Episode 501- Omolara McCloud
Omolara is an Accountant & Multilinguist
Omolara McCloud, “The S/uperhero Accountant”, talks about her passion for travelling abroad, learning different languages, embracing her authentic self, early in her career, and much more!
• Getting into living abroad
• Different languages she has learned
• Places she has lived since college
• Embracing her “S/uperhero” brand and authentic self in the office
• How organizations can be motivated to focus more on workplace culture
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Welcome to episode 501 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 at work.
A past guest that I had on, Michael Puck has created globaldogart.com. He’s a dog photographer. He’s teamed up with other dog photographers all over the world. Research has shown that dog pictures increase our well-being, reduce stress, promote relationships and trust in the work setting. Check out globaldogart.com to see if your work environment could benefit from dog wall art, whether it’s at home or the office. 100% of the proceeds are going to save one million dogs by 2030. Again, check out globaldogart.com.
Obviously, normally this time, I’m plugging my book, What’s your “And”? You can go to whatsyourand.com. All the links are there for the award-winning book. 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, Omolara McCloud. She’s a virtual senior accountant with CFO Hub, and now she’s with me here today. Omolara, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s your “And”?
Omolara: No problem, John. I’m super excited to be here today and finally see your face and hear your voice, live.
John: You’ve been following the show and commenting and super fan for so long. I’m honored to have you on. This is so awesome. This is going to be a blast, especially coming from Mexico, international, all that, which we’ll get to in just a little bit. I have 17 rapid-fire questions that get to know Omolara on a new level here.
John: Right? Buckle up. Here we go. Maybe an easy one, favorite color.
Omolara: Blue. It’s so funny I have blue on today, but blue, especially baby blue has been my favorite color since I was a kid.
John: Very good. How about a least favorite color?
Omolara: I don’t really have one. I like all the colors, John.
John: Just in case they’re listening, you don’t want their feelings to get hurt.
Omolara: No, I like them all. I’m a fashionista. I don’t know if you could tell. I’m a fashionista, so I like all the colors.
John: Absolutely. You need to have them all at your disposal there. Fair enough. How about more talk or text?
Omolara: That’s hard because I’m a millennial and none of us — I grew up on the phone all the time. Now, I hate talking on the phone. I’m always texting. It just depends on the relationship. If it’s a romantic relationship, I want to talk on the phone. All the other relationships, just text me. Don’t disturb me.
John: Just message. There we go. I’ll get to it when I get to it. How about a favorite actor or an actress?
Omolara: That’s easy, Brad Pitt.
John: Oh, okay. There we go. No more questions. We’re done. It’s all good. How about, this is a fun one, a favorite cereal from even when you were a kid?
Omolara: I ride hard with Honey Nut Cheerios.
John: Okay. Okay. There you go.
Omolara: Even now. It’s called Cheerios Miel in Mexico because I live in Mexico. Honey is miel, so I buy the Miel Cheerios.
John: I always did like Honey Nut Cheerios, absolutely, because they seemed like they were healthy, but they were still sweet. Everybody’s winning here. Plus the bee, the mascot, the character and everything. Good answer. How about puzzles, Sudoku, crossword or jigsaw?
Omolara: It’s been so long since I’ve done a puzzle. I’m going to say, when I used to do them, it was crossword.
John: They’re more prevalent. I feel they’re just out there more.
Omolara: Yeah. I think now it’s more popular than it was before, but it’s still, it’s not as easy to buy as the crossword puzzles.
John: Exactly. How about Star Wars or Star Trek?
Omolara: I’ve been waiting for this question because you ask everybody. Whenever they say Star Trek, I’m like, why? It’s so funny because I was listening to one of your episodes the other day, and I’m like, well okay, so if you had to ask me when I was five or seven, I probably would have said Star Trek because that’s when they had the series on, and I was watching that all the time. Since I was 11, they started coming out with the Star Wars movies, and they come out with them so often.
John: The new ones.
Omolara: Yeah, the Anakin, Queen Amidala, now they’ve got the new, new ones. I don’t even know their names because I’m old.
John: And the shows, they have a series now.
Omolara: Star Wars.
John: Star Wars it is. There you go. How about your computer, more of a PC or a Mac?
Omolara: PC. I had a Mac when I was in design school. My first major was Architecture, so they made us buy a Mac. I do miss it, but I feel it’s like Sudoku versus crossword. PC is more widely available, and everything is more tailored to PC.
John: Especially work-related stuff, yeah, for sure. Absolutely. How about favorite toppings on a pizza?
Omolara: I like extra cheese. I’m so simple.
John: Just cheese with extra cheese.
Omolara: Extra cheese. I’m getting a little older now, so I got to watch what I eat a little more.
John: Sure. That’s a solid answer. I love it because there’s all different kinds of cheeses. Some of them have four cheese pizzas out there and stuff. No, that’s a solid answer. How about your first concert?
Omolara: My first concert I believe was NERD. That’s Pharrell, Pharrell Williams’ band. It was in college actually.
John: That’s going way back. That’s awesome. That’s super cool. That’s pretty awesome. How about more oceans or mountains?
Omolara: That’s easy. It’s so funny. I was just telling you, I just moved to a place with mountains, and I never thought that I would — because I’m an ocean girl all the way, but the mountains out here are so beautiful. I can’t choose right now. Oh, my God, the green, green mountains, and you’re just looking at them, but then the ocean and the sand. I’m tied right now. I’m tied.
John: Well, in the mountains but you can see the ocean. I’ll give you both. I’ll give you both.
Omolara: That will be nice.
John: How about, I love ice cream, so, your ice cream, in a cup or a cone?
Omolara: I do both. I’m so weird. I have very weird dietary habits. I’m so specific everywhere I go. I know people want to spit on my food. I like having the cone, but I don’t like it to drip because it’s hard. You’re trying to eat it real fast before it starts to drip. I have it in the cone, but I have it in the cup and then put the cone on top.
John: That’s what I do. That’s exactly what I do. I want the sugar cone. I want to be able to eat it, but I also don’t want to have it drip all down the cone and everything like that. That’s exactly what I do. That’s a trick question. That the only right answer is the cone in the cup.
Omolara: I’m glad we’re on the same wavelength here.
John: It’s like a little dunce hat there on top of the ice cream. That’s awesome. How about, since you have the accounting background, balance sheet or income statement?
Omolara: I think I like the income statement more just because I love doing bank recs. It’s talking about doing those bank recs. I just love doing them and matching the bank transaction. That’s my favorite thing to do.
John: There you go. I’ll give it to you. I’ll give it to you. How about a favorite number?
Omolara: I don’t really have one. I’m going to say nine because that’s the first one that came to the top of my head.
John: All right. It’s a positive number at least, so that’s good. No one’s ever said a negative number, now that I think about it.
Omolara: I should have done that just to be different.
John: Right. Don’t worry about it. It’s all good. It’s all good. Would you say, are you more of an early bird or a night owl?
Omolara: I’m definitely an early bird.
John: Really. Okay.
Omolara: Even on a weekend, I can’t sleep past 7:00 on a weekend.
Omolara: Yes. My parents were the same. I don’t know if it’s genetic or just lifetime habits. I go to bed early too. I’m old lady. I’m going to bed by 9:00. I can’t do it.
John: That’s awesome. That’s so great. This is a fun one, socks or shoes.
Omolara: I’m laughing because right now, if I was working from an office, I would have shoes on, but I work from home, so I have only socks.
John: Right. Totally. Absolutely. Socks are the new shoes, I feel like, since the pandemic.
Omolara: They are. Yeah.
John: They’re worn more often. The last one, the favorite thing you own or the favorite thing you have.
Omolara: I will say my purse. I had a purse, a really pretty exotic purse that I was wearing. I had it two years. It basically fell apart. I got so many compliments on it. I don’t know, I’m going to have to get it made over again or something. It was a ball. It looked like a pumpkin or something like that. It had a diamond clasp. I just love that purse.
John: That’s super cool. Super cool. Let’s talk about learning new languages, living in other countries. How did that get started? Did you grow up traveling a lot or…
Omolara: Actually, now that you mentioned it, when I had that NERD concert in college, that was when my mindset started to change because I was in a major that I really didn’t like. I was in Architecture. I was just really burnt out. I was in one of the top design schools of the country. It’s like, you could sleep when you’re dead. You don’t get any rest. No time to party. You’re just in studio the whole time. I was not happy. I went to that concert, and my favorite celebrity, I had a crush on Pharrell since I was 11. He literally sung at me the entire — and I’m not lying. You could ask one of my friends. He sung at me the entire concert. I was like, what the heck? That’s when I started believing in dreams. No lie. This is beyond what I ever would have dreamed of ever. I didn’t even think I would ever see him in person because I’m from Cincinnati. He actually came to Cincinnati to perform, which no big name artist goes to Cincinnati.
After that, I switched majors. That’s when I decided to major in Accounting. Honestly, now, I see that my design background has really played a part in my accounting career because I’m able to do graphic design, as far as my brand, the S/uperhero brand. I don’t think I would have done that if I wasn’t a Design major. I think most accountants are like, why is she dressed like a superhero? Even my resume is branded a certain way. It’s not plain. I definitely have a lot of different interests and abilities that I can do. I switched to Accounting because that was my second choice, and I knew it was going to be easy. It was easy compared to Architecture, so much easier.
Then I decided to study abroad because there was a study-abroad presentation on one of my classrooms. I had always wanted to go to Egypt. I grew up having a passion for Egypt. There was a girl that came. She had a presentation of her riding camels. I was, ooh, I’ve got to do that. Long story short, I ended up studying abroad in Dubai, my last semester. It really just changed my life forever. When I came back home, I never did get over it. It’s always been in my heart since then to live abroad and live in a luxurious city abroad. That’s when my multilingual abilities started to take effect. Because before I left for Dubai, I was taking private Arabic lessons just to get ready for my trip.
John: Totally. I went to Dubai last year. It’s amazing how much English they speak there. Because I learned a handful of Arabic phrases just to be polite, and everyone’s like, why are you, literally, back in English, why are you using Arabic? Just speak English. I was like, my bad.
Omolara: That’s not a good place to learn Arabic, not a good place.
John: Not at all.
John: It is very nice. It’s such a clean city, really cool city, for sure. That’s a great opportunity for you to be over there. What other languages? Arabic, and I’m assuming some Spanish.
Omolara: Yes. Spanish, I’m almost fluent. Arabic, I’m just basic, basic. I can say hello, good morning.
John: Well, that’s enough for me.
Omolara: I learned it ten years ago. I learned the letters. There are different letters. I learned all the sounds. It’s stale at this point, but I am almost fluent in Spanish. I can get around. I can travel anywhere in Latin America now because I speak Spanish well enough to do that.
John: That’s awesome. So cool. You lived in Dubai for a bit and then Mexico. Have you lived in other countries as well?
Omolara: These are my only two. When I went to Dubai, I actually planned on going to Egypt. However, there was a war that occurred there at that time, and so it got placed on a do-not-travel list. Since I received a scholarship from the State Department, I wasn’t able to go, and I had to go to Dubai. I’ve always wanted to go to Egypt. I am thinking of getting a second home or a vacation home in Egypt. That is my long-term goal, and to also get citizenship there.
John: Nice. Very cool. Because there’s time. It’s cool that you have these on your radar and on your target to go to and that you have that adventurous side. Did you think that just came from that college opportunity of being able to study abroad? You were like, yeah, let’s give it a shot.
Omolara: Yes, for sure, definitely broadened my horizons. I realized that the world was, I guess you could say, a lot smaller than it actually is. It’s a lot easier. People are very friendly when I go abroad, especially when I learned the language. I lived in Mexico before this, a couple of years ago. Even when I didn’t speak any Spanish, they already loved me. Now that I speak Spanish, they love me even more. It’s like a motivator for me to learn it because, one, as you can see, I like to talk.
John: It’s all good. It’s all good. Of course, then you will be able to converse with people and connect with them.
Omolara: Yes. I love having conversations like with my Uber driver. Right now, I have conversation with the Uber driver. I’m friends with the security guards outside, the security guard at the mall. We’re chilling while I’m waiting for my Uber. If I didn’t speak Spanish, I wouldn’t be able to do that, so it’s a motivator to learn more. I’m taking Arabic lessons now, but I also want to learn French and Mandarin.
John: Oh, wow. All right. That’s impressive. I’m still getting English down.
Omolara: Me too. Me too. Sometimes I’m like, dang, my Spanish might actually be better than my English.
John: Right? And I wrote a book. That’s where we’re at in life, everybody. Do you feel like this skill, whether it’s living in another country or learning new languages, does that translate to work at all?
Omolara: For sure. When I interview, all I have to do is say, I speak Spanish and Arabic. I got a scholarship through President Clinton to go to Dubai. I got to meet him while I was over there. I got the job pretty much.
John: Right. Yeah, because it’s like, wow, that’s different and unique than everyone else who’s showing up with, well, I have an Accounting degree and whatever. It’s like, well, so does everyone else who’s applying. That’s cool. Was there ever a part of you that was like, should I differentiate, maybe pre the superhero kind of thing? Because now you’re leaning into it, but I feel like a lot of people tell things in our head that maybe end up not being totally true.
Omolara: Yes. I’m actually super leaning into it. Before, I had two different resumes. I had my superhero resume, and I had my boring normal resume. I don’t even use my boring. If they don’t accept the superhero one, then they’re not for me. Same thing when I started my own company, I don’t know if you noticed, I’m wearing a Cruella wig right now. This has been my style for the past, since July, since the movie came out.
John: Which is a great movie, by the way. Super awesome movie.
Omolara: I really liked it. It was good. In interviews or any kind of networking situations, I definitely bring my full self. I’m the type of person, I don’t want to hide who I am because if I do, I feel like I’m dead. I’m really big on authenticity which is why I love your podcast and your work so much.
John: I appreciate it. Thank you. It’s just awesome to have you be a part of it. Because I look at this as our message, collective. It’s not just my story. It’s all of our stories, and they deserve to be told, for sure. I think it’s great that it’s just bringing more Omolara to things because that’s what the world needs, that’s what your career needs, that’s what the organization needs, all of that. I think that’s fantastic. How did this start, sharing at work, or was it like, you just show up and there it is, type of thing?
Omolara: Well, I’ve always been like this. I’ve just been an authentic person. I told myself, when I was a kid, when I’m an adult, I’m not going to grow up and be fake like the other adults. I’ve been pretty true to my word, so far.
John: Even as a kid, you saw this.
Omolara: As a kid, I was like, uh-uh, that’s not me. I’ve got to still be fun. Most accountants are so boring. When I listen to them, I just want to jump off a cliff. I always saw professionals as this uptight. I knew I didn’t want to be like that, so I just, yeah.
John: How much of that do you think is that they feel they have to play that part? It’s not just accountants either. Like you said, it’s professionals. How much do you feel like they feel they have to play that part? Because I honestly don’t think that they’re really like that, a majority of them. Because if you get them at a happy hour or you get them at something outside of work, all of a sudden, it’s like, hey, you’re super fun. Can you bring that person to work on Monday? Because that would be really cool.
Omolara: Well, that’s different because you got them loosened up. You got them drinking at that point. That’s why they’re different.
John: Okay. Okay. Right. But it’s like, well, that seems to be more of who they really are, type of thing.
Omolara: I don’t know. I hang around a lot of people that are polymaths and polyglot. Polyglot means that you’re fluent or you speak four languages or more. From being around those people versus being around most professionals, I do think that most professionals are not like that. They’re not, I don’t know what the word, personable? Is that the word I want to use?
John: Yeah. Lean more on the technical skills and the degree that I have, as opposed to the human side.
Omolara: Yeah. We have more hard skills. We’re focus on our hard skills. That’s what we’re taught to develop in school. Even when it comes to child-rearing, I’m thinking, do I only want them to focus on my intellect, or do I want them to focus on compassion and empathy? I honestly don’t know. I’m thinking of homeschooling. I’m kind of a hippie like Bill is. I think I’ll homeschool my kids.
John: Bill Hershey, who was on a couple of months ago, yeah, absolutely.
Omolara: I don’t want them to just go and be cold and machine-like and calculated and focused on achieving and pushing yourself as hard as you can because I must achieve now. I don’t want them to be like that. I want them to be more balanced and be more compassionate, empathetic and authentic. I think society hasn’t taught us how to think that way. That’s most people’s problem.
John: It certainly, when I was being raised, wasn’t part of the education system. I feel like it’s a little bit more now, but maybe by then, it would be. It’s certainly a skill set that makes you much better at your even corporate job. That’s for sure. There are even studies now that I’m reading about where it’s just direct ROI to the bottom line, if you have more of those skills. Especially the more that computers are doing things, the more AI are doing things, the more of these human skills you definitely need, for sure. How much do you feel like it is on an organization to create that space for people to be able to share their “ands” versus it’s on the individual to just show up as a superhero, here it is?
Omolara: Well, like you said, I feel like once the organizations actually see the ROI of it, then they’ll be more motivated to do so. Until then, they’re going to be like, what’s the “and”? It’s just accounting. Accounting is the only thing that matters. I think that’s in the future. I know right now, DE&I is very big. Right now, they’re focused more on having different groups for different minorities and different ERGs and stuff like that. I think maybe having a place where they do what’s your “and” is the next step in cultural evolution.
John: Yeah. Absolutely. I’ve even found from clients that having groups around the “and” allows these DEIA conversations and generational differences to really be a lot smaller. Those differences now suddenly are bridged because we’re able to connect over these outside-of-work interests and these other passions that we have. It’s just a cool way to just connect with others that you work with, with clients, with coworkers, all of it. I’m sure you have some words of encouragement to people. Maybe there’s the 22-year-old Omolara that’s graduating from school that feels they have to be a certain way to be successful. Do you have words of encouragement to people that have an “and” that they think has nothing to do with their job or no one’s going to care?
Omolara: See, my “and” is kind of different because it does indirectly make me more money. Even though I’m not working for an international company where I need to be bilingual, it still helps me land interviews. It helps me connect with international people and/or people who have Spanish as their first language. Of course, I’m looking at it as a different lens as most of the people that I feel like you have on your channel. Their “and” is more like their hobby. My “and” is my hobby. I’m not necessarily doing it for money, but it also helps me network a lot more than a lot of other hobbies would. I would say, focus on doing what you love and make sure you always make time for that. Right now, I’m taking one to five hours of language classes in Spanish and Arabic, right now, per week. Sometimes I’m like, this is so much time. I can be using this time to make more money, but it makes me so happy that it doesn’t even matter.
John: There you go. That’s really it, is that joy and that happiness that you have. That’s to your soul. That’s deep. That’s not just money surface level, whatever. It’s something that brings you joy, so why not? So many of these “ands”, I mean, literally all of them, accidentally help you at your job. Yours is a little more straightforward, but some of them at least humanizes you. Someone else also speaks Arabic or is crazy about Egypt or whatever it is, has been to Dubai. Awesome. Let’s talk about it. You, all of a sudden, have a best friend for almost no reason.
Omolara: I’ve met two of your people. One guy, I think he…
Omolara: Yes. He’s then one that loves Egypt.
John: James Perry.
Omolara: Yeah. I met him. There was another one that speaks Spanish, and she likes to travel. I met her too.
Omolara: Yes. Even though I’m not following as much as I used to because I’m not on LinkedIn all the time like I was, I do see some stuff. I’m like, I got to listen to this one. They’re just like me. Then I’ll connect with them and start messaging them and stuff.
John: Yeah. That’s awesome. That’s how you create that connection. That’s so cool to here. Well, I feel it’s only fair that, since I rudely peppered you with questions at the beginning, that we turn the tables and make this the Omolara McCloud podcast. You’re the host. I’m your guest. Thanks for having me on. You can ask me whatever you’d like. I’m all yours.
Omolara: Okay. I’m going to ask this one that you forgot to or you didn’t ask me. Chocolate or vanilla.
John: I think I’m going to go chocolate.
Omolara: What? You have to think about it?
John: Well, milkshakes or ice cream, yes, still chocolate.
Omolara: Okay. Because I was waiting for you to ask that question because I’m a chocolate hit. I love chocolate. I can have chocolate — now that I’m getting older, my stomach can’t take it, but when I was younger, chocolate on chocolate. I don’t know if you — I think I’m a different generation, but growing up on the show called All That.
John: Oh, yeah.
Omolara: On Nickelodeon, there was this set called Mandy and Randy. They just love chocolate. I was like, oh, my God, that is so me. I just love watching that set. I’m still like that now, but, like I said, I’m getting older. My stomach will be.
John: If you could have that and then Pharrell singing to you while you ate that, then there it is. There it is.
Omolara: Oh, my God. You know me so well. I have to take some Lactaid first though, because at this point, at this point, I’m more like the guy that had that lactose allergy. Now when I eat a whole bunch of ice cream, I’m like, uh-oh, no.
John: Yeah. We’ve got problems with that. We’ve got problems. That’s hilarious. That’s so funny. Well, sorry I didn’t ask you that one, but I’m glad that you circled back and did because that’s even better.
Omolara: Yeah. I was super excited to tell that joke. Like I said before, I like to talk, and I love telling jokes.
John: It’s all good. It’s all good. All good. Omolara, thank you so much for just being such a supporter of the show and of the message and now being a part of it. It’s just really cool to have you be here. Thanks so much, Omolara.
Omolara: Thank you. I really appreciate it, John.
John: Absolutely. Everyone listening, if you want to see some pictures of Omolara from traveling or 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 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.