Josh is an Accountant & Rapper
Josh returns to the podcast from episode 178 to talk about his continued passion for writing and recording his own music! He also talks about how he has gotten more comfortable with sharing his music, how it helps him in the office, and much more!
• Working on his own music projects
• Growing more comfortable with sharing his music
• How being able to share his music helps him in the office
• It is better to have a bad day than no day at all
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Welcome to Episode 388 of What’s Your “And”? Follow-Up Friday edition. This is John Garrett, and each Friday, I follow-up with a guest who had been on the show a few years ago to hear what’s new with their passions outside of work, and also hear how this message might have impacted them since we last talked.
I’m so excited. My book is out. You can order it on Amazon, Indigo, barnesandnoble.com, a few other websites. Check out whatsyourand.com for more. If you want me to read it to you, that’s right, this voice reading the book, look for What’s Your “And”? on Audible or wherever you get your audio books, coming June 4th, very, very soon.
Thank you so much to everyone who’s read it so far and been kind enough to leave those Amazon reviews. It just really means a lot that you’re taking the time to do that and also change the cultures where you 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 Follow-Up Friday is no different with my guest, Josh Hemmrich. He’s a senior accountant at Sentara Healthcare in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and now he’s with me here today. Josh, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Josh: Thanks for having me on, appreciate it. I had fun last time.
John: For sure. Yeah, last time with Episode 178 with you and Fred and Tonisha, with the rap song and the video that you guys did. That was super cool. Yeah, I can’t wait to hear more. I’ve been following your social media as well, so I already know a little bit, but for everyone else to hear. First, rapid-fire questions. These are ones I didn’t ask last time that I probably should have, now that I think about. No, I’m just kidding. All right, so here we go. If you had to choose, Harry Potter or Game of Thrones.
Josh: Oh, Game of Thrones, man. I binged that like crazy when it was out, the last season especially.
John: Okay, okay. How about hamburger or pizza?
Josh: Oh, man, I’m going to have to go with the burger. Yeah.
John: Burger. Okay. All right. What do you load up on it?
Josh: Oh, man, you’ve got to put everything on there. You’ve got to get the grilled onions. That’s a must-have. The cheese kind of makes it, but it all depends on your mood. Then you’ve got to put the mushrooms on it, the grilled mushrooms, all the sauces. I love the ones with the fried egg on top and the bacon as well.
John: Oh, yeah.
Josh: Yeah, yeah, a little breakfast burger.
John: Okay. Nice. I love it. That’s fantastic. All right, oh, here’s a good one, shower or bath.
Josh: Oh, man, I don’t take baths. That’s disgusting. I take showers. I don’t like sitting in my own filth.
John: Fair enough. Fair enough. When it comes to books, audio version, e-book or real book.
Josh: Oh, real book, for sure. I love the feel of a real book, just turning the pages, old school.
John: Yeah, yeah. No, absolutely, I totally agree with you on that. How about a most memorable concert?
Josh: Kendrick Lamar concert at Virginia Tech, right before he started blowing up and he released, I think, Good Kid, MAAD City. Back when he was only doing the Section A stuff, I went to a concert where he didn’t even sell out Burruss Hall, which is just an auditorium. It was not that many people in there. I went there, one of my college buddies who liked him too. Yeah, we were really close up to him. It was awesome, man.
John: That’s very cool. Yeah, it’s so cool when you catch somebody before they blow up huge. I remember when I was in college, no doubt, opened for live. We were all like, who’s this Gwen Stefanie girl? What is going on? Like? We had no clue. Yeah, it was awesome. All right, how about a favorite movie of all time?
Josh: I guess the easy answer for me would probably be Step Brothers. I love Step Brothers.
Josh: And Kicking and Screaming. All the old Will Ferrell movies were great, but I don’t know, maybe thriller movies.
John: Oh, yeah, that’s a really good one. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, Dark Knight, I think, that one was.
Josh: Yeah, there are so many good movies, man, but I would say Step Brothers is probably the easiest answer.
John: No, solid answer. Solid answer. We’ll go with that one, for sure. The last one, maybe the most important one, toilet paper roll, is it over or under?
Josh: It’s got to go over.
Josh: Over, for sure. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I was trying to do the logistics of it in my head.
John: Against the wall or coming at you?
Josh: Oh, coming at you, man, coming at you.
John: Coming at you, which maybe isn’t the right terminology when you think about that. I don’t need anything coming at me. What?
Josh: Yeah, I’m an older guy. I’m an older guy.
John: All right. No, I agree. I agree, totally. So, let’s chat. The music and all of that, you guys did the rap video for the Thanksgiving, which was so cool, like I said, with Fred and Tonisha. You’ve got your own stuff going on as well. Is that, you’ve been putting out music since then?
Josh: Yeah, yeah. I think last time that I talked to you, everybody in my firm was really excited to listen to me and Tonisha, or Tonisha and myself and Fred, talk to you. That was just a really cool time. We had just made that music video for Thanksgiving. It was about what we were thankful for as an office, and we got everybody in the office involved. Our partners, they were loving the whole idea and concept of our video that we made. It got us exposure to a lot of different offices so whenever we go back to training, people will be like, hey, I just want to talk to you guys, really what you guys are doing.
What was really cool was my good friend at the firm, Cali, who was a senior manager in another office, actually had us perform at our audit convention, I guess, you would say. It’s like an annual training for CPE that CPAs need. She basically let us skip half a day to be able to get ready for the performance and prepare for it. We wrote a song up and basically got on stage and had a little slideshow in the background on the big screen. People seemed to really like it. It was a lot of fun. We had a picture with the CEO after the performance. She was dancing along. It was really cool experience.
John: No, that’s so awesome. It was beyond the video. It was original music. I’ll do song parodies and stuff, but the music is already there. The structure is already there. You started with nothing. Here’s the beat, let’s write some lyrics or vice versa. Do you typically do lyrics first, or do you get the beats? Or you just probably have a bunch of beats ready to go that you think are cool and then try and bring them in? Or how does that process work?
Josh: Right. For that song in particular, I was just kind of rolling around the internet and came across it. I had sent it over to Fred just to see if he wanted to make a little song because me and him had been working together a little bit. He was like, we should make a song for the training. Cali said she wanted us to do something. I was like, okay. I think I wrote and recorded my verse at my house and then sent it over to Fred. He sent it to Tonisha. We all kind of did it piece by piece.
I usually pick the beat first. I don’t really like writing unless I already have the tempo in my head. After I have the tempo down, you’re able to manipulate your tempo in a couple of different ways, depending on the beat pattern. I like to slow down at certain parts and speed it back up at other ones. I think with the new school age of music, it’s more like, how many different tempos and styles can you do in one song to keep the listener interested? Whereas it used to just be, how can you maintain one consistent flow throughout? That’s kind of the old school approach which is dying out.
John: Yeah, yeah. No, that is interesting. Yeah, it does make sense that once you have the beat, then you can fit the words in. I need a four-syllable word. I need a two-syllable word. I’m running out of space here. How can I say the same thing with less words or whatever?
Josh: I will say though that some of the cooler verses that you write are kind of after the fact. You might write it to one beat and one slower tempo usually. Then I found that a lot of my better verses that are really fast are just ones I wrote to a slower tempo beat and then was able to just adjust to the faster beat. Because it’s easier to compress your words while you’re — you already have them written, and you’re just speaking them as opposed to trying to fit that many words in when you’re writing.
John: That’s a good note. Yeah. You’ve been doing your own projects as well, on the side, since then, which has been pretty awesome. You go to a studio, and you record. Some of them I’ve seen, even like when you got a new one, you just throw up the camera in your bedroom, on your dresser or whatever. Here’s something I’m working on, which is kind of cool to see the behind-the-scenes of it all.
Josh: Yeah, yeah. I think during quarantine, I was just so bored and not wanting to go out and do a whole lot because my parents who live around the area, and I was seeing them a lot. I didn’t want to put them in danger, but I wanted to keep them sane because they were really stressed out about it. So I was just staying in the house, making a ton of music. I think in 2020 alone, I probably wrote and recorded and uploaded 30 to 40 songs, I think.
John: Holy cow.
John: That’s awesome.
Josh: It was a lot of fun, and I got more positive feedback than I’ve ever gotten on any music. I think it was just better than any other music I was making just because I was, I guess you would say, training a little more. I was just writing every day and experimenting with different flows that I hadn’t done before. Yeah, so I put a lot of them on Apple Music and stuff like that, and Spotify, but I’ve kind of taken them down. I just want to reset, I didn’t have a concise plan last year. I just put a lot of stuff out. I think whenever I get back into it again, because I’m on a little bit of a low right now, I would want to have a little bit more of a concise plan for if one song were to take off. So, I just want to take all my stuff down and then start fresh whenever I get the motivation to do that.
John: Yeah. No worries, man, but it’s cool that you threw it up there because that’s the only way you can know if it’s good or not, is well just throw it out. Somebody told me about my book is my work is done. I wrote the best book that I thought I could write. It’s on the reader now to decide whether or not you like it. That’s not my — my work’s done. The same with your music. Once you write it, and you put it together, and you’re like, this is as good as it’s going to get. This is what I got. Then it’s on the listener, which takes a lot of pressure off, I think. Because then when another author told me that about my book, and I was like, oh, all right, yeah. Because I can’t control how or when someone’s — or what state of mind they’re in or whatever when somebody comes across your music, but it’s cool to hear that good feedback.
Josh: I think when I was younger, I was more reluctant to post songs. Maybe it’s just because I wasn’t probably as good as I am now. I’m not saying I’m great, but I just know I’m a lot better than I was.
John: Totally. We all get better. Yeah.
Josh: I think that the more you put out, the more comfortable you get. Last year, I probably released 30 songs in a six-month time frame. It’s like one of them that I released was, Person A would love it. They would comment on it and like it. Even if it only got 15 likes or 20 likes, it was different people than the next song I would release where another 15, it would be their style, and they would like it. The more that you put out, the more you’re like, not every song is going to connect to every person, just like every book. Everybody has to be able to relate to it in their own way in order for it to be meaningful to them.
I was able to relate to your book a lot when I read it because that was one of the main things at my old job that kept me motivated and probably allowed me to be in public accounting for three and a half years was that whole phenomenon that happened that last year where it was like me and Tonisha and Fred were making music. Everybody loved it, and it got us to be more than just some name on a screen that you see through an email. Then we were talking to you on your podcast and performing. It was something new and exciting that you still had your long days and your long nights, but it made it feel like you were getting a reward from it. It was something that you were having fun doing even if you had to bear the expense of the rest of the job.
John: Sure, and you were around people that cared about you. They didn’t care about accountant Josh. They cared about Josh Josh, all the parts of you.
Josh: That’s what your book was about. When I was reading it, I was like, man, I can connect to what he’s saying. If I hadn’t have gone through that year that I did at my last firm, I probably wouldn’t understand the meaning of your book as much as I do, but I really believe in what you’re saying.
John: That’s awesome. Well, thank you. That means a lot because it’s one of those things that’s simple but not easy, I think. You hear it, and it’s like, whatever. It’s kind of woo-woo, I don’t know, whatever, make-believe. No one does that. Then you experience it, and you can’t unhear it. You can’t unsee what you’ve seen now, and it’s great. So, I think that’s awesome. You’re carrying it with you, going forward. If it’s music or you’re writing or something else, beach life, in general, it’s just cool to have other dimensions to who you are and find out what those are for the people around you. That’s cool, man. Have you seen people sharing their “ands” more now, since you were on the show a couple of years ago?
Josh: That whole experience made me more confident in making my music because I was like, man, if I can get all these a little bit older generation to listen to my music and enjoy it, then who’s not going to like it?
John: Right. That’s a good point, man.
Josh: The young people at my firm were telling me they liked it. The older people didn’t hate it. I was like, well, it’s got to be pretty good then.
John: Yeah, if a tax partner likes your rap music, then it’s got to be pretty good.
Josh: Yeah, I was like, there can’t be a tougher critic than that.
Josh: I got more confident and put out a lot of music. I think it inspired some people, especially during quarantine when there wasn’t a lot to do. I had some friends who were making a lot of comedy videos, and they would ask me for a little bit of advice just with the confidence side of releasing your stuff.
Josh: I had some other friends that were like, hey, I started writing. They didn’t record it or release it, but they were like, “I needed something to do. I wanted to write.” They were asking me some tips and everything. I guess, in a way, the more that you see that stuff around you, as opposed to just one person doing it, I think it inspires you to go outside your comfort zone and try something new rather than just watching TV.
John: Yeah, because you see one person doing it, you’re like, oh, well, I can too, whatever my thing is. The other thing I love about your music is it’s all positive. It’s positive. It’s upbeat. It’s not what people typically would stereo — I mean, the same with — I get it all the time when they hear, oh, you did comedy, and they think one thing of comedy. It’s like, no, no. Comedies, there are so many varieties. The same with your music is, I love how it’s positive because we need more of that, especially after last year.
Josh: Yeah. I definitely have some songs that are a little more, I guess, deeper or trying to portray some deeper feelings that time. I try to keep that stuff to a minimum so that it means more when I do release something, but I agree with you.
A couple of weeks ago, I was at one of my friend’s house, who I’ve been friends with for a long time, and he was showing his girlfriend all my songs, or his fiance. She really liked them. Because I was texting them to him every day when I was making them last year.
They were having a housewarming party. I went over there, and they told all their friends, I was a rapper. I think sometimes when people hear that there’s a white rapper, they kind of get this idea that it’s going to be an over-the-top, Malibu’s most wanted type a character.
Josh: So, I was hanging out with them. They’re like, so you’re the rapper guy. You know you can get that vibe when people are like, oh, that’s kind of cool of me, but then throughout the night all right, we’ll put on one of your songs. I put on a bunch of my stuff, and they were like, damn, this is a lot better than I thought it was going to be. I hear people’s music and the quality is awful. They’re like, you recorded this out of your room? I was like, yeah. Once they listen to my stuff, they realize that it’s supposed to make people feel good. It’s supposed to — I put a lot of thought into it. It’s not something that I really take lightly.
John: No, it definitely comes through, man. That’s awesome. It’s just hilarious, Malibu’s most wanted. I’m just picturing you in that. You’re the most chill, low-key, I wouldn’t even tell you I do rap. It’s the exact opposite.
Josh: Well, it’s like, I don’t know, the older you get, the more you’re like, I don’t know if I want to tell people I rap because I know what the stereotype is. Then you have guys like J. Cole. They’re 36, making album of the last two years probably and releasing it this year. You just have to be able to prove yourself to people. Once you can do that, as long as you can do that, they can’t really say much to you. It’s just a form of expression outside work and not anything else.
John: Exactly, and it’s what lights you up. That’s the phrase that I’ve learned from interviewing so many people on here is just I enjoy. I enjoy writing music. That’s not opening the door for your critique. I could care less if you like it or not because I enjoy it, and that’s why I’m doing it.
Josh: Yeah. I think what’s cool about, basically, with your whole brand and the product that you’re putting out is that if you’re a professional and you’re in the professional world, then you should be out doing the things that you love outside of that because it helps you at work. It helps you to enjoy your experience more, but also it kind of helps you just in your personal life, as well as with your confidence and everything else. If you can express yourself to people, they understand and are interested in what you’re doing, then it just gives you all the more confidence
If I’m making music, even if people don’t like it, I’m like, okay, well, I went to Virginia Tech. I did great in school. I got my Master’s. I got my CPA. I did three and a half years of public and had great relationships with everybody I left. I work out five days a week, during the better parts of the year. I’m not not going to act like that’s every week. What else? You know a guy that goes and works out, or you know a guy that did well in school, but I’m trying to be a well-rounded individual. Even if you don’t like my music, I feel like I’m still a successful person. So, I feel like, what part do I really have to lose if a person doesn’t like me for my music?
John: Yeah. Plus, the music is — it’s not like you’re going to get kicked out. It’s not how you’re paying the mortgage or things like that. It’s on the side. It’s for fun. If it blows up, awesome. If it doesn’t, also awesome. I think it’s so cool. I follow you on social, and I see the stuff. I think it’s great. Just keep doing what you’re doing, man, because it’s cool to see.
Josh: I appreciate it. I know sometimes I probably posted stuff on my stories, you’re like, man, this guy’s a lunatic.
John: No, you just eat a lot of food, dude. You eat a lot of food.
Josh: I guess I do, man. I’m still a little too skinny. I probably need to put a couple of pounds on.
John: Yeah. Yeah, I hit that during COVID. I’m going the other way now, so I’m trying to dial it down a little bit. Because when you’re tall and skinny like we are, then even just a little bit, it’s like, boop.
Josh: Yeah, you get that belly on you that it just doesn’t look right, man.
John: No, it doesn’t look right. I’m your ghost of Christmas future, man. It’s not good, so I get it.
Josh: I’ve been there a time or two.
John: Yeah. That’s awesome. Well, this has been so much fun, Josh. I feel like it’s only fair that we turn the tables and make this the first episode of The Josh Hemmrich podcast, since I fired the questions at you at the beginning, right out of the gate. So, whatever you got for me, fire away.
Josh: I guess I would ask you — I tried to start thinking about a concept for a book to write, eventually. I know it obviously takes years to do. I wrote like one chapter. I guess I would ask you, what kind of advice would you give me for trying to write a book? Mine is more autobiographical, to a certain extent.
Josh: Yeah, yeah. The way I did mine is I had a content editor. That’s somebody that helps you figure out. We did a solid five days, eight hours a day, so, like a 40-hour week of just, who’s the book for, what’s the structure of the book, what’s — my book is five sections, the intro piece and then three modules and then a conclusion, so, getting to that point. You just figure out what the skeleton is going to be and then it’s write every day.
Just write every day and fill in that skeleton and write with no filter and no editing, literally just vomit on the computer. If you like, I already told this story, type it again because you might tell it in a different even better way. That’s where someone that’s outside of you can come back and decide, oh, you know what, these two pieces, actually, they should be one chapter. Or you told that story better here, but it needs to be earlier, so let’s move it over here. You just create the bricks for somebody that knows what they’re doing to then build the house, if that makes sense.
It’s just write every day. It’s similar with your music. When you’re writing every day, it gets better. Some days, I would write for like 10 minutes. I’m like, I’m just not feeling it. I just can’t. Some days, I’d be two hours, just stream of consciousness, I can’t stop. It’s amazing. Just every day, a little bit at a time and then before you know it, yeah, you’ve got a book. Yeah, that’s what I would say, but figure out where you’re going and what you want to do first because if you just write then it’s going to be a Frankenstein of a book.
Josh: I think I found that with writing too, even if you sit down for 10 minutes, whether it’s writing a song, or I guess that’s what I do, but the 10 minutes matters because you don’t know until you start writing, whether you’re going to have one of those days where you can’t put anything down, or whether it’s going to be flowing. A lot of the times you don’t know, so it’s better to waste 10 minutes of your life on nothing because in the long run, that’s what leads to the great sessions that you do have, is just starting.
John: Exactly. Yeah, if you’re waiting for perfection, then it’ll never happen, so just give up now. Otherwise, you’ve got to take the lumps. You’ve got to have the days where you’re like, eh, it’s just not here today, but then tomorrow, it’ll be the most amazing thing you’ve ever written, type of thing. It’s like, all right.
Josh: Same with anything. If you want to work out, you’ve got to go into the gym to figure out if your body is too tired to work out or not. You’ll know if your body —
John: Now you tell me. See, I just don’t go. That’s how that works.
Josh: I read another book recently, and he was talking about that. It was basically about every millisecond of work that you put in or every ounce of effort that you put in, matters. So, if you go to the gym and even have a bad day for 20 minutes; psychologically, you went to the gym, so you did something. Whereas, if you don’t go, you’ve got no momentum. It’s better to have a bad day than no day at all.
John: Totally. That’s perfect advice for everybody listening. That applies to work. That applies to your “and”. It applies to all kinds of things. It’s so cool to catch up with you, Josh. Thanks so much for being a part of What’s Your “And”?
Josh: Yeah, I appreciate it. I always have fun coming on here. Thanks for having me.
John: Absolutely. Everybody listening, if you want to see some pictures of Josh in action or catch his links for his music or maybe connect with him on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. Everything’s there. While you’re on the page, please click that big button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture, and don’t forget to check out the 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.
Scott is an Executive & Photographer & Musician & Meditator
Scott Shute talks about his lifelong passions for music & photography and how these skills applied to his corporate careers. He also talks about creating his own job of Mindfulness and Compassion programs at LinkedIn and why it is a great example of both the organization and the individual playing a role in corporate culture!
• Growing up in a musical family
• Learning how to play an instrument before YouTube existed
• Writing his own songs
• Getting into photography
• How his skills in music & photography translate to his career
• How he brought mindfulness and compassion into his office
• Why it is both on the organization and the individual to create an open workplace culture
• Be the first mover
Please take 2 minutes
to do John’s anonymous survey
about Corporate Culture!
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- Read Full TranscriptOpen or Close
Welcome to Episode 383 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 in 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 on Amazon, Indigo, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop and a few other websites. All the links are at whatsyourand.com. If you want me to read the book to you, look for it on What’s Your “And”? on Audible or wherever you get your audio books.
The book goes into more in-depth of 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 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, Scott Shute. He’s the Head of Mindfulness and Compassion Programs at LinkedIn and the author of The Full Body YES: Change Your Work and Your World from the Inside Out. It just came out yesterday. Now he’s with me here today. Scott, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Scott: All right. Thanks, John. Thanks for having me.
John: Oh, absolutely, man. The book is awesome. I’m so excited for it to be out and excited for you to be on this journey as well. Congratulations on that.
Scott: Thanks very much. I appreciate it.
John: That’s no easy feat. That’s for sure. We’re going to get into some rapid-fire questions here, get to know Scott on a new level right out of the gate here. I’ll start you out with an easy one, a pretty easy one, I think.
Scott: We’ll see. We’ll see.
John: Yeah, we’ll see. Actually, we will see. Talk or text.
John: Talk. Yeah. All right. How about puzzles, Sudoku or crossword?
Scott: Oh, Sudoku.
John: Yeah. Nice.
Scott: I love numbers.
John: It’s more fun to say too, right?
Scott: Sou desu.
John: Right? There you go. How about a favorite color?
Scott: Oh, blue, all the time, every day.
John: Yeah, mine too, hands down.
Scott: Dark blue like indigo, that type of blue, really specific, right in between day and night blue.
John: Ooh, that is good. I like that one. How about a least favorite color?
John: Oh, yeah.
Scott: Dirty like when you spilled paint and it all meshes together.
John: Oh, it’s just —
Scott: It’s not really a color. It’s a color, but it’s not a color.
John: It’s like a brown purple. It’s like, how is this possible?
Scott: It’s the color that, in the crayon box, you just, you don’t use that one.
John: No, no. It’s always nicely pointed.
John: I thought that was just me that had those. That’s hilarious. How about a favorite actor or an actress?
Scott: Oh, wow. Matt Damon. If the story of my life is ever told on screen, Matt Damon should be the one. So, Matt, if you’re out there, let’s chat.
John: He’s out there. He’s out there.
Scott: He’s out there.
John: Is he listening? That’s the question.
Scott: Somebody pass this on to Matt, say this is perfect opportunity.
John: Right. Give him a call. Have his people call Scott’s people. How about are you more of an early bird or a night owl?
John: Early. Okay.
Scott: Yeah, always get the worm.
John: Yeah, that’s very mindfulness of you. Yeah, it’s hard to be mindful at night, I feel.
John: Yeah, yeah. How about a favorite Disney character?
Scott: Oh, Pumba.
Scott: Is that Disney? I think that’s Disney.
Scott: Right? Lion King?
John: Anything animated, I count.
Scott: Yeah. Okay.
John: I think so.
Scott: I’m going with that then, Pumba.
John: Pumba. Solid answer, solid answer. I love it. How about Star Wars or Star Trek?
Scott: Both, man. I mean, I’d go Star Trek just because you have to wait longer in-between the movies.
John: And there’s a billion episodes of Star Trek, I feel like.
Scott: Yeah, that’s true. That’s true, but the movies, I’m going to go with the movies from Star Trek.
John: Oh, the movies, yeah, yeah. The Star Trek movies, yeah, yeah. No, there we go. How about your computer, more of a PC or a Mac?
Scott: PC just because that’s what we always use at work. I just got in that groove.
John: Yeah, yeah, me too. How about a favorite ice cream flavor?
Scott: Wow. Chocolate filled with chocolate covered with chocolate.
Scott: Deep chocolate infused.
John: With brownies and all the chunks.
John: How can I maximize the calories in this spoon that I’m shoving in my face?
John: I love it, man. That’s awesome. How about favorite season, spring, summer, fall or winter?
Scott: Wow. I think spring because there’s this time when the new buds come out. It’s like, oh, here we go. Right about when we’re recording this, the time is about to change. That’s my favorite time when you — all of a sudden it’s an hour later of light.
John: Right? Just out of nowhere. What? It’s like, just two days ago, it was still dark right now. Now I’m not falling asleep. That’s neat. That’s awesome. Very cool. How about a favorite day of the week?
Scott: Ooh, I think Saturday because you don’t have to go to the work the next day. You wake up, and you’ve got 48 hours or whatever ahead of you. It’s like, oh, this is mine. I get to do it.
John: Yeah. No, I love it. I love it. It’s also when college football happens, so that’s good.
Scott: That’s true. That’s true.
John: Everything good happens on Saturday. How about, oh, here we go, toilet paper roll, over or under?
Scott: Oh, got to be over.
John: Over. Yeah. It’s how the patent is. I think that’s how it goes.
Scott: Oh, and while we’re on it, the best thing that has happened during the quarantine is the Tushy.
John: Oh, right. That’s maybe the answer, no toilet paper. Tushy.
Scott: Yeah, Tushy, you’ve got to get a Tushy. Seriously, the absolute best thing that happened during quarantine is the Tushy.
John: It should be, if you buy Scott’s book, The Full Body YES, you get the full body Tushy.
Scott: As long as the owners of Tushy are willing to give one with every book.
John: Right. Exactly. Matt Damon, if you’re listening out there, hook us — no.
John: He’s the spokesperson now. How about, oh, mindfulness, here we go, yoga or meditation? Or are they the same? I’m not even sure.
Scott: I like them both.
John: Oh, they are different. Okay, good.
Scott: They’re different. Well, for me, yoga is about moving. I like them both, but I really like yoga to move my body and stretch because it just feels good.
John: Cool. I was worried that you were going to be like, actually, John, you can meditate while doing yoga. I was like, is that sleeping?
Scott: Well, that’s a technicality.
John: Right, right. Well, thank you, man. I appreciate you adhering to my silly rules. How about — three more — do you have a favorite number?
John: Seven. Yeah, mine too. Is there a reason?
Scott: I’ve always liked it. It’s lucky. Also my Enneagram number is seven.
John: Oh, there you go. Okay. Yeah, mine was probably mostly sports.
Scott: Yeah, mine, too, started that way.
John: Yeah, and then you justify it. How about books, real book, Kindle or audio version?
Scott: Real. I don’t like reading electronically. It just didn’t do it for me.
John: I’m the same. The last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.
Scott: Oh, I have a Martin D-35 guitar actually.
Scott: It’s the very first thing I bought when I graduated from college. Before I bought furniture for my apartment, I bought this guitar, and I had literally a box that I would sit on and play this guitar.
John: That’s incredible. I love that so much. That’s so awesome, and you still have it.
Scott: I do.
John: That’s so great. That’s super awesome, man. Did you know how to play guitar before that, or was it —
Scott: Yes. Yes, I did. I had my brother’s hand-me-down guitar that I played for a few years, which was a nice guitar, but I wanted my own, man. So, I got a Martin.
John: Exactly. That’s so great, and then you sit on a box while you play it.
Scott: Yeah, a milk crate.
John: Right. Yeah, totally. Absolutely. That’s incredible. That’s awesome, man. I love it. I love it so much, which dovetails perfectly into your “ands”, two of them, musician and photographer. Let’s do music first since we’re on the subject. Did you grow up playing music?
Scott: I grew up in a super musical family.
John: Oh, okay.
Scott: I’m the youngest of five kids. This goes back to my great grandfather who lived to be 100. He was a bandleader, like the John Philip Sousa type of band leader, back in the 1910s. In fact, John Philip Sousa barnstormed through my grandfather’s little town of 1,000 people, and they actually got to play together. He played trombone. My grandmother, his daughter, was the pianist at church for 85 years. She was the pianist at church, maybe 80 years. My mom was the choir director at church, and all of us grew up in the church, played music, sang my first solo at age five. I played trombone in school.
In college, I wanted to join my buddy’s band. They were full. They’re like, oh, we already have a singer. What do you play? I’m like, well, I sing. They’re like, no, we already have a singer. I’m like, well, F you guys, man. I’m going to build my own band.
John: This was before ska. You can bring your trombone to the ska band.
Scott: Totally. So I taught myself to play acoustic guitar, and I’ve been writing music and singing and playing ever since college.
John: That’s very cool, man. I played the trombone in college myself.
John: Yeah, total goofball instrument.
Scott: Oh, total you have to be a goofball. There are no normal people. I’m air quoting normal. We’re all goofballs.
John: Exactly. That’s awesome, man. That’s so cool, another trombone player. It’s like, you never meet them. They’re all hiding.
Scott: Oh, yeah. They won’t admit it, but we’re out.
John: Right, right.
John: I still have mine in the — I can go get it. No one wants to hear that on the podcast.
Scott: No, later. There’ll be a special edition.
John: A guitar is much better. People want to hear that. They recognize the song. It’s not a bunch of whole notes that no one hears the song. That’s cool. You taught yourself how to play. Did you perform or were you…
Scott: A little bit and mostly just for myself, and I taught myself to play before YouTube. Oh, my God, it is so much easier now.
Scott: Back in the old days, you actually had to buy sheet music. You’d find some artist you like. For me, way back when, it was Tracy Chapman or James Taylor or Indigo Girls. You’d have to buy a whole book just to learn one song.
John: Or not even the song, the chorus of the song.
Scott: Right, and then it was probably written for piano. Now, you just go to YouTube, and there are 27 different versions, depending on your vocal range. Now it’s so much easier. Yeah, I taught myself. I mostly did not play out. I played for friends. Now, I’ll play for — every year, we have a block party, and my buddy and I, we play music. I wish I was as good when I was 20 as I am now because I totally would have done more of it. I would have gone out more.
John: That’s an interesting thing that’s come up from all the interviews, is instead of I’m a guitarist, it’s I enjoy playing the guitar.
John: Then it doesn’t matter if you’re good because I enjoy it. I’m not giving myself the label, and it takes a lot of the pressure off and all that. Because I feel like a lot of us, we don’t share it as much because people are going to judge or I’m not very good as the person that’s down the street. That’s like, yeah, but they’re amazing, and you’re also good.
Scott: For me, it’s just about that release. It’s funny. I’m getting asked — okay, so now, more people know me at work. I’m going to air quote, celebrity. I’m not exactly a celebrity, but more people know me at work. I got invited to do this show with this creative group at work. I’m supposed to play this original song. I’m going through my catalogue. I probably have 20 or 25 songs. What I realized — now my title is I’m Head of Mindfulness and Compassion, right? I’m going to play this song for these people. What I realized… You see where this is going?
John: I do. This is awesome. There’s nothing compassion in your songs.
Scott: No, exactly. The music that I’ve been writing has been a release for me. It’s all this angry stuff or whatever it is because I wrote it for me. I didn’t write it to play.
Scott: I was like, I’m going to throw these songs — oh, no. Oh, that’s not going to work. I realized that my music has been cathartic. I’m not writing, generally, I’m not writing these happy meditation songs. I’m raging, or I’m in emotional distress. This is my outlet. So I’m going to have to figure out my whole new genre of how these two things come together.
John: There would totally be an episode at the office where we have a mindfulness guy play a song, just whatever. No, that’s super cool, man. That’s great. I think it’s cool, too, that you’re writing your own music. That takes it to another level of that release and that cathartic nature of it which is pretty awesome.
John: Well, that’s cool. That’ll be fun to see how that goes.
Scott: I’m still working on that. I may have to write a new one actually.
John: Write a new one.
Scott: I’m all self-conscious about it because —
John: Don’t be too happy. It’ll be too much.
Scott: Yeah, nobody will want that either.
John: You just write the melancholy, the down the middle, I’m not too happy, I’m also not angry. I’m right in the middle.
Scott: Or it’s got to be like, it starts with you really angry or melancholy and then ends like you find your true —
John: There you go.
Scott: That’s a hard song to write.
John: That is a hard song to write. I would just learn a new one.
John: I would just… That’s hilarious. Photography, as well, is a big thing. Is that something from when you were younger, or did you get into that later?
Scott: I have always loved photography. I probably got into it, I don’t know, as a teenager, as a young adult, but I really, really got into it, probably four or five years ago. My son had gone to college. We had done everything together. All of a sudden I needed a new outlet. So I bought a new camera, and I taught myself how to use Lightroom and Photoshop and went deep.
Scott: Turned the dial from three to 11 on the… Nine goes to 11 and goes to —
John: Right, right.
Scott: So, have gotten really serious about that. I have a commercial website. I’m selling photography. I used to travel a lot and take my camera with me. Now I travel to use my camera. I’ll go on specific adventures just to do photography. That’s been super cool.
John: That is awesome. Do you feel like either the music or the photography gives you a skill that you’ve brought to your career, or something that accidentally transcends over?
Scott: In different ways, for sure. The music, to be able to stand in front of people on stage and play a song that you wrote, is an incredibly vulnerable thing.
John: Oh, totally.
Scott: Here’s another thing that we didn’t even talk about is I did theater. I was doing electrical engineering as my major, but I wasn’t on fire with it, to be honest with you. It was very practical, and I wanted to get a job after I was done. So, for fun, I took all these theater classes and music classes. I took 40 or 50 hours’ worth of music and theater classes.
John: That’s incredible.
Scott: What I found is, what I’ll tell people today is the most valuable class I took in all of college and all my classes was improv. It was called Creative Dynamics, but it was essentially improv because you were in front of people, and you had to be on. How this skill has translated as an executive or as a leader is, what happens is this one time, my boss calls me. He’s like, “Hey, Shute, what are you doing?” I’m like, “I’m working. What are you doing?” He’s like, “Hey, well, I was just sitting here with the CEO, and we were talking about your new plan. Maybe you should just come over and talk about it.” I’m like, you’ve got to be kidding me.
Scott: This thing I’ve been preparing for months, and I have the pitch for it. Instead of all that, we’re just going to go talk to the CEO about it right now.
John: Back of the napkin, just, yeah, put on your dancing shoes. Let’s see it, Scott. Let’s see it.
Scott: I had 70 seconds in the walk to the CEO’s office to figure that out.
Scott: It all comes back to this. When you’re standing in front of a crowd, you’ve got to take care of all your emotions and your body, and get composed. It’s all the same thing. It’s all this acting. It’s all this music performance and getting ready for it. It’s totally that, for me, has been the most important skill in life, is being able to communicate like that.
John: No, it’s totally right. You’re exercising that muscle through your music. So then when it’s go time at the office, you’re not going from zero to 60. It’s like, well, no, I’ve been doing this regularly. I can actually do this successfully, and there’s expertise that we have outside of our electrical engineering undergrad.
John: Unfortunately, most people see your college degree and then they go, well, that’s your expertise. It’s like, no, no, so much more expertise that people have that we don’t even care to find out about.
Scott: That’s right. I was just thinking about, even on LinkedIn. I work at LinkedIn, right? On your LinkedIn profile, you can put your hobbies, and I encourage people to tell their whole story. How often does a recruiter or a hiring manager go there first and go, “Oh, dude, tell me about when you were on the crew team in college. Or tell me about what does it mean to you to do photography or to do music, and how does that translate?” How much better would every interview be if they started that way?
John: Yeah, and it’d be more fun for the interviewer, the person interviewing the person as well. It’s a much more — you’re going to be around these people more waking hours than your family. What lights them up?
Scott: Really, who cares what grade you got on Electromagnetics Theory 2?
John: Right? Because it was a D, and if it wasn’t, then you were trying too hard.
Scott: No, funny story, actually, I got to a B in that class. It was one of the proudest moments in history because it was a weed-out class. Literally, 60% of the class got D’s or worse, and I got a B. I don’t know how.
John: Wow, good for you, man. That’s top 15%, man. That’s impressive.
Scott: This will probably be the only time that I get to drop my grade that I got in emag, so, thank you, John, for this opportunity.
John: No, you’re welcome. That’s what What’s Your “And”? is all about. One of my rapid-fire questions is typically, what grade did you get on your junior year exam? I was like, he’ll bring it up in conversation. That’s what Scott does.
Scott: Exactly. His ego is so huge he’s got to drop his grade in emag.
John: Scott B. Shute. I love that. I love how that those skills translate over and that you’re aware of it. How does the mindfulness and the compassion work into work? Because I definitely want to get to that as well. You wrote a whole book on it.
John: I think it’s really important and really key because I feel like both of our messages are different, but their puzzle piece together nicely.
Scott: Right. First of all, most of my day job for the last 25 or 30 years, oh, I don’t even want to count, lots of years, has been in customer support leadership. At LinkedIn, I led global customer operations which is essentially all of the customer-facing stuff that’s not sales. As you might imagine, big job, stressful job. Throughout my career, always have customer issues that are happening and big organizations that there’s always some mess going on. So, mindfulness has always been a big part of my life. It’s something that I’ve started practicing when I was 13. I started teaching when I was in college. It’s always been a big part of who I was as a person, but I never really, I’m air quoting, came out as a meditator until a few years ago at LinkedIn.
I realized it was such a cool place that I could bring it to work. I started by leading a meditation class at work. That became a thing. Then I raised my hand to be the executive sponsor for our mindfulness program. We didn’t have one, so we created one, still, while I was in my old job. Then through a series of events, I raised my hand and asked if I could create this role, and so I’ve been in this role —
John: I love it.
Scott: Yeah, as a full time gig for the last two and a half years. I’m Head of Mindfulness and Compassion. For me, it’s about, I call it changing work from the inside out, mainstreaming mindfulness, operationalizing compassion. So, mindfulness is just about the development of ourselves, and trying to make mindfulness or meditation, like mental exercise, just as commonplace as physical exercise. That’s part of my gig. The other part — and, oh, my God, during pandemic, who doesn’t need help with their mental well-being, right?
John: Oh, my goodness, yeah, everyone.
Scott: On the compassion side, it’s about, okay, this is how we work together. How do we sell products? How do we build products? How do we treat each other inside the company? There’s tons of work to do to codify what does it mean to be compassionate to each other so we can be more successful? Not just because it’s some nice woo-woo thing, but, no, so we can be more successful in business.
John: It’s both. Yeah, and it impacts the bottom line. Yeah, yeah. It’s not like coddling the younger generation, which I think a lot of people are like. It’s like, no, no, everybody wants this. This isn’t a younger thing at all. It’s just they’re allowed to speak up about it because there’s the internet, and they can get another job tomorrow.
Scott: That’s right. Look, if you’re a millennial that got raised by woke parents, parents who told you, you could be anything and do anything and just follow your heart; you don’t want to work for some jerk boss, doing some dumb job that doesn’t mean anything in the world. You want to work for people who care about you and care about their customers and care about the work that we do. The work is changing.
John: Yeah. No, it very much is. That’s awesome, man. That’s what your book is a lot about, which is cool. Yeah, that’s really cool. How much is it on the organization to create that space where mindfulness and compassion is part of just what we do, where sharing your — your story is so incredibly cool, where I meditate and then, hey, I could do a couple of workshops. Now you’re the head of — a job that didn’t even exist for a group that didn’t even exist five years ago. How much is it on the organization to create that space where, whether it’s compassion or mindfulness or sharing your “and”? Or how much is on the individual to raise their hand and be like, hey?
Scott: Well, I think it’s both, but if you don’t have a safe space to share, then we just retreat, right? Here’s what I found. This is how I got there. Our CEO was onstage talking about his own meditation practice using Headspace.
John: Oh, wow.
Scott: That created this umbrella of safety for me to say, okay, well, I guess it’s okay for me to then talk about my thing. I was a VP at the time. That creates an umbrella for everybody in my org and other orgs to also come out and go, well, actually, I do this too, and I’m willing to not talk about it at work. So then all of a sudden, everybody’s talking about what they do, in a way that’s open. This is how it happens.
People will come. If you build it, they will come. If you create this space where they can talk about what they’re passionate about, and they can bring their whole self to work, then you can have really cool conversations about not just meditation or compassion or whatever, but music or creativity. You start putting these creative people together. All of a sudden, they’re like, wow, I get to talk about this at work.
Just think about your own life in times when you felt super lit up about some project that you were doing because something about it sparked inside of you, versus a project where you’re like, oh, wow, well, this kind of sucks, but I’ve got to get it done because I need the pay. Which of these things are you going to get better results from the employee on? It just makes sense.
John: Even if those projects are mundane, which is what happens at work, you can talk about the music or the photography or the outside-of-work thing as part of it. Then you bring that energy to work. You’re around people that they know what you get lit up with and vice versa, and they care about you. It’s like a genuine care. Hey, I’d love to see your pictures, Scott. Or what song have you written lately? What did you bash in the latest song that you were angry about? Totally. I was listening to Rage Against the Machine, and they sound a little too soft for you. That’s cool because then it’s like, wow, they care about me, not just the technical skills me.
Scott: Exactly. Even if we just started every staff meeting, if there are six or eight or 10 of us in a staff meeting, just going around, hey, what’s something cool you did this weekend? Not everybody has to share if they don’t want to, but what this does is it takes our guards down. We’re treating each other as human beings first and building those connections first. It’s from that energy then, okay, well, now let’s go talk about this accounting spreadsheet or this sales presentation or this — I mean, then we’re alive, right? That same aliveness goes into the “mundane,” and the mundane doesn’t have to be mundane.
John: I love it, man. That’s exactly it. That’s super cool, man. Super cool. Do you have any words of encouragement to anyone listening that has a hobby that has nothing to do with their job, or they feel like no one’s going to care?
Scott: Talk about it. Whether you’re a meditator or a musician or a hobby or whatever, what we’re saying is about vulnerability. I think of it like an iceberg. All of us are like an iceberg. Most of us just expose that very tip. If we lower the waterline, if we lower the waterline, and we’re like, hey, I want to share this. Look, when we’re met with resistance, we’ll be like, we all just draw the waterline right back up.
Scott: That’s fine.
John: And then some.
Scott: And then some. If you draw the waterline down and you share with people and you’re met with openness, then they want to do the same thing, and the waterline continues to drop. So, what I’d say is, especially if you’re a leader, is be the first mover. Have the courage to be the first mover, and who knows what you’ll find? Maybe you’ll need to draw the waterline back up. Or maybe it will just keep going, and you’ll end up creating something magical. Be the first mover.
John: Or you create a new job for yourself.
John: There’s that. No, I love it, man. That’s such great advice. It’s one of those that’s simple but not easy, but you’ve got to take a step.
Scott: That’s right.
John: I love that, man. This has been awesome. Before I wrap it up, I feel like it was very rude of me to pepper you with questions at the very beginning, so we will turn the tables. Welcome to the first episode of the Scott Shute podcast.
Scott: That’s right. That’s right. It is my turn.
John: Right, it’s on you.
Scott: Here we go, John. All right, John, if you could spend the rest of your life in living just one month, like Groundhog Day, you have to live this one month that you’ve already lived over and over and over for the rest of your life, what month out of your life that you’ve already lived would you choose?
John: A specific month in a year?
Scott: You may not have to remember it, but like, when I was 18, the last month —
John: Oh, in my life.
Scott: Yeah, in your life.
John: Oh, wow. Okay.
Scott: You get to relive it. You can change the outcome every month.
John: Oh, right, because it’s Groundhog Day.
Scott: It’s Groundhog Day.
John: All right. Wow, that is a good one, yeah, because there’s been a lot of cool things that happened. I don’t know. I’ll probably say October of 2016, maybe. That was the first time I was able to go on the sidelines for a Notre Dame football game, from working with them and stuff and then got to go to several games and be on the sidelines for all of them. Yeah, I could do that all the time.
Scott: You could meet lots of interesting people if you had a whole lifetime to spend.
John: Oh, yeah. Jon Bon Jovi’s son was on the team, so he would be on the sidelines at one game. He had gray hair, so he wasn’t touring, Bon Jovi.
Scott: See, by the end of that month, you could cut an album with Bon Jovi.
John: Oh, yeah, because we can just, hey, what are you doing here? I’ve been practicing my guitar while singing on a milk crate, and I’m good now. It’ll be angry Bon Jovi songs with you in on it. Matt Damon will be playing the drums.
Scott: Exactly. Okay, that was the hardest one first. Here are two easy ones. If you could have any superpower, what superpower would you have?
John: Oh, okay. One would be to sing. I’m a terrible singer. I know that’s not a superpower, but I look at it as a superpower because if you’re a good singer, you suck because I can’t. I would love to be able to sing a song while dunking a basketball.
Scott: Ooh, that’s a superpower.
John: I might be the only 6’3” guy that can’t dunk. I don’t know why, but I just… Yeah.
Scot: Those are two superpowers. All right, we’re getting greedy here, but that’s fine. That’s fine.
John: It’s your show. My bad.
Scott: That’s right. If you could have any animal as a pet, and it would be tame and do whatever you wanted it to, what animal would you choose?
John: Dolphin. Hands down, dolphin. Dolphins are the coolest animals ever in the history of ever. They’re super smart. They’re super hilarious.
Scott: What would you do with your dolphin?
John: Save the world? I don’t know, just everything.
Scott: Here’s John and his sidekick, the dolphin. So, you get to travel around with a truck that has a tank in it with your dolphin?
John: I feel like I would be the sidekick. I feel it would be almost like a ventriloquist where the dummy is the one driving the show.
Scott: That is awesome. I imagine you do. I imagined you on a motorcycle with your little goggles and the dolphin with its little goggles in a sidecar that’s filled with water, chirping. Let’s go save the world, John.
John: I just chuck fish overhead. That would be the coolest thing ever. Could you imagine? If that happened in October of 2016, this would all be heaven right now.
Scott: Look at you. That would be amazing.
John: Yeah, that’s a good one. That’s a good one. Well, no, I appreciate it, Scott. This has been so much fun having you be a part of What’s Your “And”? Congrats on the book, and I appreciate it.
Scott: Thanks for having me. I appreciate it. It’s been fun.
John: Everybody listening, if you want to see some pictures of Scott or connect with him on social media or get the link to Full Body YES: Change Your Work and Your World from the Inside Out, just came out yesterday, be sure and check it out. All the links at whatsyourand.com. While you’re on the page, please click that big button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture.
Thanks again for subscribing on iTunes or whatever app you use and for sharing this with your friends so they get the message that we’re all trying to spread, that who you are is so much more than what you do.
Tripp is a Wealth Manager & Dead Head
Tripp shares some stories from traveling the country seeing The Grateful Dead, making connections with other Deadheads, in the office, and why it is important to have something outside of work!
• Getting into The Grateful Dead
• How his experiences from touring applies to his work
• Why it is important to have something outside of work
Please take 2 minutes
to do John’s anonymous survey
about Corporate Culture!
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Welcome to Episode 369 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 in 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 into more depth in the research that I’ve done behind why these outside-of-work passions are so crucial to your corporate culture. 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. The audio version is coming out very, very soon. I’m excited about that.
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, Tripp Gebhard. He’s a partner with PWM Planning in the Denver office, and now I’m in his office with him. Tripp, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Tripp: John, thanks for having me. I’m excited to be here and talk about my favorite topic. My friends will get a real kick out of this. I guarantee it.
John: For sure, man. This is going to be so much fun. I have 17-rapid fire questions, get to know Tripp out of the gate here. We’ve hung out so many times here in Denver, and I’ve never asked any of these. Maybe I should have actually, now that I think about it. Here we go. First one, favorite color.
Tripp: Blue, definitely, navy blue.
John: Yeah, I’m a blue fan as well. How about a least favorite color?
Tripp: Least favorite color would be purple.
John: Oh, interesting, okay.
Tripp: Or maroon.
John: Yeah, they’re kind of close.
Tripp: Yeah. Tough sports teams here in Colorado, colors, Rockies and Avalanche.
John: Yeah, that’s true. It’s exactly right.
Tripp: Tough to root.
John: It’s tough to root for them. How about when you were a kid in gym class, favorite activity?
Tripp: Oh, I’m going to say street hockey.
Tripp: Yeah. I play forward with a goalie stick.
John: Oh, really?
Tripp: Yeah, real powerful.
John: Yeah, I was going to say, you have to have some guns for that. That’s impressive. How about Sudoku or crossword puzzles?
Tripp: Crossword, for sure.
John: Okay. All right. How about brownie or ice cream?
Tripp: Ice cream.
John: Ice cream. Okay, there you go. Nice. How about a favorite actor or actress?
Tripp: Favorite actor or actress, I’m going to go with Bill Murray.
John: Oh, that’s a great answer.
Tripp: First thing that came to mind, yeah.
John: He went to college in Denver.
Tripp: At Regis actually. I don’t think he graduated. I actually went there my freshman year before going to University of Denver, so, got to hear a lot of Bill Murray stories.
John: Okay, there you go. All right, all right. How about, would you say you’re more of an early bird or a night owl?
Tripp: Oh, early bird, for sure.
John: Early bird. Okay, all right. Star Wars or Star Trek.
John: Neither. Okay.
Tripp: Neither at all.
John: I’ll let it slide. I’ll let it slide. Fair enough. Fair enough. Your computer, more of a PC or a Mac.
Tripp: I am a PC, for sure, but I love my iPhone.
John: Okay. All right. There you go. Since you’re a PC, on your mouse, left click or right click.
John: Left. Making decisions. Boom, there it is. Okay, all right. Oh, this is a good one, summer, winter, spring or fall.
Tripp: Man, it is hard. How could you not pick summer in the mountains in Colorado, but I’m a huge skier, so there’s always the dilemma. I love all seasons, especially here when the sun shines, and you can do it —
John: Here in Colorado, they are because the mountains are great in the winter and the summer.
Tripp: I’ve learned to kind of take it with the seasons.
John: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Tripp: It’s better that way. That way, you’re not looking outside of what’s going on in the present. You just go do it.
John: I love it. I love it, man. Yeah. Just in case any other seasons are listening, he likes all of them. We don’t need to bang away on Twitter.
Tripp: Yes, yes, very neutral there.
John: Very neutral, very neutral. Chocolate or vanilla.
Tripp: Yeah, that’s a tough one because I love them both, but push comes to shove, I’ll take a vanilla shake.
John: Oh, okay. All right, all right. Okay, here we go. We’re going to go NASDAQ or Dow.
Tripp: Well, the darling of last year was NASDAQ with all the tech stocks, so let’s go with the Dow this year.
John: Okay, all right.
Tripp: Let’s change it up.
John: Okay, so you can move with the seasons on that, too. I see what’s up.
John: How about a favorite sports team?
Tripp: Oh, that would be a tie between the Denver Broncos and the St. Louis Cardinals baseball teams. It’s kind of neck and neck.
John: Yeah. No, I hear you. How about a favorite number?
Tripp: Well, the first thing that popped to my head was 16. I don’t know why. That just popped to my head, so we’ll go with that.
John: Yeah. No, that’s a good answer. Two more. When it comes to books, Kindle, real book or audio version.
Tripp: It’s interesting because the last two or three books that I bought, I actually bought the the hard copy version on Amazon so that I can pick it up, read it and make notes. I go back and forth and on all three. It just really depends. I don’t know why. It’s like, do I audio book it or what? It just happens.
John: Okay. All right. No, fair enough. The last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.
Tripp: Well, I already mentioned my iPhone. That would be just because I am just amazed that it literally can do everything. If I need to hang a picture, I can use a level. Driving anywhere, I could never imagine — every time I go somewhere, I’m like, I would never have found this the old way.
John: Right, right.
Tripp: I just am amazed. Plus, it’s my access to information and everything else, whether it be my meditation or whatever I’m going for. It just does about everything for me.
John: That’s awesome. I feel the same way. When I get somewhere, if my phone craps out right now, I will not be able to get home. I don’t know how I got — people are like, how did you come? How did you drive? When I go to a different city or traveling, I don’t know what the highway was. It’s the one that got here.
Tripp: It tells you, follow this little line.
John: It has made me maybe dumber, which I was already starting low. No, but let’s talk Grateful Dead. How did you get started with that? Was it from when you were younger?
Tripp: Yeah. So, my initial foray into the Grateful Dead was a buddy of mine, Kevin, and it was maybe eighth grade, ninth grade, a lot of studio stuff.
Tripp: I ended up getting into this, so, during that time, getting exposed to it. Then I went to boarding school, I guess it was my junior year, in Maine. Going up there is where I got exposed to this whole Grateful Dead society, whatever the hell Deadheads were. From that point forth, everywhere I went, it was like, half the people were Deadheads and half the people weren’t. That’s where I got into collecting a lot of tapes and started my tape collection of bootlegged concerts and so forth.
Tripp: Got exposed to some real hardcore East Coast Deadheads, New York deadheads, the real deal.
John: Like the Ben and Jerry’s founders guys.
Tripp: Yes, yes, the real deal. Then I brought that back to St. Louis. We just started going off and seeing concerts and trading tapes and stuff. How I actually got to my first show, which was cool, is I was working for my uncle. They had horses and so forth. I’m working in the stables, and my cousin had tickets to see the Grateful Dead in Wisconsin at Alpine Valley.
John: Oh, yeah.
Tripp: I had tickets that Saturday night to see America at Westport in St. Louis. Arden couldn’t get off work or something, so we switched. It was $13 a ticket. Can you imagine paying $13, which included parking?
John: That’s amazing.
Tripp: Included parking. My tickets were $19. It was like $40 for a weekend to go see the Grateful Dead, and we switched. I remember driving home and just this panic about, is my mom going to let me go? Is she going to let me go? I’m 16 years old or whatever.
Tripp: Her comment was, “I think it’s a great idea. You can go see the country. You can no longer be a hobo on a train, type thing. This will give you a chance to go out there and see the real world.” Growing up where I grew up, it was like, I heard 100 times, it seemed like a month, that you better eat that, there’s a starving kid in China. My mom used to always say, “This isn’t the real world. This isn’t how real people live.”
John: Oh, my goodness. Yeah, yeah.
Tripp: For me, it was this sense of, well, what else is out there? We have this cushy life, but there’s all this stuff out there. There’s all this adventure. She said, “I think it’s awesome. I think you should do it.” That was the entry to a whole another world.
John: Who did you go with?
Tripp: My first shows, I went with some friends from high school. The Boger family is a big name. They’ll probably listen to this at some point. Peter Boger is a good buddy of mine. He ended up having two older brothers, which was another thing that I got to go, was because we had chaperones.
John: Right, but older brothers are your friends. That doesn’t count.
Tripp: Older brothers who are not exactly — we got something different out of them than my parents thought we were getting.
John: Right, right.
Tripp: Anyway, yeah, that was the beginning. It was one of those things that I just — I remember going up to Wisconsin, and you met these people from all over the world, literally. It was just a really, really cool experience. The thing about The Dead which is so different than other bands, they put on a true show, not a concert, not repeating itself, very jazz, open-ended music and a lot of exploring. There’s just a lot of adventure in that and openness, so, a lot of fun.
John: It’s got to be cool too, because you know that you’re witnessing something that’s never going to happen again, because they’re going off on these solos or riffing. They’re jamming on something, and they’re probably never going to do this again, in this way, type of thing. It’s a one-and-done sort of moment and, like you said, it’s an experience.
Tripp: Yeah, and consciously, I think the band took that to the audience. Consciously, they said, we’re going to do everything in our power not to do this song in the same way, and put trips in at different parts, to change things and approach it a little differently, that kind of thing. You really did get a different concert every night. It was the thing. I felt it was like, hey, we go to a winning sports team event. You’re guaranteed to win tonight. I’d be doing it, so it was just a lot of fun.
John: No, that’s awesome, man. That’s super cool. Did you continue going to concerts then? Do you have a favorite one that comes to mind, beyond the first one?
Tripp: Well, like a lot of things in life, yeah, there was that very, very first one.
John: There’s quite a few, yeah,
Tripp: Yeah, the very first one was just, you can never get that one back. Everything was new. Everything was fresh. A lot of that stuff is still burned to my memory, just feelings or just images, if you will. I would say probably the second one was ‘87, ‘88, New Year’s at Oakland. The first time I saw The Dead was in June of ‘87. Then we went out to California, me and Peter, my buddy, and Kevin, who’s a dear friend of ours, who’s departed us, unfortunately, but he was in a lot of my first shows. That New Year’s and that whole experience and being out in California as a 17-year-old, it was just — every New Year’s, it’s like, there will be nothing ever again. I’m usually asleep at 10 now.
Tripp: It was such a special time. Those two kind of hang out, but then there was so many. The thing about when I go to Dead shows, you’d see people from a bunch of different — from boarding school, from grade school, from high school, from summer camps, all over the place. That kept that going. I went on, pretty much, four summer tours from ‘87 through, I guess it would have been ‘90.
Tripp: Then one of their band members died, Brent Mydland, who was a very, very important part of the band, had joined them in ‘79 and really changed the sound. Not just me saying this, but the time that I saw them, still to this day, a lot of the surviving members have said that was the best period, ‘87 through ‘90, when Brent died.
After that, I didn’t tour as much, but I still would see them maybe four times a year, for three or four shows, maybe a city or two, and do that. What I started to do is, at that point, I started listening to the Phish as well. They’ve been in my repertoire. That’s why I said they’re my band today, but The Dead is always my band.
John: Yeah, because Phish is the newer version.
Tripp: Yeah, and they’re totally different but don’t shy away from any of that because they thank the Grateful Dead for getting them there. They didn’t know that they could play exploratory music like that. They didn’t know — everything from the two-set system, they copied all that from — and they admit it, but their style, their music and everything is so different to us, I think to somebody who’s got the ear for it.
John: Yeah, exactly. They’re in the same family, but they’re definitely not the same.
Tripp: Yeah, and I would say, for sure, they’re the most popular jam band to come out of the Grateful Dead, but there are so many others. There are so many Dead-oriented-only bands.
John: That’s true, too. That’s true, too. That’s awesome, man. Four times a year, that’s dedication. This is clearly a passion that, if I were to tell you, you can’t go to another Dead concert, what?
Tripp: You feel like that now. We have definitely felt that way.
Tripp: Yeah. It’s just been that way. I don’t know when we’re going to get back. A few things, I’ve been to all 50 states. In 2016, the only state I had not been to was Oregon. My son and I, who was about 14 at the time, Penn, the two of us went out there and saw Dead and company, out in Portland. That was cool. From going to California, to upstate New York, New York City, Texas, Arizona, Southern California, Northern California, I’ve been, you name it, on a major highway, I’ve been on it, or through the state whatever.
John: That’s awesome. Yeah, because it’s driving to these concerts, that’s part of the experience as well. It starts days before the concert itself.
Tripp: It’s a circus. It’s a kind of a caravan. That was the fun thing.
John: I didn’t even think of that. Yeah.
Tripp: I think the last, probably five years, a big deal for us was Las Vegas.
John: Oh, okay.
Tripp: People would come from all over the country, from 1990 to ‘95. That was a great time.
John: That’s awesome, man. That’s cool, and it’s cool that you were able to tour with them, basically, for those summers, when they were at their peak.
John: Which is pretty awesome. That’s super cool. That’s super cool. Do you feel like any of this translates to work at all through your career?
Tripp: Well, it’s certainly, definitely who I am. I think it’s funny because when I was thinking about this, when I started getting into this, I had to talk some of my friends that are doing it or talking to them and talking to their parents into it. There was this adult. We’re doing this. We’re teens. We’re doing something wrong because we were doing stuff wrong.
John: Right. Yeah.
Tripp: Yeah, we were kids. So we were going out there and exploring, but we had to talk these parents into it. A couple of my parents’ friends didn’t let them go or whatever. They were angry that they — there’s all this negative connotation, but it was such an amazing time. So I think that, for years, even when I was getting in the professional world, I tried to hide some of that because I thought that that wouldn’t be worthy of people hearing or whatever.
As I’ve gotten older, you start to understand how you were made. You start leaning on experiences. For me, I think, the adventure, I would go on the road, and we’d sleep behind gas stations. Nobody would be there. You’d have to deal with the attendant in the morning. I’d go knock on doors at 11:00 on a Sunday night to ask a farmer if we could sleep in his field. Certain things like that take a lot of courage. So, I don’t know, after you do that for a while, you’re just automatically doing that stuff, and you’re on the road surviving. So, those skills have always served me very, very well.
John: No, that is interesting though because, yeah, when you get into the workplace, it’s the first time that you’re not around everyone your same age.
John: All of a sudden, there are people that are 20, 30 years older than you that are your parents’ age, that you’re also working with. It’s easy to think that, well, they’re going to frown upon it because all my parents’ friends frowned upon it and whatever. Therefore… Yeah, it’s the same thing there. That makes sense.
Tripp: Today, honestly, it’s just such a part of who I am, but I’m also — I get the younger generation. They’re amazed because that’s not available today. A lot of the guys I work with are just past people that I talk to that are younger. A lot of what I do is multi-generational wealth management and so forth, so we mentor a lot of kids and stuff. I don’t know. To me, now, it’s important for me, that experience.
John: I walked into your office. You have a Grateful Dead logo against the window. You have the magazine here on the table. You have posters on the wall. Yeah, absolutely.
Tripp: These are all gifts too. Everything I have in here that you’re looking at is gifts from people that know that I love it.
John: Know you.
John: That’s fantastic, man. It’s cool that it’s just out, and there it is. It’s not like you’re shouting it from the rooftops, but, hey, if somebody comes in here, they know that’s the Dead logo. They’re like, oh, you like the Grateful Dead. It just opens up a conversation there.
John: I love how you said that it’s important. Why do you think it’s so important that not only people have something outside of work, but to also share it?
Tripp: Well, I am one of those guys, and I do a lot of coaching, too. For me, I’ve just learned that sharing and being vulnerable is you’re giving permission to that other person.
Tripp: With the Dead and stuff, I think about my office, it’s kind of a joke, but it definitely gets people into their own areas, and so just talking to people and getting them to open up. I facilitated a lot of member presentations for CTLF, and the one thing I start out with is, hey, what do you not want the group to know about you? Let’s just get there. I’ve never had anybody in that container that doesn’t get right to the gut of it.
Tripp: I have them tell their story. When I get to the very end of the story, I always ask them, so what do you not want me to tell the group? I’ve never had anybody tell, or in my introduction, I’ve never had anybody not, say, I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t tell everything, so let’s just go ahead and do that.
John: Yeah. Right.
Tripp: I think it’s very important to have outside activities. That’s who we are. It’s not like, I’m only a financial planner. I’m much more than that, and so are the people that work for PWM.
John: Yeah, and your clients.
Tripp: And clients.
John: It’s the same thing. Because that’s the thing when I talk to people, especially that are in the professional services world, it’s like, do you know who else has hobbies and passions? Your clients. So, if you’re able to create a connection, if you had a client who was also a Deadhead, you’re best friends for no reason. Good luck, anyone else trying to steal that from you because they’ll never leave you. It doesn’t matter. You just have a connection that’s above and beyond the work.
Tripp: Yeah. It’s like anything else. When you look at parts of society and stuff, I look at my CTLF group, Colorado Thought Leaders Forum group, there are two of us that are big Deadheads. Then there are three or four people that had seen them and are peripheral, know about them, had friends or spouses that were crazy like us.
John: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Tripp: It’s really everywhere I go. You’re going to be in a group of 10 people. There’s going to be a Deadhead or two in there. That’s just the way it always is. I don’t know why.
John: What’s cool is how you let that philosophy of the Grateful Dead permeate who you are and how you work and how you live and all of that, which I think is really cool.
Tripp: Yeah. No, definitely, just the sense of adventure, sense of community, sense of camaraderie. The Dead really did have a family. They were very much of a family type, very communicative to fans. You had constant communication, whether it be voicemails that you can call into, to listen to, for updates or —
John: That’s awesome.
Tripp: Yeah. They really — I don’t know. I felt like the adults, I don’t know, in my life before that, just all of them sort of had — they told you the way things were. Then you got out there in the real world, and it’s like, okay. It’s really open. They give you responsibilities, or here’s how they asked you to act as adults.
John: Right. Yeah, yeah.
Tripp: It’s like, well, nobody ever asked me to act like that. They told me how I had to act. It was just a whole different…
John: I love that, man, because that’s such a great parallel to a lot of professionals. We graduate college. They tell us how to act. They treat us like we’re five. It’s like, no, I’m highly educated. I’m intelligent. I know what I’m doing. Treat me like an adult, expect me to act like an adult, and then let’s go and make some damage. Let’s do some good stuff.
John: Instead, it’s, no, here’s your pacifier. What are you doing every six minutes? Put it on a time sheet. Where were you when I came by your cubicle and you weren’t sitting there?
Tripp: You loved being a CPA, didn’t you?
John: All of it. All of it. Golly, we’re adults here. I love how the Grateful Dead treated their fans that way, as family and as adults. Here’s our expectation, and then you rise to that.
John: I wish more corporate people listened to Grateful Dead now. That’s amazing. I didn’t even realize that. That’s super great. I guess when you were earlier in your career, when you weren’t sharing as much, understandably so, was there something else you were sharing? Or was it more just like put your head down and get the work done?
Tripp: Well, now that you asked me it that way, so, I worked for Invesco in 1995. That’s when Jerry died. I was actually in a training session in August at — we were getting trained on something. Jennifer was our trainer, who I’m still friends with today. She and her husband were big Deadheads. I worked at a floor of, probably, 80 people, and there was at least five or six of us that were on tour. We would go, not on tour, but we would go to California for the Cal Expo shows or go back to Chicago, whatever we did, active people. So, I don’t know if I really had to ever hide it.
John: Oh, okay.
Tripp: Would be the answer really.
John: Yeah, but you didn’t necessarily share it openly. It was more of like, oh, you like the Grateful Dead too? Okay, cool.
Tripp: Yeah. I think maybe it was that, now that I think about it, that 33-year-old getting in the financial services business, who had to, all of a sudden, button everything up, and that didn’t really fit in that buttoning up. After a while, you get tired of being all buttoned up.
John: Right. Well, that’s exhausting too. Who did I tell? Who didn’t I tell? What do they think? What don’t they think? In your own head, you’re building up these stories of this is what they’re going to say. None of it’s true, and none of it comes out that way.
Tripp: Yeah. The one thing I’ve done in the last, I’d say, three, four years is I really just — just say what you feel. Whatever is there, just get it out and then you don’t have to worry about it. I think that’s a maturation process that we go through too, of better understanding, hopefully —
John: Maybe in confidence as well.
Tripp: — some of us or something.
John: Yeah, right. Exactly. Exactly. It’s more mature than we were at 15. We’re 17.
Tripp: Yeah, exactly. Exactly.
John: Exactly. That’s awesome, man. Before we wrap this up, do you have any words of encouragement for anyone listening? I know we touched on earlier of how important it is to have those outside-of-work.
Tripp: Yeah. Where we sit today, you and I were talking before we began this thing, we can’t do a lot of things we wanted to do or used to do. With anxiety, depression and all that stuff that’s really on the rise, I think the best thing we have is our relationships. So, the more we can talk to other people, that’s the best advice that I can give right now, is stay connected, stay open, stay open-minded and get after it.
John: That’s so perfect. I love how you said that, with the mental wellness, in the last year, has really become really crucial. It’s not just all work all the time.
Tripp: Yeah, so get out there and talk about your why with people. Have fun. There’s been a lot of that good connection with a lot of people, but a lot of people don’t know how to do that. It usually takes, if there are two people, it takes one of them to make that call. I’ve had so many conversations with people in the last two months that’s like, well, why don’t you be the one to call? You be the one to call because you’re just two people, right? Everybody’s sitting there saying, well, I don’t hear from people anymore.
John: Then pick up the phone and have a normal conversation, not a work conversation.
John: Yeah. No, I love that. That’s so great and so easy for people to do. Simple but not easy, I guess, is maybe the best way to say it, but, yeah, just do it. Pick up the phone. Call somebody. Call Tripp, everybody.
Tripp: There you go.
John: Call Tripp.
Tripp: Absolutely. Yeah.
John: Your iPhone’s blowing up. We’re all good, all good. Well, it’s only fair, since I so rudely peppered you with questions at the beginning, that we turn the tables now. We make this the first episode of the Tripp Gebhard podcast.
John: Thank you so much for having me on, Tripp. I’m all yours if you want to fire away with some questions.
Tripp: Well, the first thing is an obvious one, John, is what is your “and”?
John: Oh, my “and” is college football, for sure, and ice cream and going to concerts.
Tripp: So, ice cream has been your main event.
John: Oh, yeah, ice cream, for sure, all the time. When I worked in the corporate world, doing comedy was certainly my “and” but then that became my job, which is very hard. I don’t advocate that anyone makes their “and” their job. It’s crazy and hard and insane.
Tripp: Okay, I’ve got a really good one for you.
Tripp: Grateful Dead or Phish.
John: Oh, wow. Okay, well, yeah, I guess the number of songs that I have listened to, I’ll say Phish only because I’ve heard more Phish songs just because they were newer, I guess.
John: They’re both great bands. Musically, they’re so talented.
Tripp: That’s a good answer. They’re still around. You can see them.
John: Yeah, yeah. I mean, in college and stuff, that was more, then, like Dave Matthews was also kind of jam bandy when you see them live. They were the bands at the time, so, yeah.
Tripp: Phish was a little bit more edgy.
John: Oh, yeah. For sure. For sure.
Tripp: Little longer hair and some other things that went along with the crowd and that kind of stuff.
Tripp: Okay. Would you rather have more time or would you rather have more money?
John: Oh, man. Yeah, that’s a good one. I’m going to say more money just because I’m with you, but more money —
Tripp: You don’t want me to manufacture time for you?
John: I think if you have more money, a stupid amount of money, then time doesn’t necessarily matter because it’s not like you’re working 40 hours a week or, in my case, even more, and then you have to fit in those “ands” and life around that. If you have a stupid amount of money, then your whole life is your “and”. You just do whatever you want. If you die at 40, well, you know what, you had all free time. You had the same amount of free time as someone who died at 100. So, I’ll take more money, I think, now that I’m talking it out.
Tripp: Well, money can definitely bring more opportunities and more leisure time.
John: Yeah, yeah. Also more problems, I guess, like Mo Money Mo Problems. That’s wasn’t a Phish song.
Tripp: There you go.
John: That wasn’t a Phish song.
Tripp: No, it was not, and that’s another discussion.
John: Right, right.
Tripp: Yeah, there’s definitely, be careful what you wish for, at some point.
John: Secretly, more money. Secretly. Awesome, man. Well, thank you so much for being a part of What’s Your “And”? This was super, super fun.
Tripp: Yeah, I’m pumped. Thanks for having me.
John: Absolutely, and everybody listening, if you want to see some pictures of Tripp or maybe connect with him on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. While you’re on the page, please click that big button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture, and don’t forget to check out the book.
Thanks again for subscribing to the podcast 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.
Gail is a President & Music Lover
Gail Wilson, founder of GWA Business Solutions, talks about her passion for music and attending concerts! She also shares when she realized that learning about other people’s hobbies add insight to who they are as people!
• Getting into music and concerts
• Gail’s first concert
• Her favorite concert she has attended
• Attending socially distanced concerts and karaoke nights
• Why it’s important to have an escape from work
• How knowing someone’s “And” provides insight to who they are as people
Please take 2 minutes
to do John’s anonymous survey
about Corporate Culture!
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- Read Full TranscriptOpen or Close
Welcome to Episode 363 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 the podcast, you can go even deeper into my research with the book. It’s available on Amazon, Indigo, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop, a few other websites. Check out whatsyourand.com for all the details. I can’t say how much it means that everyone’s reading it and then writing such nice 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, Gail Wilson. She’s the president and founder of GWA Business Solutions in Markham, Ontario, Canada, and now she’s with me here today. Gail, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Gail: Hi, John. How you doing today?
John: Doing awesome. I’m so excited to have you be a part of this. I also love concerts. You love concerts. This is going to be so much fun. I feel like I’m also the guest. We get to share all of our “ands”. This is going to be a blast.
Gail: You got it.
John: Before we get into it, I have my rapid-fire questions, get to know Gail on a new level here, right out of the gate. I’ll start you out with a pretty easy one, favorite color.
Gail: I knew you were going to ask me that, and I don’t have a favorite color. I love favorite colors, but if I had to pick just one, you know that beautiful color you see when you look out in the Caribbean Sea or whatever your fancy is, and you see this blue-green. That would have to be it.
John: Yeah, yeah, that is blue-teal, blue-green, whatever it is. Yeah, it’s so perfect. It really is. It’s interesting that the whole ocean isn’t like that. I’m sure there’s a reason. How about, okay, so least favorite color.
Gail: I love color, John. That’s a tough one. I would say a color I don’t look really good in and that most people don’t look really good in. I would say that would be like a really super bright red.
John: Okay. Yeah, I hear you. I hear you. How about, this is a fun one, shower or bath?
Gail: I like them both. You’re asking me all these questions.
John: You like all of the things.
Gail: Right? Unfortunately, there’s nothing better than having a really good shower.
John: What if you filled the bathtub through the shower head, then it’s both at the same time.
Gail: Yeah, yeah, for sure.
John: How about when it comes to puzzles, Sudoku or crossword?
John: Okay, there we go. We’re on a roll now. Here we go. Diamonds or pearls.
John: Okay. All right. Two for two. How about a favorite actor or actress?
Gail: I met Jane Seymour, and it was really fun to meet her in person.
John: That’s cool.
Gail: She was at a stage event. Of course, I didn’t have a backstage pass. Somehow I got to see her. I’m not quite sure how I finagled that, but I did.
John: Good for you. Good for you. That’s cool. Yeah, really great actress as well. Would you say you’re more of an early bird or a night owl?
John: Early. Okay, all right. How about when it comes to books, Kindle, real books or audio book?
Gail: I like a real book, but I also like Kindle.
John: Sure. No, no, I hear you. How about, since you’ve got the accounting, bookkeeping background, favorite number?
John: None. Is there a reason?
Gail: I just always thought nines look really smooth.
John: Yeah. No, they do. You’re right. Yeah, I hear you. Okay, how about a favorite sports team?
Gail: It’s got to be the Jays.
John: Oh, okay, all right. There we go. Oceans or mountains.
Gail: Oceans, big time.
John: Because of the blue. I see what’s going on.
Gail: You got it.
John: Yeah, here we go. This is a fun one, balance sheet or income statement.
Gail: Income statement.
John: Income, okay. Somebody asked me this one at the end of an episode. It’s been fun to ask people now, is, socks or shoes.
Gail: Flip flops.
John: Okay. There we go. There we go. That’s hilarious. That’s awesome. How about, Star Wars or Star Trek?
Gail: I like them both, but I’m an original Trekkie. I was like five years old back then, even though I’m 29. You didn’t ask my age, but
John: Not at all. Not at all. You were four or five when you started watching them. Right? Three more. Your computer, PC or a Mac.
John: Okay, yeah, me too. Favorite ice cream flavor. I love ice cream.
Gail: Oh, it has got to be that one where they put the yummy vanilla and then they add all this caramel and then a little bit of chocolate chips.
John: Yeah, like a Moose Tracks almost?
John: There you go. Yeah, all the chunks. All right, last one, favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.
Gail: It’s going to be my iPad.
John: Oh, your iPad, okay. There we go.
Gail: I’m a computer person, you know?
John: No, totally. So let’s talk concerts and live music and all that. Is that something that you grew up going to? Or did you start doing it, later point in life?
Gail: My mom loved Elvis, so I grew up listening to Elvis and listening to music for my sister. She’s nine years older than me, and she always had music on. In those days, it was a while ago, you would save your allowance to buy one song.
John: Right, like a single. Yeah.
Gail: She would spend her allowance every, maybe once a month, buying an album, right? So I had Led Zeppelin playing and all this stuff as a young girl, great things to grow up with. We also had comedy, which is why I like to make people smile, which was Cheech and Chong.
John: Okay. That’s great.
Gail: This is what I was listening to. So, when I had an opportunity to go to a concert, I was about 15 and with a date. My date said, “We have an opportunity to go and see Supertramp.” Of course, Supertramp’s album was Crime of the Century, bloody well write, all these really great songs that you need to think about. So we go down to the concert, and I loved the concert. I did not need drugs. I did not need alcohol. I just needed music. When I’m stressed, I put just music on and the live music, then that’s the escape. That’s the time where I can say, I don’t have to think about any of my customers’ questions.
Gail: I don’t have to think about what solution do I have to come up with. I just think, how am I going to get in and enjoy this moment? Because the concert, the music, it just draws you in, the positive energy of everyone around you, because I don’t see people at concerts that are unhappy.
Gail: Right? When you’re at a concert, everybody’s happy, and anybody that didn’t like it is gone. So it’s a way for us to escape to a completely, 100% positive, comfortable environment.
John: Yeah, I love that. That’s so true. It’s so true. Because somebody asked me at the end of one of these episodes, sporting event or concert, which is such a hard one because I love both, but then I thought about it. I said concerts because every time I go to a concert, it’s an experience, every time. There’s the audience there. There’s the band. There’s the interaction between the two. Everyone’s singing and all that. Where at a sporting event, sometimes it’s an experience, but sometimes it’s a two-to-nothing baseball game, and whatever. I eat some nachos. I agree with you. There is that experience there, for sure.
Gail: Well, that reminds me of a story, and it’s a good one. I went to see Keith Urban a few years back. One of my state friends was in town, and he was going to the Microsoft conference. He goes, “Oh, you know — some famous person was playing there, but he couldn’t get me in. I said, “Hey, why don’t you come to the Keith Urban concert with me? My husband can’t make it, and my son is coming with me.” So the three of us go down. We go to see Keith Urban. My family knows my friend, Robert, very well. It was great. We had a really good time.
Besides the good time I had, I was sitting in the American Express lounge, having a drink. I looked over and I said, “Hey, that guy really looks like Kevin Pillar, doesn’t it?” Robert’s like, “Yeah. Yeah, it does.” The guy beside us goes, yeah, and there’s like four other members of the team. There’s smoke and all these other guys, and they’re all in this private room. This girl goes over and gets her picture taken with Kevin Pillar.
I said, hmm. I love Kevin Pillar. He’s probably our favorite. We love him. Wouldn’t it be great if I get my picture taken with him? So, sure enough, my son had gone out to get junk food because that’s what kids eat. I went over to where the bodyguards were and asked Kevin if I could get my picture taken with him. He graciously said, yes. My son walks in and says, “Figures, my mom is standing there getting her picture taken with Kevin Pillar.” It’s so obvious that I like to meet people. I’m not crazy people when I meet people. I’m just like, “Oh, hi, how are you? Can I get my picture? Thank you very much. Have a great night.”
John: Yeah, but he plays for the Jays, and he’s in Canada. He’s just happy that people recognize him because he’s not on the Leafs. Everyone knows the Leafs. That’s super awesome though that it combined the two where it’s a Blue Jays player at a concert, and you get the picture. That’s awesome.
Gail: In the middle of the concert, he was on the floors. I like to be a little further back. Some concerts, the floors, but not at the Molson Amphitheatre or Budweiser Center, whatever they call it now. Anyway, in the middle of the concert, he gives Keith Urban a Jays shirt.
John: Oh, that’s great.
Gail: Keith Urban puts it on, so that even made it better.
John: Yeah, so then the place went nuts. That’s awesome. That’s very cool. You’ve been to concerts all over the US and Canada. You’ve been to quite a few. Is there one that’s one of your more favorites that comes to mind, or more unique, I guess?
Gail: The favorite person I ever saw was at — there’s a little casino in Niagara Falls, and it seats 1500 people. Steven Tyler decided to go and play there with his country band.
Gail: I got these seats, fifth row, center.
Gail: It was like he was right there with you. This was different. He was probably the most charismatic performer I’ve ever seen. Maybe he normally isn’t like that, but it was just, there’s only 1500 people. I don’t know if you know a lot about him, but he has this charity called Janie’s Charity. He was performing that. It was just this song, Janie’s Got a Gun.
John: Right. Yeah.
Gail: It was just such a meaningful concert. It’s funny because people don’t think you can get that from a concert. They’ll say, oh, it’s perfect if I listened to it on my recording. Well, who cares if it’s perfect on my recording?
John: Yeah, it’s super fun when the band goes off script, or they do extra solos, or they link something out, or they tell the story behind the song, or they do a different version of it. That’s why you’re there. You can listen to it at the mp3 or whatever or on Spotify, or now just say, tell the gadget what song you want to listen to, and it plays it. Or even some people that do covers of somebody else’s song, or maybe it’s a song that they wrote that someone else made famous and so they’re, here’s my version of it. Yeah, and that’s always fun to see, where you’re like, what, that’s awesome, type of a thing. Or it’s Steven Tyler singing country music. That’s great.
Gail: I have to admit he did sing my very favorite song, Dream On, and I recorded it, of course, on my little cellphone. It was just a different experience because of him being such a great star and being in such a small environment. I remember hearing one of my friends went to see — was at the El Mocambo, which is a little club in Toronto, and famous people come, and the Rolling Stones played there. They said it was the same kind of thing. Then the Rolling Stones just came up. Wow. That’s not an opportunity you get. He’s never played in a band again that I know of.
John: Yeah, yeah.
Gail: He’s back touring with Aerosmith when tours are back on again.
John: Right. Hopefully soon, hopefully, soon. Yeah, we’re all missing live concerts, but you have been able to see some live singing even during the pandemic, which I think is so fantastic how clever people have been to make it happen. Because when we chatted before, you talked about it was like a karaoke night but because all these bands aren’t touring, the lead singers and people that are really good singers aren’t performing. You stumbled into a karaoke night, and it was like all-star night almost.
Gail: It was incredible because the last time I saw live music, a friend of mine, he owns Toronto Fashion Week for men’s and women’s fashion, and you know what’s happened to the fashion industry. It was a cool event. We ended up meeting an Olympian at this little event in town that nobody knows how to pronounce that they see how it’s spelled called Stouffville.
Gail: So, here are all these people that are pretty famous, coming into Stouffville to watch the Canadian Fashion Film Festival, and then we went to the same venue and saw a band. This band played at Boots and Hearts. It’s a huge country festival in Canada. Some little guy that’s in his basement, and they said, this is the first time we’ve played since COVID hit. It was August.
John: Yeah. Wow, that’s crazy. Then you told me about how one had the clear shower curtain liners around the singers so then it could keep the COVID in, I guess. I don’t know.
Gail: Yeah, that’s a great story, John. Thanks for reminding me of that. We were driving along, and we thought, hmm, there’s a cute little place right on the water. Let’s stop in there. There’s a little pub and great. It was the whole nine yards, so we went in there. I said to my husband, “That sounds like live music. That does not sound like an album.”
John: Right. Let’s go. Find it. Find it.
Gail: We get in there. We got this amazing table. Here’s this shower curtain up inside, not just one. There are two shower curtains with a shower curtain in between, so, picture that. It’s like a crossword puzzle. You have two little boxes, and the shower curtains are all around it. The guy doing the karaoke, manning it, he’s on one side. He’s sitting there sterilizing everything, two microphones, and everybody has to have a microphone cap on, and he’s pointing the sterilized microphone through the little partition there between the two shower curtains so that — and these people could sing. I was just saying to my husband, “I don’t care if it’s even really bad music. I just want to hear live music.”
John: Yeah, yeah.
Gail: This guy that was up there, I was floored. I said, that person must be a professional. The next person one got up. She was just as good. The next person — the whole night had to be all professionals.
John: Yeah, because they’re not touring and they’re not performing anywhere. Instead, they’re in a shower curtain cube at a bar in the middle of nowhere, just working out their chops. Yeah, and I love that. That’s so great. I feel like that should be a movie with Will Ferrell in it or something, where it’s just pandemic karaoke, or I don’t even know. Even with all this, you’re still able to get some live music and even listen to the music as well. I loved how you said that earlier, where just listening to music is that escape from work and that stress relief. You’re not always thinking about work. When the music comes on, you’re able to take a break. How important do you think it is for people to have something to take that break?
Gail: It’s so true, John. There’s stress. Doesn’t matter what comes in your life. You could have death in your family. You can have whatever in your family. You can imagine, what do you think was playing at my mother’s funeral?
John: Oh, well, not a Cheech and Chong bit, I’m sure. Right?
John: Yeah, Elvis, like you said, yeah, yeah.
Gail: We played Elvis at my mother’s funeral because that’s what my mother brought us up doing. She was a happy person, full of life, lots of fun, and funerals are a very solemn time. My father didn’t want to go. We put a little bit of — it wasn’t like we’re dancing or anything in the funeral parlor. Don’t get me wrong.
John: Yeah, yeah. You were celebrating.
Gail: Yeah. So, you know what? At the end, my dad was like, “Am I ever glad you talked me into coming to this funeral.”
John: Right. Yeah, no matter what’s going on, even if you’re having a bad day or something didn’t go your way, a client didn’t choose you, you didn’t get the promotion, whatever it is, there’s all ranges of bad things. Then, yeah, given the pandemic, I’m homeschooling my kids, my spouse got laid off, whatever it is, there’s all kinds of crazy happening. It’s so crucial that you keep that “and”. You have that outside-of-work hobby and passion, whether you can actually do it, like going to concerts, not as much, but listening to the music, you can, and stumbling across that karaoke night. It’s almost like an oasis in the middle of the desert. It’s so crucial to have those. I agree with you, totally.
Gail: Right. I’m visiting Florida right now, and things are very much safe here. They still have live music outside. The other day, I listened to a steel drum band guy. He goes, “I was lucky. I gave up on cruise ships in January before all this hit, so we had gigs lined up.” Then Tommy, I sent you a picture of me with Tommy.
John: Whatsyourand.com, yeah, yeah.
Gail: Yeah, and seeing Tommy for many, many years. Tommy Treadway, he is just one guy, and he goes around and sings. Sometimes he sings with a band as well. I had a lot of fun the other night, and there was nobody there, by the way. There was art table and then about 35 feet away, there was another table, but it was all outside. It was at a restaurant where people were coming and going and picking up the food. It was just something the restaurant area of the resort wanted to have something fun for people to listen to while they were waiting for their pizza.
John: Yeah. Do you find yourself talking with, like when you’re at a conference, with people about their “and” or maybe music in general or clients as well?
Gail: Yes. Especially since I’ve met you, John, I’ve been telling everyone that I’m going to be on this podcast. They told me what their “and” is, and really a great insight into who people are because everybody wants to tell you their “and”.
Gail: I also said I like deep-sea fishing because I do. I love to go fishing, but concerts are really what I do the most of.
John: What really lights you up. Yeah, and you can have more than one. You don’t have to have just one. That’s so awesome to hear that you share that and then people are like, well, here’s mine. It’s like, wow, that’s awesome. It sounds like more people can be on the show, so that’s even better. That’s just cool to hear that you’re not hiding it, and no one cares, that has nothing to do with my business, whatever. It’s, no, no, share it. Why not? Because people like to hear that as well.
Gail: Well, we have to get educated all the time. When you go to a conference, everyone thinks, oh, you’re at a conference. It’s going to be so easy. You’ve got to be staying in a hotel room. All your meals are cooked. You’re looking at them. Are you kidding me? Breakfast at seven, and I might get home by 11, if I’m lucky, and then crash and have one of those showers we talked about at the beginning.
John: Yeah, yeah. Right.
Gail: Then pick yourself up and then we go from there, right.
John: Your brain is full. That’s for sure, yeah, and then meeting new people and all that stuff. That’s for sure. Do you have any words of encouragement to anyone listening that thinks, my hobby has nothing to do with my job, no one’s going to care about it?
Gail: I would disagree, 100%. I remember one time I was dancing around the office. We were having something going on. Everybody said, wow, I didn’t know you liked dancing so much. I thought, how could you have worked for me and not know that? So we started talking more about our hobbies, and everybody got to know each other a lot better. I think it really helped the organization.
John: Yeah, I agree, obviously, 100%. It’s cool to hear that it’s not just theory, make-believe. It’s legit real, and it worked. That’s cool. This has been a blast. It’s so much fun. We could talk music all day, for sure, but it’s only fair that, before I wrap it up, I turn the tables and allow you to question me. So, welcome to the first episode of The Gail Wilson Podcast. I don’t know. I tried to make it feel like it’s at a concert. Thanks so much for having me on, Gail. If you have any questions, or I’m happy to be your guest.
Gail: Well, John, welcome and thank you. You know what, I had to do a little prep work for this. I found out you have a punch line. I have a punch line. It’s really boring. Solutions that fit. Yours is much more fun than mine. It is. I really do, I love it because it’s true. Your punch line about getting serious results doesn’t have to be that serious. It’s true.
John: Yeah. Well, thank you.
Gail: Because I’ve met you at conferences, and it’s really important to have people get a little bit of lightness in their feeling because what we do is open heart surgery. It’s very serious work that we do in this field, and we have to really get to know all of the people’s ugly parts, right? Many people, they all say, everything’s great. Here’s my question for you. Everybody’s telling me how great everything is when, why are you calling me in then?
Gail: How about you, when you meet people, what do they say to you? Do you have to convince them that comedy is good? Or do they already know, you know what, our conference is a little dry, can you lighten it up a bit?
John: Oh, so when it comes to speaking at conferences, yeah. Sometimes people are nervous because they hear the word funny. They think that it’s not going to have any value or have any substance to it. Because oftentimes, speakers, if they’re funny and engaging, there’s not a lot of substance to it. It’s like cotton candy, where it looks big and it’s going to fill you up. Then you eat it and then two minutes later, you’re hungry again. Or they have a lot of content, but they’re really boring, and you don’t end up listening to any of it because you’re falling asleep.
The greatest compliment I’ve gotten is that I’m really, really good at combining the two, which is, I think, the way it should be. If people aren’t listening, then they’re not learning. If they’re laughing, then I know that they’re listening because you’re not going to laugh at a joke if you didn’t hear it. So, bringing a little bit of humor, a little personality to it.
Not everybody’s on board right away because it’s definitely different. It’s different than what’s been done. The cool thing is, is that there are a lot of meeting professionals out there that are feeling the pressure to do something different. That’s when they turn to me and then they realize, oh, wait, it’s actually about 90% substance and the meat, and about 10% is the funny that’s just sprinkled throughout so then you feel better about it.
That’s definitely something that I’ve had to overcome at times in conversation is, that it’s not just funny. It’s not a clown show. It’s funny for a reason. It’s the same with work. People that are in an office, it doesn’t have to be all serious all the time. It can be funny. There can be stories. You can be dancing, like you said, and still get your work done. If anything, I think you get your work done better if you’re dancing.
Gail: Well, I’ve studied a little bit about how to relieve your stress. I do some meditation and different things that I do. One of the things is actually from a Taylor Swift song that you’re supposed to do. Shake it up.
John: Okay, okay. Right?
Gail: It really, it’s a stress reliever. I always say people need to go to a lot of concerts, and they’re not on drugs, like me.
John: Right, exactly. I’m the same. I’m the same.
Gail: Even though it really does shake off that stress.
John: That’s awesome. That’s so cool. Well, Gail, I really appreciate you being a part of What’s Your “And”? It’s been so fun talking concerts and getting to know you more. Thank you so much.
Gail: Oh, thank you, John, for having me on. It was lots of fun.
John Everybody listening, if you want to see some pictures of Gail at these concerts or maybe connect with her on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. Everything’s there. While you’re on the page, please click that big button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture, and don’t forget to get the 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.
Jason is an Accountant & Country Music Singer
Jason returns to the podcast from episode 113 to talk about his recent shows with his band, having clients hear his music on the radio, and how the pandemic has both affected his music and his workplace culture.
• Recent shows
• Writing songs
• Having songs on the radio
• A rising trend in focusing on hobbies and passions
• How the pandemic humanized co-workers
• How his passion for music has helped with interacting with people at work
Please take 2 minutes
to do John’s anonymous survey
about Corporate Culture!
Pictures of Jason Performing
(click to enlarge)
- Read Full TranscriptOpen or Close
Welcome to Episode 332 of What’s Your “And”? Follow-Up Friday edition. This is John Garrett, and each Friday, I follow up with a guest who had been on the show a few years ago to hear what’s new with their passions outside of work and also hear how this message might have impacted them since we last talked.
I’m so excited that my book is out. You can order it on Amazon, Indigo, barnesandnoble.com, a few other websites, so check out whatsyourand.com for all the details. Thank you so much to everyone who’s read it so far and been kind enough to leave those Amazon reviews. Thank you so, so much. It’s just really overwhelming seeing the positive feedback.
Please don’t forget to hit subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss any of the future episodes. I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week, and this Follow-Up Friday is no different with my guest and friend, Jason Hastie. He’s the founder of TenjaGo, a cloud-based accounting and bookkeeping firm in Calgary, and now he’s with me here today. Jason, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Jason: Yeah, thanks for having me. It’s great to be back.
John: Ditto, man. It’s so cool to hang out with you again and chat. It’s always a good time. I do have some rapid-fire questions that I probably should have asked you the first time or maybe any other time that we’ve hung out really but never did. Get to know Jason here, new level, just seven though. First one, Harry Potter or Game of Thrones.
Jason: Oh, boy. I’d say Harry Potter.
John: Okay. All right. How about a hamburger or a pizza?
Jason: Oh, these are tough. Seriously.
John: This is a tough one. Hamburger, okay. No, that’s solid, solid. How about a favorite adult beverage?
Jason: Wow. Boy, I’m trying to think. Oh, I know what, because Canadian beverage, Caesar.
John: Caesar, what is that?
Jason: It’s like a Bloody Mary except instead of tomato juice, it’s Clamato juice.
John: Oh, okay.
Jason: Actually, the last few times I’ve been down in the US, I’ve noticed that Clamato juice is actually gaining some popularity. You can find it in some grocery stores now. It was invented actually, the drink was invented right here in Calgary. It’s super, super popular Canadian drink.
John: Very cool. Awesome. All right, how about, cats or dogs?
Jason: That’s interesting because I’d probably say 50-50. I grew in up a farm. I would probably– it’s tough.
John: No, 50-50, I’ll take it, man. It’s all right. It’s a cat that acts like a dog. That would be the ultimate. Since my book is out, do you prefer real book, Kindle or audible?
Jason: Real book, for sure. I tried to do audiobooks, but my mind wanders too much.
John: Yeah, depending on if the author is actually reading it or reading it well or all that. That’s why mine will be out early part of next year and I’m having a coach and a producer because reading a book on that is different than just reading a book to yourself. It’s just all different game. Two more. How about a favorite movie of all time?
Jason: Good Will Hunting.
John: Oh, solid, solid answer. How you like them apples? Such a great movie.
Jason: Oh, so good. The scene in the park with Robin Williams and Matt Damon.
John: Right, where they’re by the pond.
Jason: Yeah. You being an entertainment-type person too, the way it was filmed all one scene…
Jason: It’s incredible acting and the profound things. When I went to visit the Sistine Chapel actually in real life, I thought of that movie.
John: Yeah, that’s cool, man. Wow, that’s awesome. That’s a great movie, really great movie. Last one, toilet paper roll, over or under?
Jason: Over, 100%, one of my pet peeves.
John: Really? Okay, okay.
Jason: If I’m at somebody else’s house and it’s under, I will actually flip it.
John: That’s so great. I love it. That’s so awesome. That’s so awesome. I also know that if I ever come visit you, I’m going to totally switch them all around. You’re going to lose your mind. You’re going to also kick me out right away. All right, man, last time, Episode 113, we talked, of course, country music. It’s cool because you’re on the radio and stuff and done cool stuff with CMT and performed all kinds of concerts as well. Are you still doing that and still recording?
Jason: We had one show in July, a show in September and a show just a couple weeks ago.
John: Oh, nice.
Jason: Yeah. It’s been super cool actually. Very different times, obviously, that we’re living in now.
John: Yeah, yeah.
Jason: The show that we did in July was at a big acreage, so everybody’s socially distanced. We were playing outside of a Quonset onto this acreage, and people were up on the hill and everything. It was super, super cool.
John: That’s really cool.
Jason: Yeah, loved it. So, try to keep the music stuff going, but my accounting side is getting so busy. The only unfortunate thing with that is that you really have to have that creative mindset. You have to sit down. You have to — for me, anyways, I have to feel relaxed, and that’s when the creativity really comes for writing stuff like that. With the accounting stuff, we’re cloud-based so, as of late, things have been going crazy just because of the virtual world. I haven’t had as much of an opportunity to do the music stuff, as far as writing, but really do need to get back in the studio and do some more of that.
John: Yeah. No, that’s cool. So, the writing, because it’s similar for comedy, I guess, do you wait till the Muse strikes you? Or is it something where you’re like, okay, I need to write a song? Or is it, you just have an idea — like, for jokes, I would have, you know what, that’s really funny. Then I have an Evernote of where a guy runs a stop sign, and then I’ll write a joke about it sometime later or whatever, that sort of thing. Is that similar to you?
Jason: Yeah. I’m sure you’ve heard before when people get up in the middle of the night and then have this great song lyric or whatever and write it down or record it in their phone. I definitely do that, for sure. That is usually the kickoff to what a song is. Might not be the middle of the night, might be — but as long, if I’m feeling calm and I have time to really think, it may not be necessarily that I’m thinking of music or song lyrics, but that’s the time that something will pop into my head. Obviously, when you’re time-stressed and doing a bunch of stuff, you may not necessarily be as open to that. That’s definitely how I work, for sure.
John: Yeah, that makes sense because you’re free, your mind is free from thinking about other things then. It is amazing how our brain gets burdened with the menial tasks and so those higher level creative type of things, they don’t come naturally right away. That’s cool to hear, man. Music, that’s even harder than jokes because I just have to write the words, and they don’t even have to rhyme. It doesn’t matter. You have to make them rhyme and then you have to put music to it. It’s like, good God, I would never be able to do that. Forget it. That’s why all my music parodies are parodies, because the music’s already done. I just have to put the words.
Good for you, man. It’s just cool, and the music’s so great. I’m not a huge country music fan, but you guys are — it’s catchy. It’s fun. It’s upbeat. It’s just really cool, and the videos you guys have shot are really cool, too. It’s really cool to just have you be a part of this as well and then know that — because I remember last time when we talked, clients would hear you on the radio and be like, “Yo, that’s my accountant.”
Jason: Yeah, that’s one of the coolest things, honestly. I mean, obviously, cool to get recognized and stuff when you’re out and about and stuff like that. It is cool when your clients are like, “Jason Hastie is your accountant too?” Everybody’s like, “He’s a country singer, right?”
John: Yes. Right? No one says, “Oh, he’s really amazing at cash flow statements.”
Jason: Right. Oh, he saved me $300 in taxes last year, woohoo.
John: Right? Which you do anyway. Of course, you’re going to do that because you’re good at what you do. It’s that next level stuff type of thing. It’s cool to hear that you guys are still doing concerts as well, which is awesome because live is totally different than the virtual. To be able to give the audience that is fun, but also for yourself, as well.
Jason: That’s where, honestly, I throw it out to my fans because it’s really our fans that are planning events for us and booking things for us. One of our fans has become a really good friend of ours. I’m like, you book us more shows than our manager does.
Jason: That’s the power of having great fans.
John: That is super cool. The internet, as well, where you’re accessible, and they can help you like that. We want to see you. We put this together, just show up and play, awesome, type of thing. That’s cool. That’s super cool. Do you feel like people, in general, in the professional world are sharing these outside-of-work hobbies and passions more now than when we first chatted a couple years ago? Or is it still, I’ve got some work to do, overall?
Jason: Well, one thing that I found early on in the latter part of spring, early summer, was, when the whole pandemic thing hit, I just felt like — my wife and I both said it. We felt a lot more calm, and we were able to focus on things. It really shifted the way that we thought of things. I think that part was a big turning point, but in a lot of ways, a lot has come back to that busyness again.
John: Right. Yeah.
Jason: I feel like it is trending, and we will continue to see that people are doing a little bit more and spending a little bit more time, focusing on the real stuff rather than just work.
John: I think the big thing with the pandemic is we’ve all been in each other’s homes now. These Zoom calls with these teams that we’ve seen what you look like at 8 am and haven’t showered, and your dog’s barking at the delivery person, and your kids —
Jason: You don’t have pants on.
John: Yeah, no pants on, totally. We’ve seen the art on your walls. We’ve seen what your home is like. The one positive from this is, I think, it just completely ripped the Ban-Aid off of being human and realizing that your people are also human and just really breaking down that barrier. Because when we would go to an office, when we would go to a networking event or go to a conference, we would show up as this super polished individual. Now, not always the case, and that’s okay. It’s super okay.
Jason: Yeah. Well, even as a comedian, I’m sure you can appreciate this, when Saturday Night Live, did you watch any of the episodes —
John: Oh, yeah, when they were doing the home — yeah.
Jason: It was so raw and revealing and kind of crazy, right?
John: Yeah, like they didn’t really practice, and you’re not even in the same state. Some of them live in Connecticut. Some live in New York City. Some are in Jersey. Yet we’re doing a scene together. It’s just hilarious. Yeah, and it just shows just the humanness to a lot of what we do. The work gets done. I think just being a little more gracious and the work will get done.
Jason: Totally. I think that’s the biggest part of it, honestly, yeah. That’s how I always was when I was traveling and when we were going on a vacation. Because you plan a vacation and you’re like, it could be three days or whatever, and you can step away from your office for those three days. When you’re at home and stuff, it tends to not be as easy to do, but you know that you actually can do it because when you go away, it’s possible, right?
John: That’s such a great point, such a great point. That’s exactly it. What’s it, you’re at vacation at home, just tell yourself that, type of thing. You don’t have to be checking emails or calling in or whatever, all the time.
John: The work gets done, and trust your people, that sort of a thing, too. Do you have any words of encouragement to anyone listening that — because you’re a perfect example of somebody that has an outside-of-work passion that seemingly would have nothing to do with accounting and bookkeeping, but it does in a way. Do you have any encouragement to people listening that have a hobby or passion that they feel like either no one’s going to care or it has nothing to do with my work?
Jason: Yeah. For yourself, I think everybody needs to fuel their fire, right? It adds to their own persona and your own happiness. I definitely, I can truthfully say that we’re not doing music as much as I used to, doing more accounting, and I definitely, I need that music aspect. So, you’ve got to keep it going, for sure, and really honing in on your passion. For me, in a way, I feel like it’s always been easy because music has been my passion, so I can identify it very easily. Whereas, somebody like my wife, she’s not a music-type person. Exercise is her passion. For her, honing in on that, doing different things — we haven’t gotten it yet. It hasn’t arrived, but we just bought a Peloton.
John: Oh, okay. Yeah, yeah.
Jason: She is so super pumped about the Peloton classes. Because it’s not just about the bike itself, right?
John: No, no, it’s…
Jason: Attending the classes.
John: … A community of sorts, I think, yeah.
Jason: Yeah. She sometimes looked at me. She’s like, “Oh, you’ve got your passions. You’ve got this.” I was like, “Well, no. In a way that fuels you just as much, it’s exercise.”
John: Even simple things can be those passions, and you don’t have to do them every week. It could be, twice a year, I do a walk for charity. Awesome. That’s your thing. Just intentionally setting time aside for that. I love that you said that, fuel your fire. I’m going to go out on a limb here. I’m going to say, very few times have you said, “I really, really need the accounting side. I really, really need to do that more.” You just said, “I really, really need the music.” Because the accounting is going to happen. It’s going to happen.
Jason: Yeah, but the part of the accounting that fuels my fire is chatting with people, helping out small businesses, helping people getting to know their business, that part of stuff. So, even within the accounting stuff, even if it is your job, per se, finding little things like that.
Jason: And just having the music passion, that’s what really taught me about interacting with and identifying with people. Because, in a sense, I’m extroverted, obviously, to a degree, but I am also an introvert as well.
John: I’m the same. Onstage, okay, but offstage, I prefer groups of four or less. I don’t want to be the center of attention. I’m not onstage right now. You be the funny one, go nuts.
Jason: That’s so true, and I think a lot of people don’t understand that or just don’t know that about performers or people that are in front of others, that you do have that. You can have that aspect of it.
John: Yeah, totally, because I think a lot of performers, or me, anyway, and a lot of comedians that I talked to, the audience becomes almost one, as opposed to 400. It’s 400 individuals, but it’s also one audience, and it’s exhausting giving a little piece of meat to 400 individual people. So, when you’re done, it’s like, man, I am really spent, and that one-on-one is comfortable, type of thing, because it’s one-on-one audience.
Jason: Exactly. Yeah, energy, in a sense, right?
John: Yeah, exactly, exactly. But it is, it’s what lights you up. It’s fuel that fire. I love that. That’s such a great analogy for it. So, it’s only fair, before we wrap this up, Jason, since I so rudely peppered you with questions at the beginning, how very American of me to fire questions at a Canadian like that, and I didn’t even apologize. I’m going to turn the tables. Welcome to the Jason Hastie podcast, Episode One. Thank you for having me on as your guest. You really have no choice. I did it myself. So, any rapid-fire or any questions you have for me, I’m all yours, man.
Jason: Well, being that you’re American, I’m Canadian, Canada or US?
John: Oh, that’s a trick. That’s a trick.
Jason: Yeah, it’s loaded.
John: That is loaded because I’m going to piss off half of the people.
John: I’m going to pick America because Canadians are so nice. They’ll just hug me. So, I will pick the US but in a close race.
Jason: You’re already forgiven.
John: Exactly, and I’m sorry.
Jason: Yeah, we’re probably sorry that you didn’t pick us.
John: We’re actually sorry that Jason asked you that question. You shouldn’t have.
Jason: Exactly. Now they’re turning on me.
John: Right. No, no, no, do not turn on Jason. He’s a great guy.
Jason: All right, mountains or water.
John: Oh, that’s a great one, and that’s sometimes one that I ask people. That is hard. Maybe because I’m spoiled since I live in Denver, which is the Calgary of the US, if we’re going to be honest, so the mountains are here. I get them all the time. I’m going to say ocean, beach just because I have to get on an airplane to go there. It’s like a treat.
Jason: That’s why you’ve got to hang out in Vancouver. They’ve got both.
John: That’s true. The mountains go right into the lakes there. Yeah, that’s true.
Jason: Well, my rapid-fires aren’t as good as yours. Being that we’re coming up on winter, too hot or too cold.
John: Oh, too hot is the worst. I would always have too cold. Too hot, you can’t take off your skin. There’s only so many layers you can take off before you’re like, oh. Just waiting for the subway in New York City where there’s no anything, and the humidity is at, I don’t know, 400%. It’s super-hot August, July, and just the sweat, just you could feel it run down your chest. There’s nothing you can do. You’ve just got to take it. It’s gross. Yeah, too cold is always better. You could put on more layers, those heat packs, always that. Maybe I should have picked Canada in the beginning. Maybe that’s actually —
Jason: You’ve got Denver though. That’s close.
John: That’s true. That’s true. That’s true. It’s close.
Jason: I know my wife’s Australian, but she would prefer cold versus hot.
John: Okay. Yeah, I’ve always been that way, always been that way.
Jason: I had another — Oh, I know what it was, city or country.
John: Oh, yeah. I grew up very small town. My dad was in the military. We moved a lot, but we were always probably 30 minutes outside of a big city, but it was always a small town, like 3,000 people. I grew up very small town but going to the city. Now, since I’ve become an adult, I’m pretty sure I’ve lived downtown of every city I’ve worked in, where I’ve lived. I lived in downtown Milwaukee. I lived downtown Indianapolis. I lived in New York City. Now I live a mile from downtown in Denver. We’re in the city. So, I guess, now, I’m going to say city, but, man, those small towns, there’s something to be said. I definitely appreciate that, for sure.
John: I don’t forget where I came from, I guess. If there’s a word, I would say that. Just selfishly, I don’t feel like driving 30 minutes. I want to drive five, so we live downtown.
Jason: Yeah. We live three minutes from downtown Calgary, but I grew up on a farm near a small town.
John: Exactly. No, we’re very similar, except you actually grew up on a farm and woke up early and did work.
Jason: I didn’t live in New York.
John: Well, that too, but whatever. It’s all good. We’re even. We’re even.
Jason: We’re even.
John: This has been awesome, Jason, having you be a part of this again. Thank you so much for taking time to be on What’s Your “And”? It’s always cool to catch up.
Jason: So awesome to chat with you, can’t wait till the next time.
John: Everyone listening, if you want to see some pictures of Jason onstage or connect with him on social media, definitely check out the music, Jason Hastie and the Alibi. You can 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, and buy the book. I promise it’s good.
Thanks again for subscribing on iTunes or whatever app you use and for sharing this podcast with your friends so they get the message that we’re all trying to spread that who you are is so much more than what you do.
Greg is a Marketer & Musician
Greg Tirico talks about his passion for music and playing drums! He also talks about how music is an easy topic to get clients and colleagues to open up about themselves and encourage them to share more!
• Getting into music
• Why he decided to pick up drums
• How a former drum student became a client
• Why he felt more hesitant to open up earlier in his career
• Music as a unifying force
• How music helps with relationships at work
Please take 2 minutes
to do John’s anonymous survey
about Corporate Culture!
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- Read Full TranscriptOpen or Close
Welcome to Episode 331 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 in 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.
I’m so excited to let everyone know that my book is published. You can check out everything at whatsyourand.com. All the details are there for links to Amazon, Indigo, Book Depository, barnesandnoble.com, few other websites. I can’t say how much it means that everyone’s getting the book and leaving such nice reviews on those sites and then sharing how their cultures are changing 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, Greg Tirico. He’s the owner of Working Web Media outside of Atlanta, and now he’s with me here today. Greg, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Greg: Thanks for having me, John.
John: This is going to be awesome, man. My 17 rapid-fire questions to run you through. I hope you’re buckled in.
Greg: I’m ready.
John: Ready to roll. All right, here we go. I’ll start you out with a pretty easy one, chocolate or vanilla.
John: Vanilla. Okay.
Greg: Next question.
John: All right, how about puzzles, Sudoku or crossword.
John: Sudoku. Nice. All right. How about a favorite color?
Greg: Blue. I don’t know why that happened. It just did. Blue.
John: Yeah. No, it’s mine too. How about a least favorite color?
Greg: Probably a color that I don’t know what it is, like a fuchsia. I don’t know what that is.
John: Or how to spell it. It’s like, what? This is weird. It’s one of those colors that comes up when you’re planning a wedding and then that’s it. How about, prefer more hot or cold?
Greg: Oh, man. I’m actually, with my kids. I’m a big fan of saying, you can always put more clothes on, but you can’t take all your clothes off.
John: Right. That’s a good point. That’s an excellent point. Cold it is, man. How about a favorite actor or actress?
Greg: Oh, man, that’s an unfair question.
John: You can rattle off more than one. I’ll give you more than one.
Greg: I’m actually a huge fan of science fiction. If I had to pick one, and maybe the audience, it’ll be a little bit of a throwback for them, Admiral Adama from the reboot of Battlestar Galactica. I think he did a fantastic job.
John: Nice. Battlestar Galactica, that was a cartoon when I was a kid. I had the sheets, the bedsheets. That was classic, man.
Greg: Do you know that they rebooted it?
John: Yeah, I did see that. Yeah, yeah. I did see the reboot, but I was saying, even the original, yeah, that’s super cool. Would you say you’re more of an early bird or a night owl?
Greg: Early bird.
John: Early bird.
Greg: Yeah. If I don’t get my work done by 11:30 in the morning, there’s a high likelihood it’s not going to happen.
John: Right. The fact you’re up early enough to get work done, all of your work done by noon is fantastic. Yeah, I tend to be more focused in the morning myself, as well. Okay, so, sci-fi guy, Star Wars or Star Trek?
Greg: The only most difficult question in the world, beyond that would be, to quote Weird Al, “Who do I like better, Shatner or Picard?” I’m going to go Star Wars.
John: Star Wars. Okay, all right, all right. Is your computer more of a PC or a Mac?
John: Mac. Yeah, the marketing guy. You’re cool like that.
Greg: It has everything to do with the fact that I actually used to build my own PCs. I’m a huge geek. I was big into the Windows ecosystem. I had Linux boxes.
John: Oh, wow.
Greg: Then I had kids. I don’t have time for this anymore. I just need something that I hit the button, it turns on, and we’re good, so I bought a Mac.
John: No, I hear you, man. I hear you. How about a favorite ice cream flavor?
John: Oh, okay. How about a favorite adult beverage?
Greg: Oh, man. Okay, so right now, because I’m outside of Atlanta, I have access to one of the highest rated craft beers in the world. It’s only distributed out of Athens, Georgia, into the Atlanta market, and it doesn’t make it much further. It’s a beer from a company called Creature Comforts. Shout-out to Creature Comforts. The beer’s called Tropicalia. The Marvel movies, specifically the most recent Avengers movie, they’re filmed here in Atlanta, right?
Greg: The staff associated with the movie, they’ve got some free time on their hands.They head into Athens, Georgia where the University of Georgia is. They hang out. They find this amazing brewery called Creature Comforts. When Thor was fat and grumpy and drinking a lot of beer, he was drinking Creature Comforts’ Tropicalia and Creature Comforts’ Athena.
John: That’s awesome.
Greg: My brother-in-law, Jim, went to UGA. He’s a huge UGA fan today, college football, obviously, and one of his fraternity brothers works as the Head of Community at Creature Comforts. I was like, Jim, ask him if they paid for that. It turns out they didn’t pay for it. The staff on the Marvel’s Avengers movie loved their beer so much, they just put it in there. Because what — I got to thinking about it — what good would it be for Creature Comforts, who can’t even distribute outside of Atlanta, to spend millions of dollars on a spot in a movie that gets distributed worldwide? There’s no point.
John: It’s almost perfect because then everyone else thinks that it’s a make-believe beer. It’s not even a real beer. Where do you get this? So I’m guessing it’s vanilla-flavored beer?
Greg: Tricked you, ba-boom.
John: No, no, I’m kidding.
Greg: It’s a pretty powerful IPA. If that’s your thing, you’ll love it. If it’s not your thing, you’ll hate it.
John: That’s awesome, man. That’s very cool. All right, so marketing side, print or digital.
John: Digital, okay. Oceans or mountains.
Greg: Oceans, specifically South Carolina.
John: Okay, all right.
Greg: The Low Country of the United States.
John: No, no, but the beaches there, yeah, yeah. How about, what’s a typical breakfast?
Greg: I don’t eat breakfast.
John: Okay, so, nothing. There you go. That answers it. I cook for my kids. They’ll ask me to make pancakes or omelets or something like that. I’m happy to oblige, but I don’t eat breakfast.
John: There you go. All right. How about a favorite number?
John: Is there a reason?
Greg: Well, when I was a kid, I decided it was a good number, not knowing that that was the most common lucky number, and then also Sonic Youth.
John: Okay. Oh, there you go. All right. Very cool. Two more. Since my book’s out, Kindle or real books?
Greg: Yeah, but only because I’m an avid reader, and I also am trying to do this whole run a business thing. The idea that I would go to the library and check out a book, it’s just, a lot of time. Instead, I use the library’s Kindle borrowing.
John: Yeah. No, that’s awesome. The favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.
Greg: Oh, man. That’s a hard question because I have them, but I don’t own them, and that would be my family. Right?
John: Sure. Sure.
Greg: I don’t mean that to be a cop-out answer, so we’ll go materialistic because I think that’s where you’re headed. The favorite thing I own is one of the, and I want to clarify for the audience, cheaper Teslas. I have an electric car, and it is one of the favorite material things I own.
John: Yeah, because it can do everything.
Greg: Yeah, it takes me to the movie theater because I’m doing that a lot now.
John: Right. Yeah, but it’s cool. It’s an experience, and it’s something you worked hard for. There you go, man. That’s cool.
Greg: I’ve never been a car guy. I worked in the automotive industry for 13 years, not a car guy. I’ve mostly had a small series of Japanese sedans, buy them at three-year, 30,000 miles, sell them at 200,000 miles, so I drive them forever. I’m just not a car guy, and for not a car guy, I have enjoyed that car a lot.
John: Yeah, it’s almost that sci-fi side of you, you know?
Greg: Yeah, definitely.
John: That’s cool, man. That’s cool. Let’s talk music. Is that something that you’ve been into since you were a kid? How did that start?
Greg: Yeah, it started — I remember this specifically. This is probably more interesting to me than it is to your audience. How did I start? What is interesting in the story is how, to me, these really small moments in time can alter the direction of your life, right? So, in third grade, there was a music program at my elementary school. I grew up on Long Island. There’s a music program in the elementary school, third grade. We all have to stand in line and pick an instrument. My dad plays the guitar, so I want to play the guitar. My buddy, Ritchie, standing there, he’s like, no, no, no, man. You should play the drums like me. What do I know? I’m in the third grade. I’m easily influenced by friends. I signed up for the drums, and I’ve been playing ever since.
John: That’s incredible, man. That’s super cool. It was just like music through elementary school. So you were you in high school band and…
Greg: I was, absolutely. So, marching band in high school, symphony. Actually, one of my private teachers in high school was, for a time, the head timpanist with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, so I got really into it. I was probably pretty decent. Although, my ego won’t allow me to go much further than that. Right?
John: No, I’m sure you were great, man, and especially relative to me. I mean, you’re killing it.
Greg: Sure. I loved it, and I think that’s why I stuck with it for so long.
John: That’s what’s most important too, is it’s what you enjoy. That’s cool. I was trombone. I was in marching band in college even, so I went next level because it was like, one day I’m going to go pro. It’s like, no, no one’s going pro from college. That’s stupid. I think that’s really neat that it’s just always been a part of it, and it’s mostly just percussion instruments of all kinds?
Greg: Yeah. Drum set is what you naturally gravitate towards.
John: Oh, yeah, because that’s what’s on the bands.
Greg: Behind me in my home office here, I have a collection of hand drums. I’ve got some congas and some bongos and then a couple of African hand drums primarily. They’re called a doumbek and a djembe. They have a couple of gourds as well. I wouldn’t call myself a collector now. I do have the drum set set up in another room in the house. My son has shown interest in playing the drum set, so I’m really careful there. I don’t want to push him into it. He’s in fifth grade. He’s got plenty of time to figure it out, whether or not he even wants to be a musician. I don’t know. Maybe he can play basketball. After all, I am like five, seven-and-a-half on a good day. He can be really tall.
Greg: I’m careful not to push that on him. My daughter does play. She’s in the eighth grade. She plays the clarinet. She seems to really enjoy it. Maybe we’re a musical family, and I just didn’t know it. For me, collecting the hand drums because they’re a little more accessible. I can pick them up in between phone calls or something like that. It’s a great way to just decompress for a couple of minutes during the day. That’s why they’re in my home office.
John: No, that’s a great idea, actually, and a great point of, it’s something that brings you joy, that grounds you, it takes you back to almost childhood sometimes, I guess, but it’s a quick little thing. It’s just like, hey, I’ve got five minutes, why not? I was going to say just banging on the drums, but I know it’s way more sophisticated than that.
Greg: You know, it doesn’t have to be.
John: I guess that’s true. I guess that’s true. It’s like, well, whatever.
Greg: With the drum set, a lot of kids that come over, they want to play the drum set. I’m fine with that. Here’s some stick, go for it. When parents see their kids, they go, no, little Johnny, be careful. I look at them, and I’m like, it’s a drum set. Let him pound the crud out of it. It’s going to be fine.
John: You’re not going to break it. You’re fine, trust me.
Greg: Kids love to get that kind of energy out, just bang the heck out of them. It’s totally fine.
John: Like Animal in The Muppets.
Greg: There you go, and it brings them a little bit of joy. I, actually, I like seeing it as well. There’s actually, when I was — let’s see, about 12 years ago or so, I heard a drum set in my neighborhood one weekend. I was at the neighborhood pool. I heard this drum set. I was like, that’s a drum set. It turns out, I’m sitting next to a family whose son was the drummer. They’re like, “Oh, that’s our son.” Oh, I play drums. We get to know each other. It’s pretty small neighborhood. There are only about 120 homes, which is small by Atlanta’s standard.
John: Yeah. No, exactly.
Greg: It turns out that this kid needed a drum teacher, and I was willing. I basically took money from his parent and then bought him a bunch of stuff. I’d show up with new sticks. Because I didn’t want to profit off my neighbors and I was having a lot of fun with it. Life moves on and he gets into high school. He loses interest, which is perfectly acceptable, goes on into the Marine Reserves and college and all that stuff, calls me a little less than a year ago. He’s like, “Hey, man, I know you run a marketing agency. I need a little bit of help. I’m starting this company, and you’re my man.”
John: Oh, wow.
Greg: It came full circle. Here is this young adult now, standing in front of me. Our connection is music and the time we spent together playing the drums, so the relationship is easy. There’s no friction. It’s really hard to start a company, so you can imagine his anxiety level can be a little high. Sometimes it’s not, but we have this this shared moment, and it’s all about music.
John: That’s super cool. Is the music something you share with coworkers and clients as well, through your career?
Greg: I find more recently than not.
John: Oh, okay.
Greg: I started my career in Corporate America, a 68,000-person company, great cubicle walls, manufacturing and distribution, so, super exciting. Actually, the gray cubicle walls, they were the most exciting part of my day. I got fulfillment out of the job, all kidding aside. It was my entrance into the marketing world, but I was really hesitant to talk about myself. You know all the reasons why. It’s in your book. You’ve talked about it with previous guests. You’re afraid that you’re going to be judged. You’re afraid you’re going to be maybe cast out because you have a weird hobby or whatever it is. There’s a reason that’s stopping you from sharing.
I find more recently, though, because we’re doing a lot of Zoom meetings, for obvious reasons, not to date this podcast unnecessarily, but people know where we are in the world right now. When I turn on the Zoom, you see the drums behind me, and the conversation naturally goes there. What I find is most interesting with music is that it is is very typically, and this isn’t a surprise to the listeners, it’s very typically a reflection of that moment in time.
You can go back to the late ‘60s, and we had a lot of strife and struggle in this country from things that are very similar, unfortunately, to today because we haven’t learned anything, from race relations to world conflicts, to military conflicts, and the music of the time reflected the people, reflected their desire to break from that, their desire to change the environment they we’re in. It’s my hope that music can again be a bit of a unifying force for us because our anxiety levels are super high. We still have trouble with race relations. The world is falling apart, in case you haven’t looked around. I don’t mean to be too doom and gloom, I’m a very optimistic person, but my hope is that music can be a unifying force again, as it always has been.
John: It’s something that, I think, a lot of people can relate to because at the very least, when you’re getting your car, there’s the radio. Everyone’s heard music. Everyone listens to music. I’m not sure if I’ve ever met someone that openly doesn’t like any music, like none. Somebody likes something so then there’s that conversation starter there. Do you find that the relationships that you have that bring music into it are different than the ones earlier in your career where it was just work-related conversations?
Greg: They’re easier. You’re not shocked by that. You’ve done the research.
John: Yeah, but it’s cool to hear that I’m not crazy.
Greg: No, you’re not, no. They’re easier. They’re more natural. For a long time, I was selling software. What that taught me, it taught me a great many things, but one of the things I took away from it is that people buy from people. Right?
Greg: It’s great that we had a fantastic solution we could bring to the market, and people were receptive to taking meetings. All of that stuff was laid out for us because of the great work that the company had already done. At the end of the day, people buy from people, and getting to connect with them on a personal level was the right thing to do. It made it easier. That’s why the idea that someday we will all return to our restaurant in the evening for business dinners, as painful as some of them can be, they’re breaking bread together, getting to know each other. If you can find some kind of commonality when you’re in a roomful of people that you don’t really know what to talk about, if you assume that they’re all family people, you say, “Oh, do you have any kids? How long have you been married?” That kind of conversation will take you far, but only so far, and then I very commonly turn to music. Hey, what’s the most recent band you listened to? In the car on the way here, driving to the restaurant, what was on the radio? It’s a great way to take the conversation even away from music. You’ll find that it breaks up barriers, and it just makes things easier.
John: Yeah. That’s such a great point. Something I just thought of actually, while you were saying that is, not everybody has a family or not everyone is married. Sometimes those can be questions that trigger people, where it’s like, maybe they want to have a family, but they don’t or whatever. Everyone has got a hobby or a passion outside of work, so that’s the safest question. People always think, well, family, that’s a safe question. Not always, actually, but hobby or passion, that’s actually the safe — and music. Do you just drive silently? I don’t even think if you could turn your radio off. I think it’s just on all the time. Maybe in the fancy Tesla’s, actually we have the band in the Tesla. That’s how that works. It’s like a hologram.
Greg: Because I’ve spent so much time performing and I’ve been in a number of bands, I have destroyed my hearing a little bit, so the better sound systems in the newer cars, believe it or not, is huge to me because I can hear again.
John: Yeah, yeah. I didn’t even know, here in Denver, there’s a guy that does a lot of installing home theaters and things. He was explaining to me that there’s HD sound.
John: I thought he was pulling my leg and then, no, no, it’s for real. There is definitely a difference. It’s cool to hear that you’ve experienced that, and you witnessed that. That’s pretty awesome. How much is it on the organization to create that space for people to share those hobbies and passions? Or how much is it on the individual to just be like, well, here’s my little circle at work, and I’m going to share within that and get it started that way?
Greg: You kind of nailed it there because there are two components to the organization. You’ve got your little bubble. You’ve got your work friends. One of the most common questions inside of organizational cultural questionnaires and surveys, pulse surveys and things that HR teams tend to do is, do you feel you have a best friend at work? Super common question. Because if you do, if you have a work best friend, you’re far more likely to stay. You’re more likely to be a happier employee. You have someone to go to lunch with. So, you’ve got this little pod that you build inside of an organization, and you really can make that pod anything. It can be a team of people that are not necessarily on the same structure on the org chart, but they get together or maybe they end up getting together outside of work. That’s a mini culture of sorts inside of an organization. They could be really powerful, but they can also be squelched pretty quickly because the culture of the organization is what, and I’m riffing on an individual that, in the moment, I’m not able to quote because I forget his name and I forget who said it, but he effectively said, “Culture is the oven in which you bake your strategy.”
If you think you have an amazing strategy, and you’re going to tackle the world, and you’re going to take over in a very positive way; you have to bake that in an oven, otherwise known as your corporate culture. It might fry that strategy. It might bake it perfectly. I’ve always found that analogy to be pretty good. So, it is incumbent upon the organization to create an environment in which people feel comfortable sharing. Today, we know that is primarily DEI initiatives. Diversity, equity, inclusion are the modern day equivalent of what we used to call something else. It’s not just the DEI. I mean, that’s important because we have to recognize that there needs to be more diversity in organizations. I’m a big fan of and supporter of that. At the same time, culture isn’t just DEI. Culture comes with the staff. It starts with your leaders. I’ve often said, if the culture in an organization isn’t great, well, you should probably look to the top. No offense, those are trying really hard, but, yeah, man, it starts at the top and it rolls downhill. We know what rolls downhill, both positive and negative. Right?
John: That’s an excellent point that it is bigger than DEI. Especially something like what I do, it’s almost like they go hand in hand. They’re together but in separate lanes but working towards the same goal.
Greg: DEI is.
John: Oh, totally, yeah. It’s just don’t put all your eggs in that one basket and think you’re doing it. It’s like trying to put up a tent with only one pole. No, no, we need all these other poles too, to keep it up.
Greg: Also, don’t start a DEI committee, wash your hands, and call it a day. Well, we started the committee. We’re good.
John: Right. Yeah, exactly, exactly. That’s an excellent point. I love that oven analogy as well. Do you have any words of encouragement for anybody listening that thinks, well, maybe my hobby or passion has nothing to do with my job, or no one’s going to care?
Greg: No one’s going to care, right. I do, and I’ll start with a story, a very good friend of mine, an individual that I used to work with. He’s now retired, so we worked together a long time ago. We’re still in contact today. He loves model railroading, loves it.
Greg: I still have my H gauge model railroad stuff in a box in my basement. I used to be into it when I was a kid. He’s not a kid. He’s in his 60s. He loves model railroading. Years ago, we’re going back to a time when, ‘03, ‘04, Blogger was a thing but social media really wasn’t a thing yet. I said to him, “You really love this.” I’d gotten to know him at work and found out that he was into model railroading, and I was a little bit. I said, “You should start a blog. You should write about this.” He said to me at the time, “I don’t think anybody cares.” It’s model railroading. Where am I going to find a community of people?
John: There’s like whole festivals of this.
Greg: Yes. He actually published his most recent blog post to his model railroading blog about a month ago. He’s still doing it. Every time we get together and talk, he reminds me about how I had to push him a little bit to go out his comfort zone and talk about his hobby. As a result, he’s a better person for it, certainly. I didn’t do it. It was all him, but that little nudge about model railroading, and today, he’s got this blog he’s been publishing to, for 15 years. His entire basement, multiple rooms, he’s got trains running all over the place. Who would have ever thought?
It doesn’t matter what your hobby is. Mine is music, and that’s probably a little more accessible than some of the hobbies we have in the back of our minds that might be considered fringe or “weird”, but they trigger a side of our human nature that needs to connect with people. Going back to my comment from before, people buy from people. That’s not my phrase. That’s been a phrase that has been in sales forever.
I need to connect with you. I need to know something about you, John. We’ve only talked for a couple of minutes. I know you’re a college football fan, at least a Notre Dame fan, probably, doesn’t take a genius to guess that, your bookcase back there, I mean, I feel like I’m a little more connected to you than I would have been had you just called me and said, “We’re going to do this interview. Here are the questions. Please talk.”
John: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. It makes it come alive. It’s like three-dimensional. There’s color.
Greg: There’s that element, your hobby, whatever it is. I’m actually confused. I’m getting a little terse in my language to you because why would anyone hide that? I don’t understand. Don’t. No. Wear it on the outside and be proud of it. That’s how it is.
John: No, no, I agree with you too, provided its legal and not counter to whatever your work is, and then bringing it to work is — as long as it’s not distracting to other people’s ability to do their job. I love to play the electric guitar. You come in and jam at level 10. No, you cannot do that. You can talk about it. There’s nothing wrong with that, or model trains. That’s cool. We’re not in sixth grade anymore, where everyone’s going to pick on you and make fun of you. It’s the opposite now. People think that’s cool, and that’s something you remember about that coworker of yours. Think of all the coworkers that you don’t remember right now. Well, you can’t even think of them because you don’t remember them, which is sad, because they didn’t have that model railroading. Or maybe they did, but they didn’t share it, and so, now, you don’t have the opportunity to remember them, 15 years later. The model railroad guy is top of brain, top in your mind right there.
Greg: It leads to depth of personality when you learn about people. You learn about their depth, and you connect with them more.
John: That’s awesome, man. That’s so cool. This has been really great, Greg. Before I close it up, I feel like it’s only fair that we turn the tables since I rudely questioned you at the beginning of the podcast that this is the first episode of The Greg Tirico Show. Thank you so much for having me on. I appreciate you asking me to be a part of it.
Greg: No problem. I’m glad you could join me, on your time too, which is amazing.
John: Exactly. So, whatever questions you have for me, I’m all yours.
Greg: I’m a big fan of stand-up comedy. I think you know a little something about that. Actually, recently, Kyle Dunnigan has hit my radar more and more. I think he’s one of the most underrated comics out there today that used to make some great work. He’s funny as heck, right? I’d love to know somebody that you’ve picked up on recently that you feel might be a little underrated right now and deserves the spotlight.
John: Yeah, well, I don’t know if it’s recently, but just friends of mine that — I mean, I even put in the back of the book in the thank-yous, it’s a shame that there are comedians I’ve worked with that we’ve all heard of, and then the ones that you’ve never heard of that are just as funny and maybe laughed just as hard, like friends of mine. Keith Albertstadt’s hilarious. Dan Davidson’s so funny. Those are guys that were friends of mine that I’m sure a lot of people have never heard of, unfortunately, and really, really funny. Kristin Key’s super funny. She had a little bit of Last Comic Standing exposure, though. She’s really funny, too. Yeah, it is a shame because there are so many funny people out there.
Tyler Crowell is a guy out of Milwaukee that he doesn’t really do a lot anymore but, man, he was so, so funny. He and I, we used to drive to Madison, Wisconsin all the time, doing the open mics, back 20 years ago. He was absolutely hilarious. He had this ventriloquism bit where he would hold up the ventriloquism dummy. He’s like, yeah, I’m really new to ventriloquism, but I just heard, all you have to do is just not move your mouth. Then he would just open his mouth as wide as possible. He’s like, “Well, I wouldn’t tell your wife.” It was just crazy and hilarious because it was just the weirdest stuff. He was so funny.
Greg: All of those people you just named have just picked up another fan. Thank you. I actually am going to take that list and go look them up.
John: There’s just so many funny comedians out there. Unfortunately, there’s really not funny because there’s no barrier to entry. You just show up and say, “Well, I’m a comedian,” and then they let you in, but, yeah, so many really, really funny comedians. They’re just like, wow, that’s amazing. The stuff that they think of and how they deliver it, yeah, really funny.
Greg: That’s interesting. I’d love your perspective on this as well. I’d recently read or heard that some comics, not all of them, but some comics are having a really hard time right now because I don’t think we, as the outsiders, recognize how much they are practicing their craft every night in front of a microphone, and they can’t really do that right now, having a hard time developing new material.
John: Yeah, we would refer to it, like when I lived in New York, going to the clubs, it’s like going to the gym. You’re just putting in reps.
Greg: I can tell you go to the gym a lot.
John: Right. Totally. I could barely fit into this medium-sized t-shirt. It’s going to the gym. It’s putting in your reps. The more you say it — the only difference between you and me and me and, let’s say, Seinfeld is you’ve told a joke 10 times, I’ve told a joke 1,000 times, Seinfeld has told it 10,000 times. If he gets interrupted, it doesn’t matter because you just go right into it, or it sounds more natural. It’s more that where, when you’re newer, when I worked with Louie Anderson in some big casino shows, he was saying, “When you’re newer, you’re asking the audience to laugh. At the end, you’re kind of like, I think this is funny, yeah? Then when you’re more confident, and you’ve done it more and all that; you’re actually telling the audience, okay, this is where you laugh, and now, and then they laugh.
The thing that still blows my mind, even when I’m onstage is still, I’m talking to strangers, and I say words. When I stop saying the words, their immediate gut reaction is laughter, and they don’t know each other either. It’s just mind-blowing to me how laughter works and how comedy works. It’s probably one of those things, the more you think about it, the more it plays with your mind, so just don’t, but it’s such a surreal thing to be up there, say something — but also too, the more you do it, you start to understand, okay, here’s why this is funny. Or here’s why that works. Certain words are funnier than others. Certain numbers are funnier than others, certain syllables and the cadence and all that. There’s definitely a science to it.
Greg: Oh, yeah.
John: It’s similar to music really, when you think about it. There are certain chords and certain — I mean, you just look at those, it’s bands that I love, like the Blink-182s and the Green Days and stuff like that. It’s the same court. They’re not going off the reservation with anything. They’re coming right at you with the super easy because it’s easily digestible. It hit’s a place in your soul that you like. It’s not uncomfortable to listen to. It’s the same way.
Greg: Yeah, comedy brings people together, for sure.
Greg: We need more of that. I love it.
John: No, definitely. My comedy’s always without an agenda. I always looked at it as, you’re coming because something in your life, no matter who it is, there’s something in your life where you’re like, I wish it was better. When you’re in this comedy club, you forget about all that. We’re laughing. We’re having a good time. You’re laughing at me. Everything’s great. So, if I can be a small piece of that, to just give you some reprieve and give you some laughter, then that’s great.
For me, personally, I don’t like it when it turns into an agenda thing, but if it’s a well-written joke, then that’s great. I don’t care who it’s about or whatever. That’s the thing is, I think people are always, it’s a joke. It doesn’t mean anything. I have a bit about marching bands because I was in marching band in college, and it’s a joke about being in the marching band. I got an email once from somebody from Sirius that heard it on SiriusXM, went home, emailed me and said that the reason their Music program in their kid’s high school is being canceled is because of me. I’m like, okay, well, first of all —
Greg: Let’s unpack this.
John: Yeah, just because I do a joke about something doesn’t mean I’m anti that. I’m not anti-Crockpots or anti the McRib or anti whatever I have a joke about.
Greg: The Crockpots are asking for it. They’re so easy to make fun of.
John: No, totally. They’re so slow. It’s so slow. Why don’t we just cook over a campfire? That would be faster. Although, you know what’s hilarious? In Atlanta, every time I do a show in Atlanta, I used to have a bit about sweet tea, and every time in Atlanta, right when I would get into the pit and I would say sweet tea, someone would say, “Watch it.” It could be an 80-year-old woman. Watch it. They’re like they invented it or their mom invented it, and I’m coming at your family.
Greg: I’ll tell you what, I have various types of sweet teas that I prefer, based on the day of the week.
John: See, it’s a religion down there. Because I would have a joke, I would be like, because I was at a restaurant, I asked for water, and the waitress brought me sweet tea. It’s a default drink. Here’s your sweet tea. It’s like coming out of the faucets. Babies are being baptized in sweet tea. What the, this place is weird. Watch it. It’s like, what? Well, no, this has been so much fun, having you be a part of this. Thanks for being a part of What’s Your “And”?, Greg. This is awesome.
Greg: My pleasure, John.
John: Everyone listening, if you want to see some pictures of Greg in action or maybe connect with him on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. Everything’s there. Don’t forget to buy the book, and you could 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.
Gail is a CPA & Movie Buff & Writer
Gail Perry is a woman who can say she has done a lot of awesome things! She talks about how she transitioned from having a music major in college to picking up writing and journalism, to bookkeeping and running her own movie theater! She also talks about how these experiences helped her in her career as an accountant!
• Watching movies as a kid
• Becoming a ghost writer during her time in college
• Getting into bookkeeping & public accounting
• Running her own movie theater
• Why she felt reluctant to share about her hobbies at work
• Writing for the Dummies and Idiot’s guide franchises
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Welcome to Episode 285 of What’s Your “And”? This is John Garrett. 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 in another way, it’s encouraging people to find their “And” those things above and beyond your technical skills, the things that actually differentiates you when you’re at work.
I’m so excited to let everyone know that my book’s being published in just a few weeks. It’ll be available on Amazon and a few other websites. Check out whatsyourand.com for all the details. I can’t say how much it means that everyone’s listening to the show and changing the culture where they work because of it, and this book will really help to spread that message.
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. This week is no different with my guest, Gail Perry. She’s the editor-in-chief of CPA Practice Advisor Magazine and a CPA with her own tax practice who’s also written 34 books. If she had written mine, it’d be out by now, but now she’s with me here today. Gail, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Gail: Thanks, John. I really appreciate you having me on the show, and I’m looking forward to having a chat with you.
John: Absolutely. It was so fun meeting you in person at the ITA Conference a couple of years ago and glad that we were able to make this happen. You know the drill, 17 rapid fire questions. Get to know Gail in a new level. Here we go. Easy one at first, favorite color.
Gail: I think I would say yellow because it’s really happy.
John: Okay. All right. How about a least favorite color?
Gail: Maybe white because it’s pretty boring.
John: Okay. I see you. I see you. How about chocolate or vanilla?
Gail: I’m afraid it’s vanilla.
John: No, that’s good.
Gail: Not a fan of chocolate.
John: Okay, okay. How about pens or pencils?
Gail: Oh, my God. So, I can only write with a certain type of pen and a certain type of pencil. For pencil, it’s the Pentel 0.5 millimeter, the thinnest of the lead; and for pens, it’s the Pilot. It’s called the Better Ballpoint. It’s a fine tip, and you can’t get it in stores anymore, so I have to buy it by the case.
John: Oh, my goodness. That’s awesome. I love how particular you are. That’s fantastic. Now people know what to get you for Christmas.
John: So there you go, a case of pens. How about puzzles, Sudoku or crossword?
Gail: Oh, I love them both. Sudoku if I’m in a hurry. Crossword if I have some time to take.
John: Yeah, I could see where you’re the writer and the tax person. You’re a little bit both. Yeah. You should just both hands. I’ve got the right hand, Sudoku, left hand… How about more early bird or night owl?
Gail: Totally night owl. If I have to do something at 6 or 7 in the morning, I just stay up for it.
John: That’s awesome. So great. Okay, this one might be tricky. Star Wars or Star Trek.
John: Okay. All right. How about your computer, more PC or Mac? PC. Yeah, me too. How about your mouse, right click or left click?
Gail: Left click.
John: Okay. Making decisions, I like that. How about a favorite ice cream flavor?
Gail: Oh, well we did the chocolate-vanilla thing already. I don’t like things in my ice cream, so vanilla — yeah.
John: Oh, so just plain vanilla.
John: Okay. Yeah, we are the opposite. I want all of the calories. I want to chew it.
Gail: Load it up.
John: Which is weird. Yeah, yeah. How about what’s a typical breakfast?
Gail: V8 juice and —
Gail: A hard-boiled egg.
John: Oh, nice.
Gail: Yeah. Or a bowl of potato chips and a bottle of root beer.
John: Okay. Now we’re being honest. There we go. There we go. This will be fun, balance sheet or income statement.
Gail: Oh, income statement all the way. I’m a tax person, so you are what you spend. I got to see the income and expenses.
John: There you go. How about cats or dogs?
Gail: Dog. 100% dog. My dog can eat your cat.
John: All right. What kind of dog do you have?
Gail: She’s a golden retriever actually. She doesn’t eat any other animals, but she has a scary bark.
John: Right. Then she just rolls over and lets you pet her belly.
John: How about a favorite number?
John: Four. Is there a reason?
Gail: There is, yeah. It’s movie-related. The very first movie I ever went to with a boy, I saved the ticket stub. I don’t have it still, but for a long time, I saved the ticket stub. You know ticket stubs have six numbers on them that mean nothing. I averaged those numbers because that’s also the accountant in me.
Gail: The average came to four.
John: Wow. That’s truly amazing.
Gail: It’s the weirdest story ever.
John: No, no. There’s always a fun reason of why they’re favorite numbers. Some people, it’s like, “It’s my birthday.” I’m like, that might be the best reason ever I just heard. How about least favorite vegetable?
Gail: Well, I have legume allergies, so I actually can’t eat peas and lentils and chickpeas, all that stuff, no hummus. I would say they’re my least favorite because I actually don’t even know what they taste like.
John: It’s hard to argue that. That’s a legitimate answer right there. How about more diamonds or pearls?
Gail: I think pearls.
John: Pearls, okay. The last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.
Gail: A favorite thing I own, I think, would be my flute.
John: Oh, okay.
Gail: I went to college as a Music major before all this other stuff happened.
John: Wow. Who could tell? Look at this. I had no idea. Do you still play?
Gail: I do some, but it’s been a while.
John: No, exactly. I used to play trombone in a marching band in college as well. However, walked or marched and played at the same time is beyond me. Also just your mouth and the muscles near your lips and everything, they’re shot when you stop playing regularly.
Gail: Marching band was great though. When I went to Indiana University, and they didn’t allow girls in the marching band when I was there, so I just — the little bit of rebel in me that I have, every fall when they would have marching band tryouts, I would show up.
Gail: And make them listen to me even though I knew I couldn’t be in the band.
John: Wow, that is so wild. Wow. Yeah. I mean they probably had no flutes.
Gail: No, they did not. They had piccolos. I was happy to play a piccolo too, but they wouldn’t let me in.
John: Right. Wow, that is crazy. All right. Also, I love the movie reference with the movie tickets.
John: Averaging out all the numbers. People didn’t even notice there were numbers on the tickets. Yeah. So, let’s talk movies. I remember at the ITA Conference, going around the room, and you were like, movies. I was like, what? That’s incredible. Did you grow up going to movies a lot? Or what drew you to this?
Gail: I did grow up going to movies a lot. I grew up in a Chicago suburb, Oak Park, where there were, I think it was five movie theaters within walking distance of where I lived. Walking distance was between one and two miles, but you can walk that far when you’re little.
Gail: And movies were super cheap when I was a kid, so we always saw all the movies, my friends and I. Anytime — it was an era where everybody played outside. You said goodbye to your mom after breakfast, and you ate lunch wherever you were playing at lunchtime, and then you came home for dinner. On rainy days, we’d either camp at somebody’s house and read books, or we’d go to the movie theater.
John: Nice. Yeah. Especially growing up at a Chicago suburb like that where you had access to so many theaters, then, yeah, you’re able to go and see so many. Were there some of the movies that you grew up watching that were some of your favorites?
Gail: I loved that blockbuster stuff, the big David Lean movies, Bridge Over the River Kwai. I loved Lawrence of Arabia and just the big screen spectacles that are larger than life. I think great movies should be larger than life.
John: Yeah. Because some of them, yeah, even I watched and I’m like, well, the end, you’re like, really? Did that just — what just happened? We could have just hung out and watch the wall and talk to each other.
Gail: Yeah, I know. I like movies that you have to see on a big screen.
John: Yeah, I could see that. That’s cool. So then, obviously, as you grew up and now in adult life, still big in the movies. Are you still going to theaters? Or is it more Netflix, Amazon, all that other — Hulu, whatever else is out there online, or a little of both?
Gail: It’s everything. I still, I love movie theaters. You can’t change that movie theater experience, just seeing a movie in a dark theater with the smell of popcorn and strangers all around you and hearing their reactions to the scenes. I remember when The Sting came out. I went with a girlfriend of mine. The Sting, if you recall, has some big surprises at the end, and the audience reactions were, including ours, were so like, oh, my God. I’m sure it wasn’t the first time I sat through a movie more than once, but we just turned to each other and said, “We need to sit through this again just to see another new audience and watch their reaction.”
John: Right. Once you know what’s going to happen and get their reaction.
John: That does add to the experience, for sure.
Gail: Yeah. So having the people there — and that’s not to say I don’t like a theater that’s all mine if I go to a theater especially on a Tuesday afternoon and I’m the only one there. I have a rule about that. My daughter and I came up with this rule that if we go in the theater, there’s usually music playing, if there’s nobody else there, you have to dance.
John: That’s awesome. That’s so good. So if it’s like you and two or three people but it’s your group.
Gail: Well, yeah, that’s my group then we all have to dance.
John: As soon as someone else walks in then it’s like, I didn’t see anything.
Gail: Yeah, exactly.
John: That’s super fun. That just makes it an experience, which I think is a lot of what’s missing nowadays when a lot of things are just two dimensional. You go to the theater and that surround sound all the way around you and plus the audience, and you’re in it together. You’re experiencing a movie as opposed to watching it.
Gail: Then if you have the great opportunity to go to one of the classic movie palaces, then it’s just a completely new experience. You think of the history of that theater. Because they don’t build them like that anymore, but just beautiful theaters that are ornate and housed generations and generations of people seeing incredible films, that’s a great experience.
John: Right. Is this something that you go to, to visit on purpose, or if you’re just in an area, you check it out?
Gail: I will make trips to movie theaters. It’s kind of a bucket list item because I love road trips, and I love classic movie theaters. There are books about all the classic theaters that are still in existence. So, yeah, that would be a dream trip, to just go around and visit all the ones that were built 100 years or so ago.
John: Right. Yeah. I mean just to think of all that, or even maybe the Marx Brothers came through, to do a performance.
Gail: I can’t believe you said that.
John: Things like that.
Gail: The Marx Brothers became the Marx Brothers — I mean they were brothers, and they were acting, but they took on the name, The Marx Brothers, at the theater my husband and I operated in Champagne, Illinois.
John: That’s incredible. I had no idea. Very cool. So then you guys operated a theater as well.
Gail: Yes. The theater was part of the old Orpheum vaudeville circuit. It’s the Orpheum Theater in Champagne, Illinois. When we took it over, we started learning the history of the theater because we were so entranced with this gorgeous place. When it was back in its vaudeville days, lots of — I mean all the Orpheum vaudeville stars came through there. One of the stories we learned was that The Marx Brothers performed there, and they decided, “Let’s call ourselves The Marx Brothers,” while they were there.
John: Wow. Yeah, in Champagne, Illinois, which is — yeah. Most people listening are like, I have no idea where that is. University of Illinois is there.
John: I totally know where that is. Wow, what a small world. That’s super cool. Just the comedy side of me was Marx Brothers. That’s very cool. So then, yeah, when you run your own theater, then you can just watch them all.
Gail: You can watch them all. Yeah.
John: That’s so neat. So neat. Then obviously the writing, I can’t dismiss that. 34 books, you don’t do one accident. I mean doing one is hard enough. Does it become easier?
Gail: It does become easier, yeah. It’s still a challenge. Every time I start one, I think, oh, I’ve got this because I’ve written so many, but then I realize, oh, this is not easy. It’s easier than the first time was.
John: Yeah. Okay. All right. I think that the dovetails with the movies and story and all of this, and you’re growing up with that. Do you feel like that’s enhanced or impacted your writing side?
Gail: Absolutely. In fact, some of the things I write for CPA Practice Advisor are about movies.
John: Oh, wow. Okay.
John: But certainly there’s a creative side of you that’s not all black and white tax.
Gail: Absolutely. Yes. It started, so I went to school as a Music major. Here’s what happened. As a Music major at Indiana University, you couldn’t practice your instrument in the dormitories because you’d drive everyone else out of the dorm. So you had to go practice outside of the dorm. They had practice rooms around campus, and you reserved those rooms. You couldn’t just walk in.
As a freshman, I had last choice. The freshman always had the last choice in getting the room, so my practice time was like 8:00 at night, somewhere way across campus from where I lived which was really uncomfortable on several levels. Not only was it dark and in the winter it was cold, but also all my friends were ordering pizza and sitting around the dorm, doing their homework together and having a good time. Here I was, putting on a coat and trudging off in the dark to practice my flute. I became an enemy with my flute at that point because it was like the flute’s fault that I had to do this.
So after my freshman year, I decided I still wanted to do something creative. As a side note, during my freshman year, I had taken freshman English Composition which was a required course. My professor, who was one of my greatest inspirations, loved my writing, said, “You need to be doing this, and what you need is just lots of practice. Just stay comfortable and just keep pen on the paper, just keep yourself going.” This professor suggested, because every freshman on campus needed to take English Composition and 90% of them hated it, he said, “You could actually make a living doing ghostwriting for all these kids who have to do freshman Comp classes.”
John: Oh, wow. So it’s like you’re still in college forever.
John: That’s hilarious.
Gail: So I started doing this. I actually became the house writer for several fraternity houses on campus.
John: Oh, my goodness.
Gail: Who doesn’t want to write for fraternity boys? So I would write their compositions for them, and they pay me. That was great. That was a little side hustle when I was a freshman. So after freshman year of doing the late night practicing and stuff, I decided I wanted to have the fun in the dorms with my friends. I want homework that keeps me in the dorm, so why not just do this writing instead.
I wasn’t certain what I wanted to do with that, whether I wanted to go into Creative Writing or what, but Journalism seemed like a really good option because then I could write for the paper, or I could figure out what I want to write, and I could get a lot of practical skills. So I changed my major to Journalism and got to do my homework in the dorms which was important.
John: Right, and hang out. Yeah.
John: That’s an amazing story. That’s great that the professor’s like, “Yeah, yeah, go ghostwrite.”
Gail: Yeah. Go help these people cheat.
John: Right. That’s insane.
Gail: It is. Yeah.
John: That’s so funny.
Gail: It was wonderful.
John: Yeah. I mean now there’s the Internet, unfortunately, but, yeah, you could be a gazillionaire.
John: That’s awesome. Yeah. You got your writing chops in and writing all different kinds of topics, I’m sure, because everybody had them, which leads into obviously giving you a skill set that you bring to the office.
Gail: Well, and actually, there was an additional thing. My third year on campus, which later became known as my first junior year on campus.
Gail: I needed to really make a living. Years ago, my dad had a business and when I was in high school, had taught me basic bookkeeping skills. So I figured I could actually get a job job doing this instead of just writing papers for the fraternity boys. So I did that. I started working as a bookkeeper and from then on until I graduated, which took six years because from then on, I couldn’t go full-time because I was working. Each semester, I’d see how many courses I could buy based on how much I had saved from bookkeeping, so I had three and half years of bookkeeping under my belt by the time I graduated with a degree in Journalism. So that was how they sort of met, those two pieces of me.
Then I got out of school. I decided I’ll do this some more, some bookkeeping because I already know how to do this as a job. Then I decided to go back to school and actually get a CPA. So I did that and put in my time at Deloitte in Chicago so I could get licensed and actually be a CPA. At this point I’m married, and I’m in Chicago. All I’m doing is going to movies when I’m not working for Deloitte. Married a movie buff, my husband and I were going to movies all the time, many times a week. We got to know some of the movie theater owners in the Chicago area because they saw us. “You were just here yesterday, weren’t you?”
Gail: So got to talking about what it takes to run a movie theater and it just sounded so cool. We thought, well, we’re kind of young, and we could do this. It may not take, but let’s just do it now because we’ll probably never going to get a chance again. My husband was teaching law school, so his schedule was kind of flexible. I decided I would quit my job and do full-time movie theater. We couldn’t get a theater in the Chicago area because the union is so tough up there. Unless you own several, you really can’t make it work.
His parents lived in Champagne, so we thought, let’s just go down there. There happened to be the Orpheum movie theater which was struggling. We talked to the owners of it and said, “You’re having trouble with this anyway, why don’t you just rent it to us?” They said, “Okay.” We knew nothing about anything about running a business except that we loved movies. So we went down that path. We did it for just over a year, but the thing is we ran a business. We ran every aspect of that business. I learned so much about small businesses and payroll and employees and cash flow and building maintenance and how to run a movie projector and all the stuff that goes with it.
That became part of my groundwork for going back into public accounting, and I could really talk on a different level to our clients because I’d been there. When I ultimately started going into writing, I wrote on a level that was conversational and plain English which means I wrote for dummies and I wrote for idiots because that’s where the voice is.
John: Right. Yeah. That’s where most of us are, to be honest. You use all these big fancy words, and now I’ve got to go to the dictionary and look it up, then come back and I forget what page I was on and all this. It’s easier for people to digest as well.
John: Wow. What a fascinating story where, in several of these moments, it feels like absolute chaos. I don’t know which way is up from down and whatever. If you look back now, it’s almost an exact straight line.
Gail: I know. It seemed like a flow. Although some of the early books I wrote, got me out on book tours which was fun. I was on a book tour for The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Doing Your Income Taxes, and I was introduced as this CPA and then they brought me up onstage. I was speaking to an auditorium of people, and I started out by saying, it seems like if you look how I got here, that I just followed a lot of sharp turns that nothing actually goes together, but it actually is completely a flow. I’m not sure anyone could follow that path if they tried to do it on purpose.
Gail: But it all just, for one reason or another, it all just led completely to where I am now.
John: Yeah. It’s similar for me because people ask, “Well how do you get to where you’re — I don’t even know. I don’t even know how to tell you to do this. If you follow in my footsteps, it’s really hard so maybe don’t do that. But you had to go through that to get to where you are now, so it’s like, I don’t know. That’s so cool though and really awesome. Especially to hear how you’re able to take these things and make them more relatable to your clients, whether it’s talking about movies or it’s knowing how to run a small business like the movie theater or it’s writing in a way that people will actually understand.
Imagine a movie where everyone uses just giant words. That would be a terrible movie. I don’t think blockbusters use more than three-syllable words because you want to hear the story. You want to get in. If I’m too busy trying to digest the words then it takes too long to get the story. That’s awesome and so cool. So cool. Did you ever feel reluctant to share this side of you with clients or even when you were at Deloitte back in the day? Or was it, this is who I am, take it or leave it?
Gail: No. Especially at Deloitte, actually, I was pretty reluctant to share because most people who go through accounting school, they do four years of accounting school, which I didn’t do; they take the CPA exam, which I did do; they get into a firm like Deloitte, but they followed a certain path. They pretty much all followed the same path and so their experience is way different from mine.
I felt a little bit like I cheated because my Bachelor’s was in Journalism, then I went back to school. All I did was take accounting courses for a year and a summer and then I sat for the CPA exam. I didn’t go through the whole four-year curriculum that most of them did. Although I’d had experience bookkeeping and running a business, which most of them hadn’t, but I felt that I didn’t follow the right path, so I didn’t talk about my past much.
John: Yeah, yeah, or even just going to the movies or what movie you just saw or things like that. Yeah. Because you just feel like you don’t relate sort of a thing, but then at some point, that teeter-totter obviously tipped, or is it still something that you don’t share as much?
Gail: No, I share it all now. I don’t care.
John: Yeah, yeah.
Gail: It basically tipped when, after the movie theater, my husband and I decided to start a family. I decided I’d go back into public accounting, but I was able to get part-time jobs which, at the time, wasn’t as easy as it is now. I thought I can raise my kids and work part-time in accounting. Basically I worked tax seasons and then a little bit the rest of the year. Then I got into training people in the accounting firm because I was like one step ahead of them in terms of a lot of things. Also, I hadn’t mentioned this, but I had a minor in Computer Science when I was in college too because I just couldn’t resist.
John: Right, mine as well. Right?
Gail: Yeah. This was when computers were just coming in on the scene, so I could learn this stuff really fast because I knew how computers worked and then I could teach it. That’s how training started, and that evolved into writing because I was writing, I mean writing technical stuff because I was writing the training manuals for my classes.
Eventually, I decided I really wanted to be home with my kids. I could take this writing and make it a thing. That’s what I did. I left public accounting and went to full-time writing which turned into accounting journalism. At the beginning that was just writing books. I’d write two or three a year and do some editing. I wrote a column for the Indianapolis newspaper, so I had money coming in from a variety of different sources. It was a splotchy period, but I was doing it from home before being home was cool.
Gail: It was great. It worked out well.
John: Yeah, that’s fascinating. That’s really fascinating. I think we are reluctant at first to share those outside of work sides of us. Why do you think that is? If you would have met a stranger out and about or at a bar or coffee shop and they would have said, “Oh, what do you like to do,” you would have talked movies. No problem. But then you’re in a Deloitte office or you’re in an accounting whatever, for some reason we don’t want to do that, even to this day, a lot of people.
Gail: Yeah. It’s a little bit cutthroat. There’s that. I at least had a feeling nobody else was going to movies, three or four nights a week.
John: Well, certainly. Yeah. I don’t think anyone goes to movies like — but even once a month.
Gail: Yeah, exactly.
John: Even then they weren’t —
Gail: One of the great parts about operating a movie theater was that all my movie expenses were deductible.
John: Totally. Exactly. Because even if you add up, well we’re going to make less money; yeah, but we’re also going to spend less. We can add that, in theory, to our income and be like, wow, we are making so much money.
John: Because you’re not spending three to four days a week buying tickets.
Gail: Yeah. I felt a little bit of this is not serious accounting business, so I kept my personal life to myself when I was working there.
John: Yeah, yeah, but then now that you do share, do you find that it gives you a unique relationship with people or something else to talk about?
Gail: Definitely something else to talk about, yeah.
John: Because that’s what I found too, is it seems like most of the people that are on here, once they do start sharing, they’re like, wow, I wish I had done this sooner. Because people light up, and especially movies. It’s like, wow. Who hates — I’m not even sure if there are people that hate movies. People may be just indifferent or whatever.
Gail: There are people who hate to sit through a movie. There are people who hate movie theaters.
John: Those people are evil, evil people you don’t want to be around. I’m just kidding. I’m kidding.
Gail: I just don’t understand them.
John: Right. Exactly. It’s like, what? It’s probably those weirdos that like chunks in their ice cream. That’s who it is.
Gail: Something like that, yeah.
John: Right, right. Do you have any words of encouragement to anyone listening that maybe has a hobby or a passion that they feel like has nothing to do with their job?
Gail: For me, it was almost like in my life, I’ve been sitting in a little boat going down a stream, and I let the current take me. I just think rather than trying to force yourself into a position, just go with the flow. That’s very cliché, but for me that’s worked really well. When opportunities come, I assess them. If it seems like it’s good, even if it’s not a direction I saw myself going in, I’m not afraid to take those chances.
John: Yeah, and it clearly — some of those are driven by your outside of work hobbies and passions and then some of it’s dovetailing with the hobbies and passions, with your job or just in some way not letting that side of you go. That’s what I think is really interesting through all of this is that your relationship with accounting was in and out, hot and cold, if you will, but your relationships with movies and writing was always there. At no point did you ever stop going to movies. I think that that’s really important for us to take away is that these passions and interests are with us through everything. That’s awesome.
Before I wrap this up, it’s only fair that I allow you to now become the host and rapid fire question me since I so rudely peppered you with questions at the beginning. So I’ll let you fire away.
Gail: All right. Do you have a favorite movie or a few favorite movies? If so, why are they your favorites?
John: Well, I went to college in the Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler, David Spade, Chris Farley heyday, so, Ace Venture, Dumb and Dumber, and Tommy Boy, just those movies that are like, you can turn it on and laugh within the first two minutes. It’s kind of an escape. On the flip side, I really do like Good Will Hunting, I thought was a really great movie and really deep, and some of those movies that just make you think about things a little bit differently on the flip side. I like super, super shallow and then super, super deep, I guess. I want to be taken somewhere, moved somewhere, in the end. Some of those movies where, you watch it, and I’m like, is there a second half, what happened type of thing. Are we where we first started? This is an hour and a half. I’m not getting that, those kind of thing. Of course, Rudy. I graduated from Notre Dame.
Gail: Oh, yeah.
John: If I even just hear the music, I will start to cry. It’s just like I’m just a baby when it comes to that too. Yeah, a lot of those sports movies, man, I will cry at all of them.
Gail: I love feel-good sports movies. That’s a great genre.
John: So that’s where I’m at.
Gail: One more question. We’re, of course, on behalf of our audience, so I’ll just share the fact that we’re recording this in the time of Coronavirus, so my question is, what are you streaming?
John: Oh, that’s interesting. My wife and I are watching Billions. It’s on Showtime but through stream, catching up on that because we never, never watched that. Yeah, that’s pretty much it and then just movies here and there I guess. It’s hard though because you’ve either seen it or they just took it away or whatever. You’re like, oh, no, type of thing. Where, had we not been going through all of this, then never would have known. Great question. Really great question.
Thank you so much, Gail, for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”? This is super fun.
Gail: Super fun. Thanks for having me.
John: Absolutely. Everyone, if you want to see some pictures of Gail outside of work or maybe connect with her on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. All the links are there, and while you’re on the page, please click that big button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture.
Thanks again for subscribing on iTunes or whatever app you use and for sharing this with your friends so they get the message that we’re all trying to spread, that who you are is so much more than what you do.
Kevin is an Accountant & Ragnar Relay Runner
Kevin Yeanoplos returns to the podcast from episode 17 to share with us his recent experiences in his hobby of road trips visiting historical musical landmarks and his latest relay run! Kevin and John have a deep conversation on having a passion or hobby in life!
• Seeing James Taylor for the 25th time
• Kevin’s recent road trip
• Completing his 18th Ragnar Relay
• Frisson and what it means
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Welcome to Episode 262 of What’s Your “And”? Follow-Up Friday edition. This is John Garrett. Each Friday, I’m following-up with a guest who had been on the show a few years ago to hear what’s new with their passions outside of work, and also hear how this message might’ve impacted them since we last talked.
I’m so excited to let everyone know my book’s being published very, very soon. It will be available in Amazon and a few other websites so check out whatsyourand.com for all the details or sign up for my exclusive list, you’ll be the first to know when it’s coming out.
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. This Follow-up Friday is no different with my guest, Kevin Yeanoplos. He’s the Director of Valuation Services at Brueggeman and Johnson Yeanoplos in Tucson, Arizona. I visited him in his office before and now, he’s here with me today.
Kevin, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Kevin: John, it’s a pleasure to be with you to spend a few minutes. I’ve always enjoyed our chats.
John: I appreciate it. Ditto, man. Ditto. It’s always fun to catch up. This time, we hit record and let people hear it. That’s pretty fun. Yeah. One thing we never do on the regular calls is rapid fire questions. I’ve got seven for you right out of the gate here, get to know Kevin on another level.
If you had to choose, Harry Potter or Game of Thrones?
Kevin: Well, it would have to be Harry Potter because I think I maybe one of the ten people in the world that have never seen an episode of Game of Thrones.
John: And I’m in the club with you because that’s on HBO or something where you have to spend more money on it. So yeah, I don’t even know anything about it. I just know there’s a blood bath every other episode apparently.
How about more pens or pencils?
John: Okay, all right. I like that. How about oceans or mountains?
Kevin: That is a very tough question. Just expand on it very quickly, I always was around oceans as a young boy and felt that was peaceful to me. But since I’ve been in the mountain west for so long, actually I will tell you, a subset of the mountains basically red rocks is peace to me.
John: There you go.
Kevin: I’d have to say mountains now.
John: That’s fair enough. How about a favorite food?
Kevin: Red beans and rice.
John: Oh, there you go. How about do you prefer more hot or cold?
Kevin: Oh. Have to be hot in Arizona.
John: Yeah. Very, very hot. Two more. How about a favorite sports team? Any sport.
John: Oh, there you go.
Kevin: Since 1962.
John: Right, when they started. That’s impressive. How about toilet paper roll? Over or under?
Kevin: It’s got to be over.
John: On occasion, I get an under. Sometimes, there’s a reason. For the most part, over is definitely the most popular answer. That’s for sure.
It’s been a little while since Episode 17 when we chatted, I mean just such cool pictures you were doing from going to concerts and the photography and meeting all these musicians and then also the Ragnar Relays that you were doing. Is this still stuff that you’re into?
Kevin: Oh, yeah. If I had to — you know I’ve been thinking about hobby, my hobby is really living life, trying to be the pebble. I feel like we can change the world if we can change yourselves. That’s what my hobby is right there.
John: I love it, man. That’s great. I mean the way I look at the podcast, it’s just every episode is wiggling away at what people think of the stereotypical professional. Example after example is counter that and show you that this is the new norm. We can actually make a difference by being that example to others as you are. I mean for sure.
But yeah, have you been to some fun concerts recently?
Kevin: You know, they’re all fun. Earlier this year, saw James Taylor for I think the 25th time.
John: Oh, gosh. Yeah, wow.
Kevin: James Taylor was very important to me when I was younger, still is. His music I think is inspiring and everybody has an artist like that that impacts their lives and for me, James Taylor is it. I did some time in Mississippi last week and I think I drove 600 miles on one day.
I started out at Tupelo, Mississippi and went to Elvis’ birth place and then I drove to Clarksdale, Mississippi about two hours away which is where supposedly Robert Johnson made a deal with the devil so he could play guitar so well, and then I drove another hour to Robert Johnson’s grave at the middle of nowhere in Greenwood, Mississippi. Then from there, I went to Indianola, Mississippi which is where B.B. King was born and is buried and it was an epic day and that was better than any of the concerts I’ve been to.
John: Yeah. That’s amazing, man. I mean all of the music shrines of sorts, I mean all within a short drive.
Kevin: All in Mississippi. That’s incredible if you think about that.
John: It really is. Yeah, I didn’t realize that all of them — I mean I knew Tupelo of course with Elvis but yeah, didn’t realize all those other musicians as well. Very cool. Last year, I was able to see The Killers in Milwaukee in Summerfest, and man, what an experience. It’s crazy. The video and the confetti canons. I think I want to incorporate a confetti canon at the end of my keynotes now just after watching that, just like yeah, so it’s been fun going to concerts as well and I do not so much of the running on your part of it, but is that still something that you’re active with?
Kevin: It is. In fact, I just completed my 18th Ragnar.
Kevin: Let’s see. Where was it? Oh, the Bourbon Chase in Kentucky. We ran from Louisville, Kentucky to Lexington. The scenery was fantastic and I was with some good friends that I’ve known for quite a while. It’s always an experience to push yourself physically and emotionally and mentally and you come out the other side. I’ve learned so many good life lessons from doing those running races. I recommend it highly.
John: The Ragnar, for the people that are new to it, how far is that again?
Kevin: Somewhere around 200 miles and you have 12 runners. You each run anywhere from 12 to 20 miles and you run 24 hours. It usually takes us somewhere around 30 but you’re running all the time. You talk about life lessons, I‘ll just tell you quickly. In May, we had a Ragnar that went from Cobourg, Ontario to Niagara Falls. Ontario. Early in the race, one of the runners was alongside Lake Ontario, most of the course was along there. She happened to look off to the left and she rolled her ankle and she rolled so badly that she broke it.
Her husband was running and had to spend time with her in the hospital. Basically, you have two vans of six people. The other van had four people left. We had six and understandably, the other fan was kind of down and wanted to just give up, let’s just quit the race. We all thought about it. We said, here’s what we’ll do. We’ll give you one of our runners. We’ll all run an extra leg so instead of running three legs, we ran four and we’ll finish the race.
I now have a post-it on my computer screen that says sometimes, you got to run with ten. You do what you need to do to finish and it’s just such a great experience to do that. That’s why I said that’s my hobby, living life to the fullest because there are lessons for us every day.
John: That’s incredible, and what a story. I mean you’re running already 20 miles each and now, it’s like you’re attacking on an extra six or eight or whatever because of being a runner or two runners down, so probably even more than that, and yeah, sometimes that happens in work and in life where you just got to get it done.
Kevin: Yup. Very true.
John: It’s not because the other person isn’t good or whatever, it’s just that circumstances happen and that’s really incredible. Have you seen others in the professional world sharing hobbies and passions or are you more aware of it now or is it something where we still have some work to do?
Kevin: John, everybody has something, whatever it. To some people, they enjoy, they really do enjoy working 80 hours a week. Some people enjoy that. I don’t. I never have. I think I share with you that maybe a lot of that perspective comes from some health issues I had a number of years ago when that taught me a big lesson and gave me a lot of perspective.
The things I enjoy about working primarily are interacting with the clients, feeling like I can help. I love now to mentor and teach, that’s really what I like to do. The profession that I spend a lot of time in namely business evaluation has changed a lot and the technical side, I believe we probably get more into the weeds than ever before and there are some people that like that. I try to look at it above the fray. It’s just a different perspective.
John: No. For sure. I mean that’s something were I found in my research that I’m doing that yeah, there is maybe 8% of people where work is their thing and they’re really passionate about it but there’s about 92% of us that have something else that we’re all so passionate about.
Both are I guess okay but for so long that work all the time mentality has bullied us into thinking that if we have something else then maybe we’re not as dedicated to our job or we feel guilty or whatever and so it’s been cool sharing that message with people that no, no. It’s the opposite. It’s okay if work is your thing but it’s also 100% okay if work isn’t your thing and you’re just good at it and it gives you the money to go do the cool stuff you actually love to do.
Kevin: Well, have you ever heard of something called frisson?
John: No. I haven’t.
Kevin: It’s spelled F-R-I-S-S-O-N. It’s actually a French word and it’s French for chills. It’s not rare but not everybody experiences it and it’s something that maybe we hear a song or we read something. Whatever it is, we feel the chills because that particular thing has hit us and really, I mean it arouses something, that maybe is a bad word, but we feel it so strongly. I feel it all the time when I’m listening to music.
I personally feel it when I’m with or talking to certain people, not everybody but I feel it. I think it’s important for us, whoever we are, to try and be so aware of things that we feel that because it’s out there. It’s what are the things that inspire us, what are the things that enable us to feel? We are, as CPAs and though financial professionals, we’ve kind of gotten buried in our head. We think so much with our head, and again, there’s nothing wrong with that.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve really, really, really tried to think more with my heart. For me, that’s where I’m comfortable.
John: That’s fantastic because I mean there’s zero emotion typically at work or maybe anger. It’s like the only emotion and there needs to be joy and happiness and caring, love to a certain agree for clients and for coworkers. Get out of our head and more into those emotions and it’s not unprofessional at all. It’s actually more professional. It’s not as black and white as what we want it to be maybe.
Kevin: Well, if we got more time, I would tell you about some of the things that we’ve studied in management class about how impactful relationships can be on success in the workplace. Maybe that’s a good topic for another podcast.
John: All right, all right. But it clearly is. I mean relationships are where it’s at. It’s basically the gist of it. You can’t get relationships by being all up in your head and memorizing all the technical stuff. There’s a lot more to it. That’s great. We’re all capable of it too. That’s the other thing is that it’s encouraging that everyone can do it. It’s really not hard.
Kevin: People are more comfortable with it than others but we absolutely all have the ability to do it.
John: For sure. Well, this has been really powerful. And yeah, we’ll leave that cliff hanger for next time when you’re on the follow-up Friday and then you’ll finish the graduate work and yeah, Dr. Yeanoplos. Who knows, man? It’ll be next level type stuff. That’ll be fun. But before we wrap this up, it’s only fair that I allow you to question me back so if you have any questions you like to ask, we can let it rip.
Kevin: I’m going to turn the tables, John and ask you, if you had a day to do anything, what would you do?
John: wow. Goodness. That’s a deep question. I would probably have some ice cream for breakfast, if we can do anything, I mean let’s be honest. Start the day with that, and goodness, that’s really tough. I mean I don’t know. I mean my happy place is definitely going to a college football game especially at Notre Dame it’s definitely my happy place, bringing my wife and share that experience with friends and family and all that.
That’s definitely middle of October where it’s not cold but it’s not hot anymore. It’s just that perfect 60s type of weather and the sun’s out and yeah, that’s a good day for me. It really is. Then of course they win. There’s that part too I guess if we’re going to do all this.
Kevin: To give you a follow-up, and I’m going to expand it out and say okay, who would you be with? If it could be anybody, would it be for instance, what you described are you sitting there with Knute Rockne. If you could be with anybody for that day to experience it with you, who would it be?
John: Because part of that is those great coaches that you described, part of that is that would be really neat, but on the flipside, I don’t want to ruin the image that I have of you know, because maybe Knute Rockne, he was a great coach because maybe he wasn’t the nicest person. I don’t know. I don’t want to ruin it.
But yeah, I think that would be really cool but I don’t know, I guess I’m just really content with my wife and friends because then I think I could enjoy it more and just be more myself, I guess so I know that’s kind of lame because it would neat to have it be some amazing type of people but then I think I would be a little more myself and be able to enjoy it more than watching the game with some people that know way too much about football.
Kevin: That actually is very insightful because I have met a number of people that would be heroes to me and you have to temper your expectations. Otherwise, you are going to be disappointed. They’re human being. They’re just like everyone else.
John: Yeah. They’re just regular people. Right, exactly. That’s a really great question to ask. Really, everyone to ask themselves. And then why aren’t we doing that? At some point in our life, go do that thing.
Kevin: Very much true.
John: Well, that’s awesome. Well, thanks, Kevin. This has been so much fun catching up with you. I really appreciate you being on What’s Your “And”?
Kevin: Sure. My pleasure.
John: Everyone listening, if you want to see some pictures of Kevin out in the world and at his concerts and going to these music shrines and even running 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 and do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture.
Thanks again for subscribing on iTunes or whatever app you use, and for sharing this with your friends so they get the message that we’re all trying to spread that who you are is so much more than what you do.
Randy is a CPA & Music Lover
Randy takes a special interest in getting to know each client and their desired outcomes, as this allows him to deliver the services that helps them accomplish their goals. A native Coloradan, he enjoys being outside with his family all year round – golfing, concerts, camping, snowboarding, and water skiing.
Randy returns from episode 16 to talk about his most recent favorite concert, how he is taking more of an interest in other people’s hobbies, and how ACM LLP is encouraging a culture of sharing passions outside of work!
• Favorite recent concert
• Being more aware of sharing hobbies
• Making business discussions easier
• Taking trips as a firm
• Fun calendar
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Welcome to Episode of 244 of What’s Your “And”? Follow-up Friday edition. This is John Garrett. Each Friday, I’m following-up with a guest who had been on the show a few years ago to hear what’s new with their passions outside of work and also hear how this message might’ve impacted them since we last talked.
I’m so excited to let everyone know that my book’s being published very, very soon. It’ll be available on Amazon and a few other websites. Check out whatsyourand.com for all the details or sign up for my exclusive list and you’ll be the first to know when it’s being published.
Please don’t forget to hit subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss any of the future episodes because I love sharing such interesting stories each and every Wednesday and now, Follow-up Fridays and this one’s no different with my guest, Randy Watkins. He’s the office managing partner for the Northern Colorado office at ACM. Now, he’s with me here today. Randy, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Randy: Thank you. I’m excited to be part of it.
John: I can’t believe it’s been almost four years, dude. It doesn’t even feel like that long ago when we chatted, but I’ve mixed up the format a little bit here. We’re going to do rapid fire questions up front. Here we go. Get to know Randy on a new level. If you had to choose, Harry Potter or Game of Thrones?
Randy: Game of Thrones.
John: Okay. How about a favorite sports team?
Randy: Well, the CU Buffs but it’s been a challenge.
John: Right. It is up and down. Last year, they were so hot and then so not. If a season was only six games long and they would be in a bowl every year. Do you prefer more hot or cold?
John: Cold, okay. How about a favorite place you’ve been on vacation?
John: Yeah, yeah. Very nice. How about this? Brownie or ice cream?
Randy: Ice cream.
John: Ice cream, okay. I know you fly a lot, attending a lot of conferences and vacations and stuff too. Window seat or aisle seat?
Randy: Aisle seat. Long legs. I can’ fit on the window.
John: I agree, man especially when the fuselage curves a little bit. It’s like I’m getting cheated here. I don’t even get a full space. The last one, maybe the most important one. Toilet paper roll. Over or under?
John: Under, okay.
Randy: At one point, there was a cat in the house and they enjoyed playing with toilet paper rolls. If you put it over, yeah, you end up with a lot on the ground.
John: Yeah, then it’s all gone.
Randy: It’s just out of habit.
John: I hear you. I think that’s the only way that you just saved yourself from getting Twitter bombed by everyone.
Randy: I’m going to be fitting a different Twitter bomb, but that’s all right.
John: And the last time we talked, we talked about going to concerts a lot and especially Blues Traveler and hanging out with them. Is this still a passion? Do you guys still — I mean here in Colorado, there’s so many great concerts happening in so many cool venues. Still a thing?
Randy: Sort of, yeah. I have two daughters. One’s almost ten, the other just turned seven and life changes quite a bit when their life start getting busy. Every year, we go to a fun concert out in Palm Springs area called Stagecoach. It’s a big huge country music festival that we enjoy, still a thing I enjoy going to concerts. Most favorite most recent one was the Paul McCartney concert down in Talking in Arizona. My oldest is named Lennon and my youngest is McCartney. You can guess that I’m a bit of a Beatle’s fan as well. They got to see Paul McCartney play which was kind of neat.
John: Oh, and they got to come too?
Randy: Yeah. They were with us.
John: That’s fantastic. Did McCartney like it more?
Randy: She actually slept through most of it which was probably because it wasn’t quiet and it was about a three-hour concert, but my oldest was standing the entire time and actually knew some of the words which I was super proud of.
John: Yeah. So you are winning parenting. That’s for sure. You’re like, my work is done here. I don’t even know what else to do. We’re ten and we know words to Paul McCartney songs. That’s really cool, man. Is this something that you see people sharing their hobbies and passions more now or is it still kind of hit and miss?
Randy: It’s probably a little bit hit and miss. I do probably find myself more aware now and taking a bigger interest in people’s hobbies, particularly if there’s any overlap. I got a lot of friends that also enjoy concerts and festivals. So we’ve got kind of a group that goes on that annual trip every year. I would say I’m probably noticing it more again especially if we share some of the same hobbies.
John: Yeah, because then I mean it’s something to talk about right away.
John: Right. It’s your job and you still try to avoid it. Imagine everyone else in the general public. I joke when I’m on stage that if someone asks me what I do, and I say I’m a speaker and a comedian, then we’re talking the whole flight. Not a big fan. But then if I say, I’m an accountant, then they put on their Bose noise-cancelling headphones immediately. There’s never a follow-up question or anything.
Do you find that the conversations tend to go on longer and you have a little bit of a different relationship with those people? Not in a better way but just slightly different relationship?
Randy: Yes. I mean obviously, you’re talking about shared passions is more interesting. I guess there’s even times where if it’s not something I’m necessarily personally passionate about and is more interesting than some of the other conversations I’ve had. So yeah, it’s been good.
John: I find that, and I don’t know if this is the case, but where you start with those kind of conversations, and then it’s easier to transition into a business conversation rather than the other way around.
I mean if you start a business and then ten minutes later, be like oh, yeah by the way, do you go to concerts? It’s creepy weird.
Randy: It does lower people’s guard. I mean I think it creates more of a personal connection which makes it, like you said easier to transition into more serious conversations. Yeah, it definitely does help.
John: That’s awesome to hear because we’re still humans. It’s a human to human connection there even though we work for businesses and corporations and firms and stuff like that. Sometimes, we forget that. I know ACM does some cool things that from your position as a leader in the firm that you encourage or I mean obviously you’re modelling it, but is there something above and beyond that that you do?
Randy: Yeah. Since my last call, especially with the girls, whenever we can, one of the things that we as a family started doing more on is travelling. Something our firm did that I think is kind of cool a couple of years ago is we were having a hard time getting people to use their paid time off and getting them to really get away from work and do things they enjoy to do personally.
We created a program where if they would come to us with a plan to spend a week on vacation, it can be a staycation doing things that they enjoy around Colorado, but if there was a plan in place, we would allow them to actually take a week of vacation and also, use a week of vacation converted to pay so cash out a week to help pay for their actual vacation.
We found that that really encouraged a lot of people to get away, to get away from the office to go do the things they enjoy and yeah, it’s been good.
John: That’s awesome, man. That’s really cool because so many times, people feel the pressure to meet those chargeability hours or I have to be in the office just in case Randy needs something or someone needs something. It’s like no, no. We want you to get away, we want you to do your passions, go on vacation, take a break because you come back refreshed and you’re just better at your job then. That’s pretty awesome. That’s such an easy way to encourage that.
Do you have any words of encouragement for anyone listening that thinks that going to concerts has nothing to do with my job or whatever their passion is?
Randy: Yeah, I mean kind of to your point earlier, what we do for a living and the jobs we have really don’t define who we are as much as I think the things that we do outside of the timeframe. Even finding groups within the organization where you do have some shared passions or shared hobbies and getting a group to go do those things as a team probably builds better relationships both in and out of the workplace.
I think on the last call, I mentioned we had a fun calendar where people post things they’re doing and other people can see what’s going on. That’s been a great way to develop little almost cliques around hobbies within the firm, things that we’re doing outside of the office and that would just say find people with shared passions and spend time with them and continue to grow those things. Yeah, absolutely.
John: Even if it’s not a shared thing, someone’s singing or they’re performing somewhere or whatever, go support them. Go watch it. Yeah, I’m a terrible singer, but I’ll go watch it. I think in one of the previous podcasts, somebody asked, what superpower would I have if I could have one? I was like singing. To me, that is a super power. Flying or looking through walls. Singing is up there with that to me. That is that level of a skill.
Randy: Anybody can sing. It’s just not everybody wants to hear them.
John: That’s an excellent point. Thank you for that. I’m going to use that next time blood’s coming out of someone’s ears when I’m near them at a concert while I’m singing along. I love how you said that the things outside of our job define us typically a lot more than our job itself. It’s a percentage of who we are as a person. A job is really a small percentage. It’s 100% of our income. But who you are as a person, it’s 20% maybe. It’s important to not let that slide into becoming 100% of us. That’s really great.
Before I wrap this up, it’s only fair that I allow you to question me back since I so rudely came out of the gate coming at you, whenever you’re ready, fire away.
Randy: All right. If you can travel back in time, what period would you go to?
John: Oh, wow. Holy crap. That’s a great question. Wow. That’s hard. There’s so many layers to it. It’s like I’m probably going to be dead by now of the flu if I go back to anywhere before the 1850s.
Randy: See, I don’t even think about things like that.
John: It’s like well, like you know. Yeah, I don’t know. Let’s see here. I guess the ’50s, the ‘1950s, I don’t know why. It just seems like gone madmen. Everything’s cool.
Randy: All right. Nickname your parents used to call you.
John: John R. because my dad is also John. Middle initial is where that popped in. I never went by really anything else. That was pretty much it.
Randy: Not JR?
John: No. Never Johnny, period, to this day.
Randy: I’ll remember that. Back to your super power question, I’m just going to give you choices. Invisibility or super strength?
John: Nice. Yeah, I’m going to go invisibility which sounds like the creepier answer. You don’t need the super strength that they can’t see you but I guess that’s why I’m going to go with that, plus I’m a big fan of just being in the corner and just not the center of everything with sounds weird because it’s the opposite of my job.
Randy: Oh, you’re a public figure. Right.
John: Yeah, exactly. It’s like, I’ll just be over here. Invisible. Those were really good questions. Now my brain hurts, Randy. That was awesome though but thanks so much for taking tie to be with me in on What’s Your “And”? This is really fun.
Absolutely. I drive.
Randy: Cool. Everyone listening, if you want to see some pictures of Randy in action and at the concerts or maybe connect with him on social media, please be sure to go whatsyourand.com. While you’re on the page, please click that big button and do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture.
Thanks again for subscribing in 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.
Shannon is an Attorney & Car Enthusiast & Musician
Shannon is a litigator practicing primarily in the products liability, toxic torts, government contracts, and financial services spaces. He loves the people he works with and the work is (usually) pretty exciting. However, music and cars have always been his passion. He has been a musician for as long as he can remember. “I was playing ‘drums’ on pots and pans on the kitchen floor before I could carry a tune (or hold my bladder)”. Shannon started working on cars as soon as he “could see under a hood”. He spent the first 10 years after college as an engineer for a Big 3 auto manufacturer, the next few years running a hot rod shop, the next 5 as a professional musician and college instructor, and the last 8 years or so building his legal practice.
Shannon Peters talks about his love for cars, his previous careers in the auto & music industries, and how this experience is applied to his career today as an attorney! He also shares with us his experience with his office discovering his passion in music and their reaction!
• His family’s Plymouth Barracuda
• Working in the auto industry
• Getting into music
• Becoming a part of the house band for Husch Blackwell events
• How his co-workers reacted when they discovered his passion for music
• Standing out in the office goes beyond your abilities at work
• How his time working in the auto industry applies to his current career
• How Husch Blackwell LLP is moving towards a more open culture
• Why all firms should start embracing a more open culture
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Welcome to Episode 231 of What’s Your “And”? This is John Garrett. 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 — you’re an accountant and a painter, you’re a lawyer and a musician — those things that are above and beyond your technical skills, and those things are the actual things that differentiates you when you’re in the office.
But first, I’ve got a quick favor to ask you, 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 every Wednesday, and now I’ve got Follow-Up Fridays. I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week. My book is coming out very, very soon. It’ll be available on Amazon and a few other their websites. So check out whatsyourand.com for all the details, or sign up for my exclusive list and you’ll be the first to know when it’s hitting the shelves.
This week, it’ll be no different with the awesome stories with my, guest Shannon Peters. He’s an attorney in the St. Louis office of Husch Blackwell. We actually went to high school together. Now he’s with me here today.
Shannon, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Shannon: Hey, John, it’s great to be with you. You should just know that the timer is running, and I’m billing you by the 10th. So that’s how it rolls in the big law. Keep it short and keep it sweet, and we’re going to get this done.
John: That’s awesome. Well, my accounts payable department is on vacation, so the check is coming some time, but that’s awesome though. Now I’m sweating. Okay, we better get to the rapid-fire questions then. Let’s just do this.
Shannon: I’ll do it.
John: All right, first one, favorite color?
John: Blue. Nice. Okay, how about a least favorite color?
Shannon: Oh! Green.
John: Green. Interesting. Okay, and when you fly, more window seat or aisle seat?
Shannon: 12F, baby. I fly only Southwest. 12 is a good row and I’m on the aisle.
John: I know what you’re talking about right there. That’s awesome. Do you have a favorite actor or actress?
Shannon: You know, it’s got to be Dwayne Johnson because I look so much like him. I get it every day, so like, hey, I might as well watch his movies.
John: I meant to include that in your introduction, Shannon “The Rock” Peters.
Shannon: That’s right. That’s right.
John: My apologies. Would you say you’re more early bird or night owl?
Shannon: What is sleep?
John: Oh, yes.
Shannon: I’m an early bird, a night owl, and everything in between. Yeah.
John: There you go. There you go. More pens or pencils?
Shannon: Oh, pens.
John: Interesting. No mistakes. I like that. All right. Puzzles, more Sudoku or crossword?
Shannon: It had have to be crossword. I don’t know how to do Sudoku.
John: Right. There you go. Since you’re a lawyer, I have to ask, more Suits or Law and Order.
Shannon: Ooh, you know what? Those are both great. Law and Order got me in the profession and lied to me all the way here. Suits is no more realistic than Law and Order, but I think it’s my current favorite.
John: Yeah, that’s a good show. That’s a good show. All right. What about your computer, more PC or Mac?
Shannon: Mac all the way.
John: Wow, fancy.
John: How about a favorite ice cream flavor?
Shannon: Oh, man, Moose Tracks, I think.
John: Yeah, that’s a great answer. Solid, solid. Besides the Westland Marching Warriors, do you have a favorite band or musician?
Shannon: Oh man, that’s a loaded question for a musician. It really kind of changes from day to day. Right now I’m listening to a band called Judah & the Lion, which is they’re fun. Yeah, you know what? I listen to all the genres and all the bands. So yeah, the Westland Warriors are, I’ve got to say, close to number one.
John: Right. That’s our role in high school for anyone listening because no one would.
Shannon: No one would.
John: So there you go. How about a favorite animal, any animal at all?
Shannon: A liger, of course.
John: A liger. I like that. I like that. Very good. Prefer more hot or cold?
Shannon: Food has to be hot, but the temperature around me must be cold.
John: There you go. There you go. So yeah, eating warm food in a cold atmosphere. I like that. That’s a good answer. Do you have a favorite number?
Shannon: Seven, maybe.
John: And why is that?
Shannon: You know, it’s cliché, right, with the lucky number seven.
John: Totally. It is the number one answer is number seven.
Shannon: I’m sure it is, right.
John: All right. Since you’re a lawyer, let’s ask, criminal law or corporate law?
Shannon: Oh, between those two, it depends how you define corporate law. You use that as a lawyer or law question, so now you’re in for a long answer.
John: Because I don’t know. I googled it.
Shannon: I would say, in terms of my practice, it would definitely be civil, which I guess you would call corporate. I’ve done a little criminal law, and I hope not to ever do it again.
John: Two more. Favorite cereal from anytime?
Shannon: Oh, man, that’s — woof. You know, I used to like Golden Grahams a lot. I don’t know why, but I did.
John: You know what? Those are good. Those are good. That’s a great answer. And the last one, the favorite thing you own or the favorite thing you have?
Shannon: Oh, man, wow, that’s tough. So I would say have two, I guess, material babies, if you will. My 69 Barracuda, which I had in high school, you may remember, and my Tom Anderson Crowdster guitar which was custom made for me. So those are my two non-human babies, I guess you’d say.
John: Right, right. Absolutely, man. That’s awesome. Very cool. Well, that dovetails nicely right into both of your hobbies and passions. You’ve had them since I’ve known you, which was like 1990, I guess. Holy cow! We’re old. But you still have the same Barracuda?
Shannon: I sure do. Yeah. The car has been in my family since it was new, so 1969, that timeframe, obviously. It kind of got passed to my grandpa. My great-great uncle bought it new. I started working on it when I was 15, 16 in high school. And then eventually it made its way to me, but I’ve kind of had it in my possession since shortly after high school. So it’s still in my garage today.
John: That’s awesome, man. That’s really cool. That’s really cool. Then, of course, I know that that automobile passion has gone way past just the Barracuda. You actually used to work in the automobile industry, right?
Shannon: Yeah, yeah, actually, I went to undergrad, actually in SIU Carbondale called Salukis. I’ve got an automotive technology degree and went straight to General Motors to Saturn division and was an engineer there for a number of years, around eight years, and then kind of moved on from there, but that was my first official gig in the auto industry. Yeah.
John: That’s awesome. I mean, especially if you could take your passion and then make it your job, although that’s when it gets weird though because then it’s work all the time sort of thing. It’s fun, but then it’s like, well, you can’t necessarily take off from it sort of a thing. So it does, certainly, it’s cool but then you have to definitely keep it in check. That’s for sure. And then, of course, the music, I mean, we were in the band together. You were always playing guitar and drums and so good at it, but then you took that to the next level as well.
Shannon: Oh, yeah.
John: Just playing music all the time. You actually had a music career.
Shannon: Yeah. As you know, I was in “the band,” the high school band.
John: Right, “the band.” There’s a difference between a band and the band.
Shannon: Band was my favorite class by a longshot. Thanks to Mr. Rodney. So I was fortunate to be able to hop around from the jazz band to the pep band to the marching band to the, you know, whatever band they did at the time, which was great. But outside of high school or outside of school, I guess you’d say, me and several of the other dudes you’d remember from school always had our little heavy metal wannabe cover bands that we would play at teen parties and whatnot. It’s kind of always been something that took up almost all of my time, which explains why it took me so long to get into the law profession because I was not ready for real college after I got out of high school because I didn’t really go to high school much.
Shannon: I was there, but I was kind of more a social butterfly and didn’t do a whole lot of actual work in high school.
John: Exactly. You were physically there, not necessarily mentally present, and then you still graduate. That’s how high school is, I think. When I hear of kids that are struggling, I’m like, “Come on, man. Like just go.” I mean, that’s really all you got to do. It’s more of an attendance.
Shannon: Oh, yeah, you got a participation prize, for sure, and that was a diploma back then.
John: Right. Exactly. Yeah. I think that’s so fantastic that still to this day you’re playing music, and mostly through your church but also at some of the Husch Blackwell events even. How did that come about?
Shannon: That’s interesting. It actually was kind of surprising for me. I came to Husch right out of law school. I did my summer associate summer here. What drew me to Husch in the first place really was the people that were there. It just didn’t seem like what I anticipated a big law firm to be. It wasn’t nearly as stuffy as I kind of expected it to be. Again, this is from a guy who got into the law profession in his late 30s, right?
So I’ve already had a short music career and all this stuff, but I get here and I find out that there are a number of other musicians that are not really active anymore outside of the office. Well, one of our — he is our chief growth officer now. He is the lead singer of a pretty popular party and cover band here in town. When I say “in town,” St. Louis. His band would play at some of our functions. I even learned that, you know, I played and a few other folks played and sang and said, “You know, why don’t we put these folks together to make a Husch Blackwell Band?” And it was way better than we expected it to be. We really just got together and never practiced once and said, “Okay, guys, learn your parts, show up, and let’s play this stuff.” And it really killed and everybody at the firm loved it. So now we are kind of like the house band for all the Husch Blackwell events. It’s been really fun.
John: That’s awesome, man. Was there any part of you that was like, “Oh, well, if I share this side of me, they’re going to think I’m less of a lawyer or less committed to the firm”?
Shannon: Oh, yeah. So the funny thing is the first time I think anybody outside — well, they found out kind of early that I was a musician because somebody had stalked me on Facebook and found some old pictures of me on stage. So that was a little embarrassing at first and that was during my summer and I thought, well, I’m not going to get this job now. That wasn’t the case at all. But then, as you mentioned, I sing and play it at church, and I go to a fairly large church here in West County. I happen to notice a couple faces in the crowd one weekend that I worked with. Oh, no, this is a whole different world. My world is colliding. How’s this going to work? It was surprisingly a really good response. Everybody was actually that found out, “We like it that you have another outlet.” And they encouraged it. It was kind of surprising to me. But, man, it made a big difference in how I kind of looked at the people I work with and how I interacted with them.
John: That’s so awesome because from all the people that I’ve interviewed on the show, it’s 99.9% in our own head that people are going to judge us or this or that or whatever, and then you let it out. I mean, you’re not shouting from the rooftops, and you’re certainly not not doing your job. But every time, people think it’s cool and that’s fantastic. And not only do they think it’s cool, but they’re like, “Hey, actually play at our events,” which is like next level.
Shannon: What’s interesting and what I found, this has been over the course of — I’ve been with the firm about five years. Pretty early on when we started playing these gigs, people started recognizing the folks who are on the stage, the CEO and the chair of the board, they both know me by name, they walk up to me and say hi and talk to me. I’m a nobody associate especially two or three years ago, right? And I thought, well, you know what? This might actually be a good thing, getting some recognition that has nothing to do with my work product because that’s got to be terrible at this point.
John: No, man, because that’s the thing. We’re all trying so hard to stand out by doing more work, and everyone’s doing good work, all your peers at Husch Blackwell. I mean, plus or minus, you’re doing the same thing. And so to stand out, golly, you’d have to be some savant, just I invented law.
Shannon: And the interesting thing about that is if you stand out with your work product, which again, at a firm like Husch, your work product is assumed to be great. And that’s not to be arrogant. It’s just to get to the level, you have to do that kind of work, right? So the assumption is that it’s going to be really good. So to differentiate yourself that way is really difficult. And you know what? It’s almost like the frog in the boiling water pan. Your clients internally just have to assume, good is that good. They assume that it’s easy for you and you’re no longer special. You’re just another one of those really good lawyers.
To have something that they can talk to you about or you can talk to folks about that has nothing to do with the work product, has nothing to do with the case, I think it’s refreshing on both sides. At least it seems to have played out in my favor. I’ve seen that there are several others of us who, what I like to say, bring your whole self to work, right? Those folks tend to have better relationships in the office, and it seems to work out well for them.
John: Yeah, for sure, because surprise, you know who else has other outside-of-work interests? Your clients.
Shannon: That’s right.
John: They’re people too. That’s so refreshing to hear, and you’re able to see it while you’re in it. Because I remember when I was at PwC back in the day and people would be like, “Oh, what did you do this weekend?” I was like, “Well, I drove to Springfield, Illinois, and did a comedy show.” And they’re like, “Wait, what?” And then all of a sudden, 12 years later, someone remembers me as the guy who did comedy at night and it’s like, I’ve never even met you. We never worked together, and that sort of a thing. I think everyone deserves that. You work way too hard and you’re too good at what you do for someone to just not remember you.
So would you say that either the cars and/or the music gives you a skill set that makes you better at your job?
Shannon: Definitely, I would say both do in different ways. My primary practice is products liability defense, toxic tort defense, and it’s all in the manufacturing industry. My practice group has been manufacturing based. So the fact that I started my career as a dirty hands mechanic, working in shops and building cars and moved up to the engineering world, I understand the clients’ products, I understand the clients’ processes. I can speak their language, and they love that. Of course, I would too. I love that. So that’s helped in that regard.
Honestly, it’s funny but you meet — I just recently brought another fairly large client and our in-house counsel that we report to happens to be a car guy from Detroit. So we hit it off right away. Those are the things. He didn’t want to talk about business the whole night when we took him out to dinner. He wanted to talk about his Mustang and quite frankly, so did I. So the car stuff has that connection. You know, car guys, we’re an interesting sort but sort of like musicians in that we all have this little competitive edge to us. We want our car to be cooler and faster and all that stuff, but we also want to help our car buddies make their cars cooler and faster, right? Musicians are kind of the same way. Musicians, we want to be the best singer, guitar player, whatever, but we want our fellow musicians to rise to the occasion too. I think that kind of translates into how a good, in my opinion, how a good attorney or a team member works. You want to kill it, but you want to make sure your team kills and your clients are able to kill it. I don’t know. Maybe it’s all in my head, but I’ll say it’s working.
John: No, no, I love that. It’s so true it, especially when you’re up there as a part of a band, sure you’re the singer, the lead guitarist, or the drummer or the bassist or whatever you are, but that’s a team. If one is way better than everybody else, then it’s out of sorts. And if somebody’s off rhythm or if somebody is whatever, then, man, it’s terrible. And it’s the exact same thing is when you’re running a team at the firm. That’s such a great parallel that you’ve been doing since you were in high school. So you’re like a pro now.
Shannon: I’ve got experience with these really hotshot trombone players trying to show off in the middle of a —
Shannon: Wait a minute, trombone is not supposed to be lead instrument here. It’s supposed to be flute.
John: You’re talking about me, low brass, everybody. Low brass.
Shannon: Yeah. Maybe a Billy Pemberton tuba would fill in there once in a while.
John: Oh, gosh. The fact that we ever had a straight line ever during a football marching, that’s amazing, totally amazing. Well, that’s so cool. You’re able to share that at work and that everyone embraces that and doesn’t make you feel like eh. You’re clearly very good at your job. Somebody wants to tell me, “Hey, why don’t you just go do that comedy thing? That’s all you want to do.” It’s like, whoa, that has nothing to do with my work product. What I do outside of work is I’m here and I’m delivering what you need.
Shannon: That would be a tough comment to get because, unfortunately, at my old, salty age that I’m at now, I would answer that question and I’d say, well, nobody’s going to pay me this kind of money to do that job, and that’s why I’m here in the first place.
John: Exactly. It’s like the thing that I like to ask me is would you do taxes for free? Would you do engineering free? Would you do law for free every day, not just a charity case? And it’s like, no, of course not. It’s like, well, that’s what you’re doing when you work on your cars or when you play your music or when you’re doing comedy or when you’re running marathons or when you’re whatever. I mean, that’s your real passion. That’s just awesome that the firm embraces that like that. So does Husch Blackwell do anything in particular to get other people to share their passions? You guys are living, breathing examples. So clearly that’s a thing to get things started.
Shannon: I think we’re moving in that direction. It’s interesting the time that I’ve been here, we have an associates committee that they call the next gen committee now because they’re all new age. But I think we’re moving in that direction where we’re trying to get folks to be more well-rounded because I think it’s faired out the numbers. I’m sure there’s plenty of research out there that shows that people who are more well-rounded are better at everything that they do. If you got a laser focus, you can be an expert at something, but you’re lacking something that maybe is undefinable. So I believe they are. I can’t think of any explicit programs that they’re doing, but they certainly encourage and I think you’re right. I think that the idea of even having some musicians hop on stage, some folks who maybe aren’t used to being on stage because there are some other guys in the band who they did play trumpet or something in high school and that’s the last time they played. So they’re getting out of their comfort zone. But at the end of the night, it’s always a positive response.
So I think that helps other folks who have other outside passions to say, you know what, hey, I think the firm can appreciate this stuff and maybe I’ll start doing it. I think we’re moving in that direction. I don’t know that it’s explicit. Yeah.
John: And going back to that research, so there was actually a study done at Duke University that showed that people that have more dimensions to their life are less prone to anxiety and depression, which makes complete sense because if you’re all work all the time and then you’re waiting for a client decision or you’re waiting for whatever, then your anxiety is going to be through the roof. And then if that decision is not in your favor, then that’s 100% blow to your face. I mean, just 100%. Where if you have family and faith and friends and music and cars, it’s like, you know what, that stings a little bit but I’ve got all this other stuff. That’s also who I am. Then you’re able to rely on that for confidence and happiness and joy, whatever, in who you are. So that’s cool, man.
One thing that I like to noodle on, because I’ve got time, is how much is it on the firm to create this culture to have people playing that are members of the firm in a band, or how much is it on an individual to just kind of step up and be like, “Hey, this is what I love to do,” and create that little circle amongst their peers?
Shannon: I think it is on the firm and I think that they, you know, it’s like a ride or die situation. I think that they’re going to all the firms, the large and small, are going to have to start embracing that as we have these generational changes because they’re going to lose good people if they don’t. So I think it’s on them. Now, I think it looks different at different firms with different folks. But quite frankly, we know that our clients also want this stuff. Our clients want world-class work product. There’s no question about that. That never has to waver. But they also want people. They want to work with people. They’re all concerned about diversity in our teams. I think when we talk about diversity, it’s more than just ethnic diversity. It’s diversity in personality. It’s diversity in experience. It’s diversity in thought. So I think that those things are all at this point in our history as a society are becoming more and more important because, like you said, the research is out that it makes people better at what they do, and everybody’s starting to understand that.
John: No, I agree, because when I got out of school and started at PwC, work-life balance was kind of something people said. The idea was just don’t die at work. That was pretty much the concept. It’s like, whatever. Now it’s find out what that hobby-passion balance is because there’s skills that you have, I mean, like you going into manufacturing industry and you’re one of the guys. You can talk to them. You can talk their lingo. You know what’s going on. You’re, oh, that’s whatever type of machine. They’re like, “What?” All of a sudden, you’re not suit. You’re just one of the guys type of a thing. You’re one of us. And that’s a huge differentiator than just any other lawyer that just walks. If I was a lawyer and I walked in, I’d be like, I don’t know what the hell they do here. I have to touch that? My hands are going to get dirty. What? This is weird. Give me some gloves.
Shannon: It will mess up my manicure.
John: Right, right, right. Totally. I can imagine. I think that’s a huge thing. I love that you share that and that the firm embraces that, and it’s really encouraging to hear. So that’s awesome. So do you have any words of encouragement to anyone listening that thinks, hey, I have this passion outside of work, but it has nothing to do with my job? And there is not a charge code for sharing.
Shannon: I would say, you always have to know your audience. So I mean, in the professional world, one of the things that makes us good at what we do is being able to read a room and speak to that room the way we should. So know your audience, I would say that. I don’t come to work in t-shirts or even shorts. I don’t wear short — because I have tattoos on my arms. I know my audience. But when I’m on stage and my fellow attorneys see me, it’s all good.
So I would say, get to know some folks in your office that you can start to share that stuff with, that you feel comfortable sharing stuff with. And then you will see, you’ll get that confidence because you’ll realize they like it. They like the idea. They can come into your office and talk to you about something that’s not work related because you know what? Everybody in your office at some point needs to talk about something besides these are the balance sheets or something besides the complaint and the responsive pleading. They want to talk to you about something else to feed off their minds. They want to know they have real people working with them.
So get comfortable with a few folks. Then you’re going to realize, hey, you know what? I can do this stuff. And then find strategic places to kind of inject that, those conversations. You don’t walk into the office one Monday morning and you’re a whole new person. But at the same time, yes, bring your whole self to work, quite frankly. Maybe this was the old me talking, but how long do you really want to work for people or at a firm or a location that doesn’t appreciate who you really are? You don’t want to be there. So worst-case scenario, if you bring your whole self to work and they hate it, find a better place to work because those places are out there. They really are.
John: Right, right. That’s the thing, like when I speak, it’s always what’s professional? Because that definition has changed over the last hundred years. I mean, 100 years ago, the largest bank in the UK, you had to get permission to marry from the bank. So it’s like, wait, what? So that’s professional 100 years ago. So I think it’s anything and everything up until you’re interrupting someone else’s ability to do their job. If you bring your guitar in and start just wailing away on some music, it’s like, well, all right, that’s clearly bringing your passion to work, but that’s going to make it hard for other people to do their jobs. But there’s ways to go about that that I think that we just get in our own heads so much. I love that you felt that at first and then it happened and then really cool stuff after that. So that’s fantastic, Shannon.
So before I bring us in for a landing though, it’s only fair that I turn the tables and let you rapid-fire question me. And I’d also like you to stop the clock on the billing.
Shannon: Oh, all right.
John: Because this is now — I’m billing you.
Shannon: All right, let’s do this. What do you think? First rapid-fire question, foreign or domestic?
John: Oh, all right. You know what? I’m going to go foreign.
Shannon: Oh, I see like a Honda.
John: I’m not made in America.
Shannon: All right, automatic or manual?
John: You know, let’s go manual.
Shannon: Sweet. All right, you’re back. You’re winning me back. All right. Rock and roll or rap?
John: Rock and Roll.
Shannon: Oh, maybe. You like steak or chicken?
John: Steak, for sure.
Shannon: Yeah. You’re from the Midwest, man. You got to like steak better.
John: There you go. There you go.
Shannon: All right. You have experience about East Coast or West Coast?
John: I’m going to go East Coast. I’m going to go East Coast, just because you get what you get, like you don’t have to gas. East Coast is I get back to you tomorrow and then six months later, you have to call them. It’s like, come on, man.
Shannon: All right, I got one more. What was better to you, your 20s or now you’re 40s so far?
John: Probably the 40s just because I think, I don’t know, you start to learn what’s actually important instead of what you think supposed to be important or what people tell you is important.
Shannon: Yeah, that’s more accurate.
John: Yeah, yeah, exactly. Exactly. Well, this was awesome, Shannon. Thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”? It’s so much fun.
Shannon: I appreciate you having me on. You’ll be getting my bill shortly. So it’s all good.
John: Awesome. Perfect.
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