Dan is a Co-Founder & Judoka
Dan de Roulet, Co-Founder of Knowify, LLC., talks about how he discovered his passion for Judo, getting his kids involved with it, and how it has helped him develop resilience in being an entrepreneur running a business!
• Getting into Judo
• What Judo is
• Learning how to fall
• How Judo can be a metaphor for entrepreneurship
• Developing resilience
• Talking about Judo with co-workers
• How executives could play a large role in company culture
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Welcome to Episode 415 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. If you want me to read the book to you, yeah, that’s right, this voice reading the book, look for What’s Your “And”? on Audible or wherever you get your audio books. The book goes more in depth with the research behind why these outside-of-work passions are so crucial to your corporate culture, and I can’t say how much it means that everyone’s reading it and writing such great reviews on Amazon and, more importantly, changing the cultures where they work because of it.
Please don’t forget to hit subscribe so you don’t miss any of the future episodes because I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week, and this week is no different with my guest, Dan de Roulet. He’s the co-founder at Knowify, and he’s with me here today. Dan, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Dan: Thanks, John. Great to be here.
John: I appreciate it. This is going to be so much fun. Get to know Dan on a new level here with my 17 rapid-fire questions. We’ll start out with maybe an easy one, maybe not. Star Wars or Star Trek.
Dan: Oh, definitely Star Wars.
John: Oh, okay. That was an easy one. There you go. How about a favorite day of the week?
John: Yeah, solid, solid answer. How about a computer, PC or a Mac?
Dan: Either one. I like both.
John: Oh, you’re ambidextrous on that. Okay.
John: All right. Impressive. How about puzzles, Sudoku or crossword?
John: Sudoku. Yeah, there you go. How about a suit and tie or jeans and a T-shirt?
Dan: Suit and tie.
Dan: I’m from New York. What can I say?
John: Right. No, I like a good suit too, man. Now it’s so much easier to get the made-to-measure, so you don’t have to look like you got it at Penney’s off the rack. It’s like, all right.
John: Yeah, right. Exactly. How about a favorite color?
Dan: Navy blue.
John: Oh, nice. Okay. How about a least favorite color.
Dan: What is that sort of ugly pinkish beige called? Mauve or.
John: Oh, right.
Dan: You know what I’m going for, right?
John: That’s nasty. You’re right. Yeah. Yeah. No, that totally is. It’s like, why is this a color? Is this an accident? What happened? No, I agree. It’s like the crayon in the box that never gets touched.
Dan: Yeah, right. You walk into your bathroom, and it’s that color. You think, you know what? Maybe I’ll just go outside.
John: There you go. That’s awesome. That’s exactly it. How about a favorite ice cream flavor?
Dan: Cookies and cream.
John: Okay. Yeah, there you go, solid. How about a favorite season, summer, winter, spring or fall?
Dan: In New York, it was always spring and fall, love spring and fall. It wasn’t too hot, love the colors, the burst of flowers and whatnot in the spring, and then the changing leaves in the fall. Now that I’m living in California, most of the seasons are pretty much the same. California season, whatever that one’s called.
John: Right. Right. That’s exactly it. Here’s a good one because California has both, oceans or mountains.
John: Oceans. There you go. How about a favorite actor or actress?
Dan: Meryl Streep.
John: Oh, yeah, very popular answer, and justifiably so. She’s amazing. Yeah, so good. Would you say you’re more of an early bird or a night owl?
Dan: Ever since having kids, it’s become an early bird thing, but that was never the case.
John: Right. It’s not by choice.
Dan: Right, exactly. Yeah, that’s right.
John: I hear you, man. I hear you. How about a favorite adult beverage?
Dan: That’s a good one. I’m really into riojas right now, the red wine?
John: Oh, yeah, riojas are great.
Dan: Yeah. I found really great ones that are actually very fairly priced for the quality, and I think great.
John: Totally. Totally. How about on an airplane, window or aisle seat?
Dan: Well, I’m 6’5”. I guess it really depends a lot on which airline I’m on. In JetBlue, with their extra legroom, window’s fine. It’s great. You lean up against the window. You can relax a bit more. In a lot of the other airlines, the aisle becomes a necessity because we’re cramming in there.
John: Yeah. I’m 6’2”, and anyone taller than me, like you, it’s like, ah. It’s uncomfortable.
Dan: Airline travel and the backseat of Prius is not okay.
John: Right. Right.
Dan: Not okay.
John: Not all. Even the front seat of a Prius, I can imagine. It’s like, man. That’s amazing. How about a favorite number?
Dan: Well, as long as it’s my checking account and they’re going up, I don’t care that much.
John: Right. Right. There you go, any positive number.
Dan: Right, exactly. What actually matters more than, well, I guess that’s not entirely true.
John: Right. Positive.
Dan: growing, right?
John: There you go. All right. How about books, audio version, e-book or real book?
Dan: Still real book.
John: Real book. Yeah, I’m the same. The last one, last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.
Dan: My wife and I got this really cool painting from her parents as a wedding present that was actually done by a well-known artist who attended our wedding who was a friend of the family. It’s really cool when I see it, and every time I see it, it reminds me of the place we got married. It’s very special in that way.
John: That is very cool. That’s really neat. Let’s talk Judo with the kids. Is this just a secret way to be able to chuck them around?
Dan: Yeah, yeah, yeah, abuse them but in.
John: No, of course not. Were you into Judo first and then?
Dan: It’s funny, in college, I studied a lot of Aikido. I did Aikido for five years. Moved out here, and by out here I mean to California, I was looking for something to do with my middle son, John. He’s very physical kid, and I was looking for a martial art. Because I knew I Aikido, I didn’t think it was quite right for him. He was a little too young. I knew about Judo and wanted to give it a shot because I wanted him to do a grappling art. We found this great local school. We went, and he had such a great time. It was really funny because he’d come home, and he’d teach his older brother some of the moves. It was really supposed to be just John’s thing. Right?
Dan: Because, again, as middle child, classic middle child stuff, he needed his own thing. He’s teaching his brother all these moves. His brother thinks it’s really cool because his little brother is throwing him around. He was like, Dad, can I go too? There’s a parenting dilemma. It’s like, oh, I don’t know. I’m going to chat with John, and John said, okay, fine, Henry can come. It’s turned into this family thing, and because I had done enough Aikido that I was able to pick up Judo pretty quickly that we all started doing it together. It was really fun.
John: That’s awesome. What is Judo exactly, for people like me that don’t totally know. Is it kind of wrestling?
Dan: Judo is an Olympic sport, so with the Olympics in Japan, you can certainly watch. I guess you can say it’s somewhat akin to wrestling, in that there’s no punching or kicking, no striking. It’s strictly grappling. The object is just throw your opponent. If you throw them onto their back, you automatically win the match. If you throw them onto their side or your part back, part side, you get half a point. You still have to do the same thing again in order to win. You can also win on the ground by choking them out or having them submit or pitting them. Yeah, there are aspects of wrestling like that. It’s really just about getting into a good position, using strong technique and body mechanics to throw your opponent.
John: Wow. Okay. Which, man, if I was your son, I’d be in heaven. I’m like, wait, I get to just chuck my brother around?
Dan: One of the most important lessons of Judo, and this is also something I got in Aikido because it’s similar in that way, is you learn how to fall, and that aspect of it, so, the throwing, yeah, sure, you’ll enjoy it. You’ll do sport Judo. You’ll compete, and that’s fun. They’re life lessons and great value, too, but I would say that the thing that you’ll actually use in your life is the falling. I can tell you, there was a time when I was skiing, and this guy was coming across a catwalk. He just did the most boneheaded thing. He looked up, saw me and then stopped suddenly.
Dan: Right? It was a total panic. I’m like, oh, crap, I’m going to hit this guy. I went sideways. I let my legs come out from under me, because I knew how to fall, and I just rolled over him. We were both ok because I’m a big guy, and you don’t have to be going that fast for that to end very badly.
John: Exactly. Especially skiing, yeah.
Dan: So, there have been a couple of times in my life. One time also, going over the handlebars of a bike, just, it wasn’t comfortable to land, but I knew how to protect myself. I was able to fall, and it was fine. That’s a skill you use.
John: Yeah. Then you get up and you go, half a point.
Dan: Exactly. Right. Exactly.
John: Right? That’s such a great lesson that you wouldn’t really think of because when you get into it, I’m sure it’s the throwing and the throwing. It’s like, no, no, no. You’re going to get thrown. It’s the landing and learning how to fall.
Dan: They don’t let you get into the throwing until you’ve practiced the falling a fair bit. It makes sense, right?
John: Yeah. Which I would imagine is a skill set for life and work. There are going to be bad days. There are going to be falls.
Dan: Yeah, Judo is like a giant metaphor for entrepreneurship. This guy’s slammed on the ground, over and over and over again. Someone’s promising you you’ll get better.
John: Right. You’re like, I thought the match is supposed to end at some point.
Dan: Yeah, right, exactly. It’s still going. Is it possible to win, or do I just get bombed over and over?
John: First to 99, apparently.
Dan: Yeah, I’m starting minus 97.
John: Yeah, yeah, by halves. Do you feel like any of that translates over to your work or the way that you think about things now that’s maybe a little bit differently?
Dan: I’ve started three businesses. Two are still operating. Obviously, Knowify is doing really well, which is really exciting. As I was alluding to before, the entrepreneurship journey is never smooth. It’s always a struggle. It’s always a fight. I think there are a lot of smart people in the world. There are a lot of folks who have interesting ideas and who might even be able to start to execute on those ideas. I think one of the things that separates people who ultimately succeed as entrepreneurs is just resilience, is just being able to get smacked around, beat up, force yourself to get up and go back and keep going. I think that there are lessons in any sport, but in this specific case in Judo, for a career as an entrepreneur, absolutely. You got slammed on the mat, get back up.
John: Yeah. Right? It’s interesting because at no point in college did anyone tell you, hey, go study Judo because it’ll make you a better entrepreneur. It’s these little things that are accidental byproducts.
Dan: It’s funny you mentioned, I didn’t take any college entrepreneurship classes. I’m aware that there are now entrepreneurship classes in college, which always strikes me as sort of a funny thing, right? The first thing, as you, day one in entrepreneurship class, as you come in, look at the students and be like, you’re all terrible. You have no business being here. You should not. You’re awful. The ones who stick around are like, how dare you say that to me. Of course, I am. I’m better than you. You don’t even know me. I’m going to do it anyway. Those are the ones who should be there, right? Everybody else who marches out after that.
John: Dude, I saved you plenty heartache and anguish.
Dan: Right. Exactly. You need the people who are stubborn and arrogant, not those who are soft and will be washed out that easily.
John: Exactly. I get it a lot with people that come to me. They’re like, hey, should I follow my passion? Should I make it my career? I’m like, no. No. It’s a hobby. It’s an “and”. You can be both. It’s an “and”. Because if you do it and you’re not good at it, I’m the first person you’re going to find to punch in the face. You said I could do this. Then I need to practice falling.
Dan: Yeah. Exactly.
John: If a stranger can talk you out of it, in a conversation that’s like five minutes long.
Dan: You definitely aren’t going to survive the first year.
John: Nope, you’ll never make it. I’m doing you a solid. I’m totally helping you out.
John: That would be hilarious. We should teach a class. First day, you suck. Then why are you here?
John: Right. I think we’d get fired, but it would be awesome.
Dan: It would be the best class those kids have ever taken.
John: Totally, the most effective.
Dan: What was it I was saying about? Never mind.
John: Right. Exactly, exactly. So, the martial arts, is it something that comes up at work? Do you talk about it with colleagues? Or does it come up in conversation on occasion?
Dan: It does come up a little bit. I had a colleague who heard that I was doing it, and he wanted to bring his son to do it also because he thought it sounded fun. He was a little too young, so he’s not quite ready, but it’ll happen. Yeah, we talk about it, and of course like any proud parent, I go around showing the videos of my kids bombing other kids. Check it out.
John: Right. Right. I imagine that that just brings a new level of camaraderie or relationship in the workplace where we’re going to talk about work for sure, but these other things.
Dan: There are some people, it does rarely happen that you have somebody, an employee who really feel strongly that they want to have this wall of separation between their personal life and their work life. They’re there to do their work. Some of those employees are really great, by the way. I’ve had people like that who have been fantastic. You respect that boundary, and it works out okay. I would say, in general, opening up a little bit about your personal life, developing real relationships with the people you work with, that’s a good thing, especially in new businesses that are, we’ve been talking about the entrepreneurship journey. It’s a fight every day.
If you can build the sense that you’re all in this together, that you’re a team and more than just name, that you’re obviously looking to achieve great business objectives, but you’re also doing it because you want to see the person next to you succeed. There’s a lot that can be said about that, about how, if you’re a co-founder or CEO or something, that’s really important to make sure that your people have good equity compensation because that sort of reinforces that message of we’re here together, we’re here to succeed together. To your earlier point, yeah, do I think that talking about your family’s experience with Judo and engaging with somebody at that level, or your people at that level, do I think that helps build your team? Absolutely.
John: Especially, like you said, that entrepreneur journey, when you’re a younger company, we’re going to go through some lows. It’s going to get crazy in here. The more we know each other, and the more we care about each other and have a genuine interest in each other, then the more that we’re going to be able to get through that. That brain science of the norepinephrine and the oxytocin and the, we’re in this type of thing, is cool. Yeah. It’s cool to hear that it’s not just like case study bubble world. It’s actual, something that you’ve experienced, which is awesome. How much do you think it is on the organization to create that atmosphere where it’s, yeah, we share. That’s what we do here. I care, and I want to know. Versus how much is it on an individual to just maybe, from the bottom and their little group, just start sharing?
Dan: Well, let’s be honest. It’s kind of hard for people at the bottom, as you described them, to drive corporate culture. Sure, they can have their groups, they can enjoy their coworkers, they can show little details about their lives, but it’s pretty rare that that would spread and become the defining corporate culture, if it’s not actually also coming from the top. Do I think that team leaders, do I think that senior executives have a very important role to play in defining and establishing and then disseminating the kind of culture that we’re describing, if that’s what they want to see happen? Yeah, absolutely. You can’t just sit around and wait for culture to magically happen. You have to define what you want your company to be and how you want it to feel. I think people talk too much about corporate values. There are lots of reasons for that. Do I think that corporate culture and that kind of thing is something that is very important and ought to be discussed? Yeah.
John: I agree totally. Especially, it’s not just giving it lip service, but it’s actually living it, walking the walk. I feel like so much of us are in a permission-based sort of mentality of, well, I’m not going to do it, unless they tell me I’m allowed to do it, as opposed to ask forgiveness after. Just go do it. One, they’re probably not even going to know. Two, they’ll probably be like, wow, that was awesome. I never even thought of that. Good for you. It’s hilarious. We just wait for permission for that insight. I think it’s great if someone, the leader, whether it’s a manager or whoever is there that can set that tone, makes it even easier. Totally. Do you have any words of encouragement maybe to some people that maybe they have that hobby or that passion, but they feel like it has nothing to do with their job or maybe no one’s going to care type of thing?
Dan: I would say, if it’s a very important thing to you and will help people understand you better, then absolutely, go talk to one of your coworkers about your “and”. I do think it’s true that when people know each other better and know what makes each other tick, it becomes easier to work together, I think, especially really savvy, well, managers, but also coworkers can understand your personality a bit better and either get more out of you or develop deeper, more meaningful work relationships that make any sort of collaborative work easier and more productive. So, I can say, don’t be afraid to share, unless.
John: It’s illegal.
Dan: Unless you shouldn’t. Right. Exactly.
John: Right. Yeah, exactly. Most of us aren’t doing illegal things for fun on the side, but I agree. At the end of the day, business is still humans interacting with humans. Whether you’re on the same team, or you’re with a client, or you’re with a customer or whatever, it’s still that human-to-human connection. That only becomes stronger and better by knowing each other a little bit below the surface level. You don’t have to be creepy about it, but just a little bit.
Dan: I think that’s right. If you know what makes somebody tick, your understanding of that may not arise in ways that you’re even fully aware of, but it will make collaborative work, make the team dynamic easier and better.
John: No, I agree totally. That’s awesome. This has been really fun, but I was so rude at the beginning by peppering you with questions. I feel like we should turn the tables and make this the first episode of The Dan de Roulet podcast. Thanks for having me on. You can ask me whatever you want. I’m all yours. Let it rip and see where this goes.
Dan: Okay. You asked me before, favorite adult beverage. Are you a wine or spirits guy?
John: Yeah, I’m definitely a wine guy. It’s funny because I, for medical issues, didn’t drink for a while, from like 21 to, yeah, a while. Then I would do wine with food. I knew wine a little bit better but, yeah, I didn’t know anything about drinks. My wife would order them all the time for me whenever I would have them. One time I was on my own at a bar, and they didn’t have wine noticeably. I was like, I don’t know what to order. I just said what I say to my wife, vodka and something fruity. Don’t ever say that to a bartender ever. You might get kicked out. It was bad. It was hilarious.
Dan: That’s funny.
John: It was funny.
Dan: I don’t think your podcast listeners can obviously see what I’m seeing, but what’s the gold football helmet in the back? Is that Notre Dame?
John: Yeah, Notre Dame.
Dan: It is Notre Dame.
John: Yeah. I graduated from Notre Dame. That’s actually signed by Brian Kelly, who’s the head coach. I do some work with them for their award show every year, and two of them have been nominated for Emmys, which is pretty awesome. Yeah, it’s a fun little thing that I get to be a part of.
Dan: I’m not sure you know the answer, but was Manti Te’o’s girlfriend real?
John: No, she was not.
Dan: No, she wasn’t. You do know the answer.
John: She was not. Well, I mean, it was a real person.
Dan: She wasn’t his girlfriend.
John: Manti was, he’s such a good, kind person that when you have that kind of soul, I guess, he just, and the hard part was with that is that it wasn’t technically a girlfriend at all, even in his mind, but once the media started saying it, he didn’t correct. That’s where it fell apart. That’s where the problem was. He should have just been like, yo, yo, it’s not a girlfriend. It’s just a person I talk with. That’s it. It’s not at all a girlfriend.
Dan: They say that a lie can get halfway around the world before the truth even gets its shoes on. Right?
John: Totally, totally. Yeah, especially with the media.
Dan: What’s the typewriter about?
John: Oh, the typewriter. Yeah. That’s a Corona typewriter, which maybe you’re not supposed to say out loud after 2020, but it’s a Corona typewriter. My grandfather had it. I have a Royal typewriter over on this side that’s huge and weighs, I don’t know, a billion pounds. The Corona was his sister’s in Brooklyn. They grew up in Brooklyn. It was almost like a laptop. You can put a case over the top of it and carry it almost like a briefcase. When she would do secretary jobs around the city, she could just bring her typewriter to work and work in there. It was a portable style. It’s so old. There’s no number 1 key on it. They use the L for number 1 back in the day. I don’t know why.
Dan: That’s funny.
John: It’s just a cool old typewriter. The one that my grandpa used more is over on this side, just off. I just think they’re neat, just kind of cool.
Dan: All right, last one. The third business I started was actually a biotech business. That’s still going. I’m just curious, if I gave you a magic wand and said you could solve any human health problem, but only one, which human health problem would you solve?
John: Wow, that is deep. Does ignorance count as a human health problem?
Dan: Ignorance. Well, the problem with ignorance is that we always assume the other guy’s ignorant, never us, right?
John: Yeah. No, no.
Dan: That guy over there, I don’t like.
John: Including my own.
Dan: You’re not saying you want to solve ignorance.
John: Well, yeah, a little bit.
Dan: Yeah. Right. Exactly.
John: I mean, 60-40.
Dan: Yeah, right.
John: Yeah, man, that’s hard. That’s so hard because that’s part of the human condition. That’s the double-edged sword of it all is, yeah, at some point.
Dan: When none of us gets out alive, is that what they say?
John: Kind of, yeah. That would be great. Imagine that, if everyone, including me, especially me, then I wouldn’t have to ask dumb questions about Judo and be like, well, is it like wrestling? You’re like, not at all, man. Just watch the Olympics.
Dan: It’s not that far off.
John: A little bit. Yeah, it’s just wrestling with more clothes on. That’s pretty much it. Well, Dan, this has been awesome. I really appreciate you being a part of What’s Your “And”? Thank you so much, man.
Dan: Yeah. No, it’s a pleasure to have joined you.
John: Awesome. Everybody listening, if you want to see some pictures of Dan in action or maybe connect with him on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourands.com. Everything’s 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 the book, also called What’s Your “And”?
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.
Derek is an Accountant & Judoka & Skier
Derek Abdekalimi talks about his passions for skiing and Judo, how they coincide with each other and his career, and why he feels it is important to be able to talk about passions with co-workers in the office.
• Getting into skiing
• Favorite places to ski
• Getting into Judo
• How Judo has helped him with discipline in the office
• Don’t be fake
• Why it matters that the individual plays a role in workplace culture
Please take 2 minutes
to do John’s anonymous survey
about Corporate Culture!
(click to enlarge)
- Read Full TranscriptOpen or Close
Welcome to Episode 385 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 this show is about, be sure to check out the book on Amazon, Indigo, barnesandnoble.com, Bookshop, a few other websites. All the links are at whatsyourand.com. The book goes more in-depth on the research behind why these outside-of-work passions are so crucial to your organization’s culture, and I can’t say how much it means that everyone’s reading it and writing such great reviews on Amazon and, more importantly, changing the cultures where they work because of it.
Please don’t forget to hit subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss any of the future episodes. I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week, and this week is no different with my guest, Derek Abdekalimi. He’s the Director of Finance and Accounting of Green Bean CFO, and now he’s with me here today. Derek, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Derek: Hey, John. Thanks for having me.
John: Absolutely, man. This is going to be so much fun. Before we jump in, get to know Derek on a new level here with my rapid-fire questions. Hopefully you’re buckled in, got your seat belt fastened. Keep your arms and legs inside the car at all times. Okay, here we go. First one, favorite color.
Derek: I like all of them. I don’t really know what to say, but I like them all. There’s a reason for each one.
John: Okay. All right. So there’s no least favorite color then. No, I’m just kidding, man. That’s silly. All right, fair enough. How about talk or text?
Derek: Lately, it’s been a lot more text. Work, we don’t even talk all the time. It’s been more like texting or WhatsApp or Slack.
John: Oh, okay. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. How about puzzles, Sudoku or crossword?
Derek: I used to be really into Sudoku, and I’m trying to do crossword puzzles.
John: Okay, okay. Sudoku is how I do my tax returns.
John: Not at all what you should do at all. How about a favorite Disney character?
Derek: Oh. Well, now that they own Star Wars, I’m going to say Darth Vader.
John: Okay, all right. Yeah. You can get in through a loophole there. I like that. Fair enough. Fair enough. How about a favorite athlete?
Derek: Right now, and I know it’s kind of cliché, but I really like LeBron because even now, they were talking about mid-season that he should take a couple of days off, but he’s just the best player. He’s a really good defensive player, offensive, and I just like his work ethic. I’m reading about his diet and things like that. He’s just somebody that I really admire. I also really admire Muhammad Ali. I read the book about him, and he’s a real athlete and civil rights person. A lot of athletes really inspire me.
John: Yeah, yeah. LeBron does a ton for Cleveland and keep putting kids in school and even college. He does a lot for the community that he doesn’t really talk about, which is also cool. He doesn’t need all the attention. Would you say you’re more of an early bird or a night owl?
Derek: Lately, it’s been working at night because nobody is messaging you. I can get some things done and not have the distractions of the day.
John: Sure. That makes total sense. How about Star Wars or Star Trek?
Derek: Going back to liking Darth Vader, I used to be a really big Star Wars fan as a kid.
John: How about your computer, PC or a Mac?
Derek: I’m a Mac guy. I know everybody on this podcast is like, I love PCs. They’re better for accounting software, and I think the version of Excel is a little bit easier. There are more shortcuts, I think, on the PC than on the Mac, but my Mac has Final Cut Pro. I could edit ski videos for myself. Or Apple Care, so if I accidentally spill coffee on my laptop, I can go and get it fixed.
John: I feel like you’re speaking from some experience right now.
John: Maybe so. Maybe so. How about a favorite ice cream flavor?
Derek: You know what, I actually like making ice cream.
John: Oh, you make it yourself. Okay.
Derek: I’ve done it a couple times where it’s like the camping style where you do the two cans and the rock salt and threw in a bunch of random stuff. I did that at Yellowstone a couple of years ago.
John: Do you have a favorite flavor?
Derek: I really like the Ben and Jerry’s stuff where they just throw random things in.
John: Yeah, and chunks of stuff. I’m a huge fan of that.
Derek: Yeah, they figured out how to do it. There’s an Everything Bagel flavor that this brand makes that I want to try out.
Derek: I do want to get the piece that you can put on a mixer. I just like good ice cream. I think one of the cool things about Ben and Jerry’s is they have brick and mortar. You can try it on a cone, and it’s really good.
John: Oh, man. Yeah, we’re going to have to hang out sometime, for sure.
Derek: Yeah, definitely.
John: Eat all the ice cream. How about seasons, favorite season, summer, winter, spring or fall?
Derek: I love them all.
John: Okay, all right.
Derek: It’s the whole year.
John: Because the colors are also in all the season.
John: That’s why, just keeping with the theme. I like it, man. All right. How about, ooh, the accountant background, a balance sheet or income statement?
Derek: Okay, I’m probably the second person on your podcast to say this, but I am a fan of the balance sheet. It’s not just, are we making money, but if you’re — for example, one of my clients, I could see them selling parts of their business or possibly going public in a couple of years, and they need a strong balance sheet if they want to go public. Or if I’m going to go and invest in a small business, I want to see that they’re handling everything. They’re not just profitable.
John: Right. There’s a lot more to the balance sheet. That’s for sure. Here’s one, chocolate or vanilla.
Derek: Probably chocolate, yeah.
John: All right. No, totally. How about when it comes to books, audio version, Kindle or real book?
Derek: All of them. It depends. If I’m traveling, I might get some audio books. I’ve been using the Libby app for the library a lot, and throwing that on my iPad. I also do print. I go to Barnes and Noble a lot because it’s the only actual bookstore near me. That’s how I got your book actually.
John: Yeah, well, thanks, man. Yeah, you got the printed version.
John: Yeah, totally, man, that’s awesome. Well, thank you. Two more, two more. Favorite day of the week. Favorite day of the week.
Derek: I don’t know.
John: Saturday because it’s not work?
Derek: Yeah, sure. It’s the one day of the week that I don’t work.
John: Yeah, there’s no work. It’s not like tomorrow there is work. Yeah. No, that works.
John: Okay. All right. The last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.
Derek: I don’t know.
John: Sounds like your Mac Book.
Derek: No, no, that’s definitely not my favorite thing that I own. There are things, I’ve got a lot of hobbies, so there are some things in my garage that — I just got a new pair of ski boots.
Derek: Because of COVID, I can’t really spar with people, so I got a couple of punching bags from my garage.
John: There you go.
Derek: I can do that. I don’t know, just doing things at home or going for a walk or gardening, basic simple things.
John: That’s awesome, man. Very cool. Yeah, and that leads in perfectly to talking about the skiing and how you got started with that and with your new boots that you got for this season. Did you grow up skiing?
Derek: Yeah, it’s definitely a really big family thing. My wife’s also a skier, and her brothers are skiers, and my parents and my brothers. Everybody skis in my family.
Derek: That’s how I started. Then I kind of took it my own way after college and moved to a ski town. I lived in Lake Tahoe for a bit, and I tried to ski or mountain bike whenever I could. There are some years where I put in 100 days on a mountain.
John: That’s awesome.
Derek: Yeah, and the attitude, even if it’s an icy day, I’m going to go, and I’m going to ski really hard. I’m from the East Coast, so I know, ice. When you go to Squaw Valley and it’s a bad winter, I’m the only person on Headwall because it’s just ice. They had a drought about five years ago, maybe six years ago, but just skiing that is fine.
John: That’s awesome. Do you have a favorite place that you’ve skied or a favorite go-to place?
Derek: There are a few places. I did actually think about that. I really like Banff. I have some family that lived in Calgary. I’ve been to Lake Louise at negative 50 degrees.
John: Oh, my Lord.
Derek: Yeah, it’s freezing. This one time, I wasn’t wearing the right base layers, and I didn’t have the right gloves. I was freezing, but I was also in this state of bliss, skiing.
John: Right. Right.
Derek: In the US, I’m going to have to say Squaw Valley because the people at Squaw are crazy. There’s a lot of people who are trying hawk cliffs and stuff like that, and you want to go and do that. There’s a run that’s named after Jonny Moseley that’s a crazy mogul run. There are all these really crazy runs. I love the snow at Utah. I have of a lot of different places.
John: Sure. No, it’s totally cool, man. That’s awesome, just to hear about them.
Derek: Yeah. Deer Valley in Utah, if you’re into groomers, that’s the best place ever. They do have some crazy mogul runs that they don’t groom that nobody skis. A spring day there is pretty good. Whistler is really good. Mammoth is really good. In Colorado, Telluride with Palmyra Peak where you’re almost at 14,000 feet, if you can hike that. I’m just going to say I love skiing.
John: Right? I love it, man. No, but those are all awesome places, and it’s really cool to hear that you’ve had the opportunity to ski at them.
Derek: I’ve skied pretty much the whole US, and I’ve skied three different provinces in Canada.
John: Which, are there more than three? I don’t even —
Derek: No, Canada is a big country.
John: I’m teasing. I know there are. I’m joking. All the Canadians right now are like, arr. That’s super cool, man. When you’re skiing, is it the freedom? Is it the break away from work? What is it about skiing that really lights you up so much?
Derek: Definitely the freedom and just trying to go as fast as I can. Even some of the more technical runs, I don’t really have falls. I fall more on green runs maybe because I’m more focused. If you fall, it’s just really bad, especially if it’s not on a powder day.
John: Yeah, yeah, totally. I also know that you also do Judo, and that’s been a newer thing.
Derek: Yeah. I like judo. It’s also more — well, skiing is more outside also, but Judo is, it’s a Japanese martial art. It’s in the Olympics. Many people on your podcast are talking about Brazilian jiu-jitsu. That’s how I started, doing Brazilian jiu-jitsu. I like to try different martial arts, so I went to a Judo class. They were, because I was starting, they were showing me falls and showing me different things that I wasn’t doing in jiu-jitsu.
This one dojo — there were some people who were national champions and black belts, I’ll say. I started switching over to Judo, and I even did some competitions. I’ve been able to score at Nationals.
John: Oh, congrats, man.
John: That’s really cool. That’s a lot of work.
Derek: Yeah. I like that it’s more international. To bring the two passions together, I know that I was supposed to go to Japan this year. I wanted to go practice at the Kodokan which is the school where it started, and get some certificates and go powder skiing.
John: Yeah, best of both right there.
Derek: Yeah, so the term Judo is gentle way. I think jiu-jitsu transfers to hard slow or hard soft or something. I can look that up. There’s a lot of, even being a smaller opponent, I’ve gone up against way bigger people who were maybe a couple weight classes bigger than me, and I’ve been able to throw them. This one guy in jiu-jitsu was an MMA fighter, and I was able to, because he doesn’t train with a gi, I was able to choke him, rolling, which was cool.
John: Right. That’s amazing, man.
Derek: Yeah, I love it. You go, afterwards, and you get a drink with everybody. You beat the crap out of each other, but it’s fun and…
John: Right, but it’s not like punching each other in the face.
John: Yeah, it’s almost wrestling kind of martial arts, or is it —
Derek: Yeah. Also in jiu-jitsu, but Judo really focuses on your jacket. There are these different weaves. One of the weaves is a competition jacket, and they’re heavier. The fabric is stiffer, so you get a harder grip.
John: Oh, that makes sense. All right, I didn’t even think of that.
Derek: There’s grip, and there’s throwing people and being, I could turn — if you watch the UFC, you don’t see anybody even wearing a shirt because I could turn your shirt or your jacket into a weapon.
John: Oh, yeah. That’s true.
Derek: Early pride, you see some Judo guys wearing a jacket, and it’s a big disadvantage. That’s why in MMA, they don’t wear jackets or anything.
John: Oh, wow. That’s interesting. Yeah, I’m glad we do in the office, though, because weird. No, I’m just kidding. That’s awesome, man. That’s so cool to hear about. I didn’t even realize that. Do you feel like either the Judo or the skiing gives you a skill that you bring to accounting or to your career, maybe a mindset or something?
Derek: Definitely the Judo, and even sales because you go — or your career in comedy. They always talk about comedians bombing a lot and trying to figure out their own style and their own voice and connecting.
Derek: When you start with like Judo or jiu-jitsu, you’re just constantly — the first month in Judo, you’re just working on falling. That’s how you get your yellow belt is that you can take a throw. It’s like falling and getting up and going to competitions and facing unknown competitors. Even if you lose, everybody thinks you’re a better person because you actually went — like the man in the arena thing.
John: Yeah, totally. I love that quote.
Derek: Yeah. I think having anything that you get after. Another book that I really like is the Originals by Adam Grant.
John: Oh, yeah, absolutely. Really good book.
Derek: Yeah. They talk about — so, in accounting, it used to be, when I started, it was frowned upon to talk about your hobbies. Even, I interviewed at a sports camp, a sports organization, I’m not going to name them, but I’m a fan. The Tax Department was like, we don’t want to hire fans because we don’t want you to bother the athletes. Wouldn’t you want to hire someone who’s a big fan of, like, if you were at Notre Dame, someone who likes their football or something?
John: Oh, totally. All my friends that work there are also massive fans.
Derek: Yeah, that is really good culture, the organization.
John: Yeah, yeah.
Derek: Adam Grant talks about there’s this one thing about Nobel Prize scientists and you’re more likely to have a Nobel Prize and be a really good, some type of performing artists, whether it’s doing theater or violin or something like that. I’m not trying to make a living as a skier or in martial arts. If there was a way to make a living, maybe, but my job is good enough. I think having that outlet, baking, whatever your thing is, don’t be afraid that you like it and try to find people who like it, and don’t be fake.
John: Yeah, I love that, man. Don’t be fake. Totally. It’s have a genuine interest in those people. When I asked you about skiing and Judo, I want to know. I legit am interested in that.
John: I love that. Don’t be fake on telling people that you like skiing. If you’ve been once and you didn’t like it, well, don’t tell them that you like it because they’re going to keep asking you.
John: Just be genuine. I love that.
Derek: This took a while for me to figure out because I used to talk about it a lot and then it didn’t really fit in at work, but you’ve got to be yourself.
John: Yeah, and it depends on the workplace culture where you’re at. You can change it a little bit at a time, I think, even amongst a small group of two or three or four people. Maybe it grows from there. I love that idea and that mindset of it all. How much do you think it is on an organization to create an atmosphere where people can share their “and”, versus how much is it on the individual to make that difference themselves? Is the tone at the top really crucial?
Derek: It probably is, but I’m more of an individual person. I think it probably should be the people talking about it, even if you’re at a CPA firm. I know that they want you to work seven days a week or whatever.
John: Right. Or maybe eight if they could.
Derek: Yeah, or eight days.
John: Yeah, so it does matter for the individuals to step up and, yeah, just share a little bit.
Derek: Even at lunch.
John: Yeah, just at lunch.
Derek: What did you do over the weekend? Someone might say, “I went to watch the US Open.” That’s really cool. Use it as a way to talk to people. What do you do? How did you get into tennis? Or how did you get into skiing? I think it is some organizations because there are places — I tried to get a drink with everybody I work with, or coffee. There are some places where, like, the Accounting Department, nobody went out afterwards, but I made friends with this guy who worked in HR, and we hung out a bunch.
John: That’s super cool. That’s such a great example for people listening that maybe they feel like, well, my department doesn’t do this. Well, okay, but I’m sure other people do because they’re human. So, other departments, you can find somebody and just start small.
Derek: Yeah. When you’re back in the office, if you pass somebody in the hallway, say hi to them. If you pass somebody’s office every day, why don’t you knock on the door and introduce yourself and say, “Hey, I’m Derek. I work in the Accounting Department. What are you working on?” If they’re receptive to talking to you, that’s good. Or if they’re like, “Get away, I’m trying to do something,” then you don’t need to talk to that person.
John: Right. That’s a great example. It’s also great, if your name is actually Susie, just still use Derek as your — hi, I’m still Derek. That way, they’re like, who the hell’s this Derek that keeps coming by? It’s like, just people that listen to What’s Your “And”? That’s all. That’s all.
This has been awesome, man, and so encouraging. I just appreciate you, one, reading the book, but two, reaching out to be a guest on the show. It’s super cool to share your story with everybody. It’s only fair that since I started out the episode, firing away at you with rapid-fire questions, that I now turn the table and make this the first episode of The Derek Abdekalimi podcast. Thanks for having me on. Thanks, man. I’m all yours.
Derek: I guess my first question is, you have several “ands” as well, do you still do stand-up?
John: I don’t do comedy clubs anymore, no. That has been put on the shelf. I do take a lot of that experience and the skills that I learned from stand-up and apply them when I’m speaking at conferences and the all-staff meetings and retreats and things like that. No comedy clubs anymore, man. Sorry.
Derek: What’s your favorite ice cream?
John: Favorite ice cream probably is chocolate chip cookie dough, just because you can get it everywhere. It’s kind of hard to mess that one up. I still get the chunks in there. Yeah, anything with brownie bites or… I want the one ice cream where it melts, but then I want to also chew stuff after, type of thing. It also gets as many calories into my face as possible, so it’s probably not healthy. Yeah, chocolate chip cookie dough would be the super quick answer.
Derek: Is there a pizza that you like?
John: Oh, wow. Yeah. Here in Denver, there’s a — it might be a chain. There’s a handful of them, Ian’s Pizza. They make a pomodoro. It’s super good. It’s got feta cheese and spinach. We add pepperoni and then a sweet tomato sauce. That’s really good. When I lived in New York, there were plenty of good pizzas there. That’s for sure, New York City. Yeah, all the meat, all the meats, and then maybe a couple of vegetables on accident. This has been so much fun having you be a part of What’s Your “And”?, Derek. Thanks so much for taking time to be with me today.
Derek: Thanks for having me.
John: Everybody listening, if you want to see some pictures of Derek in action, or maybe connect with him on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com All the links are there. While you’re on the page, please click that big button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture.
Thanks again for subscribing on iTunes or whatever app you use and for sharing this with your friends so they get the message that we’re all trying to spread, that who you are is so much more than what you do.