Steve is an Accountant & Line Dance Instructor
Steve Campana, a partner at Honkamp Krueger & Co., P.C., talks about his passion for country western line dancing and also how he re-discovered another passion for playing pool! Steve also talks about how his shift in focus towards building relationships has had a positive effect on both his work & home life!
• Getting into pool and re-discovering it later in life
• How his skills in pool translate to his work as an accountant
• Country western line dancing
• Publishing a book on pool
• Shifting focus towards building relationships
• How an organization and the individual can each play a part in company culture
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Welcome to Episode 205 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 that are above and beyond your technical skills and the things that actually differentiate you from everyone else at work, but first, I’ve got a quick favor to ask. If you like the show and are listening on iTunes or your favorite Android app, don’t forget to hit “Subscribe” so you don’t miss any of the future episodes. If you want, go and leave a review so the people know what the show is all about because I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week, and this week is no different with my guest, Steve Campana. He’s a partner at Honkamp Krueger’s Davenport office and now he’s with me here today. Steve, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?.
Steve: Well, I’m really looking forward to visiting with you, John. I really believe in your message and I’m happy to be a part of it.
John: I appreciate it, man. You saw me speak at the HKFS Elevate Conference a couple of months ago in Dubuque, Iowa, so you were able to see me speak and then we talked afterwards. It just meant so much, so I’m honestly super jacked that you’re a part of this. This is going to be so fun, but before we get into it, we’ve got to get to know Steve on another level here with my 17 rapid fire questions. I hope you’re ready.
Steve: I am ready to roll.
John: All right. When it comes to trilogies, more Star Wars or Star Trek?
Steve: Star Wars.
John: All right. How about computers, PC or a Mac?
John: On your mouse, left click or right click?
Steve: Right click.
John: Right click. That’s a silly one, but it’s interesting to me. How about chocolate or vanilla?
John: Oh, good answer. All right. How about when it comes to puzzles, Sudoku or crossword?
John: Neither, all right. How about a favorite color?
John: And a least favorite color?
Steve: I don’t have one.
John: Oh, really? Okay. You like them all.
Steve: Just like the rainbow, yeah. Give me all the colors.
John: All of them. Nice!
Steve: Green’s the best though.
John: Yeah. Green is a little bit better than all the other ones, so your least favorite is all the ones except for green.
Steve: There you go.
John: Would you say you’re more of an early bird or a night owl?
Steve: Early bird.
John: All right. Do you have a favorite band or musician?
Steve: Quite a few, Beatles, AC/DC, pretty much any current country western singers. Garth got me started in the country western.
John: And then the rest of Iowa drove it home for you?
Steve: I think so. Friends in Low Places was probably the first time I really started listening to country western and got into it.
John: All right. Would you say you’re more cats or dogs?
Steve: I’m a dog person.
John: Dog, there you go. This is a fun one. Balance sheet or income statement?
Steve: Income statement.
John: Do you have a favorite actor or actress?
Steve: Julianne Moore would be my actress. Actor, I catch a lot of Jeff Bridges movies.
John: Oh yeah, he’s really good too.
Steve: White Squall is I think the sleeper movie of all time, so Jeff Bridges perhaps.
John: When you travel, more planes, trains, or automobiles?
John: Yeah, planes for sure. How about a least favorite vegetable?
John: Good answer!
Steve: Just that yellow color. It just doesn’t work for me.
John: Yeah. Right? There’s no flavor. It’s just — I don’t know either. How about a favorite number?
John: And is there a reason?
Steve: Probably because it’s my dad’s favorite number.
John: Yeah. It’s just overwhelmingly the most popular answer. It’s my favorite number as well. Toilet paper roll, over or under?
Steve: It’s an over.
John: Over. There you go. The last one, the favorite thing you own or the favorite thing you have?
Steve: I have some collections. I have a pool cue collection. Probably my most recent purchase. I had the good fortune to acquire a Shelby, which was a lifelong aspiration.
John: A Shelby car?
Steve: Shelby Mustang, yes.
John: That’s impressive. Yeah, those are really cool. That’s fantastic. Then the pool cue collection as well, that’s really neat, which I guess dovetails perfectly into some of your passions from outside of work. I know pool is one of them, or billiards. What’s the difference, by the way?
Steve: Billiards is actually when one ball clicks off another and hits another. It’s the game you see without any pockets on the table, which is absolutely like, who would do that?
Steve: In Asia, it’s a really popular game, so pool has pockets; billiards is played generally on a pocketless table.
John: That makes sense. I know you’ve been playing for a while. Is it something that you started when you were younger?
Steve: Yeah. My very first fistfight was over a pool cue at a boys’ club in Norfolk, Virginia. I lost quite handedly, and so I didn’t get to use that pool cue the rest of the day. We played eight ball with three stripes and three solids and the eight ball in the middle. That’s how I got started. It was quite an academic distraction in college. Pool hall was on the way to class. The day I graduated college, I quit for ten years, and then in ’89 or ’90, a professional player and instructor from the Quad Cities opened a room five minutes from my office and I could play for an hour and have a sandwich and a pop for $4, and then I took lessons from him and went on to take lessons from other people. If I do something, I do it.
My clients always joke with me about that. I could just make a lot of balls before I took lessons, but he took my game to a whole new level.
John: Wow. That’s so crazy that you quit the day you graduated college. Did you not want to get into any more fights? What’s behind that?
Steve: That was only once.
John: Right. Exactly.
Steve: The pool hall wasn’t on the way to class anymore. I got married shortly after and started having a family. Then ten years later, one of the guys who hung out at the pool hall tracked down a used table for me, and so it just magically appeared in the basement one day and there we go. With the table at home, it’s a lot easier to practice.
John: That’s fantastic and how serendipitous that the place opens just right next door around the same block or whatever ten years later so you can go in on a regular basis during lunch. You went on to compete as well or was it all just amateur?
Steve: I didn’t compete and I hung around gamblers. I don’t play much anymore, but I had a standing game for 20 years with two good friends of mine. Every Friday for 90 minutes, we played, so that was the internal thing when I was around. I don’t gamble. I think I drove the better players nuts. They just couldn’t rope me into a game that they finally gave up. We just play because they knew I would play just as hard whether there was money on the line or not.
John: It’s still a passion even if you’re just playing it for fun. It doesn’t have to be a next level thing or you’re winning awards or you’re all this stuff. You love pool and that’s what it is. I feel like a lot of people need a qualifier in order to say that this is what they love to do. It’s confusing to me sometimes when I hear that from people.
Steve: It’s really interesting. The focus you need to really get immersed in the game and start pocketing balls plays over to work, but also, most golfers are good pool players. My golfing friends, when we talk about putting, I go, “How hard can it be? It’s an intentional scratch. The table is just not level.” The white ball goes into the pocket all the time for me, so why won’t the golf ball?
John: And nothing is in the way.
Steve: The table is not level. That’s the only problem.
John: That is the variable in that whole thing. You just started playing pool when you were a kid?
Steve: Yeah. I just enjoyed it and had one of those little tables at home that wasn’t level either. I just played. Then my college roommates and I — again, it was on the way to class and it was a reason not to go, so that’s what happened. I continued to take lessons from other people. I went to Chicago once and one of the best sales questions I ever heard asked is — he’s three hours away and I said, “Bert, what are you going to teach me?” His response was, “I don’t know. I’m going to watch you move balls around the table for 30 minutes and then we’ll spend the next five and a half hours doing what I think will help you the best.” I thought, man, what a great answer. He had tears coming out of my eyes. I can run four balls in a row all day long. He took the chalk off my cue. “Now, go after it.” Well, with the chalk off the cue, all you can do is get where you need to go by angles and speed. You can’t use English or anything, so it really took your thinking to a whole new level. He told me, “Steve, you have a near professional quality fundamentals in stroke, but you have an incredibly, incredibly…” and I think he said “incredibly” about six times in a row, “amateur brain. You have an incredibly amateur brain.” In the next four hours, I bet I only ran four balls once or twice. It was so painful. It was just painful to have to see the table a completely different way, but it did make me a better player.
John: It certainly does. You alluded to it earlier a little bit, but it does sound like there are some of these skills that translate to the accounting profession in your career.
Steve: Very much so. The guy who wins the game of pool comes down to who solves the problem better, who can see the table differently, who can figure out a simpler way to get out. It just translates into work, how do you see the problem, how do you define the problem. The Lincoln saying, “Measure twice, cut once” comes out of that focused concentration that you need to play that game at a high level.
John: It’s not just muscle that you’re exercising every time you play pool that then when you get to the office and you need to use it, it’s like, oh, I got it right here. This is just like playing pool. That’s really interesting because I’m guessing at no point in your business school classes that you were skipping to play pool was the professor telling you, “Go play pool because it’ll make you better at accounting.”
Steve: Yeah. I think the class was Introduction to Cost Accounting, not introduction to angles and speed.
John: You know what? It sounds like this skill is a lot more usable —
Steve: It’s a heck of a lot more fun. I know that.
John: Right? Totally. Is this something that you talked about at work, playing pool?
Steve: I did at the time and I have a collection of hobbies. Yeah, I talked about that. About the time I quit pool, I got into county western line dancing, so the conversation just evolved from not playing pool much to, “You’re doing what? How come we’re seeing all these western shirts on Friday now? I don’t get it.”
John: Cowboy boots, pearl buttons. Who is this guy? Funny, man! That’s funny. This is going to be a silly question, I feel, but sometimes people think, “Well, if I share my passions then clients are going to judge me or co-workers are going to judge me.”
Outside of the boots and the buttons, do you feel like you lost a client because you love playing pool or country line dancing?
Steve: Not at all. One client, when he found out I took up dancing, asked me — because I did publish a book in 2002 on pool, a self-published book, so his question was, “Well, Steve, when is the book on dancing coming out?”
John: That’s awesome. Do you feel like they matter in the business world, people having passions and hobbies and then sharing them?
Steve: Absolutely. Just a quick background, I spent 35 or 40 years of my life really focusing on being the best technically I could be. I really didn’t invest in relationships. It’s just been in the last three to four years where there’s people type of thing. So I guess the point I’m trying to make is I just really, really believe in your message to find your “and”, share your “and”. I love the example you gave where you look at a resume and all that good stuff is at the bottom, avocational interests there at the bottom and why don’t we lead with that. I just know that when I made the shift away from just that striving to be technically the best to really just enjoy the journey and sharing that stuff at work, it just really opened up my life for me, and so I’m just honored to be getting this message out and look forward to your book coming out as well.
John: In October, maybe we can do it too for your dancing book. That means so much, how it touched you when I spoke. Just to hear your journey that you just talked about for 35 plus years, it was all technical skills and be the best accountant around. You came to it on your own, that discovery. That’s not really what makes you stand out or differentiate you. What’s the difference now to you? You said it opened up your life, which is deep. How is it different?
Steve: I connect with people more. Another example would be — just take the game of golf. When people ask me how I did before, I’d focus in on what I shot. John, if you ask me how I did today, I’m going to give you my elapsed time. “It was a great day, John. I played in two hours and 15 minutes, so life is good.” “What did you shoot?” “I’m not sure.”
John: There you go.
Steve: It just opened up, and the ability to connect more with people, getting out of the technical and really getting into the “and”. Without the “ands”, what makes us who we are?
John: Any why is the connecting to people so important?
Steve: Well, for me, it’s probably because I just didn’t connect very well for so long and it just opens up the world when you can have a conversation and really be actively listening. It just opens up the world as opposed to I’m going to go home and pocket 50 balls.
John: Yeah. You know your story isn’t too rare. There’s a lot of people out there that are all about the technical skills and that’s what we’ve been taught and that’s what we’ve been told to do, so it’s just refreshing to hear the difference, someone that was so deep into it for a long time then turn the corner on your own and then to be able to discover there’s so much more to this. Business is better and relationships are deeper and stronger, and just the fact that it opens up your life. It’s not just business. Everything is better. It’s almost like it was black and white before. Now, it’s in color sort of a thing.
Steve: I love that scene, the Wizard of Oz, when it goes from black and white to color.
John: One thing that I always think about too is just how much is it on an organization or a firm or a company to create that culture or how much is it on the individual no matter their level to just create their little circle amongst themselves.
Steve: I would describe it that I think the enterprise can give you the door and needs to provide the environment and the tools and maybe some inspiration. It’s a lot of work working on you. The organization can provide the environment and hopefully the inspiration, but ultimately, something’s got to touch your heart or tug at your heart. When that happens, things open. One example I have of “what I do” statement on my one-page life plan — and it’s applicable. I’m happiest for both work and personal when I acquire, apply, and transfer knowledge. I learned it, I applied it, and then I started teaching it, and it’s the same at work. I’m blessed that I’m kind of a sponge for learning, but then I like to apply what I’ve learned and I’m just happiest when I’m teaching others what I’ve learned. That was an interesting point in my life when I realized those two things work both at work and they worked in my personal life and it just brought stuff together.
John: There are so many parts of us that overlap not just at home. They’re not just at work. They’re not just somewhere else. These things are pretty universal for who we are. If you’re able to bring all of that to each place that you go then man, look out. It’s pretty impressive. Is there anything that you’ve done or you do now to encourage people to share what their passion is or to find out what other people’s passion is in the office?
Steve: Ask the question, “What did you do this weekend?” and then really listen to the answer and ask the follow-up question, “How did you get into that?” and those types of things. A lot of people would tell you that’s basic human relations, but I know for myself, I had to really slow down to start putting those skills to use.
John: Yeah, especially when you’re in a business setting, there’s a lot of work to get done and there’s charge codes and this and that. It’s just how we’re trained and how we’re taught. Well, in this survey that I have in my research, one of the questions is, “What are reasons why people don’t share hobbies at work?” but you can go down that list and see many, many answers. There isn’t a charge code for socializing or we don’t get paid to know each other. It’s like, well, you kind of do. That’s how work gets done, by knowing each other. Like you said, ask and stop. Be genuinely interested and then there’s a follow-up question. Man, there are some fascinating people around us if we just take a minute, and the work still gets done, right? It’s not like you’re doing tax returns.
Steve: It gets done and you have more fun along the way and you really do get that connection with people, which is so important in our lives, is that connecting with others.
John: I love it. Do you have any words of encouragement to anybody listening that thinks that, “Hey, I love to play pool” or whatever their thing is, “but it has nothing to do with my job and no one’s going to care”?
Steve: Just follow your passions. Challenge yourself of your passions. Really think about your why. Know your why. “Why am I here?” That “why” statement, the real “why” statement, doesn’t happen overnight. I’ve kind of taken your “and” thing, John, and it’s know your “why”, find your “and”, and help somebody if you can. That’s my platform for the rest of my life.
John: Wow! Well, thank you, man. That means a lot, and you’re putting me on a stage with Simon Sinek. No pressure on my part. Okay.
Steve: Yeah, no pressure for your book either.
John: Yeah, exactly. That means so much. I love it. On top of people saying, “Well, what’s your ‘why’?” it’s “What’s your ‘and’?” because your why is typically 99% of the time your family, but the “and”, that could be anything, so that’s pretty cool, man. Thank you. I really appreciate that.
Steve: Thank you.
John: You’re welcome. That’s how we should’ve started. There you go. It’s only fair, before I wrap this up, to offer to turn the tables if you had some rapid fire questions back to me, get to know John on a scary level, whenever you’re ready.
Steve: I have three for you. Are you ready?
John: Okay. Yeah.
Steve: Country or western?
John: Oh boy! That’s deep. I’m going to go western since I live downtown Denver. I’m not so country, but I definitely got the western going.
Steve: Okay. That’s great. Cycling or running?
John: Neither. I guess cycling, but it’s not like cycling. It’s like riding a bike to get somewhere, if that counts. If I’m running, there’s danger the other way. Just know that for a fact. It’s not going to happen.
Steve: Very good. The final one, Notre Dame or USC?
John: Notre Dame. Come on, man, that’s not even a question. I’m not even going to let you finish that question. Good God. Is that other place still a school? Man, that’s hilarious. That’s so funny. I love it, man. This was so much fun. Thanks to you for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?.
Steve: It was my pleasure. I had a blast. Thank you for having me.
John: So if you want to see some pictures of Steve outside of work or maybe connect with him on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. And while you’re on the page, please click that big green 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 no matter our job and our technical expertise, there’s a human side to all of us.