Episode 571- Abhishek Nayak
Abhishek is a CEO & Potter
Abhishek Nayak, CEO & Co-Founder of Appsmith, talks about his passion for pottery, how it has helped him improve his skills as a manager, creating an open work culture in a remote environment, and much more!
• Getting into pottery
• Improving focus
• Skills from pottery that translate to being a CEO
• Patience as a manager
• Working with others who also have hobbies
• How Appsmith encourages an open work environment
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Episode 559- Heather Winandy
Heather is a Client Engagement Manager & Explorer
Heather Winandy, Client Engagement Manager at RSM US LLP, talks about her passion for exploring, trying new hobbies, bringing your full self into the office, and more!
• Getting into exploring
• Trying different hobbies
• Skills learned from pottery and ice skating
• Dropping the separate ‘work’ and ‘home’ personalities
• How RSM US encourages employees to bring their full self into the office
• Why it is important for leadership to show their human side
• Pressures of perfectionism
Please take 2 minutes
to do John’s anonymous survey
about Corporate Culture!
- Read Full TranscriptOpen or Close
Welcome to Episode 559 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 differentiate you when you’re at work. It’s answering the question, who else are you besides the job the job title?
And if you like what the show is 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 say how much it means that everyone’s reading it and writing such great reviews on Amazon and, more importantly, changing the cultures where they work because of it.
And if you want me to read it to you, that’s right, this voice reading the book, look for What’s Your “And?” on Audible or wherever you get your audiobooks.
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, Heather Winandy. She’s a Client Engagement Manager, Private Equity at RSM. And now, she’s with me here today.
Heather, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”.
Heather: Oh, it is quite my pleasure.
John: This is so great. We met so many years ago at an RSM event and it’s so cool to have you on.
Heather: I was looking in the area to see who I could find that was like comedian or could host an event for us out in Rockford and your name popped up and I have not forgotten you and that was years ago.
John: Yeah. And that was my first and last time in Rockford, so, you know, it gets laughs. But, it was so awesome and then, you know, to stay connected on LinkedIn and so, it’s just cool to have you be a part of this for sure.
Heather: Yeah. I’m excited to see where this goes.
John: Yeah, absolutely. Well, I have seventeen rapid-fire questions to get to know Heather out of the gate here.
Heather: Oh, okay.
John: It’s going to be a lot of fun here. This might be an easy one. Heels or flats?
Heather: Oh, flats, totally. I would still wear heels if my feet didn’t scream, but the weight of my rear end has driven me to flats.
John: Fair enough, fair enough. All right. I’m going to stay in flats all day.
When it comes to puzzles; Sudoku, crossword, jigsaw, or maybe Wordle I guess?
Heather: None of those. I do word search.
John: Oh, yeah, word search.
Heather: But, I like I hate puzzles. I hate them, they’re frustrating to me.
John: Word search though, it’s like, yeah, whatever.
You know what I do? I create a word search where three of the words weren’t actually in the thing and then, like…
Heather: I love when I find words that are not supposed to be there.
John: Right. Yeah, or the other way around, yeah, it’s bonus. There you go. That’s hilarious.
How about a favorite color?
Heather: Every color. Like, I guess I gravitate towards black, purple, and teal, but I have a rainbow. Everything is a rainbow for me.
John: Yeah. All right.
Heather: I used to only wear black and my mom was like, “Please stop wearing black.”
John: Right. What are you a vampire? What’s going on?
How about a least favorite color? Or I guess none of them because they’re all great.
Heather: Yeah. I don’t really have a least.
John: Okay. Fair enough, I’ll take it. I’ll take it. How about a favorite Disney character or any animated character?
Heather: I don’t like Disney. I guess I like Minions most.
John: Minions. Okay, that totally counts.
Heather: Yeah, because they’re mischievous, I like them.
John: Yes, very mischievous and I see how you would like that. That would be kind of like that’s awesome, which is why we’ve been friends for so long. There we go.
How about a favorite actor or an actress?
Heather: Again, I don’t really, like I don’t dig supporting people for – like I look for the person and to me like famous people are characters and I don’t…
John: They’re just people.
Heather: Yeah. I’m like such a nerd about it, but like it’s just not a thing for me.
John: No, fair enough. I think putting them on a pedestal, they’re just humans, like they’re just they have faults just like us, they just happen to be on screen, you know, in front of everyone. But, totally, I hear you on that.
This is an important one. Toilet paper roll, over or under?
Heather: Over, a hundred percent over. However, I learned that when you use over, there’s a reason you use over because it causes you to use more. When you use under, you’ll actually use less, which is why the preference from the company is the over.
John: Yeah. Very interesting. Interesting, yeah. So, they don’t have our best interest at heart? What?
A buddy of mine, Tom Ryan, comedian, so funny, he has a whole bit that he did on Letterman about baking soda and how they literally tell you to pour it down the drain to clean your disposal and your sink. Yes, you buy those and you pour it down your sink.
Heather: You but it to throw it away.
John: Just pour it down. Like, you’re like, what? And you buy it? And you see that’s what. Yeah, just pour it down, like, okay, same thing. That’s amazing.
PC or a Mac?
Heather: I’ve always had PC. I don’t even think I’ve used a Mac ever.
John: Yeah. I tried like it was like throwing left-handed. I was like, I don’t even know how to do this, if I can just go back.
Oh, is it sunrise or sunset?
Heather: Set. I am not an early riser. It’s cool when I see the sunrise, but I will stay up for the set.
John: Okay. There you go.
How about ice cream, in a cup or in a cone?
Heather: Oh, gosh. There’s more calories in a cone, not that it matters, either way.
John: You’re already doing ice cream, why not?
Heather: I usually buy it just in a cup because I don’t want it to be messy.
John: Exactly. You know what I do? I sweet talk them and get them to put the cone on top of the cup.
John: Like a little hat. And they do it, it’s amazing.
How about a favorite day of the week?
Heather: Hmm. I would say Saturday because I get the most done, that it’s like my…
John: Okay. Yeah. Yeah, for you, absolutely.
How about your first concert?
Heather: Oh, my gosh, there’s two stories to this. So, I was not a concert-goer as a child, my sister totally was.
Heather: My parents took us to see Neil Diamond and the Monkeys at Poplar Creek…
John: Oh, my gosh!
Heather: And I remember like my dad got so upset about because it was an outdoor theater, people are like peeing on the wall behind us. He was like, “I have children here.”
Heather: But then, when I’m old to go to a concert, the first one I went to was Metallica as an adult with my husband.
John: There you go. Metallica was my first concert. Yeah, that’s amazing. But, Neil Diamond and the Monkeys, like, wow, that’s legendary. And it – that doesn’t seem like the kind of audience that would be peeing on walls.
Heather: I know, yeah.
John: You know, but it’s outdoors and why not?
Heather: Yeah. And it was in the 80’s, I…
John: Yeah, it was that – it was that time where people just did that. But, that’s hilarious, that’s awesome.
How about a favorite number?
Heather: Hmm. I always say 12.
John: Yeah. Is there a reason?
Heather: I don’t know. I often say like, “What are you 12?”
John: And I say yes, you know, like it’s – I mean, it’s a solid number, that’s for sure.
But, here’s a tricky one since you’re in Chicago area, cheeseburger or Pizza?
Heather: Oh, pizza, a hundred percent.
John: There you go.
Heather: Like, not even a question.
John: Not even a question. There you go. And do you prefer more hot or cold?
Heather: Hot. Like, it doesn’t matter what it is. I would rather be sweating than cold any day. I would rather have hot food. I would rather be on the beach than in the snow, like everything…
John: All the things hot whether it’s food or the atmosphere or whatever. All right.
All right. We got two more.
When it comes to books, audio version, eBook, or real book?
Heather: I love real books, but I get distracted, so I gravitate everything now is audiobook just because I can get through it. I listen in the car and I tend to retain it a little bit better too.
John: Interesting. Okay.
And the last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own?
Heather: I thought about this a little bit. I would say if it’s a physical item, the favorite thing I have is my wedding ring. It’s just very symbolic to me. I look at it regularly, it reminds me of stories.
But, if I’m thinking about like myself, my favorite thing I have is my curiosity. Like, if I didn’t have curiosity, I would be an entirely different person.
John: Yeah. I love that. That’s a great answer, which probably leads to your exploring and even your pottery, which I saw on LinkedIn which is the whole reason I was like, hey, I didn’t know you were doing this, like, let’s – be a guest on the show.
John: But, exploring, have you always been the explorer type?
Heather: Uh-hm. I don’t know how far back it goes, but definitely as an adult, I’ve always investigated something. My husband said to me one time, “You never finish anything.” And I’m like, “That’s not true. I try things and then, if it’s not still intriguing to me, then I move on to the next things.”
Well, I am one of those people that if you said to me, hey, you want to go do blah blah or will you go here? The answer most often is, yeah, let’s go, let’s figure it out. So, that’s just like me as a whole. I love looking into something new and going is this the road I want to go down or is that a one and done kind of thing.
John: Yeah. And in the roads as long as you want it to be, you’re going to do it for X time or X distance or whatever. You know what? Yeah, it is, I did finish. It’s done.
John: And like, you know, it’s like…
Heather: Exactly. And sometimes I come back. Like, I was an ice skater as a kid and I was going down like the competition road and one – at one point I was like, I’m done with this. And then, in my 30s, I picked it back up and I did it for ten years.
John: That’s awesome. That’s so cool. To me it seems like, you know, the end bucket the outside work hobby passion interest bucket is a container. And sometimes it’s ice skating, sometimes it’s pottery, sometimes it’s, you know, concerts, sometimes it’s this. But, you know, it doesn’t have to be the same thing all the time, but you’ve always had that container.
John: And no matter, you know, what job you’ve had at RSM or where you’ve been before that and like, you know, that container was always with you.
Heather: And it also gives you tools to take to the next thing.
John: Yeah. Can you give me some examples of that that come to mind?
Heather: Well, in skating, it was teamwork because it was synchronized skating, so what you had to do was work connected to people. And so, whatever you did affected them, so that was a really strong metaphor for teamwork.
And, in pottery, I’m learning patience, which I have not had like ever. I am not a patient person. I’m like, come on, let’s go, get to the plan, let’s move on to the next thing, are you done yet kind of stuff. So, like that’s another one that is teaching me, you know, things that I can bring into the next into anything else too.
John: Yeah. And especially into work, you know, which isn’t the reason why you’re doing these things or these things were part of your life, but they are part of Heather and it’s like asking you to come to work with one arm tied behind your back.
Heather: Well, and you know now that you say that, I used to say there is two different Heathers. There is Heather at work and there’s Heather at home and, you know, it’s whether you know which one or the other.
And really now more as I’ve aged grown, it’s the whole person, so what you pretty much see is what you get no matter where you are with me now.
John: Yeah. And do you feel like that’s made a difference at work or in your life in general?
Heather: Yeah. I think so because I don’t have to separate and, you know, I don’t have to think about which persona or which attitude or, you know, which mentality I have to be in, it’s all one place.
John: Yeah. And there was someone I was talking to at a conference I was speaking at and after I got done, he came up and he was talking to me and he’s like, “I told a friend of mine I need to bring all these different – “ his name was Shay – “all these Shays together.” And I was like, “Well, I challenge you and be like there’s just one Heather. It’s just like a trivial pursuit piece, where there’s different pie pieces, but it’s one Heather.”
And so, it’s so cool to hear that you’re bringing the one Heather all the pie pieces to work, you’re bringing them all to skating, all to the pottery, all to these things.
Heather: Right. And I think people have to remember that too when they’re working with people at work, like there’s more than this person here that is in front of you. If they have bad attitude, it’s probably not because of that situation. It probably came, you know, with them from something else.
John: Yeah, absolutely. And in a lot of the research that I found, it’s if someone is outside of work life is not settled, then their inside work life will never be good. They’ll never be, you know – so, make sure that your people are living their best life.
Heather: And that’s one of the cool things about working here too is they are thinking about the whole person, which is really impressive and there’s so many times that I’m like, “Are we sure that we’re an accounting firm? Like, there’s so many other things that go on here.” It’s pretty interesting.
John: That is cool. And I’ve seen that in the marketing as well with RSM, which is so encouraging to see that, you know, organizations are realizing like, wait, we have a human here that so many more multidimensional than just their job title technical skills.
Heather: Exactly. Yeah, it’s pretty cool living through that development and not just be a cog. It’s pretty cool.
John: And I would imagine — do you feel like, like relationships at work are different now than maybe, you know, ten-plus years ago?
Heather: Yeah. And like people think I’m wacky when I do things like this, but I don’t think of the person here as their title. So, like we got a new CEO last year and I was in the office that he works out of which is different from mine. And I sent him a message while I was there, I was like, “Hey, I know that you’re in the office today and I’d loved to meet you. Would you like to go to lunch with me and my team?”
And he was like, “You know, I’m busy today. You know, I’m glad to hear about that you’re here and maybe next time we can catch up.” But, my friends, like people that I work with were like, “Are you out of your mind?” I’m like, “What? So what? Like…”
John: It’s just a guy, a person. It’s just a person that’s he needs his lunch too. You know, like, it’s like, why not? I mean, what I get a no.
John: How important do you feel like it is for managers or CEO types to just be more human and peel back those layers?
Heather: So, I wish badly that our leadership and even in any company, it doesn’t even matter that here where I work, like get out of your office and go meet somebody and say hello. And I’m sure they are terrified and I know that they are, like the youth that are coming in would never walk into an executive’s office and be like, “I am struggling” or, you know, “What did you do when you were 25 and you came to work here?” Like, that’s just not something they do.
So, if you as leaders come out to your people and greet them and talk to them and take a step back and remember how it was for you when you were 25 will make a huge difference in people’s experiences.
John: Totally. And such a great example too of how whether it’s right or wrong, if you have a title, people have a stigma around that.
And so, you know, you have an executive level title, even just manager title, they’re scared of you. And so, the more that you can do to come down to their level to meet them where they’re at, to, you know, just care about people, then, you know, the better it is for everything involved, you know. And so, that’s such a great example.
Heather: I hope that somebody hears me say that because that will be really cool if it made a difference in someone’s experience that a leader took that step back. Rather than I’m worrying about where their next level is, think about where you’ve come from and help those people.
John: I mean, I remember when I started in Big Four, like I thought partners were gods.
John: They must know everything and be…
Heather: Let’s not let them hear that. Let’s not let them hear that.
John: No. Well, I mean, six months later, I was like, I couldn’t have been more wrong, like, wow! And they drop way more F bombs than I ever thought like way more.
Heather: When I first went to work in corporate – and like I said earlier, I went to a private school and I came home swearing, you know, in my…
Heather: Early 20s talking to my parents F bombs and, you know, what F could fill in the gap of a sentence to be more empathic. And my dad was like, “I’m so glad that I paid extra money for you to go to a private school to speak like a truck driver.”
John: That’s hilarious. That’s so funny. You’re like truck driver. What? No, I’m speaking like a partner, like what have you said. That’s so funny.
But, it’s so true like, you know, just the more that we can be vulnerable a little bit and that’s where what’s your “and” comes in, you know, like you’re talking about the pottery or the ice skating, like are you on the Olympic team? No. Does it matter? No. Is your pottery in a museum? No. Does it matter? Also, no.
You know, like you’re doing it for you, but you’re also showing like I’m not an expert and super awesome at everything all the time. And it’s a great way to just humanize yourself just a little bit. Plus, it brings you joy to talk about.
Heather: Well, it does. And so many people in my class too, I try to remind them when they’re going for perfection, they’re like, “Oh, it’s not awesome.” I’m like, “Are you kidding? That thing is a masterpiece, like compared to what I’m even making, like it’s so perfect in my eyes.” And people just don’t see it.
And one of the things that somebody said this fall, they were like putting their pieces in a show and she had this piece that she did not appreciate to the level that she should have. And she was like, “I’m just going to put this out there.” And like within a second, somebody had bought it. And she was like, “Why would you want that thing?” But, it’s not your vision, it’s somebody else’s vision.
John: Exactly. Yeah. And I mean, and especially when you’re creating from scratch, it’s so hard, so hard to do in the perfectionist mindset and so that this exercise has to shatter that when you’re at work. So, I’m sure at work when something is not perfect perfect, you’re like, it’s good enough, like this is great.
Heather: Yeah. However, I hate the phrase, “good enough”. And it’s just a me thing, I don’t want to limit myself to saying, good enough. Like, so, I don’t know, it’s a thing with me, where my parents always taught us that there is always better, you can always do better. And it might not be perfect, it might not be the vision that you had, but what’s the next step that you can take to improve or what did you learn from that, that you’re going to work in the next version of it.
And it really is hard for me to be okay with that. Like, I had a call with my cousin last night and I was showing her some of the pieces that I had made. And I’m like, “This one is a little wonky and this one is not the best color and it’s smaller than it should have been.” But, like I was being very critical of myself, where it wasn’t what she saw.
And I was like, “This one piece,” I was like, “I don’t even know why I made this.” She was like, “I love that piece. You need to send it to me.” So, it’s a really interesting take. And because I come from the corporate world of where everything should be X or why isn’t it to this degree or, you know, we didn’t shatter the goals that we had set, it’s what can you turn it into.
And, that’s something that I am developing. And I’ve spent so many years going, well, I will just work on it a little bit more, I’ll work late to make sure that it’s perfect. And nothing is ever going to be perfect. I wouldn’t say I’m a perfectionist to a degree that my parents are, but you always want to. Well, I do would always want to provide the best product I can.
And having that mindset of it’s not that it’s good enough, but it’s the quality is acceptable. So, kind of the same thing, it’s semantics, but…
John: Well, it’s also it’s what it’s supposed to be because I’ve got to work through this myself as well and, you know, and it’s, you know, well, I’m where I’m supposed to be, this piece of art is what it’s supposed to be. I mean, when I wrote the book, right? And so, you turn the manuscript into the publisher. Two weeks later, you come over, oh, this should have been in the chapter, oh, this should have been – and it’s like, well, then you’d be writing forever.
Heather: And it’s so many things that like our – you hit send on the email and you’re like, oh, I should have blah, blah, blah or whatever. But, yeah, like if you’re working on a deadline, you have to give the best product you can up to that deadline. And like you said, you’ll be working on something forever if it’s going to be perfect.
And then, I actually heard somebody recently that was kind of art, I can’t recall what it was. But, they said, “If I had kept working on it, it would have been worse.”
John: Right. Absolutely, because then you ruin it and then, you can’t back up. You know, it’s not like in, you know, on a computer where you can undo. You know, it’s like, ah.
Heather: Yeah. It was really interesting. I love that stuff that twist your mind that makes you think differently.
John: Oh, me too. That’s so awesome. And it’s so cool that you’re that like these things matter and then they create great relationships at work that are stronger and make work go better.
Heather: Uh-hm. And now, I mean, those friends that I’ve created at pottery, you know, you get to know about their lives and it’s not just about what you’re doing there, you make all these other new relationships and maybe they impact them like something that you can attribute from your other experiences to them. I’ve had people that I’ve met that now work with me.
John: That’s awesome. Yeah. And I mean, it’s just having this other dimensions because if you were just one dimensional all the time, I mean, you’d be terribly boring to talk to. I mean, it’d be – it’d be, oh, God, this again? Really? Okay.
And then, it just makes you better at life and better at work and better at all the things. And I love that, that’s so great.
Do you have any words of encouragement to anyone listening that maybe they have an outside work hobby that they’re like, ah, no one cares because that had nothing to do with my job?
Heather: I think everything has to do with your job and really your job has everything to do with you. So, like I said, it’s bringing the whole person and I’ve heard people say like follow your bliss, like what sets you on fire, what gets you excited about and that like for me going to pottery every week. I’m like, “Oh, my class is Tuesday. I get to go to pottery.”
Heather: And somebody at class said, you know, it’s less expensive therapy, which is totally is, you know, and an outlet…
John: That’s great.
Heather: You talk with people, you get to – like if you wanted to, you know, punch a clay, go right ahead, it’s fine.
John: Yeah, exactly. I love that.
Heather: Like, include your whole self is really what I’ve learned over the last couple of years.
John: Yeah. I love that. That’s so awesome and such great words of – of advice for everyone listening.
But, I feel like before we wrap this up though, it’s only fair that I turn the tables and make this the first episode of the Heather Winandy Podcast. So, thanks for having me on.
And so, I asked you all the questions at the begging, so you can ask me whatever you want. I’m all yours.
Heather: Okay. Hmm. So, John, I believe there’s a helmet behind you. Why is that important to you?
John: Notre Dame football helmet. And it was signed by Coach Brian Kelly. It was the coach before Marcus Freeman now. It’s important to me because I went to Notre Dame, but then I also do some work writing the award show for the football team. And so, I get to see a lot of the behind the scene stuff and do that. And two of the shows were nominated for Emmy’s over the years, which is pretty awesome.
Heather: Holy mackerel, that is so awesome. That is not the answer I was expecting.
John: Yeah. And it’s not just like his signature, it’s like, you know, John, thanks so much for your help with Echoes, go Irish, you know. So, it’s like a personal note from him on an actual real like helmet out of the equipment.
Heather: That is cool.
John: Yeah. So, it’s cool. It’s cool for me. And it’s one of those things where I keep it here because it brings me joy, you know. And then it’s also back there for video calls, so then people can be like, well, clearly that’s important and then, you asked and then now, you know stories happen.
Heather: That’s cool. What’s your favorite color?
John: So, my favorite color, blue for sure. Yeah, I’ve always liked blue, always, always, always partially because wearing blue is okay for me, but it’s also…
Heather: It’s the color of eyes.
John: It goes with the eyes I guess, but I just I’ve always been a blue – a blue person. I don’t know why.
Heather: I was blue — growing up, everything I had was blue and my sister, everything was purple. So, even our first cars, our first cars a blue one and a purple one.
John: That’s funny. So awesome, Heather. Well, thank you so much for being a part of What’s Your “And”.
Heather: Thank you so much. I look forward to reading those books you recommended as well.
John: Everybody listening, if you want to see some pictures of Heather in action or of her pottery or other things, connect with her on social media. Be sure to go to whatsyourand.com, all the links are there.
And while on the page, please, click that big button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture and don’t forget to read the book.
So, thanks again for subscribing on Apple podcast or whatever app you use and for sharing this with your friends, so they get the message that we’re all trying to spread that who you are is so much more than what you do.