Bill is a CEO & Musician
Bill Mandara Jr., CEO of Mancini Duffy, talks about his passion for playing music, how it helps him with his career as a CEO, how Mancini Duffy encourages its employees to discuss their hobbies, and much more!
• Getting into performing music
• How performing music has helped his career
• Why it is important for an organization to set the tone from the top
• How Mancini Duffy encourages an open work environment
Please take 2 minutes
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Mary is an Accountant & Macro Photographer
Mary McDonald talks about her hobby of macro-outdoor photography, how it is a conversation starter in the office, how it has improved her relationships both in and out of the office, and much more!
• What macro photography is
• Getting into macro-outdoor photography
• Why she struggles with calling herself a photographer
• How her photography has helped her career
Please take 2 minutes
to do John’s anonymous survey
about Corporate Culture!
Clint is a CFO & Writer/Podcaster
Clint Murphy, CFO of Mosaic Homes, talks about discovering his passion for writing and podcasting, how it has improved his communication skills, why it’s so important to always have an And, and much more!
• Starting his podcast
• Always have another And
• How big of a role the leadership can play in workplace culture
Please take 2 minutes
to do John’s anonymous survey
about Corporate Culture!
Jon is a Communications Consultant & Themed Party Host
Jon Ekstrom, a Communications Consultant at Deft Communications, talks about his passion for organizing theme parties, the different themes he has done, why it’s important to have structure when putting together a party and much more!
• Getting into themed parties
• Adding structure to a party
• Different themes
• Always keep them guessing
• What every organization needs to ask themselves
Please take 2 minutes
to do John’s anonymous survey
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A collection of Jon’s photos from his Beer Pong Tournament and Kenny Lagers parties over the years
Angie is a Consultant & Colorado Native
Angie MacPhee, Consulting Managing Partner for Baker Tilly, shares her passion for being a Colorado native, mainly hiking the mountains of Colorado. She talks about how hiking has helped her with setting goals at work, how Baker Tilly encourages its employees to discuss their hobbies and much more!
• Getting into hiking
• Disconnect Day
• Her favorite hike
• Setting goals
• Finding balance in yourself
• How both the individual and the organization play a role in workplace culture
Please take 2 minutes
to do John’s anonymous survey
about Corporate Culture!
Alex is an Advisor/Consultant & Avid Biker
Alex Drost, Founder of Connection Builders, talks about his passion for biking, creating better client relationships, culture surveys, and more!
• Getting into biking
• Skills from biking that translate into his career
• Creating better client relationships
• How both the organization and the individual play a role in shaping company culture
• Culture surveys
Please take 2 minutes
to do John’s anonymous survey
about Corporate Culture!
Michele is a Learning and Development & Self Defense Instructor
Michele Harrison, Learning and Development Manager at Janover LLC, talks about her passion for Krav Maga and teaching self-defense, how it has given her discipline and patience in the workplace, and much more!
• Getting into Krav Maga
• Skills from learning self-defense that apply to her career
• Teaching self-defense
• Applying her self-defense skills in work presentations
• How both the individual and the organization play a role in workplace culture
Please take 2 minutes
to do John’s anonymous survey
about Corporate Culture!
- Read Full TranscriptOpen or Close
Welcome to Episode 533 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 another way, it’s encouraging people to find their “and”, those things above and beyond your technical skills, the things that actually differentiate you at work.
And I’d wanna just take a quick moment here to plug Michael Puck’s globaldogart.com. Michael was a guest on the podcast last year, and he’s a dog photographer. It’s his “and.” And he has teamed with other dog photographers to create globaldogart.com. It’s really cool ’cause research has shown that pictures of dogs increase our well-being, reduce stress. They foster social connections amongst people, promote trusting relationships in business settings. So why not pictures of dogs? Really cool pictures of dogs in the workplace or at home. So check out globaldogart.com. All the proceeds go to save 1 million dogs by 2030. So it’s a really good cause from Michael Puck who shared his “and” on What’s Your “And”?
And don’t forget to check out the book as well. It’s whatsyourand.com. You can get the book there. And it’s available on Barnes & Noble, Bookshop, Amazon, Indigo, all the websites. So check it out. And 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, Michele Harrison. She’s a learning and development manager with Janover. And now, she’s with me here today. Michele, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Michele: Thanks so much, John. It’s great to be here.
John: Oh, this is gonna be great. We met at the Janover event that I spoke at, and I’m so glad that we’re able to make this happen.
John: So I’m excited.
Michele: It’s taken us a little bit to get here, but we’re finally here.
John: It’s worth it. It’s totally worth it. And I have rapid-fire questions I probably should have asked you when we were hanging out, but I didn’t. And we’re gonna get to know Michele on a new level here. This is probably an easy one. Favorite color?
Michele: Oh, blue.
John: Blue. Solid. Okay. Mine too. How about a least favorite color?
Michele: I’d probably say yellow.
John: Yellow. Interesting. Okay. All right. A little too bright.
John: How about a favorite TV show of all time?
Michele: Favorite TV show of all time would be The Wire.
John: Oh, interesting. Okay. All right. There you go. That’s a great show. When it comes to puzzles, Sudoku, crossword, or a jigsaw puzzle?
Michele: Oh, jigsaw puzzle.
John: There you go. Pictures. Nice. Would you say you’re more talk or text?
John: Text. Okay.
John: How about a favorite actor or an actress?
Michele: I’m pretty old school, so I would say probably Betty Davis.
John: Wow! That’s really old school. Okay. But a really good pick.
John: That’s fantastic. Very good. Very good. This is an important one. Toilet paper roll, over or under?
Michele: Always over.
John: Always over. Are you one of those that changes it when you’re over at a friend’s place and they—
Michele: Not a friend’s place, but at my own home, yeah.
John: Oh, okay. Okay. All right. All right. Just seeing what level we’re at here. Star Wars or Star Trek?
Michele: Definitely Star Wars.
John: Yeah. I’m same. Yeah. Yeah. When it comes to books, audio version, e-Book, or a real book?
Michele: I really like real books.
John: Yeah, I’m the same.
Michele: Yeah. Turn the page. Feel the paper.
John: Yeah, definitely. How about a favorite number?
John: 7. Solid. Is there a reason?
Michele: It’s funny. It’s kind of a neutral number. It’s not too low. It’s not too high. 1 through 10, it’s that neutral number.
John: That’s great. Yeah. Yeah. It’s in the middle. All right. No. And 5 is too on point.
John: It’s like you can’t be the exact metal. All right. I like that. How about your computer? PC or Mac?
John: PC. Yeah. Definitely. And when it comes to your mouse, right click or left click?
Michele: Oh, right click.
John: Oh, right. Opening up all the menus and the cool stuff. All right. All right. How about prefer more hot or cold?
Michele: Well, I live in Phoenix, so I definitely prefer the heat.
John: Oh, there you go, man. That’s a next level heat right there. That’s impressive. Then you gotta eat some ice cream. Ice cream in a cup or a cone?
John: Cone. Oh, nice.
Michele: Yeah, every day.
John: Okay. Every day. Right. There you go. I like it. I like it. You’re my kind of people. How about a favorite sports team?
Michele: Oh, the Patriots.
John: Oh, okay.
John: All right. Interesting. You’re one of those. All right.
Michele: I am one of those.
John: That’s all right. Yeah. You’re gonna act like the ’80s and ’90s didn’t happen.
Michele: Very much so.
John: Right, right. It’s the time being specifically the Belichick Patriots.
John: It’s really what we’re talking about. Tom Brady. And I think I got two more. Cheeseburger or pizza?
Michele: Ooh, pizza.
John: Pizza, okay. Yeah. Very good. And the last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own?
Michele: I’d probably say my home gym.
John: Oh, okay. All right.
Michele: I spent many years building it, and it’s just a way to disconnect since I work from home.
John: Very cool. And it ties in perfectly with Krav Maga, which is like I had never heard of before until we met.
And I was like “Well, that sounds dangerous, but also really cool.” So how did you get started with that?
Michele: So Krav Maga was a way for me to meet people. I moved to Phoenix in 2014. I didn’t know anyone. And I had taken martial arts as a kid. My family was military, so my dad got me into karate when I was young. And I’d always kind of wanted to go back, but I’d never lived in a city that kind of had a ton of options. And I’d read about Krav Maga before. And I was like “Well, maybe someone in Phoenix does it.” And it just so happened that I go to EVKM Self-Defense and Fitness, and our head instructor actually got certified in Israel and is one of the top rated instructors in the country.
John: Oh, wow. And so, this is an Israeli self-defense?
Michele: Yeah. So it is an Israeli self-defense. It was created by— I’m gonna butcher his name— by Imi Lichtenfeld, who kind of helped create it to kind of protect the neighborhoods kind of around that World War II era. And then when they moved people to Israel, he was kind of brought in to help train the military, make sure that everyone could defend themselves ’cause in Israel, everyone has to join the military. Doesn’t matter if you’re female or male. And so, they had to create a system that could be used by anyone.
John: Wow. Very cool. And so, you just read about it and you’re like “Hey, I’d like to learn this one” as opposed to karate or whatever, like yeah.
Michele: I did a lot of research before I decided.
John: And what is different about Krav Maga to maybe other things as a person that doesn’t know much about any martial arts, I guess? I’ve seen Karate Kid and that’s about it.
Michele: Yeah. Well, I think, for me, personally, what sets Krav Maga apart from some other martial arts is it’s very much a toolbox. So we teach you tools and you can use those tools to defend multiple situations. And everything is the simplest form. So it’s no complicated katas. It’s nothing that involves 10 to 15 steps. You should be able to get it in 4 to 5, if not much less.
John: All right. Nice. And do you have any, I guess, like cool memories from since you starting to Krav Maga?
Michele: Yeah. I would say, you know, one of the best things that has happened to me from being Krav is first off, you know, I’ve met some of my best friends there, some of the best friends I’ll probably ever have in my life. But I’ve also gotten many opportunities to go and train with some very well-known martial artist everywhere from UFC fighters to glory kickboxing champions, to people who actually were in the military in Israel. And just kind of getting those different perspectives and sharing that love of martial arts and self-defense and that body awareness has been really awesome.
John: That’s impressive. I mean, yeah, to be around those people, but then also to train with them and to learn from them has gotta be really impactful. I mean, it’s learning how to play golf with professional golfers. Like just it raises your game.
John: You know, you just become better and that’s very cool. And then I know that the pictures that you submitted that people can see at whatsyourand.com, you’ve competed as well.
Michele: Yup. Part of what we do in Krav is the expectation is that you should be able to handle yourself in situations at certain levels and be, not competitive, but be able to survive in other martial arts practices. So it’s not about being better than other martial arts. It’s about being able to challenge yourself and survive. And so, one of the prerequisites for getting your black belt is that you have to do an actual sanction fight, whether that be boxing, Muay Thai. So I did a Muay Thai tournament. And I won gold in my division.
John: Wow! Congratulations!
Michele: Thank you.
John: So you didn’t even train in Muay Thai, but then you won it.
John: Which shows that the Krav Maga can translate to other disciplines, I guess, which is really cool. That’s awesome.
Michele: And I think the great thing about Krav is that we’re very willing to pull things in from different martial arts. So we do pull in stuff from Muay Thai, from boxing, from Jujitsu. It’s kind of about what works best for everyone. And if another martial arts already knows how to do it, well, we’re gonna incorporate that.
John: Well, yeah. Why reinvent the wheel type of thing, which is great, which I would imagine would be a skillset that translates to work a little bit. Or is there another skillset that you feel like that martial arts allows you to be able to do differently?
Michele: I think the biggest thing has probably been I don’t allow myself to get as stressed about work stuff as maybe I used to when I was young and I didn’t know anymore. I think martial arts and especially self-defense, I work with a lot of people who have gone through really horrible traumas. I mean, for some people, there is a reason why they’re showing up every day to train, and it’s because horrible things have happened to them. And so, kind of my work motto, I don’t know if everyone will agree, but I’m kind of like this is not an emergency.
There’s no such thing as a training emergency. We can always solve the problem. There’s always alternative solutions. And I think it’s allowed me to really remain calm when other people maybe have been panicking because a prominent rule of Krav is like address the immediate threat. So figure out what the immediate threat is and that’s the first thing that you need to address.
John: I mean, which is such a great skillset to have anyway, but definitely makes you a better professional. And that’s funny how you were like I’m not sure if everyone would agree, but not everything’s in emergency. But really, sometimes things really are an emergency, but it’s also like the emergency isn’t as big as what maybe what some people want it to be. It’s actually the emergency is this little part and then the other stuff is just, you know, collateral or whatever damage. And it is cool that you do the self-defense instructor as well. And so, how long have you been doing that side of it?
Michele: I have been an instructor since 2017.
John: Oh, okay. And so, do you feel like you learn a little bit differently from teaching?
Michele: Yeah. And it’s so funny because what I do for a hobby is kind of what I also do as a job, which is instruction, learning, and development. And I think what it does is you can have someone tell you how to do a technique and you can just do it like “Okay, we’re going to deal with a choke from the front today and I know how to do the defense.” But being able to explain to someone else how to do it when maybe they’ve never seen it before, I think it gives you a higher understanding because you start to understand why do we break things down certain ways, why do we explain it this way, because it allows for better learning. And we also try to incorporate like verbal learning, visual learning, and then learning through doing. So, it allows us to kind of touch all those points that all different people are in different ways.
John: I love that ’cause you’re basically exercising that muscle outside of work so then when you come to work, you’re just better and stronger at doing the learning and development, so that’s really cool. That’s huge overlap definitely ’cause, I mean, you’re literally doing it, but that’s really awesome. And have you shared this with coworkers? Do they know about this like throughout your career?
Michele: Yeah. So when I started it— It’s so funny that you ask. I talk about it at work because I’m very interested in what other people do as well. And self-defense to me is extremely important for people. And so, if me mentioning it just gets someone interested and even coming and trying one class, I’ve helped out someone in some way hopefully. So I’m very open to talking about it. John, I’ve actually used it in two instances. I used it once during an interview. I taught someone how to do a self-defense technique.
John: During an interview? That’s awesome.
Michele: During an interview. And then I have also— I used it in a cover letter.
John: Nice. There you go. Like why not?
John: That differentiates you. It’s like there’s a lot of people that do learning and development, but how many people do learning, and development, and self-defense instructor? That’s really awesome. Was that your thinking of like help me stand out, help me differentiate?
Michele: Yeah. It was a way to differentiate. We had to do a presentation. I had 5 minutes, and I couldn’t use like a PowerPoint. I couldn’t do anything like that. And so, I was like “Stand up. I’m gonna actually use you as my prop.” And she was very much just kind of like “Wait, what’s happening” and then was very— Like after I got hired at that job, she was very much like “I think I want my daughter to like do some self-defense. Can we talk about it?” And I was like “Yeah, like let’s definitely talk about that.”
John: I love how the after I got hired at that job because most people are like “Oh, well, there’s no way she got hired.” No, actually got hired for that job. You know? And that’s the same thing as like with my comedy like at the bottom of my resume. You know, I had big brothers, big sisters, and professional standup comedian and then job offer, you know, because people wanna be around real humans that have other dimensions to who they are.
John: And that’s really cool, you know. And then her daughter wants to now get lessons from you. And it’s like “All right.” It’s not like a make believe theory that might work. No, it straight works, you know, like to differentiate yourself. And that’s super awesome and especially that you share it ’cause some people— I don’t know. You get in your own head of, well, you know, this has nothing to do with the job. They’re not gonna care.
John: They’re gonna judge me for not being very dedicated or whatever. And it’s cool that you never thought that.
Michele: Yeah. I mean, I have had that experience before where I have had people question like if I was for the job because I had a hobby outside of it. And I was like “This is what allows me to like be the person you need in this role. I can be calm, I can make decisions, I can assess things because I go do all this stuff outside of work. And it’s never interrupted me doing my job.”
John: Yeah, exactly. I mean, if you’re able to get your work done, then gloves are off. Like you’re fair game. Like whatever you wanna do type of thing, which I think is super awesome that that’s been your experience as well. And how much do you feel like it’s on an organization to create that space to ask and encourage people to share their “and” and how much is it on the individual to just put it in the cover letter and let it rip type of thing or just create that small circle amongst their peers?
Michele: I think that it’s definitely a responsibility of a company to create an environment where people feel comfortable talking about themselves and not feel that it takes away from anything. Because if you can’t be comfortable being yourself in front of everyone, you’re not gonna feel comfortable doing the job or feel like you have the autonomy to do the job the way you need to get it done. But it’s also on the individual. That’s how you connect. So if you’re not wanting to make connections with the people you work with, then you’re not gonna share. But if you want to make connections, share what you do. I have found people who I didn’t realize did martial arts because I shared it randomly and then someone was like “Oh, I’m doing a jujitsu competition this weekend.” And I was like “I had no idea that you competed and trained.”
John: And then best friends like for no reason out of nowhere.
John: You know? Like it’s just a new level of connection, and interest, and all that. And also, I think it’s huge for like a sense of belonging. Like I’m not alone here. Especially over COVID and all that, like just loneliness and all that. So yeah, no, it’s definitely a big. Do you have any words of encouragement to people listening that maybe are thinking like I’ve got a hobby, but no one cares ’cause it has nothing to do with my work?
Michele: I would definitely say there is going to be someone or a group of people that you work with who do care, and who are interested, and who find it fascinating. It’s not gonna be everyone, but just keep sharing. And eventually, you’ll find that group that enjoys you for you and who you are outside of work. And it might introduce you to things that you didn’t realize. I have a friend who I didn’t know she drifts cars on the weekend. And so, I got to go ride with her and it was an amazing experience. And if we hadn’t like shared our hobbies with each other, would’ve had no idea.
John: Yeah. And I mean, like the jujitsu one where it’s like “Oh, I didn’t know that.” And it’s by, I think, sharing yours first kind of opens the gates. It makes it safe and then it also makes— You know, the universe is a little out of balance. So now, they have to reciprocate. It’s like “Well, you gotta say something now.”
Michele: And you need to celebrate the wins that you get outside of work just as much. Even something like “Oh, you bought a house? Like that’s amazing especially in today’s market.”
John: Right. Especially in today’s market.
Michele: Yeah. Why aren’t we celebrating that? Why don’t we know that? Like even simple things like “Oh, I finished my master’s degree.” Like someone saying that and being like “Yes, that’s awesome. You spent so much time in there.” “Oh, you won your jujitsu competition this weekend. That’s amazing. Like go out and do cool things, and do what makes you happy and what makes you excited.”
John: Ah, I like that. ‘Cause in that excitement, then that energy you can bring to work. And sometimes work is exciting, but sometimes it’s not. Your “and” is always exciting. I mean, that’s always fun. That’s why you’re doing it. And so, you do it and then you get that energy, get the inertia built up, and then go do work and bring that enthusiasm to it. So I love that mindset. Well, this has been awesome, Michele. And I feel like it’s only fair that I turn the tables since I so rudely fired questions at you at the beginning. So we make this The Michele Harrison Podcast, and thanks for having me on as a guest.
John: So I’m all yours, whatever you got. I’m buckled in.
Michele: Yeah. So, mountains or the beach?
John: Ah, yeah. So I live in Denver and I can see the mountains right now from my office. So I’m a little bit spoiled on that. So I’d probably say beach only because that involves I’m on vacation, and it’s probably also somewhere warm and sunny, and good food, and all that. So I’ll probably say beach only because I’m spoiled with the mountains right here. But man, mountains are pretty cool, but I’ll say beach if I had to pick one.
Michele: Oh, I love it. And so, you do stand up and that was kind of your “and.” So who is your favorite comedian?
John: Oh, wow, that’s great. Yeah, I mean, probably I had to pick one, it would probably be Brian Regan is probably my favorite. But you know, I mean Chappelle and Bill Burr have been on fire lately, and I mean just so good. And then like just friends of mine that I was in New York City with like Nate Bargatze, and Ryan Hamilton, and guys like that. Tommy Johnagin who’s now in LA and like just anyone that does it, especially for a living. I mean, just hats off. I mean, kudos. Like whether it’s my style of comedy or not, it’s a crazy, crazy life and you have to be really passionate about it to do it.
Yeah. I mean, I would say those. I mean, typically, the clean observational, you know, just looking at life a little bit differently in through a different lens than what you are in and also just a little bit of silly. Like Brian Regan’s always silly. There’s never an agenda to his comedy. No one’s getting offended. So that’s why I’d probably say him just ’cause it’s always good.
Michele: So I’m glad you brought up Nate Bargatze cuz he’s one of my favorite comedians, but also the bit that got him well known, you know, the Cape Fear Serpentarium bit that he does—
John: Right. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Michele: …so that’s where I went to college and I have been to that spot, the Cape Fear Serpentarium.
Michele: I had been to it. So when it came on Netflix and he did it, I was telling everyone, I was like “I’ve been there. That’s a real place. I promise it’s exactly as he described it.”
John: And that’s the thing, I mean Nate’s so good at just like being the every man of just like, you know— And the way he delivers, it’s just slow and deliberate. He’s just not overdoing it, but he’s also just describing something. Maybe you’ve been or maybe you haven’t, but the way that he paints the picture,—
Michele: You’re there.
John: …it’s real and it’s also through his lens of like “What the hell is this” type of thing where some people, whereas some people are like “Yeah, it’s normal. Whatever.” And then once you hear his bit, you’re like “Okay, now I can’t unhear this, we gotta go back and see what he’s talking about” type of thing.
Michele: Yeah. No, he’s great. So funny. Absolutely. Yeah. And a good guy too, which is always nice.
Michele: Well, I thank you so much, John, for having me on the podcast. And hopefully, we can get you out to Phoenix to train one day.
John: Oh, there we go. No, I love it. No, this has been great, Michele. And no, it’s just awesome to have you a part of What’s Your “And”? and yeah, so thanks for taking time and also just living the example
And everybody listening, if you wanna see some pictures of Michele in action or maybe connect with her on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. Everything’s there. And while you’re on the page, please click that big button. Do the anonymous research about corporate culture. And don’t forget to read the award-winning book. So thanks again for subscribing on Apple Podcasts 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.
Zach is a CPA & Runner
Zach Gordon, VP of Accounting at Propeller Industries, talks about his passion for running and traveling. He discusses how his experience in running marathons has helped him with discipline and goal setting in the workplace, his initial culture shock when he first started at Propeller, and much more!
• Getting into running
• His favorite marathon
• Discipline and setting goals
• How Propeller Industries encourages an open workplace culture
Please take 2 minutes
to do John’s anonymous survey
about Corporate Culture!
- Read Full TranscriptOpen or Close
Welcome to Episode 531 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’s about, be sure to check out the award-winning book. It’s on Amazon, Indigo, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop, a few other websites. All the links are at whatsyourand.com. 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 see 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.
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. And please don’t forget to hit subscribe to the podcast studio 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, Zach Gordon. He’s a VP of accounting at Propeller Industries in New York City and was a CPA practice advisor 40 under 40. And now, he’s with me here today. Zach, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Zach: Thanks so much for having me. I’m really excited to be here.
John: Yeah, this is gonna be so much fun. I have some rapid-fire questions though. Get to know Zach out of the gate here. I’ll ask you the first one. I love this one. A favorite animal. Any animal at all.
Zach: Dog. Gotta be a dog.
John: Dog. Okay. All right. Going old school. I like it.
Zach: It solves the dog or cat question. That’s easy.
John: I’m not even asking you that one. There we go. Perfect. All right. 16 rapid-fire questions now. No, I’m just kidding. How about puzzles? Sudoku, crossword, or jigsaw?
Zach: Well, given that we’re accountants, work with numbers, gotta be Sudoku.
John: Sudoku. There you go. I always joked that that’s how I do my tax returns.
Zach: You and me both.
John: You’re right. Yeah.
Zach: Kidding. Kidding. Anyone listening?
John: Right. It’s so annoying when you’re not a tax person and everyone thinks you should be. And it’s like no. Like we do more things than just tax, everybody.
Zach: Does every accountant do taxes?
John: Right? I mean, they do them. Are they right? Maybe, maybe not. Here’s a simple one for you. Favorite color?
John: Blue. Mine too. There you go. How about a least favorite color?
Zach: That’s a great question. Some electric pinks out there I just can’t get behind.
John: Perfect. Yeah, neon anything really. But neon pink, yeah, that’s pretty high up there. Are you more of a talk or a text?
Zach: Text. I mean, getting on the phone more than we have to already. You know, the Zoom fatigue is real. Let’s put it that way.
John: Very real. And I appreciate you making time to do this podcast. Definitely. Because texting it back and forth would be weird.
Zach: That might take a little more time.
John: A little bit. A little bit. How about a favorite comedian of all time?
Zach: That’s a really interesting question. Probably have to go Chris Rock.
John: Oh, yeah. Solid. Yeah, he’s great and super nice, which is cool too.
Zach: First comedian I ever saw live. So you know, something to that.
John: Well, that’s a pretty good start. How about a suit and tie or jeans and a T-shirt?
Zach: Depends. Usually, the jeans and T-shirt. But you know, if you have to suit up sometimes, we all have to do what we all have to do.
John: Yeah, absolutely. No, suit and tie is great, especially now that they have like the made to measure type companies.
Zach: I just got one. And man, it was perfect.
Zach: They’re wizards out there.
John: No, it’s so good. And like it makes you wanna wear it more ’cause it’s like I picked the lining, I picked all this like, and it fits right. You know, it’s not off the rack where you gotta, yeah, feel like you’re in a box. So, good for you, man. Yeah, that’s awesome. How about Star Wars or Star Trek?
Zach: Star Wars by a long shot.
John: Okay. Yeah, mine too. Same. How about your computer? More of a PC or a Mac?
Zach: You know, I had the blessing to be on a Mac for a long time, and I had to relearn how to use a PC once I got back into public accounting. So, Mac by a mile.
John: Okay. Okay. That’s funny how you called it a blessing. That’s awesome.
Zach: Listen, I know accounting software and some of the stuff that we need isn’t quite the same on a Mac, but it’s just so much easier and more intuitive to use.
John: There you go. I’m not cool enough to even walk into a Mac store. I’m just gonna take your word for it and keep going on.
Zach: Come on. Come on.
John: Right? Oh, maybe I’ll get around it now. Yeah, there we go. How about more oceans or mountains?
Zach: You know, it’s really interesting given that was just up in Colorado. Got to experience the mountains a little bit, but usually the ocean to be honest.
John: Yeah, it’s usually warmer. I don’t know why when you think ocean, you think beach. You don’t think Maine in February, you know.
Zach: No. Nobody wants to. Good Lord.
John: Nor do you want to. Right. Some things you can’t unhear like that.
Now, ice cream. I’m a huge ice cream junkie. Do you get it in a cup or a cone?
Zach: Oh, cone.
John: Cone. There you go. How about a favorite adult beverage?
Zach: Ooh, man. Been a real bourbon kick lately. So there’s a couple of local distilleries up here that have just been knocking out of the ballpark.
John: Nice. There you go. We got six more or five more. How about balance sheet or income statement?
Zach: Balance sheet. It tells the whole story.
John: Oh, okay. All right. All right. There you go. Your first concert.
Zach: So this is a little embarrassing. It was actually Kiss. I went with my mom.
John: That’s awesome. That’s incredible.
Zach: I must have been one of the three youngest people in the crowd. But yeah, she went to the concert at whatever the arena was called back in the day in Albany, New York. And yeah, we ended up going together, you know, 7 or 8, whatever I was. Yeah. That was quite the experience.
John: That is quite the experience. That’s awesome, man. That’s pretty cool. How about a favorite number?
Zach: 22. That was my baseball number. Stocker football for a million years.
John: Okay. Yeah. Solid. How about books? Audio version, e-Book, or real book?
Zach: Oh, the real book. There’s nothing like having a tangible book in your hand as you try to— Well, given I have a little one here, finding that time to actually read is difficult. So you know, the answer usually ends up being audio ’cause there’s no other time. But yeah, if I have my choice, it’s a physical book.
John: Real book. Yeah, I’m the same. I’m the same. And the last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.
John: Time. Nice. Good answer.
Zach: Try not the way you wrote the—
John: No, that works, man. I like it. Yeah. It’s wide open. So, time. Yeah. No, that’s good. And especially with a little one. So now, you’re just showing off. That’s good, man. Yeah. So let’s talk running and adventures, and how did you get into this? Is it something that you did since you were younger? I mean, it sounds like playing sports of course, but was that always a thing?
Zach: Yeah. So I actually started running track in high school. It was a way to keep in shape during the winter. I’m from upstate New York, so outdoor options are, let’s say, limited. So being able to run track indoors was a nice way to stay entertained, stay out of trouble. And funny enough, I actually started as a sprinter. For the life of me, I could not run more than 800 meters without pacing.
Zach: I had that wall. I don’t know why, but just I could not do it.
John: That’s amazing.
Zach: Yeah. So you know, played sports a long time where all you have to do is sprint, so never too big a concern of running any more than that. And after college, just sort of started expanding it out and then someone got the crazy idea in my head to run a marathon. And it took a long time to get up to that. So started doing some 5Ks and just expanding out from there. And I’ve done 7 marathons so far, doing another one this year.
John: Good for you, man. Congrats. That’s incredible. Yeah, I’ve done one half marathon, and it should not be called a half of anything. It is far.
Zach: 10.1 miles of fun. What are you talking about?
John: Yeah. And it’s the 0.1 that really gets you.
Zach: You’re joking about that, but that’s true though.
John: No, I’m not joking about that. I’m dead serious. Like I did it in under 2 hours, which I was pretty excited about.
John: And so, my whole mantra during like training ’cause I ran in with a couple other people, and I was not as dedicated to the training as they were, and they were frustrated by that. And my whole mantra was just peak on race day. Like I don’t wanna peak too soon. Like I gotta just keep going, bring it on race day, like that’s it. And I did like luckily, but I was like “All right, I’m not doing this again. Like this is crazy.”
Zach: Let me ask. Was the runner’s high real for you?
Zach: Oh, man, you missed the best part.
John: I did. There’s a lot of people that get it and that’s great. And it was in Indianapolis, so it was kind of cool. You ran around the race track at the Indy 500 and so that was fun. There’s a lot of people along the sides that kept it entertaining. It kept moving, I guess, for me ’cause that’s the problem is when I run, my brain starts going squirrely ’cause you don’t really have to focus a whole lot. And so, when there’s other distractions, it was helpful.
Zach: Well, if you wanna hear the most nerdy thing of all time, I’ll listen to CPE podcast sometimes when I’m running.
John: Oh, there you go.
Zach: So, multitasking. I’m getting CPE and I’m running.
Zach: And that’s probably one of the top 3 nerdiest statements I’ve ever made.
John: Right? It’s like what’s more painful? CPE or running? Then it balances each other out. It’s like two negatives make a positive. That’s awesome, man. But it’s efficient. That’s efficiency. But 7 marathons, do you have one that was your favorite?
Zach: The first one.
John: Which one was that one?
Zach: New York City. So being able to run through, just getting the excitement, the energy. I mean, there’s a million people all along if you count everybody up and just everyone’s super into it.
And the runner’s high was real. So you’re right, the 26.2, that 0.2 at the end right through Central Park was a nightmare. Oh, man.
Zach: But being able to actually cross the line finish, yeah, it was so much fun.
John: And in New York. I mean, that’s cool too, you know, being from upstate and all that. That’s exciting. Yeah. And you run through all the boroughs and yeah. I mean, it’s just cool.
Zach: Exactly. I got to run by my house, which is fun, you know.
John: Oh, even better. Yeah. That’s awesome, man. And it sounds like you’ve done running, I mean, outside of structured runs like a marathon or whatever, but all over the world really.
Zach: Yeah. So I have this interesting habit depending on what you think is interesting. But anywhere I go, I’ll get up super early in the morning and just go explore. So I’ll just go run through wherever I am. And so, a couple weeks ago, I was out in Denver and, yeah, got to explore pretty much every inch of the city, which was pretty cool. They like to broadcast they have one of the best downtowns of any city in the country. And it’s like “Oh, let me check this out.”
John: Yeah, I’ll be the judge of that.
Zach: What authority I have, but—
Zach: A few of them have gotten a little more crazy though. So, going into Safari and Africa, asking some very specific questions on where I can run. Little details like that, but it’s cool. There’s no better way to learn a place or find little fun spots than that. I mean, going back to my first marathon, you get to go through some really interesting areas of Brooklyn, of Queens, the Bronx. You know, that sort of got me thinking. And like you said, you have nothing but time. So the head starts going all over the place. I’m like “Wow, that looks like a cool bar. You know, that place looks like it has some pretty good food, so let me come back and check it out.” And then you start heading to enough spots and I wanna see what’s out there. And Yelp just isn’t the same.
John: Yeah. Oh, no, no, That’s awesome, man. And I mean, you’re staying fit, you’re exercising. When you fly somewhere, any jet lag or anything like that, you can work that out and it just gets your blood going. And that’s cool, man. That’s really neat. That’s really neat. And especially like in other continents, which is cool too type of thing.
Zach: Yeah. I mean, running an altitude in Peru was interesting.
John: Oh, wow.
Zach: Yes. I think we’re about 11,000 feet up, 12,000, somewhere in that ballpark. So yeah, being a little careful on that run too, but—
John: Right. Right.
Zach: Yeah. Being able to experience the different flavor so to speak has been a really interesting experience.
John: That’s fantastic, man. And do you feel like any of that translates to a skillset you use at work?
Zach: There’s certainly a discipline aspect to it as you said with jet lag or some of those late night meals, and adult beverages, and such. Yeah, sometimes you have to peel yourself out of the bed to get up and out there. So that’s certainly a big part of it. And yeah, I think that’s the biggest thing that I’ve learned from running, is just keeping that discipline and having a goal and moving towards it as corny as that sounds.
John: No, no, that’s incredible because, I mean, otherwise you’re just a ship without a rudder just aimlessly wandering around just doing whatever happens to be coming up next. And it’s like “No, no, like I have this goal and I’m gonna work towards it.” And then there’s a sense of accomplishment there. There’s so many great things that come from that. And I would imagine too when you’re in the middle of a busy project or an intense time, it’s that last point too of the marathon type of thing. You’re like “Hey, I did a marathon. We’re good.”
Zach: Of course. Then you start telling those stories and most people just roll their eyes. You know, the marathon, right. Yeah.
John: Oh, yeah. This guy again. Right. Well, you don’t have to tell the story. It’s more just to yourself maybe.
Zach: I should probably learn that lesson at some point.
John: Right. No. Or maybe people should just get out there and run one or a half or something.
Zach: No. Honestly, it really is a great experience. You don’t have to sprint it. You don’t have to go for the world record. But the best advice I ever got for running is just after the first step, it’s all momentum.
John: There you go.
Zach: Physical aspect to it doesn’t matter. I was taking the Staten Island ferry out to keep going back to my first one and next to me was a 74-year-old woman who had been running the marathon consecutively for two plus decades, whatever it was. And so, she was telling some stories ’cause you have an hour to kill basically. And at the end, if she can do this, I can do this. If she can set some pretty tough time milestones, what am I complaining about? What am I worried about? You know? It’s all momentum at a certain point, and there’s gotta be a lesson in there somewhere.
John: Oh, totally. I love that phrase. I mean, after the first step, it’s all momentum. That’s the first step’s the hardest kind of concept and whatever it is. Yeah. ‘Cause it really is and then you’re just one foot in front of the other. Just keep going type of thing.
Zach: Exactly. I mean, you might need a little water, maybe a power bar.
John: Right. Some electrolytes.
Zach: Yeah, maybe.
John: Right? Yeah. But you know, it is momentum and I mean that works figuratively for work in so many things and that’s great.
And so, has there ever been a part of you that’s like maybe I shouldn’t share an outside of work me ’cause clearly running marathons has nothing to do with any accounting job at all? Like has it ever crossed your mind that like “Oh, maybe I shouldn’t share”?
Zach: Yes. You know, there’s plenty of people out there who don’t necessarily value those type of extracurricular activities that sometimes in those work settings that really the focus is really on work. They don’t want to hear about some of those things. And yeah, it can come off a little braggadocia sometimes, which I can definitely understand. So, trying to posit in a careful way. And the same thing with traveling all over the place too. I mean, telling stories, going on safari, some people are either super interested or you get the eye roll and moving it on, that sort of thing.
John: But I mean, that’s on them, you know.
Zach: Of course. I’m definitely not the shy type, so I will definitely share without a doubt. But just being measured in how do you share those stories is something I try to be at least a little cognizant of.
John: Yeah, absolutely. No, for sure. Yeah. ‘Cause you definitely don’t wanna come across braggadocious like you said. It’s more of just “Hey, this lights me up. I wanna talk about it. You know, what lights you up? Sure. I’ll listen to you talk about volunteering at the dog shelter. Go nuts.” You know? Or whatever your thing is. Or you watched every House of Cards episode for the fifth time or whatever it is. But you can just tell the passion when people are talking about it. They’re excited. They’re animated. Their eyes get bigger. They’re alive sort of a thing.
John: That’s always good to ask others as well to work around that.
Zach: So I will say the Mile High City wasn’t that much of a challenge. I was expecting—
John: Well, have you done Peru? Peru is twice as much apparently.
Zach: Oh, that was years ago. I was a younger let’s say “athlete” at that point.
John: I was under 30.
Zach: Yes, I was.
John: Yeah. I mean, I don’t have a problem. I’ve never had a problem when I adjusted to Denver or when I leave and come back. Like I personally don’t, but I also don’t run. So now, we’re even.
John: Yeah, you’re right. Right? But yeah, I mean, I think if you go up in the mountains though, that’s when it starts to get a lot more on that. That’s for sure. And I guess at Propeller, I mean, a lot of you are remote. Is there anything that the firm does, the organization does to encourage people whether it’s share their hands or get to know each other on a human level?
Zach: I’ve gotta be honest. My first week in the firm, I was in a state of complete culture shock. You know, coming from public accounting, going through multiple firms, it was a completely different experience. So the way you posit What’s Your “And”? is exactly what that first week was like. And that was truly shocking.
John: That’s awesome.
Zach: There was a genuine sharing of not just the work side, but a personal type of aspect as well, which is something I think the greater accounting industry can and should begin to take in.
John: Yeah. Or the greater corporate world could take in.
Zach: Exactly. And that’s something that startup land has definitely gotten right for the most part, you know, big tech. Say what you will. But from a culture standpoint, it’s a very different presentation and that’s sort of the expectation of this new workforce out there and it really should be for all of us. And I’m getting off my soapbox, I swear.
John: No, no, no. I’ll encourage you on this one all day long because it was just people asking just pretty much like who is Zach and what do you like to do, what lights you up sort of thing.
Zach: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I’m also in a bit of a specialized situation working in crypto, which is always a good conversation starter. But beyond that, what makes you tick and vice versa? We’re sort of stuck working together for a while, so let’s see if there’s some sort of interpersonal connection we can make.
John: That’s awesome. Yeah, I love that so much. Yeah. Because, I mean, it matters. I mean, the technical skills, you either have them or we can teach you them or computers do them. But the human side of things and who are you, and the more that you can understand about someone’s story, the better everything’s going to be, you know. And so, it’s great to hear that they were doing it from the beginning, which is cool.
Zach: And it’s not always easy for accountants. I mean, so many introverts in the industry and just not necessarily the most outgoing of individuals. And that’s not good, bad, or otherwise. People are who they are, which is fine, but trying to find that middle ground is always a big deal. And especially in a client-facing, service-based industry, we should probably be doing that anyway. Shouldn’t all just be debits and credits.
John: Yeah. Because, I mean, that’s truly a differentiator especially with a client relationship side of things. ‘Cause, I mean, another accounting service can come in and do the accounting. It’s not like what I’m doing is I’m the only one and no one else can do this.
John: Right. You’re right. Exactly. Debits are still on the left. Okay, cool. They match. It’s like another organization can come in and do that.
Well, yeah, I mean, I guess that’s true. But you know, if you get to know the human side and bring some of that in, then that’s like when I speak a lot, it’s just bring the human from behind the job title. Like What’s Your “And”? is who else are you besides the job title?
Zach: It’s really funny. I think it was my second year out of college. I was working on some random real estate company, whatever it was. And I’m a bit of a sports fan if you can’t tell, but the CFO for the real estate company was a huge Knicks fan. So we were just talking basketball all the time and how terrible they were. You know, that type of stuff.
John: For sure. It’s Knicks. Right.
Zach: Exactly. That we have to go through. But because of that, we developed this awesome relationship, and he ended up calling me first before calling the partner, the manager on the job, or whatever the case. And people couldn’t figure out why. And it’s like “Listen, there’s nothing special about me. I’m, what, 22-23 years old, whatever I was. I don’t know anything about accounting, let’s be honest, but—”
John: But the human side of things, you know. Yeah. And it’s I trust you more because I know you more type of thing. And you know, the industry wants to call themselves trusted advisers and you’re an adviser adviser probably. What are you doing to develop trust? And being good at your job does not develop trust. Like everyone else is also good at their job.
Zach: It’s a baseline. It’s not a plus.
John: Exactly. And you gotta get to the pluses in order to develop trust. And I mean, there’s brain science behind it as well and all that. And so, that’s cool man. And you did it on accident kind of, but you learned and you observed it, you know. But you observed it and you’re like “Hey, there’s something here” and that’s cool that you’re carrying it forward. So that’s cool.
Zach: It’s been working so far anyway.
Zach: And to bring this full circle, it’s just that sort of interpersonal relationship building. And I told anyone who would listen, this is different than really anything else I’ve ever seen. And again, that’s not the disparage or say anything otherwise about any other experiences that I’ve personally had, but there’s just some really good lessons in there to learn and things that I took to heart for sure.
John: The more that organizations can bring the human to work and from the beginning, then the better it will be for everyone. And you’re a living example of this. The fact that it was a shock is sad, but you embraced it. I think more people are getting there, so it’s encouraging to hear. But you have any words for anyone listening that maybe has an “and” that they feel like has nothing to do with their job, but they still have a passion for something outside of work?
Zach: Yeah. Don’t ever give it up and find a way to communicate with your team, your friends in the office, wherever the case within the firm where you’re not necessarily alienating anyone, but just that it becomes a natural part of the day to day.
John: There you go. That’s the magic right there. It’s something that happens on the regular. So, cool, man. Well, this has been so much fun. And before I decide to lace up and go run with you sometime, I feel like it’s only fair that I turn the tables and allow you to ask me any sort of questions you would like. We’ll make this the first episode of The Zach Gordon Podcast. I don’t know what kind of music you like, but anyway.
Zach: For the show, but—
John: Right. Right. There you go. But yeah, but I’m all yours man. Whatever you got.
Zach: Perfect. So I know you’ve traveled around a little bit yourself. What’s your favorite city?
John: Yeah, that’s a good question. Probably Cape Town, South Africa is probably my favorite city.
Zach: Oh, man, that’s up there for me too.
John: It’s a unique mix. Due to the apartheid, there’s a lot of western influence, so there’s the infrastructure. And there’s a grid, but there’s still that raw African vibe and culture there. Plus, there’s nature, and wine country, and all that.
Zach: That’s only an hour away and—
John: Exactly. It’s a cool city for sure. You really gotta want to go there ’cause it’s far, but it’s a cool city.
Zach: Yeah. You have to make a trip out of it and then—
John: Yeah, exactly.
Zach: What’s your least favorite?
John: Least favorite city? Ooh, that’s a good question. Oh, man. Wow. That is a really good question. Shreveport, Louisiana is easily gonna be my least favorite city, easily for so many reasons. My senior year at Notre Dame, we played in the Independence Bowl and it’s in Shreveport, and it should not be a bowl. It was in their state fair rodeo stadium. So they didn’t have enough bathrooms or food vendors. So it’s like Porta Johns. And we played against LSU, so it’s like home state. And so, it was absolutely crazy. And then I went back probably 10 years later to the Funny Bone in Shreveport and that’s a long week ’cause that was like Wednesday night through Sunday night. So it was almost like 6 days you’re there.
It was a long week, and I’m not sure I’m gonna go back like ever. Like if there’s a company that wants to bring me into Shreveport, I’ll pay for everyone to come to another city and let’s just go to like somewhere else.
John: Right, exactly. That’s how much— Yeah, Shreveport, Louisiana. That’s definitely gonna be my least favorite. I could say that with conviction.
Zach: I can see that.
John: I’m sure the people are nice, but yeah. Yeah, it’s a whole another episode when I’m back on The Zach Gordon Podcast.
Zach: There, it’s perfect.
John: Yeah, exactly. You got one more?
Zach: What’s your favorite sandwich?
John: Ooh, favorite sandwich. That’s tough man ’cause like a Reuben’s good, like a Cubano’s good. Something with bacon always good.
Zach: I’m giving the hard hitting tough questions out here.
John: Yeah. But they’re hard, man. You make me think. Like my brain’s hurting. Preferably anything with bacon. There’s cheese on there. That’s always a plus. But yeah, probably one of those two would be good. Yeah. I wonder if there’s a Ruben with bacon on it.
Zach: I’m sure you can make that happen.
John: Yeah, that would be pretty magical. It’d probably be a restaurant in Shreveport and now I really got to decide like—
Zach: The only place in the world that serves that sandwich.
John: Right? It’s like “Well, John, which one’s the best here or the worst?”
Zach: And how far does Uber Eats go?
John: Right? There you go. That’s awesome. Well, thanks so much, Zach, for being a part of What’s Your “And”? It’s really, really cool to have you on the show.
Zach: No, I really appreciate you being here. Thank you so much for having me.
John: Yeah, absolutely. And everybody listening, if you wanna see some pictures of Zach from his adventures running or connect with him on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. Everything’s there. And 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 the book. So thanks again for subscribing on Apple Podcasts 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.
Elizabeth is an Accountant & Podcaster
Elizabeth Coo, Founder and Co-Host of Entry Level Adulting Podcast, talks about how she fell into accounting, discovering her passion for podcasting, how it has helped her with her career as an accountant, and much more!
• Starting the Entry Level Adulting Podcast
• Skills from podcasting that applies to her career as an accountant
• Talking about her podcasting at work
• Why it is both up to the organization and the individual to help create an open work culture
Please take 2 minutes
to do John’s anonymous survey
about Corporate Culture!
- Read Full TranscriptOpen or Close
Welcome to Episode 529 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 another way, it’s encouraging people to find their “and.” For instance, who else are you beyond the job title?
And I want to make a quick plug here for globaldogart.com. Last year, Michael Puck was on the show, and his “and” was dog photography. And he wanted me to let you know that dogs foster social connection and pictures of them help promote trusting relationships in business settings. And researchers also confirmed that pictures of dogs increase our well-being and reduce stress. And so, he teamed up with other dog photographers all over the world to create globaldogart.com. And you can bring in those pictures into your home or your business settings. And 100% of the proceeds go to save 1 million dogs by 2030. So check out globaldogart.com.
And while you’re on the internet, check out whatsyourand.com. And the book is out there on Amazon, and Barnes & Noble, Indigo, Bookshop, and a few other websites. So check out those links. 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, Elizabeth Coo. She’s a senior litigation associate at Gursey | Schneider in Los Angeles, and the host of the Entry Level Adulting podcast. And now, she’s with me here today. Elizabeth, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Elizabeth: Thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited to be here.
John: Oh, this is gonna be great. This is like entry level, teenager level, my podcast. So feel like it’s pre-adult compared to your show. So this is gonna be super, super fun.
Elizabeth: Probably. Probably.
John: Super, super fun. But I love to have rapid-fire questions up front just to get to know Elizabeth on another level here. And so, I’ll start you off maybe an easy one. Star Wars or Star Trek?
Elizabeth: So I’m actually more of a Trekker.
John: Okay. No problem.
Elizabeth: Not a Star Wars fan.
John: No problem at all.
Elizabeth: Yeah, I’m a Star Trek fan.
John: Absolutely. They’re people too, you know. They’re people too.
John: They’re not Klingons, but they’re people. So it’s all good.
Elizabeth: They’re people. Sure.
John: It’s all good. Absolutely. Absolutely. How about a favorite animal? Any animal at all?
Elizabeth: Dog. Hands down.
John: Okay. Okay. Oh, well, globaldogart.com. There we go. Perfect.
Elizabeth: I know, exactly. I was like “Yes, I gotta check it out.” Absolutely.
John: There you go. There you go. How about when it comes to puzzles, Sudoku, crossword, or a jigsaw puzzle?
John: Jigsaw. Okay. All right.
Elizabeth: I am a Wordle. I have been playing Wordle like every single day ever since it came out.
Elizabeth: I dunno where that falls into the equation.
John: No, Wordle definitely counts. Wordle is a puzzle of some sort, so that definitely counts. Absolutely. How about your computer? Are you a PC or a Mac?
Elizabeth: I am a Mac girl. But it’s funny because for work, I tend to prefer PC.
John: Sure. Nice. A little ambidextrous there. I’m impressed.
Elizabeth: A bit there. Yeah.
Elizabeth: Just a smidge.
John: Okay. Okay. How about a favorite color?
Elizabeth: Ooh, probably green.
John: Green. Solid. Nice. Yeah.
John: How about a least favorite color?
Elizabeth: Probably also a shade of green.
John: Okay. We’re gonna have to narrow this down now.
Elizabeth: Yes. I like like foresty greens and—
John: Okay, so the darker.
Elizabeth: …soothing green.
Elizabeth: But then I don’t like kind of the yellowy-er kind of like puke greens.
John: Ah, yeah. Okay. Fair enough.
John: Yeah. Okay. I can get behind that. All right. All right. How about more talk or text?
Elizabeth: Talk. Oh, absolutely. Hands down. I am a terrible texter.
John: That’s awesome. That’s very funny. That’s hilarious.
Elizabeth: I know. I’m a bit of an old soul in that sense.
John: No, no, I love it. That’s great. That’s great. How about a favorite actor or an actress?
Elizabeth: Oh, that’s too hard. I can’t. I’ll pass on that one.
John: All of them.
Elizabeth: It’s too many.
Elizabeth: Too many.
Elizabeth: Way too many.
John: Okay. All right. Fair enough, fair enough. How about more heels or flats?
Elizabeth: Flats. I would love to say heels. I love the way I look in heels, but flats are just way more comfortable.
John: And more practical in everything. Yeah. Okay.
John: Fair enough. Fair enough. How about oceans or mountains?
Elizabeth: You’re like talking about two of my loves here.
John: Okay. Well, we could have oceans into the mountains, which is why you’re in California probably.
Elizabeth: But what I really want is a mountain on the ocean. That’s what I want.
John: Oh, so like a Hawaiian island maybe.
Elizabeth: Yes. Precisely that.
John: Okay. Okay. There we go. We’ll take it. Yeah. Yeah, I love that. You flipped it where it’s a mountain in the ocean. Yeah. ‘Cause normally it’s the other way around. Okay. I like that. I like that. I’m an ice cream junkie. Ice cream in a cup or a cone?
Elizabeth: I usually go cup.
John: Yeah, I’m the same.
Elizabeth: I feel like you get more ice cream that way.
John: You totally do. You totally do.
Elizabeth: I’m a bit of a purist.
John: It’s a trick. It’s a trick. And you know what you can do? You can sweet talk the person into giving you the cone on top so you get both.
Elizabeth: Yes. Exactly.
John: That’s what I do.
John: So how about a favorite adult beverage?
Elizabeth: Currently, the Dirty Shirley. And that is extremely popular, but I would just like to say that I liked it before it was trending.
John: Right. Okay. I’ll believe you on that one. I’ll believe you on that one.
Elizabeth: I promise I didn’t just make that my drink of the summer.
John: Here you go. There you go. Yeah. How about since you got the CPA balance sheet or income statement?
Elizabeth: Oh, income statements.
John: Income statement. Okay. There you go.
John: Yeah. Show me the dollars. There we go. Cash flow.
Elizabeth: Show me the flow.
John: Yup. There you go. How about favorite season? Summer, winter, spring, or fall?
Elizabeth: Summer. Oh, I’m a summer girl. Hands down. I’m in California for a reason.
John: Right. There you go. There you go. Three more. How about a favorite number?
Elizabeth: Oh, 7.
Elizabeth: I know that’s common.
John: No. Is there a reason?
Elizabeth: It’s complete. It’s complete.
John: Okay. There you go.
John: I like it. There you go. How about when it comes to books? Audio version, e-Book, real book?
Elizabeth: I mean, I love a real book. But to be honest, I do most of my reading on e-Books.
John: Okay. All right. Yeah. No. Well, I mean, it’s just you can carry more in one gadget. Yeah.
Elizabeth: Practically speaking, it’s easier, but I’m a total sucker for like that book smell. Like the real book smell.
John: Oh, yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah.
Elizabeth: That’s the best.
John: Yeah. Really is. No, I’m the same. I’m the same. And a favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own?
Elizabeth: Favorite thing I own would probably be either my tea maker or a cookbook I have from my grandpa’s like small town in Pennsylvania.
John: Oh, nice.
Elizabeth: It that’s local cookbook with all the church women’s recipes for all the right cookies. Cookies are really big in Western Pennsylvania and stuff like that. Like all the good desserts. Those like German immigrant desserts.
Elizabeth: It’s amazing.
John: Oh, man, I’m starving right now just hearing this.
Elizabeth: I know. I know.
John: That’s so good. So good. Those are awesome. That’s very cool. Very, very cool. So let’s talk podcasting, which is very meta of us to be on a podcast.
Elizabeth: It is. It is.
John: Talking about making a podcast. I just realized this. We’re in the matrix, but yeah. How did you get started?
Elizabeth: That’s a great question. So I love that I’m talking to someone who’s even been doing podcasting longer than me because as I’m sure you can relate to so much of this. You walk into it backwards, right?
Elizabeth: So what happened was I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I just went to business school and thought I would end up in marketing, realized that was not for me.
Elizabeth: And I couldn’t care less about marketing. And so then, I did an accounting class and I kind of was good at it. And so, I said I guess I’ll just do this, which is pretty much every accounting major that you probably ever met. Like there’s a reason you have so many accountants on this show, John. Like all of us were like we don’t really know how we got here, but we’re just kinda here making a living. And I guess we’ll just do something on the side.
John: Right. There you go.
Elizabeth: And that is literally every accounting major. And so, what happened, I was like the only one of my friends that went to business school. And so, I had all this sort of accumulated knowledge that I started taking for granted once we graduated, kind of how to budget and taxes, all these boring adult things that everybody says they wishes got taught in school and then we didn’t. I had kind of gotten some of that knowledge. Plus, my parents told me about stuff as well. And so, I had all this knowledge and then I’m also a very creative person. Right? So I’m sitting on all this knowledge and I, for fun, made a voice acting demo.
John: Yeah, okay.
Elizabeth: A kid’s voice acting demo.
Elizabeth: And so, I learned through that process how to use voiceover equipment and what softwares to use, how to use the microphone to your advantage to be a proper voice artist and stuff. And so, I’m combining— I’m staying here. I’m like “How can I combine this voiceover knowledge I’ve just learned and now all this business knowledge I’ve just learned?” And out of that was basically birthed the Entry Level Adulting Podcast. I said, “Why don’t I just make a podcast?”
John: Yeah, I love it.
Elizabeth: Like many people said in the pandemic. And so, that’s really how I got started, was I had these sort of two creative pursuits, two different knowledge bases that I said “Let me just combine them and make them into something useful.”
John: That’s fantastic. That’s so great. Yeah. Absolutely. And I mean, to have the knowledge and to share it, and then you can share it with so many more people than just like the circle that you see physically.
Elizabeth: That’s exactly it. I kept having these conversations with my friends and them just asking me similar questions. And I said, “I just wish there was a resource I could just point my friends to and say “Hey, go listen to this. This is everything that I would tell you in this conversation. You can just go listen to that here.” And like you said, help other people as well and reach even a broader audience than the people that would ask me. So that’s really how I got into it. That’s what—
John: That’s great.
Elizabeth: …gave birth to the idea.
John: Yeah. Yeah. And then you get the one friend that’s like “Yeah, I don’t have time to listen to your pod. Like just tell me. I’m right here.” You know? And you’re like “Then you’re not my friend. We’re not friends anymore. Done. You’re out.” Get out type of thing.
Elizabeth: I know.
John: Yeah. No, I love it.
Elizabeth: There’s always one.
John: Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. That’s awesome. And so, do you have like a favorite memory from doing this or something that you’ve discovered from doing the podcast?
Elizabeth: You know, I think my favorite memories, and what my favorite thing about it currently going forward has been, is just it’s not just me doing it. I have a whole team of people now that are helping me out. And I got a co-host, you know. And then, like I said, I learned very quickly marketing is not for me. So I found one of my friends that marketing was for her. And so, now, I’ve got a co-host and then we’ve got a social media manager who—
Elizabeth: Really the one running the show to be perfectly frank. She’s the one that keeps us in line. And then my other friend, she’s a graphic artist. Graphic designer.
John: There you go.
Elizabeth: And you know, what a fabulous way to build her portfolio. And I said, “I can’t pay any of you. I’m so sorry, but do you wanna work on this project with me?” So she’s designing everything. The social media manager’s planning everything out. And it looks so much more official than I ever thought. And then the last piece, the last component was for that friend who said “I’m too busy to listen to your podcast.” We got one more person and she’s a blog writer.
Elizabeth: And so, I say “Ok, you can’t listen to our podcast, fine. Go read the blog.”
John: Go read it. There you go. That’s fantastic. You have quite the operation going here.
Elizabeth: That’s what I was saying. That’s been my favorite part, is just building. And it’s all women. And we’re just like together we just created this thing that is way more than I ever thought it would be just by myself.
John: That’s fantastic.
Elizabeth: The team building and collaboration has been my favorite part for sure.
John: Yeah. No, I love it. And I’m sure that that translates to work in a skillset sort of way.
Elizabeth: Oh, absolutely. You know, I put a team together. And now, we’ve created something, you know? And before, especially when you’re just starting off in newer positions, like you don’t always get that level of leadership experience right away.
John: Right. Yeah.
Elizabeth: And so, it’s been really awesome to just be able to execute on a project like that and be able to show something for it, you know.
John: Right. Yeah.
Elizabeth: So it’s definitely worked out for work.
John: Yeah. No, that’s awesome. And I feel like that’s one of those things that when you’re in business school, no one told you “Hey, go start a podcast ’cause it will make you better at your job.” But it clearly does.
Elizabeth: No. Definitely not.
John: You know? But it clearly does. I mean, it’s straight up.
Elizabeth: I’m of that camp where it’s like your creativity and your creative pursuits absolutely can bolster you at whatever you’re doing to feed your face.
Elizabeth: And so, it’s been awesome for me to kind of explore it, the many different ways I can do that and how it does make me a better professional. I think it makes me a more whole person at work to have these things that I enjoy.
John: Yeah. Oh, so, so much. Yeah. ‘Cause I mean, I would imagine just talking about it and sharing it. Just you come alive, you know. You’re more energized and then finding out what someone else loves to do. They come alive. And talking about a macro in Excel is not making anyone come alive.
Elizabeth: It is not. I mean, shock upon shock, but it is not.
John: Right. Right? Exactly. And so, is it something that you do share at work?
Elizabeth: I tend to slip it into conversation when I can kind of thing.
John: Sure. Yeah.
Elizabeth: It’s sort of like if you’re just talking or what’s up or what’s going on. I’ll just say “Oh, you know, I’m working on my podcast.” And they’re like “You have a podcast?” I’m like “Yeah, it’s just for my friend basically to have a resource.” And they’re like “That’s awesome. That’s great.” Do any of them listen to it? I highly doubt it. But you know what?
John: It doesn’t matter.
Elizabeth: It doesn’t matter.
And I think it creates an environment that lets you mention the things that you’re just doing outside of work.
John: Yeah. I mean, if you were a sky diver, I mean, not everybody’s gonna skydive with you either, you know.
John: It’s cool.
Elizabeth: So it doesn’t matter.
John: You do your thing. Tell me about it. Awesome. I’ll do my thing. I’ll tell you about it and then we’re all good.
John: You know? Yeah. And that’s the thing. It’s like it doesn’t have to be set a world record and Joe Rogan number of downloads. Like who cares? Like I enjoy podcasting, I enjoy creating this show, and I feel like the I enjoy (blank) takes all the pressure off of any follow-up question on is it good ’cause it doesn’t matter if it’s good. I’m doing it for me. You know? Like if you’re anything creative or even athletic, am I any good at this? It doesn’t matter. I’m doing it for me type of thing.
Elizabeth: And that’s truly such an important point. Like that’s such a— I hate to say it, but that’s like a truth bomb right there because I think especially in the culture that we have today, there’s so much pressure where it’s like “Oh, well, if I do this and I fail, then I shouldn’t even start doing it in the first place.” Right? It’s like quitting before you’ve even begun. And the entire point of doing something creative, the entire point of having a hobby is just, as you said, it doesn’t matter if it’s good. What matters is if it brings you joy, if it makes you happy. Like it makes you creative. And honestly, I feel like creativity, once you’re not a child anymore, is like a skill that you have to continue to use—
John: Very much.
Elizabeth: …in order to retain it.
Elizabeth: You know? And so, by being creative outside of work, I can also be creative and adaptable at work.
Elizabeth: You know? And so, it’s so important. It’s so important. And you’re right. Who cares if it’s good? Who cares?
Elizabeth: It’s for you.
John: Yeah. Exactly.
Elizabeth: It’s just for you.
John: Exactly. Exactly. No. It’s so true. And from all the research that I’ve done, like that’s been the biggest thing, is people just being embarrassed about or they don’t wanna give themselves a label or they’re whatever. And it’s like “No, no, no.”
John: It doesn’t matter.
Elizabeth: Are you embarrassed by that morning coffee that you treat yourself to every single day at Starbucks or Dunkin’?
Elizabeth: No. Because that’s for you. It’s just for you.
John: I love that. I love that.
Elizabeth: You’re not justifying it to anyone. Right? Of course, you might be justifying it to me as your accountant telling you you should probably spend your money in different ways, but that’s entirely different.
John: That’s a different story. Yeah. Or like if you’re in the Olympics and you get fourth place, so you don’t even get a medal, like is that embarrassing? No, that’s freaking awesome. You got fourth place in the world. Like who cares?
Elizabeth: Who cares?
John: It’s all good. It’s all good.
Elizabeth: And honestly, that mentality is so important to just let go of that fear of failure. Like that will take you through life, you know. Who cares? Who cares?
John: No. Yeah. And I mean, I’m just as guilty of that as anybody for sure.
Elizabeth: Oh, so no question.
John: Yeah. I mean, tTry your best and give your best shot, but also just keep things in perspective and all that. And so, I guess how much do you feel like it’s on an organization to encourage people to share their “ands” or to bring it up in conversation without punching them in the mouth, or disciplining, or whatever versus how much is it on the individual to just be like “you know what, hey, I got my little small circle here, I’m gonna start with this”?
Elizabeth: Right. I think it’s both. I really do. And I know that’s such a cop out answer, but I think—
John: No, no worries.
Elizabeth: …the reason it’s both is because the organization has to foster the environment for it. And the person has to actually make the choice to set the boundary to actively go pursue those things. Right? If this is something important to you, even if it’s like going to the gym, right, like let’s just forget that it’s something creative. Right? Like just going to the gym, say in the middle of the day on your lunch break, whatever in the morning, you have to create those boundaries anyway. So that’s on you. That’s your personal prerogative. It’s the same thing for if you’re trying to do something creative, carving out that time saying “Hey, I have another meeting” or “Hey, I have a meeting. It’s with myself.” But they don’t need to know. You know?
John: Right. Yeah.
Elizabeth: Carving out that time. Whereas I think too on the organization to offer the flexibility. Right? If your organization is saying you have to be— especially in this post pandemic world— if you have to be there 9 to 5 like every single day, that’s gonna hurt the flexibility that you have to go pursue that other thing. But hey, say that they have proper hours and boundaries, that organization— at least it’s like, you know, for sure that these are the hours it’s gonna be. Whereas an organization where the expectation is that you’re working to all odd hours of the night and there’s nothing really set, that’s not really fostering an environment for your people to have a life outside of work.
John: Right. Right.
Elizabeth: So to an extent, it is systemic.
And I think especially it’s on management and top people because they have to set that tone. Right? Because when you hear that your boss is like going to do something with their family or going on a fun surf trip or whatever it is, especially on this West Coast, it’s different. It makes you feel like “Oh, I can go do those things.”
Elizabeth: And that is absolutely on the company and the management to create an environment where you feel it’s okay. And that’s why this podcast is so important because talking about it is part of that. Right? You have to be able to talk about it so you can go make time for it. So I think it’s absolutely both. And I also notice a difference from the West Coast to the East Coast on how more people are willing to talk about it on the West Coast.
Elizabeth: I feel like West Coast people have more hobbies. Just in my experience. I’m not saying it’s everyone. But as far as a work culture goes, it tends to be a little bit more acceptable to talk about out here than on the East coast where I’m originally from.
John: Right. Yeah. And it’s one of those too where, you know, like even the way you said it is people on the West Coast have more hobbies. It’s like maybe the people on the East Coast have the same number of hobbies, but they’re not talking about it, you know.
John: So if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around, if a professional has 17 hobbies, but never shares any of them, then they might as well have zero. But I do agree that it’s not a trap when people at the top— and at the top could be a senior manager or a manager that’s over a small team of 5 or 6 people.
Elizabeth: Oh, absolutely.
John: You know, even the middle manager. You know, you can still set the tone at the top and have the most awesome group within the organization. And yeah, if you’re living it and if you’re asking people about theirs and making sure they’re doing them, like “When’s the last time you went on your surf trip? When’s the next one you have booked? Oh, you don’t have one booked. Well, let’s talk about it because you have something to look forward to now.” You know, something that enriches your life and brings you joy like you said earlier. It’s so crucial—
John: …that people care, you know, just care really.
Elizabeth: It’s just showing of care, I think, more than anything.
John: Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah. I love that. The showing of the caring. Yeah, totally. Totally. And I guess, do you have any words of encouragement to people listening that maybe have an “and” and they feel like, well, it has nothing to do with my job, so no one’s gonna care about it?
Elizabeth: I would say people care because people love when you go for it. Right? Like when you’re pursuing a hobby, when you’re pursuing a passion, when you’re pursuing a dream, there’s something about seeing someone just going for something that they love and appreciate that everyone is really encouraged. And I say when you feel like it’s totally secondary, it doesn’t matter. It does because it makes you a better person to then do whatever it is. My grandma has great advice. She says do something to feed your face while you figure out what you actually wanna do. And you know what? If your job is just feeding your face right now and you’ve got a side hobby or side hustle, that’s really what’s bringing you joy, hey, you know what, that job is feeding your face and then you get to do what you actually wanna do on your off time and that’s great.
Elizabeth: That’s awesome.
John: Exactly. And make some of those cookies from Western PA while you’re at it.
John: If you’re feeding your face. So there you go.
Elizabeth: Take a whole cookie table if you can.
John: Right? No, but that’s such great advice. You know, just take care of yourself and have an okay lifestyle while you’re trying to figure out what you wanna do type of thing.
John: And have those hobbies on the side. They could be not income generating, which is great. They shouldn’t be. That takes all the pressure off. Just have fun.
Elizabeth: Absolutely. Just have fun, be creative, and that’s all you gotta do. That’s all it’s gotta be.
John: I love the question of just who else are you. You know, if I strip your job title away, like who else are you? And there’s so many great things that come from that. So this has been awesome, Elizabeth. Thank you so much for being a part of this, but I feel like I so rudely peppered you with questions at the beginning. So I thought it would be only appropriate to turn the tables. And since you got your own podcast and you’re a pro, I’ll be in the hot seat now and I’m all yours. So whatever you got, fire away.
Elizabeth: I appreciate it. Yes, I do have a fun one I am pretty excited about.
Elizabeth: This is also just as a side note based on my latest Wikipedia rabbit hole.
John: Okay. All right.
Elizabeth: But if you went treasure hunting, what treasure would you search for?
John: Oh, wow. That is a really good one. I mean, since we’re talking about cookies, like I think something related to like the most delicious like chocolate chip cookie recipe or— I mean, ’cause the cookies would probably be stale by then. So probably the best chocolate chip cookie recipe out, yeah, is probably what would be in the treasure box.
That would be pretty fantastic.
Elizabeth: Sounds amazing.
John: Yeah. I mean, just since we’re on the topic, might as well keep the theme going here and yeah.
Elizabeth: Nothing wrong with that.
John: Yeah, yeah. I mean, something that’s just out of nowhere that like, I don’t know, maybe the Egyptians had thousands of years ago and it’s in a pyramid and it’s like “What?! No way!” Like that’s amazing.
Elizabeth: Oh, gosh.
John: So, yeah, yeah, yeah. Something like that. That would be great.
Elizabeth: That sounds amazing.
John: That’s a good question.
Elizabeth: All right. Second question. Thank you. Yeah, I was happy with that one. All right, second question. What do you consider to be the greatest love song of all time?
John: Oh, wow. That’s another good one. Baby Got Back is not one of them, I guess. So let me see here. I mean, I play the piano and I can play Unchained Melody, so I guess maybe—
Elizabeth: Oh! I love that song.
John: …because I can play it—
Elizabeth: That’s a great song.
John: Maybe that will count. And it’s an old classic,—
Elizabeth: That’s a good one.
John: …so we’ll say that one maybe.
Elizabeth: Level classic.
John: That’s a good one. Or a new one though that I think is good and it’s maybe not like a love song love song, but I love that new— It’s a Bieber song, but it’s The Ghost Song. It’s about his dad I guess or not his dad, but about him if you watch the music video.
Elizabeth: Well, there’s different kinds of love.
John: But yeah. No, no, but I think that’s a good song as well. And then Vance Joy has a new one out as well. I think it’s called Clarity and that’s a fun one too, but, yeah, I go with the old classics.
Elizabeth: I haven’t listened to that. I have to listen to that.
John: Yeah, yeah, that’s a good one too, so yeah. But yeah, I had to throw out a ridiculous one just in the beginning just for laughs.
Elizabeth: You got me.
John: Thank you so much, Elizabeth, for being a part of What’s Your “And”? This was super, super fun.
Elizabeth: Thanks for having me. I really appreciate it.
John: Yeah, absolutely. And everybody listening, if you wanna see some pictures of Elizabeth in action, or maybe connect with her on social media, or get a link to listen to the Entry Level Adulting podcast, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. All the links are there. Everything’s there. And while you’re on the page, please click the 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.
Joe is a Co-Founder & Poker Player
Joe Garafalo, Co-Founder of Mosaic, talks about his passion for playing poker, how it is more a numbers game than gambling, how it applies to starting/running a business, and much more!
• Getting into poker
• Similarities of playing poker to running a business
• Why your hobbies are important regardless of whether they relate to your career or not
Please take 2 minutes
to do John’s anonymous survey
about Corporate Culture!
- Read Full TranscriptOpen or Close
Welcome to episode 527 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 differentiates 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, Audible, and a few other websites. All of the links are at whatsyourand.com. 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 listening to it, and writing such nice 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, Joe Garafalo. He’s the co-founder of Mosaic out of San Diego. And now, he’s with me here today. Joe, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Joe: Thanks, John. Excited to be here. I appreciate you having me on.
John: Yeah, this is gonna be a blast, but I have 17 rapid-fire questions. Get to know Joe right out of the gate here. So you’re buckled in, seatbelt ready?
Joe: Let’s do it.
John: All right, here we go. I like that. I like that. Easy one. Favorite color.
John: Nice. Mine too. We can keep going. No, I’m just teasing. How about a least favorite color?
Joe: Least favorite color? Orange.
John: Oh, that’s a popular one or a popular to be least popular, I guess. How about are you more talk or text?
Joe: More text.
John: Yeah, okay. All right. How about a favorite actor or an actress?
Joe: Favorite actor, probably Brad Pitt. Actress, Jennifer Lawrence.
John: Oh, okay. Yeah. I thought you were gonna say Angelina Jolie just to make it really awkward. How about— Oh this is a good one— Least favorite vegetable.
Joe: Least favorite vegetable, cauliflower.
John: Solid answer right there. Yeah, absolutely. How about Sudoku or Crossword when it comes to puzzles?
John: Crossword, okay. How about a favorite animal? Any animal at all.
John: Leopard. Okay.
Joe: Yeah. Big fan of the big cats.
John: Nice. Very cool. That’s awesome. How about Star Wars or Star Trek?
Joe: Star Wars all the way.
John: Okay. Yeah, me too.
Joe: Big fan. Bigger fan of Lord of the Rings though.
John: Oh, okay. I’ll accept that. Absolutely. Definitely. That’s another great one. How about your computer? More of a PC or a Mac?
Joe: I’m a Mac all the way to the dark side.
John: Oh, okay. All right. How about your toilet paper roll, over or under?
John: Over. Yeah. People are really passionate about that one. It’s funny to me. Both sides of it are equally passionate, which makes me laugh. I’m a huge ice cream fan. So do you get ice cream in a cup or a cone?
Joe: Ooh, I do both. I like both. It just depends on, you know, the circumstances. If I can pull off a cone, I’ll do a cone. But if I’m on the go or moving, I’ll do a cup.
John: Yeah, yeah. Or if you can sweet talk ’em in a cup, but the cone on top, that’s the magic right there ’cause I still need the calories from the sugar or the waffle coat. That’s for sure.
Joe: I’m more of like a wafer guy on the cone versus like the waffle.
John: Oh, the old school.
John: Okay. Nice. Okay. How about a favorite Disney character?
Joe: Oh man, there’s so many good ones.
John: I guess now Star Wars is part of that too, I guess. It’s all of them.
Joe: I’ll go— I think this is a Disney character in some controversy recently, but maybe Captain Jack Sparrow.
John: Oh yeah, okay. There you go. Right. Well, the character, not the person that voiced the character. There you go. Or acted the character. Yeah, that is a fun character actually. Jack Sparrow is awesome. What’s a typical breakfast?
Joe: Typical breakfast, black coffee.
John: Oh nice. Okay. Just going straight at it. Bam!
Joe: It’s a rocket fuel.
John: There you go. There you go. How about a favorite number?
Joe: The #4 has always been near and dear to my heart. Grew up a big hockey guy. New Jersey Devil’s fan. A guy named Scott Stevens was the captain for a long time.
John: Oh, yeah.
Joe: Yeah, he wore #4. I’ve been wearing it ever since.
John: Nice. As good a reason as any. Just a fun one. Balance sheet or income statement.
Joe: Income statement all the way.
John: Right. Right. Balance sheet is not paying the rent. It’s like here we go.
Joe: The balance sheet is decidedly unsexy.
John: Right. That might be the best line ever set on this podcast ever. And we are 527 episodes in. That’s impressive. That’s awesome. All right, we got two more. When it comes to books, audio version, e-Book, or real book?
Joe: Oh, man, I’m not an audio book guy. I would love like a real book, but just it’s easier to do e-Books these days.
John: Yeah. Plus, you can carry hundreds of them with you in your device.
Joe: Exactly. I do have a signed copy of the book Zero to One by Peter Thiel, which is probably my prized book possession.
John: Yeah. I mean, that leads right into the last question of what’s the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own?
Joe: Can it be my dog?
John: Yeah! Absolutely. It can be whatever you want.
Joe: She’s definitely the light of my life.
John: That’s very cool. And what kind of dog is it?
Joe: She’s a Cavapoo, so half Cavalier and half mini poodle.
John: Oh, wow. Nice. And Coconut sounds like an appropriate name. That’s very cool. Well, let’s talk poker and how did you get started. Was it mostly when you were younger or did you have like that really crazy cool aunt that liked playing like Tatcha poker or something?
Joe: Yeah. So in the early days, my grandpa actually taught me the game and we used to play with like my grandpa, my uncles. And instead of chips, we used to use like pretzel rods—
John: Oh, yeah!
Joe: …as chips. And then I think I really got into it around I think it was like 2002-2003 when Chris Moneymaker won the World Series of Poker and ESPN started playing the World Series of Poker on TV. And I think like in high school then, all of our friends kind of like got the poker bug. So we would have a ton of games in high school. And then after playing a lot in high school, we went over to college, went to college in New York City. So it’s hard to find a poker game. So transitioned to the online world. Back then, Full Tilt poker was kind of like the leader in the space. So I played a lot there and got really lucky. Won a really big tournament. It was like a 5-dollar buy-in. One of those like 10,000 people would buy in. It was over a couple different days and that money helped me buy my first car in college. And ever since then,—
John: That’s awesome.
Joe: …I was addicted.
John: Yeah. ‘Cause then it’s like “What?! I’m up now forever.” You know?
John: Everything is house money. That’s awesome, man. That’s so cool. I mean, 10,000 people to win that is pretty awesome. I mean, is it a lot of bluffing or is it a lot of like just getting good cards or— I’m sure that there’s a strategy to a lot of it, I guess. If you’re not getting the cards, do you ride it out sometimes or how does that work?
Joe: Yeah, I think it’s like well-timed aggression is kind of the key. But I mean, to win a poker tournament like that, you’ve gotta get lucky. Right? Anyone who says differently is kind of lying. You need the cards to run in your favor. So a little bit of luck can’t hurt. I’d rather be lucky than good any day of the week.
John: Right. Right. Yeah. And then when you know you got the good hand, then you go all in. And like you said, the timed aggression, that’s exactly how it is. And that’s awesome. So do you have like some favorite memories? I’m sure playing with the pretzel sticks has gotta be one of the cool ones. I mean, that’s super fun.
Joe: Oh, yeah, I’ve definitely taken some fun poker trips with friends to Vegas or to the East coast. I was up to Connecticut where we just— We’d go there and we play poker for 72 hours straight. Just drink coffee and just play for hours.
John: That’s cool.
Joe: There was like a really poor memory though. Like one day in college towards my senior year, there was this event called Black Friday. And Black Friday is when like the Department of Justice shut down all the online poker sites and like everything just turned off.
Joe: It was like a big heartbreaking day. So definitely took more of a hiatus in poker when you couldn’t play online anymore and then kind of transitioned to “Hey, let’s still be a student in the game. Let’s read a lot of poker books. That way, I can at least stay in touch with the thing that I love.” And you know, during that hiatus of no online poker— It’s slowly coming back state by state, which has been really cool to see. I hope California does it soon. But I did pick up this book by Annie Duke. And if you don’t know Annie Duke, she’s one of the best poker players in the world. She’s super smart, really, really bright.
I think she’s like an Ivy League grad, but she wrote this book called Thinking in Bets. And she just talks about how there’s so much similarity to life and to business that there is to a poker game. And that really resonated with me ’cause it’s like my two passions, business and poker kind of converging. And I’ve seen so much similarity to starting the company and running the company to actually like being at a poker table playing in this high stakes game.
John: Yeah. And I was gonna ask like how much does this translate over? Because I mean, it’s a muscle group that you’re exercising outside of work. But then when you get to work and that opportunity arises maybe for the timed aggression or whatever, that sort of mentality, then it’s like “Well, I’m ready to go ’cause I’ve been doing this outside of work for days, and weeks, and years type of thing. So what do you feel like it does translate over?
Joe: Oh, man, there’s so many different points, I think. So the first thing, right, is when we were starting a company and I run a startup. We’re about 100 employees. We’ve raised close to 50 million in a venture-backed capital.
John: Congrats, man. That’s awesome.
Joe: Appreciate it. It’s not easy. It’s definitely not easy. In poker, you’re allotted this stack of chips. And those chips are your war chest. And just like in business, your cash balance is your war chest, and you have to allocate those chips for that capital the same way that you allocate chips to a poker hand. And a lot of times, you’re putting chips into the middle of the table. You’re allocating capital to the business on experiments, things that you’ve never done before that you’re hoping yield results.
But the key to being a good poker player is like folding and cutting your losses when things aren’t going your way. So how you manage your chip stack and how you place your bets on different experiments that you’re hoping will yield good results goes a long way. So that chip management and like cash management definitely see some similarities there.
John: That’s such a perfect analogy really when you think about it. You know, that’s exactly it. And at no point in college did anyone tell you “Hey, go learn how to play poker ’cause it will make you better at starting your business and running your business.” But it clearly does. That’s a cool byproduct. And another big thing in like the tournaments that we talked about earlier, 10,000 people, it’s patience. Right? It’s like you have to be patient. So poker teaches you patience. It teaches you how you need to make this stack of chips or stack of cash in business go a long way. And you can go a long way if you’re patient, but we also talked a little bit earlier about like the time aggression. Right?
So in poker, when you see the opportunity, you have to kind of attack it aggressively. And you know, there’s a saying in poker, “When you go all in, all your chips are in the middle of the table. And if this doesn’t work, then you’re out.” I think the same is true in business. Like if you see a market opportunity, you gotta go out there and seize it. ‘Cause if it’s not you, it’s gonna be somebody else. So the timed aggression and then like putting your chips all in, going after something you learn when to do it and when not to do it pretty quickly.
John: Yeah. Like the phrase, burn the boats. It’s like “Well, there’s no alternative. Like this is it. We gotta make this work.” And then, you know, you’re not sorta half leaning in. It’s like “No, we’re all in on this, let’s make this happen” type of thing.
Joe: I love that phrase. I love it.
John: Yeah. Because it’s good alliteration too. It’s a lot of Bs in there and all that, so it’s nice. So is poker something that comes up in conversation at work?
Joe: Maybe between me and my co-founders a little bit, but probably not in normal conversation with other employees.
John: Well, yeah. Or if you find out someone else does like poker, then magic happens.
John: ‘Cause some people just in their head think “Oh, well, people are gonna judge or people are gonna whatever.” Whatever their “and” is. And we’re not in sixth grade anymore. It’s like “No, no, now it’s cool. Like everything’s cool. As long as it’s not illegal or super taboo, you know, then it’s awesome.”
Joe: Exactly. And poker tends to have sort of a negative connotation with some people ’cause they consider it to be gambling, but I think there is just so much math that is rooted in the game that if you play the math and you play the odds right over a long time horizon, you win. And you’re not playing against the house, right? You’re playing against other people. So the things that you accumulate, the things that you pick up on are things that you can use to your advantage. And if you think about it, I lead our sales and marketing team over at Mosaic. And marketing was relatively new to me because before that, I was a finance guy. You and I were just talking we both cut our teeth at the big four. So marketing was this entire new world.
And the same way that you have to market your business, the product, your team, you have to market yourself at the poker table as well. If you’re too loose and you’re playing too many pots, people are gonna try to chase you ’cause they can assume the hands that you’re playing are probably not the greatest strength. Right? The same goes for marketing and business. It’s like where are you gonna put your chips? When are you gonna put your chips in? Are you establishing thought leadership? Are you just saying things that aren’t true? Are you representing hands that you don’t actually have? Those are a lot of similarities in how that works. Same goes for kind of like pricing.
John: Yeah. I mean, it’s just amazing how much just that mindset and that mentality just helps out. That’s really cool. And I guess how much do you feel like it matters that people have a hobby that work around you now at Mosaic, but even before and throughout your career? How much does it matter that people have these outside of work hobbies or interests? Or is it more like “Eh, do whatever you’re gonna do and like we don’t need to know about ’em” sort of thing or like where do you guys at like out of Mosaic— Are there ways that people share or is that a thing?
Joe: I think everybody’s got their hobbies, right? I think whether or not you can find how those hobbies relate to your everyday career, maybe it’s a different story. Like we have a bunch of employees over at Mosaic that are like big advocates of barbecue and smoking. I’m sure we can find some— Like I’m sure the patience thing is true. Like to make a good brisket, you need hours. You can’t like rush it.
John: Yeah. Right?
Joe: For sure. But I think those hobbies are important, right? Like to stay sharp, to avoid burnout, to find passion outside of work.
John: I totally agree and it’s cool to hear that like you know what some of those things are that light people up, you know. ‘Cause I would imagine that the conversation at work is a lot more fun when it involves some of those things on occasion than just all work all the time sort of thing like you said with the burnout and especially in the last 2 years. I mean, whew, I mean that’s been heavy.
Joe: It’s been heavy for everyone for sure. And even to this day. So I’ve been leading our marketing team for about 2-1/2 to 3 years now. We have a Friday retro where we just talk about how we did over the last week.
We still start that session with icebreakers every Friday just to hear like “Hey, what are you guys up to?” What’s going on in our personal lives. That way, we can kind of stay in tune. We’ve got some big fans of Disney characters as well. I’m gonna ask him what he thinks about my Jack Sparrow comment earlier.
John: Right? Yeah. I mean, it’s just the things that like light up our soul almost. And you can just see it in their eyes and in their tone of voice. And they’re animated and like all these things about the person and then, you know, you ask them about the work product and it’s very monotone. Sometimes it’s exciting and sometimes it’s animated, but not every time. But every single time somebody’s talking about poker or smoking meat, that’s awesome. Like every time, it’s awesome type of thing. And if you can harness that energy in the work setting, then magic.
Joe: For sure. And a lot of the roles that we have at the company are creative roles, right? So we’re talking about software engineers, we’re talking about marketers, we’re talking about product designers. So I think the hobbies and the influences outside of work help them kind of bring their best selves and most creative selves to the work product.
John: I love that. Talk about people having stigmas. I mean, I did comedy and everybody thinks they know what a standup comedian is, and what it’s like, and what standup comedy is. And you don’t. You know, it can be anything. I mean, there’s clean as well as super dirty. And no, not all of them are what you think they’re supposed to be, the comedians, you know, offstage or whatever. But that creative side of me did give me a total unplug from the accounting work that I was doing during the day when I still had the day job. You know? And so, it’s just so important to just like take your mind off of the work for even just a little bit to come back fresh. I feel like so many people just hammer away at the billable hour or at the hours in general. And it’s like that doesn’t always equal best product at the end. So it’s encouraging to hear that a founder, someone like you is also thinking that way, that I’m not crazy I guess.
Joe: No, definitely not crazy. I mean, even if poker’s not your thing, it’s like maybe you’re a competitive runner and you’re again ready for the marathon training and competing, trying to beat not only other folks in the field, but like your personal best or trying to get under a certain number of hours in the marathon. Those things go a long way to like continuing to build your competitive drive in the workplace. Not only so you can beat the competition, but also so that like you can bring your best self to the office and continue to push yourself and grow and advance your career.
John: Yeah. Plus, those runners, man, I mean, they have that inner fortitude when like the going gets tough. It’s like “Yeah, no, we’re only on like mile 17. We’ve got plenty more in us.” And you’re like “I’m going to home.” Like crazy.
Joe: My legs hurt, I can’t breathe, but you keep pushing.
John: Right? And they just power through and I’m like “Oh, God bless you guys.” No, but that’s such a great point. And different people have different expertise, if you will, from their “ands” that they are able to bring to the table. And knowing what their “and” is means that now I can tap into your expertise a little bit more and let you light it up as well, which is cool. Do you have any words of encouragement to people listening that maybe feel like I’ve got “and”, but no one’s gonna care ’cause it has nothing to do with my job?
Joe: I think I would encourage everybody to find their “and”, right? Like you have a long life to live. There’s many things, many career choices that you’re gonna have. And what you do, who you are at the end of it is the product of all the experiences that you’ve had. So you never know when those things are gonna come up. And learning new skills and how those skills that you’ve learned translate to other things, you’d be shocked to see some of the connections that get formed.
John: Yeah, no, and I love that too of where you said, you know, you’re gonna have several different careers, but that “and” is gonna be with you forever. I mean that poker was with you from college, to big four, to other jobs, to now mosaic, so that’s never changed. Now, you’re in marketing. It’s like still poker. Like you’re not doing the accounting. You’re not doing the finance, but still the poker is there. And that’s sort of the eye of the hurricane I guess, if you will, where everything else is just swirling around and changing, and that’s just steady.
Joe: And it’s not even business, right? Like in a poker game, everybody has imperfect information. And you’re doing your best to make the best decisions with the imperfect information that you have. So for me, poker can apply not only to business, just everyday life and everyday decisions. It’s like how do you weigh the consequences, or the risks, or the cause and the effect of the things that you’re gonna do. And you can’t always know the answer. Right? Annie Duke’s book, she talks a lot about kind of separating the outcome from the decision. And I think that principle alone can like stay with a person through life.
John: Yeah, that’s pretty deep right there. Yeah. Not being outcome based but just if you gave it your best, well, then that’s what you can actually focus on. Sometimes the outcome is out of your control.
Joe: Exactly. And it’s math, right? So I think the interest in math from high school days keep the interest in finding ways to use math in different games. And the odds are in your favor, but sometimes those 30%, 20% chances do come true, in which case you made the right decision. It wasn’t the outcome that you wanted. But if you keep making the right decisions, you’ll eventually get those outcomes.
John: Right. Exactly. No, that’s awesome, man. Well, this has been super fun. I feel like before we wrap it up though, I peppered you with so many questions at the beginning that it might be fair if I turn the tables and make this the first episode of The Joe Garafalo Podcast. So if you want to ask me any questions, I’m all yours. Fire away. Whatever you want to ask, I’m all yours.
Joe: Yeah, it sounds like one of your “ands” is comedy. How has comedy come back to help you throughout like all the different careers that you have? And I know at least three, right? You had the accounting job and the big four. You’ve had the podcast host and comedians. I’m curious how comedies continued to help you advance you.
John: So I started it when I was at PWC. We were at a training in LA. There were five of us that rented a car from the hotel and went to the improv in Hollywood to see— Whose Line Is It Anyway would tape during the day or in the evening. And then they would come down and do 45 minutes uncensored in the middle of a 3-hour standup show of a bunch of comedians doing 15- to 20-minute sets. Yeah. And so, I think in PWC days and in my accounting. I mean, it just always gave me a puzzle to be working on and just figuring out even just like how humans think and how they work, but also just a sense of humor about things. Like if you’re not laughing, you’re crying, so let’s laugh.
I mean, just the lens that I see the world through is just different than other people because I see absurdities, or incongruencies, or things that are humorous that not everybody does. And then as a comedian, it’s your job to then paint the picture for strangers so they see what you’re seeing. And so, it made me a better communicator for sure, and it gave me an identity. I mean, the whole What’s Your “And”? started because 12 years after I left my first PWC office, someone I never met— ’cause he was in the tax department and I’m one of the coolest CPAs that doesn’t know how taxes work— he remembered me and told the meeting planner “Oh, I know John Garrett. That’s the guy who did comedy at night at this huge conference.” And I’m like “I don’t even know who you are.”
And I feel like we all deserve to be remembered 12 years later. And it’s not gonna be for the work, or the number of hours, or the whatever. You know, it’s gonna be for who you are as a person. And a lot of times, we don’t let the human side out and companies don’t even care about the human side or even know there’s a human side that’s there, you know. So it’s really helped me to be confident when I’m on stage speaking, a lot of keynotes at conferences, a lot of addressing partner groups or C-suites. Look, I’ve done a Friday night late show in New York City, so I’m not scared of any group of executives for a second. It’s just I don’t care. You know, I’ve auditioned for Last Comic Standing, I’ve done all kinds of high intense shows and a lot of pressure, so I got this. So it is certainly a skill that, similar to poker, plays out in a lot of different ways for sure.
John: Plus, I mean, it’s just fun to laugh, so—
Joe: Oh, yeah.
John: …that’s always good.
Joe: Yeah. If you ever need a new career, I’m sure you’d be a killer sales rep if you can make people laugh.
John: Right? That’s true actually. Who knows? Yeah. It’s like whatever. “But John said—” “Oh, he’s a comedian. Mosaic doesn’t actually do that. It doesn’t cook your dinner also.” It’s like “What? Who told you that?” That’s funny. That’s awesome, man. Very cool. Well, I appreciate you taking time to be a part of What’s Your “And”? and really appreciate it, Joe. Thanks.
Joe: Awesome, John. Well, thanks again for having me. It was fun to be here.
John: Totally. And everybody listening, if you wanna see some pictures of Joe outside of work or maybe connect with them on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. Everything’s there. 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 Podcasts 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.