Shawn is a CEO & Cricket Player & Tennis Player
Shawn Parikh, Founder and CEO of Entigrity Solutions LLC., talks about his passion for playing Cricket and Tennis, and how he finds time to do activities with his family on a regular basis!
• Getting into Cricket
• Cricket in comparison to Baseball
• Getting into Tennis
• Playing for the company Cricket team
• Teambuilding skills through playing Cricket
• Work/Family life balance
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Welcome to Episode 455 of What’s Your “And”? This is John Garrett, and each Wednesday, I interview a professional who, just like me, is known for a hobby or a passion or an interest outside of work. To put it in another way, it’s encouraging people to find their “and”, those things above and beyond your technical skills, the things that actually differentiate you when you’re at work.
If you like what the show is about, be sure to check out the book. It’s on Amazon, Indigo, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop, a few other websites. All the links are at whatsyourand.com. The book goes more in depth into the research behind why these outside-of-work passions are so crucial to your corporate culture. I can’t say how much it means that everyone’s reading it and writing such nice 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.
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, Shawn Parikh. He’s the CEO of Entigrity Solutions, providing offshore staffing to accounting firms out of New York City, and was one of the CPA Practice Advisor’s 40 under 40, and now he’s with me here today. Shawn, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Shawn: Hey, John. Hi, how are you? Thank you for inviting me today. Pleasure to be here.
John: Oh, my goodness, this is going to be so awesome. I’m so excited to have you be a part of this.
Shawn: Well, I’m looking forward to it.
John: Yeah, before we get into cricket and tennis though, I have some rapid-fire questions for you here. Get to know Shawn on a new level. Here we go. I’ll start you out with an easy one, I think. How about a favorite color?
Shawn: Well, black.
John: Black. Okay. All right. There you go. How about a least favorite color?
Shawn: There’s nothing like a least favorite, but I black or white is what I like.
John: Okay. All right. All right, that works. Are you more of a suit and tie or jeans and a T-shirt?
Shawn: Jeans and a T-shirt.
John: There you go. There you go. That’s what I thought. How about a favorite day of the week?
John: Monday. Okay, all right. There you go. I’ve never gotten Monday before, so that’s a first. How about puzzles, Sudoku puzzle, crossword or jigsaw puzzles?
Shawn: None of them. I’m very bad at all of these. I’m a good math guy, but when it comes to logic, probably I have done miserably.
John: Okay, fair enough. Fair enough. I love it. How about, do you have a favorite actor or actress?
Shawn: Can we name from the Bollywood?
John: Yeah, absolutely. Totally Bollywood, absolutely.
Shawn: Well, I don’t know your viewers might know this. I’m sure there are not many Indian viewers. Of late, I have been watching one of the nice guys called Pankaj Tripathi. He has got a series on Netflix. Maybe you can try and watch one with subtitles maybe.
John: Okay, okay. I love it, man. No, that’s perfect. That’s a perfect answer. Would you prefer more chocolate or vanilla?
John: Vanilla. All right. There you go. How about, this is a good one, when it comes to books, more audio version, e-book or real book?
Shawn: Real book.
John: Real book. Yeah, me too. I’m the same on that.
Shawn: Honestly speaking, the attention span of people is decreasing, so do I, but I do find some time to read books because I think that’s something that goes with me and will go with me.
John: Right. Yeah. No, absolutely. Absolutely. Since you have the accounting background, balance sheet or income statement.
Shawn: Both on this. You can’t ask an accountant. You cannot do that.
John: You want the full general ledger. You want everything.
John: You want the full trial balance.
John: All right.
Shawn: Just on that, I would like to tell you one thing. Apart from cricket and tennis, I am also, you can say, one of the business analysts, financial analysts, so, of course, income statement, balance sheet, cash flow statement, everything.
John: Everything. All of it. There you go. All right. All right. There you go. Would you say you’re more of an early bird or a night owl?
Shawn: A night owl.
John: Night owl. Okay. All right. All right. Do you have a favorite number?
Shawn: Well, nothing like that. Never thought of this, but probably nine, if somebody asks me.
John: Nine. Okay. Nine’s a good number. Absolutely. How about more Star Wars or Star Trek?
Shawn: Star Wars.
John: Star Wars. Yeah, me too, for sure. Your computer, more of a PC or a Mac?
Shawn: Mac. We are all an Apple family, so, our Macs, our iPads, our phones. We are all family sharing, connected on Apple. Yeah, we are an Apple family.
John: Wow. You’re super cool and stuff. I hope we can be friends. You’re like, if my PC-ness is okay.
Shawn: Well, now probably it’s more like you’re now stuck with what you have started using too, so, yeah, accept the Apple now.
John: Exactly. I’m just lazy, pretty much. How about, do you have a favorite Disney character?
Shawn: Well, because I was born and raised in India, Disney had significant presence in India. There was an Indian version of the title song of DuckTales that I used to sing.
John: Oh, yeah. DuckTales, nice.
Shawn: All those, TaleSpin was there, all those cartoons. Disney has probably a big impact for kids who have been raised in the ‘90s in India, so, yeah, definitely.
John: Yeah. No, that’s awesome. That’s awesome. How about favorite ice cream flavor?
Shawn: Well, I told vanilla.
John: Oh, just vanilla? Okay.
Shawn: Just vanilla, yes.
John: Just vanilla. Okay. All right. Two more. Do you prefer more talk or text?
Shawn: Talk, absolutely. I’m old school.
John: Yeah, I don’t want to go back and forth seven times, all this texting. All right, last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.
Shawn: The favorite thing I have is probably my daughter.
John: Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, absolutely. Let’s talk cricket, man. How did you get started? I’m guessing, when you grow up in India, you start before you walk.
Shawn: Yeah, yeah.
John: How did you get started playing cricket?
Shawn: Well, I would definitely not know where the starting point was because in India, it is like religion. Everyone plays cricket. Cricket is not just a sport in India. It is like a religion. Just to give you an example, in Entigrity, we have full-year Entigrity Premier League, and I participate in that, wholeheartedly. It brings a different joy. Everybody is so much crazy into watching it. Even if you’re not playing it, you want to track which team is winning it, which team is losing, which person is scoring what, how many wickets are being taken. You can actually relate it to baseball in America. The one who pitches the delivery is called the bowler, and then you have a backer. We call it the batsman, right?
Shawn: We call it a game in America. In India, cricket is called a match.
John: A match, yeah.
Shawn: Yeah. The ground is probably three or four times bigger than baseball and a little complicated than baseball. Typically, end up scoring 10, 15, 20 runs in baseball, right?
John: In a good day, yeah.
Shawn: In a good day, yeah. There are different formats in cricket. You have smaller format which is Twenty20. You have midsize format which is probably a 50 over format. Then you have Test match format which goes for five days.
John: Oh, my goodness, five days.
Shawn: Five days.
John: That’s like the World Series almost for baseball, where it’s back and forth, back and forth. Is it one game over five days? Or is it five different games?
Shawn: Yes, just one game over five days. Yes.
John: Oh, my goodness. That’s like Monopoly where you just never end play. It just keeps going. That’s impressive, man. That’s awesome. What position do you like to play most in the field?
Shawn: Typically, in baseball, you have that. In cricket, you typically don’t have that position. They ask that, whether you’re a bowler, whether you’re a batsman, whether you are an all-rounder, and someone who stands behind the wicket, behind the batsman, behind the batter is called wicketkeeper. That’s probably designated role in the field. Those are what the roles are. You typically don’t specialize in any role. You have to manage the placement of the field, but it’s not like somebody’s — there are positions, by the way. There’s mid-on and mid-off and covers and forward short legs. There are positions on the ground, but typically, there is no specialization. If you ask me, I have actually got an injury on my left shoulder, so I’m not able to bowl right now. I need to undergo surgery, but typically, I used to bowl. We call it swing bowling. I used to bat a little bit. I’m not very patient.
John: Right. You’re swinging everything.
Shawn: Yeah. I’m very impatient with my batting, so I try to start hitting as I reach the wicket.
John: That’s cool to hear that you’re still playing now. When it’s in season, you’re playing. That’s cool, man. That’s awesome.
Shawn: Well, definitely, the days back when I used to play, it was definitely much more energy, but I’m 36. I’m not that old, but I’m managing to play. As I said, for me, today I have made a little bit of success with my venture, Entigrity, but the real joy of what we are trying to do, I was actually listening to one of the RJs which I love the most, in Ahmedabad city where I am, in western part of India. Darjeeling is one. He was talking about what is our definition of happy. How would you define that you’re happy? One of the situations is this — he actually listed out ten symptoms of, if you are under these ten symptoms, you’re happy; or if you’re these 10 symptoms, you’re not happy. One of the symptoms of being happy was, you’re able to play and enjoy the sport that you love.
John: Yes. That’s what the whole What’s Your “And”? is all about. You get your work done. You get those basic Maslow’s hierarchy things taken care of, and take care of your family and all that. It’s okay, but what brings me joy? What lights you up? It’s playing cricket or playing tennis. That’s awesome, man.
Shawn: Well, tennis, I’ve played tennis, probably in my professional career, early into my late 20s and after that. I liked to play in bits and pieces. The coaching used to happen probably six months, and I leave, and then again, six months and then I leave. I have done the coaching of tennis a little bit, then I started just two and a half months back again. I am really, really grateful that I have been able to start it again. I’ve been continuing and playing it an hour every day. Because I’m not a very gym-going guy.
John: Well, me neither, man. That’s so boring.
Shawn: I would rather prefer to play a competitive sport and enjoy my time, whether it’s individual or team sport, and I probably have that cardio workout, rather than lifting dumbbells.
John: Right. No, no, no, I’m with you, man. I’m with you, totally. As far as the tennis and the cricket, is this something that your colleagues know about, in your career, or your clients know about, that that’s something that you enjoy to do?
Shawn: Let me tell you this, my colleagues, definitely. Not everyone works with me in my circle. Typically you end up working with 20, 30 people in my company. The people who report to me or who work alongside me are 30 people. Most of them know that. Of course, we play cricket together, so they often know that because it’s our office premier league.
John: Oh, okay.
Shawn: Yeah, it’s Entigritive Premier League. We play together, and it is year-round. It is not a seasonal event. Every weekend, it goes. You’re part of a team, and your scores, pointing system, scoring happens. Apart from that, for tennis, most of them know that I play tennis. Client, my team talks to client. I don’t.
John: Oh, okay. Yeah, yeah.
Shawn: My interaction with client has gotten limited in the last few years.
John: Sure. Now that you’re the CEO, it’s a little different.
Shawn: Well, not that, but from the point of view of operational management. At the end of the day, there are 600 accounting firms that you work with. I’m still connected with some of the old clients, which I closed and I closely work with. I used to travel and I used to meet in person, close clients. I’ve created those special relationships which are going to be with you forever. Yeah.
John: Yeah. That’s where the differentiator is, having a slightly personal relationship that’s like, what’s your “and”? What lights you up? Who are you as a person, type of thing. Do you feel, at all, skills from cricket translate to work, or even tennis? Does any of that transfer over, to make you a better CEO or a better accountant, before that?
Shawn: Definitely with cricket. One thing that I always believe is that it is a team sport, and no individual can contribute. Business is very, very similar. If you are growing, scaling, it cannot be because of just one person. There may be one captain driving the ship, but it has to be the team effort. That is one thing. At the same time, one thing that you will learn is you have to invest in the vision of one guy. Of course, you then co-share the vision. The cricket actually wants you to — you have to make decisions every time. Out of ten, probably two are wrong, but you have to continue to back the team, back the captain, back the vision. That’s what probably cricket sometimes does.
John: That’s cool, man. Yeah. Because so many of these “ands”, you grew up playing cricket, and no one told you, when you went to college and university, that playing cricket is going to make you better at your business job. It clearly does, and it’s a cool thing to accidentally have happen.
Shawn: I think any sport that you play, it makes you a little more competitive, maybe. I don’t know.
John: For sure, especially if you’re a team player, type of thing, too.
Shawn: In an individual sport, you want, not that it’s a negative feeling, but you want to outplay your opponent, basically. That kind of competitiveness definitely translates into your business. Of course, there are health benefits and wellness benefits around it.
John: Yeah. Especially in the last year and a half, you have something to go do. Instead of just sitting at home and the pandemic or whatever, I’m able to look forward to something, whether it’s watching a cricket match, or it’s going and playing cricket or playing tennis or whatever. It’s something that brings you joy. That’s super huge.
Shawn: That’s one of the things. My daughter plays — she’s just six. Okay, I have a six-year-old. She plays tennis.
John: Oh, nice.
Shawn: Of course, at a very primary level. She’s getting coached right now. She has started this last three, four months. She’s also doing skating, roller skate skating. She’s going to participate next month in a state competition. That is something really, really, I’m proud of her. I don’t tell her that much, but, yeah, she’s doing that. I don’t expect her to excel. I just want her to participate because I don’t want to keep any kind of expectation from her. Because as long as they turn out to be good human beings, that’s it. That’s the other thing, is that’s something that they do for themselves.
Shawn: I’m happy. She’s liking something, and she’s following, even at six. We are happy.
John: Yeah. No, and I love how involved you are, as well, and it’s something that brings you joy too. It’s something that we were talking about, before we started recording the podcast, but just what is love. I love your vision of that. When we had talked, you said just love is interaction. I love it. How it’s just interaction with your daughter, interaction with your wife, interaction with your family, like you said, and even interaction with coworkers. It’s still loving your coworkers.
Shawn: I wouldn’t want to admit that here. What has happened is, bootstrapping the business and scaling it up has taken a big toll on me in the last three, four years, five years. Now I’m realizing it’s very, very important to have that cordial relationship, outside of just work, work and work. Now I’m trying to get into that zone or get into that relationship. I will admit that I have not been very, very good at informal — I have been talking to them all the time, work and work and work.
John: Right, right. Well, yeah, when you’re building something from the ground up, for sure, that’s so hard, but we need to intentionally make time for those things because they matter. It really makes us better at what we do. It’s just cool to hear that you’re turning that corner, man, and you’re right there. That’s super awesome. Before we wrap this up, do you have any words of encouragement for anyone listening that maybe they like to play cricket or they have an “and” that’s something that seems like it has nothing to do with their job, or they think no one’s going to care? Do you have any words of encouragement?
Shawn: Well, I would say, obviously, in early part of your career, I come from a very, very low middle class family, though, so it is very, very important to secure your family, financially, medically. That first piece is important. Once you have little bit of success, and you’re financially secure, definitely make sure you give time for things you like to do, whether it’s playing tennis, or whether it is interacting with your daughter, or whether it is playing cricket with your colleagues. When you’re not doing that, probably you should be listening to John Garrett’s show, What’s Your “And”?
John: Right. I love it, man. Thanks for the plug. That’s perfect. If you’re “and” is listening to What’s Your “And”? then you’re my new favorite person. That’s exactly it. No, but you’re so right. Once the basics are taken care of, make time. Make time, for sure. That’s so good. Well, I feel like it’s only fair, since I asked you so many questions at the beginning, I feel like it’s only fair that we turn the tables and make it the Shawn Parikh podcast.
Shawn: I think you should have — let me ask you a question. I think everyone asks this question to you. Well, accounting and comedy, same thing, you know? How did this happen?
John: When I was with PwC and I would go in, to do internal audit work, clients would say, you’re my favorite auditor ever. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad because I think it’s really good, but on the other hand, am I not doing what I’m supposed to be doing? Because maybe I’m missing a bunch of things. Yeah, but it’s just bringing some personality to your work and to your profession and to your career. I think it breathes life into everyone around you. Yeah, certainly not the norm, but there are a handful of us out there actually. That’s been fun, to have them be a part of this too.
Shawn: Let me ask you another question. What kind of anxiety or, let’s say, nervousness was there? I’m sure it would have been liberating once things started turning, but jumping immediately from accounting to doing shows, what kind of anxiety, nervousness was there? Creating content and people not laughing at your jokes or not having the laughter.
John: What was I thinking? Basically, did my mom send you? I did it for years, at night, on the side, at night and on weekends. I did comedy while I had my day job. It was my “and”. I was a CPA and a comedian. At some point, just reached a breaking point where I was going to leave the company that I worked for and happened to catch a couple of breaks. It was like, well, you know what, I’m just going to try and run as fast as I can and try to get escape velocity to get out into the orbit of the comedy world. I was fortunate enough to be able to do so, but I did it for at least five years, at night, on the side. I also don’t advocate that because it’s so much harder. My “and”, I used to do it for fun and for joy, and now it became my job. It didn’t provide as much joy as it used to, because I had to do it in order to pay the bills. Keeping it on the side is, I think, the ideal situation. You have a steady paycheck, you have benefits, you have all of that, and then you’re good at your job. Then you have this other thing on the side that just lights you up and provides joy, and you can do that when you feel like doing it, type of thing.
Shawn: Well, one of my hobbies, I don’t know if I told you or not, but one of my hobbies is to analyze businesses. It gives me real joy, understanding business models, looking at the management, conference calls, and it almost feels like a story, tying to something.
John: No, that’s awesome, man. Yeah, and I just appreciate you taking time to be a part of What’s Your “And”? Shawn. This has been really, really fun.
Shawn: Thank you, John. It has been a real pleasure and fun to be on your show. I think what you’re doing is wonderful, and sharing joy with people, as well as people who identify with personal-professional life balance and living it with fun energy.
John: Yeah, and everybody listening, if you want to see some pictures of Shawn outside of work, or maybe connect with him on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com All the links are there, and while you’re on the page, please click that big button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture. Don’t forget to read the book.
Thanks again for subscribing on iTunes or whatever app you use and for sharing this with your friends so they get the message that we’re all trying to spread, that who you are is so much more than what you do.
Tom is an Accountant & Griller
Tom Wheeland returns to the podcast from episode 138 to talk about his new passion in cooking and grilling! He also talks about how important it is for a leader to be open and vulnerable to make an impact within your organization!
• Got away from hiking after Grand Canyon trip
• Getting into cooking
• Why having something relatable to talk about is important
• The impact of being vulnerable
• The culture he tries to establish at BKD, LLP
• Let them know you were there
Please take 2 minutes
to do John’s anonymous survey
about Corporate Culture!
(click to enlarge)
- Read Full TranscriptOpen or Close
Welcome to Episode 316 of What’s Your “And”? Follow-Up Friday Edition. This is John Garrett, and each Friday, I follow up with a guest who had been on the show a few years ago to hear what’s new with their passions outside of work and also hear how this message might have impacted them since we last talked.
I’m so excited to let everyone know that my book is published. That’s right. You can get it on Amazon, barnesandnoble.com, Indigo, Bookshop, a few other websites. We’ve got some really cool bonuses for launch week, like a buy-one-and-I’ll-personally-give-one-to-your-friend offer, so check out whatsyourand.com for all the details. The reviews, so far, on Amazon are blowing me away. It’s just so cool to see how much of an impact this book is having on so many of you from around the world, which is amazing to me.
Please don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss any of the future episodes. I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week, and this Follow-Up Friday is no different with my guest, Tom Wheeland. He’s the National Insurance Services Practice Leader at BKD, out of their St. Louis office, and now he’s with me here today. Tom, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Tom: Well, thanks so much, John. I appreciate it. This is really exciting for me to be on with a famous author, and looking forward to the movie version of your book and see who’s going to play John Garrett.
John: Right? Maybe Ben Affleck, I don’t know. He’s The Accountant Guy, apparently. Maybe Brad Pitt. I feel like — no, just let’s be honest. Let’s be honest. Yeah, it’s not realistic at all. No, it’s so cool to actually have you on, on launch week, because we met when I first started in accounting back in the day, so it’s cool that you can actually vouch for me as a legit, I went into an accounting office and got paid by them anyway.
Tom: Yeah, you actually were a double-entry accountant.
Tom: I can vouch for that.
John: It’s a little more on the internal audit side. I was never good at that double-entry stuff. I was like, here, you guys, figure that out. That’s awesome. I do have my rapid-fire questions I start the episodes with here. Get to know Tom on a new level. So, here we go. If you had to choose, Harry Potter or Game of Thrones. Okay, how about a favorite animal, any animal at all?
John: Koala. Nice. There you go. I haven’t gotten that one yet. That’s awesome. This one’s tricky, brownie or ice cream.
John: Brownie. Okay, okay. What’s a typical breakfast?
Tom: Oh, usually a bowl of Special K Berries, with the strawberries. Yeah.
John: Okay. I thought you were going to say brownie again. So, my book is out. You’ve already read it, but do you prefer Kindle or real books?
Tom: I like turning the page. I like having a real book in my hand. There’s the risk of paper cuts, you’ve got to watch that, but I still prefer the hard copy.
John: Very cool. Two more. How about a favorite adult beverage?
Tom: A Manhattan.
John: Oh, fancy.
John: Look at you. There you go. Last one, maybe the most important one ever. Toilet paper roll, is it over or under?
Tom: Over, definitely over. I’ve gone back and looked at the original patent, which was over. I’ve got to stick with the — respecting intellectual property.
John: There you go. That’s the best way I’ve heard it, right there. That’s fantastic. So, yeah, Episode 138, so long ago now. We talked, you had just hiked the Grand Canyon, which is impressive. Is hiking still a part of your repertoire, or has it moved on to other passions as well?
Tom: We still do hike, not as often. We did a lot of training for the Grand Canyon, and once we achieved it, I kind of packed my backpack away for a little while. My wife still does a little more of it than I do. I think there are some people at the gym that think that I died on the trip because I showed up with my wife with my backpack, and we had 20-pound kitty litter bags in our backpacks to add additional weight.
Tom: We’d do the treadmill for an hour. We’d leave. People started asking us about it. We said we were going to the Grand Canyon trip. Then about a month later, she showed back up the gym, and I never went back. I think people are thinking, maybe. I don’t know.
John: Right? I think your wife may be wanted for murder. It’s like somebody called it in. Is he missing? I think I know what happened.
Tom: She’s driving a nice car now. I don’t know what she did with those insurance proceeds.
John: Right, exactly, and a huge litter box full of all that kitty litter. That’s 40 pounds.
Tom: No cat.
John: Yeah, no cat. That’s very cool. I know you’ve been busy with other things as well that were also other passions that you’ve had a long time ago too.
Tom: Yeah. I played a lot of tennis in my life, and I still play competitively sometimes with my wife. That’s a little bit dangerous. It’s kind of like hanging wallpaper. You don’t necessarily want to play too much tennis with your spouse.
Tom: Still play a little recreational basketball but really, the passion I’ve gotten into more recently is cooking and grilling.
Tom: Anything involving food. I really started with the pandemic and being somewhat on lockdown and having a daughter who is pescatarian and trying to create new dishes that would be nutritious for her and tasty for us, so, smoking fish and barbecuing fish. It’s kind of turned into something that’s a challenge to try to find something that she can eat that we will enjoy and that’s not repetitive, day after day after day. It’s been a lot of fun. I’m not sure if I’m really good at it yet but, yeah, nobody’s gone to the hospital yet.
John: Well, then, you know what, that’s a win. That’s a huge win right there. So, pescatarian, is that anything from the sea?
Tom: Yup, vegetarian, plus any kind of seafood.
John: Okay, there you go.
Tom: My father, my sainted father who passed away, God rest his soul, when he first found out my daughter was pescatarian, he said, “Well, what’s the matter with being Catholic, Diana?” I said, “Well, pescatarian, not Presbyterian. It’s okay. She’s still going to mass on Sundays?”
John: That’s awesome, man. Did you grow up cooking at all, or was this just something that you took on as a challenge in March?
Tom: I never really cooked much. I’ve grilled a fair amount but usually just burgers and brats and stuff like that. Now, I’ve got a Kamado Joe, and I can go out there and put some fish out there for 45 minutes or an hour and give it a smoky flavor and experiment with different kind of wood chips. I use the gas grill if I need something quicker. It’s also something that you can talk to people at the office about.
I always think that whenever you can seem more approachable to the people around you, by talking about something that’s common, we all eat, a lot of us like to grill, and whenever you can drop any kind of facade or any barrier that’s separating you from a discussion with somebody who’s new to the organization, that they might look up at you as being something different than they are, when you can find something that — first of all, you open the Kamado and you say, “I’m vulnerable. I’m experimenting with cooking. I’m not really good at it. I’m getting better,” that makes you seem more real to them and encourages them to explore some of their own interests and share those interests, share the “And”, as you would say.
John: No, that’s awesome. I love that. Especially as a National Insurance Services Practice Leader, that’s certainly something that new people that come in as a 22, 23-year-old is like, holy crap. It’s almost like you don’t even have a name. Because I remember when I first started, you were a partner, and it was like, well, just go ask Tom. He’s just a guy, just right there. It wasn’t this intimidating figure. You’ve been doing it as long as I’ve known, which is awesome. It’s cool to see that you notice that anyway and that it makes a difference, which is what it’s all about, really.
Tom: I always would be intimidated by people that seemed to be so good at what they did at the office and then they would always share stories about all these great things they’re doing outside the office. They seem to be excelling at. It almost makes them seem like they’re totally unapproachable because they’re excelling in the office, they’re excelling out of the office. I think when you can share stories that make people realize you’re just like anybody else, like, hey, I’ve got a piece of fish, I don’t know what to do with it.
Tom: I’ve got a hungry family, and my wife is expecting me to cook right tonight. I have no idea what I’m doing. That just makes you just seem more human, and I think it really helps in terms of those relationships with some of the younger people in the office.
John: Yeah, and that’s an interesting point you just brought up that I hadn’t really thought of, is it’s not just sharing that hobby or passion or interest. It’s sharing something that maybe you’re not even good at, and that’s a whole another level of — especially in this day of social media where we only show our awesome sides. It’s like the opposite of Facebook where it’s, hey, I don’t know what I’m doing, and look at this fish that I just totally burnt. Hopefully they make pescatarian pizza so we can fill in the gap tonight. That’s such a huge point that you brought up, which is awesome, of that being vulnerable, sort of a thing. Do you feel like that’s something that you’ve always been like that, or has it come later with confidence?
Tom: I think it’s come later with confidence and feeling that you have an important role to encourage people to explore their interests to become more interesting people, whether you want to be well-read or just well-rounded in terms of hobbies and interests. It makes you more interesting to clients, when you’re out meeting with clients. People gravitate toward people that are interesting and have something to say and something to share. I also want people in our organization to, I’m not saying, encouraging them to make mistakes, but encouraging them to take risks, and obviously within a framework of risk management, but to try new things, whether it’s in the office, a new way of looking at something, and not to feel as if we have this veil of perfection around us that we can’t make a mistake and we can’t admit that we made a mistake. I think that’s really how people grow in that type of environment.
John: Yeah, totally. Because there are layers of review so it’s not going from somebody that’s going to push the envelope a little bit on extending themselves, to straight out to the client or the media. It’s like, no, no, we have some layers in there to catch things, but everyone’s given their best swing. They’re going to try as hard as they can. They’re not being reckless. Let’s treat our people like adults, instead of like toddlers. That’s awesome, man. That’s really awesome to hear. I love that quote you emailed me after finishing the book, of what your dad would tell you, which is awesome. I’ll let you bring that in.
Tom: Whenever he was at a basketball game or any activity that I was involved in, and even when I got into my professional career, his expression was always, let them know you were there. In other words, make an impact. Use your own style, stay within yourself, but don’t be afraid to be you. When you walk off the field or you walk off the stage or after a presentation, for people to say, “That’s Tom Wheeland. He made an impact.” Maybe he doesn’t get the work, or maybe he doesn’t win the game, but carried yourself with integrity and decency and sportsmanship. That’s really impacted me in everything I do. I try to establish at least a culture that other people can let us know that they were there and let the world know that they were there, not just hogging the spotlight for yourself but sharing that spotlight with other people.
John: No, that’s huge. That’s so huge. It’s something that not a lot of people in leadership positions do. It’s, well, I worked hard to get here, and I want all of the credit from all of your work. What is it that makes you want to be the way that you are?
Tom: I think it’s just I want to make my parents proud and my wife proud. My parents have passed, but I’m pretty sure they’re watching just about everything I do.
Tom: My mom would always joke that, “I’ll haunt you when I’m away.” In some way, she is.
John: Right. We’re talking about her on the podcast, so nailed it.
Tom: can do, yeah.
John: Right, right.
Tom: You’re brought up a certain way. When I realized all the touchstones I had in my life, and the positive impact people have had on me, and it’s really taken me, unfortunately, maybe 58 years to process it all; but I realized, I’m in a place in the world for a reason. I’ve got to take full advantage of that and try to set things up for other people to excel and to flourish, both in the office and outside the office.
John: I love that so much, man. That’s awesome and so encouraging to hear. It’s not impossible. It can very much be done, and it should be done, is where we’re at. This has been so much fun, Tom. I feel like before I wrap it up, it’s only fair that I turn the tables. This is the first episode of The Tom Wheeland Show, so I’ll allow you to rapid-fire question me. Thanks for having me on as a guest. I booked myself, thank you. Anything you’ve got for me.
Tom: Well, Episode One of the Tom Wheeland webcast, and my guest today is John Garrett, world-renowned author of What’s Your “And”? John, I just have a couple of rapid-fire questions for you. I’m not going to do the boxers or briefs because that’s just way too easy.
John: All right.
Tom: When I look at what you do and the value that you bring to organizations, sharing some of your stories and your experiences, as well as your incredible sense of humor and devilish good looks.
John: Stop now. Just stop now.
Tom: How did you pivot during this pandemic when so much of probably what you were doing was in-person live, and now you’ve had to change things up?
John: It was brutal. Yeah, it was really brutal, to be honest, and having the book coming out, just trying to stay positive, also just trying to be the best version of myself. It seemed like a lot of people turned into the extreme, terrible version. People were greedy. They were hoarding things. People were bossy and dictators. Just, don’t do this, do this, do this. I know some people, where they work, they were getting emails, three, four times a day. Make sure you hit your chargeable hours. It’s like, are you drunk? Do you even know what’s going on in the world and the stuff we’re trying to get through?
It’s doing a lot of things, virtually. It’s really hard. It’s different. It’s exhausting, but I think that it’s making that impact just in a different way because people need that now, and especially some of the funny. We need that little bit of break. Because when we’re working at home, we don’t really have a break. It’s always there. It’s always on. Some people don’t have a spare bedroom/office. It’s on the kitchen table while they’re eating, and then they can’t get away from it. Especially now, it’s come to light of how much this message matters now, where people really need those outside of work interests, just to get through the day. In Episode 300, talked with Tony Nitti about that and just mental wellness. Forget the client relationships, forget the coworker relationships, do it for yourself.
John: We’ve all been each other’s homes. Let’s not act like we haven’t. I’ve seen you at 8 am when your kids are screaming about their homework and your dog’s barking and you haven’t showered. We’re real people. Let’s carry that forward. It’s also encouraged me to go bigger with like a consulting piece to this. How do we implement this? It’s simple but not easy, so let’s implement this, kind of to go with the book. Yeah, that was a super long answer. I feel like I’m ruining your first episode right away.
Tom: Yeah. This is my show, not your show.
John: Right, exactly. You got to just interrupt me.
Tom: When you lay down at night, and you close your eyes, and you think about what you’re most thankful for; what would that be?
John: Yeah, wow. Well, that Tom Wheeland agreed to come back on the podcast, that’ll be tonight. But before today, honestly, the sacrifices that my parents have made for me to be able to be where I am. We both went to Notre Dame. I still don’t, to this day, understand how my parents financed that, and I’m a finance guy. So, the sacrifices that they made for me to be where I am and to have those opportunities and to do those kind of things, yeah, I’m super grateful for that, for sure.
Tom: That’s awesome, and Notre Dame record this year will be…
John: Oh, yeah. I could see it going 12 and 0. I could see 11 and 1. I think Clemson is really just the hard game. I mean, it’s college football, though, so who knows what will happen, especially with COVID and Ian Book goes down or whatever. I think that the rosters deep, and we’re really talented. I’m excited. We’ll see how it goes. I think they’re good, and they’re all headed in the right direction together, which is cool. We’ll see. I don’t know. What’s your take?
Tom: I’m bullish on this team. I think it’s got a — when you have such an experienced quarterback and you’ve got some nice, young running backs and Kyren Williams and…
John: St. Louis guy.
Tom: Yeah, so I’m bullish. I think it’s going to be a good season. It’s going to be fun to see how this whole thing plays out with a different schedule and then weaving in a non-conference team, and what the overall impact on college football is of recruiting and scholarships and teams that don’t play this year. How does that roll over? You get an extra year of eligibility and then all of a sudden you have 100 kids on scholarship as opposed to 85, whatever. We’ve never done this before.
John: We’d all be Alabama. It’d be weird.
John: That was just who’s listening. I’m just excited that college football’s happening. That’s one of my big passions. Notre Dame’s great, but any college football, that’s where it’s at.
John: That’s awesome, man. Well, thank you so much, Tom, for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”? It was so fun to catch up again.
Tom: Great to see you, my friend. Godspeed. Let me know if there’s anything else I can do to help further this movie version of your book.
John: Well, thanks, man. Thank you. Maybe we’ll get you to play the part. There we go.
Everybody listening, if you want to see some pictures of Tom in action or maybe connect with him on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. All the links are there. While you’re on the page, please click that big button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture. Don’t forget to buy the book. Launch week, buy one, I’ll give one, so, hook your friend up.
Thanks for subscribing on iTunes or whatever app you use and for sharing this with your friends so they get the message that we’re all trying to spread that who you are is so much more than what you do.
Belicia is a CPA & Snowboarder
Belicia returns to the podcast from episode 37 to update us on her latest hobbies including snowboarding, travelling, and going to the shooting range! She also talks about how she has noticed a change in co-workers making a point to bring their full selves into the office!
• Less tennis, more of everything else
• How her co-workers got her into snowboarding
• Close call at the shooting range
• How her hobbies make establishing relational connections easier
• More people are bringing their full selves into the office
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- Read Full TranscriptOpen or Close
Welcome to Episode 254 of What’s Your “And”? Follow-up Friday edition. This is John Garrett. Each Friday, I’m following up with a guest who had been on the show a few years ago to hear what’s new with their passions outside of work and also hear how this message might have impacted them since we last talked.
I’m so excited to let everyone know that my book is being published very soon. It’ll be available on Amazon and a few other websites. So check out whatsyourand.com for all the details or sign up for my exclusive list. You’ll be the first to know when it’s coming out. And don’t forget to hit subscribe on the podcast, so you don’t miss any of the future episodes. I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week. This Follow-up Friday is no different with my guest, Belicia Cespedes. She’s a Senior Associate in the Forensics Services at PwC. Now, she’s with me here today. Belicia, thank you so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Belicia: Of course, happy to be here.
John: No, this is awesome. I remember the Episode 37. It’s so long ago. It doesn’t even seem like it. But anyway, I’m glad to have you back. I’d do the rapid-fire questions up front now. So I’m going to start you out. Here we go. If you had to choose, Harry Potter or Game of Thrones?
Belicia: Harry Potter, even though I’ve never watched it.
John: Right. It just seems less scary. How about cats or dogs?
Belicia: Oh, don’t even ask about cats.
John: There we go. All right. How about a favorite place you’ve been on vacation?
Belicia: I just got back from Utah. That was gorgeous. I highly recommend to everyone.
John: Yeah. Okay. I live in Denver, so it’s the Utah junior.
Belicia: Pretty close.
John: Yeah. Exactly. Yeah. But beautiful rock formations in the mountains. It’s amazing. How about hamburger or pizza?
Belicia: Ooh, hamburger.
John: Oh, okay.
Belicia: Especially if it’s a buffalo hamburger.
John: Ah, there you go. How about more diamonds or pearls?
Belicia: Let’s go diamonds.
John: Okay. Okay. How about what’s your favorite ice cream flavor?
Belicia: I’m going to go cookies and cream.
John: Nice. Solid answer. Yeah. This is an important one. Last one, toilet paper, roll over or under?
Belicia: Ooh, wow. Over.
John: Okay. All right. Sometimes, people say under and I guess those are the cats people.
Belicia: They’re weird.
John: They’re the cat people. But when we chatted Episode 37, we talked tennis. Is that still something that you’re playing regularly?
Belicia: It is. It is. Unfortunately, a couple of my other hobbies have started to inhibit it a little bit. Snowboarding would be of them.
Belicia: And I took a bad fall. So my serves haven’t been prime lately. Tennis is still up there for sure.
John: That’s great. These other hobbies, so snowboarding being one?
Belicia: Yeah. I do it actually a lot with people from PwC that I work with.
John: Oh, that’s even cooler. Where do you like to go? I mean I know you’re in California, right?
Belicia: Yeah. Mammoth Mountain, it is unbeatable.
John: Yeah. There you go.
Belicia: Even for some of the mountains in Colorado. Sorry to say but it’s true.
John: Exactly. You know what? I’ve seen Mammoth Mountain, but I haven’t been for snowboarding. So next time I’m out there, I’ll bring my board and then we’ll go. We’ll see what happens. So what made you want to pick up snowboarding?
Belicia: It was actually some of the people at PwC that couple of them own spots up there. So we just go up as a big group and have a ton of fun together. So really, it was them that got me into it.
John: That’s great. So it’s getting out of the office. It’s hanging out. They invited you and they’re like, “Yeah. We want you to come along and be a part of this.” Then you’re like, “Well, if I’m going to go, I have to do it.”
Belicia: Exactly. And got to be good at it.
John: So how many years have you been doing this?
Belicia: Last season was my first dedicated season. I’d really probably just say a year at this point.
John: Yeah. And you’re good or are you doing half pipes and all these jumps and stuff?
Belicia: I’ve gotten up to black diamonds, but I wouldn’t say I’m great yet.
John: Right. No, no. I’m the same. I just started two years ago. Yeah. I just want to just do a small jump and not die. I take a picture in the air. Then I guess it doesn’t matter if I landed properly because you got the picture in the air.
Belicia: Get the photo evidence. That’s right.
John: Right. Exactly. And the thing that’s so crazy to me about snowboarding versus skiing is that the board doesn’t have to be perpendicular to the mountain because you’ll probably run into somebody. You’ll be going way too fast. You can almost go sideways and it’s just as good, which is weird. That’s really cool. So what were some of the other hobbies that you picked up?
Belicia: Now that I actually have a little bit of money, I can actually spend it on things.
John: Right. Exactly.
Belicia: So traveling and — yeah, it’s been very nice. I did a little bit of boating and got a handgun recently. So those have been things that I added to the list as well.
John: So just go into the range and target practice, things like that?
Belicia: Yeah. Exactly. Actually, the first time I took my gun out to shoot it, I could’ve potentially blown it up. But good thing I had a friend there who stopped me before shooting again. What happened was that the bullet got stuck in my barrel because it had been wrongly loaded. Yeah. Good thing he was there to say, “Hey, let me just check that before you blow your face up.” Yeah. That was a good save.
John: Yeah. For sure. Safety first. Then the boating, what kind of boat?
Belicia: Oh, it was a little speedboat. I just took it out on a couple of the lakes.
John: That’s really cool. And that’s got to be a fun release, just getting away from work.
Belicia: It is, especially with all the water there. You can just dive in and swim in between your boating with nice day jams going on.
John: There you go. Okay. Okay. I see what’s up. That’s very cool. Do you feel like any of these new hobbies give you a skillset that you use at work or a mindset or any way it helps I guess with the release. With the boating, that’s certainly a mindfulness thing, but any of the other things?
Belicia: Yeah. I think there’s a lot of conversation and relational connection that you can just make a lot simpler when there’s a wide variety of things and stories that you can glean from. So whether it be relationships with the people that I’m doing that with — for example, the snowboarding — we go with directors to staff that just started. So that’s always good to be able to easily connect with anyone. But then on the trip to have analogies and stories to share just makes relational connection a lot easier.
John: Definitely. Because I mean you could only talk about work so much before we’re done talking. And I imagine that the people that you share those hobbies with, you have a different relationship with those people than just everyone else in the PwC office?
Belicia: So true. Yes, 100%.
John: That’s really cool. Do you find that other people are sharing more or that you’re more in tune with what people’s hobbies are since being on the show?
Belicia: Yeah. I think so. I think there’s been a really good maturity that’s happened in people’s lives, a little bit more of just wanting to bring their full self to work. So I find those conversations a lot more common. Maybe it’s because I’m also getting more comfortable with them, just breaking down all the stereotypes of being in the business office and being professional and only talking about things that are applicable to your project. It’s been really cool and has really contributed a lot to even just the daily enjoyment of my job.
John: Yeah. Because I mean I was the same way. When you start out, you model behavior or you act the way you think you’re supposed to act. Then you realize — like for you pretty quickly, which is great. It’s just, “I don’t have to be that way. I can just be me,” because that’s the best version of you anyway. It’s that. So I think that’s cool that that’s happened. Do you have any words of encouragement to anyone listening that might think that, “Hey, my hobby or my passion has nothing to do with my job.”
Belicia: I even would just take the financial freedom piece of it and say — encourage people that, “Hey, you’ve worked to get to this point and now have hopefully more financial freedom. And it’s really fun to be able to enjoy that without constantly thinking about how you need to spend every single dollar on certain things. So I think taking just a little bit of risks even there and enjoying that would be fun.”
I think last time, I shared a quote from G. K. Chesterton saying, “An inconvenience is just an adventure wrongly considered.” And there’s been a bunch of things that even with the boating day or with hiking days or travel days, there’s been a bunch of little things along the road that’s like, “Wow. this could be really annoying right now.” But then it just becomes a really fun story later, like almost missing that last tram or running into something, getting caught in the narrow part or the shallow part of lake. It just becomes really fun, stuff you can laugh about later.
John: Yeah. Definitely. Because I mean other people have probably done it too.
John: Exactly. Right. Or they’re lying. But that’s such great advice. Don’t be worried about every six minute block. There’s always more hours to be worked, always, always. But you’ve worked hard to get to this point and enjoy it. Before we wrap this up, it’s only fair that I allow you to question me if you’d like, so we’ll have a little bit of fun.
Belicia: Here we go. All right. Do you say caramel or caramel?
John: Wow. That’s a really good question. I think it’s caramel. That’s how I say it. Yeah.
Belicia: Caramel? Good choice.
John: Okay, good. I was worried that this interview was going to be over.
Belicia: Oh, it’s done. Goodbye. Taco tasting or wine tasting?
John: Wine tasting all day.
Belicia: Okay. And what about the favorite thing about yourself?
John: I get to talk to Belicia. Does that count?
John: I won. I just won. I just won everything. The favorite thing about myself, oh wow. That’s a really hard question. I guess I’m 6’3” so I’m just tall enough to get things off the top shelf but not too tall to sit in an airplane.
Belicia: There you go.
John: I don’t know. That’s kind of handy. I can spot people in a crowd pretty quickly, but I’m not freakishly tall where everyone’s like, “Oh, you must play basketball.”
Belicia: There you have it, ladies and gentlemen. It takes three.
John: That was super fun. Thank you so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Belicia: Oh, absolutely.
John: Yeah. Everyone listening, if you want to see some pictures of Belicia in action or connect with her on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. While you’re on the page, please click that big button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture. Thanks again for subscribing on iTunes or whatever app you use and for sharing this with your friends so they get the message that we’re all trying to spread that who you are is so much more than what you do.