Episode 549- Orumé Agbeyegbe Hays
Orumé is an Accountant & Traveler & Runner
Orumé Agbeyegbe Hays, Founder & CEO of Hays CPA, LLC., talks about her passion for running and traveling and how it has helped improve her skills in endurance and networking within her career! She also talks about some of her favorite places she has visited!
• Getting into running
• How running has helped her career
• Favorite places she has travelled to
• How she encourages her employees to share their personal side at work
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to do John’s anonymous survey
about Corporate Culture!
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Welcome to Episode 549 of What’s Your “And”? This is John Garrett. And each Wednesday, I interview a professional who, just like me, is known for a hobby, or a passion, or an interest outside of work. And to put it another way, it’s encouraging people to find their “and”, those things above and beyond your technical skills, the things that actually differentiate you at work. It’s asking the question who else are you besides your job title.
And really quickly, before we get into the episode, I wanted to plug Michael Puck’s globaldogart.com. Michael was a guest on the podcast. Dog photography was his “and.” And he’s partnering with other dog photographers all over the world to create globaldogart.com where 100% of the proceeds go to Save 1 Million Dogs by 2030. And he says that shows that dogs foster social connections amongst people, promote trusting relationships in business settings, and just pictures of dogs increase our well-being and reduce stress, so check out globaldogart.com and help save some dogs. And get some cool pictures in your office while you’re at it.
And don’t forget to check out the book of What’s Your “And”? at whatsyourand.com. And also, 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 Orumé Agbeyegbe Hays. She’s the CEO of Hays CPA in New York City and was named one of the 25 most powerful women in accounting by CPA Practice Advisor. And now, she’s with me here today. Orumé, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Orumé: Thank you for having me, John. It’s a pleasure to be here.
John: This is gonna be so much fun. But before we jump in here, I have 17 rapid-fire questions. Get to know you on a new level here. So let’s start. I think this is an easy one maybe. A favorite color.
Orumé: Favorite color, well, I’m actually wearing two of my favorite colors today. It’s pink and blue. So that was very easy.
John: Oh, very easy. All right. How about a least favorite color?
Orumé: Least favorite color? I would say maybe gray because it’s kind of bland, you know.
John: Yeah. And that’s the color I’m wearing, so perfect.
Orumé: No. I’m sorry.
John: No, I’m teasing. I’m teasing you. That’s all good. Do you have a favorite Disney character?
Orumé: I don’t have a favorite, but I will say I like the Lion King. Does that count?
John: Oh, yeah.
Orumé: I like all of them. All the characters.
John: All of the characters. Absolutely. No, that’s a great pick. That’s an excellent pick. I’ll take it. How about when it comes to puzzles? Sudoku, Crossword, or a Jigsaw puzzle?
Orumé: Crossword because I used to play Crosswords when I was much younger. I don’t play it as much any longer, but Crosswords. Yeah.
John: All right. I’m impressed. I like it. Are you more of a talker or a texter?
Orumé: Well that one is difficult. It depends on who I’m interacting with, you know. There are some folks who, you know, it’s like I can’t BS on the text any longer. Well, I just get on the phone and get it over with. And then other times, it’s like I’m gonna do the texting. I’m like you don’t wanna face that person. It can be an avoidance and it can also be that is text. That is half and half I’ll say.
John: Half and half. I’ll take it. I’ll take it. Do you have a favorite actor or an actress?
Orumé: My favorite actress right now is Viola Davis ’cause like she is the bomb. She’s really something else. Everything she does is— It’s like she shines. And she’s someone that I look up to.
John: So good for so long too. Absolutely. And that’s a trick question ’cause you have the acting background as well. I was gonna say you, but no, no, it’s all good. How about— ooh, that’s an important one— toilet paper roll, over or under?
Orumé: I do over.
John: Over. Yeah. Yeah.
John: Okay. Fair enough. Some people really, really, really, really care. That’s funny.
Orumé: Me, I’m like whatever. It’s like just get it in there. Whatever.
John: As long as it’s there. Exactly. Exactly. How about more Star Wars or Star Trek?
Orumé: Star Trek.
John: Star Trek? Okay.
Orumé: Yeah. Because, again, I had a lot of older brothers and my brothers were into it, so I got into it as well.
John: Yeah, sure. Absolutely. Is your computer more of a PC or a Mac?
Orumé: Well, right now more of a PC, although I am with Mac family. My very first one, I still have my old Mac, which I use sometimes. And then all of my other products are Apple, you know. I got all of the other stuff. So I still use a Mac. But for work, it’s all PC.
John: Sure. So little both. I’m impressed. All right. All right. How about ice cream, in a cup or in a cone?
Orumé: Well, it depends on if I’m out and about or if I’m at home. If I’m out and about, absolutely it needs to be a cone. If I’m home, then I’ll go with a cup.
John: Yeah, because then it’s extra scoops at home.
John: Exactly. I see what’s going on here. I see. I see. How about balance sheet or income statement?
Orumé: Income statement annually. If I’m looking at it, if I wanna do a longer period, then I’ll do the balance sheet.
John: There you go. How about prefer more hot or cold?
Orumé: Hot. I am from Nigeria. It’s tropical. It’s hot all the way. Nothing cold for me. You can see right now I’m drinking my cup of tea. Always something hot. Hot, hot all the way.
John: 70 degrees is cold to you, I’m sure. So it’s like woo.
Orumé: Yes, it is.
John: Yeah. Yeah. That’s impressive. All right. How about a favorite number? Any number at all?
Orumé: 17 because that was the name of my childhood home and it’s not part of any of my password numbers. So don’t anyone try, okay, 17 with anything else. It’s not gonna work.
John: That’s funny. That’s great. That’s so great. Well, since you’re in New York, how about what’s a favorite toppings on a pizza?
Orumé: So pizza, it’s not particularly my cup of tea. But recently, I had some really, really good pizza in Manhattan. I actually met up with a number of CPAs, and we got together, and we had a really good pizza. And so, it was deluxe of everything. So I like mushrooms. I like pepperoni and veggies.
John: Okay. Yeah. Fair enough. And two more. When it comes to books, audiobook, e-Book, or the real book?
Orumé: I like the real book because I just like the feel of paper to like flip the pages over. Any problem is that if you’re traveling or whatever, then you know it’s not as convenient to carry all those books with you. But I find out with like magazine subscriptions, it’s so difficult for me to go and get a subscription online and read it online. So I like to have paper copies of them.
John: The physical copy. Yeah, no, I’m with you on that too. Absolutely. And the last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own?
Orumé: Favorite thing I have or own is actually one of my other “ands.” And I know we’re not getting into this yet, but it’s running like medal. The medal I got from the 2010 marathon that I ran.
John: Wow. And where was it? What marathon?
Orumé: The New York City 2010 Marathon. Yeah. So I love that medal. It’s framed in my living room.
John: That’s awesome. I lived in New York City then, so who knows if I waved at you as you ran by ’cause I was not running. I was probably eating ice cream out of a cone and then going back. Right?
Orumé: We love spectators and supporters. They are the ones who carried the runners through all the time.
John: Yeah. Well, we can jump into running. I mean, that leads right into one of your “ands.” Absolutely. And so, like is running something you did as a kid and then just carried on as an adult or did you get into it later?
Orumé: Well, it’s kind of funny, right? So in school, I actually did it. I ran for the school. I ran 100 meters and 200 meters.
John: Oh, wow.
Orumé: I think it started from when I was really, really young ’cause my parents, my mom would call. She’s like “Which one of the kids are out there?” She will just call your name. And so, you would run through the living room to go meet her ’cause you wanted to get there in time before somebody else or whatever. So I started running and then I ran in school in Nigeria. That’s like secondary school, which is like junior high. And then I forgot about running. I didn’t run for a very long time and relocated to New York. I can’t remember what triggered it. I just started to run again, and I just started, and it was little by little. You know, 3 miles, 5 miles. I had a couple of friends who were like really, really passionate runners, and they were members of a running club, and they asked me to join. And the next thing I know, I’m like training for a marathon. I’m like this is crazy.
John: Right? That’s a lot more than 100 meters. That’s for sure. And so, was the New York City marathon the only marathon you’ve done or have you done others?
Orumé: Yes. That has been my one and only marathon, which is why that medal is so precious to me. However, I’ve done a couple of half marathons. I’ve done about 4 half-marathons. I did the Detroit Half, the Stockton Island Half, and the Brooklyn Half.
John: And I think that those count. So that’s like two more marathons, four halves. I’m giving it to you. We’re gonna round up. The auditor in me says let’s just round it up.
John: That’s awesome. Very cool. And so, do you have anything from the running that you feel translates to work at all?
Orumé: Yeah, it’s that endurance. I think when you are running a long distance, you have to like be disciplined and just like know that you have to get to that end point, right? And so, it’s the same thing. Like when I’m going through taxes or working with any deadline, I’m tired, I wanna stop, I’m like “No, I’ve gotta keep going ’cause I’ve got to get to that end point.” And so, I think I bring that endurance from running into practice with work.
John: Yeah, I love it. That’s exactly it. I mean, you know, ’cause you’re exercising that muscle outside of work. And then when it comes time to use that muscle, that endurance muscle, if you will, at work, then you’re like “I’ve done this before. This is not even close to as hard as being on mile 14 of a marathon and being like, oh lord, like I thought we were done and I’m only halfway.”
Orumé: Exactly. You’re like look at the clock and like look at the stock of papers and I’m like “Ah, there’s so much to do. Keep going. Keep going.”
John: Exactly. Yeah, no, I love it. That’s super cool. And I guess also traveling. I know you’ve traveled all over the world. And so, do you have some favorite places that you’ve been?
Orumé: Yes. And I’ll tie a little bit of my running into my travels everywhere I go especially recently within the last 10 years. Every time I travel, one thing that has to be in my suitcase is my trainers, my running sneakers and a pair of running out stuff. And so, I make sure I get in like 2 miles or 3 miles just to like get to know the place where I’m at and get a feel for the local environment where that is a great way to see a new city just by running. Obviously, you can see the city by transportation and all of that stuff, but running is another way to see it. So yeah, I consider myself to be a global citizen.
Growing up, my mom used to take all of her children. My siblings and I, we always traveled away on summer vacation. I grew up in Lagos, Nigeria. So we’re either coming to America or going to London. So I had that travel bug from when I was small. And one of the things I always said is like I wanted to be in a field where I could get paid to travel. So when I applied at some point in time to a flight attendant, I did not make it. I made it through the first round. I didn’t make it through the second round because at that time, flight attendants still used to pull the baggage in the overhead bin.
John: Oh, up in the overhead.
Orumé: And I didn’t want to be doing that. I’m like “No, this isn’t gonna happen.” But anyway, so travel, I’ve been to like so many places. I used to have a map in my room in which I had— It was a world map and I would just check off all the different places I’ve been to. So one interesting place I’ve been to is Austria. I went to Salzburg, and it was like totally blew my mind away. Why? Because when I was small, the musical that everyone gets to watch when I was small, I dunno if you watched it, was Sound of Music.
John: Sound of Music, absolutely.
Orumé: I couldn’t believe that where I was was exactly the way it was in the movie. I was like the most beautiful thing. I said, “You look at a movie and you think it’s all make believe and it’s what—” But they’re like “No, this is real. This is where the Sound of Music was filmed.”
John: That’s so cool. That’s so cool.
Orumé: Oh, well, totally cool. So I did that. Another interesting place I’ve been to is Athens. And one of the places I visited when I was in Athens was I went to the amphitheater. And like you mentioned earlier, I used to be an actress. And one of the plays, we did a lot of Greek tragedy plays when I was—
John: Oh, wow. Yeah
Orumé: So for me to be in Athens and I went to the amphitheater, the acropolis, and it was like, whoa, this again identifying something that I’ve been exposed to in real life to my travel. So I was like I got to the floor, to the main floor of the theater, and lay down there to recite one of my Greek lines.
John: Yes! Yes!
Orumé: You know? People were looking at me as if I was crazy. I’m like I don’t care. I’m actually reciting words from Euripides. I think it was some lines from the Trojan women and I got to recite that. Another interesting place is Ecuador.
John: Oh, wow.
Orumé: There is a place that you get to in Ecuador where you get to straddle and you have one foot on both hemispheres. Yeah, I was like this is so wacky. Right?
John: Right? That’s so fun though. It’s so fun. And I mean, in the Acropolis, I mean, to be able to recite lines that were recited there thousands of years ago and, yes, you’re crazy, but it’s awesome, you know. And so what, you know? But to bring it full circle for you, but also for that theater, like how cool is it for that theater to hear those words again that were spoken there thousands of years ago and now by you? That’s so cool.
Orumé: Exactly. I’m like even if you guys don’t identify with it, I’m like I am living my life right now. This is so—
Orumé: Yeah, it’s great.
John: That’s so great. And to be able to straddle the equator and all that stuff, like that’s so awesome. And like things that you would never get to do otherwise. And so, do you feel like the traveling at all gives you a skill that you bring to work?
Orumé: Yes. It absolutely does. I look at myself, I think of myself as a global citizen. And when I get to travel and I get to all those different places, I get to meet people from different cultures, different countries, different religions. And it makes me be able to again relate to colleagues, to my clients because nobody ever— I don’t know about you, but I’m sure you don’t interact with just one mode of people, right, so exposed to different cultures, different languages. Even though I don’t recall those languages, but I’ve been in France, I’ve been in Spain, I’ve been in Italy, I can relate to them whether I get with them whether as a client or as a colleague when I was working with other staff members.
So it just makes it easier for me to relate to a wider variety of people instead of just a small, I mean narrow—
John: Which is huge.
John: ‘Cause, I mean, how much of that is part of your career versus your technical skills? I mean, that other side of you is maybe even more important to be relatable and all that.
Orumé: Yeah. Because especially, you know, it’s like starting up with my firm. I started from scratch, growing a practice and trying to bring new clients onboard. They need to be able to relate to you. I mean, you need to know that even though just something we might not have— We might have traveled in common or I might be speaking to someone who we’ve been to the same country or visited the same place, whether it’s Puerto Rico, nearby here, or whether it’s Belize, I’ve had a lot of different connections with people like that when we say that “Oh, you’ve traveled there? You were there?” You know, at this rainforest or the other rainforest. And so, those little things, it definitely also helps in a workplace.
John: Absolutely. No, that’s so cool to hear that the whole What’s Your “And”? thing isn’t just I’m making it up in my bubble head. It’s real life, and it really matters, and it makes a huge difference in your work.
Orumé: It does. Recently, I met some CPAs who were from India. And I got to talk about when I went to travel to India. It was one of those wild experiences. A friend of mine invited me to attend a wedding in India. And I went there. And it was the most lavish, lavish wedding ever. But to be able to say to the CPA “Oh, I’ve been to Jaipur, I’ve been to Mumbai and a bunch of other places, I got to ride on an elephant”, I had to share that experience with her. And then to talk about the wedding, immediately she identified with the wedding. And she was like “Yes, this is what they do.” She knew what I was talking about.
John: And it just softens everything. And then the relationship’s just better. You know, the work will get done, but it just gets done better and smoother if you have that relationship there. So awesome. Before you started the firm, you worked somewhere else. How much is it on an organization where you’re not the CEO or maybe as the CEO even to create space for the people that work there to have an “and” and to share it versus how much is it on the individual to just be like “Hey, this is what I do, take it or leave it”?
Orumé: I think it’s really super important. That wasn’t done everywhere where I have worked at. I work primarily in industry. And in one of the international firms where I worked at, they had that culture in which every time a new employee was onboarded, we had a staff meeting to welcome that person in. And that person will share a little bit about their professional life, but always also touch on their personal something that nobody else would know. And so, to help bring that person in immediately so that other staff members, the team, we could begin to relate to that person.
And then weekly, we would have all hands on deck meeting and first to talk about what they got up to over the weekend, who went bowling or whatever. What’s in your head? What else are you doing? Are you acting off stage, off Broadway somewhere? Are you doing a standup comedy somewhere or whatever? So I think, therefore, the employers that had that vibe going on, I noticed that the team were more together versus other employers that I’ve worked for that did not have that culture per se. Of course, you make things work, but folks are not as connected per se.
John: Yeah, no, it’s so true. I mean, it’s just amazing how when you just— I mean, you talking about traveling and running, I mean, but especially traveling like Austria, this is a movie that I watched as a kid, I mean, you were so animated and so alive. And you could hear it in your voice everyone listening, you know. And if this was a tax update podcast, I doubt that you would be as excited and as animated as you were talking about travel, which is totally fine. It’s not a knock on taxes, or you, or anything. It’s just human nature to this is what lights up my soul like on a basic level. And so, it’s like, yeah, find that out about the people around you. I mean, magic happens. It’s awesome.
Orumé: Yeah, I agree. I think we have to fill all the different buckets of life, right? So if you are just filling your professional buckets and just doing all the CPAs and getting all that technical expertise and not getting any other buckets, I think that something after a while is gonna go awry. So it’s better to like fill in all those other buckets of life.
John: Oh, that’s so perfect. So perfect, Orumé. That’s so good. And I guess do you have any words of encouragement to anyone listening? Or maybe that’s it. I mean, just make sure that all your buckets are full.
Orumé: Yes. Just fill in all your bucket. I have a girlfriend who does pottery. She just started to like do pottery. It’s just like making things from clay, from scratch. I’m like find your creative— Everybody has something that they can do. You know, find a passion and tap into it. If you’ve been holding back for so long, just let it go. And you know, the good thing is that you can do it in secret if you don’t wanna be judged. And then when you feel comfortable, come out and share it with other people because you’ll be surprised that there might be somebody else who shares the same passion as you do your “and” and you’ll make a connection there and that could take you somewhere else.
John: That’s so great. And yeah, you’re supposed to be bad at it. That’s why it’s a hobby and not your job, you know. And I’ve also found too, if you just change the phrase to I enjoy, I enjoy traveling or I enjoy making pottery, I enjoy running, I didn’t ask you your marathon time, who cares? It doesn’t matter. You ran a marathon. What more do you want from me?
Orumé: If you are there when I finished, you would have thought I was like #1. I was like it doesn’t matter if I was like the last person. I’m like I finished. That was more important.
John: It doesn’t matter. And so, you know, I enjoy blank. I’m doing it for me, you know. I’m not doing it for your approval. I don’t even care if you approve. Actually, it’s better if you don’t. I don’t even care. You know? So I love that. So great, Orumé. So I feel like it’s only fair though since I so rudely peppered you with questions at the beginning of the episode that we turn the tables, make this the first episode of The Orumé Podcast. So I’m all yours and whatever you got for me.
Orumé: Okay, great. So tell me about an interesting place that you have traveled to in Africa.
John: Oh, yeah. So, okay. I mean, my favorite city in the world is Cape Town by far.
Orumé: Oh, nice.
John: Yeah. And going down just south of there is the Cape of Good Hope, which is where the Atlantic Ocean starts to come around Africa and then hits the Indian Ocean. It’s unbelievably powerful. And just to imagine these ships in the 1500s or whatever coming around that with no GPS, no cellphones, no computers, I mean just unbelievable. I mean, just crazy, crazy. And then there’s also baboons just running around wild, which makes me laugh hysterically. I don’t know why. It turns me into like a 6-year-old kid. And so, their red butts like running everywhere. So like that was really cool. And again, one of those things where you read about it as a kid and then you go and you’re like “No! This isn’t even close to what you told me. This is crazy. Like this is unbelievably crazy.” So that’s a pretty cool place.
Orumé: That’s awesome. So I have been there. I have been to South Africa. I have been to Cape Town. And I did climb the Tabletop Mountain when I was there.
John: Yeah. Tabletop Mountain right there. Yeah. Oh, you climbed it. Oh, wow. I did the cable car. I paid 20 bucks or whatever. I was like “Yeah, I’m gonna ride up.” And then I waved probably at you as you were hiking and like what I was supposed to probably do, but—
Orumé: So keeping the theme with Africa, what would you say an African Dish that you’ve enjoyed, either an African dish or African music that you like?
John: So I did a safari in Kenya in Masai Mara. And it was really funny ’cause they kept serving us Western meals. And I’m like “Yo! I’m in the middle of Kenya, like hook me up with some good stuff.” And I was joking with the Safari driver and I was like “Yeah, but I just wanna get all energized so I can run a marathon like all the Kenyans do.” And he is like “Oh, we don’t all run marathons, just the Masai warrior types.” He’s like “Look at me.” He had a big gut. And he was just like “I don’t run anywhere.” But they made me a traditional meal and ugali. I thought it was great. It was like a white cornmeal, I guess sort of. Kind of like mashed potatoes, but kind of cornmeal.
And man, that that will fill you up quickly. And it was that with some greens and then some beef, but the ugali was definitely a unique thing that I hadn’t had before. They were all like “You liked it? Really?” And I was like “Yeah! You should have this on the menu. Why is this not a thing?” And you know, it’s what they served all the workers in the back. And I’m like “Yeah, bring that out. That’s what I want. I’ll go back there and eat it with you.”
Orumé: Yeah, I loved it. And it’s not spicy. It’s not like over the top.
John: Oh, really?
Orumé: It was great. Yeah, it was really good, you know. And so, yeah, I enjoyed it for sure.
John: Yeah. A nice one. So I love spicy and not spicy. I love a lot of African food. In Nigeria, we have a cassava mix. It’s called gari with eba and then some like really spicy vegetable soup. But I won’t go into that. I have another question for you. So how many languages do you speak? Any other language apart from English?
Orumé: Yeah. Well, not so much anymore. We lived in the Azores for 2 years when I was in sixth and seventh grade. So I knew Portuguese when I lived there. And then just after that, I took Spanish in high school.
So that ruined all the Portuguese because they’re close, but they’re different. Little bit of Spanish and then like a very tiny bit of Russian I also know, but also Pig Latin in high school I was a professional at, which is where you take the English word, and you take the first syllable and put it at the end, and then put an “ay” at the end of it. Like my name would be Ohnjay. So you just take the J and put it at the end. And I think it was a code that was made up during World War II, so then the Germans couldn’t translate or intercept the English as well. And so, it was just a dumb thing that several of my friends picked up and decided to— especially on the soccer team for some reason. We had that as a thing. But yeah, so the short answer is no. English is pretty much it, but I can hang a little bit with the Spanish and then a very tiny bit with Russian I guess sort of, but not really. I mean, there’s Google Translate app. Thank goodness.
Orumé: I know. Well, that we can all cheat. But before we go Google Translate, I do know something.
John: Yeah. So I’m impressed by someone like you. I mean, what are you? 5 languages I’m guessing?
Orumé: No. I wish. I used to live in Miami. When I was in Miami I used to get so frustrated ’cause everybody around me would speak Spanish. So I went to the library, tried to get some books. And this was back in the ’90s. I tried to get some tapes and whatever. And I just couldn’t pick it up. I was like this is not working, so I gave up. But when I was much younger, I used to speak French. I took French classes. And I used to write in French. And now, I can hardly put two sentences together because, like you said, if you don’t use it, you lose it. You lose the skill.
John: Exactly. Well, that’s awesome. Well, thank you so much, Orumé, for being a part of What’s Your “And”? This was so much fun having you be on the show.
Orumé: Thank you. It’s been my pleasure. Definitely great conversation. Thanks for inviting me.
John: Absolutely. And everyone listening, if you wanna see some pictures of Orumé from around the world or from her running or maybe connect with her own 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. And don’t forget to read the book. And 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.
Episode 323 – Joel Lacayo
Joel is an Account Executive & Community Builder
Joel Lacayo talks about his passion for charity and non-profit work helping fellow immigrants like himself find contacts and develop professional skills for building careers!
• Getting into his first non-profit
• How his background as an immigrant helped his career
• Starting Contabi Alliance
• Joining the board of La Concina
• Why workplace culture should be both from the top down and bottom up
Please take 2 minutes
to do John’s anonymous survey
about Corporate Culture!
- Read Full TranscriptOpen or Close
Welcome to Episode 323 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 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.
I’m so excited to let everyone know my book is out. Yes, it’s published. You can go to whatsyourand.com for all the details, all the links, all the stores it’s available at. I can’t say how much it means that so many people have bought it, left reviews on Amazon, Indigo, Barnes & Noble and, more importantly, changing the cultures where they work because of it. Thank you so much.
Please don’t forget to hit subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss any future episodes. I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week, and this week is no different with my guest. Well, his mom wants him to be called Joel, but I’m calling him Joel Lacayo. He’s the Lead Channel Account Executive at Rippling out of the San Francisco Bay Area, and now he’s with me here today. Joel, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Joel: Thanks for that intro. It was amazing. My mom will be so happy.
John: Oh, she’s gonna be happy and then angry at me, so there we go. We’re gonna do rapid-fire questions right out of the gate, get to know Joel on a new level. Here we go. Let’s see how this goes. When it comes to puzzles, Sudoku or crossword.
John: Crossword. Oh, look at you. Okay.
Joel: Which is more important than numbers right now.
John: Yeah, that’s very true actually. How about a favorite place you’ve been on vacation?
Joel: Oh, Cancun. We go there yearly. Playa del Carmen, more specifically.
John: Oh, nice. Very cool. All right, how about a favorite color?
Joel: Blue, royal blue specifically.
John: Yeah, I’m a big fan of blue. How about a least favorite color?
Joel: Oh, man, that’s a good — I don’t think I have one. If I have to, probably dark green, which just sucks because my little kid loves green.
John: Oh. Well, I’ll give him time. You know the old saying. Don’t worry.
John: Yeah, exactly. How about — this is a tough one — brownie or ice cream?
Joel: Ice cream. I like chocolate. Brownie is cool, but ice cream, it just comes in so many different flavors. I can get multiples — if you say, rainbow sherbet ice cream; I’ll be, yes. That’s only one. Ice cream is just, I can have many.
John: That’s very true, and you could put the brownie chunks in the ice cream.
Joel: Oh, brownie ice cream.
John: There you go. See? How about a favorite actor or actress?
Joel: Oh, man. I don’t think I have generally one. I’ve liked The Rock, so Dwayne Johnson recently has been really awesome for me. Yeah.
John: Yeah. The Rock, that’s a solid answer, solid answer. Are you more of an early bird or a night owl?
Joel: Early bird. I’ll be up at 5:30 because of the kids. They call me on a daily basis. I can’t get away from them. Even if they go to sleep late which is like 9, 9:30 for them, they’re up at 5:30, 6:00. Hey, let me do this. Let me do that.
John: Tapping you on the head? Yeah, it’s like, go to your mom.
Joel: Totally. The mom’s, she’s out.
John: Yeah, totally. So, my book’s out, got to know, Kindle or real books.
Joel: Probably a real book. I just like the feel. I listen to a lot of news and podcasts and stuff on the regular, so when I actually do read, it’s more like I want the real thing.
John: Okay, all right. How about a favorite number?
Joel: Yeah, 19. Keyshawn Johnson wore jersey 19. When I played football, that was my number. I went from seven like everybody else, and I was like, no, I want my own. I got 19 from Keyshawn Johnson, so, there.
John: Holy cow, wow. Okay, all right. How about jeans or khakis?
Joel: Actually, neither. I’d rather do shorts. I do shorts on a regular basis even in San Francisco, no matter the weather. It’s just I run hot.
John: No, that makes sense. All right, are you more oceans or mountains?
Joel: Oceans. Yeah. So, funny thing, I’m not a fan of open ocean, but I love hanging out at the beach and doing the beach scene. Mountains are cool, but I don’t know, not really attractive for me.
John: Okay, all right. How about a favorite TV show anytime?
Joel: The Simpsons. It cannot go wrong. I grew up with that stuff, learned everything about it, damn near used everything having to do with Bart Simpson within what I do. Yeah, The Simpsons has got to be it for me.
John: That’s a solid answer, solid answer. How about a computer, more PC or Mac?
Joel: Mac. I was totally PC until I joined the Xero fold, and I faked it until I made it. The first week, I was struggling. As I learned it, I was like, holy shit, this is so much easier. I’m sticking to Macs, so now, everything I do is Mac.
John: You’re one of the cool kids, okay.
Joel: I came. I became
John: Yeah, I’m not one of them, so, good for you. You tell me what it’s like. How about Star Wars or Star Trek?
Joel: Star Wars. I like both, but Star Wars is just so cool, great characters, out of space, all over the place. I think anything Star Wars related is cool. My kids have watched every single movie. Don’t know what they thought about it, but they watched it because I watch it all the time.
John: Yeah, yeah. You’re kind of in the accounting space, I’d say, so balance sheet or income statement.
Joel: Oh, I’d go with balance sheet. I think it’s just the simplest way for me to explain things to people, and it’s cleaner.
John: Okay, all right. How about favorite animal, any animal?
Joel: Cheetah is my favorite land animal, and dolphin is my favorite sea animal. I’ve swam with dolphins a couple of times, awesome experience. They are so powerful. I had no clue until you swim with them, and you touch them.
John: Dolphins are my favorite too, and everybody makes fun of me all the time. They think I’m like a six-year-old girl. I’m like, no, I am not. I still love dolphins. They’re wicked smart and cool.
Joel: But you can’t be mad at a cheetah. Cheetahs are beautiful creatures. They use their tail for balance. They’re just so engineered so well, obviously. Cheetah and dolphins.
John: Nice. I love that, man. I love that. Last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.
Joel: My kids. My family. I think that’s the favorite thing I have. They make me nuts. It’s like roller coaster with families but really, I think when you do get a family or you are a part of a family, you just learn so much about yourself and you grow that I’m completely different than I was, years ago before I had it.
John: That’s really touching actually. That’s cool, man. So, let’s get into hobbies and passions and outside of work and community-building and really just a lot of the charity work that you do. How did you get started into that?
Joel: Oh, man. So, I immigrated to this country. My family ingrained in me, hey, you’re going to work, you’re going to work, you’re going to do better than us. Hopefully, you have a better position than we do, a better life than we do. My initial work environment started with insurance companies, doing marketing and sales with them, with a small company, and then I went into working at the bank.
I started working at the banking industry, and I met my wife while working there. Funny enough, she just was not having me. I was a peacock at the bank by trying to be the Mr. Cool everywhere, nicely suited and everything. She was not attracted to that. She came in with some camouflage pants and coming from a soccer practice. She was on an adult team, a soccer team. She came in, and I helped her out with her stuff and started chatting up with her and having a good conversation.
As I started dating her, she was more of the nonprofit scene. She was working at social services organization really dealing with children and families. I would pick her up all the time, so I will be exposed to all these programs, waiting for her, being a part of programs that she was a part of there. One day, she said, “You know what, you’d really like this field. You should come and work within the nonprofit field.” I remember looking at her, and I was like, yeah, I totally want to go into nonprofit, not make money, lose my girlfriend and then have to start all over again. That’s the thing that I wanted. Right?
I was fortunate enough to be working at Citibank at the time, and the head of the entire nonprofit or giving sector within Citibank, she would actually bank there. I just brought it up to her. She was like, hey, great to have this nonprofit that’s looking for people to volunteer, which ended up being Mission Asset Fund. They were about a year old. I went there to volunteer to teach financial education classes. I loved being in front of people and teaching and training and decided to leave the bank. So, I left the bank area, started working with them. I worked with them for about three and a half years.
John: Oh, wow.
Joel: Yeah, did personal budgets, working with families as individuals or as groups, taught financial education classes, developed curriculum with them, learned how to sweep the floor and simultaneously, tried to do credit data and analysis for them so they’d know exactly what they had in mind. That really sparked my interest in giving back or just being part of a community because they focused on immigrant families and helping them establish credit and establishing themselves and establishing assets and establishing wealth as a family.
My family immigrated when I was five years old, to the United States, so that was really something that drove me and was a passion of mine. I was still making more money than my dad when I was 18 or 19, which is mind-blowing now, thinking about it. It was just an opportunity that was given to me, and I was blessed with lots of good mentors along the way. That’s how I got into the nonprofit scene. If it wasn’t for my wife looking so amazing, it would have never happened.
John: That’s incredible, man, and very honest and very — where did you immigrate from?
Joel: Nicaragua, my family came from Nicaragua. I’ve gone back several times. We actually haven’t gone with our kids just because the political environment right now is not the best, but I love the country, everything about it. Funny enough, I grew up as a Jehovah’s Witness. I was raised a Jehovah’s Witness up until about 20, 21. When people say, “Hey, you don’t really sound like a Nicaraguense.” I was like, yeah, well, I was raised with Mexicans, Guatemalans, Salvadorians, Nicaraguenses, really from all over the countries. Because at these congregations or these churches, everybody would come. Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, whatever, they were all there. So, I had a very unique upbringing in terms of that.
My wife really helped me just find myself a little bit better and just pushed me to better situations that I’ve been in. Through my time at the nonprofit, I started working with another organization called La Cocina in San Francisco. They are a commercial kitchen space for mainly immigrant women to have a space to actually cook, and they help them develop their financial business plans and get them to commercial kitchen spaces and open up their own brick and mortar. So, I was working with a lot of them while I was helping them on the financial piece with Mission Asset Fund, to the point where they invited me to actually be part of their Board.
John: Oh, nice.
Joel: Yeah, it was a female-focused organization, and I was, when I first got jumped on the Board, I believe I was one of two or three men or male. I was by far the youngest. I think I was 25 when I was on their Board, with these powerhouses like Traci Des Jardins who owns several restaurants in San Francisco, was the Top Chef Master, the director of the entire culinary school of City College of San Francisco, there was the Dean of Students of Hult University, all these incredible people. I was just like, I just know the community. I know the people, my family immigrated here, and I love food. I love finances. That’s how I started on not having just working at a nonprofit, but being associated and supporting a nonprofit with my personal or professional skill sets. That’s how I got in that realm.
John: Yeah, that’s cool to see how it blends. You can’t separate the financial side of Joel from the nonprofit side of Joel. It’s not like, okay, we only want you to do this today. It’s like, no, you can’t. You can’t unwind those things. It’s cool that you realized that at such a young age and didn’t try to separate them, but instead embraced them and actually pushed them together even more.
Joel: Dude, you know, there was a mentor that I had at Bank of America. His name is Carlos Avalos. He still works, I think, with Bank of the West now. When I first started as a personal banker with him, he was like, “You know Spanish, right?” I was like, “Yeah, of course.” He’s like, “You know, we can pay you an extra X amount of dollars because you know Spanish?” I was like, what? He’s, “Yeah, that’s a skill set.”
From that point on, I quickly realized, in the professional field, that my skill set were far from just being able to read or write or add or be very communicative. It was also my skin color. I attract a certain person and a certain culture, a community to come and do business with me because they see themselves in me. I learned that at the bank, really, really early on, that I’ve been able to continuously use throughout my whole professional career. It’s actually led me to the organizations that I’ve worked with.
When I was at Xero, that was something that we really catered to, being able to understand that I fit a certain demographic that we can attract, and I can completely leverage that out. Then I went to work for a tax and bookkeeping franchise, a national one, called ATAX that was focused on Latino business owners. Obviously, it’s easier for me to attract, to talk to the culturally speaking there.
During that time, with a couple of co-founders, we founded an organization called Contabi Alliance. Contabi is a play on contabilidad which is accounting. We felt that the Latino professional in this industry just doesn’t get enough credit. That’s both, I think, a combination of our own fault and also just the industry in itself, lacking awareness of who else is available. So, during our time at Xero, me and Arthur, that was there, Arthur Garcia, we talked about, hey, we need a Latino market. We need the Latino market. We need a Latino sales team.
This Latino demographic in the US is bananas. It’s so big. Right now, it’s even bigger than the Canada landscape. They were trying to start at that point. If you think about it, I think some of the research that I’ve seen is, in 2050, about 33% of the population in the United States will be Latino or identified as Latino. That’s massive. In terms of business owners, I think more like two out of five or three out of 10 are Latino right now are being started.
We saw this has a huge opportunity, and who do they want to do business with, primarily? Obviously, knowledgeable professionals, but people like them. People that look like them that can talk like them that understand that Spanish is not just singularity, one language. It’s actually, there’s a Nicaraguense type, and there’s a Salvadorian type. There’s the Cuban type. There’s all these different languages or dialects spoken within it.
That’s why we created that organization to, simultaneously, with anything else that I’ve done to this point, now being with Rippling, but anything that I get involved with, one of my question is, great, what are you doing with the Latino population? What are your plans for it? That’s one of the questions I posed with Rippling. I said, “I’d like to work with you guys. What are you guys doing with this population?” To their credit, I’m in a leadership position with this company. The lead on the broker channel is also Latino. The lead on the implementation team is also Latino. I was like, great. There is some synergy in terms of how you see the overall impact and how we need to be placed.
It’s been so interesting how, from the beginning, you pick that up, and you learn from it. It’s okay to ask a company as you’re getting on board, but many times it takes you time to realize that you have some power in terms of where you’re going to go work.
John: Yeah. I love what you said of the clients see themselves in you or vice versa. That’s so powerful. Whether it’s your skin color or your language or it’s, I like to play tennis, or I like something else; it’s a connection point above and beyond your technical skills. That’s so huge. That’s a difference-maker, straight up. Whether someone chooses your service or someone else’s, if you send me in to go to a Latino-owned business versus you, you’re going to get it, for sure. Unless we need something off the top shelf, that’s where I come in handy because I’m tall, like that, but other than that, you’re going to get it. Technical skills aside, it doesn’t matter. I think that that’s such a huge point that you brought up, that we all have a differentiator or two or three. Why hide that? Why keep that in the backseat?
Joel: I think that people who are able to tap into that personal differentiator are the ones that are more successful than others. Because everybody has the same kind of ability, they have skills, but I think some people just are able to innately find themselves a lot faster, or just identify what makes them unique a lot faster, and then build that community outside of the profession.
There are people that I talk to. We can talk about anything. There are people that I just talk to about sports and only sports, specifically football. I love that sport. So, there are different groups that we have, or there’s the accounting salon that I’m part of. There are people that we talk about accounting, and they get all really excited about it.
I think, as you learn about yourself, being true to yourself takes a lot of courage to some degree, but it’s also, just for me, it’s been natural. Why wouldn’t I share that I notice that? That makes sense to me. Why wouldn’t I share that I like such and such sport, or that I don’t like this, or I don’t like that? I’m not looking to offend anybody. All I’m trying to do is connect, like you were mentioning.
John: As long as you’re not looking for attention or just doing it to interrupt other people’s ability to do their work, then it’s fine. It’s totally fine. I think it’s really powerful because you helping these women and you helping these families, you’re helping your mom. You’re helping you, like Matrix kind of way.
Joel: Oh, totally. When I got asked to be on the Board of La Cocina, for example, immediately, I was like, well, I like food, check; I like business and finance, so, check; and my mom immigrated here and my parents immigrated here, so that totally makes sense to me. The reality is it’s just a lack of resources. That’s really what people are missing. Because there’s so many impactful people out there that have drive and want to do better and want to have more, they just have to have the resources available to them or the right people around them to make that accessible.
I’m just very thankful that I’ve had really good people around my life, from all different parts of the spectrum of race, and just be, hey, this guy is a go-getter. Whether that’s going to make him or her more money or whether that’s going to get them better, good for them, but it’s about us identifying that as well and being able to take advantage of these opportunities that sometimes we don’t see them.
You’re right, it was thinking about every single lady that I worked with, or dad that I worked with that was working the whole time and the mom staying at home with their kids, that was me. Or do a financial education class or training and having the kids translate things if they needed to, for their parents; I’m like, that was me, eight or nine years ago. Excuse me, my mom wants to make sure that the check was received. Oh, blah-blah-blah. Yeah, mama, dice que, this and this and that and that. That was totally my life. I didn’t know any different. That was just the norm.
They knew English. They just didn’t know it as well or felt as comfortable speaking, which is interesting because now, you have so many kids that know Spanish but they don’t feel comfortable speaking it. Being raised a Jehovah’s Witness, man, I was giving 45-minute talks throughout California, be like, hey, send him over here. You’re young. You could speak Spanish. They love you. That’s an example. I was like, great, I’ll go. It was okay.
John: Is there going to be food? If there’s going to be food, I’ll be there.
Joel: I get to eat afterwards? I don’t have to pay for anything? All right, send me. I will go. That was helpful. Now, I go to accounting conferences. I speak at different events. I’m just like, I feel comfortable speaking in Spanish and in English. It all ties in together, which is nice.
John: Yeah, yeah. It’s so cool to hear that you just take it or leave it. This is who I am. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. There’s nothing to be scared to share. This is who I am. If it’s not for you, it’s not for you, but that’s on you because I’m not doing anything that’s crazy. It’s also cool to hear that you had these mentors in these places where you worked, where you were able to share those things and ask those questions. How much do you think it’s on the organization to create that tone at the top, if you will? Or how much is it on an individual to be like, maybe it’s not the tone at the top, but I’m going to have this little circle of friends and get it started that way?
Joel: Well, during my time at Bank of America, I’ll say this. They identified neighborhoods and retail stores that were Hispanic or Hispanic-centric or black-centric storefronts or Asian-centric storefronts. In a sense, they came from a corporate environment where they’re like, hey, we’re going to identify these neighborhood as primarily Latino or Hispanic, and we’re going to hire folks that are Latino or Hispanic to run these for the same reasons that I stated. In itself, they did create that environment for me to flourish because my mentors, my managers, my supervisors were Latino because they were placed on purpose, right?
So, when we went to recruiting summit or recruiting phases, they’re like, “Do you speak Spanish?” Yes, I speak Spanish. Great, so we have 23rd admission, 29th admission, we have this, this and this for you. At the time, I was like, hey, we’ll give you a job. Looking back, I was like, why wouldn’t you just put me in the financial district? That would have been great because I would have had other contacts. Who knows where that would have turned out, right? Not nonprofit, who knows? Maybe larger nonprofits, I don’t know.
Has to come from a corporate, the top down, but also from the bottom up. It does take me to take advantage of those positions and opportunities because I’ll tell you, I still know folks that are in those banks and/or other banks, doing the same role that they were doing when I left. Some people are just like, I’m doing this as a nine-to-five; and others I feel, like myself, they’re just like, this is cool. I learned, and I’m going to move onto something else.
I traditionally have been in a place for about two to three years because I get bored of doing the same thing, and I just move onto something else. I need to continue to learn from what I’m doing. I think it is a driver from an individual perspective but if the company or the corporation doesn’t have that, at least in the most generic way possible, even having an initiative is something to start with. I think it’s going to be a lot harder for people to progress and grow.
John: Yeah. It’s one of those things too, that when you’re at a big bank like that, your differentiator isn’t, yeah, I know finance really well. You notice that? It’s these other things. No one in business school told you, hey, keep up with the Spanish because it’ll make you stand out. No one ever said that to you ever.
Joel: Because your mom, hit you with the chancla and be like, dude, you better learn your Spanish. You’re going to talk in Spanish, you’re going to read in Spanish, I want to see you studying in Spanish, but you better do that homework in English. I had no choice. You want to play video games? You want go outside? You better finish up that reading right now. I’m like, okay.
Everybody is involved. My progress or my success, whatever I’ve achieved to this point, is not by myself, not even. It was with my family as much as they were Jehovah’s Witness at the time, they still are right now, and as much as they were very, very strict with me at the time, but that brought me up the way that I needed to be brought up. The people that I was able to befriend and impressed enough to help me, the mentors in my life, they helped me get to where I needed to go. It rings true that it’s who you know in business rather than what you’ve actually done most of the time, to get an opportunity to come and to play.
I think people who got me into the cloud accounting space or even the financial space, with Arthur, my co-founder with Contabi, he’s like, “Hey, I like working with you before. Come to Xero, work for me here.” That blossomed me into a new area, in a new industry that I really love to have been in and I continue to be in. There’s definitely that need for everybody to help each other out, and I feel like in our communities, at times, if we see somebody progress or go to the next level, we’re looking up. We’re like, wait, why do they get to go? Come back down here. We’re pulling them down.
John: Pull them down.
Joel: Yeah. Whereas, the community’s just like, good job. Let me keep helping you up. They’re like, yeah, let me help you up back too. Let me bring you up with me.
John: Yeah, I’ll drop down the ladder.
John: We can find out.
Joel: Put some strings out there, let me put some rope so I can help you guys up, which is like, let me talk to my people to see if there are opportunities for you. I feel like that piece of it is what we are trying to build and what I really am focused on with Contabi. How do I create a platform for others to be successful? Believe me, it’s a challenge though, John. The challenge that I’ve seen is it’s really hard for me to not walk that spotlight because that’s how I’ve been raised. So, how do I create a platform where I am not the peacock, just doing my job? That’s been something that I’ve had to learn. How do I make somebody else have a position or an opportunity? How do I give them a chance? It’s not going to affect me. It’s not taking away from me. Rather, I’m helping myself personally grow and helping others develop that generational wealth.
John: Yeah. I remember the first award show that I wrote that was nominated for an Emmy. The host was so funny. Dan Hicks and Hannah Storm were hilarious. It’s like, no, I wrote all of it. I’m just standing in the back. People are raving and talking about how hilarious they were. You’re just like, it’s actually all to me, but they just don’t know it. You’re just like, yeah, check your ego at the door. Those people know that you’re the one that made them look good. You’re the one that pulled them up, and you’re the one that helped them. Hopefully, you’re creating that ripple effect where they’ll help others, and just 10 years from now, you’ll look back on the thousands of people that have been impacted just exponentially because one person touches five, those five touch another five. Before you know it, yeah, everyone’s going to be in a support group because they’re going to be like, “You know Joel too? Oh, man.” No, I’m kidding. It’s super powerful.
Joel: It’s a good problem to have, John, good problem to have.
John: Yeah. All right. That’s how you get them in. I see.
John: Honestly, it’s really powerful, and it’s really cool what you’re doing. It’s really neat.
Joel: It’s really what’s driven me to — again, I immigrated here when I was five years old, so, by no way, means, am I a success right now. I think that drive that your family instills into you — they gave up everything. My dad was doing accounting for the government in Nicaragua when he was there. My mom was in an accounting office as well. Who knew that I was going to go into this field? She was an executive secretary at that point, too. They had some semblance of a good profession out there, and they gave that all up because they felt that coming here would create a better opportunity, in general, for all of us, though we were okay. We weren’t low, low class family.
It’s just one of those things that makes it real for me to understand. I want my kids to be better than me. I want them to have more than me. It’s that struggle as a father. How much is enough? Do I give them everything so that they don’t work hard for it? Or do I have them work for it while I give them things and they don’t know and hide it in some shell account somewhere? It’s been part of the conversation that I’ve had with my kids. I am not very hard on them as much as my parents were because our situation is different.
If I wanted a pair of shoes, for example, I would wait like four months, begging my Dad, can I just get a pair of shoes? I’m not even talking about like cool Uptempos or some Jordans. I never had Jordans, don’t even talk about that. Even $50 pair of shoes, I was like, God, look, I have no sole. Can I get a shoe? Okay, okay, we’ll get you a shoe. Whereas, now, I see, I don’t know, a little scrape on my kid’s shoe, and I’m like, oh, shit, I got to give them a new shoe. I’m such an a-hole. How can I do this to him? Instead of helping him think about it. That’s the mentality that I have to break away. It just lingers there because, to me, it helps me remind myself where I came from and what other people are striving for. I’ve made a certain level, but I need to continue to strive, not just for myself, but for them and for everybody else.
Whatever I teach them, whoever I connect them to or network them to, they’re going to be able to have a better life to begin with than I did. That’s really what guides me, and I hope to continue to create that within the Latino professionals that we’re working with in Contabi so that they understand they’re really great professionals. They probably just need some good contacts, or they need some good resources or just maybe a little bit of more fine tuning on how they communicate their sales tactics or how they build revenue or how they’re running their practices or how to communicate because they’re having a conference. Or they want to have a webinar, and they want sponsors. How do I get them in touch with certain brands and how to put that together in a proposal, things like that, that are things that you learn, that I’ve learned because I just have been to it. Hey, how do you do that? Why did they do that? Could I see that? So that we can have that as a knowledge to impart and I think that wealth is not just financial, it’s definitely intellectual.
John: Yeah. No, that’s great and, yeah, lean into your differentiator. Because a lot of times, we just take it for granted and then we don’t want to — we’re like, yeah, whatever. No, no, lean into that. Double down on that. That’s really great. Do you have any words of encouragement to anyone listening that has a hobby that has nothing to do with their job, they think?
Joel: Just go deep into that hobby, really, really take it in as something that’s going to help you internally and grow as a person because, ultimately, whatever you decide to do, whatever you decide to spend the time that you have on this planet is going to make you a better person, or it’s going to grow you as an individual. That ultimately is going to make you a better professional, no matter what field that you’re in. So, that hobby, that passion that you have for that activity that you’re doing, help yourself reflect that in everything that you do. Just think about the time that you’re doing that activity and how do you harness that and bring that to everything else that you do.
John: Yeah. I love that. That’s so fantastic, so fantastic. So, it’s only fair, before we wrap up though, since I rapid-fire questioned you there at the beginning so rudely, that it’s now the Joel Lacayo Show. I am the first guest. Thank you so much for having me on.
Joel: Awesome. I love this. I’ve got some questions for you.
John: Oh, yeah? Hopefully, they’re in English?
John: Okay. Okay, here we go. Here we go.
Joel: Okay, John. Una pregunta para ti. No. The first question —
John: No. Okay.
Joel: Think of John 15 years ago, maybe John in his early 20s. What’s the one or two things that you would tell John to really focus his attention on or do differently?
John: LinkedIn connect with Joel Lacayo, that would be step one. Learn Spanish so I could actually be a guest on his show. Seriously, what I would say is just get out of your own way. Just get out of your own way. Don’t over-think everything. Done is better than perfect. Really, just get out of your own way, and don’t be so hard on yourself. I’m super, super critical of myself and things that I do, and I want them to be really, really great. It doesn’t have to be. It can be 95% and people will still be like, wow, that was really good. I’ll be like, well. Just don’t be so hard on yourself, and get out of your own way.
Joel: Nice. Favorite Power Ranger.
John: Blue? I don’t even know. What are the — I don’t even know. Is blue one of them? Do they have a name? I don’t know.
Joel: Favorite sport. Don’t say football though.
John: College football, hands down. College football and soccer. I like soccer. I like watching soccer too.
Joel: Do you play football?
John: In sixth grade, one year. I was actually pretty good. I was also on a select soccer team that traveled quite a bit. Yeah, I was much better.
Joel: What was your position?
John: I was a mostly midfield. Yeah, I was the guy with the through ball, assists. I was the assist guy.
Joel: And stamina guy, just go back and forth, back and forth all the time.
John: Pretty much, and the trash talker, and that might get all up in your head.
Joel: One meal on an island that you can have every single day, what would it be?
John: One meal. Ice cream sundaes, I like hot fudge brownie ala mode, sundae with nuts and whipped cream. Or cake, cake’s good too, and also not expensive.
Joel: Next question, Peloton or Mirror.
John: I’m going to go Peloton because I don’t want to look at myself. That’s weird. Yeah, I’ll go Peloton on that one.
Joel: Glad I’ve got a Peloton instead of a Mirror.
John: There we go, man. Well, this has been so much fun, Joel, thanks so much for being a part of What’s Your “And”?
Joel: Thank you, John. I had so much fun. Being able to share my why and being able to help me transition and express and showcase that, my story with everybody, is an awesome blessing. Thank you.
John: Absolutely, man. Everyone, if you want to see some pictures of Joel in action or 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.
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.
Episode 321 – Heather Smith
Heather is an Accountant & World Traveler
Heather Smith talks about her passion for traveling around the world and how it helps her with developing relationships and standing out among the competition!
• Getting into traveling
• Immersing in different cultures
• Why Singapore is her favorite place to visit
• How her traveling has helped her career
• Breaking the stereotype of her competition
• What she has noticed with other company cultures
Please take 2 minutes
to do John’s anonymous survey
about Corporate Culture!
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Welcome to Episode 321 of What’s Your “And”? This is John Garrett. Each Wednesday, I interview a professional who, just like me, is known for a hobby or a passion or an interest outside of work. Put it in another way, it’s encouraging people to find their “And,” those things above and beyond your technical skills, the things that actually differentiates you when you’re at work.
I’m so excited to let everyone know that my book is published. That’s right. It’s out. It’s available on Amazon, Indigo and Bookshop, and a few other websites, so you could 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. The fact that everyone’s buying the book is really, really cool.
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 Smith. She provides education around accounting apps for the accounting community out of Australia, 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: Thank you so much for having me on, John.
John: Yeah, this is going to be so much fun, but I have my rapid fire questions right out of the gate. It’s going to be good to know Heather on a new level. Here we go. I’ll start out easy. First one. Favorite color.
Heather: Favorite color. Pink.
John: Pink, okay. How about a least favorite color?
Heather: Brownie, brownie, gray, brown.
John: Just the way you said it makes me hate it. Yeah, yeah, that’s gross.
Heather: Yeah, I hate it.
John: All right, all right. How about pens or pencils?
John: Oh, okay. Old school. I like that. How about puzzles? Sudoku or crossword?
Heather: Definitely Sudoku. Does anyone like crosswords?
John: I just make up words when I’m on the airplane. How about a favorite Disney character?
Heather: Oh, that’s got to be Princess Leia.
John: There you go. Going Star Wars. Awesome. I love it.
Heather: Absolutely. Amazing lady, strong leader, defeated the Death Star.
John: Right. There you go. That leads into my next one. Star Wars or Star Trek?
Heather: That’s a hard one. But I’ll have to go Star Wars.
John: Okay. All right. All right. How about your computer? More of a PC or a Mac?
Heather: Oh, PC. Definitely.
John: Yeah, me too. Me too. How about a favorite ice cream flavor?
Heather: Rum and raisin.
John: Oh, okay. You don’t get that often.
Heather: Rum and raisin always. You have that in America?
John: Absolutely. Yeah. The rum is always an all caps and then raisin is in little font. No, I’m just kidding.
Heather: Rum and raisin, then peppermint and chocolate chip, then chocolate. But we’re always rum and raisin.
John: Okay, no, I like that. I like that. How about are you more of an early bird or a night owl?
Heather: Unfortunately, both, but I typically get up at 4:00 a.m. I’ll say early bird and typically trying to get to sleep at 8:00 p.m.
Heather: Wow, that’s early. How about do you have a favorite actor or actress?
Heather: Sandra Bullock, who is an amazing actor, love her. Very disciplined, very funny, funny, funny actress and lots of great movies.
John: Yeah, we should get Sandra Bullock to play Princess Leia and one of the new Star Wars movies and then your worlds would combine.
Heather: Yeah, maybe her life. Maybe a biography.
John: Right. There you go. There you go. How about favorite adult beverage?
Heather: Oh, that’s a good one. Prosecco.
John: Prosecco. Okay, there you go. A little sweet.
Heather: What do you call it? A Prosecco Spritzer. That’s what a lot of us drink. Do you understand what I mean by that?
John: It’s like sparkling.
Heather: It’s like champagne with Prosecco in it, which turns it sort of pinky color.
John: There you go. Fancy. I like that. All right. Since you have the accounting background, balance sheet or income statement?
Heather: We don’t call it really an income statement in Australia so I’ll go for the balance sheet.
John: Oh, okay. What do you guys call it down there?
Heather: We call it a profit and loss statement. I think they call it that in the UK as well. I know that because I’ve written a global accounting book. You will all agree on this.
John: No, it’s probably the whole world does except for America, because we do inches as well. So why not? We got five more. More oceans or mountains?
John: Oceans, okay. How about heels or flats?
Heather: Flats, UGG boots, Australian UGG boots. I should highlight that Australian UGG boot, the brand is actually not from Australia. You should seek real UGG boots, not Australia labeled UGG boots. A little controversy there from the UGG boot lovers of the world.
John: Yes. How about a favorite number?
Heather: Oh, I’ll take pi, 3.14.
John: Nice. I love it. I love it. Since my book is out, do you prefer more Kindle or real books?
Heather: Kindle. I think Kindle’s amazing. I think people should have a go at trying Kindle if I haven’t tried it.
John: Especially when traveling because it’s hard to bring volumes of books.
Heather: What I like about it is it tells me what other people who’ve read that book have highlighted. I always like to know what other people’s perspectives of something are. I’m always very curious. It highlights it. I think there’s one section you can go to and go okay, what have people highlighted? You can scan through and see what things have piqued other people’s interest, which is quite interesting.
John: That’s interesting. I need to go do that on my book. They highlighted the whole thing. What? It’s all so amazing. No, no. The last one, last one. Favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own?
Heather: Favorite thing I have, I guess my family? Is that what we’re going for there?
John: Yeah. No, that counts. Yeah, or if you had a cool thing that you were like, if your house caught on fire, you would grab on the way out sort of a thing. But yeah, family counts.
Heather: Family and friends, and I digitized all my photos over Christmas. Everything’s in the clouds. I actually physically live in a wooden house, and so we’re very aware of the house could burn down in 12 minutes. Everything is in the clouds, and we get the family out.
John: Wow. That’s fantastic. Very good. Yeah. Family and friends. Perfect. That’s perfect. Let’s talk traveling and exploring. Is this something that you grew up doing or something that you started later in life?
Heather: Yeah, look, I was quite a fortunate child of immigrant family who traveled back to the UK on a frequent basis, so always had travelled, and look, actually chose accounting because it’s a global international qualification that you can travel with. I have traveled extensively. I’ve lived abroad in what we call sort of an expat status for a decade in Singapore, in Canada, and in the UK.
Once I had my children and sort of did extended sort of stay at home with the children, I then have traveled quite extensively going around the world and traveled through Australia and New Zealand. I call them “workations” in that I might tie up a bit of work at the beginning and a bit of work at the end, and it kind of works out really nicely in that term.
I may well have a tax deductible holiday out of it, but I kind of evolved my practice so I can actually run my practice out of my handbag, and so I can be anywhere. One of the things is Australians typically take a holiday from the 24th of December through to the 27th of January, so they take that holiday, but they typically then take another month somewhere else. I’m kind of — I do run on I take at least two months holiday a year and immerse and that’s the real thing there is immerse yourself in the culture.
I’ve lived in places for three years at a time, but I also go somewhere, I try and stay there as long as I can, just not getting that superficial touch of the city, I’m getting that I know the name of the barista who’s making me the coffee in the morning. I will be very thrifty. I’m very, very thrifty when it comes to these things. We’ll identify all the free things that we can do, be that cycling, be that going to off the beaten track type of things rather than the big theme party things so we can actually extend our time away traveling and meeting the people.
John: That’s awesome. The accountant in you is strong then with the frugal thriftiness there.
Heather: Frugal thriftiness.
John: But yeah, but you’re right. I mean, that’s what normal people do that actually live there. They’re not going to the sightseeing stuff all the time, so you can actually can be part of that culture like you said. Do you have some of the favorite places you’ve been?
Heather: I love Singapore. Singapore has always been my absolute favorite place in the world. In fact, my boyfriend was offered a job in Singapore, I think on the Friday, no, I think on the Tuesday and I asked him to marry me on the Friday, and we were married by the following Tuesday, and then the following Friday, we flew out to Singapore, and we lived there for three years. We really like Singapore.
John: That’s awesome. Your husband, kind of a little bit, but Singapore? Definitely.
Heather: Yeah. 27 years later, I’m still with him, and went back to Singapore last year for the Singapore Asia Finance Conference, which was amazing. Wherever you go, the way people do business and the way people behave is different. It’s always interesting to see how they do that, and then go, okay, well, this method would work if we brought it back here, and why do people work this way? Why do people work that way? That immersion I really like. Singapore is kind of like a really clean place, but you can really immerse yourself in Asian culture.
John: That sounds fantastic. Yeah, Singapore, I’ve never actually been to Asia. I’ve been a lot of other places in the world, including Australia. But yeah, and that’s a long flight from the U.S. That’s like, you got to have to want to go to Australia, to take that flight. I mean, yeah, you’re used to those long flights, I guess.
Heather: You just deal with the long flights. You just get on the plane. You deal with it. Maybe it’s like lockdown. Just deal with it. You just get your mindset ready for a long flight. You have whatever you need to have prepared and deal with it. I’m a super sleeper. I put the mask on, put the face mask on, put the cranes on to make myself sleepy.
John: There you go.
Heather: I’m asleep before we’ve taken off, and I’ll wake as we land.
John: You’re a professional, that’s impressive.
Heather: Professional sleepy, yeah. But I tell my body that sleep is work. I need to be asleep at this time. I need to be functioning at the other end, so I have to sleep. Because I like to travel a lot. Typically, I like to travel a lot. If you travel a lot, then when you have the opportunity, you need to sleep.
John: For sure. I completely agree with you. Do you feel like the traveling, I mean, it sounds like it does impact your work in a way, and that, like you said, you’re able to see how other people work or other people’s processes and things like that. You’re able to pick up some little tips and tricks to apply to your business or to bring back to the accountants that you’re helping as well, so it does help out.
John: Is there another way that it benefits the career?
Heather: For a start, I don’t do compliance, I don’t do tax. My clients can be anywhere in the world. I’d lost count. I had connected with clients on 135 countries. If you feel that you’re competing with the guy down the road, I’m not competing with anyone because the small business base is phenomenally huge. If you focus on actually, okay, I’m going to serve these people globally, you actually have a massive base that you can actually service. That’s really quite exciting, especially when you do get to travel to the places and actually visit them and see what they’re doing.
I don’t do the tech side of it, but what I do is help them with the management reporting side of it. That level of understanding is in all businesses and getting them to that place, so they still need a tax advisor, of course, but many tax advisors don’t get into that aspect. I get the opportunity to meet people and lots and lots of different cultures.
I do, as well as for profit, as well as clients who are paying me, I will try and volunteer and do pro bono work for people who can’t afford it, because I know that I can really impact what they’re doing in their sort of smaller countries, or in their not for profit businesses, et cetera. I can bring that back and sort of help people in a mass way through the education. I try and push out there again.
John: Yeah, no, that’s fantastic. That’s really fantastic. Is talking about travel is something that comes up with I’m sure with all these clients, because I mean, you’re visiting them, but then for colleagues or even before you had this early on in your career, when you would have coworkers and what have you?
Heather: It does come up. I think that I’m sort of constantly breaking the stereotype of competition in my backyard, my thoughts in my own tea cup. I’m constantly, probably more with other accountants around me. It’s like, why do you think we’re competitors? We’re not competitors. The clients aren’t in the same street as me. My clients are global. Probably the conversations come up with other accountants and me talking, this is the opportunities out there, this the lifestyle opportunities out there and broaden your horizon if you want to.
If you want to be a local accountant, that’s fine. If you want to only serve people that you can actually walk to in your street, right. That is fantastic. But there is an opportunity beyond that that you can service.
John: Yeah, the alternatives are out there. That’s for sure.
Heather: The opportunities are out there.
John: Yeah, sorry.
Heather: That’s all right. Don’t apologize. We’ll do a crossword puzzle together.
John: Yeah, right. That’s hilarious. But I love that phrase, the Australian phrase, thoughts in the tea cup. For Americans, that’s kind of like in your own bubble, where you’re in like an echo chamber where you only hear people that think the same thing that you do. It’s not broadening your horizons.
Heather: I think that it’s very concerning for people, especially if they only listen to a certain bubble or echo chamber of people. If they only read from certain sets of publications, I find that very restrictive of them. It can be shocking to meet people like that. It’s like, one of the things I’m also advocating, if you want to read good journalism, you need to be paying for it. You can’t expect a free publication to be providing you with unbiased information.
John: Or somebody’s blog that’s got like you know .org/net/, it’s like, that’s a blog. What are you doing?
Heather: Yeah, yeah. Fact check, fact check.
John: That’s for sure. That’s for sure. In all the cultures that you see and from traveling so much, how much do you feel like it’s on an organization to create this culture where sharing outside of work interests is a part of the way we do business, or how much is it on an individual to just create that circle amongst their peers?
Heather: For me, it’s about a lifestyle that I want to lead. That is for me. I went and did that, but what’s now interesting is now a lot of people are asking me to explain it back to them. Honestly, I know that I do get invited into these grand, tall, towered buildings, and I’m developing hives from the moment I walk into the elevator going off. Oh, my god. That freaks me out.
John: Your ears pop.
Heather: Yeah, and I’ll give a talk. Someone will come up to me, he’s 45 years old, and will say, that is the most I’ve ever learned in ten years in the one-hour talk that you gave about that. I’m just so blown away. Where have I been? What have I been doing? While on one side, that is wonderful, on the other side, it’s where have you been? What teacup have you been sitting in? That has meant that that has happened, because those businesses are promoting themselves as innovative and as modern and as leading and cutting edge. I think what it is is the smaller micro firms, such as myself are the windsurfers, and we can be quite more agile. We don’t have to make decisions based on a board.
Whereas the bigger firms are like a big, big sort of cruise liner. Every time they want to make a decision, everyone has to agree and that there’s a sort of a very slow, slow movement there.
John: Everybody move to the left side, and then we can — yeah, that is nutty. I always wondered just how much does tone at the top matter, or if the tone at the top isn’t necessarily super positive, can you still within your own little circle share?
Heather: I think that the tone at the top does matter. It needs to filter through.
John: That’s for sure. Have you seen companies or firms in your in your travels or in your career that do encourage this finding out about other dimensions to people?
Heather: I think probably in the firms in Australia, they probably do lean into that quite a lot more. They’ll have activated water cooler sessions to do that. Plus, they’ll encourage people to do outside activities, like participate in sport games or participate in various activities like that, so yeah, I do see that happening.
John: No, that’s great. It’s typically an outside of the office thing for whatever reason.
Heather: For water cooler. Yeah, so I guess facilitated breakout rooms, I see a lot of organizations with a billiards table or a pool table, with reading area, breakout, chairs, so you have the opportunity to potentially meet other people casually or accidentally. The cafeteria, it seems to be like a small kitchenette cafeteria area always seems to be set up and nicely stocked in many of these places as well.
John: Yeah, yeah. No, that’s fantastic. That’s fantastic. Do you have any words of encouragement to anyone listening that has a hobby or passion that they feel like has absolutely nothing to do with their job?
Heather: Well, I would encourage you to lean into it as much as possible and find out as much as you want about that hobby. Maybe you have the opportunity to introduce it back into your firm through maybe a newsletter or maybe a stand up session to talk to them about it, a breakout session to introduce it to them, or educate them about what your hobby is, or maybe invite them as an activity to participate in it depending on what it is. Maybe if it’s terrarium or gardening, you could get them all to make a terrarium together.
John: Yeah, it’s something that’s that simple, and they can see you light up that much. That’s awesome. Well, thanks, Heather. It’s only fair before I wrap this up that we turn the tables, if you’d like to rapid fire question me since I so rudely started out the show peppering you with questions. It’s now the Heather Smith Show. If you have any questions at all, I’m all yours.
Heather: What’s your favorite color John?
John: Favorite color, blue.
Heather: What people can’t see is your blue eyes match the blue painting behind you, which is quite mesmerizing.
John: Oh, well, thank you. Yes. Real eyes. Those are my real eyes. Yeah.
Heather: What’s your favorite movie?
John: Favorite movie? It’s hard to go away from Dumb and Dumber. It’s just hard to go away from that. It really is. I know it’s much to the chagrin of everyone listening but it’s so silly dumb, but so brilliantly written that it’s hard to get away from.
Heather: I love one of the actors in it. The non-Jim Carrey actor.
John: Jeff Daniels?
Heather: Yes. I love Jeff Daniels.
John: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, he’s fantastic. He’s an amazing actor.
Heather: Fantastic in Newsroom. If someone comes to your city, what bar should they go to?
John: Oh, so there’s a restaurant right downtown called D bar for dessert bar in Denver, right downtown. They have the most amazing desserts, as well as drinks. It’s a super cool place, really good food as well. So yeah, D bar’s my favorite, mostly because I can get the desserts also. If there’s Nutella involved, I am there. That’s awesome. Well, thanks so much, Heather, for taking time to view with me on What’s Your “And”?
Heather: Thank you so much, John. It’s been a real pleasure.
John: Awesome, and everybody listening, if you want to see some pictures of Heather’s travels, or maybe connected with her 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 and 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.
Episode 318 – Clayton Oates
Clayton is an Accounting Technologist & Gardener
Clayton Oates returns to the podcast to talk about how he is satisfying his travel bug through the pandemic, his gardening, helping small businesses, and taking time for yourself!
• Places he visited in the last couple of years
• Traveling locally
• Getting into gardening
• Becoming more aware of other people’s hobbies
• Shifting focus towards helping small businesses
• Finding an And for retirement
• Taking time to be still with your own thoughts
Please take 2 minutes
to do John’s anonymous survey
about Corporate Culture!
- Read Full TranscriptOpen or Close
Welcome to Episode 318 of What’s Your “And”? Follow-Up Friday Edition. This is John Garrett. 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’ve impacted them since we last talked.
I’m so excited to let everyone know that my book is out. You can order it on Amazon, Booktopia, IndiGo, barnesandnoble.com, and a few other websites, so check out whatsyourand.com for more. Thank you so much to everyone who’s read it so far and been kind enough to leave those Amazon reviews. It’s just so overwhelming to read those. Thank you so, so much for that.
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. This Follow-Up Friday is no different with my guest, Clayton Oates. He’s the founder of QA Business in Australia. Now, he’s with me here today. Clayton, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Clayton: Good day, John. Mate, it’s awesome being here. It’s always fantastic catching up with you, mate. So yeah, thanks for inviting us back.
John: Oh, for sure. Absolutely. You were in the book, you were part of the book launch team. I just appreciate you being a friend for so many years and being a part of this, so that really means a lot.
Clayton: Oh, mate. My pleasure. And yeah, just being a part of this project with you is awesome, the way you sort of brought people together and sort of it brought their stories to life and actually so that others can actually experience and share and learn from what we’re all sort of doing outside of our professionalism and keeping it weird as you’d say, so that’s fantastic.
John: Right? I mean, for you and me, it was already weird, so it doesn’t matter. We got this. But I have seven rapid fire questions to ask you here really quick, things I’ve never asked you before and I probably should’ve before we hung out the first time now that I think about it, but here we go. All right. If you had to choose, Harry Potter or Game of Thrones?
Clayton: Oh, I’ll go Harry Potter, mate.
John: Okay. All right. How about a favorite band or musician?
Clayton: I’ve been listening to a bit of Journey lately. So yeah, I’ll go Journey right now.
John: Yeah, writing a book was definitely a journey as well. How about this? A tricky one. Brownie or ice cream?
Clayton: Brownie with ice cream?
John: Oh, okay. I see. That’s actually the right answer. That was a trick. That is the right answer. Combo. How about a least favorite vegetable?
Clayton: I would have to say — is cucumber — is that a vegetable or fruit?
John: Yeah, cucumber. It counts. I’ll take it
Clayton: Yeah, I can’t stand it if. It’s been anywhere near a salad or anything I’m about eat, for some reason, I am so allergic to cucumbers.
John: Okay, how about pickles? Do you do the pickles or –?
Clayton: No. Nothing. They’re in the same family, I believe.
John: No, it’s actually pickles or cucumbers that are just pickled. But yeah, some people are — one’s behind but not the other. I think that’s funny to me.
Clayton: Can we hang up now? I think I’ve just learned something.
John: Right. It’s almost like you read my book. You’re like, oops, my brain hurts. How about Kindle or real books?
Clayton: Real books. I’ve got a stack of them. But I’ve also — using Audible quite a bit as well.
John: Oh, audio. Okay, nice. Yeah, mine will be probably in about six months or so. For everybody listening, that’s like, “We like his voice. It sounds like Super Dave Osborne.” Well, there you go. All right. Here we go. Chocolate or vanilla?
Clayton: Chocolate. I am an absolute chocolate addict. It’d be chocolate.
John: There you go. This is an important one. Toilet paper roll. Over or under?
Clayton: Just on the side, actually. Have you seen those?
John: Right. Where they’re sitting up.
Clayton: I haven’t taken a lot of notice. I do know that you’re talking about this recently, and I think over because that’s the way my wife makes the house work.
John: Yeah. That’s the right answer also.
Clayton: I dare not change that.
John: Yeah, dare not change that. That’s awesome, man. Well, you were Episode 160 which is just awesome to have you back. We were talking world travel and how you grew up not really traveling even for a long time, and then all of the sudden in the last like 10, 12 years just going through passports because they’re filling up. Since we talked, are you still doing some travel? I know you were because we hung out in Denver, which was super fun.
Clayton: Yeah, in February. Well, actually my passport expired in April. I haven’t renewed it yet, because who knows what their passport’s going to actually look like post-COVID. It filled up, John. I sort of went back and counted the trips and 32 trips in ten years. It’s just been incredible from none before that. I’ve had this burst of 32 in ten, and then obviously, the last six months or so, you know, none. I’m still passionate about that, and that’ll come again at some later stage, but right at the moment, yeah, that passion is on hold. It’s in hibernation right at the moment.
John: Exactly. It’ll happen again, for sure. It was just so fun having you in Denver. I mean, you messaged me, and you’re like, “Hey, I might be coming to Denver.” I’m like, “When?” You’re like, “Tomorrow.” I’m like, “You live in Australia.” Like what? You had already been in the U.S., you just grabbed a flight to Denver, which was super cool, and we got to hang out. That was awesome. It was your first time here, yeah?
Clayton: It was, and I absolutely loved it. There’s a lot of other people that listen to this podcast, and they’ll go, yes, he’s done exactly the same thing to me. Look, if you’ve traveled and you’ve gone somewhere, and you know you’re in the area or in the vicinity of someone that you know, why not take that little extra step to just reach out to them? Well, a lot of times, especially corporate travel and so forth, we tend to sort of in and out, you know, I’m there for this purpose and, “Hey, I’ll catch up with you next time,” or maybe you don’t even message them.
But what an amazing ability to be able to go part way around the world, know that someone that you know lives nearby, even if it’s a flight, in that case, and just say, “Hey, I’ve been thinking I’m coming there, how about we catch up?” The fact that you just said, yeah, let’s do this. I think that’s just a real special part about being able to travel.
John: Yeah, for sure, because then you get to hang out in person, and you get to see the city, you get to feel it and smell it and touch it and all that. It’s just so much more fun. Then I can give you a gentle hug as opposed to the big pick you up bear hug that I gave you in Boston that we still talk about. I cracked a rib.
Clayton: It was worth it.
John: Lawsuit pending. Hopefully, there’s statute of limitations in Australia.
Clayton: I think we’re good.
John: Okay, good, because then I can visit and not get arrested.
John: But no, that’s so awesome. Were there other places that you visited in the last couple years since we talked?
Clayton: Yeah, U.S. a couple of times. Bora Bora was one in the South Pacific, which was sort of this, I’d like to thank Expensify for that, actually, they were the guys that brought a heap of us together over there. That was an absolute bucket list, dream come true moment. But probably since COVID, really, I’m still traveling a little bit around our local area, being in your own backyard, in our state, for example. We’re pretty much locked down here at the moment between states. So yeah, sort of discovering just the road trips, and being able to visit places in your own area is — it’s calming, actually, it’s sort of this, you’re bringing a little bit more sort of order and stillness to your life.
I haven’t necessarily missed the international travel. I do love it. I’m really looking forward to when it happens again. I love 14 hours on an airplane by myself, which is fantastic, because it’s just this totally selfish sort of me time, which is if you go for 20 hours, I’m totally happy with that. I’ve learned to like it and really enjoy it. But yeah, at the moment, jump in the car, go and explore some areas, have weekenders away in our local area with the family, so it’s been great.
John: Yeah, that’s really cool, man. Really cool. Also, some gardening as well. I see it on your social media anyway, and some other hobbies that you’re picking up since travel’s not as much.
Clayton: Yeah, I mean, we’ve got a few acres here, we’re so fortunate to have a bit of space around us, especially at this time, so I feel incredibly blessed about that. But we’re in a sort of sub-tropical area where everything grows. In fact, it’s raining outside at the moment. I’m here in shorts and T-shirts, so sort of subtropical, rich, red volcanic soil, so everything just jumps out of the ground.
I think for me, you know, the gardening side, it sort of was born out of necessity to maintain the space. But interestingly, I’ve sort of found that sitting on a ride on lawn mower, mowing a few acres of land, it takes it to a Zen state. And I think there’s only a couple of other, you know, moments in your life when you’re in that sort of creative Zen state. I think there’s only a couple of other moments in your life when you’re in that sort of creative Zen state. It’s like you’re doing something, but you’re also nice and relaxed, and then you’re able to think and think creatively.
I found that also, in taking long drives on country roads, which probably isn’t a great thing. You should be concentrating, you’re driving.
John: No one else is coming the other way, so you’re fine.
Clayton: I say also, maybe having a shower, your thoughts pop into your head in that state, and maybe sit in the bathroom. It’s like, well, I should take a notepad. Well, most people take their phones these days, so you can easily take notes.
John: Yeah, and it’s just cool to hear like, there’s a finished result at the end.
Clayton: Yeah, love that.
John: It’s an immediate result of boom, there it is. I did that.
Clayton: It might be a guy thing perhaps, but I’ve got a lot of hedges and I’ve got this petrol hedge trimmer and some of these are now 15 feet high, actually. Here I am on these trestles, and, oh, they’re going to go a bit higher, trestle on a trestle, not a good look, that’s for sure.
I’m in the office here now I’m looking around and I can see these hedges and look, the accountant brain in me, I fest up to my OCD, that’s for sure. They’re all nicely lined up, they’re at the right height, and they look fantastic. What I need now is just some sort of hedge growth retardant that actually sits them at that level. I think the British comedy guys, The Goodies were trying to introduce something like that in the ‘70s, so anyone that can come up with that, I think it might be these days, plastic, but if that could be done, oh, wow. I’d be a very happy guy.
John: That would be amazing, yeah, because I mean, two days later, something’s going to pop up. You’re like, I got to get it, because you can’t just have one.
Clayton: It’s a bit like your inbox isn’t? It’s like, I think I’m inbox zero. Hang on. Here’s another one. I’m inbox 11,000. I don’t really care about that.
John: I’m way up there as well. I have a friend of mine that tried to brag about his inbox zero. I’m like, well, how do you — he’s like, well, I have a folder that is things that I’ll get to, but that’s just your inbox.
Clayton: That’s cheating.
John: That’s cheating. It’s totally cheating.
Clayton: I think we need a serious audit on these guys that call this. But yeah, that gardening thing has been great. I think you just refer back to that, you know, the ancient Roman, Cicero, I think talked about this, what you need is a great library and a great garden for sort of peace of mind. The library site is, you know, probably reading and gardening I think my go-to things since sort of the COVID happened, and since the international travel has been put ice at the moment.
John: That’s awesome, man. That’s so cool to hear. Do you feel like people are sharing their hobbies and passions more, or maybe you’re more aware of it?
Clayton: I think I’m more conscious of actually exploring what other people are doing in that space. I mean, your book actually talks about what these guys are doing outside of their work, and probably our conversation has triggered that curiosity in me for sure. I probably wouldn’t have thought about it much if we didn’t speak about it, and you didn’t actually bring attention. Particularly at the moment, you sense that people have gone from one of two directions, they’ve either gone all work or all sort of not chilled out, but all sort of concerned about the future.
They’ve probably forgotten a little bit, and I had. I certainly had. I sort of took a while to find Santa in this new world that we’re finding ourselves at the moment. Whilst work, you know, for me too, I also did find myself back into my work a bit as well, more the roots just to where I’ve come from, and actually helping small business. I lost touch with that a little bit, and learned to teach. I think there’s been so many changes in the last number of months around the world with government support programs, and how to help small business and the money side of things, and the compliance. I decided to learn a lot of that in Australia, Australian conditions, and teach it.
I’ve run a lot of webinars, a lot of the free informational webinars for small business. It’s turned out that there’s a reach, our database, if you like, or our business reach has doubled in the last six months, and it took just 25 years to get to the first part. Then in six months, the reach was doubled, because we’ve focused really on helping other people try and navigate their way through this situation that we’re finding ourselves in.
A lot of professionals have that opportunity, you know, because the stuff that we sort of take for granted, or maybe we found a little hard to learn, why not teach it, and actually share it with others in a way that’s simple, and that others can then relate to it because there is a lot of concern, there’s a lot of anxiety, there’s a lot of pressure and stress out there. What can we do to actually relieve that pressure cooker situation? That’s been incredibly fulfilling for me, and partnering with others doing that.
John: Yeah, no, that’s really cool. At some point, you get out of the fire, if you will, and then let’s create that relationship as two humans on what is your “and?” What do you like to do? Who are you as a person, because then you could actually serve them for real, as opposed to just giving them financials and a bank statement that’s balanced or something.
Clayton: Oh, absolutely. It’s so relevant to you know, my business world has been accounting, bookkeeping, consulting and technology companies. Taking the moment to sort of find out when you’re working with a small business owner and operator, why are you doing this? Instead of maybe that straight up question, talk about their “And,” because it’s probably an easy way to have a conversation, what do you do outside of work? What do you enjoy doing? What would you wish you could do more of? Suddenly you then can help connect some dots to actually help them or enable them to achieve more of that.
We don’t get up in the morning and go great, I get to go to work today and I get to sort of you know, a timesheet or whatever. No. We’re doing it because we want this. It’s sort of a pathway to get through to get to something else. But the reality is if we can combine both and keep both happening at the same time, and then you’ve got your “And” all the way through anyway.
John: Right, and it’s an “And,” it’s not an “Or.” You can do both, and you should have these other dimensions to who you are.
Clayton: I mean, imagine working your whole life and you get to the R word, which I don’t like to talk about, of the end of your working career, and then you’ve got to find an “And.” That’s sort of a 50-50 hit and miss. Oh, my gosh, if I do or I don’t, It’ll be all over pretty quickly. There’s a great book that I’ve just finished reading called the Second Mountain. David Brooks wrote it. Hugh Jackman actually recommended off the back of a podcast I was listening to.
It talks about the first mountain that we tend to all climb is sort of this achievement, goal- orientated, work-related, I get to my pinnacle of my career, maybe achieve business success, it could be financial freedom, whatever that is. But then there’s a valley pretty much after that, and then there’s this second mountain. A lot of people maybe don’t even get to experience the value until end of working life.
Getting to experience that earlier on, if you’re having a valley at the moment. That’s okay. This is normal, because then there’s another mountain, and it’s not the same mountain as the first one. It is different. This might be around fulfilment or purpose, more purpose, and so helping others, so forth. You hear people talk about this all the time. You think, why would they be talking about that? Because they’ve gone through this first mountain achievement, deep valley, aha moment. There is another mountain.
John: There’s another mountain. Just keep going. Yeah, I love that man. Well, there goes my second book idea. I’m going to write the third mountain. That’s what I’m going to write, it’s going to be — what’s that mountain? I don’t know.
Clayton: It’s a range.
John: It’s the one when you turn at the wrong sign. Somebody switched the sign up, then you go the wrong way, so you miss the second one. But that sounds awesome, man. That’s exactly what it is, and then talking to people with the consultancy that I’ve done and stuff is a lot of people like, I’m going to go retire and I don’t know what I’m going to go do or you have these “Ands” along the way, because it makes work better, but it also makes retirement better too.
Clayton: Oh, absolutely. Taking the time to sort of be still, you know, pause and reflect. I’ve read so many books. I’m an avid reader anyway. But this time has given me more time to actually read. Stillness is the Key, Ryan Holiday. Any Ryan Holiday book is awesome. Also, James Clear, Atomic Habits is a great book. But the Stillness is the Key, you know, sort of the stoic philosophy or most around just taking time out to be still in your own thoughts, is something that we tend to run from or we’re not geared to do, particularly in the corporate world. It takes discipline, and discipline will give you freedom, basically.
To be still in your own thoughts, to take time to do that, whether it’s just getting up half an hour earlier in the morning, and there’s a lot of people who meditate, some people just start reading, or just pin thoughts, journaling, for example. I think, as a society or humanity, we’re starting to sort of shift more to that sort of direction, even though our mainstream media might not be portraying that, I think there’s a groundswell of the masses that are getting this.
John: No, that’s awesome to hear, man. That’s so awesome. This has been so much fun catching up with you, and man, now I’m learning like, holy cow, man. This is awesome. Now I have books to check out too. This has been great. Do you have any words of encouragement to anyone listening that maybe thinks no one cares about my hobby, or it has nothing to do with my career?
Clayton: It probably doesn’t even matter whether someone cares or not. It’s what you think, and what’s going on in the conversation between your ears. Just pause and reflect. If you don’t have something, no one’s going to check up on you. No one’s going to sort of say, “Hey, you need to have this, you should do this.” They’ll just get benefits from having things outside of there’s one dimension of life, and probably looking and prioritizing too, you know, I think, talking about this COVID time, it’s like, what are our priorities? More perhaps going back to our family, friends connection with others, personal development perhaps, and getting in touch with ourselves more. I know, it sounds like airy-fairy off with the pixies, and I do live in sort of an alternative part of the country.
John: Right. No, but you’re right. I mean it’s for sure. It’s what matters. I think that this really threw on the parking brake, as we’re going down the interstate at 90 miles an hour or whatever, to what really matters, and who are you as a person, because worker B is not who you are, you’re more than that. Really getting to realize that, and understanding that the work will get done, and there’s always more work to get done.
John: I think just having blind faith. Things will work out. They will work out and whatever that work out is, it is. I know this is hard to fathom when you’re writing amongst a crisis, or either self sort of inflicted or existential crisis of some sort that’s out of your control perceivably, but things will work out. I’ve got a timeline and just remove our expectations around anything other than that. It’s sort of frees up, sort of clears some blockages perhaps along the way that we might be holding ourselves back.
John: Very true. That’s awesome, man. Well, it’s only fair that before I wrap this up that I allow you to question me since I started out the episode peppering you with questions. This is now the Clayton Oates podcast. I’m your first guest. Thanks so much for having me on, man.
Clayton: Well, welcome, John. I really should’ve prepared. Well, I suppose one thing to ask you is — and referencing probably to the COVID time right now, we’ll get through that pretty quickly, is what’s changed in your world in the last six months?
John: Everything. I mean, yeah, I would be on airplanes flying to conferences, speaking on stages in front of live audiences. Now, you know, not so much, or not at all really. Some virtual things. I’ve also found that with my comedy background as a professional comedian for years and Emmy nominations and things that people want that. They want a distraction, they want some funny they want just, hey, our people are really buried right now. Can you just give them some relief? Sort of a thing.
I’m also finding that the What’s Your “And”? message applies even more now to this where people before were a little bit skeptical or whatever, now they see, “Oh, wow. Yeah.” Because I didn’t actually have a real relationship with the people I worked with. I passed them in the hallway, “Hey, how are you?” “I’m fine, you’re fine.” Okay. But now that we’re virtual, we’ve been in each other’s homes, we’ve seen the art on the walls, or the kids yelling, or the dogs barking. I don’t have anything to talk to you about, because I don’t really know who you are as a person. It’s really just getting cultures to be built around people’s outside-of-work interests. I think the need is even more now.
Clayton: Wasn’t a question I had written down or anything was, what is your “And,” and how has it changed?
John: That’s a great question. My end is definitely college football, and ice cream. They’re still making ice cream, so we’re good on that. They almost didn’t have college football, but they’re having it, especially Notre Dame is playing. That’s my school. I’m excited. They have their games already, and so yeah, I’m just excited for the season and see what happens. About two-thirds of the schools are playing, and then about a third or half aren’t. I know that that doesn’t add up to one, everybody listening, but that’s why I’m not in accounting anymore. There you go.
Clayton: Look, another thing I’d need to sort of touch on is your book. I loved it. It’s fantastic. It’s a great read. I commend you on putting pen to paper there. What have you learned through the book writing experience? I know there’s a lot of people out there that are probably thinking, I’ve got a book in me. I know, this could be a podcast in itself, or a whole series of it. But you know, someone’s thinking, I’ve toyed with the idea, maybe they’ve lost a bit of confidence, perhaps they thought their story isn’t worth telling, or they just feel as though they’ve put it on the shelf. What would you say to someone that’s thinking, I’ve got it in me, or I had it in me, can I reignite it?
John: Yeah, well, first of all, thank you so, so much for those kind words, because when I’m on stage speaking, I can adjust on the fly, and make things happen for that audience that I’m in front of in the moment. But on a book, I’m not sitting there with you as you read it to be like, oh, wait. Skip the next five pages, you’re not going to like that part type of thing. That’s what was really hard was just writing it that way to make it approachable for everyone.
I guess for me, I wrote the book, because as a speaker, a lot of people don’t really give you credit for coming up with your own ideas or your own concepts or your own philosophy. I wanted to have the book to be like, no, no, here it is. This is the Bible of sorts of here’s my stuff. Read it. That’s what I talk about is my thing. I’m not giving a book report of what other people wrote in their books, they can speak on that, because that’s stealing if you talk about their stuff.
You really got to want to write it. I mean, it’s hard. It’s a journey. Everything gets thrown in your way from the universe to stop you from writing this. There’s a great book called The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. It’s for creatives. But I love that book. I kind of look at my book as the war of art for professionals. It’s just a no nonsense, just micro chapters, here it is, boom. In that book, it just talks about how there’s going to be just obstacles nonstop if you’re actually creating this really great thing that should be out in the world.
You just have to believe in yourself, and then just write a little bit every day. It’s a momentum thing. Don’t even give yourself a word count, just write. Some days, I would write one chapter and be like, all right, that’s it. That’s all I got. Then other days, I would just be firing away, just like I’m in the zone and whatever, but you have to sit down and write every day. It’s also write twice as many words and then it edits down. It’s like cooking spinach maybe, where you start out with a big heaping pile of it, and then by the time that it’s in the pan for ten minutes, it’s all of a sudden, where’d it all go? It’s all just wilted down. Just write and write and write and write. Also, there’s so many books. Why is yours different? And lean into that.
Clayton: I love that message that. One word you sort of touched on, there was the authenticity, it’s authentically you. I suppose for anyone listening, whatever you put down, it’s going to be you in there. There’s a methodology and a process and all of that, that sort of fits around the creation of something like this. But the fact that this is probably why there are so many books, there’s so many people and so many stories to be told, and someone is going to benefit from hearing your story.
John: Exactly. Yours isn’t going to be the worst one, trust me. I’ve seen some terrible books. Write it and then, but know why you’re writing it and to become a famous author is not the answer. It’s because I have this story, and I need to get it out there. Okay, great. Jeannie Ruesch, who I had on the podcast, who’s a fiction writer —
Clayton: She’s awesome.
John: And she’s awesome. She told me the greatest advice is once you’ve written it, your work is done. It’s on the readers now. It’s on you guys. If you like it, awesome. Thank you so, so much. If you don’t like it, also awesome, because I still wrote the book that I wanted to write. You just have to be confident in that. So yeah, no, that’s awesome. Well, your book’s coming soon, Clayton. You know what that means. There we go.
Well, it’s been so much fun catching up with you. I really appreciate you being a part of What’s Your “And”? for sure.
Clayton: Thanks, mate. It’s absolutely awesome always catching up with you, so I look forward to seeing you in person soon enough.
John: Everybody listening, if you want to see some pictures of Clayton in action, or maybe connect with him on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. While you’re there, order the book. Clayton says it’s good. While you’re on the page, please click this big button and 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.
Episode 304 – Trent Mclaren
Trent is a Strategic Partnerships Manager & Latte Connoisseur
Trent returns to the podcast from episode #90 to talk about how he has been dealing with not being able to travel recently, why Australian coffee is the best in the world, and how his passion for lattes and coffee help establish relationships in the office!
• Dealing with the lock down
• Best countries in the world to get coffee
• “Hipsters Who Drink Coffee” office Slack channel
• Establishing relationships through his love of coffee
Please take 2 minutes
to do John’s anonymous survey
about Corporate Culture!
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Welcome to Episode 304 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 being published next month, and you can pre-order in just a few weeks on Amazon, Indigo, a few other websites, so check out whatsyourand.com for all the details, or sign up for my exclusive list, and I’ll let you know when that pre-order’s happening or when it’s being published.
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 Follow-Up Friday is no different with my guest, Trent McLaren. He’s the Senior Partnerships Manager for Europe, Middle East and Africa Region at Practice Ignition, now based in London, and he’s with me here today. Trent, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Trent: John, my friend, it’s so great to see you again.
John: Definitely, man. You know that we do the rapid-fire questions right out of the gate now. These are questions I probably should have asked you before we hung out, a couple of years ago, in San Jose at QuickBooks Connect and went to that weird diner at random hours. Anyway, here we go. If you had to choose, Harry Potter or Game of Thrones.
Trent: Harry Potter. You can’t beat the classic. I actually went to the cafe that she wrote the book in, when I was in Edinburgh in New Year’s Eve. It’s called The Elephant Cafe or something like that. I’ll probably get it wrong now. That was the cafe that JK Rowling went and wrote the entire series, out of that cafe.
John: Holy cow! That’s awesome, man. Very cool. Okay, so then going onto books, are you more Kindle or real books?
Trent: Real books because you’ve got to feel the knowledge, not just see the knowledge. You’ve got to feel the knowledge.
John: There you go. You know what? I think I need that blurb for my book cover.
Trent: Don’t buy it on Kindle. Buy both.
John: Buy both. You’re my new sales manager. I like this. How about a favorite sports team?
Trent: The Brooklyn Nets.
John: All right, just making sure you didn’t switch.
Trent: That’s very likely that that could happen to someone, not me, but someone.
John: Right, right. Okay, okay. How about a good hamburger or good pizza?
Trent: Well, hamburger, yeah, cheeseburger, to be specific.
John: Cheeseburger, okay, next level, okay, with bacon on top, if you want. Okay, all right. This is an easy one, suit and tie or jeans and a t-shirt.
Trent: Jeans and a t-shirt every day of the week. Even when I have to wear a suit and tie, I’m still wearing jeans and a t-shirt.
John: I should have made the question, regular jeans or ripped jeans.
Trent: Definitely ripped jeans. Why would you not want to wear ripped jeans whenever you please?
John: Right, right. It’s free air conditioning.
Trent: That’s what I was about to say. It’s free flowing. Things are wonderful.
John: There you go. Okay, two more. Do you have a favorite Disney character?
Trent: Does Marvel count as a Disney character these days?
John: Yeah, I’ll count it, whatever. Sure.
Trent: Let’s just go with Iron Man, I guess.
John: Yes, very solid answer.
Trent: He’s got a good moustache.
John: Oh, yeah, he’s got a good moustache, almost as good as yours. You’ll get there, man. You’re getting there. The last one, toilet paper roll, over or under.
Trent: Under, definitely under. I had to think through that. I was like thinking then, yeah.
John: Okay, all right. Interesting. All right, so, Episode 90, wow. You’re a veteran. You’ve been at this.
Trent: You’re making me sound old, John. I’m feeling old while you’re saying that.
John: I had to do the first 89, so that makes me that much older. So, hey, it’s all relative. It’s all relative.
John: We talked hanging out on the beach in Australia, drinking lattes, hanging out with friends, and I know some of those things have changed. Are some still the same?
Trent: Yeah, mostly still the same. I still do a lot of lattes. I think we were saying before, I’ll go on any kind of adventure to get a barista-made coffee into my lips, down my throat. I’ll travel far and wide for that thing, still very, very passionate about consuming lattes.
John: Right. I guess, the last couple of months, not being able to go outside as much or whatever, or maybe you get that Harry Potter cloak, and you’re invisible. I don’t know.
Trent: Yeah, so I had to go on lockdown. I spent the first 10 weeks, cold turkey. I couldn’t actually drink anything, and that was horrible for my sanity. As soon as we started opening back up, I was like, cool. I’m beelining — I’m checking where they’re open. I love a good, independent barista. I can’t go to any chain stores because it’s not the same. It’s disgusting. Yeah, now, I’m, like I said, far and wide, I’ll — there ain’t no river wide enough, mountain high enough. Yeah, that was written about me getting espresso.
John: That’s awesome. What is it about the barista-made versus a homemade version?
Trent: I think you can taste the love, the sweat out of the barista, into every pour. No, I don’t know. There’s a blend of the correct waiting. It’s been brewed for the right amount of time. It’s roasted for the right amount of time. It’s all single origin so just tastes a lot better than your mixed to your other bean. Then there’s that blend of the milk froth with the right temperature into a cup and, yeah, I don’t know. I’m going to have to get one after this, I think, just talking about it.
John: Right. It’s just they know what they’re doing, basically.
John: They do it all the time. It’s just easier. You just do it. There you go.
Trent: Yeah, it’s a classic, I pay you, you — like that, a smooth transaction.
John: Right. Do you find that there’s a difference in London from Australia?
Trent: Oh, 100%, yeah. Australia is like the pinnacle of good coffee.
Trent: South Africa is close second. And then London, generally you find good ones, but they’re made by Australian baristas.
John: Oh, nice. That’s it. I feel like there’s a blog website or something that’s australianbaristasinlondon.com/org or whatever.
Trent: You can simply drink — so, you can walk and you’re like, yeah, this is probably an Australian barista. You’ll know. You’ll taste it. You’ll see it. You can experience it. Yeah, you’ll know.
John: That’s awesome. Very cool, very cool. Is this something that coworkers know about you there in London?
Trent: 100%, yeah. They’re very aware because I get very upset and angry when I can’t drink a coffee. Or they’re like, “Hey, are you okay? Have you had your coffee today? Are you on cold turkey right now?” I love to be in between shots, if you know what I’m saying.
John: Right. That’s funny. Have you met any colleagues that are equally sourced, I guess, if you will?
Trent: Typically, it is always most Australians or New Zealanders that are into it because it’s a two-before-10 kind of situation. I’ll have an espresso when I wake up. I’ll have another one before 10 am. The trouble with London is most coffee shops don’t open until 10. In Australia, all the coffee shops open at 6 am in Australia, so you get this real different dynamic of all these Australians wandering in London at 6:30 am, going, “Where’s the… Where’s the…”
Trent: It just doesn’t exist. So when you do find one, you hold onto it.
John: That’s unbelievable. 10:00, that’s when they’re closing, typically. I mean, it’s like, what?
Trent: Yeah. I would have already spent £6 at this point. That’s the thing. I’m paying more as well. I pay $3, Australian, for coffee. Here, I pay £2.50, which is like five Australian dollars. So, if I’ve got to get coffee for me, coffee for my wife, next thing, I’ve spent £7.50. I’ve nearly spent 15 Australian dollars on two coffee, and it’s still not that good.
John: Right. Maybe Practice Ignition should open a coffee shop in London.
Trent: We have a Slack channel in our group called “Hipsters Who Drink Coffee.” There’s a few connoisseurs like myself, mostly Australians. There are a few Americans and Canadians as well. They’ll post a shot of the cafe they’ve walked into, and they rank it out of 10. They also rank just based on the beanie that the barista is wearing. If the beanie is above the ear, if it’s above the ear, that determines how liberal hipster they are, and therefore add to the quality of the coffee as well.
John: That’s hysterical. That’s so fantastic. It’s so cool that it’s something that you guys gather around. It’s like a rallying item, if you will, to talk not about work. It’s getting to know each other.
Trent: The easiest way to get out of the office. You only go for a walk and have a chat about something. Yeah, let’s go get a coffee. We’ll go get coffee. We’ll walk for 10, 15. You come back to sitting down at your desk for like eight hours straight, I think. You get your coffees made but then, it’s funny, you’re still not going that far. So, it’s like, cool, let’s get outside, get some fresh air, walk and talk, come back in and then get back to whatever we were doing.
John: That’s an excellent point because it just gets you out of your chair, gets you out of that scene, then people can just relax more and be more themselves or whatever. Also, through the Slack channel, you’re able to connect with people that you’re not even seeing, face-to-face.
Trent: Totally, yeah. It’s a great way for us to connect and chat, Australia, America, London. Because London here is locked down a bit more, we had one guy sharing a pre-made iced coffee from the supermarket. He’s like, “I don’t know if I can post this here.” We’re like, “We’re going to have to fix the new guidelines on what’s applicable because this is not appropriate.”
John: It’s like, not only are you not allowed on the Slack channel, but you’re fired. You don’t even have a job now.
Trent: Yeah. I think we’ve contemplated, if you had to scale your love of coffee from one to, don’t bother answering if you don’t like coffee, kind of thing, then let’s just do an interview now because that’s all we’re going to talk about.
John: So funny, and it’s so good to catch up. Do you have any words of encouragement for people listening that have a passion or a hobby that they think has nothing to do with their job?
Trent: It’s tough because I feel like, I’ve said this before, is drinking coffee really a passion, or it’s just a thing that I love to do? I don’t know. I think it’s just being a foodie. I enjoy entertainment. It could be cinemas. It’s friends. It’s relationships. It’s all about building that community or gathering that influence of people, the more you hang out and spend time with them and things like that. So, whether it’s coffee or food or whatever, it’s all about bringing people together and just sharing a level of something. It’s also supporting small businesses, which we can do a lot more, for the moment.
John: That’s true. It’s just getting people together and hanging out, and the more that you hang out, the more that oxytocin, norepinephrine type of brain chemical stuff. All of a sudden, the lows aren’t so low, and they really bring people together.
Trent: Totally. We’re a lot happier as a result.
John: For sure, man. Well, it’s only fair that, since I rapid-fire questioned you out at the beginning, that I allow you to rapid-fire question me back. It’s now the Trent McLaren Show. You’re the host and —
John: — and I’m excited to be your first guest. Thank you for having me on.
Trent: Thanks, John. Welcome, ladies and gentlemen. If this is your first time listening, let me run you through how this works. I’m going to ask John, ten rapid questions. He’s going to answer them. If he gets them all correct, he’ll win a new car. It’s just as simple as that, ladies and gents. John will also be buying the car, but he wins the purpose of being able to buy…
John: It’s a Matchbox car also. It’s a little toy one.
Trent: Yeah, totally. You get to choose. It’s your money.
Trent: So, I’m going to start the first question up, but I’m going to try anyway because I can only think of one. Do you like Starbucks coffee, or do you just hate yourself for — where do you fit in the, I love coffee, the Starbucks coffee?
John: I knew that this was going to come up and, yeah, I’m definitely a hot chocolate guy. I am a seven-year-old on the inside.
Trent: Wow. You don’t drink caffeine?
John: Not so much. I don’t need it. It’s more of a court order where I’m not allowed, I don’t think.
Trent: You’re not allowed within 50 feet of a caffeine-dispensing place.
John: Caffeine-dispensing place, yeah. Here in Colorado, we do have caffeine dispensaries. I missed the coffee train, but hot chocolates, I will have two of those before 10. That’s for sure. I’ll join you in that. With whipped cream and whole milk.
Trent: You have a high sugar intake.
John: Yeah, definitely. I mean, don’t worry about brown teeth when you have no teeth.
Trent: Yeah. All right, next question, next question. Dark chocolate or normal chocolate.
John: I’m going to go normal chocolate, I think, yeah, unless you’re drinking it. If you’re drinking it, dark chocolate is good, but to eat, I’ll go normal chocolate just because I think that I can have more of it. I feel like dark chocolate, you don’t need as much.
Trent: Johnny Rocket hamburgers or McDonald’s hamburgers.
John: Johnny Rockets, yeah, for sure.
John: Why? I guess because just McDonald’s is so prevalent that they’re just everywhere. So, the Johnny Rockets, when you come across them, it’s a little more special, I guess. I don’t know if that’s the right word part.
Trent: Makes sense.
John: I feel like they’re more prepared, not just like a machine made them or something.
Trent: When was the last time you went to McDonald’s? What are you saying? That they’ve got robots in the background just somewhere?
John: Here in America, we do. No, not really, actually, but you do have to punch in your order yourself now. So, there’s that.
Trent: Yeah, I hate that. I don’t want to do anything for myself. That’s why I don’t use espressos that way.
John: That’s why you don’t make your own coffees.
Trent: I like to typically see someone making it for me. Ridiculous. Ridiculous. Last question, Denver or Brooklyn.
John: Denver, hands down. Brooklyn might be neat to visit but to live is a lot. It’s quiet compared to New York. The sun’s out all the time, and people are pretty chill, so it’s nice. I feel like I missed at least two or if not all of those questions, so it looks like I’m not buying a car.
Trent: Yeah, you didn’t get many of them right. That’s right. I mean, you wasted, I prefer hot chocolate over coffee, you pretty much lost.
John: Right, after that, it was just like, I don’t know why we’re doing the other questions.
Trent: Yeah, if you can’t answer the first one, why are we even here?
John: Right. Exactly. I’m glad we didn’t start the podcast out this way because that would have been awkward. It was so fun catching up with you, Trent. Thanks for being a part of What’s Your “And”?
Trent: No worries. Thanks for having me, as always.
John: Excellent. And everybody listening, if you want to see some pictures of Trent 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 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.
Episode 268 – Ron Seigneur
Ron is an Accountant & Clown
John visits Ron’s office in Denver to follow up on his latest adventures as part of the Distinguished Clown Brigade, taking on the role of Santa Claus, and writing a book on the cannabis industry! He returns to the podcast from episode 26.
• 6th year with the Distinguished Clown Brigade
• Being Santa Claus
• Being questioned about the Distinguished Clown Brigade during cross exams
• Why he feels it is beneficial to include the Distinguished Clown Brigade in his resume
• His book on the cannabis industry
• Picking up guitar again
• Why he enjoys speaking and traveling to conferences
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Welcome to Episode 268 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 to hear how this message might’ve impacted them since we last talked.
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 or sign up for my exclusive list and you’ll be the first to know when it’s being published. 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. This Follow-up Friday is going to be no different with my guest, Ron Seigneur. He’s the Managing Partner at Seigneur Gustafson in Denver and I’m visiting his office today. Ron, thanks so much for opening the doors and taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Ron: John, I’m just delighted to be here. It’s amazing. It was four years since we did the first episode.
John: It’s insane, man. It feels like four weeks. It really does. But it was so fun meeting you when I did the AICPA conference many years ago. Yeah. And then having you on the show and then now, coming to your office. It’s a real place.
Ron: And you live here in Denver now. So welcome to Colorado. Yeah.
John: No, I appreciate it, man. Yeah. It’s been awesome. And since then, I’ve moved to rapid-fire questions up to the front now. These are pretty fun. We’ll do seven. If you had to choose, Harry Potter or Game of Thrones?
Ron: Harry Potter. The train ride from Diagon Alley to Hogwarts at Universal was amazing last year. Yeah.
John: Holy cow, look at this. You’re jumping. That’s like you didn’t just pick one. You knew. Okay.
Ron: Yeah, absolutely.
John: All right. More cats or dogs?
Ron: I’m a dog guy. I’ve got a French Bulldog that’s incredibly spoiled.
John: That’s awesome.
Ron: Yeah. I raise the dog.
John: Exactly. I remember the picture from the first time you were on the show that you sent in.
Ron: Little bulldogs are my world.
John: Exactly. This is a tough one. Brownie or ice cream?
Ron: Oh, God, I love chocolate, but a hot brownie with a little vanilla ice cream on.
John: That’s actually the correct answer. That was a trick one. It’s a combo. Exactly. How about a favorite Disney character?
Ron: Oh god. I have a golf buddy that we call him Goofy. So I’ll go with Goofy because he’s one of my best friends.
John: Goofy is a good answer. Do you prefer more hot or cold?
Ron: I like hot. I like hot, black, strong coffee in the morning that gets me started.
John: Okay. All right. All right. How about a favorite sports team? And sport?
Ron: Michigan Wolverines.
Ron: I’m a Spartan and a Wolverine. They played each other on Saturday. I grew up in Ann Arbor so when you cut me, I bleed more blue than I do green.
John: Wow. Interesting.
Ron: I just dislike the Ohio State Buckeyes.
John: Yeah. So either way, you got that, so that works. All right. All right. And the last one, this might be the most important one. Toilet paper roll, over or under?
Ron: Oh, it’s got to be over. I’ve got a brother in law who’s in the Navy and he’s just over. He goes to our bathroom. He’ll turn it around if it’s wrong. It’s got to be over. I think that’s a military code.
John: Yeah, pretty much. That’s awesome, man. That’s awesome. Yeah. I mean the Episode 26, you were so brave to be on, so early on. I had no clue what I was doing. I still kind of don’t. But we talked about being in the Distinguished Clown Brigade, which was just so cool. And part of — I mean for charity in a parade, give everybody a quick backstory on that.
Ron: I’ll try not to take too long, but I have two thoughts. One, this would be the sixth year that I’ve been involved. It’s part of the Parade of Lights, which is December 6th this year. Unfortunately, this will be the first year I’m going to miss it because I’m going to fulfill a bucket list thing. I’m going to be Santa Claus the next morning at Denver Country Club. And we have our dress rehearsal on the night that I’d be clowning around. So I’m stepping up to be Santa Claus this year. But the Clown Brigade is alive and well. It’s a charitable thing. I’ve got a couple of pictures on my wall. Yeah, it’s a privilege to be invited to do that.
John: And you nail it. I mean it’s just really fun and jovial. You make it into an experience for everybody, which is what you do.
Ron: It’s funny because I have a CV for all the expert witness stuff I do. On there, I say I’m a member of the Denver Distinguished Clown Brigade. And I’ve been in trials where I get asked that question in cross exams. It’s a nice way to avoid dealing with the real numbers and the real issues. It’s like, “Mr. Seigneur, tell me about this clowning around thing you’re doing.” Yeah.
John: Right. Exactly. Do you find that it’s a detriment? Or is it more of an enhancer?
Ron: I think it’s an enhancer. It just shows that I’m a real guy, more than just a number counter type of guy.
John: Yeah, totally. Because I mean there are some recruiters that I’ll run across or people that tell me that their recruiter or their headhunter or whatever is telling them to leave those things off of their resume. And I’m like, “Well, that’s the only thing that differentiates you. I mean why would you?”
Ron: I was in a trial, a contentious trial several months ago. I was being cross examined and the cross examining attorney had things they’re putting up on the screen and asking about numbers and empirical stuff and flashed a picture of me in my clown outfit. I was up on the stand sworn in. He said, “Mr. Seigneur, is this you?” I said, “Yes.” Then he went on to the next accounting thing. And I said, “Aren’t you going to ask me about…” He goes, “I don’t have time.” And I’m up there and I go, “That’s bullshit.” The judge paused and everything. We had to straighten that out on redirect, which we did. I think I scored points, but it was weird having somebody show a picture of a clown up while I’m in court.
John: And what does that have to do with your ability to be an excellent forensics investigator? I mean it has nothing to do with it.
Ron: Well, it has everything to do with the old line that lawyers say, “If the facts are against you, you argue the law right. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If both the law and the facts are against you, you call the other side names.”
John: Right. There you go.
Ron: I think it fell into that category.
John: Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, but I mean it’s such a cool thing that you do. And now, Santa, I mean that’s next level. That’s legit.
Ron: I have a Santa outfit that I inherited from the guys the last couple of years. I have it at home. I was trying it on last night as a matter of fact. And I need to enhance it with a few things. So I’m going down the street to Disguises, which is a great costume shop just down the road, making sure I have the right glasses and the right beard and the right gloves and everything because you want to be the right Santa.
John: You have to be legit. Yeah. You can’t be mailing it in these days, I mean kids with the internet and everything.
Ron: Yeah. I don’t want to be Bad Santa.
John: Right. That’s awesome. Yeah. So other hobbies, passions? I know that it seems like you’ve expanded some outside of work interests.
Ron: Yeah. I’ve got four grandkids, another one on the way. They all live here in Denver, so that’s cool. We just took my oldest granddaughter who’s 13 to see Phantom of the Opera last night. So that was cool, a little culture for her and myself and my wife and my daughter. I still play golf, still hack away at the golf course just down the street here. I love to travel. I do a lot of speaking as you know, John, around the country.
John: Right. Oh yeah, absolutely.
Ron: One of the things is I become known as the pot guy because I wrote a book called The Cannabis Industry Accounting and Appraisal Guide with my partner and another colleague. Now, I literally have people walking up to me going, “Hey, you’re the pot guy, aren’t you?”
John: It’s like, “Well, it depends on how you define that.”
Ron: If it pays enough, that’s it. If my mother could see me now, do you what I’m saying?
John: Right. Exactly. Yeah, but I mean from having that niche in that industry especially in Colorado but so many other states, that’s becoming a big business opportunity.
Ron: It’s huge. We’re doing a lot of stuff in hemp and CBD right now. As a matter of fact, we’re about ready to issue a big report on a seed genetics firm that’s located here in Denver. But we’ve done cannabis and hemp related work in Oregon. We have stuff in Nevada going on, New Mexico, Massachusetts, Florida, Michigan, Virginia. So we’re finding our way all over the country. Primarily because of the book, the book kind of just all of a sudden, you wrote the book. It’s like you must know something. Yeah.
John: That’s really awesome. With all your travels and talking to people and expanding business and everything, do you find that people are sharing hobbies and passions more now or you’re more keen to it? Or is it, “I still have work to do.”
Ron: I’ve always been a curious people. I’m a people person. So I always like to talk to people, like what you’re doing in a smaller degree, kind of, “What do you like to do? What do you do outside of work? What’s unique about you as an individual?” It’s fun to learn about people and see what other people are into. I always ask people, “Do you really have a hobby?” Because most people, it’s like, “Well, my hobby is running or working out,” versus gardening or woodworking. It seems like nobody has time for legitimate hobbies anymore. They’re all slaves to the internet. “My hobby is doing emails all day long.” It’s like, “Hmm, not so much.”
John: Right. Yeah. That’s why I try to push people. It’s something that has nothing to do with your job at all. Yeah. And why do you think it’s so important that you find out these things when you talk to people?
Ron: I’m curious. I just like to know what they’re about. What do they do besides their job to define themselves? We’re all spinning through this world at a rapid pace. Do you like to travel? Are you finding time for it? Do you like to take photography? Are you really following it? I like to play guitar. I have a guitar in my basement. I just haven’t found enough time to do it. But it’s one of those things I’d like to get back into. I have a couple good friends. I think you know one, Kevin Yeanoplos.
John: Oh, yeah, he’s been a friend of the podcast. Absolutely. Yeah, he’s been on.
Ron: He and his buddy, Harold Martin, have been actually playing their guitars when they — we just did a conference in Virginia. For the afternoon reception, Harold and Kevin broke out their guitars and sang and played. It’s cool to see them do that. They’re willing to get up in front of their peers and, “Let me show you that I’m good enough to stroke a few notes and play some for you.”
John: Right. And now, everyone knows who they are.
John: So instead of just another forensics person, it’s, “Oh, no, you’re the one that played the guitar.”
Ron: Yeah. You’re the one that has another talent.
John: Exactly. Exactly. I think it’s cool that you’re doing that well before I came along, which is great. You’re creating those deeper connections that actually matter because you care about them as a person, which is awesome.
Ron: Getting around and speaking and teaching at conferences, the best part about it is the relationships that I’ve built over the years, people that I consider close friends that I might only see once or twice a year. We go to the AICPA Valuation Conference and it’s like Old Home Week when we show up there. Yeah.
John: For those people, I’m usually good friends with them because I only see them once or twice a year. If I saw them more, they would be like, “We’re sick of you, John. Leave me alone.”
Ron: Kind of like my relatives.
John: Right. Exactly. I think that’s great. Do you have any words of encouragement to others? I mean clearly, being Santa and then the Distinguished Clown Brigade, it’s not something that’s normal that people would think of as something that makes you better at your job, but it clearly does.
Ron: Well, I said bucket list before and I think we might’ve talked about this back in April of 2016 when we did Episode 26, but have a bucket list. Sit down. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Write out — what is it that’s on your bucket list that you’d like to do. Then every year, revisit it and see if you can check off a couple of things. Maybe add a couple. “See, I want to play guitar.” Okay. Did you do that this next year? That’s like a priority list that you can refer to to see what it is that you want to do in addition to working all day every day and being a slave to the internet.
John: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely, man. That’s such a great thing. It’s just be intentional with it because before you know it, I mean all of a sudden, 20 years have gone by or 40 years have gone by and you’re like, “Well, what now?” That’s crazy.
Ron: Well, I’m 66. You start to think about your mortality and how much — I have people asking me like, “Are you still working? How much longer are you going to work?” It’s like, “I don’t think about it. I feel young.” But then I see my friends that I went to high school with and some of them are retired. So I started thinking, “What else do I want to do while I…”
John: Well, that’s because they’re old.
Ron: I go back to my high school reunion. It’s like half the people are like, “God, they’re old.” The other half are like, “They’re looking pretty good.” It’s like, “Which group am I in?”
John: Right. Exactly. That’s awesome. Well, this has been really fun. And I do now allow people to turn the tables on me now. So if you want to fire away, you have any questions you want to ask me, we can chat.
Ron: Tell me what you like best about being in Colorado.
John: Probably the weather. I mean just no humidity and sunshine all the time. I didn’t realize that — humidity, I know, is bad when it’s warm. It’s makes it gross. But when it’s cold, humidity makes it terrible. That’s the bone-chilling cold. But here, it’ll be 35 or 40 degrees and I’m wearing a windbreaker because the sun is out and it’s not that cold.
Ron: I think statistically, we have more sunshine here than San Diego.
John: Which is crazy.
Ron: About 300 sunny days a year. Yeah.
John: Yeah. No, the weather is just amazing. And not a lot of rain, which I’m not a fan of. I think it’s because I’m made of sugar. I’ll melt.
Ron: One of the questions, what are your hobbies?
John: What are one of my hobbies? I’m huge into college football. Yeah. So your Michigan Wolverines can eat it. But no, no. I’m just teasing.
Ron: Who’s your team?
John: I went to Notre Dame. Yeah.
Ron: Okay. Notre Dame’s okay. Just like don’t be a Buckeye.
John: Yeah. We’re not Ohio State.
Ron: How did we do this year, Notre Dame? I can’t remember.
John: Yeah. That game didn’t happen. It was in the rain so it didn’t happen. We canceled it. No, I’m kidding.
Ron: Never mind.
John: Oh yeah. That was good for Michigan to finally turn it around. So college football, huge into that. Then ice cream, I’m just huge into — local ice cream places when I travel, I’ll make my way to their local establishment. And then of course comedy. I don’t do the clubs anymore but my friends are and my friends have Netflix specials and stuff like that. So it’s fun to see them, but yeah. But definitely college football and ice cream. And if I can combine those at the same time, yeah, that’s heaven.
Ron: Do you get back for game at all?
John: Oh, yeah, absolutely. And I write the Award Show for the football team. Two of them have been nominated for Emmys because they all air on NBCSN. So first year was with Dan Hicks and Hannah Storm. Hannah’s an alum. Then two years ago was with Jerome Bettis. Then last year was with Aaron Taylor. Yeah. So it’s been fun.
Ron: A good friend of mine, Otto Hilbert, the guy that I’m inheriting the Santa outfit from is a Notre Dame grad. He played football for them for a couple years. We always accused him being kind of the Rudy on the team.
John: Right. If he got carried off, then that’d be amazing. Yeah. I mean that’s what I love to do. Yeah. I mean that has nothing to do with work, but I find that there’s a lot of people that can relate to those things.
Ron: There you go.
John: Cool. Well, thanks, Ron. This has been really awesome.
Ron: Thank you, John.
John: Everyone listening, if you want to see some pictures of Ron 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.
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.
Episode 254 – Belicia Cespedes
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
Please take 2 minutes
to do John’s anonymous survey
about Corporate Culture!
- 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.