything that you’re doing that involves any kind of software.
What really lies underneath that, which is how I was able to get to that core when I really thought about it, was that a lot of people can be very knowledgeable in a subject. That doesn’t mean you can teach it, right? The trick to being able to teach something effectively is understanding it from the other person’s perspective. Probably the most important thing — I was just thinking about this the other day. The most important thing that makes a teacher a good teacher — and this is frankly what I feel is one of my superpowers — is having the ability to see it in a sense through somebody else’s eyes, but most importantly and most specifically, to understand what they’re not seeing. Because if you understand what they’re not seeing, then you know where to shine the light, so to speak. And that’s when you get those aha moments out of your students, out of your audience. And that’s what I love about teaching. Especially when I’m doing it with Zoom, which is what I use to log in remotely with people, and if they’ve got their camera on and I can practically, literally see the light come on in their eyes because they just got something because of that one little tweak I made and how I explained it, that’s the most rewarding thing I ever get to experience in my whole life, John.
John: That’s fantastic, man. That’s really cool. That’s really cool. I’m so glad you found it. Because when we met several years ago, you were mostly doing the bookkeeping. Yeah, you were creating some content, but that wasn’t really where the magic was. And now it is. Bulletproof Bookkeeping for QuickBooks Online. Yeah, man, I think that’s fantastic.
Before I wrap this up, though, it’s only fair that I allow you to ask me two to three rapid-fire questions if you would like since I so rudely started out firing away at you.
Seth: Oh, okay.
John: It’s your turn, man. Ask away anything you want.
Seth: I want to ask you one of the questions that you asked me last time around. Star Trek or Star Wars?
John: Star Wars. Yeah. I never got into Star Trek. Yeah. I just — I don’t know. But only the first three. After that, I haven’t seen any of the other ones. So I don’t want to ruin it.
Seth: All right. Favorite pizza topping?
John: Ah, that’s a good question. Yeah. All the meat and, yeah, pepperoni, sausage, ham. If I have to just choose one, it’d be pepperoni though. I’m just pretty classic.
Seth: Okay. Yeah. I’m totally with you there. There is a place near where I grew up on Long Island in Commack called Branchinelli’s, later changed names to Emilio’s. But they used to have — they called it the special pizza, and it had every possible topping.
John: Oh, wow. Wow. That sounds —
Seth: It was all the meats, all the veggies, everything.
John: All the veggies. Yeah. I mean there can be some veggies on there. That’s for sure. I’m not anti-veggie but usually at three to one ratio, meat to veggie.
Seth: It probably it was something like that because the meat definitely stood out. Their other specialty was white pizza, which is one of my favorites. But it’s very rare. You don’t see that at very many places. And even when you do, it’s often not that good. It seems like it’s hard to get that one —
John: Right. And by white pizza, you don’t mean Caucasian pizza? You mean it’s Alfredo sauce. People know that like —
Seth: Right. Yeah. It’s not racist, okay? Let’s be careful. It’s because it’s got ricotta cheese and mozzarella cheese and it’s white. That’s the color of the pizza. Somebody out there is going, “Why is it got to be white?”
John: It just is.
Seth: I had another question for you, another rapid-fire. Cheeseburger or burger?
John: Oh, cheeseburger. Yeah. Put cheese on that thing. Yeah, for sure. As many calories as I can get into my face is possible.
Seth: Well, you’re very lucky because from what I remember seeing you, you don’t look like somebody who suffers from eating too much. You look pretty thin.
John: No, no. I appreciate that. Yeah. But I certainly do. It’s definitely a good pastime. That might be one of my other passions, I guess. Well, it’s definitely ice cream for sure. But that works, man. This has been great, Seth.
Seth: Have me back anytime, John. It’s always a blast talking with you.
John: I mean everyone listening, if you want to see some pictures of Seth in action or connect with him on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. All the links are there. While you’re on the page, please click that big button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture. 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.