Geraldine is a Business Strategist/Coach & World Traveler
Geraldine Carter, owner of She Thinks Big Coaching, talks about her passion for traveling, how it runs in her family, some of her favorite trips, and how her experiences traveling play a role in her management style!
• Getting into traveling
• Her favorite trips
• Traveling with locals
• Meet them where they are
• Discussing traveling at work
• Wise leaders set the tone at the top
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Welcome to Episode 417 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 differentiates you when you’re at work.
If you like what the show is about, be sure to check out the book. It’s on Amazon, Indigo, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop, a few other websites. All the links are at whatsyourand.com. If you want this voice to read the book to you, look for What’s Your “And”? on Audible or wherever you get your audio books. The book goes more in depth with the research behind why these outside-of-work passions are so crucial to your corporate culture, and I can’t say how much it means that everyone’s reading it, and now listening to it, and writing such great reviews and, more importantly, changing the cultures where they work because of it.
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, Geraldine Carter. She’s the owner of She Thinks Big Coaching, and now she’s with me here today. Geraldine, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Geraldine: Hi, John. Thank you so much for having me.
John: This is going to be awesome, so much fun. I have my rapid-fire questions, get to know Geraldine right out of the gate. I hope you’re buckled in and ready to go. All right, I’ll start you out with an easy one though. Favorite color. Wow. Okay. I barely know how to spell that. That’s impressive. I like it. All right, how about a least favorite color.
John: Oh, yeah, that’s a very popular least favorite. How about oceans or mountains?
Geraldine: Mountains all the way.
John: Oh, not even close. All right, all right, there you go. How about a favorite actor or actress?
Geraldine: Meryl Streep.
John: Yeah, solid answer. That’s a solid answer. She’s so good in everything.
Geraldine: Yeah. I’m not very original, I mean, on my part, in terms of answers.
John: No, no, but it’s solid. When you’re good, you’re good.
Geraldine: How can you not love her?
John: Pretty much. How about, would you say you’re more of an early bird or a night owl?
Geraldine: Early bird. You won’t find me awake past 9:30, ever.
John: Oh, that’s fantastic. That’s awesome. There you go. That was an easy one. How about when it comes to puzzles, Sudoku or crossword?
Geraldine: Oh, ick, neither. I’m working on a Rubik’s Cube right now, but it’s just sitting on my desk.
John: That works. That’s when you start peeling the stickers off and then putting —
Geraldine: Yeah, I’m a total sticker-peeler.
John: Totally. I’m done. What do you know? That’s awesome. I thought I was the only one that did that. That’s great. Oh, this is a good one, a favorite Disney character.
John: There’s so many now.
Geraldine: Is Anna a Disney character? I can’t remember.
John: I think so. For Frozen?
Geraldine: I’m pretty sure, right?
John: Yeah. Oh, absolutely. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay, very cool. No, that totally counts. How about Star Wars or Star Trek?
Geraldine: Star Wars if I had to.
John: Okay, all right. No, that works. How about your computer though, PC or a Mac?
Geraldine: Yeah. No, I’m a total Mac addict.
Geraldine: 100%, never going back.
John: A little bit of a cult almost, that bubble?
Geraldine: Well, I don’t rub it in unicorn tears or anything, but it’s just so much easier.
John: That’s fantastic. That’s what PC people like me do. That’s where all the unicorn tears go. How about a favorite ice cream flavor? I’m a huge ice cream junkie.
Geraldine: Oh, my gosh, I make ice cream. I actually have my own private label.
John: What?! Oh, that’s so awesome. Yeah, that’s your “and and”. That’s next level. That’s very cool. Do you have a favorite flavor?
Geraldine: Cookies and cream.
John: Oh, okay. I’m a huge fan of chunks in the ice cream. It’s like maximum calories per spoonful to my face.
Geraldine: That’s right, by the pint.
John: Totally. People keep the lid? I’m like, why do you keep the lid?
Geraldine: I know, all the way to the bottom.
John: Right, right. Quitters. How about a favorite movie of all time?
Geraldine: Oh, The Princess Bride, without question.
John: Yeah, solid. Oh, man, that’s hilarious. So funny. So funny. A favorite season, summer, winter, spring or fall.
Geraldine: Winter all year, please.
John: Oh, okay. All right. Winter, mountains, I’m catching on.
Geraldine: I could do without the darkness, but if I could have winter all year, I’d ski all year. That would just be the best.
John: Yeah, Anna from Frozen, all of this is coming together now.
Geraldine: There’s a theme.
John: There you go. Since you’re in the accounting space, balance sheet or income statement.
John: Oh, okay. There you go. How about a favorite number?
Geraldine: Yeah, I was thinking about this one, and I couldn’t decide between 57 or 72.
John: Okay. Is there a reason why?
Geraldine: Well, I don’t know. It’s kind of nerdy. One of them is prime, and one of them is multi-factorial. I really like them both, but it’s totally random.
John: Okay, yeah. So it’s 72 and 50…
Geraldine: When I got my Hotmail address years ago, there were apparently already 56 Geraldines, and they gave me 57, and then the number just kind of stuck around. I don’t know, 72 has just been like this theme in my life. Who knows where these things come from?
John: I like it. No, no, I like it. Very cool. How about books, audio version, e-book or real book?
Geraldine: Hmm, hardcover.
John: Oh, hardcover even. Okay, there you go.
Geraldine: Yeah. I want legit books. I want to hold on to a book.
John: Yeah, something I can throw at somebody if I’m angry.
Geraldine: Including my children. Get away!
John: Right? Paperbacks just don’t do the trick. You can’t slam it on the table and intimidate anyone. Two more. A favorite adult beverage. Oh, nice. Okay, all right. The last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.
Geraldine: My cargo bike. I ride my kids to school. I stick them on the back. They seem fine to me, riding to school.
Geraldine: Yeah. It’s the best.
John: That’s awesome. That’s one of those bikes with the long rack in the back?
Geraldine: Yep, exactly, and it’s got like a little hula hoop around the side so they can hold on and stuff.
John: Okay. Nice.
Geraldine: The best is when I go uphills, and my daughter, she pushes me in the back. I tell her to push me up the hill, and she pushes me.
John: Help you get up. That’s so cool. Yeah, when she grows up, she’s going to tell people like, you know, I’m so strong. I helped my mom push up the hill. That’s very cool. Let’s talk world travels, and you’ve been all over the place. Did you grow up traveling? Or was it something, after got adult money, you were like, let’s do this?
Geraldine: I grew up traveling. It runs in my family. It runs in the female side of the genes on both sides. My dad’s mom was a big traveler back in the early 1900s and everything. My mom’s side, she was born in the South Pacific and French Colonies, and her mom and her aunt were travelers. They saw an ad in the paper in France. They needed hatmakers in the South Pacific. They got on a steamer and went to Vanuatu, used to be the New Hebrides, and had my mom. That’s where my mom was born. She moved back to France and then eventually moved to the US.
John: That’s awesome.
Geraldine: Yeah, so half my family’s over there. We, of course, went back to visit frequently. No grass grows under my mom’s feet, and for a long time, none grew under mine. I just wanted to go everywhere because there’s so many cool things to see.
John: That’s awesome. Are there some favorite places that you’ve been? I’m sure there’s a handful.
Geraldine: Yeah, it’s hard to pin down what’s your favorite kid. It’s for different reasons. Apparently, I like politically complicated places.
Geraldine: Burma just blew my doors off. It was so interesting. Of course, tragic, it’s been really difficult over there, especially recently. Cuba was just wild. I went in 2000 on a French passport, in case anybody from the IRS is listening, or the government. It was legal, in my view. China was just, I couldn’t get over myself. I felt like a little kid who — you don’t realize that as you get older, your sense of discoveries just evaporates over time. When you are little and you first turn over a rock, and there’s a salamander under there. You’re like, oh, my God! You take it running to your mom. You’re like, look, look, look, and she’s like, yeah, whatever, it’s a salamander. Riding my bike around China was like that, all day long, every day. What is that? I would see stuff. I’m like, I don’t even know if that’s — what’s the 20 questions game — I’m like, I don’t even know if that’s something I would eat or if that’s something that I would — is that something I would build a house with? What is that? It was like that all day long. It was just so cool. Not to mention the fact that the map I had, had no key on it because it had been crossed out. I couldn’t tell, when I had it in my hands, if it was upside down. Exactly.
Geraldine: Your listeners couldn’t see, but he just waved his arm in a circle to be like, which way is north on this thing? I can’t tell.
John: I can’t even tell if the letters are upside down.
Geraldine: Yeah, but eventually, I learned to recognize which way was up and down. It was other worldly to be like, I never knew that I wouldn’t be able to find north on a map simply because I couldn’t read the script. It was like that all day long, every day.
John: That’s awesome. It sounds like it’s places that are so different than the US. That’s the thing. It makes you see, oh, wow, not everyone lives like this. I appreciate where I live more now, maybe, a little bit of the things that you take for granted. Or, wow, that’s a cool idea, we should bring that back with us, type of thing.
Geraldine: Yeah, all those things and more.
John: Those are incredible places. I’ve never been to any of those three. I would imagine Cuba’s a bit of a time machine. Yeah?
Geraldine: It is a total time warp. It’s, honestly, like you’ve landed in 1950.
John: Right? The cars, the outfits, the music.
Geraldine: Yeah, oh, my gosh, the music emanates out of houses and out of backyards. It’s just everywhere, everywhere. I went with my mom. Because there are so few people who own cars, many people hitchhike just to get around. Because they’ll say the walls have ears, they don’t want to talk, right? We would pick up hitchhikers, so to speak. I hesitate to call them that because they’re just locals trying to get home. I speak Spanish. I’ve turned around. I’d sit in the passenger seat, and I would talk to them. I’d ask them questions, and I’d tell my mom, as we’re going places. We would just hear the most fascinating stories that you wouldn’t be able to get in any other setting because they won’t share freely, because they just don’t know who’s listening. That was just a wild experience. It was also really interesting. They’re so well-educated, and yet, it’s impoverished. The disconnect between those two things, I haven’t experienced anywhere else. It was a noticeable shift.
John: Wow, that’s really interesting. Yeah, you’re right. When you’re in a country like Cuba, you never know who’s listening, and they trusted you, which is cool. You get to hear the real scoop, how the locals live, which, when you travel, do you typically — I would imagine you’re with the locals, you’re where do regular people go, I’ll see the touristy stuff, too, because you have to, but do you go off grid a little bit?
Geraldine: Yeah, and this was all pre-smartphones, so we were depending on who I was with. Sometimes I was with my mom. We traveled a bunch together. Oftentimes, I travel alone on my bike. The best thing about traveling as a woman alone is you’re not a threat to anyone. You get invited inside all the time to have dinner with families. You get in. Come sleep over, sleep on the couch, or we’ll give you a bed or whatever. I got the royal treatment wherever I went. It was just the best.
John: That’s so funny.
Geraldine: Yeah, I just got to see into lives that I think you wouldn’t get in so many other circumstances.
John: Yeah, you were in a lot of pictures, I bet.
Geraldine: Well, not overly. Most people didn’t have cameras really.
John: Oh, wow. Okay. All right. That’s so crazy. Do you feel like all the traveling and all that, that gives you a skill or a mindset that’s carried over into work, even maybe before the coaching?
Geraldine: Yeah, the thing that always struck me or the thing that struck me most, especially when I was in Asia for, I was there traveling for about six months, there are more than a billion people in India and a billion people in China, and all these different countries have different religions. India is mostly Hindu. China has its own thing going on. I come from a mutt kind of relatively Christian background, and growing up in US, certainly it’s culturally Christian. I hadn’t really ever thought that much about it. When I spent that much time in Asia, I was like, it doesn’t make sense that so many other people could be wrong about what they believe and how they view the world. Because there are just too many different points of view, it doesn’t make sense that so many people could have a point of view that is incorrect. That makes no sense.
Geraldine: Not just religion, just so many parts of life. It just made me a more open and curious person to try and understand how people experience and see things, rather than to try and force what they think through my own lens. If there’s something that I bring to the work that I do now, it’s to just meet people where they are because you have no idea what’s going on. Just meet them where they are. It’s much easier.
John: That’s totally true. Because rather than Americanize them, or, okay, I understand you’ve been doing it this way for generations, but you’re wrong. No, you can’t do that. It’s cool that it’s, well, walk a mile in your shoes and see through your lens. You’re clearly making decisions that you think are best for you. You wouldn’t self-sabotage repeatedly like that. That’s crazy. So there’s a reason you’re doing things.
Geraldine: And what can I learn from this? What can I learn from you? What do you see that I don’t know? There’s a lot that we’re isolated from knowing, despite the internet and everything. There’s a lot that we don’t know. When you live inside the confines of the US and surrounded by giant seas on both sides, there’s a lot that we don’t know has happened.
John: Right. Yeah. No, totally, and especially like the story from their side, what the “news/opinions” that are in their country, versus the news/opinions that are in ours. Yeah. No, that’s so cool. It’s like in your own eyes and ears, and feel it, and sense it. That’s cool that you can take that to your clients now, is meet them where they’re at. I think that applies to really everyone in their career. If you’re leading a team, if you’re leading a whole company, you’ve got people, meet them where they’re at.
Geraldine: Like I said, people have a lot going on in their lives. At the end of the day — another thing that always struck me was that no matter how different we might be, what I saw, time and again, is that people want to spend time with their families and their loved ones, and they want what’s best for their kids. They want their kids to have a better shot at life. People might be being difficult or having a challenging day or challenging time or whatever, but it taught me to always remember that, at the end of the day, we are so much more alike than we are different. If you can just understand what’s going on with people, rather than get frustrated with how they’re being, it just makes interactions so much easier.
John: I love that because we are so much more alike than different. Yet, it’s human nature, I don’t know what, to focus on the differences. It’s like, but what about the 99% sameness, how about that part? No? Okay. So, is the travel something that comes up, or stories from travel, with clients or with work colleagues?
Geraldine: Let’s see. It doesn’t necessarily come up with clients too often because they’re focused on their own journey. Admittedly, it’s been a while. I put my passports down. When I was done traveling, I was done. I came home and put my passport down, and that was it.
John: 15 countries and seven continents, I feel like it’s passports, with an S.
Geraldine: Well, it is passports. I do have two.
John: Oh, yeah, well, the French one as well. So, I guess it’s not as natural for it to come up because you’re not traveling as much now, with the family and stuff.
Geraldine: Yeah, and it’s not really in the context of things. We’re trying to get stuff done. We’re trying to move their businesses forward and get them making transitions in their own work. If we have time to jibber-jabber, sometimes I’ll throw in a story, especially if it’s relevant. I have a few good travel stories that have good messages behind them, so I’ll throw them in if I find an opening.
John: Yeah, because it’s one of those where, yeah, you don’t force it. You’re not shouting it from the rooftops. It’s not anything like that. If it comes up, then why not? Because some people just feel that if it’s not work-related, then it’s not at work. It’s different when you have clients that are paying for time then there’s that, type of thing. They have issues that they need help with and all that, but sometimes, if it comes up, then it’s cool to share because it takes that relationship to a different level.
Geraldine: Yeah, and there’s more to us than just the work that we do. Like you say, when we’re able to share and open up about the other parts of our life and what else we have going on — there’s a reason that there’s a thing called social grease, and having some social grease to lubricate relationships and keep things rolling and not have everything be all work, work, work all the time; just makes things more cohesive. It makes things work better. Relationships, at the end of the day, are what drives business. If you ignore the relationship at the expense of just being all business, money, numbers all day, you won’t get as far as if you can appreciate that you’re actually dealing with a human being who has a life outside of work.
John: That’s so rich right there. Yeah, totally. You’re right. It’s social grease. It’s not technical skills grease.
Geraldine: Yes. Let me grease this conversation with some formulas.
John: Check out this Excel macro I got here. I am so good. It’s so true. It’s so true. How much do you feel like it’s on an organization to create that space to find out the rest of the other sides of the people around you, the dimensions to them? How much is it on just an individual to be like, well, I’ve got this little team, and I’m going to start within this little circle?
Geraldine: Well, I think there’s something to be said for, you can only control so much, but I think wise leaders set the tone at the top. They understand how to get great work out of their employees and build cohesive teams that work well together. I’m just a big believer that everything comes from the top, and if you want your employees to behave a certain way, you’ve got to model it.
John: Yeah, and even the top doesn’t have to be the top top top. It could be, you’re in charge of a department, you’re in charge of a team, you’re in charge of whatever. Your little ecosystem can be the most awesome thing ever.
Geraldine: It’s the local top.
John: Yeah, the local top, there you go. Exactly. Exactly. That’s probably the most important because that’s the person that you interact with.
Geraldine: Yeah, that’s the person you’re looking at.
John: Yeah, exactly.
Geraldine: If you’re just business, business all the time and you’ve got to bring, maybe a personal or family concern to talk about, you feel like there’s no room for that kind of conversation. Those are the things that ding at longevity inside businesses.
John: Amen to that, totally. Because also too, if I feel like I have a somewhat personal relationship or something beyond just title relationship with that person, then I talk to that person more times than — ten times, nine of them are about normal things. The tenth one is telling me I didn’t do something right. Okay. But if the one time you talk to me is the only time you’re telling me, I didn’t — then I’m out. The critical feedback is super critical all of a sudden. The other way, it’s a friend pulling you aside.
Geraldine: The positive stuff needs to vastly outweigh the negative stuff in order for the negative stuff to just be like, okay, cool, got it. I’m on it. I’ll do it better next time.
John: Exactly. It doesn’t sting, and it’s — yeah, you’re right, actually. You’re not as defensive. It’s amazing how much benefits come from…
Geraldine: Under a heat lamp of constant criticism.
John: Yeah. Well, I’ve been there. It’s like, really? I’m not that bad. Come on now. You mess up three times in six months, and that’s the only three times that that person talks to you. It’s like, yeah, you know what? I’m out. Do you have any words of encouragement to anybody listening that might feel like, I’ve got this hobby or passion that has nothing to do with work and no one’s going to care?
Geraldine: Well, it depends on how open you want to be about things. I’m just a general believer that it’s easier to be open about things and go with the flow and pay attention to the signals that you’re getting from the other party about whether or not they’re open to hearing anything.
Geraldine: Right. I’m careful not to foist my own interests on other people who look like their attention wants to be somewhere else. So, that is, pay attention to the person you’re with and read their cues and act accordingly, but I’m a believer that people really like connection. We crave connection. We’ve learned that this year when we, all of a sudden, had it stripped away. Some people are not always the most social creatures, or maybe they’re not the most comfortable. Maybe they’re a little bit shy. Maybe they’re feeling a little bit reserved. Sometimes they just need an opening, and they need somebody to kind of nudge the door open. I like to kind of nudge the door open and see if there’s any reception and put myself out there and just be warm. If somebody picks it up, great. If they don’t, cool.
John: Also great. I love that where so many people are so permission-based where we don’t want to get slapped on the wrist. We don’t want to get yelled at. We don’t want to get whatever. Instead, we just don’t do anything. Then somebody actually goes out and does it and comes back alive. They’re like, wait, what? You’re allowed to do that? Yeah. There was one client that I was working with. They had a couple of different offices, and one office wanted to do this happy hour sort of thing, once a week. So they just did it. About two months later, the other offices found out. They’re like, how come we never did? Well, they just did it. They didn’t ask permission. They didn’t whatever. It was just like, we’re going to do this, and then no one says anything. 99 out of 100 times, that’s what happens. Just go do it. As long as it’s legal and not taboo, then knock yourself out. Cool things happen on the other side of that.
Geraldine: Go do things and get out of your routine because there’s so many cool things out there to do.
John: Yeah, and if not, just go to Burma and hang out for a little bit, or Cuba or China. See what I? Brought it all back.
John: There we go. Yeah, this has been awesome, Geraldine. I feel like it’s only fair that I turn the tables and make this the Geraldine Carter podcast. Thanks for having me on. Well, you do have your own podcast actually. What’s the name of that? So everybody can subscribe to that one too.
Geraldine: Yes, so my podcast is Smart Strategy for CPAs. We do only business strategy. We never talk about tax.
John: Oh, there you go. Excellent. That’s awesome. Well, I know nothing about tax, so I’m glad to be on your show. Thank you so much.
Geraldine: Yeah, I don’t either which is why I host a podcast for CPAs. It makes no sense.
John: Right? That’s awesome, but, yeah, whatever questions you want to ask, I’m all yours.
Geraldine: Yeah, so thanks for having me on your show. I would like to know if you prefer nachos or potato chips. I’m just talking like only a chip.
John: Oh, the corn chip.
Geraldine: Yeah, I’m not talking a tray of nachos with cheese and avocado in that.
John: Got it. Corn chips, potato chips. Potato chips, I’ll go potato chips on that one.
Geraldine: Okay. Beater car or socks with holes.
John: Oh, Lord, that’s… I’ll probably go socks with holes because I can mend those. A beater car is going to get me stranded somewhere and then I’m going to have to walk home with my socks and holes. It’s just going to be terrible all around. Or, yeah, after walking, all my socks would then have holes in them, so then I have both. Yeah, I’ll go socks with holes, easier to fix, easier to fix.
Geraldine: Go back to the potato chips, much easier.
John: Yeah, I’m just going to wear potato chips.
Geraldine: Okay, so you’re in Colorado. I’m in Idaho.
Geraldine: So, Wyoming or Utah?
John: Oh, I’ll go Utah. I just feel like there’s more variety, I guess, maybe. I don’t know. That’s my own naive… I’ve only done a little bit of Wyoming. I’ve done more of Utah. Maybe that’s probably why. I just feel like there’s a little more variety to it, but I can be wrong.
Geraldine: Not quite a square.
John: Yeah, exactly.
Geraldine: More square and less square.
John: Wyoming cut out the corner or Utah would’ve also been square. One of you is going to be not be square, and Utah’s it. That’s how it works out. This has been so much fun, Geraldine. Thanks so much for being a part of What’s Your “And”? It’s awesome.
Geraldine: Thanks, John. Thanks so much for having me on your show.
John: Totally, this has been so much fun. Everybody, if you want to see some pictures of Geraldine from her travels or maybe connect with her on social media or get a link to her podcast, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. Everything’s there. While you’re on the page, please click that big button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture. Don’t forget to check out the book.
Thanks again for subscribing to the podcast 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.
Kaitlyn is an Executive & World Traveler
Kaitlyn Kirkhart, CCO of BaCo Tech, talks about discovering her passion for traveling, how she is known for her passion in the workplace, and how she realized why it is so important to have a hobby as a professional!
• Getting into traveling
• Her reputation in the office as the traveler
• Mandatory PTO
• Why college was tough without a hobby
Please take 2 minutes
to do John’s anonymous survey
about Corporate Culture!
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- Read Full TranscriptOpen or Close
Welcome to Episode 411 of What’s Your “And”? This is John Garrett, and each Wednesday, I interview a professional who, just like me, is known for a hobby or a passion or an interest outside of work. To put it in another way, it’s encouraging people to find their “and”, those things above and beyond your technical skills, the things that actually differentiate you when you’re at work.
If you like what the show is about, be sure to check out the book, also called What’s Your “And”?, on Amazon, Indigo, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop, a few other websites. All the links are at whatsyourand.com. If you want me to read it to you, that’s right, this voice reading you the book, look for What’s Your “And”? on Audible or wherever you get your audio books. The book goes more in depth at the research on why these outside-of-work passions are so crucial to your corporate culture, and I can’t say how much it means that everyone’s reading it and now listening to it and writing such great reviews on Amazon and, more importantly, changing the cultures where they work because of it.
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, Kaitlyn Kirkhart. She’s the Chief Communications Officer at Baco Tech in Dallas, Texas, and now she’s with me here today. Kaitlyn, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Kaitlyn: Oh, my gosh, absolutely. I’m excited to be here.
John: Yeah, this is going to be awesome. I have 17 rapid-fire questions, get to know Kaitlyn on a new level. They’re questions I probably should have asked when we met virtually at the BDO Alliance Conference, but I figured, why not wait for the podcast? I’ll start you out with probably an easy one. Favorite color.
Kaitlyn: Gosh, I feel like I have to go back to what brings me joy. If you know me, you’ll find that my glasses, my cell phone case, my wallet, everything in my, not really in my room, but a lot of things in my room are this pastel pink. It’s funny because I’m not even really, I feel like I’m somewhat girly, but I’m not overly girly. There’s something about that color that really calms me down, so I guess it’s a pastel pink, if that’s my favorite color.
John: Yeah, but it’s soft. It’s not —
Kaitlyn: Yes. It’s not hot pink, and I’m blonde. I’m actually a lot darker now that I’m older, but I’ve always told myself I would never wear a hot pink dress. I still, this day, have not, but would you find me in a light pink? Yeah, I’d probably be caught in a light pink pastel power dress.
John: I like it. On the flip side then, what’s your least favorite color?
Kaitlyn: Least favorite color? Oh, gosh. Maybe orange. I’m not a big orange person, especially burnt orange, which is funny because some people think of University of Texas. I’m from, as you said, Dallas. I actually went to a school very close to there, Texas State University, but I hate that color. I love Austin. I love that school. I just cannot stand the color. I think it’s so ugly unfortunately.
John: It’s a pretty nasty color, and that’s the only place you ever see that color, on purpose.
Kaitlyn: I guess it’s very intentional. It’s on brand for them. It’s really not on brand because they’re a cool city and their color does not fit them very well, unfortunately.
John: Exactly. How about, would you say more cats or dogs?
Kaitlyn: Oh, my gosh, that was so easy, 100% dogs. Yeah. My favorite animal is a dog.
John: Okay. All right. How about a favorite day of the week?
Kaitlyn: Probably Friday because you’re super, it’s more Friday night. Friday during the day sucks because you’re just sitting there, and you’re twiddling your thumbs and tapping your finger, oh, my gosh. Or if you have a meeting on Friday, you’re like, this is the worst. I have so many other things I could be doing for tonight. I get super jazzed and energized on Friday nights. I have had to tell people recently. I’m like, I’m really sorry. I’m really hyper because I just know I’ve got two days to have so much fun, and I want to just hit the ground running. Definitely Fridays, but specifically Friday nights.
John: Okay, all right. How about puzzles, Sudoku, crossword or jigsaw?
Kaitlyn: Probably none. If I had to pick a puzzle, I like Solitaire. That’s not really a puzzle, but to me, it’s like puzzle pieces a little bit. I really like, I think it’s called mahjong. Do you know what I’m talking about?
John: Yeah, yeah, online.
Kaitlyn: Yeah, online. I don’t have the actual big pieces.
John: Domino-type pieces.
Kaitlyn: Yes, yes. As a kid, I was obsessed with that game, even as an adult. It’s on my phone. When I’m on an airplane or something and I need something to do with my mind so I don’t go insane, that’s usually my go-to game, that or Solitaire.
John: That’s awesome. All right. How about a favorite actor or actress?
Kaitlyn: Oh, my gosh, love Ryan Reynolds not only because I think he’s somewhat, I guess, pretty good-looking, that’s fine, but also his sense of humor is awesome. Ironically, he’s married to someone I really like as well, Blake Lively, but my favorite actress is probably either Julia Roberts or most likely Sandra Bullock. I fell in love with Ryan Reynolds with Sandra Bullock when they we’re in The Proposal. My favorite all-time movies, that or probably also, this is super lengthy, I’m sorry, not just one, but wait, there’s more. There’s so many.
Kaitlyn: I love Rachel McAdams. I can’t think of the actor off the top of my head right now, but she’s in a movie with him as well. I think it’s called About Time. Have you seen that movie?
Kaitlyn: Donald Gleason, that’s his name.
John: Donald Gleason.
John: There you go. Oh, this one, somebody asked me, and I like to turn it around. Socks or shoes.
Kaitlyn: I guess whatever is closest to being barefoot, so I guess socks but preferably being barefoot. I’m my father’s daughter, and I get yelled at by my mother, who also obviously yells at my father for walking outside, especially in the middle of the street, being barefoot. I don’t know if I will ever change. I am the worst. It’s funny because I’ll do it, and I can hear my mom yelling at me in my head every time I do it. I could hear her also yelling at my dad, and my dad will just be, well, gotten this far in life, and I’ve got my tetanus shot, so I guess forget the.
John: Right. That’s awesome. So, neither. It’s like, you know what? I don’t have time for this.
Kaitlyn: I love to be barefoot. That’s a hobby in and of itself. That’s my “and” actually.
John: That’s awesome. How about books, audio version, e-book or real book?
Kaitlyn: Real book, but unfortunately, I’m more of an audio book listener because I just like to go on walks and listen to them. For me, personally, who doesn’t like the touch of a book? It feels so good, especially when you’re on the beach or something, or you’re traveling. There’s something that’s so nice to actually look at and have tangible in your hands, or else I’m just wandering off and maybe dozing off.
John: You can circle back and be like, wait a minute, that actually seemed important.
Kaitlyn: Yeah, you can circle back and make notes in it. Yeah.
John: Yeah. How about a favorite number?
Kaitlyn: Probably the number six, and I don’t really know why. It has always been, I really just like writing it. Also I don’t like two sixes after the number six because that would be bad. Just one number six will be great.
John: Just one.
Kaitlyn: Yeah. I always feel hesitant saying that it’s number six because people might think of me a different way than I want them to think of me.
John: Three sixes.
Kaitlyn: Yeah, yeah. Hang on, buddy. That’s not what I was getting at. Exactly.
John: Exactly. How about your first concert?
Kaitlyn: Oh, my gosh. Someone asked me that the other day. That’s so funny you asked that. Okay, this is so cheesy, but here we go. I’m a millennial, and I watched a lot of Disney Channel growing up. I actually thought I was going to be one of the Disney Channel stars. Was I? Absolutely not, but I tried. I went to none other than a local concert here in Lewisville, Texas, which is in the Dallas area, and I saw Raven-Symone in concert, and I thought she was killer, which she was. She’s a very good singer. Also looking back, it’s very funny to think that we sat in the hot sun in, probably July in a parking lot for about six hours to be how far back we were. For me, I think that it was so bomb, and she did not bomb.
John: And you had to wear shoes.
Kaitlyn: And I had to wear shoes, what a bummer.
John: How about a TV show you would binge-watch?
Kaitlyn: Oh, my gosh. Okay, I’ve got two. I am such an Office girl, oh, my gosh. I love The Office. I have probably watched it through too many times to even be okay to say out loud. Obviously now it’s off Netflix, which is such a freaking bummer. Thankfully, I just re-watched it once it got taken off Netflix. Another one which has to, I have to watch The Office because I’ve to cleanse my palate a lot from the other one I binge a lot, which is Parenthood. I’m not sure if you’ve ever heard of it. They’re the same creators of This Is Us, which I love This Is Us. That one makes me cry way more than Parenthood, for some reason.
John: It makes the actors cry too.
Kaitlyn: Oh, my gosh, I know. I just watched This Is Us with my mom a couple nights ago, and I was like, this show is just too much compared to Parenthood. Parenthood is so good. I feel like I’m a part of their family, but, man, after three, you’re like, I’ve got to watch something to cleanse my palate. It’s like Parks and Rec, The Office, whatever, but me, my go to-comedy is The Office if it’s a little bit more dramatic and I want to feel something a little bit more, it’s Parenthood.
John: No, fair enough. Those are all great shows. We can be friends.
Kaitlyn: I’m so glad.
John: Here we go. Star Wars or Star Trek.
Kaitlyn: I love that. I think because I was raised on Star Wars and my brother would kick me if I didn’t say Star Wars, I’m going to say Star Wars.
Kaitlyn: Plus, I’ve actually never watched Star Trek, but I know my aunt is a huge fan. I just haven’t gotten around to watching that show.
John: How about your computer, more PC or Mac?
Kaitlyn: Oh, my gosh, 100% Mac. I’m talking to you right now on a PC. I very much know how to use them. Man, when I work from home on my personal laptop and, boy, do I just think it’s the bee’s knees. My parents are both in advertising, so I literally was raised to use a Mac. I will go to elementary school not knowing how to use a Mac, which I’m sorry, looking back, who the heck is not proficient in PC when you’re that young? Looking back, it’s just hilarious that I grew up solely using something that’s so user-friendly and not having something that breaks all the time. Sorry, Dell, but you do. You break all the time.
John: All right, diamonds or pearls.
Kaitlyn: I want to say pearls because that sounds cooler, but I honestly do like diamonds more. I’m also indifferent. I’ll wear either and be happy with it, but probably diamonds.
John: I’m not going to complain.
Kaitlyn: Yeah, no, no.
John: Three more. How about a favorite ice cream flavor?
Kaitlyn: Oh, man, probably mint chocolate chip, but I feel like that’s such a common answer. I wouldn’t want to trick it up or something, which is funny because there’s already chocolate chips in it. I’m like a five-year-old when it comes to donuts or ice cream or candy. I love sprinkles. I literally love rainbow sprinkles. I’m not sure if it’s the visual appeal or if it’s the crunch that comes with it. It’s low-key embarrassing. My mom, anytime we go out or get donuts or whatever, she’s always like, did you get the sprinkle Kai? I’m like, oh, my gosh, I am so embarrassed. I am a young professional, and I still like what I liked when I was five.
John: Yeah, but at least you’re consistent.
Kaitlyn: Man, you’re so right. I’m authentically myself, right?
John: That’s very funny, very funny. How about, ooh, do you have a favorite Disney character?
Kaitlyn: Wow. Do I have a favorite Disney character? I probably do, but I can’t think of who that would be. Maybe, oh, man, probably Sleeping Beauty. Okay, I don’t know. I’m like, Disney is so freaking broad. Can we do an off brand and do King Bob from Minions 2. King Bob is so freaking cute, oh, my gosh. I’m not going to lie to you when I say that I watched that movie, and I literally got puppy fever. What? I’m sorry, how does that happen? It did, and guess what. Literally, literally, three minutes later, I got a dog, and she’s still mine to this day. I don’t know. I saw King Bob, and I was like, man, he’s freaking cute. Maybe I just got baby fever, but I also don’t want a kid. I’m not ready for that. Plus, I’m single so that would be really hard on me and financially really hard for me. Why not get a dog like a typical millennial? I got a dog because of King Bob. Isn’t that so funny?
John: That’s funny. That’s hilarious.
Kaitlyn: Sorry about Disney, but that’s my go-to guy.
John: Counts for me. The last one, the favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.
Kaitlyn: The favorite thing I have. Can they not be tangible things?
John: Yeah, whatever.
Kaitlyn: Can they be things in my life?
John: Yeah, anything.
Kaitlyn: I love that because, honestly, the favorite thing I have I want to say my phone, but that’s so terrible. I hate that. Isn’t that terrible?
John: As long as it’s an Apple phone.
Kaitlyn: Right? That one really got me. You’re actually not wrong, unfortunately. I’m so biased. My favorite thing I have is probably my family. I love my family. I think that I’ve come to find, and it really was when I was in college, family is tough to come by and to be close with. I’ve got a really solid family. We’re definitely, by no means, perfect. There are still things that we’re still working through. I think moving back Dallas to be closer to my family, when I decided to do that, I moved from San Antonio to Dallas, four or five years ago, it was one of the best decisions of my life. I’m not saying I would never move again, but I think that I become a stronger person because of them. The favorite thing I own is, circling back to King Bob, is definitely my dog. She’s freaking cool.
John: A part of the family.
Kaitlyn: She is 100% a part of the family. She loves the family. The family loves her. She’s a rescue I got while I lived in San Antonio. It was typical millennial, very lonely out of college and didn’t understand that there would be, oh, wait a huge learning curve out of college and not have your friends spoon-fed to you, so I got, like a typical millennial like I said, a dog. She’s so freaking fun. She’s a golden retriever, dachshund, chow and terrier mix, so she is literally a dog that you’ve never seen before. She looks like a baby, baby golden retriever. She’s got the face of a golden, but she’s the size of a Corgi. She’s got the coat of a red golden retriever and then a tail that swirls up. Her tail’s her personality, we’d like to say.
John: Yeah, yeah, like Dr. Seuss’ tail.
Kaitlyn: Like a Dr. Seuss tail, I love that. I’m going to use that. We usually say, from Bambi, Flower, the skunk that has its tail up. Because in my parents backyard, she’s obsessed with being out there and trying to find rats and stuff, which is weird but that’s my dog, but you’ll always see her tail. You always know where she is because of her tail. It’s really cute. I’m like, ah, found my girl. That’s my favorite thing I have and my favorite thing I own.
John: Very cool. No, that’s great. That’s great. I knew it wasn’t going to be a pair of shoes.
Kaitlyn: Yeah. Again, at least I’m consistent, my goodness.
John: Right. Let’s talk travel. Did you grow up traveling? Or was it something that came later? How’d you get bit by the travel bug?
Kaitlyn: I know. It is such a bug. Let me ask you, have you ever been bitten by it?
John: Quite a bit.
Kaitlyn: Okay, so you get it. Yeah, it’s so interesting because, did I grew up enjoying it? Yeah. To be honest, my family, we wouldn’t, we went on vacations, but vacations are, during a recession, pretty dang expensive. If anything, we went to just visit family in Chicago. We didn’t really go downtown. We just went to the suburbs. I always liked getting away though. I always liked airplanes. I liked the whole experience of it. Little did I know that I would eventually become just obsessed in trying to get out all the time. I leave Dallas about once a month at least, whether it’s going just an hour away to Fort Worth for the weekend, or three hours south to Austin is probably my go-to. I have a lot of friends out there because of school. Yeah, I just try to leave as much as possible. I got bit by the bug really when I was in college. I went on a mission trip to a very, very popular country that everyone goes to, called Macedonia. I’m sure you’ve heard of it because everyone talks about it all the time.
John: Right? How did you pick Macedonia?
Kaitlyn: I know. One of my friends, when I got back from my trip, she goes, “How was macadamia?” I was like thanks for donating to my mission trip. It was awesome.
John: I thought we were going to get nuts. What’s going on?
Kaitlyn: Why didn’t you go and have any presents for me?
John: That’s hilarious.
Kaitlyn: I know. I think just going overseas, I mean, I went to Mexico with my family when I was three years old. Unfortunately, I don’t remember much of that. When I was in college, we got this opportunity to go overseas on a mission trip to Macedonia. The reason we went was because not only did they have the biggest Gypsy camp in the entire world, in Skopje, which is actually where Mother Teresa grew up and did her missional stuff there, but also we wanted to help a local church there expand and really do a sports camp in order to help grow the church. Because there, you actually can’t publicly say or, I guess, “evangelize” as you would here in the States, which is not normalized here it, but it’s not abnormal to see that happen or against the law necessarily.
We had to go under wraps and say, hey, we’re doing a sports camp, which if you know me, people did laugh at me when I told them what we were doing. I’m not athletic. My friends were like, hold on. You’re going to do what? I was like, listen, I was literally assigned to be the social butterfly with the moms because they knew I was not going to be coordinated enough to do well with kids. These eight-year-olds would be beating me so bad at dodgeball or whatever else they played, which is so true. I even try. I was like, you know what? I’m getting paid by someone else to be here. The last thing you want is my time spent on the court with a child, or I’m going to get my butt whooped, which I guess I could have used the Lord in that process. Oh, man, God is just so merciful that he would let you as an eight-year-old win. Isn’t that just His will? I don’t know. You could have been really funny about it.
John: Yeah. That’s over, I mean, it’s Eastern Europe, sort of.
John: Greece, Bulgaria.
Kaitlyn: Yeah. Okay, sorry. Let me tell you where it is. It’s a country literally right above Greece.
Kaitlyn: Very much, they have this big, we’re not the same but whatever. It’s almost like Texas with Oklahoma. We think that we’re better than Oklahoma. We’re very much the same people. I’ve got so many friends in Oklahoma. It’s this rivalry thing and a lot of politics goes into it. I think just being in cobblestone ground, just seeing architecture that I know has been there, 1200 years, just something crazy like that where all of a sudden my eyes started to be opened up, and I thought, oh my gosh, these people and all these people around, they’re true Macedonians. Who am I? I’m a freaking mutt from Europe, probably. Right? I’m like English, German, Italian probably or whatever.
John: So, Kaitlyn, let’s never forget it.
Kaitlyn: You’re right. You’re right. Me, as a Texan, I’ve got all that pride, man. I just started thinking, and I was like, oh, my gosh. Also, Europeans got it right. They’re cool. I don’t know. I was just like, they’re just the coolest people. I have so much to learn from them. Their food is fresher than ours. Their food is better than ours anyways, or at least Macedonian food was. Although I do like Texas barbecue, don’t get me wrong, I just had it for lunch, but whatever, that’s beside the fact.
Kaitlyn: That’s really when it hit me. I was like, I got to get the freak out of Dallas and out of Texas and just expand my horizons while I can. I’ve got the health and really was, when I graduated from college, I was like, I have a disposable income now. I’ve got, literally, paid time off. I can just go and do this. It really wasn’t until I started working for Ford Baker, he’s owner of Baco Group, they literally do not compensate you if you don’t take PTO because they want you to take PTO.
John: That’s great.
Kaitlyn: They don’t roll it over intentionally because they want people, especially CPAs, to get away from their desks. Guess who started to mooch off that? Me. I, in summer of 2018, I went back overseas. I went to Barcelona for a week with a girlfriend of mine, and we had a freaking blast. Same thing, I fell in love with the culture. The people, they’re so nice, and all of them were from all over. Some of them were Germans. A girl we stayed with in our Airbnb was from Venezuela. We just learned so much about different cultures. Thankfully our common language is English, which, thank goodness. That’s another thing. I think Americans need to learn another language besides English. That’s also on me but whatever.
John: They can also start actually learning English.
Kaitlyn: That’s a whole another political debate. You’re right.
John: Take all the classes I did.
Kaitlyn: You’re right. You’re right.
John: That does give you a different perspective to appreciate things. Is it something that you do talk about with colleagues or clients? Or is it something that comes to the office?
Kaitlyn: Absolutely. Oh, my gosh, I’m known for that. They’re always like, so where are you going next? It’s funny because I really do light up when I talk about it. Before, when we had met, the BDO Alliance, we were talking about how you just have anyone on. I was like, wait, I want to be on your podcast. Can I be on it? I thought I’ll do yoga because I’m very into yoga. I do it at least three to five times a week. I’ve been doing it consistently for about three years, and it clears my head, whatever. Ford, my boss was like, “Kaitlyn, come on. You know it’s traveling.” I was like, gosh, he’s probably right, but he’s also the one that gets, I have to ask him directly for PTO, and it’s all the time.
I’m also a planner. I like to plan out my, as much out in advance as I can, not only for the sake of my employer, but also for the sake of me. It really does help because I’ll crunch, I’ll grind for two months, a month, whatever, and take even a four-day weekend. I’ll come back, and I’m totally different than if I didn’t take it off. I do work harder at work, and I’ve told for that. He can say the same thing, is when you get away, especially because I get such tunnel vision in my Dallas life that is just so fleeting. It can dissolve in two seconds. Not only can, I hate to get super morbid, pass away, whatever, but also it could all crumble in two seconds because of whatever. I really think getting away, for me, is one of the healthiest things I’ve ever done in my life.
When I travel, I’m always with someone I really care about, or I’m going to go see someone I really care about. My goal this next year is to go and do a solo trip and see how I like it, see if I like traveling as much. Even next week, I’m lined up to go see two of my best friends from college in LA, and I’ll spend just four or five days there. I’ve been there, I think, three or four times but, hey, why not go see friends that live in a really cool city and I can mooch off of to go to the beach and hang out with?
Kaitlyn: Yeah. Yeah.
John: That’s very cool. Going back just really quickly on Baco Group, if you don’t take your PTO, then how does that work? Because I think people listening, that’s a simple thing that you can apply where they work.
Kaitlyn: I love that that became implemented because the place I was at before, I didn’t get paid out when I left, and that rocked. I was like, oh, my gosh, it’s more than I expected. I was like, oh, that’s because I didn’t take any PTO, but then I was really tired. Obviously, I needed at least two weeks off before even looking for a job because I spent about nine months, taking one day of PTO. That’s crazy. Looking back, I’m like, man, I can only maybe go a couple of months without taking a one-day PTO now because I’m so, you grind so hard. It’s not healthy for your body and your mind.
Yeah, so they made it a company standard for the sake of our firm really implementing work-life balance. They completely rebranded in 2014 or so. They literally went from being called Baker and Company, to being called Baco Group so that Baker, Ford Baker, who’s the CEO and now my direct boss, he didn’t get contacted as much as everyone else at the group side. So, if they don’t speak to Baker, they don’t feel like they’re being underserved. They rebranded a lot of other things, organizationally and operationally, and that’s one of them, is they said our whole industry is completely, and I know you understand this, being a CPA, is completely overworked and rundown. In order to help that and help also with recruiting expenses, my goodness, again, it’s a big four firms or whatever, we’re going to make it be you have to take PTO. You have to pay for your desk.
I only started out with maybe ten days of PTO. Now I’m up to who knows how many days I have, because I actually had them all rollover from COVID from last year, which I know is against our policy, but no one could take them, which I’m glad I didn’t get paid. I want to use that PTO. I want to see the world now. I’m like, yes, it serves something. For me, it gave me the option to go and have my employer applaud me when I go and take off. How cool is that? That’s someone I want to work under and serve really well, is someone that applauds me for doing something that I really like to do.
John: No, that’s such a great example of you have to take it. If you don’t, then you don’t get it. It’s not like you’re going to be able to cash it out. It doesn’t roll over. It’s just you have these days, and it’s strongly encouraged that you do this, which I think is awesome and such a great example where everyone’s doing it, the leadership and even the new person that just started. We’re all in this. That’s such a great example. Do you have any words of encouragement to anyone listening that maybe has a hobby or a passion but feels like no one cares because it has nothing to do with my job?
Kaitlyn: Oh, my gosh. Yeah. Just very much from what we were talking about before we started recording this is just you have to have one. I would encourage anyone that’s currently in college, talk to someone that is a new grad or, I’m five years out of college now, and just ask them what was the first two years like. Because I don’t know about you, John, but for me, it was really hard. It was grueling. It was exhausting. It was much harder than I thought it was going to be, and a lot of it is because I didn’t have a hobby yet. Right?
Kaitlyn: In college, I was actually really active in a college ministry. I’m really grateful for the opportunity. I obviously still apply it very much to my life every single day, but you’re kind of in camp, all four years. Then you leave camp, then what? There are people that can’t be like you. You’re all of a sudden in the corporate world, and you feel like your joy is getting stolen. It’s like, oh, I guess I should probably do something to fix that. My hobby went from my college ministry and singing there, I sing in the worship team. That was a huge passion of mine. Then all of a sudden, I became really tired after work, and the last thing I wanted to do, unfortunately, was sing. I’ve never experienced that before. I’ve been singing my whole life. Then this passion came along.
I would just recommend finding a network. Gosh, travel, that is literally the most trendy millennial thing you could probably do. I almost hate that it’s my thing that I like because it’s unoriginal to me, but also it’s what clears my head. There’s got to be a network. Heck, there are freaking Facebook groups for everything. I’m also the kind of person that if I meet someone, I like them, I will, two of my best friends I’ve met, and I was like, I like you. I think you’re funny. Can I get your number? Can we grab dinner? I’m just very direct like that. To me, it’s be bold and try to find those people because I think that it is so beyond worth your time and energy. What is one hour a week to devote to this potential passion and figuring it out? It really just fell on my lap, this thing of traveling was an accident.
John: No, but it’s great, and maybe it’ll change over time. It doesn’t have to be the same thing forever, but it’s something.
Kaitlyn: Right, because it used to be singing for me. It’s crazy. I feel almost bad that it’s not, but it really does drain me now. I hate to say that. It’s not that I don’t like music. Of course I like music. Oh, my gosh, I listen to music all day. It’s just not the same passion I have. I’m like, would I rather spend my Sunday mornings traveling or singing in a church? I’m like, ah, probably traveling. Not that I don’t go to church still, your girl definitely does, but you know what I mean. It’s just different now for me. It’s a different mindset, different season, and I think that the Lord blesses that. Just like you, you’ve got so many passions. One of them is ice cream.
John: Totally, which is awesome.
Kaitlyn: Yeah, that’s such a cool passion. I’m almost like, should I start dabbling in it? That sounds so fun.
John: It’s a slippery slope though, watch out.
Kaitlyn: I bet, yeah. I have to have dairy-free ice cream, so that might be a little bit easier for me to do that.
John: Yeah. Elastic waistbands if ice cream is your “and”. I feel like, since we started out the episode, before I close it out, it’s only fair that I turn the tables.
John: Make this the first episode of The Kaitlyn Kirkhart Podcast. Thanks so much for having me on.
Kaitlyn: Oh, my gosh, thanks for having me, John. This has been so stinking fun.
John: Yeah, so whatever you got, if you have any questions for me, I’m all yours.
Kaitlyn: Are you ready? Get prepared.
John: I don’t know if I’m ever going to be ready.
Kaitlyn: They’re pretty crazy. Okay. Would you, John, rather have bug spray or sunscreen on you and you feel it and smell it for the rest of your life?
John: Oh, wow.
Kaitlyn: Speaking from experience. I’m just kidding.
John: Well, since my cologne is coconut, actually probably sunscreen just because it smells tropical or whatever. Bug spray smells.
John: Yeah. Well, it does what it’s supposed to do, but it also repels humans.
Kaitlyn: I need friends. Yeah. For the sake of my sanity and my friendship and not being lonely, I literally think the only option is, process of elimination, it has to be sunscreen. That’s so funny you thought of the smell too, because I thought the same thing. I was like, oh, I wonder if he’ll think of it. You did. You are a smart guy. There was a right answer to that. No, just kidding.
John: All right.
Kaitlyn: All right, next question. Which do you use on a daily basis, a brush or a comb?
Kaitlyn: You use a toothbrush?
John: I just do the hands because.
John: Yeah, I don’t. Yeah, I just get a little bit of goop, whatever it’s called, it’s like a paste sort of thing, and then just rub it in my hands and then just style. When you don’t have a lot of hair, you can get away with that.
Kaitlyn: Pretty nice.
John: Strategically placing it so that then it doesn’t look like you’re your age.
Kaitlyn: I’m trying to like way younger because of the paste in my hair. You’re individually trying to place each hair to look younger.
John: Just don’t get carried away. Yes. Tony Adams is a very funny comedian, and he has a joke. He said, when I was younger, I used to pluck my grays. Now I use them as filler, so it’s like they have to stay.
Kaitlyn: I freaking love that. It’s so funny because I look really young for my age, and I’m very well aware of that. I have to actually style my hair trying to look older. Maybe you and I could come together after this and talk about how we can help each other out.
John: I’m not sure if I can pretty much help.
Kaitlyn: Well we can try.
John: Totally. Totally.
Kaitlyn: Oh, my gosh, that’s so fun. Okay, what color is your toothbrush? Okay, well, I’m glad you know. Actually I don’t know my color. I wrote that down, I was like, I should go home and look at mine.
John: It’s an electric toothbrush. Technically, it’s a cream color, but there’s a little rubber band around where the bottom of the base of the head. I’ll switch out the color to go to blue, blue or green.
Kaitlyn: Is that your favorite color?
Kaitlyn: Man. All right, I know a couple of things about blue.
John: Red, I don’t want to put that in my mouth.
Kaitlyn: Yeah, it’s angry. You need something happy, like a light blue.
John: It tastes like bug spray.
Kaitlyn: Yeah, weird parallel there. I don’t know how that full circle humor came around, but it did.
John: Right. Also, why is he tasting bug spray? That’s gross. I don’t know either.
Kaitlyn: You put it close to your toothpaste. It’s a normal thing. It’s a normal thing.
Kaitlyn: Okay, last question. I’m assuming the answer to this because of where you live, but you never know. Would you vacation at a beach or a mountain?
John: Yeah, that’s a hard one. I would probably say beach only because I live in Colorado, and I can stand in my backyard and see the mountains.
John: It’s not as exotic or as much of a vacation when it’s just right there. The beach involves me getting on an airplane. Of course I can get on an airplane and go to other mountains, but I’m lazy.
John: Airplane to a beach.
Kaitlyn: I feel you. I’m very much a beach gal. I can literally sit on the beach for hours and just act like five minutes has gone by. It’s ridiculous. Not that I don’t like the mountains. Mountains are great, but I’m more of a beach bum myself.
Kaitlyn: I feel you, and I do have to get on an airplane as well.
John: That’s awesome. Very cool. Very cool. I appreciate you being a part of What’s Your “And”?, Kaitlyn. This has been a lot of fun.
Kaitlyn: Yeah. Oh, my gosh, John, it’s been so fun as well and get to know you a little more too.
John: There you go. Everybody listening, if you want to see some pictures of Kaitlyn from her travels or maybe connect with her on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. Everything’s there. While you’re on the page, please click that big button, do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture. Don’t forget to check out the book.
Thanks again for subscribing to the podcast 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.
John is an Accountant & World Traveler
John Bly returns to the podcast from episode 152 to talk about how he maintained his passion for traveling through the pandemic and how it has affected people being more open about their hobbies and passions!
• Places he wants to visit
• Renting an RV
• Places he visited this year
• Noticing more openness about hobbies and passions
Please take 2 minutes
to do John’s anonymous survey
about Corporate Culture!
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Welcome to Episode 342 of What’s Your “And”? Follow-Up Friday Edition. This is John Garrett and 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 has impacted them since we last talked.
I’m so excited. My book is out. You can order it on Amazon, Indigo, barnesandnoble.com, a few other websites. If you’re interested in buying 25 or more maybe for your clients or your team, there’s a form at whatsyourand.com so you can get discounted pricing from my publisher. I’m happy to hook you up with that for sure. Thank you so much to everyone who’s reading it and been kind enough to leave those Amazon reviews. It’s been really cool to see how much of a difference it’s made. 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, John Bly. He’s the managing partner of the South Atlantic region for Aprio. Now, he’s with me here today. John, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
John B: John, thanks for having me. I’m looking forward to having a few laughs and share some fun here over the next little bit.
John G: For sure, man. In Episode 152 two years ago, it does feel like way, way longer. I don’t even know if that’s even a phrase. It’s hard to believe I wrote a book by saying way longer, but anyway, I’m just excited to have you back. I have these rapid fire questions. I have seven that I didn’t ask the first time that maybe I should have, now that I think about it.
John B: It’s 2020 and it’s a whole new world, so two years ago is like a decade ago. So, rapid fire away.
John G: That’s true. Here we go. If you had to choose, Harry Potter or Game of Thrones?
John B: Harry Potter.
John G: Okay. All right. This one’s a tricky one. Brownie or ice cream?
John B: Ice cream. But for some reason, I never got into brownies.
John G: Okay. All right. Fair enough. What’s a typical breakfast? If you say ice cream, super bonus points.
John B: Typical breakfast is a bowl of cereal and a banana.
John G: Okay, healthy. Look at you. Good for you. I know you travel quite a bit. That’s what we talked about before. Would you say planes, trains, or automobiles? Also a good movie.
John B: “You’re going the wrong way.” “How do you know which way I’m going? I’m not going the wrong way.”
John G: Right.
John B: Planes or trains, definitely not automobiles. Either plane or train is good.
John G: Yeah. All right. Since my book is out, are you more Kindle, real book, or Audible?
John B: Real book. I like to be able to touch it and feel it and make notes in it.
John G: Yeah, and I super appreciated you being part of the launch team, man. Thank you again for that. All right, two more. How about a favorite animal, any animal at all?
John B: I’ll say dog just because I like to give hugs and cats run the other way.
John G: Right. There you go. The last one, this is an important one. Toilet paper roll, over or under?
John B: Over. I used to be an under. My wife didn’t like it. I’m an over now.
John G: You don’t have to sleep on the couch tonight. Good for you, man. Good for you. That’s impressive. Well, I remember back when we chatted a couple of years ago, it’s world travel and those cool pictures from Australia, New Zealand, Asia and all the cool places you went even with your family and stuff, which was awesome. So in the last couple of years, has travel still been a thing for you guys?
John B: Yeah, it’s still a huge passion. The kids have been everywhere basically. The only place they haven’t been that they remind me fairly regularly is Antarctica, and they haven’t been to parts of Asia, so they want to get there. Post-pandemic, that’ll definitely be high on the list. I don’t know when we’re going to make it to Antarctica, but Asia is on the list for sure.
John G: Yeah. Have you done Antarctica without them?
John B: I have not. I know some people who have done speaking gigs, so maybe that could be on your list.
John G: In Antarctica. Those penguins are unruly. They’re just brutal.
John B: Yup. It’s one of those things on people’s bucket list, to speak on all seven continents. They’ll go for free, right? They’ll pay their own way just to say they did it.
John G: Right. Exactly. But even in the last nine months, travel obviously has been a little bit tricky, but you guys have still made it happen because that passion is very real.
John B: It is. We did our best to stay “quarantined” for a couple of months, and then as it looked like this thing wasn’t going to be a couple of months and it was going to be longer, the passion in our life had to continue. So the end of June on literally less than two weeks’ notice, we booked an RV. By the way, we’ve never been in an RV before in our lives.
John G: Nice.
John B: We booked an RV. I live in Charlotte, North Carolina. We booked an RV. For those travel enthusiasts, the best place to rent an RV is Phoenix, Vegas, or Denver. For some reason, they have a hundred times more than any other RV outlets in the country to rent.
John G: Okay. Good to know since I live in Denver, so maybe I need to hook myself up with one of these. All right.
John B: So we rented an RV, also didn’t know anything about them. Apparently, there’s a website like an Airbnb that you can actually rent somebody else’s RV.
John G: Oh, okay.
John B: It was half the price of a corporate one. The family of five spent 31 days roaming the West. The only deal my wife and I had — she’s a saint. The only deal we had upfront was Daddy has to work, so that means if I want to enjoy the sights and the sounds and do all the cool things then she has to drive the whole time, so I actually never even started the RV.
John G: Oh, what? You had a personal driver. That’s impressive. You know what, that’s a fair trade-off for the toilet paper. I think that’s fair. I think that’s totally fair.
John B: We could do seven or ten days and I could be totally disconnected, but if we’re going to do 31, I’ve got to be connected. You can appreciate this. I even led a webinar from the back of the RV with my wife driving. I had four screens set up. It was pretty cool.
John G: That’s impressive, man. That’s really cool. Also, that passion is very real and you can’t put that on the side for that long type of a thing, and there’s a workaround. There’s always a way and you made it happen, which is super cool.
John B: I agree. If you’re that passionate about something, there has to be a way, right? Now, we did it as safe as we possibly could. We were staying in the RV and we did it all outdoors. The last time we were together, we traveled the world. This was our travel through the US. We hit a whole bunch of states that certainly the kids hadn’t been to and a few that my wife and I hadn’t been to, so tons of national parks, a positive because we’re all looking for positives in 2020. We were in Yellowstone. One of the advantages of the pandemic, they don’t have large tour buses because nobody’s taken large tour buses. So the sightseeing, it was way less crowded and there was no big buses in front of it. It was perfect.
John G: That’s awesome, man. Yeah, that is a great idea. Was Yellowstone like a highlight or was there something that was also equally cool or fun?
John B: Yeah, Yellowstone was definitely my highlight. The kids were torn between the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone. We spent four days in the Grand Canyon, which was really cool. I had been to the Grand Canyon before, so while it’s absolutely stunning and amazing, I had been there before, so not quite as high on my list. We went to Rocky Mountain National Park. There was some cool dinosaur stuff we did that I didn’t even know existed in the US.
John G: Right. Yeah, just a little bit west of Denver. Yeah, absolutely, man. That is nutty up there because my nephew’s way into dinosaurs, so they bring him up there. He’s six.
John B: You don’t have to be six to love dinosaurs. I love dinosaurs too, John. What are you saying here?
John G: No, I’m just saying he’s way into it. He knows more about dinosaurs than I ever did, and he’s six. I’m like, holy crap, I’m an idiot. His favorite dinosaur is one I can’t even say. How is that? But it is cool, man. That’s awesome. So did you drive all the way from North Carolina then?
John B: The most honestly thing we did, we needed to get on a plane.
John G: But again, there’s no one on planes either.
John B: Correct, so we flew to Arizona, rented the RV. I did a round trip from Phoenix, 31 days, about 6500 miles, and it was awesome. We hit it all really with seriously less than two weeks to plan. You could tell that the summer was going to be slow compared to what we’re used to, so we said let’s find something that fits us. Travel is definitely that passion, so how do we do it in a way that is still a lot of fun? Yeah, I definitely wouldn’t take it back. It was an amazing experience.
John G: That’s so fun. Plus, two weeks’ notice, one, you guys are avid travelers anyway. But two, when you’re driving, it’s super easy. You pull out the map or go on the internet and you’re like, “Hey, this is just an hour that way. Let’s go.” “Okay, cool,” just being nimble on your feet. That’s a great example for your kids as well to see that.
John B: It was and it was a totally different type of experience than we had ever done because you’re right, we did have to be nimble. We were headed out of Idaho towards California to spend the last five days down there in California line, and it really wasn’t open. Ironically, we’re pursuing this and it’s still not really open. We really couldn’t get in to California, so we pivoted and we spent a bunch more time in Utah instead. It taught some life lessons about being a little bit nimble and being creative and just living in the moment. The kids all really enjoyed it and it got them out of the stress of being home and doing all that stuff that happens in 2020.
John G: Right. Yeah, what a cool story and something that all of you will remember forever. That’s awesome, man. That’s super cool. Do you feel like people are sharing their hobbies and passions more now than they did a couple of years ago when we first talked?
John B: I do think so. I’m an avid golfer. The club that I’m a member of, there were 6000 more rounds through the end of August at the club than there had been ever in any year.
John G: Oh my goodness, and that’s only in eight months.
John B: Yeah, so I think people are definitely trying to find — they’re having — what I’ll say is more free time because a lot of people aren’t commuting back and forth. A lot of people are not having the types of social calendars that they historically had. And so they’re filling it with the passions that they’re pretty strong about. I hope that people are. If not then they’re having a worse 2020 than I am. That’s for sure.
John G: Right. Yeah. The other thing too is with all these video calls that we’ve had, we’ve had coworkers in our homes now, so they see the things on the walls or the painting or whatever you have in the background and ask about that. It’s been cool to see how this message is even more relevant in the last nine months where the band aid was just straight ripped off, where you can’t put on the facade in the office anymore. You’re at home. The kids need to get home-schooled. They can’t log on. The Amazon deliveries come in. The dog is going nuts. It’s just crazy and that’s life and that’s who we are. We’re all just human, so it’s been neat to see how it’s played out for sure.
John B: I think there are some people who found some new passions, too. For whatever reason that I can’t even think of, maybe there was something. Certainly, peloton is an example of people who have found their passion in exercise that maybe didn’t have it before.
John G: That is an excellent example where everyone else is doing it, so I guess I need to jump on, too, but then you find out it’s also healthy and it’s fun and all that. Yeah, that is true, a lot of new things. I think a lot of it is we just tell ourselves not to do something. My wife, she has always been really creative but let it slip, just wasn’t doing it as much, and then just got into painting. People are actually buying her paintings. They’re really good. I’m like, what? This is awesome. Yeah, it’s just cool to see her just light up from that because she has a different energy now from being able to do your passions, which is cool. So to everybody listening, just do it. Do you have any encouragement for people listening that maybe think, “My passion, no one’s going to care about” or “It has nothing to do with my job, so why talk about it?”
John B: Oh, definitely. I think in 2020, I think that people have shared more of their passions with other people and that everyone is looking for — well, maybe everyone’s an exaggeration, but almost everyone is looking for where they belong. Where’s their tribe? What is the group that also believes or thinks or does what I like? I think that that’s super helpful when you think about going from community building, which is something that the human race generally likes, to then being more socially distant, et cetera. Then finding a way, whether that’s online or whatever, to be able to find people with similar passions really is something that I think they ought to dive in and chase.
John G: Absolutely. Then if some of those people have the similar passions that you work with then that’s extra magic. The engagement is so much higher. It just works better in the end. So not only have it, but share it is a huge key. That’s awesome, man, so cool. It’s been so fun catching up with you, John. But it’s only fair since I started out the episode with my rapid fire questions that I turn the tables and make this the first episode of The John Bly Podcast. Thanks so much for having me on as a guest. I appreciate it.
John B: Absolutely. I heard there was an AICPA conference recently.
John G: Yeah, just last week.
John B: There may have been some interesting banter that you led. Do you mind giving a little insight as to the humor that was shown?
John G: Oh my goodness. Yeah, the Digital CPA Conference, they had me kick it off the night before the conference was, so I did an hour of a little bit of standup. Then we did like a Family Feud game, which was really fun and interactive. I always ask these open-ended questions kind of Family Feud style, and one of the questions was besides your significant other, name something you bring along on a date. Most of the answers were taken. One lady said a condom, and it was hilarious because I’m pretty positive that a lot of people never thought that that word would ever be said at an AICPA event, but leave it to me to make that magic happen. I, of course, quickly pivoted and turned it into risk management, which seems a little more user-friendly for the AICPA crowd or CPA.com crowd. Yeah, it was super fun. Everybody that was there had a lot of good laughs and all the nice comments. It was really, really fun to see.
John B: What’s the most random — you’re now an author. What’s the most random experience you’ve had with it whether somebody was like, “Oh my gosh, I read your book” and it wasn’t like the epiphany moment, but something totally random, or the strangest comment you’ve received about it.
John G: I would say that probably from parents who had their kids just leave for college, how much the book applied to them, maybe the stay-at-home parents that their identity was lacrosse mom or whatever, soccer dad, the parent that stays home that helps take care of the kids. So now that the kids went away to college, it’s, “Well, what’s my identity now? What are my passions?” and just realizing that it applies to not just corporate professionals. It applies to just everybody really. That was really something that hit me. I was like, wow, this is a lot bigger than I thought it was. That was cool where it was like, wow, I didn’t even realize how much it would resonate with that. Even people that are doctors, they’re never really taught how to manage people. They’re taught medicine until they’re 30 and then it’s, “Okay. Now, go run a business and be in charge of it.” I think it’s helpful for them as well. It’s such a simple thing to just ask people what their “and” is, what lights you up, and then care about them. I guess that would be probably the most random thing where I did not see that come in at all.
John B: That’s awesome. Well, it’s great that you’re making that sort of impact on people’s lives. It’s probably very rewarding to hear the feedback as well.
John G: Yeah, it is. Well, it’s also rewarding that people are reading it. That’s why you spend two years writing a book. I wrote it in a very conversational way so then it’s easy to read. It’s not a cumbersome task where it’s like, “Oh, this is hard.” No. It’s actually — some people have even said they’ve read it twice already, which is kind of cool. There you go.
John B: Last question. The vaccine happens and you’re totally clear to do whatever. What’s the first thing you’re going to do 2021?
John G: Wow. The first thing —
John B: And no dollar limit. Pretend it’s all free.
John G: Probably, honestly, this might be — this isn’t super exciting, but my parents live in an assisted living home here, so they’ve been completely locked down. I’ll probably take them out to dinner because it’s hard on us, but on them, it’s got to be even — I can’t even imagine. So probably just take my parents out to dinner would be the first thing, and then go to Antarctica so I could tell your kids I’ve been before they did. I’m kidding, man. This has been so much fun, John. Thanks so much for taking time to be a part of What’s Your “And”?
John B: Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
John G: Awesome. Everybody, if you want to see some pictures of John on his adventures or 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 to the anonymous research survey about corporate culture, and don’t forget to get the book. It makes an excellent holiday present, if I say so myself.
Thanks again for subscribing to the podcast 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.