Eric is a CEO & Basketball Coach
Eric Johnson, CEO of Nintex, returns to the podcast from episode 49 to talk about his newfound passion in coaching for his kids’ basketball teams as well as being an avid basketball fan himself! He also discusses what Nintex does to set the tone of their culture and why it contributes to their success!
• Moving away from golf to coaching basketball
• How coaching and being a CEO involve leadership
• The most satisfying part of being a youth coach
• How Nintex’s high degree of personal connection contributes to their success
• What Nintex does to set the tone of their workplace culture
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about Corporate Culture!
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Welcome to Episode 280 of What’s Your “And”? Follow-up Friday Edition. This is John Garrett. Each Friday, I’m following-up with a guest who had been on the show a few years ago to hear what’s new with their passions outside of work and also hear how this message might’ve impacted them since we last talked.
I’m so excited to let everyone know my books’ being published very soon. It’ll be available on Amazon and a few other websites, so check out whatsyourand.com for all the details or sign-up for the exclusive list and you’ll be the first to know when it’s being published. Please, don’t forget to hit subscribe so you don’t miss any of the future episodes because I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week.
This Follow-up Friday is no different with my guest, Eric Johnson. He’s the CEO of Nintex in Seattle, and now, he’s with me here today. Eric, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Eric: Hey, great to be here, John. Thanks for having me back.
John: Oh, absolutely, man. Episode 49. I mean that was so long ago. I just appreciate you remembering who I am. But no, this is awesome. I’m excited to have you be a part of it again, but I’ve mixed it up where it’s rapid fire questions out of the gate now.
So here we go. First one. Harry Potter or Game of Thrones?
Eric: I’m going to go Harry Potter on that one.
John: Okay. How about a favorite TV show of all time?
Eric: I think I’m going to go with Cheers.
John: Oh, solid answer. Solid answer. How about jeans or khakis?
Eric: Oh, jeans.
John: Yeah, all right. Brownie or ice cream?
Eric: Ice cream.
John: Okay. How about more oceans or mountains?
Eric: I’m going to go with ocean on that.
John: Okay, all right. We got two more. More Kindle or real books?
Eric: Real books.
John: Yeah, totally. The last one. This one’s really important. Toilet paper roll. Over or under?
Eric: I’m going over.
John: Yeah, yeah. All right. For some people, it’s a deal breaker and I think it’s hilarious.
Yeah, but last time we chatted on Episode 49 was so much fun. We talked about golf and how much you were golfing and is that still something that you’re involved in or you got some other things going as well?
Eric: Well, I still like to golf for sure. I would say honestly, I had not played a lot anymore just for a whole variety of reasons, but the main one is that I’d say my “and” at this point is shifted more to some of the coaching of our kids. My wife and I both have a 12-year-old son and an eight-year-old-daughter, so we have a 7th grader and a 3rd grader. They’re at those great ages where they’re just really busy.
In our specific case, both of the kids play basketball. Our daughter is just starting to play. Our son’s been doing it for a few years. I ended up doing coaching with both of them. I’m the assistant coach for our son’s youth kind of travel basketball team, and then I’m the assistant coach for our daughter’s kind of Parks and Recreation team. The coaching right now is definitely putting a lot of time in there and having a great time doing it.
John: That’s awesome, man. Did you grow up playing basketball?
Eric: Yeah. I would play basketball. I would say, you know, from a fairly young age, I liked it. I was a kid that kind of grew late. I was kind of a late bloomer and ended up playing through high school pretty competitively, I went to a pretty large high school and really, enjoyed basketball. Yeah, so it’s great to be able to take some of those experiences and now, help the kids with it.
John: That’s awesome, man. Yeah, I was a late grower as well. I graduated high school at 5’10”, and then within the next two years, I grew like five inches. I would go back, and the high school basketball coach is like, where were you? I was like, I was playing soccer with all the other short kids.
Eric: That was like me. I think freshman year, I was 5’9”, 104, so I was still lightweight. I just had no strength and basketball’s a pretty physical sport. My senior year, I was 6’2”, 180, and then I grew another inch in college and gained ten pounds more than that, so the reality of it is I had a good basketball body at the very end, and I wish I could’ve had it earlier.
John: Yeah, but you know what? Peak at the end, man. If you went the other way, then it would’ve been really bad.
Eric: That’s the truth.
John: Well, that’s awesome, man. I mean coaching your kids has to be pretty rewarding as well. I mean just teaching them what you know but also having the patience to be able to teach all the other kids the same way, I guess, would be probably pretty hard for me to do.
Eric: I would say coaching kids is a lot like leadership over all. All kids are a little bit different. There’s commonalities but then there’s unique subtleties to each person, and it’s been a ton of fun to be able to, I’d say, apply both my knowledge of basketball.
At the end of my basketball career, I got to play on a pretty competitive travel team and played with some folks who went on to play professionally, and I got a lot out of that, so there’s a lot of knowledge I have around basketball, and I continued to learn more as I coached more, but then it’s also some of the things I’ve learned from being a leader in the business world, you know, some of the focus on positive thinking, how to influence people, how to make connection. Those same skills, they apply when you’re working with kids.
I think one of the things that’s super satisfying about coaching is you’re not only spending time with your own kids, but you’re having an opportunity to impact positively a bunch of other kids, and it really you know, extends your impact. It’s the same reason I love leadership at work, I love working with people, I love seeing people do great things, I love that kind of spider effect of like you help them here, then it makes a difference in their personal life then they go to some other company to make a difference. It’s that ability to put a little bit of positivity and impact on a much larger range of people. It’s super fun, and seeing that impact on kids and what it does in their life is huge, and so that’s one of the things I enjoy so much about it.
John: That’s awesome. It’s interesting to see how they overlap like that, how one hand helps the other side type of a thing.
Eric: Yeah. I mean positive leadership stuff like I’ve learned over the years, people really respond. I mean you’re trying to push kids to get better and especially as you get into the more competitive levels, but you’re trying to do it in a way that keeps their energy high and keeps them wanting to do it.
When you see a kid work on something that you’ve been trying to help them with and you see it manifest in the game successfully and you know, they get that energy and their smile and they’re just that much more into it, that is just super satisfying. That’s when you know it worked.
John: Right, yeah. If only that happened more in the corporate setting, if only that was more regular, I guess. Imagine that like somebody does good work and they’re smiling and the manager/coach high-fives them as they’re going down the hallway, I mean you know, what’s the difference? Why not? Type of a thing.
Eric: That’s actually a great point. I mean I went to some little leadership week last year with some other CEOs, and one of the things we spent some time n on was this whole notion of positive leadership, really some couple of thought leaders out at University of Michigan, you know, really powerful proof behind what they’ve tried to help leaders learn and companies do.
I mean it’s absolutely true that when people, they get that boost, the more their mind opens up, they work faster, they do more, it’s more fun. The whole thing goes better. That’s definitely something we try to do here. I mean it’s like anything, right? Not everything we do works, so you can’t have all of it. Be positive, even in those things that don’t work, you try to figure out how you’re going to make them work, and then you turn them into a positive. That’s what we’re constantly doing and that applies both in the business world and then youth activities.
John: That’s fantastic, man. That’s really fantastic. I guess since we’ve talked, have you seen people sharing more hobbies and passions and interests outside of work? Or is it still I have work to be done, probably?
Eric: Well, I’d say at Nintex, the company that I’m part of, I actually think we do a pretty good job people sharing their interest and connecting. We have a 500 plus person global workforce. I would say people, in general, are really proud of what we do. They love their fellow team members, and there’s a high degree of personal connection and I think it’s part of the reason that we’re successful and we’re able to give an experience to our customers and partners because our people feel good about what they’re doing and who they’re doing it with.
Part of that is sharing a bit about who you are. I mean who you are as a person is a composite of some things you do at work, other interests you have outside of work, who your family is, it’s all these other things. Each individual, being able to share that, being able to connect with their fellow team members, I mean we think it’s a huge part of why we’re successful because our team members like being together and they care about each other. If you care about each other, and you like to be together, you just ultimately, you do better work.
John: Totally. I couldn’t agree more. For some reason, for a lot of people, our default is the opposite of that where professionalism tells us no one cares or don’t share that, or anything but work at work is a distraction sort of a thing. We’re not talking about drama or everyone’s got a problem every day. It’s just what are your real passions? What really make you up in sharing those. That’s awesome that you guys have that there and that you’re seeing it benefit is encouraging to me, anyway.
Eric: It’s a real benefit. I mean I personally have a lot of passion around, and you’re connected with people and they know you care, then when you hit the hard spot, maybe you got to have a difficult conversation or you’re in a more challenging time, it’s a lot easier to get through that when you got that connection with each other.
I think it works better when it’s hard, and then there’s the other side of it which is just heck of a lot more enjoyable. If you’re in a better spirit, that’s just stuff we talked about earlier on being positive, that you’re in a better spirit and you’re feeling more positive, you’re more creative, and you got more energy. It’s just a fact.
John: That’s awesome. The oxytocin in your brain, it’s science. It’s not just a make-believe thing. It’s legit. I love what you said earlier of there’s a whole bunch of other things that make you up. The amount of our identity that work really is, is a small percentage, but we allow it to be such a greater percentage than that. For some people, it’s 100%. There’s so much more to people around us if we just take the time to ask and find out and it could be really powerful. It’s cool to hear that with you guys.
Is there anything you guys do specifically top encourage that or is it kind of this is just how it is here, tone of the top sort of a thing?
Eric: I’d say there’s one thing that we do that I think sets the tone for this, I’d say two. Number one, we have three core tenets that we operate on, so a lot of companies have a notion of values, we call them core tenets, but there’s three basic principles that kind of guide the how we operate. Two of them are things that would make a lot of sense from executing the first one is deliver on commitments, right? Do what you say.
The second is don’t wait which is about operating quickly like where you see a challenge, you see an opportunity, go take action. But the third one is I think it gets into think it gets into what we’ve been talking about which was yeah, this notion of operate but respecting consideration, and part of having respect of people and having consideration is understanding them. And so I think that’s a zone where in order to do that and in order to show you care about people, you got to know a little bit about them. I think that’s one thing we do that I think sets a good tone in it.
I think to be fair in all these things, a lot of it goes back to how you start a business, you know, our founders had a certain culture, very connected, a lot of people were friends and so that started really early in the business and it’s continued on and it evolved as the years have gone on, I mean we were basically started in 2006, so we’re kind of you know, getting close to 15 years.
I’d say the second thing though is the tone from the top and kind of the way we operate as leaders, the most senior people in the company. I would say that our senior team here, A, we exhibit that we enjoy each other. It’s I think pretty clear to our team members globally that the executive team is well aligned, likes each other, have a high degree of personal connection.
Then I think if you look at how each of the leaders operate, they’re the type of folks who generally care about the team, ask questions, want to understand folks, create opportunities to do things beyond work. I do think it’s a combination of some history, our core tenets, and then the tone that gets set from the top of the company.
John: That’s really great because yeah, I mean some organizations, the executive group or partner group, if you will, they all get along or they’re all you know, but then as soon as someone from a lower level walks in or sees you then everyone’s all buttoned up and whatever, and it’s cool that you bring the human side to it as well and we genuinely like each other. It’s like, why not? You’re around them for so long.
Eric: We spend a lot of time together. We love what we do. I mean I’ve got a team of people who are really passionate about the business. We have people who are passionate about the business at all levels and in every different pocket and corner of the company. That’s awesome, we’re passionate about the business, and then it’s I think really positively impacted by the fact that people have such great personal connections.
What we’ve done too is when we’ve had occasionally someone who really didn’t fit and was really negative on all that, we try to give them an opportunity to modify and try to become a more positive team member who fits what we try to do. But if they can’t, then we help them move on outside the business because we aren’t going to allow what is part of what makes this so successful, get damaged by people who want to operate a different way. We just take it really serious on how the environment is and we love having a positive place that people want to be.
John: That’s awesome, man. That’s really great because yeah, I mean the technical skills for the most part, you can find somebody that can do that, or you can train them up to do that, but the culture piece, you really can’t. That’s really important. That’s awesome, man. Really cool. Well, this has been so great, Eric, catching up. I’m so encouraged just to hear this, what’s going on at Nintex. It’s really awesome.
It’s only fair that I allow you to rapid fire question me if you’d like since I started out the episode firing away at you, so you’re the host now. Tables are turned if you have anything to ask.
Eric: Yeah, no. I guess something I’d love to ask, because we’re always looking here to do our best, what are some of the things you’re seeing from other organizations that you’ve been working with or talking with that you think we ought to consider applying here? Is there anything that you’re seeing common that you think we ought to be thinking about?
John: Well, I think — I mean it sounds like what you guys are doing is awesome, setting the tone at the top. I think it’s just maybe thinking about you know, shining a light on people’s hobbies and passions. I mean something that’s really simple.
That’ll be in the book for instance is if you have a newsletter that goes out or an internet page or whatever where once a week, here’s the What’s Your “And”? Section and it’s a different person each week or maybe a couple of people. This person loves to mountain bike or this person loves to paint, or this person loves to whatever, and showing pictures of that, and then if you can take it to the next level of and here’s how it makes me better at my job. Maybe it’s connection-wise or it’s thinking about it wise.
Another thing that’s really great too is organizations that have like you can take so many days to go volunteer or you can whatever, come back and present five minutes to the group, it doesn’t have to be an all-staff, but your department, because that’s the real important thing is people are going out and doing these things but we have to boomerang it. You got to bring it back. You have to tell us, why did you pick this charity or why did you do this? Because then emotion is brought into the workplace, and that’s what’s going to bring people closer together like what you guys are doing there.
I think we miss out on that piece of it where organizations will have to go out and do good sort of day, but what group did you go and contribute your time too and bring it back and present? Because then, all of a sudden, you find out some people’s stories and you’re like wow, that’s amazing. It’s really powerful.
Eric: It helps you see them differently. I mean I think one of the things we find, and we think about is that whole notion of empathy, and when you understand someone, you tend to be more empathetic. It helps you actually make a better connection and get to a better outcome of what you’re trying to do. I love those ideas.
I think we’ve got a couple variants to that one, the things we’ve done for a long time is we have these kinds of launch series at different locations where people can do in the know. Sometimes, they’re business related but sometimes, they’re not. We’ve had people literally do like a gardening in the know, and share some of their tips and secrets on how they built their vegetable garden, stuff like that. It’s still different and maybe it’s ten or 15 minutes, everybody brings their own lunch, and they’re going to eat lunch anyways, so it’s not taking away from the business, but it brings people together.
John: Yeah. I mean that is awesome because I mean that person that’s presenting about gardening is probably the most lit up, they’ve been in a long time. If you let people share their outside of work interests and passions, I mean you can see them, how they light up and you know, their eyes are bigger, they’re excited, and they’re really engaged, and people can feel that energy. I mean maybe someone’s not a gardener but man, that lady is so jacked up about it that I have to pay attention. You feed off of that energy.
Eric: The thing I’ve always been on the hook for, because I’ve been in on levels and working over 20 years now, and when I started, right? You’re the entry-level person. Now, I’ve got a different role. The reality of it is there is this concept, especially when you start, a long ways from the top is you have this amorphous concept of the company, the corporation.
The reality of it is the company is all of us. We make up the company. We are the company. If we all have a high degree of connection, and we have a great way of treating each other, then we’ve got a great company, then we go do great things for our customers and our partners, now, we really have something. That’s a sustainable group of people that are going to accomplish great things. That’s what we believe in. I love hearing about your work and what you’re doing, and I wish you all the best with your book. I hope it does really well.
John: Thank you so much, man. This has been so much fun, Eric. Thanks for being a part of What’s Your “And”?
Eric: Absolutely. Thanks for having me.
John: Yeah, and everybody listening, if you want to see some pictures of Eric 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 and do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture.
Thanks again for subscribing on iTunes or whatever app you use, and for sharing this with your friends so they get the message that we’re all trying to spread, that who you are is so much more than what you do.
Paul is an Accountant & Curler & Golfer
Paul Meissner returns to the podcast from episode 88 to talk about his continued passion in curling, finding a new hobby in golf, giving up umpiring, and why he feels accounting is not a commodity!
• Making the grand finals in his curling league
• How managing a team and a business are similar
• Getting into golf
• Why he gave up umpiring
• How 5 Ways Group is creating a culture of being open in the workplace
• Why accounting is not a commodity
Please take 2 minutes
to do John’s anonymous survey
about Corporate Culture!
Pictures of Paul Curling
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- Read Full TranscriptOpen or Close
Welcome to Episode 272 of What’s Your “And”?Follow-Up Friday edition. This is John Garrett. Each Friday, I’m following up with a guest who had been on the show a few years ago to hear what’s new with their passions outside of work and also to hear how this message might’ve impacted them since we last talked.
I’m so excited to let everyone know that my book’s being published very, very soon. It’ll be available on Amazon and a few other websites. So check out whatsyourand.com for all the details or sign up for my exclusive list and you’ll be the first to know when it’s coming out. Please don’t forget to hit subscribe so you don’t miss any of the future episodes because I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week. And if you or someone you know has a hobby or a passion outside of work, I’d love to showcase you on the show as well.
This Follow-up Friday is going to be so much fun with my guest, Paul Meissner. He’s the Director at 5ways Group Chartered Accountants in Melbourne, Australia, the co-host of From the Trenches Podcast and the founder of Freedom Mentoring. And now, he’s with me here today. Paul, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Paul: Thanks very much, John. Absolute pleasure to be here. I’m looking forward to a great chat again.
John: Absolutely, man. Episode 88 was so much fun and still the only curler that I’ve had on the show, which is amazing because I was hoping we’d have another four so you could have a team by now.
Paul: I keep trying to get a team down here. I keep trying to get an accountant’s team so maybe this will help.
John: Right. We’ll see. But I mixed up the format so I do the rapid-fire questions up front now. So here we go. If you had to choose, Harry Potter or Game of Thrones?
Paul: Harry Potter only because my son is Harry but I don’t really care for either.
John: Okay. No, honest answer, honest answer. How about a favorite adult beverage?
Paul: Beer. Beer, beer, beer, and beer.
John: Right. Okay. All right. If you had to choose, planes, trains or automobiles?
Paul: Trains. Again, my son just loves them. Seeing his enjoyment is my enjoyment.
John: Yeah. Totally. This is a tough one, brownie or ice cream?
Paul: Ice cream. So a proper gelato.
John: Okay. Do you prefer more hot or cold?
Paul: Okay. It got to be cold, doesn’t it?
John: Right. I was thinking so but you never know. That’s on the inside. Two more, two more. Do you have a favorite band or musician?
Paul: Dave Matthews Band.
John: Oh, okay. Nice. And last one, toilet paper roll, over or under?
Paul: Ooh, whichever way. I just chuck it on.
John: It doesn’t matter. There you go. All right. I like it. Yeah. When we talked on Episode 88 almost three years ago, we talked, yeah, curling, umpiring baseball, all kinds of fun stuff. But the curling especially, are you still doing that?
Paul: Absolutely. Yeah. I was still in a league. We have two leagues a year. It’s a very short season unfortunately compared to Canada and America, but we still get it, still love it.
John: That’s great. So it’s not only just for fun. I mean you’re in a league, like straight up.
Paul: Absolutely. Yeah. I made the grand final. I do have a story about that when we get to it, but, yeah, I made the grand final. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the chocolates.
John: Oh, okay. Right. Was the surprise actual chocolates?
Paul: I don’t know.
John: Right. I’m like, “Man, I’ll join your league if there’s chocolate at the end.” And we’ll win. Was that last year or recently?
Paul: Yeah. It was interesting. It was this season. We’ve been at it the longest, I think, about league teams, as a couple of good teams. Our team particularly takes it probably a little bit too seriously.
We’re all quite competitive people. It’s really interesting. I guess I’m still constantly amazed. I mean even three years ago nearly that we chatted about the way that managing a team and managing relationships and communication on a sporting team is equal to business and just has that similar aspect. It’s always astounding.
John: It really is amazing. When I’ll tell people that there’s expertise to be had from your hobbies and passions outside of work, a lot of them are looking skeptical. And I’ll use you as one of the example. I’ll be like, “For instance, curling, you have a stone going down the ice in about ten to 15 seconds. And you need to be very clear where you want that to end up.”
Paul: And it’s really interesting. I mean a recent passion since we last spoke has been golf. Again, I do see a lot of similarities in the way I approach making a shot in golf to making a shot in curling. It’s been something that’s interesting. My coach is like, “That is such an obscure reference. But whatever helps you play your golf, go for it.”
John: Right. That’s very funny. Yeah. There’s a lot less yelling for in curling, but either way, it’s all good. That’s incredible though. But the grand finals, I mean that’s pretty awesome. I mean if you’re going to do it, you might as well take it a little bit seriously.
Paul: It is good to win certainly.
John: Yeah, right. And then the umpiring, is that something that you’re still doing as well?
Paul: No. That’s something I gave up a few years back now. I think it’s a sad reflection on, I think, society at the moment. An umpiring in every rank, I think we see it globally. There’s constant stories about umpires and like kids themselves who are umpiring, getting yelled at by parents and getting yelled at by players. And what annoys me is in the big leagues, when there’s massive money on it, then you understand the passion. But all these heroes who are down in the beer leagues trying to do the same thing, it just got to me. And it’s no longer fun. If something like that isn’t fun, it was a wonderful challenge. But I think when batters themselves can only hit one out of every ten bowls, as an umpire, you’re supposed to get 250 odd calls, right, a day. I think society’s got a real problem with that respect for umpires.
John: No, absolutely. I mean, gosh, I mean we’re going back a long time ago. I umpired in high school and even tee-ball games. I mean these kids don’t even know where to run when they hit the ball off the tee. And parents were the worst. I mean just yelling and screaming. We’re not even keeping score. Like what matters; it’s just terrible. And you’re trying your best. It’s a town league for toddlers. So half of them might be wearing diapers. I don’t know. But it’s just like golly. But it is funny. Like you said, the heroes in the beer leagues that are trying to relive those glory days.
Paul: It’s crazy. And I’m coming up on it now in the next generation. My six-year-old just started basketball. It’s really interesting. I’m really trying to be aware and be really aware of the environment that these kids are being introduced to sporting and being respectful and respecting a win and respecting a loss. It was quite interesting that bringing it back to curling, my six year old lost his first basketball game. We’re talking about these kids who never played a game before. They lost their first game and there were tears. It was really interesting. Actually, how do you explain to a six-year-old that you’re not going to win all the time? I actually used the concept that we lost our curling grand final and that, “Daddy doesn’t win every game. Daddy gets upset, but you train and you play better next week.” It’s quite interesting the way you listen to yourself explain it to a six-year-old and how that helps put it a little bit in perspective.
John: It’s amazing how much kids are looking up to us when we don’t even realize it and what they’re being influenced by and things like that. So I don’t blame you for giving that up. Man, I gave it up way before you did. But it’s cool that the curling is going and not only going but you’re in championship games. So that’s really great.
Paul: Yeah, enjoying it.
John: Yeah, for sure. Are you finding that others are sharing hobbies and passions that they have or maybe you’re more aware of it now?
Paul: To a point. I think that it’s not necessarily much has changed. I’ve always been quite open with the passion. Certainly taking on golf, I think it’s a more relatable passion to many people. It doesn’t have quite the kitsch factor that curling does, but certainly, golf has been a good way to share different professional networks.
John: Yeah, definitely. I mean golf is definitely more common. But I mean what’s the difference? Actually, curling is more interesting because not everyone else is doing it type of a thing. Do you think that having a hobby that everyone else does matters or being a little bit unique might actually be a benefit?
Paul: I think you can apply it with more people.
John: Oh, there you go. That’s true. It’s hard to do curling by yourself.
Paul: Exactly. Yeah. And you’ve got more opportunity. If I have a couple of free hours, I can’t just duck down and go curling. I have to wait for the league game. It’s funny. I had two kids out. My wife was with my daughter. My son was over for dinner. And I thought, I just got this. I’ve got an hour and a half. I snuck down to the golf course. My son comes home from dinner early and ends up having to get delivered to the golf course. So it’s easier to get there, but you can’t get away as much.
John: That’s an excellent point. I guess have you seen examples of companies that are maybe the tone at the top is a cool thing that they have going where the culture is people are multidimensional and, “Let’s celebrate these sides of people.”
Paul: Absolutely. And I’ve got a really recent example. I’ve been lucky enough over the years to work quite closely with the zero team, especially here in Australia. And look, I’m sure many other companies do it. I guess this is the one that I’ve just seen it. Without giving away too much of the detail of how they do it, they really do go to great effort to explore, highlight and certainly promote the individual staff hobbies, including it in team meetings and letting people really bring themselves to work. I think it’s something that I’ve seen firsthand and really impressed me. And that was from the top all the way through the organization. And there are some obscure hobbies, too, that everyone has a laugh.
In an organization that’s growing in that size, you’re always going to find someone who also is this rock guitarist in rock bands, who looking at them you wouldn’t otherwise think. Then of course, other people in the organization, “Oh, well, I’m a drummer,” or, “I’m this…” or, “Let’s practice after work.” Yeah, it’s just been a really interesting example. But to me, they seem to do it really well.
John: No, that’s great. I mean, yeah, it’s what you’re seeing. So that’s fantastic. It’s cool to hear that it’s out there anyway. That’s obviously a company that’s doing okay for themselves. It’s not like it’s a detriment to the business.
Paul: Exactly. Yeah. Yeah, exactly.
John: If anything, it’s an enhancer, I would say. Do you have any words of encouragement for anyone listening that might think that their hobby or passion has nothing to do with their job/
Paul: That’s really interesting to me because small accounting firms, that’s my passion. There is much about who you are as what you do. I think that a small accounting firm who looks after micro business clients or individual tax returns, your difference or your niche, to call it one, is who you are. It’s your personality. It’s the ability to talk to you. So it’s not finding a difference. It’s just sharing more about yourself. I’ve always said people do business with people. I think that you don’t need to differentiate on the range of services. There’s only so many ways you can do a tax return, but it’s their relationship, the clients’ relationship with you. And I think hobbies and those sorts of things about you, family stories and relatable, becomes your — it can be really used powerfully as a bit of difference to a lot of success. Plus, you can learn interesting things and build relationships. It is all about relationships. And I think by sharing those stories, you can have a laugh and get to know people more.
John: Yeah. Absolutely. Because I mean when you get down to it, accounting is pretty much a commodity. Doing it faster or better, I mean the last person that came in also said they would do it faster and better. So that’s not really a place to hang your hat. I mean we’re all good at our jobs.
Paul: And I think certainly, parts of it are commoditized. I think there’s a far deeper question for a very short podcast, but I think there’s certain parts that are commoditized. But the bit we miss, the bit that the market often misses is the real value in all accounting services is that relationship with the client. It’s delivering the news. It’s having them on the end of the phone and being able to explain that isn’t a computer result, that isn’t — in their best times and their worst times.
I think we often forget as an industry, I don’t, but people who talk about it seem to think that all we do is the data entry and forgetting that very thick relationship side of the role. Certainly, when you look at automation, one is being — can be commoditized at that bookkeeping end but certainly not at the relationship and the high level tax end. And that’s something that whenever I hear commoditization, it’s just like a Pavlovian response. I just have to defend the industry.
John: Yeah. No, you’re exactly right. It’s just that the work itself can be done by any firm anywhere. How you do it and how you deliver it is your differentiator. But professionalism tells us to not do that part of it. That’s actually the differentiator. It’s like, “What?”
Paul: I wrote an article for a professional body magazine in the UK. And I had a line that seems to have resonated. It was, “Large companies have an accounting firm,” or, “Large accounting clients have an accounting firm, but small accounting clients have an accountant.” When they reference it, it’s always a person. “Paul’s my accountant. John’s my accountant. Susie’s my accountant.” It’s not 5ways Group. It comes down to those personal relationships. And I think they are — because we’re all doing tax returns, right, exactly as you said.
John: That’s such a great observation. I would think that it even matters on the larger scale because if a new CFO comes into a company or if a partner retires, I mean things change. All of a sudden, the relationship is different. And it all comes down to the relationship again, which is the human side to us and the personality and sharing those hobbies and passions. That’s awesome, man, very cool. Yeah. This has been so much fun, Paul. But before I wrap it up, it’s only fair that I allow you to rapid-fire question me if you’d like.
Paul: Fair enough. All right. Let’s see whether you are ready. These are the questions for you, John. Comedian or accountant?
John: That’s actually a harder question than you would think because one of them has a steady paycheck and health benefits. And the other one does not. But I’ll go comedian.
Paul: Oh, fair enough. Interviewer or guest?
John: I’m going to go interviewer only because I’ve been the guest on a couple of podcasts that are not very fun from the guest side.
Paul: Fair enough. I have saved the hottest one for last, Vegemite or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?
John: Peanut butter and jelly sandwich all day long.
Paul: Have you ever had Vegemite?
John: I have and maybe I was doing it wrong. I don’t know if you can do it wrong.
Paul: Fair enough.
John: But I’ve been to Australia and I had it. But when I come down and I get to Melbourne, we can Vegemite it up and beers to follow. Thanks so much, Paul, for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”? This was so fun.
Paul: You’re welcome. Have a great day.
John: Everyone listening, if you want to see some pictures of Paul in action or connect with him on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. 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.
Scott is a CPA & Golfer & Ohio State Buckeyes Fan
Scott returns to the podcast from episode 78 to talk about his ongoing passion for Buckeyes football and how he utilizes his favorite football team, his favorite rock band, and golfing for establishing and maintaining connections with employees and clients! He also tells the story of recruiting Josh, Fred and Tonisha who were guests on episode 178.
• Limited going to Buckeyes games
• Rival football fans in the workplace
• Networking through golf, football, and music
• Working with a team that you have connections with
• Making the workplace comfortable
• Recruiting the rappers
• How his firm encourages connectivity and engagement among the employees and clients
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Welcome to Episode 264 of What’s Your “And”? Follow-Up Friday Edition. This is John Garrett. Each Friday, I’m following up with a guest who’d been on the show a few years ago to hear what’s new with their passions outside of work and also hear how this message might’ve impacted them since we last talked.
I’m so excited to let everyone know my book’s being published very soon. It’ll be available on Amazon and a few other websites. So check out whatsyourand.com for all the details or sign up for my exclusive list. You’ll be the first to know when it’s coming out. 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 Follow-up Friday is no different with my guest, Scott Duda. He’s an Audit Partner in the Raleigh Office of Cherry Bekaert. We’ve hung out a couple of times and now, he’s with me here today. Scott, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Scott: Back from Episode 78. Can you believe that? How long it’s been?
John: I know. That’s crazy. I mean it’s completely insane. It doesn’t even feel like it’s that long ago. I don’t know if it’s because you pop up on my social media all the time now that it’s — during college football season especially, but yeah, it’s always fun. But I have my rapid-fire questions up front that I like to do. So here we go. If you had to choose, Harry Potter or Game of Thrones?
Scott: Game of Thrones, no question.
John: Oh, wow. Okay. How about when you were a kid, favorite activity in gym class?
Scott: Oh, basketball.
John: Oh, okay. All right. What’s a typical breakfast?
Scott: I haven’t eaten breakfast since I was 12 years old.
John: Oh my goodness, man. You’re like a robot. That’s impressive. All right. How about more pens or pencils?
Scott: Pens. Don’t make mistake.
John: There you go. I like it. How about more hot or cold?
Scott: Oh, I’d much rather be hot.
John: Yeah. Okay, two more. Do you have a favorite band or musician?
Scott: Guns N’ Roses.
John: Oh, nice. That’s awesome. That’s awesome. And the last one, toilet paper roll, over or under?
Scott: Over. The people that are under need to be banned from ever doing that.
John: From ever anything. Yeah. That’s hilarious.
Scott: They should not be able to make adult decisions.
John: Right? That’s awesome. Yeah. Well, when we chatted on episode 78 a couple of years ago, of course, we talked golf and how much that impacted you and then the Ohio State Buckeyes football especially. Are these still things going on?
Scott: They are, absolutely. Golf is a way that I network. It’s a way I stay connected to my clients. Then Buckeye football is still the one thing that I’m irrationally, emotionally attached to.
John: Right. I’m with you, man. I mean college football is definitely my thing as well. And it’s so crazy that these 18 to 21-year-olds can have such an impact on our attitude for four hours.
Scott: It’s not just four hours, I’m telling you. If we ever lose to Michigan, I can tell for the next 364 days that I’m just a little bit less happy. If we win, I’m skipping all through the next year.
John: Yeah. Because I mean you haven’t lost in them in so many years.
Scott: Hey, knock on wood. Don’t jinx us. We’re recording two weeks before that game.
John: Right. That’s very true. And it was funny when we chatted before that we were actually both at the game when Notre Dame played at Ohio State.
Scott: That’s right.
John: I feel like in the mid-’90s. You were an alum, I’d like to point out. I was still a student, but no. But that’s definitely a thing that both of us share, which is really cool when we meet up or whenever we talk. It’s something that we’re able to bring up.
Scott: Nobody’s going to look at the pictures that we have associated with this podcast and not think that I’m older than you, so you don’t need to make that point.
John: That’s a good point. I got the grades going on, for sure. I mean have you been able to get back to any games?
Scott: Yeah. I go back quite a bit. It used to be that — people used to ask me if I was a season ticket holder. It’s not quite that much anymore. Like I said, I’m getting older. I like the hot; I don’t like the cold. So I’ve drawn the line on going back for home games after about the middle of October, especially if it’s a big game that I want to get to. It’s probably a night game. Then you’re talking about temperatures in the 40s or maybe the 30s. So unless it’s a Michigan home game, I’ll go back for that. But usually, for me, it shuts down probably about the middle of October. The last game I was back for this year was the Wisconsin game.
John: That was a really good game, for sure, especially for you. The excitement around it was there. Then Ohio State quickly squandered that. So that was an impressive one for sure. Is this something that you share with others around you? I mean they’re probably also cheering for Ohio State in the Michigan game because they want you to be in a better mood.
Scott: A lot of my partners are graduates of SEC schools, so they want the Buckeyes to lose. I’ve got Alabama. I’ve got Georgia. I’ve got Auburn. They’re rooting for the Buckeyes to lose early and often in general.
John: They prefer grumpy Scott. I like that. All right. I see what’s up. For selfish reasons on their part, of course. But it is something that you’re able to talk about besides work.
Scott: Oh, yeah, absolutely. We mentioned golf. That’s something I can talk to the staff about or take the staff out. Football is the same way. Especially this time of year, I mean it starts up latter half of the summer. We start talking about the season already. And that carries us all the way through the middle of January these days. So that’s something that we’ve always got going. There’s Fantasy Football Leagues around here. I’ve got two partners at Cherry Bekaert that both think as highly of Guns N’ Roses as I do. We go to several concerts throughout the year. Then I’m sharing those pictures on social media and staff in the Tampa office was like, “What are you two doing?” It’s just this like, “Oh, they’re real people too.”
Anyway, it’s a different world. When I started, it was like you had to be a certain type of person. I mean I will tell you, I probably wouldn’t have admitted that Guns N’ Roses was my favorite band to a partner that was asking me 20 years ago. And I certainly wouldn’t have shared pictures of me at the concert with somebody back then because you had to be a certain way. The profession has changed now. It’s really nice that you can just be yourself, be authentic and everybody is so accepting of it.
John: Speaking at the partner retreat for Cherry Bekaert, it was so cool as well just to see that room go from a roomful of partners to a roomful of people that I would all hang out with. These are actually cool, interesting people. There was the guy that raises cattle or something like that in Texas.
Scott: That’s right. You remember that. Yeah.
John: Yeah. Then the guy that builds his own fly fishing rods. Really fascinating group of people. All of a sudden, once you get down below that surface level, it becomes really neat. How much do you feel like that matters to the work product in the end?
Scott: I mean it’s all about connections, right? You work better with the team that you have connections with. And you work better with the clients that you have connections with. Then you just feel like you’re all a part of a team and you’re all working toward a consistent goal. It’s just a matter of finding those. Usually, you ask enough questions and you spend enough time together. You’ll find some things that you have in common. Everybody doesn’t have to love college football, although they should. There’s something that I’ve got that I can connect with somebody. And there’s something that they’ve got that we can connect over. Then that’s going to allow us to have a better relationship and then allow us to work better together. Being able to find those things is really cool.
John: That’s fantastic because even if it isn’t the exact same thing, at least you better understand that person and what drives them. Then, yeah, if somebody stumbles across, “Hey, I saw Guns N’ Roses performing somewhere,” they make a mention of it type of a thing instead of starting the conversation with work stuff and only work stuff.
John: That’s really cool, man. As a partner, I mean especially somebody that a lot of people look up to especially in your office, how much do you look at these outside-of-work passions and interests? In the old days, they were distractions or weaknesses? How do you look at them now?
Scott: It’s all about being comfortable. You can’t work 24/7 and only focus on this. And if somebody does, then you almost wonder what’s wrong, right? So to have something — I know for me, the things that I do outside of the office, they relaxed me, they distract me, they allow me to come back refreshed. And I’m sure it’s the same for everybody. So you want them to have those things. The profession in general is much more receptive to those things being not only something that you do and pursue but working around them as opposed to those things working around your work life. It’s give and take, whatever you want to call it, that the profession is going through. It seems like we’re settling in to a good mix of just trying to manage the two and be receptive to it while making sure that the work gets done and the clients are served.
John: Yeah. I mean there’s still work to be done, but there’s also so much more to the people around you that you hired. So it’s cool. And I know Cherry Bekaert definitely thinks that way as a firm. And it’s cool because I had on the three rappers that created that Cherry Bekaert rap and the video and everything. That was really cool.
Scott: I remember recruiting them.
John: Yeah. That’s awesome.
Scott: And it was the same thing. If you gave us a list of ten things — or not even that. If you just looked on its face, at that time, I was probably 20 plus years their senior. I’m recruiting them and you say, “What do they have in common?” And after a few questions during the recruiting process, one of them ran track and I had that in common with him. We started bonding over that. Then you see him and all of our additional CPEs or we’re just in an event throughout the year. You can connect over that. Then I found out about the rap and I was like, “John needs to talk to these folks.”
John: Yeah, for sure. They were so great on there. And it’s something where now, the CEO or the managing partner of the firm knows them by name. I mean that’s crazy. As an associate in senior associate level, forget about it. If they know your name, it’s because it’s something bad and they’re not going to know it for very long. So that’s such a cool thing that the Cherry Bekaert did. And I love that. I think it’s a great example of what to do. Is there anything that you do specifically like within your office to encourage this sharing? Obviously, setting the tone at the top is a great start.
Scott: We’re always looking for ways to get people connected. We’ve got a task force here that does that. What they’re doing, when we onboard folks, they’re making them aware that this is something that we encourage and that we want them to take advantage of. We’ve got enough people in this office now, hundred plus, that if you’ve got an interest, it’s likely that there’s somebody else in the office that has the same interest, right? So you name it and you can probably find somebody here who does it and then you build a group around that. And it’s not exclusive where only certain people are allowed in Fantasy Football League or whatever. We’ll just have three or four of them and for various levels and how serious you are about it or whatever the case may be.
You know Jonathan Kraftchick in our office. He went for the North Carolina Funniest CPA or whatever. Well, then there were others that were interested in that over the years that were like they would never do it. Then they heard that he did it and they were like, “You know what? I’d like to do that.” And I think over the last probably five plus years, I think we’ve had three or four others get on stage and try stand-up. They’ve got that in common now. And that’s really cool that they may otherwise have not done.
John: Right. Absolutely. Or they would never talk because, “I probably don’t have anything in common with you. And maybe I talk about something work-related, but that’s very surface level and very forgettable.” Yeah. I mean they’re all funnier than Kraftchick too, so that’s even better. That just makes it so much better.
Scott: There is one that — I mean Jonathan’s excellent. We joke, but there’s one that I think actually is better than him.
John: Then now, Kraftchick listening, he’s like, “I don’t know which one it is.”
Scott: Oh, he knows.
John: That’s awesome. Very cool, very cool. Well, this has been so much fun catching up with you and hearing what you got going on there at Cherry Bekaert. Yeah. But before we wrap it up, it’s only fair that I allow you to question me since I came out of the gate firing. So if you have anything, fire away.
Scott: I’ve got a serious one and I’ve got a less serious one. I’ll start with the less serious one. How many points would Ohio State beat Notre Dame by in a hypothetical bowl game this year?
John: That would probably be — I don’t know. It will say ten. Even though — I gave you double digits. I gave you double digits. Depending on injuries and what have you, there’s a lot of points being scored by Ohio State. That’s for sure.
Scott: Okay. Then the more serious one — and I’m curious about this answer — you were early in on this movement of “Be yourself. Be authentic,” within the profession. Looking back on that, is there something that you would change as you went through that transition of, “I’m going to be a partner in a CPA firm,” to, “I’m going to do what I do now.” It’s obviously been very successful for you. Would you change anything through that process?
John: I like to be explicit and tell people not to follow in what I did exactly. The piece that I focus on is the sharing of I did stand-up. Then I had a partner that I never worked with and never met remember me 12 years later out of nowhere at a conference. That’s the guy who did comedy at night. So that’s the piece that I really want people to take away. I was doing well. I enjoyed what I was doing and the work I was doing. I just felt like there was this other thing that I needed to go explore. So I guess in my personal career, the one thing that I would change is probably just be more fearless. The accountant in me is strong. The risk-averse accountant to me is very strong.
Scott: Same as last year.
John: Yeah, exactly. Just do the same as last year and the CYA file is monstrous. But yeah, it’s just, “Get out of my own way,” and actually let it rip and that we all have something to offer no matter what our profession is. So take the gloves off and offer it instead of tiptoeing and being reluctant or that risk-averseness. And it’s something that I’m getting better at now. The podcast and talking to people and sharing people’s stories is great. Then every time I speak, talking to people after, it’s really cool.
The feedback after that Cherry Bekaert partner retreat was just amazing, people talking afterwards and then messaging me as well. Yeah, it really means a lot, so it’s cool. No matter what it is that we do, just do it. Be that. You don’t have to pretend to be an accountant or a lawyer or whatever you are. You are it. I went through it writing my book. Man, brutal. I always thought that authors were these super smart, all-knowing, people that we all look up to and I’m not that. And it’s like, “No, I’m writing a book. I’m an author. That’s the definition of it. That’s all you got to do.” So I needed to take my own medicine there.
There you go. So there’s some deep wisdom I get. Man, you make my brain hurt. Good lord. No, but it was so fun, Scott, catching up. Thanks again for a being part of What’s Your “And”?
Scott: Same, I’m very happy. Thanks for having me back.
John: Absolutely. Everyone listening, if you want to see some pictures of Scott in action or maybe connect with him on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. 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.
Greg is an Accountant & Deacon
Deacon Greg Papineau returns to the podcast to talk about his many passions including helping people as both a deacon and an accountant, as well as golfing, and his family! Greg gives us an update on how he has been encouraging his team at the office to participate in outdoor events participating in the USGA Senior Open!
• Meeting other deacons who are also accountants
• Baptizing his granddaughters
• Participating in a new men’s group
• What it means to be a deacon
• How Greg’s passion goes hand-in-hand with being a deacon and an accountant
• Being the Chair of the Scoring Division for the USGA Senior Open
• How Greg connects with his co-workers in the office
• Meeting Rudy Ruettiger
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Welcome to Episode 220 of What’s Your “And”? Follow-Up Friday edition. This is john Garrett. Each Friday I follow up with a guest who’s been on the show a few years ago to hear what’s new with their passions outside of work and also hear how this message has impacted them since we last talked.
I’m so excited to let everyone know that my book is being published very soon. It’ll be available on Amazon and a few other websites. So check out whatsyourand.com for all the details, or sign up for my exclusive list and you’ll be the first to know. Please don’t forget to hit Subscribe so you don’t miss any of the future episodes because I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week.
This Follow-Up Friday is no different with my guest, Greg Papineau. He’s the Director of Audit and Assurance at BiggsKofford in Colorado Springs, and now he’s with me here today in his office in Colorado Springs.
Greg, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Greg: Oh, John, it’s great to be here. It’s good to see you again.
John: Oh, absolutely, man. This is so awesome to be in your office and hanging out and go to lunch together. Yes. So thanks, man.
Greg: Yeah, you got to see a little bit of Colorado Springs, the Broadmoor, and tour the city.
John: Yeah. It was really great. But maybe before we did that, I should have done the rapid-fire questions just to make sure.
Greg: That’s fine. Go for it.
John: Here we go. Here we go. If you had to choose, Harry Potter or Game of Thrones?
Greg: Game of Thrones.
John: Okay, okay. What’s a typical breakfast?
Greg: A green smoothie.
John: Wow, like kale green?
Greg: Yeah, like kale green with spinach, lettuce, avocado, mint.
John: So anything green?
Greg: Anything green.
John: Nice. I like it. Okay, awesome and healthy.
Greg: And healthy.
John: Good for you, man. More jeans or khakis?
John: Khakis. Okay. All right.
Greg: Actually, shorts.
John: Shorts. Khaki shorts.
Greg: Shorts and flip flops.
John: There you go. There you go. Cats or dogs?
John: Dogs, nice. How about if you had to choose brownie or ice cream?
Greg: Ice cream.
John: Ice cream. Good answer, man. Good answer. Favorite sports team?
Greg: Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks.
John: Oh, interesting choices.
Greg: I lived in Seattle for all my life until I moved to Colorado, and my wife converted me to a Broncos fan. So when the Broncos and Seahawks played in the Super Bowl a couple years back, I couldn’t lose.
John: That’s tough. Right, exactly.
Greg: I couldn’t lose.
John: Exactly. And the last one, this is maybe the most important one, toilet paper, roll over or under?
Greg: I used to didn’t care then I started seeing that over all the time, so now it’s over. You’re taking off the roll too when it’s over.
John: You flip it around. Nice. That’s awesome. So last time we talked, Episode 43, you were a deacon in the Catholic Church which is so unique. I don’t know. Have you come across any other CPA/deacons?
Greg: A couple of them.
Greg: I had a client in Denver who on their finance council is a CPA, and he’s also a deacon with the Catholic Church. Their organization is a Catholic organizations.
John: Oh, that’s awesome.
Greg: The Augustine Institute but —
John: So there are more.
Greg: There are more. There are more of us crazy guys.
John: Sounds like we need to get that person on the podcast, but until then, it’s you, man. It’s all you. So you’re still doing that and still actively involved in the church.
Greg: Oh, yeah, very active. You know, just for the refresher, I was ordained in June of 2011 as a permanent deacon in the Catholic Church. And so it is permanent, something I can’t change. I basically, as I say, as a deacon, we can marry, bury and baptize. So most fun thing I’ve done the last couple of years, I’ve had a chance to baptize my three granddaughters.
Greg: That was the best.
John: That’s really cool.
Greg: They’re now seven, five, and almost three. So the five-year-old and the three-year-old, I baptized since the last time we talked.
John: That’s fantastic.
Greg: That’s just great. And you get a chance to witness marriages, preside at wakes and funerals, and then you serve at mass. But primarily, it’s just ministry service. You get to go out and meet people out in the outer fringes of our parish, go to people who are homebound, maybe because they’re sick or they had a surgery and they couldn’t make it to church. So we’ll go visit them, bring communion to them or just to come visit.
John: That’s awesome, man.
Greg: One of the most fun things I do now is I have a men’s group that meets every Friday morning. So we meet at six o’clock in the morning. Time for men to get together and talk. I mean kind of a novel concept, men to talk about their feelings, but we try to get men to do that and so I do that. I just love doing it. It’s been the passion of my life.
John: But it’s great, man.
Greg: Things that give me joy in life and gets me up every day.
John: Yeah, this translates to your career. I know we talked about it before, but your level of service is way more than what mine was when I was a CPA, that’s for sure.
Greg: All of us accountants, a lot of us like to sit at our office desk a lot, but I think this is really a profession of serving people. You need to enjoy doing that. And so really deacon is a derivative of a Greek word called diakonos which means servant.
John: Oh, there you go.
Greg: It’s really fit into my lifestyle becoming a deacon, but being a deacon really complements me as a CPA because I love serving people. I love helping people. And that’s what makes this profession a lot of fun, as you and I talked about today. Just going out there helping people and helping them achieve their goals and building relationships with people.
John: Yeah, that go way deeper than just the numbers and the financial statements.
Greg: Way deeper than the numbers, yeah. And that could be golf to drinking fine wine to sharing a good meal, and maybe it’s just getting together for a nice lunch and asking people what’s going on in their lives. That’s the fun part. What’s new in your life? I always ask my clients that question all the time. So just to find out more what’s going on and how I can connect with that.
John: Plus, then maybe you can be steps ahead and serving them as the trusted advisor that everyone wants to be is you’re actually an advisor because you’re like, “Oh, well, if that’s what you want to do, then you might want to know that there’s these tax implications” or whatever it is. We want to buy a house in Europe. It’s like, oh, well, here’s how this is going to matter.
John: And that way then you can actually care for them above and beyond just what do you need right now?
Greg: Well, I think that’s the whole role of a CPA is you want to be that trusted advisor, and they want you to help come alongside them and give them advice. That’s what they pay you for. They pay you for advice. They don’t pay you because you do a tax return. My tax return looks just like the same as anybody else’s tax return does, but it’s the advice you have and the advice you give them and how you help them to achieve their goals. And understanding what they’re passionate about helps you to hopefully help them at the same time.
John: Yeah, absolutely.
Greg: Whether that’s been from a tax perspective, from a consulting perspective, whatever the case might be.
John: Yeah, or just caring.
Greg: And just caring.
John: Just caring about you as a person, which is awesome.
Greg: I think it brings the clients back, at least it has for me.
John: Just looking around your office too, clearly golf is also a passion of yours. There are some giant framed pictures of beautiful golf course that I thought was Ireland but apparently is Colorado.
Greg: Yeah, it’s up in the northeast corner of Colorado with the top hundred golf course in the world that I play and a member of. I just got back there from this past weekend, and it’s a lot of fun. Golf is something I’m very passionate about. In fact, last summer in 2018, we got the USGA Senior Open here at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, I was the chair of the scoring division.
John: Wow, that’s intense.
Greg: That was intense.
John: Like that’s all of it.
Greg: That’s all of it. All the scoring. So you think of all the leaderboards that are around the golf course, all the walking scores, there were lasers set up so they can measure distances to the hole, how long a drive was. There were standard bearers. They’re the guys that walk along behind the groups here with the names and what their score was.
John: You’re in charge of all of that?
Greg: I’m in charge of all the scoring.
John: Oh, my Lord.
Greg: That was a great event. Started Monday morning at six o’clock and ended Sunday night about eight o’clock.
John: And you had zero sleep in between there.
Greg: It felt like that. But that was a great event. It was a great community event here in Colorado Springs.
John: That’s awesome.
Greg: And took the week off and did a little community service. And didn’t take a vacation day for that. I don’t know if I should tell everybody that. I did code it on my time sheet as community service.
John: Yeah. But it’s a passion of yours. So it’s not even like, I mean, it’s super fun exponentially.
Greg: It was so much fun.
John: That’s awesome.
Greg: I had a buddy mine from Oregon came out here to help me. It happened the very first day. I met a guy, he was trying to find the 10th tee in the 10th tee at the Broadmoor is way out on the other end of the property. So I gave him a ride out. I was talking to him about that. He knew people I knew in Des Moines, Iowa.
Greg: Yeah, amazing. Another guy talked to his son and found out he was a wine broker in Atlanta, Georgia. During the competition, he walks over to me says, “My son says, you’re a wine guy.” We started talking about wine as we’re walking down another fairway.
John: Those are good friends to have, man.
Greg: It was great. The senior players are much more approachable and much less intense. Now, don’t get me wrong. There are some intense guys that are out there, but for a lot of them out there, it’s a second career for them.
John: Yeah, they’re just having fun.
Greg: Yeah, in fact, one guy played. I went to shake his hand. He didn’t shake my hand. He gave me a big hug.
Greg: So it was great. It was fun.
John: That’s cool, man.
Greg: It’s a fun way to meet a lot of people.
John: Yeah, but also to be a part of USGA Senior Open, that’s a big deal.
Greg: It was impressive. We had a Senior Open at the Broadmoor in 2008 and then a Women’s Open in 2011. I was in charge for walking scores. But this time, I was in charge of all the scoring and so that was fun.
John: That’s really cool.
Greg: A free access to everything and walking out of any place I wanted to. That was fun. But that wasn’t the most important thing. We had some great players. I got to pitch with John Smoltz.
John: Oh, there you go.
Greg: He qualified in playing the Senior Open.
John: That’s cool.
Greg: That was cool.
John: Yeah, yeah. And it’s one of those things where you don’t even think that that’s a job until somebody messes up and then it’s like, ah. You have nothing to gain and everything to lose which is probably very similar to being an auditor.
Greg: Yep, exactly.
John: Nobody even knows who the auditor is and then all of a sudden, a big thing hits and it’s like, ah, shoot. That’s really cool, though, man. That’s it awesome thing.
Greg: It was a fun week. It was a great week. The weather was incredible. It was hot. But we had to keep all the volunteers well hydrated. And some of the volunteers up on the scoreboards, we had to make sure they had water. All the numbers are up there. All the names were all rubber. We have a meeting every day and one time they requested we go get some gloves. So we had to go to Home Depot to get gloves. All the letters and all the numbers were just hot. They couldn’t handle.
John: Yeah, because there’s so much sun here in Colorado too.
John: Yeah, and so is this idea of sharing passions outside of work something that you’ve seen more of since you were on the podcast, or is anything different?
Greg: It is. I think it’s very important. I think people need to have a life outside of work, number one. And I know as a firm we work really hard to try to get people involved in outside activities.
John: Right, just out of the out of the office.
Greg: Oh, get out of the office. In fact, we have a team meeting once a month. We have a different team member that leads the meeting and usually put some photos or videos up on the screen to talk about themselves, their families, what they do outside of work, not to do with inside of work, who their kids are, their dogs or cats or animals, what their passions are.
John: That’s huge. Do you find that that leads to some conversation or at least a different context of who that person is?
Greg: Well, we hope it does. Maybe not all the time. We’re accountants, nevertheless. But I think it does lead to some conversation, at least you can try to have a connection with people. Living in Colorado Springs, it’s a very outdoors place. People are actively involved in the outdoors, and so we promote that. And so when people do things, we try to celebrate that as a firm. We had one lady that worked here, and her husband was an Olympic athlete. And he qualified for the finals of the 3,000-meter steeplechase. That was in Rio de Janeiro. So at the end of the team meeting, it was coming on live. So we stayed and watched him race his race right on television. So when he came back in the States, we all congratulated him and congratulated her, asked how were the Olympics, did you have fun, and just a nice passion in that regard.
John: Yeah, yeah, because you hired the whole person. Clearly, her husband being an Olympic athlete is a big piece of who she is as a person.
Greg: Oh, it’s unbelievable. We have a manager here whose son is probably one of the top cross-country high schoolers in the nation. His son went back to Florida and won the National High School cross-country championships for high school as a freshman. So he came back and taken videos of it. We all sat around and watched the video. He was commentating. But we tried to get into what he’s doing and send some text to him during the day of the race. “Hey, Eric, do a great job.” It’s just fun to just get engaged in other people’s lives.
John: It’s just fun. It makes work more enjoyable.
Greg: More enjoyable. And then when the kids come in, I was always high fiving them. How are you guys doing? How’s racing going? How’s your training going? Whatever the case might be, we can always have a connection with the family members as well, I think not only with the team members but with the family members. It’s so important to understand the kids and get to know them as well.
John: Yeah, that’s such a big piece of who they are.
Greg: Exactly. You get outside of work, work is important and what we do is important, it helps our clients financially, but there’s more to life than tax returns and financial statements and all the things that go along with what we’re doing. But same point in time, you need to have a fun time and you need to enjoy your job. I always say, get jazzed up, come to work every day.
John: People are typically more jazzed up about the outside of work than the inside of work, stereotypically.
Greg: They are, but they enjoy coming to work more when they know the people inside care for them, without a doubt.
John: Exactly. If you can talk about those outside of work things inside work, now you’re equally jazzed. You can bring that stuff inside. You can have those conversations. You can watch the videos. You can follow up question, like how’s that going? Because then it shows people that you care about them as a person.
Greg: Oh, without a doubt. You talk about golf, even during the Masters week, we got computers have the Masters going on internally all the time. I walk over, “Who’s leading? What happened?” It’s not like, “What are you guys doing? Get back to work.” We’re all trying to, no. People are working hard and everybody knows they got to get the job done, but we’re trying to have fun at the same time.
John: Provided the outputs there, then yeah, then that’s great. So do you have any words of encouragement for people listening that think, I mean, you’re a deacon in a Catholic Church, which clearly no business school told me to go do that. I went to Notre Dame, for crying out loud. So you would think if anywhere did —
Greg: There was a few clergy running around there.
John: Right. But any words of encouragement to anyone listening that has a passion that they think is unrelated to their career?
Greg: Well, pursue it, number one, then do it 110%. Don’t do it half-heartedly in what you’re doing, but pursue it. And then don’t be afraid to talk about it. Share your passions with your teammates, with your coworkers, with your clients. You never know by sharing that with other people what impact that could have with them, whatever that might be, whatever your passion is. Maybe they have the same interest that you do, and therefore, all of a sudden, you’re now connected with them in a different way besides the numbers.
John: Because that’s the thing that we forget is clients also have passions that are outside of their work. So just talking about them about law or accounting or engineering or IT or whatever your career is, yeah, that’s great, but you can connect —
Greg: Well, it’s about building relationships in this profession. If I build relationships, you got to have some things in common with people and having a passion outside of work and connecting with other people regarding that helps build that relationship.
John: Yeah, I love that.
Greg: And that’s what makes it fun. This profession is all about is helping people and having a good time doing it.
John: That’s it, and you’re nailing both. I think you’re doing great, and that’s cool to see it in person and to be here at the big Skofford office and hang out. Before I bring this in for a landing, it’s only fair that I rudely rapid-fire question to you right out of the gate. So you can fire away at me. I’m ready. Here we go. And I have to look you in the eye as I answer, so I’m extra nervous.
Greg: All right, what’s your favorite color?
John: Favorite color, blue.
Greg: Okay, what’s your favorite movie?
John: Favorite movie? I would probably have to say Dumb and Dumber is a pretty good movie. It’s very well written and absolutely hilarious. And you can watch at any point in the movie and be just fine. So that’s always a pick me up, or Rudy if you want me to cry.
Greg: I think you asked me that question three years ago, what movie makes you cry? My first response was Rudy.
John: Yeah, Rudy is immediate. But I’ll watch that movie all day.
Greg: Actually, every day.
John: Oh, yeah. The real Rudy.
Greg: The real Rudy. A lot of big people that I know here in Colorado Springs were at Notre Dame went to college with him and were his fraternity brothers.
John: Yeah, he’s a very persistent individual.
Greg: Yeah, exactly. What kind of car do you drive?
John: What kind of car do I drive? So we have an Audi A3.
Greg: Okay, do you ski?
John: Snowboard. So fun fact on that, I hadn’t done anything on the snow since I was in third grade and that was in Ohio. So those are hills. Those aren’t mountains. And so I skateboarded a little bit in like late elementary school. So I was like, “All right, I’m going to try snowboarding.” So I hadn’t done anything since third grade until two years ago when I moved here. So now I’m snowboarding. I’m actually okay. I’m actually not embarrassing. So that’s good. I haven’t hurt myself or anyone else, more importantly.
Greg: So left foot or right foot forward?
John: Left foot forward.
Greg: What do they call that? Freaky?
John: No, no, I’m the regular whatever it’s called. Not goofy. I think goofy is the other one.
Greg: The either one, is that what it is?
John: But either way, I think just looking at me, you were like, it’s got to be freaky.
Greg: I see. So I don’t snowboard.
John: Right, right. So that’s awesome, man. Well, thanks so much, Greg, for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”? This was so much fun.
Greg: Awesome. Thank you, John. I enjoyed it very much.
John: Very cool. And everyone listening, if you want to see some pictures of Greg in action or maybe connect with him on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourandnd.com. All the links are there. And 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.