Brian is an Accountant & Ironman
Brian Dubow talks about how he discovered his passion for running endurance marathons, how it has helped him with his overall perspective and connecting with people in the workplace, and what type 2 fun means!
• Getting into endurance running
• Attempting the 6 biggest marathons in 6 years
• How his experience in running marathons applies to his career
• People respect the passion
• Run your own race
• Type 2 fun
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Welcome to Episode 419 of What’s Your “And”? This is John Garrett, and each Wednesday, I interview a professional who, just like me, is known for a hobby or a passion or an interest outside of work. To put it another way, it’s encouraging people to find their “and”, those things above and beyond your technical skills, the things that actually differentiate you when you’re at work.
If you like what the show is about, be sure to check out the book. It’s on Amazon, Indigo, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop, a few other websites. All the links are at whatsyourand.com. The book goes more in depth with the research behind why these outside-of-work passions are so crucial to your corporate culture. If you want me to read the book to you, that’s right, this voice reading the book, the audio version’s out, so look for What’s Your “And’? on Audible or wherever you get your audio books. I can’t say how much it means that everyone’s reading it and writing such great reviews on Amazon and, more importantly, changing the cultures where they work because of it.
Please don’t forget to hit subscribe to the podcast, so you don’t miss any of the future episodes. I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week, and if you have a hobby or a passion outside of work or you know someone that does, please reach out because I’d love to showcase you on the show and share more stories of professionals shattering the stereotype.
This week is going to be awesome with my guest Brian Dubow. His background is as a deals consultant and then a Global Talent and Impact Senior Associate at PwC. Now he’s getting his MBA at UCLA Anderson School of Management. He’s also the host of a Hit of Happiness podcast, and now he’s with me here today. Brian, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Brian: Hey, John. I couldn’t find anyone cooler to hang out with, for this hour, so there we are.
John: Nice, nice. Already my most favorite guest. Here we go. We have a winner. There it is. That’s awesome, man. I’m excited to have you be a part of this, and it was fun being a part of your podcast as well, Hit of Happiness, which is very cool. Here are some rapid-fire questions I didn’t ask. Before we hang out in person, I figured, get to know Brian on a new level here. I’ll start out with a somewhat easy one. Favorite color.
Brian: Favorite color, blue.
John: Blue, nice. Mine too. How about a least favorite color?
Brian: Brown. I don’t think anyone looks good in brown.
John: I think brown is just there to accentuate the color of the other thing.
Brian: It makes things look good actually. Surround yourself with brown, you’re going to blossom.
John: That’s why they give dudes khaki pants. You can’t mess up, just this and whatever. It works. Right?
John: How about cats or dogs?
Brian: Grew up with dogs, yeah. I love dogs.
John: Totally. How about a favorite actor or actress?
Brian: Leonardo DiCaprio, man.
John: Oh, okay.
Brian: All his movies get me going, especially the psychological thrillers out there.
John: Oh, yeah, yeah. No, he’s very good, for sure. This is a fun one someone asked me, so I’d like to flip it back. Socks or shoes.
Brian: Wow, that’s a tough one because —
John: It is. Right?
Brian: I love shoes, but I would never want to wear my shoes without socks. So, what came first, the chicken or the egg here?
John: That’s exactly what —
Brian: I guess, for that reason, I need the socks.
John: Yeah, exactly. Plus, socks are fun. You get some pretty fun dress socks especially, and stuff like that. I wasn’t sure if your being originally a Miami guy, if you were like, who needs socks? No, I agree, man. I agree. How about a favorite day of the week?
Brian: I love Saturdays. Saturdays are the days, you wake up, you grab a bagel and just get after it.
John: Right? There it is. Yeah, it’s like do what you want. There you go. That’s when college football happens, so that’s even better. How about puzzles, Sudoku, crossword, jigsaw?
Brian: I would say Sudoku. I’m a numbers guy. I love numbers, so test me with numbers, we’re having fun.
John: Awesome All right. Since you have the CPA background, balance sheet or income statement.
Brian: Balance sheet. There’s something just a little nice when things all check out. It gives you that nice little high for a minute when everything balances.
John: You know if it’s wrong. The income statement could be wrong. I don’t know. It might be. The balance sheet is like, all right, it’s definitely not right.
Brian: Something’s off.
John: Exactly. It’s perfect. How about Star Wars or Star Trek?
Brian: I was never into either of those series, but I did go to Disney recently, and they have this whole new Star Wars Land with some cool rides. I will give the check to Star Wars for that reason.
John: Yeah, there you go. There’s no Star Trek Land. There we go. How about computer, PC or a Mac?
Brian: Wow. I like what Mac offers and their brand and their why, but all I need is an HP. I’m not a tech wizard. A PC gives me everything I need.
John: There we go. That’s basic. There we go. How about a suit and tie or jeans and a T-shirt?
Brian: That’s a tough one because it feels good to look good.
Brian: It feels really good, but it also doesn’t feel good when that tie is a little too tight.
John: Right. Right.
Brian: Jeans and a T-shirt.
John: Okay, okay. Yeah, fair enough. How about a favorite ice cream flavor? I love ice cream.
Brian: I love ice cream too. Coconut.
John: Coconut. Oh, okay. There we go. That’s interesting. All right. How about a favorite season, spring, winter, fall, summer?
Brian: I think I have to give it to fall. I feel like fall is just — everyone’s away for summer. Everyone’s on their own journey. Everyone comes back for fall. The excitement is there. College football is there. Life is exciting.
John: Yeah, yeah, and it’s done being gross hot. It’s just appropriately temperature outside. There you go. How about a first concert?
Brian: First concert, wow. I have to go deep in the archives for that. I would say my first concert was probably with my family, something like Britney Spears or Gwen Stefanie.
John: Oh, okay. Okay. There we go. Nice. Like a family trip. There you go.
Brian: I’ve been to a lot of concerts since then, and completely different genres, but if we’re going back to the beginning, that’s the OG.
John: There we go. Well, those are not too bad, I guess. How about a favorite number?
Brian: Favorite number, aha, my first thought is 25.
Brian: It’s just the number I wore when I played high school sports. Maybe it’s because there’s 25 cents in a quarter. I’m not really sure why that’s the number, but 25.
John: Okay. No, that works. I’ve got two more. How about books, audio version, e-book or real book?
Brian: Real book. I read before I go to bed every night. That’s part of my shutdown process, so I love a good real book. Yeah, there you go.
Brian: Including your book, I have your book next to my nightstand, John, What’s Your “And”?
John: Oh, wow. Okay. My apologies in advance, everyone.
Brian: You’re rocking me to bed every night, John.
John: Well, wait till the audio one, and it’s even worse. He’s in my head. He’s in my head. Get out. The last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own, besides a copy of my book. No, I’m just kidding.
Brian: That’s top five.
John: All right, all right. Fair enough.
Brian: Favorite thing, I have a bracelet I wear that says. “Manifest on it.” Someone who I coached for a little bit, she got it for me. Just looking at that on my wrist every day helps me believe that anything’s possible, and what I’ve set my mind to, I can make happen and manifest it. That’s probably my favorite item that makes other items in my life way cooler, if that makes sense.
John: Yeah. No, that totally makes sense. I love it. That’s awesome. Which leads into a little bit of the distance athlete, everything, how did you get started, the running, swimming, training for the Ironman, all of that stuff? Was it something that you grew up doing? Or was it something you got into later in life? Yeah, I do like running and cycling and all this far type of thing?
Brian: Yeah, that’s a good question, John. Running, I played sports in high school and growing up, but I was never track and field star or anything like that. I probably never ran more than five or six miles until I got to college. College, I started running a little bit more because I started gaining the freshman 15. It’s like, I got to do something about this. Sometimes it’s five miles or eight miles, whatnot. Then my mom’s 50th birthday came around. She’s a bit of a runner. As she was signing up for a half marathon, and asked if I would do with her as a 50th birthday gift, I was like, absolutely. That was my first half marathon. That opened up doors for a few more half marathons. Then, after school, I moved to New York City, and I decided to enter the lottery for the New York City Marathon. I think the odds of winning the lottery is maybe one in six or something, not great odds. I was like, this is just something that it’ll make a good story one day. I entered the lottery, didn’t get it.
John: Yeah. Oh, shucks.
Brian: Fortunately, I won, fortunately or unfortunately. It’s like, all right, I have six months to train to become one of those crazy people who do marathons. That leads you down this rabbit hole where you start talking to other people who have done marathons, teach me, how do I train, what do I do, et cetera, et cetera. Slowly, you just peel back layers of the onion where, all of a sudden, you’re changing your diet, you’re changing your sleeping habits, you’re changing various aspects of your life, and I did my first marathon.
John: That’s awesome, and New York City Marathon, which is one of the icons. That’s cool.
Brian: It was really special. All my friends were there. My family was there. Going into the marathon, I was like, all right, one and done. This will be another bucket list thing. I finished the marathon, woke up the next day, could barely walk or get out of bed.
John: Oh, yeah. Right?
Brian: Therefore, I entered the lottery for the Chicago Marathon.
John: That’s crazy.
Brian: Yeah. So, entered that lottery, of course, won that lottery, not of course, but that’s the way life works sometimes.
John: Yeah, you manifested it.
Brian: I manifested it, exactly. I envisioned it, so there I was. From that point, I got a new goal in my life. I’m a very goal-oriented person. There’s the big six marathons. There’s New York, Chicago, Boston, Tokyo, London and Berlin. I was now going to do my second marathon in two years, and I said, you know what? Maybe I should do the big six. Maybe I should do the big six in six years. That would be kind of cool. That became my next goal. I did Chicago, then I signed up for Berlin. I was supposed to do Berlin in 2020. That’s when COVID hit, world blew up, to some extent, and so my plan of the big six marathons in six years kind of exploded. I started reevaluating life, as we all do, on personal level and also on my sports endurance goals.
Brian: I wondered, how can I use this time most effectively? What is the opportunity in front of me? That’s when I decided to pivot and say, I’ve heard about these crazy people who do triathlons, who do Ironman, but I’ve always been hesitant because it’s 20, 25 hours of training a week. I was like, I’ll never find that time. Also, at the time, I was a consultant, Monday to Thursday, on a plane. You don’t have a bike, or you’re not guaranteed a pool at the hotel you’re staying at. With all this remote work, I was like, you know what? Maybe this is the time in my life to do an Ironman.
Brian: As I hear myself saying that, I’m thinking, Brian, you’re a crazy person. Maybe I am, but that’s okay. We’re all a little crazy.
John: No, no. It makes total sense. The universe created the space, and you could be training for the big six marathons, which would be awesome to do, but doing the the Ironman is also a cool goal. You had this energy and this focus that was on one thing. You can’t do it. Alright, well, let’s just change the target to something actually maybe even bigger and badder than the original. I wish that half marathons weren’t called half marathons because they’re not half of anything. They’re still far, so, give yourself credit on that. It’s one of those where, once you hit that, then it’s like, oh, I could do the full marathon, type of concept. Does that mentality or anything like that translate to work, or the training or any of this give you a skill, or maybe vice versa, work helped you prepare?
Brian: Yeah, I think that you’re spot on right there, John, where, when you hit these milestones that you didn’t think were possible, it builds your confidence, and you start to wonder, what else can I do? What else is possible? Instead of thinking, is this possible; it’s more of, how can I make this possible? So, as I hit the half marathon, as I hit the full marathon, whatever, it keeps on pushing out the boundaries of what you think is possible. Again, then you take that to the workplace.
I used to be stressed out by any assignment I was given. All of a sudden, it’s like, I could do this. If I could do a half marathon, and that’s really uncomfortable, that’s painful, my legs are hurting; this isn’t going to hurt. It might not be fun, but it’s not going to hurt. The Excel spreadsheet, it’s way less intimidating at that point. It really just puts a lot of things in perspective. For me, it’s just getting comfortable being uncomfortable and putting yourself in uncomfortable situations, then the things that used to stress you out, don’t stress you out as much. It’s more of a, I’m just going to do this. That’s piece one of the workplace and the outlook on the work, and then just, I would say, ability to connect with people in the workplace.
There’s a few facets of it where, I know you interview a lot of people about their “and”, and I guess some people have to go out of their way to bring their “and” into the workplace. For me, I train every morning, and I really can’t accept a meeting before 8:30 am or so because I’m meeting up with my training team or whoever I’m running with or biking with, until 8:30. I definitely have calendar invites at 7:30, 8:00, and I have to be honest with my team, say, “Hey, how important is this meeting? Because I am training for this goal. If you really need me there, I will be there. I’ll skip training today, and I’ll do it later in the day. If not, I’m going to go to training.” So, it comes up naturally. It’s not like I have to say to my work teams, “By the way, guys, I’m doing this cool thing,” and I don’t know if it’s cool, but I’m doing this thing. That breaks down boundaries.
I think just health is a hot topic these days, and everyone, hopefully, everyone’s at least walking. Maybe they’re running. Maybe they’ve done a 5K, whatever. When you hear that, oh, this person’s done a half marathon or marathon, that usually picks most people’s interest because everyone wants to grow. They want to do more. They just have those walls in their head because our biggest enemy is those six inches between our ears, of just, yeah, that sounds cool, but I can never do that. Then when I actually, granularly walk people through the process of what it takes, it’s like, oh, maybe I could do that. All of this is showing up, day after day after day after day after day, which, easier said than done but.
John: Right, right. No, exactly, exactly, but it’s a little bit at a time. It’s the same as probably with work. You can’t just show up on the first day and be a wizard, master of everything that I’m supposed to know. It’s like, no, no, you just get a little bit over time, every day. The same with training for a marathon. You just don’t show up and tape the number on and go, all right, I guess I’m going to do this. Holy crap, no. You’ve got to train for it.
I did one half marathon and then retired, but my whole mantra was peak on race day because I was not super dedicated to the training. I was like, I don’t want to wear myself out. I’m just going to peak on race day. I’m just going to — I got lucky. It worked out that way, and that’s why I don’t want to go back. Because I’m like, you know what? That was good, but I’m doing other things instead. It’s cool to know, like, I never thought I’d be able to run that. Good for you for being, like, hey, I did the half. I can do the full, and then I can do another full and then another one.
Brian: Yeah, it’s like a drug. The more you push yourself out there, the more you start wondering, well, what is possible? Do we have limits at all? Is there a path to anything in this world, and it’s just a matter of clearly defining the plan? Because training for these races, you just trust the plan. You build out a plan, or you hire a coach who builds a plan for you. Somehow that leads you to your goal. You look at business, let’s say. Look at a company like Google. That started from one person who had an idea, and now that company makes billions, maybe even trillions of dollars, I don’t even know.
John: Right, right. A lot.
Brian: A lot of commas in there.
John: Yeah, exactly, exactly.
Brian: When I think about physical, yes, I keep on pushing, wondering, what’s out there? What else is possible? Is anything possible? Are we limitless? Then you look at that from a business perspective, is that how these businesses grew? Did they just keep on building more and more momentum until they were like, we can do anything?
John: Right? That’s when it gets dangerous, though, because then they can do anything actually. It’s like, well, wait a minute.
Brian: Yeah. Now Facebook knows everything we’re doing.
Brian: I don’t choose anymore.
John: Pretty much. They’re reminding me. Remember, you bought this? You probably need it again, don’t you? Get out of my house. How do you know this? It’s crazy. It is cool to see how much of it is our own mental barriers that we put up that really hold us back and probably even especially hold us back from even just sharing that “and”, even just the baby steps. When you think about the grand scheme of things, it’s totally in our own heads on that.
Brian: Yeah, you’re absolutely right. It’s just sharing your “and” in the workplace. I think a lot of people are hesitant to even do that because they don’t know what people are going to think of their “and”, if people will support their “and”. What I’ve learned through my training, through other endeavors, the more authentic we can be and the more of ourselves we can bring to the workplace and the more passion we can have, on a day to day basis, and I know that when I do my racings or my training, I’m a much more energized person. I’m firing on all cylinders versus days where I don’t exercise. You don’t want to be around me. I could be a little grumpy.
Brian: The more I’m doing the things I’m passionate about, A, the better I feel and the better I can be in the workplace. People respect the passion. They may never want to run a day in their life, but they say, this person is onto something. I respect whatever they’re doing because they have good energy. They’re vibrating at a high frequency. I’ve seen that among tons of my coworkers who, one might be a flutist, and they like to play the flute on the weekend. That’s awesome. That’s so cool. That’s something that I couldn’t do. Maybe I could. Actually, I could do it, if I wanted to. I don’t think I want to.
John: Right. There you go. There you go. I was going to build you on that one. Yeah, it’s one of those things where, I think, because of growing up in school, and we always made fun of the outlier. We always picked on whatever, especially junior high school. You don’t want to be the odd one because, oh, Lord, it’s going to be a long rest of your life. I feel like we take that mentality out, but now we’re adults, and actually the outliers, it’s kind of cool. It’s, tell me more about that. Or, wow, okay, I don’t want to do that Ironman, but that sounds awesome. Tell me about it. Or maybe I do want to do it, how do you get started?
Brian: Something I’ve seen a lot is that people build themselves around how they perceive others want them to be. They pursue hobbies, they pursue interests that they might not even be interested in, but they think others will respect them more or whatever because of it. Then they start not even liking themselves. They bring worse energy. They become negative people. For that reason, I just think it’s so important to, for those listening, if you haven’t already, just take a step back and say, what do I actually enjoy doing? What actually energizes me? What in my life is depleting me?
I’ve studied the Science of Happiness a bit, John. The more we can do those things that energize us, A, the happier we’re going to be. I don’t know what the purpose of life is. I’m still trying to figure it out. Every time I do these endurance races, I think I get a little bit closer, but I’ll probably never get there. I think it has something to do with happiness. We want to be happy, maybe not sustained happiness, but 10% happier, year over year. I think the more we can be ourselves and, going back to that word, authentic in the workplace, in every single setting, I think the better life is going to be.
John: I agree with you totally. Because it’s like, whose game are we playing? Do the rules matter? Do they make you happy? Do they make you a better person? All that stuff. It’s one of those things that I feel it’s so easy for us to just play someone else’s game by someone else’s rules, and it doesn’t always make us a better person in the end, which, if you’re not happy outside of work, then your at-work is never going to be productive.
Brian: You’re absolutely right. It’s all about running your own race. That’s something that I have to remind myself in every single race I do, where there’s going to be athletes who smoke me every time. I can’t compete with them. Maybe one day I can because humans are limitless, but right now, in my current state, there’s going to be people who are going to beat me. I could compare myself and serve my happiness into the fact that I didn’t do better than them, but it’s not about that. It’s, I’m racing my own race. If I feel like I did my best and, as you said, peaked on race day, you won. It’s all about race your own race, whether that’s in — there are so many analogies between racing and life itself. In the workplace, are you racing your own race just because someone got promoted faster than you, just because someone has different opportunities? Are you showing up every day being your best self? If so, that’s all you can do.
John: That’s so perfect. I love, just in your blog, how you have the type two fun, which is maybe one of my new favorite phrases, easily, of 2021. If you could tell everybody what type two fun is, because a lot of these Ironman stories are giving me type two fun kind of vibes.
Brian: Yes, type two might be for crazy people, and I might be one of those crazy people. Type two fun is the type of fun that, in the moment, it might not necessarily be fun. It might actually be terrible. You might be miserable. The moment ends, you look back, and you’re like, you know what? That was awesome. That was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. I’ve had those moments when I’ve hiked mountains in Colorado, 14 or so. I’ve had those moments on my races where, in a marathon at mile 23, I’m in the most pain of my life. I’m hitting this wall, and I’m like, this is awful. I’ve literally made it to hell. Three miles later, I have the highest high of all time. That’s type two fun because I look back at that, and it’s like, I learned so much about myself, I got so much of that, out of that experience. I’m literally going to sign up for a marathon again tomorrow.
John: Which is great because then it doesn’t have to be fun in the moment. It doesn’t have to be joy in the moment. It doesn’t have to be happy in the moment. It’s sitting around, six months later, telling the story, and it’s like, now that’s fun. It’s laughing about it. It’s like, and then you’ll never believe what happened. That’s the type two fun. That takes a lot of the pressure off of people, of everything doesn’t have to be this world record-breaking type of thing. It’s just whatever it is that brings joy to you. Maybe it’s not joy in the moment, but type two joy, type two fun, six months later. It takes a lot of pressure off of people.
Brian: Yeah. I honestly look at, even the beginning stages of COVID where people were struggling. People were having tough times, and have not been that fun in the moment, but I look back at those stories, the way we were all interacting or not interacting, for that matter, there’s a lot of gems out of that. I would almost say type two fun is a similar mindset to everything happens for a reason, where you find the good in everything that happened. It’s an opportunist mindset.
John: Yeah, I love that man. That’s awesome to hear. Also great words of encouragement, everybody listening, as we bring this in for a landing, of just, yeah, look for the good and share. So many great nuggets in here, Brian. It’s only fair that I turn the tables though, since I so rudely peppered you with questions at the beginning, make you the host. The Brian Dubow podcast is different than Hit of Happiness, totally different. Yeah, so, whatever you’ve got, I’m all yours.
Brian: All right, let’s put you on the spot, John. I know you’re a huge Notre Dame fan, and I also know that you’ve only done a half marathon, not only, but so far, you’re only done a half marathon. I’m going to challenge you right now. Would you rather have to do an Ironman a full Ironman, one year from today, or would you rather experience Notre Dame never having a winning season for the rest of your life?
John: Oh, I’ll do the Ironman. I’ll do the Ironman. I’ll do the Ironman, hands down. That is short-term pain the rest of my life than never having a winning season. That is long-term. That is worse than purgatory. That’s just agony. I would do the Ironman, hands down.
Brian: Okay, I’m going to hold you accountable for that, John.
John: Well, luckily, they’re good.
Brian: That’s true.
John: Right, right.
Brian: All right, next question. Your podcast says What’s Your “And”? Would you rather always be the best at your career and the worst at your “and” or your hobby; or the worst at your career and the best at your hobby?
John: Oh, I think, probably best at my career and worst at my hobby. I think, for everybody, really, that mindset is great because, from interviewing so many people, it’s come to, instead of giving yourself a title, it’s endurance runner. Sometimes people ask your time, and you’re like, well, maybe my time isn’t great, whatever. If you say, I enjoy running marathons, well then, I’m not doing it for your approval, or you’d ask me my time. I’m doing it for me. Even if I’m terrible at it, I enjoy this. Your career is a steady paycheck and benefits and how you have a house and how you make money, so then you can go do the things that you’re terrible at. Yeah, I would definitely be the best at the career and worst at the “and”. That’s an interesting question, for sure.
Brian: Yeah. No, you’re absolutely right. In the career, you have those key performance indicators you’ve got to hit along the way to succeed.
John: Yeah. It’s nice to still have a roof over your head.
Brian: Right, right. You judge your own success in your hobby. I love that.
John: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. I think that that’s how everyone should really look at it. Brian, this has been so much fun. Thank you so much for being a part of What’s Your “And”?
Brian: John, thank you. It was fun for me. Hopefully, we motivated some people to sign up for a half marathon or even a 5K to that.
John: Yeah, just a 5K, and it’s type two fun. It’s type two fun.
Brian: Hopefully some people on this call are like, you know what? Maybe it doesn’t have to be fun in the moment, but let’s do it anyway. Let’s do it.
John: Having you on the show was type one fun. I’m not going to lie. This was type one fun. There we go.
Brian: I’ve had some type one fun too. I’m smiling all ears. Hopefully everyone else is as well. Thank you for having me, John.
John: Absolutely. Everybody, if you want to see some pictures of Brian in action, or maybe connect with him on social media, or check out his podcast, Hit of Happiness, or his blog, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. All the links are there. While you’re on the page, please click that big button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture. Don’t forget to check out my book.
Thanks again for subscribing on iTunes or whatever app you use and for sharing this with your friends so they get the message that we’re all trying to spread, that who you are is so much more than what you do.