Jason is an Accountant & Photographer
Jason Kalies, Director of Accounting Policy for United Health Group, returns from episode 9 to talk about his new passion for photography and how it challenges him to think differently and look at things in a different perspective!
• Why he got away from gardening
• Getting into photography
• How photography challenges him to think differently
• Avoid comparing your work to others
• Do something outside of your comfort zone
• How photography has given him a different perspective
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Welcome to Episode 252 of What’s Your “And”? Follow-up Friday edition. This is John Garrett. Each Friday, I’m following up with a guest who had been on the show a few years ago to hear maybe what’s new with their passions outside of work and also to hear how this message might have impacted them since we last talked.
I’m so excited to let everyone know that my book’s being published very soon. It’ll be available on Amazon and a few other websites. So check out whatsyourand.com for all the details or sign up for my exclusive list. You’ll be the first to know when it’s coming out. And please don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss any of the future episodes. I love sharing such interesting stories each and every Wednesday and Follow-up Fridays. And this Follow-up Friday is going to be no different with my guest and friend, Jason Kalies. He’s a Director of Accounting in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Now, he’s with me here today. Jason, thank you so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Jason: Hey, John, thanks for having me back.
John: Absolutely. Episode Nine, are you joking? Single digits? That’s incredible. Oh man, it was so long ago.
Jason: I remember talking with you when you were planning this whole podcast series and coming up with ideas. I went back and listened to our recording. It was funny. But yeah, it’s been several years. I’m glad to see you having success with it.
John: No. I appreciate it, man. Absolutely. And we worked together back in the PwC days in Milwaukee. Man, it’s just crazy.
Jason: Yeah. We’re starting to count the years and decades now.
John: Right. It’s embarrassing, right? I mean gosh. But now, I do the rapid-fire questions up front. So these are things that I didn’t ask the first time and just see if we can have some fun and find out more about Jason below the surface level. So if you had to choose, Harry Potter or Game of Thrones?
Jason: I would say Harry Potter because I pride myself in never watching Game of Thrones.
John: Okay. I’ve never seen it either because that involves HBO and HBO costs money.
John: There you go. More cats or dogs?
John: Okay. How about a favorite place you’ve been on vacation?
Jason: Estes Park, Colorado.
John: Oh, nice. How about — this is a tough one — hamburger or pizza?
John: Okay. All right. How about a favorite color?
Jason: Probably green.
John: Green. Nice. Okay. More suit and tie or jeans and a t-shirt?
Jason: Jeans and a t-shirt.
John: Yeah. The last one, maybe the most important one of all time, toilet paper roll, over or under?
Jason: That’s got to be over. And I would hope some of these survey questions are in your upcoming book. I’m looking forward to it.
John: Right. The whole book is just statistics based on the survey questions and answers. But that’d be hilarious. Yeah. But when we talked on Episode Nine, which is insane, we talked about your gardening and baking and whiskey. Are these still passions of yours?
Jason: They are. What I’ve done is I’ve consolidated so now I only bake with whiskey.
John: Oh, nice.
Jason: I’m just joking there. They are still passions. I was thinking back when we did the podcast. I mean since then, my wife and I have moved. We live in a townhouse now. We don’t have a yard, so I don’t do as much gardening. But I still do a lot of baking, cooking. I still have a pretty crazy whiskey collection. I still love doing that.
And thinking back, the things we talked about, about sharing your ideas and your passions with coworkers or friends or neighbors, when I was getting ready for this podcast, I was reflecting back on a previous job I had. One of the projects was to develop a podcast series. And the podcast series was about accounting topics, so it’s not as exciting as your series. But when we were planning that with my coworkers, I raised my hand. I said, “Well, actually, I’ve been on a podcast before.” They all asked me questions. They say, “Oh, can we listen to it?” I sent the link to my team. They listened to it. Then they came back and said, “We had no idea that you like to bake and things like that.” It turned into a situation where they wanted me to bring some of my homemade jam and things like that. It was just one of those things, like you talking about the past. Mentioning or opening yourself up to sharing what your interests are just leads to discussion, leads to team event. They brought in bagels. I brought some homemade jams. It was one of those things that connect dots.
Yeah. Certainly, I’m still doing that. But one of my new passions recently that, really, I’ve had a passion for for a while but I’ve explored a little more is photography. I’ve always loved taking pictures and stuff, but it was always one of those situations where I’d have handheld cannons, snapshot or PowerShot I think they were called. My pictures were limited. And a couple years ago, my wife surprised me for my birthday and got me a pretty nice camera and a real nice lens and some good equipment, a very nice present. So that reignited my interest in photography. That’s really what I’ve been doing as a hobby these last couple years.
It’s crazy. When you’re in the accounting world or the accounting world, finance world, you’re used to using your brain in a certain way. When I work on photography or I think about taking pictures, it’s using your brain in a different way. You’re thinking about things artistically. And I’m not very good at that. I mean that’s not my expertise. That’s why I went into gardening. I’m very, “Debits on the left, credits on the right,” very black and white. So it really challenges me to think differently and look at things differently from an artistic standpoint. Then when you get into just how to operate a camera — I don’t know how many times I’ve been somewhere. I’m taking a picture of a sunset or something or at an event and somebody says to me, “That looks like a really fancy camera. You must take really good pictures.” And I say, “I don’t know what I’m doing,” right? Because it’s the concept. You can take Picasso’s paint brushes, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to produce a Picasso painting, right?
John: Right. Yeah. That’s awesome.
Jason: Yeah. There’s so much to learn. It humbles you, at least what I found. You see people that take these gorgeous pictures. Then you try and replicate that and you just failed miserably, right? Because there’s always somebody that knows or can do something much better than you. But you have to take a step back and realize that there’s people that can’t do what you can do, right? You’re somewhere in the middle. So I found that it’s really humbling and challenging at the same time.
John: That’s awesome, man. I mean, really, if you’re honest with yourself, we’re all in the middle. The outliers that are the extremes, you never saw them in the creative process struggle in their learning process. You only see their finished results, the Ansel Adams or the whatever. You only see the finished. You don’t see when he was new and trying to learn how to work a camera or do whatever. So I think that’s great, man. You don’t have to be this expert that’s creating these masterpieces. It’s something that you love to do. I think that’s fantastic. Like you said, you’re using your brain in a different way, which is huge. Because when you look at things, even an accounting situation or something corporate, you still have a different lens that you’re looking at it through than the others. And that comes in handy.
Jason: Exactly. And you hit it on the head. One of the things that I got feedback on from my wife was with Facebook and Instagram and everything, you can follow a lot of people, right? You see those individual’s postings. And I followed one person. He’s a social influencer. I don’t know how many thousands of followers this person has, but he’s a great photographer. He’s like 23 years old. His career, he gets flown out to places to take pictures of a resort or a hotel.
John: It sounds like a real jerk. No, I’m just a kidding.
Jason: Like a hotel property, right?
Jason: And the hotel haven’t posted post that. He’s got so many followers, right? He’ll post a picture every once in a while. It’ll be like, “A bald eagle sitting in a tree, on the ocean with the sunset, behind the eagle with the harvest full moon in the background.” Well, first of all, it’s like, “Is that really all there with Photoshop and things like that?” But my wife made a good point. She said, “That is one picture that that person took probably out of thousands and thousands. You can’t judge yourself or judge your product, your picture, whatever it is, your abilities against what somebody posts online.” That’s helpful to keep it in perspective. There’s always somebody that knows more about something than you do. But there’s probably plenty of people that don’t know as much as you.
John: Right. And do you feel like that translates into work?
Jason: I think so. Where I would compare it is if you have a new role or you’re working in a new company and you’re sitting in a room with people you haven’t met before, you have to try and figure out what they know or what they don’t know. You can’t make assumptions like, “This person has been here ten years. They’re in such and such role, so they should know this.” Maybe they do. Maybe they don’t. So you have to quickly adjust and deliver your message to a broad audience. Then once you get some feedback, you narrow it in and fine tune your messaging. It’s that spectrum concept and then fine tuning it as you have the dialogue, have the interaction. Get to know somebody. Work your way through a meeting, for example.
John: It translates, too, to less pressure on yourself to have to know everything and be this accounting wizard that has everything memorized. In the photography, there’s someone else like you said that’s going to be better, going to know more. But there’s things that you know more and different than they do and a different skillset and a different expertise that you’re bringing to the table. So I think it helps take a little bit of pressure off to be like, “Hey, I took some terrible pictures. I’m still alive. I still love photography. Everything’s fine.” Just like in accounting, it’s like, “I did that journal entry backwards. Crap. I’ll fix it. No big deal.” You just go in and flip it. It’s just something like that where I think we put so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect. And that just sets us up for bigger failure, I think.
Jason: Yeah. I agree. The word when I was thinking about my growth, if you will, in the photography spectrum and how I’m learning things, it’s really humbling. The word that came to mind was humbling because like I said, you can set a camera setting to automatic and take good pictures. But once you fine tune things and you want to take a specific picture with a certain lighting, a certain way, from a different perspective, it’s really humbling to understand all that information. And you have a better appreciation for people that have that skill, that have those abilities.
I find myself walking. Even just in the office here today, I was waiting for the elevator. And outside the elevator doors, there’s three pictures, kind of office pictures. But you look at these pictures and I look at them differently now because I know how difficult it is to take that picture than I ever did before. So it’s that humbling aspect. And I would translate that to your point before about when you’re in a meeting with people, unless you’re the expert, you probably don’t want to come across as you know everything about a topic. You need to have some humbleness. And that, I think, opens up avenues for discussion and dialogue and questions and really engaging with people and partnering on projects and things like that.
So really, it’s cool. As far as suggestions, I would encourage people to do something outside of their comfort zone, to do something that they’re not used to doing or haven’t done before. And photography, I think it’s a great example because I do it in my spare time. I get in phases where I bring my camera places. I primarily like landscape and nature, animals and things like that. I do not like taking pictures of people. That’s a whole another level of uncomfortableness.
John: Because the animals don’t ask to see the picture that you took of them, to be like, “Oh, no, I have three chins now. How did that happen?”
Jason: Yeah. They don’t care. Yeah. They just flap their wings. I find myself taking my camera and getting lost, if you will, and looking at things, not paying attention to sometimes the people I’m with.
The other thing that fascinates me, it never really occurred to me — and maybe some of this is I’m aging and we’re getting up there in age a little bit — but you have a better appreciation for things around you, your environment. And if you’re taking a picture of a bird or a coyote or something, that bird or that animal will never be in that same spot with that same lighting that same environment around it ever again. And when you’re taking a picture, you’re capturing that. Because some people say, “There’s pictures for everything. You can just Google whatever and you get an image.” But what you’re experiencing and witnessing when you’re taking a picture, nobody’s ever experienced or witnessed that in that moment like that before. And thinking about what I do, my day job, it’s just so different from that.
John: Yeah. Because almost in accounting, it’s an experience you have every month.
Jason: Right. And every quarter and every year round. Right.
John: Right. Exactly.
Jason: You just have different perspective on things.
John: Yeah, man. I love that.
Jason: Yeah. I would encourage people to branch out and try different things and get outside of your comfort zone a little bit. That’s what I tell people when they ask me what do I like about photography or what do I like taking pictures of. I go through that train of thought. Sometimes, I get blank stares back at me. So you’re really focused on that one moment in time and you’ll never be in that same exact time continuum again. Yeah, I guess when you put it that way.
John: That’s hilarious. They just got sucked into some matrix vortex where they’re like, “Holy crap, I don’t even know if I’m a real person right now. Is this even real?” that’s awesome, man.
Jason: They jump to reminding them, “Okay. Your debits are on the left. Your credits are on the right.”
John: Exactly. And here’s a really good whiskey to follow that up. That’s such great advice for everyone listening though. That’s really awesome. That’s so cool. Yeah. Wow. I guess before I wrap this up, it’s only fair that I allow you to rapid-fire question me. Although after hearing that, I’m a little bit nervous because these are going to be hard. So here we go.
Jason: All right. Just a couple easy ones here. What is your favorite place to visit for work?
John: I thought you said easy. No, I’m kidding. That’s a tricky question to answer because every city is cool for one or two nights. Everywhere I visited, there’s neat things that are there that you’re not going to see everywhere else or a local restaurant or a local ice cream blaze if you know what I’m saying. But I’m trying to think of fun places that I’ve been for work. Well, I mean Bermuda wasn’t a bad one. That was a pretty fun one.
John: Yeah, a speaking event there. Yeah. The ones with direct flights are especially good.
Jason: That is a legitimate answer.
John: That’s probably direct flights I’m a big fan of. So really, in all of those.
Jason: All right. Well, let’s flip it a little bit. What’s your favorite place to visit for pleasure?
John: Oh, yeah. Well, my wife and I went to Costa Rica earlier this year. And wow, that was fantastic. Yeah. I definitely want to go back there for sure. But also Cape Town, South Africa is probably the coolest city I’ve ever been to. It’s a long flight, but it’s worth it when you get there.
Jason: Nice. Okay, last question. What is your biggest pet peeve when you travel?
John: Oh, yeah, easily, easily, easily. People that have their phones and just watch a video on max volume or FaceTime with somebody on max volume in the airport or wherever. Like I don’t want to listen to this anymore. Yeah. I’ve started collecting the earphones that they hand out. Then I give somebody an early birthday present because no one else wants to listen to that crap. So cut it out. Oh, I have so many. Or the people that are in pre-check but they think that they have to take everything out of their bag and just hold up a line. I will go in front of you because I’m not waiting. I mean I know how things work because I was just here last week. It’s, yeah, those two things for sure.
Jason: I figure that could be the topic of your second book. It’s My Pet Peeves While Traveling. I will co-author that book.
John: Oh, man. Yeah. That’ll be the longest book ever written. It’ll be War and Peace or John and Jason’s Pet Peeves While Traveling. Yeah.
Jason: That’s my plan.
John: I love it. Well, this was so much fun catching up, Jason. Thanks for being a part of What’s Your “And”?
Jason: Thanks for having me, John.
John: Absolutely. Everyone listening, if you want to see some pictures of Jason in action or some of the pictures Jason has taken 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. 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.
Dave is an Office Managing Partner & Drone Photographer & Scuba Diver
Dave Recchion is a risk management professional for LBA Haynes Strand. His journey in helping companies manage their risks has led him to some more risky passions with Drone Photography and Scuba Diving.
Dave and John talk about the connection of his hobbies and his job as an Office Managing Partner through risk assessment, how the firm encourages their employees to share their passions among one another, and how both an organization and an individual play important roles in encouraging an open work environment!
• Getting into drone photography
• How drones change the dynamic of photography
• Connections of risk assessment between his job and his hobbies
• Getting into scuba diving
• Putting up his gun range targets outside of his office
• Favorite places for scuba diving
• Other common discussion topics at work
• It’s the little things that matter
• Importance of governance and risk assessment in work and life
• Organizations set the tone
• How LBA Haynes Strand encourages work/life balance
• You’ll get greater value from your passions by sharing them with others
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Welcome to Episode 227 of What’s Your “And”? This is John Garrett. Each Wednesday, I interview a professional who, just like me, is known for a hobby or a passion or an interest outside of work. To put it in another way, it’s encouraging people to find their and, they’re an accountant and something, they’re a lawyer and something, you’re an architect and something. It’s those things that are above and beyond your technical skills that actually differentiate you at work and are probably really your true, true passions.
I’m so excited to let everyone know that my book is being published in just a few weeks. It will be available on Amazon and a few other websites. So check out whatsyourand.com for all the details. I can’t say how much it means that everyone’s listening to this show and changing the cultures where they work because of it.
Please don’t forget to hit Subscribe so you don’t miss any of the future episodes because I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week. This week is no different with my guest, Dave Recchion. He’s a Principal with LBA Haynes Strand in Greensboro, North Carolina, office. Now he’s with me here today.
Dave, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
David: Yeah, John, my pleasure. Thanks so much.
John: I’m excited to have you on, but you know the drill, right out of the gate, 17 rapid-fire questions.
David: Let’s go.
John: All right, you’re ready. Look at you. All right, here we go. We got an easy one, favorite color?
John: Nice. Okay, a least favorite color?
John: Maroon. Interesting. Is there a reason?
David: There’s a football team that I don’t like.
John: There you go. Okay, that makes sense. How about, you fly a lot, airplane seats, window or aisle?
David: Oh, definitely aisle.
John: Definitely aisle. There you go. How about a favorite actor or actress?
David: Favorite actor, Jon Voight.
John: Oh, solid answer. Yeah, really good. Yeah, he hasn’t been in a lot lately.
David: I don’t even know where that came from, but I used to like him.
John: Yeah, yeah, no, he’s really good. Do you prefer more suit and tie or jeans and a t-shirt?
David: Definitely jeans and t-shirt.
John: Yeah, there you go. All right. How about pens or pencils?
John: Pens. No mistakes. Look at you, man.
David: That’s what the trash can is for.
John: Right. Perfect. And puzzles, Sudoku or crossword?
David: Definitely Sudoku.
John: Definitely. All right. And then when it comes to trilogy, Star Wars or Star Trek?
David: Star Trek. I know that’s going to kill a lot of people but yeah, I’m older so that’s my group.
John: Yeah, you got to go with it, man. Your computer, PC or Mac?
David: Definitely Mac.
John: Wow. Okay. All right.
David: All in on the Apple products.
John: Yeah, you’re one of the cool kids. I am not. So good for you, man. Favorite ice cream flavor?
David: Definitely going to be — actually, it’s not some ice cream, but it is a gelato.
John: Gelato, okay. And a flavor of gelato?
David: Yeah, I’m going with strawberry gelato.
John: Strawberry gelato. There you go. It’s healthier, right?
David: Yep, exactly.
John: Then you can eat twice as much.
David: I do when I’m in Italy.
John: Yeah, perfect. How about balance sheet or income statement?
David: Income statement.
John: Okay. All right. Do you have a favorite band or musician?
David: Well, I’m going to definitely have to think about that one because I don’t have one that comes off the top of my head. I like a lot of genres of music.
John: Okay. Yeah, no, fair enough. Fair enough. Yeah, you just turned it on and let’s listen.
John: That works for me, man. Prefer more hot or cold?
David: I prefer cold.
John: Prefer cold, okay. How about a favorite adult beverage?
David: I like a good cold beer.
John: There you go. Three more, favorite number?
David: Favorite number? It’s got to be seven.
John: And is there a reason?
David: It’s a perfect number. That’s why.
John: Yes, the most popular answer.
David: Is it really?
John: Yeah, totally, by far. I mean, it’s my favorite number and mostly from my sports days. Toilet paper, roll over or under.
David: Totally over. I trained my wife for a lot of years. It’s got to go over.
John: Right. And the last one, the favorite thing you own or the favorite thing you have?
David: Ooh, favorite thing I own, I would definitely have to say it’s going to be one of my hobbies which is my drone.
John: Oh, wow, what kind of drone is it?
David: It’s called a Mavic Pro and just an outdoor photography kind of drone.
John: Oh, sweet. Yeah, that sounds big.
David: Yeah, it’s big.
John: That’s awesome, man. Well, we can jump right into that because I know that there’s quite a few passions that you have outside of work, which is awesome. But yeah, drones, how did you get started with that?
David: So it’s kind of cool. It’s a natural transition for me. I used to be really into photography, outdoor, nature photography. I would go for days at a time and go up to the mountains. Living in North Carolina, it’s easy to do. Go for a couple days and just take some outdoor scenic views. And then this whole drone camera technology came into play, and it’s so cool. It’s just a whole different view of photography now that I get to take from 200, 300 feet in the air.
John: And so did you jump in with this Mavic drone, or did you start with smaller ones?
David: I jumped right in. I’m 59 years old, so there’s no question progression at this stage in life. I’m just going in full speed.
John: Right. That’s great. That’s very cool. I mean, up in the mountains, I assume you get some pretty awesome pictures.
David: Yeah. We just recently traveled internationally and I wanted to take it with me, but the international laws are so quirky. It’s just there are so many of them right now that it’s kind of risky to do so I didn’t, but I take it where I know I can up into the mountains in North Carolina.
John: That’s cool. And do you have any cooler pictures that you’ve gotten where you’re like, “Wow, that was totally exactly what I’m doing this for”?
David: Well, I mean, it’s kind of cool. When you get to 100 feet, it’s one view and you get to 200 and then you get up to 400 feet and then it just changes the whole dynamics. And that’s kind of what I love about it is that instead of looking at a tree or an animal or something in the forest, you can see the entire forest and just gives you this 10,000-foot view, which is awesome.
John: That’s really interesting, especially when you’re able to take somewhat of a similar picture from different elevations.
David: Yeah, yeah, exactly.
John: And just to have them side by side and be like, “Oh, wow.” This was all the same time. It’s just from different points of view.
David: You stare at something for long enough, and you’re looking at it from eye level. And you can appreciate the beauty of it, but you don’t realize like there’s this entire different worldview of that same thing. It’s kind of that similarity that I have between that and scuba diving because it’s the same thing. It’s like a different world. You’ve been in the water all your life and beaches and oceans, and you start to dive and you realize, wow, it’s a whole new world down there. And that’s kind of what the drones di for me. It’s just given me this view that there’s a whole different world from up there.
John: Yeah, just going up where the scuba is obviously going down. I’m glad you figured that one out. All the listeners out there, look at me, hold on. I got to renew my Mensa membership right now. No, but it’s such a cool thing that you’re able to understand that and appreciate that as opposed to just taking the pictures and whatever. It’s actually using that perspective and then applying it to, I would imagine, everyday life.
David: Yeah, exactly.
John: Yeah, which I think we’ll get to in just a minute. But the scuba, were you doing that from when you were younger, or did you start that in your mid-50s as well, drone get a scuba mask for free type of thing?
David: As you’ll learn a little bit more, I kind of manage risks for business. So on the business side, I’m always kind of helping companies manage their risks. And on the outside, the things that I love doing, scuba diving, drones and shooting guns, they’re all high risk kind of activities. I started diving when I was 50. I got my license when I turned 50. So everything in my life has progressed from one thing to another, from nature photography to drones, from snorkeling into scuba diving, and from shooting a BB gun or whatever and just shooting real guns. Each of these things kind of I started later in life, and I’m not sure exactly why I never went through a challenge where I felt like I was questioning who I was. I always felt like I was solid and who I was didn’t go through midlife or anything. Just started picking up some really cool things that I became fascinated with, could afford to do it, and really have some fun with it.
John: That is interesting, the parallels between doing risk management for a career basically versus practicing that risk management skill, I guess, exercising that muscle outside of work.
David: Yeah, exactly.
John: That’s really fascinating. So the guns was something that you — shooting range type stuff is something that you got into later in life as well?
David: Yeah, just in the last couple years. I just felt like I wanted to certainly learn to protect myself more but not that I hang out in really bad areas or anything.
John: I would imagine some risk management when you’re out in nature and there’s bears.
David: Yeah, just making some smart business decisions that really kind of can protect you and protect your security and all of those things I think kind of is where I’ve transitioned to.
John: Yeah, yeah. No, I think that’s really interesting. Are these things that you talk about at work at all?
David: Yeah, actually, right outside of my office, I have my first targets that I shot. So people walk down to my office, and they get to see the quality of my clustering of shots.
John: That’s awesome.
David: Yeah, they’re actually very comfortable when they see it realize that I’d never hit right.
John: Right, exactly. It’s a clean piece of paper. That’s funny. The scuba, I imagine, you’ve done that all over the world. Do you have a favorite place that you’ve been or a couple?
David: Yeah, honestly, the Caribbean is just — there’s no place like it. I’ve done that in Hawaii and Florida and other parts of the world, but I’ve not done anything too dramatic to do major diving overseas. But I would say that Caribbean is absolutely the right place to go if you’re interested in scuba diving. It’s safe. The water is amazing. I highly encourage anybody who’s ever tried to snorkel to scuba dive because it’s life changing to be able to see the experience from looking down on it to looking straight at it.
John: Right. Yeah. And I’ve done scuba in Hawaii and Bermuda. I was able to go through a little bit of a shipwreck, and wow, crazy. I mean, just really cool.
David: That’s really cool stuff.
John: Yeah, I mean, it wasn’t deep. It’s Bermuda, so there’s a billion of them. But still, just to have that perspective, and it’s also the currents that are underwater. You wouldn’t really know that. You would think, oh, it’s just you’re hanging out. It’s like, no, you’re swimming. It’s hard. There’s some force going on there.
John: That’s really neat. And so before these activities, did you have something else that you’ve talked about in the office or a way to create connections with people?
David: Yeah. I used to play a good amount of golf. That’s probably been one of my top discussion points through the years.
John: And that’s something that’s pretty common, I would imagine.
David: Yeah, it is. Between that and kind of lake living. We have a lake house. Just being on the water and being around the water is what I talked about for years and years before I talked about going into it as far as I do.
John: But there was always something there. Would you say that any of these passions outside of work interests give you a skill that you bring to the office?
David: I would say absolutely. It’s part of my personality, and my learned experiences in business is the structure and the security around everything that I do. It’s just kind of really easy to jump into the water with something that helps you breathe and without the proper controls and processes and tools, you’re taking your life into your hands. I feel the same way about guns candidly and drones. I mean, you could really hurt somebody by flying it to high or into a crowded space or something like that.
John: So it’s almost like one strengthens the other and then vice versa.
David: Very much so. And I’ll tell you, in my experience, the whole idea of helping clients to manage risk, it’s generally not the big picture things that they need to fix. It’s these little things that really can make a big difference. And whether I’m talking about guns or drones or scuba diving, it’s the little things that really make a difference. It’s just making sure that you are taking those key precautions and putting those controls into place so that you can enjoy the experience to the greatest.
John: Yeah, no, I love that because it is. It’s all these little things that add up when you combine them. It’s not the one big thing that’s going to get you usually because that’s something you’ll see pretty easily.
David: And I tell clients all the time as I’m talking to them, I share with them that putting governance and risk management around something is kind of like the dotted lines and the guardrails of a road. Put the dotted lines down the middle so you know which lane to be in. And you put the guardrails so that you can’t go swerve too far off the road. Those things help you to go faster. They help you to improve your efficiency to actually enjoy the experience a lot more. And I feel that same way about scuba and guns and drones. It’s just making sure those controls are around you so that you can really be fulfilled by the experience.
John: No, that’s interesting, because then you’re not really thinking about — when the safety measures are put in place, you’re not thinking about them because you have that guardrails on the lane. You can just let it rip because you know that you’ll just ping off or whatever. You’ll just keep going. More times than not, you might not even come close to them. So how much do you feel like it’s on an organization to create this culture where people are sharing their hobbies and passions and hanging up there targets after they go to the range and what have you? And how much is it on the individual to maybe create that small circle for themselves?
David: I think it’s really important that the tone is set from the top. That encourages people, that enables people to share their passions, and then the responsibility is up to the individual to be open enough, be willing enough to kind of share those experiences and those joys and those life experiences with others.
John: You know, I remember when I started back in the day, I was in PwC and Big Four, it wasn’t necessarily encouraged. It wasn’t discouraged, but it just wasn’t a thing. But I find that that it really matters what people’s passions are.
David: It does. I came from E&Y. I was a partner at E&Y before I started my own firm and then sold it to be LBA Haynes Strand. At E&Y, even when I was there, and that was not too long ago, that was in the last seven to 10 years, this was much more important and it was much more important to me and to my group of people that I work with, that they enjoyed and got the greatest joy out of their personal time. And that work-life balance started to become a pretty strong voice in business, and now I think it’s really hit its stride.
John: Right. Yeah, you get that greatest joy out of your personal time. And then if you’re able to talk about that joy when you’re at work, then work just becomes better.
David: It does.
John: And then if you’re able to use a skill maybe that you get from outside of work or a client that does something that is in the industry that you love to do or what have you, then magic happens.
David: No question about it. If anybody has ever talked to a client about something that’s of passion to both of you, it is a relationship key. It becomes a foundation for that business relationship.
John: Which is something that, unfortunately, they don’t always teach us in school or in CPE. It’s all technical skills. Technical skills are important, but computers are doing that too. Kind of like the one thing that computers can’t do is create that connection and that relationship. So that’s cool that you’re doing that. Are there things that you guys do at the firm there that encourage this?
David: Yeah. One of the things that we do is just our policy states that we have unlimited PTO time. So you don’t get two weeks of vacation or one week of vacation. You do your job and if you do it well and you talk to your boss about it and you want to go spend three weeks doing something, there’s a high likelihood that it would be approved to be able to do that regardless of how long you’ve been here. So I think encouraging people to take personal time is something that when you know you have three or four weeks of vacation time, it’s easy to plan around it. You know you’re not going to lose it. You’re going to use it. But that’s one of the challenges for us is that with unlimited PTO time, people don’t know where the wall is. So I encourage our folks all the time, just take the time, go enjoy, and we’ll document it, we’ll manage it the way it needs to be managed. But we definitely want to encourage people to get their balance outside of the office so that they’re much more productive and more valuable when they come back.
John: Right. And plus, you’re setting the tone at the top for the office as well, the partner group. You took five weeks off to travel and take some time away and refresh. You know how important that is for you, and so when they see that it’s like, oh, well, it’d be different if Dave was in the office 24/7 and always working, but you’re setting that example, which is really great.
David: Thank you. It is definitely a fine line. It’s a balance of encouraging and enabling people but also making sure that people aren’t taking advantage and one person is and one person isn’t. So it’s managing that execution of it is ultimately the kind of the challenge of it, but you got to encourage it.
John: Yeah, especially in a lot of the professional services world, a lot of these individuals are permission-based individuals. They’re writing for permission. They are not rule breakers. They’re not going to push the limits. They’re not going to find out where the wall is type of thing. They’re going to wait for you to tell them. So it does make it harder to manage, but I think in the long run, the net positive is much greater.
John: Very cool. So do you have any words of encouragement to people listening that maybe think that their hobby or passion has nothing to do with their career?
David: Yeah. The first thing I would say is if you have a passion, figure out a way to share that passion. And when you do that, you’ll appreciate everything else that you do. I would absolutely encourage people to take hold of something that’s really important to you. Do it and then share it. In sharing it, you’ll get greater value from it.
John: It almost fuels the fire sort of a thing. I think sometimes in our own heads, we think people are going to judge us or they don’t care or whatever, and we’re not in seventh grade anymore. Everyone’s going to think it’s cool no matter what it is.
David: John, that’s what I like about what you do because it’s not about me telling everybody what I do, which is really cool. What’s important as a leader is me asking people what gets I’m excited, what turns them on, what motivates them. So the more I can do what you’re doing and ask those questions, I’ll be a better leader.
John: That’s where it’s at. Maybe for you accounting lights you up, but —
David: It doesn’t.
John: — for a lot of people, it’s not. You just said, it doesn’t. So you know you’re good at it and it’s your job and clearly a very good career out of it, but there’s other things in your life as well. And the people that are working at the firm are the same way. I think that sometimes it’s easy for us to forget that. Get to the charge code and billable hours, billable hours, and it’s like, well, there’s life and what’s the output that I’m giving you?
David: Yeah, exactly.
John: So that’s cool and that relationship and that conversation that goes to that next level, all of a sudden, you’re actually really getting to know people and it’s fun, right?
David: Yeah, exactly.
John: I imagine there’s got to be, you know, sometimes we’re like, “Wait, what? You got to tell me more about that?” because every time I speak, I always have the audience do a little piece of that. There’s always at one table where they’re like, “What?” You can just hear them from the stage. I’m like, wait, I got to go find out. What’s going on? Somebody is a DJ or somebody, whatever, scuba dives and drones or whatever. That’s great, man. That’s really great.
So before we wrap this up, it’s only fair that I allow you to turn the table on me and rapid-fire question me.
David: Nice, nice.
John: So I’m buckled up here. I took all my risk management precautions and I am ready.
David: Okay. So my first most important question, I know you love ice cream, ice cream or gelato?
John: Oh, wow. Yeah, that’s tough. That’s actually a very hard one. I’ll go gelato only because it’s more unique, so you don’t get it as much. They are starting to have it in grocery stores, but it is still more of a unique thing. So I guess I’ll say gelato.
David: Cool. Favorite football team and division? Because I know you’re a big college football guy.
John: If it came to the pros, yeah, I don’t even know anymore. When I was a kid growing up, it was definitely the Dallas Cowboys, Tony Dorsett and Danny White and Roger Staubach before that, and Tom Landry was the coach, those teams. Pre-Jimmy Johnson was definitely my NFL team growing up. I guess now that I’m in Denver, I guess I’ve adopted the Broncos, but I’m not sure if they play sometimes. I guess, yeah, NFC East then, the division.
David: And how about college?
John: College, definitely Notre Dame for sure.
David: Well, sorry to hear that. I’m a pretty boilermaker guy, so I hate that.
John: No, it’s fine. You’ll get football soon, Dave. It’s going to come back. They’re good, man. They won their first game pretty big.
David: Yeah, yeah.
John: Yeah. Purdue is on their way back. They got a really good coach.
David: One last question for you, give me your favorite 30 seconds of sports history.
John: So in 2012, Notre Dame went undefeated, and I was at the game when Notre Dame played Stanford. There was the goal line stand at the end of the game with no time left, and Manti Te’o stuffed the linebacker at like the one-inch line, game over on a goal line stand was insane. Absolute insanity.
John: And I was there too. It was crazy. It was raining, and it was just nuts. And then it was a weird game but so crazy. I mean, just emotionally exhausting because I felt like I had played from cheering and all that for the whole fourth quarter, just it was nuts. What a classic sports game. It was super fun.
No, really good question, though, man. That made me dig deep.
David: Yeah, good.
John: Yeah, that was one — just me being there. I’ll never forget that. My best friend from high school and then after the game, we were able to get down on the field. So cool. Well, thanks, Dave. This was so much fun. Thanks for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
David: My pleasure. Absolutely, John. I appreciate your hosting that. I’m sincere about that. I appreciate what you’re doing is encouraging people to ask and seek out what’s important to other people. That’s a really big deal.
John: Well, thanks, David. That means a lot.
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