The Change Your Mindset Podcast

Welcome to the Change Your Mindset podcast, hosted by Peter Margaritis, CPA, AKA The Accidental Accountant. Peter is a speaker, expert in applied improvisation and author of the book 'Improv Is No Joke, Using Improvization to Create Positive Results in Leadership and Life'. Peter's new book, Taking the Numb Our of Numbers: Explaining & Presenting Financial Information with Confidence and Clarity will be published in June 2018.

S3E5. An Improviser’s Approach to COVID-19 with Jay Sukow

Friend of the show Jay Sukow is an improv coach, and although improv is probably not the first thing you turn to or think of in a crisis, he has some great tips for dealing with our current situation.

We are all dealing with the stress of the unknown circumstances regarding the coronavirus pandemic. Improv has always been an incredibly impactful way to deal with the daily stressors of life and — in the midst of this global situation — is more useful than ever in helping to cope with overwhelming levels of stress.

Finding our new normal

The improviser’s mindset is not to hold on to anything too dearly because everything is changing all the time. You have to be willing to let go of what doesn’t serve you anymore and move forward with new information. We are constantly being updated with new information right now.

“One of the things that helps me in these situations,” Jay says, “is reminding yourself to stay present, stay present, stay present.” You have to take inventory of what is an immediate threat right now. Look at each situation individually. Rent is due eventually, but is it due now? Don’t ignore that it’s going to need to be paid eventually, but train yourself to take in each thing moment to moment.

Breathwork is another thing that’s going to help you stay present. Put down your phone, breathe in for four seconds, and breathe out for four seconds. You’ll be amazed at what this can do to calm your system.

Getting out of your head

Stress isn’t doing us any favors. If you’re crawling up in your head, it’s hard to get back out. If you can think of your worries as two big, heavy suitcases, imagine that at the end of the night you are putting them down and letting go of all those worries.

Another thing to be aware of is how much screen time you are having right now. Whether it’s social media or the news, you’re bound to be exposed to more and more stress. Limit your time to just a few minutes a day. You can still catch up on all the news without worrying over every update.

When you’re feeling those heavy feelings, it can be helpful to figure out what the truth of the situation is right now. How are you feeling? When you can start naming your feelings, it helps you get out of your head even more.

The world needs improv

The world needs improvisers now more than ever, whether it’s your mindset, the focus on the group, or just to bring laughter to a situation. This is very serious and people are being affected by this, people are dying, and there is sadness and anxiety around that. But improvisers can bring empathy to the situation and look at it as an opportunity to share that empathy and to share that joy and that hope and that love. That is something the world can’t get enough of right now.

Resources:

Transcript:

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Jay Sukow: [00:00:08] I mean, we need to laugh now more than ever.

Peter Margaritis: [00:00:11] Right. Right.

Jay Sukow: [00:00:13] And like a friend of mine said, you know, this self-quarantine doesn’t have to mean self-isolation.

Peter Margaritis: [00:00:19] Right. Yeah.

Jay Sukow: [00:00:21] And that’s something, you know, you got to kind of just look at it as like you’re establishing a new normal.

Peter Margaritis: [00:00:27] You think like that? I think like that. Most the population doesn’t think like that. Adaptability and trying not to use the word pivot because it’s being overused now in this situation, but the ability to adapt to a changing landscape is very, very difficult for a lot of people, period.

Jay Sukow: [00:00:47] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:00:48] Us, we can do it on a dime.

Jay Sukow: [00:00:52] Well, it’s also, you know, for us, in addition to the improviser mindset, it’s also your life and how long you’ve been freelancing.

Peter Margaritis: [00:01:04] Yeah.

Jay Sukow: [00:01:05] And, you know, this whole terminology now of like the gig economy, it’s like I’ve been doing the gig economy for almost 30 years. And so, in this situation, it’s like that’s kind of prepared me. You know, you’re in—we’re in a state of fear because it’s also—it’s not just fear of this unseen enemy, it’s fear also of the unknown. And, you know, if you sit down and you list out all the concerns, they’re very valid and real, it’s like, "What am I to do for work?"

Jay Sukow: [00:01:38] What if you’re someone who’s a—you know, you work at a fast food restaurant or you work at a coffee shop or you’re a driver of some sort and you can’t go out, it’s not like—you know, there are some people who can’t transfer their work online. So, how do you keep that mindset? And they’ll look at this as like, you know, to accept—I think it’s you accept the fact that, yeah, everything is very scary right now, it’s very uncertain. Whatever happens, there are going to be some pretty cool opportunities that come of it.

Jay Sukow: [00:02:11] Now, you might not know what it is right now, and that’s the thing. If people knew right now, I think they’d feel a lot better. But because you don’t know, you’re dealing in these unchartered waters. I mean, literally, in at least our lifetimes and recent human history, this is unchartered. I mean, this is something that went from, you know, what is this thing that doesn’t affect me, too? Now, I’m quarantined.

Peter Margaritis: [00:02:36] Right.

Jay Sukow: [00:02:36] And now, how do you deal with it? How do you keep up your sanity? How do you keep up your spirits? How do you keep up staying outside of that? That could be easily be falling down that spiral, into that abyss of like, "Oh, man, I don’t know how I’m going to pay rent, I don’t know how I’m going to survive. I mean, those are very real concerns.

Peter Margaritis: [00:03:03] Welcome to Change Your Mindset podcast, formerly known as Improv is No Joke, where it’s all about believe that strong communication skills are the best way in delivering your technical accounting knowledge and growing your business. An effective way of building stronger communication skills is by embracing the principles of applied improvisation. Your host is Peter Margaritis, CPA a.k.a. The Accidental Accountant. And he will interview financial professionals and business leaders to find their secret in building stronger relationships with their clients, customers, associates, and peers, all the while growing their businesses. So, let’s start the show.

Peter Margaritis: [00:03:50] Welcome, everyone. I’m recording this episode on Wednesday, March 18th, 2020, to be released on March 30th. And I’m aware that the coronavirus landscape will have changed and we may be dealing with the peak of this pandemic in the US at this point in time. We’re all dealing with the stress of this unknown. And think about how I can provide an alternative method of dealing with this stress? Improv, as always, helped me, my family and my friends in our daily dealing with the COVID-19 stress, as well as dealing with everyday stress with that, the coronavirus.

Peter Margaritis: [00:04:30] So, my guest today is Jay Sukow, who’s also my improv coach. And Jay’s going to share some tips on how to deal with our current situation. Jay will gladly talk endlessly about how much better the world would be if everyone just took one improv class. Jay began teaching for Second City in 2010 and teaches in both the improv and conservatory programs. He’s also a facilitator of Second City Works, teaching improv to business professionals in order to drive behavior change.

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:02] Previously, he was on faculty at the Second City Chicago, IO Chicago, and Comedy Sports Chicago. He’s performed professionally for over 25 years and get his start on stages of the Second City Northwest, where he spent two years performing both original and archive material. He’s also been seen on several improv and sketch comedy teams, too numerous to mention. He has taught and performed improv and sketch comedy throughout the world, including big IF4, Copenhagen International Improv Festival, Edinburgh Festival Fringe and the Del Close Marathon.

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:40] He’s been on several podcasts, including Tales of the Teachers Lounge, Improv Yak, Improv Nerd and ADD Comedy, and was featured in the improv documentary, Weather the Weather. Jay’s a great guy. He’s got great information. And I hope this episode will provide you some new ways or new ways to think about how we deal with our current stress levels in dealing with this coronavirus pandemic.

Announcer: [00:06:11] This podcast is part of the C-Suite Radio Network, turning the volume up on business.

Peter Margaritis: [00:06:18] Now, let’s get to the interview with Jay Sukow. Welcome, everybody. My guest today is, and he’s a repeat offender on this show, Mr. Jay-.

Jay Sukow: [00:06:31] I keep coming on.

Peter Margaritis: [00:06:32] Keep coming on. I love it when you come on, Jay Sukow. And Jay is a professional improviser, as you’ve heard already in his bio that I’ve included at the introduction of this podcast. And actually, we’re going to get right to the conversation. And so, first, Jay, welcome. Thank you.

Jay Sukow: [00:06:50] Thanks.

Peter Margaritis: [00:06:50] I’m sitting on the beach in Malibu and Jay is hunkered down somewhere in LA. My backdrop is the actual beach in Malibu. So, I’m trying to, you know, have that kind of mindset, that kind of emotion coming out, just to—versus looking at the back of my wall, just have some calmness out there for you. Jay, welcome. Thank you very much. Looking forward to this conversation, buddy.

Jay Sukow: [00:07:14] Peter, thank you. And look at that. It’s just—you’re right up the street. Look at that background. The blue skies, the birds, the water. Oh, wonderful. At home.

Peter Margaritis: [00:07:27] And there’s nobody on the beach as well.

Jay Sukow: [00:07:29] No. I mean, that’s pretty accurate.

Peter Margaritis: [00:07:31] It is pretty accurate.

Jay Sukow: [00:07:31] Everyone’s inside. Thanks for having me.

Peter Margaritis: [00:07:36] Oh, thanks. Thanks for taking the time. I know you’ve got a lot of going on in trying to figure out our new normal as it exists. But as an improviser for 30 years, I’ve learned so much from you and our interactions over this past year. How can we help my audience in dealing with this new normal? And it’s not even new. I mean, it’s new, but it hasn’t become that normal because it’s rapidly changing.

Jay Sukow: [00:08:11] Yeah, I think that that’s the key phrase right now, it’s like new normal. And, you know, as improvisers, we have a mindset that like don’t hold on to anything dearly because everything changes.

Peter Margaritis: [00:08:23] Right.

Jay Sukow: [00:08:23] And you have to let go of that which doesn’t serve you anymore, and then move forward with new information. And we are constantly being updated new information right now. And so, I think one of the things that helps me in these situations is, you know, reminding yourself to stay present, stay present, stay present. What’s happening right now? What is an immediate threat to me right now? You know, I look at something like rent. It’s like, "Well, do I have to pay rent right now?"

Jay Sukow: [00:08:55] Right now, I don’t, Now, let’s not ignore the fact that it’s going to happen, but if you could stay present and you just—you’re trying to train yourself to take things moment to moment. So, moment to moment, realizing everything’s going to change. And another way to do that is to, you know, focus on breathing. Sometimes, I just take a moment, you know, turn off your computer or your phone and just breathe in for a four count, and then breathe out for a four count.

Jay Sukow: [00:09:23] And you’ll be amazed at what that does. It also keeps you in the moment, which is one of the biggest things right now because there’s so much uncertainty. There’s so much—if you thought your life was uncertain before, now, it’s like, oh, man, now, it’s not just uncertainty of things you can do, but it’s uncertainty of things that are happening all around you. So, I think take a breath. Another thing that can help with this is, you know, find those people who will bring you joy.

Jay Sukow: [00:09:49] I had a friend and he said, you know, this whole self-quarantine doesn’t mean to isolate yourself. You know, it’s not a self-isolation. So, take a moment. And I got a call from my friend, Dave, last week just saying, "Hey, how you doing?" And it was such a wonderful gesture of him to reach out and just go, "Hey, I’m just checking in", especially when you’re in the similar boat, if you’re both freelancers or if you’re both accountants or if you both work in an office or you have the more shared experiences, then the more you could just let out what your fears and concerns are.

Peter Margaritis: [00:10:22] And I’ll be transparent with you, Jay. I’m really good about being present and being in the moment and trying to focus on the things that I can control, but I slipped yesterday. I got out of being present. And I went down this path. And-

Jay Sukow: [00:10:38] It’s fun, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:10:39] No.

Jay Sukow: [00:10:39] It’s a bit fun.

Peter Margaritis: [00:10:40] Not one bit. I love following the fear.

Jay Sukow: [00:10:43] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:10:44] But this was getting outside of I think just getting, all of a sudden, caught up in this rush of—and it wasn’t a good thing. And the only way I could get myself out of it and you just shared, I said, "Take a breath, dummy."

Jay Sukow: [00:10:58] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:10:58] "Just breathe", because I wasn’t breathing.

Jay Sukow: [00:11:01] And you—and it’s so hard to get out of it.

Peter Margaritis: [00:11:03] Yeah.

Jay Sukow: [00:11:03] You know, you have to—it’s, you know, what we’re trying to do as improvisers, is we’re always trying to get out of our heads.

Peter Margaritis: [00:11:10] Right.

Jay Sukow: [00:11:11] And once you get up in there and you climb up in your head, it’s hard to get out. And you’re very smart, so you will—your brain wants to always be right. So, your brain wants to say things like, "Well"—you know, like your brain doesn’t want to say, "Hey, man, everything’s going to be fine. You survive. You’re a survivor. Things are going to look different, but you’re going to be okay." Like you start now looking around to it. There are examples of—I think in general, humanity wants to take care of itself and wants to protect the herd.

Peter Margaritis: [00:11:45] Right.

Jay Sukow: [00:11:45] And so, there are examples happening all over. There was a guy on Twitter who said, "Hey, you know, F the coronavirus. If you have a bill you aren’t able to pay, post it here, give me your Venmo." And then, that started the chain of he started paying people’s bills, and then people would follow him, and then people would say like, "Oh, I got that bill for you." So, people started helping each other out. There’s a lot of resources as well that you can reach out to in your city or county or state, where you can find ways to help, you know.

Jay Sukow: [00:12:16] So, I think things are slowly starting to change. I think there’s becoming—there are certain landlords as well that are saying, "Hey, can you—if you can only pay me half or maybe not this month", like—but what you have to realize with that as well is like all those people have mortgages that they have to pay. So, I think there are these examples where we’re starting to slowly take care of ourselves, but it’s going to take a while. This was something that, you know, people didn’t take seriously for a while. And now, all of a sudden, it’s like, "Oh, man, now, it’s here."

Jay Sukow: [00:12:50] So, that’s adding to the nervousness. But yeah, like you said, if you could take a moment and take a breath, sometimes it’s—I remember I had a therapist who said, "Imagine you have two big—visualize two big suitcases, heavy, heavy suitcases. At the end of the night, visualize your—just say to yourself, ‘I’m done’, and visualize putting them down." And then, that represents all the burdens you’re carrying in the day. Just go, "I’m done. I’ve done enough today." And it’s something that really has helped me, where I go, "All right. I’m spiraling. I’m thinking about all of what’s happening right now." I’m only focused on the bad because, you know, it’s just my brain’s way of focusing on surviving.

Peter Margaritis: [00:13:34] Right.

Jay Sukow: [00:13:35] But if I can say, "Hey, wait a minute, let me put these down right now, these heavy thoughts. I’m going to put these down." And another thing is, you know, how much screen time are you having? Because the more I go on social media, especially Twitter, or the more that I see all this stress and anxiety pop up.

Peter Margaritis: [00:13:56] Right.

Jay Sukow: [00:13:56] So, like another thing is can you limit your amount of time you’re on social media because that just accelerates the anxiety?

Peter Margaritis: [00:14:05] And for old folks like myself and older baby boomers like myself who’s still stuck to like TV in the morning, watching the news and stuff, I did that this morning, I said, "I’m going to watch the first 10 minutes of the Today Show and that’s it."

Jay Sukow: [00:14:20] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:14:20] I’m going to work.

Jay Sukow: [00:14:21] That’s great. That’s great. I think like, first, you know, if you want to do the first—you know, set a time like the first few minutes in the day or at the end. You can go online at the end of the night.

Peter Margaritis: [00:14:31] Yeah.

Jay Sukow: [00:14:32] And you can get a recap of everything that’s happened in a very short amount of time.

Peter Margaritis: [00:14:36] Right.

Jay Sukow: [00:14:36] So, there are things you have in your control of things you can do to kind of limit your exposure to that anxiety.

Peter Margaritis: [00:14:44] Well, the one quote that you said, I’m giving you credit for it because I think it came from you in one of our conversations, "Improvise the scene you’re in, not the one you wanted to be."

Jay Sukow: [00:14:57] Yeah. And that’s, you know—any of the quotes I say, as you know, are not mine. I don’t have a single original thought. I heard that from someone. Well, I mean, a lot of these, like I’m sharing from other people I know.

Peter Margaritis: [00:15:10] Right.

Jay Sukow: [00:15:10] And it’s true. That’s the one—that’s a great philosophy of life. It’s not the time we want right now, but it’s the time we’re in. And it’s all to do with, you know—and I’ve been thinking a lot about acceptance. And for a lot of people, acceptance might equal weakness. And it’s like, no, acceptance is a very brave and strong thing to do. It’s like I’m accepting the situation I’m in. Once I’ve accepted it, then I can make decisions based on it. But when I’m not accepting the reality, I’m just struggling.

Peter Margaritis: [00:15:39] Right.

Jay Sukow: [00:15:39] When I don’t want to accept what’s happening, it’s like, well, that gets me in trouble. But if I can accept it now, I can respond to it. And I think we’re in this constant state of just being in response to.

Peter Margaritis: [00:15:50] Yeah. And I will admit that every—since this started, "Improvise the scene that you’re in, not the one that you wanted to be", Is what I said at the very beginning of my day. And to your point, when I put the suitcases down at the end of the day. And just to route in order to—okay. So, apparently, I had a problem yesterday because it helped keep me present and focused on how am I dealing with this and not getting stuck, like you said, up in your head. And-

Jay Sukow: [00:16:16] And with that, be compassionate for ourselves. Like this is all a huge, very steep learning curve. And so, if something happens during the day and you get frustrated with yourself, whether it’s like I wasn’t present or I didn’t handle things a certain way or I wish I could have, you know, the old phrase like, "You’re should-ing all over yourself", like, "I should have done this, I should have done that", you know.

Peter Margaritis: [00:16:42] I’m glad you verified that.

Jay Sukow: [00:16:44] Yes.

Peter Margaritis: [00:16:45] You’re should-ing-

Jay Sukow: [00:16:46] You’re should-ing all over yourself, man. What my friend says, "You’re practicing the art of must-urbation." Like, "I must do this, I must do that." It’s like if you can let go of those and you say, okay, I shouldn’t have done anything, I did what I did. Sometimes, if the opportunity presents itself next time, I’ll change my response. But what I did, I have to accept that that’s what I did. And now, it’s time to continue to move forward and build this momentum.

Jay Sukow: [00:17:14] And sometimes, you know, I had a therapist once who said, "Jay, if you’re depressed, be the best depressed you can be." And I was like, "Man, forget you." But what? And I was like, "I don’t want that." And I went, "Oh, right. That’s the problem. I don’t want to sit in this emotion. I don’t want to feel this. I want to be happy all the time. I feel like I’m entitled." And it’s like, no, that’s not the way it is. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or you’re feeling depressed like it will all change, but you just sit in it and you go, "Eventually, this, I’ll ride this out."

Jay Sukow: [00:17:52] You know, the friend of mine once told me like, "Just tie a knot and hold on." And sometimes, that involves other people. You know, when it’s very hard for people to reach out, it’s very hard for us to reach out sometimes. And I’d say like, "Hey, I need help" or like, "I’m not feeling well" or—but you’re just like in an improv scene, you’re just calling out what the truth is. And those scenes are always more fascinating when someone says like, "Hey, you look sad", rather than we’re trying to hide what’s going on. It’s like, "What’s the truth that’s happening right now?" versus, you know, in improve scenes, we talk about truth and fact, where it’s like, the fact is we’re at the Starbucks, but that’s not the truth.

Jay Sukow: [00:18:30] You know, the fact is we’re in the situation where there is now becoming a lot more like a self-quarantine and we don’t know what’s happening, like that’s the fact, but what’s the truth? Like what are you feeling? Like when you can start naming those feelings, you start getting out of your head even more, you know, get out of your head, into your heart. Like, "How are you feeling right now?" And another thing that helps my friend and this, to me, goes a lot with improv is playing from a sense of gratitude.

Peter Margaritis: [00:18:56] Yeah.

Jay Sukow: [00:18:56] When I improvised with people and I walk into a scene like I’m very grateful to have this moment with you right now. Like, if you have—if you change that mindset, and it’s very difficult. But if you change it to like this is a sense of gratitude, I don’t know why this is a good thing right now, but I’m grateful for this situation. And then, you know, you look at it and you go, "Maybe now is the time I get—I’m finally forced to do this thing."

Jay Sukow: [00:19:22] Like I wonder how many people are going to try to really learn guitar now. I’m thinking about that a lot. How many people have guitars and they’re like, they’ve been trying, they’ve wanted to learn it, wanted to learn it. And now, finally, they might find themselves with some free time. You know, another thing that helps with this is establishing the new routine. You know, treating the day like it’s still a workday.

Peter Margaritis: [00:19:46] Right.

Jay Sukow: [00:19:46] Like for me, it’s still a workday. Most of my time when I’m like, let’s say I’m looking for work or I’m reaching out to people, I’m kind of doing the schedule anyway. So, establish what your new routine is, even if you just write it down. Like writing things down, it’s amazing because a lot of times, those things happen once you write them down, but you put them in the light and you’re like, "Okay, now, I can look back to what’s my routine."

Jay Sukow: [00:20:10] And, you know, maybe—and everything changes. Everything is going day-to-day so that the improviser is able to be more flexible because that’s what our instinct is or we’ve been trained to do, is like, "Okay, everything is—what’s happening today, not going to be the same tomorrow." I’m undergoing some training with one of the theaters I work with and they’re always saying, "This is for today."

Peter Margaritis: [00:20:32] Yeah.

Jay Sukow: [00:20:33] And everything’s going to change. And, you know, now, we’re trying to teach improv online. And I’m finding it fascinating because for years, I always thought I’d love to be able to improvise with someone who’s not in my city, a friend of mine who moved away. It’s how—and it’s like, how can we make that happen? And now, we’re forced to make it happen. So, for us, it’s—in a way, it’s scary, but in another way, oh, this is really exciting because also as a teacher, how fun is you don’t have to leave your house and you can still affect people and you can still teach people. And now, you just—you know, it’s forcing you to be more creative and innovative. I mean, this is forced innovation right now in my area of business. It’s the same for you.

Peter Margaritis: [00:21:13] Yeah.

Jay Sukow: [00:21:13] Same for like anybody, this is like forced innovation. And you look at it and you go, "Okay, I need to do this. This is what I’ve been doing. Is there a way I can adapt or change this to fit what this new world is?" And right now, the new world is going into these virtual meetings. Now, I think once things settle a little bit, we’ll get back to having these in-person needs, but I think this is a valuable tool set that we can have to say, "Okay, now, here’s another offering I have, which I didn’t have before."

Peter Margaritis: [00:21:46] And to a sense of gratitude, and improviser is very good at doing that, to the fact of, "Okay, I’m pretty proficient with them, in virtual meetings, and I’ve taught online courses and I’ve built-"

Jay Sukow: [00:21:57] Look at your background.

Peter Margaritis: [00:21:59] I know, seriously.

Jay Sukow: [00:22:00] Green screen monster.

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:02] Exactly.

Jay Sukow: [00:22:02] And it’s great.

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:03] So, I contacted an association and said, "Hey, how can I help you and your members? This is my expertise. And your members are being forced into a virtual environment that they’re not accustomed to. Utilize me. I’m not charging you. I’m not asking for any money. I’m here to help you and your members."

Jay Sukow: [00:22:27] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:27] And it was very quick to move to that mindset. It was almost—I mean, I was brainstorming with a few of my speaker friends and someone made a comment, "Perfect. I love it. Let’s do it." I mean, that’s the thing.

Jay Sukow: [00:22:40] Right. Because they’re improvisers. Whether they’re performers or not, they have the mindset.

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:44] Yeah.

Jay Sukow: [00:22:44] And it’s changing that mindset to saying, "Yeah, let’s do it." And not just, "Let’s do it, but how can it work?"

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:51] Yeah. And another thing you said about playing the guitar, thank you for placing that in my head. But actually, three weeks ago, when I realized my business was beginning, to things were canceling, my mother and family have always wanted me to learn Greek because I only know the dirty words.

Jay Sukow: [00:23:09] Those are the best words.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:10] Well, the best words and my grandmother taught them to me. So, I went out and got a lifetime subscription to Rosetta Stone at a one-time cost. And I’ve been—now, I got to let the secret out. I’ve been teaching myself Greek on and off of the last three weeks. Who knows what’s going to happen in like another three months?

Jay Sukow: [00:23:29] I think that’s a great example, where you’re looking at, this is like—these are acknowledge the fear, acknowledge the anxiety.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:37] Yeah.

Jay Sukow: [00:23:37] Be like, "Yeah, absolutely. I’m very anxious."

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:39] So, for some people, it’s writing this down. Some people is just thinking it, some people is saying it out loud. Once you’ve acknowledged it and you say, "Yeah, there’s a lot of uncertainty, I’m very scared", now, you move into, what can you do? What actually can you do? And you’re a perfect example of like, "I’m going to learn Greek. I’m going to do this. I’m going to purchase this. And I’m going to be of service." Like I have a scoop that I’m going to share with you.

Peter Margaritis: [00:24:05] Okay.

Jay Sukow: [00:24:05] It’s that—and I’m going to reach out to some people I have as far as like people that I coach or clients or things like that, and it’s until this whole thing settles, I’m going to start offering free sessions to be like, "Hey, we’re all in this together. If it’s a situation where you can’t pay, that’s fine." Like—and I’ll just start reaching out to the improv community and say, I want to have these one-on-one sessions with people and say, "What do you really need to work at? Let’s do that", right? And like, "Let’s spend this time doing it." It’s going to help me—I mean, it’s—in a way, it’s a selfish reason because it’s going to help me become more comfortable with online teaching.

Peter Margaritis: [00:24:38] Right.

Jay Sukow: [00:24:39] But in another way, it’s like I want to be able to be of service and that’s something I learned in improv is you’re of service to the show, you’re of service to your scene partner. How can it be of service right now? And what you said when you reach out to the associations, perfect example. It’s like, "Let’s be of service to each other right now." There are things we can and can’t do. Like right now, a lot of my friends and myself and you as well, a lot of people are seeing their incomes dry up. So, you go, okay, that’s the reality of situation.

Peter Margaritis: [00:25:08] Yeah.

Jay Sukow: [00:25:08] If I self-isolate, it’s going to be a lot worse. I’m going to feel a lot worse. And it’s going to be on top of everything that’s happening now. It’s going to be harder for me to get out of that crevice. It’s going to be harder once I’m in it. Once I’m in my head and once I go, "Oh, man, this is it, it’s the end, I’m not going to survive", it’s so hard for me to get out of that. But if I can maintain this momentum and still do things and say, "Hey, you know, I’m very grateful for this opportunity."

Jay Sukow: [00:25:36] Now, I think you’re still accepting what’s happening, but I think it’s changing that mindset, you know, which is like one of your big focuses, like how do you change that mindset? And it’s a muscle. You know, you’re also dealing with X amount of years of thinking a certain way, whether that’s X amount of years of like I come into this office every day, this is my job and I’m rewarded for it. Like that’s your mindset then, it’s all changing now. So, you can hold on to it or you can let go of what that is because it doesn’t serve you. Now, I move on to something new.

Peter Margaritis: [00:26:09] Right. It’s just being adaptable to a very changing landscape. And I will say this, I’ll offer this up, I’m intrigued by taking improv online to bringing it as a function of an online-so, if you need to collaborate with me about online environments, I’d love to help you guys with that because that’s fascinating to me.

Jay Sukow: [00:26:32] I also have a friend, too, who’s like she does online, like online universities.

Peter Margaritis: [00:26:38] Yeah.

Jay Sukow: [00:26:38] So, I had mentioned something. She goes, "Yeah, I’m interested, too." So, it’s like, okay, you know how it works that way. Now, reaching out to you, Peter, to be like, okay, how does it work with like the interaction, like having that discussion? And I think it’s forcing people to move in that direction and to go like this, you know—and I think the issue for years for us improvisers is you have to change how you look at it. You can’t look at it like how do we adapt these games that work well live into this format. You have to look at it, no, how do we adapt this—use this format? This is the format. What can we do knowing that here are the formats and here are the limitations? But here are the things that we couldn’t do in person that we can do now based on technology. It’s a very exciting time.

Peter Margaritis: [00:27:25] It’s funny you should say that because a friend of mine who’s a CPA and an improviser, Kristen Rampe, when I met her about three years ago, we were talking, you know, "We should kind of get, you know, an improv troupe together of accountants." We’ll be like two of us or five of us, it’s not that many. And we know people around the country, but we did know—and we’re not in the same city. And we kept—we should do this online. And we kept trying to think through how would we—how would this work?

Jay Sukow: [00:27:55] You know what you do?

Peter Margaritis: [00:27:57] And we weren’t forced into it. But now that-

Jay Sukow: [00:27:58] You’re not forced into it.

Peter Margaritis: [00:27:59] Yeah.

Jay Sukow: [00:28:00] And you know what you do is you just, it’s Nike, Just do it. You do it and you go, my buddy, Will Hines, has written a couple of great improv books. So, if you’re looking to nerd out improv-wise, one is like, How to Be the Greatest Improviser—I think it’s, How to Be the Greatest Improviser on Earth?

Peter Margaritis: [00:28:20] Okay.

Jay Sukow: [00:28:20] It’s a—and he’s just a very funny guy. And then, one is like—I think it’s called Pirate Robot Ninja, which differentiates you into different types of improvisers.

Peter Margaritis: [00:28:29] Okay.

Jay Sukow: [00:28:29] But, you know, I’m in the midst of I’m trying to write this book on improv and he goes, "You just can’t accept the fact that the first draft is going to suck."

Peter Margaritis: [00:28:39] Yeah.

Jay Sukow: [00:28:39] It’s going to suck, because you just got to get out there. And the same with what you’re talking about. It’s like, how do you do it? I don’t know. You get together and you try it.

Peter Margaritis: [00:28:46] Yeah.

Jay Sukow: [00:28:46] Like Google Hangouts, we’ve done a couple of shows there and it’s starting to happen. My friend, Amy Gurlitt does e-improv and she’s been doing it for a while. And it was kind of, she put it on hold for a little bit and now, she’s starting it back up again, which is like, how do we do improv online? And I think it’s the same thing of our get together in a Google Hangout, try it. If you think about years ago, like when wireless phone was—when she was creating a lot of these improv gigs, she created the gigs out of a sense of there was a problem, how do I solve it?

Peter Margaritis: [00:29:18] Right.

Jay Sukow: [00:29:18] So, it was like there’s a language barrier. Instead of set—you know, I have students from all—who don’t speak English at all. They all speak different languages. How do I still get to them and affect them? She didn’t go, "It can’t be done." She didn’t sit there and go, "Well, here are the problems." She went, "Huh? What if we had them create a language that they all share called gibberish?" And that’s how gibberish came out. So, a lot of the gigs she did wasn’t for performing, it was for helping solve problems.

Jay Sukow: [00:29:52] So, when you look at what you’re doing, it’s like, okay, cool, we’re not in the same space, but we have the internet. We have this online capability. We have the connections there, right? So, now, let’s just get up and play. Let’s—you know, it goes back to—it reminds me of my old days when I first started improvising, when nobody knew what improv was, you know, when a handful of people on earth had ever heard like a form called the herault, which is pretty prevalent now throughout the world for improvisers.

Jay Sukow: [00:30:23] But a lot of people back in that, they had no—you were like, "Well, what it’s like Saturday Night Live, but you make it up." So, they—like people didn’t have a reference to it. So, it was the excitement of just getting together and sitting in a classroom somewhere and saying, "Oh, Peter, when you walked in, Pam left." So, what if we do, every time someone walks in, someone leaves. And what—and you just kind of—you got very excited about creating this because there was no blueprint at that point.

Peter Margaritis: [00:30:53] Right.

Jay Sukow: [00:30:53] And I think the same thing for online.

Peter Margaritis: [00:30:54] Yeah.

Jay Sukow: [00:30:54] It’s like, I don’t know, let’s give it a try. Get six accountants who are improvisers together in a Google Hangout, don’t even necessarily do it for an audience, but like the more you do something, the better you get. It’s just reiterations, improve. So, do it, sit, and that’s how we would work on forms as well. It’s like, "Oh, here’s an idea for a form." We go through it and you go, "What?" Don’t talk about the things that didn’t work. We all know that.

Peter Margaritis: [00:31:21] Right.

Jay Sukow: [00:31:22] What are the moments that worked? And let’s build on the moments that worked.

Peter Margaritis: [00:31:26] Yeah.

Jay Sukow: [00:31:26] And I think that’s the thing as you continue to move forward is like we’re all going to make mistakes, we’re all going to be stressed out, but each day, keep focusing on what worked, what worked for me yesterday, and then celebrate. You know, there was a—I forgot who it was, but I heard there was a family who would have family dinners once a week and the whole like once a week, they would celebrate their failures. Somebody would say, "I did this", and everyone would clap and go, "Hurray." And I think the same thing is like you could celebrate the failures but build upon what’s been working. I mean, that’s what is really a good improv scene and a good life scene is like. What worked for you? What got you to this point? Build on what’s working.

Peter Margaritis: [00:32:10] I like this idea. I mean, I’ve got like 14 ideas from this conversation on how to help others and how to stay engaged and stay creative in this time of uncertainty even much more so than I began this conversation with. And it’s—you’re the guru, I keep telling you. The improv guru.

Jay Sukow: [00:32:30] These are—I’m just the conduit of other voices. I just have an ability to remember things. And I’m passing it along. You know, this is the information, too, if like you were talking about, take this as an opportunity to pass along the information you know. That’s how you keep it, is you got to give it away.

Peter Margaritis: [00:32:46] Yeah.

Jay Sukow: [00:32:46] So, if there’s something you’re good at, you know, go online, do a Facebook Live thing and, you know, do a—send out an email, reach out to people. What is it that you are good at? What is it that you can offer? And people, you know, a lot of times don’t—they’ll be like, "Oh, I don’t have anything to offer except." No, that’s not true. There are things that we all do that people don’t have experience in. Like your knowledge of accounting.

Peter Margaritis: [00:33:12] Easy there. Easy now.

Jay Sukow: [00:33:14] Well, no, but I have zero knowledge.

Peter Margaritis: [00:33:16] Right.

Jay Sukow: [00:33:17] And I remember, too, my friend, Tony Llewellyn once. I was at a theater and they gave us a brand-new curriculum, like completely changed everything. And I was like studying this thing. And I’m like, I talked to Tony—and Tony is one of the most in the moment people I’ve ever seen.

Peter Margaritis: [00:33:35] Yeah.

Jay Sukow: [00:33:35] And I go, "Tony, man, how do you feel about this new curriculum?" And he just looks to me, he goes, "I just got to be one week ahead of the students."

Peter Margaritis: [00:33:45] It’s true.

Jay Sukow: [00:33:46] It’s like, same thing, like so your knowledge of accounting is so much more adept than somebody like me. So, that’s an opportunity to say like, okay, I am this, if anybody wants to share, you know, I have this information. And you’ll be amazed people at this point, now, too, they’re dying for information. They’re dying for information to improve themselves. You want to learn Greek. So, you’re like, "This is an opportunity I’m going to take to get that subscription."

Peter Margaritis: [00:34:12] Yeah.

Jay Sukow: [00:34:12] And so, there are these opportunities and we have to—if you’re looking for opportunities, it’s going to help change your mindset, too. But if you’re looking if you find people to commiserate with how bad things are, absolutely, but it’s not going to improve anything. It’s not going to improve anything. All you’re going to be doing is you are just going to be focusing on that negative with someone else who’s co-signing your BS, as I was told once. It’s like, "Oh, yeah, they’re co-signing your BS." See? And again, none of these are my thoughts. I’m just like a storyteller, I’m just passing along what people have said.

Peter Margaritis: [00:34:47] Well, yeah. And I like to pass on the same thing. I like to be a conduit as well. And by the way, for those of you who aren’t watching this, he was just handed a coffee cup. I’m not sure what’s in the coffee cup.

Jay Sukow: [00:34:58] It’s tea.

Peter Margaritis: [00:34:58] It’s tea?

Jay Sukow: [00:34:58] It’s tea. It is tea.

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:01] I thought that—it looks like Irish whiskey.

Jay Sukow: [00:35:04] Hey, man, whatever gets you through.

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:04] I thought that was yesterday.

Jay Sukow: [00:35:04] No, that’s yesterday.

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:08] I mean, great information. And it’s just—I think it improvises them to stay positive more than most and calm. But-

Jay Sukow: [00:35:20] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:21] Because, you know, we focus on the things that we control, have control and we don’t focus as much on things we don’t have control.

Jay Sukow: [00:35:30] It’s just wasted energy.

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:32] Yeah.

Jay Sukow: [00:35:33] The same with like at a certain point, two things happen for an improviser so they continue, one is you realize, "Oh, that scene we just did, I don’t have to think about anymore because we’re not going to do it again. So, I don’t have to focus on it." Focusing on what I could’ve done better in that improv scene is useless. The other is, as you continue, when you first start improvising, you’re so afraid and you’re so convinced the scene is going to be bad, the show is going to be bad. As you continue, you just assume it’s going to be good. You just assume it’s going to work out and you go, "Man, if it doesn’t, if this show isn’t good, of all the shows I’ve done, that was one of them. Of all the shows I’ve done, that was the most recent.

Peter Margaritis: [00:36:21] Yeah.

Jay Sukow: [00:36:21] And you move on. And it’s something that you are constantly practicing. I’m better at it only because I practice it more than maybe other people do. But there are people who’ve never taken an improv class who have this mindset already. And you’re like a born improviser and they might never be on stage, but you deal with people in your life. There are people that they always seem to like take things in stride or when, you know, everything hits the fan, they take a breath and they go, "Okay, here’s how we deal with it" or they make you feel heard.

Peter Margaritis: [00:36:52] Yeah.

Jay Sukow: [00:36:52] Another thing is people, it’s very important right now for people to feel heard. So, sometimes, it’s just calling somebody and saying, "How are you doing?", which might be a follow the fear thing. Like think about those people that you’ve—you’re like, "I’ve got to reach out to them." And each week it gets harder and harder because you have it. This is the perfect excuse to do it, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:37:11] Right.

Jay Sukow: [00:37:11] This is like—it’s a hard reset of society, man. This is a hard reset. And you go, I can use this whole coronavirus as an excuse to reach out to somebody and go, "Hey, you know what, I haven’t talked to you in a while. I feel bad. I wanted to check in. How are you doing? Because now, also, you’ve got something to talk about.

Peter Margaritis: [00:37:28] Yeah.

Jay Sukow: [00:37:29] And if you’re afraid of what am I going to say to somebody, which we all have that fear of, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:37:33] Yeah.

Jay Sukow: [00:37:33] There’s a simple trick, you just say to them, "How are you doing?" Could we just focus on them? Everybody’s going to talk about themselves. You know, it’s like, when you walk into a room, you’re always scared of what like people are looking at you, talking about you, I got news, man. They aren’t. We’re all thinking about ourselves. Rarely is it like, "Oh, everyone’s-", no, they’re not. We’re all thinking about ourselves. So, you can use this opportunity right now to say, I’ve been meaning to send an email to somebody, I’ve been meaning to reach out to somebody or, hey, I just haven’t checked in with that person, how are they doing? And you’ll be amazed at the impact it has on them.

Peter Margaritis: [00:38:07] Absolutely. That’s good advice. And I have been using that.

Jay Sukow: [00:38:10] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:38:11] In a podcast that’s sort of after yours. And I had a friend who his doctor believe he did contract the coronavirus, but it was during the testing period that he couldn’t get tested because he didn’t meet some of the criteria that he wasn’t out of the country or he did not become in contact.

Jay Sukow: [00:38:29] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:38:30] But he self-quarantined. And every day, I send him a text, "How are you feeling? How’s it going?" "I’m feeling bad. It’s terrible." I said, you know, "I’ll keep checking in." "Hey, by the way, I watched the Knives Out last night on Netflix, love the movie, might want to watch it." Oh, I watched, you know, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood." So, I would just give them, you know, these movies and stuff that I was watching and just, "Oh, man, I really like that movie." So, I’m trying to help lift the spirits. And last check, he’s doing better.

Jay Sukow: [00:38:59] That’s huge.

Peter Margaritis: [00:39:00] Yeah.

Jay Sukow: [00:39:00] I mean, I don’t think you’re going to understand the impact until later, what you had on him. Just a text saying, "How you doing?", is huge. And then, given those suggestions. I mean, that’s something—that’s a great example of what we can do to people in our circle and how we can affect them in our circle. And you look at it like, "It’s not that I’m not going out because I’m afraid of getting it, I’m not going out because I’m afraid I’m a carrier." I think that’s how we have to shift it to, be like, "I’m going to hurt people."

Peter Margaritis: [00:39:29] Right.

Jay Sukow: [00:39:29] Like, it’s not that I’m afraid I’m going to get it, it’s like, you have to assume you already have it. Like, that’s part of the change in mindset. But you just got to assume you’ve had it or you—because then, you’re really making your choices based on other people like yourselves.

Peter Margaritis: [00:39:42] Right.

Jay Sukow: [00:39:42] You know what I’ve got, I’ve got so many wonderful, talented friends like my buddy, Bill Cut, does this live jive thing on Facebook. And he’s utilizing that time to say like, "I’m going to do some characters" or "I’m going to share some comedy. If you want to tune in, great. Tune in and watch that." And it’s—you’d be amazed at the amount of people that it affects, you know. You don’t, like I went on, I will follow the Fear Friday, where I post something on social media and it’s like, "Hey, fault. What are you going to do to follow the fear today?"

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:11] Oh, yeah.

Jay Sukow: [00:40:11] And last Friday, I just went live on Facebook. And I was like, "Hey, let’s talk about it." And I was amazed that—I remember thinking to myself, maybe a handful of people tune in. And I was amazed how many people sat and watched that. And then, it started the conversation for people as well. So, I think if you do something where your focus is on helping other people, you know, try to do either of these ones, too, try to do something good and get away with it.

Jay Sukow: [00:40:40] Trying to do something good for someone else and get away with it, like that, again, changes your mindset to, I’m not there to do it for a reason other than I’m just putting it out there. So, I’m going to steal that, what you’re talking about. It’s like reaching out to people and just saying, "Hey, how you doing?" or like, "I watched this movie", like giving people—you know, our job as improvisers, too, is to give people hope and bring comedy and laughter.

Jay Sukow: [00:41:06] We need it now more than ever. The world needs improvisers now more than ever, whether it’s your mindset or the focus on the group or to make sure to look good or just to bring laughter or just hang out. You know, I have a class that I teach and I was like, "Oh, we’re not—we’re going to go dark and not have class." And they’re like, "Well, can we just do a Hangout?", where we do a Google online Hangout. Because for some people, that’s the only interaction they’re going to have that day with another human being.

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:31] Right.

Jay Sukow: [00:41:32] We have to remember that. And check in on those people. Check in on the people who are more susceptible. The people that are in their, you know, 65 and older because they don’t want to be inside. They don’t want to do this.

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:42] Yeah.

Jay Sukow: [00:41:42] So, now is the time to check in.

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:44] It is. And it is the time to check in, but not just by phone.

Jay Sukow: [00:41:48] Yes.

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:48] But by FaceTime.

Jay Sukow: [00:41:50] Exactly.

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:51] By this. By Hangout. But it is having a face-to-face, seeing that other person goes a long way. Our NSA Ohio chapter’s doing a virtual town hall meeting tomorrow from 12:00 to 1:00 to our professional members and just asking them, "How are you doing?"

Jay Sukow: [00:42:10] And it’s perfect.

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:13] Because we’re isolated. Those who are in a gig economy, those who are so open doors were used to working alone, but also used to get in a plane, also used to getting out of the house. But now that we’re—we tend to get isolated, we’re realizing that. It was like, how can we help our members? So, we’d start out to be—you know, through a conversation, we’re not going to do it once, we’re doing it every week.

Jay Sukow: [00:42:35] That’s great.

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:36] Every week of virtual town hall meeting. Let’s get together. If you show up—and, you know, something might branch out, maybe I’ll take groups, say, "Hey, I’m going to do an improv piece on this and help", and whatever. And have that other type of meeting just see what we can—see how we can serve.

Jay Sukow: [00:42:55] Opportunity.

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:57] Opportunity.

Jay Sukow: [00:42:58] You know, not downplaying the fact that it’s very serious and not downplaying the fact that people are affected by this and people are dying like that is—accepting that, like that is true. And there is sadness and anxiety around that. Absolutely. There’s also, improvisers can bring empathy to the situation and look at it like an opportunity to share that empathy and to share that joy and that hope and that love. And you know me, for me, improv is about the love, too.

Peter Margaritis: [00:43:26] Yeah.

Jay Sukow: [00:43:26] It’s like, when people are like, "What do—what advice would you give to improvisers?", I’m like, "More love, more scenes that involve love, more sharing of that." Like that’s something I would tell people. It’s like you can’t get enough of it right now.

Peter Margaritis: [00:43:40] Right. You can’t. You know, we just need to keep doing that. I need to respect your time because we’re getting up to about 1:00. And I think you had something going on.

Jay Sukow: [00:43:48] Respecting my time.

Peter Margaritis: [00:43:53] What?

Jay Sukow: [00:43:56] What?

Peter Margaritis: [00:43:56] Yeah. Because we did—you did tell me you had something going on at 1:00 and we’re butting up against that. I don’t want to mess up your day.

Jay Sukow: [00:44:04] You tell me what you need.

Peter Margaritis: [00:44:06] I need more of your time. Not doing the podcast, but, you know, I love having these conversations because you give me a lot of ideas. And I’m serious, let me help you, however I can help you, just ask, it’s there.

Jay Sukow: [00:44:18] No, that’s great. Thank you. And I think one thing is like as we’re continuing is there are going to be a ton of these online improv shows popping up. And so, I think what would help is if people tune in and watch those. And if you just—you know, I’m sure if you go on social media, you’ll see it. But I think that’s one way, it’s like, you know, support people and local artists. Support like there are people that are having a hard time paying rent, so they’re offering some services, either discounted or maybe a barter or something of that. So, if you see an opportunity to do that or throw a kick-starter.

Jay Sukow: [00:44:52] You know, for my birthday, I did a fundraiser. Facebook said, "Do you want to do a fundraiser?" I’m like, "Sure, why not?" And I did it for Room to Improv, which you know, I mean, I like Kahana and you’re wearing a Room to Improv shirt right now, which I love. And I’m like, "Hey, if you’ve got a couple bucks, throw it up there." And I think we raised $1,200, which I was blown away by, was like—and it was people that also I knew there were people that didn’t have the money to share that did it. And I knew then, I was like, "Oh, my God, I can’t believe people." That’s why I go, we have to keep that thought that humanity, overall, is good. They are looking to help other people.

Jay Sukow: [00:45:28] So, if there’s a way that you can help, you know, reach out to your local restaurant or bar and say, "Hey, you’re hurting right now, is there a way I can help out?" And even sometimes, it’s just they might say share this post or something, but I think to be of service and to look to help other people, I think that’s the best you can do. And a lot of my people because I’m in a circle with a lot of artists and a lot of my artist friends are really hurting right now and very scared. So, if you wanted to take a voice lesson or learn how to sing, now’s a great time to reach out to, you know, a local singer or voice teacher and say, "Hey, I want to do a couple one-on-one sessions." So, there’s always opportunity to help.

Peter Margaritis: [00:46:10] Absolutely. Great advice. And because of everything that’s been going on, completely slipped my mind, but you just reminded me of something. Was it March 15th was your birthday?

Jay Sukow: [00:46:22] March 14th, the same birthday as Albert Einstein.

Peter Margaritis: [00:46:26] Oh, that’s what it is. And so-

Jay Sukow: [00:46:28] That’s right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:46:29] And you are going to have this big party in LA for, you were turning what? 40 or something like that.

Jay Sukow: [00:46:37] Oh, you’re so kind. I’m not going to say I was turning 50, but I’ll take—yes. It is my big 5-0, buddy, the big 5-0.

Peter Margaritis: [00:46:44] Welcome to the club. Well, you know, a big old happy birthday to you, Jay. And I’ll have a little barbecue in your honor tonight and wish you a happy birthday, because, you know, with everything going on, just slipped my mind, but, you know, it did jug my memory. Happy birthday, buddy. And-.

Jay Sukow: [00:47:04] Thank you, man, my friend. That means a lot.

Peter Margaritis: [00:47:07] Cool. And do me a favor, at least initially, when you know that these improv shows are coming online, send me a note.

Jay Sukow: [00:47:15] Sure.

Peter Margaritis: [00:47:15] Just send me a quick note and say, "Look for this." And then, once I get that into my routine, then I’ll be able to do it, and I’ll share that out as well.

Jay Sukow: [00:47:23] Oh, perfect. Yeah. Oh, when I’ve got it, I’ll drop you a line, for sure.

Peter Margaritis: [00:47:28] Perfect. I appreciate everything that you’ve done, everything you continue to do, and I look forward to it the next time we have time to spend together again.

Jay Sukow: [00:47:35] I appreciate you, my friend. Thanks for having me on. This is great.

Peter Margaritis: [00:47:40] I’m going to end this podcast in a different way. I want to sign off by saying, please, everyone, be safe, try to stay healthy and just implement one or two tips from this episode today. And I hope it helps all of you in dealing with the current situation related to the coronavirus pandemic that each and every one of us are dealing with. Be safe.

Announcer: [00:48:14] Like what you just heard? Because it’s c-suiteradio.com. C-Suite Radio, turning the volume up on business.

S3E4. Being an Authentic Leader with Christopher R. Jones

Christopher Jones speaks, coaches and advises leaders to become the type of leader others want to follow — as he calls them, authentic leaders. Over the past 30 years, Christopher has held leadership development positions and consulted leadership teams at world headquarters of Fortune 500 companies and multiple industries, including information technology and advanced education as well as leading nonprofit executive boards through capital fundraising campaigns. He also hosts The Authentic Leader Show podcast, where he interviews CEOs, executive directors, and occasional celebrities.

The very first time Christopher was put into a leadership position he failed miserably. He had thought before getting that position, “How hard can this leadership thing be?” He had worked with great leaders and terrible leaders beforehand, and those that were great made it look so easy. But once he got into that role, he realized it’s just so much more complicated than it looks on the surface.

The very best leaders are those leaders who you would do anything for. The first leader Christopher worked for was a pool manager where he used to be a lifeguard. He would do anything for him because the manager was doing all the same work he was asking others to do — he wasn’t telling them to do anything that felt beneath him.

Christopher has identified seven disciplines of authentic leaders, characteristics that are essential to being the kind of leader that people want to follow:

  1. Self-leadership: If you are trying to be a better leader, you can (and should) get started before you are even in a leadership role. Being a better leader starts with learning to lead yourself well. That means being clear about your aspirations, identifying goals, actually achieving them, and having discipline about how you conduct yourself.
  2. Leadership statement: Get clear about the type of leader you aspire to be and paint a picture of what it will look like to get there.
  3. Goals: You are very clear about your goals but you are also very effective at helping your team identify their personal and professional goals.
  4. Decision making: You are good at making effective and appropriate decisions, and also letting your team know how to autonomously make their own decisions.
  5. Communication: Teams rarely complain about their leader over-communicating… but if you do start to get complaints, that means you’re probably right on the mark!
  6. Delegation and accountability: You have a methodology and approach to consistently and appropriately delegate, and also a way to hold people accountable for doing the things they have been assigned or have accepted without being confrontational.
  7. Relationships: You need to have strong relationships with everyone you are working with. Have recurring one-on-one meetings with each member to learn more about your team members.

Strong leaders ask for help

If you are in a leadership position, you need help. That’s why you have a team — you can’t do everything on your own. Too often, we see leaders trying to know it all, trying to do it all, and acting as if they don’t need any help. They need to let go of their ego and let their teams know that they need help.

We are still struggling to see this kind of leadership style go mainstream in our culture. If someone recognizes they need help, it’s a lot easier to get them asking for help. But if they don’t want to be a better leader, or they think they are already an excellent leader, they may not be open to learning more. But even fantastic leaders can still get better.

The common thread

The biggest thing that most leaders struggle with is delegation and accountability. One thing leaders can do to improve, though, is to think about the phases of delegation based on how much you trust your employees. You start off by giving out a very specific task, with explicit instructions on how to do it and a rigid timeframe expectation. From there, you work slowly up to the point where the task becomes a full part of their job and the employee barely even notices it happens anymore.

Delegation takes time before the benefits pay off. It takes more time and more work up front, but it ends up paying dividends in the long run. You have to invest that time knowing that it will work out.

It’s so important for people to do a self-evaluation and check themselves. Those who have a strong ego in their leadership don’t realize or want to admit they have a strong ego or have room to grow, but those leaders who feel like they aren’t as good as they can be and need to be better — those are humble leaders who will become even better leaders in the future.

Resources:

Transcript:

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Christopher Jones: [00:00:01] Those leaders who are terrible leaders I find and I certainly have learned that most of the time, they’re not trying to be a terrible leader, they just don’t know any other way, which is why I was failing as a leader, I didn’t know any other way. So, it comes down to the very best leaders I ever worked with are those leaders who I would do anything for.

Peter Margaritis: [00:00:28] Welcome to Change Your Mindset podcast, formerly known as Improv is No Joke, where it’s all about believing that strong communication skills are the best way in delivering your technical accounting knowledge and growing your business. An effective way of building stronger communication skills is by embracing the principles of applied improvisation. Your host is Peter Margaritis, CPA a.k.a. The Accidental Accountant. And he will interview financial professionals and business leaders to find their secret in building stronger relationships with their clients, customers, associates and peers, all the while growing their businesses. So, let’s start the show.

Peter Margaritis: [00:01:15] When you hear the words authentic leader, what is your first thought? Who do you picture? What is the definition of an authentic leader? How does one become an authentic leader? And what are some of the characteristics of an authentic leader? Well, my guest, Christopher Jones, will answer those questions and more during our interview. Christopher speaks, coaches and advises leaders to become the leader others want to follow. In short, authentic leaders.

Peter Margaritis: [00:01:49] Over the past 30 years, Christopher has held leadership development positions and consulted leadership teams at world headquarters of Fortune 500 companies and multiple industries including information technology and advanced education, as well as leading nonprofit executive boards through capital fundraising campaigns. He also hosts The Authentic Leader Show podcast, where he interviews CEOs, executive directors and occasional celebrities.

Peter Margaritis: [00:02:19] He goes deep with his guest into their journeys of leadership and personal effectiveness. Christopher has served on the boards of the Richmond Christian Leadership Initiative and the Chesterfield County Chamber of Commerce. And in 2017, Christopher was named the Chesterfield Chamber of Commerce Member of the Year. I hope you enjoy this episode. But before we get to the interview, let me take care of some housekeeping issues.

Announcer: [00:02:42] This podcast is part of the C-Suite Radio Network, turning the volume up on business.

Peter Margaritis: [00:02:49] And now a word from our sponsor.

Sponsor: [00:02:52] This episode is sponsored by Peter A. Margaritis, LLC a.k.a. The Accidental Accountant. Are you looking for a high content and engaging speaker for your next conference? Do you want to deliver a story to stakeholders that will transform data dumping to engaging business conversations? Do you want to feel that the value a speaker provides your audience far exceeds the dollar value on their invoice? Then, book Peter for your next conference, management retreat or workshop. Contact Peter at peter@petermargaritis.com and visit his website at www.petermargaritis.com. By the way, one of his Fortune 50 clients actually made the comment about the value he brings to your audience.

Peter Margaritis: [00:03:41] I have put in the show notes the various ways you could connect with Christopher through social media along with the link to his podcast, The Authentic Leader Show. Now, let’s get to the interview with Christopher Jones. Hey, welcome back everybody. I’m real excited about my guest today because I mean, we go back, I think now, a very long period of time of probably three, maybe four months now.

Christopher Jones: [00:04:11] Yeah. We go back months. We really do. Months and months.

Peter Margaritis: [00:04:13] Months and months. And that is the voice of Chris Jones who is a man of many talents. I’ll just start off with that. A man of many talents. He is, first and foremost, a leadership person. He understands, trains, helps, promotes one’s leadership to take that leadership to that next level. He offers a variety of services around. And those services are coaching. He’s also a podcast host and a speaker, so let’s put two and two together. Yes, I was on his podcast The Authentic Leader podcast show. Did I pronounce that correctly?

Christopher Jones: [00:04:57] You did, The Authentic Leader Podcast show. And you are a fantastic guest, I must say.

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:01] That’s another $20 I have to give to Chris. Geez.

Christopher Jones: [00:05:04] I’ll take it.

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:04] I’ll be broke. It was a lot of fun. And we met at my very first NSA chapter event. And I came to the Virginia chapter and did a program on improv to improve your speaking business. We got into a conversation afterwards. So, I had a blast on his, so he set the bar high. Hopefully has a blast on mine. And, Chris, thank you so much for taking time to spend some time with me and my audience on this podcast.

Christopher Jones: [00:05:34] Well, it’s an honor to just spend some time with you. Every time I talk with you, I have fun, so I’m expecting to have fun today. And if people can learn something at the same time, even better.

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:43] Even better. Exactly. And for those of you who are listening, if you want to visit my YouTube channel, I’ll be posting on social media a raw unedited version of this video out there because you need to take a look at Chris’s office. And the most unique thing in his office right now as I’m looking at it, he has one of those very old, very, very old telephones. And I’m not talking like a flip phone. I’m talking his phone that they used back in what, the 1920s?

Christopher Jones: [00:06:16] Yeah, or even earlier. I looked it up one time, it was like 1915 or 1919, something like that. It’s a very old phone my grandpa gave me.

Peter Margaritis: [00:06:25] And I can’t remember the last time I saw such a cool phone. And that’s such a great piece to hang on the wall. That’s really cool.

Christopher Jones: [00:06:34] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:06:34] So, Chris, tell us about your business. Tell us about what you do and how you have an impact on other people through your leadership programs.

Christopher Jones: [00:06:44] Yeah. Well, it all goes back to the story I tell when I very first became what I call a titled leader. And a titled leader, I call, a leader who like in your title is an expectation that you’re leading a team. So, I think people kind of get what that is. But I had my very first team and I was leading and I failed miserably. I mean, it was very different on the other side of leadership than it was before you get into leadership. I remember thinking before I was formally a title leader, how hard can this leadership thing be?

Christopher Jones: [00:07:15] And I’ve worked for some great leaders, I’ve worked for some really terrible leaders. And I just didn’t get it. And those who were great leaders, they made it look really easy. And those who were terrible is almost like they were trying to be a bad leader, right? I think if people can appreciate that, probably, maybe they work for the same boss as me. And it frustrated me because then, once I became this titled leader, I started to realize, actually, leadership is much more difficult than what it looks like on the surface.

Christopher Jones: [00:07:46] And those leaders who were really good and look natural, they had to become that leader. Leadership is rarely just natural. You have to become a natural leader. And those leaders who are terrible leaders, I find and I certainly have learned that most of the time, they’re not trying to be a terrible leader, they just don’t know any other way, which is why I was failing as a leader, I didn’t know any other way. So, it comes down to the very best leaders I ever worked with, are those leaders who I would do anything for, right?

Christopher Jones: [00:08:18] And I think we probably have all had leaders like that. The first leader I ever worked for was a pool manager where I used to lifeguard. And he was just one of those where you would just do anything for him because he was doing all the crappy work, too. And when he’d ask you to go clean some toilets, well, yeah, we all just jumped on it because he wasn’t asking us to do something he wasn’t willing to do himself.

Christopher Jones: [00:08:40] And it took me about a year once I started this business to come up with this concept. It’s like, gosh, you’re just leading so authentically. Wait a second. He’s being an authentic leader. And ever since then, it just has stuck. And I’m so proud, I guess, of coming up with that concept and then, for people to really kind of get what that means. So, I’m not sure if I totally answered your question but it’s how like the early days, how it came about.

Peter Margaritis: [00:09:09] Right. And you did and you said something very key right at the beginning of that, you failed as a leader.

Christopher Jones: [00:09:16] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:09:16] And then, you went on to say—basically, listening to your story, you were promoted without having any leadership training or any leadership—anybody teaching you. You’ve got the technical stuff. You’ve got this other stuff that you’ll be fine, you’ll learned that on the job, but that doesn’t fly anymore.

Christopher Jones: [00:09:34] No. I see so many people promoted to a leadership role because they were fantastic contributors, right? They created great results and then, all of a sudden, oh, well, if they’re great, you know, producing results, they’re going to be great as a leader, too. No, no, not necessarily. The biggest thing with my leadership clients is if they’re getting ready to promote someone, like, "Please just talk to me first", right? So that we can make sure that we set up this person you’re getting ready to promote up for success. We want them to be successful in this new role. And many times, they are not set up for success.

Peter Margaritis: [00:10:07] Right. The old Peter Drucker, the Peter Principle, we’re going to promote you to your level of incompetence.

Christopher Jones: [00:10:11] Yeah. Right. We’ve seen it too often, it’s a shame. That’s where my passion is, is I want to help others to avoid what I had to go through.

Peter Margaritis: [00:10:22] So, thinking about that, can you give me an example of kind of wish I had known this before I got it, I was promoted into this role, what skill set that was lacking at the time that you got, God, I wish somebody would just take me aside and said this?

Christopher Jones: [00:10:37] Sure. Well, you know, what I did realize, I talk about this thing called the seven disciplines of authentic leaders. The very first of those seven disciplines, it’s self-leadership. And I think this is something you can do whether you’re in a formal leadership or titled leader role or not. I wish I would have been better at leading myself well before I became a leader. And what that means is just getting really clear about my aspirations.

Christopher Jones: [00:11:06] Where is it that I see myself going and how might I get there? Being clear with identifying goals or writing them down and then, actually achieving those goals. But also, just having discipline in my day, having discipline about how I conduct myself. One of the most powerful things, I think, that leaders and really non-titled leaders alike, anyone can do, is to not only follow through on commitments that you make to other people consistently, be known for that. But additionally, do the things—follow through with commitments that you make to yourself, especially when no one knows.

Christopher Jones: [00:11:44] Because I’m sure as you’re thinking of leaders who you admire and you think that they are just fantastic leaders, you’re probably also thinking, there’s something about them that just makes them so attractive. And what it typically is, what I found is that they’re making commitments to themselves and they’re following through on those commitments. And then, again, especially when no one knows they’re doing it because you can just tell there’s an aura around those kinds of people. So, I think that’s a secret weapon.

Peter Margaritis: [00:12:11] You said, aura around those people. And it just—you know what just pops into my head when you said there’s an aura on these people saying they’re authentic and that’s why you saw me jerk back, well, yeah, that aura, you know they’re being extremely authentic in their leadership style. So, you mentioned the seven disciplines.

Christopher Jones: [00:12:29] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:12:29] So, you’ve hit on the first one.

Christopher Jones: [00:12:31] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:12:31] Let’s go down this path. What’s number two?

Christopher Jones: [00:12:36] Okay. Well, number two—and many these are not going to be a surprise to people, but I found that if you stitch these together, again, you’re set up for success, I think, as a leader. So, it’s your vision or mission or what I really call like your leadership statement. Just being clear about the type of leader you aspire to be. Getting clear about what does that statement look like. Almost really painting a clear picture.

Christopher Jones: [00:13:00] Once you get there, here’s what it looks like to be that type of leader. This is number two. Number three are our goals. You’re very clear about your goals, but you’re also very effective at helping your team identify their personal goals, personal and professional, I should say. And then, setting them up for success to actually achieving those goals. Giving them opportunities. Giving them experiences that maybe they wouldn’t have otherwise.

Christopher Jones: [00:13:26] Also, they’re very good—authentic leaders are very good at number four, which is decision making. Making effective decisions, but making appropriate decisions. Many times, those decisions are need to be made by the people on your team and knowing how to appropriately help them to make their own decisions because that’s really the epitome, right? Because you want your teams making their own autonomous decisions, on their own, without needing you to be involved with every decision.

Peter Margaritis: [00:13:54] Right.

Christopher Jones: [00:13:54] So, that’s number four. Number five is communication. Authentic leaders, they are effective communicators. I find that most teams rarely complain about the leader over communicating, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:14:07] Yeah.

Christopher Jones: [00:14:07] And if your team is complaining about you over communicating, then you’re probably right about on mark, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:14:16] Right.

Christopher Jones: [00:14:17] And I would go a little further. I’d communicate it even a few more times.

Peter Margaritis: [00:14:20] Right.

Christopher Jones: [00:14:20] So, that’s number five. Six is they’re very effective at delegation and accountability. They have a methodology and an approach to consistently and appropriately delegate, but additionally, to hold people accountable to doing the things that they’ve been assigned or that they have accepted in a way that is not confrontational. Too many people will avoid delegating work or they avoid holding people accountable because they want to avoid the confrontation that goes along with it.

Peter Margaritis: [00:14:51] Right.

Christopher Jones: [00:14:51] When done right, you can actually avoid that confrontation, but hold people accountable. I think your team, they want to be held accountable. They want to receive delegated work. And when done in the right way, man, you’ve got a team that, again, they want to follow you. And then, the last one of the seven disciplines is number seven, which is, it’s all about relationships. It’s a very high priority for authentic leaders to have relationships with everyone they’re working with, but especially their team. And to do that through one-on-one meetings, having dedicated scheduled recurring time one-on-one with each member of their team to learn about things they could not learn otherwise if they didn’t have these one-on-one meetings.

Peter Margaritis: [00:15:34] So, I’ve asked leaders about their teams and I go, "Do you know their birthdays?"

Christopher Jones: [00:15:42] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:15:42] And eight, maybe seven out of 10, "Well, no. Why?" "Don’t you want people to know your birthday? Did you say like happy birthday to them?" Just that little—I mean, you are getting to know them. I mean, if they’re a part of the team and helped to build that level of trust and cohesiveness, we have to learn more about the people that are on it. We spend more time with them than we do with our families.

Christopher Jones: [00:16:09] Right. And it’s not one of the things where you can just go out, "Okay. Go find out everybody’s birthday", right? Because that would actually be inauthentic. "I want you to know I’m checking this off because I know I need to go to everybody’s birthday." No. It’s having those regular recurring times when you’re meeting one-on-one. In time, you’re going to learn that because you are, and not to plug, but I mean, you’re authentically having conversations with them. And those things you need to know about your team, they will come to the surface at the right time without it being forced.

Peter Margaritis: [00:16:39] Right. Well, it goes to the relationship. What type of relationship are you building with your team? And I’m just taking it further, your stakeholders.

Christopher Jones: [00:16:51] Sure.

Peter Margaritis: [00:16:53] It’s all about relationships.

Christopher Jones: [00:16:55] Yeah, you better embrace your team because if you didn’t have the team, they wouldn’t need you, right? Your job is to lead your team but you better really appreciate them because the results that they produce is a direct result of how you lead them.

Peter Margaritis: [00:17:12] And appreciation goes—there’s so many ways of giving appreciation as a boss, as a leader and even comes from the tone of your voice.

Christopher Jones: [00:17:25] Oh, yeah. You know if it’s real.

Peter Margaritis: [00:17:28] Right. And, you know, I was raised by the Olympic yeller. My father could have been a multi-gold medal yelling, he was an athlete, he was outstanding. So, I’m trying to break some of those habits because nobody gravitates the yelling. Nobody.

Christopher Jones: [00:17:49] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:17:50] Kids, adults, nobody. It’s just, "Okay. You made a mistake. Okay. So, let’s fix it. How are you going to fix it? What are we going to do? What do we learn? And let’s move forward."

Christopher Jones: [00:17:59] Yeah, yeah. It’s your job to create that environment, right? And that’s not, again, something you do overnight. Over time, you create an environment where it’s safe to make mistakes. And as you said, too, let’s learn from this so that we can now prevent it from happening in the future. Nothing wrong with making mistakes. The very unfortunate thing about life is that the very best way to learn is to make mistakes. Unfortunately. I wish that wasn’t the case. And believe me, I am a master black belt in making mistakes. I’m really good at that. So, I’m a genius because-

Peter Margaritis: [00:18:34] Oh, my God. That was hilarious. It was so funny. Thank you so very much. I mean, I was-

Christopher Jones: [00:18:40] To make Peter Margaritis laugh, now, that is something that I can put that on my wall.

Peter Margaritis: [00:18:45] Oh, my God. That was even—no, that was more than a laugh. I had a slight tear coming out of my eyes, I was laughing so hard because I wasn’t expecting master black belt boom. Yeah. Making mistakes. That was—yeah. But, you know, unfortunately, in today’s workforce, a lot of cultures are, well, it’s punitive if you make a mistake.

Christopher Jones: [00:19:07] Well, yeah. It’s risk-adverse culture. It’s so dangerous. A quick story actually, I had done some executive coaching at nuclear power plants for a period of time. So, I was traveling to nuclear power plants and doing face-to-face executive coaching. And one of the problems of one of the plants we’re working with is that they had a risk-adverse culture so much that they were not getting anything done.

Christopher Jones: [00:19:32] It gets, "I’m too afraid to stick my neck out and to do something needs to be done because if I make a mistake, man the hammer is going to come down hard on me." And they were not making progress. They were not moving forward because they had too much of a risk-adverse culture. Now, you can imagine that’s a very hard balance at a nuclear plant. I mean, you’ve got to be safe. Yeah, I guess, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:19:54] Right.

Christopher Jones: [00:19:54] But not to the detriment of growing the business in and growing the culture, so you’re learning from these mistakes. It’s that low-risk mistakes are okay.

Peter Margaritis: [00:20:07] So, that behavior had been learned at some point in time by someone that, "I made this mistake. I took a risk, I made a mistake and it was very punitive." And as that leader was probably going to their team, "No, no, no, don’t make that. Don’t do that." They’re not allowing them, "Don’t go up those ladders or whatever because something bad is going to happen." And it just—and now, it creates several subcultures within the organization.

Christopher Jones: [00:20:37] Yeah. And let’s be honest here. Those types of cultures and those type of mindset, it all comes from the top. There’s no other place. The responsibility for that type of culture is from the top.

Peter Margaritis: [00:20:51] Yes. And it’s the wrong culture to have. I get being safe. And recently, I was at a company that supplies some of the stuff to nuclear power plants and builds these things. And they had a very safe environment. But they are not all risk-adverse. They’re allowed to take risks or allowed to lean into those things. So, it just—and it also empowers, inspires new ideas.

Christopher Jones: [00:21:28] Sure.

Peter Margaritis: [00:21:28] And right now, that’s the key. And leadership is the ability because I’ve said this before on this podcast, and I may have said it on yours, that the collective knowledge outside of your office far exceeds the collective knowledge inside your office.

Christopher Jones: [00:21:42] True.

Peter Margaritis: [00:21:43] So, how well you are utilizing your team, how well you are helping them to help you solve your problem versus, "I’ve got all the answers."

Christopher Jones: [00:21:52] That’s old-school thinking. The fact that the leader has to have all the answers, that’s gone. That does not exist anymore. There’s not a requirement of a leader anymore.

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:02] But we see it.

Christopher Jones: [00:22:03] I know.

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:05] We see it and there’s still some companies that are operating that way.

Christopher Jones: [00:22:10] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:10] And you kind of wonder, "Oh, hey. Wait a minute. I’m going to get shot for this one." But leadership styles and things, Macy’s department store, just recently said they’ve been closing 125 stores.

Christopher Jones: [00:22:22] I saw that. Including their headquarters, I think, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:24] Headquarters in Cincinnati. It’s been a long-standing building. And then, you’re thinking about, "Okay. Is that also leadership?" And then, you go, "Okay. Let’s look at Kmart and Sears and GE." And how—maybe that thought process is what has driven them out of business versus that new leadership thought process, which is just the opposite. But as you well know and you can attest to, this doesn’t come overnight.

Christopher Jones: [00:22:55] No. Well, you know, one of the things that I tell leaders and one of the most powerful things I think a leader can say is, "I need help." Because your team, they’re waiting for you to ask. I know a lot of leaders will think, you know, "I’m the leader. I have to have all the answers. I feel like I look weak if I ask for help." Think about this. The fact that you have a team is proof that you need help.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:19] Right.

Christopher Jones: [00:23:19] Because if you didn’t need help, you wouldn’t need a team. They’re doing all the things you can’t do, but they’re waiting for you to say, "I need your help. And I don’t have all the answers."

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:30] And I think you just described a leader being vulnerable.

Christopher Jones: [00:23:35] Yeah, that’s key. Don’t pretend like you are this fantastic leader because your entire team knows that you’re not, right? Have you ever worked for a leader that are pretending to have it all together and they know all what they’re doing, but you know that they don’t, like just admit it, "Just admit you don’t and we’ll help you." But the fact that you’re pretending like you have it all together, you know everything actually is eroding your effectiveness as a leader.

Peter Margaritis: [00:24:00] Exactly. But what’s getting in the way? What’s stopping that from happening for the person who thinks they know it all? Their ego.

Christopher Jones: [00:24:09] That’s exactly right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:24:11] Their ego is so overdeveloped, it’s eating itself.

Christopher Jones: [00:24:15] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:24:15] And I had a situation not too long ago and of course, I was teaching and a gentleman walked in on, "Oh, it’s that guy again."

Christopher Jones: [00:24:22] Oh, gosh.

Peter Margaritis: [00:24:23] The I’m the smartest guy in the room and nobody can say anything because I have all the right answers and all this information should appeal to me. And then, we go on, "How do you-" And he manages a team. I just sit there and go, "I’m not sure. I wonder what the turnover rate of that team is."

Christopher Jones: [00:24:43] I know. Well, I tell you, it’s higher than others that aren’t acting like that.

Peter Margaritis: [00:24:47] Well, right. But then, we look we look at these leaders out there and they set the tone, they set the culture, but the business doesn’t grow. Now, how do we get this new leadership style to be more—it’s getting better, but there’s still that resistance. How do we get it to become more mainstream? How do you work with your clients to get them to change their mindset?

Christopher Jones: [00:25:18] Well, that’s a real struggle in my business. It certainly is. It’s very difficult, if not impossible for me to be assigned someone to coach as a leader. I’ll tell you a quick story. Actually, one of my first coaching clients I worked with at the nuclear plant was with this guy. He’s called the shift the shift manager. Now, when I think of shift manager, I think of when I worked at a grocery store, there was a night-shift manager and a day-shift manager.

Peter Margaritis: [00:25:49] Yeah.

Christopher Jones: [00:25:49] That’s not what we’re talking about here. At a nuclear power plant, the shift manager, they are ultimately responsible for everything that happens at the nuclear plant while they’re on shift, including the site vice president. They have to—anything he says needs to be done, he’s accountable for it. So, in other words, if something really bad happens at a nuclear plant, they’re the ones going to prison. So, this guy has been a shift manager for 30 years. And I will tell you, nuclear plants are scrutinized beyond belief.

Christopher Jones: [00:26:22] You would not believe—they have laborers of the day coming and all the time trying to fix them and trying to—so, I had one of my early coaching sessions with this leader. And of course, he had an attitude. And he’s like, you know, maybe the second or third meeting with him, he said, "Chris, I got to tell you, first off", this one-page plan thing which we helped them put together, their leadership plan, he said, "that leadership plan, that’s really good. I can see myself using that with my team, so that’s a great tool. But this whole coaching thing, I think it’s a waste of time. I think it’s a waste of money. I really don’t want anything to do with it."

Christopher Jones: [00:26:57] It’s one of those kinds of out-of-body experiences where I don’t know where the words came from, but somehow, these words came through me and came out. And what I said to him was, "First off, thank you for sharing with me that you think this is a waste of time and money. I can appreciate that. And I’d rather know than to not know I’m banging my head against a wall, like, ‘What the heck? Why am I not getting through?’ So, I appreciate you being transparent with me and sharing with me."

Christopher Jones: [00:27:22] And I went further on then say, "Now, I’m being paid to be your consultant and to be your coach, what I’d like to suggest is that why don’t we continue to meet? I’m going to share with you the same concepts and tools and ideas that I’m sharing with the other leaders I’m working with here so that when you go to a meeting, you’re just not caught off guard. But I’m not going to expect you to do anything. I’m not going to ask you to do anything. I’m not going to ask you to do any homework. I’m not going ask—I’m just going to give you all of the information I’m sharing with everyone else."

Christopher Jones: [00:27:51] He looked back, he’s like, "Well, it’s hard to argue against that one. I guess let’s try that. We’ll try that for a while." He ended up being one of the very best leaders I ever coached because I disarmed him, right? And I said, he’s an adult. I mean, he’s seen every flavor that they go through. I totally get it. I can never make a leader do anything. All I can do is present to them some concepts or ideas or some suggestions and really quite honestly, help them to discover the answers that are already inside them. Most of the time, the answers are right there. I just help them to discover on their own.

Christopher Jones: [00:28:27] And if they discover on their own, they’re way more likely to actually do it. So, to go back to your original question, you know, I have a hard time when I get assigned to someone to work with as a coach. I have much more success if the leader recognizes they need help and they come to me for help. So, that’s where most of the leaders I work with are those who recognize that. So, if someone does not want to get better as a leader, it’s very hard—you cannot really force them to. Except to help them have that aha moment like, "Maybe I could get a little better." That’s what I love about great leaders. I mean, some of the most fantastic leaders you know, they know they still can get better.

Peter Margaritis: [00:29:07] Right.

Christopher Jones: [00:29:07] It’s never over for them.

Peter Margaritis: [00:29:09] So, when you’re working with these folks that want to become better leaders, is there a common thread that all of them are struggling with? That-

Christopher Jones: [00:29:20] Yeah. No question. It’s actually the delegation and accountability one is I think what most leaders struggle with that is pretty consistent with just about every leader I work with. So, I work with them and help them understand new ways to think about how to delegate. One of the things I shared with them is what I call phases of delegation where when you’re delegating something, you just don’t throw it over the wall and just expect them to do it.

Christopher Jones: [00:29:49] It all depends on the amount of trust they’ve earned with you. So, it might be, "I’m going to give you a very specific task. I need you to go do this. And this is exactly how you do it. Go do it right now." Like that’s phase one, right? And it goes up through four phases. And ultimately, the ultimate delegation is where it’s now a full bona fide part of their job and you barely even know it happens anymore.

Christopher Jones: [00:30:13] But there are steps to go through between this. So, you have to decide at what level or what phase the delegation is appropriate for what you’re asking them to do and then, delegate at that phase. So, I help leaders with understanding and thinking about delegation differently in ways they don’t think of otherwise. Because most people don’t get really an education and delegation in how to do it effectively.

Peter Margaritis: [00:30:35] Right. And what I hear most people say is, "So, I can get it done quicker and better and right. It’s going to take me much more time to do this." And then, I go, "Well, yeah, but is this task that you—is it still in your job description or is it in that person’s job description?" Because if it is in your job description and you’re doing it, you can’t complain for being there for 12, 13, 14 hours, that’s you. But there’s some folks, and I know a few and I’ve recognized myself, I was one of them, who had a little bit—they’re control enthusiasts in certain parts of their business, in certain parts of the leadership that I’m the only one who can do it. Well, you know what, I got to just let go.

Christopher Jones: [00:31:23] Yeah, you do. Was it—Mark Victor Hansen I think said that he delegates absolutely everything he possibly can except for his genius. What he’s really saying there is that he’s very clear about what are the things that only he can do and no one else can. And if there’s anything that anyone else could possibly do, he delegates it.

Peter Margaritis: [00:31:50] I love that. And as a solopreneur who’s had this business now—this is my 10th year and I’ve just now delegated some—and I’ll do it—I’m following your approach. I’m not just going, "Do this."

Christopher Jones: [00:32:09] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:32:09] Well, I know it’s going to be a six-month curve for me and them, but I’m now starting to push stuff off that I need to be focusing on the genius aspect of it and continue to work on my platform skill, continue to work on my craft, invest more of my time into that versus the administrative side. But it does take time. But I’ve noticed that, okay, all of a sudden, this time subject free up, all of a sudden, more things are getting done. I just had to—well, is it the movie Frozen, let go? Is that the song or something like that?

Christopher Jones: [00:32:40] Yeah. Something like that.

Peter Margaritis: [00:32:41] It’s something like that. Yeah. Yeah.

Christopher Jones: [00:32:43] Yeah. The unfortunate thing about delegation is yes, you’re right. It does take time. And it’s not quick. As a matter of fact, it can take more time to delegate than it does to actually just do it. But as you were saying, it’s an investment that pays you dividends in the long run. So, you just have to invest that upfront knowing that it’s going to pay dividends way, way down the road.

Peter Margaritis: [00:33:06] And it doesn’t happen overnight.

Christopher Jones: [00:33:08] No. I wish it did.

Peter Margaritis: [00:33:09] And it’s—yeah, I wish it did, too. I wish I can hit a switch. And it becomes even more challenging when you’ve got remote employees that you are trying to delegate to, as well as lead.

Christopher Jones: [00:33:23] Which means you have to delegate even more. I mean, it’s even more important you’re delegating this the most effective way possible.

Peter Margaritis: [00:33:31] Exactly. Because you empower the team, you get more out of them in the long run, but it takes a while to build up trust. And that’s the key. You know, I worked for some really terrible leaders and I’ve worked for some really great ones. And one of them was to this day, I’ve learned more from—she had this little edge about it, but I loved it. And she called me a human being one day and no leader ever called me a human being. Have you ever been called a human being by some of your own leaders?

Christopher Jones: [00:34:05] I was called an FTE one time. More than one time, actually.

Peter Margaritis: [00:34:10] Well, yeah. That’s probably the ultimate insult, but I had made a pretty large mistake and I thought she was going to like just shoot me upside down or the other and she didn’t until she asked me what’s my solution. And I had none. Then, she did that. But when she was done, she said, "Look, I expect you to make mistakes because you’re human."

Christopher Jones: [00:34:35] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:34:35] "Well, I also expect you to come in here with a solution. Now, get out of my office. Come back in an hour with a solution to the problem."

Christopher Jones: [00:34:44] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:34:44] I shared that in a lot of my presentations. And you wouldn’t believe how many leaders, managers would go, "No, I just take care of that. I don’t-" They come in with their problems. I go, "It’s just eating up your day."

Christopher Jones: [00:34:59] Well, back to what you’re saying before, that’s ego right there.

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:02] Right.

Christopher Jones: [00:35:03] I get to solve the problem. I get to be the firefighter that puts out the fire. And that that feels really good, but it’s not what is healthy for your team and your organization. As a matter of fact, when you’re a leader you hardly ever get credit when done right. If you’re getting credit for being a leader, you’re doing it wrong. Your team should be getting all the credit for all the great work that they do.

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:26] Right. Exactly. And I use this example. And I pulled up the article recently NFL, the Arizona Cardinals are playing the Seattle Seahawks. Game ends in overtime tied 3-3. Both kickers missed field goals, this game-winning field goals. And during the press conference, Bruce Arians, coach of the Arizona Cardinals just basically through his kicker under the bus, said, "We pay him to kick the ball.

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:55] He’s supposed to kick the ball through the upright." And so, you can hear the muzzle, thump, thump, thump, thump, as he just—Pete Carroll said, "I love my guy, Christopher is my guy. I love Christopher. He had a bad day. He’ll do better next time. But I have my faith and trust in him." And two days later, Inc. magazine and I think Fortune both came out with articles on that leadership style.

Christopher Jones: [00:36:19] Yeah. Oh, my gosh. There’s abuse of power. That’s a powerful contrast between the two. I love that story. You got to tell that story every time. That’s a really good one. Aha moment.

Peter Margaritis: [00:36:32] I will send you the article. I did pull it, save it to my evidence. I’ll find it and send it to you, but it was. And I actually watched the game. And then, I heard about it and I went, "Wow, there are two different styles of leadership." Two days later, man, they will write it up big time. So, this about three, four years ago.

Christopher Jones: [00:36:50] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:36:51] But we see that dichotomy in leadership.

Christopher Jones: [00:36:54] What’s that kicker thinking on the Cardinals team the next game? And when the press is really on, what’s he thinking?

Peter Margaritis: [00:37:02] He better not miss it but he’s going to miss it because now, he’s overthinking it.

Christopher Jones: [00:37:06] Oh, absolutely. Oh, my gosh. I do not want to hear the wrath of the coach here. But now, he’s spending all this cycle time and energy on not getting chewed out rather than I’m just going to do my job and kick the ball. I’m going to do my very best right now, which is what the Seattle kicker is doing. "I know my coach is behind me. He’s going to support me no matter what. I’m just going to focus on doing my job and doing the very best."

Peter Margaritis: [00:37:31] "And I’m allowed to make a mistake."

Christopher Jones: [00:37:33] Yes, yes.

Peter Margaritis: [00:37:34] "I’m allowed to have a bad day." I don’t—I should research this. I don’t believe that kicker was with the Cardinals very much longer after that. I don’t know if he made it through the end of the season or they didn’t pick him up the next year, but I would please somebody else to take me.

Christopher Jones: [00:37:54] Please. I know. Anybody.

Peter Margaritis: [00:37:56] Anybody but this team right now. And leadership, it’s like you said, it’s not easy, but why do people think you it is this? Why do people think they can come to you for coaching and want you to leave, "Oh, I’ve got it all. I could go or come to a seminar. Oh, now, I’m a leader." No, you’re not. You’re starting to become the leader.

Christopher Jones: [00:38:21] Yeah. It’s a lifelong development. It’s a lifelong learning. And unfortunately, those who are really good leaders, like we said earlier, they make it look easy, but it’s taken them maybe 20 years to make it look easy and natural. You just don’t see what it took for them to get there. Most have learned through hard knocks.

Peter Margaritis: [00:38:40] Exactly. Through a lot of hard knocks. And the other aspect of it is I don’t believe people take the opportunity. I believe that not everyone wants to be a leader.

Christopher Jones: [00:38:52] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:38:52] I also believe that there’s people out there who do, but they don’t look for the opportunities to learn early on.

Christopher Jones: [00:38:59] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:38:59] In volunteering, I learned a lot of my leadership style through what volunteers of the Ohio Society of CPAs. The CEO, Clark Price, who, I mean, I learned more from that gentleman in the leadership than I have in many other organizations. But I would volunteer for committees, I would chair committees. I would put myself and yes, I would fail and I would screw up, but I learned. But I think that those other opportunities other than what’s inside the building. We’re shortsighted in ourselves and that training, that learning.

Christopher Jones: [00:39:33] Yeah, it’s a great place to practice, right? Practice your leadership. You said another thing that not everybody wants to be a leader and I hope people listening to this will hear that. It’s okay to decide not to be a leader. Not everybody is meant to be a leader. And it’s perfectly fine and okay to decide, "You know what, I’m not just going to be in a leadership role. It just does not like get me excited." Fantastic. You can still have a hugely successful career without having to be a leader. So, don’t think that being a leader equals being successful in your career.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:09] Right. And perhaps something early on that, you know, we get these folks who are very competent in their job and they get promoted in the leadership positions and they fail. Two years ago, there was an article in Harvard Business Review, you know, high-performing people don’t make the best leaders or something along the title. And they talked about these highly technical individuals, these very competent, but they don’t want to become leaders. They don’t want to manage people. They don’t like talking to people. They just want to do their job. But when we shove them in those roles, they fail and then, they have to leave. And that knowledge is walking out the door. Find a way to keep these people in your business, make them happy, create new job titles for them.

Christopher Jones: [00:41:01] Yeah. Embrace them, love them.

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:03] Love them for their technical and their knowledge, but just recognize not everyone’s a leader. Don’t try to keep putting that square peg in a round hole.

Christopher Jones: [00:41:12] So true.

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:13] So, you remember the National Speakers Association. You’re in the Virginia chapter. How long have you been a member, professional member?

Christopher Jones: [00:41:20] You know, I just joined this past summer, actually. Over the past probably two years or so, the speaking part of my business has really grown actually without me trying very much. So then, I realized, maybe I should put a little more effort into this whole speaking thing because obviously. I got a lot of people asking me to speak. So, I just put that on the back burner for so long as I was trying to build my business. And then, when everybody’s coming to me asking me to speak, that was my message, saying, "Chris, it’s time to make that a bigger part of your business now." So, I just joined this past summer, actually. And it’s a great group.

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:55] So, you’ve just joined and you’re a professional member of NSA and the Virginia chapter and Mary Foley.

Christopher Jones: [00:42:02] Oh, I love Mary Foley.

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:03] I will have to tell you, I love her to death, but I have to give her a call because—well, maybe, let me ask this question. Are you now on the board?

Christopher Jones: [00:42:13] I am not. I believe she’s looking for board members at the moment, actually. It’s time to fill those gaps. I actually saw a video from her recently.

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:23] It’s funny because I mean, when I joined the Ohio chapter, they caught wind of my experience. I’ve been on the board from the Ohio Society of CPAs and so on and so forth, that, you know, "We have a new member. Oh, he’s our new board member, too."

Christopher Jones: [00:42:39] That’s a way to get a board member right there.

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:41] Exactly. And actually, a couple chapter meetings that goes, someone said, "Yeah, we have some new members. Hey, welcome to the board." And everybody started laughing and they had this look of terror on their face.

Christopher Jones: [00:42:57] That’s funny.

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:57] But I tell you, leadership in NSA does create or develop new leadership skills. Immediate past president of our chapter, I’ve learned a lot added stuff that I didn’t have there before through that process of spending time as the president. And Mary has doubled that by spending two years in the role as president.

Christopher Jones: [00:43:26] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:43:26] She’s going to go off and into the sunset here coming up and probably sit on the porch and just sip some nice red wine.

Christopher Jones: [00:43:34] I tell you—yeah, I’m sure it’s some red wine for sure. She’s so amazing. Seriously, I don’t know there’s anyone better in that role as president right now for where the chapter is at the moment. She’s just—truly, I’m such a big fan of Mary Foley. She’s just a terrific person and she’s doing a great job for this chapter.

Peter Margaritis: [00:43:53] If she’d just be a little enthusiastic, don’t you think?

Christopher Jones: [00:43:56] I know. She’d maybe explode actually if that were to happen.

Peter Margaritis: [00:44:00] Right. Yeah. Mary has a ton of energy. Love her energy. Love her passion. And she epitomizes what a true leader can be. And to your world, an authentic leader because everything about her is extremely authentic.

Christopher Jones: [00:44:14] She is. You know, I’ve had her on my podcast as well. Since we’ve talked about her, we should probably tell people how to reach her because there’s enough interest, I’m sure, people—I think it’s maryfoley.com if that’s okay to plug someone that’s not on this.

Peter Margaritis: [00:44:27] Absolutely. And her e-mail is mary@maryfoley.com. Website is maryfoley.com. She’s a wonderful leader, high energy. I’ve known her now for two or three years. And I have a question sometimes, call her up, send her an email. I mean, she’s all over it. She’s wonderful. And now, she’s going to have to buy us cocktails at Influence because we really helped increase her brand out there.

Christopher Jones: [00:44:55] She has my favorite website when you first come to the very first picture that shows up of her and I won’t say any more about it so that we can tease people to go check out her website. The picture she has on there is so 100% Mary Foley. And you’ll get what I mean when you look at it.

Peter Margaritis: [00:45:11] Yes. Yes, you will. And as soon as you said that, I had the picture of her home page, it’s very powerful. I absolutely love it. Now, we cannot end this without you plugging your website, your business. How can folks get in contact with you?

Christopher Jones: [00:45:29] Yeah. The best way to reach me is christopherrjones.com. We talked before how there are a lot of Chris Jones’s in this world. So, the best way to be in the unique is I’m christopherrjones.com. Also, I live a lot on LinkedIn. So, LinkedIn is a fantastic way to reach me. I post a lot of things on LinkedIn. I do a lot of commenting on there. So, I would definitely encourage people to check out my LinkedIn page. And then, try to think even what—probably, on your show notes page, you’ll have a link to it.

Peter Margaritis: [00:46:01] Yes.

Christopher Jones: [00:46:01] I think it’s something like I am Christopher Jones or something. I can’t remember exactly what the name is. But additionally, I use Instagram. And Instagram is kind of a behind the scenes of Chris Jones. I post on stories there and it’s typically not necessarily where my clients see, but if you want to kind of see what’s Chris doing day-to-day and what’s some of the weird stuff that he does and where is he right now, Instagram Stories, I’ve been posting on there pretty frequently.

Peter Margaritis: [00:46:32] Oh, cool. I follow you on all social media. I didn’t realize you’re on Instagram. I will connect with you there as well. So, as a parting word or parting piece of advice to the audience, what would you tell them on this topic of leadership?

Christopher Jones: [00:46:46] I should be better prepared for this question. I think it’s just so important that people do a self-evaluation and just check yourself. Unfortunately, we talked about this earlier that those who have a strong ego in their leadership don’t realize or want to admit that they have strong ego, but those leaders who feel like they aren’t as good as they can be and need to be better, I mean, those are humble leaders.

Christopher Jones: [00:47:12] And those are the leaders who are going to be even better leaders in the future. My strong encouragement is to just be recognized as the kind of leader that your team would follow you anywhere. They would do anything you ask for. And it’s because, like I mentioned before, that you would do anything that you’re asking them to do. And if your team is following you, because they want to, it has nothing to do with your title, you’re a very effective leader.

Peter Margaritis: [00:47:38] And with that, we’ll call it an end. Thank you so very much, Chris, for taking time. I’ve enjoyed our conversation. I look forward to crossing paths with you soon.

Christopher Jones: [00:47:45] Me, too. You’re a fantastic interviewer. Thank you, Peter.

Peter Margaritis: [00:47:50] I’d like to thank Christopher for taking time to share what it takes to be an authentic leader. Now that you know what an authentic leader is, what changes in your mindset do you need to employ so that you can be calm and authentic clear? Something to ponder until the next time you listen to my podcast. Thank you again for listening. And if you enjoyed the podcast, please take a moment and leave a review on iTunes or whatever platform you download your podcast from. Also, please subscribe and share this episode with a friend. Make today and every day your best day.

Announcer: [00:48:32] Like what you just heard? Because it’s c-suiteradio.com. C-Suite Radio, turning the volume up on business.

S3E3. Making Accounting Come Alive with Peter Frampton

Peter Frampton has found a way to make accounting come alive. Peter is a financial literacy advocate. He’s a Co-Founder of Color Accounting International, which teaches finance to non-financial people using a breakthrough graphical system. What lights Peter up is awakening people to a life of abundance.

Peter started his career at KPMG and is a Fellow of Chartered Accountants Australia, New Zealand. He’s an adjunct faculty at American University in Washington DC and has taught at a wide range of organizations from large Wall Street banks and law firms through micro-businesses in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. 

A better understanding of accounting will only help you and your employees become better stewards of your organization. The more that you and your employees have a basic understanding of accounting will only help the organization thrive because everyone can see the financial impact that they’re having on the organization.

Peter was an exemplary student in high school, but in my first year at University in South Africa he failed accounting — the first thing he had really failed at in his life.

He left South Africa to go to Australia, where I got his first job at KPMG as an audito. It was then that he began to realize it wasn’t just him — nobody really understood accounting. He shared his story with Mark Robilliard, the national training manager at KPMG, and he said, “There must be a better way.”

Steve Jobs has been quoted as saying “You can’t connect the dots moving forward, you can only connect them looking back.” One of those dots for Peter was the accessibility of the color printer. Before that, it was harder for the average person to publish their work in color. Peter and Mark printed a color-coded diagram to help make things easier to recognize and understand.

Accountants know how to record and measure, but they can’t get the message across to others. Being able to communicate is a declarative ability. It is absolutely critical.

For accounting professionals, make no mistake — the Color Accounting work is communication work. They will learn techniques and develop insights that will enable them to communicate their value so much better, making a positive impact on people by communicating more powerfully. And in the end, the work will be more productive and more appreciated.

How are you and your organization going to improve your financial literacy? The first step is to change your mindset and recognize that learning accounting is not as scary as you thought, and vitally important in growing your business.

Resources:

Transcript:

Click to download the full Transcript PDF.

Peter Frampton: So, I want to look you in the eye and I will find your missing link. And when you get it, you will be elated. And it’s fantastic. And yeah, I don’t want PowerPoint to get in the way of that. I want to be with you as a human being.

Peter Margaritis: Welcome to Change Your Mindset podcast, formerly known as Improv Is No Joke, where it’s all about believing that strong communication skills are the best way in delivering your technical accounting knowledge and growing your business. An effective way of building stronger communication skills is by embracing the principles of applied improvisation. Your host is Peter Margaritis, CPA, a.k.a. the Accidental Accountant. And he will interview financial professionals and business leaders to find their secret in building stronger relationships with their clients, customers, associates and peers, all the while growing their businesses. So, let’s start the show.

Peter Margaritis: When you hear the words accounting seminar, is the first thing that comes to mind is that you would rather have a root canal with no novacaine than to sit in an accounting seminar or are you remembering your college experience when you are registered and mandatory required to take an accounting course or does the words accounting seminar make you very, very sleepy? Well, my guest, Peter Frampton. Yes, you heard me correctly. Peter Frampton, but not the one that you’re thinking of, has found a way to make accounting come alive.

Peter Margaritis: Peter’s a financial literacy advocate. He’s a Co-Founder of Color Accounting International, which teaches finance to non-financial people using a breakthrough graphical system. What lights Peter up is awakening people to a life of abundance. And he talks about this during our interview. Now, Peter started his career at KPMG and is a Fellow of Chartered Accountants Australia, New Zealand. He’s an adjunct faculty at American University in Washington DC and has taught at a wide range of organizations from large Wall Street banks and law firms through micro-businesses in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Peter Margaritis: Peter currently lives with his family in Geneva, Switzerland. Peter was recognized for founding South Africa’s most successful technology incubator in the country of his birth. Now, I’ve taught accounting for many years at a variety of university and colleges and I’ve always, always, always tried to make accounting fun and simple. Now, I’ve gotten close, but as Maxwell Smart once said, missed it by that much. Yeah. Not close enough. However, in March 2019, I attended a demonstration of Color Accounting and almost immediately recognized that they had found the solution.

Peter Margaritis: I went through Color Accounting’s training to get rewired in their way of teaching and communicating accounting concepts. Now, I facilitate my first course to a group of 24 engineers and project managers at Westinghouse in Chicago last month. Wow. This really is a game changer. And I shared my experience to Peter in this interview. Now, anyone who’s in business should listen to this episode to help grow your business.

Peter Margaritis: A better understanding of accounting will only help you and your employees become better stewards of your organization. The more that you and your employees have a basic understanding of accounting will only help the organization thrive because everyone can see the financial impact that they’re having on the organization. This is what I witnessed at the end of my seminar at Westinghouse. I hope you enjoy this episode. And before we get to the interview, let me take care of some housekeeping issues.

Announcer: This podcast is part of the C-Suite Radio Network, turning the volume off on business.

Peter Margaritis: And now, a word from our sponsor.

Sponsor: This episode is sponsored by Peter A. Margaritas, LLC, a.k.a. The Accidental Accountant. Are you looking for a high-content and engaging speaker for your next conference? Do you want to deliver a story to stakeholders that will transform data dumping to engaging business conversations? Do you want to feel that the value a speaker provides your audience far exceeds the dollar value on their invoice? Then, book Peter for your next conference, management retreat or workshop. Contact Peter at peter@petermargaritis.com and visit his website at www.petermargaritis.com. By the way, one of his Fortune 50 clients actually made the comment about the value he brings to your audience.

Peter Margaritis: I have put in the show notes the links to Color Accounting website, a PDF of the basis framework and a link to a 30-minute video that outlines the methodology. If you’d like to contact Peter, please send him an email at peter@coloraccounting.com or his co-founder, Mark Robilliard at mark@coloraccounting.com and mention that you learned about them from this episode. And now, let’s get to the interview with Peter Frampton.

Peter Margaritis: Hey, welcome back, everybody. My guest today, you may have heard of him. My guest today is Peter Frampton. One, two, three. But not that Peter Frampton. This is the accounting and finance version of Peter Frampton. And Peter Frampton is the Co-Founder of Color Accounting. And Peter, first, thank you for taking time out of your hectic schedule to be with me on my podcast.

Peter Frampton: It’s an absolute pleasure to be here. It really is a pleasure to be here.

Peter Margaritis: And I have to admit, so back in February or March of last year, I get this LinkedIn request from Peter Frampton and I go, "This is so cool." And then, I went, "Wait a minute."

Peter Frampton: Oh, disappointing.

Peter Margaritis: Actually, not so much disappointing, but curious because it’s a really cool name. I know you get compliments and people make comments about it all the time. But that is a really cool name.

Peter Frampton: Yeah. You know, it’s not such a common name because it’s an English name, you know, from England. And actually, I went to the concert of the one that we all know, like the famous guitarist. And I waved him down and I said, "My name is Peter Frampton." Actually, I wasn’t waving him, I was waving his manager down. He went backstage with my driver’s license. And then, now, I wait backstage and got this autograph from the famous Peter Frampton, who I think, yeah, what, he had the biggest live album in 1976, which was in Guinness Book of Records for Michael Jackson. And his famous one or his famous song is Show Me The Way, right? So, I feel like yeah, I’m showing people the way in my work, too. And yeah, it was fun.

Peter Margaritis: And if I—correct me if I’m wrong, you have a picture of Peter Frampton, autographed picture from one Peter Frampton to the other Peter Frampton?

Peter Frampton: You know, when he was autographing that he’s actually Framp and hang on, it’s not Framp, its’ two, so he crossed it out in two and hang on, it is Framp. He had a little momentary identity crisis.

Peter Margaritis: Yeah. And when you started this business, you actually called it Accounting Comes Alive.

Peter Frampton: Well, that’s what we do. We make accounting come alive. And yes, sometimes, we still trade by Accounting Comes Alive. We’d like to think that we make accounting come alive.

Peter Margaritis: And you do from somebody who has taught accounting at the university level for 10 years and someone who’s a CPA and has gone through all of this continuing education. In March of last year when Mark and Craig came to Maryland and did the demonstration. Jackie Brown, the Chief Operating Officer for the Maryland Association sent me a text, what, "I love watching your face and you’re bouncing up and down in your chair during this demonstration." And she was right. I was sitting there just bouncing up and down because I realized you guys figured it out. You figured out how to make accounting simple. And I commend you guys. I mean, give us the story in how you—I mean, that didn’t come in overnight.

Peter Frampton: No. Things don’t come overnight. And yeah. I mean, how far do you want me—you want me to get back to the genesis, right?

Peter Margaritis: The genesis, yeah. Kind of start at the beginning.

Peter Frampton: That’s me failing accounts 101. And I got honors and all that from my high school exams and suddenly, on my first year at University in South Africa that’s connected here and I failed accounting. And I feel stupid because it’s like I’m helpless. I’ve tried, I’ve tried. I was so shocked. It’s the first thing I’ve really failed in my life and I fell down the stairs and sprained my ankle. And over on the other side of the world, Mark Robilliard was having his own story.

Peter Frampton: And so, you know, I guess, you go back to the scene of the crime, so I immigrated. It was the bad old days of apartheid. And I left South Africa and I went to Australia where I got my first job. Well, I thought, "Well, what do I do? I’m going to Australia", right? And there was military service that I did go on or I did back in South Africa. And I got a job at KPMG and was an auditor and so on. And then, started to realize, you know, people don’t understand this stuff.

Peter Frampton: I mean, I didn’t either. I think accounting is a subject where there’s quite a loose correlation between qualifying, passing your exams and truly understanding it. You know, understanding it. I mean, it’s a little bit intimidating, perhaps, but that’s how I felt. And I shared my story with Mark Robilliard when I’d been posted to the national office and he was the national training manager. And we said, "You know, there must be a better way. It must be solvable, this issue of accounting, learning accounting being hard."

Peter Frampton: And so, we began a quest. And now, we parted ways. You know, we started to experiment. We looked and parted ways. And actually, I found myself back in South Africa running a not-for-profit incubator, a startup incubator, which was fun. And I liked it and I’m proud of it. It won awards and things in the end and it’s still going. So, it’s South Africa’s oldest information technology incubator. And I started incubating Mark and my ideas in that incubator.

Peter Frampton: And that’s why it was called, Accounting Comes Alive. In fact, you know what, it was actually called The Radical Accounting School because it was radical. But something had happened that looking back—you know, the brilliant Steve Jobs, he wasn’t a very nice guy, was he? But he was brilliant. And the one thing he said was, you know, you join the dots later and the little pieces, like in my case, even the failure, you know, they will make sense later.

Peter Frampton: And one of the dots that then we joined and realized, well, that was historically significant was the color printer come along. And like literally, of course, it being color printed, don’t get me wrong, it was hardboard Heidelberg presses and factories all around the world. But the desktop color printer, in fact, was the HP 500C, Hewlett-Packard 500 color printer come along, along with desktop publishing, right? What they then called desktop publishing, obviously.

Peter Frampton: And you could not print and muck around with color yourself. And so, that’s what we did. And we printed a diagram and eventually, we printed it. Let’s put the balance sheet and income statement together. And now, we were using—we’d use color coding, which was one of the sort of original formative ideas with like debit is green and credit is orange and mucked around with this diagram. And then, here’s the important thing. We started to realize that we didn’t understand the diagram.

Peter Frampton: So, he wrote a diagram to explain accounting, but you realize you don’t understand the diagram. And for example, you know, it also—what it does is it unpacks—the most confusion in accounting is inherently caused by the duality. You know, we all know about double-entry, right? Double-entry accounting. But double-entry is actually a consequence of the fundamental duality which gives us both sides of the balance sheet. And it’s the collapsing of the duality that causes the problems.

Peter Frampton: People think revenue is money. People think liability is the money that you owe. Both of those are wrong. Revenue is not money and that liability is not money. They’ve monetized, but they’re not money. And so, it went. And, you know, stumble, stumble, stumble and the courage to look a bit foolish as we were trying different things. You know, one of the fabulous memories for me was quite early on in the piece. This young man came in, probably, you know, 22 years old or something, he was a Black South African man.

Peter Frampton: And he came back and we were running the early versions of the Color Accounting workshops over four nights, so they’re four Wednesday nights. He came in on the second Wednesday night and he said, "I’m so excited I couldn’t sleep." And there was the middle-class bourgeois side of me that said, "Oh, get a life." You know, really. But I quickly caught myself and realized, no, hang on a second. For this guy, it’s the difference between life in a shack, literally a tin shack.

Peter Frampton: I mean, you have to be in Africa to know that kind of level of poverty and a middle-class life. In a way, he would own fridges and cars. And so, I realized it was more than that. He was so excited that he couldn’t sleep at night and he’d paid for four private courses because, of course, the apartheid state and the bad old evil days before Nelson Mandela had deliberately under-educated him. That’s what the apartheid education was set up to do, to under-educate Black South Africans, so they could only do menial work.

Peter Frampton: And so, he had paid for these four very expensive courses. And finally, he got it. And then, he said, "I’m so excited. I’m not stupid." You know, Peter, the privilege and, you know, the honor for me of being part of having that impact in someone’s life from this point, education is just the best and most noble and best fun you can have because what an impression you have, you can have on people’s lives.

Peter Margaritis: And you guys are having a huge impact on individual lives as you interact with a variety of individuals, a variety of companies. So, I witnessed this firsthand. So, I did my first Color Accounting earlier in January 2020 to a group of engineers and project managers, about 24 of them. And you—I mean, for the company. May I say the company?

Peter Frampton: Please. Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: It was Westinghouse. And you guys have been in Westinghouse for a couple years. So, there are stories about how powerful this is. But still, these guys are taking time out of their life to sit in an accounting class? So, I kind of mentioned, "Wouldn’t you guys rather have like a root canal without novacaine versus taking an accounting class?" They all chuckled and stuff. But as I was going through this method, the basis method and the duality and all that, I started to see them get it. But the more powerful thing was when they actually got it and realized their impact, individual impact that they have on the financial position of the company was just—it just blew my mind.

Peter Frampton: Yeah. Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: And they walked out and said, you know, this far exceeded their expectations.

Peter Frampton: Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: And like I said, you guys, I’ve been struggling trying to find a simplistic way for years, I shared with you guys. You have found it. And the impact that you have on organizations and have them understand the financial responsibility of employees.

Peter Frampton: Yeah. Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: Once they get it.

Peter Frampton: And it—well, yeah. Once they get it, it’s so—you know, accounting is amazing. Accounting is absolutely amazing. And it’s one of the greatest inventions in history. You know, we say it goes back 500 years to Pacioli who—but of course, it goes back much further than that. Pacioli was just the first Italian friar who wrote it down in that book, Summa de arithmetica. But it makes such a difference in people’s lives. You know, we tease accounting. We tease accountants. We call them bean counters. But actually, it’s like grammar. You know, we take it for granted that you need grammar.

Peter Frampton: You know, you don’t get to lead organizations or be a functional adult in a corporation without grammar and other skills. But we’ve tried to be functional people in organizations and leaders without the grammar of finance. Accounting is the grammar of finance in the sense that it’s just the basic, you have to have it. And it hurts people when they don’t have it. They stay silent in meetings when they should be engaging in meetings, you know, they buy the bullshit. Companies go bankrupt, frauds happen. I mean, that was all the big examples.

Peter Margaritis: Right.

Peter Frampton: But it’s just so impactful on people’s lives. You know, going back, oh, Peter, I don’t know if I’ve told all the stories about my career before I discovered accounting, which is—you know, did I say that I ran an impotence clinic? A very—medically viable with medical doctors, impotence clinic and so on and so on. Another day, Peter. Another day. I know you—but anyway, so I was in the medical business and things like that.

Peter Frampton: As I said, Color Accounting for me started when sort of the next thing didn’t work out and I thought, "Oh, geez, I should just work on that idea for a better way to teach accounting. But that’s my personal journey. Anyhow, you know, on those—on my travels in medical centers and things like that, you know, I’d meet a nurse and just, "Oh, wow. Isn’t nursing great?" "Yeah, but I didn’t want to be a nurse. I wanted to be something else, but I couldn’t pass accounting." You know, people all over who are just being hamstrung.

Peter Margaritis: Right.

Peter Frampton: There’s always a moment in our workshops where I say, "And this is the moment the lady in Washington, DC said, ‘I can finish my MBA’ as she shrieked from the back of the room." And I mean, I literally said, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, people. Sorry about that. I got to stop the class." "What? Are you serious?" She says this particular point, trivial point, I’ll have you say, that, you know, it is where she couldn’t get it, so she checked it in and it was a prerequisite for MBA. So, she didn’t get an MBA. That’s a little tragedy. That’s a life.

Peter Frampton: You know, here’s probably a single mother working hard, trying to improve herself, trying improve the life of her children and yet, a tiny, trivial thing tripped her up. I’ll tell you what a trivial thing was. It was the statement that you have to have an entry on each side. I collect books that say you have to have an entry on each side. You don’t. You can have two entries that cancel each other out, as you know, on one side. She thought and had been told or misunderstood that you had to have an entry on each side. And she didn’t.

Peter Margaritis: So that was the magic right there, just her realizing that she didn’t need that.

Peter Frampton: Just that, you know. Well, so she could get her head around how it worked. She could get her head around how it worked. And yeah, oh, yeah, you have two entries on this side, you have two entries on that side, you have one entry on each side. It all balances out. That’s the genius of double-entry bookkeeping.

Peter Margaritis: I think also, the issue that neither accountants have when they have to take an accounting class is—or when I work with the CPAs, ask them, "Does MBA speak a foreign language?" And I get his hands raised up and I hear French, I hear Spanish, you know, someday, maybe Greek, Italian, whatever. And I go, "Let me reword that. I mean, you speak the foreign language of business called accounting. And they all laugh.

Peter Frampton: Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: And I go, "But think about it, when you say depreciation to a non-accountant, they think that’s the value they lose in the car when they drive it out the car lot and you sit there thinking, "No, no, no, it’s a systematic allocation of an asset over time."

Peter Frampton: Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: And we have to become better translators of this language, so they can understand.

Peter Frampton: Absolutely. And in a sense though, I’m tempted to say, and it’s much worse than that because depreciation, we all get a sense of, it’s a kind of set anyone’s second or third-order accounting issue. But actually, the disconnect at the language starts much lower. So, Color Accounting is about color. We took color because we’re color print and we use color to explain debits and credits and so on. But actually, as you said, this didn’t happen overnight. And we looked at that diagram, we realized we didn’t understand it and we realized we didn’t understand the words.

Peter Frampton: And this is profound. And actually, Color Accounting is more about the language, the words than the color. For example, it’s kind of shocking. We accountants, you, me and our industry, we’ve got these massive blind spots and we don’t realize, for example, the ambiguities that we have. Like Americans, accounting professors do not realize that income means something different in America to what it means in Europe.

Peter Margaritis: Right.

Peter Frampton: So, you know, income. And never mind the fact that income, by the way, doesn’t come in. Money comes in, but income is not money. So, income doesn’t come in. You do income. You don’t get income. And then, if you ask an accountant what revenue is, you know, I have the greatest respect for accountants, but we’ve got our blind spots. And one of them is we can’t explain what revenue is and we can’t explain what an expense is. I’ve got to be careful, because if I ask an accountant that it sort of puts them on the spot and it could get a bit awkward.

Peter Frampton: Now, as I said, accountants know how to record it. They know how to measure it. And know where to find it and report it and with the impact it has on profits, the impact that it has on the balance sheet, et cetera, et cetera. But they can’t get the message across. And it’s called a declarative ability, the ability to communicate. And, of course, it’s critical. So, revenue, by the way, we define it as a verb, not a noun, because revenue is what you do to get the money that you get.

Peter Frampton: It’s the activity. That’s why another name for the income statement is the statement of activities, which means, by definition, the things on the income statement are activities and it has real impact and consequences in people’s lives. So, I’m at a law firm and I’m working with a senior partner then and we talked about the meaning of the words and we’re clearing that up because that’s what’s required. And he said, "You know what, I’ve just come off a defense of a chief accounting officer for revenue shift. It was a week-long jury trial. We failed. We were the defense. We failed. And he’s gone to jail for, I don’t know, 10 years or something."

Peter Frampton: And he says, "And you know what, at the end of the trial, I think that—well, I’m sure that the jury didn’t understand what revenue was and I think they thought he put the money somewhere like mattresses, secret safes. Here’s a man in jail for 10 years because a jury of his peers thought that he put money under a mattress, which, of course, we know he didn’t. He just used judgment in a very, what’s the word I’m looking for, vague and subjective recognition issue, which is revenue.

Peter Margaritis: Right. Right. So, when I was at a demonstration, whatever, the way you guys—it’s like you said, you said two words, you said noun and verb.

Peter Frampton: Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: And actually, this was before we started, I was speaking to the chief people officer at White Castle Systems yesterday, a friend of mine, John Kelly, who was an accounting student at my MBA class at Ohio Dominican. And I was sharing the story with him, I said, John, "When you think of the balance sheet, they’re just nouns." And he had this really inquisitive look at his mind because he was going through those accounts, he goes, "Okay." And I said, "The income statement are just verbs." And he goes, "I’ve never thought about it that way." And I said, "I never taught it to you that way because it was never taught to me that way." But just that little clarity, that little shift in mindset.

Peter Frampton: A lawyer said to me, "You’ve blown a fuse." And I said, "Okay, well, that’s good because I’m in the rewiring business."

Peter Margaritis: Yeah. And that’s your job within Color Accounting, is to rewire the mindset out there because we have a lot of very smart people teaching accounting, but they’re teaching it the way that it was taught to them.

Peter Frampton: Yeah. And then, there is such a body of momentum and inertia to the way it’s been done. And we quickly—there’s so much to be learned. And we become such experts that we quickly, you know, develop unconscious competence.

Peter Margaritis: Yes.

Peter Frampton: So, we don’t even know what we’re good at. But we’ve got so much competence that’s undistinguished that it’s hard to challenge. And, you know, often, when I’m working alongside, you know, what I call traditional accounting teachers using the traditional approach, they’ll say, "Well, we don’t call it the balance sheet here in the United Kingdom. We call it the statement of position." I’ll get to that. But really, that’s not important.

Peter Margaritis: Right.

Peter Frampton: I mean, we’ve got to learn that eventually, but that’s a second or third-order issue. The first-order issue is, what are the three things with the—no, what are the two things on a balance sheet? You know, there are just two things on the balance sheet. That’s what we’ve got to tell people. There’s assets and obligations, which—and by the way, equity is an obligation, the FASB is getting it wrong. Sorry, I’m going to say it. FASB says it’s a claim. It’s not a claim. It’s an obligation. A claim is not an obligation. An obligation is me to you. A claim is you to me.

Peter Margaritis: Right. Right. So, you said FASB is wrong. I don’t know if you know this, I just had an article published in Accounting Today on January 15th and the title is FASB is the Villain.

Peter Frampton: I’ve seen it and I haven’t gotten to read it. Damn it.

Peter Margaritis: FASB has it wrong in a lot of instances. And it’s confusing and it’s not relevant to business owners, where we need to really make it relevant to them so they can understand and those who they employ have a better idea. They don’t need to know the nits and bits and, you know, the debits and the credits and all that stuff. It just needs to be that 10,000 foot.

Peter Frampton: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, we haven’t—have we talked about the issue of accounting literacy and what accounting literacy is. What you’ve said has just reminded me of that. So, you know, this is what my work—my work is ultimately, I want to just bring abundance to the world. I want people to know that, you know, you can have abundance. And even if having people get clear personally and at work, get financed out of the way so that they can go forth and be abundant, you know, and that’s the real driver, right?

Peter Frampton: So, our mission is to promote accounting literacy. And we want the world to be accounting literate. So, what is accounting literacy? Well, everybody talks about financial literacy. Governments all over the world are spending a fortune on financial literacy to promote it. But financial literacy is this overly big church. I mean, it goes from savings rates to credit card usage to 401(k)s to portfolio theory, to risk analysis and, and, and, and. That’s financial literacy.

Peter Frampton: But whoa, whoa, what needs to be underneath that and actually unpacked and seen as a distinct form of literacy in accounting literacy, which is, where am I? And how did I get here? And then, we can talk about all the fancy stuff. But, you know, if I want to get to you, if you want me to tell you how to get to New York, I need to say, "Well, where are you?" And I’ll tell you how to get to New York. And it’s so empowering when you get the accounting literacy piece right. All the fancy finance stuff just falls into place.

Peter Margaritis: That’s true. So, accounting is the foundation of financial literacy.

Peter Frampton: Absolutely. And it should be broken out. And often, people are trying to fix financial literacy, but really, the problem is accounting literacy.

Peter Margaritis: So, if you get the foundation right, then financial literacy comes into play. But I guess the overarching umbrella is now, you have better business acumen.

Peter Frampton: Yes. Yeah. Oh, accounting literacy underpins business acumen big time.

Peter Margaritis: Share some stories about yours and Mark’s and your team’s travels around the globe and companies that you’ve impacted. And I imagine you have like thousands of stories.

Peter Frampton: Oh, yeah. There are a lot of stories. There are some good stories. Yeah, there’s lots of good stories. I slipped in a restroom in Qatar and broke my fingers, so that, it’s fantastic to be bringing this work to the Middle East. You know, the Middle East needs all the help they can get, right? Because if people are literate and abundant, they won’t be fighting, you know. So, yeah, we sort of feel being out there is tiring. You know, being a road warrior is tiring.

Peter Frampton: But it’s, as I said, a privilege to feel that we’re out there making a difference. And we feel we’ve stumbled onto this historically significant, not improvement to accounting, but improvement to making accounting more accessible. I mean, it does need to be accessible to everyone. It’s the fourth R, reading, writing, arithmetic and reckoning, right? So, everyone needs this work. So, we’re being ambitious and we’re trying to spread it worldwide.

Peter Frampton: So, we have a presence in Australia, in New Zealand, to Southeast Asia, to China. China is going big. And Europe, South America, Brazil, North America, Canada, Africa and so on and so on. Yeah, we’ve got presence, we’ve got—we work with partners, so people sign up and it’s not quite a franchise. We don’t franchise it, but we license them to use the system and we show them how to use it. And then, we love going and meeting them and working with them and running workshops, all of—and we do a lot of pro-bono work, you know, in particular, with my heritage in South Africa.

Peter Frampton: We’ve really tried to give this away and spread the word in South Africa and in Africa, where it can make such a difference. And boy, I mean, you know, the stories are stories of joy, but they’re also stories of heartbreak. We’ve got a very generous benefactor named Mark Michel. He bankrolls our work, pro bono work in South Africa. And we paid for all the teachers in one particular state, province, like a state to kick off the work needed in the high school system. We work in schools, universities and in business, right?

Peter Frampton: So, in the high schools, what’s often needed is the teachers need to understand the subject better. So, we’re working with the teachers and then, we gave them the materials, sponsored materials and so on for them to follow on and use. And then, we’re speaking to them a few months into, "How come you haven’t used them?" "You know, we were going to, but we lost two children on the playground today to stabbings." I mean, it’s heart breaking. And you realize, wow, how privileged we are, you know, and so on and so on. So, you know, that’s the sad end of it.

Peter Frampton: And the joys and the sadness—I mean, going back to Washington DC, so we’re working a lot of not-for-profits. But working with not-for-profits is really important because they’re very mission-driven, they make an impact on the world. But it depends on the plumbing. You’ve got to get the plumbing right. It’s not the sexy end of the not-for-profit work of the mission, but not-for-profit organization, accounting is more complicated accounting because you got restricted funds and federal unrestricted funds done by what I like to call less interested people. They’re not there for the money. They’re there for the mission, right?

Peter Margaritis: Right. Right. Right.

Peter Frampton: Not-for-profit organizations regularly fail because of financial mismanagement. And they’re working over big distances. They’re often—you know, they might have a head office in Washington and a field office in Africa kind of. So, they’re stretched and we do the work. And so, we were running a program, actually, in Washington DC and there was a wonderful woman called Nicole Dile. We remember her fondly because our mascot is a logo—our mascot and logo is a zebra.

Peter Margaritis: Okay.

Peter Frampton: And it came from her saying, "Oh, goodness, when I see a-" You know, as we were just introducing us off at the start of the day, "When I see a balance sheet, I see a zebra." And meaning just rows and columns and blurriness and camouflage and disguise and just this sort of buzzing black and white rows in front of her. And it came alive for her. That’s what our job is. And it came alive and she made sense of it. Actually, as a little aside, I think she was almost stating a neurological truth that people, as human beings, we were evolved to see shapes on the plains of Africa.

Peter Frampton: We were there to see antelope and pears and apples and nuts and berries. We do shape, we make sense of them. But it’s a very learned skill to do rows and columns and analysis and pick this number out of the zebra and so on. The sad part of the story is that Nicole Dile went to Afghanistan, where she was teaching children and she was murdered by the Taliban. So, we remember her fondly. And yet, it’s been full of—the journey is full of ups and downs like that.

Peter Margaritis: Well, that’s an interesting story about the zebra because actually, I guess, in essence, you’ve added color to that zebra.

Peter Frampton: That brightly colored zebra now. And yes, that’s our mascot. It’s got full of color.

Peter Margaritis: So, you’re other—well, so what about here in the States? I know Mark is the North America—head of North American operations. I’m not sure what his title is, but it consists of basically this area. And he’s in, what? Based out of Wisconsin, which I think I would’ve gone to a warmer state at the time, but-.

Peter Frampton: I would have, too. Yeah. Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: So, what organizations have you partnered with or worked with here in the United States?

Peter Frampton: Right. So, you know, I moved to the states, it would be early 2000s. And I got the states going. And then, Mark—I actually left because my wife is Swiss, so we moved back to Geneva. We weren’t allowed actually to speak French in Switzerland. So, Mark kind of replaced me in the US. So, we’ve been doing that for a long time. And, you know, we’re proud of the fact that while we work with micro-entrepreneurs in Africa and entrepreneurs in the US, we also work with the biggest of the big in the US, the Wall Street banks, all the big names that you know. I think I’m not meant to say it, but you could work it out. The biggest names in Wall Street.

Peter Margaritis: Yeah.

Peter Frampton: We work with them and, you know, 500 a time with the on-boarding programs. And what’s gratifying there is that, you know, people, they hire liberal arts grads, who’ve never done any accounting. So, in a day, they get it. And then, even the people who’ve done accounting, they say, "Oh, wow, I’m seeing a whole new way and I can communicate it better." So, yeah. You know, 500 people at the time. We have to—we don’t like doing groups that big, but, you know, we’ve got these buckets and tickets and you know how the system works, it’s very hands on. Everybody gets a little kit that’s laid out in front of them.

Peter Frampton: There were 500 people with little tickets going to buckets and on this little couple of folders. And we’ve got these giant PowerPoint screens across the room and we might have four facilitators wandering around the room. It’s wonderful. And then, we worked with law firms. Law was interesting because, you know, a lot of people don’t realize what’s possible with this learning, so they’ve kind of given up on accounting. So, it’s quite a hard sell. Oh, not as terrible. At university, it’s going to be terrible again and I may do without it, but that’s what we’re up against.

Peter Margaritis: Right.

Peter Frampton: But lawyers know that they need it. And they’re working with these financial documents all the time and the legal market is our first runaway market, where we teach most of the big law firms. I’d say about half of the top 100 law firms in the US are using Color Accounting. We do it in shorter seminars, in three, four hours. And so, sorry, one more thing. I’ve got such respect for lawyers, the definition is they stock in trade, where we accountants have been weak on definition.

Peter Frampton: I’ve alluded to the definition of equity, I think we’ve had wrong. The definition of revenue and expense is too complicated for people to fully understand and things like that. We call revenue value-generating activity, for example, that’s the definition of revenue. We call it a transitional working definition towards the official definition. And lawyers get that because they do definition because they stock in trade, as I said.

Peter Margaritis: That’s interesting. And I’ll turn the tables on you right now, Peter. So, you mentioned revenue.

Peter Frampton: Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: And you know how to play this game because you play it on other people. So, when I say what’s the sound of revenue, which sound do most people say in this case?

Peter Frampton: Nine out of 10 times—no. 99 out of 100 times, you and I know it’s going to be ka-ching.

Peter Margaritis: And the way you respond to it is?

Peter Frampton: Of course, it’s, no, it’s not. That’s the sound of the money. And the money is not the revenue. And I’ll say, you know, "In a hair salon, what’s the sound of revenue?" And if your listeners might see me, you’d see I’m going snip, snip, snip with my fingers.

Peter Margaritis: Right.

Peter Frampton: And yeah because actually, the revenue is the snip, snip. Ka-ching is what you get because of the snip, snip. Revenue is the work action. And then, for example, I’ll then say to a lawyer, "So, are you generating something of value right now as you’re talking? You know, you’re charging your first six-minute increment as these lawyers do. And this is, "No", you know, thinking that he’s not getting paid now, so he’s not generating it.

Peter Frampton: So, "Well then, stop, please, please stop. If you’re not generating value, stop." Of course, you’re generating something of value. You’re entering the right to bill the client. You’ve got six minutes more billing that you can do than you could do six minutes ago. Absolutely. The work itself you’re doing now. In other words, you and I know that what we’re disabusing them of is the sense that sort of cash accounting in their head, again, with cash becomes the revenue. No. No. No. The revenue is the work.

Peter Margaritis: So, I imagine because I’ve done some work with attorneys at World Bank a few years ago, there were more investigators. Attorneys by nature tend to be combative. Is that the correct word? Argumentative?

Peter Frampton: Yeah, certainly. Yeah, certainly. Yeah. I mean, I got the greatest respect for them. So, what—I’ll tell you what’s fun, is I use the word quirky, right? I like to be a bit self-deprecating. And you know, when you know your shit—excuse me. When you know your stuff-

Peter Margaritis: You’re fine.

Peter Frampton: … then you can look weird because you know your stuff, right?

Peter Margaritis: Right. And I know that I kind of get a little quiet kick out of this about that arriving and kind of looking weird. "What? Red? No, sorry. Orange? Green? Diagrams? Whiteboard? Verbs? Nouns?" And I go, "Just you wait. I’ll get your respect in a moment." And I love that, that they realize, "Okay. The man might be a bit crazy, but he’s got reason." And eventually, they see that it’s an exquisite construction of the logic of accounting, which is a beautiful thing.

Peter Margaritis: And I do want to make a point. You mentioned when you did the 550 individuals, you said the PowerPoint word, which that is very rare in your presentations because you guys go old school PowerPoint called a whiteboard or foot charts and you draw straight lines. My lines look like you know, an EKG. But I think that that also helps keep the audience engaged because there’s this premise that, "Oh, God. It’s another PowerPoint presentation." And they will come a little bit disengaged. But when you’re up there with the attorneys or whoever, it also helps them keep engaged watching what you’re doing.

Peter Frampton: Yeah. And yeah, your back is turned from them for a second while you’re drawing, but then, you turn around and it’s very human, we want to keep it human. It’s a human endeavor, me making sure that you get it. And, you know, when people get it, it is an epiphany because they get these little ahas. We often talk about a learning chain when we—if people don’t get accounting, it’s because of one of a series of breaks—or sorry, it could be just one break in a series of links in the chain of logic. You know, it could be the revenue thing. It could be the equity thing. It could be the balance of the two entries on one side thing.

Peter Frampton: It could be—you know, there’s a whole of those small things, if it could be the point of view, I think that’s a huge one. We’re standing in the wrong point. You’re standing from the owner’s point of view instead of from the company’s point of view. And it only takes one of those. So, I want to look you in the eye and I will find your missing link. And when you get it, you will be elated. And it’s fantastic. And yeah, I don’t want PowerPoint to get in the way of that. I want to be with you as a human being. And, you know, tears, people bring their personal fears around the personal finance to it and so on. Yeah, it’s funny. It’s such a human experience.

Peter Margaritis: If I might say because, you know, in my other work that I do, I tend to rely on PowerPoint, but I I design things very simplistic and I bring things in, it’s just—but when I did this with Westinghouse, it is a very human experience because I recognized there was one individual who wasn’t getting it. But I also recognized that she or he did not want to say, "I don’t understand", because of that judgment factor.

Peter Frampton: Yes. Yes.

Peter Margaritis: So, you know, I recognize that fact, so I went over to look at her stuff. And I looked down the sheet, have anything written down, she was struggling. I said, okay. So, I just went around, just sat with her for a moment. I said, "You guys talk amongst yourselves and try to help her figure it out." Because people learn at different pace.

Peter Frampton: Absolutely.

Peter Margaritis: Also, people don’t want to look stupid, which is really the wrong thing because there’s no such thing as a stupid question. A stupid question is one that you don’t ask.

Peter Frampton: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And how did it go? How did she-.

Peter Margaritis: It went well. I mean—and then, luckily that was—Mark was with me and I asked him to kind of keep an eye on her because, you know, we had like 24 other people in the room that there were a few other people who were still starting to struggle with it, that, you know, I needed to spend myself around.

Peter Frampton: Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: But actually, at the end, she go—so, after I’m done, then Westinghouse showed a 45-minute to an hour video of—and this what I think what the additional power of Color Accounting is or that somebody from the accounting, finance department was explaining how Westinghouse operates using their numbers, using their situation, using their examples.

Peter Frampton: Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: Yeah, it was on video.

Peter Frampton: Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: So, this woman was walking out and she said, "I really enjoyed this workshop, except for the video."

Peter Frampton: Right.

Peter Margaritis: Right.

Peter Frampton: Right. She probably understood what was being said. Although, you know, video can make it—it gets a bit dense and dry over a video.

Peter Margaritis: Right.

Peter Frampton: But, you know, often, we’ll invite the CFO or some senior finance person into the end of a one-day Color Accounting workshop. So, let’s say the last two hours, we’ll have the time come in. And the look on the learner’s faces is wonderful. It’s kind of like, "I’m finally getting what she’s saying."

Peter Margaritis: Yeah.

Peter Frampton: And the look on her face as she stands at the front, the finance officer, you know, and say, "Oh, my goodness. I’m finally getting through to them. I’m getting through to them."

Peter Margaritis: Right.

Peter Frampton: And that’s what gets me out of bed in the morning.

Peter Margaritis: Yeah. That’s the magic that’s out there, when they do recognize, they do get it, they had that. Oh, and the point of—then I turned to kind of, "How do you contribute as an engineer, as a project manager, in the financial success of this organization because we can break it down into just out of your office. I’ve always said that to accounting firms that, "When you hire these kids out of college, make their cubicle, make their space their own business. And teach them the business of public accounting so they can realize their impact in the organization."

Peter Frampton: Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: And partners will say to me, ‘But we can’t tell them everything." I’m like, "Okay, you don’t have to. You make it too complex." and I think it goes to the unconscious incompetent kind of whatever.

Peter Frampton: Unconscious incompetence. Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: Yeah. Yeah. It’s that they’re here.

Peter Frampton: Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: Staff is here.

Peter Frampton: Yeah. Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: And there’s a gap in communication.

Peter Frampton: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. You don’t have to tell them everything, but yeah. And just—you tell them the basics and, you know, it gets, for example, down to this definition of revenue. If you think revenue is money coming in, well, that engineer in that cubicle doesn’t see any money coming in.

Peter Margaritis: Right.

Peter Frampton: It’s got nothing to do with revenue. No. But if you see revenue as value-generating activity, the moment you walk in that door, you’re generating value for the firm and you’re also consuming value, by the way. So, now, you have this consciousness that there’s only two things happening at Westinghouse. Value is being generated and value is being consumed. Oh, wow. So, I’m part of that. Now, that’s the story I’m part of. And it becomes about engagement. You know, from a business point of view, Peter, let me—have said it, that we’re there to—we want people to collaborate effectively, to make better decisions and to amplify value. That’s what we’re really trying to do. It’s not about the accounting. It’s about value.

Peter Margaritis: Right. And at the end of the last hour or so of my presentation, then we start talking about, "Okay. Here’s some metrics and systems. So, let’s look at this information. Look at the changes, what’s going on?" Because the one thing that really, my eyes open up big time back in March was I think it was Mark that said this that we’re really storytellers. We, as accounting professionals, are storytellers. And we need to tell the story.

Peter Frampton: Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: And the story is not—first, we have to understand the construction of it. But then, the story—my favorite class in university and solely accounting thing that I still do is I love financial statement—excuse me. I love financial analysis.

Peter Frampton: Yes. Yes.

Peter Margaritis: And part of that is understanding financial statement analysis because numbers don’t move themselves, people move the numbers.

Peter Frampton: Absolutely.

Peter Margaritis: A five is not sitting there saying, "I’m going to be a seven tomorrow. And then, on Thursday, I’m going to a 20." No. There has to be some type of human interaction to make that number move.

Peter Frampton: Yeah. Right.

Peter Margaritis: So, when it moves in a direction that we’re not anticipating, we have to find the story. And not a data-driven data dump story, the human element story there. And I think that’s the magic of what Color Accounting is bringing to the business community, is to help them understand how to find that story to tell.

Peter Frampton: Yeah. Yeah. And become more powerful to change the story in a way that they want to change it. Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: Exactly. Peter, I could sit here and talk to you for hours. And we’ve had some conversations in the past and we’ll have more, but I want to be very respectful for your time. And I want to say, well, first, thank you. But before we depart, what kind of last advice would you give to those who are listening to this podcast?

Peter Frampton: We often have CPAs sitting in a workshop, they might have come with the client or something, they haven’t generally come under just because they needed it, of course, but they are surprised and they say, "Oh, is that what they don’t understand?" So, for accounting professionals, make no mistake, this is—the Color Accounting work is communication work. They will learn techniques and develop insights that will enable them to communicate their value so much better.

Peter Frampton: And, you know, it’s not a case of giving our secrets away, it’s a case of having people and their clients better understand what they do, like literally realize, "Oh, wow, it’s not counting beans, it’s something much more than that." And it’s about, yeah, just making a positive impact on people by communicating more powerfully. And at the end, it reflects back and our work will be more productive and more appreciated.

Peter Margaritis: Man, I couldn’t have said that any better. If I could get back to my book of Taking the Numb Out of Numbers, having the finance—accounting financial professionals realize it’s not about them, it’s about their audience. And how can I make my audience understand the business, what I’m trying to communicate, so they can have a more impactful financial impact, lack of—on the organization and the people within the organization.

Peter Frampton: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: Knowledge is power.

Peter Frampton: Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: And the more knowledgeable they are, the better the organization will ultimately be.

Peter Frampton: Absolutely. And when people are communicating, life is better.

Peter Margaritis: Yeah. Communicating and understanding.

Peter Frampton: If you have understanding, you can make the best on communication.

Peter Margaritis: Yeah.

Peter Frampton: Yes.

Peter Margaritis: We’re in accounting, but we’ve been communicating for a long time. Nobody understands us.

Peter Frampton: Well, our mouths have been moving. I don’t know if we’ve been communicating. I have a specific definition of what communication is. It’s when, yeah, something’s happening on your side.

Peter Margaritis: Exactly. Well, Peter, I appreciate it. Thank you so very much. I look forward to it-

Peter Frampton: It is my pleasure.

Peter Margaritis: … when our paths crossed again and keep fighting the good fight, my friend.

Peter Frampton: Thank you.

Peter Margaritis: I would like to thank Peter for his time and passion for helping companies and individuals become more financially literate. Now that you’ve listened to this entire episode, how are you and your organization going to improve your financial literacy? Step one is to change your mindset and recognize that learning accounting is not as scary as you thought and vitally important in growing your business. Step two, are you going to contact Peter to learn more? Well, I hope you do. Thank you for listening. And if you’re enjoying the podcast, please take a moment and leave a review on Apple Podcasts or whatever platform you download your podcast from. Also, please subscribe and share this episode with a friend. Make today and every day your best day.

Announcer: Like what you just heard? Because it’s c-suiteradio.com. C-Suite Radio, turning the volume up on business.

S3E2. We Are The Sum of Our Experiences with Dino Tripodis

Dino Tripodis spent twenty-four years as the morning co-host on WSNY 94.7 FM, nicknamed Sunny 95 in Columbus, Ohio. He is also a headlining comedian, podcaster, actor, producer, writer, published author, professional speaker, and philanthropist. Dino is the co-writer, co-producer, and actor in the 2017 movie, The Street Where We Live.

Dino stumbled into being a comedian. He says “I haven’t chosen my jobs in life, they have chosen me.” Going to comedy clubs to relax and have fun, one day he got the courage to stand up on open mic night. He failed miserably, as most comedians do on the first time, but he got a couple of laughs and figured if he could get a little better, he could get a few more laughs. So he went back two weeks later and stole the show.

While he was a full-time comic, there was a radio host named Mike Fist at Sunny 95 who liked having comedians on his show. Dino paid a couple of visits to the show and they were very successful. He started phoning in on the road, “Where is Dino?” Mike had left, but the new host Bob kept working with Dino, and eventually, there was an opening for a co-host position. After saying “no” three times, Dino finally relented.

The show failed, and Bob was let go. Dino assumed that he would be let go any day now, so him and his producer decided to pretend that every show was their last and just try to have fun with it. And the ratings went up. Pretty soon, they were offered a four-year contract. 24 years later, Dino has become an institution of Columbus, something he wasn’t aware of until his last week at Sunny 95.

Radio must be in his blood, though, because soon after leaving the radio world, Dino started a successful podcast, Whiskey Business, a podcast that is not so much about whiskey as it is one with whiskey. Podcasting is a lot like radio, except there’s no interruption. You don’t have to stop to play music or commercials. You get to really know the guest and take your time, and that shows in the interviews.

At 60 years old, retired-but-not-really, Dino looks back on the life he’s lived and realizes, we are the sum of our experiences. Every new thing we do is incorporating everything that came before in a new way. Whether those experiences are dark or light, good or bad, you can turn those into something worthwhile. Even if those experiences are bad, that doesn’t mean the sum is going to be bad. You can learn from all the pain and angst that could have shaped you one way, but you chose to go another way.

Life is hard for everyone, no matter how you were born or raised. It may be hard in different ways, but it’s still hard. We can always relate to that in other people. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just a part of life. And we can always work on making it better for ourselves as well as others.

Resources:

Transcript:

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Dino Tripodis: [00:00:00] We are the sum of our experiences, right? Good, bad, or indifferent. And the message in this new realm that I’d like to get into with the keynote speaking is the sum of those experiences.

Peter Margaritis: [00:00:20] Welcome to Change Your Mindset Podcast, formerly known as Improv Is No Joke, where it’s all about believing that strong communication skills are the best way in delivering your technical accounting knowledge and growing your business. An effective way of building stronger communication skills is by embracing the principles of applied improvisation. Your host is Peter Margaritis, CPA a.k.a. The Accidental Accountant. And he will interview financial professionals and business leaders to find their secret in building stronger relationships with their clients, customers, associates, and peers, all the while growing their businesses. So, let’s start the show.

Peter Margaritis: [00:01:06] We are the sum of our experiences. Really struck me when my guest, Dino Tripodis, has uttered those words in our interview. As I’m sneaking up on 60 years old, I’ve stopped many times since this interview and thought about those past experiences and how they affect my thoughts and actions today. For example, my father was a very punctual man and being late was never tolerated. Well, of course, I hate being late and I don’t like it when other people are late.

Peter Margaritis: [00:01:38] Now, where I differ from my father is that I understand other factors could cause me or other people to be late, so I harbor no resentment. When my bride was 20 minutes late walking down the aisle at our wedding, she said she was on Greek time. Who am I to argue? But I digress. We are the sum of our experiences and our response to those experiences can make us either successful or continually bringing us down and blaming others for our faults.

Peter Margaritis: [00:02:10] Dino’s response to his past experiences have made him wildly successful. And let me share with you some of his successes. Twenty-four years as the morning co-host on WSNY 94.7 FM, nicknamed Sunny 95 in Columbus, Ohio. Dino is also a headlining comedian, podcaster, actor, producer, writer, published author, professional speaker, and philanthropist. His podcast, Whiskey Business, the podcast not so much about whiskey as it’s one with whiskey is one of my favorite podcasts to listen to and to watch on YouTube.

Peter Margaritis: [00:02:47] I’ve seen Dino doing a stand-up and he is a very, very funny guy and you’ll hear that throughout this interview. Dino is the co-writer, co-producer, and actor in a 2017 movie, The Street Where We Live, which can be found on Amazon Prime and has a rating of 8.5 out of 10. Prior to the interview, I hadn’t watched the movie and I promised him that I would and I did. The movie’s about a single woman with two teenage children who struggles to hold her family together in the aftermath of a national financial disaster.

Peter Margaritis: [00:03:23] After watching this movie, I sent Dino the following text, “Very powerful movie. You have painted a new and lasting perspective in my mind about the struggles that many families deal with more often than not. At times, it was hard to watch, because of the emotions that were bubbling up in my body. In my opinion, this movie is worth the one hour and 40-minute investment of your time. Now, there’s a lot packed into this episode. And just like a good storyteller, Dino makes us laugh. But more importantly, he makes us think and reflect and ponder. I hope you enjoy this episode. And before we get to review, let me take care of some housekeeping issues.

Announcer: [00:04:06] This podcast is part of the C-suite Radio Network, turning the volume up on business.

Peter Margaritis: [00:04:13] In July 2020, I received an email from Feedspot informing me that Change Your Mindset podcast was selected as one of the top 15 communications skills podcast you must follow in 2020. Wow. I was completely caught off guard and extremely honored. I would like to thank every guest that’s been on my podcast for the last three-and-a-half years, because you are the ones who make this podcast successful. Thank you. And now, a word from our sponsor.

Sponsor: [00:04:45] This episode is sponsored by Peter A. Margaritis, LLC, a.k.a. The Accidental Accountant. Are you looking for a high content and engaging speaker for your next conference? Do you want to deliver a story to stakeholders that will transform data dumping to engaging business conversations? Do you want to feel that the value a speaker provides your audience far exceeds the dollar value on their invoice? Then, book Peter for your next conference, management retreat, or workshop. Contact Peter at peter@petermargaritis.com and visit his web site at www.petermargaritis.com. By the way, one of his Fortune 50 clients actually made the comment about the value he brings to your audience.

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:35] I put in the show notes the links to Dino’s podcast and to his movie, The Street Where We Live. I hope you enjoy both. So, now, let’s get to the interview with Dino Tripodis. Hey, welcome back, everybody. For those of you who live in the Central Ohio area, you may recognize this voice.

Dino Tripodis: [00:05:56] Really?

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:58] Can you guess who it is?

Dino Tripodis: [00:05:59] Based on really?

Peter Margaritis: [00:06:00] Based on really, they could. They could.

Dino Tripodis: [00:06:02] Maybe.

Peter Margaritis: [00:06:03] So, my guest today is Dino Tripodis, former 24-year-

Dino Tripodis: [00:06:07] Long run.

Peter Margaritis: [00:06:10] … radio host at Sunny 95 here in Columbus, Ohio.

Dino Tripodis: [00:06:13] The one and only radio job I ever had. Started on the morning show, ended on the morning show.

Peter Margaritis: [00:06:19] And you’ve been, now, how long out of radio?

Dino Tripodis: [00:06:23] I left in June of 2018.

Peter Margaritis: [00:06:27] Wow.

Dino Tripodis: [00:06:27] Seems like yesterday, Peter.

Peter Margaritis: [00:06:31] I bet it does. And being of Greek descent-

Dino Tripodis: [00:06:34] As you are as well.

Peter Margaritis: [00:06:36] As I am as-

Dino Tripodis: [00:06:37] Which begs the question, I’m sure you’ve been asked this before, but Margaritis, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:06:41] Right.

Dino Tripodis: [00:06:42] So, do you—and I’m sure people have asked this before, do you feel obligated to celebrate excessively on Cinco de Mayo based on the form of your last name with Margaritis?

Peter Margaritis: [00:06:55] Well, if you think about it, Dino, it’s pronounced like a cocktail, but it’s really spelled like an inflammation.

Dino Tripodis: [00:06:59] Yes, it is.

Peter Margaritis: [00:07:00] Yes.

Dino Tripodis: [00:07:00] It could be. And on Cinco de Mayo, it could wind up being both.

Peter Margaritis: [00:07:03] Exactly. So, I prefer not to save it all for one day. I like to moderate throughout the whole year.

Dino Tripodis: [00:07:08] Because if my last name was, say, Dino Genesis, you know, on St. Patty’s Day, I would feel obligated to honor the derivative of that last name.

Peter Margaritis: [00:07:19] Well, if you must know, I do a few shots of tequila on Cinco de Mayo.

Dino Tripodis: [00:07:22] You got to, right? I mean, it’s like, you know—yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:07:26] You just got to do it?

Dino Tripodis: [00:07:27] If your last name was Christmas and you didn’t do anything on Christmas, people would think, what’s wrong with you?

Peter Margaritis: [00:07:32] Jewish?

Dino Tripodis: [00:07:34] Yeah. Exactly.

Peter Margaritis: [00:07:36] Right. So, of Greek descent.

Dino Tripodis: [00:07:38] Yes.

Peter Margaritis: [00:07:38] And growing up in a Greek household where guilt is the number one flavor.

Dino Tripodis: [00:07:43] Yes, it is.

Peter Margaritis: [00:07:44] And-

Dino Tripodis: [00:07:44] We have that in common.

Peter Margaritis: [00:07:46] Yes. And your mother, I’ve heard on previous podcast, she wants to know, what are you doing these days?

Dino Tripodis: [00:07:52] All the time. She’s backed off a little bit, but for the first six months after I left the radio station, that was an almost everyday question, you know, to the point where I said, you know—”What are you going to do today”, you know, and I would say, “Well, after this conversation, I’m going to take the red hot poker that I’ve heated up and stick it in my eye. Don’t you have another child that you can ask questions of on a regular basis?” And of course, that would be the queen. My sister calls me—I call my sister the queen, my sister calls me the prince. She thinks that the prince can do no wrong.

Peter Margaritis: [00:08:34] Right.

Dino Tripodis: [00:08:35] And I think that’s probably just how the family dynamic works in a Greek house. My sister lives in Florida, very close to my mother.

Peter Margaritis: [00:08:44] Okay.

Dino Tripodis: [00:08:44] And they have never been apart. I mean, they lived together in Indiana. My sister moved to Florida. My sister eventually moved my mother down to Florida. They are an integral part of each other’s lives as long as I can remember. So, my sister—in my opinion, and I say this sincerely and with love, my sister is the queen. And I don’t mean that she’s elevated to my mother. To me, she’s the queen, she’s the best. She’s the best. My mother would not be thriving as she is at almost 84 years of age if it weren’t for my sister.

Peter Margaritis: [00:09:19] Funny that you just—that story that you just gave, that’s my sister and my mother. They lived in Florida. They’ve been apart, I think, maybe a couple years when she was living with me in Cincinnati. My father passed, my sister went down 19 years ago, 20 years ago to be close to mom. Yeah. And yeah. You’ve just described my family, too. I appreciate that.

Dino Tripodis: [00:09:39] Yeah. Yeah. But except you’re a few points ahead of me, because I noticed you said that when my mother lived with me in Cincinnati, my mother has never lived-

Peter Margaritis: [00:09:46] My sister lived with me.

Dino Tripodis: [00:09:48] Oh, your sister lived with you?

Peter Margaritis: [00:09:48] Yeah, my sister lived with me, not my mother.

Dino Tripodis: [00:09:50] Not your mother. Oh, okay. All right. All right. Then, we’re back to square one.

Peter Margaritis: [00:09:53] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:09:53] We’re back to even. We’re back to even.

Peter Margaritis: [00:09:57] So, you still are a headline comedian.

Dino Tripodis: [00:10:02] Oh, when I get the opportunity, as a matter of fact, I don’t know when this is going to drop, but-

Peter Margaritis: [00:10:07] Soon.

Dino Tripodis: [00:10:07] …I’m going to—I agreed to do a show out in Granville. It was Moe’s Comedy Club. It’s a little small 80-seat room in Granville. And they also apparently have a great barbecue as well. And I’m doing that show February 8th.

Peter Margaritis: [00:10:23] Okay.

Dino Tripodis: [00:10:24] And honestly, I can’t wait. I’m excited. I’m excited, because most of the stand-up I’ve done lately has been, you know, 15 minutes here, 20 minutes there, five minutes here. I haven’t gotten a chance to stretch in a while. And I’m looking forward to it, because I still write. I still write. You know, you have your book.

Peter Margaritis: [00:10:46] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:10:46] I see your big book there. You know, I have this book here and whenever I get ideas, I still jot them down.

Peter Margaritis: [00:10:53] Right.

Dino Tripodis: [00:10:53] And tried to incorporate them into my life. And I’m developing a theme, comedically speaking, that I think is appropriate, and you could probably relate to this as well, eventually, I plan on making it a show that’s entitled Cool, Calm, and Neglected.

Peter Margaritis: [00:11:12] Cool, Calm, and Neglected. Okay.

Dino Tripodis: [00:11:13] As opposed to collected, neglected.

Peter Margaritis: [00:11:15] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:11:15] Because that’s the way I kind of feel at 60 years of age. I’m cool. I’m cool where I’m at on life.

Peter Margaritis: [00:11:21] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:11:21] I’m calmer than I’ve ever been.

Peter Margaritis: [00:11:24] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:11:24] And I feel neglected, and I don’t say neglected in a negative way, I say it in a positive way, because at 60, people don’t give a shit what you’re doing. And I’m sorry, can I cuss?

Peter Margaritis: [00:11:36] Yeah, it’s okay. Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:11:37] Okay. Good. And I’m here today, no one pays no mind to a 60-year old.

Peter Margaritis: [00:11:40] Right.

Dino Tripodis: [00:11:41] So, you can get away with a lot of crap.

Peter Margaritis: [00:11:43] Yeah. Yeah. But you’re not that guy that yells at kids like, “Get off my lawn”?

Dino Tripodis: [00:11:47] No. No. No. Not get off my lawn so much, but I live across the street from a Catholic high school.

Peter Margaritis: [00:11:59] Okay.

Dino Tripodis: [00:11:59] Okay.

Peter Margaritis: [00:12:00] Okay.

Dino Tripodis: [00:12:00] And these kids, when they’re leaving on any given day, especially in the springtime, you know, I will stand on the front porch and go, “Slow down.”

Peter Margaritis: [00:12:14] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:12:15] You know?

Peter Margaritis: [00:12:16] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:12:16] You know, I wouldn’t think because they go speeding out of there. And everyone was like, oh, man, I’m that guy.

Peter Margaritis: [00:12:20] You’re that guy.

Dino Tripodis: [00:12:21] I’m that guy.

Peter Margaritis: [00:12:22] So, how did you go from comedian to a DJ? I know you-

Dino Tripodis: [00:12:25] Happy accidents, you know. I make a joke, but it’s not really a joke. I’ve said this before on my podcast and others. I haven’t chosen my jobs so much in life as they have chosen me. I was an investigator prior to stand up.

Peter Margaritis: [00:12:46] Right.

Dino Tripodis: [00:12:47] And I went to comedy clubs to relax and have fun. And then, I went to open mics and I got the gumption and I could do that. And I went into an open mic and I failed miserably, but I got a couple of laughs. So, that just got into me, like if I got a couple laughs and I sucked, if I worked on this a little bit more, I bet you I could get more laughs.

Peter Margaritis: [00:13:10] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:13:10] So, I went back two weeks later and I won the night. And then, someone said, you should go to the Funny Bone and do open mic over there, because at the time, that was at a place called the Comedy Club at the Ramada.

Peter Margaritis: [00:13:21] Oh, yeah, I remember that. Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:13:23] Yeah. Yeah. So, I went to the Funny Bone. Long story short, there was a Johnny Walker comedy competition, the Johnny Walker sponsor.

Peter Margaritis: [00:13:32] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:13:32] And the winner got 500 bucks. I still have the enormous big check that you get.

Peter Margaritis: [00:13:37] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:13:37] Yeah, my daughter gave me that a while back, because I had given it to her. And then, you also got to open all of the Funny Bones that were in the franchise. There were like 13 of them at the time. And as an opening act, you could do them twice a year. So, I went from open mic-ing to, all of a sudden, you know, 26 weeks of MC work in the number one chain in the country at the time.

Peter Margaritis: [00:14:04] Wow. Wow.

Dino Tripodis: [00:14:04] Funny Bone, which I still do.

Peter Margaritis: [00:14:06] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:14:06] So, life was kind of dictating.

Peter Margaritis: [00:14:09] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:14:09] And at the same time, I was still doing investigative work.

Peter Margaritis: [00:14:11] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:14:11] So, I had to kind of marry the two the best I could, but eventually, after that year, I said—you know, it got into my veins and in my blood and I said, I’m going to go full-time comic. While I was a full-time comic, there was a radio guy named Mike Fist who was at Sunny 95. And he liked having comedians on his show. So, I would go in and pay these visits to Sunny 95. And they were very successful visits. And then, I would do a phone-in from the road, you know, Where is Dino?

Dino Tripodis: [00:14:43] Mike left and another guy named Bob Simpson, who was there before and left and then, came back and he wanted to keep that going. So, I kept on doing it. I was living out in Los Angeles at the time, trying to progress there comedically. And there was an opening at Sunny 95 for a co-host with Bob. And I said no like two or three different times. I finally relinquished and said yes. Came in ’94 to Sunny 95 to do radio, thinking they made it horrible, where this won’t last the new year.

Dino Tripodis: [00:15:16] And technically, it did not. That show failed. That show failed.A year later, Bob was let go and Stacy and myself and my producer at the time, Mike Elliott, who is now the program director at TVN AM Radio, we were left to our own devices and we all collectively agreed that—this was October of ’95, that they’re going to get a new morning show. Let’s not worry about it. Let’s just assume come December, we’re all out of work. I’m going to go back to California.

Peter Margaritis: [00:15:49] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:15:49] Everybody else is going to do what they want to do. So, we just, “Let’s just pretend like every show is our last and have fun”, and we did. And the result of having fun, the next book, the ratings went up. And then, in January of ’96 in the general manager’s office thinking, “Hey, thank you, but no thank you.”

Peter Margaritis: [00:16:10] Right.

Dino Tripodis: [00:16:10] He was glad about how this worked out, blah, blah, expecting a nice goodbye, they offered us a four-year contract. And I go, “Now, what?” Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:16:17] Four years?

Dino Tripodis: [00:16:18] Yeah. Well, no, because in my head, I was prepared to go back to Los Angeles, because I was—even in that first year since the demands of radio weren’t on me so much as I was just the co-host. It was Bob Simpson and company, I was part of the company.

Peter Margaritis: [00:16:36] Okay.

Dino Tripodis: [00:16:36] So, the demands weren’t that difficult to me. So, I was still doing stand-up. I was still—on the weekends, I would go, you know, and on vacations, I would—instead of going on vacation, I would book a week. And I would take vacation days and still do long weekends out in Los Angeles and, you know, keep my spot at the Comedy Store, at the improv.

Peter Margaritis: [00:16:59] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:16:59] I would go out there and keep my foot in that water. I still had a place to stay out in Los Angeles, because I didn’t think radio would work out. And then, one thing led to another and 24 years later, you know, there you go. You know, you find out you you’ve become this institution of sorts in Columbus, which I did not ever think that or realize that until the last week I was at Sunny 95, you know.

Peter Margaritis: [00:17:26] Really?

Dino Tripodis: [00:17:26] Yeah, I did not. I’ve never thought that. I always thought that I was this lucky guy who got this great job and I was very fortunate. It gave me the opportunity to be clever and funny and creative. And then, also without sounding too magnanimous or whatever the word might be, it gave me the opportunity to give back all the charities down in DSACO, Down Syndrome Children’s Hospital. Yeah. But I never thought, oh, look at me. You know, look at what an impact I had on this city. But the last week I was there, the outpouring just—I was taken aback by people telling me stories of moments where I supposedly touched them in some way.

Peter Margaritis: [00:18:14] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:18:14] You know, from 9/11 to pulling off to the side of road on 315 and helping this lady who was on the side of the road, you know, and helping her and running out in the middle of traffic on 315 to pull something that had fallen off her off the roof of her car that she was trying to move or whatever.

Peter Margaritis: [00:18:38] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:18:39] I was just blown away.

Peter Margaritis: [00:18:40] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:18:41] Blown away.

Peter Margaritis: [00:18:42] Yeah, I understand that. You’re very kind and very humble, but, man, you cast a huge shadow in this town. And the charity work that you’ve done on Christmas for how many years? I mean, you’ve raised hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Dino Tripodis: [00:18:59] For Children’s Hospital, we’ve raised millions over the years. Oh, we did. And they’re still continuing to do that. That effort is still going strong. And the holiday show at the Funny Bone for Down syndrome, that’s raised, you know, thousands over the years as well.

Peter Margaritis: [00:19:18] So, you’ve transitioned out of radio. I still assume that you’re still doing a lot of your philanthropy stuff if you give-

Dino Tripodis: [00:19:23] Whenever I can. You know, right now, it seems to be focused on on Down’s syndrome, you know, DSACO, whenever I can throw something their way in a charitable event or cause, you know, I still host the Buddy Walk every year, which is huge. It’s the number one Buddy Walk in the country now. And I started hosting that in its infancy when it was like, you know, 300 to 500 people and now, it’s tens of thousands.

Peter Margaritis: [00:19:49] So, I guess once the radio guy, always the radio guy, because you have a very successful podcast, Whiskey Business.

Dino Tripodis: [00:19:57] Whiskey Business, the podcast, not so much about whiskey as it is one with whiskey. Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:20:01] That’s right. And that cut my ear the first time I—”Wow. This is going to be an interesting podcast.

Dino Tripodis: [00:20:07] It is, because it’s, like I said, not so much about whiskey as is one with whiskey. That’s the only running theme. You have a different bottle of whiskey, which you’re not forced to drink as some of my guests do not drink.

Peter Margaritis: [00:20:19] Right.

Dino Tripodis: [00:20:19] And it’s not a requirement.

Peter Margaritis: [00:20:21] Right.

Dino Tripodis: [00:20:21] But, you know, I’d have this bottle of whiskey, learn a little bit about it and then, I share that with my guests. And my guests have ranged from A to Z. You know, we’ve discussed this. You know, it’s from an astrophysicist early on. We don’t have a Z yet. I’m still trying to get Jack Hanna or somebody from the Columbus Zoo. But yeah, they range from all walks of life. And this week, we dropped Jeni’s Ice Cream.

Peter Margaritis: [00:20:49] Right.

Dino Tripodis: [00:20:49] Charly Bauer.

Peter Margaritis: [00:20:49] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:20:49] He was on there talking about the development of that amazing company, you know, and how it started and all the trials and tribulations they went through. Yeah. I love it. I love it, because—and it is radio-like, but it’s not, because there’s no interruption. I don’t have to play a Maroon 5 song.

Peter Margaritis: [00:21:09] Right.

Dino Tripodis: [00:21:09] I don’t have to stop for 10-minute stops for commercials. And you get a chance to really take your time and get to know your guests and find out things. It’s made me a better interviewer. And if I were to go back on the radio, I think, as a result of podcasting, I’d be an even better radio person, which I think is something that you should never stop striving to be whatever your field might be.

Peter Margaritis: [00:21:40] Right.

Dino Tripodis: [00:21:40] I don’t ever want to be—you know, I don’t ever want to tap out. You know what I mean?

Peter Margaritis: [00:21:45] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:21:45] I don’t want to like, “This is as good as I’m going to get.”

Peter Margaritis: [00:21:47] Right.

Dino Tripodis: [00:21:48] You know, I always think that their dish should be more to learn and grow and gather, for lack of a better word.

Peter Margaritis: [00:21:55] It could be from—I don’t know if it’s the very sympathetic Greek family, because it seemed like that was always put in front of me, just keep going, don’t—yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:22:03] Well, always you keep going. And also, not good enough.

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:06] Not good enough.

Dino Tripodis: [00:22:08] Not good enough.

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:09] So, your movies. Is it on Netflix? No, it’s on Amazon Prime?

Dino Tripodis: [00:22:13] Yeah. “Is it in the theaters, honey?” “No. No, ma, the movie is on Amazon.” “Oh, okay.”

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:19] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:22:23] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:23] I’ve listened to a number of your episodes and we share a lot of the same.

Dino Tripodis: [00:22:28] Well, one of my favorite episodes of speaking of guests from all walks of life was the one that I did with my mother, you know, And Then, There’s Mom. You know, that podcast.

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:38] Oh, I missed that. I got to go listen to it.

Dino Tripodis: [00:22:39] Oh, you never listened to And Then, There’s Mom?

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:42] I have not, no.

Dino Tripodis: [00:22:43] Do yourself a favor.

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:44] I’m going to.

Dino Tripodis: [00:22:44] Do yourself a favor, watch it.

Peter Margaritis: [00:22:46] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:22:46] As opposed to listen to it on YouTube, so you could see those familiar Greek facials and reactions to questions. My mother was, I think—was she 83? That was—it was before she turned 83. So, it was Easter of 82, when she was— not 1982.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:05] So, last year?

Dino Tripodis: [00:23:05] Yes, she—was it—I don’t know. She’s 82 or 83. It doesn’t matter.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:10] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:23:10] I think 82. Doesn’t matter. Doesn’t matter. It was magnificent.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:16] Yeah. Easter of last year, which Easter? American Easter, Greek Easter?

Dino Tripodis: [00:23:18] Greek Easter.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:18] Greek Easter.

Dino Tripodis: [00:23:18] Greek Easter, but I think was the Easter before that one.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:21] Okay.

Dino Tripodis: [00:23:21] I think.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:22] Okay.

Dino Tripodis: [00:23:22] I don’t—I can’t remember.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:23] And your mom’s name is Christine?

Dino Tripodis: [00:23:24] Christine, yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:25] Yeah. So, I will definitely watch that. Actually, I’ll grab Mary and we’ll both watch it, but yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:23:29] Oh, yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:30] And actually, I’ll watch it, so I’d even mention it in the intro as I record it for this episode to go out that, “By the way, I did watch this”, and I’ll make some comments.

Dino Tripodis: [00:23:39] Oh, yeah. Absolutely. You have to. You’ll relate.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:43] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:23:43] And it’s also been one of the most viewed and successful of the podcast. I mean, we have a pretty good download ratio, but as far as—and we’re still trying to increase the YouTube viewership.

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:55] Right. Right. That’s tough.

Dino Tripodis: [00:23:56] Yeah. There’s so much out there to compete with. But that one got like, I think, some of the most views we’ve ever had.

Peter Margaritis: [00:24:06] Now, your mom used to come on the radio show with you, on Sunny 95. And I don’t remember, was it at specific points in time or was it just random?

Dino Tripodis: [00:24:15] There was a time where she would come up for Mother’s Day. And, you know, we do a Mother’s Day broadcast and there’s other times where she’s just been in randomly and she would come on. But she was always so funny. Kevin Pollak, you know, the American, Kevin Pollak, was in the studio with us when my mom was there. And my mother kept calling him Kenny.

Peter Margaritis: [00:24:43] Okay.

Dino Tripodis: [00:24:44] And he took it and she—”Kenny’s fine, Mrs. Tripodis.

Peter Margaritis: [00:24:47] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:24:48] Kenny’s fine.” You know, she kept calling him Kenny. And she loved him, but she kept calling him Kenny. “But, Ma, his name is not Kenny.” “It’s not?” “It’s Kevin.” “I’m sorry, Kevin.” And she goes right back to Kenny, you know, two minutes later, but-

Peter Margaritis: [00:25:02] Oh, that’s hilarious.

Dino Tripodis: [00:25:03] Yeah, she’s great.

Peter Margaritis: [00:25:04] Now, just if my mother’s listening to this, yes, the idea is now put into my head, I need to come down to interview you on my podcast.

Dino Tripodis: [00:25:11] Oh, yeah, you know.

Peter Margaritis: [00:25:13] That can be dangerous, though.

Dino Tripodis: [00:25:15] Oh, just in the opening, there’s a cold open before the podcast actually starts and it’s just me and my mom talking. I’m explaining to her, you know, what we’re going to be doing.

Peter Margaritis: [00:25:24] Okay.

Dino Tripodis: [00:25:24] And, you know, she comes in and she’s like, “I don’t know.” She’s almost disgusted. “I don’t know how you got into this.” She’s looking at all the bottles that are around, you know, on the set of the podcast. “I don’t know how you got into this whiskey business.” I go, “Mom, I’m not in the whiskey business.” I’m trying to explain to her, but it’s great. It’s got very funny moments. She’s still very quick.

Peter Margaritis: [00:25:49] Good.

Dino Tripodis: [00:25:49] I mean, you know, people say, “Where do you get your sense of humor?” My father had a wry sense of humor, but I think the sarcastic side of me, you know, that part, the self-deprecating side of my humor comes from my mother, I’m sure.

Peter Margaritis: [00:26:05] No.

Dino Tripodis: [00:26:06] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:26:06] I got some—most of my humor came from my dad. He was a very funny guy. I’d bring a girl over for the first time, he go, “Son, she’s a lot better-looking than you said. Boy, why don’t you go get a paper. Let her stay here and we’ll talk for a while.” Yeah, so that was my dad.

Dino Tripodis: [00:26:22] Thanks, dad.

Peter Margaritis: [00:26:22] Yeah. Thanks, dad.

Dino Tripodis: [00:26:22] Thanks, you know.

Peter Margaritis: [00:26:23] Appreciate it.

Dino Tripodis: [00:26:24] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:26:24] Appreciate it. But you’ve done a lot of things in your life. I mean, you’ve been in movies, you produced movies, have your own film production company.

Dino Tripodis: [00:26:32] Never The Luck Productions, yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:26:33] You’re an author.

Dino Tripodis: [00:26:35] I am trying to be.

Peter Margaritis: [00:26:36] Published.

Dino Tripodis: [00:26:37] Yeah. Got a short story published last year in a collection that’s available on Amazon.com. I can’t remember the theme, was driving in the rain at 9:00, it’s a collection that they put out every year and they have a different theme. And on [indiscernible], “I’ll take a shot at this.” And at the time, sadly, it was inspired by my cousin, Tommy, who passed away needlessly, I might add. And this story is called Bearing Witness. And while the two characters have nothing to do with Tommy and myself, it’s a fixer and his partner in crime, if you will. But my cousin, Tommy, checked into a hospital with a heart condition and never left.

Peter Margaritis: [00:27:19] Wow.

Dino Tripodis: [00:27:19] Because he just started to progress and that’s what this story is about, you know, Bearing Witness. He has to go to the hospital and decide what to do with his friend, because it flashes back to a point where they say, you know, “Hey, if something ever happens, if I ever get stabbed, if I get shot”, you know, whatever the case, “and I’m suffering, don’t let me suffer. Put me down”, you know? So, while he hasn’t been shot or stabbed, he’s suffering. And so, there’s a moment where he has to decide what’s he going to do? Is he going to put him down or let nature take its course in the hospital? So, yeah, it’s dark.

Peter Margaritis: [00:28:04] Yeah, it’s deep.

Dino Tripodis: [00:28:05] It’s dark and it’s deep. And I say needlessly, because my cousin, Tommy, you know, if he would have taken better care of himself, if he would have responded to the things that were wrong with him, he would have taken his medication when he was supposed to take his medication, he wouldn’t have wound up in the situation he was in.

Peter Margaritis: [00:28:19] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:28:19] So, that’s just a damn shame.

Peter Margaritis: [00:28:25] But your mind is constantly looking—from my perspective, it’s constantly search and look and see. And then, you’re writing about it in some way, shape, or form. Do you sleep?

Dino Tripodis: [00:28:38] More now than I did when I was in radio.

Peter Margaritis: [00:28:40] Well, if I remember correctly, you could survive on four hours of sleep?

Dino Tripodis: [00:28:43] Oh, for years. For years. And right now, it’s averaging somewhere between five and seven. So, that’s more.

Peter Margaritis: [00:28:53] Okay.

Dino Tripodis: [00:28:53] We were talking. You said you like to write in the morning.

Peter Margaritis: [00:28:57] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:28:57] I like to write in the morning, too, but I do my best writing late at night. So, you know, when 9:00, 10:00, 11:00 rolls around, I will be up till 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning and writing. That’s my favorite time. It’s quiet. You know, I’m truly alone in my thoughts. The morning, too, but there are far more distractions in the morning. You know, even early, you know, you got guys like Pete Margaritis to text you at 5:00 a.m.

Peter Margaritis: [00:29:30] Yeah. That you call out, yeah. I say I did. I was up at 5:00, and I realized I did not send that last night, so I just—yeah, guys like me to text you at 5:00 in the morning.

Dino Tripodis: [00:29:41] So, yeah. So, fun doesn’t go up nearly as much in the middle of the night, but there are early risers that they get going at 5:00 in the morning like, “Oh, okay.” And that’s funny, because it didn’t wake me up.

Peter Margaritis: [00:29:55] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:29:55] It did not wake me up. I did wake up at 5:30 on my own and I went, “Oh, he texted me at 5:00 a.m.” Because I sometimes turn the ringer off in the middle of night, because, you know, for email notifications and whatnot.

Peter Margaritis: [00:30:09] Right.

Dino Tripodis: [00:30:09] Most of time, I’m a light sleeper. So, even a little beep, you know, would bring me up.

Peter Margaritis: [00:30:16] I didn’t think about that. I was up this morning to look, “Oh, crap. I forgot got to send it”, poof. I figured he’s sound asleep. He’s not going to hear this. He’s probably a deep sleeper. But then, I know-

Dino Tripodis: [00:30:25] Oh, so you wrote it last night?

Peter Margaritis: [00:30:26] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:30:27] You forgot to send it.

Peter Margaritis: [00:30:27] Yeah. I forgot to send it. I looked at it this morning, “Oh, forgot to send this one.”

Dino Tripodis: [00:30:32] And good for you for being up. You get up at 5:00 a.m. all the time?

Peter Margaritis: [00:30:35] Most of the time. If I’m up, my son will come home, he’s been out or whatever, during a week or whatever, if I’m up past 10:00, he goes, “What are you doing up?

Dino Tripodis: [00:30:44] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:30:44] “Are you okay, dad?”

Dino Tripodis: [00:30:45] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:30:46] Yeah, I’m fine. Just feel like staying up tonight. I-

Dino Tripodis: [00:30:48] See, I love the night.

Peter Margaritis: [00:30:50] I used to.

Dino Tripodis: [00:30:51] I do. I still do.

Peter Margaritis: [00:30:52] I used to, but I have this-

Dino Tripodis: [00:30:54] It was a problem when you did a morning show.

Peter Margaritis: [00:30:57] Well, yeah. Yeah. See, I would—there was no way I could do a morning show. Actually, when I managed restaurants in the Atlanta area, I get home late and I had to be back at the store. And I can’t tell you how many times I showed up late to work just because I just could not wake up that next morning.

Dino Tripodis: [00:31:16] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:31:17] But I’ve turned into a morning person. I have two dogs and they like to get up early and they like to wake me up. And I’ll get down and make a cup of coffee and just kind of start my morning and stuff.

Dino Tripodis: [00:31:26] That’s good.

Peter Margaritis: [00:31:26] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:31:27] That’s good now.

Peter Margaritis: [00:31:28] But then, by 8:30, 9:00, I’m usually passed out on the couch.

Dino Tripodis: [00:31:30] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:31:30] Sleeping on the couch. I was sleeping on it.

Dino Tripodis: [00:31:32] At nighttime?

Peter Margaritis: [00:31:33] At nighttime.

Dino Tripodis: [00:31:34] Or I was going to say, back on the couch at 9:00 a.m., okay.

Peter Margaritis: [00:31:37] No, I’m usually asleep on the couch by 9:00 and I don’t nap. I’m pretty much-

Dino Tripodis: [00:31:41] I have discovered the—I do nap a little bit more.

Peter Margaritis: [00:31:48] You do nap a little bit.

Dino Tripodis: [00:31:49] I take what they—but I take Da Vinci naps. Did you ever hear about Da Vinci naps? Everybody, you look at the outpouring, the massive amount of work that Leonardo Da Vinci put out, both in art and inventions and so forth and so on. It’s because the man didn’t sleep, but he did take what—he did take 42-minute naps.

Peter Margaritis: [00:32:10] Forty-two, is there something special about the 42?

Dino Tripodis: [00:32:12] I don’t know. I don’t know if there’s something special about the 42-minute naps. I have the number just slightly off, but he would rest for 42 minutes and then, work for four to six hours a time, take another 42-minute. He would take these little power—it was the mentor of the power nap.

Peter Margaritis: [00:32:28] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:32:28] And there were some other people in history, too, that I can’t recall that did things like that similarly, where they would just rest for a little bit and then, just go back to the work.

Peter Margaritis: [00:32:40] I’ll take a nap if I’m completely exhausted. And I just—but I’ll wake up because my body will just start uncontrollably twitching, which will wake me back up. Now, Mary’s aunt in Greece always says, “Rest, 20 minutes.”

Dino Tripodis: [00:32:54] Twenty minutes, 20 minutes, yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:32:55] Just rest. You don’t have to go to sleep. Just-

Dino Tripodis: [00:32:57] Just rest the body.

Peter Margaritis: [00:32:58] Just rest the body.

Dino Tripodis: [00:32:59] There’s something to it.

Peter Margaritis: [00:33:00] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:33:00] There’s something to it.

Peter Margaritis: [00:33:01] There’s-

Dino Tripodis: [00:33:01] But yeah, I’ve learned to appreciate that a little bit more. I don’t do it every day.

Peter Margaritis: [00:33:06] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:33:06] But I would have no problem doing it every day. But once the day starts, you know, we talked about doing this like, you know, noon is good, because I think once 10:00 a.m. starts, the day starts rolling.

Peter Margaritis: [00:33:21] Right.

Dino Tripodis: [00:33:21] And early in the week, too, we’re doing this on a Monday, I said do it Monday as opposed to—let’s get this moving on a Monday, because the week tends to snowball.

Peter Margaritis: [00:33:30] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:33:30] And then, there’s other things that start in the way. So-

Peter Margaritis: [00:33:32] So, our paths over the years have crossed in a variety of different ways. I shared the story with my cousin, George and Buzzy and the parents here in, too We came to see you at Go Bananas in Cincinnati.

Dino Tripodis: [00:33:47] That’s a long time ago.

Peter Margaritis: [00:33:48] A long time ago. And you were doing your Greek stuff.

Dino Tripodis: [00:33:50] A long time ago.

Peter Margaritis: [00:33:51] And about the grandmother with the great big boobs.

Dino Tripodis: [00:33:54] The BGGBs.

Peter Margaritis: [00:33:56] Yeah. And my aunt almost—I mean, she—I think you had to stop and look at her, because she was just laughing.

Dino Tripodis: [00:34:01] Big Greek.

Peter Margaritis: [00:34:02] So, we all were. It just-

Dino Tripodis: [00:34:03] Big Greek Grandma Breasts.

Peter Margaritis: [00:34:05] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:34:05] She gets out of bed in the morning, they hit the floor before the feet do.

Peter Margaritis: [00:34:09] Keep going. You do this part just for my cousins now.

Dino Tripodis: [00:34:16] You hear four thumps. You’re downstairs, you hear four thumps, Yaya’s up. Only hear two, she just leaned over the edge of the bed for a glass of water. And there was one other time, one morning, we heard three thumps. We don’t know what the hell that was, but some people say grandpa. A classic.

Peter Margaritis: [00:34:39] A classic.

Dino Tripodis: [00:34:40] A classic.

Peter Margaritis: [00:34:41] And then, I don’t remember what year it was, I had gotten to the finals of the Funny Bone Funniest Person in Columbus contest. You were MC-ing that night. And our paths have crossed, but it recently crossed when our good friend, I can—I don’t know if Caperton think of me as a good friend, but I will throw him under the bus and say-

Dino Tripodis: [00:34:57] Dave Caperton?

Peter Margaritis: [00:34:58] Dave Caperton.

Dino Tripodis: [00:34:58] Funny man who could still get up on a stand-up stage today if he wanted to and kill it.

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:05] He doesn’t want to?

Dino Tripodis: [00:35:06] I don’t know if he wants to or not, but I’m saying I saw him recently speak, because I know what you’re getting ready to lean into.

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:14] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:35:14] And while he delivered his message as a keynote speaker, intermingled in there was all the foundation of stand-up.

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:23] Right.

Dino Tripodis: [00:35:23] And if you could pull, you know, out of that 45-minute to an hour presentation, if you were to pull all the jokes and humor out of it, you know, it would be a killer set at any stand-up club at any given time. So, yeah, there’s no doubt in my mind that he could do that again if he chose to.

Peter Margaritis: [00:35:43] So, we did a speaker showcase up in Cleveland. August, I think, of ’18 and brought the film crew men, because speakers always want film video. And he told the people that, “So, if you mess up, stop, pause, move forward.” Everyone, at least once or twice stopped and paused, except for Caperton.

Dino Tripodis: [00:36:06] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:36:06] He did his—I don’t know, was it 15 minutes? Was it 30 minutes? I don’t know, but he went from start to finish, did not miss a beat, completely nailed it.

Dino Tripodis: [00:36:15] Not surprised.

Peter Margaritis: [00:36:16] Yeah. So, I should just—we should just try to get back up on stage.

Dino Tripodis: [00:36:21] Get up on stage?

Peter Margaritis: [00:36:21] Yeah. We’ll start a campaign.

Dino Tripodis: [00:36:23] I’m trying to—I mentioned it to him. You mentioned Whiskey Business, the podcast, we also have what I call a side hustle, sister podcast, The Premise.

Peter Margaritis: [00:36:35] The Premise. Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:36:36] And it’s recorded live at the upfront stage of Shadowbox Live. And that is a combination comedy show, podcast. You’re handed the—two comedic competitors are handed a premise that they’re seeing and getting for the first time that night. Then, they go to the writers table and have 20 minutes to write three to five minutes of stand-up comedy based on the premise they were just handed.

Peter Margaritis: [00:36:57] Right.

Dino Tripodis: [00:36:57] In the meantime, while they’re working, we have a guest comic who performs and sits down with me and I interview them. And then, by the time that 20 minutes is up, the competitors come up, do their thing and they sit down. So, it incorporates both comedy, podcasting all in one. It’s a great show. It’s really starting to take off. And I have asked Caperton to be a competitor. Not a guest comic, a competitor. Because I think that brain of his is still mining gold.

Peter Margaritis: [00:37:27] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:37:27] And I think he could take a premise.

Peter Margaritis: [00:37:29] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:37:29] I think he could take, you know—I’m grabbing something out of the pencil bin here.

Peter Margaritis: [00:37:34] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:37:34] I think he could take black Sharpie.

Peter Margaritis: [00:37:36] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:37:37] And write three to five minutes of stand-up material in 20 minutes about a black Sharpie or anything related to Sharpies. I think he could do that. And he’s interested.

Peter Margaritis: [00:37:45] Oh, cool.

Dino Tripodis: [00:37:46] So, if that happens, you have to come down and check him out.

Peter Margaritis: [00:37:49] So, I was able to watch the one from the most recent one, I think Nickey Winkelman was on.

Dino Tripodis: [00:37:56] Yeah, that was-

Peter Margaritis: [00:37:57] And Jeff Gage.

Dino Tripodis: [00:37:58] Yeah. Nickey and Jeff.

Peter Margaritis: [00:37:59] And there was another gentleman.

Dino Tripodis: [00:38:00] Kenny Mock was the guest comic.

Peter Margaritis: [00:38:02] Okay. Okay.

Dino Tripodis: [00:38:03] He was the guest comedian. Yeah, he did Great.

Peter Margaritis: [00:38:05] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:38:05] Kenny killed it.

Peter Margaritis: [00:38:06] I’ve listened/watched a few of them and are there a certain time, day, month?

Dino Tripodis: [00:38:14] Yeah. Third Thursday of the month.

Peter Margaritis: [00:38:16] Okay.

Dino Tripodis: [00:38:16] So, we just did January. We’ll be back in February, the third Thursday of the month in February. We’re also going to expand the parameters of The Premise and include sketch, two-person sketch competitors as well.

Peter Margaritis: [00:38:32] I wasn’t thinking of going down this path, but I’m going to take it on. Are you thinking about doing, you doing the sketch on the bit that you were sharing with me the last time we were having coffee, something about selective hearing? Are you going to do that one?

Dino Tripodis: [00:38:49] Oh, that, you know, you just prompted my memory to remember that, that could work.

Peter Margaritis: [00:38:54] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:38:54] Yes, I would do that.

Peter Margaritis: [00:38:55] You’re talking about you sitting around with the family and-

Dino Tripodis: [00:38:58] Oh, that was that. Though, I actually did—that was an actual bit that I did. Thank you for reminding me, because I got to remember to do that when I do most. Yes, I’ve forgotten more bits, but that one’s fairly knew. That one’s fairly new. But the selective hearing, how nobody—family’s all together at the same time, but nobody’s listening at the same time. That could very well be a sketch, but I performed it. You know, I play all the parts, you know, when I do that. I did that. I did that at the—I debuted that at The Premise when I do a little bit of stand-up upfront to start the show. And it worked. It worked out well.

Peter Margaritis: [00:39:28] Yeah. Because I—but this is how your mind works, because as you were talking about that, I went back into my head, “Oh, I’ve had none of those conversations.” Did you—the one that I’m all right is my mother talks in vague. Does your mother talk in vague? You know-

Dino Tripodis: [00:39:42] I can talk in vague.

Peter Margaritis: [00:39:42] … those people over there, you know. You know, “He called me yesterday. I had to go see him.” “Who’s him?” “You know, the guy.”

Dino Tripodis: [00:39:50] “Who’s he?”

Peter Margaritis: [00:39:50] “Who’s he?” “You know, the guy.” You know, “Who are you talking about?”

Dino Tripodis: [00:39:54] Then, they get mad at you.

Peter Margaritis: [00:39:54] Right.

Dino Tripodis: [00:39:55] And because you don’t know.

Peter Margaritis: [00:39:56] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:39:56] “Remember that show?” “What show?”

Peter Margaritis: [00:39:59] Right. Right.

Dino Tripodis: [00:40:00] “Oh, the one we watch that day.” “What day”, you know.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:05] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:40:05] “When I was there visit-” And then, by the third question, they start to get angry.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:11] Right.

Dino Tripodis: [00:40:11] You know, you’re wrong now.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:12] Right.

Dino Tripodis: [00:40:12] “When I was up there visiting you.”

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:14] Yes.

Dino Tripodis: [00:40:14] “Last Easter. We sat on the couch.” She’ll tell you everything that we ate, but she still won’t be able to remember the damn show, you know.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:21] Yeah. “I went to the doctor.” “Which doctor?” “I went to the doctor, you know, my doctor.” “Which doctor?” “You know, the doctor. The doctor that-” So, she-

Dino Tripodis: [00:40:28] Speaking vague, that’s very funny.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:31] Yeah. My mother speaks in vague a lot. So, you do all this stuff, but you have a message, because you showed up at National Speakers Association, Ohio chapter. Curious about it.

Dino Tripodis: [00:40:44] Very curious. And still am not only curious, but plan in 2020 to put it into play, yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:51] So, today is January 27, 2020.

Dino Tripodis: [00:40:54] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:55] So, in the year?

Dino Tripodis: [00:40:56] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:56] Yeah. So, what’s your plan?

Dino Tripodis: [00:41:01] I don’t know. No, I do know. I was thinking about this when we discussed the fact that we’re going to do this podcast, you know, what the message is. And it could be—I think I’ve narrowed it down to a couple.

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:12] Okay.

Dino Tripodis: [00:41:12] I mean, you mentioned, you know, I left Sunny 95 in June of ’18. And everybody—I get that question all time, everybody says, you know, “How’s retirement?” “Well, I don’t feel retired by any stretch of the imagination and nor could I, you know, afford to not draw some sort of income in the years to come.

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:35] Right.

Dino Tripodis: [00:41:35] I need to still throw some things into that bucket that I’ve saved over the years.” But I preferred, instead of retired, I like the term, in the last year-and-a-half, I’ve been refocused.

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:47] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:41:47] And I think there’s a message there about refocusing and—I mean, what is retirement, actually? You know, to me, the archaic definition of retirement is sitting on my front porch and telling kids to stay off of my grass, you know, but refocus would be me writing a story about sitting on my porch, telling kids to stay off of my grass and find the humor in that and expand upon it. There are things that I have now the time to do and devote more time to, but that also requires discipline and confidence. And I need to not beat myself up so much. I am my harshest critic as well.

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:38] Right.

Dino Tripodis: [00:42:38] My buddy, Jamie, says “When you die, you know, when you’re writing out your will, I want all your unpublished manuscripts”, because there’s piles and piles of writings up in my office that I deemed not good enough to send out, to be, you know, accepted or rejected. I just cut to the chase and said, “It’s crap.”

Peter Margaritis: [00:43:05] I’ve heard that before in this conversation.

Dino Tripodis: [00:43:07] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:43:08] That, not good enough.

Dino Tripodis: [00:43:08] Not good enough. Yeah. And they’re up there. And he goes, “I want, I want, because when you die, you know, then there’s going to be this whole treasure trove of, you know, unpublished stuff.” And someone said the same thing about music. I used to write music back in my early 20s. There’s one point in my life I thought I was going to be a songwriter, because music was a big part of my life. And I’ve come across these real tapes and cassette tapes with dozens and dozens and dozens of songs, original music. And some of them are angst-ridden 20-something crap.

Peter Margaritis: [00:43:44] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:43:44] And some are not bad.

Peter Margaritis: [00:43:49] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:43:49] You know, if I’m being—you know, if I could be objective.

Peter Margaritis: [00:43:54] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:43:54] You know, like, “Oh, there’s actually a real melody in there.”

Peter Margaritis: [00:43:58] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:43:58] But they are—you know, that they’re definitely reflective of life in the early ’80s, for sure. Yeah. And I must have been one angst-ridden 20-something in the ’80s, man, because, you know, like, “Wow, man. Somebody, tell a joke.”

Peter Margaritis: [00:44:18] Well—but you did stand-up for so many years.

Dino Tripodis: [00:44:21] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:44:21] I mean, that’s the ultimate rejection.

Dino Tripodis: [00:44:26] It can be. Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:44:28] I didn’t—Rick Roberts once told me recently the last few years that-

Dino Tripodis: [00:44:33] Rick Roberts, great comedian.

Peter Margaritis: [00:44:35] Yeah, clean comedian.

Dino Tripodis: [00:44:36] Clean comedian.

Peter Margaritis: [00:44:37] Barney Fife guy.

Dino Tripodis: [00:44:38] Oh, yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:44:39] That don’t take your jokes—”The audience’s silence, don’t take it personally. You’re bringing your product to the audience. They’re examining your inventory. If they don’t like it, that’s just fodder for you to go back and fix it.”

Dino Tripodis: [00:44:50] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:44:50] I took it personally.

Dino Tripodis: [00:44:52] Actually, I never took it personally.

Peter Margaritis: [00:44:54] Yeah, I did.

Dino Tripodis: [00:44:55] And I should have, because to this day and even back then, my act was very personal. It was about me.

Peter Margaritis: [00:45:02] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:45:02] I didn’t do topical humor.

Peter Margaritis: [00:45:04] Right.

Dino Tripodis: [00:45:04] I didn’t talk politics. I didn’t do them. Everything that I talked about was steeped in truth of my life, much as it is now. Back then, it was, you know, being a divorced guy with no money. You know, when I first got divorced, nothing. You know, I talked about that. You know, I’m talking about my apartment. You know, I don’t want to say my apartment’s small, you know, after the divorce. But, you know, I’m the only guy I know who can shit, fry an egg at the same time, you know.

Peter Margaritis: [00:45:33] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:45:33] So, stuff like that.

Peter Margaritis: [00:45:33] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:45:33] But it was steeped in truth. And now, it’s steeped in truth. You know, I was writing stuff down just the other day, you know, about where I’m at at life at 60. You know, emotionally, physically, sexually. Just all streams that flow into the same river.

Peter Margaritis: [00:45:57] Right. I had that same river and I do write my stuff down, I just don’t perform it, because maybe—you just brought something, because maybe it’s just not good enough. I’ve written some sketch and I’ve never shown anybody—I’ve told a few people about it, but never kind of piece because it’s-

Dino Tripodis: [00:46:12] And don’t you question why? Because you have this podcast now for how many years?

Peter Margaritis: [00:46:17] Three-and-a-half.

Dino Tripodis: [00:46:18] Yeah, three-and-a-half years. And you put out a great message. You’ve written books.

Peter Margaritis: [00:46:22] Two books.

Dino Tripodis: [00:46:23] Two books. Successful.

Peter Margaritis: [00:46:25] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:46:25] Right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:46:25] Right.

Dino Tripodis: [00:46:25] You sell them, they made money.

Peter Margaritis: [00:46:27] They’re making money.

Dino Tripodis: [00:46:28] They make money.

Peter Margaritis: [00:46:28] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:46:28] They make money.

Peter Margaritis: [00:46:29] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:46:29] So, why would you—you don’t doubt this podcast. You think you have a good product here. You don’t doubt the two books that you put out, they’re successful. So, why do you draw the line? I don’t want to point to you exactly, but why do we with certain things in life tend to draw a line in the sand that we were afraid to cross, because we don’t think it’s good enough. Are we ultimately afraid of rejection? I mean, nobody likes to be rejected.

Peter Margaritis: [00:47:01] Right. No. But my mind towards rejection has changed as failure. You’ve mentioned, I mean, you failed a number of times and you-

Dino Tripodis: [00:47:07] Oh, God, I’m still failing.

Peter Margaritis: [00:47:08] Right. But that’s good, because we learn.

Dino Tripodis: [00:47:10] My mother thinks I’m failing as we speak by not going to a place of employment Monday through Friday.

Peter Margaritis: [00:47:17] Right.

Dino Tripodis: [00:47:17] Yes.

Peter Margaritis: [00:47:17] Yes.

Dino Tripodis: [00:47:17] In my mother’s eyes right now, she would never say it, God bless her, but she thinks I’m failing.

Peter Margaritis: [00:47:22] Right. But when we fail, we learn.

Dino Tripodis: [00:47:25] Sure.

Peter Margaritis: [00:47:25] You didn’t grow up in that household that you feel you learn, because if you grew up in a similar household, that my dad did not like failure at all. He did not like mistakes. I might have to turn to my brother to remind me of stuff in my childhood, because I don’t remember a whole lot. But the things I do remember was when there was a mistake and dad didn’t take it well. And failure was not an option. So, I’ve learned how to deal with it. I’ve learned how to get past most of it at times.

Dino Tripodis: [00:47:52] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:47:52] But there’s still that little bit of that.

Dino Tripodis: [00:47:55] Which brings me to what my—you said, you know, what’s your message going to be?

Peter Margaritis: [00:47:59] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:47:59] And I think this one probably resonates louder. And, you know, you tend to—if you pay attention, you tend to go to, you know, what’s drawing you. And life, no matter what stage of life you’re in, you know, if we go back to our 30s or now, me at 60. How old are you?

Peter Margaritis: [00:48:20] Fifty-nine-and-a-half.

Dino Tripodis: [00:48:21] Fifty-nine-and-a-half. Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:48:25] No.

Dino Tripodis: [00:48:25] No. No. No. It’s funny you say that. When we get to that age, we’re 59, we don’t even do that. When we were kids, you were two-and-a-half.

Peter Margaritis: [00:48:33] Right.

Dino Tripodis: [00:48:33] Three-and-a-half. You know, until you were like five or six.

Peter Margaritis: [00:48:37] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:48:37] And then, you just started calling the number.

Peter Margaritis: [00:48:39] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:48:39] And then, as we get older, then you start using the half again.

Peter Margaritis: [00:48:41] Yeah. Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:48:42] Because, you know-

Peter Margaritis: [00:48:42] Sixty is a long way away, right?

Dino Tripodis: [00:48:44] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Fifty-nine-and-a-half, I still got six months, don’t rush it.

Peter Margaritis: [00:48:49] Yeah, I got 10 months, but felt kind of restless, doesn’t-

Dino Tripodis: [00:48:51] What my point is that we are the sum of our experiences.

Peter Margaritis: [00:48:57] Absolutely.

Dino Tripodis: [00:48:57] Right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:48:58] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:48:58] Good, bad, or indifferent. And the message in this new realm that I’d like to get into with the keynote speaking is the sum of those experiences. So, I think when I look back at my convoluted childhood and I have some dark holes, too, something that’s weird. I can remember something at two years of age, but I can’t remember a lot from 5 to 7. I remember—because I was sick. I had—if you listen to the podcast with my mother, I thought it was one, I thought it was double pneumonia with one collapsed lung. It was double pneumonia with two collapsed lungs at 6 years of age in Children’s Hospital in Chicago. You know, I remember being in an oxygen. I remember stuff like that, but there’s a lot of things that I don’t remember. Sadly, I do remember a lot of the pain. There’s a four-piece article—what island are your people from in Greece?

Peter Margaritis: [00:50:04] Oh, my grandparents, Thessaloniki, Asia Minor, that part.

Dino Tripodis: [00:50:09] We’re Icarian from Icaria. And they have a magazine that comes out quarterly for the Icarian membership. And I just recently—it’ll be in the February issue and they come out with a quarterly winter, spring, summer, fall. And they’ve agreed to let me do a four-part memoir type of article. So, the first part—this first part that’s coming out, it’s called Boy Without a Country. And this first part, it’s coming in at about 1,000 words or so, deals with leaving Dalton, Illinois, suburb that we lived in in Chicago and moving to Icaria in 1968.

Peter Margaritis: [00:50:55] Oh, so you moved to Greece?

Dino Tripodis: [00:50:56] When I was nine years old.

Peter Margaritis: [00:50:57] Wow. Okay.

Dino Tripodis: [00:50:59] And those—my friend, those were some dark times for me, leaving a suburb of Chicago, leaving a neighborhood that you thought you would grow up in and leaving friends and so forth, you know.

Peter Margaritis: [00:51:11] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:51:11] And to move to an island in Greece in 1968, which things in Greece were a little bit troublesome back then.

Peter Margaritis: [00:51:20] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:51:20] And then, especially Icaria, because Icaria is very close to Turkey, but that completely changed—have a lifestyle changed at nine, that’s what this memoir will be about, basically. And there will be some painful memories that, probably, if I’m being completely honest, won’t reflect well on my father, God rest his soul. He was a different kind of man. And like I said, you are the sum of your experiences. And some of us are defeated by those experiences and forms of depression and anxiety and ever get past them. And some of us rise, but they’re all lessons learned.

Peter Margaritis: [00:52:14] Right.

Dino Tripodis: [00:52:14] And I think that’s the message that I seem to be more drawn to as far as keynote speaking, that you are the sum of your experiences. And if those experiences are bad, that doesn’t mean that the sum is going to be bad, that you can learn from all the pain and all the angst and the things that could’ve shaped you one way, but you went another way. But it’s still interesting how those demons can continue to pull you despite that. You know, I was cleaning up my office the other day, first time in years.

Dino Tripodis: [00:52:51] And I ran across a letter from my father that was written in English, because he said in the letter, “I was told that the last letter I wrote you, you couldn’t read or understand correctly, it was in Greek, so your cousin is writing”, you know. And it was—yeah, there’s a lot there with—there’s a lot. I’ll never completely conquer all of it with my father, because I get so many mixed stories about him. He’s included periodically in a book that I’m trying to finish right now called I Wrote Down What You Were Thinking, which is a book of one-page essays that I did in 2018. I wrote a one-page essay every day for 365 days on whatever thought crossed my mind. And there’s some in there about my father, because that’s the thought that crossed my mind.

Peter Margaritis: [00:53:54] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:53:54] I went to a wedding in Chicago for my cousin, his youngest daughter got married. And of course, there was conversation about my father and, you know, the name of that particular essay is The Most Talked About Man in the Room Who Wasn’t There. And through the years, I’ve heard all these different stories about why my father was the way he was, you know. Some people will say he was this or that some people say he was ill.

Dino Tripodis: [00:54:23] Some people say he was mentally ill. Some people blame it on a blood disorder. Some people blame it on a brain tumor. Some people just say—and it’s such a mixed message, because my father was beloved by so many people. You know, that you talk to any Icarian who went back and forth to visit my father on a regular basis and they love Jimmy. But you as the son, you know, you, “Who are they talking about?”

Peter Margaritis: [00:54:49] Right.

Dino Tripodis: [00:54:50] You know, my cousin, my first cousin, my uncle’s son, my father’s brother, had a better relationship with my father over the years than I did. He would tell stories about him and my dad in Las Vegas. “You were in Las Vegas with my father. What was-” You know, he tells this great story about how these two guys were found and getting ready to mug him in Vegas. And my father, very intuitive, instinctive guy, picked up on it and turned the tables on him. He started following them to the point where they got nervous.

Peter Margaritis: [00:55:33] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:55:33] But the way my cousin tells this very colorful story about what a bad ass my father was, you know, it’s like I relish in the telling of the story and then, I would get mad, you know? So, there’s—my message is in there somewhere about the sum of those experiences and how you apply them in life. You know, are there elements of my father that are stuff that’s bred in the bone, you know, that you can’t avoid. That’s just the DNA.

Dino Tripodis: [00:56:09] And, you know, are some of those things good? And the stuff that isn’t good, you know, is it going to come back in—is it going to, you know, play into my life as well at some point? And sometimes, I think it has. And I was like, “God damn it.” You know, he wasn’t a good father. And when I got divorced, you know, the most painful thing at the bottom is like, “Oh, my God, am I going to be like my father”, you know. And in respect to how he raised his children, because he really didn’t. He was—you know, my mother did.

Peter Margaritis: [00:56:43] Right.

Dino Tripodis: [00:56:44] You know, I didn’t want to be that. And thank God, you know, I didn’t. You know, I think I’ve been a good father to my one daughter. And I think I’ve been a good dad, not a great dad, you know, I think there are things over the course of the years I look back on that I wish I would have done better. But, you know, yeah, that’s the story. And that’s what I’m trying to probably craft more, because I think, you know, you want to be relatable in this world, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:57:11] Right. Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:57:11] Of keynote speaking, right? And so, I think that no matter who you are, that’s relatable. The life is hard, man.

Peter Margaritis: [00:57:22] Right.

Dino Tripodis: [00:57:22] I mean, I don’t care who you are, but it’s hard for different reasons. Even people that have had nothing but—you know, you hear about the people with the golden spoon, you know, all their life.

Peter Margaritis: [00:57:32] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:57:32] I guarantee you, you know, something went awry in that life, too. Maybe not financially, maybe not socially, maybe not—you know, maybe they went through life and never wanted a thing, but they were lacking in something else. Everybody’s got that.

Peter Margaritis: [00:57:49] Right.

Dino Tripodis: [00:57:49] So, I think that’s where my message.

Peter Margaritis: [00:57:53] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:57:53] To get my long-winded answer is leaning more towards that.

Peter Margaritis: [00:57:57] So, I wish we were videoing this, because just in that piece of describing, you should have seen your eyes. You had so much emotion and that message that you have and you already got the title of your keynote.

Dino Tripodis: [00:58:15] What’s that?

Peter Margaritis: [00:58:15] The sum of-

Dino Tripodis: [00:58:16] Oh, the sum of your experiences.

Peter Margaritis: [00:58:18] The sum of your experiences.

Dino Tripodis: [00:58:19] Oh, I don’t even know if that’s the title, but okay.

Peter Margaritis: [00:58:21] I’m thinking that’s first thing, that could be a title for that. And you delivering those stories of you and your dad. And there are some happy times in there as well. And, you know, bringing that audience up and down, but having that—well, tightening up in a bow and going-

Dino Tripodis: [00:58:40] And also, slip in some humor.

Peter Margaritis: [00:58:42] Right. Absolutely.

Dino Tripodis: [00:58:43] Well, you know, there’s some humor in there, too. But yeah, that’s the story in this article I was talking about, Boy Without A Country. It’s kind of that, that’s what I felt like, I felt like a boy without a country. I’m this nine-year old Greek boy from the states who’s now living on an island, not accepted by the other kids at that particular point.

Peter Margaritis: [00:59:07] Right.

Dino Tripodis: [00:59:07] You know, there’s one kid and he’ll show up, he’ll pop up in later installments of this for peace thing, but up on Delicara, he was the doctor’s son. He befriended me and he became a great friend. And then, it was funny. At one point, my mother, God bless her, you know, she was told to pack only the necessary things. We came by boat on the Queen Anna Maria out of New York.

Peter Margaritis: [00:59:36] Wow.

Dino Tripodis: [00:59:37] Twelve-day boat ride, cruise, beautiful, you know, to Piraeus.

Peter Margaritis: [00:59:43] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [00:59:43] And then, once that fantasy was over, the 12-day cruise, that’s when the reality set in. We went from—and this is in the first installment. It went from a cruise ship to, for lack of a better word, this piece of crap steamer boat that was going to go from Piraeus to Icaria, you know. We went from luxury accommodations on a cruise ship to sitting in a row of seats, you know, on a boat for 12 hours, you know.

Peter Margaritis: [01:00:14] Wow.

Dino Tripodis: [01:00:14] We went from—you went from a guy with the—you know, who was playing a hand-held xylophone to announce that breakfast was being served and lunch was being served to, you know, purchasing wrap sandwiches and some sort of soft drink from whatever concession stand was on the boat. And these are the things that are in my memory.

Peter Margaritis: [01:00:35] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [01:00:35] Are they accurate? You know, would they be debated? Probably. You know, will someone else remember them differently? You know, my sister was four years younger, she may not, but my cousins, will they remember them differently? Probably. Everybody’s got different interpretations, but this how I remember that.

Peter Margaritis: [01:00:51] Right.

Dino Tripodis: [01:00:52] So, in that four-piece article, I will try to capture some of that Icaria in 1968 and how it felt for a nine-year old, because I left at 11. I was sent back to the states to live my grandparents and my Yaya and my Papu in Steubenville without my mother.

Peter Margaritis: [01:01:16] So, that’s how you got to Ohio.

Dino Tripodis: [01:01:17] Without my mother, without my father, without my sister for little more than two years. Then, my mother and my sister eventually came over, because my parents’ marriage disintegrated, continue to disintegrate. And my mother came back with my sister. But I was two years with Yaya and Papu with Uncle Chris in Steubenville, Ohio. And that’s a story.

Peter Margaritis: [01:01:39] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [01:01:39] That’s like part—Sum of Your Experiences Part Two. You know, living with a domineering Yaya who wouldn’t let you do anything, you know, because your mother’s not here. You know, she. I mean, a very closed-off, you know, go to church.

Peter Margaritis: [01:01:59] Go to church.

Dino Tripodis: [01:01:59] Go to church. You can be an altar boy. You know, you can do anything involved with the church.

Peter Margaritis: [01:02:05] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [01:02:05] You know, you’re not going on field trips. I’m not signing that permission slip. You’re not playing sports. I’m not signing that permission slip. You can go to the library, which was her gift to me, whether she realized it or not. I became a voracious reader. I still am to this day. You can go to the movies. Capital Theatre in Steubenville was, you know, down the street. I go to the movies and picked up a love for movies, but, man.

Dino Tripodis: [01:02:29] And talk about not doing anything right, my Yaya, God bless her, God bless her, but she—and like I said, the sum of your experiences, this is where some of the demons still exist. Maybe this is why there’s a pile of manuscripts sitting at home that I don’t think are good enough, because I developed a horrible inferiority complex. I had it when I was in Greece. And it just took on a different shape and form when It came to Steubenville. It was just another person, not maliciously.

Peter Margaritis: [01:02:57] Oh, right, right, right.

Dino Tripodis: [01:02:58] Not maliciously.

Peter Margaritis: [01:02:59] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [01:02:59] But it was just another form of that type of inferiority, you know.

Peter Margaritis: [01:03:06] Did you have that inferiority complex, when your parents will say—well, what would they think? What would the neighbors think? What would the people in the church think?

Dino Tripodis: [01:03:15] My mother still has some of that.

Peter Margaritis: [01:03:17] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [01:03:17] My mother still has some of that. My mother was never more proud to say that her son, you know, had the number one radio show in Columbus, Ohio. Well, what’s my mother got to say now? She’s not going to talk about the podcast. She’s not going to talk about the movie. You know, it’s interesting what our parents can comfortably wrap themselves around to claim. And it’s interesting what they what they don’t want to claim.

Peter Margaritis: [01:03:44] When the first book came out, my mother would introduce me, “My son, Peter, the author.”

Dino Tripodis: [01:03:48] There you go.

Peter Margaritis: [01:03:48] For a year.

Dino Tripodis: [01:03:48] Right?

Peter Margaritis: [01:03:48] Second book came out, “Hey, my son, Peter.”

Dino Tripodis: [01:03:51] Yeah, right. Right. Stand-up comedian for years.

Peter Margaritis: [01:03:55] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [01:03:55] Mother never mentioned a word about it. Make a national television debut on Fox with a show called—I can’t remember the name of the show. It was in the ’90s, then now, I’m a stand-up comedian because I’m on television nationwide.

Peter Margaritis: [01:04:14] Nationwide. Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [01:04:14] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [01:04:15] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [01:04:15] Comic Strip Live on Fox. Yeah. Then, my mother, “Oh, my son is on television.” Same thing with the movie.

Peter Margaritis: [01:04:24] Right.

Dino Tripodis: [01:04:24] It’s a great little movie. Street Where We Live, by the way. The Street Where We Live on Amazon Prime. You know, my mom, “Oh, that’s great. Is it going to be in the theaters?” “No, ma, it’s on Amazon.” “Oh.”

Peter Margaritis: [01:04:35] Yeah. Never good enough. And what would somebody—I find it somewhat, I don’t care what other people think anymore. Maybe it’s because I got into the days that I don’t care. I just would do what I think is right. And if it’s too edgy or whatever, mom, I’m sorry. I quit worrying about what other people think anymore.

Dino Tripodis: [01:04:51] Cool, calm, and neglected.

Peter Margaritis: [01:04:55] Cool, calm, and neglected. Exactly. Cool, calm, and neglected. Well, we’ve been at this for an hour. We could be at this for two hours plus.

Dino Tripodis: [01:05:01] Oh, probably.

Peter Margaritis: [01:05:02] I’m going to make the invitation that after this podcast, we have a part two maybe this summer, maybe in the fall.

Dino Tripodis: [01:05:09] Whenever you want.

Peter Margaritis: [01:05:09] Catch up with what’s going on, as well as to find out where you will be speaking professionally, into what groups and stuff. So-

Dino Tripodis: [01:05:18] I think part of it is the business side of it that I need to to learn how. And Dave Caperton has made some suggestions and so have you as well. And I’m going to put those suggestions into place. Part of it is the part that I’m a dinosaur with the social media side of it. You know, I had a LinkedIn account 20 years ago that I haven’t touched. I’m going to revisit that tonight, as a matter of fact, and update it and start putting these things out there that I’m available for and so forth and so on. But yeah, we’ll come back and chat again, for sure, if you’d like to. And you need to come on Whiskey Business.

Peter Margaritis: [01:05:55] Absolutely.

Dino Tripodis: [01:05:56] Whiskeybusinessshow.com. Whiskey business, the podcast, not so much about whiskey as it is one with whiskey. You can find us on Instagram. And you could find our social media on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter. You can find the podcast anywhere you get your podcasts, iTunes, SoundCloud, et cetera.

Peter Margaritis: [01:05:56] You should promote the—do you promote Whiskey Business on LinkedIn?

Dino Tripodis: [01:06:22] No. I haven’t touched—I wasn’t exaggerating. I’ve not touched that LinkedIn page in 20 years.

Peter Margaritis: [01:06:28] Yeah, you need to get that—could put that—you start promoting on LinkedIn, because that’s what-

Dino Tripodis: [01:06:30] I also have dinotripodis.com, which has been sitting idle on GoDaddy for 10 years.

Peter Margaritis: [01:06:35] But you still have it?

Dino Tripodis: [01:06:36] Oh, it’s mine. Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [01:06:37] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [01:06:37] I pay for it every year. Just haven’t turned it on.

Peter Margaritis: [01:06:41] But you’re going to be turning it on.

Dino Tripodis: [01:06:42] Yes.

Peter Margaritis: [01:06:43] And put in the website with all your stuff.

Dino Tripodis: [01:06:45] All my stuff.

Peter Margaritis: [01:06:46] All your stuff.

Dino Tripodis: [01:06:47] That’s-

Peter Margaritis: [01:06:47] That’s you.

Dino Tripodis: [01:06:48] Then, I’m going to put the movies, the stand-up, the writings, the podcast. Yeah. Yeah. Dino Tripodis, you’ll be sick of me by the time it’s all said and done. But these are things that I— you know, this is my Achilles heel. These are the things that I’m not good at. I can sit at home and write all day long and create until the cows come home. But then, you know, everybody’s got a—you know, what do you have? For me, it’s the next step, you know. So, I need to get better at the next step.

Peter Margaritis: [01:07:23] Yeah. And I don’t think it’s going to be that big of a step. It’s just understanding some of the business aspect of professional speaking.

Dino Tripodis: [01:07:28] Well, that’s a huge step.

Peter Margaritis: [01:07:30] But I think the learning curve is going to be quicker than you anticipate.

Dino Tripodis: [01:07:34] Let’s hope.

Peter Margaritis: [01:07:34] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [01:07:34] Because I’m 60.

Peter Margaritis: [01:07:35] You’re 60. That runway is getting shorter. You got less room to take of like, “Oh, thanks. I appreciate that.”

Dino Tripodis: [01:07:43] Well, I remember I went to one of those—aside from the initial meeting where I saw you, I went to one of those workshops.

Peter Margaritis: [01:07:50] Pay To Speak.

Dino Tripodis: [01:07:51] Pay To Speak workshop.

Peter Margaritis: [01:07:52] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [01:07:52] And I remember the guy saying, you know, “Whatever you do now, you’ll have this—you’ll probably have it nailed down in 10 years.” I go, “Ten years? I don’t have 10 years.”

Peter Margaritis: [01:08:04] Well, yeah. But then, again, you’ve had more in the public eye.

Dino Tripodis: [01:08:07] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [01:08:07] You have much more versus some people who have been in the corporate world or who authors or trying to do this-

Dino Tripodis: [01:08:12] I like to think of the time I’ve spent in broadcasting and podcasting and stand-up and so forth— what is it when you get college credit, when you go back to school for life experience?

Peter Margaritis: [01:08:24] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [01:08:24] I like to think that I’ve accumulated, you know, at least five to seven years on that 10-year plan that he was talking about that I could put into play.

Peter Margaritis: [01:08:31] Yeah, I think you got a master’s degree level, just wanting to get to the PhD.

Dino Tripodis: [01:08:36] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [01:08:36] That’s all you got to do.

Dino Tripodis: [01:08:37] That’s all.

Peter Margaritis: [01:08:37] Just a PhD, because you’ve come from a lot, just clearly.

Dino Tripodis: [01:08:41] I would just, “Hey, just give me the bachelor’s at this point.” That would make my mother happy, because I never graduated from college. So, you know, that was always a sore spot with her. Thank God the queen did.

Peter Margaritis: [01:08:53] Oh, yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [01:08:54] Yeah. It’s the good child.

Peter Margaritis: [01:08:55] The good child. Yeah. The good child. Well, it’s great catching up. It’s great to have you on the podcast.

Dino Tripodis: [01:09:01] It’s been a pleasure, man.

Peter Margaritis: [01:09:02] And it’s a lot of fun. And like I told you this morning, I’ve known you for a while, but I learned a lot about you this morning doing the research and some of that we touched on, some of that, we haven’t. I’ll save that for the next time.

Dino Tripodis: [01:09:14] Save that for next time. When you said, “I did some research.” And I go, I was like, “I told you what? What did you find? Because I don’t pay any attention to that stuff.”

Peter Margaritis: [01:09:21] I mean, you had the—there were movie credits. The part, you know, I saw that you acted. And what was the one I was mentioning? Bottom Feeders.

Dino Tripodis: [01:09:29] Oh, the Bottom, ’90s crime epic, the Quentin Tarantino-like movie that wasn’t.

Peter Margaritis: [01:09:34] But there’s a big-name actor in that.

Dino Tripodis: [01:09:36] John Saxon.

Peter Margaritis: [01:09:37] Yeah. Yeah. And then, when I was digging around, I said, “Whoa, he’s co-produced on a number of things.”

Dino Tripodis: [01:09:42] Yeah, I have.

Peter Margaritis: [01:09:42] Then, I find out that you’ve got your whole production company.

Dino Tripodis: [01:09:45] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [01:09:45] And the one that drew—in 2017, I can’t remember, we were just talking about the movie. It’s on Amazon.

Dino Tripodis: [01:09:52] The one right now?

Peter Margaritis: [01:09:52] Yeah. Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [01:09:53] The S0treet Where We Live?

Peter Margaritis: [01:09:53] Yeah. That was filmed in Columbus.

Dino Tripodis: [01:09:55] Oh, yeah. Most of it in Clintonville.

Peter Margaritis: [01:09:57] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [01:09:57] Clintonville.

Peter Margaritis: [01:10:00] Easton.

Dino Tripodis: [01:10:00] No, that was our—that was the very first short film I did. I did The Funny Man.

Peter Margaritis: [01:10:04] Yeah, that’s right.

Dino Tripodis: [01:10:05] The Funny Man. There’s-.

Peter Margaritis: [01:10:06] That was in Easton. Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [01:10:06] That was guerrilla film-making at its best.

Peter Margaritis: [01:10:09] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [01:10:09] And we shot at Easton at nighttime after it was closed down.

Peter Margaritis: [01:10:12] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [01:10:12] Fountain scene. Yeah. Wow. That was forever ago, too.

Peter Margaritis: [01:10:16] Yeah. But yeah. That was filmed here in Central Ohio.

Dino Tripodis: [01:10:18] Oh, yeah. But the street where I live was filmed mostly, in the Clintonville, Grand View, and Upper Arlington area. And the factory that opens up the film was shot on the west side. And that factory has closed since then, which is kind of ironic, because this is about, you know, a film that takes place at the height of the recession when everything started to go south.

Peter Margaritis: [01:10:43] Yeah.

Dino Tripodis: [01:10:44] And that whole, you know, I’m two paychecks away from being out on the street.

Peter Margaritis: [01:10:47] Right.

Dino Tripodis: [01:10:48] And that’s what happens to this mom. And a single mom and her kids.

Peter Margaritis: [01:10:53] Yeah. I will give that a watch then, as well as the episode with your mom.

Dino Tripodis: [01:10:58] And everybody says, “When are you going to write something funny for the screen?” It’s like, funny’s harder.

Peter Margaritis: [01:11:04] Well, I mean, do the selective listening. That’s funny.

Dino Tripodis: [01:11:09] It is funny.

Peter Margaritis: [01:11:09] I mean, you had me in tears when you’re telling me.

Dino Tripodis: [01:11:11] But is it a whole movie? No.

Peter Margaritis: [01:11:12] No.

Dino Tripodis: [01:11:13] It’s a scene in a movie.

Peter Margaritis: [01:11:14] Yeah, but you can build around that.

Dino Tripodis: [01:11:16] Yeah. You got to start somewhere.

Peter Margaritis: [01:11:17] I mean, you could take your whole life story build as this—and that be the part of it or you-

Dino Tripodis: [01:11:25] I need to contact Ted Sarandos at Netflix and pitch it to him.

Peter Margaritis: [01:11:31] There you go.

Dino Tripodis: [01:11:31] And then, yeah. Just give him a buzz.

Peter Margaritis: [01:11:32] Just give you a buzz.

Dino Tripodis: [01:11:33] His family is from Chios. That’s close.

Peter Margaritis: [01:11:35] That’s close.

Dino Tripodis: [01:11:35] Yeah, right.

Peter Margaritis: [01:11:35] It’s in Greece. He’s Greek. You know, there’s Greeks everywhere.

Dino Tripodis: [01:11:40] Yeah. So, yeah, I’ll pitch that to him as either a drama or comedy, whatever you want. Either one of them, both.

Peter Margaritis: [01:11:46] Cool.

Dino Tripodis: [01:11:47] All right, man. I’ve taken up enough of your time.

Peter Margaritis: [01:11:49] Oh, no, it’s Monday. I think I’m going to take a nap now.

Dino Tripodis: [01:11:53] Yeah, see, 42 minutes.

Peter Margaritis: [01:11:54] 42 minutes. Yeah. Thanks, Dino.

Dino Tripodis: [01:11:57] Thank you, Peter.

Peter Margaritis: [01:12:00] I would like to thank Dino for his time in sharing his wisdom, stories, and humor with us. I hope you all take time and reflect on, we are the sum of our experiences. How will you begin to change your mindset and let go of that past baggage that hold you back? This does not happen overnight and you have to work on it every single day. Thank you for listening. And if you enjoyed the podcast, please take a moment and leave a review on iTunes or whatever platform you download your podcast from. Also, please subscribe and share this episode with a friend. Make today and every day your best day.

Announcer: [01:12:45] Like what you just heard? Because it’s c-suiteradio.com. C-Suite Radio, turning the volume up on business.

S3E1. Ego is Getting in the Way of Empathy with Brian Comerford & Nick Lozano

Brian Comerford and Nick Lozano are co-hosts of the Lead.exe podcast, which covers topics ranging from leadership, emotional intelligence, design thinking, and many more. Brian is a digital leader and serial entrepreneur, notable as co-founder of Radiovalve.com, an I-radio station among the first generation of web casters. Nick is a technologist and entrepreneur. He has experience in working in technology and leading teams at Accenture, CornerStack, and a major trade association.

Brian and Nick met each other through a CIO Mastermind working group, where Nick worked and Brian was a member of. They kept having these interesting conversations before and after conferences. Eventually it got to a point where they realized, “Hey, we should record these.” Brian had a broadcasting background and Nick had an audio background, so it was a match made in heaven.

One of the topics Nick and Brian would discuss are so-called soft skills. Despite the term, they consider them to be essential leadership skills. Out of those, one of the biggest challenges they have noticed is with emotional intelligence. Technology leaders are always very keen on their technical skills, they keep up with all of their competitors, but they spend very little time looking at research about emotional intelligence, self-awareness, meditation, breath work, or anything that might help with culture and personal health. With their podcast, they can bring these ideas and techniques to a tech-obsessed audience.

What is it that keeps us from tapping into our own emotional intelligence? Often, it’s our ego that gets in the way.

In order to combat both their own ego and set an example for others, Brian and Nick like to point out the mistakes that they make. Letting his peers know that you don’t have to be perfect. If you go in with the perfectionist mentality, it’s impossible to be vulnerable, and you’ll hold back your ideas. Everybody messes up. Emotional intelligence can become so powerful if we can just get rid of the ego, but that’s difficult in corporate America.

Their parting advice is to remain vulnerable. Run towards failure and do things that scare you often. Doing that is the best way to keep your ego in check. And that is so vitally important, because love and empathy are critical to a positive work culture. You need to believe in that and see the value in it to achieve it.

Resources:

Transcript:

Click to download the full Transcript PDF.

Nick Lozano: [00:00:00] As soon as you understand as a leader that you work for the people that you’re managing, not the other way around, emotional intelligence comes out so much easier than trying to force it on.

Peter Margaritis: [00:00:20] Welcome to Change Your Mindset podcast, formerly known as Improv Is No Joke, where it’s all about believing that strong communication skills are the best way in delivering your technical accounting knowledge and growing your business. An effective way of building stronger communication skills is by embracing the principles of applied improvisation. Your host is Peter Margaritis, CPA a.k.a. The Accidental Accountant. And he will interview financial professionals and business leaders to find their secret in building stronger relationships with their clients, customers, associates, and peers, all the while growing their businesses. So, let’s start the show.

Peter Margaritis: [00:01:06] How do you attract and retain qualified employees? Are you aware of the importance of emotional intelligence and the effect that it has on your leadership style? What is your core business? And it’s not what you think? Can you explain block chain and artificial intelligence in a simple and understandable way? Well, those questions and more will be answered by my guests, Brian Comerford and Nick Lozano, who are co-host of Lead.exe podcast among other endeavors.

Peter Margaritis: [00:01:40] Lead.exe podcast covers topics from leadership to emotional intelligence to design thinking and many others. I had the honor and pleasure of being on their podcast on January 1, 2020 and these guys are really good and they are a ton of fun. Now, let me tell you a little bit more about Brian and Nick. Brian is a digital leader and serial entrepreneur, notably as co-founder of Radiovalve.com, an I-radio station among the first generation of web casters.

Peter Margaritis: [00:02:16] He served as adjunct professor at the University of Denver, his alma matter in the digital media studies department. He currently serves as co-chair of the CIO Working Group for the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers and as a board member of The Adoption Exchange, as well as the design partner for Foxit Software and Assurex Global, therefor. Now, Nick is a technologist and entrepreneur. Nick has experience in working in technology and leading teams at Accenture, a boutique technology consulting firm, CornerStack, and a major trade association.

Peter Margaritis: [00:02:54] Prior to working in technology, Nick led and managed teams in the hospitality industry. Now, these guys understand the challenges that left-brain linear thinkers deal with in the workplace, which are the same challenges that accounting and financial professionals are faced with as well. This episode has a wide variety of topics that everyone can learn from. Now, let me take care of some housekeeping issues and then, we’ll get to the interview.

Peter Margaritis: [00:03:22] Change Your Mindset is part of the C-Suite Radio family of podcasts. It’s an honor and a privilege to be amongst some of the more prevalent business podcasts, such as The Hero Factor with Jeffrey Hayzlett, Amazing Business Radio with Shep Hyken, and Keep Leading with my friend, Eddie Turner. You can find Change Your Mindset and many other outstanding business podcasts on C-Suite Radio by going to www.c-suiteradio.com.

Announcer: [00:03:51] This podcast is part of the C-Suite Radio Network, turning the volume up on business.

Peter Margaritis: [00:03:57] In January of 2020, I received an e-mail from Feedspot informing me that Change Your Mindset podcast was selected as one of the top 15 communications skills podcast you must follow in 2020. Wow. I admit I was completely caught off guard and extremely honored. Now, I would like to thank every guest that has been on my podcast for the last three-and-a-half years, because you are the ones who make this podcast successful. Thank you. And now, a word from our sponsor.

Sponsor: [00:04:32] This episode is sponsored by Peter A. Margaritis, LLC, a.k.a. The Accidental Accountant. Are you looking for a high content and engaging speaker for your next conference? Do you want to deliver a story to stakeholders that will transform data dumping to engaging business conversations? Do you want to feel that the value a speaker provides your audience far exceeds the dollar value on their invoice? Then, book Peter for your next conference, management retreat, or workshop. Contact Peter at peter@petermargaritis.com and visit his web site at www.petermargaritis.com. By the way, one of his Fortune 50 clients actually made the comment about the value he brings to your audience.

Peter Margaritis: [00:05:21] I have put in the show notes the links to Brian and Nick’s LinkedIn pages, along with links to their podcast on a variety of podcast platforms. Now, let’s get to the interview with Brian and Nick. Hey, welcome back, everybody. Welcome to Season 3. And man, do I have a guest, or let me rephrase that, I have guests for you that are very interesting and very funny. Just from the start of this, I should have started recording this, because this would have made a great blooper reel to show later on. I’d like to, one, first thank my guests, Nick Lozano and Brian Comerford, for taking time out of their busy schedule to spend some time with me. And welcome, gentlemen, to Change Your Mindset podcast.

Nick Lozano: [00:06:16] Thanks for having us on, Peter.

Brian Comerford: [00:06:16] Thank you, Peter.

Peter Margaritis: [00:06:18] I have to admit to the audience, I’m surprised they accepted my invitation, because I was on their podcast and after we were done, I didn’t think they would ever come on my podcast. They were just like, "Oh, who is this crazy guy?"

Brian Comerford: [00:06:34] Anyone who calls himself The Accidental Accountant and has a podcast called Change of Mindset, you’re right up my alley.

Peter Margaritis: [00:06:42] I appreciate that. And with your guys’ background, I love your interview style, you guys did a great job. And once again, I’ll thank Roxanne Kaufman-Elliott for the introduction. Plug, plug. And how did you guys come about? Were you guys sitting around one day—because, Brian, you’re in Colorado and Nick’s in D.C., did you guys come around one day and to find each other and go, "Hey, I got a great idea. Let’s start a podcast."

Nick Lozano: [00:07:11] Well, on the seventh day—no. So, Brian and I met each other through my day job, which I run a CIO Mastermind working group, which Brian is actually a member of. And the podcast kind of started just basically with Brian and I having conversations either before the conference or after the conference. So, just kind of turned into a point, where I was like, "Man, we should probably just record this." Brian has a broadcasting background and I have a broadcast—not broadcasting, jeez, you know, myself, credential I don’t have. I have an audio background. I’ve produced couple of podcasts for my day job and things in the past and done some audio work when I was in high school. So, it’s just kind of a match made in heaven. And Brian and I can talk forever, I guess, you know.

Peter Margaritis: [00:08:03] Is that valid, Brian?

Brian Comerford: [00:08:06] That is valid, yeah. So, you know, Nick and I, I think there was, you know, we’ll call it harmonic resonance from the outset. You know, it’s the kind of thing where he and I, I think, just kind of play off each other very naturally in just an ordinary conversation. But in particular, in the working group that he referred to, you know, just the interaction that we had, the amount of topics that we feel, kind of perspectives that we had, that we felt were both valid, but also, kind of coming from directions that were maybe not as conventional as some of the other members of the working group.

Brian Comerford: [00:08:48] And it felt like something where, you know, there was an opportunity for us to really explore this and kind of open it up into more of a community setting or a public setting. Well, I’ve got to credit, Nick, because he’s really the one that came forward and he said, you know, "I mean, we’re doing a lot of talking here that could be valuable to others, why don’t we just create a podcast? Let’s just do it." And, you know, following his lead, we jumped in and I’m so thankful that we have, because we’ve been doing it for a little over a year now. And it’s been hugely gratifying and it’s just great to get feedback from the audience that we’ve been able to develop over time.

Peter Margaritis: [00:09:28] That’s cool. So, just in case those who are listeners kind of went fast-forwarded through the introduction, give the audience just a little bit of your background. And we’ll start with Nick.

Nick Lozano: [00:09:38] Okay. So, I’d like to say how I got into technology, I walked into a room, and that’s really not a joke. I walked into a room. So, to give you a little bit back on myself, you know, when I first got out of high school, I did paint and body work as an auto mechanic guy. And then, I decided I didn’t want to huff fumes anymore and that was bad for my health. I would have think breathing in dust would be bad for you. So then, I kind of went back to college.

Nick Lozano: [00:10:08] And I was working in restaurants. I was a professional chef for a little while, worked at different hotels and resorts during my time. And, you know, I just decided I had to do something different. And I always had this knack and interest in technology. So, I went to a community college and kind of just got a generally AA, which is how I recommend everyone to go to college, go and get a general AA, get it as cheap as you can and then, go to a state school. So, I did that.

Nick Lozano: [00:10:36] And then, lo and behold, here, I’m at the University of Central Florida and I have to declare a major, because I’m, you know, a rising junior. And they’re like, "Well, you know, you need to decide what you’re going to do." And this one guy walks by, he’s a professor, he’s like, "You don’t know what you want to do?" He’s like, "Just come with me to this room." Lo and behold, I became a management of information systems student, kind of how I got into technology. And then, I’ve worked in roles at consulting firms. I own a small boutique consulting firm. And then, I wound up where I am now. So, I am kind of like you, Peter, I accidentally wound up where I am. I don’t know how I wound up here, but here I am.

Peter Margaritis: [00:11:15] So, where you are now and according to your LinkedIn page, you’re the janitor where?

Nick Lozano: [00:11:21] I’m the janitor, it’s very long. I’m the janitor at the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers. It’s an insurance trade association in Washington, D.C.

Peter Margaritis: [00:11:32] And just for the record, because I’ve seen it a couple places, so I had to go validate it. And I went out to this website and was snooping around and found out that you’re actually not the janitor, you’re the director of technology with a great sense of humor.

Nick Lozano: [00:11:47] Well, you know, if you look at my LinkedIn profile, it actually says my current job listed as a janitor and it’s even my tag line. I just don’t ever take myself seriously. And the whole janitor thing came up with a conversation I have with people on LinkedIn. I was like, you know, I wonder how many people would actually have conversations with me if they just thought I was a janitor. And the one thing it’s actually done, has driven people to my profile, because I’ll be on LinkedIn talking about leadership or podcasting or something, they’re like, "Wait, this guy’s a janitor?" They’re like, "No way."

Nick Lozano: [00:12:20] And then, lo and behold, I had a conversation with somebody that day and they’re like, "Okay. So, like, why did you make it a janitor?" I was like, "I don’t know. I just want to see if somebody would talk to me. It’s an experiment. I’m a highly curious individual." And they go on and on, they’re like, "Okay. Well, I’m looking at your profile, so what are you trying to sell?" I’m like, "I’m not trying to sell anything. I just want it to be funny", you know.

Peter Margaritis: [00:12:42] "Are you selling cleaning materials? I want to buy some."

Nick Lozano: [00:12:44] Exactly. Well, LinkedIn is still the internet, right? So, I mean-

Peter Margaritis: [00:12:49] Cool. Brian, what about your background?

Brian Comerford: [00:12:53] So, I got into technology from a pretty oblique background myself. I was very interested in electronic music from a young age. I got a synthesizer and a drum machine the same year that MIDI came out. And that was really the beginning of learning how to cobble together technical equipment and pass signal from one thing to another. And pretty soon, I was working in a sequencing emulator in an old Atari personal computer. And, you know, pretty quickly, discovered that of all the kids I knew, I was one of the most technical.

Brian Comerford: [00:13:32] Although I never considered myself a technical person, I’ve always been an artist, honestly. I’m the son of a couple of artist and writer. And, you know, I really thought that I would go off and write screenplays and make movies, do film making. And all through my academic background, initially, that is exactly what I did. I’m on film arts, I’m on screenwriting. I worked more and more with technical equipment. You know, really creating things, using software, and kind of learned, you know, a lot about how you can apply automation principles within sort of an artistic context.

Brian Comerford: [00:14:15] Well, I never thought that that was going to lead into a deeper and deeper technical career. But in the mid-’90s, I got really intrigued—at a time that I was a DJ and a broadcast producer, and I got really intrigued by something called Real Audio. And I started talking to other people about it. And I said, "Hey, this is really cool. You know, there’s this thing now where you can actually stream audio on the web." And no one cared. But I was really fascinated with it. I just happened to be producing a program that a couple of my co-producers and I wrote a grant to get a real producer license and started webcasting our program.

Brian Comerford: [00:14:59] And that really kind of started me, you know, this internet radio thing right at the beginning of kind of the swell of the .com wave. And, you know, how could I possibly have seen that I’d be getting into one of the most volatile industries with everything that happened to the music industry. But I got really deep into everything that was going on with digital distribution in the music industry throughout the remainder of the ’90s, went through my own bouts of litigation, as many, you know, audio companies did, not for doing anything wrong, but just because that became, you know, the main play for the Record Industry Association of America.

Peter Margaritis: [00:15:43] Right.

Brian Comerford: [00:15:44] It was, sue everybody. That will slow this down.

Peter Margaritis: [00:15:47] Yeah, that works.

Brian Comerford: [00:15:50] And about the time that I was bottomed out financially, I thought, you know, it’s probably a good time to go back to grad school and get credentials for all this stuff that I’ve been doing for the last decade. So, I did. And I went and got a master’s degree in digital media and I’ve been doing a lot of independent consulting myself. Around that time, I had a friend who was a law clerk at a commercial insurance brokerage. He said, "Hey, I work for this company I’ve never heard of, in an industry that you didn’t know existed, but they need someone like you to come fix all of this stuff about the technology."

Brian Comerford: [00:16:28] And I thought it would be, you know, something like kind of a cool consulting engagement. And 15 years later, it’s what I’ve been doing for a long damn time now. It’s fortunate and, you know, that is the work that ultimately led me to be a member of the CIO Mastermind group that Nick has been steering for many years now and to be able to collaborate with them and ultimately help him to help produce Lead.exe together.

Peter Margaritis: [00:17:00] That’s cool. So, you’ve mentioned the CIO working group. And it’s a Mastermind group. So, what’s the conversation like when you guys get together and own your masterminding? What topics are discussed? What do you guys talk about?

Nick Lozano: [00:17:22] You would think that getting everybody together would be them talking about what customer relationship management system they’re going to use, right? But it never really gets to that. I think the big topic that we’ve seen the last couple of years is talent acquisition and talent development, right, Brian?

Brian Comerford: [00:17:40] Yeah.

Nick Lozano: [00:17:40] They’re like, "Okay. Well, you know, data science is big. We bought all this, you know, software to do data science. Now, we just need somebody to do it. Where do we find these people who do this?" And that’s been a big trend. And I would say cyber security, you know, and anything related on cyber security lately is a hot topic issue.

Brian Comerford: [00:17:59] So, Nick and I have been really interested in these areas that even though they get qualified as soft skills a lot, we don’t really consider them soft skills. We consider them essential leadership skills. And that ended up being something that pretty quickly, we realized that was really a sort of top agenda item, working group after working group. And for us, it’s been great, because it’s given us opportunities to schedule bringing in facilitators really to help conduct leadership training. And then, you know, we also develop a structured agenda for every working group so that we can do our best to kind of, you know, herd cats and keep everything pretty much, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:18:45] So, it’s interesting to bring a talent development cyber security, because in the world that I primarily deal in with accounting and finance professionals, talent development, talent retention, talent attraction seems to be either one or two for the past five years and some organizations have figured it out, some are still thinking it’s 1980.

Nick Lozano: [00:19:12] Thinking they’d get the gold watch in every retirement, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:19:15] Yeah. And it just boggles my mind sometimes that we get a pretty large workforce out there that’s coming and who don’t act like—because I’m a baby boomer, and who don’t operate in the same mindset that we do, but we expect them to morph into our world when really, we should be creating an environment that attracts them to stay in our world versus repel them out. Are you guys seeing the same thing?

Nick Lozano: [00:19:47] We’re seeing the same thing. And I know what word everyone thinks of as soon as they say this is that dreaded M word.

Peter Margaritis: [00:19:57] I hate that word.

Nick Lozano: [00:19:58] I hate it.

Brian Comerford: [00:19:58] That’s one of Nick’s favorite words.

Peter Margaritis: [00:19:59] Yeah.

Nick Lozano: [00:20:00] And no. Yeah. It is my favorite word by far. What I mean, sometimes, I’m in that generation, sometimes, I’m not, being born in ’82. But when I always think of people are always criticizing the millennial generation, they’ve kind of been a punching bag and now, it’s kind of shifting to that Gen Z, right?

Brian Comerford: [00:20:17] Yeah.

Nick Lozano: [00:20:17] Now, they’re starting to be sort of the punching bag. But I always say that, you know, older generations have always criticized younger generations since the beginning of time. You know, I always bring it back to this one quote. It’s, "They think they know everything and they are quite sure about it." You know who said that?

Peter Margaritis: [00:20:34] Who said that?

Nick Lozano: [00:20:38] That was Aristotle in the Rhetoric, in 4th BC. So-

Peter Margaritis: [00:20:43] Wow.

Nick Lozano: [00:20:43] … I mean, we’re talking about since the beginning of time. And what I always tell people is when you hear these things about millennials, take the word millennial off of it and just put people, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:20:55] Yeah.

Nick Lozano: [00:20:55] People love to work for a purpose. People love to know what they’re working for. People love to know they have a path for career growth. People just love to do that. And I think what we’ve seen is that over time, the internet has just made it easier to find like-minded people, where previous generations didn’t have, you know, instantly, to post something on Reddit and saying how they feel or Twitter and somebody could see it instantly in real time. Now, these younger generations can find those people more easily.

Nick Lozano: [00:21:22] And I think their voice is just being heard. I don’t think we’re seeing anything new, at least in my opinion, that wasn’t there before. It’s just more front and center. And before, you know, leaders were just kind of like, "Well, you know, I hired Johnny over here and we pay him well. So, he’ll just stay here for 20 years and we won’t worry about developing him, you know, talent-wise, turning him into a leader, actually caring about our people. We don’t need to worry about that, because he’ll just stay here for 20 years.

Peter Margaritis: [00:21:49] Brian?

Brian Comerford: [00:21:49] Well, I will chime in and say that I fall squarely in Gen X. And the first time that I remember someone in our organization referring to millennials and they had sort of this list of things that we had to be aware about, because these were the behaviors and expectations, these different things. I looked at it and I thought there’s not a single thing here that doesn’t describe me. But I also, you know, consider myself to be more socially progressive.

Brian Comerford: [00:22:18] I’ve also been very involved in the evolution in technology and have been with the web since its release 1993. So, it’s something that, you know, has just always been part of my own set of behavioral characteristics. So, to then suddenly hear that there’s this demographic ball of fire made me realize that really, we’ve got sort of this segment of the population that just didn’t know what time it is. And, you know, now, they’ve been caught off guard by a whole demographic of, you call them digital natives pretty typically, right?

Brian Comerford: [00:22:59] It’s just people who are really comfortable living in an interconnected world that, you know, we’re linking things to be a hypertext, as, you know, there’s nothing revolutionary about it. I mean, that’s actually a qualifier for how people start to think and interact. And, you know, it’s a social media context becomes part of just your social context. So, all of those things, to me, there was nothing revolutionary going on other than suddenly, a demographic. People suddenly woke up to the fact that, "Well, wait a second, you know, things have changed." And, you know, there’s kind of two impulses. One is, "I’m change-averse by nature. Therefore, I want to try to put a stop to this."

Peter Margaritis: [00:23:40] Right.

Brian Comerford: [00:23:40] Impossible to do, right? And so, if I can’t put a stop to it, I’m going to criticize it or if people are going to take it and try to make it into part of their own personal set of behavioral characteristics, and I think we’ve started to see, you know, more of an awareness that change is just going to continue. Figuring out how we imbue that change in, you know, things that either from a business perspective or from a talent acquisition perspective, right? How do we bring those things and make it part of the collective demographic versus it’s an us and them kind of thing? We’re still sort of in that gray zone navigating through a lot of that, but it feels like it’s improved.

Peter Margaritis: [00:24:27] I think it’s an improvement. If you think about the baby boomer when they entered the workforce, their bosses were the greatest generation, right? The silent generation, how we describe them. And those folks went through the depression. They went through very tough times in this country. And then, here come the baby boomers, let’s see, make love, not war. You know, Haight-Ashbury, the whole drug scene and the Vietnam War and the counter of culture.

Peter Margaritis: [00:24:56] They forget that, because the older generation is looking at them, "What is that music? You know, who’s that Elvis Presley guy", you know, and stuff. And looked at them in the same way that the boomers always kind of look at the younger generation. And I think I realized when I was teaching at Ohio Dominican University, when my group of seniors were going on to the workforce, I’d take them aside and I’d give a little piece of advice. But they were talented.

Peter Margaritis: [00:25:23] I said, "You know stuff that my peers have no clue and they know stuff that you have no clue. Find a way to build the bridge. Don’t look at anybody any differently, but just know that you’ve got talents that they don’t have and they have talents that you don’t have. And if you can align them together, you’ll come out at the end. And just try to take that stereotype out." But I’m like, if I hear another person, "They’re millennials", "Those millennials are multi-billionaires.".

Peter Margaritis: [00:25:54] I don’t know, some guy named Zuckerberg or something like that and who’ve created these organizations to grow and thrive. And by the way, has anybody been to Sears lately?" I mean, so I think that’s kind of how it’s all—but we do need to change that mindset, to be more inclusive and realize that. You know, my son’s a Gen Z and he’s mastering it, because he’s a Gen Zzzz. He’s going to sleep his way to the top.

Nick Lozano: [00:26:30] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:26:30] So, what challenges do you see in your world out there that people are talking a lot about outside of the talent and development and obviously, cyber security will always be there, but in this leadership soft skill genre?

Nick Lozano: [00:26:46] I would say emotional intelligence just in general, right, Brian?

Brian Comerford: [00:26:50] For sure.

Nick Lozano: [00:26:50] You know, as technology leaders are always very keen on their technical skills, they keep up with what Amazon’s doing, what Microsoft’s doing, what the latest coding language is, but they spend very little time looking at research about, you know, any emotional intelligence, self-awareness, meditation, breath work, like none of that stuff nobody ever looks at. And that’s kind of our thinking with bringing our podcast. Really, our podcast could be just a leadership podcast. But we’re tech guys and we gear it towards tech people, because we know that these issues don’t come forefront to them.

Nick Lozano: [00:27:24] In the easy emotional intelligence world, I think it’s self-awareness, right? We go back to the boomer, millennial thing, Gen Z, it’s just being aware that you possibly have some biases, right? You know, being in this generation, being older, you know, looking down at younger generations or younger generations looking up at older generations saying, "Well, you know, not looking at them for their experience, you know, tapping into their experience to get some advice or some information." I would say for me, self-awareness and caring are two big things I see lacking in leaders, in general.

Peter Margaritis: [00:27:59] Brian?

Brian Comerford: [00:28:00] Well, I think a component of that, you know, we’re kind of having fun at Nick earlier for having janitor as his job title on LinkedIn, but part of that mindset we referred to for years is the custodial mindset. And so, within the business, there tends to be this perception that anyone who’s working in IT, they’re the trolls in the back room. Like we only summon them when we currently need something or something needs to be fixed or cleaned up, right? But in terms of inviting them to have a seat at the table and be thought leaders, not organization, it tends not to be at the forefront of companies that aren’t tech companies to begin with, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:28:40] Right.

Brian Comerford: [00:28:40] So, you know, part of that self-awareness is the understanding that actually, today in the 21st century, raw tech companies, raw data companies. And actually, having our tech leadership very close to the executive leadership, having that seat at the table, it’s really critical to help ensure that your business is evolving and transforming when it needs to. So, that’s another component that I think it ends up being a topic that we arrive at pretty frequently, whether or not it’s something that, you know, for instance, in our working group, ends up being an overt agenda item. It’s one that just continually comes up.

Peter Margaritis: [00:29:24] When I mentioned emotional intelligence or do social-emotional intelligence to finance and accounting professionals, I get this, "Oh, dear God. I mean, this is going to be a poll. What? This is a touchy, feely stuff?".

Nick Lozano: [00:29:38] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:29:38] And I watch these for these emotions, this body language and I think I said this on you guys’ podcast, you know, I ask them this question, "By the way, guys, what business are you in?" "You know, we’re in accounting, finance, we’re in auditing, we’re tax." "No, no. That’s not the business that you’re in, that’s a byproduct of what you’re in." I try to get them just a little bit agitated enough, "No, you’re in the people business." And that’s first and foremost in every business that’s out there, I think, people business.

Peter Margaritis: [00:30:02] In order to be better at your business, you have to understand yourself as a person and your organization as people and that brings in the importance of emotional intelligence. And that’s what the big thing is and it’s starting to resonate with them. But I don’t think that Sheldon Cooper-type of character mentality, the way they’ve crafted him in the Big Bang Theory, who’s socially awkward, who, you know, has no filter, and doesn’t care about people’s feelings, it’s harder for that linear left brain person to adapt and want to adapt into that touchy, feely type of stuff. But the more that we can learn about it, the better that we can be in growing our businesses.

Brian Comerford: [00:30:53] You know, even thinking about it from the perspective of not even necessarily the touchy, feely stuff, but, you know, we hear a lot about performance management in organizations, the importance of it. And, you know, you’ve got to have these quarterly check-ins and you’ve got to work with your direct reports to establish goals and all these things. It’s this very structured sort of rote, repetitive kind of behavior. But the emotional intelligence component of it is just interact with them like people and have regular conversations.

Peter Margaritis: [00:31:24] Right.

Brian Comerford: [00:31:24] And disclose your expectations and, you know, make sure that you’re actually communicating in a way so that everyone feels included and up-to-date on things that are going on. And then, all this performance management stuff actually goes out the window. It is just happening, because it’s part of your culture. So, to me, that’s a component of emotional intelligence. When I see someone roll their eyes when I use that phrase, to me, that’s one of those places that I go, because a lot of people are like, "Oh, yeah. Well, performance management, well, that’s obviously critically important.

Nick Lozano: [00:31:58] Yeah.

Brian Comerford: [00:31:58] Emotional intelligence, maybe not", you know.

Nick Lozano: [00:32:00] "What are the KPIs we’re trying to hit here?"

Brian Comerford: [00:32:03] Exactly.

Nick Lozano: [00:32:03] It is on the huhs, knows. So, I think Brian touched on a very good point, and this is the way it was taught to me years ago. It’s like one of my first management roles was working in a restaurant, being assistant kitchen manager, and like working with people who are like 19, 20 years old, who are rough-cut bunch of pirates. If you ever read the Anthony Bourdain book, you know. People who work in kitchens are going to be very interesting individuals.

Nick Lozano: [00:32:34] And I remember the chef coming up to me one time, he’s like, he goes, "All right. You know, Nick, I want you to walk your shift." I was like, "Okay, you just me to walk around and, you know, make sure the floors are clean, you know, like things are labeled today?" He’s like, "No, I want you to walk your shift." I’m like, "Well, Chef, I’m sorry. I don’t really understand what you’re doing. I can physically walk around here. What are you trying to get at?" He’s like, "No, every day when you’re in here", he’s like, "I want you to walk around and talk to everybody and have genuine conversations with them like they’re human beings.".

Nick Lozano: [00:33:03] He’s like, "Have a real quick five-minute conversation. Find out who someone’s kids are. You know, walk over here. Is this person going to school? What are they doing at school? Have a genuine interest in them as individuals and care about them and then, they will care about you. They will do anything they need to do for you if you genuinely care about them." And for me, that’s all emotional intelligence is, it’s just genuinely caring about the people that you work with, right? As soon as you understand as a leader that you work for the people that you’re managing, not the other way around, emotional intelligence comes out so much easier than trying to force it on, just in my opinion.

Peter Margaritis: [00:33:41] So, yes, when we have that servant leadership approach. So, when I think of emotional intelligence and I’m thinking of one word, what is the biggest killer of emotional intelligence or what stops somebody from embracing emotional intelligence? There’s one word I’m thinking, has three letters in it.

Nick Lozano: [00:34:01] That’s going to be the—what do you think there, Brian?

Brian Comerford: [00:34:09] One word, three letters. Okay. Well-

Peter Margaritis: [00:34:11] And we all have it. And we all have it.

Brian Comerford: [00:34:14] … Ego.

Peter Margaritis: [00:34:15] Ego. Ego. Our ego gets in the way. Our ego stops us from really accepting emotional intelligence. I had a guy in one of my classes, sessions in Minnesota and I knew I’d recognized him before and he’s an attorney who’s a CPA, who is this smartest guy in the room, just ask him. And he’ll tell you he’s the smartest guy in the room, "And I think this is worthy of your time." And it was just like he has absolutely no emotional intelligence, because it’s all about him and not about everybody else.

Nick Lozano: [00:34:51] Yeah.

Brian Comerford: [00:34:52] Well, I think they can go back to that same sense of divide when you’re talking about, you know, millennials versus whatever other generational demographic. You know, as long as there’s an us and them mentality instead of a we mentality, then, you know, that part that’s getting fed, right? It’s the ego. It’s the, I’ve got the title, I’ve got these years of experience, these things make me important. You know, from a societal perspective, you know, we’re all act animals, right?

Brian Comerford: [00:35:26] I mean, we thrive on having some kind of gratification with that status. And so, the more emotionally intelligent you become, the more you’re able to check your ego at the door and recognize that there’s probably a lot to be learned. I actually closed my mouth and listen. And I think it cuts both ways. You know, certainly, many younger generational people I met were very cavalier and confident, because they just figured something out, so therefore, they must know everything, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:36:01] Nick?

Nick Lozano: [00:36:02] Yeah, I think you just described me at 19 years old. "I’ll stay at the back of this truck. We’ll be due at 50? It’s fine." Yeah. And I think I would agree with Brian. You know, that left-brain mentality, when you’re used to being the smartest person in the room, you have to be able to just sit there and let people fully flush out ideas before you say anything." You know, it’s listening to hear what somebody is saying instead of waiting to respond, right?

Nick Lozano: [00:36:36] And thinking about what your next response is. It’s truly being open and understanding that there never is any right or wrong answer, you know, there’s just a different answer. And that’s my opinion. And, you know, I’ll go back to another thing, too and we’re talking about this, it’s, you got to be vulnerable a little bit, right? One thing I always like to tell people who work with me is things that I’ve screwed up. I’ve screwed up a number of things like, "How about the one time I actually tripped over a server room cable off and took the whole office internet down for 25 minutes, for the time I shut a server off and go, ‘This will turn back on’, and it never did?"

Nick Lozano: [00:37:16] So, like I always like to share with people, you know, like I make mistakes, I’m human. Therefore, I’m not expecting you to be perfect in here. And with that mentality is when you have to be right, you have a hard time being vulnerable, because, you know, you have to be right. But I would say, "Let’s just share something that everybody’s kind of messed up. Let’s have a fail fest right now and just go over everything you failed with, kind of open up and get everyone kind of comfortable with each other to get used to the idea that you don’t have to be right and that you can mess things up." And everybody messes everything up. If somebody works in technology and has told you they have never screwed something up, they are lying to you.

Brian Comerford: [00:37:57] That’s an interesting point, Nick, because, you know, I think the key attribute of emotional intelligence to be able to disclose things in that way is having that implicit trust and knowing that it’s okay to be able to disclose those things. Particularly in technology, because, you know, we work in an industry where the expectation is there’s, you know, tool for tolerance, right? I mean, there’s just no margin for error in things. And, you know, to admit that you screwed up can sometimes cost you your job, right?

Nick Lozano: [00:38:36] Yeah.

Brian Comerford: [00:38:36] Or, at least gets you demoted to a desk in the basement. But when you do have a high degree of emotional intelligence and it spans the entire team, that’s when you’re really able to be capable of having those conversations, where you can say something like, you know, "Hey, here’s the mistake I made, I wanted to make sure that you’re aware of it."

Peter Margaritis: [00:38:57] Well, if we had a fail fest, we’ll have enough time on this podcast. Should we even start, this would be like an 18-hour, 14 different segments piece. But, you know, I have to commend you, too. I didn’t realize you are both excellent improvisers, because-

Nick Lozano: [00:39:17] That’s right. I am a janitor, you know.

Peter Margaritis: [00:39:18] And that’s right, but-

Nick Lozano: [00:39:19] A lowly janitor, humble janitor.

Peter Margaritis: [00:39:22] But in improv, I mean, Nick said it and, you know, it’s listening to understand versus listening to respond. In improv, it’s about suspending judgement. Otherwise, leave your ego at the door. In improv, it’s about being vulnerable. In improv, it’s not about me, it’s about the team. And everything that you guys have said up to this point has resonated in my world of improv. And most people don’t realize it, but when I sit there and dissect, they go, "Oh. That’s cool. Well, you want to get up on stage in a theater?" And then, they shut right down. But I’d rather have those folks out there going, "Okay. Now, I’m aware of it. Now, let me use it", versus, "I’m just kind of blindly doing this." And you guys have just demonstrated tremendously.

Brian Comerford: [00:40:14] Wow. That says a lot coming from an improv master like yourself. Well, thank you.

Peter Margaritis: [00:40:21] Oh, well, you know, everybody I meet—let me rephrase that. 93% of the people that I meet are improvisers, they just don’t realize it. Nobody has explained it to them. That remaining percentage will never become improvisers because it’s about them, it’s about their ego, as well as what’s in it for them, not what’s in it for the group. And then, it’s fun to watch when I mentioned it, because it is a leadership tool that really, this environment, this world thrives. It wasn’t going to thrive in the ’70s and ’80s and ’90s. But now that we’ve morphed into this over the last 20 years, it’s become a much more powerful tool in the workplace if we can get past corporate culture and the ego and be vulnerable, which is so extremely difficult in corporate America these days.

Brian Comerford: [00:41:17] I’ll share a little anecdote to your peers.

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:19] Okay.

Brian Comerford: [00:41:20] Since first meeting you-

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:21] Uh-oh.

Brian Comerford: [00:41:21] I’ve been turning my son onto improv. And of course, I have to be cautious about, you know, which content I’ve been exposing him to, since he is eleven.

Peter Margaritis: [00:41:33] Yeah.

Brian Comerford: [00:41:33] But, you know, something that was-

Nick Lozano: [00:41:34] He has the internet, Brian. It’s all over that.

Brian Comerford: [00:41:37] Well, maybe I control his internet. But, you know, my wife is Thai. And Thai people, you know, in Thailand, there’s pretty much one guy who’s a stand up comic, because it’s not really something that is, you know, culturally common, the idea of, you know, exposing yourself in that way in Asian culture, in general.

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:04] Yeah.

Brian Comerford: [00:42:04] It’s more about, you know, you kind of fade into the group, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:07] Right. Right.

Brian Comerford: [00:42:08] So, it was interesting, because we found this Canadian improv troop that does everything, you know, family friend. And we’re watching one of his episodes and me and my son, we’re just having the greatest time. And my wife could not figure out where the joke was. And it was a lot of fun, you know, kind of getting to explain it to her and see her start to open up to it, because the idea from her perspective that, you know, you would just kind of be riffing off on each other and that this thing would constantly be evolving rather than, you know, it’s a joke that is told with a beginning, middle, and end.

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:46] Right.

Brian Comerford: [00:42:46] Right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:47] Right.

Brian Comerford: [00:42:48] It was pretty interesting seeing how eye-opening—so I just thought that would be a little fun thing to share.

Peter Margaritis: [00:42:55] I appreciate that. It is. I so love improv, because when you’re doing it for theatrical purposes or onstage and there’s an audience that you want to make them laugh, the word, and, can bring the audience to its knees in how it’s being used. And there is no, per se, script, it’s all, you know—but when you do stand-up comedy, stand-up comedy, it’s the premise and the punchline and the tags. And there is a structure there, where in improv, there is no structure. And when you start studying improv and learning that the principles are really business tools, it makes a corporate workplace a lot more fun, but you have to have everybody that’s buying in on, you just can’t be the only one trying to do it. And then, going, "Who’s this crazy guy?"

Brian Comerford: [00:43:41] That’s right. My wife would be the one that we be off as she’s the one who doesn’t get it.

Peter Margaritis: [00:43:44] Yeah.

Brian Comerford: [00:43:47] Right.

Peter Margaritis: [00:43:47] Right. That we shouldn’t be laughing and having fun at work, this is serious stuff. It is serious, but if we want to get through the day and be sane, we should be able to have some fun. And this is not about, you know, telling jokes like a priest, a rabbi, and Bill Clinton walk into a bar. "I did not walk into that bar. I did not walk into that bar." It’s not about that, because you’ve offended three different groups of people then. It’s about an attitude, it’s about a mindset.

Peter Margaritis: [00:44:19] As Nick said, he didn’t take himself seriously. He’s a janitor. But are you serious about your work? Absolutely. But you don’t take yourself too seriously and you’re vulnerable. And if we could devise a drug or something that people could take or realize—and I think it’s an improv class. My improv coach said a long time ago, "If everybody took one improv class, this world would be a better place." And to get everybody to buy in on that concept. So, I challenge you guys to take an improv class. You can-

Nick Lozano: [00:44:55] Challenged accepted.

Brian Comerford: [00:44:56] Challenge accepted.

Peter Margaritis: [00:44:59] … take your 11-year-old son with you to it. Now that he’s still, you know, kind of, "Oh, dad’s the smartest guy in the world" versus I tried to get my 17-year-old son to go with me and, "Dad, really? Go with you to do what?"

Nick Lozano: [00:45:15] "Doing this thing with my dad?"

Peter Margaritis: [00:45:16] Right. Yeah. So-

Nick Lozano: [00:45:17] And then, you’ll surprise him and pull up TikTok and film the whole thing, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:45:24] Brian, can you translate that for me? What’s a TikTok? You know, the clock?

Nick Lozano: [00:45:27] No. TikTok is probably the number one growing social media platform there.

Peter Margaritis: [00:45:35] Okay.

Brian Comerford: [00:45:35] And that have been for some time, so that makes it-

Nick Lozano: [00:45:36] Yeah.

Brian Comerford: [00:45:36] … a little extra old

Peter Margaritis: [00:45:38] So, both of you just called me grandpa, I appreciate that. And there are times that I am. There are times that I don’t—I know enough. My wife’s boss, years ago, and she was with Macy’s for 35 years, so later, her boss called her technologically Amish. I’m far beyond that. But probably not up to your guys’ level. Willing to learn.

Nick Lozano: [00:46:18] It’s okay. I had someone who was a recent college graduate who didn’t know how to use Excel at one point in time. So, it just runs the whole gambit. Just because some is an older generation or younger doesn’t mean they don’t know technology or know technology better, just in my experience. I’ve had the phone call where somebody told me they couldn’t get the foot pedal on the computer to work.

Brian Comerford: [00:46:43] My goodness. Wow.

Nick Lozano: [00:46:45] And that would be a computer mouse on the floor. So, you get support tickets, you have to try to not laugh. And for real, it happens.

Peter Margaritis: [00:46:58] Oh, my God, that’s hilarious. I can’t get the foot pole on my computer to work.

Nick Lozano: [00:47:02] Oh, yeah. If you ever want a good laugh, just look at the system madmen sub-Reddit on Reddit. They have some very interesting support calls on there.

Peter Margaritis: [00:47:12] You know, when I think of technology, I think if you’re not used to it, you’re fearful of it. And it’s getting past that fear and wanting to learn and realize it takes time. You’re not going to learn just like that, we don’t learn anything just like that.

Brian Comerford: [00:47:32] Sure.

Peter Margaritis: [00:47:32] But it’s technology and people want—and if they don’t, I don’t want—my IT desk is 19 years old and he’s upstairs and he tried—I don’t know if my wife still listens to this or not, I don’t want to go through hell—he’s, you know, trying to get her to become more technically savvy and she just throws her hands up like, "I don’t want to live with it." It’s like, "Well, you kind of got to." You know, actually, you don’t have to, but the more that you know and the more that you’re on social media, the more you can hear the conversation out there that you should be aware of."

Brian Comerford: [00:48:08] You know, it’s funny, most people are actually far more curious than they may believe themselves to be. And when it comes to technology, it’s almost like that curiosity gets shelved because, you know, it’s a lot more safe. If I don’t go exploring with this thing, you know, what happens if I break it?

Nick Lozano: [00:48:29] Yeah.

Brian Comerford: [00:48:29] You know?

Peter Margaritis: [00:48:30] Right.

Brian Comerford: [00:48:31] But the funny thing is, we’re all inherently curious. We’re all moving towards wanting to gather more information about things. And, you know, I try to use that as one of those perception breakers, you know, for folks who find themselves really hung up about playing around with technology, it’s, use the same curiosity that you would have in just having a conversation with someone you just met, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:48:58] Right.

Brian Comerford: [00:48:58] It’s exploring in that exact same way.

Nick Lozano: [00:49:01] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:49:01] That comes in with the vulnerability, because when most people want to ask about it, they don’t want to seem like they’re just stupid, the reason why they don’t ask a lot of questions.

Brian Comerford: [00:49:10] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:49:10] I still remember I interviewed this woman, her name is Jody Padar. She’s a CPA in Chicago, but she’s very technically savvy and she was talking about bots a couple years ago, we go—bots can be the—I said, "Jodi, what the hell is a bot?" And she laughed. And she was, "I thought I told you that on the last time you interviewed me" And then, she goes, I think, "Do you know what block chain is?" I said, "Yeah, it’s an intestinal disorder. What is it?" But as I’ve said it and I’ve gone, "Okay, you know what, I need to understand this stuff", so I’ve tried to learn more about it all over the years.

Peter Margaritis: [00:49:47] But I see a lot—I mean, you guys are up to speed with this, but I see a lot of people in the accounting world particularly go, "This is a fad. We’ll never going to-" And I’m like, "Guys. You know, it’s here. Artificial intelligence in the workplace is here. Artificial intelligence, I’ve got one here. I have one back there. I’ve got-" I’m not going to say her name because she always answers me, it starts with an A. And then, I got some hobo over here that, you know, kind of bounce them off each other, give them equal time. But, you know, I think the more that we embrace technology, the more productive and curious we become.

Nick Lozano: [00:50:24] I mean, you know, artificial intelligence, which is a whole thing within itself, I always tell people, you know, when—AI is the big buzzword now, right? But I equate the word AI to like, say, in a car, right? There are parts in a car that are separate all on its own. There’s a transmission. There’s a gear shifter. There’s all this. But you don’t refer to each part component itself, right? You just refer to the whole device as a car.

Nick Lozano: [00:50:50] Well, AI is kind of like that. There are components of it. There’s computer vision, there’s geographic information systems, there’s machine learning. So, AI is kind of like this big term that the media likes to use, but it’s kind of like saying, you know, you went to college at the University of Kentucky, but, you know, there’s all these different minors and majors you can do. There’s more to it than just going to that school.

Peter Margaritis: [00:51:16] Yes, there was. But Nick, I mean, you did a very good job of creating that analogy, telling a story about something that’s more complicated. And a lot of folks who—one thing a lot of folks have a hard time, especially when they understand a complex language, to put it in a context that someone who doesn’t have that language can understand. Now, I’ve always thought of AI—so, my first interaction with AI was Allen Iverson, during watching him on a press conference about practice, but outside of—

Nick Lozano: [00:51:50] About practice?

Peter Margaritis: [00:51:51] Yeah, talking about practice. But then, when I think of AI, I think it in totality like I think of a car.

Nick Lozano: [00:51:56] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:51:57] But this is the first time somebody’s ever explained it to me like, "Oh, there’s more than that."

Nick Lozano: [00:52:01] Yeah. Because, you know, like your assistant you got there back on your desk, I’m not going to say it in case anyone is listening in their car or something or on their phone, you know, that has natural language processing in it, which takes the context of what you’re saying to try to figure out what you’re requesting, which is a part of artificial intelligence. And, you know, I can explain block chain to you real quick, too. You want to know what blockchain is in a nutshell?

Peter Margaritis: [00:52:25] Sure.

Nick Lozano: [00:52:25] I have a piece of paper, you have a piece of paper, Brian has a piece of paper. All right? And now, we can each write Change Your Mindset podcast on it, right? I write that, you write that, Brian writes that. Now, let’s check and verify that. Did you write that on your piece of paper?

Peter Margaritis: [00:52:41] Yes.

Nick Lozano: [00:52:41] Did Brian write that on a piece of paper? Did I write that on a piece of paper? Boom. That’s block chain. We just verified everything. We wrote everything on a ledger. We wrote it down. And then, we all agreed that that’s what we wrote. And it’s exactly the same. That’s block chain.

Peter Margaritis: [00:52:56] I got to go back and listen to this episode again. I mean, I kid you not, that is probably the simplest way—and I don’t mean there’s a bad way.

Nick Lozano: [00:53:08] Yeah. I mean, it’s definitely a lot more complicated than that.

Peter Margaritis: [00:53:11] Right.

Nick Lozano: [00:53:11] But in a nutshell, basically, it’s a distributed ledger where we go back and verify that each node, which is, you’re a node, I’m a node, Brian’s a node. Writing this information, we verify that what was written is correct. And if anyone comes back to us to verify that information, we go, "Hey, Nick, what did you write? Is that what you wrote? Hey, Peter, what did you write? Is that what’s there? Hey, Brian, would did you write? Is that there?" And if one of them is wrong, then something’s wrong with the system. So, block chain won’t let that happen, because it has all the checks and balances. But that’s it in a nutshell. So, you don’t have to worry anymore.

Peter Margaritis: [00:53:47] Okay. So, just on a side note, you need to write an article on explaining block chain. And I’m saying, writing about explaining block chain just the way you did and submit it to an accounting and finance organization or a national accounting and finance organization, because most people out there don’t have a clue. And-

Brian Comerford: [00:54:10] Which is funny, because block chain is probably more analogous to accounting systems than anything else.

Peter Margaritis: [00:54:16] Right. Exactly. And I mean, the way I kind of got understanding is if we look at block chain from a supply chain issue. So, you know, some said, you catch a tuna out Indian Ocean, you geo-tag it, and you bring in your geo-tag and you follow that trail all the way back, so when I’m sitting there eating my sushi, "Well, where did this come from?" Literally, I probably could figure out where that fish—how did it get from there to here and make sure it’s verified. And I know that Walmart just recently said that they’re mandating that their leafy supply chain, as in romaine lettuce, that they’ve mandated block chain to be part of the process.

Nick Lozano: [00:55:00] Yeah. And that-

Peter Margaritis: [00:55:01] I know a little bit more than I thought.

Nick Lozano: [00:55:03] You know a lot. And that the thing-

Brian Comerford: [00:55:03] You know, just don’t-

Nick Lozano: [00:55:04] The big got you-

Brian Comerford: [00:55:04] … wrap your ego up around being a node.

Nick Lozano: [00:55:10] There you go. So, the biggest thing of block chain is trust, right? You have to trust each of the nodes, right? That way, you’re writing this information. And that’s one of the big sticking points, is where these consortiums and things have broken off. It’s like, "Okay, well, can we trust this over here? We’re going to set these things of trust, you know, a theory and we’re going to put contracts on that." So, it just has grown from there. But, you know, like it’s just—basically in a nutshell, you know, almost like dual-entry accounting. That’s like-.

Peter Margaritis: [00:55:37] This is triple-entry accounting.

Nick Lozano: [00:55:39] Yeah, triple.

Peter Margaritis: [00:55:40] But you said the word, it’s trust.

Nick Lozano: [00:55:44] Yeah.

Peter Margaritis: [00:55:44] Because we’ve lost trust in the banking system, this cryptocurrency was born. And because I read a few things along those lines and listened to some stuff about how that came about and Target and Home Depot, why they got hacked and all that information went away, because there’s a one central server or in a block chain community, nobody owns it. It’s spread around and it’s much harder to hack when it’s not all in one central location. Nick’s looking at me-

Nick Lozano: [00:56:16] Brian looked like he was going to reply. So-

Peter Margaritis: [00:56:20] Well, no, Nick was looking at me going, "I’m not—I don’t—what? Let’s defer to Brian then."

Brian Comerford: [00:56:30] I’ve got my bitcoin and pinging me over here on Messenger.

Nick Lozano: [00:56:37] Odd fact, I lost, you know, maybe 20 bitcoins on a hard drive somewhere. When it first came out, they published it on Github, I put it up on a PC and run it overnight, wind up with 20 bitcoins and I don’t know, maybe my mom sent that hard drive to the Goodwill or something like that, you know. This would have been forever ago, Brian, when they first published it, you know, on Github.

Brian Comerford: [00:57:00] Oh, man.

Nick Lozano: [00:57:00] And I just messed with it. And now, like you’d had to spend so much money and power, it’s not even worth your time to mine it, right?

Brian Comerford: [00:57:08] That’s true. That must’ve been a pretty valuable hard drive.

Nick Lozano: [00:57:12] I don’t even know where it is, Brian.

Peter Margaritis: [00:57:16] Yeah, Bill Gates has it somewhere. He found it.

Nick Lozano: [00:57:19] Yeah. I don’t know, somebody probably shot it with a gun or something. You know, picked up at the thrift store, burned it. Who knows?

Peter Margaritis: [00:57:27] So, as we begin to wrap up, guys, the co-host of Lead.exe, what final words do you have for my audience?

Nick Lozano: [00:57:37] I would say just be vulnerable. You know, run towards failure and do things that scare you and do them often.

Peter Margaritis: [00:57:45] I like that. Brian?

Brian Comerford: [00:57:48] Love and laughter. They are words to live by.

Peter Margaritis: [00:57:52] So, how do we love and laugh in a workplace who may not see the value of that?

Brian Comerford: [00:58:01] You know, it’s more about you seeing the value of it, I think, because you can work with a lot of jerks. And the fact is, the only way it’s going to upset you is if you allow it to. So, love and laughter. You know, recognize them for where they’re at, be thankful that that’s not you, and make sure that you get a good giggle out of it every once in a while. When you think about it, man, that guy has got some bad karma coming his way.

Peter Margaritis: [00:58:29] So, where can everybody get in contact with you guys and find your podcast?

Nick Lozano: [00:58:36] Sure. So, you can find me on LinkedIn. I accept pretty much every, you know, connection request. Oddly enough, somebody asked me to buying bitcoin today. So, you know, I’m going to just go ahead and unconnect with him. So, I’m on LinkedIn. But if you send me one, you know, connection request, as long as you’re not trying to get me to buy a cryptocurrency, you know, I will accept. You can visit leadexe.com and we’ll shoot you, you know, all the information for that. And you can find our podcast on all the podcasting platforms, Apple, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher. We also publish on YouTube as well, too.

Peter Margaritis: [00:59:12] Cool. How can people find you, Brian?

Brian Comerford: [00:59:15] Yeah, same, LinkedIn. It’s really the go-to spot. And all the other places that Nick just read along with the podcast, freebie.

Nick Lozano: [00:59:26] Ditto.

Peter Margaritis: [00:59:29] Yeah, exactly. Just ditto. Well, guys, I appreciate you taking the time. It’s been a blast. I had a blast on your podcast. I wish you guys great success in the podcast and what you do. And I can’t wait until our paths actually cross and we’re physically across from each other. That will be a hoot.

Nick Lozano: [00:59:49] Yeah, I know.

Brian Comerford: [00:59:49] It’s going to be a block chain kind of improv. I can feel it.

Nick Lozano: [00:59:53] Hey, you know, we should actually do a live stream and call it that and see if anybody joins, right?

Peter Margaritis: [00:59:59] A block chain improv. All right.

Nick Lozano: [01:00:04] Block chain improv.

Brian Comerford: [01:00:06] That’s right.

Nick Lozano: [01:00:06] Hosted by a janitor, the accidental accountant.

Peter Margaritis: [01:00:14] And musician.

Brian Comerford: [01:00:14] Yeah, that’s right.

Nick Lozano: [01:00:14] Like, what the hell is this thing?

Peter Margaritis: [01:00:18] You guys are great. Thank you for your time. I appreciate it. And I look forward to our paths crossing soon.

Nick Lozano: [01:00:27] Alright. Thanks, Peter.

Brian Comerford: [01:00:27] Thanks, Peter. Thank you.

Peter Margaritis: [01:00:29] I would like to thank Brian and Nick for their time, their perspective, and their humor in sharing their leadership knowledge with you. How do you begin to change your mindset as relates to your leadership style? Think about this, really think about this and remember that you have to work on it every single day. Thank you for listening. And if you enjoyed this podcast, please take a moment and leave a review on iTunes or whatever platform you download your podcast from. Also, please subscribe and share this episode with a friend. Make today and every day your best day.

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