Tim is a Valuation Principal & Triathlete
Tim Smith talks about his experiences as a triathlete and how those experiences help him mentally prepare for the tough challenges he faces both in and out of the office! Tim also talks about the joy he gets from establishing connections with clients and shares some stories from his time as a circus performer!
• Becoming a triathlete
• Some of his toughest triathlons
• How being a triathlete gives him the mental strength to handle challenges in life
• Losing the divide between work and social lives
• Why culture in the workplace comes from the top down
• Working in the circus
Please take 2 minutes
to do John’s anonymous survey
about Corporate Culture!
(click to enlarge)
- Read Full TranscriptOpen or Close
Welcome to Episode 267 of What’s Your “And”? This is John Garrett. Each Wednesday, I’m interviewing professionals who, just like me, are 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 that you use for your career, those things that actually differentiate you when you’re in the office.
I’m so excited to let everyone know that my book’s being published very, very soon. It’ll be available on Amazon and a few other websites. So check out whatsyourand.com for all the details. I can’t say how much it means that everyone’s listening to the show and changing the cultures where they work because of it. And the book really helps to spread this message.
Please don’t forget to hit subscribe so you don’t miss any of the future episodes of the podcast. I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week. And this week is no different with my guest, Tim Smith. He’s a Principal with DHG leading the business valuation team in Atlanta. Now, he’s with me here today. Tim, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Tim: Hey, I’m super happy to be here. I appreciate you hosting me. I had a great time watching you at one of our conferences, give a talk about What’s Your “And”? And DHG was lucky to have you get involved with us. So I’m happy to be here to talk to you today about my passions.
John: Thanks, man. Absolutely. Yeah. It was so much fun, that executive briefing series. It was cool to be a part of that. Yeah. When we were hanging out talking, I’m like, “Dude, we’ve got to get on a podcast and let the world hear this magic that we’re creating.”
Tim: The audience members thought it was magic, but we sure did. So that’s all that matters, right?
John: Exactly. I start my episodes out with 17 rapid-fire questions, get to know Tim on a new level here, all the things I probably should’ve asked you when we were hanging out but I didn’t. Here we go. I’ll start you with an easy one. Favorite color?
Tim: Purple. I have two purple bikes.
John: Oh, wow. Okay. There you go. How about a least favorite color?
Tim: Pink came to mind, but I’ve got two girls. It’d be hard to say pink is bad.
John: Well, it’s not bad. It’s just the least favorite.
Tim: Oh, there you go.
John: That’s how we get around it just in case pink is listening. Not the artist. Yeah. How about more pens or pencils?
John: Pens, no mistakes. I like that. How about when it comes to puzzles, Sudoku or crossword?
Tim: I can’t stand puzzles. Puzzles suck you in and don’t let you go. I can’t stand puzzles.
John: Fair enough. Okay. How about more oceans or mountains?
Tim: Oceans, absolutely.
John: How about a favorite actor or actress?
Tim: I’m a huge Bond fan. Daniel Craig.
John: Daniel Craig. Okay. Yeah, because I mean there’s several Bond options. But yeah, absolutely. How about more early bird or night owl?
Tim: Early Bird, definitely.
John: Interesting. Okay. Star Wars or Star Trek?
Tim: Oh, Star Wars without a question.
John: Yeah, me too. How about when it comes to your computer, more PC or a Mac?
Tim: That’s a tough one because in business, they make us use PCs. But man, I got an iPhone and they’re so easy. If I could switch to a Mac, I’d probably try it.
John: Interesting. Yeah. I’m not cool enough for Macs. They don’t let me in the store like I’m just —
Tim: You’re still young. It’s all right.
John: Exactly. There’s time. There’s time.
Tim: There’s still time.
John: Teach me, wise one.
Tim: I’m not sure I’m qualified to teach you
John: There you go. How about more cats or dogs?
John: Dogs. There you go. How about a favorite adult beverage?
John: Oh, nice. There’s a Bond reference. I see what’s going on.
Tim: That’s definitely a Bond reference, but it’s straightened to the point.
John: Exactly. How about a favorite ice cream flavor?
John: Chocolate. Nice. Okay. Balance Sheet or Income Statement.
Tim: Oh, I’m a valuation guy. It’s got to be Income Statement. You need cash flow.
John: Okay. Okay. Do you prefer more hot or cold?
Tim: Hot coffee, cold martinis and a little bit of water in between.
John: Okay. We got three more, three more. Do you have a favorite number?
John: Yeah. Is there a reason?
Tim: Anytime anybody’s asked me ever to pick a number, I pick seven for some reason.
John: Yeah. It’s the most popular answer on this podcast for sure. So scientifically, I’m going to say –no, I’m just kidding. Yeah. How about a favorite sports team?
Tim: Favorite sports team? I’d have to go with my alma mater, Florida State University Seminole. They’ve had some tough times, so you’ve got to support them in the tough times.
John: It’s up and down. That’s how it works, right?
John: Yeah. And the favorite thing you own or the favorite thing you have?
Tim: Oh, that’s a super hard one. But I’m going to have to say it’s probably my boat.
John: Okay. What kind of boat is it?
Tim: It’s a Cruisers 37 Express. It’s a larger variety of a boat and could serve as a small condo on the water, if you will. I have always loved boats my entire life so when I finally had a chance to buy my own boat, I went big.
John: Yeah, which I mean naturally leads into the hobbies or passions, a lot of things on water especially. But triathlons, specifically, how did you get into that? I mean were you doing all three since you were a kid and were like, “Hey, there’s a thing where we can do it all at once.” Or was it a later in life thing that you got into?
Tim: I had met people who were triathletes. I was always a biker. I swam enough to not drowned kind of kid. I was never on a swim team. And I never really ran. But I was a pretty good biker. I enjoyed biking. I look at biking and sailing to be the same thing. When you get off going really fast and there’s no engine noise or anything else, when you’re on your bike, you just hear the wind. It’s so relaxing. And when you’re just sailing — and I don’t even have a sailboat, but when you’re sailing, you just hear the water lap in the hall and it’s so Zen.
Now, I’ve met a number of triathletes. And I thought it was — it seemed like a super cool sport because it’s not just physical endurance. There’s a huge mental piece to it, being able to think properly between events. And the other thing I learned as I got into longer triathlons is how important eating is during the race and how you can just totally screw up entire race by not taking in the right calories. So it’s a mental game. I tend to prefer things where it takes as much thought as it does physical endurance because I’d like to think my mind is a little bit better than my body in terms of performance. I was never really an athlete to say the least, but —
John: You’re a triathlete. You were like, “I could do three.”
Tim: Yeah. I posed as a triathlete on the weekends every once in a while and I’ve run a couple of races, but I’m not sure I’m allowed to call myself a triathlete at this point.
John: No, I think so, man, if you’re doing it. And that’s the big thing that’s come across in the podcast from interviewing people. It’s, “At what point do you just…” And maybe rather than call yourself to a triathlete, it’s, “I enjoy doing triathlons.” I mean that you can say with confidence.
Tim: Without a question, yeah.
John: Yeah. Because I think that, for some reason, it is hard for people to make that leap to the title of, “I am a blank,” because, “Well, there’s someone out there that’s better than me,” or, “I’m not making a living at it,” or whatever it is. Yet what’s the difference?
Tim: That’s a super good point. I mean because there’s always someone that’s going to be — well, virtually, always someone that’s going to be better than you at whatever you’re doing. It just needs to be fulfilling for yourself and for your mental prowess and how you feel about going out and facing the world every day. In business, we do things that I can lay groundwork on something that I’m not going to see the results in for six to 12 months. I can go out and run eight miles and I’m like, “Yeah. That was good. It definitely worked.”
John: And we’re done.
Tim: Or you got a problem with your boat that needs to be fixed. You go out and you can fix it in one day and it’s done. That is hugely satisfying to be able to pull something off like that in such a short period of time when everything else we do on a day-to-day basis from a career perspective is long-term and results aren’t today or tomorrow. They’re like three to four months from now.
John: Or maybe depending on what piece of the project you’re in, you don’t even see the finish. Or the finish never happens in the M&A world. It’s like, “Oh, really?”
Tim: We spent a lot of time on that deal that died.
John: Right. That’d be terrible. You’re like three quarters away through a triathlon. Or like, “Race is over. We’re done. There’s no finish. Never mind.” And you’re like, “What?”
Tim: You have anarchy on your hands.
John: Right. Exactly. “I’m wearing the Speedo for no reason.” That’s an excellent point, man, where there’s some satisfaction that can be had immediately in finishing something, which is really cool. Are there any triathlons that you’ve done that have been more fun or come to mind as being more rewarding, I guess?
Tim: I think back on all the races I’ve done. The one that comes to mind first is not rewarding but it is comedic. Basically, it was a really horrific day. It was a short triathlon. It was in Pensacola, Florida. I think it was three to five foot seas with a terrible, terrible current. So I went out. Actually, even though as a kid, I only swam not to drown, I’m actually a decent swimmer. After all was said and done, I had a couple lessons and it worked out well. So I go and I swim and it crushed me. I drank a ton of salt water. Then the current pushed me so far down the beach. I had to run up to crazy sandy beach to get back to the bike.
John: That doesn’t even count as part of the running. It’s like, “What the hell? I just did the running.”
Tim: Then I get on my bike for, I think, was an 18 mile bike out and back. And as I left the transition and got on my bike, I heard the emcee say, “Hey, good news. The headwinds have died down to 25 miles an hour.”
John: Oh, my goodness.
Tim: And I was like, “What?” So I went out at, I don’t know, eight, ten miles an hour on the bike. And I made the turn and came back at 30.
John: Right, because the winds behind now.
Tim: Yeah. By the time I got back to transition, I was totally wrecked. And this is where the mental thing comes in. I transitioned, put my shoes on, run out of the chute and start heading down the street. I probably got a half mile in and some woman passes me up and she said, “Hey, you forgot your helmet on.” And sure enough, I had my helmet on.
John: That’s awesome.
Tim: Oh, yeah, I was running with the helmet.
John: Safety first, lady, safety first.
John: You haven’t seen how I run. Trust me. I need this thing. You should have one too.
Tim: You didn’t know the cobblestones are coming up. They trip you up up here. It’s your mistake. Yeah. So that’s the triathlon that I think I remember. I mean there’s been some other gray ones. I did one with my wife about a year and a half ago. That was really fantastic. And she beat me of course. Then again, she’s probably better at most sports than I am, so it all worked out.
John: That’s really powerful though to say that you did this, I mean, in non-easy conditions. I mean to do a triathlon at all, to me, is very impressive. But to do it in these conditions that are like, “Can’t we just cancel and do it next weekend? What’s going on?” It’s really cool to be able to be like, “I fought through this.”
Tim: Oh, yeah.
John: And I would have to imagine that at some point in the work world, when things start to go crazy and there’s three to five foot waves in the business context or there’s headwinds of 25 miles an hour or whatever that you’re like, “You know what? I can do this.”
Tim: That is true. It’s funny because everybody deals with stress and challenges differently. The stress and challenge of a triathlon is very acute and very right in front of your face. I perform well with that. And I take a lot of pleasure in pushing through that. The same thing happens at work on a short-term basis. When you’ve got to deal closing, you’ve got something happening, that’s where I feel like I can really be calm and just knock it down and knock it out. It’s that long-term stuff that vexes me every once in a while and will break my back with stress that, “Where are we going to be next year at this time? How are we going to grow DHG over the next year?” And that’s the sort of stuff that’s not right in your face. It’s like the everyday grind of business that for me is just tough. It’s doesn’t fit with my psyche, I think.
John: And it goes hand-in-hand with that’s why you do triathlons. That’s your skill and that’s your strength and that’s what you enjoy. That’s that muscle that you’re flexing. It’s that acute in-your-face stress and challenges. So that’s why you’re good at that because that’s what you do all the time. In the end, that’ll work. And that’s why something different, that’s not your strong suit. Somebody else that does some kind of — I don’t know, who enjoys that long term-stress, but those kind of people, whatever that hobby is or whatever that thing is that they like to do, that’s their muscle group that they’re flexing and working on when they’re outside of the office. You just show up. You put your helmet on. You’re like, “That’s what I do.”
Tim: Yeah. I’m just going run with his helmet. It’s okay.
John: Right. Exactly. Like, “Oh, I must run day because Tim’s got his helmet on, right?
John: But that’s so fantastic to hear though because that’s your strength. And it’s what you go to when you’re outside of the office. So it only makes sense that that would be your go-to when you’re in the office and definitely a skill that translates over. Do you talk about the triathlons or even boating when you’re in the office or with work-related people?
Tim: I probably do more now than in previous lives. I used to want to have a significant divide between work and social. But I came over many years to understand that the best business contacts are the ones that I have the same — we have the same sort of things in common, whether it’s kids or if it’s biking or if it’s boating or something else. It’s just such a great thing to have an immediate connection with someone that says, “Hey, I got this boat.”
I had a client once who told me about his — he had picked up a Hatteras during the credit crisis at some unbelievably low price and was restoring it because it was probably like a 20-year-old Hatteras, but for Hatteras, that’s pretty young. So he’s updating it and he told me all about it. It was fantastic. And I swear we probably burned up half the meeting just talking about his Hatteras. And it’s right at the time I was looking for a boat so we were going back and forth.
It forms a different level of bond and connection with your clients, with your colleagues. And here at DHG, I mean I think we encourage it. Not just because we’ve had you speak at a number of our DHG EBSs but I think that we just have a pretty sweet culture that encourages an intersection between work and life and friends. And I feel it’s a good place to be.
John: No, for sure. You’re absolutely right. I mean the things that you guys are doing — and it’s from the top down really, which is cool. It’s who are you as a person. And I think that that’s really important that there’s that level of caring, which is unique. And it shouldn’t be, but it’s encouraging for me to see it in action, a firm of your size do that.
Tim: I’ll tell you, culture comes from the top down. I was on a plane flight with our CEO. We were all sitting in coach. He had an elderly couple sit next to them. I just watched them make conversation with him, help them with their bags, just do everything that a gentleman would do. And I was like, “That’s our firm right there.” And it’s from the top down. It’s exactly what it is.
John: Because I mean how much is it — from your work experience, where you’ve been, how much is it top down or how much is it on an individual to jump in and be a part of it or maybe just create their own little circle if it’s not coming top down?
Tim: It’s so much harder if it’s not coming top down. It just doesn’t work because everything flows downhill. And everybody’s got to set an example for everybody else. And if you don’t have it starting in the executive C-suite, it doesn’t work. I’ve seen a number of firms. I’ve been in enough places. I’m super proud of DHG for the culture they’ve got.
John: I guess the one thing that professionalism tells us or there are plenty of people still working that believe this that these outside of work things are distractions. And there’s work to be done and there’s charge codes that we have to hit and all this. What do you say to those people because you’ve been on both sides of it?
Tim: What’s funny is that I say that you have to have work life balance. Now, coming from a guy who spent ten years in investment banking, the definition of work life balance is a little skewed to say the least. But at the same time, work life balance doesn’t mean you work from eight to five every day. It just means that you’ve got to have something else going on out there to balance the craziness you deal with for the most of the hours of your day during the week and sometimes on the weekends.
John: Absolutely. Yeah. I mean you just have something else. Multidimensional, I guess.
Tim: That’s good point. Yeah.
John: And it’s not always the same thing, right? I mean you have been doing triathlons since you were a kid. I mean surely, there was something before that.
Tim: Oh, yeah.
John: Oh, boy.
Tim: Well, I think just like careers ebb and flow, your passions in life ebb and flow because you have to go through seasons of life. My first degree out of Florida State, we talked about Florida State being my sports team — was Biology that I think was virtually useless. My first job out of undergrad was as a circus performer.
John: Oh, what? That’s awesome. That’s so cool. A circus performer, like with one of the touring groups?
Tim: As a college student, I was in the amateur circus, Florida State University Flying High Circus. We did shows and learned how to juggle and whatnot there. And I traveled with them. But after school, I got signed on with a private guy at Orlando. We went up to Minnesota and did a bunch of shows at the Minnesota State Fair doing juggling. We’re supposed to do high wire but it didn’t work out, so we did some mid-wire acts and things like that.
I think circus is still somewhat of a passion for me. I took my kids to the circus — to my old circus just this past year. After the show, they went around and got autographs with everybody. They just saw The Greatest Showman, and my youngest one as PT Barnum for Halloween. So it’s still a passion. It’s just things change over time. And at some point, I realized that I didn’t have the body of a sports guy that was going to be able to do circus for the rest of his life, so I had to go back and get an MBA.
John: Right. But I mean in the circus, how cool is that? I mean that’s crazy cool, man. I mean triathlons, that’s a whole another thing. But you can’t just drop a circus performer three quarters away through the interview. That’s super cool.
Tim: Just trying to keep you on your feet. That’s all.
John: That’s fantastic. But it just shows that there’s people around us that you don’t even know their story or their skill set because I mean that has to give you a different frame of reference or a different skillset or mentality that you’re able to bring to work as well.
Tim: Well, we go the useless puns like I juggle a lot of stuff at once. But in all seriousness, the circus was a weird place where you had to teach yourself how to do things. You had to figure it out on your own. And there was more than just performing. We set up the crazy tent. We pack the truck. We do everything. There’s a lot of physics in setting up a tent. And there’s a lot of leadership and delegation in moving a show from one place to another. I got all that as an amateur at Florida State. So it did have a good impact on, I guess, my professional maturity and my ability to dodge and weave as you’re going through life. You’ve got to take what life gives you. Things knock you down. You get back up and you get it done. I think the same thing happens whether you’re training for a triathlon or trying to figure out how to walk in a high wire or learning how to dock a boat.
John: I think the best thing is that Florida State moved their circus to the football stadium, which is also — no, I’m just teasing, man. I’m just teasing, man. I’m a guys guy. That’s why I had to get a little dig in there. But soon enough, man, you guys will be back. Just a little fun. But that’s really cool, man. And I mean there’s a lot of layers to you for sure. Do you feel like the sharing came because of just confidence in your job? Or was it something else that made you be like, “You know what? It’s okay if I share these outside of work, dimensions to who I am.”
Tim: At some point, I think you find your way into a place of work that you fit and the culture fits you. And when that happens, it doesn’t even cross your mind whether to share or not because the people you’re working with could be your friends outside of work because they share a common theme and they come and go. Now, they aren’t all your friends. Maybe they’re just mild acquaintances outside of work. But what happens is you find a place where you belong. And if you belong somewhere, you tear down the fences and you tear down the walls and you have a deeper relationship with the people around you. And you’re ready to share. So I think it’s an evolutionary sort of thing. It just happens over time.
John: Yeah, because it’s just a natural thing. It’s just like, “Well, that’s what people do who care about each other.” I think when you say friends, it’s like, “Well, I genuinely care about these people above and beyond what can they do for me,” which is a powerful place to be. And I think it makes business better. You can do better work and move faster. All of that stuff carries over from that.
Tim: Well, as humans, we weren’t meant to work alone by any stretch of the imagination. We were meant to hunt in packs and work together and build cities and build families. So having that circle around you is important and having that circle around you that you can at least share and feel comfortable with sharing. Not everything about you, but a lot of the private details you got works out.
John: Right. Yeah. Absolutely. And I mean these aren’t drama. This isn’t some crazy stuff that’s distracting to others. These are real passions of yours. I mean circus and triathlons and boating. I mean these are things that you love that no matter what job you have or what title you have at DHG, you will love those things no matter what. So you can’t take Tim without these other things. They’re synonymous, more than anything else in your career which I think is — which is powerful for sure. Do you have any words of encouragement to people listening that maybe think that they have a passion that has nothing to do with their job type of thing?
Tim: I would say look deeper because your passion has something to do with your job. And there’s lots of people out there that their job is their passion. I look at those people and I go, “Wow. You got super lucky,” because there’s a lot more of us that we like our jobs, we enjoy our jobs, but it’s not quite our primary passion in life. So if you can find that, fantastic. But for the rest of us, just make sure you do have a passion because it’s going to make you a better person. It’s going to make you a happier person and a more thankful person.
John: Absolutely. And both of those are fine. If your passion is your work, that’s great, but it’s also 100% okay if it’s not. You’re still good at your job and you like your job. Sure. But yeah, there’s something else that lights you up. Great. It takes all kinds, man.
This has been so much fun, Tim. It’s only fair that I allow you to turn the tables on me though since I so rudely started out peppering you with questions. So if you have any questions you’d like to ask me, you’re the host now. You’re in charge.
Tim: That sounds — I’m rubbing my hands together.
John: Oh, boy.
Tim: With a smirk on my face — no, I’m just kidding.
John: Right. Right.
Tim: We’ll start out with East Coast, West Coast?
John: East Coast for sure, very to the point. Just —
Tim: New York, Miami?
John: New York.
Tim: Oh, beer or bourbon?
John: Ah, I’m a wine guy. I don’t know if you’re allowed to say that together but —
Tim: As long as you don’t drink Marlo, you’re okay.
John: Right. I think that’s fine.
Tim: Nice. I could go on all day, but I know we’re running low on time.
John: No, no, no, man, I wish we could as well. But Follow-up Fridays, we’ll have you back. Then that’ll be fun. Then you’ll be back at the circus then so it’ll be even better.
Tim: Maybe by that time, we’ll have one of my girls. It would be — I don’t know how my parents let me do that. I’m not allowing my kids to do that. It’s terrifying to watch people do that.
John: Totally it is. Especially when you know them and you really know what they’re doing. It’s like, “Oh my lord.”
John: Yeah. That’s awesome, man. Well, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Tim: Absolutely. I’m glad to be here. I had a great time. And I appreciate you inviting me in.
John: Everyone listening, if you want to see some pictures of Tim in action 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 that page, please click the 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.