Episode 264 – Scott Duda
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.