Lynne is an Accountant & Musician & Singer
Lynne Titley, Associate Director of Finance at Space & Time Media, talks about her passion for playing music, specifically jamming. She shares why she prefers jamming to traditional performing, how it applies to her career, and much more!
• Getting into music
• Why she prefers jamming over traditional performing
• Skills from jamming that she applies to her career
• Discussing jamming and other hobbies at work
• Performance reviews that include taking time for your “And”
• Why the size of an organization plays a role in empowering their employees
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Welcome to Episode 513 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. And 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.
And if you like what the show is about, be sure to check out the award-winning book on Amazon, Indigo, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop, a few other websites. All the links are at whatsyourand.com. The book goes more in-depth into 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 listening to it on Audible, and writing such great reviews on Amazon and, more importantly, changing the cultures where they work because of it. And please don’t forget to hit subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss any of the future episodes. I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week.
And this week is no different with my guest, Lynne Titley. She’s the associate director of finance at Space & Time Media in Bournemouth, UK. And now, she’s with me here today. Lynne, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Lynne: Thank you so much. I love this podcast. Really pleased to be here.
John: Oh, thank you. This is gonna be so much fun ’cause I’m a musician as well. I mean, we’re gonna be so close to jamming by the end of this.
Lynne: I feel like you’re gonna get it completely.
John: Right? Exactly. But before I get going in that stuff, I have 17 rapid fire questions. Get to know Lynne out of the gate. So here we go. I’ll start you with an easy one, I think. Favorite color.
Lynne: Pink now. Yeah, it used to be blue. Now, pink.
John: Okay. Okay. All right. How about a least favorite color?
Lynne: Yeah. Orange.
John: You know what? That is by far the most least favorite color of everyone.
Lynne: Weird. Isn’t it?
John: I should just stop asking the question.
Lynne: You know, I think it’s just been done. It’s just been overdone. There’s too much orange for me.
John: Right. Any orange at all is too much.
John: There you go. How about a favorite animal? Any animal at all.
Lynne: Oh, I’ve gotta go cats.
Lynne: Yeah. We’ve got a cat. She would crucify me if I said anything else.
John: Right. Just in case she listens.
Lynne: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
John: You know, that works. How about puzzles, Sudoku, crossword or jigsaw?
Lynne: Crossword. Because I spend so much time with numbers in the daytime obviously. A crossword is a nice kind of change of pace, change of angle on things. Yeah.
John: That’s an excellent point right there for sure. How about a favorite actor or actress?
Lynne: Hugh Jackman.
John: Yeah. He’s excellent. And he’s so good in everything. Like he’s so diverse.
Lynne: He’s just such a nice bloke. He’s just so humble.
John: Oh, that too. Yeah. Just a good person.
Lynne: He can just play anything and he’s just— Yeah. Yeah. He’s awesome. I hope my husband doesn’t listen to this.
John: We’re talking about as an actor. He’s a nice person.
Lynne: Completely professional interest.
John: Yeah. Absolutely. If you could date any actor, who would it be? Also Hugh Jackman, but that isn’t the question I asked. That was a totally different question. Right? How about a favorite place you’ve been on vacation?
Lynne: Ooh, okay. Well, we just went to Italy a couple of weeks ago. I went to Verona and it was awesome. Really loved it. Really beautiful. Just walk everywhere from where we stayed, and great restaurants and architecture, and it was lovely. Really lovely break. So yeah, I’m gonna say at the moment, Verona. I’d otherwise change my mind, but yeah.
John: That totally works. Yeah. How about more Star Wars or star Trek?
Lynne: Star Wars for the films and Star Trek for the TV.
John: Oh, yeah. I’ll take that. I’ll take that. Absolutely. Absolutely. How about your computer, more of a PC or a Mac?
Lynne: I’ve never really had a chance to use Macs. I had iPhones for a while, but not Mac. So yeah, PC all my life. It just because that’s all I’ve ever had been given to.
John: Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. And I’m curious. In the UK, toilet paper roll, is it over or under? Are you guys like reverse?
Lynne: It’s incredibly contentious, John. I won’t lie. It’s very contentious. So that sounds like you have the same problem over there.
Lynne: Yeah. I mean, what can I say? For me personally, it’s over without a doubt. Just there is no argument, but I know there are people out there who disagree. I won’t begin to try and understand them.
John: Right. Exactly. I think they’re French. There you go. Oh, this is a fun one. Ice cream. I’m a huge ice cream fan. You get ice cream in a cup or in a cone?
Lynne: I usually get cup because it feels less unhealthy. I feel less guilty if I get it in a cup.
John: Right. Sometimes I try and talk ’em into putting the cone on top of the cup so that I get both. It’s not messy, but I still get the calories and the sugar.
Lynne: Will they do that for you?
John: On occasion, yeah. If you ask and you ask nicely.
Lynne: Good call.
John: Yeah. It’s a super-secret bonus. Now, all the ice cream shops are gonna start e-mailing.
Quit telling people ’cause now we have to sell in cups and cones, and we’re running out of supplies. That will be the next world shortage. Ice cream cones. Now, I’m gonna be angry. Yeah. The gas prices is one thing. Ice cream cones, that’s where I’m drawing the line.
Lynne: Oh, I find some wafers— take some wafers in it or something instead. Like I don’t know. Find a KitKat or something.
John: Right. There you go. Here’s a fun one. Planes, trains, or automobiles?
Lynne: Oh, woah. Trains.
John: Yeah. Especially in Europe. You guys have it down.
Lynne: Yeah. Some European countries, absolutely. I’m not sure us quite so much, but I don’t like flying. I’ll be honest. I’ll do it, but I can’t say I enjoy it. I do get nervous. And yeah, if it’s a long journey, you wanna sit on a train and read or do a little bit extra work or life hack, you know, or sleep, or something.
John: Yeah. Absolutely. Plus, there’s a novelty to it. It’s kinda neat. You know, you don’t do it all the time. You know, a car is every day.
Lynne: Yeah. Absolutely. And when you go on holiday, like if you turn up at the station, as soon as you turn up at the station, you’re on holiday. Right? The journey is included in the holiday, I think, for me.
John: Yeah. No, that’s true. That’s an excellent point. Since you have the finance background, balance sheet or income statement?
Lynne: Balance sheet.
Lynne: Yeah. No contest because net worth, right, is more important than income in any particular period. I think worth is much of the better measure of—
John: What’s the total accumulation? Where are we going here?
Lynne: Absolutely. Yeah.
John: All right. How about summer, winter, spring, or fall?
John: Summer. Okay.
Lynne: Yeah. I struggle. It’s contentious because I do get burnt quite easily, but I like being warm. I don’t like being cold. I like being warm though. I like to sit in the shade. Yeah. On a really hot day, sit in the shade, and just be warm, and just breathe. Yeah.
John: Yeah. Yeah. Oh, we got three more. Do you have a favorite number?
Lynne: No, I couldn’t possibly choose. It would be rude to all the other numbers.
John: Especially the cats that like numbers just in case they’re all so listening.
Lynne: Yeah. Don’t make me choose.
John: Right? Fair enough. I won’t make you choose. When it comes to books, audio version, e-Book, or real book?
Lynne: Audio version.
John: Oh, okay.
Lynne: I think I’m all about the life hacks. I love to walk and listen to podcasts. So I’m getting my exercise and I’m getting my mental kind of development as well. Yeah. You can’t walk along holding the book. So yeah, podcast.
John: Plus, you can listen to it at like one and a half speed or two speed, and your brain still processes it, and it’s so much faster than actually reading. But, well, you’re also doing other things at the same time. That’s awesome.
Lynne: Absolutely. You can do your washing up. You can do your walk. You can do whatever you need to do.
John: Totally. And the last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.
Lynne: I’m gonna go favorite thing I have. Not in the ownership sense. I’m gonna be really cheesy and say it’s my husband because he’s the absolute light of my life. I feel like I have my husband, so I’m gonna call him out.
John: Absolutely. So good. Just in case he didn’t turn it off earlier.
John: Totally redeem yourself.
John: That’s so fantastic and super sweet. So, absolutely, that totally counts. Absolutely. So let’s talk jamming and what instruments do you play when you’re jamming?
Lynne: I sing primarily. I’m most comfortable singing, but I play keyboards as well. So quite often, I’ll play keys and sing. I did, last Christmas, surprise everybody, threw a bit of a curve ball in there by taking my cello to jam, which everybody thought— So we like played Christmas songs, which really lent themselves to cello. So I thought, well, I just say that. But yeah, mostly, it’s singing and playing keyboards.
John: Yeah. But I mean, cello, that’s not something you stumble across every day, you know. I mean, I play piano. So it’s like “Oh, okay. There’s people that play piano.” But cello, it’s like “Wait, what?”
Lynne: Yeah. I’m not quite sure how I neither— I started playing piano when I was about 4 and then I somehow started doing cello lessons when I was about 8 or 9. And so, it obviously wasn’t my choice because children that age don’t choose to do anything really. They just do what they’re told. They get sent. Yeah. I got kinda presented with a cello and told to go to lessons, and that was that.
John: But I mean, obviously now that you’re an adult, you still like it. So, you know, it’s, that’s something that brings you joy. And so, did you grow up in a musical household then?
Lynne: My dad was musical, but only sort of by ear. Very intuitive. He always said he didn’t wanna go to lessons. He’d rather go out and play football or, you know, go and watch trains or something. So yeah, he had a good musical ear and just played by ear. Whether there’s genes involved, I don’t know. I find it fascinating the whole thing about whether you’re musical or not. I can’t even begin. If I had more time, I would spend some time looking into why.
John: Yeah. What’s weird to me is like I can play, I can hear things that if they’re out of tune, I can do all that from the instrument side. But to sing, ooh, I’m terrible. I mean, I’m so bad. Like at church, old ladies turn around. They’re like “God still loves you. You don’t have to sing it out loud.” You know, like just lip-synch it. You know, just Milli Vanilli or whatever you wanna do.
Lynne: Actually, fascinating, isn’t it? I don’t understand how people can do what they can do in terms of playing, but I know loads of people who play beautifully, who are great at jams, but don’t sing or won’t sing. And I don’t understand how that is.
John: I don’t know if I need like decades of lessons or something because it’s not a quick fix, but I can hear that it’s off. And it’s like “Mm, this is not good.” But it’s so cool that you could do both. That’s awesome. You have my superpower. If I could have a superpower, that and dunk a basketball. Like that’s all I wish I could do. Singing and dunk a basketball at the same time. Like “Ahhh” and then just. So do you have like some favorite memories either from jamming or from growing up?
Lynne: Yeah, it’s funny actually. So I came through the education system doing music. In this country, you do your GCSEs at 16 and you’re a levels at 18. And I did music for both of those. And it put quite a lot of pressure on it in a way because you can’t get to a perfect kind of standard no matter how much you throw at music. You do it in an educational setting and somebody’s gonna put a scale on it and put numbers on it and say you’re this good, or that good, or whatever. So I found it a challenge from that point of view. And I was in bands, in covers bands, and tribute bands, and function bands, and stuff when I was in my 20s.
And then I kind of went away from music ’cause I was like— I did that because it felt like the natural thing to do with my spare time because music was my thing that I did. When I was about 30, I just kind of drifted away from it and spent about 10 years not doing any music at all on the cello when in the loft and didn’t do anything. And then I had a bit of change of life circumstances and moved sort of somewhere new or back home, actually back to where I was born. And I saw this advert on Facebook for a jam. And I’d never seen anything like that before.
I’d done karaoke periodically once in a while, like once every couple of years or something. You find yourself “Oh, there’s karaoke. I’ll do that.” I was always happy that I found that fun. And so, I saw this jam advert on Facebook and that’s the first one that I went to. And I was absolutely terrified. I kid you not. I was extremely nervous because sort of complicated history with music I would say in terms of that pressure of coming to an education system and rehearsing. And also, when you were in a band, rehearsing and getting it right. I always used to get nervous in bands ’cause I wanted it to be perfect. It’s never perfect.
John: No, that’s the beauty of it.
Lynne: Well, this is it. We jam, all I do. And I’m kind of jumping into how jam works a little bit, but you just rock up, and you do it, and it works or it doesn’t. And sometimes, it doesn’t, but sometimes it’s amazing. There’s no prep. There’s no practicing. It just is this piece of art or this thing on its own. And also, post-COVID, I completely removed all of the sort of nerves, and issues, and baggage surrounding it. And I’m just grateful for it. And I just appreciate it because it turned us around, I think, in terms of our appreciation of simple things and how fragile life. So now, I was so relieved when jam came back after COVID. The various venues started them up again, and I was able to go back and do some more. And now, yeah, I just try. I focus on just pure enjoyment of it and just enjoying the moment. And when it’s going great, just enjoy it, you know.
John: No. I love that mentality. That’s so good. You know, that whole just being in the moment and enjoying it for what it is, and we’re not able to do that at work all the time because we feel the pressure similar to the pressure of music. It’s gotta be perfect. When you’re in finance, and accounting, and law, and a lot of these professional jobs, you can’t miss or we think we can’t miss. We can. If you’re a heart surgeon, okay, maybe then you can’t miss. But everybody else, I mean, what’s the big deal? But we put that pressure on ourselves.
Lynne: Oh, we do.
John: And it’s cool to see that you had that breakthrough, you know, with the jamming that take some of the pressure off. And do you feel like it’s different now? Do you feel like you’re a different performer, different player?
Lynne: Yeah, absolutely. Very much. It’s revelationary really, if that’s a word, to realize that it doesn’t matter, that it doesn’t add anything. To stress about it, it doesn’t improve anything. It doesn’t make you enjoy it more. It’s just negative. Just put it down. Just forget it. Nobody else cares. Nobody else is nervous. Just enjoy it ’cause life is short. Just go on. You got 3 minutes to do a song. You got however many songs you end up doing. Just enjoy them ’cause life’s short.
John: Yeah. No, I love that so much. And I’m curious, the 10 years when you stepped away from music, what was that like professionally? Did it make a difference when you came back to music in your job or when you didn’t have music as part of your life? Did it enhance things or was it just another thing?
Lynne: I think it’s hard to separate the work from the music, from just getting more mature and getting more life experience, and COVID, and all of the other things that have happened. If I don’t take myself back to when I was about 40 and jam started, I’d been through some sort of life experiences and got a different perspective at that time anyway, a really sort of dramatically different perspective on what was important.
And so, that happened at the same time, sort of moved back home and started going to jams. So I’d already got a bit of that change of perspective. I think that it has given me some really valuable things though and some really valuable tools over the last 5 years. And it changed me in a really positive way. I think that I’ve got a much better appreciation of other people and what they can bring to the table because I can’t jam on my own.
John: Right. That’s true.
Lynne: You can sit and play on your own, but you can’t create that experience on your own of just putting a group of people in a room or in a bar and going “Right, these are the chords, go. What do you make of it?” And then being amazed by what they turn that into. In work, I would say back in my sort of 20s, I was much more of an individual contributor I would say, much more self-reliant in work. I was one of those typical people who would only trust themselves to do the thing. You know, those people who say I’ll do it myself, which is how I want it done or whatever.
John: By the time I explain it to you, I could have just done it 10 times.
Lynne: Absolutely. That cliché. I’m completely that person. So I’m a line manager now. And my perspective now is very much how can I enable my team? How can I get the most outta my team? What do I need to do for them to help them? That’s my job, is to get the collective best out of the team and make sure they’re as happy and enabled as they can be. I do think that jam has given me this appreciation of other people and what they bring that is translated into my working life.
John: I love that so much. Like imagine walking in. And the team, you look at them like a jam like “Okay, you’re the guitars, you’re keys, you’re the singer. Here’s the chords and don’t mess it up. Everybody go do your thing. Let’s jam. Let’s do this.” You know? Like how great would that be at work?
Lynne: I could just imagine doing that to my team. And they’d be like “Oh, my God.”
John: She has lost her mind. And she’s talking to some American guy again. Like what the hell is going on?
Lynne: Do you know what’s wrong actually? Is they probably wouldn’t go “Oh, my God.” They go “Yeah, this is not surprising.”
John: Right. What took you so long, Lynne? We’ve been waiting to jam forever.
John: But just that mindset though, if everyone just looked at it as jamming, no pressure. Just stay within the cord and we’re good. And I mean, what a cool place to work, a cool department even within a company. That would be so much fun just to think of it that way. I mean, I love that mindset shift of, you know, everyone’s bringing their own thing and we’re all in it together. Do you feel like talking about jamming, is that something that you do at work? Do people know about this side of you? I mean, clearly, I’m guessing ’cause you were like “What took ’em so long?”
Lynne: Yeah. They do. Yeah. I’ve been quite open about it. And again, I’ve seen a real change in myself somewhere between my 20s and my 40s. because in earlier in my career, I was very back and white about it. And I was like I’m here to work. I’m being paid to work. I’m not being paid to chat.
John: Right. Right.
Lynne: I dunno. I’m gonna possibly come out on your podcast here a little bit ’cause I don’t know whether I’m possibly a little bit on the spectrum on the autism spectrum.
John: Oh, okay. Sure.
Lynne: You know, neurodiversity is cool. And I think that I have a very kind of black and white perspective on things sometimes.
John: Which makes you really good at finance, you know, like really good.
John: But yeah. But I mean, so many people think that way of there isn’t a charge code to get to know people, or we don’t get paid to socialize, or that isn’t my job. And as a manager, as associate director, it’s not my job to make sure my people are living their best life. It’s just my job to make sure they’re getting their work done. And it’s like, well, it’s probably more. It’s actually more than that.
Lynne: Absolutely. This is where I’ve changed so much. I feel now like that was a very individual perspective on things ’cause I’ve kind of watching— So there’s a that I’ve heard about where if you offer a baby like a sweet now or two sweets in 30 seconds time, they’ll take the sweet now or three sweets in 60 seconds’ time and they’ll still take the sweet now. It’s very short term. And as you mature, the idea is that you evolve and you start looking at the long term. And this gets me thinking, well, actually, probably what I should be doing for the company—
Even if you look at it purely from the company’s benefit perspective, what I should be doing is maximizing my long-term contribution to the business for the duration that I’m there. How do I do that? ‘Cause that might not be just work the next minute because, work, that might be take a breather. And actually, the following minute, I’ll work twice as well because actually I’m a human being. I’m not a machine and I needed a breather right then. So I’m now thinking. My possibly slightly autistic self is thinking maybe there’s kind of a curve where we—
We know that there’s a curve. We know that when we work continuously, we do 10, 11, 12, 13 hours, we’re gonna end up spitting out rubbish because we are over time. So there’s got to be a balance there between you can’t just keep on working yourself into the ground. So where’s that balance and what does that involve? And now, I think, yeah, I’ve certainly got to a place these days where I think actually it’s about people.
Every business success is all about people, and people need to be happy to be productive. If they’re not happy, we know if we have arguments with people or something goes wrong, it can affect our sort of motivation and our performance. And so, let’s try and make people happy. And one of the things that people value is social connection. So let’s socially connect as a team and let’s talk about what our ands are and what our fun is because that’s where we come to life a little bit. So, yeah. Hell, yeah, I talk about my hobby now, and I am incredibly delighted that one of my team has just brought a saxophone and started learning saxophone because we talk about it.
John: There you go.
Lynne: She says she’s always wanted to do it. So, shout out to Gabs for taking the leap and I’m thrilled. I honestly couldn’t be happier and I’m so glad that you mentioned it.
John: Get a couple lessons. You can come down to jam as well.
Lynne: Yeah. Oh, well, it’s on her objectives, dude. It’s on her performance objectives. 6 months’ time, she’s coming to jam.
John: That’s great. Her work performance objectives are to come to jam and play. I love that because it absolutely should. You know, that’s the thing. Like when I work with organizations, it’s like why are the coaching, mentoring conversations not starting with your and? Like what is it that lights you up? Tell me about it. And when’s the last time you did it and when’s the next time you’re gonna go do it? You know, like let’s get this on and then we’ll get to the work stuff later certainly, but that stuff matters. And I love that you have that as a performance objective because it matters. If she’s not playing the saxophone or being encouraged to play the saxophone, she’s not as good at work.
Lynne: Yeah, yeah, no, she’s not gonna be as happy. Honestly, she’s lit up. She’s absolutely lit up with this thing. She would cringe I’m talking about her, but yeah, she’s really excited about it.
John: Right. We’ll have her on soon enough. Don’t worry. It’s all good.
Lynne: That actually would be nice. That is in fact—
John: Oh, but that’s so fantastic. I love it so much. And how much do you feel like it’s on the organization to create that space for people to share versus on the individual?
Lynne: Completely. Completely. And yeah, I’ve got a variety of experience of working in different organizations. And I think it’s a lot about size. I think once organizations get really big, you don’t have visibility at the senior leadership in an authentic way. You don’t see them day to day. You know, you just see the vision that they wanna present of what they are and very cultivated and edited. You know, even if they say we want you to be authentic, we want you to have fun, we want you to do whatever, you don’t have a relationship direct with them and you can’t necessarily believe that. And you’ve got a layer of middle management that you’re not sure is entirely invested in that. And so, yeah, you might say that, but does my boss really think that, might immediate—
Lynne: So you’re on the side of caution. Whereas I’ve recently moved jobs into a much smaller organization and the senior leadership totally live it and it makes such a difference. I feel absolutely empowered to just be myself, and have fun, and make jokes, and have a good time at work. And that generates an incredible amount of value, I think.
John: Yeah. And it’s those human connections connecting on the ands and the funnys like you said and like the things like that. That’s where the connection happens. It doesn’t happen because we’re both good at Excel and work in the same department.
Lynne: No. It doesn’t.
John: Like that’s nothing, you know. And so, I love how you’ve created this place. You’re what’s your and come to life.
Lynne: There’s energy. There’s energy with that, you know.
John: Yeah. No, it’s awesome. It’s so cool and so encouraging to hear that I’m not just crazy making things up in a bubble. It’s like “No, no. In the real world, it matters to everybody.” Like just do it. Something that simple.
Lynne: And yeah, like I say, I’m not being all corporate, and cutthroat, and kind of shareholder value about it. Happy people are more productive. It just all works. It’s a virtuous circle, you know.
John: Exactly. I mean, care about your people and good things happen. Like everything good comes from that. And for some reason, we’ve typically built business upside down where care about our people is on accident last and if it happens at all. And it’s like no, no, no, gotta be a priority. And I mean, the one takeaway for everybody is performance reviews include did you do your and? I mean, it’s that simple. That’s it. The objective, the goals for this next 6 months also include something that you enjoy doing. And I love it. That’s so fantastic. This has been so, so great, Lynne, but I feel like it was rude of me to pepper you with so many questions at the beginning. So it’s only fair that I turn the tables and will make this the first episode of The Lynne Titley Podcast.
Lynne: Oh, I know. I know.
John: Right. There you go. So I’m all yours. You’re the host.
Lynne: Cool. All right. Okay. And what I’ve got for you is being a Brit, tea or coffee? I wanna know.
John: Oh, tea. I skipped the coffee train. Like I never got on coffee train. Like I never got it. And I do enjoy tea. So, tea for certain.
Lynne: I didn’t see that coming. I thought it was gonna be coffee. Fabulous. Okay.
John: I’ll surprise you.
Lynne: I’ve got a musical one. Air guitar or air drums?
John: Oh, wow. That’s a good one. That’s a good one ’cause I feel like I’m better at air guitar, but air drums is so fun.
I mean, it’s just like how many symbols do you have 14? You’re like what are you doing over here? I mean, it’s just like an octopus of like “Wow! Like I got symbols on top, symbols behind me. Like I got drums over here and like I got all kinds of—” Yeah. I mean, like I just imagine almost like a double drum kit where it’s just like stuff everywhere. So it’s just so much more fun to just like— Yeah, air drum, I guess.
Lynne: So you’re better at air guitar.
John: Yeah. Oh, Lynne, trust me, I practiced. Well, it’s more realistic. I think the air guitar—It just looks more realistic. But the drums, it’s just like so much. Yeah. You can go nuts with that ’cause, you know, you can’t see my drum kit. You don’t know. Yeah. I do have a bass drum up above me. What’s wrong with that, kids?
Lynne: We totally don’t know. We don’t know. Oh, you’re amazing at air drums, John. Amazing. Okay. This slightly longer. I can explain. You are getting a takeaway with friends, right? Like a Chinese, or a Curry, or something.
John: Oh, yeah.
Lynne: Share or not share?
John: No. No. No. You order what you wanted and I order what I wanted. And if you wanted what I got, you should order that. It’s that simple.
Lynne: You’re hard over on it.
John: Hard no. Hard no. Even if I’m eating with Hugh Jackman, still a hard no. Like hard no on that.
Lynne: Hugh Jackman ain’t getting your curry, dude.
John: Nope. None. Like not at all.
John: Yeah, absolutely. Well, this has been so much fun, Lynne. Thank you so much for being a part of What’s Your “And”?
Lynne: Me too. Loved it. Absolutely loved it. Thanks.
John: Awesome. And everybody listening, if you wanna see some pictures of Lynne jamming or connect with her on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. And 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. So thanks again for subscribing on Apple podcast 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.
Justin is an Attorney & Music Lover & Author
Justin Miller, a Partner & National Director of Wealth Planning for Evercore Wealth Management, talks about his passion for writing children’s novels, how he realized that there needs to be more in your life than work, his work/life balance, and much more!
• Getting into writing children’s novels
• Why it’s important have a hobby outside of work
• Everyone has the credentials
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Welcome to episode 499 of What’s Your “And”? This is John Garrett, and each Wednesday, I interview a professional who, just like me, is known for a hobby or a passion or an interest outside of work. To put it another way, it’s encouraging people to find their “and”, those things above and beyond your technical skills, the things that actually differentiate you when you’re at work.
If you like what the show is about, be sure to check out the book on Amazon, Indigo, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop, a few other websites. All the links are at whatsyourand.com. It goes more in depth with the research 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 you work because of it. If you want to hear me read the book to you, that’s right, this voice reading the book, you can get it at What’s Your “And”? on Audible or wherever you get your audio books.
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, Justin Miller. He’s a partner and national director of wealth planning for Evercore Wealth Management in San Francisco, and now he’s with me here today. Justin, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Justin: All right. Thank you, John. Pleasure to be here. I love the book. I love the podcast. It’s an honor to spend this time with you.
John: Awesome, man. Thank you so much. As a fellow author, you know how hard it is. It’s not something that you do on accident. You’ve really got to want to write a book. That’s for sure. Awesome, man. I’m excited to have you. We’ve got these rapid-fire questions. We’re going to get to know Justin on a new level here. I’ll start you out with probably an easy one. Favorite color.
Justin: Favorite color, easy one, blue. Actually, reminds me of the Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail, where, blue, wait, no, yellow. He falls into the pit. Anyway, blue is my favorite color. Easy question. I think I’m doing well so far.
John: Least favorite color then.
Justin: I am not a fan of orange. Look, I get some people like it. I actually grew up, that was the color of my walls at one point in my home, growing up, so maybe that’s what caused it. Not my favorite color. Blue, green, happy with that.
John: It reminds you of being grounded. It’s like, no. Here’s a tricky one, brownie or ice cream.
Justin: You can tell how I’m going to answer all your questions. As a lawyer, depends, of course on everything. I’m going to answer both, brownie and ice cream. Put the two together and add sugar to it. Add carbs. I’m going to eat it. I will have one rule and that is no nuts in brownies. It’s dessert. I think it should be illegal. No nuts in brownies, but brownies and ice cream together, perfect combination.
John: That’s a trick one. That is the only correct answer. It’s brownie ala mode. That is the correct answer. That’s a good one. I might have to add a new rapid-fire question, nuts or no nuts? That’s awesome, man. I love that. How about a favorite actor or actress?
Justin: Favorite actor or actress, almost depends on what the movie. I’m going to throw out, you’ve got Marlon Brando in The Godfather. You’ve got Jack Nicholson in The Shining.
Justin: If I had to pick just in general, maybe right now, I love comedy, obviously. That’s why I’m a fan of a lot of your work in stand-up.
John: Thanks, man.
Justin: I would go with Jason Bateman. I was just speaking with my wife the other day. I know he plays somewhat of the same character, but we love comedy. He just has this dry… He’s funny, but in a dark way. Whether it’s Arrested Development, Horrible Bosses. We’re watching Ozark right now. He just plays that character. His delivery, how he keeps a straight face, I have no idea. I would say Jason Bateman.
John: Game Night. Game Night’s a movie. It’s still on airplanes, I think. Whoever wrote that is still milking the residuals, so, good for them. Yeah, you’re right, man. He’s fantastic. He’s fantastic. How about a favorite cereal?
Justin: Favorite cereal. I grew up… You can tell how I’m going to answer all your questions. There’s a story involved.
John: I love it.
Justin: First of all, love cereal. I grew up, my dad was a doctor. Back then, there was no problem with sugar, at least the way he was. We weren’t allowed to have salt. Couldn’t eat salt, salt causes… No salt. We didn’t have a salt shaker in the house, but we could eat as much sugar as we wanted. I grew up with six kids in the family. She used to take us to the supermarket. You pick whatever, we had literally in our pantry every sugar cereal you could imagine or want. I grew up, you name it, Honey Combs, Apple Jack, Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
John: This is glorious.
Justin: Cocoa Pebbles, Cocoa Puffs. I grew up that way. Nowadays, of course, our kids, maybe you can have some Cheerios or something like that. Anyway, I will say any sugar cereal. That’s how I grew up. Now I understand that it’s not only bad for you, we wouldn’t even eat it for dessert, blood sugar. It’s a weakness of mine.
John: Mine, too. Frosted Flakes. Even if I’m traveling and I’m at a hotel that has the buffet. They’ll have the little box. I don’t even need to eat this, but I’m going to take the box just because. Then on the flight home, I’ll just eat it dry. I don’t care. It’s still good. It’s still good.
Justin: You’re just like me, John. It’s funny, when I travel a lot for business to see clients, conferences, presentations, the stuff I will eat when I’m out of the house. I would never nowadays go to the store and buy one of these sugar cereals, but somehow it doesn’t seem to count if you’re at the hotel or the conference.
John: Pretty much.
Justin: I don’t think those calories count. Clearly, I have no science background, but for whatever reason, if you’re not at your house, it doesn’t count as far as diets.
John: Right? It was free. Somebody’s got to take it. You feel bad. How about puzzles, Sudoku, crossword or jigsaw puzzle?
Justin: I do all of them. Puzzles, I rarely do. That’s almost like, if I’m with my family, my wife and children, maybe for fun. We’ll do once a year or during the holidays, we’ll do a jigsaw puzzle. I definitely like crosswords. I’m not very good at. I’m not like solving the Sunday New York Times. If I just say what do I do most often, whether it’s just boredom, on the plane, I’m on my phone, maybe most often Sudoku because it’s just something I can do pretty quickly and easily. You can always finish a Sudoku puzzle. There’s always a solution. That’s probably what I do most often.
John: Even if the solution is to act like it doesn’t add up, it doesn’t matter. It’s just fine. I got numbers in all the boxes. We’re done. It’s how I do my taxes actually. No, I’m teasing. How about Star Wars or Star Trek?
Justin: Wow. That is a controversial question. Half the people are not going to like my answer. I’ll start with I like Star Wars. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan, especially a big fan of the earlier, when I grew up, definitely the original Star Wars.
John: Yeah, the first three.
Justin: Yeah. Exactly. Empire Strikes Back, brilliant. If I had to choose between the two, I’m going to go with Star Trek because that’s actually personalities, what I grew up watching with my parents, Captain Kirk and Spock. Let’s be realistic. Spock, huge fan, Vulcan, live long and prosper. Let’s think about it really. I’m a tax person. If you have to think, look, if Spock was not on the SS Enterprise, probably would have been an accountant or tax attorney. Who do you want doing your taxes? Spock or Luke Skywalker? Let’s be realistic. I’m going to go with Star Trek.
John: That’s the best reason I’ve ever heard for Star Trek. That’s hilarious. Maybe this one since you have the law of background, Suits or Law and Order?
Justin: I never really got into Suits. I saw a couple episodes. I don’t even like wearing a suit. I was so happy when we didn’t have to wear ties anymore. Law and Order, just the music, just the beginning of it, you know you’re there.
John: Yeah, exactly.
Justin: I’ll go with the Law and Order over Suits.
John: That totally works. How about your computer, more of a PC or a Mac?
Justin: I’m in the corporate world, so we’re all PCs. Don’t get me wrong. Full disclosure, I have an iPhone. I know I work here in San Francisco in Silicon Valley, so we’ve got a lot of tech and engineers that would hate that answer. They’re all Android. Other, though, than the iPads and iPhones, full PC computers in my house.
John: Me, too. Same. Same. How about a favorite ice cream flavor?
Justin: Favorite ice cream flavor.
John: Because I’m an ice cream junkie.
Justin: I don’t know if you can tell by now my issues with food and sugar.
John: No. I feel like we’ve been cousins for a long time.
Justin: I love ice cream. Here’s the irony. I am lactose intolerant, but it doesn’t matter. I will still eat. I’m talking about, forget about those health concerns. I’ll take a Lactaid pill. I love ice cream. It’s sort of a dichotomy. I go the spectrum. As far as my basic flavor, I go to, I’m a vanilla guy. I love Breyer’s Natural Vanilla, just very pure vanilla. On the other hand, I do like some of the fancier flavors. Out here in the Bay Area, we have a place called San Francisco Creamery. They have this flavor. It’s golden or it’s caramel golden Oreo ice cream or whatever. I would never eat a dozen golden Oreos. It’s just there would never be a time, but if you crumble up a dozen golden Oreos and put it into ice cream and add caramel, I will eat that all day long.
John: That’s funny. I never thought of that before. If you took all the parts out of the ice cream and set them all out, and we’re like, you’re going to eat all of this. What? I would never eat any of that. Put them all together, totally. I’ll have the biggest pint you’ve got. What are we doing? That’s awesome, man. I love that. How about your first concert?
Justin: First concert. Oh, that takes me back. First real big concert as a teenager I went to, was Rush.
Justin: I put classical guitar as my main instrument. I also used to play electric bass, jazz, rock, funk, you name it, just because I use both hands and fingers, not a real pick guy. A big fan of bass, Geddy Lee, Rush. I don’t know if there’s any bass fans listening to this, but opening for Rush was Primus, Les Claypool of Primus.
John: What? Oh, my Lord.
Justin: If anyone’s a fan of bass, this was the bass lover’s dream. Anyway, that was my first big concert, Primus opening up for Rush. Neil Peart doing his drum solos was incredible. I will add though, just because you brought it up, concerts and first ones, but I’ll also share just because it’s sentimental for me. First concert with my wife actually was, we met while we were both at Berkeley together, undergrads, and our first concert together, this was back in ‘94, ‘95 at the Greek Theatre, open theatre in Berkeley; Dave Matthews Band. They only had one big album at the time. They basically played their album and just jammed, jammed for the entire time, just holding a few songs. That might not have been my first concert, it was my first concert with who is now my wife. That was probably my favorite concert.
John: That’s super cool. I’m a huge concert guy as well. They’re so great. So great. Primus, that was like, My Name is Mud, right?
Justin: Yeah. Jerry Was a Race Car Driver, Tommy the Cat. What he was able to do — don’t get me wrong. He’s not for everyone. If any of you are not bass players, promise, you might judge me for that. What he was able to do with bass, let alone sing over it. He didn’t just strum, the tapping, really legendary in the world of bass.
John: Absolutely. How about a favorite Disney character?
Justin: Wow. Especially now there’s so many to choose from.
John: Or any animated character really, I’ll take. It doesn’t matter.
Justin: It’s funny. Off the top of my head, you bring up Disney, I would say there’s the classic Mickey Mouse, of course. I’m sure everyone, probably, just that’s the first thing I think of Disney. I’m actually probably more of a Donald Duck guy, if I really think about how I grew up classic now. What I will say though is, if you would probably ask anyone else what they thought about me and who my favorite character would be, you ask family or friends, you know me from Twitter and Linkedin; I bet you most people would guess Goofy. There’s a reason.
John: Also good.
Justin: There’s a reason I’m not a stand-up comedian or entertainer. My jokes, full disclosure, not the best jokes. They’re mostly somewhat related to tax, but Goofy.
John: It doesn’t matter. It’s all relative, man, and you’re having fun. That’s all good. It’s all good. How about, since you have the accounting background here, balance sheet or income statement.
Justin: That’s easy for me. Once again, I know accountants may have a different answer, especially depending, tax or audit. For me, balance sheet. That is the first place I start with every single client, from a wealth management perspective. The reality is every company should have a balance sheet. That’s a given. As far as I’m concerned, every individual, every family should have a personal balance sheet. What are your assets? What are your liabilities? What’s your net worth? From there, we can build out cash flow and income and portfolio. It all starts, for me, balance sheet, first place to start from a wealth and financial planning perspective.
John: That’s awesome, man. Very interesting. How about, we’ve got four more, more of an early bird or a night owl.
Justin: My wife would tell you. I’m an early bird. I wake up in the morning. Sometimes my alarm doesn’t even need to go off. 5:30, I just pop up. I’m ready. I get going. You brush teeth. Do a quick little workout. I’m off to work. I’m going in the morning. 8:45, 9:00, I just start falling asleep. By the way, I wasn’t always like this. This is me close to 50. In college, my excuse, I’ll give you my excuse. This is the way I explain it. Went to law school in New York; got my LLM, JD, both from NYU; great experience in New York. By the way, this is back in the late ‘90s. I haven’t been really back other than some short visits. I don’t think I ever adjusted to the three-hour time change.
John: You’re still East Coast.
Justin: I’m still East Coast time. Waking up at 5:00, I feel like I’m waking up pretty late. By 9:00, that’s midnight in New York. That’s the reason maybe I’m an early bird. I just think, after that New York experience, I never adjusted back to West Coast time.
John: That’s funny. On New Year’s Eve, you’re like, we’re just going to do the New York New Year’s Eve and then call it midnight, and we’re going to bed.
Justin: I wish. If I could. I love watching the ball drop at 8:59pm, West Coast time. That is actually the one time of the year that, my wife asks very little of me, she’s the best, but very little, and just the one thing she asks for is stay up with her on New Year’s Eve. At least stay up. I can go to bed at 12:01. She’s totally fine with that. I prepare. I take a nap.
John: I was going to say, yeah, there’s that.
Justin: I get an afternoon cup of coffee. I’m ready to go. I’m pumped up every New Year’s Eve. That’s all she wants is company, all the way to the real West Coast midnight.
John: That’s awesome, man. That’s so great. How about a favorite number?
Justin: Favorite number. This might be the last time I’m invited back. I’m going to bring up, are we talking irrational number, rational?
John: You know what? I’ll take any number.
Justin: I’ll answer both.
John: Let’s go irrational. I love it.
Justin: I’ll give you both. My favorite irrational number, we’re going to have to go with PI, clearly back to my eating and bad diet theme. I love pie. No. Certainly, I just think it’s really cool number. It just keeps on going 3.1415926, on and on and on. Irrational, we’re going to stick with PI. Rational number, very, very close. I’m a big fan of three, my lucky number. If you do any research on it or really think about it, you’ve heard the saying, good things come in threes, or the rule of three. Thatt goes back to Latin and all that stuff. The reality though is three really is, to me, the perfect number. I do a lot of presenting and tax. How do we break things down for clients, for accountants, for attorneys? If you have a PowerPoint and you want to make a point across, you really should limit it to three bullet points. People can remember three. You can count to three. The reality is, after an hour, if you can have three takeaways, it’s very, very successful. Just think of where three comes up. We’ve got the Constitution, life, liberty, pursuit of happiness. Those are three things. We’ve got Goldilocks and how many bears? There weren’t four or six. There were three bears. What about how many little pigs were there? There were three little pigs. How many wishes do you get with the genie? It’s three, three wishes.
John: Unless you wish for more wishes, then you get.
Justin: Oh, but there are always those rules. Even, look, by the way, I think it’s actual. I’ll give you my conspiracy and universal theories. Where is the Earth in relation to the sun? We are the third planet from the sun. I think there’s some cosmic universal reason why three is my favorite number.
John: Yeah. You have convinced men. That’s solid, man. Three legged stools, all that stuff. That’s impressive. How about when it comes to books, audio version, e-book or real book?
Justin: Let’s see. I have two answers to everything. You can tell this is training as a lawyer. I really like real books. I’m old school. I love the feel. That’s the way I was brought up. It’s tradition. It feels better. There’s just that sense, but the reality is, in this day and age, I do read a lot, and it’s electronic books. I have a Kindle, or iPad so you can read it with the Kindle app.
Justin: It’s so easy to do electronic. I can just load up a few books. I don’t have to worry. Oh gosh, I travel a lot. I think of the olden days when I used to have a big heavy hardback book or something like that that I took out. I had to bring out a bigger suitcase just to fit in my book. Now I can have my book I’m reading. I have the next book. If I go on vacation, I can have two or three. Definitely, the electronic is my go-to. I miss real books. Audio, I haven’t really gotten into audio. I see the appeal, but for me, I prefer reading.
John: Absolutely. Same, same for me. The last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.
Justin: Favorite thing I have, well, favorite thing I have is probably a family, very close family.
John: Oh, sure, just in case they’re listening.
Justin: My wife, if she hears this, and kids, put them in that as well, parents, sisters, all that. No. Favorite thing I own, it’s funny, we’re talking right now in the morning. I’m looking at my coffee mug, and my coffee is probably pretty high on my list. No, but actual thing I own, I’m probably going to have to go with my iPhone. The reality is when I think of, what do I use the most? What do I keep with me for work purposes, for personal purposes, if I were stranded? Certainly a laptop is important. I can log in, but I can do think so quickly, most of my job, personal, all that stuff that I can keep in contact. I would be lost, I think, without it. I’ve had it before where I accidentally dropped my phone, and it broke. Oh, panic sets in. I have my own psychological issues. I can maybe make it a couple of days without a laptop. I can borrow. I can login from someone else’s. My phone, I live off that phone.
John: No, that’s a solid answer. Solid answer. Let’s talk writing children’s novels. The one that just came out, The Mysterious Mystery Man, which of course was the follow up to The Super Secret Special Powers Club, which is a mouthful. Kids are going to be really good at tongue-twisters, that are fans of Justin Miller’s writing. What’s your favorite book? Well, you’ve you got to be able to say it before you can actually get it. How did this come about, just the writing side of you, the children’s novels?
Justin: Oh, gosh. How did it really start for me? I have two children. My daughter, at this point, she’s a freshman in college. She’s going to UCLA. My son’s, now, he’s in high school, but this was all the way back when my daughter was in first grade. She was just getting into reading. My wife and I, we both love reading. We wanted to share that and encourage her. Up until that time, I volunteered. Even before she was in first grade, one of the things I do for volunteer is go to schools, often inner city schools, Read Across America and other programs, where I would go into the schools, and I would read books to the students. It was something I enjoyed. I think the students enjoyed it. The teachers liked it. Someone in a business suit coming, and it’s just somebody new. It gets the kids energized.
One of the things I realized though, especially around first grade, second grade, is that I was reading some of these books to the children and then I was reading the books that my daughter was just starting to read. These are your first real chapter books. You’re first, second grade. You’re getting to your real long books with chapters, no more picture books. The problem was I didn’t like a lot of those books. I was thinking, to be honest, no wonder she wasn’t excited about reading. Don’t get me wrong. There are a lot of great books. The problem was, and here’s where I saw the problem when she was in first grade, and that is, she had seen all the movies for Harry Potter. She loved Harry Potter. You’ve got Percy Jackson and Richard Riordan and all that, and JK Rowling. The problem was, as an early reader for your first chapter books, she wasn’t at the level to read a Harry Potter or a Percy Jackson, but she could appreciate the movies. In first, second grade, you can certainly watch a movie and love it, but it’s too hard to read.
One of the things I wanted to do, and that’s what inspired me was, you know what? I’m going to write a book. I’m going to try to write a good story, but I’m going to write it at a level that someone in first or second grade with the dialogue, with the — and maybe that’s just my verbal language skills and grammatical ability is pretty much the first or second grade novel writing, but without using too big of words. We can keep the words somewhat simple, so I started writing. Ever since my kids were little, I used to just make up stories at night, and they used to love it. I said, I’m going to just start writing these down. In first grade, that’s really where I got started. It was to get her interested and excited in reading.
John: Good for you, man.
Justin: I give my wife all the credit. She’s the one. She’s like, you’ve got to make this into a book. Put these stories down. Of course, I have a full-time, more than a full-time job, very, very busy, but getting back into your book and podcast, What’s Your “And?, we all need hobbies in life. We’ve got to do something other than just work all the time. That’s when I started writing it down and actually putting it on paper. Eventually, it became my first book, Super Secret Powers Club.
John: I love it, man. I wanted to write something that I liked, for my kids. Good for you. Good for your wife to encourage you to publish it. Why not? Get it out in the world. Let other people read it to their kids or other kids being able to read it. That’s going to be super rewarding when you just throw it out there. Then people you don’t even know are reading the book now and writing their Amazon review or things like that. We were joking earlier. No one gives you a review on your tax returns or your wealth management work. Here’s five stars.
Justin: At this point, I’ve written dozens, dozens of tax articles. I’m very proud of them. A lot of lawyers and accountants, maybe even some clients have read these articles, and they’ve been in Trust and Estates Quarterly, Tax Notes, California Tax Lawyer, in California Trust and Estates. You name it. They’ve been published all over, but, like you said, nobody’s ever come up to me and said, Justin, can I get your autograph? Can you sign? This thing on non-grantor trust was just brilliant. Oh, my God, we’re reading it together as a family. Oh, I should, full disclosure.
John: Reading it together as a family.
Justin: I will give full disclosure, my books have nothing to do with tax. The word tax is not even mentioned. It is completely different than anything I do during my day, totally just a side project. Nothing to do… The reality is I do have a lot of friends. I have clients, clients that their kids or their grandkids, and they’re so excited. It’s not, we’ve done this brilliant wealth plan, and our investment returns are amazing; but the conversation might turn into how much their grandchild is enjoying. They might even be reading the book to the grandchild. In a meeting, they’ll take pictures with me to show their — nobody has ever asked for a picture of me in a tax conference.
John: It’s so great though. It humanizes you. There’s another dimension to you. There’s a lot of people that can give wealth management advice and tax planning and things like that, but to do that and write these books, is cool. You’re the only one or there are maybe three. I don’t know. Someone else listening, no, I do too. Okay, good. Come on. It’s just a cool thing. It’s gotta be, I don’t know, a more interesting conversation or a more energizing conversation.
Justin: It’s funny you bring that up. I know you covered in your book as well. When you have an “and”, when you do something outside of work, and I’m no different than most people; at first, it wasn’t that I was embarrassed to share it. This was my little pet project. It was something I did on the side. I was brought up old school. We all learn from our mentors and boss, and they learned from their mentors and their — when I started as an associate straight out of school, you want to give the impression that your entire life is just working. The way you’re trained was clients and prospects. They don’t want to know that you do anything else other than their work, not even other people’s work. All you could do is work.
The reality is I do work a ton. Morning through night, I work weekends. I’m passionate about it. I love what I do. I love tax. Fortunately, I get paid for it as well. I do work a lot, but the reality is, exactly what you just said, is, it’s not enough to just be good. In fact, I would even say at this point, you need to be excellent. There are a lot of good wealth managers, good accountants, good attorneys. You need to be excellent at what you do. I would start with that as a premise. There are a lot of excellent advisors out there. What makes you different? It’s that humanizing element. It shouldn’t be something that you’re embarrassed about. Get clients, prospects, they should know you as a person. They have their own hobbies and passions, even if it’s just hanging out with your kids, watching softball games, whether it’s knitting, whether it’s baking. For me, it’s writing children’s novels.
Now nobody is going to question that I’m dedicated to my job. You can look at my credentials and resumes and how much I work. Clearly, this is my job. Just a full disclosure, I get about 72 cents a copy from my books. Maybe I can buy half a cup of coffee. I’m not retiring and leaving my profession to become a children’s novelist. I love to do it. It’s a pastime. It’s something I do on the side. It’s a conversation topic. Similar to some of the stories I’m sure you have, where, that’s where clients and prospects, they’ll remember me, not just as, oh, this brilliant tax guy I met in this wonderful wealth management firm, but not only do they know that I have a side project, that I have a passion outside of work, that I’m human.
I’ll give you the secret to success really is we approach everything as a team. We’re very team-based organization. It’s the model I like that, it’s not just me as the tax person. We have a dedicated portfolio manager, dedicated wealth advisors. Not only do we work really hard, we’re passionate, we really take pride in client service like other people, but I also know the “ands” of the other people on my team. It shows that we know each other. We like each other. I can say, So-and-So, they just spent this last, they love sailing, and someone over here, they do X, Y or Z. Even if the client or prospect has totally different passions, it gives us something to talk about. It establishes a connection. I think that is so valuable. Number one, I’d say you still have to be excellent at what you do. That’s the premise. First priority, be excellent at what you do, but this is a differentiator. Be human.
John: I love that so much, man. Because we’re all good at our jobs. Especially computers have leveled out the playing field a lot. You work hard. You get these degrees. You pass the bar. You pass the CPA exam. You walk in. You think you’re all that, and everyone’s, well, welcome. We all have that too. Oh, crap. I worked this hard to get to where everyone’s already at? What? Then all of a sudden, these little things outside that are just fun, that just light you up, that bring you joy, and you talking about them also brings joy. Talking about work is sometimes joy, but sometimes it’s work. Talking about music or children’s novels, always awesome. It’s never not great.
Justin: It’s such a hard transition, especially young people that are just getting started and even some of the older old school way of looking at it. Like I said, my premise is you’ve got to be excellent at what you do. The other thing is you’ve got to make it clear that this is a hobby. This is something for fun. Oftentimes, not only are you not making money off it, oftentimes these things cost you money.
Justin: Whether hiking or sailing. You’ve got to make the client comfortable you’re not going to leave them to try to give up your job and pursue this. It does make you human. The reality is, actually even with not just clients, prospective clients, other advisors, this could even be with some of the more senior people you work with. Frankly, it should be on the senior people getting to know each other on a personal level. One of the partners I work with, he plays keyboard in a band. That’s so cool. I’m bass and guitar. He has a life out side of the office. I think young people coming up need to know it. These people that seems so scary, these partners and managing directors, they have lives too. Yes, it seems they’re working all the time, and a lot of them are. Really the ones that don’t have an “and”, the ones that don’t have a passion, that’s where you see a problem. How are they ever going to retire? How do they ever transition? It’s important. It makes you a better person, a full complete person. I think that it makes you better with colleagues and with clients.
John: I agree totally, man. Thank you so much for recognizing that and seeing it in the real world. Because it’s not just my little make-believe bubble, Utopia world where it’s, but it’s true. The fact that these people have these outside-of-work hobbies and passions, and then letting people see that side of you, especially co-workers and colleagues. It’s hard to remember when you were 22 and coming out of school, scared about everything and just modeling whatever behavior’s in front of you. I guess that’s what I’ve got to do to be successful. Oftentimes it happens, I find, across horizontally, like a partner group. Yeah, we all know each other. Yeah, but does the staff or the senior associate know you? It’s gotta go vertical as well. Because I think it’s important that people see that we’re working so we can live. We all are. If anyone says that they’re not, they’re lying. They’re lying to themselves. They’re lying to everyone around them. You’re working so you can live. That’s why you’re doing this.
Justin: I agree in general with you, but if you talk to my wife, she’d probably say, Justin, he’s doing what he’s doing for free. I’m a weird guy, clearly. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I was five years old, and I want to be a tax attorney one day. Now that I’m doing it, I certainly love what I do, but the reality is there are things I love, other than work. There are things I enjoy. The other thing, and it’s a really hard thing even for me to overcome that world, especially being mentored and knowing the people that came before me, of being able to be public and sharing those kinds of things and opening up to people, which has been great. Something that you cover in your book, What’s Your “And”?, it’s also something my wife has coached me on, over the years.
My default for my office, especially now that we’re on Zoom where people can see your background. Before it was just, you’re in your office and you do conference calls, and maybe some co-workers see what’s in your office. You’d have your deal toys and your awards and your certificates and credentials. Don’t get me wrong. At this point, I’ve got diplomas and all kinds of honors. I could fill up a wall with it. Really from my warped sense of how I was brought up in the professional world, that’s how I was planning. Oh, I’m going to put up 12 different frames behind me. What a cool Zoom background. Then I have, you covered in your book, and my wife came to me and she said, “Justin, this isn’t a dentist’s office. They’ve already seen your bio. They’ve already realized. You’ve proven yourself. There’s no doubt of what you do, with your background and experience. They don’t need to see that behind you. You’ve got all these other things you’re interested in. How are you going to connect — and whether it’s their passion or a different passion, why not share some of you?
One of the things we came up with, I still have my awards up on a shelf and that kind of stuff, but it’s a shelf. Instead, I put up one of the things — I love, music, so I took some of my favorite records. We got a little frame for them. Behind me, instead of having these certificates and awards and all that, we’ve got some awesome cool frames. I don’t even know if a lot of people know what records are nowadays. My kids certainly do. That’s how I was brought up, with music. That’s how I first started listening. I still have some of those original records. Not that I listen to them on the record player anymore, although I do like records, but now I got them framed. It’s a conversation piece at least. Even if you don’t like the same music as me, now we have something to talk about and connect on, beyond tax.
John: Also too, when you’re not on Zoom, you see them, and you’re like, oh yeah, that brings me joy. Those are cool things. It’s a can opener for someone to be like, hey what are these? What’s this all about? No one’s asking about your degrees. What certificate is this, or what award is this? No one has ever asked that ever. You get questions on the other stuff. That’s so cool to hear, man. It’s great that you did that. You didn’t get fired. No one looks down on you. No clients are leaving. All the lies that we tell ourselves. If I show some of these, what’s going to happen? Well, the sky is going to fall. No, the opposite happens. Awesomeness. I love that. That’s so cool. I feel we should wrap this up, but I feel it’s only fair that I turn the tables, since I so rudely peppered you with questions at the beginning of the episode, that we make this the Justin Miller podcast. It’s all yours. Whatever questions you’ve got, man, I’m all ready for it.
Justin: Now we get to open it up to the world of John Garrett. Here are random questions to throw at you. Clearly, if you’ve seen any theme throughout this, I’ve got a food problem, especially junk foods. I’m going to turn it over now to, John, what’s your favorite dessert?
John: Oh, man. That’s impossible. All of them, the sugary ones. I’ve seen you at the meetings. We’re both in Sugars Anonymous or whatever it’s going to be called. Favorite dessert, man, ice cream is solid, but it’s got to be with a brownie or chocolate cake as well. It’s like chocolate cake, probably cake with ice cream is always good. Cake, here’s the thing. When I grew up, we only had cakes at birthdays. All of a sudden, you become an adult, and you’re shopping in the grocery store. I look over at a box of cake mix is three bucks. You could make a cake every week for five bucks, all in, icing, eggs, whatever. Every house, if I run for any office, political, it’s every house gets free cake every week. Then we all have all the diseases that come with it. But cake, it’s so good in ice cream. That would be my favorite dessert. I combine them, but I feel it comes on a plate.
Justin: You don’t even have to bake it out of the box. You can go to the grocery store, and they have slices. You just pick it up fully baked.
John: You’re right. Actually, you don’t even have to make it. That’s a good point.
Justin: I’ve never met a carb I didn’t like. Actually, this is what’s nice about, let me tell you, getting back to in-person conferences, because one of my biggest complaints about these Zoom conferences is the snacks. Where are snacks? Where’s my carb? I might have to buy a new belt once we start get back to in-person conferences.
John: Totally. Totally. Get that elastic waistband suit pants like the jeans, stretchy jeans.
Justin: If we have time, how about one more question?
Justin: Here we go.
John: It’s your show man. I’m just the guest.
Justin: I’ve taken over. Final question for the John Garrett. We know you’re an entertainer, comedian. You’ve done so much stuff. I’m going to guess it’s a comedy in here, but I could be wrong. What is your favorite TV show or movie?
John: Oh, wow. Yeah. Probably, Rudy is going to be up there, just because the Notre Dame connection.
Justin: You should give that full, guess where John went to school. Notre Dame.
John: Even if I just hear the music, I’m going to get emotional. Probably Dumb and Dumber is always good. You don’t even have to watch the whole thing. You can jump in the middle and then catch a scene or two and then leave, and it’s still hilarious. It’s not like you have to catch the good part. Dumb and Dumber, or Ace Ventura, also so good.
Justin: You’re clearly a Jim Carrey fan. I’m seeing a pattern here.
John: I love Jim Carrey. I love Jim Carrey till the end of the world. Then probably Goodwill Hunting is also a solid one, if I had to go semi-drama, I guess. Those would be, if I had to pick movies, it would be, all right, those are all pretty solid.
Justin: I’m with you. Great choices.
John: Okay. Good.
Justin: You passed, John. You are great on your own show. Let me tell you. You’ve been a wonderful guest, John. Thank you.
John: Now back to John. Here we go. Justin, thank you so much for being a part of What’s Your “And?” It’s been so much fun having you be here. Thank you.
Justin: All right. My pleasure. I can’t wait to hear this and all your other podcasts. Once again, for those of you that haven’t read the book, I really mean this. It is a fantastic book. We should all try to incorporate this into our lives, into our professional and personal lives. What’s Your “And”? by John Garrett. Such a pleasure to be with you today. I hope you enjoyed the podcast.
John: People listening, if you want to see some pictures of Justin outside of work, his book covers, maybe connect with him on social media or the links to the book, especially the new one, The Mysterious Mystery Man, all the links are at whatsyourand.com. You can go there and get everything. While you’re on the page, please click the big button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture, and don’t forget to check out What’s Your “And”?, as Justin said, on Amazon or Barnes and Noble or all the other sites where also Justin’s books are.
Thanks again for subscribing on Apple podcast 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.
Beau is a Software Integration Engineer & Musician
Beau Osland talks about his passion for playing music, how it affects his relationships to clients and co-workers in the office, and much more!
• Getting into music
• Skills that playing music has given him in the office
• Talking about music at work
• How both the individual and the organization can provide a space for people to be themselves in the workplace
Please take 2 minutes
to do John’s anonymous survey
about Corporate Culture!
Pictures of Beau Performing
- Read Full TranscriptOpen or Close
Welcome to episode 491 of What’s Your “And”? This is John Garrett, and each Wednesday, I interview a professional who, just like me, is known for a hobby or a passion or an interest outside of work. To put it another way, it’s encouraging people to find their “and”, those things above and beyond your technical skills, the things that actually differentiate you when you’re at work.
If you like what the show is about, be sure to check out the book. It’s on Amazon, Indigo, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop, a few other websites. All the links are at whatsyourand.com. If you want me to read 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. The book goes more in depth with the research 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 now listening to it and 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, Beau Osland. He’s a senior partnerships analyst integrations with FindHelp in Denver, Colorado, and now he’s with me here today. Beau, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Beau: Thanks, John. Yeah, excited to be here.
John: Yeah, this is going to be a blast. I’m so excited. I have 17 rapid-fire questions, though, get to know Beau right out of the gate here. Maybe I’ll start with an easy one, Star Wars or Star Trek?
Beau: Oh, okay. Let’s Go Star Wars, and admittedly, haven’t really seen much of either.
John: Okay. Fair enough. Fair enough.
Beau: A little bit of each.
John: Yeah, I haven’t seen much since the original three.
John: I haven’t heard great things about Star Wars since then, so I’m like, I don’t want to ruin it, sort of thing. How about your computer, more of a PC or a Mac?
John: I was going to say I would imagine.
Beau: Yeah, Mac for more of my music and production and then PC more for work and software development.
John: Exactly. Yeah. That’s impressive, man. I can barely do PC, so we’re good. Oh, this will be a fun one. Your first concert.
Beau: First concert was Fastball, actually, and Matchbox Twenty, I think.
John: Yes, I totally remember Fastball. Yeah. Oh, my goodness. Wow, that’s going back. Okay. That’s fantastic. All right. How about ice cream, more in a cup or a cone?
Beau: I love ice cream and always, but cone is nice.
John: Cone. Yeah, a little extra sugary, extra calories, whatever it is.
John: How about a favorite movie of all time?
Beau: Let’s see. I’ll give two answers for this as well.
John: Yeah, totally.
Beau: Home Alone 2, Lost in New York. I love that movie for some reason, a lot of sentimental value. It’s always been big in my family for some reason, so, love that. I’ve always loved Big Fish as well, Tim Burton.
John: Yeah, totally. Okay. How about puzzles, Sudoku, crossword or jigsaw puzzles?
Beau: I’m going to go Sudoku. I play a lot of that.
John: There you go. How about a favorite color?
Beau: Kind of go back and forth between blue and green, lately, liking green.
John: Okay. Yeah. Two solid answers. Absolutely. How about a least favorite color?
Beau: Brown, boring.
John: That’s by far the most popular least favorite. I don’t know. I just contradicted myself in some way, but brown’s always, yeah. It’s like the dark brown just ugh. Yeah, totally. Are you more of a talk or text?
Beau: Text. Generational perhaps. Yeah.
John: And the IT side of you. You’re like, yeah, let’s just get to the chase here.
John: Do you have a favorite actor or actress?
Beau: I don’t think I do, actually.
John: Fair enough. Yeah. I like them and dislike all of them the same. There you go. This is a fun one that somebody threw on me a while ago, and I thought I’d spring it on you, socks or shoes?
Beau: Oh, wow. Socks. I love wearing nice comfy wool socks around the house, year-round, unless it’s too hot.
John: Exactly. Socks can get super fun with all the designs and like, who knows what’s on there? You see somebody wearing pants or a suit, and then all of a sudden you see their socks. You’re like, whoa, party going on. All right. All right. What’s a typical breakfast?
Beau: Typical breakfast for me, banana, always like having a banana, and then a cup of cold brew and then kind of rotate through maybe making a couple of eggs or a bowl of cereal. I love cereal still in my 30s.
John: Maybe I’ll throw this one in there then, what’s the favorite cereal of all time?
Beau: Favorite cereal of all time, Life cereal.
John: Oh, really? Okay.
John: All right. Mikey likes it. Nice. There you go. How about a favorite number?
Beau: Favorite number, 15 and 11.
John: Okay, okay. Are there reasons?
Beau: I played basketball growing up and was always number 15. I was always a huge Nuggets fan. When Carmelo Anthony joined the team, it kind of furthered my love for number 15. Now, Nicola Jokic on the Nuggets who’s 15, so that’s my answer there. 11 has always been a lucky number. I was born on the 11th, so always like that, too.
John: Plus, there are two ones. What’s better than one? Two ones. It’s right there. How about your books, audio version, e-book or real book?
Beau: I will go with audio book.
Beau: Yeah. I have a hard time focusing when I’m reading books and end up having to reread the pages, so I tend to like listening more, auditory.
John: Yeah, that makes sense. That makes sense. We’ve got two more. Summer, winter, spring or fall.
Beau: Fall, favorite time of year, favorite weather when it’s starting to get cooler, but still some longer days than winter.
John: Exactly. I’m a huge fan, fall it is, absolutely. The last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.
Beau: Favorite thing I own is probably the first guitar that I bought with my own money.
Beau: It’s probably the longest guitar that I still have after all these years and is the main one I like to play.
John: Yeah. What kind of guitar is it?
Beau: It’s a Fender Telecaster.
John: Okay. Yeah.
Beau: Yeah. Vintage white.
John: There you go. That’s awesome, man, which leads in perfectly into music. How did you get started with this? Was it playing the recorder in fourth grade, type of thing, like me, or something different?
Beau: Yeah, I’ve been playing music almost my whole life. My mom was a musician, and my parents felt strongly that us kids, me and my two older sisters, should start learning piano at an early age. I started piano lessons at five, and always loved singing before then and after then. In school, started playing the trumpet and recorder as well, not in that order.
John: Right. That’s awesome. The trumpet was mainly the instrument and then piano at home, I guess?
Beau: Exactly. Yep. Then took piano lessons for about five years. I always wanted to play guitar, though, even since I was a toddler, watching MTV, all the grunge bands and music videos. I remember getting picked up from school one day, and it was the day of my piano lesson. My mom said, “You’re going to guitar lessons now. Piano lessons are no more.” I was ecstatic.
John: You’re the coolest mom ever. This is great. I grew up playing piano as well, and I remember, we moved, because my dad was in the Air Force. When we moved overseas, I was playing the theme song for Cheers and the Pink Panther and songs like that in elementary school. Then I moved, and the new teacher wanted to do like classical. That’s when I stopped playing the piano because I’m like, these aren’t fun. Looking back, I probably should have stayed with it. I picked it up since, because now there’s the internet, and you can just Google songs and get the music and pay for it. That’s awesome, switched over to guitar and then ever since then, it’s been just super fun, I’d imagine.
Beau: Yeah. Kind of self-taught a lot of other instruments after playing guitar for several years, but that’s still my favorite and true musical love.
John: Yeah. That’s awesome. Do you have some favorite memories from performing, whether it’s piano or even trumpet or guitar?
Beau: Yeah, I have a lot of great memories, mostly on guitar, I think.
John: Sure. I would imagine.
Beau: I remember I had a high school band called For Love of Ivy, also based in Denver. We got to play a couple of really awesome shows, and those are probably to my better musical memories, to date.
John: Very cool.
Beau: We got to play 93.3’s big gig one year.
John: Oh, yeah. Huge.
Beau: When I was 16 or 17.
Beau: It was the year Paramore and The Offspring were the headliners, so that was pretty awesome. The other that comes to mind is the first time I ever played a sold-out concert also with that same band as an opener for another local band from Fort Collins called Tickle Me Pink. That was pretty amazing. That’s what I wrote my college essays about was that show.
John: Denver’s got a lot of, or Colorado, I guess, has a lot of really great music, just bands that a lot of people have heard of, coming out of here, and a lot of people with music on the radio and Spotify and everything now. I guess it’s not just the radio. That’s got to be a cool feeling too, is just, you’re driving along and then your song comes on. You’re like, that’s cool. A radio station you listen to as a kid.
Beau: Yeah, yeah, definitely, very true. It’s always a dream. That is pretty amazing.
John: Yeah. That’s the goal. It’s like, alright, that’s pretty cool. That’s awesome. You’ve gotten to work with other artists as well, beyond Pandas and People, which is the current band for everyone to look up. You’ve gotten to do some other projects as well.
Beau: I have, yeah. I was actually a founding member of the band, Air Dubai, as well, as their first synth player, a good chance to get back into keyboard and synth, and ended up having to leave that band when I did go off to school. Then I previously lived in Wisconsin for several years and played in a number of groups around there, and played in the Midwest. I’ve always been a big solo performer, too.
John: That’s cool, man. It’s great. With guitar, there’s a lot of opportunities there for that. That’s awesome, man. Do you feel, at all, music gives you a skill that you bring to work?
Beau: I do. Yeah. I think it helps me connect with people. Well, I guess, being able to interact with the crowd is something I enjoy, and I feel like that translates over into working with my colleagues, as well as customers, at my job. I think that’s a huge part of it. I also think my creative thinking pairs well with more of my technical work and being able to approach solutions creatively, troubleshooting problems and trying to come up with maybe different ways to solve different issues or goals.
John: Yeah, because most people think that, like for me, accounting, and for you, IT; oh, it’s very left-brained, very logical. It’s like, no, no, I have a whole brain. I actually have some creative stuff, too. It’s kind of fun to get the whole brain working and give the one side a little bit of a break every once in a while and bounce over to the other. I totally can see that. Is music something that comes up at work? Have you talked about it with colleagues before?
Beau: I have. Yes. I talk about all of my upcoming gigs. Especially on Mondays, like, oh, what did you do this weekend? Tell them about a show I played.
John: Most people are like, what? Hold on. I thought you were going to say nothing. That’s cool.
Beau: Absolutely. Yeah, it’s been a fun way to connect with other folks I work with, over music, and then anytime I end up bringing up my band, people tend to come to me with music that they like, I really enjoy that, or wanting to talk music, talk shop. I love doing that, hearing about new bands, telling them what I like.
John: That’s awesome because it’s just relating to them on a human level. It’s super cool to hear that they’re coming to you with, here’s music I like. Or what do you think about this band? Or, oh, you performed with the Offspring. What’s that all about? You’re getting to light up because you get to tell stories about it, but they are too because it’s something that they want to know about. You’ll get to the work later. It’s just, let’s create a human connection here.
Beau: I agree. Absolutely.
John: Was there ever a part of you that thought, hey, maybe I shouldn’t tell people I’ve got other interests? Because sometimes our demons in our heads tell us big time lies, basically.
Beau: Yeah, yeah. That’s true. I think so, actually, mostly trying to remain humble, I don’t know, especially, if it’s someone I don’t know as well, might just try not to mention it. I think the more selfish side of me loves to talk about it.
John: Sure. Let’s talk about music.
Beau: Always looking for an opening to casually bring that up.
John: It’s just great. It’s funny, too, because I remember when I was working corporate, and all of a sudden, it’s like, well, let me tell you who my favorite comedian is. I’m like, well, I know it’s not me, so just keep going, whatever. It’s fine because I probably like him, too. It’s all good. It’s cool that people want to connect with you like that, which is just really awesome. I guess, how much do you feel it’s on an organization to create that space to encourage people to share these outside-of-work interests? Or how much is it on the individual to just maybe start small or find that opening, like you were saying, to just, oh, you have a radio on? Well, let me talk about music.
Beau: That’s a great question. I think there’s a little bit of both. I do think it’d be great for organizations to make a space for it, at the very least, make sure people know that’s okay to include in your daily conversation. We’re not robots. We do want to connect. I do think it makes it easier to work with others too, if you do connect with them on a personal level and understand more about what they’re like, outside of the office. I guess, short answer, I would love for companies to make space for that, encourage that, and then also think individuals should bring it up when they can and want to.
John: Yeah, provided everyone’s getting their work done, then fair game. Of course, we’re not talking about just disregard work all together. Of course, it’s get your work done.
Beau: Agreed. Yeah.
John: Just for the people that are listening that are like, wait a minute; it’s like, no, no, no, neither of us are saying that.
Beau: It’s a good balance.
John: Yeah, exactly. Like you said, we’re not robots and work gets done, and teams, more times than none, or you’re relating to someone in another department or a customer or client. That only helps to have that human connection.
Beau: I agree. I agree.
John: Totally. Do you have any words of encouragement to anyone that’s listening that maybe feels like, I’ve got an “and” but no one cares because it has nothing to do with my job?
Beau: Oh, yeah. Well, maybe pretty generic, but I’d say put yourself out there, and you might be surprised someone else might share a similar “and” or at least want to hear about your “and” and talk to you about it. I think it doesn’t hurt to at least give it a try.
John: Right. Worst case scenario, everyone goes, okay, and then puts their head back down and starts working. All right. Worst case scenario is not you’re going to get fired, provided your “and” is legal and not taboo. It’s like, all right, maybe don’t lead with that one.
Beau: Yeah, that’s a good point.
John: Yeah. Just talking about human things with humans, it’s so weird to me that that’s not our default mode at work. For some reason, when we go into a work setting, we turn into something that we’re not, or a fraction of who we are, so weird.
Beau: Yeah, it’s weird to have to kind of fake it or compartmentalize yourself a little bit. Sometimes I do feel like there are two different sides of me, and trying to continue to blend them and give the whole picture of who I am and what I like and what I do.
John: Yeah. It’s not like you’re bringing your guitar to work and playing. Maybe there’s a time for that, happy hour or something, but not on a Tuesday at noon when everyone’s in the middle of work. It’s still cool to talk about it, and that’s fair. It’s awesome to hear that people gravitate towards that, the shows that you have. I’m excited, next week, to catch you guys here in Denver as well. That’s going to be a really fun show also. I feel like it’s only fair though, before we wrap this up, that I turn the tables because I so rudely peppered you with questions at the beginning. We make this the Beau Osland podcast. Thanks for having me on. I’m all yours. Whatever you’ve got, fire away.
Beau: Sounds good. How about a DC or Marvel?
John: I am the worst at this. Whatever one Spider Man is, is going to be my answer. Although I love all of them because I think Iron Man’s on the other side, and Iron Man’s super awesome. Batman’s always cool. I like the ones that are low key, kind of the least suspecting type of people that are out there kicking butt and taking names. Those are my favorites. Yeah, I’m the worst. Sorry, man.
Beau: No, no, no problem.
John: All of them. Does that count?
Beau: That counts. You can have them all. Awesome. How about chocolate or vanilla?
John: I’m going to go chocolate on that only because there’s more things that are chocolate. A vanilla candy bar would be weird to me. Milkshakes, I can go either way, but, yeah, probably chocolate, more universal.
Beau: Yeah, yeah. Great answer. I agree with you on that one. Let’s see. Do you have a favorite band or artist at the moment?
John: Yeah. Well, besides Pandas and People, growing up, it was Metallica definitely. That was my first concert.
John: Blink-182’s always good and for just like, you can just throw something on, out of there. Killers are amazing, especially live. Man, they’re amazing.
Beau: I’ve always wanted to see them live. Yeah.
John: They put on a show, man. There’s a lot of confetti and stuff and lights and video board. It’s an experience, that’s for sure. That was a bunch of answers, but more of that alternative upbeat kind of stuff that you can just put on and be in a good mood type of thing, without having to think. It’s not that everything’s musically high. It’s more of just, it’s just easy to digest, I guess.
Beau: Yeah. Yeah.
John: All right, you’ve got one more?
Beau: Yeah, let’s do one more. How about favorite comedian?
John: Oh, wow. That’s a tough one. Brian Regan is probably going to be, probably my favorite. Bill Burr and Dave Chappelle are amazing, too. Even guys that I’m friends with like Tommy Johnagin and Ryan Hamilton and Nate Bargatze, a lot of guys when I lived in New York that we were all around each other.
John: Probably Brian Regan. He’s so good. So good. Thank you so much for taking time to be a part of What’s Your “And”? This has been really, really awesome.
Beau: Yeah. Thanks, John. Really fun to be here.
John: Everybody listening, if you want to see some pictures of Beau onstage, or maybe connect with him on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. All the links are there. While you’re on the page, please click that big button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture. Don’t forget to check out the book.
Thanks again for subscribing on Apple podcast or whatever app you use and for sharing this with your friends so they get the message
Rick is a Consultant & Jazz Trombonist
Rick Maurer, of Maurer & Associates, talks about his passion for playing jazz music, how it ties into his career, why it has been important to keep it in his life, and much more!
• Getting into jazz music
• Writing a book with Karl Burger
• How his music translates into his career
• Quitting and resuming playing music
• Becoming selective of contracts he works on
Please take 2 minutes
to do John’s anonymous survey
about Corporate Culture!
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Welcome to Episode 483 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. And 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 & Noble, Bookshop, a few other websites. All the links are at whatsyourand.com. And 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 audiobooks. The book goes more in depth with the research behind why these outside-of-work passions are so crucial to your corporate culture. And I can’t say how much it means that everyone’s reading it and writing such nice reviews on Amazon and, more importantly, changing the workplace cultures where they are because of it.
And please don’t forget to hit subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss any of the future episodes. I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week. And this week is no different with my guest, Rick Maurer. He’s a speaker and adviser on change management and the author of seizing moments of possibility. And now, he’s with me here today. Rick, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Rick: Thanks, John. It’s good to be here.
John: Yeah. This is gonna be so much fun. Fellow trombone player. This is gonna be so awesome, but I do have some rapid-fire questions I have to ask before we get started. So, here we go. Maybe Star Wars or Star Trek?
Rick: Star Wars.
John: Star Wars. Yeah. Me too. Same. How about your computer, more of a PC or a Mac?
Rick: Oh, PC.
John: Yeah. I’m the same too. All right. You might be just my ghost or Christmas future. It is what it is. We’re twins. Like this is.
John: How about when it comes to seasons? Summer, winter, spring, or fall?
John: Yes. 3 for 3. This is amazing.
Rick: Oh, man.
John: All right. How about a favorite ice cream flavor?
Rick: Haagen-Dazs vanilla Swiss almond fudge.
John: Oh, wow. Okay. All right.
Rick: It’s amazing. Yeah.
John: Yeah. That does sound good. I haven’t had that yet. So, we’ll still count it. It’s an ice cream flavor, so that counts.
Rick: There you go.
John: How about a favorite day of the week?
John: Yeah. Totally. You just like veg out. Right?
John: Yeah. It’s not work where you don’t—
Rick: Well, I veg out every day, but yeah. But I don’t feel as guilty on Saturday.
John: There you go. I love it, man. That’s awesome. That’s so good. Since you are the trombone player, favorite position on the slide.
Rick: I don’t play a slide trombone. I play a valve trombone.
John: Oh! So then none of them. All right.
Rick: None of them.
John: In the first position. Like it’s your first position.
Rick: There you go. Yeah.
John: All right. So, you do the valve. Okay.
Rick: I do. Yeah.
John: All right. Is it still just 3 valves?
Rick: Yeah. It’s like the trumpet. I used to be a trumpet player.
John: Okay. Oh, there you go. All right. All right. That answers that one. Are you more of an early bird or a night owl?
Rick: I wanna be a night owl. Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way. So, I have to be an early bird. For instance, I did a call yesterday running a class for the Royal Danish Military Academy at 6 a.m. my time.
John: Oh, my goodness.
Rick: I know. But it’s really fun. So, I love doing these things. A lot of things in Europe, but it’s just these ungodly time.
John: Right. Right. Yeah. For me, it sounds ungodly. But yeah, for you, you’re like I’m ready to roll. Let’s do this.
Rick: Well, the miracle of caffeine helps a lot.
John: Right. Right. Yeah. I guess that’s true. I guess that’s true. How about a favorite number?
Rick: Wow. 7.
John: Yeah. Me too. Is there a reason? Like mine’s sports related for sure. I mean, you know, all the quarterbacks and all that whatever.
Rick: Oh, yeah. I have no idea why.
John: Yeah. No. That’s a good number. That’s a good number. How about books, audio version, e-Book, or real book?
Rick: I prefer real books. I tend not to use them as much, but I like having a book in my hand.
John: Yeah. Right. Okay. Okay. And you wrote a book, and the paperback and the audio version are on Amazon, but your e-Book is on your website, which is super cool. And what’s the website?
Rick: It’s rickmaurer.com.
John: Yeah. The e-Book is there if you wanna buy it and help them. The paperback and audio is there too, but the e-Book… So, that’s awesome, man. I just wanna plug it really fast.
Rick: Thank you.
John: All right. We got some more here. Cats or dogs?
John: Yeah. Me too. Same. I mean, yeah, cats are all right I guess, but I’m just afraid they’re gonna like swipe me, you know.
Rick: I’ll tell you. I was working in India and Kathy called me, my wife. And she said, “Hey, a friend of ours found these 2 kittens in a drain pipe outside.” Nothing about them seems like they’re feral. We’ve had them 3 years. They run to the door when we come home.
John: Oh. So, they’re like dogs.
Rick: They’re like low maintenance dogs.
Rick: Yeah, it’s really great. I like—
John: That’s great. You don’t have to let them out.
Rick: No, that’s right.
John: That’s right. That’s awesome. The low maintenance dogs. I love that. That’s so good. How about a puzzle? Sudoku, crossword, or jigsaw puzzles?
Rick: The only ones I would ever even try is crosswords.
John: Okay. Yeah. That works. How about a favorite color?
John: Oh, okay. All right. All right. Okay.
Rick: There you go.
John: That’s a first. Right? How about a least favorite color? Also puce. No, I’m just kidding.
Rick: Puce light I think.
John: Puce light. Pastel puce light
Rick: Yeah, that’s right.
John: That’s awesome. That’s hilarious. How about a favorite toppings on a pizza if you can load it up?
Rick: Oh, cheese. Just more cheese.
John: Oh, just more cheese. Okay.
Rick: Oh, yeah.
John: All right. Like a 4-cheese kinda. All right. I like that. All right. Three more. More shower or bath?
John: Shower. There you go. How about a favorite actor or actress?
Rick: Well, Mark Rylance. A British guy. The fact that he was just in the movie, Don’t Look Up. He plays this kind of brilliant guy who owns the world.
Rick: I’ve seen him live a few times. He’s marvelous.
John: Yeah. Yeah. That was a great movie.
John: How about a last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own?
Rick: Favorite thing I have. On my wall here in my office, I have an album cover that Louis Armstrong signed for me.
John: Oh, what!
John: That’s so cool, man. That’s great.
Rick: I went to a concert. My hometown in Ohio, it didn’t have a record store. The auto parts store sold records honest to God. And so, I knew I was gonna go see him. I wanted to get his autograph. And so, I had to drive over to the next town. And there was a candy store that sold records and they had one Louis Armstrong album. Not even a really good one, but I bought it. And at intermission, I went up and said “Mr. Armstrong, could I get your autograph?” And he said “Sure.” I wish I could do his voice because he was great. But he said “You don’t want just mine. Wouldn’t you like the bands’?” And I said “Yeah.” And he said “Well, come on backstage with me.”
John: That’s fantastic.
Rick: Yeah. So, he takes me back into the green room and all the guys are sitting there smoking. He said “Guys, this is Rick. Give him your autograph.” And one of the guys, the trombonist, heard the name wrong. And so, on the back of the record, it says “To Brick, have a great time.”
John: That’s awesome. Man, what a great story though. Like what a great experience and also too that he was like “Hey, I don’t do this without the whole band. Like do you want their autograph too?”
Rick: I was amazed. I mean, just to be in the presence. I’m not a star struck kind of guy, but man— I mean, he’s influenced me how I think about music, how I think about life in a lot of ways. To meet the guy was just like wow.
John: That’s awesome, man. I love it. That’s so cool and what a great memento and a cool thing to have on your office wall. That’s super cool, man. I love it. That’s great. So, let’s talk music and jazz. I mean, that leads right into it, which is perfect. I mean, did you grow up playing instruments?
Rick: I did. When the music teacher came around and said “so, who wants to play a musical instrument” and I did. So, there were some options, and I was watching— There was a show called Rin Tin Tin when I was a kid. And there was the bugler that would go out on these things with the cowboy. And I thought when we play cowboys, I wanan be the bugler. So, I got a trumpet and then I realized you could play other things other than that. I love classical and I love some country and all that, but I loved the whole idea of jazz. And we had a jazz big band in our school. And I couldn’t get enough. And some of my buddies and I formed a band. And it just stayed with me. I was a music major in college. Music was my life for a number of years.
John: That’s awesome, man. It’s so cool to hear. So then, it was trumpet and then valve trombone. Are there other instruments as well?
Rick: No. Actually, what had happened, I was playing in the concert band where I went to college. And I was sitting. There probably 12 trumpet players. And I was sort of in the middle of the section. And I realized by my sophomore year I was never gonna sit on that first stand. And I was talking to my teacher and I can’t remember if he said it or I said it. He said “Why don’t we try a bigger mouthpiece, which would be a trombone or euphonium?”
John: Baritone. Yeah. Yeah.
Rick: Yes, a baritone. And what was amazing is I was in the trumpet section and was just kind of in the pack. And when I switched instruments, I became section leader of the euphonium baritone section within a month. I was playing stuff I couldn’t even touch on trumpet. And so, I played that and then I went in the army as a musician on euphonium.
John: That’s incredible, man. That’s so awesome. Yeah. I mean, I started saxophone and then the re-vibration was weird on my teeth so that I went to trumpet because everyone you think plays trumpet.
Rick: That’s right.
John: But the mouthpiece was like too small for the way my mouth is and so yes. And then I went to trombone and I was like “Man, this is awesome.”
Like it’s great. Like it’s just perfect and a super fun instrument to play. And every once in a while, you get a little bit of a lead. But for the most part, you’re behind the scenes. But yeah, it’s funny when people are like “Oh, can you play this song?” And I’m like “I hope you like whole notes because it’s waaa… waaa…” Like I totally get to 1812 Overture, then let it rip, buddy. That’s where we come out like here it is. That’s so great to hear. You created a band like with your buddies and all that. Like that’s fun because it’s like you can’t get enough of it type of a thing. So, do you have like a favorite concert, or a rewarding story, or something that comes to mind over your playing days or even now?
Rick: Yup. 10 years ago, I got to know a guy named Carl Berger up in Woodstock, New York. And he was a pioneer in avant-garde jazz and free jazz. And what he got really good at is teaching people to play more spontaneously. So, even if they were playing written music, how do you plant— Like if you go to hear a tribute band or some of them they’re asleep at the wheel— I don’t mean the group asleep in the wheel.
Rick: And others who are going “Wow.” And so, he teaches you how to do that. So, he wanted to write a book. He’s German. And he said, “I speak English okay.” But he said, “I really like you to help me write it because you have written a lot of books, and I like what you’re doing with my stuff.” So, we wrote the book. It came out a couple of years ago. And 2 months ago, a buddy of mine, Mike Gaston, and I, went up to Woodstock. We live in the Washington, DC area. And we spent a day in a recording studio with Carl and Ken Filiano who is a very adventurous bass player. I had no desire for this to turn into something that I’m going to inflict on friends and relatives. What I wanted to do was the discipline of being in the studio, no music in front of me, a mic right there. And the way it was setup is so we can all see each other. We didn’t have baffles and all that stuff and just spending a day there and just trying stuff out. Carl said “All right. So, how about this?” He said “I’ll start something. Mike, you start something. Ken, you start something. Rick, you start something and then you just start improvising whatever you wanna do.” And it was a highlight.
John: It’s a magical moment, man. That’s super cool ‘cause, I mean, that’s the thing. I mean, I’m good at reading music, you know, playing the piano as well. But yeah, for jazz, I was good at the music side of it, but then it’s like “Okay. Now, it’s time for a trombone solo.” And I’m like “Ahhhh… Can you write it out for me?” I guess it just wasn’t as confident. You know what I mean? Especially when you’re in high school. You’re just sort of like, yeah, just not as confident in going off script. Like with the music in front of me, I’m great. Like I can totally read this and nail it, and give 2 times through and we’re good, but yeah. So, that’s an awesome experience and something where— because I mean that’s the weird thing, is life isn’t scripted. You know, this conversation is definitely not scripted. And so, you know, we do it every day and yet you put an instrument in my hand and I’m like “Ahhhh..” It’s like “Who cares? Like it doesn’t matter.” What is it supposed to be? And it’s like whatever you want it to be, man. Just let it go.
Rick: What you just said is certainly important in my life. I mean, the whole notion of starting with the structure, the tune, and then being able to improvise is exactly how I treat my work. I mean, if I had to do something day after day… “Hi! Today, we’re going to talk about… Oh, I have a story for you.” If I had to do the same stuff every day, I don’t know what I would do.
John: You would quit. Right? Right?
Rick: Yeah. So not only do I get to think about stuff, I get to keep trying stuff out. Everything always feels like a work progress and that works for me. I mean, it’s sloppier than the people who everything is scripted and now they cry on cue.
John: Right. Oh. Yeah.
Rick: I know. Yeah. That’s not me for better for worse. That’s what keeps my work refreshing at least for me.
John: No, I love it, man. And it’s just how much that music translates into your career. No one told you to play jazz and be a great musician and all this because it will make you better at your career, better consultant, but it clearly does. It clearly does. You know, our “and” give us the skillset that other people don’t have that maybe have the same degree or the same job title, but we have a different skillset.
Rick: Yeah. And you know, when I got out of college and then got out of the army, I enlisted in the army band. I was in for 3 years. I did not make it a career, although the band’s a really good band. I’m not a big fan of concert band music. I mean, it was fine when I played it, but I didn’t want that to be my career. And I also played a Herald trumpet, a bass Herald trumpet. And there are 16 of us and we would just follow the president around playing the chief.
John: Right. Yeah.
Rick: That was actually fun as a young guy, but I didn’t wanna make that a career. And so, and I quit playing. I basically quit playing for a lot of years.
John: Oh, wow.
Rick: But I’d go hear concerts. I would go to jazz clubs. I would be in my mind singing souls. And so, finally, I thought enough of this and I went on e-Bay, bought a trombone, got a teacher. And I said “Look, I wanna learn to play jazz.” That was, I don’t know, 15-16 years ago. Something like that. I had three really big consulting contracts. I mean, if you had looked at them, you would have gone “Woah, this is great.” And they were very lucrative. I mean, everything about it was really good except I hated all three of them. And I didn’t know that going in. And I mean, two of them, the clients just were acting in bad faith with each other. I mean, they just wanted to say “No. Well, we hired this guy. He wrote a book. And it didn’t make a difference.” But the third one, I said yes to something that didn’t excite me anymore. As a younger man, I would have gone “Wow, it’s a lot to learn in this.” And I didn’t realize I was phoning it in, and I didn’t like that about myself. And I didn’t realize it until way too late at any rate. So, I say to my wife “I am not good at this anymore.” And she said, “You know, I don’t think you’ve lost all your skills in the last 6 months. Maybe you were never any good.”
John: There you go. There you go.
Rick: You gotta see people. When I tell that story, people “Oh, you poor baby.”
John: No, no, that’s awesome. That’s so awesome.
Rick: She said “You know, you could be retired if you wanted. But if you wanna work, why don’t you back off a little bit and play more music?” And it took me a while to come around to that. And it’s funny. I was talking to a woman who had been a student of mine. And it’s funny. I was talking to a woman who had been a student of mine at the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland. And I was telling her the story. And she said “So, did you listen to your wife?” And I said “Well, not yet.” And she said “Why?” And I said “Well, you know, I don’t wanna retire. The concept just doesn’t fit for me.” But I said “I wanna know that I have the money there that in case I had to retire or something.” And she said “Well, how much more money do you need?” I said “I don’t know.” And she said “That will keep you working.”
Rick: So, the combination of Kathy making the joke and then Kim saying you gotta know what you need, I started thinking what if I only take on contracts that I think is gonna give me as much pleasure as music.
John: Oh, wow.
Rick: And so, it’s not like just taking time to make music, which I do. I mean, even right before our call, my horn is sitting arm’s length right here. I will play it later today. But how do I say yes to things that are going to enliven me just like practicing? And that’s made a huge difference. I might not have listened to someone giving me that advice when I first started because I was too hungry and I was trying to make a mark or something. But man, it’s made a huge difference in the quality of the work for me as well as I think for some of my clients.
John: Yeah. Oh, absolutely. I mean, you can tell. Like you said, you know, phoning it in and just kind of just going through the motions and whatever. And it’s so interesting to hear how you had put music aside for a long time because you thought “well, you know, that’s not what pays the bills or that’s not what’s important or whatever” and come to find out like that’s the foundation. That’s your joy and where you get the magic. If you don’t go to that well often enough, then you’re not as good of a person, let alone consultant, that you could be. So, it’s just cool to hear the difference between the non-music playing Rick and the now back to music playing Rick.
Rick: It’s a huge difference. Yeah.
John: Yeah. It’s just more alive I guess. It’s that source of life I guess. There’s depth to our “and” in these passions that we have outside of work. There’s real depth there. And I feel like it’s so easier for us to just put it on the backburner because that’s the first thing that’s “Well, it doesn’t matter, whatever.” But then it’s 10 years later and you’re like “What the hell? I haven’t done this in forever.”
Rick: I, I guess last year, started reading Harpo Marx’s autobiography. Your listeners might not know Harpo Marx, but you know his brothers.
John: Yeah. The Marx brothers.
Rick: Yes. He’s great at comedy.
John: And genius like wicked smart, people.
Rick: There you go.
Rick: I’m gonna paraphrase what the first paragraph was. But basically, he said “You know, I don’t know if in my life I’ve been a success or a failure.” And he said “But not knowing and actually not caring has allowed me to try out things I might never have tried out.” And I thought that could have been my mantra. Of course, I wanna be successful or I wanna do things well, but I’ve tried all kinds of things. Playwriting, a bunch of things. I didn’t make some national mark, but it was so much fun to do and to try out stuff.
So, to wait and say “okay, next year, I’m gonna do it” seemed—
John: That’s such a great quote. Plus too, like as people move up the corporate ladder, it’s like “well, now I’m the CFO” or “now, I’m the whatever C suite title, or even a manager title, or whatever.” And it’s like “Well, I can’t go and do that. It will look dumb if I’m not successful at it.” It’s like “No, it won’t.” It doesn’t matter. I mean, we’re all going through life. You know, I just love that where it’s give it a go. Who cares? You know, unless you’re Oprah— Like if you go by one name, then, all right, people are gonna— But even then, she’s so big that she doesn’t care. She’ll try things. Like it doesn’t matter. The lies we tell ourselves are so brutal and so limiting really. I mean, I’m as guilty of this as anybody. And so, it’s just cool to hear your experience through that and how important it is because there’s someone listening now that I’m sure had an “and” at one point and let it go. And it’s like “Get it back. Like what are you doing?” Right?
Rick: Yeah. I just thought of another story. My dad always kind of thought that these choices I was making were kind of really whackadoodle. Like what is he doing this time? And so, when I started writing plays, I was studying. And so, Kathy and I went home to my home for Thanksgiving. And my mom and Kathy had gone up to bed. And my dad and I are sitting there having a beer. And I never asked my dad for advice ever. Just wasn’t what I did because I never wanted to hear it.
Rick: But honest to God and I said—
John: No. No. It’s true. Yeah.
Rick: Yeah. And so, I said “I can use your advice.” I said “You know, I’ve been studying playwriting and have done some workshop things.” I said “I’m working on this play that I think could really actually be something good, but I need to take time to do it, which means I need to back off. Do you have any advice for me?” And he said “Yeah.” He started a furniture store in my hometown. And he said, “You know, I was working for a furniture store. It was really well-established.” And he said “I couldn’t get a loan from a bank.” And he said “I remember going into one bank and they said, well, Eddie, you have the most secure job in town. It’s been there for a century.” And my dad said “Oh, no, no. I have a job even more secure than that.” And they said “Really? What?” he said “I was in the army. They even gave me my underwear.” So, we both are laughing. And he said “You don’t wanna get to be 60 and go I wonder. I wonder if.” And he suddenly became my biggest supporter for that. He and my mom would come out and see when I had plays produced. I mean, it was really neat.
John: Yeah. What a powerful moment where you think “Well, he doesn’t get me. He doesn’t understand.” And he gets it 100% type of thing. Yeah. I’ve spoken at some like executive retreats or like partner retreats for professional services firms. And one in particular was a pretty huge— There were probably 120 partners for this accounting firm. And three of them were retiring. And it was an hour of stories about them. And there wasn’t a single mention of the amount of revenue they brought into the firm, or the number of clients, or number of hours they worked, or anything. They were just stories about life and who they were as people and things that we did outside of work and just all that. And I’m like “If you’re at the top, then, man, this is what really matters, you know.” So, everyone all along should also know that this is what matters or these stories. That’s so powerful, man. So powerful. And I love it so much. And I imagine too that the jazz plays into the change management that you do the consulting with because, like you said, I mean it’s unscripted and here we go. And you know, how do we work this out sort of thing.
Rick: Yeah. I mean, one of the things— It’s funny. In the book, I’m really talking about how do you blend support into what you’re already doing rather than change management sometimes is “Okay, when we have time, we’ll bring in the change management stuff.” And what I’m saying is “no, it needs to be blended in”, which means in some way or another you’re improvising. You’re trying something out like “Okay, if I did this presentation without slides, what might happen?” So, you’re just doing these tweaks here and there, but it’s a great way to learn. It’s also I think more fun.
John: Yeah. I mean, ‘cause the pressure isn’t there because it’s like “Well, it’s probably gonna fail 50% of the time or whatever” or we’ll see what happens. It’s experimental as opposed to this is the only answer type of thing.
Rick: It’s experimental within a structure. I mean, I’m not a fan of— I mean, some of the places where I studied. We’re all gonna get a room. Let’s see what emerges. I hate that. I just hate that. I’ll start the incense and give me a cab. I’ve gotta get out of here.
You’re there to do some work. Everybody knows we’re here to do some work, but the how we do it and the way we engage each other, there’s a lot of flexibility there. So, that’s really important to me. And so, that’s what I hope I bring always when I’m doing work.
John: For sure. Yeah. And I mean, it’s that music side of you that comes out. You know, you can’t hide it. You can’t not have that music brain turn on. And I love it so much, man. That’s awesome. So, Rick, before we kind of wrap up, do you have any words of encouragement to anyone listening that maybe has an “and” that they put on the backburner for a while or they don’t talk about at work because they don’t think it matters?
Rick: I realize that everyone’s situation can be different and there may be good reasons for saying I’ve got to put all this on the backburner for now.
Rick: I also realized you may be paying the price if you’re doing that. And so, I would say even in a little way, if you can start to bring whatever that passion is into the work, I think it makes a difference in our actual work, but I think it makes our lives— for me at any rate, makes our lives richer.
John: For sure.
Rick: You know, more excitement in getting up in the morning.
John: No. Absolutely, man. I agree totally. So, it’s so cool to have you be a part of this. And I feel like it’s only fair since I peppered you with just questions at the beginning that I turn the table and make this the first episode of the Rick Maurer podcast. Thanks for having me on your show. So, whatever questions you’d like to ask—
Rick: I’m sorry, Joh, but we’re out of time. Hey, but it was great talking—
John: Exactly. I actually had a good friend who was booked on Letterman. And the first guest went long. It was like “Well, you got to come back.” And they weren’t able to come back. But yeah, you tell everybody “I’m gonna be on Letterman” and then “Well, no because so and so ran their mouth too long.” That’s hilarious. That’s so funny. Yeah, John, we’re done.
Rick: Actually, what I am curious about is— I mean, obviously, I agree with you on the “and” stuff, but what prompted you to say “Oh, I wanna go public with that, I wanna have a podcast about that kind of thing”?
John: That’s a great question. So, yeah. So, I was speaking at a conference, a pretty big conference. And I was backstage getting mic-ed up and the meeting professional comes back and she says “Hey, do you know this guy named Mark?” I’ll leave his last name off just for safety’s sake. And I was like “No, I’ve never heard that name in my life.” And she goes “Well, he knows you. He saw the speakers and right away goes “I know John Garrett. That’s the guy who did comedy at night.” I was like “What? Like who is this rain man? Like do I owe him 50 bucks? Like what’s going on?” So, I speak. I get off stage. I look on my link. He was in my first PWC office 12 years before that, and he was in the tax department, and I was one of those CPAs that doesn’t know how taxes work. So, I never went to that floor. I don’t know what Mark looks like. I never talked to mark. I never anything. And he remembers me for a hobby I did outside of work. And so, I started asking people like “Hey, do you have a hobby outside of work?” And people were kind of like “Keep it on the down low, but I like to…” you know, whatever their “and” was.
Almost everyone has something. And no one’s talking about it. And so, let’s just blow the doors off and make it a podcast where we all get to share what lights us up and what brings us joy and then other people get to hear it and then realize that they’re the norm. Like the stereotypical professional is somebody that has other dimensions to them besides work. And for too long, the 8% who don’t have a hobby or passion have bullied the 92% of us to believe that we have to act a certain way and you don’t. There’s so many different successful professionals out there that all look and sound totally different than the next. And why are we all trying to be like one thing? And it’s not even a cool thing. It’s super lame. At least be like a cool thing. Bring yourself to work. It’s more than just the authenticness. It’s just what lights you up. Start small. Yeah, that’s how it all started.
Rick: Oh, that’s great.
John: No, I appreciate it, Rick. Thank you so much for being a part of What’s Your “And”? and, yeah, also just taking time to be a part of the show. So, thanks, man.
Rick: Oh, you’re welcome. It’s a pleasure.
John: Everybody listening, if you wanna see some pictures of Rick playing his trombone or maybe connect with him on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. And while you’re on the page, please click that big button. Do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture, and don’t forget to read the book.
So, thanks again for subscribing on Apple podcast 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.
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
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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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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
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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.